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main green very late, often till the end of November: young beeches never cast their leaves till spring, when the new leaves sprout, and push them off: in the autumn, the beechen leaves turn of a yellow deep chesnut colour.'-(White.)'
The effect of a whirl-blast,' or sudden gust of wind, accompanied with hail (not infrequent at this season), on the falling leaves, is thus prettily and naturally delineated by the poet of the mountains:
But see! where'er the hailstones drop,
A tree has ever been considered as an emblem of life; and in this view, this pleasing object in nature, which we meet with in every direction, is replete with instruction. The contemplative mind regards it with peculiar interest, and derives from it no inconsiderable improvement. The elegant Gilpin' has availed himself of this striking resemblance in the following beautiful reflections:
As I sat carelessly at my window (he observes), and cast my eyes upon a large acacia which grew before me, I conceived that it might aptly represent a country divided into provinces, towns, and families. The large branches might hold out the first-the smaller branches connected with them, the secondand those combinations of collateral leaves which specify the acacia might represent families composed
For a popular description of Forest Trees, illustrated by poetical citations from the classics, and from modern poets, we refer to our last volume, pp. 37, 65, 95, 127, 159, 184, 215, 243, 277, 309, 328, 352.
of individuals. It was now late in the year, and the autumnal tints had taken possession of great part of the tree.
As I sat looking at it, many of the yellow leaves (which having been produced earlier decayed sooner) were continually dropping into the lap of their great mother. Here was an emblem of natural decay-the most obvious appearance of mortality.
As I continued looking, a gentle breeze rustled among the leaves. Many fell, which in a natural course might have enjoyed life longer. Here malady was added to decay.
The blast increased, and every branch which presented itself bowed before it. A shower of leaves covered the ground. The cup of retribution, said I, is poured out upon the people. Pestilence shakes the land. Nature sickens in the gale: they fall by multitudes. Whole families are cut off together.
Among the branches was one entirely withered. The leaves were shrivelled, yet clinging to it. Here was an emblem of famine. The nutriment of life was stopped. Existence was just supported, but every form was emaciated and shrunk.
In the neighbourhood stretched a branch not only shrivelled and withered, but, having been more exposed to winds, it was almost entirely stripped of its leaves. Here and there hung a solitary leaf just enough to show that the whole had lately been alive. Ah! said I, here is an emblem of depopulation. Some violent cause hath laid waste the land. Towns and villages, as well as families, are desolated: scarcely ten are left alive to bemoan a thousand.
How does every thing around us bring its lesson to our minds! Nature is the great book of God. In every page is instruction to those who will read. Morality must claim its due. Death in various shapes hovers round us.-Thus far went the heathen moralist. He had learned no other knowledge from these perishing forms of nature, but that men, like trees, subject to death.
The meanest herb we trample in the field
Better instructed, learn thou a nobler lesson. Learn that the God who, with the blast of winter, shrivels the tree, and with the breezes of spring restores it, offers it to thee as an emblem of thy hopes! The same God presides over the natural and moral world: His works are uniform. The truths which nature teaches are the truths of revelation also. It is written in both these books, that the power which revives the tree will revive thee also like it, with increasing excellence and improvement.
Whom what he views of beautiful, or grand,
See the leaves around us falling,
Dry and withered to the ground!
Blighted when like us you fell,
'Tis, alas! the truth we tell.
The excellent Bishop HORNE has a beautiful little Poem on this subject, which is too interesting to be omitted in this place; we can have no better companion in our autumnal walks than these fine moral stanzas :
"YOUTHS! though yet no losses grieve you,
Hither turn th' unwilling eye;
Autumn tells a Winter nigh.
Messengers of shortest stay,
MAN! let all thy hopes be staid,
Bears a leaf which ne'er shall fade!'
The Virginia creeper (hedera quinque-folia) is particularly rich and beautiful in the autumnal months, with its leaves of every hue, from a bright to a dark green and deep crimson.
That highly-esteemed fish, the salmon, now ascends rivers to deposit its spawn in their gravelly beds, at a great distance from their mouths. In order to arrive at the spots proper for this purpose, there are scarcely any obstacles which the fish will not surmount. They will ascend rivers for hundreds of miles; force themselves against the most rapid streams, and spring with amazing agility over cataracts of several feet in height. They are taken, according to Mr. Pennant, in the Rhine, as high as Basle: they gain the sources of the
Lapland rivers, in spite of their torrent-like currents : they surpass the perpendicular falls of Leixlip, Kennerth, and Pont Aberglasslyn. At the latter of these places, Mr. Pennant assures us that he has himself witnessed the efforts of the salmon, and seen scores of fish, some of which succeeded, while others miscarried, in the attempt, during the time of observation. At this time, nets or baskets are placed under the fall, and numbers are taken after an unsuccessful leap. It may be added, that the salmon, like the swallow, is said to return, each season, to the self-same spot to deposit its spawn.
The stock-dove (columba anas), one of the latest winter birds of passage, arrives from more northern regions, towards the end of this month. Before our beechen woods were destroyed (observes Mr. White), there were myriads of them, reaching in strings for miles together. At this time, twenty have been killed in a day; and an old sportsman assured me, that, with a large fowling-piece, he had shot seven or eight at a time on the wing, as they came wheeling over his head. The food of these numberless emigrants was beech-mast and some acorns, and particularly barley, which they collected in the stubbles; they also eat the young tops of turnips.
All the pride
Of the SWEET GARDEN fades. Where now the rose,
Upon the cheek of nature? Where blooms now