I cannot but applaud, therefore, the fondness and pride with which I have noticed English gentlemen, of generous temperaments, and high aristocratic feelings, contemplating those magnificent trees, which rise like towers and pyramids, from the midst of their paternal lands. There is an affinity between all nature, animate and inanimate: the oak, in the pride and lustihood of its growth, seems to me to take its range with the lion and the eagle, and to assimilate, in the grandeur of its attributes, to heroic and intellectual man. With its mighty pillar rising straight and direct towards heaven, bearing up its leafy honours from the impurities of earth, and supporting them aloft in free air and glorious sunshine, it is an emblem of what a true nobleman should be; a refuge for the weak, a shelter for the oppressed, a defence for the defenceless; warding off from them the peltings of the storm, or the scorching rays of arbitrary power. He who is this, is an ornament and a blessing to his native land. He who is otherwise, abuses his eminent advantages; abuses the grandeur and prosperity which he has drawn from the bosom of his country. Should tempests arise, and he be laid prostrate by the storm, who would mourn over his fall? Should he be borne down by the oppressive hand of power, who would murmur at his fate?—“Why cumbereth he the ground?”
A LITERARY ANTIQUARY.
Printed bookes he contemnes, as a novelty of this latter age; but a manuscript he pores on everlastingly; especially if the cover be all moth-eaten, and the dust make a parenthesis betweene every syllable.
The Squire receives great sympathy and support, in his antiquated humours, from the parson, of whom I made some mention on my former visit to the Hall, and who acts as a kind of family chaplain. He has been cherished by the Squire almost constantly, since the time that they were fellow-students at Oxford; for it is one of the peculiar advantages of these great universities, that they often link the poor scholar to the rich patron, by early and heart-felt ties, that last through life, without the usual humiliations of dependence and patronage. Under the fostering protection of the Squire, therefore, the little parson has pursued his studies in peace. Having lived almost entirely among books, and those, too, old books, he is quite ignorant of the world, and his mind is as antiquated as the garden at the Hall, where the flowers are all arranged in formal beds, and the yew-trees clipped into urns and peacocks.
His taste for literary antiquities was first imbibed in the Bodleian Library at Oxford; where, when a student, he passed many an hour foraging among the old manuscripts. He has since, at different times, visited most of the curious libraries in England, and has ransacked many of the cathedrals. With all his quaint and curious learning, he has nothing of arrogance or pedantry; but that unaffected earnestness and guileless simplicity which seem to belong to the literary antiquary.