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النشر الإلكتروني

R U RA L LITE

IN

ENGLAND.

RURAL LIFE IN ENGLAND.

Oh! friendly to the best pursuits of man,
Friendly to thought, to virtue, and to peace,
Domestic life in rural pleasure pass'd!

COWPER.

The stranger who would form a correct opinion of the English character, must not confine his observations to the metropolis. He must go forth into the country; he must sojourn in villages and hamlets; he must visit castles, villas, farm houses, cottages; he must wander through parks and gardens ; along hedges and green lanes; he must loiter about country churches ; attend wakes and fairs, and other rural festivals; mingle with the people of all ranks and conditions, and become familiar with the habits and humours incident to each.

In some countries, the large cities absorb the wealth and fashion of the nation; they are the only fixed abodes of elegant and intelligent society, and the country is inhabited almost entirely by boorish peasantry. In England, on the contrary, the metropolis is a mere gathering place, or general rendezvous, of the polite circles, where they devote a small portion of the year to a hurry of gayety and dissipation, and having enjoyed this kind of carnival, return again to the apparently more congenial habits of rural life. The various strata of society, therefore, are diffused over the whole surface of the kingdom, and the most retired neighbourhoods afford specimens of the different ranks.

The English, in fact, are strongly gifted with the rural feeling. They possess a keen sensibility to the beauties of nature, and a relish for the pleasures and employments of the country. This passion seems inherent with them. Even the inhabitants of cities, born and brought up among brick walls and bustling streets, enter with facility into rural habits, and evince a tact

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for rural occupation. The merchant has his snug retreat in the vicinity of the metropolis, where he often displays as much pride and zeal in the cultivation of his flower garden, and the maturing of his fruits, as he does in the conduct of his business, and the success of a commercial operation. Even those less fortunate individuals, who are doomed to pass their lives in the midst of din and traffick, contrive to have something that shall remind them of the green aspect of nature. In the dark and dingy lanes of the metropolis, every drawing room window is like a bank of flowers; wherever, also, there is a spot capable of vegetation, the grass plot and flower bed are cultivated, and every square has its mimic park, laid out with picturesque taste, and gleaming with refreshing verdure.

Those who see the Englishman only in town, are apt to form an unfavourable opinion of his social character. He is either absorbed in business, or distracted by the thousand engagements that dissipate time, thought, and feeling, in this huge metropolis. He has,

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