Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

more, when the mind is on its nobler movements, bounding and beaming onward “ from mortal to immortal ken” in the glorious course of thought, more fleet than any ship that ever stemmed the main, or any wing that ever cleft the air. Who would stop it for mere details? The attempt were vain, as that to charm down the sun from the firmament, or fetter the careering earth with a cobweb.” p. 30.

Accordingly we are in this volume presented, first, with a general view of the structure of birds, and the characteristics whereby they may be distinguished from other vertebral animals, (Chap. i. to v.) and next with a minute account of the peculiarities exhibited by the three grand structures, the bills, the feet, and the wings. (Chap. v. to viii.). The habits of all animals are, we know, dependent on their general organization; and on the same principle that the teeth, the jaws, and feet of carnivorous differ from those of herbivorous animals, the bills and feet of birds indicate distinctly their general habits. Hence, a knowledge of their external characters is essentially necessary to every ornithologist; therefore we conscientiously recommend this little volume to every student entering upon this fascinating branch of natural history. It contains the substance of numerous articles on the history of birds, which have already appeared in Orr's excellent British Cyclopædia, illustrated by a variety of accurate and well-executed diagrams and wood-cuts.

The physiological portion of the work seems to us less perfect than the descriptive, for the descriptions of Mr. Mudie are always literal transcripts of the reality; in truth, original observers are very apt to devise theories of their own, for explaining the facts which come under their attention, and many

of these are often very apochryphal. Hence Mr. Mudie has hazarded an hypothesis concerning the respiration and the circulation of birds, which, however ingenious, cannot, we apprehend, be established. He supposes that the " action of the air on the blood of birds is rendered equal to the rapidity of the circulation, and consequent necessity of vital repair,” by the blood being aerated or oxygenized

the air which permeates the bones and cellular tissue of the body. Hereby he insers, that“ the painful fatigue of ever-panting lungs is obviated, so that the real action of breathing in birds is not concentrated into one organ to be toiling and panting there as it would be in the lungs of the mammalia, but distributed over the whole circulation, and consequently diminished in local intensity in proportion as it is diffused through the frame," (pp. 78, 79, et seq.) Now, in reply to this, it may be observed, that from all we at present know, there is no reason to presume that there is any relation whatever between the quantity of air diffused through the body of a bird and the arterialization of the blood. The quantity of air so diffused through the bones and cellular tissue, bears a constant relation with the locomotive power or rapidity of flight which different species of birds command. The bones of the No. 100.

X

condor, eagle, hawk, &c., are so constructed. We have examined the skeleton of the eagle, and found, as Macartney and other naturalists have described, the humerus, clavicle, scapula, sternum, vertebræ, femur, hollowed for the admission of air which is obviously in accordance with their powers of flight. In gallinaceous birds, however, the humerus is the only bone into which air is introduced. In the owl, again, the femur is filled with marrow, while in birds that run and command much power of the leg, as the ostrich, the femur is hollow and filled with air. True it is that muscular power and activity always demand a high degree of oxygenation of the blood, in order that the muscular fibre shall receive a necessary and corresponding stimulus, but it by no means follows that this increase in the intensity of the function cannot be adequately effected by the lungs. It is well enough understood that the blood having been distributed from the left side of the heart to the extremities of the body loses its nutritient and stimulating qualities, and is in that state returned to the right side of the heart. Here it arrives unfit for renewed circulation; therefore, in order that its healthful qualities shall be restored, it is propelled into the lungs, where coming into contact, through the very thin parietes of the vessels, with the air which during inspiration is admitted into the air-tubes and cells of that organ, it receives a fresh supply of oxygen, and is rendered again fit for circulation through the body. According to this viewwhich, since the days of Harvey, has been admitted, with the exception of a very few heretical authorities, among whom is Dr. Ker, of Aberdeen, who not very long ago published a memoir denying the Harveian doctrines—the office of oxygenating the blood is concentrated in the lungs of all warm-blooded animals. Why, therefore, should we imagine that in birds this fluid is returned from the lungs to the left side of the heart insufficiently arterialized ? and that it requires, therefore, to undergo a further oxygenation in the course of its circulation through the body? The facility with which birds respire; their performing this function without painful fatigue” or “panting," can scarcely be adduced as an evidence in favour of the theory, because, as Macartney has shown, this seems to arise from the shortness and greater capacity of the air-tubes, which directly communicate with the air-cells. The lungs, too, are so constructed as not to admit of any change in their dimensions, being formed of a very compact tissue, and so closely braced to the ribs and chest by a reflected dense membrane (the pleura) as to preclude all motion. The greater rapidity of the circulation of the blood through the system, and the enlarged area of the air-cells of the lungs, in a great measure accounts for the blood of birds being more highly oxygenated than that of mammalia.

What, then, it may be asked, is the use of the air-cells which are so freely distributed under the skin, between the muscles, and through the bones of birds ? They can, in reality, add little to the levity of the body, and must be subservient to some more important purpose in their economy. It certainly must be admitted that, notwithstanding the researches of Nitszch and Tiedemann, the subject is involved in much obscurity. One use, however, of this remarkable provision is very manifest, inasmuch as it obviously enables the bird to transport itself with impunity from the lower into the higher regions of the atmosphere. It is well known that the animal heat bears an increasing proportion with the rapidity of the circulation and respiration, so that the animal heat of birds is higher than that of mammalia. The air, therefore, diffused through their body must be in a rarefied state, and hereby the bird is enabled to ascend into the upper strata of the air without experiencing any inconvenience from the sudden change of atmospheric pressure. If we climb the Andes, or ascend a few hundred feet above the level of the sea, we experience very considerable uneasiness, because the air within the body being denser than the air without, exerts a pressure from within which externally meets with no counterpoise. Were the change effected gradually, we might accustom ourselves to live in a much more rarefied atmosphere than that by which we are now surrounded, because the air within the body would by degrees become of the same density as that without, and, consequently, no such pressure would be exerted. Accordingly, the air which pervades The body of a bird of flight, being rarefied, corresponds with the rarefied state of the air in those higher regions into which it soars; besides which, it is by no means improbable that birds have a command over the quantity of air which enters these air-cells, just as fish have over the air which is contained in their swimming bladder. It must, however, be confessed, that no experiments of any consequence have been made on this curious subject since the days of Camper and Hunter ; and we, therefore, rejoice to observe that investigations have been recently made upon it by M. Jacquemin, who has just submitted his experiments and inferences to the consideration of the Académie Royale des Sciences, the report of which we anticipate with interest. We have ventured to make these observations without any wish whatever to disparage the views of Mr. Mudie : his volume is replete with facts in the highest degree interesting to the naturalist; and when we meet him on the debatable ground of theory, we do so in the spirit of good fellowship, fully assured that he will appreciate any suggestion which appears justified by evidence, for he has walked as an acute observer through the fields, and forests, and among the mountains, and we all know that “Nature never did betray the heart which loved her.”

RATIONALE OF THE SPEECH OF LOO, GOVERNOR OF CANTON,

IN A PRIVATE AUDIENCE WITH LORD NAPIER.'

the

The Chinese may well be termed “a peculiar' people, were it only from the circumstance of their having continued the same peculiarities during two thousand years. No tea-pot, three inches thick, made of their most durable materials, and shelfed in the deepest nook of the mountain of Leushān, could have held out half so well, maintaining its pristine form and substance, as have the living curiosities who inhabit the vast extent of the four hundred districts of the world.' Beau Brummel, who retired from the fashionable court of George the Fourth, in order to carry on a trade in tea-cups, vases, eccentric monsters, and other porcelain valuables, was accustomed to say at the time he flourished, that starch made the man!' It is not improbable, therefore, that in his latter years, when his dreams of by-gone cravats had stood reproachfully on end till the stiff pile gradually changed into a pagoda, rife with all the past vagaries of his motley fancy, that he adopted the Bell-and-Pagod maxim, exclaiming, China is the world--the world China.' Whether he did or not, is of brittle consequence: enough for us barbarians to know, that such is the Chinese opinion. Except a few fishing islands, and wretched rocks a long way off, they acknowledge no such nation as bold Britons.'

The 'Speech of Loo,' during a private audience with our very discreet representative, appeared in the columns of the Morning Chronicle of February 14th. Its degree of authenticity speaks for itself; but certainly there are many points (judging from the actual documents which have appeared) wherein the sentiments and character of the governor of Canton are justly represented; and with the general tone and purpose of the whole, we doubt not but he would entirely coincide. But, as Loo is not present to speak for himself, let us endeavour to take up the question for him, as well as ourselves. The speech thus commences :

• After so many reasonable advices and mandates which have been communicated by and from the proper authorities of the Celestial Empire, it is marvellous that you, Barbarian Eye, should still root yourself in devilish perversity, turning aside the ears of your Eye's mind. What official instructions you may have received from the person called your King, are not known to us; neither is it of the slightest importance that we should know. Our laws, brilliant as the imperial radiations from the august Brother of the Sun and Moon, and terrible to the inmost souls of ten thousand kingdoms, cannot be expected by any equalordered (i. e, not insane) mind, to suffer the slightest breath of influence from the incomprehensible desires and small trading speculations of a people dwelling upon a cold hungry island of wild ducks and fishermen,

* It will be perceived that the first four or five pages of this article were written previous to the announcement of Lord Napier's death.

at a distance of many billions of miles. Whether you be the real unit (i. e. identical) officer, by name Napier, as represented to the Hoppo; or, in fact, the military unit commanding your island, as privately suspected, named Wild-duck, Will-in-town, or Will.go-down, I, the Governor, cannot determine; nor is it of the briefest consequence either way. Moreover, it has been hinted that if not the said Commanding Chief, you are then, in all probability, the brother of your King, and called in your own spot, Cumber-kuke, Cowcumber, or Cumbrous-earth. It does not concern us. But knowing that the actual state of our Celestial belief must be of portentous consequence and awful consideration to you, Barbarian Eye, and all your outside barbarian people, I, the Governor, will, in my feeling clemency, communicate to you my own opinion ; which is, that you are not the Lord or Kid Napier-for so the word “ lord” has been translated and interpreted to me-- - that you represent yourself; nor are you the King's barbarian brother, Cumbersome; but the national commander, or First Cockt-hat of said island.'

Under a despotic government which has lasted so many centuries, it is no wonder that Loo, born and bred in the country, knowing nothing 'worth mentioning beyond it, and being himself a man high in office, should consider such conduct as marvellous!' What should Loo know about the person called • William IV ?' The simple manifestation of his not having the pleasure of our monarch's acquaintance, however cavalier it may seem in the eye of the loyal, does not convey anything insulting. It is a fair position, that Loo knows and cares as much about William IV., as our gracious sovereign about governor Loo.' As to our trade, the Hong merchants may find their interest in it, but the Chinese government cares not three sips of tea about the matter. The shrewd supposition that our national representative is not the barbarian Cumbersome, but the Ducal Dictator, only shows that the fame of his arbitrary self-will has reached even the imperturbable indifference of China. But let us return to the speech of Loo.

'I shall now speak to you, Barbarian Eve, as though you were an equally reasonable man with myself. I, the Governor, lave pity and care for all outside barbarians, and wish not their ruin and destruction so long as they behave themselves properly, or can be brought to do so by reason. The linguists, translators, and interpreters shall not deceive us into a greater or less degree of pity than is just; neither shall their false counsels cause you and all your nation to be driven to the last stage of poverty and despair.'

Can anything be more rational and considerate than this, coming as it does from a celestial to an outside barbarian,' not to mention the compliment with which it is introduced? The next sentence, however, gives us some idea of inside despotism, not quite so consistent with a heavenly nation.

. With regard to about eighteen of said linguists, the laws have already been put in force ; whereby their heads are now in full bloom upon the points of tall spears; and they will deceive no more.'.

« VorigeDoorgaan »