The secret of the wood.
The unthrift sunne shot vitall gold,
A thousand pieces;
And heaven its azure did unfold,
Chequered with snowy fleeces.
The air was all in spice,
And every bush
A garland wore: Thus fed my Eyes,
But all the Eare lay hush.
It was not in mathematics alone that Hugh Sutherland was serviceable to Margaret Elginbrod. That branch of study had been chosen for her father, not for her; but her desire to learn had led her to lay hold upon any mental provision with which the table happened to be spread; and the more eagerly that her father was a guest at the same feast. Before long, Hugh bethought him that it might possibly be of service to her, in the course of her reading, if he taught her English a little more thoroughly than she had probably picked it up at the parish school, to which she had been in the habit of going till within a very short period of her acquaintance with the tutor.—The English reader must not suppose the term parish school to mean what the same term would mean if used in England. Boys and girls of very different ranks go to the Scotch parish schools, and the fees are so small as to place their education within the reach of almost the humblest means.—To his proposal to this effect Margaret responded thankfully; and it gave Hugh an opportunity of directing her attention to many of the more delicate distinctions in literature, for the appreciation of which she manifested at once a remarkable aptitude.
Coleridge’s poems had been read long ago; some of them, indeed, almost committed to memory in the process of repeated perusal. No doubt a good many of them must have been as yet too abstruse for her; not in the least, however, from inaptitude in her for such subjects as they treated of, but simply because neither the terms nor the modes of thought could possibly have been as yet presented to her in so many different positions as to enable her to comprehend their scope. Hugh lent her Sir Walter’s poems next, but those she read at an eye-glance. She returned the volume in a week, saying merely, they were “verra bonnie stories.” He saw at once that, to have done them justice with the girl, he ought to have lent them first. But that could not be helped now; and what should come next? Upon this he took thought. His library was too small to cause much perplexity of choice, but for a few days he continued undecided.