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and brought out its pale yellow-green flowers in the sombre boughs. Last night, a great fly, the last in the house, buzzed into my candle. I detest flies, but I was sorry for his scorched wings; the fly itself hateful, its wings so beautifully made. I have sometimes picked a feather from the dirt of the road and placed it on the grass. It is contrary to one's feelings to see so beautiful a thing lying in the mud. Towards my window now, as I write, there comes suddenly a shower of yellow leaves, wrested out by main force from the high elms; the blue sky behind them, they droop slowly, borne onward, twirling, fluttering towards me-a cloud of autumn butterflies.

A spring rises on the summit of a green brow that overlooks the meadows for miles. The spot is not really very high, still it is the highest ground in that direction for a long distance, and it seems singular to find water on the top of the hill, a thing common enough, but still sufficiently opposed to general impressions to appear remarkable. In this shallow water, says a faint story-far off, faint, and uncertain, like the murmur of a distant cascade-two ladies and some soldiers lost their lives. The brow is defended by thick bramble-bushes, which bore a fine crop of blackberries that autumn, to the delight of the boys; and these bushes partly conceal the sharpness of the short descent. But once your attention is drawn to it, you see that it has all the appearance of having been artificially sloped, like a rampart, or rather a glacis. The grass is green and the sward soft, being moistened by the spring, except in one spot, where the grass is burnt up under the heat of the

summer sun, indicating the existence of foundations beneath.

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There is a beautiful view from this spot; but leaving that now, and wandering on among the fields, presently you may find a meadow of peculiar shape, extremely long and narrow, half a mile long, perhaps ; and this the folk will tell you was the King's Drive, or ride. Stories there are, too, of subterranean passages there are always such stories in the neighbourhood of ancient buildings-I remember one, said to be three miles long; it led to an abbey. The lane leads on, bordered with high hawthorn hedges, and occasionally a stout hawthorn tree, hardy and twisted by the strong hands of the passing years; thick now with red haws, and the haunt of the redwings, whose "chuck-chuck" is heard every minute; but the birds themselves always perch on the outer side of the hedge. They are not far ahead, but they always keep on the safe side, flying on twenty yards or so, but never coming to my side.

The little pond, which in summer was green with weed, is now yellow with the fallen hawthorn-leaves; the pond is choked with them. The lane has been slowly descending; and now, on looking through a gateway, an ancient building stands up on the hill, sharply defined against the sky. It is the banqueting hall of a palace of old times, in which kings and princes once sat at their meat after the chase. This is the centre of those dim stories which float like haze over the meadows around. Many a wild red stag has been carried thither after the hunt, and many a wild boar slain in the glades of the forest.

The acorns are dropping now as they dropped five centuries since, in the days when the wild boars fed so greedily upon them; the oaks are broadly touched with brown; the bramble thickets in which the boars hid, green, but strewn with the leaves that have fallen from the lofty trees. Though meadow, arable, and hop-fields hold now the place of the forest, a goodly remnant remains, for every hedge is full of oak and elm and ash; maple too, and the lesser bushes. At a little distance, so thick are the trees, the whole country appears a wood, and it is easy to see what a forest it must have been centuries ago.

The Prince leaving the grim walls of the Tower of London by the Water-gate, and dropping but a short way down with the tide, could mount his horse on the opposite bank, and reach his palace here, in the midst of the thickest woods and wildest country, in half an hour. Thence every morning setting forth upon the chase, he could pass the day in joyous labours, and the evening in feasting, still within call -almost within sound of horn-of the Tower, if any weighty matter demanded his presence.

In our time, the great city has widened out, and comes at this day down to within three miles of the hunting-palace. There still intervenes a narrow space between the last house of London and the ancient Forest Hall, a space of corn-field and meadow; the last house, for although not nominally London, there is no break of continuity in the bricks and mortar thence to London Bridge. London is within a stone'sthrow, as it were, and yet, to this day the forest lingers, and it is country. The very atmosphere is

different. That smoky thickness characteristic of the suburbs ceases as you ascend the gradual rise, and leave the outpost of bricks and mortar behind. The air becomes clear and strong, till on the brow by the spring on a windy day it is almost like sea-air. It comes over the trees, over the hills, and is sweet with the touch of grass and leaf. There is no gas, no sulphurous acid in that. As the Edwards and Henries breathed it centuries since, so it can be inhaled now. The sun that shone on the red deer is as bright now as then; the berries are thick on the bushes; there is colour in the leaf. The forest is gone; but the spirit of nature stays, and can be found by those who search for it. Dearly as I love the open air, I cannot regret the medieval days. I do not wish them back again; I would sooner fight in the foremost ranks of Time. Nor do we need them, for the spirit of nature stays, and will always be here, no matter to how high a pinnacle of thought the human mind may attain; still the sweet air, and the hills, and the sea, and the sun, will always be with us.


THE road comes straight from London, which is but a very short distance off, within a walk, yet the village it passes is thoroughly a village, and not suburban, not in the least like Sydenham, or Croydon, or Balham, or Norwood, as perfect a village in every sense as if it stood fifty miles in the country. There is one long street, just as would be found in the far west, with fields at each end. But through this long street, and on and out into the open, is continually pouring the human living undergrowth of that vast forest of life, London. The nondescript inhabitants of the thousand and one nameless streets of the unknown east are great travellers, and come forth into the country by this main desert route. For what end? Why this tramping and ceaseless movement? what do they buy, what do they sell, how do they live? They pass through the village street and out into the country in an endless stream on the shutter on wheels. This is the true London vehicle, the characteristic conveyance, as characteristic as the Russian droshky, the gondola at Venice, or the caique at Stamboul. It is the camel of the London desert routes; routes which run right through civilization, but of which daily paper civilization is ignorant.

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