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The love of the country is so deeply rooted in Englishmen that we may say it is part of the life of the nation. The struggles for existence and the progress of civilization have brought great masses of the population together in cities that are the visible signs of exuberant prosperity. The "Wen" of old Cobbett, which he was never weary of execrating, contained in his time a million and a half of souls; now it is impossible to tell the population of London, for who can say where London begins or ends? The chimneys of the north cast blighting shadows over areas which a century ago were fair landscapes of field and woodland. Towns like Barrow-in-Furness or Middlesbrough spring to maturity almost as the mushroom growths of America beyond the Missouri. The laborers leave the plough for the loom or the forge, as field wages fall or arable land is left fallow. But all the cities strike their roots in the country, and in the country are the springs that supply their waste. In all, unhappily, there are multitudes in the lowest couches sociales doomed to live and die in deepest ignorance of all that is brightest in a world beyond their ken. But the great majority have a longing for rural outings, which the drudgery of dull routine has almost unfitted them to enjoy. A glimpse of blue sky recalls to the clerk on the omnibus the days when he used to play truant from the village school, and the daffodils and early

1. The Natural History of Selborne. By Gilbert White. Edited with notes by Grant Allen. Illustrated by Edward H. New. London: John Lane, 1900.

2. The New Forest: its Traditions, Inhabitants, and Customs. By Rose C. de Crespigny and Horace Hutchinson. Second edition. London: John Murrry, 1899.

violets, hawked by tatterdemalion flower-sellers on the street-curb, bring back memories of the cawing of rooks and the first call of the cuckoo. The man who has made his fortune feels he owes it to himself to buy or rent a seat in the country; and if, when there, he is much like a fish out of water, he is giving his children opportunities which he but dimly appreciates. the money-makers are ever blending with the squirearchy, and old families give place to the new, who in some measure inherit their traditions.


And surely no country is more beautiful than England, with the refined yet home-like beauty that steals on the affections. It is wealthy in other respects than in the coal and iron which have given it industrial supremacy; happily the area of those subterraneous riches is limited, and the country is not altogether given over to iron and coal. Take your stand on Richmond Hill, within a stone-cast of the metropolis, or by the wilder Worcestershire Beacon on the Malvern Hills, and what a wealth of meadow and woodland lies extended beneath you along the vale of Thames or the windings of sandy-bottomed Severn! We are deeply indebted to that much-abused climate of ours, which, hitting the happy mean between the Pole and the tropics, clothes Nature in the greens which become her so well and sets her off in the changing coquetry of our capricious seasons. In rounded hills and

3. Wild Life in Hampshire Highlands. By George A. B. Dewar. London: J. M. Dent & Co., 1899.

4. A Cotswold Village: or Country Life and Pursuits in Gloucestershire. By J. Arthur Gibbs. Second edition. London: John Murray, 1899.

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open valleys her form rises and falls with the graceful undulations that are the perfection of feminine charm.

Did any Englishman of ordinary æsthetic feeling ever return from a Continental tour without sensibly throbbing to the inspiration of Scott's familiar apostrophe to Caledonia? It matters not whether he comes from the polders of Holland, the snow-girt alps of Switzerland, or the wheat-lands of chalky Picardy. There is a pleasant contrast even with the orchards of Normandy, and an exhilarating sense of relief after the gloomy solitudes and forbidding shores of iron-bound Brittany; the landscape is so cheerful in its variety, and so friendly in its evidences of hearth and home. Nothing on the Continent can rival the hop gardens in their autumnal bloom, except the trellised vineyards of Lombardy; and they are scarcely less picturesque in early spring, when the poles are stacked in tent-like form like some Tartar or Khirgiz encampment. Though you have scarcely time to note them as the train shoots by, every nook and corner holds studies for the artist, in the breezy down, with the long-armed windmill on the crest; the venerable watermill on the chalk-stream below, with the moss-grown lead and the reedy backwater; the old narrow bridge, with its sharp rise and dip, solidly buttressed against winter floods. With the waving crops in the autumn and the sleepy kine grazing pasterndeep in the meadows, you might say literally that it is a land flowing with milk and honey. The drowsy air is full of the hum of bees, hurrying like the butterflies from flower to flower, but, unlike them, industriously employed, whether on the blossoms in the old-fashioned gardens, on the rich red sanfoin or the scented thyme. You have no time to take thought of agricultural depression, of impoverished landlords with a plethora of vacant

farms on their hands, or of laborers eager to better themselves and flying from worse trouble to come. It may be but poor consolation, but it is the fact, that when drains are choked, and weeds get the upper hand, and farms fall out of cultivation, the picturesqueness of the country is increased.

The charm of the country has exercised an abiding influence on the genius of ruder ages than ours. It has not only inspired the poets from Chaucer to Tennyson-that was inevitablebut it has guided the chisels of forgotten sculptors. There is nothing in Bewick, for example, more true to the poetry of nature than a wonderful cornice in the cloisters of Melrose with its inimitable tracery of field flowers and forest leaves. Never is Shakespeare more delightful company than when he leads us into the forest of Windsor or of Arden, inviting us to look on at the gambols of the elves or listen to the gallant chiding of the deepmouthed hounds. The scapegrace who stole the deer-whether from Fulbroke or from Charlecote-had lain many a day at morn and dewy eve under the Warwickshire elms, listening to the "sweet birds' throat," or watching the doe leading her fawn to the couch in the bracken; and he knew well what he was writing about. We admire the sublimity of the "Paradise Lost," but we love "L'Allegro" and "Il Penseroso." Gray's "Elegy" is an unapproachable idyll of the back-of-theworld parish, though it has pleased a modern critic to disparage it as "the springtide of mediocrity." Instances might be multiplied ad infinitum, from the sweet sonnets of the philosopher of the Lakes, the great high priest of Nature, to the rustic lilts of Burns the ploughman and the forest scenes in the Introductions to the Cantos of "Marmion." But all the poets from Chaucer to Pope had done little to popularize the taste for natural beauty.

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It was Gilbert White who translated poetry into prose, standing sponsor to a new departure in literature; and we are glad to believe that the school he founded was never more flourishing than now.


When the modest country parsonhe was never vicar of Selborne, nor did he live in the vicarage-was writing his letters to Pennant and Daines Barrington, he little dreamed of the immortality he was to achieve. But those letters of an obscure man have gone through innumerable editions, and reckon almost as many readers as the "Pilgrim's Progress." It is easy to understand the popularity of Bunyan. The gifted dreamer, with the magic of his dramatic instinct, touched the chords in anxious souls struggling forward towards tremendous issues. He took the believer by storm and gave the sceptic pause. But the secret of White's extraordinary popularity still eludes us, nor have we ever seen a satisfactory solution. The charm is indefinable as it is irresistible. ficially, "The Natural History of Selborne" is what Johnson would have called a pretty book; the style is simple to an extreme, with something of oldworld formality. But, in his quiet way, White has flashed a series of pictures on the impressionable retina of boyhood which time and use are powerless to efface. The Hanger is more familiar to us than the Schwarzwald; the Plestor has a firmer hold on the emotions than the plains of Marathon or the ruins of Iona. And the association of those memorable sites reminds us that White has been the Boswell of the old Sussex tortoise, who will live through the ages with Samuel Johnson, though Samuel had much to say for himself and Timothy was constitutionally reserved.

We cannot undertake to explain the charm of White, but we see he made wonderful use of limited opportunities.

Omne ignotum pro magnifico. He looks upward with awestruck reverence at the Sussex Downs, that "vast range of mountains." With the adventurous hardihood of a Livingstone or a Stanley he explores the solitudes of Wolmer Forest and Alice Holt, with the rushy lakes resorted to by strange aquatic fowl, where there are occasionally such captures as a peregrine or a gray hen. Now and again, though rarely, we have a pathetic tragedy such as that of the ravens. They had nested for time immemorial in Losel's Wood, choosing their habitation so well that they defied the assaults of the boldest bird-nesters who harried the home of the honeybuzzards. The edict goes forth: the oak is to be felled, and the mother sits


sheltering her helpless young till "whipped down by the twigs, which brought her dead to the ground." Frequently White conducted service in the church, but he was more concerned with the tenants of the roof than with the congregation-with the owls, the bats, and the house-martens, and the swifts that circled round the tower. He noted their coming and going to a day, and was more anxiously on the outlook for the arrivals of the season than any hotel-keeper on the Riviera. appreciated the methods of silent motionless observation afterwards adopted by Richard Jefferies and others, and indeed had organized an intelligence department of his own, and a system of ornithological espionage. The habits of the stone-curlews excited his curiosity, but their haunts on the Downs were beyond his beat. So he enlisted the services of the farming friend, who being abroad early and late, would be "a very proper spy on the motions of these birds." His own residence, the Wakes, was the ideal home of a naturalist. True, on one side it was only separated from "Gracious Street," with the swinging signs of the butcher and the alehouse, by railings

with a screen of shrubs. But mullions and gables were shrouded with creepers; untrimmed fruit trees trained to the wall offered shelter to finches and flycatchers, and the low windows looked out on lawns, encircled by orchards and shrubberies, breaking back to the slopes leading up to the beech woods.

There have been many editions of White's great work, but the most recent, published by Mr. Lane, will not easily be superseded. Perhaps the simple-minded and unobtrusively pious naturalist might have found a more sympathetic editor than the late Mr. Grant Allen, who belonged pre-eminently to modern science; and the notes, brief and sometimes contemptuous, are unsatisfactory. But the indisputable claim of the edition to pre-eminence rests on the truth and beauty, the variety and profusion, of the illustrations. Mr. New showed the happy bent of his genius in his drawings for the "Life of Morris," but he seems to have surpassed himself in the present volume. Throwing himself heart and soul into a labor of love, he makes us realize the Selborne which White has sanctified. Each scene associated with the naturalist has been lovingly depicted, from the vicarage where he was born to the graveyard where he lies buried. There is a tablet to his memory in the little Norman church, with the low massive columns that indicate its hoary antiquity; but if you would see his monument, you have only to look around on scenes that were sketched by his pen and are now depicted by the artist's pencil. Here is the house where he lived and the church where he officiated, taken from every point of view. There is the sandy waste of Wolmer, with the sedgy lake in the foreground, and the solitary clump of black pines standing out against the sky. In rich contrast, the beeches of the Hanger frame with their foliage each vista

opening northward from the village street. There is the mighty yew in the church-yard, so often noted in the diary; and, by-the-way, it has grown over four feet in girth since Gilbert carefully measured it. There are the farmsteadings, the great barns and the quaint old hop-kilns, of very different construction from any of our day. There is the little rustic bridge, spanning "the deep hollow lane" excavated in the course of ages by the wheels of farm-wagons and the rush of floods. Above all, there are the cottages, specially characteristic of Hampshire, the humble homes of self-respecting poverty, not so abject as to neglect the graces. They blend with the sheltering trees and surrounding orchards, as the leaf-woven nest of the blackcap mingles with the grays and greens of the bramble. Happily, there are no slate quarries within carting distance. The lines of the bulging thatch lend themselves like pliant willow-work to the fancies of the builder, who, adding an "eke" here and throwing out an angle there, seems to have taken the vines and the clinging creepers for his models. Here the roofs come down to within a few feet of the garden plot; there they shelter a porch or a broad bit of veranda, a handy place of storage for tools and spare beehives. In addition we have a new presentation of the fauna and the flora of Selborne parish. The chief fault we have to find with these engravings is that they are not drawn to scale; but they display considerable vraisemblance. For instance, there is a world of expression in the eye of the blue titmouse as he hangs head downwards; and there is vicious meaning in the folds of the viper as he winds himself round the ragged thorn-stem, an animated caduceus. These drawings, however, cannot compete with the illustrations of Bewick. The graving tool of the son of the Tyneside laborer was as potent as the

pen of the scholarly recluse; he was to rural illustration what White was to rural literature. Equally quick-sighted as an observer, he followed nature as closely in his drawings, to which contemporary art could show no parallel. They breathe the poetry of realism; and as for his vignettes and tailpieces, pregnant with humor, pathos and satire, they convey stories and idylls in a few suggestive touches.

But we must pass from this leader in the cult of rural beauty to some of his more recent followers. It would be easy to fill many pages in tracing the order of their succession, and it is almost invidious to single out names among the many who have religiously tended the lamp and kept alive the sacred fires. But we may note among our personal favorites-specially beloved perhaps from local or early associations-Walton, William Howitt, Edward Jesse and George Borrow; Scrope, Colquhoun and St. John; Louis Jennings, who, after his crusade against Tammany in New York, came home to write "Field Paths" in England; Tom Hughes, Richard Jefferies .and "The Son of the Marshes." Nor can we forget the triumvirate of novelists who have cast their spells over southwestern England-Kingsley, Blackmore and Hardy. Who can dissociate Exmoor from "Lorna Doone," or Bideford and Clovelly from Amyas Leigh? Any plutocrat can bequeath his wealth for hospitals or almshouses; it is a rarer privilege to consecrate a country-side for the devotion of legions of pilgrims. In our list of the writers we revere there is but a single survivor; like the editors of the "Dictionary of National Biography," we have drawn the line above living men. But the mantles of these Elijahs still rest on sons of the prophets who are always reminding us of the attractions of a country life, and who preach by example as well as precept. We must

recognize, at any rate, that their books: are inspired by the keenest sense of personal enjoyment. They are so seductive that we can fancy the successful City man who reads them hurrying off to the land-agents for Hants or Gloucestershire, and diligently searching through their catalogues and photographs. For our own part we are inclined to believe that to retire to the country late in life, with a reasonable prospect of happiness, a man should be country-born, and, in a measure, country-bred. But if the secret of rural felicity is to be communicated, we know no recent writers whose works we can more conscientiously recommend than those whose names follow that of White at the head of this article.

Mr. Hutchinson and the lady who collaborates with him had a happy inspiration when they took the New Forest for their hunting ground. They need not have apologized for being anticipated by grave county historians and the sober compilers of guide-books. As well might Crome or Linnell have ceased to paint because there is such a science as geography. All depends in each new presentation upon freshness of feeling and lightness of touch. Even more than Sherwood or Savernake, the Forest of the Conqueror is still a wood of Broceliande. Within two hours of Waterloo Station the man of this century may be in pre-Norman England and lose himself, if he is in love with adventure, in labyrinths of glade and morass. To all intents, the Forest is much as the Conqueror made it, though Mr. Hutchinson rejects the legend of his sacrilegious devastation. The pedigrees of the rough aborigines are older than the most venerable oaks; till a generation or two ago there was still a descendant of the Purkis who carted the corpse of the Red King to its resting-place at Winchester. The cruel forest laws have fallen into dis

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