Imagini ale paginilor

himself intricately in the grass and weeds, in order by their friction to facilitate the changing of his garment. The slough is found inverted without any rent in it; from which it appears that this reptile creeps out at the mouth of the slough, quitting the tail part last, in the same manner as eels are skinned.

Very few insects come forth so late in the season ; the phalena russula and papilio hyale, however, now make their appearance.

The most useful fruit that this country affords, the apple, successively ripens, according to its several varieties, from July to October: but the principal harvest of them is about the close of this month. "They are now gathered for our English vintage, the cider-making, which in some counties, particularly Worcestershire, Somersetshire, and Devonshire, is a busy and important employment; but, like the hop, it is so precarious a produce, as to render it unwise for the cultivator to place his chief dependence on it.

Autumn paints
Ausonian hills with grapes, whilst English plains
Blush with pomaceous harvests, breathing sweets.
O let me now, when the kind early dew
Unlocks th' embosomed odours, walk among
The well-ranged file of trees, whose full-aged stores
Diffuse ambrosial streams.
Now, now's the time; ere hasty suns forbid
The work, disburden thou thy sapless wood
Of its rich progeny; the turgid fruit
Abounds with mellow liquor.


The apples, after being carefully gathered, are laid awhile to mellow, and then crushed in a mill, and pressed till all their juice is extracted. This, after being fermented, becomes cider, which may properly be called apple-wine. Pears treated in the same manner yield a vinous liquor called

perry: The richest and strongest kinds are distributed for sale over the whole country, and the inferior sorts serve as common drink in the districts where they are produced.

Another agreeable product of our thickets and gardens the hazel-nut, is fit for gathering at this time.

[blocks in formation]

Ye virgins, come, for you their latest song
The woodlands raise; the clust'ring nuts for you
The lover finds amid the secret shade;
And, where they burnish on the topmost bough,
With active vigour crushes down the tree,
Or shakes them ripe from the resigning bush.

[graphic][ocr errors][merged small]

The oak now begins to shed its acorns, and the nuts fall from the beech, both of which have the name of mast. These, in the extensive woodland tracts of the Continent, afford a plentiful food to the swine, which are allowed to range in them at this period. In England, most of the old forests are fallen to decay, but in the few that still remain in the southern parts of the island, particularly the New Forest, this annual supply of what in the primitive times constituted the chief food of man, affords a luxurious pasturage for six weeks, from about the end of September, to the hogs that are kept on the borders of the forest. In Mr. Gilpin's elegant“ Remarks on Forest Scenery," there is a very entertaining account of the manners and management of the hogs during the time of their autumnal residence in the woods ; from which the following account is extracted.

“The first step the swineherd takes, is to investigate some close sheltered part of the forest, where there is a conveniency of water, and plenty of oak or beech mast; the former of which he prefers when he can have it in abundance. He next fixes on some spreading tree, round the bole of which he wattles a slight, circular fence of the dimensions he wants; and covering it roughly with boughs and sods, he fills it plentifully with straw or fern.

“ Having made this preparation, he collects his colony among the farmers, with whom he commonly agrees for a shilling a head, and will get together a herd of five or siz hundred hogs. Having driven them to their destined habitation, he gives them a plentiful supper of acorns or beech mast, which he had already provided, sounding his horn during the repast. He then turns them into the litter, where, after a long journey, and a hearty meal, they sleep deliciously.

“The next morning he lets them look a little around them, shows them the pool or stream where they may occasionally drink, leaves them to pick up the offals of the last night's meal, and as evening draws on, gives them another plentiful repast under the neighbouring trees, which rain acorns upon them for an hour together at the sound of his horn. He then sends them again to sleep.

“The following day he is perhaps at the pains of procuring them another meal, with music playing as usual. He then leaves them a little more to themselves, having an ere, however, on their evening hours. But as their bellies are full, they seldom wander far from home, retiring commonly very orderly and early to bed.

" After this he throws his stye open, and leaves them to cater for themselves; and henceforward has little more trouble with them during the whole time of their migration. Now and then in calm weather, when mast falls sparingly, he calls them together perhaps by the music of his horn to a gratuitous meal; but in general they need little attention, returning regularly home at night, though they often

ander in the day two or three miles from their stye. There are experienced leaders in all herds, which have spent this roving life before ; and can instruct their juniors in the method of it. By this management, the herd is carried ·

[blocks in formation]

home to their respective owners in such condition, that a little dry meat will soon fatten them.”

On the twenty-second of September happens the autumnal equinox ; that is, the sun arrives at one of the two equinoctial points, formed by the crossing of the equator and equinoctial circle, at which period the days and nights are equal all over the earth. This, as well as the vernal equinox, is generally attended with heavy storms of wind and rain, which throw down much of the fruit that yet remains on the trees.

By the end of this month the leaves of many trees lose their green colour, and begin to assume their autumnal tints; which, however, are not complete till the ensuing month.


I saw old Autumn in the misty morn
Stand shadowless like silence, listening
To silence, for no lonely bird would sing
Into his hollow ear from woods forlorn,
Nor lowly hedge nor solitary thorn ;-
Shaking his languid locks all dewy bright
With tangled gossamer that fell by night,
Pearling his coronet of golden corn.


Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,

Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun; Conspiring with him how to load and bless

With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run; To bend with apples the mossed cottage-tress,

And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core ; To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells

With a sweet kernel ; to set budding more, And still more, later flowers for the bees,

Until they think warm days will never cease, For Summer has o'er-brimmed their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store ?

Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,

Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing-wind; Or on a half reaped furrow sound asleep,

Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers :

And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep Steady thy laden head across a brook ;

Or by a cyder-press, with patient look, Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours. Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?

Think not of them, thou hast thy music too, While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,

And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue ;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn

Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;

And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft

The red-breast whistles from a garden croft ; And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.



September 26th.—“One of those delicious autumnal days when the air, the sky, and the earth, seem lulled into an universal calm, softer and milder even than they. We sallied forth,” says Miss Mitford, " for a walk, in a mood congenial to the weather and season, avoiding by mutual consent the bright and sunny common, another gay high-road, and stealing through shady unfrequented lanes, where we were not likely to meet any one,-not even the pretty family procession which in other years we used to contemplate with so much interest -father, mother, and children returning from the wheat-field, the little ones laden with close-tied bunches of wheat-ears, their own gleanings, or a bottle and a basket which had con

« ÎnapoiContinuați »