« AnteriorContinuar »
so far from being grateful or nourishing to any kind of cattle, it is notorious, that in its fresh state nothing will touch it. The same may be said of the hemlock, kex, and other umbelliferous plants which are common in most fields, and which entirely overrun others; for when fresh they are not only noxious to animals that are fed upon hay, but from their rank and straggling manner of growth occupy a very large proportion of the ground. Many other plants that are commonly found in meadows may upon the same principles be objected to; and though the present generation of farmers has done much, yet still more remains for their successors to perform.
The gardens now yield an agreeable product in young gooseberries and currants, which are highly acceptable at our tables; the winter-store of preserved fruits being now generally exhausted.
Early in the month the latest species of the summer birds of passage arrive, generally in the following order: fern-owl or goat-sucker, fly-catcher, and sedge-bird.
This is also the principal time in which birds hatch and rear their young. The assiduity and patience of the female during the task of sitting is admirable, as well as the conjugal affection of the male, who sings to his mate, and often supplies her place; nor can anything exceed the parental tenderness of both when the young are brought to light.
Several species of insects are this month added to those which have already been enumerated; the chief of which are the large white cabbage butterfly, papilio brassicee; the may-chaffer, the favourite food of the fern-owl; the horse-fly, or forest-fly, so great a plague to horses and cattle; and several kinds of moths and butterflies.
Towards the end of May the bee-hives send forth their earlier swarms. These colonies consist of the young progeny, and some old ones, now grown too numerous to remain in their present habitation, and sufficently strong and vigorous to provide for themselves. One queen bee is necessary to form each colony; and wherever she flies they follow. Nature directs them to march in a body in quest of a new settlement, which, if left to their choice, would generally be some hollow trunk of a tree. But man, who converts the labours and instincts of so many animals to GLOW-WOBJIS, SPBING-FLOWEBS, ETC.
his own use, provides them with a dwelling, and repays himself with their honey. The early swarms are generally the most valuable, as they have time enough to lay in a plentiful store of honey for their subsistence through the winter.
About the same time the glow-worm shines. Of this species of insect the females are without wings and luminous, the males are furnished with wings, but are not luminous; it is probable, therefore, that this light may serve to direct the male to the haunts of the female, as Hero of Sestos is said to have displayed a torch from the top of a high tower to guide her venturous lover, Leander, in his dangerous passage across the Hellespont.
These little animals are found to extinguish their lamps between eleven and twelve at night.
Old May-day is the usual time for turning out cattle into the pastures, though frequently then very bare of grass. The milk soon becomes more copious, and of finer quality, from the juices of the young grass; and it is in this month that the making of cheese is usually begun in the dairies. Cheshire, Wiltshire, and the low parts of Gloucestershire, are the tracts in England most celebrated for the best cheese.
Many trees and shrubs flower in May, such as the oak, beech, maple, sycamore, barberry, laburnum, horse-chesnut, lilac, mountain ash, and Guelder rose; of the more humble plants the most remarkable are the lily of the valley, and woodroof in woods, the male orchis in meadows, and the lychnis, or cuckoo-flower, on hedge-banks.
This month is not a very busy one for the farmer. Some sowing remains to be done in late years; and in forward ones, the weeds, which spring up abundantly in fields and gardens, require to be kept under. The husbandman now looks forward with anxious hope to the reward of his industry.
Be gracious, Heaven! for now laborious man
Has done his part. Ye fostering breezes, blow!
Ye softening dews, ye tender showers, descend;
And temper all, thou world-reviving sun,
Into the perfect yoar! Thomson.
A MAY-DAY SONG.
Come out, come from cities,
For once your drudging stay;
To wrong this honoured day;
Your fathers met the May
Come be as wise as they;
Talk not of want of leisure;
Believe me time was made
Far more than toil and trade;
And little short I hold
For daily bread when's sold
Turn out from lane and alley,
From court and busy street,
With songs the May to meet;
For, jests and laughter, care
The earth, the very air,
Come, hear the silver prattle
Of brooks that bubbling run
Lie happy in the sun;
Where violets' hidden eyes
And gnats and burnished flies
MAT-DAT CAR0LS. 199
In song the spring comes willing
Today from out the grass;
Earth's gladness as you pass;
Far up the bright blue sky
The thrush in copses nigh
Then leave your weary moiling,
Your desks and shops to-day;
This jubilee of May.
Come, stretch you where the light
And spend, 0 rare delight!
W. C. Bennett.
Get up, get up! for shame; the blooming morn
See how Aurora throws her fair
Nay, not so much as out of bed,
When all the birds have matins said,
And sung their thankful hymns; 'tis sin,
Nay, profanation to keep in;
When as a thousand virgins on this day, Spring sooner than the lark to fetch in May.
Come ye, come ye, to the green, green wood;
Loudly the blackbird is singing,
Here ye may sleep
In the moss so deep,
And sweetly awake
As the sun through the brake
The quicken is tufted with blossom of snow,
And is throwing its perfume around it;
The jay's red breast
Peeps over her nest,
And the call of the pheasant
Is frequent and pleasant
"Instead of describing the progressive features of this lovely month," writes an author, who loves the country, "I shall rather say to every one that can, go out into the country and see them. See the village greens, where the May-poles once collected about them all the population of the place to rejoice. See the woods, to which the young people used to go out before daylight, a-Maying. See the fields, deep with richest grass and flowers, where children in this beautiful holiday of Nature have from age to age run and gathered pinafores full of perishable beauty and fragrance. Pace the river sides, where poets have walked, and mused on songs in honour of May. Sit on stiles, where lovers have sate, and dreamed that life was a May-month, to be followed by no autumn of care, no winter of death. Gaze on the clear sky, where, spite of death and care, the word—Immortality— is written in the crystal dome of God. Enjoy that beauty which can come only from an eternal source of beauty; listen to that joy ringing from the throats of birds and the hum of insect wings—joy that must come from an eternal source of joy; and let the holiday heart strengthen itself in the assurance that all this scene of enjoyment is meant to be enjoyed, and not in vain. Look at the gorgeous blossoms of the chesnut-tree; see the lavish snow, which weighs down the hawthorn bough; gaze on the glory of the mountain-ash, the laburnum, the guelder-rose, and, at the latter end of the month, on the broad white flowers of the elder and the wayfaring tree; and feel that May comes but once a year, and will not give an hour more than is in her commission—no, not at the command of all the kings on earth."