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caution among crows; or else it is the dreadful note of preparation,' summoning the lawless legions from the depths of the pine-woods, from yonder hill, from the crowner's inquest, sitting on the body of a defunct steed, down by the river-side, from far-off forests, to come and help pull up a field of corn, just beginning to put forth its tender blades. * All these and more come flocking,' for there's no one around : the scare-crow was blown down last night; the gun is lent; the boys have gone to school; the farmer tumbled off the hay-mow yesterday and broke his leg: and so the crows proceed with the destruction :
The crow and black-bird both are arrant scoundrels. The last indeed renders somewhat of service in the early part of spring ; for, fol. lowing the furrows of the field, devouring countless worms and grubs, which would be most destructive to the coming crop of corn, all day long he gleans behind the plough, a perfect little Ruth. But when the corn comes, he devotes himself to its destruction with a perfect ruthlessness, and fills his own crop with the farmer's, in less than no time. Perchance, should any one appear upon the premises, he gets upon the fence and whistles very unconcernedly, just as if he had n't been doing any thing. As for that bean: pole, standing in the centre of the field, dressed in old clothes, and bearing some faint resemblance to a returned Californian, ha! ha! ha! What fools men are to think that they can cheat the black-bird! Why, there are five of them at this moment pulling corn for dear life, to see who shall get through his row the first, who were born, bred, and educated in the very hat of that identical old scare-crow. To be sure, when it was first set up, the birds eyed it with curiosity, perhaps mistrust, but it never entered into their heads that it was intended to resemble a man; or if it did, it soon became a standing joke with them. And yet old Ginger, going home from the tavern one day, ' across lots,' stopped and asked the returned Californian if he knew what time o' da-da-day ’t was!' Well, to tell the truth, the scare-crow was very well got up : in fact, while Ginger stood by, it was somewhat difficult to say which was which. They were two perfect Dromios.
Every farmer hates the crow, and, we must acknowledge, he is not a very lovely bird. He has neither beauty nor song ; for his eternal caw! caw! is a note renewed so often as to be at a decided discount. Nor has he civility of manners; and his ideas concerning private property are extremely vague. Yet, of all the bird-tribe, he is by far the most intelligent. Nor is he an hypocrite. He robs our fields and he * acknowledges the corn. Ah! he is a cunning rascal! There he sits, on that old tree by the road-side, clothed in a sable suit, and as you go by, looks as demure, as interesting, and melancholy, as a minister with the bronchitis, about to sail for Europe. But should there be a gun in the bottom of the wagon, though it is covered carefully with a bundle of straw, a blanket over that, and a large fat boy sitting on top of all, he knows it is there, and, trusty sentinel, alarms the whole community of crows in the region round about, and away they wing, 'over the
hills and far away.' Caw! caw! caw! You did n't catch him that time. He is very well aware that you intend to kill him if you can. He just wants to see you do it, that's all!
We had some fun with them one day. It is an old joke. A quantity of corn was soaked in spirit and scattered in the field. By-and-by, a dozen vagrant crows came down, and stationing a look-out,' they began to feed. By the time their crops were full, their heads were also, and they were literally corned.' Such a spree! They reeled about, ran into and fell over one another, and exhibited a series of ground and lofty tumblings beautiful to behold. In vain did one old crow, the patriarch of the flock, an hundred years of age at least, attempt to reason with the rest. He was the worst one of them all : and afterward the old reprobate tried to sing a bacchanalian song. At last, by some mysterious evolutions, they made out to get up in a tree, and there they sat, cawing and cursing at the corn. There was an after-piece ; for the Shanghais happened down that way, and what corn the crows had left, they speedily appropriated. There was a time then! The boys rushed down to drive away the Shanghais, but they were bound not to go home till morning, any how. Altogether, what with the incoherent cawing over-head, the inebriated crowing on the ground, occasionally a tumble-down from off the tree, the crows trying to roost above, and the roosters trying to crow below, there was 'confusion worse confounded.' The next day, our best Shanghai – cock of the walk — died of delirium tremens; and his successor,
'full of rumination sad, Laments the weakness of these latter times.'
We have said that early rising is a good thing, although, we candidly confess, we think late rising is a great deal better : but it is a sermon which has been preached to youth from the time when Solomon so soundly berates the sluggard, and advises him to take pattern from some others, particularly his aunt, and be wise,' down to the present day. We think it is poor Richard' who perpetrates the rhyming proverb, in which there is more poetry than truth, yet not very much of either :
Early to bed and early to rise,
How many times we have heard old women utter this proverb as an oracle, we should not like to say. If it be true, it accounts most satisfactorily for the immense quantity of health, wealth, and wisdom disseminated among butchers, milk-men, and market-men, who are notoriously early risers, and who get up in the morning, as the Ethiopian poet so touchingly expresses it, before de broke ob day. It is easy enough to rise with the sun, but we must get up very early indeed if we would rise with the birds.
For long before the sun sees fit to show his face, when the first faint glimmerings of dawn make repetition of response to that ALMIGHTY fiat that first called light into the world, while incense-breathing Morn' is putting on her clothes, while we are still sleeping such sleep as the truly virtuous only know, and snoring sonorously, sheet-music by the quire, the birds have left their nests, have dipped their wings in the refreshing dew, have breakfasted, and now are waiting for the day. And soon the crayon, India-inky landscape turns to a warm and glowing, living painting, and then the birds in every wood and field, and
_ on the tops of trees, Assemble all in choirs, and with their notes Salute and welcome up the rising sun.'
Their matin music ended, then begin the labors and amusements of the day. They have enough to do. Perchance they have their house to build, and fields, both far and near, are searched for straws and sticks, and they pick up, here a hair, and there a thread, to weave into the nest. Or else they have a family to cater for ; or, if the young are fledged, they must be taught to fly, and learned to find their food : the vagrant boys, who rob bird's-nests, are pointed out, and the old birds devote themselves to teach the young idea how to - avoid being shot. Then there are calls to make, gossip to interchange, rehearsals to attend, excursions to adjacent counties : and so time flies with birds.
And when the evening comes, they all return from their discursive flights, and seek their homes. Yes, homes! For they all have their · local habitation,' and there are no beings more domestic or home-loving than the birds. Home from their wanderings come our blue-birds, wrens, and martens, and early in the evening every box is taken. The croaker crow, stuffed to repletion, flies to the forest, and, we prophecy, will before morning be obliged to call in the corn-doctor, or die of indigestion. The swallows come in countless crowds, a complete cloud, and after describing sundry circles, dive down in the chimney, a residence that seems to them most suitable. And here are more of them, who, if they neither sow nor reap, most certainly do 'gather into barns,' and in the most astounding quantities. The remainder of this tribe, for there are more of them, improbable as it may seem, live, an innumerable throng, up in that old church-tower that appears above the trees. There they dwell in safe security, shielded from the storm, and free from fear of man, or boy, or cat. Who ever saw a cat about a church? We have indeed heard of a church-mouse, and his extraordinary poverty; but a church-cat is unknown in our catechism. The bell alone, at times, disturbs the birds; the bell, now ringing solemnly on Sabbath days, summoning the people to the place of prayer, now tolling sad and sorrowfully for the dead, now making merry marriage-music, anon at midnight sounding out the terrible alarm of conflagration; and then the young alone tremble with fear, and nestle closer beneath the mother's brooding wings. The old tower is a pleasant dwelling place for birds. It is cool with shading trees, and all about the church is quiet, calm, and still. Truly there the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young;' for thus, ages ago, the poet-prophet painted a perfect picture of the peace, the rest, the sacred stillness, and the sweet serenity of the house of God.
Too-whit! too-whoo-hoo!' Who? Why, that is our much-beloved tame owl, Doctor Samuel Johnson, most unmeritedly unnoticed : and now he is looking at us in a seriously solemn manner, yet ' more in sor
row than in anger. To think that, in his very presence, we should write about a lot of confounded, cawing, carrion-crows, and paltry sparrows, and never mention him! Rest in peace on thy perch, O beloved Doctor ! for we will yet write your biography.
TO ‘K NICK ,'
OF THE KNICKERBOOKER MAGAZIXR.
That month i' which we ’re apt to see
Auld Winter's dyin' struggles,
O cantraps, tricks, an' juggles :
Despite his fitfu' howlin',
This vera day.
A bardie I wi'outen sweets
O' fickle public favor;
May lack poetic flavor;
A pardon for my ailin'?
This monie a day.
You puffed a sang o' which my pen
Was guilty o' the makin',
Ga'ed flutterin' an'achin':
An' pen baith still thegither,
An' still anither compliment
To rhymes o my invention,
Wi'outen due attention;
Wi' my scant store o' meekness,
Each future day.
There 're flowers i' Poesy's mazy walks
Distillin' precious ointment,
An' bitter disappointment:
An' he wha luckless meets a frown,
His vera life distressin',
Some ither day.
An' he wha gets a tithe o' praise
Need na be muckle lifted,
Owre eloquent an' gifted :
Maist every day.
That pride that lifts a man aboon
On tyrants, priests, an' asses,
O' fools i’ Fashion's feather;
I' trouble's day.
To free the min' frae bigot's cant
Is worth lang days o' strivin',
An' honesty arrivin':
An' whipt by faction-mongers,
Frae day to day.
An' poets wield i' monie a field
The blades o mental clamor,
Gang murderin' sense an' grammar:
Our gabs frae rants an' brawlin',
By night or day.
I'se thank ye owre an' owre again
For speakin' upco kindly
Not owre smooth an' finely:
By some hook, crook, or ither,
Till life's last day.