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are directed thither by a wisdom far superior to their
The other swallow tribes disappear at a season considerably later. The following account of the habits of the house swallow, on the eve of its departure, which first appeared in the Sheffield Mercury,' is too interesting and characteristic to require any apology for its insertion.
Early in the month of September, 1815, that beautiful and social tribe of the feathered race, began to assemble in the neighborhood of Rotherham, at the Willow Ground, near the Glasshouse, preparatory to their migration to a warmer climate, and their numbers were daily augmented until they became a vast flock which no man could easily number,-thousands and tens of thousands ; so great, indeed, that the spectator would almost have concluded that the whole of the swallow race were there collected in one vast host. It was their manner, while there, to rise from the willows in the morning, a little before six o'clock, when their thick columns literally darkened the sky. In the evening, about five o'clock, they began to return to their station, and continued coming in from all quarters till near dark. It was here that you might see them going through their various aerial evolutions, in many a sportive ring and airy gambol, strengthening their pinions, in their playful feats, for their long journey. A thousand pleasing twitters arose from their little throats, as they cut the air, and frolicked in the last beams of the setting sun, or lightly skimmed the surface of the glassy pool. The notes of those that had already gained the willows sounded like the murmur of a distant waterfall, or the dying roar of the retreating billow on the seabeach.
"The verdant enamel of summer had already given place to the warm and mellow tints of autumn, and the leaves were now fast falling from the branches, while the naked tops of many of the trees appeared; the golden sheaves were safely lodged in the barns, and the reapers had, for this year, shouted their harvest-home. Frosty and misty mornings now succeeded, the certain presages of the approach of winter. These omens were understood by the swallows, as the route of their march. Ac
cordingly, on the morning of the 7th October, their mighty army broke up their encampment, debouched from their retreat, and rising, covered the heavens with their legions. Thence, directed by an Unerring Guide, they took their trackless way. On the morning of their going, when they ascended from their temporary abode, they did not, as they had been wont to do, divide into different columns, and take each a different route, but went off, in one vast body, bearing to the south.”*
THE WOODS.-THEIR AUTUMNAL APPEARANCE.
UNDER the title of the woods,' will be found in the Spring' volume some general observations, on the appearance of silvan scenery in that delightful season, when Nature first bursts her winter cerements, and comes smiling forth from her annual tomb. The attractions of the woods are not diminished during the autumnal months, although they are changed. They have ceased to give rise to those pleasing associations which connect them with the simplicity and innocency of infancy in all the loveliness of its opening charms, and which bestow so tender an interest on the scenery, while its beauties are still but partially developed. Every tree and shrub is now
* A friend who is an accurate observer of Nature, and a wellknown antiquarian, has sent me the following notice of a migration of larks, and other small birds, which he witnessed between twenty and thirty years ago, while residing in the parish of Jarraw, in the county of Durham, which lies along the seacoast. "Fine open weather lingered on till the middle of the winter quarter, when, in a still calm night, snow fell uniformly over the whole island to the depth of several inches, and was succeeded, for two days, by a glittering frost. During the whole of these days, especially on the first, innumerable quantities of larks, and other small birds, not in flocks, but in one continued stream, directed their flight all day due south. They kept so near to the earth that at every hedge they had to rise. A few days after, the London newspapers mentioned that larks had been taken in such quantities in the neighborhood, I think, of Dunstable, or some part of Bedfordshire, that they sold at a very small price by the score."
in the full flush of its vegetable pride, and while it waves in the gentle breeze, displays the peculiar characteristics of its species, not merely in the form of its varied outline, but in the shape and color of its leafy honors. The delicate green, which pleased the eye when the leaves first unfolded themselves from the bud, has, before the arrival of this season, been exchanged for a deeper shade; and the whole assemblage of trees has now assumed a graver cast, indicating maturity, and already pointing to the period of approaching decay.
There is, however, a peculiarity in the commencement of this season, which forms an exception to the remark just made. A new flow of the sap takes place in the end of July, or beginning of August, which seems as if it were the flash of the expiring lamp, the last struggle of Nature to rally its sinking powers, and to prolong the vegetative process. This gives rise in numerous species of trees to new shoots, easily distinguishable by the lively color of the young buds and leaves. The appearance produced by this expiring effort is thus graphically described in the Mirror of the Months.' "The woods, as as well as the single timber trees that occasionally start up with such fine effect from out the hedge-rows, or in the midst of meadows and corn-fields, we shall now find sprinkled with what at first looks like gleams of scattered sunshine lying among the leaves, but what, on examination, we shall find to be the new foliage that has put forth since midsummer, and which, in places, yet retains all the brilliant green of spring. The effect of this new green lying in sweeps and patches upon the old, though little observed in general, is one of the most beautiful appearances of the season. In many cases, when the sight of it is caught near at hand, on the sides of thick plantations, it is perfectly deceptive, and you wonder for a moment, while the sun shines bright every where, it should throw such a still brighter beam upon these particular spots."
As the season advances, this effect disappears, and symptoms of a failure in the powers of vegetation become obvious. Each stately tenant of the forest acquires its
own peculiar and distinctive autumnal hue; and the variety of shades with which every successive change of temperature in the declining year more and more diversifies them, at once pleases the taste, and fills the mind with that gentle and agreeable sadness which is so congenial to the period of incipient decay.
Mr. Gilpin, who saw Nature with the eye of an accomplished artist, has some appropriate remarks on the appearance of the woods towards the close of autumn, which I gladly transcribe. "Painters," says he, "have chosen autumn, with almost universal predilection, as the season of landscape. The leafy surface of the forest is at that period so varied, and the masses of foliage are yet so full, that they allow the artist great latitude in producing his tints, without injuring the breadth of his lights.
"The many-colored woods,
Shade deepening over shade, the country round
* [We must remember that the above is a description of the autumnal woods of England, and not of the autumnal forests of New England. Ours are indeed "the many-colored woods," but "a varied umbrage, dusk and dun," are not the words to convey any idea of them. In localities where certain trees predominate, the forest absolutely flames with lights and hues, which have no counterpart in natural scenery, except in those which sometimes tinge the clouds as they gather round the setting sun. It seems as if all the brightest flowers of spring and summer had revived again, to be hung upon the forest boughs, and grace the departure of the year; for this glory is but the prelude of death, and the preparation for a funeral. On entering our woods at this season, one might think that he was walking down the aisles of some vast cathedral. The sun shines through the foliage, as through old tinted windows, suffusing the air with warmth, and color, and worship.
The change from the deep summer green to the splendid variety of autumn, is sometimes produced in a single night, by the silent but all powerful ministry of frost. But the superior gorgeousness of the foliage is owing not so much to any peculiarity of climate, as to the peculiar character of some of our native trees. Among those which contribute most strikingly to the show, are the maples, and the tupelo, erroneously called hornbeam, the former bringing their vivid yellows and scarlets, and the latter its deep crimson. The wild creeper too, the ivy of our country, though not ivy, festoons the gray rocks and dark stumps with purple and crimson wreaths; and the ferns do their
"Of all the hues of autumn, those of the oak are commonly the most harmonious. As its vernal tints are more varied than those of other trees, so are its autumnal. In an oaken wood, you see every variety of green, and every variety of brown, owing either to the different exposure of the tree, its different soil, or its different nature. The deep orange tint of the beech is, perhaps, after all, the most beautiful of autumnal colors. I have known many planters endeavor, in their improvements, to range their trees in such a manner as, in the wane of the year, to receive all the beauty of autumnal coloring. The attempt is in vain, unless they could so command the weather, as to check or produce at pleasure those tints which Nature. hath subjected to so many accidents. A general direction is all that can be given; all must be left to chance; and, after the utmost that art can do, the wild forest, with its usual discords and monotonies, will present a thousand beauties which no skill of man can rival.”
Nothing can be more true, or come more directly to the heart of a lover of rural scenery, than this last remark. The wild and free in the landscapes of Nature afford a charm, too deep, perhaps, for the mind to analyze, but too real and obvious to be unfelt. Taste is not to be guided or restrained by the rules of art; and in that innate principle, whatever it may be, which affords pleasure to the mind from the appearances of natural scenery, we perceive an adaptation to things as they actually exist, which reveals to us a paternal Creator. No person who, at this season, has, with an eye of taste, observed the accidental grouping of forms and tints in a forest of natural
ample share. Individual trees are often objects of great interest in their autumnal dress. It is not uncommon to see the sugar maple exhibit three distinct colors, yellow, scarlet, and green, at one and the same time, either mingled together, or in separate masses.
The brilliant hues now mentioned are over and above the endless variety of browns which mark the falling season in temperate climates. The display is too bright, perhaps, for the canvass to imitate, but to the lover and observer of Nature it is, while it lasts, a constant feast. Presently the brightness grows dim with the shortening days; a dull brown begins to prevail-prevails-the leaves drop; the pageant has passed away.-Aм. ED.]