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ultimate basis of musical sounds. You hear a sweet strain, and desire possibly to study the natural laws that govern it. Acoustics, no doubt, furnish the immediate answer. But, for the fundamental principles on which acoustics themselves rest, you must go a step further, and fathom the scientific capabilities of those graceful curves with which mathematics are so closely concerned. It is, indeed, a strong example of the way in which the laws of nature interdepend, that one who should seek to reach the primary causes of musical sounds, will find himself landed among the soft curve lines traced by the sections of a cone. To dwell, however, at any length in this place on the severely mathematical basis of the least tangible and most evanescent of the fine arts would be to digress too far. It is more to our purpose here to consider it in the practical light of one of the most powerful of emotional agents.
Music is the language of reverie, and vague emotion, and undefined aspirations, and infinite regret. This wonderful agent, with its complex influences on mind and matter, is the outcome of man's taste, skill and energy ; insomuch, that if it be desired to express the grandeur or beauty of some natural sound-such as thunder, the moaning wind, or the roar of wave and cataract—we call it the music of nature. How varied, too, are the
styles and characteristics of the great masters of the art ; while its effect on the hearer must be infinitely more various, due to the vast differences in the receptivity of those who listen to it, depending not alone on accuracy of ear, but upon temperament, age, education, health, and other circumstances ! In the flowing melodies of Mozart; the stately choruses of Handel and Haydn; the correct form and choice elegance of Mendelssohn; the wild, imaginative luxuriance of Schumann ; the tangled harmonies of Bach, developed in fugue, mass, and choral: we have a measure by which to differentiate the relative position in the scale of human progress held by the primitive savage of Papua and the cultivated European.
THE CLARET VINTAGE.
Ingathering of the Grape Harvest.– The Winepress --Fermentation
of the Must.–Facts and Figures on the Vintage in France. -A Feast of Flora.
To an Englishman, wholly unused to the growth of the vine in his own country, it may seem strange to find it cultivated so early after his entrance into French territory. There is an appreciable acreage of vineyard in the latitude of Paris, and even north of it, whilst the most highly prized of French white wines is grown no farther south than Champagne. Immediately abutting on that province is Burgundy, the native land of one of the two famous red wines of France—Burgundy and claret; the home of the latter being Guienne, where, far away in the south, we find the vine now become the leading agricultural product of the country. This is especially true of the mountainous parts of Rouergue (at the easternmost extremity of Guienne)whose continuous hillsides offer that front to the sun's rays so essen
tial to this plant. Nowhere does one see the vine more universally grown than in this part of France, where the vineyards thrust out nearly every other produce of the soil. The writer's visit coincided with the early days of October, when the grapes, ripe for the coming vintage, hung in graceful clusters on every stem and cast a purple shade over each hill and mountain slope:
And bloomy vines wave purple on the hill." Our English corn and hop harvests have their picturesque aspects; but, for more reasons than one, it is the vintage which has succeeded in gathering round it the most poetic associations. This may be due in part to the luscious taste and hue of the fruit, and yet more to the generous beverage which is to be the result of the operation ; but possibly more still to the southern climes and picturesquely old-fashioned manners and costumes of the peasantry who garner it in. Men, women, and children fill the vineyards from early dawn, many a bright-tinted skirt and neckerchief and quaint headdress, or a bit of red riband round the men's hats, imparting colour and variety to the lively scene. The work of nimble fingers will often be quickened by mirth and song; and when, as in the hilly vineyards round about Conques, grapes enough have been plucked to fill to the brim one of the peculiar baskets used for the purpose (curved in shape and chocolate in colour), a stalwart peasant hitches the teeming pannier upon his broad shoulders, or poises it on his head, and then with rapid stride, that precious time may not be lost, descends the rough winding path to deposit his burthen in the town below, receiving for each such load he brings a bumper of ruddy wine, over and above his day's hire.
The vines, unlike those of Italy, which are allowed to extend themselves in a wavy exuberance of branches and leaves, are all left low and stunted, that the grapes may be nearer the ground and more exposed to the sun, and are planted in close and regular order, so that not a foot of ground may be lost. The culture of the vines is a laborious process. Beginning in winter with the ploughing or digging up of the land, it continues into January, when the useless leaves must be culled, and the protecting sticks carefully looked to. Through the early part of the summer pruning and weeding actively proceed, till at length the thousand speculations current on the quantity and quality of the coming crop are set at rest by the arrival of the vintage itself, which it would scarce be stretching a point to call a Festival of Labour.
When surveying any of the vineyards into