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Jesse Cliffe
written by "Mitford, Mary Russell, 1787-1855"
... familiar to our little inland county. The slow majestic Thames, the swift and wandering Kennett, the clear and brimming Loddon, all lend life and verdure to our rich and fertile valleys. Of the great river of England—whose course from its earliest source, near Cirencester, to where it rolls calm, equable, and full, through the magnificent bridges of our splendid metropolis, giving and reflecting beauty,* presents so grand an image of power in repose—it is not now my purpose to speak; nor am I about to expatiate on that still nearer and dearer stream, the pellucid Loddon,—although to be rowed by one dear and near friend up those transparent and meandering waters, from where they sweep at their extremest breadth under the lime-crowned terraces of the Old Park at Aberleigh, to the pastoral meadows of Sandford, through which the narrowed current wanders so brightly—now impeded by beds of white water-lilies, or feathery-blossomed bulrushes, or golden flags—now overhung by thickets of the rich wayfaring tree, with its wealth of glorious berries, redder and more transparent than rubies—now spanned from side to side by the fantastic branches of some aged oak;—although to be rowed along that clear stream, has long been amongst the choicest of my summer pleasures, so exquisite is the scenery, so perfect and so unbroken the solitude. Even the shy and foreign-looking kingfisher, most gorgeous of English birds, who, like the wild Indian retiring before the foot of man, has nearly deserted our populous and cultivated country, knows and loves the lovely valley of the Loddon. It is not, however, of the Loddon that I am now to speak. The scene of my little story belongs to a spot quite as solitary, but far less beautiful, on the banks of the Kennett, which, a few miles before its junction with the Thames, passes through a tract of wild, marshy country—water-meadows at once drained and fertilised by ar...

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