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done under the pretence and shelter of avowed loyalty to the state and commonwealth.
In such a place as this, like Ovid at Tomi, I can pour out my complaints to the roaring streams, and my voice thall not be heard; I can woo the zephyrs with the praises of vernal and sylvan beauty, and they shall waft the harmless theme to the remotest parts of the earth.
It was at six in the morning that I set out from my peaceful mansion, and it was a sweet little Robin that was my watchman and roused me from my bed. Nothing but necefsity maketh the Robin to trust to man, (said I,) and well I wot he is wise; but I will trust to that charming song for a pleasant morning; and away I brushed along.
I ascended the green hill, whose sides are covered with timber and with copse, on the margin of the river, but leave passage for cattle and for sheep. At first I delighted myself with the open expanse of day and of landscape, and with the singing of the lark. I cast my eyes around the noble extensive horizon, and saw the sun gilding the tops of distant mountains, and the fumes of the morning rising from far distant rivers, that ever and anon concealed the curling smoke of villages and hamlets, which I could descry in fhining points between the thickness of the haze, as the rays of the sun came upon them through the valleys or the clefts of the mountains.
Then, as fancy inclined me, I plunged into the dark recefses of the wood.
The dale through which I thus wandered, after having satisfied myself with the hill, extends some
April 17: what more than three miles through a pastoral yet sylvan scene, where sheep and cattle are seen in succefsion on the banks of a noble river.
The hither margin of this river spreads itself into frequent meadows; the further rises and juts out with bold and fantastic rocks. The river in its pafsage is continually changing its direction, its motion, and appearance. It is never lefs than forty, nor much more than eighty yards wide. In some places it is deep and remarkably smooth, but transparent to the bottom; and it is pure as chrystal, with a silver hue, except where by the opposition of rock it is dafhed into foam of the purest white, under water-falls that are perfectly lucid.
These falls are numerous but various. In some places they stretch straight across or aslant the stream; in others they are only partial, and the wa ter either dashes against the rocks, and leaps over them, or pouring along a steep, rebounds from those below; sometimes it rushes through the several openings between them; sometimes it drops gently down; and at other times it is driven back by the obstruction, and turns into an eddy.
In one particular spot the river is so much obstructed by rock, and the narrownefs of its pafsage, that it rages, and roars, and foams, till it has extricated itself from its confinement. Soon afterward it is spread into an expanse of deep and placid, but perfectly transparent water like a lake, from which, as from the finest looking glass, are reflected the picture of the magnificent rocks, crowned, tufted, or sprinkled with various wood. The rocks, all along
the dale, vary as often in their structure and appearance as the river doth in its course and motion. In one place they exhibit an extended ragged surface, like the ruins of an immense decayed fortalice.. In another you see a heavy top hanging forward, and overshadowing all beneath; and sometimes from the impression of the torrents on the indurated clay, huge columns are left standing, sometimes in clusters, and sometimes alone, like the stupenduous monuments of ancient grandeur; and these are occasionally chequered or covered with ivy and wild
It was now seven of the clock, and the dark indigo of the triple headed mountain that formed the chief object on the back ground of this landscape, was changed to a pleasing dove colour in the warming rays of the ascending sun, that not long after discovered the green of its pastures, and the whitenefs of its numerous flocks; while the long dark empurpled shade of the mountain was seen to spread over many a mile of rich and cultivated country.
On the confine of this fhade was seen a beautiful village, and a bridge of three noble arches across the river.
The breakfast smoke of the village was rising in spiry volumes to the clouds.
The sound of the ploughman's whistle was faintly heard at a distance between the choruses of the birds; and the scene of sylvan solitude became more animated, and by the contrast much more delightful.
I was now lowly sauntering on the very margin of the stream, when my eye was suddenly stricken with a colouring of water I had never before observed. The rays of the sun, which from a height interposed, did but only kim the surface of the river, stained the pebbly fhore between me and the stream with an azure blue of ultra marine, the water showed through its transparency a golden yellow on the sand at the bottom, and where the fhadow of the overhanging rocks interrupted the transparency, the darkest indigo blue was seen as it were to float and to flicher on the surface of this molten gold, as it was moved either by the agitation of the onward course of the river, or by the influence of the breeze*. The smoke of my village, and the thoughts of breakfast now shaped my course homewards, and I bent my attention more to the minuter circumstances of the country, than to the grandeur or beauty of the scene. I listened to the music of the groves, and attended to the innocent and useful labours of the hufbandman and of the fhepherd; I diligently marked the progrefs of the season in the leafing of the trees and fhrubs, and in the blowing of the flowers; and I set down the result in my pocket book, that I might compare the difference between the earlier or later appearances of vegetation, a practice which I recommend to your attention, as it is not only
*This is an appearance which the Editor of this letter never saw but once. Innumerable are the charms of varying nature to the at tentive lover of the country!
attended with amusement, but may eventually be productive of advantage to science, and particularly to the art of agriculture. Trees, fhrubs, and flowers are good thermometers. Mr Boyle can contrive no better for directing the labours of the farmer, or the undertakings of the traveller *.
* This remark is worthy of attention and diffusion. I shall here set down for the instruction and amusement of the readers of the Bee, a state of remarkably early vegetation, accurately reported by a gardener in Fife, March 31. 1779, the authenticity of which may be depended upon, and it may be compared with the latenefs of the present season and that of others still more backward.
March 31. Plumbs beginning to set, flourish to fall off. The leaf spred, and within a quarter of its full size. It was in full flower on the 8th of March. Upon the same wall apricot fruit set, and of the size of an ordinary grown currant. Growth of this year's shoots full three inches.
Nectarines in full flower, and the flowers beginning to drop off. Rasps in full leaf, and this year's fhoots sprung full seven inches. Rheum palmatum, or true rhubarb, in full leaf. The principal stem sprung fifteen inches and an half.
Young hops sprung two feet seven inches. Bees busy carrying on work, and have done so since the beginning of March. Roses and sweet briar in full leaf.
Sycamore well leafed and spread, burst on the 15th of March.
March 31. Seed flowers of the elm fully out, and turning brown. They were in full flower March 8th.
Leaf buds breaking and expanding on the lower branches.
Birch in full leaf. Their buds began to break, and their leaves to appear on the 20th of March.
The horse chesnut in leaf, and the flowers well advanced, but not opened. Growth of the young shoots three inches and an half.
Walnuts beginning to show their leaves.
Lilly of the valley nearly full blown.
White Narcissus in full flower, observed to be flowered on the 30th of March.
New England pines, spring's fhoots one-fourth of an inch.