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And now the twiny snare the beach bespreads,
Is next to note down each assistant there;
For then in quick succession will arise,
And yet, poor harmless offsprings of the deep!
Thus death approaching, veils the sparkling sight,
Any fisherman possessing a Seine, is denominated the Owner, or Muster, and is regarded as a wealthy man in such small villages, where the value of the net is deemed a little fortune.'
2. It is absolutely impossible to witness the dying agonies of these variegated and beautiful creatures, without yielding to the most painful emotions; and when the eye is led to contemplate the diversity and brightness of the colouring they assume, while in their last moments, it is apparent that their corporeal sufferings must be of the most acute kind. It is scenes like these that afford an ample field for the gluttonous appetite of the Hollander, so partial to the finny race, who, although accustomed to kill the fish the moment they are caught, is led to this apparent meritorious conduct from a desire to pamper his own appetite, and not from any sentiment of feeling towards the suffering animal.'
* See the pleasing poem of the FISHER BOY,' pp. 20-24.
Dry weather is still acceptable to the farmer, who is employed in sowing various kinds of grain, and seeds for fodder, as buck-wheat, lucerne, saintfoin, clover, &c. The young corn and springing-grass, however, are materially benefited by occasional
The barbarity of shooting hares at this season, a circumstance, we trust, but of rare occurrence, as these interesting animals are now with young, has given birth to a beautiful little poem by the bard who must ever be remembered as Scotland's glory and her shame.' He thus feelingly alludes to the circumstance: One morning lately, as I was out pretty early in the fields sowing some grass-seeds, I heard the burst of a shot from a neighbouring plantation, and presently a poor little wounded hare came crippling by me. You will guess my indignation at the inhuman fellow who could shoot a hare at this season, when they all of them have young ones. Indeed there is something in that business of destroying, for our sport, individuals in the animal creation that do not injure us materially, which I could never reconcile to my ideas of virtue.'
On seeing a Fellow wound a Hare with a Shot, April 1789.
No more the thickening brakes or verdant plains
The playful pair croud fondly by thy side:
Ah! helpless nurslings, who will now provide
See Robert Burns's Works, vol. ii, p. 229, 8vo edit, 1809.
The spring flight of pigeons (columbæ) appears in this month, or early in the next. Pigeons are very prolific; they have but two at a time, and will breed seven or eight times in the year: the species called monthly pigeons produce young ones almost every month. From one pair of these birds it is computed, that, if properly managed, the astonishing number of 14,760 may be obtained in the course of four years. Mr. Gooch, in his Agricultural Survey of Cambridgeshire (p. 284), says, that, in that county, many dove-houses produce annually one hundred dozen young pigeons, which sell from 2s 6d to 5s per dozen; the produce, however, varies much, and in some instances amounts to a trifle.' One hundred dozen, at 5s the dozen, would yield the great sum of £300. Pigeons, when they first come in, sell sometimes at 15 and 18 pence a-piece.
The stock-dove, or original of the genus columba, in its natural or wild state, is of a deep blue and ash colour; the breast darked with a fine changeable green and purple; the sides of the neck of a reddish gold colour; its wings marked with two black bars, one on the quill feathers, and the other on the covert; the back white, and the tail barred near the end with black. The ring-dove is yet held by naturalists to be distinct from the stock-dove, and it would seem that the turtle-dove is equally so from both.
In this country, the blue dove-house pigeon is the most common, and the only wild species are the ring-doves, or wood pigeons, and the turtle-doves, which are to be found in all parts of South Britain, breeding during the spring and summer, and retiring to the deepest recesses of the woods in the winter season; whence, probably, the turtle has been supposed to emigrate.
But both in the antient and modern world, this beautiful and variegated genus of birds has been cherished by man, as a source of amusement and of
gratification to the eye, as well as of profit in the article of provision for the table. Among certain of the nations of antiquity, however, pigeons were held sacred, and their lives no one dared assail. The useful qualification of messenger, appertaining to the Asiatic and African species of the pigeon, is of high antiquity; and we read, in the time of the Crusades, of an Arabian prince, who had a sort of telegraphic communication kept up, in his dominions, through the instrumentality of pigeons, which carried letters, and were regularly relieved at the appointed posts. From those, doubtless, the breed celebrated in Europe under the name of the carrier has proceeded.
In modern times, those varieties which are kept for the purposes of amusement and show, are styled fancy breeds, and they form a distinct article of commerce in cities and great towns, the varieties, as they chance to be in fashion, bringing a considerable price. In London, the pigeon-fanciers immemorially, we believe, have had a club, in which premiums are awarded, and the notable science of the fancy, through the medium of crossing colours and forms, is promoted and perpetuated. The chief objects of the fancy have hitherto been those varieties styled almond (probably ermine), tumblers, carriers, and the birds with great crops, the most fashionable variety of which is the pouting horseman. The specific merits of these breeds are indicated by their names. The tumbler exercises that faculty in the air, but is chiefly valued for his peculiar form and variegated plumage. The carrier, as a messenger, cuts the air with almost inconceivable swiftness. The pouter distends his crop to a size attractive to curiosity, and, by his grotesque attitudes and familiarity with man, engages his attention. Half a century ago, the pigeon fancy was in higher estimation and prosperity than at present; and the almond tumbler was then in the greatest vogue, such sums, probably, as
twenty or thirty guineas each being the price of superior cocks of that breed, such as, at the present time, would not produce more than five.-(See Mr. Bonington Mowbray's Practical Treatise on Domestic Poultry, &c. p. 178, second edition.)
As a pleasing supplement to the Diary for the present month, we add Mr. Jago's beautiful Elegy of the SWALLOWs,' as it will, probably, be new to many of our readers, and, we trust, agreeable to all.
The ingenious and benevolent writer (says Dr. Aikin '), who, in his Elegies of the Goldfinches and Blackbirds, has pathetically pleaded the rights of humanity with respect to the feathered race, in this piece, from that providential instinct which incites the swallow tribe to launch fearless on the unbounded sky in quest of a retreat from the storms of winter, deduces with persuasive energy the reasonableness of a confidential reliance on the same Providence, in our flight from the stormy regions of this life to a peaceful futurity,
A fine vein of descriptive poetry is intermixed with the moral sentiment of this little piece, so that he has shown himself an elegant observer of nature, as well as a forcible preacher. The return of the swallows, in particular, is beautifully painted, and nothing can be better imagined, or more consonant to the natural history of these birds, than their supposed conversation.
'I cannot but attribute a degree of merit to this poem, higher than its mere poetical excellence might claim, on account of its being the model of a new combination of moral precept with natural description, greatly superior, in many respects, to fable.'
Essay on the Application of Natural History to Poetry, p. 100,