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On the 20th, the vernal equinox takes place, and all nature feels her renovating sway, and seems to rejoice at the retreat of winter.
The general or great flow of sap in most trees takes place in this month; this is preparatory to the expanding of the leaves, and ceases when they are out. The ash now puts forth its grey buds; and the hazel and the willow exhibit some signs of returning life in their silky, enfolded catkins. The leaves of the thornless rose, and of the hawthorn are gradually becoming determinate. The field daisy is now seen scattered over dry pastures.
Bright dews illame the grassy plain,
Sweet messengers of morn,
Like gems on ev'ry thorn:
Where dews fall from the tree,
And warms a seat for thee. Many species of the beautiful family of Gonepteryx live through the winter, and delight us with their vernal visits : among the earliest of these heralds of Spring, is the brimstone butterfly (G. rhamni), making its appearance, this month, in the neighbourhood of woods, and even sporting in our gardens when the sun's rays first begin to cheer and animate all nature; and from the eggs which are then deposited, are produced green caterpillars that feed upon the buckthorn, and again appear as butterflies in August. A beautiful figure of the brimstone butterfly is given in plate 173 of Mr. CURTIS's British Entomology, a monthly work we have before recommended to our readers, and which deserves all the praise that has been bestowed upon it.
Some of our most beautiful butterflies belonging to the genus Vanessa, as V. atalanta, Io, Polychloros, and Urticæ, are seen in this month ; and the Antiopa, or Camberwell beauty, has once been captured at this season.
In March, trouts begin to rise, and blood worms appear in the water. The clay hair-worm is found at the bottom of drains and ditches (see T. T. for 1.823, p. 85), and the water-flea may be seen gliding about upon the surface of sheltered pools.See T. T. for 1824, p. 88. Bats now issue from their places of concealment. Peas appear above ground; the seakale begins to sprout. The male blossoms of the yew-tree expand and discharge their farina. Sparrows are busily employed in forming their nests. Young otters are produced, and young lambs are yeaned this month. The planting and sowing of forest trees is generally concluded in March.
The equinoctial gales are usually most felt by sea and land at this time. Such of our readers as may reside in the neighbourhood of the magnificent ocean that bounds our happy shores, will fully participate the feelings of the anonymous poet who has written the following lines.
ON HEARING the Roar of the Sea at Night.
Piercing the drowsy night,
Whose pinions will not light
Peal of unwonted things ;
The hollow music rings,
Thou vast and glorious sea !
Of thy great majesty,
Giant of earth and air,
Ten thousand leagues afar thy wave
Thunders upon the shore
Beneath their angry sway,
In their triuinphant way,
Are hushed in Jair and nest-
Hath never needed rest:
Wbat in thy deeps profound,
Gives out that angry sound?
Thou shalt be young and free,
And all is dumb save thee;
Upon thine own vast shiore,
To check thy angry roar,
New Monthly Magazine.
APRIL derives its name from aperire, to open, because the earth then appears to open to new productions. Taurus is the sign of this month, to signify, that at this season, the Sun, passing through that sign, increases incessantly in force and heat.
In APRIL 1828. "1. --ALL OF AULD FOOLS' DAY. For an account of customs on this day, poetical jeux d'esprit, &c. see our former volumes.
The first day of April, among the French, is occupied in making pretended keepsakes or presents, and in performing sundry pleasant tricks : each person tries to deceive the other, whether by sending packets filled with straw or other useless things, or in prevailing on persons to go to houses where they are not wanted, &c. &c. Among the most ancient people, and indeed with all, till the seventeenth century, the year commenced at the Spring Equinox ; and, as we have already seen, it was the practice to make presents at the commencement of the year, consequently this custom was formerly practised on the 1st of April ; but when this month became the fourth in the Calendar, the etrennes or gifts were carried back to the 1st of January; accordingly, in April, nothing but pretended presents and mock congratulations were made to deceive those who still believed that the 1st of April was the first day of the new year; hence, probably, the origin of those sleeveless errands and worthless presents which are the usual attendants of the 1st of April. The persons whose credulity is thus imposed on, are called Poissons d'Avril, or April Fish.
3.-RICHARD, Bishop. He was consecrated Bishop of Chichester in the year 1245, and died on this day in 1253. See our former volumes, and particularly T. T. for 1824, p. 91.
3.—MAUNDY THURSDAY. Annually, on this day, the lord almoner, or the subalmoner, relieves at Whitehall as many poor men and as many poor women as agree with the years in the king's age. This practice was instituted by Edward III, in the year 1363.
4.-GOOD FRIDAY. Holy Friday, or the Friday in Holy Week, was its more ancient and general appellation; the name Good Friday is peculiar to the English church. Some singular customs, on this day, are recorded in T.T. for 1826, p. 69. See also our last volume, pp. 94-100, on the Commutation of Penances'; and on customs in Portugal and at Jerusalem.
Hymn for Good Friday.
[By H. II. Milman.]