xt7sxk84jq1p https://exploreuk.uky.edu/dips/xt7sxk84jq1p/data/mets.xml Webber, Charles Wilkins, 1819-1856. 1858  books b96-7-34456741 English Leavitt and Allen, : New York : Contact the Special Collections Research Center for information regarding rights and use of this collection. Natural history Outdoor books. Birds United States. Wild scenes and song-birds  / by C. W. Webber. text Wild scenes and song-birds  / by C. W. Webber. 1858 2002 true xt7sxk84jq1p section xt7sxk84jq1p 



    BY C. W. WEBB)ER,

   379 BROADWAY.


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           Ibid Dook,


         IS INSCUtIBED.

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                C O N T E N T S.

                     CHAPTER 1.

NATURE AND HER HARMONIES.. . . . . . . . .

                    CHAPTER 11.

                    CHAPTER 111.
MT HUMMING-BIRDS.. . . . . .     . . . . .

                    CHAPTER IV.

                   CHAPTER V.
DRAGGING THE SEINEX.. . . . . . . . . . .

                    CHAPTER VI.

                    CHAPTER VII.
DROLLERIES OF THE WOODS. . . . . . . . . .


. . 54

. . 98

. . 124

 . 134

. . 144

. . 180



                   CHAPTER VIII.
MY PET WOOD THRUSHES. . . . . . . . . . . . . 190

                    CHAPTER IX.

   THE OHIO RIVER. .  . . . . . . . . . . . 214

                    CHAPTER X.

ZAGLES AND ART.    .      . . . . . . .

                    C'IAPTER XL


. 235

. 274

                   CHAPTER XIl.


.. .... . 287

                   CHAPTER Xlll.


. 307

                   CHAPTER XIV.

OUT OF DOORS WITH NATURE.      . . . . . . . . 318

                   CHAPTER XV.

GHOST-FLOWER AND CHILD-A DREAM.. . . . . . . . 335




                     CHAPTER I.


  I LOVE song-birds with a singular affection. Out of the
bottom of my heart I love them-for of all God's creatures,
except a clear-eyed, innocent child, they have been to me a
wonder and a miracle.
  I never could get done wondering to hear them sing. It
sounds so strange to me that anything could be happy
enough to sing but angels and young girls!
  Singing, when we come to think of it, seems properly to be
the language of a deathless being-the right form in which
the exultings of an Immortal should be poured among tLe
waves of shoreless sound.
  That a sweet sound should ever cease to be, appears to me
unnatural-at least unpoetical-for, let its vibrations once
begin, though they may soon die to our gross sense, must
they not go widening, circling on, stinging the sense of rn-c-
riad other lives with a mysterious pleasantness (such as vi l
overcome us in a wood upon an April day), until the utter-
Lmost bound of our poor space be past, and y-et the large Cir-
cumference go spread and spreading tremulous amiong the
girdling stars
  It may be so for all we can tell ! If it be so, how quaint
it is to hear these little feathered creatures, from some frail



sprig-with such unconscious earnestness-gushing out
strains that are to chime the solemn dance of systems!
Mystery is all around us. Who knows but that these
things be
  Whether or no, it is a marvellous reality to hear birds
singing. If you look at them while they do it, with their
upturned bills, their rapt, softened, half-closed eyes, their
bodies quivering in the ecstatic travail-you cannot but feel
in reverential mood, and hear your own rebuked heart whis-
pering " let us pray!'
  What! When their shrill, melodious clamorings go up
with the mists before the sun, and make his coming over
earth to be with light in music, are they not chaunting mat.
ins to the God of all 
  When he hastens to decline, and from the spires of tree-
tops everywhere the Thrush and Robin sing a low-voiced
hymn-is it not a vesper-symphonie of thanks
  And when, in the deep night, the Oriole, in dreamy twit-
terings, and the Mocking-bird, in clear, triumphing notes,
stir the dark shadows of the cold, gray moon to the wild
pulsing of unmeasured chords-is it not a worship fitting to
that mystic time 
  Verily, they symbol to us a spiritual and a holier life!
The purpose of their being is in prayer and praise, just as
they say it is with Angels.
  They do not taste the fruits of earth, and revel in the
warm kisses of the day unthankfully; but when their little
hearts-forever drinking love-fill up to the brim, they let
their cadent fulness go towards heaven.
  They sing when they have eaten-they sing when they
have drunk-while they are waking, music always trembles
at their breasts-they pay back the caressing sun in sweet-
ness-and when they sleep, and the shining beams are show-
ered silently and pale, down from the bosom of the darkness
over them, their dreams break out in momentary song.
  They take the berry, flushing underneath green leaves,




and the sense of hunger is relieved. So when they snatch
the earth-worm-stirring unusually the grass blades of the
sward beneath them-from its slimy hole, the bare appetite
is soothed.
  Theirs is no sodden gormandie, such as we human brutes
indulge, that would doze and snooze away the precious
hours. No; this food with them is but the "provender of
praise ;" and for every mite and fragment of the manna of
the " great Dispenser" they do obeisance in thanksgiving.
  Beautiful lesson, is it not, to us a stiff-necked and ungrate-
fill generation  We eat to live, that we may eat again.
Thev eat that they may make merry before the Lord, and
fill his outer temple with the sounds of love!
  One of the mnost touching-and what certainly should be
one of the most significant objects known to us, is afforded in
the habitual gesture of these little creatures while they drink.
  Think of a thin rivulet by the meadow-side plaYing at bo-
peep with the sun beneath the thickets-and so clear withal,
that every stem, jagged limb, or crooked, leaf-wcihied
bough, lies boldly shadowed on its pale sand, or over its
white pebbles, like moon-shades on the snow-except that
these are tremulous.
  Then think of the singing throng who have been anticking
and carrolling all the morning upon the weed and clover-
tops, out indler the sun-coming into that shady place about
"the sweltering time o' day,' to cool their pipes.
  Hlow eatrerlv they come flitting in, With panting, o])cn
throats ! Ilowv quietly, through those cool, chequered gloomiis,
thev drop beside that sliding crystal.
  Here a scarlet Grosbeak flames partly in the sunlight,
while his ebony-set eyes gleam sharper in the shade; the Jay
sits vonde r behind a plumb-tree shadow, -with lowered crest
and gaping, bill-the Meadow Lark wvades in and stoops until
the wavelets curl up against its yellow breast and kiss the 'lark
blotch on its throat; the Wren comes creeping down w; ith
wagging tail among the mossy roots; the Orchard Oriole,




reckless to the last, comes garrulous, chattering down, and
dips upon an island pebble; and Bobby Linkurn, with his
amorous song shivered into silvery quavers, comies eagerly
hurrying after, and dashes up the spray, like as not, amid-
stream; the Indigo Bird darts in, and the Sparrows skip
chirpingly over the curled last-winter leaves; the yellow-
eyed Thrush, with long bounds and drooling wlings, splashes
plump into the water; the Cat Bird, with faint purr, glides
meekly down; the Elfin Mocker, even, silent now and pant-
ing, half-spreading its white-barred wlings with every hop,
follows the rest; with low chirrup and quick pattering feet,
the dusky-dotted Partridge hurries in; now see them one
and all dip their thirsty bills into the cool ripples-a single
drop, then each is upturned towards heaven, and softest eyes
look the mute eloquence of thanks.
  Down they all go again-anothei drop-up they rise to-
gether, pointing toward the home of God, gestieulating
praises while they take his gifts.
  Beautiful worshippers!  Lovely and fitting temple of the
Most High! your shady places have been hallowed by those
simple prayers. That inarticulate incense, like the invisible
aroma of hill-side violets, has ascended gratefully to heaven!
  Ye human Formalists, who, to the alarm of chllimes, go on
your knees to mumble the set forms of praise I what is your
faith compared to these 
  Would that ye would read this Elder Bible more-its
wide, miraculous pages have many a sentient chapter such
as this, where all the breathing is of love! Turn aside to
look upon them with a calm regard; who knows but that
the light abiding with these gentle things, may find its way
through the hard crust of cant, and wake to flowering some
genial place beside thy heart.
  Ye are not all ossified-brain, sense and heart-even down
to that altar of the belly gods within you! Be of good
cheer, and not affrighted because of great black-letter Tomes,
God's Commentary on his written Revelation was given first




-was handed down from a thousand Sinais, and strewed in
green and golden shadowy lines through all the plains. It
yet lives, and is, from under his own hand, above, ariind,
beneath thee and by it too ye xlaa understand that holy rnvs-
terv-how God is Love, and Love is God-like.
  'rliese are not all the mysteries symbolized by Birds.
  hlow caine oil Genius to give wings to its embolied
visions of the Spirit-Land  but that it had looked upon some
plumed and beamy singers of the clouds,

       Withl  r i f4 that r..ig! t IIare had a -Oal within them,
       ThIy Lure their uewncz, by such sweet enehantiment."

  Can you noot know that never again to it, from out the
umbrage, could " ministers of grace' or glad ideals come
other tlIan " by suCe sweet enchantment 
  "The wings! the wings !' Ah ! ever they must grow
upon The Beautiful, ere it can rise to Heaven!
  To us on wings The Beautiful must come down from
thence! It is with longing for these w ings, this "Immortality"
doth struggle in us ! To the music of their mellow whirr
we feel exultings, and our bare arms beat vainly, reaching
toward the stars. Ah I " whence this longing "-we poor
unfledged earth-prone things!
  Is it not a memory dimily recalled of some n mysterious wshi-
lorne wh-lien our free vans made sudden rnelody, cleaving past
the worldls, through space, where now  our thoughts go
haunting ghost-like -or is it that " the shadow of the
coining time" falls over us in wings
  "The wings-'-no fair Ideal can come to us but with
their light at rial movement-no dream of Love but with the
low minurmur of their softest beat-no gleam of Joy but as
they glance the sunlight off in gambolling-no Hope but as
they climb the dark craigs of the piled-up storm and reach
the serene sky above-no Ambition

          ' But flies an eagle flight, bold and forth on!"-




no Freedom but wheels and rushes tameless through the un-
bounded fields of air-no ecstasy of Faith, but like

                " The lark whose notes do beat
          The vaulty heaven, so high above our heads,'

-" singeth at Heaven's gate !"-no spiritual Warning but
comes and goes, inexplicably, quick as the shadow of some
"full-winged bird," glides across our path upon a summer's
day-no Visitation but comes like a fierce swooper of the
sky, the moan of arrowy wings and stroke at once-no
Shudder from the charnel but the frowsy flap of owlet and
of bat, " chasing the lagging night-shades," or the cloud-
dropped croak of "sad presaging Raven" going by must
bring it-no dash of " mirthful Phantasie" but that sparkles
from the jewelled wings of restless Hurmmers, light it amidst
the flowers.
  All the mysteries of hope, of joy, of hate, of love, are
winged, and to the tameless pulsing of this winnowed air our
life must beat!
  Winging and singing through the spring-time with the
birds our Childhood goes-and ever, while that

                           " Infantine
             Familiar clasp of things divine,"

lingers in freshness with the years-keeping the wise youth
of our hearts unhackneyed-shall living be a joyful thing,
and the cycling moons wheel blithely with us I
  Ah, those times!-with the yellow-haired, blue-eyed, bloom-
ing maidens, in their white pinafores and pantalettes !-

             "Lightsome, then, as April shadows,
             With bees and merry birds at play,
             Chasing sunlight o'er the meadows,"
were we I
  Bounding and carrolling through the flower-starred, odorous
grass-scaring the fire-flies back to the moon, whence their




bright showers fell-driving the sad, plaining, ill-omened
whippoorwill farther away-what cared we on summer even-
            "Rigor now is gone to bed-
            Strict Age and sour Severity
            With their grave saws in slumber lie!"

  Go listen, we may, to the Mocking-Bird down in the val-
ley, on the lone thorn tree-singing gleefully-singing
quaintly-singing mournfully now and wildly:

         ' And gushing then such a inelodie
         As harp-strings make whjen a Sprite goes by "'

  Ha! ha! what a hotch-potch of minstrelsy he is pouring!-
while the stars glint on the green leaves, and they are seem-
ing to glint back those silver points earthwise, barbing his
bright notes more keenly-what a dividing asunder of the
joints and marrow the sharp delight of those loud quaver-
ings doth bring
  Many a time have we kissed the white innocence of an
upturned forehead, and felt the light pressure of a " flower-
soft hand" return the questioning of our gaze into the " fringed
windows" of the soul-large, open, dewy, tremulous with ec-
.tasy beneath that song.
  How could the earth-walking angel fail to think of Heaven
when those rare snatches of her natal roundelays went by 
Would that our kiss might be as pure and our spirit as appre-
ciativc now of these "'better symphonies!"
  The years! the years! what changes do they bring! The
heated walls, the din of wheels, the dust and smoke of the
great city are around us, and we are toiling wearily with the
weary toiling crowd-while away by the scented woods this
Mocking-Bird-our Philomel

                singing in summer's front!
       Now when her mournful hymns do bush the nigqht
       And that wild music burdens every bough!"




that wild music is in vain for us. We can only dream of it
as the thirsty Arab dreameth of the palm-trees and the foun-
tain-and as to
       " How silver-sweet sound lo.ers' tongues by night!"

we can only tell when these memories babble to our sleep !
  To be sure we sometime since did steal an hour from our
duties, and run away like a truant school-boy to the country,
emulous of the odors of new-mown hay upon our garments !
  We caught this infection of sweetness while " loafing" on
the shady side of the ricks out in the shorn meadows, with
eyes half closed, listening to Bobby Linkum chirruping his
saucy thoughts about the despoliation of his forage-grounds.
  He is a very chatty, gay, abusive fellow, Robert Linkum
is. The utile et dulci he has no respect for. What matter is
it to him that grass smells sweeter for being cut, and that it
makes the heavy wains go creaking to the barns, and the far-
mer's canvas pocket heavier too, when all this curtails his
lineal prerogative of bugs and butterflies-puts him to shifts
for " findings" to keep that wide-mouthed crew of little
brawlers quiet he has hid yonder in the shrubs
  One can see plainly he does not like it. He comes flutter
ing sideways, chattering, raving and scolding, just above our
heads, his eye cocked downwards, with a connoisseuring
look, at our proceeding.
  He evidently thinks we are an awkward set of fellows, be-
sides being mischief-doers.
  It does gladden one's eyes to see these waving lakes of
green-heavy and deep-the rich promise of a golden prime,
And then the fruits! The pregnant winds from the dew-
dropping south, since Lang Syne, have hardly been so prod-
igal; the ruddy flushing from under the green leaves of
shiny clusters, deepens all the air, and clothes the trees right
  We came back half mourning at our lot being cast amidst
the stifling streets of Gotham, and more than half envying




the "country folk" this prodigality of "the benedictions of
the covering heavens" and teeming earth.
  But, thanks to our stars, we were not always thus " cribbed,
cabined, and confined 1" That we have a heart still, and some
few tears left, to be spilt on occasion, we attribute solely to
the fact that we have lived much abroad in the freedom of
God's own woods and plains and rivers-that our voice has

               "Awaked the courteous Echo
           To give us answer from her mossy couch,"

in some strange, far places.
  We have met this same master Bobby Linkum masquerading
in another dress through the savannahs of the pleasant south,
and such tricks before high Heaven as the gad-about doth
play, must make the angels smile-not " weep"-to witness I
  But be comforted, thou of little locomotion! thou shalt
know, even at thine own fire-side, this fantastical, as well in
his remoter wanderings toward the tropics, as in his love-
making time in thine own meadows-for

                             " Audubon I
        Thou Raphael of great Nature's woods and seas!"

has been upon his track He with the

            " Power to bear the untravelled soul
        Through farthest wilds-o'er ocean's stormy roll-
        And to the prisoner of disease bring home
        The homeles bird of ocean's roaring foam !"

Hear what he caught master Bobby at:
  "During their sojourn in Louisiana, in spring, their song,
which is extremely interesting, and emitted with a volubility
bordering on the burlesque, is heard from a whole party at
the same time; when, as each individual is, of course, pos-
sessed of the same musical power as his neighbors, it becomes




amusing to listen to thirty or forty of them beginning one
after another, as if ordered to follow in quick succession,
after the first notes given by a leader, and producing such a
medley as it is impossible to describe, although it is extremely
pleasant to bear it. While you are listening, the whole flock
simultaneously ceases, which appears equally extraordinary.
This curious exhibition takes place every time that the flock
has alighted on a tree, after feeding for awhile on the ground,
and is renewed at intervals during the day."
  But these are not all the curious ways Robert has.
  He is very fashionable, and like the other " absentee" gen-
try of the south, follows the spring toward the north to do
his courting. Now this is very sagacious of master Rob-
for he is aware that " spruce and jocund" maiden has a way
of making up for her shorter stay in these boreal regions, by
the displaying a greater profusion of "beck and nod, and
wreathed smiles !"
  Sometimes the gallant is in too great a hurry to get the
benefit of these sweet dispensations, and he reaches the am-
orous vicinage before his " sparking suit" has come out-(the
change usually occurs during his transit).
  Robert is so evidently mortified at the want of his " Sun-
day-go-to-meetins" at such a time, that Mr. Audubon puts forth
the insinuation that the feathered "M Mercutio" appears rather
mopish for awhile ;-such a volcanic heart has he, though,
that in spite of this, " no sooner does a flock of females (who
follow from a week to ten days after) make its appearance,
than these dull-looking gentlemen immediately pay them
such particular attention, and sing so vehemently, that the
fact of their being of a different sex becomes undeniable."
  Rob gets his fine clothes on at last, and, while the love-
season lasts, becomes more sprightly than ever.
  " Their song is mostly performed in the air, while they are
rising and falling in successive jerks, which are as amusing
as the jingling of their vocal essays. The variety of their
colors is at this juncture very remarkable. It is equally so,




when, on rising among from the grass and flying away from
the observer, they display the pure black and white of their
wings and body."
  That love-song of Rob's has been greatly admired, and
several efforts have been made by distinguished amateurs to
set its music to words.
  Nobody has made much of it, except our Irving, and as
we cannot quote him here, we shall not attempt to do it our-
self I-for the truth is, Rob is such a rattling, voluble, reck-
less, mad, melodious ranter, that an attempt to translate him
is almost out of the question-indeed, it would take a folio
of MS. to give all the little cataract of tender epithets that
pours in liquid gushes from his blithe throat, as he goes flut
tering and wagging up and down from one tall mullien top
to another!
  But Robert is in love, and sober people should not judge
him hardly-if they loved any one heartily as he loves Mrs.
Mary Linkum-hid away yonder in the grass, brooding over
those five speckled eggs-and their hearts were as light as
his, they would be garrulous too-that is all! Ah, Bobby !
Bobby! we fear you are but a graceless scamp at last-to
think! that after such a mirthful life of musical lunacy, you
should turn freebooter before the year is out, and get your-
self shot at. Mr. Audubon tells a sad tale of your after do-
ings. We have misgivings you're a dissipated, rollicking
bird, at best, Rob!
  ' No sooner have the young left the nest, than they and
their parents associate with other families, so that by the end
of July large flocks begin to appear. They seem to come
from every portion of the Eastern States, and already resort
to the borders of the rivers and estuaries to roost. Their
songs have ceased, their males have lost their gay livery, and
have assumed the yellow hue of the females and young, al-
though the latter are more firm in their tints than the old
males, and the whole begin to return southward, slowly and
with a single clink, sufficient, however, to give intimation of




their passage, as they fly in high files during the whole
  "Now begin their devastations. They plunder every field,
but are shot in immense numbers. As they pass along the
sea-shores, and follow the muddy edges of the rivers, cover-
ed at that season with full-grown reeds, whose tops are bent
down with the weight of the ripe seeds, they alight amongst
them in countless multitudes, and afford abundant practice
to every gunner.
  "It is particularly towards sunset, and when the weather is
fine, that the sport of shooting Red Birds is most profitable.
They have then fully satiated their appetite, and have col-
lected together for the purpose of roosting. At the discharge
of a gun, a flock sufficient to cover several acres rises en masse,
and performing various evolutions, densely packed, and re-
sembling a sultry cloud, passes over and near the sportsman,
when he lets fly, and finds occupation for some time in pick-
ing up the dozens which he has brought down at a single
shot. One would think that every gun in the country has
been put in requisition. Millions of these birds are destroy-
ed, and yet millions remain, for after all the havoc that has
been made among them in the Middle Districts, they follow
the coast, and reach the rice plantations of the Carolinas in
such astonishing numbers, that no one could conceive their
flocks to have been already thinned. Their flesh is extreme-
ly tender and juicy. The markets are amply supplied, and
the epicures have a glorious time of it."
  We have a charming counterpart of Robert in the South
and West, among the Orioles. He is called the Orchard or
Parson Oriole, from the soberness of his garments; but O!
commend us to such Parsons as he-the merry " clerk of
Copenhurst" would be demure beside him I-The gleeful,
thoughtless, sinner! he can't go from one tree-top to an-
other, (for he is more ambitious than Rob, and swings his
grass-wove hammock from pinnacle orchard boughs,) without
ranting in such a glad, rattle-pate, glorious fashion about his




happiness, keeping time with his wings as he flutters and
dives along, that one cannot help feeling he is about to go
all to pieces in his ecstasy; be verily fragmented into sweet
  But no such thing; he's a tough little preacher of cheerful-
ness, and holds together with all that riotous, jolly rantipole.
  Ah, how we have laughed on a spring morning, to wit-
ness his delirious bliss, as he went exhorting by, to his so-
berer neighbors, about love and sunshine, the dew and flow-
ers; bugs and caterpillars too, no doubt!
  " Hail to thee, blithe spirit! "-thou embodied joy! winged
laughter!-pleasant indeed is thy faith of mirth, and wiser
far than that of canting! Mr. Audubon gives a felicitous
account of the funny, ingenious ways of this jollificating
  " No sooner have they reached the portion of the country in
which they intend to remain during the time of raising their
young, than these birds exhibit all the liveliness and vivacity
belonging to their nature. The male is seen rising in the air
from ten to twenty yards in an indirect manner, jerking his
tail and body, flapping his wings, and singing with remark-
able impetuosity, as if under the influence of haste, and anx-
ious to return to the tree from which he has departed. He
accordingly descends with the same motions of the body and
tail, repeating his pleasing song as he alights. These gam-
bols and carollings are performed frequently during the day,
the intervals being employed in ascending or descending
along the branches and twigs of different trees, in search of
insects or larva-. In doing this, they rise on their legs, sel-
dom without jetting the tail, stretch the neck, seize the prey,
and emit a single note, which is sweet and mellow, although
in power much inferior to that of the Baltimore. At other
times, it is seen bending its body downwards, in a curved
posture, with the head gently inclined upwards, to peep at
the under parts of the leaves, so as not to suffer any grub to
escape its vigilance. It now alights on the ground, where it




has spied a crawling insect, and again flies towards the blos.
soms, in which many are lurking, and devours hundreds of
them each day; thus contributing to secure to the farmer the
hopes which he has of the productiveness of his orchard.
  " The arrival of the females is marked with all due regard,
and the males immediately use every effort in their power to
procure from them a return of attention. Their singings and
tricks are performed with redoubled ardor, until they are
paired, when nidification is attended to with the utmost ac-
tivity. They resort to the meadows, or search along the
fences for the finest, longest, and toughest grasses they can
find, and having previously fixed on a spot, either on an
apple-tree, or amidst the drooping branches of the weeping-
willow, they begin by attaching the grass firmly and neatly
to the twigs more immediately around the chosen place.
The filaments are twisted, passed over and under, and inter-
woven in such a manner as to defy the eye of a man to fol-
low their windings. All this is done by the bill of the bird,
in the manner used by the Baltimore Oriole. The nest is of
a hemispherical form, and is supported by the margin only.
It seldom exceeds three or four inches in depth, is open al-
most to the full extent of its largest diameter at the top or
entrance, and finished on all sides, as well as within, with
the long slender grasses already mentioned. Some of these
go round the nest several times, as if coarsely woven together.
This is the manner in which the nest is constructed in Lou-
isiana: in the Middle Districts it is usually lined with soft
and warm materials.'
  On the whole, in this instance, we like the Southern Par-
son best; for, in addition to being quite as facetious and lov-
ing as Master Rob, he proves to be a much better citizen;
for his admirers, instead of having their sense of propriety
shocked, in seeing him turn wholesale plunderer, are told of
his " contributing to secure to the farmer his hopes of the
productiveness of his orchard."
  We would advise all ironside philosophers, catechism in




hand, to go to the Sunday school, (for all days are Sundays
to him) where this little Parson teaches:-it is possible such
may learn of more things there than they have dreamed of
   In addition to the healthful tonic of his laughing ethics,
through which their lank sides may grow to shake with fat,
perhaps the Parson, in exhibiting the process by which that
woven domicil of his is constructed, may enlighten them as
to the absurdity of certain dogmatisms concerning instinct.
  Beside the consummate and delicate skill with which he
plies the long, fibrous thread, with small feet and needle-like
bill, weaving, plaiting, sewing-there is something in that
facility of adaptation, which, in Louisiana, exhibits the nest
",coarsely woven," that the air may pass through, and in the
middle States " lined with soft and warm materials," that so
curiously resembles "reasoning;" that is amazingly like an
independent volition, guided by the familiar and simple pro-
cess of " Induction I" Who knows  " A little bird told me
  The Parson is indignantly eloquent upon these points
sometimes. He says that he displays quite as much judg-
ment and more foresight, in selecting the locality and ma-
terial of his house, than we "animals on two legs, without
feathers" ever do; that he is bred to be a better artist than
one in a thousand of us; that Orioles are no more compel-
led, by a resistless impulse, to build their houses in a partic-
ular way, without understanding the reason why, than the
Hindoos are, to build Pagodas; that he does understand the
reason perfectly, and it is the plainest imaginable one.
  This particular form is chosen, because it suits his habits,
tastes, and mode of life best, and that, the Chinaman, who
has built his house in the same way (so far as we know) for
three thousand years, can give no better reason.
  That though a particular outline suits him best, and suited
his forefathers the best, yet they have been in the habit of
altering the construction and material; and he knows why,




clearly enough, that in a hot climate it would not do to make
them close and warm, or in a cold climate, open.
  It stands to reason, in the one case, that the young would
be suffocated, in the other, frozen.
  Furthermore, continues the orator, it is all fal lal I the as-
sertion that my young are taught by any such thing as in-
instinct when to pierce the shell; the principle of life has
germin ated, as it does in a grain of corn, in a certain number
of days, under the warmth of my breast, and when the little
fellows begin to get strong, they kick and scuffle in their
prison, and a small aharp cone, on the top of the beak, (which
was put there for the purpose, and drops off in a few days,)
soon cracks the shell, while they are struggling, and then we
help them out.
  And furthermore, my younglings are just as innocently
silly as your younglings, or any other young geese, and will
run into the water, or into the fire just as soon as others,
until they have burnt their toes, or got themselves half-
drowned for their curiosity, and then, as this is not pleasant,
they are satisfied to keep themselves out of such scrapes.
  Do I not go with them all the summer, keeping them out
of difficulties, coaxing and scolding, learning them how to
fly, how to catch bugs, chase butterflies, find caterpillars, to
hide from their enemies, plume themselves, and sing; and
can't you understand, that yet, though I cannot speak He-
brew or English, I speak the