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Soine time since its discovery, this echo is become totaliy silent, though the object or hop-kiln remains : nor is there any mystery in this defect; for the field between is planted as a hop-garden, and the voice of the speaker is totally absorbed and lost among the poles and entangled foliage of the hops. And when the poles are removed in autumn, the disappointment is the same, because a tall quickset hedge, nurtured up for the purpose of shelter to the hopground, entirely interrupts the impulse and repercussion of the voice : so that, till those obstructions are removed, no more of its garrulity can be expected.

Should any gentleman of fortune think an echo in his park, or outlet, a pleasing incident, he might build one at little or no expense.

For whenever he had occasion for a new barn, stable, dog-kennel, or the like structure, it would be only needful to erect this building on the gentle declivity of a hill, with a like rising opposite to it, at a few hundred yards' distance; and perhaps success might be the easier ensured, could some canal, lake, or stream intervene. From a seat at the centrum phonicum, he and his friends might amuse themselves sometimes of an evening with the prattle of this loquacious nymph; of whose complacency and decent reserve more may be said than can with truth of every individual of her sex; since she is

quæ nec reticere loquenti, Nec prior ipsa loqui didicit resonabilis echo." P. S.—The classic reader will, I trust, pardon the following lovely quotation, so finely describing echoes, and so poetically accounting for their causes from popular superstition:

Quæ benè quom videas, rationem reddere possis
Tute tibi atque aliis, quo pacto per loca sola
Saxa pareis formas verborum ex ordine reddant,
Palanteis comites quom monteis inter opacos
Quærimus, et magnâ dispersos voce ciemus.
Sex etiam, aut septem loca vidi reddere voces
Unam quom jaceres: ita colles collibus ipsis
Verba repulsantes iterabant dicta referre.
Hæc loca capripedes Satyros, Nymphasque tenere
Finitimi fingunt, et Faunos esse loquuntur;
Quorum noctivago strepitu, ludoque jocanti

Adfirmant volgo taciturna silentia rumpi,
Chordarumque sonos fieri, dulceisque querelas,
Tibia quas fundit digitis pulsata canentum:
Et genus agricolûm latè sentiscere, quom Pan
Pinea semiferi capitis velamina quassans,
Unco sæpe labro calamos percurrit hianteis,
Fistula silvestrem ne cesset fundere musam."

LUCRETIUS, lib. iv. l. 576.

LETTER XXXIX.

TO THE HONOURABLE DAINES BARRINGTON.

SELBORNE, May 13, 1778. MONG the many singularities attending those

amusing birds, the swifts, I am now confirmed in the opinion that we have every year the same number of pairs invariably; at least,

the result of my inquiry has been exactly the same for a long time past. The swallows and martins are so numerous, and so widely distributed over the village, that it is hardly possible to recount them; while the swifts, though they do not all build in the church, yet so frequently haunt it, and play and rendezvous round it, that they are easily enumerated. The number that I constantly find are eight pairs ; about half of which reside in the church, and the rest build in some of the lowest and meanest thatched cottages. Now, as these eight pairs, allowance being made for accidents, breed yearly eight pairs more, what becomes annually of this increase; and, what determines every spring which pairs shall visit us, and reoccupy their ancient haunts ?

1 It has been proved by experiment that swallows and swifts return to haunts where in previous years they have successfully reared their young. The birds have been caught upon their nests, and after being marked by having particular claws cut, or by having a little bit of ribbon or silver wire fastened round the foot, have been again liberated. The following year the marked birds have been recaptured in the same locality.--ED.

Ever since I have attended to the subject of ornithology, I have always supposed that that sudden reverse of affection. that strange årtiotópyn which immediately succeeds in the feathered kind to the most passionate fondness, is the occasion of an equal dispersion of birds over the face of the earth. Without this provision, one favourite district would be crowded with inhabitants, while others would be destitute and forsaken. But the parent birds seem to maintain a jealous superiority, and to oblige the young to seek for new abodes; and the rivalry of the males in many kinds prevents their crowding the one on the other.

Whether the swallows and house martins return in the same exact number annually is not easy to say, for reasons given above; but it is apparent, as I have remarked before in my Monographies, that the numbers returning bear no manner of proportion to the numbers retiring.

LETTER XL.

TO TIE HONOURABLE DAINES BARRINGTON.

SELBORNE, June 2, 1778. HE standing objection to botany has always

been, that it is a pursuit that amuses the fancy and exercises the memory, without improving the mind, or advancing any real

knowledge; and, where the science is carried no farther than a mere systematic classification, the charge is but too true. But the botanist that is desirous of wiping off this aspersion, should be by no means content with a list of names; he should study plants philosophically, should investigate the laws of vegetation, should examine the powers and virtues of efficacious herbs, should promote their cultivation; and graft the gardener, the planter, and the husbandman on the phytologist. Not that system is by any means to be thrown aside— without system the field of Nature would be a pathless wilderness; but system should be subservient to, not the main object of, pursuit.

Vegetation is highly worthy of our attention; and in itself is of the utmost consequence to mankind, and productive of many of the greatest comforts and elegancies of life. To plants we owe timber, bread, beer, honey, wine, oil, linen, cotton, &c., what not only strengthens our hearts and exhilarates our spirits, but what secures us from inclemencies of weather, and adorns our persons. Man, in his true state of nature, seems to be subsisted by spontaneous vegetation; in middle climes, where grasses prevail, he mixes some animal food with the produce of the field and garden ; and it is towards the polar extremes only that, like his kindred bears and wolves, he gorges himself with flesh alone, and is driven, to what hunger has never been known to compel the very beasts, to prey on his own species.

The productions of vegetation have had a vast influence on the commerce of nations, and have been the great promoters of navigation, as may be seen in the articles of sugar, tea, tobacco, opium, ginseng, betel, paper, &c. As every climate has its peculiar produce, our natural wants bring on a mutual intercourde; so that by means of trade each distant part is supplied with the growth of every latitude. But without the knowledge of plants and their culture, we must have been content with our hips and haws, without enjoying the delicate fruits of India, and the salutiferous drugs of Peru.

Instead of examining the minute distinctions of every various species of each obscure genus, the botanist should endeavour to make himself acquainted with those that are useful. You shall see a man readily ascertain every herb of the field, yet hardly know wheat from barley, or at least one sort of wheat or barley from another.

But of all sorts of vegetation the grasses seem to be most neglected; neither the farmer nor the grazier seem to distinguish the annual from the perennial, the hardy from the tender, nor the succulent and nutritive from the dry and juiceless.

1 See the late voyages to the South Seas.-G. W.

The study of grasses would be of great consequence to a northerly and grazing kingdom. The botanist that could improve the sward of the district where he lived, would be a useful member of society—to raise a thick turf on a naked soil would be worth volumes of systematic knowledge; and he would be the best commonwealth's man that could occasion the growth of “two blades of grass where one alone was seen before."

LETTER XLI.

TO THE HONOURABLE DAINES BARRINGTON.

SELBORNE, July 3, 1778. Na district so diversified with such a variety of hill and dale, aspects and soils, it is no wonder that great choice of plants should be found. Chalks, clays, sands, sheep-walks

and downs, bogs, heaths, woodlands, and champaign fields, cannot but furnish an ample Flora. The deep rocky lanes abound with Filices,' and the pastures and moist woods with Fungi. If in any branch of botany we may seem to be wanting, it must be in the large aquatic plants, which are not to be expected on a spot far removed from rivers, and lying up amidst the hill country at the spring heads. To enumerate all the plants that have been discovered within our limits would be a needless work; but a short list of the more raro, and the spots where they are to be found, may be neither unacceptable nor unentertaining:

Helleborus foetidus, stinking hellebore, bear's foot, or setterwort, all over the High Wood and Coney Croft Hanger; this continues a great branching plant the winter through, blossoming about January, and is very ornamental in shady

[graphic]

1 The ferns, though abundant in this district, belong comparatively to few species.-En.

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