Front Cover
 Front Matter
 Title Page
 Table of Contents
 Back Cover

Group Title: boys' own country book of summer
Title: The boys' own country book of summer
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00049854/00001
 Material Information
Title: The boys' own country book of summer
Alternate Title: The boy's own country book summer
Physical Description: 4, 124 p., 1 leaf of plates : ill. ; 18 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Miller, Thomas, 1807-1874
Vizetelly, Henry, 1820-1894 ( Engraver )
George Routledge and Sons ( Publisher )
Publisher: George Routledge and Sons
Place of Publication: London ;
New York
Publication Date: [1882?]
Subject: Children -- Conduct of life -- Juvenile literature   ( lcsh )
Conduct of life -- Juvenile literature   ( lcsh )
Seasons -- Juvenile literature   ( lcsh )
Country life -- Juvenile literature   ( lcsh )
Farm life -- Juvenile literature   ( lcsh )
Natural history -- Juvenile literature   ( lcsh )
Amusements -- Juvenile literature   ( lcsh )
Publishers' catalogues -- 1882   ( rbgenr )
Publishers' advertisements -- 1882   ( rbgenr )
Bldn -- 1868
Genre: Publishers' catalogues   ( rbgenr )
Publishers' advertisements   ( rbgenr )
Spatial Coverage: England -- London
United States -- New York -- New York
Statement of Responsibility: by Thomas Miller ; with illustrations engraved on wood by Henry Vizetelly, and others.
General Note: Frontispiece printed in colors.
General Note: Date of publication from inscription.
General Note: Publisher's advertisements precede text.
General Note: Contains poetry and prose.
Funding: Preservation and Access for American and British Children's Literature, 1870-1889 (NEH PA-50860-00).
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00049854
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: Baldwin Library of Historical Children's Literature in the Department of Special Collections and Area Studies, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved, Board of Trustees of the University of Florida.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 002234351
notis - ALH4770
oclc - 62392207

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Cover 1
        Cover 2
    Front Matter
        Page i
    Title Page
        Page ii
        Page iii
    Table of Contents
        Page iv
        Page v
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
        Page 44
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
        Page 64
        Page 65
        Page 66
        Page 67
        Page 68
        Page 69
        Page 70
        Page 71
        Page 72
        Page 73
        Page 74
        Page 75
        Page 76
        Page 77
        Page 78
        Page 79
        Page 80
        Page 81
        Page 82
        Page 83
        Page 84
        Page 85
        Page 86
        Page 87
        Page 88
        Page 89
        Page 90
        Page 91
        Page 92
        Page 93
        Page 94
        Page 95
        Page 96
        Page 97
        Page 98
        Page 99
        Page 100
        Page 101
        Page 102
        Page 103
        Page 104
        Page 105
        Page 106
        Page 107
        Page 108
        Page 109
        Page 110
        Page 111
        Page 112
        Page 113
        Page 114
        Page 115
        Page 116
        Page 117
        Page 118
        Page 119
        Page 120
        Page 121
        Page 122
        Page 123
        Page 124
    Back Cover
        Cover 1
        Cover 2
Full Text


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The Summersunshines brightto-day,
The bee among the flo .ersdoth stray, .
The bird is singing on the spray,
While in the fields the new-mown hay v
Throweth its fragrance every way.
U MM ER is come again, bright and beautiful as
I it ever comet, for the trees and flowers never
looked more lovely than they do now; and although
man sinned against his Maker, and was driven
from the Garden of Eden--
that garden in which the angels
walked, and conversed with ".
Adam-still God, in His good-
ness, adorned the hills and,
fields, with leaves and blossoms,
as beautiful as we can ima-
gine ever waved in Paradise,
that their presence might gladden our '"
-hearts, and call forth our praise and
gratitude, while looking upon the
wonderful workmanshipof His hands


Many a time while at school have we talked about this
delicious season, often wondering if we should find the young
birds hopping about the neighbourhood of the old nest, in the
same green hawthorn hedge, where they had built year after
year; and often have we fancied that we could hear the
sheep bleating beside the brook, where they had been driven
to -be washed;-we imitated the shout of the glad cuckoo,
and recalled the very spot where we heard her singing in
the sunshine, as she stood perched upon the topmost bough
of the old ash-tree. We assembled in little groups, and
planned many an excursion in our minds, to places where
hundreds. of sweet wild flowers grew, to solitudes where the
water-hen swam, and- built, and dived, and reared her young;
where the tall bulrushes waved, and the bending water-flags
nodded to their shadows in the clear stream. Our memory
flew back to the green straggling lanes, and fields that sloped
down from the foot of many a rounded hill; to mornings when
the world seemed bathed in sunshine, and the smell of the
hawthorn mingled with the sweet breath of the cows, as we
drove them homeward at milking time-or, mounted on the
broad-backed horses, rode them to water in the clear pool
beside the wood, before they dragged the heavy wagon into the
hay-field In fancy we saw the wide village green, where the
cricketers were wont to assemble, and the bank by the river
side, where we spent so many happy hours in angling; for old
home-scenes and healthy pastimes seemed to arise before us
with a pleasanter look, as the summer holidays drew nearer;
and our hearts beat lighter as we hailed the season of birds
and flowers; and forests with their rich perfume, and skies
hung with blue, where clouds change from silver to purple,
then become golden as they gather around the setting sun-
for to us summer was ever the happiest season of the year.
Up and away, then, my merry men all," as Robin Hood
says to his foresters in the old ballad, and we will ramble


together through the fields and woods, over many a high hill.
and beside many a pleasant brook, and talk about the wonder
ful things which we are sure to meet with in our way. We
will gaze upon the great oak which seems to grow up into the
very sky, and examine the graceful form of the small cup-moss
which is scattered around its twisted roots on the earth; look
upon the huge ox that lows in the meadows, and shakes the
earth with its heavy tread; and talk about the little harvest-
mouse, which would not more than weigh down a farthing
were it placed in the opposite scale. We will visit the spot
where the fierce hawk builds its nest, and show you the home
which the titmouse erects for her young ones. We will leap,
and run, and shout, and sing that little woodland song of
Shakspere's, until we make the old hills echo again, as they
ring back the chorus, while we merrily exclaim, from the very
joyousness of our hearts,

Under the greenwood tree,
Who loves to lie with me,
And tune his merry note
Unto the sweet bird's throat,
Come hither-come hither."

What a "rasp, rasp," do those mowers make as they
sharpen their scythes! Hark! how the sound is echoed back
from yonder wood; let us pause a moment, and watch them
while they mow down the bladed and tufted grass, and all the
beautiful array of wild flowers. Look how firmly each man
plants his foot upon the ground; what a regularity there is in
the bending of their bodies, and the swinging of their arms--
all moving like one man, step for step, stroke for stroke.
By glancing down the field you may count the number of
" swathes," which tell the width swept down, by every stroke
of the scythe, from where the first cut began, to where the
last sweep ended; wave above wave does the grass lie in
endless succession. as if the wind had blown the broad sur-


face of a lake into ridges, and left them heaped up without
The mower has no time to pause and look at the many
things which would delight us ; he takes no notice of the little
mice which run squeaking everywhere, of the young birds
whose nest he has laid bare and open to the sunshine, cutting
down the feathered grass which closed all around it, and shut it
up in green on every side, so that even the hovering hawk, as
he balanced himself on his wings (although his eye is so sharp
that he could almost see a single hair as it laid upon the
ground), was never able, with its keen glance, to discover that
nest, filled with the half-fledged young ones. He takes no
notice of the flowers which at every sweep he prostrates to the
ground-the golden buttercup, the silver daisy, the tufted
clover, white and red, the purple vetch, the fragrant meadow
sweet, and the cuckoo-flower, are all buried together, ridge
upon ridge, soon to be piled into wind-rows, heaped into hay
cocks, then thrown upon the creaking wagon, and borne away,
load after load, to the rick-yard, and there preserved until
the fields no longer furnish forth pasturage for the cattle.
Further on, we find the hay-makers busy at work, for there
the grass was mown down a week ago ; the farmer is in the
field amongst his labourers, and as he is an old acquaintance
of ours, we will venture in at the open gate. Take up that
fork, and toss the hay about as wide and as far as you can, no
matter how high you heave it, the higher the better, so that
the wind may pass through and dry it thoroughly. While you
are busy here, I will take up the rake and draw closer together
what was spread out yesterday to dry, and soon we shall form
a long bank of hay, the whole length of the field; and these in
the country are called wind-rows," piled high and light, that
the wind may blow through, and the sun shine upon them-
and a beautiful sight is a large field with fifty or a hundred of
these rows, running in a white line from hedge to hedge, like


a sleeping sea, the green spaces between, the trough of the
waves, which seem motionless, and yet to be like it the sea
must be still, which it never is Now we will take up a fork
a-piece, and, commencing at the end of one of these wind-rows,
roll it together, as we would a large snow-ball in winter, over
and over; heavier and heavier it becomes, until it gathers into
a large haycock, high as our heads; and now, after all our
trouble, what say you to a somerset -head over heels, away
we go, up this side and down the other; here's one of our
companions already buried in the midst of it, another armful
or two of hay, and not a bit of him will be seen. Warm work
this, my boys; and we can scarcely proceed for laughter. Look
how John shakes himself as he creeps out from the other side
of the haycock, scattering the hay everywhere, like a water-
spaniel that has been swimming in the river; there is no fear
of our breaking any bones here, though we are all again down
together. But what is this compared to loading the wagon?
Just look what forkfuls the men lift up at a time-half a hay-
cock at once, until their forms seem buried under so large a
bulk. Theirs is indeed a happy life !
Hungry! ah, there is no wonder at that. Let us see
what our friend the farmer has got stored up yonder at the
foot of that old tree-bread and cheese and ham, and a
wooden keg of excellent ale-what can we have better ?-
and all offered to us with a hearty welcome. But beware
of the dog, for we must not proceed too near him without
his master's permission; for he keeps as safe a guard over
his treasures, as a sentry would over the crown jewels in the
Tower of London. A word from the farmer, and the dog
is friendly with us in a moment; he has done his duty, has
given up his charge to his master, and he covets no more than
that friendly pat of the back, which tells him plainer than
language could speak, that he has been faithful to his trust
Listen that is the voice of the

sU I MElt.

which I can compare to nothing else than drawing the thumb-
nail sharply across the teeth of a comb, only a hundred times
louder than any noise we could make on such an instrument
Country lads call it the corn-crake or meadow-crake. Were we
to pursue it, it would be still in a moment; and the next time
we heard it, it would be far away from the spot where it is now,
for it will squat amidst the long grass motionless as a stone;
and I remember seeing one whose head had been cut off by a
mower's scythe, whilst it sat nestling amid the unmown grass.
You rarely see it take to its wings, for it glides onwards from
one spot to another, without once soaring above the waving
surface of the meadow. It generally builds-its nest upon the
ground, and lays from twelve to twenty eggs. Its back is of
a beautiful brown colour, barred with black; while the under
parts are of a pale yellowish brown, almost softened into white
beneath the belly, with about as much tail as some of the
charity school boys in London have to their coats, that is, just
enough projecting to take away the name of jacket. We have
heard a score of them at a time creeking together in the rich
meadow-lands which stretch beside the Trent in Lincolnshire.
It is a most difficult bird to capture, and we never remember
having seen one that was tame. Some say they are much


finer eating than a partridge, but for our part we would much
rather hear their "creek, creek," as we do now, than sit
down, and make our dinner off them.
It would form a pretty picture were we to stay here until
nearly sunset, and watch the

another a hay-fork, a third with the bottle and basket swinging
in the evening; to see them in their rustic costumes threading
their way along yonder winding road. One carrying a rake,
another a hay-fork, a third with the bottle and basket swinging
over hisshoulder-their faces browned with the hues of health
and labour; to see them drop off one by one, just where a


thatched cottage appears here and there in the landscape, half
hidden amid the surrounding trees. They will need no opiate
to send them to rest" the blackbird and the throstle will sing
their evening hymn, and as the twilight shadows settle down
into a deeper blue, the voice of the nightingale will perchance
be heard chanting her tirra-lirra" around their homesteads.
In the morning, while the dew is yet hanging upon the rose,
the speckled lark, starting from its slumber beside the daisy,
will hymn its early matin high in the air, and pour forth a
flood of song, which shall cause the awakened labourer to peep
out from his lattice, half buried in woodbine, and thank God
for the coming of another day which seemeth so favourable to
the gathering in of the hay-harvest: for beautiful is the open-
ing of morning, when the tall tree-tops are first gilded with
the slanting sun-beams, which seem to quiver as they shine
Oh! what a noise do the birds then make in the woods!
what a humming of insects there is in the air, and a sweet
singing sound amongst the waters! you hear the bird-boy's
whistle, and the milk-maid's song, and catch the murmuring
the bees make amongst the flowers, as they come out light,
and return home laden with honey to their hives And many
celebrated men I can tell you have not thought their time
ill-spent in watching the habits of these curious insects ; they
select a season for swarming, waiting even for days, when the
weather is unfavourable; and it is believed by many, that they
first send out scouts to select a spot suitable for the swarm
to alight upon. No sovereign rides forth with a greater train
of attendants than a queen-bee; for she has her outriders, her
spies, and generals, her armed troops who hem her in every
way, guarding herewith watchful and jealous eyes; and where
she once alights, there the whole army settle down, until it is
almost a marvel that they do not kill her with the very weight
of their kindness. If not recaptured and again placed in their
hives, they will often commence forming their honey-comb'in


the hollow bole of a tree; and there are instances on record in
which they have begun to build their cells on an open and
unsheltered bough.
What a pleasant walk have we here along the banks of this
cool river! and at this secluded corner, behold there are a
number of

Unless you can swim well never venture into aeep water.
I well remember, when a boy, being present when one of our
companions was drowned. He ventured out too far, and the
current of the river carried him off his feet. Although there
was no hole, nor dangerous spot where we were bathing-for
a man seven feet high might have walked out foot by foot, and
not lost more than two or three inches of his height in the
water at a stride, so gradual and sure was the slope of the
gravel bed-yet the torrent swept this poor boy off his feet,
and he was drowned !
The scene rises as vividly before me as if it had but hap-
pened yesterday. I remember well it was his birthday; in


honour of which, his fond mother had allowed him to put on
his Sunday clothes. It was after dinner when we went out
for a walk. His mother bade us not stay very late, and in-
vited two or three of us (his chosen playmates) to come home
with him to tea. She had made a large plum-cake to cele
brate his birthday, for he was their only child. I forget now
who it was that first proposed we should go and bathe. It
was in June; a beautiful hot sunshiny day; so instead of
going to the Long Plantation a bird-nesting, as we .at first
intended to do, we turned off at Ashcroft Dike, passed the
old oil-mill, and wandered on the banks of the river, over a
field or two, until we arrived at the Gravel Bed, our favourite
bathing place. We placed our clothes, as usual, carefully
under the willows on the bank, one or two kindly throwing
down their every-day garments, that our companion might put
his Sunday clothes upon them, and so preserve them from
being soiled. I was reckoned a good swimmer, and, if I
remember rightly, made my way at once across the deep river.
Greatly have I regretted this since, for, saving myself, there
was but another amongst us who could swim, and he was
close upon my heels when the alarm was given that our com
rade was drowning. The river Trent, in which we were
bathing, is rather wide; and as I was resting myself on the
opposite bank, I did not at first clearly comprehend what had
happened; for no young savages ever yelled or shouted louder
at the sight of a white man, than we were wont to do whilst
bathing. It was the silence which followed that alarmed me
most, and I swam back again with a heavy heart; for, without
being told, I knew that something had happened. On the
bank the group of boys was huddled together, some crying,
others silent,-all sorrowful. My companion who could swim
assisted me, and we dived for him in turns, until we were
compelled to lie down on the shore, breathless and exhausted,
and almost black in the face through our exertions I shall


carry the scar to my grave which marks the wound I then
received, through the cap of my knee striking against a stone
while searching for him at the bottom of the river. It was a
melancholy picture was that scene on the banks of the Trent;
and such a one I hope it will never be my lot to witness again!
We looked over the water, on which the sunshine streamed,
trying to fix upon the very spot where he last arose, as if
we expected to see him appear once more; but the river
rolled on as smoothly as if it had never closed over a human
being. After waiting long, we dressed ourselves in silence,
each eyeing the clothes which our companion would never
wear again. Then we began to ask one another, who would
undertake the painful task of carrying home the clothes of the
drowned boy.
At length we divided his garments amongst us: his little
waistcoat was borne by one, his jacket by another; each
carried something, from his neckerchief to a single boot. We
entered the town by the back way, as being less frequented;
we passed the school, where he had that very morning received
a reward of merit. One of us went and informed the school-
master of his death. We left his clothes in the school-room,
and good Parson Preedom was sent for; and he carried the
sorrowful tidings to the poor drowned boy's mother. I have
heard the neighbours say it was a heart-breaking scene; that
she had been to the door many times to look for us; had cut
up the plum-cake, and prepared the tea;-but that day none
of us dared to venture near her. It was several days before
the dead body of our companion was discovered, when most of
his schoolfellows attended the funeral. It was the first heavy
sorrow that many of us had ever felt, for he was a great
favourite with us all.
Mark where that boat comes slowly along, drawn by the
horse which traverses the hauling path. There is a look of
mischief about the man who drives the horse See, he has


checked its speed; the hauling-line is slack, and sweeps up
the boys' clothes, who are too happy in the water to pay any
attention to what is passing on the land. A smart stroke of the
whip, and the rope is again on the full stretch, a perfect
clothes-line-jackets, trowsers, and shirts, there they dangle;
the man laughing heartily, and seeming to take no notice of the

'- .

as they hurry out of the river, and endeavour to regain
their garments. Now a jacket is shaken off, and picked
up; and after having led them a chase the whole length of a
field, the driver (who pretends he is not aware of what has
occurred) at last stops his horse, and restores to them the
remainder of their clothes. Then commences a hunt for a
lost knife, a pencil-case, or something or another, which has
fallen out of their pockets while the hauling-line had pos
session of their garments; and those who have lost nothing,
are laughing at the fun, though they are good-natured enough
to assist their companions in the search.


Again I would warn you never to venture into deep
water unless you can swim, or have some one with you that
can, and who is ready to keep a close watch in case of an
accident. Not that swimming is at all difficult to learn, if a
boy has courage enough not to mind being soused head over
ears a few times in safe and shallow water; but he may try to
swim just as well where it is only a yard deep, as if he ventured
up to the neck. Never, while learning to swim, venture into
a strong current, for fear of being swept off your feet. Wade
as far in at first as you can with safety; then turn, with your
face towards the shore, and try to make a stroke. Any boy
who can swim will be proud to show you how to strike out
with the hands and feet, at the same moment of time. Once
learn to draw up the knees, and throw back the legs when you
launch out the arms, and open the hands to strike, and you
will soon be able to swim. Corks, planks, bladders, and such-
like things, are very well for the timid; but a courageous boy
will sooner learn without such assistance, and will swim all
the better afterwards through never having used them. Above
all, remember that every boy may soon swim if he will
but try.
We have said nothing about bathing as conducive to good
health, beside being of itself a noble exercise. If you can
Sswim, what a triumph it is to know that you can cross a deep
river without the aid of a boat! But, oh the proud feeling,
to be conscious that you are almost as safe in the water as on
land ; to look at a river, and be able to say, I neither care
for your being deep nor strong; I can toss your waters aside
by the strength of my arm; and, in spite of your roaring and
rolling, master you. You may carry me a few yards lower
down by your power; but I can get across for all that, by
swimming, like a fish, with my face against the stream! Here
goes for the tree opposite-hey! and back again, old river (by
God's permission), in spite of your strength !"
B w


Oh! how cool, and healthy, and lively one feels after a
good swim, especially if we do not stay in the water too long!
Byron was almost as proud of having swum across the Helle
spont, like Leander of old, as he was of having written
Childe Harold;" nay, he boasted more of having accom-
plished the former feat, than he was ever known to do about
the best poem he ever wrote, for it was a deed which no
coward dare have ventured upon; and courage is a grand
thing for either man or boy to possess, so long as they never
make a foolish use of it. If Nelson never knew what fear
was in his boyish days, depend upon it he was not so well
acquainted with danger, as he was in his after-life.
But I have not yet told you of our

and the dangers we often encountered when we went out tc
meet the tide. There are not many rivers up which the tide
-or Heygre, as it is called in the country-comes; and those
who never before beheld such a sight, would be struck with fear


and astonishment. Fancy yourself in a boat on a broad, calm
river, in a still summer's evening, borne gently along by the
current, and scarcely a ripple on the smooth surface of the
water, saving what is made by the swallow'as it every now and
then dips down. Away you go, laughing and chatting, and
leaving the boat to its own lazy motion, just gliding along as
it likes past the old town, beyond the last wharf, below the
white mill; away and away, between winding banks, where
willows are ever waving; between sweet meadows, where
flocks bleat, and herds low; leaving one village on the right
hand, and another on the left, and still moving along with a
kind of dreamy, idle motion, just as the water wills it, just as
the boat chooses to drop down; when, hark! hush! what
sound is that, which comes like the first roaring of a storm
through the forest? Although it is yet above a mile off, you
hear that low, sullen roar, deepening every moment as it
draws closer. Louder and louder-nearer and nearer it
approaches. Then you hear a distant shout of human voices;
sailor calling to sailor, ship answering to ship; onward and
onward the alarm is sounded, repeated by the boat above you,
as you send downwards the cry of "Ware Heygre !"-which
is taken up and echoed by every boat upon the river for miles
away. Steady, boys! "swape" her head half round, so that
her nose shall just plough the high hill of water which is
coming down thundering upon us. How awful it looks -a
huge wall of water swelling within twenty feet of us, as if
some huge monster, large as the hills, had suddenly risen
from the deep river-bed, and that was the swell he made
before heaving his gigantic and hideous head above the surface
of the river! Fear not, my boys; we pardon your looking a
little pale, as this is the first time you have been out on such
an adventure. Steady, steady! we shall be upset if you all
rush to the opposite side of the boat, and .she will be turned
bottom upwards in a moment Be firm! fear not, move not.
B 2 16


Hold on by the thefts" and sides as firmly as you like,
but at the peril of your lives, m6ve not! It comes! Bang!
dash !-up in the air, and down with a plunge that almost
makes us dizzy. Steady, round .with her head -and we are
off like an arrow from a bow, half filled with water, it is true,
and drenched to the very skin; but ours is a good, strong,
deep boat, made for the stormy sea service; and we have an
old rusty saucepan at the bottom, ready to bale her out with.
So, hurrah, my boys for now we have nothing to fear. What
a pace we go! By Jove, it is like dashing down the Falls of
the Niagara! There never was a vessel in the world went
quicker through half a mile of water, than we have done
What a grand sight! was it not ? The very trees on the
bank seemed to be flying in the air, so rapidly did we dart
past them; and as for the houses, every window seemed to
dance by in long lines of light! Oh! a pleasant place
to live beside, is a noble river like the Trent, where the
great black porpoises come up out of the sea to look at
you, and the immense sturgeons every now and then make
such a swell in the water beside your boat, that you would
hardly be astonished if a whale came next, whipped out his
tail and gave you a whack with it. "And dare you," asks
some young reader, "swim and bathe in such a river?"
Dare we ? Ah! we answer, that we dare "-and have
seen little urchins in the water, seven or eight years old,
"naked and undismayed," pelting a porpoise almost as big as
an elephant, and regretting they could not get near enough
to drop a little salt on its tail. Caught ? Ah that they
are, very often-dragged to shore, carried off in a wagon,
shoved in the stable of some village inn, which lies far away
from the river, and shown at a penny a head to the wondering
rustics !
Observe that dark-looking bird, swimming about beneath
the shadow of the sedge; it is the


which sometimes builds its nest so near the edge of the
water, that after heavy rains it is often carried away, or buried
beneath the stream. It is a wild solitary bird, selecting the
most dark and gloomy spots to build in; and its nest is often
occupied by the water-rat. Were a large pike to make its
appearance, the water-hen would quickly hurry to her nest for
shelter, for fear the pike should snap her up at a mouthful;
her young ones are frequently devoured by fish, for they take
to the water soon after they are hatched; and, no doubt,
their being exposed to so many dangers whilst young is
the cause why the species is so scarce, and so seldom seen.
Observe, what a rich red there is about the base of the bill,
and what a clear white it shows underneath the tail, as it
dives, or turns to and fro in the shadow of the overhanging
willow. Its nest has a very rugged appearance, and is com-
posed of flags or rushes, and such aquatic weeds as grow
beside the pool: the eggs, which vary from five to seven or
nine in number, are of a dirty yellow colour, and look as if
they were spotted with rust. I wish I could show you her
young, but it is too late, unless she has built a second time-


such little black downy things you never saw; they look like
so many rats sailing about in, the water. We might have
wandered a long summer's day, without once meeting with
this bird; nor do I ever remember seeing. more than two
of them together, unless I have stumbled upon the young
brood when first they have taken to the stream. And now,
my boys, I must tell you about the fine sport we had whilst

l ,"


in the streams and sluices which fall into this beautiful river
Trent. Every mile or so, as you walk on its banks you meet


with great flood-gates, which can be opened or shut to keep the
water and fish in, or to let them out at pleasure. And, as we
have before said, these great water-courses, called sluices, dikes,
or delfs,-which latter is an old Saxon name for a place that
has been dug out,-go for miles through the wide marshes and
rich pastures, and are filled with almost all kinds of fresh
water fish:-bearded barbel; red-finned roach; prickly perch;
pike, with enormous jaws, and heads like crocodiles; and
spotted tench, grayling and gudgeon; eels, that were wont
to hide under stones, break our lines, swallow our hooks,
and then escape; bleak, which we caught to bait our bottom
lines with; and I cannot tell how many other kinds of fish,
which were found in abundance in these pleasant inland
streams. And I can tell you we were never fast for a fishing-
rod, where so many beautiful willow-trees grew; but up we
clomb, and cut down one which was small, and straight, and
tapering; a pennyworth of strong twine from the grocer's,
formed our fishing line; we made an excellent float out of an
old pen and a cork ; fastened our hooks, of all sizes, to the
long horse hairs which we twisted with our own hands; and
as for baits, we had only to go to the fell-mongers for gentles,
or dig in the surrounding banks for worms. We were well
acquainted with the deeps and shallows; knew, to an inch,
how to adjust the float, so that we might either angle for top
or bottom fish: and we have carried home many a good fry in
our day. Oh! it was a pleasant life was this angling, on that
beautiful river, or amid these sequestered streams; so exciting
if you chanced to have a bite from a big barbel,-and I will
tell you now, how a big fish once served me.
I had placed my rod upon the bank for a moment, to
pick up a fish I had caught, which was dancing and jump-
ing, and leaping, and at every spring getting nearer and
nearer to the river, and would, at another bound or two, no
doubt, had I not quickly have removed him, regained his


native element. Well, do you know, just as I had succeeded
in throwing him a good way out, amongst the grass .again, with
the other fish I had caught, which lay scattered here and
there and everywhere, another boy, who was angling at a
little distance, but had his eye on my float at the same time,
exclaimed, Oh, there's such a bite at your line I turned
round in time enough to see my rod swimming out in the
river, for the fish was so strong that it had actually pulled the
rod from off the bank. Away went the fish, with the hook
in its jaws, further and further out into the river, occasionally
pulling, for a moment or two, a portion of the rod under water.
Along the bank we ran, watching the progress of the rod as it
went floating down the current, now dragged a little on this
side, then again on that, just as the fish swam and struggled
with the strong hook imbedded in its jaws. There was an
old-fashioned ferry-house two or three fields off, beside the
river; and thitherward we hastened with all the speed we
could, to get out the ferry-boat, and regain again, if possible,
my fishing-rod. The honest ferryman was as worthy and
good-hearted an old soul as ever broke bread, and was as much
delighted with the adventure as we ourselves were; and when
he law the rod come sailing down in the sunshine, with the
top bobbing at intervals under the water, he exclaimed, By
gum, that's a whacker, I'll be bound! A ten or a twelve
pounder, I'll take my appydavy on it "-meaning, no doubt,
affidavit. Ah you should have seen us push out with the
boat! How anxiously we watched for the rod, as it floated
nearer! How the boat kept dropping down the stream!
How the rod crossed first on one side, then on the other!
How we stretched over the boat side How the old ferryman
stood with the boat-hook in his hand, ready to get hold of the
fishing-rod as soon as he could; and how, at last, he did get
hold of the rod, and said, By gum, it is a whacker!"-and
how, after a long time, and a deal of patience, we saw the


great barbel sprawling at the bottom of the ferry-boat, and
banging about as if it would have driven a hole through the
bottom if it could. That was the largest barbel I ever saw
caught, and was more than the old ferryman and his family
could eat at a meal.
Then you should have seen us after a day's angling, when
getting a small willow-twig, we twisted it, and tying a kind of
knot or loop at the thick end, to prevent the fish from falling
off, we thrust the smaller part through the gills, for they had
all been dead a long time then, and commenced stringing
them,-beginning with the larger fish first, and diminishing
their size as the string became shorter, from the huge barbel
at the bottom to the little bleaks at the top, small by degrees
and beautifully less." Weren't we proud when we walked into
the town or village, with such a row of fish thrown over our
shoulder-twenty or thirty !-ay, even sometimes more, on the
same string? Then old Uncle John used to joke us so, and
anger us, and say that we had been fishing with the silver
hook, which means buying the fish from other boys who had
caught them. Now, you know, this was too bad when we had
caught all the fish ourselves. Not but that there are plenty
of boys who, through either being indifferent anglers, or having
had what they call bad luck, would not hesitate, if they had
the money, to buy up the fish which their poorer companions
had caught, and taking them home, perhaps without exactly
telling a story, would say, "See! what luck we have had.
to-day!" This, as we have before said, is what Uncle John
called fishing with the silver hook !"
Yet it wasn't the fish alone that we cared so much about
after all; but the pleasure we enjoyed, the fresh air, the sweet
sunshine, the green trees that quivered and twinkled as they
overhung the water, the willows that waved, and the bulrushes
and water-flags that bowed and nodded and swayed to and fro
lower down beside the water's edge, and the little birds that


all day long kept flying in and out of these shady and sedgy
recesses-to watch the weeds waving, and the birds, afforded
us quite as much pleasure as angling. Then it was so de-
lightful to wander home in the tranquil summer evenings,
passing the haymakers and the groups of country people
who had been out all day working in the fields, and sometimes
to see such pretty little road-side pictures,-a young girl,
perchance, milking, by the side of some green hawthorn
hedge, or under the shadow of an old majestic tree, singing
to herself like a bird, and making us think that there is no
happier state of existence than a country life. Then a
consultation was held amongst us, and all the bread we could
muster was turned out, pieces that had been in our hats or
pockets all day, or had lain in our handkerchiefs on the bank,
and got dried in the sunshine, which we had handled with our
fishy fingers, not altogether free from dirt,-all these were
turned out, for every mouthful was precious now, and we bar-
gained with the pretty milkmaid for many a dishful of her
white, foamy, warm new milk, which we drank from such a
clean wooden dish, white and thin, and shaped like an immense
saucer. Oh what a delicious meal that was How sweetly
did the dirty and fishy bread go down! All the dainties we
ever tasted in after days can never be named beside those
dirty and delicious morsels; and when we had no money, we
gave her one of our largest fish-just as Izaak Walton did in
his day, above two hundred years ago, when he drank a
draught of red cow's milk, and chatted with pretty Maudlin
and her honest mother, as he himself tells us in his delightful
book on angling.
But I must now tell you a good story about Ducky DRnt,.who
wasn't altogether so sharp as he might have been. We used
to say he was born about five-and-twentjr minutes too late.
His fond old mother never called him anything but Ducky
Now, her Ducky, at the time we are about to bring him before


our readers, could not be a day less than forty years old; and
we used to call him a tough Ducky! He shaved once a-week,
and on a Saturday had a beard like a Billy-goat; a little
snub-nose, that cocked up like a button-topped mushroom; a
good-natured squint in both eyes, quite able, as the saying
is, to look round a corner. He was also knock-kneed, and
stuttered dreadfully. Had you met him in the street for the
first time, you would have stopped and laughed at him with
all your might; for boys cannot help laughing sometimes,
when they see such an odd countenance. He was the very
image of some funny little old man, such as you see occasion-
ally upon a jug, or stuck upon a mantel-piece; but, as his dear
old mother said, "a better-hearted cretur was never king of
England;" and she was right. She rushed one day into
Nanny Harrison's, her next-door neighbour, in such a pleasing
pucker, that, as Nanny said, it quite did your heart good to
see her, and exclaimed, "Hey, Nanny, lass! they say my
Ducky's soft; but he isn't. I'd proof o' that to-day, when I
was ironing; for he came, and took up one o' my hot irons,
and laid it down again in a moment, without my telling him!
Now, you see, Nanny, if my Ducky had been soft, he would
have kept it in his hand until it had burnt him; and not laid
it down, like a sensible lad as he is. If anybody ever says,
he's soft, Nanny, tell 'em that; then see whether they won't
say he's sharp enough, or not!"
Ducky Dent was, however, a famous fisherman, and the
best setter of bottom lines along the river. You know what a
bottom line is-a great long strong string, with hooks fastened
to it, about three or four feet apart from each other; one end
of this you fasten down with a stout peg at about low-water
mark, by the river side; then making a stone fast to the other
end, you throw the stone as far out as you can into the river-
line, hooks, and all, following as a matter of course, and there
you leave it all night, when the tide sets in, and makes


deep water for yards above it. Next morning you go again at
low water to see what there is on the hooks, for remember
that they have been fishing by themselves all.night long. Well,
you know, one night Ducky Dent having set his bottom line,
and we having watched until he went away, took up the line,
fastened a large red herring to one of the hooks, and threw
it in again just as he himself had before done. Fancy his
astonishment next morning, when he came to take up the
bottom line, and found on it a pike, an eel, and a red herring-
the first red herring, as he said, he had ever caught before in
his life; and it had such a funny mouth too, and smelt just like
those you bought in the shops. He showed it to everybody
he knew, and everybody, of course, laughed heartily; some
advising him in future to bait with boiled potatoes; at all
events it satisfied Ducky Dent that a salt, dried, red herring
was a fresh-water fish; for, as his mother said, "he had
caught it himself, and nobody could deny that! "

7 -

""- -- -' "- ---

is a beautiful animal, which we often saw when angling,


and which frequents our brooks and river-sides. It is an
expert swimmer and diver, and you would be delighted to see
it paddling about in the water; raising its short thick head,
and peering up with its small dark eyes, then nibbling off a
leaf here and there, and plunging to the bottom the moment
it is alarmed; for a water-rat lives entirely upon vegetables
and roots, and such water plants as grow about its haunts;
and all that is said about its eating fish and destroying young
ducks, is untrue: a more harmless and inoffensive animal
cannot be found on the banks of our rivers. Were we to
examine this bank narrowly, we should no doubt discover the
hole somewhere about, which leads to its nest. And you'd be
astonished were you to take a long thin willow, which would
bend every way, to find the immense depth to which those
holes extend: but what is the most curious of all, the hole
which leads to its nest is sometimes beneath the water; so
that the rat has but to dive down and enter it, and, as the
hole is made to ascend above the water into the bank, after
having dragged his furry coat through a foot or two of water at
the bottom of his hole, he soon finds himself safe enough in his
nest on dry land. I remember, when we were boys, being
very much puzzled about this, for we had often watched two
water-rats swimming about at the foot of a bank, which was
free from sedge and willows, for a considerable distance, yet,
when they dived, and we had lost sight of them, they did not
appear again sometimes for an hour or more; and this, I can
assure you, puzzled us very much, for we knew it could not
remain under water above a minute or so without coming up
to breathe. As it was a dry summer, the water in the brook
of course got lower every day; and when it sunk about a foot
within its bed, it left bare and dry the hole which led to the
nest of the water-rat, and into which we afterwards saw them
enter many a time. It is very cruel to hunt and kill these
beautiful and harmless little animals with dogs I am sure a


kind-hearted boy would find much greater pleasure in watching
their playful habits, as they swim about in the water, than in
destroying them. Observant boys might add a great deal to our
knowledge of natural history, if in their rambles they would
watch more narrowly the habits of animals instead of delight-
ing so much in killing them; for they are no doubt as happy
in their way as we are in our own, and find as much pleasure
in their play and recreation as the happiest group of boys who
ever sallied forth to enjoy themselves in the wide range of the
green fields. I should love that boy much better who
would turn aside rather than tread upon a worm, than he who
wilfully placed his foot upon it; for remember the "great
Shakspere has told us, that the beetle we tread upon feels as
great a pang as when a giant dies." And yet, after all this
sermonising, I am afraid that I was. not a bit better than
other boys. I will tell you why.
You see that hole in the bank? years ago I remember
the encounter we had there whilst storming a wasps' nest.-
It was on a Wednesday morning, before school-time, and we
wanted the grubs to fish with in the afternoon, which was
our half holiday: so here we came, in the broad sunshine,
while the whole of the armed host were flying in and out of
the hole in the bank, beating around our heads, and threaten-
ing what they would do unless we decamped. Several of us
were armed with green branches, with which we beat off the
dreaded scouts, who began to murmur louder and louder every
moment. We had made a long tube of smouldering paper,
which was filled with powdered brimstone, and all that was
necessary to be done was to thrust the tube into the mouth of
the nest, set fire to it, and then close up the aperture. But
who dare storm such a citadel, or head such a forlorn hope,
when every moment scores of wasps were issuing out ready to
do battle ? We had heard that wasps could not sting through
a silk handkerchief, so a boy was at last found who had


courage enough to cover his head with one; and drawing on a
pair of old gloves, he went boldly forward and thrust the sul-
phureous tube, which was lighted and handed to him, into the
hole; and scarcely had the smoke begun to rise, before he
came jumping off, and shrieking as if he himself was on fire.
The wasps had stung through the silk, had got into his waist-
coat, had surrounded us every way; not a spot was clear
saving where the burning tube threw out its deathly smoke on
the bank; and another lad was found bold enough, in the
midst of the fight, to rush forward and thrust a large handful
of wet clay on the mouth of the nest; when lo! they had
another outlet, and out came the enraged host uninjured.
What a battle had we then to fight; not one amongst us but
was wounded; we slew scores, but still the ranks were filled
up, for it was the strongest" wasps' nest we had ever
stormed. Some shrieked, some howled, others ran away, pur
sued by the winged enemy; some carried off the foe concealed
in their dresses; eyes were soon to be closed up; lips swollen;
necks and bosoms stung; hands rendered unbearable; for not
one amongst our number escaped; and when we presented
ourselves at the school-door, we were all ordered home, like so
many soldiers who are sent after a battle to the nearest
hospital. Some of us were put to bed, and the swollen places
rubbed with honey; and more than one boy had his eyes
sealed up, and was unable to see for a day or two: the pain
we endured for a time was dreadful; nor did we after all
succeed in carrying off the nest. Were we not rightly served?
What right had we to attempt to burn and stifle the wasps in
their nest? True, they are dangerous insects; yet they seldom
sting any one unless they are first attacked, and then they can
defend themselves to some purpose. Anybody who has burnt
himself severely, may form a correct notion of the pain
inflicted by the sting of a wasp; for although the latter is
less dangerous in the end, yet it is equally painful whilst it


lasts. Their nests are very curious, and in form resemble the
noney-comb, being full of cells, in which the white grubs are
deposited: and you will be surprised when I tell you that
they are the oldest paper-makers on record.
Reaumur states, that for twenty years, he endeavoured,
without success, to discover the materials employed by wasps
in forming the blue, grey, papery substance, so much used in
the structure of their nests. One day, however, he saw a
female wasp alight on the sash of the window; and it struck
him, while watching her gnawing away the wood with her
mandibles, that it was from such materials as these she formed
the substance which had so long puzzled him. He saw her
detach from the wood a bundle of fibres, about the tenth of
an inch in length, and finer than a hair; and as she did not
swallow them, but gathered them into a mass with her feet,
he had no doubt but that his opinion was correct. In a short
time he saw her shift to another part of the window, and carry
with her the fibres which she had collected, and to which she
continued to add. He then caught her, and began to examine
her bundle, and found that it was neither yet moistened nor
rolled into a ball, as it is always done before used by the wasp
in her building. He also noticed that before detaching the
fibres, she bruised them into a kind of lint with her mandibles.
All this he imitated with his penknife, bruising and paring.
the same wood till it resembled the fibres collected by the
wasp: and so he discovered how wasps manufactured their
paper;-for these fibres are kneaded together into a kind of
paste, and when she has formed a round ball of them, she
spreads it out into a leaf, nearly as thin as tissue paper; and
this she accomplishes'by moving backwards, and levelling it
with her mandibles, her tongue, and her teeth And so the
wasp forms paper, placing layer upon layer, fifteen or sixteen
sheets deep, and thus preventing the earth from falling down
into her nest.


There is nothing in Nature but what is worthy of observa-
tion ; even a summer shower, if watched with anattentive eye,
is highly interesting. It comes down all at once, in large
downright drops; you may count every one within tltspace.of
a yard upon the spotted and dusty high-road; in a pond it is
truly beautiful, making such a variety of circles, as if only to
break them again in an instant; then it keeps up such a "pat,
patting," amongst the leaves-you stand under a thick leafy
tree, and can hear the pleasant rattling above your head, until
drop after drop comes through and begins to fall upon the
ground where you shelter, and which, when all around beside
seemed soaked with wet, had hitherto remained dry. And
that shower had, perhaps, been drawn up by a water-spout out
of some large lake, or pond: and we have before now felt a
frog come thump upon our hat in a summer shower. What!
you exclaim, does it ever rain frogs? Ay, that it does; for
as in the old game of "Take care of your heads!" What
goes up must come down." Why you see it stands to sense,
that if the water-spout has sucked up a few hundreds of frogs
from some marshy lake, they are sure to come down again
with a "rattle at their heels," as the old women say, when
they threaten to fetch home some truant. And oh! what a
delicious odour hangs about the air after a refreshing shower;
it seems as if the rain had called out a thousand fragrances,
which had slept motionless amongst the leaves and flowers.
sunshine shower,
Rain for half an hour,"
used to be our song when we were boys, and wanted to get out
to play; and then, if the sun did chance to break out again,
and the sky to clear up, that was the time for a walk, no
matter what hour of the day it might have been.
But really there are so many curious things to be seen
during a ramble in summer, that I am afraid I shall never
be able to make you acquainted with a twentieth part of them;
C 29


there is not a flower blows, however common it may appear to
the eye, but what, when examined, shows such harmony and
beauty in its construction, that you may, by a little study,
identify it with an extensive class, all bearing a close resem-
blance to each other. You look over this unmown field, and
nothing strikes your attention but the difference of colour
amongst the wild flowers. You little dream of the beauty and
variety there is amongst the grasses above, and that many of
them are more exquisite in form and structure than the proud-
est flower that ever bloomed. Wheat is the monarch of grass,
the king of all green and bladed things; and you will find his
resemblance amongst a score of other grasses, the oat-grass,
and the rye-grass, and many an eary-head that furnishes the
birds with food. You never can mistake the. species after
having once noticed the straight unbranched stalk, with the
narrow flag-like-leaf, which starts from every knob or joint of
the straw," as if it was a portion of the stem, and which,
upon examination, you will find it is, and that "peeling
straws" is no impossibility: that, in the common grasses,
which cattle browse upon, the more they eat the stronger the
root becomes; and that in many kinds cattle leave untouched
the straws that bear the seed and flower, which, when ripened,
are blown out of the husk, and so left to sow themselves. But
what is still more singular, those grasses, which grow on the
tops of cold mountains where it is too bleak for the sun to
perfect the flower, there the seed shoots up afresh from the old
root, and the buds, which are formed during the winter, thus
grow on independent of the new seed. We have not time
now but when we have, we will gather a handful of grass
from some field, then sit down and count the different
varieties which each has culled, and you will be delighted with
the beautiful and silky flowers which many of them bear; nor
will you ever after walk through a field without admiring the
flowers of the grass.


Did you ever before see the nest of the large black ant ?,
Here's a pile, looking as if the earth all about had been rolled
into little round balls. Just thrust in the end of your stick,
and hundreds will rush out in a moment. Beware of their
bite; it is awful! I once threw a dead mole on this very
nest; and the next day it was picked so clean, that you might
have fancied the bones had been polished with some instru-
ment. I know of no method by which you could obtain such
clean and perfect skeletons of birds or small animals, as
leaving them for a day or so on the nest of the black ant.
Look at the one here, which I have touched; how he spars at
me with his legs, seeming to sit down to it. I would not
place my hand for a minute on that nest for a trifle.
I was once walking by here, when something came with a
loud bang against my hat. I uncovered my head to see what
it was, and beheld a large wasp carrying off a black ant. I
shook them off into the middle of the road. Oh, what a
struggle there was between them The ant had got hold of
one of the wasp's wings, and he could not rise. You should
have seen what a fast hold he kept: it was like two boys pulling
at a rope, as in the game of French and English; the wasp
struggled to get his wing free; then the ant pulled as if he
would have dragged the wing off; and so they kept at it for
several seconds, till at length the wasp began to try other
means to conquer his rebellious captive. For a dozen times
did he then endeavour to get the ant under him, but in vain;
the ant pulled with all his strength at the end of the wing he
had seized upon, and so prevented the wasp from rising. If
the latter, by the aid of the one wing which was free, managed
to rise a few inches, he was quickly brought down to the ground
again, by the strength and weight of the ant. The struggle
lasted for several minutes, and neither seemed to obtain any
advantage. You would have been astonished had you but
seen into what attitudes the wasp wriggled its elastic body;
c 2 1


still the ant kept a firm hold on the right wing, and escape
seemed impossible. At last, the wasp made a desperate effort,
and, expanding its one wing rose from the ground several
times in rapid succession, each time bending its body into an
arch, and endeavouring to get the ant undermost. The last
fall seemed to have stunned its opponent. It was scarcely
the work of a moment: and
the ant was Seln i.-tneat the
S' -p, aii v wa carried away
""r ; i r the I.w hledgel l tltie di-
ie tion Al' the ,int uirich we
S'' : I ittr'mpr.:-d in vaiu to.i *I-'troy.
-. I nu,-. tr .ele nr since
-- ar int.,elrl, k tkt -tn.en

i\*hat is it tlh.t hba :1 r.-sted
Souri I'ltteutl..n nu,:w is ,ell the
": ,:,.tt e th d, ,e



LIe leads a happy life enough, no doubt. You see the small
rushes which he every now and then mixes with the larger
ones? Those are of English growth; such we saw beside


the river, and waving above the bank where we beheld the
water-hen. He can always have plenty of those for the
trouble of cutting them; the larger ones come from Holland
His is not so good a trade as it once was, for there are not so
many chairs bottomed with rushes since cane seats came into
fashion. Watch how nimbly and strongly he twists the rushes
with his fingers; now in this corner, then in that, plat after
plat is laid down; and every time he goes round the corner of
the chair, the hole in the middle grows less. How merrily the
ragged fellow whistles! What cares he? He carries his shop
upon his back, and finds employment in every village he comes
to. If he does his work well, he is sure of a glass of beer and
a crust of bread and cheese. That woman keeps the village
alehouse, and she has come to talk with him about mending
and bottoming her chairs before the club-feast is held at her
house. Rare quarters will he have there; and you will hear
him singing in the kitchen, on an evening after he has done
his work, like a linnet; and perhaps his old crony, the tinker,
is at work somewhere in the neighbourhood, and will join him
at night, when they will talk over the pleasant trips they have
had together, the many beautiful villages they have seen in
their rambles, and which is the pleasantest road to take if you
wish to reach them. Wonderful things have these two happy
old fellows seen in their travels; nests, and snakes, and
water-newts, and great gledes, that carried off young chickens.
They have chased young foxes and hunted young hares, and
taken rooks' nests from the topmost branches of many a tall elm-
tree; and when they could get no work in autumn, you never
saw what quantities of brown nuts and ripe blackberries they
would bring home. No two boys were ever happier than they
are, when out in the country together.
But I must tell you, that when the Village Club-Feast is
held at the public-house, the village school children will also
have their holiday, and go to church; and hen come back to


the school-room, where they will have tea and plum-calke
Oh! how you would laugh to see those little rustics sit down
to tea, many of them for the first time in their lives placed
before a cup and saucer, and never having been used to any-
thing but their brown porringer and wooden spoon, from which
they ate and drank their bread and milk. Poor little fellows!
they will take hold of the saucer with both hands, and blow
away, with swollen cheeks, until their tea is cool enough; and
bite such mouthfuls out of their great plum-cakes, that it
would delight you to watch them. Then, it would amuse you
to see them in the evening, playing at


on the village green. All the boys and girls will take hold of
hands and form a ring, leaving some girl or boy outside, who
will walk round and round, and at length strike some one
smartly on the back ; then run in and out between the uplifted


and opened arms of those who form the ring, darting across
the centre, and out on the opposite side; now threading their
way in a zig-zag form, then shooting across again, and baffling
the pursuer, who is compelled to follow the course of the
leader, who, if she is a light-built girl, will lead the rustic
youth a long chase before he can win the kiss which is his
reward for overtaking her; for sometimes the girls in the
ring, although they leave ample room enough for their fair
companion, will lower their arms, or stand closer, when her
pursuer has to pass; thus giving her time to make a turning
or two which he has not seen; and if he once passes through
a wrong opening, he is out, and must pay a forfeit. Some are
of opinion that this is the old English game which is so
often made mention of in our earlier poets; and, from the
passages I have met with in their writings, I have come to
the same conclusion.
Country feasts, and all such-like merry-makings, are
generally attended by some oddity or another; and I well
remember a man called Soft Jimmy, who visited all the
country wakes for miles around. He used to say, when
asked where he lived, that he was like a dog, and had his
home everywhere." His residence was, I believe, in a neigh-
bouring workhouse, from which they allowed him to go out
whenever he pleased. They never could get him to work, for
he was a sad, lazy fellow. If they set him to weed the garden,
he was sure to pull up all the flowers, and leave the weeds;
and when they spoke to him about it, he only said, "What
can you expect from Soft Jimmy?" If they made him turn
the grindstone, he would always turn it from the man sharpen-
ing his tools: if the grinder changed sides, so did Jimmy; he
never would turn it the right way. One day he found a
sixpence, and a man who saw him pick u said, "I've lost
one." "But had yours a hole in it?" s rm my, looking at
the sixpence in his hand. "Yes," answered the man at a


venture. "Then mine has not," said Soft Jimmy, chuckling
with delight. But Jimmy was once taken in. He was too
fond of cold gin-and-water, and one day asked a farmer to
treat him. "If you'll go home with me," said the farmer,
" 111 give you as much as yoi can drink, Jimmy." Soft
Jimmy ran for a mile or two beside the farmer's horse; and
when they reached the farm-house, the farmer called for a pail
of water, into which he poured a small glass of gin, telling
Jimmy, when he had finished that he should have another.
" He was too sharp for me that time," said Jimmy. But Soft
Jimmy took the farmer in afterwards. He was asked to run
an errand, and the reward was to be as much bread and cheese
as he could eat. Jimmy carried off the remainder of the cheese
and the large brown loaf; saying no time was mentioned, and
if he could not eat it all that day, he could the next. The
good-natured farmer laughed, and, in consideration of the trick
he had'Tayed him, let Jimmy off with the plunder. Poor
fellow although he but aped softness, and pretended not to
be right sharp, that he might live in laziness, yet he became
a senseless idiot at last, and died in the true character which
he had so long assumed;-a warning which ought not to be
lost upon us. Were I writing a maudlin book, I might
make a long sermon on the fate of Soft Jimmy; but I trust
I am writing for fine manly-hearted boys, who if they
assume anything at all, it will be a character of noble
manliness-a something beyond, rather than behind, their
Pleasant, too, was sheep-washing and sheep-shearing time;
such a dreamy bleating beside the brooks and about the barns,
as the sheep and lambs answered each other from the wattled
fences in which they were confined to keep them separate;-
rare fun was it for us to pull and drag at some great, fat,
heavy sheep, and drawing it towards the water's edge shove it
in, and perhaps ourselves with it, while the sheep-washer stood


ready to souse the moving mass of wool head over ears. To
see how he seized the sheep by the saturated wool, gave it a
push, and sent it along swimming to the next washer, who,
having given it a second immersion, sent it swimming onwards
towards the third; and he, after a finishing plunge, left it to
find its way to its bleating and dripping companions, who,
congregated together on the adjacent bank, seemed complaining
to each other of. the ill-usage they had undergone. Many a
tug and pull have we had at those sturdy sheep, our hands oily
through dragging at their hot fleeces, as we compelled them to
undergo a thorough washing; and reasoning with them in our
way, as Shakspere's Lance did to his dog, Come along with
you," we used to may, you great, big, woolly brute; I'm sure
you must almost be sweltered to death in that close, thick, oily
fleece; surely you can't grumble at being washed once a-year,
to make you clean, and sweet, and decent; however you can
stand in the summer sunshine with all that wool on you I don't
know; I'm sure if I was wrapped in such a hot, shaggy coat,
such weather as this, I should swale away like a candle in an
oven on baking day. Come along with you, and don't stand
there making such a noise as that, you'll feel as comfortable
again after you've had a ducking or two in the brook; and as
for your wool, why you'll look as if you'd got a new suit on, or
eaten nothing all the summer but snow-white daisies and
May blossoms."
But kind words had no effect upon them, so we were com-
pelled to follow the example of our excellent schoolmaster, who,
when he found that persuasion and forbearance wouldn't do at
all, had recourse to what seldom or never failed, and that was
a little rude, downright force. The washing once over, and
the sheep having staid a few days just to let the wool regain its
old, oily elasticity, so that, as the clippers say, they may shear
all the softer, then the great summer sheep-shearing began in
earnest. The huge, high, heavy, ponderous barn-doors were


taken off their hinges, and placed on strong, low tressels, or
heavy logs of wood to elevate the doors to a convenient height,
and on these ample tables the sun-browned shearers clipped the
bleating sheep. Oh it was famous fun to see them clipping
away one against the other, and striving who could get done
first-to roll up the fleeces and carrythem into the barn, untilwe
raised up quite a stack of wool--then to have a swing suspended
from the great high rafters of the barn, and go such a height:
ah! that was swinging indeed-then to roll all amongst the
wool-to fetch the sheep up to the shearers-to turn them
loose again after they were clipped, and watch how the lambs
were puzzled to pick out their dams from the flock which had
been shorn; you would have liked to have been there, amid all
that bleating of sheep, and barking of dogs, and such racing as
we had aftelvhe sheep that ran away; it was prime sport, I
can tell you. But the best of all was the sheep-shearing feast
-such bowls of fermenty stuffed full of currants, as you never
before saw in your life, and chines of beef seasoned with all kinds
of nice herbs, which are only known to old-fashioned country
people; great horns of ale, and glorious plum-puddings, almost
as much as a boy could lift. Then it was so pleasant to remem-
ber that these sheep-shearing feasts are hundreds and hundreds
of years old, and that we read all about them in the Holy Bible,
and what Nabal's wife, who lived in Carmel, sent to King
David when she kept up her sheep-shearing feast. There are
many good old customs still existing in England, as we shall
show before we have written all we intend to write about the
four seasons of the year.
But the village feast has brought to my mind old Abraham
Axby, a fine, tall, straight, silver-haired old soldier, who had
fought in several engagements, and returned to his native
village in his old age, to enjoy a comfortable pension. It has.
I fear, been the lot of but few boys to-have a companion and
friend like this honourable old English soldier. Although


sixty years of age, he was as much a boy at heart as the
youngest of us; and in the summer season his greatest delight
was to take some refreshment in a basket, a bottle of ale, his
tinder box, pipe, and tobacco, and spend the live-long day in
rambling far away from house and home, amongst the hills
and woods. Many and many a day have I been his only com-
panion. Oh, what a delicious gipsy-like kind of a life it
was! and he was acquainted with almost every tree that grew;
every wild flower, or nearly, that blowed; knew a bird by its
note, and could tell by their song whether they had young
ones or not. What have we not seen in those great forest-
like woods, in a summer's day? Warton wood, which was five
miles wide and seven miles long; where we have started a
polecat, that has been devouring a rabbit; chased young foxes
into their holes; seen weasels, and snakes, and otters, by the
brook; water-rats and efts, and dark venomous vipers; toads,
so black, and such a size; ravens with great horny beaks and
owls horrible to look upon; with hawks almost as big as eagles;
and, above all, a large tree with ten herons' nests on it. Then
that old soldier was so brave, that I do not believe he would
have run away, no, not if even a wolf had made its appearance.
A wolf! why he had seen wolves abroad, had heard them howl
around the camp through the long dark night, which closed
over the hard-fought battle-field. Oh! what marvels he used
to recount, as he sat on the root of some antique oak, smoking
his pipe, and narrating his hair-breadth escapes in flood and
The great green solitudes of the woods seemed to have a
strange charm for the brave old veteran; he loved to hear
the cooing of the ring-dove, the dreamy rustling of the long
leaves, and the murmur of the woodland brook; and some-
times I have seen him steal away, while he thought the
tall underwood would conceal him from my view, and there I
have noticed him, unobserved, kneeling down on the velvet moss


to pray. Since those days I have often thought, that perchance
the old soldier had slain some brother-man in battle, and that
his conscience had accused him of the deed, and he found it
hard to reconcile his duty to his country with his duty to God,
who has so solemnly forbidden the shedding ofhuman blood. Such
thoughts passed not through my mind whilst I was but a boy,
but they have done many a time since then. My acquaintance
with that old soldier was the means of my knowing hundreds of
things, which are to be found in the country, which I might not
but for him have understood. He talked, and I gladly
listened;. and he had at home many a good old-fashioned
Herbal, and many a volume of Natural History, the plates of
which he taught me to copy; thus rendering out-of-door
objects familiar to my sight before I had attained my twelfth
year. I knew wood-betony from the dead-nettle; could tell
agrimony thhgh I stood yards off, and knew how to make it
into "tea," a common beverage even to this hour amongst
country-people. Oh what bundles of herbs we used to gather!
if they possessed but half the virtues attributed to them by the
grey-haired veteran, mankind would have but little need of
doctors. Then he was so clever at limingg" sticks for birds;
could catch the old one whenever he wished, to carry it home
along with the young ones: and as for moles, if he once stuck
a stick and a string in the ground, next morning the "mouldi-
warp," as he called it, was almost sure to be there.
Then he knew such a deal about England, hundreds of
years ago, and old English forests, when they abounded with
wolves, and wild boars, and great stags, which kings hunted,
and Robin Hood chased; would tell me, if we had been found
in those forests in former days, how we should have been
outlawed and proclaimed, and dragged before the court of
Eyre, and the claws cut off our dogs' feet, and even hung, if
we had shot a stag which the king had proclaimed free. It
was only in after days, when I had read Manwood's History of


Forest Laws, that I found all these marvellous things to be
true. He told me how in that age, men were imprisoned
for trespassing on the forest boundary, although there was no
mark to tell them where the forest-line began nor where it
ended; perhaps a mill stood here, and a mile or two further
off a great oak-tree; and there was not even a footpath to tell
you when you stepped within the forbidden mark, as you
traversed the immense space betwixt the two objects. 'It
seemed as if the Verdurers, or Agistors (for such names were
the gamekeepers called in those days), could imprison you
whenever they pleased. And right glad was I to find, in the
old ballads, how Robin Hood and his merry men rose up, and,
in defiance of these cruel laws, slaughtered the deer, and
opposed the proud Normans, and preferred leading a wild life
in the forests to eating the bread of slavery under such stern
task-masters. And you would not believe how the poor were
ground down, and what they had to endure and how they
could find no redress for the wrongs inflicted upon them by the
rich, unless you were to read some good History of England
which treats of the manners and customs of that period.
Oh, what a great change has England undergone since
Abraham Axby lived! Steam-boats were talked of then as
wonderful things, which would go against the tide without sails,
or without losing much ground. Railways were undreamed of,
except the common tram-ways at the collieries, sent down an
inclined plane, and drawn up by an engine stationary on the
hill, and a strong rope. The market-boat, hauled by a horse,
or two men, travelled at the rate of two miles and a half in
the hour. To hear from America, was indeed tidings from an
invisible world; while India laid far away under the sun, a
burning-hot far-off country, from whence, we believed in those
days, no traveller returned. But now there is scarcely a boy
amongst you who has not heard of railway trains running at the
rate of fifty miles an hour; of steamers crossing the Atlantic


Ocean in sixteen days; and of letters coming from India to
England within the space of a month: while I, who boasted at
twelve of knowing wood-betony and agrimony, should be puz-
zled with the first lesson a mere child, who is learning botany,
masters in its earliest exercise.
And during my rambles with the old soldier, we used to see
weasels, and stoats, and martens, which build their nests in
holes in banks, or in the hollow places of trees; and kill
hares and rabbits, catch birds, and destroy their eggs, plunder
hen-roosts, and think nothing of putting a large turkey to death
in an instant! Oh! they are a destructive race of little savages
are these; and one has been known, before now, to attack a child
in its cradle, and inflict a deep wound upon its neck,, where it
clung, and sucked like a leech-for they are fond of blood, and to
obtain this they will sometimes destroy a whole hen-roost, not
caring to feed upon the bodies of the poultry which they have
killed. Some of these are red, some brown; and they are said
to change their colour in the winter. They will climb trees,
attack the old bird on its nest, suck the eggs, or carry off the
young, for nothing seems to come amiss to them. They are
also great hunters after and destroyers of mice, and their long
slender bodies are well adapted to follow these destructive little
animals through their runs in corn-stacks; thus rendering the
farmer good service occasionally, although they never ask him
to reward them with a duck or a chicken, but, whenever they
see a chance, help themselves without his consent. Oh! if
you could but see one attack a mouse!-just one single bite of
the head, which is done in a moment, and which pierces the
brain, and before you can say Jack Robinson," the mouse is as
dead as a red-herring, for it has neither time to squeak nor
struggle. It is no joke, I can tell you, to be bitten by a
weasel; and if you thought, when you caught hold of him by
the back, you had him safe, you would soon find your mistake
out, for his neck is as pliable as india-rubbdr, and he would


have hold of your hand in a moment. What think you of
a great sharp-beaked

and flying up with him into the air to carry him off to
his nest, thinking to himself, no doubt, "I've caught you at
last, my young gentleman; you've eaten many a bird in your
day, but I'll eat you now." Thank you for nothing," said
the weasel as he rode, not very comfortably, between the
claws of the hawk; two can play at that game, Mr. Hawk;
and if you mean feasting on me, I don't see why I shouldn't


have a taste of you;" so he twisted round his elastic neck,
poked up his pointed nose, and in he went, with his sharp
teeth, right under the wings of the hawk, making such a hole
in an instant that you might have thrust your finger in. The
hawk tried to pick at him with his hooked beak, but it was no
use, the weasel kept eating away, and licking his lips as if he
enjoyed himself; and the hawk soon came wheeling down to
the ground, which he no sooner touched, than away ran the
weasel, with his belly full, and not a bit the worse for the
ride; while Mr. Hawk lay there as dead as a nail. Wasn't
the biter nicely bit! And what I've told you is quite true.
and was witnessed by a gentleman, at Bloxworth, in Dorset-
shire. Only let a dog come near its nest, and see what the
weasel will do if it's got young ones. Out it will rush, and
fasten on the dog's nose in an instant, and there it will
hang, although it is such a little thing, not above seven or
eight inches long.
Nor is the weasel the only courageous creature of this
species, for when a

once gets hold of a hare, it's all over with him I can tell
you; it's no use the hare running off, for wherever he goes,-


there the stoat is hanging at his throat, and the hare seems
to know well enough it's all up with him, so hops off for a
few yards, and then gives it up for a bad job. There isn't
a bolder little beast of its size in England than the stoat.
If the prey it is pursuing takes -to the water, after him goes
the stoat, for it can swim like a water-rat; and if even it loses
sight of the game it is in pursuit of, it can still follow it by the
scent. What would you think of a great ugly fellow coming
into your house, some cold winter's morning, eating you up,
and then taking possession of it as if it was his own ? This is
the way the brute of a stoat sometimes serves the poor blind
mole; he walks into the house, without either making him a
bow, or saying, How do you do ?" eats up the poor mole for
breakfast, then creeps into its nest, and has a comfortable nap,
as if he 'd a right to it. I wonder how he would like a good
wire-haired terrier to serve him the same trick; and you may
depend upon it, were one only to catch him, he would; and,
although it would be very cruel, I couldn't feel much sorrow
for the stoat after all.
One amongst the many of our boyish haunts was the Old
SHall, a large, desolate building, which it was our delight to
ramble over. Through the centre, and under the middle of
the wings, spanned great gloomy archways; and dark ruined
staircases went winding up into turrets, and into huge
mouldering rooms, which, when we shouted, sent back strange
echoes that would have turned the cheek of a timid boy pale
only to have heard them. In and out were grim carved heads,
monsters whose living likeness never moved upon earth, with
eyes on each side of their mouths, and arms growing out of
their cheeks, all cut in grey bld granite, and looking terrible
when the shadows of evening settled down upon them, or the
moonlight streamed down in streaks of white, making lighter
the portions it fell upon, or steeping the shadows in
bicker hues. A desolate and silent awe hung about the place
D 45


when you entered it; it seemed like treading the dominions of
the dead. All around told of an age which had departed.
Above were banqueting rooms, and wide passages, and deep
bay-windows, which had been trod by many an armed baron in
the days of yore. Below were dungeons, dark and deep, and
cold and dismal; and as you walked over the floors above,
the echoing sound of your footsteps fell low and lonely and
melancholy, and made you feel sad and thoughtful without
knowing why. In some ruinous oriel, far beyond our reach,
the sun still glittered on remnants of painted glass, the head
of a saint, or a serpent; gaudy hues of gold, and purple, and
crimson, reflected for a moment on the dark oaken floor, or
the blackened and ruinous wall. And a thousand old tradi-
tions hung about the place, of maidens who have been shut up
and imprisoned in those dizzy turrets; of warriors who have
been chained to the walls of those damp dungeons, in which
rusty helmets, and coats of mail, and dead men's bones, have
been found; then there were subterraneous passages, such as
may be seen even in this day at Eltham Palace, entered by
secret doors, which went deep and dark under ground below the
moat, and into what once had been the ancient garden beyond.
And while wandering over this solemn and ruinous place,
many a scene rose before us which we had read of in the
history of our country, and many a form seemed to pass by
whose shadow darkens the annals of England; for, during the
wars of the Roses, it had stood a stormy siege, and every yard
of ground that stood about it, had been contested inch by inch.
The invader's trumpet had rung through those gloomy gate-
ways; archers had shot from the narrow loop-holesof those
turrets; crossbow-men had manned those battlements; the
drawbridge, which had crumbled into ruins ages ago, had been
S lowered from that sally-port; and across that moat had the
mailed ranks rushed, with sword and battle-axe, struggling foot
to foot, and hand to hand, until driven back again by the


invaders, when the sharp-toothed and grated portcullis dropped
amid the thunder of its grating and grinding chains. We
seemed, while wandering through those ruins, to be living
amongst the Plantagenets and the Tudors, when the business
of life was divided into battles and bloodshed, to hunting the
deer in the broad unbounded forests, the chanting of matin
and vesper, and the processions of solemn monks through the
long aisles of old cathedrals. Every hall, every chamber, and
every turret, had its legend; and in one of the latter tradition
had laid the scene of a tragical story, which had been handed
down from sire to son through many generations, and which
they believed to be as true as that the grey old turret itself
was still in existence. In that old hall John of Gaunt had
once resided; his armorial bearings are yet carven in a dozen
places. His daughter had been carried off by a young knight,
who lived in a neighboring castle, the foundations of which
alone are now visible. She was pursued and overtaken before
she had reached the stronghold of her lover, brought back by
her father, and by him imprisoned in the central turret. A
few hours after, the old castle was besieged by a troop of
horsemen: John of Gaunt and his followers were compelled to
flee, and leave the fortress in the hands of the invaders. Amid
the struggle the prisoner in the turret was forgotten. Days
passed away, and the conquerors, unconscious of her presence,
left her unknowingly to perish: nor was it until her father had
returned with a strong reinforcement, and again driven the
besiegers from his stronghold, that her fate became known.
You may readily imagine the effect that a visit to the top of
that tower had on us, imaginative boys. We used to wonder
to ourselves in which corner she was found dead; how her
father looked, and what he said, when he burst open the dooi
of the tower; whether there was nothing in the apartment by
which she might have clambered up to those loop-holes, and
made her wants known. These and a hundred similar
0 2 47


thoughts used to cross our mind whenever we visited that
spot. Although we made sad havoc of history, confusing dates
and periods, mingling all sorts of arms and architecture to
gether, making Crusaders of the Saxons, and putting the
Normans in battle against the Danes; still these very errors
were of use in after days, compelling us to look more narrowly
into the written annals of our country, and causing us to
become better acquainted with the events which really had
occurred amidst such scenes and ruins as these.
The very act of climbing up those dark, winding, and wan-
dering staircases, required no small courage; and no boy who
was in heart a coward would have dared to have hidden him-
self alone when we played at Hide-and-Seek" in that great
rambling and deserted building. Not that there is anything
to fear in such places-no more than there is in one's own
home, unless it is to slip through some hole; although
foolish old nurses will tell you all sorts of tales, about ghosts,
and spirits, and such-like nonsense, all of which are false
stories, and which you will laugh at as you grow older. True
enough we used to frighten one another sometimes, by con-
cealing ourselves, and making all kinds of awful noises; and
one night I remember two of us hiding in one of the turrets,
and seeing, amid the darkness, a pair of great eyes fixed upon
us; then there was a flapping of wings, a loud too-whoo, too-
whoo, tu-whit, tu-woo-woo," and out of the ruined window
sailed a great grey owl. Owls, and a few bats and jackdaws,
were the only ghosts we ever met with in that desolate man-
sion; and we dare say that if all the stories which are told
could be proved, such as these would be found to make up the
bulk of spirits which are said to "haunt the night," and would
turn out to be all fables and falsehoods.
Cuckoo! Cuckoo! That hath ever seemed to us the oldest
of all summer-sounds. Cuckoo-Cuckoo it still sings as it
alights upon the silver-stemmed birch, the colour of whose bark


matches the sober hue of the bird's plumage. Who, unless
they knew, would credit that such a little red mouth could
make itself heard for a full mile round? Strange things do
they tell of that noisy ash-coloured bird, with its black and
white tail, of laying its eggs in the nests of other birds, and
that even the young of


when hatched (a fearless usurper, like its parent, of all rights,
will throw out the naked brood amid which it has been nursed
One naturalist has recorded, from his own observation, that he
saw a cuckoo's egg in a hedge-sparrow's nest, and that in a
short time a young cuckoo and two sparrows were hatched.
which he saw in the nest together; that in the evening of the
same day the two young hedge-sparrows were excluded, and the
cuckoo the sole occupant of their house. This the cuckoo accom-
plishes by working itself to ihe very bottom- of the nest, until
feeling one of the young ones on its back, it then, by a sudden
jerk, throws out the callow brood upon the ground That the
cuckoo returns again, and feeds and rears its young, is thl


opinion of many, although we believe that it is left to the mercy
of the stranger-bird whose young it has destroyed. I well
remember once seeing a cuckoo attack the nests of several
swallows, in an old town in Lincolnshire. The song of a cuckoo
heard ringing in a market-place, could not fail of drawing the
attention of many of the inhabitants. It flew from nest to nest,
pursued by the whole congregation of swallows, who seemed
determined to wage war against this common enemy; and after
several fruitless attempts to deposit its egg in the nests of the
swallows, the cuckoo, pursued by the whole colony for some
distance, at length flew across the river, and was lost amid the
distant scenery. I have often wished that it had succeeded
in leaving its egg behind in any one of the swallows' nests, in
order that I might have had proof whether it returned to feed
and rear its young.
But see what a beautiful scene is this stretching beside the
village and beyond the river! What a picturesque appearance
has that row of stately elms which overhang the footpath along
the bank! What a noble sweep the river takes at the foot
of those hills, below which it curves its silver arm, then
dwindles away in the perspective, and is lost amid the wooded
distance! Here sheep bleat, and jingle their musical bells as
they crop the wild thyme from the bee-haunted hillocks, or
browse among the luxuriant clover in the neighboring pas-
tures. Knee-deep, the plump-sided oxen graze, or, chewing the
cud, lie half buried among the flowers of summer. The
heavy waggon with -its grey tilt, rumbles slowly along up the
steep acclivity, on whose summit stands the old mill, its rent
sails turning round with a lazy motion, as if half hesitating
whether it should stand still or move. Her6 and there we see
figures crossing the landscape, the angler with his wicker
basket borne on the butt end of the fishing-rod which rests upon
his shoulder, moving leisurely along the bank, or pausing
every now and then, as if selecting some favourite spot for the


morrow's sport. The woodman in his forest-stained dress,
followed by his faithful dog, and bearing the bundle of fagots
upon his back, which he will add to the great pile already
reared up beside his hut, and stored to meet the yet distant
winter. You hear the song of the milkmaid, and can just see
the white kit which she balances on her head, beside the
long hedgerow by which she is passing. The red cow which
she has left in the meadow stands lowing beside the gate; a
calm beauty hangs about the deep blue of the heavens, while
the earth is steeped in the golden splendour of an unclouded
sunshine. The breeze scarcely awakens a ripple upon the
river, more than is made by the swallow when she stoops
down and laves her breast as she flies. The willows beside the
bank bend with a gentle and dreamy motion, as if composing
their feathery heads to sleep; and the little ripples creep so
feebly upon the shore, that they scarcely rock the slender reeds
which skirt the lowest slope of the water-course. The whole
scene is broken into beautiful little pictures, every one of
which a good artist might transfer to canvass, and hang his
studio with a hundred morsels of landscape.
What a blessing it is to be born in a country like England,
where green hills tower, wild woods wave, and clear rivers
fow through hundreds of miles of sweet pastoral scenery-
where men dare give utterance to their thoughts, and no
one, unless he is mean enough to do so, need become the slave
of opinion-where oppression and wrong are dragged forth
into the light of day, and no matter how high may be the rank,
or great the wealth, of the offender, they cannot protect him
from public censure-where talent can take its proud stand
beside title, and the highest offices in the realm have been
obtained by men who had no renowned ancestry to boast of.
These things ought to make every English boy feel proud of
his country; not for its conquests abroad, but the crest moral
changes which have been wrought by the lovers ol peace, who


have done their duty at home. It is my task to draw
your attention to peaceful England, to its rural homesteads
and green secluded places, not to what are misnamed its glorious
victories and splendid conquests; for, however stirring may be
the accounts of the many great -battles we have won, you must
ever bear in mind that such painful triumphs were purchased
by leaving many a poor child fatherless, and many a fond
mother a widow; that the sound of the trumpet, the neighing
of the war-horse, and the thundering roll of artillery, were ac-
companied with the groans and heart-rending shrieks of dying
men-some left all night to bleed to death on. the battle-field,
others speechless and perishing for want of water, and writhing
in agony, crushed by wheels and the hoofs of horses, which,
during the retreat or pursuit, had passed over them. Such
are the miseries by which great victories are won. Remember,
that to cultivate the arts of peace, to instruct and enlighten
and better the morals and circumstances of your fellow-men, is
to win the admiration of the truly good; that war, even in just
cause, is a dreadful scourge and a fearful evil; and he who en-
deavours to unite nation to nation in a common brotherhood,
will be able to look death in the face more boldly than the
bravest warrior that ever shed human blood. A courageous
heart never covets a quarrel, but is ever ready when danger
appears; a brave man would die in the defence of his children,
in protecting his own home; and he would also sooner die than
destroy the home of another who had done him no injury.
War would soon cease, if those who love it were left to fight
it out amongst themselves.
See where that volume of smoke rises above the faded gold
of the furze-bushes, twisting and coiling its spiral column of
intense blue through the wide-spreading and forked branches
of the ancient oak, like a cloud that has lost its way, and is
struggling to regain its place again in the floating marble of
heaven. Saw ye that little ragged boy, whose face is the


"colour of a ripe hazel-nut, peep out from beneath the under-
wood ? Depend upon it we are nearing the neighbourhood of

"' ....S ^ ^ -- ...- ,


and it was the smoke of their camp-fire which we saw in the
distance, blending so beautifully with the foliage of the old oak
It seems to have been washing-day with them. I wonder what
a London laundress would think of the colour of their linen!
and yet where in the world could we find a sweeter drying-
ground than the corner of this wide wood ? or wish for better
air than blows across the broad and open common ? Into what
a number of little pictures the foreground of the forest is
Broken !-children playing at Hide-and-seek" among the fan-
like leaves of the fern, and behind the prickly gorze-bushes-
donkeys turned loose, and grazing here and there, free to choose
their pasturage wherever they please-masses of yellow and
-white drapery hung out to dry, and fluttering from every bush
around the encampment-here a dog half asleep, and there a
sun-burnt gipsy, leaning on his elbow and side, and while he


smokes his pipe, watching the old woman in the red cloak, who
is attending to the contents which simmer in the large iron pot
suspended from three stakes above the fragrant wood-fire. Even
the grey blankets which form the arched roofs of their low tents,
stand out in rich contrast beside the wide under-wood and the
deep background of trees; beyond which the eye falls upon
interminable vistas of forest scenery. There is scarcely a lin-
net's nest in that wide range of furze and fern undiscovered by
those ragged gipsy boys ; and whenever they have heard the
ring-dove coo in the wood, they have set out and looked up
almost every tall tree, to see if they could not descry the two
white eggs shining through the lattice-like floor of its open
nest; and when once they saw a bird, if there was no stone at
hand, they would throw up the first heavy clod or dry stick
they came near, with so sure an aim, that unless the feathered
chorister took to its wings, it was almost certain of being
brought to the ground. A wild, lawless, and merry life do
these gipsies lead; sheltering, wherever they can, in the towns
in winter, and in summer time establishing their residence by
the side of a wood, at the corner of a common, or in the pic-
turesque nook of some desolate heath,-taking care, however,
never to be beyond the sound of the cock-crow of some neigh-
bouring village. Many a silly country maiden parts with her
hard-earned shilling that she may have her fortune told by the
swarthy and keen-eyed gipsy, who slyly pockets the money and
afterwards laughs at her folly, trying hard at the same time to
beg the very gown off the country girl's back. They would
promise that either you or I should one day inherit an estate
worth ten thousand a-year, were we only to give them sixpence,
and allow them to examine the lines on the palm of the hand;
and when they returned to their camp, they would show the
silver coin, and exclaim, Fools and their money are soon
parted." And yet there are many so foolish as to believe that
the gipsies can tell their fortunes, and well do they deserve


to lose their money and be laughed at for being such sim
Although, as I have before said, spring is the season when
birds build, and when we shall have so much to say about
their nests; yet I am sure you will be pleased with what
I shall tell you about the Bottle-tit, or, as we used to call
it, the Pudding-poke, a name no doubt derived from the pecu
liar form of its nest. What think you to its laying from twelve
to twenty eggs, each of which is not larger than a horse-bean ?
I remember myself taking a nest in Park-house Lane, near
Gainsborough, which contained fifteen beautiful white and spot
ted eggs; a number that, if weighed, would be nearly twice the
weight of the bird. You would be delighted to watch a regiment
of these little fellows marching up a tree, they seem to be play
ing the game'of Follow my Leader;" and there is no harm
in believing that birds have their games as well as boys. Away
goes one little tit up a branch, followed by a whole string of
tits, and as he runs along, he keeps crying, Twit, twit, twit!"
and I have no doubt he means to say, "Now, my little bottle-
tits, come along, don't be frightened, if you slip you have only
to open your wings and you are safe; a little higher, my
dears, up under that broad roof of leaves, right over this nice
soft moss. Oh la! it is rather too dark here, and the leaves
are so close together that I cannot see the sunshine through
them; a little higher, my dears."-" Twit, twit," they answer
"-"A little exercise will do us no harm this fine morning
Isn't this a nice spot? but, oh dear! there are so many of
you behind that I must keep moving to make room for you,
and really I think it's more pleasant at the top than it is
here; we shall have such a beautiful prospect on the topmost
branches, and there will be plenty of room for us there you
know; and then I can look round upon you, and pay my
respects to you all." "Twit, twit," say they; and up they go
to the very summit, amongst the sunshine and the glittering


leaves; and when they are too warm, they come hopping down
again, and then as if they did not know their own minds for a
minute together, away they start, with a twit, twit, twit," for
the top again; and so they play with one another all day long.
And this little bird builds such a curious nest-supposing
you doubled both your hands, and placed them one above
another, and could make them perfectly round, well, that would
be about the shape and size of a nest; and if you opened one
finger to make a hole at the side, that would be like the place
in which the pudding-poke enters its nest. But I cannot
make you understand how beautifully and curiously it is woven
together; first it takes a soft green moss, then speckles it
outside with that rich flaky stuff which you see on the stems
of trees or old railings, and which are called lichen, or
livewort, though boys would call it rough white moss; then it
takes the egg-nests of spiders, and these are drawn out and
imbedded amongst the wool, looking, when you stretch the
nest, like ropy-bread in hot weather. Well, when all this is
done, she covers it over at the top to keep out the wet, and
uses such moss as comes nearest in colour to the branches
amid which it is built: then comes a beautiful lining of
soft small feathers, which, if taken out and spread upon a
table, would astonish you; you would scarcely credit that so
large a quantity could be compressed into so small a compass.
If as many young ones are hatched as there are eggs, I cannot
tell how the old birds can get to feed them; one would fancy
that they must lie one on the top of the other, like a swarm of
bees when they alight; and that in hot weather, and in so
warm a retreat, there must, we imagine, be many deaths in
so large a family from suffocation alone. I forgot to tell you
that this is one of the least of British birds, the golden-crested
wren being the only one known that is smaller. Oh how little
do we know of the habits and customs of the birds and animals
which we are accustomed to see almost every day-how little of


His wisdom who suffereth not a sparrow to fall to the ground
unheeded! The dispensations of an all-wise Providence are
as yet a mystery to man. Naturalists may study and write,
and the more they learn, the more they find to marvel at: the
paths of knowledge seem to lead only nearer unto God, and
the clearer our understanding, the greater is our astonishment
at the wonders wrought by His own Almighty Hand.
But our ramble round the wood, and from the gipsy-camp,
has again brought us beside the river, though at a point which
we have not before visited. The corner of that shelving bank,
which partly fronts the wooden bridge, and overhangs the
mouth of the deep water-course, by which the wide marshes
are drained, was for several years haunted by a large

I .


Many a time, concealed behind the rushes, have I watched
its motions in the water, as it swam about on the surface,
or dived beneath in pursuit of fish. Beautiful were its actions,
stemming the current, or gliding down with the stream-for
of all swimmers, its attitude is perhaps the most elegant. It
was wonderful to watch how suddenly it would leave off its


play, disappear under the water in an instant the moment it
saw a fish gliding beneath, and rise again, after it had caught
it, at a considerable distance from the spot where it first dived.
Beautiful must its motions have.been beneath the water, could
we but have seen it shooting to and fro, up and down, in every
direction : now against the current, then off like an arrow with
the stream, just as the fish darted about and endeavoured in
vain to escape. Then to watch it bearing its prey to the
shore, and holding the fish in its paws, when it would begin at
the head, and eat its way downward, until only the tail of the
fish was left. Many a chase had we after him, with our dogs;
and fine sport it was when he took to the water, and baffled
his pursuers by diving; sometimes keeping under until their
patience was exhausted, or rising unawares, at the most un
expected spot, to breathe ; and more than one unfortunate dog
has he dragged with him under the water, and would speedily
have drowned it, had not the alarmed brute loosed his hold
while under, and swam, half breathless, to the shore. It is
stated that the otter will sometimes drive a whole shoal of fish
before it, circling round them as he swims, until, finding that
they cannot escape, they will throw themselves out of the
water upon the shore. The form of the otter is well adapted
for swimming, with its long flattened body and broad tail, by
which it steers itself as with a rudder, while its legs are short,
and capable of being turned every way; and in addition to all
these admirable qualifications for swimming, it is also web-
footed. Its head is broad and flat; its upper lip thick, with
the eyes placed very near the nostrils; its colour is a dim
whitish grey varying into brownish tints underneath. There
are numerous instances on record of this animal having been
tamed, and taught to catch and bring home fish. What boy
would not like to have a tame otter, which he might teach to
fetch and carry the same as a dog does ? What an agreeable
companion one would be to ramble with by a river side; to


see him plunge in head foremost every now and then, and
bring out a large fish between his teeth, lay it at your feet,
and start off again until he had provided enough for a family
dinner? Would it not be a treat, when rambling some fine
morning between the slope of the river and the shelving bank,
to discover an otter's nest, with three or four young ones lying
snugly among the grass and reeds in some hole, or under the
hollow roots of a tree; to bring them home,, and feed them at
first with small fish, then by degrees diet them on bread and
milk; and oh, what a proud day it would be when they had
grown big enough, to give them names, and to see each one
come as it was called; to take them out for a run on the river
bank; to see them rush into the water head over ears, one
after the other, and each to return with a fine fish in its teeth ?
This would be something to talk about; and what boy would
not be proud to become the possessor of a little pack of
otters ?
But lest I should weary you with too many descriptions of
birds and animals, and trees and flowers, and other country
scenes, I will tell you about a poor boy whom I knew; and
who having lost his parents, set about providing for him-
self, and by his own exertions obtained a livelihood. After
his father and mother died, he got a situation under a fish-
monger, where he was employed to carry home the fish pur-
chased by customers. But this was only for a short time,
until the boy whom he had succeeded recovered from illness.
He had, however, given such satisfaction to his employer by
his industry and attention, that the fishmonger lent him a
basket, and allowing him a profit of a penny or two on each
pair of soles, or whatever fish he might sell, thus gave him a
chance of doing the best he could for himself. By great care
and perseverance he soon became master of a few shillings, and
now began to speculate, buying at times a whole fish of his
employer, and running the risk of selling it. And now you


might see him sometimes set off in a morning with a whole
cod-fish or a whole salmon in his basket, together with his
large knife and scales, and as ready to cut six ounces as six
pounds, to accommodate his customers; and thus he would
come and go several times in a day, sometimes getting rid of
two or three large fish. By degrees, his customers began to
tell him overnight what they should like for the next day; and,
as he found his old master occasionally supplying him with
very indifferent fish, he began to think whether he could not
find a better market, and so deal at the first hand. This he
named to several of his friends, and at last it reached the ears
of a captain belonging to one of the steamers, who told him
that he would give him a run and back to Hull for nothing
when he liked; and that, when there, he might purchase
at the best market; and more than this, he lent little Bob a
sovereign. Poor lad! said he, he never ate a crust but
what he earned since his parents died, arid he ought to be
encouraged." The next day saw Bob a regular fishmonger.
One neighbour lent him an old white deal table, to place his
stock upon; another, a wash-tub, in which to keep his clean
water: and there, at the end of the court in which he was
born, in. the wide open street, along which scores of passengers
passed every hour, did Bob open his new establishment. A
proud day was it for him, I can tell you! Oh! you should
have seen him with his little blue apron on, and his cold red
hands, wielding his long sharp knife, and scraping some fresh
silver-looking fish with the edge of it, or wiping another down
gently with his clean cloth, as he pointed out to his customers
the freshness of this, the plumpness of that, the bright eyes of
a third, the red gills of a fourth ; then adding with pride, I
bought them out of the fishing-boats myself, just as they came
in, an hour or two after they'd been 'caught!" Before night
he sold every fish. Not an ounce was left; and his customers
declared that what they had purchased was much fresher and


sweeter than they had ever had of his old master. After a
few more trips to Hull, he attracted the attention of a fisherman
whom he had several times dealt with, and who, having a
large family of his own, said, Thee beest but a little 'un to
begin for theysen ; and, between thee and me and the captain,
I think I might manage to look thee out a little lot every
morning, and send them down by the first steam-boat, so that
thou'd have 'em fresh and flice; and soe save thee all this
hallacksing and trapassing up and down, which I see no
mander o' use in; and it would do thee a deal o' good, lad,
and me no harm. Captain would be good enough to bring
the money back; "-and so it was arranged; and every morn-
ing, regularly as the day came, there was little Bob to be seen
on the steam-packet wharf, with the truck he had borrowed,
.and plenty of good-natured sailors ready to help him ashore
with his hamper of fish; for he was such a little one, and had
neither father nor mother, that almost anybody would assist
him without being asked. And now the deal white table was
found too little, and he had to borrow another. Then a butcher,
Swho had given up standing in the market, said; "He had got
an old stall he could sell him cheap;-true, one of the tressels
wanted a leg, and the front pole was missing; but old Hack,
the joiner, would put that to rights for a shilling; and the
price of the stall would be-why-some morning when he
happened to have in a stock offish, he might send him a
boiling' for dinner." So Bob agreed, and the captain of the
steamer had an old sail, which he said was about worn out;-
true, there was a hole or two in it, but he might give old
Betty Buttery a bit of fish to set a patch or two on, and it
would make a capital tilt for his stall, to keep the sun off his
fish." And so Bob got on, bit by bit, step by step, from a stall
to a shop; from bowling a truck, to keeping a cart, a horse,
and 'a man, until at last he became the first fishmonger in the
town, and had to supply his old master at the wholesale prices
E 61

k .


This shows what may be done by industry, perseverance, and
honesty; for an idle boy would never have striven for a liveli-
hood like little Bob the Fishmonger
I will now tell you about a strange bird, called


or Dabchick, for I wish to make you acquainted with many
things that you could not comprehend, were you only to read
dry hard books on Natural History, such as are filled with
learned phrases, that only men who have dedicated a whole
life to the study of can clearly understand. The nest of this
curious bird has long been a subject of dispute amongst natu-
ralists; many of whom, I strongly suspect, never saw it. But
first I must describe the wild spot where the Grebe was in the
habit of building,-a spot which will interest vou all the more


through knowing that it formed a subject of dispute between
Hotspur and Glendower, in the. first part of Shakspere's King
Henry the Fourth," act iii. scene 1. You must know then that
in Shakspere's time the river Trent, which divides the counties
of Nottingham and Lincoln, made a large circle of four or five
miles, which Shakspere calls 'a huge half-moon," though it is
not so, but bears a greater resemblance to a ring with a small
piece out, and that small piece, which we will suppose to be
the sixteenth part, was all the actual progress made either up
or down; after having traversed the immense circle of the ring.
Well, this large circular portion of the river, which was navi-
gable in Shakspere's time, has been dry for the last half
century, saving where here and there, in the deepest portions
of the bed, pools of water still remain. Fancy yourself walking
in the bed of a deep river-in a place where, for hundreds and
hundreds of years, as far back, no doubt, as the times of the
ancient Britons, who there had paddled their wicker boats,
along which Dane and Saxon had in succession sailed-
fancy what emotions it must have awakened in the mind of an
imaginative boy, to have seen the great high banks upheaving
on either hand, and to know .that he was walking in that great
dry channel, where, during the unnumbered years that it was
a wide deep rolling river, hundreds had, no doubt, been
drowned; to think that ships had sailed over your head; had,
perhaps, sunk, and were buried many fathoms deep in the
mud beneath your feet; that you walked over the skeletons of
fishes, and the buried antiquities of the earliest inhabitants
who first navigated this broad English river. A solitary ruined
chapel was the only ancient structure which stood upon those
waterless banks, and that was in ruins; Time had obliterated
every record on those old monuments, and the grey rank grass
had grown so tall, that it had fallen down for want of strength
to support such. an unnatural height. While walking there
you might fancy that you were wandering through a silent
sE2 23



world, every trace of whose inhabitants had been swept away,
blotted out, and destroyed, like the bright arrowy waters which
once shot their rippled silver through the winding expanse of
those high piled banks; and now, where the huge sturgeon
once swam, and the black-backed porpoise played, where the
moon-lit scales of the salmon glittered, and the enormous pike
darted upon its prey,-there the bittern boomed, and the tufted
plover complained, and the large marsh-frog croaked through
the deepening twilight,-rushes and reeds, and sword-leaved
waterflags, sharp on the edge as a scimitar, overhung with
willows and alders, shot up from under every knoll above the
deep water-pools, and shadowed every little islet round which the
mysterious current coiled, and rolled, above dark unexplored
depths, from whose waters the boldest of us shrank back in
terror, for into those deep holes we believed the vast mass of
the old river-waters had settled, and that they went downward
and downward for evermore
And here. it was that the wild grebe built its nest, among
reeds and flags and aquatic plants, from which she selected the
material for her home, and which were scarcely distinguishable
from the wild withered sedge that waved around. The nest was
of itself a load almost as much as a boy could well carry, and
generally at least a foot thick at the bottom; the strong reeds
and rushes which grew around were also bent and woven into it,
although the roots were still firm in the ground, so that it was
at times impossible to remove the nest without cutting away the
growing flags to which it was attached. At first we were strangely
puzzled by one day discovering eggs in the nest, and the next
day finding it to all appearance empty. For some time we were
deceived, until one day, thrusting our hand into a nest, into
which it was difficult to peep, we found the eggs, beneath a thin
covering of dry reeds,-whether the bird had done this to con-
ceal them during her absence, or to keep up that warmth which
is necessary for hatching the eggs, we must leave to the learned


naturalist to decide. Strange stories are told of this Lird
sailing away in her nest, and navigating it like a ship, which
I cannot for a moment believe; that the nest might be
washed away during a heavy rain is likely enough, although,
secured as I have seen it by the rushes which grow around,
I am more inclined to believe that it would remain submerged
in the water. As to its thrusting its feet through, and so pad-
dling along with its nest, the immense size of its foot will
prove that it could never force a hole through a substance a
foot thick. The eared grebe is a singular-looking bird; the
bill is black, as also are the head and neck; while a few long
yellow feathers extend backwards from the sides of the head;
it lays from four to five white eggs, and commonly breeds in
the bed of the old river which we have 'attempted to describe.
When alarmed, it will dive under the water, and remain there
a long time, with only its bill visible. The water-rat is said to
be a great destroyed of its eggs; but those who say so know
nothing about the matter, for, as I have told you before, the
water-rat lives entirely upon vegetables; whilst diving, how-
ever, the bird sometimes falls a prey to the voracious pike.
Hitherto I have told you nothing about the wonderful
habits of insects ; and were I to communicate to you one quar-
ter of the marvels I have read about, and what I have wit-
nessed during my rambles in the country, I should more than
fill my Book of the Seasons with this subject alone. I should
not, however, consider that I had done my duty in this work
unless I gave you some account of the Caterpillars; and I
shall begin with those who, almost as soon as they are hatched,
roll up a leaf, and make their abode within its folds. You
have, no doubt, often when walking ;n the garden observed
the leaves of the lilac fold together; if you have noticed it at
all, you have probably thought that this was caused by the heat,
or that the leaf was withering, and about to fall off. Upon
a closer observation, however, you will have discovered that


this was not the case, but that the leaf was beautifully rolled
back, fold upon fold, as you would roll a sheet of paper; and
that to prevent the leaf from springing back to its natural
level position, the little architect has prevented it from un-
coiling, by fixing a number of silken threads across the leaf
From this little insect springs a very pretty brown-coloured
moth. There is another species which takes up its abode in
the leaves of the rose-tree or currant-bush : this you will see in
every garden; it is known by its dark head and six feet. As if it
knew its own weakness, and the strength which summer gives
to the sap, and foresaw to what a size the leaves would grow,-
it commences its labour in the spring, and begins by rolling
up the whole bud in which it is hidden; and then as the
summer advances, it has nothing to do but to devour its way
from leaf to leaf, until it illustrates a homely proverb, by
fairly eating itself out of house and harbour." Others, again,
such as frequent willows, and almost every kind of osier, fold
the leaves up into a beautiful bundle, which they bind to
gether. Were you to cut the leaves across with a sharp
instrument, you would be delighted to see the graceful form
into which they are folded. Another class take up their abode
in old walls, their food being the moss and lichen which grow
thereon; these, enclosed in a box with moss, construct for
themselves a beautiful nest; and there is an old wall; sur-
rounding a manor-house at Beckenham, near London, in
which numbers of these caterpillars have taken up their abode.
There is another kind of caterpillar, which feeds upon the
wood of trees, and makes itself a house by eating away the
inside of it. This in time turns to the goat-moth, although it
is three years in arriving to a perfect state. The only method
of becoming acquainted with the manners of these interesting
insects is to keep them confined in little boxes with glass
doors, and feed them with whatever we first find them upon.
if it can be procured. A celebrated naturalist found a red


caterpillar, with a few tufts of hairs on it, feeding on the
flowers of the nettle; he placed it in a paper box, and in a
few days discovered that it was beginning to prepare its
cocoon, which it formed by gnawing pieces of paper from the
lid of the box, although it neither lacked the leaves or stalks
of nettles amid which it was found. The watchful naturalist,
thinking that it might soon eat its way out, and so escape,
began to fasten pieces of rumpled paper to the lid of the box
by means of a pin, and these the insect soon began to chop up
into such pieces ds it needed for the completion of its struc-
ture. Four weeks after a beautiful dark-coloured moth,
mottled with white, made its appearance. Surely to watch
such interesting operations as these would be more pleasing to
any boy than to destroy the insects.
S There is another curious race of insects well known to
fishermen, which build their habitations under the water,
and which they form of stones, shells, sand, or wood, all
strongly cemented together : others select portions of reed,
or hollow straws, leaving a long piece to project over the
head; so that, when resting at the bottom of the stream,
it looks like a piece of sunken and broken reed; nor would
you, unless you knew, suppose for a moment that it was
the habitation of an insect. But the most skilful of all the
caddis-worms, which build under water, is the one which
makes itself a hollow tube out of small stones, composed of
such angles as would frighten any human architect; nor would
a man attempt to form anything like an arch out of such
irregular materials, unless they were first cut and hewed into
a proper form. Yet all this is managed by the little insect,
selecting such stones as fit into each other, contriving also to
leave the lower part smooth and even, so that it may drag its
house along with greater ease when moving at the bottom of
the stream ; .either will water dissolve the cement used by
these curious insects; nor must I omit stating that that por-


tion of the body which projects from the doorway of the cell is
hard and firm, while the portion that remains within is soft.
Thus you see that even they are adapted for their state, and
armed against trifling accidents; and throughout all nature
we shall find this to be the case-no matter how insignificant
an insect may appear, it is so constructed as to be able to pro-
vide itself with food and shelter; and we cannot remove the
decayed bark from a tree, the moss from a wall, or even a
coiled-up leaf, without discovering, after a minute survey, that
each of these is the home of some living object.
The same wisdom," says Bonnet, in his Cdntemplation
of Nature," which has constructed and arranged with so much
art the various organs of animals, and has made them'concur
towards one determined end, has also provided that the dif-
ferent operations, which are the natural results of the economy
of the animal, should concur towards the same end. The crea-
ture is directed towards his object by an invisible hand ; he
executes with precision, and by one effort, those works which
we so much admire; he appears to act as if he reasoned, to
return to his labour at the proper time, to change his scheme
in case of need. But in all this he only obeys the secret
influence which drives him on. He is but an instrument
which cannot judge of each action, but is wound up by that
adorable Intelligence which has traced out for every insect its
proper labours, as He has traced the orbit of each planet.
When, therefore, I see an insect working at the construction
of a nest or a cocoon, I am impressed with respect, because it
seems to me that I am at a spectacle where the Supreme
Artist is hid behind the curtain."
"For the whole earth is every way
Bound by gold chains about the feet of God."
This little hillock of earth, covered with wild thyme,
amongst which the summer-bees are now murmuring, was
thrown up by the


. - .


or Mouldi-warp, as it is called by the country people; and
if we had a spade, I would lay bare its little habitation, and
show you such a wonderful encampment as you have rarely
witnessed,-chambers, and galleries, and long winding pass-
ages which lead in all directions; and when opened, look
not unlike the old puzzle which is called the plan of Troy.
The earth, as you may tell by placing your foot upon it,
is very strong and solid, for it has been well pressed and well
beaten by the mole while making it. At the bottom of this
hillock there is a gallery almost as round as a ring, and there
is a smaller one also above it, of the same form; and to get
from one gallery to the other it has made itself five passages,
which go upward. Isn't that something like a house, think you,
with five staircases, which lead to the upper story; but this is
not half that I have got to tell you; it has also a chamber lower
down than the lowest gallery which I have described, and you
must know there is also'another hole at the bottom of the
chamber, which, after running down for a few inches, rises
up again, and opens into a passage, or high-road, if we may so
call it, of the encampment But when in this passage, it can



turn back again, and enter the circular gallery at the bottom,
which I have before described,,and take its choice of any of
the nine streets which branch out from this lower passage.
What a place would this be to play at Hide-and-Seek" in, if
it were but big enough; and as- it so very curious, I must
present you with a picture of it And here you have an
engraving of the nest, or

Is it not wonderful? You little thought, while looking
upon this uninteresting hillock of earth, that it covered in
such a marvellous building as this. You might wonder for
what purpose it wanted such a number of roads and galleries,
looking so many different ways; but when I tell you that this
is its chase, or forest, or hunting-ground, and that it ranges
here and there, up this passage, and down that, searching for
earth-worms and insects, you will see at once the use of these
numerous avenues, and the chance it has of obtaining larger
quantities of food through having such extensive groufids to
range in. But there is a larger run, which naturalists call
the high-road, and along this he passes many times in the
course of the day, to visit his several hunting-grounds, which
branch out every way; and I can tell you necessity ca Lses the


moles to be very polite to each other, for only one at a time can
pass along this common high-road which seems to belong to
the whole community of moles; so that, if two chance to
meet, one is compelled to retire into one of the side-passages
until the other passes ; and sometimes this causes-a fight, and
then of course the weakest goes to the wall. But although
they thus quarrel about the possession of the road, each seems
to pay great respect to his neighbour's enclosure, one never
taking possession of the hunting-ground another has made
It is in this common highway where the mole-catchers place
the traps, as they know he has to pass it many times in the
course of the day, to see what game there is in his preserve.
You must not always expect to find its nest under a mole-hill,
for it is oftener placed at the end of three or four passages, at
some distance from the encampment; when, if you are fortu
nate enough to light upon the right spot, you may sometimes
dig out four or five young ones in summer. It is a thirsty
animal, requiring much drink; and the high-road, which I
have so often mentioned, as being used by the whole commu
nity of moles, is sure to lead to a common run, which opens
out near some ditch or pond; but when water is far distant,
they will sink a well of their own, and dig downward and
downward until they come to water. In pursuing a worm,
it will sometimes follow it to the surface of the earth, devour
it, and return back again into its burrow. It always looks
fat, and has a sharp tapering nose, well adapted for turning
up the earth: its eyes are very small, and I should think of
but very little use in so dark a habitation. The fur is soft
as silk, and bright as velvet; its colour is a deep black,
although by shining the hair in the direction in which it lies,
it has a greyish appearance : its feet are furnished with sharp
nails, with which it scoops and digs away the earth, throwing
theloosened dirt behind as it progresses with its work, and which
it afterwards carries up and forms into those hillocks which

we so commonly see. In winter, when the earth is frozen
hard,'and its hunting-ground is cold and useless, and produces
no food, it will dig a deep hole straight down, in order to
reach the worms that have taken shelter there from the cold.
It is also a good swimmer, and cares no more about crossing
a brook than a water-rat. You little dreamed that such a
curious animal and such a wonderful structure were to be
found under this little hillock, which to look upon, saving for the
few wild flowers which cover it, appears an object of no interest.
And so shall we often find it in our walks through the world;
we kick aside a hollow stone, without thinking of the years that
it must have taken, and the countless millions of fallen drops
of water, to have worn away that cavity, while others that are
worn into all kinds of fantastic shapes, must have been tossing
about in the ocean and on the earth for unnumbered ages.
Oh, what a treat it is now to throw off one's coat and jacket,
and lie down-in the shade under some greattree, that stretches
its broad branches far across the greensward! while it is so
hot that I wonder how the little birds can hop up and down
the big branches at all, or open their beaks to raise even a
chirrup, covered as they are all over with warm feathers
SWhat a luxury an icicle would
be now if we could but get one;
everything looks hot here, %
saving those large white ,i




which seem sleeping amongst their broad dark leaves, on the
clear waters of the moorland mere. Saw ye ever a more
majestic flower? What a pure pearly white, showing the
more clearly through being contrasted with the deep golden
centre of the cup, and the rich green of the rounded leaves
on which they seem to sleep. What grace there is in their
motion, as they rise and fall with every ripple that ridges
the broad surface of the mere how cool and clear they are !
And so they remain all night, closing, and half sinking down
into the water, and sometimes scarcely leaving a leaf visible
aoove the surface until sunrise the next morning, when they
again open and lean upon their green silky beds, as they
do now-the loveliest ladies of the lake: for mere" is but the
old Saxon name for a large pool or lake.
Pleasant is it to see a wild honeysuckle, hanging in
long trails of crimson and white, along the wood-sides by which
we pass; drooping above the red and white foxgloves with
their beautifully speckled bells, which we used to gather and
stick upon the tips of our fingers, calling them gloves: to see
the glaring yellow charlock spreading everywhere over acres
and acres of ground, with scarcely a patch of green between;
recalling those fanciful gardens of the fairies which were covered
every way with flowers of gold : to inhale the perfume of the
meadow-sweet, which approaches nearer the smell of the fra
grant heliotrope than the costliest garden flower that ever was
cultivated: to see the banks glowing with the rich tints of the
mallow--a half rose-like flush: and, above all, to wander by the
side of reedy ponds, where the tall yellow flowers of the water-
flags give such a sunny and summer look unto the sedgy
scenery. Mingling with, and almost overpowering every other
fragrance, comes the drowsy odour from the bean-fields,-the
sweetest, saving that from the new-mown hay, of all summer
smells. These were the pleasures that made our rural ram-
bles so delightful; things which we dwell upon even now


with a sweet remembrance,-giving such a freshness to
memory, and such a life-like reality to all we can recall, of the
pleasant visions of our boyish days.
But I have got a laughable story to tell you about two
old men, which you will find a good moral in; for it is a great
shame, and very wicked, to pick sport out of the infirmities
of mankind, even if we do no injury to any one. I. well
remember a waggish youth who would have fun, whatever
it might cost him, and never seemed so happy as when
he was about some work of mischief; and when he could
amuse himself no other way, he would begin playing tricks
with his deaf uncle. There was an old neighbour, who lived
opposite, quite as dull of hearing as his uncle was, for neither
the one nor the other could hear himself speak and it was
the delight of this scapegrace of a nephew to set these two deaf
old men together by the ears; and as neither of them could
hear what the other said, you may readily imagine what a droll
scene an explanation must have been between them. Like the
king in Hamlet," this graceless young scamp first poured his
poison into the ear of one, then into the ear of the other;
and he would begin by bawling out Uncle !" into the drum
of the ear of. his deaf relative, who would lower his trumpet,
and drink in every word of slander which this young mischief-
maker uttered. "Uncle, old Billy Barton says you get drunk
every night-that you run up a score everywhere, when any
one will trust you-and that you owe money to every publican
in Lincoln-and have never paid him the last half-guinea he
lent you, uncle-and he stops everybody he meets to tell them
of it! "
"He's an old rascal-and doesn't speak the truth-and
Ill have an action against him-that I will-if it costs me
every shilling.I'm worth. I've never been intoxicated since
the last election; and as to money, I never borrowed a farthing
of him in my life, or of anybody living-and I'll go tell him


so to his face, that I will-the bad lying old rogue!" and he
would take up his'stout oaken walking-staff, and sally out to
put his threat into execution, muttering to himself fifty old
rogues and a hundred old rascals; and stamping his walking-
staff savagely upon the ground every stride he took, until he
worried himself into a regular towering passion, which was
quite "nuts" to the rogue of a nephew; for the young scamp
had been beforehand to old Billy Barton, cramming him with
a parcel of lies, and telling him what his uncle had said
about him.
"1Mr. Barton!" he would holla into his ear, while old
Billy was taking his walk at the other end of the town, "my
uncle says you undid his stye-door last night, and let his pigs
out-somebody saw you-and they've eaten up all the peas
and young cabbage, and rooted up the flower-beds, and done
five.pounds' worth of damage-and he's gone to get a warrant
out against you-and I thought I would tell you. that you
might make it up with him without going to law."
You may easily fancy how old Billy raved and stormed
after such a charge as this, for, deaf as he was, he could make
himself heard; and how he set off at once to repel the accu-
sation and defend himself-not having time, in the heat of his
passion, to inquire who this "somebody" was, that had seen
him, and brought the charge against him.
Meantime the young scamp used to run and assemble his
companions in the street, to witness, as he would say, such a
row between his uncle and old Barton;" and the nephew
so managed matters, and measured his distance, that the two
old men were almost sure to meet in the greatest thoroughfare
in Lincoln. At it they would go as fast as ever their tongues
could rattle, blowing'one another up beautifully--foaming,
and raving, and stamping their sticks upon the ground, and
clenching their fists in each other's faces-and neither of them
hearing a. word which the other said-but from the earnest


manner, and vehemence of action, each believing the other was
maintaining the accusation which the mischief-making young
dog had first founded. You say I get drunk every night,"
the deaf old uncle would exclaim, stamping his stick as he
spoke. "You say I turned your pigs out of the stye last
night!" old Barton would exclaim, shaking his cane at him.
"Shew me the man I ever owed a shilling to in my life !"
roared out the one. "I never did anybody an injury since I
was born !" bellowed the other. I'll have an action against
you for damagingmy character," shouted the uncle, loud enough
to be heard halfway down the street, so loud, indeed, that the
word damage struck the dull drum of deaf Billy's ear, and he
echoed between his teeth-" Damages, you old rogue, you
let 'em out yourself-you know you did-on purpose to injure
my character, because I voted against you at the last election-
you rabid old tory, you!" "I've got as many half-guineas as
you," hollaed out the old uncle; and have no need to borrow
of anybody, thank God! you vile, bad, wicked, slandering, thief
looking, unhing, old rascal! I shall see. you some morning
whipped at a cart's tail! Oh! I wish the good old pillories
still stood; I would buy a hamper of rotten eggs to pelt you
with, that I would!" and he would bring his huge stick within
a foot of poor harmless deaf Billy's face; then they would
begin to collar one another, and no doubt there would soon
have been battle royal" between them, had not some peace-
loving neighbour interfered, and, although he failed in recon-
ciling them, patched up for the time a temporary cessation of
So matters progressed, till the frequency of their quarrels
caused some mutual friend to interfere, and inquire into the
cause; *wen, to the astonishment and amusement of them
both, "my nephew" was found out; and heartily did they laugh
as the explanation was in turns hammered into their ears ; and
a dozen times did the merry old men rise and shake hands;


then sit down again to laugh; for the friend who reconciled
them had concocted a scene of excellent mischief and retalia
tion, which they had agreed to put into operation; and the
thought of it so tickled their old fancies with delight, that
they roared again louder than they even did when abusing each
other. Nay, we verily believe, that from the bottom of their
hearts, they were glad that they'd had so many quarrels
without any cause, merely for the sake of the "making it
up," as they called it, in the presence of their common enemy.
Nor was it long before an opportunity presented itself; for the
nephew had been at his old work, and they pretended, as
usual, to believe all that he said; and so well did they mimic a
passion, and conceal their designs, that he, suspecting nothing,
bade us, as he'd often done, to "make haste, and come along
to see such a row between his uncle and old Barton."
Wicked dogs that we were! No hounds ever set off with
more willingness to hunt a fox than we did to see a rupture
between these two deaf old men; and, with the nephew at
our head, away we went, helter-skelter, his laugh the loudest
of all, and ringing out above all others, as if the entertainment
had been got up for his sole amusement. Up he ran, rubbing
his hands and kicking his heels with delight, as he shouted,
"Now they're going to begin: take your places! Act 1st,
Billy Barton stole uncle's chickens; Act 2nd, enter uncle to
rob Billy Barton's apple-tree,-which, you know, we did for
him. Up go the sticks; now for it! a real fight this time!
Lay on, uncle! Strike hard, Billy!" And, without hearing.
they both took him at his word; for they seized him in an
instant, each laying hold of one side of his collar; and need I
tell you, that we, who had so often laughed at his wickedness,
were delighted to see him caught in his own trap ? adk,. instead
of pitying him, we only echoed his own words, and exclaimed,
"Lay on, uncle I Strike hard, Billy! "-and, although they
broke no bones, I can assure you they gave him such a thrash-
F 77


ing as caused him to remember the day when he first set two
deaf old men together by the ears. And long as it is since, I
can scarcely refrain from laughing, whilst recalling the asto-
nished look of the nephew when they seized upon him;-how
he turned up the whites of his eyes, first at one, then at the
other, while his visage lengthened; and said (as plain as a
countenance can speak), "caught at last!" But what made it
less effective was, that both the old men laughed heartily the
whole of the time they were beating him. First, the uncle
began with, I get drunk every night, do I! Tap. Then
came old Barton with, "I turned your uncle's pigs out, did
I!" Bang. Then again the uncle chimed in, with, "I
robbed Billy Barton's apple-tree, did I!" Thump. Then
again Barton took up the chorus, with, "I stole your uncle's
chickens, did I! Whack. And all this was diversified with
so many "Oh dear mes! and "Oh, I'll never do so no
more!" and Oh, I beg your pardon! with an accompaniment
of cuts and capers on the part of the culprit: now a shoulder
up, then a leg, that, as his uncle said when he had done, "he
had made him for once in his life dance without a fiddle;
and it would be a great pity, after telling so many tales, that
they should be left without a moral." And what was worse,
everybody in Lincoln said that it served the nephew right; and
the only injustice in the affair was, that we, who had so often
shared in and countenanced his sins, ought to have partaken
of a portion of his stripes. But, on this point, I beg to assure
you that we disagreed with our respected friends, and could not
see at all that we ought to be punished for laughing at the mis-
chief manufactured by another. They, however, thought dif-
ferent; and I must leave it to you to decide which were in
the right!
You see that bird which keeps mounting upward like the
skylark, but whose song is no more to be compared to the
notes of that beautiful warbler than the clamour of'the rook is
to the gushing melody of the blackbird-that is the


a bird which occasionally remains with us all the year, and is
found in almost everypart of England. In wet weather it resorts
to the hills and woods, though its favourite haunt seems to be
the meadows and marshes in the neighbourhood of rivers. It
never wanders far for the materials with which it builds its
nest. Should it be on a marsh, it takes the coarse grass
which grows around it; if on a heath or moor, it makes use of
the heather; generally, however, selecting a dry spot on which
to build, but never far distant from some boggy or swampy
place. The eggs, which are of an olive colour, blotched and
spotted with dusky brown, are always found in the nest with
their pointed ends placed inwards. The snipe is curiously
marked. The black crown of the head is divided by a line
down the middle; the back is black, and barred, and striped,
with buff-coloured lines; the breast and belly. white; and the
black feathers of the tail spotted with deep orange towards the
end. Some have compared the noise that it makes, when de
spending on the wing to the bleating of a goat; and many
believe that this peculiar sound is produced by its wings
"r2 79


When mounting in the air, it utters a shrill, sharp, piping
sound. You would be delighted to see how quick, and to what
a depth it sends its pointed bill into the earth after worms, for
its long beak is nearly a full third of the length of the neck
and body.
And now I must say a few words about Frogs and
Toads, wishing you at the same time to remember that
1 have, in two or three instances, attempted to enlist your
kind feelings in favour of such poor inoffensive animals, as
it has too long been the fashion to persecute, before I
draw your attention to this ill-used and harmless race;
sincerely believing that when you have read all I have got
to say, you will never again, wilfully, destroy either a frog or a
toad. "But a toad," you exclaim, is a poisonous reptile "
Believe me when I tell you this is not the truth; on the
contrary, it is perfectly harmless, may be rendered tame, and
even be'taught to eat out of your hand. True, it is far from
prepossessing in its appearance; but this is no excuse for your
destroying it: were we, on the contrary, to encourage it in our
gardens, and protect it, we should soon perceive its useful-
ness in the diminution of insects and worms which make such
havoc amongst vegetation. You would be delighted to watch
it before seizing upon its prey. For a moment or two it
remains perfectly motionless and fixed as a stone, its eyes bent
upon the insect, and its head thrown forward; -when, the in-
stant the object moves, it is struck by the tongue of the toad,
and drawn into its mouth; and so rapid is the action, that
it is scarcely the work of a. moment, and unless your eye
happens to alight upon it in the very tick of time, you would
discover that the insect had gone, without seeing when, or
where. It is also very amusing to see it seize upon a large,
long worm, especially if it happens to lay hold of it in the
middle; the poor worm twists and turns all kinds of ways on
the outside of the jaws of the toad, and by its twining and


struggling, endeavours to escape; but all in vain, for the toad
makes use of its fore-feet, first shoving one end of it into its
mouth, and then the other, until the whole is devoured.
Gilbert White, in his History of Selborne," tells us
of some ladies who took a fancy to a toad, which used to
come out every evening from a hole under the garden steps,
and, after supper, was always taken up and placed.upon the
table, where it was fed: so that you see there were a few
sensible people even more than half a century ago, who were
not afraid of being poisoned by it. And Mr. Bell, in his
History of Britishi Reptiles," makes mention of a very large
one which he kept, that would sit on one of his hands while
it ate from the other. I must also tell you, that the toad,
like the snake, casts its skin, and now and then comes out
with a new coat on his back, which he is, no doubt, as proud
of as a charity boy is of his new suit at Easter. As to its
being found alive in the centre of a solid rock, or in the heart
of a large tree, where it has been supposed to have lived for
hundreds of years, without either a mouthful of food or a
breath of air, why I think it about as likely to be true as the
tale of the horse, which its owner boasted he would teach to
live upon nothing, and which, to nobody's astonishment. but
his own, died as soon as he began to reduce it to a straw a
day. So has it turned out in every experiment which has
been made to imprison toads, either in stone, plaster, or
wood; and although they have lived much longer than might
have been expected, they have generally been found dead at
the end of a few months. One or two, I believe, have
lived over a year in this state of imprisonment; but no animal
Requires less respiration, or, when not in motion, can live
upon less food.
Those little dark-looking objects, which all of you must
have seen swimming aboutby hundreds in ponds and ditches,
with their large round heads and long tails, and something like


fins projecting out from each side of the neck, and which you
call tadpoles, are young frogs; and were it not that thousands
upon thousands of them are devoured by newts and small
fishes, they would soon multiply to such an extent, that, when
fully grown, they would overrun the land. Few animals have
more persecutors than the poor frogs; it can never grow too
big for the jaws of the voracious pike ; almost every kind of
water-fowl feeds upon it; it is the favourite food of the snake;
and as for stoats and weasels and pole-cats, they devour them
by hundreds ; and there is hardly a bird of prey that does not
feed upon them. Surely, then, this poor reptile has plenty of
enemies, without being pelted to death or destroyed by cruel
boys. Like the toad, it is a great destroyer of insects, and you
will never find many slugs in a garden which is frequented
by frogs; it takes its food in the same manner, by throwing
forward its tongue, which, in a state of repose, doubles back as
you would fold a leaf; its tongue also possesses a kind of
sticky matter, to which the prey adheres. You have, no doubt,
heard scores of them croaking when you have been walking
out on a beautiful calm evening by the side of some long
straggling dyke; and to me it has ever seemed far from an
unpleasant noise: and during my rambles by the side of such
places, I have always made a point of looking where I planted
my foot, that I might avoid trampling any one of them to
death. Like many other reptiles it sleeps during the winter,
burying itself in the mud at the bottom of the water, where
they are often found in draining or digging out a water-course,
huddled together by scores; and I have seen a large spade-
ful of them lifted out at once. When spring comes they are
all alive and kicking again: for it is then that they bring forth
their eggs, from which come those thousands of tadpoles that
we see at this season of the year. You will sometimes observe
a quantity of black spots in a large mass of clear jelly floating
on the surface of the water. These black spots are the eggs -f


the frog. But the most wonderful thing in the structure
of these harmless reptiles is, that they have the power of
breathing through the skin. This has been proved by tying
up the head tightly with a portion of'bladder, in fact, literally
hanging them, then placing them in a vessel under water. If
you ever want to see how far a frog can leap without doing it
any injury, strike the ground smartly a few inches behind where
it is squatted, with a stick, and away it will jump an astonishing
distance. I should tell you that you will never find the tail
which you see on young frogs on any of the old ones. Their
motions in the water are beautiful, and I know no better tutor
to teach you the art of swimming than a frog. Only watch nar-
rowly its attitude, stretch yourself out as it does with the head
elevated, and strike out in the same way with the hands and
feet, and take my word for it you will soon be able to swim.
This is a true English picture, a smooth-shaven green, the
sunshine streaming upon it, and glancing on the canvas tents
and white dresses of the




Just look how the batsman stands. His foot firm-his
eye fixed--the ball is delivered, it bounds beautifully, just
his favourite height. What a swing he takes with his arms;
that blow would fell a bullock. The ball looks no bigger than
a bee in the air, with such force is it struck-so high is it sent,
far away beyond the long fieldsman. Run-run-run!"
cries every voice ; not a cross -not a slip ; notch after notch is
added, and the whole air rings again with the voices of the
by-standers. But hush! a fresh bowler has taken up the
ball; their favourite batsman looks a little thoughtful, for he
well knows that peculiar turn of the wrist which so much
baffles the ablest striker. Cautious and watchful are they
both. "Play!" It comes quick as .a shot, and is driven
back with tenfold rapidity, and another shout rises high for
the favourite batsman, though the ball was caught by one
of the fieldsmen who faced it, with so sure an aim and so
true a spring, that you would scarcely be astonished to see
him stop and catch a ball fired -from a cannon. A slower
ball is next delivered by the howler, who deceived all eyes
but the batsman's, from whom there is no disguising his
play, so well is he able to measure the speed of the ball from
the very tick of time that it is first delivered. And yet
these are but every-day players, and, beyond the limits of
their own village not the name of one of them is known as
a cricket-player.
Ah! I have seen this game played many a time as it
ought to be on Nottingham Forest; for who has not heard
of the Nottingham Cricket-Players, whose exploits have rung
through all England? Such batters and bowlers as I never
expect to look upon again. Well did the fieldsmen know their
distance when a first-rate batsman went in; and ample range
they gave him, for they knew that the ball, when struck by
such a powerful arm, would fly off like a cannon-shot. What
stumping out and bowling out have I seen on that forest!


Oh! it is a noble game; and as for exercise, none better can
be found. But I need not here enter fully into the particulars
of the game, for they are recorded in the Boys' Own Book;"
and any description of mine would be but a repetition of what
is already well told. Few, I imagine, can see this game
played without feeling pleasure whilst looking on. The eager
interest.of the contending parties, the watchful eye and ever-
ready hand, the foot planted to an inch, the distance run in
such quick measured strides, give life and animation to the
scene. The white dresses of the Cricketers, too, form a pleasing
contrast to the green landscape; and the deep hum of so many
voices bespeaks the great interest which they take in the game.
What grace there is in their motions; what symmetry dis-
played in their limbs, as they run, bowl, or strike, unencumbered
by any superfluous drapery! It is well worthy of its appella-
tion, and is deservedly called the Noble Game of Cricket.
Just observe those sawyers at work in the sawpit-see
how soon they cut down a large deal-how true they keep
to the chalked marks, the man in'the pit having a line drawn
to guide him as well as the man above-watch the clean saw-
dust as it falls, smooth as snow, though not so white-see
the great piles of timber that stand piled round everywhere;
planks for floors, and for roofs, joists, and centre-beams, and
huge trees full of knots, and the beautiful bark on them,
covered here and there with such rich-coloured and velvet-
looking moss. Oh, it sometimes smells like being in the midst
of pleasant greenwood.
Old Dicky, one of the sawyers, is too aged to work now: he
was a funny fellow, so kind to us boys; and once, when they were
repairing a large sewer, which went under the theatre, Dicky
and his mate were sent for to take the measure, and prop up
the floor above, with strong beams of wood brought from their
saw-yard, for the place was considered dangerous. "Now,"
said Dicky, at night, when they had done sawing and fitting


m the beams, and making all secure, "Now, my lads, if
you've a mind to go into the theatre for nothing to-night, you
can; for there's a hole open which leads into the pit, and I
left a short ladder there; it will bring you out just under
where the fiddler sits, so you can pop up, one at a time, sit
down where you like, and the money-takers will be none the
wiser." Well, we thought this a capital chance to see the per
formance for nothing; and the theatre was no sooner open than
down the sewer nearly half a score of us went like so many
rats. We had a good way to go in the dark before we reached.
the ladder which Dicky had told us of, but we did reach it,
and one, after another got into the pit; but such a parcel of
dirty, black, slimy little fellows as we were, you never saw in
your life, for we had gone knee-deep through the blaok filth,
which had, perhaps, never been disturbed for nearly a century.
We sat down, however, black and covered with slime as we
were. But the odour we had brought with us was unbearable.
"What an unpleasant smell !" exclaimed one. Sit further
off!" cried another. And,'what was worse than all, a score
or more boys beside ourselves had learnt the secret, and kept
bobbing up, and into the pit, about every minute or so, some of
them having tumbled down in the sewer. A pit full of sweeps
would have been more welcome companions. At last we
were found out; the first act was over, down fell the cur-
tain, and into the pit came the manager, and out we were
bundled quicker than ever we came in But what was worse
than all, we rubbed against several boys who really had paid.
But all in vain were protests and exclamations; the marks of
the sewer were found upon them, and out they went along with
the guilty. Never did a merry farce draw down more roars
of hearty laughter than was heard in the old theatre that
night; nay, if even the innocent boys who had unconsciously
rubbed against us, only smelt of the kennel, they were bundled
out with us; and, what was worse than all, when we got out-


side, there was old Dicky, the sawyer, laughing at us; and to
this day we believe it was he who told the manager, and who
sent down all the dirty boys he could muster after us, and all
Dicky said was, You should have filled your pockets with saw-
dust, my.lads, and given yourselves a good scrubbing on the
ladder, then they would never have noticed you." And often
afterward he twitted us, and asked us how we liked the play of
A Night in the Sewer, or the Black and White Rat-catchers
who were caught in their.own trap." Still we liked old Dicky,
although he played us off such a dirty trick, and I believe it
cured us from ever trying to steal into the theatre again with-
out paying. Then we had another trick. It was too bad, but
it made us laugh heartily, and what will not boys do for fun ?
We used to get a large-headed nail, which was as big as a six-
pence, and file the top until it was as smooth and bright as
silver, then thrust it tight down between the nick of two
slabs on the pavement. First one would come by, then an-
other, all believing it was a real sixpence; and when they
stooped down with an intent to pick it up, lo it was immove-
able, and then we were watching round the corner, and ready
to laugh at every one we took in. One or two whom we had
before deceived would take out their pocket-knives and carry
off the nail, saying, Good lads, this will come in useful some
day or another." Then we slunk off, looking very sheepish,
for the big-headed nail had cost some one of us a halfpenny.
So you see the laugh in the end was always against us, as. it
ought to be with all who try to deceive people.
What sport we used to have at this time in running,
leaping, swinging, and trying to outrival each other in all
these and many other similar feats! Every boy who knows
anything about leaping, or jumping, knows what a cat-gal-
lows is. You get two sticks with a few knots, or short pro
jecting branches on them, and then you stick them into the
ground, about a yard asunder Then you place a slender


stick across them, almost like the letter H, only you are
able to raise or lower the cross-bar, according to the knots or
'ends of the branches, just as you think you can manage to
clear it without knocking down the slender stem which is
laid across. If you have jumped over it at a certain height,
perhaps the next boy, who has also gone over it, will
raise it higher; if he clears it you must follow him ; if you
also leap clean over, you must then raise it to the next. stem,
and you will be astonished to see how well you can jump
after a few days of such practice; for there is no danger in
it; you cannot hurt yourself; the slightest touch, and down
goes the slender bar which is laid lengthwise across. After
such trials as these, you then begin to venture at a stoup-
and-rail fence; you must look to your shins while leaping over,
for this is very different to the other; here all is hard,
rugged, and substantial, and the safest way is to measure the
height first, by standing beside the.barrier; for you ought to
.know to an inch, by this time, how high you are able to jump.
Either go over with full confidence at once, or give it up. If
you once begin to waver and doubt, ten to one you graze your
shins, and get laughed at by your more courageous companions.
If you think you cannot clear it, confess and give in at once;
you will save your bones by it, and all the other boys can say
will be that they are better jumpers than you are. Leap-frog
every boy knows how to play at, and he should be careful to
hold his head well in whilst making a back;" but this is
better exercise for cold weather than the hot months of sum-
mer. Stag out" was a noble game for those who could run
well. There was the Forester. to see fair play; all the boys
beside, saving the one who was the stag, were hounds, and
their station was called the kennel. The boy who played the
stag had a certain distance given him in advance, before the
Forester cried Stag-out," which was the signal for the hounds
to start. V however caught him first was the next stag. Still


there was a spot called "the covert," and if the stag could
regain that without being caught, he was lord of the forest
again. Our forest, be it remembered, had its boundaries, and
beyond these neither hirt nor hounds must run.
You see that long-legged, sharp-beaked bird, with a splendid
plume of long, black, glossy feathers on his head, which look
like the sable crest of a helmet; that is the

who delights to wade up to his body in the water, and stick
his sharp bill into the first fish that happens to swim near
him. He is none of your sleepy-headed birds, who go to
roost at sunset with his head under his wing; but will turn
out on a fine moonlight night, like a thorough angler as he
is, and pick up whatever he can catch, from a bleak up to a
barbel; for, thin as he is, he has a most voracious appetite.
The. heron, like the rook, builds its nest on the trees; and


at one period there were a great number of heronries in
England, and a few are still said to exist in Windsor Great
Park; on the skirts of Bagshot Heath; near Beverley, in
Yorkshire; and several other places. When hawking was so
popular an amusement amongst the nobility of this country,
the penalty for killing a heron was twenty shillings, or three
months' imprisonment, unless the bird was captured by flying
a hawk at it, or destroyed by the long-bow. In former times
this bird was called a heronshaw; and there is an old adage
still existing, often applied to a stupid person who cannot
comprehend anything clearly, which says, that "he would
not know a hawk from a handsaw;" the latter word being
a corruption of heronshaw. The heron builds a slovenly-look-
ing nest, formed of sticks placed crosswise, and lined with
grass or rushes, with a thin covering of feathers or wool.
Sometimes the rooks and herons have been known to wage
war for the possession of the trees to build in; and the battle
has terminated with loss of lives, and many wounded on both
sides, though victory at last alighted upon the plumed heads
of the herons, who compelled the rooks to abandon the trees,
fly further off, and found a new colony. It is also on record,
that when the heron has been closely pursued by the hawk,
and found he could not escape, he has made a sudden descent,
turning himself upon his back as he sank downwards, so that
when his pursuer alighted upon him, the sharp bill of the
heron pierced through the body of the hawk. The heron
may be often found standing, with one leg drawn up, by the
sides of rivers and fish-ponds, where he watches for hours
together, silently, and patiently for his prey.
Looking at that heron has recalled an old schoolfellow-
I think I see him now, bringing the heron home under his
arm, and turning it loose on his mother's clean hoAse-floor,
where it went striding about, and everywhere left the marks
of its dirty feet, until the poor old lady got into such a rage


that she drove it out of the door, and over the houses. it flew,
and was never seen again.
Whilst young, as you are now, fresh faces will have fresh
charms; but when you grow older, you will often, like me,
think of the companions of your youthful days, and recall
the many happy hours you have passed with those who, since
then, perhaps are dead. Such companions I once knew, and
one of them, named Billy Maiden, whose memory has been
recalled by the heron, I shall long remember: oh, he was a
fellow full of fun, made rhymes, riddles, and all sorts of non-
sensitives," which you could not help laughing at if you tried
ever so. I shall never forget one puzzling question which he
used to put to us about a fox, three geese, and a basket of oats,
and how a ferryman had to take them over the river, one at a
time. Now, you know, if he took the fox over first (Billy
would say), the geese would be sure to eat up the oats; if he
took the geese over first, why then he must either fetch the
fox or the oats next; if the fox, why it would kill the geese;
if the oats, he was just where he started, for the geese would
eat them up whilst he went back again for the fox. Well, the
old ferryman did not know what to do, until at last a bright
thought came across his mind all at once; and away he went,
across the river, with the three geese, leaving the fox with the
oats; the next journey he carried the fox over, and brought
back the three geese, which he left on the opposite side, and
went across with the oats ; these he left once more with the
fox, and then fetched the geese again. So you see he was
compelled to make an extra trip, or else either lose the geese
or the oats; and he used always to conclude his story by
saying, Better do a thing well, if it takes you a little longer,
than badly, and have to do it all over again, and perhaps be a
loser into the bargain." For Billy mostly ended with a moral.
He used to boast that he could talk dog-latin, and puzzled us
very much at first by his method of linking three or four


words together; such as" infirtaris, intimberaleis, instraw-
cornis, inoaknoneis," which, by his rapid manner of pronun-
ciation, had certainly a most awful Latin sound, but which,
when pronounced slowly, though certainly not the most intel-
ligible English, simply signified that in fir tar is, in timber
ale is, in straw corn is, in oak none is;" such was Billy's
translation of his own dog-latin. Then.he pretended to make
poetry too; but oh, such poetry! bless you, it was none of his
own after all, although he pretended it was such; as,-
"Coffee and Tea

the D of course rhyming to Tea, and the names of the four
letters forming the last line. Then his rhymes !-
"Sing, oh sing, ye heavenly Muses,
While I mends my boots and shoeses."

On the death of a kitten, only two days old, was better, -
'My days on earth they were so small,
I wonder why I came at all."
He made a couplet on our old schoolmaster; when a boy, for
which he got soundly thrashed ; and he used often jokingly to
say, that he was more successful than many young authors, for
he got paid for his first article. Our schoolmaster's name was
Flint, and he had a cast in his eye. Billy could not resist
making a couplet, and thus it ran:-
"Old Daddy Flint, with his squint, sees double;
And if one boy laughs, two are sure to get into trouble."
Then he used to have such droll questions, and ask us, how
the first hammer was made;" and wagging his fore-finger
quickly, he would say, Can you do this, and hold your finger
still ?" These things seem very silly now, but they made
us laugh heartily when we were boys. When he wanted to
get us out to play on a moonlight night,'he used to sing an

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