Puslapio vaizdai

opened a school. From there he removed to Grasmere, and finally to Nab Cottage, on the banks of Rydal Water, where he spent the rest of his days. He had no enemy but himself, nor was he so great an enemy to himself as another might have been in his place; for whatever his life was at times, his heart was always tender and loving, and his genius pure and beautiful. Tempted, suffering, repentant, he died in his fifty-fourth year, and was buried by the side of Wordsworth. "Let him lie with us." said the old poet; "he would have wished it."

of poets, and which justified the intellectual relationship that one of her admirers claimed for her, when he christened her "Shakspere's Daughter." Her earliest sonnets (for it is her sonnets alone that concern us here), which were published in the second of her two volumes of collected poems, in 1844, are remarkable productions. They are all, if I remember rightly, of the legitimate Italian construction, which Mrs. Browning (then Miss Elizabeth Barrett) was too accomplished a scholar to despise, and on that account are entitled to high praise as art-work among the clumsy quatorzains of her contemporaries; but they are exceedingly provoking, they are so strained and harsh, and so negligent of the minor morals of verse. They were followed about two years later (in point of composition I mean) by a series of personal sonnets, which are the noblest ever written-I will not say by a woman, which might sound invidious-but by anybody. I refer to the series of forty-four, in which she confessed the impassioned secrets of her heart, when it was first touched to its finest issues, and which were finally given to the world as "From the Portuguese." Never before was there such revealment of the depths of woman's nature, such recognition of the divine necessity of love. The sonnets of Petrarch are artificial in comparison, and those of Shakspere, magnificent as they are, should be read before, and not after them, to be fully enjoyed. She has surpassed her English and Italian masters, in that she has written the one great personal poem of all time. All honor, then, to this glorious. woman, who has so grandly completed the third century of the English sonnet.

If the irregular life of Hartley Coleridge left its impress on his writings, it did not impair the clearness of his mental vision, nor the exquisite finish of his workmanship. If it saddened his sensitive nature, it did not make him morbid, or unjust to others. There is a grace, a sweetness, a sense of shy, secluded beauty in his sonnets, which separate him from the poets of his time as surely as the odes of Collins separate him from the versifiers of his time, and which have given him an enduring though not a lofty place among the sonneteers of England.

The last half of the third century of the English sonnet need not detain us, for, amid the multitude of singers who have illustrated it, I find but one who seems to me to rank with the great masters of this species of composition, Mrs. Browning. Nearly twenty years have passed since this lady closed her eyes to earthly things in the Italian home she loved so well. She has had successors of her own sex, but none who has proved worthy to fill the high place from which she was stricken. She possessed an intense, fiery nature, which allied her to the greatest


feet, gradually ascending toward the south and descending toward the north. The grandis forms the lower portion of the belt, the amabilis the upper, while the middle is made up of about equal numbers of both species.

In its young days, Picea grandis is a strikingly symmetrical tree, holding itself strictly erect, with its branches regularly whorled in level collars around the whitish-gray axis, which terminates in a strong, hopeful shoot. The leaves are put on in two horizontal



(Picea grandis.)

WE come

now to the most regularly planted of all the forest belts, composed almost exclusively of two magnificent firs, Picea grandis and Picea amabilis. It extends, with no marked interruption, for four hundred miles, at an elevation near the middle of the range of from five thousand five hundred to eight thousand five hundred

VOL. XXII.-72.

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double or otherwise irregular from accidents to the terminal bud or shoot; but throughout all the vicissitudes of its life on the mountains, come what may, the noble grandeur of the species is patent to every eye.



(Picea amabilis.)

THIS is the most exactly beautiful tree in the Sierra woods, far surpassing its companion species in this respect, and easily distinguished from it by the purplish-red bark, which is also more closely furrowed than that of the Grand, and by its larger cones, more regularly whorled and fronded branches, and by its leaves, which are shorter, and grow all around the branchlets and point upward.

In size, the two species are about equal, the amabilis perhaps a little the taller. Specimens from two hundred to two hundred and fifty feet high are not rare on well-ground moraine soil, at an elevation of from seven thousand five hundred to eight thousand five hundred feet above sea-level. The largest that I measured stands back three miles from the brink of the north wall of Yosemite Valley. Five years ago it was two hundred and forty feet high, with a diameter of a little more than five feet.

Happy is the man with the freedom and the love to climb a silver-fir in full flower and fruit. How admirable the forest-work of Nature is then seen to be, as one makes

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his way up through the midst of the broad, fronded branches, all arranged in exquisite order around the trunk like the whorled leaves of lilies, and each branch and branchlet about as strictly pinnate as the most symmetrical fern-frond. The staminate cones are seen growing straight downward from the under side of the young branches in lavish profusion, making fine lines of rosy purple amid the grayish-green foliage. On the topmost branches are found the fertile cones, set firmly on end like small casks. They are about six inches long, three wide, covered with a fine gray down, and streaked with delicious crystal balsam that seems to have been poured upon each cone from above.

Both of the silver-firs live to a good old age-two hundred and fifty years or more when the conditions about them are at all favorable. Some venerable patriarch may often be seen, heavily storm-marked, towering in severe majesty above the rising generation, with a protecting grove of saplings pressing close around his feet, each dressed with such loving care that not a leaf seems wanting. Other companies are made up of trees near the prime of life, exquisitely harmonized to one another in form and gesture, as if Nature had culled them one

by one with nice discrimination from all the rest of the woods.

It is from this tree, called red-fir by the lumberman, that mountaineers always cut boughs to sleep on when they are so fortunate as to be within its limits. Two rows of the plushy branches overlapping along the middle, and a crescent of smaller plumes for a pillow, curving inward at the tips, form the very best bed imaginable. The essences of the pressed leaves seem to fill every pore of one's body, the sounds of falling water heard near and far make a soothing hush, while the ferny arches overhead, two hundred feet high, afford noble openings through which to gaze and dream into the deep, starry sky. Even in the matter of sensuous ease, any combination of cloth, steel springs, and feathers seems vulgar in comparison.

The fir woods are delightful saunteringgrounds any time of year, but most so in autumn. Then the noble trees are hushed in the warm, spicy light, and dripping with balsam; the cones are ripe, and the seeds, with their ample purple wings, mottle the air like flocks of butterflies; while deer feeding in the flowery openings between the groves, and birds and squirrels in the branches, make a pleasant stir, which

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(Pinus contorta.)

THIS species forms the bulk of the alpine forests, extending along the range, above the fir-belt, up to a height of from eight thousand to nine thousand five hundred feet above the level of the sea, and growing in beautiful order upon moraines that are scarce at all changed as yet by post-glacial weathering. Compared with the giants of the lower zones, this is a small tree, seldom attaining a height of a hundred feet. The largest specimen I ever measured was ninety feet in height, and a little over six in diameter four feet from the ground. The average height of mature trees throughout the entire belt is probably not far from fifty or sixty feet, with a diameter of two feet six inches. It is a well-proportioned, rather handsome little pine, with grayish-brown bark, and crooked, much-divided branches, which cover the greater portion of the trunk, not so densely, however, as to prevent its being seen. The lower limbs curve downward, gradually take a horizontal position about half-way up the trunk, then aspire more and more toward the summit, thus forming a sharp, conical top. The foliage is short and rigid, two leaves in a fascicle, arranged in comparatively long, cylindrical tassels at the ends of the tough, upcurving branches. The cones are about two inches long, growing in stiff clusters among the needles, without making any striking effect, excepting while they are very young, when they are of a vivid crimson color, and the whole tree appears to be dotted with brilliant flowers. The sterile cones are still more showy, on account of their greater abundance, often giving a reddish-yellow tinge to the whole mass of the foliage, and filling the air with pollen.

No other pine on the range is so regularly planted as this one. Moraine forests sweep along the sides of the high, rocky

valleys for miles without a single interruption; still, strictly speaking, they are not dense, for flecks of sunshine and flowers find their way into the darkest places, where the trees grow tallest and closest together. Tall, nutritious grasses are specially abundant, growing over all the ground, in sunshine and shade, like a farmer's crop, and serving as pasture for a multitude of sheep that are driven from the arid plains every summer as soon as the snow is melted.

The two-leaved pine, more than any other, is subject to destruction by fire. The thin bark is streaked and sprinkled with resin, as if it had been showered down upon it like rain, so that even the green, fresh trees catch fire very readily, and during strong winds whole forests are destroyed, the flames leaping from tree to tree, and forming one continuous belt, that goes surging and racing onward above the bending woods, like the grass-fires of a prairie. During the calm, dry season of Indiansummer, the fire creeps quietly along the ground, feeding on the dry needles and burs; then, arriving at the foot of a tree, the resiny bark is ignited, and the heated air ascends in a powerful current, continually increasing in velocity, and dragging the flames swiftly upward; then the leaves catch fire, and an immense column of flame,

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beautifully spired on the edges, and tinted a rose-purple hue, rushes aloft thirty or forty feet above the top of the tree, forming a grand spectacle, especially on a dark night. It lasts, however, only a few seconds, vanishing with magical rapidity, to be succeeded along the fire-line at irregular intervals by others-tree after tree flashing and darkening for weeks at a time, and leaving the trunks and branches hardly scarred. The heat, however, is sufficient to kill the trees, and in a few years the bark shrivels and falls off. Belts miles in extent are thus killed and left standing with the branches on, peeled and rigid, appearing gray in the distance, like a misty cloud. Later, the branches drop off, leaving a forest of bleached spars. At length the roots decay, and the forlorn trunks are blown down during some storm, and piled one upon another, until they are consumed by the next fire, and leave the ground ready for a fresh



The endurance of the species is shown by its wandering occasionally out over the lava plains with the yellow-pine, and climbing moraineless mountain-sides with the dwarfpine, clinging to any chance support in rifts and crevices of storm-beaten rocks-always, however, showing the effects of such hardships in every feature.

Down in sheltered lake-hollows, on beds of rich alluvium, it varies so far from the common form as frequently to be taken for a distinct species. Here it grows in dense sods like grasses, from forty to eighty feet high, bending all together to the breeze, and whirling in eddying gusts more lithely than any other tree in the woods. I have frequently found specimens fifty feet high less than five inches in diameter. Being thus slender, and at the same time well clad with leafy boughs, at least near the top, they are oftentimes bent to the ground when laden with soft snow, forming beautiful arches in endless variety, some of which last until the melting of the snow in spring.

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(Pinus monticola.)

THE mountain-pine is king of the alpine woods; brave, hardy, and long-lived; towering grandly above its companions, and becoming stronger and more imposing just where other species begin to crouch and disappear. At its best it is usually about ninety feet high and five or six in diameter, though a specimen is often met considerably larger than this. The trunk is as massive and as suggestive of enduring strength as that of an oak. About twothirds of the trunk is commonly free of limbs, but close, fringy tufts of sprays occur all the way down, like those which adorn the colossal shafts of Sequoia. The bark is deep reddish brown upon trees that occupy exposed situations near its upper limit, and furrowed rather deeply, the main furrows running nearly parallel with each other, and connected by conspicuous cross furrows, which, with one exception, are, as far as I have noticed, peculiar to this species.

The cones are from four to eight inches long, slender, cylindrical, and somewhat curved, resembling those of the common white-pine of the Atlantic coast. They grow in clusters of about from three to six or seven, becoming pendulous as they increase in weight, chiefly by the bending of the branches.

This species is quite nearly related to the

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