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croak, can exert a deep and solemn note that makes the woods to echo; the amorous sound of a crow is strange and ridiculous ; rooks, in the breeding season, attempt sometimes in the gaiety of their hearts to sing, but with no great success; the parrot-kind have many modulations of voice, as appears by their aptitude to learn human sounds; doves coo in an amorous and mournful manner, and are emblems of despairing lovers; the woodpecker sets up a sort of loud and hearty laugh ; the fern-owl, or goat-sucker, from the dusk till daybreak, serenades his mate with clattering of castanets. All the tuneful passeres express their complacency by sweet modulations, and a variety of melody. The swallow, as has been observed in a former letter, by a shrill alarm bespeaks the attention of the other hirundines, and bids them be aware the hawk is at hand. Aquatic and gregarious birds, especially the nocturnal, that shift their quarters in the dark, are very noisy and loquacious ; as cranes, wild-geese, wild-ducks, and the like; their perpetual clamour prevents them from dispersing and losing their companions. In so extensive a subject, sketches and outlines are as
can be expected; for it would be endless to instance in all the infinite variety of the feathered nation. We shall therefore confine the remainder of this letter to the few domestic fowls of our yards, which are most known, and therefore best understood. And first the peacock, with his gorgeous train, demands our attention ; but, like most of the gaudy birds, his notes are grating and shocking to the ear : the yelling of cats, and the braying of an ass, are not more disgustful. The voice of the goose is trumpetlike and clanking, and once saved the Capitol at Rome, as grave historians assert; the hiss, also, of the gander is formidable and full of menace, and “protective of his young." Among ducks the sexual distinction of voice is remarkable ; for, while the quack of the female is loud and sonorous, the voice of the drake is inward and harsh, and feeble, and scarce discernible. The cock turkey struts and gobbles to his mistress in a most uncouth manner; he hath also a pert and petulant note when he attacks his adversary. When a hen turkey leads forth her young brood she keeps a watchful eye; and if a bird of prey appear, though ever so high in the air, the careful mother announces the enemy with a little inward moan, and watches him with a steady and attentive look; but, if he approach, her note becomes earnest and alarming, and her outcries are redoubled.
No inhabitants of a yard seem possessed of such a variety of expression and so copious a language as common poultry, Take a chicken of four or five days old, and hold it up to a window where there are flies, and it will immediately seize its prey, with little twitterings of complacency; but if you tender it a wasp or a bee, at once its note becomes harsh, and expressive of disapprobation and a sense of danger. When a pullet is ready to lay she intimates the event by a joyous and easy soft note. Of all the occurrences of their life that of laying seems to be the most important; for no sooner has a hen disburdened herself, than she rushes forth with a clamorous kind of joy, which the cock and the rest of his mistresses immediately adopt. The tumult is not confined to the family concerned, but catches from yard to yard, and spreads to every homestead within hearing, till at last the whole village is in an uproar. As soon as a hen becomes a mother her new relation demands a new language; she then runs clocking and screaming about, and seems agitated as if possessed. The father of the flock has also a considerable vocabulary; if he finds food, he calls a favourite concubine to partake; and if a bird of prey passes
over, with a warning voice he bids his family beware. The gallant chanticleer has, at command, his amorous phrases and his terms of defiance. But the sound by which he is best known is his crowing: by this he has been distinguished in all ages as the countryman's clock or larum, as the watchman that proclaims the divisions of the night. Thus the poet elegantly styles him—
-the crested cock, whose clarion sounds
The silent hours." A neighbouring gentleman one summer had lost most ot his chickens by a sparrow-hawk, that came gliding down between a faggot pile and the end of his house to the place where the coops stood. The owner, inwardly vexed to see his flock thus diminished, hung a setting-net adroitly between the pile and the house, into which the caitiff dashed, and was entangled. Resentment suggested the law of retaliation; he therefore clipped the hawk's wings, cut off his talons, and, fixing a cork on his bill, threw him down among the brood-hens.
Imagination cannot paint the scene that ensued; the expressions that fear, rage, and revenge inspired were new, or at least such as had been unnoticed before : the exasperated matrons upbraided, they execrated, they insulted, they triumphed. In a word, they never desisted from buffeting their adversary till they had torn him in a hundred pieces.
Quid tantum Oceano properent se tingere soles
GENTLEMEN who have outlets might contrive to make ornament subservient to utility : a pleasing eye-trap might also contribute to promote science : an obelisk in a garden or park might be both an embellishment and an heliotrope.
Any person that is curious, and enjoys the advantage of a good horizon, might, with little trouble, make two heliotropes; the one for the winter, the other for the summer solstice: and the two erections might be constructed with very little expense; for two pieces of timber framework, about ten or twelve feet high, and four feet broad at the base, and close lined with plank, would answer the purpose.
The erection for the former should, if possible, be placed within sight of some window in the common sittingparlour; because men, at the dead season of the year, are usually within doors at the close of the day; while that for the latter might be fixed for any given spot in the garden or outlet; whence the owner might contemplate, in a fine summer's evening, the utmost extent that the sun makes to the northward at the season of the longest days. Now nothing would be necessary but to place these two objects with so much exactness, that the westerly limb of the sun, at setting, might but just clear the winter heliotrope to the west of it on the shortest day; and that the whole disc of the sun, at the longest day, might exactly at setting also clear the summer heliotrope to the north of it.
By this simple expedient it would soon appear that there is no such thing, strictly speaking, as a solstice ; for, from the shortest day, the owner would, every clear evening, see the disc advancing at its setting, to the westward of the object; and, from the longest day, observe the sun retiring backwards every evening at its setting, towards the object westward, till, in a few nights, it would set quite behind it, and so by degrees, to the west of it: for when the sun comes near the summer solstice, the whole disc of it would at first set behind the object; after a time the northern limb would first appear, and so every night gradually more, till at length the whole diameter would set northward of it for about three nights; but on the middle night of the three, sensibly more remote than the former or following. When beginning its recess from the summer tropic, it would continue more and more to be hidden every night, till at length it would descend quite behind the object again ; and so nightly more and more to the westward.
"--Mugire videbis Sub bedibus terram, et descendere montibus ornos.
WHEN I was a boy I used to read, with astonishment and implicit assent, accounts in Baker's Chronicle of walking hills and travelling mountains. John Philips, in his Cyder,