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But De Tocqueville found himself amidst forest scenes which, if not so magnificent in their sublimity, were scarcely less suggestive in their vast wildness. He pierced into the deep solitudes of those American woods which were then on the very borders of the Northern Confederate States. There, in yet interminable woods—which have probably since then disappeared before the axe of the woodman, the plough of the farmer, and the magic of the architect—he describes how especially he came, towards nightfall, to the shores of a lake embosomed in forests coeval with the world, no object attesting the presence of man except a column of smoke on the horizon rising from the tops of the trees to the clouds, and seeming rather to hang from heaven than to be mounting to it. The quotation is commonplace and hackneyed, but De Tocqueville's experience so literally realised it that we cannot forbear to quote it :
English forest may be best studied, the New Forest furnishes still the greatest variety of associations.* But long would the paper be were we to attempt to give any mention of the celebrated trees of our country—the chestnut, the oak, the elm, or the yew. As vain, also, to attempt to convey the varying features of trees—for trees have their features, scarcely less marked than those of the human face; and, as the clouds frown, or the sunbeams glance upon them, they sadden or they shine like a human countenance; and it is this variety which gives to forest scenery its expressive beauty. This was and is the charm of Gilpin's work; he caught and expressed the varying features of the forest trees. Some trees, even while you look at them, seem like the mountain ash—the tree of weird old Druidic superstitionsto confirm all that wild fancy and grim legend have said concerning them; and, while it is not strange that the willow has ever invited the mourner by its signs of pensive grief, the lime and the chestnut invite by their attractive charm, and elevate the feelings by their majesty.
The trees all convey different impressions, and were the ear sufficiently sensitive when the winds speak through their branches it would not be difficult to detect the difference of the tone and note. Indeed, there was a time in our life when we thought we were able, by night, to understand the varying melody of the fir and the oak, the elm and the beech, the pine and the birch. This is surely not wonderful. The wood of every tree, and its branches, is different. A great Russian musician made a very effective musical instrument, with which he delighted the Court and large assemblies beyond the Court, composed of pieces of wood of different orders of trees ; these were the keys of his instrument. Of course he had his own delicacy of perception and of touch. But thus it is that Nature plays her various notes, as Alexander Smith says
“I knew by the smoke that so gracefully curled
Around the dark pines, that a cottage was near; And said I, if there's peace to be found in the world,
The heart that is humble might hope for it here.”
He speaks of it as one of those delicious solitudes of the New World which almost leads the civilised man to regret the haunts of the savage. Around him was the deep silence, only broken by the monotonous cooing of the wood-pigeon and the tapping of the woodpecker upon the bark of the trees. Yet in this solemn retreat he found that man, retreating from the poverty of ancient cities, had hastily hewn down the logs from the trees to rear for himself a home. The traveller speaks of what we can well believe he felt-his silent admiration at the resources of Nature and the littleness of man. He saw the flicker of the hearth-flame through the chinks of the building, and at night, as the wind rose, he heard the roof of boughs shake to and fro in the midst of the great forest trees. And then he goes on to tell how he found the owner of the hut acquainted with the past, curious about the future, ready for argument upon the present-in fact, a highly civilised being, who had penetrated into the wilds of the New World with his Bible, his axe, and some newspapers. This too is a glimpse of forest scenery indeed !
“ The wind, that grand old harper, strikes
His mighty harp of pines.”
Such and so various are the aspects of the woods, and the notes they are calculated to awaken in the mind. As we stand upon the threshold of this forest scenery we may say to the reader, in the graceful language of Mrs. Hemans,
“This is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and
the hemlocks, Bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in
the twilight, Stand like Druids of eld, with voices sad and prophetic, Stand like harpers hoar, with beards that rest on their
bosoms. Loud from its rocky caverns, the deep-voiced neighbour
ing ocean Speaks, and, in accents disconsolate, answers the wail of
“ Thou hast a rich world round thee-mighty shades
Wearing their gorgeous tracery o'er thy head,
But we must bid our readers to go to Francis Heath's edition of Gilpin to be further instructed by the monarchs of the English woods.
But these later pictures are episodes, glimpses of lands we cannot visit, and the chief impressions of this paper are of the forest scenes of England. We suppose, of all neighbourhoods where the
* See “ Leisure Hour" for 1882, P 492.
LORD BEACONSFIELD ON SYLVAN SCENERY.
regard to Treer,
w . am and surprind Chut the anciento
THE RAVEN, THE SERPENT, AND THE BRACELET.
A raven had her nest on a tree ; at the foot of the tree a serpent had its hole. The serpent went up the tree, and eat up the young birds in the raven's nest.
The raven said, “I am indeed very sorry that you have had to eat up my dear little ones for want of food. Should you be so good as to keep to your hole and leave my nest unmolested, I shall give you every day a portion of the meal I get for myself.”
The serpent, extremely irritated at this, replied, "You black, dirty thing that feeds on carrion, I would rather eat up your young ones and yourself than eat anything that you may fetch me."
The raven flew off to the palace, and, taking up one of the bracelets of the queen, dropped it into the hole of the serpent. The servants of the royal household followed the bird, and dug into the hole to recover the bracelet. The serpent rushed out hissing at them, and was killed in a moment.
THE ELEPHANT AND THE APE. An elephant named Grand Tusk and an ape named Nimble were friends.
Grand Tusk observed, “Behold how big and powerful I am!”
Nimble cried in reply, “Behold how agile and entertaining I am !”
Each was eager to know which was really superior to the other, and which quality was the most esteemed by the wise.
So they went to Dark Sage, an owl that lived in an old tower, to have their claims discussed and settled.
Dark Sage said, “You must do as I bid that I may form an opinion.”
Agreed,” said both. “Then,” said Dark Sage, cross yonder river, and bring me the mangoes on the great tree beyond."
Off went Grand Tusk and Nimble, but when they came to the stream, which was flowing full, Nimble held back; but Grand Tusk took him up on his back, and swam across in a very short time. Then they came to the mango-tree, but it was very lofty and thick. Grand Tusk could neither touch the fruit with his trunk, nor could he break the tree down to gather the fruit. Up sprang Nimble, and in a trice let drop a whole basketful of rich ripe mangoes. Grand Tusk gathered the fruit up into his capacious mouth, and the two friends crossed the stream as before.
“Now,” said Dark Sage, “which of you is the better? Grand Tusk crossed the stream, and Nimble gathered the fruit."
Each thing in its place is best.
A hare among them, named Tiny Trick, observed, “I have a stratagem whereby I can get
rid of Blind Fury, if you would let me take my chance with him to-morrow.”
They agreed. The usual breakfast hour of Blind Fury was nine, but Tiny Trick trudged on in sight of him at twelve.
“Hollo! you impudent little wretch! what keeps you so long from our presence ?” said Blind
"May it please your majesty," said Tiny Trick, “in a well by the road I have travelled there is another king like your majesty. He said I should not go without appeasing his hunger. It was with difficulty I could obtain permission of him to see your majesty for a moment and return."
"Lead the way to the well,” said Blind Fury. “Yes, your majesty,” said Tiny Trick.
When Blind Fury came to the well he found his own shadow reflected in it, and, fancying that it was another tiger, a rival, leapt into it and was drowned. The beasts of the forest praised Tiny Trick as the saviour of the state.
Little folk often do great things for the public good.
THE CRANE, THE CRAB, AND THE FISH.
A crane that had long coveted the fish in a pond, one day stood on the bank in a melancholy mood.
“Sir Crane,” said the fish in a shoal, “ why are you sad to-day?"
“My dear fish,” said Sir Crane, “I am so sorry that the fisherman is to come to-morrow with his net and take you all away."
“Oh, what shall we do?” cried the fish.
“Why," said the crane, “if you would only isten to my advice you will all be saved."
“Do help us, by all means, Sir Crane, we will be so thankful to you,” said the fish.
“Well, it may be a source of some trouble to me, but that is immaterial; when one can do a kind turn he ought to do it. I shall take up as many of you as I can at a time, and carry you to a pond, at some distance in a forest where no fisherman can molest you.” So saying, he carried each time a number of fish, and dropped them on a great
He didnt wa
Tidin banget piece of stone. There he made a
hearty meal on as many as he could rcfeat at a time, and left the remain
der to dry in the sun. It came to the turn of the crab to be carried, While the crane was flying in the air, the crab found fish all the way, dried and drying. He cut asunder the neck of the crane with his sharp feet, and, falling into a pond, saved himself and the remaining fish in the pond he had left.
The wicked and the oppressor will find their doom in the end.
THE EGYPTIAN SOUDAN.
THE Soudan, from which so many fluctuating
rumours have come during the past few
months, is destined yet to acquire a greater importance. In the view of many people it is still an undefined region. In the map the word SOUDAN may be seen spreading over a space of country reaching from the Gulf of Guinea almost to the Red Sea. This is the true home of the
negro races, and is sometimes called Nigritia, The Egyptian Soudan, with which public interest is now chiefly concerned, may be said to commence from the Great Cataract, and it extends through twenty-two degrees of latitude to the Great Lakes. In 1877 the late Khedive Ismail wrote to Colonel Gordon, “I have resolved to bring the Soudan, Darfour, and the provinces