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out of sight, the effort with which the poor lamb contrived to keep up a sort of trot, and their mutual calls and lamentations were really so affecting, that my companion and myself, although not at all larmoyante sort of people, had much ado not to cry. We could not find a boy to carry the lamb, which was too big for us to manage ;-but I was quite sure that the ewe would not desert it, and as the dark was coming on, we both trusted that the shepherds on folding their flock would miss them and return for them, and so, I am happy to say, it proved.”
Little lamb, who made thee?
Dost thou know who made thee?
Little lamb, who made thee ?
Little lamb, I'll tell thee;
Little lamb, I'll tell thee.
Little lamb, God bless thee,
WILLIAM BLAKE, THE PAINTER
"May the 3rd. Cold, bright weather; all within doors sunny and chilly ; all without, windy and dusty. It is quite tantalising to see that brilliant sun careering through so beautiful a sky, and to feel little more warmth from his presence than one does from that of his fair but cold sister, the moon.
Even the sky, beautiful as it is, has the look of that which one sometimes sees on a very bright, moonlight night-deeply, intensely blue, with white, fleecy clouds
driven vigorously along by a strong breeze-now veiling, and now exposing the dazzling luminary around whom they sail. A beautiful sky! and in spite of its coldness a beautiful world! The effect of this backward spring has been to arrest the early flowers, to which heat is the great enemy; whilst the leaves and the later flowers, have, nevertheless, ventured to peep out slowly and cautiously in sunny places, exhibiting, in the copses and hedge-rows, a pleasant mixture of March and May. And we, poor chilly mortals, must follow, as nearly as we can, the wise example of the May blossoms, by avoiding bleak paths and open commons; following the pleasant sheltered road, where the western sun steals in between two rows of bright green elms, and the east wind is fenced off by a range of woody hills. Well, we will pursue our walk. How beautiful a mixture of flowers and leaves is in the high bank under this north hedgequite an illustration of the blended seasons of which we spoke.
“ An old irregular hedge-row is always beautiful, especially in the spring time, when the grass, and mosses, and flowering weeds mingle best with the bushes and creeping plants that overhang them. But this bank is, most especially, various and lovely. Shall we try to analyse it? First, the clinging white-veined ivy, which crawls up the slope in every direction, the masterpiece of that rich mosaic; then the brown leaves and the lilac blossoms of its fragrant namesake, the ground-ivy, which grows here so profusely; then the late, lingering primrose; then the delicate wood-sorrel; then the regular pink stars of the cranesbill, with its beautiful leaves; the golden oxlip and the cowslip “ cinquespotted;" then the blue pansy, and the enamelled wild hyacinth; then the bright foliage of the briar-rose, which comes trailing its green wreaths among the flowers ; then the bramble and the woodbine, creeping round the foot of a pollard oak, with its brown faded leaves; then the verdant moss—the blackthorn, with its lingering blossoms—the hawthorn, with its swelling buds—the bushy maple—the long stems of the hazel-and between them, hanging like a golden plume over the bank, a splendid tuft of the blossomed broom ; then, towering high above all, the tall and leafy elms. And this is but a faint picture of this hedge, on the meadow side of which sheep are bleating, and where, every here and there, a young lamb is thrusting its pretty head between the trees."
Let us now give another picture from the same accomplished writer.
May 16th.—There are moments in life when, without any visible or immediate cause, the spirits sink and fail, as it were, under the mere pressure of existence; moments of unaccountable depression, when one is weary of one's very thoughts, taunted by images that will not depart-images many and various, but all painful; friends lost or changed, or dead; hopes disappointed even in their accomplishment; fruitless regrets, powerless wishes, doubt and fear, and selfdistrust and self-disapprobation. They who have known these feelings—and who is there so happy as not to have known some of them ?—will understand why Alfieri became powerless and Froissart dull; and why even needlework, that most effectual sedative, that grand soother and composer of woman's distress, fails to comfort one to-day, I will go out into the air this cool, pleasant afternoon, and try what that will do. I fancy that exercise, or exertion
any kind, is the true specific for nervousness. Fling but a stone, the giant dies. I will go to the meadows, the beautiful meadows.
6* * * These meadows consist of a double row of small enclosures of rich grass land, a mile or two in length, sloping down from high arable grounds on either side, to a little nameless brook that winds between them, with a course which, in its infinite variety, clearness, and rapidity, seems to emulate the bold rivers of the north, of whom, far more than of our lazy southern streams, our rivulet presents a miniature likeness. Never was water more exquisitely tricksy ;-now darting over the bright pebbles, sparkling and flashing in the light with a bubbling music, as sweet and wild as the song of the woodlark ; now stretching quietly along, now giving back the rich tufts of the golden marsh-marigolds which grow on its margin; now sweeping round a fine reach of green grass, rising steeply into a high mound-a mimic promontory, whilst the other side sinks softly away, like some tiny bay, and the water flows between, so clear, so wide, so shallow, that a child might cross it
FORD'S LUTIST AND NIGHTINGALE.
without danger; now dashing through the sandbanks ; now sleeping, half hidden, beneath the alders, and hawthorns, and wild roses, with which the banks are so profusely and variously fringed, whilst flags, lilies, and other aquatic plants almost cover the surface of the stream. In good truth, it is a beautiful brook, and one that Walton himself might have sitten by and loved—for trout are there; we see them as they dart up the stream, and hear and start at the sudden plunge when they spring to the surface for the summer flies. Izaak Walton would have loved our brook and quiet meadows; they breathe the very spirit of his own peacefulness, a soothing quietude that sinks into the soul. There is no path through them, not one; we might wander a whole spring day and not see a trace of human habitation. I always have loved these meadows, so fresh, and cool, and delicious to the eye and to the tread, full of cowslips, and of all vernal flowers.
But, hark! cuckoo! cuckoo! sounds from a neighbouring tree, for these meadows are dotted with timber like a park. I have a prejudice very unpastoral and unpoetical-but I cannot help it, I have many suchagainst this harbinger of spring. His note is so monotonous, so melancholy, and then the boys mimic him; one hears cuckoo ! cuckoo!' in dirty streets, amongst smoky houses, and the bird is hated for faults not his own.
I sate listening, not to my enemy the cuckoo, but to a whole concert of nightingales, scarcely interrupted by any meaner bird, answering and vieing with each other in those short delicious strains which are to the ear as roses to the eye; those snatches of lovely sound which come across us as airs from heaven.
Pleasant thoughts, delightful associations, awoke as I listened ; and almost unconsciously I repeated to myself the beautiful story of the Lutist and the Nightingale, from Ford's 'Lover's Melancholy.' Here it is. Is there in English poetry anything finer ?
Passing from Italy to Greece, the tales
Than the old inmates to my love--my thoughts,