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SOUTH DEVON— Cornhill Magazine.
1. Labyrinthine, indeed, are the lanes of South Devon to the stranger who wanders in them, hopelessly enclosed by lofty banks crowned with tall hedges, that twist in and out, and are interlaced by others, and circle round again under the blue spring sky, like the fabled stream that never blent its waters with the ocean. Passing beautiful, too, are they, filled with a
changeful loveliness of bright-coloured flowers and pendent ferns and darting dragon-flies; while creeping bindweeds knot themselves round gnarled oak-stems, with leaves more artistically cut than those of the acanthus, and berries, green, black, and red, like the wampum on an Indian warrior. Here the hedges almost meet overhead, and graceful festoons of flowers depend like lianas in a tropical forest, as you will see them nowhere else in England. There the bank on one side falls gently, and what a prospect opens on the view! Fair meadows bathed in sunshine, with the Otter river winding through them, He below; yonder are the red Devon steers grazing, up to their dewlaps in buttercups; beyond them dusky moors melt into purple haze, and every here and there you catch a glimpse of the far-off Tore on Dartmoor simmering in the mid-day glare. Then, again, the other side of our lane sinks abruptly, and the sea spreads out far below, with a white sail specking it here and there to take away from its oppressive infinity. And birds sing and bees hum amongst the bright yellow furze-flowers, and a stream that, like yourself, has lost its way, tinkles merrily adown the bank from the coppice. The lazy hawk hovering on your right does not even deem it needful to wheel off in alarm. So irresistible is Devon in her beauty that you fall in love at first sight, and may bo quite sure that, like every lovable maiden, the more you see of her the more will her unobtrusive gentleness endear her to you. • .
2. A glance at the physical features of the country shows how these picturesque lanes were formed. The aboriginal trackway over hill and dale, rudely marked out by stones laid at intervals, just as the Devon coastguardsmen still guide themselves over the cliffs at night by lines of stones so deposited, sank gradually into the soil. Mud from the path was flung on either side. Violent rains cut deep furrows in the road; during winter the path became a watercourse where it was not a bog; and this continued for centuries. Then came an age of improvement: the adjoining moor was divided from the road, after the native fashion, by banks of earth; trees and bushes took possession of them; and while every season washes the road away, every time the farmer mends his fences the banks above gain height. Thus each year deepens the lane. Frost often brings down one of these banks, which are topped by hedges, in some cases thirty feet above the traveller's head; and this " rougement," as they call it in Devon, must be replaced before the lane is passable, Bo that their depth Bcldom diminishes, and perpetually increases.
3. Many of these lanes are extremely ancient. Bound Dartmoor, especially, they go back to Celtic times, or, beyond them, to that dim pre-historic antiquity where even archaeology loses itself. Another feature which strikes the stranger besides their twistings up and down the hill - sides and their depth, is their narrowness. It is very difficult, and in many cases impossible, for one vehicle to pass another in them. Sometimes a gate has to be opened, and one or other must drive into the field; sometimes by waiting in a more open space it is just possible for the coming vehicle to graze by. When the great man of the country drives in them he has outriders to clear the way for him. This narrow roadway gives the history of locomotion in Devon. Originally these lanes would only be traversed by foot-passengers and beasts of burden, the predecessors of the pack-horses, laden with "crooks" of faggots or furze, so often met in them at the present day. Then came the broadest view on the subject of transport our forefathers could hold. The curious narrow wain, without wheels, consisting of a rough body, drawn on two thick shafts which rest on the ground behind, came into vogue. Specimens of it may still be seen in use on the hill farms.
4. Autumn brings a beauty of its own to these quiet lanes. Heather and golden gorse stray from the moorland down their banks—the last bright flowers of the year—just as two or three purple and pink cloud-flakes often linger in the west long after a glorious sunset. The tall hedges are a tangle of convolvulus and honeysuckle, filling the calm evening hours with fragrance. Midday, which, sooth to say, is during July somewhat oppressive in these still retreats, has now its own clear, sharp breeze. Deeper shades of red and yellow are passing over the leaves. You may often meet here two or three bare-armed children from the cottage on the hill-side, staring at you with round blue eyes as they gather blackberries, which have left numerous specimens of natureprinting on their cheeks. The biggest boy maybe stands on a donkey's back under the nut-trees, clutching at their treasures, with no fear of the patient animal beneath him moving on. Mother is far away on the moors gathering "worts" (whortleberries), to sell to visitors at the neighbouring seaside village. Home life is very uneventful to these cottagers. The children tell you, "Vather be to the zyder-press," and this answer will apply equally well to him, good honest man, any day from August to November.
SPELL AND PRONOUNCE—
labyrinth ine, like a labyrinth, or intricate maze.
interlaced', here, crossed.
acan'thus, the plant bear's-breech^fom akautha, Greek, a thorn.
wam'pum, email beads
festoons', garlands or
lia nas, hanging ropes
abruptly, suddenly, steeply.
oppres'sive, burdensome, painful.
irresist ible, that cannot be opposed,
unobtru'sive, modest, retiring.
aboriginal, primitive, or rude, here, made by the earliest inhabitants.
aatiQ'uity, former ages.
archeeol'offy, the science of antiquity.
Tor, a high-pointed hill (old English).
coa s tgu ards'men,
men in the revenue ser-
deposited, laid down,
Celt ic, relating to the
ve'hicle, a wheeled con-
locomo tion, moving from one place to another.
predeces'sors, those going before others in time.
From PARADISE AND THE PERL—Thomas Moore.
Thomas Moore was the son of a small tradesman in Dublin. Having attended the University in that city, he left Ireland, and thenceforth (after a visit to America) lived chiefly in London. His longer poems are brilliant but artificial—his shorter onos, light, airy, melodious, and elegant. The following extract is from his poem of u Lalla Bookh."
While thus she mused, her pinions fann'd
With human blood—the smell of death
Downward the Peri turns her gaze,
Alone, beside his native river,
And the last arrow in his quiver.
And when the rush of war was past,
Of morning light, she caught the last—
"I3(! this, ' nho cried, as she wing'd her flight,
On the field of warfare, blood like this,
For Liberty shed, so holy is,
That sparkles among the towers of bliss!
"Sweet," said the Angel, as she gave
Tho gift into his radiant haud,
Who die thus for their native land—
SPELL AND PRONOUNCE—
hcavon, and now live in
tro'phies, proofs of victory.
liba'tion, an offering poured out on an altar.
THE SUN AND THE EARTH.—Professor Balfour Stewart, F.R.S.
1. I Will first of all ask you to accompany me into a place with which wc are all more or less familial-—I mean the room in which an engine does its work. Perhaps we are struck with the vast display of power before us, and with the noise and tumult that are the accompaniments of such power j for, in truth, an engine is a great worker, and we are none of us slow to take advantage of the fruits of its industry. The engine will probably be a steam-engine; it may possibly be an air engine; at any rate it will be a heat engine. Now, what are the conditions under which such an engine works? In all engines two things are necessary. We must first of all have a hot chamber; then we must have a cold chamber, and the engine will produce work in the process of