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Ye virgins, come, for you their latest song
The woodlands raise; the clust'ring nuts for you
The lover finds amid the secret shade;
And, where they burnish on the topmost bough,
With active vigour crushes down the tree,
Or shakes them ripe from the resigning bush.
The oak now begins to shed its acorns, and the nuts fall from the beech, both of which have the name of mast. These, in the extensive woodland tracts of the Continent, afford a plentiful food to the swine, which are allowed to range in them at this period. In England, most of the old forests are fallen to decay, but in the few that still remain in the southern parts of the island, particularly the New Forest, this annual supply of what in the primitive times constituted the chief food of man, affords a luxurious pasturage for six weeks, from about the end of September, to the hogs that are kept on the borders of the forest. In Mr. Gilpin's elegant " Remarks on Forest Scenery," there is a very entertaining account of the manners and management of the hogs during the time of their autumnal residence in the woods; from which the following account is extracted.
"The first step the swineherd takes, is to investigate some close sheltered part of the forest, where there is a conveniency of water, and plenty of oak or beech mast; the former of which he prefers when he can have it in abundance. He next fixes on some spreading tree, round the bole of which he wattles a slight, circular fence of the dimensions he wants; and covering it roughly with boughs and sods, he fills it plentifully with straw or fern.
"Having made this preparation, he collects his colony among the farmers, with whom he commonly agrees for a shilling a head, and will get together a herd of five or six hundred hogs. Having driven them to their destined habitation, he gives them a plentiful supper of acorns or beech mast, which he had already provided, sounding his horn during the repast. He then turns them into the litter, where, after a long journey, and a hearty meal, they sleep deliciously.
"The next morning he lets them look a little around them, shows them the pool or stream where they may occasionally drink, leaves them to pick up the offals of the last night's meal, and as evening draws on, gives them another plentiful repast under the neighbouring trees, which rain acorns upon them for an hour together at the sound of his horn. He then sends them again to sleep.
"The following day he is perhaps at the pains of procuring them another meal, with music playing as usual. He then leaves them a little more to themselves, having an eye, however, on their evening hours. But as their bellies are full, they seldom wander far from home, retiring commonly very orderly and early to bed.
"After this he throws his stye open, and leaves them to cater for themselves; and henceforward has little more trouble with them during the whole time of their migration. Now and then in calm weather, when mast falls sparingly, he calls them together perhaps by the music of his horn to a gratuitous meal; but in general they need little attention, returning regularly home at night, though they often wander in the day two or three miles from their stye. There are experienced leaders in all herds, which have spent this roving life before; and can instruct their juniors in the method of it. By this management, the herd is carried
home to their respective owners in such condition, that a little dry meat will soon fatten them."
On the twenty-second of September happens the autumnal equinox; that is, the sun arrives at one of the two equinoctial points, formed by the crossing of the equator and equinoctial circle, at which period the days and nights are equal all over the earth. This, as well as the vernal equinox, is generally attended with heavy storms of wind and rain, which throw down much of the fruit that yet remains on the trees.
By the end of this month the leaves of many trees lose their green colour, and begin to assume their autumnal tints; which, however, are not complete till the ensuing month.
I saw old Autumn in the misty morn
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun; Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run; To bend with apples the mossed cottage-tress,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core; To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more, And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease, For Summer has o'er-brimmed their clammy cells.
Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing-wind; Or on a half reaped furrow sound asleep,
Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,— While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
The red-breast whistles from a garden croft; And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.
September 26th.—" One of those delicious autumnal days when the air, the sky, and the earth, seem lulled into an universal calm, softer and milder even than they. We sallied forth," says Miss Mitford, "for a walk, in a mood congenial to the weather and season, avoiding by mutual consent the bright and sunny common, another gay high-road,and stealing through shady unfrequented lanes, where we were not likely to meet any one,—not even the pretty family procession which in other years we used to contemplate with so much interest —father, mother, and children returning from the wheat-field, the little ones laden with close-tied bunches of wheat-ears, their own gleanings, or a bottle and a basket which had con
tained their frugal dinner, whilst the mother would carry her babe, hushing and lulling it, and the father and an elder child
trudged after with the cradle, all seeming weary, and all happy. We shall not see such a procession to-day; for the harvest is nearly over, the fields are deserted, the silence may almost be felt, except the wintry notes of the red-breast, nature herself is mute. Tet how beautiful, how gentle, how harmonious, how rich! The has preserved to the herbage all the freshness and verdure of spring, and the world of leaves has
lost nothing of its midsummer brightness, and the harebell is on the banks, and the woodbine in the hedges, and the low furze, which the lambs cropped in the spring, has burst again into its golden blossoms.
"All is beautiful that the eye can see, perhaps the more beautiful for being shut in with a forest-like closeness. We have no prospect in this labyrinth of lanes, cross-roads, mere cart-ways, leading to the innumerable little farms into which this part of the parish is divided. Up hill or down these quiet woody lanes scarcely give us a peep at the