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Critical and miscellaneous essays (Volume 1) online

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at them now as if they had dropped from the clouds ! —
and since you think that beech — that round hill of leaves
— is not the same shrub you left sticking in the gravel,
why call the old gardener hither, and swear him to its
identity on the Bible.

Before this confounded gout attacked our toe, we were
great pedestrians, and used to stalk about all over the
banks and braes from sunrising to sunsetting, through all
seasons of the year. Few sights would please us more
than that of a new mansion-house, or villa, or cottage
ornee, rising up in some sheltered, but open-fronted nook,
commanding a view of a few bends of a stream or river
winding along old lea, or rich holm ploughed fields,—
sloping uplands, with here and there a farm-house and
trees, — and in the distance hill-tops quite clear, and cutting
the sky, wreathed with mists, or for a time hidden in
clouds. It set the imagination and the heart at work to-
gether, to look at the young hedgerows and plantations,
belts, clumps, and single trees, hurdled in from the nib-
bling sheep. Ay, some younger brother, who, twenty, or
thirty, or forty years ago, went abroad to the East, or the
West, to push his fortune, has returned to the neighbour-
hood of his native vale at last, to live and to die among
the braes, where once, among the yellow broom, the
schoolboy sported gladsome as any bird. Busy has he
been in adorning, — perhaps the man who fixes his faith on
Price on the Picturesque, would say in disfiguring, — the
inlnnd haven where he has dropt anchor, and will continue
to ride till the vessel of life parts from her moorings, and
drifts away on the shoreless sea of eternity. For our own
parts, we are not easily offended by any conformation

TREES. 101

into which trees can be thrown — the bad taste of another
m'lst not be suffered to throw us into a bad temper — and
as long as the trees are green in their season, and in their
season, purple, and orange, and yellow, and refrain from
murdering each other, to our eye they are pleasant to look
upon, — to our ear it is music, indeed, to hear them all
a-murmur along with the murmuring winds. Hundreds —
thousands of such dwellings have, in our time, arisen all
over the face of Scotland ; and there is room enough, we
devoutly trust, and verily believe, for hundreds and thou-
sands more. Of a people's prosperity what pleasanter
proof! And, therefore, may all the well-fenced woods make
more and more wonderful shoots every year. Beneath
and among their shelter, may not a single slate be blown
from the blue roof, peering through the trees, on the eyes
of distant traveller, as he wheels along on the top of his
most gracious majesty's mail-coach; — may the dryads
soon wipe away their tears for the death of the children
that must, in thinnings, be " wede away ;" — and may the
rookeries and heronries of Scotland increase in number
for the long space of ten thousand revolving years !

Not that we hold it to be a matter of pure indifference,
how people plant trees. We have an eye for the pictu-
resque, the sublime, and the beautiful, and cannot open it,
without seeing at once the very spirit of the scene. O
ye ! who have had the happiness to be born among the
murmers of hereditary trees, can ye be blind to the system
pursued by that planter — nature ? Nature plants often on
a great scale, darkening, far as the telescope can command
the umbrage, sides of mountains that are heard roaring
still with hundreds of hidden cataracts. And nature often
plants on a small scale, dropping down the stately birk so
beautiful, among the sprinkled hazels, by the side of the
little waterfall of the wimpling burnie, that stands dishevel-
ling there her tresses to the dew-wind, like a queen's
daughter, who hath just issued from the pool of pearls,
and shines aloft and aloof from her attendant maidens.
But man is so proud of his own works, that he ceases to
regard those of nature. Why keep poring on that book of
plates, purchased at less than half price at a sale, when
nature flutters before your eyes her own folio, which all



Online LibraryJohn WilsonCritical and miscellaneous essays (Volume 1) → online text (page 9 of 34)