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our ruffed grouse ; or shall we sacrifice Guilford quail upon the dangerously won graves of Goffe and Whalley, prayed against in the British Episcopal prayer-book, as murderers of Charles the first,-sweet saint!
Non sum qualis eram, we can all, nevertheless, say, in a plural sense. The shooting is not as it has been. We must fulfil our true duties of observance of the game-laws, enacted for the benefit of all, or else be content, by and by, with the pulling at tossed pennies, or turkeys tied up. Who would not have rejoiced to have shot and died two hundred years ago, if he could have been on the stand of John Megapolensis, junior, minister, who testifies after this wise, in a letter copied into Hackleyt's State papers, translated from the original and beautiful Dutch ?
"In the forests, is great plenty of Deer, which in Harvest time are as fat as any Holland deer can be. I have had them with fat more than two inches thick on the ribs, and likewise that they had no other than clear fat, and could hardly be eaten. There are also many turkies, as large as in Holland. The year before I came here, there were so many turkies and deer that they came to the houses and hog-pens to feed, and were taken by the Indians with so little trouble, that a Deer was sold for a knife, a loaf of bread, or even for a tobacco-pipe, but now we commonly give for a Deer six or seven guilders. In the Forests, are also Partridges, Pheasants, and Pidgeons, that fly in flocks of thousands, and sometimes 10, 20, 30, and even 40 or 50, are killed at one shot; we have here, too, a great number of several kinds of Fowl, Swan, Geese, Ducks, Widgeons, Teal, and Brant, which are taken by thousands upon the river, in the spring of the year, and, again, in the fall, fly away in flocks, so that in the morning and evening a man may stand ready with his gun before the house, and shoot them as they fly past."
That thought is almost too much to think. Sweet is thy memory dear Mr. Megapolensis! If it was given to you to paint Heaven half so well as you adorned Earth, there could not have been an unconverted sinner in the whole valley of the Mohawk !
We have killed wild geese in our time ; and we know what
it is to bring down a glorious gaggle of honkers to our stool. We have seen their sinewy wedge splitting the wind, as they rushed to their illimitable and unknown domains at the North, matched, married, and fierce for the indulgence of safe love, where no poaching, egg-hunter knows to tread; yet half lingering, wondering, doubting, pitying, willing to wait for the wooden devices which we have anchored in the shallow feeding-grounds, as a picture gallery of their uncles, cousins, and sweet-hearts.
Hawnk! Hawnk! we have roared out, and tore our gasping throat, and low in our skulking boat, or close in our floating battery, have we fallen, when the music of the flying march of the anseric host thrilled upon our ear.
Hawnk! Hawnk ! They come, they tear the yielding air, with pennon fierce and strong; on clouds they leap, from deep to deep, the vaulted air along-tear-air-strong-along-break forth my soul into a song !
They come, they tear the yielding air, with pennon fierce and strong,
Hawnk! Honk! and forward to the Nur'ward, is the trumpet tone,
Hawnk! Hawnk! E-e hawnk !
A FIT, BROUGHT ON BY LOOKING AT A PICTURE ;
SUFFERED BY J. CYPRESS JR.
WHITE, in his “ Natural History of Selbourne,” calls the Woodcock “ Scolopax," simply. Latham dubs him “ Scolopax Rusticola.” Wilson christens him “
Scolopax Minor.” This is, probably, the true patronymic of the American bird, as he is a “minor,”- -a smaller animal than that described by the ornithologists of the old world. If you go to Delmonico's, to eat out of season, you will ask for “la Becasse," and be mistaken for a Frenchman, and get a private room, and
So, perhaps, avoid detection. Sportsmen, generally, among themselves, talk of killing " cock ;” but if they meet an old woman in the woods, and want information where to beat, they ask her if she “has seen any blind snipes.” A straggling boy will pocket your sixpence, and send you up a rugged mountain, on whose either side he will assure you there are "plenty of wood-cocks," and you will go and find, after a weary travel, that you have had your tramp after red-headed wood-peckers.
Seeing, therefore, that the nomenclature is uncertain, and sometimes undignified, reducing a much valued visitor to the caste of a common dunghill chanticleer; and, moreover, as this is the age of reform of unworthy names, we introduce to our readers the excellent subject of this article by his true title of “ Scolopac minor.” Let him have honor and welcome under that designation. He is cousin germain to “ Scolopax Gallinago,,"—commonly called the "English" snipe, -undeservedly, too,- for he is a native-born“ Alleghanian,”—and feeds on similar food,—though he uses less salt than his aforesaid relative,-and speaks the same language differing only a little, in dialect. Listen to the one in latter August, in the corn fields, and to the other in decaying Autumn, on his boggy meadows, and you will hear them speak their true name, when you flush them. Only Sc. minor is fainter in his utterance, and in breeding season, and in the woods, utters other voices. But both have undoubtedly, derived their family name from their cry,--their Scolopaxian "good bye,” “ I'm off.” Anatomize the word, and take out the vowels, which, when a bird is in a hurry, he cannot be expected to have time to put in. Try it. Sclex! The trail is out, but is not the body of the sound perfect ?
We like the whole tribe of bipeds belonging to this ordo, whether allied to the genus of long-billed Curlew, Heron, Sandpiper, or any other created or manufactured species. They are the only people who come to us with long bills, whom we are particularly anxious to see. If any boy of theirs comes to us and says, “here is your bill, Sir,"—kick him out ?—we do not. We are more likely to be kicked in our own shoulder by the reaction of the hearty greeting with which we welcome hiin. We make a point-if we are on the upland, our dog does too,—to return the heaviest compliments for the presentation, so that we sometimes overwhelm our visitor with confusion and saintness, by the warmth and pressure of our reception.
But as we have a right to pick our friends, so we have to pick our birds ;-our enemy would say—the first to the pocket, the last to the bone. We would take issue on that allegation, and set the case down for hearing, in Chancery,
upon pleadings and proofs,--to be heard in 1841, and decided in 1857. Decision doubtful. The distributor of justice might have had a good pick at his dinner, or he might have a bad pique against the complaining or defending sinner, and the cause would have to run the gauntlet. Trust to luck. Luck sometimes operates like a powerful argument. Kaimes overlooked it in his book on Rhetoric. So did Blair. Collins says nothing about it in his Ode on the Passions. Maltheus had a glimpse of the truth, but he was afraid to tell fully his imperfect vision. His apocalypse is not revealed.
. Wait. Meantime, we will pick Master Scolopax out from the company of all the long-bills, and deliver him to sacrificial fire.
Mark! there's a bird! While we were rambling on, you, dear reader, unconsciously and harmlessly—for he has no fangs—trod upon a black snake ; and we flushed a quail ; but October 25th was not yet, and he was safe. There, now, is a cock—a woodcock, -Scolopax minor. See how splendidly, cautiously, patronizingly, hungrily, Jim Crow stands ! Splendidly,---for the reputation of his own nose and figure; cautiously,--for his master's chance to see the bird rise ; patronizingly,—for the benefit of the unhappy victim, [even as a carpenter landlord smiles upon a widow tenant of a single room in his miserable structure, called a house, in the eighth ward, paying weekly in advance one quarter of the value of the whole tenement, when he distrains and sells the portrait of her husband, and her last silver spoon, for the rent not yet earned] ; hungrily,—not with selfish, animal appetite—for a good dog eats no birds—but with generous consideration for your own teeth, after his careful lips have tasted the taste of the feathers, which his full-crowded mouth will soon bring to
That suggestion is for your imagination's sake, dear pupil ; Vol. I.--16