« PreviousContinue »
The following letter from M. Fintelmann, of Potsdam, to Mr. Loudon, will show how the Prussians amuse themselves at this season of the year, and keep up an appearance of a perpetual summer even throughout the winter.
“ Winter gardens, as far as I know, exist no where else but in Prussia. In Potsdam we have only one, that of M. Voigt, very good and very highly kept; but at Berlin there are four, M. Teichmann's in the Thiergarten, Faust's and George's both within the town walls, and Moeve's on the Potsdam road. The original of these gardens was established by M. Bouché soon after the time of the general peace, but his garden is now quite neglected, and the leading establishment ever since 1818, has been M. Teichmann's.
6. These gardens are simply large green-houses, or what would be called in England orangeries, with paved floors, a lofty ceiling plastered like that of a room, and upright windows in front. The air is heated by stoves, which are supplied with fuel from behind. On the floor are placed here and there large orange trees, myrtles, and various New Holland plants in boxes. The plants are mostly such as have a single stem of at least 3 or 4 feet in height, and round the stem and over the boxes a table is formed by properly contrived boards, so that the tree appears to be growing out of the centre of the table. These tables which are sometimes round and sometimes square, are for the use of guests, either to take refreshments, or for pamphlets and newspapers. Sometimes on each table there is a circle of handsome odoriferous plants, such as hyacinths, narcissuses, mignionette, &c. in pots, round the stem of the plant; in other cases, there is no table, but the box is covered with handsome flowering plants; and in some parts of the floor, one handsome tree in the middle is sur
rounded by several smaller trees and plants, so as to form a mass, or clumps of verdure and flowers, such as we see in pleasure-grounds.
“The flowers which are generally found in these winter gardens throughout the winter are hyacinths, narcissuses, ranunculuses, tulips, crocuses, roses, heaths, camellias, acacias, epacrises, correas, &c. There are also various climbers, curious or showy stove plants, pine apples in fruit, cactuses, &c., and sometimes even fruit trees, the latter both in flower and in fruit. The proprietors of these gardens have generally small forcing stoves, for the purpose of bringing forward and keeping up their supplies.
* It is almost needless to say, that in these gardens or orangeries there are plenty of seats, and small moveable tables, and generally inusic, a reciter of poetry, a reader, a lecturer, or some other person or party to supply vocal or intellectual entertainment'; short plays have even been acted in them on the Sundays. In the evening the whole is illuminated, and on certain days of the week the music and illuminations are on a grander scale. In some of these orangeries also there are separate saloons with billiards, for ladies who object to the smoke of tobacco, for card playing, and for select parties,
“If you enter these gardens in the morning part of the day during the winter season, you will find old gentlemen with spectacles reading the newspapers, taking chocolate, and talking politics; after three o'clock, you see ladies and gentlemen, and people of every description, sitting among the trees, talking or reading, and smoking, and with punch, grog, coffee, beer, and wine before them. In the saloon, you will see those gentlemen and ladies who cannot bear tobacco; and I ought to mention, that in some orangeries smoking tobacco is not
people of Lo they would a capita
s, that time leisu who ha
allowed, and in others it is only permitted till a certain time in the day. '“When the audience leaves the theatre in the evening, you will find in M. Faust's garden a great number of well dressed people of both sexes, who look in there before they go home, to see the beauty of vegetation when brilliantly illuminated by artificial light, and to talk of the play and the players.
"I saw no garden in England, Scotland, or Ireland, that I could compare to these winter gardens; they appear to me very suitable to a capital town, though I do not think they would be much frequented by the people of London, who have not the same taste, nor the same leisure, for these kinds of amusements, that the Berlin people have.”
Among the feathered race also there is much to delight an observant mind, as many birds may be seen and heard at this season. The nuthatch (Europea) although rather a scarce bird, is one of them. A correspondent, in the Magazine of Natural History, communicates the following particulars of one :-" I had never seen the little bird called the nuthatch, when, one day, as I was expecting the transit of some wood-pigeons under a beech tree, with a gun in my hand, I observed a little ash-coloured bird squat himself on one of the large lateral trunks over my head, and, after some observation, begin to tap loudly, or rather solidly upon the wood, and then proceed round and round the branch, it being clearly the same thing to him whether his nadir or zenith were uppermost. I shot, and the bird fell: there was a lofty hedge between us, and when I got over he had removed hinaself. It was some time before I secured him, and I mention this, because the manner in which he eluded me was characteristic of his cunning. He concealed himself in holes at the bottom of a
ditch, so long as he heard the noise of motion, and when all was still, he would scud out and attempt to escape. A wing was broken, and I at length got hold of him. He proved small, but very fierce, and his bite would have made a child cry out. The elbow joint of the wing being thoroughly sbattered, and finding that he had no other wound, I cut off the dangling limb, and put him into a large cage with a common lark. The wound did not in the least diminish his activity, nor yet his pugnacity, for he instantly began to investigate all possible means of escape; he tried the bars, then tapped the wood-work of the cage, and produced a knocking sound, which made the room re-echo; but finding his efforts in vain, he then turned upon the lark, ran under him with his gaping beak to bite, and effectually alarmed his far more gentle and elegant antagonist. Compelled to separate them, the nuthatch, for this bird I discovered him to be, by turning over the leaves of an Ornithologia, was put into a smaller cage of plaiu oak wood and wire. Here he remained all night, and the next morning his knocking or tapping with his beak was the first sound I heard, though sleeping in an apartment divided from the other by a landingplace. He had food given to him, minced chicken and bread-crumbs, and water. He eat and drank with a most perfect impudence, and the moment he had satisfied himself, turned again to his work of battering the frame of his cage, the sound from which, both in loudness and prolongation of noise, is only to be compared to the efforts of a fashionable footman upon a fashionable door in a fashionable square. He had a particular fancy for the extremities of the corner pillars of the cage; on these he spent his most elaborate taps, and at this moment, though he only occupied the cage a day, the wood is pierced and worn like a piece of old worm
eaten timber. He probably had an idea, that if these main beams could once be penetrated, the rest of the superstructure would fall, and free him., Against the door-way he had also a particular spite, and once succeeded in opening it; and when, to interpose a farther obstacle, it was tied in a double knot with string, the perpetual application of his beak quickly unloosed it. In ordinary cages a circular hole is left in the wire for the bird to insert his head, to drink from a glass : to this hole the nuthatch constantly repaired, not for the purpose of drinking, but to try to put out more than his head, but in vain; for he is a thick bird, and rather heavily built ; but the instant he found the hole too small, he would withdraw his head, and begin to dig and hammer at the circle, and where it is rooted in the wood, with his pickaxe of a beak, evidently with a design to enlarge the orifice. His labour was incessant, and he eat as largely as he worked; and I fear it was the united effects of both that killed him. His hammering was peculiarly laborious, for he did not peck as other birds do, but grasping his bold with his immense feet, he turned upon them as upon a pivot, and struck with the whole weight of his body, thus assuming the appearance, with his entire form, of the head of a hammer; or, as I have sometimes seen birds on the mechanical clocks made to strike the hour by swinging on a wheel. We were in hopes that when the sun went down he would cease from his labours, and rest : but no; at the interval of every ten minutes, up to nine or ten o'clock in the night, he resumed his knocking, and strongly reminded us of the coffin maker's nightly and dreary occupation. It was said by one of us, he is nailing his own coffin ;' and so it proved. An awful fluttering in the cage, now covered with a handkerchief, announced that some