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lage. They considered it as the presage of some sad event; and generally found, or made one to succeed it. I do not speak ludicrously; but if any person in the neighborhood died, they supposed it could not be otherwise, for the night-raven had foretold it; but if nobody happened to die, the death of a cow or a sheep gave completion to the prophecy."
It was once supposed that such sounds could not possibly be produced by so small a bird, and that it must have recourse to some external instruments or helps. The peasants believed formerly, and do still in some parts of the world, that it thrusts its bill into a reed, that serves as a pipe to swell the note beyond its natural and unaided capacity. It was also imagined by some that it produces these wonderful booming sounds by putting its head under water, and then violently blowing. Thomson the poet adopted this idea.
The quaint old poet Chaucer, in “The Wif of Bathe's Tale," showeth, not only that he believed in this respect as Thomson did after him, but also that he had firm faith in the old slander, that woman cannot keep secrets! The whole tale is so full of good old instructive sense, that we must give it entire, not so much for the sake of the bittern, as for the benefit of the reader—and among the readers, not so much for those who can keep secrets, as for those who find it difficult to restrain the impulses of that kind of communicative benevolence which is not always a blessing either to those who receive it or to those who give:
“Ovide, amonges other things smale,
She swore him, nay, for all the world to winne,
I might no longer kepe it out of dout.'
which even uncourteously he maketh the woman's own mouth to speak!
“Here we may see, though we a time abide,
Although it requires us still further to extend this disgression, yet, in justice to the sex against whom this ungracious charge is brought, we must yet remark, that Chaucer belonged to the 14th century; and even though this weakness may have characterized the sex in that age, it does not necessarily follow that it may now still have the same application.
But to return to our bird. It is now, and has been, heretofore, well known that the bittern does not resort to any such helps as have been imagined, in order to make those astonishing sounds, but that it produces them in a perfectly natural way. In the language of an old writer: "That a bittor maketh that mugient noyse, or, as we term it, bumping, by putting its bill into a reed, as most believe, or as Bellonious and Aldrovandus conceive, by putting the same in water or mud, and after a while restraining the ayr by suddenly excluding it again, is not so easily made out." It makes the noise in the natural way.
In day-time the bittern is silent, and seldom seen, It begins its call in the evening, and is heard at intervals, booming six or eight times, and then discontinues the noise for ten or twenty minutes, when it is again renewed. This doleful call it only makes when it is in solitude, and undisturbed. Whenever its retreats are invaded, or it expects or fears the approach of an enemy, it is perfectly silent. Nor has it ever been known to boom in a domesticated state; “it continues, under the control of man, a forlorn bird, equally incapable of attachment or instruction."
Through the summer the bittern manifests great inactivity, and even indolence; it is slow and heavy-winged, and rises with great difficulty and reluctance from the earth.” However, in the latter end of autumn, in the evening, it seems to assume quite another nature, and manifests an altogether different spirit. It then rises up into the air, by a spiral ascent, until it is quite lost to the view, making a very singular noise, quite different from its former boomings. This was anciently observed, and Virgil refers to it in his first Georgic. This difference of habit which characterizes this bird at different times, has caused it, among several nations, to receive names which are directly opposite in their significance. The Latins call it stellaris, the star-reaching bird-while the Greeks, giving it a name corresponding with its more constant habits, call it oknos, or the lazy bird.
As a bird loving solitude, it is properly classed, by the prophet Isaiah, with those doleful birds which should inhabit the desolations of the land of Idumea :
“From generation to generation it shall lie waste :
The owl also and the raven shall dwell in it.
“I make Nineveh a desolation,
And dry like a wilderness ;
All the beasts of the nations :
Their voice shall sing in the windows."
How often is the student of the sacred records challenged to admire the truly wonderful manner in which they constantly and increasingly confirm themselves in the light of the keenest investigations of science. When skimming skepties, going hastily over the surface, discover want of agreement, and even inconsistencies, true science, like a messenger from God, looks devoutly deeper, and discovers, beneath the apparent antagonism of the outward, the deeper basis of a grand and glorious whole. Go on, ye schools, trace still farther back the streams of divine truth, and where they seem lost amid the accumulated fragments of ages, dig still after them, and you will find them the deeper the fresher. Only do it humbly!
THERE is one kind of vice which even bad persons shun, that is ad-vice.
THE RUINS OF NINEVEH.
" Nineveh is laid waste : who will bemoan her ?"
Here, where these weeping willows humbly bend
Inspiring sadness and mysterious fears,
Rank weeds grew out the doors and windows where
I silent sit, and gaze around in solemn awe,
The cormorant returns, with reptiles fed,
Where once through curtained window, and through latticed gator
The raven’s croak, the screech-owl's wailing cry
CONFESS, FORGIVE, AND CHEER UP.
The world goes up, and the world goes down,
And the sunshine follows the rain;
And the night will hallow the day;
SILENT INFLUENCE NEVER DIES. A few years, a very few years, and of us two all that will be left in this earth will be a little dust, and in a few men's minds a few distant recollections of us.
Aubin. Ay, in one man there will be a recollection of your having shown him a curious book; on another's tongue there will be some faint after-taste of a very good dinner of your giving ; in another, there will survive the way you looked in your morning-gown; while in the memory of another, there will be living the tones in which you said he was a good boy. In men's minds a faint remembrance of us, and, six feet deep in the ground, a little blackness in the mould, will be all our remains in the world.
Marham. Then a little while longer, and they will have vanished; and then, ah! then there will be no trace left of our lives ever having been.
Aubin. Been what, uncle ? Not spent in vain.
Marham. I thought, Oliver, you were saying that we should be forgotten soon.
Aubin. So I did. But I did not mean that our lives would ever be unfelt ; for in this world they never will be. Babbage says, that, with every word spoken, the air vibrates, and the particles of it are altered as to their places; that the winds, north, south, east and west, are affected every time I speak; that, with my voice, the atmospheric particles in this room have their places changed, not so as to be any thing to us, but so as, ages hence, to witness to higher minds than ours what we have been saying this afternoon.
Marham. In that way, there is more truth than was intended in what came to be used as a Christian epitaph-Non omnis Moriar, I shall not, all of men, die. For so our idlest words are as lasting as the earth.
Aubin. And so are our actions, and so are our thoughts.
Marham. And more lasting than the earth they are; for by them our everlasting souls are the worse or the better.
Aubin. True. But what I mean besides is, that our influence will last as long as the earth.
Marham. Ours will!
Aubin. Yes, and so will any peasant's. Because, of course, I do not speak of the endurance of names. For they are only one or two persons in a generation, and not ten out of a whole people, who stand in the sun of life in such a way as to have their shadows lengthen down all time.
Marham. You mean, then
Aubin. That my cousins, go where they will, are living impulses in society, and of your beginning. And just as there is something of your grandfather in you, there is something of you