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bone. Who ever before saw such enormous plum-puddings? Surely they have eaten enough. Why that broad-shouldered, sun-burnt fellow, has clapped a solid pound upon his plateit is burning-hot: look how he holds that large lump, and blows it between his teeth ; the tears fairly start into his eyes. Where are those legs of mutton ? the chines, and sirloins, and edge-bones of beef ?-Gone, for ever gone. And now come the custards, and cheese-cakes, and tarts. The men will assuredly burst: see, they unloosen their neckerchiefs, their waistcoats, as if they were going to begin again in downright earnest. Every man seems as if he had brought the appetite of three.
It is a poor heart that never rejoices.” And when we think of the many bleak bitter nights, at the close of February and the beginning of March, which the shepherds have passed in the open fields and on the windy hills in the “ lambing season,” it gives one pleasure to see them still so happy. Many a lamb would have been lost but for the care they took of them : for there they waited night after night, amid sleet and storm, in their little temporary huts, ready to rush out in a moment, and pick up and shelter the young lambs, which would otherwise perchance have perished in the cold. Proud were they when finer days came, and they looked on and saw their new-born flocks, as Bloomfield has described them in his beautiful
Farmer's Boy,” racing in the meadows :
poem of the
“ A few begin a short but vigorous race,
And indolence abashed soon flies the place ;
Like the fond dove, from fearful prison freed,
Now let us peep into that pretty parlour. There sit the farmer's daughters at tea. What piles of cakes, honey, butter, eggs, ham, cold fowl! What smiling faces; and some of them are really beautiful,-pictures of rosy health. . Now they are singing in the kitchen ; now the fiddle is heard in the barn ; there is giggling and laughter in the orchard; whisperings somewhere in the garden; children playing at hide-and-seek in the stack-yard. See where those dark-eyed seducers, the gipsies, have congregated outside the farm-yard—somehow or another they have come in for their share of the feast : by-and-by they will become bolder; one bearing a child will venture into the barn, another will follow, and as the ale-horn circulates, it will, long before midnight, be “ hail fellow well met.”
Then come the morris-dancers, Robin Hood and Maid Marian, with such poetry as is not to be found in the old ballads. Well, there is plenty for all: the ale for sheepshearing feast was brewed many a long month ago, and there are still half-a-dozen barrels untapped in the cellar.
But where is the old farmer?-he bade his men fall too, and welcome, and we have not seen him since. No; he is in the large, old-fashioned summer-house at the bottom of his garden, with the butcher, and the miller, and the maltster, and the doctor, and the landlord from the Black Bull ;
and they have drawn the corks of a few bottles of choice
young lawyer has brought his fiddle, for he is a gentleman-fiddler, and the young ladies in the parlour will come soon, and dance on the lawn,—for even there the line of distinction is drawn. The wealthy farmer's daughter may condescend just to dance a turn or two in the barn ; and when they have gone, the old one-eyed hired common fiddler will strike up “ Bob and Joan;" just to show his contempt for such “proud, stuck-up thingumterrys," as he will call them; “with their waltzes and quadrilles, and such like outlandish fal-the-rals, as their grandmothers would have been ashamed to have been seen in."
But a few old-fashioned farmers, with their wives, soon drop in, and all is forgotten. The world has undergone a great change since Shakspere's time: even in our own day we have seen many an alteration : and, saving the county in which we were born, we know not another spot in England that would read SHAKSPERE AND SHEEP-SHEARING.
“ Crowned with her pail, the tripping milkmaid sings ;
The whistling ploughman stalks afield : and, hark !
Slow tolls the village-clock the drowsy hour ;
HERE we are at Gracechurch Street (why did they alter the fine old name of Gracious Street—but we will not quarrel about that now). What a lovely summer's morning! Let us jump up on the outside of this Camberwell
omnibus ; we can ride all the way from the city of London to the Fox-under-the-Hill for sixpence, and that is a good step beyond Camberwell Green. Be careful how you get down ; the omnibus goes no further this way, so there is no occasion to hurry—there are other conveyances to Dulwich and Norwood, but we are going to walk across the fields. The first turning to the left is Champion Hill, and in that direction we will bend our course. Yes, it is
beautiful here—we are in the country at once.
What a scene opens upon us, and we have not yet walked half-a-mile! Woods, green fields, beautiful hills, sloping down into rich pasturelands, houses nestling in sweet shady spots—and all burst upon the view in an instant ! We never yet brought a stranger here who was not startled by the sudden opening of this delicious scene. This is called Five-field Lane; across those fields, at the bottom of it, over rude stiles and pleasant foot-paths, which will bend out a little to the right, is the old rural pathway to the ancient village of Dulwich. Here we might fancy ourselves a hundred miles from London. What rude primitive stiles ! Look at the young couple before us—nay, let us turn our heads, or the young lady will never get over. How cheering is the ring of her silvery laugh! I 'll be sworn she never leant so heavily upon her lover before ; and she fell with her face upon his, as if by accident, and then said, Adone, William, do." All these hedges were white over, a month ago,
with the blossoms of the hawthorn ; the very air was redolent of their perfume. We turn off here. You see that clump of trees at the bottom of the field beyond us, to the left ? They overhang a pond, around which grows hundreds of bluebells. We know no spot so near London as this where they are to be found wild. They love moist and shady places. The lower part of the woods, which we see in the