England

A few pairs of black swans have been placed upon the river. Some of these rear broods of young ones, and appear to be quite acclimatised. The black swan was known to the traders of our own East India Company nearly a century before Captain Cook and Sir Joseph Banks discovered Botany Bay. The first notice of it appears in a letter, written about the year 1698, by a Mr. Watson to Dr. M. Lister, in which he says, "Here is returned a ship which by our East India Company was sent to the South Land, called Hollandia Nova," and adds that black swans, parrots, and many sea-cows were found there.

  "Now when you've caught your chavender, 
    (Your chavender or chub) 
  You hie you to your pavender, 
    (Your pavender or pub), 
  And there you lie in lavender, 
    (Sweet lavender or lub)."

  Mr. Punch.

A friend informs me that he has found a quantity of woad growing on the Chilterns above the Thame, enough to stain blue a whole tribe of ancient Britons, and also that on a wall by the roadside between Reading and Pangbourne he discovered several plants of the deadly nightshade, or "dwale." This word is said to be derived from Old French deuil, mourning; but its present form looks very English.

Down near Thames mouth is the curious reclamation from the river mud known as Canvey Island. It is separated from the land by a "fleet," in which the Danes are recorded to have laid up their ships in the early period of their invasions, and the village opposite on the mainland is called Benfleet. Though on the river, it is a half-marine place, with the typical sea-plants growing on the saltings by the shore. In summer I noticed that the graves below the grey sea-eaten, storm-furrowed walls of the church have wreaths of sea-lavender laid upon them.

Thames plants must strike every one as belonging to an ancient order of life. But the vast clouds of winged ephemeridae that dance over its waters when there is a rise of "May-fly" in early summer look to be not only the creatures of a day, but of our day.

Almost the greatest loss to country scenery is the decay of the ancient windmills and water-mills. The first has robbed the hilltops of a most picturesque feature, while in the valleys and little glens the roaring, creaking, dripping wheel sounds no longer, except in favoured spots where it still pays to grind the corn in the old way. The old town and city mills often survived longer than the country ones, and those on the Thames longer than those on smaller rivers.

Mary Boyle, in "Her Book," speaking of the time when her father had an appointment at the Navy Board and a residence in Somerset House, says, "It was our great delight to go by water on Sunday afternoon to Westminster Abbey, and there is no doubt we occasionally cut a grand figure on the river; for when my father went out he had a splendid barge, rowed by boatmen clad entirely in scarlet, with black jockey caps, such as in those picturesque old days formed part of that beautiful river procession in honour of the Lord Mayor, on the 9th of November, over the disappearance of which pageant I h

Fond as the butterflies are of the light and sun, they dearly love their beds. Like most fashionable people who do nothing, they stay there very late. But their unwillingness to get up in the morning is equalled by their equal desire to leave the world and its pleasures early and be asleep in good time. They are the first of all our creatures to seek repose.

In the Vision of the Lots and Lives, when the souls chose their careers on a fresh register before taking another chance in the world above, Ulysses chose that of a stay-at-home proprietor, with a resolve, born of experience, never again to roam. If Plato had made a Myth of the Birds, he might have alleged some such reason to explain how it is that while most of them are incessant wanderers, ever flitting uncertain between momentary points of rest, so few remain fixed and constant, as if they had sworn at some distant date never more to make trial of the wine-dark sea.

A movement is on foot among various societies interested in the preservation of outdoor England to take measures jointly for the protection of the beauties of the Thames. The subject is one which attracts more interest yearly, and the time has now come when the nation should make up its mind on the subject of such splendid properties as it possesses in "real estate" like the Thames and the New Forest, with especial regard to their value for beauty and enjoyment. It would be unfair to expect too much from the Thames Conservancy in this direction.

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