صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

er Phenometion with this month.

Eclipses of Jupiter's Satellites. ? Of more than twenty eclipses of the first and second

satellites of this planet, which happen in the course

of this month, only one will be visible at the Royal : Observatory, viz.

Emersion.
Second Satellite, 4th day, at 58 m. after 6 in the evening.

Other Phenomena. The Moon will be in conjunction with Mercury at 14 m. after 8 in the morning of the 2d of this month. Mars and Mercury will also be in conjunction on the same day, when Mercury will be 59' south of Mars. The Moon will be in conjunction with Jupiter at 26 m. after 1 in the afternoon of the 5th. Mercury will be in superior conjunction at 15 m. after 10 in the morning of the 10th. The Moon will likewise be in conjunction with ß in Taurus at 23 m. after 3 in the afternoon of the 11th; with « in Leo, at 5 m. after 11 in the evening of the 16th; withæ in Virgo, at 1m. after 12 on the 21st; and with a in Scorpio, at 21 m. past 7 in the morning of the 25th.

The Naturalist's Diary

For FEBRUARY 1821.
O Winds, howl not so long and loud;
Nor with your vengeance arm the snow;
Bear hence each beavy-loaded cloud,

And let the twinkling star-beams glow. This month has frequently a most wintry aspect; the ground is covered with snow; the rivers are frozen ; and the cold is intense, the thermometer being sometimes below the freezing point, though generally found at noon between 36° and 46°. February is sometimes characterised by mild weather, as in some recent seasons; this circumstance is thus

alluded to by Mason, in a Sonnet on his Birth-day,
February 23:
In the long course of seventy years and one,
Oft have I known on this my natal day,

Hoar frost and sweeping snow prolong their sway,
The wild winds whistle, and the forests groan;
But now Spring's smile has veiled stern Winter's frown;
· And now the birds on every budding spray

Chaunt orisons, as to the morn of May. The severe weather usually experienced in February breaks up with a sudden thaw, accompanied by wind and rain; torrents of water pour from the hills, and the snow is completely dissolved. Rivers swell and inundate the surrounding country, often carrying away bridges, cattle, mills, gates, &c., and causing great injury to the farmer. :: Now sweeping floods rush down the slope,

Wide scattering ruin : Ice breaks from the banks of pools and streams, and floats, a sign of relenting frost and á milder temperature: we pass it by; it swims away with the current, and is lost:

A moment seen, then gone for ever. In this apparently simple circumstance of ice floating on the water, the great mass of mankind are perhaps little sensible is displayed an astonishing instance of the benevolence and foreknowledge of the Deity!—It is almost a general law of nature, that bodies in losing their caloric, or matter of heat, become heavier; but to this law, water is most admirably an exception: passing from fluidity to a state of solidity in ice, it loses its heat, yet becomes lighter! But for this deviation in the order of Divine appointment, the arctic and temperate regions of our globe could not be inhabited by beings constituted as we are. In a hard winter the surface of the water freezes to a depth proportionate to the severity of the season, but a considerable portion of the element

retains its fluidity and warmth, which on returning spring, in conjunction with the atmosphere, gives out a portion of its heat to the ice, and dissolves it. Did ice become heavier than water, upon the surface freezing, it would sink to the bottom, and expose a fresh surface, which would freeze again, and sink likewise; and thus a constant fluid surface would be presented until the whole body of the water became congealed, and all the gulphs, lakes, rivers, and waters of the greater portion of Europe, Asia, and America, would become a dense body of ice, in which nothing could live, and which the suns of no summer could reduce to fluidity: the earth would be chilled, and become a sterile body. From the little we are permitted to know of creation, and which is measured out to man, from age to age, what wonderful love and omniscience do we find! These bright gleams of wisdom, and peeps into the secrets of divine lore, should render us blind and fatuous creatures, very humble, and very grateful. The common air we breathe, had it been compounded otherwise than it is, would be the destruction, not the support of animal life: had it not been transparent and elastic, the senses of seeing and hearing would have been useless to us; and the analogy of reason teaches us to believe every portion of creation filled with the same prescience, aptitude, and mercy. We cannot conceive the joys of a future state, but we can comprehend nothing to be so ecstatic as the free developement and contemplation of Divine wisdom.

In the course of this month all nature begins, as it were, to prepare for its revivification. God, as the Psalmist expresses it, renews the face of the earth;' and animate and inanimate nature seem to vie with each other in opening the way to spring. About the 4th or 5th, the woodlark (alauda arborea), one of our earliest and sweetest songsters, renews his note; a week after, rooks begin to pair; the thrush sings; and the yellow-hammer is heard. The chaffinch sings; and the redbreast continues to warble. Turkey-cocks strut and gobble. Partridges (tetrao perdix) begin to pair; the house-pigeon has young; field crickets open their holes; missel thrushes couple; and wood owls hoot;-gnats play about, and insects swarm under sunny hedges; the stonecurlew (otis oedicnemus) clamours; and frogs (rana temporaria) croak.

By the latter end of February, the raven (corvus corax) has generally laid its eggs, and begun to sit. Moles (talpa europæus) commence their subterraneous operations. See T.T. for 1814, p. 49, and T. T. for 1818, p. 43. .

About this time, the green woodpecker (picus viridis) is heard in the woods, making a loud noise".

Bullfinches return to our gardens in February, and though timid half the year, are now fearless and persevering: the mischief effected by these birds at this period is greater than is perhaps supposed, and we are deprived of a large portion of the produce of many of our best fruit-trees by this insidious plunderer. The idea that has been entertained sometimes, that they only select such buds as contain the larva of an insect, and so render us a kindness by destroying a colony in embryo, is well meant, but not the fact. They are very dainty and particular in their assortment, seldom feeding on two species at the same time, commencing with the germs of the large or earlier gooseberry. When the cherry buds begin to swell, he quits the gooseberry, and makes tremendous havock here: the Orleans and gage plums next appear, and attract him from the remains of the cherry: having banquetted awhile here, he leaves

our gardens entirely, resorting to fields and hedges, · where the sloe in April furnishes him with food, till May brings its plenty, and the pleasures and labours

* See a curious account of the ivory-billed woodpecker of North America, in our last volume, p. 64-66.

[ocr errors]

of incubation occupy his time, and draw him from our observation.

Of “a clear frosty day' often experienced in February, the following beatiful picture is drawn by the poet:

From sunward rocks the icicle's faint drop,
By lonely river-side, is heard, at times,
To break the silence deep; for now the stream
Is mute, or faintly gurgles far below
Its frozen ceiling: silent stands the mill,
The wheel immoveable, and shod with ice.
The babbling rivulet, at each little slope,
Flows scantily beneath a lucid veil,
And seems a pearly current liquefied;
While, at the shelvy side, in thousand shapes
Fantastical, the frostwork domes uprear
Their tiny fabrics, gorgeously superb
With ornaments beyond the reach of art;
Here vestibules of state, and colonnades;
There Gothic castles, grottos, heather fanes,
Rise in review, and quickly disappear;
Or through some fairy palace fancy roves,
And studs, with ruby lamps, the fretted roof;
Or paints with every colour of the bow
Spotless parterres, all freaked with snow-white flowers,
Flowers that no archetype in Nature own;
Or spreads the spiky crystals into fields
Of bearded grain, rustling in autumn breeze.

GRAHAME. The flowers of the crocus (crocus vernus) appear, before their leaves are grown to their full length; the barren strawberry (fragaria sterilis); the laurustinus (viburnum tinus); and the yew-tree (taxus baccata), are in flower. The elder-tree (sambucus nigra) begins to put forth its flower buds, and the catkips of the hazel are very conspicuous in the hedges. The gooseberry bush (ribes grossularia) and the red currant (ribes rubrum) show their young leaves about the end of the month. The hepatica (anemone hepatica), unless the weather be severe, gives brilliance to the garden with its bright pink flowers; and the hounds-tongue (cynoglossum) with its more modest flowers of pink or light blue. Many plants

« السابقةمتابعة »