« AnteriorContinuar »
now possess, virtue is a necessary requisite in order to their shining with proper luster. Feeble are the attractions of the fairest form, if it be suspected that nothing within corresponds to the pleasing appearance without. Short are the triumphs of wit, when it is supposed to be the vehicle of malice. By whatever means you may at first attract the attention, you can hold the esteem, and secure the hearts of others, only by amiable dispositions, and the accomplishments of the mind.
11. These are the qualities whose influence will last, when the luster of all that once sparkled and dazzled has passed away. Let not, then, the season of youth be barren of improvements, so essential to your future felicity and honor. Now is the seed-time of life; and according to "what you sow, you shall reap." Your character is now, under divine assistance, of your own forming; your fate is, in some measure, put into your own hands. Your nature is as yet pliant and soft. Habits have not established their dominion. Prejudices have not preoccupied your understanding.
12. The world has' not had time to contract and debase your affections. All your powers are more vigorous, disembarrassed and free, than they will be at any future period. Whatever impulse you now give to your desires and passions, the direction is likely, to continue. It will form the channel in which your life is to run; nay, it may determine its everlasting issue.
13. Consider, then, the employment of this important period, as the highest trust which shall ever be committed to you; as, in a great measure^decisive of your happiness, in time and in eternity. . As, in the succession of the seasons, each, by the invariable laws of nature, affects the productions of what is next in course; so, in human life, every period of our age, according as it is well or ill spent, influences the happiness of that which is to follow.
14. Virtuous youth gradually brings forward accomplished and flourishing manhood; and such manhood passes of itself, without uneasiness, into respectable and tranquil old age. But when nature is turned out of its regular course, disorder takes place in the moral, just as in the vegetable world. If the spring put forth no blossoms, in summer there will be no beauty, and in autumn no fruit: so, if youth be trifled away without improvement, manhood will probably be contemptible, and old age miserable. If the beginnings of life have been "vanity,'Vits latter end can scarcely be any other than "vexation of spirit."
15. I shall finish this address with calling your attention to that dependence on the blessing of Heaven, which, amidst all your endeavors after improvement, you ought continually to preserve. It is too common with the young, even when they resolve to tread the path of virtue find honor, to set out with presumptuous confidence in themselves. Trusting to their own abilities for carrying them successfully through life, they are careless of applying to God, or of deriving any assistance from what they are apt to reckon the gloomy discipline of religion.
16. Alas! how little do they know the dangers which await them! Neither human wisdom nor human virtue, unsupported by religion, is equal to the trying situations which often occur in life. By the shock of temptation, how frequently have the most virtuous intentions been overthrown! Under the pressure of disaster, how often has the greatest constancy sunk! "Every good and every perfect gift is from above." Wisdom and virtue, as well as "riches and honor, come from God."
17. Destitute of His favor, you are in no better situation, with all your boasted abilities, than orphans left to wander in a trackless desert, without any guide to conduct them, or any shelter to cover them from the gathering storm. Correct, then, this ill-founded arrogance. Expect not that your happiness can be independent of Him who made you. By faith and repentance, apply to the Redeemer of the world. By piety and prayer, seek the protection, of the God of heaven.
18. I conclude with the solemn words in which a great prince delivered his dying charge to his son, — words which every young person ought to consider as addressed to himself, and to engrave deeply in his heart, — "Solomon, my son, know thou the God of thy fathers; and serve him with a perfect heart, and with a willing mind. For the Lord searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts. If thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off forever."
Birds of Spring. — W. Irving.
1. Those who have passed the winter in the country are sensible of the delightful influences that accompany the ear
liest indications of Spring; and of these, none are more de lightful than the first notes of the birds.
2. The appearance of the bluebird, so poetically yet truly described by Wilson, gladdens the whole landscape. You hear his soft warble in every field. He sociably approaches your habitation, and takes up his residence in your vicinity.
3. The happiest bird of our spring, however, and one that rivals the European lark, in my estimation, is the Boblincon, or Boblink, as he is commonly called. He arrives at that choice portion of the year, which, in this latitude, answers to the description of the month of May so often given by the poets. With us it begins about the middle of May, and lasts until nearly the middle of June.
4. Earlier than this, winter is apt to return on its traces, and to blight the opening beauties of the year; and later than this, begin the parching, and panting, and dissolving heats of summer. But in this genial interval nature is in all her freshness and fragrance: "the rains are over and gone, the flowers appear upon the earth, the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in the land."
5. The trees are now in their fullest foliage and brightest verdure; the woods are gay with the clustered flowers of the laurel; the air is perfumed by the sweet-brier and the wildrose; the meadows are enamelled with clover-blossoms; while the young apple, the peach, and the plum, begin to swell, and the cherry to glow, among the green leaves.
6. This is the chosen season of revelry of the Boblink. He comes amidst the pomp and fragrance of the season; his life seems all sensibility and enjoyment, all song and sunshine. He is to be found in the soft bosoms of the freshest and sweetest meadows; and is most in song when the clover is in blossom. He perches on the topmost twig of a tree, or on some long, flaunting weed, and as he |jses and sinks with the breeze, pours forth a succession of rich, tinkling notes ; crowding one upon another, like the outpouring melody of the skylark, and possessing the same rapturous character.*
* Mr. Nuttall, in a beautifully written description of the Boblink, in his Manual of Ornithology, says : — " The song of the male continues, with very little interruption, as long as the female is setting; and his chant, at all times very similar, is singular and pleasant. Often, like the skylark, mounted and hovering on the wing, at a small height above the field, as he passes along from one tree-top or weed to another, he utters such a jingling medley of short, variable notes, so confused, rapid, and continuous, that it appears almost like the blending song of different birds. Many of these tones are very agreeable, but they are delivered
7. Sometimes he pitches from the summit of a tree, begins his song as soon as he is upon the wing, and flutters tremu lously down to the earth, as if overcome with ecstasy at his own music. Sometimes he is in pursuit of his paramour; always in full song, as if he would win her by his melody; and always with the same appearance of intoxication and delight.
8. Of all the birds of our groves and meadows, the Boblink was the envy of my boyhood. He crossed my path in the sweetest weather, and the sweetest season of the year, when all nature called to the fields, and the rural feeling throbbed in every bosom; but when I, luckless urchin! was doomed to be mewed up, during the livelong day, in that purgatory of boyhood, a school-room, it seemed as if the little varlet mocked at me, as he flew by in full song, and sought to taunt me with his happier lot. 0, how I envied him! No lessons, no tasks, no hateful school; nothing but holiday, frolic, green fields, and fine weather!
9. Further observation and experience have given me a different idea of this little feathered voluptuary, which I will venture to impart, for the benefit of my school-boy readers, who may regard him with the same unqualified envy and admiration which I once indulged. I have shown him only as I saw him at first, in what I may call the poetical part of his career, when he in a manner devoted himself to elegant pursuits and enjoyments, and was a bird of music, and song, and taste, and sensibility, and refinement. While this lasted, he was sacred from injury; the very school-boy would not fling a stone at him, and the merest rustic would pause to listen to his strain. But mark the difference.
10. As the year advances, as the clover-blossoms disappear, and the spring fades into summer, his notes cease to vibrate on the ear. He gradualljigives up his elegant tastes and habits, doffs his poetical and professional suit of black, assumes a russet or rather dusty garb, and enters into the gross enjoy
with such rapidity that the ear can scarcely separate them. * * * Among the tew phrases that can be distinguished, the liquid sound of Bob-o-lee, or Bobolink, Bobolinks, is very distinct. To give an idea of the variable song, and even an imitation, in some measure, of the chromatic period and air of this familiar and rather favorite resident, the boys of this part of New England make him spout, among others, the following ludicrous dunning phrase, as he rises and hovers on the wing, near his^mate: 'Bnb-o-linlc, Bob-o-link, Tom Denny, Tom Denny, — Come, pay me the two-and-sixpence you've owed more tlian a year and 3 half ago! tshe tshe tshe, tsh tsh tshe,' modestly diving, at the same in»tant, down into the grass, as if to avoid altercation."
ments of common, vulgar birds. He becomes a bon vivant,* a mere gormand ; t thinking of nothing but good cheer, and gormandizing on the seeds of the long grasses on which he lately swung, and chanted so musically.
11. He begins to think there is nothing like "the joys of the table," if I may be allowed to apply that convivial phrase to his indulgences. He now grows discontented with plain, every-day fare, and sets out on a gastronomical tour, in search of foreign luxuries. He is to be found in myriads among the reeds of the Delaware, banqueting on their seeds; grows corpulent with good feeding, and soon acquires the unlucky renown of the ortolan.t Wherever he goes, pop! pop! pop! the rusty firelocks of the country are cracking on every side; he sees his companions falling by thousands around him; he is the reed-bird, the much-sought-for titbit of the Pennsylvanian epicure.
12. Does he take warning, and reform? Not he! He wings his flight still further south, in search of other luxuries. We hear of him gorging himself in the rice-swamps; filling himself with rice almost to bursting; he can hardly fly for corpulency. Last stage of his career, we hear of him spitted by dozens, and served up on the table of the gormand, the most vaunted of southern dainties, the rice-bird of the Carolinas.
13. Such is the story of the once musical and admired, but finally sensual and persecuted Boblink. It contains a moral worthy the attention of all little birds and little boys; warning them' to keep to those refined and intellectual pursuits, which raised him to so high a pitch of popularity, during the early part of his career; but to eschew all tendency to that gross and dissipated indulgence, which brought this mistaken little bird to an untimely end.
1. Nothing contributes more essentially to the tranquillity of a nation, and to the peaceful demeanor of its inhabitants,
* A good liver. t A glutton.
t The ortolan is a bird found in the southern parts of Europe, and countries bordering on the Mediterranean, and particularly in the Island of Cyprus, which, when artificially fatted, was esteemed a jreat delicacy. It was sold to the epicures of ancient Rome at enormous prices. The flesh is exceedingly delicate, but so rich as soon to satiate the appetite.