Page images

As the gale freshened, came the murmured speech
Of distant billows, chafing with the shores
Of the Tiberian sea.

Day wore apace;
Noon hastened: and lengthening shadow brought
The unexpected eve. They lingered still,
Eyes fix'd and lips apart—the very breath
Constrained, lest some escaping sigh might break
The tide of knowledge sweeping o'er their souls,
Like a strange, raptured dream. They heeded not
The spent sun, closing on the curtained west
His burning journey. What was time to them,
Who heard, entranced, th' Eternal Word of Life?
But the weak flesh grew weary. Hunger came,
Sharpened each feature, and to faintness drained
Life's vigorous fount. The holy Saviour felt
Compassion for them,

His disciples press, Care.stricken, to his side. “ Where shall we find Bread in this desert?"

Then, with lifted eyes, He bless'd and brake the slender store of food, And fed the famish'd thousands. Wondering awe With renovating strength inspired their souls, As, gazing on the miracle, they marked The gathered fragments of their feast, and heard Such heavenly words as lip of mortal man Had never uttered.

Thou whose pitying heart Yearned o'er the countless miseries of those Whom thou didst die to save, touch thou our souls With the same spirit of untiring love! Divine Redeemer? May our fellow man, Howe'er by rank or circumstance disjoined, Be as a brother in his hour of need.

[ocr errors]
[graphic][merged small]

The name by which this bird was known among the Jews, and mentioned in the Scriptures, signifies pity and benevolence; doubtless from traits of that kind unfolding themselves in its habits and history. Parkhurst has recorded a description of the stork, as to these features of its character, which is not a little interesting. He tells us, that the parent birds mutually guard their brood; one always remaining with it, while the other goes for food. They keep the young ones much longer in the nest than any other bird; and, after they have led them out of it by day, they bring them back at night, preserving the nest as their natural home.

Like the parent eagles, when the storks first! take out their young, they practise them to fly; they lead them to the marshes, also, to point out to their offspring frogs, serpents, and lizards, which are their proper food, making them to. distinguish the toads, which they never eat. In return for all this parental care and kindness, the young ones, as they grow strong, and their parents become old and debilitated, display their filial kindness in feeding and supporting the parent birds. In the long flights which they take, in their periodical migrations, it is not uncommon to see the aged and weakly birds supported on the backs of the stronger; and, on their arrival at the place of their destination, these invalids are taken to the old nests, where they are fed and cherished by these young ones that were nurtured there the year before. These facts are stated on so respectable authority, that we have no hesitation in giving them insertion here.

The white stork frequents towns and cities, where it stalks unconcernedly about the streets, from which it removes all the noxious filth and offal, that it is able to feed upon, whilst it clears from the fields the serpents and other reptiles that it may find there. From these services, which are rendered to the community by the storks, they are religiously protected in Holland, where they are found in great num bers and very tame. The Mahometans hold


them in great veneration, and the Thessalonians anciently awarded the punishment of death to any person who killed one of these birds. The Ibis that was long worshipped in Egypt, appears to be a variety of the stork. Innumerable representations of this bird are found in all the hieroglyphics and other ancient monuments of that country. An awfully blind and degrading superstition thus paid divine homage to the dumb creature for the service that it rendered in assisting to clear away the putrid bodies that came in its way. From the mildness of the disposition of these birds they are easily tamed, and are frequently turned, in that state, in gardens, which they effectually clear of insects and reptiles. They have an air of great gravity, with a mournful visage; yet they have been known to join in the sports of children with considerable eclat, and with evident gratification.

Dr. Hermann tells us, that he saw a tame one in the garden, in which some children were playing at “ hide and seek,” running its turn with the children when it was touched, and distinguishing the child whose turn it was to pursue the rest, so as effectually to be on its guard. And, to show that they partake of the fallen as well as of the benevolent and pleasing traits of human nature, an anecdote is current in Hamburgh, of a farmer, in the vicinity of that city, who brought a wild stork into his farm yard to be the companion of a tame one that he

had long kept there. But the tame stork, ,so much for civilization, disdained to be associated with such a wild and untutored stork, and, therefore fell upon the poor stranger, and beat bim so unmercifully, that with difficulty he escaped by flight.

The storks are remarkable for the exactness they observe in the time of their autumnal departure from Europe to milder climates. They are reported to assemble on a particular day, after which not one is left behind. Whilst, in this quarter of the globe, they are seldom seen further north than Sweden. In this country they are quite scarce; but in Holland they are so common that they build on the tops of the houses, where the inhabitants provide boxes for them, in which to place their nests. The Dutch are very careful of these that dwell upon their roof, as much so as of those who dwell under it, resenting any injury done the birds as an offence against themselves. In this part of the world storks generally build their nests upon the roofs of the houses; but in the East, where the roofs are all flat, and the inhabitants reside upon them, frequeutly, in the summer months, the storks choose the highest trees for their nests and habitations. The Psalmist notices their residing in the fir-trees in Palestine. Psalm civ. 17.

Storks are very frequently seen in Spain; and are still more numerous in many parts of

« PreviousContinue »