Fragrance in Literature-Guerndale: An Old Story by Frederic Jesup Stimson

Guerndale: An Old Story (1899)


STILL many minutes Guy lay drowsily, at peace
with the world. The summer day wore on, and
the full sunlight came down into the valley ; the
birds flew low over his head. A dense perfume came
from the crushed grass thick with wild flowers ; the
numberless Alpine insects filled the air with the
beating of their wings. A strange, sweet sound came
to his ears, a low and liquid melody. He listened
dreamily a long time before his curiosity was aroused ;
he was curious a long time before he got up to see
what it was. The melody was well known to him ;
it was an old German song that came to him cool
and sweet, from some wooden instrument, like water
from a wooden pipe.


And so, group after group of snowy pinnacles
turned scarlet, and red, and rosy, and glitter-white ;
and yet the huge chasms yawned below, and the night
brooded in the valleys. At last a sunbeam, glancing
full upon the icy surface of the Matterhorn, fell
down and backward into the long valley like an
arrow from the sun ; and they saw the birth of dawn
below. At first, the deep valleys were shrouded in
a sea of mist ; then, as the sunbeam cleft the cloud,
the gray veil wavered and rose slowly upward. They
felt its chill breath as it rolled by them ; the mists of
the night ascended, like incense, at the rising of the
sun ; and there came the sweet morning smell of the
woods and meadows, and the tinkle of bells and little
rills, far down below.

Guy walked back to look after the horses ; and
when he returned, the two seemed to be getting on
so well together that he did not wish to disturb
them. The windows of the room opened upon a
true oriental patio, walled so high that there was
but a small square of blue sky visible above. The
sides of the house were thick with vines and broad-
leaved plants that threw a green shimmer into the
water of the fountain, plashing in the court-yard.
Here was a basin of clear, cool water, grateful to
one who came from the heat of the open and the
parched roads. In the grass-plots at the corners
grew all manner of fragrant flowers, roses in rich
abundance ; and here Guy threw himself down, lis-
tening to the distant cries of pillage and the tread of
troops, that came scarcely to him through the mas-
sive stone walls which barred him from the street.
Louder sounded the tinkle of the fountain near
him ; and so, thinking of moss-grown pools, and of
cool waters ebbing from lips of stone, or from forest
margins as the little brook used to do in Dale, he
fell asleep.


Then there came long days when it seemed that all
he could do was to lie and drink in the light, and feel
the cool air upon his forehead ; days when he barely
knew that he was alive, before he thought much of
life, or of the world, or what he should do when he
came back to it. Perhaps these were the happiest
It was the dreamy, half-life of convalescence ; he
was just conscious of the color of the hills, of the
fragrance in the air, but was still too weak to think,
too weak even for memory. The white-hooded
woman was always there ; but when she spoke it was
in French, though with some foreign accent, it
seemed ; besides, lie never saw her face, but only her
eyes. And Norton and Bixby, too, were with him by
turns, nearly all the time ; though he rarely cared to
talk much, even with them, and only felt grateful for
their kindness. He would speak when he was stronger.

It seemed years ago, now, that week when they
came down the Danube ; and they had gone into the
cobwebbed cellar with an old monk, and there, from
the midst of the fungus and the dampness, in a vault
like a grave, he had lifted up a jar of wine, and un-
sealed the stone lips, and the wine came pouring out,
cool and bright, like yellow sunlight. Then he had
not thought so much of it, but now he remembered
how the monk had seemed to taste it ! And he
could fancy himself a monk, immured, forgotten,
with all the little that there was of his life behind
him ; and how the wine would bring sweet memories
of long-gone summers, and the fragrance of the vin-
tage time, and the sparkle and the merriment of
life and light, as it gurgled from the cold stone.

Pirate Gold (1896)

A quiet little place the office would have
seemed to us; and yet there was not a sea on
earth, probably, that did not bear its bound-
ing ship sent out from that small office. And
if it was still, in there, it had a cosmopolitan,
aromatic smell; for every strange letter or
foreign sample with which the place was lit-
tered bespoke the business of the bright, blue
world outside. From the street below came
noise enough, and loud voices of sailors and
shipmen in many a foreign tongue. For in
those days we had freedom of the sea and deal-
ings with the world, and had not yet been
taught to cabin all our energies within the
spindle-rooms of cotton-mills. As Mr. James
looked out of the window he saw a full-rigged
ship, whose generous lines and clipper rig be-
spoke the long-voyage liner, warping slowly
up toward the dock, her fair white lower sails,
still wet from the sea, hanging at the yards,
the stiff salt sparkling in the sunlight.

In the car he got some water for his roses,
but dared not smell of them lest their fra-
grance should be diminished. After reaching
Worcester, he had half an hour to wait ; then
the New York train came trundling in. As
the oars rolled by he strained his old eyes to
each window ; the day was hot, and at an
opened one Jamie saw the face of his Mer-
cedes.

One day, some weeks after this, Mr. James
Bowdoin, on coming down to the little office
on the wharf rather later than usual, went up
the stairs, more than ever choky with that
spicy dust that was the mummy -like odor of
departed trade, and divined that the cause
thereof was in the counting-room itself, whence
issued sounds of much bumping and falling,
as if a dozen children were playing leap-frog
on the floor. Jamie McMurtagh was seated
on the stool in the outer den that was called
the bookkeeper's, biting his pen, with even a
sourer face than usual.

Fragrance in Travel Literature-Japan, Madame Chrysantheme by Pierre Loti

Madame Chrysantheme — Complete by Pierre Loti

Nagasaki, as yet unseen, must be at the extremity of this long and peculiar bay. All around us was exquisitely green. The strong sea-breeze had suddenly fallen, and was succeeded by a calm; the atmosphere, now very warm, was laden with the perfume of flowers. In the valley resounded the ceaseless whirr of the cicalas, answering one another from shore to shore; the mountains reechoed with innumerable sounds; the whole country seemed to vibrate like crystal. We passed among myriads of Japanese junks, gliding softly, wafted by imperceptible breezes on the smooth water; their motion could hardly be heard, and their white sails, stretched out on yards, fell languidly in a thousand horizontal folds like window-blinds, their strangely contorted poops, rising up castle-like in the air, reminding one of the towering ships of the Middle Ages. In the midst of the verdure of this wall of mountains, they stood out with a snowy whiteness.

The passing junks, gleaming white against the background of dark foliage, were silently and dexterously manoeuvred by small, yellow, naked men, with long hair piled up on their heads in feminine fashion. Gradually, as we advanced farther up the green channel, the perfumes became more penetrating, and the monotonous chirp of the cicalas swelled out like an orchestral crescendo. Above us, against the luminous sky, sharply delineated between the mountains, a kind of hawk hovered, screaming out, with a deep, human voice, "Ha! Ha! Ha!" its melancholy call prolonged by the echoes.

Then all Nagasaki became profusely illuminated, sparkling with multitudes of lanterns: the smallest suburb, the smallest village was lighted up; the tiniest but perched up among the trees, which in the daytime was invisible, threw out its little glowworm glimmer. Soon there were innumerable lights all over the country on all the shores of the bay, from top to bottom of the mountains; myriads of glowing fires shone out in the darkness, conveying the impression of a vast capital rising around us in one bewildering amphitheatre. Beneath, in the silent waters, another town, also illuminated, seemed to descend into the depths of the abyss. The night was balmy, pure, delicious; the atmosphere laden with the perfume of flowers came wafted to us from the mountains. From the tea-houses and other nocturnal resorts, the sound of guitars reached our ears, seeming in the distance the sweetest of music. And the whirr of the cicalas—which, in Japan, is one of the continuous noises of life, and which in a few days we shall no longer even be aware of, so completely is it the background and foundation of all other terrestrial sounds—was sonorous, incessant, softly monotonous, like the murmur of a waterfall.

Around us, a number of small country-houses, garden-walls, and high bamboo palisades shut off the view. The green hill crushed us with its towering height; the heavy, dark clouds lowering over our heads seemed like a leaden canopy confining us in this unknown spot; it really seemed as if the complete absence of perspective inclined one all the better to notice the details of this tiny corner, muddy and wet, of homely Japan, now lying before our eyes. The earth was very red. The grasses and wild flowers bordering the pathway were strange to me; nevertheless, the palings were covered with convolvuli like our own, and I recognized china asters, zinnias, and other familiar flowers in the gardens. The atmosphere seemed laden with a curiously complicated odor, something besides the perfume of the plants and soil, arising no doubt from the human dwelling-places—a mingled odor, I fancied, of dried fish and incense. Not a creature was to be seen; of the inhabitants, of their homes and life, there was not a vestige, and I might have imagined myself anywhere in the world.

Lacking exciting intrigues and tragic adventures, I wish I knew how to infuse into it a little of the sweet perfumes of the gardens which surround me, something of the gentle warmth of the sunshine, of the shade of these graceful trees. Love being wanting, I should like it to breathe of the restful tranquillity of this faraway spot. Then, too, I should like it to reecho the sound of Chrysantheme's guitar, in which I begin to find a certain charm, for want of something better, in the silence of the lovely summer evenings.

On land, a delicious perfume of new-mown hay greets us, and the road across the mountains is bathed in glorious moonlight. We go straight up to Diou-djen-dji to join Chrysantheme; I feel almost remorseful, although I hardly show it, for my neglect of her.
Looking up, I recognize from afar my little house, perched on high. It is wide open and lighted; I even hear the sound of a guitar. Then I perceive the gilt head of my Buddha between the little bright flames of its two hanging night-lamps. Now Chrysantheme appears on the veranda, looking out as if she expected us; and with her wonderful bows of hair and long, falling sleeves, her silhouette is thoroughly Nipponese.

Needless to say, the cicalas around us keep up their perpetual sonorous chirping. The mountain smells delicious. The atmosphere, the dawning day, the infantine grace of these little girls in their long frocks and shiny coiffures-all is redundant with freshness and youth. The flowers and grasses on which we tread sparkle with dewdrops, exhaling a perfume of freshness. What undying beauty there is, even in Japan, in the fresh morning hours in the country, and the dawning hours of life!

The excessive heat caused by the respiration of the mousmes and the burning lamps, brings out the perfume of the lotus, which fills the heavy-laden atmosphere; and the scent of camellia-oil, which the ladies use in profusion to make their hair glisten, is also strong in the room.


In this paved court are bronze torch-holders as high as turrets. Here, too, stand, and have stood for centuries, cyca palms with fresh, green plumes, their numerous stalks curving with a heavy symmetry, like the branches of massive candelabra. The temple, which is open along its entire length, is dark and mysterious, with touches of gilding in distant corners melting away into the gloom. In the very remotest part are seated idols, and from outside one can vaguely see their clasped hands and air of rapt mysticism; in front are the altars, loaded with marvellous vases in metalwork, whence spring graceful clusters of gold and silver lotus. From the very entrance one is greeted by the sweet odor of the incense-sticks unceasingly burned by the priests before the gods.

But, close to the spot where we stand, a box of white wood provided with handles, a sort of sedan-chair, rests on the freshly disturbed earth, with its lotus of silvered paper, and the little incense-sticks, burning yet, by its side; clearly some one has been buried here this very evening.

Both of them are entirely absorbed in the practices of Shinto religion: perpetually on their knees before their family altar, perpetually occupied in murmuring their lengthy orisons to the spirits, and clapping their hands from time to time to recall around them the inattentive essences floating in the atmosphere. In their spare moments they cultivate, in little pots of gayly painted earthenware, dwarf shrubs and unheard-of flowers which are delightfully fragrant in the evening.

We, however, feel thoroughly at sea in the midst of this festivity; we look on, we laugh like the rest, we make foolish and senseless remarks in a language insufficiently learned, which this evening, I know not why, we can hardly understand. Notwithstanding the night breeze, we find it very hot under our awning, and we absorb quantities of odd-looking water-ices, served in cups, which taste like scented frost, or rather like flowers steeped in snow. Our mousmes order for themselves great bowls of candied beans mixed with hail—real hailstones, such as we might pick up after a hailstorm in March.

And then, how much I admire the flowers in our vases, arranged by Chrysantheme, with her Japanese taste lotus-flowers, great, sacred flowers of a tender, veined rose color, the milky rose-tint seen on porcelain; they resemble, when in full bloom, great water-lilies, and when only in bud might be taken for long pale tulips. Their soft but rather cloying scent is added to that other indefinable odor of mousmes, of yellow race, of Japan, which is always and everywhere in the air. The late flowers of September, at this season very rare and expensive, grow on longer stems than the summer blooms; Chrysantheme has left them in their large aquatic leaves of a melancholy seaweed-green, and mingled with them tall, slight rushes. I look at them, and recall with some irony those great round bunches in the shape of cauliflowers, which our florists sell in France, wrapped in white lace-paper!

Fragrance in Literature-Nicolette a Tale of Old Provence by BARONESS ORCZY

From Nicolette; a tale of old Provence (1922)


Micheline put down her basket and throw-
ing out her frail, flat chest she breathed into
her lungs the perfumed evening air, fragrant
with the scent of lavender and wild thyme:
and with a gesture of tenderness and longing,
she spread out her arms, as if she would enfold
in a huge embrace all that was beautiful and
loving, and tender in this world that, hitherto,
had held so few joys for her. And while she
stood, thus silent and entranced, there de-
scended upon the wide solitude around the
perfect mysterious hush of evening, that hush
which seems most absolute at this hour when
the crackling, tiny twigs on dead branches
shiver at touch of the breeze, and the hum of
cockchafers fills the air with its drowsy buzz.

AND now it is spring once again: a
glorious May-day with the sky of an
intense blue, and every invisible atom in the
translucent air quivering in the heat of the
noon-day sun. All around the country-side
the harvesting of orange-blossom has begun,
and the whole atmosphere is filled with such
fragrance that the workers who carry the
great baskets filled to the brim with ambrosial
petals feel the intoxicating perfume rising to
their heads like wine.

Nicolette listened for awhile, standing still
under the orange tree, with the sun playing
upon her hair, drinking in the intoxicating
perfume of orange-blossoms that lulled her
mind to dreams of what could never, never be.
But anon she, too, joined in the song, and as
her voice had been trained by a celebrated
music-master of Avignon, and was of a pecu-
liarly pure and rich quality, it rose above the
quaint, harsh tones that came from untutored
throats, imtil one by one these became hushed,
and boys and girls ceased to laugh and to *
chatter, and listened.

At one moment Bertrand looked round,
and their eyes met. In that glance the whole
of his childhood seemed to be mirrored: the
woods, the long, rafted corridors, the mad, glad
pranks of boyhood, the climbs up the moun-
tain-side, the races up the terraced gradients,
the slaying of dragons and rescuing of captive
maidens. And all at once he threw back his
head and laughed, just laughed from the sheer
joy of these memories of the past and delight
in the present; joy at finding himself here,
amidst the mountains of old Provence, whose
summits and crags dissolved in the brilliant
Bjzure overhead, with the perfume of orange-
blossom going to his head like wine.

And almost unconsciously he found himself
presently wandering through the woods. The
evening air was warm and fragrant and so
clear, so clear in the moonlight that every tiny
twig and delicate leaf of olive and mimosa
cast a sharp, trenchant shadow as if carved
with a knife.


Bertrand stood quite still watching the glint
of her white cap and her fichu between the
olive trees. She seemed indeed a sprite: he
could not see her feet, but her movements were
so swift that he was sure they could not touch
the ground, but that she was floating upwards
on the bosom of a cloud. The little white cap
from afar looked like a tiny light on the crown
of her head and the ends of her fichu trailed
behind her like wings. Soon she was gone.
He could no longer see her. The slope was
steep and the scrub was dense. It had en-
folded her and hidden her as the wood hides
its nymphs, and the voice of the mountain
stream mocked him because his eyes were not
keen enough to see. Overhead the stars with
myriads of eyes could watch her progress up
the heights, whilst he remained below and
could no longer see. But the air remained
fragrant with the odour of dried lavender and
sim-kissed herbs, and from the woods around
there came in sweet, lulling waves, wafted to
his nostrils, the scent of rosemary which is for
remembrance.

At the mas they are harvesting the big
grove to-day, the one that lies down in the
valley, close to the road-side. There are over
five hundred trees, so laden with flowers that,
even after heavy thinning down, there will
be a huge crop of fruit at Christmas-time.
Through the fragrant air, the fresh young
voices of the gatherers resound, echoing
against the distant hills, chattering, shouting,
laughing, oh I laughing all the time, for they
are boys and girls together and all are be-
trothed to one another in accordance to old
Provencal traditions which decrees that lads
and maidens be tokened from the time when
they emerge out of childhood and the life of
labour on a farm begins : so that Meon is best
known as the betrothed of Petrone or Magde-
leine as the fiancee of Gaucelme.


Large sheets are spread under the trees, and
the boys, on ladders, pick the flowers and drop
them lightly down. It requires a very gentle
hand to be a good picker, because the delicate
petals must on no account be bruised and all
around the trees where the girls stand, hold-
ing up the sheet, the air is filled as with
myriads of sweet-scented fluttering snow-
flakes.

Jaume Deydier, in addition to his special
process for the manufacture of olive oil, has
a secret one for the extraction of neroli, a
sweet oil obtained from orange-blossom, and
for distilling orange-flower water, a specific
famed throughout the world for the cure of
those attacks of nerves to which great ladies
are subject. Therefore, at the mas, the fra-
grant harvest is of great importance.

Fragrance in Travel Literature-Provence,France

La Chaîne des Maures


Romantic cities of Provence ([1906])
Caird, Mona Alison


To the left, a magnificent plane-tree spreads golden
foliage far and wide, brimming up to our bedroom
windows just overhead. And a little further from the
house, on this side of a sombre row of cypresses, with an
ethereal view to the left of palest mountain peaks — a
Provencal rose garden !
" But gather, gather, Mesdames," invites our kind host,
" gather as many as you will." He smiles at our amazed
delight, and waves a hospitable hand towards the masses
of blossom, radiantly fresh and fair.
The sun draws out the fragrance and shines through
the petals till they gleam like gemmed enamel. We
linger entranced.
In the narrow path we are elbow high in roses. And
everything seems to stand still and wait in the hot sun.
Nothing moves on. There is only a tiny floating back
and forwards of a thread of cobweb between rose and
rose ; and very slowly now and again a broad swathe
of plane-foliage heaves up and down on a little swell of
air which the tree has all to itself in the shade-dappled
precincts that it rules.

We plunge straight into their heart and begin to
mount by gradual windings through little valleys, arid
and lonely. Dwarf oak, lavender and rosemary make
their only covering. But for their grey vesture one might
imagine oneself in some valley of the moon, wandering
dream-bound in a dead world. The limestone vales
have something of the character of the lunar landscape :
a look of death succeeding violent and frenzied life,
which gives to the airless, riverless valleys of our
satellite their unbearable desolation. It might have been
fancy, but it seemed that in the Alpilles there was not a
living thing ; neither beast nor bird nor insect.

As we ascended, the landscape grew stranger and more
tragic. The walls of rock closed in upon us, then fell
back, breaking up into chasms, crags, pinnacles. The
lavender and aromatic plants no longer climbed the sides
of the defiles ; they carpeted the ground and sent a sharp
fragrance into the air. The passes would widen again
more liberally into battlemented gorges from which great
solitary boulders and peninsulas rose out of the sea of
lavender. Here and there this fragrant sea seemed to
have splashed up against the rock-face, for little grey
bushes would cling for dear life to some cleft or cranny
far up the heights ; sometimes on the very summit. As
one follows the road it seems as if the heavily overhang-
ing crags must come crashing down on one's head. What
prevents it, I fail to this day to understand.

The roses are exhaling their fragrance in the dark
garden just below ; now and then the omnibus horses
peacefully move in their stalls, perhaps going over again
in their dreams the happy homeward journey after the
last train.

On the hillside grow many sweet-smelling aromatic
plants, and they tempt one to linger that one may
bruise the leaves and so enjoy the fresh wholesome-
ness of the perfume. Below, at a dizzy distance, runs
the Gard, the shores rich with woods over which now
is a sort of mysterious bloom that seems in perfect
keeping with the unseen Enchanted Castle filled with

There is a
languid Eastern deliciousness in the very scenery of the
story, the full-blown roses, the chamber painted in some
mysterious manner where Nicolette is imprisoned, the
cool brown marble, the almost nameless colours, the
odour of plucked grass and flowers. Nicolette herself
well becomes this scenery, and is the best illustration of
the quality I mean — the beautiful, weird, foreign girl,
whom the shepherds take for a fay. ..."

"It is from this fantastic scene," says one of the
fraternity, "that the beautiful wind-touched draperies,
the rhythm, the heads suddenly thrown back, of many
a Pompeian wall-painting and sarcophagus frieze are
originally derived." And the same eye sees in the figure
of Dionysus the " mystical and fiery spirit of the earth
— the aroma of the green world is retained in the fair
human body." "Sweet upon the mountains" is the
presence of the far-wandering god " who embodies all
the voluptuous abundance of Asia, its beating sun, its
fair-towered cities."

The traditions of chivalry are among the priceless
possessions of the human race, and it is in Provence
that their aroma lingers with a potency scarcely to be
found in any other country. The air is alive with rich
influences. The heat of the sun, the extraordinary
brilliance of light and colour, the dignity of an ancient
realm whose every inch is penetrated with human doings
and destinies, all combine towards an enchantment that
belongs to the mysterious side of nature and prompts
a host of unanswerable questions. The eye wanders
bewildered across the country, wistfully struggling to
reahse the wonder and the beauty. It sweeps the peaked
line of mountains with only an added sense of baffle-
ment, and rests at last, sadly, on some lonely castle with
shattered ramparts and roofless banqueting-hall, where
now only the birds sing troubadour songs, and ivy and
wild vines are the swaying tapestries.

An embassy to Provence; (1893)
Janvier, Thomas Allibone, 1849-1913


We went down the mountain road at a
good trot, with the brakes set hard. The
road was as smooth as French roads — barring chemins
d' exploitation — always are, and
the descent was sharp : even the Ponette
could not refuse to trot with the carriage
fairly pushing her along. Dusk was falling
on the heights, and darkness had come by
the time that we reached the plain. From the
unseen fields of flowers sweet scents were
borne to us ; sweetest of all being the richly
delicate odor from a field of heliotrope close
beside us, but hidden in the bosom of the
night.

Bearing in her hands our two candles, our
beautiful hostess piloted us to our bed-cham-
ber — up the narrow worn stone stairway,
along the narrow crooked passages broken by
incidental flights of steps, and so to the large
tile-paved room whereof the mahogany furni-
ture had grown black with age, and where
everything was exquisitely clean. The bed-
linen had a faint smell of lavender, and the
beds were comfortable to a degree. As I
sank away into sleep I was aware of the
delicate, delicious odor of flowers swept in
through the open window by the soft night
wind.

Most gentle is the business carried on by
the people of Saint-Remy: the raising of
flowers and the sale of their seed. All around
the town are fields of flowers ; and the flowers
are suffered to grow to full maturity, and then
to die their own sweet death, to the end that
their seed may be garnered and sold abroad.
Everywhere delicate odors floated about us in
the air ; and. although our coming was in
August, bright colors still mingled every-
where with the green of lca\es and grass.
Insensibly, their gracious manner of earning
a livelihood has reacted upon the people
themselves: the folk of Saint -Remy are no-
table for their gentleness and kindliness even
among- their gentle and kindly fellows of
Provence. We understood better Roumanille's
beautiful nature when we thus came to know
the town of gardens wherein he was born,
and we also appreciated more keenly the
verse — in his exquisite little poem to his
mother — in which he chronicles his birth:
In a farm-house hidden in the midst of apple-trees,
On a beautiful morning in harvest-time,
I was born to a gardener and a gardener's wife
In the gardens of Saint -Remy.


A spring walk in Provence; (1920)
Marshall, Archibald, 1866-1934

This southern country flushes to tender spring
green only here and there. The cultivated hill-
sides keep their darker colours, though they may
be most sweetly lit with the pink of almonds.
March would be a glorious month in Provence
if it were only for the almond blossom. Mixed
with the soft grey of the olives it makes delicious
pictures, and it is to be found everywhere. And
the wild rosemary is in flower — great bushes of
it, lighting up the rocky hillsides with their deli-
cate blue. They were all around me as I sat
on this height, and there were brooms getting
ready to flower, and wild lavender, and thyme.
The air held an aromatic fragrance, and as I
walked on between the pines and the deciduous
trees, not yet in leaf, the birds were singing and
the water rushing down its channels from the
snowy heights very musically. There were prim-
roses and violets by the roadside, as if it had
been spring in England, and juicy little grape
hyacinths to remind one that it was not. There
was something to look at and enjoy at every step.

Dusk was falling, and I went down stony
paths between olive gardens, which are very
peaceful and mysterious in twilight. I met some
of the inhabitants of Berre mounting slowly to
their little town after their day's work. Most
of the women carried cut olive boughs on their
heads, and some of the men drove asses laden
with them. It was the time of pruning, and olive
leaves are very acceptable to most animals as
food. By and bye I had the track to myself,
and sometimes lost it, but I did not much mind.
I could see the lights of Contes below me, and
whenever I found myself on a path that seemed
to lead aside from them I took a straight line
over the terraces till I found a more suitable one.
I was rather tired, but rest and refreshment were
not far off, and it was soothing to the spirit
to walk in this odorous dusk, and in such quiet-
ness.


I wandered for an hour up paths and down
paths and along the edges of terraces where there
were no paths, but keeping my face generally to
the right quarter. The lights of Grasse shone more
and more plainly between the tree-trunks, but
were still a very long way off. Sometimes I came
across little secluded farms, and in the garden
of one of them a great stretch of yellow jonquil
shone in the dusk hke a square of sunshine left
behind from the departed day, and its fragrance
followed me for a long way. From another a
dog barked and somewhat alarmed me, for dogs
are not to be lightly regarded in this country.
Later on I should have been more alarmed still,
for reasons which will presently appear. But this
dog did no more than bark savagely, and bye and
bye, when it was quite dark, I came out onto the
road, not so very far from Chateauneuf, round
which I had walked almost in full circle.

On the way up from Les Baux to the col, and
for some distance beyond, the country is arid and
cold; but the wealth of aromatic and flowering
shrubs that carpet the ground in these stony
regions, and the breathing spirit of the spring,
gives them a charm of their own that is far
removed from desolation. The road was lonely
enough. A few flocks of sheep and goats clat-
tered among the loose stones of the hillsides that
were on either side, among the pines and the
thyme and rosemary and the yellow brooms; and
the shepherds watched and whistled to them,
never very far away. A motor-car passed me as
I rested at the top of the hill, and a carriage
jogging along the straight road to the " plateau
des antiquites " offered itself for a lift; for I was
on my way to see something that every tourist
in these parts comes to see, and this one was
plying for hire in this lonely region in the ordi-
nary way of business. But otherwise I had the
road to myself in the early morning, and took
my time over the six or seven kilometres that were
all that I was yet able to accomplish.

I walked on, into the land of flowers — flowers
grown not for their beauty but for their scent,
and grown in terraced fields, just like any other
crop. Grasse, the centre of the industry, draws
supplies for its scents and soaps, pomades and
oils, from miles of country around it, and I was
getting near to Grasse.
There were great plantations of roses, all care-
fully pruned and trained on low trellises, but
not yet in flower. Sometimes the rows were in-
terspersed with vines, and many of the fields
were bordered with mulberries. There were ledges
covered with the green foliage of violets, and
great double heads of purple, scented bloom peep-
ing out of it. There were fields of jasmine, of
tuberoses; terraces of lavender, of lilies of the
valley, carnations, mignonette; gardens of orange
trees, grown more for their flowers than for their
fruit; and of course groves of olives, of which
the oil forms so important a part in the local
manufactures. This day and the next day I
walked for miles with the scent of flowers all
about me.

I walked right through the town, but if I had
not already seen something of the processes by
which the scents from the miles of flowery fields
through which I was passing are extracted and
hoarded, I think I should have stayed to do so.
For I am so constituted that every manufacturing
process remains a complete and insoluble mys-
tery to me until I have seen it, and yet arouses
my curiosity and my willing interest.
It was about this time of the year that I had
visited one of the light, airy factories of Grasse.
I remember a huge, scented mass of the heads
of violets heaped up on a white sheet on one of
the upstairs floors. It was half as high as I was,
and smelt divinely. These were the only flowers
in evidence, for the full harvest, when all the
great space of this chamber would be covered
with gathered blossoms, was not yet. But there
were sacks of lavender there besides, and bundles
of sweet-scented roots — orris, and patchouli, and
vetiver — which can be turned into essences as
sweet as those taken from the flowers themselves.

The little hills all around were covered with
thyme, rosemary, asphodel, box and lavender. In
odd corners there were vines, which produced a
wine of some repute — the wine of Frigolet;
patches of olives on the lower slopes; plantations
of almond-trees, twisted, dark and stunted, on
the stony ground; and wild fig-trees in the clefts
of the rocks. This sparse vegetation was all that
these rugged hills could show; the rest was noth-
ing but waste and scattered rocks. But how de-
licious it smelt! The scent of the mountains at
sunrise intoxicated us. . . .

We became as rugged as a troop of gipsies.
But how we revelled in these hills and gorges and
ravines, with their sonorous Provencal names . . .
eternal monuments of the country and its lan-
guage, all embalmed in thyme and rosemary and
lavender, all illumined in gold and azure. Oh,
sweet land of scents and colours and delights and
illusions, what happiness, what dreams of para-
dise thou didst reveal to my childhood! " *

Well, you will agree that Saint-Michel de
Frigolet was a place to see. I got up to it by
a winding track among the hills. It was a clear,
sunny morning, and the bees were humming
among the scented herbs that give such a charac-
ter to these stony hills, just as they did in the
poet's happy childhood. On this side of the hill
were a few olives here and there, but no other
sign of cultivation until I came to the top of
a hill, where there was a patch of dug ground,
and beyond it a collection of pinnacles and walls
conveying the impression that I had unexpectedly
hit upon a large modern cemetery.

In troubadour-land. A ramble in Provence and Languedoc (1891)
Baring-Gould, S. (Sabine), 1834-1924


What a delightful walk is that on the cliff of the
chateau ! The day I was at Nice was the 9th of April.
The crags were rich with colour, the cytisus waving its
golden hair, the pelargonium blazing scarlet, beds of
white stock wafting fragrance, violets scrambling over
every soft bank of deep earth exhaling fragrance ; roses,
not many in flower, but their young leaves in masses of
claret-red ; wherever a ledge allowed it, there pansies
of velvety blue and black and brown had been planted.
In a hot sun I climbed the chateau cliff to where the
water, conveyed to the summit, dribbled and dropped,
or squirted and splashed, nourishing countless fronds
of fern and beds of moss, and many a bog plaat. The
cedars and umbrella pines in the spring sun exhaled
their aromatic breath, and the flowering birch rained
down its yellow dust over one from its swaying
catkins.


It was evening when I visited the theatre, a balmy
spring evening, where shelter could be obtained from a
cold wind. The pink Judas trees were in full flower.
The syringas scented the air. The golden sunlight filled
the theatre with light and warmth. But two persons
were present, except myself. Seated on one of the
white marble steps for the audience, was an Aries
mother with a royal face, in the quaintly beautiful
costume the women of all classes still affect, and she
had spread her mantle over the shoulders of a girl
of fourteen, sick, with face of the purest alabaster,
and of features as fine as were ever traced for
Venus Anadyomene, with large, solemn, dreamy eyes,
watching a robin that was perched on the proscenium
and was twittering.

Rambles in Provence and on the Riviera; being some account of journeys made en automobile [and things seen in the fair land of Provence] ([1911])
Mansfield, M. F. (Milburg Francisco), b. 1871


Around Martigues, in the spring-time, all is
verdant and full of colour, and the air is laden
with the odours of aromatic buds and blossoms.
At this time, when the sun has not yet dried
out and yellowed the hillsides, the spectacle of
the background panorama is most ravishing.
Almond, peach, and apricot trees, all covered
with a rosy snow of blossoms, are everywhere,
and their like is not to be seen elsewhere, for in
addition there is here a contrasting frame of
greenish-gray olive-trees and punctuating ac-
cents of red and yellow wild flowers that is rem-
iniscent of California.

The whole note of Grasse is of flowers, trees,
and shrubs, and the perfume-laden air an-
nounces the fact from afar.

Above all, one should see Nice in the height
of the flower season, when the stalls of the
flower merchants are literally buried under a
harvest of flowers and perfumed fruits.

To arrive on the terraces of Monte Carlo
at twilight, on a spring-time or autumn eve-
ning, is one of the great episodes in one's life.
You are surrounded by an atmosphere which
is balsamic and perfumed as one imagines the
Garden of Eden might have been. All the arti-
ficiality of the place is lost in the softening
shadows, and all is as like unto fairy-land as
one will be likely to find on this earth. The
lovely gardens, the gracious architecture, the
myriads of lights just twinkling into existence,
the hum of life, the moaning and plashing of
the waves on the rocky shores beneath, and,
above, a canopy of palms lifting their heads
to the sky, all unite to produce this unpar-
alleled charm.

Far to the northward and eastward is a
chain of mountains, the foot-hills of the mighty
Alps, while on the horizon to the south there
is a vista of a patch of blue sea which some-
where or other, not many leagues away, bor-
ders upon fragrant gardens and flourishing sea-
ports; but in these pebbly, sandy plains all is
level and monotonous, with only an occasional
oasis of trees and houses.

Fragrance in Literature-Some Spring Days in Iowa, by Frederick John Lazell

Some Spring Days in Iowa, by Frederick John Lazell

By-the-way, the list of March blooming plants for 1908, is probably one of the longest for years: March 20, aspen; twenty-first, hazel and silver maple; twenty-third, pussy willow, prairie willow and white elm; twenty-fourth, dwarf white trillium and hepatica (also known as liverleaf, squirrelcup, and blue anemone); twenty-fifth, slippery elm, cottonwood; twenty-ninth, box elder and fragrant sumac; thirtieth, dandelion; thirty-first, Dutchman’s breeches.

After bringing us the trilliums and hepaticas in numbers, Nature pauses. She means to give us time to inhale the fragrance of some of the hepaticas, and to learn that other hepaticas of the same species have no fragrance at all; that there is a variety of delicate colors, white, pink,[21] purple, lavender, and blue; that the colored parts, which look like petals are really sepals; that they usually number six, but may be as many as twelve; that there are three small sessile leaves forming an involucre directly under the flower; that if we search we shall find some with four, more rare than four-leaved clovers; that the plant which was fragrant last year will also be fragrant this year; that the furry stems are slightly pungent,—enough to give spice to a sandwich; these preliminary observations fit us for more intricate problems later on.

In later May, the season “betwixt May and June,” beauty and fragrance and melody comes in a rich flood. The flaming breast of the oriole and the wondrous mingling of colors in the multiplied warblers glint like jewels among the ever enlarging leaves. The light in the woodlands becomes more subdued and the carpet of ferns and flowers grows richer and more beautiful. The vireos, the cardinal and the tanager add to the brilliancy and the ovenbird and veery to the[50] melody. As good old John Milton once wrote: “In these vernal seasons of the year, when the air is clear and pleasant, it were an injury and a sullenness against nature not to go out and see her riches, and partake of her rejoicing with heaven and earth.”

There comes an outbreak of melody from the top of a tall black willow, much like the tones of the robin and yet suggestive of the warbling vireo, but finer than the former, clearer, louder and richer than the latter. We lift our eyes and see the pointed carmine shield of the rose-breasted grosbeak, one of the most beautiful, useful and music-full birds in the forest or the garden. Many mornings and evenings during the month of May one of these handsome fellows was busy in my garden, diligently picking the potato bugs from the young vines, stopping now and[56] then, especially in his morning visits, to pour out a happy, ringing lyric and to show his handsome plumage. On one occasion he took a couple of potato bugs in his “gros” beak as he flew to the nearby woodland, probably a tempting morsel for his spouse’s breakfast. A bird that can sing better than a warbling vireo, whose carmine breast is comparable only to the rich, red rose of June, who picks bugs from potato vines, singing chansons meanwhile and who is so good to his wife that he does a large share of the incubation, and takes largely upon himself the care of their children is surely a “rara avis” and worth having for a friend. He is a typical bird of June. His color matches the June roses, his songs are full and sweet and rich as the June days, and the eggs of his soberly dressed spouse are usually laid and hatched in June. There is a nest in a hawthorn bush where the wild grape twines her crimson-green clusters and by the time the blossoms break and fill the air with fragrance, no accidents coming meanwhile, four young grosbeaks will be the pride of as warm a paternal heart as ever beat in bird or human breast.

It is worth while on a walk in June to sit and look at the grass. How tame and dreary would be the landscape without it! How soul starved would have been mankind, condemned to live without the restfulness of its unobtrusive beauty! That is why the first command, after the waters had been gathered into one place and the dry land appeared, was, “Let the earth bring forth grass.” The grasses cover the earth like a beautiful garment from Kerguelen land in the Antarctic regions to the extreme limit of vegetation beyond the Polar circle. They climb the Andes, the Rockies, and the Himalayas to the very line of eternal snow, and they creep to the bottom of every valley where man dares set his foot. They come up fresh and green from the melting snows of earliest spring and linger in sunny autumn glens when all else is dead and drear. They give intense interest to the botanist as he remembers that there are thirty-five hundred different spe[66]cies, a thousand of which are in North America and a fourth of that number in our own state. They give him delightful studies as he patiently compares their infinite variations of culms and glumes, spikes, racemes, and panicles. They give joy to the farmer with their wealth of protein and fat and albuminoid, the material to do the work and make the wealth of the world bulging from their succulent stems. And they are fascinating most of all to the nature-lover as he sees them gently wave in the June sunshine or flow like a swift river across the field before a quick gust of wind. Such variety of color! Here an emerald streak and there a soft blue shadow, yonder a matchless olive green, and still farther a cool gray: spreading like an enamel over the hillside where the cattle have cropped them, and waving tall and fine above the crimsoning blossoms of the clover; glittering with countless gems in the morning dews and musicful with the happy songs and call notes of the quail and prairie chicken, the meadow lark, the bob-o-link, and the dickcissel whose young are safe among the protection of the myriad stems. Tall wild rice and[67] wild rye grow on the flood-plain and by the streams where the tall buttercups shine like bits of gold and the blackbirds have their home; bushy blue stem on the prairies and in the open woods where the golden squaw weed and the wild geranium make charming patterns of yellow and pink and purple and some of the painted cup left over from May still glows like spots of scarlet rain; tall grama grass on the dry prairies and gravelly knolls, whitened by the small spurge and yellowed by the creeping cinquefoil; nodding fescue in the sterile soils where the robin’s plantain and the sheep sorrel have succeeded the early everlasting; satin grasses in the moist soil of the open woodlands where the fine white flowers of the Canada anemone blow, and slough grass in the marshy meadows where the white-crossed flowers of the sharp spring are fading, and the woolly stem of the bitter boneset is lengthening; reed grass and floating manna grass in the swamps where the broad arrow leaves of the sagittaria fringe the shore and the floating leaves and fragrant blossoms of the water lilies adorn the pond. The three days’ rain beginning with a[68] soft drizzle and increasing into a steady storm which drives against the face with cutting force and shakes in sheets like waving banners across the wind-swept prairie only adds more variety to the beauties of the grass; and when the still, sweet morning comes, the pure green prairies make us feel that all stain of sin and shame has been washed from the world.

Where the grasses grow the best, there Providence has provided most abundantly for the wealth and the comfort of mankind. The rich verdure of the meadows is the visible sign of the fruitful soil beneath the fattening clouds above. The clover and the early hay fill the June fields with fragrance and the grass in the parks and lawns invite toil-worn bodies to rest and comfort. What wonder Bryant wished to die in June, the month when the grasses tenderly creep over the mounds above tired dust and gently soothe the grief of the loved ones left behind.

Notwithstanding the high wind there is a heavy haze through which the sun casts but faint shadows. Across the white-flecked river the emerald meadow rises in a mile long slope until it meets the sky in a mist of silver blue. To the right a big tract of woodland is haloed by a denser cloud of vivid violet as if the pillar of cloud which led the Israelites by day had rested there; or as if mingled smoke and incense were rising from Druid altars around the sacred grove. As a matter of fact, it is a mingling of the ever increasing humidity, the dust particles in the air and the smoke from many April grass fires. To the left of the meadow there is a sweep of arable land where disc harrows, seeders, and[11] ploughs are at work. The unsightly corn stalks of the winter have been laid low, the brown fields are as neat and tidy as if they had been newly swept; and this is Iowa in April.

We follow the scarlet tanager up a wide glen where wholesome smelling brake grows almost shoulder high. Suddenly there comes from our feet a sharp, painful cry, as of a human being in distress, and the ruffed grouse, commonly called pheasant, leaves her brood of tiny, ginger-yellow chicks—eight, ten, twelve—more than we can count,—little active bits of down about the size of a golf ball, scattering here, there, and everywhere to seek the shelter of bush, bracken,[61] or dried leaves, while their mother repeats that plaintive whine, again and again, as she tries to lead us up the hillside away from them. When we look for them again they are all safely hidden; not one can be seen. The mother desperately repeats her whining cry to entice us away and we walk on up to the top of the hill and away to relieve her anxiety. Anon we hear her softly clucking as she gathers her scattered brood.

Some Summer Days in Iowa, by Frederick John Lazell


Springing from a log lying by the fence a dozen plants of the glistening coprinus have reared themselves since morning, fresh from the[Pg 38] rain and flavored as sweet as a nut. Narrow furrows and sharp ridges adorn their drooping caps; these in turn are decorated with tiny shining scales. Nibbling at the nut-like flesh, I am touched with the nicety, the universality of nature's appeal to the finer senses and sentiments. Here is form and color and sparkle to please the eye, flesh tender to the touch, aroma that tests the subtlest sense of smell, taste that recalls stories of Epicurean feasts, millions of life-germs among the purple-black gills, ready to float in the streams of the atmosphere to distant realms and other cycles of life. No dead log and toadstools are here, but dainty shapes with billions of possibilities for new life, new beauties, new thoughts.

In these last days of the summer there comes a grateful sense of the ripeness which crowns the year. Nothing in nature has hid its talent in a napkin. Every tree and shrub and herb has something to show in return for the privilege of having lived and worked in a world of beauty. Catbirds on the eve of their departure for the southland are feasting on the red and yellow wild plums, and the crab apples are beginning to give forth a faint fragrance which will grow more pronounced from now until October. The amber[Pg 125] clusters of the hop are poured in profusion over the reddening fruit of the hawthorn. Farther on is the brook Eschol where the purple grapes are hanging. The snowy clusters of the sweet elder, which were so beautiful in July and early August, have developed into ample clusters of juicy berries which bring memories of the wine that grandmother used to make. Flocks of robins are feeding greedily on the abundant wild cherries. Thickets of panicled dogwood are feeding stations for other migrants; already the crimson fruit-stalks have been stripped of half their white berries. These native fruits are so many and so varied, they make the walk a constant delight. Each plant is a revelation. Who ever saw for the first time the huge clusters of fruit hanging from the wild spikenard on the face of the cliff and did not thrill with the charm of a great discovery? Each cluster of ruby, winey berries is as large as a hickory-nut and the clusters are aggregated upon stalks so as to resemble huge bunches of grapes. For contrast there are the little bunches of whitish berries on the low-growing false spikenard; they are speckled[Pg 126] with reddish and gray dots as if they might be cowbird's eggs in miniature. Jack-in-the-pulpits show club-shaped bunches of scarlet berries here and there among the grasses. On the wooded slopes there are the white fruits of the baneberry on its quaintly-shaped red stalks, the pretty fruit clusters of the moonseed and the smilax. The scattered berries of the green-brier will be black in winter, but their September hue is a bronze green of a delicate shade which artists might envy. It will take another month to ripen the drupes of the black-haw into their blue-black beauty; now they are green on one side and red on the other, like a ripening apple. It's a fine education to know just which fruits you may nibble and which you must not eat. Red-stalked clusters of black berries hang from the vines of the Virginia creeper among leaves just touched with the hectic flame that tells of their passing, all too soon. At the sign of the sumac, tall torches of garnet berries rise. Down the bank, the bittersweet sends trailing arms jeweled with orange-colored pods just opening to display the scarlet arils within. Crimsoning capsules[Pg 127] give the burning bush its name; this may well have been the bush at which Moses was directed to take off his sandals because he was treading on holy ground. Large, triangular membranaceous pods hang thickly from the white-lined branches of the bladdernut. Cup-like leaves of the honeysuckle hold bunches of scarlet berries. So on and on the creek leads to new beauties of color and form, new delights for taste and smell. Every plant has some excuse for its being, something of the loveliness and fragrance of the summer stored in its fruits. There is a lesson for the mind and the soul to be gathered with the fruit of these shrubs and vines. Summer still works with tireless energy. She has done with the leaf and the bud and the blossom; all her remaining strength is being spent in filling the fruits before the night of the white death comes.

Farther out, where the old road leaves the woods, the landscape is like a vast park, more beautiful than many a park which the world calls famous. From the crest of the ridge the fields roll away in graceful curves, dotted with comfortable homes and groves and skirted by heavy timber down in the valley where the sweet water of the river moves quietly over the white sand. Still responding to the freshening impulse[Pg 22] of the June rains, fields and woods are all a-quiver with growth. By master magic soil-water and sunshine are being changed into color and form to delight the eye and food to do the world's work. Every tree is a picture, each leaf is as fresh and clean as the rain-washed air of the morning. From the low meadows the perfume of the hay is brought up by the languid breeze. Amber oat-fields are ripening in the sun and in the corn-fields there is a sense of the gathering force of life as the sturdy plants lift themselves higher and higher during-
"The long blue solemn hours, serenely flowing
Whence earth, we feel, gets steady help and good."


When evening comes the sun's last smiles reach far into the timber and linger lovingly on the boles of the trees with a tender beauty. Wood-flowers face the vanishing light and hold it until the scalloped edges of the oak leaves etched against the sky have been blurred by the gathering darkness. Long streams of cinnabar and orange flare up in the western sky. Salmon-colored clouds float into sight, grow gray and gradually melt away. In the dusky depths of the woods the thrush sings his thrilling, largo appassionato, requiem to the dying day. In this part of the thicket the catbirds congregate, but over yonder the brown thrashers are calling to each other. The "skirl" of the nighthawk ceases; but away through the woods, down at the creek, the whippoorwill begins her oft-repeated trinity of notes. A hoot owl calls from a near-by tree. The pungent smoke of the wood-fire is sweeter than incense. Venus hangs like a silver lamp in the northwest. She, too, disappears, but to the[Pg 48] east Mars—it is the time of his opposition—shines in splendor straight down the old road, seemingly brought very near by the telescopic effect of the dark trees on either side. Sister stars look down in limpid beauty from a cloudless sky. All sounds have ceased. A fortnight hence the air will be vibrant with the calls of the katydids and the grasshoppers, but now the silence is supreme. It is good for man sometimes to be alone in the silence of the night—to pass out from the world of little things, temporary affairs, conditional duties, into the larger life of nature. There may be some feeling of chagrin at the thought how easily man passes out of the world and how readily and quickly he is forgotten; but this is of small moment compared with the sense of self reliance, of sturdy independence, which belongs to the out-of-doors. By the light of the stars the non-essentials of life are seen in their true proportions. There are so many things which have only a commercial value, and even that is uncertain. Why strive for them or worry about them? In nature there is a noble indifference to everything save the attainment[Pg 49] of the ideal. Flattery aids not an inch to the growth of a tendril, blame does not take one tint from the sky. In nature is the joy of living, of infinite, eternal life. Her eternity is now, today, this hour. Each of her creatures seeks the largest, fullest, best life possible under given conditions. The wild raspberries on which the catbirds were feeding today would have been just as fine had there been no catbird to eat them or human eye to admire them. Had there been no human ear to delight, the song of the woodthrush would have been just as sweet. The choke-cherries crimsoning in the summer sun, the clusters of the nuts swelling among the leaves of the hickory will strive to attain perfection, whether or no there are human hands to gather them. They live in beauty, simplicity and serenity, all-sufficient in themselves to achieve their ends.

Let me live by the old road among the flowers and the trees, the same old road year after year, yet new with the light of each morning. Shirking not my share of the world's work, let me gather comfort from the cool grasses and the[Pg 50] restful shade of the old road, hope and courage from the ever-recurring miracle of the morning and the springtime, inspiration to strive nobly toward a high ideal of perfection. They are talking of improving the old road. They will build pavements on either side, and a trim park in the middle, where strange shrubs from other states will fight for life with the tall, rank weeds which always tag the heels of civilization. Then let me live farther out,—always just beyond the last lamp on the outbound road, like Omar Khayyam in his strip of herbage, where there are no improvements, no conventionalities, where life is as large as the world and where the sweet sanities and intimacies of nature are as fresh and abundant as the dew of the morning. Rather than the pavements, let me see the holes of the tiger-beetles in the dirt of the road, the funnels of the spiders leading down to the roots of the grass and their cobwebs spread like ladies' veils, each holding dozens of round raindrops from the morning shower, as a veil might hold a handful of gleaming jewels. Let me still take note of the coming of the months by the new flower faces[Pg 53] which greet me, each taking their proper place in the pageant of the year. Old memories of friends and faces, old joys and hopes and loves flash and fade among the shrubs and the flowers—here we found the orchis, there we gathered the gentians, under this oak the friend now sleeping spoke simply of his faith and hope in a future, sweeter summer, when budding thoughts and aspirations should blossom into fadeless beauty and highest ideals be attained. Let me watch the same birds building the same shapely homes in the old familiar bushes and listen to the old sweet songs, changeless through the years. If the big thistle is rooted out, where shall the lark sparrow build her nest? If the dirt road is paved, how shall the yellow-hammers have their sand-baths in the evening, while the half grown rabbits frisk around them? Sweet the hours spent in living along the old road—let my life be simpler, that I may spend more time in living and less in getting a living. There are so many things deemed essential that really are not necessary at all. One hour of new thought is better than them all. Let the days be long enough for[Pg 54] the zest and joy of work, for the companionship of loved ones and friends, for a little time loafing along the old road when the day's work is done. Let me hear the sibilant sounds of the thrashers as they settle to sleep in the thicket. Give me the fragrance of the milkweed at evening. Let me see the sunset glow on the trunks of the trees, the ruby tints lingering on the boulder brought down by the glaciers long ago; the little bats that weave their way beneath the darkening arches of the leafy roof, while the fire-flies are lighting their lamps in the nave of the sylvan sanctuary. When the afterglow has faded and the blur of night has come, give me the old, childlike faith and assurance that tomorrow's sun shall rise again, and that by-and-by, in the same sweet way, there shall break the first bright beams of Earth's Eternal Easter morning.

When the summer shower patters down among the leaves the music of the insect orchestra ceases and the performers shield their instruments with their wings. It passes and gleams of sunshine make jewels of the raindrops. Then a little breeze brings the aroma of the blossoming bergamot, wild mint, basil and catnip, filling the air with a spicy fragrance. The insects tune up; soon the orchestra is at it again. White cumulus clouds appear, floating lazily in the azure, reflected by the river below. They chase the sunlight across the amber stubble of the oat-fields and weave huge pictures which flash and fade among the swaying tassels of the corn.

Great fluffy masses of pink purple at the top of large-leaved stems are the blossoms of the Joe Pye Weed, and smaller clusters of royal purple in the grassy places are the efflorescence of the iron weed. A stretch of grassy ground, which slopes down to the river's brink, is gemmed with the thick purple clusters of the milkwort, which shines among the grass as the early blossoms of the clover used to do when the summer was young. Here and there the little bag-like blossoms of the gerardia, or foxglove, are opening among the stems of the fading grass, and the white blossoms of the marsh bellflower, the midget member of the campanula family, are apparently as fresh and numerous as they were in early July. Water horehound has whitish whorls of tiny blossoms and prettily cut leaves, which are as interesting as the flowers. And still the river beckons onward, murmuring that the quest of the flower-lover is not yet done and that the prize awaits the victor who presses on to the swamp around the bend where the birches hang drooping branches over quiet, fish-full pools. The prize is worth the extra half-mile. It is the[Pg 94] gorgeous flower of late summer, a fit symbol of August, the queen blossom of a queenly month, the brilliant red lobelia, or cardinal flower. There is no flower in the year so full of vivid color. Sometimes, but only very rarely, the purple torches of the exquisite little fringed orchis (habenaria psychodes) lights up a swampy place beneath the trees and sheds its delicate fragrance as a welcome to the bees.

When morning broke, little wisps of mist, like curls of white smoke, were drifting on the surface of the river as it journeyed through the canyon of cliffs and trees, dark as the walls of night, toward the valley where the widening sea of day was slowly changing from gray to rosy gold. Caught in a cove where the water was still these little wisps gathered together and crept in folds up the face of the cliff, as if they fain would climb to the very top where the red cedars ran like a row of battlements, twisting their stunted trunks over the brink and hanging their dark foliage in a fringe eighty feet above the water. But the cliff had for centuries defied all climbers, though it gave footing here and there to a few friendly plants. At its base the starry-rayed leaf-cup shed a heavyscent in the stillness of the moist morning. Higher, at the entrance to a little cave, the aromatic spikenard, with purple[Pg 58] stems and big leaves, stood like a sentinel. From crannies in the limestone wall the harebell hung, its last flowers faded, but its foliage still delicately beautiful, like the tresses of some wraith of the river, clinging to the grim old cliff, and waiting, like Andromeda, for a Perseus. Tiny blue-green leaves of the cliff-brake, strung on slender, shining stems, contrasted their delicate grace with the ruggedness of the old cliff. Still higher, where a little more moisture trickled down from the wooded ridge above, the walking fern climbed step by step, patiently pausing to take new footings by sending out roots from the end of each long, pointed leaf. Near the top of the cliff, where the red cedars gave some shade, little communities of bulb-bearing ferns and of polypody displayed their exquisite fronds, as welcome in a world of beauty as smiles on a mother's face. Mosses and lichens grew here and there, staining the face of the old cliff gray, green and yellow. These tiny ferns and mosses, each drawing the sort of sustenance it needed from the layers of the limestone, seemed greater than the mountain of rock. Imposing and spectacular,[Pg 59] yet the rock was dead,—the mausoleum for countless forms of the old life that ceased to be in ages long forgotten. These fairy forms that sprang from it were the beginnings of the new life, the better era, the cycle of the future, living, breathing, almost sentient things, transforming the stubborn stone into beauty of color and form, into faith that moves mountains and hope that makes this hour the center of all eternity. For them the river had been patiently working through the centuries, scoring its channel just a little deeper, cutting down ever so little each year the face of the cliff. Eternity stretched backward to the time when the little stream running between the thin edges of the melting ice sheets at the top of the high plateau first began to cut the channel and scarp this mighty cliff; still backward through untold ages to the time when the lowest layer of limestone in the cliff was only soft sediment on the shore of a summer sea. Eternity stretched forward, also, to the time when this perpendicular wall shall have been worn to a gentle slope, clad with luxuriant verdure, and adorned, perchance, with fairer flowers[Pg 60] than any which earth now knows; still forward through other untold ages to the time when all earth's fires shall have cooled; when wind, rain, storm and flood, shall have carried even the slope to the sea and made this planet a plain like Mars. Now is the golden age; this hour is the center of eternity.

Comforting and soothing as the touch of a loved hand on a fevered brow come the first cooling breezes of September after the fierce white heat of August. Sweeter than music is the sound of the wind, as it passes through the woods, welcomed by millions of waving branches and dancing[Pg 104] leaves. It brings the call of the quail, the scream of the jay, the bark of the squirrel, the crack of the hunter's gun, the first notes of the returning bluebirds, the clean, keen scent of the earth after rain, the courage and joy of life, motion, action. Seen from the top of a cliff the acres of foliage spread out in the creek valley beneath has a motion suggesting the waves of the sea, now flowing in green billows before the wind, now whipped into spray at the shore of the creek where the willows show the white sides of their leaves.

In the old woods road a soft haze hung, too subtle to see save where its delicate colorings were contrasted against the dark green leaves of the oaks beyond the fence. Not the tangible, vapory haze of early morning, but a tinted, ethereal haze, the visible effluence of the summer, the nimbus of its power and glory. From tall cord grasses arching over the side of the road, drawing water from the ditch in which their feet were bathed and breathing it into the air with the scent of their own greenness; from the transpiration of the trees, shrubs and vines, flowers and mosses and ferns, from billions of pores in acres of leaves it came streaming into the sunlight, vanishing quickly, yet ever renewed, as surely as the little brook where the grasses drank and the grackles fished for tadpoles and young frogs, was replenished by the hidden spring. Mingled with it and floating in it was another stream of life, the innumerable living[Pg 12] organisms that make up the dust of the sunshine. Pink and white, black and yellow spores from the mushrooms over the fence in the pasture; pollen pushed from the glumes of the red top grasses and the lilac spires of the hedge nettle and germander by the roadside; shoals of spores from the mosses and ferns by the trees and in the swamp; all these life particles rose and floated in the haze, giving it tints and meanings strangely sweet. When a farmer's buggy passed along the old road the haze became a warm pink, like some western sky in the evening, slowly clearing again to turquoise as the dust settled. Viewed in this way, the haze became a mighty, broad-mouthed river of life, fed by billions of tiny streams and moving ever toward the vast ocean of the sunlight. Faintly visible to the discerning eye, it was also audible to the attentive ear, listening as one listens at the edge of a field in the night time to hear the growing of the corn. If all the millions of leaves had ceased their transpiration, if this flow of life had been shut off, as the organist pushes in the tremolo stop, the sound of the summer would not have[Pg 13] been the same. Something of the strength and joy of the summer was in it. Drinking deeply of it the body was invigorated and the heart grew glad. In it the faith of the winter's buds and the hope of the spring's tender leaves found rich fulfillment. Theirs was a life of hope and promise that the resurrection should come; this was the glorious life after the resurrection, faith lost in sight and patient hope crowned.

There is a pleasant constancy in the companionship of a creek. It is always at home when I call, always seems to wear a smile of welcome, always has something new to offer in the way of entertainment. And it is changeless through the years. If I were to return some September afternoon after an absence of half a lifetime I should expect to see a green heron fly up the creek when I reached this particular bend and to find the kingfisher in his accustomed place on the bare branch of this patriarchal oak. At the next bend, where the current has cut the bank straight down I should look for the rows of holes made by the little colony of bank swallows. I should steal around the sharp bend by the old[Pg 116] willow to see a little sandpiper on the boulder in mid-stream as of old. On a certain high grassy knoll I should find the woodchuck sunning himself and he would run towards his same old hole beneath the basswood tree, just as he does today. On the swampy edge of the stream I should find the perennial blossoms of this same corymbed rattle-snake root and its interesting spear-shaped leaves reflected in the water. From the dry bank just at the end of this ledge of rock my nostrils would catch the resinous odor of the creamy-flowered kuhnia and a more subtle aroma from the pearly-blossomed everlasting. The horse in the pasture would again come up and rub his nose in my hand and the cattle beneath the trees would make the same picture as in the days of long ago. Civilization can hardly spoil the creek. The spring freshets obliterate attempts at road-making and the steep hills protect it from encroachment and preserve its independence and wild beauty.


Some Winter Days in Iowa, by Frederick John Lazell


The yielding odorous soil is promiseful after its stubborn hardness of winter months and we watch it eagerly for the first herbaceous growth. Often this is one of the fern allies, the field horsetail.[Pg 82] The appearance of its warm, mushroom-colored, fertile stems is one of the first signs of returning spring, and its earliest stems are found in dry sandy places. The buds containing its fruiting cones have long been all complete, waiting for the first warm day, and when the start is finally made the tubered rootstocks, full of nutriment, send up the slender stem at the rate of two inches a day.

Humanity has always turned to nature for relief from toil and strife. This was true of the old world; it is much more true of the new, especially in recent years. There is a growing interest in wild things and wild places. The benedicite of the Druid woods, always appreciated by the few, like Lowell, is coming to be understood by the many. There is an increasing desire to get away from the roar and rattle of the streets, away from even the prim formality of suburban avenues and artificial bits of landscape gardening into the panorama of woodland, field, and stream. Men with means are disposing of their palatial residences in the cities and moving to real homes in the country, where they can see the sunrise and the death of day, hear the rhythm of the rain and the murmur of the wind, and watch the unfolding of the first flowers of spring. Cities are purchasing large parks where the beauties of nature are merely accentuated, not[Pg 10] marred. States and the nation are setting aside big tracts of wilderness where rock and rill, waterfall and cañon, mountain and marsh, shell-strewn beach and starry-blossomed brae, flowerful islets and wondrous wooded hills welcome the populace, soothe tired nerves and mend the mind and the morals. These are encouraging signs of the times. At last we are beginning to understand, with Emerson, that he who knows what sweets and virtues are in the ground, the waters, the plants, the heavens, and how to come at these enchantments, is the rich and royal man. It is as if some new prophet had arisen in the land, crying, "Ho, every one that is worn and weary, come ye to the woodlands; and he that hath no money let him feast upon those things which are really rich and abiding." While we are making New Year resolves let us resolve to spend less time with shams, more with realities; less with dogma, more with sermons in stones; less with erotic novels and baneful journals, more with the books in the running brooks; listening less readily to gossip and malice, more willingly to the tongues in trees; spending more pleasureful[Pg 11] hours with the music of bird and breeze, rippling rivers, and laughing leaves; less time with cues and cards and colored comics, more with cloud and star, fish and field, and forest. "The cares that infest the day" shall fall like the burden from Christian's back as we watch the fleecy clouds or the silver stars mirrored in the waveless waters. We shall call the constellations by their names and become on speaking terms with the luring voices of the forest fairyland. We shall "thrill with the resurrection called spring," and steep our senses in the fragrance of its flowers; glory in the gushing life of summer, sigh at the sweet sorrows of autumn, and wax virile in winter's strength of storm and snow.

During the last week in the month, when the dark maroon flowers of the elm and the crimson blossom of the red maples are giving a ruddy glow to the woods with the catkins of the cotton-woods, the aspens and the red birches adding to the color harmony, we shall look for the fuzzy scape of the hepatica, bringing up through the leaf carpet of the woods its single blue, white or pinkish flower, closely wrapped in warm gray furs. At the same time, perhaps a day or two earlier, the white oblong petals of the dwarf trillium, or wake-robin, will gleam in the rich woods. And some sunny day in the same period we shall see a gleam of gold in a sheltered nook, the first flower of the dandelion. A few days later and the light purple pasque-flower will unfold and gem the flush of new life on the northern prairies.[Pg 83] Even should the last week of the month be unseasonably cold we shall not have long to wait. Yet
"——a little while
And air, soil, wave, suffused shall be in softness, bloom and growth; a thousand forms shall rise
From these dead clods and chills, as from low burial graves,
Thine eyes, ears,—all thy best attributes,—all that takes cognizance of natural beauty,
Shall wake and fill. Thou shalt perceive the simple shows, the delicate miracles of earth
Dandelions, clover, the emerald grass, the early scents and flowers;
With these the robin, lark and thrush, singing their songs—the flitting bluebird;
For such scenes the annual play brings on."

Why did Bryant dwell so often on the theme of death in Nature? The reminders of death[Pg 46] are very few compared with the signs of life. Break off a twig from the aspen and taste the bark. The strong quinine flavor is like a spring tonic. Cut a branch of the black cherry, peel back the bark, and smell the pungent, bitter almond aroma, which of itself is enough to identify this tree. Every sense tells of life; the smell of the cherry, the taste of the aspen, the touch of the velvety mosses and the gummy buds on the poplars, the color of the twigs and buds, the music of the birds, all these say, "There is no death."

But all this is digression. The best time to begin keeping that New Year's nature resolution is now, when the oaks are seen in all their rugged majesty, when the elms display their lofty, graceful, vase-like forms, and when every other tree of the forest exhibits its peculiar beauty of trunk, and branch, and twig. Often January is a most propitious month for the tenderfoot nature-lover. Such was the year which has just passed. During the first part of the month the weather was almost springlike; so bright and balmy that a robin was seen in an apple-tree, and the brilliant plumage of the cardinal was observed in this latitude. Green leaves, such as wild geranium, strawberry and speedwell, were to be found in abundance beneath their covering of fallen forest leaves. Scouring rushes vied with evergreen ferns in arresting the attention of the rambler. In one sheltered spot a clump of catnip was[Pg 16] found, fresh, green, and aromatic, as if it were July instead of January.

The short winter day draws rapidly to a close and there is time for only a brief survey of the beauty of the upland trees. The fairy-like delicacy of the hop hornbeam, with its hop clusters and pointing catkins; the slender gracefulness of the chestnut oak; the Etruscan vase-like form of the white elm; the flaky bark and pungent, aromatic twigs of the black cherry; the massive, noble, silver-gray trunk of the white-oak; the lofty stateliness, filagree bark, and berry-like fruit of the hackberry; the black twigs of the black oaks, ashes, hickories and walnuts etched against the sky,—all these arrest your attention and retard your steps until the sun is near the horizon and you look over the tangled undergrowth of hazel, sumac, and briers, far through the trunks of the trees to the western sky which is bathed in flame color, as if from a forest fire.

Some Autumn Days in Iowa


Shakespeare makes Juliet say
"What's in a name That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet, "
But the lady was pleading for a lover and it is to
be feared there were loop-holes in her logic. Cer-
tainly the name basswood does not suggest any
poesy or beauty ; we think only of wood-fibre plas-
ter, wooden-ware, cheap furniture, or wood-carv-
ings. But mention lime or linden, which are other
names for the same tree, and we think of all the
poets and nature-lovers, Homer, Horace, Virgil,
and Pliny, to Tennyson, Lowell, Longfellow, and
Riley, who have sung about the lime and the lin-
den. The very name brings the fragrance of the
nectar-laden blossoms and the murmuring of the
honey-bees. Ovid's story of Baucis and Phile-
mon was once familiar to every schoolboy. When
the time came for that good couple to die Baucis
was changed to a linden while Philemon was
changed to an oak. Linneus was named from a
linden tree which stood near his father's home.
Herodotus mentions the linden tree, but its earl-
iest story is written in the tertiary rocks of the
far-away arctic circle. It belongs to one of the fine old families ' ' and it has never yet disgraced
the family name. Tilia Americana as the
scientists call it, is known in winter by its fat,
dark red buds. In the winter they shine like
rubies and in the spring they break into a vivid
green. As Tennyson says :
"A million emeralds break from the ruby-budded lime."

Fragrance in Literature-AN "ATTIC" PHILOSOPHER By EMILE SOUVESTRE



Émile Souvestre (April 15, 1806 – July 5, 1854) was a French novelist who was a native of Morlaix, Finistère.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%89mile_Souvestre

One may discover more about him at:
Wikipedia
Books by or About Emile Souvestre

AN "ATTIC" PHILOSOPHER
By EMILE SOUVESTRE



I am not surprised at hearing, when I awake, the birds singing so
joyfully outside my window; it is only by living, as they and I do, in a
top story, that one comes to know how cheerful the mornings really are up
among the roofs. It is there that the sun sends his first rays, and the
breeze comes with the fragrance of the gardens and woods; there that a
wandering butterfly sometimes ventures among the flowers of the attic,
and that the songs of the industrious work-woman welcome the dawn of day.
The lower stories are still deep in sleep, silence, and shadow, while
here labor, light, and song already reign.


It is now many years since I witnessed the celebration of the 'Fete
Dieu'; but should I again feel in it the happy sensations of former days?
I still remember how, when the procession had passed, I walked through
the streets strewed with flowers and shaded with green boughs. I felt
intoxicated by the lingering perfumes of the incense, mixed with the
fragrance of syringas, jessamine, and roses, and I seemed no longer to
touch the ground as I went along. I smiled at everything; the whole
world was Paradise in my eyes, and it seemed to me that God was floating
in the air!

The 'Fete Dieu' was then one of the great events of my life! It was
necessary to be diligent and obedient a long time beforehand, to deserve
to share in it. I still recollect with what raptures of expectation I
got up on the morning of the day. There was a holy joy in the air. The
neighbors, up earlier than usual, hung cloths with flowers or figures,
worked in tapestry, along the streets. I went from one to another, by
turns admiring religious scenes of the Middle Ages, mythological
compositions of the Renaissance, old battles in the style of Louis XIV,
and the Arcadias of Madame de Pompadour. All this world of phantoms
seemed to be coming forth from the dust of past ages, to assist--silent
and motionless--at the holy ceremony. I looked, alternately in fear and
wonder, at those terrible warriors with their swords always raised, those
beautiful huntresses shooting the arrow which never left the bow, and
those shepherds in satin breeches always playing the flute at the feet of
the perpetually smiling shepherdess. Sometimes, when the wind blew
behind these hanging pictures, it seemed to me that the figures
themselves moved, and I watched to see them detach themselves from the
wall, and take their places in the procession! But these impressions
were vague and transitory. The feeling that predominated over every
other was that of an overflowing yet quiet joy. In the midst of all the
floating draperies, the scattered flowers, the voices of the maidens, and
the gladness which, like a perfume, exhaled from everything, you felt
transported in spite of yourself. The joyful sounds of the festival were
repeated in your heart, in a thousand melodious echoes. You were more
indulgent, more holy, more loving! For God was not only manifesting
himself without, but also within us.


How much labor to bring in the desired harvest! For that, how many times
shall I see him brave cold or heat, wind or sun, as he does to-day! But
then, in the hot summer days, when the blinding dust whirls in clouds
through our streets, when the eye, dazzled by the glare of white stucco,
knows not where to rest, and the glowing roofs reflect their heat upon us
to burning, the old soldier will sit in his arbor and perceive nothing
but green leaves and flowers around him, and the breeze will come cool
and fresh to him through these perfumed shades. His assiduous care will
be rewarded at last.

The fine evenings are come back; the trees begin to put forth their
shoots; hyacinths, jonquils, violets, and lilacs perfume the baskets of
the flower-girls--all the world have begun their walks again on the quays
and boulevards. After dinner, I, too, descend from my attic to breathe
the evening air.

Frances perceived a colored saucer almost whole, of which she took
possession as a record of the visit she was making; henceforth she would
have a specimen of the Sevres china, "which is only made for kings!"
I would not undeceive her by telling her that the products of the
manufactory are sold all over the world, and that her saucer, before it
was cracked, was the same as those that are bought at the shops for
sixpence! Why should I destroy the illusions of her humble existence?
Are we to break down the hedge-flowers that perfume our paths? Things
are oftenest nothing in themselves; the thoughts we attach to them alone
give them value. To rectify innocent mistakes, in order to recover some
useless reality, is to be like those learned men who will see nothing in
a plant but the chemical elements of which it is composed.


Coffee is, so to say, just the mid-point between bodily and spiritual
nourishment. It acts agreeably, and at the same time, upon the senses
and the thoughts. Its very fragrance gives a sort of delightful activity
to the wits; it is a genius that lends wings to our fancy, and transports
it to the land of the Arabian Nights.

When I am buried in my old easy-chair, my feet on the fender before a
blazing fire, my ear soothed by the singing of the coffee-pot, which
seems to gossip with my fire-irons, the sense of smell gently excited by
the aroma of the Arabian bean, and my eyes shaded by my cap pulled down
over them, it often seems as if each cloud of the fragrant steam took a
distinct form. As in the mirages of the desert, in each as it rises, I
see some image of which my mind had been longing for the reality.


A ray of the rising sun lights up the little table on which I write; the
breeze brings me in the scent of the mignonette, and the swallows wheel
about my window with joyful twitterings. The image of my Uncle Maurice
will be in its proper place amid the songs, the sunshine, and the
fragrance.


My father was a slave all the week, and could call himself his own only
on Sunday. The master naturalist, who used to spend the day at the house
of an old female relative, then gave him his liberty on condition that he
dined out, and at his own expense. But my father used secretly to take
with him a crust of bread, which he hid in his botanizing-box, and,
leaving Paris as soon as it was day, he would wander far into the valley
of Montmorency, the wood of Meudon, or among the windings of the Marne.
Excited by the fresh air, the penetrating perfume of the growing
vegetation, or the fragrance of the honeysuckles, he would walk on until
hunger or fatigue made itself felt. Then he would sit under a hedge, or
by the side of a stream, and would make a rustic feast, by turns on
watercresses, wood strawberries, and blackberries picked from the hedges;
he would gather a few plants, read a few pages of Florian, then in
greatest vogue, of Gessner, who was just translated, or of Jean Jacques,
of whom he possessed three old volumes. The day was thus passed
alternately in activity and rest, in pursuit and meditation, until the
declining sun warned him to take again the road to Paris, where he would
arrive, his feet torn and dusty, but his mind invigorated for a whole
week.


August 20th, four o'clock A.M.--The dawn casts a red glow on my bed-
curtains; the breeze brings in the fragrance of the gardens below. Here
I am again leaning on my elbows by the windows, inhaling the freshness
and gladness of this first wakening of the day.

Pleasures of Old Age

We traversed meadows where flowery waves stirred
by the evening breeze undulated around us. The
smell of new-cut hay reached us from every side, and
the tinkling bells of the waggon-teams as they ap-
proached the solitary farms resounded from amidst
the woods.
Louise walked by my side, playing with the child
who became every moment more reassured and
waving at him her nosegay of wild flowers, which he
long tried in vain to lay hold of; but, profiting at
last by the momentary inattention of his playmate,
he leaned over my shoulder, stretched out his little
arm with surprising rapidity and caught the flowers,
bursting out into one of those peals of fresh and
triumphant laughter which are like the song of child-
hood. Louise had not succeeded in getting pos-
session of them again when we arrived at the farm-
house.

Then Virgil takes possession of my thoughts, and
conducts me through his magic landscapes ; I wander
with him on the lonely shore, where the stork
pursues her staid and solitary course beneath a sky
charged with storm-clouds; I penetrate some ancient
forest, where the crowded oaks intermingle their dark
shadows; I smell in the heavy air the dank and
baneful odours of the marshes; I hear re-echoed
beneath leafy domes the wild birds' shrill cry.
Soon, however, brighter scenes invite and attract
me; vast landscapes spread themselves out beneath
the fruitful rays of the sun : here I behold yellow
plains, where the ripe grain undulates with every
breeze, there prairies with herds grazing beside the
river as it flows between its low-lying banks ; pale
green willows and shrubs all glowing with their
purple berries, separate the various orchards, where
the husbandman is singing while he prunes his trees.
The bees hum in the blue expanse ; and, mingled
with the lowing of cattle, I hear the champing of
horses in their stables.

Nothing could be more delightful than our journey
here ; the air was fresh and bracing ; we saw the ear-
liest swallows of the year darting across the blue sky,
and uttering joyous cries on their arrival ; the blossoms
hung from the chesnut-trees, and the white hawthorn
covered the hedges with perfumed snow. Our vehicle
was drawn along by the horses at a steady trot, as if
on their return journey, and we were driven by a
grey-headed coachman. It was like the symbolic car
of old age leisurely crossing the kingdom of Spring.

To what injustice and to how many privations
such prejudices condemned me ! Since then nu-
merous social barriers have disappeared from my path,
and I gather golden grain from a far more extensive
field. The joys of the refined no longer impress and
attract me solely. In the midst of the barley-sugar
jars of the humble shopkeeper, I perceive and respond
to sentiments and emotions which refresh my heart.
I no longer restrict my walks to the stately avenues
of parks ; I explore also the city lanes, and reap there
an equally fruitful harvest of the soul ; the flower grow-
ing by the hedge-side has bright colours and healthful
odours, which do not delight me less than the softer
tints and more delicate perfumes of the hothouse
plant. And while I feel a larger sympathy myself, I
inspire also more in others. When I cordially ex-
tended my hand just now to Rene and his wife,
their eyes were moistened with tears. But stop it
seems to me that I have been composing a eulogy on
myself, though I protest that it is old age alone that
I have intended to honour. And, after all, it has
been the privilege of the aged from time immemorial
to talk about themselves with a certain degree of
consideration, for which they are not subjected to
much blame. Nestor, in the Iliad, rarely opens his
mouth excepting to congratulate himself on his
virtues; and Homer, instead of accusing the veteran
of excess or of boasting, declares that words sweeter
than honey flowed from his lips.

Hardly had I reclined motionless for a few mi-
nutes in my arm-chair before a light, as it were,
diffused itself over my dejected soul ; my spirits, for
the moment depressed, became gradually raised by
an inner and spontaneous power. I began to con-
template the objects that surround me, and with
which I am henceforth to live on almost exclusive
terms of intimacy, with a more attentive, more
sympathetic eye; and lo! everything has become
clothed with a fresh aspect, and with a charm pre-
viously unsuspected. The sun's rays which entered
my room by the open window and illumined the
carpet with a golden border, struck me as having a
brilliancy and a glory that I had never remarked
before. A pot of mignonette stands upon my desk,
on which formerly, before going out or on my re-
turn, I hardly bestowed a passing glance, now I
take a singular pleasure in examining it ; I look
with admiration, almost gratitude, towards this little
homely flower, which exhales its perfumed breath
around me with such generous profusion, with such
untiring energy.

May I venture to say it ? these days had been the
most delightful of my life. I breathed an atmo-
sphere filled at once with the last perfume of youth,
and the sense of security which is produced by
a career fully accomplished. We felt, at length,
that contentment of heart which results from the
combined experience of the ideal and the realities
of life that serenity which is sought in vain during
the fever of action and that disinterested appreciation
of life which enables us to enjoy it, because we ask
for no more than it can yield. A state of happiness,
alas ! too short lived. She, who had shared all my
contests in life, had ever concealed her own wounds.
I had seen her form gradually decline, almost without
taking account of it. At each new symptom of
failing health, her courage gained strength ; she hid
her pallor under smiles. More attentive to her person,
as time and suffering redoubled their attacks, she
nouri>hed my illusion by diverting my thoughts from
all causes for grief on her account, and strove to
spare me the bitter pang of anticipating an infinite
sorrow.

I have always felt music to be the complement of
language. It gives rise to certain sensations which
speech would leave unawakened, and expresses pecu-
liar shades of sentiment for which our dictionaries have
no words. It is not, as Beaumarchais says satirically,
" What is not worth the trouble of writing is sung,"
but rather what cannot be written or said. Hence the
charm that exists in that indefinite mode of expres-
sion ! Music is like the clouds of an autumnal sky,
in which we discover, one after the other, every image
that corresponds to our fancy. Each one conceives
his own poem during those transient melodies. The
notes seem insensibly to metamorphose themselves,
to take a visible form, and to glide before us like
visions.
Sometimes it is a fairy landscape which is evolved
slowly out of the harmonious chords. We MV th-
distant horizon spread itself out, the marble columns
rise- in order, and the crystal fountains sparkle in the
sun ; we hear the wind blow through the perfumed
heather ; the sun shines, the birds warble, a thousand
graceful forms glance forth from between the foliage.
We are in the gardens of Armida, or the palaces of
the Arabian Nights.


I shut the window, and sat down again, with my
forehead resting against the marble chimney-piece ;
my memory slowly remounting the stream of thirty
years, which has borne away on its bosom so many
relics of myself. Insensibly all the images of the
past revived, I saw myself again young, poor, and
devoted, as on the day when Louise and I had no
other resource than the invincible confidence of those
who believe and hope. These recollections passed
through my heart like a zephyr of spring across the
frozen earth. I felt my heart revive and soften, and,
rising up, I opened my writing-desk, and from a
secret drawer, known only to myself, took out a little
mother-of-pearl casket, which exhaled an odour of
roses. I felt as if breathing an atmosphere which
had encircled my youth. But, courage ! let me not
shrink from facing these souvenirs of happiness; let
me walk without a shudder amidst these fairy palaces,
which time has trampled into ruins ! But let us be
careful doubly to lock the door, so that none may
interrupt us in our examination.

I invoked a hearty blessing on that humble dwelling
whose master had found abundance in moderation,

H



PLEASURES OF OLD AGE.



power in dcvotedness, and contentment in loving
others; ami I long mused on the old man of Virgil,
whose happy life is passed among flowery banks where
the bees gather their plunder, and who, with his head
resting on his arm, listens to the distant songs of the
thrushes intermingled with the eooing of doves. Fasci-
nating dream which the poet of the Eclogues resumes
in the Georgics ; but a pagan dream after all, where
the joys of the soul are forgotten. May thy old man
sleep sweetly, Virgil, lulled by the rustling of leaves, and
the murmur of the neighbouring rills ! The sleep of
the aged Bouvier is still sweeter ; for in the midst of
the soothing voices of creation, he hears those which
whisper within himself, and recall the good he has
accomplished.
Upon my return I found the fire burning brightly
in the dining-room, and the cloth laid for
dinner. The walk had sharpened my appetite ; I
seat myself in my large arm-chair with my feet on the
fender. Before me is Father BouviePs nosegay, the
odour of which seems to diffuse the fresh country air
about the room; the glowing embers crackle at my feet;
the wind which has risen sounds along the passage,
and I hear in the next room the song of the canary,
who from his cage salutes the sun.
My soul unfolds itself in this atmosphere of har-
monious tranquillity ; I feel my brain revive, my heart
expand. Never in the days of strength and activity
have I experienced this perfect sense of peace, this
abandonment of myself to the sweet course of do-
mestic habits.


Leaves from a Family Journal


In the contents of this bureau, were united all the touch-
ing and pleasing reminiscences of her former life ; they
formed Marcelle's poetic arcliives^ whither she often retired
in her hours of solitude. Often, on my return from busi-
ness, I found her here, smiling, and seemingly perfumed by
memories of tbe past.

Saturday — was the sebond anniversary of our marriage.

I like these fetes in celebration of a serious act, or im-
portant epoch in life ; they bring with them, besides the
lingering perfume of. the past, a fresh access of joy and
tenderness ; and the heart, grown cold from habit, revives
at the warm touch of memory. To Marcelle and myself
this day could only bring a warmer glow of gratitude to
our hearts whilst mutually attributing to each other the
cause of our happiness.

March 20th. — ^The sun has begun to pierce his way
through the thick clouds of winter ; and to-day he shed
such refreshing rays upon our little garden, that Marcelle
and I were attracted into it, and we found the shrubs
beginning to bud, whilst the perfume of violets filled
the air.

This little comer of the earth is an abridgment of one
portion of the world's history ; almost every plant it con-
tains reminds one of some distant and dangerous expedi-
tion, or recalls some deservedly great name. Our fore-
fathers, before they obtained that vine, had to traverse
mountains, and watered with their blood the plains of .
Italy, from whence they bore it Lucullus penetrated into
the wilds of Asia with the Roman eagle ; and this lovely
flowering cherry-tree, which covers the fresh spring-verdure
with a perfumed snow, was the result. Those roses and
magnolias would never have ornamented our borders, if
that sublime fool called Christopher Columbus, had not
persisted in his determination to discover a new world!
And besides these mere transplantations, what new and
numerous varieties have been acquired by cultivation \
what countless productions have been called forth from
earth by man I Each day does his perseverance multiply
these holy triumphs, to the benefit of the whole human
race ; * and what victory is worthy of being compared to
them ! — a new root, which appeases the hunger of the mul-
fitude; an unknown flower, which eases suffering, are
surely more glorius trophies than any a conqueror can
boast ! Which, does it appear to you, has best fulfilled his
mission on earth — ^the man who does the most good, or he
who makes the most noise ?"

One summer's evening I returned home, worn and men-
tally wearied with a hard day's work. A refreshing breeze
was just be^nning to rise, after the overpowering heat of
the day, and whispered among the leaves, as it bore along
the perfume of a thousand flowers ; whilst the last rays of
tlie setting sun bathed the white houses in the suburbs with
a glittering flood of light My heart was swelling from the
long day's oppression, and feeling as though my feet had
wings, I hurried home.

He proposed that we should walk, as was his custom
when he felt the need of motion to calm his mind. We
went down to the nursery-ground, and wandered by moon-
light through its alleys. The flowering acacias perfumed
the air ; the sky glittered with innumerable stars, and the
sound of our footsteps was lost on the freshly-made paths.
In this manner we made made the round of the grounds, ex-
changing only, at long intervals, a few words ; whilst the
sole sounds which in the still evening met our ears, were
the distant rumbling of the market wagons, and the bark-
ing of a dog on a neighboring farm. At last, the church-
clock struck eleven: my father remembered that I had
others expecting me, and bid me good night
I returned slowly home.

On finding myself there again, surrounded by objects,, to
each of which belonged some sweet remembrance ; and as
the scent of " vetiyer," Marcelle's favorite perfume, saluted
me on entering, the flood of bitterness which had Again
risen in my heart subsided, and I drew near to Clara's cra-
dle, in which I heard her breathing softly. A moonbeam,
penetrating the light drapery, fell round her head in an
aureole of glory.

Our Married life had commenced, and this was Home.
As I opened my eyes in our new abode, the rays of the
morning sum were penetrating the muslin' curtains, the air
was filled with the fragrance of mignionette, and in the ad-
joining room I heard a loved voice warbling my favorite
air.