Abbildungen der Seite

The appearance of butterflies late in the season, and particularly during the winter months, so often mentioned in the newspapers as an extraordinary occurrence, is accounted for in T.T. for 1826, pp. 245, 246.


The Coot is ranked by naturalists among those birds that are completely dependent on the watery element for their support. It swims and dives with as much ease as almost any of them; and also, like those which seldom venture upon land, it is a bad traveller, and may be said not to walk, but to splash and waddle between one pool and another, with a laboured, ill-balanced, and awkward gait. These birds, like the rails and water-hens, conceal themselves during the day among rushes, sedges, and weeds, which grow abundantly in the marshes and ponds, where they take up their constant abode: they rarely venture abroad, except at dusk and in the night, in quest of their food, which consists of the herbage, seeds, insects, and the slippery inhabitants of stagnant waters.

The female commonly builds her nest in a bush of rushes surrounded by water; it is composed of a great quantity of coarse, dried weeds, well matted together, and lined with softer and finer grasses: she lays from twelve to fifteen eggs at a time, and commonly batches twice in a season : her eggs are about the size of a pullet's, and of a pale brownish-white colour, sprinkled with numerous small dark spots.

As soon as the young quit the shell, they plunge into the water dive, and swim about with great ease ; but they still gather together about the mother, taking shelter under her wings, and they do not entirely leave her for some time. They are, at first, covered with a sooty-coloured down, and are of a shapeless appearance : while they are in this state, and before they have learned by experience to sbun their foes, the kite, moor-buzzard, and others of the hawk tribe, make dreadful havoc among them; the pike is also the indiscriminate devourer of the young birds: and to these enemies may be attributed the scarcity of the species.


In September and October, the grape-harvest or vintage takes place in those countries where wine is the usual beverage of the inhabitants.-See T.T. for 1828, pp. 257-261, for some curious particulars relative to this subject. An account of vineyards in England, in former times, from Mr. Ellis's . Domes. day,' is given in pp. 389-391 of the same volume.

Barbel, chub, roach, and dace, are now about to leave the weeds, and get into deeper water.

[graphic][merged small][merged small]

The Sea. Luminousness of the Sea.-The following curious narrative, by Dr.Hutton, was drawn up from actual observation, during a voyage from Europe to Guyana, in the year 1769. I do not recollect (says the Doctor) that we beheld the sea luminous till our arrival between the tropics; but at that period, and some weeks before we reached land, I almost constantly observed that the ship's wake was interspersed with a multitude of luminous sparks, and so much the brigbter as the darkness was more perfect. The water round the rudder was, at length, entirely brilliant; and this light extended, gradually diminishing, along the whole wake. I remarked also, that if any of the ropes were immersed in the water, they produced the same effect. But it was near land that this spectacle appeared in all its beauty. It blew a fresh gale, and the whole sea was covered with small waves, which broke after having rolled for some time. When a wave broke, a flash of light was produced, so that the whole sea, as far as the eye could reach, seemed to be covered with fire, alternately kindled and extinguished. This fire in the open sea, that is, at the distance of fifty or sixty leagues from the coast of America, had a reddish cast. When we were in green water the spectacle changed. The same fresh gale continued; but, in the night time, when steering an easy course between the 3d and 4th degree of latitude, the fire above described assumed a form entirely white, and similar to the light of the moon, which, at that time, was not above the horizon. The upper part of the small waves, with which the whole surface of the sea was curled, seemed like a sheet of silver; while, on the preceding evening, it had resembled a sheet of reddish gold. The following night a beautiful phenomenon took place: for a quarter of a league the whole sea appeared like a sheet of silver, expanded in an instant, and shining with a most vivid light.-Ozanam's Recreations.

The causes assigned for these luminous appearances by Dr. Hutton, are-phosphoric matter produced in the sea, which hence becomes luminous by agitation-and a vast multitude of luminous insects floating over its surface.


[ From Imlah's May-Flowers. ]
Gaily we go o'er the salt blue seas,

And the wave breaks white before us!
The crowded canvass bends to the breeze,

And home points the pennant o'er us.
Speedily--speedily bound we on,

As if with the wind contending;
Now bigh the heaving surge upon,

Now its yawning gulfs descending.

[ocr errors]

Our ship spreads wide

her snowy wing, 2007
Like another bird of ocean;
And she shapes her way like a living thing
Of graceful make and motion!
Then speed thee! speed, my home-bound bark! Sig

Still thy native harbour nearing ;
Soon the white-cliffed isle shall the mariner mark,

O'er the azure deep appearing.
Yet no charms for me bath the fairest vale,

Like the wilderness of waters ;

When the vessel stoops to the fresh'ning gale, * p And the spray around her scatters !

Then may the hammock my death-bed be, 1973

And my grave beneath the billow; 13.12
St There as well will I anchor under the lee

of the wave, as of the willow!

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Pressure of Sea-water.—Some interesting experiments were made in May,

, 1828, by an American gentleman of the name of Green, on his passage to England, to ascertain the pressure of the sea at different depths. It has been long known to mariners ; and some decisive experiments were made during the several voyages of Captain Parry, proving that the pressure of the sea on a bottle sent

down by a lead-line, is in proportion to its depth; but the experiments of Mr. Green extended to six different bottles suspended at different depths on a deep-sea line. At eighty fathoms deep, a thin bottle, empty and well sealed over the cork, came up to the surface half full of water, without the cork being, apparently, at all disturbed. Another bottle, at one hundred fathoms, previously filled with fresh

water, and sealed over, was bottle, well sealed and empty, was brought up in the same state. A fourth bottle, not so strong as the preceding, was crushed in pieces by the pressure of the water. Another bottle, with a glass-ground stopper, air-tight, came up partly filled with

strong i

sea-water. While the sixth was a strong glass globe, hermetically sealed, and empty, which was sunk to the depth of 230 fathoms, but which being strong enough to resist the great external pressure of the water, came up empty. These experiments give a negative to the statements, that water is capable of penetrating through the pores of glass, while they sufficiently prove the enormous pressure of the sea at great depths.

Waves. The common cause of waves is the friction of the wind

upon the surface of the water. Little ridges or elevations first appear, wbich, by continuance of the force, gradually increase until they become the rolling mountains seen where the winds sweep over a great extent of water. The heaving of the bay of Biscay, and still more that of the open ocean beyond the southern capes of America and Africa, is one extreme; and the stillness of the tropical seas, which are guarded by near encircling lands, is the otherIn the vast Archipelago of the east, where Borneo, and Java, and Sumatra lie, and the Molucca islands, and the Philippines, the sea is often fanned only by the land and sea breezes, and is like a smooth bed, on which these islands seem to sleep in bliss-islands in which the spice and perfume gardens of the world are embowered, and where the bird of paradise bas its home, and the golden pheasant, and a hundred others of brilliant plumage, whose flight is among thickets so luxuriant, and scenery so picturesque, that European strangers find there the fairy land of their youthful dreams'.

[ocr errors]

And I have seen thy billows madly foam,
And chase upon thy breast in hideous throng,

As if they left for ever their deep home,
Thy sunken rocks and hidden caves among ;

While as the wind waxed stronger and more strong,
The roaring surges, like wild horses, rose,

To whirl the chariot of the storm along, -
To deal around them shipwreck, death, and woes,
And rise to heaven itself, as if its deadliest foes.

By man the earthly wild may be reclaimed-
Unmeasured Ocean ! who can rule o'er thee?

Thy waves still roll-untameable-untamed;
None can control thee--thou art wild and free:

No earthly power can calm thee ;-thou must be
Kept in subjection but by One alone;-

Hư, who once calmed the raging of the sea,
And still to thee, proud Ocean, will be known ;-
He holds thee in his hand, thy might is all his own.


1 Arnott's Elements of Physics.-For an account of sea-polypi, seaéryngo, &c. see our last volume, pp. 263-266.

« ZurückWeiter »