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Susan Fenimore Cooper
Susan was born in New Youk April 17, 1813 and was named after her mother. Her father, James Fenimore Cooper was a famous author.
Her father wanted the best education for his daughters and not finding the right education in the states, the family moved to Paris in 1826. Here Susan learned four languages. One of Susan's most famous books Rural Hours reflects on the days she spent in Europe.
Susan began working as her fathers copyist in Europe in 1831. She continued this work until her father died in 1851. Susan's father helped her acheive her writing status.
The changing of the seasons, weather, and all the wildlife that surrounds her are reflected in Rural Hours These short journal essays tell us about her place in this world and what the surrounding countryside was once like. Rural Hours can be compared to other literary nature journals such as Thoreau's Walden. They both observe the relationships between nature and humans.
Rural HoursSusan Fenimore Cooper
Excerpts taken from the 1850 edition of Rural Hours. George P. Putnam, New York, 1850.
Saturday, [June] 23d. --Bright, warm day; thermometer 89. Fine air from the west.
Pleasant walk in the evening. Met a party of children coming from the woods with wild flowers. In May or June, one often meets little people bringing home flowers or berries from the hills; and if you stop to chat with them, they generally offer you a share of their nosegay or their partridge-berries; they are as fond of these last as the birds, and they eat the young aromatic leaves also. Their first trip to the woods, after the snow has gone, is generally in quest of these berries; a week or two later, they go upon the hills for our earliest flowers--ground- laurel and squirrel-cups; a little later, they gather violets, and then again, the azalea, or "wild honeysuckle," as they call it, to which they are very partial.
But, though pleased with the flowers, the little creatures seldom know their names. This seems a pity; but we have often asked them what they called this or that blossom in their hands, and they seldom could give an answer, unless it happened to be a rose, perhaps, or a violet, or something of that sort, familiar to every one. But their elders are generally quite as ignorant as themselves in this way; frequently, when we first made acquaintance with the flowers of the neighborhood, we asked grown persons--learned, perhaps, in many matters--the common names of plants they must have seen all their lives, and we found they were no wiser than the children or ourselves.
It is really surprising how little the country people know on such subjects. Farmers and their wives, who have lived a long life in the fields, can tell you nothing on these matters. The men are even at fault among the trees on their own farms, if these are at all out of the common way; and as for the smaller native plants, they know less about them than Buck or Brindle, their own oxen. Like the children, they sometimes pick a pretty flower to bring home, but they have no name for it. The women have some little acquaintance with herbs and simples, but even in such cases they frequently make strange mistakes; they also are attracted by the wild flowers; they gather them, perhaps, but they cannot name them. And yet, this is a day when flower borders are seen before every door, and every young girl can chatter largely about "bouquets," and the "Language of Flowers" to boot.
It is true, the common names of our wild flowers are, at best, in a very unsatisfactory state. Some are miscalled after European plants of very different characters. Very many have one name here, another a few miles off, and others again have actually, as yet, no English names whatever. They, are all found in botanical works under long, clumsy, Latin appellations, very little fitted for every-day uses, just like the plants of our gardens, half of which are only known by long-winded Latin polysyllables, which timid people are afraid to pronounce. But, annoying as this is in the garden, it is still worse in the fields.
What has a dead language to do on every-day occasions with the living blossoms of the hour? Why should a strange tongue sputter its uncouth, compound syllables upon the simple weeds by the way-side? If these hard words were confined to science and big books, one would not quarrel with the roughest and most pompous of them all; but this is so far from being the case, that the evil is spreading over all the woods and meadows, until it actually perverts our common speech, and libels the helpless blossoms, turning them into so many "précieuses ridicules." Happy is it for the rose that she was named long ago; if she had chanced to live until our day, by some prairie stream, or on some remote ocean island, she would most assuredly have been called Tom, Dick, or Harry, in Greek or Latin.
Before people were overflowing with science--at a time when there was some simplicity left in the world, the flowers received much better treatment in this way. Pretty, natural names were given them in olden times, as though they had been called over by some rural party--cherry- cheeked maidens, and merry-hearted lads--gone a-Maying, of a pleasant spring morning. Many of those old names were thoroughly homely and rustic, such as the ox-eye, crow-foot, cowslip, butter-cup, pudding-grass, which grew in every meadow; then there was the hare- bell, which loved to hang its light blue bells about the haunts of the timid hare; the larkspur; the bindweed, winding about shrubs and bushes; the honeysuckle, which every child has stolen many a time from the bees; spicy gilliflowers, a corruption of July-flowers, from the month in which they blossomed ; daffadowndillies, a puzzle for etymologists; pennyroyal; holly-hock, or holy-oak, as it was sometimes written; paigle, another name for cowslips; primrose, from the early season when the flower blooms; carnation, or "coronation," from the custom of wearing them in wreaths. These last were also called sops-in-wine, from their being thrown into wine to improve its flavor, a custom which seems to have prevailed formerly in England; the old Greeks had a practice of the same kind, for l'Abbé Bartholemi tells us that they threw roses and violets into their wine-casks, for the purpose of flavoring their wines. May not this ancient custom prove the origin of the common French phrase--le bouquet du vin?
There were other names, again, given to the plants in those good old times, showing a touch of quaint humor-like Bouncing-Bet, Ragged- Robin, bachelor's-button, snap-dragon, foxglove, monkshood. Others bore names which showed there had been lovers in the fields--like Sweet-Cicely, Sweet-William, heart's-ease, pansies, truelove. Even mere personal names, such as are so often given to-day, were far better managed then--as for instance, Herb-Robert, Good King-Henry, Marietts, Bartram, Angelica. Others, again, were imaginative or fanciful--as morning-glory, night-shade, flag, loose-strife, wake-robin, simpler's-joy, thrift, speedwell, traveller's-joy, snow-drop, winter's pale foundling, wayfaring-tree, eye-bright, shepherd's-purse, pink meaning eye, in Dutch, like the French œillet; marigold, lady's-smock--from the white leaves of these flowers blooming in the grass, like bleaching linen; the wall-flower, which loved the shade of knightly banners and pennons, and still clings faithfully to falling ruins; king's-spears, flower-gentle, goldilocks, yellow-golds, the flower de luce; flower of light, which great painters have placed in the hands of saintly personages in many a noble work of art; the sweet-daisy or day's-eye, the "eye of day," as Chaucer has called it.
After such names as these, ought we not to be thoroughly ashamed of appellations like Batschia, Schoberia, Buchnera, Goodyera, Brugmannsia, Heuchera, Scheuzeria, Schizanthus, and as many more to match as you please? Names remarkably well adapted to crocodiles, and rattlesnakes, and scorpions, but little suited, one would think, to the flowers gentle of the field.
There is a modest little blossom known to all the world as having been highly honored in different countries. La Marguerite was probably first named in the chansons of some lover troubadour, some noble brother-in-arms, perhaps, of him who sang Blanche of Castille so sweetly:"Las! si j'avais pouvoir d'oublier
Sa beauté, son bien-dire
Et son très-doux regarder,
Finirait mon martyre!
We may well believe it to have been some such knightly poet who first felt the charm of that simple flower, and blending its name and image with that of his lady-love, sang: "Si douce est la Marguerite!" So long as knights wore arms, and couched lances in behalf of ladies fair, so long was la Marguerite a favored flower of chivalry, honored by all preux chevaliers; knight and squire bore its fame over the sea to merry England, over Alps and Pyrenees also; in Spain it is still la Margarita; in Italy, la Margherettina.
The Italians, by-the-by, have also a pretty rustic name of their own for it, la pratellina, the little fielding. And now, when the old towers of feudal castles are falling to the ground, when even the monumental statues of knight and dame are crumbling into dust where they lie in the churches, now at this very day, you may still find the name of la Marguerite upon the lips of the peasant girls of France; you may see them meas- uring the love of their swains by the petals of these flowers, pulling them, one after another, and repeating, as each falls, un peu, beaucoup, passionèment, pas du tout ; the last leaflet deciding the all-important question by the word that accompanies it; alas! that it must sometimes prove pas du tout! Oddly enough, in Germany, the land of sentiment and Vergiessmeinnicht, this flower of love and chivalry has been degraded into---shall we say it,-Gänseblume,--Goose-blossom! Such, at least, is one of its names; we hasten, however, to call it, with others, Masliebe, or love-measure: probably from the same fancy of pulling the petals to try lovers' hearts by. In England, the Saxon daisy has always been a great favorite with rural poets and country-folk, independ- ently of its knightly honors, as la Marguerite. Chaucer, as we all know, delighted in it; he rose before the sun, he went a-field, he threw himself on the ground to watch the daisy-To seen this flour so yong, so fresh of hew,
till it unclosed was
Upon the smal, soft, swete gras."
Now can one believe that if the daisy, or the Marguerite, had been called Caractacussia, or Chlodovigia, it would have been sung by knightly troubadours and minstrels, in every corner of feudal Europe? Can you fancy this flower, "so yong, so fresh of hew," to have delighted Chaucer, under the title of Sirhum- phreydavya, or Sirwilliamherschellia, or Doctorjohnsonia? Can you imagine the gentle Emilie, in the garden gathering flowers--"To make a sotel garland for her bed,
While as an angel, hevonlich, she song:-"
Can you imagine this gentle creature, or any other, of whom it might be said,"Her cheare was simple as bird in bower,
As white as lilly, or rose in rise:"
Can you picture to yourself such maidens, weaving in their golded tresses, Symphoricarpus vulfaris, Tricochloa, Tradescantia, Calopogon? etc., etc. Or conceive for a moment some Perdita of the present day, singing in her sweetest tones:" Here's flowers for you--
Pyxidanthera, Rudbeekia, Selerolepis,
Escholtzia, that goes to bed with the sun," etc., etc.
Fancy her calling for fragrant blossoms to bestow on her young maiden friends: "Spargonophorus, Rhododendron, Sabbatia, Schi- zea, Schollera, Schistidium, Waldsteinia, and the tall Vernonia, Noveborences," etc., etc. Do you suppose that if she had gone on in that style, Florizel would have whispered: "When you speak sweet, I'd have you do it ever?" No, indeed! he would have stopped his ears, and turned to Mopsa and Dorcas. Fancypoor Ophelia prattling to Laertes about the wreath she had woven; instead of her "rosemary," and "pansies," and "herb- o'grace," hear her discourse about " Plantanthera Blepharoglottis, or Psycodes, Ageratum, Syntheris, Houghtoniana, Banksia, and Jeffersonia," etc., etc. Could her brother in that case have pos- sibly called her " 0, rose of May, dear maid, kind sister, sweet Ophelia?" No, indeed! And we may rest assured, that if the daisy, the douce Marguerite, had borne any one of these names, Chaucer would have snapped his fingers at it. We may feel con- fident that Shakspeare would then have showed it no mercy; all his fairies would have hooted at it; he would have tossed it to Sycorax and Caliban; he would not have let either Perdita or Ophelia touch it, nor Miranda, with her très doux regarder, look at it once.
Neither daisy, nor cowslip, nor snow-drop is found among the fields of the New World, but blossoms just as sweet and pretty are not wanting here, and it is really a crying shame to misname them. Unhappily, a large number of our plants are new discov- eries--new, at least, when compared with Chaucer's daisy, Spen- ser's coronation flower, or Shakspeare's "pansies and herb- o'grace"--and having been first gathered since the days of Lin- næus, as specimens, their names tell far more of the musty hortus siccus, than of the gay and fragrant May-pole. But if we wish those who come after us to take a natural, unaffected pleasure in flowers, we should have names for the blossoms that mothers and nurses can teach children before they are "in Botany;" if we wish that American poets should sing our native flowers as sweetly and as simply as the daisy, and violets, and celandine have been sung from the time of Chaucer or Herrick, to that of Burns and Wordsworth, we must look to it that they have natural, pleasing names.
Monday, 25th.--Pleasant day; much cooler; thermometer 75.
Yesterday, Sunday, we had a shower, which has very much refreshed the air for us here. No thunder or lightning, however, in spite of the previous heat. Long walk this afternoon. Passing through a wheat-field, heard a full chorus of crickets and other insects; they have begun their summer song in earnest. Goldfinches were flying about in little flocks; they are very social creatures, always pleased to be together.
Tuesday, 26th.--Fine day; soft breeze from the north, the wind much warmer than usual from that quarter. Thermometer 78. Walked in the woods. The dogmackie is in flower, and being so common, its white blossoms look very cheerfully in the woods. These flowering shrubs, which live and bloom in shady groves, are scarcely ever touched by the sunbeams; but they are one the less beautiful for the subdued light which plays about them. The dogmackie, like others of the same family, is also called arrow-wood; probably their branches and stems have been employed, at some period or other in the history of arms, for making arrows. We have never heard whether the Indians used the wood in this way.
It was a pretty sight, coming home, to see the women and children scattered about the meadows, gathering wild strawberries. This delightful fruit is very abundant here, growing everywhere, in the woods, along the road-sides, and in every meadow. Happily for us, the wild strawberries rather increase than diminish in cultivated lands; they are even more common among the foreign grasses of the meadows than within the woods. The two varieties marked by our botanists are both found about our lake.
This wildharvest of fruit, a blessing to all, is an especial ad- vantage to the poor; from the first strawberries in June, there is a constant succession until the middle of September. In a week or two we shall have raspberries: both the red and the black varieties are very abundant, and remarkably good. Then come the blackberries--plenty here as in the neighborhood of Falstaff; the running kind, or vine- blackberry, bearing the finest fruit of all its tribe, and growing abundantly on Long Island and in Westchester, is not, however, found in our hills. Whortleberries abound in our woods, and on every waste hill-side. Wild gooseberries are common, and last summer we met a man with a pail of them, which he was carrying to the village for sale. Wild plums are also common, and frequently brought to market. The large purple flower of the rose-raspberry yields a fruit of a beautiful color and pleasant, acid taste, but it is seldom eaten in quantities. Wild grape-vines are very common, and formerly the fruit used to be gathered for sale, but of late years we have not seen any.
All these lesser kinds of wild fruits, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and whortleberries, are gathered, to a very great extent, for sale; women, children, and occasionally men also, find it a profitable employment to bring them to market; an industrious woman has made in this way, during the fruit season, thirty dollars, without neglecting her family, and we have known an old man who made forty dollars in one summer; children also, if well disposed, can easily support themselves by the same means. Strawberries sell in the village at a shilling a quart; blackberriesfor three or four cents; raspberries, and whortleberries also, from three to five cents a quart.
Wednesday, 27th.--Charming day; thermometer 80. Toward sunset strolled in the lane.
The fields which border this quiet bit of road are among the oldest in our neighborhood, belonging to one of the first farms cleared near the village; they are in fine order, and to look at them, one might readily believe these lands had been under cultivation for ages. But such is already very much the character of the whole valley; a stranger moving along the highway looks in vain for any striking signs of a new country; as he passes from farm to farm in unbroken succession, the aspect of the whole region is smiling and fruitful. Probably there is no part of the earth, within the limits of a temperate climate, which has taken the aspect of an old country so soon as our native land; very much is due, in this respect, to the advanced state of civilization in the present age, much to the active, intelligent character of the people, and something, also, to the natural features of the country itself. There are no barren tracts in our midst, no deserts which defy cultivation; even our mountains are easily tilled--arable, many of them, to their very summits--while the most sterile among them are more or less clothed with vegetation in their natural state. Altogether, circumstances have been very much in our favor.
While observing, this afternoon, the smooth fields about us, it was easy, within the few miles of country in sight at the moment, to pick out parcels of land in widely different conditions, and we amused ourselves by following upon the hill-sides the steps of the husbandman, from the first rude clearing, through every successive stage of tillage, all within range of the eye at the same instant. Yonder, for instance, appeared an opening in the forest, marking a new clearing still in the rudest state, black with charred stumps and rubbish; it was only last winter that the timber was felled on that spot, and the soil was first opened to the sunshine, after having been shaded by the old woods for more ages than one can tell. Here, again, on a nearer ridge, lay a spot not only cleared, but fenced, preparatory to being tilled; the decayed trunks and scattered rubbish having been collected in heaps and burnt. Probably that spot will soon be ploughed, but it frequently happens that land is cleared of the wood, and then left in a rude state, as wild pasture-ground; an indifferent sort of husbandry this, in which neither the soil nor the wood receives any attention; but there is more land about us in this condition than one would suppose. The broad hill-side, facing the lane in which we were walking, though cleared perhaps thirty years since, has continued untilled to the present hour. In another direction, again, lies a field of new land, ploughed and seeded for the first time within the last few weeks; the young maize plants, just shooting out their glossy leaves, are the first crop ever raised there, and when harvested, the grain will prove the first fruits the earth has ever yielded to man from that soil, after lying fallow for thousands of seasons. Many other fields in sight have just gone through the usual rotation of crops, showing what the soil can do in various ways; while the farm before us has been under cultivation from the earliest history of the village, yielding every season, for the last half century, its share of grass and grain. To one familiar with the country, there is a certain pleasure in thus beholding tho agricultural history of the neighborhood unfolding before one, following upon the farms in sight these progressive steps in cultivation.
The pine stumps are probably the only mark of a new country which would be observed by a stranger. With us, they take the place of rocks, which are not common; they keep possession of the ground a long while--some of those about us are known to have stood more than sixty years, or from the first settlement of the country, and how much longer they will last, time alone can tell. In the first years of cultivation, they are a very great blemish, but after a while, when most of them have been burnt or uprooted, a gray stump here and there, among the grass of a smooth field, does not look so very much amiss, reminding one, as it does, of the brief history of the country. Possibly there may be something of partiality in this opinion, just as some lovers have been found to admire a freckled face, because the rosy cheek of their sweetheart was mottled with brown freckles; people generally may not take the same view of the matter, they may think that even the single stump had better be uprooted. Several ingenious machines have been invented for getting rid of these enemies, and they have already done good service in the county. Some of them work by levers, others by wheels; they usually require three or four men and a yoke of oxen, or a horse, to work them, and it is really surprising what large stumps are drawn out of the earth by these contrivances, the strongest roots cracking and snapping like threads. Some digging about the stump is often necessary as a preliminary step, to enable the chain to be fastened securely, and occasionally the axe is used to relieve the machine; still, they work so expeditiously, that contracts are taken to clear lands in this way, at the rate of twentyor thirty cents a stump, when, according to the old method, working by hand, it would cost, perhaps, two or three dollars to uproot a large one thoroughly. In the course of a day, these machines will tear up from twenty to fifty stumps, according to their size. Those of the pine, hemlock, and chestnut are the most difficult to manage, and these last longer than those of other trees. When uprooted, the stumps are drawn together in heaps and burnt, or frequently they are turned to account as fences, being placed on end, side by side, their roots interlocking, and a more wild and formidable barrier about a quiet field cannot well be imagined. These rude fences are quite common in our neighborhood, and being peculiar, one rather likes them; it is said that they last much longer than other wooden fences, remaining in good condition for sixty years.
But although the stumps remaining here and there may appear to a stranger the only sign of a new country to be found here, yet closer observation will show others of the same character. Those wild pastures upon hill-sides, where the soil has never been ploughed, look very differently from other fallows. Here you observe a little hillock rounding over a decayed stump, there a petty hollow where some large tree has been uprooted by the storm; fern and brake also are seen in patches, instead of the thistle and the mullein. Such open hill-sides, even when rich and grassy, and entirely free from wood or bushes, bear a kind of heaving, billowy character, which, in certain lights, becomes very distinct; these ridges are formed by the roots of old trees, and remain long after the wood has entirely decayed. Even on level ground there is always an elevation about the root of an old tree and upon a hill-side, these petty knolls show more clearly as they are thrown into relief by the light; they become much bolder, also, from the washing of the soil, which accumulates above, and is carried away from the lower side of the trunk, leaving, often, a portion of the root bare in that direction. Of course, the older a wood and the larger its trees, the more clearly will this billowy character be marked. The tracks of the cattle also make the formation more ridge-like, uniting one little knoll with another, for when feeding, they generally follow one another, their heads often turned in one direction, and upon a hill-side they naturally take a horizontal course, as the most convenient. Altogether, the billowy face of these rude hill-sides is quite striking and peculiar, when seen in a favorable light.
But, there are softer touches also, telling the same story of recent cultivation. It frequently, happens, that walking about our farms, among rich fields, smooth and well worked, one comes to a low bank, or some little nook, a strip of land never yet cultivated, though surrounded on all sides by ripening crops of eastern grains and grasses. One always knows such places by the pretty native plants growing there. It was but the other day we paused to observe a spot of this kind in a fine meadow, near the village, neat and smooth, as though worked from the days of Adam. A path made by the workmen and cattle crosses the field, and one treads at every step upon plantain, that regular path-weed of the Old World; following this track, we come to a little runnel, which is dry and grassy now, though doubtless at one time the bed of a considerable spring; the banks are several feet high, and it is filled with native plants; on one side stands a thorn-tree, whose morning shadow falls upon grasses and clovers brought from beyond the seas, while in the afternoon, it lies on gyromias and moose-flowers, sarsaparillas and cahoshes, which bloomed here for ages, when the eye of the red man alone be- held them. Even within the limits of the village spots may still be found on the bank of the river, which are yet unbroken by the plough, where the trailing arbutus, and squirrel-cups, and May- wings tell us so every spring; in older regions, these children of the forest would long since have vanished from all the meadows and villages, for the plough would have passed a thousand times over every rood of such ground.
The forest flowers, the gray stumps in our fields, and the heaving surface of our wild hill-sides, are not, however, the only way-marks to tell the brief course of cultivation about us. These speak of the fallen forest; but here, as elsewhere, the waters have also left their impression on the face of the earth, and in these new lands the marks of their passage is seen more clearly than in older countries. They are still, in many places, sharp and distinct, as though fresh from the workman's hand. Our valleys are filled with these traces of water-work; the most careless observer must often be struck with their peculiar features, and it appears remarkable that here, at an elevation so much above the great western lakes, upon this dividing ridge, at the very fountain head of a stream, running several hundred miles to the sea, these lines are as frequent and as boldly marked as though they lay in a low country subject to floods. Large mounds rise like islands from the fields, their banks still sharply cut; in other spots a depressed meadow is found below the level of the surrounding country, looking like a drained lake, enclosed within banks as plainly marked as the works of a fortification; a shrunken brook, perhaps, running to-day where a river flowed at some period of past time. Quite near the village, from the lane where we were walking this evening, one may observe a very bold formation of this kind; the bank of the river is high and abrupt at this spot, and it is scooped out into two adjoining basins, not unlike the amphitheatres of ancient times. The central horn, as it were, which divides the two semicircles, stretches out quite a distance into a long, sharp point, very abrupt on both sides. The farther basin is the most regular, and it is also marked by successive ledges like the tiers of seats in those ancient theatres. This spot has long been cleared of wood, and used as a wild pasture; but the soil has never yet been broken by the plough, and we have often paused here to note the singular formation, and the surprising sharpness of the lines. Quite recently they have begun to dig here for sand; and if they continue the work, the character of the place must necessarily be changed. But now, as we note the bold outline of the basin, and watch the lines worked by the waters ages and ages since, still as distinct as though made last year, we see with our own eyes fresh proofs that we are in a new country, that the meadows about us, cleared by our fathers, are the first that have lain on the lap of the old earth, at this point, since yonder bank was shaped by the floods.
Thursday, 28th.--Thunder shower about sunrise; it continued raining until the afternoon. The shower was much needed, and every one is rejoicing over the plentiful supply.
Walked in the afternoon, though the sky was still cloudy and threatening. Obliged to follow the highway, for the woods are damp and dripping, and the grass matted after the heavy rain. But our walk proved very pleasant: It is not always those who climb in search of a commanding position, nor those who diverge from the beaten track at the beck of truant fancy, who meet with the most enjoyment. The views beneath a sober sky were still beautiful. The village lay reflected in the clear, gray waters, as though it had nothing else to do this idle afternoon but to smile upon its own image in the lake; while the valley beyond, the upland farms of Highborough, opposite, and the wooded hills above us, were all rich in the luxuriant greens and showery freshness of June. Many crows were stirring; some passing over us with their heavy flight, while others were perched on the blasted hemlocks just within the verge of the wood. They are very partial to this eastern hill; it is a favorite haunt of theirs at all seasons. Many of the lesser birds were also flitting about, very busy, and very musical after the rainy morning; they make great havoc among the worms and insects at such times, and one fancies that they sing more sweetly of a still evening, after a showery day, than at other moments. Some of the goldfinches, wrens, song-sparrows, and blue-birds, seemed to surpass themselves as they sat perched on the rails of the fences, or upon the weeds by the road-side.
There was scarcely a breath of air stirring. The woods lay in calm repose after the grateful shower, and large rain-drops were gathered in clusters on the plants. The leaves of various kinds receive the water very differently: some are completely bathed, showing a smooth surface of varnished green from stem to point--like the lilac of the garden, for instance;--on others, like the syringa, the fluid lies in flattened transparent drops, taking an emerald color from the leaf on which they rest; while the rose and the honeysuckle wear those spherical diamond-like drops, sung by poets, and sipped by fairies. The clover also, rose among the grasses, wears her crystals as prettily as the queen of the garden. Of course, it is the different texture of the leaves which produces this very pleasing effect.
Friday, 29th.--Very pleasant. Sunshine, with a warm mist on the hills; most beautiful effects of light and shade playing about the valley.
The sweet-briar is now in full blossom. It is one of the pleasantest shrubs in the whole wide world. With us it is not so very common as in most of the older counties, growing chiefly at intervals along the road-side, and in fields which border the highways. One never sees it in the woods, with the wild roses, and other brambles. The question as to its origin is considered as settled, I believe, by botanists, and, although thoroughly naturalized in most parts of the country, we cannot claim it as a native.
That old worthy, Captain Gosnold, the first Englishman who set foot in New England, landed on Cape Cod, as far back as 1602; he then proceeded to Buzzard Bay, and took up his quarters, for a time, in the largest of the Elizabeth Islands, where the first building, raised by English bands in that part of the continent, was put together. The object of his voyage was to procure a cargo of the sassafras root, which, at that time, was in high repute for medicinal purposes, and a valuable article of commerce. In relating his voyage, besides the sassafras which he found there in abundance, he mentions other plants which he had observed: the thorn, honeysuckle, wild pea, strawberries, raspberries, and grape-vines, all undoubtedly natives; but he also names the eglantine, or sweet-briar, and the tansy, both of which are generally looked upon as naturalized on this continent. Perhaps the worthy captain had his head so full of sassafras, as to care little for the rest of the vegetation, and he may have mis- taken the wild rose for the eglantine, and some other plant for tansy. His wild pea was probably one of our common vetches.
Some of the most beautiful sweet-briars in the world are found growing wild along the road-sides about Fishkill, on the Hudson. They are partial to the neighborhood of the cedars which are common there, and clinging to those trees, they climb over them, untrained, to the height of twenty feet or more. When in flower the effect is very beautiful, their star-like blossoms resting on the foliage of the cedars, which is usually, so dark and grave.