페이지 이미지

lish parrot.

'Tutor. Ah! this is a mis letoe, a plant of great fame for the use made of it by the Druids of old in their religious rites and incantations. It hears a very slimy white berry, of which birdlime may be made, wnenco the Latin name, Viscus. It is one of those plants which do not grow in the ground by a root of their own, but fix themselves upon other plants ; whence they have been humorously styled parasitical, as being hangers on, or dependents. It was the mistletoe of the oak that the Druids par. ticularly honored.

William. A little farther on, I saw a green woodpecker fly to a tres and run up the trunk like a cat.

Tutor. That was to seek for insects in the bark, on which they live. They bore holes with their strong bills for that purpose, and do much damage to the trees by it.

William. What beautiful birds they are !
Tutor. Yes; they have been called, from their color and size, the Eng.

William. When I got upon the open heath, how charming it was The air seemed so fresh, and the prospect on every side so free and un bounded! Then it was all covered with gay flowers, many of which 1 had never observed before. There were at least three kinds of heath, (I have got them in my handkerchief here,) and gorse, and broom and bell-flower, and many others of all colors, of which I will beg you pre bently to tell me the names.

Tutor. That I will, readily.

William.. I saw, too, several birds that were new to me. There was a pretty grayish one of the size of a lark, that was hopping about some great stones; and when he flew, he showed a great deal of white abovo his tail.

Tutor. That was a wheat-ear. They are reckoned very delicious birds to eat, and frequent the open downs in Sussex, and some other counties, in great numbers.

William. There was a flock of lapwings upon a marshy part of the heath, that amused me much. As I came near them, some of them kept flying round and round, just over my head, and crying pewit so distinctly, one might almost fancy they spoke. I thought I should have caught one of them, for he flew as if one of his wings was broken, and often tumbled close to the ground; but, as I came near, he always contrived to get away.

Tutor. Ha, ha! you were finely taken in, then! This was all an artifice of the bird's, to entice you away from its nest; for they build upon the bare ground, and their nests would easily be observed, did they not draw off the attention of intruders, by their loud cries and counterfeit laineness.

William. I wish I had known that, for he led me a long chase, often over shoes in water. However, it was the cause of my falling in with an old man and a boy, who were cutting and piling up turf for fuel; and I had a good deal of talk with them, about the manner of preparing the turf, and the price it sells at. They gave me, too, a creature I never saw before

a young viper, which they had just killed, together with its dam. I have seen several common snakes, but this is thicker in proportion, and of a darker color than they are.

Tutor. True. Vipers frequent those turfy, boggy grounds pretty Duch, an I have known several turf-cutters bitten by them

William. They are very venomous, are they not?

Tutor. Erough so to make their wounds painful and dangerous, though they seldom prove fatal.

William. Well — I then took my course up to the windmill on the mount. I climbed up the steps of the mill, in order to get a better view of the country round. What an extensive prospect! I counted fifteen church steeples; and I saw several gentlemen's houses peeping out from the midst of green woods and plantations; and I could trace the windings of the river all along the low grounds, till it was lost behind a ridge of hills. But I'll tell you what I mean to do, if you will give me leave.

Tutor. What is that?

Willian. I will go again, and take with me Cary's country map, by which I shall probably be able to make out most of the places.

Tutor. You shall have it, and I will go with you, and take my pocket spying-glass.

William. I shall be very glad of that. Well - a thought struck me, that, as the hill is called Camp-mount, there might, probably, be some remains of ditches and mounds, with which I have read that camps were surrounded. And I really believe I discovered something of that sort running round one side of the mount.

Tutor. Very likely you might. I know antiquaries have described such remains as existing there, which some suppose to be Roman, others Danish. We will examine them further when we go.

William. From the hill I went straight down to the meadows below, and walked on the side of a brook that runs into the river. It was all bordered with reeds, and flags, and tall flowering plants, quite different from those I had seen on the heath. As I was getting down the bank to reach one of them, I heard something plunge into the water near me. It was a large water-rat, and I sow it swim over to the other side, and go into its hole. There were a great many dragon-flies all about the stream. I caught one of the finest, and have got him here in a leaf. But how I longed to catch a bird that I saw hovering over the water, and every now and then darting down into it! It was all over a mixture of the most beautiful green and blue, with some orange color. It was somewhat less than a thrush, and had a large head and bill, and a short tail.

Tutor. I can tell you what that bird was — a kingfisher, the celebrated halcyon of the ancients, about which so many tales are told. It lives on fish, which it catches in the manner you saw. It builds in holes in the banks; and is a shy, retired bird, never to be seen far from the stream where it inhabits.

William. I must try to get another sight at him, for I never saw à bird that pleased me so much. Well, I followed this little brook, till it entered the river, and then took the path that runs along the bank. On the opposite side, I observed several little birds running along the shore, and making a piping noise. They were brown and white and about as big

as a snipe. Tutor. I suppose they were sand-pipers, one of the numerous family of birds that get their living by wading among the shellows, and picking ap worms and insects.

William. There were a great many swallows, too, sporting upon the surface of the water, that entertained me with their motions. Sometimes they dashed into the stream; sometimes they pursued one another so quickly, that the eye could scarcely follow them. In one place, where a high, steep sand-bank rose directly above the river, I observed many of item go in and out of holes, with which the bank was bored full.

Tutor. Those were sand-martins, the smallest of our four species of swallows. They are of a mouse-color above, and white beneath. They make their nests and bring up their young in these holes, which run great depth, and by their situation are secure from all plunderers.

William. A little farther, I saw a man in a boat, who was catching eels in an odd way. He had a long pole with broad iron prongs at the end, just like Neptune's trident, only there were five instead of three. This he pushed straight down into the mud, in the deepest parts of the river, and fetched up the eels sticking between the prongs.

Tuter. I have seen this method. It is called spearing of eels.

William. While I was looking at him, a heron came flying over my head, with his large flapping wings. He alighted at the next turn of the river, and I crept softly behind the bank to watch his motions. He had waded into the water as far as his long legs would carry him, and was standing with his neck drawn in, looking intently on the stream. Pres. ently he darted his long bill as quick as lightning into the water, and drew out a fish, which he swallowed. I saw him catch another in the same manner. He then took alarm at some noise I made, and flew Away slowly to a wood at some distance, where he settled.

Tutor. Probably his nest was there, for herons build upon the loftiest tree they can find, and sometimes in society together, like rooks. For. merly, when these birds were valued for the amusement of hawking, many gentlemen had their heronries, and a few are still remaining.

William. I think they are the largest wild birds we have.

Tutor. They are of great length and spread of wing, but their bodies are comparatively small.

William. I then turned homeward across the meadows, where I stop ped awhile to look at a large flock of starlings, which kept flying about at no great distance. I could not tell, at first, what to make of them; for they rose all together from the ground, as thick as a swarm of bees, and formed themselves into a kind of black cloud, hovering over the field. After taking a short round, they settled again, and presently rose again in the same manner. I dare say there were hundreds of them.

Tutor. Perhaps so; for, in the fenny counties, their flocks are se numerous, as to break down whole acres of reeds by settling on them. This disposition of starlings to fly in close swarms was remarked even by Homer, who compares the foe fying from one of his heroes, to a cloud of starlings retiring dismayed at the approach of the hawk.

William. After I had left the meadows, I crossed the cornfields in the way to our house, and passed close by a deep marl-pit. Looking into it, I saw in one of the sides a cluster of what I took to be shells; and, upon going down, I picked up a clod of marl which was quite full of nem; but how sea-shells could get there I cannot imagine.

Tutor. I do not wonder at your surprise, since many philosophers have been much perplexed to account for the same appearance. It is not uncommon to find great quantities of shells and relics of marine animals even in the bowels of high mountains very remote from the sea.

William. I got to the high field next to our house just as the run was setting, and I stood looking at it till it was quite lost. What a glorious sight! The clouds were tinged with purple and crimson, and vellow of 4'] shades and hues, and the clear sky varied from blue to a fine green al


the horizon. But how large the sun appears, just as it sets! I think a seems twice as big as when it is over head.

Tutor. It does so; and you may probably have observed the same apparent enlargement of the moon at its rising.

William. I have; but pray what is the reason of this?

Putor. It is an optical deception, depending uponi principles which I cannot well explain to you, till you know more of that branch of science. But what a number of new ideas this afternoon's walk has afforded you ! I do not wonder that you found it amusing; it has been very instructive, too. Did you see nothing of all these sights, Robert ?

Robert. I saw some of them, but I did not take particular notice of Whem.

Tutor. Why no:

Robert. I do not know. I did not care about them; and I made the best of my way home.

Tutor. That would have been right, if you had been sent on a raessage; but, as you only walked for amusement, it would have been wiser to have sought out as many sources of it as possible. But so it is; one man walks through the world with his eyes open, and another with them shut;


upon this difference depends all the superiority of knowledge the one acquires above the other. I have known sailors who had been in all the quarters of the world, and could tell you nothing but the signs of the tippling-houses they frequented in the different ports, and the price and quality of the liquor. On the other hand, a Franklin could not cross the Channel without making some observations useful to mankind. While many awacant, thoughtless youth, is whirled throughout Europe, without gaining a single idea worth crossing a street for; the observing eye and inquiring mind find matter of improvement and delight, in every ramble in town and country. Do you, then, William, continue to make use of your eyes; and you, Robert, learn that eyes were given you to use.

The preceding dialogue, if it has been attentively read, will probably enable the young student to write simple dialogues or conversations, similar to that presented in the following



Charles. Whose dog is that, Henry, which I saw in your yard yesterday?

Henry. He belongs to my uncle, who bought him, when he was very young, of a poor boy in the street.

The boy appeared very destitute, and uncle bought him rather out of compassion for the boy, than because he wanted the dog.

Charles. Is he good for any thing, has he been trained:

Henry. O yes; he is a very valuable animal. Uncle would not sell him at any price. He is an excellent water

dog, and knows more than many boys of his own age. The other morning he was sitting in a chair at the window, from which he had been accustomed to look at the boys, as they were playing in the street, and, finding that he could not see through the window, on account of the frost on the glass, he applied his warm tongue to one of the panes, and, licking the frost from the glass, attempted to look out; but, the spot which he had cleared being only large enough to admit one eye, he immediately made another, in the same manner, for the other eye, by which he was enabled to enjoy the sight as usual. Charles. That was very

remarkable. But


uncle did not teach him to do that.

Henry. No; that was rather an operation of instinct than of training. But he will carry bundles, stand on two legs, find articles that are hidden, fetch things from the water, and is also well trained for hunting.

Charles. He is a water-dog, then, is he not?

Henry. O yes. He is very fond of the water himself, but will not allow others to go into it. Uncle has a fine situation at Nahant, on the water's edge, and many of his friends go there to bathe. But uncle is obliged to tie up Guido, the dog, when any one wishes to bathe; for the animal will not allow any one to go into the water, if he can prevent it. Charles. That is very selfish in him.

What do you sup pose is the reason that he is unwilling that others should enjoy a thing, of which, you say, he is himself so very fond ?

Henry. O, he has a good reason for that, as well as for every thing else he does. The reason is, that, one day, my little brother, George, was standing on a kind of wharf, built of stones, near the bathing place, and, happening to stoop over too far to look at some eels, that were gliding through the water below, he lost his balance and fell in. Nobody was near but Guido, and he immediatety jumped into the water, and held George up by the collar till some one came to his assistance. When the servant man, John, came to help George out of the water, Guido had nearly dragged him to the shore; but he found it rather hard work, for George is very fleshy, and, of course, quite heavy; and, although Guido has a good opinion of himself, and doubts not his ability to drag .ary one else out of the water; yet he reasons very


[ocr errors][merged small]
« 이전계속 »