« ÎnapoiContinuă »
'Now, seest thou aught in this lone scene
And where the earth seems scorch'd by flame,
And toil'd the kerchief'd village dame
"The ever-green meadows are indeed still beautiful, and the more so for the cattle that now stud them almost everywhere, the second crops of grass being long since off. The hedge-rows, too, have lost much of their sweet tapestry of flowers, and even their late many-tinted greens are sobered down. The woodbine again flings up, here and there, its bunches of pale flowers, after having ceased to do so for many weeks. But they have no longer the rich luxuriance of their spring bloom, nor even the delicious scent which belonged to them when the vigour of youth was upon them.
"It follows, from this general absence of wild flowers, that we are no longer greeted, on our morning or evening wanderings, by those exquisite odours that float about upon the wings of every summer wind, and come upon the captivated sense like strains of music.
"Even the summer birds, both songsters and others, begin to leave us urged thereto by a prophetic instinct that will not be disobeyed; for there is no season apparentlymore delightfully adapted to their pleasures and wants. But we have some other pretty sights belonging to the open country which must not be passed over, and one which the whole year, in point of place, can scarcely parallel. The sunsets of September
in this country are perhaps unrivalled for their infinite variety and their indescribable beauty. Those of more southern countries may perhaps match, or even surpass them, for a certain glowing and unbroken intensity. But for gorgeous variety of form and colour, exquisite delicacy of tint and pencilling, and a certain placid sweetness and tenderness of general effect, which frequently arises out of a union of the two latter, there is nothing to be seen like what we can show in England at If a painter, who was capable of this season of the year. doing it to the utmost perfection, were to dare depict on canof the twenty of the sunsets that we frequently have during this month, he would be laughed at for his pains.
vass one out
"Now thistle-down, and the beautiful winged seed of the dandelion, float along through the calm air upon their voyages of discovery. Wood-owls hoot louder than ever, and the lambs bleat shrilly from the hill-side to their neglectful dams; and the thresher's flail is heard from the unseen barn, and the ploughboy's whistle comes through the silent air from the distant upland; and snakes leave their last-year's skins in the brakes- literally creeping out at their own mouths. The acorns drop in showers from the oaks at every wind that blows; and as to the fruit-garden, it is one scene of tempting profusion. Against the wall, the grapes have put on that transparent look which indicates their complete ripeness, and have dressed their cheeks in that delicate bloom which enables them to bear away the bell of beauty from all their rivals. The peaches and nectarines have become fragrant, and the whole wall where they hung is musical with bees.' Along the espaliers the rosy-cheeked apples look out from among their leaves, like laughing children peeping at each other through screens of foliage; and the young standards bend their straggling boughs to the earth with the weight of their produce."
Shelley thus alludes to the falling leaves of autumn in his "Ode to the West Wind:"
"O! wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn's being-
Make me thy lyre, even as the forest is :
“There is in the grey and sober tinting of an evening in autumn—in the many-coloured hues of the trembling foliage, in the fitful sighing of the breeze, in the mournful call of the partridge, in the soft low piping of the redbreast, and above all, in the sweet plaintive warbling of the thrush, the blackbird, and the woodlark,—a union of sight and sound which can scarcely fail to touch the breast with a corresponding sense of pensive pleasure. More especially is this felt to be the case, if, while we are contemplating such a scene, the setting sun, hitherto shrouded in the gathering gloom, should gleam a farewell lustre on the fields: it is then that our emotions harmonise most completely with external nature, and we are bowed before the majesty of our Creator."
"The little excursions," says Mr. Knapp, " of the naturalist, from habit and from acquirement, become a scene of constant observation and remark. The insect that crawls, the note of the bird, the plant that flowers, or the vernal green leaf
that peeps out, engages his attention, is recognised as an intimate, or noted from some novelty that it presents in sound or aspect. Every season has its peculiar product, and is pleasing or admirable from causes that variously affect our different temperaments or dispositions; but there are accompaniments in an autumnal morning's woodland walk that call for all our notice and admiration: the peculiar feeling of the air, and the solemn grandeur of the scene around us, dispose the mind to contemplation and remark; there is a silence in which we hear everything, a beauty that will be observed. The stump of an old tree is a very landscape, with rugged alpine steeps bursting through forests of verdant masses, with some pale, denuded, branchless lichen, like a scathed oak, creeping up the sides or crowning the summit. Rambling with unfettered grace, the tendrils of the briony festoon with its brilliant berries, green, yellow, and red, the slender sprigs of the hazel or the thorn: it ornaments their plainness, and receives a support its own feebleness denies. The agaric, with all its hues, its shades, its elegant variety of forms, expands its cone sprinkled with the freshness of the morning; a transient fair-a child of decay, that 'sprang up in a night, and will perish in a night.' The squirrel, agile with life and timidity, gambolling round the root of an ancient beech, its base overgrown with the dewberry, blue with unsullied fruit, impeded in his frolic sports, halfangry, darts up the silvery bole again, to peep and wonder at the strange intruder on his haunts. The jay springs up, and screaming, tells of danger to her brood; the noisy tribe repeat the call, are hushed, and leave us: the loud laugh of the woodpecker, joyous and vacant; the hammering of the nuthatch cleaving its prize in the chink of some dry bough; the humblebee, torpid on the disc of the purple thistle, just lifts a limb to pray forbearance of injury, to ask for peace, and bid us leave him to repose.
"The cinquefoil, or the vetch, with one lingering bloom, yet appears, and we note it from its loneliness. Spreading on the
light foliage of the fern, dry and mature, the spider has fixed her toils, and motionless in the midst watches her expected prey; every thread and mesh beaded with dew, and trembling with the zephyr's breath. Then falls the 'sere and yellow leaf,' parting from its spray without a breeze tinkling on the boughs, and rustling scarce audibly along, rests at our feet, and tells us that we part too. All these are distinctive symbols of the season, marked in the silence and sobriety of the hour, and form, perhaps, a deeper impression on the mind than any afforded by the verdant promises, the vivacities of spring, or the gay profuse luxuriance of summer.
"In a woodland autumnal ramble, we are naturally, almost irresistibly, led to contemplate that beautiful and varied race of vegetation included under the name of fungi, so particularly fostered by this season, and which so greatly delight to spring up in sylvan moisture and decay: nor is there, perhaps, any country better constituted for the production of the whole of this family than England is, particularly that portion of them denominated agarics. The various natures of our soil and pastures, the profusion of our woods and copses, the humidity of our climate, united with the general warmth of autumn, accelerating rapid decay and putrescence of vegetable matter, all combine to give existence to this race. No county is, I believe, more favoured for the production of most of the kinds than Monmouth, with its deep dark woods and alpine downs. A residence in that portion of the kingdom for some years introduced to my notice a larger portion of this singular race than every botanist is acquainted with,-a sportsman then; but I fear I shall be called a recreant brother of the craft, when I own having more than once let my woodcock escape, to secure and bear away some of these fair but perishable children of the groves. Travellers tell us of the splendour of this race in the jungles of Madagascar; but nothing surely can exceed the beauty of some copse in Monmouthshire, deep in the valley, calm, serene-shaded by the pensile, elegant, autumnal-tinted