The Autobiography of Leigh Hunt: With Reminiscences of Friends and Contemporaries - Vol. 2

By Walter Scott | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXIII.
AT HOME IN ENGLAND.

Highgate and Hampstead.--Italian and English landscape.--Verses to June.--Traveling domiciles.--The Parnaso Italiano.--Idealisms familiarized.--The Arcadians of Italy.--Spenser, Milton, and other cockney poets.--Graces and anxieties of pig-driving.--Exhausted and befriended fortunes.--The Companion.--Sir Ralph Esher.-- Composition of verse.--A poem with a commentary.--Active molecules.--Inaudible utterance.--A poetical project

ON returning to England, we lived a while at Highgate, where I took possession of my old English scenery and my favorite haunts, with a delight proportionate to the difference of their beauty from that of beautiful Italy. For a true lover of nature does not require the contrast of good and bad in order to be delighted; he is better pleased with harmonious variety. He is content to wander from beauty to beauty, not losing his love for the one because he loves the other. A variation on a fine theme of music is better still than a good song after a bad one. It retains none of the bitterness of fault-finding.

I used to think in Italy that I was tired of vines and olives, and the sharp outlines of things against indigo skies; and so I was; but it was from old love, and not from new hatred. I humored my dislike because I knew it was ill founded. I always loved the scenery at heart, as the cousin-german of all other lovely scenery, especially of that which delighted me in books.

But in England I was at home; and in English scenery I found my old friend "pastoral" still more pastoral. It was like a breakfast of milk and cream after yesterday's wine. The word itself was more verified: for pastoral comes from pasture; it implies cattle feeding, rather than vines growing, or even goats browsing on their tops; and

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