« ElőzőTovább »
with man's expanding heart, and Nature's song of universal joy.
As if to complete the picture of general happiness without, I found Eliza on this summer evening looking very much better, and altogether more cheerful and happy than I had seen her since my return. Reclining on her couch, arrayed in spotless white, her countenance lighted up by the reflection of some inward joy, and her long bright tresses bedropt with spangled gold from the dazzling rays of the setting sun, and gently stirred by the evening breeze which came in softly at the open window, I thought that surely no human being could look more saint-like, more spiritually lovely, more divinely beautiful ! Around the little window which looked out to the churchyard and the church the fragrant honeysuckle entwined its beautiful blossoms, while in at the open casement to the west the roses, nodding with the breeze, peeped in like blushing maidens sly, not to be caught yet, but coquettely to tease awhile, so timid were they and so shy.
“You see that wooded height in the churchyard above St Fergus' Well ?” said Eliza softly, now breaking the sweet silence of the hour. “ I should wish to be buried there when I die—nay, startle not; we must all die, and I feel
time has nearly come. Often in your long absences have I wandered by our favourite pathways o'er the Hunter Hill, but oftener I lingered in the twilight eves—I cannot tell how it was—by lone St Fergus' Well, and in the quiet secluded buryingground above and around that romantic spot. You will come sometimes and visit my last resting-place—will you not?”
· Eliza," I replied, “such thoughts would break my heart
Listen,” said she, interruptingly, and without noticing my remark. “When I am dying—and I feel assured I will die in calmness and in peace—I would wish to enter heaven with the songs of earth vibrating in my ear, thus sweetly carrying me
imperceptibly over that undefined, mysterious line which separates eternity from time. It is said the dying carry on the retina of the eye to the other world the features and expression of those on whom they have last gazed on earth. So would I wish to carry with me also to the abodes of glory the cherished voices of those I love. But,” she excitedly continued, as if recollecting at the moment something that had escaped her memory, “ I have had such a strange and beautiful dream. Listen, and I will tell it thee. Stay ; lift!me up, my mother; pile these pillows high ; my head I fain would raise once more and look around on each familiar thing, then gaze abroad to mark the blossoms of my favourite flowers, inhale the sweetness of the balmy air, and list the cheering melody of birds ; I yet may gather the blaeberries on the hill
I and eat the ripe autumnal fruit. Hush! soul, this cannot be; these are the expressions of my other nature still unweaned from the things of earth and time.”
“Your dream, Eliza?" I inquiringly said ; "was it pleasing or otherwise ?” My dream?" she delightedly replied. "Oh, it was so
” strange, so pleasing, so very beautiful! Methought, swift borne above the abyssmal air, I floated noiselessly away among the palmy isles, the breezes redolent of sweetest odours softly wafted o'er the undulating waves like honied breath of violets, in rich festoons, the flowering climbing plants profusedly hanging from the shelving cliffs in never-fading bloom. The cities were of rubies, and the hills were richly gemmed with amethysts and sapphires ; the amber streams all pebbled bright with diamonds, and agates, and all kinds of precious stones, and the woods ablaze with gorgeous foliage, crowned bright with fragrant flowers of every hue and form. The groves of palm were vocal with the flute-like tones of clear-voiced arioles, commingled sweetly with the bulbul's plaintive notes at noon, sublimed at night by vesper hymns of humming birds and sacred songs of paradise !
“ Anon I wandered midst the dazzling throngs which
crowd the matchless Place St. Mark, in lovely Venice, City of the Sea! 'Twas night; the sun had disappeared in glory behind the Friulian mountains, and softly came from the Adriatic Sea the sweet refreshing evening breeze, stirring with Æolean music rich my long dishevelled curls, soft kissing me with balmy, honied lips, as if in expectancy, I silent stood on the marble steps of an ancient palace, beside the waveless Grand Canal. Softly the moonbeams now jewelled bright the clear blue waters, rich with diamond gems, all glistering tremulous innumerable. The hearse-like gondolas swift glided past to strains of richest music, the song of nearing gondoliers, as on they came from distant Molo, soft breaking on the ear with pensive sweetness, swelling as they passed to loud, melodious notes, then faintly dying away in tremulously lessening echoes beneath the one-arched high Rialto.
Among the gondolas one floating came more beautiful, more stately, than the rest. Her timbers of burnished amber, her awnings white and golden fringed, her prow all brightly gemmed with precious stones, without either sail or oar, onward gliding noiselessly like a swan majestically it
“ As it approached, distinguish could I clearly those on board—tall, white-draped figures, with faces like the dawn, and angelie in expression, all gathered round one statelier than they on dais, raised high elevated in the midst; a hum of soft low voices stirring sweet the air, then slowly dying away among the golden clouds, like angel-whispers floating tremulous in mystic fields of ether.
On, on it came to where I stood. The prow just touched the marble pier, when, like a bridal train without the bride, its white-robed occupants debarked, and, noiseless, formed a living avenue between me and the ship, a form familiar walking up the midst, her face becoming as I gazed pale, rigid, sharp, and ghastly, changing in a moment grand to pure celestial beauty, spirit-like, a luminous vapour rainbowed bright around her beaming features like the blushing morn
rich purpling in the east, her attitude now rapt adoring, all her stately frame inspired with spiritual emotion deep, high quivering with an ecstasy of joy! Her hands clasped firm upon her breast, her lips apart, her head in fond sweet longing lovingly upraised, glad listening to some coming sound; a song of soft celestial music bursting rich high over head from out the golden sky; bright cloud-borne angels winging quick their way amidst melodious anthems to our earth. As nearer they approached, beheld I one glorious than the rest in triumph bearing quick a golden crown to where the rapt expectant stood, which on her radiant brow she midst hosannahs placed, the long white rubes of her surrounding mates transformed to down, pure, soft, and glistering, which, outstretched, became angelic wings, and as they strung their jewelled lyres in harmony seraphically sweet, all bright ascended in one glorious, mystic throng, majestic to the sky! In the sainted one thus crowned with glory and triumphantly borne aloft on angels' wings I recognised—MYSELF-and I awoke !"
The animated recital of her extraordinary dream had so exhausted Eliza that she fell back upon her pillow in a state of great prostration, amounting almost to unconsciousness. When she had somewhat recovered, I commended her to the affectionate care of her mother, and on retiring felt more depressed and sad than I had ever done before. The description of the dream, and the prophetic train of thought to which it naturally gave rise, formed the one absorbing subject of contemplation on my way homeward, the solution to which I arrived being, as may be imagined, the one most satisfactory to myself-viz., that it was a dream.
Having to repair for a time to Edinburgh immediately after this visit to the forester's daughter, I did not return home until the middle of October, fully three months having elapsed in the interval.
Full of anxious thoughts about Eliza, which grew more intense and painful the nearer I approached her father's cottage on the following day after my return, when I silently took my accustomed way along the well-known winding pathway by the base of the Hunter Hill. It was a lovely autumnal day, and most unusually warm for the season of the year. The sun shone forth o'er hill and dale in all the bright effulgence of summer, the happy midges dancing in wild, mad revelry. in his sparkling beams, and the pugnacious robin singing in flute-like notes from the topmost boughs the sweetly plaintive requiem of the fast decaying year. The ash and the oak, still green and beautiful, contrasted finely with the deep bronze of the beech and the golden yellow of the elm, while the stately mountain pine upreared high up above them all her dark and sombre diadem of everlasting green. The dull rustling noise of the falling leaves, otherwise so saddening to the mind, and so painfully suggestive of the decay of the life of man, was on this glad day of sunny brightness and joy more pensively solemn than sad, more soothing and comforting than a gloomy foreshadowing of the dark river, or an ominous foreboding of the unseen world beyond. Far up in the golden sky the beautiful clouds bright tinged with a rainbow softness of colour and richly fringed with a delicate saffron of matchless splendour, seemed like guardian angels reposing in the lap of the Great Eternal and gazing with intense interest on some attractive object on earth, as if waiting, with their chariots of glory, to convey some sainted loved one to the far-off land of blessedness and peace !
I had now entered the deep ravine through which the waters of the burn rush with great velocity, until abruptly divided by a little grass-covered island, on either side of which they dash down the shelving rocks like mimic waterfalls of pleasing sweetness and picturesque beauty. Often, in the rich blush of summer, had I solitary stood on this lonely island admiring the sharp outlines of the beautiful picture which stretched itself out before me in all its light and shade of romantic, ever-changing loveliness—the rugged banks around rich clothed with luxuriant foliage, the wooded hill beyond