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poet, or modern one, or an essayist of the English Augustan age) as a positive and certain acquaintance, that we are fortunate enough to have always with us in our studies, to reason with us, and counsel us on the business of life, and teach us the true pleasures of it; or at our table, to laugh and be merry with us, and wile away the slow February hours with his wit, and `quips, and cranks, and wanton wiles,
Of winters, past or coming, void of care,
Well pleased with delights which present are; or by the inspiring voice of his songs of summer and of spring, lift us from the thorn-stool of restlessness, to sit on the sofa of ease; and with some sweet words of sovereign power to stir the sluggish spirit, as with a magician's muttered charm, or some wonder-working balsam, cleanse the sick heart of the “lees and settlings of the melancholy blood,' that perilous stuff' which weighs down nature with leaden loads of heavy thoughts, and makes this 'goodly earth seem no other than a flat and sterile promontory,' and • life itself no better than a weed,' and give to our disordered and aching senses, calm contemplation and poetic ease.'
Leave to enjoy myself. That place that does
About the beginning of the month, the woodlark, one of our earliest and sweetest songsters, renews his note.
Spirit and Manners of the Age, Vol. iii, p. 41.
: The thrush now.commences his song, and tom-tits are seen hanging on the eaves of barns and thatched out-houses, particularly if the weather be snowy and
The harsh, loud voice of the missel-thrush is now heard. The yellow.hammer and chaffinch are heard towards the end of the month.- About this time also, or the beginning of March, if the weather be mild, the hedge-sparrow commences its chirping note, as indicative of the approach of the pairing season.-See T.T. for 1823, pp. 54-55.
Turkey-cocks now strut and gobble. Partridges begin to pair; the house-pigeon has young; fieldcrickets open their holes: and wood-owls hoot : gnats play about, and insects swarm under sunny hedges; the stone-curlew clamours; and frogs croak. By the end of February, the raven has gener laid its eggs, and begun to sit. Moles commence their subterraneous operations. In our attempts to improve on nature, we frequently defeat our own purposes. Farmers are extremely anxious to get rid of moles, whose hillocks, it must be confessed, destroy the smooth level of grass and corn-fields, when they are very abundant; but it has been found in some farms, by experience, that when moles are extirpated, worms increase so prodigiously, that the moles have been wished for again, as the least evil of the two.-About this time, the green woodpecker is heard in the woods making a loud noise. The heron 'booms along the sounding marsh.'
If the weather be mild, a walk in the garden will discover to us many pleasing objects; among these, the botanist and the admirer of Nature's beauties will not consider the modest snowdrop beneath his passing notice,--and will watch its gradual protrusion from the bosom of the all-nourishing earth, and the final expansion of its beautifully wbite corollas, with no common interest. The bloom-buds of the fruit trees may be seen to swell every day, and imagination already pictures the garden one sheet of fragrant blossom. The laurustinus is still in blossom, and so is the China-rose. The buds of the lilac tree are very forward, and only wait the signal to burst their prison-house. Mosses now occupy the attention of the botanist, and much amusement may be derived from observing the various species that may be seen this month, clinging to the roots of trees and near ponds, or in a marshy soil.
THE SALMON.—The deep water, or submarine haunts of the salmon, are unknown; those retreats to which they betake themselves in their debilitated condition, after spawning, and from which they issue forth in their highest vigour. They begin to approach the coast and enter the rivers, as stragglers, about February, increasing in numbers towards May and June; when the drought and heat of summer render the streams unfit for their reception. At this period they crowd, in shoals, towards the coast, and roam about in the estuaries (certain engines for catching fish), until the autumnal floods again entice them to enter the rivers. While thus detained on the coast, and in the estuaries, they are pursued and preyed upon by numerous herds of seals and grampuses, which consume many more than fall to the lot of the fisherman. The early run fish are in good condition, the roe being still small, and they seem to be destined to mount towards the higher and more distant branches of the river. Towards August and September, the roe has acquired such a size as to render the fish nearly useless as food, and greatly to limit the extent of its migrations. Having arrived at suitable spawning ground, salmon pair, and proceed to the shallow gravelly fords, at the top and bottom of pools, and there, in company, make their spawning bed, which sometimes reaches from twelve feet in length to ten in breadth. This bed is furrowed by the parent fish working up against the stream, and the spawn is deposited and covered at the same time. This process frequently occupies more than a week; during which, the eggs deposited by a single fish, sometimes amount to the astonishing number of twenty thousand! This spawning season extends from the end of October to the beginning of February, and, according to very satisfactory evidence, it occurs nearly about the same time throughout all the rivers of the United Kingdom. The parent fish having thus accomplished the important purposes of their migration into the river, now retire into the deeper pools, whence, after remaining for a considerable time, they direct their course towards the sea, chiefly during the months of February, March, and April-the male fish appearing to migrate earlier than the females.
The eggs of the salmon remain in the gravel for several months, exposed to the influence of running water. In the course of the month of March, and nearly about the same period in all our rivers, the fry are evolved. When newly hatched, they are scarcely an inch in length, of the most delicate structure, and, for awhile, connected with the egg. Upon leaving the spawning bed, the fry betake themselves to the neighbouring pools, where they speedily increase to two or three inches in length. In April, May, and June, they migrate towards the sea, keeping near the margin, or still water, in the river; and when they reach the estuary, they betake themselves to a deeper and more sheltered course, and escape to the unknown haunts of their race, to return shortly after as grilses, along with the more aged individuals. All these seaward migrations of the parent fish, and the fry, are influenced, and greatly accelerated, by the occurrence of floods in the rivers.
Fishes appear to execute annually two great migrations. By one of these shiftings, they forsake the deep water for a time, and approach the shallow shores; and by the other, they return to their more concealed haunts. These movements are connected with the purposes of spawning, the fry requiring to come into life, and to spend a certain portion of their youth, in situations different from those which are suited to the period of maturity. It is in obedience to these arrangements that the cod and haddock, the mackerel and herring, annually leave the deeper and less accessible parts of the ocean, the region of the zoophytic tribes, and deposit their spawn within that zone of marine vegetation which fringes our coasts, extending from near the high-water mark of neap tides to a short distance beyond the low-water mark of spring tides. Amidst the shelter in this region, afforded by the groves of arborescent fuci, the young fish were wont, in comfort, to spend their infancy; but since these plants have been so frequently cut down to procure materials for the manufacture of kelp, and the requisite protection with