Imagini ale paginilor
PDF
ePub

A LAY OF AN EARLY ROSE.

A rose once grew within
A garden April-green,
In her loneness, in her loneness,
And the fairer for that oneness.

A white rose delicate,

On a tall bough and straight!
Early comer, early comer,
Never waiting for the summer.

Her pretty guests did win
South winds to let her in,
In her loneness, in her loneness,
All the fairer for that oneness.

"For if I wait," said she, "Till times for roses be,For the musk-rose and the moss-rose, Royal-red and maiden-blush rose,—

"What a glory then for me,
In such a company?
Roses plenty, roses plenty,
And one nightingale for twenty?

"Nay, let me in," said she, "Before the rest are free,In my loneness, in my loneness, All the fairer for that oneness.

"For I would lonely stand, Uplifting my white hand, On a mission, on a mission, To declare the coming vision.

"Upon which lifted sign

What worship will be mine?

What addressing, what caressing,

And what thank, and praise, and blessing!"

So, praying, did she win

South winds to let her in,

In her loneness, in her loneness,
And the fairer for that oneness.

[blocks in formation]

-Poor Rose, to be misknown!
Would she had ne'er been blown,
In her loneness, in her loneness,-
All the sadder for that oneness!

Some word she tried to say-
Some no-all, well away!

But the passion did o'ercome her,
And the fair frail leaves dropped from her-

Dropped from her fair and mute,
Close to a poet's foot,
Who beheld them smiling slowly,
As at something sad yet holy :

Said, "Verily and thus

It chanceth eke with us;
Poetry singing sweetest snatches,

While that deaf man keeps the watches."

ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING.

A CHAPTER ON INSECT LIEE.

Walking in our rose-garden this pleasant fine day, let us inquire a little into the habits and character of the Aphides with which our favourite flowers are sure to be more or less molested, and in order to do this in the best manner, let us take out the first volume of the "Episodes of Insect Life," as we have so often done, and turning to page 172, read in the sunshine and with an aphis-stricken rose-bush before us, what that clever writer has to say on the subject.

"Let us," says he, "early in the spring, look a little closely at the leaf-buds of a rose-bush which we shall find even now occupied by aphis-tenantry, such as have recently emerged from minute black eggs, deposited last autumn on the branches. These are all green, of small size and without wings, but later (towards the end of May) a single flowerbud is likely to present us with two or three kinds of these infesting sap-suckers differing in size, form and colour. We shall therefore venture to anticipate the appearance of summer rose-buds, and, with them, that of the numerous

[blocks in formation]

descendants which are sure, by that time, to have sprung from the race of aphides now in being-not as these, from the egg, but after the manner of viviparous animals. may seem a strange anomaly, but there are things to tell of aphis economy stranger still.

This

"Now for our blight-disfigured rose-bud, which instead of encasing green and bursting red, displays nothing but a moving multitude-a conglomeration of plant-lice, which taken en masse, is certainly no pleasing object. For all this, the little winged animal which, as being more conspicuous than the bulk of his fellows, we shall first single from among them, is no inelegant specimen of nature's Lilliputian workmanship. It has a plump shining body of deep bright green, spotted at the sides with black; long slender legs, inclining to reddish, and, like a bamboo reed, marked at every joint with black or darkest brown. The shoulders, head, and long-jointed antennæ are also chiefly black, as well as two diverging spikelets proceeding from the back; while a pair of ample wings, much longer than the body, rise exactly over it.

"This pretty insect, and those which resemble it, look like the aristocracy of the wingless multitude by which they are surrounded; and though we cannot pronounce their pinions to be borne as badges of rank, we believe that no reason has, as yet, been assigned with certainty for the partial distribution among aphis tribes of the organs of flight, which do not, with them, as with other insects, serve as a distinction either of age or sex. A cause, indeed, which if true, is most curious and interesting, has been assigned for this difference of endowment among the aphides. It has been supposed to depend on the quality and quantity of nourishment within their reach; those which in this respect are well provided on a juicy luxuriant shoot, being wingless; while those on a dry and sapless branch are gifted with pinions to waft them in search of better provender. Supposing this idea to be correct, we have herein another striking instance, added to the many, of providing care in that Power which careth for all, and adapts for all the means to the exigence.

"If we examine, now, the wingless multitude-the canaille of our rose-bud-we shall find that the individuals which

comprise it have shorter legs and flatter bodies than their winged superiors, and that they differ exceedingly in size from one another. For the most part their colour is a light green, though some are of a pale red; but however else they differ, all, both winged and wingless, are furnished with one remarkable appendage common to the whole aphis tribe, to whatever plant peculiar, from the lordly oak to the lowly briar. This is the transtellum, trunk, or sucking-pipe, appended beak-like to the head, and which, consisting of a tube both pointed and perforated, serves the double purpose of piercing the leaf and sucking its juices.

"The pipes of these our little ravagers of the rose, are but as beaklets compared with those of their brethren of the oak, yet they form, we can tell you, no despicable instruments of destruction employed as they are by thousands in simultaneous and incessant labour. And this considered, who can wonder at the marvellous and unsightly changes, the spoil and havoc, which these peaceful armies carry in their wake. The leaf, whose surface, when they take it in possession, resembles a smooth, green plain, or, divided by intersecting veins, a country of verdant fields, is presently warped and converted into barren hills and arid dales by the extraction of its fertilising sap: while the tender bud and vigorous shoot, though differently are equally distorted and desiccated by their operations.

"For the most part, these insect maurauders, living to eat and to be eaten, seem to have no other business, no thought or care, except on the matter of supplies, and take no trouble to conceal their ranks from the observation of their numerous enemies, or even to shelter themselves from the stormy wind and rain which sweep them off by millions.

"But to this general rule there are numerous exceptions, and a familiar instance of their defensive works is to be met with on every aphis-blighted currant bush. Take one of these leaves which are so often seen bloated by raised blister spots of brownish red, examine their answering concavities beneath, and within their snug recesses you will intrude on as many social groups of aphides, using their pipes in each separate divan.

"Some other species, common on poplar, lime, &c., are

« ÎnapoiContinuați »