Hedges not Ledgers

Wivenhoe Park by John Constable (1816)

Wivenhoe Park by John Constable (1816)

Snippets 81A Country Book: for the field, the forest, and the fireside by William Howitt was published in 1859.  This charming book contains one chapter per month, each focussing on country life at the relevant time of the year. You can read more quotes from this book about November in Snippets 38, January in Snippets 51, April in Snippets 61 and May in Snippets 68.  For this snippet let’s look at Howitt’s thoughts on the month of July, which are remarkably relevant to the world today, with his advice to “lie on banks, and think no more of bankers; lean on hedges, and not on ledgers”!

July is the manhood of the year. It stands strong, fall-grown, glowing and beautiful, between the seasons of growth and decline. It is now perfect summer. The trees are in full foliage, and their delicate leaves have darkened into a rich sobriety. Flowers of the most brilliant kinds are scattered over mead and mountain, over heath and glen. All is bright and hot: thunder occasionally announces the season of sultriness; insects hum around, and the heart of man reposes on the genial scene, neither looking backward nor forward. Let us go forth into field and forest — Nature, poetry and our fellow-men, call us. The songs of birds grow faint; the nightingale is hushed; the cuckoo has departed; the blackbird and the thrush now rarely bid us a musical and heartsome welcome to their haunts; the rose fades on the wayside bough; the corn already grows pale for harvest; but then, what thousands of happy and beautiful things surround us…

Ah! what a luxury is a bank; what a cushion is a bed of moss or heather on a moorland; what exquisite delight it is to plunge into sea or river after the dryness of the stool and the desk through a long monotonous year! Enjoy it, good souls – enjoy it. Lay in sunshine for a long future amid dusky alleys; lay in flowers for a remembrance, where not even a weed will grow amid stony pavements and stony hearts; lay in breezes and waves that may fan your parched souls in the sandy desert of merchantdom; lie on banks, and think no more of bankers; lean on hedges, and not on ledgers; open daisies instead of day-books; have no care about stocks, but such as you can stick in your button-hole; or of prices-current, but such as you can learn of the fruit-woman. Nature is now above par, but the exchange is only the more in your favour; be for one-heaven-of-a-month men, and not merchants; be grand capitalists in the wealth of a whole universe.

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About Windows into History

Author of windowsintohistory.wordpress.com Co-writer on junkyardview.wordpress.com Administrator of frontiersmenhistorian.wordpress.com
This entry was posted in 19th Century, Books, Britain, England, History, Inspiration, Nature, Snippets and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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