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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The glory of God's creation, from R. D. Blackmore's Lorna Doone

I recently re-read Lorna Doone, by R. D. Blackmore. I first read a condensed version of the book while I was in elementary school. The Wikipedia article on the book says that it was originally published anonymously in 1869, as a print run of only 300, because the author had difficulty finding a publisher, but that the book has never been out of print since. Here are a few excerpts from the book, all having to do with the glory found in the non-human world:

The rising of the sun was noble in the cold and warmth of it; peeping down the spread of light, he raised his shoulder heavily over the edge of grey mountain, and wavering length of upland. Beneath his gaze the dew-fogs dipped, and crept to the hollow places; then stole away in line and column, holding skirts, and clinging subtly at the sheltering corners, where rock hung over grass-land; while the brave lines of the hills came forth, one beyond other gliding. Then the woods arose in folds, like drapery of awakened mountains, stately with a depth of awe, and memory of the tempests. Autumn's mellow hand was on them, as they owned already, touched with gold, and red, and olive; and their joy towards the sun was less to a bridegroom than a father. Yet before the floating impress of the woods could clear itself, suddenly the gladsome light leaped over hill and valley, casting amber, blue, and purple, and a tint of rich red rose; according to the scene they lit on, and the curtain flung around; yet all alike dispelling fear and the cloven hoof of darkness, all on the wings of hope advancing, and proclaiming, "God is here." Then life and joy sprang reassured from every crouching hollow; every flower, and bud, and bird, had a fluttering sense of them; and all the flashing of God's gaze merged into soft beneficence. So perhaps shall break upon us that eternal morning, when crag and chasm shall be no more, neither hill and valley, nor great unvintaged ocean; when glory shall not scare happiness, neither happiness envy glory; but all things shall arise and shine in the light of the Father's countenance, because itself is risen.

R. D. Blackmore. Lorna Doone: A Romance of Exmoor (public domain). From Chapter XXXIII, "An Early Morning Call."

Now though it is part of my life to heed, it is no part of my tale to tell, how the wheat was coming on. I reckon that you, who read this story, after I am dead and gone (and before that none shall read it), will say, "Tush! What is his wheat to us? We are not wheat: we are human beings: and all we care for is human doings." This may be very good argument, and in the main, I believe that it is so. Nevertheless, if a man is to tell only what he thought and did, and not what came around him, he must not mention his own clothes, which his father and mother bought for him. And more than my own clothes to me, ay, and as much as my own skin, are the works of nature round about, whereof a man is the smallest.

R. D. Blackmore. Lorna Doone: A Romance of Exmoor (public domain). From Chapter L, "A Merry Meeting a Sad One."

God has made the earth quite large, with a spread of land large enough for all to live on, without fighting. Also a mighty spread of water, laying hands on sand and cliff with a solemn voice in storm-time; and in the gentle weather moving men to thoughts of equity. This, as well, is full of food; being two-thirds of the world, and reserved for devouring knowledge; by the time the sons of men have fed away the dry land. Yet before the land itself has acknowledged touch of man, upon one in a hundred acres; and before one mile in ten thousand of the exhaustless ocean has ever felt the plunge of hook, or combing of the haul-nets; lo, we crawl, in flocks together upon the hot ground that stings us, even as the black grubs crowd upon the harried nettle! Surely we are too much given to follow the tracks of each other.

R. D. Blackmore. Lorna Doone: A Romance of Exmoor (public domain). From Chapter LXIX, "Not to be Put up With." 

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