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The Life of the Fields   By: (1848-1887)

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This eBook was produced by Malcolm Farmer.

THE LIFE OF THE FIELDS

BY RICHARD JEFFERIES

My thanks are due to those editors who have so kindly permitted me to reprint the following pages: "The Field Play" appeared in Time ; "Bits of Oak Bark" and "The Pageant of Summer" in Longman's Magazine ; "Meadow Thoughts" and "Mind under Water" in The Graphic ; "Clematis Lane," "Nature near Brighton," "Sea, Sky, and Down," "January in the Sussex Woods," and "By the Exe" in The Standard ; "Notes on Landscape Painting," in The Magazine of Art ; "Village Miners," in The Gentleman's Magazine ; "Nature and the Gamekeeper," "The Sacrifice to Trout," "The Hovering of the Kestrel," and "Birds Climbing the Air," in The St. James's Gazette ; "Sport and Science," in The National Review ; "The Water Colley," in The Manchester Guardian ; "Country Literature," "Sunlight in a London Square," "Venice in the East End," "The Pigeons at the British Museum," and "The Plainest City in Europe," in The Pall Mall Gazette .

RICHARD JEFFERIES

CONTENTS

THE PAGEANT OF SUMMER

THE FIELD PLAY: I. UPTILL A THORN II. RURAL DYNAMITE

BITS OF OAK BARK: I. THE ACORN GATHERER II. THE LEGEND OF A GATEWAY III. A ROMAN BROOK

MEADOW THOUGHTS

CLEMATIS LANE

NATURE NEAR BRIGHTON

SEA, SKY, AND DOWN

JANUARY IN THE SUSSEX WOODS

BY THE EXE

THE WATER COLLEY

NOTES ON LANDSCAPE PAINTING

VILLAGE MINERS

MIND UNDER WATER

SPORT AND SCIENCE

NATURE AND THE GAMEKEEPER

THE SACRIFICE TO TROUT

THE HOVERING OF THE KESTREL

BIRDS CLIMBING THE AIR

COUNTRY LITERATURE: I. THE AWAKENING. II. SCARCITY OF BOOKS III. THE VILLAGER'S TASTE IN READING IV. PLAN OF DISTRIBUTION

SUNLIGHT IN A LONDON SQUARE

VENICE IN THE EAST END.

THE PIGEONS AT THE BRITISH MUSEUM

THE PLAINEST CITY IN EUROPE

THE PAGEANT OF SUMMER

I

Green rushes, long and thick, standing up above the edge of the ditch, told the hour of the year as distinctly as the shadow on the dial the hour of the day. Green and thick and sappy to the touch, they felt like summer, soft and elastic, as if full of life, mere rushes though they were. On the fingers they left a green scent; rushes have a separate scent of green, so, too, have ferns, very different to that of grass or leaves. Rising from brown sheaths, the tall stems enlarged a little in the middle, like classical columns, and heavy with their sap and freshness, leaned against the hawthorn sprays. From the earth they had drawn its moisture, and made the ditch dry; some of the sweetness of the air had entered into their fibres, and the rushes the common rushes were full of beautiful summer. The white pollen of early grasses growing on the edge was dusted from them each time the hawthorn boughs were shaken by a thrush. These lower sprays came down in among the grass, and leaves and grass blades touched. Smooth round stems of angelica, big as a gun barrel, hollow and strong, stood on the slope of the mound, their tiers of well balanced branches rising like those of a tree. Such a sturdy growth pushed back the ranks of hedge parsley in full white flower, which blocked every avenue and winding bird's path of the bank. But the "gix," or wild parsnip, reached already high above both, and would rear its fluted stalk, joint on joint, till it could face a man. Trees they were to the lesser birds, not even bending if perched on; but though so stout, the birds did not place their nests on or against them. Something in the odour of these umbelliferous plants, perhaps, is not quite liked; if brushed or bruised they give out a bitter greenish scent. Under their cover, well shaded and hidden, birds build, but not against or on the stems, though they will affix their nests to much less certain supports. With the grasses that overhung the edge, with the rushes in the ditch itself, and these great plants on the mound, the whole hedge was wrapped and thickened. No cunning of glance could see through it; it would have needed a ladder to help any one look over... Continue reading book >>




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