« PreviousContinue »
“ Now the rosy (and lazy) fingered Aurora, issuing from her saffron house, calls up the moist vapours to surround her, and goes veiled with them as long as she can ; till Phæbus, coming forth in his power, looks everything out of the sky, and holds sharp uninterrupted empire from his throne of beams. Now the mower begins to make his sweeping cuts more slowly, and resorts oftener to the beer. Now the carter sleeps a-top of his load of hay, or plods with double slouch of shoulder, looking out with eyes winking under his shading hat, and with a hitch upward of one side of his mouth. Now the little girl at her grandmother's cottage-door watches the coaches that go by, with her hand held up over her sunny forehead. Now labourers look well resting in their white shirts at the doors of rural alehouses. Now an elm is fine there with a seat under it; and horses drink out of the trough, stretching their yearning necks with loosened collars ; and the traveller calls for his glass of ale, having been without one for more than ten minutes ; and his horse stands wincing at the flies, giving sharp shivers of his skin, and moving to and fro his ineffectual docked tail; and now Miss Betty Wilson, the host's daughter, comes streaming forth in a flowered gown and ear-rings, carrying with four of her beautiful fingers the foaming glass, for which, after the traveller has drunk it, she receives with an indifferent eye, looking another way, the lawful twopence ; – that is to say, unless the traveller, nodding his ruddy face, pays some gallant compliment to her before he drinks, such as I'd rather kiss you, my dear, than the tumbler !' or 'I'll wait for you, my love, if
'll marry me !' upon which, if the man is goodlooking, and the lady in good-humour, she smiles and bites her lips, and says, 'Ah! men can talk fast enough ! upon
which the old stage-coachman, who is buckling something near her before he sets off, says in a hoarse voice, 'So can women too, for that matter !' and John Boots grins through his ragged red locks, and doats on the repartee all the day after. Now grasshoppers fry,' as Dryden says. Now cattle stand in water,
and ducks are envied. Now boots and shoes, and trees by the road-side, are thick with dust; and dogs rolling in it after issuing out of the water, into which they have been thrown to fetch sticks, come scattering horror among the legs of the spectators. Now a fellow who finds he has three miles farther to go in a pair of tight shoes is in a pretty situation. Now rooms with the sun upon them become intolerable ; and the apotheeary's apprentice, with a bitterness beyond aloes, thinks of the pond he used to bathe in at school. Now men with powdered heads (especially if thick) envy those that are unpowdered, and stop to wipe them up hill, with countenances that seem to expostulate with destiny. Now boys assemble round the village pump with a ladle to it, and delight to make a forbidden splash, and get wet through the shoes. Now also they make suckers of leather, and bathe all day long in rivers and ponds, and follow the fish into their cool corners, and
millions of 'My eyes !' at tittle-bats. Now the bee, as he hums along, seems to be talking heavily of the heat. Now doors and brick walls are burning to the hand ; and a walled lane, with dust and broken bottles in it, near a brick-field, is a thing not to be thought of. Now a green lane, on the contrary, thick set with hedge-row elms, and having the noise of a brook 'rumbling in pebbly stone,' is one of the pleasantest things in the world. Now youths and damsels walk through hay-fields by chance : and the latter say, 'Ha’ done then, William !' and the overseer in the next field calls out to let thic thear hay thear bide ;' and the girls persist, merely to plague 'such a frumpish old fellow.
“Now, in town, gossips talk more than ever to one another, in rooms, in doorways, and out of windows, always beginning the conversation with saying that the heat is overpowering. Now blinds are let down, and doors thrown open, and flannel waistcoats left off, and cold meat preferred to hot, and wonder expressed why tea is so refreshing; and people delight to sliver lettuces into bowls, and apprentices water doorways with tin
canisters that lay several atoms of dust. Now the water-cart, jumbling along the middle of the streets, and jolting the showers out of its box of water, really does something. Now boys delight to have a water-pipe let out, and set it bubbling away in a tall and frothy column. Now fruiterers' shops and dairies look pleasant, and ices are the only things to those who can get them. Now ladies loiter in baths ; and people make presents of flowers, and wine is put into ice ; and the afterdinner lounger recreates his head with applications of perfumed water out of long-necked bottles. Now the lounger, who cannot resist riding his new horse, feels his boots burn him. Now buck-skins are not the lawn of Cos. Now jockeys, walking in great-coats to lose flesh, curse inwardly. Now five fat people in a stage-coach hate the sixth fat one who is coming in, and think he has no right to be so large. Now clerks in offices do nothing but drink soda-water and spruce-beer, and read the newspaper. Now the old-clothes-man drops his solitary cry more deeply into the areas on the hot and forsaken side of the street; and bakers look vicious; and cooks are aggravated ; and the steam of a tavern-kitchen catches hold of one like the breath of Tartarus. Now delicate skins are beset with gnats ; and boys make their sleeping companion start up with playing a burning-glass on his hand; and blacksmiths are super-carbonated ; and cobblers in their stalls almost feel a wish to be transplanted ; and butter is too easy to spread ; and the dragoons wonder whether the Romans liked their helmets; and old ladies with their lappets unpinned walk along in a state of dilapidation; and the servant-maids are afraid they look vulgarly hot; and the author, who has a plate of strawberries brought him, finds that he has come to the end of his writing.” -Indicator.
“ Now come the rosy June, and blue-eyed Hours,
With song of birds, and stir of leaves and wings,
And hourly burst of pretty buds to flowers ;
WEBBE's Lyric Leaves,
In White's History of Selborne are the following excellent remarks on moisture arising from trees :
“In heavy fogs, on elevated situations especially, trees are perfect alembics ; and no one that has not attended to such matters can imagine how much water one tree will distil in a night's time, by condensing the vapour, which trickles down the twigs and boughs, so as to make the ground below quite in a float. In Newton Lane, on a misty day, a particular oak in leaf dropped so fast, that the cart-way stood in puddles, and the ruts ran with water, though the ground in general was dusty.
“ In some of our smaller islands in the West Indies, if I mistake not, there are no springs or rivers; but the people are supplied with that necessary element, water, merely by the dripping of some large tall trees, which standing in the bosom of a mountain, keep their heads constantly enveloped with fogs and clouds, from which they dispense their kindly, neverceasing moisture, and so render those districts habitable by condensation alone.
“ Trees in leaf have such a vast proportion more of surface than those that are naked, that, in theory, their condensations should greatly exceed those that are stripped of their leaves ; but, as the former imbibe also a great quantity of moisture, it is difficult to say which drip most ;—but this I know, that deciduous trees, that are entwined with much ivy, seem to distil
the greatest quantity. Ivy leaves are smooth, and thick, and cold, and therefore condense very fast ; and besides, evergreens imbibe very little. These facts may furnish the intelligent with hints concerning what sorts of trees they should plant round small ponds that they would wish to be perennial, and show them how advantageous some trees are in preference to others. Trees perspire profusely, condense largely, and check evaporation so much that woods are always moist : no wonder, therefore, that they contribute much to pools and streams.
“ That trees are great promoters of lakes and rivers, appears from a well-known fact in North America : for since the woods and forests have been grubbed and cleared, all bodies of water are much diminished; so that some streams that were very considerable a century ago will not now drive a common mill. Besides, most woodlands, forests, and chases, with us, abound with pools and morasses, no doubt for the reason given above,
“ To a thinking mind, few phenomena are more strange than the state of little ponds on the summits of chalk-hills, many of which are never dry in the most trying droughts of summer ; -on chalk-hills, I say, because, in many rocky and gravelly soils, springs usually break out pretty high on the sides of elevated grounds and mountains; but no person acquainted with chalky districts will allow that they ever saw springs in such a soil, but in valleys and bottoms, since the waters of so pervious a stratum as chalk all lie on one dead level, as well-diggers have often assured me.
“ Now we have many such little round ponds in this district ; and one in particular on our sheep-down, three hundred feet above my house; which, though never above three feet deep in the middle, and not more than thirty feet in diameter, and containing, perhaps, not more than two or three hundred hogsheads of water, yet never is known to fail, though it affords drink for three or four hundred sheep, and for at least twenty head of large cattle beside. This pond, it is true, is overhung with two moderate beeches, that doubtless at times