18 THE MONTHLY
they stand for a moment till the weight of water leaves them, and, shaking their streaming sides, go bleating away towards their fellows on the adjacent green, wondering within themselves what has happened. The shearing is no less lively and picturesque, and no less attended by all the idlers of the village as spectators. The shearers, seated in rows beside the crowded pens, with the seemingly inanimate load of fleece in their laps, and bending intently over their work; the occasional whetting and clap- ping of the shears; the neatly-attired housewives, waiting to receive the fleeces; the smoke from the tar-kettle, ascending through the clear air; the shorn sheep escaping, one by one, from their tem- porary bondage, and trotting away towards their distant brethren, bleating all the while for their lambs, that do not know them; all this, with its ground of universal green, and finished every-where by its leafy distances, except where the village spire intervenes, forms together a living picture, plea- santer to look upon than words can speak, but still pleasanter to think of, when that is the nearest ap- proach you can make to it.
As cookery is the most honourable, so it is the most ancient of sciences. There is no nation so utterly barbarous as to devour their food without some previous preparation, and the appellation of a "cooking animal" may be truly considered as forming the most accurate specific definition of the human race. The progress of cookery is, in fact,