Page images

The Naturalist's Diary,

For September, 1830.

“ How splendid all the sky! how still!

How mild the dying gale !
How soft the whispers of the rill,

That wind along the vale!
So tranquil nature's works appear,

It seems the sabbath of the year:
As if the summer's labour past, she chose
This season's sober calm for blandishing repose.

Flora is beginning to withdraw her favors from the earth; still the garden presents a cheerful appearance through the greater part of the month. Among the plants in flower is the Italian pimpernel, golden star lily, Michaelmas daisy, oval fleabane, golden and pendulous starwort, rose feverfew, amarella, harvest bell, downy helenium, and others of equal beauty

The berries of the deadly nightshade (atropa belladonna ;) ripen this month. This plant should not be introduced into gardens, as it is, in every part, poisonous; and, from its beautiful appearance and sweet taste of the berries, often allures children, and even grown persons, to eat them ;from which fatal consequences have often occurred. In the New Year's Gift for 1830, is the following sweet and affecting poem, on a real incident which fell within the writer's own knowledge. THE DEADLY NIGHTSHADE.

A FACT. Two lovely children went, when summer was in prime, Into a garden beautiful, beneath a southern clime; A brother and a sister-twins, ard each to each most dear, Was not the mother of these babes beset with any fear?

And brightly shone the summer sun upon that gentle pair, Who plucked each gaudy flower that grew in rich profusion

there; Or chased the idle butterflies, those fair, defenceless things, That round them tantalizing danced upon their silken wings.

With many a flower which they had plucked, a mimic grove

they made, But wondered, when they came again, they had so soon

decayed; And grieving, each the other asked, why all the roses red, Which freshly bloomed an hour before, now drooping hung

their head?

'Twas in that season of the year when on the blooming earth Each flower and plant, and shrub and tree, to all their fruits

gave birth; But mid them all, and most exposed to catch the passing

view, With purple flowers and berries red, the deadly nightshade

grew !

Up rose the little boy and ran, upon the bush to gaze,
And then his sister followed quick, and both were in amaze,
For berries half so beautiful they ne'er before had seen,
So forth he rashly stretched his hand among the branches


“ Oh, Edward ! Edward! do not touch-remember, mother

said, That poisonous fruit in clustres grew, though beautiful and

red; And that it had a tempting look, inviting to the eye, But if a single one we eat, that we should surely die,”

“O! Charlotte, Charlotte, do you think that these can do us

harm, Or that such pretty fruit as this need cause us such alarm ? For surely if they poisonous are, they bitter then must be, So I will taste a single one, and we shall quickly see!”

Then forth he stretched his little hand, and he a berry

plucked, And to his lips he put the fruit, and in the poison sucked; And when he found the juice was good, he bade his sister

eat;“ For it is pleasant to the taste, so cooling and so sweet."

These children then the berries pulled, and of them eat their

fill, Nor did they ever dream the while, that they were doing ill : “'Tis not the fruit that mother meant,” exultingly they cried, And merry was their prattling laugh, to see their fingers


But suddenly the sister stopped, her rosy cheek grew pale : “Oh, brother ! brother! hold me up, for something doth me

ail ;I feel so weak, I cannot stand,—the trees are dancing

round. Oh, Edward ! Edward ! clasp my hand, and place me on the


He gently laid his sister down, and bitterly did cry,
And every means to ease her pain and calm her fears did

try; But soon he felt himself turn sick, and feeble, chilly, weak, And, as he tottered on the grass, he bruised his sister's


Exhausted though that infant was, upon his tender breast He placed the little Charlotte's head, that she night softer

rest : The hapless creature did but think his sister only slept ! And when his eyesight dimmer grew, to her he closer crept.

The evening closed upon these babes, who slept away their

breath; And, mourning o'er his cruel task, away went grieving

death : And they who had the sacred trust, these cherubs dear to

keep, Beheld them where they quiet lay, but thought they were

asleep. When they the hapless sufferers raised from that last fond

embrace, A half-formed smile was seen to dwell upon each paly face; Alas! that such twin roses fair, which morning saw in

bloom, Should wither in the sunny land, ere came the twilight

gloom. Florence.

During this month the champignon, (campestris;) or common mushroom, is found in great plenty in woods, old pastures, and at the sides of roads, in which places it generally attains great perfection. The supposed characteristics of a good mushroom are hardness and solidity, a little brownish on the top; and, when young, a thickish white skin covering the gills; the gills, for the most part, of a pink or flesh colour; the stalk also large, in proportion to the size of the cap. There is also a peculiar smell in a good mushroom, with which those who are acquainted with thein cannot be deceived. Whenever a fungus is pleasant in flavor and odor, it may be considered wholesome; if, on the contray, it have an offensive smell, a hitter, astringent, or styptic taste, or even if it leave an unpleasant flavor in the mouth, it should not be considered fit for fond. T'he colour, figure, and texture, of these vegetables, do not, however, afford any character on which we can safely rely. But, in general, those should be suspected which grow in caverns and subterraneous passages, on animal matter undergoing putrefaction, as well as those whose flesh is soft or watery. All edible species should be thoroughly masticated before taken into the stomach, as this greatly lessens the injurious effects produced by the poison. When, however, this dangerous mistake has been made, vomiting should be excited immediately, and then the vegetable acids should be given, such as vinegar, lemon, or apple juice; after which, to stop the excessive bilious vomiting, antispasmodic remedies should be exhibited. Infusion of gall nuts, oak and Peruvian bark, are recommended, as capable of neutralizing the poison. Spirit of wine and vinegar extract some part of their poison, and tanning matter decomposes the greater part of it.

As the corn harvest is generally over by the latter

ded, aine and tanning

end of August, the law allows partridge shooting to begin on the first of September. This well-known bird is found in every country and climate, from the frozen pole to the torrid tracks under the equator; and, by a kind provision of nature, it adapts itself to the temperature of the climate where it resides. As soon as the icy winter sets in, the partridge of Greenland, which was brown in the summer, begins to take a covering suited to the season : it is then clothed with a warm down beneath, and its outward plumage assumes the color of the snow, amidst which it seeks its food; thus doubly protected, by increase of warmth and change of color, from the inclemency of the weather, and the notice of its enemies. Partridges pair early in the spring, and, about the month of May, the female lays from fourteen to eighteen eggs, in a hole in the ground. Many interesting stories are told of their attachment to their young, and of the wonderful instinct implanted in them by the God of nature, for the support and protection of their offspring.

Herrings pay us their annual visit this month, and afford a rich harvest to the inhabitants of the eastern and western coasts.

We shall close this month with a charming domestic picture of the harvest season from the delightful pen of the poetess of Nottingham.


BY MARY HOWITT. 'Twas when the harvest-moon came slowly up,

Broad, red and glorious o'er dark groves of pine; In the bushed eve, when closed the flow'ret's cup, And the blue grape hung dewy on the vine,

Forth from a porch where tendrilled plants entwine, Weaving a shadowy bower of odorous things,

· Rich voices came, telling that there were met
Beauty and youth, and mirth, whose buoyant wings

Soaring aloft o'er thoughts that gloom and fret,
Gave man release from care or lured him to forget.

« PreviousContinue »