Page images
[ocr errors]

is often tarred over. Cisterns and casks are pitched to prevent leaking.

Har. But what are sheep tarred for after they are sheared ?

Tut. To cure wounds and sores in their skin. For the like purposes an ointment made with tar is often rubbed upon children's heads. Several parts of the pine are medicinal. The tops and green cones of the Spruce Fir are fermented with treacle, and the liquor, called spruce-beer, is much drunk in America, particularly for the scurvy.

Geo. Is it pleasant ?

Tut. Not to those who are unaccustomed to it. Well I have now finished my lesson, so let us walk.

Har.Shall wegothrough the grounds?

Tut. Yes, and then we will view some of the different kinds of Fir and Pine more closely, and I will show you the difference of their leaves and cones by which they are distinguished.


There the hoarse-voic'd hungry Rook,
Near her stick-built nest doth croak,
Waving on the topmost bough.

THESE lines Mr. Stangrove repeated, pointing up to a Rookery, as he was walking in an avenue of tall trees, with his son Francis.

Francis. Is that a Rookery, papa ?

Mr. St. It is. Do you hear what a cawing the birds make ?

Fr. Yes—and I see them hopping about among the boughs. Pray, are not Rooks the same with crows ?

Mr. St. They are a species of crow; but they differ from the carrion crow and raven in not living upon dead flesh, but upon corn and other seeds, and grass. They indeed pick up beetles and other insects, and worms. See what a number of them have lighted on

yonder plowed field, almost blackening it over.

Fr. What are they doing?

Mr. St. Searching for grubs and worms. You see the men in the field do not molest them, for they do a great deal of service by destroying grubs, which, if they were suffered to grow to winged insects, would do much mischief to the trees and plants.

Fr. But do they not hurt the corn ?

Mr. St. Yes, they tear up a good deal of green corn, if they are not driven away. But, upon the whole, Rooks are reckoned thefarmers' friends: and they do not choose to have them destroyed.

Fr. Do all Rooks live in Rookeries?

Mr. St. It is the general nature of them to associate together, and build in numbers on the same or adjoining trees. But this is often in the midst of woods or natural groves. However they have no objection to the neighbourhood of man, but readily take to a plantation of tall trees, though it be close to a house; and this is commonly called a Rookery. They will even fix their habitations on trees in the midst of towns; and I have seen a Rookery in a churchyard in one of the closest parts of London.

Fr. I think a Rookery is a sort of town itself.

Mr. St. It is :- a village in the air, peopled with numerous inhabitants : and nothing can be more amusing than to view them all in motion, flying to and fro, and busied in their several occupations. The spring is their busiest time. Early in the year they begin to repair their nests, or build new ones.

Fr. Do they all work together, or every one for itself?

Mr. St. Each pair, after they have coupled, builds itsown nest; and instead of helping, they are very apt to steal the


materials from one another. · If both birds

go out at once in search of sticks, they often find, at their return, thework all destroyed, and the materials carried off; so that one of them generally stays at home to keep watch. However, I have met with a story which shows that they are not without some sense of the criminality of thieving. There was in a Rookery a lazy pair of Rooks, who never went out to get sticks for themselves, but made a practice of watching when their neighbours were abroad, and helped themselves from their nests. They had served most of the community in this manner, and by these means had just finished their own nest ; when all the other Rooks in a rage fell upon them at once, pulled their nest in pieces, beat them soundly, and drove them from their society.

Fr. That was very right-I should have liked to have seen it. But why do


« PreviousContinue »