Infomotions, Inc.— Volume 05: Pepacton / Burroughs, John, 1837-1921

Author: Burroughs, John, 1837-1921
Title: — Volume 05: Pepacton
Date: 2003-04-30
Contributor(s): Wiking, Paula [Translator]
Size: 369966
Identifier: etext7441
Language: en
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Rights: GNU General Public License
Tag(s): spring woods day water bees john burroughs volume pepacton project gutenberg wiking paula translator
Versions: original; local mirror; plain HTML (this file);
concordance (most frequent 100 words, etc.)
Related: Alex Catalogue of Electronic Texts

The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Writings of John Burroughs, by John Burroughs
(#8 in our series by John Burroughs)

Copyright laws are changing all over the world. Be sure to check the
copyright laws for your country before downloading or redistributing
this or any other Project Gutenberg eBook.

This header should be the first thing seen when viewing this Project
Gutenberg file.  Please do not remove it.  Do not change or edit the
header without written permission.

Please read the "legal small print," and other information about the
eBook and Project Gutenberg at the bottom of this file.  Included is
important information about your specific rights and restrictions in
how the file may be used.  You can also find out about how to make a
donation to Project Gutenberg, and how to get involved.

**Welcome To The World of Free Plain Vanilla Electronic Texts**

**eBooks Readable By Both Humans and By Computers, Since 1971**

*****These eBooks Were Prepared By Thousands of Volunteers!*****

Title: The Writings of John Burroughs

Author: John Burroughs

Release Date: February, 2005  [EBook #7441]
[This file was first posted on April 30, 2003]

Edition: 10

Language: English

Character set encoding: UTF-8


This etext was produced by Jack Eden;





I HAVE all the more pleasure in calling my book after the title of 
the first chapter, "Pepacton," because this is the Indian name of 
my native stream. In its watershed I was born and passed my youth, 
and here on its banks my kindred sleep. Here, also, I have gathered 
much of the harvest, poor though it be, that I have put in this and 
in previous volumes of my writings.

The term "Pepacton" is said to mean "marriage of the waters;" and 
with this significance it suits my purpose well, as this book is 
also a union of many currents.

The Pepacton rises in a deep cleft or gorge in the mountains, the 
scenery of which is of the wildest and ruggedest character. For a 
mile or more there is barely room for the road and the creek at the 
bottom of the chasm. On either hand the mountains, interrupted by 
shelving, overhanging precipices, rise abruptly to a great height. 
About half a century ago a pious Scotch family, just arrived in 
this country, came through this gorge. One of the little boys, 
gazing upon the terrible desolation of the scene, so unlike in its 
savage and inhuman aspects anything he had ever seen at home, 
nestled close to his mother, and asked with bated breath, "Mither, 
is there a God here?"

Yet the Pepacton is a placid current, especially in its upper 
portions, where my youth fell; but all its tributaries are swift 
mountain brooks fed by springs the best in the world. It drains a 
high pastoral country lifted into long, round-backed hills and 
rugged, wooded ranges by the subsiding impulse of the Catskill 
range of mountains, and famous for its superior dairy and other 
farm products. It is many long years since, with the restlessness 
of youth, I broke away from the old ties amid those hills; but my 
heart has always been there, and why should I not come back and 
name one of my books for the old stream?




         From a photograph by
         Herbert W. Gleason
         From a photograph by
         Herbert W. Gleason
         From a drawing by L. A.
         From a photograph by
         Herbert W. Gleason
         From a drawing by Charles
         H. Woodbury
         From a photograph by
         Herbert W. Gleason
         From a photograph by
         Clifton Johnson




WHEN one summer day I bethought me of a voyage down the east or 
Pepacton branch of the Delaware, I seemed to want some excuse for 
the start, some send-off, some preparation, to give the enterprise 
genesis and head. This I found in building my own boat. It was a 
happy thought. How else should I have got under way, how else 
should I have raised the breeze? The boat-building warmed the 
blood; it made the germ take; it whetted my appetite for the 
voyage. There is nothing like serving an apprenticeship to fortune, 
like earning the right to your tools. In most enterprises the 
temptation is always to begin too far along; we want to start where 
somebody else leaves off. Go back to the stump, and see what an 
impetus you get. Those fishermen who wind their own flies before 
they go a-fishing,--how they bring in the trout; and those hunters 
who run their own bullets or make their own cartridges,-- the game 
is already mortgaged to them.

When my boat was finished--and it was a very simple affair--I was 
as eager as a boy to be off; I feared the river would all run by 
before I could wet her bottom in it. This enthusiasm begat great 
expectations of the trip. I should surely surprise Nature and win 
some new secrets from her. I should glide down noiselessly upon her 
and see what all those willow screens and baffling curves 
concealed. As a fisherman and pedestrian I had been able to come at 
the stream only at certain points: now the most private and 
secluded retreats of the nymph would be opened to me; every bend 
and eddy, every cove hedged in by swamps or passage walled in by 
high alders, would be at the beck of my paddle.

Whom shall one take with him when he goes a-courting Nature? This 
is always a vital question. There are persons who will stand 
between you and that which you seek: they obtrude themselves; they 
monopolize your attention; they blunt your sense of the shy, half-
revealed intelligences about you. I want for companion a dog or a 
boy, or a person who has the virtues of dogs and boys,--
transparency, good-nature, curiosity, open sense, and a nameless 
quality that is akin to trees and growths and the inarticulate 
forces of nature. With him you are alone, and yet have company; you 
are free; you feel no disturbing element; the influences of nature 
stream through him and around him; he is a good conductor of the 
subtle fluid. The quality or qualification I refer to belongs to 
most persons who spend their lives in the open air,--to soldiers, 
hunters, fishers, laborers, and to artists and poets of the right 
sort. How full of it, to choose an illustrious example, was such a 
man as Walter Scott!

But no such person came in answer to my prayer, so I set out alone.

It was fit that I put my boat into the water at Arkville, but it 
may seem a little incongruous that I should launch her into Dry 
Brook; yet Dry Brook is here a fine large trout stream, and I soon 
found its waters were wet enough for all practical purposes. The 
Delaware is only one mile distant, and I chose this as the easiest 
road from the station to it. A young farmer helped me carry the 
boat to the water, but did not stay to see me off; only some calves 
feeding alongshore witnessed my embarkation. It would have been a 
godsend to boys, but there were no boys about. I stuck on a rift 
before I had gone ten yards, and saw with misgiving the paint 
transferred from the bottom of my little scow to the tops of the 
stones thus early in the journey. But I was soon making fair 
headway, and taking trout for my dinner as I floated along. My 
first mishap was when I broke the second joint of my rod on a bass, 
and the first serious impediment to my progress was when I 
encountered the trunk of a prostrate elm bridging the stream within 
a few inches of the surface.   My rod mended and the elm cleared, I 
anticipated better sailing when I should reach the Delaware itself; 
but I found on this day and on subsequent days that the Delaware 
has a way of dividing up that is very embarrassing to the 
navigator.    It is a stream of many minds: its waters cannot long 
agree to go all in the same channel, and whichever branch I took I 
was pretty sure to wish I had taken one of the others.  I was 
constantly sticking on rifts, where I would have to dismount, or 
running full tilt into willow banks, where I would lose my hat or 
endanger my fishing-tackle.   On the whole, the result of my first 
day's voyaging was not encouraging.  I made barely eight miles, and 
my ardor was a good deal dampened, to say nothing about my 
clothing.  In mid-afternoon I went to a well-to-do-looking 
farmhouse and got some milk, which I am certain the thrifty 
housewife skimmed, for its blueness infected my spirits, and I went 
into camp that night more than half persuaded to abandon the 
enterprise in the morning. The loneliness of the river, too, unlike 
that of the fields and woods, to which I was more accustomed, 
oppressed me.    In the woods, things are close to you, and you 
touch them and seem to interchange something with them;  but upon 
the river, even though it be a narrow and shallow one like this, 
you are more isolated, farther removed from the soil and its 
attractions, and an easier prey to the unsocial demons. The long, 
unpeopled vistas ahead; the still, dark eddies; the endless 
monotone and soliloquy of the stream; the unheeding rocks basking 
like monsters along the shore, half out of the water, half in; a 
solitary heron starting up here and there, as you rounded some 
point, and flapping disconsolately ahead till lost to view, or 
standing like a gaunt spectre on the umbrageous side of the 
mountain, his motionless form revealed against the dark green as 
you passed; the trees and willows and alders that hemmed you in on 
either side, and hid the fields and the farmhouses and the road 
that ran near by,--these things and others aided the skimmed milk 
to cast a gloom over my spirits that argued ill for the success of 
my undertaking. Those rubber boots, too, that parboiled my feet and 
were clogs of lead about them,--whose spirits are elastic enough to 
endure them? A malediction upon the head of him who invented them! 
Take your old shoes, that will let the water in and let it out 
again, rather than stand knee-deep all day in these extinguishers.

I escaped from the river, that first night, and took to the woods, 
and profited by the change. In the woods I was at home again, and 
the bed of hemlock boughs salved my spirits. A cold spring run came 
down off the mountain, and beside it, underneath birches and 
hemlocks, I improvised my hearthstone. In sleeping on the ground it 
is a great advantage to have a back-log; it braces and supports 
you, and it is a bedfellow that will not grumble when, in the 
middle of the night, you crowd sharply up against it. It serves to 
keep in the warmth, also. A heavy stone or other point DE 
RÉSISTANCE at your feet is also a help. Or, better still, scoop out 
a little place in the earth, a few inches deep, so as to admit your 
body from your hips to your shoulders; you thus get an equal 
bearing the whole length of you. I am told the Western hunters and 
guides do this. On the same principle, the sand makes a good bed, 
and the snow. You make a mould in which you fit nicely. My berth 
that night was between two logs that the bark-peelers had stripped 
ten or more years before. As they had left the bark there, and as 
hemlock bark makes excellent fuel, I had more reasons than one to 
be grateful to them.

In the morning I felt much refreshed, and as if the night had tided 
me over the bar that threatened to stay my progress. If I can steer 
clear of skimmed milk, I said, I shall now finish the voyage of 
fifty miles to Hancock with increasing pleasure.

When one breaks camp in the morning, he turns back again and again 
to see what he has left. Surely, he feels, he has forgotten 
something; what is it? But it is only his own sad thoughts and 
musings he has left, the fragment of his life he has lived there. 
Where he hung his coat on the tree, where he slept  on the boughs, 
where he made his coffee or broiled his trout over the coals, where 
he drank again and again at the little brown pool in the spring 
run, where he looked long and long up into the whispering branches 
overhead, he has left what he cannot bring away with him,--the 
flame and the ashes of himself.

Of certain game-birds it is thought that at times they have the 
power of withholding their scent; no hint or particle of themselves 
goes out upon the air. I think there are persons whose spiritual 
pores are always sealed up, and I presume they have the best time 
of it. Their hearts never radiate into the void; they do not yearn 
and sympathize without return; they do not leave themselves by the 
wayside as the sheep leaves her wool upon the brambles and thorns.

This branch of the Delaware, so far as I could learn, had never 
before been descended by a white man in a boat. Rafts of pine and 
hemlock timber are run down on the spring and fall freshets, but of 
pleasure-seekers in boats I appeared to be the first. Hence my 
advent was a surprise to most creatures in the water and out. I 
surprised the cattle in the field, and those ruminating leg-deep in 
the water turned their heads at my approach, swallowed their 
unfinished cuds, and scampered off as if they had seen a spectre. I 
surprised the fish on their spawning-beds and feeding-grounds; they 
scattered, as my shadow glided down upon them, like chickens when a 
hawk appears. I surprised an ancient fisherman seated on a spit of 
gravelly beach, with his back upstream, and   leisurely angling in 
a deep, still eddy, and mumbling to himself.   As I slid into the 
circle of his vision his grip on the pole relaxed, his jaw dropped, 
and he was too bewildered to reply to my salutation for some 
moments.   As I turned a bend in the river I looked back, and saw 
him hastening away with great precipitation.  I presume he had 
angled there for forty years without having his privacy thus 
intruded upon.   I surprised hawks and herons and kingfishers.  I 
came suddenly upon muskrats, and raced with them down the rifts, 
they having no time to take to their holes.  At one point, as I 
rounded an elbow in the stream, a black eagle sprang from the top 
of a dead tree, and flapped hurriedly away.    A kingbird gave 
chase, and disappeared for some moments in the gulf between the 
great wings of the eagle, and I imagined him seated upon his back 
delivering his puny blows upon the royal bird.    I interrupted two 
or three minks fishing and hunting alongshore. They would dart 
under the bank when they saw me, then presently thrust  out their  
sharp,  weasel-like  noses, to see if the danger was imminent.   At 
one point, in a little cove behind the willows, I surprised some 
schoolgirls, with skirts amazingly abbreviated, wading and playing 
in the water.    And as much surprised as  any, I am sure, was that 
hard-worked-looking housewife, when I came up from under the bank 
in front of her house, and with pail in hand appeared at her door 
and asked for milk, taking the precaution to intimate that I had no 
objection to the yellow scum that is supposed to rise on a fresh 
article of that kind.

"What kind of milk do you want?"

"The best you have. Give me two quarts of it," I replied.

"What do you want to do with it?" with an anxious tone, as if I 
might want to blow up something or burn her barns with it.

"Oh, drink it," I answered, as if I frequently put milk to that 

"Well, I suppose I can get you some;" and she presently reappeared 
with swimming pail, with those little yellow flakes floating about 
upon it that one likes to see.

I passed several low dams the second day, but had no trouble. I 
dismounted and stood upon the apron, and the boat, with plenty of 
line, came over as lightly as a chip, and swung around in the eddy 
below like a steed that knows its master. In the afternoon, while 
slowly drifting down a long eddy, the moist southwest wind brought 
me the welcome odor of strawberries, and running ashore by a 
meadow, a short distance below, I was soon parting the daisies and 
filling my cup with the dead-ripe fruit. Berries, be they red, 
blue, or black, seem like a special providence to the camper-out; 
they are luxuries he has not counted on, and I prized these 
accordingly. Later in the day it threatened rain, and I drew up to 
shore under the shelter of some thick overhanging hemlocks, and 
proceeded to eat my berries and milk, glad of an excuse not to 
delay my lunch longer. While tarrying here I heard young voices 
upstream, and looking in that direction saw two boys coming down 
the rapids on rude floats. They were racing along at a lively pace, 
each with a pole in his hand, dexterously avoiding the rocks and 
the breakers, and schooling themselves thus early in the duties and 
perils of the raftsmen. As they saw me one observed to the other, --

"There is the man we saw go by when we were building our floats. If 
we had known he was coming so far, maybe we could have got him to 
give us a ride."

They drew near, guided their crafts to shore beside me, and tied 
up, their poles answering for hawsers. They proved to be Johnny and 
Denny Dwire, aged ten and twelve. They were friendly boys, and 
though not a bit bashful were not a bit impertinent. And Johnny, 
who did the most of the talking, had such a sweet, musical voice; 
it was like a bird's. It seems Denny had run away, a day or two 
before, to his uncle's, five miles above, and Johnny had been after 
him, and was bringing his prisoner home on a float; and it was hard 
to tell which was enjoying the fun most, the captor or the 

"Why did you run away?" said I to Denny.

"Oh, 'cause," replied he, with an air which said plainly, "The 
reasons are too numerous to mention."

"Boys, you know, will do so, sometimes," said Johnny, and he smiled 
upon his brother in a way that made me think they had a very good 
understanding upon the subject.

They could both swim, yet their floats looked very perilous,--three 
pieces of old plank or slabs, with two cross-pieces and a fragment 
of a board for a rider, and made without nails or withes.

"In some places," said Johnny, "one plank was here and another off 
there, but we managed, somehow, to keep atop of them."

"Let's leave our floats here, and ride with him the rest of the 
way," said one to the other.

"All right; may we, mister? "

I assented, and we were soon afloat again. How they enjoyed the 
passage; how smooth it was; how the boat glided along; how quickly 
she felt the paddle! They admired her much; they praised my 
steersmanship; they praised my fish-pole and all my fixings down to 
my hateful rubber boots. When we stuck on the rifts, as we did 
several times, they leaped out quickly, with their bare feet and 
legs, and pushed us off.

"I think," said Johnny, "if you keep her straight and let her have 
her own way, she will find the deepest water. Don't you, Denny?"

"I think she will," replied Denny; and I found the boys were pretty 
nearly right.

I tried them on a point of natural history. I had observed, coming 
along, a great many dead eels lying on the bottom of the river, 
that I supposed had died from spear wounds. "No," said Johnny, 
"they are lamper eels. They die as soon as they have built their 
nests and laid their eggs."

"Are you sure?"

"That's what they all say, and I know they are lampers."

So I fished one up out of the deep water with my paddle-blade and 
examined it; and sure enough it was a lamprey. There was the row of 
holes along its head, and its ugly suction mouth. I had noticed 
their nests, too, all along, where the water in the pools shallowed 
to a few feet and began to hurry toward the rifts: they were low 
mounds of small stones, as if a bushel or more of large pebbles had 
been dumped upon the river bottom; occasionally they were so near 
the surface as to make a big ripple. The eel attaches itself to the 
stones by its mouth, and thus moves them at will. An old fisherman 
told me that a strong man could not pull a large lamprey loose from 
a rock to which it had attached itself. It fastens to its prey in 
this way, and sucks the life out. A friend of mine says he once saw 
in the St. Lawrence a pike as long as his arm with a lamprey eel 
attached to him. The fish was nearly dead and was quite white, the 
eel had so sucked out his blood and substance. The fish, when 
seized, darts against rocks and stones, and tries in vain to rub 
the eel off, then succumbs to the sucker.

"The lampers do not all die," said Denny, "because they do not all 
spawn;" and I observed that the dead ones were all of one size and 
doubtless of the same age.

The lamprey is the octopus, the devil-fish, of these waters, and 
there is, perhaps, no tragedy enacted here that equals that of one 
of these vampires slowly sucking the life out of a bass or a trout.

My boys went to school part of the time. Did they have a good 

"Good enough for me," said Johnny.

"Good enough for me," echoed Denny.

Just below Bark-a-boom--the name is worth keeping--they left me. I 
was loath to part with them; their musical voices and their 
thorough good-fellowship had been very acceptable. With a little 
persuasion, I think they would have left their home and humble 
fortunes, and gone a-roving with me.

About four o'clock the warm, vapor-laden southwest wind brought 
forth the expected thunder-shower. I saw the storm rapidly 
developing behind the mountains in my front. Presently I came in 
sight of a long covered wooden bridge that spanned the river about 
a mile ahead, and I put my paddle into the water with all my force 
to reach this cover before the storm. It was neck and neck most of 
the way. The storm had the wind, and I had it--in my teeth. The 
bridge was at Shavertown, and it was by a close shave that I got 
under it before the rain was upon me. How it poured and rattled and 
whipped in around the abutment of the bridge to reach me! I looked 
out well satisfied upon the foaming water, upon the wet, unpainted 
houses and barns of the Shavertowners, and upon the trees,

      "Caught and cuffed by the gale."

Another traveler--the spotted-winged nighthawk--was also roughly 
used by the storm. He faced it bravely, and beat and beat, but was 
unable to stem it, or even hold his own; gradually he drifted back, 
till he was lost to sight in the wet obscurity. The water in the 
river rose an inch while I waited, about three quarters of an hour. 
Only one man, I reckon, saw me in Shavertown, and he came and 
gossiped with me from the bank above when the storm had abated.

The second night I stopped at the sign of the elm-tree. The woods 
were too wet, and I concluded to make my boat my bed. A superb elm, 
on a smooth grassy plain a few feet from the water's edge, looked 
hospitable in the twilight, and I drew my boat up beneath it. I 
hung my clothes on the jagged edges of its rough bark, and went to 
bed with the moon, "in her third quarter," peeping under the 
branches upon me. I had been reading Stevenson's amusing "Travels 
with a Donkey," and the lines he pretends to quote from an old play 
kept running in my head:--

   'The bed was made, the room was fit,
    By punctual eve the stars were lit;
   The air was sweet, the water ran;
   No need was there for maid or man,
   When we put up, my ass and I,
   At God's green caravanserai."

But the stately elm played me a trick: it slyly and at long 
intervals let great drops of water down upon me, now with a sharp 
smack upon my rubber coat; then with a heavy thud upon the seat in 
the bow or stern of my boat; then plump into my upturned ear, or 
upon my uncovered arm, or with a ring into my tin cup, or with a 
splash into my coffee-pail that stood at my side full of water from 
a spring I had just passed. After two hours' trial I found dropping 
off to sleep, under such circumstances, was out of the question; so 
I sprang up, in no very amiable mood toward my host, and drew my 
boat clean from under the elm. I had refreshing slumber 
thenceforth, and the birds were astir in the morning long before I 

There is one way, at least, in which the denuding the country of 
its forests has lessened the rainfall: in certain conditions of the 
atmosphere every tree is a great condenser of moisture, as I had 
just observed in the case of the old elm; little showers are 
generated in their branches, and in the aggregate the amount of 
water precipitated in this way is considerable. Of a foggy summer 
morning one may see little puddles of water standing on the stones 
beneath maple-trees, along the street; and in winter, when there is 
a sudden change from cold to warm, with fog, the water fairly runs 
down the trunks of the trees, and streams from their naked 
branches. The temperature of the tree is so much below that of the 
atmosphere in such cases that the condensation is very rapid. In 
lieu of these arboreal rains we have the dew upon the grass, but it 
is doubtful if the grass ever drips as does a tree.

The birds, I say, were astir in the morning before I was, and some 
of them were more wakeful through the night, unless they sing in 
their dreams. At this season one may hear at intervals numerous 
bird voices during the night. The whip-poor-will was piping when I 
lay down, and I still heard one when I woke up after midnight. I 
heard the song sparrow and the kingbird also, like watchers calling 
the hour, and several times I heard the cuckoo. Indeed, I am 
convinced that our cuckoo is to a considerable extent a night bird, 
and that he moves about freely from tree to tree. His peculiar 
guttural note, now here, now there, may be heard almost any summer 
night, in any part of the country, and occasionally his better 
known cuckoo call. He is a great recluse by day, but seems to 
wander abroad freely by night.

The birds do indeed begin with the day. The farmer who is in the 
field at work while he can yet see stars catches their first matin 
hymns. In the longest June days the robin strikes up about half-
past three o'clock, and is quickly followed by the song sparrow, 
the oriole, the catbird, the wren, the wood thrush, and all the 
rest of the tuneful choir. Along the Potomac I have heard the 
Virginia cardinal whistle so loudly and persistently in the tree-
tops above, that sleeping after four o'clock was out of the 
question. Just before the sun is up, there is a marked lull, during 
which, I imagine, the birds are at breakfast. While building their 
nest, it is very early in the morning that they put in their big 
strokes; the back of their day's work is broken before you have 
begun yours.

A lady once asked me if there was any individuality among the 
birds, or if those of the same kind were as near alike as two peas. 
I was obliged to answer that to the eye those of the same species 
were as near alike as two peas, but that in their songs there were 
often marks of originality. Caged or domesticated birds develop 
notes and traits of their own, and among the more familiar orchard 
and garden birds one may notice the same tendency. I observe a 
great variety of songs, and even qualities of voice, among the 
orioles and among the song sparrows. On this trip my ear was 
especially attracted to some striking and original sparrow songs. 
At one point I was half afraid I had let pass an opportunity to 
identify a new warbler, but finally concluded it was a song 
sparrow. On another occasion I used to hear day after day a sparrow 
that appeared to have some organic defect in its voice: part of its 
song was scarcely above a whisper, as if the bird was suffering 
from a very bad cold. I have heard a bobolink and a hermit thrush 
with similar defects of voice. I have heard a robin with a part of 
the whistle of the quail in his song. It was out of time and out of 
tune, but the robin seemed insensible of the incongruity, and sang 
as loudly and as joyously as any of his mates. A catbird will 
sometimes show a special genius for mimicry, and I have known one 
to suggest very plainly some notes of the bobolink.

There are numerous long covered bridges spanning the Delaware, and 
under some of these I saw the cliff swallow at home, the nests 
being fastened to the under sides of the timbers,--as it were, 
suspended from the ceiling instead of being planted upon the 
shelving or perpendicular side, as is usual with them. To have laid 
the foundation, indeed, to have sprung the vault downward and 
finished it successfully, must have required special engineering 
skill. I had never before seen or heard of these nests being so 
placed. But birds are quick to adjust their needs to the exigencies 
of any case. Not long before, I had seen in a deserted house, on 
the head of the Rondout, the chimney swallows entering the chamber 
through a stove-pipe hole in the roof, and gluing their nests to 
the sides of the rafters, like the barn swallows.

I was now, on the third day, well down in the wilds of Colchester, 
with a current that made between two and three miles an hour,--just 
a summer idler's pace. The atmosphere of the river had improved 
much since the first day,--was, indeed, without taint,--and the 
water was sweet and good. There were farmhouses at intervals of a 
mile or so; but the amount of tillable land in the river valley or 
on the adjacent mountains was very small. Occasionally there would 
be forty or fifty acres of flat, usually in grass or corn, with a 
thrifty-looking farmhouse. One could see how surely the land made 
the house and its surrounding; good land bearing good buildings, 
and poor land poor

In mid-forenoon I reached the long placid eddy at Downsville, and 
here again fell in with two boys. They were out paddling about in a 
boat when I drew near, and they evidently regarded me in the light 
of a rare prize which fortune had wafted them.

"Ain't you glad we come, Benny?" I heard one of them observe to the 
other, as they were conducting me to the best place to land. They 
were bright, good boys, off the same piece as my acquaintances of 
the day before, and about the same ages,-- differing only in being 
village boys. With what curiosity they looked me over! Where had I 
come from; where was I going; how long had I been on the way; who 
built my boat; was I a carpenter, to build such a neat craft, etc.? 
They never had seen such a traveler before. Had I had no mishaps? 
And then they bethought them of the dangerous passes that awaited 
me, and in good faith began to warn and advise me. They had heard 
the tales of raftsmen, and had conceived a vivid idea of the perils 
of the river below, gauging their notions of it from the spring and 
fall freshets tossing about the heavy and cumbrous rafts. There was 
a whirlpool, a rock eddy, and a binocle within a mile. I might be 
caught in the binocle, or engulfed in the whirlpool, or smashed up 
in the eddy. But I felt much reassured when they told me I had 
already passed several whirlpools and rock eddies; but that 
terrible binocle,--what was that? I had never heard of such a 
monster. Oh, it was a still, miry place at the head of a big eddy. 
The current might carry me up there, but I could easily get out 
again; the rafts did. But there was another place I must beware of, 
where two eddies faced each other; raftsmen were sometimes swept 
off there by the oars and drowned. And when I came to rock eddy, 
which I would know, because the river divided there (a part of the 
water being afraid to risk the eddy, I suppose), I must go ashore 
and survey the pass; but in any case it would be prudent to keep to 
the left. I might stick on the rift, but that was nothing to being 
wrecked upon those rocks. The boys were quite in earnest, and I 
told them I would walk up to the village and post some letters to 
my friends before I braved all these dangers. So they marched me up 
the street, pointing out to their chums what they had found.

"Going way to Phil--  What place is that near where the river goes 
into the sea?"


"Yes; thinks he may go way there. Won't he have fun?"

The boys escorted me about the town, then back to the river, and 
got in their boat and came down to the bend, where they could see 
me go through the whirlpool and pass the binocle (I am not sure 
about the orthography of the word, but I suppose it means a double, 
or a sort of mock eddy). I looked back as I shot over the rough 
current beside a gentle vortex, and saw them watching me with great 
interest. Rock eddy, also, was quite harmless, and I passed it 
without any preliminary survey.

I nooned at Sodom, and found good milk in a humble cottage. In the 
afternoon I was amused by a great blue heron that kept flying up in 
advance of me. Every mile or so, as I rounded some point, I would 
come unexpectedly upon him, till finally he grew disgusted with my 
silent pursuit, and took a long turn to the left up along the side 
of the mountain, and passed back up the river, uttering a hoarse, 
low note.

The wind still boded rain, and about four o'clock, announced by 
deep-toned thunder and portentous clouds, it began to charge down 
the mountain-side in front of me.  I ran ashore, covered my traps, 
and took my way up through an orchard to a quaint little farmhouse.  
But there was not a soul about, outside or in, that I could find, 
though the door was unfastened;  so I went into an open shed with 
the hens, and lounged upon some straw, while the unloosed floods 
came down.  It was better than boating or fishing. Indeed, there 
are few summer pleasures to be placed before that of reclining at 
ease directly under a sloping roof, after toil or travel in the  
hot sun,  and  looking  out into the rain-drenched air and fields.  
It is such a vital yet soothing spectacle.   We sympathize with the 
earth.   We know how good a bath is, and the unspeakable 
deliciousness of water to a parched tongue.    The office of the 
sunshine is slow, subtle, occult, unsuspected;   but when the 
clouds do their work, the benefaction is so palpable and copious, 
so direct and wholesale, that all creatures take note of it, and 
for the most part rejoice in it. It is a completion, a 
consummation, a paying of a debt with a royal hand; the measure is 
heaped and overflowing. It was the simple vapor of water that the 
clouds borrowed of the earth; now they pay back more than water: 
the drops are charged with electricity and with the gases of the 
air, and have new solvent powers. Then, how the slate is sponged 
off, and left all clean and new again!

In the shed where I was sheltered were many relics and odds and 
ends of the farm. In juxtaposition with two of the most stalwart 
wagon or truck wheels I ever looked upon was a cradle of ancient 
and peculiar make,--an aristocratic cradle, with high-turned posts 
and an elaborately carved and moulded body, that was suspended upon 
rods and swung from the top. How I should have liked to hear its 
history and the story of the lives it had rocked, as the rain sang 
and the boughs tossed without! Above it was the cradle of a phœbe-
bird saddled upon a stick that ran behind the rafter; its occupants 
had not flown, and its story was easy to read.

Soon after the first shock of the storm was over, and before I 
could see breaking sky, the birds tuned up with new ardor,--the 
robin, the indigo-bird, the purple finch, the song sparrow, and in 
the meadow below the bobolink. The cockerel near me followed suit, 
and repeated his refrain till my meditations were so disturbed that 
I was compelled to eject him from the cover, albeit he had the best 
right there. But he crowed his defiance with drooping tail from the 
yard in front.  I, too, had mentally crowed over the good fortune 
of the shower; but before I closed my eyes that night my crest was 
a good deal fallen, and I could have wished the friendly elements 
had not squared their accounts quite so readily and uproariously.

The one shower did not exhaust the supply a bit; Nature's hand was 
full of trumps yet,--yea, and her sleeve too.   I stopped at a 
trout brook, which came down out of the mountains on the right, and 
took a few trout for my supper; but its current was too roily from 
the shower for fly-fishing.   Another farmhouse attracted me, but 
there was no one at home; so I picked a quart of strawberries in 
the meadow in front, not minding the wet grass, and about six 
o'clock, thinking another storm that had been threatening on my 
right had miscarried, I pushed off, and went floating down into the 
deepening gloom of the river valley.    The mountains, densely 
wooded from base to summit, shut in the view on every hand.    They 
cut in from the right and from the left, one ahead of the other, 
matching like the teeth of an enormous trap; the river was caught 
and bent, but not long detained, by them. Presently I saw the rain 
creeping slowly over them in my rear, for the wind had changed; but 
I apprehended nothing but a moderate sundown drizzle, such as we 
often get from the tail end of a shower, and drew up in the eddy of 
a big rock under an overhanging tree till it should have passed. 
But it did not pass; it thickened and deepened, and reached a 
steady pour by the time I had calculated the sun would be gilding 
the mountain-tops. I had wrapped my rubber coat about my blankets 
and groceries, and bared my back to the storm. In sullen silence I 
saw the night settling down and the rain increasing; my roof-tree 
gave way, and every leaf poured its accumulated drops upon me. 
There were streams and splashes where before there had been little 
more than a mist. I was getting well soaked and uncomplimentary in 
my remarks on the weather. A saucy catbird, near by, flirted and 
squealed very plainly, "There! there!  What did I tell you!  what 
did I tell you!  Pretty pickle!  pretty pickle! pretty pickle to be 
in!"  But I had been in worse pickles, though if the water had been 
salt, my pickling had been pretty thorough. Seeing the wind was in 
the northeast, and that the weather had fairly stolen a march on 
me, I let go my hold of the tree, and paddled rapidly to the 
opposite shore, which was low and pebbly, drew my boat up on a 
little peninsula, turned her over upon a spot which I cleared of 
its coarser stone, propped up one end with the seat, and crept 
beneath.  I would now test the virtues of my craft as a roof, and I 
found she was without flaw, though she was pretty narrow. The 
tension of her timber was such that the rain upon her bottom made a 
low, musical hum.

Crouched on my blankets and boughs,--for I had gathered a good 
supply of the latter before the rain overtook me,--and dry only 
about my middle, I placidly took life as it came.   A great blue 
heron flew by, and let off something like ironical horse laughter.  
Before it became dark I proceeded to eat my supper,--my berries, 
but not my trout.   What a fuss we make about the "hulls" upon 
strawberries!  We are hypercritical; we may yet be glad to dine off 
the hulls alone.    Some people see something to pick and carp at 
in every good that comes to them; I was thankful that I had the 
berries, and resolutely ignored their little scalloped ruffles, 
which I found pleased the eye and did not disturb the palate.

When bedtime arrived, I found undressing a little awkward, my berth 
was so low; there was plenty of room in the aisle, and the other 
passengers were nowhere to be seen, but I did not venture out.  It 
rained nearly all night, but the train made good speed, and reached 
the land of daybreak nearly on time. The water in the river had 
crept up during the night to within a few inches of my boat, but I 
rolled over and took another nap, all the same. Then I arose, had a 
delicious bath in the sweet, swift-running current, and turned my 
thoughts toward breakfast. The making of the coffee was the only 
serious problem.  With everything soaked and a fine rain still 
falling, how shall one build a fire?  I made my way to a little 
island above in quest of driftwood.  Before I had found the wood I 
chanced upon another patch of delicious wild strawberries, and took 
an appetizer of them out of hand. Presently I picked up a yellow 
birch stick the size of my arm. The wood was decayed, but the bark 
was perfect. I broke it in two, punched out the rotten wood, and 
had the bark intact. The fatty or resinous substance in this bark 
preserves it, and makes it excellent kindling. With some seasoned 
twigs and a scrap of paper I soon had a fire going that answered my 
every purpose. More berries were picked while the coffee was 
brewing, and the breakfast was a success.

The camper-out often finds himself in what seems a distressing 
predicament to people seated in their snug, well-ordered houses; 
but there is often a real satisfaction when things come to their 
worst,--a satisfaction in seeing what a small matter it is, after 
all; that one is really neither sugar nor salt, to be afraid of the 
wet; and that life is just as well worth living beneath a scow or a 
dug-out as beneath the highest and broadest roof in Christendom.

By ten o'clock it became necessary to move, on account of the rise 
of the water, and as the rain had abated, I picked up and continued 
my journey. Before long, however, the rain increased again, and I 
took refuge in a barn. The snug, tree-embowered farmhouse looked 
very inviting, just across the road from the barn; but as no one 
was about, and no faces appeared at the window that I might judge 
of the inmates, I contented myself with the hospitality the barn 
offered, filling my pockets with some dry birch shavings I found 
there where the farmer had made an ox-yoke, against the needs of 
the next kindling.

After an hour's detention I was off again.  I stopped at Baxter's 
Brook, which flows hard by the classic hamlet of Harvard, and tried 
for trout, but with poor success, as I did not think it worth while 
to go far upstream.

At several points I saw rafts of hemlock lumber tied to the shore, 
ready to take advantage of the first freshet. Rafting is an 
important industry for a hundred miles or more along the Delaware. 
The lumbermen sometimes take their families or friends, and have a 
jollification all the way to Trenton or to Philadelphia.  In some 
places the speed is very great, almost equaling that of an express 
train. The passage of such places as Cochecton Falls and "Foul 
Rift" is attended with no little danger. The raft is guided by two 
immense oars, one before and one behind. I frequently saw these 
huge implements in the driftwood alongshore, suggesting some 
colossal race of men.  The raftsmen have names of their own.  From 
the upper Delaware, where I had set in, small rafts are run down 
which they call "colts."  They come frisking down at a lively pace.  
At Hancock they usually couple two rafts together, when I suppose 
they have a span of colts; or do two colts make one horse?  Some 
parts of the framework of the raft they call "grubs;" much depends 
upon these grubs. The lumbermen were and are a hardy, virile race. 
The Hon. Charles Knapp, of Deposit, now eighty-three years of age, 
but with the look and step of a man of sixty, told me he had stood 
nearly all one December day in the water to his waist, 
reconstructing his raft, which had gone to pieces on the head of an 
island. Mr. Knapp had passed the first half of his life in 
Colchester and Hancock, and, although no sportsman, had once taken 
part in a great bear hunt there. The bear was an enormous one, and 
was hard pressed by a gang of men and dogs.   Their muskets and 
assaults upon the beast with clubs had made no impression.  Mr. 
Knapp saw where the bear was coming, and he thought he would show 
them how easy it was to dispatch a bear with a club, if you only 
knew where to strike.   He had seen how quickly the largest hog 
would wilt beneath a slight blow across the "small of the back."   
So, armed with an immense handspike, he took up a position by a 
large rock that the bear must pass. On she came, panting and nearly 
exhausted, and at the right moment down came the club with great 
force upon the small of her back. "If a fly had alighted upon her," 
said Mr. Knapp, "I think she would have paid just as much attention 
to it as she did to me."

Early in the afternoon I encountered another boy, Henry Ingersoll, 
who was so surprised by my sudden and unwonted appearance that he 
did not know east from west.  "Which way is west?"  I inquired, to 
see if my own head was straight on the subject.

"That way," he said, indicating east within a few degrees.

"You are wrong," I replied. "Where does the sun rise?"

"There," he said, pointing almost in the direction he had pointed 

"But does not the sun rise in the east here as well as elsewhere?" 
I rejoined.

"Well, they call that west, anyhow."

But Henry's needle was subjected to a disturbing influence just 
then. His house was near the river, and he was its sole guardian 
and keeper for the time; his father had gone up to the next 
neighbor's (it was Sunday), and his sister had gone with the 
schoolmistress down the road to get black birch. He came out in the 
road, with wide eyes, to view me as I passed, when I drew rein, and 
demanded the points of the compass, as above. Then I shook my sooty 
pail at him and asked for milk.  Yes, I could have some milk, but I 
would have to wait till his sister came back; after he had 
recovered a little, he concluded he could get it.  He came for my 
pail, and then his boyish curiosity appeared.  My story  interested 
him  immensely.     He  had  seen twelve summers, but he had been 
only four miles from home up and down the river : he had been down 
to the East Branch, and he had been up to Trout Brook.   He took a 
pecuniary interest in me. What did my pole cost?    What my rubber 
coat, and what my revolver?  The latter he must take in his hand; 
he had never seen such a thing to shoot with before in HIS life, 
etc.  He thought I might make the trip cheaper and easier by stage 
and by the cars.  He went to school: there were six scholars in 
summer, one or two more in winter.   The population is not crowded 
in the town of Hancock, certainly, and never will be.  The people 
live close to the bone, as Thoreau would say, or rather close to 
the stump.  Many years ago the young men there resolved upon having 
a ball.   They concluded not to go to a hotel, on account of the 
expense, and so chose a private house.  There was a man in the 
neighborhood who could play the fife; he offered to furnish the 
music for seventy-five cents.  But this was deemed too much, so one 
of the party agreed to whistle.  History does not tell how many 
beaux there were bent upon this reckless enterprise, but there were 
three girls. For refreshments they bought a couple of gallons of 
whiskey and a few pounds of sugar. When the spree was over, and the 
expenses were reckoned up, there was a shilling--a York shilling--
apiece to pay. Some of the revelers were dissatisfied with this 
charge, and intimated that the managers had not counted themselves 
in, but taxed the whole expense upon the rest of the party.

As I moved on, I saw Henry's sister and the schoolmistress picking 
their way along the muddy road near the river's bank.  One of them 
saw me, and, dropping her skirts, said to the other (I could read 
the motions), "See that man!"  The other lowered her flounces, and 
looked up and down the road, then glanced over into the field, and 
lastly out upon the river.  They paused and had a good look at me, 
though I could see that their impulse to run away, like that of a 
frightened deer, was strong.

At the East Branch the Big Beaver Kill joins the Delaware, almost 
doubling its volume. Here I struck the railroad, the forlorn 
Midland, and here another set of men and manners cropped out,--what 
may be called the railroad conglomerate overlying this mountain 

"Where did you steal that boat?" and "What you running away for?" 
greeted me from a handcar that went by.

I paused for some time and watched the fish hawks, or ospreys, of 
which there were nearly a dozen sailing about above the junction of 
the two streams, squealing and diving, and occasionally striking a 
fish on the rifts.  I am convinced that the fish hawk sometimes 
feeds on the wing.  I saw him do it on this and on another 
occasion. He raises himself by a peculiar motion, and brings his 
head and his talons together, and apparently takes a bite of a 
fish. While doing this his flight presents a sharply undulating 
line; at the crest of each rise the morsel is taken.

In a long, deep eddy under the west shore I came upon a brood of 
wild ducks, the hooded merganser. The young were about half grown, 
but of course entirely destitute of plumage.    They started off at 
great speed, kicking the water into foam behind them, the mother 
duck keeping upon their flank and rear.  Near the outlet of the 
pool I saw them go  ashore, and  I  expected they would conceal 
themselves in the woods; but as I drew near the place they came 
out, and I saw by their motions they were going to make a rush by 
me upstream.  At a signal from the old one, on they came, and 
passed within a few feet of me.  It was almost incredible, the 
speed they made.  Their pink feet were like swiftly revolving 
wheels  placed a little to the rear; their breasts just skimmed the 
surface, and the water was beaten into spray behind them.  They had  
no   need  of wings; even  the mother bird did not use hers; a 
steamboat could hardly have kept up with them.  I dropped my paddle 
and cheered. They kept the race up for a long distance, and I saw 
them making a fresh spirt as I entered upon the rift and dropped 
quickly out of sight.  I next disturbed an eagle in his meditations 
upon a dead treetop, and a cat sprang out of some weeds near the 
foot of the tree. Was he watching for puss, while she was watching 
for some smaller prey?

I passed Partridge Island--which is or used to be the name of a 
post-office--unwittingly, and encamped for the night on an island 
near Hawk's Point. I slept in my boat on the beach, and in the 
morning my locks were literally wet with the dews of the night, and 
my blankets too; so I waited for the sun to dry them. As I was 
gathering driftwood for a fire, a voice came over from the shadows 
of the east shore: "Seems to me you lay abed pretty late!"

"I call this early," I rejoined, glancing at the sun.

"Wall, it may be airly in the forenoon, but it ain't very airly in 
the mornin';" a distinction I was forced to admit. Before I had 
reëmbarked some cows came down to the shore, and I watched them 
ford the river to the island. They did it with great ease and 
precision. I was told they will sometimes, during high water, swim 
over to the islands, striking in well upstream, and swimming 
diagonally across.  At one point some cattle had crossed the river, 
and evidently got into mischief, for a large dog rushed them down 
the bank into the current, and worried them all the way over, part 
of the time swimming and part of the time leaping very high, as a 
dog will in deep snow, coming down with a great splash. The cattle 
were shrouded with spray as they ran, and altogether it was a novel 

My voyage ended that forenoon at Hancock, and was crowned by a few 
idyllic days with some friends in their cottage in the woods by 
Lake Oquaga, a body of crystal water on the hills near Deposit, and 
a haven as peaceful and perfect as voyager ever came to port in.



      "I'll show thee the best springs." 

A MAN who came back to the place of his birth in the East, after an 
absence of a quarter of a century in the West, said the one thing 
he most desired to see about the old homestead was the spring. 
This, at least, he would find unchanged. Here his lost youth would 
come back to him. The faces of his father and mother he might not 
look upon; but the face of the spring, that had mirrored theirs and 
his own so oft, he fondly imagined would beam on him as of old. I 
can well believe that, in that all but springless country in which 
he had cast his lot, the vision, the remembrance, of the fountain 
that flowed by his father's doorway, so prodigal of its precious 
gifts, had awakened in him the keenest longings and regrets.

Did he not remember the path, also? for next to the spring itself 
is the path that leads to it.  Indeed, of all foot-paths, the 
spring-path is the most suggestive.

This is a path with something at the end of it, and the best of 
good fortune awaits him who walks therein.  It is a well-worn path, 
and, though generally up or down a hill, it is the easiest of all 
paths to travel: we forget our fatigue when going to the spring, 
and we have lost it when we turn to come away.  See with what 
alacrity the laborer hastens along it, all sweaty from the fields; 
see the boy or girl running with pitcher or pail; see the welcome 
shade of the spreading tree that presides over its marvelous birth!

In the woods or on the mountain-side, follow the path and you are 
pretty sure to find a spring; all creatures are going that way 
night and day, and they make a path.

A spring is always a vital point in the landscape; it is indeed the 
eye of the fields, and how often, too, it has a noble eyebrow in 
the shape of an overhanging bank or ledge!  Or else its site is 
marked by some tree which the pioneer has wisely left standing, and 
which sheds a coolness and freshness that make the water more 
sweet. In the shade of this tree the harvesters sit and eat their 
lunch, and look out upon the quivering air of the fields. Here the 
Sunday saunterer stops and lounges with his book, and bathes his 
hands and face in the cool fountain. Hither the strawberry-girl 
comes with her basket and pauses a moment in the green shade.  The 
plowman leaves his plow, and in long strides approaches the life-
renewing spot, while his team, that cannot follow, look wistfully 
after him. Here the cattle love to pass the heat of the day, and 
hither come the birds to wash themselves and make their toilets.

Indeed, a spring is always an oasis in the desert of the fields.  
It is a creative and generative centre.  It attracts all things to 
itself,--the grasses, the mosses, the flowers, the wild plants, the 
great trees.  The walker finds it out, the camping party seek it, 
the pioneer builds his hut or his house near it.  When the settler 
or squatter has found a good spring, he has found a good place to 
begin life; he has found the fountain-head of much that he is 
seeking in this world.  The chances are that he has found a 
southern and eastern exposure, for it is a fact that water does not 
readily flow north; the valleys mostly open the other way; and it 
is quite certain he has found a measure of salubrity, for where 
water flows fever abideth not. The spring, too, keeps him to the 
right belt, out of the low valley, and off the top of the hill.

When John Winthrop decided upon the site where now stands the city 
of Boston, as a proper place for a settlement, he was chiefly 
attracted by a large and excellent spring of water that flowed 
there.  The infant city was born of this fountain.

There seems a kind of perpetual springtime about the place where 
water issues from the ground,--a freshness and a greenness that are 
ever renewed.  The grass never fades, the ground is never parched 
or frozen. There is warmth there in winter and coolness in summer.  
The temperature is equalized.  In March or April the spring runs 
are a bright emerald while the surrounding fields are yet brown and 
sere, and in fall they are yet green when the first snow covers 
them.  Thus every fountain by the roadside is a fountain of youth 
and of life.  This is what the old fables finally mean.

An intermittent spring is shallow; it has no deep root, and is like 
an inconstant friend.  But a perennial spring, one whose ways are 
appointed, whose foundation is established, what a profound and 
beautiful symbol!  In fact, there is no more large and universal 
symbol in nature than the spring, if there is any other capable of 
such wide and various applications.

What preparation seems to have been made for it in the conformation 
of the ground, even in the deep underlying geological strata!  Vast 
rocks and ledges are piled for it, or cleft asunder that it may 
find a way.  Sometimes it is a trickling thread of silver down the 
sides of a seamed and scarred precipice.  Then again the stratified 
rock is like a just-lifted lid, from beneath which the water 
issues.  Or it slips noiselessly out of a deep dimple in the 
fields.  Occasionally it bubbles up in the valley, as if forced up 
by the surrounding hills.  Many springs, no doubt, find an outlet 
in the beds of the large rivers and lakes, and are unknown to all 
but the fishes.  They probably find them out and make much of them.  
The trout certainly do.   Find a place in the creek where a spring 
issues, or where it flows into it from a near bank, and you have 
found a most likely place for trout.  They deposit their spawn 
there in the fall, warm their noses there in winter, and cool 
themselves there in summer.   I have seen the patriarchs of the 
tribe of an old and much-fished stream, seven or eight enormous 
fellows, congregated in such a place.  The boys found it out, and 
went with a bag and bagged them all.  In another place a trio of 
large trout, that knew and despised all the arts of the fishermen, 
took up their abode in a deep, dark hole in the edge of the wood, 
that had a spring flowing into a shallow part of it.   In midsummer 
they were wont to come out from their safe retreat and bask in the 
spring, their immense bodies but a few inches under water.   A 
youth, who had many times vainly sounded their dark hiding-place 
with his hook, happening to come along with his rifle one day, shot 
the three, one after another, killing them by the concussion of the 
bullet on the water immediately over them.

The ocean itself is known to possess springs, copious ones, in many 
places the fresh water rising up through the heavier salt as 
through a rock, and affording supplies to vessels at the surface. 
Off the coast of Florida many of these submarine springs have been 
discovered, the outlet, probably, of the streams and rivers that 
disappear in the "sinks" of that State.

It is a pleasant conception, that of the unscientific folk, that 
the springs are fed directly by the sea, or that the earth is full 
of veins or arteries that connect with the great reservoir of 
waters.  But when science turns the conception over and makes the 
connection in the air,--disclosing the great water-main in the 
clouds, and that the mighty engine of the hydraulic system of 
nature is the sun,--the fact becomes even more poetical, does it 
not?  This is one of the many cases where science, instead of 
curtailing the imagination, makes new and large demands upon it.

The hills are great sponges that do not and cannot hold the water 
that is precipitated upon them, but let it filter through at the 
bottom. This is the way the sea has robbed the earth of its various 
salts, its potash, its lime, its magnesia, and many other mineral 
elements.  It is found that the oldest upheavals, those sections of 
the country that have been longest exposed to the leeching and 
washing of the rains, are poorest in those substances that go to 
the making of the osseous framework of man and of the animals.  
Wheat does not grow well there, and the men born and reared there 
are apt to have brittle bones.  An important part of those men went 
downstream ages before they were born.  The water of such sections 
is now soft and free from mineral substances, but not more 
wholesome on that account.

The gigantic springs of the country that have not been caught in 
any of the great natural basins are mostly confined to the 
limestone region of the Middle and Southern States,--the valley of 
Virginia and its continuation and deflections into Kentucky, 
Tennessee, northern Alabama, Georgia, and Florida.  Through this 
belt are found the great caves and the subterranean rivers.  The 
waters have here worked like enormous moles, and have honeycombed 
the foundations of the earth.  They have  great  highways  beneath 
the  hills.  Water charged with carbonic acid gas has a very sharp 
tooth and a powerful digestion, and no limestone rock can long 
resist it.   Sherman's soldiers tell of a monster spring in 
northern Alabama,--a river leaping full-grown from the bosom of the 
earth; and of another at the bottom of a large, deep pit in the 
rocks, that continues its way under ground.

There are many springs in Florida of this character, large 
underground streams that have breathing-holes, as  it were, here  
and  there.  In  some places the water rises and fills the bottoms 
of deep bowl-shaped depressions; in other localities it is reached 
through round natural well-holes; a bucket is let down by a rope, 
and if it becomes detached is quickly swept away by the current.  
Some  of the Florida springs are perhaps the largest in the world, 
affording room and depth enough for steamboats to move and turn in 
them.  Green Cove Spring is said to be like a waterfall reversed; a 
cataract rushing upward through a transparent liquid instead of 
leaping downward through the air.  There are one or two of these 
enormous springs also in northern Mississippi,--springs so large 
that it seems as if the whole continent must nurse them.

The Valley of the Shenandoah is remarkable for its large springs.  
The town of Winchester, a town of several thousand inhabitants, is 
abundantly supplied with water from a single spring that issues on 
higher ground near by.    Several other springs in the vicinity 
afford rare mill-power.    At Harrisonburg, a county town farther 
up the valley, I was attracted by a low ornamental dome resting 
upon a circle of columns, on the edge of the square that contained 
the court-house, and was surprised to find that it gave shelter to 
an immense spring.  This spring was also capable of watering the 
town or several towns; stone  steps led  down to it at the bottom 
of a large stone basin.   There was a pretty constant string of 
pails to and from it.    Aristotle called certain springs of his 
country "cements of society," because the young people so 
frequently met there and sang and conversed; and I have little 
doubt this spring is of like social importance.  There is a famous 
spring at San Antonio, Texas, which is described by that excellent 
traveler, Frederick Law Olmsted.  "The whole river," he says, 
"gushes up in one sparkling burst from the earth, with all the 
accessories of smaller springs,--moss, pebbles, foliage, seclusion, 
etc. Its effect is overpowering. It is beyond your possible 
conception of a spring."

Of like copiousness and splendor is the Caledonia spring, or 
springs, in western New York. They give birth to a white-pebbled, 
transparent stream, several rods wide and two or three feet deep, 
that flows eighty barrels of water per second, and is alive with 
trout. The trout are fat and gamy even in winter.

The largest spring in England, called the Well of St. Winifred, at 
Holywell, flows less than three barrels per second.   I recently 
went many miles out of my way to see the famous trout spring in 
Warren County, New Jersey.  This spring flows about one thousand 
gallons of water per minute, which has a uniform temperature of 
fifty degrees winter and summer.  It is near the Musconetcong 
Creek, which looks as if it were made up of similar springs.   On 
the parched and sultry summer day upon which my visit fell, it was 
well worth walking many miles just to see such a volume of water 
issue from the ground.  I felt with the boy Petrarch, when he first 
beheld a famous spring, that "were I master of such a fountain I 
would prefer it to the finest of cities."   A large oak leans down 
over the spring and affords an abundance of shade. The water does 
not bubble up, but comes straight out with great speed, like a 
courier with important news, and as if its course underground had 
been a direct and an easy one for a long distance.  Springs that 
issue in this way have a sort of vertebra, a ridgy and spine-like 
centre that suggests the gripe and push there is in this element.

What would one not give for such a spring in his back yard, or 
front yard, or anywhere near his house, or in any of his fields? 
One would be tempted to move his house to it, if the spring could 
not be brought to the house. Its mere poetic value and suggestion 
would be worth all the art and ornament to be had.  It would 
irrigate one's heart and character as well as his acres.  Then one 
might have a Naiad Queen to do his churning and to saw his wood; 
then one might "see his chore done by the gods themselves," as 
Emerson says, or by the nymphs, which is just as well.

I know a homestead, situated on one of the picturesque branch 
valleys of the Housatonic, that has such a spring flowing by the 
foundation walls of the house, and not a little of the strong 
overmastering local attachment that holds the owner there is born 
of that, his native spring.  He could not, if he would, break from 
it.  He says that when he looks down into it he has a feeling that 
he is an amphibious animal that has somehow got stranded.  A long, 
gentle flight of stone steps leads from the back porch down to it 
under the branches of a lofty elm.  It wells up through the white 
sand and gravel as through a sieve, and fills the broad space that 
has been arranged for it so gently and imperceptibly that one does 
not suspect its copiousness until he has seen the overflow.  It 
turns no wheel, yet it lends a pliant hand to many of the affairs 
of that household. It is a refrigerator in summer and a frost-proof 
envelope in winter, and a fountain of delights the year round. 
Trout come up from the Weebutook River and dwell there and become 
domesticated, and take lumps of butter from your hand, or rake the 
ends of your fingers if you tempt them.  It is a kind of sparkling 
and ever-washed larder.  Where are the berries? where is the 
butter, the milk, the steak, the melon?  In the spring.  It 
preserves, it ventilates, it cleanses.  It is a board of health and 
a general purveyor.  It is equally for use and for pleasure.  
Nothing degrades it, and nothing can enhance its beauty.  It is 
picture and parable, and an instrument of music.  It is servant and 
divinity in one.  The milk of forty cows is cooled in it, and never 
a drop gets into the cans, though they are plunged to the brim. It 
is as insensible to drought and rain as to heat and cold.  It is 
planted upon the sand, and yet it abideth like a house upon a rock. 
It evidently has some relation to a little brook that flows down 
through a deep notch in the hills half a mile distant, because on 
one occasion, when the brook was being ditched or dammed, the 
spring showed great perturbation.  Every nymph in it was filled 
with sudden alarm and kicked up a commotion.

In some sections of the country, when there is no spring near the 
house, the farmer, with much labor and pains, brings one from some 
uplying field or wood.  Pine and poplar logs are bored and laid in 
a trench, and the spring practically moved to the desired spot. The 
ancient Persians had a law that whoever thus conveyed the water of 
a spring to a spot not watered before should enjoy many immunities 
under the state, not granted to others.

Hilly and mountainous countries do not always abound in good 
springs.  When the stratum is vertical, or has too great a dip, the 
water is not collected in large veins, but is rather held as it 
falls, and oozes out slowly at the surface over the top of the 
rock.  On this account one of the most famous grass and dairy 
sections of New York is poorly supplied with springs.  Every creek 
starts in a bog or marsh, and good water can be had only by 

What a charm lurks about those springs that are found near the tops 
of mountains, so small that they get lost amid the rocks and debris 
and never reach the valley, and so cold that they make the throat 
ache!  Every hunter and mountain-climber can tell you of such, 
usually on the last rise before the summit is cleared.  It is 
eminently the hunter's spring.  I do not know whether or not the 
foxes and other wild creatures lap at it, but their pursuers are 
quite apt to pause there to take breath or to eat their lunch.  The 
mountain-climbers in summer hail it with a shout.  It is always a 
surprise, and raises the spirits of the dullest. Then it seems to 
be born of wildness and remoteness, and to savor of some special 
benefit or good fortune.  A spring in the valley is an idyl, but a 
spring on the mountain is a genuine lyrical touch.  It imparts a 
mild thrill; and if one were to call any springs "miracles," as the 
natives of Cashmere are said to regard their fountains, it would be 
such as these.

What secret attraction draws one in his summer walk to touch at all 
the springs on his route, and to pause a moment at each, as if what 
he was in quest of would be likely to turn up there?  I can seldom 
pass a spring without doing homage to it.  It is the shrine at 
which I oftenest worship.  If I find one fouled with leaves or 
trodden full by cattle, I take as much pleasure in cleaning it out 
as a devotee in setting up the broken image of his saint.  Though I 
chance not to want to drink there, I like to behold a clear 
fountain, and I may want to drink next time I pass, or some 
traveler, or heifer, or milch cow may.  Leaves have a strange 
fatality for the spring. They come from afar to get into it.  In a 
grove or in the woods they drift into it and cover it up like snow.  
Late in November, in clearing one out, I brought forth a frog from 
his hibernacle in the leaves at the bottom. He was very black, and 
he rushed about in a bewildered manner like one suddenly aroused 
from his sleep.

There is no place more suitable for statuary than about a spring or 
fountain, especially in parks or improved fields.  Here one seems 
to expect to see figures and bending forms.  "Where a spring rises 
or a river flows," says Seneca, "there should we build altars and 
offer sacrifices."

I have spoken of the hunter's spring. The traveler's spring is a 
little cup or saucer shaped fountain set in the bank by the 
roadside.  The harvester's spring is beneath a widespreading tree 
in the fields.  The lover's spring is down a lane under a hill.  
There is a good screen of rocks and bushes.  The hermit's spring is 
on the margin of a lake in the woods.  The fisherman's spring is by 
the river.  The miner finds his spring in the bowels of the 
mountain.  The soldier's spring is wherever he can fill his 
canteen.  The spring where schoolboys go to fill the pail is a long 
way up or down a hill, and has just been roiled by a frog or 
muskrat, and the boys have to wait till it settles.  There is yet 
the milkman's spring that never dries, the water of which is milky 
and opaque.  Sometimes it flows out of a chalk cliff.  This last is 
a hard spring: all the others are soft.

There is another side to this subject,-- the marvelous, not to say 
the miraculous; and if I were to advert to all the curious or 
infernal springs that are described by travelers or others,--the 
sulphur springs, the mud springs, the sour springs, the soap 
springs, the soda springs, the blowing springs, the spouting 
springs, the boiling springs not one mile from Tophet, the springs 
that rise and fall with the tide; the spring spoken of by 
Vitruvius, that gave unwonted loudness to the voice; the spring 
that Plutarch tells about, that had something of the flavor of 
wine, because it was supposed that Bacchus had been washed in it 
immediately after his birth; the spring that Herodotus describes,--
wise man and credulous boy that he was,--called the "Fountain of 
the Sun," which was warm at dawn, cold at noon, and hot at 
midnight; the springs at San Filippo, Italy, that have built up a 
calcareous wall over a mile long and several hundred feet thick; 
the renowned springs of Cashmere, that are believed by the people 
to be the source of the comeliness of their women,--if I were to 
follow up my subject in this direction, I say, it would lead me 
into deeper and more troubled waters than I am in quest of at 

Pliny, in a letter to one of his friends, gives the following 
account of a spring that flowed near his Laurentine villa:--

"There is a spring which rises in a neighboring mountain, and 
running among the rocks is received into a little banqueting-room, 
artificially formed for that purpose, from whence, after being 
detained a short time, it falls into the Larian Lake.  The nature 
of this spring is extremely curious: it ebbs and flows regularly 
three times a day. The increase and decrease are plainly visible, 
and exceedingly interesting to observe.  You sit down by the side 
of the fountain, and while you are taking a repast and drinking its 
water, which is exceedingly cool, you see it gradually rise and 
fall.  If you place a ring or anything else at the bottom when it 
is dry, the water creeps gradually up, first gently washing, 
finally covering it entirely, and then, little by little, subsides 
again.  If you wait long enough, you may see it thus alternately 
advance and recede three successive times."

Pliny suggests four or five explanations of this phenomenon, but is 
probably wide of the mark in all but the fourth one:--

"Or is there rather a certain reservoir that contains these waters 
in the bowels of the earth, and, while it is recruiting its 
discharges, the stream in consequence flows more slowly and in less 
quantity, but, when it has collected its due measure, runs on again 
in its usual strength and fullness."

There are several of these intermitting springs in different parts 
of the world, and they are perhaps all to be explained on the 
principle of the siphon.

In the Idyls of Theocritus there are frequent allusions to springs. 
It was at a spring--and a mountain spring at that--that Castor and 
Pollux encountered the plug-ugly Amycus:--

"And spying on a mountain a wild wood of vast size, they found 
under a smooth cliff an ever-flowing spring, filled with pure 
water, and the pebbles beneath seemed like crystal or silver from 
the depths; and near there had grown tall pines, and poplars, and 
plane-trees, and cypresses with leafy tops, and fragrant flowers, 
pleasant work for hairy bees," etc.

Or the story of Hylas, the auburn-haired boy, who went to the 
spring to fetch water for supper for Hercules and stanch Telamon, 
and was seized by the enamored nymphs and drawn in. The spring was 
evidently a marsh or meadow spring: it was in a "low-lying spot, 
and around it grew many rushes, and the pale blue swallow-wort, and 
green maidenhair, and blooming parsley, and couch grass stretching 
through the marshes."  As Hercules was tramping through the bog, 
club in hand, and shouting "Hylas!" to the full depth of his 
throat, he heard a thin voice come from the water,--it was Hylas 
responding, and Hylas, in the shape of the little frog, has been 
calling from our marsh springs ever since.

The characteristic flavor and suggestion of these Idyls is like 
pure spring-water.  This is, perhaps, why the modern reader is apt 
to be disappointed in them when he takes them up for the first 
time.  They appear minor and literal and tasteless, as does most 
ancient poetry; but it is mainly because we have got to the 
fountain-head; and have come in contact with a mind that has been 
but little shaped by artificial indoor influences.  The stream of 
literature is now much fuller and broader than it was in ancient 
times, with currents and counter-currents, and diverse and curious 
phases; but the primitive sources seem far behind us, and for the 
refreshment of simple spring-water in art we must still go back to 
Greek poetry.



THERE is no creature with which man has surrounded himself that 
seems so much like a product of civilization, so much like the 
result of development on special lines and in special fields, as 
the honey-bee.  Indeed, a colony of bees, with their neatness and 
love of order, their division of labor, their public-spiritedness, 
their thrift, their complex economies, and their inordinate love of 
gain, seems as far removed from a condition of rude nature as does 
a walled city or a cathedral town.  Our native bee, on the other 
hand, the "burly, dozing bumblebee," affects one more like the 
rude, untutored savage.  He has learned nothing from experience. He 
lives from hand to mouth. He luxuriates in time of plenty, and he 
starves in time of scarcity.  He lives in a rude nest, or in a hole 
in the ground, and in small communities; he builds a few deep cells 
or sacks in which he stores a little honey and bee-bread for his 
young, but as a worker in wax he is of the most primitive and 
awkward. The Indian regarded the honey-bee as an ill omen.  She was 
the white man's fly.  In fact, she was the epitome of the white man 
himself.  She has the white man's craftiness, his industry, his 
architectural skill, his neatness and love of system, his 
foresight; and, above all, his eager, miserly habits. The honey-
bee's great ambition is to be rich, to lay up great stores, to 
possess the sweet of every flower that blooms.  She is more than 
provident. Enough will not satisfy her; she must have all she can 
get by hook or by crook. She comes from the oldest country, Asia, 
and thrives best in the most fertile and long-settled lands.

Yet the fact remains that the honey-bee is essentially a wild 
creature, and never has been and cannot be thoroughly domesticated.  
Its proper home is the woods, and thither every new swarm counts on 
going; and thither many do go in spite of the care and watchfulness 
of the bee-keeper.  If the woods in any given locality are 
deficient in trees with suitable cavities, the bees resort to all 
sorts of makeshifts; they go into chimneys, into barns and 
outhouses, under stones, into rocks, etc.  Several chimneys in my 
locality with disused flues are taken possession of by colonies of 
bees nearly every season. One day, while bee-hunting, I developed a 
line that went toward a farmhouse where I had reason to believe no 
bees were kept.  I followed it up and questioned the farmer about 
his bees.  He said he kept no bees, but that a swarm had taken 
possession of his chimney, and another had gone under the 
clapboards in the gable end of his house. He had taken a large lot 
of honey out of both places the year before.  Another farmer told 
me that one day his family had seen a number of bees examining a 
knothole in the side of his house; the next day, as they were 
sitting down to dinner, their attention was attracted by a loud 
humming noise, when they discovered a swarm of bees settling upon 
the side of the house and pouring into the knothole. In subsequent 
years other swarms came to the same place.

Apparently, every swarm of bees, before it leaves the parent hive, 
sends out exploring parties to look up the future home.  The woods 
and groves are searched through and through, and no doubt the 
privacy of many a squirrel and many a wood-mouse is intruded upon.  
What cozy nooks and retreats they do spy out, so much more 
attractive than the painted hive in the garden, so much cooler in 
summer and so much warmer in winter!

The bee is in the main an honest citizen: she prefers legitimate to 
illegitimate business; she is never an outlaw until her proper 
sources of supply fail; she will not touch honey as long as honey-
yielding flowers can be found; she always prefers to go to the 
fountain-head, and dislikes to take her sweets at second hand.  But 
in the fall, after the flowers have failed, she can be tempted.  
The bee-hunter takes advantage of this fact; he betrays her with a 
little honey.  He wants to steal her stores, and he first 
encourages her to steal his, then follows the thief home with her 
booty. This is the whole trick of the bee-hunter.  The bees never 
suspect his game, else by taking a circuitous route they could 
easily baffle him.  But the honey-bee has absolutely no wit or 
cunning outside of her special gifts as a gatherer and storer of 
honey.  She is a simple-minded creature, and can be imposed upon by 
any novice.  Yet it is not every novice that can find a bee-tree.  
The sportsman may track his game to its retreat by the aid of his 
dog, but in hunting the honey-bee one must be his own dog, and 
track his game through an element in which it leaves no trail.  It 
is a task for a sharp, quick eye, and may test the resources of the 
best woodcraft.  One autumn, when I devoted much time to this 
pursuit, as the best means of getting at nature and the open-air 
exhilaration, my eye became so trained that bees were nearly as 
easy to it as birds.  I saw and heard bees wherever I went. One 
day, standing on a street corner in a great city, I saw above the 
trucks and the traffic a line of bees carrying off sweets from some 
grocery or confectionery shop.

One looks upon the woods with a new interest when he suspects they 
hold a colony of bees. What a pleasing secret it is,--a tree with a 
heart of comb honey, a decayed oak or maple with a bit of Sicily or 
Mount Hymettus stowed away in its trunk or branches; secret 
chambers where lies hidden the wealth of ten thousand little 
freebooters, great nuggets and wedges of precious ore gathered with 
risk and labor from every field and wood about!

But if you would know the delights of bee-hunting, and how many 
sweets such a trip yields besides honey, come with me some bright, 
warm, late September or early October day.  It is the golden season 
of the year, and any errand or pursuit that takes us abroad upon 
the hills or by the painted woods and along the amber-colored 
streams at such a time is enough.  So, with haversacks filled with 
grapes and peaches and apples and a bottle of milk,--for we shall 
not be home to dinner,--and armed with a compass, a hatchet, a 
pail, and a box with a piece of comb honey neatly fitted into it,--
any box the size of your hand with a lid will do nearly as well as 
the elaborate and ingenious contrivance of the regular bee-hunter,--
we sally forth. Our course at first lies along the highway under 
great chestnut-trees whose nuts are just dropping, then through an 
orchard and across a little creek, thence gently rising through a 
long series of cultivated fields toward some high uplying land 
behind which rises a rugged wooded ridge or mountain, the most 
sightly point in all this section.  Behind this ridge for several 
miles the country is wild, wooded, and rocky, and is no doubt the 
home of many swarms of wild bees. What a gleeful uproar the robins, 
cedar-birds, high-holes, and cow blackbirds make amid the black 
cherry-trees as we pass along!  The raccoons, too, have been here 
after black cherries, and we see their marks at various points.  
Several crows are walking about a newly sowed wheat-field we pass 
through, and we pause to note their graceful movements and glossy 
coats.  I have seen no bird walk the ground with just the same air 
the crow does.  It is not exactly pride; there is no strut or 
swagger in it, though perhaps just a little condescension; it is 
the contented, complaisant, and self-possessed gait of a lord over 
his domains.  All these acres are mine, he says, and all these 
crops; men plow and sow for me, and I stay here or go there, and 
find life sweet and good wherever I am.  The hawk looks awkward and 
out of place on the ground; the game-birds hurry and skulk; but the 
crow is at home, and treads the earth as if there were none to 
molest or make him afraid.

The crows we have always with us, but it is not every day or every 
season that one sees an eagle.  Hence I must preserve the memory of 
one I saw the last day I went bee-hunting.  As I was laboring up 
the side of a mountain at the head of a valley, the noble bird 
sprang from the top of a dry tree above me and came sailing 
directly over my head.  I saw him bend his eye down upon me, and I 
could hear the low hum of his plumage as if the web of every quill 
in his great wings vibrated in his strong, level flight.  I watched 
him as long as my eye could hold him.  When he was fairly clear of 
the mountain, he began that sweeping spiral movement in which he 
climbs the sky.  Up and up he went, without once breaking his 
majestic poise, till he appeared to sight some far-off alien 
geography, when he bent his course thitherward and gradually 
vanished in the blue depths. The eagle is a bird of large ideas; he 
embraces long distances; the continent is his home. I never look 
upon one without emotion; I follow him with my eye as long as I 
can. I think of Canada, of the Great Lakes, of the Rocky Mountains, 
of the wild and sounding seacoast.  The waters are his, and the 
woods and the inaccessible cliffs.  He pierces behind the veil of 
the storm, and his joy is height and depth and vast spaces.

We go out of our way to touch at a spring run in the edge of the 
woods, and are lucky to find a single scarlet lobelia lingering 
there.  It seems almost to light up the gloom with its intense bit 
of color.  Beside a ditch in a field beyond, we find the great blue 
lobelia, and near it, amid the weeds and wild grasses and purple 
asters, the most beautiful of our fall flowers, the fringed 
gentian.  What a rare and delicate, almost aristocratic look the 
gentian has amid its coarse, unkempt surroundings!- It does not 
lure the bee, but it lures and holds every passing human eye.  If 
we strike through the corner of yonder woods, where the ground is 
moistened by hidden springs, and where there is a little opening 
amid the trees, we shall find the closed gentian, a rare flower in 
this locality.  I had walked this way many times before I chanced 
upon its retreat, and then I was following a line of bees.  I lost 
the bees, but I got the gentians.  How curious this flower looks 
with its deep blue petals folded together so tightly,--a bud and 
yet a blossom!  It is the nun among our wild flowers,--a form 
closely veiled and cloaked.  The buccaneer bumblebee sometimes 
tries to rifle it of its sweets.  I have seen the blossom with the 
bee entombed in it.  He had forced his way into the virgin corolla 
as if determined to know its secret, but he had never returned with 
the knowledge he had gained.

After a refreshing walk of a couple of miles we reach a point where 
we will make our first trial,--a high stone wall that runs parallel 
with the wooded ridge referred to, and separated from it by a broad 
field.  There are bees at work there on that golden-rod, and it 
requires but little manœuvring to sweep one into our box.  Almost 
any other creature rudely and suddenly arrested in its career, and 
clapped into a cage in this way, would show great confusion and 
alarm.  The bee is alarmed for a moment, but the bee has a passion 
stronger than its love of life or fear of death, namely, desire for 
honey, not simply to eat, but to carry home as booty.  "Such rage 
of honey in their bosom beats," says Virgil.   It is quick to catch 
the scent of honey in the box, and as quick to fall to filling 
itself.  We now set the box down upon the wall and gently remove 
the cover.  The bee is head and shoulders in one of the half-filled 
cells, and is oblivious to everything else about it. Come rack, 
come ruin, it will die at work.  We step back a few paces, and sit 
down upon the ground so as to bring the box against the blue sky as 
a background.  In two or three minutes the bee is seen rising 
slowly and heavily from the box.  It seems loath to leave so much 
honey behind, and it marks the place well.  It mounts aloft in a 
rapidly increasing spiral, surveying the near and minute objects 
first, then the larger and more distant, till, having circled above 
the spot five or six times and taken all its bearings, it darts 
away for home.  It is a good eye that holds fast to the bee till it 
is fairly off.   Sometimes one's head will swim following it, and 
often one's eyes are put out by the sun.  This bee gradually drifts 
down the hill, then strikes off toward a farmhouse half a mile away 
where I know bees are kept.  Then we try another and another, and 
the third bee, much to our satisfaction, goes straight toward the 
woods. We can see the brown speck against the  darker background 
for many yards.  The regular bee-hunter professes to be able to 
tell a wild bee from a tame one by the color, the former, he says, 
being lighter.   But there is no difference; they are alike in 
color and in manner.  Young bees are lighter than old, and that is 
all there is of it.  If a bee lived many years in the woods, it 
would doubtless come to have some distinguishing marks, but the 
life of a bee is only a few months at the farthest, and no change 
is wrought in this brief time.

Our bees are all soon back, and more with them, for we have touched 
the box here and there with the cork of a bottle of anise oil, and 
this fragrant and pungent oil will attract bees half a mile or 
more.  When no flowers can be found, this is the quickest way to 
obtain a bee.

It is a singular fact that when the bee first finds the hunter's 
box, its first feeling is one of anger; it is as mad as a hornet; 
its tone changes, it sounds its shrill war trumpet and darts to and 
fro, and gives vent to its rage and indignation in no uncertain 
manner.  It seems to scent foul play at once.  It says, "Here is 
robbery; here is the spoil of some hive, maybe my own," and its 
blood is up.  But its ruling passion soon comes to the surface, its 
avarice gets the better of its indignation, and it seems to say, 
"Well, I had better take possession of this and carry it home." So 
after many feints and approaches and dartings off with a loud angry 
hum as if it would none of it, the bee settles down and fills 

It does not entirely cool off and get soberly to work till it has 
made two or three trips home with its booty.  When other bees come, 
even if all from the same swarm, they quarrel and dispute over the 
box, and clip and dart at each other like bantam cocks.  Apparently 
the ill feeling which the sight of the honey awakens is not one of 
jealousy or rivalry, but wrath.

A bee will usually make three or four trips from the hunter's box 
before it brings back a companion.  I suspect the bee does not tell 
its fellows what it has found, but that they smell out the secret; 
it doubtless bears some evidence with it upon its feet or proboscis 
that it has been upon honeycomb and not upon flowers, and its 
companions take the hint and follow, arriving always many seconds 
behind.  Then the quantity and quality of the booty would also 
betray it.  No doubt, also, there are plenty of gossips about a 
hive that note and tell everything.  "Oh, did you see that? Peggy 
Mel came in a few moments ago in great haste, and one of the 
upstairs packers says she was loaded till she groaned with apple-
blossom honey, which she deposited, and then rushed off again like 
mad.  Apple-blossom honey in October!  Fee, fi, fo, fum!  I smell 
something! Let's after."

In about half an hour we have three well-defined lines of bees 
established,--two to farmhouses and one to the woods, and our box 
is being rapidly depleted of its honey.  About every fourth bee 
goes to the woods, and now that they have learned the way 
thoroughly, they do not make the long preliminary whirl above the 
box, but start directly from it.  The woods are rough and dense and 
the hill steep, and we do not like to follow the line of bees until 
we have tried at least to settle the problem as to the distance 
they go into the woods,--whether the tree is on this side of the 
ridge or into the depth of the forest on the other side.  So we 
shut up the box when it is full of bees and carry it about three 
hundred yards along the wall from which we are operating. When 
liberated, the bees, as they always will in such cases, go off in 
the same directions they have been going; they do not seem to know 
that they have been moved.  But other bees have followed our scent, 
and it is not many minutes before a second line to the woods is 
established. This is called cross-lining the bees. The new line 
makes a sharp angle with the other line, and we know at once that 
the tree is only a few rods in the woods. The two lines we have 
established form two sides of a triangle, of which the wall is the 
base; at the apex of the triangle, or where the two lines meet in 
the woods, we are sure to find the tree.  We quickly follow up 
these lines, and where they cross each other on the side of the 
hill we scan every tree closely.  I pause at the foot of an oak and 
examine a hole near the root; now the bees are in this tree and 
their entrance is on the upper side near the ground not two feet 
from the hole I peer into, and yet so quiet and secret is their 
going and coming that I fail to discover them and pass on up the 
hill. Failing in this direction, I return to the oak again, and 
then perceive the bees going but in a small crack in the tree. The 
bees do not know they are found out and that the game is in our 
hands, and are as oblivious of our presence as if we were ants or 
crickets. The indications are that the swarm is a small one, and 
the store of honey trifling.  In "taking up" a bee-tree it is usual 
first to kill or stupefy the bees with the fumes of burning sulphur 
or with tobacco smoke. But this course is impracticable on the 
present occasion, so we boldly and ruthlessly assault the tree with 
an axe we have procured. At the first blow the bees set up a loud 
buzzing, but we have no mercy, and the side of the cavity is soon 
cut away and the interior with its white-yellow mass of comb honey 
is exposed, and not a bee strikes a blow in defense of its all.  
This may seem singular, but it has nearly always been my 
experience.  When a swarm of bees are thus rudely assaulted with an 
axe, they evidently think the end of the world has come, and, like 
true misers as they are, each one seizes as much of the treasure as 
it can hold; in other words, they all fall to and gorge themselves 
with honey, and calmly await the issue.  While in this condition 
they make no defense, and will not sting unless taken hold of.  In 
fact, they are as harmless as flies.  Bees are always to be managed 
with boldness and decision. Any halfway measures, any timid poking 
about, any feeble attempts to reach their honey, are sure to be 
quickly resented.  The popular notion that bees have a special 
antipathy toward certain persons and a liking for certain others 
has only this fact at the bottom of it: they will sting a person 
who is afraid of them and goes skulking and dodging about, and they 
will not sting a person who faces them boldly and has no dread of 
them. They are like dogs.  The way to disarm a vicious dog is to 
show him you do not fear him; it is his turn to be afraid then. I 
never had any dread of bees, and am seldom stung by them.  I have 
climbed up into a large chestnut that contained a swarm in one of 
its cavities and chopped them out with an axe, being obliged at 
times to pause and brush the bewildered bees from my hands and 
face, and not been stung once.  I have chopped a swarm out of an 
apple-tree in June, and taken out the cards of honey and arranged 
them in a hive, and then dipped out the bees with a dipper, and 
taken the whole home with me in pretty good condition, with 
scarcely any opposition on the part of the bees. In reaching your 
hand into the cavity to detach and remove the comb you are pretty 
sure to get stung, for when you touch the "business end" of a bee, 
it will sting even though its head be off.  But the bee carries the 
antidote to its own poison.  The best remedy for bee sting is 
honey, and when your hands are besmeared with honey, as they are 
sure to be on such occasions, the wound is scarcely more painful 
than the prick of a pin.  Assault your bee-tree, then, boldly with 
your axe, and you will find that when the honey is exposed every 
bee has surrendered, and the whole swarm is cowering in helpless 
bewilderment and terror.  Our tree yields only a few pounds of 
honey, not enough to have lasted the swarm till January, but no 
matter: we have the less burden to carry.

In the afternoon we go nearly half a mile farther along the ridge 
to a corn-field that lies immediately in front of the highest point 
of the mountain. The view is superb; the ripe autumn landscape 
rolls away to the east, cut through by the great placid river; in 
the extreme north the wall of the Catskills stands out clear and 
strong, while in the south the mountains of the Highlands bound the 
view.  The day is warm, and the bees are very busy there in that 
neglected corner of the field, rich in asters, fleabane, and 
goldenrod.  The corn has been cut, and upon a stout but a few rods 
from the woods, which here drop quickly down from the precipitous 
heights, we set up our bee-box, touched again with the pungent oil.  
In a few moments a bee has found it; she comes up to leeward, 
following the scent.  On leaving the box, she goes straight toward 
the woods. More bees quickly come, and it is not long before the 
line is well established.  Now we have recourse to the same tactics 
we employed before, and move along the ridge to another field to 
get our cross-line.  But the bees still go in almost the same 
direction they did from the corn stout. The tree is then either on 
the top of the mountain or on the other or west side of it.  We 
hesitate to make the plunge into the woods and seek to scale those 
precipices, for the eye can plainly see what is before us.  As the 
afternoon sun gets lower, the bees are seen with wonderful 
distinctness. They fly toward and under the sun, and are in a 
strong light, while the near woods which form the background are in 
deep shadow.  They look like large luminous motes.  Their swiftly 
vibrating, transparent wings surround their bodies with a shining 
nimbus that makes them visible for a long distance. They seem 
magnified many times. We see them bridge the little gulf between us 
and the woods, then rise up over the treetops with their burdens, 
swerving neither to the right hand nor to the left.  It is almost 
pathetic to see them labor so, climbing the mountain and 
unwittingly guiding us to their treasures.  When the sun gets down 
so that his direction corresponds exactly with the course of the 
bees, we make the plunge.  It proves even harder climbing than we 
had anticipated; the mountain is faced by a broken and irregular 
wall of rock, up which we pull ourselves slowly and cautiously by 
main strength.  In half an hour, the perspiration streaming from 
every pore, we reach the summit.  The trees here are all small, a 
second growth, and we are soon convinced the bees are not here.  
Then down we go on the other side, clambering down the rocky 
stairways till we reach quite a broad plateau that forms something 
like the shoulder of the mountain. On the brink of this there are 
many large hemlocks, and we scan them closely and rap upon them 
with our axe.  But not a bee is seen or heard; we do not seem as 
near the tree as we were in the fields below; yet, if some divinity 
would only whisper the fact to us, we are within a few rods of the 
coveted prize, which is not in one of the large hemlocks or oaks 
that absorb our attention, but in an old stub or stump not six feet 
high, and which we have seen and passed several times without 
giving it a thought.  We go farther down the mountain and beat 
about to the right and left, and get entangled in brush and 
arrested by precipices, and finally, as the day is nearly spent, 
give up the search and leave the woods quite baffled, but resolved 
to return on the morrow.  The next day we come back and commence 
operations in an opening in the woods well down on the side of the 
mountain where we gave up the search.  Our box is soon swarming 
with the eager bees, and they go back toward the summit we have 
passed. We follow back and establish a new line, where the ground 
will permit; then another and still another, and yet the riddle is 
not solved.  One time we are south of them, then north, then the 
bees get up through the trees and we cannot tell where they go.  
But after much searching, and after the mystery seems rather to 
deepen than to clear up, we chance to pause beside the old stump.  
A bee comes out of a small opening like that made by ants in 
decayed wood, rubs its eyes and examines its antennæ, as bees 
always do before leaving their hive, then takes flight.  At the 
same instant several bees come by us loaded with our honey and 
settle home with that peculiar low, complacent buzz of the well-
filled insect.  Here then, is our idyl, our bit of Virgil and 
Theocritus, in a decayed stump of a hemlock-tree.  We could tear it 
open with our hands, and a bear would find it an easy prize, and a 
rich one, too, for we take from it fifty pounds of excellent honey.  
The bees have been here many years, and have of course sent out 
swarm after swarm into the wilds.  they have protected themselves 
against the weather and strengthened their shaky habitation by a 
copious use of wax.

When a bee-tree is thus "taken up" in the middle of the day, of 
course a good many bees are away from home and have not heard the 
news.  When they return and find the ground flowing with honey, and 
plies of bleeding combs lying about, they apparently do not 
recognize the place, and their first instinct is to fall to and 
fill themselves; this done, their next thought is to carry it home, 
so they rise up slowly through the branches of the trees till they 
have attained an altitude that enables them to survey the scene, 
when they seem to say, "Why, THIS is home," and down they come 
again; beholding the wreck and ruins once more, they still thinking 
there is some mistake, and get up a second or a third time and then 
drop back pitifully as before.  It is the most pathetic sight of 
all, the surviving and bewildered bees struggling to save a few 
drops of their wasted treasures.

Presently, if there is another swarm in the woods, robber bees 
appear.  You may know them by their saucy, chiding, devil-may-care 
hum.  It is an ill wind that blows nobody good, and they make the 
most of the misfortune of their neighbors, and thereby pave the way 
for their own ruin.  The hunter marks their course, and the next 
day looks them up.  On this occasion the day was hot and the honey 
very fragrant, and a line of bees was soon established south-
southwest.  Though there was much refuse honey in the old stub, and 
though little golden rills trickled down the hill from it, and the 
near branches and saplings were besmeared with it where we wiped 
our murderous hands, yet not a drop was wasted.  It was a feast to 
which not only honey bees came, but bumblebees, wasps, hornets, 
flies, ants.  The bumblebees, which at this season are hungry 
vagrants with no fixed place of abode, would gorge themselves, then 
creep beneath the bits of empty comb or fragments of bark and pass 
the night, and renew the feast next day.  The bumble-bee is an 
insect of which the bee-hunter sees much.  There are all sorts and 
sizes of them. They are dull and clumsy compared with the honeybee. 
Attracted in the fields by the bee-hunter's box, they will come up 
the wind on the scent and blunder into it in the most stupid, 
lubberly fashion.

The honey-bees that licked up our leavings on the old stub belonged 
to a swarm, as it proved, about half a mile farther down the ridge, 
and a few days afterward fate overtook them, and their stores in 
turn became the prey of another swarm in the vicinity, which also 
tempted Providence and were overwhelmed.  The first-mentioned swarm 
I had lined from several points, and was following up the clew over 
rocks and through gullies, when I came to where a large hemlock had 
been felled a few years before, and a swarm taken from a cavity 
near the top of it; fragments of the old comb were yet to be seen. 
A few yards away stood another short, squatty hemlock, and I said 
my bees ought to be there.  As I paused near it, I noticed where 
the tree had been wounded with an axe a couple of feet from the 
ground many years before. The wound had partially grown over, but 
there was an opening there that I did not see at the first glance.  
I was about to pass on when a bee passed me making that peculiar 
shrill, discordant hum that a bee makes when besmeared with honey.  
I saw it alight in the partially closed wound and crawl home; then 
came others and others, little bands and squads of them, heavily 
freighted with honey from the box.  The tree was about twenty 
inches through and hollow at the butt, or from the axe-mark down.  
This space the bees had completely filled with honey.  With an axe 
we cut away the outer ring of live wood and exposed the treasure.  
Despite the utmost care, we wounded the comb so that little rills 
of the golden liquid issued from the root of the tree and trickled 
down the hill.

The other bee-tree in the vicinity to which I have referred we 
found one warm November day in less than half an hour after 
entering the woods.  It also was a hemlock, that stood in a niche 
in a wall of hoary, moss-covered rocks thirty feet high.  The tree 
hardly reached to the top of the precipice. The bees entered a 
small hole at the root, which was seven or eight feet from the 
ground.  The position was a striking one.  Never did apiary have a 
finer outlook or more rugged surroundings.. A black, wood-embraced 
lake lay at our feet; the long panorama of the Catskills filled the 
far distance, and the more broken outlines of the Shawangunk range 
filled the rear.  On every hand were precipices and a wild 
confusion of rocks and trees.

The cavity occupied by the bees was about three feet and a half 
long and eight or ten inches in diameter.  With an axe we cut away 
one side of the tree, and laid bare its curiously wrought heart of 
honey.  It was a most pleasing sight.  What winding and devious 
ways the bees had through their palace!  What great masses and 
blocks of snow-white comb there were!  Where it was sealed up, 
presenting that slightly dented, uneven surface, it looked like 
some precious ore.  When we carried a large pailful of it out of 
the woods, it seemed still more like ore.

Your native bee-hunter predicates the distance of the tree by the 
time the bee occupies in making its first trip.  But this is no 
certain guide. You are always safe in calculating that the tree is 
inside of a mile, and you need not as a rule look for your bee's 
return under ten minutes.  One day I picked up a bee in an opening 
in the woods and gave it honey, and it made three trips to my box 
with an interval of about twelve minutes between them; it returned 
alone each time; the tree, which I afterward found, was about half 
a mile distant.

In lining bees through the woods, the tactics of the hunter are to 
pause every twenty or thirty rods, lop away the branches or cut 
down the trees, and set the bees to work again.  If they still go 
forward, he goes forward also, and repeats his observations till 
the tree is found, or till the bees turn and come back upon the 
trail.  Then he knows he has passed the tree, and he retraces his 
steps to a convenient distance and tries again, and thus quickly 
reduces the space to be looked over till the swarm is traced home.  
On one occasion, in a wild rocky wood, where the surface alternated 
between deep gulfs and chasms filled with thick, heavy growths of 
timber, and sharp, precipitous, rocky ridges like a tempest-tossed 
sea, I carried my bees directly under their tree, and set them to 
work from a high, exposed ledge of rocks not thirty feet distant. 
One would have expected them under such circumstances to have gone 
straight home, as there were but few branches intervening, but they 
did not; they labored up through the trees and attained an altitude 
above the woods as if they had miles to travel, and thus baffled me 
for hours.  Bees will always do this.  They are acquainted with the 
woods only from the top side, and from the air above; they 
recognize home only by landmarks here, and in every instance they 
rise aloft to take their bearings.  Think how familiar to them the 
topography of the forest summits must be,--an umbrageous sea or 
plain where every mark and point is known.

Another curious fact is that generally you will get track of a bee-
tree sooner when you are half a mile from it than when you are only 
a few yards.  Bees, like us human insects, have little faith in the 
near at hand; they expect to make their fortune in a distant field, 
they are lured by the remote and the difficult, and hence overlook 
the flower and the sweet at their very door.  On several occasions 
I have unwittingly set my box within a few paces of a bee-tree and 
waited long for bees without getting them, when, on removing to a 
distant field or opening in the woods, I have got a clew at once.

I have a theory that when bees leave the hive, unless there is some 
special attraction in some other direction, they generally go 
against the wind. They would thus have the wind with them when they 
returned home heavily laden, and with these little navigators the 
difference is an important one.  With a full cargo, a stiff head-
wind is a great hindrance, but fresh and empty-handed, they can 
face it with more ease.  Virgil says bees bear gravel-stones as 
ballast, but their only ballast is their honey-bag.  Hence, when I 
go bee-hunting, I prefer to get to windward of the woods in which 
the swarm is supposed to have refuge.

Bees, like the milkman, like to be near a spring.  They do water 
their honey, especially in a dry time. The liquid is then of course 
thicker and sweeter, and will bear diluting.  Hence old bee-hunters 
look for bee-trees along creeks and near spring runs in the woods.  
I once found a tree a long distance from any water, and the honey 
had a peculiar bitter flavor, imparted to it, I was convinced, by 
rainwater sucked from the decayed and spongy hemlock-tree in which 
the swarm was found.  In cutting into the tree, the north side of 
it was found to be saturated with water like a spring, which ran 
out in big drops, and had a bitter flavor.  The bees had thus found 
a spring or a cistern in their own house.

Bees are exposed to many hardships and many dangers.  Winds and 
storms prove as disastrous to them as to other navigators.  Black 
spiders lie in wait for them as do brigands for travelers.  One 
day, as I was looking for a bee amid some golden-rod, I spied one 
partly concealed under a leaf.  Its baskets were full of pollen, 
and it did not move.  On lifting up the leaf I discovered that a 
hairy spider was ambushed there and had the bee by the throat.  The 
vampire was evidently afraid of the bee's sting, and was holding it 
by the throat till quite sure of its death.  Virgil speaks of the 
painted lizard, perhaps a species of salamander, as an enemy of the 
honey-bee.  We have no lizard that destroys the bee; but our tree-
toad, ambushed among the apple and cherry blossoms, snaps them up 
wholesale.  Quick as lightning that subtle but clammy tongue darts 
forth, and the unsuspecting bee is gone.  Virgil also accuses the 
titmouse and the woodpecker of preying upon the bees, and our 
kingbird has been charged with the like crime, but the latter 
devours only the drones.  The workers are either too small and 
quick for it or else it dreads their sting.

Virgil, by the way, had little more than a child's knowledge of the 
honey-bee. There is little fact and much fable in his fourth 
Georgic. If he had ever kept bees himself, or even visited an 
apiary, it is hard to see how he could have believed that the bee 
in its flight abroad carried a gravel-stone for ballast:

 "And as when empty barks on billows 
   With sandy ballast sailors trim the 
   So bees bear gravel-stones, whose 
             poising weight
   Steers through the whistling winds 
             their steady flight;"

or that, when two colonies made war upon each other, they issued 
forth from their hives led by their kings and fought in the air, 
strewing the ground with the dead and dying:--

 "Hard hailstones lie not thicker on the 
   Nor shaken oaks such show'rs of 
             acorns rain."

It is quite certain he had never been bee-hunting. If he had, we 
should have had a fifth Georgic.  Yet he seems to have known that 
bees sometimes escaped to the woods:--

 "Nor bees are lodged in hives alone,
             but found
   In chambers of their own beneath the 
   Their vaulted roofs are hung in 
   And in the rotten trunks of hollow 

Wild honey is as near like tame as wild bees are like their 
brothers in the hive.  The only difference is, that wild honey is 
flavored with your adventure, which makes it a little more 
delectable than the domestic article.



I HAVE said on a former occasion that "the true poet knows more 
about Nature than the naturalist, because he carries her open 
secrets in his heart. Eckermann could instruct Goethe in 
ornithology, but could not Goethe instruct Eckermann in the meaning 
and mystery of the bird?"  But the poets sometimes rely too 
confidently upon their supposed intuitive knowledge of nature, and 
grow careless about the accuracy of the details of their pictures.  
I am not aware that this was ever the case with Goethe; I think it 
was not, for as a rule, the greater the poet, the more correct and 
truthful will be his specifications.  It is the lesser poets who 
trip most over their facts.  Thus a New England poet speaks of 
"plucking the apple from the pine," as if the pineapple grew upon 
the pine-tree.  A Western poet sings of the bluebird in a strain in 
which every feature and characteristic of the bird is lost; not one 
trait of the bird is faithfully set down.  When the robin and the 
swallow come, he says, the bluebird hies him to some mossy old 
wood, where, amid the deep seclusion, he pours out his song. 

In a poem by a well-known author in one of the popular journals, a 
hummingbird's nest is shown the reader, and it has BLUE eggs in it.  
A more cautious poet would have turned to Audubon or Wilson before 
venturing upon such a statement.  But then it was necessary to have 
a word to rhyme with "view," and what could be easier than to make 
a white egg "blue"?  Again, one of our later poets has evidently 
confounded the hummingbird with that curious parody upon it, the 
hawk or sphinx moth, as in his poem upon the subject he has hit off 
exactly the habits of the moth, or, rather, his creature seems a 
cross between the moth and the bird, as it has the habits of the 
one and the plumage of the other.  The time to see the hummingbird, 
he says, is after sunset in the summer gloaming; then it steals 
forth and hovers over the flowers.  Now, the hummingbird is 
eminently a creature of the sun and of the broad open day, and I 
have never seen it after sundown, while the moth is rarely seen 
except at twilight.  It is much smaller and less brilliant than the 
hummingbird; but its flight and motions are so nearly the same that 
a poet, with his eye in a fine frenzy rolling, might easily mistake 
one for the other.  It is but a small slip in such a poet as poor 
George Arnold, when he makes the sweet-scented honeysuckle bloom 
for the bee, for surely the name suggests the bee, though in fact 
she does not work upon it; but what shall we say of the Kansas 
poet, who, in his published volume, claims both the yew and the 
nightingale for his native State?  Or of a Massachusetts poet, who 
finds the snowdrop and the early primrose blooming along his native 
streams, with the orchis and the yellow violet, and makes the 
blackbird conspicuous among New England songsters?  Our ordinary 
yew is not a tree at all, but a low spreading evergreen shrub that 
one may step over; and as for the nightingale, if they have the 
mockingbird in Kansas, they can very well do without him.  We have 
several varieties of blackbirds, it is true; but when an American 
poet speaks in a general way of the blackbird piping or singing in 
a tree, as he would speak of a robin or a sparrow, the suggestion 
or reminiscence awakened is always that of the blackbird of English 

 "In days when daisies deck the ground,
       And blackbirds whistle clear,
   With honest joy our hearts will bound
       To see the coming year"--

sings Burns.  I suspect that the English reader of even some of 
Emerson's and Lowell's poems would infer that our blackbird was 
identical with the British species.  I refer to these lines of 

 "Where arches green the livelong day
   Echo the blackbirds' roundelay;"

and to these lines from Lowell's "Rosaline:"--

 "A blackbird whistling overhead
  Thrilled through my brain;"

and again these from "The Fountain of Youth:"--

 " 'T is a woodland enchanted;
   By no sadder spirit
   Than blackbirds and thrushes
   That whistle to cheer it,
   All day in the bushes."

The blackbird of the English poets is like our robin in everything 
except color. He is familiar, hardy, abundant, thievish, and his 
habits, manners, and song recall our bird to the life.  Our own 
native blackbirds, the crow blackbird, the rusty grackle, the 
cowbird, and the red-shouldered starling, are not songsters, even 
in the latitude allowable to poets; neither are they whistlers, 
unless we credit them with a "split-whistle," as Thoreau does.  The 
two first named have a sort of musical cackle and gurgle in spring 
(as at times both our crow and jay have), which is very pleasing, 
and to which Emerson aptly refers in these lines from "May-Day:"--

 "The blackbirds make the maples ring
   With social cheer and jubilee"--

but it is not a song.  The note of the starling in the trees and 
alders along the creeks and marshes is better calculated to arrest 
the attention of the casual observer; but it is far from being a 
song or a whistle like that of the European blackbird, or our 
robin.  Its most familiar call is like the word "BAZIQUE," 
"BAZIQUE," but it has a wild musical note which Emerson has 
embalmed in this line:--

   "The redwing flutes his O-KA-LEE."

Here Emerson discriminates; there is no mistaking his blackbird 
this time for the European species, though it is true there is 
nothing fluty or flute-like in the redwing's voice.  The flute is 
mellow, while the "O-KA-LEE" of the starling is strong and sharply 
accented. The voice of the thrushes (and our robin and the European 
blackbird are thrushes) is flute-like.  Hence the aptness of this 
line of Tennyson:--

 "The mellow ouzel fluted in the elm,"--

the blackbird being the ouzel, or ouzel-cock, as Shakespeare calls 

In the line which precedes this, Tennyson has stamped the cuckoo:--

 "To left and right,
   The cuckoo told his name to all the

The cuckoo is a bird that figures largely in English poetry, but he 
always has an equivocal look in American verse, unless sharply 
discriminated.  We have a cuckoo, but he is a great recluse; and I 
am sure the poets do not know when he comes or goes, while to make 
him sing familiarly like the British species, as I have known at 
least one of our poets to do, is to come very wide of the mark.  
Our bird is as solitary and joyless as the most veritable 
anchorite.  He contributes nothing to the melody or the gayety of 
the season.  He is, indeed, known in some sections as the rain-
crow," but I presume that not one person in ten of those who spend 
their lives in the country has ever seen or heard him.  He is like 
the showy orchis, or the lady's-slipper, or the shooting star among 
plants,-- a stranger to all but the few; and when an American poet 
says cuckoo, he must say it with such specifications as to leave no 
doubt what cuckoo he means, as Lowell does in his "Nightingale in 
the Study:"--

 "And, hark, the cuckoo, weatherwise,
   Still hiding farther onward, wooes 

In like manner the primrose is an exotic in American poetry, to say 
nothing of the snowdrop and the daisy.  Its prominence in English 
poetry can be understood when we remember that the plant is so 
abundant in England as to be almost a weed, and that it comes early 
and is very pretty.  Cowslip and oxlip are familiar names of 
varieties of the same plant, and they bear so close a resemblance 
that it is hard to tell them apart.  Hence Tennyson, in "The 
Talking Oak:"--

      "As cowslip unto oxlip is,
        So seems she to the boy."

Our familiar primrose is the evening primrose,--a rank, tall weed 
that blooms with the mullein in late summer.  Its small, yellow, 
slightly fragrant blossoms open only at night, but remain open 
during the next day.  By cowslip, our poets and writers generally 
mean the yellow marsh marigold, which belongs to a different family 
of plants, but which, as a spring token and a pretty flower, is a 
very good substitute for the cowslip.  Our real cowslip, the 
shooting star, is very rare, and is one of the most beautiful of 
native flowers.  I believe it is not found north of Pennsylvania.  
I have found it in a single locality in the District of Columbia, 
and the day is memorable upon which I first saw its cluster of pink 
flowers, with their recurved petals cleaving the air.  I do not 
know that it has ever been mentioned in poetry.

Another flower, which I suspect our poets see largely through the 
medium of English literature and invest with borrowed charms, is 
the violet.  The violet is a much more winsome and poetic flower in 
England than it is in this country, for the reason that it comes 
very early and is sweet-scented; our common violet is not among the 
earliest flowers, and it is odorless.  It affects sunny slopes, 
like the English flower; yet Shakespeare never could have made the 
allusion to it which he makes to his own species in these lines:--

 "That strain again! it had a dying fall:
  Oh! it came o'er my ear like the sweet south 
  That breathes upon a bank of violets,
  Stealing and giving odor,"

or lauded it as

 "Sweeter than the lids of Juno's eyes,
  Or Cytherea's breath."

Our best known sweet-scented violet is a small, white, lilac-veined 
species (not yellow, as Bryant has it in his poem), that is common 
in wet, out-of-the-way places.  Our common blue violet--the only 
species that is found abundantly everywhere in the North--blooms in 
May, and makes bright many a grassy meadow slope and sunny nook.  
Yet, for all that, it does not awaken the emotion in one that the 
earlier and more delicate spring flowers do,--the hepatica, say, 
with its shy wood habits, its pure, infantile expression, and at 
times its delicate perfume; or the houstonia,--"innocence,"--
flecking or streaking the cold spring earth with a milky way of 
minute stars; or the trailing arbutus, sweeter scented than the 
English violet, and outvying in tints Cytherea's or any other 
blooming goddess's cheek.  Yet these flowers have no classical 
associations, and are consequently far less often upon the lips of 
our poets than the violet.

To return to birds, another dangerous one for the American poet is 
the lark, and our singers generally are very shy of him.  The term 
has been applied very loosely in this country to both the meadow-
lark and the bobolink, yet it is pretty generally understood now 
that we have no genuine skylark east of the Mississippi.  Hence I 
am curious to know what bird Bayard Taylor refers to when he speaks 
in his "Spring Pastoral" of

       "Larks responding aloft to the mellow flute of the 

Our so-called meadowlark is no lark at all, but a starling, and the 
titlark and shore lark breed and pass the summer far to the north, 
and are never heard in song in the United States. [Footnote: The 
shore lark has changed its habits in this respect of late years.  
It now breeds regularly on my native hills in Delaware County, New 
York, and may be heard in full song there from April to June or 

The poets are entitled to a pretty free range, but they must be 
accurate when they particularize.  We expect them to see the fact 
through their imagination, but it must still remain a fact; the 
medium must not distort it into a lie.  When they name a flower or 
a tree or a bird, whatever halo of the ideal they throw around it, 
it must not be made to belie the botany or the natural history.  I 
doubt if you can catch Shakespeare transgressing the law in this 
respect, except where he followed the superstition and the 
imperfect knowledge of his time, as in his treatment of the honey-
bee.  His allusions to nature are always incidental to his main 
purpose, but they reveal a careful and loving observer.  For 
instance, how are fact and poetry wedded in this passage, put into 
the mouth of Banquo!--

 "This guest of summer,
   The temple-haunting martlet, does
   By his loved masonry that the
             heaven's breath
   Smells wooingly here: no jutty, frieze.
   Buttress, nor coign of vantage, but
             this bird
   Hath made his pendent bed and
             procreant cradle:
   Where they most breed and haunt,
   I have observed,
   The air is delicate."

Nature is of course universal, but in the same sense is she local 
and particular,--cuts every suit to fit the wearer, gives every 
land an earth and sky of its own, and a flora and fauna to match.  
The poets and their readers delight in local touches.  We have both 
the hare and the rabbit in America, but this line from Thomson's 
description of a summer morning,--

 "And from the bladed field the fearful
   hare limps awkward,"--

or this from Beattie,--

 "Through rustling corn the hare
   astonished sprang"--

would not apply with the same force in New England, because our 
hare is never found in the fields, but in dense, remote woods.  In 
England both hares and rabbits abound to such an extent that in 
places the fields and meadows swarm with them, and the ground is 
undermined by their burrows, till they become a serious pest to the 
farmer, and are trapped in vast numbers.  The same remark applies 
to this from Tennyson:--

 "From the woods 
   Came voices of the well-contented

Doves and wood-pigeons are almost as abundant in England as hares 
and rabbits, and are also a serious annoyance to the farmer; while 
in this country the dove and pigeon are much less marked and 
permanent features in our rural scenery,--less permanent, except in 
the case of the mourning dove, which is found here and there the 
season through; and less marked, except when the hordes of the 
passenger pigeon once in a decade or two invade the land, rarely 
tarrying longer than the bands of a foraging army.  I hardly know 
what Trowbridge means by the "wood-pigeon" in his midsummer poem, 
for, strictly speaking, the wood-pigeon is a European bird, and a 
very common one in England.  But let me say here, however, that 
Trowbridge, as a rule, keeps very close to the natural history of 
his own country when he has occasion to draw material from this 
source, and to American nature generally.  You will find in his 
poems the wood pewee, the bluebird, the oriole, the robin, the 
grouse, the kingfisher, the chipmunk, the mink, the bobolink, the 
wood thrush, all in their proper places.  There are few bird-poems 
that combine so much good poetry and good natural history as his 
"Pewee." Here we have a glimpse of the catbird:--

 "In the alders, dank with noonday
   The restless catbird darts and mews;"

here, of the cliff swallow: -

 "In the autumn, when the hollows
         All are filled with flying leaves
   And the colonies of swallows
         Quit the quaintly stuccoed eaves."

Only the dates are not quite right.  The swallows leave their nests 
in July, which is nearly three months before the leaves fall.  The 
poet is also a little unfaithful to the lore of his boyhood when he 

 "The partridge beats his throbbing drum"

in midsummer.  As a rule, the partridge does not drum later than 
June, except fitfully during the Indian summer, while April and May 
are his favorite months.  And let me say here, for the benefit of 
the poets who do not go to the woods, that the partridge does not 
always drum upon a log; he frequently drums upon a rock or a stone 
wall, if a suitable log be not handy, and no ear can detect the 
difference.  His drum is really his own proud breast, and beneath 
his small hollow wings gives forth the same low, mellow thunder 
from a rock as from a log.  Bryant has recognized this fact in one 
of his poems.

Our poets are quite apt to get ahead or behind the season with 
their flowers and birds.  It is not often that we catch such a poet 
as Emerson napping. He knows nature, and he knows the New England 
fields and woods, as few poets do.  One may study our flora and 
fauna in his pages.  He puts in the moose and the "surly bear," and 
makes the latter rhyme with "woodpecker:"--

 "He saw beneath dim aisles, in odorous
The slight Linnæa hang its twin-born
   .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        
He heard, when in the grove, at
With sudden roar the aged pine-tree
One crash, the death-hymn of the
      perfect tree,
Declares the close of its green

"They led me through the thicket
   Through brake and fern, the beavers'

 "He saw the partridge drum in the
   He heard the woodcock's evening
   He found the tawny thrushes' broods;
   And the shy hawk did wait for him."

His "Titmouse" is studied in our winter woods, and his "Humble-Bee" 
in our summer fields.  He has seen farther into the pine-tree than 
any other poet; his "May-Day" is full of our spring sounds and 
tokens; he knows the "punctual birds," and the "herbs and simples 
of the wood:"--

 "Rue, cinque-foil, gill, vervain, and
   Blue-vetch, and trillium, hawk-weed, 
   Milk-weeds and murky brakes, quaint 
      pipes and sun-dew."

Here is a characteristic touch:--

 "A woodland walk
   A quest of river-grapes, a mocking
   A wild rose, or rock-loving columbine,
   Salve my worst wounds."

That "rock-loving columbine" is better than Bryant's "columbines, 
in purple dressed," as our flower is not purple, but yellow and 
scarlet.  Yet Bryant set the example to the poets that have 
succeeded him of closely studying Nature as she appears under our 
own skies.

I yield to none in my admiration of the sweetness and simplicity of 
his poems of nature, and in general of their correctness of 
observation.  They are tender and heartfelt, and they touch chords 
that no other poet since Wordsworth has touched with so firm a 
hand.  Yet he was not always an infallible observer; he sometimes 
tripped up on his facts, and at other times he deliberately moulded 
them, adding to, or cutting off, to suit the purposes of his verse.  
I will cite here two instances in which his natural history is at 
fault.  In his poem on the bobolink he makes the parent birds feed 
their young with "seeds," whereas, in fact, the young are fed 
exclusively upon insects and worms.  The bobolink is an 
insectivorous bird in the North, or until its brood has flown, and 
a granivorous bird in the South.  In his "Evening Revery" occur 
these lines:--

 "The mother bird hath broken for her 
   Their prison shells, or shoved them
      from the nest,
   Plumed for their earliest flight."

It is not a fact that the mother bird aids her offspring in 
escaping from the shell.  The young of all birds are armed with a 
small temporary horn or protuberance upon the upper mandible, and 
they are so placed in the shell that this point is in immediate 
contact with its inner surface; as soon as they are fully developed 
and begin to struggle to free themselves, the horny growth "pips" 
the shell.  Their efforts then continue till their prison walls are 
completely sundered and the bird is free.  This process is rendered 
the more easy by the fact that toward the last the shell becomes 
very rotten; the acids that are generated by the growing chick eat 
it and make it brittle, so that one can hardly touch a fully 
incubated bird's egg without breaking it.  To help the young bird 
forth would insure its speedy death.  It is not true, either, that 
the parent shoves its young from the nest when they are fully 
fledged, except possibly in the case of some of the swallows and of 
the eagle.  The young of all our more common birds leave the nest 
of their own motion, stimulated probably by the calls of the 
parents, and in some cases by the withholding of food for a longer 
period than usual.

As an instance where Bryant warps the facts to suit his purpose, 
take his poems of the "Yellow Violet" and "The Fringed Gentian." Of 
this last flower he says:--

 "Thou waitest late and com'st alone,
   When woods are bare and birds are 
   And frosts and shortening days 
   The aged year is near his end."

The fringed gentian belongs to September, and, when the severer 
frosts keep away, it runs over into October.  But it does not come 
alone, and the woods are not bare.  The closed gentian comes at the 
same time, and the blue and purple asters are in all their glory.  
Goldenrod, turtle-head, and other fall flowers also abound.  When 
the woods are bare, which does not occur in New England till in or 
near November, the fringed gentian has long been dead.  It is in 
fact killed by the first considerable frost.  No, if one were to go 
botanizing, and take Bryant's poem for a guide, he would not bring 
home any fringed gentians with him.  The only flower he would find 
would be the witch-hazel.  Yet I never see this gentian without 
thinking of Bryant's poem, and feeling that he has brought it 
immensely nearer to us.

Bryant's poem of the "Yellow Violet" has all his accustomed 
simplicity and pensiveness, but his love for the flower carries him 
a little beyond the facts; he makes it sweet-scented,--

                "Thy faint perfume
            Alone is in the virgin air;"

and he makes it the first flower of spring.  I have never been able 
to detect any perfume in the yellow species (VIOLA ROTUNDIFOLIA).  
This honor belongs alone to our two white violets, VIOLA BLANDA and 

Neither is it quite true that

 "Of all her train, the hands of Spring
   First plant thee in the watery mould."

Now it is an interesting point which really is our first spring 
flower.  Which comes second or third is of less consequence, but 
which everywhere and in all seasons comes first; and in such a case 
the poet must not place the honor where it does not belong.  I have 
no hesitation in saying that, throughout the Middle and New England 
States, the hepatica is the first spring flower. [Footnote: 
excepting, of course, the skunk-cabbage.]  It is some days  ahead 
of all others. The yellow violet belongs only to the more northern 
sections,--to high, cold, beechen woods, where the poet rightly 
places it; but in these localities, if you go to the spring woods 
every day, you will gather the hepatica first.  I have also found 
the claytonia and the coltsfoot first.  In a poem called "The 
Twenty-Seventh of March," Bryant places both the hepatica and the 
arbutus before it:--

 "Within the woods
   Tufts of ground-laurel, creeping
   The leaves of the last summer, send 
      their sweets 
   Upon the chilly air, and by the oak,
   The squirrel cups, a graceful 
   Hide in their bells, a soft aerial 

ground-laurel being a local name for trailing arbutus, called also 
mayflower, and squirrel-cups for hepatica, or liver-leaf.  But the 
yellow violet may rightly dispute for the second place.

In "The Song of the Sower" our poet covers up part of the truth 
with the grain.  The point and moral of the song he puts in the 
statement, that the wheat sown in the fall lies in the ground till 
spring before it germinates; when, in fact, it sprouts and grows 
and covers the ground with "emerald blades" in the fall:--

 "Fling wide the generous grain; we fling 
   O'er the dark mould the green of 
   For thick the emerald blades shall 
   When first the March winds melt the 
   And to the sleeping flowers, below,
   The early bluebirds sing.
   .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        
   Brethren, the sower's task is done.
   The seed is in its winter bed.
   Now let the dark-brown mould be 
             To hide it from the sun,
   And leave it to the kindly care
   Of the still earth and brooding air,
   As when the mother, from her 
   Lays the hushed babe apart to rest,
   And shades its eyes and waits to see 
   How sweet its waking smile will be.
   The tempest now may smite, the 
   All night on the drowned furrow beat, 
   And winds that, from the cloudy hold 
   Of winter, breathe the bitter cold, 
   Stiffen to stone the mellow mould,
             Yet safe shall lie the wheat;
   Till, out of heaven's unmeasured 
    Shall walk again the genial year,
   To wake with warmth and nurse with 
   The germs we lay to slumber here."

Of course the poet was not writing an agricultural essay, yet one 
does not like to feel that he was obliged to ignore or sacrifice 
any part of the truth to build up his verse.  One likes to see him 
keep within the fact without being conscious of it or hampered by 
it, as he does in "The Planting of the Apple-Tree," or in the 
"Lines to a Water-Fowl."

But there are glimpses of American scenery and climate in Bryant 
that are unmistakable, as in these lines from "Midsummer:"--

 "Look forth upon the earth--her
      thousand plants 
   Are smitten; even the dark, 
      sun-loving maize
   Faints in the field beneath the torrid
   The herd beside the shaded fountain
   For life is driven from all the
      landscape brown;
   The bird has sought his tree, the
      snake his den,
   The trout floats dead in the hot
      stream, and men
   Drop by the sunstroke in the
      populous town."

Here is a touch of our "heated term" when the dogstar is abroad and 
the weather runs mad.  I regret the "trout floating dead in the hot 
stream," because, if such a thing ever has occurred, it is entirely 
exceptional.  The trout in such weather seek the deep water and the 
spring holes, and hide beneath rocks and willow banks. The 
following lines would be impossible in an English poem:--

 "The snowbird twittered on the
      beechen bough,
   And 'neath the hemlock, whose thick 
      branches bent
   Beneath its bright, cold burden, and
      kept dry
   A circle, on the earth, of withered 
   The partridge found a shelter."

Both Bryant and Longfellow put their spring bluebird in the elm, 
which is a much better place for the oriole,--the elm-loving 
oriole.  The bluebird prefers a humbler perch.  Lowell puts him 
upon a post in the fence, which is a characteristic attitude:--

 "The bluebird, shifting his light load of 
   From post to post along the cheerless 

Emerson calls him "April's bird," and makes him "fly before from 
tree to tree," which is also good.  But the bluebird is not 
strictly a songster in the sense in which the song sparrow or the 
indigo-bird, or the English robin redbreast, is; nor do Bryant's 
lines hit the mark:--

 "The bluebird chants, from the elm's 
      long branches,
   A hymn to welcome the budding 

Lowell, again, is nearer the truth when he speaks of his "whiff of 
song."  All his notes are call-notes, and are addressed directly to 
his mate.  The songbirds take up a position and lift up their 
voices and sing.  It is a deliberate musical performance, as much 
so as that of Nilsson or Patti.  The bluebird, however, never 
strikes an attitude and sings for the mere song's sake.  But the 
poets are perhaps to be allowed this latitude, only their pages 
lose rather than gain by it.  Nothing is so welcome in this field 
as characteristic touches, a word or a phrase that fits this case 
and no other.  If the bluebird chants a hymn, what does the wood 
thrush do? Yet the bluebird's note is more pleasing than most bird-
songs; if it could be reproduced in color, it would be the hue of 
the purest sky.

Longfellow makes the swallow sing:--

 "The darting swallows soar and sing;"--

which would leave him no room to describe the lark, if the lark had 
been about.  Bryant comes nearer the mark this time:--

 "There are notes of joy from the 
      hang-bird and wren,
   And the gossip of swallows through all 
      the sky;"

so does Tennyson when he makes his swallow

 "Cheep and twitter twenty million 

also Lowell again in this line:--

 "The thin-winged swallow skating on
      the air;"

and Virgil:--

 "Swallows twitter on the chimney

Longfellow is perhaps less close and exact in his dealings with 
nature than any of his compeers, although he has written some fine 
naturalistic poems, as his "Rain in Summer," and others. When his 
fancy is taken, he does not always stop to ask, Is this so? Is this 
true? as when he applies the Spanish proverb, "There are no birds 
in last year's nests," to the nests beneath the eaves; for these 
are just the last year's nests that do contain birds in May. The 
cliff swallow and the barn swallow always reoccupy their old nests, 
when they are found intact; so do some other birds. Again, the 
hawthorn, or whitethorn, field-fares, belong to English poetry more 
than to American. The ash in autumn is not deep crimsoned, but a 
purplish brown. "The ash her purple drops forgivingly," says Lowell 
in his "Indian-Summer Reverie." Flax is not golden, lilacs are 
purple or white and not flame-colored, and it is against the law to 
go trouting in November. The pelican is not a wader any more than a 
goose or a duck is, and the golden robin or oriole is not a bird of 
autumn. This stanza from "The Skeleton in Armor" is a striking 

 "As with his wings aslant,
   Sails the fierce cormorant,
   Seeking some rocky haunt,
       With his prey laden,
   So toward the open main,
   Beating to sea again,
   Through the wild hurricane,
       Bore I the maiden."

But unfortunately the cormorant never does anything of the kind; it 
is not a bird of prey: it is web-footed, a rapid swimmer and diver, 
and lives upon fish, which it usually swallows as it catches them. 
Virgil is nearer to fact when he says:--

 "When crying cormorants forsake the 
   And, stretching to the covert, wing 
       their way."

But cormorant with Longfellow may stand for any of the large 
rapacious birds, as the eagle or the condor. True, and yet the 
picture is a purely fanciful one, as no bird of prey SAILS with his 
burden; on the contrary, he flaps heavily and laboriously, because 
he is always obliged to mount. The stress of the rhyme and metre 
are of course in this case very great, and it is they, doubtless, 
that drove the poet into this false picture of a bird of prey laden 
with his quarry. It is an ungracious task, however, to cross-
question the gentle Muse of Longfellow in this manner. He is a true 
poet if there ever was one, and the slips I point out are only like 
an obscure feather or two in the dove carelessly preened. The 
burnished plumage and the bright hues hide them unless we look 

Whittier gets closer to the bone of the New England nature. He 
comes from the farm, and his memory is stored with boyhood's wild 
and curious lore, with

 "Knowledge never learned of schools,
   Of the wild bee's morning chase,
   Of the wild flower's time and place,
   Flight of fowl and habitude
   Of the tenants of the wood;
   How the tortoise bears his shell,
   How the woodchuck digs his cell,
   And the ground-mole sinks his well;
   How the robin feeds her young;
   How the oriole's nest is hung;
   Where the whitest lilies blow,
   Where the freshest berries grow,
   Where the ground-nut trails its vine,
   Where the wood-grape's clusters 
   Of the black wasp's cunning way,
   Mason of his walls of clay,
   And the architectural plans
   Of gray hornet artisans!"

The poet is not as exact as usual when he applies the epithet 
"painted" to the autumn beeches, as the foliage of the beech is the 
least painty of all our trees; nor when he speaks of

 "Wind-flower and violet, amber and 

as neither of the flowers named is amber-colored. From "A Dream of 
Summer" the reader might infer that the fox shut up house in the 
winter like the muskrat:--

 "The fox his hillside cell forsakes,
       The muskrat leaves his nook,
   The bluebird in the meadow brakes
       Is singing with the brook."

The only one of these incidents that is characteristic of a January 
thaw in the latitude of New England is the appearance of the 
muskrat. The fox is never in his cell in winter, except he is 
driven there by the hound, or by soft or wet weather, and the 
bluebird does not sing in the brakes at any time of the year. A 
severe stress of weather will drive the foxes off the mountains 
into the low, sheltered woods and fields, and a thaw will send them 
back again. In the winter the fox sleeps during the day upon a rock 
or stone wall, or upon a snowbank, where he can command all the 
approaches, or else prowls stealthily through the woods.

But there is seldom a false note in any of Whittier's descriptions 
of rural sights and sounds. What a characteristic touch is that in 
one of his "Mountain Pictures:"--

 "The pasture bars that clattered as
       they fell."

It is the only strictly native, original, and typical sound he 
reports on that occasion. The bleating of sheep, the barking of 
dogs, the lowing of cattle, the splash of the bucket in the well, 
"the pastoral curfew of the cowbell," etc., are sounds we have 
heard before in poetry, but that clatter of the pasture bars is 
American; one can almost see the waiting, ruminating cows slowly 
stir at the signal, and start for home in anticipation of the 
summons. Every summer day, as the sun is shading the hills, the 
clatter of those pasture bars is heard throughout the length and 
breadth of the land.

"Snow-Bound" is the most faithful picture of our Northern winter 
that has yet been put into poetry. What an exact description is 
this of the morning after the storm:-- 

 "We looked upon a world unknown,
   On nothing we could call our own.
   Around the glistening wonder bent
   The blue walls of the firmament,
   No cloud above, no earth below,--
   A universe of sky and snow!"

In his little poem on the mayflower, Mr. Stedman catches and puts 
in a single line a feature of our landscape in spring that I have 
never before seen alluded to in poetry. I refer to the second line 
of this stanza:--

 "Fresh blows the breeze through 
       The fields are edged with green
   And naught but youth, and hope, and 
       We know or care to know!"

It is characteristic of our Northern and New England fields that 
they are "edged with green" in spring long before the emerald tint 
has entirely overspread them. Along the fences, especially along 
the stone walls, the grass starts early; the land is fatter there 
from the deeper snows and from other causes, the fence absorbs the 
heat, and shelters the ground from the winds, and the sward quickly 
responds to the touch of the spring sun.

Stedman's poem is worthy of his theme, and is the only one I recall 
by any of our well-known poets upon the much-loved mayflower or 
arbutus. There is a little poem upon this subject by an unknown 
author that also has the right flavor. I recall but one stanza:--

 "Oft have I walked these woodland
   Without the blest foreknowing,
   That underneath the withered leaves 
   The fairest flowers were blowing."

Nature's strong and striking effects are best rendered by closest 
fidelity to her. Listen and look intently, and catch the exact 
effect as nearly as you can. It seems as if Lowell had done this 
more than most of his brother poets. In reading his poems, one 
wishes for a little more of the poetic unction (I refer, of course, 
to his serious poems; his humorous ones are just what they should 
be), yet the student of nature will find many close-fitting phrases 
and keen observations in his pages, and lines that are exactly, and 
at the same time poetically, descriptive. He is the only writer I 
know of who has noticed the fact that the roots of trees do not 
look supple and muscular like their boughs, but have a stiffened, 
congealed look, as of a liquid hardened.

 "Their roots, like molten metal cooled 
       in flowing,
   Stiffened in coils and runnels down 
       the bank."

This is exactly the appearance the roots of most trees, when 
uncovered, present; they flow out from the trunk like diminishing 
streams of liquid metal, taking the form of whatever they come in 
contact with, parting around a stone and uniting again beyond it, 
and pushing their way along with many a pause and devious turn. One 
principal office of the roots of a tree is to gripe, to hold fast 
the earth: hence they feel for and lay hold of every inequality of 
surface; they will fit themselves to the top of a comparatively 
smooth rock, so as to adhere amazingly, and flow into the seams and 
crevices like metal into a mould.

Lowell is singularly true to the natural history of his own 
country. In his "Indian-Summer Reverie" we catch a glimpse of the 
hen-hawk, silently sailing overhead

 "With watchful, measuring eye,"
the robin feeding on cedar berries, and the squirrel,

 "On the shingly shagbark's bough."

I do not remember to have met the "shagbark" in poetry before, or 
that gray lichen-covered stone wall which occurs farther along in 
the same poem, and which is so characteristic of the older farms of 
New York and New England. I hardly know what the poet means by

 "The wide-ranked mowers wading to
       the knee,"

as the mowers do not wade in the grass they are cutting, though 
they might appear to do so when viewed athwart the standing grass; 
perhaps this is the explanation of the line.

But this is just what the bobolink does when the care of his young 
begins to weigh upon him:--

 "Meanwhile that devil-may-care,
       the bobolink,
   Remembering duty, in mid-quaver 
   Just ere he sweeps o'er rapture's 
       tremulous brink,
   And 'twixt the winrows most 
       demurely drops."

I do not vouch for that dropping between the windrows, as in my 
part of the country the bobolinks flee before the hay-makers, but 
that sudden stopping on the brink of rapture, as if thoughts of his 
helpless young had extinguished his joy, is characteristic.

Another carefully studied description of Lowell's is this:--

 "The robin sings as of old from the
   The catbird croons in the lilac-bush!
   Through the dim arbor, himself more 
    Silently hops the hermit thrush."

Among trees Lowell has celebrated the oak, the pine, the birch; and 
among flowers; the violet and the dandelion. The last, I think, is 
the most pleasing of these poems:--

 "Dear common flower, that grow'st 
       beside the way,
   Fringing the dusty road with harmless 
   First pledge of blithesome May."

The dandelion is indeed, in our latitude, the pledge of May. It 
comes when the grass is short, and the fresh turf sets off its 
"ring of gold" with admirable effect; hence we know the poet is a 
month or more out of the season when, in "Al Fresco," he makes it 
bloom with the buttercup and the clover:--

 "The dandelions and buttercups
   Gild all the lawn; the drowsy bee 
   Stumbles among the clover-tops,
   And summer sweetens all but me."

Of course the dandelion blooms occasionally throughout the whole 
summer, especially where the grass is kept short, but its proper 
season, when it "gilds all the lawn," is, in every part of the 
country, some weeks earlier than the tall buttercup and the clover. 
These bloom in June in New England and New York, and are 
contemporaries of the daisy. In the meadows and lawns, the 
dandelion drops its flower and holds aloft its sphere of down, 
touching the green surface as with a light frost, long before the 
clover and the buttercup have formed their buds. In "Al Fresco" our 
poet is literally in clover, he is reveling in the height of the 
season, the full tide of summer is sweeping around him, and he has 
riches enough without robbing May of her dandelions. Let him say,--

 "The daisies and the buttercups
   Gild all the lawn."

I smile as I note that the woodpecker proves a refractory bird to 
Lowell, as well as to Emerson:--

   Emerson rhymes it with bear,
   Lowell rhymes it with hear,
   One makes it woodpeckair, 
   The other, woodpeckear.

But its hammer is a musical one, and the poets do well to note it. 
Our most pleasing drummer upon dry limbs among the woodpeckers is 
the yellow-bellied. His measured, deliberate tap, heard in the 
stillness of the primitive woods, produces an effect that no bird-
song is capable of.

Tennyson is said to have very poor eyes, but there seems to be no 
defect in the vision with which he sees nature, while he often hits 
the nail on the head in a way that would indicate the surest sight. 
True, he makes the swallow hunt the bee, which, for aught I know, 
the swallow may do in England. Our purple martin has been accused 
of catching the honey-bee, but I doubt his guilt. But those of our 
swallows that correspond to the British species, the barn swallow, 
the cliff swallow, and the bank swallow, subsist upon very small 
insects. But what a clear-cut picture is that in the same poem 
("The Poet's Song"):--

 "The wild hawk stood, with the down on 
       his beak,
   And stared, with his foot on the 

It takes a sure eye, too, to see

 "The landscape winking thro' the 

or to gather this image:--

 "He has a solid base of temperament; 
   But as the water-lily starts and slides 
   Upon the level in little puffs of wind, 
   Though anchor'd to the bottom, such 
       is he;"

or this:--

 "Arms on which the standing muscle 
   As slopes a wild brook o'er a little 
   Running too vehemently to break 
      upon it,"--

and many other gems that abound in his poems. He does not cut and 
cover in a single line, so far as I have observed. Great caution 
and exact knowledge underlie his most rapid and daring flights. A 
lady told me that she was once walking with him in the fields, when 
they came to a spring that bubbled up through shifting sands in a 
very pretty manner, and Tennyson, in order to see exactly how the 
spring behaved, got down on his hands and knees and peered a long 
time into the water. The incident is worth repeating as showing how 
intently a great poet studies nature.

Walt Whitman says he has been trying for years to find a word that 
would express or suggest that evening call of the robin.    How 
absorbingly this poet must have studied the moonlight to hit upon 
this descriptive phrase:--

 "The vitreous pour of the full moon 
       just tinged with blue;"

how long have looked upon the carpenter at his bench to have made 
this poem:--

 "The tongue of his fore-plane whistles 
       its wild ascending lisp;"

or how lovingly listened to the nocturne of the mockingbird to have 
turned it into words in "A Word out of the Sea "!  Indeed, no poet 
has studied American nature more closely than Whitman has, or is 
more cautious in his uses of it. How easy are his descriptions!--

 "Behold the daybreak!
   The  little  light  fades  the  immense  
       and  diaphanous shadows!"

 "The comet that came unannounced
       Out of the north, flaring in

 "The fan-shaped explosion."

 "The slender and jagged threads of
       lightning, as sudden and fast amid
       the din they chased each other
       across the sky."

 "Where the heifers browse--where
       geese nip their food with short
   Where sundown shadows lengthen 
       over the limitless and lonesome 
   Where herds of buffalo make a 
       crawling spread of the square miles        
       far and near;
   Where the hummingbird shimmers-- 
       where the neck of the long-lived 
       swan is curving and winding;
   Where the laughing-gull scoots by the 
       shore when she laughs her near 
       human laugh;
   Where band-neck'd partridges roost 
       in a ring on the ground with their 
       heads out."

Whitman is less local than the New England poets, and faces more to 
the West.  But he makes himself at home everywhere, and puts in 
characteristic scenes and incidents, generally compressed into a 
single line, from all trades and doings and occupations, North, 
East, South, West, and identifies himself with man in all straits 
and conditions on the continent. Like the old poets, he does not 
dwell upon nature, except occasionally through the vistas opened up 
by the great sciences, as astronomy and geology, but upon life and 
movement and personality, and puts in a shred of natural history 
here and there,--the "twittering redstart," the spotted hawk 
swooping by, the oscillating sea-gulls, the yellow-crowned  heron,  
the  razor-billed auk,  the lone wood duck, the migrating geese, 
the sharp-hoofed moose, the  mockingbird "the thrush, the hermit," 
etc.,--to help locate and define his position.  Everywhere in 
nature Whitman finds human relations, human responsions. In entire 
consistence with botany, geology, science, or what not, he endues 
his very seas and woods with passion, more than the old hamadryads 
or tritons. His fields, his rocks, his trees, are not dead 
material, but living companions. This is doubtless one reason why 
Addington Symonds, the young Hellenic scholar of England, finds him 
more thoroughly Greek than any other man of modern times.

Our natural history, and indeed all phases of life in this country, 
is rich in materials for the poet that have yet hardly been 
touched. Many of our most familiar birds, which are inseparably 
associated with one's walks and recreations in the open air, and 
with the changes of the seasons, are yet awaiting their poet,--as 
the high-hole, with his golden-shafted quills and loud continued 
spring call; the meadowlark, with her crescent-marked breast and 
long-drawn, piercing, yet tender April and May summons forming, 
with that of the high-hole, one of the three or four most 
characteristic field sounds of our spring; the happy goldfinch, 
circling round and round in midsummer with that peculiar undulating 
flight and calling PER-CHICK'-O-PEE, PER-CHICK'-O-PEE, at each 
opening and shutting of the wings, or later leading her plaintive 
brood among the thistle-heads by the roadside; the little indigo-
bird, facing the torrid sun of August and singing through all the 
livelong summer day; the contented musical soliloquy of the vireo, 
like the whistle of a boy at his work, heard through all our woods 
from May to September:--

 "Pretty green worm, where are you?
   Dusky-winged moth, how fare you,
     When wind and rain are in the tree?
       Cheeryo, cheerebly, chee,
       Shadow and sun one are to me.
   Mosquito and gnat, beware you,
   Saucy chipmunk, how dare you
     Climb to my nest in the maple-tree, 
       And dig up the corn
       At noon and at morn?
       Cheeryo, cheerebly, chee."

Or the phœbe-bird, with her sweet April call and mossy nest under 
the bridge or woodshed, or under the shelving rocks; or the brown 
thrasher--mocking thrush--calling half furtively, half archly from 
the treetop back in the bushy pastures: "Croquet, croquet, hit it, 
hit it, come to me, come to me, tight it, tight it, you're out, 
you're out," with many musical interludes; or the chewink, rustling 
the leaves and peering under the bushes at you; or the pretty 
little oven-bird, walking round and round you in the woods, or 
suddenly soaring above the treetops, and uttering its wild lyrical 
strain; or, farther south, the whistling redbird, with his crest 
and military bearing,--these and many others should be full of 
suggestion and inspiration to our poets. It is only lately that the 
robin's song has been put into poetry. Nothing could be happier 
than this rendering of it by a nameless singer in "A Masque of 

 "When the willows gleam along the
   And the grass grows green in sunny 
   In the sunshine and the rain
   I hear the robin in the lane
      Singing, 'Cheerily,
      Cheer up, cheer up;
      Cheerily, cheerily,
         Cheer up.'

 "But the snow is still
   Along the walls and on the hill.
   The days are cold, the nights forlorn, 
   For one is here and one is gone.
      'Tut, tut. Cheerily,
      Cheer up, cheer up;
      Cheerily, cheerily,
          Cheer up.'

 "When spring hopes seem to wane,
   I hear the joyful strain--
   A song at night, a song at morn,
   A lesson deep to me is borne,
      Hearing, 'Cheerily,
      Cheer up, cheer up;
      Cheerily, cheerily,
        Cheer up.' " 

The poetic interpretation of nature, which has come to be a 
convenient phrase, and about which the Oxford professor of poetry 
has written a book, is, of course, a myth, or is to be read the 
other way. It is the soul the poet interprets, not nature. There is 
nothing in nature but what the beholder supplies. Does the sculptor 
interpret the marble or his own ideal? Is the music in the 
instrument, or in the soul of the performer? Nature is a dead clod 
until you have breathed upon it with your genius. You commune with 
your own soul, not with woods or waters; they furnish the 
conditions, and are what you make them. Did Shelley interpret the 
song of the skylark, or Keats that of the nightingale? They 
interpreted their own wild, yearning hearts. The trick of the poet 
is always to idealize nature,--to see it subjectively. You cannot 
find what the poets find in the woods until you take the poet's 
heart to the woods. He sees nature through a colored glass, sees it 
truthfully, but with an indescribable charm added, the aureole of 
the spirit. A tree, a cloud, a bird, a sunset, have no hidden 
meaning that the art of the poet is to unlock for us. Every poet 
shall interpret them differently, and interpret them rightly, 
because the soul is infinite. Milton's nightingale is not 
Coleridge's; Burns's daisy is not Wordsworth's; Emerson's bumblebee 
is not Lowell's; nor does Turner see in nature what Tintoretto 
does, nor Veronese what Correggio does. Nature is all things to all 
men. "We carry within us," says Sir Thomas Browne, "the wonders we 
find without." The same idea is daintily expressed in these 
tripping verses of Bryant's:--

 "Yet these sweet sounds of the early 
       And these fair sights of its early
   Are only sweet when we fondly listen, 
       And only fair when we fondly gaze.

"There is no glory in star or blossom, 
       Till looked upon by a loving eye;
   There is no fragrance in April breezes,
       Till breathed with joy as they 
            wander by;"

and in these lines of Lowell:--

 "What we call Nature, all outside 
   Is but our own conceit of what we see, 
   Our own reaction upon what we feel."

 "I find my own complexion 

Before either, Coleridge had said:--

 "We receive but what we give,
   And in our life alone doth Nature live;
   Ours is the wedding-garment, ours 
       the shroud;"

and Wordsworth had spoken of

 "The light that never was on sea or 
   The consecration and the poet's

That light that never was on sea or land is what the poet gives us, 
and is what we mean by the poetic interpretation of nature. The 
Oxford professor struggles against this view. "It is not true," he 
says, "that nature is a blank, or an unintelligible scroll with no 
meaning of its own but that which we put into it from the light of 
our own transient feelings." Not a blank, certainly, to the 
scientist, but full of definite meanings and laws, and a storehouse 
of powers and economies; but to the poet the meaning is what he 
pleases to make it, what it provokes in his own soul. To the man of 
science it is thus and so, and not otherwise; but the poet touches 
and goes, and uses nature as a garment which he puts off and on. 
Hence the scientific reading or interpretation of nature is the 
only real one. Says the SOOTHSAYER in "Antony and Cleopatra:"--

 'In Nature's infinite book of secrecy a
       little do I read."

This is science bowed and reverent, and speaking through a great 
poet. The poet himself does not so much read in nature's book--
though he does this, too--as write his own thoughts there. Nature 
reads him, she is the page and he the type, and she takes the 
impression he gives. Of course the poet uses the truths of nature 
also, and he establishes his right to them by bringing them home to 
us with a new and peculiar force,--a quickening or kindling force. 
What science gives is melted in the fervent heat of the poet's 
passion, and comes back to us supplemented by his quality and 
genius. He gives more than he takes, always.




THERE is always a new page to be turned in natural history, if one 
is sufficiently on the alert. I did not know that the eagle 
celebrated his nuptials in the air till one early spring day I saw 
a pair of them fall from the sky with talons hooked together. They 
dropped a hundred feet or more, in a wild embrace, their great 
wings fanning the air, then separated and mounted aloft, tracing 
their great circles against the clouds. "Watch and wait" is the 
naturalist's sign. For years I have been trying to ascertain for a 
certainty the author of that fine plaintive piping to be heard more 
or less frequently, according to the weather, in our summer and 
autumn woods. It is a note that much resembles that of our small 
marsh frog in spring,--the hyla; it is not quite so clear and 
assured, but otherwise much the same. Of a very warm October day I 
have heard the wood vocal with it; it seemed to proceed from every 
stump and tree about one. Ordinarily it is heard   only   at   
intervals  throughout  the woods. Approach never so cautiously the 
spot from which the sound proceeds, and it instantly ceases, and 
you may watch for an hour without again hearing it.  Is it a frog, 
I said, the small tree-frog, the piper of the marshes, repeating 
his spring note, but little changed, amid the trees? Doubtless it 
is, yet I must see him in the very act.  So I watched and waited, 
but to no purpose, till one day, while bee-hunting in the woods, I 
heard the sound proceed from beneath the leaves at my feet.  
Keeping  entirely quiet,  the  little  musician  presently emerged, 
and, lifting himself up on a small stick, his throat palpitated and 
the plaintive note again came forth.  "The queerest frog ever I 
saw," said a youth who accompanied me, and whom I had enlisted to 
help solve the mystery.   No; it was no frog or toad at all, but 
the small red salamander, commonly called lizard.   The color is 
not strictly red,  but a dull orange, variegated with minute specks 
or spots.  This was the mysterious piper, then, heard from May till 
November through all our woods, sometimes on trees, but usually on 
or near the ground.  It makes more music in the woods in autumn 
than any bird.  It is a pretty, inoffensive creature, walks as 
awkwardly as a baby, and may often be found beneath stones and old 
logs in the woods, where, buried in the mould, it passes the 
winter. (I suspect there is a species of little frog--Pickering's 
hyla [footnote:  A frequent piper in the woods throughout the 
summer and early fall.]--that also pipes occasionally in the 
woods.)   I have discovered, also, that we have a musical spider. 
One sunny April day, while seated on the borders of the woods, my 
attention was attracted by a soft, uncertain, purring sound that 
proceeded from the dry leaves at my feet. On investigating the 
matter, I found that it was made by a busy little spider. Several 
of them were traveling about over the leaves, as if in quest of 
some lost cue or secret.  Every moment or two they would pause, and 
by some invisible means make the low, purring sound referred to.  
Dr. J. A. Alien says the common turtle, or land tortoise, also has 
a note,--a loud, shrill, piping sound. It may yet be discovered 
that there is no silent creature in nature.


I turned another (to me) new page in natural history, when, during 
the past season, I made the acquaintance of the sand wasp or 
hornet. From boyhood I had known the black hornet, with his large 
paper nest, and the spiteful yellow-jacket, with his lesser 
domicile, and had cherished proper contempt for the various 
indolent wasps.  But the sand hornet was a new bird,--in fact, the 
harpy eagle among insects,--and he made an impression. While 
walking along the road about midsummer, I noticed working in the 
towpath, where the ground was rather inclined to be dry and sandy, 
a large yellow hornet-like insect. It made a hole the size of one's 
little finger in the hard, gravelly path beside the roadbed. When 
disturbed, it alighted on the dirt and sand in the middle of the 
road.  I had noticed in my walks some small bullet-like holes in 
the field that had piqued my curiosity, and I determined to keep an 
eye on these insects of the roadside.  I explored their holes, and 
found them quite shallow, and no mystery at the bottom of them. One 
morning in the latter part of July, walking that way, I was quickly 
attracted by the sight of a row of little mounds of fine, freshly 
dug earth resting upon the grass beside the road, a foot or more 
beneath the path. "What is this?" I said.  "Mice, or squirrels, or 
snakes," said my neighbor. But I connected it at once with the 
strange insect I had seen.  Neither mice nor squirrels work like 
that, and snakes do not dig.  Above each mound of earth was a hole 
the size of one's largest finger, leading into the bank.  While 
speculating about the phenomenon, I saw one of the large yellow 
hornets I had observed quickly enter one of the holes.  That 
settled the query.  While spade and hoe were being brought to dig 
him out, another hornet appeared, heavy-laden with some prey, and 
flew humming up and down and around the place where I was standing.  
I withdrew a little, when he quickly alighted upon one of the 
mounds of earth, and I saw him carrying into his den no less an 
insect than the cicada or harvest-fly. Then another came, and after 
coursing up and down a few times, disturbed by my presence, 
alighted upon a tree, with his quarry, to rest.  The black hornet 
will capture a fly, or a small butterfly, and, after breaking and 
dismembering it, will take it to his nest; but here was this hornet 
carrying an insect much larger than himself, and flying with ease 
and swiftness.  It was as if a hawk should carry a hen, or an eagle 
a turkey.  I at once proceeded to dig for one of the hornets, and, 
after following his hole about three feet under the footpath and to 
the edge of the roadbed, succeeded in capturing him and recovering 
the cicada.  The hornet weighed fifteen grains, and the cicada 
nineteen; but in bulk the cicada exceeded the hornet by more than 
half.  In color, the wings and thorax, or waist, of the hornet were 
a rich bronze; the abdomen was black, with three irregular yellow 
bands; the legs were large and powerful, especially the third or 
hindmost pair, which were much larger than the others, and armed 
with many spurs and hooks.  In digging its hole the hornet has been 
seen at work very early in the morning.  It backed out with the 
loosened material, like any other animal under the same 
circumstances, holding and scraping back the dirt with its legs.  
The preliminary prospecting upon the footpath, which I had 
observed, seems to have been the work of the males, as it was 
certainly of the smaller hornets, and the object was doubtless to 
examine the ground, and ascertain if the place was suitable for 
nesting.  By digging two or three inches through the hard, gravelly 
surface of the road, a fine sandy loam was discovered, which seemed 
to suit exactly, for in a few days the main shafts were all started 
in the greensward, evidently upon the strength of the favorable 
report which the surveyors had made.  These were dug by the larger 
hornets or females. There was but one inhabitant in each hole, and 
the holes were two or three feet apart.  One that we examined had 
nine chambers or galleries at the end of it, in each of which were 
two locusts, or eighteen in all.  The locusts of the locality had 
suffered great slaughter. Some of them in the hole or den had been 
eaten to a mere shell by the larvæ of the hornet.  Under the wing 
of each insect an egg is attached; the egg soon hatches, and the 
grub at once proceeds to devour the food its thoughtful parent has 
provided.  As it grows, it weaves itself a sort of shell or cocoon, 
in which, after a time, it undergoes its metamorphosis, and comes 
out, I think, a perfect insect toward the end of summer.

I understood now the meaning of that sudden cry of alarm I had so 
often heard proceed from the locust or cicada, followed by some 
object falling and rustling amid the leaves; the poor insect was 
doubtless in the clutches of this arch enemy.  A number of locusts 
usually passed the night on the under side of a large limb of a 
mulberry-tree near by: early one morning a hornet was seen to 
pounce suddenly upon one and drag it over on the top of the limb; a 
struggle ensued, but the locust was soon quieted and carried off.  
It is said that the hornet does not sting the insect in a vital 
part,--for in that case it would not keep fresh for its young,--but 
introduces its poison into certain nervous ganglia, the injury to 
which has the effect of paralyzing the victim and making it 
incapable of motion, though life remains for some time.

My friend Van, who watched the hornets in my absence, saw a fierce 
battle one day over the right of possession of one of the dens.  An 
angry, humming sound was heard to proceed from one of the holes; 
gradually it approached the surface, until the hornets emerged 
locked in each other's embrace, and rolled down the little 
embankment, where the combat was continued.  Finally, one released 
his hold and took up his position in the mouth of his den (of 
course I should say SHE and HER, as these were the queen hornets), 
where she seemed to challenge her antagonist to come on.  The other 
one manœuvred about awhile, but could not draw her enemy out of her 
stronghold; then she clambered up the bank and began to bite and 
tear off bits of grass, and to loosen gravel-stones and earth, and 
roll them down into the mouth of the disputed passage.  This caused 
the besieged hornet to withdraw farther into her hole, when the 
other came down and thrust in her head, but hesitated to enter.  
After more manœuvering, the aggressor withdrew, and began to bore a 
hole about a foot from the one she had tried to possess herself of 
by force.

Besides the cicada, the sand hornet captures grasshoppers and other 
large insects.  I have never met with it before the present summer 
(1879), but this year I have heard of its appearance at several 
points along the Hudson.


If you "leave no stone unturned" in your walks through the fields, 
you may perchance discover the abode of one of our solitary bees.  
Indeed, I have often thought what a chapter of natural history 
might be written on "Life under a Stone," so many of our smaller 
creatures take refuge there,--ants, crickets, spiders, wasps, 
bumblebees, the solitary bee, mice, toads, snakes, and newts.  What 
do these things do in a country where there are no stones?  A stone 
makes a good roof, a good shield; it is water-proof and fire-proof, 
and, until the season becomes too rigorous, frost-proof too.  The 
field mouse wants no better place to nest than beneath a large, 
flat stone, and the bumblebee is entirely satisfied if she can get 
possession of his old or abandoned quarters.  I have even heard of 
a swarm of hive bees going under a stone that was elevated a little 
from the ground.  After that, I did not marvel at Samson's bees 
going into the carcass or skeleton of the lion.

In the woods one day (it was November) I turned over a stone that 
had a very strange-looking creature under it,--a species of 
salamander I had never before seen, the banded salamander.  It was 
five or six inches long, and was black and white in alternate 
bands.  It looked like a creature of the night,--darkness dappled 
with moonlight,--and so it proved.  I wrapped it up in some leaves 
and took it home in my pocket.  By day it would barely move, and 
could not be stimulated or frightened into any activity; but an 
night it was alert and wide awake.  Of its habits I know little, 
but it is a pretty and harmless creature.  Under another stone was 
still another species, the violet-colored salamander, larger, of a 
dark plum-color, with two rows of bright yellow spots down its 
back.  It evinced more activity than its fellow of the moon-
bespattered garb.  I have also found the little musical red newt 
under stones, and several small dark species.

But to return to the solitary bee.  When you go a-hunting of the 
honey-bee, and are in quest of a specimen among the asters or 
goldenrod in some remote field to start a line with, you shall see 
how much this little native bee resembles her cousin of the social 
hive.  There appear to be several varieties, but the one I have in 
mind is just the size of the honey-bee, and of the same general 
form and color, and its manner among the flowers is nearly the 
same.  On close inspection, its color proves to be lighter, while 
the under side of its abdomen is of a rich bronze.  The body is 
also flatter and less tapering, and the curve inclines upward, 
rather than downward.   You perceive it would be the easiest thing 
in the world for the bee to sting an enemy perched upon its back.  
One variety, with a bright buff abdomen, is called "sweat-bee" by 
the laborers in the field, because it alights upon their hands and 
bare arms when they are sweaty,--doubtless in quest of salt.  It 
builds its nest in little cavities in rails and posts.  But the one 
with the bronze or copper bottom  builds under a stone.  I 
discovered its nest one day in this wise: I was lying on the ground 
in a field, watching a line of honey-bees to the woods, when my 
attention was arrested by one of these native bees flying about me 
in a curious, inquiring way.  When it returned the third time, I 
said, "That bee wants something of me," which proved to be the 
case, for I was lying upon the entrance to its nest.    On my 
getting up, it alighted and crawled quickly home.  I turned over 
the stone, which was less than a foot across, when the nest was 
partially exposed.  It consisted of four cells, built in succession 
in a little tunnel that had been excavated in the ground. The 
cells, which were about three quarters of an inch long and half as 
far through, were made of sections cut from the leaf of the maple,--
cut with the mandibles of the bee, which work precisely like 
shears.  I have seen the bee at work cutting out these pieces. She 
moves through the leaf like the hand of the tailor through a piece 
of cloth. When the pattern is detached, she rolls it up, and, 
embracing it with her legs, flies home with it, often appearing to 
have a bundle disproportionately large.  Each cell is made up of a 
dozen or more pieces: the larger ones, those that form its walls, 
like the walls of a paper bag, are oblong, and are turned down at 
one end, so as to form the bottom; not one thickness of leaf 
merely, but three or four thicknesses, each fragment of leaf 
lapping over another. When the cell is completed, it is filled 
about two thirds full of bee-bread,--the color of that in the comb 
in the hive, but not so dry, and having a sourish smell. Upon this 
the egg is laid, and upon this the young feed when hatched. Is the 
paper bag now tied up?  No, it is headed up; circular bits of 
leaves are nicely fitted into it to the number of six or seven. 
They are cut without pattern or compass, and yet they are all 
alike, and all exactly fit.  Indeed, the construction of this cell 
or receptacle shows great ingenuity and skill. The bee is, of 
course, unable to manage a single section of a leaf large enough, 
when rolled up, to form it, and so is obliged to construct it of 
smaller pieces, such as she can carry, lapping them one over 

A few days later I saw a smaller species carrying fragments of a 
yellow autumn leaf under a stone in a cornfield.  On examining the 
place about sundown to see if the bee lodged there, I found her 
snugly ensconced in a little rude cell that adhered to the under 
side of the stone.  There was no pollen in it, and I half suspected 
it was merely a berth in which to pass the night.

These bees do not live even in pairs, but absolutely alone.  They 
have large baskets on their legs in which to carry pollen, an 
article they are very industrious in collecting.

Why the larger species above described should have waited till 
October to build its nest is a mystery to me.  Perhaps this was the 
second brood of the season, or can it be that the young were not to 
hatch till the following spring?


I am more than half persuaded that the muskrat is a wise little 
animal, and that on the subject of the weather, especially, he 
possesses some secret that I should be glad to know.  In the fall 
of 1878 I noticed that he built unusually high and massive nests.  
I noticed them in several different localities.  In a shallow, 
sluggish pond by the roadside, which I used to pass daily in my 
walk, two nests were in process of construction throughout the 
month of November.  The builders worked only at night, and I could 
see each day that the work had visibly advanced.  When there was a 
slight skim of ice over the pond, this was broken up about the 
nests, with trails through it in different directions where the 
material had been brought.  The houses were placed a little to one 
side of the main channel, and were constructed entirely of a 
species of coarse wild grass that grew all about.  So far as I 
could see, from first to last they were solid masses of grass, as 
if the interior cavity or nest was to be excavated afterward, as 
doubtless it was.  As they emerged from the pond they gradually 
assumed the shape of a miniature mountain, very bold and steep on 
the south side, and running down a long, gentle grade to the 
surface of the water on the north.  One could see that the little 
architect hauled all his material up this easy slope, and thrust it 
out boldly around the other side.  Every mouthful was distinctly 
defined.  After they were two feet or more above the water, I 
expected each day to see that the finishing stroke had been given 
and the work brought to a close.  But higher yet, said the builder.  
December drew near, the cold became threatening, and I was 
apprehensive that winter would suddenly shut down upon those 
unfinished nests.  But the wise rats knew better than I did; they 
had received private advices from headquarters, that I knew not of.  
Finally, about the 6th of December, the nests assumed completion; 
the northern incline was absorbed or carried up, and each structure 
became a strong, massive cone, three or four feet high, the largest 
nest of the kind I had ever seen.  Does it mean a severe winter?  I 
inquired.  An old farmer said it meant "high water," and he was 
right once, at least, for in a few days afterward we had the 
heaviest rainfall known in this section for half a century.  The 
creeks rose to an almost unprecedented height.  The sluggish pond 
became a seething, turbulent water-course; gradually the angry 
element crept up the sides of these lake dwellings, till, when the 
rain ceased, about four o'clock, they showed above the flood no 
larger than a man's hat.  During the night the channel shifted till 
the main current swept over them, and next day not a vestige of the 
nests was to be seen; they had gone downstream, as had many other 
dwellings of a less temporary character. The rats had built wisely, 
and would have been perfectly secure against any ordinary high 
water, but who can foresee a flood?  The oldest traditions of their 
race did not run back to the time of such a visitation.

Nearly a week afterward another dwelling was begun, well away from 
the treacherous channel, but the architects did not work at it with 
much heart: the material was very scarce, the ice hindered; and 
before the basement story was fairly finished, Winter had the pond 
under his lock and key.

In other localities I noticed that, where the nests were placed on 
the banks of streams, they were made secure against the floods by 
being built amid a small clump of bushes.  When the fall of 1879 
came, the muskrats were very tardy about beginning their house, 
laying the corner-stone--or the corner-sod--about December 1, and 
continuing the work slowly and indifferently.  On the 15th of the 
month the nest was not yet finished.  This, I said, indicates a 
mild winter; and, sure enough, the season was one of the mildest 
known for many years.  The rats had little use for their house.

Again, in the fall of 1880, while the weather-wise were wagging 
their heads, some forecasting a mild, some a severe winter, I 
watched with interest for a sign from my muskrats.  About November 
1, a month earlier than the previous year, they began their nest, 
and worked at it with a will.  They appeared to have just got 
tidings of what was coming.  If I had taken the hint so palpably 
given, my celery would not have been frozen up in the ground, and 
my apples caught in unprotected places.  When the cold wave struck 
us, about November 20, my four-legged "I-told-you-so's" had nearly 
completed their dwelling; it lacked only the ridge-board, so to 
speak; it needed a little "topping out," to give it a finished 
look. But this it never got.  The winter had come to stay, and it 
waxed more and more severe, till the unprecedented cold of the last 
days of December must have astonished even the wise muskrats in 
their snug retreat.  I approached their nest at this time, a white 
mound upon the white, deeply frozen surface of the pond, and 
wondered if there was any life in that apparent sepulchre.  I 
thrust my walking-stick sharply into it, when there was a rustle 
and a splash into the water, as the occupant made his escape.  What 
a damp basement that house has, I thought, and what a pity to rout 
a peaceful neighbor out of his bed in this weather, and into such a 
state of things as this!  But water does not wet the muskrat; his 
fur is charmed, and not a drop penetrates it.

Where the ground is favorable, the muskrats do not build these 
mound-like nests, but burrow into the bank a long distance, and 
establish their winter-quarters there.

Shall we not say, then, in view of the above facts, that this 
little creature is weatherwise? The hitting of the mark twice might 
be mere good luck; but three bull's-eyes in succession is not a 
mere coincidence; it is a proof of skill. The muskrat is not found 
in the Old World, which is a little singular, as other rats so 
abound there, and as those slow-going English streams especially, 
with their grassy banks, are so well suited to him.  The water-rat 
of Europe is smaller, but of similar nature and habits.  The 
muskrat does not hibernate like some rodents, but is pretty active 
all winter. In December I noticed in my walk where they had made 
excursions of a few yards to an orchard for frozen apples.  One 
day, along a little stream, I saw a mink track amid those of the 
muskrat; following it up, I presently came to blood and other marks 
of strife upon the snow beside a stone wall.  Looking in between 
the stones, I found the carcass of the luckless rat, with its head 
and neck eaten away. The mink had made a meal of him.


For the largest and finest chestnuts I had last fall I was indebted 
to the gray squirrels.  Walking through the early October woods one 
day, I came upon a place where the ground was thickly strewn with 
very large unopened chestnut burrs.  On examination, I found that 
every burr had been cut square off with about an inch of the stem 
adhering, and not one had been left on the tree.  It was not 
accident, then, but design.  Whose design?  The squirrels'. The 
fruit was the finest I had ever seen in the woods, and some wise 
squirrel had marked it for his own.  The burrs were ripe, and had 
just begun to divide, not "threefold," but fourfold, "to show the 
fruit within."  The squirrel that had taken all this pains had 
evidently reasoned with himself thus: "Now, these are extremely 
fine chestnuts, and I want them; if I wait till the burrs open on 
the tree, the crows and jays will be sure to carry off a great many 
of the nuts before they fall; then, after the wind has rattled out 
what remain, there are the mice, the chipmunks, the red squirrels, 
the raccoons, the grouse, to say nothing of the boys and the pigs, 
to come in for their share; so I will forestall events a little: I 
will cut off the burrs when they have matured, and a few days of 
this dry October weather will cause every one of them to open on 
the ground; I shall be on hand in the nick of time to gather up my 
nuts."  The squirrel, of course, had to take the chances of a 
prowler like myself coming along, but he had fairly stolen a march 
on his neighbors.  As I proceeded to collect and open the burrs, I 
was half prepared to hear an audible protest from the trees about, 
for I constantly fancied myself watched by shy but jealous eyes.  
It is an interesting inquiry how the squirrel knew the burrs would 
open if left to lie on the ground a few days.  Perhaps he did not 
know, but thought the experiment worth trying.

The gray squirrel is peculiarly an American product, and might 
serve very well as a national emblem.  The Old World can beat us on 
rats and mice, but we are far ahead on squirrels, having five or 
six species to Europe's one. 


My note-book of the past season is enriched with the unusual 
incident of an English skylark in full song above an Esopus meadow.  
I was poking about a marshy place in a low field one morning in 
early May, when, through the maze of bird-voices,--laughter of 
robins, call of meadowlarks, song of bobolinks, ditty of sparrows, 
whistle of orioles, twitter of swallows,--with which the air was 
filled, my ear suddenly caught an unfamiliar strain.  I paused to 
listen: can it be possible, I thought, that I hear a lark, or am I 
dreaming? The song came from the air, above a wide, low meadow many 
hundred yards away.  Withdrawing a few paces to a more elevated 
position, I bent my eye and ear eagerly in that direction.  Yes, 
that unstinted, jubilant, skyward, multitudinous song can be none 
other than the lark's!  Any of our native songsters would have 
ceased while I was listening.  Presently I was fortunate enough to 
catch sight of the bird. He had reached his climax in the sky, and 
was hanging with quivering wings beneath a small white cloud, 
against which his form was clearly revealed.  I had seen and heard 
the lark in England, else I should still have been in doubt about 
the identity of this singer.  While I was climbing a fence I was 
obliged to take my eye from the bird, and when I looked again the 
song had ceased and the lark had gone.  I was soon in the meadow 
above which I had heard him, and the first bird I flushed was the 

How strange he looked to my eye (I use the masculine gender because 
it was a male bird, but an Irishman laboring in the field, to whom 
I related my discovery, spoke touchingly of the bird as "she," and 
I notice that the old poets do the same); his long, sharp wings, 
and something in his manner of flight suggested a shore-bird.  I 
followed him about the meadow and got several snatches of song out 
of him, but not again the soaring, skyward flight and copious 
musical shower.   By appearing to pass by, I several times got 
within a few yards of him; as I drew near he would squat in the 
stubble, and then suddenly start up, and, when fairly launched, 
sing briefly till he alighted again fifteen or twenty rods away.  I 
came twice the next day and twice the  next,  and each time found 
the  lark in the meadow or heard his song from the air or the sky.  
What was especially interesting was that the lark had "singled out 
with affection" one of our native birds, and the one that most 
resembled its kind, namely, the vesper sparrow, or grass finch.  To 
this bird I saw him paying his addresses with the greatest 
assiduity.  He would follow it about and hover above it, and by 
many gentle indirections seek to approach it.  But the sparrow was 
shy, and evidently did not know what to make of her distinguished 
foreign lover.  It would sometimes take refuge in a bush, when the 
lark, not being a percher, would alight upon the ground beneath it.  
This sparrow looks enough like the lark to be a near relation.  Its 
color is precisely the same, and it has the distinguishing mark of 
the two lateral white quills in its tail.  It has the same habit of 
skulking in the stubble or the grass as you approach; it is 
exclusively a field-bird, and certain of its notes might have been 
copied from the lark's song.  In size it is about a third smaller, 
and this is the most marked difference between them.  With the 
nobler bipeds, this would not have been any obstacle to the union, 
and in this case the lark was evidently quite ready to ignore the 
difference, but the sparrow persisted in saying him nay.  It was 
doubtless this obstinacy on her part that drove the lark away, for, 
on the fifth day, I could not find him, and have never seen nor 
heard him since.   I hope he found a mate somewhere, but it is 
quite improbable.  The bird had, most likely, escaped from a cage, 
or, maybe, it was a survivor of a number liberated some years ago 
on Long Island.  There is no reason why I  the lark should not 
thrive in this country as well as in Europe, and, if a few hundred 
were liberated in any of our fields in April or May, I have little 
doubt they would soon become established.   And what an acquisition 
it would be!   As a songster, the lark is deserving of all the 
praise that has been bestowed upon him.  He would not add so much 
to the harmony or melody of our bird-choir as he would add to its 
blithesomeness, joyousness, and power. His voice is the jocund and 
inspiring voice of a spring morning.  It is like a ceaseless and 
hilarious clapping of hands.  I was much interested in an account a 
friend gave me of the first skylark he heard while abroad.  He had 
been so full of the sights and wonders of the Old World that he had 
quite forgotten the larks, when one day, as he was walking 
somewhere near the sea, a brown bird started up in front of him, 
and mounting upward began to sing.  It drew his attention, and as 
the bird went skyward, pouring out his rapid and jubilant notes, 
like bees from a hive in swarming-time, the truth suddenly flashed 
upon the observer.

"Good heavens!" he exclaimed, "that is a skylark; there is no 
mistaking that bird."

It is this unique and unmistakable character of the lark's song, 
and its fountain-like sparkle and copiousness, that are the main 
sources of its charm.


How the nocturnal insects, the tree-crickets and katydids, fail as 
the heat fails!  They are musicians that play fast or slow, strong 
or feeble, just as the heat of the season waxes or wanes; and they 
play as long as life lasts: when their music ceases, they are dead.  
The katydids begin in August, and cry with great vigor and spirit, 
"Katy-did,"  "Katydid," or "Katy-did n't." Toward the last of 
September they have taken in sail a good deal, and cry simply, 
"Katy," "Katy," with frequent pauses and resting-spells.  In 
October they languidly gasp or rasp, "Kate,"  "Kate,"  "Kate," and 
before the end of the month they become entirely inaudible, though 
I suspect that if one's ear were sharp enough he might still hear a 
dying whisper, "Kate,"  "Kate."  Those cousins of Katy, the little 
green purring tree-crickets, fail in the same way and at the same 
time.  When their chorus is fullest, the warm autumn night fairly 
throbs with the soft lulling undertone.  I notice that the sound is 
in waves or has a kind of rhythmic beat. What a gentle, unobtrusive 
background it forms for the sharp, reedy notes of the katydids!  As 
the season advances, their life ebbs and ebbs: you hear one here 
and one there, but the air is no longer filled with that regular 
pulse-beat of sound. One by one the musicians cease, till, perhaps 
on some mild night late in October, you hear--just hear and that is 
all--the last feeble note of the last of these little harpers.


In the spring movements of the fishes up the stream, toward their 
spawning-beds, the females are the pioneers, appearing some days in 
advance of the males.  With the birds the reverse is the case, the 
males coming a week or ten days before the females.  The female 
fish is usually the larger and stronger, and perhaps better able to 
take the lead; among most reptiles the same fact holds, and 
throughout the insect world there is to my knowledge no exception 
to the rule.  Among the birds, the only exception I am aware of is 
in the case of the birds of prey.  Here the female is the larger 
and stronger.  If you see an exceptionally large and powerful 
eagle, rest assured the sex is feminine.  But higher in the scale 
the male comes to the front and leads in size and strength.

But the first familiar spring birds are cocks; hence the songs and 
tilts and rivalries.  Hence also the fact that they are slightly in 
excess of the other sex, to make up for this greater exposure; 
apparently no courting is done in the South, and no matches are 
prearranged.  The males leave irregularly without any hint, I 
suspect, to the females as to when and where they will meet them.  
In the case of the passenger pigeon, however, the two sexes travel 
together, as they do among the migrating water-fowls.

With the song-birds, love-making begins as soon as the hens are 
here.  So far as I have observed, the robin and the bluebird win 
their mates by gentle and fond approaches; but certain of the 
sparrows, notably the little social sparrow or "chippie," appear to 
carry the case by storm.  The same proceeding may be observed among 
the English sparrows, now fairly established on our soil.  Two or 
three males beset a female, and a regular scuffle ensues.  The poor 
bird is pulled and jostled and cajoled amid what appears to be the 
greatest mirth and hilarity of her audacious suitors.  Her plumage 
is plucked and ruffled; the rivals roll over each other and over 
her; she extricates herself as best she can, and seems to say or 
scream "no,"  "no," to every one of them with great emphasis.  What 
finally determines her choice would be hard to say.  Our own 
sparrows are far less noisy and obstreperous, but the same little 
comedy in a milder form is often enacted among them.   When two 
males have a tilt, they rise several feet in the air, beak to beak, 
and seek to deal each other blows as they mount.  I have seen two 
male chewinks facing each other and wrathfully impelled upward in 
the same manner, while the female that was the bone of contention 
between them regarded them unconcernedly from the near bushes.

The bobolink is also a precipitate and impetuous wooer.  It is a 
trial of speed, as if the female were to say, "Catch me and I am 
yours," and she scurries away with all her might and main, often 
with three or four dusky knights in hot pursuit.  When she takes to 
cover in the grass, there is generally a squabble "down among the 
tickle-tops," or under the buttercups, and "Winterseeble" or 
"Conquedle" is the winner.

In marked contrast to this violent love-making are the social and 
festive reunions of the goldfinches about mating time.  All the 
birds of a neighborhood gather in a treetop, and the trial 
apparently becomes one of voice and song.  The contest is a most 
friendly and happy one; all is harmony and gayety.  The females 
chirrup and twitter, and utter their confiding "PAISLEY"  
"PAISLEY," while the more gayly dressed males squeak and warble in 
the most delightful strain.  The matches are apparently all made 
and published during these gatherings; everybody is in a happy 
frame of mind; there is no jealousy, and no rivalry but to see who 
shall be gayest.

It often happens among the birds that the male has a rival after 
the nuptials have been celebrated and the work of housekeeping 
fairly begun.  Every season a pair of phœbe-birds have built their 
nest on an elbow in the spouting beneath the eaves of my house.  
The past spring a belated male made desperate efforts to supplant 
the lawful mate and gain possession of the unfinished nest.  There 
was a battle fought about the premises every hour in the day for at 
least a week.  The antagonists would frequently grapple and fall to 
the ground, and keep their hold like two dogs.  On one such 
occasion I came near covering them with my hat.  I believe the 
intruder was finally worsted and withdrew from the place. One 
noticeable feature of the affair was the apparent utter 
indifference of the female, who went on with her nest-building as 
if all was peace and harmony.  There can be little doubt that she 
would have applauded and accepted the other bird had he finally 
been the victor.

One of the most graceful of warriors is the robin. I know few 
prettier sights than two males challenging and curveting about each 
other upon the grass in early spring.  Their attentions to each 
other are so courteous and restrained. In alternate curves and 
graceful sallies, they pursue and circumvent each other.  First one 
hops a few feet, then the other, each one standing erect in true 
military style while his fellow passes him and describes the 
segment of an ellipse about him, both uttering the while a fine 
complacent warble in a high but suppressed key.  Are they lovers or 
enemies? the beholder wonders, until they make a spring and are 
beak to beak in the twinkling of an eye, and perhaps mount a few 
feet into the air, but rarely actually delivering blows upon each 
other.  Every thrust is parried, every movement met.  They follow 
each other with dignified composure about the fields or lawn, into 
trees and upon the ground, with plumage slightly spread, breasts 
glowing, their lisping, shrill war-song just audible.  It forms on 
the whole the most civil and high-bred tilt to be witnessed during 
the season.

When the cock-robin makes love he is the same considerate, 
deferential, but insinuating gallant.  The warble he makes use of 
on that occasion is the same, so far as my ear can tell, as the one 
he pipes when facing his rival.


I stood on a high hill or ridge one autumn day and saw a hound run 
a fox through the fields far beneath me.  What odors that fox must 
have shaken out of himself, I thought, to be traced thus easily, 
and how great their specific gravity not to have been blown away 
like smoke by the breeze!  The fox ran a long distance down the 
hill, keeping within a few feet of a stone wall; then turned a 
right angle and led off for the mountain, across a plowed field and 
a succession of pasture lands.  In about fifteen minutes the hound 
came in full blast with her nose in the air, and never once did she 
put it to the ground while in my sight.  When she came to the stone 
wall, she took the other side from that taken by the fox, and kept 
about the same distance from it, being thus separated several yards 
from his track, with the fence between her and it.  At the point 
where the fox turned sharply to the left, the hound overshot a few 
yards, then wheeled, and, feeling the air a moment with her nose, 
took up the scent again and was off on his trail as unerringly as 
Fate.  It seemed as if the fox must have sowed himself broadcast as 
he went along, and that his scent was so rank and heavy that it 
settled in the hollows and clung tenaciously to the bushes and 
crevices in the fence.  I thought I ought to have caught a remnant 
of it as I passed that way some minutes later, but I did not.  But 
I suppose it was not that the light-footed fox so impressed himself 
upon the ground he ran over, but that the sense of the hound was so 
keen.  To her sensitive nose these tracks steamed like hot cakes, 
and they would not have cooled off so as to be undistinguishable 
for several hours.  For the time being, she had but one sense: her 
whole soul was concentrated in her nose.

It is amusing, when the hunter starts out of a winter morning, to 
see his hound probe the old tracks to determine how recent they 
are.  He sinks his nose down deep in the snow so as to exclude the 
air from above, then draws a long full breath, giving sometimes an 
audible snort.  If there remains the least effluvium of the fox, 
the hound will detect it.  If it be very slight, it only sets his 
tail wagging; if it be strong, it unloosens his tongue.

Such things remind one of the waste, the friction, that is going on 
all about us, even when the wheels of life run the most smoothly.  
A fox cannot trip along the top of 'a stone wall so lightly but 
that he will leave enough of himself to betray his course to the 
hound for hours afterward.  When the boys play "hare and hounds," 
the hare scatters bits of paper to give a clew to the pursuers, but 
he scatters himself much more freely if only our sight and scent 
were sharp enough to detect the fragments.  Even the fish leave a 
trail in the water, and it is said the otter will pursue them by 
it.  The birds make a track in the air, only their enemies hunt by 
sight rather than by scent.  The fox baffles the hound most upon a 
hard crust of frozen snow; the scent will not hold to the smooth, 
bead-like granules.

Judged by the eye alone, the fox is the lightest and most buoyant 
creature that runs.  His soft wrapping of fur conceals the muscular 
play and effort that is so obvious in the hound that pursues him, 
and he comes bounding along precisely as if blown by a gentle wind.  
His massive tail is carried as if it floated upon the air by its 
own lightness.

The hound is not remarkable for his fleetness, but how he will 
hang!--often running late into the night, and sometimes till 
morning, from ridge to ridge, from peak to peak; now on the 
mountain, now crossing the valley, now playing about a large slope 
of uplying pasture fields.  At times the fox has a pretty well-
defined orbit, and the hunter knows where to intercept him.  Again, 
he leads off like a comet, quite beyond the system of hills and 
ridges upon which he was started, and his return is entirely a 
matter of conjecture; but if the day be not more than half spent, 
the chances are that the fox will be back before night, though the 
sportsman's patience seldom holds out that long.

The hound is a most interesting dog.  How solemn and long-visaged 
he is,--how peaceful and well-disposed!  He is the Quaker among 
dogs.  All the viciousness and currishness seem to have been weeded 
out of him; he seldom quarrels, or fights, or plays, like other 
dogs.  Two strange hounds, meeting for the first time, behave as 
civilly toward each other as two men.  I know a hound that has an 
ancient, wrinkled, human, far-away look that reminds one of the 
bust of Homer among the Elgin marbles.  He looks like the mountains 
toward which his heart yearns so much.

The hound is a great puzzle to the farm dog; the latter, attracted 
by his baying, comes barking and snarling up through the fields, 
bent on picking a quarrel; he intercepts the hound, snubs and 
insults and annoys him in every way possible, but the hound heeds 
him not: if the dog attacks him, he gets away as best he can, and 
goes on with the trail; the cur bristles and barks and struts about 
for a while, then goes back to the house, evidently thinking the 
hound a lunatic, which he is for the time being,--a monomaniac, the 
slave and victim of one idea.  I saw the master of a hound one day 
arrest him in full course, to give one of the hunters time to get 
to a certain runway; the dog cried and struggled to free himself, 
and would listen to neither threats nor caresses.  Knowing he must 
be hungry, I offered him my lunch, but he would not touch it.  I 
put it in his mouth, but he threw it contemptuously from him.  We 
coaxed and petted and reassured him, but he was under a spell; he 
was bereft of all thought or desire but the one passion to pursue 
that trail.


We can boast a greater assortment of toads and frogs in this 
country than can any other land.  What a chorus goes up from our 
ponds and marshes in spring!  The like of it cannot be heard 
anywhere else under the sun.  In Europe it would certainly have 
made an impression upon the literature. An attentive ear will 
detect first one variety, then another, each occupying the stage 
from three or four days to a week.  The latter part of April, when 
the little peeping frogs are in full chorus, one comes upon places, 
in his drives or walks late in the day, where the air fairly 
palpitates with sound; from every little marshy hollow and spring 
run there rises an impenetrable maze or cloud of shrill musical 
voices.  After the peepers, the next frog to appear is the clucking 
frog, a rather small, dark-brown frog, with a harsh, clucking note, 
which later in the season becomes the well-known brown wood-frog.  
Their chorus is heard for a few days only, while their spawn is 
being deposited. In less than a week it ceases, and I never hear 
them again till the next April.  As the weather gets warmer, the 
toads take to the water, and set up that long-drawn musical tr-r-r-
r-r-r-r-ing note. The voice of the bullfrog, who calls, according 
to the boys, "jug o' rum,"  "jug o' rum,"  "pull the plug,"  "pull 
the plug," is not heard much before June.  The peepers, the 
clucking frog, and the bullfrog are the only ones that call in 
chorus.  The most interesting and the most shy and withdrawn of all 
our frogs and toads is the tree-toad,--the creature that, from the 
old apple or cherry tree, or red cedar, announces the approach of 
rain, and baffles your every effort to see or discover it.  It has 
not (as some people imagine) exactly the power of the chameleon to 
render itself invisible by assuming the color of the object it 
perches upon, but it sits very close and still, and its mottled 
back, of different shades of ashen gray, blends it perfectly with 
the bark of nearly every tree.  The only change in its color I have 
ever noticed is that it is lighter on a light-colored tree, like 
the beech or soft maple, and darker on the apple, or cedar, or 
pine.  Then it is usually hidden in some cavity or hollow of the 
tree, when its voice appears to come from the outside.

Most of my observations upon the habits of this creature run 
counter to the authorities I have been able to consult on the 

In the first place, the tree-toad is nocturnal in its habits, like 
the common toad.  By day it remains motionless and concealed; by 
night it is as alert and active as an owl, feeding and moving about 
from tree to tree.  I have never known one to change its position 
by day, and never knew one to fail to do so by night.  Last summer 
one was discovered sitting against a window upon a climbing 
rosebush.  The house had not been occupied for some days, and when 
the curtain was drawn the toad was discovered and closely observed.  
His light gray color harmonized perfectly with the unpainted 
woodwork of the house.   During the day he never moved a muscle, 
but next morning he was gone.  A friend of mine caught one, and 
placed it under a tumbler on his table at night, leaving the edge 
of the glass raised about the eighth of an inch to admit the air.  
During the night he was awakened by a strange sound in his room.  
Pat, pat, pat went some object, now here, now there, among the 
furniture, or upon the walls and doors.   On investigating the 
matter, he found that by some means his tree-toad had escaped from 
under the glass, and was leaping in a very lively manner about the 
room, producing the sound he had heard when it alighted upon the 
door, or wall, or other perpendicular surface.

The home of the tree-toad, I am convinced, is usually a hollow limb 
or other cavity in the tree; here he makes his headquarters, and 
passes most of the day.  For two years a pair of them frequented an 
old apple-tree near my house, occasionally sitting at the mouth of 
a cavity that led into a large branch, but usually their voices 
were heard from within the cavity itself.  On one occasion, while 
walking in the woods in early May, I heard the voice of a tree-toad 
but a few yards from me.  Cautiously following up the sound, I 
decided, after some delay, that it proceeded from the trunk of a 
small soft maple; the tree was hollow, the entrance to the interior 
being a few feet from the ground.  I could not discover the toad, 
but was so convinced that it was concealed in the tree, that I 
stopped up the hole, determined to return with an axe, when I had 
time, and cut the trunk open.  A week elapsed before I again went 
to the woods, when, on cutting into the cavity of the tree, I found 
a pair of tree-toads, male and female, and a large, shelless snail.  
Whether the presence of the snail was accidental, or whether these 
creatures associated together for some purpose, I do not know.  The 
male toad was easily distinguished from the female by its large 
head, and more thin, slender, and angular body.  The female was 
much the more beautiful, both in form and color.  The cavity, which 
was long and irregular, was evidently their home; it had been 
nicely cleaned out, and was a snug, safe apartment.

The finding of the two sexes together, under such circumstances and 
at that time of the year, suggests the inquiry whether they do not 
breed away from the water, as others of our toads are known at 
times to do, and thus skip the tadpole state.  I have several times 
seen the ground, after a June shower, swarming with minute toads, 
out to wet their jackets.  Some of them were no larger than 
crickets. They were a long distance from the water, and had 
evidently been hatched on the land, and had never been polliwogs.  
Whether the tree-toad breeds in trees or on the land, yet remains 
to be determined. [FOOTNOTE: It now (1895) seems well established 
that both common toads and tree-toads pass the first period of 
their lives in water as tadpoles, and that both undergo their 
metamorphosis when very small.  As soon as the change is effected, 
the little toads leave the water and scatter themselves over the 
country with remarkable rapidity, traveling chiefly by night, but 
showing themselves in the daytime after showers.]

Another fact in the natural history of this creature, not set down 
in the books, is that they pass the winter in a torpid state in the 
ground, or in stumps and hollow trees, instead of in the mud of 
ponds and marshes, like true frogs, as we have been taught.  The 
pair in the old apple-tree above referred to, I heard on a warm, 
moist day late in November, and again early in April.  On the 
latter occasion, I reached my hand down into the cavity of the tree 
and took out one of the toads.  It was the first I had heard, and I 
am convinced it had passed the winter in the moist, mud-like mass 
of rotten wood that partially filled the cavity.  It had a fresh, 
delicate tint, as if it had not before seen the light that spring.  
The president of a Western college writes in "Science News" that 
two of his students found one in the winter in an old stump which 
they demolished; and a person whose veracity I have no reason to 
doubt sends me a specimen that he dug out of the ground in December 
while hunting for Indian relics.  The place was on the top of a 
hill, under a pine-tree.  The ground was frozen on the surface, and 
the toad was, of course, torpid.

During the present season, I obtained additional proof of the fact 
that the tree-toad hibernates on dry land. The 12th of November was 
a warm, spring-like day; wind southwest, with slight rain in the 
afternoon,--just the day to bring things out of their winter 
retreats.  As I was about to enter my door at dusk, my eye fell 
upon what proved to be the large tree-toad in question, sitting on 
some low stone-work at the foot of a terrace a few feet from the 
house.  I paused to observe his movements.  Presently he started on 
his travels across the yard toward the lawn in front.  He leaped 
about three feet at a time, with long pauses between each leap.  
For fear of losing him as it grew darker, I captured him, and kept 
him under the coal sieve till morning.  He was very active at night 
trying to escape.  In the morning, I amused myself with him for 
some time in the kitchen.  I found he could adhere to a window-
pane, but could not ascend it; gradually his hold yielded, till he 
sprang off on the casing.  I observed that, in sitting upon the 
floor or upon the ground, he avoided bringing his toes in contact 
with the surface, as if they were too tender or delicate for such 
coarse uses, but sat upon the hind part of his feet.  Said toes had 
a very bungling, awkward appearance at such times; they looked like 
hands encased in gray woolen gloves much too large for them.  Their 
round, flattened ends, especially when not in use, had a comically 
helpless look.

After a while I let my prisoner escape into the open air.  The 
weather had grown much colder, and there was a hint of coming 
frost.  The toad took the hint at once, and, after hopping a few 
yards from the door to the edge of a grassy bank, began to prepare 
for winter.  It was a curious proceeding.  He went into the ground 
backward, elbowing himself through the turf with the sharp joints 
of his hind legs, and going down in a spiral manner.  His progress 
was very slow: at night I could still see him by lifting the grass; 
and as the weather changed again to warm, with southerly winds 
before morning, he stopped digging entirely.  The next day I took 
him out, and put him into a bottomless tub sunk into the ground and 
filled with soft earth, leaves, and leaf mould, where he passed the 
winter safely, and came out fresh and bright in the spring.

The little peeping frogs lead a sort of arboreal life, too, a part 
of the season, but they are quite different from the true tree-
toads above described.  They appear to leave the marshes in May, 
and to take to the woods or bushes.  I have never seen them on 
trees, but upon low shrubs.  They do not seem to be climbers, but 
perchers.  I caught one in May, in some low bushes a few rods from 
the swamp.  It perched upon the small twigs like a bird, and would 
leap about among them, sure of its hold every time.  I was first 
attracted by its piping. I brought it home, and it piped for one 
twilight in a bush in my yard and then was gone.  I do not think 
they pipe much after leaving the water.  I have found them early in 
April upon the ground in the woods, and again late in the fall.

In November, 1879, the warm, moist weather brought them out in 
numbers. They were hopping about everywhere upon the fallen leaves.  
Within a small space I captured six.  Some of them were the hue of 
the tan-colored leaves, probably Pickering's hyla, and some were 
darker, according to the locality.  Of course they do not go to the 
marshes to winter, else they would not wait so late in the season.  
I examined the ponds and marshes, and found bullfrogs buried in the 
mud, but no peepers.


We never know the precise time the birds leave us in the fall: they 
do not go suddenly; their departure is like that of an army of 
occupation in no hurry to be off; they keep going and going, and we 
hardly know when the last straggler is gone.  Not so their return 
in the spring: then it is like an army of invasion, and we know the 
very day when the first scouts appear.  It is a memorable event.  
Indeed, it is always a surprise to me, and one of the compensations 
of our abrupt and changeable climate, this suddenness with which 
the birds come in spring,--in fact, with which spring itself comes, 
alighting, maybe, to tarry only a day or two, but real and genuine, 
for all that. When March arrives, we do not know what a day may 
bring forth.  It is like turning over a leaf, a new chapter of 
startling incidents lying just on the other side.

A few days ago, Winter had not perceptibly relaxed his hold; then 
suddenly he began to soften a little, and a warm haze to creep up 
from the south, but not a solitary bird, save the winter residents, 
was to be seen or heard.  Next day the sun seemed to have drawn 
immensely nearer; his beams were full of power; and we said, 
"Behold the first spring morning!  And, as if to make the prophecy 
complete, there is the note of a bluebird, and it is not yet nine 
o'clock."  Then others, and still others, were heard.  How did they 
know it was going to be a suitable day for them to put in an 
appearance?  It seemed as if they must have been waiting somewhere 
close by for the first warm day, like actors behind the scenes,--
the moment the curtain was lifted, they were ready and rushed upon 
the stage.  The third warm day, and, behold, all the principal 
performers come rushing in,--song sparrows, cow blackbirds, 
grackles, the meadowlark, cedar-birds, the phœbe-bird, and, hark! 
what bird laughter was that? the robins, hurrah! the robins! Not 
two or three, but a score or two of them; they are following the 
river valley north, and they stop in the trees from time to time, 
and give vent to their gladness.  It is like a summer picnic of 
school-children suddenly let loose in a wood; they sing, shout, 
whistle, squeal, call, in the most blithesome strains.  The warm 
wave has brought the birds upon its crest; or some barrier has 
given way, the levee of winter has broken, and spring comes like an 
inundation.  No doubt, the snow and the frost will stop the 
crevasse again, but only for a brief season.

Between the 10th and the 15th of March, in the Middle and Eastern 
States, we are pretty sure to have one or more of these spring 
days.  Bright days, clear days, may have been plenty all winter; 
but the air was a desert, the sky transparent ice; now the sky is 
full of radiant warmth, and the air of a half-articulate murmur and 
awakening.  How still the morning is!  It is at such times that we 
discover what music there is in the souls of the little slate-
colored snowbirds.  How they squeal, and chatter, and chirp, and 
trill, always in scattered troops of fifty or a hundred, filling 
the air with a fine sibilant chorus!  That joyous and childlike 
"chew,"  "chew,"  "chew" is very expressive.  Through this medley 
of finer songs and calls, there is shot, from time to time, the 
clear, strong note of the meadowlark.  It comes from some field or 
tree farther away, and cleaves the air like an arrow.  The reason 
why the birds always appear first in the morning, and not in the 
afternoon, is that in migrating they travel by night, and stop and 
feed and disport themselves by day.  They come by the owl train, 
and are here before we are up in the morning.


Once, while walking in the woods, I saw quite a large nest in the 
top of a pine-tree.  On climbing up to it, I found that it had 
originally been a crow's nest. Then a red squirrel had appropriated 
it; he had filled up the cavity with the fine inner bark of the red 
cedar, and made himself a dome-shaped nest upon the crow's 
foundation of coarse twigs.  It is probable that the flying 
squirrel, or the white-footed mouse, had been the next tenants, for 
the finish of the interior suggested their dainty taste.  But when 
I found it, its sole occupant was a bumblebee,--the mother or queen 
bee, just planting her colony.  She buzzed very loud and 
complainingly, and stuck up her legs in protest against my rude 
inquisitiveness, but refused to vacate the premises.  She had only 
one sack or cell constructed, in which she had deposited her first 
egg, and, beside that, a large loaf of bread, probably to feed the 
young brood with, as they should be hatched.  It looked like Boston 
brown bread, but I examined it and found it to be a mass of dark 
brown pollen, quite soft and pasty.  In fact, it was unleavened 
bread, and had not been got at the baker's.  A few weeks later, if 
no accident befell her, she had a good working colony of a dozen or 
more bees.

This was not an unusual incident. Our bumblebee, so far as I have 
observed, invariably appropriates a mouse-nest for the site of its 
colony, never excavating a place in the ground, nor conveying 
materials for a nest, to be lined with wax, like the European 
species.  Many other of our wild creatures take up with the 
leavings of their betters or strongers.  Neither the skunk nor the 
rabbit digs his own hole, but takes up with that of a wood-chuck, 
or else hunts out a natural den among the rocks.  In England the 
rabbit burrows in the ground to such an extent that in places the 
earth is honeycombed by them, and the walker steps through the 
surface into their galleries.  Our white-footed mouse has been 
known to take up his abode in a hornet's nest, furnishing the 
interior to suit his taste.  A few of our birds also avail 
themselves of the work of others, as the titmouse, the brown 
creeper, the bluebird, and the house wren.  But in every case they 
refurnish the tenement: the wren carries feathers into the cavity 
excavated by the woodpeckers, the bluebird carries in fine straws, 
and the chickadee lays down a fine wool mat upon the floors.  When 
the high-hole occupies the same cavity another year, he deepens and 
enlarges it; the phœbe-bird, in taking up her old nest, puts in a 
new lining; so does the robin; but cases of reoccupancy of an old 
nest by the last-named birds are rare.


One reason, doubtless, why squirrels are so bold and reckless in 
leaping through the trees is, that, if they miss their hold and 
fall, they sustain no injury.  Every species of tree squirrel seems 
to be capable of a sort of rudimentary flying,--at least of making 
itself into a parachute, so as to ease or break a fall or a leap 
from a great height.  The so-called flying squirrel does this the 
most perfectly.  It opens its furry vestments, leaps into the air, 
and sails down the steep incline from the top of one tree to the 
foot of the next as lightly as a bird.  But other squirrels know 
the same trick, only their coat-skirts are not so broad.  One day 
my dog treed a red squirrel in a tall hickory that stood in a 
meadow on the side of a steep hill.  To see what the squirrel would 
do when closely pressed, I climbed the tree.  As I drew near, he 
took refuge in the topmost branch, and then, as I came on, he 
boldly leaped into the air, spread himself out upon it, and, with a 
quick, tremulous motion of his tail and legs, descended quite 
slowly and landed upon the ground thirty feet below me, apparently 
none the worse for the leap, for he ran with great speed and 
escaped the dog in another tree.

A recent American traveler in Mexico gives a still more striking 
instance of this power of squirrels partially to neutralize the 
force of gravity when leaping or falling through the air.  Some 
boys had caught a Mexican black squirrel, nearly as large as a cat.  
It had escaped from them once, and, when pursued, had taken a leap 
of sixty feet, from the top of a pine-tree down upon the roof of a 
house, without injury.  This feat had led the grandmother of one of 
the boys to declare that the squirrel was bewitched, and the boys 
proposed to put the matter to further test by throwing the squirrel 
down a precipice six hundred feet high.  Our traveler interfered, 
to see that the squirrel had fair play.  The prisoner was conveyed 
in a pillow-slip to the edge of the cliff, and the slip opened, so 
that he might have his choice, whether to remain a captive or to 
take the leap.  He looked down the awful abyss, and then back and 
sidewise,--his eyes glistening, his form crouching.  Seeing no 
escape in any other direction, "he took a flying leap into space, 
and fluttered rather than fell into the abyss below.   His legs 
began to work like those of a swimming poodle-dog, but quicker and 
quicker, while his tail, slightly elevated, spread out like a 
feather fan.  A rabbit of the same weight would have made the trip 
in about twelve seconds; the squirrel protracted it for more than 
half a minute," and "landed on a ledge of limestone, where we could 
see him plainly squat on his hind legs and smooth his ruffled fur, 
after which he made for the creek with a flourish of his tail, took 
a good drink, and scampered away into the willow thicket."

The story at first blush seems incredible, but I have no doubt our 
red squirrel would have made the leap safely; then why not the 
great black squirrel, since its parachute would be proportionately 

The tails of the squirrels are broad and long and flat, not short 
and small like those of gophers, chipmunks, woodchucks, and other 
ground rodents, and when they leap or fall through the air the tail 
is arched and rapidly vibrates.  A squirrel's tail, therefore, is 
something more than ornament, something more than a flag; it not 
only aids him in flying, but it serves as a cloak, which he wraps 
about him when he sleeps.  Thus, some animals put their tails to 
various uses, while others seem to have no use for them whatever.  
What use for a tail has a wood-chuck, or a weasel, or a mouse? Has 
not the mouse yet learned that it could get in its hole sooner if 
it had no tail?  The mole and the meadow mouse have very short 
tails.  Rats, no doubt, put their tails to various uses.  The 
rabbit has no use for a tail,--it would be in its way; while its 
manner of sleeping is such that it does not need a tail to tuck 
itself up with, as do the coon and the fox. The dog talks with his 
tail; the tail of the possum is prehensile; the porcupine uses his 
tail in climbing and for defense; the beaver as a tool or trowel; 
while the tail of the skunk serves as a screen behind which it 
masks its terrible battery.


Writers upon rural England and her familiar natural history make no 
mention of the marmot or woodchuck. In Europe this animal seems to 
be confined to the high mountainous districts, as on our Pacific 
slope, burrowing near the snow-line.  It is more social or 
gregarious than the American species, living in large families like 
our prairie dog.  In the Middle and Eastern States our woodchuck 
takes the place, in some respects, of the English rabbit, burrowing 
in every hillside and under every stone wall and jutting ledge and 
large boulder, from whence it makes raids upon the grass and clover 
and sometimes upon the garden vegetables.  It is quite solitary in 
its habits, seldom more than one inhabiting the same den, unless it 
be a mother and her young.  It is not now so much a WOODchuck as a 
FIELDchuck. Occasionally, however, one seems to prefer the woods, 
and is not seduced by the sunny slopes and the succulent grass, but 
feeds, as did his fathers before him, upon roots and twigs, the 
bark of young trees, and upon various wood plants.

One summer day, as I was swimming across a broad, deep pool in the 
creek in a secluded place in the woods, I saw one of these sylvan 
chucks amid the rocks but a few feet from the edge of the water 
where I proposed to touch. He saw my approach, but doubtless took 
me for some water-fowl, or for some cousin of his of the muskrat 
tribe; for he went on with his feeding, and regarded me not till I 
paused within ten feet of him and lifted myself up. Then he did not 
know me, having, perhaps, never seen Adam in his simplicity, but he 
twisted his nose around to catch my scent; and the moment he had 
done so he sprang like a jumping-jack and rushed into his den with 
the utmost precipitation.

The woodchuck is the true serf among our animals; he belongs to the 
soil, and savors of it.   He is of the earth, earthy.  There is 
generally a decided odor about his dens and lurking-places, but it 
is not at all disagreeable in the clover-scented air; and his 
shrill whistle, as he takes to his hole or defies the farm dog from 
the interior of the stone wall, is a pleasant summer sound. In form 
and movement the woodchuck is not captivating.  His body is heavy 
and flabby.  Indeed, such a flaccid, fluid, pouchy carcass I have 
never before seen.  It has absolutely no muscular tension or 
rigidity, but is as baggy and shaky as a skin filled with water.  
Let the rifleman shoot one while it lies basking on a sideling 
rock, and its body slumps off, and rolls and spills down the hill, 
as if it were a mass of bowels only.  The legs of the woodchuck are 
short and stout, and made for digging rather than running. The 
latter operation he performs by short leaps, his belly scarcely 
clearing the ground.  For a short distance he can make very good 
time, but he seldom trusts himself far from his hole, and, when 
surprised in that predicament, makes little effort to escape, but, 
grating his teeth, looks the danger squarely in the face.

I knew a farmer in New York who had a very large bob-tailed churn-
dog by the name of Cuff.  The farmer kept a large dairy and made a 
great deal of butter, and it was the business of Cuff to spend 
nearly the half of each summer day treading the endless round of 
the churning-machine.  During the remainder of the day he had 
plenty of time to sleep and rest, and sit on his hips and survey 
the landscape.  One day, sitting thus, he discovered a woodchuck 
about forty rods from the house, on a steep sidehill, feeding about 
near his hole, which was beneath a large rock.  The old dog, 
forgetting his stiffness, and remembering the fun he had had with 
woodchucks in his earlier days, started off at his highest speed, 
vainly hoping to catch this one before he could get to his hole.  
But the wood-chuck seeing the dog come laboring up the hill, sprang 
to the mouth of his den, and, when his pursuer was only a few rods 
off, whistled tauntingly and went in.  This occurred several times, 
the old dog marching up the hill, and then marching down again, 
having had his labor for his pains.  I suspect that he revolved the 
subject in his mind while he revolved the great wheel of the 
churning-machine, and that some turn or other brought him a happy 
thought, for next time he showed himself a strategist.  Instead of 
giving chase to the wood-chuck, when first discovered, he crouched 
down to the ground, and, resting his head on his paws, watched him.  
The woodchuck kept working away from his hole, lured by the tender 
clover, but, not unmindful of his safety, lifted himself up on his 
haunches every few moments and surveyed the approaches.  Presently, 
after the woodchuck had let himself down from one of these 
attitudes of observation and resumed his feeding, Cuff started 
swiftly but stealthily up the hill, precisely in the attitude of a 
cat when she is stalking a bird.  When the woodchuck rose up again, 
Cuff was perfectly motionless and half hid by the grass.  When he 
again resumed his clover, Cuff sped up the hill as before, this 
time crossing a fence, but in a low place, and so nimbly that he 
was not discovered.  Again the woodchuck was on the outlook, again 
Cuff was motionless and hugging the ground.  As the dog neared his 
victim he was partially hidden by a swell in the earth, but still 
the woodchuck from his outlook reported "All right," when Cuff, 
having not twice as far to run as the chuck, threw all stealthiness 
aside and rushed directly for the hole.  At that moment the 
woodchuck discovered his danger, and, seeing that it was a race for 
life, leaped as I never saw marmot leap before. But he was two 
seconds too late, his retreat was cut off, and the powerful jaws of 
the old dog closed upon him.

The next season Cuff tried the same tactics again with like 
success, but when the third woodchuck had taken up his abode at the 
fatal hole, the old churner's wits and strength had begun to fail 
him, and he was baffled in each attempt to capture the animal.

The woodchuck always burrows on a sidehill. This enables him to 
guard against being drowned out, by making the termination of the 
hole higher than the entrance.  He digs in slantingly for about two 
or three feet, then makes a sharp upward turn and keeps nearly 
parallel with the surface of the ground for a distance of eight or 
ten feet farther, according to the grade.  Here he makes his nest 
and passes the winter, holing up in October or November and coming 
out again in April.  This is a long sleep, and is rendered possible 
only by the amount of fat with which the system has become stored 
during the summer.  The fire of life still burns, but very faintly 
and slowly, as with the draughts all closed and the ashes heaped 
up.  Respiration is continued, but at longer intervals, and all the 
vital processes are nearly at a standstill.  Dig one out during 
hibernation (Audubon did so), and you find it a mere inanimate 
ball, that suffers itself to be moved and rolled about without 
showing signs of awakening.  But bring it in by the fire, and it 
presently unrolls and opens its eyes, and crawls feebly about, and 
if left to itself will seek some dark hole or corner, roll itself 
up again, and resume its former condition.


The season of 1880 seems to have been exceptionally favorable to 
the birds.  The warm, early spring, the absence of April snows and 
of long, cold rains in May and June,--indeed, the exceptional heat 
and dryness of these months, and the freedom from violent storms 
and tempests throughout the summer,--all worked together for the 
good of the birds.  Their nests were not broken up or torn from the 
trees, nor their young chilled and destroyed by the wet and the 
cold.  The drenching, protracted rains that make the farmer's seed 
rot or lie dormant in the ground in May or June, and the summer 
tempests that uproot the trees or cause them to lash and bruise 
their foliage, always bring disaster to the birds.  As a result of 
our immunity from these things the past season, the small birds in 
the fall were perhaps never more abundant.  Indeed, I never 
remember to have seen so many of certain kinds, notably the social 
and the bush sparrows.  The latter literally swarmed in the fields 
and vineyards; and as it happened that for the first time a large 
number of grapes were destroyed by birds, the little sparrow, in 
some localities, was accused of being the depredator.  But he is 
innocent.  He never touches fruit of any kind, but lives upon seeds 
and insects.  What attracted this sparrow to the vineyards in such 
numbers was mainly the covert they afforded from small hawks, and 
probably also the seeds of various weeds that had been allowed to 
ripen there.  The grape-destroyer was a bird of another color, 
namely, the Baltimore oriole.  One fruit-grower on the Hudson told 
me he lost at least a ton of grapes by the birds, and in the 
western part of New York and in Ohio and in Canada, I hear the 
vineyards suffered severely from the depredations of the oriole.   
The oriole has a sharp, dagger-like bill, and he seems to be 
learning rapidly how easily he can puncture fruit with it.   He has 
come to be about the worst cherry bird we have.   He takes the worm 
first, and then he takes the cherry the worm was after, or rather 
he bleeds it; as with the grapes, he carries none away with him, 
but wounds them all.   He is welcome to all the fruit he can eat, 
but why should he murder every cherry on the tree, or every grape 
in the cluster?   He is as wanton as a sheep-killing dog, that will 
not stop with enough, but slaughters every ewe in the flock.   The 
oriole is peculiarly exempt from the dangers that beset most of our 
birds: its nest is all but impervious to the rain, and the 
squirrel, or the jay, or the crow cannot rob it without great 
difficulty.   It is a pocket which it would not be prudent for 
either jay or squirrel to attempt to explore when the owner, with 
his dagger-like beak, is about; and the crow cannot alight upon the 
slender, swaying branch from which it is usually pendent.   Hence 
the orioles are doubtless greatly on the increase.

There has been an unusual number of shrikes the past fall and 
winter; like the hawks, they follow in the wake of the little birds 
and prey upon them.  Some seasons pass and I never see a shrike.   
This year I have seen at least a dozen while passing along the 
road.  One day I saw one carrying its prey in its feet,--a 
performance which I supposed it incapable of, as it is not equipped 
for this business like a rapacious bird, but has feet like a robin.  
One wintry evening, near sunset, I saw one alight on the top of a 
tree by the  roadside, with some small object in its beak.  I 
paused to observe it.  Presently it flew down into a scrubby old 
apple-tree, and attempted to impale the object upon a thorn or 
twig.  It was occupied in this way some moments, no twig or knob 
proving quite satisfactory.  A little screech owl was evidently 
watching the proceedings from his doorway in the trunk of a decayed 
apple-tree ten or a dozen rods distant. Twilight was just falling, 
and the owl had come up from his snug retreat in the hollow trunk, 
and was waiting for the darkness to deepen before venturing forth.  
I was first advised of his presence by seeing him approaching 
swiftly on silent, level wing.  The shrike did not see him till the 
owl was almost within the branches.  He then dropped his game, 
which proved to be a part of a shrew-mouse, and darted back into 
the thick cover  uttering a loud, discordant squawk, as one would 
say, "Scat! scat! scat!"  The owl alighted, and was, perhaps, 
looking about him for the shrike's impaled game, when I drew near.  
On seeing me, he reversed his movement precipitately, flew straight 
back to the old tree, and alighted in the entrance to the cavity.  
As I approached, he did not so much seem to move as to diminish in 
size, like an object dwindling in the distance; he depressed his 
plumage, and, with his eye fixed upon me, began slowly to back and 
sidle into his retreat till he faded from my sight. The shrike 
wiped his beak upon the branches, cast an eye down at me and at his 
lost mouse, and then flew away.  He was a remarkably fine 
specimen,--his breast and under parts as white as snow, and his 
coat of black and ashen gray appearing very bright and fresh.  A 
few nights afterward, as I passed that way, I saw the little owl 
again sitting in his doorway, waiting for the twilight to deepen, 
and undisturbed by the passers-by; but when I paused to observe 
him, he saw that he was discovered, and he slunk back into his den 
as on the former occasion.


It is surprising that so profuse and prodigal a poet as 
Shakespeare, and one so bold in his dealings with human nature, 
should seldom or never make a mistake in his dealings with physical 
nature, or take an unwarranted liberty with her.  True it is that 
his allusions to nature are always incidental,--never his main 
purpose or theme, as with many later poets; yet his accuracy and 
closeness to fact, and his wide and various knowledge of unbookish 
things, are seen in his light "touch and go" phrases and 
comparisons as clearly as in his more deliberate and central work.

In "Much Ado about Nothing," BENEDICK says to MARGARET:--

"Thy wit is as quick as the greyhound's mouth--it catches."

One marked difference between the greyhound and all other hounds 
and dogs is, that it can pick up its game while running at full 
speed, a feat that no other dog can do.  The foxhound, or farm dog, 
will run over a fox or a rabbit many tunes without being able to 
seize it.

In "Twelfth Night" the clown tells VIOLA that

"Fools are as like husbands as pilchards are to herrings--the 
husband's the bigger."

The pilchard closely resembles the herring, but is thicker and 
heavier, with larger scales.

In the same play, MARIA, seeing MALVOLIO coming, says:--

"Here comes the trout that must be caught with tickling."

Shakespeare, then, knew that fact so well known to poachers, and 
known also to many an American schoolboy, namely, that a trout 
likes to be tickled, or behaves as if he did, and that by gently 
tickling his sides and belly you can so mesmerize him, as it were, 
that he will allow you to get your hands in position to clasp him 
firmly.  The British poacher takes the jack by the same tactics: he 
tickles the jack on the belly; the fish slowly rises in the water 
till it comes near the surface, when, the poacher having insinuated 
both hands under him, he is suddenly scooped out and thrown upon 
the land.

Indeed, Shakespeare seems to have known intimately the ways and 
habits of most of the wild creatures of Britain. He had the kind of 
knowledge of them that only the countryman has. In "As You Like 
It," JAQUES tells AMIENS:--

"I can suck melancholy out of a song as a weasel sucks eggs."

Every gamekeeper, and every farmer for that matter, knows how 
destructive the weasel and its kind are to birds' eggs, and to the 
eggs of game-birds and of domestic fowls.

In "Love's Labor's Lost," BIRON says of BOYET:--

"This fellow picks up wit as pigeons peas."

Pigeons dp not pick up peas in this country, but they do in 
England, and are often very damaging to the farmer on that account.  
Shakespeare knew also the peculiar manner in which they feed their 
young,--a manner that has perhaps given rise to the expression 
"sucking dove."  In "As You Like It" is this passage:--

"CELIA.   Here comes Monsieur Le Beau.

"ROSALIND.   With his mouth full of news.

"CELIA.  Which he will put on us as pigeons feed their young.

"ROSALIND.   Then shall we be news-crammed."

When the mother pigeon feeds her young she brings the food, not in 
her beak like other birds, but in her crop; she places her beak 
between the open mandibles of her young, and fairly crams the food, 
which is delivered by a peculiar pumping movement, down its throat.  
She furnishes a capital illustration of the eager, persistent 

"Out of their burrows like rabbits after rain" is a comparison that 
occurs in "Coriolanus."  In our Northern or New England States we 
should have to substitute woodchucks for rabbits, as our rabbits do 
not burrow, but sit all day in their forms under a bush or amid the 
weeds, and as they are not seen moving about after a rain, or at 
all by day; but in England Shakespeare's line is exactly 

Says BOTTOM to the fairy COBWEB in "Midsummer Night's Dream:"--

"Mounsieur Cobweb; good mounsieur, get you your weapons in your 
hand, and kill me a red-hipp'd humble-bee on the top of a thistle, 
and, good mounsieur, bring me the honey-bag."

This command might be executed in this country,

for we have the "red-hipp'd humble-bee;" and we have the thistle, 
and there is no more likely place to look for the humblebee in 
midsummer than on a thistle-blossom.

But the following picture of a "wet spell" is more English than 

 "The ox hath therefore stretch'd his 
       yoke in vain,
   The plowman lost his sweat;  and
       the green corn
   Hath rotted ere his youth attain'd a 
   The fold stands empty in the 
       drowned field,
   And crows are fatted with the 
       murrain flock."

Shakespeare knew the birds and wild fowl, and knew them perhaps as 
a hunter, as well as a poet. At least this passage would indicate 
as much:--

 "As wild geese that the creeping
       fowler eye,
   Or russet-pated choughs, many in 
   Rising and cawing at the gun's
   Sever themselves and madly sweep 
       the sky."

In calling the choughs "russet-pated" he makes the bill tinge the 
whole head, or perhaps gives the effect of the birds' markings when 
seen at a distance; the bill is red, the head is black. The chough 
is a species of crow.

A poet must know the birds well to make one of his characters say, 
when he had underestimated a man, "I took this lark for a bunting," 
as LAFEU says of PAROLLES in "All's Well that Ends Well."  The 
English bunting is a field-bird like the lark, and much resembles 
the latter in form and color, but is far inferior as a songster.  
Indeed, Shakespeare shows his familiarity with nearly all the 
British birds.

 "The ousel-cock, so black of hue,
       With orange-tawny bill,
   The throstle with his note so true, 
       The wren with little quill.

 "The finch, the sparrow, and the lark,
       The plain-song cuckoo gray,
   Whose note full many a man doth 
       And dares not answer nay."

In "Much Ado about Nothing" we get a glimpse of the lapwing:--

 "For look where Beatrice, like a 
       lapwing, runs
   Close by the ground, to hear our 

The lapwing is a kind of plover, and is very swift of foot.  When 
trying to avoid being seen they run rapidly with depressed heads, 
or "close by the ground," as the poet puts it.  In the same scene, 
HERO says of URSULA:--

 "I know her spirits are as coy and wild
   As haggards of the rock."

The haggard falcon is a species of hawk found in North Wales and in 
Scotland.  It breeds on high shelving cliffs and precipitous rocks.  
Had Shakespeare been an "amateur poacher" in his youth?  He had a 
poacher's knowledge of the wild creatures.  He knew how fresh the 
snake appears after it has cast its skin; how the hedgehog makes 
himself up into a ball and leaves his "prickles" in whatever 
touches him; how the butterfly comes from the grub; how the fox 
carries the goose; where the squirrel hides his store; where the 
martlet builds its nest, etc.

 "Now is the woodcock near the gin,"

says FABIAN, in "Twelfth Night," and

 "Stalk on, stalk on; the fowl sits,"

says CLAUDIO to LEONATO, in "Much Ado."

 "Instruct thee how
   To snare the nimble marmozet,"

says CALIBAN, in The Tempest."  Sings the fool in "Lear:"--

 "The hedge-sparrow fed the cuckoo
       so long
   That it had it head bit off by it 

The hedge-sparrow is one of the favorite birds upon which the 
European cuckoo imposes the rearing of its young.  If Shakespeare 
had made the house sparrow, or the blackbird, or the bunting, or 
any of the granivorous, hard-billed birds, the foster-parent of the 
cuckoo, his natural history would have been at fault.

Shakespeare knew the flowers, too, and knew their times and 

 "When daisies pied, and violets blue, 
       And lady smocks all silver-white, 
   And cuckoo-buds of yellow hue,
       Do paint the meadows with delight."

They have, in England, the cuckoo-flower, which comes in April and 
is lilac in color, and the cuckoo-pint, which is much like our 
"Jack in the pulpit;" but the poet does not refer to either of 
these (if he did, we would catch him tripping), but to buttercups, 
which are called by rural folk in Britain "cuckoo-buds."

In England the daffodil blooms in February and March; the swallow 
comes in April usually; hence the truth of Shakespeare's lines:--

   That come before the swallow
       dares, and take
   The winds of March with beauty."

The only flaw I notice in Shakespeare's natural history is in his 
treatment of the honey-bee, but this was a flaw in the knowledge of 
the times as well.  The history of this insect was not rightly read 
till long after Shakespeare wrote.  He pictures a colony of bees as 
a kingdom, with

 "A king and officers of sorts"

(see "Henry V."), whereas a colony of bees is an absolute 
democracy; the rulers and governors and "officers of sorts" are the 
workers, the masses, the common people.  A strict regard to fact 
also would spoil those fairy tapers in "Midsummer Night's Dream,"--

 "The honey-bags steal from the
   And, for night-tapers, crop their
       waxen thighs,
   And light them at the fiery
       glow-worm's eyes,"--

since it is not wax that bees bear upon their thighs, but pollen, 
the dust of the flowers, with which bees make their bread.  Wax is 
made from honey.

The science or the meaning is also a little obscure in this phrase, 
which occurs in one of the plays:--

 "One heat another heat expels,"--

as one nail drives out another, or as one love cures another.

In a passage in "The Tempest" he speaks of the ivy as if it were 
parasitical, like the mistletoe:--

 "Now, he was
   The ivy which had hid my princely 
   And sucked my verdure out on't."

I believe it is not a fact that the ivy sucks the juice out of the 
trees it climbs upon, though it may much interfere with their 
growth.  Its aerial rootlets are for support alone, as is the case 
with all climbers that are not twiners.  But this may perhaps be 
regarded as only a poetic license on the part of Shakespeare; the 
human ivy he was picturing no doubt fed upon the tree that 
supported it, whether the real ivy does or not.

It is also probably untrue that

 "The poor beetle that we tread 
   In corporal sufferance finds a pang
       as great 
   As when a giant dies,"

though it has suited the purpose of other poets besides Shakespeare 
to say so.  The higher and more complex the organization, the more 
acute the pleasure and the pain.  A toad has been known to live for 
days with the upper part of its head cut away by a scythe, and a 
beetle will survive for hours upon the fisherman's hook.  It 
perhaps causes a grasshopper less pain to detach one of its legs 
than it does a man to remove a single hair from his beard.  Nerves 
alone feel pain, and the nervous system of a beetle is a very 
rudimentary affair.

In "Coriolanus" there is a comparison which implies that a man can 
tread upon his own shadow,--a difficult feat in northern countries 
at all times except midday; Shakespeare is particular to mention 
the time of day:--

 "Such a nature,
   Tickled with good success, disdains
       the shadow
   Which he treads on at noon."



AN intelligent English woman, spending a few years in this country 
with her family, says that one of her serious disappointments is 
that she finds it utterly impossible to enjoy nature here as she 
can at home--so much nature as we have and yet no way of getting at 
it; no paths, or byways, or stiles, or foot-bridges, no provision 
for the pedestrian outside of the public road.  One would think the 
people had no feet and legs in this country, or else did not know 
how to use them.  Last summer she spent the season near a small 
rural village in the valley of the Connecticut, but it seemed as if 
she had not been in the country: she could not come at the 
landscape; she could not reach a wood or a hill or a pretty nook 
anywhere without being a trespasser, or getting entangled in swamps 
or in fields of grass and grain, or having her course blocked by a 
high and difficult fence; no private ways, no grassy lanes; nobody 
walking in the fields or woods, nobody walking anywhere for 
pleasure, but everybody in carriages or wagons.

She was staying a mile from the village, and every day used to walk 
down to the post-office for her mail; but instead of a short and 
pleasant cut across the fields, as there would have been in 
England, she was obliged to take the highway and face the dust and 
the mud and the staring people in their carriages.

She complained, also, of the absence of bird voices,--so silent the 
fields and groves and orchards were, compared with what she had 
been used to at home. The most noticeable midsummer sound 
everywhere was the shrill, brassy crescendo of the locust.

All this is unquestionably true.  There is far less bird music here 
than in England, except possibly in May and June, though, if the 
first impressions of the Duke of Argyle are to be trusted, there is 
much less even then. The duke says: "Although I was in the woods 
and fields of Canada and of the States in the richest moments of 
the spring, I heard little of that burst of song which in England 
comes from the blackcap, and the garden warbler, and the 
whitethroat, and the reed warbler, and the common wren, and 
(locally) from the nightingale."   Our birds are more withdrawn 
than the English, and their notes more plaintive and intermittent.    
Yet there are a few days here early in May, when the house wren, 
the oriole, the orchard starling, the kingbird, the bobolink, and 
the wood thrush first arrive, that are so full of music, especially 
in the morning, that one is loath to believe there is anything 
fuller or finer even in England.  As walkers, and lovers of rural 
scenes and pastimes, we do not approach our British cousins.  It is 
a seven days' wonder to see anybody walking in this country except 
on a wager or in a public hall or skating-rink, as an exhibition 
and trial of endurance.

Countrymen do not walk except from necessity, and country women 
walk far less than their city sisters.  When city people come to 
the country they do not walk, because that would be conceding too 
much to the country; beside, they would soil their shoes, and would 
lose the awe and respect which their imposing turn-outs inspire.  
Then they find the country dull; it is like water or milk after 
champagne; they miss the accustomed stimulus, both mind and body 
relax, and walking is too great an effort.

There are several obvious reasons why the English should be better 
or more habitual walkers than we are.  Taken the year round, their 
climate is much more favorable to exercise in the open air.  Their 
roads are better, harder, and smoother, and there is a place for 
the man and a place for the horse. Their country houses and 
churches and villages are not strung upon the highway as ours are, 
but are nestled here and there with reference to other things than 
convenience in "getting out." Hence the grassy lanes and paths 
through the fields. 

Distances are not so great in that country; the population occupies 
less space.  Again, the land has been, longer occupied and is more 
thoroughly subdued; it is easier to get about the fields; life has 
flowed in the same channels for centuries. The English landscape is 
like a park, and is so thoroughly rural and mellow and bosky that 
the temptation to walk amid its scenes is ever present to one.  In 
comparison, nature here is rude, raw, and forbidding; has not that 
maternal and beneficent look, is less mindful of man, runs to 
briers and weeds or to naked sterility.

Then as a people the English are a private, domestic, homely folk: 
they dislike publicity, dislike the highway, dislike noise, and 
love to feel the grass under their feet. They have a genius for 
lanes and footpaths; one might almost say they invented them. The 
charm of them is in their books; their rural poetry is modeled upon 
them. How much of Wordsworth's poetry is the poetry of 
pedestrianism!  A footpath is sacred in England; the king himself 
cannot close one; the courts recognize them as something quite as 
important and inviolable as the highway.

A footpath is of slow growth, and it is a wild, shy thing that is 
easily scared away.  The plow must respect it, and the fence or 
hedge make way for it.  It requires a settled state of things, 
unchanging habits among the people, and long tenure of the land; 
the rill of life that finds its way there must have a perennial 
source, and flow there tomorrow and the next day and the next 

When I was a youth and went to school with my brothers, we had a 
footpath a mile long.  On going from home after leaving the highway 
there was a descent through a meadow, then through a large maple 
and beech wood, then through a long stretch of rather barren 
pasture land which brought us to the creek in the valley, which we 
crossed on a slab or a couple of rails from the near fence; then 
more meadow land with a neglected orchard, and then the little gray 
schoolhouse itself toeing the highway.  In winter our course was a 
hard, beaten path in the snow visible from afar, and in summer a 
well-defined trail.  In the woods it wore the roots of the trees.  
It steered for the gaps or low places in the fences, and avoided 
the bogs and swamps in the meadow.  I can recall yet the very look, 
the very physiognomy of a large birch-tree that stood beside it in 
the midst of the woods; it sometimes tripped me up with a large 
root it sent out like a foot.  Neither do I forget the little 
spring run near by, where we frequently paused to drink, and to 
gather "crinkle-root" (DENTARIA) in the early summer; nor the 
dilapidated log fence that was the highway of the squirrels; nor 
the ledges to one side, whence in early spring the skunk and coon 
sallied forth and crossed our path; nor the gray, scabby rocks in 
the pasture; nor the solitary tree, nor the old weather-worn stump; 
no, nor the creek in which I plunged one winter morning in 
attempting to leap its swollen current.  But the path served only 
one generation of school-children; it faded out more than thirty 
years ago, and the feet that made it are widely scattered, while 
some of them have found the path that leads through the Valley of 
the Shadow. Almost the last words of one of these schoolboys, then 
a man grown, seemed as if he might have had this very path in mind, 
and thought himself again returning to his father's house: "I must 
hurry," he said; "I have a long way to go up a hill and through a 
dark wood, and it will soon be night."

We are a famous people to go  " 'cross lots," but we do not make a 
path, or, if we do, it does not last; the scene changes, the 
currents set in other directions, or cease entirely, and the path 
vanishes.  In the South one would find plenty of bridle-paths, for 
there everybody goes horseback, and there are few passable roads; 
and the hunters and lumbermen of the North have their trails 
through the forest following a line of blazed trees; but in all my 
acquaintance with the country,-- the rural and agricultural 
sections,--I do not know a pleasant, inviting path leading from 
house to house, or from settlement to settlement, by which the 
pedestrian could shorten or enliven a journey, or add the charm of 
the seclusion of the fields to his walk.

What a contrast England presents in this respect, according to Mr. 
Jennings's pleasant book, "Field Paths and Green Lanes"!  The 
pedestrian may go about quite independent of the highway.  Here is 
a glimpse from his pages: "A path across the field, seen from the 
station, leads into a road close by the lodge gate of Mr. Cubett's 
house.  A little beyond this gate is another and smaller one, from 
which a narrow path ascends straight to the top of the hill and 
comes out just opposite the post-office on Ranmore Common.  The 
Common at another point may be reached by a shorter cut.  After 
entering a path close by the lodge, open the first gate you come to 
on the right hand.  Cross the road, go through the gate opposite, 
and either follow the road right out upon Ranmore Common, past the 
beautiful deep dell or ravine, or take a path which you will see on 
your left, a few yards from the gate.  This winds through a very 
pretty wood, with glimpses of the valley here and there on the way, 
and eventually brings you out upon the carriage-drive to the house.  
Turn to the right and you will soon find yourself upon the Common.  
A road or path opens out in front of the upper lodge gate.  Follow 
that and it will take you to a small piece of water from whence a 
green path strikes off to the right, and this will lead you all 
across the Common in a northerly direction."  Thus we may see how 
the country is threaded with paths.  A later writer, the author of 
"The Gamekeeper at Home" and other books, says: "Those only know a 
country who are acquainted with its footpaths.  By the roads, 
indeed, the outside may be seen; but the footpaths go through the 
heart of the land.  There are routes by which mile after mile may 
be traveled without leaving the sward.  So you may pass from 
village to village; now crossing green meadows, now cornfields, 
over brooks, past woods, through farmyard and rick 'barken.' "

The conditions of life in this country have not.been favorable to 
the development of byways.  We do not take to lanes and to the 
seclusion of the fields.  We love to be upon the road, and to plant 
our houses there, and to appear there mounted upon a horse or 
seated in a wagon.   It is to be distinctly stated, however, that 
our public highways, with their  breadth  and  amplitude,  their 
wide grassy margins, their picturesque stone or rail fences, their 
outlooks, and their general free and easy character, are far more 
inviting to the pedestrian than the narrow lanes and trenches that 
English highways for the most part are.   The road in England is 
always well kept, the roadbed is often like a rock, but the 
traveler's view is shut in by high hedges, and very frequently he 
seems to be passing along a deep, nicely graded ditch. The open, 
broad landscape character of our highways is quite unknown in that 

The absence of the paths and lanes is not so great a matter, but 
the decay of the simplicity of manners, and of the habits of 
pedestrianism which this absence implies, is what I lament.  The 
devil is in the horse to make men proud and fast and ill-mannered; 
only when you go afoot do you grow in the grace of gentleness and 
humility.  But no good can come out of this walking mania that is 
now sweeping over the country, simply because it is a mania and not 
a natural and wholesome impulse.  It is a prostitution of the noble 

It is not the walking merely, it is keeping yourself in tune for a 
walk, in the spiritual and bodily condition in which you can find 
entertainment and exhilaration in so simple and natural a pastime.  
You are eligible to any good fortune when you are in the condition 
to enjoy a walk.  When the air and the water taste sweet to you, 
how much else will taste sweet!  When the exercise of your limbs 
affords you pleasure, and the play of your senses upon the various 
objects and shows of nature quickens and stimulates your spirit, 
your relation to the world and to yourself is what it should be,--
simple and direct and wholesome.  The mood in which you set out on 
a spring or autumn ramble or a sturdy winter walk, and your greedy 
feet have to be restrained from devouring the distances too fast, 
is the mood in which your best thoughts and impulses come to you, 
or in which you might embark upon any noble and heroic enterprise.  
Life is sweet in such moods, the universe is complete, and there is 
no failure or imperfection anywhere.




The charge that was long ago made against our wild flowers by 
English travelers in this country, namely, that they are odorless, 
doubtless had its origin in the fact that, whereas in England the 
sweet-scented flowers are among the most common and conspicuous, in 
this country they are rather shy and withdrawn, and consequently 
not such as travelers would be likely to encounter.  Moreover, the 
British traveler, remembering the deliciously fragrant blue violets 
he left at home, covering every grassy slope and meadow bank in 
spring, and the wild clematis, or traveler's joy, overrunning 
hedges and old walls with its white, sweet-scented blossoms, and 
finding the corresponding species here equally abundant but 
entirely scentless, very naturally infers that our wild flowers are 
all deficient in this respect.  He would be confirmed in this 
opinion when, on turning to some of our most beautiful and striking 
native flowers, like the laurel, the rhododendron, the columbine, 
the inimitable fringed gentian, the burning cardinal-flower, or our 
asters and goldenrod, dashing the roadsides with tints of purple 
and gold,  he found them scentless also.  "Where are your fragrant 
flowers?" he might well say; "I can find none."   Let him look 
closer and penetrate our forests, and visit our ponds and lakes.  
Let him compare our matchless, rosy-lipped, honey-hearted trailing 
arbutus with his own ugly ground-ivy; let him compare our 
sumptuous, fragrant pond-lily with his own odorless NYMPHÆ ALBA.   
In our Northern woods he will find the floors carpeted with the 
delicate linnæa, its twin rose-colored, nodding flowers filling the 
air with fragrance.  (I am aware that the linnæa is found in some 
parts of Northern Europe.)  The fact is, we perhaps have as many 
sweet-scented wild flowers as Europe has, only they are not quite 
so prominent in our flora, nor so well known to our people or to 
our poets.

Think of Wordsworth's "Golden Daffodils:"--

 "I wandered lonely as a cloud
       That floats on high o'er vales and 
   When, all at once, I saw a crowd,
       A host of golden daffodils,
   Beside the lake, beneath the trees, 
   Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

 "Continuous as the stars that shine 
       And twinkle on the milky way,
   They stretched in never-ending line
       Along the margin of a bay.
   Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
   Tossing their heads in sprightly 

No such sight could greet the poet's eye here.  He might see ten 
thousand marsh marigolds, or ten times ten thousand houstonias, but 
they would not toss in the breeze, and they would not be sweet-
scented like the daffodils.

It is to be remembered, too, that in the moister atmosphere of 
England the same amount of fragrance would be much more noticeable 
than with us. Think how our sweet bay, or our pink azalea, or our 
white alder, to which they have nothing that corresponds, would 
perfume that heavy, vapor-laden air!

In the woods and groves in England, the wild hyacinth grows very 
abundantly in spring, and in places the air is loaded with its 
fragrance.  In our woods a species of dicentra, commonly called 
squirrel corn, has nearly the same perfume, and its racemes of 
nodding whitish flowers, tinged with pink, are quite as pleasing to 
the eye, but it is a shyer, less abundant plant.  When our children 
go to the fields in April and May, they can bring home no wild 
flowers as pleasing as the sweet English violet, and cowslip, and 
yellow daffodil, and wallflower; and when British children go to 
the woods at the same season, they can load their hands and baskets 
with nothing that compares with our trailing arbutus, or, later in 
the season, with our azaleas; and, when their boys go fishing or 
boating in summer, they can wreathe themselves with nothing that 
approaches our pond-lily.

There are upward of thirty species of fragrant native wild flowers 
and flowering shrubs and trees in New England and New York, and, no 
doubt, many more in the South and West.  My list is as follows:--

White violet (VIOLA BLANDA).
Canada violet (VIOLA CANADENSIS).
Hepatica (occasionally fragrant).
Trailing arbutus (EPIGÆA REPENS).
Yellow lady's-slipper (CYPRIPEDIUM
Purple lady's-slipper (CYPRIPEDIUM
Purple fringed-orchis (HABENARIA
Calopogon (CALOPOGON 
Lady's-tresses (SPIRANTHES CERNUA).
Wild rose (ROSA NITIDA).
Twin-flower (LINNÆA BOREALIS).
Smooth azalea (RHODODENDRON
White azalea (RHODODENDRON
Pinxter-flower (RHODODENDRON
Yellow azalea (RHODODENDRON
Mitchella vine (MITCHELLA REPENS).
Sweet coltsfoot (PETASITES PALMATA).
Pasture thistle (CNICUS PUMILUS).
False wintergreen (PYROLA 
Spotted wintergreen (CHIMAPHILIA 
Prince's pine (CHIMAPHILIA
Evening primrose (ŒNOTHERA
Hairy loosestrife (STEIRONEMA
Dogbane (APOCYNUM).
Ground-nut (APIOS TUBEROSA).
Adder's-tongue pogonia (POGONIA
Horned bladderwort (UTRICULARIA

The last-named, horned bladderwort, is perhaps the most fragrant 
flower we have.  In a warm, moist atmosphere, its odor is almost 
too strong.  It is a plant with a slender, leafless stalk or scape 
less than a foot high, with two or more large yellow hood or helmet 
shaped flowers.  It is not common, and belongs pretty well north, 
growing in sandy swamps and along the marshy margins of lakes and 
ponds.  Its perfume is sweet and spicy in an eminent degree.  I 
have placed in the above list several flowers that are 
intermittently fragrant, like the hepatica, or liver-leaf.  This 
flower is the earliest, as it is certainly one of the most 
beautiful, to be found in our woods, and occasionally it is 
fragrant.  Group after group may  be  inspected, ranging through 
all shades of purple and blue, with some perfectly white, and no 
odor be detected, when presently you will happen upon a little 
brood of them that have a most delicate and delicious fragrance.  
The same is true of a species of loosestrife growing along streams 
and on other wet places, with tall bushy stalks, dark green leaves, 
and pale axillary yellow flowers (probably European).  A handful of 
these flowers will sometimes exhale a  sweet fragrance;  at other 
times, or from another locality, they are scentless.   Our evening 
primrose is thought to be uniformly sweet-scented, but the past 
season I examined many specimens, and failed to find one that was 
so.  Some seasons the sugar maple yields much sweeter sap than in 
others; and even individual trees, owing to the soil, moisture, and 
other conditions where they stand, show a great difference in this 
respect.    The same is doubtless true of the sweet-scented 
flowers.  I had always supposed that our Canada violet--the tall, 
leafy-stemmed white violet of our Northern woods--was odorless, 
till a correspondent called my attention to the contrary fact.  On 
examination I found that, while the first ones that bloomed about 
May 25 had very sweet-scented foliage, especially when crushed in 
the hand, the flowers were practically without fragrance.  But as 
the season advanced the fragrance developed, till a single flower 
had a well-marked perfume, and a handful of them was sweet indeed.  
A single specimen, plucked about August 1, was quite as fragrant as 
the English violet, though the perfume is not what is known as 
violet, but, like that of the hepatica, comes nearer to the odor of 
certain fruit trees.

It is only for a brief period that the blossoms of our sugar maple 
are sweet-scented; the perfume seems to become stale after a few 
days: but pass under this tree just at the right moment, say at 
nightfall on the first or second day of its perfect inflorescence, 
and the air is laden with its sweetness; its perfumed breath falls 
upon you as its cool shadow does a few weeks later.

After the linnæa and the arbutus, the prettiest sweet-scented 
flowering vine our woods hold is the common mitchella vine, called 
squaw-berry and partridge-berry.  It blooms in June, and its twin 
flowers, light cream-color, velvety, tubular, exhale a most 
agreeable fragrance.

Our flora is much more rich in orchids than the European, and many 
of ours are fragrant.  The first to bloom in the spring is the 
showy orchis, though it is far less showy than several others.  I 
find it in May, not on hills, where Gray says it grows, but in low, 
damp places in the woods.   It has two oblong shining leaves, with 
a scape four or five inches high strung with sweet-scented, pink-
purple flowers.  I usually find it and the fringed polygala in 
bloom at the same time; the lady's-slipper is a little later.   The 
purple fringed-orchis, one of the most showy and striking of all 
our orchids, blooms in midsummer in swampy meadows and in marshy, 
grassy openings in the woods, shooting up a tapering column or 
cylinder of pink-purple fringed flowers, that one may see at quite 
a distance, and the perfume of which is too rank for a close room.  
This flower is, perhaps, like the English fragrant orchis, found in 

Few fragrant flowers in the shape of weeds have come to us from the 
Old World, and this leads me to remark that plants with sweet-
scented flowers are, for the most part, more intensely local, more 
fastidious and idiosyncratic, than those without perfume.  Our 
native thistle--the pasture thistle--has a marked fragrance, and it 
is much more shy and limited in its range than the common Old World 
thistle that grows everywhere.  Our little, sweet white violet 
grows only in wet places, and the Canada violet only in high, cool 
woods, while the common blue violet is much more general in its 
distribution.  How fastidious and exclusive is the cypripedium!  
You will find it in one locality in the woods, usually on high, dry 
ground, and will look in vain for it elsewhere.  It does not go in 
herds like the commoner plants, but affects privacy and solitude.  
When I come upon it in my walks, I seem to be intruding upon some 
very private and exclusive company.  The large yellow cypripedium 
has a peculiar, heavy, oily odor.

In like manner one learns where to look for arbutus, for 
pipsissewa, for the early orchis; they have their particular 
haunts, and their surroundings are nearly always the same.  The 
yellow pond-lily is found in every sluggish stream and pond, but 
NYMPHÆA ODORATA requires a nicer adjustment of conditions, and 
consequently is more restricted in its range.  If the mullein were 
fragrant, or toadflax, or the daisy, or blue-weed, or goldenrod, 
they would doubtless be far less troublesome to the agriculturist.  
There are, of course, exceptions to the rule I have here indicated, 
but it holds in most cases.  Genius is a specialty: it does not 
grow in every soil; it skips the many and touches the few; and the 
gift of perfume to a flower is a special grace like genius or like 
beauty, and never becomes common or cheap.

"Do honey and fragrance always go together in the flowers? "Not 
uniformly.  Of the list of fragrant wild flowers I have given, the 
only ones that the bees procure nectar from, so far as I have 
observed, are arbutus, dicentra, sugar maple, locust, and linden.  
Non-fragrant flowers that yield honey are those of the raspberry, 
clematis, sumac, white oak, bugloss, ailanthus, goldenrod, aster, 
fleabane.  A large number of odorless plants yield pollen to the 
bee.  There is nectar in the columbine, and the bumblebee sometimes 
gets it by piercing the spur from the outside as she does with 
dicentra.  There ought to be honey in the honeysuckle, but I have 
never seen the hive-bee make any attempt to get it.


One is tempted to say that the most human plants, after all, are 
the weeds. How they cling to man and follow him around the world, 
and spring up wherever he sets his foot!  How they crowd around his 
barns and dwellings, and throng his garden and jostle and override 
each other in their strife to be near him!  Some of them are so 
domestic and familiar, and so harmless withal, that one comes to 
regard them with positive affection.  Motherwort, catnip, plantain, 
tansy, wild mustard,--what a homely human look they have! they are 
an integral part of every old homestead.  Your smart new place will 
wait long before they draw near it.  Or knot-grass, that carpets 
every old dooryard, and fringes every walk, and softens every path 
that knows the feet of children, or that leads to the spring, or to 
the garden, or to the barn, how kindly one comes to look upon it! 
Examine it with a pocket glass and see how wonderfully beautiful 
and exquisite are its tiny blossoms. It loves the human foot, and 
when the path or the place is long disused, other plants usurp the 

The gardener and the farmer are ostensibly the greatest enemies of 
the weeds, but they are in reality their best friends.  Weeds, like 
rats and mice, increase and spread enormously in a cultivated 
country.  They have better food, more sunshine, and more aids in 
getting themselves disseminated.  They are sent from one end of the 
land to the other in seed grain of various kinds, and they take 
their share, and more too, if they can get it, of the phosphates 
and stable manures.  How sure, also, they are to survive any war of 
extermination that is waged against them!  In yonder field are ten 
thousand and one Canada thistles.  The farmer goes resolutely to 
work and destroys ten thousand and thinks the work is finished, but 
he has done nothing till he has destroyed the ten thousand and one. 
This one will keep up the stock and again cover his field with 

Weeds are Nature's makeshift.  She rejoices in the grass and the 
grain, but when these fail to cover her nakedness she resorts to 
weeds.  It is in her plan or a part of her economy to keep the 
ground constantly covered with vegetation of some sort, and she has 
layer upon layer of seeds in the soil for this purpose, and the 
wonder is that each kind lies dormant until it is wanted.  If I 
uncover the earth in any of my fields, ragweed and pigweed spring 
up; if these are destroyed, harvest grass, or quack grass, or 
purslane, appears.  The spade or the plow that turns these under is 
sure to turn up some other variety, as chickweed, sheep-sorrel, or 
goose-foot.   The soil is a storehouse of seeds.

The old farmers say that wood-ashes will bring in the white clover, 
and they will; the germs are in the soil wrapped in a profound 
slumber, but this stimulus tickles them until they awake.  
Stramonium has been known to start up on the site of an old farm 
building, when it had not been seen in that locality for thirty 
years.  I have been told that a farmer, somewhere in New England, 
in digging a well came at a great depth upon sand like that of the 
seashore; it was thrown out, and in due time there sprang from it a 
marine plant.  I have never seen earth taken from so great a depth 
that it would not before the end of the season be clothed with a 
crop of weeds.  Weeds are so full of expedients, and the one 
engrossing purpose with them is to multiply.  The wild onion 
multiplies at both ends,--at the top by seed, and at the bottom by 
offshoots.  Toad-flax travels under ground and above ground. Never 
allow a seed to ripen, and yet it will cover your field.  Cut off 
the head of the wild carrot, and in a week or two there are five 
heads in place of this one; cut off these, and by fall there are 
ten looking defiance at, you from the same root.  Plant corn in 
August, and it will go forward with its preparations as if it had 
the whole season before it.  Not so with the weeds; they have 
learned better.  If amaranth, or abutilon, or burdock gets a late 
start, it makes great haste to develop its seed; it foregoes its 
tall stalk and wide flaunting growth, and turns all its energies 
into keeping up the succession of the species.  Certain fields 
under the plow are always infested with "blind nettles," others 
with wild buckwheat, black bindweed, or cockle. The seed lies 
dormant under the sward, the warmth and the moisture affect it not 
until other conditions are fulfilled.

The way in which one plant thus keeps another down is a great 
mystery. Germs lie there in the soil and resist the stimulating 
effect of the sun and the rains for years, and show no sign. 
Presently something whispers to them, "Arise, your chance has come; 
the coast is clear;" and they are up and doing in a twinkling.

Weeds are great travelers; they are, indeed, the tramps of the 
vegetable world.  They are going east, west, north, south; they 
walk; they fly; they swim; they steal a ride; they travel by rail, 
by flood, by wind; they go under ground, and they go above, across 
lots, and by the highway.  But, like other tramps, they find it 
safest by the highway: in the fields they are intercepted and cut 
off; but on the public road, every boy, every passing herd of sheep 
or cows, gives them a lift.  Hence the incursion of a new weed is 
generally first noticed along the highway or the railroad.  In 
Orange County I saw from the car window a field overrun with what I 
took to be the branching white mullein.  Gray says it is found in 
Pennsylvania and at the head of Oneida Lake.  Doubtless it had come 
by rail from one place or the other.  Our botanist says of the 
bladder campion, a species of pink, that it has been naturalized 
around Boston; but it is now much farther west, and I know fields 
along the Hudson overrun with it.  Streams and water-courses are 
the natural highway of the weeds.  Some years ago, and by some 
means or other, the viper's bugloss, or blue-weed, which is said to 
be a troublesome weed in Virginia, effected a lodgment near the 
head of the Esopus Creek, a tributary of the Hudson.  From this 
point it has made its way down the stream, overrunning its  banks  
and invading meadows and cultivated fields, and proving a serious 
obstacle to the farmer.  All the gravelly, sandy margins and 
islands of the Esopus, sometimes acres in extent, are in June and 
July blue with it, and rye and oats and grass in the near fields 
find it a serious competitor for possession of the soil.  It has 
gone down the Hudson, and is appearing in the fields along its 
shores.  The tides carry it up the mouths of the streams where it 
takes root; the winds, or the birds, or other agencies, in time 
give it another lift, so that it is slowly but surely making its 
way inland.  The bugloss belongs to what may be called beautiful 
weeds, despite its rough and bristly stalk.  Its flowers are deep 
violet-blue, the stamens exserted, as the botanists say, that is, 
projected beyond the mouth of the corolla, with showy red anthers.  
This bit of red, mingling with the blue of the corolla, gives a 
very rich, warm purple hue to the flower, that is especially 
pleasing at a little distance.  The best thing I know about this 
weed besides its good looks is that it yields honey or pollen to 
the bee.

Another foreign plant that the Esopus Creek has distributed along 
its shores and carried to the Hudson is saponaria, known as 
"Bouncing Bet."   It is a common and in places troublesome weed in 
this valley.  Bouncing Bet is, perhaps, its English name, as the 
pink-white complexion of its flowers with their perfume and the 
coarse, robust character of the plant really give it a kind of 
English feminine comeliness and bounce.  It looks like a Yorkshire 
housemaid.  Still another plant in my section, which I notice has 
been widely distributed by the agency of water, is the spiked 
loosestrife.  It first appeared many years ago along the Wallkill; 
now it may be seen upon many of its tributaries and all along its 
banks; and in many of the marshy bays and coves along the Hudson, 
its great masses of purple-red bloom in middle and late summer 
affording a welcome relief to the traveler's eye.  It also belongs 
to the class of beautiful weeds.  It grows rank and tall, in dense 
communities, and always presents to the eye a generous mass of 
color.  In places, the marshes and creek banks are all aglow with 
it, its wand-like spikes of flowers shooting up and uniting in 
volumes or pyramids of still flame.  Its petals, when examined 
closely, present a curious wrinkled or crumpled appearance, like 
newly washed linen; but when massed, the effect is eminently 
pleasing.  It also came from abroad, probably first brought to this 
country as a garden or ornamental plant.

As a curious illustration of how weeds are carried from one end of 
the earth to the other, Sir Joseph Hooker relates this 
circumstance: "On one occasion," he says, "landing on a small 
uninhabited island nearly at the Antipodes, the first evidence I 
met with of its having been previously visited by man was the 
English chickweed; and this I traced to a mound that marked the 
grave of a British sailor, and that was covered with the plant, 
doubtless the offspring of seed that had adhered to the spade or 
mattock with which the grave had been dug."

Ours is a weedy country because it is a roomy country.  Weeds love 
a wide margin, and they find it here.  You shall see more weeds in 
one day's-travel in this country than in a week's journey in 
Europe.  Our culture of the soil is not so close and thorough, our 
occupancy not so entire and exclusive.  The weeds take up with the 
farmers' leavings, and find good fare.  One may see a large slice 
taken from a field by elecampane, or by teasel or milkweed; whole 
acres given up to whiteweed, golden-rod, wild carrots, or the ox-
eye daisy; meadows overrun with bear-weed, and sheep pastures 
nearly ruined by St. John's-wort or the Canada thistle.  Our farms 
are so large and our husbandry so loose that we do not mind these 
things.  By and by we shall clean them out.  When Sir Joseph Hooker 
landed in New England a few years ago, he was surprised to find how 
the European plants flourished there.  He found the wild chicory 
growing far more luxuriantly than he had ever seen it elsewhere, 
"forming a tangled mass of stems and branches, studded with 
turquoise-blue blossoms, and covering acres of ground."  This is 
one of the many weeds that Emerson binds into a bouquet in his 

 "Succory to match the sky,
   Columbine with horn of honey,
   Scented fern and agrimony,
   Clover, catchfly, adder's-tongue,
   And brier-roses, dwelt among."

A less accurate poet than Emerson would probably have let his 
reader infer that the bumblebee gathered honey from all these 
plants, but Emerson is careful to say only that she dwelt among 
them.  Succory is one of Virgil's weeds also,--

 "And spreading succ'ry chokes the
   rising field."

Is there not something in our soil and climate exceptionally 
favorable to weeds,--something harsh, ungenial, sharp-toothed, that 
is akin to them? How woody and rank and fibrous many varieties 
become, lasting the whole season, and standing up stark and stiff 
through the deep winter snows,--desiccated, preserved by our dry 
air! Do nettles and thistles bite so sharply in any other country?  
Let the farmer tell you how they bite of a dry midsummer day when 
he encounters them in his wheat or oat harvest.

Yet it is a fact that all our more pernicious weeds, like our 
vermin, are of Old World origin.  They hold up their heads and 
assert themselves here, and take their fill of riot and license; 
they are avenged for their long years of repression by the stern 
hand of European agriculture.  We have hardly a weed we can call 
our own.  I recall but three that are at all noxious or 
troublesome, namely, milkweed, ragweed, and goldenrod; but who 
would miss the last from our fields and highways?

 "Along the roadside, like the flowers
       of gold
   That tawny Incas for their gardens 
   Heavy with sunshine droops the 

sings Whittier. In Europe our goldenrod is cultivated in the flower 
gardens, as well it may be.  The native species is found mainly in 
woods, and is much less showy than ours.

Our milkweed is tenacious of life; its roots lie deep, as if to get 
away from the plow, but it seldom infests cultivated crops.  Then 
its stalk is so full of milk and its pod so full of silk that one 
cannot but ascribe good intentions to it, if it does sometimes 
overrun the meadow.

 "In dusty pods the milkweed
   Its hidden silk has spun,"

sings "H. H." in her "September."

Of our ragweed not much can be set down that is complimentary, 
except that its name in the botany is AMBROSIA, food of the gods.  
It must be the food of the gods if anything, for, so far as I have 
observed, nothing terrestrial eats it, not even billy-goats.  (Yet 
a correspondent writes me that in Kentucky the cattle eat it when 
hard-pressed, and that a certain old farmer there, one season when 
the hay crop failed, cut and harvested tons of it for his stock in 
winter.  It is said that the milk and butter made from such hay are 
not at all suggestive of the traditional Ambrosia!)  It is the bane 
of asthmatic patients, but the gardener makes short work of it.  It 
is about the only one of our weeds that follows the plow and the 
harrow, and, except that it is easily destroyed, I should suspect 
it to be an immigrant from the Old World.  Our fleabane is a 
troublesome weed at times, but good husbandry has little to dread 
from it.

But all the other outlaws of the farm and garden come to us from 
over seas; and what a long list it is:--

Common thistle,
Canada thistle,
Yellow dock,
Wild carrot,
Ox-eye daisy,
Dead-nettle (LAMIUM),
Hemp nettle (GALEOPSIS),
Hound 's-tongue,
Quitch grass,
Wild mustard,
Shepherd's purse,
St. John's-wort
Poison hemlock,
Wild radish,
Wild parsnip,

and others less noxious.  To offset this list we have given Europe 
the vilest of all weeds, a parasite that sucks up human blood, 
tobacco.  Now if they catch the Colorado beetle of us, it will go 
far toward paying them off for the rats and the mice, and for other 
pests in our houses.

The more attractive and pretty of the British weeds--as the common 
daisy, of which the poets have made so much, the larkspur, which is 
a pretty cornfield weed, and the scarlet field-poppy, which flowers 
all summer, and is so taking amid the ripening grain--have not 
immigrated to our shores.  Like a certain sweet rusticity and charm 
of European rural life, they do not thrive readily under our skies.  
Our fleabane has become a common roadside weed in England, and a 
few other of our native less known plants have gained a foothold in 
the Old World.  Our beautiful jewel-weed has recently appeared 
along certain of the English rivers.

Pokeweed is a native American, and what a lusty, royal plant it is!  
It never invades cultivated fields, but hovers about the borders 
and looks over the fences like a painted Indian sachem.  Thoreau 
coveted its strong purple stalk for a cane, and the robins eat its 
dark crimson-juiced berries.

It is commonly believed that the mullein is indigenous to this 
country, for have we not heard that it is cultivated in European 
gardens, and christened the American velvet plant? Yet it, too, 
seems to have come over with the Pilgrims, and is most abundant in  
the older parts of the country.  It abounds throughout Europe and 
Asia, and had its economic uses with the ancients.  The Greeks made 
lamp-wicks of its dried leaves, and the Romans dipped its dried 
stalk in tallow for funeral torches.  It affects dry uplands in 
this country, and, as it takes two years to mature, it is not a 
troublesome weed in cultivated crops.  The first year it sits low 
upon the ground in its coarse flannel leaves, and makes ready; if 
the plow comes along now, its career is ended.  The second season 
it starts upward its tall stalk, which in late summer is thickly 
set with small yellow flowers, and in fall is charged with myriads 
of fine black seeds.  "As full as a dry mullein stalk of seeds" is 
almost equivalent to saying, "as numerous as the sands upon the 

Perhaps the most notable thing about the weeds that have come to us 
from the Old World, when compared with our native species, is their 
persistence, not to say pugnacity.  They fight for the soil; they 
plant colonies here and there, and will not be rooted out.  Our 
native weeds are for the most part shy and harmless, and retreat 
before cultivation, but the European outlaws follow man like 
vermin; they hang to his coat-skirts, his sheep transport them in 
their wool, his cow and horse in tail and mane.  As I have before 
said, it is as with the rats and mice.  The American rat is in the 
woods and is rarely seen even by woodmen, and the native mouse 
barely hovers upon the outskirts of civilization; while the Old 
World species defy our traps and our poison, and have usurped the 
land.  So with the weeds.  Take the thistle for instance: the 
common and abundant one everywhere, in fields and along highways, 
is the European species; while the native thistles, swamp thistle, 
pasture thistle, etc., are much more shy, and are not at all 
troublesome.  The Canada thistle, too, which came to us by way of 
Canada,--what a pest, what a usurper, what a defier of the plow and 
the harrow!  I know of but one effectual way to treat it,--put on a 
pair of buckskin gloves, and pull up every plant that shows itself; 
this will effect a radical cure in two summers. Of course the plow 
or the scythe, if not allowed to rest more than a month at a time, 
will finally conquer it.

Or take the common St. John's-wort,--how it has established itself 
in our fields and become a most pernicious weed, very difficult to 
extirpate; while the native species are quite rare, and seldom or 
never invade cultivated fields, being found mostly in wet and rocky 
waste places.  Of Old World origin, too, is the curled-leaf dock 
that is so annoying about one's garden and home meadows, its long 
tapering root clinging to the soil with such tenacity that I have 
pulled upon it till I could see stars without budging it; it has 
more lives than a cat, making a shift to live when pulled up and 
laid on top of the ground in the burning summer sun. Our native 
docks are mostly found in swamps, or near them, and are harmless.

Purslane--commonly called "pusley," and which has given rise to the 
saying, "as mean as pusley"--of course is not American.  A good 
sample of our native purslane is the claytonia, or spring beauty, a 
shy, delicate plant that opens its rose-colored flowers in the 
moist, sunny places in the woods or along their borders so early in 
the season.

There are few more obnoxious weeds in cultivated ground than sheep-
sorrel, also an Old World plant; while our native wood-sorrel, with 
its white, delicately veined flowers, or the variety with yellow 
flowers, is quite harmless.  The same is true of the mallow, the 
vetch, the tare, and other plants.  We have no native plant so 
indestructible as garden orpine,  or live-forever, which our 
grandmothers nursed, and for which they are cursed by many a 
farmer.  The fat, tender, succulent dooryard stripling turned out 
to be a monster that would devour the earth.  I have seen acres of 
meadow land destroyed by it.  The way to drown an amphibious animal 
is never to allow it to come to the surface to breathe, and this is 
the way to kill live-forever.  It lives by its stalk and leaf, more 
than by its root, and, if cropped or bruised as soon as it comes to 
the surface, it will in time perish.  It laughs the plow, the hoe, 
the cultivator to scorn, but grazing herds will eventually scotch 
it.  Our two species of native orpine, SEDUM TERNATUM and S. 
TELEPHIOIDES, are never troublesome as weeds.

The European weeds are sophisticated, domesticated, civilized; they 
have been to school to man for many hundred years, and they have 
learned to thrive upon him: their struggle for existence has been 
sharp and protracted; it has made them hardy and prolific; they 
will thrive in a lean soil, or they will wax strong in a rich one; 
in all cases they follow man and profit by him.  Our native weeds, 
on the other hand, are furtive and retiring; they flee before the 
plow and the scythe, and hide in corners and remote waste places.  
Will they, too, in time, change their habits in this respect?

"Idle weeds are fast in growth," says Shakespeare, but that depends 
upon whether the competition is sharp and close.  If the weed finds 
itself distanced, or pitted against great odds, it grows more 
slowly and is of diminished stature, but let it once get the upper 
hand, and what strides it makes!  Red-root will grow four or five 
feet high if it has a chance, or it will content itself with a few 
inches and mature its seed almost upon the ground.

Many of our worst weeds are plants that have-escaped from 
cultivation, as the wild radish, which is troublesome in parts of 
New England; the wild carrot, which infests the fields in eastern 
New York; and the live-forever, which thrives and multiplies under 
the plow and harrow.  In my section an annoying weed is abutilon, 
or velvet-leaf, also called "old maid," which has fallen from the 
grace of the garden and followed the plow afield.  It will manage 
to mature its seeds if not allowed to start till midsummer.

Of beautiful weeds quite a long list might be made without 
including any of the so-called wild flowers.  A favorite of mine is 
the little moth mullein that blooms along the highway, and about 
the fields, and maybe upon the edge of the lawn, from midsummer 
till frost comes.  In winter its slender stalk rises above the 
snow, bearing its round seed-pods on its pin-like stems, and is 
pleasing even then.   Its flowers are yellow or white, large, 
wheel-shaped,  and  are borne vertically with filaments loaded with 
little tufts of violet wool.  The plant has none of the coarse, 
hairy character of the common mullein.  Our cone-flower, which one 
of our poets has called the "brown-eyed daisy," has a pleasing 
effect when in vast numbers they invade a meadow (if it is not your 
meadow), their dark brown centres or disks and their golden rays 
showing conspicuously.

Bidens, two-teeth, or "pitchforks," as the boys call them, are 
welcomed by the eye when in late summer they make the swamps and 
wet, waste places yellow with their blossoms.

Vervain is a beautiful weed, especially the blue or purple variety. 
Its drooping knotted threads also make a pretty etching upon the 
winter snow.

Iron-weed, which looks like an overgrown aster, has the same 
intense purple-blue color, and a royal profusion of flowers.  There 
are giants among the weeds, as well as dwarfs and pigmies.  One of 
the giants is purple eupatorium, which sometimes carries its 
corymbs of flesh-colored flowers ten and twelve feet high.  A 
pretty and curious little weed, sometimes found growing in the edge 
of the garden, is the clasping specularia, a relative of the 
harebell and of the European Venus's looking-glass.  Its leaves are 
shell-shaped, and clasp the stalk so as to form little shallow 
cups.  In the bottom of each cup three buds appear that never 
expand into flowers; but when the top of the stalk is reached, one 
and sometimes two buds open a large, delicate purple-blue corolla.  
All the first-born of this plant are still-born, as it were; only 
the latest, which spring from its summit, attain to perfect bloom.  
A weed which one ruthlessly demolishes when he finds it hiding from 
the plow amid the strawberries, or under the currant-bushes and 
grapevines, is the dandelion; yet who would banish it from the 
meadows or the lawns, where it copies in gold upon the green 
expanse the stars of the midnight sky?  After its first blooming 
comes its second and finer and more spiritual inflorescence, when 
its stalk, dropping its more earthly and carnal flower, shoots 
upward, and is presently crowned by a globe of the most delicate 
and aerial texture.  It is like the poet's dream, which succeeds 
his rank and golden youth.  This globe is a fleet of a hundred 
fairy balloons, each one of which bears a seed which it is destined 
to drop far from the parent source.

Most weeds have their uses; they are not wholly malevolent.  
Emerson says a weed is a plant whose virtues we have not yet 
discovered; but the wild creatures discover their virtues if we do 
not.  The bumblebee has discovered that the hateful toadflax, which 
nothing will eat, and which in some soils will run out the grass, 
has honey at its heart.  Narrow-leaved plantain is readily eaten by 
cattle, and the honey-bee gathers much pollen from it.  The ox-eye 
daisy makes a fair quality of hay if cut before it gets ripe.  The 
cows will eat the leaves of the burdock and the stinging nettles of 
the woods.  But what cannot a cow's tongue stand? She will crop the 
poison ivy with impunity, and I think would eat thistles if she 
found them growing in the garden.  Leeks and garlics are readily 
eaten by cattle in the spring, and are said to be medicinal to 
them.  Weeds that yield neither pasturage for bee nor herd yet 
afford seeds to the fall and winter birds.  This is true of most of 
the obnoxious weeds of the garden, and of thistles.  The wild 
lettuce yields down for the hummingbird's nest, and the flowers of 
whiteweed are used by the kingbird and cedar-bird.

Yet it is pleasant to remember that, in our climate, there are no 
weeds so persistent and lasting and universal as grass.  Grass is 
the natural covering of the fields.  There are but four weeds that 
I know of--milkweed, live-forever, Canada thistle, and toad-flax--
that it will not run out in a good soil.  We crop it and mow it 
year after year; and yet, if the season favors, it is sure to come 
again.  Fields that have never known the plow, and never been 
seeded by man, are yet covered with grass.  And in human nature, 
too, weeds are by no means  in the ascendant, troublesome as they 
are.  The good green grass of love and truthfulness and common 
sense is more universal, and crowds the idle weeds to the wall.

But weeds have this virtue; they are not easily discouraged; they 
never lose heart entirely; they die game.  If they cannot have the 
best, they will take up with the poorest; if fortune is unkind to 
them to-day, they hope for better luck to-morrow; if they cannot 
lord it over a corn-hill, they will sit humbly at its foot and 
accept what comes; in all cases they make the most of their 




The day was indeed white, as white as three  feet of snow and a 
cloudless St. Valentine's sun could make it.  The eye could not 
look forth without blinking, or veiling itself with tears.  The 
patch of plowed ground on the top of the hill, where the wind had 
blown the snow away, was as welcome to it as water to a parched 
tongue.  It was the one refreshing oasis in this desert of dazzling 
light.  I sat down upon it to let the eye bathe and revel in it.  
It took away the smart like a poultice.  For so gentle and on the 
whole so beneficent an element, the snow asserts itself very 
proudly.  It takes the world quickly and entirely to itself.  It 
makes no concessions or compromises, but rules despotically.  It 
baffles and bewilders the eye, and it returns the sun glare for 
glare.  Its coming in our winter climate is the hand of mercy to 
the earth and to everything in its bosom, but it is a barrier and 
an embargo to everything that moves above.

We toiled up the long steep hill, where only an occasional mullein-
stalk or other tall weed stood above the snow.  Near the top the 
hill was girded with a bank of snow that blotted out the stone wall 
and every vestige of the earth beneath.  These hills wear this belt 
till May, and sometimes the plow pauses beside them.  From the top 
of the ridge an immense landscape in immaculate white stretches 
before us.  Miles upon miles of farms, smoothed and padded by the 
stainless element, hang upon the sides of the mountains, or repose 
across the long sloping hills.    The fences or stone walls show 
like half-obliterated black lines.   I turn my back to the sun, or 
shade my eyes with my hand.  Every  object  or movement  in the 
landscape is sharply revealed; one could see a fox half a league.  
The farmer foddering his cattle, or drawing manure afield, or 
leading his horse to water; the pedestrian crossing the hill below; 
the children wending their way  toward  the  distant  schoolhouse,--
the  eye cannot help but note them: they are black specks upon 
square miles of luminous white.  What a multitude of sins this 
unstinted charity of the snow covers!  How it flatters the ground!- 
Yonder sterile field might be a garden, and you would never suspect 
that that gentle slope with its pretty dimples and curves was not 
the smoothest of meadows, yet it is paved with rocks and stone.

But what is that black speck creeping across that cleared field 
near the top of the mountain at the head of the valley, three 
quarters of a mile away?  It is like a fly moving across an 
illuminated surface.  A distant mellow bay floats to us, and we 
know it is the hound.  He picked up the trail of the fox half an 
hour since, where he had crossed the ridge early in the morning, 
and now he has routed him and Reynard is steering for the Big 
Mountain.  We press on and attain the shoulder of the range, where 
we strike a trail two or three days old of some former hunters, 
which leads us into the woods along the side of the mountain.    We 
are on the first plateau before the summit; the snow partly 
supports us, but when it gives way and we sound it with our legs, 
we find it up to our hips.    Here we enter a white world indeed.    
It is like some conjurer's trick.    The very trees have turned to 
snow.  The smallest branch is like a cluster of great white 
antlers.  The eye is bewildered by the soft fleecy labyrinth before 
it.  On the lower ranges the forests were entirely bare, but now we 
perceive the summit of every mountain about us runs up into a kind 
of arctic region where the trees are loaded with snow.  The 
beginning of this colder zone is sharply marked all around the 
horizon; the line runs as level as the shore line of a lake or sea; 
indeed, a warmer aerial sea fills all the valleys, submerging the 
lower peaks, and making white islands of all the higher ones.  The 
branches bend with the rime.  The winds have not shaken it down.  
It adheres to them like a growth. On examination I find the 
branches coated with ice, from which shoot slender spikes and 
needles that penetrate and hold the cord of snow.  It is a new kind 
of foliage wrought by the frost and the clouds, and it obscures the 
sky, and fills the vistas of the woods nearly as much as the myriad 
leaves of summer.  The sun blazes, the sky is without a cloud or a 
film, yet we walk in a soft white shade.  A gentle breeze was 
blowing on the open crest of the mountain, but one could carry a 
lighted candle through these snow-curtained and snow-canopied 
chambers.  How shall we see the fox if the hound drives him through 
this white obscurity?  But we listen in vain for the voice of the 
dog and press on.  Hares' tracks were numerous.  Their great soft 
pads had left their imprint everywhere, sometimes showing a clear 
leap of ten feet.  They had regular circuits which we crossed at 
intervals.  The woods were well suited to them, low and dense, and, 
as we saw, liable at times to wear a livery whiter than their own.

The mice, too, how thick their tracks were, that of the white-
footed mouse being most abundant; but occasionally there was a much 
finer track, with strides or leaps scarcely more than an inch 
apart.  This is perhaps the little shrew-mouse of the woods, the 
body not more than an inch and a half long, the smallest mole or 
mouse kind known to me.  Once, while encamping in the woods, one of 
these tiny shrews got into an empty pail standing in camp, and died 
before morning, either from the cold, or in despair of ever getting 
out of the pail.

At one point, around a small sugar maple, the mice-tracks  are 
unusually thick.  It is doubtless their granary; they have beech-
nuts stored there, I'll warrant.  There are two entrances to the 
cavity of the tree,--one at the base, and one seven or eight feet 
up. At the upper one, which is only just the size of a mouse, a 
squirrel has been trying to break in.  He has cut and chiseled the 
solid wood to the depth of nearly an inch, and his chips strew the 
snow all about.  He knows what is in there, and the mice know that 
he knows;  hence their apparent consternation.  They have rushed 
wildly about over the snow, and, I doubt not, have given the 
piratical red squirrel a piece of their minds.  A few yards away 
the mice have a hole down into the snow, which perhaps leads to 
some snug den under the ground.   Hither they may have been slyly 
removing their stores while the squirrel was at work with his back 
turned.  One more night and he will effect an entrance: what a good 
joke upon him if he finds the cavity empty!   These native mice are 
very provident, and, I imagine, have to take many precautions to 
prevent their winter stores being plundered by the squirrels, who 
live, as it were, from hand to mouth.

We see several fresh fox-tracks, and wish for the hound, but there 
are no tidings of him.  After half an hour's floundering and 
cautiously picking our way through the woods, we emerge into a 
cleared field that stretches up from the valley below, and just 
laps over the back of the mountain.  It is a broad belt of white 
that drops down and down till it joins other fields that sweep 
along the base of the mountain, a mile away.  To the east, through 
a deep defile in the mountains, a landscape in an adjoining county 
lifts itself up, like a bank of white and gray clouds.

When the experienced fox-hunter comes out upon such an eminence as 
this, he always scrutinizes the fields closely that lie beneath 
him, and it many times happens that his sharp eye detects Reynard 
asleep upon a rock or a stone wall, in which case, if he be armed 
with a rifle and his dog be not near, the poor creature never 
wakens from his slumber.  The fox nearly always takes his nap in 
the open fields, along the sides of the ridges, or under the 
mountain, where he can look down upon the busy farms beneath and 
hear their many sounds, the barking of dogs, the lowing of cattle, 
the cackling of hens, the voices of men and boys, or the sound of 
travel upon the highway.  It is on that side, too, that he keeps 
the sharpest lookout, and the appearance  of the hunter above and 
behind him is always a surprise.  We  pause  here,   and, with  
alert  ears  turned toward the Big Mountain in front of us, listen 
for the dog.  But not a sound is heard.  A flock of snow buntings 
pass high above us, uttering their contented twitter, and their 
white forms seen against the intense blue give the impression of 
large snowflakes drifting across the sky.  I hear a purple finch, 
too, and the feeble lisp of the redpoll.  A shrike (the first I 
have seen this season) finds occasion to come this way also.  He 
alights on the tip of a dry limb, and from his perch can see into 
the valley on both sides of the mountain.  He is prowling about for 
chickadees, no doubt, a troop of which I saw coming through the 
wood.  When pursued by the shrike, the chickadee has been seen to 
take refuge in a squirrel-hole in a tree.  Hark!  Is that the 
hound, or doth expectation mock the eager ear?  With open mouths 
and bated breaths we listen.  Yes, it is old "Singer;" he is 
bringing the fox over the top of the range toward Butt End, the 
ULTIMA THULE of the hunters' tramps in this section.  In a moment 
or two the dog is lost to hearing again.  We wait for his second 
turn; then for his third.

"He is playing about the summit," says my companion.

"Let us go there," say I, and we are off.

More dense snow-hung woods beyond the clearing where we begin our 
ascent of the Big Mountain,--a chief that carries the range up 
several hundred feet higher than the part we have thus far 
traversed.  We are occasionally to our hips in the snow, but for 
the most part the older stratum, a foot or so down, bears us;  up 
and up we go into the dim, muffled solitudes, our hats and coats 
powdered like millers'.  A half-hour's heavy tramping brings us to 
the broad, level summit, and to where the fox and hound have 
crossed and recrossed many times.  As we are walking along 
discussing the matter, we suddenly hear the dog coming straight on 
to us.  The woods are so choked with snow that we do not hear him 
till he breaks up from under the mountain within a hundred yards of 

"We have turned the fox!" we both exclaim, much put out.

Sure enough, we have.  The dog appears in sight, is puzzled a 
moment, then turns sharply to the left, and is lost to eye and to 
ear as quickly as if he had plunged into a cave.  The woods are, 
indeed, a kind of cave,--a cave of alabaster, with the sun shining 
upon it.  We take up positions and wait.  These old hunters know 
exactly where to stand.

"If the fox comes back," said my companion, "he will cross up there 
or down here," indicating two points not twenty rods asunder.

We stood so that each commanded one of the runways indicated.  How 
light it was, though the sun was hidden!  Every branch and twig 
beamed in the sun like a lamp.  A downy woodpecker below me kept up 
a great fuss and clatter,--all for my benefit, I suspected.  All 
about me were great, soft mounds, where the rocks lay buried.  It 
was a cemetery of drift boulders.  There! that is the hound.  Does 
his voice come across the valley from the spur off against us, or 
is it on our side down under the mountain?  After an interval, just 
as I am thinking the dog is going away from us along the opposite 
range, his voice comes up astonishingly near.  A mass of snow falls 
from a branch, and makes one start; but it is not the fox.  Then 
through the white vista below me I catch a glimpse of something red 
or yellow, yellowish red or reddish yellow; it emerges from the 
lower ground, and, with an easy, jaunty air, draws near.   I am 
ready and just in the mood to make a good shot.  The fox stops just 
out of range and listens for the hound.  He looks as bright as an 
autumn leaf upon the spotless surface.  Then he starts on, but he 
is not coming to me, he is going to the other man.  Oh, foolish 
fox, you are going straight into the jaws of death!  My comrade 
stands just there beside that tree.  I would gladly have given 
Reynard the wink, or signaled to him, if I could.  It did seem a 
pity to shoot him, now he was out of my reach.  I cringe for him, 
when crack goes the gun!  The fox squalls, picks himself up, and 
plunges over the brink of the mountain.  The hunter has not missed 
his aim, but the oil in his gun, he says, has weakened the strength 
of his powder.  The hound, hearing the report, comes like a 
whirlwind and is off in hot pursuit.  Both fox and dog now bleed,--
the dog at his heels, the fox from his wounds.

In a few minutes there came up from under the mountain that long, 
peculiar bark which the hound always makes when he has run the fox 
in, or when something new and extraordinary has happened.  In this 
instance he said plainly enough, "The race is up, the coward has 
taken to his hole, ho-o-o-le."  Plunging down in the direction of 
the sound, the snow literally to our waists, we were soon at the 
spot, a great ledge thatched over with three or four feet of snow.  
The dog was alternately licking his heels and whining and berating 
the fox.  The opening into which the latter had fled was partially 
closed, and, as I scraped out and cleared away the snow, I thought 
of the familiar saying, that so far as the sun shines in, the snow 
will blow in.  The fox, I suspect, has always his house of refuge, 
or knows at once where to flee to if hard pressed.  This place 
proved to be a large vertical seam in the rock, into which the dog, 
on a little encouragement from his master, made his way.  I thrust 
my head into the ledge's mouth, and in the dim light watched the 
dog.  He progressed slowly and cautiously till only his bleeding 
heels were visible.  Here some obstacle impeded him a few moments, 
when he entirely disappeared and was presently face to face with 
the fox and engaged in mortal combat with him.  It  is a fierce 
encounter there  beneath the rocks, the fox silent, the dog very 
vociferous.  But after a time the superior weight and strength of 
the latter prevails and the fox is brought to light nearly dead.  
Reynard winks and eyes me suspiciously, as I stroke his head and 
praise his heroic defense; but the hunter quickly and mercifully 
puts an end to his fast-ebbing life.  His canine teeth seem 
unusually large and formidable, and the dog bears the marks of them 
in many deep gashes upon his face and nose.  His pelt is quickly 
stripped off, revealing his lean, sinewy form.

The fox was not as poor in flesh as I expected to see him, though 
I'll warrant he had tasted very little food for days, perhaps for 
weeks.  How his great activity and endurance can be kept up, on the 
spare diet he must of necessity be confined to, is a mystery.  
Snow, snow everywhere, for weeks and for months, and intense cold, 
and no henroost accessible, and no carcass of sheep or pig in the 
neighborhood!  The hunter, tramping miles and leagues through his 
haunts, rarely sees any sign of his having caught anything.  
Rarely, though, in the course of many winters, he may have seen 
evidence of his having surprised a rabbit or a partridge in the 
woods.  He no doubt at this season lives largely upon the memory 
(or the fat) of the many good dinners he had in the plentiful 
summer and fall.

As we crossed the mountain on our return, we saw at one point 
blood-stains upon the snow, and, as the fox-tracks were very thick 
on and about it, we concluded that a couple of males had had an 
encounter there, and a pretty sharp one.  Reynard goes a-wooing in 
February, and it is to be presumed that, like other dogs, he is a 
jealous lover.  A crow had alighted and examined the blood-stains, 
and now, if he will look a little farther along, upon a flat rock 
he will find the flesh he was looking for.  Our hound's nose was so 
blunted now, speaking without metaphor, that he would not look at 
another trail, but hurried home to rest upon his laurels.


While on a visit to Washington in January, 1878, I went on an 
expedition down the Potomac with a couple of friends to shoot 
ducks.  We left on the morning boat that makes daily trips to and 
from Mount Vernon.  The weather was chilly and the sky threatening.  
The clouds had a singular appearance; they were boat-shaped, with 
well-defined keels.  I have seldom known such clouds to bring rain; 
they are simply the fleet of Æolus, and so it proved on this 
occasion, for they gradually dispersed or faded out and before noon 
the sun was shining.

We saw numerous flocks of ducks on the passage down, and saw a gun 
(the man was concealed) shoot some from a "blind" near Fort 
Washington.  Opposite Mount Vernon, on the flats, there was a large 
"bed" of ducks.  I thought the word a good one to describe a long 
strip of water thickly planted with them.  One of my friends was a 
member of the Washington and Mount Vernon Ducking Club, which has 
its camp and fixtures just below the Mount Vernon landing; he was 
an old ducker.  For my part, I had never killed a duck,--except 
with an axe,--nor have I yet.

We made our way along the beach from the landing, over piles of 
driftwood, and soon reached the quarters, a substantial building, 
fitted up with a stove, bunks, chairs, a table, culinary utensils, 
crockery, etc., with one corner piled full of decoys.  There were 
boats to row in and boxes to shoot from, and I felt sure we should 
have a pleasant time, whether we got any ducks or not.  The weather 
improved hourly, till in the afternoon a well-defined installment 
of the Indian summer, that had been delayed somewhere, settled down 
upon the scene; this lasted during our stay of two days.  The river 
was placid, even glassy, the air richly and deeply toned with haze, 
and the sun that of the mellowest October.  "The fairer the 
weather, the fewer the ducks," said one of my companions.  "But 
this is better than ducks," I thought, and prayed that it might 

Then there was something pleasing to the fancy in being so near to 
Mount Vernon.  It formed a-sort of rich, historic background to our 
flitting and trivial experiences.  Just where the eye of the great 
Captain would perhaps first strike the water as he came out in the 
morning to take a turn up and down his long piazza, the Club had 
formerly had a "blind," but the ice of a few weeks before our visit 
had carried it away. A little lower down, and in full view from his 
bedroom window, was the place where the shooting from the boxes was 
usually done.

The duck is an early bird, and not much given to wandering about in 
the afternoon; hence it was thought not worth while to put out the 
decoys till the next morning.  We would spend the afternoon roaming 
inland in quest of quail, or rabbits, or turkeys (for a brood of 
the last were known to lurk about the woods back there).  It was a 
delightful afternoon's tramp through oak woods, pine barrens, and 
half-wild fields.  We flushed several quail that the dog should 
have pointed, and put a rabbit to rout by a well-directed 
broadside, but brought no game to camp.  We kicked about an old 
bushy clearing, where my friends had shot a wild turkey 
Thanksgiving Day, but the turkey could not be started again.  One 
shooting had sufficed for it.  We crossed or penetrated extensive 
pine woods that had once (perhaps in Washington's time) been 
cultivated fields; the mark of the plow was still clearly visible.  
The land had been thrown into ridges, after the manner of English 
fields, eight or ten feet wide, with a deep dead furrow between 
them for purposes of drainage.  The pines were scrubby,--what are 
known as the loblolly pines,--and from ten to twelve inches through 
at the butt.  In a low bottom, among some red cedars, I saw robins 
and several hermit thrushes, besides the yellow-rumped warbler.

That night, as the sun went down on the one hand, the full moon 
rose up on the other, like the opposite side of an enormous scale.  
The river, too, was presently brimming with the flood tide.    It 
was so still one could have carried a lighted candle from shore to 
shore.  In a little skiff, we floated and paddled up under the 
shadow of Mount Vernon and into the mouth of a large creek that 
flanks it on the left.  In the profound hush of things, every sound 
on either shore was distinctly heard.  A large bed of ducks were 
feeding over on the Maryland side, a mile or more away, and the 
multitudinous sputtering and shuffling of their bills in the water 
sounded deceptively near.  Silently we paddled in that direction.  
When about half a mile from them, all sound of feeding suddenly 
ceased; then, after a time, as we kept on, there was a great clamor 
of wings, and the whole bed appeared to take flight.  We paused and 
listened, and presently heard them take to the water again, far 
below and beyond us.  We loaded a boat with the decoys that night, 
and in the morning, on the first sign of day, towed a box out in 
position, and anchored it, and disposed the decoys about it.  Two 
hundred painted wooden ducks, each anchored by a small weight that 
was attached by a cord to the breast, bowed and sidled and rode the 
water, and did everything but feed, in a bed many yards long.  The 
shooting-box is a kind of coffin, in which the gunner is interred 
amid the decoys,--buried below the surface of the water, and 
invisible, except from a point above him.  The box has broad canvas 
wings, that unfold and spread out upon the surface of the water, 
four or five feet each way.  These steady it, and keep the ripples 
from running in when there is a breeze.  Iron decoys sit upon these 
wings and upon the edge of the box, and sink it to the required 
level, so that, when everything is completed and the gunner is in 
position, from a distance or from the shore one sees only a large 
bed of ducks, with the line a little more pronounced in the centre, 
where the sportsman lies entombed, to be quickly resurrected when 
the game appears.  He lies there stark and stiff upon his back, 
like a marble effigy upon a tomb, his gun by his side, with barely 
room to straighten himself in, and nothing to look at but the sky 
above him. His companions on shore keep a lookout,  and, when ducks 
are seen on the wing, cry out, "Mark, coming up," or "Mark, coming 
down," or, "Mark, coming in," as the case may be.  If they decoy, 
the gunner presently hears the whistle of their wings, or maybe he 
catches a glimpse of them over the rim of the box as they circle 
about.  Just as they let down their feet to alight, he is expected 
to spring up and pour his broadside into them.  A boat from shore 
comes and picks up the game, if there is any to pick up.

The club-man, by common consent, was the first in the box that 
morning;   but only a few ducks were moving, and he had lain there 
an hour before we marked a solitary bird approaching, and, after 
circling over the decoys, alighting a little beyond them.  The 
sportsman sprang up as from the bed of the river, and the duck 
sprang up at the same time, and got away under fire.  After a while 
my other companion went out; but the ducks passed by on the other 
side, and he had no shots.  In the afternoon, remembering the 
robins, and that robins are game when one's larder is low, I set 
out alone for the pine bottoms, a mile or more distant.  When one 
is loaded for robins, he may expect to see turkeys, and VICE VERSA.  
As I was walking carelessly on the borders of an old brambly field 
that stretched a long distance beside the pine woods, I heard a 
noise in front of me, and, on looking in that direction, saw a 
veritable turkey, with a spread tail, leaping along at a rapid 
rate.  She was so completely the image of the barnyard fowl that I 
was slow to realize that here was the most notable game of that 
part of Virginia, for the sight of which sportsmen's eyes do water.  
As she was fairly on the wing, I sent my robin-shot after her;  but 
they made no impression, and I stood and watched with great 
interest her long, level flight.  As she neared the end of the 
clearing, she set her wings and sailed straight into the corner of 
the woods.  I found no robins, but went back satisfied with having 
seen the turkey, and having had an experience that I knew would 
stir up the envy and the disgust of my companions.  They listened 
with ill-concealed impatience, stamped the ground a few times, 
uttered a vehement protest against the caprice of fortune that 
always puts the game in the wrong place or the gun in the wrong 
hands, and rushed off in quest of that turkey.  She was not where 
they looked, of course;   and, on their return about sundown, when 
they had ceased to think about their game, she flew out of the top 
of a pine-tree not thirty rods from camp, and in full view of them, 
but too far off for a shot.

In my wanderings that afternoon, I came upon two negro shanties in 
a small triangular clearing in the woods; no road but only a 
footpath led to them.  Three or four children, the eldest a girl of 
twelve, were about the door of one of them.  I approached and asked 
for a drink of water. The girl got a glass and showed me to the 
spring near by.

"We's  grandmover's  daughter's   chilern,"   she said, in reply to 
my inquiry.  Their mother worked in Washington for "eighteen cents 
a month," and their grandmother took care of them.

Then I thought I would pump her about the natural history of the 

"What was there in these woods,--what kind of animals,--any? "

"Oh, yes, sah, when we first come here to live in dese bottoms de 
possums and foxes and things were so thick you could hardly go out-
o'-doors."  A fox had come along one day right where her mother was 
washing, and they used to catch the chickens "dreadful."

"Were there any snakes?"

"Yes, sah; black snakes, moccasins, and doctors."

The doctor, she said, was a powerful ugly customer; it would get 
right hold of your leg as you were passing along, and whip and 
sting you to death.  I hoped I should not meet any "doctors."

I asked her if they caught any rabbits.

"Oh, yes, we catches dem in 'gums.' "

"What are gums?" I asked.

"See dat down dare?  Dat's a 'gum.' "

I saw a rude box-trap made of rough boards.  It seems these traps, 
and many other things, such as beehives, and tubs, etc., are 
frequently made in the South from a hollow gum-tree; hence the name 
gum has come to have a wide application.

The ducks flew quite briskly that night; I could hear the whistle 
of their wings as I stood upon the shore indulging myself in 
listening.  The ear loves a good field as well as the eye, and the 
night is the best time to listen, to put your ear to Nature's 
keyhole and see what the whisperings and the preparations mean.

 "Dark night, that from the eye his 
       function takes,
   The ear more quick of apprehension 

says Shakespeare.  I overheard some muskrats engaged in a very 
gentle and affectionate jabber beneath a rude pier of brush and 
earth upon which I was standing.  The old, old story was evidently 
being rehearsed under there, but the occasional splashing of the 
ice-cold water made it seem like very chilling business; still we 
all know it is not.  Our decoys had not been brought in, and I 
distinctly heard some ducks splash in among them.  The sound of 
oar-locks in the distance next caught my ears.  They were so far 
away that it took some time to decide whether or not they were 
approaching.    But they finally grew more distinct,--the steady, 
measured beat of an oar in a wooden lock, a very pleasing sound 
coming over still, moonlit waters.  It was an hour before the boat 
emerged into view and passed my post.  A white, misty obscurity 
began to gather over the waters, and in the morning this had grown 
to be a dense fog.  By early dawn one of my friends was again in 
the box, and presently his gun went bang! bang! then bang! came 
again from the second gun he had taken with him, and we imagined 
the water strewn with ducks.  But he reported only one.  It floated 
to him and was picked up, so we need not go out.  In the dimness 
and silence we rowed up and down the shore in hopes of starting up 
a stray duck that might possibly decoy.  We saw many objects that 
simulated ducks pretty well through the obscurity, but they failed 
to take wing on our approach.  The most pleasing thing we saw was a 
large, rude boat, propelled by four colored oarsmen.  It looked as 
if it might have come out of some old picture.  Two oarsmen were 
seated in the bows, pulling, and two stood up in the stern, facing 
their companions, each working a long oar, bending and recovering 
and uttering a low, wild chant.  The spectacle emerged from the fog 
on the one hand and plunged into it on the other.

Later in the morning, we were attracted by another craft. We heard 
it coming down upon us long before it emerged into view.  It made a 
sound as of some unwieldy creature slowly pawing the water, and 
when it became visible through the fog the sight did not belie the 
ear.  We beheld an awkward black hulk that looked as if it might 
have been made out of the bones of the first steamboat, or was it 
some Virginia colored man's study of that craft?  Its wheels 
consisted each of two timbers crossing each other at right angles. 
As the shaft slowly turned, these timbers pawed and pawed the 
water.  It hove to on the flats near our quarters, and a colored 
man came off in a boat.  To our inquiry, he said with a grin that 
his craft was a "floating saw-mill."

After a while I took my turn in the box, and, with a life-preserver 
for a pillow, lay there on my back, pressed down between the narrow 
sides, the muzzle of my gun resting upon my toe and its stock upon 
my stomach, waiting for the silly ducks to come.  I was rather in 
hopes they would not come, for I felt pretty certain that I could 
not get up promptly in such narrow quarters and deliver my shot 
with any precision.  As nothing could be seen, and as it was very 
still, it was a good time to listen again.  I was virtually under 
water, and in a good medium for the transmission of sounds.  The 
barking of dogs on the Maryland shore was quite audible, and I 
heard with great distinctness a Maryland lass call some one to 
breakfast.  They were astir up at Mount Vernon, too, though the fog 
hid them from view.  I heard the mocking or Carolina wren 
alongshore calling quite plainly the words a Georgetown poet has 
put in his mouth,--"Sweetheart, sweetheart, sweet!"   Presently I 
heard the whistle of approaching wings, and a solitary duck 
alighted back of me over my right shoulder,--just the most awkward 
position for me she could have assumed.  I raised my head a little, 
and skimmed the water with my eye.  The duck was swimming about 
just beyond the decoys, apparently apprehensive that she was 
intruding upon the society of her betters.  She would approach a 
little, and then, as the stiff, aristocratic decoys made no sign of 
welcome or recognition, she would sidle off again.  "Who are they, 
that they should hold themselves so loftily and never condescend to 
notice a forlorn duck?" I imagined her saying.  Should I spring up 
and show my hand and demand her surrender?  It was clearly my duty 
to do so. I wondered if the boys were looking from shore, for the 
fog had lifted a little. But I must act, or the duck would be off.  
I began to turn slowly in my sepulchre and to gather up my benumbed 
limbs; I then made a rush and got up, and had a fairly good shot as 
the duck flew across my bows, but I failed to stop her.  A man in 
the woods in the line of my shot cried out angrily, "Stop shooting 
this way!"

I lay down again and faced the sun, that had now burned its way 
through the fog, till I was nearly blind, but no more ducks 
decoyed, and I called out to be relieved.

With our one duck, but with many pleasant remembrances, we returned 
to Washington that afternoon.


ABUTILON, or velvet-leaf.


Alder, white.

Amaranth, 215.

Arbutus, trailing, or mayflower.



Arnold, George.



Azalea, pink, or pinxter-flower.

Azalea, smooth.

Azalea, white.

Azalea, yellow.

Ball, an inexpensive.


Baxter's Brook.

Bay, sweet.

Bear, black, attacked with a club.


Beattie, James, quotation from.

Beaver, 173.

Bee.  See Bumblebee, Honey-bee, and Sweat-bee.

Bee, solitary.



Bidens, or two-teeth, or pitchforks.

Big Beaver Kill.

Big Mountain.

Bindweed, black.

Birch, yellow.

Birds, singing at night; morning awakening of; individuality in the 
songs of; in poetry; process of hatching; leaving the nest; arrival 
in spring; love-making among; war among; their departure in the 
fall; a good season for; songs of, in America and in England.

Birds of prey, their flight when laden.

Blackbird, cow, or cowbird (MOLOTHRUS ATER).

Blackbird, crow, or purple grackle (QUISCALUS QUISCULA).

Blackbird, European, in poetry; his resemblance to the American 
robin; notes of.

Blackbird, red-winged.  See Starling, red-shouldered. 

Blackbird, rusty.  See Grackle, rusty.

Bladderwort, horned.

Bluebird (SIALIA SIALIS), in poetry; notes of; nest of.

Blue-weed, or viper's bugloss; travels of; description of.

Boat, a picturesque.

Bobolink (DOLICHONYX ORYZIVORUS; as a wooer; notes of.

Bob-white.  See Quail.

Bouncing Bet, or saponaria.


Bryant, William Cullen; as a poet of nature; quotations from.

Buckwheat, wild.


Bugloss, viper's.  See Blue-weed. 


Bumblebee; nest of.

Bunting, English.

Bunting, indigo.  See Indigo-bird. 

Bunting, snow, or snowflake (PASSERINA NIVALIS).


Burns, Robert, quotation from. 

Butt End.


Caledonia springs.


Camping; in the rain.

Campion, bladder.

Cardinal (CARDINALIS CARDINALIS); notes of.

Cardinal flower.  See Lobelia, scarlet.

Carrot, wild.

Catbird (GALEOSCOPTES CAROLINENSIS), in poetry; notes of.


Catskill Mountains.

Cattle, crossing a river; as eaters of weeds.

Cedar-bird, or cedar waxwing (AMPELIS CEDRORUM.



Chickadee (PARUS ATRICAPILLUS); nest of.

Chickweed; at the antipodes.

Chicory, or succory; in poetry.


Chippie.  See Sparrow.


Cicada, or harvest-fly. 

Claytonia, or spring beauty.

Clematis, wild.

Clouds, boat-shaped.


Clover, white.

Cochecton Falls.



Coleridge, Samuel Taylor, quotation from.


Coltsfoot, sweet.


Companions, outdoor.


Coon.  See Raccoon.


Corn, Indian.

Cowbird.  See Blackbird, cow.

Cows.  See Cattle.

Cowslip.  See Marigold, marsh.

Cowslip, English.

Creeper, brown (CERTHIA FAMILIARIS AMERICANA), nest of.

Crickets.  See Tree-crickets.

Crow American (CORVUS BRACHYRHYNCHOS), gait of; notes of.

Cuckoo (COCCYZUS sp.), heard at night; habits of; in poetry; notes 

Cuckoo, European.




Cypripedium. See Lady's-slipper.


Daisy, English.

Daisy, ox-eye.



Day, a white.


Delaware River, Pepacton branch of.  See Pepacton River.



Dicentra, or squirrel corn.

Dock, curled-leaf.

Dock, yellow.

Doctor, the (a snake).

Dog, Cuff and the woodchucks.  See Greyhound and Hound.

Dog, farm, hound and. 


Dove, mourning (ZENAIDURA MACROURA).



Dry Brook.

Ducks, feeding.

Duck-shooting on the Potomac.

Eagle, chased by a kingbird; flight of an.

East Branch.


Emerson, Ralph Waldo, quotations from; his knowledge of nature.

England, bird-songs in; pedestrianism in; the footpaths of; the 
highways of.


Eupatorium, purple.

Falcon, haggard.

Finch, purple (CARPODACUS PURPUREUS; notes of.

Fisherman, an ancient.

Fishes, spring movements of.

Fleabane, or whiteweed.

Flicker.  See High-hole.

Flowers, wild, in poetry; fragrant.

Footpaths, lack of, in America; English; a schoolboy's footpath.

Forenoon, as distinguished from morning.

Fort Washington.

Fox, red, and hound,; hunting a; favorite sleeping places of; hard 
fare in winter; an encounter between rivals.

Fringed-orchis, purple.

Frog.  See Bullfrog.

Frog, clucking.  See Wood-frog.

Frog, peeping. See Hyla, Pickering's.


Gentian, closed.

Gentian,  fringed, 63; Bryant's poem on.





Goldfinch, American (ASTRAGALINUS TRISTIS; pairing habits of; notes 


Grackle, purple.  See Blackbird, crow.

Grackle, rusty, or rusty blackbird (EUPHAGUS CAROLINUS), notes of.

Grass, the natural covering of the fields.

Grass, harvest.

Grass, quack.

Grass, quitch.

Green Cove Spring.



Grouse, ruffed, or partridge (BONASA UMBELLUS), in poetry; drumming 





Hare, northern.


Harrisonburg, Va.


Harvest-fly.  See Cicada.

Hawk, in poetry, 116.  See Hen-hawk.

Hawkfish.  See Osprey, American.

Hawk's Point.



Hemlock, poison.



Hepatica, or liver-leaf; the first spring flower; an intermittently 
fragrant flower.



Heron, great  blue (ARDEA HERODIAS; notes of, 24, 28.

High-hole, or golden-winged woodpecker, or flicker (COLAPTES 
AURATUS LUTEUS; notes of; nest of.

Highlands of the Hudson, the.


Honey, flowers which yield.

Honey-bee, a product of civilization; wandering habits of; hunting 
wild bees; method of handling; as robbers; enemies of; Virgil on.


Hooker, Sir Joseph.


Hornet, black.

Hornet, sand.

Hound, fox and.


Housatonic River.

Houstonia, or innocence.

Humble-bee.  See Bumblebee.

Humming-bird, ruby-throated (TROCHILUS COLUBRIS), in poetry; nest 

Hunt, Helen, quotation from.

Hyacinth, wild.

Hyla, Pickering's, or peeping frog; arboreal life of.

Hylas, the story of.

Indigo-bird or indigo bunting (CYANOSPIZA CYANEA; notes of.

Innocence. See Houstonia.

Insects, nocturnal.



Ivy, poison.

Jack, catching.

Jay, blue (CYANOCITTA CRISTATA; notes of.


Junco, slate-colored.  See Snowbird.


Kingbird (TYRANNUS TYRANNUS), chasing an eagle; as a bee-eater; 
notes of.

Kingfisher, belted (CERYLE ALCYON.

Knapp, Hon. Charles.


Lady's-slipper, large yellow.

Lady's-slipper, purple.

Lady's-slipper, small yellow. 

Lady's tresses.

Lake Oquaga.



Lark.  See Skylark. 

Lark, shore or horned (OTOCORIS ALPESTRIS and O. A. PRATICOLA) and 


Laurel, mountain.


Lettuce, wild, 230, inden.



Liver-leaf.  See Hepatica.

Lobelia, great blue.

Lobelia, scarlet, or cardinal flower.


Longfellow,  Henry  Wadsworth, his inaccuracy in dealing with 
nature; quotations from.


Loosestrife, hairy.

Loosestrife, spiked, travels of; description of.

Lowell, James Russell, quotations from; his fidelity to nature.



Maple, sugar; fragrance of its blossoms.

Marigold, marsh.

Martin, purple (PROGNE SUBIS).

Masque of the Poets, A, quotation from.

Mayflower.  See Arbutus, trailing.


Meadowlark (STURNELLA MAGNA); notes of.

Merganser, hooded (LOPHODYTES CUCULLATUS), with a brood of young.




Mitchella vine, or squaw-berry, or partridge-berry.


Mockingbird (MIMUS POLYGLOTTOS), in poetry.

Morning and forenoon, distinction between.


Mount Vernon.

Mouse, field.

Mouse, white-footed, 169; tracks of.

Mullein; habits of.

Mullein, moth.

Mullein, white.

Musconetcong Creek.

Muskrat; a weatherwise animal; active in winter; nests of.

Mustard, wild.

Nature, the poets' intuitive knowledge of; Emerson's knowledge of; 
Bryant's knowledge of; Longfellow's inaccuracy in dealing with; 
Whittier's treatment of; Lowell's fidelity to Tennyson's accurate 
observations of; Walt Whitman a close student of; the poetic 
interpretation of; the scientific interpretation of.

Negro girl, a conversation with a.


Nettle, blind.

Nettle, hemp.



Note in the woods, a new.

Oak, white.

Onion, wild.


Orchids, American flora rich in.

Orchis, fringed.  See Fringed-orchis.

Orchis, showy.

Oriole, Baltimore (ICTERUS GALBULA); as a fruit-destroyer; notes 
of; nest of.

Orpine, garden. See Live-forever.

Orpines, native.

Osprey, American, or fish hawk (PANDION HALIAËTUS CAROLINENSIS), 
feeding on the wing.


Oven-bird (SEIURUS AUROCAPILLUS); song of.

Owl, screech (MEGASCOPS ASIO), and shrike.


Pain, in relation to the nervous system.

Parsnip, wild.

Partridge.  See Grouse, ruffed. 

Partridge-berry.  See Mitchella vine.

Partridge Island.

Pepacton River; a voyage down.

Pewee, wood (CONTOPUS VIRENS), Trowbridge's poem on.

Phœbe-bird (SAYORNIS PHŒBE); notes of; nest of.




Pine, loblolly, 247.

Pinxter-flower.  See Azalea, pink.

Pipit, American.  See Titlark.

Pitchforks.  See Biclens.


Plantain, narrow-leaved.

Pliny, his account of an intermittent spring.

Poets, their intuitive knowledge of nature; inaccuracies and 
felicities in matters of natural history; their interpretation of 

Pogonia, adder's-tongue.


Polygala, fringed.

Pond-lily, or sweet-scented water lily.

Pond-lily, yellow.

Poppy, scarlet field.

Porcupine, Canadian.

Potomac River, duck-shooting on.

Primrose, in poetry.

Primrose, evening.

Prince's pine.


Pyrola.  See Wintergreen, false.

Quail, or bob-white (COLINUS VIRGINIANUS.

Rabbit, gray.


Raccoon, or coon.

Radish, wild.

Rafting on the Delaware.

Ragweed; a troublesome weed.

Rain, arboreal; summer.


Rat, wood.

Redbird.  See Cardinal.

Redpoll (ACANTHIS LINARIA), notes; of.



River, a voyage down a; loneliness of the.

Roads, in England and America.

Robin, American (MERULA MIGRATORIA); in poetry; in love and war; 
notes of; nest of.

Rondout Creek.

Roots, like molten metal.

St. John's-wort. 

Salamander, banded.

Salamander, red. 

Salamander, violet-colored or spotted.

San Antonio, Texas.

Saponaria.  See Bouncing Bet. 

Sapsucker, yellow-bellied.  See-Woodpecker, yellow-bellied.

Sawmill, a floating.

Scott, Sir Walter.





Shakespeare, quotations from; his accuracy in observation.


Shawangunk Mountains.

Shepherd's purse.





Skylark; on the Hudson; song of.



Snake, black.

Snow, a landscape  of; in the woods.

Snowbird, slate-colored, or slate-colored junco (JUNCO HYEMALIS), 
in poetry; notes of.

Snowflake.  See Bunting, snow.


Sorrel, sheep.

Sparrow, bush or Held (SPIZELLA PUSILLA.

Sparrow, English (PASSER DOMESTICUS), manner of courtship.

Sparrow, social or chipping, or "chippie" (SPIZELLA SOCIALIS).

Sparrow, song (MELOSPIZA CINEREA MELODIA); notes of.

Sparrow, vesper (POŒCETES GRAMINEUS), rejecting the attentions of a 

Specularia, clasping.

Spider, killing a bee; a musical.

Spring, sudden coming of,  160-168.

Spring beauty.  See Claytonia.

Springs, paths leading to; their universal  attractiveness; centres 
of greenness; symbolism of; locations of;  fondness of trout for; 
physiology of; their mineral elements; large; as refrigerators; 
countries poor in; on mountains; places of worship; various kinds 
of; marvelous; intermittent; in the Idyls of Theocritus.

Squaw-berry.  See Mitchella vine.

Squirrel, flying.

Squirrel, gray.

Squirrel, Mexican black.

Squirrel, red.

Squirrel corn.  See Dicentra.

Squirrels, as parachutes.

Star, shooting.

Starling, red-shouldered, or red winged blackbird, notes of.

Stedman, Edmund Clarence, his SEEKING THE MAYFLOWER.

Stevenson, Robert Louis, his TRAVELS WITH A DONKEY.


Stones, life under.


Strawberries, wild.

Succory.  See Chicory. 


Swallow, bank (RIPARIA RIPARIA).

Swallow, barn (HIRUNDO ERYTHROGASTRA); nest of.

Swallow, chimney, or chimney swift (CHÆTURA PELAGICA), nest of.

Swallow, cliff (PETROCHELIDON LUNIFRONS), in poetry; nest of.

Swallow, European.

Swallows, in poetry.


Tails, uses of.


Tare.  See Vetch.


Tennyson, Alfred, quotations from; a good observer.

Theocritus, quotation from.

Thistle, Canada.

Thistle, common.

Thistle, pasture.

Thistle, swamp.

Thomson, James, quotation from. 

Thrasher, brown (TOXOSTOMA RUFUM), song of.

Thrush, hermit (HYLOCICHLA GUTTATA PALLASII), in poetry; notes of.

Thrush, wood (HYLOCICHLA MUSTELINA), notes of.

Titlark, or American pipit (ANTHUS PENSILVANICUS).

Toad.  See Tree-toad.




Towhee.  See Chewink.



Trout, brook, their fondness for springs; caught with tickling. 


Trowbridge, John T., his natural history; quotations from. 




Twin-flower.  See Linnæa.

Two-teeth.  See Bidens.

Velvet-leaf.  See Abutilon.

Venus's looking-glass.


Vetch, or tare.

Violet, in poetry.

Violet, Canada; its fragrance.

Violet, common blue.

Violet, English.

Violet, white.

Violet, yellow.

Vireo, in poetry.

Virgil, on honey-bees; quotations from.

Walking, in England; a simple and natural pastime.

Warbler, yellow-rumped, or myrtle (DENDROICA CORONATA).

Wasp, sand.  See Hornet, sand.

Water-lily.  See Pond-lily.

Waxwing, cedar.  See Cedar-bird.


Weebutook River.

Weeds; their devotion to man; the gardener and the farmer the best 
friends of; Nature's makeshift; great travelers; their abundance in 
America; native and foreign; the growth of; escaped from 
cultivation; beautiful; uses of various; less persistent and 
universal than grass; virtues of.

Well of St. Winifred.

Wheat, winter.

Whip-poor-will (ANTROSTOMUS VOCIFERUS), song of.

Whiteweed.  See Fleabane.

Whitman, Walt, a close student of American nature; quotations from.

Whittier, John Greenleaf, as a poet of nature; quotations from.

Winchester, Va.

Wintergreen, false, or pyrola.

Wintergreen, spotted.

Witch-hazel, 101.



Woodpecker, in poetry.


Woodpecker, golden-winged.  See High-hole.

Woodpecker, yellow-bellied, or yellow-bellied sapsucker 


Wood-sorrel, common.

Wood-sorrel, yellow.

Wordsworth, William, quotations from.

Wren, Carolina (THRYOTHORUS LUDOVICIANUS), notes of.

Wren, house (TROGLODYTES AËDON), notes of; nest of.



Yew, American.


This file should be named pepac10.txt or
Corrected EDITIONS of our eBooks get a new NUMBER, pepac11.txt
VERSIONS based on separate sources get new LETTER, pepac10a.txt

Project Gutenberg eBooks are often created from several printed
editions, all of which are confirmed as Public Domain in the US
unless a copyright notice is included.  Thus, we usually do not
keep eBooks in compliance with any particular paper edition.

We are now trying to release all our eBooks one year in advance
of the official release dates, leaving time for better editing.
Please be encouraged to tell us about any error or corrections,
even years after the official publication date.

Please note neither this listing nor its contents are final til
midnight of the last day of the month of any such announcement.
The official release date of all Project Gutenberg eBooks is at
Midnight, Central Time, of the last day of the stated month.  A
preliminary version may often be posted for suggestion, comment
and editing by those who wish to do so.

Most people start at our Web sites at: or

These Web sites include award-winning information about Project
Gutenberg, including how to donate, how to help produce our new
eBooks, and how to subscribe to our email newsletter (free!).

Those of you who want to download any eBook before announcement
can get to them as follows, and just download by date.  This is
also a good way to get them instantly upon announcement, as the
indexes our cataloguers produce obviously take a while after an
announcement goes out in the Project Gutenberg Newsletter. or

Or /etext03, 02, 01, 00, 99, 98, 97, 96, 95, 94, 93, 92, 92, 91 or 90

Just search by the first five letters of the filename you want,
as it appears in our Newsletters.

Information about Project Gutenberg (one page)

We produce about two million dollars for each hour we work.  The
time it takes us, a rather conservative estimate, is fifty hours
to get any eBook selected, entered, proofread, edited, copyright
searched and analyzed, the copyright letters written, etc.   Our
projected audience is one hundred million readers.  If the value
per text is nominally estimated at one dollar then we produce $2
million dollars per hour in 2002 as we release over 100 new text
files per month:  1240 more eBooks in 2001 for a total of 4000+
We are already on our way to trying for 2000 more eBooks in 2002
If they reach just 1-2% of the world's population then the total
will reach over half a trillion eBooks given away by year's end.

The Goal of Project Gutenberg is to Give Away 1 Trillion eBooks!
This is ten thousand titles each to one hundred million readers,
which is only about 4% of the present number of computer users.

Here is the briefest record of our progress (* means estimated):

eBooks Year Month

    1  1971 July
   10  1991 January
  100  1994 January
 1000  1997 August
 1500  1998 October
 2000  1999 December
 2500  2000 December
 3000  2001 November
 4000  2001 October/November
 6000  2002 December*
 9000  2003 November*
10000  2004 January*

The Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation has been created
to secure a future for Project Gutenberg into the next millennium.

We need your donations more than ever!

As of February, 2002, contributions are being solicited from people
and organizations in: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut,
Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois,
Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts,
Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New
Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio,
Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South
Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West
Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

We have filed in all 50 states now, but these are the only ones
that have responded.

As the requirements for other states are met, additions to this list
will be made and fund raising will begin in the additional states.
Please feel free to ask to check the status of your state.

In answer to various questions we have received on this:

We are constantly working on finishing the paperwork to legally
request donations in all 50 states.  If your state is not listed and
you would like to know if we have added it since the list you have,
just ask.

While we cannot solicit donations from people in states where we are
not yet registered, we know of no prohibition against accepting
donations from donors in these states who approach us with an offer to

International donations are accepted, but we don't know ANYTHING about
how to make them tax-deductible, or even if they CAN be made
deductible, and don't have the staff to handle it even if there are

Donations by check or money order may be sent to:

 809 North 1500 West
 Salt Lake City, UT 84116

Contact us if you want to arrange for a wire transfer or payment
method other than by check or money order.

The Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation has been approved by
the US Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)(3) organization with EIN
[Employee Identification Number] 64-622154.  Donations are
tax-deductible to the maximum extent permitted by law.  As fund-raising
requirements for other states are met, additions to this list will be
made and fund-raising will begin in the additional states.

We need your donations more than ever!

You can get up to date donation information online at:


If you can't reach Project Gutenberg,
you can always email directly to:

Michael S. Hart <>

Prof. Hart will answer or forward your message.

We would prefer to send you information by email.

**The Legal Small Print**

(Three Pages)

Why is this "Small Print!" statement here? You know: lawyers.
They tell us you might sue us if there is something wrong with
your copy of this eBook, even if you got it for free from
someone other than us, and even if what's wrong is not our
fault. So, among other things, this "Small Print!" statement
disclaims most of our liability to you. It also tells you how
you may distribute copies of this eBook if you want to.

By using or reading any part of this PROJECT GUTENBERG-tm
eBook, you indicate that you understand, agree to and accept
this "Small Print!" statement. If you do not, you can receive
a refund of the money (if any) you paid for this eBook by
sending a request within 30 days of receiving it to the person
you got it from. If you received this eBook on a physical
medium (such as a disk), you must return it with your request.

This PROJECT GUTENBERG-tm eBook, like most PROJECT GUTENBERG-tm eBooks,
is a "public domain" work distributed by Professor Michael S. Hart
through the Project Gutenberg Association (the "Project").
Among other things, this means that no one owns a United States copyright
on or for this work, so the Project (and you!) can copy and
distribute it in the United States without permission and
without paying copyright royalties. Special rules, set forth
below, apply if you wish to copy and distribute this eBook
under the "PROJECT GUTENBERG" trademark.

Please do not use the "PROJECT GUTENBERG" trademark to market
any commercial products without permission.

To create these eBooks, the Project expends considerable
efforts to identify, transcribe and proofread public domain
works. Despite these efforts, the Project's eBooks and any
medium they may be on may contain "Defects". Among other
things, Defects may take the form of incomplete, inaccurate or
corrupt data, transcription errors, a copyright or other
intellectual property infringement, a defective or damaged
disk or other eBook medium, a computer virus, or computer
codes that damage or cannot be read by your equipment.

But for the "Right of Replacement or Refund" described below,
[1] Michael Hart and the Foundation (and any other party you may
receive this eBook from as a PROJECT GUTENBERG-tm eBook) disclaims
all liability to you for damages, costs and expenses, including

If you discover a Defect in this eBook within 90 days of
receiving it, you can receive a refund of the money (if any)
you paid for it by sending an explanatory note within that
time to the person you received it from. If you received it
on a physical medium, you must return it with your note, and
such person may choose to alternatively give you a replacement
copy. If you received it electronically, such person may
choose to alternatively give you a second opportunity to
receive it electronically.


Some states do not allow disclaimers of implied warranties or
the exclusion or limitation of consequential damages, so the
above disclaimers and exclusions may not apply to you, and you
may have other legal rights.

You will indemnify and hold Michael Hart, the Foundation,
and its trustees and agents, and any volunteers associated
with the production and distribution of Project Gutenberg-tm
texts harmless, from all liability, cost and expense, including
legal fees, that arise directly or indirectly from any of the
following that you do or cause:  [1] distribution of this eBook,
[2] alteration, modification, or addition to the eBook,
or [3] any Defect.

You may distribute copies of this eBook electronically, or by
disk, book or any other medium if you either delete this
"Small Print!" and all other references to Project Gutenberg,

[1]  Only give exact copies of it.  Among other things, this
     requires that you do not remove, alter or modify the
     eBook or this "small print!" statement.  You may however,
     if you wish, distribute this eBook in machine readable
     binary, compressed, mark-up, or proprietary form,
     including any form resulting from conversion by word
     processing or hypertext software, but only so long as

     [*]  The eBook, when displayed, is clearly readable, and
          does *not* contain characters other than those
          intended by the author of the work, although tilde
          (~), asterisk (*) and underline (_) characters may
          be used to convey punctuation intended by the
          author, and additional characters may be used to
          indicate hypertext links; OR

     [*]  The eBook may be readily converted by the reader at
          no expense into plain ASCII, EBCDIC or equivalent
          form by the program that displays the eBook (as is
          the case, for instance, with most word processors);

     [*]  You provide, or agree to also provide on request at
          no additional cost, fee or expense, a copy of the
          eBook in its original plain ASCII form (or in EBCDIC
          or other equivalent proprietary form).

[2]  Honor the eBook refund and replacement provisions of this
     "Small Print!" statement.

[3]  Pay a trademark license fee to the Foundation of 20% of the
     gross profits you derive calculated using the method you
     already use to calculate your applicable taxes.  If you
     don't derive profits, no royalty is due.  Royalties are
     payable to "Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation"
     the 60 days following each date you prepare (or were
     legally required to prepare) your annual (or equivalent
     periodic) tax return.  Please contact us beforehand to
     let us know your plans and to work out the details.

Project Gutenberg is dedicated to increasing the number of
public domain and licensed works that can be freely distributed
in machine readable form.

The Project gratefully accepts contributions of money, time,
public domain materials, or royalty free copyright licenses.
Money should be paid to the:
"Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation."

If you are interested in contributing scanning equipment or
software or other items, please contact Michael Hart at:

[Portions of this eBook's header and trailer may be reprinted only
when distributed free of all fees.  Copyright (C) 2001, 2002 by
Michael S. Hart.  Project Gutenberg is a TradeMark and may not be
used in any sales of Project Gutenberg eBooks or other materials be
they hardware or software or any other related product without
express permission.]



This file was acquired from Project Gutenberg, and it is in the public domain. It is re-distributed here as a part of the Alex Catalogue of Electronic Texts ( by Eric Lease Morgan (Infomotions, Inc.) for the purpose of freely sharing, distributing, and making available works of great literature. Its Infomotions unique identifier is etext7441, and it should be available from the following URL:

Infomotions, Inc.

Infomotions Man says, "Give back to the 'Net."