« AnteriorContinuar »
THE BIRDS OF THE BIBLE.
THE PELICAN. This bird of the Bible is a native of Africa; though it was also known anciently in Asia. Late travellers have seen it upon the Lakes of Gennesaret and Merone, and in the rocky cliffs of Accho, in Galilee. It is also known in America ; and anciently it was found in Europe, especially in Russia, but is said to be found no more in that part of the world.
Goldsmith gives us a very minute and satisfactory description of this interesting fowl. “The Pelican of Africa is much larger in the body than a swan, and somewhat of the same shape and color. Its four toes are all webbed together, and its neck, in some measure, resembles that of a swan; but that singularity in which it differs from all other birds, is in the bill and the great pouch underneath, which are wonderful, and demand a distinct description. This enormous bill is fifteen inches from the point to the opening of the mouth, which is a good way back, behind the eyes. At the base the bill is somewhat greenish, but varies towards the end, being of a reddish blue. It is very thick in the beginning, but tapers off toward the end, where it hooks downwards. The under chap is still more extraordinary; for to the lower edges of it hangs a bag, reaching the whole length of the bill to the neck, which is said to be capable of containing fifteen quarts of water. This bag, the bird has a power of wrinkling up into the hollow of the under chap; but by opening the bill, and putting one's hand down into the bag, it may be distended at pleasure. The skin of which it is formed will then be seen of a bluish ash-color, with many fibres and veins running over its surface. It is not covered with feathers, but a short downy substance as smooth and as soft as satin, and is attached all along the under edges of the chap, to be fixed backward to the neck of the bird by proper ligaments, and reaches near half way down. When this bag is empty it is not seen ; but when the bird has fished with success, it is then incredible to what an extent it is often seen dilated. For the first thing the pelican does in fishing is to fill up the bag, and then it returns to digest its burden at leisure. When the bill is opened to its widest extent, a person may run his head into the bird's mouth, and conceal it in this monstrous pouch, thus adapted for very singular purposes. Yet this is nothing to what Ruysch assures us, who avers that a man has been seen to hide his whole leg, boot and all, in the monstrous jaws of one of these
animals. At first appearance this would seem impossible, as the sides of the under chap, from which the bag depends, are not above an inch asunder when the bird's bill is first opened ; but then they are capable of great separation; and it must necessarily be so, as the bird preys upon the largest fishes, and hides them by dozens in its pouch. Tertre affirms, that it will hide as many fish as will serve sixty hungry men for a meal."
The Pelican is the largest of swimming birds. Arabs call it the River Camel-Gimel el Bahr, as also they call the true Camel, Land Ships; the American Pelican is brown; the African white; and those that inhabit the Island of Manilla, are said to be rose-colored.
This bird is very reluctant in its motions, slow in its flight, and it only becomes active when it is pressed by the gnawings of hunger. In this respect it reseinbles some rational beings, who will only labor for food; and they do so only because they choose rather to stir than to starve! When these fowls go abroad in search of food, “they raise themselves about thirty or forty feet above the surface of the sea, and then turn their head with one eye downward, and continue to fly in that posture. As soon as they perceive a fish sufficiently near the surface, they dart down upon it with the swiftness of an arrow, seize it with unerring certainty, and store it up in their pouch.” They then rise and watch for fish as before. When their bag is full, they fly to land, and leisurely devour the fruits of their toil.
The Pelican is a sad and melancholy bird. It seeks some solitary place in a ravine, or along ledges of rocks, where it sits upon a high branch in gloomy loneliness, as if half asleep, until forced to go out in search of food. Its attitude, when it sits alone, is peculiarly meditative; it rests its head upon the great bag, and both upon the breast, and thus with a kind of dismal solemnity dreams the hours away. It is this lonely habit of this fowl that explains that passage: Psalm 102, 6; in which the sorrowful Psalmist sits in sorrow and bewails the sad condition of his country and its altars : “I am like a pelican of the wilderness !" A very impressive allusion, to one who knows the habit of this bird.
Besides this it is only mentioned in Lev. 11:18, and Deut. 14:17, where it is classed among unclean birds. Some think that this bird is identical with the Cormorant; and that it is alluded to under this name in Is. 34: 11, and Zeph. 2: 14. Luther translates these passages Rohrdommel, like that in a Ps. 102: 6.
It is said that by means of its vast pouch, or bag, it carries large quantities of water far into the wilderness, where itdeposits it, as in small lakes, in the hollow of rocks, from which the wants of its young are supplied. In this way, without intending it, the pelican sometimes does important service to the traveller in the wilderness, who by means of these cisterns quenches his burning thirst! The thirsty Camel, we are told, discovers the scent of water from a great distance, and thus often is led to refresh itself from the stores of the pelican.
Among the ancients we find admirable qualities, transcendant social virtues and affections, ascribed to this bird. It was said that it opens the veins in its own breast, and feeds its young with its own blood! This has been pronounced fabulous. The idea no doubt derived its origin from the fact that, in feeding its young, it is in the habit of squeezing the food, or the juice of the food, deposited in its bag, into their mouths, by strongly compressing this bag upon its breast with its bill. This action, says Shaw, might easily give occasion to the received tradition and report, that the pelican, in feeding her young, pierces her own breast, and nourishes them with her blood.
Not sad, not long,
When Time, now old, was flying
And the red rose was lying
Sing o'er the bier!
He's gone who late was here,
A song to each brief geagon,
For some sweet human reason-
THE BLISS OF SORROW.
Tears that eternal love sheddeth !
THE LITTLE STRAW HAT.
Could Memory's hand restore
From Time's grey urn once more-
This straining eye might close,
While the fair phantoms rose.
We strive against the stream,
Where life's young fountains gleam --
And wilder rolls the sea ;
OLIVER W. HOLMES.
SUNDAY TRAVELLING. The following is from a Lancaster Paper. It speaks volumes on the fourth commandment. Let Sabbath travellers learn a lesson:
“ACCIDENT ON THE RAILROAD.-A serious accident happened on the Columbia Railroad, near Christiana, on Sunday morning last. The hind car of the train east was thrown off the track and precipitated down an embankment some 20 feet, and twice that distance into a field. Charles Bartberger had both arms and thigh fractured. Edward Morganroth, of Pittsburg, had his ankle sprained and was much bruised, and Aaron Coburn and several others were slightly injured. The two former are lying at Christiana hotel. The accident happened in consequence of a rail on the road being broken. During the accident the stove was upset, setting fire to the car, which was completely destroyed, together with a gold watch and chain, carpet bag and hat, belonging to Judge Wright of Clearfield county; also several other carpet bags belonging to passengers." - We have noticed for some time past, that by far the largest number of accidents—judgments we call them when they take place on Sabbath-on the railroad near us, have happened in the very act of violating the law of the Sabbath. Is it a wonder that God should smash such as dare Him and His authority in the broad light of heaven! What an awful thing it must be to be hurled into the presence of God in the very act of defying his law! What must be the reflections, if they reflect at all, of those who bear through life maimed and broken limbs, received while breaking the Sabbath!
And there was a Judge also in this daring business of violating at once both divine and human law. A pretty Judge ! And dost thou sit in the stool of justice, and command ragged culprits to be smitten according to law, while thou thyself treadest it under thy feet, thou whited wall !