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is worried by cranes and wild geese, had sung all the night as if nothing and noxious weeds, thistles, and wild had happened; the dense foliage of the oats, by mildew, wolves, mice, moles, magnolias must have shielded them. wcevils, and harvesting ants, which In the south of Italy such storms “fearful of an indigent old age” take rarely occur ; Virgil's experience of a toll upon his store. Also he thinks them doubtless dated from his Manthat he loses somehow by toads, io tuau farming days, as he seems to sugwhich he is mistaken. Furthermore, gest by the personal note which be drought affects his crops, and if not brings into the description. drought, then thunderstorms bringing There is much in the “Georgics” the horrid hail which rattles and dances about the intelligent care needed in on the roof, and ill can the vine-leaves cultivating the vines, though the vineprotect the grapes against it. A tre- dresser of those days had not to be mendous wiud blows up, tearing the constantly abroad with his sulphurcorn from the ground, and whirling it sprinkler and with the host of chemical in the air ; rain follows, a solid black messes on which his successor depends bank of water which, when it bursts, in striving with diseases then undreamt washes away the crops and blots out in of. Nor do the olives appear to have a few minutes the patient toil of the been subject to the decay (though it is year. Virgil must have seen that sight an old disease) which necessitates lopoften in northern Italy, where the cold ping and excision, leaving the tree air from the Alps meets the bot exhala- saved but maimed. The ground round tions from the Po, in one spot or an- the trunks was broken up by the other, with fearful consequences, on plough, but the practice came in later almost every summer day. No one can of enriching it with rags, unfragrant tell what it is who has not seen it ; bales of which, of Oriental origin, disouce, on the evening of such a storm, turb the nerves of the sanitary reformer all our peasants at Rovato were eating in his holiday on the Riviera. What small birds, sixty of which had been Lucretius so plainly foretold has come found killed. Another time, I went to to pass : the virgin soil yielded abunRoccafranca, the day after a temporale dantly if only scratched, but every genwhich will be remembered for years ; eration has a heavier toil in supplying the factor and his wife described to me that which has been taken away. how they had watched the crashing If the plants of the earth were healthdownfall of hail, consisting of large ier and more vigorous in Virgil's time pieces of jagged ice, for ten minutes ; than they are now, no modern cattlenot more. Theu it ceased, the thun- blight was ever more destructive than der grew faint, and they went out to the very horrible rinderpest or influsee acres on acres of hay ready for the enza recorded in the third “Georgic.” scythe ironed as flat as though a steam Some commentators have thought that roller had passed over it, while the Virgil introduced this episode because swelling wheat ears, severed with a Lucretius had made similar use of the certain neatness from their stalks, plague of Athens. It can hardly be were scattered in all directions. “We doubted, however, that it was based on cried,” they said. It was not their the tradition or recollection of a real loss, it was ours ; but they had wit- fact. The disease took the form of a nessed the patient human labor be- mysterious malarious epidemic, coming stowed upon these fields where there with unseasonably warm weather, and would be no harvest, and the tragedy affecting even the fishes, as influenza of the thing struck them more keenly in the first year of its appearance than it did me. " And the nightin- affected the trout and carpioni of the gales ?" I asked ; for a pair of night- Lake of Garda. There is one touch in iugales nest every year close to the the narrative of which every one has house, arriving on the same day in felt the pathos though not every one March. The nightingales, I was told, has recognized the truth - I mean the
reference to the ox that mourns for its | If Hesiod's cry was "+ Work, work, yoke-fellow and loses spirit and pines work,” Virgil added, “Yes, and in away. Our bifolco bears out Virgil's that work you will find the best return correctness. Nor is it strange, if we that human existence can give." The come to think of it; the effect of sor- “Georgics" is a bymu to labor. If row or even of dulness on animals as rightly read, we see in it also a hymn to on savages, when they feel it, is far more patriotism. The old connectiou befatal than it is on civilized man. The tween the love of the land and the love many stories of dogs and birds that of our land which is so near the root of died of grief may well be true, as most the matter, and which yet is so far people can recall some instance to the fron the thoughts of the town-bred or point. I knew a parrot which hopped uomadic politicians who are inclined to into the room where its master lay claim a monopoly of the patriotism of dead (he was an old French physi- the nineteenth century, was to Virgil cian); after looking at him for some an absolutely real fact. Man in his time, it hopped back again to its perch, simplicity gets to love the familiar fearefused food, and in three days was tures of the landscape round him as dead. Self starvation is not always he loves the familiar faces which he necessary; the Maories die when they saw when he was a child. Then steps determine that they have lived long in the reflection, “ Here my fathers enough, even if forced to eat. There died, and here my children will live is probably a psychological state of when I am dead ;” and to this, again, passive abandonment which kills very is added, if he have even the smallest soon, but it is hardly ever reached by piece of ground which he calls his man when he ceases to be primitive, own, the immeasurably strong instinct except when his vitality is lowered by shared by all creatures, to defend their illness and he“ gives himself up for own nest, their owu lair, against all lost” – the results of which every doc- comers. This is the beginning of tor knows.
patriotism, and though it may be called Apart from that great epidemic, it narrow or selfish, it was as good a thing would appear that animals were as for a man to think of his country thus liable to suffer then as now ; life had as to think of her as a scantily dressed even, says the poet, entailed our mis- female figure on a monument. Virgil fortuues on the bees, of which he gives himself combined the pride of empire a deplorable account in their sick con- in its loftiest sense with the strong dition. The “ Georgics" is one of the primitive love of his birth-land which most faultless of poems; but perhaps a he had inherited from his yeoman forereader here and there has privately fathers. The inspired Vates of the regretted that so much stress is laid Roman race, he was yet an Italian upon the details of these animal first; he was indeed the first poet of plagues. But Virgil was resolved not an Uuited Italy. to soften any of the lines of his pic- “ Rich in crops and rich in heroes," ture, not to “ retouch” the photograph ; so he described his country, and he was it was a matter of conscence with him contented to sing of crops and of heto be sincere. In spite of drawbacks, roes. He was quite as serious about he deliberately held that the proprietor the first as about the last, quite as sure of a moderate-sized estate (he objected of the majesty of the argument.
He to a large acreage) was a person greatly called the husbandman the prop of the to be envied. Happy the husband. State. The story that he wrote the man if he only knew it !” Life is best |“Georgics" at the request of Mecenas judged by its compensations, and of with the fixed purpose of attaching recompensations, both on the lower and tired soldiers to the land awarded to the higher plane, the agriculturist has them is not likely to be true ; but the more than the followers of other call- appearance of the work was much more ings. His work is its own reward. 'than a mere literary eveut. Its suc
was immediate and immense. ( this sort of unsentimental taste in Augustus had it read to him four times country concerns that “Il cantor dei running. Though Hesiod was vener- bucolici carmi” found an appreciation, ated by all generations of Greeks, it is not only fervid, but also intelligent and not possible to imagine him writing his sympathetically critical. “ Book of Days” in the age of Peri- EVELYN MARTINENGO CESARESCO. cles. That he was archaic was reason why they admired him. It pleased them to picture their remote ancestors being instructed by the rude
From Nature. old poet in
AUSTRALIA OF LONG AGO.
The physical conditions of the counPloughing and sowing and rural affairs,
try during the period of the Diprotodon, Rural economy, rural astronomy,
Nototherium, and associated fauna, Homely morality, labor and thrift.
differed materially from that which But their affection for these excellent now subsists, for the structure of the things became, little by little, somewhat larger quadrupeds would render them platonic. While the esthetic aspects incapable of obtaining a subsistence of a country life always appealed to from the short herbage now existing in the Greeks they were not wrought (if the same localities, and it is evident we except Xenophon) to much enthu- that their food was of a large succulent siasm by its practical duties. On the growth, such as is found only in moist other hand, Virgil found an audience climates and marshy land or lake marnot only ready to admire his work as a gins. This view is also supported by great poem, but also to take a lively the fact that on the Darling Downs and interest in it as a farm manual. Nor Peak Downs the associated fossils inhas this engrained Italian interest included crocodile and turtle, so that agricultural operations ever died out. what are now open, grassy plains must There is, for instance, a month in the have been lakes or swamps, into which year when the most highly educated the streams from the adjacent basaltic Italians in Lombardy think by day and hills flowed, and, gradually filling the dream by night of silkworms. Some hollows with detritus, formed level years ago I called in June on the doyen plains. That this gradual filling up of of Italian literature, Cesare Cantù. lakes actually occurred is shown by the The delightful old man greeted me beds of drift which are found in sinkwith his charming cordiality, and began ing wells and in sections exposed by to show me the books which lined his erosion of water-courses ; but in all pleasant apartment in the Via Morigi these instances there is evidence that (Milan), but before long came the in- the ancient rainfall was excessive, as evitable question, “E come vanno ieven our present wettest seasons are bachi ?" and literary conversation had inadequate to the removal of the quanto retreat from the field. More recently tities of drift which have been the I was at Athens at the same season. result of a single flood in the ancient I had been conversing with the Italian period. On the ridges around the minister about the Acropolis Museum, lakes there existed a forest growth, as Eleusis, Marathon, when he exclaimed many species of opossum have left with a look of ecstatic pride, “ Come their bones as evidence; but the timand see my cocoons ! ” The “ ruling ber evidently differed from the present passion ” had induced him to educate scanty growth of eucalypti. Whether (as the Italian phrase is) a quantity of the same abundant rainfall extended silkworms in the centre of Athens, and far into the western interior is uncerthere were the cocoons, the finest I tain, but the rivers evidently mainever saw, neatly arranged on tables in tained a luxuriant vegetation adapted the lower quarters of the Italian Lega- to the sustenance of these gigantic tion. It was among people who had l animals, as the discovery of a nearly
complete skeletou of Diprotodon onbury River on the east coast, Port the shore of Lake Mulligan, in South Darwin and Cambridge Gulf on the Australia, shows that these animals north-west, and the Pallinup River on lived in this locality, as it is not prob- the south-west of the continent may be able that their bodies could have floated cited as examples. Thus Australia, down the Great River which drained after its first appearance in the form of the interior of the continent through a group of small islands on the east, Lake Eyre.
and a larger island on the west, was It is evident that the climate gradu- raised at the close of the Palæozoic ally became dryer, that the rivers nearly period into a continent of at least ceased their flow, and the lakes and double its present arca, including marshes became dry land, while the Papua, and with a mountain range of vegetation was reduced to short grasses great altitude. In the Mesozoic times, that no longer sutřiced for the subsist- after a grand growth of vegetation ence of the huge Diprotodon and gigan- which formed its coal beds, it was destic kangaroo, though some of the tined to be almost entirely submerged smaller may still survive to keep com- in the Cretaceous sea, but was again pany with the dingo, who, while he resuscitated in the Tertiary period with left the impressions of his teeth in the the geographical form it now presents. bones of the Diprotodon, has shown a Thus its climate at the time of this greater facility for adapting himself to last elevation maintained a magnificent altered conditions. It was in these system of rivers, which drained the days that some of the rivers flowing interior into Spencer's Gulf, but the direct to the coast cut through the gradual decrease in rainfall has dried sandstones into the softer shales be- up these watercourses, and their chan. neath, and by their erosion formed nels have been nearly obliterated, and considerable valleys bounded by rocky the country changed from one of great cliffs, and when the land was subse- fertility to a comparatively desert inte. quently depressed the sea flowed in rior which can only be partially reand formed inlets, of which Sydney claimed by the deep boring of artesian Harbor and the entrance to the Hawkes. wells.
METROPOLITAN OPEN SPACES. The Field enclosure was famous in the history places opened during a year for the health of London, and appears in many records and recreation of the people make a long formerly as a place of waste and disorder list. Most of them are old churchyards till, for the peace and safety of the neighand burial-grounds, which form safe and borhood, it was enclosed and railed in. useful recreation-grounds for their neigh- For some years the place has been occaborhoods, especially for the young. In not sionally opened during vacation times at a few there are historical memorials, which the Law Courts, but is now thrown open are in most cases preserved. Two of the for all in every season. The provision of latest spaces opened for public use are regular park-keepers is necessary for peace Lincoln's Inn Fields, and the ground in and order. One memorable incident conTottenham Court Road near the Taber-nected with Lincoln's Inn Fields in the old nacle where Whitfield's preaching was once time is that Lord William Russell, the famous, and whose name consecrates the patriot, was executed there by the express ground, opened with so much ceremony by order of King James II., that his execution Sir John Hutton when chairman of the might be seen from his house in Bloomslast County Council. The Tabernacle site bury - a strange illustration of the changes is redolent of evangelistic memories, from in London during two centuries since that the days of Toplady and Whitfield to the time. middle of our century. The Lincoln's Inn |
No. 2659. - June 22, 1895.
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