For the first time in his life Howland now plunged into the heart of the wilderness, and as mile after mile slipped behind them and he sped deeper into the peopleless desolation of ice and snow and forest his blood leaped in swift excitement, in the new joy of life which he was finding up here under the far northern skies.
The voices of the birds which love the deeper shades of the forest are sadder than those of the open fields: these are the nuns that have taken themselves away from the world and tell their griefs to the infinite listening Silences of the wilderness,--for the one deep inner silence that Nature breaks with her fitful superficial sounds becomes multiplied as the image of a star in ruffled waters.
With Stuart leading them, and singing, in his joyous voice, "Old Joe Hooker, will you come out of the Wilderness!"--for courage, poetry, and seeming frivolity, were strangely mingled in this great soldier--the troops went headlong at the Federal works, and in a few moments the real struggle of the battle of Chancellorsville had begun.
But what think you of the prophet in the wilderness,--John I think they call him?
"Boaden, the author of several theatrical pieces, having given Drury lane theatre the title of a wilderness, Sheridan, when requested, shortly afterwards, to produce a tragedy, written by Boaden, replied, 'The wise and discreet author calls our house a wilderness:--now, I don't mind allowing the oracle to have his opinion; but it is really too much for him to expect, that I will suffer him to prove his words.'
One never tires of this bright chip of nature,--this brave little voice crying in the wilderness,--of observing his many works and ways, and listening to his curious language.
"We must perish in the wilderness.--Some day.
Perhaps the wild things saw her desperate efforts to find food in the wilderness,--the long hours of weary searching for a handful of berries that gave such little nourishment to his weakened body, or for a few acorns stored for winter by bird or rodent.
Then consider the garden of "my own," so overgrown, entangled with roses and lilies, as to be "a little wilderness"--the fawn loving to be there, and there "only"--the maiden seeking it "where it should lie"--and not being able to distinguish it from the flowers until "itself would rise"--the lying among the lilies "like a bank of lilies"--the loving to "fill itself with roses," "And its pure virgin limbs to fold In whitest sheets of lilies cold," and these things being its "chief" delights--and then the pre-eminent beauty and naturalness of the concluding lines, whose very hyperbole only renders them more true to nature when we consider the innocence, the artlessness, the enthusiasm, the passionate girl, and more passionate admiration of the bereaved child: "Had it lived long, it would have been Lilies without, roses within."
It had never ceased to thrill him since he first heard it broached,--the mad plan of a handful of persecuted believers, setting out from civilisation to found Zion in the wilderness,--to go forth a thousand miles from Christendom with nothing but stout arms and a very living faith in the God of Israel, and in Joseph Smith as his prophet, meeting death in famine, plagues, and fevers, freezing in the snows of the mountains, thirsting to death on the burning deserts, being devoured by ravening beasts or tortured to death by the sinful Lamanites; but persisting through it all with dauntless courage to a final triumph so glorious that the very Gods would be compelled to applaud the spectacle of their devoted heroism.
After having spoken of the different voices, of their power, of their effects, let us bestow a compassionate remembrance upon the lost voices, on those who were or who are still, in the most lamentable sense of that word, voices in the wilderness.--To be a man, a soul, to have felt the lighting of a holy flame within oneself; to love truth and justice; to feel the pain of contact with a life ruled over by falsehood and violence; at the heart of this poignant contrast between a divine ideal and a heart-rending reality, to receive from his conscience, from God himself, the command to speak; to put his life into this work, to renounce everything to be only a voice ... and after all this to see himself forsaken, neglected, despised!
At a given signal they faced about, and the men of Benjamin "were amazed" (panic-struck) and "turned their backs before the men of Israel unto the way of the wilderness,"--took to the woods, as we should say.
Once he murmured to himself,-- 'Through strange ways--strange ways--and though he let them wander out of the road in the wilderness;--we know how that goes on--' And then he fell into a mixed meditation--perhaps into a prayer.
All she came across was a marked verse that went something like this: "A book of verse underneath a bough, A Jug of wine, a loaf of bread and thou Beside me sitting in the wilderness-- Oh, wilderness is Paradise enow.
"But in the wilderness----" "One can shave as well as another can make curls," she reminded him, and there came an adorable little dimple at the corner of her mouth as she looked toward Paul Blackton.
As a baby she had been rocked in a cradle such as never before had been seen in the wilderness,--a very gem of wonderful carving and inlaid work from Spain.
After going ten yojanas he found a vihara, named "The Wilderness"--a place where Buddha had dwelt, and where there are monks now.
Those must have been sought much farther back than the coming of those first settlers into the wilderness,--as far back, perhaps, as the oldest traditions of the purest stock of the old English yeomanry from which these people were sprung.
I wouldn't let one of 'em into my room without serving 'em as David served Saul at the cave in the wilderness,--cut off his skirts, Sir!
dayes we pass ouer the wildernesse.
+wilderne+, wilderness, SkD; +wildrin+, desert, belonging to a wilderness, S2; +wildernesse+, wilderness, SkD; +wyldernys+, Voc.--AS.
Abulfeda says: "The Ocean turns northward along the east of China, and then expands in the same direction till it passes China, and comes opposite to the Rampart of Yajuj and Majuj;" whilst the same geographer's definition of the boundaries of China exhibits that country as bounded on the west by the Indo-Chinese wildernesses; on the south, by the seas; on the east, by the Eastern Ocean; on the north, by the land of Yajuj and Majuj, and other countries unknown.
Making your way through the fertile wilderness,--finding lively bits of interest now and then in the squirrels and Clark crows, and perchance in a deer or bear,--after the lapse of an hour or two vertical bars of sunshine are seen ahead between the brown shafts of the pines, showing that you are approaching an open space, and then you suddenly emerge from the forest shadows upon a delightful purple lawn lying smooth and free in the light like a lake.