Refreshments were served us, among which were some hot-house peaches, ethereally delicate as if they had grown in the Elysian Fields and been stolen from a banquet of angels. After this we went out on the lawn, where, at Lady William Compton's request, I recited one or two poems; the only time I did such a thing in England.
Who is there of English descent among us that does not feel with Cowper,
Still lives to feed its altar-flame!
I have sometimes thought that I love so well the accidents of this temporary terrestrial residence, its endeared localities, its precious affections, its pleasing variety of occupation, its alternations of excited and gratified curiosity, and whatever else comes nearest to the longings of the natural man, that I might be wickedly homesick in a far-off spiritual realm where such toys are done with. But there is a pretty lesson which I have often meditated, taught, not this time by the lilies of the field, but by the fruits of the garden. When, in the June honeymoon of the seasons, the strawberry shows itself among the bridal gifts, many of us exclaim for the hundredth time with Dr. Boteler, "Doubtless God could have made a better berry, but doubtless God never did." Nature, who is God's handmaid, does not attempt a rival berry. But by and by a little woolly knob, which looked and saw with wonder the strawberry reddening, and perceived the fragrance it diffused all around, begins to fill out, and grow soft and pulpy and sweet; and at last a glow comes to its cheek, and we say the peach is ripening. When Nature has done with it, and delivers it to us in its perfection, we forget all the lesser fruits which have gone before it. If the flavor of the peach and the fragrance of the rose are not found in some fruit and flower which grow by the side of the river of life, an earth-born spirit might be forgiven for missing them. The strawberry and the pink are very delightful, but we could be happy without them.
What memories that week in Salisbury and the excursions from it have left in my mind's picture gallery! The spire of the great cathedral had been with me as a frequent presence during the last fifty years of my life, and this second visit has deepened every line of the impression, as Old Mortality refreshed the inscriptions on the tombstones of the Covenanters. I find that all these pictures which I have brought home with me to look at, with
nor the idea of Time dropping his hour-glass and scythe to throw a dart at the fleshless figure of Death. This last image seems to me about the equivalent in mortuary poetry of Roubiliac's monument to Mrs. Nightingale in mortuary sculpture,--poor conceits both of them, without the suggestion of a tear in the verses or in the marble; but the rhetorical exaggeration does not prevent us from feeling that we are standing by the resting-place of one who was
I would not try to compare the two university towns, as one might who had to choose between them. They have a noble rivalry, each honoring the other, and it would take a great deal of weighing one point of superiority against another to call either of them the first, except in its claim to antiquity.
My companion and I required an attendant, and we found one of those useful androgynous personages known as courier-maids, who had travelled with friends of ours, and who was ready to start with us at a moment's warning. She was of English birth, lively, short-gaited, serviceable, more especially in the first of her dual capacities. So far as my wants were concerned, I found her zealous and active in providing for my comfort.