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EDINBURG

JOURNAL

CONDUCTED BY WILLIAM AND ROBERT CHAMBERS, EDITORS OF CHAMBERS'S INFORMATION FOR

THE PEOPLE, CHAMBERS'S EDUCATIONAL COURSE,' &c,

No. 166. New SERIES.

SATURDAY, MARCH 6, 1847.

Price 11d.

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all my life, and being a mother to your motherless THE MYSTERIOUS LEG.

children, and putting every penny of my fortune into THESE modern times, with their steam trips to Rich- your tillmond, and railway rushings to Windsor—what are they Hold, hold,' cried Mr Brown; 'draw it mild, or I to my younger days, when the Thames was haunted willevery holiday with six - oared gigs, which skimmed • Yes, yes, you will ; I know you will! What will along the water in the midst of the songs and laugh- you ?' ter of the rowers? This Age of Fun is only funny in • Emigrate! My mind is made up: I will stand this print. In the steamboat, we are as grave and abstracted no longer. You have driven me out of house and as if we were counting the revolutions of the wheels; home; you have banished me from my country: it is and in the railway carriage, we could not hear ourselves all over!' and Mr Brown put up his hands desperately, speak, even if we were not too dull and grave to open and settled his hat upon his head, as if he would have our lips. Let me recall in imagination a single day of gone to New South Wales that moment. that olden time, when as yet there was not an equivocal * And all about a leg of pork !' said Miss Brown, hair in my whiskers--and, to say the truth, but few cooling gradually down. Well, if I was a man! But hairs of any colour ; let me call up, for the benefit of it's no use talking: my life has been a sacrifice from the this wise and solemn generation, a few of those roys- beginning; I have been a slave to you and your family tering spirits which have long been laid-some of them all my days; I have been a mother to your motherless in the grave, and some smothered and overwhelmed in children ; I have put every penny of my fortune into gowns, coifs, ermined robes, and powdered wigs. your till—and now it is to be a leg of mutton after all!'

But I must be permitted to tell my story in my own With caper-sauce, Molly!' added Mr Brown. way. Before lugging the reader into the gig, head and This stroke of policy had a prodigious effect. If Miss shoulders, among half-a-dozen law students — crazy Molly Brown had a weakness in this world, it was a young fellows, without a guinea among the whole set, weakness for caper-sauce; and the very mention of the and with fun and mischief in their heads instead of condiment inveigled to her lips the moisture which liad brains—I must conduct him to the place which is to be begun to rise into her eyes. Still, it was only by dethe scene of our operations. It is true I only learned grees she allowed herself to be subdued. She had a afterwards what I am now about to relate ; but you are passion for self-sacrifice, and offered herself up to the very welcome to the anachronism—all I want to do, is leg of mutton, willingly, it is true, but with a full sense to tell a story about a Leg as plainly and intelligibly as of the immensity of the oblation. As the day wore on, I can.

however, her feelings insensibly changed. As the pot The leg I allude to at present was a leg of mutton; went on boiling steadily — thanks to her care — she and how it came to occupy the important place now imbibed a sort of maternal affection for its contents. assigned to it was in this wise. The Boat-House at She waxed proud of the leg of mutton, which she at Putney was kept at the time by an old widower and an length pronounced to be by far the most þeautiful leg old maid, brother and sister, good-tempered old souls she had ever seen in her life. She, in fact, considered it enough, but with one standing cause of disagreement, a perfect curiosity, and denied emphatically that there videlicet, the Dinner. Not that their tastes were natu- could be such another in all creation. It was now well rally different, either as regarded the viands or the on to one o'clock. The snowy table-cloth was laid in cookery: it was all a question of time. What the the bar-room. Mr Brown fidgetted out and in, waiting brother liked one day the sister liked the next, and vice for the moment to draw the beer; but the moment adtersa. But • liked' is an inproper word to use, for they vanced as slowly as if it had a whole tun on its shoulnever liked anything of this sort. They either loved ders, and the landlord more than once looked sternly at to passion, or hated to excess. Such a thing Mr Brown the clock, suspecting it had some hand in it. As for held in perfect horror on that day of all the days in the Miss Brown, she was in the kitchen, watching the lid week; and the very thoughts of the other thing pro- of the saucepan heaving gently, and opening its lips posed by him were enough to make Miss Brown sick. every now and then to let out a fragrant sigh and a

“ Had we not this very dish,' she demanded indig- musical murmur. The caper-sauce was all ready to be dantly on the present occasion, 'last Tuesday was a poured over the rich and smoking leg the very instant week?'

it was dished. It waited on the dresser in a willow'I will give in to its being roasted instead of boiled!' pattern boat-just as our boat arrived at the pier below said Mr Brown with a sigh.

the house. Of course, of course—because you know I cannot Now, you can know little of the era I am treating stand roasting to - day in my state of health. But of, if you are not aware of the importance we had all this is my thanks for slaving for you and your family | attached to the duty of providing stores for the voyage.

Even still, I admit, we can eat, but at that time we looked critically at the leg, raised it a little with his devoured. At present we are hungry once, or, it may fork, snuffed the caper-sauce, and then looked at his be, twice a day; but at that time all young fellows, sister with an expression of doubt almost amounting to

disagreement. without exception, had a perpetual appetite, which was

• Then it is not to be a beauty after all !' cried Miss ready on every possible and impossible occasion. In a

Molly, taking fire : 'and why not, I wonder? Have I pull up the Thames more especially, it was in constant been a slave to you and your family-have I been a requisition ; and I never heard of any one who was mother to your motherless children-have I put my mad enough to trust to chance in such an expedition. fortune into your till—have I sacrificed myself to your For our part we had three different meetings before leg of mutton--' But Mr Brown's look was at this we could determine on what should be the principal moment so serious, so abstracted from anything like feature of the basket; and it was not without consider- pettishness—nay, so dignified, I may say, that the

She bent towards the able opposition from the minority that at length a leg virgin could get no farther. of boiled pork carried the day. But this was a leg of mystic dish, and the odour of the caper-sauce had the pork ! It hit curiously the precise medium between unwonted effect of diffusing an expression of dismay

Mr Brown bent down upon the salt and fresh ; being just pickled enough to tell you by object of his scrutiny, cut a little, a very little-only a relish on the tongue that it was neither one nor other, just enough to raise the skin—and then, laying down and make you exclaim with the elegant and sensitive his knife and fork, said to his sister with dreadful poet

calmness,

Miss Brown, this is a leg of pork! The worshipOh no, it is something more exquisite still!'

ful member was right. It was our leg of pork, which Well, we arrived, as I was saying, below the Boat-House Tom had exchanged in the twinkling of an eye for - not to dine, however, but merely to refresh ourselves that moment before any justice of the peace in the

their leg of mutton ; but Mr Brown would have gone with a draught of beer on our way. Mooring our gig kingdom, and made oath that there never had been any to the pier, we proceeded to the house, burthened of other leg in the saucepan-that his audacious sister course with the all-important basket. We were not so had determined to gratify at once her taste and her green as to leave that behind us, even for the few stubbornness at the expense of everything great and minutes we meant to be absent. There were too many sacred in human society. On her part, Miss Brown young lawyers, like ourselves, afloat that day, and we

met the charge like a tigress. She had been sacrificed knew well the extent of the appetite of such gentry was none of hers, but his. She had bought it by his

all her life, and would be a sacrifice no longer. The leg both for fun and pickled pork! We entered the Boat- desire, not her own; she had put it into the saucepan House at the critical minute, just when Miss Brown with her own hands, as beautiful a leg of mutton as was thinking to herself, as she peeped into the sauce ever ran; she had watched it ever since as a cat watches pan, that the time was come ; and it was with some ill- a mouse; no human being had entered the kitchen that humour, shared in by the impatient landlord himself, day but herself; she had skimmed it, and turned it again that she found herself called upon to carry in the and again; not two minutes before it was dished she tankard to the new customers.

had raised the lid, and saw that it was the true leg of Our basket was at the time in the custody of Tom mutton it had been all along; she had poured the caper

sauce over it when it came out, just as if it had been Pope, sometimes called (for we had all aliases) Long

an infant of a day old ; and there it was! Tom, and sometimes Peeping Tom, on account of his

‘But I tell you it is a leg of pork !' said Mr Brown unreasonable length, and a strange habit he had of bitterly. prying and tiptoeing wherever he went. It was sur • Let it be what leg it will,' replied Miss Molly, ‘I prising how quietly a fellow of his inches was able to have told you all I know about it.' set about his investigations; but he really seemed to Who ever heard of caper-sauce with pork?' said move from corner to corner like a shadow, and as he the brother. 'I could have forgiven anything but that. was preceded by a nose of uncommon sharpness and That is downright horrible!' Here Miss Brown could lengthiness, he usually smelt out more mischief for us hold no longer, but burst into tears, and wrung her than all the rest of the party together. As Miss Brown hands at such a rate that Mr Brown was almost came into the room with the tankard, Tom saw at once, staggered in his idea of her criminality. After the by her portentous physiognomy, that she had left some mysterious dish was put away in the larder, and they interesting work behind, and we missed him from the had dined on bread and cheese, tranquillity was in room for a minute or two; during which I need hardly some degree restored; but several times throughout the say, although quite ignorant of his whereabout or day, as the recollection recurred to Mr Brown, he looked whatabout, we kept the spinster under cross-examina- sternly at his sister, and was heard to mutter between tion as to the distances of divers places. When at his teeth, Pickled pork and caper-sauce!! length she turned to leave the room, Tom was standing While this scene was passing, we were getting up the listlessly, leaning his elbow upon the wall, and spelling river at a prodigious rate. Never was there a finer a document over the door, indicating that the landlord day, never did the sun flash so brightly upon the was a grand archdeacon of some right-worshipful lodge, water, and never did the water break into such radiant to the meetings of which that room was to be supposed smiles in reply. As for us, we were young, hearty felconsecrated and set apart for ever. As she vanished, lows at anyrate; but on this occasion, the elation of Tom winked at us in a way which told plainly that we success, the consciousness of having done our work had better be off as quickly as might be consistent with cleverly, gave additional vigour to our arms; and in perfect calmness and unconcern; and accordingly we the midst of songs and wild laughter-that still ring in emptied our tankard, lounged down to the boat, and this cold, dull ear-we pursued our way, making the were once more afioat, with our head up the river. skiff leap along the water like a race-horse over a

Glad was Miss Molly Brown to see our backs; and plain. We dined early, and found that the mutton fully wliile the grand archdeacon drew the dinner beer, with justified the eulogium of Miss Molly Brown. Being an energy which sent the froth dancing over the sides provided, however, with other vivres, we did not com. of the pewter, she released her cherished curiosity from pletely finish it; and being aware that we should all the saucepan, instantaneously deluged it with the caper- get as hungry as ever by and by, we put away into sauce, and bore it in triumph into the bar-room.

our basket the bone, which still boasted some tolerable * Isn't it a beauty ?' said Miss Molly, as she settled pickings, and in due time took our way down the river herself in her chair opposite her brother. The brother again.

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By the time we neared the Boat-House of Putney, we It's all the same concern,' said Miss Molly, comhad become so voracious, that Long Tom suggested the ing forward with her mind made up. What do you propriety of casting lots for a victim; and this brought please to want?' back feelingly to our recollection our own leg of pork, What is to pay?' which we had given away in the morning. Perhaps, A shilling a-head, beer and everything included ; thought we, these two curmudgeons may have left and I hope you are satisfied that the cheese is a miracle.' enough on the bone to stay our appetite—with the ad * There is the money: now send the landlord.' dition of the remains of their mutton-till we get home; "The landlord is the bar, where he ought to be. and this idea was strengthened by a natural curiosity He is not to wait upon the parlour, I hope? That is my we felt to know what effect the exchange had produced department, and has been ever since I was born in this on the economy of the Boat-House. In short, we landed, life of slavery and sacrifice; and I humbly expect --' and were once more in the lodge of the worshipful • Mem! we would rather see him, if you have no obbrotherhood. Mr Brown was still sulky and suspicious. jection: we do not want to say anything harsh to you.' He walked about as if he had an air-pickled leg of • Oh never mind me. Not a bit! I will thank you to pork continually marshalling him the way that he was speak out for three weeks if you please; and pray be as going; but the wan and scared look of Miss Molly was harsh as ever you can, for I am used to be offered up!' still more gratifying to our pride. She was like a • What is all this?' said Mr Brown gruffly, as he heroine entangled in an inextricable network of fate, entered the room. “Nobody is to be offered up in my and seemed to feel that in her own person she was house: it is not in my license.' He had evidently been a whole holocaust.

listening at the door. Our chairman fixed his eyes "We want something to eat,' said the spokesman of upon the culprit, and a dead silence prevailed for some our party. "What have you got in the house ?' time in the room.

Nothing !' said Miss Brown, hastily interposing, for “Sir,' said he at length, our covenant was for a leg of her brother was about to speak, and a faint tinge of pork—and we have paid for it.' colour rose into her waxen cheek with the feeling of • Well, sir?' woman's pity which prompted the denial.

'It is not well, sir. Do you call this & respectable Have you nothing at all ?' persisted our friend, ad- house? Do you call yourself a respectable licensed dressing the masculine. “No cold meat?'

victualler ? And do you presume to treat a respectable • Nothing,' replied the host, “but a leg of–hem!' party in so improper a manner?' We could see the (catching his breath).

landlord struggle hard, but in vain, to extricate his eyes ' A leg of what?'

from their captivity, that he might glance, if only for • Pork.'

one moment, upon the dish. Miss Brown, however, who " That is capital-I like pork. What say you, Tom?' was in no such durance, was by this time bending a

By all means let us have it. Were it mutton, the look upon the muttor, bone, of such helpless dismay, that case would be different; for cold mutton does not agree we wished ourselves well out of the house. with me in the afternoon. What say you, gentlemen ?' Sir,' concluded the chairman, rising in dignified dis

* Perhaps,' interposed Miss Molly compassionately, gust, ' your imposition was discreditable, and your effron*the gentlemen would prefer cheese? It is a perfect tery has made it worse. We compassionate you—we miracle of cheese ours is!' But the notion was scouted despise you—and we wish you a particularly good afterindignantly, and 'A pork—a pork!' was the general noon!' and so saying, he clapped his hat on his head, cry.

and strode out of the room, all of us following in imiThe table accordingly was prepared; and you may tation, and taking leave of the criminal as we passed guess our surprise when at length our own leg of pork with a look of indignant scorn. made its appearance entire! This was beyond our When we got to our boat, one of us was missing : it bopes; and many a fond imagination we gave way to, was Long Tom, and we waited impatiently for his aras we saw the spot where the skin had been cautiously rival, that we might get out far enough into the river raised, and endeavoured to picture to ourselves the feel- to indulge, without discovery, in the laughter that was ings of the dinner-party on discovering the nature of smothering us. Poor Mr Brown had not turned his the metamorphosed mutton.

eyes upon the dish while we were in the room. He The mirth of our second dinner was as keen, but not seemed to be under a spell, which compelled his enduras loud, as that of the first. We would not attract our ance of our parting glances, as we glided away like so bost's attention in any way; for, in point of fact, we all many spectre-kings; and all the while he could have had knew that the thing could not end where it was, though nothing more than an indistinct impression of someeach of us might have been uncertain as to the next thing dreadful connected with the leg. We wished we more it would be proper to make. The affair, however, could have seen him afterwards; we wished we could was settled in due time by Long Tom; who, at the have heard the colloquy which must have ensued beconclusion of the repast, extricated his mutton- bone tween him and his sister; but all we were ever after able from the basket, and in a cool and business-like manner to ascertain was, that his perplexity ended in downright exchanged it for the pork-bone upon the table. We fury, which discharged itself upon bone and dish alike. then gave the bell a pull-a short, stern, but dignified When Long Tom at length rejoined us, we found pull; and Miss Molly came into the room full of expec- that, loath to leave the scene of his triumphs, he had tation, but with the undaunted air of an Indian widow been peeping about the court for fresh mischief, when eonsenting to the sati.

all on a sudden a window opened, and some missive Now, our chairman was a fellow who made his for whirled over his head, smashed against the opposite tane afterwards on the northern circuit merely by his wall, and fell into the dust-bin. Curious to know the eyes. Not that there was any expression in them, but nature of the article, Tom tiptoed over the way, and to the very reverse. They were large, full, dark, mean- his great gratification found the bewitched leg, and the ingless orbs, which looked at you without winking for fragments of the dish that had held it. He inmediately minutes at a time, till you were lost and drowned in a whipped up, unperceived, the mutton bone, exchanged profundity that seemed to have neither surface, nor it once more for the pork bone, and took his leave of sides, nor bottom. What fascination there could be in the Boat-House, well satisfied with his day's work. puch eyes no one could ever imagine; but the mystery I need not say that we rowed merrily home that did not affect the fact; and although our friend was the afternoon. It was so long before we could make another mildest-spoken man on earth, I never knew a witness holiday on the river, that the impression made on the in his hands who did not complain that he was brow- brother and sister by the above incident appeared to beaten!

be in some measure worn out. Not, however, to be * We do not want you, mem!' said he with chilling accused of shabbiness, we made up by our reckoning politeness. "Be so good as to send the landlord.' what the unfortunate victualler may be supposed to

have lost by our stratagem; and thus our consciences you wish to know what the lark says, you must lie were relieved. The affair, however, was kept a pro- down on your back in the field and listen, when the found secret from the brother and sister, who had been following discourse will reach you :both materially improved in temper, and were never

• Up in the lift we go, afterwards heard to quarrel about what they should

Te-hee, te-hee, te-hee, to-hee! have for dinner.

There's not a shoemaker on the earth
Can make a shoe to me!
Why so, why so, why so?

Because my heel is as long as my toe!
SKETCHES IN NATURAL HISTORY.

The situation of the nest exposes the young to many THE LARK.

accidents; but the attachment of the mother is ever • To the last point of vision, and beyond, Mount, daring warbler! that love-prompted strain

ready to repair these as far as possible. A mower hav. ("Twixt thee and thine a never failing bond)

ing cut off the top of a skylark's nest, leaving her Thrills not the less the bosom of the plain.

sitting on her young, she speedily set herself to forming Yet mightst thou seem, proud privilege! to sing

a kind of dome of dry grass over their heads, with a All independent of the leafy spring.

hole at the side for herself to go out and in at. The Leave to the nightingale her shady wood;

mother lark, according to Jesse, will even, when alarmed, A privacy of glorious light is thine;

remove her eggs or young to a new and safer situation. Whence thou dost pour upon the world a flood Of harmony, with rapture more divine;

Buffon tells an interesting story of the instinctive philo. Type of the wise, who soar, but never roam;

progenitiveness of a female skylark, which had as yet True to the kindred points of heaven and home.'

no offspring of her own. “In the month of May," he WORDSWORTH.

says, 'a young hen-bird was brought to me, which was The well-known habits of the skylark, as here alluded not able to feed without assistance. She was hardly to by the poet, have made it an object of much popular fledged, when I received a nest of three or four uninterest. There is hardly anything in nature more fledged skylarks. She took a strong liking to the new. cheerfully beautiful than the song of this bird, as he comers, which were scarcely younger than herself. She soars high above his nest on a sunny morning. It has tended them night and day, cherished them beneath been appreciated in all ages, and the poets, from Theo- her wings, and fed them with her bill. Nothing could critus downwards, have been eager to pour out their interrupt her tender offices. If the young ones were feelings on the subject. Old Chaucer expresses himself taken from her, she flew to them as soon as liberated, thus beautifully :

and would not attempt to effect her own escape, which • The merry lark, messenger of day,

she might have done a hundred times. Her affection Saleweth in her song the morrow gray,

grew upon her; she neglected food and drink; she now And fiery Phæbus riseth up so bright,

required the same support as her adopted offspring, and That all the orient laugheth at the sight.'

expired at last, consumed with maternal anxiety. None With Shakspeare the lark is the herald of the morn,' of the young ones survived, so essential were her cares, which is a term strictly true to nature, as the bird rises which were equally tender and judicious.' in the air and commences his song before day. He has The singing of birds, it is now well known, bears rebeen heard so early as two o'clock of a spring morning. ference to the feelings of the breeding season. In the Milton, who likewise calls him the herald lark, brings United States of America the lark is mute, and the him into a series of the most beautiful images anywhere force of a whole host of allusions in English poetry to be met with in poetry, where, in L'Allegro, he de- lost, in consequence of the bird resorting to grounds scribes himself in a situation

farther north to breed.t With us, the male bird is ever • To hear the lark begin his flight,

ready, under the genial influence of the sun, or even at And singing, startle the dull night,

its approach, to spring up from the nest and pour forth From his watch-tower in the skies,

his song, while the female, directly below, sits upon her Till the dappled dawn doth rise; Then to come, in spite of sorrow,

young, perhaps enjoying the melody. Mr Mudie has And at my window bid good-morrow,

described the mode of this serenade more minutely than Through the sweet-brier or the vine,

any other writer. “The lark rises,' he says, 'not like Or the twisted eglantine.'

most birds, which climb the air upon one slope, by a These words kindle up the flush and sparkle of summer succession of leaps, as if a heavy body were raised by a dawn in our minds, in whatever circumstances we may succession of efforts, or steps, with pauses between : it hear them.

twines upward like a vapour, borne lightly on the The larks are a family of many species, widely scat- atmosphere, and yielding to the motions of that as other tered over the globe. To Britain belong only two species vapours do. Its course is a spiral, gradually enlarging; - the skylark and the woodlark. The families nearest and, seen on the side, it is as if it were keeping the to them in character are the pipits, buntings, and tits, boundary of a pillar of ascending smoke, always on the all of them, like the larks, field-birds. The skylark is surface of that logarithmic column (or funnel rather), a handsome bird, of about seven inches in length, of a which is the only figure that, on a narrow base, and gravelly colour, with a pointed conical beak, and long spreading as it ascends, satisfies the eye with its statoes spreading out from one point, the hinder one being bility and self-balancing in the thin and invisible fluid. furnished with an unusually long claw. It is a creature Nor can it seem otherwise, for it is true to nature. In of innocent habits, supported chiefly on grain and seeds, the case of smoke or vapour, it diffuses itself in the though it feeds its young exclusively with insects and exact proportion as the density or power of support in larvæ. The destination of the bird is to a life on the the air diminishes; and the lark widens the volutions ground, where it builds in any little recess it can find, of its spiral in the very same proportion: of course it such as that between two clods, making its nest of dry does so only when perfectly free from disturbance or grass and herbs. Grahame says justly in his Birds of alarm, because either of these is a new element in the Scotland

cause, and as such it must modify the effect. When • Thou, simple bird, dwellest in a home

equally undisturbed, the descent is by a reversal of the The humblest; yet thy morning song ascends

same spiral; and when that is the case, the song is conNearest to heaven.'

tinued during the whole time that the bird is in the Generally, it has four eggs at a time, but it will breed air. twice or even thrice in one season. The length of the toe

. The accordance of the song with the mode of the is an arrangement of nature, to enable it to walk over ascent and descent is also worthy of notice. When the grass. It is decidedly the most peculiar feature of the external figure, and, as such, las excited the wonder of the rustic people, among whom a fancy prevails that, if |

* Edward Blyth, in the Naturalist, quoted by Mr Yarrell. + Wilson's American Ornithology.

rolutions of the spiral are narrow, and the bird chang

Hark-hark ! ing its attitude rapidly in proportion to the whole

Thou merry lark!

Reckless thou how I may pine ; quantity of light, the song is partially suppressed, and

Let love, tyrant, work his will, it swells as the spiral widens, and sinks as it contracts ;

Plunging me in anguish still : so that though the notes may be the same, it is only

Whatsoe'er when the lark sings poised at the same height that it

May be my care,

True shall bide this heart of mine. sings in a uniform key. It gives a swelling song as it ascends, and a sinking one as it comes down; and even

Hark-hark ! if it take but one wheel in the air, as that wheel always

Thou merry lark ! includes either an ascent or a descent, it varies the

Reckless thou what griefs are mine;

Corne, relieve my heart's distress, pitch of the song.

Though in truth the pain is less, * The song of the lark, besides being a most acces

That she frown, sible and delightful subject for common observation, is a

Than if unknown very curious one for the physiologist. Every one in

She for whom I ceaseless pine.

Ilark-hark ! the least conversant with the structure of birds must

Thou merry lark ! be aware that, with them, the organs of intonation and

Reckless thou how I may pine.' modulation are inward, deriving little assistance from the tongue, and none, or next to none, from the man- it is sure to be at certain seasons, it is very good eating.

The lark is in esteem for the table, and when fat, as dibles of the bill. The windpipe is the musical organ, At Dunstable, where the animal is said to be in perand it is often very curiously formed. that organ less for breathing than other animals hav- fection, in consequence of the dry chalky soil on which ing a windpipe and lungs, because of the air-cells and it lives, they make lark-pies, which are sent all over breathing-tubes with which all parts of their bodies England as delicacies. The immensity of the number (even the bones) are furnished. But those diffused of skylarks insures that 'larking' may be carried on to breathing organs must act with least freedom when the a great extent, with no danger to the preservation of bird is making the greatest efforts in motion—that is, the species. So great are the flocks in which the bird when ascending or descending; and in proportion as

is found in Germany, that a tax of about a halfpenny these cease to act, the trachea is the more required a dozen, paid upon them at Leipsic, amounted, a numfor the purposes of breathing. The skylark thus con

ber of years ago, to twelve thousand crowns, implying verts the atmosphere into a musical instrument of many Michaelmas to Martinmas, the grounds in that quarter

an annual take of seventeen millions of birds. From stops, and so produces an exceedingly wild and varied Bong - a song which is perhaps not equal either in

are said to be literally covered with them.*

The common mode of catching larks in England is power or compass, in the single stave, to that of many of the warblers, but one which is more varied in the by a large net, which the people draw over the fields. whole succession. All birds that sing ascending or de

There is, however, a variety in this mode of larking,' scending, have similar power, but the skylark has it in which is practised in a few places, and which takes

advantage of a curious disposition or weakness of the a degree superior to any other.'*

bird. A curved piece of wood, with bits of lookingAt the sight of the hawk, the lark descends in an instant like a stone to the ground. On such occasions, glass stuck over it, is fixed across the top of a pole in and at any time when apprehensive of danger to its the ground, with a string and a reel to cause it to young, it alights a little way from the nest, and gets which he pulls occasionally, so as to produce the re

revolve. A person sitting at a distance holds the string, home in as stealthy a manner as possible. A change volution of the piece of wood. The birds are attracted of weather has an effect on the disposition to sing. in great numbers over the place : the common notion Warton beautifully says

is, that they come to see themselves in the bits of * Fraught with a transient frozen shoiver,

mirror; but probably they are only fascinated by the If a cloud should haply lower,

dazzle of the sun's rays reflected therein. The men Sailing o'er the landscape dark, Mute on a sudden is the lark ;

then bring a net over the spot, and catch great numbers But when gleams the sun again

of birds. In France, when other sporting is intermitted, O'er the pearl-besprinkled plain,

the country gentlemen set up the twirling miroir in And from behind his watery veil

the charge of a boy, and amuse themselves by shooting Looks through the thin descending hail;

the assembled larks. Sometimes half a dozen parties She mounts, and, lessening to the sight, Salutes the blithe return of light,

will be seen thus engaged on a field of no great extent; And high her tuneful track pursues,

even ladies attend to behold the sport. There is someMid the dim rainbow's scattered hues.'

thing unaccountable in the behaviour of the birds on The song of the lark is of a merry character, and these occasions, for they flutter round the miroir withindividuals who are highly susceptible of external in- out any regard to the deaths of their companions, as if fluences usually feel cheered by it. This is expressed insensible to danger. A French gentleman will thus in the following extract from the Paradis d'Amour :

bag six dozen larks before breakfast.†

The lark, like several other of the conirostral tribes, *The livelong night, as was my wonted lot,

is occasionally found of an extraordinary colour, either In tears had passed, nor yet day's orb was hot, When forth I walked my sorrows to beguile,

black, or almost pure white. They are often reared Where freshly smelling fields with dewdrops smile. from the nest in England, and sold as song-birds, in

which character good specimens are so highly esteemed Already with his shrilling carol gay The vaulting skylark hailed the sun from far;

as to bring fifteen shillings a-piece. Not long since, a And with so sweet a music seemed to play

gentleman residing at Hackney, near London, kept My heart-strings round, as some propitious star

twelve or fifteen pairs in an aviary connected with one Ilad chased whate'er might fullest joyaunce mar :

of his windows, where they appeared in excellent Bathed in delicious dews that morning bright, Thus strove my voice to speak my soul's delight :

health and plumage, repaying the care and attention

bestowed upon them by pursuing the round of their Hark--hark !

various interesting habits—the song, the courtship, the Thou merry lark ! Reckless thou how I may pine ;

nest-building, and feeding their young:' Would but love my vows befriend,

The woodlark is smaller than the skylark : it builds To my warm embraces send

under the shelter of bushes, and perches on trees, and That sweet fair one,

is more insectivorous than its ally. It sings while Brightest, dear one, Then my joy might equal thine.

* Shaw's Zoology, vol. x. 504.

+ Ilone's Every Day Book, ii. 93. * Mudie's Feathered Tribes of the British Islands, ii. 6.

# Yarrell's British Birds, i. 450.

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