Page images

The Naturalist's Diary

For JUNE 1823.
The plant, upspringing from the seed,

Expands into a perfect flow'r;
The virgin-daughter of the mead,

Wooed by the sun, the wind, the show'r;
In loveliness beyond compare,
It toils not, spins not, knows no care,

Trained by the secret hand that brings
All beauty out of waste and rude,

It blooms a season,-dies, -and flings
Its germs abroad in solitude.

MONTGOMERY. The region of Flora, with its odours and endless hues, constitutes, in this month, one of our most pleasing and innocent recreations; for, if the weather have been mild and favourable, the flower-garden is in all its glory at the commencement of June. Now there arc flowers

Of pleasant odours all, and lustrous blowing,
That do enrich the air on which they feed,

And far around a light and fragrance spread. Among these, the rose, the type of love and beauty, holds a pre-eminent rank; and yet of this beautiful and delicate flower the number is often diminished by the attacks of insects; for the bud is too frequently

Bit by an envious worm,
Ere it can spread its sweet leaves to the air,
Or dedicate its beauty to the Sun.

Now, like care, the caterpillar eats

The leaves of the spring's sweetest book, the rose. The Austrian rose blossoms in the early part of this month. Of tributes to the rose our volumes can boast an ample collection'; but we may still add to the number.

i See particularly T. T. for 1822, pp. 184-186, for some beautiful lines on the rose by Hafez; and an account of the delicious garden of Negauristan, which is filled with rose-trees of fourteen feet in height, laden with thousands of flowers, and whose groyes resound with the enchanting melody of multitudes of nightingales.

Trembling fear
Plucks roses from her cheeks, which soon appear
Full blown again with anger; red and white
Did, in this conflict of her passions, fight
For the pre-eminence.


At ev'ry turn she made a little stand,
And thrust among the thorns her lily hand
To draw the rose ; and ev'ry rose she drew
She shook the stalk, and brushed away the dew.
Then party-coloured flow'rs of white and red
She wove, to make a garland for her head.

Palamon and Arcite. · Innumerable herbs and flowers embellish our gardens, gratify our sense of smell, and purify and renovate the atmosphere in the pleasant month of June. The fields of clover (trifolium pratense), which are now in blossom, produce a delightful fragrance. The sweet-scented vernal grass (anthoxanthum odoratum), which is the cause of the very delightful scent of hay, flowers in this month, and diffuses its fragrance through the country.

About the beginning of June, the pimpernel (ana. gallis arvensis), thyme (thymus serpyllum), the bitter sweet nightshade (solanum dulcamara), white bryony, the dog-rose (rosa canina), and the poppy' (papaver somniferum), have their flowers full blown. The milky juice of the poppy is the well-known and valuable opium of the shops, the soother of all our

1 On the Poppy.
When life's red stream with quickened impulse flows,
Impetuous struggling through th' obstructed brain,
And hot as Ætna's burning lava glows,
When, wasting wide, it seeks the distant main;
When Reason staggers with the stroke of Pain,
And Superstition's spectres hover round;
While Frenzy sees red lightnings scathe the plain
That erst with Fancy's sweetest flow'rs was crowned ;
Where shall the harassed wretch for succour fly?
Nor faith nor hope can now afford him aid;
For Vengeance waves her flaming falchion high,
And o'er the grave hangs Horror's baleful shade!
Blest Poppy! thou, surpassing ev'ry flow'r,
Afford'st a sov'reign balm for this distressing hour.


aches and pains. The single white poppy produces the best opium : the seed affords an excellent oil for the table, equal to olive oil; and the same seed is also, when eaten, considered of as good flavour as the hazel-nut kernel.–See our last volume, p. 183.

The fox-glove (digitalis), which produces a beautiful flower, blossoms in this month as well as in the next. It is found wild in various parts of England in great perfection, but is not to be met with, we believe, in a wild state near London.

The common white lily (lilium candidum) is now in flower. This splendid native of the Levant' (observes our ingenious correspondent from the banks of the Severn) has been now naturalized in our gardens above two hundred years, and yet retains a place with the holly-hock, a Chinese beauty of still earlier introduction, about our farm-houses, and in the little borders of our more antient cottages; but the Mexican fancy of the hour, the Dahlia, begins to intrude upon them, and perhaps may banish the .“ ignobile vulgus” of an elder day. We cannot reasonably place any faith or dependence upon so mutable a circumstance as the blooming of a plant; yet some of the Gloucestershire peasantry entertain an idea, that, from the favourable or unfavourable blossoming of the white lily, they can guess at the price, that year, of wheat per bushel. A season congenial to the growth of one plant may be detrimental to the increase of another, or the villagers may have noted an occasional occurrence, and made it a general criterion: however this may be, it is certain that, from the remarks of several years, there has been a very great irregularity in the number of blossoms produced from the spikes of this plant; and in the years 1820, 21, and 22 (great wheat years), the paucity of its blossoms afforded no reason to apprehend the decay of a plant, which, in some preceding and unfavourable corn seasons, indicated health and luxuriance."

Where yonder lilies wanton with the air,

And no autumnal blasts have blown to fade,

If dow'rs thou seek'st, a festive wreath to braid,
Bend thy search thither, thou wilt find thein there;
Not in the arches of the forest, where

The branching oaks extend unmoving shade;
Of Spring's minnter verdure disarrayed,
The earth beyond their twisted roots is bare,
Save where perchance the hop, with tendril curled,
Or ivy, stringed, may seek and twine around

Some stems amidst the forest chiefs that tower:
So, in the mightier landscape of the world,

The flowers of joy and love are seldom found
At the stern feet of knowledge or of power.

Sixty-five Sonnets, 8c. The common jay (corvus glandarius) in this month frequents our gardens, and makes great havock in the bean-rows. This bird is remarkable for the beauty of the feathers forming the greater coverts of his wings : in the other parts of his body, the plumage is plain and sober, and his form heavy and inelegant. In general they are extremely wary, cautious birds; but in this season, about which time their brood is fledged, their boldness is remarkable. Having once tasted of the garden beans, nothing seems to intimidate them, and they persevere in the indulgence of this luxury as long as one of the brood or any of the crop remains. A parent bird descends from a tree into the rows, and soon announces his discovery by a low but particular scream, and all the family hasten to the plunder: this over, they have no other inducement to frequent our dwellings; the mother returns to the woods with all her chattering children, and becomes the same wild and cautious creature as before. Many of our birds separate early from their brood, as soon as they are able to provide for themselves; but the jay and her family associate during all the autumn and winter months, and only depart to become founders of new establishments. They seem very fond of each other's company, and are

seldom found at any great distance apart. We see them in winter under tall hedges, or on the sunny sides of woods and copses, seeking for crabs, acorns, or the grubs and worms hidden under cow-dung, feeding in perfect silence, but so timid and watchful, that in this season the sportsman seldom gets near them. When disturbed, they take shelter in the depth of the thicket, and call to each other in a harsh and loud voice that resounds through the covert. The Welsh call the jay 'screch y coed, the screamer of the wood. They may easily be caught in the garden with a rat-trap baited with a bean.

The swarming of bees takes place about the commencement of June.

As Bees, that when the skies are calm and fair,

In June, or the beginning of July,
Launch forth colonial settlers in the air,

Round, round, and round-about, they whiz, they fly,
With eager worry whirling here and there,

They know not whence, nor whither, where, nor why,
In utter hurry-scurry, going, coming,
Maddening the summer air with ceaseless humming;
Till the strong frying-pan's energetic jangle

With thrilling thrain their feebler hum doth drown,
Then passive and appeased, they droop and dangle,

Clinging together close, and clust'ring down,
Linked in a multitudinous living tangle

Like an old tassel of a dingy brown;
The joyful farmer sees, and spreads his way,
And reckons on a setiled sultry day.


One of the most interesting scenes in June, is, in its perfect state, the angler's may-fly (ephemera vulgata), which appears about the 4th, and continues nearly a fortnight. It emerges from the water, where it passes its aurelia state, about six in the evening, and dies about eleven at night. There are also the golden-green beetle (scarabæus auratus) ; various kinds of flies; the cuckoo-spit insect (cicada spųmaria), and the stag-beetle (lucanus cervus). The

« PreviousContinue »