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Oh, mother! little Amy
Would have loved these flowers to sce; Dost remember how we tried to get
For her a pink sweet-pea?
Dost remember how she loved
Those rose-leaves pale and sere? I wish she had but lived to see
The lovely roses here!
Put up thy work, dear mother,
And wipe those tears away! And come into the garden
Before 'tis set of day!
o the little flax-flower,
It groweth on the hill,
It never standeth still.
One day it is a seed,
Scarce better than a weed.
As blue as is the sky;
We say, as we go by.
It groweth for the poor,
Beside his cottage-door.
That shimmer in the sun,
And shortly shall be spun.
Of seed will yield him store;
Blue shining round his door, Oh, the little flax-flower!
The mother, then says she, “Go pull the thyme, the heath, the sern
But let the flax-flower be!
It groweth for our own;
But leave the flax alone!
Much cometh to his share;
That we have tilled with care.
The good man and the liule ones,
They pace it round about;
For it the rain to fall;
Great count of what is small !"
It groweth on the hill,
It never standeth still!
As if it loved to thrive ;
Within its stem alive!
And may the kindly showers,
Give seed unto its flowers ! It is so rare a thing now-a-days to see flax grown in any quantity, that my English readers will not feel the full force of the above little poem. The English cottager has not often ground which he can use for this purpose ; and, besides, he can purchase calico for the wear of his family at a much cheaper cost than he could grow fax. Nor is the English woman “ handy" at such matters. She would think it a great hardship to till, perhaps, the very ground upon which it was grown; to pull it with the help of her children only, and, to her other household cares and occupations, to add those of preparing, spinning, and it might be, to help even to weave it into good homespun cloth. Seventy or eighty years ago, however, this was not uncommon in England; and it is still common, and in some districts even general in Scotland. Burns alludes to the growth of fax in many of his poems; and in the “Cottar's Saturday Night,” the mother reckons the age of the cheese from the time of the flax flowering.
The household interest which is taken in the flaxfield presented itself strongly to us in many a wild glen, and in many a desolate mountain-side in the Highlands of Scotland, in the summer of 1836. You came, in the midst of those stony and heathy wildernesses, upon a few turf-erections, without windows and without chimneys; the wild grasses of the moor and the heath itself grew often upon the roof, for all had originally been cut from the mountain-side; and, but for the smoke which issued from the door, or the children that played about it, you might have doubted of its being a human dwelling. Miserable, however, as such homes may appear at first sight, they are, as it were, the natural growth of the mountain-moor. land, and the eye soon finds in them much that is picturesque and characteristic.
About such places as these are frequently, too, patches of cultivated ground; the one of potatoes, and perhaps oats or barley, the other of flax. Thus grow, at the very door of this humble human tenement, the food and clothing of the family. How essential this growth is to them, may be seen from he nature of the ground. It is frequently the most diffi. cult that can be conceived to bring into cultivation
“Our squire he hath the holt and hill,
Great halls and noble rent; We only have the flax-field,
Yet therewith are content. We watch it morn, we watch it night,
And when the stars are out,
one mass, as it seems, of stones, with the scantiest The owl in hollow oak, the man in den, intermixture of soil. These stones, many of which Chamber, or office, dusky and obscure, are of immense size, are with infinite toil and pa. Are creatures very heavy and demure; tience gathered from the earth, and piled into walls But soon their turn comes round, and then, round the little fields, otherwise the mountain sheep, Oh, what sharp claws and pitiless beak have they and perhaps the wild roes, would soon lay the whole To feather, fleece, and worry up their prey! waste. Here the mother, as well as the father, la
“ A fellow feeling makes us wondrous kind," bours, and indeed the fax seems especially to belong so sang the noble bard, who, like the swallow, to her, for she must spin it before she can convert it Flew through far climes and soared where few can into family use.
follow. In the same way is the household provided with "T is true; and therefore still we find woollen garments ; they are all home-spun and home. That gentle spirits love the robin, made, even to many a goodly tartan. The “ tarry That comes, as Wordsworth says, “when winds are woo” of Scotland, like the “ lint flower," is a national thing; the affections, as well as the fire-side interests Pecks at your window; sits upon your spade,
sobbing;" of that country are connected with them.
And often thanks you in a serenade.
Which seems to say—“I'd do as well without you,"
Night or day In birds, as men, there is a strange variety,
Will be away, In both your dandies and your peliis maitres;
Though hooted, shot at, nor once coaxed or beckoned ? Your clowns, your grooms, in feathered legs or gaiters; In town or country - in the densest alley Your hawks, and gulls, and harpies to satiety.
Of monstrous London - in the loneliest valley On sea or land it matters not an ace –
On palace-roof-on cottage-thatch, You find the feathered or unfeathered race
On church or chapel — farm or shop, Of bipeds, showing every form and figure,
The Sparrow's still the bird on the house-top.” But everywhere the sharp-clawed and the bigger
I think 'twas Solomon who said so, Falcons that shoot, and men that pull the trigger
And in the Bible having read so, Still pressing on the lesser and forlorn!
You find that this ubiquity 'T' is hard to bear, and yet it must be borne,
Extends itself far up into antiquity. Although we walk about in wrath and scorn,
Yes, through all countries and all ages To see the hectoring, lording, and commotion
While other birds have sung in woods or cages, For ever going on in earth or ocean!
This noisy, impudent and shameless varlet The conquerors fierce; those thievish chaps, the Though neither noble, rich, nor clad in scarlet, lawyers,
Would have the highest place without the asking That chirp and gabble, wheedle and bamboozle ;
Upon your roof the lazy scamp is basking -
Flying and fluttering up and down
From peep of day to evening brown. Your cormorants acting the sedate and grand :
You may be sleeping, sick, or writing, The singers, and the Paganinis,
And needing silence - there's the Sparrow, Who filch your fruit, and pocket up your guineas; Just at your window — and enough to harrow The tomtit, mime; - the wren, small poet;
The soul of Job in its severest season. The silly creatures that by scores
There, as it seemeth, for no other reason Nurse cuckoo-imps, that out of doors
But to confound you ;- - he has got, Have turned their children, and they never know it! Up in the leaden gutter burning hot, I walk in cities, 'mong the human herds,
Every low scape-grace of the Sparrow-clan, And then I think of birds:
Loons of all ages,-grandsire, boy and man, I walk in woods among the birds, and then
Old beldame Sparrow, Wenches bold,
All met to wrangle, raffle, rant, and scold. I think of men!
Send out your man! shoot! blow to powder "T is quite impossible in one or other
The villanous company, that fiercer, louder To walk and see not -- man and bird are brother.
Drive you distracted. There! bang! goes the gun, The owl can't see in day-light; –
And all the little lads are on the run Oh no! he's blind and stupid –
To see the slaughter ;-not a bird is slain A very fool, - a blockhead plain to see!
There were some feathers flew — a leg was broke, But just step out and look at him at night,
But all went off as if it were a joke -
In come your man — and there they are again! With open eyes and beak that has the knack
Of all the creatures, that were ever set To snap up mouse or rabbit by the back?
Upon two legs, there's nothing to be met,
Save some congeners in our own sweet race, At home, abroad, wherever seen or heard,
Unlike all others of the feathered race.
The bully of his tribe - to all beyond
It may be thought that I have here dealt hard Men made to elbow, bustle, cheat or steal,
measure to the Sparrow, but the character I have Careless of scorn, incapable to feel
given of him will be recognised by those who know Indignity or shame — vulgar and vain,
him, as true. Cowper calls them, a thievish race, Hunger and cold their only sense of pain.
that scared as often as you please,
As oft return, a pert, voracious kind; Just of this class, amongst all feathered things, Is this Jack Sparrow. He's no bird that sings, and that every farmer knows them to be. What He makes no grand pretences; has no fine
multitudes do you see dropping down upon, or rising Airs of high breeding - he but wants to dine. from the wheat as it is ripening in the fields. For. His dress is brown, his body stiff and stout,
merly a price was set upon their heads and eggs, by Coarse in his nature, made to prog about.
country parishes. In many places a penny was given What are his delicate fancies? Who e'er sees for a Sparrow's head, and the same for three or four The Sparrow in his sensibilities?
eggs; but this is now done away with, and the farmThere are the nightingales, all soul and song, er must destroy them himself, or pay dearly for it in Moaning and warbling the green boughs among.
his corn. There are the larks that on etherial wing,
Nothing can exceed the self-complacence of this Sing to high Heaven as heavenly spirits sing ; bird. You see him build his nest amongst the richThere are the merle, the mavis, birds whose lays est tracery of a church roof or window; within the Inspired the minstrel songs of other days;
very coronet or escutcheon set up over the gate of There are the wandering tribes, the cuckoo sweet; hall or palace. We saw this summer, the hay and Swallows that singing on your chimneys meet, litter of his nest hanging out from the richly-cut iniThrough spring and summer, and anon are flown tial-letters of William and Mary over one of the prinTo lands and climes, to sages yet unknown.
cipal windows of Hampton Court. Nay he would Those are your pnets ;-hirds of genius — those build in a span-new V. R. set up only yesterday, or That have their nerves and feel refined woes. in the queen's very crown itself though it were But these Jack Sparrows; why they love far more worth a kingdom, if it were only conveniently placed Than all this singing nonsense, your barn-door! for his purpose. He thinks nothing too good for him. They love your cherry-tree — your rows of peas, But the most provoking part of his character is, Your ripening corn crop, and to live at ease ! the pleasure which he takes in teasing, molesting and You find no Sparrow in the far-off-woods
hectoring over birds of the most quiet and inoffenNo – he's not fond of hungry solitudes.
sive nature. He builds about your houses, and He better loves the meanest hamlet — where thinks no other bird has any business to do the same. Aughi's to be had, the Sparrow will be there, The martin, which loves to build under the eaves of Sturdy and bold, and wrangling for his share. our dwellings, after crossing the seas from some far The tender linnet bathes her sides and wings country, — has especially to bear his insolence and In running brooks and purest forest-springs. aggressions. There is a pretty story in the “ Evenings The Sparrow rolls and scuffles in the dust
at Home," of two of these interesting birds, who had That is his washing or his proper rust.
their nest usurped by a Sparrow, getting together
their fellows, and building him up in the nest, where Before your carriage as you drive to town he was left a prisoner amid his plunder. But the To bis base meal the Sparrow settles down; gentleness of the martin is so great, that such an inHe knows the safety-distance to an inch,
tance of poetical justice is more curious, than likely Up to that point he will not move or flinch ;- to occur a second time. But every summer the You think your horse will crush him-no such thing- sparrow lords it over the mariin, and frequently That coachman's whip might clip his fluttering wing, drives it away by its impertinence. We watched Or take his head off in a twink — but he
his behaviour this year with a good deal of attention. Knows better still and liveth blithe and free.
Two pairs of marrins come and built their nesis be.
neath the eaves of the stable, near each other At home he plagues the martins with his noise Scarcely were the nests half finished, when several They build, he takes possession and enjoys; sparrows were seen watching on the tiles close to Or if he want it not, he takes it still,
them, chirping loudly, and conceitedly, and every Just because teasing others is his will.
now and then flying at the martins. The nesis. From hour to hour, from tedious day to day
however, were completed; but no sooner was thus He sits to drive the rightful one away.
this done, than the sparrows took possession of them,
and lined them with coarse hay, which is an abomination to the martin, which lines its nest with the softest feathers. Having witnessed this, we waited for about ten days, by which time we supposed the sparrows would have laid their full number of eggs; and a ladder was set up, in order to inflict just retribution on them, by taking the whole. But to our surprise there were none. The hay was therefore carefully removed, that the martins, if they pleased, might retake possession ; but the very next day, the nests were again filled with hay, and long bents of it hung dangling from the entrance-bole. The sparrows had, with wonderful assiduity, and as it were, with a feeling of vindictive spite, relined the nests with as much hay as they ordinarily carry to their own nests in several days. Now it was supposed they would really lay in these nests, but no such thing,—they never did. Their only object had been to dislodge the martins, for it was found that these very sparrows had nests of their own in the waterspouts of the house, with young ones in them, at the very time, and their purpose of ousting the martins from their own nests being accomplished, the hay remained in the nests quietly all summer.
But this was not all. The poor martins, driven from the stable, came now to the house; and, as if for special protection, began to build their nests under the roof, nearly over the front door. No sooner was this intention discovered by the sparrows, than they were all in arms again. They were seen watching for hours on the tiles just above, chirping, strutting to and fro, flying down upon the martins when they came to their nests with materials, and loudly calling upon their fellow sparrows to help them to be as offensive as possible. The martins, however, rendered now more determined, persisted in their building, and so far succeeded as to prevent the sparrows getting more than a few bents of hay into their nests when complete. The martins laid their eggs; but for several times successively, the sparrows entered in their absence, and hoisted out all the eggs, which of course fell to the ground and were dashed to pieces. Provoked at this mischievous propensity of the sparrows, we had them now shot at, which had the desired effect. One or two of them were killed, and the rest took the hint, and permitted the martins to hatch and rear their young in peace.
I can remember many a time,
Up in the morning early, Up in the morn by break of day,
When summer dews hung pearly; Out in the fields what joy it was,
While the cowslip yet was bending, To see the large round moon grow dim,
And the early lark ascending! I can remember too, we rose
When the winter stars shone brightly; "Twas an easy thing to shake off sleep,
From spirits strong and sprightly. How beautiful were those winter skies,
All frosty-bright and unclouded, And the garden-trees, like cypresses,
Looked black, in the darkness shrouded! Then the deep, deep snows were beautiful,
That fell through the long night stilly,
Lay the country wild and hilly!
In their blackness towered more stately, And the lower trees were feathered with snow
That were bare and brown so lately. And then, when the rare hoar-frost would come,
"Twas all like a dream of wonder, Where over us grew the crystal trees,
And the crystal plants grew under! The garden all was enchanted land;
All silent and without motion, Like a sudden growth of the stalactite,
Or the corallines of ocean! 'Twas all like a fairy forest then,
Where the diamond trees were growing And within each branch the emerald green
And the ruby red were glowing. I remember many a day we spent
In the bright hay-harvest meadow; The glimmering heat of the noonday ground,
And the hazy depth of shadow. I can remember, as to-day,
The corn-field and the reaping, The rustling of the harvest-sheaves,
And the harvest-wain's upheaping. I can feel this hour as if I lay
Adown 'neath the hazel bushes, And as if we wove, for pastime wild,
Our grenadier-caps of rushes. And every flower within that field
To my memory's eye comes flitting,
For a fairy-knight befitting.
With its fruit-like scent so mellow;
Oh, when I was a little child,
My life was full of pleasure ; I had four-and-twenty living things,
And many another treasure.
But chiefest was my sister dear,—
Oh, how I loved my sister! I never played at all with joy,
If from my side I missed her.
I know where the hawthorn groweth red;
Where pink grows the way-side yarrow; I remember the wastes of woad and broom,
And the shrubs of the red rest-harrow. I know where the blue geranium grows,
And the stork's-bill small and musky; Where the rich osmunda groweth brown,
And the wormwood white and dusky.
A forest so old and hoary, —
And remember its bygone story!
When the summer noon was glowing,
The pebbly waters flowing.
We ate of the forest berry;
Like the times of song, were merry. We had no crosses then, no cares;
We were children like yourselves then ; And we danced and sang, and made us mirth,
Like the dancing moonlight elves then!
Soon as is the dawning,
Wakes the mavis and the merle; Wakes the cuckoo on the bough;
Wakes the jay with ruddy breast ; Wakes the mother ring-dove
Brooding on her nest! Oh, the sunny summer time!
Oh, the leafy summer time! Merry is the bird's life
When the year is in its prime! Some are strong and some are weak;
Some love day and some love night:But whate'er a bird is,
Whate'er loves — it has delight, In the joyous song it sings;
In the liquid air it cleaves; In the sunshine ; in the shower,
In the nest it weaves ! Do we wake; or do we sleep;
Go our fancies in a crowd
Birds are singing loud!
Merle and mavis sing your fill;
Sing and soar up from the hill! Sing, oh, nightingale, and pour
Out for us sweet fancies new! Singing thus for us, birds,
We will sing of you!
Oh, the sunny summer time!
Oh, the leafy summer time! Merry is the bird's life,
When the year is in its prime! Birds are by the water-falls
Dashing in the rain-bow spray ; Everywhere, everywhere
Light and lovely there are they ! Birds are in the forest old,
Building in each hoary tree; Birds are on the green hills;
Birds are by the sea! On the moor, and in the fen,
'Mong the whortle-berries green; In the yellow-furze-bush
There the joyous bird is seen; In the heather on the hill;
All among the mountain thyme; By the little brook-sides,
Where the sparkling waters chime; In the crag; and on the peak,
Splintered, savage, wild, and bare, There the bird with wild wing
Wheeleth through the air. Wheeleth through the breezy air,
Singing, screaming in his flight, Calling to his bird-mate,
In a troubleless delight! In the green and leafy wood,
Where the branching ferns up-curl,
THE WOODPECKER. The woodpecker green he has not his abiding Where the owls and the bats from the daylight are
hiding; Where the bright mountain-streams glide on rock
beds away, The dark water-ousel may warble and play; In the sedge of the river the reed-sparrow build ; And the peewit among the brown clods of the field; The sea-gull may scream on the breast of the tide; On the foam-crested billows the peterel may ride; But the woodpecker asketh nor river nor sea ; Give him but the old forest, and old forest-tree, And he 'll leave to the proud lonely eagle the height Of the mist-shrouded precipice splintered and white; And he 'll leave to the gorcock the heather and fern, And the lake of the valley to woodcock and hern; To the sky-lark he 'll leave the wild fields of the air, The sunshine and rainbow ne'er tempted him there The greenwood for him is the place of his rest, And the broad-branching tree is the home he loves
best. Let us go to the haunt of the woodpecker green, In those depths of the wood there is much to be seen. There the wild-rose and woodbine weave fairy
land bowers, And the moth-mullein grow with its pale yellow flowers;