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the "country folk" this prodigality of "the benedictions of the covering heavens” and teeming earth.
But, thanks to our stars, we were not always thus “cribbed, cabined, and confined !” That we have a heart still, and some few tears left, to be spilt on occasion, we attribute solely to the fact that we have lived much abroad in the freedom of God's own woods and plains and rivers—that our voice has
“Awaked the courteous Echo
in some strange, far places.
We have met this same master Bobby Linkum masquerading in another dress through the savannahs of the pleasant south, and such tricks before high Heaven as the gad-about doth play, must make the angels smile—not "weep”—to witness !
But be comforted, thou of little locomotion! thou shalt know, even at thine own fire-side, this fantastical, as well in his remoter wanderings toward the tropics, as in his lovemaking time in thine own meadows-for
" Audubon !
has been upon his track. He with the
“ Power to bear the untravelled soul
Hear what he caught master Bobby at: “During their sojourn in Louisiana, in spring, their song,
, which is extremely interesting, and emitted with a volubility bordering on the burlesque, is heard from a whole party at the same time; when, as each individual is, of course, possessed of the same musical power as his neighbors, it becomes
amusing to listen to thirty or forty of them beginning one after another, as if ordered to follow in quick succession, after the first notes given by a leader, and producing such a medley as it is impossible to describe, although it is extremely pleasant to hear it. While you are listening, the whole flock simultaneously ceases, which appears equally extraordinary. . This curious exhibition takes place every time that the flock has alighted on a tree, after feeding for awhile on the ground, and is renewed at intervals during the day.”
But these are not all the curious ways Robert has.
He is very fashionable, and like the other “absentee” gentry of the south, follows the spring toward the north to do his courting. Now this is very sagacious of master Robfor he is aware that “spruce and jocund” maiden has a way of making up for her shorter stay in these boreal regions, by the displaying a greater profusion of “beck and nod, and wreathed smiles !"
Sometimes the gallant is in too great a hurry to get the benefit of these sweet dispensations, and he reaches the amorous vicinage before his “sparking suit” has come out—(the change usually occurs during his transit).
Robert is so evidently mortified at the want of his “Sunday-go-to-meetins” at such a time, that Mr. Audubon puts forth the insinuation that the feathered “Mercutio" mopish for awhile ;-—such a volcanic heart has he, though, that in spite of this, “no sooner does a flock of females (who follow from a week to ten days after) make its appearance, than these dull-looking gentlemen immediately pay them such particular attention, and sing so vehemently, that the fact of their being of a different sex becomes undeniable."
Rob gets his fine clothes on at last, and, while the loveseason lasts, becomes more sprightly than ever.
“Their song is mostly performed in the air, while they are rising and falling in successive jerks, which are as amusing as the jingling of their vocal essays. The variety of their colors is at this juncture very remarkable. It is equally so,
when, on rising among from the grass and flying away from the observer, they display the pure black and white of their wings and body.”
That love-song of Rob's has been greatly admired, and several efforts have been made by distinguished amateurs to set its music to words.
Nobody has made much of it, except our Irving, and as we cannot quote him here, we shall not attempt to do it our. self l—for the truth is, Rob is such a rattling, voluble, reckless, mad, melodious ranter, that an attempt to translate him is almost out of the question-indeed, it would take a folio of MS. to give all the little cataract of tender epithets that pours in liquid gushes from his blithe throat, as he goes flut tering and wagging up and down from one tall mullien top to another!
But Robert is in love, and sober people should not judge him hardly—if they loved any one heartily as he loves Mrs. Mary Linkum-hid away yonder in the grass, brooding over those five speckled eggs—and their hearts were as light as his, they would be garrulous too—that is all! Ah, Bobby! Bobby! we fear you are but a graceless scamp at last—to think! that after such a mirthful life of musical lunacy, you should turn freebooter before the year is out, and get yourself shot at. Mr. Audubon tells a sad tale of your after doings. We have misgivings you're a dissipated, rollicking bird, at best, Rob!
“No sooner have the young left the nest, than they and their parents associate with other families, so that by the end of July large flocks begin to appear. They seem to come from every portion of the Eastern States, and already resort to the borders of the rivers and estuaries to roost. Their songs have ceased, their males have lost their gay livery, and have assumed the yellow hue of the females and young, although the latter are more firm in their tints than the old males, and the whole begin to return southward, slowly and with a single clink, sufficient, however, to give intimation of
their passage, as they fly in high files during the whole day.
“Now begin their devastations. They plunder every field, but are shot in immense numbers. As they pass along the sea-shores, and follow the muddy edges of the rivers, covered at that season with full-grown reeds, whose tops are bent down with the weight of the ripe seeds, they alight amongst them in countless multitudes, and afford abundant practice to every gunner.
"It is particularly towards sunset, and when the weather is fine, that the sport of shooting Reed Birds is most profitable. They have then fully satiated their appetite, and have collected together for the purpose of roosting. At the discharge of a gun, a flock sufficient to cover several acres rises en masse, and performing various evolutions, densely packed, and resembling a sultry cloud, passes over and near the sportsman, when he lets fly, and finds occupation for some time in pick
the dozens which he has brought down at a single shot. One would think that every gun in the country has been put in requisition. Millions of these birds are destroyed, and yet millions remain, for after all the havoc that has been made among them in the Middle Districts, they follow the coast, and reach the rice plantations of the Carolinas in such astonishing numbers, that no one could conceive their flocks to have been already thinned. Their flesh is extremely tender and juicy. The markets are amply supplied, and the epicures have a glorious time of it.”
We have a charming counterpart of Robert in the South and West, among the Orioles. He is called the Orchard or Parson Oriole, from the soberness of his garments; but O! commend us to such Parsons as he the merry "clerk of Copenhurst” would be demure beside him !—The gleeful, thoughtless, sinner! he can't go from one tree-top to another, (for he is more ambitious than Rob, and swings his grass-wove hammock from pinnacle orchard boughs,) without ranting in such a glad, rattle-pate, glorious fashion about his happiness, keeping time with his wings as he flutters and dives along, that one cannot help feeling he is about to go all to pieces in his ecstasy; be verily fragmented into sweet sounds!
But no such thing; he's a tough little preacher of cheerfulness, and holds together with all that riotous, jolly rantipole.
Ah, how we have laughed on a spring morning, to witness his delirious bliss, as he went exhorting by, to his soberer neighbors, about love and sunshine, the dew and flowers; bugs and caterpillars too, no doubt!
“Hail to thee, blithe spirit!”—thou embodied joy! winged laughter !—pleasant indeed is thy faith of mirth, and wiser far than that of canting! Mr. Audubon gives a felicitous account of the funny, ingenious ways of this jollificating Reverend.
“No sooner have they reached the portion of the country in which they intend to remain during the time of raising their young, than these birds exhibit all the liveliness and vivacity belonging to their nature. The male is seen rising in the air from ten to twenty yards in an indirect manner, jerking his tail and body, flapping his wings, and singing with remarkable impetuosity, as if under the influence of haste, and anxious to return to the tree from which he has departed. He accordingly descends with the same motions of the body and tail, repeating his pleasing song as he alights. These gambols and carollings are performed frequently during the day, the intervals being employed in ascending or descending along the branches and twigs of different trees, in search of insects or larvæ. In doing this, they rise on their legs, seldom without jetting the tail, stretch the neck, seize the prey, and emit a single note, which is sweet and mellow, although in power much inferior to that of the Baltimore. At other times, it is seen bending its body downwards, in a curved posture, with the head gently inclined upwards, to peep at the under parts of the leaves, so as not to suffer any grub to escape its vigilance. It now alights on the ground, where it