Зображення сторінки

fusion of treble, tenor, and bass. But there was so harshly and unduly expressed, the good doctor seldom much happiness and harmony in their hearts, that no showed any open opposition, so strong was the force of one cared for a little musical discord.

habit and of filial respect. Therefore he now only said, Supper came, for • not even love can live upon air.' | 'Father, have you thought what you do in saying I Abundance of mirth was there amidst the good things, shall not go. The boy has no proper assistance; he particularly when the splendid dish of trifle came on, may die, and thenand little Bessie Renwick got the ring, and Aunt Isabel Mr Renwick's stern lineaments relaxed a little of the ill-omened sixpence! It actually made her look their expression, but he made no answer. Then his grave for a minute, though, until her lover whispered aged wife took his hand, and looking at him with swimsomething that made her smile and blush. There was ming eyes, said mournfully, “John, remember when our little fear of Isabel dying an old maid! The time passed own Arthur died twenty years ago; if any one had kept so quickly, that only just had the happy circle drank help away from him then! And Letty was his favourite the healths of grandpapa and grandmamma, and grand- sister; and the boy is our own grandchild, and named papa had returned thanks in a few touching words, after him too. John, dear husband, do not be harsh ; which made them grave in the midst of their fun, when, let James go!' lo! the clock struck twelve!

Many others joined their imploring voices to the And now came the grand ceremony. Dr James Ren- aged mother's, and Mr Renwick was softened; but still wick rose up with great solemnity of visage. Nothing he would scarcely yield his authority. made them laugh so much as to see the mock gravity 'I will neither say yea nor nay; let James do as he of merry Uncle James. Bearing a light in each hand, pleases : I will hear no more of this.' the doctor went to his hall-door, followed by the whole Dr Renwick stayed not a moment, lest his father's troop. What a noise and confusion did they make in mood should change, but was gone on his errand of the narrow old-fashioned passage ycleped the hall! And mercy. now, the lights being resigned to the care of his eldest There was no more merriment for the young people son, Dr Renwick unfastened the bolts, and the door flew that night; they were all too deeply touched. The aged open, letting in, besides the New Year, such a gust of pair. soon retired, and the various families departed to biting January night-wind as nearly extinguished the their several homes. In an hour all was quiet in the candles, and made the whole party shiver and hasten to doctor's house. Mrs James Renwick alone sat waiting the warm drawing-room with great celerity.

her husband's return, and thinking over in her kind Just as Dr Renwick was about to close the door, and heart how this might end. Every other eye was sealed retire also, some one called him from without.

in repose save one, and that was the aged mother's. Wait a minute, doctor, pray. I want you, sir, if On New-Year's morning the family met as usual ; you please.'

Dr James Renwick looked pale and careworn, but he Some patient, I suppose,' said the doctor. Well, did not speak of his last night's visit. The grandfather come in, friend; it is too cold to stand talking outside.' did not allude to it neither, and no one else dared

The man came in, and Dr Renwick and his untimely mention the subject in his presence. At last the chilvisitor retired to the study.

dren separated to their various avocations, and Mr and What has become of Uncle James ?' was soon the Mrs Renwick were left alone with James and his wife. general cry, and some of the more daring of the young. There was an uneasy silence, broken only by the clicksters rushed up and down the house in search of him. ing sound of the old lady's knitting, which she pursued He was found in the study alone, but he looked very busily, though her fingers trembled, and several heavy grave, and it was no pretence now.

tears dropped on the work. At last the doctor rose 'I cannot go up stairs again,' he said; I have to go and walked to the window, observed that it was a out immediately. The children intreated, and Mrs gloomy day, and began searching for his gloves. James Renwick expostulated, knowing that her hus • Before you go out, James,' said Mrs Renwick, with band had no patients on his list likely to require him at an evident effort at unconcern, you might as well say that time of night; until at last grandpapa sent down how that boy is ? ' to know what was the matter.

• You mean poor Arthur? He is better. I think he *I am sure there is no need for you to leave us in this may recover.' way, James,' said the old man rather querulously ; 'and * Thank God for that!' murmured the old lady ferat least you might tell us where you are going.'

vently, I had rather not,' said the plain-spoken James Ren Did you see Letty-Mrs Hartford I mean?' asked wick; but if you still ask me, father, I will tell you.'

the father after a pause. · Yes; tell us now.'

*I did,' answered the doctor concisely. Well, then, it is to my sister's; to Mrs Hartford's.' * Dear James, tell us all that passed?' whispered the

•What business have you with her?' cried the angry poor old mother. Mr Renwick turned over the pages old man; 'what have you to say to the grand party ?' of a book, but he made no opposition ; while the doctor

* There is no gaiety at the Priory to-night, but much sat down beside his mother and began to tell his story. sorrow,' answered Di Renwick gravely. Arthur Hart • When I reached the Priory, all was confusion. Poor ford met with a dreadful accident this afternoon; he is Letty was in violent hysterics. I heard her screams still insensible, and his mother is almost frantic by the the moment I entered the house, so I knew it was of no bedside of her only son.'

use asking to see her. The father, they told me, was There was a gloomy silence over the party at these hanging over his insensible boy. I sent word to him words. Old Mrs Renwick began to weep; but her that I had come to offer what assistance I could ; and husband said harshly, “She deserves it; and yet I am he was with me in a moment, wringing my hands, and sorry. I always heard good of young Arthur. Did she imploring me to save poor Arthur. I never thought send for you?'

how misery could have bent the man's proud spirit. * No; only old Ralph-you remember him-came to Mr Hartford, who passed me but yesterday without a tell me; and he begged me to go, for both Mr and Mrs glance, would now have knelt to intreat me to forget Hartford are almost beside themselves with grief, and the past, and do what I could for his son.' the doctor they have knows nothing at all.'

And you did—you were successful, James?' said You shall not go, James Renwick; no child of mine old Mrs Renwick anxiously. shall enter that ungrateful woman's doors without being “Yes; after a time the boy came to his senses : he is intreated to do so,' said the old man.

a fine fellow! He knew me directly, and looked so D: Renwick had been accustomed all his life to joyfully from me to his father, who had clasped my render obedience to his father; often, indeed, to a degree hand in overpowering gratitude.' very unusual in a son who had himself become the head * And poor Letty ?' again asked the weeping mother. of a family. Even when the old man's commands were • When she was a little calmer, I went to her with

Mr Hartford. She started at seeing me; but her hus * And see how happy grandmamma looks! I heard band said, “ Letty, you must thank your brother for her say that Aunt Hartford was almost as handsome saving Arthur's life.” And then she threw herself into as the bride, though I think Aunt Isabel is much supemy arms, and poured forth such a torrent of thanks, rior.' and blessings, and self-reproaches, that it almost made Well, never mind, William ; we are all very happy; a child of me. Poor Letty! she is much altered,' added it has all turned out like a fairy tale; and I am sure the good doctor, his voice growing husky as he looked we can say with truth that this has been for us all a steadily into the fire.

happy New Year.' All this time the stern old father had not uttered a word. For a few minutes none of the party spoke. At last

THE FOREST OF ARDEN. Mrs Renwick glanced timidly at her husband, and Ever since I first perused that most delightful play of whispered, 'Did she say anything about us, James?' Shakspeare, · As You Like It,' the very name of which

“Yes, mother, she asked after you both, said how calls up visions of woods and brooks, and all the poetic glad she always was to hear of you in any way, and charms of sylvan life, I entertained a longing desire to wept much when she spoke of you.'

visit the Forest of Arden; but it was not till last year Mr Renwick lifted up his head; he had bent his face that I found time for this pilgrimage to a scene conseon his hands lest they should see the working of his crated by our great English dramatist. Arden, or, as features, and said, “What truth, think you, is there in it is now called, Ardennes, is a district in the southern that woman's tears, when, not a week since, she passed and little-frequented part of Belgium. Travellers pourher old father and mother in the road; she riding in ing towards the Rhine leave it on the right, and unless her splendid carriage, and the mother that bore her penetrated for a special object, this interesting region trudging wearily on foot; and she never looked towards remains untouched by the wandering tourist. us, but turned her head another way? Do you think I It is not without good reason that Arden has been can forgive that, James Renwick?'

little frequented by strangers. The scenery is moun'I have forgiven her, John,' said the old lady. “She tainous, wild, and curious in the extreme, but has no is our own child, and she is in trouble ; she may repent pretension to the sublime; and from the irregularity of now for the past.'

its surface, it does not afford the opportunity for that I know she does,' added James earnestly. 'She told rapid transit which English tourists in particular so me how she longed to see you ; even her husband seemed much prize. Yet to those who can afford to spend a sorry: he speaks kindly to her, though people say he fortnight loitering amidst its woods, dells, and antique is so proud.'

towns, what scene could be more productive of pleasing * And they expect that your mother and I will go objects of contemplation? Twenty years ago, the more humbly to their fine house?' cried the still incensed secluded part of Arden was a kind of terra incogold man.

nita to all but those born in it. When the late Mr • No, father; that was not what my sister said. She Inglis about that time passed a winter at St Hubert, told me to say she prayed you to forget the past, and its principal town, the people there had never seen let her come and see you here, and be your daughter an Englishman. "The third day,' he says, after my Letty once more.'

arrival, when the girl was laying the cloth for dinner, Dr Renwick stopped, for he saw that his father was she suddenly stopped her work, and addressing me, said, actually weeping. James looked at his wife, and she “ Mais Monsieur êtes vous vraiment un Anglais?" and left the room. For several minutes the aged couple sat upon my assuring her that I was, she continued to look with their hands clasped together in silence; then Mr at me for some moments as I should look upon an inRenwick said in a broken voice, . Tell Letty she may habitant of Terra del Fuego. At that time there was come.'

no road nearer than the Meuse passable for a public “She will come—she is come! my dear father,' cried vehicle. What was then meant by a road, was a track James as the door opened, and Letty flung herself on for a cart, distinguishable from the country only from her knees before her parents, and was clasped to both the circumstance of there being less grass or heath upon, their hearts with full and free forgiveness. The erring it. All this is altered now. Capital macadamised roads child was pardoned—the lost one was found!

are cut right across the district; decent inns, still few Dr Renwick and his wife went silently away together, and far between, have sprung up along them; public with full and thankful hearts for the good which had conveyances, to the number of twenty, traverse it daily, been effected that day. It was their best reward. and the passengers they convey are no longer exclusively

There was deep joy throughout the whole of the natives." Hither flock crowds of tourists and wandering Renwick family when they heard the news. Some of artists--French, Belgians, and Germans; and amongst the younger and gayer spirits thought how pleasant it them, every now and then, appears a solitary Briton, on would be to visit now at Aunt Hartford's beautiful his way to the Moselle and the more beaten regions of house, and ride Cousin Arthur's fine horses, when he the Rhine. recovered. But with more sincerity and disinterested It was a glorious September morning when I left a pleasure did the elders rejoice that there was now no motley group of this description, and turning my back alienation to pain their aged fatliér and mother in their upon the Meuse and the picturesque old town of Dinant, declining years, but that they would now go down to began immediately to ascend by a capital new road the grave in peace, encircled by a family of love. which leads across the country to Metz in France,

Arthur Hartford recovered speedily under his uncle's The day was favourable for walking; clouds drifting at care. He was indeed a noble boy, resembling, both in intervals over the sun, threw the steep hill-sides into person and character, the lost Arthur; so no wonder that alternate light and shadow so dear to the artist, that he soon became the darling of the grandparents. and enabled me to gaze at ease, free from that unsleepThe leaves were hardly green on the trees before there ing enemy the sun. The road ascends uninterruptedly was a joyful family meeting; for it was the wedding of for two miles, showing the great depth of the Meuse Aunt Isabel ; and there were now no absent ones to valley below the level of the country, and then the dry mar the happiness of the festivity, for even the sailor fresh air blows freely round, and we step forth at once had returned.

upon the lofty upper region. About six niles in adThat speech of yours turned out not so very unlucky vance is a noble piece of scenery, hill, wood, and glen, after all,' whispered William Oliphant to his cousin each on the largest scale, intermingling around the Jessie, who hung on his arm, as of old: they were road, which is borne across the opening upon an astoalways great friends.

nishing embankment. A cottage, with its never-ceasing 'No' answered the laughing girl ; 'I dare speak of mill, spugly nestled in the bottom, lent the requisite Aunt Hartford now without fear.'

touch of humankind; and the whole seemed just the

scene where one might fancy the banished duke, with rounding one of the finest churches in Belgium. Here, his sylvan court, to have taken their noontide rest. as the legend goes-which the peasantry all devoutly This, however, was a brief interlude. The country believe-Hubert, the mighty hunter, while pursuing his hereabouts, and for miles in advance, is called the Fa- favourite diversion on Good-Friday eve, beheld a stag mille ; a good corn country, but with little to interest, bearing a cross between its horns. The apparition, and presents the same unvaried succession of round. which he believed to be miraculous, and to be sent from backed hills, each like the other, with occasional glens, Heaven, recalled him from his evil course of life. He which are beautiful when found, but cannot be seen became a holy man, so as to work miracles not merely from the road. At a little distance on the right, King by his hands, but by his garments ; so that even a shred Leopold has his country-seat of Ardenne; small, but of his mantle possessed virtue enough to cure hydrofinely placed in a most solitary situation. The king phobia, if placed on the patient's head; and all hunters is often here, for the advantage of hunting; and his henceforth regarded him as their patron saint. The frequent residence has done as much as anything to abbey church, supposed to be built on the very site of bring the country forward. Besides the palace, a road- his cell, is still a great place of pilgrimage, and the side inn, bearing the royal arms, was the only habita- government has of late years annually given a considertion in sight, where a party of Ardenais (so the men of able sum towards its restoration, besides which, it has the Ardennes are called) were just commencing their received magnificent presents from the queen. Exterdinner ; and as our appetites by this time were pretty nally, it is a square substantial building, only with a sharp-set, we gladly accepted their invitation to join high-peaked roof, but the interior is dazzling. The them.

Ardennes is a marble country, and everything is marble The company consisted, besides the host, of four in the church, from the pavement and pillars to the strapping Ardennes farmers, in their blue blouses, and smallest ornament-red, white, and black marbles in four of the royal guard, in all the finery of spurs, tassels, more than royal profusion. and worsted epaulettes. There was nothing very parti. Our evening's walk to Champlon was not quite so cular about them; but the dinner was a curiosity, and joyous as that of the morning had been; for by this time worth detailing, as a specimen of how the substantial we could say with Touchstone, 'I care not for my spirits, country-folks contrive to live in this part. After the if my legs were not weary. About two miles from St usual thin soup, and the meat from which the said Hubert we re-entered the forest, and walked on, without soup had been extracted, which are the first dishes pre- meeting a soul during two hours, to Champlon, between sented all over the continent, there was placed on the rows of forest-trees, so closely set, that the momentary table by a heavy-built damsel, with flaming red petti- glimpses between the trunks showed like darkness coat and massive gold ear-rings, a huge dish of smoking visible, while from out of their depths the long whine mutton cutlets, with apple-sauce, flanked by dishes of of a wolf followed us with disagreeable distinctness. carrots and potatoes; then came a platter of shelled Not being used to such attendants, the first sensation beans stewed, a common dish here; then an immense was anything but pleasant, and I for one could have bowl of apples, cut into halves, and stewed, followed once more echoed Touchstone's opinion, 'Here I am in by roast fowls, with excellent mushrooms; and then Arden, the more fool I; when I was at home, I was in a some preparation of meat, which I could not identify better place.' Late in the night we reached Champlon, by taste or sight, and exceedingly tough. By this time and having succeeded at last in obtaining comfortable our appetites were pretty well blunted; but the carver, rooms, were soon happy in the full enjoyment of a unappeased, began whetting his blade, and all was ex- good night's rest. When the bright sun came to light pectation, till a noble Ardennes ham made its appear- up all, we found, to our surprise, that the dismal gloom ance, forest-fed, and with a strong smack of what we of the foregoing night, with its thick impenetrable may fancy to be the wild boar flavour, supported by shade of tall straight trunks, had changed into the craw-fish, smoking hot, and no less than four immense prettiest sylvan scene imaginable. Huge oaks and fruit-pies, served up in wicker platters, and a foot at beeches, side by side, flung their massive arms and least in diameter. For the whole repast, the sum asked coronals of leaves over an emerald green turf, with long was one franc (ninepence three-farthings), and for which vistas of light, and sudden breaks opening up between we might have had fruit and coffee in addition if we them into the inmost recesses of the woods; the ash, had pleased. The raw materials at home could hardly the hazel, and the birch mingled with these their lighter have been given for three times the sum.

tints, as in a natural plantation ; and alders and willows After such a meal, I shall make but one step from fringed the many rapid brooks which gurgled on the this to Rochefort, ten miles farther on. The country bottoms, or stagnated in solitary tarns, covered with continues the same, and the only thing remarkable is the dazzling petals of the nymphæa palustris, and other the magnificent construction of the road, which is borne great water-lilies. Still, the farther we strayed, the across deep valleys, and cut through hills, in a manner greater was the variety ; for the forest contains all in more resembling the great works upon a principal rail. itself-wild heaths, scattered rivers and pools, han lets, way line, than an untravelled road in a remote district. villages, and towns, which might elsewhere seem conRochefort gets its name from a castle on a height, the siderable, but are here fairly subdued, and appear as ruins of which are still considerable, and worth a visit; nothing among the wilderness of woods. It is not,' as but its chief attraction is its containing the only Inglis says, 'like the woods which one is accustomed to decent inn within walking distance of the great caverns in England, stretching over plains or the sides of the of Hans, where the turbulent river Lesse forces its way hills. It encloses within it every diversity of hill and through a barrier of hills, and flows through a long suc- dale-deep ravines, wide valleys, rocky steeps, high cession of stalactite caverns for a mile and a half before hills, rivers, streams, and lakes, presenting a combination it emerges into day.

of the most striking and diversified scenery. We trod Another ten miles farther on is the ancient town of St upon a carpet of the greenest velvet; the long arms of Hubert, and half-way between Rochefort and St Hubert the rugged pine or the branching oak occasionally met a solitary oak, at the bottom of a steep ascent, marks overhead, while here and there the trees receded, and the beginning of Ardennes proper--the Arden of the formed little amphitheatres of surpassing beauty ; somepoet. The sun was now fast sinking, when the out- times the path descended into deep dells, sometimes skirts of the great forest of St Hubert appeared close at it climbed abrupt precipices; brooks frequently obhand; and deep black masses of timber-trees sweeping structed its progress, often with no bridge over them, round the horizon, and at this instant overhung by heavy and at times with one formed of the trunks of trees. thunder-clouds, looked imposing and gloomy enough. Sometimes at the opening of a forest vista a deer would The trees have been cleared away for about a mile on bound across ; sometimes at sudden turnings little anieach side of the town, and in the open space stands St mals of the ferret tribe would be seen for an instant, Hlubert, a miserable collection of small houses, sur- and then be heard rustling through the thick brush

his eyes.

wood.' Just as Inglis describes we wandered on who held it in the highest reverence, could give no exthrough the day, and when twilight came, blending planation, but which the learned have agreed to be a everything in its uniform dusky hue, we returned relic of the worship of Diana. to our inn, fully convinced that this was Shakspeare's It may be concluded, from the above, that the ArArden, and no other.

denais are not peculiarly enlightened, which is true; The correspondence, indeed, between the poetic de- but it is only fair to them to add, that, with the intelliscription and the reality is curiously exact, considering gence, they likewise lack some of the besetting vices of the scenes described were unknown to the poct. The people living in large masses. A more simple people savage touches indeed are wanting; the 'green and does not exist. It would be easy to speak of their gilded snake,' and the lioness with udders all drawn valour and military qualities, when, like the Swiss, dry,' from which Orlando delivered his tyrant brother, they served in the armies of Spain and France; but a existed only in the imagination; and though wolves more honourable distinction is their unfailing industry, there are, they are as unlike as possible to their hungry together with the patience they display under calamity. brethren of the Russian steppes--peaceable animals, The traveller cannot fail to be struck, in Belgium, with well fed by royal orders, to be slain in state by great the multitude of beggars which beset him everywherepersonages on great occasions. But the spirit and cha- | by the road-side, at the railway stations and hotels, and racter are given to the life, and it is difficult to believe, in and about the churches : their number is legion. when thus on the spot, that Shakspeare wrote without Even in the happy valley of the Meuse, where agriculactual knowledge of the ground. We know that he ture and manufactures go hand in hand, the pedestrian never was out of England, so that his details are purely may reckon, with tolerable certainty, upon being imporimaginary ; yet few travellers would doubt that he had tuned for charity once in every two miles. In the Aroften been here. Everywhere the wanderer is tempted dennes alone, which is by far the poorest part of Belgium, to identify the names in the poem with the spots before there are no mendicants. There are no rich: here and

He even begins to conjecture about time there a great square building, pierced with many winand place, and to ask himself where the forester lords dows, looking like a manufactory, and called a chateau, most lived, and how long they had led their pleasant denotes a resident proprietor; but these are rare; and life under the greenwood tree. He concludes that it he is rich even for a baron in Ardennes who has a was assuredly summer when Jacques laid himself down thousand pounds a-year. But then there are none at his length under an oak to pore upon the brawling absolutely destitute; all stand alike upon the same level brook; and one winter they would seem to have braved of a real but uncomplaining poverty. During the last among the oaks, and had learned by experience what winter, when the potato crop failed all over Belgium, it is to endure the icy pangs and chiding of the winter's the Ardennes, which had suffered most severely, were wind when in Arden, where the snow lies from No. the only part which did not petition the government vember till March. The reason seems to be that which for relief. Their cottages, built of stone, turf, and Coleridge assigns ; namely, that Shakspeare does not thatch, are small, but reasonably clean. Each cottage give a description of rustic scenery merely for its own contains its Dutch clock assiduously ticking in a corner, sake, or to show how well he can paint an actual object : its pewter and earthenware utensils, its wooden table he only touches upon the larger features and broader and chairs, and ample wood fire, smouldering on a hearth characters, leaving the filling-up to the imagination. of bricks. Rye-bread and potatoes form the staple of Thus a few very brief touches give the glimmer and their food, with coffee when they can get it, and a little gloom of old trees ; so that all the details of the well- tobacco. The means of getting even this are wrung known landscape by Sir George Beaumont, now in the with difficulty from an inferior soil, which the want of National Gallery, are suggested in fourteen words : but capital and markets prevents from being cultivated to what words these are, and how each of these fourteen the best advantage. words helps out the picture! The like has been re As you walk along, small fields and little narrow marked of Sir Walter Scott's descriptions of scenes strips of land of themselves denote the existence of a which he had never personally visited, and is probably number of small proprietors. The agricultural system true of every great imaginative observer of nature. adopted is something like that of out-field and in-field

The constant perception of natural phenomena which once universal in Scotland; but the great resource of they lack the knowledge to explain, the sights and the peasantry, as in all upland countries, is pasturage, sounds of nature in her wilder moods, but especially in and the irrigation of their meadows is pursued by them forests, the roaring and whistling of the wind through with great assiduity and skill. At the time of the the trees, the cries of nocturnal beasts and birds, and snow-melting, when the hill-sides are running with the flitting and reappearing of marsh-lights and exhala- water, the overplus is distributed equally over the surtions—are all eminently calculated to make an unedu- face by a multiplicity of ditches and conduits, the level cated peasantry superstitious; and the foresters of Arden being regulated with great care. The reward of this are no exceptions to the rule. Here flourish undisturbed labour is an abundance of coarse herbage, nourishmany of those beliefs and observances which extended | ing large herds of cattle, the sale of which in the reading is effectually putting to rout on our northern border provinces of France is a chief source of subborders, together with some peculiar to the district. sistence. Many of the streams which feed this verdure The belief in the existence and agency of good and evil are dried up during the fierce heats of summer; and a spirits is more or less prevalent, and mountain spirits, prairie or water-meadow, warranted to last through the dwarfs, and domestic goblins abound. The principal year, fetches a very high price, considering the value of spirits are a kind of lubber fiend,' called Sotays, corre money. It is not probable that the state of things here sponding exactly with the Scottish brownies. They work described will continue much longer. Already a railhard, like the brownies, for those they take a fancy to: way, planned by British engineers, and executed by thrash the corn, and winnow it, mow the hay, clean the British capital, is commenced through the district, to house, and rub down the horses; their customary reward construct which thousands of acres will be dismantled for which is a bowl of milk. The ruined castles which of their timber. The consequent demand for labourers abound hereabouts are believed to be under the peculiar has already raised the labour-price one-half. The railtutelage of a class of evil spirits called 'gattes d'or,' from way will bring lime, and lime will make fruitful cornthe Walloon galt, a goat. The worship of the goddess fields out of desolate heaths. The fine oaks and beeches, Diana, the ancient tutelary genius of the Ardennes, long now rotting on the ground, or felled only for firewood, held its ground against the priests; and on certain fes- owing to a want of the means of transport, will then tivals, not many years ago, was displayed a mysterious realise their value, and a general clearance will ensue. banner, with the likeness of a centaur, half-woman, half. The squirrels will be dismounted; the few remaining horse, ending in a lion's tail, holding a bow in its right wolves knocked on the head; the deer will vanish with hand, and an arrow in its left, for which the peasantry, the destruction of their covers, or survive only in

parks; the sights, sounds, thoughts, and feelings of so practical and prosaic a people, on account of its supepleasant but unprogressive woodland life, will give way rior beauty, but more probably because the roots, as well to the features and habits of a thriving and well-peopled as the seeds, are eatable. The seeds are described by country; and a few venerable trunks, preserved by ac Davis as resembling an acorn without the cup, and the roots cident or taste, will alone mark the site of the perished as being white, juicy, and of a sweet and refreshing taste. Forest of Arden.

Its ' tulip-like but gigantic blossoms, tinted with pink or

yellow, hang over its broad peltated leaves ;' and this BREAD UPON THE WATERS.

gorgeous carpet is spread over immense fields of water.

Cashmere, however, must be considered as the country We are all aware of the importance of water in the ali- par excellence of the water-nut, since there a very conment of plants; but in some parts of the world vegetable siderable portion of the population live upon it alone. food is grown in lakes and rivers, just as here it is culti- This region is embosomed mountains, the culminating Fated in fields. The closest approach we make to this is ridge which shuts it in from the rest of the world forming in our plantations of water-cresses ; but in the south of an oval figure one hundred and twenty miles long and France and in Italy, as we proceed towards a higher lati- seventy miles broad. The plain at the bottom, however, tude, the water-nut-& most important production, as is estimated by Hugel at only seventy-five miles long we shall see—first appears in the market. The seeds of and forty miles broad ; the intermediate space being this plant, which grows in the water, consist of pure edible composed of the precipitous sides of the mountains, fecula, and are eaten raw, roasted, or in soups, and, from swelling out as they descend into green hills, that sink their taste, usually receive the name of water-chestnuts. gracefully into the emerald sward of the plain. The In Venice they were formerly sold, we do not know why, summits are crowned with perpetual snow, and cataracts as Jesuits' Nuts;' and Pliny's account of their being rush down their ravines ; but, on approaching the vale, gathered by the dwellers on the Nile, is confirmed by these torrents lose their fierceness, and roll in smooth some being still occasionally found in the folds of the streams, between undulating hills, till they reach the mummy cloth.

central waters. These are surrounded with perennial In India the water-nut, which is there called Singara, spring, and wander through groves and plains which the is extensively grown, both for local consumption and traveller Bernier concluded to have been actually the transport, and is frequently carried on the backs of bul. site of the Garden of Eden! locks several hundred miles to market. The tanks where The waters are composed of the river Jailum, which it is cultivated are laid out in fields, the limits of which wanders through the whole valley, now expanding into are marked by tall bamboos, and the peasants pay for shallow lakes, one of which is twenty miles long and the holdings by the acre. These water-farmers conduct nine broad, and now rolling in a deep full stream, flanked their operations by means of boats; planting, weeding, by numerous small lakes and tarns. The excessive richand gathering in their singara at the proper seasons, just ness of the vegetation in this remarkable valley is not conas their brethren on land do with their wheat or barley. fined to the dry land; for every piece of water is mantled And a tank in India, be it remembered, is rarely a pond; over either with nuts or lotus. In the Walur lake, sixty it is often a considerable lake, and sometimes might pre- thousand tons of nuts are raised every year, and they are sent to an unaccustomed eye the appearance of an inland the sole subsistence of twenty thousand persons, who sea, with only the high land dimly visible beyond. In such think it an almost intolerable calamity when driven to cases the tanks are not excavations, but extensive valleys, have recourse to any other kind of food. The superficial dammed up at the lower end, so as to confine the waters extent of this lake is a hundred square miles, by which of the district in one immense basin; and the steps which some idea of its extraordinary productiveness may be lead to them, instead of being formed of hewn stone, as formed, supporting as it does two hundred persons to the in smaller works of the kind, are the declivities of granite square mile. mountains. In southern India these vast reservoirs are, The other waters are clothed with the more picturesque in some instances, more than twenty miles in circumfer- lotus, the seeds or beans of which are here eaten as a ence; and we are told of embanked dams between the delicacy when they are unripe; and the leaf-stalks, when Indus and the Suliman mountains thirty miles long. boiled till they are tender, are considered palatable and

The singara lakes have sometimes proved a great bless- nutritious food. The flower and leaf of the lotus always ing to the towns in their neighbourhood—for the water floats; and for this reason, probably, the plant is replants do not fail, like those of the land. Colonel Slee- garded by the Hindoos as a mystic emblem of the preman mentions a lake in Bundelcund which, by means of servation of the vorld during the deluge. In Cashmere, puts and fish, preserved the lives of seven towns during a however, it has the more practical merit of supporting a recent famine. This sheet of water was four miles long considerable part of the population, although no author by two broad; but from the mountain-ridge forming one has attempted to estimate the amount of its produce. of its sides the traveller saw a still more extensive lake, We may add, that the population fed upon such subwhich had answered a similar purpose on a larger scale. stances—including those who live upon the nuts alone The ridge, dominated by the ruined palace of the Hindoo are described by all travellers as being models of strength, prince who constructed the tank, was composed of high symmetry, and beauty. and bare quartz hills, towering above all others, curling The lotus appears to be likewise indigenous in America ; and foaming at the top like a wave ready to burst when and there the seeds, as in Cashmere, are eaten when suddenly arrested by the hand of Omnipotence.'

green. We copy the following very remarkable picture The leaves of the plants float upon the surface of the from ‘Flint's Geography and History of the Western water, and in the earlier part of the day present the States :'appearance of a green field; but in the afternoon their Among the flourishing aquatic plants, there is one pare white flowers expand, and peeping, opening, or that, for magnificence and beauty, stands unrivalled and bursting into beauty, give an agreeable variety to the alone. We have seen it on the middle and southern picture. When the flowers decay, the nut, which is waters; but of the greatest size and splendour on the under the water, begins to ripen, and in September the bayous and lakes of the Arkansas. It has different popuharvest is ready. The white kernel is covered with a lar names. The upper Indians call it Panocco. We have tough brown integument, and the whole is imbedded in a seen it designated by botanists by the name Nymphæa triangular shell. It is not fit for consumption for more nelumbo. It rises from a root resembling the large than three months, when eaten au naturel; but it is like stump of a cabbage, and from depths in the water of two wise used in the form of meal, and will then keep for a or three to ten feet. It has an elliptical, smooth, and considerable time.

verdant leaf, some of the largest being the size of a paraIn China the water-nut is extensively cultivated in sol. These muddy bayous and stagnant waters are often lakes and ponds, but more especially in the shallower so covered with those leaves, that the sandpiper walks waters of the Imperial Canal. T'he sacred lotus, however, abroad on the surface without dipping her feet in the appears to be there more widely diffused; and not, with water. The flowers are enlarged copies of the Nymphaa

« НазадПродовжити »