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MAY.

Now the bright Morning-star, Day's harbinger,
Comes dancing from the east, and leads with her
The flowery May, who from his green lap throws
The yellow cowslip and the pale primrose.

Hail, bounteous May! that dost inspire

Mirth, and youth, and warm desire,

Woods and groves are of thy dressing,

Hill and dale both boast thy blessing!
Thus we salute thee with our early song,
And welcome thee, and wish thee long.

Milton.

Mat has ever been the favourite month for poetical description, but the praises originally lavished upon it were uttered in climates more southern than our own. In such it really unites all the soft beauties of spring with the radiance of summer, and possesses warmth enough to cheer and invigorate, without overpowering. With us, especially since we have reckoned by the new style, great part of the month is yet too chill for a perfect enjoyment of the charms of nature, and frequent injury is sustained by the flowers and young fruits during its course, from blights and blasting winds. May-day, though still observed as a rural festival, has often little pleasure to bestow except that arising from the name; while the scanty garlands composed in honour of the day, rather display the immature infancy than the luxuriant youth of the year. In a very elegant poem, entitled, "The Tears of Old May Day," this newer rival is thus described:—

Nor wonder, man, that Nature's bashful face,
And opening charms her rude embraces fear:

Is she not sprung of April's wayward race,
The sickly daughter of th' unripen'd year,

With showers and sunshine in her fickle eyes,

With hollow smiles proclaiming treacherous peace;

With blushes, harbouring in their thin disguise
The blast that riots on the Spring's increase?

The latter part of the month, however, on the whole, is even in this country sufficiently profuse of beauties. The earth is covered with the freshest green of the grass* and

• Many a poet has sung the praises of flowers: here is a sweet little song to the grass, by an American poet, which perhaps will not be out of place :—

THE VOICE OF THE GRASS.

Here I come creeping, creeping everywhere;

By the dusty roadside,

On the sunny hill-side,

Close by the noisy brook,

In every shady nook,
I come creeping, creeping everywhere.

Here I come creeping, smiling everywhere:
All round the open door,
Where sit the aged poor,
Here where the children play
In the bright and merry May,

I come creeping, creeping everywhere.

Here I come creeping, creeping everywhere;
In the noisy city street,
My pleasant face you'll meet,
Cheering the sick at heart,
Toiling his busy part,

Silently creeping, creeping everywhere.

Here I come creeping, creeping everywhere;
Tou cannot see me coming,
Nor hear my low sweet humming;
For in the starry night,
And the glad morning light,

I come quietly creeping everywhere.

Here I come creeping, creeping everywhere:
More welcome than the flowers,
In summer's pleasant hours;
The gentle cow is glad,
And the merry bird not sad

To see me creeping, creeping everywhere.

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young corn, and adorned with numerous flowers opening on every side. The trees put on all their verdure; the hedges are rich in fragrance from the snowy blossoms of the hawthorn; and the orchards display their highest beauty in the delicate bloom of the apple-blossoms.

One boundless blush, one white-empurpled shower

Of mingled blossoms. Thomson.

All these promising signs of future plenty are, however, liable to be cut off by the blights which peculiarly occur in this month, and frequently commit most dreadful ravages. The history and cause of blights is by no means exactly ascertained, and it is a subject which, from its importance, deserves investigation. There appear to be three kinds of blights: the first occurs in the early spring, about the time of the blossoming of the peach, and is nothing more than a dry frosty wind usually from the north or north-east, and principally affects the blossoms, causing them to fall off 'prematurely, and consequently to become unproductive. The two other kinds occur in this month, affecting principally the apple and pear-trees, and sometimes the corn. One of these consists in the appearance of an immense multitude of aphides, a kind of small insect of a brown, or black, or green colour, attacking the leaves of plants, and entirely encrusting the young stems. These pests are, I believe, always found to make their appearance after a north-east wind; and it has been

Here I come creeping, creeping everywhere;

When you're number'd with the dead,
In your still and narrow bed,
In the happy spring I'll come,
And deck your silent home,

Creeping, silently creeping everywhere.

Here I come creeping, creeping everywhere;

My humble song of praise

Most gratefully I raise

To Him at whose command

I beautify the land,
Creeping, silently creeping everywhere.

supposed by many, that they are actually conveyed hither by the wind.

For oft engendered by the hazy north,

Myriad on myriads, insect armies warp

Keen in the poisoned breeze; and wasteful eat,

Through buds and bark, into the blackened core

Their eager way. Thomson.

Many circumstances indeed favour this opinion, as the suddenness with which they appear, being generally in the course of a single night; and those trees that are sheltered from the wind being uninfected; indeed, it frequently happens that a single branch that chances to be screened, will escape unhurt, while the rest of the tree is quite covered with these minute destroyers. A third reason may be derived from the inactivity of these insects; they generally remain almost immovable on the branch or leaf where they are first seen, and are, for the most part, unprovided with wings; yet the places where they are commonly found, are those parts of a tree which are furthest from the ground, and most exposed to the wind. The last kind of blight is preceded by a south or south-west wind, unaccompanied by insects; the effects of which are visible in the burnt appearance of all leaves and shoots that are exposed to that quarter; it attacks all vegetables indiscriminately, but those suffer most from it which are the loftiest, and the leaves of which are the youngest; the oak therefore is peculiarly injured.

A cold, and windy May is, however, accounted favourable to the corn; which, if brought forward by early warm weather, is apt to run into stalk, while its ears remain thin and light.

The leafing of trees is commonly completed in this month. It begins with the aquatic kinds, such as the willow, poplar, and alder, proceeds to the lime, sycamore, and horse-chesnut, and concludes with the oak, beech, ash, walnut, and mulberry; these last, however, are seldom in full leaf till June.

No tree in all the grove but has its charms,
Though each its hue peculiar; paler some
And of a wannish gray; the willow such
And poplar, that with silver lines his leaf.
And ash, far stretching his umbrageous arm.
Of deeper green the elm; and deeper still,

BUTTEECTTPS. 195

Lord of the woods, the long surviving oak.

Some glossy-leaved and shining in the sun,

The maple, and the beech of oily nuts

Proline, and the lime at dewy eve

Diffusing odours: nor unnoted pass

The sycamore, capricious in attire,

Now green, now tawny, and ere autumn yet

Have changed the woods, in scarlet honours bright.

Cowper's Task.

Among the numerous wild flowers, none attracts more notice than the cowslip,

Whose bashful flowers
Declining, hide their beauty from the sun,
Nor give their spotted bosoms to the gaze
Of hasty passenger.

On hedge-banks the wild germander, of a fine azure blue, is conspicuous, and the whole surface of meadows is often covered by the yellow crowfoot. These flowers, also called buttercups, are erroneously supposed to communicate to the butter at this season its rich yellow tinge, for the cows will not touch the plant on account of its acrid biting quality; this is strikingly visible in pastures, where, though all the grass is cropped to the very roots, the numerous tufts of this weed spring up, flower, and shed their seeds in perfect security, unmolested by the cattle; they are indeed cut down and made into hay together with all the other rich vegetation that usually occupies a large proportion of every meadow; and in this state are eaten by cattle, partly because they are incapable of separating them, and partly, because, by drying, their acrimony is considerably subdued; but there can be no doubt of their place being much better supplied by any sort of grass. In the present age of agricultural improvement the subject of grass lands among others has been a good deal attended to, but much yet remains to be done, and the tracts of the ingenious Stillingfleet, and of Mr. Curtis, on this important division of rural economy, are well deserving the notice of every liberal farmer. The excellence of a meadow consists in its producing as much herbage as possible, and of such kinds as are agreeable and nutritious to the animals which it feeds. Every plant of crowfoot therefore ought, if practicable, to be extirpated, for,

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