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assistant-surgeon, and a party, to bring off somc of the snow, and to make what remarks they could on the circumstances attending it, as also to procure specimens of the animal, vegetable, and mineral kingdoms, and to ascertain if this part of the country was inhabited. They found that the snow was penetrated even down to the rock, in many places to a depth of ten or twelve feet, by the colouring matter, and that it had the appearance of having been a long time in that state. The boat returned at seven, with a quantity of the snow, together with specimens of the vegetation, and of the rocks; the snow was immediately examined by a microscope, magnifying 110 times, and the substance appeared to consist of particles like a very minute round seed, which were exactly of the same size, and of a deep red colour : on some of the particles a small dark speck was also seen. It was the general opinion of the officers who examined it by the microscope, that it must be vegetable, and this opinion seemed to gain strength, by the nature of the places where it was found; these were the sides of hills about six hundred feet high, on the tops of which was seen vegetation of yellowish green, and reddish brown colours. The extent of these cliffs was about eight miles; behind them, at a considerable distance, high mountains were seen, but the snow which covered these was not coloured. In the evening, I caused some of the snow to be disgolved, and bottled, when the water had the appearance of muddy port wine; in a few hours it deposited a sediment, which was examined by the microscope; some of it was bruised, and found to be composed wholly of red matter: when applied to paper, it produced a colour nearest to Indian red. It was preserved in three states, viz. dissolved and bottled, the sediment bottled, and the sediment dried : these have been examined since our return to this country, and various opinions given concerning it; but Dr. Wollaston seems to concur in that we origi
nally had, of its being a vegetable substance, produced on the mountain immediately above it. This opinion of Dr. Wollaston is confirmed by an observation of Mr. Fisher, that at the foot of those projecting points of hills on which the tinged snow generally appeared, portions of the sand presented a beautiful surface of soft-tufted moss which the natives use as wicks to their lamps. This moss is a species of polytricum, which is well known to throw out from its capsules a fine elastic coloured powder, that has been mistaken by some writers for its seed; and in fact it has been asserted that the plant has been raised by sowing it. It seems, however, that in this high latitude the family of mosses do not arrive at that perfect state of vegetation necessary, in general, for the propagation of the species; but that they multiply and continue the race by pullulation or throwing out shoots from the roots or stems. Should this be considered as a valid objection against the pollen of the moss being the cause of the colouring matter, the observations of Dr. Wollaston may still lead to a less objectionable solution of the difficulty. As it would seem that every animal has some minuter animal quartered upon it, so every plant may be supposed to have its parasite, generally one of that numerous family of fungi, which are the wolves and tigers of the vegetable world. A minute examination of the luxuriant moss in question would perhaps discover a fungus attached to its fibres, just as the lycoperdon or uredo, fixing on wheat, occasions the disease well known by the name of smut: no one, we presume, will doubt that, if it were possible for a field of wheat, tainted with this disease, to grow out of a surface of snow, that surface would be as strongly tinged with the black dust of the smut as the snow on the coast of Greenland was tinged with red. The roots of the moss in question, we understand, were of deep scarlet, and their juices might perhaps give a colour to the parasite plant.'
The Giornale di Fisica, for November and December 1818, contains an account and analysis of various showers of coloured rain and snow, from which the following brief collection of facts has been taken :
A shower of red snow fell in Carniola in the nights of the 5th and 6th of March 1808.
On the same night, a shower of snow, of a rose colour, fell over the whole surface of Carnia, Cadore, Belluno, and Feltri, to the height of twenty centimetres. The earth was previously covered with snow of a pure white, and the coloured snow was succeeded by other of a pure white, neither were the two kinds mingled together, but remained perfectly distinct even during liquefaction. When a portion of this snow was melted, and the water evaporated, a little finely-divided earth, of a rosy colour, remained not attractable by the magnet, and consisting of silex, alumine, and oxide of iron.
The same phenomenon happened at the same time in the mountains of Valtelline, Brescia, and the Tyrol. This snow was of a red or blood-rose colour, and was underlaid and covered with white snow. Its colour faded gradually until it was dissolved.
On the same evenings of the 5th and 6th of March 1803, a shower of red snow fell at Pezzo, at the extremity of the Valle Camonica. It was preceded by a very violent wind on the 5th.
On the evening of the 14th and 15th of March 1813, coloured rain and snow fell over a very large extent of country. Red rain fell in the two Calabrias, and on the opposite part of Abruzzo, the wind being at E. and S.E. Snow and hail of a yellow red colour fell over all Tuscany with a north wind. Red snow fell at Tolmezzo, the wind being at N.E., and in the Carnia Alps; and, finally, snow of a brownish yellow colour fell at Bologna, the wind being S.W.
* See the Quarterly Review, vol. xxi, p. 229, et seq., and the Quarterly Journal of Literature, Science, and the Arts, vol. vii, p. 189.
In this month, the flowers of the rosemary (rosmarinus officinalis) begin to open; the winter aconite Chelleborus hiemalis), and the bear's foot (h.fatidus), are in flower about the middle of the month; the mezereon (daphne m.) breathes mild its early sweets; and the red dead-nettle (lamium purpureum flowers under the shelter of southern hedges. The snowdrop ( galanthus nivalis) seems on the point of blowing.
To a Snow-DROP, appearing very early in the Season.
The common creeping crowfoot (ranunculus repens) is now in flower; and the crocus, if the weather be mild, appears above ground. Ivy casts its leaves; the catkin, or male blossom of the hazel (corylus avellana), unfolds; the flowers of the holly silex aquifolium) begin to open; and the leaves of the honeysuckle (lonicera periclymenum) are quite out. Towards the end of January, the daisy (bellis perennis) is in full bloom.
The china rose (rosa chinensis and rosa semperflorens), till lately unknown to us, and at first considered only as a greenhouse plant, is now seen in blow in the open air, even in the month of December, often with its red buds mossed with frost. The wallflower (cheiranthus), periwinkle (vinca, major & minor), and heart's-ease (viola tricolor), are still in blow.
The golden saxifrage, called also golden moss, and stonecrop (chrysoplenium), in the absence of other flowers, affords its little aid to give life and beauty to the garden. The bramble (rubus fruti-. cosus) still retains its leaves, and gives a thin scattering of green in the otherwise leafless hedges; while the berries of the hawthorn, the wild rose, and the spindle-tree, afford their brilliant touches of red. The twigs of the red dog-wood, too, give a richness amid the general brown of the other shrubs.
Hunting and shooting are among the favourite amusements of this season. Skating, also, is much practised by young persons.
On blithesome frolics bent, the youthful swains,
The long-resounding course.' In this month, the farmer carries out manure to his fields, and repairs quickset hedges; taking advantage of the dry and hard ground, during frost. The barn resounds with the flail, barley being now threshed for malting. He lops forest trees, and cuts timber for winter use. About the end of the month, in dry weather, peas and beans are sown, and vetches for seed or fodder. Hogs are killed for bacon, and beef and hams are smoked.
In continuation of our account of the red snow in
· For a pleasing description of the sledge processions at Vienna in the winter season, consult our last volume, p. 58, et seq.