« PreviousContinue »
morning, the children amused us, by relating how their slumbers had been disturbed by the procession of friars and cavaliers, and other fancied objects, which they had seen, the day before, depicted on the surface of the Pictured Rocks. When the waves subsided, we found great numbers of small white fish cast up on the sands, and noticed fresh ranges of pebbles and boulders, which had been driven up from profounder positions.
This river is a mere torrent, coming down over shelves of sandstone rock. There are still traces of a visit of a party of miners, who were here before the revolutionary war, and cut their names on an isolated rock in the channel. We found, on the west bank, a kind of large whortleberry, called wabosimin, or rabbits’-berry, by the Odjibwas. The common variety of this plant was very abundant in the pine woods, south of their encampment. The sportsmen of our party here brought us the partridge, pigeon, and saw-bill duck, called ozzig, by the Indians. I cannot say that these were regarded with as deep an interest for their distinctive mark in ornithology, as in the gastronomic art; and they were transferred to our culinary department with the zest that travel every where gives to appetite. I apprized you, at the outset, that we did not visit the region to enlarge the boundaries of science, and I have now furnished you a practical illustration of the fact.
While encamped here, a well-filled canoe of Odjibwa Indians entered the river, and came and encamped in our vicinity. We were located on an elevation, bearing a few large pines, and carpeted with the chirniphia, uva ursi, and other plants common to arid sands. Our Indian neighbors pitched in a small valley near by, and soon sent up a cheerful camp-fire, which displayed their location, and revealed their numbers. I sent down, through the intervention of Mrs. S., provisions and presents, and soon had the pleasure of knowing that I had made the whole group happy. The mother of the family shortly after came up, attended by her healthy-looking, bright-eyed, happy children. She addressed Mrs. S. by the term nin dozheemiss ; i. e. my cousin,' and presented her a dish of the wild fruit of the season. While these civilities were interchanged, the men smoked their pipes, with dignified composure, at their camp, having previously been up to offer a shake of the hand, and a bozhoo, and been dismissed with a present of tobacco, “the sacred weed, which is the Indian panacea, certainly for every thing partaking of the character of care. I could not help remarking the ease and confidence inspired in these people, by thus meeting them in their own country, and with the confidence secured by prior acquaintance.
"QUIPS AND QUILLETS! PARAPHRASED.'
And doctor, do you really think
Gone, gone from us !- and shall we see Those tiny hands, that ne'er were still Those sybil-leaves of destiny,
before, Those calm eyes, nevermore?
But ever sported with his mother's hair, Those deep, dark eyes, so warm and bright, Or the plain cross that on her breast she Wherein the fortune of the man
Her heart no more will beat, [wore! Lay slumbering in prophetic light,
To feel the touch of that soft palm, In characters a child might scan? That ever seemed a new supprise, So bright, and gone forth utterly!
Sending glad thoughts up to her eyes, O, sterii word, nevermore!
'To bless him wiih their holy calm
Sweet thoughts, that left her eyes as sweet. The stars of those two gentle eyes
How quiet are the hands Will shine no more on earth;
That wove those pleasant bands! Quench'd are the hopes that had their birth, But that they do not rise and sink, As we watched them slowly rise,
With his calm breathing, I should think Stars of a mother's fate;
That he were dropped asleep; And she would read them o'er and o'er, Alas! too deep, too deep Pondering, as she sate,
Is this his slumber! Over their dear astrology,
Time scarce can number Which she had conned and conned before; The years ere he will wake again ; In her sweet simplicity,
Oh may we see his eye-lids open then!
As the airy gossamere,
Silent, as they were doing wrong. Round glossy leaf, or stump unsightly,
Even to hreaking, with the balmy dew, Tendrils, spreading all about;
(Thai filled with joyous tears its eyes of With a perfect love of all:
He did but float a little way into a load too great for it to bear:
Adown the stream of time, (play, Oh! stern word nevermore!
With dreamy eyes, watching the ripples'
And listening their fairy chime;
Ne'er felt the gale;
And putting to the shore,
While yet 'r was early day, (How mighty in the weakness
Went calmly on his way, Of its uniutored meekness!)
To dwell with us no more! Peep timidly from out its nest;
No jarring did he feel,
No grating on his vessel's keel;
Mingled the waters with the land,
Where he was seen no more:
[birds, The weary weighi that old men must, Gladdening the earth with song,
He bore not to the grave: And guebing harnionies,
He seemed a cherub who had lost his way, Had he but tarried with us long:
And wandered hither; so his stay Oh stern word, nevermore!
With us was short, and 'o was most meet
That he shonld be no delver in earth's clod, How peacefully they rest,
Nor need to pause and cleanse his feet, Cross-folded there
To stand before his God: Upon his little breast,
Oh stern word, nevermore!
THE BIRDS OF SPRING.
BY GEOFFREY CRAYON, GENT.
My quiet residence in the country, aloof from fashion, politics, and the money market, leaves me rather at a loss for important occupation, and drives me to the study of nature, and other low pursuits. Having few neighbors, also, on whom to keep a watch, and exercise habits of observation, I am fain to amuse myself with prying into the domestic concerns and peculiarities of the animals around me; and, during the present season, have derived considerable entertainment from certain sociable little birds, almost the only visiters we have, during this early part of the year.
Those who have passed the winter in the country, are sensible of the delightful influences that accompany the earliest indications of spring; and of these, none are more delightful than the first notes of the birds, There is one modest little sad-colored bird, much resembling a wren, which came about the house just on the skirts of winter, when not a blade of grass was to be seen, and when a few prematurely warm days had given a flattering foretaste of soft weather. He sang early in the dawning, long before sun-rise, and late in the evening, just before the closing in of night, his matin and his vesper hymns. It is true, he sang occasionally throughout the day; but at these still hours, his song was more remarked. He sat on a leafless tree, just before the window, and warbled forth his notes, free and simple, but singularly sweet, with something of a plaintive tone, that heightened their effect.
The first morning that he was heard, was a joyous one among the young folks of my household. The long, death-like sleep of winter was at an end; nature was once more awakening; they now promised themselves the immediate appearance of buds and blossoms. I was reminded of the tempest-tossed crew of Columbus, when, after their long dubious voyage, the field birds came singing round the ship, though still far at sea, rejoicing them with the belief of the immediate proximity of land. A sharp return of winter almost silenced my little songster, and dashed the hilarity of the household ; yet still he poured forth, now and then, a few plaintive notes, between the frosty pipings of the breeze, like gleams of sunshine between wintry clouds.
I have consulted my book of ornithology in vain, to find out the name of this kindly little bird, who certainly deserves honor and favor far beyond his modest pretensions. He comes like the lowly violet, the most unpretending, but welcomest of flowers, breathing the sweet promise of the early year.
Another of our feathered visiters, who follow close upon of winter, is the Pe-wit, or Pe-wee, or Phæbe-bird ; for he is called by each of these names, from a fancied resemblance to the sound of his monotonous note. He is a sociable little being, and seeks the habitation of man. A pair of them have built beneath my porch, and have reared several broods there, for two years past, their nest being never disturbed. They arrive early in the spring, just when the crocus
the steps and the snow-drop begin to peep forth. Their first chirp spreads gladness through the house. • The Phæbe-birds have come !' is heard on all sides; they are welcomed back like members of the family; and speculations are made upon where they have been, and what countries they have seen, during their long absence. Their arrival is the more cheering, as it is pronounced, by the old weather-wise people of the country, the sure sign that the severe frosts are at an end, and that the gardener may resume his labors with confidence.
About this time, too, arrives the blue-bird, so poetically yet truly described by Wilson. His appearance gladdens the whole landscape. You hear his soft warble in every field. He sociably approaches your habitation, and takes up his residence in your vicinity. But why should I attempt to describe him, when I have Wilson's own graphic verses, to place him before the reader?
When winter's cold tempests and snows are no more,
Green meadows and brown furrowed fields rëappearing,
And cloud-cleaving geese to the lakes are a-steering;
When red glow the maples, so fresh and so pleasing,
And hails with his warblings the charms of the season.
The loud-piping frogs make the marshes to ring;
Then warm glows the sunsbine, and warm glows the weather;
And spice-wood and sassafras budding together;
Your walks border up, sow and plant ai your leisure;
Thai all your hard toils will seem truly a pleasure!
He fits through the orchard, he visits each tree,
The red flowering peach, and the apple's sweet blossoms;
And seizes the castiffs that lurk in their bosoms;
The worms from the webs where they riot and welter;
And all that he asks is, in summer a shelter.
The ploughman is pleased when he gleans in his train,
Now searching the furrows, now inounting to cheer bim;
And leans on his spade to survey and to hear him.
While gazing intent, as he warbles before them,
That each little loiterer scems to adore him.
The happiest bird of our spring, however, and one that rivals the European lark, in my estimation, is the Boblincon, or Boblink, as he is commonly called. He arrives at that choice portion of our year, which, in this latitude, answers to the description of the month of May, Bo often given by the poets. With us, it begins about the middle of May, and lasts until nearly the middle of June. Earlier than this, winter is apt to return on its traces, and to blight the opening beauties of the year; and later than this, begin the parching, and panting, and dissolving heats of summer. But in this genial interval, nature
is in all her freshness and fragrance : 'the rains are over and gone, the flowers, appear upon the earth, the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in the land. The trees are now in their fullest foliage and brightest verdure; the woods are gay with the clustered flowers of the laurel; the air is perfumed by the sweet-briar and the wild rose; the meadows are enamelled with clover-blossoms; while the young apple, the peach, and the plum, begin to swell, and the cherry to glow, among the
This is the chosen season of revelry of the Boblink. He comes amidst the pomp and fragrance of the season; his life seems all sensibility and enjoyment, all song and sunshine. He is to be found in the soft bosoms of the freshest and sweetest meadows; and is most in song,
when the clover is in blossom. He perches on the topmost twig of a tree, or on some long flaunting weed, and as he rises and sinks with the breeze, pours forth a succession of rich tinkling notes ; crowding one upon another, like the outpouring melody of the skylark, and possessing the same rapturous character. Sometimes he pitches from the summit of a tree, begins his song as soon as he gets upon the wing, and flutters tremulously down to the earth, as if overcome with ecstacy at his own music. Sometimes he is in pursuit of his paramour; always in full song, as if he would win her by his melody; and always with the same appearance of intoxication and delight.
Of all the birds of our groves and meadows, the Boblink was the envy of my boybood. He crossed my path in the sweetest weather, and the sweetest season of the year, when all nature called to the fields, and the rural feeling throbbed in every bosom; but when I, luckless urchin! was doomed to be mewed up, during the livelong day, in that purgatory of boyhood, a school-room. It seemed as if the little varlet mocked at me, as he flew by in full song, and sought to taunt me with his happier lot. Oh, how I envied him! No lessons, no tasks, no hateful school ; nothing but holiday, frolic, green fields, and fine weather. Had I been then more versed in poetry, I might have addressed him in the words of Logan to the cuckoo :
Sweet bird! thy bower is ever green,
Thy sky is ever clear;
No winter in thy year.
Oh! could I fly, I'd fly with thee;
We'd make, on joyful wing,
Companions of the spring !
Farther observation and experience have given me a different idea of this little feathered voluptuary, which I will venture to impart, for the benefit of my school-boy readers, who may regard him with the same unqualified envy and admiration which I once indulged. I have shown him only as I saw him at first, in what I may call the poetical part of his career, when he in a manner devoted himself to elegant pursuits and enjoyments, and was a bird of music, and song, and laste, and sensibility, and refinement. While this lasted, he was sacred from injury; the very school-boy would not fling a stone at him, and the