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out of the ground to the ripening of their seeds, take but a month; and the spring, summer, and autumn, are crowded into the short space of fifty-six days. In such climates as this, Winter may be truly said to rear his giant form,
His robe a mist, his voice a storm.
There is nothing more extraordinary in Russia (observes Dr. Clarke), than the transition of the seasons. The people of Moscow have no Spring: Winter vanishes, and Summer is! This is not the work of a week, or of a day, but of one instant; and the manner of it exceeds belief. We came from Petersburgh to Moscow in sledges. The next day snow was gone. On the 8th of April, at midday, snow beat in at our carriage windows. On the same day, at sun set, arriving in Moscow, we had difficulty in being dragged through the mud to the commandant's. The next morning the streets were dry, the double windows had been removed from the houses, the casements thrown open, all the carriages were upon wheels, and the balconies filled with spectators. Another day brought with it the warmth of
Another English traveller thus speaks of the Russian summer as it appeared to him in the year 1603: 'The woods are so fresh and so sweet, the pastures and meadowes so greene and well growne, and that upon the suddain; such variety of flowers, such mealody of birdes (especially of nightingales), that a man shall not lightly travail in a more pleasant countrey; which fresh and speedy growth of the spring seemeth to proceede from the benefit of the snowe, which all the winter time being spred over the whole countrey as a white rose, and keeping and keeping it warme from the rigor of the frost, in the spring time, when the weather waxeth warme, and the sunne dissolveth it into water, doeth so throughly drench and soake the ground, being of a sleight and sandy mould, and
then shineth so hotly upon it againe, that it even forceth the hearbes and plants forth in great plenty and variety, and that in a shorte time.'
The most intense cold in England is usually felt in the month of January; and the weather is either bright with frost, or foggy with much snow :
Thro' the hushed air the whitening show'r descends,
Fall broad, and wide, and fast, dimming the day
The inclemency of the season now compels the numerous tribes of birds to quit their retreats in search of food. The redbreast (sylvia rubecula), the only bird that confides in man, begins to sing. To this universal favourite many beautiful addresses have been penned: there are scarcely any more pleasing than the following stanzas by Mr. MONTGOMERY, from Verses to a Robin Redbreast, who visits the Windows of my Prison every Day,'
Welcome, pretty little stranger!
Now, though the tyrant Winter howling,
Though yon fair majestic river
Mourns in solid icy chains;
Though yon flocks and cattle shiver
See the Contemplative Philosopher, vol. i, No. i-v, for some interesting remarks on Winter, and its extreme severity in the polar regions,
Hunger never shall distress thee,
While my cates one crumb afford;
Live, yet still at liberty 1.
About the beginning of the month, larks (alauda arvensis) congregate, and fly to the warm stubble for shelter; and the nut-hatch (sitta europaea) is heard. The shell-less snail or slug (limax) makes its appearance, and commences its depredations on garden plants and green wheat. The missel-thrush (turdus viscivorus) begins its song. The hedge-sparrow (sylvia modularis), and the thrush (turdus musicus), begin to sing. The wren, also,
pipes her perennial The titmouse
lay,' even among the flakes of snow. (parus) pulls straw out of the thatch, in search of insects; linnets (fringilla linota) congregate; and rooks (corvus frugilegus) resort to their nest trees. Pullets begin to lay; young lambs are dropped now.
The house-sparrow (fringilla domestica) chirps; the bat (vespertilio) appears; spiders shoot out their webs; and the blackbird (turdus merula) whistles. The fieldfares, red-wings, skylarks, and titlarks, resort to watered meadows for food, and are, in part, supported by the gnats which are on the snow, near the water. The tops of tender turnips and ivy-berries afford food for the graminivorous birds, as the ringdove, &c.
While yet the wheaten blade
Scarce shoots above the new-fall'n show'r of snow,
I've marked his wing winnowing the feathery flakes,
TO ROBIN REDBREAST.
Laid out for dead, let thy last kindness be
For epitaph, in foliage next write this:
"Here, here, the tomb of Robert Herrick is.'
In widely-circling horizontal flight.
But when the season genial smiles, he towers
Earth-worms lie out on the ground; and the shell-snail (helix nemoralis) appears. The chaffinch (fringilla calebs) sings; jackdaws repair to the tops of churches; and the grey and white wagtail (motacilla, boarula & alba) appear. Snipes, woodcocks, herons, wild-ducks, and other water-fowl, retire from the frozen marshes to streams that are still open; and, as the cold strengthens, sea-birds come up the river in quest of food.
The snipe, though sorely pinched and half reduced
But this is not the only bird which becomes the prey of the fowler, at this season of the year :
a far nobler spoil
Awaits him on the river; where the rocks
FOWLING, a Poem.
The farmer exerts all his care in tending the domestic cattle. Cows can scarcely pick out any grass, and depend chiefly on hay for support; early lambs and calves are housed, and watched with almost paternal solicitude. Hares, impelled by hunger, find their way into our gardens, to browse on the cultivated vegetables; and rabbits enter plantations, and commit great
havoc by stripping trees of their bark. The sharp-eyed fox steals from the wood, and makes his incursions into the hen-roost and farmyard. The weasel and polecat also continue their depredations. The coldblooded animals, as the frog, snake, and lizard, are quite benumbed by the cold, and so remain till the approach of warm weather. The dormouse, marmot, &c. take their winter sleep; while the squirrel and the field-mouse subsist, in their retreat, upon the provision which they have laid up during the autumn.
In our last volume (p. 28), we gave some account of the passage of St. Bernard, in illustration of the severity of an Alpine winter; we now, as a pleasing companion to this description, quote the following lines from Mr. Coleridge's little known, but sublime, * Hymn before Sun-rise in the Valley of Chamouny."
Ye ice-falls! ye that from the mountain's brow
Who made you glorious, as the gates of heaven,
GOD! sing ye meadow streams! with gladsome voice!
Utter forth GOD, and fill the hills with praise 2!
Within a few paces of the Glaciers, the Gentiana major grows in immense numbers, with its flowers of loveliest blue.' 2 See Mr. Coleridge's' Friend,' p. 175. For a full account of the stupendous works of an almighty hand in this celebrated Valley, we refer to Mr. Henry Coxe's Traveller's Guide in Switzerland, published in 1816, by Sherwood and Co.