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ground by that glorious enamel, by the companies of those soft, and countless, and peaceful spears. The fields! Follow but forth for a little time the thoughts of all that we ought to recognise in those words. All spring and summer is in them the walks by silent, scented paths-the rests in noonday heat-the joy of herds and flocks-the power of all shepherd life and meditation-the life of sunlight upon the world, falling in emerald streaks, and failing in soft blue shadows, where else it would have struck upon the dark mould or scorching dust-pastures beside the pacing brooks— soft banks and knolls of lowly hills-thymy slopes of down overlooked by the blue line of lifted sea-crisp lawns all dim with early dew, or smooth in evening warmth of barred sunshine, dinted by happy feet, and softening in their fall the sound of loving voices: all these are summed in those simple words; and these are not all.
We may not measure to the full the depths of this heavenly gift in our own land; though still, as we think of it longer, the infinite of that meadow sweetness, Shakespeare's peculiar joy, would open on us more and more, yet we have it but in part. Go out, in the spring-time, among the meadows that slope from the shores of the Swiss lakes to the roots of their lower mountains. There, mingled with the taller gentians and the white narcissus, the grass grows deep and free; and as you follow the winding mountain paths, beneath arching boughs all veiled and dim with blossom,-paths that for ever droop and rise over the green banks and mounds sweeping down in scented undulation, steep to the blue water, studded here and there with new-mown heaps, filling all the air with fainter sweetness,look up towards the higher hills, where the waves of everlasting green roll silently into their long inlets among the shadows of the pines; and we may, perhaps, at last know the meaning of those quiet words of the 147th Psalm, 'He maketh grass to grow up on the mountains.'
TO A SKYLARK
ETHEREAL minstrel ! pilgrim of the sky!
Dost thou despise the earth where cares abound?
To the last point of vision, and beyond,
Mount, daring warbler! that love-prompted strain'Twixt thee and thine a never-failing bond—
Thrills not the less the bosom of the plain :
Leave to the nightingale her shady wood;
LICHEN AND MOSSES.
We have found beauty in the tree yielding fruit, and in the herb yielding seed. How of the herb yielding no seed, the fruitless, flowerless lichen of the rock? Lichen and mosses (though these last in their luxuriance are deep and rich as herbage, yet both, for the most part, humblest of the green things that live), how of these? Meek creatures! the first
mercy of the earth, veiling with hushed softness its dintless rocks; creatures full of pity, covering with strange and tender honour the scarred disgrace of ruin,-laying quiet finger on the trembling stones, to teach them rest. No words that I know of will say what these mosses are. None are delicate enough, none perfect enough, none rich enough. How is one to tell of the rounded bosses of furred and beaming green,—the starred divisions of rubied bloom, fine-filmed, as if the Rock Spirits could spin porphyry as we do glass,— the traceries of intricate silver, and fringes of amber, lustrous, arborescent, burnished through every fibre into fitful brightness and glossy traverses of silken change, yet all subdued, and pensive, and framed for simplest, sweetest offices of grace? They will not be gathered, like the flowers, for chaplet or love token; but of these the wild bird will make its nest, and the wearied child his pillow.
And, as the earth's first mercy, so they are its last gift to us. When all other service is vain, from plant and tree, the soft mosses and grey lichen take up their watch by the headstone. The woods, the blossoms, the gift-bearing grasses, have done their parts for a time, but these do service for ever. Trees for the builder's yard, flowers for the bride's chamber, corn for the granary, moss for the grave.
Yet, as in one sense the humblest, in another they are the most honoured of the earth-children. Unfading as motionless, the worm frets them not, and the autumn wastes not. Strong in lowliness, they neither blanch in heat nor pine in frost. To them, slow-fingered, constant-hearted, is entrusted the weaving of the dark, eternal tapestries of the hills; to them, slow-pencilled, iris-eyed, the tender framing of their endless imagery. Sharing the stillness of the unimpassioned rock, they share also its endurance; and while the winds of departing spring scatter the white hawthorn blossom like drifted snow, and summer dims on the parched meadow the drooping of its cowslip-gold,-far above, among the mountains, the silver lichen-spots rest star-like on the stone; and
the gathering orange-stain upon the edge of yonder western peak reflects the sunsets of a thousand years.
OFFICE OF THE MOUNTAINS.
It is deeply necessary for all men to consider the magnificence of the accomplished purpose, and the depth of the wisdom and love which are manifested in the ordinances of the hills. For observe, in order to bring the world into the form which it now bears, it was not mere sculpture that was needed; the mountains could not stand for a day unless they were formed of materials altogether different from those which constitute the lower hills, and the surfaces of the valleys. A harder substance had to be prepared for every mountain chain; yet not so hard but that it might be capable of crumbling down into earth fit to nourish the alpine forest and the alpine flower; not so hard but that, in the midst of the utmost majesty of its enthroned strength, there should be seen on it the seal of death, and the writing of the same sentence that had gone forth against the human frame, 'Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.' And with this perishable substance the most majestic forms were to be framed that were consistent with the safety of man; and the peak was to be lifted, and the cliff rent, as high and as steeply as was possible, in order yet to permit the shepherd to feed his flocks upon the slope, and the cottage to nestle beneath their shadow.
And observe, two distinct ends were to be accomplished in the doing this. It was, indeed, absolutely necessary that such eminences should be created, in order to fit the earth in any wise for human habitation, for without mountains the air could not be purified, nor the flowing of the rivers sustained, and the earth must have become for the most part desert plain or stagnant marsh. But the feeding of the rivers and the purifying of the winds are the least of the
services appointed to the hills. To fill the thirst of the human heart for the beauty of God's working,-to startle its lethargy with the deep and pure agitation of astonishment,— are their higher missions. They are as a great and noble architecture; first giving shelter, comfort, and rest; and covered also with mighty sculpture and painted legend. It is impossible to examine in their connected system the features of even the most ordinary mountain scenery, without concluding that it has been prepared in order to unite as far as possible, and in the closest compass, every means of delighting and sanctifying the heart of man. 'As far as possible;' that is, as far as is consistent with the fulfilment of the sentence of condemnation on the whole earth. Death must be upon the hills, and the cruelty of the tempests smite them, and the briar and thorn spring up upon them; but they so smite as to bring their rocks into the fairest forms; and so spring as to make the very desert blossom as the rose.
Even among our own hills of Scotland and Cumberland, though often too barren to be perfectly beautiful, and always too low to be perfectly sublime, it is strange how many deep sources of delight are gathered into the compass of their glens and vales; and how, down to the most secret cluster of their far-away flowers, and the idlest leap of their straying streamlets, the whole heart of nature seems thirsting to give, and still to give, shedding forth her everlasting beneficence with a profusion so patient, so passionate, that our utmost observance and thankfulness are but, at last, neglect of her nobleness and apathy to her love.
But among the true mountains of the greater orders, the Divine purpose of appeal at once to all the faculties of the human spirit, becomes still more manifest. Inferior hills ordinarily interrupt, in some degree, the richness of the valleys at their feet; the grey downs of southern England, and treeless coteaux of central France, and grey swells of Scottish moor, whatever charm they may possess in themselves, are at least destitute of those which belong