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as restless as the ocean's waves—10 calm, however deep, stays their rippling. But, of the ten thousand thoughts which hourly pass through the mind, how few are worth retaining ; the majority of them rise not higher than the things of common life—they range only within the narrow limits of a secular world, or in the regions of fancy, whilst the few only surmount the skies to dwell upon the objects of faith.
Nothing, however, shows more strikingly the moral degeneracy of man than this ; for surely, if he has inducements to think at all, in the highest sense of that word, he has them to think on revealed truth. His own mysterious being, with its restless passions, and quenchless hopes—the world in which he moves, so full of God's beauteous works,-the frailty of his body--the brevity of his life, and the transitory nature of earth's scenes, powerfully urge to religious thoughtfulness. How strange and humiliating is the fact that man should be so unconcerned because so thoughtless about a restoration from his moral degeneracy, though by nature, by Providence, and by revelation, is he reminded, in various ways, what he is, where he is, and whither he is going. It is a futile and incorrect notion that he is taught to be religious only from the Bible. What are the changes and revolutions of empires—what the rise and fall of kingdoms—what the devastation by storm and tempest—what the mortality by the pestilence which walketh in darkness and at noon-day, but the Almighty, in his providence, speaking to man, and urging him to religious thoughtfulness! Nature is but a reflection of her Creator. All her glorious works proclaim his wisdom and his goodness—his power and his skill. She presents her lessons, and man does well to read them; for
“Stars teach as well as shine." There is no language nor speech where nature doth not utter her voice. The “Great Teacher" of man, in the days of his sojourn on earth, taught the sublimest truths from the flower of the field—the birds of the air, and the clouds of Heaven. The lily of the valley fixed his attention, and moved him to read to the world the lesson it conveyed. He saw God in every thing, and all creation in his ear spoke of God, and sang his praise.
Every thing will show a thoughtful mind, that man was intended to pursue a higher end than merely securing support for his animal existence, and to seek higher objects than what belong only to time and sense. He was originally created god-like, and it is still the will of his Creator that he live for a god-like end. It is his privilege, as well as daty, to bend his thoughts and stretch out his affections towards the great things unseen, yet substantial and eternal, for “He builds too low who builds beneath the sky."
This truth is more clearly set forth and more firmly established in that moral revelation which God has made in the book, “writ with an immortal pen.” It contains his will concerning man—it opens to him the future world, and tells him his duty in this-it lays open the wickedness of the human heart, and unmasks human nature presents it in its true character, and points to the remedy of moral evil, and to the compassionate Restorer of a disordered and ruined world. It is the regulator of all conduct-the guide of every action—it is the light which shineth in a dark place it is the high tower from the enemy-the solid rock in life's rough sea. In fine, it is the sure and unerring guide through the mists and mazes of earth to
the bright and glowing scenes of immortality. But what of all this, if men think not. Truths, however important, however needful, however sublime, will avail nothing, if they become not the subject of serious thought.
The unlettered and unreflecting rustic, who dwells amidst the beauties of inland scenery, or the mariner, whose daily occupation is amidst the wonders of the great deep, has never, perhaps, had a more elevated conception of the wisdom and almightiness of the Creator than the humble artizan living in some obscure abode in a crowded city. But let the contemplative spirit—the thinking soul gaze upon the cloud-capped mountain -- the corncovered valley—or the well-decked landscape, or eye the wide-spreading ocean lifting its angry waves, and far nobler thoughts will be entertained of that Being who arrays the flower in its beauty, and stilleth the noise of the sea. The inspired psalmist had overwhelming views of the Almighty when contemplating his works. It was not gazing, in the silence of the night, or the starry hosts that impressed him with the greatness and majesty of their Creator, and the comparative insignificancy of man, but deep contemplation on the midnight glories, for his language is, “ when I consider thy heavens—the work of thy fingers—the moon and the stars which thou hast ordained—what is man, that thou art mindful of him ?” It was the same contemplation also of God's marvellous doings in the moral world that filled his heart with holy admiration of the Divine character, and ofttimes inspired the song of praise. The reading of these doings did it notbut the thinking on them. The truth was, his meditation, and this made him wiser than the ancients. The Almighty deals with man according to his nature. He presents to him no object to be loved which is not worthy of his affections. He bids him love no object but what is lovely. Whatever he is enjoined to seek is worth the energy of his mind and soul. It is in the moral as in the natural world, the more we contemplate its objects the greater is the pleasure we experience. While all truth may well engage the thoughts, it is moral truth that pre-eminently claims our deepest meditation; and what glorious truths have been revealed to man adapted to awaken and fix his thoughts, and enchain his affections. The immortality of the soul—the felicities secured to it through the humiliation and death of the Saviour of men—the character of God—the nature of his government, and the grand design in the administration of it, are, of all other truths, the most calculated to purify the heart raise the thoughts, and influence the life. Would that our young men were more given to religious thoughtfulness, then would they feel more their responsibilities, not only to live themselves as the heirs of immortality, but to seek the well-being of the world! They have their part to act in this life, and an account to render in the life to come ; for, though man be cut down as a flower, yet shall he rise again, for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.
SKETCHES OF ENGLISH SCENERY.—No. IV.
THE great majority of the baronial fortresses of this country have been destroyed by the violence of man, or have gradually decayed under the slow but sure hand of time. The ruins of the
castles of Carisbrooke, Ragland, Kenilworth, Conway, and a host of others, make it evident how few still remain in comparison with the numbers which were once scattered over the country. Among these few are, however, to be found some more rich in local and architectural beauty, and in the historical associations connected with them, than any that have fallen; and the lofty turrets of Windsor, of Dover, of Arundel, and of Warwick, still stand before us enduring memorials of generations long past away.
Warwick Castle is situated about a mile from the town of Warwick, and is built on a steep rock, rising so directly out of the river Avon that the castle seems to stand there in perpetual contemplation of its own beauties reflected in the crystal mirror beneath. It is of the greatest antiquity, and even before the Norman conquest appears to have been a place of much strength and consideration. Thomas de Beauchamp, in the reign of
Edward III., rebuilt the walls, and fortified the gateways; and by his son was erected that part of the edifice known by the name of Guy's Tower. It was the residence and stronghold of the king-making Earl of Warwick, and appears, in the troublous times which followed, to have experienced the usual amount of sieges and surprises incident to baronial fortresses.
The approach to Warwick Castle is calculated to produce the most striking effect: a broad and serpentine path, cut through the solid rock, confines the eye, and exercises the fancy till a hundred long yards are trodden over. By a method of approach so extraordinary, the mind is prepared for a spectacle of unusual grandeur ; and unusually grand indeed is the object beheld. At the termination of this rocky path, the three towers of the ancient structure rise progressively before the eye, and stand ranged in an embattled line unspeakably magnificent and commanding. On the left is the tower, termed Cæsar's, an elevation of which no authentic information remains. To the right, rising to an elevation of upwards of one hundred feet, is the tower named after the redoubtable Guy of Warwick, the champion of the castle.
The grand entrance is flanked by embattled walls, richly mantled with ivy, and is protected by a deep moat, now dry, in security, and lined with shrubs and noble trees. The disused moat is crossed by a stone bridge, and, after passing through a series of gloomy passages, the traveller finds himself in the great court. This magnificent area is floored with a bright green turf, and varied by superb Scotch firs. It is surrounded by towers and battlements of irregular height, and the mighty remains of fortifications erected in turbulent ages. These relics are perfect in outline, and no battlement exhibits the havoc of time.
That part of the structure which is at present inhabited, lies to the left of the great court; and it is pleasing to observe that, in the progressive alterations effected in later ages, great attention has been paid to preserving the architectural consistency of the edifice. Perhaps that front of the castle which displays the greatest beauty is that looking towards the river, for here the rock, which affords a foundation to the pile, rises perpendicularly to a considerable height before the stonework of the superstructure commences. The front has all the irregularity, but at the same time all the grim magnificence usual in buildings constructed with a view both to security and to baronial grandeur.
The interior of this august fabric surpasses the expectation raised by a view of its outward features ; for with the ponderous towers and ramparts of stone, we are apt to associate only ideas of chivalric hardihood and unpolished pride. Domestic elegance and taste have, however, combined to decorate these halls, yet with attention to the ancient character and castellated outlines of the edifice. The grand suite of apartments is ornamented in the most chaste yet costly manner, and extends in a straight line three hundred and thirty-three feet. The windows of each room in this suite command a prospect the most lovely and diversified. To the right, the Avon winds through a long expanse of wooded scenery; while, to the left, are seen the ancient bridge, (its centre arch, now removed and half hidden by the foliage,) the bright waters of a cascade, and the ruins of a long disused and neglected mill.
Of these apartments, the hall is perhaps the most worthy of notice; it is of great extent, being sixty-two feet long by thirty-seven broad, and is paved with black and white stone. Around the walls are hung the antlers of stags, and the weapons and armour of departed warriors. Piled around the ample fire-place are logs of wood, in accordance with the usage of the ancient barons, in whose establishments convenience was ever studied in preference to delicacy.
The cedar drawing-room, the gilt-room, the ante-chamber, and the saloon, are decorated and adorned with paintings and ornaments of the greatest value and rarity. We should far exceed our limits in attempting to describe the lapis lazuli, marble and porphyry tables, ebony cabinets, china vases, and other luxuries with which these magnificent rooms are encumbered. The immense collection of paintings must not, however, be passed over, for here are to be found some of the finest works of the great masters. Among so many fine pictures, we can only notice a few, one of which is a portrait of Lord Arundel, by Rubens. He is attired in complete armour, and the noble espression and commanding features are very characteristic of the feudal chieftain. A spirited likeness is also shown of the Dutch admiral Van Tromp, who boasted that he would clear the sea of British ships, in memory of which intention he is represented carrying a broom. Here also we see a laughing boy, by Murillo, the expression of his features full of mischievous enjoyment. As a contrast to this is a portrait of Lord Strafford, which bears an aspect of sublime melancholy, suited to his tragical end. There is here a lovely picture, by Raphael, representing Joanna of Naples, whose history is so remarkable a counterpart to that of Mary Stuart, and whom she seems also to have resembled in the beauty of her countenance. Ignatius Loyola, by Rubens, and Machiavel, by Titian, are grand and spirited portraits, as is also a superb likeness of the unfortunate Lord Essex.
But the gem of the whole collection is the Vandyke portrait of Charles I. on horseback. The situation of this picture adds greatly to its effect, as it is placed alone at the end of a long narrow passage. Standing thus completely isolated, the haughty dignity and the foreboding melancholy, seated upon the countenance of the unhappy monarch, forcibly arrest the attention; while his whole air and bearing remind us of the saying,
“A better cavalier ne'er mounted horse,
Or, being mounted, e'er got down again." Besides this gallery of paintings, the Warwick vase, sent from Greece by Sir William Hamilton, is an object of the greatest curiosity. The satyr's head with which it is decorated, has an inimitable expression of laughing inebriation; and when compared with the modern head with which it has been repaired, strikingly illustrates the superiority of ancient art.
What a contrast there is between these formidable relics of the dark ages and the elegant residence of the present English gentleman! And although, as lovers of the picturesque, we might regret, yet, as Christians and philanthropists, we rejoice to see the change. We know that the lofty keep, the battlemented walls, the narrow window, and the fatal loophole, were the signs of moral weakness and universal distrust; while the smooth lawn, the undefended gate, and the broad casement of the modern mansion, evince to us the existence of that mutual confidence and trust which we look for in vain in the feudal times. And we are encouraged to hope for still better things. We believe that a time will come, when, by means of an extended education, combined with the pure influence of the gospel, nations will be enabled to dispense with their fortresses and armies; will beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks, and learn the art of war no more.