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A WALK THROUGH MAY-WOODS.
“ In the early part of this month, if we walk into woods, we shall be struck with their peculiar beauty. Woods are never more agreeable objects than when they have only half-assumed their green array. Beautiful and refreshing is the light of the young leaves bursting forth from the grey boughs, some trees at one degree of advance, some at another. The assemblage of the giants of the wood is seen, each in its own character and figure, neither disguised nor hidden in the dense mass of foliage which obscures them in summer-you behold the scattered and majestic trunks, the branches stretching high and wide, the dark drapery of ivy which envelopes some of them, and the crimson flush that glows in the world of living twigs above. If the contrast of grey and mossy branches, and of the delicate richness of young leaves gushing out of them in a thousand places be inexpressibly delightful to behold, that of one tree with another is not the less so. One is nearly clothed, another is mottled with grey and green, struggling, as it were, which should have the predominance, and another is still perfectly naked. The wild cherry stands like an apparition in the woods, white with its profusion of blossom, and the wilding begins to exhibit its rich and blushing countenance. The pines look dim and dusky amid the lively hues of spring. The abeles are covered with their clusters of albescent, and powdered leaves, and withering catkins; and beneath them the pale spathes of the arum, fully expanded and displaying their crimson clubs, presenting a sylvan and unique air." _ WILLIAM Howitt.
A MAY FESTIVAL.
In Germany the festival of May is much more universally celebrated than with us. The author of " An Art-Student in Munich " describes a May festival, witnessed by her, where not alone the painters, sculptors,
musicians, poets, and good citizen-folk of Munich turned out upon a bright May morning to do honour to the season, but royalty itself also. A lovely lake, about ten English miles from the city, was the scene of festivity, it seems; and from early morning till far into the night did kings, painters, and poets rejoice themselves in a truly Arcadian fashion. "Past old orchards, and through meadows, knee deep in grass and lovely flowers, we walked,” says the writer, “people streaming along with us in happy groups of all ranks and all ages—young and old, rich and poor, parents, children, friends, acquaintance, lovers, citizens, peasants, painters, poets, the learned
A GERMAN MAY FESTIVAL.
and the ignorant-all had issued forth to celebrate with true heart-worship God's beautiful gifts of May and Nature. It was indeed a sight which sent a strange thrill to the heart; these crowds of human beings, scattered for miles and miles along the green lovely banks of the beautiful lake, united in the celebration of so simple and so poetical a usage. These crowds reminded one of the angelic groups painted by old Fra Angelico, who wander hand in hand through meadows of the richest grass, starred by clusters of quaint mystical flowers. And how lovely it was higher up in the woods. People arrived even faster and faster; parties in carriages, with servants and grandeur; parties on footthe gentlemen with wreaths of ivy or stag's-horn moss twisted round their straw or felt hats, with gentians, and cowslips, and the lovely lilac primula, which blooms in these Bavarian fields, stuck into their button-holes—and ladies and children with bouquets of the same flowers in their hands. Whole families or little knots of friends came together; there were lads from the Gymnasium, students from the University, and youths from the Art-Academy. Now we recognised one well-known painter and his family! now another! and friends greeted friends and tables were brought out-extra tables from the near Wirthshaus—the fixture tables and benches in the wood being long since occupied-and people seated themselves upon the green mossy sward, and talked and laughed, and were right merry, eating and drinking marvellously. Others, like ourselves, having seen what was going on, and having greeted their acquaintance, betook themselves again to the lake, which all the day was gay with brilliant little skiffs, like dragon-flies, darting about over its smooth mirror, streamers flying in the soft breeze, and garlands of fresh flowers and greenery dropping into the emerald waters from the prows.
And here came the little steamer, dashing along through the sunshine, royalty on board of her, her flags flying, her garlands wreathed around a bevy of royal and courtly personages which crowded the little deck; there were shouts from the shore, waving of hats and handkerchiefs, and the king's voice, as the steamer hurried past, was heard demanding from the people'a cheer for Starnberg and May. In the evening there were dances and fireworks upon the little lake,
and fires—the old Bel-tane fires—were kindled upon the shores, the flames rising suddenly one after another in quick succession, long red tongues of flames, which were reflected in the unruffed lake, and which cast a lurid glow upon volumes of white smoke which curled around them. And upon all, a quiet silver moon smiled down through the balmy May heaven."
So says the popular proverb; and supposing that our bees have been so well-conducted as to swarm in May, and thus become of the highest value to us, we will now open the pages of a favourite book and learn a little of bees in general, and though our extract may be somewhat of the longest, it will not be found to be by any means tedious.
If any form of government,” says the author of Episodes of Insect Life,“ be faultless, it must be one acting immediately under Divine guidance, and of this class are the instinctive institutions of social animals, which are,
THE QUEEN BEE.
therefore, perfect in their kind. Under an idea of such perfection, erroneously applied, the people of the hive have been held up to us people of the earth, not only as patterns of industry, but also of political economy, and have been cited, not only as arguments for monarchy, but as models also of monarchical government. Men, however, might just as well attempt to build their cities after the pattern of a honey-comb, as to mould their institutions after those of the honey-comb's inhabitants, and this we shall see by the following outline sketch of the interior of a hive.
“ Insect societies, such as those of bees, wasps, ants, and termites, are in fact, things sui generis, standing by themselves ; they present natural pictures to which, throughout the animal kingdom, no pendants are to be found, and it is this which makes them really interesting. A well-peopled hive consists of one queen, several hundred males or drones, and many thousand workers, the latter of which are all imperfect females, though bearing no resemblance, either in size or habits, to the pampered individual who nominally fills the throne, and actually fills the hive by supplying its abundant population.
“The royal female to whom this endowment of surpassing productiveness forms the very charter of her authority,-the very bond by which she holds the hearts of her devoted subjects, derives from character but slender claims to their respect. During the entire period of her life and reign, which is generally estimated at about two or three years, she performs not a single labour for the good of the community, save that of increasing its numbers; and her bulky body is seldom roused from its wonted state of luxurious indolence, except when her royal spirit is chafed by the influence of vindictive jealousy.
"The queen of the hive, born, like the queens of the earth, no better than her meaner sisterhood, like them issues from the egg a helpless grub; but the chamber of her birth, as compared with theirs, is of right royal dimensions, vertical in position and of cylindrical instead of octagonal form. Ample room is thus afforded for the full expansion and development of all her members, as she progresses towards maturity; while to hasten and improve her growth, the food supplied her by her assiduous nurses and future