صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

my fell sick; and now, indeed, he lost all his energy and power of entertaining. His feathers ruffled, his head drooped, his wings hung, and his eyes grew dim. Every one suffered with poor Tommy, and there were as many messages to inquire how he did, as if it were indeed some dear friend. A humane and skilful surgeon, who was intimate in the house, and who regarded Tommy with unbounded admiration, did not disdain to visit him several times a day, and contrived to administer medicine in homœopathic doses. But all would not do; the sympathy of attached friends and the skill of human science were alike unavailing. Tommy was wrapped in cotton and placed near the genial warmth of a moderate fire; yet still he languished, and took but little notice of those around him. His young friend, for whom he used to sing his sweet "good night," approached him with her candle; he lifted his little head, and as the dying swan is said to sing, he attempted to warble his last "good night." She burst into tears and retired. In the morning Tommy was dead!

[blocks in formation]

[Few readers need be told of the extent and variety of Mr. Irving's claims to the gratitude and admiration of his countrymen. He has long been the most popular of our authors; and this popularity has been fairly earned by his natural pathos, his rich humor, his graceful narrative, the flowing sweetness of his style, and the careful music of his periods. He awakens, even in those who have never seen him, a sort of personal interest, from the cordial tone of his writings, and the amiable spirit which they breathe.

Mr. Irving was born in the city of New York, in the year 1783, and has lived for many years on the Hudson River, about twenty-five miles from New York. The following extract is taken from "Wolfert's Roost," one of his late publications, consisting of narratives, essays, and sketches, most of which originally appeared in the Knicker bocker Magazine.]

THE happiest bird of our spring, however, and one that rivals the European lark in my estimation, is the boblincon, or boblink, as he is commonly called. He arrives at that choice portion of our year which, in this latitude, answers to the descrip

[ocr errors]

tion of the month of May so often given by the poets. With us it begins about the middle of May, and lasts until nearly the middle of June. Earlier than this, winter is apt to return on its traces, and to blight the opening beauties of the year; and later than this, begin the parching, and panting, and dissolving heats of summer. But in this genial interval Nature is in all her freshness and fragrance: "the rains are over and gone, the flowers appear upon the earth, the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in the land."

The trees are now in their fullest foliage and brightest verlure; the woods are gay with the clustered flowers of the laurel; the air is perfumed by the sweetbrier and the wild rose; the meadows are enamelled with clover blossoms; while the young apple, the peach, and the plum begin to swell, and the cherry to glow among the green leaves. This is the chosen season of revelry of the boblink. He comes amidst the pomp and fragrance of the season; his life seems all sensibility and enjoyment, all song and sunshine. He is to be found in the soft bosoms of the freshest and sweetest meadows, and is most in song when the clover is in blossom. He perches on the topmost twig of a tree, or on some long, flaunting weed, and as he rises and sinks with the breeze, pours forth a succession of rich, tinkling notes, crowding one upon another, like the outpouring melody of the sky-lark, and possessing the same rapturous character.

Sometimes he pitches from the summit of a tree, begins his song as soon as he gets upon the wing, and flutters tremu. lously down to the earth, as if overcome with ecstasy at his own music. Sometimes he is in pursuit of his mate; always in full song, as if he would win her by his melody; and always with the same appearance of intoxication and delight. Of all the birds of our groves and meadows the boblink was the envy of my boyhood. He crossed my path in the sweetest weather, and the sweetest season of the year, when all nature called to the fields, and the rural feeling throbbed in every bosom; but when I, luckless urchin! was doomed to be mewed

[ocr errors]

up, during the livelong day, in a school room. It seemed as if the little varlet mocked at me as he flew by in full song, and sought to taunt me with his happier lot. O, how I envied him! No lessons, no task, no school; nothing but holiday, frolic, green fields, and fine weather. Had I been then more versed in poetry I might have addressed him in the words of Logan to the cuckoo:

"Sweet bird, thy bower is ever green,

Thy sky is ever clear;

Thou hast no sorrow in thy song,

No winter in thy year.

"O, could I fly, I'd fly with thee;
We'd make, on joyful wing,
Our annual visit round the globe,
Companions of the spring."

Further observation and experience have given me a different idea of this feathered voluptuary, which I will venture to impart, for the benefit of my young readers who may regard him with the same unqualified envy and admiration which I once indulged. I have shown him only as I saw him at first, in what I may call the poetical part of his career, when he in a manner devoted himself to elegant pursuits and enjoyments, and was a bird of music, and song, and taste, and sensibility, and refinement. While this lasted he was sacred from injury; the very schoolboy would not fling a stone at him, and the merest rustic would pause to listen to his strain.

But mark the difference. As the year advances, as the clover blossoms disappear, and the spring fades into summer, he gradually gives up his elegant tastes and habits, doffs his poetical suit of black, assumes a russet, dusty garb, and sinks to the gross enjoyments of common, vulgar birds. His notes no longer vibrate on the ear; he is stuffing himself with the seeds. of the tall weeds on which he lately swung and chanted so melodiously. He has become a "bon vivant," a gour. mand;" with him now there is nothing like the "joys of the table." In a little while he grows tired of plain, homely


rare, and is off on a gastronomical tour in quest of foreign luxuries.

We next hear of him, with myriads of his kind, banqueting among the reeds of the Delaware, and grown corpulent with good feeding. He has changed his name in travelling. Boblincon no more—he is the reed-bird now, the much-sought-for titbit of Pennsylvania epicures, the rival in unlucky fame of the ortolan! Wherever he goes, pop! pop! pop! every rusty firelock in the country is blazing away. He sees his companions falling by thousands around him. Does he take warning and reform? Alas! not he. Incorrigible epicure! again he wings his flight. The rice swamps of the south invite him. He gorges himself among them almost to bursting; he can scarcely fly for corpulency. He has once more changed his name, and is now the famous rice-bird of the Carolinas. Last stage of his career: behold him spitted, with dozens of his corpulent companions, and served up, a vaunted dish, on the table of some southern gastronome.

Such is the story of the boblink—once spiritual, musical, admired, the joy of the meadows, and the favorite bird of spring; finally, a gross little sensualist, who expiates his sensuality in the larder. His story contains a moral worthy the attention of all little birds and little boys; warning them to keep to those refined and intellectual pursuits which raised him to so high a pitch of popularity during the early part of his career, but to eschew all tendency to that gross and dissipated indulgence which brought this mistaken little bird to an untimely end.



ALEXANDER WILSON was born in Paisley, Scotland, in 1766, removed to this country in 1794, and died in 1813. His original employment was that of a weaver, but he had a strong taste for intellectual pursuits, and was employed as a teacher of youth for some years after his arrival in America, and subsequently as assistant editor to the American edition of Rees's Cyclopædia. While in Scotland he had published some poems, which attracted but little attention, and would have been entirely forgotten but for his subsequently-acquired scientific reputation. Soon after his arrival in this country he became acquainted with Mr. Bartram, the botanist, and Mr. Lawson, the engraver. In taking from the latter lessons in drawing, he discovered a natural aptitude for the delineation of birds; in consequence of which he turned his attention to ornithology, and resolved to undertake an extensive work on the subject. To collect materials and obtain subscribers, he made extensive tours through all parts of the country, at a period when travelling, before the days of steamboats and railroads, was attended with severe toil and frequent exposure. The first volume of his American Ornithology was published in September, 1808, and was much and deservedly admired for the brilliant execution of the plates and the admirable letter-press descriptions. Six additional volumes were published before Wilson's death, and two more volumes were completed and published by his friend, Mr. George Ord, in 1814.

Wilson was a man of enthusiastic temperament and poetical feeling. His descriptions of birds are not only technically accurate, but graphic, spirited, and glowing, and his work thus has a vivid charm for the general reader as well as the naturalist. He was a lover of nature, and he writes with all a lover's animation and interest. His character was simple, truthful, and manly, and his disposition was social and affectionate.]

THE plumage of the mocking bird, though none of the homeliest, has nothing gaudy or brilliant in it, and had he nothing else to recommend him, would scarcely entitle him to notice; but his figure is well proportioned, and even handsome. The ease, elegance, and rapidity of his movements, the animation of his eye, and the intelligence he displays in listening, and laying up lessons from almost every species of the feathered creation within his hearing, are really surprising, and mark the peculiarity of his genius. To these quali ties we may add that of a voice full, strong, and musical, and capable of almost every modulation, from the clear, mellow tones of the wood thrush to the savage screams of the bald eagle.

In measure and accent he faithfully follows his originals. In force and sweetness of expression he greatly improves upon them. In his native groves, mounted upon the top of a

« السابقةمتابعة »