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THE HERMIT, No. II.
Containing an account of a visit paid to him by some of the proprietors of the American Magazine, and of the rapturous SOLILOQUY in which they found him engaged.
was one day towards the close of last month, ere yet the snows had got possession of the earth, or the frosts had begun to nip the air, and to assume their rigid reign-The sun shone serenely bright from a clear autumnal sky, shedding the last beauties of the departing season. The many-coloured woods stood motionless and mute, divested of their summer's garb, and undisturbed by any noise, save here and there the rustling descent of a leaf that had lingered behind its time, or the feeble chirping of a bird, instinctively foreboding the coming horrors of the year!
Invited by the mild solemnity of the scene, some of the proprietors of the magazine agreed upon a short ramble into the country. It was near noon when we began our tour, and having proceeded a few miles one of us happened to express his surprize that we had received nothing from the hands of our friend, the venerable hermit, during the past month; upon which a resolution was immediately formed to go in
quest of his retreat. We flattered ourselves that we could without much difficulty discover the place, from our knowlege of the country in the environs of the metropolis; and more especially from the description given, and the landscape delineated by the hermit himself, in his first number.
Anxious to be assured that no accident, among the changes and chances incident to our mortality, had deprived us of so valuable a correspondent; we struck off from the great road down a lane, which terminates on the banks of one of those rivers, that wash the borders of our city. Then bending our course upwards, by the various windings and turnings of this romantic river; panting and ascending many a cragged height, and descending again through many a rough and briery thicket, till at length a little before night-fall, we found ourselves in the middle of a small vale, hemmed in by a gentle rising hill on one side, and by the river, pouring its rapid torrent over rough rocks, on the other side; and fretting, and roaring its complaints at the resistance it met with in its way to mix its tribute with its parent ocean!
By the foot of the aforesaid hill, a small brook ran babbling through the vale, over a pebbly bottom, till it lost itself in the river. Directing our view through a little opening, cleared of the shrubs and underwood, up the slope, or side of the hill, we observed on its brow a tuft of trees, embracing in their bosom, a little log-built cottage, its ivy covered walls almost buried from human sight.
This we immediately concluded to be the habitation of our venerable friend, and began to direct our
course up towards it. We had not proceeded far before we discovered, between the trunks of two trees, a person sitting in a contemplative posture. His face was towards the setting sun, and he held in his hand a scroll of paper. Before him, in vast extent, seen through the aforesaid opening, the river rolled its mazy current along; from whose surface ten thousand glittering sun beams were reflected, in trembling radiance. Every mountain-top was illumined with gold; and the variety of colours, exhibited by the fading woods, was beyond the power of language to paint. A herd of cattle appeared also in view, drawing towards a small farm house (that seemed to be their master's home) often stooping and chopping the withered herbage, as they went along.
While we approached, we had a full opportunity of viewing the personage mentioned above. He seemed to be in his prime of age, and had a peculiar majesty in his appearance. His look was piercing and quick, through all that air of care and melancholy that had visibly overspread it. We were awed with the majesty of his person, and thought it would be criminal to intrude upon that hallowed intercourse, in which he appeared to be employed. We, therefore, paused; while he, without observing us, started from his seat, in a fit of extasy and agitation, that chained us to the ground in wonder and attention
"O amiable Nature, and thou divine Solitude! "How delightful are your scenes, and how improv"ing to the soul! What is man, vain man, when continually tossed in one feverish round of noise "and company? At best his happiness is insub
"stantial; but in such a case he is completely misera"ble! A stranger to reflexion, he is hurried headlong "into every species of folly, by his own distempered
passions; and each moment of his existence passes "unenjoyed away! But thou, sacred Solitude, dost "restore ourselves to ourselves. Thou teachest us "to walk with God, and live over again the great “patriarchal life! Thou leavest us time to be wise, "and bidst us attend to the almighty Creator's voice,
sounding through all his works, in a language "which the heart may feel, though the tongue can"not utter-Yonder setting luminary! with what resplendent majesty he sheds abroad his rays! How many myriads have this day rejoiced in his enlivening beams! what a vast veriety of plants and animals "have felt his powerful energy! And now he departs, "for a while, to enlighten other regions; that life and
joy and rest alternate may go round! What an "immense influence must he be possessed of to "communicate such inexhausted streams of vivify"ing treasure to a whole world! But how infinitely "more immense that being, who not only made this
luminary, but ten thousand such that enlighten other "systems, scattered in endless profusion through "the vast void! How immense must be be who not
only made them at first in number, weight and "measure, but upholds and feeds their eternal fires, "from himself as acentre! And yet that being, through "all these suns and systems and worlds innumerable, “looks down-down with mercy and a father's eye even upon me!-O sovereign wisdom! "Thou universal good! receive, O receive"
Here the venerable rhapsodist made a pause, and stood in an attitude which no painter's fancy has ever yet been able to express or conceive,-and an attitude which shews human nature in its highest perfection and glory. His arms were stretched out, as if ready to clasp all creation in one glow of affection! His eyes were fixed on the heavens, as if drawn by some powerful cord to the throne of God! And the flush of triumph that overspread his countenance spoke the divine raptures of his heart-raptures, which, though we cannot describe, we must pronounce them happy who feel!
Having continued sometime in this posture, he was going to look into the scroll which he held in his hand. But, perceiving us, he recollected himself and approached to meet us, with the utmost composure of mind. He invited us to sit down, which having done, we made ourselves and our business known to him. He seemed to be a little uneasy at being discovered by us, and said that he thought the usefulness of his writings depended much on his being concealed from the world. We reminded him, that it was our intention likewise to remain concealed, and that though he and we had become known to each other, yet the world knew nothing the more of us on that account; and we might certainly trust one another. He seemed satisfied at this, and told us that he had sent his second paper to us that day, in which he had taken the liberty to recommend some things to us as writers, and to enforce them upon principles of religion and conscience. He added that, if we