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use, but there is a survival of antiquated names, of prehistoric customs, and of quaint feudal dignities. 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 settlers, 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 signifies 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; every where 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 as 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 refinements of angling, and, having him
self written on the "Dry Fly," can criticise Sir Edward Grey with authority. The patient pursuit of the gentle craft naturally leads him into sequestered nooks and corners; and if the big trout will sulk or only loll up indolently to the lure, he has always an alternative occupation. Bird-nesting will always be a passion with us, as it ought to have been with every boy worth his salt; and we have never come across a more sympathetic spirit since many a year ago we revelled in Howitt's "Boy's Country Book," or imbibed the lore of animated nature when poring over the woodcuts of Bewick. No one has been more persevering than Mr. Dewar, or has owned more frankly to his difficulties and disappointments. He holds that the flair of the bird-nesting boy, questing like the terrier crossed with the spaniel, is keener than the intelligent experience of the man. His pages are a revelation of the beneficence of Providence in the lavish bestowal of instinct, if instinct is to be distinguished from reason. The nursing homes of the sweetest songsters and the shyest or feeblest ' birds are so arranged as almost to defy detection. The nightingale will seem to trill a challenge from his leafy bower, and you know that the mate he serenades must be well within sight and hearing; but even a Dewar may spend many a fruitless hour in searching the undergrowth for the lowly nest. Then there are the nurslings of the birds that breed on bare moorlands, taking little trouble about nests and trusting their eggs to the harmonies of coloring. As soon as these precocious chickens have chipped the shell, they seem to come into their full inheritance of craft and superb self-possession. Mr. Dewar gives examples of parental astuteness and subterfuge in aquatic fowl which may rank with the most sensational stories of the sagacity of dogs. The butterflies, the night-moths
and the insects interest him as much as the birds and the wildflowers; and he finds the "silence of the woods" in a scorching September as eloquent as the voices of the evening after sunset in a dewy June. A fortunate man, he has found his home "in the centre of dense and secluded woodlands," where the most famous trout streams of Hampshire have their sources in the Downs.
Much of Mr. Dewar's book is an idyll in prose, and more poetical than many of the artificial effects of presentday poets, for there is no sense of effort; his is the spontaneity of intense enjoyment. Take his praise of leafy June, or his evening meditation on one of the old-world barrows, when the shadows of the night and the darkening boughs are falling on the restingplace of some forgotten warrior.
The knowledge that one would have such a resting place as this might half rob the "all-daring night" of its terrors. The straight dark fir trees make rare music, low and soft in summer days, deep and resonant in loud autumn or winter nights, and whether gently swinging to the breeze of June or rocking to the wild northwest, it is always true melody that they make. In the rich leafy mould which covers the clay and the chalk heaped up to form the mound, the primrose, windflower, and wood-sorrel grow in quantities in April and May, whilst all around in the brambles intermingled with the hazel stems, the blackcaps and gardenwarblers build their slender but wellconstructed nests. Could we choose a better resting-place through the centuries?
His criticism of garden warblers and blackcaps, and the rival songsters in the sylvan orchestra, is characterized by feeling and fine discrimination; he
admires these, but
Among our singing birds the nightingale comes easily first, and there is no
other song of British bird in the faintest degree comparable to his. I would put the nightingale alone in the first class, and I would not suffer any bird to come in the second class. The blackcap and the garden warbler should come in the third class, of which they should be the sole occupants. Blackbird, thrush, and lark should come in class four.
This, however, is a matter of taste, in regard to which comparisons are more than usually odious. Shelley might have assigned a higher place to the soaring sky-lark. But as Christopher remarked in the "Noctes," when eulogizing black-bird and thrush, "why set such delightful songsters by the ears?"
With his catholic admiration of everything that is beautiful or sublime, soft or æsthetically sensuous, Mr. Dewar seldom misses any source of enjoyment, from the swell of the Downs and the tints of the foliage to the music of the birds and the lights on the landscape. Looking down upon his favorite district from a lonely and commanding height on a balmy summer evening, he gives a seductive description of its peculiar features, so that the reader who contemplates a visit may judge of the attractions for himself. It is too long to quote entire, but we may extract some of the passages.
It was one of those alluring evenings when the winds, high during morning and afternoon, are "up-gathered now like sleeping flowers," while the sun, hid through much of the day, reappears to sink in the west, a globe of fire. . . There are not many spots in the south of England where with a single glance of the eye one can even dimly take in a country which is enriched by so many and sweet trout streams as these. Softness was the feature of this landscape to the south; a medley it looked of oak and hazel coppice, farms and great thatched barns among dark elms, with here a few cottages clustered together, and there the ornamen
tal timber of some considerable country seat. But to the north I enjoyed a much rarer if less extensive, view of southern scenery. Bare and severe lay the hills above Combe, as desolate of aspect as those irreclaimable hills of Exmoor Forest, one of nature's last remaining fastnesses in the tiled and tamed south. . . . There is a glamour about such barren and severe spots in the midst of a country the features of which are softness and plenty. Green waving masses of oak and underwood, valleys, watered by pellucid and neverfailing chalk springs, trim cottages, their gardens ablaze through the summer with the flower of our forefathers, lanes having great, straggling hedges, laden in many parts with heavy masses of wild clematis, might save even a flat country from the charge of tameness; but a bit of wild open moorland, a bleak hill without a green thing save its grass upon it, will always be a welcome change to the lover of landscape.
That prospect commands a rare fishing country. It looks down upon valleys which hold the sources of the Avon and Kennet, the Itchen and the Test. Humanitarians and sentimentalists may say what they please, but every man in love with the country should be something of an angler. The trouting season, when the May-fly is on and the fish are feeding, is the time when all nature is most enjoyable. It is the whistle of the snipe in spring-time that in memory and fancy transports Mr. Dewar to the wooded banks of the upper Test.
The water-meadows of this district, he says, are full of wild creatures that seek a shelter in their luxuriant vegetation, now that the Broads have become favorite fishing ground and the fens have for the most part been reclaimed. Here not a few of the rarer water-birds still have a refuge, though here as elsewhere the snipe, once so common, is said to be fast diminishing in numbers. "The constant associates
of the snipe are the lapwing and wild duck." Now that the eggs fetch fancy prices no bird in the nesting season is more persecuted than the lapwing, yet we doubt whether it is much less abundant than formerly, and assuredly there is no prospect of its being extirpated. It is true that the unprotected colonies have been broken up, where they used to congregate in certain favored localities in rushy pastures almost as thickly as the black-headed gulls; but they have been dispersed over the length and breadth of the land, and there is scarcely a fallow or a bit of waste without at least a pair of these querulous denizens of solitude. But the borders of well protected streams like Test and Itchen are invaluable as breeding places for the kingfisher, which Mr. Gibbs describes as
clothed in priceless jewellery, sparkling in the sun; sapphire and amethyst in his bright blue back, rubies on his ruddy breast, and diamonds round his princely neck;
and on these Hampshire rivers the kingfisher has still free right of fishing, while his mate can hatch her brood in tranquillity in the badger-like burrow beneath the bank.
Mr. Dewar is skilled in the subtleties of fine fishing in limpid chalk streams. He says "the Test trout are very difficult to deceive," and no one who has tried the stream will dispute it.
Whitchurch, Longparish, Bransbury, Wherwell, Chilbolton-what enticing sounds these names have for the trout fisherman about the time when the yellow of palm and primrose begins to appear in the hazel coppices, and the note of the chiff-chaff is heard from oak and elm.
But the mention of Longparish and its water-meadows reminds us of the changes that have come about in the course of the century. The Test trout
were not always so wary. For Longparish House was the residence of the sporting Colonel Hawker, who in his "Diary" makes constant mention of the river and the water-meadows. Sir Ralph Payne-Gallwey remarks, in the introduction to the last edition, "In the Test he caught literally thousands of trout, when trout could be caught without first crawling for them like stalking a stag and then throwing a floating fly."
Mr. Gibbs's "Cotswold Village" is a fertile oasis in a bleaker district. But Shakespeare has thrown his charm over the Cotswolds: Justice Shallow had his hospitable hall in Gloucestershire, and Will Squele was "a Cotswold man." Mr. Gibbs was a devout admirer of the poet, and cherished the memory of the Justice; but it was not Shakespeare or Shallow who tempted him to rent his old Manor House. It was a case of love at first sight, and affection soon warmed into passion. We know how much there is in piquancy of expression; it can give charm to features that are plain or even positively ugly. Mr. Gibbs admits that to a superficial observer his surroundings might seem almost forbidding. "On the wolds all is bleak, dull and uninteresting; the air is ever chill; walls of loose stone divide field from field, and few houses are to be seen." At first he was inclined to say with Shallow that all was barren. But when he caught sight of the little hamlet, sheltering under its stately trees, on the copsefringed banks of the pellucid Colne, a change came over his spirit. The sharpness of the contrasts had an irresistible fascination, and the vision of beauty decided his fate. The first view of his village impressed itself indelibly on his memory and affections:
Suddenly, as I was pondering how among these never-ending hills there could be such a place as I had been told existed, I beheld it at my feet, sur
passing beautiful! Below me was the small village, nestling amid a wealth of stately trees. The hand of man seemed in some by-gone time to have done all that was necessary to render the place habitable, but no more. There were cottages, bridges, and farm buildings, but all were ivy-clad and time-worn. The very trees themselves appeared to be laden with a mantle of ivy that was more than they could bear. Many a tall fir, from base to topmost bough, was completely robed with the smooth fivepointed leaves of this rapacious evergreen. Through the thick foliage of elm and ash and beech I could just see an old manor-house; and round about it, as if for protection, were clustered some thirty cottages. A running of waters filled my ears, and on descending the hill I came upon a silvery trout stream.
In the "five-pointed" leaves of the ivy we note the exactness of knowledge which gives vraisemblance to the work of great poets and artists-vraisemblance gave their cachet to the landscapes of Millais, for Millais passed half the year in the country. So old Mr. Holbrook in Mrs. Gaskell's "Cranford" appreciates the poetry of Tennyson, because the young poet had written of the black ash-buds in March; and so Scott explained from the artistic point of view the value of the minuteness of truth, when he was gathering the wild flowers that grew on the banks of the Greta.
Mr. Gibbs's decision to settle in his Cotswold village was a fortunate one for the natives. He took up his abode in the Manor House and became the Providence of the parish. In his book there is nothing of egoism, but it is full of personal experiences and fond reminiscences, and it brings us into the closest touch with the writer. In the overflow of irrepressible feeling it is the frank revelation of a beautiful life, and yet the shadow of a premature death seems to darken the brightest pages. Gibbs might have taken "the
night cometh" for his motto, and he set himself, in the highest sense, to make the best of the passing world. He was not righteous over-much, and there was nothing in him of the Puritan or the sentimentalist; rather was he the lay counterpart of Charles Kingsley. Devoted to all manner of sport, he was as patient an angler as Mr. Dewar, and as pleased with a wild bag picked up by hard walking. Νο man went straighter when hounds were carrying a scent breast-high; he complains that the stone walls on the wolds were not stiff enough; and his recollections of good days remind us of runs by WhyteMelville in "Market Harborough" or "Kate Coventry." But there is a serious undercurrent in his lighter vein, though it may sink out of sight in an occasional chapter, as the Colne disappears for a space beneath its chalk bed, the fact being that he took his responsibilities seriously, spending means and talents for the good of his neighbors. His system may be summed up in his relations with his headkeeper, the son of a venerable tenant, and one of a family long settled on the land. As Scott had his Tom Purdie, so Gibbs had his Tom Peregrine, and he made the most of him. Tom may have been embellished by an indulgent fancy, but in essentials he is evidently true to the life. An incarnation of sylvan knowledge and rural lore, he was exploited by his friend and master to their mutual advantage. Tom was the Leather-Stocking of Gibbs's old English scenes:
I liked the man; he was so delightfully mysterious. And the place would never have been the same without him; for he became part and parcel with the trees and the fields and every living thing. Nor would the woods and the path by the brook and the breezy wolds ever have been quite the same if his quaint figure had not appeared suddenly there. Many a time was I startled