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figures beautifully in his inimitable wood-cuts; giving the very spirit of wildness and freshness to his sea. side sketches.
The Gull may occasionally be found far inland, domesticated in old-fashioned gardens, where it is an indulged and amusing habitant, feeding on slugs and worms and becoming thus a useful assistant to the gardener. In this state it seems entirely to throw off its wild native character, and assumes a sort of mock. heroic style, which is often quite ludicrous. We have seen one strutting about the straight alleys of such a garden, with the most formal, yet conscious air imaginable, glancing first to one side, then to the other, evidently aware of your notice, yet pretending to be busied about his own concerns. It was impos. sible to conceive that this bird, walking“ in his dig. nified way," upon his two stiff little legs, and so full of self-importance, had ever been a free, wild, winged creature, wheeling about and screaming in the storm, or riding gracefully upon the sunshiny waters. His nature had undergone a land-change; he was transformed into the patron of poodles, and the conde. scending companion of an old black cat. With these creatures, belonging to the same place, he was on very friendly terms, maintaining, nevertheless, an air of superiority over them, which they permitted, either out of pure good-nature, or because their simplicity was imposed upon. They were all frequently sed from the same plate, but the quadrupeds never presumed to put in their noses till the Gull was satisfied, and to his credit it may be told, that he was not insatiable, although a reasonably voracious bird on ordinary occasions.
We saw last summer, also, a Gull well known to northern tourists, which for twenty years has inhabit. ed one of the inner green-courts at Alnwick Castle, and has outlived two or three companions. It is an interesting bird, of a venerable appearance; but, as it has been described in books, more need not be said of it.
In one of the towers of this same Castle, also, we were shown a pair of perfect bird-skeletons, under a glass shade, the history of which is mysterious. They are the skeletons of a pair of jackdaws, which had built in one of the upper towers of the Castle, and had been found in their present state, apparently nestled together. From the account given us by the porter, an intelligent old man, they appeared not to have been discovered in any confined place, where they might have died from starvation, but by their own tower, on the open roof, as if they had been death-stricken side by side.
I cannot tell you half the sights
Of beauty you may see,
And many a shady tree.
The honey-suckles twine ;
And the dark-blue columbine.
In some dusk woodland spot;
And the wood forget-me-not.
Unscared by lawless men;
And the golden-crested wren.
The timid and the bold ;
It is not to be told.
Among the leaves so green,
The brightest e'er was seen.
Without a fear of ill;
And freely drink their fill!
The merry little things;
And flirt their dripping wings.
Down from their leafy tree,
Great joy it was to me!
I've seen them nimbly go;
A welcome kind and low.
As if, in heartsome cheer, They spake unto those little things,
“ 'Tis merry living here!"
I saw that all was good,
All round us, if we would !
Beneath the old wood-shade,
Nor is, of aught, afraid.
And roots so fresh and fine, Beneath their feet, nor is there strise 'Mong them for mine and thine
COME ye into the summer-woods ;
There entereth no annoy; All greenly wave the chestnut leaves,
And the earth is full of joy.
There is enough for every one,
But now and then might with him be seen, And they lovingly agree;
Two other old men with look profound, We might learn a lesson, all of us,
Who peered 'mong the leaves of the mandrake green
And lightened with care the soil around.
Or he had a foe whom art must quell,
So he sent to the learned man with speed
To gather for him a mandrake-spell.
When the air was still and the stars were out, And there, in its driest and deepest mould, Came the three the mandrake root to pull,
The dark-green, poisonous mandrake grew. With the help of the ban-dog fierce and stout. That garden's lord was a learned man, — Oh, the mandrake-root! and they listened all three, It is of an ancient time we tell,
For awful sounds, and they spoke no word, He was grim and stern, with a visage wan,
And when the owl screeched from the hollow tree, And had books which only he could spell.
They said 'twas the mandrake's
groan they heard He had been a monk in his younger days,
And words they muttered, but what none knew, They said, and travelled by land and sea,
With motion slow of hand and foot; And now, in his old, ancestral place,
Then into the cave the three withdrew,
And carried with them the mandrake root.
They all were scholars of high degree,
So they took the root of the mandrake fell, And the depth of its lake no line had found.
And cut it and carved it hideously,
And muttered it into a charmed spell.
Then who had been there, by dawn of day,
The charmèd mandrake root they bore.
And the old lord up in his chamber sat,
Blessing himself, sedate and mute,
With more than gold — the mandrake root.
The reverence attached to the mandrake may be
Hebrews of the patriarchial ages regarded it as a The garden-beds they were long, and all
plant of potent influence. The Greeks, who held it With a tangle of flowers were overgrown; in the same estimation, called it afier Circe, their cel. And each was screened with an ancient wall,
ebrated witch, and also after Atropos, the eldest of Or parapet low of mossy stone.
the three Fates. The Romans adopted the same And from every crevice and broken ledge
opinions respecting it, and Pliny relates the ceremoThe harebell blue and the wall-Power sprung; nies which were used in obtaining the root. And from the wall, to the water's edge,
In the middle ages, when the traditional superstiWild masses of tendrilled creepers hung;
tions of the ancients were grafted upon the popular
ignorance, the mandrake was a powerful engine in For there was a moat outside where slept the hands of the crafty.
Deep waters with slimy moss grown o'er, It was believed that when the mandrake was taken And a wall and a tower securely kept
from the earth, it uttered a dreadful shriek; and that By a ban-dog fierce at a grated door.
any human being who was presumptuous enough to This garden's lord was a scholar wise,
remove it, was suddenly struck dead. Dogs, thereA scholar wise, with a learned look;
fore, were used for this purpose. The earth has He studied by night the starry skies,
carefully lightened, and the plant fastened to the ani.
mal's tail; he was then made to draw it forth, and And all day long some ancient book.
pay whatever penalty the demon of the plant thought There were lords hard by who lived by spoil, fit to impose upon the disturber of his rest. The preBut he did the men of war eschew;
tenders to medical skill in those days made great proThere were lowly serfs who tilled the soil, fit by the little hideous images which they fashioned But with toiling serss he had nought to do. out of the mandrake root, and sold as charms againsi
every kind of sickness and misfortune. They were krought over from Germany in the reign of Henry
THE HEDGE-HOG. the VIII., under the name of Abrunes, and by the Thou poor little English porcupine, help of certain pretended magical words, the know
What a harassed and weary life is thine! ledge of which the credulous obtained at a great And thou art a creature meek and mild, price, were said to increase whatever money was That wouldst not harm a sleeping child. placed near them. It was believed, also, at that time, that the mandrake was produced from the decaying
Thou scarce can’st stir from thy tree-root, flesh of malefactors hung upon the gibbet, and was
But thy foes are up in hot pursuit; to be found only in such situations. Dr. Turner, who
Thou might'st be an asp, or hornèd snake, lived in the time of Queen Elizabeth, declares, that
Thou poor little martyr of the brake! he had divers times taken up the roots of the man- Thou scarce can’st put out that nose of thine ; drake, but had never found them under the gallows;
Thou can'st not show a single spine, nor of the form which the pedlars, who sold them in
But the urchin-rabble are in a rout, boxes, pretended them to have been. This form was With terrier curs to hunt thee out. that of an ugly little man, with a long beard hanging
The poor Hedgehog! one would think he knew down to his feet. Gerard, the herbalist, also, who
His foes so many, his friends so few, wrote thirty years later, used many endeavours to
For when he comes out, he's in a fright, convince the world of the impositions practised upon And hurries again to be out of sight. them, and states, that he and his servant frequently dug up the roots without receiving harm, or hearing
How unkind the world must seem to him, any shrieks whatever.
Living under the thicket dusk and dim, The mandrake grows naturally in Spain, Portugal,
And getting his living among the roots, Italy, and the Levant, and it is also indigenous to
Of the insects small, and dry hedge-fruits. China. It was introduced into this country about How hard it must be, to be kicked about, 1564. It is a handsome plant, and would, in particu- If by chance his prickly back peep out; lar situations, be ornamental to our gardens, indepen- To be all his days misunderstood, dent of the strange, old associations connected with When he could not harm us if he would! it, which would always make it an interesting object.
He's an innocent thing, living under the blame I have seen it, however, only in one garden, that of
That he merits not, of an evil name; the King of the Belgians, at Claremont.
He is weak and small, -- and all he needs, * It is," says Mr. Phillips, in his pleasant garden
Lies under the hedge among the weeds. companion, the Flora Historica, from which work the above historical notices of the mandrake have been
He robs not man of rest or food, principally taken, “a species of deadly nightshade,
And all that he asks is quietude ; which grows with a long taper root like the parsnip,
To be left by him, as a worthless stone, running three or four feet deep; these roots are fre
Under the dry hedge-bank alone! quently forked, which assisted to enable the old Oh, poor little English porcupine, quacks to give it the shape of a monster. This plant What a troubled and weary life is thine! does not send up a stalk, but, immediately from the I would that my pity thy foes could quell, crown of the root arises a circle of leaves, which at For thou art ill-used, and meanest well! first stand erect, but when grown to their full size, which is about a foot in length and five inches broad, of an ovate-lanceolate shape, waved at the edges, these spread open and lie on the ground; they are
THE CUCKOO. of a dark-green, and give out a fetid smell. About the month of April the flowers come out among the
“Pee! pee! pee!" says the merry Pee-Bird ; leares, each on a scape about three inches long; they
And as soon as the children hear it, are of a bell shape with a long tube, and spread out “The Cuckoo's a-coming.” they say, “ for I heard, into a five-cleft corolla. The colour is of an herba- Up in his tree the merry Pee-Bird, ceous white, but frequently has a tinge of purple. The days go on, one, two, three;
And he'll come in three days, or near it!" The flower is succeeded by a globular soft berry, And the liitle bird singeth “ pee! pee! pee!" when full grown, as large as a common cherry, but of a yellowish-green colour, when ripe and full of
Then on the morrow, 't is very true, pulp, intermixed with numerous reniform seeds."
They hear the note of the old Cuckoo ; If any of my readers should wish to cultivate this Up in the elm-tree, through the day, plant of “old renown," they should do it by rowing Just as in gone years, shouting away ; the seed in autumn, soon after it is ripe; as the seed
“Cuckoo," the Cuckoo doth cry, kept till spring seldom produces plants. It should be
And the little boys mock him as they go by. set in a light, dry soil, and of a good depth, so that the wood-pecker laughs to hear the strain, the root may not be chilled or obstructed ; and care And says " the old fellow is come back again; should be taken not to disturb it when it has once He sitteth again on the very same tree, obtained a considerable size.
And he talks of himself again! - he he! ho"
The stock-doves together begin to coo
I often have heard talk of you, but ne'er saw you When they hear the voice of the old cuckoo ;
before, “Ho! ho !" say they. “ he did not find
And there you 're standing sentinel at the hornetThose far-away countries quite to his mind,
castle-door! So he's come again to see what he can do
Well, what a size you are ! just like a great waspWith sucking the small birds' eggs, Coo-coo!"
king! The black-bird, and throstle, and loud missel-cock, What a solemn buzz you make, now you 're upon the They sing altogether, the Cuckoo to mock;
wing! “What want we with him ? let him stay over sea!" My word! I do not wonder that people fear your Sings the bold, piping reed-sparrow, “ want him? sting! not we!"
So ! 80!-Don't be so angry! Why do you come at me * Cuckoo !" the Cuckoo shouts still,
With a swoop and with a hum-Is't a crime to look “I care not for you, let you rave as you will!"
at ye? «Cuckoo !" the Cuckoo doth cry,
See where the testy fellow goes whiz into the hole, And the little boys mock him as they go by. And brings out from the hollow tree his fellows in a
shoal. Hark! hark!" sings the chiff-chaff,“ hark! hark !"
Hark! what an awful, hollow boom! How fierce says the lark, And the white-throats and buntings all twitter
they come! I'd rather “ hark! hark !"
Just quietly step back, and stand from them a little
farther. The wren and the hedge-sparrow hear it anon, And " hark! hark!" in a moment shouts every one.
There, now, the hornet-host is retreating to its den, “ Hark! hark ! – that's the Cuckoo there, shouting And so, good Mr. Sentinel — lo! here I am again! amain!
Well! how the little angry wretch doth stamp and Bless our lives! why that egg-sucker 's come back and flirt his wings, and seem to say, " Come here
raise his head, again!" “ Cuckoo !" the Cuckoo shouts still,
I'll sting you dead!" “ I shall taste of your eggs, let you rave as you
No, thank you, fierce Sir Hornet, - that's not at all will!"
inviting ; “Cuckoo !" the Cuckoo doth cry,
But what a pair of shears the rascal has for biting! And the little boys mock him as they go by.
What a pair of monstrous shears to carry at his head!
If wasp or fly come in their gripe, that moment they The water-hens hear it, the rail and the smew,
are dead! And they say, • Why on land there's a pretty There! bite in two the whip-lash, as we poke it at
to-do! Sure the Cuckoo 's come back, what else can be the See, how he bites ! but it is tough, and again he matter?
hurries in. The pyes and the jays are all making a clatter!" Ho! ho! we soon shall have the whole of his vin. “ Hark! hark!” says the woodcock, “I hear him
dictive race, myself,
With a hurry and a scurry, all flying in our face. Shouting up in the elm-tree, the comical elf!"
To potter in a Hornet's nest, is a proverb old and “ Hark! hark!" cries the widgeon, “and I hear him good, too,
So it's just as well to take the hint, and retreat into Shouting loudly as ever, that self-same Cuckoo !"
the wood. “ Well, well,” says the wild duck, “ what is it to us; Oh! here behind this hazel-bush we safely may look I've no spite 'gainst the Cuckoo; why make such a
And see what all the colony of hornets is about. Let him shout as he listeth — he comes over sea
Why what a furious troop it is, how fierce they seem And his French may be French, 't is no matter to me;
to be, I have no spite against him, my soul is not so narrow, As they fly now in the sunshine, now in shadow of I leave all such whims to the tomtit and sparrow!"
the tree! Cuckoo !" the Cuckoo shouts still,
And yet they 're noble insects! their bodies red and “ You may all hold your peace, I shall do as I will !"
yellow, “ Cuckoo !" the Cuckoo doth cry,
And large almost as little birds, how richly toned and And the little boys mock him as they go by.
mellow. And these old woods, so full of trees, all hollow and
decayed, THE HORNET.
Must be a perfect paradise, for the hornet legions
made. So, there at last I've found you, my famous old fel. Secure from village lads, and from gardener's watch
low! Ay, and mighty grand besides, in your suit of red They may build their paper-nests, and issue for supand yellow!
To orchards or to gardens, for plum, and peach, and pear,
THE USE OF FLOWERS. With wasp, fly, ant, and earwig, they 'll have a giant's share.
God might have bade the earth bring forth And you, stout Mr. Sentinel, there standing at the
Enough for great and small, door,
The oak-tree and the cedar-tree, Though Homer said in his time, “the hornet's soul
Without a flower at all. all o'er,"You're not so very spiritual, but soon some sunny
We might have had enough, enough
For every want of ours, morning I may find you in a green-gage, and give you a little
For luxury, medicine and toil,
And yet have had no flowers.
Nor doth it need the lotus-flower
To make the river flow. Makes faint with too much sweet such heavywinged thieves."
The clouds might give abundant rain; Too heavy much to walk,—then, pray, how can you
The nightly dews might fall,
And the herb that keepeth life in man No, there you 'll drop upon the ground, and there
Might yet have drunk them all. you 're doomed to die!
Then wherefore, wherefore were they made,
All dyed with rainbow-light, The Hornet is an insect that every one has heard All fashioned with supremest grace of, because the fearful effects of its sting and its
Upspringing day and night:fierceness are proverbial ; but it is by no means common in many parts of the country. In the mid
Springing in valleys green and low, land counties hornets are often talked of, but rarely
And on the mountains high, seen. We have lived in several of the midland
And in the silent wilderness counties, and seen a good deal of them, but never
Where no man passes by ? saw a hornet there. Since coming to reside in Sur
Our outward life requires them not rey, we have found plenty of them. They come
Then wherefore had they birth? buzzing into the house, and are almost as common To minister delight to man, in the garden as wasps themselves, devouring the
To beautify the earth; fruits above-mentioned, and also as voracious of the green, tender bark of the dahlia, as ants are of the
To comfort man - to whisper hope, juice of the yucca. They peel the young branches
Whene'er his faith is dim, with their nippers or shears, as a rabbit peels a
For who so careth for the flowers young tree; and wasps, and the great blue-bottle and
Will much more care for him! other flies follow in their train, and suck its juice greedily. In common, too, with the wasps, which by their side appear very diminutive insects, they gorge themselves so with the pulp of fruit as to drop heavily on the earth on being suddenly disturbed,
THE CARRION.CROW. and are then easily destroyed. They frequently On a splintered bough sits the Carrion-crow, make their nests in the thatch of cottages and out. And first he croaks loud and then he croaks low; buildings, where it is difficult to destroy them, as in Twenties of years ago that bough such situations, neither fire, sulphur, nor gunpowder Was leafless and barkless as it is now. can be used, and producing large swarms there, they are dangerous and devouring neighbours. It is on the top of an ancient oak
On Bookham Common, a pleasant wide tract, over- That the Carrion-crow has perched to croak; grown with trees, principally oaks, and resembling a In the gloom of a forest the old oak grows,forest with its fern and green turfy glades, much When it was young there 's nobody knows. more than a common, we found two nests within a "Tis but half alive, and up in the air few yards of each other, in two hollow trees, where you may see its branches splintered and bare ; the sentinel, and indeed the whole swarms, behaved You may see them plain in the cloudy night, themselves as above represented. Whether three of
They are so skeleton-like and white. these insects are sufficient to kill a horse, as the old country saying avers, is doubtful; but, from their The old oak trunk is gnarled and grey, size, the irritability of their nature, and the appear. But the wood has rotted all away, ance of their stings, they are very formidable crea. Nothing remains but a cave-like shell, tures indeed.
Where bats, and spiders, and millipedes dwell;