Treasures of Aromatic Literature-the writings of Richard Jefferies/English Naturalist

Treasures of Aromatic Literature-the writings of Richard Jefferies/English Naturalist

The beeches and oaks become fewer as the ground rises, there are wide spaces of bracken and little woods or copses, every one of which is called a ' shaw.' Then come the firs, whose crowded spires, each touching each, succeed for miles, and cover the hill-side with a solid mass of green. They seem so close together, so thickened and matted, impenetrable to footsteps, like a mound of earth rather than woods, a solid block of wood; but there are ways that wind through and space between the taller trunks when you come near. The odour of firs is variable; sometimes it fills the air, sometimes it is absent altogether, and doubtless depends upon certain conditions of the atmosphere. A very small pinch of the fresh shoot is pleasant to taste; these shoots, eaten constantly, were once considered to cure chest disease, and to this day science endeavours by various forms of inhalations from fir products to check that malady. Common rural experience, as with the cow-pox, has often laid the basis of medical treatment. Certain it is that it is extremely pleasant and grateful to breathe the sweet fragrance of the fir deep in the woods, listening to the soft caressing sound of the wind that passes high overhead. The willow-wren sings, but his voice and that of the wind seem to give emphasis to the holy and meditative silence. The mystery of nature and life hover about the columned temple of the forest. The secret is always behind a tree, as of old time it was always behind the pillar of the temple. Still higher, and as the firs cease, and shower and sunshine, wind and dew, can reach the ground unchecked, comes the tufted heath and branched heather of the moorland top. A thousand acres of purple heath sloping southwards to the sun, deep valleys of dark heather; further slopes beyond of purple, more valleys of heather—the heath shows more in the sunlight, and heather darkens the shadow of the hollows—and so on and on, mile after mile, till the heath-bells seem to end in the sunset. Round and beyond is the immense plain of the air— you feel how limitless the air is at this height, for there is nothing to measure it by. Past the weald lie the South Downs, but they form no boundary, the plain of the air goes over them to the sea and space.
Field and hedgerow: being the last essays of Richard Jefferies
By Richard Jefferies

But the breeze comes, and ere the rattle of the wheels and cogs has died away, the fragrance of the flowers and green things has reasserted itself. Such a sunny slumber, and such a fragrance of flowers, both wild and cultivated, have dwelt round and over the place these 200 years, and mayhap before that. It is perhaps a fancy only, yet I think that where men and nature have dwelt side by side time out of mind there is a sense of a presence, a genius of the spot, a haunting sweetness and loveliness not elsewhere to be found. The most lavish expenditure, even when guided by true taste, cannot produce this feeling about a modern dwelling.
Wild life in a southern country
By Richard Jefferies

Here, where the ground slopes gradually, it is entirely covered with the purple bells; a sheen and gleam of purple light plays upon it. A fragrance of sweet honey floats up from the flowers where grey hive-bees are busy. Ascending still higher and crossing the summit, the ground almost suddenly falls away in a steep descent, and the entire hill side, seen at a glance, is covered with heath, and heath alone. A bunch at the very edge offers a purple cushion fit for a king; resting here a delicious summer breeze, passing over miles and miles of fields and woods yonder, comes straight from the distant hills.

Along those hills the lines of darker green are woods; there are woods to the south, and west, and east, heath around, and in the rear the gaze travels over the tops of the endless firs. But southwards is sweetest; below, beyond the verge of the heath, the corn begins, and waves in the wind. It is the breeze that makes the summer day so lovely.
Nature near London
By Richard Jefferies

The fragrance of the dew, invisibly evaporating, filled the air she breathed. From sweet-green hawthorn leaves, from heavy grasses drooping, the glittering drops dissolving brought with them the odour of leaf and flower. The larks, long since up, had sung the atmosphere clear of the faint white mist left by the night.
The dewy morn: a novel, Volume 1
By Richard Jefferies

The tall green trees shut out all but a narrow lane of sky, azure, but darkening; not the faintest breath of moving air relieved the sultry brooding heat of the summer twilight. From the firs came a fragrance, filling the atmosphere with a sweet resinous odour. The sap exuding through the bark formed in white viscous drops upon the trunks. Indolently reclining, half drowsy in the heat, he could see deep into the wood, along on the level ground between the stems, for the fallen 'needles' checked vegetation. A squirrel gambolled hither and thither in this hollow space; with darting rapid movements it came towards him, and then suddenly shot up a fir and was instantly out of sight among the thick foliage. In the stillness he could hear the tearing of the fibres of grass as the grey fed near. A hare came stealing up the track, with the peculiar shuffling, cunning gait they have when rambling as they deem unwatched. Limping slowly, 'Wat' stayed to choose tit-bits among the grass—so near that when an insect tickled him and he shook his head Geoffrey heard the tips of his ears flap together. Daintily he pushed his nose among the tussocks, then craned his neck and looked into the thickets. Where the track turned at the bend the shadows crept out, toning down the twilight with mystic uncertainty.
Greene Ferne farm
By Richard Jefferies

'It's indoors, sir, as kills half the people ; being indoors three parts of the day, and next to that taking too much drink and vittals. Eating's as bad as drinking; and there ain't nothing like fresh air and the smell of the woods. You should come out here in the spring, when the oak timber is throwed (because, you see, the sap be rising, and the bark strips then), and just sit down on a stick fresh peeled—I means a trunk, you know— and sniff up the scent of that there oak-bark. It goes right down your throat, and preserves your lungs as the tan do leather. And I've heard say as folk who work in the tan-yards never have no illness. There's always a smell from the trees, dead or living. I could tell what wood a log was in the dark by my nose ; and the air is better where the woods be. The ladies up in the great house sometimes goes out into the fir plantations—the turpentine scents strong, you see—and they say it's good for the chest; but, bless you, you must live in it. People go abroad, I'm told, to live in the pine forests to cure 'em: I say these here oaks have got every bit as much good in that way.
Richard Jefferies, his life and work
By Edward Thomas

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

In spring the ground here is hidden by a verdant growth, out of which presently the anemone lifts its chaste flower. Then the wild hyacinths hang their blue bells so thickly that, glancing between the poles, it is hazy with color; and in the evening, if the level beams of the red sun can reach them, here and there a streak of imperial purple plays upon the azure. Woodbine coils round the tall straight poles, and wild hops, whose bloom emit a pleasant smell if crushed in the fingers. On the upper and clearer branches of the hawthorn the nightingale sings — more sweetly, I think, in the freshness of the spring morning than at night. Resting quietly on an ashstole, with the scent of flowers, and the odor of green buds and leaves, a ray of sunlight yonder lighting up the lichen and the moss on the oak trunk, a gentle air stirring in the branches above, giving glimpses of fleecy clouds sailing in the ether, there comes into the mind a feeling of intense joy in the simple fact of living.
An English village: A new ed. of Wild life in a southern county
By Richard Jefferies

Sometimes the green tips of the highest boughs seemed gilded, the light laid a gold on the green. Or the "trees bowed to a stormy wind roaring through them, the grass threw itself down, and in the east broad curtains of a rosy tint stretched along. The light was turned to redness in the vapour, and rain hid the summit of the hill. In the rush and roar of the stormy wind the same exaltation, the same desire, lifted me for a moment. I went there every morning, I could not exactly define why; it was like going to a rose bush to taste the scent of the flower and feel the dew from its petals on the lips. But I desired the beauty—the inner subtle meaning—to be in me, that I might have it, and with it an existence of a higher kind.
The story of my heart: My autobiography
By Richard Jefferies

There is a broad streak of bright-yellow charlock—in the open arable field beyond the Common. It lights up the level landscape; the glance falls on it immediately. Field beans are in flower, and their scent comes sweet even through the dust of the Derby Day. Red heads of trifolium dot the ground; the vetches have long since been out, and are so still; along the hedges parsley forms a white fringe.
The toilers of the field
By Richard Jefferies


And so our wild flowers of the copse, the meadows, and the downs have about each and all of them a human aroma—an odour of the Past. They have with them the associations from our childhood, when we played amongst them, gathered them by multitudes in sport. They bring with them strange tales of centuries since, when knights wore them on their helmets, when ladies rode a-hawking over them. They have a history, or rather a mythology, of their own. Pierce's instructions were that they should not disdain the humblest—not even the buttercup and the daisy—and he wanted, too, the very grasses, each and all.
Restless human hearts: a novel, Volume 1
By Richard Jefferies

Another time there would come a letter from one of the Flammas in London. Could they spare a little bag of lavender?—they grew such lovely sweet lavender at Coombe Oaks. Then you might see Mr. and Mrs. Iden cooing and billing, soft as turtle-doves, and fraternising in the garden over the lavender hedge. Here was another side, you see, to the story.
Mrs. Iden was very fond of lavender, the scent, and the plant in every form. She kept little bags of it in all her drawers, and everything at Coombe Oaks upstairs in the bedrooms had a faint, delicious lavender perfume. There is nothing else that smells so sweet and clean and dry. You cannot imagine a damp sheet smelling of lavender.
Iden himself liked lavender, and used to rub it between his finger and thumb in the garden, as he did, too, with the black-currant leaves and walnutleaves, if he fancied anything he had touched might have left an unpleasant odour adhering to his skin. He said it cleaned his hands as much as washing them.
Iden liked Mrs. Iden to like lavender because his mother had been so fond of it, and all the sixteen carved oak-presses which had been so familiar to him in boyhood were full of a thick atmosphere of the plant.
Amaryllis at the fair: a novel
By Richard Jefferies

Sweet is the rain the wind brings to the wallflower browned in the heat, a-dry on the crumbling stone. Pleasant the sunbeams to the marigold when the wind has carried the rain away and his sun-disc glows on the bank. Acres of perfume come on the wind from the black and white of the bean-field ; the firs fill the air by the copse with perfume. I know nothing to which the wind has not some happy use.
Field and hedgerow: being the last essays of Richard Jefferies
By Richard Jefferies

Farther up the stream, where a hawthorn bush shelters ity stands a knotted fig-wort with a square stem and many branches, each with small velvety flowers. If handled, the leaves emit a strong odour, like the leaves of the elder-bush; it is a coarse-growing plant, and occasionally reaches to a height of between four and five feet, with a stem more than half an inch square. Some ditches are full of it. By the rushes the long purple spike of the loose-strife rises, and on the mudbanks among the willows there grows a tall plant with bunches of flower, the petals a bright yellow: this is the yellow loose-strife. Near it is a herb with a much-divided leaf, and curious flowers like small yellow buttons. Rub one of these gently, and it will give forth a most peculiar perfume—aromatic, and not to be compared with anything else ; the tansy once scented will always be recognised.
Round about a great estate
By John Richard Jefferies

Sometimes in early June the bright trifolium, drooping with its weight of flower, brushes against the passer-by—acre after acre of purple. Occasionally the odour of beans in blossom floats out over the river. Again, above the green wheat the larks rise, singing as they soar; or later on the butterflies wander over the yellow ears. Or, as the law of rotation dictates, the barley whitens under the sun. Still, whether in the dry day, or under the dewy moonlight, the plain stretching from the water to the hills is never without perfume, colour, or song.
Nature near London
By Richard Jefferies