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architecture of their nest is certainly not of the florid order, but my Lady Yellowlees sits on it a well satisfied bride. Come back in a day or two, and you will see her nursing triplets. Meanwhile, hear the earpiercing fife of the bridegroom !—Where will you find a set of happier people, unless, perhaps, it be in our parlour, or our library, or our nursery ? For, to tell you the truth, there is a cage or two in almost every room of the house. Where is the cruelty-here, or in your blood-stained larder ? But you must eat, you reply. We answer --not necessarily birds.
The question is about birds-cruelty to birds; and were that sagacious old wild-goose, whom one single moment of heedlessness brought last Wednesday to your hospitable board, at this moment alive, to bear a part in our conversation, can you dream that, with all your Jeffreyan ingenuity and eloquence, you could persuade him--the now defunct and dejected--that you were under the painful necessity of eating him with stuffing and apple-sauce ?
The intelligent author of the treatise on British birds does not condescend to justify the right we claim to encage them ; but he shows his genuine humanity in instructing us how to render happy and healthful their imprisonment. He says very prettily, “ What are town.gardens and shrubberies in squares, but an attempt to ruralize the city ? So strong is the desire in man to participate in country plea. sures, that he tries to bring some of them even to his room. Plants and birds are sought after with avidity, and cherished with delight. With flowers he endeavours to make his apartments resemble a garden ; and thinks of groves and fields, as he listens to the wild sweet melody of his little captives. Those who keep and take an interest in song-birds, are often at a loss how to treat their little warblers during illness, or to prepare the proper food best suited to their various constitutions ; but that knowledge is absolutely necessary to preserve these little creatures in health : for want of it, young amateurs and bird-fanciers have often seen, with regret, many of their favourite birds
Now, here we confess is a good physician. In Edinburgh we understand there are about five hundred medical practitioners on the human race,--and we have dog.doc. tors, and horse-doctors, who come out in numbers—but we have had no bird-doctors. Yet osten, too often, when the whole house rings from garret to cellar with the cries of children teething, or in the hooping-cough, the little linnet sits silent on his perch, a moping bunch of feathers, and then falls down dead, when his lilting life might have been saved by the simplest medicinal food skilfully administered. Surely if we have physicians to attend our tread. mills, and regulate the diet and day's work of merciless ruffians, we should not suffer our innocent and useful pri. soners thus to die unattended. Why do not the ladies of Edinburgh form themselves into a society for this purpose ?
Not one of all the philosophers in the world has been able to tell us what is happiness. Sterne's Starling is weakly supposed to have been miserable. Probably he was one of the most contented birds in the universe. Does confinement,the closest, most uncompanioned confinement-make one of ourselves unhappy? Is the shoemaker, sitting with his head on his knees in a hole in the wall from morning to night, in any respect to be piried ? Is the solitary orphan, that sits all day sewing in a garret, while the old woman for whom she works is out washing, an object of compassion? or the widow of fourscore, hurk. ling over the embers, with a stump of a pipe in her toothless mouth ? Is it so sad a thing indeed to be alone? or to have one's motions circumscribed within the narrowest imaginable limits ?-Nonsense all. Nine-tenths of mankind, in manufacturing and commercial countries, are cribbed and confined into little room,-- generally, indeed, to. gether, but often solitary..
Then, gentle reader, were you ever in a highland shiel. ing? It is built of turs, and is literally alive; for the beautiful heather is blooming, and wild-Howers too—and walls and roof are one sound of bees. The industrious little creatures must have come several long miles for their balmy spoil. There is but one human creature in that shieling, but he is not at all solitary. He no more wearies of that lonesome place, than do the sunbeams or the shadows. To himself alone, he chants his old Gaelic songs, or frames wild ditties of his own to the raven or red deer. Months thus pass on; and he descends again to the lower country. Perhaps he goes to the wars-fights—bleedsand returns to Badenoch or Lochaber ; and once more, blending in his imagination the battles of his own regiment, in Egypt, or Spain, or at Waterloo, with the deeds done of yore by Ossian sung, lies contented by the door of the same shieling, restored and beautified, in which he had dreamt away the summers of his youth.
To return to birds in cages ;—they are, when well, uni. formly as happy as the day is long. What else could oblige them, whether they will or no, to burst out into song, -to hop about so pleased and pert,--to play such fantastic tricks like so many whirligigs,-to sleep so soundly, and to awake into a small, shrill, compressed twitter of joy at the dawn of light? So utterly mistaken was Sterne, and all the other sentimentalists, that his starling, who he absurdly opined was wishing to get out, would not have stirred a peg had the door of his cage been flung wide open, but would have pecked like a very gamecock at the hand inserted to give him his liberty. Depend upon it, that starling had not the slightest idea of what he was saying; and had he been up to the meaning of his words, would have been shocked at his ungrateful folly. Look at canaries, and chaffinches, and bullfinches, and “the rest,” how they amuse themselves for a while flitting about the room, and then finding how dull a thing it is to be citizens of the world, bounce up to their cages, and shut the door from the inside, glad to be once more at home. Begin to whistle or sing yourself, and forth with you have a duet, or a trio. We can imagine no more perfectly tranquil and cheerful life than that of a goldfinch in a cage, in spring, with his wife and his children. All his social affections are cultivated to the utmost. He possesses many accomplishments unknown to his brethren among the trees;-- he has never known what it is to want a meal in times of the greatest scarcity; and he admires the beautiful frostwork on the windows when thousands of his feathered friends are buried in the snow, or what is almost as bad, baked up into pies, and devoured by a large supper party of both sexes, who fortify their flummery and flirtation by such viands, and, remorseless, swallow dozens upon dozens of the warblers of the woods.
Ay, ay, Mr. Goldy! you are wondering what I am now doing, and speculating upon me with arch eyes and elevated crest, as if you would know the subject of my lucubrations. What the wiser or better wouldst thou be of human knowledge ? Sometimes that little heart of thine goes pit-a-pat, when a great, ugly, staring contributor thrusts his inquisitive nose within the wires-or when a strange cat glides round and round the room, fascinating thee with the glare of his fierce fixed eyes ;-but what is all that to the woes of an editor ?-Yes, sweet simpleton ! do you not know that I am the editor of Blackwood's Magazine-Christopher North! Yes, indeed, we are that very man,--that self-same much-calumniated man-monster and Ogre.There, there !-perch on my shoulder, and let us laugh together at the whole world.
(Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, 1829.)
Have you any intention, dear reader, of building a house in the country? If you have, pray, for your own sake and ours, let it not be a cottage. We presume that you are obliged to live, one half of the year at least, in a town. Then why change altogether the character of your domicile and your establishment? You are an inhabitant of Edinburgh, and have a house in the Circus, or Heriot-Row, or Abercromby Place, or Queen Street. The said house has five or six stories, and is such a palace as one might expect in the City of Palaces. Your drawing-rooms can, at a pinch, hold some ten score of modern. Athenians-your dining-room might feast one half of the contributors to this Magazine—your “ placens uxor” has her boudoir-your eldest daughter, now verging on womanhood, her music-room-your boys their own studio-the governess her retreat-and the tutor his den —the housekeeper sits like an overgrown spider in her own sanctum-the butler bargains for his dim apartment -and the four maids must have their front-area-window. In short, from cellarage to garret, all is complete, and number forty-two is really a splendid mansion.
Now, dear reader, far be it from us to question the propriety or prudence of such an establishment. Your house was not built for nothing—it was no easy thing to get the painters out-the furnishing thereof was no trifle-the feu-duty is really unreasonable, and taxes are taxes still, notwithstanding the principles of free trade, and the universal prosperity of the country. Servants are wasteful, and their wages absurd—and the whole style of living, VOL. I.