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tribute to its support without pain or undue exertion ; and viewing with much approbation and pleasure this long-established custom, as a relaxation from domestic confinement, when every cottage is locked up and abandoned by its inmates, to pursue this innocent, healthful, laudable employ, where every grain that is collected is saved from waste, and converted to the benefit of a needy and laborious community.
“ The commencement of many ceremonies and solemnities are lost by perversion, or in the obscurity of years; the stream of habit may trickle on from age to age, till it flows in time a steady current, yet the original source remain unknown: but this custom of gleaning the remnant of the field we know existed from the earliest periods, three thousand years and upwards for certain ; for, if it were not then first instituted, it was secured and regulated by an especial ordinance of the Almighty to the Israelites in the wilderness, as a privilege to be fully enjoyed by the poor of the land, whenever their triumphant armies should enter into possession of Canaan.
* By this law, the leasing of three products was granted to the destitute inhabitants of the soil, – the olive, the grapevine, and corn. The olive-tree was to be beaten but once; the scattered grape in the vintage was not to be gathered ; and in the field where the corn grew, 'clean riddance' was not to be made—the corners were to be left unreaped, and even the forgotten sheaf was not to be fetched away by the owner, but to be left for the
poor and the stranger, the fatherless and the widow. This was not simply declared once, as an act of mercy, but enjoined and confirmed by ordinances thrice repeated, and impressed with particular solemnity: 'I am the Lord thy God; I have given thee all, and I command unreserved obedience to this my appointment.
“Revolving in all our minds, as we old-mannered people often do, the forms, rites, and usages of earlier days, we occasionally regret that fashions by gradual neglect have passed away, and can never be revived, to give that feeling of
pleasure which a natural growth seemed to have inspired. Some, though probably of pagan origin, were innocent and harmless practices. The May-pole, with all its flowery wreaths, so often surrounded by the dance and the song, is now but seldom seen where we have known it, especially in the lacemaking counties, the evening and almost sole recreation, after long hours of unhealthy occupation, for happy groups of
• Those pale maids who weave their threads with bone;' and it gave these poor villagers a transient glow of health, seen then alone: but it is gone with the rest, and we grieve to think how little remains that poverty and innocence can partake of. Others were of monkish introduction, yet seemed to keep in remembrance the revolutions of seasons and events which, though recorded elsewhere, had become the types of written things."
The China aster is now in bloon, and continues flowering until October. It is one of the principal ornaments of the garden at this season. The mountain-ash appears in its greatest beauty, decorated with a profusion of coral berries, which increase in richness of hue as the autumn advances; the amaranth is also in flower, by some called love-lies-bleeding, which name doubtless arose from the peculiar manner in which its red flowerstalks fall on the earth. The hollyhock is in bloom, rising with its long stem above all other flowers, and tempting the bee to revel in the sweetness of its bells, until it becomes inebriated. But we must not pass over the amaranth without giving a few lines from some of the poets. And first Milton makes the angels lay down their crowns of amaranths.
“ To the ground
To heaven removed, where first it grew, there grows
Impurpled with celestial roses smiled.” Moore also speaks of them as being woven among the ringlets of the Zamarian maidens :
“ Amaranths such as crown the maids
That wander through Zamara's shades.” The round-leaved bell-flower, which began to blow last month, is now in full bloom, and has a most beautiful appearance among the last relics of the summer race, hanging out its light blue flowers, like fairy bells, and lighting up the sides of banks, and the very verge of fields, and all out-of-the-way places, amid ruins, or on heaths, and drooping occasionally from the barren brow of the rock.
“ With drooping bells of clearest blue,
So lightly trembling.
I've seen thee tangled,
With dew-drops spangled.
Still freshly springing ;
But most I love thine azure braid,
And thou appearest
Whose last are dearest.”
The flowers are daily diminishing ; many that were in their full beauty a few weeks ago are now running to seed. The heaths still wear a rich mantle, having cast off the golden tints of spring, and assumed the velvet purpleness of summer's last flowers, the deep heath-bell and bushling. Moist lands and the sides of ditches are yet beautiful with the white and yellow water-lilies, the brown-belled rush, water-flags, the pink blossoms of the meadow-saffron, the gaudy loosestrife, and many others, which rear their flowers and fresh green stems as proudly as if summer had but commenced. Some of the autumnal species of the lovely amaryllis now begin to blow, the most beautiful of all the lilaceous tribe ; and a few roses may still be seen ; but the leaves of the beech are turning yellow, and we feel the air cooler at morn and even, and know that summer
her green wings and fly away. August is so called in compliment to the Roman Emperor Augustus; and by the Anglo-Saxons, Arn-monat, or Harvest month.
“ It is,” says the “Mirror of the Months,' “ that debateable ground of the year which is situated upon the confines of summer and autumn: it is dressed in half the flowers of the one, and half the fruits of the other; it has a sky and temperature all its own, which vie in beauty with those of the spring. May itself can offer nothing so sweet to the senses, so enchanting to the imagination, and so soothing to the heart, as that genial influence which arises from the sights, the sounds, and the associations connected with an August evening in the country, when the occupations and pleasures of the day are done. There is no delight equal to that felt by a true lover of Nature, when
will soon open
he looks forth
open face silently, at a season like the present, and drinks in that still beauty which seems to emanate from everything he sees, till his whole senses are steeped in a sweet forgetfulness. The whole face of Nature, since last month, has undergone an obvious change. Everything is still green: but it is not the fresh and tender green of spring, nor the full and satisfying, though somewhat dull green
of summer; but many greens that blend all those belonging to the above-named seasons.
“The general appearance of natural scenery is now much more varied in its character than it has hitherto been.
The cornfields (such as remain uncut) are all redundant with waving gold-gold of all hues, from the light yellow to the deep glow of sunburnt red. But the wide rich sweeps of these fields are now broken in upon, here and there, by patches of the parched and withered-looking bean-crops; by occasional bits of newly-ploughed land, where the rye lately stood ; by the now darkening turnips- dark except where they are being fed off by sheep-flocks; and lastly, by the still bright green meadows, now studded everywhere with grazing cattle, the second crops of grass being already gathered in.
“The woods, as well as the single timber-trees that occasionally start up with such fine effect from out the hedgerows, or in the midst of meadows and cornfields, we shall now find sprinkled with what at first looks like gleams of scattered sunshine lying among the leaves; but what, on examination, we shall find to be the new foliage that has put forth since midsummer, and which, in places, yet retains all the brilliant green of spring. The effect of this new green, lying in sweeps and patches upon the old, though little observed in general, is one of the most beautiful appearances of the season. In many cases, when the sight of it is caught near at hand, on the sides of thick plantations, the effect of it is perfectly deceptive, and you wonder for a moment, while