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The Eagle. THE eagle is the strongest, the fiercest, and the most rapacious of the feathered race. He dwells alone in the desert, and on the summits of the highest mountains ; and suffers no bird to come with impunity within the range of his flight. His eye is dark and piercing, his beak and talons are hooked and formidable, and his cry is the terror of every wing. His figure answers to bis nature; independently of his arms, he has a robust and compact body, and very powerful limbs and wings ; his bones are hard, his flesh is firm, his feathers are coarse, his attitude is fierce and erect, his motions are lively, and his flight is extremely rapid. Such is the golden eagle, as described by the most accurate observers of nature. To this noble bird the prophet Ezekiel evidently refers, in his parable to the house of Israel: “ A great eagle, with great wings, long winged, full of feathers which had divers colours, came unto Lebanon, and took the highest branch of the cedar."* In this parable,' a strict regard to physical truth is discovered, in another respect; for the eagle is known to have a predilection for cedars, which

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are the loftiest trees in the forest, and therefore more suited to his daring temper than any other. La Roque found a number of large eagles' feathers, scattered on the ground beneath the lofty cedars which still crown the summits of Lebanon, on the highest branches of which, that fierce destroyer occasionally perches.

The extraordinary length of his wings, and the manner in which he stretches them as he flies, have been celebrated by many ancient writers. Hesiod calls him the bird with extended wings; Pindar asserts, that in the length and extension of his wings, he surpasses all the birds of heaven;* and Homer, with his usual force and beauty, compares the wings of the eagle to the doors of a splendid apartment, closely shut, and skilfully made.

Οστη δε υψοροφοιο θυρα θαλαμοιο τετυκται. . II. 6. 24. 1. 317. On these great and expanded wings, the eagle darts with amazing swiftness and impetuosity through the voids of heaven, especially when in pursuit of his prey. He rushes, says Apuleius, upon the devoted victim, like a flash of lightning; and Cicero avers, that no bird flies with greater vehemence. The Greeks gave him the appropriate name of astos, from a verb which signifies to rush with great impetuosity. This remarkable trait in his character, did not escape the keen observation of Homer : he compares the rapid and furious onset of Achilles, to the violent pursuit of that bird, which he characterizes the strongest and swiftest of the winged tribes.

Αετ8 οιματεχων μελανος, τ8 θηρητηρος

Ος θ' αμα καρτιρος τε και ωκιδος πετεηνων. Il. 6. 21. l. 253. He describes, in nearly the same terms, the career of the amiable and ill-fated Hector: Oιμησεν δε αλεις ως τ' αετός υψιπετηεις. .

II. 6. 22. 1. 308. “ Turning, he rushed upon him like a high soaring eagle, which descends into the plain through the obscure clouds, to seize the tender lamb or trembling hare." Equally striking and beautiful are the allusions in the sacred oracles : 56 The Lord shall bring a nation against thee," said Moses to his people, " from the end of the

* Hes, Theog. b. 523. Pindar. Pyth. 5.

earth, as swift as the eagle flieth."* In the affecting lamentation of David over Saul and Jonathan, their impetuous and rapid career is celebrated in more forcible terms, than the great master of Grecian song presumed to use : “ They were swifter than eagles; they were stronger than lions.”+ 6 Behold,” cried Jeremiah, when he beheld in vision the march of Nebuchadnezzar, “ he shall come up as clouds, and his chariots shall be as a whirlwind; his horses are swifter than eagles. Wo unto us, for we are spoiled.”I To the wide expanded wings of the eagle, and the rapidity of his flight, the same prophet beautifully alludes in a subsequent chapter, where he describes the subversion of Moab, by the same ruthless conqueror : “ For thus saith the Lord, Behold, he shall fly as an eagle, and shall spread his wings over Moab.”In the same manner, he describes the sudden desolations of Ammon in the next chapter ; but when he turns his eye to the ruins of his own country, he exclaims in still more energetic language, “Our persecutors are swifter than the eagles of the heavens.”'||

Under the same comparison, the patriarch Job describes the rapid flight of time: “My days are passed away, as the eagle that hasteth to the prey;'q no part of them remains, and no trace of them can be discovered. The surprising rapidity, with which the blessings of common providence sometimes vanish from the grasp of the possessor, is thus described by Solomon: “ Riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle towards heaven.”**

Supported by his powerful wings, the eagle pursues his flight for a long time, without becoming weary or fatigued ; and when circumstances require it, by one continued effort, penetrates into the remotest regions. In allusion to this fact, the fabulous poets of antiquity say, that two eagles were sent down from Jove, one from the rising, and the other from the setting sun, which continued their journey till they met at Delphi, * Deut. xxviii. 49. + 2 Sam. i. 23.

§ Chap. xlviii. 40. | Lam, iv, 19.

# Jer. iv, 13.
** Prov, xxx. 19.

{ Job ix, 26.

or in the neighbourhood of Parnassus. The same allusion is involved in those Scriptures, which provide them with eagles' wings, that are to be removed to a great distance. Thus, the church of Christ, under the emblem of a woman, was furnished with “two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness into her place, from the face of the serpent.”* Her safety required a very far and rapid flight, which only the wings of a golden eagle can sustain; they are therefore selected by the prophet with admirable propriety, to waft the object of divine love and care to her appoint

ed refuge.

The flight of this bird is as sublime, as it is rapid and impetuous. None of the feathered race soar so high; in his daring excursions, he is said to leave the clouds of heaven, and the regions of thunder, and lightning, and tempest, far beneath his feet, and to approach the very limits of æther.f Hence, the prince of Grecian poets so frequently calls him the high-soaring eagle; and the ancient heathens, when they saw him cleaving the clouds with bis expanded pinions, in his descent to the lower regions of the air, considered him as the special messenger of the Supreme, that reposed in his bosom, and assisted his thunder. Corresponding to this, is the celebrated oracle concerning the Athenians: Αετος εν νεφελησι γενησεαι, « Thou shalt become an eagle in the clouds." Still more beautiful and sublime are the words of Obadiah, concerning the pride and humiliation of Moab: « Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith the Lord.”f The prophet Jeremiah pronounces the doom of Edom in similar terms: 66. thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, that holdest the height of the hill; though thou shouldst make thy nest as high as the eagle, I will bring thee down from thence, saith the Lord.” $ To these

may be added that remarkable passage in Job, where Jehovah thus addresses the afflicted patriarch: “ Doth the eagle mount up at thy command, and * Rev. xii. 14. † Apuleius, as quoted by Bochart. #Obad. v. 4. © Jer. xlix. 16.

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make her nest on high? She dwelleth and abideth on the rock, upon the crag of the rock, and the strong place. From thence, she seeketh the prey, and her eyes behold afar off.”* She builds her nest in the most frightful precipices, from whence she darts a keen and piercing eye over the surrounding scene, and marks her prey at a great distance. These and other facts in her history, are expressed in that sublime address, with a truth and energy becoming the Creator of all things.“ Doth the eagle,” says Jehovah, “ mount up at thy command ?” Attempts have been often made to subdue the fierce spirit of the young eagle, and train him to the chace; but with little success. He cannot be rendered so tame, gentle, and steady, that his master has not to dread his caprice, or the sudden movements of his angry passions. Man did not impart to him the desire to soar among the clouds, nor can the wisest, or the most powerful of the human race, direct his flight; for, with a rapidity peculiar to himself, he ascends into regions far beyond the reach of the human eye, and the range of human control. Nor did he learn from man, to choose the inaccessible precipice for his abode. His vigorous frame, his daring temper, and all his instincts, are the contrivance and the work of God. The design of his Creator, in directing him to build his nest on the brow of the precipice, is obvious; there, the spoiler of the heavens, and the terror of the smaller quadrupeds, dwells alone and secure, and rears his young, almost beyond the reach and the fear of danger. The highest peak of the mountain or the cliff, is also a convenient station, from whence he marks his prey, and takes his flight; for although he has a most powerful wing, he has so little suppleness in his limbs, that he finds some difficulty in rising from the ground.

The piercing sight of this noble bird, is recorded
by the philosophers, and celebrated by the poets of
every age. In Homer, he has the sharpest sight among
the birds of heaven.
-'Wg pool

εα τε φασιν
Οξυτατον δερκεσθαι υπερανιων πετεηνών. . II. 6. 17. 1. 675.

* Job xxxix, 30.

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