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their excellent songs; as, for instance, the nightingale, whose inimitable strains gladden the nocturnal hours as well as those of the day; the blackcap, next to the nightingale for the sweetness and variety of its warblings; the redstart, (the male is a very beautiful bird,) which sings pleasantly on the tops of trees, &c.; the whitethroat, whose sprightly notes from the thorny brake arrest the traveller as he passes along. The willow-wren, sedgewarbler, &c., make their appearance; also the chimney or house swallow, known by its long forked tail, and red breast.
“ Wrynecks come to raise our laughter,
And the cuckoo follows after;
The wryneck is so singular in its attitudes and plumage, and has so peculiar a note, or cry, that it may easily be distinguished by those who have once heard it.
Vegetation becomes every day more and more interesting.
“I know a lane thick-set with golden broom,
Many and lovely are the flowers which are now exhibiting themselves in our gardens : among which may be named the jonquil, anemone, ranunculus, polyanthus, and the crown imperial.
“ Plants their flowery garlands wearing,
Trees and shrubs their blossoms bearing,
The last half of the month.—The fox, polecat, and martin suckle their young, and begin to bring them animal food. The trog, toad, natterjack, and eft spawn, and the young are speedily hatched.
"I have kept,” says a naturalist, “ several water-efts in a jar of water ; but it is painful to observe their constant efforts to take breath, by rising every two or three minutes to the surface, so that breathing seems to be the only business of their lives, requiring more, infinitely more, labour than most other animals undergo to procure food. It is clearly impossible for them ever to sleep except upon land. Those which I kept cast off the whole of the scarf-skin (epidermis) every two or three weeks, but never the true skin, as serpents do. They also laid eggs, enveloped in a gelatinous substance somewhat like frog-spawn.”
Birds now sing delightfully; and many of them are now engaged in constructing their nests,
"'Twas wisdom infinite, that first imprest
The impulse on each bird to build her nest,
The Poetic Manual.
The notonecta, or boat-fly, is now busy in sunny days catching flies on the surface of ponds, &c., which he does while swimming with his back downwards. Mole-crickets may be seen in their respective haunts. The early cabbage-butterfly, the wall-butterfly, the angle-shades moth, the April moth, and some other lepidopterous insects, make their appearance at this time. The gardenbeetle, the catch-weed beetle, and several other beetles, abound.
Our gardens every day are unfolding fresh beauties. The double white, the yellow, and some others of the earlier tulips, are now fully opened ; but the more illustrious varieties will not blow for some weeks: this tribe is the gayest offspring of floriculture. Other flowers which now adorn our fields are the chequered daffodil, the primrose, the cowslip, and the lady-smock; also the harebell.
" With drooping bells of clearest blue,
So lightly trembling."
BRIEF ASTRONOMICAL NOTICES,
FOR APRIL, 1847. BY MR. WILLIAM ROGERSON, of the Royal Observatory, Greenwich.
« 'Twas infinite benevolence, which first
Moved in the bosom of my God to bring
A grand, astonishing, and brilliant thing.
Good all, and blessed,- for no part was curst,
Worthy the puissance of great nature's King ;
• My meditation of him shall be sweet.'" The Sun, the great central orb of our system, is found, from a variety of careful astronomical observations, to be more than a million times larger than the Earth, and is the source of light and heat to our globe, and all the rest of the planetary bodies that surround him. Owing to the motion of the Earth round the Sun, our year is produced ; and owing to the position of its poles with regard to that motion, the four seasons regularly succeed each other; and in consequence of the revolution of our world on its axis in twenty-four hours, we have day and night. On the 1st of this month the Sun's declination is four degrees north, when he is vertical at noon-day to all places on the globe situated in four degrees of north latitude: on the 19th day his declination is eleven degrees north; consequently, on that day, all places on the Earth which are in eleven degrees of north latitude will have the Sun directly overhead at noon-day. The Sun enters the sign Taurus, or the Bull, on the 20th in the evening.
The Sun rises at Greenwich or London on the 2d at thirty-six minutes past five, and sets at thirty-three minutes after six : on the 29th he rises at thirty-nine minutes past four, and sets at seventeen minutes after seven.
“Now came still evening on, and twilight grey
MILTON. The Moon rises on the 1st at half-past seven in the evening, and on the 3d at half-past nine at night : she rises on the 5th at half an hour before midnight, and on the 8th at a quarter past one in the morning : on the last-mentioned day she enters on her last quarter, and appears in the south-eastern horizon on the 9th at two o'clock in the morning. The Moon changes on the 15th, at twenty-two minutes past six in the morning; and presents her beautiful crescent, together with her unenlightened disc, in the western skies on the evening of the 16th, and sets at a quarter before nine: she sets on the 17th at six minutes before ten, on the 18th at eleven o'clock, at night; and on the 21st at twenty-three minutes before one in the morning. The Moon is half-full on the 22d; and on the 23d descends below the western horizon at a quarter before two in the morning: she sets on the 26th at three o'clock, and on the 29th at a quarter past four, in the morning. The Moon is full on the 30th, at twenty-six minutes past one in the afternoon: six hours afterwards she displays her wholly illuminated disc in the eastern horizon as the Sun descends below the western boundary of vision, to scatter radiancy on the distant regions of our globe.
MERCURY is invisible,
Venus, called “Hesperus, or Evening Star," is now the brightest of “the starry host," surpassing in this respect even Jupiter, which is also a brilliant object at this time. This beautiful planet sets on the 1st at five minutes before nine, and on the 27th at a quarter past ten, at night : on the 16th and 17th she is near the Moon.
MARS may be seen near the south-eastern horizon, about an hour before sunrise, when the air at that time is very clear: he is now distant from the Earth, and therefore not a conspicuous object: on the 10th he is in the neighbourhood of the Moon.
JUPITER appears high in the heavens early in the evenings, considerably above Venus, and at the beginning of the month sets not till after midnight: he sets at the end of the month before eleven o'clock : on the 19th he is in the vicinity of the Moon.
In the above engraving, figure 1 represents Jupiter and Venus with the Moon below, as they will appear on the 16th of April, at eight o'clock in the evening. Figure 2, a view of Jupiter and Venus, with the Moon nearly between them, adapted for April 17th, at eight in the evening. Figure 3, a representation of these two planets, with the Moon in the neighbourhood of Jupiter, as they will be seen on the 18th, at eight o'clock.
SATURN is invisible, being obscured by the rays of the Sun.
URANUS, and the planet beyond him, are now invisible through telescopes of the highest magnifying power, owing to the light of the Sun.
Note. On the 2d of April, 1799, P. C. Le Monnier died, aged eighty-four years. From his earliest years he devoted himself to astronomy: when a youth of sixteen, he made his first observation, which was on the opposition of Saturn. At the time of his death he had amassed a vast quantity of astronomical papers, which he could never be prevailed on to publish, but concealed them in a place which it is feared he had forgotten; so that it has been supposed they are lost to the world, unless the place should have been known to the celebrated Lagrange, who married one of his daughters in 1792.
April 7th, 1807. J. J. La Lande died, aged seventy-five years. It was necessary, under the pain of forseiting his favour and friendship, that all belonging to him should be observers and calculators. Eminently useful to astronomy by his works, his example, instruction, influence, and correspondence, he was desirous that this utility might be continued after his death; and with that view he founded a prize, to be adjudged annually by the Institute, to the best memoir, or most curious observations, on that subject.
BY MRS. SIGOURNEY.
Chill and dense
With drooping heads
“Why seek ye thus
Terrified, they fled
What found they there?