π1r

Conversations
Introducing
Poetry,
Chiefly on Subjects
of
Natural History,
For the Use
of
Young Persons.

Volume the First.

London,
Printed for Whittingham and Arliss; I Bumpus & Sharpe & Son. 18191819.

π1v A1r

Preface.

The Poetry in these books was written
without any intention of publishing it. I
wished to find some short and simple pieces
on subjects of Natural History, for the use
of a child of five years old, who on her
arrival in England could speak no English,
and whose notice was particularly attracted
by flowers and insects. Among the collections
avowedly made for the use of children,
I met with very few verses that answered
my purpose, and therefore I wrote two or
three of the most puerile of the pieces that
appear in these volumes. Some friends A A1v ii
were pleased with them, as well as with the
slight alterations I made in others already
in their possession; and a near relation
sent me several which she had composed on
purpose, and one or two which had long
lain in her port-folio. Thus encouraged,
my collection insensibly increased. I grew
fond of the work; and when it contained,
as I imagined, enough to answer my original
intention, I sent it up to be printed;
but I found that there was not manuscript
enough to make even a very small volume.
I therefore undertook to enlarge the book
by Conversations, but I suffered some borrowed
and altered pieces to remain, which
I should have taken out, had I known that
I need not have retained them for want of
a sufficient number of original compositions.
Of this, however, I was not aware A2r iii
till the First Volume was arranged, and the
prose written; and as my trespass on others
has not been great, I trust it will be forgiven
me. There are seven pieces not my own,
some of them a little altered, to answer my
first purpose of teaching a child to repeat
them; and five of my own reprinted. Of
the remainder, though the Relation to
whom I am obliged objected to my distinguishing
them by any acknowledgment,
it is necessary to say, that where my interlocutors
praise any Poem, the whole or the
greater part of it is hers.

It will very probably be observed, that the
pieces towards the end of the Second Volume
are too long for mere children to
learn to repeat, and too difficult for them
to understand. It is, however, impossible
to write any thing for a particular age; A2v iv
some children comprehend more at eight
years old, than others do at twelve; but
to those who have any knowledge of Geography
or Mythology, or who have a taste
for Botany, the two last pieces will not be
found difficult. I confess, that in the progress
of my work I became so partial to it, as to
wish it might, at least the latter part, be
found not unworthy the perusal of those
who are no longer children.

I have endeavoured, as much as possible,
to vary the measure, having observed, that
a monotonous and drawling tone is acquired,
by reciting continually from memory verses,
selected without attention to variety of cadence.
To each of these little pieces, I
have affixed some moral, or some reflection;
and where I supposed the subject or the
treatment of it might be obscure, I have A3r v
preceded or followed the Poetry, with a
slight explanation in prose: but many notes
were, nothwithstanding, unavoidable.

Whoever has undertaken to instruct
children, has probably been made sensible,
in some way or other, of their own limited
knowledge. In writing these pages of prose,
simple as they are, I have in more than one
instance been mortified to discover, that my
own information was very defective, and
that it was necessary to go continually to
books. After all I fear I have made some
mistakes, particularly in regard to the
nature of Zoophytes; but the accounts
of this branch of natural history in the
few books I have, are so confused and
incomplete, that I could not rectify the
errors I suspected.

I found it difficult to make my personages A3v vi
speak so as entirely to satisfy myself. I
shall perhaps hear that my children, in this
book, do not talk like children, but the mere
prattle of childhood would be less in its
place here, than language nearer to that of
books, which however will probably be
criticised as affected and unnatual. There
is a sort of fall-lall way of writing very
usual in works of this kind, which I have
been solicitous to avoid, and perhaps have
erred in some other way. Being at a considerable
distance from the press, errors
have crept in, which under such a disadvantage
are almost unavoidable.

Charlotte Smith.
A4r

Conversation the First.

A4v B1r

Conversation the First.

GeorgeEmily. In a little Garden called their own.

George—

Look, Emily, look at this beautiful
shining insect, which has almost hid itself
in this white rose, on your favourite tree. It
is shaped very like those brownish chafers,
which you desired me to take away from
the gardener’s children yesterday, because you
thought they were going to torment and hurt
them; but this is not so big, and is much prettier.
See what little tassels it has on his horns;
the wings shine like some part of the peacock’s
feathers.

Emily—

It is very pretty—but indeed,
George, I am afraid it will fly away if you disturb
it. I should like to keep it in a box, but
only you know, Mamma says, it is cruel to
deprive even an insect like this of its liberty; vol. 1. B B1v 2
perhaps it would not eat if it was to be confined.

George—

I wish Mamma could see it, she
would tell us the name of it; and whether,
without hurting it, you might keep it in a
little paper box, which you know I could
make for you of some strong paper, with pinholes
to give it air. I could carry it gently
on the rose which it has crept into so snugly;
only I do not like to gather the finest flower
on our tree, for the rest of them are not yet
blown so much out.

Emily—

But suppose, brother, I stay and
watch it, for fear of its flying away, while you
go and desire Mamma, if she is not too busy,
to come and look at it.

Mrs. Talbot—

Where is this treasure that
you have found? O! this is the green-chafer. Page 2.—Green Chafer, Scarabeus nobilis.
There are two sorts, I believe, of them; one is
more of the colour of copper, and the other
more crimson: this is the latter. They are
the most beautiful of that species of insects,
at least of those that inhabit this country; for
in warm climates, where the colours of insects
are much brighter, there are creatures of the
beetle sort, of which the shards, or upper B2r 3
wings, and bodies, appear to be studded with
diamonds, rubies, and emeralds.

Emily—

Mamma, may we take this chafer
and keep it? George says he could make a
box with holes for air, and we could feed it
with rose leaves! Would it be wrong?

Mrs. Talbot—

No; but I do not think
you would find so much satisfaction in it, as
in letting your chafer enjoy his liberty, and
wander from flower to flower, for they feed on
several sorts. You might have found them on
those beautiful guelder roses, 3.—Guelder Rose, Viburnum opulus—a cultivated
variety of the indigenous species.
which you know
were in bloom about a fortnight since in the
shrubbery, but the trees were too high for you
to see them creeping among the round white
bunches of blossoms, which the servants and
country people, aptly enough, call snow-balls.
But there is an admirable description of these
flowers in the poem of the Task, you know,
which I read to you the other day. The
Poet calls it a rose from the usual name, and
describes it— “Throwing up, into the darkest gloomOf neighbouring cypress, or more sable yew,Her silver globes; light as the foamy surfThat the wind severs from the broken wave.”

B2v 4

George—

But, Mamma, may Emily keep
the chafer?

Mrs. Talbot—

I had rather she would not;
first, because it is cruel to the insect; and also
because, pretty as it is, this sort of chafer has
an offensive smell when touched; and you will
find, Emily, your prisoner a disagreeable inmate.
Instead, therefore, of contriving the
captivity of the chafer, let us address a little
poem to it.

Emily—

A poem to a chafer, Mamma?
—Why the chafer cannot be supposed to understand
it.

Mrs. Talbot—

Certainly not; prose, or
poetry, we know to be equally unintelligible
to an insect, as to a bird, a tree, or a flower,
or any other animate, or inanimate being,
that does not possess speech or reason. But
you remember your brother Edward recited
an address, in that style of verse called a sonnet,
to a nightingale, which was composed by
Milton, the first of English poets. And the
nightingale, though called the “poet of the
woods,”
is not more qualified to understand
these addresses than this shining insect. Go,
then, bring me a pencil and a drawing card. B3r 5
We will sit down on this bank, under the laburnum,
and you shall write while I dictate.
Emily, by this hour to-morrow, will learn to
repeat our little address.

To a Green-Chafer, on a White Rose.

You dwell within a lovely bower,

Little chafer, gold and green,

Nestling in the fairest flower,

The rose of snow, the garden’s queen.

There you drink the chrystal dew,

And your shards as emeralds bright,

And corselet, of the ruby’s hue,

Hide among the petals white.

Your fringed feet may rest them there,

And there your filmy wings may close,

But do not wound the flower so fair

That shelters you in sweet repose.

Insect! be not like him who dares

On pity’s bosom to intrude,

And then that gentle bosom tears

With baseness and ingratitude.

Mrs. Talbot—

You have written it very well.
Now, George, and you, my Emily, tell me
whether you understand it.

B2 B3v 6

Emily—

I don’t know, Mamma, what shards 6.—Shards, Elytra.
are.

Mrs. Talbot—

That word is usually understood
to mean the outward wings of beetles,
and such insects, which under them have
another pair of light filmy wings, that, when
they fly, are spread out; but at other times
are folded up under their hard case-like wings,
so as not to be perceived.

George—

The word corselet I do not quite
comprehend.

Mrs. Talbot—

That expression is taken
from the French word for armour, which was
worn to cover the body in battle.

George—

I understand it now; and petals,
you have told us, mean the leaves of the
flower itself, which should be distinguished
from the green leaves that grow on the
branches.

Mrs. Talbot—

Well, then you will assist
your little Emily in learning this to-morrow.
But there is John crossing the garden with
letters in his hand; let us go in to read them.

B4r 7

Mrs. Talbot—

Your aunt’s letter contains a
little poem for you, Emily. Our collection
will increase, I hope, and we shall no longer
be at a loss for pieces fit for you to repeat.
You have often seen the little insects called
Ladybirds. You remember there were so many
of them about the rooms at your uncle’s in
Kent, that they were quite troublesome. But
the people in that country are very glad to see
them, believing that their appearance is always
followed by an extraordinary crop of hops.
They are sometimes called burnie-bees, and
sometimes lady-cows.

George—

I dare say I can find several of
them in the garden, among the flowers.

Emily—

Brother, you need not even go so
far, for I saw two or three in the window this
morning. Here, I have found one already.
It is a very small one, with only two little black
spots.

Mrs. Talbot—

There are a great many
sorts of them. Some have more, and others B4v 8
less of these spots; some are dark red, others
of a lighter red; and now and then I have
seen them black with red spots. In shape you
see these little insects resemble the chafer we
saw yesterday. Observe, he unfolds his upper
wings, spreads the gauze-like pinions underneath,
and prepares to fly. Farewell, Ladybird,
we are now going to read some verses
about you, made, I see, in the same measure
as the nursery lullaby, which I remember
when I was a child. “To The Lady-Bird 8.—Lady-bird, Coccinella—many species. Oh! Lady-bird, Lady-bird, why dost thou roamSo far from thy comrades, so distant from home?Why dost thou, who can revel all day in the air,Who the sweets of the grove and the garden can share,In the fold of a leaf, who can form thee a bower,And a palace enjoy in the tube of a flower;Ah, why, simple Lady-bird, why dost thou venture,The dwellings of man so familiar to enter?Too soon you may find, that your trust is misplac’d,When by some cruel child you are wantonly chas’d,And your bright scarlet coat, so bespotted with black,May be torn by his barbarous hands from your back.And your smooth jetty corselet be pierced with a pin,That the urchin may see you in agonies spin;For his bosom is shut against pity’s appeals,He has never been taught that a Lady-bird feels.B5r9Ah, then you’ll regret that you were tempted to rove,From the tall climbing hop, or the hazel’s thick grove,And will fondly remember each arbour and tree,Where lately you wandered contented and free;Then fly simple Lady-bird!—fly away home,No more from your nest, and your children to roam.”

Emily—

I shall be very glad to learn these
lines, Mamma, for I think them extremely
pretty. But should I not first be perfect in
those on the rose, which you desired me to
write yesterday, after I had dressed the flower-
glasses with those beautiful groupes of roses.

Mrs. Talbot—

Perhaps you can already repeat them: try.

Emily—

“Queen of fragrance, lovely Rose! Thy soft and silken leaves disclose: The winter’s past, the tempests fly, Soft gales breathe gently through the sky; The silver dews and genial showers Call forth a blooming waste of flowers; And lo! thy beauties now unclose, Queen of fragrance, lovely Rose! Yet, ah! how soon that bloom is flown, How soon thy blushing charms are gone! To-day thy crimson buds unveil, To-morrow scatter’d in the gale. Ah! human bliss as swiftly goes, And fades like thee, thou lovely Rose.”

B5v 10

George—

You did not make those lines yourself,
Mamma?

Mrs. Talbot—

No, George; I found them
in a collection of poems, and changed a few
of the words, and I believe omitted some of
the stanzas.

Emily—

And that which my brother wrote
out this morning: did you or my aunt write it?

Mrs. Talbot—

You may remember that I
mentioned it was written by the Author of
the Task; or rather he translated it from
the Latin of Vincent Bourne; many others of
whose small poems he has also translated.

George—

I liked it on account of the oddity
of the measure; but you altered it a little,
Mamma?

Mrs. Talbot—

I did; not however expecting
to make the poetry better, but rather to
make my Snail a less selfish and Epicurean
animal than he appears in Vincent Bourne:
let us hear it, George, and then we will go for
our evening walk.

B6r 11

George[Speaker label not present in original source]

“The Snail. 11.—Snail, Helix. To grass, or leaf, or fruit, or wall, The snail sticks fast, nor fears to fall, As if he grew there, house or all Together. Within that house secure he hides, When danger imminent betides Of storm, or other harm besides, Of weather. Give but his horns the slightest touch, His self-collecting power is such, He shrinks into his house with much Displeasure. Where’er he dwells, he dwells alone, Except himself has chattles none, Well satisfied to be his own Whole treasure. Thus Hermit-like his life he leads Alone, on simple viands feeds, Nor at his humble banquet needs Attendant. And tho’ without society, He finds ’tis pleasant to be free, And that he’s blest who need not be Dependant.”

B6v 12

George—

And no being, certainly, can be
more independant than the snail, who carries
his habitation about with him.

Emily—

Let us see, brother, as we walk,
whether we cannot find some of those yellow
snails with dark stripes, and others with blood-
coloured stripes, such as you remember we
found in the hedge under the elms. I don’t
like those ugly garden snails, that eat the
greengages and peaches, and spoiled so much
of our fruit last year. They are odious, dirty
things.

Mrs. Talbot—

Yet by no means without
their use. In some parts of Italy they are used
as an article of food, and are fed and cleaned
for that purpose; they are also prescribed by
certain physicians of Switzerland, as a remedy
for consumptions. But in a garden they are
very obnoxious, and if great pains were not
taken by gardeners and farmers to destroy
these as well as slugs, an insect of the same
species, but without a shell; the labours not
only of the gardener, but often those of the
farmer, would be rendered vain. Plovers, 12.—Plover, Tringa vanellus. or
Pewits, which are birds that live on heaths
and moors, are sometimes kept in walled gardens C1r 13
to destroy these mischievous insects, and
they are devoured by ducks and other birds.
But it is time to end our conversation for this
morning. Your acquaintance, young Scamperville,
dines here: you must be ready to
receive him, George.

Evening. Mrs. TalbotEmily.

Emily—

Mamma, I was extremely glad to
get away from that rude boy: I hope he will
not come often here.

Mrs. Talbot—

Indeed, Emily, I shall not
encourage the acquaintance; and I do not
believe your brother wishes it.

Emily—

I am sure I should not love my
brothers so well as I do, if they were like this
Mr. Scamperville. He is so proud, and contradicts
every body, and seems to think himself
so great; and besides, I never heard any
boy talk so about eating, and sauces, and gravy.

Mrs. Talbot—

He has had a very bad education;
his father and mother are people who C C1v 14
live very fashionably, and have left him entirely
to the chance of a school, and the superintendance
of a person between a servant and
a tutor, who has no wish but to make advantage
of the confidence reposed in him; the
boy is the echo and mimic of the people he
sees, and will probably become an ignorant,
dissipated man of fashion, who would be despised
if he was not rich; and will, like many
other such people, blaze for a day, and be
forgotten. But let us avail ourselves of this
interval to do at least part of our evening
lesson. You have learned the stanzas I gave
you yesterday?

Emily—

Yes, Mamma, I found them very
easy. “A Walk By The Water.Emily.Let us walk where reeds are growing,By the alders in the mead;Where the crystal streams are flowing,In whose waves the fishes feed.There the golden carp 14.—Carp, Cyprinus carpio. is laving,With the trout, —Trout, Salmo fario. the perch, Perch, Perca fluviatilis. and bream: —Bream, Cyprinus brama. Mark! their flexile fins are waving,As they glance along the stream.C2r15Now they sink in deeper billows,Now upon the surface rise;Or from under roots of willows,Dart to catch the water-flies.’Midst the reeds and pebbles hiding,See the minnow
Minnow, Cyprinus phoscinus.
and the roach; —Roach, Cyprinus rutilus.
Or by water-lillies gliding,Shun with fear our near approach.
Do not dread us, timid fishes,We have neither net nor hook;Wanderers we, whose only wishesAre to read in nature’s book.”

Mr. Scamperville and George come into the
Room.

George—

Mother, Harry wishes me to go
down to the river with him: I will go, but
not to fish.

Harry—

Then of what use will your going
be? I shall hire a boat; I dare say I can, can’t
I? and get a man to row us down the river;
there is monstrous good sport, Germain told
me, a mile or two off; and if we get as low
as where the tide comes up, he says there
are mullets, which are famous good eating.

George—

Well, you may do all this without
me, you know, as I neither love that sort
of sport, nor care about the goodness of mullets.

C2v 16

Mrs. Talbot—

George has rather a dislike
to angling, Mr. Scamperville.

Harry—

I dare say; one would think, however,
such a quiet sport as that might suit
him, though he says he never had a gun in his
hand in his life, and never rode after the hounds.

Mrs. Talbot—

Neither, I believe, have ever
entered his notions of amusement and
pleasure; he has been taught to think, that
hunting, and shooting, and fishing, are made
in general matters of too much importance,
and that those who too ardently pursue them
learn at length to believe, that man is an animal
born only to ensnare and destroy every
other animal. My sons have been educated
to other ideas.

Harry—

I suppose, Ma’am, you are afraid
of their being drowned?

Mrs. Talbot—

Not at all, I assure you, for
they have both learned to swim very well. But
George has been of several fishing parties, and
has found no pleasure in them, though he is
very fond of the water. However, if you like
to take your favourite river walk, George, go.
—Come Emily, we will resort to our little greenhouse.

C3r 17

Harry—

Come, come along! Why if one
was to listen to all this prosing, there would
be no pleasure in the world. I cannot imagine,
George, how you contrive to amuse yourself?

George—

I have never wanted occupation
or amusement, Harry; but I can find no
pleasure in putting a miserable worm on a
hook, and making it wreath in torture; nor in
seeing the poor fish swallow the bait and hook
too, as often happens; and indeed to stand
dazzling our eyes and wasting whole days to
stare at a bit of cork and a quill, only for such
a sad purpose, seems to me to be a great sacrifice
of time; I like much better to see the
ponds let down, as they were this spring, and
thousands of little fishes jumping in the nets,
or shining like silver in the shallow water as
they flounce about.

Harry—

But where is the difference, pray?
Were not these fishes to be eaten just the
same?

George—

No; for they are not caught for
that purpose; when the ponds are drawn they
are often taken out of the water where they
are bred, to be removed to other ponds, where
they remain: my brother and I were employedC2 C3v 18
to carry them to these last; and
our great pleasure was to put them in gently,
one by one, and observe how they seemed to
enjoy themselves as they were restored to
their own element, and swam merrily away.

Harry—

O stupid work! I should be
wearied to death of such humdrum amusement.

George —

We are not; besides, my mother
often walks with us, and tells us the names of
different trees and flowers. She describes the
inhabitants of the waters, and the birds that
live on the banks of rivers. There are alders
and willows of different sorts grow on the edge
of the stream, and sometimes the great grey
heron is seen watching under them for fish,
stretching out his long neck over the brink.
Sometimes she has shewn us the place, under
a rocky bank, where there are hollows, which
are inhabited by otters— 18.—Otters, Mustela lutra.

Harry—

Yes, and it is amazing good sport
to hunt those otters. I was out one day with
my father, Sir Harry, and I saw the dogs kill
one.

George—

I once saw one, but it was dead.
Above the river’s banks too, on those high C4r 19
sandy rocks that are covered with birch and
broom, there are great cavities, where another
animal finds his dwelling—the badger. —Badger, Ursus meles.

Harry—

Oh, yes! that is the animal they
hunt at Winchester on the hills, you know.
I have a cousin there, who says it is famous
sport; they pin him down, and then bait him
with terriers.

George—

It may be thought sport perhaps,
but I think it must be extremely cruel to harrass
a poor defenceless beast.

Harry—

Stuff and nonsense! this is cruel,
and t’other thing is cruel; why, George,
since you have been so much at home, you
are become an absolute milksop! just like a
man-milliner.

George—

Well, I cannot help your opinion
of me, you know. But to tell you the truth,
Harry, I find much more pleasure and satisfaction
in making my mother contented with
me, than in any thing you call amusement;
and it is now no sacrifice, because I have
never been taught to delight in these pastimes
which you so much admire.

Harry—

I can’t say I understand all that
sort of thing. It would be curious, I do think, C4v 20
if I was to be tied to my mother’s apron-
string, and taddle about so. I wonder which
would be tired first, Lady Scamperville, or
me? Why she never thinks of asking me
to learn any thing in the holidays, or of telling
me what this thing is, and what t’other thing
is made of. We know the things are there;
and if we have money to buy what we like,
that is most material, I think.

George—

But how do you expect to have
money to buy what you like when you grow
up, if you take no pains to obtain knowledge
when you are young?

Harry—

A curious question indeed! What
you really, with all your sagacity, suppose
then, that I shall be obliged to take to a trade
when I grow up? An excellent notion that!
No! good Mr. George, my father is a Baronet,
sir; a man of great fortune, and I am his
only son; I shall have no occasion to learn
any thing for the sake of getting money,
when I grow up, I assure you. I shall not
want knowledge for that; I shall have a great
estate.

George—

Perhaps, though, it might be
worth your while to try for some knowledge to C5r 21
teach you how to keep it; for I have read
stories of people, and my mother has heard of,
indeed known people, who were once very
rich, but being also very idle, they have
thrown away their fortunes, only because they
did not know how to pass their time; and
when their money was gone, they found
themselves useless beings in the world, and
perhaps obliged to become dependant on
those very persons who had art and cunning
enough to cheat them out of their property.

Harry—

Really now, Talbot, when I met
you last summer, you seemed to me to be any
thing
rather than a formal fellow, with such
queer shopkeeping notions. No, I shall not
be idle, I fancy, though I don’t intend to fag,
like a tradesman, or grub like a parson at
at Greek and Hebrew books, which are of no
use to a gentleman. When I am Sir Harry
Scamperville
, the first thing I shall do will be
to have the best stud in the county. I’ll have
a curricle too, and a tandem with blood
horses; and I’ll have, sir, such a pack of foxhounds;
hoicks, hoicks, my knowing ones;
I’ll shew them what it is to have right notions C5v 22
of all that sort of thing: Germain says, I
shall be quite the very thing, the tippy.

George—

Pray who is Germain?

Harry—

Germain! why he is a sort of
upper servant; that is, a sort of gentleman
that my father keeps to go about with me,
He was abroad with him. He is a German,
a monstrous good fellow, though a great quiz;
it is high fun to see him on horseback, for he
can’t ride at all, though he won’t own it.
You would die with laughing to see the faces
he makes; he is so afraid: but he has had
some tumbles, which almost killed me, I laughed
so. I always get him upon a spunkey
horse, and the fun is to see his contrivances to
stick fast, while I dash on, on purpose.

George—

He don’t seem to recommend all
these horses, and hunting schemes, then, to
gratify himself.

Harry—

Oh, lord! no, not at all! it is only
because he wishes that I should make a figure,
and all that, as a man in a certain style ought
to do. But there is Jasper Grice, the groom,
that overlooks Sir Harry’s stables; it is he
that has made me so well acquainted with all
that sort of thing; he is the boldest rider you C6r 23
know in the country. He taught me to ride,
and to fear nothing when I am in the saddle.
You seem to have no notion of that sort of
thing; I wish I could get you into the field;
you’d soon see what it is to have spirit and
courage: ’gad, I go over every thing, as bold
as a dragon. Why, now, if was on horseback,
on my filly, Truffle, and the dogs were
to take water, you see, in this part of the river,
or any where ever so dangerous, why I should
no more mind plunging in directly, than I
should――

A boy comes running up.

Boy—

Masters, young Masters! pray help
—help, for God’s sake: my poor little sister
—she has fell’d into the river. Oh! for certain
she’ll be drownded, and what will mother
say? What shall I do?

George—

Shew me the place directly: come
Harry, let us run—come, come!

Harry—

Run! no, indeed, I shall do no
such thing. Why, George, George, what is
it to you? Don’t go: you’ll be pulled into
the water. He’s gone—a stupid fellow; to
hazard his life for a beggar’s brat. I’ve no C6v 24
notion of that sort of thing; the fool will be
drowned, I dare say; I’ll go call for somebody,
to help fish him out: I’m sure he’ll be
drowned.

(Mrs. Talbot being abruptly informed of
what had happened, comes up in alarm;
but the child has been taken out of the water
by her son, and is seated on the lap of its
mother.)

The poor Woman—

See, Madam! good
Madam, blessings and good luck on Master
George
! he has saved my little Nanny. Look,
Ma’am, she’s quite come to. God reward
you, Master George! If it had not been for
him, Nanny would have been drownded.

Mrs. Talbot—

Indeed I am very glad. Poor
child! I am rejoiced to see her alive. And
you, my son, I delight in your courage and
your safety. I was alarmed, for Mr. Scamperville
ran to tell me he believed you were
drowned. But the danger is now over. Go
home and change your clothes.

George—

I am mad with Scamperville for D1r 25
frightening you so: he had better have helped,
instead of running away. Oh, there he is
coming back, much at his leisure.

Harry—

So you ar’n’t gone to the bottom,
I see. I was frightened for you, I assure you.

George—

So it seems, indeed. You were
frightened, and so you ran away.

Harry—

Ran away! No, I went to call
help.

George—

You had better have helped me
yourself, if you thought I needed it, such a
fine bold fellow as you are.

Harry—

Where would have been the use of
that? two of us could have done no good,
so I thought to have called for some men to
come and assist the little child.

Mrs. Talbot—

But if George had been
equally prudent, and had taken so much care
of himself, it would have been too late, and
probably at least the little girl would have
been drowned.

Harry—

And if it had, who could have
helped it: those people should take more care
of their children. I wonder if they expect
Gentlemen to be hazarding their lives for such
brats as that.

D D1v 26

Mrs. Talbot—

Do you think, Mr. Scamperville,
you should have been more alert, if the
child of a person whom you consider as being
of fashion had met with the same disaster.

Harry—

Oh! that is not likely, you know:
but these common people should be punished,
I think, for annoying one with such things.

Mrs. Talbot—

You have notions admirably
calculated for the promotion of your own ease,
but not quite such as will recommend you
much to the affection of others.

George—

Did you never hear of doing as
you would be done by: suppose you had fallen
into the water, and this child’s brother or
father had saved you from drowning?

Harry—

Well: they would have been handsomely
paid, and it would have been a good
job for them.

Mrs. Talbot—

But let us suppose for a
moment, that instead of being the only son of
Sir Harry Scamperville, you had been the son
of John Needwood the labourer; would it
therefore have been well in those who might
witness the accident to leave you to be drowned?
and is not the life of a prince or a peasant
equal in the estimation of God, who created D2r 27
both with the same feelings and wants, and are
human creatures only to be considered as such
when they happen to be rich?

Harry—

Yes, Ma’am: I dare say they are:
but really I never desire, when I come out just
to visit a friend, to be bored with such sort of
things: I wish you a good evening: I shall
not like to give up my rowing plan down the
river. I dare say Germain is waiting for me
by this time. George, have you a mind for a
little dash?

George—

Thank you: but I have not the
least wish for it.

Harry—

Well! good bye to you then.

George—

Farewell.

Mrs. Talbot—

There he goes, the echo of
insolent wealth and unfeeling prosperity: totally
without any sense of what he owes to
others, and occupied only in gratifying himself.

George—

I am sure I shall not seek him
again; and I heartily hope he will not seek me.

Mrs. Talbot—

But as we walk, which in
your wet clothes must not be slowly, tell me
how it happened.

D2v 28

George—

Scamperville was boasting about
his courage in hunting, and describing how he
would fearlessly ford the river on his fine mare,
Miss Something as he called her, when Needwood’s
son came running up, and said his little
sister had fallen into the water. I ran to the
place, and Mr. Scamperville, after desiring me
not to go, went away as fast as he could to get
more help.

Mrs. Talbot—

And was the water deep?

George—

No, indeed, mother, the hazard
was nothing: the little child was so near the
edge, that I had not occasion to swim above
two strokes, and I easily brought her out.

Mrs. Talbot—

I will confess, George,
my pleasure is great on this occasion, though
chastened by the remains of the fears I felt.
You are now sensible of the advantage of
having been educated hitherto, in some measure,
in the manner directed by the admirable
author of Les Etudes de la Nature. “J’entremêlerois
ces speculations touchantes d’exercise
agréable, et convenable à la fougue de
leur âge. Je leur ferois apprendre à nager,
non pas seulement pour les apprendre de se D3r 29
tirer eux même du peril; mais, pour porter
du secours à ceux qui peuvent se trouver en
danger.”

“Translation.
I would interpose with these interesting
speculations, exercise suitable to the vivacity
natural at that period of life: I would have
them taught to swim, not only that they
may be enabled to extricate themselves from
danger, but that they may succour others
whose peril may call upon their humanity.”

I congratulate myself that you can distinguish
between that useless headlong rashness,
which often hurries a young person into danger
in a fit of boasting, and that real courage,
which does not shrink from any peril which
duty to a fellow creature calls upon him to
brave; and if the danger in this instance had
been greater, if I had even been deprived of
you in consequence of your humanity, I should,
with whatever anguish in my heart, have felt
like the illustrious Ormond, who, when he lost
the support and consolation of his age, declared
that he “would not exchange his dead
son, for any living son in Christendom.”

D2 D3v 30

But now we are arrived, go change your
clothes: I shall say nothing to Emily this
evening of what has happened, as she was not
with me when that stout-hearted Scamperville
came staring up to me, and knew nothing of
the matter. My spirits want to be quieted,
and I would avoid her questions at present.

Emily—

Dear Mamma, where have you
been? When I returned with the piece of
matting you sent me for to tie up the convolvulus,
I could not find you, and I have been
seeking you ever since.

Mrs. Talbot—

Well, now I am found; but
I am rather fatigued, so come and read to me.

Emily—

Shall I read the history of the bee,
which we were going to begin yesterday?

Mrs. Talbot—

Only the abridgement, introductory
to the little poem; we shall have time
for no more.

Emily—

Apis mellifica, the common honey
bee, is an insect of important use to mankind.
A hive contains from 16,000 to 20,000 bees,
of which one only is a female; of the rest, some
are drones, but the greater part of them working
bees. On which last, the care of the young
depend, as well as the making of honey, D4r 31
which they collect from almost every flower,
while by a different process, they form the
wax of the pollen of flowers, and build their hexagon
cells so regularly and neatly, that human
art cannot imitate them. The eggs of the
queen, or the only female bee, are laid in these,
and each is then filled with honey: they have
the art of extracting the nectar from almost all
plants, even those which to us appear to have
but little odour. The blossoms of the heath, 31.—Heath, Erica—there are five British species.
of thyme, of rosemary, and those of fruit trees,
and aromatic herbs, are particularly grateful
to them.

Mrs. Talbot—

It was on the thyme in the
kitchen garden, you remarked, I remember,
my Emily, when you were a very little girl,
that the bees were honeying.

Emily—

I always liked to watch them at
their work, it seemed so clever in such little
creatures to build those regular cells and fill
them with sweet juice.

Mrs. Talbot—

And you recollect my explanation
of the expression I use in the verses,
alchemy.

Emily—

Yes, you told me alchemy was a
process of chemistry, by which it was long D4v 32
believed inferior metals, such as copper or
iron, might be converted or transmuted into
gold; and that you applied it in a figurative
sense, to describe the change made by the
bees, of other substances, into honey.

Mrs. Talbot—

There are many other sorts
of bees, you know; and there are other insects,
such as wasps 32.—Wasp, Vespa vulgaris. and hornets, —Hornet, Vespa crabro. that resemble
them in living in societies, making very
ingeniously the nests where they raise their
young; but in elegance of taste, and delicacy
of manners, these are very inferior. They
live on fruit, meat, and even on other insects.
The author, who writes under the name of
Hector St. John, an American farmer, relates
that in America, it is very common to suspend
an hornet’s nest in the middle of the
ceiling of a room where the family live, that
these insects may relieve them from the great
number of flies with which the houses are infested,
and that it is usual for the hornets to
settle on the faces of children, with no other
intention than to carry away the flies; while
the children accustomed to them express no
fear, and never are stung. These hornets, and
their near relations, the wasps, are great enemies D5r 33
of the bees, not only by stealing their
honey, but because they kill the industrious
labourers themselves. In the vast woods of
America there are wild bees that make great
quantities of honey in the hollows of trees,
and the settlers and Indians are guided to
these treasures by a bird, who knows where
they are deposited. There are many other
particulars, which at some future time we
will collect. At present our business is with
the honey-bee of our own country.

“Invitation to the Bee. Child of patient industry, Little active busy bee, Thou art out at early morn, Just as the opening flowers are born; Among the green and grassy meads Where the cowslips hang their heads; Or by hedge-rows, while the dew Glitters on the harebell 33.—Hare-bell, Hyacinthus non scriptus. blue.— Then on eager wing art flown, To thymy hillocks on the down; Or to revel on the broom; —Broom,
Spartium scoparium.
Or suck the clover’ —Clover, Trifolium pratense. s crimson bloom; Murmuring still thou busy bee Thy little ode to industry!
D5v 34 Go while summer suns are bright, Take at large thy wandering flight; Go and load thy tiny feet With every rich and various sweet, Cling around the flow’ring thorn, —Hawthorn, Crategus
oxyacantha
.
Dive in the woodbine’
Woodbine, Lonciera periclymenum.
s honied horn,
Seek the wild rose —Wild Rose, Rosa canina. that shades the dell, Explore the foxglove’ —Fox-glove,
Digitalis purpurea.
s freckled bell,
Or in the heath flower’s fairy cup Drink the fragrant spirit up.
But when the meadows shall be mown, And summer’s garlands overblown; Then come, thou little busy bee, And let thy homestead be with me, There, shelter’d by thy straw-built hive, In my garden thou shalt live, And that garden shall supply Thy delicious alchemy; There for thee, in autumn, blows The Indian pink —Indian Pink, Dianthus chinensis. and latest rose, The mignionette perfumes the air, And stocks, unfading flowers, are there. Yet fear not when the tempests come, And drive thee to thy waxen home, That I shall then most treacherously For thy honey murder thee. Ah, no!—throughout the winter drear I’ll feed thee, that another year Thou may’st renew thy industry Among the flowers, thou little busy bee.”

D6r

Conversation The Second.

D6v E1r

Conversation The Second.

Mrs. TalbotGeorgeEmily.

Mrs. Talbot

Whence do you come, my
dear George?

George—

After I had been, as you desired
me, to enquire after the poor little girl, who
is as well as if nothing had happened, I went
to see Farmer Warwood’s men reaping the
rye. I tried if I could cut some down myself,
but I was so awkward, that the men were
afraid I should cut myself, and desired me
not to attempt it. Afterwards in crossing
from the meadows towards the home field,
just in the middle of the path, I saw something
brown, travelling slowly along; upon
approaching it quickly, it rolled itself up in a
moment. It was this hedge-hog: and that it
might not share the fate of that which I tried
in vain to rescue from the village boys a little Vol. 1. E E1v 38
time ago, I put it into my handkerchief, and
brought it home, meaning to let it go in the
copse.

Mrs. Talbot—

Do so then, and unpromising
as it appears for a subject of poetry, we will
try if something cannot be made of it, to increase
our collection of animals, as subjects of
natural history in verse. “The Hedge-Hog 38.—Hedge-hog, Erinaceus Europæus. Seen in a Frequented
Path.
Wherefore should man or thoughtless boyThy quiet, harmless life destroy,Innoxious urchin?—for thy foodIs but the beetle and the fly,And all thy harmless luxuryThe swarming insects of the wood.Should man, to whom his God has givenReason, the brightest ray of heaven,Delight to hurt, in senseless mirth,Inferior animals?—and dareTo use his power in waging warAgainst his brethren of the earth?Poor creature! to the woods resort,Lest lingering here, inhuman sportShould render vain thy thorny case;And whelming water, deep and cold,Make thee thy spiny ball unfold,And shew thy simple negro face!E2r39Fly from the cruel! know than theyLess fierce are ravenous beasts of prey,And should perchance these last come near thee;And fox or martin cat assail,Thou, safe within thy coat of mail,May cry—Ah! noli me tangere.”

Mrs. Talbot—

Well, you have liberated your
captive, and here is my address to him.

George—

I beg your pardon, my dear mother,
but you know that last verse is not quite right,
for the word is pronounced tangere, and not
tangere.

Mrs. Talbot—

Your remark is perfectly
just, my son; and you see, that read properly,
there is a false quantity in the line. But such
licences are now very frequently taken in
short and trifling pieces like this. So we will
relax in the severity of our criticism, and return
to the history of the urchin, or hedgehog.
This inoffensive animal is among those
to which superstition once affixed malignant
qualities. The witches in Macbeth name its
cry among those of evil omen. “Thrice the brinded cat hath mew’d;Twice and once the hedge-pig whined.”

And you know Caliban complains of it as E2v 40
one of the creatures that his master, Prospero,
sent to torment him. “For every trifle they are set upon me—Sometimes like apes that moe and chatter at me,And after bite me; then like hedge-hogs, whichLie tumbling in my bare-foot path—”

And the vulgar still believe, that hedge-hogs
are unlucky, and even more actively mischievous:
for, that they eat the roots of the
corn; suck the cows, causing their udders to
ulcerate; and many other misdemeanors are
laid to the charge of this little ugly beast; who,
being guilty of none of them, lives in remote
hedge-rows, copses, and the bottoms of dry
ditches, under leaves and fern, and feeds on
beetles, worms, and flies. Sometimes with its
snout, it digs up the roots of the plantain
among the grass, and makes them a part of
its food. And now, my Emily, we will have
this copied into our little book. It will serve
for your writing-lesson to-morrow.

George—

Mother, I wanted to tell you, that
yesterday I was reading the history of moths
and butterflies; I knew it indeed before, and
so did Emily, but I was not aware of the immense
variety there are, especially of moths.

E3r 41

Emily—

Those eggs, brother, on a leaf,
which you bade me put into a box, are
not yet hatched. It will be so long before
they become butterflies, that I shall not have
patience to watch them.

George—

If my mother does not dislike it,
I will search for some of these insects in a more
advanced state; that is, when they are become
chrysaliss’s, which is their intermediate form
between the caterpillar and the butterfly.
My book says they are to be found at all
times of the year.

Mrs. Talbot—

And a very likely place is
the old room at the end of the green-house;
I have hardly ever failed to meet with several
sorts there; and as early as last March, I
found one of the most beautiful and delicate
of English butterflies. Probably the next night’s
frost killed it, for on the following day I could
not find it, and if it had got out, it would have
found no flowers to feed on, for the weather
afterwards became very severe. However, there
is a yellow butterfly, with dark iron coloured
spots, and pointed wings, which is frequently
seen abroad before the common cabbage-fly,
so usual and so destructive in gardens, is hardy E2 E3v 42
enough to venture. When I was very young,
I was very fond of catching butterflies, to
paint from nature, but I was soon disgusted
with the attempt to kill them. It appeared
so cruel, to impale an insect on a pin, and let
it flutter for hours, and even days in misery,
that I could never bear to do it. I was afterwards
shewn how to kill them immediately,
by pouring a drop of æther on their heads;
but I thought I had no right to deprive one
of these beautiful creatures of their short existence,
which in some sorts lasts only a day.
And therefore I contented myself with copying
from flies in collections already made.
There are some of these insects in the East
and West Indies
, of a very large size and the
most dazzling beauty.

George—

But, mother, though you did not
like to destroy the butterflies you speak of,
you might have found them good subjects
for our poetry.

Mrs. Talbot—

It is difficult, George, to say
any thing that is not mere common place on
so obvious and hackneyed a subject; but open
the drawer in my chiffonier, and take out my
book; I have just recollected a few stanzas to E4r 43
the butterfly, called Rhamni, which makes its
appearance early in March. “The Early Butterfly.Trusting the first warm day of spring,When transient sunshine warms the sky,Light on his yellow spotted wingComes forth the early butterfly.With wavering flight, he settles nowWhere pilewort 43.—Pilewort, Ranunculus ficaria. spreads its blossoms fair,Or on the grass where daisies —Daisy, Bellis
perennis
.
blow,
Pausing, he rests his pinions there.
But insect! in a luckless hourThou from thy winter home hast come,For yet is seen no luscious flowerWith odour rich and honied bloom.And these that to the early dayYet timidly their bells unfold,Close with the sun’s retreating ray,And shut their humid eyes of gold.For night’s dark shades then gather round,And night-winds whistle cold and keen,And hoary frost will crisp the ground,And blight the leaves of budding green!And thou, poor fly! so soft and frail,May’st perish e’er returning morn,Nor ever, on the summer gale,To taste of summer sweets be borne!E4v44Thus unexperienc’d rashness will presumeOn the fair promise of life’s opening day,Nor dreams how soon the adverse storms may come‘That hush’d in grim repose, expect their ev’ningprey.’”

That last line, you know, is from Gray,
that admirable poet, who speaks of insect-life
so beautifully in his Ode to Spring. “The insect youth are on the wing,Eager to taste the honied spring,And float amid the liquid noon.Some lightly o’er the current skim,Some shew their gaily gilded trim,Quick glancing to the sun.”

The moth, however, or phalena, which the
French call papillione du soir, or night butterflies,
are by no means fond of shewing their
varied plumage to the sun; while the butterfly,
as soon as he quits the armour with which
nature has provided him, dries his moist and
newly unfolded wings in the rays of noon, and
encouraged by the warmth, launches into the
air; the moth, though his case, or skin, may
at the same time burst, yet never thinks of
venturing from the leaf or piece of wood to
which he is attached, till the sun is set; then E5r 45
you may see millions of moths of different
sorts flitting about and feeding on flowers.

Emily—

But, Mamma, about a week ago,
while the weather was so very hot, I went up
stairs into your book-closet with a wax taper;
the window was open, and I put the candle
down on your table under it, when in an instant
there were I don’t know how many
moths round it, and one so large flew against
it that it was put out; which was fortunate
enough for the rest, at least for a little time,
since they seemed determined to be burnt to
death. However, as I wanted a book which I
could not find in the dark, I rang for another
candle, and in an instant the foolish insects
were trying which could singe itself first. I
remember thinking then, that they were like
silly people who will not take advice, for many
of them, even after they were singed, flew
back into the candle.

Mrs. Talbot—

The comparison is obvious,
my dear little girl, yet it is not every little girl
who would have made it. The obstinacy
with which the moth perseveres in fluttering
around the flame that inevitably destroys it,
has been the subject of many comparisons. E5v 46
Like verses on the butterfly, any attempt on
the subject of the moth may perhaps be trite;
but, as George has finished, I see, what he was
about, he will be my scribe while I dictate. “The Moth.When dews fall fast, and rosy dayFades slowly in the west away,While evening breezes bend the future sheaves;Votary of vesper’s humid light,The moth, pale wanderer of the night,From his green cradle comes amid the whispering
leaves.
The birds on insect life that feastNow in their woody coverts rest,The swallow 46.—Swallow, Hirundo rustica. slumbers in his dome of clay,And of the numerous tribes who warOn the small denizens of air,The shrieking bat —Bat, Vespertilis
murinus
.
alone is on the wing for prey.
Eluding him, on lacey plume,The silver moth enjoys the gloom,Glancing on tremulous wing thro’ twilight bower,Now flits where warm nasturtiums Page 46.—Nastursium, Trapœolum majus.—This is
one of the flowers which is said to have a sort of glory, or
light halo of fire apparently surrounding it, of an evening
in dry weather—a phenomenon first observed by one of the
daughters of Linnæus. I once thought I saw it in the
Summer of 18021802.
glow,
Now quivers on the jasmine bough,And sucks with spiral tongue the balm of sleeping flowers.
Yet if from open casement streamsThe taper’s bright aspiring beam,E6r47And strikes with comet ray his dazzled sight;Nor perfum’d leaf, nor honied flower,To check his wild career have power,But to the attracting flame he takes his rapid flight.Round it he darts in dizzy rings,And soon his soft and powder’d wingsAre singed; and dimmer grow his pearly eyes,And now his struggling feet are foil’d,And scorch’d, entangled, burnt, and soil’d,His fragile form is lost—the wretched insect dies!Emblem too just of one, whose wayThro’ the calm vale of life might lay;Yet lured by vanity’s illusive firesFar from that tranquil vale aside,Like this poor insect suicideFollows the fatal light, and in its flame expires.”

Mrs. Talbot—

Well! that being completed,
let us prepare for our walk. It is a lovely
evening after the slight rain, and every blade
of grass and leaf will give us their delightful
odours. I remember too, my Emily, that you
were desirous of finding another glow-worm,
since the turkeys or guinea-fowl certainly devoured
those you so carefully placed on the
lawn the other night; and these shining creatures
will not appear above a week or ten
days longer. Come, George, will you not accompany
us?

E6v 48

George—

As soon, Mother, as I have written
out the Moth fair in my book; I have already
finished Emily’s.

Mrs. Talbot—

Hasten then, dear boy, and
we will go down the green lane which leads to
the woodlands. It was there that Emily and
I found several glow-worms a few nights ago;
and as we brought them home on the leaves and
blades of grass, Emily would hardly be persuaded
that they were by day-light very ugly
insects, without either lustre or beauty of shape.

Emily—

Indeed, Mamma, the sonnet you
taught me was quite discouraging. Here,
however, is a glow-worm, and here comes my
dear George to help me collect two or three
to take home.

George—

I don’t remember the sonnet,
Emily: what is it?

Emily[Speaker label not present in original source]

“The Glow-Worm. If on some balmy breathing night of Spring The happy child, to whom the world is new, Pursues the evening moth of mealy wing, Or from the heath-flower beats the sparkling dew, He sees, before his inexperienc’d eyes, The brilliant glow-worm like a meteor shine On the turf bank; amaz’d and pleas’d he cries, ‘Star of the dewy grass, I make thee mine!’ F1r 49 Then, e’er he sleeps, collects the moisten’d flower, And bids soft leaves his glittering prize enfold, And dreams that fairy lamps illume his bower, Yet with the morning shudders to behold His lucid treasure, rayless as the dust. So turns the world’s bright joys to cold and blank disgust.”

Emily—

I will not look at these insects by
day-light, for if I do I shall never admire them
any more, or fancy them the fairies’ illuminations.

Mrs. Talbot—

Thus it is but too often, my
dear girl, in matters of more importance than
our disquisition on insect beauty. We are
frequently determined to see only the bright
and glittering part of any object of our immediate
pursuit, and will not believe, nor see even
when it is evident the object as it really is.

It is not only the glow-worm that will not
bear inspection when its lustre is lost by the
light of day; but all those luminous insects
that bear the same phosphoric fire about them;
such as the lanthorn fly of the West-Indies,
and of China, of which there are several sorts;
some of which carry their light in a sort of
snout, so that when you see them in a collection
they are remarkably ugly.

There is also an insect of this luminous sort F F1v 50
common in Italy, called the lucciola. An intelligent
traveller relates, that some Moorish
ladies having been made prisoners by the Genoese,
lived in an house near Genoa till they
could be exchanged; and on seeing some of
the lucciola, or flying glow-worms, darting
about in the evening in the garden near them,
they caused the windows to be shut in great
alarm, from a strange idea which seized them,
that these shining flies were the souls of their
deceased relations.

George—

But what could possibly put such
an absurd notion into their heads?

Mrs. Talbot—

It is not possible to say, unless
more was known of the popular superstition
of their country. But chimeras equally
wild and absurd have often been entertained
by persons, who have the advantage of living
in countries where knowledge is more universally
diffused. Some particular noises, though
they can easily be accounted for, have appalled
persons of reason and courage; and as you remember
I told you, when were talking of
the hedge-hog, that some animals and birds
are thought by the illiterate country people to
be unlucky and to betoken misfortune. I F2r 51
actually knew a woman of sense, who was
much discomposed if in beginning a journey
or a walk she happened to meet three magpies.

Emily—

Indeed, Mamma, she must have
been very silly, for if any harm was going to
happen to her, the magpies could certainly
know nothing of the matter.

Mrs. Talbot—

Assuredly not. It is not by
such means that a foreknowledge of events
would be communicated. I knew another
poor woman, who lost half her time in waiting
for “lucky” days, and made it a rule never
to begin any work, write a letter on business,
or set out on a journey on a Friday:
so her business was never done, and her fortune
suffered accordingly. It would have been
much wiser for her to have considered, that
every day is lucky in which we possess strength
of mind and body to do our duty, in whatever
line of life we are placed; and that persons
who trifle away their time in waiting for fortunate
days, will probably be unfortunate in
proportion as they are idle and foolish.

George—

But, Mother, I want to hear more
of these lanthorn or fire flies.

Mrs. Talbot—

I have no books at hand, F2v 52
George, that enable me to give you correct
information on this subject; but I will write
to a friend, who has a great collection of natural
history, to send me such books as may
help you in you enquiry: perhaps we may
inform ourselves on this subject.

George—

I was reading in some voyage
that the sea is sometimes all bright with light,
something like that of the glow-worm, and
that it was supposed to be occasioned by sea
insects.

Mrs. Talbot—

Many different opinions
have arisen as to that appearance. Some have
thought the light owing, as you say, to sea insects,
and others to a degree of putridity;
because whiting, and some other fish which
are in a state of decay, shine if taken into a
dark room. But there may be other causes.
It has happened in particular states of the air
at sea, that phosphoric lights have been seen
on the rigging and masts of ships; and on the
land such phenomena are not very unfrequent.
A gentleman and his servants were once riding
up one of the high Sussex downs in a gloomy
or rather stormy evening in Autumn, and on
a sudden the servant, who followed his master, F3r 53
cried out in extreme terror that his horse’s
ears and mane were on fire. The master, a
man of great coolness, replied as he jogged
on, “Don’t hbe frightened, Thomas, for my
horse’s ears and mane are on fire too.”
And
in fact the fire continued wavering about for
some time, and was probably of the same nature
as those wandering fires which are called
igneus fatuus; and seem to have been always
known under the names of Will-with-the
wisp, Jacko’-lanthorn, or the friar’s-lanthorn.
Though Dr. Darwin says, he has travelled in
all countries, and at all hours of the night,
and at all seasons of the year, yet never happened
to see any of these exhalations. But it
is time to go to our early dinner, that we may
prepare for our walk in the afternoon.

Afternoon. Mrs. TalbotGeorgeEmily. A Conservatory and Garden.

Mrs. Talbot

There are few sights, my
children, that afford me so much pleasure as F2 F3v 54
a collection of plants, where the produce of
every quarter of the world is assembled. In
the stove the natives of the torrid zone; in the
conservatory the inhabitants of milder regions,
which are yet too tender to bear the winter in
this country. There, planted in a swampy
soil, brought from heaths and moors, are the
beautiful productions of North America; in
another spot of compost earth are Alpine
plants; and on that artificial rock those that
flourish on dry and stony places, where little
else will vegetate. Can any thing exceed in
loveliness those orange trees, bearing at once
the most fragrant flowers, and fruit in every
stage, from the first falling of the blossom to
the golden orange in its utmost perfection?
These myrtles too, aspiring like cypresses to
the top of the conservatory, are delightful.

George—

And that beautiful tree which
seems to bear white lilies, what is it?

Mrs. Talbot—

The datura arborea, or tree
thorn-apple, which is a native of Mexico and
Peru, and is of the same genus as the common
thorn-apple, a plant frequently found in lanes,
and among rubbish by the sides of roads, and
which is of so poisonous a nature, that village F4r 55
children have sometimes been destroyed by
eating the fruit it bears.

Emily—

Oh, Mamma! how I should like
to have such a place as this to walk in! when
abroad it is cold, and wet, and comfortless,
when there are no leaves on the trees, no
flowers in the fields.

Mrs. Talbot—

Yet it so happens, that many
of those who have these enviable luxuries
have no taste for them; and having once
built and stored them with plants, hardly
enter them again.

George—

Then, what is the use of their
having spent so much money?

Mrs. Talbot—

Very frequently, because it is
the fashion to have, or to affect a taste for
plants; just as it is to do many other things,
which perhaps those who appear the most
eager had much rather let alone, if they were
not governed by fashion. The pleasure afforded,
however, by these, the loveliest of
nature’s productions, is in some degree common
to almost all the human race; and the
humblest inhabitant of a garret has a few
springs of mint or angelica, faintly attempting
to vegetate in his wretched abode in some F4v 56
narrow alley, where it is hardly possible to
breathe; while the very fine lady, when she
gives a splendid fete in town, goes to an immense
expence to ornament her rooms in the
middle of winter with lilacs, syringas, and
roses; and winds her festoons of coloured
lamps round orange trees and laurels.

George—

I have been in the stove, Mother,
but I could not remain there long, it is so
extremely hot and sultry. The gardener has
shewn me coffee, cocoa, 56.—Cocoa, Theobroma cacao. and the bread fruit —Bread fruit, Artocarpus
incisa
.

tree; the sugar cane, —Sugar cane, Saccharum officinarum. indigo, —Indigo,
Indigofera—many species.
and ginger. —Ginger, Amomum
zingiber
.

Will you not go for a moment?

Mrs. Talbot—

Yes, and I am very glad you
have seen these plants, as they give you a
much clearer idea of those productions thus
growing, than can be conveyed by any description.

George—

Was it not the bread fruit which
the Indian from the South Sea islands was so
affected by, when he saw it in the King’s
Garden
at Paris, because it brought to his
memory his dear native country?

Mrs. Talbot—

I am not sure; nor do I
now recollect whether the Abbé de Lille, who
has so happily introduced the circumstance F5r 57
into his Poem des Jardins, has told us what
tree it was. We must not forget to look for
the passage when we return home.

Emily—

Mamma, I touched a very light
pretty plant that is like an acacia, only much
smaller and with finer leaves, and instantly it
withered away.

George—

I could have told you what that
is; it is the sensitive plant: 57.—Sensitive plant, Mimosa—many species. I saw them, you know, Mamma, at a nursery gardener’s.

Mrs. Talbot—

And perhaps you may remember
that I then told you, it is called the
emblem of excessive sensibility; and a great
many fine things have been said of persons
whose delicate nerves make them resemble
this plant; of which, however, there are several
sorts, some with more and others with
less of this extraordinary quality; while the
more robust of the genera do not possess it at
all. There is one sort which bears no flower
in this country, and is of so very frail a texture,
that the approach of an insect, or the
breathings of the air, cause its leaves immediately
to fall, and fold over each other. Your
aunt compared this singular species of the
mimosa, to persons who yield to an excess of F5v 58
sensibility, or what is termed so; which arises
much oftener than is generally imagined, from
their having too much feeling for themselves,
and too little for others. While we sit in this
recess, and recover ourselves from the faintness
occasioned by the heat of the stove, I
will endeavour to recollect and repeat the
lines she addressed to “The Mimosa.Softly blow the western breezes,Sweetly shines the evening sun;But you, mimosa! nothing pleases,You, what delights your comrades teizes,What they enjoy you try to shun.Alike annoy’d by heat or cold,Ever too little or too much,As if by heaviest winds controul’d,Your leaves before a zephyr fold,And tremble at the slightest touch.Flutt’ring around, in playful rings,A gilded fly your beauty greeted;But, from his light and filmy wings,As if he had lanced a thousand stings,Your shuddering folioles retreated!Those feathery leaves are like the plume,Pluck’d from the bird of Indian skies; 58.—Bird of Indian Skies, Paradisea apoda. But should you therefore thus presume,While others boast a fairer bloom,All that surrounds you to despise?F6r59The rose, whose blushing blossoms blow,Pride of the vegetal creation,The air and light disdains not so,And the fastidious pride you show,Is not reserve, but affectation.”

But it is time to return home, and we will
walk through the lanes, though it is a little
farther than over the fields. At every period
of the year, I am delighted with the scents in
forest walks and copses; and at this season of
ripened summer they are particularly delicious.
Nor are such scenes as those we are
now entering upon entirely divested of pleasure
in winter, though then they are wholly
silent; or the silence is broken only by the
cawing here and there of a solitary rook; 59.—Rook, Corvus frugilegus. an
hare —Hare, Lepus timidus.
sometimes limps fearfully across the path,
or a pheasant —Pheasant, Phasianus colchicus. shakes the frozen snow from the
trees, as he flies up among the branches. The
other animals of the woods are then torpid, at
least partly so.

George—

What animals?

Mrs. Talbot—

The squirrel —Squirrel, Sciurus
vulgaris
.
and the dormouse.
—Dormouse, Myoxus muscardinus.
The squirrel indeed does not altogether
confine himself to the nest he has built,
and the stores he has laid up; but the dormouse, F6v 60
like a larger creature of the same
species, the marmot, —Marmot,
Arctomis marmota.
an inhabitant of the
Alps, becomes torpid in cold weather, and
rolling himself into a ball which has hardly
any appearance of life, he remains snug within
his nest, till the first warm day calls him out
to nibble a little of his winter store; but the
chill winds of evening again congeal his blood,
and he sleeps soundly. This little creature is
not classed with the common rat 60.—Rat, Mus decumanus—brown rat. or mouse, —Mouse, Mus
musculus
.

but with the marmot, squirrel, and hare. Of
these the marmot inhabits the highest Alps,
where trees will not grow, and forms little
societies of fourteen or twenty, feeding on
roots, grass, and such plants as grow on those
bleak summits. They make burrows, something
like those of rabbits, and line them very
industriously with moss and dried grass.
They go into these retreats as soon as the
first frosts set in, and sleep with great perseverance
till March. They are easily tamed;
but are in winter so much disposed to sleep,
that even in a warm room they are hardly
kept awake. So much for the marmot; and
when I tell you, that the first rhymes I ever
made were on the loss of a favourite dormouse, G1r 61
killed by an accident, which I then, at about
six years old, really thought the greatest calamity
that ever was endured by an unhappy
little girl, you will easily comprehend how it
happens, that I am even now rather partial to
that small animal, which certainly is not half
so lively and entertaining as many others, that
are usually kept by children for their amusement.

Emily—

Mamma, you never showed us
those verses; I should be so pleased to read
them.

George—

Do, Mother, let us hear them,
they must be quite curiosities.

Mrs. Talbot—

My dear children, I have
forgotten them many years ago; nor have I
the least notion whether they were more or
less foolish than such an infant might be
supposed to make; but to make you ample
amends, and add a little sleeper, as the
country people call it, to your collection of
minor poetry, it has just occurred to me,
that I have some quatrains on the imprisonment
of a dormouse, written some years ago
by your aunt, which, as soon as we have
rested a little after our long walk, I will try to G G1v 62
find in a book, where several of our poetical
attempts in former days are inserted — —
— — — — — — —
— — — I have fortunately found it;
and perhaps there are other verses in it that
may amuse you. In a short time, your
brother and sister, returning from their long
visit, will open to us new sources of enjoyment.
Here, George, with good emphasis
and discretion, read this Address to a Mouse,
taken in its insensible state, and presented to
a little girl
.

George[Speaker label not present in original source]

“The Dormouse Just Taken. Sleep on, sleep on, poor captive mouse, Oh, sleep! unconscious of the fate That ruthless spoil’d thy cosey Cosey, a Scottish expression for snug. house, And tore thee from thy mate. What barbarous hand could thus molest A little innocent like thee, And drag thee from thy mossy nest To sad captivity? Ah! when suspended life again Thy torpid senses shall recall, Poor guiltless prisoner! what pain Thy bosom shall appal. G2r 63 When starting up in wild affright, Thy bright round eyes shall vainly seek Thy tiny spouse, with breast so white, Thy whisker’d brethren sleek; Thy snug warm nest with feathers lin’d, Thy winter store of roots and corn; Nor nuts nor beech-mast shalt thou find, The toil of many a morn. Thy soft white feet around thy cage Will cling; while thou in hopeless pain Wilt waste thy little life in rage, To find thy struggles vain! Yet since thou’rt fall’n in gentle hands, Oh! captive mouse, allay thy grief, For light shall be thy silken bands, And time afford relief. Warm is the lodging, soft the bed, Thy little mistress will prepare; By her kind hands thou shalt be fed, And dainties be thy fare. But neither men nor mice forget Their native home, where’er they be, And fondly thou wilt still regret Thy wild woods, loves, and liberty!”

G2v G3r

Conversation The Third.

G2 G3v G4r

Conversation The Third.

Mrs. TalbotGeorgeEmily.

Emily

Brother, my dear brother, here is
only pleasant news for us to-day: in the first
place, in Mamma’s book there are several
little poems which she had forgotten; and in
the next, my aunt writes to say that she will
be here in a fortnight, with Edward, Fanny,
and Ella; and then, after staying with us a
few days, we are all going together to the
sea-side for a month.

George—

Indeed that is pleasant news.
Mother, I do not think that either Edward
or I have any reason now to envy Mr. Scamperville.

Mrs. Talbot—

I trust, my dear boy, that
you never will have any.

George—

And yet, I assure you, he looks
upon me, and I dare say would on Edward G4v 68
if he was here, with the utmost contempt.
I met him this morning on horseback: he was
smarter than ever, with leather breeches, boots,
and a knowing coat, which he desired me to
admire, as well as his horse, which his father,
he said, had just purchased for him, that he
might sport a figure and cut a dash at the
famous races which begin this morning. He
had two servants with him, with whom he
had been betting, he said, on the horses that
were to run. He was so good as to pity me
extremely for not being able to go; and said,
if he had known it time enough, he would
have lent me his old poney.

Mrs. Talbot—

And could you, George,
hear all this without a wish to see this splendid
shew? Have buckskin breeches, fashionable
boots, and a knowing coat, no charms in
your imagination?

George—

Indeed, Mother, I have been and
am very happy without all these. I have
never been taught to number them among my
wants, and my not possessing them does not
give me any pain.

Mrs. Talbot—

What? not though you are
thought a quiz, and a coddle, and a humdrum G5r 69
fellow, by these bucks, Mr. Scamperville and
his friends.

George—

No, Mother; I must care more
about them than I now do, before I shall be
concerned at what they say of me; but if they
are impertinent to me, it will be another
affair.

Mrs. Talbot—

I trust you will always have
that proper degree of spirit, my George,
which you now possess; and since you do not
think fate has used you immeasurably ill;
though you find yourself, this sultry morning
of July, sitting with me and Emily, instead of
scampering with all sorts of people, who appear
half mad, to the races, amidst clouds of
dust, and confused noises, tell me what will
most amuse you, till we dine?—afterwards I
have a project to go and regale on wood strawberries
69.—Wood Strawberries, Fragaria vesea.
and cream at the dairy farm, on the
edge of the forest, or rather to take out our repast
and eat it under an old beech tree, and
fancy ourselves like the banished duke and his
followers, in George’s favourite play of As
you like it.

Emily—

It will be delightful indeed, my
dear Mamma! I shall only be sorry that Edward G5v 70
and Ella, and my cousin Fanny, cannot
be with us.

Mrs. Talbot—

When they come, we shall
contrive another party of the same sort, perhaps;
at present we must be as happy as we
can by ourselves, unless indeed you would like
to have the Miss Mincings, or Miss Brockly,
invited to go with us.

Emily—

O no, Mamma, indeed I had rather
not; the Miss Mincings are so prim, and
make such a fuss about their frocks and their
shoes, and their bonnets; and the maid that
waits upon them cries every moment, Miss
Maria
, you will spoil your new bonnet; Miss
Jane
, you will tear your best japan muslin;
that the poor girls have no peace, and dare
not play and amuse themselves. So as they are
taught to think these frocks and bonnets are
the things of the greatest consequence, they
are always telling me what this cost, and that
cost, and asking me if what I wear cost as
much; and indeed, Mamma, I am so tired
with them, that I am very glad when they
gone.

Mrs. Talbot—

But Miss Brockly—she is
willing enough to play, I am sure!

G6r 71

Emily—

And willing enough to eat. When
I go to see her, there is always such a quantity
of cakes and fruit, that I wonder those who
eat them are not sick, and if she comes here,
she is never satisfied, unless there is something
“nice”, as she calls it, to eat; and you know she
devoured all the preserved cherries, and every
thing that you ordered Margaret to let us
have, when she was here last.

Mrs. Talbot—

She is very piggishly brought
up, indeed; but to “live” well, as it is called, is
the taste of that family, and the child sees nothing
else, and hears of nothing else, than the
gluttonous delights of eating, from the hour
she rises till she goes to bed.

Emily—

Then you know, Mamma, there is
not much pleasure with these Miss Mincings.

Mrs. Talbot—

Not with Miss Brockly, to
be sure, Emily, when strawberries and cream
are in question.

Emily—

Oh, Mamma, you know very well,
it is not on that account, but I am happier
with only you and my brother; and as to
George, he don’t like any of those little girls
at all.

G6v 72

Mrs. Talbot—

But George is often too
severe in his judgment; I am afraid he will
become satirical and cynical as he grows older,
and that will not do, perhaps, for a boy who is
to make his way in the world.

Emily—

But, Mamma, you would have him
always speak the truth, would you not, and
never say to any one what he does not think?

Mrs. Talbot—

Certainly; a strict adherence
to truth is the basis of every other good quality,
and without it no virtue or goodness can
exist. But while the truth should be our first
principle, there is no occasion to tell people
with whom we have nothing to do, that we
contemn and despise them. George has such
good qualities, and is in some respects so much
superior to most other boys, that I sometimes
apprehend his very excellencies will produce
faults, and that the consciousness of uncommon
understanding will make him proud and
fastidious. But I cannot imagine where he is
gone to all this time.

Emily—

He is coming at this moment across
the garden.

Mrs. Talbot—

Why, George! you suddenly
disappeared; we were going to examine farther H1r 73
into the contents of this book, in which
your aunt and I have entered several little
poems that we either collected or wrote some
years ago, as well as others of later date.

George—

I would not have absented myself,
my dear Mother, but I went down to Master
Headham’s
, whom I met in the garden. He
came to ask the gardener for some herbs, to
make what the poor man told me was to be a
fermentation for his grandson’s leg.

Mrs. Talbot—

He means fomentation: but
what is the matter with it then?

George—

Two fine gentlemen, he says,
going to the races, desperate grand folks to be
sure, drove along so fast in their chai, with
two horses, that the poor lad, who was running
to open a gate for them, was knocked down,
and so hurt with the wheel, that at first he
thought his leg was broke; but the doctor,
who happened luckily enough to be visiting a
poor woman in the village, says it is only sadly
bruised, though the skin is torn off from his
knee to his foot; so I thought I would go
down to see the boy, who, poor fellow, is in
great pain, but he does not want for any thing
just now. The old man and woman are in Vol. 1. H H1v 74
sad trouble about him, for he was an industrious
boy, and just beginning to be an help
to them; but they say they should not have
minded the misfortune so much, as their
child’s leg is not broke, if these very “grand”
gentlemen, though they saw him fall, and
knew he was very much hurt, had not sworn
at him most terribly, struck at him with a
whip, and then drove away faster than ever.

Mrs. Talbot—

And does nobody know who
they are?

George—

They are strangers, I believe, on a
visit at Sir Harry’s. Their servants, who
came along afterwards, said they would have
served the little rascal right, if they had killed
him on the spot; for what business had he in
the way? But farmer Dewsberry, who saw
the whole business, declared, that the horses
were so violent, and unmanageable, that one
of them flew out of the road and knocked the
poor boy down, and it was impossible for him
to get out of the way before the wheel nearly
tore his leg off.

Mrs. Talbot—

And is it thus, that young
men, who aspire to be thought spirited and
fashionable, trifle with the lives of others, H2r 75
while they hazard their own? But what an
aggravation, thus to add cruelty to fool-hardiness!
Go, my dear, and send Margaret down
to the cottage of these poor old people, or perhaps
you would like to go yourself.

George—

Yes, I shall go quicker.

Mrs. Talbot—

Give them this piece of
money. Tell them they shall not be under
the necessity of applying to the parish to pay
the apothecary, as I dare say that is one of
their apprehensions; but we will take care of
that; and in my walk this evening I will call
upon them.

George—

Poor creatures! that will comfort
them—but indeed, Mother, I think some one
ought to apply to the men who did this mischief,
to make poor Jack some amends.

Mrs. Talbot—

If they do not break their
own necks before night, which is highly probable,
and which would not be half so great a
loss to society as that of one honest labourer,
who supports his children with difficulty by
the utmost exertion of his strength, they will
probably forget after a nine o’clock dinner,
and sitting up the rest of the night at the
gaming-table, that such an accident happened. H2v 76
Or if they could be brought to remember it,
they are much more likely to resent an application
to their justice and humanity, than to
listen to it. So we will do for poor Jack as
well as we can; and while you hasten to tell
him so, Emily and I will only read such of our
new found collection as you have before seen;
for some, I know, are familiar to you.

Emily —

Mamma, what is the reason, that
such men as these, that drove over the poor
boy, are so cruel and hard-hearted? Do they
think that poor people have not as much feeling
as they have?

Mrs. Talbot—

They never think about poor
people at all. They were probably brought up
with every luxury about them, and how others
fared they were never taught to consider. Self-
gratification is their governing principle, and
while they fly about from one place to another
in search of pleasure, the wants and woes of
the humble class of society, without whose
toil these flashing men could not exist, are
wholly overlooked. I do not mean however
to say, that is the case with all young men
of fortune; but I fear there are too many of
this unfeeling disposition, and that it is a disposition H3r 77
that is rather gaining ground. However,
since we can do but little, Emily, to
amend them, let us endeavour to correct our
own faults, and we shall seldom want employment,
if we candidly examine ourselves. And
now while George is gone to poor Jack, let us
read these two little poems on two favourite
early flowers. The first I wrote, as I now recollect,
when, after having been some time in
town, I went in Spring to pass a few days at a
place, where in my early years I had lived frequently
for two or three months at a time, with
some young people of nearly my own age.
We had made gardens of our own, as you and
your brothers and sisters do now, and planted
several flowers. After a long absence, I once
more revisited the spot; it had been converted
into a yard to dry the household linen; yet
among the grass with which our former parterres
was now covered, and notwithstanding the
frequent inroads of pattens and bucking baskets,
a few of our former favourites raised their heads
here and there among the posts and lines. The
yellow hellebore 77.—Yellow Hellebore, Helleborus hyemalis. and the snow-drop —Snow-
drop, Galanthus nivalis.
were the
most remarkable. The latter of these, you
know, is indigenous in this country, and often H2 H3v 78
grows spontaneously on the edges of fields and
in extensive orchards, whitening the ground
with its elegant drooping blossom. It is supposed
that the roots, if boiled and treated like
those of the orchis, —Orchis—many species. of which saloop is made,
would be equally nutritious; but at present
its greatest merit seems to be in its delicate
white petals, those within being elegantly
veined with green; and its early appearance, as
the advanced guard, if I may use a military
expression, of the loveliest productions of nature,
and as announcing, though yet at a distance,
the approach of the loveliest season of the year.

Two lines of Mrs. Barbauld’s on this flower
are so beautiful, that they cannot be too often
quoted— “As Flora’s breath, by some transforming power,Had chang’d an icicle into a flower.”
Now read the less happy verses at the third
page of my old book.

Emily[Speaker label not present in original source]

To The Snow-Drop.

Emily

Like pendant flakes of vegetating snow,

The early herald of the infant year,

E’er yet the adventurous Crocus 78.—Crocus, Crocus vernus. dares to blow

Beneath the orchard boughs, thy buds appear.

H4r 79

While still the cold north-east ungenial lowers,

And scarce the hazel —Hazle, Corylus avellana.
in the leafless copse

Or sallows —Sallows, Salix caprea. shew their downy powder’d flowers,

The grass is spangled with thy silver drops.

Yet when those pallid blossoms shall give place

To countless tribes of richer hue and scent,

Summer’s gay blooms, and Autumn’s yellow race,

I shall thy pale inodorous bells lament.

So journeying onward in life’s varying track,

Even while warm youth its bright illusion lends,

Fond Memory often with regret looks back

To childhood’s pleasures, and to infant friends.

Mrs. Talbot—

The next, which is also addressed
to a flower, is not altogether my own.
Indeed some of the lines are entirely taken
from a little poem, I believe written by Mr.
Gifford
, and I adapted them to my purpose,
which was for your sister to learn; but I left
the book in town, and forgot that some of these
were written in it, till George’s taste for rhyme,
and the facility with which you both learn
any thing written in measure, made me recollect
it was among the last papers and manuscripts
that were sent me from thence.

H4v 80

Emily[Speaker label not present in original source]

“Violets. 80.—Violet, Viola odorata. Emily Sweet Violets! from your humble beds Among the moss, beneath the thorn, You rear your unprotected heads, And brave the cold and cheerless morn Of early March; not yet are past The wintry cloud, the sullen blast, Which, when your fragrant buds shall blow, May lay those purple beauties low. Ah, stay awhile, till warmer showers And brighter suns shall cheer the day; Sweet Violets, stay, till hardier flowers Prepare to meet the lovely May. Then from your mossy shelter come, And rival every richer bloom; For though their colours gayer shine, Their odours do not equal thine. And thus real merit still may dare to vie, With all that wealth bestows, or pageant heraldry.”

Mrs. Talbot—

And here comes your brother
from his charitable mission.

George—

The boy is easier, Mother, and the
poor old people, comforted by your kindness,
have ceased to lament themselves. Some of the
neighbours have offered to drive up their cow,
and do such things as the old man used to be
assisted in by his grandson.

H5r 81

Mrs. Talbot—

How little do those who live in
luxury, whose every want is provided for, and
every wish prevented, know or comprehend of
the difficulties with which the poor patiently
contend, only to be enabled to live from day to
day. It is almost impossible for one who has
always lived in splendid houses, moved from
place to place in convenient carriages, and
been constantly pampered with delicacies, till
their appetites are even jaded, to put themselves
in the place of a fellow being, who rises
from his flock bed before the sun, to work all
day, and has nothing perhaps but bread for
himself and his children, and not always
enough of that. It is not possible for the
former of these men to conceive, of what importance
a shilling is to the latter; and how
happy the industrious poor man would think
himself, to receive in the course of an whole
year as much as is, in a single journey of whim,
expended by the idle rich one, who perhaps
yawns all the way, and when he arrives at the
place he has hurried to reach, wonders why he
came at all, and scampers back again. And
yet so little real happiness does this unmeaning
waste of money and time bring to those who H5v 82
practise it, that if the fact could be ascertained,
I am very sure the infirm labourer, Thomas
Hardham
, who is old and lame, and poor, and
who has lost his children, and met with a
great many misfortunes, is a much happier
being, than those unthinking and unfeeling
men who were the occasion of his present
misfortune.

George—

I wish though they could be persuaded
to make him some amends for it; and
I wish I was of an age to say to them that it is
only their duty.

Mrs. Talbot—

Your endeavours would be in
vain at any age, I believe. But since we have
now done all that our means allow to mitigate
a misfortune we could not prevent, let us return
to our beloved natural history. There we
meet with nothing to give us pain, but the
more we study it, the more we are taught the
truth of the observation so simply but justly
expressed by Goldsmith: “How much kinder
is God to his creatures than they are to each
other!”
Have you remarked nothing new,
George, in your walks these last days?

George—

Yes: I sat down on a dry bank
behind Hardham’s cottage garden, while I H6r 83
waited to hear what Mr. Grant, the Apothecary,
who called upon Jack the second time,
thought of him. And as I remained there, I
saw two of those large bees, which we call
humble bees, go into a small hole in the ground.
They seemed to unload themselves just as the
honey bees do; for one of them came out
again while I remained there, without that
yellow meally substance on his thighs which
I saw when he went in, and which I suppose
is the material with which the cells are made;
and therefore I thought these humble bees
might have in some hollow place in the bank,
a sort of hive or store, and that they were wise
to hide it from the robbery of man. Have
they any such contrivance?

Mrs. Talbot—

I think there are several sorts
of what we call humble bees—the apis terrestris
or earth bee, and the apis nemorum or
wood bee, and some others; but those two are,
I believe, the commonest sorts, and the first
is what you saw go into his subterraneous
house. As they appear as busy as the common
honey bee, and to collect the nectar and the
pollen of flowers in the same manner, it is
probable that their habits are nearly the same; H6v 84
yet I never recollect having heard that their
hoards of honey had been discovered in digging
into banks, or those places which they
are known to frequent. And it was on the
supposition that they were not equally provident
with their congeners, the honey bee, that,
as a lesson of industry and forecast, the verses
were composed which I am going to repeat.
They were written for a little girl, who had
expressed great curiosity on this subject. After
all, however, it is probable that my moral
is given at the expence of the humble bee’s
character, which is perhaps very unjustly defamed.

“The Humble Bee. Good morrow, gentle humble bee, You are abroad betimes, I see, And sportive fly from tree to tree, To take the air; And visit each gay flower that blows; While every bell and bud that glows, Quite from the daisy to the rose, Your visits share. Saluting now the pied carnation, 84.—Carnation, Dianthus caryophyllus. Now on the aster 84.—Aster chinensis. taking station, Murmuring your ardent admiration; Then off you frisk, I1r 85 Where poppies —Poppy, Papaver somniferum. hang their heavy heads, Or where the gorgeous sun-flower Sun-flower, Helianthus anorenus. spreads, For you her luscious golden beds, On her broad disk. To live on pleasure’s painted wing, To feed on all the sweets of Spring, Must be a mighty pleasant thing, If it would last. But you, no doubt, have wisely thought, These joys may be too dearly bought, And will not unprepar’d be caught When Summer’s past. For soon will fly the laughing hours, And this delightful waste of flowers Will shrink before the wintry showers And winds so keen. Alas! who then will lend you aid, If your dry cell be yet unmade, Nor store of wax and honey laid In magazine? Then, Lady Buzz, you will repent, That hours for useful labour meant Were so unprofitably spent, And idly lost. By cold and hunger keen oppress’d, Say, will your yellow velvet vest, Or the fair tippet on your breast, Shield you from frost? I I1v 86 Ah! haste your winter stock to save, That snug within your Christmas cave, When snow falls fast and tempests rave, You may remain. And the hard season braving there, On Spring’s warm gales you will repair, Elate thro’ chrystal fields of air, To bliss again.”

And now to dinner, and then we will set
out on our forest walk.

Second Part.

Mrs. TalbotGeorgeEmily. A Forest, and walk Home.

Mrs. Talbot

Now, after our repast, we will
ramble into the forest. There is no scene
more pleasing to me than these extensive
woods, and none that are less frequently enjoyed
in England.

George—

If he had not been recorded as a
robber, as well as an inhabitant of the woods,
I have often thought, Mother, that I should I2r 87
have liked to have lived with Robin Hood,
and his followers, in Sherwood Forest.

Mrs. Talbot—

And I remember, George,
when I was a girl, having an equal delight in
wandering about woods and copses, but particularly
among those beautiful beech woods,
that shade some of the South Downs, where
they descend to the weald. And as I grew
older, and became acquainted with the poets,
I delighted to imagine myself engaged with a
party of young friends, to act Milton’s Masque
of Comus
, in a great wood that was not far
from my then residence.

Emily—

But you never did so, Mamma?

Mrs. Talbot—

No; I should not have been
allowed to have undertaken a part in any
theatrical performance. It was merely one
of those visions in which I sometimes indulged
myself. At other times, I used to fancy I
could meet in those woods with some of the
Knights and Damsels that Spencer tells us of
in the Fairy Queen.

George—

Did you really believe then that
such persons existed?

Mrs. Talbot—

No; I certainly knew they
did not; yet a great deal of desultory reading, I2v 88
and a lively imagination, without having
any friend who knew how to direct either the
one or the other, made me in my early youth
extremely romantic; but though all these
fairy visions have long since disappeared, a
woody scene has still a thousand charms for
me; I love to frequent it in all seasons of the
year, and especially if it be of such an extent
as this where we now are.

George—

The forests in France and Germany
are much larger than ours.

Mrs. Talbot—

Beyond comparison. The
Forest of Orleans covered many leagues, and
is still very extensive, though not of its former
magnitude. There are other forests in France
of immense extent, though many, and especially
those that were appropriated to the
amusement of the King and Princes of the
blood and nobility, as hunting grounds, are
much lessened since the revolution. And as
the people of France use no other fuel than
wood, and very little care is taken to secure
a succession by carefully planting and preserving
trees, the fuel becomes every year
scarcer, and has long been at an extravagant
price in France, where the natives are prepossessed I3r 89
with a notion that coal is unwholesome.
The woods of Germany, many of
which are of oak, cover immense portions of
the country, and feed very great droves of
swine. But even these, and the pine forests
of Sweden, Russia, and Norway, are described
as being inferior in extent and magnificence
to the stupendous forests of America, which,
notwithstanding the considerable tracts that
have been cleared by the settlers from Europe,
still cover unmeasured extents of country, and
consist of trees, which in size, as well as beauty,
greatly exceed all we have any idea of in
England. You have seen, I think, a picture,
or at least a print of an African forest, where
the lion, 89.—Lion, Felis leo. the leopard, —Leopard, Felis leopardus.— and tyger, —Tiger, Felis tigris. prowl under
trees that seem to be loaded with tropical
fruits, but which I should think, with such
accompaniments, would afford little temptation.

George—

And there were snakes, I remember.

Mrs. Talbot—

Snakes of great size are
found both in Africa and America. In the
latter, you know, is the formidable rattle-
snake, —Rattle-snake, Coluber horridus.
whose bite is so fatal; but they do not I2 I3v 90
attack man, unless trod upon, or otherwise
provoked: when they move, the horny rings
in their tails, falling over each other, make a
kind of tinkling sound, which gives notice of
their approach; but the rattle-snake is, you
know, said to possess the power of fascination;
so that if a bird, a mouse, or squirrel, once
sees the creature fix its eyes upon it, the
wretched animal, perfectly conscious of the
fatal attraction, cannot escape, but, as if bewitched,
it is impelled to approach its enemy,
and it comes nearer and nearer, still uttering
cries of distress and terror, till the jaws of the
monster close upon it. It has sometimes
seemed to me, that there are people exactly in
the case of the animal thus fascinated by the
rattle-snake. How often does one see that a
fatal impulse, contrary to reason and common
sense, seems in despite of both to drag away
some unhappy person to their own destruction;
and though they are told, and really feel
themselves that they are plunging into ruin,
yet nothing can stop their headlong course till
that ruin overwhelms them.

George—

But is it true that the rattle-snake
has this power?

I4r 91

Mrs. Talbot—

It has been averred so repeatedly,
that notwithstanding travellers are a
little too apt to exceed or misrepresent the
truth in their relations, one must believe it to
be true; and the ancient fable of the basilisk
that killed with its eyes, seems to have originated
in an opinion that an animal possessing
this power actually existed.

Emily—

Dear! how much I should be
terrified, Mamma, if we were to hear in this
wood a noise resembling that which the rattle-
snake makes.

George—

But that, you know, Emily, is
impossible; for there are no rattle-snakes in
England, and no snakes 91.—Snake, Coluber natrix, ringed Snake. here hurt at all.

Emily—

I am sure I would not trust them
though, for I saw a frightful one the other
day, just by the cucumber bed; and I ran
away as fast as I possibly could.

Mrs. Talbot—

And what did the snake do?

Emily—

It ran away too, I believe; for I
looked behind me, being rather afraid it
would have pursued me; but I saw it making
its way towards the hot beds quicker than I
ran to the house. The gardener said, when I
told him how it had frightened me, that he I4v 92
had killed another great snake there the day
before, and found a great many of their eggs.

Mrs. Talbot—

It is rather prejudice against
them from their ugliness, than any real injury
they do, that causes these reptiles to be
so generally persecuted; and I much doubt
whether they are not extremely useful in
destroying insects, that would otherwise prey
on the gardener’s cucumbers, or injure their
roots. Vipers 92.—Viper, Coluber berus. are dangerous; and I once
saw an instance of a boy being severely bitten
by them, when, believing there was a nest
of young birds in a hollow tree, he thrust his
hand among a family of vipers: his hand and
arm were so dreadfully swelled, that we were
obliged to send for an apothecary, and it was
some time before the boy recovered. In
general, however, the snakes of this country
are quite harmless; and even in India, where
the poison of reptiles and insects, as well as of
plants, is exalted, and rendered more powerful
by the heat of the sun, there are some
creatures of this species who are objects of
veneration to the simple natives. In a book
of Poems on various subjects, I found not
long ago a few very pretty lines, which I believe I5r 93
I can remember. It was the petition of
an Indian girl to an adder, to stay while she
copied the beautiful colours of his skin to
weave a fillet for her lover, and is said to have
been written in the year 17401740, by an eminent
literary character, then at Winchester
School
, which made me imagine it might
probably be Dr. Warton. “Stay, stay, thou lovely fearful snake,Nor hide thee in yon darksome brake,But let me oft thy form review,Thy sparkling eyes and golden hue:From them a chaplet shall be wove,To grace the youth I dearest love.Then ages hence, when thou no moreShalt glide along the sunny shore,Thy copied beauties shall be seen;Thy vermeil red, and living green,In mimic folds thou shalt display;Stay, lovely, fearful adder, stay!”

Emily—

Indeed the Indian girl should not
choose a pattern for me, if she preferred the
colours of a snake to those of beautiful flowers,
or to the colours of the butterflies. But pray,
Mamma, tell me—what is that loud shrill noise?
I often used to hear it last Summer, but never
when I happened to be walking with you; I5v 94
and I could not describe it so as to get any one
to tell me what creature made it. Listen, I
hear it now!

Mrs. Talbot—

You mean the chirping or
song of the field cricket; 94.—Field Cricket, Gryllus campestris. or perhaps of some
of the various sorts of grasshoppers that now
are heard in many places, forming but a poor
substitute, however, for the birds, many of
which, soon after Midsummer, cease to sing.

Emily—

Yet I like to hear those crickets and
grasshoppers, the sound is so Summerish, if I
may use the expression.

George—

There is another sort too, a great
deal larger than either field crickets or grasshoppers,
that make a sort of shrill noise of a
night; the gardener called it the fen cricket,
or the churr worm, and said it did a great
deal of mischief in the grass down by the side
of the water. But I saw no great harm it
could do; for one that I observed appeared to
be a very innocent and helpless creature, and
to get in its hole in the grass again as soon as
it could.

Mrs. Talbot—

It is the Talpo Grillus, usually
called the mole cricket. The noise made by
that insect is, I think, particularly pleasant of I6r 95
an evening, heard as it usually is in solitary
and remote places near water, where it inhabits:
the grasshopper is a dweller among
meadows, and is of the same species as the
cicada, those little creatures which, when you
are walking in the grass, seem to fly some
yards before you. Of this race are the insects
called Cicala, in Italy, and other warm countries,
whose chirping is at some seasons so
loud, as to be very annoying, and who are so
voracious as often to strip the shrubs and trees
of their leaves at a very early period of the
Italian Summer.

To this family, the grilli and cicada, also
belongs the locust; Page 95.—Locust, Gryllus migratorius. which has covered whole
countries as with a cloud, and carried famine
and desolation with it wherever their terrific
hosts have settled, eating up every green leaf
and blade of grass, and even the thatch of the
houses, and every vegetable substance they
alighted upon. But fortunately they never
find their way to these northern regions. And
see, George, here is another insect, which in
this country is only of very trifling inconvenience
to the husbandman or the gardener,
but in some parts of the world is so destructive,
as to inflict ruin on those whose property it I6v 96
seizes upon: I mean the ant. Look at that
brown hillock under the trees, it seems all alive
and in motion. It is formed by the horse or
wood-ant, 96.—Horse Ant, Formica Herculanea.
one of the largest of a numerous
species, some of which are as industrious,
though less useful than bees. But in the West
Indies
such immense swarms of the black ant —Black Ant,
Formica omnivora.

have sometimes appeared, that the ground for
many miles seemed to move; they too devour
every thing in their way, eating not only vegetable
but animal substances; and they are said
sometimes to have destroyed the helpless negro
children, whom their unfortunate mothers have
left on the ground while they worked. But
we have wandered from our former subject.
I meant, George, to have asked, if you do not
recollect Cowley’s translation of Anacreon’s
Grasshopper, which, as I thought him too
much of an Epicurean to be respectable, I
altered a little before you learned it.

George—

I am not sure that I remember it,
but I will try. “The Grasshopper.Happy insect, what can beIn happiness compar’d to thee,Fed with nourishment divine,The dewy morning’s chrystal wine;K1r97For Nature waits upon thee still,And thy verdant cup doth fill.All the fields which thou dost see,All the plants belong to thee;All that Summer suns produceAre, blest insect! for thy use.While thy feast doth not destroyThe verdure thou dost thus enjoy;But the blythe shepherd haileth thee,Singing as musical as he;And peasants love thy voice to hear,Prophet of the ripening year.To thee of all things upon earth,Life is no longer than thy mirth.Insect truly blest! for thouDost neither age nor winter know;But, when thou hast danc’d and sungThy fill, the flowers and leaves among,Sated with thy Summer feastThou retir’st to endless rest.”

Emily—

But, Mamma, I want to know
what use these creatures are of; for both the
insects we have been talking of seem in some
places to do a great deal of harm, and I don’t
understand that they do any good.

Mrs. Talbot—

Certainly they are of use,
for they afford food to a great number of
birds, besides other purposes, which they
are doubtless created to answer, though we K K1v 98
do not immediately perceive those purposes.
Of these little creatures just before us, who
are so busy, some in carrying those straws,
and others white substances about, the first
are providing a place for the reception and
security of the young, while some are carrying
the young themselves; but their toil will
probably be rendered in a great degree useless,
for the pheasants, with which these
woods abound, find in these insects a principal
article of their food, and devour great
quantities whenever they can meet with them.
The black game, and all other fowls of that
sort, as well as many smaller birds, also eat
them; and the good housewives send children
into the woods to collect the pupa, or what
we usually call, eggs of ants, for their young
Turkies and Guinea fowl.

George—

And so every animal preys upon
some inferior animal.

Mrs. Talbot—

And man upon them all.

George—

But I should think, Mother, that
as far as relates to pheasants, and others of
those wild birds, which are called game, some
other creatures go more than halves with man.
Foxes 98.—Fox, Canis vulpes. and wild cats —Wild Cat, Felis catus. live in these woods, and I K2r 99
dare say kill great numbers of the pheasants
and hares.

Mrs. Talbot—

And there are weasels,
Weasel, Mustela vulgaris.
pole-
cats, —Pole-cat, Mustela putorius.
and other creatures of that race, who
also put in their claim. The squirrel alone,
of all the quadrupeds that inhabit these wild
scenes, seems to be the least at enmity with
other creatures.

George—

And he is rewarded, I think, by
being less persecuted.

Mrs. Talbot—

And yet he is not without
his troubles: the wild cat and martin cat Martin cat, Mustela martes. can
reach his airy abode, and destroy his infant
family; and man, though the squirrel cannot
be considered as fit for food, pursues and
destroys him in mere wantonness, using a
short stick, loaded at each end, which, thrown
with great force among the boughs, often
bring these pretty lively creatures bleeding to
the ground. Sometimes too an idle sportsman,
who has perhaps been disappointed of
his game, fires his gun among them, and
brings two or three down, maimed or dead,
from their happy domicile above him.

Emily—

How extremely barbarous! If I
had brothers who were so cruel out of mere K2v 100
wantonness, I am sure I could not love them.
I should think they would torment me just the
same, if they could.

George—

Well but, Emily, you don’t consider,
that if none of the creatures we see
about us were ever to be destroyed, we should
ourselves be devoured by them, and even the
least of them might do a great deal of mischief.

Emily—

Yes; but it is one thing to kill
them for food, or in defence of our property;
and another, you know, Mamma, to kill them
or make them suffer in sport. Remember the
lines in Cowper, which we wrote out.

Mrs. Talbot—

Well, suppose, since there is
reason here on both sides, which very rarely
happens in an argument, that we add to our
reason a little rhyme, and try what we can
say of the squirrel in verse, as we walk home;
for it grows late. “The Squirrel.The Squirrel, with aspiring mind,Disdains to be to earth confin’d,But mounts aloft in air:The pine-tree’s giddiest height he climbs,Or scales the beech-tree’s loftiest limbs,And builds his castle there.K3r101As Nature’s wildest tenants free,A merry forester is he,In oak o’ershadow’d dells,Or glen remote, or woodland lawn,Where the doe hides her infant fawn,Among the birds he dwells.Within some old fantastic tree,Where time has worn a cavity,His winter food is stor’d;The cone beset with many a scale,The chesnut in its coat of mail,Or nuts complete his hoard.And of wise prescience thus possess’d,He near it rears his airy nest,With twigs and moss entwin’d,And gives its roof a conic form,Where safely shelter’d from the stormHe braves the rain and wind.Though plumeless, he can dart away,Swift as the woodpecker or jay,His sportive mate to woo:His Summer food is berries wild,And last year’s acorn cups are fill’dFor him with sparkling dew.Soft is his shining auburn coat,As ermine white his downy throat,Intelligent his mien;With feathery tail and ears alert,And little paws as hands expert,And eyes so black and keen.K2K3v102Soaring above the earth-born herdOf beasts, he emulates the bird,Yet feels no want of wings:Exactly pois’d, he dares to launchIn air, and bounds from branch to branchWith swift elastic springs.And thus the Man of mental worthMay rise above the humblest birth,And adverse Fate control;If to the upright heart be join’dThe active persevering mind,And firm unshaken soul.”

Emily—

Oh! lovely little squirrel; I shall
always delight to see them, and to recollect
these verses.

Mrs. Talbot—

But we have not yet reckoned
up all the enemies of our squirrel. Kites 102.—Kite, Falco milvus. and
hawks, Sparrow-hawk, Falco nisus.
that live on the edges of these great
woods, frequently strike them.

George—

But small birds are the chief
pursuit, I believe, of birds of prey.

Mrs. Talbot—

Yes, for they can more
conveniently get at them. Scug does not
very willingly expose himself in the open
day far from his trees; he rather avoids the
sun, and sports and amuses himself in the
fine moon-light nights of summer, when the K4r 103
squirrels are seen darting about after each
other, down this tree and up that, and squeaking
in a peculiar note of satisfaction.

Emily—

If I had a place where they could
live, I would not let any body disturb them;
and as for those odious kites and hawks, I
would have them shot.

Mrs. Talbot—

And yet, Emily, those kites
and hawks have as much right to enjoy the
life God has given them as your favourite
squirrel, or as any of the other inhabitants of
this wood, or any other place.

Emily—

Perhaps so, Mamma; but you
know man is allowed to kill all creatures that
do him harm.

Mrs. Talbot—

Now there, on the trunk of
that white poplar, there is a creature which
does a great deal of harm, but which is so
beautiful, that you would hardly consent to
its being shot.

Emily—

What is it? I see only two little,
very little birds, not so big as mice, clinging
to the trees.

Mrs. Talbot—

No, it is not those minute
birds, which are vulgarly called tree-creepers, 103.—Tree-creeper, Certhia familiaris.
that I mean; but a larger bird. It is gone! K4v 104
I speak, however, of the woodpecker, —Woodpecker,
Picus viridis.
or
yaffil.

George—

Yes, I know; the bird that makes
the noise I love so much to hear, like laughing.

Mrs. Talbot—

Exactly as if he was heartily
enjoying some excellent joke; but notwithstanding
his gaiety and his splendid plumage,
which excels that of most British birds, he is
a mischievous fellow; for if in any tree he
discovers the least hole, he bores it with his
strong bill, till he makes it big enough sometimes
to receive his whole family; and while
he and his feathered companion are at that
employment, you may hear their noise resounding
to a great distance through the
woods; but it does great mischief to the tree,
and occasions it to rot. The food of this race
of birds is insects, which harbour in the
rugged or decayed bark; and these they get
out of their hiding-places by means of the
long slender tongue which they are furnished
with: but we must hasten, or we shall be
benighted.

George—

Let us go down the way that
Emily calls her glow-worm walk.

Mrs. Talbot—

Most willingly. They will K5r 105
not be visible much longer, those shining
insects which Emily so much admires. But,
see! there are two or three: let us try if we
cannot find something to say of them more
flattering to Emily’s partiality, than the
sonnet which described their appearance by
day-light. “The Glow-Worm.Bright insect! that on humid leaves and grassLights up thy fairy lamp; as if to guideThe steps of labouring swains that homeward pass,Well pleas’d to see thee cheer the pathway side,Betokening cloudless skies and pleasant days;While he whom evening’s sober charms inviteIn shady woodlanes, often stops to gaze,And moralizing hails thy emerald light!On the fair tresses of the roseate morn,Translucent dews, as precious gems appear,Not less dost thou the night’s dark hour adorn,‘Like a rich jewel in an Ethiop’s ear.’Though the rude bramble, or the fan-like ferns,Around thee their o’ershadowing branches spread,Steady and clear thy phosphor brilliance burns,And thy soft rays illuminate the shade.Thus the calm brightness of superior mindsMakes them amid misfortune’s shadow blest,And thus the radiant spark of Genius shines,Though screen’d by Envy, or by Pride oppress’d.”

Emily—

O, Mamma! these verses are the K5v 106
prettiest we have heard yet, and a great deal
less mortifying to my favourite insects, which
I like to fancy the fairies’ flambeaux, such
you know as they are called in the song I
learned when I was a very little girl; where
the Fairy tells of the table made of a mushroom,
and of the food it was covered with;
and two lines, you know, are, “And when the moon doth hide her head,The glow-worm lights us home to bed.”

Mrs. Talbot—

And now it must do us that
good office, for we have loitered till the sun is
quite gone: and we must be early risers to-
morrow; for perhaps we may hear by the
post that your aunt, and Edward, and Ella,
and Fanny expect us to meet them. Then
we may parody a line of Milton, and say, “To-morrow for fresh walks, and verses new!”

K6r

Conversation The Fourth.

K6v L1r

Conversation The Fourth.

Mrs. TalbotGeorgeEmily.

Mrs. Talbot

The day opens propitiously
for our meeting the dear friends we expect.
I never saw the sun rise with more beauty, or
promising finer weather.

George—

In half an hour, mother, we shall
be on our way; and in two hours we shall
meet them; shall we not?

Mrs. Talbot—

I hope so; and, as you
know we were talking of omens yesterday,
I will consider it as a favourable prognostic to
the pursuit of our little studies in natural
history, that I this morning found in my
window one of those beautiful butterflies
called the Admirable, and sometimes the
Colonel, 109.—Admirable Butterfly, Papilis atalanta. a fly which is rarely found in the
house, though others, such as the Nettle
Tortoise-shell, 109.—Nettle Tortoise-shell, Papilis urticæ.
frequently are. In an impromptuVol. 1. L L1v 110
I addressed my captive, and then
gave him his freedom.

Emily—

It is that large black butterfly,
with bright scarlet and white spots, one of
which I saw in the garden yesterday.

Mrs. Talbot—

The same; but perhaps I
have not been altogether correct in my poetical
history, insomuch as I have described
the butterfly as emerging from the retreat it
had chosen during the cold months; but it is
more probable that the individual insect in
question has been produced this Summer.
For the progress of this species I understand
to be, that a few that have passed the inclement
season in the chrysalis state, are seen on
the wing early in May; soon after which the
female lays her eggs singly on the leaves of
nettles. The caterpillar, immediately on
being hatched, sews the leaf on which it finds
itself round it like a case; the effect of wonderful
instinct, to preserve itself from a particular
species of fly called the ichneumon,
which otherwise would destroy it, by depositing
its eggs in the soft body of the caterpillar.
But, as the caterpillar must have food as well
as shelter, it feeds on the tender part of this L2r 111
covering, till the leaf becomes in too ruinous
a state to be longer inhabited; then crawling
to another, it again wraps itself up; and this
happens till it is nearly full grown, and so
much increased in size, that one leaf will not
serve it both for food and raiment. It therefore
becomes more ambitious, and reaching
the top of the nettle, connects several leaves
together to make its house, and supply its
appetite; till being at length full grown, it
suspends itself from a leaf, and puts on the
armour that nature directs it to assume before
its last and complete state of existence, which
happens in sixteen or twenty days, according
to the temperature of the air. Then the ugly
deformed caterpillar is metamorphosed into
the beautiful butterfly, one of which by some
singular chance I found to-day. “To a Butterfly in a Window.Escaped thy place of wintry rest,And in the brightest colours drest,Thy new-born wings prepar’d for flight,Ah! do not, Butterfly, in vainThus flutter on the crystal pane,But, go! and soar to life and light.L2v112High on the buoyant Summer galeThro’ cloudless ether thou may’st sail,Or rest among the fairest flowers;To meet thy winnowing friends may’st speed,Or at thy choice luxurious feedIn woodlaunds wild, or garden bowers.Beneath some leaf of ample shadeThy pearly eggs shall then be laid,Small rudiments of many a fly;While thou, thy frail existence past,Shall shudder in the chilly blast,And fold thy painted wings and die!Soon fleets thy transient life away;Yet short as is thy vital day,Like flowers that form thy fragrant food;Thou, poor Ephemeron, shalt have fill’dThe little space thy Maker will’d,And all thou know’st of life be good.”

George—

Mother, I think our book will
be so full of our verses, that we must begin
another when my aunt brings us those she has
promised us.

Emily—

And I shall never be weary of
learning them. You thought, Mamma, that
I should not have all our present collection
complete, both in my book and my memory,
before my aunt, my brother and sister, and
my cousin Fanny came; but I believe I can
go through them without missing a line.

L3r 113

Mrs. Talbot—

I am as willing, as I am
happy to believe it, my Emily; but now we
have hardly time to talk of our acquisitions,
for the chaise is, I see, just driving through
the lawn.

George—

I am ready; Emily, make haste,
I am going for my horse, and shall ride round
by the time you get in. Mother, you cannot
imagine how well the poor old fellow Dumplin
looks, since I have got a better bridle and had
his mane hogged: I shall have a delightful ride!

Mrs. Talbot—

I hope so. But what has
John in his hand? A letter? It is, and from
your aunt: something, I am afraid, has happened
to prevent her meeting us.

George—

Oh! Mother, pray tell me what
it is. Surely nobody is ill?

Emily—

I am frightened so that I dare not
ask.

Mrs. Talbot—

My dear children, be not
alarmed. Thank God, it is not illness among
our beloved party, that deprives us for a time
of the happiness we hoped to be enjoying in
a few hours; but the unexpected arrival at
my sister’s house of an old friend of hers under
affliction, who comes to her for consolation, L2 L3v 114
and to whom she cannot refuse the alleviations
that friendship and sympathy give to the unhappy.

George—

Well I am very sorry, to be sure,
for the disappointment; but since it is so, and
that none of our own dear folks are sick, I
must not vex about it.

Mrs. Talbot—

I should be vexed with you,
George, if you did. The disappointment to
you is surely not worth thinking of, since your
poney, Dumplin, with his new bridle and his
hog mane, will look and go quite as well
another day; and you may even take a gallop
with him immediately if you will, since you
and he are equipped. But consider with
yourself a moment what would have been the
disappointment of your aunt’s afflicted friend,
if, in order to keep her appointment, and to
have been here a few days sooner, she had refused
to remain to comfort the unhappy.
Consider too how much more severely we
should have felt this mortification, had it
arisen from any misfortune having fallen on
those we expected.

George—

Indeed, Mother, I am very sensible
that all you say is true; and I hope you L4r 115
don’t think me so unreasonable as to murmur,
though I own I was a little vexed at first.

Mrs. Talbot—

And you, Emily? Come,
confess that you bear this disappointment with
even less fortitude than your brother.

Emily—

I was frightened, Mamma, while
you were reading the letter, for I was sure
almost by your look that something was the
matter; I was afraid my brother, or my sister,
or Fanny had been ill; or my aunt herself.
But indeed, since it is not so, I do not mind
the disappointment on my own account, and
am only sorry for my aunt’s poor friend.

Mrs. Talbot—

My children, I am the more
earnest with you on this occasion, as I so well
recollect with regret, how ill I bore disappointment
myself, when I was a girl, and how
frequently I was weak enough on such occasions
to lose my own temper, and try that of
the good aunt whose care I was under. A
rainy day when I was promised a long walk,
or to pass the morning with any favourite
play-fellow, seemed then to be a misfortune
which was not to be endured. I remember
that a party of ladies who lived at some distance,
and with whom my family were on L4v 116
terms of ceremonious visiting, happened to
arrive one morning just as I was eagerly setting
out to see the river fished, that ran through
the grounds, and about the sport it would
afford, I had heard a great deal for some days
before. Every body was gone but my aunt
and I; and already I had heard by the boys
and people that were running backwards and
forwards, of the great pike that had been taken,
and the quantity of fine fish they expected.
The ladies, I thought, need not detain me, as
I could not amuse them, and was sure they
could not amuse me; so I was earnestly soliciting
leave to go, and had nearly obtained it,
when they all entered the room, and with
them a girl of my own age, who was at home
for the holidays, and whom her mother brought
to exhibit, as she was remarkably accomplished
for her age; and I believe it was intended
to mortify my aunt by the comparison.
The little “Miss” was formally introduced to me,
and no hope remained of my seeing the river
fished; I ought, you know, to have made
light of such a trifling deprivation, and have
been civil to my visitor. Instead of that I was
silent, and I am afraid sullen; while she displayed L5r 117
all her acquirements; played on the
piano forte, sung a fashionable air, shewed a
new pas grave, which her dancing-master had
lately introduced, and desired with an air of
triumph to see my drawings, which when I
was obliged by authority to fetch, she turned
over in a mighty negligent way, as not likely
to be worth her criticism; and the elder ladies
hardly deigned to look at them; Lady Prunely
gravely assuring my aunt, that a much better
method was now adopted than that which I
seemed to have been taught by. My patience
was now quite exhausted; and all this affronting
parade of superiority as I then thought
it, operating upon my mind embittered by
disappointment, I forgot every thing but my
extreme desire to escape from society I did
not like, to an amusement particularly pleasing
to me. Under pretence therefore of carrying
away my drawing book, I hurried as fast as I
could to the river, where my brothers were
highly enjoying themselves, while the men in
dresses on purpose waded into the shallow
water, and threw quantities of fish on the
banks. My eagerness was not exceeded by
that of the boys, in the midst of whom I was L5v 118
presently busy in putting the fish into baskets
to be carried to the ponds; and in despite of
my maid’s lectures that morning about my
white frocks and petticoats, I was as deep in
the mud as the boys themselves, when my
persecutors, Lady Prunely, her elegant daughter,
and the whole party appeared, and a
message was sent to me to join them immediately,
as they could not think of approaching
very near on account of the dirt. Most unwillingly
I attempted to obey; but there were
several nets that had been thrown on the bank;
in one of them I became entangled, and endeavouring
impatiently to disengage myself,
I fell among the mud and weeds with which
the bank was covered; and a more deplorable
object than I appeared when I recovered my
feet cannot be imagined. I escaped an heavy
censure at that moment, because I was not in
a condition to approach the nice group who
beheld my disgrace, as they thought it, with
horror and amazement. But Lady Prunely,
who had an high opinion of her own sagacity
and superior knowledge, took that opportunity
to advise my aunt very seriously to send me
to school. “Really,” said the dictatorial L6r 119
Lady, “Miss Caroline is a good fine girl, but
my dear Ma’am, she is, I am sure, vastly too
much for your tender spirits. Forgive me,
my dear Ma’am, but I know you are of so
gentle a disposition, that you cannot controul
a child of that extreme vivacity. It would be
of infinite use to her if you were to send her
to school. That where my Arabella is, to be
sure, is very expensive, but my dear Ma’am,
if your niece were to be sent to it, for only a
couple
of years, I would engage that you
would be highly satisfied, and sure I am that
you would find Miss Caroline quite another
thing.”

This advice, though it was given in the
proud consciousness of fancied wisdom, was,
I believe, very good advice, as we lived in a
place where little or no good instruction was
to be had. There were objections to taking a
governess into the house, and persons well
qualified for that office were even more difficult
to be found then, than they are now.
Miss Caroline, undismayed by her disaster
after it was once over, continued to be perhaps
too fond of digging with her brothers in the L6v 120
garden; running about without her hat, swinging
in the barn with them, and even mounting
an ass; all of which were then reckoned very
indecorous amusements. So Lady Prunely’s
council was in a few months followed, and I
was sent to the school where her daughter
was. But you see here was an event of some
importance in my life, produced by the impatience
with which I bore a trifling disappointment;
for had I been civil, as undoubtedly
I ought to have been, and smiled, and bowed,
and praised Miss Arabella Prunely, instead of
being, as the Lady her mother described me,
“ruder than a young Hottentot,” I should
not perhaps have been so soon, if at all, sent
from home.

George—

But then, Mother, you would
have been a hypocrite; and if hypocrisy is
hateful in persons grown up, it is ten times
worse in children and young people.

Mrs. Talbot—

But one purpose of education,
George, is, to teach us, not hypocrisy, but to
live for others as well as ourselves, and even in
matters of indifference not to offend the feelings
or prejudices of those we live among, whether M1r 121
our superiors or equals, or those whom fortune
has placed beneath us. You meet with people
every day whom you dislike, do you not?

George—

Yes, indeed, and I long to tell
them so.

Mrs. Talbot—

I know you do; but what
right have you to offend these people with
disagreeable truths, or such speeches as you
think truths? Should you like to have one of
them come up to you, and tell you you were
awkward or ill bred, or that you were not so
rich as they themselves?

George—

I should not much care about the
last, because I know it very well, and there is
no disgrace in not having a great fortune; and
as to being awkward and ill bred, that is mere
matter of opinion, and I had rather be both
than a finical coxcomb.

Mrs. Talbot—

But if they were to tell you
you were guilty of meanness or falsehood?

George—

I suppose I should knock any
man down that was to charge me with either,
at least if I could.

Mrs. Talbot—

And yet, George, I have seen
you tell people, almost as plainly as the most
unequivocal words could have done, that you M M1v 122
had as ill an opinion of them as those words
imply.

George—

Well, Mother, but if they deserved
that opinion?

Mrs. Talbot—

You are too young to judge
yourself of the characters of individuals; and
you should not take evil report upon trust.
There was Farmer Delverstone who came the
other day for taxes; you had heard he was
remarkable for his avarice, and for being cruel
to the poor as Overseer or Churchwarden, and
I was really afraid you were going to tell him
so. Then whenever Miss Commere is here,
you are always talking of gossiping meddling
old women, who go about from house to house
tale-bearing, and making quarrels among
neighbours. It is very true, she does do all
that; but you cannot now reform her, for it
is an inveterate habit acquired and fixed in a
long life; yet you have excited her dislike,
and she tells every body that you are utterly
ruined by my false indulgence. I would
always have you despise and avoid vice of
every kind, and look on meanness and malice
with as much contempt and abhorrence as you
do now; but it is not necessary to offend the M2r 123
forms of the world by a rough and obtrusive
manner, which reforms nobody, but renders
almost every body your enemy. However,
here is a much longer lecture than I intended
for this time; before it is too hot take your
ride; but I advise you not to let it be towards
Sir Harry’s, for how would your philosophy
bear a comparison between Mr. Scamperville’s
“famous” mare, and our poor old Dumpling?

George—

Well enough, I hope. It would
not be right or reasonable in me to ask you to
go to such expence as Sir Harry can afford;
and I should be more ashamed if people were
to say, “there goes George Talbot on a fine
horse, when his mother and sisters never go
out but in an hired chaise.”
Besides, Mamma,
I like riding very well, and wish to be a tolerable
good horseman, because it is useful to
be able to take journeys on horseback, if necessary;
but I do not want to ride like one of
Sir Harry’s training grooms.

Mrs. Talbot—

I am perfectly satisfied with
your reasoning, my dear boy; and have little
to wish, but that you may always judge as
rationally as you do now of the value of those
objects, which excite so much amibition among M2v 124
boys, and are allowed to give so strong a bias
to the characters of their subsequent lives.
Adieu then for this morning! Emily is going
to read to me the poem which you were so
pleased with when you met with it in one of
your cousin Fanny’s school books. So for
the present farewell.

Emily—

Mamma, I have now several little
copies of verses on insects, and some on plants:
I have the squirrel too, the dormouse, and the
hedgehog, which are beasts, but we have none
that tell of birds.

Mrs. Talbot—

And yet none of the various
inhabitants of the earth are more entitled to
our attention, or more worthy of our admiration.
We must apply to your aunt for her
assistance, and try to enrich our collection
with some subjects from that department of
natural history; at present let me hear the
poetical collection of “Wild Flowers.Fair rising from her icy couch,Wan herald of the floral year,The Snow-drop marks the Spring’s approach,E’er yet the Primrose 124.—Primrose, Primula vulgaris. groups appear,Or peers the Arum —Arum, Arum
maculatum
.
from its spotted veil,
Or odorous Violets scent the cold capricious gale.
M3r125Then thickly strewn in woodland bowersAnemonies —Anemone, Anemone nemorosa. their stars unfold;There spring the Sorrel’s 125. Sorrel, Oxalis acetosella, Wood Sorrel. veined flowers,And rich in vegetable goldFrom Calyx pale, the freckled Cowslip born,Receives in amber cups the fragrant dews of morn.Lo! the green Thorn her silver budsExpands, to May’s enlivening beam;HottoniaHottonia,
Hottonia palustris
, Water Violet.
blushes on the floods;
And where the slowly trickling streamMid grass and spiry rushes stealing glides,Her lovely fringed flowers fair MenyanthesMenyanthis,
Menyanthis trifolia
, Buck or Bog-bean.
hides.
In the lone copse or shadowy dale,Wild cluster’d knots of Harebells blow,And droops the Lily of the vale Lily of the
Valley, Convallaria majalis.
O’er Vinca’s Vinca major and minor,
Perriwinkle.
matted leaves below,
The OrchisOrchis apifera & muscifera, bee and fly
Orchis.
race with varied beauty charm,
And mock the exploring bee, or fly’s aerial form.
Wound in the hedgerow’s oaken boughs,The Woodbine’s tassels float in air,And blushing, the uncultured RoseHangs high her beauteous blossoms there;Her fillets there the purple Nightshade Nightshade, Solanum dulcamara. weaves,And the BrioniaByronia
dioica
, Byrony.
winds her pale and scolloped leaves.
To later Summer’s fragrant breathClemati’sClematis vitalba. feathery garlands dance;The hollow Foxglove 125.Digitalis purpurea. nods beneath,While the tall Mullein’s —Mullein, Verbascum
thapsus
.
yellow lance,
Dear to the meally tribe of evening, towers,And the weak GaliumGalium—many species. weaves its myriad fairy flowers.
M2M3v126Sheltering the coot’s or wild duck’s nest,And where the timid halcyon hides,The Willow-herb, —Willow-
herb, Epilobium—several species.
in crimson drest,
Waves with ArundoArundo, Reed—
many species.
o’er the tides;
And there the bright NympheaNymphea lutea, yellow Water Lily. loves to lave,Or spreads her golden orbs upon the dimpling wave.
And thou! by pain and sorrow blest,Papaver!
Papaver somniferum, Poppy.
that an opiate dew
Conceal’st beneath thy scarlet vest,Contrasting with the Corn flower —Corn-flower, Centaurea
cyanus
.
blue,
Autumnal months behold thy gauzy leavesBend in the rustling gale, amid the tawny sheaves.
From the first bud, whose venturous headThe Winter’s lingering tempest braves,To those which ’mid the foliage deadSink latest to their annual grave,All are for food, for health, or pleasure given,And speak in various ways the bounteous hand of Heaven.”

Evening.

Mrs. Talbot—

Your excursion then was a
pleasant one?

George—

Remarkably so, indeed, my dear
Mother. The woods are in general as green
as they were in Spring; only here and there M4r 127
a bough is just tinted with yellow: but the
birds are almost silent, at least very few are
heard in comparison of the numbers we
listened to, when three weeks since we took
our long forest walk.

Emily—

Oh, dear! those yellow leaves tell
us of the approach of Autumn; and then
comes Winter, cold, cheerless, dreary Winter.

Mrs. Talbot—

But, Emily, why do you
seem to dread it so much? To you surely it
has never yet been cheerless. And Autumn,
you know, is generally the season chosen now
for enjoying the country. No person of
fashion thinks of leaving London till July or
August; and some not till September.

George—

They cannot have much taste
though for the beauty of the country; Spring
and Summer are so delightful! and there is
such a joyous appearance about every object.

Mrs. Talbot—

You would not be allowed
to have any taste, my dear George, either by
the sportsman, or the lover of good eating,
were they to hear you assert, that the Spring
and Summer are the most joyous. Your acquaintance,
Mr. Scamperville, were you to
enquire of him, would tell you, that all persons M4v 128
who are as he calls it in a certain style,
find the pleasures of those seasons to consist of
parties in London, lounging up and down
Bond-Street, riding and driving in the Park,
all the morning; and in an evening, frequenting
crowded rooms, where “people of a
certain rank”
vie with each other in the excessive
expense of entertainments; while those
who cannot, without injury to their fortunes,
emulate these luxurious exhibitions, are half
undone by their prodigality. It is for them
that nature is forced, and that cherries are
produced in February, and roses bloom at
Christmas; for what would become of people
“in a certain style”, if they could only eat
cherries and smell to roses, when the plebeian
can equally enjoy both?

George—

Well! I shall never regret not
being “in a certain style”, if those things only
are denied to a plebeian; for I am quite content,
are not you, Mother, to have roses and
cherries in the common course?

Mrs. Talbot—

Undoubtedly I am; yet I
certainly have great delight in the productions
which Art gives us in our cold and capricious
climate, especially plants, of the warmer M5r 129
latitudes. Nor is this a luxury unattended
with extensive benefit; for great numbers of
people are supported by the culture, not indeed
of exotics, and rare plants, for that
branch of gardening, however great its present
perfection, can comparatively occupy but a
few; but the culture of early vegetables, and
forced flowers, employs many men; and we
may say with the Poet, “But hence the poor are cloth’d, the hungry fed,Health to himself, and to his children breadThe labourer bears.”
And when I have sometimes seen a crown
given for a rose in Winter, and have thought,
as it is impossible not to think, on the strange
inequality with which the gifts of fortune are
divided; I have consoled myself with this
reflection, and have said, that though my
acquaintance, Lady Felicia Fidwell, could
throw away, for the indulgence of a few
moments’ gratification, a sum, which would
purchase food during the week for the poor
outcast of his family, who stands soliciting an
halfpenny of her ladyship’s footman, as a
small acknowledgment for having swept the
mud from the crossing, which this fine fellow, M5v 130
with his tasselled cane, his ruffles and laced
hat, was obliged to pass on a message of his
Lady to the Circulating Library over the way;
yet that some other poor man was long employed
and found bread in performing the
offices requisite for the production of this
rose; and I have, by that recollection, conquered
my disposition to find it strange, that
things are so unequally divided.

George—

I remember, Mother, you said
one day, that roses blown by artificial heat are
more beautiful than those that blow in the
usual season in the garden.

Emily—

So they are indeed, Brother. I had
a bunch given me by my cousin, who had a
whole flower-pot full made her a present of;
and they were the sweetest and most beautiful
roses I ever saw in my life.

George—

Now, I think, Emily, that you
only fancied them so, because it was at a time
when they were scarce, and you had not seen
roses a great while.

Mrs. Talbot—

Not altogether so, George.
Roses blown by artificial heat are more delicate
than those which ornament our gardens in
June, lovely as they are. I know not whether M6r 131
their scent be more exquisite, and indeed I
doubt it; but they are usually more free from
blight, and those insects which sometimes
destroy our garden roses. Since we are upon
this subject, I will repeat to you a little poem
written some years ago by your aunt, in
which the effect of the culture of the rose by
artificial heat is represented, as being like
that of education on the female mind. You
will hear the pleadings of Nature and of Art,
who are here personified.

Emily—

Excuse my interrupting you,
dearest Mamma; but you always bid me
ask, when I do not understand the meaning
of a word. You used this the other day, and
I could not then ask you. What is meant by
personified?

Mrs. Talbot—

I will endeavour to explain
it as well as I can. It is a very usual figure in
modern poetry; and has, in many instances,
superseded the use of the imaginary Deities
of the Heathen Mythology, where love was
called Cupid, you know; beauty was Venus;
and wisdom Minerva or Pallas, and so on;
but now a Poet personifies the virtue, vice, or M6v 132
passion he would represent. Collins’s poetry
is full of those bold figures. Mercy is called “Gentlest of sky-born forms, and best ador’d.”
And Fear is admirably pourtrayed, as well as
many other human passions: and it is
common to apostrophise, or for the Poet to
address himself to one of those imaginary
passions or virtues, as in Smollett’s Ode to
Independence
, and many others. Scenes of
Nature are often personified. Thus Gray,
you may remember, George, addresses himself
to Father Thames, in one of the verses
of his beautiful Ode on a Distant Prospect
of Eton College.
However, we will have
a farther dissertation on this another day;
I have at present said enough, I believe,
Emily, to make you comprehend what is
meant by personification. And now attend to
the pleadings of Nature and Art, on the improvement
bestowed by the latter on the
darling production of the former.
N1r 133 “The Hot-House Rose.An early Rose borne from her genial bowerMet the fond homage of admiring eyes,And while young Zephyr fann’d the lovely flower,Nature and Art contended for the prize.Exulting Nature cried, I made thee fair,’Twas I that nurs’d thy tender buds in dew;I gave thee fragrance to perfume the air,And stole from beauty’s cheek her blushing hue.Vainly fastidious novelty affectsO’er alpine heights and untrod wilds to roam,From rocks and swamps her foreign plants collects,And brings the rare but scentless treasures home.’Midst Art’s factitious children let them beIn sickly state by names pedantic known,True taste’s unbiass’d eye shall turn to thee,And love and beauty mark thee for their own.Cease, goddess, cease, indignant Art replied,And e’er you triumph, know that but for meThis beauteous object of our mutual prideHad been no other than a vulgar tree.I snatch’d her from her tardy mother’s arms,Where sun-beams scorch and piercing tempests blow;On my warm bosom nurs’d her infant charms,Prun’d the wild shoot, and train’d the straggling bough.N1v134I watch’d her tender buds, and from her shadeDrew each intruding weed with anxious care,Nor let the curling blight her leaves invade,Nor worm nor noxious insect harbour there;At length the beauty’s loveliest bloom appears,And Art from Fame shall win the promis’d boon,While wayward April, smiling through her tears,Decks her fair tresses with the wreaths of June.Then, jealous Nature, yield the palm to me,To me thy pride its early triumph owes;Though thy rude workmanship produc’d the tree,’Twas Education form’d the perfect Rose.”

N2r

Conversation The Fifth.

N2v N3r

Conversation The Fifth.

Mrs. TalbotGeorgeEmily.

George

And is it at last fixed that we are
to go on Thursday to meet my aunt, and
Edward, and all of them; and is it quite
certain, Mother?

Mrs. Talbot—

As certain as any thing can
be that depends on human will and human
power; but you know that there is a greater
power which governs the world, and without
whose permission, we are taught, that not
even a sparrow falls. Now, it may so happen
that some occurrence or other, which we can
neither foresee nor prevent, may counteract
our present intentions, and therefore we ought
never to say that any thing is absolutely
certain. There is an aphorism, you know,
which says, “Man proposes, but God disposes.”

N2 N3v 138

Emily—

I am sure I hope nothing will
happen any more to put our journey off.
It is near four months since Ella has been
away! And we never saw Edward at the
last holidays.

Mrs. Talbot—

Well, Emily, I trust a few
pleasant weeks passed at the sea side, with all
those we love, will make us amends for all
our disappointments. We shall be there first,
however, by more than a week.

Emily—

To-day is only Friday. It is five
days still before we shall set out; and Summer
is almost gone.

Mrs. Talbot—

We shall enjoy, therefore,
with greater pleasure, the change of scenery.
The downs, near the sea, are almost always of
a brighter green than such high lands that are
more remote from the coast, because the
vapour arising from the sea nourishes the
short turf.

George—

Delightful green downs! Mother,
almost the first thing I remember was going
out with you, and while Edward held my
hand, trying to run up and down one of the
slopes upon the hill. And you sat down on
the opposite side, and laughed to see me N4r 139
scramble up; till at last I was able to do it
without Edward’s help, and I was as proud as
possible of my performance.

Mrs. Talbot—

Yes, George, you had then
just left off your petticoats, and in your own
idea you were already a man, and emulated
your elder brother, who was six years old.

George—

I was not three years old, I believe,
yet I remember it very well.

Mrs. Talbot—

Early impressions long remain,
even when more recent events, if of no
great consequence, are obliterated. I, who
have passed so many more years since my infancy,
have a very perfect recollection of what
happened when I was only three or four years
old, while I have forgotten a great many
things that have occurred within these few
years; and I have observed, that very old
people often talk of their lives in their early
youth, yet seem to have little remembrance of
what they saw last year.

George—

That is very odd, I think.

Mrs. Talbot—

It is easily accounted for:
but, not to enter into this enquiry at present,
I must tell you, that your aunt has sent you
something to amuse you and Emily, knowing N4v 140
how tedious you would think the days that are
yet to pass before we meet.

Emily—

Oh, how good she is! Let us see
the something, Mamma. It is a Tale, or a
Poem, I know.

Mrs. Talbot—

You may call it both. It is
the history of a bird. I told your aunt in one
of my letters, that animals, and insects, and
plants, had been celebrated in the verses of
our book, but that it was not yet enriched
with one bird. She has, therefore, sent you
an account of a favourite Robin, and added
a little Poem, which I am sure you will be
pleased with. George shall read it. There
have been so many verses written about this
bird, which used to be held sacred to the
household gods, that it was not very easy to
give these any novelty. But the subject of
them was highly interesting.—This is what
your aunt says.

George[Speaker label not present in original source]


“Two years ago, towards the close of the
month of August, a Robin frequented the
drawing-room at B. and became in the
course of the Winter so tame, that as soon
as the windows were open in the morning he
used to come in, and seemed to consider it as N5r 141
his domicile, though he always roosted
among the shrubs near the window. On
being called, he readily made his appearance,
and used to sit and sing at the back of a chair,
or on the pianoforte. He was a constant
attendant at the breakfast table, and expected
to be fed like a domestic animal; for when
we went out for a few days, he resorted to
the offices, and followed the servants into the
larder. My pretty Robin, however, was a
very Turk in disposition, and would suffer
no Brother near the Throne; for he drove
away, with every mark of resentment, any
of his compatriots, who during the hard
weather shewed any inclination to share the
advantages he had appropriated to himself;
of which indeed he seemed to feel all the
value, for as winter advanced, he became so
familiar as to sit and sing on my daughter’s
shoulder, and appeared to have totally lost
all the apprehensions of a wild bird. If he
chose to go out, instead of beating himself
against the window, he sat on the edge of
the frame till it was opened for him; or
taking an opportunity when the door was
open, he flew through the green-house or N5v 142
through the passages, till he found his way
out. He was a great favourite as well in the
kitchen, as in the parlour: and it was with
general regret, that early in the Spring he
was missed, and never returned. Had he
retired to build, as Robins are said to do, in
woods and copses, he would not have gone
far from the house, around which there were
so many thickets and shrubs, and where it
is probable he was bred. It is therefore most
likely, that being so tame and fearless, he
was destroyed by a cat.


I might have written his Elegy for Emily,
but I thought it would be less imitative of
verses of the soame description, to Sparrows
and Canary-birds, and Robins, if I introduced
him such as he would have been on
our first acquaintance, had that acquaintance
been begun in such hard weather,
as usually drives the smaller birds, but particularly
the Robin, to the shelter and food
afforded in and about the habitation of
Man. My composition is therefore called, N6r 143 The Robin’s Petition.‘A suppliant to your window comes,Who trusts your faith and fears no guile,He claims admittance for your crumbs,And reads his passport in your smile.For cold and cheerless is the day,And he has sought the hedges round;No berry hangs upon the spray,Nor worm nor ant-egg can be found.Secure his suit will be preferr’d,No fears his slender feet deter;For sacred is the household bird,That wears the scarlet stomacher.’Lucy the prayer assenting heard,The feather’d suppliant flew to her,And fondly cherish’d was the bird,That wears the scarlet stomacher.Embolden’d then, he’d fearless perchHer netting or her work among,For crumbs among her drawings search,And add his music to her song;And warbling on her snowy arm,Or half entangled in her hair,Seem’d conscious of the double charmOf freedom and protection there.N6v144A graver moralist, who usedFrom all some lesson to infer,Thus said, as on the bird she mus’d,Pluming his scarlet stomacher—‘Where are his gay companions now,Who sung so merrily in Spring?Some shivering on the leafless bough,With ruffled plume, and drooping wing.Some in the hollow of a cave,Consign’d to temporary death;And some beneath the sluggish waveAwait reviving nature’s breath.The migrant tribes are fled away,To skies where insect myriads swarm,They vanish with the Summer day,Nor bide the bitter northern storm.But still is this sweet minstrel heard,While lours December dark and drear,The social, cheerful, household bird,That wears the scarlet stomacher.And thus in life’s propitious hour,Approving flatterers round us sport,But if the faithless prospect lower,They the more happy fly to court.Then let us to the selfish herdOf fortune’s parasites prefer,The friend like this our Winter bird,That wears the scarlet stomacher.’”

O1r 145

George—

That is, in my opinion, the
prettiest of all our poems. I shall be impatient
to transcribe it, though I do not quite
understand what is meant by the “scarlet
stomacher”
.

Mrs. Talbot—

It is an old-fashioned expression,
used by an old-fashioned poet,
Dr. Donne, in celebrating the robin. But
it needs explaining to you, because it is an
article of dress no longer in use. It means a
piece of silk, or other material, formed to the
shape, and covered with ribbands, or lace, or
jewels. I have seen such among the wardrobe
of a good old lady who had hoarded up many
of the ornaments of her youth, and who used
to descant with great eloquence on the elegance
of stomachers, robeings, and double
ruffles; and was, I believe, firmly persuaded,
that the world was degenerated since those
ornaments had given place to the modern
fashions, which she thinks so preposterous.
But to return to our Winter friend. The
robin, you know, sings at seasons when every
other bird is silent, and even the chirping and
clamorous sparrow is little heard. But his
song is not confined to the more melancholy Vol. 1. O O1v 146
fall of the leaf, or the dreary season of
Winter. Throughout the year he sings, but
his weaker voice is lost in the chorus that fills
the copses and hedgerows before Midsummer;
when the wood-lark, 146. Wood-lark, Lauda arborea. the linnet, —Linnet, Tringilla
linota
.
the thrush, —Thrush, Turdus musicus.
the blackbird, —Blackbird, Turdus
merula
.
seem to vie with each other;
while the nightingale, —Nightingale, Motacilla luscinia. like the robin, —Robin, Motacilla
rubecula
.
is only
heard at night, in the greatest perfection,
because his voice is in the day-time often
drowned in the songs of other choristers.

George—

And now we hear hardly any of
them, except the robin; most of them are
already silent.

Mrs. Talbot—

Towards the end of July that
always happens. August, the present month,
is said, by an accurate observer of nature, to
be one of the most silent in the year, for later,
a few birds renew their notes, just as there are
a few faint flowers, that blow when the bloom
of Summer beauty is gone.

Emily—

Alas! they are almost all gone
now! I could not to-day find roses to fill
even one flower-pot. I was going to gather
the blossoms of a tall pink, and white bell-
shaped flower in the lower shrubbery, the
name of which I do not know; but I found O2r 147
that in many of the flowers, there were dead
flies.

Mrs. Talbot—

It is the Apocynum, or tutsan
leaved dog’s-bane. I did not recollect that it
was likely now to be in bloom, or I should
have looked at it.

George—

Shew it me, Emily, when we go
for our walk.

Mrs. Talbot—

It is one, among some other
flowers, that has the singular property of
catching insects.

George—

Yes, you remember, Mother, we
were shewn one at Mrs. Roberts’s, which
caught flies by means of teeth set on each
side of the leaf, just like the trap, or gin,
which I have seen the men use in the stable,
or farm-yard, to catch rats. And the leaf
seemed to have a spring within it, for when a
fly settled upon it, the jagged teeth set on
each side of the leaf closed and crushed the
poor insect.

Mrs. Talbot—

That is a very different
plant; it comes from the swamps of North
America
, and has received the name of
Dionæa muscipula, or Venus’s fly-trap; it is
white, and without any great share of beauty. O2v 148
You should tell your sister, George, that
Dione is one of the many names given to
the imaginary deity, Venus, the goddess of
beauty.

George—

I tried to explain some parts of
the Heathen mythology the other day, when
we were looking at those beautiful prints in
the fine edition of Virgil; but Emily said she
was sure it was so wicked that she would not
listen to it.

Mrs. Talbot—

We must, however, find some
method to make our Emily acquainted with
these mythological fables, or rather allegories;
because without some knowledge of them,
many books cannot be understood, nor can we
comprehend or enjoy those beautiful works of
art, that represent the beings with which the
ancients peopled the heavens and the earth.
We should not disdain to acquaint ourselves
with the deities acknowledged by some of the
wisest and greatest of mankind, and whose
existence Cato and Cicero made a part of that
faith which they professed, although we know
there is only one God, the father of light and
life, and the creator of the universe. But at
present let us return to our plant, the Apocynum. O3r 149
There is a drawing of it in the
Botanic Garden, and an account of the manner
of its catching the flies, which is, however,
more correctly explained, I believe, in No. 280
of Curtis’sBotanical Magazine, where there
is a much better drawing of this plant, “the
Apocynum Androsæmifolium, or tutsan leaved
dog’s bane.”

The author of Les Etudes de la Nature,
who saw this plant in the royal botanic garden
at Paris, where it has long been cultivated,
speaks of it as another Dione; but except in
its quality of catching insects, it has no resemblance
to the plant so called, and is quite of a
different species. The one receiving the flies
on a foliole, or part of the leaf armed with
spines; while this, the Apocynum, takes them
in its cup, or flower; partly by the construction
of the anthers in which the insects get
entangled, and partly by the viscid quality of
the honey-like substance that attracts them.
This curious Apocynum, which is not so common
as it might be made, since it is raised
without much trouble, and will thrive in the
open air, has given occasion to a little Poem,
which I am going to read to you.

O2 O3v 150

Emily—

Oh, thank you, Mamma! I wish
sometimes that I could write Poems as you
and my aunt do, on all sorts of subjects, but
especially flowers and plants.

Mrs. Talbot—

There are many persons who
doubt whether it be a desirable faculty or no.
However as it cannot perhaps be acquired, I
shall be quite content, Emily, if you learn to
describe these subjects of natural history, elegantly
and accurately with your pencil, and if
you will take as much pains to excel in that
art, as may not interfere with other more necessary,
because more useful acquirements.
But now your brother will read the poem.
Come, George, it is not new to you.

George—

No, Mother, I remember having
once heard it. “The Captive Fly.Seduced by idle change and luxury,See in vain struggle the expiring fly,He perishes! for lo, in evil hour,He rushed to taste of yonder garish flower.Which in young beauty’s loveliest colours drest,Conceals destruction in her treacherous breast,While round the roseate chalice odours breathe,And lure the wanderer to voluptuous death.O4r151Ill-fated vagrant! did no instinct cry,Shun the sweet mischief?—No experienc’d flyBid thee of this fair smiling fiend beware,And say, the false Apocynum is there?Ah wherefore quit for this Circean draughtThe Bean’s ambrosial flower, with incense fraught,Or where with promise rich, Fragaria 151.Fragaria vesca, Strawberry. spreadsHer spangling blossoms on her leafy beds;Could thy wild flight no softer blooms detain?And tower’d the Lilac’s —Lilac, Syringa
vulgaris
.
purple groups in vain?
Or waving showers of golden blossoms, whereLaburnum’s —Laburnum, Cytisus Laburnum. pensile tassels float in air,When thou within those topaz keels might creepSecure, and rock’d by lulling winds to sleep.
But now no more for thee shall June uncloseHer spicy Clove-pink, —Clove pink, Q Q1v 170
Dianthus—many species.
and her damask Rose; —Damask rose, Rosa damascena.
Not for thy food shall swell the downy Peach, —Peach, Smygdalus persica. Nor Raspberries —Raspberries, Rubus
idœus
.
blush beneath the embowering Beech.
In efforts vain thy fragile wings are torn,Sharp with distress resounds thy small shrill horn,While thy gay happy comrades hear thy cry,Yet heed thee not, and careless frolic by,Till thou, sad victim, every struggle o’er,Despairing sink, and feel thy fate no more.
An insect lost should thus the muse bewail?Ah no! but ’tis the moral points the taleFrom the mild friend, who seeks with candid truthTo show its errors to presumptuous Youth;From the fond caution of parental care,Whose watchful love detects the hidden snare,O4v152How do the Young reject, with proud disdain,Wisdom’s firm voice, and Reason’s prudent rein,And urge, on pleasure bent, the impetuous way,Heedless of all but of the present day,Then while false meteor-lights their steps entice,They taste, they drink, the empoisoned cup of vice;Till misery follows; and too late they mourn,Lost in the fatal gulph, from whence there’s no return.”

George—

Now I like that better than any
other.

Emily—

And I like it very well: extremely
well, only it is rather too grave.

Mrs. Talbot—

Tell me, Emily, should you
not have preferred the history of some bird,
for birds, I find, are at present very much the
“fashion” with you, as boys say of their sports at
school? Should you not have preferred an
elegy or an eulogium on a bullfinch, to this
somewhat serious poetical lamentation over a
fly, ending with so serious a moral?

Emily—

To say the truth, Mamma, I
should.

Mrs. Talbot—

Well! I have a bird or two
hatching for you, but they are not yet in a state
to make a figure in our Museum of animals.
Let us have recourse therefore to some expedient
to fill up our time, if not our book. O5r 153
Come, read to me Cowper’s translation of Vincent
Bourne’s
verses to the Cricket, in
which, though it is something like sacrilege to
change a word of his, you will see I have made
a few alterations. George can write out the
last poem, while we read this. “The Cricket.Little inmate full of mirth,Chirping on my humble hearth,Wheresoe’er be thine abode,Always harbinger of good,Pay me for thy warm retreatWith a song most soft and sweet,In return thou shalt receiveSuch a song as I can give.Though in voice and shape they beForm’d as if akin to thee,Thou surpassest, happier far,Happiest Grasshoppers that are;Theirs is but a Summer song,Thine endures the Winter long,Unimpair’d, and shrill and clear,Melody throughout the year.Neither night nor dawn of dayPuts a period to thy lay.Then Insect! let thy simple songChear the winter evening long,O5v154While secure from every storm,In my cottage snug and warm,Thou shalt my merry minstrel be,And I delight to shelter thee.”

Emily—

I don’t love crickets Page 154.—Cricket, Gryllus domesticus. much, Mamma,
they are not pretty: and I remember when
we called once at poor old Dame Beech’s cottage,
she complained that ever since the boys
had killed her cat, the crickets over-run her so
that they spoiled every thing.

Mrs. Talbot—

You know you saved a kitten
for her, and I dare say she has no more crickets
now than she wishes to have.

Emily—

Why should she wish to have any?
I should not suppose she has as much taste as
the Poet had for their music.

Mrs. Talbot—

Perhaps not; but you may
remember when we were talking of these insects
one morning, while Mary Ambrose was
in the room helping me to measure some linen,
she said it was “counted,” to use her expression,
“very bad luck indeed when the Crickets
all went away from an house;”
and this
superstition is, I believe, still very general
among the cottagers.

Emily—

What nonsense!

O6r 155

Mrs. Talbot—

I never could hear any reason
assigned for this prejudice; and indeed reason
has nothing to do with such sort of notions,
that are handed down from one uninformed
person to another. I believe the fact is, that
at certain seasons of the year these insects go
into the fields, and assume in some degree the
habits of the Gryllus Campestris, or field
cricket, which we were speaking of a little
while ago.

George—

And which are heard particularly
loud now, Mother. Last night I listened a
long time to the mole cricket and the common
cricket, and was surprised at the loudness of
their noise.

Mrs. Talbot—

It is generally so in hot and
dry weather. In the warmer countries of
Europe, Italy, Spain, and the South of France,
these cicada or cicala make such a clamorous
chirping of an evening, that it is very disagreeable;
and they are less pleasant to hear,
because they are such devourers of the green
leaves, as to disfigure the country, and are
besides very prejudicial.

Emily—

Indeed if we were not going to the
sea side so soon, I should perhaps, Mamma, be O6v 156
a little apt to do that which you have often
said nobody ought to do.

Mrs. Talbot—

Indeed! And pray what is
that?

Emily—

Be discontented with the weather,
Mamma, and murmur at the heat and the dust,
and wish it was Spring or Summer, or even
Winter, rather than this hot dull parched up
Autumn.

Mrs. Talbot—

How foolish to murmur at the
revolutions of the seasons, and how much
worse than foolish to dislike the period when,
in the harvest, God gives to the industry of
man, the support he has worked for throughout
the year!

Emily—

I know it, Mamma, and I don’t
mean to murmur, only there are so few flowers,
the grass is so burnt, and the roads and lanes
so dusty, that it is not pleasant.

Mrs. Talbot—

I allow that the beauty of the
country is greatly injured, yet it is only in very
hot summers that in England the verdure of
the fields is so entirely gone as we now see it.
Sometimes, as in the year 17991799, perpetual rain
renders the country in August as green as it
usually is in May. But the effect of this is far P1r 157
from desirable. I then saw from one of the
Sussex hills many hundred acres of wheat, and
other grain, covered with water. The rivers
overflowed, and swept away the produce of
whole farms; and the sad consequence was,
a scarcity of bread, amounting almost to
famine; a deprivation most severely felt, particularly
among the poor, who, though assisted
by subscriptions, were unable to purchase
enough for the support of their families, so that
sickness soon followed, and a long train of evils.
Let us, therefore, learn to thank God for this
fine weather, and let us see with pleasure and
gratitude the last load of wheat carried by,
dressed with boughs by the little peasant boys,
who are mounted upon it, hallooing and
rejoicing, while the men and women who have
been employed in reaping, binding, and carrying
it, are enjoying by anticipation the harvest
supper; and look forward with still more
satisfaction, to the certainty of having bread
for their children during the ensuing winter.

George—

And that sight, Emily, we may
enjoy this evening, for I have been in the last
field, helping a little, and Master Oakbridge
says he shall finish his wheat by five o’clock P P1v 158
and desired me to come and see them pitch
the last load.

Mrs. Talbot—

Well, go, my Emily, with
your brother; I shall have some papers and
books to look out, and some directions to give
about what I would have done in my absence
from home, but I will meet you on your return
from your walk.

Emily—

I will go, Mamma, certainly; but—

Mrs. Talbot—

But what?

Emily—

Why only, Mamma, you know I
cannot do any good in pitching the wheat as
George can; and it is so hot, I had rather stay
with you.

Mrs. Talbot—

Do as you please, I only
meant your amusement.

George—

Mother, I should like to see the
harvest in France.

Mrs. Talbot—

So should I have done once,
George.

George—

But you have seen it?

Mrs. Talbot—

Never. Tell me however,
what makes you think the harvest there a
spectacle, (to use the phrase of that country
for all sorts of sights) so particularly desirable?

George—

Because they at once collect the P2r 159
three articles which are named in Scripture,
as being necessary to the life of man; corn,
wine, and oil.

Mrs. Talbot—

I admire your reason. But
the fact is not exactly so. The corn in the
northern provinces of France, la récolte, le
moisson, is not gathered much, if at all, earlier
than ours in England; and there are no olive
trees in those provinces, and very few grapes;
I mean comparatively. There are more, and
better grapes than in England, but the wine
is little worth, and very little of it is made.
The peasantry of Normandy are content with
le bon cidre; and it is indeed excellent.

George—

But in the southern provinces?

Mrs. Talbot—

In some of those, as in the
Limosin, there is very little corn, the poorer
classes being very much indebted to the woods
for their support.

George—

To the woods?

Mrs. Talbot—

Yes, they are fed by a bread,
or paste, made of what we call Spanish chesnuts,
159.—Spanish Chesnut, Fagus castanea.
which I am assured is no contemptible
substitute. The wheat they have, however, is
ripe much earlier than with us. The olives
are a late harvest; and the grapes of which P2v 160
wine is made, are never gathered until after
the first frosts. The colour of the wine depends
on the simplest circumstances, as whether the
dew is on or off the grapes when they are
carried to the press. But I have not time now,
my dear children, to tell you the little, that
books have told me on these matters; one day
or other, perhaps, if ever France should be
tranquil, and at peace with us, you may
witness the joyous scene of the vintage, la
Vendange,
in that delicious country.

George—

The olive tree, 160.—Olive-tree, Olea europœa. I think you told me,
was not at all beautiful.

Mrs. Talbot—

I believe it is neither beautiful
individually as a tree, or when grouped;
it is grey, and pale like the willow, but without
the silver lined leaves or flexible branches of
the aquatic. The most beautiful things are
not always the most useful. The history of
the olive tree is worthy, however, of further
investigation, and we must enquire into it more
at leisure. And now, while you, Emily, go
after dinner to your plants, and give your
charge to old David to take care of them,
George will go to the harvest field; and busy
as I am, I will try a sort of impromptu on the P3r 161
subject of our discourse; this autumnal heat
which offends you so much.

George—

Come then, Emily, the sooner we
go the better.

Emily,

returning—

Well, my dear Mamma,
have you in the midst of your packing composed
these verses?

Mrs. Talbot—

I have. They may perhaps
want some polishing, for they are literally an
extempore composition, and here comes George
to read them.

George—

And have you done the stanzas so
soon, Mother?

Mrs. Talbot—

Read them.

George[Speaker label not present in original source]

“The Close of Summer. Farewell ye banks, where late the primrose growing, Among fresh leaves its pallid stars display’d, And the ground-ivy’s —Ground Ivy, Glecoma
hederacea
.
balmy flowers blowing,
Trail’d their festoons along the grassy shade.
Farewell! to richer scenes and Summer pleasures, Hedge-rows, engarlanded with many a wreath, Where the wild roses hang their blushing treasures, And to the evening gale the woodbines breathe. P2 P3v 162 Farewell! the meadows, where such various showers Of beauty lurked, among the fragrant hay; Where orchisOrchis maculata, and others. bloomed with freak’d and spotted flowers, And lychnis 162.Lychnis dioica. blushing like the new born day. The burning dog-star, and the insatiate mower, Have swept or wither’d all this floral pride; And mullien’s —Mullein, Verbascum thapsus. now, or bugloss’ —Bugloss, Lycopsis arvensis. lingering flower, Scarce cheer the green lane’s parched and dusty side. His busy sickle now the months-man wielding, Close are the light and fragile poppies shorn, And while the golden ears their stores are yielding, The azure corn-flowers fall among the corn. The woods are silent too, where loudly flinging Wild notes of rapture to the western gale, A thousand birds their hymns of joy were singing, And bade the enchanting hours of Spring time hail! The stock-dove now is heard, in plaintive measure, The cricket shrill, and wether’s drowsy bell, But to the sounds and scents of vernal pleasure, Music and dewy airs, a long farewell! Yet tho’ no beauteous wreaths adorn the season, Nor birds sing blythe, nor sweets the winds diffuse, This riper period, like the age of reason, Tho’ stript of loveliness, is rich in use.”

Emily—

These will be a great acquisition to
our book, but there are some things mentioned P4r 163
in the lines that I do not quite understand. I
know, I believe, all the flowers; but what is a
months-man?

George—

One who is hired by the farmer,
to work for him for a month, during harvest;
for which time the men have in proportion
more wages, than at any other time of the
year.

Emily—

Well, I understand that; but what
kind of birds are stock-doves?

Mrs. Talbot—

There are in this country,
two or three sorts of wild pigeons and doves.
One is the ring-pigeon, which is called in
Scotland the cushat; it seems to be continually
confounded with the ring-dove 163.—Ring-dove, Columbo palambus. that is often
brought from Spain, and the opposite coast of
Africa, though they do not at all resemble each
other. The most common is the stock-dove, —Stock-dove,
Columbo oenas.

or wood-pigeon, which you hear make a pleasant,
but somewhat melancholy noise during
the summer, and particularly towards its close;
but in September they leave their woodland
retreats, and are heard no more till the following
March, when they return to build in
this country. And now you may amuse yourselves P4v 164
as you please an hour or two, for I am
obliged to attend to a person, who comes to
me on business, which before I leave home
must be settled.

P5r

Notes to Vol. 1.

P5v P6r

Notes to Vol. 1.

Page 2.—Green Chafer, Scarabeus nobilis. 3.—Guelder Rose, Viburnum opulus—a cultivated
variety of the indigenous species.
6.—Shards, Elytra. 8.—Lady-bird, Coccinella—many species. 11.—Snail, Helix. 12.—Plover, Tringa vanellus. 14.—Carp, Cyprinus carpio. —Trout, Salmo fario. Perch, Perca fluviatilis. —Bream, Cyprinus brama.
Minnow, Cyprinus phoscinus.
—Roach, Cyprinus rutilus. 18.—Otters, Mustela lutra. —Badger, Ursus meles. 31.—Heath, Erica—there are five British species. 32.—Wasp, Vespa vulgaris. —Hornet, Vespa crabro. 33.—Hare-bell, Hyacinthus non scriptus. —Broom,
Spartium scoparium.
—Clover, Trifolium pratense.
Woodbine, Lonciera periclymenum.
—Hawthorn, Crategus
oxyacantha
.
—Wild Rose, Rosa canina. —Fox-glove,
Digitalis purpurea.
—Indian Pink, Dianthus chinensis. 38.—Hedge-hog, Erinaceus Europæus. 43.—Pilewort, Ranunculus ficaria. —Daisy, Bellis
perennis
.
46.—Swallow, Hirundo rustica. —Bat, Vespertilis
murinus
.
P6v Page 46.—Nastursium, Trapœolum majus.—This is
one of the flowers which is said to have a sort of glory, or
light halo of fire apparently surrounding it, of an evening
in dry weather—a phenomenon first observed by one of the
daughters of Linnæus. I once thought I saw it in the
Summer of 18021802.
56.—Cocoa, Theobroma cacao. —Bread fruit, Artocarpus
incisa
.
—Sugar cane, Saccharum officinarum. —Indigo,
Indigofera—many species.
—Ginger, Amomum
zingiber
.
57.—Sensitive plant, Mimosa—many species. 58.—Bird of Indian Skies, Paradisea apoda. 59.—Rook, Corvus frugilegus. —Hare, Lepus timidus.
—Pheasant, Phasianus colchicus. —Squirrel, Sciurus
vulgaris
.
—Dormouse, Myoxus muscardinus. —Marmot,
Arctomis marmota.
60.—Rat, Mus decumanus—brown rat. —Mouse, Mus
musculus
.
69.—Wood Strawberries, Fragaria vesea. 77.—Yellow Hellebore, Helleborus hyemalis. —Snow-
drop, Galanthus nivalis.
—Orchis—many species. 78.—Crocus, Crocus vernus. —Hazle, Corylus avellana.
—Sallows, Salix caprea. 80.—Violet, Viola odorata. 84.—Carnation, Dianthus caryophyllus. 84.—Aster chinensis. —Poppy, Papaver somniferum. Sun-flower, Helianthus anorenus. 89.—Lion, Felis leo. —Leopard, Felis leopardus.— —Tiger, Felis tigris. —Rattle-snake, Coluber horridus. 91.—Snake, Coluber natrix, ringed Snake. 92.—Viper, Coluber berus. 94.—Field Cricket, Gryllus campestris. Q1r 169 Page 95.—Locust, Gryllus migratorius. 96.—Horse Ant, Formica Herculanea. —Black Ant,
Formica omnivora.
98.—Fox, Canis vulpes. —Wild Cat, Felis catus.
Weasel, Mustela vulgaris.
—Pole-cat, Mustela putorius. Martin cat, Mustela martes. 102.—Kite, Falco milvus. Sparrow-hawk, Falco nisus.
103.—Tree-creeper, Certhia familiaris. —Woodpecker,
Picus viridis.
109.—Admirable Butterfly, Papilis atalanta. 109.—Nettle Tortoise-shell, Papilis urticæ. 124.—Primrose, Primula vulgaris. —Arum, Arum
maculatum
.
—Anemone, Anemone nemorosa. 125. Sorrel, Oxalis acetosella, Wood Sorrel. Hottonia,
Hottonia palustris
, Water Violet.
Menyanthis,
Menyanthis trifolia
, Buck or Bog-bean.
Lily of the
Valley, Convallaria majalis.
Vinca major and minor,
Perriwinkle.
Orchis apifera & muscifera, bee and fly
Orchis.
Nightshade, Solanum dulcamara. Byronia
dioica
, Byrony.
Clematis vitalba. 125.Digitalis purpurea. —Mullein, Verbascum
thapsus
.
Galium—many species. —Willow-
herb, Epilobium—several species.
Arundo, Reed—
many species.
Nymphea lutea, yellow Water Lily.
Papaver somniferum, Poppy.
—Corn-flower, Centaurea
cyanus
.
146. Wood-lark, Lauda arborea. —Linnet, Tringilla
linota
.
—Thrush, Turdus musicus. —Blackbird, Turdus
merula
.
—Nightingale, Motacilla luscinia. —Robin, Motacilla
rubecula
.
151.Fragaria vesca, Strawberry. —Lilac, Syringa
vulgaris
.
—Laburnum, Cytisus Laburnum. —Clove pink, Q Q1v 170
Dianthus—many species.
—Damask rose, Rosa damascena.
—Peach, Smygdalus persica. —Raspberries, Rubus
idœus
.
Page 154.—Cricket, Gryllus domesticus. 159.—Spanish Chesnut, Fagus castanea. 160.—Olive-tree, Olea europœa. —Ground Ivy, Glecoma
hederacea
.
Orchis maculata, and others. 162.Lychnis dioica. —Mullein, Verbascum thapsus. —Bugloss, Lycopsis arvensis. 163.—Ring-dove, Columbo palambus. —Stock-dove,
Columbo oenas.

End of Vol. 1.

J. Arliss, Printer, 38, Newgate-Street, London.

Q2r Q2v
A1r

Conversations
Introducing
Poetry,
Chiefly on Subjects
of
Natural History,
For the Use
of
Young Persons.

Volume the Second.

London,
Printed for Whittingham and Arliss
I. Bumpus & Sharpe & Son. 18191819.

A1v
B1r

Conversation The Sixth.

B1v B2r

Conversation The Sixth.

A Journey. Mrs. TalbotEmilyGeorge on horseback.

Emily

And so at last we are really on our
way!

Mrs. Talbot —

And perhaps enjoy our present
journey the more, because it has been so
long delayed.

Emily —

My brother seems so happy! and
poor old Dumpling looks so spruce it is quite
a pleasure to see him. How far is it, Mamma?

Mrs. Talbot —

Only sixteen miles; and I
am sorry he cannot go the whole way on
horseback, since he seems so delighted with it.

Emily —

Mamma, may I ask why he cannot?

Mrs. Talbot —

Because of the great expense
of keeping two horses, one for him and another
for the servant, at a place of public resort; where B2v 4
the rich, and those who follow the rich, either
in emulation or for pecuniary advantage, have
made the necessary articles of life so extravagantly
dear, that persons of moderate fortune
are obliged to give up frequenting them, even
when their health may require it. The great
encrease of expense at home is a matter of
serious complaint, but at these places absolutely
ruinous.

Emily —

Oh but then I would go to some
small private village by the sea, where those
people that have so much money do not go.

Mrs. Talbot —

That has been tried but without
success. The merest hovel on the coast,
which hangs out a little board by way of a
sign, is as much the seat of imposition, as the
splendid hotel at the most fashionable bathing
town; and the only difference seems to be,
that in inferior places a great deal is extorted
for bad things, and at a considerable one for
good things. And those who cannot afford
the expense must make up their minds to stay
at home. Just as the daughters of those whose
mothers a few years ago were drawn by four
horses, and whose grandmothers by six, are
now glad to get into a stage-coach.

B3r 5

Emily —

But why, Mamma? Does not the
earth bear the same crops it used to do, and
as much?

Mrs. Talbot —

More, if we may believe all
the improvements that have been made in
agriculture, and rural œconomy of every sort.

Emily —

And what is the reason of it then?

Mrs. Talbot —

The change of manners;
the accumulation of wealth, which has made
a great difference in the value of money;
and wars, which have cost such immense sums
to the nation.

Emily —

I don’t understand it, I am sure:
it seems all a contradiction.

Mrs. Talbot —

It is not necessary you should
understand it yet awhile, my dear Emily, nor
would I have you puzzle your poor little head
about it for a great many years to come: yet
it is necessary that children and young people
should understand why those who would most
gladly gratify them, are compelled to deny
them many little enjoyments, that might a few
years ago have been allowed to the children of
persons in the middle rank of life without imprudence,
or giving them an early bias towards
indulgences, which as they grow up will probablyB2 B3v 6
be even more difficult of attainment than
they are now. It is therefore very material,
my dear Emily, that persons in our situation,
who cannot often go forth in search of remote
pleasures, should acquire an early habit of
finding them at home. And I have endeavoured
to give you, and I hope have succeeded
in giving you a taste for those pure and innocent
enjoyments that are always to be found,
and which not only amuse the passing hour,
but teach us “To look thro’ Nature up to Nature’s God.”

But see, Emily, we are come to the foot of
Mileford hill. It is so steep, that the poor
horses would, I dare say, be very much
obliged to us if we were to save them the labour
of drawing us up.

Emily —

Let us walk then, Mamma. I am
sure I should like it a great deal the best.
Come, my dear George, we are going to walk
up the hill, come and help us out.—Oh! how
delightful it is to walk while the dew is yet on
the ground!

George —

And see those fine cobwebs covered
with dew-drops, like so many globes of silver; B4r 7
how the net work is spun from one of those
furze bushes to the other!

Mrs. Talbot —

And webs of the same fine
structure, perhaps a part of these, carry those
minute spiders into the air, and that also
weave the substance which sometimes is said
to fall in showers, of which in the mornings
and evenings of Autumn there are minute
threads floating, that are sometimes felt against
the face, and is called gossamer.

George —

Gossamer, Page 7.—Gossamer.—Gossamer is the web of a very
small spider. In that entertaining and instructive book,
White’s History of Selborne, is an account of a wonderful
shower of gossamer which fell in and about that village,
on the 1741-09-2121st of September, 1741. The letter containing
the history of this phenomenon concludes thus— “Every
day in fine weather, in Autumn chiefly, do I see those
spiders shooting out their webs and mounting aloft.
They will go off from your finger if you will take them
in your hand. Last Summer one alighted on my
book as I was reading in the parlour; and running to
the top of the page, and shooting out a web, took its
departure from thence. But what I most wondered at
was, that it went off with considerable velocity, in a
place where no air was stirring; and I am sure I did
not assist it with my breath; so that these little
crawlers seem to have, while mounting, some locomotive
power, without the use of wings, and to move
in the air faster than the air itself.”
White’s History of Selborne, p. 192.
you know, Emily, is a
part of the harness of Queen Mab’s chariot. “Her waggon spokes are made of spiders legs,The cover of the wings of grasshoppers,The traces of the smallest spider’s web.”
And that smallest is the insect of the gossamer,
is it not, Mother?

Mrs. Talbot —

I believe so, and I think I
can remember a Sonnet, which I will repeat
to you as we slowly ascend the hill. “SonnetTo the Insect of the Gossamer.Small viewless aeronaut, that by the lineOf Gossamer suspended, in mid airFloat’st on a sun-beam—Living atom, whereEnds thy breeze-guided voyage? With what designB4v8In æther dost thou launch thy form minute,Mocking the eye? Alas! before the veilOf denser clouds shall hide thee, the pursuitOf the keen Swift may end thy fairy sail!Thus on the golden thread that Fancy weavesBuoyant, as Hope’s illusive flattery breathes,The young and visionary Poet leavesLife’s dull realities, while sevenfold wreathsOf rainbow light around his head revolve.Ah! soon at Sorrow’s touch the radiant dreams dissolve.”

Emily —

Explain one thing to me, if you
please, Mamma.

Mrs. Talbot —

Let us sit down then a moment
on this block of stone and rest ourselves,
for to explain and walk up hill too is rather
fatiguing. Now put your question.

Emily —

Why do you call the little spider
an aeronaut? I thought that meant a person
who goes into the air in a balloon.

Mrs. Talbot —

The term was, I rather think,
invented to signify those adventurers who have
learned to float in the air, by means of the air;
for the reason the balloon rises is, that the air
with which it is filled is lighter than the air
we breathe, and which surrounds us. However,
this little insect suspended on an imperceptible
thread, and floating in the regions of B5r 9
boundless space, may not improperly be termed
an aeronaut also.

George —

Mother, I have often thought
how amazing the prospect must be from the
gallery of one of those balloons, and have
wished to go up in one.

Mrs. Talbot —

The prospect must be undoubtedly
magnificent, but I much suspect that
no young aeronaut is sufficiently at his ease
to contemplate it with much calmness. So
my dear George, however I honour your spirit
of enterprize and enquiry, you must at present,
I believe, content yourself with such prospects,
for example, as we can command from this
hill.

George —

And indeed, Mother, it might
satisfy any one, for it is very beautiful.

Mrs. Talbot —

It is certainly; and it is difficult
for any one, who has not been in more
mountainous countries, to imagine any thing
more lovely. Observe how the distant sea
sparkles in the bright beams of the ascending
sun. And even from hence the sails of the
fishing boats, returning with the morning tide,
are distinctly seen.

George —

They look like little white feathers B5v 10
as they catch the light. There is a larger
ship I can distinguish a great deal farther off,
and beyond I can count many more—one,
two, three—I dare say there are at least a
dozen of them.

Mrs. Talbot —

My eyes do not so well assist
me. Those ships, however, which you distinguish,
are probably merchant ships sailing
with convoy, that is a ship of war to fight, in
case they should be attacked by the enemy
as they go down the Channel. The man of
business, or the patriot, glorying in the superiority
which commerce gives to this small
island over those countries, which in natural
advantages are greatly superior, may look with
unalloyed satisfaction at one of these fleets,
sent with the natural produce of this country,
or that which it imports from other quarters
of the world, to the settlements beyond the
Atlantic; but one on whom these considerations
make less impression, than the domestic
comforts and affections, is apt to reflect on the
separation of families, and the many aching
hearts which are left by those embarked in
these vessels, who go, some as military men to
garrison remote colonies, and some on mercantile B6r 11
adventures. But this is a speculation I will
not now indulge. George, does the sea view,
spangled as it now is with small white sails,
bring nothing to your recollection that you
have heard of?

George —

Let me consider a moment. Indeed
I do not immediately remember any
thing.

Mrs. Talbot —

No little Poem that you once
heard, and even learned to repeat and wrote
out in your book, though I do not believe it is
among those Emily has yet in her collection?

George —

Oh yes! I now recall it; the Nautilus, 12.—The Nautilus—Argonauta Argo.—The paper
Nautilus. “This elegant shell is inhabited by an animal
resembling the Sepia octopodia. In calm weather P6v 168
it rises to the surface, and spreads out its arms
over the shell, which serves it for oars; and raising
and expanding a double membrane of wonderful
tenuity, as a sail, it glides along with the breeze.
When danger threatens, it suddenly withdraws into
the shell and sinks to the bottom.”
Elements of Natural
History
, Vermes, p. 384
.
a little poem which my aunt gave
me. But I never wrote it in the book I am
filling now; and you know when I came
home Emily was ill, and did not learn any
for a good while.

Emily —

But you will let me have it now,
Mamma?

Mrs. Talbot —

Assuredly I will; and as
the horses, after they have reached the summit
of the hill, must rest a few moments, we may
have time to give Emily an account of it, and
to recite your aunt’s stanzas.

Of the marine animal she celebrates there
are several species; and the shells of those B6v 12
found in the Indian seas are large and beautiful.
They are highly valued, and made into
drinking cups set in gold by the natives of
some parts of India. The inhabitant is a limax, or sea snail. The nautilus or sailor of
the Mediterranean is smaller, and has the singular
property of spreading a little membrane
like a sail above the surface of the water, and
putting out other filaments, which seem occasionally
to serve him for oars. But the
stanzas themselves tell all this; and when I
saw the fishing boats looking at this distance
not much larger than those little animals,
these stanzas immediately occurred to me. “The Nautilus.Where southern suns and winds prevail,And undulate the Summer seas;The Nautilus expands his sail,And scuds before the fresh’ning breeze.Oft is a little squadron seenOf mimic ships all rigg’d complete;Fancy might think the fairy queenWas sailing with her elfin fleet.With how much beauty is design’dEach channell’d bark of purest white!With orient pearl each cabin lined,Varying with every change of light.C1r13While with his little slender oars,His silken sail, and tapering mast,The dauntless mariner exploresThe dangers of the watery waste.Prepar’d, should tempests rend the sky,From harm his fragile bark to keep,He furls his sail, his oar lays by,And seeks his safety in the deep.Then safe on ocean’s shelly bed,He hears the storm above him roar;Mid groves of coral glowing red,Or rocks o’erhung with madrepore.So let us catch life’s favouring gale;But if fate’s adverse winds be rude,Take calmly in th’ adventurous sail,And find repose in solitude.”

Emily —

I like them very much, though I
do not quite understand what Madrepore is:
is it a sea-weed?

Mrs. Talbot —

It is a zoophyte; by which
I understand is meant that link in the chain
which unites the animal and vegetable kingdoms;
Madrepore, Tubipore, and Millipore,
are corals, the works of sea insects; and Madrepore, of which mention is made in these
lines, has the appearance of a vegetable, in
small plaited or indented cups not bigger than C C1v 14
half a pea, closely adhering together, and
often covers the sea rocks, as mantles of ivy
hang over those on land.

Emily —

Oh! Now I comprehend――

George —

And I think I have seen stones,
and large coarse shells, with something like
what you describe growing upon them.

Mrs. Talbot —

I dare say you have; and
perhaps we shall find some in our walks when
we are on the coast. But our conversation
has been long; and it is now time we proceed;
a few miles farther, George, and you
and Dumpling part.

George —

I shall bear the separation with
great fortitude, Mother, for Dumplin will be
taken good care of at home, and have good
grass to run in; while, you know, I can make
use of my legs to scramble up and down the
rocks, and scamper on these pleasant green
hills, like a mountaineer.

C2r 15

Mrs. Talbot —

Now, since we are a little
refreshed, and have looked about us, let us
avail ourselves of this beautiful evening to
take a walk. Whither shall we go, to the
sea-side or to the hills?

Emily —

To the hills now, Mamma, and the
sea afterwards; because George has just been
down to the sea, and says the tide will not be
down these two hours; and therefore we cannot
walk on the sands yet, and those stones
between the cliffs and the sands do so hurt
one’s feet.

Mrs. Talbot —

Well, then, from the back of
the house we can immediately reach the
down; and here is George coming just in
time to accompany us.

George —

Oh, Mother, what a pleasant
country this is in fine weather! I love the
sea so much, that sometimes I think I should
like to live always upon it.

Mrs. Talbot —

But you would then see no C2v 16
country at all: the green hills, and the woods
you love so much, you would never then
enjoy; for when you happened to go on
shore, it would only be to a port, you know,
which is any thing but pleasant to any of the
senses of a person accustomed to the pure air
and pleasant scenes of the country.

George —

That is very true. I don’t know
that I should like to be a sailor, and to live the
greatest part of my life in a ship; but I should
like to be always within sight of the sea.

Mrs. Talbot —

And so should I, if with it
the pleasures of a garden, and woods, and
shrubberies, could be enjoyed; but on the
bold open coast on this side of England, that
is impossible; for if the salt dews of the ocean
are not, as many persons assert, injurious to
vegetation, the south-west winds are so violent,
that trees hardly ever attain any great size,
and very early in summer their leaves become
brown and withered, and they lose their
beauty.

George —

Well, one cannot have every thing.
Now, I will tell you, Mother, what I should
like best; a cottage a little on the other side,
where a garden might be sheltered, and yet, C3r 17
on walking a few paces, the sea would be
visible from the top of the hill.

Mrs. Talbot —

I always find occasion to
admire your taste, George; but there are objections,
I believe, to such a situation. Water,
I fear, would be wanting, an article of the first
necessity.

George —

I did not think of that, Mother.
But there is, you told me, and indeed I read
a good deal about it, an art called hydraulics,
by which water can be raised to any height.

Mrs. Talbot —

Yes, there is such an art or
science; but the expense attending the necessary
mechanism is so great, that your
cottage would be provided with water, at a
price that would build a palace; and after all,
you would have probably a scanty and precarious
supply.

George —

Well, then I must give up my
cottage in the air, to be sure, Mother.

Mrs. Talbot —

Cottages and castles too,
George, are often built with great pleasure in
the air; but when reason is called in, our
beautiful fabrics tumble to the ground, and
we are under the necessity of being content C2 C3v 18
with a very small part of all the fine things
our fancy furnished us with.

Emily —

And is it not the same thing,
Mamma, in regard to people? You said,
I remember, one day, that one evil of those
books which Miss Levingstone is so fond of
reading, was, that the authors represented
such characters as did not exist in the world,
and that made young people who read them,
discontented with those that really live in the
world.

Mrs. Talbot —

I believe I did say something
like that, Emily; but those characters are
often drawn to show us what we should be:
and if, instead of expecting to find perfect
characters in others, each person endeavoured
to correct his or her own faults, the personages
of real life would oftener than they do
approach those that novelists describe as perfect.
It is very rare that any one is called
upon to exert all the heroism, which is often
given in these books to the principal characters;
but it is in every one’s power to think
justly, and act with integrity and firmness,
and at least to command themselves.

C4r 19

George —

I don’t know whether any persons
are in the world like those that are called
heroes and heroines in those books, but I hope
there are none so wicked and so foolish as
some of the other characters. I took up a
book the other day, which lay on the counter
at Ellis’s, while he was looking out some paper,
and there was a character in it of a Sir Something
Somebody, for all the people had titles
that seemed so wicked, as to be quite out of
all probability; and if any such man was
really in the world, he would be forced to
leave society, for nobody would be found to
keep company with him.

Mrs. Talbot —

I do not know what character
you mean, or what book you allude to, as indeed
I read but few books of that description
now; I cannot, therefore, judge how far your
idea is, or ought to be just; but I am afraid
it too often happens, that those we call the
World
worship circumstance rather than
character; and that few have resolution to
shun vice and folly if they are covered by the
trappings of fortune. Shakspeare, the great
observer of men and manners, says, with too
much truth, C4v 20 “Thro’ tatter’d clothes small vices do appear,Robes and furr’d gowns hide all: plate sin with gold,And the strong lance of justice harmless breaks;Arm it in rags, a pigmy’s spear doth pierce it.”
But we are getting into a grave and satyrizing
vein. It is better, methinks, to admire the
setting sun sinking beneath the horizon, while
all those magnificent clouds, tinged with hues
of crimson, gold, and purple, such as no
human art can give the faintest description of,
change their hues as he recedes.

Emily —

Yes, and it is better, Mamma, for
us to talk of animals and birds. You told me,
I remember, that these pieces of turf, which
seem cut away from the rest, and look
parched and brown, covered holes that had
been made to take wheat-ears, and that great
numbers are caught on these downs. Now,
tell me how that is contrived.

Mrs. Talbot —

Come, George, let us sit
down on this mass of something, which I
doubt whether to call a large stone brought
hither, or a number of stones cemented together
by art, and which was formerly part
of a beacon Page 20.—Beacons.—I have often wished to know, whether
the very large stones of many hundred weight, which
are to be seen on the very highest of the South downs,
within a few miles of the sea, surrounded generally by a
trench, and very different from any stones to be found
within many miles, were not artificial, and made by cementing
a great number of smaller stones together. I
think I have read, that some of the immense circles of
stones supposed to have been the temples of the Druids,
were by some enquirers believed to have been thus composed.
But these are questions which I have generally
been stared at for making.
where signals were lighted. This
high mound of turf that surrounds it will C5r 21
shelter us a little from the ruffling sea wind;
and while you give Emily the history of the
wheat-ear 24.—The Wheat-ear, Motacilla Oenanthe.—These
birds frequent open stony places, warrens, downs, &c.
They build in stone quarries, old rabbit holes, &c. making
their nest of dry grass, feathers and horse-hair.
They lay six or eight eggs. They feed on earth-worms
and flies, and in Autumn, when fat, are esteemed a great
delicacy, and caught in great numbers on the hills between
Eastbourne and those above Brighthelmstone.
They are sometimes caught more to the westward, but
are not found so fat as those taken on the more eastern
downs. The females arrive there in March; the male
birds not till a fornight afterwards; in September they
all disappear. About the stone quarries in Somersetshire, Q1r 169
they are, it is said, observed at all times of
the year, but I do not remember to have heard that they
are taken for the table in any other part of England.
Mr. White in his Natural History calls the Wheat-ear
“the Sussex bird.” It does not seem to be ascertained,
whether or not they migrate to France, or other parts of
the continent.—Some birds seem to be only partially
migrants, and do not all leave the countries where they
are bred.
in prose, I think I can put it into
verse.

George —

But, Mother, your verse will be
so much better than my prose, that I am
sure Emily, as well as I, would rather sit still
and silent, while you compose.

Mrs. Talbot —

Only tell her how the birds
are caught.

George —

Why, you see, Emily, these square
pieces of turf; stay, I can take one out;
these square pieces of turf are cut, and the
earth under them, six or seven inches deep;
then the piece is laid across the hole, so, and
makes a sort of cave; a wire or horse hair
with a noose in it is fixed within, and the
wheat-ears are so foolish as to be afraid of the
least appearance of storm or darkness, so that
every shadow drives them into these holes,
and they run their silly heads into the nooses
and are caught.

Emily —

And do they breed here in England?

George —

Yes, I believe so: the book I have
says, they are seen at all times of the year in C5v 22
some countries, while in others they are not
known at all; but the great numbers, for they
are caught by dozens and dozens to eat, being
reckoned very good, do not appear till some
time in August; and now they are almost out
of season, and you see the traps are not set.
Their nests are made under stones, or pieces
of rock, among rough ground, but these nests
are not often found; and therefore some
people have supposed, as the greatest number
of them are seen about these Sussex downs,
which you know are, except some part of
Kent, the nearest of any part of England to the
coast of France, that they come from thence
to breed, and go back again in winter, because,
like many other birds, they would fare
but badly here, for there are no insects at
that time to feed them, and they live on flies,
gnats, and worms. But my Mother, I know,
has finished her verses.

Mrs. Talbot —

I have; but it is necessary,
as George has so well related the history of
the wheat-ear, or cul-blanc, or at least as
much as is known of it, to tell you, that this
place where we sit, and which is one of
those they much frequent, is one of those C6r 23
circular trenches, in the midst of which a pile
of stone was raised, and on them a fire was
made, to give notice of the approach of an
enemy. Since the art of war has been otherwise
conducted, the same artifice is often
used by smugglers, whose comrades on shore
make these signals to warn them of danger,
in landing their contraband cargoes. This,
you may perhaps recollect, George, I once
explained to you, when you were reading a
poem by Mr. Crowe, called Lewesdon Hill,
celebrating an high hill in Dorsetshire, where,
among other circumstances, he mentions a
place called Burton. “Thee, Burton, and thy lofty cliff, where oftThe nightly blaze is kindled; farther seenThan erst was that love-tended cresset hungBeside the Hellespont. Yet not like that,Inviting to the hospitable armsOf beauty and youth, but lighted up, the signOf danger, and of ambush’d foe to warnThe stealth approaching vessel, homeward boundFrom Havre, or the Norman isles.”

Emily —

But that is not verse.

George —

Yes, it is; it is blank verse: the
same as Milton’s Paradise Lost, you know, C6v 24
and the Task, and a great many other poems
we have read parts of.

Emily —

But what I mean is, that it is not
in measure, in rhyme.

Mrs. Talbot —

In measure, certainly, but
not in rhyme, and that is what distinguishes
it from heroic verse of ten syllables, where the
lines rhyme to each other, or rhyme alternately;
as in that sort of verse in which elegies
are usually written. But we will discuss
this another time.—Here are my rhymes,
which if George can make them out, written
with a pencil, he will read to us.

George[Speaker label not present in original source]

“The Wheat-Ear. From that deep shelter’d solitude, Where in some quarry wild and rude, Your feather’d mother reared her brood, Why, pilgrim, did you brave, The upland winds so bleak and keen, To seek these hills?—whose slopes between Wide stretch’d in grey expanse is seen, The Ocean’s toiling wave? Did instinct bid you linger here, That broad and restless Ocean near, And wait, till with the waning year Those northern gales arise, D1r 25 Which, from the tall cliff’s rugged side Shall give your soft light plumes to glide, Across the channel’s refluent tide, To seek more favoring skies? Alas! and has not instinct said That luxury’s toils for you are laid, And that by groundless fears betray’d You ne’er perhaps may know Those regions, where the embowering vine Loves round the luscious fig to twine, And mild the Suns of Winter shine, And flowers perennial blow. To take you, shepherd boys prepare The hollow turf, the wiry snare, Of those weak terrors well aware, That bid you vainly dread The shadows floating o’er the downs, Or murmuring gale, that round the stones Of some old beacon, as it moans, Scarce moves the thistle’s head. And if a cloud obscure the Sun With faint and fluttering heart you run, And to the pitfall you should shun Resort in trembling haste; While, on that dewy cloud so high, The lark, sweet minstrel of the sky, Sings in the morning’s beamy eye, And bathes his spotted breast. Ah! simple bird, resembling you Are those, that with distorted view Thro’ life some selfish end pursue, With low inglorious aim; D D1v 26 They sink in blank oblivious night, While minds superior dare the light, And high on honor’s glorious height Aspire to endless fame.”

Emily —

Oh, Mamma! I shall at last have
birds in my collection, as well as plants and
animals.

Mrs. Talbot —

I hope so; I know your
aunt is adding to your numbers, and will
bring, or perhaps send them.

Emily —

I hope she will come soon; we shall
then be quite happy.

Mrs. Talbot —

But let us not lose the intermediate
time. Our stay here will not be very
long; many interruptions will occur from the
necessity we shall be under of associating now
and then with such acquaintance as we shall
meet here: the weather is at this season
usually variable; we shall lose some days by
storms, or heavy rain; therefore it is wise to
take advantage of every interval to enjoy the
sea. I see that the tide is now sufficiently
down to allow us to escape the stones, of
which Emily expresses such apprehension,
and which are undoubtedly very uneasy to the
feet. The evening is still bright and lovely; D2r 27
and as we walk, I think I can add to your little
book, by describing in measure— “An Evening Walk By The Sea-Side.Tis pleasant to wander along on the sand,Beneath the high cliff that is hallowed in caves;When the fisher has put off his boat from the land,And the prawn-catcher wades thro’ the short rippling
waves.
While fast run before us the sandling Page 27.—Sandlings, or Sanderlings, Sea Plovers, Sandpipers,
all of the genus, Tringa; these birds, of which
there are many varieties, live on sea insects among the
rocks, and on the sands; many of them appear in March,
and retire in September or October; some remain
throughout the year.
It is usual to see, in certain states of the tide, women
and strong boys wading through the shallow waves;
pushing before them a net, fastened to a pole, to catch
Prawns, Cancer serratus, and Shrimps, Cancer Cragon.
On some part of the coast, the former are caught in
ozier pots placed among the rocks, in the same manner
as for lobsters.
and plover,
Intent on the crabs and the sand-eels to feed,And here on a rock which the tide will soon cover,We’ll find us a seat that is tapestried with weed.
Bright gleam the white sails in the slant rays of even,And stud as with silver the broad level main,While glowing clouds float on the fair face of Heaven,And the mirror-like water reflects them again.How various the shades of marine vegetation,Thrown here the rough flints and the pebbles among,The feather’d conferva 27.Conferva.—Of this sea weed there is great variety.
Some of a deep crimson, others pale red, green,
white, or purple; they resemble tufts, or are branched,
and appear like small leafless trees.
of deepest carnation,
The dark purple slake Slake or Sloke—Ulva umbilicalis. and the olive sea thong. Sea Thong—Fucus elongatus.
While Flora herself unreluctantly minglesHer garlands with those that the Nerieds have worn,For the yellow horned poppy Yellow horned Poppy— Glaucium chelidonium. springs up on the shingles,And convolvulas Convolvulus Soldinella— This plant is not frequent on
the Southern coast, but in the West, and about Weymouth,
it is common.
rival the rays of the morn.
D2v28
But now to retire from the rock we have warning,Already the water encircles our seat,And slowly the tide of the evening returning,The moon beams reflects in the waves at our feet.Ah! whether as now the mild summer sea flowing,Scarce wrinkles the sands as it murmurs on shore,Or fierce wintry whirlwinds impetuously blowing,Bid high maddening surges resistlessly roar;That Power which can put the wide waters in motion,Then bid the vast billows repose at His word;Fills the mind with deep reverence, while Earth, Air, and
Ocean,
Alike of the universe speak him the Lord.”

George —

I think, Mother, you make verses
more easily, and better than ever. Why
these are what is called extempore.

Mrs. Talbot —

Not entirely so, for they cost
me near an hour, but they are on a simple
subject, and one with which I am well acquainted.
On a subject more abstruse, I
should not compose with equal facility. But
you know, George, there are in Italy, and the
Southern Provinces of France, and I believe
also in Spain, persons, who on any give subject
will recite many hundred stanzas of perfectly D3r 29
good rhymes, which they have never
written, or even run over in their own minds.

George —

I remember having read accounts
of them, and that they are called Improvisatori.

Mrs. Talbot —

I do not imagine it to be so
difficult to do this in the language they compose
in, as it would be in English; but to return
for a moment to those verses you have
just heard. Do you understand them?

George —

Yes, I think I do, tolerably well.
Plovers and Sandlings are, I suppose, sea-birds,
those which we actually see on the sands at a
little distance.

Mrs. Talbot —

Birds that live on sea insects.
I know not whether those are the proper names
of the birds which I mean to describe, but they
are the names usually given to them; I rather
think, Sanderling, or Sand-piper, is the name
of one of them, though the fishermen call them Sandlings.

Emily —

And what is the sea-thong?

Mrs. Talbot —

This long weed, which looks
not unlike a dark plaited ribbon. Conferva is
the red branched weed, of which there are
many varieties: and these dark purple weeds D2 D3v 30
are called slake. There are names to all the
fuci, or sea-weeds. The other plants are familiar
to you. I have shown you a drawing
of the chelcidonium, the horned sea-poppy,
and here is a specimen of it, still in flower:
you see on breaking a part of its stalk, there is
a yellow juice exudes from it, just as it does
from the celendine, of which it is a species.
The convolvulus soldinella is more rare, but
extremely beautiful, and grows in some places
almost close to the sea, among the sand. There
also grows the eryngium maritimum, the sea
eryngium, of which the poorer people on the
sea coast make pies. And I have sometimes
found the sea peas, which are said to have
supplied whole parishes with food, in a scarcity
of corn.

Emily —

But you did not name them,
Mamma?

Mrs. Talbot —

I could not enumerate them
all in so short an essay.

Emily —

One question more, Mamma: I
don’t quite comprehend what you mean by
the Nerieds.

Mrs. Talbot —

Your brother will explain it,
but he is looking for shells, of which there are D4r 31
none on this coast that are worth gathering as
being at all curious. So I will tell you, that
there are in heathen mythology divinities
presiding over the different elements. Of
water, the rivers have each their imaginary god;
and thus you know, Grey, in the Ode on the
distant Prospect of Eton College
, addresses the
ideal God of the Thames: “Say, Father Thames, for thou hast seenFull many a sportive race.”
And the Naiads preside over the smaller brooks
and streams. The Nerieds are Sea Nymphs,
attendant on Neptune, the God of the Sea, and
his Queen Amphitrite.

Emily —

Now I comprehend. But all these
imaginary people are difficult to remember.

Mrs. Talbot —

You cannot, however, understand
poetry without knowing the heathen
mythology; for though is is not so often alluded
to in modern poetry as it formerly was
yet there are frequent references to these
beings that were once supposed to direct and
animate the operations of nature. It is growing
late, and I am fatigued. Come, my dear D4v 32
children, let us return to our lodgings. This
has not been an unpleasant, nor I hope an unprofitable
day.

D5r

Conversation The Seventh.

D5v D6r

Conversation The Seventh.

Mrs. TalbotEmily.

Mrs. Talbot

Come, my Emily, let us now
we are returned from our morning’s walk set
about something. The system of idling, or to
use a phrase wholly unknown, I believe, till
these last thirty or forty years, “lounging”, will
not do for us. We must not acquire habits
here, which it would be perhaps difficult to
break through when we return to our quiet home.

Emily —

No indeed, Mamma, I do not find
any such pleasure in this place, as would make
me sorry to go home, if there was no other
reason for our staying here. I do not like the
public walks half so well as a ramble with my
brother on the hills, nor half a quarter so well
as when you walk with us, and instruct us as
to the objects we happen to see.

Mrs. Talbot —

Such a walk I meant to have D6v 36
proposed to-day, after an earlier dinner than
usual; as it is one of those mild autumnal days,
which the French aptly enough call, jours
des dames
because there is neither sun nor
wind.

Emily —

And cannot we be indulged with
this walk, Mamma?

Mrs. Talbot —

Yes, if George returns in
time; but from his not being already at home,
I think it very likely he is gone with the
acquaintance he met yesterday to some distant
village; and if he is, he will be perhaps too
much fatigued for a long excursion after
dinner.

Emily —

Perhaps he is gone out in a boat.
I heard him and his companions talking of
going on the water, and some of them said they
were to have a sailing party very soon, and to
go to fish on some distant rocks.

Mrs. Talbot —

I am sure he is not gone on
such a scheme, because it is one of the things
he has promised me never to do, unless I
knew and approved of it; and George, my
dear Emily, never, as we may be both proud
to say, forgets or breaks a promise given.

Emily —

Indeed, Mamma, I am proud of E1r 37
him; and when I see some other boys of his
age so rude, so ill-natured to their sisters, and
treating them with contempt, or never seeming
to care at all about them, I think myself
a very happy girl to have two such brothers
as Edward and George. Oh! here he comes
to put an end to our conjectures.

Mrs. Talbot —

We began, my dear George,
to think you had made some longer excursion
than usual, as you are later than you usually
are.

George —

I have had a long walk, and I
have seen a sight.

Mrs. Talbot —

Both pleasant, I hope.

George —

Extremely so, indeed. I only wished for you and Emily, and then it would
have been pleasanter still.

Emily —

Tell us what you have seen.

George —

A collection of natural curiosities,
most of them from the East and West Indies.
Birds, shells, fishes, and the dresses and arms
of some of the inhabitants of the South Sea
islands
. They belong to Beechcroft’s uncle,
who lives about three miles off, at a very pretty
house. I told him you were very fond of seeing
such things, and he desired me to tell you, Vol. II. E E1v 38
he shall be very glad if you will call any day
to look over these objects of natural history.
Some of them are foreign birds; among others,
several curious Indian birds.

Mrs. Talbot —

It is exactly what I wished
you might have an opportunity of seeing:
describe some of the birds. Did you see the
least and most beautiful of that species of
creature, the humming bird?

George —

Yes, there were two sorts of them;
one not much larger than a large bumble bee;
another, with a crest upon its head not quite
so big as the golden crested wren. And there
were their nests like little globes of cotton,
and two small eggs in each, white and polished
like ivory, not much exceeding peas in size.

Emily —

Beautiful little creatures! what
colour are they?

Mrs. Talbot —

It is hardly possible to describe
their colour; since it is in some parts
so changeable, and mingled, that it appears
crimson, blue, green, and all these as if laid
on a ground of gold. Much of this varied
elegance, however, is lost, when the bird is
not seen living, because, like the neck of some
pigeons and the plumage of the peacock, it E2r 39
varies with the different lights as the bird
flies. Its little wings vibrate while it feeds
with so quick a motion, as hardly to be perceptible;
and they are seen glittering like
volant gems, among the highly scented glowing
blossoms of the warm countries which
they inhabit.

Emily —

Oh! Mamma, how I should like
to see one living, or rather to see them in
their own country. But are they never
brought hither alive?

Mrs. Talbot —

As they live on the honey
and the sweet juices secreted in the most
odorous flowers, you may suppose that it is
extremely difficult to find any substitute which
will support these little delicate creatures
during a voyage across the Atlantic Ocean;
they are therefore usually shot, for the cabinets
of the curious, with water forced out of a
small tube, as the only means of preserving
their plumes uninjured. And sometimes, as I
have been told, the children of the Negroes
shoot them with small pins. One attempt,
however, to bring an humming bird living to
England was made some years ago by an
Officer of the Artillery. He fed it with sugar, E2v 40
and actually succeeded in keeping it alive till
he reached the residence of the late Duchess
of Richmond, for whom he designed it: but
though he had preserved its fragile life so far,
it expired on the very instant he was presenting
it to the Duchess.

Emily —

How vexed I should have been!

Mrs. Talbot —

It was very disappointing,
though probably no care could long have
preserved it in this climate. The reason, however,
my loves, why I have entered at some
length into the history of the bird is, because
your aunt, in a packet I received from her
this morning, has sent me a very elegant little
poem on the plumed beauty, which was composed
after reading an account of the various
productions of some parts of the West Indies;
and where, among the ornaments of its native
inhabitants, the bright feathers, minute as
they are, of this bird, sometimes make a part.
Uncertain of the day of her arrival, she sent
me this contribution to Emily’s collection of
birds.

George —

How much are we both obliged
to my aunt. It is in that measure too, which
I like so much.

E3r 41

Mrs. Talbot —

Try then to do it justice;
and we must afterwards consider when we
can accept of the invitation you have brought
us, to see the collection which Mr. Beechcroft
has made of so many pleasing objects, and
which you have so opportunely seen.

George[Speaker label not present in original source]

“The Humming Bird. Page 41.—The Humming bird— Trochilus. Natives of
America, and all, except two sorts, of South America.
These beautiful little creatures feed, while, on their
shining wings vibrating with so quick a motion, that it is
not to be perceived, they hang over flowers, of which
they suck the sweet juice—They are courageous, and
fight resolutely against the large spiders that attack their
young—They lay two little pearl-like eggs in a nest made
of cotton—They have an agreeable odour, and seem to
be one of nature’s most finished and beautiful productions
in that class of beings.
Minutest of the feather’d kind, Possessing every charm combin’d, Nature, in forming thee, design’d That thou should’st be A proof within how little space, She can comprise such perfect grace, Rendering thy lovely fairy race, Beauty’s epitome. Those burnished colours to bestow, Her pencil in the heavenly bow She dipp’d; and made thy plumes to glow With every hue That in the dancing sun-beam plays; And with the ruby’s vivid blaze, Mingled the emerald’s lucid rays With halcyon blue. Then placed thee under genial skies, Where flowers and shrubs spontaneous rise, With richer fragrance, bolder dyes, By her endued; E2 E3v 42 And bade thee pass thy happy hours In tamarind shades, and palmy bowers, Extracted from unfailing flowers Ambrosial food. There, lovely Bee-bird! mays’t thou rove Thro’ spicy vale, and citron grove, And woo, and win thy fluttering love With plume so bright; There rapid fly, more heard than seen, Mid orange-boughs of polished green, With glowing fruit, and flowers between Of purest white. There feed, and take thy balmy rest, There weave thy little cotton nest, And may no cruel hand molest Thy timid bride; Nor those bright changeful plumes of thine Be offered on the unfeeling shrine, Where some dark beauty loves to shine In gaudy pride. Nor may her sable lover’s care Add to the baubles in her hair Thy dazzling feathers rich and rare; And thou poor bird, For this inhuman purpose bleed; While gentle hearts abhor the deed, And mercy’s trembling voice may plead, But plead unheard! E4r 43 Such triflers should be taught to know, Not all the hues thy plumes can show Become them like the conscious glow Of modesty: And that not half so lovely seems The ray that from the diamond gleams, As the pure gem that trembling beams In pity’s eye!”

Emily —

Indeed my collection of birds will
at last be superior to my quadrupeds, and insects.
—Those verses are very charming.

Mrs. Talbot —

Perhaps I shall yet contribute
another little poem or two, but I despair
of equalling these. Now however, let us,
if George is not tired, walk towards the hills
this afternnon.

George —

Tired? no, my dear Mother;
when I bathe, and breathe the air of these
hills, I am insensible of all fatigue, and seem
to tread on the clouds.

Evening.

George —

Let us walk to that common, or
heath, which spreads out beyond the windmills
under the downs. I went towards one
of those mills the other day, imagining they E4v 44
were inhabited, but on talking to the miller, I
learned that he does not live there, but only
goes thither occasionally, to grind the corn.

Mrs. Talbot —

And what did you observe?
tell me as we walk.

George —

The miller shewed me the machinery
by which the body of the mill is
moved, as the wind shifts to different quarters;
and how it works the mill, by the action
of those vanes or sails.

Mrs. Talbot —

The same power is applied
to other purposes. Water is often raised by
windmills.—You see how man subjugates all
the elements to his use. Let us, however, at
present, confine ourselves to the objects immediately
before us.—What a vast horizon
this height affords! you now clearly perceive,
that the world is round, since the line, where
the sky seems to meet the water, forms a stupendous
arch.

Emily —

Mamma, I often puzzle myself,
when I think of these things.—I cannot comprehend
how it is, that people who live on
the opposite side of the world do not stand
upon their heads. I don’t at all understand
how it is possible, that this globe should turn E5r 45
on its axis, as you told me it did, so as to make
day and night, without its inabitants being
sensible of the motion.

Mrs. Talbot —

I was, at your age, equally
distressed by all these phenomena, till I was
shewn an orrery; an instrument invented by
a nobleman of that name, or at least under
his patronage; where by means of balls representing
the planets, and moving by clock
work, the revolutions of the heavenly bodies
are described much more clearly than can be
done by any other method. Your brother
will explain this to you, as well as he can, the
first day your time and his admit of it; and
as soon as we are again settled at home, we
will endeavour to enlarge our stock of ideas
on these subjects. Let us now confine our
studies to objects more within our reach at
this moment.

George —

And we shall not want employment,
Emily. How much, Mother, when I
see these views, I regret not being able to put
them upon paper. I am afraid I shall never
draw well.

Mrs. Talbot —

That, my dear George, is
one of the cases in which diffidence is misplaced. E5v 46
You have considerable talents, otherwise
I should not desire you to give up much
time to the pursuit: but I know you have
that disposition towards it, which is usually
called genius; and therefore perseverance,
and attention to rules, will very soon enable
you to excel. But were it even certain that
you would never attain great excellence, I
should still be desirous of your studying the
art, because it at once forms the taste of the
student, and awakens him to a thousand
beauties which common observers do not see,
or see without pleasure. The gradations of
light and shade; the colours that Nature so
harmoniously employs; the beautiful forms
of trees, and the various effects, sometimes
magnificent, sometimes lovely, which are produced
by the simple materials she works with,
Earth, Water, and Wood; the tender hues
and evanescent forms of the clouds, all afford,
to persons who know how to view them with
a painter’s eye, the enjoyment of what I may
call a new sense, unknown to those who have
not a natural or an acquired taste for such
studies. A rude and uncultivated waste, such
as we are now approaching, has as little apparent E6r 47
beauty in the eyes of commom observers
as any tract of land can have: but the
Landscape Painter often prefers rugged
masses of broken ground, covered with rude
plants, to any thing that is presented by the
most polished art, or laboured cultivation.
I recollect, Emily, that some time since, when
we were talking of blank verse, I promised to
compose something for you in that measure:
let us try what can be made of the spot immediately
present to us, and describe “The Heath.Even the wide Heath, where the unequal groundHas never on its rugged surface feltThe hand of Industry, though wild and rough,Is not without its beauty; here the furze, 47.Ulex, Furze. It is in some countries called
Gorse, in others Whin. It is sometimes sown for fences,
and to make coverts for the protection of game; but is
naturally produced on heaths and waste grounds. There
is a dwarf sort of it.—It is sometimes chopped small and
given to horses to eat, and is cut and stacked up, to burn
lime with.
Enrich’d among its spines, with golden flowersScents the keen air; while all its thorny groupsWide scatter’d o’er the waste are full of life;For ’midst its yellow bloom, the assembled chats 47.—Whin Chats, Motacilla rubetra. Stone Chats,
Motacilla rubicola.
Wave high the tremulous wing, and with shrill notes,But clear and pleasnat, cheer the extensive heath. Common Heath, Erica vulgaris. Cross-leaved Heath,
Erica tetralix. Fine leaved Heath, Erica cenerea
Of these last there are varieties, pink, blush colour, and
white—Cornish Heath, Erica, is found only, I believe,
in that county.
Linnets in numerous flocks frequent it too,And bashful, hiding in these scenes remoteFrom his congeners, (they who make the woodsAnd the thick copses echo to their song)The heath-thrush makes his domicile; and whileHis patient mate with downy bosom warmsE6v48Their future nestlings, he his love lay singsLoud to the shaggy wild—the Erica here,That o’er the Caledonian hills sublimeSpreads its dark mantle, (where the bees delightTo seek their purest honey), flourishes,Sometimes with bells like Amethysts, and thenPaler, and shaded like the maiden’s cheekWith gradual blushes—Other while, as white,As rime that hangs upon the frozen spray.Of this, old Scotia’s hardy mountaineersTheir rustic couches form; and there enjoySleep, which beneath his velvet canopyLuxurious idleness implores in vain!Between the matted heath and ragged gorseWind natural walks of turf, as short and fineAs clothe the chalky downs; and there the sheepUnder some thorny bush, or where the fernLends a light shadow from the sun, resort,And ruminate or feed; and freqent thereNourish’d by evening mists, the mushroom 48.—Mushroom, Fungus, Agaric—Of these there is an
infinite variety, but one only is usually eaten in England.
Though the Italians, French, and more particularly the
Russians, consider as very excellent food many Fungusses
which we think unwholesome, and turn from with disgust.
It is certain, however, that several of them are of a poisonous
quality.
spreads
From a small ivory bulb, his circular roofThe fairies fabled board—Poor is the soil,And of the plants that clothe it few possessSucculent moisture; yet a parasiteClings even to them, for its entangling stalkThe wire-like dodder Page 48.—Dodder, Cuscuta—There are of this plant
two sorts, the greater and lesser Dodder. It supports
itself on the sap of the plant to which it adheres.
winds; and nourishes,
Rootless itself, its small white flowers on them.So to the most unhappy of our raceThose, on whom never prosperous hour has smil’d,Towards whom Nature as a step-dame sternHas cruelly dealt; and whom the world rejectsTo these forlorn ones, ever there adheresSome self-consoling passion; round their heartsF1r49Some vanity entwines itself; and hides,And is perhaps in mercy given to hide,The mortifying sad realitiesOf their hard lot.”

Emily —

Dear Mamma! And did all that
come into your head at once?

Mrs. Talbot —

It is nothing very wonderful,
Emily. When there is no occasion to
distort or invert the sense for the purpose of
making the closes rhyme, it is not difficult to
compose in that way, which Dr. Johnson said
was “verse only to the eye;” I mean, that
it is not difficult to put together a certain
number of words which shall be sense; but
to compose good blank verse, which must be
done by varying the pauses, and by a great
deal of study and pains, is not at all easy.
I pretend not to do that. I cannot, like
Milton, “pour out my unpremeditated verse”
in that way, though I can sometimes do it in
Lyrical or Heroic verse, with some facility.
All I meant was, as we were speaking of blank
verse a few days ago, to give you in that
manner a slight sketch of an heath, and some
of its inhabitants.

George —

There are at this moment a great F F1v 50
number of the birds you mention; whin chats
they are called in the book I have; and there
is also another bird greatly resembling it that
lives on heaths, called the stone chat. See,
they sit on the highest points of the furze,
and flutter their wings, and sing or rather
chirp with a pleasant sort of note.

Mrs. Talbot —

You may see also some of
the linnets already, though the great flocks
that frequent these downs and heaths do not
assemble till a rather later period of the year.
I have seen them like small clouds covering
those tracts of land, which, after having been
ploughed three or four years, are thrown up
again, and are then covered with thistles, on
the seeds of which the linnets, as well as gold-
finches, feed: but look, Emily, for the dodder;
I believe it is not yet quite out of bloom.

George —

Here, Emily, is a knot of it; you
see it has twisted itself so strongly round those
branches of dwarf furze, that it is hardly possible
to get it off.

Mrs. Talbot —

You may perceive, perhaps,
that my comparison is not unapt; and we
frequently observe prejudices and conceits
adhere to the human heart, which are as little F2r 51
supported by reason as this singular parasitical
plant is by the earth nourishing its own
roots; but I allow that there are some harmless
errors which hurt nobody, and are rather
to be rejoiced in, if they conceal from persons
who hold them any mortifying truth; and if
such misconceptions are not offensive or injurious
to others. The poor dwarf, whose
misfortunes, those of having a person hardly
human, and being in the lowest state of poverty,
so strongly excited your compassion yesterday,
especially when those ill-bred and unfeeling
young women we met appeared to be
so highly amused by his calamitous appearance;
even that poor little ill-fated being does
not think himself by any means so contemptible,
but has been known to save the small
earnings which he gets by carrying out parcels
for the market people, or the money bestowed
on him by the charitable, to purchase
something like finery, a frill to his shirt, or a
ribbon for his hair, and a puffed neckcloth, in
which he has often exhibited himself at church,
with as much apparent satifaction as a fine
man struts up Bond-street, who fancies himself
remarkable for some new and striking F2v 52
absurdity in his dress, or because he has done
something which is the topic of conversation,
and for which he probably deserves to be expelled
from society.

Emily —

I dislike such people, and do so
hate to hear about them! Pray, tell me
rather about birds. I did not know there was
a thrush that lives on heaths.

Mrs. Talbot —

Yes, there is such a bird;
and his song is said to excel greatly that of the
thrush we hear in our thickets in the Spring.
Perhaps you have not forgotten Thomson’s
beautiful lines on the birds?

Emily —

O no, Mamma.

Mrs. Talbot —

Well! but that description
does not of course enumerate the varieties of
different species of birds. Of thrushes, for
example, there are four or five sorts. I left
you this morning with a promise to consider
of some other subjects for our little Poems;
and I began to recollect what was most likely
to answer our purpose. The nightingale has
been sung in every language of Europe, even
to satiety; and you know there are innumerable
verses, and fables in English and
French, relating to the nightingale; and there F3r 53
are also some wild and beautiful fictions of
the Eastern poets. It would, therefore, be
difficult to find any thing new to say of that
most charming of our feathered musicians;
but there is a bird, which, if it does not sing
so exquisitely, is yet usually heard with great
pleasure, since it announces the approach of
spring, even before the earliest plants appear,
and often in the first days of January. It is
also a thrush, the largest of English singing
birds, and feeds much on the berries of missletoe;
and because of its loud notes from the
top of some high tree, in blowing, or showery
weather, the country people in Hampshire
and Sussex call it the storm-cock.
George will read what I have written upon it.

George[Speaker label not present in original source]

Ode to the Missel Thrush. 53.—Missel Thrush, Turdus visivorus. Mr. White,
in his account of singing birds, puts this among those
whose song ceases before Midsummer. It is certainly an
error. This remarkable bird, which cannot be mistaken
for any other, began to sing so early as the second week
in January; and I now hear him uttering a more clamorous
song, the --07-088th of July, between the flying showers.
Whenever the weather is windy or changeable, he announces
it by a variety of loud notes. There is only
one bird of this kind within hearing, who sang last year
to the beginning of August. His food consists of berries
and insects, but principally the former. The fruit of
the Hawthorn, Mesphilus, Elder, Sambucus, Spindletree,
Euonymus, Sloe, Prunus, and Holly, Ilex, occasionally
supply him; but the Missletoe, Viscum, from
whence he takes his name of viscivorous, is his favourite
food. As bird-lime is often made of its glutinous berries,
and this Thrush is supposed to encrease the Missletoe by
depositing the seeds he has swallowed on other trees, he
is said, in a Latin proverb, to propagate the means of his
own destruction.

The Winter Solstice scarce is past,

Loud is the wind, and hoarsely sound

The mill-streams in the swelling blast,

And cold and humid is the ground.

When, to the ivy, that embowers

Some pollard tree, or sheltering rock

The troop of timid warblers flock,

And shuddering wait for milder hours.

F2 F3v 54

While thou! the leader of their band,

Fearless salut’st the opening year;

Nor stay’st, till blow the breezes bland

That bid the tender leaves appear:

But, on some towering elm or pine,

Waving elate thy dauntless wing,

Thou joy’st thy love notes wild to sing,

Impatient of St. Valentine!

Oh, herald of the Spring! while yet

No harebell scents the woodland lane,

Nor starwort fair, nor violet,

Braves the bleak gust and driving rain,

’Tis thine, as thro’ the copses rude

Some pensive wanderer sighs along,

To sooth him with thy cheerful song,

And tell of Hope and Fortitude!

For thee then, may the hawthorn bush,

The elder, and the spindle tree,

With all their various berries blush,

And the blue sloe abound for thee!

For thee, the coral holly glow

Its arm’d and glossy leaves among,

And many a branched oak be hung

With thy pellucid missletoe.

Still may thy nest, with lichen lin’d,

Be hidden from the invading jay,

Nor truant boy its covert find,

To bear thy callow young away;

So thou, precursor still of good,

O, herald of approaching Spring,

Shalt to the pensive wanderer sing

Thy song of Hope and Fortitude.

F4r 55

George —

I remember very well, Mother,
hearing that bird last year, and that you gave
me White’s History of Selbourn to read an
account of it. There it is related, that the
missel thrush is of a very courageous nature,
and drives away from its neighbourhood
many larger birds, which would molest his
young. An instance, however, is told, in
which this bravery availed nothing. A missel
thrush had built in a garden, where he was
often assailed by the jay, magpye, and other
birds larger than himself; against these he
resolutely defended his family, but at length
a great many jays came upon the unfortunate
bird together, overpowered him and his mate
by their numbers, tore the nest to pieces, and
destroyed the young without mercy.

Emily —

Hateful! I shall always detest
those jays, though they are so beautiful,
particularly in the blue shaded colours of
their wings, that it is quite a pleasure to look
at them.

Mrs. Talbot —

Beauty is no apology for
such ill qualities as they possess. They are
not only most oppressive foes to other birds by
destroying their young, but they do a great F4v 56
deal of mischief in the kitchen garden. Our
pease, our currants, and raspberries, they appropriate
without ceremony; and ducklings,
and young chickens, are equally exposed to
their attacks.

George —

There is a jay in Mr. Beechcroft’s
collection, which came from the East Indies;
it is a great deal larger than those in this
country, and has a crown of blue feathers on
the head. There is also a very beautiful bird,
called the oriole, which are plentiful in France,
he told me, and are sometimes, though very
rarely, seen in England. There are other birds
from America, and all the different regions of
Asia: Rice birds, and Java-Sparrows, and
many, whose names I have not been able to remember.

Mrs. Talbot —

Well, we shall see them all
in a day or two, and they will serve to bring
to our recollection those we saw at the Leverian
Museum
. I cannot, however, say, that I feel
as much pleasure in the contemplation of these
objects, however beautiful, as I do in looking
at a collection of plants. The birds, or insects,
or quadrupeds, though they may be very well
preserved, lose that spirit and brilliancy, which F5r 57
living objects only can possess. The attitudes
of the birds are stiff and forced, and without
their natural accompaniments. Their eyes
are seldom so contrived as to resemble those of
the living bird; and altogether, their formal or
awkward appearances, when stuffed and set on
wires, always convey to my mind ideas of the
sufferings of the poor birds when they were
caught and killed, and the disagreeable operations
of embowelling and drying them. Quadrupeds,
which are for the most part larger, are
still more difficult subjects to preserve well;
and insects, taken for the collections of the
curious, must probably have resigned their
short lives in some degree of suffering, which
nature would not have inflicted. But a collection
of plants offers only pleasing ideas:
even the most common, that spring up under
our feet, and are thrown from our gardens as
weeds, are many of them very elegant, and
others are of medical utility. I cannot say that
I think the pleasure of botanizing destroyed, by
considering plants as convertible into drugs;
on the contrary, I reflect with satisfaction, that
objects so beautiful in themselves, are also
endowed with the power of alleviating pain, or F5v 58
diminishing fever. And when I am sick, much
of the disgust which the taste of medicine
excites, is conquered, when I know, that what
is proper for me to take is only the roots, bark,
flowers, leaves, or seeds of a plant. To the
vegetable kingdom we are indebted for most
of the conveniences and comforts of life.
Except carpets, and those articles which must
bear the fire, our rooms are furnished with the
produce of vegetables. Even silk, which in
noblemen’s houses, or those of persons of
fortune, is used for furniture, is only a modification
of the vegetable juices of the mulberry,
passing, by a wonderful contrivance of nature,
through the manufacturing organs of a moth.
There is, you perhaps remember, since I think
we lately met with it in the course of our reading,
an oriental proverb, or aphorism, that says:
“By patience and industry, the mulberry
leaf becomes silk.”

This may serve as a subject for a little poetical
essay, hereafter; at present, I will read
to you an ode, or address, to a plant, little
known but by its product in this country. I
mean the Olive, 61.—The Olive tree, Olea Europa. Oil, however
useful, either at our tables or in the Materia Medica,
is yet more so on the continent: a Spanish table presents
almost every kind of food prepared with oil. It is
also much used in Italy and the South of France; and I
have known English people, after a long residence in
those countries, declare, that being accustomed to eat
fine and pure oil, they had no longer any wish for the Q2v 172
indispensible article of English luxury, butter. The inflammation
arising from the stings of venomous reptiles
or insects is removed by an application of olive oil. If
poured on the water, it makes the rough waves subside.
Olives are planted in little groves, round the farms, or as
they are there called Bastides, in the South of France.
which is, you know, cultivated
in Spain, Italy, and the southern provinces of F6r 59
France, where it supplies to the cultivators,
the want of butter, and other requisites for the
table, which are, to a certain degree, denied
them by the heat of the country, and forms
also a valuable staple of commerce. Oil is, as
you, George, remarked, one of the blessings of
life enumerated in Scripture; and in stories
like the Arabian nights, you often hear of it
among valuable merchandise, and articles of
luxury or use. You know, that the olive-
branch is a symbol of peace; and that it is
given in fabulous story to Minerva, who,
notwithstanding she is called the Martial Maid,
would hardly have deserved the superior
appellation of the Goddess of Wisdom, if she
was not supposed to prefer the Olive to the
blood-stained Laurel of Victory. The tree,
like some characters in human life, is rather to
be admired for good than brilliant qualities:
it is by no means handsome, the form neither
majestic nor elegant, the leaves narrow, and
of a dull colour, and the blossom small and
white: even in groups, or small groves, as it is
planted about the farms in the south of France,
it adds no beauty to the landscape. Under all
these disadvantages of figure, however, we will F6v 60
give it a place among our plants; and we must
suppose it the accompaniment of scenery in
one of the most southern provinces of France,
since I am better acquainted with that part of
the world than with Italy or Spain; though I
have often thought much of the pleasure
derived from reading Spanish stories arises from
the description of the country. I like to
imagine Don Quixote and Sancho, with their
borachio, or goat-skin, filled with wine, carefully
provided by the latter, sitting under the
shadow of spreading chesnut trees. Or Gil
Blas
and Fabrice, eating the remains of the
hare they had dined upon under a tuft of cork
trees, at the foot of a rock; for while the
wearisome descriptions that we read in many
works of imagination displease, because we
feel that they are only tawdry copies; the
simplest sketch which gives us an idea of truth
and reality, makes the figures it presents appear
with greater effect, and puts the scene and the
persons immediately before us. But this is a
digression: let us return to my Ode. G1r 61 “Ode to the Olive Tree.Although thy flowers minute disclose,No colours rivalling the rose,And lend no odours to the gale;While dimly thro’ the pallid greenOf thy long slender leaves, are seenThy berries pale.Yet for thy virtues art thou known,And not the Anana’s burnish’d cone,Or golden fruits that bless the earthOf Indian climes, however fair,Can with thy modest boughs compare,For genuine worth.Man, from his early Eden driven,Receiv’d thee from relenting Heaven,And thou the whelming surge above,Symbol of pardon, deign’d to rearAlone thy willowy head, to cheerThe wandering dove.Tho’ no green whispering shade is thine,Where peasant girls at noon recline,Or, while the village tabor plays,Gay vine-dressers, and goatherds, meetTo dance with light unwearied feetOn holidays;Yet doth the fruit thy sprays produce,Supply what ardent Suns refuse,Nor want of grassy lawn or mead,GG1v62To pasture milky herds, is found,While fertile Olive groves surroundThe lone Bastide.Thou stillest the wild and troubled waves,And as the human tempest ravesWhen Widsom bids the tumult cease;Thee, round her calm majestic browsShe binds; and waves thy sacred boughs,Emblems of Peace!Ah! then, tho’ thy wan blossoms bear,No odours for the vagrant air,Yet genuine worth belongs to thee;And Peace and Wisdom, powers divine,Shall plant thee round the holy shrineOf Liberty!”

George —

I like the Olive as you have described
it, my dear Mother, notwithstanding
it wants beauty in its original form.

Mrs. Talbot —

Your approbation is pleasanter
to me, George, than that of many
more profouund judges, though you certainly
are not an impartial critic. But now our
friends, after all the delays we have experienced
and regretted, will, I hope, so soon join us,
that we shall have only two or three poetical
lessons more; and one of those I intend
chiefly to employ in a little composition G2r 63
which may serve to reconcile Emily to the
necessity of learning the heathen mythology,
that she may understand many poems and
histories, which, without some degree of that
knowledge, must be incomprehensible.—For
to-night, my dear loves, adieu.

G2v G3r

Conversation The Eighth.

G2 G3v G4r

Conversation The Eighth.

Mrs. TalbotEmilyGeorge.

Mrs. Talbot

This, my dear children, is
one of those days when we must depend on
ourselves to furnish amusement within the
house; for, by the present appearance of the
clouds, there is but little probability of our
enjoying a walk.

George —

There were a few persons down
on the beach early this morning, and one or
two proposed to go into the sea, but the men
refused to go with them, and said it was not
safe.—There were two or three others, eagerly
enquiring of the bathing men, and the fishermen,
whether it would clear up; and they
seemed very much out of humour, when
they were told, that there was every appearance
of stormy weather for at least the next
four and twenty hours.

G4v 68

Mrs. Talbot —

They had some match at
cricket, or with their horses I suppose, upon
the hills, which made them so anxious, and
probably they were of a race of beings who
find their existence rather tedious in very bad
weather, because they do not know what to
do with themselves, unless they are galloping
about.

George —

But Mother, the library was quite
full this morning.—I suppose the people went
to get books for the rest of the day?

Mrs. Talbot —

Some, undoubtedly, applied
to that resource; but if the library was
crowded, it is most likely there were more
loungers than readers. And I suspect, that if
the billiard-room had been looked into, you
would have seen it more occupied than the
library, and with persons more eagerly engaged.

Emily —

I wish, Mamma, I knew what
pleasure can be found in rolling or pushing
those red and white balls about upon a table
covered with green cloth.

Mrs. Talbot —

The pleasure is that, which
all games of chance, and still more of skill,
afford, something to engage the attention, and G5r 69
get the time passed by, without any other reflection.
The avaricious, and the necessitous,
(and professed gamesters are generally both)
are actuated by the hope of winning, and all
the wit they have, is collected to enable them
to succeed. Many men who are seen at places
of public resort, and who make splendid figures,
have no other resources than they obtain by
their knowledge of these games. And many
an unhappy desolate young person, date the
commencement of their indigence and dependence,
from the time their parents became
addicted to the ruinous passion for gaming.
You enquire what pleasure pushing these balls
about can afford; which probably struck you,
as not being a very entertaining method of
passing the time, because you never happened
to have seen it till lately; while, perhaps,
Emily, it never occurred to you, to enquire
what great satisfaction could be found in
looking at, and sorting pices of thickened
paper, painted with ugly figures. Yet in that
occupation, many of my acquaintance, who
are, notwithstanding, “mighty good sort of
people,”
pass near half their lives.

Emily —

You mean playing at cards.

G5v 70

Mrs. Talbot —

Yes; yet cards, and every
amusement of that sort, are innocent, if they
are used only as such, and do not engross the
thoughts, or impair the fortunes of those who
are attached to them. They are, merely as
an amusement of the affluent, no more to be
condemned, than passing hours and days in
flying about from place to place, only because
such and such people frequent these places;
or than driving round London in search of
bargains, or in hunting after fashions, which
many women make the business of their lives.
All those who have money, and time to dispose
of, have not a taste for books; and many
would think it the severest punishment that
could be inflicted on them, were they obliged
to pass their hours in reading; these persons
of either sex, must have something to fill up
their hours, and some motive stronger than
that of enjoying each other’s conversation, to
bring them together.

Emily —

It is very dull though, Mamma,
to the sitters-by; and I must say, I have
hated to see people so earnest round a card-
table, ever since I was so tired when I was
with you once for two days at Lady H’s. I G6r 71
remember nobody dared to speak; and there
was an old, little, odd, cross looking gentleman
there, who frightened me with his fierce looks,
though I hardly ventured to breathe, when I
was told that he could not bear the least disturbance
when he was at cards.

Mrs. Talbot —

That little, odd, cross old
man, who, in fact, Emily, is not old, but in
the apprehension of the very young, is a man
of great talents, a Statesman, a man capable
of directing the government of kingdoms; and
the amusement he was pursuing was merely
the necessary relaxation, as he says, from severe
application. There was not one of that
party, which you thought so formidable, but
what were really very worthy people; and
none of them come under the description of
professed gamesters. I am persuaded that
every one of them would have given their
winnings most readily to any indigent fellow
creature; for I have known each do occasional
acts of kindness of that sort; though, perhaps,
none of them would have taken much trouble
to find out distressed objects, or have thought
of them beyond the moment when their
bounty was asked for; but we must not G6v 72
expect, that such characters as are represented
in books, who are always on the alert to execute
extraordinary acts of benevolence, are
very frequently found. Nor should we in an
every-day life, suppose we are to meet with
remarkable instances of perfection; though
we must endeavour ourselves to attain it, as
far as our situation in life will allow us.

Emily —

But, Mamma, you never play at
cards.

Mrs. Talbot —

I never play, because I cannot
keep up my attention; and therefore,
while the attempt punishes me, my inability
is very likely to disturb those I am at play
with. Another reason is, that I know myself
very unlikely to win, and cannot afford to
lose even small sums. And it is for these
causes, among others, that I should not, if I
lived in what is called the world, mix in
society where there is much play.

George —

But, my dear Mother, you said
you were tired, when you went to what is
called a conversation.

Mrs. Talbot —

Indeed, George, I was;
though the persons collected, were all of them
remarkable for some talent, and were chiefly H1r 73
ranked among the literati. But the time
passed at first, in listening to the sententious,
though common place remarks of a lady who
is considered as a sort of Sybil, a poetess, and
a prophetess, and who talked at, rather than
to the rest of the company; and when she
withdrew, after telling us the charitable mission
she was going upon, the greater part of
the remaining company, as if to make themselves
amends for the awful silence they had
been compelled to observe, began to talk together.
I remember in a periodical paper, (that
called the World, I believe,) a letter from a
man, who had passed his whole life in the
miseries of dependence, as an humble hearer,
and who at length becoming deaf, thought
himself better qualified than ever for that
post; and in the assembly you mention,
amidst all the loud talking, much of which
sounded to me too much like wrangling, I
wished to have been for a time in the situation
of that patient sufferer, so little was I
edified by the conversation of these “very clever”
people; while I envied the powers of abstraction,
possessed by one of the company, who
fairly fell asleep, after having made some Vol. II. H H1v 74
ineffectual attempts to fasten himself, in the
way of argument, on some other man whom
he could consider as worthy of the intellectual
exertion he was disposed to make.

George —

Mother, those people would have
been better employed at cards than in being
so uncivil to each other.

Mrs. Talbot —

Good breeding, is not, however,
much exerted at the card-table, George;
for I have heard quarrels there which would
have been quite alarming, had the disputants
been less in habits of affronting each other in
the same way every night. Nor were my
acquaintance, the men of talent, at all civiller
to each other: they seemed to consider conversation
as a continual trial of the strength of
their lungs rather than of their understandings,
for every one appeared determined to
enforce attention by talking as loud as he
could. But we have wandered to a great distance
from the enquiry I was going to make
of you; what provision you had been able to
make for me against a stormy day, in a place
where I have no books of my own?

George —

First, then, Mother, here are the
first volumes of three novels, which the master H2r 75
of the shop assured me were all excellent, and
just new from London.

Mrs. Talbot —

Alas! George, I see already
that I cannot read any of them. The first is
a clumsy attempt at satire, by a good lady
who uses coarsely, and I should think ineffectually,
that weapon against vices and errors,
of which, though some resemblance to them
do exist in real life, she draws hideous caricatures.
The second is an absurd assemblage of
supernatural horrors, and would, from its
extravagance and tediousness, be rejected by
even the most depraved taste in this kind of
reading. And the last is a wretched and
bald translation, performed at so much a sheet,
by some person compelled, through necessity,
to do into English, by the aid of a dictionary,
a French novel of no value in the original
language. Have you nothing else for me?

George —

Yes, Mother, though I know you
have one or more volumes, among your books,
of Burn’s Poems, I was not sure you had
seen these which are printed with an account
of his life, and many of his letters.

Mrs. Talbot —

I have them at home, George;
but the poetry of Burns, though all of it is H2v 76
not exactly desirable for our present poetical
studies, is much of it so excellent, and so truly
the production of original genius, that I am
never weary of reading it. You are already
acquainted with several of his most celebrated
pieces. You shall now read to me a poem,
printed in the third volume, I think, of this
edition, which, though not equal to the
Cotter’s Saturday Night,
and some other of
his pieces, is expressive of his feelings and
sentiments, and, however unequal to the
highest efforts of his extraordinary talents,
is infinitely above the generality of those productions
which are every day so highly extolled.
Burns was really, what so many others
have very slender pretensions to be; he was
born a poet, and perhaps unfortunately for
him, individually, his genius was powerful to
attract notice, and force him at once from the
humble obscurity, where he would have been
among “the mute and inglorious” men of
extraordinary talents, who probably are born
from time to time, and die unknown and unheard
of, in every rank of life. Here are the
verses I mean; read them to me. They are
entitled,

H3r 77

On Scaring Some Water-Fowl in Loch
Turit
.

A Wild Scene Among the Hills of Oughtertyre.

George

George

Why, ye tenants of the lake,

For me your watry haunts forsake?

Tell me, fellow-creatures, why

At my presence thus you fly?

Why disturb your social joys,

Parent, filial, kindred ties?

Common friend to you and me,

Nature’s gifts to all are free:

Peaceful keep your dimpling wave,

Busy feed, or wanton lave;

Or, beneath the sheltering rock,

Bide the surging billows shock.

Conscious, blushing for our race,

Soon, too soon, your fears I trace;

Man, your proud usurping foe,

Would-be lord of all below—

Plumes himself in Freedom’s pride,

Tyrant stern to all beside.

The Eagle from the cliffy brow,

Marking you his prey below,

In his breast no pity dwells,

Strong necessity compels.

H2 H3v 78

But Man, to whom alone is given

A ray direct from pitying Heaven,

Glories in his heart humane,

And creatures for his pleasure slain.

In these savage liquid plains,

Only known to wandering swains,

Where the mossy rivulet strays,

Far from human haunts and ways;

All on Nature you depend,

And life’s poor season peaceful spend.

Or if Man’s superior might,

Dare invade your native right,

On the lofty ether borne,

Man with all his powers you scorn;

Swiftly seek on clanging wings,

Other lakes and other springs,

And the foe you cannot brave,

Scorn at least to be his slave.

Emily —

Mamma, may I make one remark?

Mrs. Talbot —

Certainly, Emily, I wish always
to hear your remarks.

Emily —

It is, then, that there are two lines
in those verses, very like, indeed, to some
which your wrote on the hedgehog.

George —

Yes, so there are, Emily; and
yet I fancy, Mother, you never thought of
them at the time.

H4r 79

Mrs. Talbot —

I assure you I did not; nor
do I recollect having read these verses of
Burns, at least these five years. But nothing
is more usual, than for the same train of
thought to produce in poetry, lines greatly resembling
each other, of which I could give
you many instances of more importance than
my little unintentional plagiarism.—I am very
well pleased, however, to see this instance of
observation. It encourages me to continue
our poetical attempts. Last night, after our
return from seeing Mr. Beechcroft’s collection
of specimens in natural history, I was
considering what a different figure the Fire-fly,
the Fulgora, made in its then state, from that
it naturally bore in its own country; illuminating
the magnificent woods of Jamaica, or
Vera Cruz.—It brought to my mind, the
many light and shewy characters, that continually
arise, are wondered at, and forgotten.
These ideas gave rise to a few stanzas, which I
will read to you; but that you may understand
them, I must give you a slight drawing of the
country in which the insect is produced. The
Mahogena, or Swietan, called so after a celebrated
Swedish botanist, in honour of his H4v 80
native land; the Guazuma, or great Cedar;
the Pimento, and other immense trees, form
extensive woods, overshadowing the higher
parts of the island of Jamaica. Among these
woods, are rocky eminences from whence flow
rapid streams of water; and there are tracts
where these waters, swelled by the equinoctial
rains, have worn vast trenches in the earth;
the sides of which, being full of trees and
brushwood, these cavities, as well as rocky
hollows and caves in the mountains, frequently
become the hiding places of fugitive negroes;
and there several sorts of monkies, the great
bat, or vampyre, and other animals, find refuge.
Round the houses, the scene is softened
by avenues of cocoa trees, or Palmetos; and
amidst plantations of the maize, or Guinea
corn, which is an article of food for the black
people, and extensive fields of canes, and
groups of coffee and cotton trees, the odorous
plumeria, the pomegranate, the orange, lime,
and citron, are mingled, and perfume the air.
The most elegant and splendid Cactus Grandiflora,
usually called the night blowing Cereus,
a stove plant, in this country, grows naturally
there on the rocks; and is said, though incorrectly, H5r 81
to open exactly at midnight; the fact
however is, that it slowly unfolds its large and
and lovely white petals, and yellow calyx,
during the night, but closes before the next
day’s sun, to open no more. As soon as the
sun is below the horizon, it is dark in tropical
countries; and then a land wind, and most
copious dews, cool the air—but to these it is
seldom safe for an European to be much exposed.
We are to imagine the ugly insect,
for ugly it is in the state we saw it, illuminating
with its singular and volant light, scenes
like these I have been describing.

George —

I remember you told me, some
time ago, that these flies in Italy were called
Luciola, and were flying glow-worms.

Mrs. Talbot —

I did so.—They are, however,
as I believe, of a different class; I am
not so good an etymologist, as to be able to
give you very correct information on these
subjects, and I have no books now within my
reach. I think, however, that glow-worms
are called Lampyris, and these Fire-flies Fulgora,
and that the insect we saw, which is one
of the largest kind, and bearing its light in its
snout, is called the Fulgora Lanternaria. Now H5v 82
let us see what figure it makes, as a member
of our little poetical miscellany. “To the Fire-Fly of Jamaica, Seen in a Collection.How art thou alter’d! since afar,Thou seem’dst a bright earth wandering star;When thy living lustre ran,Tall majestic trees between,And Guazume, Page 82.—Guazume, Theobroma guazuma—a great
Cedar of Jamaica.
or Swietan, Swietan—Mahogani.
Or the Pimento’s Pimento, Myrtus PimentoJamaica All-spice. glossy green,As caught their varnish’d leaves, thy glancing lightReflected flying fires, amid the moonless night.
From shady heights, where currents spring,Where the ground dove The ground dove—a small dove which creeps on the
ground, is very frequent in the woods of Jamaica. I
have not been able to find its Linnæan name.
dips her wing,
Winds of night reviving blow,Thro’ rustling fields of maize and cane, Cane, Saccharum officinarum. And wave the Coffee’s Coffee, Coffea Arabica. fragrant bough;But winds of night, for thee in vainMay breathe, of the Plumeria’s Plumeria, commonly called Tree Jasmin, a most
beautiful and odorous plant.
luscious bloom,
Or Granate’s Punica granata—Pomegranate. scarlet buds, or Plinia’s Plinia pedunculata, a fragrant native of tropical
countries.
mild perfume.
The recent captive, who in vain,Attempts to break his heavy chain,And find his liberty in flight;Shall no more in terror hide,From thy strange and doubtful light,In the mountain’s cavern’d side, Bats bigger than crows are found in the gullies and
caverns among the woods of Jamaica. And monkeys
hide there, sallying forth in numbers to prey on the canes
and fruits.
Or gully deep, where gibbering monkies cling,And broods the giant bat, Stanza 43.—The wretched negro, fearing punishment,
or driven to despair by continual labour, often secretes
himself in these obscure recesses, and preys in his turn
on his oppressor at the hazard of his life.
on dark funereal wing.
H6r83Nor thee his darkling steps to aid,Thro’ the forest’s pathless shade,Shall the sighing Slave invoke;Who, his daily task perform’d,Would forget his heavy yoke;And by fond affections warm’d,Glide to some dear sequester’d spot, to prove,Friendship’s consoling voice, or sympathising love. ――54.—After the toils of the day, the poor African
often walks many miles, and for a few hours loses
the sense of his misery among his friends and companions.
Now, when sinks the Sun away,And fades at once the sultry day,Thee, as falls the sudden night,Never Naturalist shall view,Dart with corruscation bright,Down the cocoa Stanza 5.—Cocoa-nut-tree, Cocos. avenue;Or see thee give, with transient gleams to glow,The green Banana’s Musa Paradisiacus—Plantain or Banana. head, or Shaddock’s The Shaddock, which is, I believe, sometimes vulgarly
called the forbidden fruit, is shaped like a lemon with
the colour of an orange; it is sometimes as big as the
largest melon; but not very good to eat. At least those
I have formerly seen brought from Barbadoes were
worth nothing.
loaded bough.
Ah! never more shalt thou behold,The midnight Beauty, Whoever has seen the Cactus grandiflora, and been
gratified with its scent, must acknowledge it to be one of
the most magnificent and delicious productions of vegetable
nature.
slow unfold
Her golden zone, and thro’ the gloomTo thee her radiant leaves display,More lovely than the roseate bloomOf flowers, that drink the tropic day;And while thy dancing flames around her blaze,Shed odours more refin’d, and beam with brighter rays.
The glass thy faded form contains,But of thy lamp no spark remains;That lamp, which through the palmy groveFloated once with sapphire beam,As lucid as the star of Love,Reflected in the bickering stream;Transient and bright! so human meteors rise,And glare and sink, in pensive Reason’s eyes.H6v84Ye dazzling comets that appearIn Fashion’s rainbow atmosphere,Lightning and flashing for a day;Think ye, how fugitive your fame?How soon from her light scroll away,Is wafted your ephemeron name?Even tho’ on canvas still your forms are shewn,Or the slow chisel shapes the pale resembling stone.Let vaunting Ostentation trustThe pencil’s art, or marble bust,While long neglected modest worthUnmark’d, unhonor’d, and unknown,Obtains at length a little earth,Where kindred merit weeps alone;Yet there, though Vanity no trophies rear,Is Friendship’s long regret, and true Affection’s tear!”

Emily —

Mamma, your poem is I think
rather melancholy.

Mrs. Talbot —

I did not intend, Emily,
that it should be gay.

George —

For my part, I like the most melancholy
verses the best. I remember, Mother,
that two years ago, I read for the first
time, Grey’s Elegy, and I was pleased with it,
without quite understanding some part of it.—
But when you explained to me, what I did
not clearly comprehend before, it gave me
more pleasure than any thing I ever had met
with.

I1r 85

Mrs. Talbot —

It has been observed, George,
that almost all men of genius, have a disposition
to indulge melancholy and gloomy ideas; and
in reading our most celebrated poets, we have
evidence that it was so. But these very men
had also the keenest relish for the pleasures
and enjoyments of life; the liveliest sense of
the absurd and ridiculous, and were most of
them severe satirists, as well as entertaining
companions. But there are so many prejudices
entertained about those who are called
Poets, that a parent, who thought as the greater
part of the world think, would never act like
the worthy father of Pope, who used to encourage
his son to make verses; correct and
recorrect them, and when they satisfied him,
would exclaim with great appearance of satisfaction,
“these are good rhymes.” To this
encouragement we are probably indebted, for
the most correct and elegant, if not the most
original of English Poets. But from the prevalence
of a received opinion, that a man of
genius must want common sense, and be of
course unfortunate, many young men of superior
talent have been discouraged from the
cultivation of them, and have directed to pursuitsI I1v 86
much less laudable, the powers that might
have raised them to the greatest eminence in
literature. The errors and misfortunes of men
of genius, are evident, and recorded. The
errors, and consequent misfortunes, of common
characters, are so frequent, and the world is
accustomed to despise and forget them, while
it is also forgotten, that infinitely more mischief
is done by folly than by wit, that innumerable
men are every day ruining themselves and
their families, who are as destitute of common
sense, as the most enthusiastic victim of poetical
pursuits can be imagined to be. Do not,
therefore, my dear George, suffer the pleasure
you derive from poetry, or the inclination you
may one day feel to attempt it, to be checked
by these common-place sayings about wit and
abilities, such as that:
“Great wit to madness nearly is allied,
And thin partitions do their bounds divide.”

And many others of the same sort, confidently
repeated by people, who seem to value themselves
on the want of that intellect, which is
the distinguishing characteristic of man; for,
if understanding and reason are the great I2r 87
marks of the superiority of the human race, he
who possesses that reason in a more eminent
degree, and cultivates it for the benefit of his
fellow creatures, approaches the nearest to an
higher order of beings. Another prejudice is,
that understanding is not so often accompanied
by good and easy temper, as weakness; and,
in consequence of this notion, it is not an uncommon
thing to hear people say, “Such a
one is not very wise, but extremely good-
natured.”
And, “a good-natured weak man,”
is a very usual expression. But I very much
doubt whether goodness of heart, and weakness
of understanding ever go together; that
they are not frequently united I am convinced.
A weak and ignorant man, is almost always
conscious of his inferiority: but his self-love is
alarmed at the involuntary discovery, and he
at once hates and fears every one whom he
feels to be his superior, and is always apprehensive
of imposition or ridicule. Such a man
is happy, if, while he is enjoying, and perhaps
wasting, the fortune which he never would
himself have been able to acquire, he can drag
at his chariot wheels, in the degrading situation
of a retainer, some unfortunate man of I2v 88
talents, reduced either by circumstances or
indiscretion, to the humiliation of dependence.
But far less irksome to the man who feels the
proud consciousness of abilities, must it be, to
submit to the humblest labour that procures
him bread, than to accept from one of these
“good-natured men”, the least favour that can
give a base mind what he conceives to be a
triumph over one whom he knows is his superior.
To be the butt of clumsy attempts at
wit, or to degrade that which God has given
him, by reducing it to the gross and depraved
taste of such a patron, must surely be the most
humiliating and mortifying situation to which
a man of sense and spirit can be reduced. In
the vocabulary of half the world, the want of
money, implies the want of common sense;
and thus, poetry and poverty have become
associated in the minds of the vulgar. Ill
fated genius perpetuates and immortalizes at
once his failings and his sufferings, while those
of the common herd are forgotten with them.
I believe it to be far from true, that the
powers and feelings which constitute a Poet,
unfit a man for success in any other liberal
walk of life. On the contrary, I am persuaded, I3r 89
that the talents which have acquired great
eminence and affluence in other pursuits,
would not enable their possessor to become a
Poet; yet, that the talents which make a Poet,
(I speak not of the common rhymers of a
magazine, or a newspaper,) would enable him,
to whom they are given, to excel in any pursuit
to which he should steadily apply them
Gray, very truly observes, that money is desirable
to literary men, because money is
independence and freedom. And he as justly
remarks, that the great can do little for them,
but to leave them to the enjoyments of that
leisure which independence gives them. I
have not the book by me at this moment: but
I have dwelled rather long on the subject,
brought to my mind by the mention of Burns,
because I would lose no occasion to enforce
the necessity of your maintaining, in whatever
line of life you may hereafter be thrown,
that independence, without which, talents are
often the disgrace, and acute feelings the
misery of their possessor.

George —

Pope was not poor, mother. I
think I have heard, or read, that he took great
care of his fortune.

I2 I3v 90

Mrs. Talbot —

The greater part of which he
honourably acquired by the exertion of his
poetical abilities.

George —

He was of a melancholy disposition,
however, I suppose; for I remember
writing out as a task, a letter from him in his
youth, which is inserted in the Guardian, I
believe, or some book of that kind, which I
used to read to my Grandmamma, four or
five years ago.

Mrs. Talbot —

Do you remember it?

George —

A part of it I think I can still
repeat.

“When I reflect what an inconsiderable.
little atom every single man is, with respect
to the whole creation, methinks ’tis a shame
to be concerned at the removal of such a
trivial animal as I am. The morning after
my exit, the sun will shine as bright as ever,
the flowers will smell as sweet, the world
will proceed at its old course, people will
laugh as heartily, and marry as fast as they
used to do.”

Mrs. Talbot —

This chearful kind of melancholy,
is the truest philosophy. On the ideas
of the letter, of which you have repeated some I4r 91
lines, West, the friend of Gray, formed a very
interesting poem, mingling that turn of thought
with part of one of the elegies of Tibullus.
In the last volume of the Mirror, there is also
a poem on the same subject, written by Michael
Bruce
, a young man of considerable
genius, and in indigent circumstances, who in
early youth, was conscious he was lingering
in an incurable illness. As another instance
of unintended plagiarism, and unconscious
imitation, without thinking of, and certainly
without having the power to refer to either
of these compositions, I recollect that a young
man, with whom I was once acquainted,
wrote, some years ago, a few stanzas in the
same desponding, yet resigned spirit. A peculiar
and disastrous chain of events, seemed
to pursue him through life; but after his
fortune apparently changed for the better,
other circumstances arose, which deprived him
of the happiness, independance, and affluence
promised him. I remember also, some lines
he wrote, when after a long absence he returned
to England, and looking at that moment
with a more sanguine disposition of mind on
the prospect then before him, he compared I4v 92
the revival of his hopes to the renewal in the
spring of the beauties of nature, of which he
had a lively enjoyment. “Verses Written in Early Spring. As in the woods, where leathery lichen weavesIts wintry web among the sallow leaves,Which (thro’ cold months in whirling eddies blown,)Decay beneath the branches once their own.From the brown shelter of their foliage sear,Spring the young blossoms that lead the floral year,When waked by vernal Suns, the Pilewort daresExpand her clouded leaves and shining stars;And veins enpurpling all her tassels pale,Bends the soft wind-flower in the vernal gale.Uncultured bells of azure jacinths blow,And the breeze-scenting violet lurks below.So views the Wanderer, with delighted eyesReviving hopes from black despondence rise;When blighted by Adversity’s chill breath,Those hopes had felt a temporary death;Then with gay heart he looks to future hours,When Love and Friendship dress the summer bowers:And, as delicious dreams enchant his mind,Forgets his sorrows past, and gives them to the wind.” Page 92 and 94.—These two short poems have been
before printed.

Some years afterwards, though he had then
obtained a fortune more than adequate to all
his wishes, the loss of a mother and a sister,
to whom he was most affectionately attached, I5r 93
added to a disappointment in the character
and conduct of a young woman, who proved
to be a very different being from that which
his elevated and ardent imagination had represented
her, were circumstanses so affecting
his mind, that he never could determine to
pursue any of those objects, either of ambition
or amusement, which usually attract young
men of his rank and situation: but relinquishing
his establishment, he passed the
greatest part of his time in wandering into
different countries. It was in travelling through
one of those extensive forests in Germany,
which had at that period the reputation of
being infested with freebooters from dispersed
armies, that, feeling too sensibly the little
value of life to a being so unconnected as he
was, he wrote the lines to which I at first
alluded. They were addressed to a beloved
friend, who had frequently, though fruitlessly,
remonstrated with him on his inclination
wholly to forsake society, and estrange himself
from the world.

I5v 94

“Lines
composed in passing through a forest in Germany.
If, when to-morrow’s Sun with upward ray, Gilds the wide spreading oak, and burnish’d pine, Destin’d to mingle here with foreign clay, Pale, cold, and still, should sleep this form of mine; The Day-star, with as lustrous warmth would glow, And thro’ the ferny lairs and forest shades, With sweetest woodscents fraught, the air would blow, And timid wild deer, bound along the glades; While in a few short months, to clothe the mould, Would velvet moss and purple melic rise, By Heaven’s pure dew drops water’d, clear and cold, And birds innumerous sing my obsequies; But, in my native land, no faithful maid To mourn for me would pleasure’s orgies shun; No sister’s love my long delay upbraid; No mother’s anxious love demand her son. Thou, only thou, my friend, would feel regret, My blighted hopes and early fate deplore; And, while my faults thou’dst palliate or forget, Would half rejoice, I felt that fate no more.” Page 92 and 94.—These two short poems have been
before printed.

If, however, a certain degree of melancholy
is supposed to be the accompaniment of genius,
there is no species of affectation more absurd
and disgusting, than pretending to be absent, “melancholy and gentlemanlike,” an air I6r 95
which is often assumed by solemn coxcombs,
who, while they would fain have it mistaken
for a symptom of superior intellect, make it
the cloak of supercilious pride and pompous
stupidity. Such persons are splenetic, and
fancy themselves affected with pensive poetical
dejection; their nervous system, forsooth, is
deranged by every trifle; and they pretend
to shrink, with extreme sensibility, from the
common intercourse of life; when, in fact,
they have no sensibility but for themselves,
and no study but how to make themselves of
importance. But I know not how it has happened
that we have fallen into this gloomy
vein; I am unwilling to impute it to the
weather, for nothing is more weak and unworthy
than to yield to such impressions, and
to fancy that we cannot do so and so, because
the weather affects us. A rational being
should endeavour always to be able to command
his faculties, and divest himself of
minute attention to outward circumstances
which he cannot alter.

George —

That is true, Mother; but I am
very glad, notwithstanding, to see so much
blue sky; the weather is going to clear up, I6v 96
and we shall have a little ramble by the sea
this evening. Will you not go out?

Mrs. Talbot —

I shall enjoy it very much.
There is something particularly magnificent in
the sullen swell of the waves as the storm
subsides, and the broad shadows on the still
rolling surface of the sea while the clouds are
breaking away. I love the monotonous heavy
burst of the surges on the shore, and to listen
to the echoes as they foam under the distant
cliffs. The sea birds too, who had withdrawn
to their nests in the rocks, while the violence
of the tempest raged, then leave their shelter
to fish before sun-set. We shall have an opportunity,
this evening, to make these and
other observations.

K1r

Conversation The Ninth.

K K1v K2r
Mrs. TalbotEmilyGeorge.

Mrs. Talbot

My dear Emily, you are
later than usual to-day; where have you
been?

Emily —

Mamma, as my brother and I came
from our walk, Mrs. Davidson, the landlady
of the house where my aunt and cousins are
to lodge, desired us to walk in, just for a moment,
to see what nice order every thing was
in, against their arrival: and she shewed us all
her rooms, and had something to tell us about
the furniture of each of them; and then she
would make us hear the names of all the Ladies,
and Lords, and Sir Johns, and I don’t
know who, that have inhabited her house for
the last seven years, I believe.

George —

And then, just as we had done
with all this, she entreated us to go and look
K2v 100
at her geraniums. They were just taken in,
four or five of them, out of a little court where
she keeps them in the Summer; and she desired
us to tell her, whether my aunt, and her
family, had any objection to flowers; because,
“Sir,” said she, “you are to know the case is
this; that there is a window in my big drawing
room, as looks direct south; and all the
Winter sun, and sunshine at this season, is
there till two o’clock; so if you thingk the family
has no dislike, I’ll just take two of my best
pots, and just put them in that window.”
She
was going on, when I assured her, for I thought
I might safely venture to do so, that nobody
would object to her geraniums, for that my
aunt was very fond of flowers.

Emily —

She talked a great deal, Mamma,
in such an odd tone and manner, that I could
hardly understand her.

Mrs. Talbot —

She is a Scotch woman, and
speaks in the tone, and in some instances
in the dialect of her country. But we must
forgive her language, in consideration of her
love for geraniums.

Emily —

O yes! and I am sure when my
aunt, and cousins, and sister come, we shall all K3r 101
most willingly assist in taking care of these
favourites of hers, which are as fine as any I
ever saw in a green-house.

Mrs. Talbot —

And I dare say she takes
great pride in them, and they afford her as
much pleasure as one of the same race of plants
did to me. Before I had possessed a greenhouse,
and while it was my lot to pass a good
deal of time alone, I had raised one of these
plants from a cutting, given me in a nosegay.
It became in a few months large and flourishing,
and was one of the handomest, though
not the most tender of the numerous race of
exotic geraniums. I grew as fond of my plant
as I should have been of a domestic animal,
and took great pains to nourish it with fresh
earth, by exchanging the pot for a larger,
whenever there was occasion for such a transposition;
sheltering it from frost, and giving
it light and air. In consequence of this unremitting
care, my geranium attained a luxuriance
of growth very unusual, and was always
covered with flowers. At that time, for it is
now near twenty years ago, the ever-blowing
rose, and many other plants, now familiar to our
parlours, were not so generally possessed; and K2 K3v 102
my favourite geranium was an object of admiration
to every one who saw it, and of pride to
myself; and as it was a sort of habit I acquired
to write little pieces of poetry on any subject
that happened particularly to flatter my imagination,
I addressed an Ode to my geranium,
which I will try to recollect and repeat to
you; though I do not know that, till your
mention of Mrs. Davidson’s fine plants, I have
ever thought of it since. As I had at that time
no book of poesy, such as we now prudently use
to secure our essays in, I had only my memory
to trust to, or some fugitive paper, not now to
be recovered. But I believe I can recall it
pretty correctly, for it is remarkable, that I
have an almost perfect remembrance of every
thing I learned, and every thing I wrote, in the
former part of my life. I believe I could even
write out a speech from Racine, of near an
hundred lines, which perhaps I have never read
since I was at school. K4r 103 “To a Geranium 103.—The Geranium—Of Geraniums and Pelagorniums,
there are almost innumerable varieties. The
plants of that species that grow here are some of the
prettiest ornaments of our hedgerows, meadows, and
downs; but the exotic sorts, which have long been
among the most desirable furniture of the Conservatory,
are principally natives of Africa. A friend of mine, who
has visited the Cape of Good Hope, described to me the
splendid appearance of these beautiful flowers covering
the rocks and sand hills; many of the most elegant
growing as luxuriantly as docks or mallows do here;
while others rise to the size of large shrubs.
Which Flowered During
the Winter.
Written in Autumn. Native of Afric’s arid lands,Thou, and thy many-tinctur’d bands,Unheeded and unvalued grew,While Caffres crush’d beneath the sandsThy pencill’d flowers of roseate hue.But our cold northern sky beneath,For thee attemper’d zephyrs breathe,And art supplies the tepid dew,That feeds, in many a glowing wreath,Thy lovely flowers of roseate hue.Thy race that spring uncultur’d here,Decline with the declining year,While in successive beauty new,Thine own light bouquets fresh appear,And marbled leaves of cheerful hue.Now buds and bells of every shade,By Summer’s ardent eye survey’d,No more their gorgeous colours shew;And even the lingering asters Stanza 4.—The Asters are almost the last ornaments
of our gardens; they blow late, and give the appearance
of gaiety when the more beautiful flowers are gone.
fade,
With drooping heads of purple hue.
But naturalized in foreign earth,’Tis thine, with many a beauteous birth,As if in gratitude they blew,To hang, like blushing trophies forth,Thy pencill’d flowers of roseate hue.K4v104Oh then, amidst the wintry gloom,Those flowers shall dress my cottage room,Like friends in adverse fortune true;And sooth me with their roseate bloom,And downy leaves of vernal hue.”

Emily —

I shall be fonder than ever, my
dear Mamma, of my own geraniums when I
get home. But tell me, for I am not quite
sure—by Caffres, you mean Hottentots, do
you not?

Mrs. Talbot —

The race of men inhabiting
the country about the Cape of Good Hope are
so called. They are Negroes, and by every
account, the least favoured by nature of any of
the natives of Africa. Yet beneath their feet,
the same nature has chosen to lavish some of
her most beautiful and fragrant productions.
An almost endless variety of ixias, such, you
know, as we saw great numbers of last Spring
at the nursery garden; geraniums of I know
not how many kinds; the lovely and odorous
Cape jasmin; and so many others, that I
cannot attempt to enumerate them, and can
only say, that our gardens, and still more our
green-houses and hot-houses, are obliged to
the native country of the Caffres for a considerable K5r 105
part of their rarest ornaments. And
you see, Mrs. Davidson is now, as I once was,
indebted to that country for much innocent
pleasure.

George —

Mother, what is the reason that
the people of Scotland, though they reside in
this country the greatest part of their lives,
never learn to speak as we do?

Mrs. Talbot —

The defect is by no means
peculiar to the people of Scotland. The provincial
tone and manner of many English
people is quite as remote from the language
of those who speak good and pure English,
though, perhaps, they have long conversed
only with the well educated of their own
country; and the reason, I believe is, that an
habit acquired in early youth, is never eradicated
without much observation, and taking a
good deal of trouble. Now very few of those
who have learned early to speak in a provincial
accent, will either make the observations,
or take the trouble. I cannot otherwise imagine,
how it is possible for any one to talk of
midnent and mought, and say this is wery
pretty, and the other wastly disagreeable.—Or
how any custom can reconcile it to the ears of K5v 106
persons that can spell, when they say, “they
saw a flower in the edge; and in trying to get
at it, trod just at the hedge of the stream.
That they have had their air cut by a fashionable
dresser, and have bought a beautiful at,
which is a most becoming ed-dress, and they
shall wear it the next time they go hout to
dinner.”
Now, though I can easily imagine
that a Scotch woman finds it very difficult to
divest herself of the tone and manner of her
country, I cannot conceive how English people
can contrive so to disfigure and mutilate
their own langauge.—Nothing is more desirable
than a correct and pure style, whether
in speaking or in writing, and nothing should
more sedulously be avoided than any particular
words, or imitating the language of uneducated
persons, or those who have acquired
in early life a provincial dialect—such as I
have just now given an example. How disagreeable
it is, to hear any one speak with a
nasal tone, and indolently drawl out their
words, as if it was too much trouble to speak
at all. Nor is it less so, when a person speaks
so fast, and inarticulately, that it requires the
utmost attention in the hearer to comprehend K6r 107
his or her meaning. Conversation is often
rendered irksome by these faults, and by others
still more common; such as the rage people
have to talk altogether, no one being willing to
hear, but every body expecting to be heard;
or by rude inattention, crying “hum”, and “haw”,
and “indeed”, in a sort of way that tells you the
party is thinking of something else.

George —

And I met with another unpleasant
sort of talker to day, Mother. While
I waited on the beech for Emily’s return from
bathing, a gentleman I never saw before, sat
down by me, and entered into conversation—
but it consisted entirely of questions. He
asked me what my name was, where I lived,
where I was educated, how old I was, what
number we were in family, and to what family
of the Talbots I belonged, and a great many
other questions; till at last I was so weary of
answering him, that I abruptly wished him
a good morning, and hastened away to find
Emily, who joined me just as my questioning
acquaintance again came in sight. I am sure,
however, he would have followed us, and have
attacked us anew, but Mrs. Davidson at that
moment called to us, to beg we would step K6v 108
into her house for a little while, and by that
means we escaped him.

Mrs. Talbot —

This impertinence, disgusting
and troublesome as it is, means nothing, but
that this poor man is idle, and has no ideas but
what he is forced to collect with all his pains,
from any body who will give him their attention.
He will now have to tell some other
sauntering man, or woman, the next time you
happen to pass, who you are; and so gain
another ten minutes from the lassitude of
having nothing to think of and nothing to do.
These sort of characters abound in all places
of public resort like this, and here the idle can
relieve each other; however, if their enquiries
were limited to such as this honest gentleman
made to you, there would be no great harm in
indulging them; but unfortunately, they seldom
can resist improving upon the narratives
they are thus anxious to collect; and are very
apt to embellish them, without much adherence
to truth, or respect for the feelings of those of
whose history they are pleased to inform
themselves. How much more usefully employed
are the poor women that we hear singing so
merrily at their doors, as they make or repair L1r 109
the fishing nets, with which their husbands,
brothers, or sons, exercise the hazardous employment
that supports their numerous families.
There is something in cheerful industry,
that is always gratifying; and though the
English have perhaps less natural taste and
talent for music than any other nation in
Europe, it is to me very pleasant to hear the
peasants singing at their work. I have been
told, that in Scotland these rustic concerts are
much more scientifically performed. In France,
you see the petillante, lively French women,
sitting at their doors making lace, and singing;
while the bobbins on their cushions mark the
cadence.

George —

The fishermen’s wives are not, to
be sure, very smart figures, nor are their songs
very musical, but I like to see them make their
nets. I talked to a man the other day, as he
was doing something to one of those large nets,
which we see carried in great rolls that almost
cover the men when they have them on their
heads; and he told me, that though their wives
make them, and they themselves pitch and
prepare the nets afterwards, yet, that they
cost a great deal of money; often as much as Vol. II. L L1v 110
two or three hundred pounds. He told me too,
that their best nets are sometimes torn by a
fish called the sea-dog, which pursue the
mackarel, or herrings, and are so large and
strong, that they burst through and break the
tackle, and let the fish escape.

Mrs. Talbot —

I am always pleased when
you take an interest in these sort of things,
and learn how different operations are performed,
and the value of the time and industry
of that class of society, which some of those in
upper life contemptuously call the common
people, or the mob; not condescending to recollect,
that it is to these common people they
are indebted for the privilege of doing nothing
themselves. This afternoon, as it promises to
be fair, we will devote to a long walk; or if
the tide serves, and you like it better, to a short
voyage along the shore. And now, to return
to the subject of the materials for fishing; I
recollect, I think, reading in some of those
books of voyages, that give an account of the
circumnavigators, the spirited and intelligent
seamen, who have been round the world, that
the Indians in the South seas, who obtain a
great part of their subsistence by fishing, have L2r 111
nets, such as we call Seines, made of a grass,
that grows in those islands, which they know
how to prepare, so as to make much better
and larger nets than either we or the French
make.

George —

Why don’t we do the same, or
will not that grass grow in this country?

Mrs. Talbot —

Probably it will not. The
materials we have, however, are quite sufficient;
and are also, you know, prepared from
a vegetable. If ever an opportunity occurs,
you shall see the process, in one of our great
seaports, Portsmouth, or Plymouth, of manufacturing
hemp, from a slight packthread, into
those enormous cables, on which the magnificent
ships of war, carrying sometimes more
than an hundred guns, depend for their safety.
These are prepared by repeated operations, till
they are strong enough to endure the great
force with which a ship draws upon its anchor
when it rides hard, as the sailors call it; that
is, when the sea is very rough.

Emily —

How odd it is, to think, Mamma,
that one of those great cables, which must be
very large indeed, for those belonging even
to the fishing boats are as big as a person’s L2v 112
leg; how odd it is to imagine, that the fine,
fine thread, not much thicker than a spider’s
web, that Hester uses when she mends your
lace, is made exactly in the same manner, and
almost of the same substance, as those very
great ropes.

Mrs. Talbot —

Silk is capable of being made
into a still finer, and more minute thread than
flax.

Emily —

But that, you know, is an animal
substance.

George —

Do you not remember, Emily, that
my Mother told us not long ago, that silk was
also a vegetable substance, or might be called
so, because it is the mulberry leaf which supplies
the silk worm with its food, and therefore
it is the juice of that tree, converted into
another material by the worm.

Emily —

And I remember now, Mamma,
that you said, when you were last speaking of
it, that it might make the subject of another
poem for our book.

Mrs. Talbot —

I did so; but something or
other put it out of my thoughts at the time.
I have not failed, however, to recollect it since,
and my stanzas are actually composed; I fear, L3r 113
however, Emily, that you will think them too
grave, as you thought of those on the fire-fly.

Emily —

No, indeed, Mamma. But pray
tell me one thing. I read a story about two
people, called Pyramus and Thisbe, which
was very absurd, I thought, and it related that
mulberries were white, till these two lovers
being killed near, or under a mulberry tree,
all the berries of those trees became red.
What does it mean?

Mrs. Talbot —

A fanciful and poetical manner
of accounting for the different colours of
the fruit of this tree; just as the redness of
the rose is fabled to have been caused by the
blood which sprang from the feet of Venus,
as she was wounded by thorns, when running
through the woods, in despair for the loss of
Adonis; and as her lover himself, being killed
by a boar, was transformed into the flower,
which we now call an anemone, I believe;
but the botany of these fabulous histories is
not very correct, and varies in the relations
given of it. There is a burlesque representation
of the story of Pyramus and Thisbe,
in Shakespeare’s play, the Midsummer Night’s
Dream
.

L2 L3v 114

George —

Oh yes, I remember it, and Emily,
you may recollect that I shewed you a picture
in the Shakespeare gallery, representing Bottom,
the weaver, with an ass’s head, which
had been put on by order of the fairy king;
and there were the inferior faries, Peaseblossom,
Moth, and Mustard-seed.

Emily —

Oh, but indeed, my dear George,
you do puzzle me so, with so many ideas at
a time, that at last I have no ideas at all.

Mrs. Talbot —

Well then that you may not
have the same complaint to make of my
Mulberry-tree, your brother shall read the
stanzas first. Here, George, look over and
explain them, in the way of what is called
the Argument to a poem, that Emily may
not find them obscure.

George —

I believe I comprehend them.
I could not, perhaps, explain the process of
making silk; but if you will just give us an
idea of that.

Mrs. Talbot —

That is not necessary now,
only let me hear how much is evident to your
understanding, of what I have attempted to
convey to you in these lines.

George —

The first stanzas describe the tree L4r 115
in this country, where it is very late in unfolding
its leaves. I remember that very well,
because David always told me, that when the
Mulberry leaves came out I might put out
my myrtles, geraniums, and my little orange
trees that I raised myself; for that then there
would be no more frost or cold severe enough
to hurt them. That country of Europe is
next described, in which the Mulberry-tree is
particularly cultivated; Italy, where are very
high mountains, called the Appenines, and
Patience and Industry are personified, and
are supposed to call the young and the old,
for perhaps strong able men are not employed
in it, to begin those works, by which the
thread spun by the silk-worm, and which is
produced by the juices of the Mulberry leaf,
becomes at length silk, and being dyed after a
long process, which we must suppose, becomes
of course blue as the sky, or red like the roses,
or purple, or spotted.

Mrs. Talbot —

All that you perfectly understand.
I could not, you know, in so short
a poem as this, describe the various operations
performed; such as throwing the cocoons into
boiling hot water, which kills the worm within; L4v 116
winding the silk off on small reels, and preparing
it in different manners, according to
the purpose it is designed for; then giving it
colour; and fitting it for the loom. Had I
done all this, I should have made what is
called a didactic poem, such as the Fleece, by
Dyer, and others of the like nature. But had
I been capable of executing this sort of poem,
it would not have entered into my plan, because
all I mean is, to excite your curiosity,
which there are such ample means of gratifying,
by books, that you would perhaps think
dry and uninteresting, if you were to sit down
to them merely as a task, and without having
collected some general ideas before, on the
subjects they treat of. And now, George,
read my apostrophe to the Mulberry-tree,
which Pliny, the Roman naturalist, calls the
wisest of trees, because, even in Italy, it does
not put forth its leaves till the cold weather
is certainly gone. You must not forget to
notice the moral, though you omitted it in
your argument. L5r 117 “To the Mulberry-Tree. Page 117.Morus nigra, the common Mulberry—
The Mulberry-tree, a native of Italy, is cultivated not
only for its grateful fruit, but for the more lucrative purposeQ2 Q3v 174
of supplying food to silk-worms. The leaves of the
white mulberry are preferred for this purpose in Europe;
but in China, where the best silk is made, the silk-worms
are fed with the leaves of the Morus Tartaricus. From
the bark of another species Morus papyrifera, the Japanese
make paper, and the inhabitants of the South
Sea Islands
, the cloth which serves them for apparel.—
Woodville’s Med. Bot..
In Italy, the vines are often seen hanging in festoons
from tree to tree in the plantations of mulberry-trees.
On reading the Oriental Aphorism, ‘by patience
and labour the Mulberry-leaf becomes Satin.’
Hither, in half blown garlands drest,Advances the reluctant Spring,And shrinking, feels her tender breastChill’d by Winter’s snowy wing;Nor wilt thou, alien as thou art, displayOr leaf, or swelling bud, to meet the varying day.Yet, when the mother of the rose,Bright June, leads on the glowing hours,And from her hands luxuriant throwsHer lovely groups of Summer flowers;Forth from thy brown and unclad branches shootSerrated leaves and rudiments of fruit.And soon those boughs umbrageous spreadA shelter from Autumnal rays,While gay beneath thy shadowy head,His gambols happy childhood plays;Eager, with crimson fingers to amassThy ruby fruit, that strews the turfy grass.But where, festoon’d with purple vines,More freely grows thy graceful form,And screen’d by towering Appenines,Thy foliage feeds the spinning worm;Patience and Industry protect thy shade,And see, by future looms, their care repaid.L5v118They mark the threads half viewless windThat form the shining light cocoon,Now tinted as the orange rind,Or paler than the pearly moon;Then at their summons in the task engage,Light active youth, and tremulous old age.The task that bids thy tresses greenA thousand varied hues assume,There colour’d like the sky serene,And mocking here the rose’s bloom;And now, in lucid volumes lightly roll’d,Where purple clouds are starr’d with mimic gold.But not because thy veined leaves,Do to the grey winged moth supplyThe nutriment, whence Patience weavesThe monarch’s velvet canopy;Thro’ his high domes, a splendid radiance throws,And binds the jewell’d circlet on his brows;And not, that thus transform’d, thy boughs,Now as a cestus clasp the fair,Now in her changeful vestment flows,And filets now her plaited hair;I praise thee; but that I behold in theeThe triumph of unwearied Industry.’Tis, that laborious millions oweTo thee, the source of simple foodIn Eastern climes; or where the PoReflects thee from his classic flood;While useless Indolence may blush, to viewWhat Patience, Industry, and Art, can do.”

L6r 119

Emily —

I believe I understand it, Mamma;
but I find, that after I have written any
poetry out in my book, and considered a moment
about the meaning of a passage that was
before a little obscure, the difficulties generally
vanish.

Mrs. Talbot —

Poetry is sometimes obscure
at first, because it is often necessay to invert
the sentences, in order to obtain the rhyme,
or to accommodate the measure. And that is
the best poetry, where these points are gained
with the least appearance of force; and where
the fewest words are admitted, evidently for
the sake of the rhyme only. Words which no
writer would use, if they could do without
them; and which in prose would never enter
into elegant composition. Sometimes a poor
verse-maker is sadly tortured by the wish he
feels to use some word of great force to close
his couplet, to which there are not, perhaps,
above two or three respondents, and those so
awkward and unmanageable, that he must
sometimes sacrifice sense to sound. Our friend
and favourite, Cowper, gives an admirable
account of the pleasure a Poet feels, when he
has conquered to his satisfaction one of these L6v 120
distressing passages.—But George! you do
not seem to be attending to our digression
from a tree to a poet; you were, I fancy,
thinking at that moment of something else.

George —

I was thinking it is extraordinary,
as there are other insects which spin, that no
use has ever been made of their webs.

Mrs. Talbot —

I have heard or read, that an
attempt has been made to convert the spider’s
web into some kind of thread, and that gloves
or stockings were made of it. But the first
manufacturers are in this case too disgusting
in their manners and habits, and their product
too little worth, to encourage a repetition of
these experiments.

George —

Butterflies, however, have a sort
of thread in their caterpillar state.

Mrs. Talbot —

No more than suffices them
to fasten themselves to some leaf, or piece of
wood, while they undergo their metamorphose,
from a caterpillar to a butterfly; and
while they remain suspended as the chrysalis
or aurelia.

George —

But I think, Mother, I remember
to have seen black looking webs, that seemed
knit round a leaf, and parched it all up, and M1r 121
that beneath the web, there were disagreeable
looking insects.

Mrs. Talbot —

That ill-looking collection is
what is callled aphides. There are I know not
how many sorts of these; the people say they
are a blight, but they seem to have very little
knowledge about them, but as far as relates to
the effect of this pest on their crops.

Emily —

Sometimes I have gathered a flower
that looked just about to blow, but when I
came to examine it, was quite black, and
eaten within by one of these ugly worms.

Mrs. Talbot —

They are another sort of the
aphides. The disease you mention is particularly
ruinous to the rose, and sometimes I have
known a tree quite spoiled by them, and producing
no fine roses. And that puts me in
mind of a few stanzas, that were composed by
that young friend of mine, whose verses you
heard a few days ago. I found them, as I
frequently do a piece of half forgotten poetry,
among other papers and unfinished drawings
in a neglected port folio. Since we are upon
this topic, I will read them to you; and then
after dinner, we will go for our walk by the M M1v 122
sea. I do not believe we shall find the tide
favour our sailing scheme. “The Cankered Rose. As Spring to Summer hours gave way,And June approach’d, beneath whose swayMy lovely Fanny saw the day,I mark’d each blossom’d bower,And bade each plant its charms display,To crown the favour’d hour.The favour’d hour to me so bright,When Fanny first beheld the light,And I should many a bloom unite,A votive wreath to twine,And with the lily’s virgin white,More glowing hues combine.A wreath that, while I hail’d the day,All the fond things I meant, might say(As Indian maids their thoughts array,By artful quipo’s Quipos’s—The Peruvians had a method of expressing
their meaning by narrow knotted ribbands of various
colours, which they called Quipos’s: a certain number of
knots of one colour, divided by so many of another, expressed
particular meanings; and served these simple
and innocent people in the place of the art of writing—
See Lettres Peruviennes.
wove;)
And fragrant symbols thus conveyMy tenderness and love.
For this I sought where long had grown,A rosarie Rosarie—In old poets this word is used, not as now
for a collection of roses, but for a single tree. I remember
(but I have not the book now) an imitation of Spencer,
by I know not whom, in a poem called Cupid and Psyche,
where Cupid hides in a Rosarie. It is also used in old
French for a rose-tree, though the modern word is rosier.
I call’d my own,
Whose rich unrivall’d flowers were knownThe earliest to unclose,And where I hoped would soon be blown,The first and fairest Rose.
M2r123An infant bud there cradled lay,Mid new born leaves; and seem’d to stayTill June should call, with warmer ray,Its embryo beauty forth;Reserv’d for that propitious dayThat gave my Fanny birth.At early morning’s dewy hour,I watch’d it in its leafy bower,And heard with dread the sleety shower,When eastern tempests blew,But still unhurt my favourite flowerWith fairer promise grew.From rains and breezes sharp and bleak,Secur’d, I saw its calyx break,And soon a lovely blushing streakThe latent bloom betray’d;(Such colours on my Fanny’s cheek,Has cunning Nature laid.)Illusive hope! The day arriv’d,I saw my cherish’d rose—It lived,But of its early charms depriv’d,No odours could impart;And scarce with sullied leaves, surviv’dThe canker at its heart.There unsuspected, long had fedA noxious worm, and mining spread,The dark pollution o’er its head,That drooping seem’d to mournIts fragrance pure, and petals red,Destroy’d e’er fully born.M2v124Unfinished now, and incomplete,My garland lay at Fanny’s feet,She smil’d;—ah could I then repeatWhat youth so little knows,How the too trusting heart must beatWith pain, when treachery and deceitIn some insidious form, defeatIts fairest hopes; as cankers eatThe yet unfolded rose.” Page 122.—The cankered Rose—It is not to be understood,
that this address is from a lover; a mother, a
brother, or a friend, might equally delight to celebrate
the day that gave birth to the object of their fond affections.

Mrs. Talbot —

How deliciously pleasant is
the evening. Let us, since our plan of going
out on the water is put an end to by the state
of the tide; let us seat ourselves in this chalky
cavity, and study the scene, which is in the
apprehension of many people quite uninteresting,
and affording no variety.

George —

Yes, I remember in some books
we were reading—but I have forgot what book
it was, the author says the sea has no change,
but that which is made by tides, affecting
only its margin, or by the difference of
storms and calms.

Mrs. Talbot —

There are people who affect
to think nothing but the human character deserves
their study, and pass over the great works
of God, as unworthy the trouble of contemplating. M3r 125
For my own part, I feel very differently
from these philosophers. Perhaps I have seen
too much of the fallacy of their studies,
and the little benefit that has accrued from
them, either to individual, or general happiness;
and therefore turn, with more ardour
than I did in early life, to contemplate the
works of God only, wherever they are unspoiled
by man. I wonder any being, who affects
taste, would venture to assert that this immense
body of water presents only sameness and
monotony. To me it seems, that even the
colours and sounds are little less varied, than
those we see or hear, in the midst of the most
luxuriant landscape. I remember having been
becalmed some years ago in a packet boat
between Brighthelmstone and Dieppe; unfortunately
for the master of the vessel, who was,
he said, engaged by a nobleman to bring over
“his Lordship and all his Lordship’s family,”
if he was there sooner than another packet,
which could not leave the English coast till the
next tide after his departure. When the wind
failed so entirely as to leave the sails totally
unfilled, the agonizing apprehensions of losing
forty guineas began to operate on this poor M2 M3v 126
man with great violence, and he walked backwards
and forwards on his small deck, wiping
his forehead and deploring his ill fortune,
sometimes varying his lamentations with supplications
which he made in French, and
which consisted, I believe, of all the French he
could speak— “Souffle, souffle, St. Antoine,” 126.—This apostrophe to St. Antoine was supposed,
as the packet boat Captain said, to be an infallible rereipt
for raising the wind, and was always used for that
purpose by the Portuguese, among whom he had once
been employed.

cried he. His supplications were vain, yet
they were by no means remitted; and hardly
could he attend, though a very civil man, to
the questions of his weary passengers, who
were as eager as he was to get on shore, for the
weather was very hot, and the confinement in
so small a vessel very inconvenient. As a
cabin was always intolerable to me, I remained
upon deck, and found amusement in the variety
I saw of colours and motions upon the surface
of the water. Sometimes it was ruffled
by a partial breeze, which however did not
reach our flagging sails, notwithstanding the
Captain, watching it with the greatest anxiety,
repeated his energetic apostrophe of— “souffle,
souffle, donc, St. Antoine,”
and as often as these
light airs passed by without giving him the
least assistance, he became more clamorous.
At length as I steadily observed the surface of M4r 127
the blue and almost transparent waves, in
hopes of seeing some signs of wind, I remarked
what I thought was one of these currents of
air, which running in the direction of the
packet from the north-west, would, I hoped,
reach our motionless sails. The Captain was
at that moment gone down to console himself
with some of the passengers eatables and
drinkables; but I remarked to the man on
deck the alteration in the colour of the water,
through which it seemed as if a river was
poured that kept itself distinct from the salt
waves, just as the Rhone is said to pass through
the lake of Geneva without mingling with its
water. “Oh, no, Ma’am,” said the mariner,
in answer to my enquiry whether a fresh
breeze was not approaching, “that is not wind,
it is a shoal of mackarel, that changes the colour
of the water, and makes them there bubbles
like as you see, and all of them crinkles in the
water.”
As the shoal approached a little
nearer, I distinctly heard that sort of snapping
noise, which you may sometimes remember
in the river from fish just rising to the surface,
and saw that a vast stream of life, if I may so
express myself, produced the effect I had remarked
on the colour of the sea. Of this M4v 128
stream or shoal of animated beings, many were
devoured by gulls or other sea birds, others
by the dog fish, which threw themselves above
the water in the eagerness of pursuit; and
great numbers were probably taken the same
evening on our coast; and by the hour of
dinner the next day contributed another dish
to the tables of the rich, while the day after
the refuse might be the sole sustenance of
several families of the poor. These appearances,
which may sometimes be observed from
the shore, and the various hues reflected by the
waves from the sky—the changes of the season,
of tides, and of winds, surely give nearly as
much variety to this element, as the difference
of Winter and Summer does to the earth we
inhabit.

George —

There are some lines in Cowper, I
remember, comparing the wind among the
trees of a wood, to the rush of the sea on the
beach.

Mrs. Talbot —

Can you remember them?

George.

“――Mighty winds, That sweep the skirt of some far-spreading wood Of ancient growth, make music not unlike The dash of Ocean on his winding shore.”

M5r 129

Mrs. Talbot —

I am always gratified by these
recollections, my dear George; they are instances
of taste as well as memory. Not only
the rush of the water when, heavily and with
pauses, it breaks on the shore, is solemnly
pleasing; but the low and half-heard murmur
of the small waves, that just rock the sea-weed
as it floats upon them, before it is deposited on
the shingles, is a sound almost as soothing as
that we listen to, when the low Summer wind
sighs among woods and copses—a sound, for
which I think the English language wants an
expressive word. We say indeed the sighing
or the murmuring of the air, but the wind
among trees seems better expressed by the
Scottish word sugh, and still more elegantly by
the Italian susuráre
“Frangersi l’acque e susurrar le foglie.”
However, the louder bursts and thundering of
the sea on the beach is better described in our
rough northern language. But sublime and
magnificent as those sounds are, as well as the
sight of the sea in a tempest, every sensation,
when a storm is the object, must be lost in our M5v 130
recollection of the misery, to which its violence
exposes numbers of our fellow creatures.

Emily —

I cannot say I like the sight of this
wide water, Mamma, so well as I do that of
fields and downs, and woods and meadows; yet
certainly the colours are very beautiful that
we see at this moment upon it.

Mrs. Talbot —

And it supports many beings
either within its bosom, or on its produce. In
some northern countries the natives are indebted
almost entirely to the sea for their food
and clothing. The sea birds which migrate to
their shores, as well as the fish that people their
waves, supply to them the want of all, that
nature has bestowed on more fortunate climates.
But let me try if the images we have thus collected
may not be fixed in our memories by
putting them into verse. I made a sketch of
them a day or two ago, and perhaps I may be
able to read them. I mean to refute the idea
that the sea has no variety, but that which
arises from the flux and reflux of tides, or from
calms and storms. M6r 131 “Studies by the Sea.Ah! wherefore do the incurious say,That this stupendous Ocean wideNo change presents from day to day,Save only the alternate tide,Or save when gales of Summer glideAcross the lightly crisped wave;Or, when against the cliff’s rough sideAs equinoctial tempests raveIt wildly bursts; o’erwhelms the deluged strand,Tears down its bounds, and desolates the land.He who with more enquiring eyesDoth this extensive scene survey,Beholds innumerous changes rise,As various winds its surface sway;Now o’er its heaving bosom playSmall sparkling waves of silver gleam,And as they lightly glide away,Illume with fluctuating beamThe deepening surge; green as the dewy cornThat undulates in April’s breezy morn.The far off waters then assumeA glowing amethystine shade,That changing like the Paon’s plume, Page 131.—Poem, Stanza 3, line 11.—The Paon’s
plume.
The Paon, for peacock, has also the authority of old
writers.
Seems in celestial blue to fade;Or paler colder hues of lead,As lurid vapours float on high,Along the ruffling billows spread,While darkly lours the threatening sky;M6v132And the small scattr’d barks with outspread shroudsCatch the long gleams that fall between the clouds.
Then Day’s bright star with blunted raysSeems struggling thro’ the sea-fog pale,And doubtful in the heavy hazeIs dimly seen the nearing sail;Till from the land a fresher galeDisperses the white mist, and clear,As melts away the gauzy veil,The sun-relecting waves appear;So, brighter genuine Virtue seems to riseFrom Envy’s dark invidious calumnies.What glories on the Sun attendWhen the full tides of evening flow,Where in still changing beauty, blend,With amber light the opal’s glow,While in the East the diamond bowRises in virgin lustre bright,And from the horizon seems to throwA partial line of trembling lightTo the hush’d shore; and all the tranquil deepBeneath the modest Moon is sooth’d to sleep.Forgotten then the thundering breakOf waves that in the tempest rise,The falling cliff, the shatter’d wreck,The howling blast, the sufferers’ cries;For soft the breeze of evening sighs,And murmuring, seems in Fancy’s earTo whisper fairy lullabiesThat tributary waters bear,N1r133From precipices, dark with piny woodsAnd inland rocks, and heathy solitudes. 133.—Stanza 6.—Whoever has listened on a still Summer
or Autumnal evening, to the murmurs of the small
waves, just breaking on the shingles, and remarked the
low sounds re-echoed by the distant rocks, will understand
this.
The vast encircling seas within,What endless swarms of creatures hideOf burnish’d scale and spiny fin!These, providential instincts guide,And bid them know the annual tide,When, from unfathom’d waves that swell,Beyond Fuego’s stormy side,They come, to cheer the tribes that dwellIn Boreal climes; and through his half year’s nightGive to the Lapland savage food and light.Stanza 7.—The course of those wonderful swarms of
fishes that take their annual journey is, I believe, less
understood than the emigration of birds. I suppose
them, without having any particular ground for my conjecture,
to begin their voyage from beyond the extreme
point of the Southern continent of America. Many of
the Northern nations live almost entirely on fish. Their
light, during the long night of an arctic winter, is supplied
by the oil of marine animals.
From cliffs that pierce the northern sky,Where eagles rear their sanguine brood,With long awaiting patient eyeBaffled by many a sailing cloud,The Highland native marks the flood,Till bright the quickening billows roll,And hosts of Sea-birds clamouring loud,Track with wild wing the welcome shoal,Swift o’er the animated current sweep,And bear their silver captives from the deep.Stanza 8.—In the countries where the produce of the
sea is so necessary to human life, the arrival of shoals of
fish is most eagerly waited for by the hardy inhabitant.
Thrown on the summit of an high clift, overlooking the
sea, the native watches for the approach of the expected
good, and sees with pleasure the numerous sea birds,
who, by an instinct superior to his own, perceive it a far
greater distance, and follow to take their share of the
swarming multitude.
Sons of the North! your streamy valesWith no rich sheaves rejoice and sing,Her flowery robe no fruit conceals,Tho’ sweetly smile your tardy Spring;Yet every mountain clothed with ling 133, Stanza 9.—Ling, a name given in many parts of
England to the Erica vulgaris—Common Heath.
Doth from its purple brow surveyYour busy sails, that ceaseless bringTo the broad frith and sheltering bay,NN1v134Riches by Heaven’s parental power supplied,The harvest of the far embracing tide.
And where those fractur’d mountains liftO’er the blue wave their towering crest,Each salient ledge, and hollow cleft,To Sea-fowl give a rugged nest.But, with instinctive love is drestThe Eider’s 134.—Stanza 10.Anas molissima— While many sea-
birds deposit their eggs on the bare rocks, the elider Duck
lines her nest most carefully with the feathers from her Q4v 176
own breast, which are particularly fine and light: the
nest is robbed, and she a second time unplumes herself
for the accomodation of her young. If the lining be
again taken away, the drake lends his breast feathers;
but if, after that, their unreasonable persecutors deprive
it of its lining, they abandon the nest in despair, the master
of the domicile wisely judging, that any farther sacrifice
would be useless.
downy cradle; where
The mother bird, her glossy breastDevotes; and with maternal careAnd plumeless bosom, stems the toiling SeasThat foam round the tempestuous Orcades.
From heights whence shuddering sense recoils,And cloud-capped headlands, steep and bare,Sons of the North! your venturous toilsCollect your poor and scanty fare.Urged by imperious want you dareScale the loose cliff, where GannetsStanza 11.Pelicanus Banssanus, the Gannet, builds
on the highest rocks.
hide,
Or scarce suspended, in the airHang perilous; and thus provideThe soft voluptuous couch, which not securesTo Luxury’s pamper’d minions, sleep like yours. Page 134. Stanza 11.—Suspended by a slight rope, the
adventurous native of the North of Scotland is let down from
the highest cliffs that hang over the sea, while with little
or no support, he collects the eggs of the sea fowl, in a
basket tied round his waist. The feathers also of these
birds gathered from the rocks, are a great object to these
poor industrious people.
Revolving still, the waves that nowJust ripple on the level shore,Have borne, perchance, the Indian’s proaw,Or half congeal’d, ’mid ice-rocks hoarRaved to the Walruss’ Stanza 12, line 5.Trichecus rosmarus, the Walruss
or Morse, a creature of the seal kind, now said to be no
longer found on the coast of Scotland, but still inhabiting
other northern countries. They are sometimes eighteen
or twenty feet long, and roar like bulls.
hollow roar,
Or have by currents swift convey’dTo the cold coast of LabradorThe relics of the Tropic shade; Ditto.—Gulph currents are supposed to throw the remains
of fruits of the tropical regions on the most
northern coast of America, and it is asserted that the
same fruits are also found on the coast of Norway. See
Les Etudes de la Nature.
N2r135And to the wondering Esquimeaux have shewnLeaves of strange shape, and fruits unlike their own.
No more then let the incurious say,No change this World of Water shews,But as the tides the Moon obey,Or tempests rave, or calms repose.Shew them its bounteous breast bestowsOn myriads life: and bid them seeIn every wave that circling flows,Beauty, and use, and harmony.Works of the Power supreme who poured the floodRound the green peopled earth, and call’d it good.”

N2v N3r

Conversation The Tenth.

N3v N4r

Conversation The Tenth.

Mrs. TalbotEmily.

Mrs. Talbot

What progress have you
made, my Emily, in extracting from the
books I selected for you such parts as I
marked?

Emily —

Oh, Mamma, not much—it was
not indeed that I was at all disposed to be idle
yesterday, during your absence; but after I
had read over the names of all the heathen
deities, and began some of the stories, I found
so little pleasure in them, that I thought you
would not insist on my going on. So I went
to my drawing to pass the rest of the morning.

Mrs. Talbot —

You know I never wish to
punish you by making that a task, which I
would ever have you find a pleasure.—It was
to enable you to understand and be gratified,
with many poems and poetical allusions, N4v 140
which must otherwise be incomprehensible,
that I was desirous of your entering on a brief
account of the Gods of the Pagans. However,
you will acquire, as your reading becomes
more extensive, as much knowledge as will be
necessary for this purpose, without undertaking
it as a task. I remember, that fairy
tales which, when I was a girl, used highly to
delight me, gave you no pleasure; when a
year or two since, your friend, Miss Maybank,
asked my permission to give you a set.—You
was disgusted with the Royal Ram, and the
Yellow Dwarf, and all the odd flights of imagination;
indeed, I do not believe that, to the
present time, you ever read one of them to the
end.

Emily —

I suppose it is because I have no
fancy, no genius, Mamma, or perhaps it is,
because I am stupid.

Mrs. Talbot —

I am willing rather to believe,
my dear girl, that it arises from the
purity of your natural taste, and your perception
of what is most beautiful, truth in its
singleness and simplicity. In the present
system of education, boys learn at school the
heathen mythology; and Ovid, the most fanciful, N5r 141
and by no means the most proper among
the Roman poets, for the perusal of youth, is
almost the first book put into their hands.
Your elder brother, therefore, became acquainted
with all these fabulous people; and
as soon as Edward was in Virgil, he used to
give me, while we looked over his lessons together,
very clear accounts of their genealogy
and exploits; but mingled with such remarks,
as determined me to introduce these imaginary
beings to George’s acquaintance in another
manner. You know, that the taste he has for
poetry has induced me to give him many
books, which boys at his age seldom desire to
read, and if compelled to do it, seldom, and
perhaps I may say never, understand. But he
is delighted with the fictions of poetry; and
has read with enthusiasm, and a very uncommon
relish for their beauties, poems, of which
the machinery constitute a considerable part.
Now this could not have happened if he had
not been a tolerable mythologist.

Emily —

I don’t quite understand what you
mean, Mamma.

Mrs. Talbot —

I will endeavour to explain
it to you. Homer is, as you have often N5v 142
heard, the greatest Epic Poet.—The Iliad is a
poetical history of what happened in the last
year of the Trojan war.—And the agents employed
by the Poet, in bringing about the
events, are heathen deities, who became themselves
parties in the contest, which began, as
the fable relates, from the gift of Paris, one of
the sons of Priam, of a golden apple to Venus,
in preference to Juno, the Queen of Heaven,
and Minerva, the Goddess of Wisdom and the
Arts. The deities, thus interested, interfere
in the war between the associated princes of
Greece, and the Trojans. Almost all of them
are personally brought forward, and some are
even described as being wounded. Now to
understand the Iliad at all, it is necessary to
learn all the fictions on which the story is
founded, and from which these supernatural
agents, or the machinery, are introduced.
The Iliad describes the effects of the anger of
Achilles, in retarding the success of the Grecian
Princes against Troy. Achilles was the
son of a Sea Goddess, Thetis, who knowing
that he was destined to fall in early youth, endeavoured
to conceal him, and prevent his
joining the confederacy; but Ulysses, King of N6r 143
Ithaca
, who is represented as the favourite of
Minerva, and a man of great wisdom and sagacity,
discovered him by a stratagem, disguised
in women’s clothes; and in despite of
his mother’s apprehensions, induced him to
assist in the siege, because destiny had decreed
that Troy should not fall, unless he was among
those who attacked it. I cannot, now, go
into all the preceding circumstances, but you
see that they must be known, before the Iliad
can be understood. The Odyssey of Homer,
another Epic Poem, relates the wanderings
and sufferings of Ulysses, after the conquest
of Troy.—Pursued by the hatred of the vindictive
Juno, he was condemned to suffer innumerable
hardships before he returned, after
an absence of twenty years, to Penelope and
his son Telemachus; whose adventures in
search of his father, are the subject of the celebrated
work of Fenelon; an Epic Poem, in
measured French prose, which is usually, but
improperly, one of the first books young people
are directed to, after they begin to read
French; it is impossible they can comprehend
a page of it, if they do not know the heathen N6v 144
mythology, and the stories of the Iliad and the
Odyssey
.

The next most celebrated Epic poem is
Virgil’s Eneid.—It relates the adventures of
Eneas, the son of Venus and Anchises, a
Prince of Troy.—Eneas leading his little son
Iulus and bearing his old and decrepid father
on his back, escapes from the flames of that
devoted city, and after a great many perils
and adventures, some of which do him very
little credit, he lands in Italy, marries Lavinia,
the daughter of Latinus; and from thence the
Poet derives the descent of the Emperor, Augustus
Cæsar
, in adulation of whom this poem
was composed. To understand either of these,
therefore, the deities of the ancients must be
understood.

Milton, the great Epic Poet of our own
country, and who is classed for sublimity and
vigour of imagination with the Grecian and
Roman bards, chose a more simple, though
more magnificent subject—The creation of
the world; the happiness enjoyed by the first
pair in Paradise, till the fatal transgression of
Eve—their expulsion from thence, and the O1r 145
evils entailed on their unhappy race in consequence
of their disobedience. The machinery
he uses is more elevated, and comes more
within our comprehension; yet throughout
the book, there are frequent allusions to
Grecian fable.

But there is another species of poem, called
usually the mock heroic; in which satire is
conveyed under allegoric or imaginary beings,
who bring about ludicrous events. Some of
these, which are not likely to interest you, I
pass over. But there are two which are so
elegant, and so much adapted to form the
taste of young women, that as soon as you are
a little better read in fable, I shall recommend
them to your study. These are Pope’s Rape
of the Lock
, and Hayley’s Triumphs of Temper.
The machinery used in the first of these is
composed of ideal beings, called Sylphs and
Gnomes. These are the invention of a philosopher
named Rosicrusius, who imagined that
Sylphs and Gnomes presided over the air and
earth, and Nymphs and Salamanders over
water and fire. Mr. Hayley has taken for the
monitress and guardian of his sweet Serena a
visionary sprite, called Sophrosyne, whom the Vol. II. O O1v 146
Genius of the evening star calls from her residence
in the Moon, to attend on, and guard
by dreams, this lovely favourite. Sophrosyne,
who is described with great delicacy and
elegance, is one of the Rosicrusian family.

Of this enchanting system of air-drawn
creatures, Shakespeare had never heard when
he created his exquisite Ariel: but Shakespeare
was a Poet, or Creator indeed; and the wildest
and most delicious visionary scenes and beings,
arose in the same comprehensive mind, that
read, as by intuition, the effects of all the
passions and feelings of the human heart. To
return, however, to our Sylphs and Gnomes:
these you remember, though you have only
heard detached parts of it read, are employed
with the Nymphs, as the agents, or the machinery
in the Botanic Garden; a work which
you know your brothers have often read parts
of to me; the splendour and beauty of the
verse makes it delightful to George, who has
an admirable ear for poetry; while Edward
has been attracted by the variety of information
conveyed in the notes; and became interested
in experiments and facts, which probably
would not, if offered to him in any other way, O2r 147
have excited his curiosity. I observed, however,
that neither your sister, who does not
seem particularly gratified by poetry, or you,
who confess your preference of such subjects
of natural history as you can understand, were
neither of you as much charmed as I was, and
as your brothers were, with this magnificent
poem; though I attempted to explain some
passages to you.

Emily —

It is very true, Mamma; I liked to
hear of the flowers, if I happened to know the
names of those which were mentioned, but
when they were changed, or as you bade me
call it, metamorphosed into men and women,
they gave me no pleasure at all. For I felt
myself quite bewildered.

Mrs. Talbot —

You will, hereafter, think
differently. You see that your brothers immediately
entered into the intention of the
author, when I told them that Ovid transformed
his men and women into plants or animals, but
that Dr. Darwin formed beings like men and
women, from plants.

Emily —

Yes, Mamma; and I have not
forgotten that. But it is plants and flowers
I like, and not these ladies and their lovers.

Mrs. Talbot —

I have heard more profound O2v 148
critics than you are, Emily, make the same
objection, or something nearly resembling it;
but I am so desirous that you should acquire a
taste for these agreeable fictions, that I enlisted
George in my service, while you were out on
your visit to your young friends on Thursday
evening; and we fancied we could dress to
please you an ideal being, which I know you
do not contemn as much as you do the generality
of goddesses in those luckless books which
you are determined not to read: I mean the
goddess who presides over your beloved flower
garden—Flora.

Emily —

How, my dear Mamma?

Mrs. Talbot —

Why we imagine her, not in
the splendours that surround her in the highly
coloured description of Dr. Darwin; but
simply clad, even in her own manufacture;
and we have placed her in a car of leaves, for
all these aerial personages must have cars, you
know, wafted by Zephyrs to the earth; whose
various flowers spring at her approach. We
were very much amused by selecting the vestment
of our Goddess; and the armour of her
male attendants, and the ornaments of her
maids of honour.

Emily —

And that then was what George O3r 149
was so busy about yesterday, that he shortened
our walk in the evening, and had borrowed I
know not how many botanical books of Mr.
Beechcroft
. Afterwards he shut himself up
near two hours, and then went out, and brought
home a great many sea-weeds.

Mrs. Talbot —

Yes, because you know vegetation,
over which Flora may poetically be
said to preside, is extended even to the rocks
and caverns under the sea, where great numbers
of plants of the class cryptogamia grow,
and are washed from thence in storms, which
is the reason, that after rough weather, the
shore often seems a bank of weeds. These
sometimes adhere to shells, or small stones, or
pieces of rock, and they have shapes and
colours unlike the productions of the earth;
but if you observe samphire, and other plants
that grow near the sea, and are watered by its
waves, or are within the immediate influence
of sea vapours, you will see, that there is a
gradual line of connection between them.
George is gone to return some books we borrowed,
and as soon as he comes home, we will
put the concluding hand to our little cabinet
picture of Flora. I imagine that she and her O2 O3v 150
attendants are all fairy beings, like the elfin
Queen and her retinue, only upon a somewhat
larger scale, such as Shakespeare describes;
and I am the supposed seer of the vision, and
invoke Fancy on the margin of that river,
where my early years were past, and for which
I still retain a great partiality.

Emily —

The Thames, Mamma?

Mrs. Talbot —

No, one of his tributary
streams, the Wey; which formed by several
brooks, one of which rises in Hampshire, wanders
in a clear broad current till it becomes
navigable at Godalming, and joins the Thames
at Weybridge. It was on the banks of that
river, Emily, I gathered the first flowers that
ever conveyed pleasure to my mind. I remember,
even at this distance of time, the
great ranunculus, which answers Thomson’s
descriptions; “The full ranunculus of glowing
red;”
others, yellow, clouded with crimson,
green, and brown; the parrot tulips, and fine
double stocks, and wall-flowers, which in their
season a man of the village, who worked in
the garden and about the house, used always
to bring me on Sunday morning. I recollect
the little garden behind my old nurse’s cottage, O4r 151
who was retired to a neat little habitation
to pass the remainder of her days; and I
think I have never seen since such lovely full
white lilies as were in a border under some
pales, where she used to preserve her finest
currants for me. The houses which formed
the village are now pulled down, and were I
to pass through it, I should see no likeness remaining
of the place, still represented by a
thousand minute circumstances to my memory.
I suppose it is because their first years
were passed in London, or some other great
city, that so many people I meet with are totally
insensible to the beauties of nature, the
charms of an extensive prospect, or the sight
and scents of plants.

Emily —

You cannot imagine, Mamma, how
the Miss Welthams stared at me the other day,
when I named some plants that were in a
nosegay. “Lord,” cried one of them, “what
signifies what the name of this plant and that
plant is?”
“What nonsense and affectation,
my dear creature!”
said another in an half
whisper, “what an amazingly conceited little
thing is this Emily Talbot! I am sure I should
never know one flower from another if I was O4v 152
to live an hundred years, and I wonder what
good it does?”
“O! ’tis the fashion you
know,”
cried a Miss, a cousin of theirs, in a
drawling tone—“but if my existence depended
upon it, I’m sure I could never make any
thing of remembering these hard names. You
must know, we have a distant relation that
makes herself, Mamma says, quite absurd
about such stuff; and once, when we were
going down to my father’s country-house, she
desired the coachman to stop—only think,
you know, to stop a coach and four in hand—
Mamma’s own carriage, quite separate from
Papa’s, is always a coach and four in hand;
but only think, you know, of her desiring it
might stop, while she got out to gather, what
Mamma said was nothing in the world but a
nasty weed.”

Mrs. Talbot —

I suppose you were much offended
with this cousin of your acquaintance,
the Miss Welthams; but you should remember
that her chief aim was to inform you, that
her father had a country-house, her mother a
separate carriage, and that carriage a coach
and four—in hand.

Emily —

Yes, I dare say it was, for I never O5r 153
saw any person more proud, or fancying themselves
of more consequence.

Mrs. Talbot —

And why should that make
you angry, Emily? why should it make you
feel any unpleasant sensations of dislike, towards
this consequential and apparently
happy girl? You do not envy her, I think,
her father’s villa or her family’s carriages?
These ladies that cry “Lord, my dear creature,”
and “only think, you know,” do not, I
hope, excite any other feeling than an inclination
to smile.

Emily —

No, Mamma—I don’t envy them;
I am quite as happy as they are—perhaps
happier, with all their parade; but though I
don’t envy them, I can’t help disliking them.

Mrs. Talbot —

You will do wisely then to
forbear frequenting often a society, where you
meet with persons, who, while, as it seems,
they have no power to afford you pleasure,
excite sensations that are painful. Dislike,
and all those unpleasant feelings, are better
avoided; they border too closely on the uneasiness
inflicted by envy, and I would have
you totally unacquainted with them.

Emily —

But, Mamma, how can I help disliking O5v 154
people who are, as you yourself say,
arrogant, and fond of shewing their consequence?
I remember you have often expressed
how disagreeable they were to you.

Mrs. Talbot —

I allow I have done so, so far
as to laugh at their overbearing vanity; and I
will besides tell you, that in the younger part
of my life I used to be mightily discomposed,
when I saw people give themselves what are
called airs, who, as I had foolishly been taught,
were inferior in family and consequence to
myself, and had only to boast of suddenly
acquired riches: but as I went on in the
world, this very common circumstance ceased
to make me angry. I listened with equal
indifference to some persons of very high
blood, who contrived to let me know, that
they waved their privilege of rank while condescending
to associate with me; and the
good substantial monied folks, who took some
trouble to convey obliquely to me, what was
always present to them, a consciousness of the
superiority money, of which they had a great
deal, gave them over me, who had in their
estimation very little. I considered, that my
pursuits and pleasures were totally independent O6r 155
of high birth or high affluence; that the
want either of the one or the other would
never make me less alive to the charms of
nature, or detract one atom of delight from
the enjoyments of reading and writing. I
considered that I had learned to live to my
own heart, and to find my amusement where
my duties lay, and that it would be very
foolish to lose one, and neglect the other, for
the sake of vieing with people whose happiness
seemed so wide of mine, that we need not
at all interfere with each other. If they
sought me, I met them with civility, and parted
from them with as little regret as they probably
did with me; but I never sought them,
or gave them reason to imagine they could
inflict pain on me by any display of the difference
between their situation and mine.

Emily —

Oh indeed, Mamma, I shall never
desire to increase my acquaintance with the
Miss Welthams, or their cousin. You know
I did not desire to go the other night, and had
rather a thousand times have been at home,
finishing my flower-piece against my aunt
sees it.

Mrs. Talbot —

Do not, however, misunderstand O6v 156
me, Emily. While I say that it is
wrong to put even your momentary satisfaction
in the power of every one who can teize
you with their fancied superiority, I do not
mean to make you fastidious, or to let you
fall into the affectation of fancying you can
associate only with people, who are or pretend
to be well instructed, or of superior education.
Among many of these you will find a great
deal of arrogance, in the younger circles at
least; and sometimes an affectation of elevated
endowments or acquirements, more
disgusting than the glaring ostentation of
vulgar wealth, or the supercilious consequence
assumed by ancestral dignity. Perhaps
you were a little too fond of shewing what it
is on which you value yourself, when you
began to talk to these young ladies of the
names of flowers, which to them probably
seemed affected, and unintelligible jargon.
Nothing offends more than pretence to knowledge,
in a company which you know cannot
possess it; and these girls will never forgive
you for telling them that they should say
viola tricolar, instead of “Leap-up-and-
kiss-me,”
or “three-faces-under-an-hood;” P1r 157
and your talking of Chrysanthemums, and
Erigeron, has given them occasion to laugh
at you, as long as they remember the conversation.

Emily —

Well, Mamma, they will never have
another opportunity. And now I care very
little about them, for here is George, and you
will let me hear the Poem.

Mrs. Talbot —

My dear George, Emily is
become impatient for our Elfin Flora. I have
given her an idea of my plan in writing it,
but perhaps you may afford her a farther explanation.

George —

Mother, that would spoil her pleasure,
perhaps; besides if it is given to her first
in prose, possibly she will not take the trouble
to recollect the flowers that you have dressed
Flora and her attendants in, when she reads
the verse.

Mrs. Talbot —

I believe, Emily, your brother
is right. However I will tell you, that all
I mean is a playful description of a miniature
goddess, and I have dressed her, with a little
of George’s help, who I assure you is an admirable
assistant at a Sylphish toilet, in such
plants, as by their names are appropriated to P P1v 158
the wardrobe of such ideal beings, or are of a
nature to be easily formed in Fancy’s loom
into robes and cymures, and scarfs. Some of
these the structure of the verse compelled me
to insert as they are scientifically called;
others are designed by their common or vulgar
names. The attendant nymphs, Floscella,
Petalla, Nectarynia, and Calyxa, you will
understand are named after the parts of
flowers; I have drest them rather more gaily
than their fair Mistress, and in flowers cultivated
here, but not natives of this country;
while in Flora herself I have given an example
of more pure taste and of the great simple,
which should be always attended to by beauty,
that is said to be
“When least adorn’d most lovely.”

Now with all this pomp my fairy Goddess
enters, to inspire you with something like a
taste for these children of imagination; just as
it was formerly the idea, that girls should be
encouraged to understand dress by ornamenting
their dolls. George, will you read it to us?

George —

Willingly: but not without regret, P2r 159
that this is the last Poem we have got to complete
our collection.

Mrs. Talbot —

“Though last, not least.”
We shall want no more, when the friends are
with us for whom we have so long waited, and
of whom we have still said, “they will come
to-morrow,”
so that at last I fear to say it again.
But now we have more to talk of, than if we
had met when we first expected it; and may
perhaps, though we have experienced that
“hope delayed makes the heart sick,” find
also, that, “expectation makes a blessing
dear.”
Well, George, are you ready?

George—

Yes, and I will endeavour to read
in my best manner, my dear Mother, your “Flora.Remote from scenes, where the o’erwearied mindShrinks from the crimes and follies of mankind,From hostile menace, and offensive boast,Peace, and her train of home-born pleasures lost;To Fancy’s reign, who would not gladly turn,And lose awhile the miseries they mournIn sweet oblivion?—Come then, Fancy! deign,Queen of ideal pleasure, once againTo lend thy magic pencil, and to bringSuch lovely forms, as in life’s happier Spring10On the green margin of my native Wey,Before mine infant eyes were wont to play,P2v160And with that pencil, teach me to describeThe enchanting Goddess of the flowery tribe,Whose first prerogative Line 15.—Whose first prerogative, &c. V.Vide Cowper. “The spleen is seldom felt where Flora reigns,The lowering eye, the petulance, the frown,And sullen sadness, that to shade, distort,And mar the face of beauty, when no causeFor such immeasurable grief appears,These Flora banishes.” it is to chaseThe clouds that hang on languid beauty’s face;And, while advancing Suns, and tepid showers,Lead on the laughing Spring’s delicious hours,Bid the wan maid the hues of health assume,Charm with new grace, and blush with fresher bloom.20The vision comes!—While slowly melt awayNight’s hovering shades before the eastern ray,Ere yet declines the morning’s humid star,Fair Fancy brings her; in her leafy carFlora descends, to dress the expecting earth,Awake the germs, and call the buds to birth,Bid each hybernacle its cell unfold,And open silken leaves, and eyes of gold!Of forest foliage of the firmest shadeEnwoven by magic hands the Car was made,30Oak and the ample Plane, without entwin’d,And Beech and Ash the verdant concave lined;The Saxifrage, 33.Saxifrage hypnoides, Moss Saxifrage, commonly
called Ladies cushion.
that snowy flowers emboss,
Supplied the seat; and of the mural MossThe velvet footstool rose, where lightly restHer slender feet in Cypripedium drest.The tufted Rush that bears a silken crown,The floating feathers of the Thistle’s 38.Carduus, the Thistle. down,In tender hues of rainbow lustre dyed,The airy texture of her robe supplied;40And wild Convolvulas, 41.Convolvulus arvensis, a remarkably pretty plant,
but no favourite with the husbandman.
yet half unblown,
Form’d with their wreathing buds her simple zone;Some wandering tresses of her radiant hairLuxuriant floated on the enamour’d air,P3r161The rest were by the Scandix’s 45.Scandix pectum, Venus’s comb, or Shepherd’s
needle.
points confin’d,
And graced, a shining knot, her hair behind—While as a sceptre of supreme command,She waved the Anthoxanthum 48.Anthoxanthum,Vernal Meadow grass. It is to
this grass that hay owes its fine odour.
in her hand.
Around the Goddess, as the flies that playIn countless myriads in the western ray,50The Sylphs innumerous throng, whose magic powersGuard the soft buds, and nurse the infant flowers,Round the sustaining stems weak tendrils bind,And save the Pollen from dispersing wind,From Suns too ardent shade their transient hues,And catch in odorous cups translucent dews.The ruder tasks of others are, to chaseFrom vegetable life the Insect race,Break the polluting thread the Spider weaves,And brush the Aphis 60.Aphis or Aphides.—These are the “myriads
brush’d from Russian wilds;”
the blights, cankers, lice,
or vermin, to use common phrases, that so often destroy
and disfigure the fairest vegetable productions.
from the unfolding leaves.60
For conquest arm’d the pigmy warriors wieldThe thorny lance, and spread the hollow shieldOf Lichen 63.Lichen.—Of these many have the forms of
shields, when in fructification.
tough; or bear, as silver bright,
Lunaria’s 64.Lunaria annua, Moon wort, usually called Honesty.
pearly circlet, firm and light.
On the helm’d head the crimson Foxglove 65.Digitalis purpurea, common Fox-glove. glows,Or Scutellaria 66.Scutellaria galericulata, small Skull-cap. guards the martial brows,While the Leontodon 7767.Leontodon officinalis, common Dent-de-lion. its plumage rears,And o’er the casque in waving grace appears;With stern undaunted eye, one warlike ChiefGrasps the tall club from Arum’s Line 70.Arum maculatum, Arum, vulgarly Cuckoo
pint, or Lords and Ladies.
blood-dropp’d leaf,70
This with the Burdock’s 71.Arctium lappa, Burdock. hooks annoys his foes,The purple Thorn, that borrows from the Rose.In honeyed nectaries couched, some drive awayThe forked insidious Earwig 74.Forficula, the Earwig. from his prey,P2P3v162Fearless the scaled Libellula 7475.Libellula, the Dragon fly, or as it is called in the
southern countries, the Horse-stinger, though it preys
only on other insects. Several sorts of these are seen
about water, but its introduction here is a poetical license,
as it does not feed on or injure flowers.
assail,
Dart their keen lances at the encroaching Snail,Arrest the winged Ant, 77.Formica.—In one state of their existence the
male Ants have wings.
on pinions light,
And strike the headlong Beetle 78.Scarabeus, the Beetle. in his flight.
Nor less assiduous round their lovely Queen,The lighter forms of female Fays are seen;80Rich was the purple vest Floscella wore,Spun of the tufts the Tradescantia 82.—The silk-like tuft within the plant called Tredescantia
appears to the eye composed of very fine filaments;
but on examining one of these small silky threads through
a microscope, it looks like a string of amethysts.
bore,
The Cistus’ 83.Cistus helianthemum, Dwarf Cistus. flowers minute her temples graced,And threads of Yucca 84.Yucca, Thready Yucca, an Aloe, I believe. bound her slender waist.
From the wild Bee, 85.—The wild bee, Apis centuncularis.—This insect
weaves or rather cements rose leaves together to form its
cell.
whose wondrous labour weaves,
In artful folds the Rose’s fragrant leaves,Was borrow’d fair Petalla’s light cymarre;And the Hypericum, 88.Hypericum, an elegant shrub, of which Cowper
thus speaks— “Hypericum all bloom, so thick a swarmOf flowers like flies cloathing her slender rodsThat scarce a leaf appears.”
It seems admirably adapted to a fairy garland.
with spangling star,
O’er her fair locks its bloom minute enwreathed;Then, while voluptuous odours round her breathed,90Came Nectarynia; as the arrowy raysOf lambent fire round pictured Seraphs blaze,So did the Passiflora’s 93.Passiflora, the Passion flower. radii shedCerulean glory o’er the Sylphid’s head,While round her form the pliant tendrils twined,And clasp’d the scarf that floated on the wind.
More grave, the para-nymph Calyxa drest;A brown transparent spatha 98.Spatha, the sheath from which many flowers
spring, such as the Narcissus,&c.
formed her vest.
The silver scales that bound her raven hair,Xeranthemum’s 100.—The scales of one species of the Xeranthemum
are particularly elegant.
unfading calyx bear;100
And a light sash of spiral Ophrys Line 101.Ophrys, Spiral Ophrys, Ladies traces. press’dHer filmy tunic, on her tender breast.
But where shall images or words be foundTo paint the fair ethereal forms, that roundP4r163The Queen of flowers attended? and the whileBasked in her eyes, and wanton’d in her smile.Now towards the earth the gay procession bends,Lo! from the buoyant air, the Car descends;Anticipating then the various year,Flowers of all hues and every month appear,110From every swelling bulb its blossoms rise;Here blow the Hyacinths of loveliest dyes,Breathing of heaven; and there her royal browsBegemmed with pearl, the Crown Imperial shews;Peeps the blue Gentian from the softning ground,Jonquils and Violets shed their odours round;High rears the Honeysuck his scallop’d horn;A snow of blossoms whiten on the Thorn.Here, like the fatal fruit to Paris given,That spread fell feuds throughout the fabled Heaven,120The yellow Rose her golden globe displays;There, lovelier still, among their spiny spraysHer blushing rivals glow with brighter dyes,Than paints the Summer Sun, on western skies;And the scarce ting’d, and paler Rose unveilTheir modest beauties to the sighing gale.Thro’ the deep woodland’s wild uncultured scene,Spreads the soft influence of the floral Queen.A beauteous pyramid, the Chesnut Line 129.Hippocastanum, Horse-chestnut. rears,Its crimson tassels on the Larch 130.Pinus lariæ, Larch. appears;130The Fir, 131.Pinuus sylvestris, Scotch Fir. dark native of the sullen North,Owns her soft sway; and slowly springing forthOn the rough Oak 133.Quercus rober, the Oak. are buds minute unfurl’d,Whose giant produce may command the World!P4v164Each forest thicket feels the balmy air,And plants that love the shade are blowing there,Rude rocks with Filices and Bryum smile,And wastes are gay with Thyme and Chamomile.Ah! yet prolong the dear delicious dream,And trace her power along the mountain stream.140See! from its rude and rocky source, o’erhungWith female Fern, 142.Polypodium, filix femina, female Fern. and glossy Adder’s-tongue, ――Scolopendrium, Hart’s tongue, more usually
called Adder’s tongue.
Slowly it wells, in pure and crystal drops,And steals soft-gliding through the upland copse;Then murmuring on, along the willowy sides,The Reed-bird 146.Motacilla salicaria, the reed Sparrow, or willow
Wren. A bird that in a low and sweet note imitates
several others, and sings all night.
whispers, and the Halcyon ――Alcedo ispida, the King fisher, or Halcyon, one
of the most beautiful of English birds.
hides;
While among Sallows pale, and birchen bowers,Embarks in Fancy’s eye the Queen of flowers――
O’er her light skiff, of woven bull-rush made,The water Lily 150.Nymphea alba, the white Water lily. lends a polish’d shade,150While Galium 151.Galium palustre. White Lady’s bed straw. there of pale and silver hue,And Epilobiums 152.Epilobiums, various species of Willow herbs. on the banks that grow,Form her soft couch; and as the Sylphs divide,With pliant arms, the still encreasing tide,A thousand leaves along the stream unfold;Amid its waving swords, in flaming goldThe Iris 157.Iris palustris, common Flag, or yellow Iris. towers; and here the Arrowhead, ――Sagittaria, Arrow-head. And water Crowfoot, 158.Ranunculus aquaticus, white water Crow-foot. more profusely spread,Spangle the quiet current; higher there,As conscious of her claims, in beauty rare,160Her rosy umbels rears the flow’ring Rush, 15861.—Butomus, the flowering rush, or water
Gladiole,
the only native of England of the class Enneandria
hexagynia
.
While with reflected charms the waters blush.
The Naïd now the Year’s fair Goddess leads,Thro’ richer pastures, and more level meads,P5r165Down to the sea; where even the briny sandsTheir product offer to her glowing hands;For there, by sea-dews nurs’d, and airs marine,The Chelidonium 168.Chelidonium, the horned or sea-Poppy. See a
former note.
blows; in glaucous green,
Each refluent tide the thorn’d Eryngium 169.Eryngium maritimum, Sea Holly. laves,And its pale leaves seem tinctured by the waves;170And half way up the clift, whose rugged browHangs o’er the ever-toiling surge below,Springs the light Tamarisk.— 173.Tamarix gallica, the Tamarisk. This elegant
shrub is not very uncommon on cliffs in the West of
England, and was in 18001800 to be found on an high rock
to the Eastward of the town of Hastings, in Sussex.
The summit bare
Is tufted by the Statice; 174.Statice, Sea Pink, Sea Lavender, commonly Q6v 180
called Thrift, is frequently used for borders of flower beds.
It covers some of the most sterile cliffs.
and there,
Crush’d by the fisher, as he stands to markSome distant signal, or approaching bark,The Saltwort’s Line 177.Salsola kali, Saltwort. This plant when
burnt affords a fossile alkali, and is used in the manufacture
of glass. The best is brought from the Mediterranean,
and forms a considerable article of commerce. It is
very frequent on the cliffs on the Sussex coast.
starry stalks are thickly sown,
Like humble worth, unheeded and unknown!—From depths where Corals spring from crystal caves,And break with scarlet branch the eddying waves,180Where Algæ 181.Algæ, Sea weeds of many sorts. Sea Lace,
line 183, is one of them. Algæ, Fuci and Conferva,
include, I believe, all sea plants.
stream, as change the flowing tides,
And where half flower, half fish, the Polyp 182.Polyp, the Polypus, or sea Annemone. hides,And long tenacious bands of Sea-lace twineRound palm-shaped leaves empearl’d with Coralline, 184.Coralline is, if I do not misunderstand the
only book I have to consult, a shelly substance, the
work of sea insects, adhering to stones and to sea-weeds.
Enamour’d Fancy, now the Sea-maids calls,And from their grottos dim, and shell-paved halls,Charm’d by her voice, the shining train emerge,And buoyant float above the circling surge,Green Byssus, 189.Flos aquæ, Green Byssus, Paper Byssus, a semitransparent
substance floating on the waves.
waving in the sea born-gales,
Form’d their thin mantles, and transparent veils,190Panier’d Panier’d is not perhaps a word correctly English, but it
must here be forgiven me.
in shells, or bound with silver strings
Of silken Pinna, 1912.—Pinna, or Sea-Wing, is contained
in a two-valved shell. It consists of fine long silk-like
fibres. The Pinna on the coast of Provence and Italy, is
called the silk-worm of the sea. Stockings and gloves of
exquisite fineness have been made of it. See note 27th
to the Œconomy of Vegetation.
The subsequent lines attempt a description of sea plants,
without any correct classification.
each her trophy brings
Of plants, from rocks and caverns sub-marine,With leathery branch, and bladder’d buds between;There its dark folds the pucker’d Laver spreadWith trees in miniature of various red;There flag-shaped Olive leaves depending hung,And fairy fans from glossy pebbles sprung:P5v166Then her terrestial train the Nerieds meet,And lay their spoils saline at Flora’s feet.
O! fairest of the fabled forms that stream,200Dress’d by wild Fancy, thro’ the Poet’s dream,Still may thy attributes, of leaves and flowers,Thy gardens rich, and shrub-o’ershadowed bowers,And yellow meads, with Springs first honors bright,The child’s gay heart, and frolic step invite;And, while the careless wanderer exploresThe umbrageous forest, or the rugged shores,Climbs the green down, or roams the broom-clad waste,May Truth and Nature form his future taste.Goddess! on Youth’s bless’d hours thy gifts bestow,210Bind the fair wreath on Virgin Beauty’s brow,And still may Fancy’s brightest flowers be woveRound the gold chains of Hymeneal love;But most for those, by Sorrow’s hands oppress’d,May thy beds blossom, and thy wilds be drest;And where, by Fortune, and the World, forgot,The Mourner droops in some sequester’d spot,(‘Sad luxury to vulgar minds unknown’)O’er blighted happiness, for ever gone,Yet the dear image seeks not to forget,220But wooes his grief, and cherishes regret,Loving with fond and lingering pain, to mournO’er joys and hopes that never will return,Thou, visionary Power, may’st bid him viewForms not less lovely—and as transient too,And while they sooth the wearied Pilgrim’s eyes,Afford an antepast of Paradise.”

P6r

Notes to Vol. II.

Page 7.—Gossamer.—Gossamer is the web of a very
small spider. In that entertaining and instructive book,
White’s History of Selborne, is an account of a wonderful
shower of gossamer which fell in and about that village,
on the 1741-09-2121st of September, 1741. The letter containing
the history of this phenomenon concludes thus— “Every
day in fine weather, in Autumn chiefly, do I see those
spiders shooting out their webs and mounting aloft.
They will go off from your finger if you will take them
in your hand. Last Summer one alighted on my
book as I was reading in the parlour; and running to
the top of the page, and shooting out a web, took its
departure from thence. But what I most wondered at
was, that it went off with considerable velocity, in a
place where no air was stirring; and I am sure I did
not assist it with my breath; so that these little
crawlers seem to have, while mounting, some locomotive
power, without the use of wings, and to move
in the air faster than the air itself.”
White’s History of Selborne, p. 192.
12.—The Nautilus—Argonauta Argo.—The paper
Nautilus. “This elegant shell is inhabited by an animal
resembling the Sepia octopodia. In calm weather P6v 168
it rises to the surface, and spreads out its arms
over the shell, which serves it for oars; and raising
and expanding a double membrane of wonderful
tenuity, as a sail, it glides along with the breeze.
When danger threatens, it suddenly withdraws into
the shell and sinks to the bottom.”
Elements of Natural
History
, Vermes, p. 384
.
Page 20.—Beacons.—I have often wished to know, whether
the very large stones of many hundred weight, which
are to be seen on the very highest of the South downs,
within a few miles of the sea, surrounded generally by a
trench, and very different from any stones to be found
within many miles, were not artificial, and made by cementing
a great number of smaller stones together. I
think I have read, that some of the immense circles of
stones supposed to have been the temples of the Druids,
were by some enquirers believed to have been thus composed.
But these are questions which I have generally
been stared at for making.
24.—The Wheat-ear, Motacilla Oenanthe.—These
birds frequent open stony places, warrens, downs, &c.
They build in stone quarries, old rabbit holes, &c. making
their nest of dry grass, feathers and horse-hair.
They lay six or eight eggs. They feed on earth-worms
and flies, and in Autumn, when fat, are esteemed a great
delicacy, and caught in great numbers on the hills between
Eastbourne and those above Brighthelmstone.
They are sometimes caught more to the westward, but
are not found so fat as those taken on the more eastern
downs. The females arrive there in March; the male
birds not till a fornight afterwards; in September they
all disappear. About the stone quarries in Somersetshire, Q1r 169
they are, it is said, observed at all times of
the year, but I do not remember to have heard that they
are taken for the table in any other part of England.
Mr. White in his Natural History calls the Wheat-ear
“the Sussex bird.” It does not seem to be ascertained,
whether or not they migrate to France, or other parts of
the continent.—Some birds seem to be only partially
migrants, and do not all leave the countries where they
are bred.
Page 27.—Sandlings, or Sanderlings, Sea Plovers, Sandpipers,
all of the genus, Tringa; these birds, of which
there are many varieties, live on sea insects among the
rocks, and on the sands; many of them appear in March,
and retire in September or October; some remain
throughout the year.
It is usual to see, in certain states of the tide, women
and strong boys wading through the shallow waves;
pushing before them a net, fastened to a pole, to catch
Prawns, Cancer serratus, and Shrimps, Cancer Cragon.
On some part of the coast, the former are caught in
ozier pots placed among the rocks, in the same manner
as for lobsters.
27.Conferva.—Of this sea weed there is great variety.
Some of a deep crimson, others pale red, green,
white, or purple; they resemble tufts, or are branched,
and appear like small leafless trees.
Slake or Sloke—Ulva umbilicalis. Sea Thong—Fucus elongatus. Yellow horned Poppy— Glaucium chelidonium. Convolvulus Soldinella— This plant is not frequent on
the Southern coast, but in the West, and about Weymouth,
it is common.
Q Q1v 170 Page 41.—The Humming bird— Trochilus. Natives of
America, and all, except two sorts, of South America.
These beautiful little creatures feed, while, on their
shining wings vibrating with so quick a motion, that it is
not to be perceived, they hang over flowers, of which
they suck the sweet juice—They are courageous, and
fight resolutely against the large spiders that attack their
young—They lay two little pearl-like eggs in a nest made
of cotton—They have an agreeable odour, and seem to
be one of nature’s most finished and beautiful productions
in that class of beings.
47.Ulex, Furze. It is in some countries called
Gorse, in others Whin. It is sometimes sown for fences,
and to make coverts for the protection of game; but is
naturally produced on heaths and waste grounds. There
is a dwarf sort of it.—It is sometimes chopped small and
given to horses to eat, and is cut and stacked up, to burn
lime with.
47.—Whin Chats, Motacilla rubetra. Stone Chats,
Motacilla rubicola.
Common Heath, Erica vulgaris. Cross-leaved Heath,
Erica tetralix. Fine leaved Heath, Erica cenerea
Of these last there are varieties, pink, blush colour, and
white—Cornish Heath, Erica, is found only, I believe,
in that county.
48.—Mushroom, Fungus, Agaric—Of these there is an
infinite variety, but one only is usually eaten in England.
Though the Italians, French, and more particularly the
Russians, consider as very excellent food many Fungusses
which we think unwholesome, and turn from with disgust.
It is certain, however, that several of them are of a poisonous
quality.
Q2r 171 Page 48.—Dodder, Cuscuta—There are of this plant
two sorts, the greater and lesser Dodder. It supports
itself on the sap of the plant to which it adheres.
53.—Missel Thrush, Turdus visivorus. Mr. White,
in his account of singing birds, puts this among those
whose song ceases before Midsummer. It is certainly an
error. This remarkable bird, which cannot be mistaken
for any other, began to sing so early as the second week
in January; and I now hear him uttering a more clamorous
song, the --07-088th of July, between the flying showers.
Whenever the weather is windy or changeable, he announces
it by a variety of loud notes. There is only
one bird of this kind within hearing, who sang last year
to the beginning of August. His food consists of berries
and insects, but principally the former. The fruit of
the Hawthorn, Mesphilus, Elder, Sambucus, Spindletree,
Euonymus, Sloe, Prunus, and Holly, Ilex, occasionally
supply him; but the Missletoe, Viscum, from
whence he takes his name of viscivorous, is his favourite
food. As bird-lime is often made of its glutinous berries,
and this Thrush is supposed to encrease the Missletoe by
depositing the seeds he has swallowed on other trees, he
is said, in a Latin proverb, to propagate the means of his
own destruction.
61.—The Olive tree, Olea Europa. Oil, however
useful, either at our tables or in the Materia Medica,
is yet more so on the continent: a Spanish table presents
almost every kind of food prepared with oil. It is
also much used in Italy and the South of France; and I
have known English people, after a long residence in
those countries, declare, that being accustomed to eat
fine and pure oil, they had no longer any wish for the Q2v 172
indispensible article of English luxury, butter. The inflammation
arising from the stings of venomous reptiles
or insects is removed by an application of olive oil. If
poured on the water, it makes the rough waves subside.
Olives are planted in little groves, round the farms, or as
they are there called Bastides, in the South of France.
Page 82.—Guazume, Theobroma guazuma—a great
Cedar of Jamaica.
Swietan—Mahogani. Pimento, Myrtus PimentoJamaica All-spice. The ground dove—a small dove which creeps on the
ground, is very frequent in the woods of Jamaica. I
have not been able to find its Linnæan name.
Cane, Saccharum officinarum. Coffee, Coffea Arabica. Plumeria, commonly called Tree Jasmin, a most
beautiful and odorous plant.
Punica granata—Pomegranate. Plinia pedunculata, a fragrant native of tropical
countries.
Bats bigger than crows are found in the gullies and
caverns among the woods of Jamaica. And monkeys
hide there, sallying forth in numbers to prey on the canes
and fruits.
Stanza 43.—The wretched negro, fearing punishment,
or driven to despair by continual labour, often secretes
himself in these obscure recesses, and preys in his turn
on his oppressor at the hazard of his life.
――54.—After the toils of the day, the poor African
often walks many miles, and for a few hours loses
the sense of his misery among his friends and companions.
Q3r 173 Stanza 5.—Cocoa-nut-tree, Cocos. Musa Paradisiacus—Plantain or Banana. The Shaddock, which is, I believe, sometimes vulgarly
called the forbidden fruit, is shaped like a lemon with
the colour of an orange; it is sometimes as big as the
largest melon; but not very good to eat. At least those
I have formerly seen brought from Barbadoes were
worth nothing.
Whoever has seen the Cactus grandiflora, and been
gratified with its scent, must acknowledge it to be one of
the most magnificent and delicious productions of vegetable
nature.
Page 92 and 94.—These two short poems have been
before printed.
103.—The Geranium—Of Geraniums and Pelagorniums,
there are almost innumerable varieties. The
plants of that species that grow here are some of the
prettiest ornaments of our hedgerows, meadows, and
downs; but the exotic sorts, which have long been
among the most desirable furniture of the Conservatory,
are principally natives of Africa. A friend of mine, who
has visited the Cape of Good Hope, described to me the
splendid appearance of these beautiful flowers covering
the rocks and sand hills; many of the most elegant
growing as luxuriantly as docks or mallows do here;
while others rise to the size of large shrubs.
Stanza 4.—The Asters are almost the last ornaments
of our gardens; they blow late, and give the appearance
of gaiety when the more beautiful flowers are gone.
Page 117.Morus nigra, the common Mulberry—
The Mulberry-tree, a native of Italy, is cultivated not
only for its grateful fruit, but for the more lucrative purposeQ2 Q3v 174
of supplying food to silk-worms. The leaves of the
white mulberry are preferred for this purpose in Europe;
but in China, where the best silk is made, the silk-worms
are fed with the leaves of the Morus Tartaricus. From
the bark of another species Morus papyrifera, the Japanese
make paper, and the inhabitants of the South
Sea Islands
, the cloth which serves them for apparel.—
Woodville’s Med. Bot..
In Italy, the vines are often seen hanging in festoons
from tree to tree in the plantations of mulberry-trees.
Page 122.—The cankered Rose—It is not to be understood,
that this address is from a lover; a mother, a
brother, or a friend, might equally delight to celebrate
the day that gave birth to the object of their fond affections.
Quipos’s—The Peruvians had a method of expressing
their meaning by narrow knotted ribbands of various
colours, which they called Quipos’s: a certain number of
knots of one colour, divided by so many of another, expressed
particular meanings; and served these simple
and innocent people in the place of the art of writing—
See Lettres Peruviennes.
Rosarie—In old poets this word is used, not as now
for a collection of roses, but for a single tree. I remember
(but I have not the book now) an imitation of Spencer,
by I know not whom, in a poem called Cupid and Psyche,
where Cupid hides in a Rosarie. It is also used in old
French for a rose-tree, though the modern word is rosier.
126.—This apostrophe to St. Antoine was supposed,
as the packet boat Captain said, to be an infallible rereipt
for raising the wind, and was always used for that
purpose by the Portuguese, among whom he had once
been employed.
Q4r 175 Page 131.—Poem, Stanza 3, line 11.—The Paon’s
plume.
The Paon, for peacock, has also the authority of old
writers.
133.—Stanza 6.—Whoever has listened on a still Summer
or Autumnal evening, to the murmurs of the small
waves, just breaking on the shingles, and remarked the
low sounds re-echoed by the distant rocks, will understand
this.
Stanza 7.—The course of those wonderful swarms of
fishes that take their annual journey is, I believe, less
understood than the emigration of birds. I suppose
them, without having any particular ground for my conjecture,
to begin their voyage from beyond the extreme
point of the Southern continent of America. Many of
the Northern nations live almost entirely on fish. Their
light, during the long night of an arctic winter, is supplied
by the oil of marine animals.
Stanza 8.—In the countries where the produce of the
sea is so necessary to human life, the arrival of shoals of
fish is most eagerly waited for by the hardy inhabitant.
Thrown on the summit of an high clift, overlooking the
sea, the native watches for the approach of the expected
good, and sees with pleasure the numerous sea birds,
who, by an instinct superior to his own, perceive it a far
greater distance, and follow to take their share of the
swarming multitude.
133, Stanza 9.—Ling, a name given in many parts of
England to the Erica vulgaris—Common Heath.
134.—Stanza 10.Anas molissima— While many sea-
birds deposit their eggs on the bare rocks, the elider Duck
lines her nest most carefully with the feathers from her Q4v 176
own breast, which are particularly fine and light: the
nest is robbed, and she a second time unplumes herself
for the accomodation of her young. If the lining be
again taken away, the drake lends his breast feathers;
but if, after that, their unreasonable persecutors deprive
it of its lining, they abandon the nest in despair, the master
of the domicile wisely judging, that any farther sacrifice
would be useless.
Page 134. Stanza 11.—Suspended by a slight rope, the
adventurous native of the North of Scotland is let down from
the highest cliffs that hang over the sea, while with little
or no support, he collects the eggs of the sea fowl, in a
basket tied round his waist. The feathers also of these
birds gathered from the rocks, are a great object to these
poor industrious people.
Stanza 11.Pelicanus Banssanus, the Gannet, builds
on the highest rocks.
Stanza 12, line 5.Trichecus rosmarus, the Walruss
or Morse, a creature of the seal kind, now said to be no
longer found on the coast of Scotland, but still inhabiting
other northern countries. They are sometimes eighteen
or twenty feet long, and roar like bulls.
Ditto.—Gulph currents are supposed to throw the remains
of fruits of the tropical regions on the most
northern coast of America, and it is asserted that the
same fruits are also found on the coast of Norway. See
Les Etudes de la Nature.
Q5r 177

Notes to the Poem of Flora.

Line 15.—Whose first prerogative, &c. V.Vide Cowper. “The spleen is seldom felt where Flora reigns,The lowering eye, the petulance, the frown,And sullen sadness, that to shade, distort,And mar the face of beauty, when no causeFor such immeasurable grief appears,These Flora banishes.” 33.Saxifrage hypnoides, Moss Saxifrage, commonly
called Ladies cushion.
38.Carduus, the Thistle. 41.Convolvulus arvensis, a remarkably pretty plant,
but no favourite with the husbandman.
45.Scandix pectum, Venus’s comb, or Shepherd’s
needle.
48.Anthoxanthum,Vernal Meadow grass. It is to
this grass that hay owes its fine odour.
60.Aphis or Aphides.—These are the “myriads
brush’d from Russian wilds;”
the blights, cankers, lice,
or vermin, to use common phrases, that so often destroy
and disfigure the fairest vegetable productions.
63.Lichen.—Of these many have the forms of
shields, when in fructification.
64.Lunaria annua, Moon wort, usually called Honesty.
65.Digitalis purpurea, common Fox-glove. 66.Scutellaria galericulata, small Skull-cap. 7767.Leontodon officinalis, common Dent-de-lion. Q5v 178 Line 70.Arum maculatum, Arum, vulgarly Cuckoo
pint, or Lords and Ladies.
71.Arctium lappa, Burdock. 74.Forficula, the Earwig. 7475.Libellula, the Dragon fly, or as it is called in the
southern countries, the Horse-stinger, though it preys
only on other insects. Several sorts of these are seen
about water, but its introduction here is a poetical license,
as it does not feed on or injure flowers.
77.Formica.—In one state of their existence the
male Ants have wings.
78.Scarabeus, the Beetle. 82.—The silk-like tuft within the plant called Tredescantia
appears to the eye composed of very fine filaments;
but on examining one of these small silky threads through
a microscope, it looks like a string of amethysts.
83.Cistus helianthemum, Dwarf Cistus. 84.Yucca, Thready Yucca, an Aloe, I believe. 85.—The wild bee, Apis centuncularis.—This insect
weaves or rather cements rose leaves together to form its
cell.
88.Hypericum, an elegant shrub, of which Cowper
thus speaks— “Hypericum all bloom, so thick a swarmOf flowers like flies cloathing her slender rodsThat scarce a leaf appears.”
It seems admirably adapted to a fairy garland.
93.Passiflora, the Passion flower. 98.Spatha, the sheath from which many flowers
spring, such as the Narcissus,&c.
100.—The scales of one species of the Xeranthemum
are particularly elegant.
Q6r 179 Line 101.Ophrys, Spiral Ophrys, Ladies traces.

The following lines describing well known flowers, notes
would be superfluous.

Line 129.Hippocastanum, Horse-chestnut. 130.Pinus lariæ, Larch. 131.Pinuus sylvestris, Scotch Fir. 133.Quercus rober, the Oak. 142.Polypodium, filix femina, female Fern. ――Scolopendrium, Hart’s tongue, more usually
called Adder’s tongue.
146.Motacilla salicaria, the reed Sparrow, or willow
Wren. A bird that in a low and sweet note imitates
several others, and sings all night.
――Alcedo ispida, the King fisher, or Halcyon, one
of the most beautiful of English birds.
150.Nymphea alba, the white Water lily. 151.Galium palustre. White Lady’s bed straw. 152.Epilobiums, various species of Willow herbs. 157.Iris palustris, common Flag, or yellow Iris. ――Sagittaria, Arrow-head. 158.Ranunculus aquaticus, white water Crow-foot. 15861.—Butomus, the flowering rush, or water
Gladiole,
the only native of England of the class Enneandria
hexagynia
.
168.Chelidonium, the horned or sea-Poppy. See a
former note.
169.Eryngium maritimum, Sea Holly. 173.Tamarix gallica, the Tamarisk. This elegant
shrub is not very uncommon on cliffs in the West of
England, and was in 18001800 to be found on an high rock
to the Eastward of the town of Hastings, in Sussex.
174.Statice, Sea Pink, Sea Lavender, commonly Q6v 180
called Thrift, is frequently used for borders of flower beds.
It covers some of the most sterile cliffs.
Line 177.Salsola kali, Saltwort. This plant when
burnt affords a fossile alkali, and is used in the manufacture
of glass. The best is brought from the Mediterranean,
and forms a considerable article of commerce. It is
very frequent on the cliffs on the Sussex coast.
181.Algæ, Sea weeds of many sorts. Sea Lace,
line 183, is one of them. Algæ, Fuci and Conferva,
include, I believe, all sea plants.
182.Polyp, the Polypus, or sea Annemone. 184.Coralline is, if I do not misunderstand the
only book I have to consult, a shelly substance, the
work of sea insects, adhering to stones and to sea-weeds.
189.Flos aquæ, Green Byssus, Paper Byssus, a semitransparent
substance floating on the waves.
Panier’d is not perhaps a word correctly English, but it
must here be forgiven me.
1912.—Pinna, or Sea-Wing, is contained
in a two-valved shell. It consists of fine long silk-like
fibres. The Pinna on the coast of Provence and Italy, is
called the silk-worm of the sea. Stockings and gloves of
exquisite fineness have been made of it. See note 27th
to the Œconomy of Vegetation.
The subsequent lines attempt a description of sea plants,
without any correct classification.

The End.

J. Arliss, Printer, 38, Newgate-Street, London.