Page images

world of music does the sun shine on !-- the deep lowing of the cattle blending in with the capricious warble of a thousand of God's happy creatures, and the stir of industry coming on the air like the undertones of a choir, and the voice of-man, heard in the distance over all, like a singer among instruments, giving them meaning and language ! And then, if your ear is delicate, you have minded how all these sounds grow softer and sweeter, as the exhalations of dew floated up, and the vibrations loosened in the thin air.

You should go out some morning in June, and listen to the notes of the birds. They express, far more than our own, the characters of their owners. From the scream of the vulture and the eagle, to the low brooding of the dove, they are all modified by their habits of support, and their consequent dispositions. With the small birds, the voice seems to be but an outpouring of gladness; and it is pleasant to see that without one articulate word it is so sweet a gift to them. It seems a necessary vent to their joy of existence, and I believe in my heart that a dumb bird would die of its imprisoned fullness.

But if you would hear one of nature's most various and delicate harmonies, lie down in the edge of the wood when the evening breeze begins to stir, and listen to its coming. It touches first the silver foliage of the birch, and the slightly hung leaves, at its merest breath, will lift and rustle like a thousand tiny wings; and then it creeps up to the tall fir, and the fine tassels send out a sound like a low whisper; and as the oak feels its influence, the thick leaves stir heavily, and a deep tone comes sullenly out like the echo of a far-off

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

bassoon. They are all wind-harps of different power; and as the breeze strengthens and sweeps equally over them all, their united harmony has a wonderful grandeur and beauty.

Hitherto I have spoken only of the sounds of irrational and inanimate nature. A better than these, and the best music under heaven, is the music of the human voice. I doubt whether all voices are not capable of it, though there must be degrees in it as in beauty. The tones of affection in all children are sweet, and we know not how much their unpleasantness in after life may be the effect of sin and coarseness, and the consequent habitual expression of discordant passions. But we do know that the voice of any human being becomes touching by distress, and that even on the coarse minded and the low, religion and the higher passions of the world have sometimes 80 wrought, that their eloquence was like the strong passages of an organ.

I have been much about in the world, and with a boy's unrest and a peculiar thirst for novel sensations, have mingled for a time in every walk of life; yet never have I known man or woman under the influence of

any strong feeling that was not utterly degraded, whose voice did not deepen to a chord of grandeur, or soften to cadences to which a harp might have been swept pleasantly. It is a perfect instrument as it comes from the hand of its Maker, and though its strings may relax with the atmosphere, or be injured by misuse and neglect, it is always capable of being restrung to its compass till its frame is shattered.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors]

There is something exceedingly impressive in the breaking in of church bells on the stillness of the Sabbath. I doubt whether it is not more so in the heart of a populous city than any where else. The presence of any single, strong feeling, in the midst of a great people, has something of awfulness in it which exceeds even the impressiveness of nature's breathless Sabbath.

I know few things more imposing than to walk the streets of a city when the peal of the early bells is just beginning. The deserted pavements, the closed windows of the places of business, the decent gravity of the solitary passenger, and, over all, the feeling in your own bosom that the fear of God is brooding like a great shadow over the thousand human beings who are sitting still in their dwellings around you, were enough, if there were no other circumstance, to hush the heart into a religious fear. But when the bells peal out suddenly with a summons to the temple of God, and their echoes roll on through the desolate streets, and are unanswered by the sound of any human voice, or the din of any human occupation, the effect has sometimes seemed to me more solemn than the near thunder.

Far more beautiful, and perhaps quite as salutary as a religious influence, is the sound of a distant Sabbath bell in the country. It comes floating over the hills like the going abroad of a spirit; and as the leaves stir with its vibrations, and the drops of dew tremble in the cups of the flowers, you could almost believe that there was a Sabbath in nature, and that the duinb works of God rendered visible worship for his goodness.

[ocr errors][merged small]

tbt the the The

The effect of nature alone is purifying, and its thousand evidences of wisdom are too eloquent of their Maker not to act as a continual lesson; but combined with the instilled piety of childhood, and the knowledge of the inviolable holiness of the time, the mellow cadences of a church bell give to the hush of the country Sabbath, a holiness to which only a desperate heart could be insensible.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]


Four grea:


[ocr errors]

ough. heari t suc I their od at

or the

etime r. utan

Sab er

the S


THE rain is o'er-how dense and bright

Yon pearly clouds reposing lie !
Cloud above cloud, a glorious sight,

Contrasting with the dark blue sky!
In grateful silence earth receives

The general blessing; fresh and fair,
Each flower expands its little leaves,

As glad the common joy to share.
The softened sunbeams pour around

A fairy light, uncertain, pale;
The wind blows cool; the scented ground

Is breathing odors on the gale.
Mid yon rich cloud's voluptuous pile,

Methinks some spirit of the air
Might rest to gaze below a while,

Then turn and bathe and revel there.

f der Jmos

I that ipfi

[ocr errors]

The sun breaks forth—from off the scene

Its floating veil of mist is flung;
And all the wilderness of green

With trembling drops of light is hung.

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

Hear the rich music of that voice

Which sounds from all below, above;
She calls her children to rejoice,

And round them throws her arms of love.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]


[merged small][ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

LIFE in Sweden is for the most part patriarchal. Almost primeval simplicity reigns over this northern land-almost primeval solitude and stillness. You pass out from the gate of the city, and, as if by magic, the scene changes to a wild, woodland landscape. Around you are forests of fir. Over head hang the long, fan-like branches, trailing with moss, and heavy with red and blue cones. Under foot is a carpet of yellow leaves; and the air is warm and balmy.

On a wooden bridge you cross a little silver stream. Anon you come forth into a pleasant and sunny land of farms. Wooden fences divide the adjoining fields. Across the road are gates, which are opened for you by troops of children. The peasants take off their hats as you pass. You sneeze, and they cry, God bless you. The houses in the villages and smaller cities are

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »