Every-Day Book
vol II date    /    index  


August 11.

Sts. Tiburtius and Chromatius, A. D. 286. St. Susanna, 3rd Cent. St. Gery, or Gaugericus, Bp. A. D. 619. St. Equitius, A. D. 540.

The dog-days end on this day. This period in the year 1825, was remarkable for longer absence of rain and greater heat than usual. It was further remarkable for numerous conflagrations, especially in the metropolis and its environs.


Dr. Forster in his Perennial Calendar, observes, that the gentle refreshing breezes by day, and the delicious calms by night, at this time of year, draw a vast concourse of persons of leisure to the shores of Great Britain and France in the months of August and September. There is perhaps no period of the year when the seaside is more agreeable. Bathing, sailing, and other marine recreations, are at no time better suited to beguile the hours of the warm summer day than at present; and the peculiar stillness of a seaside evening scene, by moonlight, is now to be enjoyed in perfection, as Cynthia begins to ascend higher in her car after the termination of the nightless summer solstice, and when the unremitted heat of the dog-days at length gives place to the more refreshing dews of a longer period of nocturnal coolness. The peculiar beauties of a sea-scene by night are thus described by a cotemporary [sic] poet:—

The sky was clear and the breeze was still,
  The air was soft and the night was fine,
And all was hush save the tinkling rill,
  While the moonbeams played on the sparkling brine;
Scylla had pulled off her glacous vest,
  No longer responsive to whirlwinds' roar,
But in white flowing silvery mantle drest,
  With silken shoons danced along the shore.

But the imagery of a calm sea is more poetically described by Milton, perhaps, than by any other author when he tells us:—

That not a blast was from his dungeon strayed,
The air was calm, and on the level brine
Sleek Panope with all her sisters played.

The swift, hirundo apus, is missed, says Dr. Forster, in its usual haunts about this time. The great body of these birds migrate at once, so that we are struck with their absence about the old steeples of churches and other edifices which they usually inhabit, and from whence they sally forth on rapid wings each morning and evening in search of food, wheeling round and round, and uttering a very loud piercing and peculiar cry, wherefore they are called squeakers. For the last month past, these birds may have been seen flying in lofty gyrations in the air, and seemingly exercising their wings and preparing for their aërial voyage. It is not precisely ascertained to what countries they go when they leave Europe.

Insects, says Dr. Forster, still continue to swarm and to sport in the sun from flower to flower. It is very amusing to observe, in the bright sun of an August morning, the animation and delight of some of the lepidopterous insects. That beautiful little blue butterfly, papilio argus, is then all life and activity, flitting from flower to flower in the grass with remarkable vivacity: there seems to be a constant rivalship and contention between this beauty, and the not less elegant little beau, papilio phlæas. Frequenting the same station, attached to the same head of clover, or of harebell, whenever they approach, mutual animosity seems to possess them; and darting on each other with courageous rapidity, they buffet and contend until one is driven from the field, or to a considerable distance from his station, perhaps many hundred yards, when the victor returns to his post in triumph; and this contention is renewed, as long as the brilliancy of the sun animates their courage. When the beautiful evening of this season arrives, we again see the bat:—

The bat begins with giddy wing
  His circuit round the shed and tree;
And clouds of dancing gnats to sing
  A summer night's serenity.


China Aster. Aster Chinensis.
Dedicated to St. Susanna.