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being rich array'd
In garment, all of gold, downe to the ground,
In the beginning of this month, the weather is still hot, and usually calm and fair. What remained to be perfected by the influence of the sun, is daily advancing to maturity. The farmer now sees the principal object of his culture, and the chief source of his riches, waiting only for the hand of the gatherer. Of the several kinds of grain, rye and oats are usually the first ripened; but this varies according to the time of sowing; and some of every species may be seen fit for cutting at the same time.
Every fair day is now of great importance, since, when the corn is once ripe, it is liable to continual damage while standing, either from the shedding of the seeds, the depredations of birds, or sudden storms. The utmost diligence is therefore used by the careful husbandman to get it safely
housed, and labourers are hired from all quarters to hasten the work.
Poured from the villages a numerous train
This interesting scene is beheld in full perfection only in the open field countries, where the sight can at once take in an uninterrupted extent of land waving with corn, and a multitude of people engaged in the various parts of the labour. There is no prospect more pleasing than this, and which affords a more striking example of the effect of associated sentiment, in converting into a most delightful view that which, in itself considered, is certainly far inferior in variety and beauty to what is daily passed by with indifference or even disgust.
The gathering in of the harvest is a scene that addresses itself not so much to the eye as the heart, and the emotions that it gives birth to are not so much those of delight and surprise, as the satisfactory termination of anxiety, and, in consequence, benevolence to man, and gratitude to the Being who fills our stores with plenty, and our minds with gladness.
Be not too narrow, husbandmen ! but fling
In a late season, or where favourable opportunities of getting in the harvest have been neglected, the corn often suffers greatly from heavy storms of wind and rain. It is beaten down to the ground, the seeds are shed, or rotted by moisture; or if the weather continues warm, the corn grows, that is, the seeds begin to germinate and put out shoots. Grain in this state is sweet and moist; it soon spoils on keeping; and bread made from it is clammy and unwholesome.
Harvest concludes with the field peas and beans, which are suffered to become quite dry and hard before they are cut down. The blackness of the bean-pods and stalks is disagreeable to the eye, though the crop is valuable to the fanner. In England they are used as food for cattle only, as the nourishment they afford, though strong, is gross and heavy; but in most of the European countries they contribute largely to the sustenance of the lower classes.
The rural festival of harvest-home is an extremely natural one, and has been observed in almost all ages and countries. What can more gladden the heart than to see the longexpected products of the year, which have been the cause of so much anxiety, now safely housed and beyond the reach of injury?
Inwardly smiling, the proud farmer views
The rising pyramids that grace his yard,
And counts his large increase; his barns are stored,
And groaning staddles bend beneath their load.
The poor labourer, too, who has toiled in securing another's wealth, justly expects to partake of the happiness. The jovial harvest-supper cheers his heart, and induces him to begin, without murmuring, the preparations for a future harvest.
Hops, which are much cultivated in some parts of England, afford their valuable produce generally in this month. The hop is a climbing plant, sometimes growing wild in hedges, and cultivated on account of its use in the making of malt liquors. Having large long roots, they flourish best in a deep and rich soil; and are set in small hills at regular distances from each other, about five plants, and three long poles for them to run upon, being placed in each hill. They appear above ground early in the spring, and as they grow fast, have generally by the latter end of June, or the beginning of July, reached the top of the poles, which are from sixteen to twenty feet long, after which they push out many lateral shoots, and begin to flower. At this time the hop gardens make a most beautiful appearance, the poles being entirely covered with verdure, and the flowers depending from them in clusters and light festoons. The hops, which are the scaly seed-vessels of the female plants, are
picked as soon as the seed is formed; for which purpose the poles are taking up with the plants clinging to them, and the
hops picked off by women and children, after which they are dried over a charcoal fire, and exposed a few days to the air in order to take off the crispness produced by the heat; they are then
closely packed in sacks and sent to market, where they are purchased by the brewers, who employ them in giving the fine bitter flavour to their beer, which both improves its taste, and makes it keep longer than it otherwise would do. This crop is perhaps the most precarious and uncertain of any, on which account, hops are a commodity that is more the object of commercial speculation than any other. The plants are infested by grubs that harbour in their roots, and greatly delay, and sometimes entirely prevent, their shooting; and these grubs changing into flies, swarm upon and destroy the leaves and shoots of such as escaped them in their grub state: this pest is called the fin. Blights, too, of various sorts, both with and without insects, often frustrate the hope of the cultivator, and in a few days, desolate the most promising plantations. No effectual remedy has yet been found for these evils; it is