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OBSERVATIONS ON

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110 Strictures on Observations on the Natural History of Birds.[Feb. very letter, had acquired paramount that, on the near approach of the influence, obtained many legacies, and twentieth of August, the Hussars of was universally consulted as to the de- Czekler might be on duty. From crees of fate. This was very strange. constant intercourse with the officers,

“At length two deserters came over she knew that two of my comrades from the enemy, and recognized our preceded me in command. To the fortuneteller as well known in the one she sold drugged wine, and he camp of the Turks, to whom, they was taken dangerously ill ; and, just said, by means of nocturnal visits, as the other had mounted, she conshe had communicated our move- trived to thrust burning tinder into ments and intentions. This also the nostrils of his charger.” D. created much astonishment, as she had often been of important service to us,

STRICTURES ON and we had wondered at the address

THE NATURAL HISTORY OF BIRDS." and ability with which she had executed the most perilous commissions. MR EDITOR, But the deserters persisted in their evi- The “ Observations on the Natudence; they had frequently been pre- ral History of Birds,” which appearsent when she communicated our po- ed in your Miscellany in September sitions and strength,-betrayed our last, having failed to draw forth the plans,—and enabled the enemy to opinions of your ornithological friends succeed in their attacks. The events on the subject, the following remarks which had actually happened afforded are, in consequence, submitted to the strong presumptions against her; and consideration of your readers. a Turkish cypher, which served as a Your correspondent A. states, as passport, being found in her posses- the result of his own experience, that sion, rendered her death indispen- if the nest (of the lapwing) is dissable.

covered as soon as the bird has begun “ I then urged the Bohemian as to to lay, and you remove an egg, so as her predictions, and she avowed, in to allow only one or two to remain in general, that, by acting alternately as the nest, the bird will continue to lay a spy for each party, she had obtained for ten or twelve days, nay, for weeks, double emolument, with complete successively. If, however, you allow personal security. By this means she the number to reach four, it iinmelearnt the secret plans of both ; and diately begins to hatch, and there is she knew precisely what was to be at- no further deposition of eggs." By tempted by either. Those who con- thus robbing the nest, he has induceil sulted her on their destiny confided this bird to lay ten eggs, while the to her all the dangers they were to ortlinary number is four. He has encounter. The most secret projects tried the same experiment with the were thus revealed to her in detail. common lark, and with equal sucHer calculation was almost always a demonstration; and sometimes, where The opinion, that some birds wilt she did not possess these advantages, lay more than their ordinary number chance befriended her.

of

eggs, by daily abstracting one from “ In my particular instance, she the nest,' has received considerable was desirous to impress an irresistible support from the learned author of belief in her unerring knowleilge. I the British Zoology, who, when speakwas selected as a striking example of ing of the house or chimney swallow, her skill; and, by fixing my fate at a says,—" It lines the bottom (of its remote period, and in utter disregard nest) with feathers and grasses, and of all ordinary hazards, even of the usually lays from four to six eggs, immediate and constant skirmishes of white, speckled with red; but, by tukthe cavalry, the hair-breadth scapes, ing away one of the egg's daily, it will. which, in my situation, were an every- successively lay as far as nineteen, as day occurrence, she trusted to obtain Dr Lister has experienced." - Penunbounded confidence.

nant's Brit. Zool. Vol. I. p. 400. Lon“From her information, our centi- don, 1776. But the experience of nels were cut off, and our piquets Lister stands in opposition to the pooverthrown; but the attacks upon sitive testimony of the late Mr Mona our night guards were arranged so as tagu, who, when speaking of this opito suit ber predictions, and especially nion respecting incubation, savs,

cess.

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“We believe there never was an in- ber laid by a Hedge Sparrow is comstance, (of a bird laying more eggs suc- monly five, sometiines only four, and cessively, by taking one from the nest rarely six-will the taking away the daily,) at least we have never been daily laid egg produce a seventh or an fortunate enough to discover one in eighth ? No."-Ibid. the great variety of experiments we From this view of the matter, your have tried on various birds, amongst correspondent A. must excuse which was the swallow, which has been want of confidence in his boyish redeclared to lay as many as nineteen.”- collections, since they thus stand in Mont. Ornithological Dictionary, Vol. opposition to the high authority of 1. Introl. xi. Now, it is well known one whose opinion on the subject was to every student of British ornitholo- the result of numerous and diversified gy, that Montagu paid very great at- experiments. We would, however, tention to the habits of birds, so that earnestly recommend the repetition of his testimony on such a subject should these experiments to those whose sibe received with confidence.

tuations are favourable for making In our younger days, we gave credit such observations, to the efficacy of robbing a nest in Although we have thus opposed the making a bird lay more than her usual doctrine which your correspondent A. number of eggs, because such an opi- thinks he has established, we have nion was current among our school had no other object in doing so, than companions. Our experiments, how- to communicate the few historical noever, tried on the Magpie, Sparrow, tices of the subject in our possession ; and Wren, were invariably unsuccess- and we hope he will continue to faful, so that, at last, we ranked this vour your readers with those facts in current belief in the list of popular the history of animals which he has errors. Indeed, were such a habit to ascertained.

PhysicUS. prevail in birds, it would stand in opposition to all our notions of the laws of reproduction. On this subject the reasoning of Montagu appears conclusive. « Those who suppose a bird MR EDITOR, capable of producing eggs at will, or In one of your early numbers I obthat any bird is excited to lay more serve some remarks on the Natural eggs than usual by daily robbing their History of Birds, which are extremenest, are certainly mistaken. In a do- ly curious. I wish your correspondmesticated fowl, it is probable the de- ent would continue his anecdotes, for sire of incubation may be prolonged his facts are most interesting, and, I by leaving little or nothing in the nest am convinced, they are not generally to sit on. It will, therefore, lay the known among the learned, however number allotted by Nature, which is familiar they may be to every herddetermined before the first egg is pro- boy in Scotland. A great many years duced. If it is prevented from incu- ago, a worthy farmer of my acquaintbation by any means whatever, it may ance, in the lower district of Annanbegin again to lay in five or six days; dale, took it into his head to rob a but there is always an interval of a wild duck of her eggs, which he had few days, and sometimes as many accidentally discovered, and to place weeks, which must wholly depend on them under one of his tame ducks the age and vigour of the bird. When that was hatching at the same time. it happens that a fresh lot of eggs is The young brood (twelve in number) laid, with only a few days interval, came into the world at the usual period, and that, perhaps, in the same nest, it but, notwithstanding the attention is deemed a continuation, for want of which he paid to them, they were nice observation ; but we are not to all lost or destroyed, except one which look to domesticated animals for na- continued with her step-dame. This tural causes, for those are taken from singular bird never perfectly acquired their state of nature. Let us look to the habits or dispositions of her doa birds in their natural wild state, and mestic sisterhood, she never would xe if any well-attested instances are submit to the embraces of a tame to be found where they have laid more drake,—and every spring she left the Eggs successively, by taking one from farm-yard and proceeded to the wilds the nest daily ; for instance, the num- in quest of a mate. She seemed to

CURIOUS FACTS IN NATURAL HIS

TORY

have a malicious pleasure, if I may so grating birds return not only to the express it, in leading her lovers into a same district or town, but the swalsnare; and was at great pains to draw low, for instance, if not prevented, to them into such situations as admitted the same house, and even to the same of their being easily shot. I have of- window where it was hatched, there ten known two or three of her follow- to bring forth its young. I know this ers killed in the course of a day. She from actual experiment. I would say always hatched her young in a peat the same thing of fishes; and I think moss at some distance from the house, this fact is pretty well ascertained, but never failed to bring them to the both with regard to the salmon and farm-yard as soon as they were able the herring. Independent of the to follow her. During the whole great difference between the herrings time of rearing them, she was unu- on the east and west coasts of Scotsually tame, and with difficulty could land, there are few of your Scots readbe kept out of the kitchen, endeavour- ers, I should suppose, who are unacing, as it were, by every means in her quainted with the superior excellence power, to make her wild progeny fa- of the Lochfine herring; and it is iniliar with man. I need not tell you well known, that fish of the same size that this duck became a great pet with and quality are found on no other part all the neighbourhood ; and many a of our coasts. I consider them, then, wild duck was spared by the fowler as a particular tribe, that return regu. lest he should kill the favourite Jen- larly to their own breeding ground. ny. When this duck was about four in the Western Islands, the experienyears old, my friend was visited by a ced fishermen will tell the particular kinsman of his from Fife, who was so loch from which a parcel of herrings much taken with her that he begged are taken,—so marked is the difference for and obtained her as a present. She between the several tribes, even when was put into a cage, and by him con- the neck of land which separates the veyed to Edinburgh, where he had a two arms of the sea does not exceed a small silver collar made for her, with mile or two in breadth. To condescend his name and aldress engraven upon upon particulars,--there is a marked it; and with this he carried her in difference between the herrings caught triumph to his house near Kinross. in Lochbuy and those caught in LochShe was kept in confinement for a scridden, which lie both on the west night and a day; when, seeming per- coast of Mull, and not many miles fectly contented, she was let out into asunder. The fishermen on the Solthe yard. She set about adjusting way Firth, I believe, could easily tell herself for sometime, then suddenly you, when they kill a salmon, whether took wing, and, in the course of a few it was a native of the Annan or the hours, was among her old companions Nith. If these remarks are considerin Annandale. She was a second time ed worthy of a place in your Miscelconveyed to Fife, and her wings clipt. lany, you may perhaps hear again She continued perfectly happy to ap- from

AN INQUIRER. pearance till her feathers grew, when

Jan. 12, 1818. she again bade her new friends farewell. It would appear that she was obliged this time to rest by the way,

OBSERVATIONS ON THE AGAMEMNON as she was shot in the neighbourhood

OF ESCHYLUS, ILLUSTRATED WITH of Biggar by a gentleman, who communicated the circumstance to the owner, with the collar which was

(Concluded from page 31.) found about her neck with his name Upon the conclusion of the speech and place of abode. We have often which was last quoted, Cassandra heard, Mr Editor, of the sagacity of enters into the fatal palace, going, as dogs, and even of cats ; and I know the poet afterwards expresses it, myself several instances where these animals have found their way back to “ Like a swan to death, singing her dirge," their original dwellings, after being conveyed to very great distances ; but and, in a few moments after her dethis case proves that the feathered parture, redoubled shrieks behind the tribe have also some degree of instinct. scene announce the murder of AgaIt is a well known fact, that all emie memnon. The Chorus, upon this oc

TRANSLATIONS,

sense

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casion, act quite, as might be expect- And so his breath departed and his lungs ed, from their character of inefficiency, Panting and heaving, spurted the black and, were the occasion not so horrible,

blood we might almost be inclined to laugh Quick from his wound, and sprinkled me

all o'er at their confusion and perplexity. Indeed, as the drama appears in the With those red dew-drops-grateful to my hands of Eschylus, the distinct pro- As is the shower of Jove, to earth’s hot vinces of tragedy and comedy do not

breast seem so strictly defined as in the suc

When the flower-cups are opening '-Wish ceeding dramatists; and the exact

ye joy, copying of nature leads him occasion- Senators of Argos—welcome are ye all ally into a mixture of style, which To have part in my great joy,—If not, might have produced, if it had been

alone carried a little farther, a drama of the I will rejoice-yea, and were all things description which Shakespeare seems

ready,

Libations would I offer to the Gods to take most delight in exhibiting. The comic traits of Eschylus, how- Standing above the dead !-0 meet it was ever, if they can be called by that The cup of domestic evil which he filled

To the brim—he now should drink down name, are very slightly marked, and

to the dregs, can scarcely offend the most severe And feel its curses bitter in his lips. taste. While the Chorus are in a puz- Ch. The madness of thy tongue and imzle how to proceed,—the scene opens, pudence and Clytemnestra is discovered stand- Harrows our souls that such a deed as ing in triumph by the dead body of this her husband. It is in the following should call forth such a boast ! audacious and unshrinking tone that Cly.

What, do you deem me she now comes forward with all the One of the feeble women who will shrink native boldness of her character, and From my deeds ? ye might have known with that additional species of exalta- Who bears a fearless heart ! praise me, or

me better, one tion and intoxication of spirit which

blame me, seems not unfrequently to accompany I care not, 1-Still I say–here he lies the commission of great crimes.

Agamemnon-he who was my husband

whom Cly. I scruple not one moment to re

This right hand slew_aye, and slew right. tract

ly-here The words convenience dictated_and hold

He lies before you—so conceive the fact ! Another language now! Were not these

This, it must be owned, is suffiAllowed how could one, of his enemies ciently fiendish, and, coming so soon Obtain advantage-enemies that as it does after the grand moral picfriends

ture of Cassandra, a striking contrast Or hedge them in with fence so sure, no of character is presented to us. We

see, within a very short compass, the Can clear its wide perplexity ? No thought extremes of virtue and of vice, the one This of a day—it rose from ancient hatred, almost exalted to divinity, and the And hath been plotted long-and so my other with the traces of the most dia

foes Have fallen, and this foot hath trod their bolical atrocity. A glance, as it were, necks !

is given us into the opposite regions Ah! he could not escape me all so true

of heaven and of hell ;- and we see The plot was laid, that he was fairly two women resembling each other in netted

the same great features of intelligence Aye bodily neited like a fish-within and of heroic courage, yet of characa The splendid garment I had wound around ters so different in their moral frame, him;

that they seem for ever to be separated, I struck him twice and after two loud in our imagination, into the most disshrieks

similar states of being. In this view, His legs gave way—he fell—again I struck another very noble purpose is answered

him Flat on the ground that was a votive blow by the introduction of Cassandra. To Phuto, the receiver of the dead !

The great qualities of Clyteinnestra's mind might have made us admire her

rather too much in spite of her atroInstances of the same kind are to be city, were there no other character on found in Euripides.

whom our adiniration could rest with VOL. II.

2

arts

seem

leap

the most perfect safety. Now Cas- And gave the dear fruit of my bitter pangs sandra possesses all Clytemnestra's To soothe the howlings of the Thracian

winds ? great endowments, but, at the same time, she stands on that moral emi- Then meet it was to thunder banishment nence, from which the other had Upon his head for such an impious deed ! fallen; and we are made to see in the O no—he was to render no account-but

Icontrast, that, with that fall, every Soon as my glorious act has met thine ears thing was gone that was really admi

I must be harshly dealt with-try thy rable. No other poet, perhaps, has so

strength perfectly relieved the bad influence if thou prevailest—know that I can suffer apt to be produced by the exhibition

No less than do-but take heed, if thou of noble endowments in a wicked

fail, mind. Shakespeare has done it in Lest I instruct thee, not to be so forward ! another way, and very finely too,

Several of those imaginary palliations though not quite so completely: The which are ever ready to come to the remorse and misery of his Lady Mac- relief of a guilty mind, and which

seem beth, so tremendously brought out in the sleeping scene, are evidences, in- the creed of those ages, serve likewise

to have prevailed more particularly in deed, that the greatest powers of mind

to retard the advances of her remorse. will not save from wretchedness

, if The Chorus had said something of the have not in the play any contrast of evil genius that seemed to preside

ver that house ; and Clytemnestra dignified excellence to oppose

to

immediately seizes the idea, and insiher. Milton's Satan is, throughout

nuates that there was a destiny in her all his

poem,

too much an object of our admiration, there are none of guilt which she could not avoid. the good angels, except, perhaps, the Cly. Aye, thou hast found him now, by Seraph Abdiel, of whom, however, we

whom are spilt see little,-that impress our minds These gory seas-the giant power of guilt

Who in our house his home hath built ! very profoundly. And to come down

Twisted with our hearts and liver, to a very powerful poet of our own

The thirst of blood is burning ever, day,-Lord Byron trespasses still

The ancient stains clean wiped out never more upon the genuine course of mo

Ere pours afresh another foaming river ! ral sentiment, by preventing us almost from seeing any thing bad in his most

The Chorus, however, very properly detestable characters. Eschylus had answer. got over this hazard so completely,

Ch. O terrible that power, if such in. that he seems rather to have felt that

deed the danger lay on the other side, and Sways this unhallowed mansion--terrible, that his audience would now conceive

If true-nor less detestable the creed ! a greater antipathy to Clytemnestra Yet Jove o'er all is powerful-nor can hell than ought to be entertained towards Without his high permission weave her any thing human. In what follows,

spell ! he accordingly endeavours rather to

Another idea, then, seems to strike palliate her guilt ;-her loose attachment to Egisthus is kept a good deal the fervid imagination of the guilty

woman. in the background, -and the wrongs she had suffered from her husband in Cly. Rightly thou sayst 'twas I that reft the cruel sacrifice of her daughter, are

his life, brought forward with great effect, and But think not that you see with all the deep feeling of an heroic, in me though ill-regulated mind. She thus Agamemnon's wife !

No! in her form alone replies to a threat of the Chorus:

The ancient fury of the house I stand, Cly. O thou art ready to denounce my Who, from the fatal feast of Atreus, banishment,

plann'd The hatred of my citizens on me,

This vengeance for the murdered boys; And the full popular fury!- but on him Pusling the hour along, unseen, no noise, What was thy sentence when my lamb, When for their lives, a man's life should my daughter,

atone ! Though numerous flocks were bleating in his pastures.com

The reply of the Chorus is quite as He tore from me, a victim, to the altar sound, as could well have been made.

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