Page images
PDF
EPUB

our provisions at the foot of an oak, and each where his fancy led him set out to gather the nuts. Dost thou recollect, my dear Mary, how we struck up a dark avenue together, and, after a long contest with the impending boughs, at last came upon a lovely clump of hazels where the brown nuts hung in clusters? Remember you the transparency of the slender branches as a green golden light streamed through the beautiful foliage, and the mournful cadence of a ringdove that kept cooing at intervals somewhere beyond the gloomy fir-trees? Have you forgotten how far we wandered away from our companions as we were tempted onward by the ripe brown nuts which we gathered so plentifully in that sequestered part of the wood, and then we called alternately to our comrades? O how your shrill sweet voice rang through the distant dells!—and then we listened, but heard nothing save the prolonged echoes dying away in the distance. Many an intricate maze did we thread, where the deep umbrage made an eternal twilight ; and after long search, we found another couple, who, like us, were in quest of the open glade. And then we turned to gaze upon the sun, and at last saw an old tree which we remembered passing, and soon found our companions. And when our repast was spread under the broad tree, we sang our best songs, and told our oldest stories. And one lovely girl sat with her back to a young man, and pouted her rosy lip, and was busied in tearing a bunch of autumn-flowers to pieces; and when the youth spoke kindly, she threw up her head haughtily, and averted her eyes. Cruel youth ! he had trifled with her love ; had led her away from her companions, she in no wise reluctant, and, while busied in gathering the brown bunches, stole from her unaware, and lingering behind a large tree, had heard her call upon his name several times without answering. And when he returned, for he had not been a stone-cast from her, he saw a tear gathering in her large blue eye. Then she accused him of not loving her, or he would never have left her in that lonely place, although her heart told her that he would lay

down his life for her safety. But the parting-kiss would be sweeter after this love-quarrel, their affection for each other would be more sincerely felt, and gentle dreams will hover around their slumbers.

Our satchels were well stored with ripe nuts, and we sat in social converse upon the long grass until the sun sloped westward, when we arose and left the wood : but we came out at a part which no one knew, and wandered over many a field until we reached a lonely cottage, and the old man put us in a right path. Wearied and delighted with our excursion, we reached home at twilight, and slept soundly after our pleasant fatigue.

Partridge-shooting commences this month; and many a youthful sportsman figures away with his murderous gun, to the great danger of the lives of the king's subjects. Always avoid a nan who carries the muzzle of his weapon levelled in a line with your legs, for ten to one he stumbles, and where the contents of his fowling-piece may lodge there is no knowing. Shooting is, however, a healthful exercise, and how many delightful scenes does a sportsman pass through! Hill and dale, and wood and forest—it is in these that the great charm con

Then the anxiety which those feel who are prepared for a day's sport !-how eagerly their eyes sweep the sky the preceding night, until they even fancy, amid the clear blue and the burning stars, dark clouds which they alone have created, and drops of rain which fall not. And their imagination pictures the sleek plumage of the beautiful birds starting with a whirr from the stubble, and sailing away over hedges ruddy with the hawthorn berries and rose-hips.

How many pleasant adventures are met with in a day's sporting! Not merely the discovery of lovely sequestered spots of Nature, - out-of-the-way bits, which we feel we can call our own, so unreclaimed appear their solitude, so unimportant to the owner,—spots made by God alone to gladden the heart of man ;-not these only, but lovely creatures, daughters of the heath and mountain-faces that light the lonely cottage with

their presence, and make us sigh to become denizens of the shieling. What beauty is buried in the skirts of our inoors and the hearts of our mighty hills ! What voices warble in concert with the wild birds by the borders of ancient forests and silent woods ! But seek not to draw them away by alluring wiles-seek not to rob the desert of its only flower; for the comfort of that old man, grey with many years, depends upon her, and that old woman, bent with age, will be hurried to her grave long before her time should their ministering angel be withdrawn. O seek not to darken their little light; for the hum of the bee, and the waving of trees, and the melody of birds, and the beauty of flowers, and the sweet music of their valley stream, would no longer possess a charm if she was from them. She was given them by the Almighty for a blessing; and ere long, perchance, the youth who steals abashed in the twilight across the wild heath will lead her to where the tall spire just rises above the old elms; and that old man will be seen sitting in the sunshine under the woodbine, and patting the heads of little rosy-faced children with eyes as gentle as their mother's and steps that would outstrip the lamb ;-and other sportsmen will lean upon their guns and point out to their companions the beauty of such a scene, and, as they journey home, exclaim with a sigh,

“ O God! methinks it were a happy life

To be no better than a homely swain !" Many are the charms which strike the sportman's eye in his day's journey. With what carelessness he throws himsel. down upon the hill-side, and suffers his eyes to wander leisurely over the distant scene! How tempting the far-off hills appear to him! He wonders what kind of country lies behind them—he longs to traverse the beautiful valley which stretches far and wide at their base; he sees the distant river curling its silver neck through the meadows—he watches the white sail until it dwindles to a mere speck. And is he devoid of higher thoughts than these? No; there is within him a

softened feeling—a sabbath around his heart-a deep, a thinking silence. The free wind sweeps over his brow, rustling the red ferns as it passes ; and he thinks of the Invisible Power by which they were swayed. How delightfully has Wilson described the life of a hunter !

High life of a hunter ! he meets on the hill
The new-waken'd daylight, so bright and so still ;
And feels, as the clouds of the morning unroll,
The silence, the splendour, ennoble his soul.
'Tis his on the mountains to stalk like a ghost,
Enshrouded in mist, in which Nature is lost,
Till he lifts up his eyes, and flood, valley, and height,
In one moment all swim in an ocean of light;
While the sun, like a glorious banner unfurld,
Seems to wave o'er a new, more magnificent world.
'Tis his, by the mouth of some cavern his seat,
The lightning of heaven to behold at his feet;
While the thunder below him, that growls from the cloud,
To him comes in echo more awfully loud,
When the clear depth of noontide with glittering motion
O’erflows the lone glens, an aërial ocean,-
When the earth and the heaven in union profound
Lie blended in beauty, that knows not a sound.”

At this season of the year the ground is often covered with spiders' webs, which lie across the paths, extending from shrub to shrub, or floating in the air. This silken substance is called gossamer, and is supposed to proceed from an infinite number of small spiders, which, when they want to change their situations, have a power of shooting forth several long threads : thus becoming buoyant, they are carried through the air, and after coiling up their threads, they again descend gradually to the ground. Gilbert White thus describes them :

“ On September the twenty-first, being intent on field diversions, I rose before daybreak. When I came into the enclosures, I found the stubbles and clover-grounds matted all over with a thick coat of cobweb, in the meshes of which a copious and heavy dew hung so plentifully, that the whole face of the

serene.

country seemed, as it were, covered with two or three settingnets drawn one over another. When the dogs attempted to hunt, their eyes were so blinded and hoodwinked that they could not proceed, but were obliged to lie down and scrape the encumbrances from their faces with their fore-feet.

“As the morning advanced, the sun became bright and warm, and the day turned out one of those most lovely ones which no season but the autumn produces,-cloudless, calm, and

About nine, an appearance very unusual began to demand our attention,-a shower of cobwebs falling from very elevated regions, and continuing without any interruption till the close of day. These webs were not single filmy threads floating in the air in all directions, but perfect flakes or rags, some near an inch broad, and five or six long. On every side, as the observer turned his eyes, might he behold a continual succession of fresh flakes falling in his sight, and twinkling like stars as they turned their sides towards the sun.”

“ September," says Aikin," is in general a very agreeable month; the distinguishing softness and serenity of autumn, with its deep blue skies, prevailing through great part of it. The days are now very sensibly shortened; and the mornings and evenings are chill and damp, though the warmth is still considerable in the middle of the day. In late years, a good deal of corn is abroad, especially in the northern parts of the island, at the beginning of September.

“Although gathering hops sometimes takes place in August, this is the month which is the most favourable to it. But so uncertain is the crop, and so doubtful the return to the agriculturist, from the great influence of the season on this tender plant, as to have given rise to the following lines :

• Till St. James's Day be come and gone,

You can't tell whether you have hops or none.' Hop-picking, however, is a source both of mirth and money to the labourers in those districts where hops are grown. The

« PreviousContinue »