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This being the month when the worn and weary dwellers in town think first of migrating to the invigorating and pleasant sea-side, let us give them a sea-picture from Crabbe, than which neither Stanfield nor Bentley have ever painted one more faithfully.
Turn to the watery world! but who to thee
Be it the summer noon; a sandy space
Yet sometimes comes a ruffling cloud to make
View now the winter-storm! above, one cloud, Black and unbroken all the skies o'ershroud; The unwieldy porpoise through the day before, Had rolled in view of boding more on shore; And sometimes hid and sometimes showed his form, Dark as the cloud, and furious as the storm.
All where the eye delights, yet dreads to roam,
Far off the Petrel in the troubled way
High o'er the restless deep, above the reach
Darkness begins to reign; the louder wind
Lo! he has something seen, he runs apace,
As if he feared companions in the chase!
He sees his prize and now he turns again,
Slowly and sorrowing—" Was your search in vain?"
Gruffly he answers, "'Tis a sorry sight!
A seaman's body; there'll be more to-night!"
Hark! to those sounds! they're from distress at sea;
How quick they come; what terrors may there be!
Tes, 'tis a driven vessel; I discern
Lights, signs of terror, gleaming from the stern;
Others behold them too, and from the town,
In various parties seamen hurry down;
Their wives pursue, and damsels urged by dread,
Lest men so dear be into danger led.
* • # * •
No need of this; not here the stoutest boat
BY ACHSTA DOMESTICA.
To the man of transparent skin and opaque fancy—or no fancy at all—the hum of the gnat is suggestive, we know, of nothing but angry cheeks and swollen temples, with corresponding sounds of pshaws! and buffets ; but to those who are less outwardly, but more inwardly sensitive, the "horn" even of this insect blood-hunter is not without its melody, with sylvan accompaniments, such as the "ploughboy's whistle o'er the lea," and the gurgle of pebbly brooks, red in the glowing sunset.
When, and wherever a bee may happen to flit, humming past us, is one not borne at once upon her musical wings to the side of some heathy hill? and does one not forthwith hear in concert the bleating of flocks, the bursting of ripened furze-pods, and the blithe carol of the rising skylark ? or, our thoughts taking a turn more homely, we listen in fancy to the sound of tinkling cymbal placed by rejoicing housewife to celebrate and accompany the aerial march of a departing swarm.
Thus sweet and infinitely varied is the concert of concordant sounds, all of the allegro character, which may be assembled for the pleasing of the mental ear, even by the simple and single, and passing strains of the above, and other insects, which make melody in their mirth; and then how numerous are the corresponding images, which are wont at their bidding to be conjured up before the mental eye! Glowing embers, smiling flowers, dancing leaves, waving cornfields, glittering waters, all intermingled in a haze of merry motion; an imaged dance of life got up within the chamber of the mind at the stirring of, sometimes, but a note of Nature's living music.
But besides the sensations of involuntary pleasure which we have often owed, without knowing it, to insect minstrelsy, it affords, though on this subject few, perhaps, ever think, matter for thought-inquiry concerning the way in which it is produced. It is all of an instrumental, and not vocal character; and among the varied mechanisms of
natural objects, the instruments of sound furnished to insect musicians are none of the least curious.
That of the celebrated cicada (the classic lyre-player), an insect rarely seen in England, but still common in the south of Europe, consists, as described by Reaumur, of a pair of drums fixed one on each side of the trunk; these are covered on the exterior by two membranaceous plates, usually circular or oval; and beneath them is a cavity, part of which seems to open into the belly. These drums form, however, but one portion of a compound instrument; for besides these, there is attached to another drum-like membrane in the interior a bundle of muscular strings, on pulling which, and letting them go again, a sound can be produced even after the creature's death. For the issue of this sound a hole is expressly provided, like the soundhole of a violin, or the opening in the human larynx.
The chirp of the cricket, both of house and field, is said by Kirby to be produced by the friction of the basis of the tegmina, or wing-cases, against each other, at their base; but these insects are also provided with their drums. In the large green field-cricket, this drum is described as a round plate of transparent membrane tensely stretched, and surrounded by a prominent edge or nervure. The instrument is to be found in that part of the right wing-case which is folded horizontally over the trunk, and is concealed under the left, in which also there is a strong circular nervure, corresponding to the hoop of the drum beneath. The quick motion with which these nervures are rubbed together producing a vibration in the membrane, is supposed to augment the sound.
What we call familiarly the singing or chirping of grasshoppers and locusts, is outwardly produced by application of the hind shank of the thigh, rubbing it smartly against the wing-cases, and alternating the right and left legs ; but these, as well as the cicada and cricket, are provided with their petits tambours, membrane-covered drums, or cavities of somewhat varied construction, to augment the sound of exterior origin.
Be it here observed, that the above-named professors of joyeuse science—the cicada lyre-players, the crickets of our field and household bands, are all, like the feathered