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cial—the delivery into the wider natural channels—the fight of spate and surge at river mouth
“Fervetque fretis spirantibus æquor.” The Ditches are indispensable in nature and in Virgil.
BULLER. Put this glass of water to your lips, sir—not that I would recommend water to a man in a fit of eloquence—but I know you are abstinent--infatuated in your abjuration of wine. Go on-half-minute time.
NORTH. I swear to defend—at the pen's point-against all Comers—this positionthat the line
“ Diluit: implentur fossæ, cava flumina crescunt
Cum sonitu—" is, where it stands—and looking before and after-a perfect line; and that to strike out “implentur fossa" would be an outrage on it-just equal, Buller, to my knocking out, without hesitation, your brains-for your brains do not contribute more to the flow of our conversation—than do the Ditches to that other Spate.
BULLER. That will do you may stop.
I ask no man's permission-I obey no man's mandate-to stop. Now Virgil takes wing—now he blazes and soars. Now comes the power and spirit of the Storm gathered in the Person of the Sire-of him who wields the thunderbolt into which the Cyclops have forged storms of all sorts—wind and rain together—" Tres Imbri torti radios!" &c. You remember the magnificent mixture. And there we have VIRGILIUS versus HOMERUM.
NORTH. Methinks Jupiter is twice apparent–the first time, as the President of the Storm, which is agreeable to the dictates of reason and necessity ;-the second-to my fancy-as delighting himself in the conscious exertion of power. What is he splintering Athos, or Rhodope, or the Acroceraunians for ? The divine use of the Fulmen is to quell Titans, and to kill that mad fellow who was running up the ladder at Thebes, Capaneus. Let the Great Gods find out their enemies now-find out and finish them and enemies they must have not a few among those prostrate crowds— per gentes humilis stravit pavor.” But shattering and shivering the mountain tops—which, as I take it, is here the prominent affair—and, as I said, the true meaning of “ dejicit"-is mere pastime—as if Jupiter Tonans were disporting himself on a holiday.
BULLER. Oh! sir, you have exhausted the subject-if not yourself—and us;-I beseech you sit down ;--see, Swing solicits you—and oh! sir, you-we-all of us will find in a few minutes' silence a great relief after all that thunder.
NORTH. You remember Lucretius ?
BULLER. No, I don't. To you I am not ashamed to confess that I read him with some difficulty. With ease, sir, do you?
NORTH. I never knew a man who did but Bobus Smith; and so thoroughly was he imbued with the spirit of the great Epicurean, that Landor-himself the best Latinist living-equals him with Lucretius. The famous Thunder passage is very fine, but I cannot recollect every word; and the man who, in recitation, haggles and boggles at a great strain of a great poet deserves death without benefit of clergy. I do remember, however, that he does not descend from his elevation with such ease and grace as would have satisfied Henry Home and Ilugh Blair--for he has so little notion of true dignity as to mention rain, as Virgil afterwards did, in immediate connexion with thunder.
“Quo de concussu sequitur gratis imber et uber,
Omnis utei videatur in imbrem vortier æther,
NORTH. What all the world thinks-that it is our very best British Thunder. IIe gives the Gathering, the General engagement, and the Retreat. In the Gathering there are touches and strokes that make all mankind shudder—the fore. boding--the ominous! And the terror, when it comes, aggrandises the premonitory symptoms. “Follows the loosened aggravated roar” is a line of power to bring the voice of thunder upon your soul on the most peaceable day. IIe, too-prevailing poet-feels the grandeur of the Rain. For instant on the words " convulsing heaven and earth," ensue,
“ Down comes a deluge of sonorous hail,
Or prone-descending rain.” Thomson had been in the heart of thunder-storms many a time before he left Scotland ; and what always impresses me is the want of method—the confusion, I might almost say-in his description. Nothing contradictory in the proceedings of the storm ; they all go on obediently to what we know of Nature's laws. But the effects of their agency on man and nature are givennot according to any scheme-but as they happen to come before the Poet's imagination, as they happened in reality. The pine is struck first-then the cattle and the sheep below-and then the castled cliff--and then the
66 Gloomy woods Start at the flash, and from their deep recess
Wide-flaming out, their trembling inmates shake." No regular ascending—or descending scale here ; but wherever the lightning chooses to go, there it goes-the blind agent of indiscriminating destruction.
BULLER Capricious Zig-zag.
NORTII. Jemmy was overmuch given to mouthing in the Seasons; and in this description-matchless though it be-he sometimes out-mouths the big.mouthed thunder at his own bombast. Perhaps that is inevitable—you must, in confabulating with that Meteor, either imitate him, to keep him and yourself in countenance, or be, if not mute as a mouse, as thin-piped as a fly. In youth I used to go sounding to myself among the mountains the concluding lines of the Retreat.
“ Amid Carnarvon's mountains rages loud
The repercussive roar ; with mighty crush,
And Thule bellows through her utmost isles.” Are they good-or are they bad ? I fear-not good. But I am dubious. The previous picture has been of one locality—a wide one-but within the visible horizon-enlarged somewhat by the imagination, which, as the schoolmen said, inflows into every act of the senses-and powerfully, no doubt, into the senses engaged in witnessing a thunder-storm. Many of the effects so faithfully, and some of them so tenderly painted, interest us by their picturesque particularity.
“ Here the soft flocks, with that same harmless look
And ox half-raised." We are here in a confined world-close to us and near; and our sympathies with its inhabitants-human or brute-comprehend the very attitudes or postures in which the lightning found and left them; but the final verses waft us away from all that terror and pity-the geographical takes place of the pathetic-a visionary panorama of material objects supersedes the heartthrobbing region of the spiritual—for a mournful song instinct with the humanities, an ambitious bravura displaying the power and pride of the musician, now thinking not at all of us, and following the thunder only as affording him an opportunity for the display of his own art.
NORTH. Thunder-storms travel fast and far-but here they seem simultaneous; Thule is more vociferous than the whole of Wales together-yet perhaps the sound itself of the verses is the loudest of all and we cease to hear the thunder in the din that describes it.
ENTRANT. That I will speak to thee. How do you do, my dear sir? God bless you, how do you do?
NORTH. It is-it is the voice of TALBOYS. Don't move an inch. Stand still for ten seconds-on the very same site, that I may have one steady look at you, to make assurance doubly sure—and then let us meet each other half-way in a Cornish hug.
TALBOYS. Are we going to wrestle already, Mr North?
NORTH. Stand still ten seconds more. He is He-You are You-gentlemen-H. G. Talboys-Seward, my crutch-Buller, your arm
TALBOYS. Wonderful feat of agility! Feet up to the ceiling
NORTH. An involuntary feat-the fault of Swing-sole fault—but I always forget it when agitated
BULLER. Some time or other, sir, you will fly backwards and fracture your skull.
NORTH. There, we have recovered our equilibrium-now we are in grips, don't fear a fall-I hope you are not displeased with your reception.
VOL. LXVI. NO. Ccccy.
TALBOYS. I wrote last night, sir, to say I was coming—but there being no speedier conveyance-I put the letter in my pocket, and there it is
The song of other years! which, when we roam,
Brings up all sweet and common things of home,
By human love made sad and musical,
Yet full of high philosophy withal,
A thousand hearts will waken at its call,
May o'er thy brow no envious shadow fall!
Thy righteous wrath the soul of guilt appal,
NORTH. It never will be a hat again.
TALBOYS. A patent hat-a waterproof hat-it was swimming, when I purchased it yesterday, in a pail-warranted against Lammas floods
NORTH. And in an hour it has come to this! Why, it has no more shape than a coal-heaver's.
TALBOYS. Oh! then it can be little the worse. For that is its natural artificial shape. It is constructed on that principle—and the patentee prides himself on its affording equal protection to head, shoulders, and back-helmet at once and shield.
TALBOYS. The clothes I have on are as dry as if they had been taking horse-exercise all morning before a laundry-fire. I am waterproof all over-and I had need to be so-for between Inverary and Cladich there was much moisture in the atmosphere.
NORTH. Do-do-go and put on dry clothes. Why the spot you stand on is absolutely swimming
TALBOY8. My Sporting-jacket, sir, is a new invention-an invention of my own-to the sight silk-to the feel feathers and of feathers is the texture—but that is a secret, don't blab it--and to rain I am impervious as a plover.
NORTH. Do-do-go and put on dry clothes.
TALBOYS. Intended to have been here last night-left Glasgow yesterday morningand had a most delightful forenoon of it in the Steamer to Tarbert. Loch Lomond fairly outshone herself-never before had I felt the full force of the words—" Fortunate Isles." The Bens were magnificent. At Tarbert-just
as I was disembarking—who should be embarking but our friends Outram, M Culloch, Macnee
NORTH. And why are they not here ?
TALBOYS. And I was induced-I could not resist them to take a trip on to Inverarnan. We returned to Tarbert and had a glorious afternoon till two this morningthought I might lie down for an hour or two-but, after undressing, it occurred to me that it was advisable to redress—and be off instanter-so, wheeling round the head of Loch Long-never beheld the bay so lovely-I glided up the gentle slope of Glencroe and sat down on “Rest and be thankful”-to hold a minute's colloquy with a hawk-or some sort of eagle or another, who seemed to think nobody at that hour had a right to be there but himself-covered him to a nicety with my rod-and had it been a gun, he was a dead bird. Down the other—that is, this side of the glen, which, so far from being precipitous, is known to be a descent but by the pretty little cataractettes playing at leap-frog - from your description I knew that must be Loch Fine—and that St Catherine's. Shall I drop down and signalise the Inverary Steamer? I have not time—so through the woods of Ardkinglass-surely the most beautiful in this world- to Cairndow. Looked at my watch — had forgot to wind her upset her by the sun-and on nearing the inn door an unaccountable impulse landed me in the parlour to the right. Breakfast on the table for somebody up stairs—whom nobody-so the girl said-could awaken-ate it-and the ten miles were but one to that celebrated Circuit Town. Saluted Dun-nu-quech for your sake—and the Castle for the Duke's—and could have lingered all June among those gorgeous groves.
NORTH. Do-do-go and put on dry clothes.
TALBOYS. Hitherto it had been cool-shady--breezy-the very day for such a saunter -when all at once it was an oven. I had occasion to note that fine line of the Poet's—" Where not a lime-leaf moves," as I passed under a tree of that species, with an umbrage some hundred feet in circumference, and a presentiment of what was coming whispered “Stop here”—but the Fates tempted me on-and if I am rather wet, sir, there is some excuse for it-for there was thunder and lightning, and a great tempest.
NORTH. Not to-day? Here all has been hush.
TALBOYS. It came at once from all points of the compass—and they all met-all the storms-every mother's son of them-at a central point-where I happened to be. Of course, no house. Look for a house on an emergency, and if once in a million times you see one-the door is locked, and the people gone to Australia.
TALBOYS. By-and-by I began to have my suspicions that I had been distracted from the road and was in the Channel of the Airey. But on looking down I saw the Airey in his own channel-almost as drumly as the mire-burn-vulgarly called road-I was plashing up. Altogether the scene was most animatingand in a moment of intense exhilaration—not to weather-fend, but in defiance-I unfurled my Umbrella.
NORTH, What, a Plover with a Parapluie ?
TALBOYS. I use it, sir, but as a Parasol. Never but on this one occasion had it affronted rain.