Oliver Twist: Nature’s Foretaste of Heaven

Who can describe the pleasure and delight, the peace of mind and soft tranquillity, the sickly boy felt in the balmy air, and among the green hills and rich woods, of an inland village! Who can tell how scenes of peace and quietude sink into the minds of pain-worn dwellers in close and noisy places, and carry their own freshness, deep into their jaded hearts! Men who have lived in crowded, pent-up streets, through lives of toil, and who have never wished for change; men, to whom custom has indeed been second nature, and who have come almost to love each brick and stone that formed the narrow boundaries of their daily walks; even they, with the hand of death upon them, have been known to yearn at last for one short glimpse of Nature’s face; and, carried far from the scenes of their old pains and pleasures, have seemed to pass at once into a new state of being. Crawling forth, from day to day, to some green sunny spot, they have had such memories wakened up within them by the sight of the sky, and hill and plain, and glistening water, that a foretaste of heaven itself has soothed their quick decline, and they have sunk into their tombs, as peacefully as the sun whose setting they watched from their lonely chamber window but a few hours before, faded from their dim and feeble sight! The memories which peaceful country scenes call up, are not of this world, nor of its thoughts and hopes. Their gentle influence may teach us how to weave fresh garlands for the graves of those we loved: may purify our thoughts, and bear down before it old enmity and hatred; but beneath all this, there lingers, in the least reflective mind, a vague and half-formed consciousness of having held such feelings long before, in some remote and distant time, which calls up solemn thoughts of distant times to come, and bends down pride and worldliness beneath it.

—Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist (chapter 32)

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2 comments on “Oliver Twist: Nature’s Foretaste of Heaven

  1. Richard says:

    Sorry that this is off-topic, Sylvia, but I finally posted on my first book for your Mexico 2010 Reading Challenge. Are you still compiling links? If so,
    http://caravanaderecuerdos.blogspot.com/2010/07/el-testigo
    has my post on Juan Villoro's El testigo. ¡Saludos!

  2. Sylvia says:

    Not at all, Richard, thanks for the notice. I've added the link to the challenge page under your name. ¡Gracias!

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