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THE HEATHER.

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THE HEATHER. The purple of the heather is on our hills again, and to all lovers of the mountains its coming must be dear. To students of nature the year is made up of many zones, and not the least favoured is that to which the heath is faithful. Its presence makes us think it would be no hard penance to join the wool- gatherers in their gleaning, and while amass- ing wealth, on a miniature scale, lay in a store of health for the body and delight for the fancy. It is the genuine wool-gatherers to whom allusion is here made—strong-armed matrons of the Cardiganshire wilds, good- hearted, smiling-faced, sturdy lasses, not that more hapless hand to whom to be compared is no especial compliment! These model wool-gatherers found it even in this current year of 1889 worth their while to go out week by week, and win from gone-bush and broom, from hedge hank and boglands, wool that the sheep had been obliging enough to leave sus- pended there for their benefit, ere yielding themselves up to the hand of the shearer. But that was in earlier months than these, when the nut-like fragrance of the heather was yet to seek, and we must follow the sportsman now if we want the excuse of a practical motive for taking our pastime on the hills. To watch the bees might be to some a dearer object, seeing the fascination those well-armed little Pharisees exert over sundry well-bdanced minds, to whom their sting seems no objection. But the custom that obtains in some counties of setting the hives iu the heather during the flower season does not find much favour in the Principality, so they must be studit-d without adventitious aids. Go to the mountains for what we will, bow- ever, no cleaner-faced blossom than the heath .ever welcomes ns there. Bright as toys the tufts stand on the turf-banks, and the purity and homeliness that characterise them near turn to majesty when we see them massed in .e imperial purple, and spreading away in the distance. Which things araan allegory not the only instance by many that simplicity and grandeur are found to be identical, and beauty of harmony and holiness the certain result. Not even to that patriot of the pen who has written down Scotland as the special land of brown heath and shaggy wood do we yield in love of the heather, and that sportsman is no sportsman who can follow the game from morning dews till evening with no thought for its beauty as he treads it under foot. For a sportsman to come up to the ideal must be made up of as many ingredients as the poet in Rasselas," and, indeed, be that poet to a certain extent. •; Alas for those who never sing, But die with all their music in them is, after all; a morbid lament, born chiefly of the error of supposing poetry to be confined [ p '5 to a verse that trots decourously on all fours, and rhymes to the echo. But Taliesin took a different view. I have been," he writes, in many shapes before I attained a congenial form. I have been a boat on the sea, I have been a director in battle, I have been a sword in the hand, I have been the string of a harp. There is nothing in which I have not been." And if we moderns have not found out that poetry can lie in a gun and brace of setters, in the climb up a crag, in the stride of a hunter over the turf, we are not worthy to be called his countrymen. And is there not good luck among the heather no less than popti-yl Is not white heath the bringer of happy fortune—golden days? Yes, and may the pair who linked their fates together in July truly find it so. For did not Lord Fife on his marriage morning send those fair white blossoms to his chosen Princess, and may we not hope that that little offering of romance was not given in vain ?

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