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LXX.- A MODEST WIT.
1. A SUPERCILIOUS' nabob? of the East
Haughty, being great — purse-proud, being rich A governor, or general, at the least,
I have forgotten which -
Who went from England in his patron's suite,
A lad of decent parts, and good repute.
2. This youth had sense and spirit;
But yet, with all his sense,
Excessive diffidence Obscured his merit.
3. One day, at table, flushed with pride and wine,
His honor, proudly free, severely merry, Conceived it would be vastly fine
To crack a joke upon his secretary.
4. “Young man,” he said, “ by what art, craft, or trade
Did your good father gain a livelihood?” “ He was a saddler sir,” Modestus said,
“ And in his time was reckoned good.”
6. “A saddler, eh? and taught you Greek,
Instead of teaching you to sew ! Pray, why did not your father make
A saddler, sir, of you?”
6. Each parasite then, as in duty bound,
At length Modestus, bowing low,
Said (craving pardon, if too free he made),
“Sir, by your leave, I fain would know Your father's trade.”
7 “My father's trade! Come, come, sir! that's too bad
My father's trade! Why, blockhead, are you mad?
8. “Excuse the liberty I take,"
Modestus said, with archness on his brow,“Pray, why did not your father make
A gentleman of you?"
1. I HAVE often been struck with the singular attachment hunters sometimes have for some bird or animal, while all the rest of the species they pursue with deadly hostility'. About five hundred yards from Beach’s hut stands a lofty pine tree, on which a gray eagle has built its nest annually during the nine years he has lived on the shores of the Raquette.* The Indian who dwelt there before him says that the same pair of birds made their nest
• A small lake in northern New York.
on that tree for ten years previous ; making in all nineteen years they have occupied the same spot, and built on the same branch.
2. One day, however, Beach was near losing his bold eagle. He was lying at anchor, fishing, when he saw his favorite bird, high up in heaven, slowly sweeping round and round in a huge circle, evidently awaiting the approach of a fish to the surface. For an hour or more, he thus sailed with motionless wings above the water, when all at once he stopped and hovered a moment with an excited gesture, then, rapid as a flash of lightning, and with a rush of his broad pinions, like the passage of a sudden gust of wind, came to the still bosom of the lake.
3. He had seen a huge salmon trout swimming near the surface; and plunging from his high watchtower», drove his talons* deep in his victim's back. So rapid and strong was his swoop”, that he buried himself out of sight when he struck; but the next moment he emerged into view, and, flapping his wings, endeavored to rise with his prey.
4. But this time he had miscalculated his strength; in vain he struggled nobly to lift the salmon from the water. The frightened and bleeding fish made a sudden dive, and took eagle and all out of sight, and was gone a quarter of a minute. Again they rose to the surface, and the strong bird spread out his broad dripping pinions, and, gathering force with his rapid blows, raised the salmon half out of water. The weight, however, was too great for him, and he sank again to the surface, beating the water into foam about him. The salmon then made another dive, and they both went under, leaving only a few bubbles to tell where they had gone down.
5. This time they were absent a full half minute, and Beach said he thought it was all over with his bird. He soon, however, reappeared, with his talons still buried in the flesh of his foe, and again made a desperate effort to
rise. All this time the fish was shooting like an arrow through the lake, carrying his relentless foe on his back. He could not keep the eagle down, nor the bird carry him up; and so, now beneath, and now upon the surface, they struggled on, presenting one of the most singular yet exciting spectacles that can be imagined. It was fearful to witness the blows of the eagle, as he lashed the lake with his wings into spray, and made the shores echo with the report.
6. At last the bird thinking, as they say in the West, that he had “waked the wrong passenger,” gave it up, and loosening his clutch, soared heavily and slowly away to his lofty pine tree, where he sat for a long time sullen and sulky, the picture of disappointed ambition. So might a wounded and baffled lion lie down in his lair and brood over his defeat. Beach said that he could easily have captured them, but he thought he would see the fight out.
7. When, however, they both staid under half a minute or more, he concluded he should never see his eagle again. Whether the latter in his rage was bent on capturing his prize, and would retain his hold, though at the hazard of his life, or whether in his terrible swoop he had stuck his crooked talons so deep in the back of the salmon that he could not extricate' himself, the hunter said he could not tell. The latter, however, was doubtless the truth, and he would have been glad to have let go long before he did.
· HỌS-TÏL'I-T¥. Enmity ; hatred. 4 TXL'ONŞ. The claws of birds of prey. 3 PÍN'IONS (-yŭnş). Joints of the wing 5 SwÔÖP. A sudden, sweeping de furthest from the body ; wings.
scent. 8 WATCH'TÖW-ER (wóch). A tower 6 RE-LËNT'LÇSS. Pitiless ; cruel. or high point for watching. 7 EX'TRI-CĀTE. Disembarrass; free,
LXXII. - THE MOCKING BIRD.
Alexander Wilson was born in Paisley, Scotland, in 1766, removed to this country in 1794, and died in 1813. The first volume of his American Ornithol. ogy was published in September, 1808. To collect the materials for this work he made extensive tours through all parts of the country, which were attended with severe toil and frequent exposure. It was much and deservedly admired for the brilliant execution of the plates and the admirable letter-press descrip. tions. Six additional volumes were published before Wilson's death, and two more volumes were completed and published by his friend, Mr. George Ord, in 1814.)
1. The plumage of the mocking bird, though none of the homeliest, has nothing gaudy or brilliant in it, and had he nothing else to recommend him, would scarcely entitle him to notice; but his figure is well proportioned, and even handsome. The ease, elegance, and rapidity of his movements, the animation of his eye, and the intelligence he displays in listening, and laying up lessons from almost every species of the feathered creation within his hearing, are really surprising, and mark the peculiarity of his genius. To these qualities we may add that of a voice full, strong, and musical, and capable of almost every modulation, from the clear, mellow tones of the wood thrush to the savage screams of the bald eagle.
2. In measure and accent he faithfully follows his originals. In force and sweetness of expression he greatly improves upon them. In his native groves, mounted upon the top of a tall bush or half-grown tree, in the dawn of dewy morning, while the woods are already vocal with a multitude of warblers, his admirable song rises preëminent over every competitor. The ear can listen to his music alone, to which that of all the others seems a mere accom. paniment. Neither is this strain altogether imitative.
3. His own native notes, which are easily distinguishable by such as are well acquainted with those of our various birds of song, are bold and full, and varied, seemingly,