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bulk. I have farther to remark, that though they hang their nests for breeding up amidst the straws of the standing corn above the ground, yet I find that in the winter they burrow deep in the earth, and make warm beds of grass; but their grand rendezvous seems to be in corn-ricks, into which they are carried at harvest. A neighbour housed an out-rick lately, under the thatch of which were assembled near a hundred, most of which were taken; and some I saw. I measured them, and found that from nose to tail they were just two inches and a quarter. Two of them in a scale weighed down just one copper halfpenny, which is about the third of an ounce avoirdupois; so that I suppose they are the smallest quadrupeds in this island.”
The harvest-mouse is the smallest of British quadrupeds ; and Mr. White has the merit of having first discovered it. The Rev. W. Bingley, in his “ Memoirs of British Quadrupeds,” has the following interesting remarks on one of them which he kept alive for some time:
“ About the middle of September, I had a female harvestmouse given to me. It was put into a dormouse cage immediately when caught, and a few days afterwards produced eight young ones.
I entertained some hope that the little animal would have nursed these and brought them up; but, having been disturbed in her removal, about four miles from the country, she began to destroy them, and I took them from her. After they were removed, she became reconciled to her situation; and when there was no noise, would venture to come out of her hiding-place at the extremity of the cage, and climb about among the wires of the open part before me. this, I remarked that her tail was prehensile, and that to render her hold the more secure, she generally coiled the extremity of it round one of the wires. The toes of all her feet were particularly long and flexile, and she could grasp the wires very firmly with any of them. She frequently rested on her hind feet, somewhat in the manner of the jerboa, for the pur
pose of looking about her; and, in this attitude, could extend her body at such an angle as at first greatly surprised me. She was a beautiful little animal; and her various attitudes in cleaning her face, head, and body, with her paws, were peculiarly graceful and elegant.
“For a few days after I received this mouse, I neglected to give it any water; but when I afterwards put some into the cage, she lapped it with great eagerness. After lapping, she always raised herself on her hind feet, and cleaned her head with her paws.
She continued, even till the time of her death, exceedingly shy and timid; but whenever I put into the cage any favourite food, such as grains of wheat or maize, she would eat them before me. On the least noise or motion, however, she immediately ran off, with the grains in her mouth, to her hiding-place. One evening, while I was sitting at my writingdesk, and the animal was playing about in the open part of its cage, a large blue fly happened to buzz against the wires: the little creature, although at twice or thrice the distance of her own length from it, sprang along the wires with the greatest agility, and would certainly have seized it, had the space betwixt the wires been sufficiently wide to have admitted her teeth or paws to reach it. I was surprised at this occurrence, as I had been led to believe that the harvest-mouse was merely a granivorous animal. I caught the fly, and made it buzz in my fingers against the wires. The mouse, though usually shy and timid, immediately came out of her hiding-place, and running to the spot, seized and devoured it. From this time I fed her with insects whenever I could get them, and she always preferred them to every other kind of food that I offered her. When this mouse was first put into her cage, a piece of fine flannel was folded
into the dark part of it as a bed, and I put some grass and bran into the large open part. In the course of a few days, all the grass was removed ; and, on examining the cage, I found it very neatly arranged between the folds of the flannel, and rendered more soft by being mixed with the nap of it, which
the animal had torn off in considerable quantity for the purpose. The chief part of this operation must have taken place in the night ; for although the mouse was generally awake and active during the daytime, yet I never once observed it employed in removing the grass. On opening its nest about the latter end of October, I remarked that there were, among
and wool at the bottom, about forty grains of maize. These appeared to have been arranged with some care and regularity; and every grain had the corcule, or growing part, eaten out, the lobes only being left. This seemed so much like an operation induced by the instinctive propensity that some quadrupeds are endowed with, for storing up food for support during the winter months, that I soon afterwards put into the cage about a hundred additional grains of maize. These were all in a short time carried away; and, on a second examination, I found them stored up in the manner of the former. But though the animal was well supplied with other food, and particularly with bread, which it seemed very fond of, and although it continued perfectly active through the whole winter, yet on examining its nest a third time, about the end of November, I observed that the food in its repository was all consumed, except about half a dozen grains.”
“Grasshoppers, which begin to chirrup in June, now sing very little, and every day less. We can hardly think the uninteresting chirping of this insect is the same as the song of the cicada, so praised by the ancients. 'Sweet prophet of the summer!' says Anacreon, addressing this insect, “the muses love thee !-Phæbus himself loves thee, and has given thee a shrill song ;-old age does not wear thee ;—thou art wise, earthborn, musical, impassive, without blood ;—thou art almost like a god!' So attached were the Athenians to these insects, that they were accustomed to fasten golden images of them in their hair, implying at the same time a boast that they, as well as the cicada, were earthborn. They were regarded indeed by all as the happiest as well as the most innocent of animals,-not,
we will suppose, for the reason given by the witty Rhodian Xenarchus, where he says,
Happy the cicada lives,
Since they all have voiceless wives !' The sound of this insect and of the harp were called by one and the same name. A cicada sitting upon a harp was an usual emblem of the science of music, which was thus accounted for: · When two rival musicians, Eunomus and Ariston, were contending upon that instrument, a cicada flying to the former, and sitting upon his harp, supplied the place of a broken string, and so secured to him the victory.' So saith the ancients."
“Small fiery meteors, called falling-stars,” says Forster, particularly common about this time of the year, and frequently leave long trains of light behind them: this is usually a sign of wind, of which Virgil makes mention in his Georgics.
“ There are three sorts of falling-stars: the most common kind prevail in frosty winter nights, and in summer also, when there are dry easterly winds with a clear sky. They have very much the appearance of real stars, and have probably from this circumstance derived their name: they leave little or no train behind them, and shoot along in straight lines, generally obliquely downward, but sometimes horizontally.
“ The second kind are larger and more brilliant, and generally appear in warm summer evenings, particularly when wave clouds and electric clouds abound; some of them are very beautiful, and give much light. They vary in colour and size, and have sometimes a curvilinear motion.
“ The third sort are strikingly different from the two abovementioned: they are generally small and of a beautiful bluishwhite colour, but their peculiar characteristic is that of leaving long white trains behind them, which remain visible for some seconds in the tract in which the meteors have gone. We have thought that their tails were the result rather of some gas set on fire by the meteor in its passage, than of any of the luminous substance of the meteor left behind.
“In fine dry summers, the sky is often strikingly beautiful at this time, particularly with light easterly breezes. The clouds then exhibit every conceivable variety of whimsical figures, and are richly coloured with the most natural tints by the setting sun. By moonlight, too, the appearance of the summer clouds is excessively elegant : extensive beds of sunder clouds floating gently along in different altitudes, must have attracted almost every one's notice. The beautiful appearance of these clouds, with a moonlight evening, has been aptly described by Bloomfield:
· For yet above these wafted clouds are seen
The beauteous semblance of a flock at rest.'” The following very beautiful lines are from Coleridge, and fully illustrate all that we ever imagined of the soothing quiet which can only be found in the silent haunts of Nature. They are a tribute from genius to the spirit of Solitude,-to the green Guardian of the earth; heard, but seen not,-felt, too, but only in the heart. They show that religion and all goodness may be traced in the forms of Nature,—that contentment gathers its own happiness from her, and tranquillity finds its greatest solace “ made up of meditated joy."
“ A green and silent spot amid the hills !
A small and silent dell !-O'er stiller place