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by which in remote geologic ages the Thames Valley was cavated.*
Looking, then, at these stupendous operations of Nature which lie under our own common observation in the suburbs of London, what insight do we gain into the economy and history of the earth's surface! Of how many elevations, which, like those we have been studying at Hampstead, were monuments of a past world-surface now broken up and destroyed, might it have been said—
The hills are shadows, and they flee
From form to form and nothing stands;
They melt like mist the solid lands,
Like clouds they shape themselves and go.
These discoveries and these reflections, together with a bag of minerals and specimens of coloured sands we have collected, well reward us for our Saturday afternoon at Hampstead Heath.
* In looking from Hampstead (or any other eminence that affords a view of the Thames near London,) for the V-shape of the typical valley, it is to be remembered that the Southern slope of the Thames Valley has been broken up by subterranean convulsions (that took place when the land-surface of this part of England was acquiring its present drainagesystem and landscape-contours), so that
but little approach to the V-shaped excavation which the word valley conveys is now to be discovered on the Southern side of the Thames. But the hills that are left-Shooter's Hill more obviously than Norwoodstand up out of the ruins to tell of the once continuous summit-line of the valley-slope on the Kent and Surrey side of the river.
LONDON PARK AND FOREST TREES.
For June is full of invitations sweet.
'Tis good to lie beneath a tree,
While the blithe season comforts every sense,
Steeps all the brain in rest,
Brimming it o'er with sweetness unawares.
Under the Willows.-J. R. LOWELL.
UR suburban explorations on the Saturday afternoon have hitherto engaged us on the underside phenomena and mysteries of the ground beneath us.
We have begun an acquaintance, to be continued hereafter, with the underlying worlds of fossil creatures-organic forms of beauty, of terror, or of wonder; and have had some glimpses far back into the "speechless past" of our venerable earth's long history. But how different the aspect, and how opposite the charm which never-resting Nature
Great Nature! ever young yet full of eld!
has provided since the first afternoon of our rambles! It was the month of the still lingering winter, when from beneath the ribs of death the earth began feebly to send up her tentacles in search of the sunlight. How transfigured now is the landscape, with its blossoming hedge-rows, its leafy woodlands, its ample vesture of verdant grass, which everywhere conceals and adorns the aged world! This Spring-time of floral birth is daily dedicating new beauties to the sun, and inspiring once more the grateful strain—
THOU renewest the face of the earth!
To some of us Londoners, who have been used in earlier years to "walk the woodland aisles among," it is one of the freshest delights of the returning Spring to renew our acquaintance with our forest trees. True, there are other resources than those of tranquil Nature to beguile our Saturday Half-holiday hours. But how many among us are unequal to the muscular sports to which,
for the most part, the newer generation of men in London devote their Saturday's leisure? The less robust and the sedentary give themselves in a quiet way to such rural rambles as ours. At the end of the week they want rest and solace for the brain. They feel, with the author of Under the Willows, that—
But their out-door pleasures are of a soothing and restful kind.
Let us away, then, this Saturday of early June, from the stony rattle of the City to some tranquil purlieu of Nature. Without aspiring to be botanical, or perplexing ourselves with technical names, let us take up the rights which vest in us as unlearned and ordinary mortals, and claim our inheritance in the trees of the landscape. For how many of us have yet done this with intelligence and insight? How long shall it be to the discredit of modern English society that so few of us are able to distinguish, as we walk the rural highway or the woodland, the half-dozen species of our commoner park and forest trees; to read in the physiognomy or the leaf of the individual, the tribe to which it belongs? There are many, doubtless, who can tell an oak from a hornbeam (especially if they see the acorn); many, again, can easily distinguish the horse chestnut (particularly when it is in blossom). But what of the poplars (other than the spiral Lombardy, which is not the commonest form)? What of the sycamore, maple, and plane, the willows, the alders, the birches, and the elms? What of our glorious pines, in these northern latitudes the " 'princes of vegetable nature," as Linnæus has said of the palm-trees of the tropics? Of our evergreen grandiflora, as well as of our deciduous trees, what charms still remain to tempt or to shame us into study, admiration, and delight! Then whilst the foliage in park and forest is still umbrageous and vivid, let us give an afternoon to atone for the neglect of the past! Let us enter some leafy cathedral through whose lofty clerestory the sun shall glint athwart with
an emerald ray, in whose aisles we may be tranquil and cool, while winged voices hold choral service around!
The air and the soils around London are favourable for almost all our English park and forest trees.* The deciduous and the ever-green trees alike—the elm, the chestnut, the oak, and their congeners, that dress and undress with the season, and the sombre pines and cedars-take root cordially and tenaciously in the loam, the gravel, or clay, around London. Where shall we go, then, that we may have these favourite trees of our environs all within reach for comparison? "To the Bois de Boulogne," satirically remarks some friend, fresh from those two thousand acres of wild wood, pleasure garden, and lake.† Well, we have not got our Bois de Boulogne; but let us resort to one of those London Parks which inspired the conception of the Bois in the mind of Napoleon III. Let us away to the majestic chestnuts and elms of our Kensington Gardens. The place is no mean one in comparison, nor is it meanly circumscribed. It is three hundred acres in extent, it forms a continuous chain with three other parks that occupy nearly five hundred acres, and is virtually in one area with them.
From Cheapside, then, to our Royal London parks and Kensington Gardens. As we descend Ludgate Hill, let us turn for a moment to look at the majestic plane-tree in Stationers' Hall Court. It was planted by Mr. Broome, of the Temple Gardens, some thirtyfive years since. It is a notable and valuable tree, to which we will return on another occasion. The young poplars ("Dutch balsams"), the small elms, and the planes around St. Clement Danes Church are the next trees on our route. Now we pass those queer samples of city arboriculture, the standard bay-trees in tubs in Trafalgar Square! They stand among the granite capstan posts— a juxtaposition strange and toy-like.
St. James's Park is full of trees of interest for both the ordinary visitor, the landscape gardener, and the botanist. Let us tell you at once what trees you look for in vain. You will not find here a pine or a beech, and we believe not an oak. Poplar trees of the most opposite varieties are the peculiar features of St. James's
*The scarcity in our parks and suburbs of that genuine forester, the
beech, is perhaps most to be regretted. + Written in the year 1869.
Park, and the trees most worthy our observation. We once made a list of a dozen varieties of the poplar on the south side of the ornamental water. Now, the chief lesson we shall get here is one of unlearning. How common the impression that the name "poplar" applies only to the tall and spiry tree of erect and towering branches. The "Lombardy poplar" is the name by which this spire-shaped one should always be called. Now look, by way of contrast, at that group of trees that stand by the lake in front of the New Foreign Office. Their contour is curved and round, their branches are pendulous and weeping. Their drooping form reminds you of that congener of the poplars, the familiar willow, that
Grows aslant the brook
And shows his hoar leaves in the glassy stream.
But the remarkable group before us are poplars-poplars of the Caucasus, introduced into this country in the year 1816. But if the date of these is recent, we must not imagine that the spire-shaped tree is the ancestor of all the varieties of poplar. On the contrary, the Lombardy poplar was only introduced from Italy to England in the last century-in the year 1758. It was only, then, from this recent date that it has begun to diversify our landscapes, giving that air to them which no other tree so well supplies. Good authorities tell us that it is only a modern variety of the good "old English Black," its widely-branching parent.
Let us now round the east end of this lake in St. James's Park, and gain the southern bank, for there the poplars are in still greater show. Here is a tree labelled "The maple-leaved white poplar." This again is a wide-branching tree, and utterly unlike in contour to the familiar spiry Lombardy poplar. which lines the under-side of the leaf, and which made the tree famous in ancient times. Even as we look, it
Whitens fitfully with sudden bloom
Observe the downy white
Of leaves breeze-lifted, much as when a shoa
Lurks balanced 'neath the lily-pads, and whirl
Here in St. James's Park is other entertainment than the poplars. The lake is alive with fish and fowl. Here are carp and roach and gudgeon; and the pugnacious stickle-backs infest the lake in