« PrécédentContinuer »
understand the true reason why farmers and nurserymen lay up their lands in high ridges during the winter months. The good effects of that operation are wholly attributed to the mechanical action of the frost upon the ground. Light soils, as well as the tough ones, may be exposed in high ridges, but with some limitation, in order to imitate the mud walls in Germany, which are found, by experience, to collect considerable quantities of nitre during the winter. After saying so much in praise of nitre, it will be expected that we should produce some proofs of its efficacy, when used as manure. We must confess that experiments do not give us any such proofs. Perhaps too large a quantity has been used; or rather, it could not be restored to the earth with its particles, so minutely divided, as when it remained united with the soil, by means of the chemistry of nature. We shall, therefore, consider this nitrous acid, or as philosophers call it, the acidum vagum, in the light of a vivifying principle, with whose operation we are not fully acquainted.
A curious observer will remark, that there subsists a strong analogy between plants and animals. Oil and water seem to make up the nourishment of both. Earth enters very little into the composition of either. It is known that animals take in a great many earthy particles at the mouth, but they are soon discharged by urine or stool. Vegetables take in the smallest portion imaginable of earth, and the reason is, because they have no way to discharge it. It is highly probable that the radical fibres of plants take up their nourishment from the earth, in the same manner that the lacteal vessels absorb the nutriment from the intestines : and as the oily and watery parts of our food are perfectly united into a milky liquor, by means of the spittle, pancreatic juice, and bile, before they enter the lacteals, we have all the reason imaginable to keep up the analogy, and suppose that the oleaginous and watery parts of the soil are also incorporated, previously to their being taken up by the absorbing vessels of the plant. To form a perfect judgment of this, we must reflect that every soil, in a state of nature, has in itself a quantity of absorbent earth, sufficient to incorporate its inherent oil and water ; but when we load it with fat manures, it becomes essentially necessary to bestow upon it, at the same time, something to assimilate the parts. Lime, soap ashes, kelp, marl, and all the alkaline substances, perform that office. In order to render this operation visible to the senses, dissolve one drachm of Russia potash in four ounces of water ; then add one spoonful of oil. Shake the mixture, and it will instantly become an uniform mass of a whitish colour, adapted to all the purposes of vegetation. This easy and familiar experiment is a just representation of what happens after the operation of burn-baking, and consequently may be considered as a confirmation of the hypothesis advanced.
Let us attend to the process. The sward being reduced to ashes, a fixed alkaline salt is produced. The moisture of the atmosphere soon
reduces that salt into a fluid state, which, mixing with the soil, brings about an union of the oily and watery parts, in the manner demonstrated by the experiment. When the under stratum consists of a rich vegetable mould, the effects of burn-baking will be lasting. But when the soil happens to be thin and poor, the first crop frequently suffers before it arrives at maturity. The farmer, therefore, who is at the expense of paring and burning a thin soil, should bestow upon it a portion of rotten dung, or shambles manure, before the ashes are spread, in order to supply the deficiency of oily particles. In consequence of this prudent management the crop will be supported during its growth, and the land will be preserved in health and vigour.
Hitherto we have considered plants as nourished by their roots; but they are also nourished by their leaves. An attention to this part of the vegetable system is essentially necessary. Vegetables, that have a succulent leaf, such as vetches, peas, beans, and buck wheat, draw a great part of their nourishment from the air, and on thag account impoverish the soil less than wheat, oats, barley, or rye, the leaves of which are of a firmer texture. Rape and hemp are oil-bearing plants, and, consequently, impoverishers of the soil; but the former less so than the latter, owing to the greater succulency of its leaf. The leaves of all kind of grain are succulent for the time, during which period the plants take little from the earth ; but as soon as the ear begins to be formed they lose their softness, and diminish in their attractive power. The radical fibres are then more vigorously employed in extracting the oily particles of the earth for the nourishment of the seed.
SPECIMENS OF THE VOCAL POETRY OF FRANCE.
The song has always been popular among our lively neighbours. Tacitus says of the ancient Gauls : “ Cantilenis infortunia sua solantur," — they console themselves in misfortune by singing. Every one knows that the metrical romances of the Troubadours, called “Les Fabliaux,” constituted the original poetry of France, nor has the polish of modern language rendered those old productions discordant to the ear of taste. Henry the Fourth was no mean composer, and sang the charms of the beautiful Gabrielle in verse worthy of her tenderness. The refinement of the court of Louis the Fourteenth carried this style of lyrical poetry to perfection. It degenerated under the regency, when the profligate Orleans outraged the modest decencies of life by the bacchanalian orgies of the Palais Royal, and his infamous minister, Cardinal Dubois, sanctioned impiety by his irreligious example. The characteristic of French songs is gallantry, though in our days Beranger has tuned his sweet and animating lyre to patriotism and liberty. His works are too familiar to require any
notice from us. We shall endeavour to cull a few of the neglected flowers from the garden of song, or, if not neglected, comparatively unknown.
We commence our selection from La Fontaine. He addressed the following to a young female relation, twelve years of age, who had sent him some juvenile verses.
Le doux langage des soupirs
Est pour vous lettre close ;
Paule, trois retours des zéphyrs
Elles seraient parfaites.
Si cet enfant, dans vos chansons,
A des grâces naives,
Que sera-ce quand ces leçons
Seront un peu plus vive!
Pour aider l'esprit en ses vers
Le ceur est nécessaire,
Trois printemps sur autant d'hivers Mais j'espère vous voir un jour
Font beaucoup à l'affaire.
We select another beautiful sample from the lyrical ballads of La Fontaine, which forms part of the romance of Psyché, and which the French critics consider a chef d'æuvre.
Sans cet amour tant d'objets ravissants
Et leurs plaisirs sont moins doux que ses Des jeunes caurs c'est le suprême bien : peines. Aimez, aimez, tout le reste n'est rien. Des jeunes cœurs c'est le suprême bien,
Aimez, aimez, tout le reste n'est rien.
La Fontaine places these stanzas in the mouth of love. Whichever of 'the two composed them, whether Cupid himself or La Fontaine, they are worthy of their author.
The following couplet, which is anonymous, is an imitation of the beautiful lines of the Pastor Fido, so often quoted and so often translated. We insert the original with the French imitation. Se'l peccar e si dolce
De la nature un doux penchant
Et l'on dit que la loi défend
D'avoir une maîtresse.
Mais la nature est faible en soi,
Ou bien la loi trop dure :
Ou changez la nature.
We annex another translation of the same verses of Guarini, much more literal and faithful, but by no means so pleasing to our minds.
Sans doute, ou la nature est imparfaite en soi,
Ou la loi doit sembler trop dure,
The Abbé Pellegrin condensed the idea of Guarini into one line, and the preceding couplet may be considered as a paraphrase or amplification of this single verse.
Dieux ! changez la nature, ou revoquez la loi.
The following bacchanalian claims M. Malezieux for its author. He was the captain Morris of the age of Louis the Sixteenth. We have often beard it sung and admired in the salons of Paris, but the only merit we ever saw in it makes its appearance in the concluding lines of the second stanza. We leave our readers to judge.
Trève aux chansons, ne vous déplaise ;
Quand il faut arranger des mots.
Parmi les verres et les pots La liberté jusqu'au langage.
Evitons toute servitude,
De rimailler hors de saison.
Quand il faut perdre la raison,
We are pleased with the wit and philosophy of the following, by M. De Coulange, on the origin of nobility.
D'Adam nous sommes tous enfants,
La preuve en est connue,
Ont mené la charrue.
La terre labourée,
L'autre l'après dinée.
Jean Baptiste Rousseau, usually called the poet Rousseau, to distinguish him from his philosophic namesake, is the author of the following, copied from La Fontaine's fable of Tircis and Amarante.
Arrêtez, jeune bergère,
Un amant vous fait-il peur ?
C'est de vous tirer d'erreur.
Le plaisir et le bonheur ;
Lui rend la gloire et l'honneur.
Sera bientôt effacé.
Quand le printemps est passé.
D'avoir pitié de son mal.
Qu'au profit de son rival.
The following is by the Abbé de Lattaignant, who, during thirty years enjoyed a much higher reputation as a “chansonnièr" than as a “prédiCateur.” He has left to posterity four volumes of songs
indifferent merit. We select a somewhat curious one, the idea being purely financial, and it is a rarity to find the lyric muse in the company of Cocker.
Vous me devez depuis deux ans
Je vous les ai gagnés à l'ombre.
Vous en augmenterez le nombre
Trente baisers, charmante Iris,
Valent bien cinq baisers de rente
Dix d'intérêt joints à ces trente
Et le principal, et la rente ;
Si vous en êtes refusante,
Our next specimen is a matrimonial lamentation, and the sentiments expressed lead us to conclude that it proceeds from a female pen.
We are satisfied that there is much truth in it, and that husbands in general deserve the censure of the poetess. We claim, however, exemption for ourselves, and as we propose shortly to explain our opinions on marriage, on the proper education of women, and on the undue and illiberal assumption of the male sex, we shall then prove that we have a right to this exception.
Un amant léger, frivole,
Le font choisir pour époux.
Il faut déjà filer doux.
Sitôt que du mariage
Plaisirs, talens, tout s'enfuit.
Et Dieu sait s'il dort la nuit.
Oui, c'est là tout votre bien.
Un caur dont il ne fait rien.