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religion, Mademoiselle Le Gras died on the 15th of March, 1660, nearly seventy years of age, and for a day and a half her body lay exposed to the gaze of the pious.
A country clergyman, who spent several years in various parts of France, gives an account of the present state of the order, which, together with what I have gathered from other sources, is in substance as follows :-It consists of women of all ranks, many of them of the higher orders. After a year's noviciate in the convent, they take a vow which binds them to the order for the rest of their lives. They have two objects, to attend the sick and to educate the poor; they are spread all over France, are the superior nurses at the hospitals, and are to be found in every town, and often even in villages. Go into the Paris hospitals at almost any hour of the day, and you will see one of these respectable looking women, in her black gown and white hood, passing slowly from bed to bed, and stopping to enquire of some poor wretch what little comfort he is fancying will alleviate his sufferings. If a parochial curé wants assistance in the care of his flock, he applies to the order of les Sæurs de la Charité. Two of them (for they generally go in couples) set out on their charitable mission : wherever they travel their dress protects them. “Even more enlightened persons than the common peasantry hail it as a happy omen when on a journey a Sæur de la Charité happens to travel with them, and even instances are recorded in which their presence has saved travellers from the attacks of robbers.” During the revolution they were rarely molested. They were the only religious order permitted openly to wear their dress and pursue their vocation. Government gives a hundred francs a-year to each sister, besides her travelling expenses; and if the parish where they go cannot maintain them, they are supported out of the funds of the order. In old age they retire to their convent, and spend the rest of their lives in educating the noviciates. Thus, like the vestal virgins of old, the first part of their life is spent in learning their duties, the second in practising them, and the last in teaching them.
ALEXANDER Wilson. [One of the most splendid works of Natural History ever produced is the American Ornithology' of Alexander Wilson, in nine folio volumes, full of coloured engravings. This work was published in the United States, from 1808 to 1813. No learned society gave it encouragement; no distinguished name in the world of science was its author. A poor Scotch pedlar, who had left his native country in the hope of bettering his fortune, was the writer and the artist who, unaided except by the general public support, produced the most superb book of its class that the world had then seen. Alexander Wilson was born at Paisley in 1766. He was apprenticed to a weaver, and afterwards worked as a journeyman at his trade. Subsequently he became a pedlar, and wrote verses whilst he rambled about the country, selling his wares and endeavouring to procure subscriptions for a volume of his poems. He was thus unconsciously laying the foundation for his great work. His early habits of poetical composition gave him a command of language; his wandering habits fitted him for the laborious journeys which he took through the great American continent. In the United States, he was weaver, pedlar, land-measurer, and schoolmaster. His taste for natural history was developed by Mr. Bartram, a celebrated botanist, and he was taught to draw by Mr. Lawson, an engraver,
At length, in 1808, he published the first volume of his . Ornithology.' With this volume under his arm be wandered from town to town, endeavouring to obtain subscribers with small success; but he persevered. sometimes rowing himself in a skiff upon the great rivers, at others plunging into the depths of the forests with his fowling-piece, and his scanty store of biscuits and dried beef. Whenever he shot a remarkable bird, he made a drawing of it and a description on the spot. His book soon came to have a European reputation. Well did he deserve his hard-earned fame. As a writer he has a merit which seldom belongs to systematic naturalists; his descriptions are at once accurate and brilliant. He looks at Nature with the eye of a poet; he describes with an exactness which might satisfy the most rigid classifier. Wilson died from a sudden illness in Philadelphia, in 1813. His book has been reprinted in several forms in this country.]
many novelties which the discovery of this part of the western continent first brought into notice, we may reckon that of the
Mocking-bird, which is not only peculiar to the new world, but in habits a very considerable extent of both North and South America ; having been traced from the states of New England to Brazil ; and also among many of the adjacent islands. These birds are, however, much more numerous in those states south, than in those north, of the river Delaware ; being generally migratory in the latter, and resident (at least
many of them) in the former. A warm climate, and low country, not far from the sea, seem most congenial to their nature; accordingly we find the species less numerous to the west than east of the great range of the Alleghany, in the same parallels of latitude. In the severe winter of 1808-9, I found these birds, occasionally, from Fredericksburg in Virginia to the southern parts of Georgia; becoming still more numeous the farther I advanced to the south. The berries of the red cedar, myrtle, holly, cassine shrub, many species of smilax, together with gum berries, gall berries, and a profusion of others with which the luxuriant swampy thickets of those regions abound, furnish them
rith a perpetual feast. Winged insects, also, of which they are very fond, and remarkably expect at catching, abound there even in winter, and are an additional inducement to residency. Though rather a shy bird in the northern states, here he appeared almost half domesticated, feeding on the cedars and among the thickets of smilax that lined the roads, while I passed within a few feet; playing around the planter's door, and hopping along the shingles. During the month of February I sometimes heard a solitary one singing; but on the second of March, in the neighbourhood of Savannah, numbers of them were heard on every hand, vying in song with each other, and, with the brown thrush, making the whole woods vocal with their melody. Spring was at that time considerably advanced ; and the thermometer ranging between seventy and seventy-eight degrees. On arriving at New York, on the twenty-second of the same month, I found many parts of the country still covered with snow, and the streets piled with ice to the height of two feet, while neither the brown thrush nor Mocking bird were observed, even in the lower parts of Pennsylvania, until the twentieth of April.
The precise time at which the Mocking bird begins to build his nest varies according to the latitude in which he resides. In the lower parts of Georgia he commences building early in April; but in Pennsylvania rarely before the tenth of May; and in New York, and the states of New England, still later. There are particular situations to which he gives the preference. A solitary thorn bush ; an almost impenetrable thicket; an orange tree, cedar, or holly-bush, are favourite spots, and frequently selected. It is no great objection with him that these happen, sometimes, to be near the farm or mansionhouse: always ready to defend, but never over anxious to conceal, his nest, he very often builds within a small distance of the house; and not unfrequently in a pear or apple tree; rarely at a greater height than six or seven feet from the ground. The nest varies a little with different individuals, according to the conveniency of collecting suitable materials. A very complete one is now lying before me, and is composed of the following substances. First, a quantity of dry twigs and sticks, then withered tops of weeds of the preceding year, intermixed with fine straws, hay, pieces of wool and tow; and, lastly, a thick layer of fine fibrous roots, of a light brown colour, lines the whole. The eggs are four, sometimes five, of a cinereous blue, marked with large blotches of brown. The female sits fourteen days; and generally produces two broods in the season, unless robbed of her eggs, in which case she will even build and lay the third time. She is, however, extremely jealous of her nest, and very apt to forsake it, if much disturbed. It is even asserted by some of our bird dealers, that the old ones will actually destroy the eggs, and poison the young,
if either the one or the other have been handled. But I cannot give credit to this unnatural report. I know, from my own experience, at least, that it is not always their practice; neither have I ever witnessed a case of the kind above mentioned. During the period of incubation neither cat, dog, animal or man, can approach the nest without being attacked. The cats, in particular, are persecuted whenever they make their appearance, till obliged to retreat. But his whole vengeance is most particularly directed against that mortal enemy of his eggs
and young, the black snake. Whenever the insidious approaches of this reptile are discovered, the male darts upon it with the rapidity of an arrow, dexterously eluding its bite, and striking it violently and incessantly about the head, where it is very vulnerable. The snake soon becomes sensible of its danger, and seeks to escape; but the intrepid defender of his young redoubles his exertions, and, unless his antagonist be of great magnitude, often succeeds in destroying him. All its pretended powers of fascination avail it nothing against the vengeance of this noble bird. As the snake's strength begins to flag the Mocking-bird seizes and lifts it up partly from the ground, beating it with his wings, and when the business is completed, he returns to the repository of his young, mounts the summit of the bush, and pours out a torrent of song in token of victory.
The plumage of the Mocking-bird, though none of the homeliest, has nothing gaady or brilliant in it; and, had he nothing else to recommend him, would scarcely entitle him to notice, but his figure is well proportioned, and even handsome. The ease, elegance and rapidity of his movements, the animation of his eye, and the intelligence he displays in listening and laying up lessons from almost every species of the feathered creation within his hearing, are really surprising, and mark the peculiarity of his genius. To these qualities we may add that of a voice full, strong, and musical, and capable of almost every modulation, from the clear mellow tones of the wood thrush to the savage scream of the bald eagle. In measure and accent he faithfully follows his originals. In force and sweetness of expression he greatly improves upon them. In his native groves, mounted on the top of a tall bush or half-grown tree, in the dawn of a dewy morning, while the woods are already vocal with a multitude of warblers, his admirable song rises pre-eminent over every competitor. The ear can listen to his music alone, to which that of all the others seems a mere accompaniment. Neither is this strain altogether imitative. His own native notes, which are easily distinguishable by such as are well acquainted with those of our various song birds, are bold and full, and varied seemingly beyond all limits. They consist of short expressions of two, three, or at the most five or six syllables; generally interspersed with imitations, and all of them uttered with great emphasis and rapidity; and continued, with undiminished ardour, for half an hour, or an hour, at a time.- His expanded wings and tail, glistening with white, and the buoyant gaiety of his action, arresting the eye, as his song most irresistibly does the ear. He sweeps round with enthusiastic ecstasy—he mounts and descends as his song swells or dies away; and, as my friend Mr. Bartram has beautifully expressed it, " He bounds aloft with the celerity of an arrow, as if to recover or recall his very soul, expired in the last elevated strain.” While thus exerting himself, a bystander destitute of sight would suppose that the whole feathered tribe had assembled together, on a trial of skill,