« НазадПродовжити »
CHAPTER VIII. The Walegonidae, or Kingfishers.
CHAPTER X. The Singing-Birds of Britain.
OST persons are pleased with the varied
forms of animal life presented to the
ters of the globe, reveal the astonishing diversities found in the vast world of the animated kingdom. This delight is felt by the child who tremblingly rides in “papa's” arms, on the back of the old elephant; or gazes, with all possible reverence, on the lion, which he supposes capable of defeating, if not of devouring, all the
soldiers he has just seen exercising in Hyde Park. Nor is the gratification produced by such a sight confined to children; the man of seventy receives an accession of ideas concerning the wide-spread world of life which crowds the far-off lands, whither he can never hope to go. Lions from the African deserts, tigers and elephants from central Asia, bears from the arctic circles, and groups of chattering monkeys from the dense forests of the torrid zone, - combine with the creatures of air and ocean to amplify his views of the Divine works.
Thus, from an imprisoned leopard, or a caged eagle, our minds may receive the lessons which will incite to a more loving and profound observation of all the living universe, and enable us to take that proper interest in
the animal creation which is as much a duty as it is a pleasure. It is a duty certainly; for is it not incumbent upon all men to regard the works of their Almighty Father and Author !
And do not all animals exhibit numberless instances of the wisdom, power, and goodness of Him by whom we live ? We commonly say, that the Godhead is invisible ; but what bright manifestations are seen by the reverent student of Nature, whose dim ideas are brought into a rich light, and his prejudices scattered, like fogs before the rising sun, by a calm and wide survey of the visible works of God!
No animal lives in vain ; and to see the end accomplished by each, or even by a few, is as useful in forming our moral views, as it is a luxury to the intellect. No thoughtful man can walk tbrough a zoological garden without acquiring much knowledge of a hundred different forms of animal life; he is therefore richer after such a survey than before ; richer in new facts, and new ideas concerning old facts.
It is, however, to be regretted, that very many persons of all ages derive little real benefit from their visits to such institutions as those in the Regent's Park and Surrey Gardens, in consequence of ignorance of the history, habits, and uses of the various animals. It is a good rule, to read attentively some short work on such subjects before visiting a zoological collection. The observer will then derive both more pleasure and more information from his visit than is otherwise possible. How frequently do we see a large party walking listlessly amongst the animals, or attentive only to some rare exhibition of ferocity or size! They know nothing of the creatures around; and see, therefore, little to interest, save the 'mere forms of the animals. The whole garden may be gone round, the party have had a "pleasuring ;" but will carry little additional knowledge away. The youngsters ask questions, it may be, of the seniors, who are unable to answer; and the young masters receive no gentle snubbing for pertinaciously questioning their irritable old uncles. Some previous knowledge of the animals would have prepared the whole party to ask and give information ; whilst each would have confirmed or corrected his former ideas. The intelligent see the interesting features of an object, when the ignorant pass by the most important subjects, unconscious of their worth, like a blind man in a diamond-mine, to whom common pebbles and precious stones are the same, An antiquary walks up to an old castle, examines the turns of the moat with care, scrutinises the place where the old drawbridge stood, scans the portcullis with interest, as he remembers some deed of note performed