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A Walk from London to John O'Groat's eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 293 pages of information about A Walk from London to John O'Groat's.

There is a third circumstance in our favor as yet, and of no little value.  The grand old English oak and elm are magnificent trees, in park or hedge-row here.  The horse-chestnut, lime, beech and ash grow to a size that you will not see in America.  The Spanish chestnut, a larger and coarser tree than our American, reaches an enormous girth and spread.  The pines, larches and firs abound.  Then there are tree-hunters exploring all the continents, and bringing new species from Japan and other antipodean countries.  But as yet, our maples have never been introduced; and without these the tree-world of any country must ever lack a beautiful feature, both in spring, summer and autumn, especially in the latter.  Our autumnal scenery without the maple, would be like the play of Hamlet with Hamlet left out; or like a royal court without a queen.  Few Americans, even loudest in its praise, realise how much of the glory of our Indian summer landscape is shed upon it by this single tree.  At all the Flower Shows I have seen in England and France, I have never beheld a bouquet so glorious and beautiful as a little islet in a small pellucid lake in Maine, filled to the brim, and rounded up like a full-blown rose, with firs, larches, white birches and soft maples, with a little sprinkling of the sumach.  An early frost had touched the group with every tint of the rainbow, and there it stood in the ruddy glow of the Indian summer, looking at its face in the liquid mirror that smiled, still as glass, under its feet.

I was much pleased to notice what honor was put upon one of our humble and despised trees in Burghley House park, as in the grounds of other noblemen.  There was not one that spread such delicate and graceful tresses on the breeze as our White Birch; not one that fanned it with such a gentle, musical flutter of silver-lined leaves; not one that wore a bodice of such virgin white from head to foot, or that showed such long, tapering fingers against the sky.  I was glad to see such justice done to a tree in the noblest parks in England, which with us has been treated with such disdain and contumely.  When I saw it here in such glory and honor, and thought how, notwithstanding its Caucasian complexion, it is regarded as a nuisance in our woods, meadows and pastures, so that any man who owns, or can borrow an axe, may cut it down without leave or license wherever he finds it—­when I saw this disparity in its status in the two Englands, I resolved to plead its cause in my own with new zeal and fidelity.

CHAPTER XIII.

WALK TO OAKHAM—­THE ENGLISH AND AMERICAN SPRING—­THE ENGLISH GENTRY--A SPECIMEN OF THE CLASS—­MELTON MOWBRAY AND ITS SPECIALITIES—­ BELVOIR VALE AND ITS BEAUTY—­THOUGHTS ON THE BLIND PAINTER.

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