The Crown of Wild Olive

The Crown of Wild Olive

The Crown of Wild Olive

The Crown of Wild Olive

Excerpt

Twenty years ago, there was no lovelier piece of lowland scenery in South England, nor any more pathetic, in the world, by its expression of sweet human character and life, than that immediately bordering on the sources of the Wandel, and including the low moors of Addington, and the villages of Beddington and Carshalton, with all their pools and streams. No clearer or diviner waters ever sang with constant lips of the hand which 'giveth rain from heaven;' no pastures ever lightened in spring-time with more passionate blossoming; no sweeter homes ever hallowed the heart of the passer-by with their pride of peaceful gladness, —fain—hidden—yet full-confessed. The place remains (1870) nearly unchanged in its larger features ; but with deliberate mind I say, that I have never seen anything so ghastly in its inner tragic meaning, —not in Pisan Maremma, —not by Campagna tomb, —not by the sand-isles of the Torcellan shore, —as the slow stealing of aspects of reckless, indolent, animal neglect, over the delicate sweetness of that English scene : nor is any blasphemy or impiety, any frantic saying, or godless thought, more appalling to me, using the best power of judgment I have to discern its sense and scope, than the insolent defiling of those springs by the human herds that drink of them. Just where the welling of stainless water, trembling and pure, like a body of light, enters the pool of Carshalton, cutting itself a radiant channel down to the gravel, through warp of feathery weeds, all waving, which it traverses with its deep threads of clearness, like the chalcedony . . .

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