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handiworks of God. We walk about the world as its true heirs, and heirs of far more than it has to give. We walk about in confidence, in love, and in peaceful hope; for we know that we are the rightful sons of the house; and that neither death nor distance can interrupt our progress towards the home-paradise of the divine Father.
THE PRE-EMINENCE OF THE LOVE OF NATURE IN THE
ENGLISH LITERATURE OVER THAT OF ALL OTHER
In the former chapter I have endeavoured to point out the existence of a striking difference as it regards the love of nature between the classical and modern literature, and to explain, and I hope successfully, the principal causes of it. But it is not the less true, that almost as great a difference exists in this same respect between our British literature, and that of almost all other modern nations. I do not intend to go about very laboriously to attempt to prove this fact, for I think it stands sufficiently self-evident on the face of all modern literature. In science, in art, in history, philosophy natural and moral; in theological, philological and classical inquiries, the continental nations have attained the highest honours. In biography the French are unrivalled, in autobiography the Germans are equally so. In some species of poetry the Ger
mans contest the palm with us; in mathematical industry, and historical research, they are greatly our superiors; but with the solitary exceptions of Gesner and St. Pierre, where have they any writers to range with our Evelyns, Whites, and Waltons ? or poets, with our Thomsons and Bloomfields ? or indeed with the whole series of our poets who do not professedly write on the country, but are irresistibly led to it; and from whom the love of it breaks out on all occasions? In the French, the social feeling is the most strongly developed; in the Italian, passion and fancy; in the German, the metaphysical. The Germans, indeed, most strongly resemble the English in their literary tastes. There seems to be a fellow-feeling between them, resulting from ancient kinship. They have a similar character of simplicity; they are alike grave, solid, and domestic, and prone to deep and melancholy thought. They have a love of nature deep as ours, for the tone of their minds makes them, in everything they do attach themselves to, earnest and enthusiastic. In everything relating to the affections, their literature is unrivalled; their feelings are profound, tender, and spiritual ; and while a false and superficial taste has made rapid strides amongst us of late years—a taste for glitter, shew, and fashion, the natural accompaniment of wealth and luxury, a growing fondness for German literature must be hailed as a good omen; as likely to give a new infusion of heart and mind to our writings; to re-awaken our love for the simple, the domestic,—the fireside love; in fact, to bring us back to what was the ancient character of the English; high-toned in morals, simple in manners, manly and affectionate in heart. Their
love of nature is as deep as ours; but it is not so equally and extensively diffused. The solemn and speculative cast of their genius has tended to link it with the gloom of forests and tempests, and with the wild fictions of the supernatural, rather than to scatter it over every cheerful field, and cause it to brood over every sunny cottage garden, amid the odour of flowers and the hum of bees. There is something wonderfully attractive in their descriptions of the old-fashioned homeliness of their rural and domestic manners; in the unbustling quietness of their lives, and in the holy strength of their family attachments. Such writings as that Idyl of Voss, describing the manner of life of the venerable pastor of Grenau, the autobiographies of Goethe and Stilling, seem to carry us back into the simple ages of our own country. That which characterized them, seems to be preserved to the present hour in Germany; and then, the affectionate intellectuality of their minds, and their very language, so homely, and yet so expressive, cause them to abound in such touches of natural pathos as are nowhere else to be found. Yet, when their love of nature exhibits itself in descriptions of country life, amid all these charms, we are often tempted to exclaim with the pastor's wife in Voss, when in a pic-nic party they discovered, while taking tea under the forest trees, that they had forgotten the tea-spoons, and had to substitute pieces of stick for them—“O, dear nature, thou art almost too natural !"
But the aspect of the different countries is sufficiently indicative of the natural feeling. Instead of the solitary chateau, or baronial castle, amid dark forests, or wide unfenced plains; instead of the great landed proprietors crowding into large towns, and the very labourers huddling themselves into villages, and going, as they do, in some parts of France, seven or eight miles on asses to their daily work in the fields, the hills and valleys of England are studded all over with the dwellings of the landed gentry, and the cottages of their husbandmen. Villas amid shrubberies and gardens; villages environed with old-fashioned crofts; farm-houses and cottages, singly or in groupsa continuous chain of cultivation and rustic residences stretches from end to end and side to side of the island. Our wealthy aristocrats have caught a fatal passion for burying themselves in the capital in a perpetual turmoil of political agitations, ostentatious rivalry, and dissipation,-a passion fatal to their own happiness and to the whole character of their minds ; but the love of the country is yet strong enough in large classes to maintain our pre-eminence in this respect. The testimony of foreigners, however, is stronger than our own; and foreigners are always struck with the garden-like aspect of England; and the charms of our country houses. A number of a French literary paper, “Le Panorama de Londres,” has fallen accidentally into my hands, while writing this, which contains an article, De la Poesie Anglaise et de la Poesie Allemande, from which I transcribe the following passages.
“ England has produced her great epic poet, her great dramatic poet; and the last age gave her reasoning poets in abundance. The time for the one and the other is past. By a revolution, the causes of which it would be difficult to trace, her poetry has changed both its character and object; and, strange