Even now the devastation is begun. And half the business of destruction done.
O rivers, forests, hills, and plains! Oft have ye heard my cantie strains; But now, what else for me remains But tales of woe?
THERE are other things beside drought to depress the spirits of the planter, who has often reason to wonder why he entered upon his disheartening career.
It was, I believe, Sir George Cornewall Lewis who declared that life would be a very enjoyable thing were it not for its pleasures, which is convincing proof that he must at some time or other have interested himself in gardening, since this pursuit, which at first seems, of all others, the most gentle and enticing, leads the unwary dilettante from woe to woe before it has done with him.
As soon as our forest is tall enough to show above it, we are talking of erecting an arch at its most obvious point of entrance, with the appropriate inscription, - Abandon hope, all ye who enter here!
Our experience leading us to think that the only way to enjoy a prospective wilderness is to find one's blessedness in being among the happy few who expect nothing, and therefore can never have any but agreeable surprises. This arch, which perhaps will more appropriately take the form of a lich-gate, is to be sculptured with high reliefs of the woodchuck and the field mouse, while the rose-bug and the wire-worm are to find a prominent place in the general decoration. This architectural step has been suggested by the appearance of a new enemy, which has destroyed the last vestige of our confidence in conifers, and is a new proof of that perversity in trees to which I have before reluctantly called attention.
Early in July we noticed a tendency to droop in the leaders of some of the Pines and Spruces, but concluded it might be the dry hot weather which had affected their uprightness. A week or two more passed, and the new tassels of the year's growth all began to turn yellow, and to hang down disconsolately. We then supposed that some one in passing might have given the tops of the little trees an unfriendly twitch, from which they were suffering; but as the days went by and a stout little Norway Spruce near the house began to lose its topknot, and Episcopus himself showed a bad droop in his mitre, we thought it worth while to look into the matter more closely, so we chopped off the head of one of the sufferers, and gave it a post-mortem examination. Dissection revealed ravages, and the fatal secret was out. There was a worm at the core! And not one worm, but many, - small, white, plump and persevering, indifferent to resin, and coolly tunneling their way down the inside of the stem toward the ground. Certain leaks on the outside, and port-holes of their own construction, showed the exact length to which they had gone, so that by cutting just where these signs disappeared, we had the satisfaction of ending the earthly career of the leading invader, by snipping his fat unpleasant carcass neatly in two.