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Then I cast loose my buff-coat, each holster let fail,
Although we have cause to hope that the good steed recovered, yet his trial of speed and strength is too painful to conclude with. I add a few lines from the “ Englishman in Italy," a long poem, so pulpy, so juicy, so full of bright colour and of rich detail, that it is just like a picture by Rubens. Selection is difficult_but I choose the passage in question because its exceeding truth was first pointed out to me by Dir. Ruskin.
But to-day not a boat reached Salerno,
So back to a man
Grape-harvest began :
Like blood the juice spins,
Till breathless he grins,
To keep the grapes under,
In pours the fresh plunder
With basket on shoulder
Meanwhile see the grape-bunch they've brought you, —
The rain water slips
Which the wasp to your lips
Nay taste while awake
That peels flake by flake
Next sip this weak wine
A leaf of the vine –
And end with the prickly pear's red flesh,
That leaves through its juice The stony black seeds on your pearl teeth-and so on.
THE LOST CANE.
SIR PHILIP SYDNEY'S ARCADIA.—ISAAC WALTON'S COMPLETE ANGLER.
DURING this warm summer, and above all during this dry burning harvest weather, which makes my poor little roadside cottage (the cottage which for that reason, amongst others, I am about to leave) so insupportable from glare, and heat, and dust in the fine season, I have the frequent, almost daily habit of sallying forth into the charıning green lane, the grassy, turfy, shady lane of which I have before made mention, and of which I share the use and the enjoyment with the gipsies, Last summer I was able to walk thither, but in the winter I was visited by rheumatism and cannot walk so far without much heat and fatigue ; so my old pony-phaeton conveys me and my little maid, and my pet dog Fanchon, and my little maid's needlework of flounces and fineries, and my books and writing-case, as far as the road leads, and sometimes a little farther; and we proceed to a certain green hillock under down-hanging elms, close shut in between a bend in the lane on our own side, and an amphitheatre of oak and ash and beach trees opposite ; where we have partly found and partly scooped out for ourselves a turfy seat and turfy table redolent of wild thyme and a thousand fairy flowers, delicious in its coolness, its fragrance, and its repose.
Behind the thick hedge on the one hand stretch fresh water meadows, where the clear brook wanders in strange meanders between clumps of alder-bushes and willow-pollards ; fringed by the blue forget-me-not, the yellow loosestrife, the purple willow-herb, and the creamy tufts of the queen of the meadow; on the other hand we catch a glimpse over gates of large tracts of arable land, wheat, oat, clover and bean fields, sloping upward to the sun ; and hear, not too closely, the creaking wagon and the sharpening scythe, the whistle, the halloo, and the laugh, all that forms the pleasant sound of harvest labour. Just beyond the bend in the lane too, are two fires, belonging to two distinct encampments of gipsies ; and the children, dogs, and donkeys of these wandering tribes are nearly the only living things that come into sight, exciting Fanchon now to pretty defiance, now to prettier fear.
This is my constant resort on summer afternoons ; and there I have the habit of remaining engaged either with my book or with my pen until the decline of the sun gives token that we may gather up our several properties, and that, aided by my staff, I may take a turn or two in the smoothest part of the lane, and proceed to meet the pony-chaise at a gate leading to the old Manor House which forms the usual termination of my
walk. Now this staff, one of the oldest friends I have in the world, is pretty nearly as well known as myself in our Berkshire village.
Sixty years ago, it was a stick of quality and belonged to a certain Duchess Dowager of Atholl, that Duchess of Atholl who was in her own right Baroness Strange and Lady of Mann, with whom we had some acquaintance because her youngest son married a first cousin of my father's, and took the name of Aynsley, as his wife had done before him, as a condition of inheriting an estate in Northumberland. I have a dim recollection of the Duchess, much such an one as Dr. Johnson had of Queen Anne, as “a stately lady in black silk.” Well! in her time the stick was a stick of distinction, but on her leaving her Berkshire house it was left behind and huddled by an auctioneer into a lot of old umbrellas, watering-pots, and flower-stands, which my father bought for a song. I believe that he made the purchase chiefly for the sake of this stick, which he presented to my mother's faithful and favourite old housekeeper, Mrs. Mosse, who lived in our family sixty years, and was sufficiently lame to find such a support of great use and comfort in her short and unfrequent walks. During her time, and for her sake, I first contracted a familiar and frie acquaintanceship with this ancient piece of garniture. It was indeed a stick of some pretension, of the order commonly called a crook, such as may be seen upon a chimney-piece figuring in the hand of some trim shepherdess of Dresden china. What the wood might have been I cannot tell : light, straight, slender, strong it certainly was, polished and veined, and as I first remember it, yellowish in colour, although it became darker as it advanced in age. It was amongst the tallest of its order ; nearly five feet high, and headed with a crook of ivory, bound to the wood by a broad silver rim-as ladylike a stick as could be seen on a summer's day. The only one of the sort I ever met with had belonged to the great-grandmother of a friend of mine, and was handed down as a family relique ; that crook, probably of the same age as ours, was more ornate and elaborate, it had a curious carved handle, not unlike the hilt of a sword, decorated with a leather tassel, so to say a stick-knot.
Well, poor Mossy died ; and the stick, precious upon her account, became doubly so when my own dear mother took to using it during her latter days, and when she also followed her old servant to a happier world. And then everybody knows how the merest trifles which have formed part of the daily life of the loved and lost, especially those things which they have touched, are cherished and cared for and put aside how we dare not look upon them for very love ; and how by some accident that nobody can explain they come to light in the course of time, and after a momentary increase of sadness help to familiarise and render pleasant the memory by which they are endeared. It is a natural and right process, like the springing of a flower upon a grave. So the stick reappeared in the hall, and from some whim which I have never rightly understood myself, I-who had no more need of such a supporter than the youngest woman in the parish, who was indeed the best walker of my years for a dozen miles round, and piqued myself not a little upon so being-took a fancy to use this stick in my own proper person, and most pertinaciously carried this fancy into execution. Much was I laughed at for this crotchet, and I laughed too. Friends questioned, strangers stared; but impassive to stare or to question, I remained constant to my supporter. Except when I went to London (for I paid so much homage to public opinion as to avoid such a display there), I should as soon have thought of walking out without my bonnet as without my stick. That stick was my inseparable companion.
To be sure we met with a few misadventures in our com. panionship. Once I left my prop behind me in a marquee
at a cricket-match, and it had well-nigh been tossed away amongst the tent-poles ; once it was stuck against a bush in a copse where I happened to be nutting, and got well thrashed (according to the notable example of Sancho with the galleyslaves), in company with its brethren the hazel-rods ; once it was lost in a fair (I am not sure that it was not cried upon that occasion); often forgotten in halls and vestibules ; and once fairly stolen by a mischievous schoolboy from a friend's portico.
This last calamity cost me a ten-mile walk, undertaken with an alacrity which proved how little I really needed my trusty supporter. Before I had discovered my loss—for that same prop of mine had passed many a summer night, leaning against the pillars of that portico-before I had even dreamt of the mishap, the papa and mamma of the delinquent chancing to have old-fashioned notions of good breeding, sent a servant with a magnificent note in the third person, setting forth in the choicest terms their regret and displeasure, deprecating my anger, and entreating me to fix the day and the hour on which they and the culprit might be permitted to wait upon me'to renew their excuses in person. Such a note! In diction, in caligraphy, in folding, it would have done honour to “The Polite Letter-writer:" the paper stamped with an oak-wreath, and breathing of attar of roses, and the seal as big as that bearing her Majesty's arms from a public office, were real works of art. I could as soon have answered such a letter, or have sat in state to receive the threatened apology, as I could have taken a journey in the air upon a broomstick. Greatly preferring the offence to the reparation, I had nothing for it but to forestall the visit, shake hands with the poor boy, who turned out a fine spirited lad, and try, by laughing over the matter with his parents, to bring about a general pacification, in which attempt, they being less formidable in person than on paper, I bappily succeeded.
Manifold have been our escapes. One was from an adventure natural to the stick-genus-a battle.
Walking past a farmhouse by the side of a fair neighbour, with no other companions than our dogs ;-hers a beautiful King Charles, mine a no less beautiful and far rarer spaniel of the old brown cocking breed, Flush, the father of Fanchon; --our poor pets were set upon by a furious yard-dog un