ePub 版

rose-blush, it has endowed English women in perpetuity with a rose-bloom on their cheeks.

Oleanders with single flowers grow here as luxuriantly as on Italian ruins, and rhododendrons scatter their blossoms round. All over the South grow fuchsias, sometimes climbing, sometimes erect, but always bending gracefully their heads of bell-shaped flowers; south of the Amazon, their berries are eaten by the people and esteemed a delicacy. Golden rod, the sun-flower, and gumach of the stag's horn and poison-vine varieties, (closely allied to the old shrub of Venetian commerce,) tint the glades with gold and brown from north to south, from east to west on this great continent.

Taking a brevet rank among shrubs, comes the palmetto tree with its cabbage-like bead; split up its green leaves and bleach them, and you may make of them fans, or weave the fibre into palmetto hats; while from its centre tip you may draw an edible morsel. But the glory of it is that it ranks as the emblem of a State. Lily, rose, and maple are not more the emblems of France, England, and Canada, than is palmetto of South Carolina.

We have heard how the magnolia has been cultivated for 1,200 years in China; travellers have told us how it blooms on the Himalayas, “the mountains when it is in blossom appearing as if sprinkled with snow." Yet one thinks it can no where be found in greater perfection than in the groves of South Carolina, where it bears flowers larger than a queen's crown; so luscious in smell that their presence will scent a large room, and by their very richness become sickly and overpowering. In place of Highland heath and Cornish broom there is the kalmia. Dr. Hooker has told us of a sight on the Indian mountains, of slopes covered with rose-coloured flowers; yet we think the scene will be matched by "Spurs of the Alleghanies,'ı glowing each summer with the bell-shaped blooms of the kalmia. Azaleas abound from Canada to the South. In the New World the narcotic properties of the shrub prove how closely it keeps true to the traditions of the Old. When Xenophon's soldiers marched through southern Poland on their famous retreat in Asia, they became stupified from eating wild honey which the bees had gathered from azalea-blooms ; so also, on the banks of the Savannah, its leaves and honied sweets are poisonous. In Louisiana Frenchmen called it chevrefeuille droit, or upright honeysuckle from its smell; what it loses in usefulness it gains in beauty, when seen “clothing the mountains with a robe of living scarlet.”

The warrior of the gardens is the “Spanish bayonet," which perhaps learnt the art of self-defence in Mexico in beating back Cortes and his soldiers. The Spaniards are gone, but it still grows armed cap à pie and will boldly pierce with its lance any intruder, in spite of its peaceful front of creamy flowers,

Among Druid oaks and sempiternal cedars stands the primate of the woods. Once in three generations does the century-plant burst into flower. What curious changes would the advent of its palecream-crowns record! A continent laid open to the Old World by a Genoese mariner,-a tide of avant-coureurs settling in its forests -a new republic springing into life,—and two hostile confederations fused into one. Watchman, what of the night I we might say. What will be the cry when another centenary comes round? To those of little faith the question would be as difficult as Hamlet's “ to be or not to be," but to every American, and to Englishmen of strong faith, the future is plain as an open book. We read therein, the Saxon race will be ruling the world, or rather, will have taught the world's peoples to rule themselves. LIFE IN THE WOODS.

IDE by side with “hanging-gardens” are aviary,

menagerie, and aquarium. It was impossible for a traveller on the wing to take more than a glance at each scene, but in the far north and sunny south I found naturalist friends who told me, in conversation, tales of forest experience which they had spent years in gathering. The gentleman who became my instructor in Southern ornithology and fauna, was countryman and countyman of mine, and had long been settled in South Carolina. His home was in the city of Charleston, but he seemed to make a second home in the woods as lovingly as Wilson or Audubon. He was now a thorough son of Carolina. A year or two ago he came over with his wife on a visit to England; the very morning after landing in Liverpool, the good lady urged him to return home. "Oh, let us go back to the skies of Carolina" was the burden of her song. It is not possible to have two countries; the blue skies and bright sun of an adopted land had become more attractive than memories of home and childhood-days.

What a crowded orchestra do these southern forests contain within them ! As we walk through arched cathedrals in the woods, or stand under the blooms of vine, orchid, and lotus, the air is vocal with song. Troops of birds of every hue are the singers. What gaudy little fellows are these red-birds wagging their heads,- is not yon blue-bird bright as an Italian sky; and does not this one's plumage seem to speak of amber and the pale primrose ? Perched on a bough is the oriole, called by Marylanders the Baltimore bird, because its black and yellow feathers resembled in colour the liveries in which the first Lord Baltimore clothed his servants. A gifted English writer has described the gay-plumed birds of America as the “opera-singers of creation; while our own little sober-suited minstrels are the village whildren singing their May songs and their Christmas carols.” We miss the song of thrush, blackbird, linnet and lark, and most of all the sight of our darling robinredbreast. The Indian opechee takes its place, only as a viceroy acts the part and rank of a king.

In a cache of safety a goldfinch has built its bonnie nest and is singing its pleasing song. From under kalmias and rice-grass comes the quail's soft whistle, and the cat-bird screams alarm and defiance as snake or winged intruder nears its nest. Here stalks the flamingo. In India and Jamaica, the natives have given him the title of “soldierbird,” from the resemblance which bis plumage bears to the scarlet coats of British soldiers, but in America his colours are orange. At work in the river is the belted kingfisher. We remember how the Romans gave him the name of halcyon, because tradition still older than they, said that our belted friend built his nest during the days of calm which came before and after the summer solstice. In his new-world home it is calm for him all the days of his sojourn, and when winter comes upon the streams, he takes wing for the Indies.

Dipping into blooms for honey and floral sweets the fairy humming-bird holds his kingly progress, scattering largess around him in flashing wing and gentle hum. Now sipping from the petals of the wild lemon, now sunning its jewelled wings on a myrtle-flower, peeping into purple fuchsia-bells, or hiding in the pure white seal of the lily; gathering tribute from the sunflower, seeking nectar in

the chalice of the rbododendron, or hovering near the rose-beds, this little bird-sprite wings its way, ever humming Ariel's song,

Where the bee sucks, there suck I. Like a geologist hammering the rocks for spoil, the wood-pecker is tapping tree-crusts all day long. So earnest his labours, so many the memorial chips be throws off, that Mexican peons have called him the carpenter.

Monarch of all in song is the mocking-bird. As if to make amends for his sober plumage and sparrow-like form, nature has given him a polyglot tongue. He cannot vie with blue-bird, yellow-bird, and red-bird in livery, but he excels them in song. He is quick to learn, adding to original song a song of imitation. When this forest “Reeves” is caged, and sent up into the drawing-rooms of the North, his value is almost beyond price, for in the presence of guests he will rattle off song after song ; whether it be the “Old Hundredth” or “Yankee Doodle," is to him a matter of supreme unconcern.

At dusk, comes the whoop of the crane from a solitary post in the marsh, and the cry of the night-owl is mingled with the alligator's roar. Bull-frogs chirp, while fireflies hum and spangle the darkness with coruscations of gold and flame. At noon-day over all, soars the golden eagle, emblematic of a nation's sovereignty.

It is a great sight to witness a night-hunt in the woods. How the darkies enjoy themselves !-how true to canine instincts are New World • Peppers' and 'Mustards’!-how they basten to pay their respects to Sir “Possum” and Miss “Coon," as zealously as their cousins at Charlieshope would unearth a fox, or bring to bay an otter or a badger ! A curious animal is the opossum, allied in form and habits to the kangaroo family. In spite of its hog's face and monkey's body and tail you will find it good to

« 上一頁繼續 »