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head: if the quail bore this operation without flinching, his master gained the stake, but lost it if he ran away. The Chinese have been always extremely fond of quailfighting, as appears from most of the accounts of that people, and particularly in Mr. Bell's excellent relation of his travels to China, where the reader will find much curious matter on the subject. See vol. I. p. 424, edit. in 8vo. We are told by Mr. Marsden, that the Sumatrans, likewise, use these birds in the manner of game cocks. The annexed copy from an elegant Chinese miniature painting represents some ladies engaged at this amusement, where the quails are actually inhoop'd.
The print here given is a neat engraving in outline.
Romeo and Juliet, act. 3. sc. 1.
“I am always running in the way of evil fortune, like the fool in the play," says Dr. Johnson. There is certainly no allusion to any play.
Romeo means here that he is fooled, i. e. tricked by fortune: he had slain "1ybalt that an hour had been his kinsman," and was therefore obliged to fly from Verona, from his bride.
We give the note on the word alligator, and confess that the derivation of it is equally new to us and convincing.
Romeo and Juliet, act. 5. sc. 1.
Rom. An Alligator stuff'd
Our dictionaries supply no materials towards the etymology of this word, which was probably introduced into the language by some of our early voyagers to the Spanish or Portuguese settlements in the newly discovered world. They would hear the Spaniards discoursing of the animal by the name of el lagarto, or the lizard; Lat. lacerta; and on their return home, they would inform their countrymen that this sort of crocodile was called an alligator. It would not be difficult to trace other corrupted words in a similar manner.
ORIGINAL AMERICAN REVIEW.
American Ornithology; or the Natural History of the Birds of the United States, illustrated with plates, engraved and coloured from original Drawings taken from nature. By Alexander Wilson. Imperial quarto, pp. 160. vol. i. price 12 dollars. Philadelphia, published by Bradford and Inskeep.
(CONCLUDED FROM PAGE 52.)
The history of the BLUE BIRD is the subject of another interesting article, and gives us back those images with which, in early life, we have all been familiar. The visits of this species early in spring to the "box in the gar den," or "the hole in the old apple tree, the cradle of some generations of his ancestors"-his soft, pleasing warble on the fences and barn topshis single melancholy note at the approach of winter, as if seeming to deplore the desolation of nature, are all truly characteristick of this well known bird. The little poem in which the author has here celebrated the Bluebird, is tender and descriptive. Our limits will not permit the insertion of the whole; but the following stanzas, are selected.
Then loud piping frogs make the marshes to ring;
O then to your gardens ye housewives repair!
He flits through the orchard, he visits each tree,
He snaps up destroyers wherever they be,
And seizes the caitiffs that lurk in their bosoms;
When all the gay scenes of the summer are o'er,
And millions of warblers that charmed us before,
The Blue-bird, forsaken, yet true to his home,
The fourth plate is occupied by the Orchard Oriole, or Bastard Baltimore of European writers, whose history is illustrated by four figures, representing that bird in its various and very extraordinary progressive changes of colour; being the first season olive; the next black throated; the third and fourth, variegated with black, olive; and chesnut, or deep black and bright bay; which last, we are told, are the fixed colours of the male after that period. These changes, it appears, have procured for this bird, in Europe, four different names, as being supposed to be actually so many distinct species. The eggs of this, as also of the Baltimore bird, are represented on the plate, remove a suspicion entertained by Dr. Latham and some others, that both these descriptions of the Oriole may probably refer to the same bird of different ages, or differing in sex.
We are next presented with the figure and history of the Great American Shrike, or Butcher Bird, whose remarkable habit of sticking grasshoppers on thorns, to entice small birds to their destruction, has been detailed at considerable length, in the American Philosophical Transactions, by the late Rev Mr. Heckewelder of Bethlehem, in a letter to Dr. Barton. The same habits are particularly described by Mr. Wilson; but the action of the bird is assigned to very different motives. Having quoted the principal parts of Mr. H's relation, our author proceeds:
"This is, indeed, a very pretty, fanciful theory, and would entitle our bird to the epithet Fowler, perhaps, with more propriety than Lanius, or Butcher; but notwithstanding the attention which Mr. Heckewelder professes to have paid to this bird, he appears not only to have been unacquainted that grasshoppers were, in fact, the favourite food of this ninekiller; but never once to have considered, that grasshoppers would be but a very insignificant and tasteless bait for our winter birds, which are chiefly those of the finch kind, that feed almost exclusively on hard seeds and gravel; and among whom five hundred grasshoppers might be stuck up on trees and bushes, and remain there untouched by any of them for ever. Besides, where is his necessity of having recourse to such refined stratagems, when he can at any time seize upon small birds by mere force of flight? I have seen him, in an open field, dart after one of our small sparrows, with the rapidity of an arrow, and kill it almost instantly. Mr. William Bartram long ago informed me, that one of these Shrikes had the temerity to pursue a Snow-bird (F. Hudsonica) into an open cage, which stood in the garden; and before they could arrive to its assistance, had already strangled and scalped it, though he lost his liberty by the exploit. In short, I am of opinion, that his resolution and activity are amply sufficient to enable him to procure these small birds whenever he wants them; which I believe is never but when hard pressed by necessity, and a deficiency of his favourite insects; and that the Crow or the Blue-Jay may, with the same probability, be supposed to be laying baits for mice and flying squirrels when they are hoarding their Indian
corn, as he for birds, while thus disposing of the exuberance of his favourite food:
The Summer Red Bird, male and female, the former wholly scarlet, the latter brownish yellow: the Indigo-bird; the Maryland Yellow throat; and the American Red Start, occupy the rest of this plate, and their respective histories follow at large.
In plate 7th we find the figure of a new species of Muscicapa or Flycatcher-the Redbilled Woodpecker, Cedar-bird, and Purple Finch. The plumage, nests, eggs, manners, migrations, &c. of all these, are particularly described; and as usual, the errours of European writers pointed out.
We come next to a plate of Wrens, Titmice, &c. The common House Wren, the Winter Wren, between which we had supposed there was no difference, but which are here designated as belonging even to different genera the Golden-crested Wren, the Black-capt Titmouse, the Crested Titmouse, and the Brown Creeper. This last is admirably executed. The House Wren furnishes materials for a very amusing article; an extract from which, as this bird is universally known, may not be unacceptable to our readers.
This well known and familiar bird arrives in Pennsylvania about the middle of April; and about the eighth or tenth of May begins to build its nest, sometimes in the wooden cornicing under the eaves, or in a hollow cherry tree; but most commonly in small boxes, fixed on the top of a pole, in or near the garden, to which he is extremely partial, for the great number of caterpillars and other larvæ with which it constantly supplies him. If all these conveniences are wanting, he will even put up with an old hat, nailed on the weatherboards, with a small hole for entrance; and if even this be denied him, he will find some hole, corner, or crevice about the house, barn or stable, rather than abandon the dwellings of man. In the month of June, a mower hung up his coat, under a shed near the barn. Two or three days elapsed before he had occasion to put it on again; thrusting his arm up the sleeve he found it completely filled with some rubbish, as he expressed it, and, on extracting the whole mass, found it to be the nest of a Wren completely finished, and lined with a large quantity of feathers. In his retreat he was followed by the little forlorn proprietors, who scolded him with great vehemence for thus ruining the whole economy of their household affairs. The twigs with which the outward parts of the nest are constructed are short and crooked that they may the better hook in with one another, and the hole or entrance is so much shut up, to prevent the intrusion of snakes or cats, that it appears almost impossible [that] the body of the bird could be admitted. Within this is a layer of fine dried stalks of grass, and lastly feathers. The eggs are six or seven, and sometimes nine, of a red, purplish flesh colour, innumerable fine grains of that tint being thickly sprinkled over the whole egg. They generally raise two broods in a season; the first about the beginning of June, the second in July.
This little bird has a strong antipathy to cats; for having frequent occasion to glean among the currant bushes, and other shrubbery in the garden, those lurking enemies of the feathered race often prove fatal to him. A box fixed up in the window of the room where I slept, was taken possession of by a pair of Wrens. Already the nest was built and two eggs laid, when one day the window being open, as well as the room door, the female Wren venturing too far into the room to reconnoitre, was sprung upon by grimalkin, who had planted herself there for the purpose; and before relief could be given, was destroyed. Curious to see how the surviver would demean himself, I watched him carefully for several days. At first he sung with great vivacity for an hour or so; but becoming uneasy, went off for half an hour. On his return he chanted again as before; went to the top of the house, stable, and weeping willow,
that she might hear him; but seeing no appearance of her, he returned once more; visited the nest; ventured cautiously into the window; gazed about with suspicious looks, his voice sinking to a low melancholy note as he stretched his little neck about in every direction. Returning to the box he seemed for some minutes at a loss what to do, and soon after went off, as I thought, altogether; for I saw him no more that day. Towards the afternoon of the second day he again made his appearance, accompanied with a new female, who seemed exceedingly timorous and shy; and who after great hesitation entered the box; at this moment the little widower or bridegroom seemed as if he would warble out his very life with ecstacy of joy. After remaining about half a minute in, they both flew off, but returned in a few minutes and instantly began to carry out the eggs, feathers, and some of the sticks, supplying the place of the two latter with materials of the same sort; and ultimately succeeded in raising a brood of seven young, all of which escaped in safety.
The immense number of insects which this sociable little bird removes from the garden and fruit trees, ought to endear him to every cultivator, even if he had nothing else to recommend him; but his notes, loud, sprightly, tremulous, and repeated every few seconds with great animation, are extremely agreeable. In the heat of summer, families in the country often dine under the piazza adjoining green canopies of mantling grape-vines, gourds, &c. while overhead, the trilling vivacity of the Wren, mingled with the warbling mimicry of the Cat-bird, and the distant softened sounds of numerous other songsters that we shall hereafter introduce to the reader's acquaintance, form a soul-soothing, and almost heavenly musick, breathing peace, innocence, and rural repose. The European who judges of the song of this species by that of his own Wren (M. troglodytes) will do injustice to the former; as in strength of tone and execution, it is far superiour, as well as the bird is in size, figure, and elegance of markings, to the European one. Its manners are also different, its sociability greater. It is no underground inhabitant; its nest is differently constructed; the number of its eggs fewer; it is also migratory, and has the tail and bill much longer. Its food is insects and caterpillars, and while supplying the wants of its young, it destroys, on a moderate calculation, many hundreds a day; and greatly circumscribes the ravages of these vermin. It is a bold and insolent bird agains those of the Titmouse or Woodpecker kind that venture to build within its jurisdiction; attacking them without hesitation, though twice its size, and generally forcing them to decamp. Even the Blue-bird who claims an equal, and sort of hereditary right to the box in the garden, when attacked by this little impertinent, soon relinquishes the contest, the mild placidness of his disposition not being a match for the fiery impetuosity of his little antago nist. With those of his own species, who settle and build near him, he has frequent squabbles; and when their respective females are sitting, each strains his whole powers of song to excel the other. When the young are hatched, the hurry and press of business leave no time for disputing; so true it is, that idleness is the mother of mischief. These birds are not confined to the country. They are to be heard on the tops of the houses in the most central parts of our cities, singing with great energy. Scarce a house or cottage in the country is without at least a pair of them, and sometimes two; but unless where there is a large garden, orchard, and numerous outhouses, it is not often the case that more than one pair reside near the same spot, owing to their party disputes and jealousies. It has been said by a friend to this little bird, that "the esculent vegetables of a whole garden may, perhaps, be preserved, from the depredations of different species of insects, by ten or fifteen pair of these small birds," " and probably they might, were the combination practicable; but such a congregation of Wrens about one garden, is a phenomenon not to be expected but from a total change in the very nature and disposition of the species."
The ninth and last plate in the volume represents four species of Woodpeckers, of their natural size, and most appropriate attitudes; a circumstance which seems particularly attended to by our author, and which gives peculiar value to his drawings. There are the common Red-headed Woodpecker, the Yellow-bellied Woodpecker, and two species of spotted Woodpeckers. Mr. Wilson enters minutely into the history of these; and, contrary to the generally received opinion, considers them as a tribe highly useful to the health, preservation, and fertility of our fruit as well as forest trees. Even the small, spotted Woodpecker, so notorious for the
Barton's Fragments. Part I, p. 23.
numerous circles of holes it makes in the body and large limbs of our apple trees, is not excepted from its share of reputation; as appears from the following extract which we confess strongly inclines us to think with the author; happy, as we always are, to find individuals, either of the human or feathered race, less culpable than they are represented to be.
"The principal characteristicks of this little bird are diligence, familiarity, perseverance, and a strength and energy in the head and muscles of the neck, which are truly astonishing. Mounted on the infected branch of an old apple tree, where insects have lodged their corroding and destructive brood in crevices between the bark and wood, he labours sometimes for half an hour incessantly at the same spot, before he has succeeded in dislodging and destroying them. At these times you may walk up pretty close to the tree, and even stand immediately below it, within five or six feet, of the bird, without in the least embarrassing him; the strokes of his bill are distinctly beard several hundred yards off; and I have known him to be at work for two hours together on the same tree. Buffon calls this "incessant toil and slavery;" their attitude "a painful posture ;" and their life "a dull and insipid existence; expressions improper, because untrue; and absurd, because contradictory. The posture is that for which the whole organization of his frame is particularly adapted; and though to a Wren or a Humming-bird the labour would be both toil and slavery, yet to him it is, I am convinced, as pleasant and as amusing as the sports of the chase to the hunter, or the sucking of flowers to the Humming-bird. The eagerness with which he traverses the upper and lower sides of the branches; the cheerfulness of his cry, and the liveliness of his motions while digging into the tree and dislodging the vermin, justify this belief. He has a single note, or chink, which, like the former species, The frequently repeats. And when he flies off, or alights on another tree, he utters a rather shriller cry, composed of nearly the same kind of note, quickly reiterated. In fall and winter he associates with the Titmouse, Creeper, &c. both in their wood and orchard excursions; and usually leads the van. Of all our Woodpeckers none rid the apple trees of so many vermin as this, digging off the moss which the negligence of the proprietor had suffered to accumulate, and probing every crevice. In fact, the orchard is his favourite resort in all seasons; and his industry is unequalled, and almost incessant, which is more than can be said of any other species we have. In fall he is particularly fond of boring the apple trees for insects, digging a circular hole through the bark just sufficient to admit his bill, after that a second, third, &c. in. pretty regular, horizontal circles round the body of the tree. These parallel circles of holes are often not more than an inch, or an inch and a half apart, and sometimes so close together, that I have covered eight or ten of them at once with a dollar. From nearly the surface of the ground up to the first fork, and sometimes far beyond it, the whole bark of many apple trees is perforated in this manner, so as to appear as if made by successive discharges of buck-shot; and our little Woodpecker, the subject of the present account, is the principal perpetrator of this supposed mischief. I say supposed, for so far from these perforations of the bark being ruinous, they are not only harmless, but I have god reason to believe, really beneficial to the health and fertility of the tree. I leave it to the philosophical botanist to account for this; but the fact I am confident of. In more than fifty orchards which I have myself carefully examined, those trees which were marked by the Woodpecker (for some trees they never touch, perhaps, because not penetrated by insects) were uniformly the most thriving, and seemingly the most productive. Many of these were upwards of sixty years old, their trunks completely covered with holes, while the branches were broad, luxuriant, and loaded with fruit. Of decayed trees, more than three-fourths were untouched by the Woodpecker. Several intelligent farmers, with whom I have conversed, candidly acknowledge the truth of these observations, and with justice look upon these birds as beneficial; but the most common opinion is, that they bore the trees to suck the sap, and so destroy its vegetation; though pine and other resinous trees, on the juices of which it is not pretended they feed, are often found equally perforated. Were the sap of the tree their object, the saccharine juice of the birch, the sugar maple, and several others, would be much more inviting, because more sweet and nourishing than that of either the pear or apple tree; but I have not observed one mark on the former for ten thousand that may be seen on the latter; besides, the early part of spring is the season when the sap flows most abundantly; whereas it is only during the months of September, October, and November, that Woodpeckers are seen so indefatigably engaged in orchards, probing every crack