« AnteriorContinuar »
“No mark of vegetable life is seen,
THE changes which take place in the face of nature during this month, are little more than so many advances in the
progress towards universal gloom and desolation. The day rapidly shortens, and vapours, clouds, and storms, form almost the only vicissitudes of weather in this climate : however, no great and continued severity of cold usually takes place before the close of the month.
Several of twild quadrupeds and amphibious animals now retire to their winter quarters, which they seldom quit till the return of spring. Some lay up no stores of provisions, and, therefore, become entirely torpid, till the warm weather restores them, and their food along with them. This is the case with the frog, lizard, badger, hedgehog, and bat, all of whom feed on insects or vegetables.
Dormice lie torpid the greatest part of the winter, though they lay up stores of food. A warm day sometimes revives them; when they eat a little, but soon relapse into their former sleepy condition.
Squirrels, water-rats, and field-mice, provide large stores of provisions against winter, but though they probably sleep more at this season than in summer, are not known to become torpid.
The only vegetables now flourishing are mosses and lichens, or liver-wort. Lichens cover the ditch banks and other neglected spots, with a leather-like substance, which in some countries, serves as food both to men and cattle. The rein-deer lichen is the greatest treasure of the poor Laplanders, who depend upon it for the support of their only species of domestic cattle during their tedious winters.
On the 21st of December 1, the winter solstice, or shortest day, the sun being some
thing less than eight hours above the horizon, even in the southern parts of this island. A few degrees to the northward of these islands, the sun does not rise at all, and a continued night lasts weeks or months, according to the distance from the north pole. But on the contrary, to the countries near the south pole, it is at this period perpetual day; and every where to the south of the equator it is summer. - summer advances, their winter approaches.
The Festival of Christmas* seasonably cheers the comfortless period. Great preparations are made for it in the country, and plenty of rustic dainties provided for its celebration, according to the rules of ancient hospitality; and,
-Frequent in the sounding hall they wake
Thus the old year steals away unlamented, and scarcely perceived ; and a new one
* This day is observed as a holy day, by most of the professors of christianity, in commemoration of the birth of Christ, the Saviour of poor fallen man; but, alas! much to be lamented is it, and to the great discredit of christian professors, there appears to be more wickedness committed on this than any other day in the year.
begins, with lengthening days and brighter skies, inspiring fresh hopes and pleasing expectations, that
"All this uniform uncoloured scene