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see them standing knee-deep in the water, crowded together where the shade is densest. But the blue sky is fervent and cloudless, for there is not even a fleck of white sailing over its expanse ; and you feel that there is not a breath of wind to stir the leaves or ripple the water, but that all around is deep, intense, unbroken repose—as though sated nature had retired to contemplate, in silent complacency, the fulness of her fruition. Go, my dear Anthony, by all means; and when you have indulged in the sweet reveries which such sights may well awaken, and thus dream yourself away into the country, forget not to feel grateful to those who had the good taste, as well as the boldness, to introduce the muse of painting amongst the sterner deities who preside over industry and science.
And now that I have, in some sort, provided for you a rural summer in town to gratify your eye, I would endeavour also to cheat your ear, and thus lead you away in fancy to partake with me of some of those sylvan scenes of my own home. Come, then, and listen while I discourse in verse to you of sweet summer noontide ; such noontides as I love with a love unspeakable—as I can describe but faintly. Here is something that you must not sing lustily, as if you were at a pic-nic after a glass or two of champagne ; but chant it, dear Anthony, if you love me, in a low, pleasant, drowsy, monotonous chant, as though you were lying on your back, with half-closed eyes, in yonder greenwood bower by the brook-side :
Noontide, deep summer noontide, still and dreamy!
How sweet to rest within some close-leaved bower,
Through the green curtains in a broken shower.
Chirpeth the grasshopper; and then the ear,
To lie by cool, still waters, musingly,
Languidly gazing on the outspread sky!
Serene and gorgeous, of yon fervid dome,
The soul would take for evermore her flight. Very well-intoned,"indeed, Anthony, for a first attempt; only you mustn't throw too much of that nasal drone into your voice, as if you were playing a pibroch on a Scotch bagpipe. Now I shall compensate you with something upon the same theme which you may sing; but I fear you must call in the aid of some others (a very easy and a very pleasant thing withal around a certain mahogany table that I wot of), unless, indeed, you have got a polyglot voice, and can sing four parts yourself; for my distinguished friend, Joseph Robinson, has done” these my poor lines to music with such exquisite skill that you can actually hear the whistle of the blackbird and the chirp of the grasshopper ; ay, and the dash of the water over the mill-wheel :
'Tis noontide, 'tis noontide, so glowing and still ;
At noontide how pleasant to lie near the rill,
'Tis noontide, 'tis noontide, so glowing and still ;
Or deep in the greenwood to loiter along,
"Tis noontide, 'tis noontide, so glowing and still,
'Tis noontide in summer, the dreamy noontide. The spirit of song certainly comes strong upon one on a summer noontide, such as I am now endeavouring to create before your mental vision ; but it is a moralising spirit, ever tinctured with a shade of sadness - at least, so it is with me. I believe, indeed, that some such feeling is the inalienable concomitant of sensuous pleasure, especially when it is enjoyed in the fulness of repose ; and so we find that a sigh is often the best interpreter” of bappiness, and a tear the sweetest indicator of joy. In truth, one never knows what place to assign to sighs and tears in this world of ours — whether they are to be classified as the ministers of pleasure or of pain, for we meet them everywhere—the bandmaidens of all strong emotions—even as in external nature we continually find light and sbade alternating and succeeding one another, administering each at times to our enjoyment and to our discomfort. Just so, dear Anthony, have I witnessed, upon one of those same summer noons, the light of the sun overcast in a moment, the meridian glow chilled by a sudden breeze that sprang up - none could say how or where — sweeping down like some dark spirit upon the smiling waters, and brushing their peaceful surface with its rude wings. And when I see such a change, I muse upon it, for I know it is a page of nature's homilies that may be read with deep instruction. It is a meet remembrancer of the fluctuations of life_how agitation, and sorrow, and gloom, may surprise us in the midst of repose, and pleasure, and sunshine. But I will moralise the matter for you in song. You may sing my verses yourself, if you will, to a beau. tiful melody, “ The Gentle Maiden,” which you will find in Bunting; but you will do far better to get the same assistance to which I have already referred, only be sure that amongst the choir you have our worthy old friend, Terry Magrath -I say old, in relation to the friend, and not to the man, inasmuch as he has long evinced a most obstinate determination never to grow old — a determination which, I must say, appears to become more inveterate every day of his life. Let Terry, I say, be one of them, for he has harmonised the song for four voices, with that felicity and skill in which he has never been rivalled :
THE LEAF ON THE STREAM.
At noontide I mused by a stream, reclining,
That peacefully stray'd the willows along,
The leaves with a dulcet song:-
'Mid sunshine and song for ever to glide:
I care not how swift its tide.
A summer breeze came o'er the waters creeping,
A cloud cast its gloom the shining stream o'er,
The leaves sank, to rise no more !
While heedless and gay we sport on life's wave ;
And hurry us on to the grave. Now that I have got you, in fancy at least, round “the festive board," as they call it, I think I can do no better than to keep you there while we have a few more songs; and if I know you, my dear Anthony—as, I think, after many years and much intercourse, I do thoroughly — you are not the man to interrupt the pleasant converse of friends, or to loosen the social fetters as long as there is a song or a story to keep them together. So, then, I will still minister to you songs fit for a summer day - not for the noon alone, but for the morning, and the evening, and the night. Hand, now, these verses to B-t-e, and let him improvise an air to them. I know few who will do more justice to a sentiment than he :-
Oh, golden light of youth!
warm thou art,
Like sunshine, tlood the heart.
Like Orient beams that creep
Across the desert lone,
In Memnon's form of stone
The light of love along,
Its strange sweet joy in song.
Oh, gorgeous dreams of youth !
How glorious—yet how vain !
They cheat the heart and brain,
On mist-wreaths in the even,
Like angels fresh from heaven,
They fade when comes the even;
Are mists from earth, not heaven. "Well, well,” I think I hear you say, my dear Anthony, "it is all as it should be, I suppose, Jonathan.”
Yes it is, Anthony. If the golden light fades away, and the gorgeous dream vanishes, and if evening comes as come it must to all - let us take heed, my friend, that with its shadows comes its sweetness also — with its silence comes its tranquillity. The memory of days not ill-spent makes declining life bright and cheerful, as the light of the sun (after he has set) spreads a tender glory over the last clouds of evening. And so here is a song of eventide, of such an evening as we would ever wish to close our summer day—peaceful, solemn, holy :
See the shadows now are stealing,
Slowly down the mountain's breast-
Cheerily the hour of rest.
'Tis the peaceful Eventide.
O'er the vale the mists are creeping;
Chanting hive-ward wends the bee :
Through the welkin tranquilly.
In the solemn Eyentide.
Oh! how sweet, at day's declining,
'Tis to rest from earth-born care;
Dreaming that our home is there.
In the holy Eventide.
A summer's evening in the country brings with it many pleasant thoughts. Out of doors there is the dance, by the road side or on the green, hurling and foot-ball, leaping and casting the stone, and all those manly, rustic sports which were discontinued through many a weary year of famine, and sickness, and sorrow, but which, thank heaven, one again sees now-a-days-not, perhaps, with all the sprightliness of old times, or as thronged as before death and emigration thinned the numbers of our peasants, and robbed us of the flower and the beauty, as well as the muscle and the sinew of the people-our young men and our young maidens leaving the old and the decrepid to languish and die away. Ah, well! the time will come again, I trust, when as strong arms and as light feet will asscmble at the summer trysting; and may it be that they will be better still than the generation that preceded them — schooled by their trials — taught by their hard experiences—and fitter to fill that great place in the social polity of a nation which the people ever should fill. Meanwhile, let me recall one of the rustic recollections of a summer evening, wben, a fair girl contrived to elude the vigilant ears of a purblind grandmother, and left her spinning-wheel, to ramble by moonlight with her sweetheart. I have thrown the incident into a song-it must be sung to one of those airs which young girls chant so sweetly to the hum of their spinning wheels, but which you will now hear more rarely than when I was a boy, Anthony. Here, give the paper to Bishop, and let him sing the verses to the air of ~ The Little House under the Hill." But stay a moment, Jack, until I insense you, as we say in the country, into the spirit of the song. Remember to what instrument you are supposed to be singing — a spinniligwheel. Now, don't look so dramatically indignant-I mean no offence to your manhood. The lever which you move with your foot is your metronome, and will keep you in time, and the humming wheel is your accompaniment. So then you will sing eqnably, but not monotonously, Jack; and your refrain must ring roundly, as it were, save the third verse, wherein you must in the last four lincs so retard the time and “ aggravate” your voice, as Bully Bottom says, that Fou shall demonstrate to your auditory how the girl is minding her spinning less and her lover more than – is good for her, maybap; and then you will make your pauses in the refrain to mark how the wheel, when left to itself, goes round unsteadily, and with a chuck at each revolution, as the impulse given by the last pressure of the girl's foot is just able to drag up the crank to the highest point, and then the weight of the foot-lever brings it down again. So, now let's hear what you can do :
A SPINNING-WHEEL SONG.
AIR—“The Little Hous, under the Hill."
Mellow the moonlight to shine is beginning;
Merrily, cheerily, noisily whirring,
“What's that noise that I hear at the window, I wonder ?"-
Merrily, cheerily, noisily whirring,
voice of the young maiden singing.
The maid shakes her head, on her lip layy her fingers,
Slower—and slower—and slower the wheel swings;