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mouse making a hearty supper on the scraps. As we advance into the Christian era we find birds often introduced into what are known as the Madonna pictures, and in the dawn of the Renaissance, birds were much introduced into the great altar pieces which were so prominent a feature of the new birth of Art in Italy.
I. JULIEN ARMSTRONG.
(Lathraa Squamaria). OOTHWORT, a parasiterare in the south-east of England,
has appeared in great abundance this year in a place where for ten years I had not seen it till 1890. Within
the last month I have seen hundreds of these parasites in abundance in an area of 7 miles from west to east of the Down, and at a place 3 miles to the south-west of us, where Mr. Herbert Bull, a prominent member of the Selborne Society, observed for me no less than 179 examples, on one of which a humble bee was regaling itself at 6.17 p.m., April 12th. When you have learnt one habitat of the plant it is sure to guide you by the shelter required, and the bearing of the compass, to another, a land-locked coombe, in most cases lying low down. This plant seems to have been a remainder of the old forest Flora of the Silva Anderida, and it is found at Dorking on the North Downs. In one place opposite to a natural funnel in the hills, formed by a space between two outlying downs, the wind had blown it to the very top of the down surmounting the hanger. In most places it was found low down; but the greater the natural wind-power the higher was the habitat all along the Downs. It is generally stated that this plant is found on hazelroots, but, although one can often see the grip of the large stem-base of the Lathræa upon the dark roots of the hazel, in this region it certainly prefers the maple and ash. On Easter Monday, April 7th, I learnt this law from four instances in two habitats a mile apart, where it was on small maple clumps. No. 1, maple underwood, consisted of some fine young shoots, the wood being about four years' growth, had five of the Lathræa round the stem; and No. 2, a large thick-stemmed maple camp, 9 feet from any nut growth, was completely surrounded by 22 of the parasites close to the maple stem on all sides. This was unmistakeable, But the most curious point to be observed is that the stems of the trees, whether of nut, or maple, or ash, shewed not the least decadence from the parasitical growth—in fact, if any. thing, they were stronger than
the rest of the very vigorous underwood. Having made two observations to the east, I now was able to take score, after the manner of cricket-matches, in two other habitats to the west and south-west, further apart still. Taking my A BOOK FOR NATURE LOVERS.
chance, and not at all searching closely, the score of the shrubs chosen by the Lathræa, April 10th, was:-Ash, 76; Maple, 44 ; Hazel, 14; Spindle-tree, 5; total, 139. In the last habitat, April 12th, Mr. Bull, after finding 14 examples in a wood contiguous, counted for me 165 all under maple, in 19 clumps, all of which, except one, were on the sheltered side, and he found one cluster of the Toothwort numbering no less than 25; the largest aggregate that I had found elsewhere was 30 under ash. It is plain that the parasite is more omnivorous than many think.
The Lathræa (so called from its “ lying hid”) is a wonderful plant, much like the Orobanche, its kinsman, but much more plucky, even during March winds and frosts. It is wonderful that this dainty growth should be able to survive during frosts. It owes much to its deep-set large knotted root-stock, which has been likened to honeycomb, but is more exactly like a humble bee's nest. It creeps in the moss on the sheltered side, and many examples come up with the blade of the stem deflected towards the ground. Its red, vinous-looking anthers (something like those of a blanched gladiolus) on a stem 84 inches long, as was one that I removed from a maple, are the symbol almost unique among flowers of brave endurance in the winter, which it now has to surmount in bare exposure after its former history of sheltering forest life. It is mentioned in White's Selborne among rarities, but in two of our now four habitats it has been known twenty-five years. In the cold spring of this year, on seeing the rare bloom in March, one might wish that one had the constitution of a Toothwort, scales and all! But then the drawback is, one would have to live upon somebody else!
H. D. GORDON. Harting Vicarage, April 28.
A BOOK FOR NATURE LOVERS. The Selborne Society must contain a goodly number of authors among its members. In the notices of books specially adapted to the lovers of nature, which have been given in NATURE NOTEs, we have been able each month to head the list with the work of a Selbornian. In this May number we give the place of honour to Professor Hulme's Wayside Sketches (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge). Professor Hulme has done as much as any author of recent times to popularise the study of flowers by his well-known books, in which pen and pencil combine to render that pursuit attractive. In several instances to our own knowledge, the “pictures in Familiar Wild Flowers have first led to the study of botany by those who previously had considered it one of the driest of sciences. In the Principles of Ornamental Art, and Suggestions in Floral Design, the great value of flowers and leaves to the artistic designer is exempli. fied by admirable illustrations, and in Mythland, Professor Hulme collected a store of those quaint legends concerning plants and animals in which he takes so much delight. But we confess that the present work, called by the modest title of Waysidle Šketches, is to us the most pleasing of all. It is an enthusiastic plea for Nature-study, and is thoroughly calculated to communicate the author's enthusiasm to his readers. Interesting facts in Natural History, quaint anecdotes,
apposite quotations, and beautiful legends are arranged as a sort of running commentary on the Calendar for the Naturalists' Year. But what will give it special value in the cyes of our readers is this, that it is so thoroughly imbued with the spirit which ought to animate the members of the Selborne Society, that it might be distributed to young naturalists as a “ Manual of Selbornian Principles.” Take as an example the following pronouncement on collecting, which bears hard on the mere predatory and acquisitive instinct which is by many mistaken for a love of Nature. “The mere mania for collection is a very low ambition indeed, and leads to the ruthless destruction of every rare bird or insect, the uprooting of every rare plant, in order that they may minister to the vanity of the collector. Such an one had far better turn his thoughts towards the collection of crests or postage stamps, or, as one amiable enthusiast we know, make a list of the names of the locomotives on the London and North-Western Railway. On the cruelty of caging birds Professor Hulme writes as follows :-" To anyone who knows what the true home of a lark is, it is a really touching sight to see it shut up with a small piece of turf, and striking itself time after time against the roof of its prison, in the vain attempt to soar upward into what should be the pure heaven, the great vault of cloudless blue. It is one of the few birds that sing on the wing, and no other bird does so to anything like the same extent ; imprisonment to the skylark is therefore a peculiar hardship. One of the delights of a spring walk is to see these birds rising from the ground with their peculiar spiral flight, and to hear the burst of song growing richer and richer, until at length the birds are lost sto sight altogether, and the sweet notes pouring down to earth seem to issue from the great dome itself. Those who have been entranced with this flood of melody will sympathise with the captive beating its wings against its confining cage, and feel with us how sad the change from the breezy downs to the close city court. No native bird should ever be held in bondage, but least of all the skylark.”
Our author is thoroughly sound on the Primrose Question, which has lately been discussed in the pages of Nature Notes by G. S. Ř., Mr. Britten and others:“Whatever one's political feelings may be, all lovers of Nature will regret that the primrose should have become a party emblem. Its tender beauty should endear it equally to all. The Radical should not feel that he dare but admire it by stealth and under protest, nor the admirer of Lord Beaconsfield feel bound at least one day in the year to wear its delicate blossoms, less for their own attractive. ness than as a party symbol. The primrose is a very freely growing plant, fortunately; but even then the amount of the destruction of the roots, as they are recklessly torn up for • Primrose Day' each year, will tend to ultimately render the plant much scarcer than it is at all pleasant to contemplate.”
We regret that considerations of space do not allow us to quote other passages from this charming little book, but we feel bound to call attention to the admirable index with which it is provided, prefaced by a quotation which we would gladly see translated from a “pious aspiration” of Lord Campbell's into an actual ornament of the statute-book. “So essential did I consider an Index to be to every book, that I proposed to bring a Bill into Parliament to deprive any author who published a book without an Index of the privilege of copyright, and, moreover, to subject him to a pecuniary penalty. — CAMPBELL'S Lives of the Chief Justices of England.'
The Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge is to be congratulated on the admirable manner in which the book under notice is produced, bound and printed. We well remember the time when the stock in trade of that venerable Society consisted of doctrinal treatises frequently dull, and didactic stories not unfrequently dismal. Under its present management it vies with the leading publishers of the day in the interest of its books, and of these some of the most interesting are those which deal with scientific subjects and the study of Nature.
SHORT NOTICES OF BOOKS. We have received from Mr. David Douglas one of the pretty little shilling volumes of essays by Mr. John Burroughs, who may be styled the American Jeffries. Winter Sunshine, in spite of its name, is not at all confined to wintry
subjects, and the chapters headed “An October Abroad,” dealing, as they do, largely with the author's observations in England, give this volume a special interest.
Gleanings in Old Garden Literature, by W. C. Hazlitt (Elliot Stock), is one of those pleasant, chatty volumes which all garden lovers like to read. It contains information about gardening in the days of Elizabeth and Evelyn ; talks about Kew in olden days, and the nurseries at Old Brompton, Fulham, Battersea and Deptford ; a short bibliography of garden literature ; chals about arbours and grottoes, window and cottage gardening, physic gardens and kitchen gardens, and not the least useful feature, a good index. It is unnecessary to say that the printing and binding are first rate of their kind.
Messrs. Cassell send us a selection of the handy little pocket volumes forming their National Library, in which collection, by the way, we find singularly few dealing with Natural History. Those before us are The Natural History of Sel. borne, in two volumes ; Raleigh's Discovery of Guiana ; Spenser's Shepherd's Calendar; Mungo Park's Travels in Africa, two volumes ; Voyagers' Tales, from Hakluyt ; Johnson's Journey to the Hebrides, and Waterton's Wanderings in South America.
SELBORNIANA. Destruction of Beautiful Derbyshire Scenery. · Miss Ellen Hibbert, of Godley Vale, Manchester, sends us the following ardent plea for the preservation of a beautiful landscape.
* Permit me to appeal for help from the Selborne Society on behalf of the lovely valley of Miller's Dale, in Derbyshire. It is sad enough to have quarries and limekilns on each side of the valley, with the smoke and disfigurement, but surely the white refuse need not be thrown down the slopes, destroying and burying trees, shrubs and herbage, not in one place only, but anywhere alongside the road that the carters may find most convenient. It seems to outsiders most unnecessary that, in a district of limestone, it should be permitted to erect kilns, and devastate the hillsides in a valley which is one of the glories of the county. The hideous destruction in the Bakewell Road leading out of Buxton is a sight to make one weep. Ruskin fulminated against the construction of the railway years ago in Fors Clavigera, and again in the latest number of Preterita. I knew Buxton in the old days before the railway was made, and the greatest charm about the place was the first part of the Bakewell Road, a little over a mile, winding alongside the river Wye, between cliffs richly clothed with trees, shrubs, flowers, ferns and mosses. Sad, indeed, it was to any lover of nature, to see the cliff above the river ruthlessly cut away, with its growth of ash, hazel, ivy and yew, that the railway line might run along a terrace half way up. Kind Nature might in a few years have hidden part of the terrible scar with fresh growths, but the windings of the stream had to be bridged over, and this was done, not with stone bridges, which some little vegetation might in time have rendered sightly, but with uncompromising iron, which after a quarter of a century remains bare and hideous as ever. The worst has yet to come. The entrance to a side valley is guarded by a limekiln, and the municipality of Buxton have placed their gas and sewage works at the entrance to the road, so that anyone wishing to enjoy a glimpse of a former paradise, must pass through purgatory to reach it. I suppose it was the cheapest plan to arrange these matters so, and yet thousands of pounds have been spent in beautifying Buxton by public gardens, &c., all of which are poor and mean indeed compared with this natural beauty, which it has not been considered worth while to preserve."
- The Bird Protection Act" Farce.--Under the above title an interesting letter from Mr. Charles Dixon appears in the Standard of May ist. As the subject is such an important one, we reproduce the greater part of Mr. Dixon's letter :
“ As the spring days advance, and the country side becomes more attractive,
the lanes and woods and fields are invaded by hosts of ragged rascals bent on the destruction of our wild birds and the plunder of their nests. Not only so, but the birdcatcher and the pot-hunting gunner ply their trade unmolested, with an audacious contempt or a supreme ignorance of the law which is most irritating to behold.
Only yesterday I passed a costermonger's barrow, in a bye street near Victoria Station, on which were spread some dozens of oyster-catchers, curlews, whimbrels, and lapwings. I was told by their owner that they had come from abroad, but the fresh state of the legs and the brightness of the eyes of many of the poor birds made this statement appear incredible. At a shop close by numbers of partridges and ruffs (the latter birds in their beautiful wedding plumage) were exposed for sale ; ringdoves may be seen here and there at other game dealers’ establishments, whilst in the current number of a weekly live stock journal I am confronted with advertisements offering cock nightingales and other birds now under the protection of the law for sale. Last week I saw recorded the fact that a hoopoe had been shot in a southern county. This bird is protected by law, and, if the law were enforced, we might soon number the hoopoe among our regular Summer birds of passage.
“ All these birds are now just about to breed, or actually breeding ; many have eggs, or even nestlings, so that they are quite out of condition and totally unfit for socd. "What is anybody's business is nobody's business ’ is an old saying, and a true one ; but I do most sincerely hope that this massacre of the innocent, helpless birds, now tame and confiding and easy of capture, in the season of their courtship and love, or whilst bringing up their little ones, may be stopped by the hand of the law.
“What we want is a new Bird Protection Act, entirely drawn up by persons who know their business, the eggs as well as the birds being included; and the display for sale of any scheduled species, whether shot abroad or at home, to be held to be an infringement of the law. The enforcement of the law must be invested in persons well able to carry it out, and made directly responsible for its efficient working. The old Act is dead ; indeed, it has never been imbued with life, although, perhaps, it is a living monument to the utter ignorance of our legislators of ornithology. Any country schoolboy could have framed a better. England boasts a British Ornithologists' Union.' Why are its members not up and doing something for the better protection and preservation of those creatures it is their professed object to admire and lovingly study?”.
“ Annexation of Hayes Common..-On this subject several letters have appeared in the daily papers. We take the following from a correspondent of the Daily News :—“Hayes Common is only seventeen miles from London, though it takes an hour to reach it by train from Charing Cross. Including the Wickham portion, it is, according to the taste of many people, as attractive as the choicest bits of Epping Forest or Burnham Beeches. The Wickham portion of it contains some fifty ancient and magnificent specimens of pollard oaks, as also the remains of a Roman encampment; and through it runs Lord Chatham's drive. From the mound in the centre of the Roman remains, the visitor looking in the direction of Addington and Croydon obtains one of the most charming views in England. To say nothing of the natural beauty, the mere presence of the Roman remains should be enough to preserve the spot from the grabbers and the builder, ‘jerry' or any other. The Wickham portion of Hayes Common is, however, under process of enclosure. Round the choice part of it above-named a tall iron railing, spiked and close set, is being run up. Of course, in putting up this formidable iron railing, the lord of the manor, Sir John Lennard, may be acting within his moral as well as legal rights; the point is that among the Wickhamites there is not sufficient spirit and independence to induce them even to agitate the question; while they are shrugging their shoulders and mildly grumbling, the reddish-yellow iron railing is sneaking' its way among the trees and thick bush round the base of Coney Ilill, along by Chatham's Drive, round by the Roman remains to the boundary of what is specially known as Hayes Common. Will some Member of Parliament call attention to this matter in the House of Conimons?"
Bird List from Torquay.-Mr. G. A. Musgrave sends the following list of birds seen during the year 1889, by Mrs. Currie, at Grey's Lodge, a house in a central position in Torquay:-Great-tit, Blue-tit, Cole-tit, Marsh