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morning (and a great many of which I think you will remember, if it is only from their relation to songbirds, and to our Robin-red-breast in particular), may serve to impress upon your minds two solemn and even practical truths, eminently worthy of a liberal education, because corrective of vulgar prejudices, of narrow estimates, and of idle errors—"
“ Listen, Richard,” said Mrs. Paulett; “ and don't plague poor pussy, Emily, by forcing her bonnet on, while your papa is talking to you!”
“ The first thing," proceeded their papa,“ which I wish to fix in your young memories, belongs to natural history, and the next to human. You have read, in a poem as elegant as it is pious, that all nature is filled with music for the ear of man; and you have also seen, in another poem, of much, but of less unmingled merit, the natural earth described as supereminently beautiful, because
• As yet untouched by any meaner hand,
But, in remarks like these, there is, as you have now heard, exaggeration, inaccuracy, and, as to the latter, even a share of superstition. It is not in “all nature,” that all the charms of nature are always to be found; and it would be untrue if we were to say, that so mean a hand as that of man is any where incapable, or is not continually successful, in giving natural beauty to scenes of nature otherwise very much in want of it; not less than in making the works of nature useful as to human purposes. In truth, nature supplies all the materials, and all the principles, either of utility or beauty; man is the author of none of these, nor has he the power to make even the smallest of them; but
it is the obvious destiny of art, the power and the privilege of man, to seize upon these materials and these principles, and by their means, to perform works, which, instead of being despised,-instead of being spoken of invidiously, in contrast with those of nature
-often dispute the palm of beauty with the works of nature, and always glorify nature, as testifying the powers of the creature which nature has endowed! Looking only to rural objects, and to the surface of the earth, for food, for labour, and for travel ; looking only to the landscape and to the ground-plot; and putting out of view our roads and bridges, and other of the more conspicuous of the field and forest works of man, in how many other particulars does not man assist the face of nature, as well for natural beauty, as for human sustenance and ease? It is most certain that, from space to space, and in particular situations, nature herself collects together a whole profusion of her charms, excludes deformity, gives to man all models, and asks nothing from his aid. She has her woods, her lawns, her slopes, her dells; her peaceful vales and awful summits; her sparkling torrents, her clear streams, her limpid springs; her radiant flowers, and all her many-coloured foliages. But in how many other situations, does not, and cannot the hand of man release nature from a thousand thraldoms which obstruct her labours, and transplant into silent, solitary, and sterile spots, treasures which are nature's own, but yet beyond her local reach? How much that is rugged can he not smooth; how much that is uniform can he not vary; how much that is barren can he not fertilize; how much that is pestilential can he not purify? To how many stagnant waters can he not give motion; and upon how many bleak
the trampling of their hoofs, and are wholly disappeared'; while, in the place of these, the ground has become covered with a fine grass, mixed with a species of creeping thistle, hardy enough to endure what has destroyed its vegetable predecessors! But the vegetable economy of South America being thus altered, that of the insect world, subsisting upon the vegetable, was to be expected to alter too; an event which has actually happened: while, along with the changes in the insects and the plants, and the direct presence of the horses, the very birds, and the beasts of prey, have acquired new habits! There is no saying, therefore, what changes may hereafter make their appearance in such a country as New Holland, effected, directly or indirectly, by the hand of man; changes in its soils, its temperatures, its seasons, and its plants and animals; and consequent, one way and the other, upon human culture, commerce, arts, and civilization. Already the wild cangaroo of the Southern Hemisphere, is seen hopping and grazing in the same pastures with the horse, and ox, and sheep, of the Northern side of the equator, carried thither by the hand of man; and the various effects of whose presence upon the Southern soil, as to its composition, its pressure under their feet, its dressing from their manure, its growth from their bite, or its gain in plants, insects, reptiles, birds, quadrupeds, and even, perhaps, in fishes, remains to be discovered through the succession of ages! As to singing-birds, in the meantime, and as to small birds in general, or at least as to many of their species, it is a circumstance worthy of remark, that in every country, even where they are native, their multiplication and frequent appearance is often accompaniment of man; and of man in a civilized state; or, in other words, that their frequency and multiplication, often require, for their production, the presence and the civilization of mankind* ; truths of a nature not to be disputed as to numerous quadrupeds as well; as horses, oxen, sheep, dogs, cats; and the broods, as wild or as unprotected as those of birds,-namely, rats and mice. In a certain sense, therefore, these creatures are parasitical animals; they are the companions of man, and his dependents for food and life. The small birds, that feed upon grain and seeds, are but little seen at considerable distances from our farmsteads and our houses; so, that I have ground for every hope for New Holland, even to its population with singing-birds; and not the least of my anticipations in its regard, is its future covering with a civilization wholly English, at least as far as the differences of situation and circumstances can be expected to breed up a people really similar. Its name of New Holland, in the meantime, is without appropriate meaning; and I could wish to see it denominated, by English authority, South Britain !
“The absence of singing-birds, in pathless forests, and uncultivated countries, has been remarked, not in New Holland alone, but in America and elsewhere. In almost all regions, the solitary forests and plains are silent, and only the gardens, and the fields, and farm
* It is often a matter for reflection, and a visible sign of man's dominion upon the earth, to see the conspicuousness of the works of man in the general landscape, and the importance of their bearing, even in the midst of the proudest works of nature. Anacreon justly insists upon the works of men, as features of a beautiful prospect; and Shakspeare, even in supposing the destruction of the “great globe,” remembers, not alone, nor even first, the seas and mountains, but
“ The cloud-capt towers, the gorgeous palaces,
yards, musical and loquacious : ‘Every leaf was at rest,' says the poet, travelling in North America,
- and I heard not a sound, Save the woodpecker tapping the hollow beech-tree.' And to the same general cause to which we are here referring, may be ascribed, perhaps, much of that deficiency of song-birds which is usually reported of tropical (that is, to Europeans, new and uncultivated) countries. Goldsmith gives to the Torrid Zone,
“ Those matted woods, where birds forget to sing.” That, in New Holland, there may, at the same time, be few or no native species of singing-bird, is a real probability, considering the entire singularity of all its zoological characteristics.
“ But this,” added Mr. Paulett, “ is the human history in our debate; and that part of our survey of nature which is connected with civilization in general, and with the relative conditions of the different coun. tries of the globe, out of which, at another time, we may draw our second lesson. At present,” concluded be, “let us only make it our remark, that since man is obviously destined, not to live in the single society of his own species, but in the midst of a group also of various animals, and these animals to live with man; it follows that both have been destined likewise, to live together harmoniously, kindly, and with love. Domestic strife, or coldness, or inhospitality, can be no part of the law of nature; and I even think it obvious, that there exists the very opposite law, a law as certain in natural morals, as the law of attraction in physics, which makes all these living things take pleasure in each other's society; makes them sympathise with each other; draws them toge
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