Page images
PDF

REVIEW OF NEW PUBLICATIONS.

Scenes and Tales of Country Life. Edward Jesse, Esq. WE think that the present volume is at once the most interesting and instructive of Mr. Jesse's publications, and in the variety of its information, and the justness of the reasoning, bears the marks of a matured knowledge of the subject, and a long cultivation of the delightful science of which he here imparts to us the latest acquisitions he has made. All sciences which have nature for their object, are to be improved, first by the accurate observation of facts, and, secondly, by proper deductions from them. In either branch of his work, Mr. Jesse, we think, is worthy of our confidence and praise; and if we ever think him erroneous in the conclusions which he forms, it is only in those cases where the warmth of his benevolence and the natural gentleness of his disposition perhaps induce him to bear a little too strongly on some favourite opinions, and to pronounce a little too decidedly on subjects that appear to us not to be altogether free from obscurity; but on the whole we must add, that any points in which we differ from him are trivial indeed compared with the large mass of information with which our present stock of knowledge has been enriched by him; nor can, nor ought we to overlook that tone of feeling which pervades the entire work,a feeling which turns knowledge into piety, which makes every acquistion of the mind a blessing to the heart, and which beholds in every object of nature an impress of that original fiat of the Almighty voice, that declared at the creation that everything which proceeded from his hands was “very good.” Were we to speak of our own individual sentiments, we should pronounce the book to be one of the most valuable additions that have been recently made to our practical knowledge in the natural history of our own country. And were we to follow only our own feelings, we should transcribe avery large portion of it into our pages; GENT. M.A.G. Wol. XXII.

By

but, as this cannot be, we can only point out one or two passages worthy of observation. P. 12. “ Heronshaw.” This reminds us of another word of similar formation, “Ravenshaw,” now only preserved as a family name, but which shows how common that noble race of birds once was. P. 24. “The cuckoo's hollow note.” Mr. Jesse might have remarked also how loud and incessant during the month of May is the monotonous call of the cuckoo's mate (the wryneck), extending through the whole day, and giving to the hearer something of the same unpleasant sensation which is felt at the unceasing call of the cicala in a hot noonday sun of Italy. P. 23. “The golden hues of the beech.” It is singular that one of the most beautiful of all forest trees is seldom cultivated by us, we mean “the Norway maple.” In spring it is covered with long tassels of the brightest yellow ; in autumn its foliage dies away in rich golden hues, unequalled by any other tree; it also stands the sea-gales better than any other tree. P. 29. As regards the passage quoted in a note written by a friend of Mr. Jesse's, (J. M.) we have only further to observe, that Caesar wrote his Commentaries in a very hurried manner; that in some cases both in style and matter they are incorrect; and that he may have been mistaken in the instance before us, that the beech-tree was not to be seen in Britain. P. 35. A mole may be, as Mr. Jesse says, useful to a farmer; but he is very destructive to a gardener, and he creeps from the fields into the garden, to the destruction of the crops and the total ruin of the lawn. P. 88. “ List of the trees on which the mistletoe has been sound ’’—a very curious and valuable little calendar. We must make one observation on the subject of the mistletoe on the oak: It was because of its being rarely found on this tree, that, When it was, it was

reckoned sacred by the Druids. It is rare in our days, and their worship of it shows that it was also rare in theirs. P. 77. The notes of the black-cap are certainly not on equality with the nightingale's, whatever Mr. Symes may say. P. 87. “We find such men as Dr. Johnson, Lord Hailes, Dr. Home, and others, anxious for the elucidation of Walton's Lives,” &c. Walton's Lives differ so much in the various editions, that a collation ought to be made, and the result given. P. l 17. There is no doubt but that the increase of rats is much owing to the destruction of their natural enemies, the stoat, owl, polecat, &c. but there is also no doubt but that by vigilant attention, and the use both of traps and poison, these disgusting and destructive animals might be thinned, and the numbers much diminished. No one ever enters our garden that is not caught or destroyed in two days; but farmers are careless, and ratcatchers dishonest. P. 118. In this chapter some beautiful instances are given of the gratitude, attachment, and affection of animals, to which we refer our readers. When we consider these examples of “love , strong as death” showing itself in the animal creation; instances of attachment as independent of any selfish motives as it is possible to imagine, as pure, as strong as are either to be met with in reality, or feigned in fable; and when we compare such feelings with the kindred ones that we meet with among mankind; when we acknowledge their strong resemblance, and then add that it is for the possession and exercise of such feelings that we raise our humble claim to be formed in likeness of the Divine image; when we add that in his worst and lowest form, in his most brutal, degraded, dishonest, selfish character, man still claims to himself to have sprung from an immortal seed,—how can we wish to deny the same gift of mercy to the lowlier servants of the Deity, to the humbler tenants of his love, to the grateful and contented pensioners on his paternal charity For man there is appointed a future world, in which the spirits of the just may rejoice, and

the remorse of the godless and impenitent may be the sole subject of their eternal shame; but can there be supposed no other worlds in the countless multitudes of the heavenly hosts, that may be the future habitation of the innocent creatures that have spent their little lives in this May not there “the half-reasoning elephant” be found, who has had his faculties so much improved and enlarged by his acquaintance with mankind? May not there the noble horse, man's servant, or the dog, his faithful and sagacious companion, be permitted to prolong their lives, which have been so elevated and improved by their fellow-creatures here upon earth Is it wrong to suppose that there can be no future compensation for the inflictions of cruelty, no enjoyment of freedom after a tyrannous and incessant bondage, no blessings of repose aster a wretched life worn out under the oppression of creatures far lower, far more brutal and bestial than themselves? Who would not wish this to be, and, wishing, who would not believe it true : The Creator seems, by bestowing on some animals an instinct to attach themselves to man, to have intended through this to improve and soften and elevate their nature. They learn to look to man as their protector and also their teacher; they watch his movements, they even anticipate his desires; o partake his enjoyments; they share his sorrows; they rejoice in his presence, they grieve for his departure; they feel for him in sickness, and they lie down by him in death. The longer we associate with men (the confession is sad but true) the larger we must spread the landscape that is to exhibit them to us in those various points of view that call out our surprise, our sorrow, or our indignation; the more knowledge we possess, and the more familiarity we cultivate with the animal creation, the more we are delighted with their instinctive virtues, and the more we are invited to train them to a wider sphere of usefulness, and to call forth their dormant powers into activity. We have long, very long, considered that there is no stronger and surer token of an amiable and good disposition than the love of the company of children. As age advances, we find our pleasure in their society still increasing, both for the natural delight their age of innocent enjoyment affords to us, and for the contrast they lend to that other society which we once too much frequented and too ardently enjoyed; which we spread out our most glittering fascinations to gain, which we exhausted our best resources to enliven, on which we lavished our warmest affections, which we trusted with our choicest hopes, and which repaid us with neglect, estrangement, and ingratitude. Osten do we recall to our minds that pretty expression of Goldsmith's, in the most charming of all tales of fiction that time ever made immortal, which calls children “harmless little men;” and what we say and think of them, and what love we bestow on them, and what delight we have in their society, we are willing (we speak for ourselves) to partake also with that part of the animal creation which is most intimately known to us, and with which, by habit or choice, we have the nearest connexion. In an old man's heart the passions of life should have left a home in which they can no longer with propriety live; and then the recollections and feelings of early life, long banished and long forgotten, will rush in again to repair what has been injured, to refresh what has been weakened, and to shed a soft and evening light upon the closing day. This is the euthanasia so ardently to be wished, and this alone can repair the broken harmony of man's nature, and render it fit for immortality in that world of spirits to which it is hastening. How delightfully has the friend of Fox* described the innocent recreations that amused the leisure and occupied the attention of the retired and aged statesman. authority of Scripture. Many birdsus

“Thee at St. Anne's, so soon of care beguil'd,
Playful, sincere, and artless as a child;
Thee, who could watch a bird’s nest on the

spray, Through the green leaves exploring day by day; Then oft from grove to grove, from seat to seat, With thee conversing in thy lov’d retreat, I saw the sun go down.”

Besides, it might be not unreasonably asked whether the animal creation

* Mr. S. Rogers, in his beautiful poem of Human Life.

is not now, like man, in a fallen state, possessing powers which seem, from some cause or other, to be impaired, yet able to recover, and exhibit, if opportunity is given, something of their original activity and intelligence. Some animals, like the elephant, shew no superiority of powers nor superior instinct in their wild and natural state, but which seem to wait only to be developed by care and education, till that natural instinct is so heightened and improved, that even man scruples not to confess that it may approach so close to reason as scarcely to be distinguished from it. The same may be said of other animals, as some birds, and others in a state of domestication. Now this looks rather like a faculty impaired or lying dormant, than one which we can deny to exist. Place animals in a state of great difficulty, and their powers seem to increase in proportion as they are required. And this view of the subject seems not to be unsupported by the picture of the animal creation which we see in Scripture, where they appear certainly more advanced in the scale of creation than they do now ; when they were at once the friends as well as the servants of men; when they were even gifted with the power of language, and conversed with him, as appears, without any expression of astonishment on his part, as if it were no unusual exercise of power; though Milton makes Eve express surprise when the tempter “Her attention gained with serpent tongue Organic, or impulse of vocal air,” for he thus describes the effect of the address made to her by the enemy of mankind : a

[blocks in formation]

can distinctly imitate the human voice, and utter our language as clearly as ourselves; and this only from their own spontaneous habit of saculty of imitation, without being taught. Animals were originally divided by their Maker's will into clean and unclean, that is, more or less honourable; and this distinction may still exist, and thus enable some to be raised higher than at present they are in the scale of creation, enjoying a fuller and more enlarged measure of the divine benevolence, with higher capacities of enjoyment in a more prolonged existence. And this brings us to the consideration of another branch of the argument, which connects the care of the brute creation with the duties of

man, and makes him responsible for.

his conduct towards them ; for as by care and tenderness, and a prudent exercise of authority and application of his superior understanding, he may enable them to develope faculties which otherwise would have remained imperfect, or, perhaps, been wholly obliterated ; so by cruel usage, by infliction of brutal and savage treatment, by bad example, by habitual incitement to acts of passion and outrage, by breeding them up in habits of violence and enmity to all other animals, even of their own kind, and to man himself-he may debase them below even his own degraded state, make them the mere creatures of fierce and violent passion, till to them every object they meet becomes, if strong, an enemy to encounter, if weak, a prey to destroy. So much does the character of animals depend on that of their masters; compare only the gentle spaniel, brought up to watch the movements and obey the kind voice of his master; see how the sagacity of the animal has developed itself with its improved temper and manners, as in the instance of Cowper's favourite dog plunging into the river to gather a flower which its master was in vain endeavouring to reach; or the Newfoundland dog saving from death the drowning sailor; or the noble faithful mastiff pulling down the robber who is threatening his master's life;—compare this with the race of the same animals brought up under different treatment; of the deer-hounds in the keeper's yard, which he warns

not to approach, and which in sullen and dogged hate slink away from those that they dare not attack; or of the fox-hounds, whom the huntsman dare not approach for his life, unless with a powerful weapon in his hand. If man be accountable, as conscience, and reason, and the voice of religion tell us he is, for the sorrows his conduct may bring on his sellow creatures, srom confidence he has deceived, innocence he has ruined, friendship he has violated, injury he has committed, or even happiness he has failed to bestow ; so in a lesser degree may we not suppose, that, if his line of duty extend also up to those limits where the animal creation is found, it may be more forcibly felt, if not only their present comfort is seen to depend mainly upon his conduct, but that their future destiny may also be involved in it? We know very little regarding the individual tempers and capacities of animals; we think the subject beneath our notice, or at least not worthy of the trouble it demands. The sportsman who shoots a thousand hares in a season, looks on them merely as the very same animal multiplied a thousand times; but the Poet who brought up a few of them in perfect and familiar domestication with him, discovered the interesting fact, that they are all distinguished from each other by such difference of temper, feelings, and habits as we are; by different degrees of boldness, attachment, sprightliness, gentleness, and so on,-which fact surely opens to us a new and pleasing field of inquiry, and one that would tend more than any philosophical speculations to give us distinct views of what may be the instinctive and acquired intellect of the animal creation. "We well know that it is very easy indeed to turn all such notions as these into ridicule; for ridicule can successfully disguise and debase with its motley coat far graver subjects than ours; but we know that these humble creatures are all, like ourselves, dependent on God's bounty, and partakers of his common and universal care; that they are gifted with very different degrees of capacity; that they are capable of great improvement; that, like ourselves, they are placed in situations which, humanly speaking, are not correspondent to

[ocr errors]

their tempers, or dependent (if we may so speak) on their deserts; and that the general justice of God’s government must, in a future state, in its wide embrace, comprehend the whole of his creation; and speaking most reverently, most humbly, and most diffidently, as becomes us;—looking to the treatment which the animal creation receives here from the hand of man, there is much suffering to be compensated, much degradation to be removed, and even much goodness to be rewarded. We now can only add, that we fear our lucubrations have taken up so much room that we cannot quote, as we could have wished, some pleasing and instructive passages from Mr. Jesse's work, or that exquisite little poem by his daughter, (now Mrs. Houston), which we defy all the Sapphoes and Erinnas of the present day to excel;-it is 6\ms éé Trièakos ôAty, Aigas. The Tree Lifter; or a New Method of Transplanting Forest-trees. By Colonel George Greenwood. WE have read this treatise with great interest and satisfaction, both as regards the practical observations and advice, and the physiological reasonings and deductions. We must, however, observe that the system recommended by the author for transplanting trees of size with balls of earth can only apply to certain soils, and we presume that his experiments were made in clay; but, as we cannot in our sands retain a particle of earth on the roots, we are obliged to have recourse to the only other system which can be successful, and with great care and labour endeavour to trace out the remotest fibres and small roots, and follow them up till we arrive at the stem of the tree : in this way we have never failed. When, however, the nature of the soil will allow, we still should recommend the old plan, of uniting a ball, with as many roots as can be conveniently preserved : this was the plan adopted with great success at Dropmore and at the Earl of Harrington's, who has moved (perhaps is now moving) trees of one to three hundred years old, with the most remarkable success. We scarcely remember a single tree, of all his “ancient yews,” that has failed; and thus his seat, which but ten years ago

was comparatively on a naked area of ground, is now embowered in the “immortal umbrage" of venerable cedars and yews, and other evergreens; while two thousand Deodora cedars, and an avenue of Araucarias, will give in a few years such a character to Elvaston as no other place in England possesses. We do not take notice of the author's theory of trees not deriving food or absorbing from the spongioles or extremities of the roots, as we perceive it has been remarked on in the Gardener's Chronicle. As regards the season for transplanting trees, the author's remarks (p. 61) are well worthy attention, and of their justness we have no doubt. We have ourselves removed trees with success in the summer months ; and we recollect that the large limes and other trees which were brought by Louis the Fourteenth, to form his garden at Marly, were all removed in the summer, and, for the most part, successfully. On the injury done by the roots of trees to masonry, the author says, in “Greece, Italy, and through the East,” roots are the great dilapidators of the ruins of antiquity; he might have recollected that the Romans had a law against planting the fig-tree within a certain distance of buildings, on account of the injury done by it. At p. 95 the author has given the marvellous measurements of some Pinus Lambertiana on the Columbia, of which the only part we hesitate at believing to be correct is, that, when the trees were only 15 feet diameter near the ground, they were 13 feet diameter at the height of 250 feet; if so, they did not assume the form of cones; and how much higher did they grow for they could not terminate in that abrupt and truncated manner. The Pinus Douglassii, if taken on Mr. Douglas's statement, as to its girth and height, will produce near 400 loads of timber 1 while a large English oak will not bring 10 !! but these are not the largest trees in the world, as they are exceeded by the Tarodium Distichum of Mexico, which are supposed to be the oldest trees on the face of the earth, and for an account of which we refer to Humboldt. As great pains and most praiseworthy have been taken by different writers to

« PreviousContinue »