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Beside, when written, there was but one copy
Even of the labors of the 'bards sublime; (If 't were so now, where were LONGFELLOW's hobby?
Or BOURNE's ungainly length of prosy rhyme ?)
To after ages and more reverent eyes,
The quenchless lights that fired the Grecian skies, And dared the toil of fame and Genius' high emprise !
But now, alas for this degenerate age!
Of rail-roads, telegraphs, and lightning presses, When writing verses is the general rage,
And prosiest authors sport the gaudiest dresses; When every daily boasts of new successes,
And seedy editors can snub their betters; Frown down the drama, ruin half the lessees,
Poke musty wit at diplomatic letters, And bind the public mind in their own narrow fetters.
Even country papers ape a stride HOMERIC,
Laugh at the courts, and thrust their brazen faces,
Into the very highest, holiest places :
Judge for the public when the heir apparent
Denounce the spoils of office, seize a share in 't, Secure success and power, then wallow like a bear in 't.
* There is a tide in the affairs of' poets,
Which happens just now to be at its flood,' And threatens, unless dyked, to soon o'erflow its
Protective bounds, and drench the land with mud: For all past precedents that long have stood
The very acme of poetic writers, Are under water, at the least a rood,
And would be more so but for dull back-biters, Who stick to Homer's yarns of old pugnacious fighters.
If sages in his day could read the future;
Parisian lore delivered to the torture;
At least a dozen, and perhaps a score,
Have seized some places, clamoring for more,
But 'mid this evil, there is much of good,
A motley group, 't is true, for one to look on,
Without a doubt for infidels to hook on,
As cats do sometimes on a truant spider;
Have hardly dared to take a single stride, or Kick at the meanest democrat who ventures to deride her.
Still this encouragement to authors is
A tax our patience cannot bear much longer: Witness Smith's latest, which is partly his,
And is of moon-light, star-light, and old ocean, wronger, And partly stolen, which is vastly stronger:
Then think of more than fifty other new ones, And wonder if the world has run to song, or
The press has been surrendered to the blue ones, Who can't decide, amid so many, which are true ones.
But lest I tire your patience in beginning,
I only meant to mention how much better, How free of public and of private sinning
The world has grown, since, like a golden fetter, Printing has linked the spirit to the letter
Of Virtue's law, and urged the way to Heaven,
With such success, the earth to evil given,
So, when the labors of the week are done,
Eve of the day of sweet and holy rest, The cheerful circle gathers, one by one,
Happy and free, caressing and caressed; For all these joys our fathers ne'er possessed,
Solemn and sweet thanksgiving songs arise, Then when the Soul, with gratitude impressed,
Looks up to God with veiled and reverent eyes, Thank Him the Press is yours, the best gift of the skies !
I A R F A N G ON BIRDS.
We love birds. When the first soft days of spring come on in all their gentle sweetness, and woo us with their warmth, and soothe us with their smile, then come the birds. With us do they rejoice that Winter's reign (and snow) is ended. No one of the seasons that come ' to rule the varied year,' abdicates his throne more to his subjects' joy than Winter. While he rules, we lose all respect for the mercury in our thermometer. When we remember how high it stood in our estimation, only a few short months ago, we did not think that it could get so low. We resolve to have nothing more to do with it; for 'there is a point, beyond which forbearance ceases to be a virtue,' and we conceive that point to be thirty-two degrees above zero, at the very least.
And yet, perhaps, we look upon this season of the year too coldly. It has its joys. The cold without drives us to seek within the pleasant fire-side, social pipe, and jovial friend. And then the snow, so beautiful ! — falling down so soft, and with soft down covering the face of earth. There is no more pleasant way of killing time than sleighing. Then, too, the perfect luxury in winter of lying late in bed. To be sure, Thomson indignantly exclaims, (and it is said he wrote this very line in bed) :
“Falsely luxurious, will not man awake!'
Why, of course he will! But if he is a sensible man, he will lie awake awhile, and think the matter over, ere he rises. It is pleasant to lie and imagine how cold you will be when you do get up, and know how warm you are just now. There is much of pleasure also in lying looking at the wondrous pictures painted on the windows. There are clouds and castles, trees and towers, forms and features, most fanciful and beautiful. Formed from our breath, they seem our sleeping thoughts and dreams, breathed out and photographed. Certainly Jack Frost is a most pains-taking painter.
But surely enough, when spring and summer, with their greater joys, are come, then it will pay to rise right early. It will even do to take a long walk before breakfast. The air is pregnant with the perfect perfume of a thousand flowers, and leaves, and buds. And then, beside the pleasure of seeing jocund day go through that difficult gymnastic feat described by Shakespeare, of standing tip-toe on the misty mountain-tops,' we have a glorious morning concert, to which we have a season-ticket : for
• INNUMEROUS songsters in the freshening shade
Of new-sprung leaves their modulations mix
Such music! It seems the pure out-pourings of the greatest gratitude to Him who made the morn so beautiful, so full of joy and light. It is the expression of most perfect praise, in ecstasy of song. Yes, indeed : we love birds!
"Ah!' says Felix, 'so do I. Wood-cock broiled, on a toast, or deviled : snipe roasted, with a pork talma ; quail, or rail ; yes, we love them all.' And having propounded the original conundrum, · When will dinner be ready ? 'he relapses once more to his book and meerschaum.
There is a deal of pleasure, as well as profit, and advantage with amusement, to be derived from studying the habits and the character of birds. Nor is the study burdensome. Of all the lower ordets of creation, as they frequent most freely the haunts and homes of men, so they approach us nearest in intelligence. They have their labors and amusements, their conjugal relations, and like us, they build with taste and skill their houses : they have society, moreover, and the opera. In very many things they are our equals, and in some superiors : and what in other animals at best is only instinct, in birds is almost reason..
Among the first returning tourists from the South in spring, are those pleasant little people, the blue-bird, marten, and the wren. They appear to have particular confidence in man. Nor is their confidence misplaced ; for every body hails with joy these harbingers of spring. Their company is peculiarly agreeable, and they seem to know it; for every year they come again to occupy the boxes, or perchance old hats, which were put up for them, and in them build their nests, and there they live rent-free: yet not exactly so, for they pay us with their notes. Sometimes these little people have a deal of difficulty among themselves about these habitations. The martens come, and find the blue-birds have taken all these places, and there is a fuss directly; just as when the Browns go to Saratoga and find the Smiths have all the best rooms in the house ; or in town, the Smiths find the Browns occupying the choicest boxes at the opera. After some considerable scolding and twitting upon facts, the martens take possession of a certain portion of the pigeon-cote, and keep it too ; for not a pigeon dare go near them, while the smaller wrens content themselves with some spare corner of the portico, where they forthwith proceed to build their houses, with all the architectural skill derived from their great name-sake, the builder of St. Paul's. There is a spice of waggish deviltry about the wren, somewhat amusing. Often when the blue-bird has left his house, and gone to market, or down-town, the wren peeps in, and finding no one there, proceeds to amuse himself by pulling out the straws and feathers in the nest ; but should perchance the blue-bird come in sight, the wren remembers there is something very interesting going on around the corner of the barn, that demands his instant and immediate attention.
These birds — the blue-bird, marten, and the wren, together with the swallows, (barn and chimney,) and the honest robin,' who, as quaint old Walton has it, loves mankind, both alive and dead' - are halfdomesticated. They love to live near man. The blue-bird and the robin are the only two among them who appear to have paid much attention to the eultivation of their vocal powers. They salute the morning with sweet songs. The wren and other small birds are in the garden, breakfasting on worms, or, as we sometimes express it, getting their grub. The marten, meanwhile, listens to the concert, as a critic, or as one of the audience ; for he sits up in his private box, now and then uttering an approving note, as if of applause. Indeed the marten is
not very musical. Sometimes, in the bosom of his family, when he feels very social, he takes up his pipe, and then essays a song. But he never gets beyond the first few notes of · Hi Betty Martin,' and then goes off on tip-toe.
But here we have a jolly little fellow, who makes up in sociability for what he lacks in song. The small house-sparrow, or, as he is generally known, the 'chippin'-bird,' comes to our very doors. He hops along the piazza, gathering 'crumbs of comfort' and of bread, and knows that not a soul within the house, not even that “unfeeling schoolboy,' would harm a feather of his tail. He keeps a careful eye, however, on the cat; for he is perfectly aware that she would consider him only a swallow, and he does not like to lose his identity. There is in history a single instance where this bird seems to have forgotten his character, and been a destroyer, rather than, as he is called by boys, a 'sparer.' Every juvenile of five years, who is at all read in the literature of his age, knows the tragic story of the death and burial of cockrobin. That interesting individual was found one morning lying on the ground, with a murderous weapon through his heart, as dead as Julius Cæsar. The horror-stricken birds assembled. A coroner's inquest was holden. The first inquiry was, of course, "Who killed cock-robin ?' There was a momentary silence, and then the sparrow, the last one in the crowd, perhaps, to be suspected, confessed the deed! He then proceeds to state how it was done, and owns he did it with his bow and arrow.' It is probably in imitation of the truthful candor of this noble little bird that, once upon a time, a child, afterward the father of his country, was induced to confess, with regard to a mutilated tree, that he · did it with his little hatchet.
Felix ! let us go and take a stroll. This is indeed a golden day, in which mere living is a perfect luxury. From the eagle perched upon the top-most cliff, nearest the sky, down to the smallest insect that floats upon the air, all the created world to-day rejoices in the sun. Oh! it is such days as these — so balmy, bright, and beautiful — that bring upon their wings strength to our weak and weary bodies, and to our souls sweet Hope!'.
FELIX : - Well, a -yes ; I should think it was a good day to go a - afishing.'
By Apollo! Blessed is the man — and thrice blessed the woman — who never tries to be poetical. It is a dangerous experiment. Years ago, when we were but a small boy, we remember walking out one pleasant morning in the spring-time, in our school-boy suit of gray, and a fit of the blues. Returning to the paternal domicile, we put on a standing-collar, took a sheet of paper, and sticking a pen behind each ear, sat down and wrote some lines about the birds, and flowers, and spring, and so on. With modest hesitation, we sent them to the village newspaper. In an unguarded moment, the ill-fated editor of the · Cockahoopia Gazette and Clarion Note of Freedom,' published our lines as a - 'Poem!' The very next day, this unfortunate editor failed, ran away, and was never heard of, or from, again. From that time forward, we forswore the muse.
Caw! caw! caw!' The watch-word and the signal of alarm or