Imagens das páginas

"yewen hedge;" we should be quite willing to change "Mrs. Sinkins" into Arethusa or Boule de Neige; we like the fanciful nomenclature by which the beautiful trees of the garden become the knights and ladies of King Arthur's Court -Sir Launcelot, and Sir Bedevere, and Morgan-le-faye-though we are sorry that there is no room found in this earthly paradise for poor guilty Guinevere. But if scientific names are used at all, they ought to be used consistently and spelt correctly. Phylleria" for "Phillyrea ;""Pavias" for " Pavia ;""Tropaeolum for " Tropaeolum;" "chalcedonia for "chalcedonica ;" "Bromus aspen" for


"Bromus asper "" edition. 66


are misprints which surely ought not to appear in a seventh Daphne pontifia" (the name given for the spurge laurel on p. 133) is probably a misprint for " Daphne pontica;" but the spurge laurel is really " Daphne Laureola." "Pyrus Malus" is the botanical name for the apple. Pyrus malus (p. 123) is merely the Latin for "a bad pear!" So with many others. Doubtless the seventh edition of Days and Hours in a Garden will soon be succeeded by our eighth, and then we hope that not even a technical or typographical error will mar the pages of so fair a book.


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Science and Scientists, Some Papers on Natural History by the Rev. John Gerard, S. J. (Catholic Truth Society) is a book much more adapted to the tastes of nature-lovers than its somewhat vague and unattractive title suggests. The scientists referred to are those popularisers of science who "stroll out to the fields, or the moors, or the sea-shore, where every object they meet-beast, bird, insect, or weed-furnishes them with a text wherewith to enforce the great creed formulated by exact science and exact thought concerning the origin of the heavens and the earth." From this habit of imparting information while they take their walks abroad, Father Gerard calls them "Neo-peripatetics," or modern walking sages, and he recognises as head "walker the popular essayist and novelist, Mr. Grant Allen, with whom accordingly he determines to enter the lists. Now Mr. Grant Allen is quite accustomed to being attacked by scientific specialists and learned ecclesiastics; but being nimble and cunning of fence he generally manages to get the best of it, for he can slip beneath their guard and runs them through with a gibe or a good story while they are seeking to crush him with their ponderous weapons of rigid logic and accurate statement of fact. In these wit combats Mr. Grant Allen for the most part continues to secure the sympathy of the spectators; his style, as we all know, is delightful, and above all else his easy familiarity ingratiates him with those who have no pretensions to technical scientific training. "Don't bore yourself with all these dull books and dry technicalities in order to see whether my theories are correct, says he to his readers, "let us go out into the fields and pluck a buttercup, or eat a wild strawberry, or look at an arum, or watch a donkey browsing on the common. And the




general reader," leaving the dull technical treatises on the shelf, arises gladly, accepts the genial invitation and listens eagerly, while the "walking sage explains to him all about the buttercup, and the arum, and the donkey. And very nice walks they are, too, and very much we enjoy them, readily and unquestioningly we accept the information which our kind guide gives us about the juicy strawberry, who competes with his " 'chaffy" brethren in the race of life, or about the wicked "lobster-pot-like "Arum (the original criminal "who killed Cock Robin," not with bow and arrow, but basely by poison), and about the aristocratic donkey whose high position irreverent men rudely refuse to recognise, nor will they pay the deference they ought to one of Nature's " unfortunate noblemen."


But Father Gerard refuses to be put on the shelf while our peripatetic tutor is giving us all this valuable and amusing information. "I will put on my hat and come too," says he, together we will pluck our buttercup and eat our strawberry and watch, &c., &c." The result of these joint expeditions may be found in the pleasant little volume before us. In it the ambulatory method is recognised as the right one; but is turned against its originator with considerable skill. Mr. Grant Allen is in a fashion, hoist with his own petard, and finds he has a very different anatagonist to deal with from those ponderous Dryasdusts who think it wise to conduct a guerilla warfare with an eighty-one ton gun. We learn that we have been a little too hasty, perhaps, in accepting the instruction we had received in our former rambles, that we have often allowed our teacher to do all the looking at nature for us instead of looking ourselves; that we sometimes, under the influence of our accomplished guide, have seen things, apparently of considerable



importance in proving something else, which did not actually exist at all. We learn, too, that we have often taken a plausible theory for an ascertained fact, and that we have listened to "fairy tales of science as if they were only true stories which nearly everybody knew, while all the time we ought to have gratefully acknowledged that they were private property, being entirely due to the brilliant imagination of the courteous gentleman who personally conducted us. In some respects our second peripatetic lecturer seems even better than the first; he is more logical, if not so "cock-sure about everything; " he has clearer vision, if less imagination; he is much more accurate. if not quite so interesting; last but not least, his lessons are much less expensive, or what comes to the same thing, his book is much cheaper. But the readers of Nature Notes had better form their own opinions on the merits of this controversy; we can only advise all those who have read Vignettes from Nature, and the Evolutionist at Large to carefully compare the conclusions arrived at in these volumes, with the views set forth in Science and Scientists.



AMONG the many editions of the Natural History of Selborne, none is more attractive than that issued in the "Camelot Classics" (Walter Scott). It has an admirable introduction by Richard Jefferies, the Gilbert White of our own time, is well printed and of a convenient size for the pocket, and would be well nigh perfect if it were blest with an index ; but of this there is no trace, not even a table of contents." By a curious slip Mr. Jefferies speaks of "the little Surrey parish of Selborne," whereas the very first sentence in the book is "The parish of Selborne lies in the extreme eastern corner of the county of Hampshire." Mr. Walter Scott also sends us a threepenny illustrated pamphlet in a pretty pictorial cover entitled, The History of the Dicky Bird Society. Perhaps few of our readers are acquainted with this flourishing forerunner of the Selborne Society, in which case they will thank us for calling their attention to "Uncle Toby's "brochure. This excellent personage-a very real entity to some 140,000 boys and girls who have enrolled themselves under his banner-established the Society in the "Children's Corner" of the Newcastle Chronicle on the 7th October, 1876. The way in which the "D. B. S." has grown, the work it has done, the influence it has exercised, with many interesting letters and facsimile drawings will be found fully detailed in this small but entertaining pamphlet.

The Field Naturalist's Handbook, by the Revs. J. G. and Theodore Wood (Cassell) offers a convenient summary of what is to be done in each month among insects and plants. Each month is prefaced by some very useful" general hints " as to what to do and how and when to do it. "Lonicer," not "Lonice (p. 9), is the name of the botanist whom Lonicera commemorates.

Messrs. Ward and Lock have conferred a boon upon lovers of nature and travel by producing a cheap and well printed edition of Darwin's classical Journal of Researches made during the voyage of the "Beagle " in 1831. Although first published nearly half a century since, it is as fresh as ever, and in its present form will reach many who have hitherto been debarred from getting the work on account of its expense. The illustrations do not add to the attractiveness of the book, and might well have been omitted.

Messrs. Cassell send us their Concise Natural History, a handsome volume in small quarto, abounding in illustrations, and containing some 620 pages. The name of Professor Perceval Wright, the editor, guarantees that the work is careand accurately done, although the descriptions are cessarily condensed, they are readable and clear. This would form an excellent school prize, apropos of which it occurs to us to inquire whether the Selborne Society is established in any of the public or private schools, and if not, why not? In addition to its other merits, this Natural History contains an excellent index.

The National Society has done well in republishing selections from Sir John Lubbock's Natural History, in the form of a reading book for use in elementary and higher schools. These "Chapters on Natural History" are well suited also for village libraries and private reading; ants, bees, and wasps, the colours of animals, plants, and insects, fruits and seeds are among the subjects dealt with.

There are nearly a hundred illustrations, many of them very good, others (as on pp. 177, 181, 209, 212, about the worst we have ever seen.

The Brook and its Banks. (R.T.S.) "Is one of the last books from the facile pen of the Rev. J. G. Wood," and, the preface further adds, "it will be found in every way worthy of the reputation of the author." We are glad to endorse this approval and to recommend the handsome illustrated volume to lovers of the country as one which will add much to the enjoyment of their rambles, and to those pleasant anticipations or reminiscences which are only less delightful than the rambles themselves. The flowers, which so conspicuously ornament the banks of brooks, are dismissed with somewhat scanty notice; but there are many other books which supply this defect. An index would greatly add to the usefulness of this pleasantly written book.

The Birds in my Garden, by Dr. W. T. Greene (R. T.S.), is a recent addition to a class of literature which is already extensive, and the increase of which gives gratifying testimony to the spread of Selbornian views; for it is to the naturelover rather than to the scientific observer that such books appeal. This volume contains an account of the feathered visitants of a suburban garden. It is beautifully printed and prettily illustrated, and will doubtless attract a large circle of readers.

Mr. Marshall Ward's Diseases of Plants (S.P.C.K.) is a handy technical manual on an important subject, and may be recommended to the more scientific among our readers.

We have received from Messrs. Cassell and Co., The Rev. Theodore Wood's Life of his father, the Rev. J. G. Wood, which we propose to notice at some length in our next issue.


Flowers in Hospitals.

They that can wander at will where the works of the Lord are revealed Little guess what joy can be got from a cowslip out of the field; Flowers to these spirits in prison' are all they can know of the Spring, They freshen and sweeten the wards like the waft of an angel's wing. TENNYSON, In the Children's Hospital. "The Sea-blue Bird of March ("S. S.")—We can state on the best possible authority, that the bird thus referred to by Lord Tennyson is the kingfisher.


Kent Names.--I have heard Kent people speak of a Yellow Hambird (or Ambird, for they are not safe with their aspirates). They also speak of the "Willow-tit"; but whether that means one species, or the Paridæ in general I don't know. I have seen the Marsh-tit biting off willow-catkins. F. M. MILLARD. Sussex Names (Fernhurst).-The common wren is called "Jugger wren. The white narcissus, which is found in meadows in several places in this parish, is called "Primrose Pearls." Stag's horn beettles are "Pincher bobs." S.

["Jugger wren" is not in Mr. Swainson's book. "Primrose Pearls" is no doubt a corruption of "Primrose Peerless," an old name for Narcissus biflorus mentioned by Lyte and Gerard. Culpeper has "Primrose Pearls."]

[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]


Wood vetch
Willow blossoms

Hazel catkins

Briza media
Milk thistle
(Carduus marianus)

First-green leaf buds of the

Wild tares
Lamb's tails

Trembling grass
Sow thistle

Bread and cheese





There is still a relic of superstition clinging to the blue speedwell, though the children laugh and tell me they "don't believe it now." They say the flower belongs to the birds-and our servants, both country girls, tell me, that when children, they never durst gather it, lest the birds should fly after them and pick out their eyes." Hence, "Bird's eye." The origin of the name Mammy-die is an equally doleful ditty. Our nurse-maids would never allow us to bring the flower into the house, or "surely the mother would sicken and die." Gather it we might, but we were obliged to cast it away before reaching home. The former, however, is the most familiar name. L. HINCHCLIFF.

Gravyes.-The following extract is from Burn's and Nicholson's History of Cumberland and Westmoreland :•—

"There are on Windermere Lake birds called Gravyes, which are larger than ducks, and build in hollow trees."


Can any of your subscribers or readers tell me what those birds are? The History was published at the close of last century, and no one here (Windermere) can tell me to what water fowl the name was applied. A. RAWSON.

The Ladybird.—The Lady-bird, in Kent, is "Fly-golding;" but Norfolk children used to say "Beeshy Barnabee."


Beeshy, Beeshy, Barnabee,

Tell me when your wedding be;
If ter be to-morrow day,

Take your wings, and fly away.

Let me protest by anticipation, as it were, against any emendation such as 66 Bishop Barnaby," or (in the lines) "if it be ; in classical Norfolk "here it is " is "hutterbe." F. M. MILLARD.

The Plague of Rats.-The plague of rats all over England-also according to the papers in the Laccadive islands (how did they get there ?)-will probably attract more and more of public attention. Personally I prefer rats to mice. The noise they make rattling about under the floors and behind the wainscots, appears to me rather cheerful, and a decided improvement on the smell and the mess made by our domestic mouse. The sudden and total disappearance of the house-mice has seemed inexplicable until we found that rats had taken their place. I believe the fact is well known that rats and mice do not agree. Until the last few months our house has been fairly furnished with mice, but quite free of rats. From all parts of the country there are accounts of the great increase of rats; and it is a fact that in Norfolk and in the West of England there live landowners and some_preservers who have ordered their keepers to cease from destroying hawks. There can be little doubt that the wholesale destruction of hawks, with cats, owls and other night birds, and of every other living creature that keepers trap or shoot under the name of vermin, has for one result this enormous multiplication of rats. Most persons would probably feel somewhat less annoyed by the knowledge that a few more hawks, &c., are likely to exist unmolested outside their dwellings, than that swarms of rats had taken possession within.

E. V. B. Miss Mitford's "Spicer."-May I be permitted to ask if the plant which Miss Mitford describes in one charming sketches of "Our Village" as a recent introduction there, in her days, has ever been identified?

The passage occurs in the chapter headed "Dr. Tubb." Miss Mitford's descriptions of natural objects are so truthful and accurate, that unlike most of her ideal characters, the weed in question must have flourished in her neighbourhood, and excited the admiration and curiosity she narrates. I should much like to know whether it still survives, and has spread elsewhere. I have transcribed the passage relating to it. A. R. P. "We found our gardens and all the gardens of this straggling village street, in

which it is situated, filled, peopled, infested by a beautiful flower, which grew in such profusion, and was so difficult to keep under, that (poor pretty thing?), instead of being admired and cherished, and watered, and supported, as it well deserves to be, and would be if it were rare, it is disregarded, affronted, maltreated, cut down, pulled up, hoed out like a weed.

I do not know the name of this elegant plant, nor have I met with anyone who does. We call it the Spicer, after an old naval officer who once inhabited the White House just above, and, according to tradition, first brought the seed from foreign parts. It is a sort of large Veronica, with a profusion of white gauzy flowers, streaked with red, like the apple blossom. Strangers admire it prodigiously, and so do I-everywhere but in my own garden.



I never saw anything prettier than a whole bed of these " Spicers," which had clothed the top of a large heap of earth by the roadside. The plants are thick and close as grass, and covered with delicate red and white blossoms, like a fairy orchard."

[The plant referred to is undoubtedly the Soap wort, Saponaria officinalis, which, beautiful as it is, too often becomes a serious pest in gardens to which it has been introduced.]

Voracious Voles.-While walking last week in a narrow Hertfordshire lane, I was struck with the appearance of two bushes in the hedge at some distance from each other, the bark of which had been so generally gnawed off from boughs and twigs that the bushes at a little distance looked white. At the foot of the bushes-some 8 or 1oft. in height- -was a small pile of twigs three or four inches in length, from which all the bark had been stripped. A third bush, an elder, had also been attacked, but only partially. My companion hunted in the bank below the hedge and found various small holes and burrows, but nothing that gave us a clue to the author of the damage done.

I afterwards sought information at the National History Museum, and, by the kindness of the official in charge of the Insect Department, found that the creature must have been the meadow Vole. In spite of many years of country life I have not before seen this nibbled bark (specimens of which I enclose) and I shall be glad to learn whether this small Vole is now more common than usual? I met one in a Yorkshire meadow last year hopping among the grass, in search I thought, of earth worms.

E. H.

The Shooting of Rare Birds.-An interesting, and in some respects, amusing correspondence has recently been carried on in the columns of the Western Morning News under the above title. Our readers will remember that in the January number of NATURE NOTES there was quoted a letter from Mr. Thomas Cornish, of Penzance, in which he gloried in having destroyed two 66 rare birds," a buzzard and a heron. For this he was severely taken to task by our correspondent, "Cornubiensis Indignans ;" but the rebuke he received has had but little effect in producing a reformation in his habits, for in the Western Morning News of April 1st, he writes throwing doubt upon a paragraph inserted in that paper, to the effect that the sandmartin and wheatear had been seen near Liskeard, on March 29th, which paragraph he says, "is the best possible proof that rare birds should be shot." He then goes on to make the extraordinary remark that "Had these ob served birds been reduced to handling, and so identified, ichthyology (!) would have gained a new experience, and the bird-world would have lost two of its members."


In a later letter from Mr. Cornish, he takes upon himself the fuller responsibility for this absurd mistake, and goes on to make the still more astounding statement, Except for size, habitat, and a few other trifling variations, an elephant might be a shew (sic) mouse, or the mouse might be a whale, or the whale might be a flying-fish, and this latter certainly might be a Northern diver." But for size, habitat, and a few other trifling peculiarities, Mr. Cornish apparently might be a stormy-petrel, judging by the tempest of indignation from observers of nature which he has aroused in the columns of the W. M. N. One might suppose that it would have been easy to convince him (1) That a bird is not a fish; (2) That it is very probable, instead of "highly improbable," that wheatears and sandmartins would be found in Cornwall at the end of March; (3) That wheatears and sandmartins are not, properly speaking, "rare birds" at all; (4) That the best way to make any

« AnteriorContinuar »