Page images

from, all and singular his right, title, principal and interest in and to, and so forth, his temporary home and feeding spots. In the other case, the Sheriff is apt to form a strong attachment for the feeding places and singular chattels of the abscondant, and hold on to them, against his assignee, with a love" passing the love of women."]—The gentlemen have made a call upon himn : but he is “out,”—out of reach. Whither is thy flight, good fowl? Of what shell-bank wert thou cashier ? “ Whither, midst falling duenotes, of whichknowing thy business place, and full of trust, -we thought we held the substance ?-'Thou art lost, gone, etherealized silvered over with a cloudy dinner set, and wilt set thy table in other waters !

“Yes, thou hast vanished, singing, from our sight!

So must this earth be lost to eyes of thine :
Around thee is illimitable light.

Thou lookest down, and all appears to shine
Bright as above! Thine is a glorious way,

Pavilioned all around with golden spreading day.” How crippled fowl will Biddleize and Swartwoutize, and make the fowlers who are after them d-n their eyes !

" The pale purple even

Melts around thy flight;
Like a star of heaven

In the broad day light, Thou art unseen, and yet I hear thy shrill delight.” No matter. There are ducks enough left, not so flighty, and with whom we can, easier, talk, in plain sight. Who doubts the assertion? If it be he who goes to Audubon's exhibition, and judges from that heterogeneous mixture of fish, flesh, and Indian sculls, what the glorious bays of Matowacs* can pro

* For the best history of Matowacs, or, as it is generally called, “ the State of Long Island," see the comprehensive, minute, and excellent book of B. F. Thornpson, Esq., lately published. No islander, or island-fre.


duce, in this present, existing November, of Anseric and Anatic providence; or he who tries to assimilate or to reconcile the classifications of the proudest ornitholigical grammari

Latham - Buffon - Bewick Wilson Audubon and all the rest,-into any sort of society, of which the members may be identified by some possible nomenclature with. out an alias, or without a doubt expressed as to their family title ;-men that call tho American gander“ Anas Canadiensis," instead of " Anser," forgetting those Roman" hawnkers," worthy of a classic name, who saved the empire treasury from the rapacious Gauls ;—then, we pray thee, friend coine with us, and look at the streaming squadrons, crucking, quacking, whistling and perutting in the Great South bay of Long Island. The most accurate images, -and those of Audubonbird Prometheus-almost live, are faint copies of the rushing glories of the bay. No one can paint like Goddess Nature. Break thy pallet, tear thy canvas, thou mortal who dare pre


Knowest thou Jim Smith ?--James X. Smith,-called by judicious distinction from some rascals, who, by paternal authority, have stolen his name, James Xenophon Smith ?-Illustrious cognomen !-worthily won; as every angler well ap. preciates, who has perused the map of his “Anabasis" to Steph. Sweesy's pond, and has moralized over the stumps where Jim and we once pitched our tents, long, long before “ Yorkers” found out that trout floated there, and before Jim X. had learned that he could make moneys out of frail travelling nature, by building a good ice-house near “ The Sportsman's Hotel.” James X. Smith's biography is yet to be written! He lives now, and we introduce him briefly. Ample provision will, unquestionably, be made in his will, for his eulogist. We name James X. as being the fortunate proprietor of one of the chiefly selected stopping haunts, and sallying ports, of all shooting visitors of Matowacs.' You cannot mistake his house, if you hold up at the sign-post at the corner of Jerusalem lane and South turnpike. It is a pious neighborhood. The name gives you a confidence in that truth. Babylon, the mother of miscellaneous people, is nine miles farther east.

quenter, has his library complete without it. There is hardly an inhabiant of the three counties, unless he be very insignificant, who cannot find oul in this accurate Register of things public and private, who his great. .grandfather was,—which is a great thing, now-a-days, to know,-or w 10 of the fainily were indicted for witchcraft, or whipped for thest or promoted to the ermine ; and where they lie, and what their epitaphs were. It is a book meritorious in another respect; it not only coinprises the annals of private fain:lies, but of concurrent public actions. There is timber enough in it to build twenty literary edifices. Friend try to get a copy of it. Buy, -dont borrow.

But what changing panoramas of vocal regiments of airclimbers will you not see shifting, with their living paintings, all singing in their own particular crotchets, when you go out, in the early morning, striking the sleeping inlets with your oar, before the sun has waked up! Will you look into Wilson for an enumeration, or gloat over Audubon ? Yet neither they, nor Bonaparte, have told the names for they never had their acquaintance,—of all their familiar varieties. Probably the families have intermarried and crossed the breed, since those authors wrote, and new baptisms are to be sprinkléd. Wilson was certainly never on Matowacs. He shot his own acquired specimens, at Egg Harbor and Cape May. The rest were sent to him, with an eel-spears-man's description, which he translated.

We are not learned, nor critical, which latter we might be without being instructed ; but every bayman on Long Island, to whom you would read the ill-arranged ordines, genera, and

species of Wilson, translating the latin to him, and putting it into honest South-side dialect, would say “ Pshaw! he hasn't got down one half the different kinds of broadbill,—let alone other salt-water birds who hold their public meetings on our marshes!" But even in Wilson, you find twenty-odd enumerations of feather-floaters, who either strut by their own domiciles, or occasionally, call in at the Squaw Islands, Linus Island or Wanzas flat, and are ready for the reception of visitors, who come in the shape of Youle's No. 3.

Let us take a skiff and put out and bless the abundance.

It is three o'clock, A. M. If thou art cold, and, last night, slept too little—for reasons, which as a dear friend, loving thy usual abstinence, and chastising thee by silence, rather than by unnecessary recapitulation, we forbear to hint at, lie down in the bottom of the boat, in the dry salt-meadow grass which thy man will fix for thee, with thy head upon an air cushion resting upon the bow-head, and sleep. Sleep! when birds are swimming in the skiff's pathway, and ducks quack, and brant cronk, and broadbill prut about thee? No; thy poler or oarsman, even if he had not read Shakespeare, would soon cry out “ Sleep no more,"—or else, “ Mister, I reckon there's fowl ahead—close by-take them as they rise.”

Such a heart-stirrer and ambition-provoker, puts you on your knees, and you will try to see through the dark.

How queer! we bend our bodies upon our knees when we pray to be saved ; and yet we often kneel, in the same way, to destroy ducks! When are our prayers most earnest ?— Don't think of it. Knees have dangerous associating reflections.

But you will by-and-by arrive at some jutting point, or thatchy island, where you may lie securely hid, wrapped up in the warm envelopments of sedge-grass and your overall, and wait for the peeping daylight to set the various tribes of

Vol. 1.-17

ducks to their works of travel and diving. Happy wretches! who have nothing to do but to fly, and to feed, and be loved, and shot,-killed without notice, without lingering sickness, or surgical torment. Yet they, many of them, have their ails and aches; and the inexperienced amateur, shooting when they fly in his eyes, and the old leather-head batterer straining a broken musket at a distance immeasurable but by a fowl, has planted many a shot-wound needlessly, by accident, in the side of a straggler, or luck-loser of the flock.

But thou art at thy hiding-place now, and thy poler-polar star of thy existence, if thou knowest not the road, and how to pull, and he fall overboard, -is setting out his stools.

If thou be inexperienced, thou mayest look into all the dictionaries that have ever been collated, and we hold the lastRichardson's, the poorest, and a great humbug, yet it comes nearer to our taste in its illustration of this word—and thou wilt not learn what the sporting meaning of “stool," is. To save the trouble of distant reference and inquiry, we will therefore certify and explain that “stools,” in shooting phraseology, are graven images made in the likeness of geese, brant, and ducks, before which the hassock-skulking adventurer bows down and worships—not the graven images—but the providence that permits the living squadrons at whom he shoots, to be cheated by the false colors which he has hung out, to per. suade them to come in. How many-many-honorable villains, might be indicted for obtaining ducks under “false pretences."

The district attorney of Queen's might soon make his fortune, if he would only do his duty. Stools, to talk plain American, are wooden devices of the shape, size, and complexion of the fowl you wish to subduce from the upper air. Sculptor and painter are employed in their manufacture. Jim X. Smith's boys unite and body forth the sister arts.


« PreviousContinue »