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Which all, methinks, would love ; but chiefly he,
That singest like an angel in the clouds.” Alas ! for us, not him, “the old man eloquent” will sing no more! The “ Ancient Mariner” has voyaged to the silent sea of eternity.
Come now, and let us have a gossip in the forest, for summer will not last long. Let us look out from the broad heaths, and embodying now and then a few hints from bard or sage, examine the beauty of such scenes. Behold that fine clump of trees ! “What is a clump ?" exclaims some one ; and we find in Gilpin the following explanation :-“What number of trees make a clump no rules of art prescribe. In scenes brought near the eye, we call three or four trees a clump; but in distant and extensive scenery, we scruple not to use the term for any smaller detached part of a wood, though it may consist of some hundreds.
“Clumps, then, are a few trees standing together, sometimes in nearly a circle, which have a beautiful effect on the tops of hills; sometimes they stand in squares or triangles, and add much to the appearance of meadows. When they are planted in rows like a file of soldiers drawn up, they are not clumps, they must be huddled together to produce any good effect. A variety of trees produces the most beautiful appearance : oaks
intermingling their branches with ashes and elms, or even a few goodly firs, form a pleasing group, tossing their dark arms against the sky.
“ Nature always conducts the stems and branches in such easy forms, wherever there is an opening, and fills up all with so much nice contrivance, and, at the same time, with so much picturesque irregularity, that we rarely wish for an amendment in her works. So true indeed is this, that nothing is so dangerous as to take away a tree from a clump."- Mr. Gilpin further says, “No regular form is pleasing ; inequalities of all kinds are what chiefly give Nature's planting a superiority over Art.” And ever will, we add. Who ever gazes with the same sensation upon a tame, trim-fenced wood or plantation as upon the relics of an old forest ?-one that has been the haunt of wolves and wild boars in the olden time-one that has echoed to the bugle-horn of Robin Hood, and sheltered many a panting fallow-deer from the royal hunter in its leafy labyrinths ;—where even the fox can now find a midnight at noon-day in its dark dells, covered with old thorns and briars, and bristling in defiance to the foot of man ;
“ A covert of old trees, with trunks all hoar,
And light leaves young as joy.”
I would fain give the preference to Mr. Gilpin's descriptive pencil in delineating the different features of forest scenery, were it not that he too often halts to find fault. I shall therefore proceed, snatching a morsel from him when he is in the best humour. “ The park, which is a species of landscape little known except in England, is one of the noblest appendages of a great house. The rich green turf which characterises an English park is nowhere to be found after leaving Great Britain, till it is accidentally met with in some nook of a Swiss valley, or on the summit of some Apennine. The idea of some hundred acres of ground being set apart for pleasure around the residence of a nobleman or gentleman is a luxury
confined to this island.” A nobleman's house standing on an elevated knoll, and overlooking a distant country, yet almost hidden itself in its own park-screen of woods and trees, is a splendid sight. But I have dwelt in another place on the beauty of English parks, and shall conclude my remarks here with the following passage from Gilpin :—“ The most natural inhabitants of parks are fallow-deer, and very beautiful they are ; but flocks of sheep and herds of cattle are most useful, and also very beautiful : sheep, in particular, are very ornamental in a park. Their colour is just that dingy hue which contrasts with the verdure of the ground ; and the flakiness of their wool is rich and picturesque. I like, however, to see them wear their natural liveries, not patched with letters or daubed over with red ochre. To see the side of a hill spread with groups of sheep, or to see them through openings among the boles of trees at a little distance, with a gleam of light falling upon them, is very picturesque.
“ The copse is a plot of ground portioned off for the purpose of nurturing wood: it is a species of scenery composed commonly of forest-trees, intermixed with underwood, which latter is cut down every twelve or fourteen years; the next summer again produces luxuriant shoots, and two more will restore it to almost perfect beauty. It is among the luxuries of Nature to retreat into the cool recesses of the full-grown copse from the severity of a meridian sun, and to be serenaded by the humming insects of the shade, whose continuous song has a more refreshing sound than the buzzing vagrant fly, which wantons in the glare of day and 'winds her sultry horn.'
“A wide open space between hills is called a vale : if it be of smaller dimensions, it is called a valley ; but when this space is contracted to a chasm, it becomes a glen.
«« But these,' says Lauder, ‘are relative terms; but as the word glen may perhaps with some justice be said to be of Scottish origin, we may be permitted to remark, that chasm
is much too confined a word to explain it. We should say, that the gradation from extreme width downwards should be thus arranged :—strath, vale, dale, valley, glen, dell, ravine, chasm. In the strath, vale, and dale, we may expect to find the large, majestic, gently-flowing river, or even the greater or smaller lake. In the glen, if the river be large, it flows more rapidly and with greater variety.
In the ravine we find the mountain-torrent and the waterfall. In the chasm we find the roaring cataract, or the rill bursting from its haunted fountain. The chasm discharges its small tribute into the ravine ; whilst the ravine is tributary to the dell, and thence to the glen; and the glen to the dale, vale, and strath. Going upwards, the ravine may be supposed to terminate in the chasm.'
“• He arrived at length in a narrow and secluded cleuch,' says the immortal author of Waverley, in the Monastery, 'or deep ravine, which ran down into the valley, and contributed a scanty rivulet to the supply of the brook with which Glendear is watered. Up this he sped with the same precipitate haste which had marked his departure from the tower ; nor did he pause and look around until he had reached the fountain from which the rivulet had its rise. Here Halbert stopped short, and cast a gloomy and almost a frightened glance around him. A huge rock rose in front, from the cleft of which grew a wild holly-tree, whose dark green branches rustled over the spring which arose beneath. The banks on either side rose so high, and approached each other so closely, that it was only when the sun was at its meridian height, and during the summer solstice, that its rays could reach the bottom of the chasm in which he stood. But it was now summer, and the hour was noon; so that the unwonted reflection of the sun was dancing in the pellucid fountain.'
“A glen, therefore," continues Gilpin, “is most commonly the offspring of a mountainous country, though it is sometimes found elsewhere, with its woody banks, and a rivulet at the
bottom. The glen may be more or less contracted: it may form one single sweep, or its deviations may be irregular.
“The wood may consist of full-grown trees, or of underwood, or of a mixture of both. The path which winds through it may run along the upper part or the lower; or the rivulet may foam among rocks, or it may only murmur among pebbles, or form transparent pools overhung with wood, or be totally invisible and only sound upon
« The most beautiful circumstances that attend the internal parts of a glen are the glades or openings which are found in it ; for the whole is not a thicket like the full-grown copse, neither is it so subject to periodical defalcations, and exhibits generally more beautiful scenery, especially if it abounds with frequent openings. The eye is carried down from the higher grounds to a sweep of river, or to a little gushing cascade, or the face of a fractured rock, garnished with hanging wood; or perhaps to a cottage, with its scanty area of lawn falling to the river on one side, and sheltered by a clump of oaks on the other,—while the smoke, wreathing behind the trees, disperses and loses itself as it gains the summit of the glen. Or, still more beautifully, the eye breaks out at some opening, perhaps into the country, enriched with all the varieties of distant landscape,-plains and woods melting together, a winding river, blue mountains, or perhaps some bay of the sea with a little harbour and shipping."
This is indeed beautiful: we want but Coleridge's fountain to make it such a scene as “patriarchs loved;" and here it is “quiet as a sleeping infant's breath.”
“ This sycamore, oft musical with bees,
Such tents the patriarchs loved ! Oh, long unharm’d