Imágenes de páginas
[ocr errors]

The seed grows and the mead is in flower,
And the wood springs (or sbools) now.

Sing cuckoo.
The ewe bleats after the lamb,
The cow lows after the calf,

The bullock starts,

The buck verts (goes to barbor in the fern,)
Merrily sings the cuckoo,

Cuckoo, cuckoo ;
Well singest thou cuckoo,

Mayest thou never cease.” The voice of the cuckoo is peculiar. There is something in it which touches the emotional in us, and awakens an association of ideas like the coo of the dove, pleasant and mournful.

6 Its note,” says one, “seldom occurs to the memory without reminding us of the sweets of summer;” and, we may add, of times and friends departed. With all its uniformity, and even monotony of note, like those old German chorals which our fathers and mothers sung, and which we heard in our childhood, it weaves its song into our memories, never to be forgotten, and never to be heard again without deep emotion. Chaucer alludes to the note of cuckoo as sad, calls it “the sorry bird,” and addresses it thus:

" Veve sorrow on thee, and on thy leud vois,

Full little joy have I now of thy cry.' Ancient fable has not overlooked our bird, and the father of the gods himself assumed its form, in which to introduce himself to Juno. We have also an account of its disputing with the nightingale its claims to the highest power of song. Chaucer has given us a beautiful poetical account of this contest, in his poem of “The Cuckoo and the Nightingale.” We give a specimen, which will be found quite honorable to our bird, as it shows by far the greatest amount of modesty, the strongest reasons, and the most good nature. The nightingale meeting it in the grove, addresses it rather dictatorially thus :

“Now, good cuckow, go somewhere away,
And let us that can singen dwellen here,
For every wight escheweth thee to here,

Thy songs be so elenge, in good fay.”
To which the cuckoo meekly but forcibly replies:

“What may the aylen now?
It thinketh me I sing as well as thou,
For my song is both true and plaine,
And though I cannot crackell so in vaine,
As thou dost in thy throte, I wot never bow.
And every wight may understand mee,
But, nightingale, so may they not done thee,
For thou hast many a nice queint cry,
And I have thee heard saine, ocy, ocy,

How might I knewn what that should be." The nightingale goes on to explain, that by his “ocy” he means that all should "be shamefully yslaine” who say aught against love: thus uncharitably reflecting upon the cuckoo. Our bird, in answer, undertakes to make some severe strictures upon love, in which it plainly reproves that sickly, sentimental passion which its rival regarded as the height of pure love. Whereupon both nightingale and poet turn against it in wrath and rage, thus proving that neither knew the nature of pure love. The poet himself confesses his most uncharitable conduct thus :

I stert anon,
And to the broke I ran and gat a ston,
And at the cuckow hertely I cast :
And be for drede flie away full fast,

And glad was I when that he was gon.” When it sings or chants in the marsh, thicket, or orchard, one is singularly puzzled to find where the voice comes from, how near or how far off it is, and whether on this side or that. This, and the peculiar effect which its note produces upon the listener, referred to in a preceding page, Wordsworth has beautifully embodied and expressed in his touching poem on the cuckoo:

“O blithe new.comer! I have heard,

I hear thee and rejoice.
O cuckoo, shall I call thee Bird,

Or but a wandering Voice?
While I am lying on the grass

Tby two-fold shout I hear,
That seems to fill the whole air's space,

As loud far off as near.
Though babbling only to the vale,

Of sunsbine and of flowers,
Thou bringest uoto me a tale

Of visionary hours.
Thrice welcome, darling of the spring!

Even yet thou art to me
No Bird: but an invisible Thing,

A voice, a mystery;
The same who in my school. boy days

I listened to that cry
Which made me look a thousand ways

In busb, and tree, and sky.
To seek thee did I often rove

Through woods and on the green;
And thou wert still a hope, a love;

Still longed for, never seen.
And I can listez to thee yet;

Can lie upon the plain
And listen, till I do beget

That golden time again.
O blessed Bird! the earth we pace

Again appears to be
An unsubstantial, fairy place,

That is fit home for thee!" The ancients have not failed to associate many mystic and mysterious powers and virtues with the cuckoo. Pliny says that when

[ocr errors]

it is wrapped in the skin of a hare, and applied to a patient, it will cause him to sleep. Its ashes were regarded as a sovereign remedy for disorders of the stomach. It was also said to furnish a specific against the bite of a mad dog. The Romans imagined that the very sound of its voice, when accompanied by certain ceremonies, had the power of producing domestic comfort. It was, moreover, firmly believed that if any one, when he heard its note for the first time in the spring, took the earth upon which his foot rested at the time, “not a flea would be hatched wherever that earth was scattered.” As to matters of love, wo unto the wight who heard the nightingale before he had heard the cuckoo. Thus Chaucer tells us

“ Lovers had a tokening, And among them it was a commune tale That it were good to hear the nightingale

Rather than the leud cuckoo sing." These fancies have passed away with the age and generations in the midst of which they reigned. If we are wiser now, let us be thankful, and not forget that being wiser without being better will only increase our condemnation in the end. Let us be thankful especially for that pure christianity, of the existence and truth of which all superstition is a sure prophecy; and while the uncertain moonlight. of error is waning, let us hail with joy the Sun of Righteousness—the true light of the world.

Now, farewell, cuckoo ! With our memories of thee we will associate the coming of an eternal spring!

Hail, beauteous stranger of the grove !

Thou messenger of spring!
Now heaven repairs thy rural seat,

And woods thy welcome sing.
What time the daisy decks the green,

Thy certain voice we hear;
Hast thou a star to guide thy path,

Or mark the rolling year?
Delightful visitant! with thee

I hail the time of flowers,
And hear the sound of music sweet

From birds among the bowers.
The school boy, wandering through the wood

To pluck the primrose gay,
Starts the new voice of spring to hear,

And imitates tby lay.
What time the pea puts on the bloom,

Thou fliest thy vocal vale,
An acnual quest in other lands,

Another spring to hail.
Sweet bird ! tby bower is ever green,

Thy sky is ever clear;
Thou hast no gorrow in thy song,
No winter in thy year!

O could I fly, I'd fly with the?!

We'd make, with joyful wing,
Our annual visit o'er tbe globe,

Companions of the spring.

AMERICAN YOUNG MEN. AMERICAN history presents many remarkable instances of young men taking prominent and commanding stations at an age which would be thought very young in other

countries. We subjoin a few striking examples, from the list of those who have passed off the stage of human action.

At the age of 29, Mr. Jefferson was an influential member of the legislature of Virginia. At 30 he was a member of the Virginia Convention; at 32 a member of the Continental Congress ; and at 33 he wrote the Declaration of Independence.

Alexander Hamilton was only 20 years of age when he was appointed a lieutenant-colonel in the army of the Revolution, and aid-de-camp to Washington. At 25 he was a member of the Continental Congress; at 30 he was one of the ablest members of the Convention which framed the Constitution of the United States; at 32 he was Secretary of the Treasury and organized that branch of the government upon so complete and comprehensive a plan that no great change of improvement has since been made upon it.

John Jay, at 29 years old, was a member of the Continental Congress, and wrote an address to the people of Great Britain, which was justly regarded as one of the most eloquent productions of the times. At 32 he prepared the Constitution of the State of New York, and in the same year was appointed Chief Justice of the State.

Washington was 27 years of age when he covered the retreat of the British troops at Braddock's defeat; and the same year was honored by an appointment as Commander-in-Chief of the Virginia forces.

Joseph Warren was 29 years of age when he delivered the memorable address on the 5th of March, which roused the spirit of patriotism and liberty in his section of the country; and at 34: he gloriously fell in the cause of freedom on Bunker Hill.

Fisher Ames, at the age of 27, had excited public attention by the ability he displayed in the discussion of questions of public interest. At the age of 30 his masterly speeches in defence of the Constitution of the United States had exerted great influence, so that the youthful orator of 31 was elected to Congress from the Suffolk district over the Revolutionary hero, Samuel Adams.

De Witt Clinton entered public life at 28; Henry Clay at 26. The most youthful signer of the Declaration of Independence was William Hooper, of North Carolina, whose age was but 24.



SOME lap-dogs are very pretty little creatures. Careful feeding and good keeping contributes much to their appearance. When not well washed and combed and fed and nursed, they soon grow rough and ugly; and they then lose that admiratior. usually bestowed upon a clean, sleek, fat dittle fellow, when, for instance, he makes his appearance as he peeps out, after a pleasant nap, from his snug nesting place in the arms of his fond mistress. There is a great deal of prejudice for and against lap-dogs. While some consider them a nuisance which ought to be speedily abated, there are others who fold them still caressingly to their bosoms and vehemently declare them to be the dearest, sweetest little creatures alive.

Are lap-dogs useful? This question may be started and many matter-of-fact people answer it with a decided negative. Without repeating the arguments usually aduced on this side of the question, we beg its advocates to have patience at least till we present the other side's arguments, in the compend to which we have reduced them, in the light of the “Philosophy of Natural History."

Philosophically considered, then, in this view, the lap-dog belongs to the canine species. Now the dog, in general, it is known, is a very useful animal. The utility, sagacity, cleverness, intelligence and fidelity of the dog need not be enlarged upon here in this connection. The Newfoundland, the terrier, the hound and the water-dog, may speak for themselves-philosophically, if they can, if not, some other way. If the canine species in general be useful, then the families or varieties are useful also. And, besides, all the creatures of God are designed to be, in some sense, useful to man. Therefore the lap-dog is useful, in view of his relations just considered.

How are lap-dogs useful? may be asked by some one now more favorably disposed in this direction than formerly. In different ways. First, they find, or rather furnish employment for some ladies, who otherwise could not possibly pass away their precious time. But for this, according to their own accounts, they would positively die. They are so oppressed with ennui, by a superabundance of time on hand, that the care and fondling of a lapdog is the only thing in God's creation that is worthy to engage their attention and energies, and thus enable them by some possibility to live. For, suppose they would take a poor, half-starved, half-naked orphan from the neglect and dirt in which many are always to be found, and bestow the same care and attention upon itthat would be too much like degrading labor for such ladies.

« AnteriorContinuar »