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How beautiful must heaven be to excel the beauty of the earth at this season, when the fields and the uplands are covered with waving plumes of gold ! Camilla, the lightning-footed, “ skimmed o'er the unbending corn," and doubtless her white scarf “ blew in an arch” as she glided along. But Spenser has made August “ beautiful exceedingly.” He comes arrayed in a garment of gold which reaches to the ground, richly wrought with fruits and sheaves, and the last summer flowers ;
and above, a round sun streaming upon the whole; and cunning embroidery doubtless decorated his mantle ;—nay, he might have uplifted a golden cup in one hand, and quaffed it to harvest-home : but the poet mentioned not these, for August came leading a lovely maid along by the lily hand; her head was crowned with ears of corn, her other hand was also full, from which the yellow ears fell, and were partly hidden in her white drapery. Reader ! didst thou ever seat thyself by a lovely maid in some harvest-field, and gathering a handful of the finest ears of wheat, twine them in her long floating hair, allowing them to fall gracefully on each side of her fair cheeks, a few too dropping forward, and making a golden shadow on her brow? Didst thou ever place a little knot of the ripe grain in her hand, cut close to the earth? Didst thou then take hold of her hand, and glance upon her face? If so, thou hast beheld one of the sweetest creations of the sweetest poets that ever stirred the yellow-banded sheaves with music; thou hast gazed upon the embodied beauty of poetry-hast witnessed such heavenly visions as only float between the fancy and heaven; thou hast seen a picture of which we have no copy but in poetry.
The harvest-field is one of the most beautiful sights which can be witnessed in England. The reapers bending low, with their sickles planted within a foot of the ground, while with the other hand they grasp the golden threads of the ripe grain ; others busied in piling the sheaves, which beam brightly in the sunshine, the heavy heads of the highest falling in every graceful form ; children and women dotting the cornfield in drapery of various colours; the little child seated beside the dog amid bottles and baskets; the voice of some village maiden, beautiful as Ruth, and with tones sweet as that of the nightingaletongued Malibran, warbling over the lovely field; the rumbling wains passing to and fro, and leaving a portion of their treasure on the high hedges, which some young urchin is attempting to reach,-is the richest picture set in England's glassy frame. Add
to this a distant view of harvest-home seen before some neighbouring farmhouse on the hill, and it will be complete. I love to see children and women gleaning ! “ The little wee things” with their hard red legs shining amongst the stubble, and stooping now and then to pick up an ear of corn, or raising their little heads to scare away a crow, or standing with their scissors to clip off the long straw, and thrust only the ears into the bags which their mothers have tied before them. Then to see them running to the kind old woman, and showing the apparently well-filled bag, tell her that it is dinner-time! But, alas for the children ! she puts in her hand, and cramming down the wheat, and thrusting it well into the corners, and throwing out much unnecessary straw, sends them away with it, less in appearance, but promising them their dinners when it is really well filled. Then the tales that are told while they partake of their humble meals, by the piled sheaves, or under the shadow of the high hedge ! Then to think of Ruth gleaning in the field of her kinsman Boaz! O how I love gleaning for Ruth's sake, for the sake of poetry and of antiquity !—for there were gleaners ages long ago.
Who were Naomi and Ruth ? Perchance they lived together in a lovely cottage, where the palm-trees waved before their door, and sat contentedly by its porch, conversing about their husbands until the sun sank down and twilight came': or it might be in some cornfield near to Bethlehem where Naomi urged the fair Ruth to leave her alone to her sorrow and return to her own home. But no ; although Orpah went away and left her weeping mother, Ruth would not go, but doubtless supported Naomi and walked with her down the hill-side. It was harvest then, and the voices of the daughters of Judah were perhaps heard singing in the valleys, 0 how I love gleaners for the sake of Ruth! A sad night would they pass in their empty home at Bethlehem, for all the people were against Naomi, and perhaps taunted her with her poverty-or
they might sneer at the lovely Moabitish maiden. But Ruth heeded not that ; for she arose the next morning, perhaps with a heavy heart, and went to glean in the field of her kinsman Boaz, who stood overlooking the reapers, and inquiring kindly who she was, bade her not to leave his field, but glean close by his maidens. They might be beautiful and kind-hearted Jewish damsels who were reaping before Ruth: doubtless they would whisper one to another, and wonder who the fair stranger was, and why she looked so sad ; and then perhaps they would speak gentle words to her, and let fall a few ears of corn, in order that she might gather them; and young Ruth might tell them how her husband had died in the country of Moab, and how she had accompanied her mother-in-law to Bethlehem,—for but few, if they are even very sad, glean in silence : the harvest-field is the place where they make known their sorrows,—the reapers and gleaners confess and are confessors. How light would Ruth's heart beat when she received an invitation from Boaz to come at meal-time and sit beside the reapers, and he handed food to her, and gave her drink !—for
perhaps the fair Ruth might have had nothing to bring with her from home, and, instead of being light-hearted, might sigh to share her parched corn with Naomi. Who could not have loved the Moabitish maiden, when she had left her home and her country to share the privations and sorrows of Naomi ? What a colour must have overspread her cheeks when Boaz told her of these things, and praised the poor gleaner !
And Boaz commanded his young men to let her glean even among the sheaves, and to let fall some handfuls on purpose
for her, that she might glean them up: so she gleaned on until evening. Poor Ruth ! she gleaned on until the sun set; and as she stooped to tie up her gleanings in a bundle, that she might carry them the better on her head to Bethlehem, no doubt a tear fell upon the corn, and she thought of her home on the plains of Moab, where the river Jordan flowed murmuringly along, and kissed the walls of Jericho with sweet ripples,
and laved the stems of the palm-trees which grew by the home of her childhood.
“ Sick for home, she stood in tears amid the alien corn."
She thought of Naomi, and her lonely dwelling, - how anxiously she would be listening for the sound of her footsteps. Perhaps Naomi had had no food since Ruth left her at sunrise; and 0 how gladly would her heart beat, when she saw Ruth's lovely form darkening her threshold with her shadow, and heard the rustling of the long barley which she brought, and listened in the twilight, or perhaps in the beams of the broad yellow harvest-moon, to Ruth's sweet voice, while repeating all the kind words which Boaz had said, and telling of his kindlier actions, while she gave to Naomi a portion of the food which she had saved from that to which Boaz had helped her so plentifully! And Ruth continued to go out with his maidens, and gleaned through the whole barley-harvest unto the end of wheat-harvest, still living with Naomi, whom she loved tenderly. Time glided along, and Boaz loved Ruth, and the poor stranger who went out to glean in his fields became his wife. And Naomi's poverty compelled her to sell the land which was her inheritance ; and Boaz purchased it and with it the freedom of Ruth. Perchance after this she often walked forth into the fields on the evenings of summer, and gazed on those very places where she had been a gleaner, and could then call them her own. Nay, she might have led David the poet, and future King of Israel, by the hand, when he was but a boy, and have told him all she had gone through ; and perchance on a future day he sang the sorrows of Ruth, and they long lived in tradition, and were chaunted by other gleaners in the valleys of Bethlehem, until ages glided away and they were at last forgotten.
Now, while walking up some green lane that straggles along between rows of fields and copses, your ear may be arrested by a distant sound, a mingled hum of voices pealing forth in glad shouts and loud huzzas the “Hip, hip, hip" of "harvest