Abbildungen der Seite
[ocr errors]

with a screen of shrubs. But mullions opening northward from the village and gables were shrouded with creep- street. There is the mighty yew in the ers; untrimmed fruit trees irained tu church-yard, so often noted in the the wall offered shelter to finches and diary; and, by-the-way, it has grown flycatchers, and the low windows over four feet in girth since Gilbert looked out on lawns, encircled by carefully measured it. There are the orchards and shrubberies, breaking farmsteadings, the great barns and the back to the slopes leading up to the quaint old hop-kilns, of very different beech woods.

construction from any of our day. There have been many editions of There is the little rustic bridge, spanWhite's great work, but the most re- ning "the deep hollow lane" excavated cent, published by Mr. Lane, will not in the course of ages by the wheels of easily be superseded. Perhaps the sim- farm-wagons and the rush of floods. ple-minded and unobtrusively pious Above all, there are the cottages, spenaturalist might have found a more cially characteristic of Hampshire, the sympathetic editor than the late Mr. humble homes of self-respecting povGrant Allen, who belonged pre-emi- erty, not so abject as to neglect the nently to modern science; and the notes, graces. They blend with the shelterbrief and sometimes contemptuous, are ing trees and surrounding orchards, as unsatisfactory. But the indisputable the leaf-woven nest of the blackcap claim of the edition to pre-eminence mingles with the grays and greens of rests on the truth and beauty, the vari- the bramble. Happily, there are no ety and profusion, of the illustrations. slate quarries within carting distance. Mr. New showed the happy bent of his The lines of the bulging thatch lend genius in his drawings for the "Life of themselves like pliant willow-work to Morris,” but he seems to have sur- the fancies of the builder, who, adding passed himself in the present volume. an "eke" here and throwing out an Throwing himself heart and soul into a angle there, seems to have taken the labor of love, he makes us realize the vines and the clinging creepers for his Selborne which White has sanctified. models. Here the roofs come down to Each scene associated with the natu- within a few feet of the garden plot; ralist has been lovingly depicted, from there they shelter a porch or a broad the vicarage where he was born to the bit of veranda, a handy place of storgraveyard where he lies buried. There age for tools and spare beehives. In is a tablet to his memory in the little addition we have a new presentation Norman church, with the low massive of the fauna and the flora of Selborne columns that indicate its hoary an- parish. The chief fault we have to tiquity; but if you would see his monu- find with these engravings is that they ment, you have only to look around on are not drawn to scale; but they disscenes that were sketched by his pen play considerable vraisemblance. For inand are now depicted by the artist's stance, there is a world of expression pencil. Here is the house where he in the eye of the blue titmouse as he lived and the church where he offici. hangs head downwards; and there is viated, taken from every point of view. cious meaning in the folds of the viper There is the sandy waste of Wolmer, as he winds himself round the ragged with the sedgy lake in the foreground, thorn-stem, animated caduceus. and the solitary clump of black pines These drawings, however, cannot comstanding out against the sky. In rich pete with the illustrations of Bewick. contrast, the beeches of the Hanger The graving tool of the son of the frame with their foliage each vista Tyneside laborer was as potent as the




pen of the scholarly recluse; he was to recognize, at any rate, that their books rural illustration what White was to are inspired by the keenest sense of rural literature. Equally quick-sighted personal enjoyment. They are so seas an observer, he followed nature as ductive that we can fancy the success. closely in his drawings, to which con- ful City man who reads them hurrytemporary art could show no parallel. ing off to the land-agents for Hants or They breathe the poetry of realism; Gloucestershire, and diligently searchand as for his vignettes and tailpieces, ing through their catalogues and photopregnant with humor, pathos and graphs. For our own part we are insatire, they convey stories and idylls in clined to believe that to retire to the a few suggestive touches.

country late in life, with a reasonable But we must pass from this leader in prospect of happiness, a man should be the cult of rural beauty to some of his country-born, and, in a measure, counmore recent followers. It would be try-bred. But if the secret of rural easy to fill many pages in tracing the felicity is to be communicated, we order of their succession, and it is al- know no recent writers whose works most invidious to single out names

more conscientiously recomamong the many who have religiously mend than those whose names follow tended the lamp and kept alive the that of White at the head of this sacred fires. But we may note among article. our personal favorites-specially be- Mr. Hutchinson and the lady who loved perhaps from local or early asso collaborates with him had a happy inciations-Walton, William Howitt, Ed- spiration when they took the New Forward Jesse and George Borrow; est for their hunting ground. They Scrope, Colquhoun and St. John; Louis need not have apologized for being anJennings, who, after his crusade ticipated by grave county historians against Tammany in New York, came and the sober compilers of guide-books. home to write "Field Paths" in Eng- As well might Crome or Linnell have land; Tom Hughes, Richard Jefferies ceased to paint because there is such a .and "The Son of the Marshes." Nor science as geography. All depends in can we forget the triumvirate of novel- each new presentation upon freshness ists who have cast their spells of feeling and lightness of touch. Even over southwestern England-Kingsley, more than Sherwood or Savernake, the Blackmore and Hardy. Who can dis- Forest of the Conqueror is still a wood sociate Exmoor from "Lorna Doone," of Broceliande. Within two hours of or Bideford and Clovelly from Amyas Waterloo Station the man of this cenLeigh? Any plutocrat can bequeath his tury may be in pre-Norman England wealth for hospitals or almshouses; it is and lose himself, if he is in love with a rarer privilege to consecrate a coun- adventure, in labyrinths of glade and try-side for the devotion of legions of morass. To all intents, the Forest is pilgrims. In our list of the writers we much the Conqueror made it, revere there is but a single survivor; though Mr. Hutchinson rejects the like the editors of the “Dictionary of legend of his sacrilegious devastation. National Biography," we have drawn The pedigrees of the rough aborigines the line above living men. But the are older than the most venerable oaks; mantles of these Elijahs still rest on till a generation or two ago there was sons of the prophets who are always still a descendant of the Purkis who reminding us of the attractions of a carted the corpse of the Red King to. country life, and who preach by ex- its resting-place at Winchester. The ample as well as precept. We must cruel forest laws have fallen into dis


use, but there is a survival of antiquated names, of prehistoric customs, and of quaint feudal dignities. There are verderers still in the Forest lodges, though now they are rather tribunes of the Commons than minions of the Crown. Smuggling has been suppressed, and poaching and deer-snatching have ceased to be profitable as formerly, though the woodmen still sometimes succumb to temptation.

Among other distinctions, the Forest still holds a population apart, with its charcoal-burners, squatters and gangs of gipsies, children of nature who are wedded as ever to their wandering life, and endure extreme privations in severe winters, holding out, Heaven knows how. They are less provident than the squirrels, nor can they sleep away their hunger like hedgepigs and dormice; but the brightening of the spring and the sunblaze of the summer seem to recompense them for all the sufferings of the dead season. In that life of the woods, like the other set. tlers, they have developed the instincts of the forest Indian. In fog or in snowfall they never lose themselves, and they can distinguish each ride or sinuous track, though resemblance approaches identity. Very different is the case of the enthusiastic stranger who gets belated there in pursuit of ornithology or botany; in his excitement he may easily lose his bearings, and, in the vain endeavor to steer a straight course, go walking in circles like a lost emigrant on the Texan prairies. Such a wanderer, when the evensong of the day-birds is being changed for the churn of the nightjar and the croak of the frog, is fortunate, indeed, if he hear the clink of the cow-bell, which sig. nifies the neighborhood of human habitation.

In the Forest there is no season without its peculiar charm; the wealth of wild flowers in the spring; its cool beds of bracken in the heats of sum

mer, watered by trickling rills that take their rise in sedge-choked pools; the blaze of berries on the natural shrubberies glowing in the russet tints of autumn, beneath oaks that may hope for a fresh lease of life, now that steel replaces timber in the dockyard, or weeping birches with their unkempt silver tresses, and those black clumps of firs, which are said to be draining with their thirsty roots the marshy soil. Here the shaggy head of an antlered buck may show like a Hamadryad above the bracken; there one may plunge in a swamp into a sounder of wild swine, or risk a charge from some sullen old tusker; everywhere the thickets of the holly, the bramble and the wild rose offer impenetrable cover to all the nesting birds, from the hawks and the cushats to the finches and the warblers. A very paradise it is of birds, for it is said that of 354 British species no fewer than 250 are frequenters of the Forest.

Were we looking out for a rural retreat, after reading Mr. Hutchinson we should be tempted, like Sir William Harcourt, to cast in our lot with the foresters. Mr. Hutchinson tells us that. a country gentleman, fond of sport, and preferring variety of game to quantity, will find full occupation in the Forest for eleven months in the twelve. When not shooting, fishing, or bird-nesting, he can be hunting foxes. But in a similar strain Mr. Dewar sings the praises of the more open North Hants, and he makes out a good case for his favorite district. Mr. Dewar is as enthusiastic and partial Mr. Hutchinson, but perhaps more of a professional; we mean that he is more of a scientific naturalist, though seemingly self-taught, and he has availed himself of more ample opportunities for methodical observation. Trained on such elusive chalk-streams as Test and Itchen, he has mastered the subtlest re. finements of angling, and, having him


self written on the "Dry Fly," can and the insects interest him as much criticise Sir Edward Grey with author- as the birds and the wildflowers; and ity. The patient pursuit of the gentle he finds the "silence of the woods” in craft naturally leads him into seques- a scorching September as eloquent as tered nooks and corners; and if the big the voices of the evening after sunset trout will sulk or only loll up indolent- in a dewy June. A fortunate man, he ly to the lure, he has always an alter- has found his home “in the centre of native occupation. Bird-nesting will dense and secluded woodlands," where always be a passion with us, as it the most famous trout streams of ought to have been with every boy Hampshire have their sources in the worth his salt; and we have never Downs, come across a more sympathetic spirit Much of Mr. Dewar's book is an since many a year ago we revelled in idyll in prose, and more poetical than Howitt's “Boy's Country Book," or im- many of the artificial effects of presentbibed the lore of animated nature day poets, for there is no sense of when poring over the woodcuts of Be- effort; his is the spontaneity of intense wick. No one has been more persever- enjoyment. Take his praise of leafy ing than Mr. Dewar, or has owned June, or his evening meditation on one more frankly to his difficulties and dis- of the old-world barrows, when the appointments. He holds that the flair shadows of the night and the darkenof the bird-nesting boy, questing like ing boughs are falling on the resting. the terrier crossed with the spaniel, is place of some forgotten warrior. keener than the intelligent experience of the man. His pages are a revela- The knowledge that one would have tion of the beneficence of Providence in such a resting place as this might half the lavish bestowal of instinct, if in

rob the "all-daring night" of its terstinct is to be distinguished from rea

rors. The straight dark fir trees make

rare music, low and soft in summer The nursing homes of the sweet

days, deep and resonant in loud auest songsters and the shyest or feeblest

tumn or winter nights, and whether birds are so arranged as almost to defy gently swinging to the breeze of June detection. The nightingale will seem or rocking to the wild northwest, it is to trill a challenge from his leafy always true melody that they make. bower, and you know that the mate he In the rich leafy m ld which covers serenades must be well within sight

the clay and the chalk heaped up to and hearing; but even

a Dewar may

form the mound, the primrose, wind

flower, and wood-sorrel grow in quantispend many a fruitless hour in search

ties in April and May, whilst all around ing the undergrowth for the lowly

in the brambles intermingled with the nest. Then there are the nurslings of

hazel stems, the blackcaps and gardenthe birds that breed on bare moorlands, warblers build their slender but welltaking little trouble about nests and constructed nests. Could we choose a trusting their eggs to the harmonies of better resting-place through the centucoloring. As soon as these precocious

ries? chickens have chipped the shell, they

His criticism of garden warblers and seem to come into their full inheritance

blackcaps, and the rival songsters in of craft and superb self-possession.

the sylvan orchestra, is characterized Mr. Dewar gives examples of parental by feeling and fine discrimination; he astuteness and subterfuge in aquatic

admires these, butfowl which may rank with the most sensational stories of the sagacity of Among our singing birds the nightindogs. The butterflies, the night-moths gale comes easily first, and there is no


other song of British bird in the faint- tal timber of some considerable counest degree comparable to his. I would try seat. But to the north I enjoyed put the nightingale alone in the first a much rarer if less extensive, view of class, and I would not suffer any bird southern scenery. Bare and severe lay to come in the second class. The the hills above Combe, as desolate of blackcap and the garden warbler aspect as those irreclaimable hills of should come in the third class, of which Exmoor Forest, one of nature's last rethey should be the sole occupants. maining fastnesses in the tilled and Blackbird, thrush, and lark should tamed south. ... There is a glamour come in class four.

about such barren and severe spots in

the midst of a country the features of This, however, is a matter of taste, in which are softness and plenty. Green regard to which comparisons are more

waving masses of oak and underwood, than usually odious. Shelley might

valleys, watered by pellucid and neverhave assigned a higher place to the

failing chalk spriugs, trim cottages,

their gardens ablaze through the sumsoaring sky-lark. But as Christopher

mer with the flower of our forefathers, remarked in the "Noctes," when eulo

lanes having great, straggling hedges, gizing black-bird and thrush, "why set laden in many parts with heavy masssuch delightful songsters by the ears?" es of wild clematis, night save even a

With his catholic admiration of every- fiat country from the charge of tamething that is beautiful or sublime, soft

ness; but a bit of wild open moorland,

a bleak hill without a green thing save or æsthetically sensuous, Mr. Dewar seldom misses any source of enjoy.

its grass upon it, will always be a

welcome change to the lover of l:indment, from the swell of the Downs and

scape. the tints of the foliage to the music of the birds and the lights on the land

That prospect commands a rare fishing scape. Looking down upon his favor

country. It looks down upon valleys ite district from a lonely and command- which hold the sources of the Avon ing height on a balmy summer even- and Kennet, the Itchen and the Test. ing, he gives a seductive description of Humanitarians and sentimentalists its peculiar features, so that the reader

may say what they please, but every who contemplates a visit may judge of man in love with the country should the attractions for himself. It is too

be something of an angler. The troutlong to quote entire, but we may ex- ing season, when the May-fly is on and tract some of the passages.

the fish are feeding, is the time when

all nature is most enjoyable. It is the It was one of those alluring evenings whistle of the snipe in spring-time that when the winds, high during morning in memory and fancy transports Mr. and afternoon, are "up-gathered now

Dewar to the wooded banks of the uplike sleeping flowers," while the sun, hid through much of the day, reappears

per Test. to sink in the west, a globe of fire. ..

The water-meadows of this district, There are not many spots in the south

he says, are full of wild creatures that of England where with a single glance

seek a shelter in their luxuriant vegeof the eye one can even dimly take in tation, now that the Broads have bea country which is enricherl by so come favorite fishing ground and the many and sweet trout streams as

fens have for the most part been rethese. Softness was the feature of this

claimed. Here not a few of the rarer landscape to the south; a medley it

water-birds still have a refuge, though looked of oak and hazel coppice, farms

here as elsewhere the snipe, once so and great thatched barns among dark elms, with here a few cottages clus. common, is said to be fast diminishing tered together, and there the ornamen- in numbers. “The constant associates

« ZurückWeiter »