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gregating flocks of hirundines on the church and tower (says Mr. White') are very beautiful and amusing. When they fly off together from the roof, on any alarm, they quite swarm in the air. But they soon settle in heaps, and preening their feathers, and lifting up their wings to admit the sun, scem highly to enjoy the warm situation. Thus they spend the heat of the day, preparing for their emigration, and, as it were, consulting when and where they are to go. The flight about the church seems to consist chiefly of house martins, about 400 in number: but there are other places of rendezvous about the village frequented at the same time. It is remarkable that, though most of them sit on the battlements and roof, yet many hang or cling for some time by their claws against the surface of the walls, in a manner not practised by them at any other time of their remaining with us. The swallows seem to delight more in holding their assemblies
Of the migration and torpidity of the swallow, we have already treated at length, in our three former volumes; to them, therefore, we refer the ingenious naturalist, and to Mr. Forster's Observations on the Bromal Retreat of the Swallow, third edition, for further information on this curious subject. See also theSwallows,' an Elegy, at pp. 128-130.
Amusive birds! say where your
Many other of the small billed birds that feed on insects disappear when the cold weather commences. The throstle, the red-wing, and the fieldfare, which migrated in March, now return; and the ring-ouzel
• History of Selborne, vol. ii, p. 242.
arrives from the Welsh and Scottish Alps to winter in more sheltered situations. All these birds feed upon berries, of which there is a plentiful supply, in our woods, during a great part of their stay. The throstle and the red-wing are delicate eating. The Romans kept thousands of them together in aviaries, and fed them with a sort of paste made of bruised figs and flour, &c. to improve the delicacy and flavour of their flesh.
Hazel-nuts are now ripe, and the filberd-tree is laden with its agreeable fruit. Many a youth may, at this time, repeat with the poet
Among the woods I forced my way,
Tall and erect, with milk-white clusters hung,
Towards the end of September the leaves of trees begin to put on their autumnal dress. Mr. Stillingfleet remarks, that, about the 25th, the leaves of the plane tree were tawny; of the hazel, yellow; of the oak, yellowish green; of the sycamore, dirty brown; of the maple according to the soil and season, every hue, from pale yellow to a deep red and orange; of the ash, a fine lemon colour; of the elm, orange; of the hawthorn, tawny yellow; of the cherry, red; of the hornbeam, bright yellow; of the willow, still hoary. Yet, many of these tints cannot be considered complete, in some seasons, till the middle or latter end of October.
In this month particularly may it be said, with the poet,
With starry splendour on the hawthorn bough
'See T. T. for 1815, p. 271, for a beautiful poem by Mr. Park, called The Filberd-Tree?
The ruby lip of ev'ry infant bud,
There is not a phenomenon of nature more common, or more beautiful, than that of dew; those drops which,
With the earliest morn, the Sun
Impearls on every leaf and every flower.
The great benefit of dews in the refreshment of the earth and the nourishment of plants, is too well known to be dilated upon in this place: we shall, therefore, confine ourselves to a notice of the most recent and plausible theory of this useful phenomenon, as stated by Dr. Wells, in his Essay on Dew,' published in 1814. Mr. Wilson and Mr. Six thought the formation of dew was accompanied by the evolution of cold; and this opinion was once held by Dr. Wells. But subsequent observations led him to question its accuracy; and he was not long after enabled to ascertain, by direct experiment, that the temperature of bodies sinks before any dew is deposited on them; and that the subsequent deposition of dew is the consequence of this coldness. This philosopher infers, therefore, that the deposition of dew has precisely the same cause on the appearance of moisture on the outside of a glass, or metallic vessel, when a liquor considerably colder than the air has been shortly before poured into it.
All bodies have the property of radiating heat. During the day, the heat lost by radiation is more than supplied by the solar heat; so that the temperature of bodies is increased during the day, instead of being diminished. But, during the night, the heat radiated by the bodies on the surface of the earth penetrates into the sky, and does not again return to them. Hence their temperature must be constantly diminishing from radiation, and they will become and continue colder than the air during the whole night; thus being in the state for the deposition of
dew upon their surfaces. This, however, will only happen when the sky is clear, and the atmosphere calm. If the sky be covered with clouds, they will radiate back nearly as much heat as they receive; and thus prevent the terrestrial bodies from cooling considerably. And, in windy nights, the agitation of the atmosphere compensates for its bad conducting power, and thus prevents that rapid lowering of temperature requisite to the production of dew.
Upon these and analogous principles, Dr. Wells accounts for the various phenomena of dew, as well as several other appearances which he attributes to similar causes for these, however, the inquisitive reader must turn to the Essay itself. See also the < Contemplative Philosopher,' Vol. I, No. xxiii, on Dew.
As the various tribes of flowers decay, our attention is taken off from these elegant ornaments of nature, and transferred to those more humble, but not less interesting productions, herbs and plants.
Herbs too she knew, and well of each could speak
That gives dim eyes to wander leagues around;
And plantain ribbed, that heals the reaper's wound;
Shall be, erewhile, in arid bundles bound,
To lurk amidst the labours of her loom,
And crown her kerchiefs clean with mickle rare perfume.
And here trim rosemarine, that whilom crowned
A sacred shelter for its branches here;
Nor ever would she more with thane and lordling dwell.
When the harvest is gathered in by the farmer, and the gleaners have got all they can pick ear by ear,' then the herd, the sheep, pigs, and turkeys, take the stubble,' or, as it is sometimes called, the stray.' In the open fields, in some of the villages on the south-eastern side of Cambridgeshire, it is curious to see flocks of many scores, perhaps some hundreds, of turkeys. They are kept by a regular herd, and either lodged at their respective homes, or, if the herd has accommodation for them, they are lodged all together, and the dung is very valuable. They are kept till near Christmas, when they are fattened and sent to London; when a poor man has been known to make a guinea apiece of his turkeys, in Leadenhall-market. Sometimes they are driven to London in large flocks, the same as geese.
The husbandman now prepares for seed-time; and the fields are again ploughed up for the winter corn, rye, and wheat, which are sown in September and October. The entrances to bee-hives are straitened, to prevent the access of wasps and other pilferers.
In reference to the appearance of partridges in this month, and their destruction by the sportsman, noticed at pp. 270, 271, we introduce the following pathetic Poem of the humane Mr. PRATT.
THE PARTRIDGES; AN ELEGY.
Written on the last Day of August.
Hard by yon copse, that skirts the flow'ry vale,
A plaintive murmur mingled in the gale,