« ZurückWeiter »
inhabitants, and the remainder laid up against winter. While the labourers are thus engaged, the queen begins to deposit her eggs to the number of about 200 each day in the empty cells: the egg being soon hatched into a little white grub, increases the employment of the labourers, to whom is allotted the task of feeding it with the purest honey ; when it has attained its full size, the mouth of its habitation is closed up with wax, it becomes a chrysalis, and in a few days breaks through its waxen covering, being changed into a perfect bee, and instantly quits the hive in search of honey for the public store. This rapid accession, however, of inhabitants, soon begins to crowd the hive, and commonly in the months of May and July large emigrations take place, called swarms, which settling in an empty hive (or in their wild state in a hollow tree or rock), in a few days lay the waxen foundations of their state, and begin collecting honey for their winter supply. Each swarm consists of a single female, 1000 or more males, and from 24,000 to 28,000 labourers. Thus they live in perfect harmony with each other, and daily adding to their numbers and stores; till, sometime in the six or
seven weeks between the latter end of July and the beginning of September, the particular time varying in different hives, the whole state becomes all uproar and confusion, a loud angry humming is heard, accompanied by a general massacre and expulsion of the drones : every male is destroyed or turned out to perish: the young grubs that would have changed into drones participate in the ruin, and in the whole interval from September to March, only a few hundred males are allowed to arrive at maturity.
The gardens are now rendered gay by the crocuses, which adorn the borders with a rich mixture of the brightest yellow and purple. The little shrubs of mezereon are in their beauty. The fields look green with the springing grass, but few wild flowers as yet appear to decorate the ground. Daisies, however, begin to be sprinkled over the dry pastures; and the moist banks of ditches are enlivened with the glossy star-like yellow flowers of pilewort. Towards the end of the month, primroses peep out beneath the hedges; and the most delightfully fragrant of all flowers, the violet, discovers itself by the perfume it imparts to the
FLOWERS OF THE MONTI.
surrounding air, before the eye has perceived it in its lowly bed. Shakspeare compares an exquisitely sweet strain of music, to the delicious scent of this flower,
0! it came o'er my ear, like the sweet south,
There are several kinds of violets : but the fragrant (both blue and white) is the earliest, thence called the March violet. To these flowers Shakspeare adds the daffodil,
Which comes before the swallow dares, and takes
Beside the hazel, the sallow now enlivens the hedges with its catkins full of yellow dust; and the alder trees are covered with a kind of black bunches, which are the male and female flowers. The leaves of honeysuckles are nearly expanded. In the gardens, the peach and nectarine, the almond, the cherry and apricot trees, come into full bud during this month. The gardeners find plenty of employment in pruning trees, digging and manuring beds, and sowing a great variety of seeds, both for the flower and kitchen garden.
In the latter part of this month the equinox happens, when day and night are of equal length all over the globe: or rather, when the sun is an equal time above and below the horizon. For the morning and evening twilight make apparent day considerably longer than night. This takes place again in September. The first is called the vernal, the latter, the autumnal equinox. At these times storms and tempests are particularly frequent, whence they have always been the terror of mariners. March winds are boisterous and vehement to a proverb.
THE FIRST DAY OF MARCH..
It is the first mild day of March,
Each minute sweeter than before,
That stands beside our door.
There is a blessing in the air
Which seems a sense of joy to yield To the bare trees, and mountains bare,
And grass in the green field.
My sister! ('tis a wish of mine)
Now that our morning meal is done, Make haste your morning task resign,
Come forth and feel the sun.
Edward will come with you; and pray
Put on with speed your woodland dress; And bring no book; for this one day
We'll give to idleness.
No joyless forms shall regulate
Our living calendar;
The opening of the year.
Love now an universal birth,
From heart to heart is stealing, From earth to man, from man to earth
It is the hour of feeling.
One moment now may give us more
Than fifty years of reason;
The spirit of the scason.
Some silent laws our hearts will make,
Which they shall long obey;
Our temper from to-day.
And from the blessed power that rolls
About, below, above,
They all shall turn to love.
Then come, my sister! come, I pray,
With speed put on your woodland dress;
In the Spring a fuller crimson comes upon the robin's breast
TENNYSON. So says our finest living poet; and turning to the page of another poet, a most eloquent interpreter of Nature, a perfect landscape-painter in words, we say with him,“ What can equal the delight of our hearts at the very first glimpse of Spring! A spirit of tenderness, a burst of freshness and luxury of feeling possess us; and let fifty springs have broken upon us, this joy, unlike many joys of time, is not an atom impaired. Are we not young? Are we not boys ? Do we not break, by the power of awakened thoughts, into all the rapturous scenes of all our happier years ? There is something in the freshness of the soil
, in the mossy bank, the balmy air, the voices of birds, the early and delicious flowers, that we have seen and felt only in childhood and spring."
At this season gardens are becoming interesting to their possessors; and as you walk along past cottages and country-houses, you see the inhabitants astir within them, turning over the fresh mellow mould, planting and sowing for the coming year. All is activity and hope. Look into that cottage garden through the old mossy pales, and see how gay are the little sunny flowers already. There are clumps of dog-tooth violets, rows of yellow daffodils, polyanthuses, and those pretty lilac primroses which only seem to flourish in the gardens of the poor ; there is the red-flowered mezereon, and over the sunny front of the cottage the china-rose already giving promise of bloom in its many pink-striped buds. Walking on through the old crofts we find one of the loveliest of our English wild flowers, the wild daffodil
, nodding its graceful head to the brisk wind which sweeps over it, and down in the little dingle below we hear the voices of the children who are gathering primroses which grow there by thousands among the mossy
stumps of trees that were felled in their grandfather's time; this brings us within sound of a rookery whose busy inhabitants
With noisy caw
Let us pause here for a few moments and watch these curious creatures at their work, and remember the while what Bishop Stanley has told us about them.
“A farmer,” he tells us, “ rented a farm in the county of Essex some years ago, where he had not resided long, before a number of rooks came and built their nests upon trees immediately surrounding the premises, and multiplied so much in the course of three or four years, as to form a considerable rookery, which he much prized. About this time, however, he was induced to take a larger farm, which obliged him to change his residence and forsake his rooks; but to his great surprise and pleasure the whole rookery manifested such an attachment to him, as led them to desert their former habitation, and accompany him to his new abode, which was about three-quarters of a mile off, and there they have continued to flourish ever since.” It should be added that this person was strongly attached to all animals whatsoever, and that he always experiences a striking return of affection even from the least docile of them.
Could we dive into all the mysteries of a rookery, a page in the book of nature would be opened filled with much that 'man's philosophy hath never dreamed of.' Without any assignable cause, a party will secede from an old-established rookery, and form a new one. A case of this sort occurred about ten years ago, in the parish of Alderley in Cheshire. Seven pairs of rooks, supposed to have come from an old rookery about two miles distant, where an extent of wood admitted of unlimited accommodation, took up their residence in a clump of trees and proceeded to build. There they have continued ever since, the number of nests increasing as follows:-In 1828 there were seven nests; in 1829, nine; in 1830, thirteen; in 1831, twenty-four; in 1832, thirty-three; in 1833, upwards of fifty. Another instance of unaccountable removal from an accustomed place