Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 2.djvu/338

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302
[CANTO III.
CHILDE HAROLD’S PILGRIMAGE.

Archipelago around you; and another to trim your taper over it in a snug library—this I know. Were the early and rapid progress of what is called Methodism to be attributed to any cause beyond the enthusiasm excited by its vehement faith and doctrines (the truth or error of which I presume neither to canvass nor to question), I should venture to ascribe it to the practice of preaching in the fields, and the unstudied and extemporaneous effusions of its teachers. The Mussulmans, whose erroneous devotion (at least in the lower orders) is most sincere, and therefore impressive, are accustomed to repeat their prescribed orisons and prayers, wherever they may be, at the stated hours—of course, frequently in the open air, kneeling upon a light mat (which they carry for the purpose of a bed or cushion as required); the ceremony lasts some minutes, during which they are totally absorbed, and only living in their supplication: nothing can disturb them. On me the simple and entire sincerity of these men, and the spirit which appeared to be within and upon them, made a far greater impression than any general rite which was ever performed in places of worship, of which I have seen those of almost every persuasion under the sun; including most of our own sectaries, and the Greek, the Catholic, the Armenian, the Lutheran, the Jewish, and the Mahometan. Many of the negroes, of whom there are numbers in the Turkish empire, are idolaters, and have free exercise of their belief and its rites; some of these I had a distant view of at Patras; and, from what I could make out of them, they appeared to be of a truly Pagan description, and not very agreeable to a spectator.

[For this profession of "natural piety," compare Rousseau's Confessions, Partie II. livre xii. (Œuvres Complètes, 1837, i. 341)—

"Je ne trouve pas de plus digne hommage à la Divinité que cette admiration muette qu' excite la contemplation de ses œuvres, et qui ne s'exprime point par des actes développés. Je comprends comment les habitants des villes, qui ne voient que des murs, des rues et des crimes, ont peu de foi; mais je ne puis comprendre comment des campagnards, et surtout des solitaires, peuvent n'en point avoir. Comment leur âme ne s'élève-t-elle pas cent fois le jour avee extase à l'Auteur des merveilles qui les frappent?... Dans ma chambre je prie plus rarement et plus sèchement; mais à l'aspect d'un beau paysage je me sens ému sans pourvoir dire de quoi."

Compare, too, Coleridge's lines "To Nature"—

"So will I build my altar in the fields,

And the blue sky my fretted dome shall be,