« AnteriorContinuar »
NATURAL HISTORY OF THE MONTHS.
of a harvest-field is presented to us in the book of
Ruth, where the command above quoted seems to have VIII. AUGUST.
been the principle which guided the operations of the
field. A modern writer has the following sketch Iue eighth was August, being rich array'd
of the varying scenes which enliven the country at In garment all of gold downe to the ground: Yet rode he not, but led a lovely mayd
our reaping-time:Forth by the lily hand, the which was crown'd
The sun-burnt reapers, entering the field leisurely at With eares of corne, and full her hand was fouad. That was the righteous Virgin, which of old
early morning with their reaphooks resting on their right Liv'd here on earth, and plenty made abound;
shoulders, and their beer-kegs swinging to their left hands, But after wrong was lov'd, and justice solde,
while they pause for a while to look about them before they She left the unrighteous world and was to heaven extol'd. begin their work.-The same, when they are scattered over
SPENSER. the field: some stooping to the ground over the prostrate
corn, others listing up the heavy sheaves and supporting Ir the earlier months of the year have delighted us
them against one another, while the rest are plying their busy with their freshness and beauty, and have given to sickles, before which the brave crop seems to retreat reour ears and eyes lovely profusion of melody collected into one group and resting to refresh themselves,
luctantly, like a half-defeated army:-Again, the same and flowers, the present, in its more sober colouring while the lightening keg passes from one to another silently, and more subdued tones, induces a sense of quiet and the rude clasp-knife lifts the coarse meal to the ruddy enjoyment and of grateful feeling, almost sufficient lips.-Lastly, the piled-up wain, moving along heavily to atone for the loss of the brilliant spring. How among the lessening, sheaves, and swaying from side to can we look out on the scenery which August presents side as it moves: while a few, whose share of the work is to us—the rich fields of wavy corn, ripe for the already done, lie about here and there in the shade, and
watch the completion of the day's labours, sickle, the trees laden with various fruits, the plen
There is often a delicious coolness in the evening feeling our minds elevated towards the Giver of all air during this month, conveying to the sense the feeling our minds elevated towards the Giver of all perfume of the remaining sweet-scented flowers, and good—whose " bounty unconfined" thus
of the ripe fruits which are now abundant, and afford. Spreads a solemn feast for all that lives.
ing a welcome refreshment after the heat of the day. This month is at its commencement usually calm Resting beneath the leafy canopy of some old tree, and hot. The full influence of the sun is poured we look around and observe the change which has forth on the productions of the earth, and they are come over the face of nature since last month. How rapidly advancing to maturity beneath his rays, different the appearance of the trees and fields! The According to the backwardness or forwardness of the former have neither the brightness of early spring, season must necessarily commence the gathering in nor the full uniform richness of summer, but a deep of the fruits of the earth; but this is especially the dark hue which forms as it were the groundwork to harvest month, and the busiest season of the year; a lively embroidery composed of the new foliage of and now do we usually witness the interesting scene midsummer. These bright young shoots, gleaming of multitudes of persons engaged in the task of reap in the sunshine with all the freshness of spring, have a ing and bringing home the corn. This spectacle of very enlivening effect. The fields are partly deprived pleasing industry is chiefly to be enjoyed in an open of their rich produce; and the cleared barren patches and extended country, where the different employ- already speak of the decline of the year. Then there ments of those that wield the sickle or load the wain are the withered, melancholy-looking bean crops, and can be easily described. Every fair day is diligently the dark-leaved turnips; both of which however are employed, all hands are at work, and a most laudable very valuable to the farmer. In a short time, these, as zeal is often shown by the labourers to make the most well as the field pease, will be gathered in, and then, of the favourable opportunity, and secure the precious when all the different crops are secured, and grain, ere it becomes over-ripe and falls from the ear,
Barns are stored, or ere the attacks of birds, or the fall of heavy rains, And groaning staddles bend beneath their load, shall have diminished its quantity or lessened its comes the rural festival of harvest-home; a festival value. To this unwearied labour the reaper is like which has been observed in almost all ages and coun. wise stimulated by the hope of reward. The increase tries, and which among the Jews was a joyful season of wages, which he receives at this period, is of high of gratitude and praise to the God of the harvest. importance to him, as enabling him to discharge The remembrance of His goodness, who continues debts unavoidably contracted, or to add some article to send us "rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, of necessity or of comfort to his little store, or to lay filling our hearts with food and gladness," is, unhapby something for his support in the time of sickness pily, too little entertained in festivals of this descripor old age.
His wife and children perhaps are glean- tion at the present day: on the contrary, the express ing in an adjacent field, and by their persevering in- commands of this gracious Being are often set at dustry are still further increasing the supply. As defiance, and drunkenness and revelry take the place. much as a sack of corn is sometimes thus obtained, of cheerfulness and gratitude. which affords inany a coinfortable meal to the house In those parts of the country where the hop is hold, with the pleasing reflection that to their own extensively cultivated, (Kent, Sussex, and Worcester. industry they owe this seasonable help. It is a cus- shire,) a very lively scene is now going on. Vast tom with some villagers to present cakes, made of numbers of persons are engaged in picking hops the first flour which is ground from this wheat, to during this month, great expedition being required in the owner of the lands where they have been kindly the work, when once the hops have arrived at matu. permitted to glean. The custom of gleaning is of rity. Labourers are fetched in waggons from a conancient date. We find provision made for the gleaners siderable distance to assist the inhabitants in the among the Jewish people by the following command immediate neighbourhood of the place of cultivation; “ When ye reap the harvest of your land thou shalt and when the season is over, they are sent back to not make clean riddance of the corners of thy field their homes in the same manner. The hop is somewhen thou reapest, neither shalt thou gather any times planted in gardens, for the purpose of covering gleanings of thy harvest; thou shalt leave them to verandahs, &c., and its rapid and ornamental growth the poor and to the stranger.” An interesting picture I makes it one of the prettiest coverings imaginable.
We occasionally see its light flowers hanging out | long-wing, suddenly disappears, thus affording the from the common hedgerow, and the plant, when earliest indication of the departure of summer itself. thus growing wild, is eaten by sheep and cows, and Rooks too begin to return to their nest trees, and its early shoots gathered by cottagers, and used as house-swallows and martens congregate together in asparagus.
focks, as if consulting about their future flight. The flowers of our gardens, towards the close of Young broods of goldfinches are still seen, and the this month, are not the flowers of summer. The clear voice of the robin is heard as usual in the quiet china-aster, the French and African marigold, and of the evening. Swarms of winged ants are occaeven the Michaelmas-daisy, begin to open their buds, sionally observed, so that the whole air about us is so that we are surrounded by an autumn wreath speckled with these little emigrants. Glow-worms before there has been any token in the state of the may also be observed in abundance during this weather of summer's departure. Conspicuous above month, acting as the planets of the rural scene. all stands the noble holyoak, which is now occasion. This insect will not bear inspection when its lustre is ally permitted to re-occupy a station in our gardens, lost by the light of day, nor will the luminous insects from which, by some unaccountable caprice, it has of other countries excite any admiration as they are long been banished. The cottage garden has been seen in the collections of the naturalist. The beauty enlivened by it, and well do we remember the pic- consists in the phosphorescent light alone, and some turesque effect of its rich blossoms, contrasting with of the foreign insects carry it in a sort of snout, the white-washed wall and the low roof of a humble which, when unilluminated is almost ugly in its dwelling, which formed a remote, but distinct object appearance.
Some of the later butterflies now come in one of our favourite views. Often have our steps out, and flies and moths seem more than ever to been arrested as we trod an avenue, formed on the abound. The goat-sucker, or fern-owl, utters its one side by a sudden green slope and tall hedgerow, jarring note, and flies about oak-trees, after sunset, and on the other by trees of the willow and white in pursuit of moths. That tormenting insect, the poplar, whose leaves quivered to the cool breath of gad-fy, now irritates horses and cattle by its pera streamlet wandering near ;-—often have we paused severing attacks, and causes them to perform those to admire the gradually narrowing lines of the path strange freaks and curvetings which are often before us, the graceful bend at which it led to the mistaken for the expressions of their pleasure. village, whose vicinity was sufficiently indicated by The operations of the gardener during this month the partial view of its embattled tower, and not un include, among other employments, the protection of frequently by
wall-fruit by nets &c.; the removal or regulation of The music of the village bells,
summer shoots in vine, peach, and nectarine-trees; Falling at intervals upon
the sowing for winter crops of spinach, cabbage, and often has our eye rested with pleasure on the onions, lettuce, cauliflower; sowing seeds of bulbous rose-coloured blossoms of the holyoak, in the cottage plants in the flower-garden,—tulips, hyacinths, crowngarden, just at the bend of the road. The reason for imperials; planting autumnal-flowering bulbs and banishing this beautiful flower from more finished herbaceous plants, and the removal of decaying parterres may be, that its size and brilliancy are apt flower-stalks, &c. Mignionette intended to flower in to eclipse the lesser beauties of the garden; but on the winter should now be planted in pots, and this principle we might also banish the showy and frequently watered. As this is generally the driest fashionable dahlia, which is now the object of so month of the year, considerable labour is required much attention. If the holyoak is despised, the to keep the garden well watered. The soil is dry passion-flower, which blossoms in this month, is and parched to a considerable depth; the paths greatly esteemed and admired. Its curious and ele. cleave asunder; the vegetation on lawns and pastures gant structure is indeed well worthy our observation, becomes dried up, and everything testifies to the and the plant, being a graceful creeper, is often per- unmitigated strength of the sun's rays. Thrice happy mitted to stray across the windows or lattice-work of he who can escape the noontide fervour amid the country dwellings. The number of garden flowers is, poetry of the woods and glades. however, on the decline, and the hedges and lanes
TO TRANQUILLITY. are losing many of their brightest ornaments. The Art thou reposing near thy native brooks, beautiful family of ferns now begins to attract atten
Or in some haunt beloved, mid forest shades, tion. The finely-divided winged leaves of some of Or whispering poet's themes in favourite glades, the species atone for their inconspicuous flowers, and
Thou of the peaceful mien! who in the nooks,
Which Nature calls her own, dost love to dwell ; the regular arrangement of the seeds on the back of
To hear (Eolian notes which zephyrs play the leaves is very remarkable.
Upon their leafy harps; while Freedom's lay,
Or Love's soft melody, which young birds tell,
Echo, in half-notes on her mimic shell,
Repeats to thee; and many a distant flood
Joins in the concert, with its deep-voiced swell,
Inspiring peace, the mind's beatitude :
While happiness, to thee so truly dear, Most of these luxuries are now in their prime, just The mien of sadness wears, but never knows a tear. ready to be plucked, and not over-ripe and decaying. Several sorts of apple are now ripe, while the inferior
It is an instinct in our nature to follow the tract pointed fruits, currants, gooseberries, &c., have long been
out by a few leaders; we are gregarious animals in a ready.
moral as well as a physical sense, and we are addicted to The song of birds is very little heard during this routine, because it is always easier to follow the opinions of month. The persevering lark indeed keeps up his others, than to reason and judge for themselves.-Dr. Paris. music the skies, but the great proportion of our singing-birds retire to the depth of woods and groves, and are comparatively silent. Before the middle of
LONDON: the month, without any apparent cause, and before JOHN WILLIAM PARKER, WEST STRAND. we have had anything like an approach to cold PUBLISHED IN WEEKLY NUMBERS, PRICE ONE PENNY, AND IN MONTHLY PARTS weather, the largest of the swallow tribe, the swift, or Sold by all Booksellers and Newsronders in the Kingdom.
PROGRESSIVE CHANGES OF THE FROG, FROM THE SPAWN TO THE TAD POLE STATE.
Poor being! wherefore dost thou fly?
lanes soon after the rain has ceased. Myriads of Why seek to shun my gazing eye And palpitate with fear?
young frogs are to be seen leaping about in all Indulge a passing traveller's sight
directions; their appearance is so sudden and uuAnd leap not on in vain affright, No cruel foe is h re.
cxpected that it would almost seem that they had I would but pause awhile to view
dropped from the clouds; while their very small Thv dappled coat of many a hue,
size convinces the observer that they have but Thy rapid bound survey;
recently emerged from the tadpole state. This reAnd see how well thy limbs can glide Along the sedge-crowned streamlet's side,
markable sight has given rise to the common superThen journey on my way.
stition that frogs do indeed fall in showers from the
clouds; and we find the extravagant idea maintained AFTER th descent of those warm showers which by some theorists, who affirm that the action of a frequently refresh the earth in the month of July, violent wind is sufficient to elevate the spawn of frogs a very singular phenomenon is often observed by and the eggs of snails to the regions of the air, whence those who pursue their way through meadows and I the creature in its perfected state is again returned Vol. XVII.
to the earth in the manner above mentioned. The feed. The tadpole is also furnished with a small impossibility of this, on account of the specific gravity kind of tubular sphincter or sucker, beneath the of the eggs and spawn, is entirely overlooked by those lower jaw, by means of which it hangs at pleasure to who entertain the absurd opinion.
the under surface of aquatic plants, &c. The tail is Frogs are placed by naturalists in the lowest rank the only organ of motion, and in order to make any in the animal kingdom, and that, not so much on progress in the water the tadpole is obliged to exert account of their aquatic habits, which in some mea. it with great velocity. While in this state, the animal sure assimilate them with fishes, as on account of breathes water only, being incapable of existence in their structure, which differs in some respects from the air. that of all other animals. The classification of all The vast numbers of these creatures brought out animals into such as breathe the free air, and such by the warmth of a July sun, might seem at first as breathe through the medium of water, does not sight unnecessary and unaccountable; but there is hold good with respect to the order of reptiles to reason to believe that tadpoles perform an important which frogs belong. In the case of all other animals, part in purifying the ponds and ditches where they each has its proper element to which it especially abound from such substances, animal as well as belongs, and out of which it cannot exist for any con- vegetable, as would otherwise accumulate, become siderable time. Many of the inhabitants of the air putrid, and corrupt the atmosphere in the vicinity. find their appropriate food in the water, and some of While they are thus acting their part in the economy the water animals pass a portion of their time in the of nature, their own numbers become reduced to the air, but the degree in which they are able to do this, necessary limits, by the attacks of different aquatic though different in different species, has yet its birds frequenting the ponds and marshes, dabbling in limits, and the animal, whether in its embryo state, the shallow pools, and gaining part of their subsistence or arrived at maturity, cannot be exposed to the from the small fishes, tadpoles, &c., abounding there. wrong element, beyond a certain period of time, with When the appointed time arrives for the change of out the extinction of the vital principle within it. the tadpole from being a breather of water to The eggs of aquatic reptiles in general are, therefore, becoming a breather of air, the new members which placed where they may be hatched in their proper | it requires are gradually added, and the old ones element, the air :--they are deposited in holes in the shed, or absorbed. At this time tadpoles may be sand, &c., beyond the reach of the water, and there seen with feet partially developed, while yet the swimleft to be developed by the action of the sun's rays. ming tail adheres, and thus the imperfect animal has But with the common frog, and other reptiles of the a strange and ambiguous appearance, partaking of the order we are now speaking of, the case is very differ form of the frog and lizard. The tail however soon ent. The spawn of these animals, which consists of a begins to decrease, at first gradually, and at length large heap, or clustered mass of transparent eggs, in so rapidly as to become quite obliterated in a day or each of wbich the round black globule of the embryo two. The celebrated Lord Bacon displays an unmay be seen, is deposited in pools and ditches where accountable degree of ignorance as to the formation the water is shallow, and where the full influence of of the frog, and its gradual progress froni the tadthe sun and atmosphere may be felt to the bottom. pole state, to that of the complete animal. In his There the eggs float on the water, having one side Natural History he mentions as a peculiar and exexposed to the air, and thus they abide the vicissitudes traordinary circumstance, that young frogs and toads of the seasons, without any shelter from inclement have sometimes been observed with tails, and that the weather. At one time they are frozen into a solid years in wbich such phenomena have been remarked, mass, at another they are pelted with heavy rain, have proved more than commonly pestilential and apparently without receiving the least injury. The unhealthy; from whence he draws the conclusion, same pool which has perhaps remained frozen for a that the appearance of such tailed animals “argueth considerable time, long enough we should have a great disposition to putrefaction in the soile and thought to destroy effectually the living principle of aire." When the lungs of the tadpole are fully the spawn, is yet, on the return of summer, swarming developed, the character of the land animal predomiwith tadpoles, or frogs in the first stages of their nates. During the tadpole state the system of cirexistence. No other vertebrated animals, save those culation had been that of a fish. The heart had but of this family, are found to leave their eggs wholly one auricle and one ventricle; it was merely a. unprotected, and exposed to the action of the weather, branchial heart, sending the blood to the gills by its nor are any other animals possessed like them of contractions. The systematic circulation was perwhat may be termed a double life. In the case of formed by the arteries alone, and had little force or the common frog it is perhaps more correct to say, velocity, and consequently little heat. But when the that it has two lives in succession ; but in that of gills disappeared, the arteriał branches by which the some others of this family, where the breathing pro- blood was conveyed to them also became absorbed, cesses are retained in both kinds, i.e., where the ani- only two remaining which were directed to the twolungs. mal is qualified to pass at pleasure its whole life in A portion of the blood which the heart propels is the water, or its whole life in the air, the creature carried to the lungs, while the remainder is emis distinct from all others, and merits the term am ployed in the systematic circulation, without being phibious, to its fullest extent. Iodeed this term is acted on by air. As the action of the air on the not strictly true in its application to any other ani. blood appears to be the grand source of energy to the mals than the several species of frogs just referred to system of the whole animal, it is natural that frogs,
Most of our readers must be well acquainted with in whom the portion of blood subjected to its influence the form of the tadpole. The disproportionate size is very small, should be the cold, enduring creatures of the head, and the length of the tail, in this little that we find them to be. The slowness of circulation creature, give it a very curious appearance. The in these animals, with the transparency of their skins, head is furnished with jaws, or mandibles, which are has rendered it possible to make some very interesting employed in nibbling animal or vegetable matters. observations on the passage of the blood from the These mandibles are furnished with extremely minute arteries to the veins. By means of a microscope of teeth, or denticulations, with which they may be even high power, this delicate process may be seen through 'card to praw the edges of the leaves on which they | the integument which covers the web of a frog's foot.
Arteries and veins have no communication with each from the spawn to the complete frog. The largest other at their remote extremities, except by means figure represents a frog of about four years old, in of those capillaries, which are so small as to be in the act of securing its prey. A frog of five or six visible to the naked eye; hence the interest which is / years old is considerably larger than the animal here attached to the observation in question.
represented. At the age of five or six, it may be said The frog is not in possession of the same sort of to have attained its full size, and it is supposed to apparatus for working the lungs as other animals. live at least twelve or fifteen years. It has neither ribs nor breast-bone, and therefore the thorax does not act in breathing; it receives air through the nostrils, but an effort is required to send
PLYMOUTH AND DEVONPORT. the air into the lungs. This is performed by means
II. of the tongue, which is first raised to close the nos It was in the reign of William the Third that a trils, and then turned gradually backwards so as to Royal Dock was established at Plymouth, or rather force the air all contained in the mouth to the cells in the parish of Stoke Damarell, in the neighbourhood of the lungs. This constitutes one respiration, and of Plymouth, and it is from this period that we may as the tongue is removed, the air again enters the date the rise of the town now called Devonport. nostrils, while the muscles of the abdomen contract The various buildings in and near this town belongand expel the air which has performed its office. ing to the Royal Navy have been in a progressive Thus the frog respires without any assistance from state of improvement from the time of William the the mouth; indeed if the mouth were kept forcibly Third to the present day. open, respiration could no longer proceed, and the The Dockyard at Devonport is situated on the animal would as certainly die of suffocation, as would eastern bank of the Hamoaze, or harbour, and is the higher animals if the mouth and nostrils were separated from the town by a lofty wall : it includes kept shut.
an extent of seventy acres of ground. On enterThe muscular power of the frog is made evident ing the gates, the first building seen is the Warden's to us by the prodigious leaps which it is able to house, and near this is the Dockyard Chapel : the make. These leaps sometimes raise it in the air latter was built by government for the use of those to twenty times its own height, and convey it, at one living in the yard, but it is also open to the inbabitbound, over a space fifty times the length of its own ants of Devonport: the chaplain receives, in addition body. The mechanism which gives such power to to a stipend from government, twopence per month its lower limbs also constitutes the frug an excellent from the pay of each of the officers and seamen swimmer, and in this situation the action of the limbs belonging to ships laid up in ordinary. Near the bears a remarkable similarity to that of man when so chapel are the Military Guard House, the Navy Pay employed.
Office, the Surgery, and a large reservoir. The The skin of frogs is smooth, without scales, hair, new North Dock, constructed in 1789, is two hundred or any other appendage, and by means of its pores it and forty feet long, eighty-five broad, and twentyabsorbs and evaporates fluids very rapidly. By this nine deep, and is said to be the largest in England: means it is supposed that the air contained in water ships are occasionally taken into this dock with is made subservient to the respiration of the animal. their masts and rigging complete. Near this is a Dr. Townson found that a frog will sometimes absorb smithery, a stupendous building, two hundred and in half an hour half its own weight of water, and in ten feet square, containing forty-eight forges. Several a few hours nearly its entire weight. When the ani- hundred anchors, some weighing five tons each, are mal so filled was placed in a dry, warm situation, it sometimes to be scen piled up on the wharf in front of gave off this fluid almost as rapidly as it had accumu. this building. Near the smithery are the plumber's, lated it. He is of opinion that the frog tribe never bricklayer's, and stune-mason's shops. drink, but are supplied by the process of absorption. There are various other docks besides that one When kept in a comparatively dry situation, frogs of which we have spoken: one is called the North become thin and meagre, but their plumpness is Dock; another the Double Dock; and a third is the quickly restored when they have the power of re dock constructed in the reign of William the Third, newing their supply of moisture.
and now used principally for repairing frigates. These harmless creatures subsist on insects, larvæ, Near the last-mentioned dock is the basin constructed &c., and are therefore beneficial in gardens. For the at the same time: it is a large excavation, commu. readier obtaining of their prey, the structure of the nicating with the harbour by means of an opening tongue in these animals is extremely well calculated, about seventy feet wide: it is of an oblong shape, and being so situated, that the root is attached to the fore contains the boats and launches belonging to the rather than the hind part of the mouth; and when at yard. Near this basin is a kiln, for steaming such rest, lies backwards, as if the animal were swallowing planks as are required to assume a curved form,
By this means, the creature is enabled to saw-pits, and pump-houses, containing machinery throw it out to some distance from the mouth, which for drawing the water from the docks. is done with great celerity, and the prey is secured The Rigging-house is a splendid building, four and swallowed with an instantaneous motion, so quick hundred and eighty feet in length, and three stories that the eye can scarcely follow it. They doze out high: it forms one side of a quadrangle, the area of the cold season in holes of the earth, or at the bottom which is entirely composed of stone and iron, and is of the water. They are not in the least degree in-called the "combustible storehouse." Vessels used jurious to man; they have no weapons either of of- formerly to be built in the open air; but they are fence or defence; and though their croakings are by now built in spots covered with immense roofs. no means pleasing to the ear, and their forms are not Near these building places, or "slips," as they are such as we can call beautiful, yet the peculiarity of called, is the Mast Pond, which is a large piece of their structure, and the use they are of, both in the water, enclosed from the harbour by a strong wall, tadpole state and in their after form, must render ten feet thick, paved at the top with granite: in. them interesting to the naturalist, and worthy his this pond or basin masts and spars are deposited, especial notice. The wood-cut at the head of this in order to prevent them from being injured by article represents the animal in all its appearances, exposure to the sun,