Of their kind there are few things more beautiful than the field-walls in a stony country. They are constructed, as a rule, without mortar, and for that reason are called ‘dry stone walls’; the term is useful, as a distinction, and will serve, but many of them are reinforced by an admixture of earth, or of a kind of daub that sets fairly hard. The walls of the moister West Country are the most beautiful of all, for innumerable plants take root in the earthy crevices and enrich the lovely grey stonework with a natural ornament that is entirely pleasing. Vivid green splashes of pennywort, yellow stars of celandine, clusters of violet, and the twisted white cords of ivy are Nature's version of carved vine-scrolls and interlaced designs, with the added beauty of colour. Far be it from me to institute odious comparisons between the works of Man and of Nature; both are good to look upon, and I yield to none in admiration of the masterpieces of Anglian sculpture. But these, alas, are few and far between; they are not always accessible or easily seen; whereas there are, by way of compensation, hundreds of miles of most enchanting field-walls in Cornwall alone. I began my study of them without fully realizing their aesthetic qualities; when my eyes were opened I found it difficult to look at anything else.
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