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LESSON CXXXIII.

The needless alarm :-A Tale.-CowPER.
THERE is a field through which I often pass,
Thick overspread with moss and silky grass,
Adjoining close to Kilwick's echoing wood,
Where oft the she-fox hides her hapless brood,
Reserved to solace many a neighboring squire,
That he may follow them through brake and brier,
Contusion hazarding of neck, or spine,
Which rural gentlemen call sport divine.

A narrow brook, by rushy banks concealed,
Runs in a bottom, and divides the field;
Oaks intersperse it, that had once a head,
But now wear crests of oven-wood instead;
And where the land slopes to its watery bourn,
Wide yawns a gulf, beside a shaggy thorn ;
Bricks line the sides, but shivered long ago,
And horrid brambles intertwine below :-
A hollow, scooped, I judge, in ancient time,
For baking earth, or burning rock to lime.
Not

yet the hawthorn bore her berries red,
With which the fieldfare, wintry guest, is fed ,
Nor Autumn yet had brushed from every spray,
With her chill hand, the mellow leaves away ;
But corn was housed, and beans were in the stack :
Now, therefore, issued forth the spotted pack,
With tails high mounted, ears hung low, and throats
With a whole gamut filled of heavenly notes,
For which, alas! my destiny severe,
Though ears she gave me two, gave me no ear.

The sun, accomplishing his early march,
His lamp now planted on heaven's topmost arch,
When, exercise and air my only aim,
And heedless whither, to that field I came,
Ere yet, with ruthless joy, the happy hound
Told hill and dale that Reynard's track was found,
Or with the high-raised horn's melodious clang
All Kilwick* and all Dinglederry* rang.

Sheep grazed the field : some with soft bosom pressed
The herb, as soft, while nibbling strayed the rest :
Nor noise was heard, save of the hasty brook,

* Two woods belonging to J. Throckmorton, Esa.

Struggling, detained in many a petty nook.
All seemed so peaceful, that, from them conveyed,
To me their peace, by kind contagion, spread.

But when the huntsman, with distended cheek,
'Gan make his instrument of music speak,
And from within the wood that crash was heard,
Though not a hound, from whom it burst, appeared,
The sheep recumbent, and the sheep that grazed,
All huddling into phālanx, stood and gazed,
Admiring, terrified, the novel strain,
Then coursed the field around, and coursed it round again;
But, recollecting, with a sudden thought,
That flight, in circles urged, advanced them nought,
They gathered close around the old pit's brink,
And thought again-but knew not what to think.

The man to solitude accustomed long
Perceives in every thing that lives a tongue;
Not animals alone, but shrubs and trees
Have speech for him, and understood with ease.
After long drought* when rains abundant fall,
He hears the herbs and flowers rejoicing all,
Knows what the freshness of their hue implies,
How glad they catch the largess of the skies :-
But, with precision nicer still, the mind
He scans of every locomotive kind;
Birds of all feather, beasts of every name,
That serve mankind or shun them, wild or tame;
The looks and gestures of their griefs and fears
Have all articulation in his ears;
He spells them true, by intuition's light,
And needs no glossary to set him right.

This truth premised was needful as a text,
To win due crēdence to what follows next.

A while they mused; surveying every face,
Thou hadst supposed them of superior race:
Their periwigs of wool, and fears combined,
Stamped on each countenance such marks of mind,
That sage they seemed, as lawyers o'er a doubt,
Which, puzzling long, at last they puzzle out;
Or academic tutors, teaching youths,
Sure ne'er to want them, mathematic truths ;
When thus a mutton, statelier than the rest,
A ram, the ewes and wethers sad, addressed.

* Pron. drout.

"Friends ! we have lived too long.-I never heard Sounds such as these, so worthy to be feared. Could I believe that winds, for ages pent In earth's dark womb, have found at last a vent, And, from their prison-house below, arise, With all these hideous howlings to the skies, I could be much composed; nor should appear, For such a cause, to feel the slightest fear. Yourselves have seen what time the thunders rolled All night, me resting quiet in the fold. Or, heard we that tremendous bray alone, I could expound the melancholy tone; Should deem it by our old companion made, The ass; for he, we know, has lately strayed, And, being lost perhaps, and wandering wide, Might be supposed to clamor for a guide. But ah! those dreadful yells what soul can hear, That owns a carcass, and not quake for fear! Demons produce them doubtless, brazen-clawed, And, fang'd with brass, the demons are abroad :I hold it, therefore, wisest and most fit, That, life to save, we leap into the pit.”

Him answered then his loving mate and true,
But more discreet than he, a Cambrian ewe.

“ How! leap into the pit, our life to save ?
To save our life leap all into the grave ?
For, can we find it less ?-Contemplate first
The depth, how awful! falling there we burst:
Or, should the brambles, interposed, our fall
In part abate, that happiness were small;
For, with a race like theirs, no chance I see
Of

peace or ease to creatures clad as we.
Meantime, noise kills not. Be it Dapple's bray,
Or be it not, or be it whose it may,
And rush those other sounds, that seem by tongues
Of demons uttered, from whatever lungs,
Sounds are but sounds; and, till the cause appear,
We have at least commodious standing here.
Come fiend, come fury, giant, monster, blast
From earth, or hell, we can but plunge at last."

While thus she spake, I fainter heard the peals, For Reynard, close attended at his heels By panting dog, tired man, and spattered horse, Through mere good fortune, took a different course.

The flock grew calm again, and I, the road
Following, that led me to my own abode,
Much wondered that the silly sheep had found
Such cause of terror in an empty, sound,
So sweet to huntsman, gentleman, and hound.

MORAL.

Beware of desperate steps. The darkest day,
Live till to-morrow, will have passed away.

LESSON CXXXIV.

Forest Trees.-W. IRVING.

I HAVE paused more than once in the wilderness of America, to contem'plate the traces of some blast of wind, which seemed to have rushed down from the clouds, and ripped its way through the bosom of the woodlands ; rooting up, shivering, and splintering the stoutest trees, and leaving a long track of desolation.

There is something awful in the vast havoc made among these gigantic plants; and in considerin their magnificent remains, so rudely torn and mangled, hurled down to perish prematurely on their native soil, I was conscious of a strong movement of sympathy with the wood-nymphs, grieving to be dispossessed of their ancient habitations. I recollect also hearing a traveller of poetical temperament, expressing the kind of horror which he felt in beholding, on the banks of the Missouri, an oak of prodigious size, which had been in a manner overpowered by an enormous wild grape-vine. The vine bad clasped its huge folds round the trunk, and from thence had wound about every branch and twig, until the mighty tree had withered in its embrace. It seemed like Lao'coön struggling ineffectually in the hideous coils of the monster Python. It was the lion of trees perishing in the embraces of a vegetable Boa.

I am fond of listening to the conversation of English gentlemen on rural concerns, and of noticing with what taste and discrimination, and what strong, unaffected interest, they will discuss topics, which, in other countries, are abandoned to mere woodmen or rustic cultivators. I have heard a noble earl descant on park and forest scenery, with the science and feeling of a painter. He dwelt on the shape and beauty of particular trees on his estate, with as much pride and technical precision as though he had been discussing the merits of statues in his collection. I found that he had gone considerable distances to examine trees which were celebrated among rural amateurs'; for it seems that trees, like horses, have their established points of excellence, and that there are some in England which enjoy very extensive celebrity from being perfect in their kind.

There is something nobly simple and pure in such a taste. It argues, I think, a sweet and generous nature, to have this strong relish for the beauties of vegetation, and this friendship for the hardy and glorious sons of the forest. There is a grandeur of thought connected with this part of rural economy. It is, if I may be allowed the figure, the heroic line of husbandry. It is worthy of liberal, and freeborn, and aspiring men. He who plants an oak looks forward to future ages, and plants for posterity. Nothing can be less selfish than this. He cannot expect to sit in its shade nor enjoy its shelter ; but he exults in the idea that the acorn which he has buried in the earth shall grow up into a lofty pile, and shall keep on flourishing, and increasing, and benefiting mankind, long after he shall have ceased to tread his paternal fields.

Indeed, it is the nature of such occupations to lift the thought above mere worldliness. As the leaves of trees are said to absorb all noxious qualities of the air, and breathe forth a purer atmosphere, so it seems to me as if they drew from us all sordid and angry passions, and breathed forth peace and philanthropy. There is a serene and settled majesty in woodland scenery that enters into the soul, and dilates and elevates it, and fills it with noble inclinations. The ancient and hereditary groves, too, that embower this island, * are most of them full of story. They are haunted by the recollections of the great spirits of past ages, who have sought for rělaxation among them, from the tumult of arms, or the toils of state, or have wooed the muse beneath their shade.

It is becoming, then, for the high and generous spirits of an ancient nation to cherish these sācred groves that surround their ancestral mansions, and to perpetuate them to their descendants. Brought up, as I have been, in republican habits and principles, I can feel nothing of the servile reverence for titled rank, merely because it is titled. But

* This piece, though it is the production of an American, was written in wagland.

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