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already laid. We do not, however, meddle with them; for the white-throat is almost as jealous as the wren of any interference in her little household : lift one of her eggs, or disturb a single straw in her nest, and she deserts it for ever.
We now pass through a fir-plantation, and soon perceive a globular nest, hung like a hammock under the fan-like extremity of a pine-branch. It is a golden-crested wren's, the tiniest and liveliest inhabitant of our English woods. This funny little fairy of a bird builds a comparatively large nest, which is one mass of wool, moss, and lichens interwoven with hair, and lined with the softest feathers. The cavity in the centre is scarce two inches across, and three in depth; yet in this confined space the parent birds often bring up a brood of from six to nine young ones.
In the same plantation, high up among the branches, we find the nest of a wood-pigeon. Two large eggs of a pure white colour lie upon the loose platform of twigs; and as, in climbing the tree to get a view of it, we have seriously disturbed the frail structure, so that the bird will certainly desert it, we may as well take the eggs with us as leave them to be blown down by the first high wind. They are larger than those of the common pigeon; being an inch and a half in length, and about one inch broad. Our
young friends who have accompanied us thus far are now, perhaps, fairly tired : so we will rest here on the stile, and puncturing each egg we have collected, carefully blow out the contents. Two apertures should be made, one a little larger than the other, and both on the same side, at some distance from the extremities of the egg, so that, in mounting it on card for the cabinet, the punctured side may be hidden by being turned downwards. This done, we return our treasures to the safe keeping of the box of bran, turn our steps homewards, and bid farewell with three parting admonitions, the golden rules of the humane ornithologist :“Never take all the eggs from a nest. Never take any from a nest whose full number is completed. Never interfere in any way with a young brood.” St. Mary's, Colchester.
THE REPORTERS' GALLERY. We will suppose that for this time only the doorkeeper has relaxed his usual vigilance, and you have managed to effect an entrance. There is as much difficulty in getting a stranger into the Reporters Gallery as in getting Baron Rothschild into the House. As the gallery will not hold more than thirty, it is quite right this should be the case. On the back seats the reporters are sitting idle ; some criticising the speakers in a manner anything but complimentary, some sleeping, some reading a Quarterly: but on the front seat you see some dozen or thirteen, each in a little box to himself, busily engaged. If the speaker be a great gun, the reporter puts forward his utmost energies, and takes down every word : if he be one of the illustrious obscure, the task is less difficult, and a patient public is saved the painful duty of reading the ipsissima cerba of Smith or Brown. Beside the reporter sits another gentleman, who has, comparatively speaking, an easier office to perform. He is the gentleman that does the Parliamentary summary, to which you instinctively turn, instead of wading through the eight or nine columns that give the debate itself. With the exception of the “Morning Advertiser,” all the papers, I believe, have a summarywriter in the gallery, who remains all night, while the reporters take their turns, which last, on an average, half an hour. Thus, no sooner has a reporter been at his post for that time, than he leaves the House, and rushes up to the office to copy out his notes: this may take him an hour. He then returns, and is ready to go on again when he is due. It would be utterly impossible for one man to report a debate, and then to copy out his notes, and be in time for the paper of the next morning: consequently each paper is compelled to have a body of nine or ten Parliamentary reporters; and these reporters, in order that they may have an equal chance, vary their turns every week. Thus the man who goes on one week at four, goes the next at a later hour; and the reporter who is one week in the Commons, perhaps the next has the honour of sitting in the VOL. XVIII. Second Series.
House of Lords. Otherwise the hard work might fall to a few, and the rest might take it very easy indeed.
As we do not happen to be reporting, we will look about us a little. On our left are the reporters belonging to the “Daily News" and the “Morning Advertiser.” The three boxes in the middle belong to the “Times,” in one of which sits Mr. Dodd, author of the “ Parliamentary Companion," manager of the reporting corps of the “Times,"--manager, under Lord Charles Russell, Sergeant-at-Arms, of the Reporters' Gallery itself. A curious anecdote is told of one of the gentlemen in the boxes belonging to the “Times.” During the recent debate on India, some M.P. referred to a book recently published in defence of the East India Company as the work of a literary hack, much to the amusement of the literary hack, who, at that time, was writing the summary for the “Times.” On the other side of the “ Times” reporters are those belonging to the “Herald” and “Post.” A few of the weekly papers have reporters in on Thursday and Friday nights; and these constitute the only habitués of the gallery. Of course the aspect of the House is different from what it is when viewed from the Strangers' Gallery. You miss the Speaker and his ornamented chair and majestic wig; but you have a better view of the gangway and the bar; you see the Sergeant-at-Arms, wearing a sword, seated on his easy chair, that chair being made easy by the receipt of twelve hundred a year. You see the gallery under the Strangers' Gallery, in which Peers, and Members' sons, and old M.P.'s, occasionally sit: and now and then, through the glass-door by which members enter, you see a bonnet, a bit of muslin, the lustre of some female eye, denoting that woman, in her loveliness, is taking note of the Conscript Fathers. This reminds us that the Reporters' Gallery is just under the little cage in which the British fair are confined during a debate. The consequence is, to some of the reporters who wear moustaches, a Barmecide feast of the most cruel kind. They hear the murmur of female voices, not always “gentle and low;" they know that, shining like stars above them, are eyes more eloquent than the tongues below; but they cannot re
alise what they can imagine, and whilst music comes to them
* Like ocean which upon the moonlight shores
Of lone Sigæam steals with murmuring noise,”
they must take down the common sense of common men: such is their cruel fate. And now one word about our companions. Most of them are young men; some are in their prime. None of them are old: old reporters are only met with where dead donkeys and departed postboys are common. At any rate they are not engaged on the morning papers. The late hours, the hard stretch of mind and body required in a reporter, do not exactly suit old men. If you think reporting easy, my good Sir, you are mistaken. It takes you two or three years to master short-hand sufficiently to take your place as a reporter in the gallery. When you have done that, you will find that you do not get your money for nothing, I can assure you. You must for half an hour take down all you can hear. You must then copy that out into long-hand and plain English as best you can. You must then come back into the House, and take another turn; and so on till the House is up; and then, worn and weary, you must again trudge to the office, and there indite the copy, which, before the ink with which it is written is dry, is in the composingroom and in type. As this may detain you till four o'clock in the morning, you are then at liberty to retire to your bed, if it suit you; or to the flowers and early purl of Covent Garden, if it be summer-time, and you are of a sentimental turn. Now, occasionally it is all very well to sit up till three or four in the morning. London then isinvested with a grandeur and stillness very impressive. The air is fresh and pure, bearing with it the odours of the country; the grand cathedral of St. Paul looms proudly before you ; the streets seem broader, longer, than usual, and far off we catch glimpses of Hampstead or of the Surrey hills. But when you have to see this, not once, but every morning, the case is altered, the spell is broken, and the charm is gone; and such a life must tell, sooner or later,
upon the constitution. Reporters are not rosy.jolly men : they do not look like Barry Cornwall's happy squires,
li With brains made clear
By the irresistible strength of beer.” Most of them live well, and are protected against the inclemencies of the weather. The reporters of the “ Daily News” and “ Times" come down in cabs; but they appear delicate hothouse plants; though, after all, they do not look worse than a popular M.P., such as Lord Dudley Stuart or Mr. Milner Gibson, at the end of a session. As a class, we have already hinted the reporters are intellectual men. Among them are many who have embraced literature as the noblest of all professions, and have as sacredly devoted themselves to it as, in old times, priests did to the service of their gods. You can tell these by their youthful flush and lofty foreheads. A time may come when the world may seduce them from the service, when all generous aspirations may fade away, when crushing selfishness shall make them common as other men. Then there are others to whom reporting is a mere mechanical calling, and nothing else; who do their week's work and take their week's wages, and are satisfied. But most of the Parliamentary reporters are clever men, and all aspire to that character. The mistake is one a little self-love will easily induce a man to make. Men of infinite wit and spirit have been in the gallery : therefore, the men in the gallery now are men of infinite wit and spirit. A gorgeous superiority over other men is thus tacitly assumed. You will hear of such a one, that he was a reporter on the “ Times," and he was not clever enough for that, and so they made him an M.P. But, after all, no man of great genius will report long, if he can help it. Reporting is terrible drudgery. A man who can write his thoughts well will not willingly spend his time in copying out the thoughts of others. Dickens was a reporter for the “Morning Chronicle ;” but he, though his talent in that way was great, though he could perform almost unparalleled feats as a reporter, soon left the gallery. At one time Angus Reach was in the gallery. There, night after night, may you still