i 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.

ii π1v iii 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 iv 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 v 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; vi 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 vii 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 viii 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.
ix A4r

Conversation the First.

x A4v 1 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 2 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 3 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.

4 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. 5 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 6 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.

7 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 8 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.9B5r9Ah, 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.

10 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.

11 B6r 11

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.

12 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 gardens13 C1r 13 dens 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 14 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.15C2r15Now 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.

16 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.

17 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 18 C3v 18 ployed 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 19 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, 20 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 21 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 22 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 23 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 24 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 25 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 26 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 27 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.

28 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 29 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 30 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, 31 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 32 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 enemies33 D5r 33 mies 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! 34 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.

35 D6r

Conversation The Second.

36 D6v 37 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 38 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!39E2r39Fly 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 40 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.

41 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 42 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 43 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!44E4v44Thus unexperienc’d rashness will presumeOn the fair promise of life’s opening day,Nor dreams how soon the adverse storms may comeThat 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 45 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. 46 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,47E6r47And 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?

48 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?

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! 49 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 50 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 51 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, 52 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, 53 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 54 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 55 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 56 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 57 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 58 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?59F6r59The 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,60 F6v 60 mouse, 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, 61 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 62 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.

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. 63 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!

64 G2v 65 G3r

Conversation The Third.

G2 66 G3v 67 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 68 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 69 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 Edward70 G5v 70 ward 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!

71 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.

72 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 farther73 H1r 73 ther 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 74 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, 75 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. 76 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 disposition77 H3r 77 position 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 78 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.

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.

79 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.

80 H4v 80

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.

81 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 82 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 83 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; 84 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, 85 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 86 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 87 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,88 I2v 88 ing, 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 prepossessed89 I3r 89 possessed 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 90 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?

91 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 92 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 believe93 I5r 93 lieve 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; 94 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 95 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 96 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;97K1r97For 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 98 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 99 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 100 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.101K3r101As 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.K2102K3v102Soaring 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 103 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! 104 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 105 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 106 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!

107 K6r

Conversation The Fourth.

108 K6v 109 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 impromptu1. L 110 L1v 110 promptu 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 111 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.112L2v112High 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.

113 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 114 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 115 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 116 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 displayed117 L5r 117 played 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 118 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 119 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 120 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 121 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 122 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 123 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 124 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.125M3r125Then 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;Hottonia Hottonia, 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 Menyanthes Menyanthis, 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 Orchis Orchis 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 Brionia Byronia dioica, Byrony. winds her pale and scolloped leaves.To later Summer’s fragrant breathClemati’s Clematis 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 Galium Galium—many species. weaves its myriad fairy flowers.M2126M3v126Sheltering 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 Arundo Arundo, Reed— many species. o’er the tides;And there the bright Nymphea Nymphea 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 dewConceal’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 127 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 persons128 M4v 128 sons 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 129 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, 130 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 131 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 132 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. 133 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.134N1v134I 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.

135 N2r

Conversation The Fifth.

136 N2v 137 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 138 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 139 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 140 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.

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 141 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 142 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, 143 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.144N6v144A 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.

145 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 146 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 147 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. 148 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.149 O3r 149 cynum. 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’s Botanical 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 150 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.151O4r151Ill-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 170 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,152O4v152How 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. 153 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,154O5v154While 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!

155 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 156 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 157 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 158 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 159 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 160 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 161 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.

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 162 P3v 162 Farewell! the meadows, where such various showers Of beauty lurked, among the fragrant hay; Where orchis Orchis 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 163 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 yourselves164 P4v 164 selves 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.

165 P5r

Notes to Vol. 1.

166 P5v 167 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. 168 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. 169 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 170 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.

171 Q2r 172 Q2v
i 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.

ii A1v
1 B1r

Conversation The Sixth.

2 B1v 3 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 4 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.

5 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 6 B3v 6 bably 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; 7 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 design8B4v8In 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 9 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 10 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 mercantile11 B6r 11 tile 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 weather168 P6v 168 ther 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 12 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.13C1r13While 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 14 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.

15 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 16 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, 17 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 18 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.

19 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, 20 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 21 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 Somersetshire169 Q1r 169 shire, 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 22 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 23 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, 24 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.

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, 25 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 26 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; 27 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.28D2v28But 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 perfectly29 D3r 29 fectly 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 30 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 31 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 32 D4v 32 children, let us return to our lodgings. This has not been an unpleasant, nor I hope an unprofitable day.

33 D5r

Conversation The Seventh.

34 D5v 35 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 36 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 37 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 38 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 39 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, 40 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.

41 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.

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 42 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! 43 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 44 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 45 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.46 E5v 46 placed. 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 apparent47 E6r 47 parent 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 warms48E6v48Their 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. spreadsFrom 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 hearts49F1r49Some 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 50 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 51 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 52 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 53 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.

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 54 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.

55 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 56 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 57 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 58 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 172 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 59 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 60 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. 61 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,G62G1v62To 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 63 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.

64 G2v 65 G3r

Conversation The Eighth.

G2 66 G3v 67 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.

68 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 69 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.

70 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 71 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 72 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 73 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 74 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 75 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 76 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,

77 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 78 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.

79 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 80 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,81 H5r 81 rectly, 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 82 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.83H6r83Nor 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 unfoldHer 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.84H6v84Ye 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.

85 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 86 I1v 86 suits 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 87 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 88 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, 89 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 90 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 91 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 92 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, 93 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.

94 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 95 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, 96 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.

97 K1r

Conversation The Ninth.

K 98 K1v 99 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 100 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 101 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 102 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. 103 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.104K4v104Oh 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 considerable105 K5r 105 siderable 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 106 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 107 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 108 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 109 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 110 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 111 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 112 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, 113 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 114 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 115 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; 116 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. 117 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 174 Q3v 174 pose 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’sMed. 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.118L5v118They 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.

119 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 120 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 121 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 122 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.123M2r123An 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.124M2v124Unfinished 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.125 M3r 125 ing. 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 126 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 127 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 128 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.

129 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 susuráreFrangersi 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 130 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. 131 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;132M6v132And 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,133N1r133From 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,N134N1v134Riches 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 176 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; whereThe 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 Gannets Stanza 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. 135N2r135And 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.

136 N2v 137 N3r

Conversation The Tenth.

138 N3v 139 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, 140 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,141 N5r 141 ciful, 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 142 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 143 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 144 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 145 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 146 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, 147 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 148 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 149 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 150 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,151 O4r 151 tage, 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 152 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 153 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 disliking154 O5v 154 liking 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 independent155 O6r 155 dent 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, misunderstand156 O6v 156 stand 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; 157 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 158 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, 159 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,160P2v160And 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,161P3r161The 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.60For 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,70This 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,P2162P3v162Fearless 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;100And 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 round163P4r163The 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!164P4v164Each 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,165P5r165Down 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 bareIs tufted by the Statice; 174.Statice, Sea Pink, Sea Lavender, commonly 180 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 stringsOf 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 bringsOf 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:166P5v166Then 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.

167 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 weather168 P6v 168 ther 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 Somersetshire169 Q1r 169 shire, 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 170 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. 171 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 172 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. 173 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 174 Q3v 174 pose 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’sMed. 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. 175 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 176 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. 177 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. 178 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. 179 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 180 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.