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the sun shines bright everywhere, it should throw such a still brighter beam upon these particular spots.
“What a beautiful picture is now presented, when the numerous flock is driven to the fold as the day declines ! its scattered members converging towards a point as they enter the narrow opening of their nightly enclosure, which they gradually fill and settle into, as a shallow stream runs into a bed that has been prepared for it, and there settles into a still pool. And again in the early morning, when the slender barrier that confines them is removed, they crowd and hurry out, gently intercepting each other; and as they get free, pour forth their white fleeces over the open field, as a lake that has broken its bank pours its waters over the adjoining land; in each case the bells and meek voices of the patient people making music as they move, and the shepherd standing carelessly by leaning on his crook – even as shepherds did in the vale of Arcady, leaving the care of the flock to their half-reasoning dogs.
“Another picture of the season is, a foreground ; on one
back of one of the ruminators, a pert magpie has perhaps perched herself. The extreme distance is half
occupied by dim-seen willows, of the same stunted growth with those in front; and the rest shows indistinctly, and half hidden by trees, a little village, its church-spire pointing to
It is like Paul Potter, or Nature, for they are nearly the same.
“ The singing-birds are for the most part busy in providing for or keeping company with their young broods, and consequently this month is comparatively a silent one in the woods and groves. There are some, however, whose happy hearts will not let them be still; and the most persevering of these is the poet of the skies, the skylark. He still pours down a bright rain of melody through the morning, the midday, and the evening skies, till the whole air seems sparkling and alive with the light of his strains ; singing, as Shelley says,
• In the golden lightning
Of the sunken sun,
In a palace-tower,
Soul in secret hour
On the twinkling grass,
All that ever was
Of thy happy strain ?
What shapes of sky or plain ?
Thou of death must deem
Than we mortals dream,
We look before and after,
And pine for what is not:
With some pain is fraught:
Hate, and pride, and fear-
Not to shed a tear,
By the middle of this month we shall lose sight entirely of that most airy, active, and indefatigable of all the winged people, the temple-haunting martlet.' Unlike the rest of its tribe, it breeds but once in the season; and its young, having now acquired much of their astonishing power of wing, young and old all hurry away together, no one can tell whither.. The sudden departure of the above singular species of the swallow tribe, when everything seems to conform together for their delight,--when the winds are hushed, and the summer still lingers, and the air, in which they feed, is laden with plenty for them, and all the troubles and anxieties attendant on the coming of their young broods are at an end,that at the very moment when all these favourable circumstances combine to make them happy, they should suddenly disappear, is one of those facts which have hitherto baffled all inquirers. All that we can make of this mysterious departure is to accept it as an omen—the earliest, and the most certainthat the departure of summer is nigh at hand. “ The ladybird is now very common.
It has been charged, but very wrongfully, with being the cause of those blights which make such havoc among apple-trees; when the fact is, that this insect feeds upon the aphis, which causes the blight, and in many instances the ladybird thus destroys the cause of the disease. It may often be seen in the cankered parts of apple-trees, not sucking their nutritious juices, but devouring the real enemy of the orchard. In the hop counties, the
ladybird is not less useful, as it is well known to destroy the blight which does so much injury to that delicate plant. The following is an address to it from the German, of which we have only the second stanza preserved in English of any long date :
• Ladybird ! ladybird ! pretty one, stay ;
With me shall no mischief betide thee;
Those beautiful winglets beside thee.
Ladybird ! ladybird ! fly away home ;
List, list to their cry and bewailing !
Hark, hark to thy children's bewailing !'
“Except," says Forster, “in showery and wet seasons, this time of the year is remarkably fine. The rich glow of summer in this part of Europe is seldom in perfection till August. It is now that we enjoy settled hot weather, a glowing sky, with varied and beautiful, but not many clouds, and delightfully fragrant cool evenings: the golden yellow of the ripe corn, the idea of plenty inspired by the in-gathering of harvest, the full and mature appearance of the foliage, and every feature of Nature is perhaps more pleasing to look upon than any other of the summer months. Moles become very injurious to the farmer and gardener at this time of the year by bur"rowing under-ground and destroying the roots in the earth : the fine mould gathered from their hills has been used for tulip-beds.
“ Insects still continue to swarm, and to sport in the sun from flower to flower: it is very amusing to observe in the sunshine of an August morning their animation. The beautiful little blue butterfly is then all life and activity, flitting over
the flowers and grass with remarkable vivacity. There seems to be a constant rivalship between this beauty and another no less elegant little beau, though of a different colour, frequenting the same station, attached to the same head of clover or of harebell: whenever they approach, mutual animosity seems to possess them, and darting on each other with courageous rapidity, they buffet and contend until one is driven from the field, or to a considerable distance from his station, when the victor again returns to his post in triumph; and this contention is renewed as long as the brilliancy of the sun animates their courage. Lapwings begin now to congregate. Linnets, sparrows, and other birds, are also seen in flocks. The nest of the harvest-mouse may now be found attached about mid-way to the straws in cornfields.” Gilbert White gives the following account of them :“ I have procured some of the mice mentioned in my
former letters. Their belly is white: a straight line along their sides divides the shades of their back and belly. They never enter into houses ; are carried into ricks and barns with the sheaves; abound in harvest ; and build their nests amidst the straws of the corn above the ground, and sometimes in thistles. They breed as many as eight at a litter, in a little round nest composed of the blades of grass or wheat. One of these nests I procured this autumn, most artificially platted, and composed of the blades of wheat, perfectly round, and about the size of a cricket-ball ; with the aperture so ingeniously closed, that there was no discovering to what part it belonged. It was so compact and well filled, that it would roll across the table without being discomposed, though it contained eight little mice that were naked and blind. As this nest was perfectly full, how could the dam come at her litter respectively, so as to administer a teat to each ? Perhaps she opens different places for that purpose, adjusting them again when the business is over ; but she could not possibly be contained herself in the ball with her young, which also would be daily increasing in