« iepriekšējāTurpināt »
the females and young also assume much of the pompous air of the males, the former spreading their tails, and moving silently around. At length the assembled multitude mount to the tops of the highest trees, whence, at a signal note from a leader, the whole together wing their way towards the opposite shore. All the old and fat ones cross without difficulty, even when the river exceeds a mile in width; but the young, meagre, and weak, frequently fall short of the desired landing, and are forced to swim for their lives. This they do dexterously enough, spreading their tails for a support, closing their wings to the body, stretching their neck forwards, and striking out quickly and forcibly with their legs, If in thus endeavoring to gain the land, they approach an elevated or inaccessible bank, their exertions are remitted, they resign themselves to the stream for a short time, in order to gain strength, and then with one violent effort, escape from the water. But in this attempt, all are not successful; some of the weaker, as they cannot rise sufficiently high in air to clear the bank, fall again and again into the water, and thus miserably perish. Immediately after these birds have succeeded in crossing a river, they for some time ramble about without any apparent unanimity of purpose, and a great many are destroyed by the hunters, although they are then least valuable.'
'These birds are guardians of each other, and the first who sees a Hawk or Eagle gives a note of alarm, on which all within hearing lie close to the ground. As they usually roost in flocks, perched on the naked branches of trees, they are easily discovered by the large Owls, and when attacked by these prowling birds, often escape by a somewhat remarkable manœuvre. The Owl sails around the spot to select his prey; but notwithstanding the almost inaudible action of his pinions, the quick ear of one of the slumberers perceives the danger, which is immediately announced to the whole party by a chuck; thus alarmed, they rise on their legs, and watch the motions of the Owl, who, darting like an arrow, would inevitably secure the individual at which he aimed, did not the latter suddenly drop his head, squat, and spread his tail over his back; the Owl then glances over without inflicting any injury, at the very instant that the Turkey suffers himself to fall headlong towards the earth, where he is secure from his dreaded enemy.'
'Wild Turkeys are very tenacious of their feeding grounds, as well as of the trees on which they have once roosted. Flocks have been known to resort to one spot for a succession of years, and to return after a distant emigration in search of food. Their roosting place is mostly on a point of land jutting into a river, where there are large trees. When they have collected at the
signal of a repeated gobbling, they silently proceed towards their nocturnal abodes, and perch near each other; from the numbers sometimes congregated in one place, it would seem to be the common rendezvous of the whole neighborhood. But no position, however secluded or difficult of access, can secure them from the attacks of the artful and vigilant hunter, who, when they are all quietly perched for the night, takes a stand previously chosen by daylight; and, when the rising moon enables him to take sure aim, shoots them down at leisure, and, by carefully singling out those on the lower branches first, he may secure nearly the whole flock, neither the presence of the hunter, nor the report of his gun intimidating the Turkeys, although the appearance of a single Owl would be sufficient to alarm the whole troop; the dropping of their companions from their sides excites nothing but a buzzing noise, which seems more expressive of surprise than fright. This fancied security, or heedlessness of danger, while at roost, is characteristic of all the gallinaceous birds of North America.' pp. 82-91.
In connexion with these characteristics of the Turkey, and the description of the Bald Eagle above quoted, it may be no improper place here to introduce Dr Franklin's humorous remarks, as contained in one of his letters, concerning the bird, which was chosen for the emblem of our nation.
"Others object to the Bald Eagle," says he, "as looking too much like a Dindon, or Turkey. For my own part, I wish the Bald Eagle had not been chosen as the representative of our country; he is a bird of a bad moral character; he does not get his living honestly; you may have seen him perched on some dead tree, where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the labor of the Fishing Hawk; and when that diligent bird has at length taken a fish, and is bearing it to its nest for the support of his mate and young ones, the Bald Eagle pursues him, and takes it from him. With all this injustice he is never in good case; but like those among men, who live by sharping and robbing, he is generally poor, and often very lousy. Besides, he is a rank coward; the little Kingbird, not bigger than a sparrow, attacks him boldly, and drives him out of the district. He is, therefore, by no means a proper emblem for the brave and honest Cincinnati of America, who have driven all the Kingbirds from our country; though exactly fit for that order of Knights, which the French call Chevaliers d'Industrie. I am on this account not displeased that the figure is not known as a Bald Eagle, but looks more like a Turkey. For in truth the Turkey is, in comparison, a much more respectable bird, and withal a true original native of America.
Eagles have been found in all countries, but the Turkey was peculiar to ours. He is besides, (though a little vain and silly, 'tis true, but not the worse emblem for that,) a bird of courage, and would not hesitate to attack a grenadier of the British guards, who should presume to invade his farm yard with a red coat on.'
In closing this article we owe it to ourselves to state, that we cannot pretend to have rendered justice to the peculiar merits of the authors, whose works we have, perhaps too unadvisedly, taken in hand. If any shall be incited, by what has been said, to consult the volumes themselves, and bestow their praise and patronage on so noble an enterprise, our end will be answered.
ART. VIII.—1. A Discourse pronounced before the Phi Beta Kappa Society, at the Anniversary Celebration, on the Thirtyfirst day of August, 1826. By JOSEPH STORY. Boston. Hilliard, Gray, Little, & Wilkins. 2. An Oration pronounced at New Haven, before the Society of Phi Beta Kappa, September 12, 1826. On some of the Considerations, which should influence an Epic or a Tragic Writer, in the Choice of an Era. By JAMES A. HILLHOUSE. New Haven. A. H. Maltby & Co. 1826.
SIR WILLIAM JONES has remarked, while referring to the beauty of some of the oriental manuscripts, that he could almost find it in his heart, to regret the invention of the art of printing. We do not carry the passion for calligraphy to this extent; nor would we carry any passion to the extent of leading us to regret the art of printing. As there is, however, a bright and a dark side to all things, it is not unprofitable occasionally to consider the evils, which are incident to the growth and diffusion of great improvements. Simply to suppose that we are positive gainers, by all the difference between the refined arts of modern life and the ruder processes of antiquity, is to fall into great error. Every discovery and every invention, which effects a great change in human pursuits, although in the long run it may be most highly beneficial, not only must be qualified by some evil consequences directly incident to it, but by the loss of some advantages of the previously existing arrangement, which are displaced and destroyed by the innovation. VOL. XXIV.NO. 54.
This reflection is more important to be made, by way of explaining the otherwise seemingly inexplicable fact, that after all the brilliant improvements, inventions, and discoveries of the modern world, the general impression left on the mind, after forming an acquaintance with the moral and social character and condition of men, in the civilized states of antiquity and of the modern world, certainly is, that there is no such vast difference between them; that between ancient literature and modern literature there is by no means that contrast, which prevails between manuscript circulation and the circulation by the press; and, in a word, that in the possession of means and instruments, seemingly so much more powerful, various, and numerous, the grand and final effect on human character is by no means so much greater, than that of the ancient means and instruments of improvement, as might have been expected. In saying this, we design by no means to disturb the old controversy, on the comparative merit of the ancients and moderns; nor to wake from their long rest the shades of Tassoni, Perrault, or Wotton. We are willing to grant that, in the result of a general induction, improvements of most brilliant character, and in vast numbers, have been made by the moderns over the ancients; but in the last and great effect of all improvements, the formation of character, we confess our doubts whether modern history presents a larger average of mature, elevated, and finished character than ancient history.
The only application, which we wish at present to make of this remark, is to say, that among those favorable circumstances, which, to a certain degree, compensated for the deficiencies of the ancient arts and improvements, was the superior activity of the social principle. The modern arts, resulting in a division of labor, have broken up the combinations of men, which were formerly necessary, and sent each to his cell, to work out by himself, and with the co-operation of his new found enginery, those effects, which, in an earlier stage of society, were produced by processes more dependent on social union. This applies, if to nothing else, most certainly to the effect of the art of printing on literature. Where no mode of publication existed, but the tedious one of manuscript transcription, the reading of prose works, and the recitation or chanting of poetical works, to assembled multitudes, on triumphant occasions, on festal days, in the temples, and at the games, was, in the first instance, the necessary mode of communication. The historian and the poet, who would make their productions known, were obliged to go
with them to the resorts of their countrymen. As secondary, but at the same time highly stimulating and efficient consequences, were the animation resulting from the numbers of a living audience; the added graces of elocution in the reading and declamation; the instrumental accompaniment of the lyrical chant; perhaps the rival exhibition of contemporary authors, drawn together for the same object; and at all events, the cheering and kindling sympathy of the allied arts, of the liberal sports, and of the gorgeous pageantry of the festivals or the games.
Herodotus read a portion of his History in the assembly at Athens, and at the Olympic games. It would not be difficult, we suppose, to make this sound very ridiculous, by an ill applied reference to modern analogy. We will even own, that if Hume had undertaken to go through his History at a Westminster meeting, in New Palace Yard; or Chief Justice Marshal should insist upon running over his five volumes, upon the turf at the Long Island races, it might in either case, without any disparagement to these honored names, be rather a tedious affair to the assembled multitudes. But we apprehend, that when the father of history rehearsed his Muses to the Athenian people; and when Pindar sung his Olympian lyrics, in the temple of Jupiter at Elis, it was an exhibition as auspicious to the general power and effect of literature on the improvement of a people, as that of a pile of nicely bound volumes in the window of a bookseller's shop, to be taken home and carefully conned in private.
If we go farther back into antiquity, to the period of the epic muse, and allow ourselves to consider the Iliad and Odyssey as the growth of an age, which knew no tablets but the hearts and memories of a delighted audience, catching and treasuring the strains of the wandering minstrel; and then compare these poems, even as productions of art, with the best, which art aiding genius has since produced, we shall feel more strongly the truth of the proposition with which we started. For be it also remembered, that under a dispensation of printed literature, we can with less confidence argue from a distinguished writer to an enlightened community. We frequently behold the phenomenon of what is called a man in advance of his age; well we may. For where a man is enabled, as all are to a certain degree enabled, to form and to improve himself, without that action and reaction of society anciently so essential, he may, in the exercise of strong powers in a happy direction, leave his