صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

how desolate and melancholy must be the general aspect of the shores of this immense island. A feature, too, to be added to the unfortunate landscape, is this, that in the interior there prevails, at the same time, a wide-spread want of water; and often, where rivulets and ponds (called, by courtesy, rivers and lakes) have recently existed, so as even to have received names from the earlier settlers, the names only, and not the waters, at present, from some undiscovered cause, continue *!!”

“Oh, what a country,” cried Mrs. Paulett, “ for any body to go to! I often think so, upon account of the poor Mowbrays, and their fine children !"

“This is no description of the whole of the country,” replied her husband; “ and in parts, as has appeared, even from our author, there is no want of beauty, nor of forests, rivers, hills, and mountains. In Van Diemen's Land, especially, there is no sort of deficiency of beauties for the eye. But, besides that I wish these young people to understand how much they have to be grateful for, in having been born in any cultivated and civilized country, and especially in their own; I dwell upon the particular which is characteristic and melancholy in all these countries, whether upon their hills or in their dales, in their woods or in their open grounds; namely, their silence; and this, especially, from their deficiency in singing-birds.”

“What! no larks nor nightingales,” cried Richard; “nor goldfinches, nor linnets, nor Robin-red-breasts ?”

“These islands of the Southern Hemisphere,” answered his papa,“ have nothing—not the least example-either animal or vegetable, exactly similar to what we witness in the Northern; or, at least, without such exceptions as are easily accounted for, and which

* See Breton's Excursions in New South Wales, &c. &c.

prove the rule* ; but, as to singing or song-birds, not only they have none of ours, but also, they are without any of their own!"

“ From all that we have read,” subjoined Mr. Paulett," it seems a strange country, this New Holland! Placed at the other end of the globe, and scarcely risen above the ocean, its rivers run inland, instead of into the sea; its lakes are no more than swamps during the rainy season, and sands during the dry; its rivers are either failing at their sources, or else drowning all their banks; its natives are described as of the lowest stage of humanity; its birds and beasts are few, and, for the most part, of the most extraordinary forms; some of its fishes poison those who eat them; it has insects that are as abundant as they are detestable, and as detestable as they are abundant; and, as to its fruits and flowers, what can we say in their favour, whether for number, or for beauty, or for sweetness? Other new countries beautify our own with treasures without number; but for what new beauties, or new sweetnesses, are we indebted to New Holland? Look at the heaths, and aloes, and geraniums, and so many other ornaments of our greenhouses and conservatories, from the Cape of Good Hope; at the dahlias, the sumachs, the Virginia creepers, that make our gardens gorgeous, from America; look at the roses from India and Persia, and at the thirty-six varieties of jasmine which we derive from the same countries ;—but what have we to boast of from New Holland ?”

“Pardon me, my dearest,” answered her husband;

• This is a question upon which the aathor of these pages has long since offered notices to the scientific world ; and upon which circumstances alone bave hitherto delayed the appearance of his fuller observations.

“ but you omit all the exceptions that may be made in favour of poor New Holland, which, after all, has a certain number of valuable gifts in each of these kinds, even as already discovered ; and you are to remember, too, that as to much the larger part of its surface, it is still wholly unexplored. If now, too, we know enough of it to risk the assertion, that all its beauties, in plants and animals, are comparatively few, still they are not nothing. It must be confessed to you, in the meantime, that the quadrupeds of New Holland make but a scanty and meagre show; and that instead of the beautiful, the noble, the graceful, and even the pictu. resque proportions, magnitudes, ornaments, and colours, of our elks, our deer, and antelopes, our oxen, horses, and sheep, our camels and our asses (for I will not leave the shaggy donkey out of the catalogue); to say nothing of the elephant, the zebra, the rhinoceros and hippopotamus, which adorn and dignify our Northern Hemisphere; we find no quadruped, in New Holland, larger or more beautiful than the limping

echnidas, and ornithorynchuses. Even its beasts of prey are small, and, as it were, contemptible. It has neither bear, nor wolf, nor fox; and much less the kingly lion, the glorious tiger, the beautiful leopard, or alike beautiful panther; though some of our emigrants have carried out fox-bounds, to where there is no chase but for cangaroo-dogs; and though the charming poet of the “ Pleasures of Hope,” in a later production of his muse, has pictured “panthers” as now lapping at the river sides of New Holland; an event which, even in the future, can never happen till some panther, carried in our ships to the coast of New Holland, shall afterward slip the cage of its showman, or the den of some Zoological Garden, to be established

(and perhaps shortly!) beneath the stars of the Antarctic Pole."

Mr. Paulett was uttering the last syllables of his instructive speech, when, enlivened, I suppose, by the tones of his voice, and the store of new ideas which I was collecting from all I heard, I, the Robin-redbreast, who am here reporting it to the reader;-1, once again, sung out the sugary cadence that had opened the conversation, but that now, to my real regret, brought it to a sudden close! To find that there was a part of the world in which, at least as Mr. Paulett pretended, there are no such things as Robin-red-breasts, was an occurrence so startling to my fancy, that I involuntarily hopped a little from twig to twig, and ejaculated a few hasty notes, either incredulous of the unexpected history; or shocked, liked Mrs. Paulett, at the notion of so strange a country; or inwardly rejoicing that I was far away from it! But the effect of my vivacity was very different from any thing that I either designed or wished: Richard, with all his philosophy, did not refrain from rising off his chair, and calling out, a little loudly; “ There is Robin again! there is Robin!” and Emily, though anxious, upon this occasion, to appear more discreet than her brother, as well as more attentive to their mamma's advice, still permitted herself to be drawn, a step or two, toward the nearest window. Mr. and Mrs. Paulett recollected that breakfast had been for some time finished ; Mr. Paulett had business; Mrs. Paulett had orders for the servants; and the children had lessons that could not wait. Every one arose, and I, too, took to my wings. The family left the breakfast-parlour; and. I, for my part, flew into the adjacent grove..


What cannot arts and industry perform ?


The following day, at the same hour, was as bright as that which had preceded it; and I was again sunning myself about the maple-tree, and indulging in the freshness of the morning air, when the family at Burton Cottage assembled at their breakfast. My little song was again heard; and such are the links by which ideas are connected with each other, and so easily do outward things enkindle inward, that there seemed to want but this, in order that the whole party should resume its yesterday's reflections upon singing-birds; upon Robin-red-breasts; and upon New Holland, which is without the whole!

“ You allowed, however, my dear,” said Mrs. Paulett, “ that New Holland is really a singular corner of the globe, with many blemishes, and many imperfections; at least comparatively so, and as taking all the remainder of the earth into the account?

“ Oh! doubtless," answered her husband, “ the whole of that is true; but let us sum up, on the other side, a part of those things which may either soften our sentence upon it for the present, or encourage our hopes for it, as to the future. New Holland has really every aspect of being comparatively a new country; a country newly raised in the comparison with more

« السابقةمتابعة »