| ||Conversations introducing poetry. Volume 2|
THE BLIGHTED ROSE.
STUDIES BY THE SEA.
MRS. TALBOT. My dear Emily, you are later than usual to day—where have you been?
EMILY. Mamma, as my brother and I came from our walk, Mrs. Davidson, and landlady of the house where my aunt and cousins are to lodge, desired us to walk in, just for a moment, to see what nice order every thing was in, against their arrival; and she showed us all her rooms, and had something to tell us about the furniture of each of them; and then she would make us hear the names of all the Ladies, and Lords, and Sir Johns, and I don't know who, that have inhabited her house for the last seven years, I believe.
GEORGE. And then, just as we had done with all this, she entreated us to go and look at her geraniumns.—They were just taken in, four or five of them, out of a little court where she keeps them in the Summer; and she desired us to tell her, whether my aunt, and her family, had any objection to flowers; because, "Sir," said she, "you are to know the case is this; that there is a window in my big drawing-room as looks direct south; and all the Winter sun, and sunshine at this season, is there till two o'clock; so if you think the family has no dislike, I'll just take two of my best pots, and just put the, in that window. She was going on, when I assured her, for I thought I might safely venture to do so, that nobody would object to her geraniums, for that my aunt was very fond of flowers.
EMILY. She talked a great deal, Mamma, in such an odd tone and manner, that I could hardly understand her.
MRS. TALBOT. She is a Scotch woman, and speaks in the tone, and in some instances in the dislect of her country.—But we must forgive her language, in consideration of her love for geraniums.
EMILY/ O yes! and I am sure when my aunt, and cousins, and sister come, we shall all most willingly assist in taking care of these favourites of hers, which are as fine as any I ever saw in a green-house.
MRS. TALBOT. And I dare say she takes great pride in them, and they afford her as much pleasure as one of the same race of plants did to me. Before I had possessed a green house, and whil it was my lot to pass a good deal of time alone, I had rasied one of these beautiful plants from a cutting, given me in a nosegay.—It became in a few months large and flourishing, and was one of the handsomest, though not the most tender of the numerous race of exotic geranimns. I grew a sfond of my plant as I should
have been of a domestic animal, and took great pains to nourish it with fresh earth, by exchanging the pot for a larger, whenever there was occsion for such a transposition; sheltering if from frost, and giving it light and air. In consequence of this unremitting care, my geranium attained a luxuriance of growth very unusual, and was always covered with flowers. At that time, for it is now near twenty years ago, the everblowing rose, and many other plants, now familiar to our parlours, were not so generally possessed; and my favourite geranium was an object of admiration to every one who saw it, and of pride to myself; and as it was a sort of habit I acquired to write little pieces of poetry on any subject that happened particularly to flatter my imagination, I addressed an Ode to my geranium, which I will try to recollect and repeat to you; though I do not know that, till your mention of Mrs. Davidson's fine plants, I have ever thought
of it since. As i had at that time no book of poesy, such as we now prudently use to secure our essays in, I had only my memory to trust to, or some fugitive paper, not now to be recovered.—But I believe I can recall it pretty correctly, for it is remarkable, that I have an almost perfect remembrance of every thing I learned, and every thing I wrote, in the former part of my life.—I believe I could even write out a speech from Racine, of near an hundred lines, which perhaps I have never read since I was at school.
|TO A GERANIUM WHICH FLOWERED DURING THE WINTER.|
NATIVE of Afric's arid lands,
Thou, and hy many-tinctur'd bands,
Unheeded and unvalued grew,
While Caffees crush'd beneath the sands
Thy pencil'd flowers of roseate hue.
But our cold northern sky beneath,
For thee attemper'd zephyrs breathe,
And art supplies the tepid dew,
That feeds, in many a glowing wreath,
Thy lovely flowers of reseate hue.
Thy race, that spring uncultur'd here,
Decline with the declining year,
While in successive beauty new,
Thine own light bouquets fresh appear,
And marbled leaves of cheerful hue.
Now buds and bells of every shade,
By Summer's ardent eye furvey'd,
No more their gorgeous colours show;
And even the lingering asters fade,
With drooping heads of purple hue.
But naturalized in foreign earth,
'Tis thine, with many a beauteous birth,
As if in gratitude they blew,
To hang, like blushing trophies forth,
Thy pencill'd flowers of roseate hue.
Oh then, amidst the wintry gloom,
Those flowers shall dress my cottage room,
Like friends in adverse fortune true;
And soothe me with their roseate bloom,
And downy leaves of vernal hue.
EMILY. I shall be fonder than ever, my dear Mamma, of my own geraniums when I get home. But tell me—for I am not quite sure—by Caffres, you mean Hottentots, do you not?
MRS. TALBOT. The race of men inhabiting the country about the Cape of Good Hope are so called.—They are Negroes, and by every account, the least favoured by nature of any of the natives of Africa. Yet beneath their feet, the same nature has chosen to lavish some of her most beautiful and fragrant productions. An almost endless variety of ixias, such, you know, as we saw great numbers of last Spring at the nursery garden; geraniums of I know not how many kinds; the lovely and odorous Cape jasmin; and so many others, that I cannot attempt to enumerate them, and can only say, that our gardens, and still more our green-houses and hot-houses, are obliged to the native country of the Caffres for a considerable part of their
rarest ornaments. And you see, Mrs. Davidson is now, as I once was, indebted to that country for much innocent pleasure.
GEORGE. Mother, what is the reason that the people of Scotland, though they reside in this country the greatest part of their lives, never learn to speak as we do.
MRS. TALBOT. The defect is by no means peculiar to the people of Scotland. The provincial tone and manner of many English people is quite as remote from the language of those who speak good and pure English, though, perhaps, they have long conversed only with the well educated of their own country; and the reason, I believe is, that an habit acquired in early youth, is never eradicated without much observation, and taking a good deal of trouble.—Now very few of those who have learned early to speak in a provincial accent, will either make the observations, or take the trouble. I cannot otherwise
imagine, how it is possible for any one to talk of midnent and mought, and say this is wery pretty, and the other wastly disagreeable.—Or how any custom can reconcile it to the ears of persons that can spell, when they say, "they saw a flower inm the edge; and in trying to get at it, trod just at the hedge of the stream. That they have had their air cut by a fashionable dresser, and have bought a beautiful at, which is a most becoming ed-dress, and they shall wear it the next time they go hout to dinner." Now, though I can easily imagine that a Scotch woman finds it very difficult to divest herself of the tone and manner of her country, I cannot conveive how English people can contrive so to disfigure and mutilate their own language.—Nothing is more desirable than a correct and pure style, whether in speaking or in writing, and nothing should more sedulously by avoided than any particular words, or imitating the language of un-
educated persons, or those who have acquired in early life a provincial dialect—such as I have just now given an example of. How disagreeable it is, to hear any one speak with a nasal tone, and indolently drawl out their words, as if it was too much trouble to speak at all. Nor is it less so, when a person speaks so fast, and inarticulately, that it requires the utmost attention in the hearer to comprehend his or her meaning. Conversation is often rendered irksome by these faults, and by others still more common; such as the rage people have to talk altogether, no one being willing to hear, but every body expecting to be heard; or by rude inattention, crying hum, and haw, and indeed, in a sort of way that tells you, the party is thinking of something else.
GEORGE. And I met with another unpleasant sort of talker to-day, Mother. While I waited on the beech for Emily's return from bathing, a gentleman I never
saw before, sat down by me, and entered into conversation—but it consisted entirely of questions. He asked me what my name was, where I lived, where I was educated, how old I was, what number we were in family, and to what family of the Talbots I belonged, and a great many other questions; till at last I was so weary of answering him, that I abruptly wished him a good morning, and hastened away to find Emily, who joined me just as my questioning acquaintance again came in sight. I am sure, however, he would have followed us, and have attacked us anew, but Mrs. Davidson at that moment called to us, to beg we would step into her house for a little while, and by that means we escaped him.
MRS. TALBOT. This impertinence, disgusting and troublesome as it is, means nothing, but that this poor man is idle, and has no ideas but what he is forced to collect with all this pains, from any body who will give him their attention. He
will now have to tell some other sauntering man, or woman, the next time you happen to pass, who you are; and so gain another ten minutes from the lassitude of having nothing to think of and nothing to do.—These sort of characters abound in all places of public resort like this, and here the idle can relieve each other; however, if their enquiries were limited to such as this honest gentleman made to you, there would be no great harm in indulging them; but unfortunately, they seldom can resist improving upon the narratives they are thus anxious to collect; and are very apt to embellish them, without much adherence to truth, or respect for the feelings of those of whose history they are pleased to inform themselves. How much more usefully employed are the poor women that we hear singing so merrily at their doors, as they make or repair the fishing nets, with which their husbands, brothers, or sons, exercise the hazardous employment that supports their
numerous families.—There is something in chearful industry, that is always gratifying; and though the English have perhaps less natural taste and talent for mucis than any nation in Europe, it is to me very pleasant to hear the peasants singing at their work. I have been told, that in Scotland these rustic concerts are much more scientifically performed. In France, you see the petillante, lively French women, sitting at their doors making lace, and singing; while the bobbins on their cushions mark the cadence.
GEORGE. The fishermen's wives are not, to be sure, very smart figures, nor are their songs very musical; but I like to see them make their nets. I talked to a man the other day, as he was doing something to one of those large nets, which we see carried in great rolls that almost cover the men when they have them on their heads; and he told me, that though their wives make them, and they themselves pitch and prepare the nets after-
wards, yet, that they cost a great deal of money; often as much as two or three hundred pounds. He told me too, that their best nets are sometimes torn by a fish, called the sea-dog, which pursue the mackarel, or herrings, and are so large and strong, that they burst through and break the tackle, and let the fish escape.
MRS. TALBOT. I am always pleased when you take an interest in these sort of things, and learn how different operations are performed, and the value of the time and industry of that class of society, which some of those in upper life contemptuously call the common people, or the mob; not condescending to recollect, that it is to these common people they are indebted for the privilege of doing nothing themselves. This afternoon, as it promises to be fair, we will devote to a long walk; or if the tide serves, and you like it better, to a short voyage along the shore. And now, to return to the subject of the materials for
fishing; I recollect, I think, reading in some of those books of voyages, that give an account o the circumnavigators, the spirited and intelligent seamen, who have been round the world, that the Indians in the South seas, who obtain a great part of their subsistence by fishing, have nets, such as we call Seines, made of a grass, that grows in those islands, which they know how to prepare, so as to make much better and larger nets than either we or the French make.
GEORGE. Why don't we do the same, or will not that grass grow in this country?
MRS, TALBOT. Probably it will not. The materials we have, however, are quite sufficient; and are also, you know, prepared from a vegetable. If ever an opportunity occurs, you shall see the process, in one of our great sea-ports, Portsmouth, or Plymouth, of manufacturing hemp, from a slight packthread, into those enormous cables, on which the
magnificent ships of war, carrying sometimes more than an hundred guns, depende for their safety. These are prepared by repeated operations, till they are strong enough to endure the great force with which a ship draws upon its anchor when it rides hard, as the sailors call it; that is, when the sea is very rough.
EMILY. How odd it is, to think, Mamma, that one of those great cables, which must be very large indeed, for those belonging even to the fishing boats are as big as a person's leg; how odd it is to imagine, that the fine, fine thread, not much thicker than a spider's webb, that Hester uses when she mends your lace, is made exactly in the same manner, and almost of the same substance, as those very great ropes.
MRS. TALBOT. Silk is capable of being made into a still fineer, and more minute thread than flax.
EMILY. But that, you know, is an animal substance.
GEORGE. Do not you remember, Emily, that my Mother told us not long ago, that silk was also a vegetable substance, or might be called so, because it is the mulberry leaf which supplies the silk worm with its food, and therefore it is the juice of that tree, converted into another material by the worm.
EMILY. And I remember now, Mamma, that you said, when you were last speaking of it, that it might make the subject of another poem for our book.
MRS. TALBOT. I did so; but something or other put it out of my thoughts at the time. I have not failed, however, to recollect it since—and my stanzas are actually composed; I fear, however, Emily, that you will think them too grave, as you thought of those on the fire-fly.
EMILY. No, indeed, Mamma.—But pray tell me one thing. I read a story about two people, called Pyramus and Thisbe, which was very absurd, I thought, and it related that mulberries were white,
till these two lovers being killed near, or under a mulberry tree, all the berries of those trees became red.—What does it mean?
MRS. TALBOT. A fanciful and poetical manner of accounting for the different colours of the fruit of this tree; just as the redness of the rose is fabled to have been caused by the blood which sprang from the feet of Venus, as she was wounded by thorns, when running through the woods, in despair for the loss of Adonis; and as her lover himself, being killed by a boar, was transformed into the flower, which we now call an anemone, I believe; but the botany of these fabulous histories is not very correct, and varies in the relations given of it.—There is a burlesque representation of the story of Pyramus and Thisbe, in Shakespeare's play, the Midsummer Night's Dream.
GEORGE. Oh yes, I remember it, and Emily, you may recollect that I showed
you a picture in the Shakespeare gallery, representing Bottom, the weaver, with an ass's head, which had been put on by order of the fairy king; and there were the inferior fairies, Peaseblossom, Moth, and Mustard-seed.
EMILY. Oh, but indeed, my dear George, you do puzzle me so, with so many ideas at a time, that at last I have no ideas at all.
MRS. TALBOT. Well then, that you may not have the same complaint to make of my Mulberry-tree, your brother shall read the stanzas first.—Here, George, look over the explain them, in the way of what is called "the Argument" to a poem, that Emily may not find them obscure.
GEORGE. I believe I comprehend them. I could not, perhaps, explain the process of making silk; but if you will just give us an idea of that—
MRS. TALBOT. That is not necessary now, only let me hear how much is evident to
your understanding, of what I have attempted to convey to you in these lines.
GEORGE. The first stanzas describe the tree in this country, where it is very late in unfolding is leaves. I remember that very well, because David always told me, that when the Mulberry leaves came out I might put out my myrtles, geraniums, and my little orange trees, that I raised myself; for that then there would be no more frost or cole, severe enough to hurt them. That country of Europe is next described, in which the Mulberry tree is particularly cultivated; Italy, where are very high mountains, called the Appenines, and Patience and Industry are personified, and are supposed to call the young and the old—for perhaps strong able men are not employed in it—to begin those works, by which the thread spun by the silk-worm, and which is produced by the juices of the Mulberry leaf, becomes at length silk, and being dyed, after a long process, which we must sup-
pose, becomes of course blue as the sky, or red like the roses, or purple, or spotted.
MRS. TALBOT. All that, you perfectly understand.—I could not, you know, in so short a poem as this, describe the various operations performed; such as throwing the cocoons into boiling water, which kills the worm within; winding the silk off on small reels, and preparing it in different manners, according to the purpose it is designed for; then giving it colour; and fitting it for the loom. Had I done all this, I should have made what is called a didactic poem—such as the Fleece, by Dyer, and others of the like nature.—But had I been capable of executing this sort of poem, it would not have entered into my plan, because all I mean is, to excite your curiosity, which there are such ample means of gratifying, by boosk, that you would perhaps think dry and uninteresting, if you were to sit down to them merely as a task, and
without having collected some general ideas before, on the subjects they treat of. And now, George, read my apostrophe to the Mulberry-tree, which Pliny, the Roman naturalist, calls the wiest of trees, because, even in Italy, it does not put forth its leaves till the cold weather is certainly gone.—You must not forget to notice the moral, though you omitted it in your argument.
|ON READING THE ORIENTAL APHORISM, "BY PATIENCE AND LABOUR THE MULBERRY-LEAF BECOMES SATIN."|
HITHER, in half blown garlands drest,
Advances the reluctant Spring,
And shrinking, feels her tender breastChill'd by Winter's snowy wing;
Nor wilt thou, alien as thou art, display
Or leaf, or swelling bud, to meet the varying day.
Yet, when the mother of the rose,
Bright June, leads on the glowing hours,
And from her hands luxuriant throws
Her lovely groups of Summer flowers;
Forth from thy brown and unclad branches shoot
Serrated leaves and rudiments of fruit.
And soon those boughs umbrageous spread
A shelter from Autumnal rays,
While gay beneath thy shadowy head,
His gambols happy childhood plays;
Eager, with crimson fingers to amass
Thy ruby fruit, that strews the turfy grass.
But where, festoon'd with purple vines,
More freely grows thy graceful form,
And skreen'd by towering Appenines,
Thy foliage feeds the spinning worm;
PATIENCE and INDUSTRY protect thy shade,
And see, by future looms, their care repaid.
They mark the threads, half viewless wind
That form the shining light cocoon,
Now tinted as the orange rind,
Or paler than the pearly moon;
Then at their summons in the task engage,
Ligh active youth, and tremulous old age.
The task that bids thy treases green
A thousand varied hues assume,
There colour'd like the sky serene,
And mocking here the roses bloom;
And now, in lucid volumes lightly roll'd,
Where purple clouds are starr'd with mimic gold.
But not because thy veined leaves,
Do to the grey winged moth supply
The nutriment, whence Patience weaves
The monarch's velvet canopy;
Thro' his high domes, a splendid radiance throws,
And binds the jewell'd circlet on his browns;
And not, that thus transform'd, thy boughs,
Now as a cestus clasp the fair,
Now in her changeful vestment flows,
And filets now her plaited hair;
I praise thee; but that I behold in thee
The triumph of unwearied Industry.
"Tis, that laborious millions owe
To thee, the source of simple food
In Eastern climes; or where the Po
Reflects thee from his classic flood;
While useless INDOLLNCE may blush, to view
What PATIENCE, INDUSTRY, and ART, can do.
EMILY. I believe I understand it, Mamma; but I find, that after I have written any poetry out in my book, and considered a moment about the meaning of a passage that was before a little obscure, the difficulties generally vanish.
MRS. TALBOT. Poetry is sometimes obscure at first, because it is often necessary to invert the sentences, in order to obtain the thyme, or to accommodate the measure. And that is the best poetry, where these points are gained with the least appearance of force; and where the fewest words are admitted, evidently for the sake of the rhyme only. Words which no writer would use, if they could do without them; and which in prose would never enter into elegant composition. Sometimes a poor verse-maker is sadly tortured by the wish he feels to use some word of great force to close his couplet, to which there are not, perhaps, above two or three respondents, and
those so awkward and unmanageable, that he must sometimes sacrifice sense to sound. Our friend and favourite, Cowper, gives an admirable account of the pleasure a Poet feels, when he has conquered to his satisfaction one of these distressing passages.—But George! you do not seem to be attending to our digression from a tree to a poet; you were, I fancy, thinking at that moment of something else.
GEORGE. I was thinking it is extraordinary, as there are other insects which spin, that no use has ever been made of their webs.
MRS. TALBOT. I have heard or read, that an attempt has been made to convert the spiders web into some kind of thread, and that gloves or stockings were made of it. But the first manufacturers are in this case too disgusting in their manners and habits, and their product too little worth, to encourage a repetition of these experiments.
GEORGE. Butterflies, however, have a sort of thread in their caterpillar state.
MRS. TALBOT. No more than suffices them to fasten themselves to some leaf, or piece of wood, while they undergo their metamorphose, from a caterpillar to a butterfly; and while they remain suspended as the chrysalis or aurelia.
GEORGE. But I think, Mother, I remember to have seen black looking webs, that seemed knit round a leaf, and parched it all up, and that beneath the web, there were disagreeable looking insects.
MRS. TALBOT. That ill-looking collection is what is called aphides.—There are I know not how many sorts of these; the people say they are a blight, but they seem to have very little knowledge about them, but as far as relates to the effect of this pest on their crops.
EMILY. Sometimes I have gathered a flower that looked just about to blow, but
when I came to examine it, was quite black and eaten within by one of these ugly worms.
MRS. TALBOT. They are another sort of the asphides. The disease you mention is particularly ruinous to the rose, and sometimes I have known a tree quite spoiled by them, and producing no fine roses. And that puts me in mind of a few stanzas, that were composed by that young friend of mine, whose verses you heard a few days ago. I found them, as I frequently do a piece of half forgotten poetry, among other papers and unfinished drawings in a neglected port folio. Since we are upon this topic, I will read them to you; and then, after dinner, we will go for our walk by the sea. I do not believe we shall find the tide favour our sailing scheme.
As Spring to Summer hours gave way,
And June approach'd, beneath whose away
My lovely Fanny saw the day,
I mark'd each blossom'd bower,
And bade each plant its charms display,
To crown the favour'd hour.
The favour'd hour to me so bright,
When Fanny first behelf the light,
And I should many a bloom unite,
A votive wreath to twine,
And with the lily's virgin white,
More glowing hues combine.
A wreath that, while I hail'd the day,
All the fond things I meant, might say
(As Indian maids their thoughts array,
By artful guipo's wove;)
And fragrant symbols thus convey
My tenderness and love.
For this I sought where long had grown,
A rosarie I call'd my own,
Whose rich unrivall'd flowers were known
The earliest to unclose,
And where I hoped would soon be blown,
The first and fairest Rose.
An infant bud there cradled lay,
Mid new born leaves; and seem'd to stay
Till June should call, with warmer ray,
It's embryo beauty forth;
Reserv'd for that propitious day
That gave my Fanny birth.
At early morning's dewy hours,
I watch'd it in its leafy bower,
And heard with dread the sleety shower,
When eastern tempests blew,
But still unhurt my favourite flower
With fairer promise grew.
From rains and breezes sharp and bleak,
Secur'd, I saw its calyx break,
And soon a lovely blushing streak
The latent bloom betray'd;
(Such colours on my Fanny's cheek,
Has cunning Nature laid.)
Illusive hope! The day arriv'd,
I saw my cherish'd rose—It lived,
But of its early charms depriv'd,
No odours could impart;
And scarce with sullied leaves, surviv'd
The canker at its heart.
There unsuspected, long had fed
A noxious worm, and mining spread,
The dark pollution o'er its head,
That drooping seem'd to mourn
Its fregrance pure, and petals red,
Destroy'd e'er fully born.
Unfinish'd now, and incomplete,
My garland lay at Fanny's feet,
She smil'd'—ah could I then repeat
What youth so little knows,
How the too trusting heart must beat
With pain, when treachery and deceit
In some insidious form, defeat
Its fairest hopes; as cankers eat
The yet unfolded rose.
MRS. TALBOT. How deliciously pleasant is the evening. Let us, since our plan of going out on the water is put an end to by the state of the tide; let us seat ourselves in this chalky cavity, and study the scene, which is in the apprehension of many people quite uninteresting, and affording no variety.
GEORGE. Yes, I remember in some books we were reading—but I have forgot what book it was, the author says, that the sea has no change, but that which
is made by tides, affecting only its margin, or by the difference of storms and calms.
MRS. TALBOT. There are people who affect to think, nothing but the human character deserves their study, and pass over the great works of God, as unworthy the trouble of contemplating. For my own part, I feel very differently from these philosophers. Perhaps I have seen too much of the fallacy of their studies, and the little benefit that has accrued from them, either to individual, or general happiness; and therefore turn, with more ardour than I did in early life, to contemplate the works of God only, whereever they are unspoiled by man.—I wonder any being, who affects taste, would tenture to assert that this immense body of water presents only sameness and monotony.—To me it seems, that even the colours and sounds are little less varied, than those we see or hear, in the midst of the most luxuriant landscape. I remem-
ber having been becalmed some years ago in a packet boat between Brighthelmstone and Dieppe; unfortunately for the master of the vessel, who was, he said, engaged by a nobleman to bring over "his Lordship and all his Lordship's family," if he was there sooner than another packet, which could not leave the English coast till the next tide after his departure. When the wind failed so entirely as to leave the sails totally unfilled, the agonizing apprehensions of losing forty guineas began to operate on this poor man with great violence, and he walked backwards and forwards on his small deck, wiping his forehead and deploring his ill fortune, sometimes varying his lamentations with supplications which he made in French, and which consisted, I believe, of all the French he could speak—"Souffle, souffle, St. Antoine," cried he. His supplications were vain, yet they were by no means remitted; and hardly could he attend, though a very civil man, to the questions of his weary
passengers, who were as eager as he was to get on shore, for the weather was very hot, and the confinement in so small a vessel very inconvenient. As a cabin was always intolerable to me, I remained upon desk, and found amusement in the variety I saw of colours and motions upon the surface of the water. Sometimes it was ruffled by a partial breeze, which however did not reach our flagging sails, notwithstanding the Captain, watching it with the greatest anxiety, repeated his energetic apostrophe of "souffle, souffle done, St. Antoine," and as often as these light airs passed by without giving him the least assistance, he became more clamorous. At length, as I steadily observed the surface of the blue and almost transparent waves, in hopes of seeing some signs of wind, I remarked what I thought was one of these currents of air, which running in the direction of the packet from the north-west, would, I hoped, reach our motionless sails. The Captain was at that moment
gone down to console himself with some of the passengers eatables and drinkables; but I remarked to the man on desk the alteration in the colour of the water, thro' which it seemed as if a river was poured that kept itself distinct from the salt waves, just as the Rhone is said to pass through the lake of Geneva without mingling with its water.—"Oh, no, Ma'am," said the mariner, in answer to my enquiry whether a fresh breeze was not approaching, "that is not wind, it is a shoal of mackarel, that changes the colour of the water, and makes them there bubbles like as you see, and all them crinkles in the water." As the shoal approached a little nearer, I distinctly heard that sort of snapping noise, which you may sometimes remember in the river from fish just rising to the surface, and saw that a vast stream of life, it I may so express myself, produced the effect I had remarked on the colour of the sea. Of this stream or shoal of animated beings, many were de-
voured by gulls or other sea birds, others by the dog fish, whcih threw themselves above the water in the eagerness of pursuit; and great numbers were probably taken the same evening on our coast; and by the hour of dinner the next day contributed another dish to the tables of the rich, while the day after the refuse might be the sole sustenance of several families of the poor. These appearances which may sometimes be observed from the shore, and the various hues reflected by the waves from the sky—the changes of the season, of tides, and of winds, surely give nearly as much variety to this element, as the difference of Winter and Summer does to the earth we inhabit.
GEORGE. There are some lines in Cowper, I remember, comparing the wind among the tree of a wood, to the rush of the sea ont he beach.
MRS. TALBOT. Can you remember them?
That sweep the skirt of some far spreading wood
Of ancient growth, make music not unlike
The dash of Ocean on his winding shore.
MRS. TALBOT. I am always gratified by these recollections, my dear George; they are instances of taste as well as memory. Not only the rush of the water when, heavily and with pauses, it breaks on the shore, is solemnly pleasing; but the law and half heard murmur of the small waves, that just rock the sea weed as it floats upon them, before it is deposited on the shingles, is a sound almost as soothing as that we listen to, when the law Summer wind sighs among woods and copses-a sound, for which I think the English language wants an expressive word. We say indeed the sighing or the murmuring of the air, but the wind among trees seems better expressed by the Scottish word sugh, and still more elegantly by the Italian susurare—
Frangersi l'acque, e susurrar le foglie.
However, the louder bursts and thundering of the sea on the beach is better described in our rough northern language. But sublime and magnificent as those sounds are, as well as the sight of the sea in a tempest, every sensation, when a storm is the object, must be lost in our recollection exposes numbers of our fellow creatures.
EMILY. I cannot say I like the sight of this wide water, Mamma, so well as I do that of fields and downs, and woods and meadows; yet certainly the colours are very beautiful that we see at this moment upon it.
MRS. TALBOT. And it supports many beings either within its bosom, or on its produce. In some northern countries the natives are indebted almost entirely to the sea for their food and clothing. The sea birds which migrate to their shores, as well as the fish that people their waves, supply to them the want of all, that na-
ture has bestowed on more fortunate elimates.—But let me try if the images we have thus collected may not be fixed in our memories by putting them into verse. I made a sketch of them a day or two ago, and perhaps I may be able to read them. I mean to refute the idea that the sea has no variety, but that which arises from the flux and reflux of tides, or from calms and storms.
All! wherefore do the incurious say,
That this stupendous Ocean wide
No change presents from day to day,
Save only the alternate tide,
Or save when gales of Summer glide
Across the lightly crisped wave;
Or, when against the cliff's rough side
As equinoctial tempests rave
It wildly bursts; o'erwhelms the deluged strand,
Tears down its bounds, and desolates the land.
He who with more enquiring eyes
Doth this extensive scene survey,
Beholds innumerous changes rise,
As various winds its surface away;
Now o'er its heaving bosom play
Small sparkling waves of silver gleam,
And as they lightly glide away,
Illume with fluctuating beam
Th deepening surge; green as the dewy corn
That undulates in April's breezy morn
The far off waters then assume
A glowing amethystine shade,
That changing like the Paon's plume,
Seems in celestial blue to fade;
Or paler colder hues of lead,
As lurid vapours float on high,
Along the fulling billows spread,
While darkly lours the threatening sky;
And the small scatter'd barks with outspread shrouds
Catch the long gleams, that fall between the clouds.
Then Day's bright star with blunted rays
Seems struggling thro' the sea-fog pale,
And doubtful in the heavy haze
Is dimly seen the nearing sail;
Till from the land a fresher gale
Disperses the white mist, and clear,
As melts away the gauzy veil,
The sun-reflecting waves appear;
So, brighter geniune Virtue seems to rise
From Envy's dark invidious calumnies.
What glories on the Sun attend
When the full tides of evening flow,
Where in still changing beauty, blend,
With amber light the opal's glow,
While in the East the diamond bow
Rises in virgin lustre bright,
And from the horizon seems to throw
A partial line of trembling light
To the hush'd shore; and all the tranquil deep
Beneath the modest Moon is sooth'd to sleep.
Forgotten then the thundering break
Of waves, that in the tempest rise,
The falling cliff, the shatter'd wreck,
The howling blast, the sufferers' cries;
For soft the breeze of evening sighs,
And murmuring seems in Fancy's ear
To whisper fairy lullabies
That tributary waters bear,
From precipices, dark with piny woods
And inland rocks, and heathy solitudes.
The vast encircling seas within,
What endless swarms of creatures hide
Of burnish's scale and spiny fin!
These, providential instincts guide,
And bid them know the annual tide,
When, from unfathom'd waves that swell,
Beyond Fuego's stormy side,
They come, to cheer the tribes that dwell
In Boreal climes; and thro' his half year's night
Give to the Lapland savage food and light.
From cliffs that pierce the northern sky,
Where eagles rear their sanguine brood,
With long awaiting patient eye
Baffled by man a sailing cloud,
The Highland native marks the flood,
Till bright the quickening billows roll,
And hosts of Sea birds clamouring loud
Track with wild wing the welcome shoal,
Swift o'er the animated current sweep,
And bear their silver captives from the deep.
Sons of the North! your streamy vales
With no rich sheaves rejoice and sing,
Her flowery robe no fruit conceals,
Tho' sweetly smile our tardy Spring;
Yet every moutain clothed with ling
Doth from its purple brow survey
Your busy sails, that ceaseless bring
To the broad frith and sheltering bay,
Riches by Heaven's parental power supplied,
The harvest of the far embracing tide.
And, where those fractur'd mountains lift
O'er the blue wave their towering crest,
Each salient ledge, and hollow cleft,
To Sea fowl give a rugged nest,
But, with instinctive love is dress
The Eider's downy cradle; where
The mother bird, her glossy breast
Devotes; and with meternal care
And plumeless bosom, stems the toiling Seas
That foam round the tempestuous Orcades.
From heights whence shuddering sense recoils,
And cloud-capped headlands, steep and bare,
Sons of the North! your venturous toils
Collect you poor and scenty fare.
Urged by imperious want, you dare
Scale the loose cliff, where Gannets hide,
Or scaree suspended, in the air
Hang perilous; and thus provide
The soft voluptuous couch, which not secures
To Luxury's pamper'd minions, sleep like yours.
Revolving still, the waves that now
Just ripple on the level shore,
Have borne, perchance, the Indian's prow,
Or hald congeal'd, 'mid ice-rocks hoar
Raved to the Walruss' hollow roar,
Or have by currents swift convey'd
To the cold coast of Labrador
The rlies of the Tropic shade;
And to the wondering Esquimeaux have shown
Leaves of strange shape, and fruits unlike their own.
No more then let the incurious say,
No change this World of Water shows,
But as the tides the Moon obey,
Or tempests rave, or calms repose.
Show them its bounteous breast bestows
On myiads life: and bid them see
In every wave that circling flows,
Beauty, and use, and harmony.
Works of the Power supreme who poured the flood
Round the green peopled earth, and call'd it good.