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DEAD BIEDS. 351
young ones, both of this bird and the water-hen, do not appear to require the care of the mother for any length of time, as they soon leave her.
It was on my return from a walk in these meadows that I had an opportunity of observing the almost total loss of the power of self-preservation in a rabbit which was pursued by two weasels. It appeared to lose that aetivity and cunning which I have so often observed in it when pursued by dogs. It will then steal from brake to brake on its hind legs, listening to every sound, and will, when necessary, creep into its hole. In the present instance, however, all its faculties appeared to be paralysed while the weasels were in pursuit. It bounded about in a sort of circle, shrieking with terror, and seemingly incapable of getting away from its enemies, who would soon have destroyed it had it not been for my interference. Its hole is always avoided by a rabbit when pursued by weasels. I have been assured that weasels have been known to hunt hares and rabbits in small packs, and it is certain that they hunt by the scent.
It has always struck me as a curious fact that a dead bird is very rarely met with. When we consider the countless myriads of birds of various kinds, and how few of them, comparatively speaking, are killed by man, or taken alive, it becomes a matter of curious inquiry what becomes of the vast remainder. It may be thought that when disease or old age overtakes them, they get into holes and hedges and die. But who ever found any in such places? Or it may be said that vermin devour great numbers, and that many destroy each other; but how seldom is the skeleton or the remnant feathers of a dead bird seen, compared with the multitudes whose existence is not ended untimely.
The fly-catcher is one of the earliest of the migratory birds which leave us. I have sometimes missed them within a fortnight from the time at which the brood have quitted their nest. It is surprising that such young and tender birds should have strength sufficient to perform their migration.
MEADOWS AFTER HAY-HARVEST.
Ye have been fresh and green,
Where maids have spent their hours.
Ye have beheld where they
Ye have heard them sweetly sing,
But now we see none here
Like bankrupts, having spent
Hereick. SUMMER SONNETS. 353
The strong rains, which sometimes come down in summertime are a noble interruption to the drought and indolence of hot weather. They seem as if they had been collecting a supply of moisture equal to the want of it, and come drenching the earth with a mighty draught of freshness. The rushing and the tree-bowing winds that precede them, the dignity with which they rise in the west, the gathering darkness of their approach, the silence before their descent, the washing amplitude of their out-pouring, the suddenness with which they appear to leave off, taking up, as it were, their watery feet to sail onward, and then the sunny smile again of nature, accompanied by the "sparkling noise" of the birds, and those dripping diamonds of the rain-drops— there is a grandeur and beauty in all this, which lend a glorious effect to each other; for though the sunshine appear more beautiful than grand, there is a power, not even to be looked upon, in the orb from which it flows; and though the storm is more grand than beautiful, there is always beauty where there is so much beneficence.—Leigh Hunt.
Hot, glowing summer!—'neath the shade of trees
Arching o'erhead, a whispering canopy;
By cool and trickling rills, that saunter by
As though they loved to journey at their ease;
Near headlong torrents, leaping from the skies,
Where the fresh wind abides perpetually;
'Mid elder-blooms, and hedge-side rosery,
Fox-gloves, and ferns, and leafy companies;
At foot of some green bank, the new-mown hay
With heapdd fragrance pillowing thy head;
—Haunts where thou lov'st to lie—with tresses given
Loose to the fingering breeze; thy bosom's play
Seen through the gauzy kerchief overlaid;
Thy half-shut eyes just peeping at the heaven.
Crown thee with roses and forget-me-not;
And on the green marge of some lucent pool,
That beds thy semblance in its waters cool,
Couch thee; thick boughs shall roof the pleasant spot,
Whisp'ring and low, and bending o'er; and not
A solitary gleam of fervid sun
Shall find thee on thy soft and mossy throne,
Lapped in delicious shadiness thy lot.
In shadiness, and flowers, and herbage deep,
Stretch thy fair limbs, half buried in the green,
Thy blue eyes close for slumbering tranquilly;—
Luxurious thy bed, gentle thy sleep;
And like a thing forgotten or unseen,
The fiery day shall wheel unheeded by.
How sweet the ramble on a summer's eve!
When daylight lives till near the "witching hour;"
When setting suns magnificently pour
Their flooded gold o'er earth and sky, and leave
The sphery world in deep-dyed pomp, to give
Our summer-eves a matchless colouring:
When gentle breezes are upon the wing,
Bearing rich odours from the clover's hive,
From woodbines, roses, and the sweet-breathed hay,
And many a bloom of blossoming beans and peas:
When all is still, or hushing to repose:
Save lowing kine in green and dewy leas,
Or throstle piping from some favourite spray,
Or home-bound rustic singing as he goes.
A long, delicious stroll, through pleasant meads
Where sheep-bells tinkle, and the daisied green
Bears a brown line which may not be unseen
By wanderers seeking a sweet path that leads
To verdant solitudes, where Quiet breeds
Deep thought, and joy, and poesy divine;—
Or ramble by the brooklet's ambery twine,
And sheeted lake, that lovingly imbeds
The gold and azure of the glowing sky;—
Through cotted lanes, enroofed with pleasant green;
O'er flowery heaths and open downs to stray,
Where gipsies camp, and black-eyed girls are seen
Round the bright fire that crackles cheerily;
—Such stroll how sweet to close a summer's day!
Summer! the poet loves thee more than all:—
Loves thy warm sun, and glorious, glowing skies;
Thy pomp of trees, and greenwood witcheries;—
Loves all the flowers that obey thy call,
And bloom in hosts where'er thy footsteps fall,
Painting the wide earth with resplendent dyes;—
Loves thy bird-songs; and those sweet melodies
Thy wild brooks chaunt—as, fringed with grasses tall,
Rank weeds, and glittering blooms, through meadows green,
Dim woods, and loveliest spots of earth, they wind,
Vocal the pebbles and grey rocks among.
Thine every charm is dear to him, I ween;He loves thee better than do all mankind;And would through all the year thy sunny reign prolong:
Henry F. Choelet.
A GLIMPSE OF THE NEW FOREST.
All over the moorland ground spread the crimson glow 01 the heather. I went onward and upward; passing the gates of forest lodges, and looking down into villages, whence arose the smoke of huts and clear coal fires. And anon, I stood upon the airy height and saw woods below, and felt near me solitude, and a spirit that had brooded there for ages. I passed over high, still heaths, treading on plants that grow only in nature's most uncultivated soil, to the mighty beeches of Boldre Wood, and thence away to fresh masses of forest. Herds of red-deer rose from the fern and went bounding away, and dashed into the depths of the woods;—troops of those grey and long-tailed forest horses turned to gaze as I passed down the open glades; and the red squirrels in hundreds, scampered up from the ground where they were feeding on fallen mast and the kernel of pine-cones, and stamped and chattered on the boughs above me.
Delighted with the true woodland wildness and solemnity of beauty, I roved onward through the widest woods that came in my way, and once indeed, I imagined that a guide would really have been agreeable. Awaking as from a dream, I saw far around me one deep shadow, one thick and continuous roof of boughs and thousands of hoary boles standing, clothed as it were, with the very spirit of silence. A track in the wood seemed to lead in the direction I aimed at; but having gone on for an hour, here admiring the magnificent sweep of some grand old trees as they hung into a glade or a ravine,—some delicious opening in the deep woods, or the grotesque figures of particular trees which seemed to have been blasted into blackness, and contracted into inimitable crookedness by the salvage genius of the place,—I found myself again before one of those very remarkable trees which I had passed long before. It was