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One fine fellow, in particular, a native of Muscovy, won his aılmiration—he could not take his eyes off him. Wherever he went, except when he went under water, and came up gobbling a fish, as he took it to be, till it almost choked him, he followed him-hovered over him-alighted by him—hopped before him and after him—and looked him so hard in the face, but not impertinently, he trusted, that the Muscovian, taking English admiration of foreigners for English want of good manners, resented his attention as a rudeness, and drove him away at last, with an explosion of sounds which scared poor Chummy out of his live senses. Again lie felt his inferiority as a Sparrowa poor, mean, dingy, dirty, cockney Sparrow; and, for the first time', wished he had been born a Duck! What was his weak, wailing - Chip! chip!” in that open country, in comparison with that grand burst of exclamation? The bursting of a bubble in water, which alarms nothing—not even in the next bubble for its own safety! But as his admiration of the gallant admiral was of the purest, humblest kind, and such a compliment as greatness is, in fact, entitled to receive from the vulgar small, he came at last to endure his presence patiently, and let him pick up his morning meal at the waters' edge by distinguished permission of his right honourable spoonbill ; and, cre a month had passed away, they became so attached, that they were inseparable companions from daydawn till daydown, as long as the admiral remained on shore. When he took the command of the channel or canal fleet, and dropped down to St. IIelen's, Chummy saw him off, of course, and wished he could sail with him ; but his naval friend could take no landlubbers and loblolly boys with him, to be in everybody's mess and nobody's watch. Oh how often did Chummy wish to heaven he had been born a Duck, and wish in rain, for he was still a Sparrow, and knew nothing of navigation ! Iow often did he hop along the shore, and envy the entire Duckocracy this great amphibious privilege—when there was nothing to be done on land, to push off, and see what business was to be done in the great waters—in fact, go a fishing ! Ah happy, highly-favoured aquarians ! Oh that he had been born and bred to the service! Would that he was a Duck ! But he was a sparrow-a despised, town-born Sparrow-dingy, dirty, and indecent from roosting so long among chimneypots : for in vain he washed himself and preened his feathers in the orna
mental waters where they were shallowest, the educational dirt he had contracted was not half out of him now :
“ The scent of the roses would hang round him still !” Oh that he dared dive where his friend performed his ablutions, and feared nothing! But a saucerful of water was deep enough to drown him ! IIe was miserable ; but he persevered in making himself as tidy as he could, till he looked, in two months' time, a smart fellow-for a sparrow, and his naval friend was not ashamed of him-introduced him to his brother aquatics as a friend—and wherever you saw the one you saw the other in all parts of the park, in the palace-garden, and its ponds, and in all other fashionable places. Damon and Pythias were not more inseparable.
And so for some months this strangely-assorted pair of friends went waddling and hopping all over the green parts of the Park together, and grubbed together, and wormed together, dividing one worm between the two, and sometimes took short aërial excursions together, till their friendship was the talk of the natural historians of the town, who, as these lovers of the marvellous will do, told many tales which were not very true of them : showing how little Chummy perched sometimes on his Ducal friend's back, between his wings, when he took to the water, and sometimes on his head : how the Duke forbore from diving, on these occasions, out of deference to the fears of his friend : how the minor left his lodgings in the lofty elm, and roosted at night under the wing of the major, in one of the islands : how the other islanders opposed this as an innovation on their privacy, but gave way at last to the humble fellow, as very harmless, and a doating admirer of their tender ducklings, amusing them with his terrors when they first took to the water : with many other traits of Chummy and the Duke, as his friend was commonly called, which were not half so true as they were ingenious.
It was a long time before poor Chummy could bear to look at the frightful plunges down below which the Duke would sometimes in a moment make, as if mad and determined on self-destruction ; and every time he went down in this way without warning, without saying " Farewell, Chummy!” the timid cockney would
up one leg, (we should throw up both arms in our agony,) and give a cry of horror ! But when he saw him after he had seen no more of him for a minute--come up again afar off, not a whit NO. XXIV. - VOL. IV.
the worse for his daring, and shake his head as if he enjoyed it, and give an exulting Quāāk!” and spring on his wings in the water, how every feather of his faithful friend quivered and shivered with satisfaction that no harm had come to him ! When he saw what it was to be a Duck, and how incapable Ducks were of drowning, he was more than ever discontented with his poor state of sparrowhood, but rebelled against his nature in vain. In vain, too, did he try to do things not natural to him. Ambitious of swimming like a duck, he took a lesson or two in the art of us
keeping your head above water.” To show his bravery, he began with diving. Observe how our little friend, the didapper, dives," said the Duke ; “ follow him. With his heart in his mouth, as the phrase is, which insured his sinking, down went Chummy in about a foot deep of water, and would never have come up again, if his friend had not picked him up as he lay kicking at the bottom, and brought him half drowned to the shore. Never was such an illustration of bathos, or the art of sinking, seen! After this miserable failure he was too wise to go out of his depth, from that poor vanity which leads a foolish fellow among us to be profound in a company of deeplylearned men, who know what a shallow dog he is, and laugh at his presumption.
So pleasantly passed away a long English summer, by some seasonable accident, such a summer as had not been seen before by the oldest inhabitant-a Mr. Widdicomb—of these ill-used isles in fine-weather affairs. And now the winter had set in so severely that the (town) face of Nature was, when it was not swept, a foot deep in snow, not of the whitest sort, but of a whitybrown ; the trees in the parks looked like the ghosts of trees; the shrubs like heaps of snow, or Laplanders' huts; and the ornamental waters as thick and hard as ice of Wenham Lake, if not so pure. Covered, from morning till night, with those sportive animals called men, and those small beginnings of men called boys, there was nothing going on there but skating, sliding, and selling hot-spiced gingerbread and brandyballs, from the rising of the sun in a fog a hundred blankets thick, to the going down of the same in the same, more or less. Snow, kneaded and trodden hard, caked the greensward ; and there was no more worming and living on salads on shore for the ducks, who were in great distress, fared wretchedly, grew thin, quacked feebly, and were put on short allowance of water and biscuit. There were no pretty
children, now throwing half a biscuit, and now half-throwing themselves into the waters, to make a scramble among the pretty ducks who should get it, and gobble it up, and gobble it down grossly. A small hole beaten in the ice at one end of the lake was all that they could call their own to practise their old naval tactics in ; and even this was not always all their own : for every now and then some snow-blinded, blundering booby of a biped, not seeing it, would go skating into it, with a souse, and for assistance from the Humane Society, who humanely ran up, and rendered it to the cooled enthusiast in sport, hooked him on shore more dead than alive, and wrung him out. The Duck-world, which our foolish friend had so long envied, he saw now were in anything but a safe, happy, and enviable condition. He, in fact, fared better than his friends in this hard season ; for what could they do with their webbed feet and soft spoonbills in the frozen state of the ground ? Nothing. You might as well try to turn up a turtle with a toothpick, swab a gun with a wet straw, or split adamant with a thumbnail : while he with his sharp bill and nailed claws could scratch a hole in the snow, and pick up a few insects,—where piemen's baskets had been, gather a few crumbs ; and when these failed, go begging at kitchen-windows all about the park.
In the evening of one of these stern winter days he was to be cured of his idle wish that he had been born a Duck, and taught that all is not duck that glitters. It was getting fog-dark ; the park was gradually throwing off its human swarms ; the hum of men was still ; and only a few straggling boys, not tired out with fun, were keeping the pot boiling, when a low, slow, St. Giles's-looking, but really Tothil-fields-bred fellow, in a long coat reaching to his heels, all over inside-pockets, stepped slily from the ice on to the island, and seizing the first duck within reach, which was the Duke, he gave his beautiful neck one twist, and he was dead, and out of sight in the twinkling of an eye. Poor Chummy screamed with horror, and flew at the villain's face, but he soon beat him off. The ducks saw what was done, and instinctively knew that a great wrong had been committed, and gave, the alarm, answered from isle to isle, as if a tocsin had sounded. The park-keepers rushed in at one side of the island as the rogue stole out at the other, and looked so cool—but it was cold—and looked about so innocently for a lost dog—but he was of no value, only a mongrel—the keepers could not suspect
him, and let him go. The fidus Achates followed his lost Æneas, and what more could he do ? lle followed him, making piteous cries, till he saw his destroyer give a stealthy look round to see if }io was watches, and dive into one of the half-underground huts in (no of the low, recking lanes which make Westminster so wholesono in warm weather. Perching on the window-sill, he peeped into the hut, hoping once more to see his friend, alive or dead. There was a good fire glowing within, and an old woman sat moking by its side—a pot was boiling—and there was no other sign of comfort — all besides was squalid misery in that wretched hole for human habitation. The man muttered something—the oled hag rose like a heap of rays from her low stool, and laughed -he drew out the Duke dead, and began tearing off the feathers by hardsful which had made him so beautiful to behold, till he was as bare as a duckling just hatched—the old woman had the proper stuffing ready chopped-so that the villain had gone out deterznined to have duck for supper! “Get your stuffing ready, keep the potaties b’iling, and I'll be back in half an hour!” The Duke was drawn, washed, flourel, stuffed, and trussed, and, in a minute more, was dangling from a string before the fire, to roast. He had seen a great deal of the depravity of St. Giles's, but could not have believed there was so much of it within sight of the windows of palaces. IIe could bear no more to look upon
the “ Friend he had copied through life,”— at least, lis fashionable life — he gave a mournful twitter at the window by way of farewell, at which the wretches started like guilty creatures ; and taking the Abbey as his guide back to the Park, he winged his way heavily to his old lodging, alone. in the elm. There he sat awhile, and thought of his departed friend, by this time on the table, and began to look with pity upon Ducks, as liable to these sudden deprivations of life; and saw at last how much more privileged by naturo, and protected by their insignificance, were Sparrows : for who ever, whether hungry man or epicure, ever thought of stealing a Sparrow from a Park?
IIe was cured. IIe no longer wished to heaven that he had been born a Duck; and though he admired all the wading family as fine birds, he forsook their company as too fashionable, and made himself happy with his meaner brother Sparrows, as good enough for him.