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“What! all my pretty ones! Did you say all ?" He did ; and he lives yet! 0, let me not meet that nigger six miles north of Patchogue, in a place where the scrub oaks cover with cavernous gloom a sudden precipice, whose bottom lies a deep lake, unknown but to the Kwaaek, and the lost deer-hunter. For my soul's sake, let me not encounter him in the grim ravines of the Callicoon, in Sullivan, where the everlasting darkness of the hemlock forests would sanctify virtuous murder!
My farther reflections on this subject, I will keep, for the present, to myself.
The poor quail has to contend with many enemies. Not only with Sir Reynard, who has a constitutional right to levy tribute upon his race, and his several doubtfully-connected, half-starved, brother quadrupedal thieves of the greenwood; not only with the winged pirates of the sky, skimming and sweeping up and down the waving billows of the yellow field, with the quietness and speed of a sudden sun-ray; not only with the horse-hair nooses of school-boy truants, and the figure-y 4 box-traps of vagabond hen-roost pilferers ; not only with the coarse cupidity of the market-man, who kills all today, and cares not for to-morrow; not only with the mean, falsely called, sportsman, who shoots in season and out of season, and kills for numbers, and not for exercise, skill's sake, and honor ; but alas! alas! too often with the bleak and heartless elements themselves! Who does not remember the horrid snows of thirty-six, which filled all the valleys, and raised rival mountains alongside of mountains ! Then died the
The angry clouds at nightfall began to pour out their wind and sleet, but the quail heart had not yet known to fear the skies. Each fated bevy, calling in its straggling supperhunters, tracked its secure path to the bottom of its favorite
cedar-bush ; and there, upon the yet warm bed of oak leaves, and thick matted spear grass, composed their chilled limbs in the usual circle, and went to sleep. To sleep? ay, to sleep forever! No morning came to them. No opportunity had they to regret unsaid prayers. A late morning came to the world above, and a cold sun shone on their shroud—their beautiful shroud of snow! Almost “ seven fathoms deep!” buried in their winding-sheet! No resurrection for ye, poor birds ! Did they think it never would be light? Yes, they fell asleep there in their beds, and died of too much covering! The spring came, and the early ploughman dug up a furrow near their wasted corses. There they lay, side by side, as they committed themselves to sleep, undivided in death, as they were beautiful and without reproach in life !
Beethoven must have written his exquisite song of the “Quail,” after a hard winter. I never heard Catalani sing it, but I will be sworn it is a solemn anthem.
The quail receives in many countries the most studious and devout protection. In China they domesticate him, and train him for the cock-pit. In some states on the continent of Europe they almost worship him. The German has a beautiful superstition, that his note expresses the words, “ Furchten Gott."* England is too damp and smoky for him. He cannot acclimate. The lord, who, by the assistance of his gamekeeper, has an oath made that he killed a quail, is gazetted through the three kingdoms.
The quail is our bird-our own American bird. Shall we not protect him and his household ? If all the powers of destruction are let loose to play upon him, how shall he be saved ? Even now, his fate seems to be inevitable, like the Indians. But a few years since, he was a proud nation—a * “ Fear God." Let poachers think of this when they whistle.
green bay tree, If we look not sharply, we soon may say,
seges est, ubi Troja fuit.” That he is not now utterly annihilated, and flying in the Elysian fields, with his relative, tetrao cupido,* is owing to the good hearts of a very small few of his former fellow-citizens, who snatched him from the snow-bank, and housed, and fed him during the winter, and gave him to liberty in the spring, and to some other few, who sent to his people at the south, and renewed his presence in the faces of his brethren. Even some of these, representatives of a ruined nation, have been sacrificed in brutal moments, to adorn the reeking cellars of reckless paunch-providers, and to furnish August—very August--suppers for raw counter-jumpers, who have heard of his glory.
A few words, by way of application of the subject. The legislature of the state of New York, considering all the dangers and necessities of one of the most worthy families of the state, have, in no wretched spirit of monopoly, but in the true spirit of “equal protection to all," enacted a statute for his preservation, and have taken the dear bird under their sheltering wing. No man, nor boy, nor fool, may kill a quail except between the twenty-fifth of October and the fifth of January, nor compass, nor procure his death, nor have his murdered corpse in his possession, out of the specified period, in either of the humane counties of York, Kings, Queens, or Westchester! O, Suffolk ! how art thou disgraced, not being named! Fiat lex! Tom Tucker and Jem Valentine, chief
* The pinnated grouse, or heath-hen, forinerly, alas ! found on LongIsland; but,--perhaps leading the way, for the quail,—now utterly extinct. Doctor Samuel L. Mitchill foretold his annihilation in 1810. The following is an extract from a letter of his to Wilson, which I doubt not the old man wrote with tears in his eyes ; “ Their numbers are gradually diminishing; and assailed as they are on all sides, almost without cessation, their scarcity may be viewed as foreboding their eventual extermination.” Oh! prophecy too sadly true !
advocates, immortalized themselves! The partridge, too, and Master Scolopax, in his season, have their passports. Beware of the heavy penalty.
Finally, this matter recommendeth itself to the serious attention of all transgressors. The sin hath already stung divers poachers, and accessories, before and after the fact. It hath been distinctly proved before a justice of the peace, that eight times five make forty dollars. Just judgment ! Dear feed! Worse than sour grapes ! The Marine Court hath visited other transgressions with swift judgment. Even men who have received presents of game from places where it was lawfully killed, and where it might have been virtuously manducated, have been sorely mulcted. They have learned, too late, the awful fate of Hercules. They have discovered, after they have been impregnated with the poison, that they must know the giver before they accept a shirt. They study Ovid, now, and have learned by heart
“ Dona det illa viro, mandat, capit inscius hero,”
ye dare, and
and the whole of that chief case in point. Penitent sinners, I weep for them! Doubt it, and touch the forbidden fruit if
os tell that to the marines !" Lastly—true sportsmen ought to examine themselves, and take care that they have no disposition for blood in the skirts of their shooting-jackets, except in the allowed days of October, November, and December. If the honorable and the true-hearted submit to temptation, what can we expect from the other people.
To conclude ; we are all called upon to be careful, and keep our fore-finger on the trigger of our watchfulness. May I not remind
my fair readers that many a quail dies for them, and that intempestive collineation hath been too often perpe
trated for their dear sakes. Restrain, O, ye Helens ! and Joans! the ardor of your sacrificing worshippers. Let them not kill too many. Six, now-a-days, are a sportsman's fortune. Remember them of the base Jews, who gathered more quail than were sufficient for immediate consumption, disobeying Moses, and then rejected the rotting victims, and sighed for the fleshpots of Egyptian leeks and onions. And do thou, best Mary! ever, when thou dippest a minute breast-piece, almost, into the fading bubble of the sherry at my dexter, playfully, as thou art wont, be sure thou ask me—“Love, was this bird killed in season ?"
MARIETTA, Pa., Nov. 13, 1840. MR. EDITOR; You of course know the importance of truth-though you are an editor—and will therefore wish to see any errors corrected which may
have crept into your pages ; I accordingly make a few remarks upon the very good article on “ Quail” in your October number.
The writer proves himself entirely ignorant of ornithology, by his blunders in nomenclature. Thus, he is writing about the Perdix virginiana-Virginian partridge—and not about the Perdix coturnix-European quail.—The first is a true partridge, belonging to the same subgenus with the European partridge, viz., Ortyx ; whilst the quail belongs to the subgenus Coturnix. In Pennsylvania and Southward, and in