« НазадПродовжити »
land, collect the soft, light, elastic down of the eider duck, and export it in large quantities.
The canary, which delights the peasant in his cottage and the peer in his palace, is a native of the islands associated with its name. Over the Sahara the ostrich is pursued for its plumes to decorate the head-dress of ladies. Its habits are well portrayed by Job " Which leaveth her eggs in the earth, and warmeth them in the dust, and forgetteth that the foot may crush them, or that the wild beast may break them. She is hardened against her young ones as though they were not hers.
What time she lifteth up herself on high, she scorneth the horse and his rider.” In the tropical woods of Africa, parrots of gorgeous hues screech and chatter as they fly from the nimble monkeys, which are in constant pursuit. Under the brilliant sun, sunbirds, almost as diminutive as the humming birds of America, display their rich and dazzling plumage.
Asia, although not possessing so rich a variety of birds as of quadrupeds, is the native seat of several interesting and useful members of the feathered race. Most of our domestic poultry came originally from this quarter of the globe. The peacock, so rich in dress and harsh in voice, was exported from its native India to ornament the palace grounds of Solomon. The golden pheasant, the delight of the sportsmen of Britain, still builds its nest among the tea-plantations of China. Birds of brilliant plumage abound in the east of the continent of Asia, and song birds are most numerous in the west. Roosting on the fig and teak trees of New Guinea, or flying against the wind to preserve unruffled their light spreading tails, birds of paradise astonish the beholder with the beauty of their dress. Although the body is only as large as that of a thrush, yet the length of the tail feathers is nearly two feet.
Australia, deprived by nature of song birds and poultry, is attempting to introduce those of the British islands, and with such success that ere long the lark will probably be heard in almost every wood, and fowls be found round every cottage door. Cockatoos, and other
birds of the parrot tribe, are very numerous among the gum-trees and acacias of that continental island; and the lyre-bird is sometimes seen displaying the splendid tail to which it owes its name. The emu, or Australian ostrich, which bears some resemblance to the African species, and the brush turkey, are also worthy of notice. A flock of the latter collects an immense heap of decayed leaves by a united effort, and then each individual deposits her eggs to be hatched in this artificial hot-bed.
As we cross the ocean to America, the wandering albatross may be observed quietly facing the gale, and with graceful ease hovering over the foam-crested billows. When flying-fish are darting over the surface of the deep, the frigate bird, whose wings measure fourteen feet and are so powerful as to enable it to soar beyond the range of vision, adds to the interest of the spectacle, while over the snowy crest of every wave the little stormy petrel skims along. As we approach the land, around the shores of the Falkland Islands, myriads of strange-looking penguins may be noticed swimming, or, by the aid of their featherless wing-stumps, climbing the cliffs.
Immense flocks of gulls, black skimmers, and other marine birds cover the waters around the small Chincha Islands, near the coast of Peru. In the course of ages these birds have covered the ground with stores of guano which has recently been found invaluable to the farmer.
On the bare cliffs of the Andes, bordering on the line of perpetual snow, the gigantic condor lays her two white eggs. Within the tropical parts of the western hemisphere, birds of the most glittering plumage flit from bough to bough. Humming-birds are the most celebrated, as well as the most beautiful. When seen fluttering about in the brilliant rays of a tropical sun, thrusting their long beaks into every flower in pursuit of insects, they appear like flying gems. They hover over flowers, and by the rapid vibration of their wings make the peculiar noise to which they owe their name.
Among the enemies that are chiefly dreaded by the smaller kinds of American birds, the black snake is one of the most formidable. It feeds upon birds, lizards, rats, and all kinds of small animals. Like many reptiles of its class it has the power of ascending trees, and often lies coiled round a branch, with its head raised a few inches above its body, awaiting the approach of its feathered prey. Its hated presence, strange to say, is soon detected by all the birds in its immediate neighbourhood, and they flutter round it, uttering cries of alarm and terror, until one of them, paralysed as it were by the baleful glitter of the snake's eyes, and utterly unable to escape, literally drops into its open jaws.
In the United States are found many birds, species of which are common to other lands; but the white-headed eagle is worthy of notice, since it supplies the national emblem of the great republic. As we proceed northward, myriads of birds, in their passage to the Polar regions, darken the air; for as soon as the summer heat thaws the ice-bound earth, the shores of the Arctic Ocean teem with countless numbers of herons, rails, sand-pipers, and other strand birds, which there find their favourite food in rich abundance.
EXERCISE.-30. PARSING, &c. 1. Parse the relative pronouns in the first and two last paragraphs.
2. Write out the clauses in each of the sentences of the first paragraph, and name the conjunctions joining them.
3. Show whether the last four sentences are simple, complex, or compound.
4. Parse (with reasons) the following words in the last paragraph :birds, species, common, worthy, since, as, northward, for as soon as, summer, strand.
5. What are the roots of ;-distribution, confers, obstacles, migrates, mutilate, republic?
AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND. an-ti-po-des (Gr. anti, against; pous, a foot], those who live on the opposite side of the globe, and whose feet are therefore turned towards ours. Pol-y-ne-si-a [Gk. polus, much, many; nēsős, an island), a divi. sion of Oceania, so called from containing many islands. . di-min-ish [L. di; minuo, to lessen); decrease, grow less in quantity or number. WHILE the inhabitants of Britain are resting from the labours of the day or consuming the midnight oil, the
people on the other side of the globe are in the full rush of their daily occupation. When the moon sails calmly along our evening sky, to them the sun is rising in his glory ; our night is their day; our day their night. The countries inhabited by these people are Australia and New Zealand ; and being on the opposite side of the globe, so that a line drawn from Great Britain through the world's centre would pierce its surface where these countries are situated, they form our antipodes.
Australia and New Zealand form part of a great division of the world, called Oceania, which lies to the south and east of Asia, and is subdivided into four parts, called Malaysia, Australasia, Micronesia, and Polynesia. The first name implies that it is inhabited by the Malay race; the second simply means Southern Asia, while the third tells us that the islands which are found in it are small in size; and the fourth, that the islands that stud its surface are many in number. Since all of these—the thousand isles of Polynesia and the larger masses of Australasia-lie on the bosom of the wide Pacific, the division of the world in which they are comprised has received the name of Oceania.
Of this division of the world, the most interesting part in British eyes must be Australia and New Zealando In them the greater portion of the people are of British origin, and nearly everything for which these places are remarkable has been achieved by the energy of the Saxon race. Their efforts alone have developed the natural resources with which they have been endowed; and the capital and enterprise which are at present engaged in those distant fields of labour have gone forth from the mother country. The natives, savage in their habits and retreating from the inroads of civilization, are disappearing from the ground which they formerly occupied but failed to improve.
Australia, or, as it was formerly called, New Holland, is sometimes described as the largest island in the world, but modern geographers, on account of its size, properly place it among the continents. It bears a striking resemblance to Africa in the dry and sandy character of much of its soil and the position of its mountains, which rise to no very great elevation parallel to the coast. Like Africa, also, its interior has been only partially explored, the ex. treme heat and scarcity of water forming serious barriers in the way of travellers. What covers the vast area of its inland territory is as yet a matter for speculation. It may abound with fertile plains or be a barren desert; its lands may be level prairies, or traversed by mountain ranges; its streams may be few and unimportant, or roll along towards the ocean with a breadth and depth of channel sufficient for inland navigation.
So far, indeed, as the continent of Australia has hitherto been explored, the land seems admirably adapted for pasture, but the rivers frequently diminish in volume as they approach the sea, and thus their value for commerce is greatly lessened. The animal which is reared most successfully is the sheep, for the tufted Australian grass suits it admirably, while a small supply of water satisfies its wants.
Long continued droughts render much of the Australian continent an unpleasant abode, but on the whole the southern portion is extremely healthy compared with the variable climate of our own fog-infested islands. Vast clouds of dust, the product of the long continued absence of rain, render cases of ophthalmia very numerous, but this may be said to be the only disease produced by the climate. The eastern shore of Australia is remarkable for the great variety and beauty of its plants, and to this circumstance Botany Bay owes its name, Captain Cook having so called it from the rich and profuse luxuriance of vegetation which everywhere met his eye.
Australia is divided into six parts, but it is only the south-eastern portion which is noted for its population and prosperity. The divisions are: New South Wales in the south-east, with Sydney as its chief town; South Australia in the south, with Adelaide ; Victoria in the south-east, with Melbourne ; Queensland in the east, with Brisbane ; North Australia, with Victoria or Port Essington ; and Western Australia, formerly called Swan River settlement, with Perth. These are the chief divisions of the country, but many other tracts have distinct names, from the ships which first visited their coasts, or the commanders by whom they were navigated.