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“ I have sent through the wood-paths a glowing sigh,
And call'd out each voice of the deep blue sky;
“ From the streams and founts I have loosed the chain ;
They are sweeping on to the silvery main,
“ Come forth, Oye children of gladness, come!
Where the violets lie may be now your home.
Away from the dwellings of care-worn men-
“ But ye !—ye are changed since ye met me last !
There is something bright from your features pass’d !
“ Ye are changed, ye are changed !--and I see not here
All whom I saw in the vanish'd year.
“ There were steps that flew o'er the cowslip's head,
As if for a banquet all earth were spread ;
“ The summer is coming, on soft winds borne
Ye may press the grape, ye may bind the corn!
It is so per
I never look upon the free, open green in our English villages, which no one seems to claim for his own, and see the large old solitary oak, elm, or sycamore towering in its centre, and spreading its shadowy branches above the rude benches that surround its trunk, but I think of the many good and evil tidings which have for ages been talked of there. fect an English picture, to see the old men, when their day's work is done, assemble there one after another, smoking their long pipes, and sitting down to talk over the progress of crops, the appearance of the weather, the health and prosperity or adversity of their neighbours, while their children are rolling and laughing upon the unclaimed grass, or playing with the harmless shepherd's-dog. And then to observe the knowing looks of the older children, drinking in the words of the elders with wonder, and marvelling in their little minds how such things can be -how care can exist in a world where there are so many nests, so much good milk, such large hunches of brown bread and cheese, and so many green fields and beautiful flowers ! And then the strange conclusions they leap to when among theniselves,—the various versions of what they have heard, and the wonderful constructions they put upon things too weighty for their intellects! Even then you may trace dawnings of the
stronger mind; the doubting look, the unwillingness to give credence to the decision, the knowing shake of the head, and all those little motions which indicate doubt. The questions they put to their parents, the sparkling of their eyes when their minds are just able to grapple with the subject, and the shrewd way in which they make their inquiries, are well worth studying. Then to look round the green, and see all those little whitewashed cottages, so neatly thatched, seldom containing more than one story, but each standing upon plenty of ground, with a little garden at the front, a few beehives, or a row of milk-pans, all clean and arranged in order ; some of the fronts overgrown with woodbine, which in their unchecked luxuriance have partially hidden the parlour-window. Then to think of the beauty, the health, the repose that breathe around such spots: the singing of birds; the humming-bees, the gaudy butterflies, passing or crossing each other; the waving of the trees, the lowing of kine, the bleating of sheep, the neighing of young colts; the milkmaid's song as she walks past with wellfilled pail, or sits under some pleasant tree: all these are things that sink into the heart-sights that we sigh for in the dense city, amid the roll of carriages and the vociferations of jostled passengers. Then to see the sun set upon such a tranquil scene; the blue smoke rising in unbended pillars and mixing with the deep foliage; the sloping beam gilding a distant rivulet, or bathing in crimson the top of a far-off wood; the church-spire rising in its grey antiquity, and looking down upon the lovely groves scattered at its base; the dim outline of the hills, the faint mist spreading over the valleys, a bell just heard from some neighbouring village, the falling weir, the bay of a distant mastiff, the clap of an old gate, the song of the ploughboy returning home! Live not all these images in the heart, chasing away even care while we contemplate them, and throwing a soothing tranquillity over the soul—a rest which we remember, a poetry which owns no words, a delight which can never be forgotten ?
Then to wander up some sequestered lane, scarcely different from the fields in respect to grass, so few were the vehicles that traversed it; the long high hedges on each side and the tall trees that arched overhead almost shutting out every other prospect ! On the shelving bank the beautiful blue periwinkle spreads itself, throwing out its bright leaves and limber runners, or mingling its lovely flowers with the wild rose to which it has climbed. Hawthorns, which have never been pruned, but left alone to the hand of Nature, have assumed the appearance of the skirts of a forest, so thick, so high, so impenetrable have they grown. The fragrant honeysuckle dangles before you, sweeping across the face as if inviting you to inhale its odour ; and the mossy banks rise high on each hand, green and cool, a couch not to be despised. Oh! what a place is that for violets and primroses ! what hundreds have been gathered there !—ay, perhaps, years ago, hoary old men can tell you how they wandered there in spring when they were children, and filled their little pinafores and came home laden with boughs of May. And many a sad mother recollects that lane, for there she plucked the flowers with which she adorned the coffin of her innocent child.—What numbers of birds assemble there! Every step you take startles some sweet songster, who hurries away until you
have passed into the sunnier fields. Even their nests are secure there : the depth of the hedges and the dark umbrage of the overhanging trees conceal them from the lynx-eyes of the young urchin ; or if he chances to catch a glimpse of one, the impenetrable barrier of old hawthorns and briars renders his exertions useless. These are choice places for snail-shells, some of them of the richest colours, striped with regular lines of crimson, and yellow, and black. The boys often collect them, and extracting the snail, press the points of the shells together, and he whose shell is first broken, is considered beaten : they sometimes find a shell that will break scores without being fractured, and happy is the wight who owns such a one !
What beauty there is in the scenery of Nature, and how
often are we called upon to admire and enjoy the delights of the country by the poets! Cotton says:
“ Good God ! how sweet are all things here !
How beautiful the fields appear !
“ Here I can eat, and sleep, and pray,
And do more good in one short day
“ Oh, how happy here's our leisure !
Oh, how innocent our pleasure !
“ How calm and quiet a delight
To walk, ride, sit, or sleep at one's own ease
And who will not say that such scenes as these are delightful ? -quiet, still, shady spots,—so very peaceful,
That a whispering blade
Among the leaves and twigs, might all be heard."