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They may, indeed, often be seen on a sultry day in the fields,
and by the sides of hedges, in search of grasshoppers, or any
such casual food; and often in the early morning, before it
is day, they are up and in quest of dew-worms, which are
their principal food. It is after the rains of February, and
at the beginning of this month, that they pick up a good ,
supply of worms and other grubs which have been drowned.
But the time of their great feast is during the season that the
cockchafer is abroad : you may then hear their hollow husky
voices ringing through the woods where they are feeding. They
also pull up several plants which are injurious to our pastures,
and obtain the larvæ of many kinds of insects that feed at the
roots. I have watched these birds for hours: their airy city
is a town in miniature, filled with mechanics, blackguards, and
idle bird-gentlemen, One poor fellow has been out on a long
journey, and returns home with a rafter to secure his house :
he passes the city gates with his load, and is there plundered
by a ruffian, who either disregards the lawyers of the com-
munity, or is hand-and-glove with them. Sometimes they
quarrel in their nests, falling out, as Irving expresses it, “ for
a share of the blanket.” Then their little ones, a poor callow
naked brood, are pitched from their high tenements by the first
wind, and dashed to atoms, unless they happen to extend one
of their skinny hands to seize upon some branch in descending.
But they love society, if it only be to quarrel with each other.
And then their stately walk in a ploughed field : how leisurely
they lift up one leg after the other, like a gentleman in silk
stockings in bad weather who has a horror of being splashed !
What long conversations they sometimes hold, particularly
after supper, standing upon the edge of their nests, like gossip-
ping neighbours, each beside his door, and talking over the
vents of the day! nodding and bowing, and giving the good-
night to each other; then sinking upon their pillows,

And, eased the putting off
These troublesome disguises which we wear,
Straight side by side are laid.”

The singing-birds now begin to rival each other in harmony; not that we yet hear the full band of choristers, for, with the exception of the wheatear, reed-sparrow, chiff-chaff, the bunting, stone-curlew, and red-legged seamew, we have rarely any other arrivals before next month : but what few warblers we have with us seem willing to exert their powers to make up for the absence of their sweeter-voiced brethren.

The throstle, scarcely surpassed by any other bird excepting the nightingale, pours forth his full wealth of song in every varied form, upheaving his parded breast, and looking out upon the yet bare landscape with bright restless eyes. We hear him singing in the early morning before the round sun has scaled the hill-tops: he keeps up his roll of music throughout the day, and closes at night without any apparent fatigue : there is no diminution of sound, no feebleness; he seems more like a good instrument, which after being played upon for hours sends forth a sweeter sound : he is no weary traveller, who, having gone a long day's journey, drags wearily up the last hill at sunset. You cannot fail to distinguish his voice from among every warbler of the woods ; not that his notes are always alike, but there is some regular modulation, or natural sweetness, which, however varied, “ still does his touch the strain prolong;” and you know it is his own, and could not be deceived even if he had hidden himself in the carcass of the owl. I recollect well, that nearly one of the first birds I reared was a throstle: he was the pride and delight of the whole neighbourhood; even the neighbours forgave his breaking their slumbers so early in the morning for the sweetness of his song. An old fisherman who arose with the break of day, and who resided in the adjoining house, made the opening of his music a clock to get up by; and he never was deceived in the time but once, and that was one really beautiful moonlight morning, which streamed in brilliant beams through the opening in the window-shutters, and lured the lovely bird into a belief that it was day. A cat who loved

his belly better than music at last killed my poor throstle. I have heard a beautiful one singing in Cheapside in the early summer mornings, when the streets have been almost as silent as the fields ; and have often listened to his song until I have fancied myself again at the home of my childhood-have hearkened to his lay, while visions of green fields, and floating meadows, and lonely woods, have arisen before my mind's eye as fresh and lovely as they appeared in the happy days of my boyhood.

“ Varied as his plumes, and as his plumes

Blend beauteous each with each, so run his notes,
Smoothly, with many a happy rise and fall.
How prettily upon his parded breast
The vividly contrasted tints unite
To please the admiring eye! so, loud and soft,
And high and low, all in his notes combine,
In alternation sweet, to charm the ear.”


The snowdrop is now fading away, and you only discover a few withered flowers drooping upon the decaying stalks. But the yellow spring crocus still adorns the gardens; and the parti-coloured one also blooms, with all its gaudy streaks of white and purple ; while the cloth-of-gold crocus rears up its deep rich-dyed bell, and forms a beautiful contrast to the Scotch and the blue spring crocus, of which there are several varieties. The spring snow-flake is also in flower, and the lovely daffodils, of which Herrick says

“ Fair daffodils, we weep to see

You haste away so soon :
As yet the early rising sun
Has not attain'd his noon.

Stay, stay,
Until the hastening day

Has run-
But to the even song ;
And having pray'd together, we

Will go with you along!

« We have short time to stay as you ;

We have as short a spring,
As quick a growth to meet decay,
As you or anything :

We die,
hours do, and dry

Like to the summer's rain,
Or as the pearls of morning dew,

Ne'er to be found again.”

We have now the great jonquil, and the scented jonquil, with its rich stem of velvet-looking flowers sending forth “ Sabean odours.” The Roman and Oriental narcissus are also in flower; the latter distinguished by its beautiful fragrance, and well known as an ornamenter of bowpots ; with all its varieties of pale yellow, with golden cups, and white contrasted with orange, and these mingled with others of different hues, an endless train.” The March marigold, too, begins to unfold its large bright yellow flowers, illuminating the sides of ditches in the yet damp marshes, or throwing a glow over the pebbly margin of some solitary stream. I might also add a list of many others just coming into flower, or even now expanded if the weather is mild ; but as a mention of too many of these early adorners of the earlier spring would lead the mind into summer dreams, I shall throw a March cloud over them, wishing to have it remembered that the winds are yet piping loud, and the mornings too often piercing cold, and the days sometimes gloomy and overcast, with showers and sleet, and keen airs, that make the ploughboy halt to blow his nails, or beat his arms over his bosom until his hands glow. Still there is something lovable in the features of March : sunny skies and sunny showers, changing at times almost in an instant into shade, you see the bright sunlight moving over the young grass, and making the tender green look almost like yellow; then in a moment all is dull—a cloud has passed over, and the golden tints have vanished. This effect

is very beautiful. Crocuses like drops of gold are scattered over the meadows, and the violets peep from sheltered nooks; the lilies also burst their buds, and there is a flush of emerald dots upon the gooseberry and currant trees. The bee too is sometimes out, and flies murmuring over the opening flowers, as if he whispered into their bosoms tidings of lovely days, and made known to them that May with all its flowers was at hand.

The elder begins to put forth its leaves——that picturesque ornament of wild fences, which appears so beautiful in summer, with its white bunches of flowers, and is as great a decorator of autumn, with its dark purple berries. Many and dear are my recollections of this tree : the pellet-guns which, when boys, we made of its branches, and standing front to front, waged war; chewing the refuse of the flax-dressers in our teeth, and cramming it into the hollow tubes with a youthful soldierlike pride, then firing our (not always harmless) pellets at each other. There are also remembrances of "elder-berrying days,” when we sallied out to gather the glowing bunches, from which our old grandams extracted their village-wine, which was cir.culated so freely at the Christmas feasts; sometimes dyeing each pther's faces with the purple juice, and returning from our excursions with shouts and huzzas, like so many young Indians coming to storm the hamlet.

Nothing can give more pleasure to a lover of Nature than to watch the putting out of young buds and flowers at this season. You perceive a growing greenness on every hand--a wonderful increase after a night of rain and a day of sunshine. are also saluted by the song of some well-known bird that has long been a stranger. The daisy springs up like an old friend of whose absence you often have dreamed. The earth has awoke as from a slumber, and, shaking off her winter's sleep, begins to robe herself for the festival of spring, and looks out with delight upon her faithful attendants, who are ever on the watch. England is a lovely country! and the rich squire

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