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The first step in any new career is confessedly the most difficult; that step, however, once taken, every succeeding one becomes comparatively easy: this is especially true with regard to authorship. When the writer of the present work gave
her volume on flowers to the public, she contemplated with full as much fear as hope the novel position in which she had placed herself, and almost started
“ E'en at the sounds herself had made.”
Her apprehensions were, however, soon allayed by the favour, so much beyond her most sanguine anticipations, with which her publication was received. This reception, if it did not suggest, at least greatly encouraged her in her present undertaking, the subject of which leads. her to hope that those who listened kindly to her
lays on flowers, will not less favourably regard her sylvan musings.
The transition seemed natural and easy from the flower which decks the greensward to the tree that shelters it. The main difficulty was how to vary the reflections and imagery sufficiently in subjects so nearly allied; to effect which, as far as possible, the author has in many instances introduced the tree incidentally, instead of making it the sole burden of the poem.
Of all inanimate objects, trees are the most companionable. Every breath of air makes them vocal, and they “discourse most eloquent music,” apparently adapting their tones to the mood of the listener. Is he sorrowful?— they seem to share his sadness; is he joyous ? — to partake his mirth; is he religious ? — his devotion. For him there is not only "pleasure,” but society, “in the pathless woods;" for he peoples them with “calling shapes,"
“ And airy tongues that syllable men's names.”
How beautiful is a wooded landscape! Be the season what it may, trees always excite admir
ation. The tender green of spring, the deeper tints and full-grown foliage of summer, the surpassing glory and variety of autumn, and even the snow and hoarfrost of winter, each sits so well upon them, that, delighted with the present impression, we think no other vesture would become them so well.
The individuality of character, too, which each tree possesses, adds an indescribable charm to sylvan scenery
" What can afford more delightful contrast in landscape,” says a tasteful author, “than the giant strength of the oak with the flexile elegance of the ash ; the stately tranquillity of the elm with the tremulous lightness of the poplar ; the bright and vivid foliage of the beech or sycamore with the funereal majesty of the cedar or the yew ; all differing in form and character as in colour?"
If the reader partake the enthusiasm of the writer towards the whole leafy race, he will at least approve her subject : for the manner in
which she has handled it she craves his indulgence. To herself, at all events, the task has been a most pleasant one, for during its progress she has wandered “fancy free”
• By the rushy-fringed bank
“ To arched walks of twilight groves,
A source of great additional interest has been the preparation of the drawings for the illustration of the work, which the author herself has ventured to execute from nature, and which she trusts will be found botanically correct.
With regard to the arrangement of the different subjects, in compliment to the British sylva, the volume is opened with some of the mostcelebrated trees which compose it; but subsequently no particular plan has been followed, the pieces having been placed indiscriminately as fancy dictated.