« 前へ次へ »
The Naturalist's Diary
For MAY 1828.
The roses will know thee, and iing back their vest,
The blossoms, in welcomes, will open to meet
Golden Violet. This is the May of the poets,-May as it should beand sometimes is; more frequently, however, in our variable climate, particularly in backward seasons, this month puts on a very different appearance; such as is well described by Miss Mitford.
,MAY the 3d.-Cold bright weather; all within doors, sunny and chilly; all without, windy and dusty. It is quite tantalizing to see that brilliant sun careering through so beautiful a sky, and to feel little more warmth from his presence than one does from that of his fair but cold sister, the moon. Even the sky, beautiful as it is, has the look of that one sometimes sees in a very bright, moonlight night-deeply, intensely blue, with white fleecy clouds driven vigorously along by a strong breeze-now veiling, and now exposing the dazzling luminary around whom they sail. A beautiful sky! and, in spite of its coldness, a beautiful world! The effect of this backward spring has been to arrest the early flowers, to which heat is the great enemy; whilst the leaves and the later flowers have, nevertheless, ventured to peep out slowly and cautiously in sunny places, exhibiting, in the copses and hedge-rows, a pleasant mixture of March and May. And we, poor chilly mortals, must follow, as nearly as we can, the wise example of the May-blossoms, by avoiding bleak paths and open commons; following the pleasant sheltered road, where the western sun steals in between two rows of bright green elms, and the east wind is fenced off by a range of woody hills. Well! we will pursue our walk. How beautiful a mixture of flowers and leaves is in the high bank under this north hedge- quite an illustration of the blended seasons of which we spoke. An old irregular hedgerow is always heautiful, especially in the spring time, when the grass, and mosses, and flowering weeds mingle best with the bushes and creeping plants that overhang them. But this bank is, most especially, various and lovely. Shall we try to analyse it? First, the clinging white-veined ivy, which crawls up the slope in every direction, the master-piece of that rich mosaic; then the brown leaves and the lilac blossoms of its fragrant namesake, the ground-ivý, which grows here so profusely; then the late, lingering primrose ; then the delicate wood.sorrel; then the regular pink stars of the cranesbill, with its beautiful leaves; the golden oxlip and the cowslip, cinque-spotted ;' then the blue pansy, and the enamelled wild hyacinth; then the bright foliage of the briar-rose, which comes trailing its green wreaths among the flowers; then the bramble and the woodbine, creeping round the foot of a pollard oak, with its brown folded leaves ; then a verdant mass-the blackthorn, with its lingering blossoms--the hawthorn, with its swelling budsthe bushy maple--the long stems of the hazel-and
between them, hanging like a golden plume over the bank, a splendid tuft of the blossomed broom; then, towering high above all, the tall and leafy elms. And this is but a faint picture of this hedge, on the meadowy side of which sheep are bleating, and where, every here and there, a young lamb is thrusting its pretty bead between the trees.' . .
Who will not, on witnessing such scenes as these, exclaim with the talented author of the ' Pelican Island'
Spring-flowers, spring-birds, spring-breezes,
The latest species of the summer birds of passage arrive about the beginning of May. Among these are the goatsucker, or fern-owl, the spotted fly-catcher,
and the sedge bird. Birds are still occupied in building their nests or laying their eggs. The parental care of birds at this period, in hatching and rearing their young, can never be sufficiently admired. The barmony of the groves is now highly attractive to the rural wanderer; the feathered songsters exerting all their powers to sustain their part in that grand concert—the MUSIC OF NATURE.
How a certain disposition of certain sounds (it is well observed, by a writer in the Literary Magnet), should, through the medium of the ear, raise, depress, or tranquillize the spirits, is a problem difficult to be solved; yet, in a greater or less degree, all are convinced of its truth; and, to gratify this universal feeling, Nature seems to bave mingled harmony in all her works. Each crowded and tumultuous city may properly be called a temple of discord; but wherever Nature holds undisputed dominion, music is the partner of her empire. The lonely voice of waters,' the hum of bees, the chorus of birds; nay, if these be wanting, the very breeze that rustles through the foliage is music. From this music of Nature, solitude gains all her charms ; for dead silence, such as that which precedes thunder-storms, rather terrifies than delights the mind:
On earth 'twas yet all calm around,
More awful than the tempest's sound! Perhaps it is the idea of mortality, thereby awakened, that makes absolute stillness so awful. We cannot bear to think that even Nature herself is inanition; we love to feel her pulse throbbing beneath us, and listen to her accents amid the still retirements of her desarts. That solitude, in truth, which is described by our poets as expanding the heart, and tranquillizing the passions, though far removed from the inharmonious din of worldly business, is yet varied by such gentle sounds as are most likely to make the heart beat in unison with the serenity of all surrounding objects. Thus Gray
Now fades the glimmering landscape on my sight,
And drowsy tinklings lull the distant folds ! Even when Nature arrays herself in all her terrors, when the thunder roars above our heads, and man, as he listens to the sound, shrinks at the sense of his own insignificance-even this, without at all derogating from its awful character, may be termed a grand chorus in the music of Nature.
Almost every scene in the creation has its peculiar music, by which its character, as cheering, melancholy, awful, or lulling, is marked and defined. This appears in the alternate succession of day and night. When the splendour of day has departed, bow consonant with the sombre gloom of night is the hum of the beetle, or the lonely, plaintive voice of the nightingale. But more especially, as the different seasons revolve, a corresponding variation takes place in the music of Nature. As winter approaches, the voice of birds, which cheered the days of summer, ceases; the breeze that was lately singing among the leaves, now sbrilly hisses through the naked boughs; and the rill, that but a short time ago murmured softly as it flowed along, now, swelled by tributary waters, gushes beadlong in a deafening torrept.. . It is not, therefore, in vain that, in the full spirit of prophetic song, Isaiah has called upon the mountains to break forth into singing; · the forests, and every tree thereof. Thus we may literally be said to find tongues in trees-books in the running brooks ;' and, as we look upward to the vault of Heaven, we are inclined to believe, that
There's not the smallest orb which we behold,
The lily of the valley opens her snowy bells, and the flowers of the chestnut-tree begin to unfold; the tulip-tree has its leaves quite out; and the flowers of the Scotch fir, the beech, the oak, and the honeysuckle, climbing round its neighbours for support, are in full bloom. All the varieties of the strawberry, plant of my native soil, open their blossoms, their runners extending on all sides. The mulberry-tree puts forth its leaves. · The insect tribe continue to add to their numbers. 'A few butterflies that have passed the inclement season in the chrysalis state, are seen on the wing early in May. And, about the end of the month, the Papilio Machaon, or swallow-tailed butterfly, one of the most superb of the British insects, makes its appearance.
Our Gloucestershire correspondent, in a letter dated the 21st May, 1827, says, “I yesterday observed the chrysalis of the eyed hawk-moth Sphinx ocellata) produce its fly almost before my face, thus enabling me to notice the curious mechanism for the liberation of the insect: the outer case, in most instances, splits