Imagens das páginas

stances which belong only to the light of day. amusement in this world of tiny myriads that I Ut Pictura Poesis : remember that, ye sons of need not attempt even to touch on them. Just the morning.

one word on spiders. All the world knows how I confess an occasional drowsiness, as I sit in pugnacious they are. Under no circumstances my leathern chair in my library, under the still whatever can they meet each other without monotony of the sunny afternoons of autumn. fighting. Whoever wishes to see their battles Not a sound comes near me to disturb me; and may easily manage it thus : Let him, any fine there I nap, till the shadow of some bird shoot. August or September morning, when the hedges ing past the sunny window startles my filmy and bushes are swarming with their webs, lift eye, like a flash of lightning, and I awake. | one, web and all, with a twig, and let it down The only drawback from my delight in the softly by its thread on the centre of another web, harvest season is, there is so much pressing work where sits a fellow its likely match in point of to do, and everybody is so busy, that I feel size, and to it they go immediately. If a fly or almost ashamed to saunter about, doing nothing. any other proper bait be dropped into the web, In the time of the shearing, our village is quite and four or five other spiders be brought to the deserted. Knowing this, the pedlars come not prey, the battle rages like Waterloo. The lean near us then; nor wandering tinkers; nor sing. red spider with long legs beats all the rest hol. ing sailors (if their hoarse brassy bray, softened low. In their rage their bodies shiver like the only by the squirting out of tobacco juice, can feathers of the amorous or threatening turkey, be called singing); nor beggars of any degree: cock. 80 our hamlet in harvest is a perfect picture of Having no dislike to the coming on of winter, still life. The only waif we have had to break October is to me the most delightful month of our antumnal quiet this year is a penny orator the year. To say nothing of the beauty of the of the district, who goes about lecturing against woods at that season, my favourite month is very the institutions of the country. And certainly often a dry one, sufficiently warm, and yet with it is one of the most pitiful sights in nature to a fine bracing air that makes exercise delightful. see the small demagogue riding on his donkey | And then what noble exercise for you in your through the ripe rich cornfields of our valleys, sporting jacket! To saunter through the rust. on his atrabilious way to the next village, there ling woodlands; to stalk across the stubble-field, to pour his morbid soul into the ears of the yellow with the last glare of day; to skirt the quiet, religious cottars, when they shall have | loin of the hill, and, overleaping the dyke, come home at evening from their day's work of tumble away among the ferns, and reach your manly industry, and rouse them to the miserable door just as the great red round moon comes up in belief that they are the veriest serfs and slaves the east, how invigorating! I say nothing of the of the oppressed and groaning earth. The re- clear fire within and the new magazine just laid dundant horn of yellow plenty is an abomina on your table. Moreover, October is associated tion to his eyes; and fain would this blasted ear with the glad consummation of harvest-home, of humanity eat up every golden spike of autumn, and all the fat blessings of the year, not forgetlike his hungry mildewed congeners in Pharaoh's ting the brewing of brown-stout. Altogether, dream. The sweep of the lusty scytheman, lay- | October is a manly, jolly fellow, and that Spening down by his porridge-fed mastery the rustling | ser knew right well, as thus appears : oats, full of new porridge for evermore for him “ Then came October, full of merry glee; self and his family-ten by the “big ha'-Bible"

For yet his noule was totty of the must, register-sets our little socialist angrily a.cock;

Which he was treading in the wine fat's sea; and O (says the sinner's soul) that every swath

And of the joyous oil whose gentle gust were priests and peers! The merry song of the

Made him so frolic." sunny lasses, peeling the harvest rig with their What fine quaint picturesque old words these sweethearts, jars on him like the very sharpen-are! But oh the dismal look of a wet October ing of the shears of Atropos; and tearing the and a late harvest! The central figure of the provincial pot-house print, in which he has just dreary picture is the farmer on the first dry been reading the fulsome praises of his own elo breezy evening that comes after a fortnight's inquence, he stops his ill-conditioned lugs with it cessant rain in the end of the month, bending not to hear the lilt of the lasses; and kicking and looking through his black bean-field, stickhis lean cuddy into a canter, makes off from the ing sodden to the ground in every stook, slimy music of happy rural life as if chased by the pes- with slugs, all going to slaver, and losing the tilence, till, attempting a ditch in his frenzy of | sprouted pulse from every open pod. The miry flight, he is tumbled into a standing pool, as hunters riding homeward sink to the fetlocks as green in its mantling filth as his own jaundiced | they cross the deep clayey country. The hus. liver.

bandman turns cheerlessly to the higher lands. Armed with my microscope, many an autumnal | The small birds, starting from his feet, shriek hour do I spend in the woods and moorland adown the wind in the watery evening light. places pursuing my entomological recreations. The green and yellow (both in one) glint of the So multitudinous are the points of study and oats, tussled by the wind on the edge of the waste, with the chaff of every top pickle (thrashed days this bush was called gule-tree, and we made out by the windy blasts that have contrived to | yellow ink of it to give a variety of flourish to blow in every interval of the rain) shimmering our valentines to the little lasses, from whom we thin and white to his level eye, fluctuates away got pins in return to be played for at teetotum. before him. They won't be ripe and ready yet | Ill fares the poor gean-tree by the roadside, torn for a fortnight to come.

| down and dismantled in all its branches by the In quantity and quality there is always, of village urchins bent at once on provender and course, a natural correspondence between the “papes." Scarcely ever does its fruit see the wild and home fruit of the season. So the wild, first blush of red! A guinea for a ripe black like the home, is very abundant this year upon gean within three miles of a country school! The the whole. Haws, however, are rather scarce. juniper is a scarce bush, but it has plenty of Indeed, the hawthorn is a capricious and delicate fruit this year-green, red, and black-on the plant in this respect, and seldom yields a very full different exposures of its close-matted evergreen crop. Even in seasons when the flower (chival. | branches. In my days of childhood I had a sort rously called “Lady's Meat") covers the long of religious regard for the juniper, from the line of hedges as with a snowy sheet, and de- | “coals of juniper" mentioned in Scripture along lights every nose of sensibility in the parish, we with “sharp arrows of the mighty," and also are by no means sure of a harvest of haws en from the circumstance that I had never seen the tirely correspondent, as the blossom, with the berries till they were brought me by my grannie, first set of the fruit, is exceedingly tender. Well who plucked them on a remote hillside as she do the boys know the fat ones. Hips (called in came from a Cameronian sacrament. So far as some parts of Scotland jupes) are a fair yield eating them was concerned, their resinous tang this harvest, whether smooth or hairy, hard or of fir helped my veneration, and I never got be buttery. That all-devouring gourmand, the yond chewing one or two. I anı compelled to schoolboy, who crams every crudity into his add, however, that my reverence for the holy maw, from the sour mouth-screwing crab up | berries was considerably abated when I found (though down in literal position) to the Swedish out that the sly old wife had popped a dozen or turnip, sweetened by the frost, riots in the luxury two of them into her own whisky bottle to give of the hip, caring not how much the downy seeds it the flavour of gin, Crabs are not so plentiful may canker and chap the wicks of his mouth, as might have been expected, and (as Johnson and render his nails an annoyance in scratching said of Churchill) their spontaneous abundance his neck. See the little urchin slily watching being their only virtue, they are below notice the exit of the long cart from the stackyard, this season. But look at the seed of the ashthen jumping in from behind, he takes his seat | how thick! The light green bunches of it, reon the cross-bench, or ventures to stand erect by lieved against the somewhat darker verdure of the help of the pitch-fork, his black, dirt-bark | the leaf, make it well seen, and the whole thing ened little feet overcrept by earwigs, beetles, has a very rich effect. The pods of the pea-tree and long-legged spinners, the living and hither. (laburnum) hang from every branch in clusters. and-thither-running residuum of the last cart. When ripe, the peas are glossy black as jet, and load of pease; till, when the half-cleared field is are much sought after by bits of country lasses reached, Flibbertigibbet, who ought all the while for making beaded necklaces, for the little mon. to be “gathering," bolts through a slap in the keys have early notions of finery. They are un. hedge, and is down upon the buttery hips in the safe to be meddled with, however, as they are Whitelea braes. Our hedgerows, sandy banks, very poisonous. It is worthy of remark that, and wild stony places, are quite black with come good year or bad year, the pea-tree never brambles this autumn. Clean them from the fails to have loads of depending flowers as thick as worms of the thousand-and-one flies that feed on swarms of bees a-skepping, and the fruit is always them, and they are capital for jelly and jam, equally abundant. Of all plants, and shrubs, and for painting children's faces, as we see every | and trees, in garden and field, and on the moun. day in the by-lanes around our village. The tain side, none is to be compared in this respect bramble is called in Roxburghshire (honi soit qui with the prolific pea-tree. It is one of Nature's mal y pense) “Lady's Garters." There, how. richest gifts to adorn our hedgerows. The wood, ever, the land being mostly a stiff clay, it thrives I may add, is extremely beautiful, and that the poorly. It loves a sharp sandy soil, and especi. turner knows right well. The rowan-tree, the ally those rough stony knowes in the middle of beauty of the hills and the terror of witches, is nelds, where also in the warm still sunny days red all over with berries this autumn. May she of harvest you startle the whirring partridge, ever see her fair blushing face in the sleeping and see her feathers where she has been flutter crystal of the mountain pool! Her berries are ing in the stour, and where you hear the whins, | also for beads. The boor-tree, famous for bullet. with their opening capsules, crackling on the guns, bored with a red-hot old spindle, and towsun-scorched braes. Blaeberries were abundant charged, in the days of boyhood, is also very rich this year and ripe in the beginning of July. this autumn with her small black purple berries, The barberry bears a fair crop. In my boyish “Miss Jeanie” would not take the “Laird o'

Cockpen” when she was making the “elder-colour, deadened in the daylight; and the roast flower wine;” let him try her again in this the of sputtering sloes—with an eke of beans anal time of the elder-berry vintage-she is herself potatoes, which provident little Patie has in elder now, and has had time to think better of store-is more to our genial worthies, sitting or. his offer, not to say that a sip of the richer berry their hunkers, and nuzzling and fingering among may have softened her heart. Never had the the ashes, than Ossian's “Feast of Shells." And «bummie" such a “summer high in bliss" as thus they feast till the day begins to decline. this year among the honeyed flowers of the lime. And then they run to the distant road to ask The autumn of its fruit is not less exuberant; the passing traveller what o'clock it is; and, in the ground where it grows is quite littered with the fearless necessities of rude nature, the questhe small round seed. The broom is all over tion is popped, whether the passer-by be a black with its thin pods; Plantagenet, more charioted buck of seven seals, or a trudging swain-like than king-like, has coined his glory hind who hangs out a crooked sixpence, a simple of summer bullion into a bushel of pease. Mush spotted shell, or a bit of polished parrot-coal rooms in their fairy rings in the rich old un. by an affectionate twine of his grandmother's ploughed pastures are a fair crop this season, hair. Then come the hoar mornings of NovBy the way, when does the mushroom come first ? ember frost, and the sloes begin to crack, and Tom Campbell, in his “Rainbow," says: are really not so bad; and “Il Tam” has

another day at Eildon Hills. He finishes the “ The earth to thee its incense yields,

ploy by tearing and wearing his corduroys, up The lark thy welcome sings, When, glittering in the freshened fields,

trees and down “slidders,” to very reasonable The snowy mushroom springs."

tatters; and thus the light of knowledge is let

in by many and wide holes upon his mother at Now, the lark ceases to sing early in July; and night that her son “has been out;" and her paI rather think, Thomas, the mushroom is rarely tience being worn out as well as his breeks, a good seen till August-what say you? But I refer sound thrashing winds up the day to Thomas. the matter to William Wordsworth, that master Anything like a full crop of acorns is a very rare martinet of poetical accuracy. Meanwhile, hav- harvest indeed. This year, however, they are ing thrown Thomas this metaphorical nut to “plenty as blackberries ;” and now that the air crack, I go on to the literal nuts; and I beg to is beginning to smell of winter, they are popping say that their white young clusters are almost down upon your head wherever you go, clean, the loveliest fruit that grows in glen or shaw. glossy, and slightly ribbed in their brown and Now, however, they are glossy brown, and lots white. They must have been better to eat in of them. So mask you, gentle swain, in the most the golden age than now, or the stomachs of our tattered gear you can muster (buckskin breeches, simple sires must have been more easily pleased if you have them), as recommended in the said than those of their degenerate and luxurious William Wordsworth's poem of “Nutting," and, sons; for hang me from an oak branch ! if I bag and crook in hand, sally forth with your could eat an acorn, so harsh and stringently lady-love, bedizened like Otway's witch in the tasteful of the tannin, even to see the lion lie “Orphan;" and Pan speed you! Sloes, being down with the lamb. So my age of gold is not harsh and salivating in their sourness, are almost likely to get beyond pinchbeck. But swine can always plentiful; for dame Nature is a queer old

eat acorns, though old bachelors are not so ineconomist, giving us fine things sparingly, but

nocent. And therefore I advise all my country lots of the coarse. But ah! Flibbertigibbet friends, after the wants of the nurseryman are aforesaid delights in the sloe. No matter how served, to turn the snouts of their pigs among deceptively that blue-purple down, or rather the mast, or have it gathered by the bairnies and film, of seeming ripeness, veils the sullen green flung into the trough. The porkers grunt almost of harsh immaturity -it's all one to “Ill Tam." graciously over it, and it helps to give that fino Away he goes with his pocketful, whooping flavour to the flesh which touches the tongue so through the dry stubble fields to the village cow. | racily in the wild boar ham. herd boy on the common, who, smitten with the eager hope of company in his cheerless waitingon, perks up his head out of his dirty-brown

CLOSE OF THE YEAR. maud from beyond the bielding heap of divots; 1

Spenser does Usher of the White Rod to Nov. starts up with an answering holla; and comes Lember thus: running over the bent to meet his welcome crony, the rush-cap on his head nodding like a man. 1 “Next was November : he full gross and fat, darin's, and his doggie with its ears laid back As fed with lard, and that right well might seem; in the wind gambolling on before. Straightway

For he had been a-fatting hogs of late,

That yet his brows with sweat did reek and steam: the fire of whins and dry barren thistles is set

And yet the season was full sharp and breem. agoing, and sends up what Æschylus calls “its

In planting eke he took no small delight." beard of flame," better seen by its wavering smoke-topped flicker than by its gleams of So sings the Bard of Mulla. And now what a comfortable fellow is this November, and how roys, dons his leather-heeled stockings, and unlike that self-hanging and drowning which is clatters forth in his clogs; his unkempt halflaid to his charge! Why, the chap has just been starved hair, unconscious of Macassar, standing killing his pigs, and is as fat and greasy as out on his head like the ill-conditioned coat of a Parson Trulliber. How his nose “glitters with lean, farrow, family cow, hide-bound on dry ungodly dew!” Moreover, the season is sharp fodder, as she comes forth to water at the frosty and wholesome for his blood; and he has the reeking well, not unbesmirched from the dropexercise of planting his trees besides, to keep his ping outskirts of the hen-roost in the byte. appetite in trim. In addition to all this, his The icicle at the thatched eaves gives him the stackyard has just been thatched and his pota- / first assurance of the frost; he plucks a pillar, toes binged, and October has brewed a brown and shaking the discoloured drop from its nose, browst for him ; so what has he to care for? | engendered from the dirty rotten thatch, he Really, a better-conditioned fellow, outwardly, sucks away at his barley-sugar, hoarsely crackthan this November cannot well be imagined. ing and braying with his heel the curious white He is the very Cock of the Calendar. And then ice, waved and wrought like a pale Scotch what sport he has ! To the moorland with his pebble, in every horse-foot print in the gnarled greyhounds, over the thistly stubbles with his road, to try its strength and quality, and guess sun, to the high hoar echoing wood with his if the more distant slide will bear. Porridge. fox-hounds, off is he under the glint of morn, strengthened, he has an hour at the old quarrywith a light heart and a pocket-pistol. The hole before the school goes in; and the dismissal moon guides him home, and he sleeps in at the droop of day sends him to the remoter Elysium.

cauld; not forgetting, however, to fetch a circuit It seems to me, on looking back to my boy. by the mill, to thrust his hands into the happer hood, that not a winter then passed without a for a gowpen of groats, or lie half-an-hour in the magnificent snowstorm, and a month's frost as seedy killogie with the fire-feeding kilnman, if hard as the nether millstone. Then were the perchance he may vouchsafe him a roasted days of snow-battles, and of snow-men as big as potato. Then off to the ice is he till all the Gog and Magog, staring afar with their eyes of stars be out; nor crunches he the crisp spangles smithy danders, and slowly pining through half of the frosty meadows with his homeward-hieing the spring in their discoloured consumption. fect, till the cow-horn of the village has blown Then were the days of raffles among idle masons supper-time. Nor is this the last of him for the for a sow or an eight-day clock-pleasant to the day. We catch another glimpse of the little boys who picked up the balls when the snow

rogue, as with halfpenny candle depending from was gone, to run them into leaden pistols to fire his fore-finger-end, he takes every yard-long slide on the thick-coming days of Salamanca, Vittoria, on his way home along the street, till, trying it and Co. I was just going to sigh over the

on one foot, down he comes with a whack, and degeneracy of our modern Decembers, when

crushes little dippie into a thousand clots; then there came a Frost, worthy of the most pucker gathering himself up, makes the most of his browed, blue-nosed of his ancestors that ever limping leg to cover the disaster of the candle, painted upon glass, or candied over a mill-wheel, and roars his way home, and is packed off to bearded with icicles like a he-goat. An old bed for his pains by the light of a spunk. But withered chronicler, whose own face was as

let us not be too hard on the little dog. His rough as a frosty drove-road, or the puddled elders and betters like the ice as well as he. passage of a cattle-admitting gate, remarked to The thatcher on the north side of the frosty me that we have not had such a black frost house--the coldest object in creation-clanks since “ the ninety-nine." Whether old Anno his arms on his sides at the foot of his ladder, to Domini be right or not I can't exactly say, as | raise a glow; looks wistfully up at his unshaven my own memory does not reach the hog-score of work; and bears aloft on his poised head a batch so remote a tee. But this I will say, that a of rimy divots, like a bee-skep, which it will be bolder clearer fortnight, with here and there a death to manipulate. But now the wind ruffling stringent night that might have turned the his unfinished straw takes him so snelly by the Watery King of the Teetotallers into a pillar of nose, that he is fain to look over his shoulder at ice, I never rejoiced to live through. The half-a-dozen roistering masons, red from the passion for ice here is as keen as the ice itself. quarry, who, glorying in the happy idleness of Everybody curls, or skates, or slides; nor do we impossible work in such weather, are on their miss the pikestaff, so plain in the simile. At

way to the loch, and call him to come down. the skreigh-o'-day,

Half shaking him from his ladder, as he sticks

his knife deep in the thatch, they have him off “When hens begin to mutter on the bauks,”

with them at last, blinking the evening certainty the village schoolboy, rubbing his eyes, demands of his wife's displeasure. But what is he worse of his early dad if the ice will bear, and jumping than others? The shoemaker's wax won't work, at the affirmative, however grudgingly given, | and what can Crispin do but curl ? The tailor fumbles his shivering way into his thin cordu. has left his carpet shoes, and is out upon tramps' day.

true to his profession, the butcher nicks the bed without facing his wife, who, to justify her hog; and the cadger breaks a metaphorical egg. | plea, takes care to let him hear her bustling and “In days o' frost,” says the song:

| working like a fury far later than usual, as if “In days o' frost, wi' writer chiels

the whole maintenance of the household now lay Aye letter does for twa;

upon her industrious shoulder. And doctors let their patients live

A brisk walk in the morning, what time the Until it comes a thaw."

sun comes up the eastern horizon like a great red

globe of fire, and flames on every facing window So writers and doctors are there too, and eke the

along the western valley; a hearty breakfast; minister; and thus the poor thatcher's apology

| family prayers; three hours in my library; an

far is made up, as turned to the orange-tawny west,

other "constitutional” in the somewhat mellower where the horizon, steaming as with hot dis

noon; an early old-fashioned dinner, to which coloured sand, foretells a morrow of still intenser

the concocting genius of a Brillat-Savarin or a frost, he soberly reflects his way homeward to

Ude could lend no improving sauce; another his wife, and at last ventures to whistle. But,

stout evening walk among the brown forest alas for him! his wife has no dinner for him

leaves, along the coarse chapped stubbles and how can she have? Snatching a bannock to

stony moors, over the serny skirts of the hill, munch at his leisure, he is off from her in a pet,

and home by the old quarry-lole, making my and away to the smithy, the evening howf of the

way through its withered, empty, cankered choice spirits of the village. The white and

thistles, and its dry, hollow, rattling skeleton ruddy gleam of the keen, frost-fed, frizzled flame,

kexes, bent all the while on the pleasure of startedged with sulphurous blue, dazzles him as he

ing a hare; tea, talk, reading, or backgammon opens the two halves of the door; shines on a

with sister Mary; another spell in my library; dozen advertisements fixed and displayed on the

a look at the starry night; supper; devotion; upper half with the bent tips of horse-nails, the

bed; such is the old bachelor's cheerful winter refuse of shoeing; and brings out in interesting chiaro-scuro the black rafters far back, where

Listen again to Spenser. Thus be sings of the remnant wings of what once were owls, and

December: bats, and swallows, hang nailed and extended. Vulcan is bowing away and crooning at his “ And after him came next the chill December : handle tipped with smooth cowhorn turned up Yet he through merry feastings which he made, ward, and watching two be-spectacled seniors And great bonfires did not the cold remember; playing at draughts on the hearth. Here a knot His Saviour's birth his mind so much did glad. of masons are vastly improving upon the rink of

Upon a shaggy-bearded goat he rode,

The same wherewith Dan Jove in tender years, the day. There a set of chaps are at Blind

They say, was nourished by the læan maid ; Harry, ready each in his turn to lend a hand at

And in his hand a broad deep bowl he bears, the fore-hammer, till the finished horse-shoe is

Of which he freely drinks a health to all his peers. flung hissing and hollow-thundering into the bubbling trough. Yonder is a little fellow in The feasting, the goodly punch-bowl, and the the corner, as yet innocent of his first shot, but rousing fire, are all cordially characteristic of vastly ambitious of taking a vizzy along the gun, December. And then our village children have which he finds ready in a nook for the raffle of a “Barring-out Day,” “Guisarts,” “ Cake-day,' ewe-milk cheese on the morrow; and venturing and “Hansel Monday," this last, however, beto draw the trigger with a thumping heart, he longing to the New Year. But in Scotland we feels he could have done a cushie. Beyond the have not yet learned to link our grateful happidraught-players are a set of urchins, on a narrow ness with any outward religious observance of seat with three legs, fighting, and sprawling, the most blessed natal day that ever dawned on and squealing, till Vulcan, his face waxing red earth, as is done in England, where even yet as a nail-string with wrath, as he bends lower (though more so in the olden time) the very on his blast, sends the whole soul of Æolus season is considered sacredly wholesome against through his quivering, dancing fire, and blows a all unnatural harms : tempest of sparks into the flushed begrimed faces of the unruly young rascals, who spring from the

“Some say that ever 'gainst that season comes, settle; and kicking the draughtboard with half

Wherein our Saviour's birth is celebrated,

The bird of dawning singeth all night long; its men into the trough, as they scatter away,

And then, they say, no spirit dares stir abroad; they achieve their escape from the smithy. A

The nights are wholesome; then no planets strike, leash of horses, to have their shoes sharpened, No fairy takes, nor witch hath power to harm. now fill the place; and Burnewin', getting ill. So hallowed and so gracious is the time." natured from the quantity of work to do, and giving pithy tokens that his hand is encumbered The last hour of the last day of the year is with company, our poor thatcher is again driven waning away. Born in the confluence of two to his shifts, and can make nothing more of it eternities, in that measured space called Time, than just slink away home, and get darkling into | let me thank my Maker that He has given me a

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