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The world is full of towers which “men began to build and were not able to finish.” The smallest cabin, roofed in and finished, is worth a hundred such Babels; and unless the idea be so good, that some steadier mind takes it up and completes it, the architect of a poor man's cottage lives to better purpose than the mere projector of a triumphal arch or a national monument.
The time is wasted which is spent in habitual story-reading. Because he has a book in his hand, a man is apt to think that therefore he is not idle. But what are you reading ? A tale. And what was the last book you read ? A novel. And the book before that? A historical romance. And why do you read them? Is it for the useful lessons—the fine sentiments—the historical facts ? Or, are not these the things you least care for, and which you are most apt to skip over? And were we to give you a book which contains as many fine sentiments, and useful lessons, and important facts, as any thousand of your favorite fictions, would you promise to read it ? Are you sure that this daily dram-drinking is not hurting your mind? Is it not creating a nausea for wholesome intellectual food? Is it not sending leanness into your soul, and giving you a distaste for the Bible? By inflaming your fancy, is it not spoiling your temper; and by making you the denizen of a hundred fantastic and fairy worlds, is it not robbing the actual, everyday world of an amiable and useful citizen ? Already have you not reached the brink of confirmed intemperance? Is there no craving? no crying, Give, give ? no glistening of the eye as the wine gives its color in the cup ? no gloating over the badge and cognizance which marks the new brochure? Might it not make you a stronger man, a healthier soul, if you tried one year of total abstinence ?
But we hasten to mention how time may be well bestowed. And here we begin with saying that no time is so well employed as that which is spent in deliberate devotion. To acquaint ourselves with God, and to get true and scriptural views of His perfections; to acquire the right affection towards Him; to grow in faith and submission, in cheerfulness and thankfulness ; in love to Jesus Christ, and in longing for the world's salvation: this is piety, and proficiency in this would be incomparably the best and most blessed progress throughout the remaining year. We say deliberate devotion; meaning thereby the deliberateness of one who in prayer seeks communion with God, and who considers what the mercies are, which he ought to ask from his Father in heaven. You may possibly remember some occasion when, hastening off to your daily employment, in the hurry you forgot some essential document or implement; and for the want of it half the day's object was defeated; and, reminded of the want not once, but many times, you said, “I might as lief have stayed at home. Here is a day of fatigue and exertion entirely lost. And so we cry, “Stay ; stop a moment!
You who are rushing out to your daily avocations prayerless, how do you expect to prosper ?" "I have said my prayers. but what did you pray for ? Did you ask God to be your present help all day? Did you say that you would rely on His gracious aid to preserve your temper; to sustain you in truth and uprightness; to give strength to your arm, soundness to your judgment, serenity to your spirit, and prosperity to the work of your hands? For with His presence unbespoken you go out into the day bereft of its most essential provision ; and just as there is an unproductive precipitancy which outruns God's Word and Providence, so will you find that to wait on the Lord is always a wise delay, and that calm devotion is a true economy of time.
The time is spent which, when actually engaged in your calling, is given to its thorough discharge. “ Seest thou a man diligent in his business? He shall stand before kings, he shall not stand before mean men.”. Assiduity and energy in a man's proper employment are essential to mental health and a right social standing; and whether he be a principal or a subaltern, a servant of his country or a trader toiling on his own account, the conscience cannot be clear nor the spirit strong if official duties are slurred carelessly over. The young shopkeeper will teach his Sunday scholars all the better if he comes to them from a week of honest, cheerful industry; and in society, the government clerk, who make a conscience of his duties, will move about a man of weight and worth, whilst his neighbor at the desk, who dawdles over plays and newspapers, is sure to take his proper rank as a trifler or a bore, a butt or a buffoon. Exemplariness in our appointed station is the pedestal on which Providence designs that each man's character shall stand; and no social charms, no civic patriotism, no service in public committees, can earn for the lounging trader or the bungling craftsman the homage of a profound and permanent esteem.
The time is well spent which is devoted to some solid acquirement. In the last year's Report of the Manchester Free Library, it was interesting to find how the longest histories and the most massive works had been grappled by herculean readers among the laboring classes, who had perused them from beginning to end. amongst our own readers we venture to say that there are few who, even in the year's remaining months, might not master a modern language, or learn to read the Greek or Hebrew Testament; or, if they preferred turning to account the languages which they already know, they might obtain such insight to chemistry, or astronomy, or optics, or some one of the real sciences, as would shed over the Creator's works a light of unsuspected loveliness, and fill their own minds with a fund of lasting enjoyment. Or, if even this were deemed too formidable, these eleven months would suffice for perusing and for preserving in its abstracted essence some great master-piece--a history, a commentary, a system of divinity
some work which, carefully conned, would add to the student a life-long staple of conviction and knowledge.
But even better than this last is the time expended on some benevolent undertaking. And who need be at a loss for a labor of love? Not the merchant, whose counting-room or warehouse is full of young men, brought together from all corners of the kingdom, and who, a few years hereafter, may be a blessing or a bane at the farthest ends of the earth. Not “the little maid," who has charge of these children, and whose gentle goodness may guide them to the open arms of the holy and loving Saviour. Not the scholar, who, by popular lectures, may quicken the mind of a drowsy village, or who, by attractive Christian instruction, may purify the tastes and reform the habits of a vicious one. Not the errand-boy, who may teach his letters to the boy who sweeps the crossing, and so put in the way of well-doing a little British brother. Not the lady of the manor, whose gracious influence can convert hovels into homes; and who, in the industrial school and the brightened cottages and the smiling gardens, can multiply her own benignant presence through all the peaceful hamlet. Not the older sister, who to the rest can impart the lesson for which her parents have paid full dear, and who, in transmitting the costly attainment, will perfect her own proficiency, and who, whilst thus acquiring an art which masters cannot teach, will enjoy a pleasure which selfindulgence never knows.
THERE is an ancient blessed book,
Sent down from age to age; Admiring angels bend to look
Upon its hallow'd page. Preserved by wondrous care and skill,
For our instruction given, It speaks of God, and shows his will,
And points the way to heaven.
The burdened soul relief;
In every time of grief.
or fair, This treasure far outshines them all
In worth and beauty rare.
To hear and read aright!
And faith gives place to sight.
THE BIRDS OF THE BIBLE.
NO. XX.- THE KITE.
BY TEE EDITOR.
- The smallest fowls dread foe, the coward Kite." The Kite is a bird of prey; and on that account is mentioned in the law of Moses as unclean and prohibited. It is a species of hawk; and, as there are various species of this bird, the lawgiver includes them all when he says, “the kite after his kind.”
The Hebrew word AJAH, means to cry or clamor. May it not have derived its name from the effect which its appearance, as a bird of prey, produces upon the smaller birds of the grove, which, whenever they discover it, send forth cries of terror and fear, flying in all directions for their safety.
In the Naturalist's Library we have the following description of this bird: “The Kite is distinguished by his forked tail and slowsailing flight, in which he seems perpetually on the wing. He is larger than the common buzzard, which is about twenty inches in length, and four feet and a half in breadth, when measured across the
expansion of the wings. He has large eyes, yellow legs and feet, and black talons. The head and back are of a pale ash hue, which is varied, across the shafts of the feathers, by longitudinal lines. His neck is redish; the feathers covering the inside of the wings are red, with black spots in the centre; and the lesser rows of the wing feathers are partly colored black, red and white.
His habits of life are such as to rank him very properly among birds unclean. “He lives only upon accidental carnage, as almost every
bird of the air is able to make good his retreat against him. He may be, therefore, considered as an insidious thief, who only prowls about, and, when he finds a small bird wounded, or a young chicken strayed too far from the mother, instantly seizes the hour of calamity, and, like a famished glutton, is sure to show no mercy. His hunger, indeed, often urges him to acts of seeming desperation. We have seen one of them fly round and round for a while to mark a cluster of chickens, and then on a sudden dart like lightning upon the unresisting little animal, and carry it off, the hen in vain crying out, and the boys hooting and casting stones to scare it from its plunder. For this reason, of all birds, the kite is the good housewife's greatest tormentor and aversion.
It was above intimated, that the kite, to a good extent, secures his food by watchiug his chances. In this respect he very much resembles a certain class of human beings, who enrich themselves by seizing the opportunities of making speculation out of the ignorance, strife, or misfortune of others. The observant Chaucer has not forgotten to weave this fact into his “Knight's Tale:”
“ We strive, as did the houndes for the bone,
And bare away the bone betwix hem bothe.' Spencer, in his “Faerie Queene," alludes to the well-known fact, that though he very much desires it, the kite is not able to take any smaller birds in a fair chase:
“ The foolish kite, led with licentious will,
With many idle stoups her troubling still." As birds generally elude the aim and pursuit of the kite, he satisfies his ambition by the capture of less agile animals. He consequently feeds pretty extensively upon lizards, small serpents, beetles, locusts, and different kinds of larger worms. For this business he is well situated, being gifted with a quick and keen eye.
The kite builds its nest upon the tops of the tallest trees; and in the south selects for this purpose, with preference, the magnolias and white oaks, which grow tall and splendid. “The nest, says Audubon, “resembles that of the dilapidated tenement of the common American crow, and is formed of sticks slightly put together, along with branches of Spanish moss, pieces of vine bark, and dried leaves."
It lays two and three globular eggs, of a light greenish tint, blotched thickly over with deep chocolate brown and
black. The parents are said to manifest a very peculiar attachment to their young, feeding them with the utmost diligence; and, when danger threatens their nest, take them up and bear them away to secure their safety. Audubon, finding a nest near the Mississippi, upon a tree, hired a negro, who had been a sailor, to climb it and bring down its contents. He first mounted an adjoining tree, and having attained some height, crossed over on the branches to the oak upon which the nest was located. "No sooner had he reached the trunk of the tree on which the nest was placed, than the male was seen hovering about and over it in evident displeasure, screaming and sweeping towards the intruder the higher he advanced. When he attained the branch on which the nest was, the female left her charge, and the pair, infuriated at his daring, flew with such velocity, and passed so close to him, that I expected every moment to see him struck by them.”
The same naturalist tells us, that on one occasion he saw a mother kite feeding her young upon a limb, and shot at them both. “The mother flew in silence, sailed over head long enough to afford me time to reload, returned, and to my great surprise gently lifted her young, and sailing with it to another tree, about thirty yards distant, deposited it there. My feelings at that moment I cannot express. I wished I had not discovered the poor bird; for who could have witnessed without emotion so striking an example of