« السابقةمتابعة »
rison, so late as 1598, that the shamrock was a spring plant,“ Yea, the wilde Irish in time of greatest peace impute covetousness and base birth to him, that hath any corn after Christmas, as if it were a point of nobility to consume all within those festival dayes. They willingly eat the bearbe shamrocke, being of a sharp taste, which, as they run, and are chased to and fro, they snatch like beastes out of the ditches.”
This, however, would rather seem to mean water cresses than wood sorrel, which certainly does not grow in ditches. Again he says, “nor is it difficult to account for the substitution of the one plant for the other. Cultivation, which brought in the trefoil, drove out the woodsorrel. The latter, though now not common, was, doubtless, an abundant plant as long as the woods remained ; but these being cut down, partly by the natives to supply their wants, and partly, also, by the government to prevent their enemies from taking refuge in them in the wars, the commonest plant became the scarcest, and it was more easy to obtain that which was cultivated. Upon the whole view of the case, I apprehend it can hardly be doubted, that the oxalis acetosella is the original shamrock of Ireland."*
For tlie reasons above given, I certainly do doubt Mr. Bicheno's conclusion.
SEED TIME.—The copious rains of February, with which the soil has in most seasons been drenched, though well adapted for making the roots of perennial plants send forth shoots, would be unfavourable if continued, for the germination of seeds, which require to be moist, but not soaked, in order to spring well. It is this which renders dry weather at this season so valuable, and which gave rise to the proverb, that “ a bushel of March dust is worth a King's ransom.” When wet weather con: tinues during this month, seeds are apt to fail by becoming mouldy or by rotting; whereas when they are got in dry, they are more certain to germinate vigorously. Self-sown seeds, for the same reason, seldom produce such fine plants as those reared from seeds which have been carefully dried, and kept out of the ground during winter-a fact with which tlorists are well acquainted, as self-sown flowers soon lose all the beauties acquired by cultivation, and return to the character originally belonging to them in the wild state.
* Journal of the Royal Institution, May 1831.
SOLITARY BEES. – Those who are desirious of witnessing the disclosure of some of the early solitary bees, should repair during a sunny morning to some warm sand bank with a southern exposure, where they are almost certain of being gratified with seeing some of these ( Anthophora retusa, &c.) breaking through the clay walls with which the mother bee had the preceding season so carefully enclosed them. I have seen them at Charlton in Kent, as early as the first week in this month, playing about their native holes as briskly as if it had been the middle of May. The main brood, however, were not yet disclosed, but awaited the more genial weather of advancing spring. In the locality just alluded to, many of the cells of these bees were infested with the grubs of a parasite beetle, whose habits I have not seen recorded. It would appear, that the eggs of these beetles are deposited after those of the mother bee, and when hatched, that they feed upon her progeny. The beetle grub is hairy and brown, and the perfect beetle (the species of which I have not yet ascertained) is black marked, with two cross waving lines of pure white. These grubs will not touch the perfect bee, and some for which I could not procure bee larvæ, lived without food for six months, remaining as plump and lively as when first taken from the bee cells wbich they had first invaded.
MEMORY OF Bees. It is interesting to remark, that how far soever bees may wander from their hives (and a mile or two is not uncommon)—they always find their way home. According to the poetical creed, this is done memoriter by the inseet retracing all its wanderings-a doctrine which Rogers, in his Pleasures of Memory, has prettily illustrated :
Who guides the patient pilgrim to her cell?
Instead, however, of this tedious process of retracing their way by means of memory, bees uniformly fly from great distances directly to the hive, as straight as a ball from a musket, and with extreme rapidity. But in departing from the hive upon an excursion, they, for the most part begin by examining the flowers in their immediate neighbourhood. Bees, indeed, seem to possess so very little of the power of memory, that an individual may be seen to search the same blossom two or three
times in the course of a few minutes in utter forgetfulness of having already plundered it of its honey.
THE Chiff-CHAFF.—The earliest migratory bird which we have observed arrive in spring, is the ChiffChaff (Sylvia hypolais ), which may be heard in every patch of wood or copse near London, early in March, repeating its monotonous chaunt, as if it were calling its more tardy companions to hasten their migrative journeyings. Though there is certainly little music in its unvaried note; yet, from its association with the blowing of the primrose, the violet, and other early flowers, it becomes little less pleasing than the similar monotony of the cuckoo, inseparably associated with blossomed hawthorns, or the loud call of the Wryneck, which betokens the near approach of “the leafy month of June.”
THE MORNING AIR.—There is something in the morning air, that while it defies the penetration of our proud and shallow philosophy, adds brightness to the blood, freshness to life, and vigor to the whole frame:
- the freshness of the lip, by the way, is, according to Dr. Marshal Hall, one of the surest marks of health. If ye would be well—therefore, if ye would have your heart dancing gladly, like the April breeze, and your blood flowing like an April brook-up with the lark“ the merry lark," as Shakspeare calls it, which is “ the ploughman's clock” to warn bim of the dawn; up and breakfast on the morning air-fresh with the odour of budding flowers and all the fragrance of the maiden spring ; up from your nerve-destroying down-bed, and from the foul air pent within your close-drawn curtains, and with the sun, “ walk o'er the dew of the far eastern bills.” But we must defend the morning air from the aspersions of those who sit in their close airless studies and talk of the chilling dew and the unwholesome damps of the dawn. We have all the facts in our favour, that the fresh air of the morning is uniformly wholesome; and, having the facts, we pitch such shallow philosophy to fools who have nothing else for a foot-ball.
PERSECUTION OF SUPPOSED ENEMIES.-The attacks made by swallows and other small birds upon