« НазадПродовжити »
no other tree. This might be the result of association, but when I search for the links in the chain, I am unable to find them. I am inclined to think that I love it simply for its own sake. In the excess of my devotion I am apt to wonder that poets do not oftener sing its praises. It has not the rugged majesty of the oak, nor the dignified grace of the elm, but to me it seems pre-eminently a social tree, and in the shadow of its branches, as in the society of a friend, I have a pleasing sense of home. I reverence the ancient oak, I admire the lofty elm, but it is under the beech that I always wish to rest. Its principal, and I think its most fascinating, characteristic is what-for want of a better word—I call leafiness, by which I mean that peculiar fulness and yet separateness of foliage which belongs to it alone among English trees, and which makes its crossing boughs and interlacing twigs a mass of exquisite forest embroidery. The sycamore has all its fulness, and the poplar all its separateness, of leafage ; but the one presents to the eye only an opaque mass of dull green, and the other has a certain fragmentariness of aspect which gives no promise of grateful shade. And so I choose the beech as the tree under which I think my thoughts, good, bad, and indifferent, and dream my, day-dreams, in which dryads and woodnymphs glide among the pine-stems, and naiads of beguiling beauty sing softly by the stream. Through all my meditations the music of that stream runs like a silver thread of melody, and I think how, for centuries before man was soothed by its lulling murmur, it babbled and chattered in the listening ear of God. Nor can I doubt that even the Infinite Mind found pleasure in the earthly music which fairly though faintly corresponded to celestial harmonies. For it is thus that He rejoices in the things that He has made. Not alone surely to awe the spirit or to gladden the heart of man was the sharp cloven mountain-peak upheaved into the still air, or the autumn leaves tinted with russet, and crimson, and gold; it must be that the Being whose work they are, and whose nature they mysteriously reveal, feels an ineffable incomprehensible joy in the ceaseless outlook upon these sacramental representations of Himself. They are indeed passages of heavenly poetry written not in words; blossomings of the Divine Nature whose only utility lies in their eternal beauty, which have no end outside of themselves save to declare His glory for whose pleasure they were created.
I do not find among Pelican's recorded thoughts on the influences of nature anything else so rounded and complete as this paper ; but that is not to be wondered at, for our visit to the Lakes was quite an exceptional treat. As a general rule, we had to content ourselves with landscape of a much more ordinary character, consisting for the most part of very long straight roads and very flat fields; but, luckily for Pelican, grass and trees were all that were necessary to make him perfectly happy. The green had such a fascination for him. I remember well how one bright day in June, when we were sitting on a grassy slope overlooking miles of sun-lighted meadow land, he broke a long silence by saying, “I wonder what it is in the nature of God that the colour of green represents and shows forth. There must be something, for He loves it so much that He has painted the whole earth with it. IVe have little bits of blue and crimson and yellow, and even of brown and black; but on the whole it is a green world. If He loves the green, He must do so because it corresponds to something in Himself, and the colour of the landscape is charged with some revelation which I suppose we should be able to read as plainly as the Sermon on the Mount if our eyes were only open to see the letters, and our hearts clear to make them into words."
Speculations like this were never with Pelican mere speculations without some kind of dogmatic basis to
After every flight into the empyrean he dropped down to earth again to try to find some principle of justification for his aerial excursion. What was said of Burke might be said of him, that he formed his opinions like a fanatic, and then defended them, or at any rate endeavoured to defend them, like a philosopher. He would have found very little difficulty, some basis even, for a fanciful hypothesis like the one just recorded. And indeed there is a considerable show of reason in its favour. Every action of an intelligent being ought to be characteristic; that is, everything which is produced ought to be a visible representation of some portion of the mind of the producer. The productions of men are, perhaps, never completely representative of their inner natures; but this is only because all human minds, even the most original, are to some extent under the bondage of conventionality; and therefore they act not altogether from their own spontaneous volitions, but from the volitions of the other minds among whom they move. Many of a man's actions have no individual character; they tell you nothing about himself, but only about the condition of the little world in which he lives. But the nature of God is not thus influenced ; His actions are not thus restrained ; and, therefore, each work of His is not only a work but a word, and everything which comes from His hand must of necessity be characteristic of Himself, must be representative of something in the Divine mind or heart.
The sonnets, to which reference has been made, were written very soon after the reverie in the wood. I think the latter of the two was suggested by Mr. Hinton's book, called “Man and his Dwelling-Place,” which Pelican was, just at that time, studying with great interest. His liking for it was hardly to be wondered at; for it is a book which presents the uncommon combination of ingenuity and earnestness, and abounds moreover, in instances of very rare and delicate spiritual insight. Minds who love to see thoughts sharply outlined would be repelled by it; but for Pelican its vague suggestiveness had a
a wonderful charm. He, like the author, had brooded over the mysterious link between man and nature, and had always maintained that some change in us, of what kind we know not, was all that was necessary for the full unveiling to us of the life and meaning of the universe. “I feel sometimes,” he said, “as if I were just on the brink of some great revelation, and I think other people feel so too; but then we never get over the brink. I wonder if death will take us over, or if it needs some other and more radical transformation.” And, then, with a gleam of fun in his eye,—"I think I know one or two people who would need something more than killing even to make them think Grasmere or Helvellyn a finer sight than a bale of cotton or a mutton chop.”
Let us hope these good people will not trouble themselves with Pelican's sonnets, for I very much fear that their attractions—if they have any—are neither cottony nor muttonish. Here they are :
POETRY AND POETRY.
Deep in the wood upon a bank I lay