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these paintings, not only a promise of future excellence, but an excellence accomplished. In an old memorandum-book, kept in those days, is the following note, which we beg leave to transcribe.
“Two little war-scenes (Nos. 255 and 371), by Winslow Homer, – his first appearance in any academy. Mr. Homer calls his pictures • The Last Goose at Yorktown,' and · Home, Sweet Home.' The former represents a couple of Union boys cautiously approaching, on all fours, an overturned barrel, out of the farther end of which the wary goose is observed making a Banks-like retreat. A neat bit of humor, Mr. Homer. The second picture shows a Federal camp at supper-time. The band in the distance is supposed to be playing · Home, Sweet Home'; in the immediate foreground are two of the boys, one warming the coffee at the camp-fire, and the other dreamily watching the operation; but his heart is 'over the hills and far away,' for the suggestive music of the band has filled his eyes with visions of home. The different sentiments of the two incidents are worked out with gracious skill. The figures are full of character, but a trifle fresh in color, as is also the landscape."
Mr. Homer has greatly improved on his first war-pictures, admirable as they were, and has given us several careful works on more peaceful subjects than Zouaves and cavalry charges. Yet we think his transcripts of camplife, the battle-field, and the bivouac are the best exponents of his strength. It is to be hoped that his portfolio and his memory will afford him themes for many a noble picture illustrative of the most desperate struggle that the good knight Freedom ever had with the Prince of Darkness.
T. B. Aldrich.
FLOSS-HAIR ran out to play in the sunshine among the dandelions, 1 as she had played many an April morning before. Grandmamma watched her from the doorway where she sat spinning, - her little bright head in its halo of silky gold swaying and Aitting among the goldfinches, with a motion as bird-like and airy as theirs. Suddenly Floss-Hair made a hovering pause over the wavy grass-buds, and turned a questioning glance towards the doorway.
Grandmamma looked very lovely to Floss-Hair from where she stood. A silvery sunbeam had lighted up the motes that danced around her spinningwheel, so that she seemed to sit and spin behind a veil of gossamer; and in her gray dress, with her quiet eyes smiling out from under her white, smooth hair, she was more than beautiful : she might have sat for the picture of a saint.
Floss-Hair broke a downy seed-globe from its stalk, and blew it one, two, three times. The plumes fluttered around her in the air; not one was left on the stem. “Grandmamma wants me," she said, and ran back to the door.
“What was it stopped your play, little one?”
“Why, there is scarcely a dandelion left down there in the grass, where so many grew, and in their places are rows of round gray heads, standing up like ghosts. The lawn is not so pleasant as it used to be. Why need flowers die, grandmamma ?”
The soft eyes smiled a little more tenderly, in answer. “Did you see where the seed-feathers went, Floss-Hair, when you blew them from the stem ? "
“O, into the air, to sail off on the clouds, and be drowned in the sunset, perhaps.”
“No, no, dear ; some of them glided away to hide under the velvet grass of the lawn, where they will sleep all summer and all winter, and next spring will come out again, wide-awake young dandelions. And some hurried out to the road-sides and field-borders, where in years to come poor folk will seek their roots for food and medicine. And see there, — the yellow-birds are futtering over the dandelion-stems by dozens; they will take the gray plumes to weave into the lining of their nests, and hundreds of little, shivering bird-breasts will be thankful, another year, that the golden blossoms you like so well were changed to dandelion-down. It is better to be useful than pretty, pet: and you see that a flower's going to seed is only its last and best way of doing good.”
“So the dandelions are spinning silk to line bird's-nests with,” said FlossHair ; "and grandmamma sits and spins for me. Dear grandmamma, your hair is gray and soft, like dandelion-down, — I hope no cruel wind will ever blow you away from me.”
“But, little one, my hair was once all Aly-away gold, like yours. Call me Dandelion-Down, — the phantom of a little Floss-Hair that played among the meadow-blossoms seventy years ago."
“ No, no, grandmamma, I will not not call Dandelion-Down a ghost any more; it is a little, common, staring, yellow flower turned to an angel, scattering blessings about the world, like a white-haired grandmamma I know, who has kind thoughts always ready to give everybody. It is not a bad thing, after all, for dandelions and little girls to bloom and fade away. If people could only be sure of growing good and lovely as they grow old !” “Good is lovely, Floss-Hair," said grandmamma.
The next spring little Floss-Hair strayed silently among the dandelions, for the chair in the doorway was vacant, and the spinning-wheel was still. But the child's heart was not wholly sad. Her memory was a nest of warm and tender thoughts, that seemed fluttering back to her from the dear, silverhaired friend, now one of the white angels of heaven.
And Floss-Hair never forgot the last lesson her grandmamma taught her, while she was yet an earth-angel, - the beautiful lesson of the DandelionDown.
THUS Mr. Richard H. Stoddard, shut within the compass of hot brick
I walls, sung of summer in the country. I trust that few of my young readers are destined to be confined all this hot and dusty weather to the city ; that for most, if not all, even of the city-bred, there will be a few weeks by the sea, where the sound of the surf on the beach is cool and pleasant, or among the mountains, about whose tops refreshing breezes play in the sultriest weather, or some otherwhere away from the hurry and glare and heat of the busy town. Whether in country or in city, I venture to hope that those
with whom I chatted about May-Day will be disposed to sit down with me again for a little talk concerning Midsummer.
The early flowers of spring have passed away, — their places taken by other, perhaps less lovely blossoms. The orchards have cast their bloom, the young fruit usurping the places of the delicate pink and white blossoms. The early birds, having caught the first worms, and built their nests, and hatched their young, have ceased to sing their love-songs, and, in place of the continuous concert that made vocal the whole earth but a short time since, we have now the drone and hum of the numerous insect-life that the sun has warmed into being and motion everywhere, till
“There's never a blade or leaf too mean
To be some happy creature's palace.” The birds have not all ceased singing. In the early morning we have fitful strains of music from some enthusiastic songster, and there are some of our birds, particularly a little song-sparrow, that sing all summer. Bobolinks, too, (that shall presently become dusky, yellowish-brown, greedy birds, and, going south, be killed and eaten as reed-birds in Maryland, and rice-birds in Louisiana,) quiver and shiver over the meadows, sending forth that fantastic song of theirs, never to be imitated or described. A few robins, having started one young family in the world, are making arrangements for rearing another brood; and the bank-swallows dart in and out of their thick rows of holes in perpendicular sand-precipices.
Haying began with the month. By the way, our sturdy and downright Saxon ancestors, who had a blunt way of giving expressive names to things, called July “Haymonath.” June was styled by them variously “Woedmonath” or “ Weydmonath" (weed-month), “Medemonath” (meadowmonth), and Midsumormonath.” A verse, from a song pronounced by Mr. Leigh Hunt to be the oldest in the English language, runs :
“Summer is ycomin in,
Loud sing cuckoo;
And springeth the weed new.”
What perfume so refreshing and delightful as new-mown hay? I declare I consider it incomparably superior to “ Phalon's Night-Blooming Cereus,” or any, the most delicately scented pomade, or what not, that ever emanated from a barber's shop or the laboratory of the most cunning perfumer. But this has little to do with the haying.
If you are living in the country, you shall awake some morning with the sound of the sharp strokes of the whetstone on the scythe mingling with your dreams, and, looking from your window upon a fair green meadow, heavy with ripening grass, over which the early wind passes in long waves and beautiful undulations, you shall see stout men moving regularly forward, with a steady rhythmical swing and stride, leaving long, even swaths of fallen grass behind them. Then up and out, if you are an active boy or girl, and to
VOL. II. — NO. VII.
the hay-field, with a light fork to assist in turning the hay, or a rake to gather it into “windrows."
And I assure you there is rare sport in the hay-field. There are scores of field-mice which have been disturbed by the mowers. There is the pretty little common mouse, equally at home in the field or the granary; and there is a long-tailed, jumping mouse, as agile in his leaps, and as strong proportionately, as that curious creature, the Kangaroo. To chase and capture or kill these little animals do most boys most seriously incline; a quick, intelligent black-and-tan or Scotch terrier adding to the sport amazingly. Then you will doubtless find many of their nests, each with its store of blind and helpless little mice, all too feeble to follow the example of the three historical blind mice,
“Who all ran after the farmer's wife,
Who cut off their tails with the carving-knife.” In England they have a tiny creature known as the Harvest-Mouse, of which it takes six full-grown ones to weigh an ounce. This elegant and curious little animal builds a round, compact nest about the size of an ordinary cricket-ball, in the centre of which live its eight little ones. The nest, which is suspended on stalks of grass or grain a few inches from the ground, has no apparent opening, and it is still a question how the mother manages to get at her young to feed them, they being so closely packed within that their habitation may be rolled across the floor without disturbing them. Public attention was first called to this little quadruped by the Rev. Gilbert White, a naturalist of the latter part of the last century, whose “ Natural History of Selborne ” – a most charming book — I trust many of my young friends have read or will read.
Besides the mice in the hay-fields, there are moles, snakes, and the occasional nests of bobolinks and ground-sparrows (also of "yellow-jackets" and humble-bees, sometimes). Of the moles there is little to be said, save that their eyes are so small and so buried in the soft fur that most boys believe them to be blind. Also, one variety has a peculiar star-shaped excrescence on its nose, which is more useful to burrow with than beautiful to behold. For the snakes, they are perfectly harmless; and many of them, particularly a bright-green reptile, are really very pretty creatures, when one overcomes man's natural antipathy to the serpent.
In “making believe” to work a little, - or in really working, as some young folks do, – the morning passes, and noon comes on, flaming, sultry, and oppressive. The most striking description of a summer noon that I call to mind was written by the poet John Clare. It is so good that I venture to quote two stanzas: —
“The busy noise of man and brute
Is on a sudden hushed and mute;
Tired silence sinks in slumber deep;
And spider's threads, are standing still ;