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Then came the jolly Sommer being dight
In a thin silken cassock, colourM greene,
That was unlyned all, to be more light;
And on his head a girland well beseene
He wore, from which as he had chauffed been
The sweat did drop ; and in his hand he bore
A bowe and shaftes, as he in forrest greene
Had hunted late the libbard or the bore
And now would bathe his limbes with labour heated sore.
June is really in this climate what the poets represent May to be, the most lovely month in the year. Summer is commenced and warm weather thoroughly established; yet the heats rarely arise to excess, or interrupt the enjoyment of those pleasures which the scenes of nature at this time afford. The trees are in their fullest dress, and a profusion of the gayest flowers is everywhere scattered around, which put on all their beauty just before they are cut down by the scythe, or withered by the heat.
Soft copious showers are extremely welcome towards the beginning of this month, to forward the growth of the young herbage. Such an one is thus described by Thomson.
Gradual sinks the breeze
The clouds consign their treasures to the fields;
In large effusion, o'er the freshen'd world.
The stealing shower is scarce to patter heard,
By such as wander through the forest walks,
Beneath th' umbrageous multitude of leaves.
But who can hold the shade while heaven descends
In universal bounty, shedding herbs,
And fruits, and flowers, on Nature's ample lap?
One of the earliest rural employments of this month is the shearing of sheep; a business of much importance in various parts of this kingdom, where wool, being the basis of the principal manufactures, is one of the most valuable products that the country affords. England has been for many ages famous for its breeds of sheep, which yield wool of various qualities, suited to different branches of the manufacture. The downs of Dorsetshire and other southern and western counties feed sheep, the fine short fleeces of which are employed in making the best broad cloths. The coarser wool of Yorkshire and the northern counties is used in the narrow cloths. The large Leicestershire and Lincolnshire sheep are clothed with long thick flakes, proper for the hosier's use; and every other kind is applied to some valuable purpose.
The season for sheep-shearing commences as soon as the warm weather is so far settled that the sheep may, without danger, lay aside great part of their clothing. The following tokens are laid down by Dyer in his Fleece, to mark out the proper time.
If verdant elder spreads
Before shearing, the sheep undergo the operation of washing, in order to free the wool from the foulness which it has contracted.
On the bank
Of a clear river, gently drive the flock,
His lifted head above the limpid stream,
The shearing itself is conducted with a degree of ceremony and rural dignity, being a festival as well as a piece of labour.
At last, of snowy white, the gather'd flocks
A profusion of fragrance now arises from the fields of clover in blossom. Of this plant there are the varieties of white and purple; the latter of which is sometimes called honeysuckle, from the quantity of sweet juice contained in the tube of the flower, whence the bees extract much honey. A still more exquisite odour proceeds from the beans in blossom, of which Thomson speaks in this rapturous language:—
Long let us walk
Beans and peas, which now adorn the fields with their purple flowers, belong to a large natural family of plants called the papilionaceous, or butterfly-shaped-blossomed, and also leguminous, from the pods which they bear. Most of these in our climate afford food for man or beast; of some the seeds alone are used, as of pea and bean; of others the