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A Desire to Regain his Native Country


“AH! Woods for ever dear! Delightful groves, whose verdure shades the heights of Hasel,1 when shall I return to repose on your bosom, where Philomel wantons on the light branches? When shall I lay myself on the declivity of those little hills which Nature hath spread with green carpets of moss, where nought is heard save the trembling leaves, agitated by the vernal airs, or the murmurs of a little brook that refreshes those solitary meads.”

“O Heaven! When wilt thou permit me to visit, once more, those vales where I passed the spring of my life; where, often to the murmurs of a falling cascade, my verse flowed in honour of my Sylvia; while the caresses of Zephyr, animating the grove, threw on my pensive soul a soft melancholy. There, every care was banished, while I sat in the umbrageous depth of those woods whose boughs were impenetrable to the beams of the sun.”

“Here, continually, have I to combat with my sorrows: my mind is oppressed with grief for ever renewed; and I know not the sweetness of tranquillity and joy. Far from the country where first I sprung into life: without parents, a stranger to all the world, abandoned to the ardours of youth, I find myself in possession of a dangerous liberty, without having learnt how to conduct myself.”

“Now disease shoots through my languishing frame, and stifles even the wish for glory, and for science! Now my disappointed hopes droop in the despondence of discouragement and grief: while the sea throws itself on the ruins of broken dykes, and brings its waves and death to our gates; and Mars threatens us with the flames of war which kindle from the ashes2.”

“But let us embrace comfort. All must terminate! The storm is weakened at each gust it blows. Past evils teach us to enjoy the present good. Who is a stranger to adversity, is alike a stranger to pleasure. Time, who, with his rapid wing, hath brought my affliction, conducts also my felicity. I may yet inhale the purer air of my native hills!”

“Ah! May I soon rejoin ye, groves beloved! And landscapes of spring! Ah! If Fate should indulge me once more to partake of the silent tranquillity of your solitude! Perhaps the day is not distant. The blue sky shines when the storm is departed, and repose succeeds to pain. Flourish, ye scenes of delight! While I prepare to make my last voyage, in returning to your peaceful shades.”

1 The neighbourhood of Berne.

2 The inundation of the sea, and the bursting of a dyke, happen very frequently, in winter, at Amsterdam.—The Dutch were then on the eve of a war.

Editor’s Notes

Note that the author in this case is Albrecht von Haller, and D’Israeli his translator.