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its tail against the wall, making that a fulcrum; and, thus steadied, it works and plasters the materials into the face of the brick or stone. But then, thať this work may not, while it is soft and green, pull itself down by its own weight, the provident architect has prudence and forbearance enough not to advance her work too fast; but, by building only in the morning, and by dedicating the rest of the day to food and amusement, gives it sufficient time to dry and harden. About half an inch seems to be a sufficient layer for a day. Thus careful workmen, when they build mud-walls (informed at first, perhaps, by this little bird), raise but a moderate layer at a time, and then desist, lest the work should become top-heavy, and so be ruined by its own weight. By this method, in about ten or twelve days, is formed an hemispheric nest, with a small aperture toward the top, strong, compact, and warm, and perfectly fitted for all the purposes for which it was intended. But then, nothing is more common than for a house-sparrow, as soon as the shell is finished, to seize on it as its own, to eject the owner, and to line it after its own manner.
After so much labor is bestowed in erecting a mansion, as Nature seldom works in vain, martens will breed on for several years together in the same nest, when it happens to be well sheltered and secure from the injuries of weather. The shell, or crust, of the nest is a sort of rustic work, full of knobs and protuberances on the outside; nor is the inside of those that I have examined smoothed with any exactness at all; but is rendered soft and warm, and fit for incubation, by a lining of small straws, grasses, and feathers; and sometimes by a bed of moss, interwoven with wool.
As the young of small birds presently arrive at their full growth, they soon become impatient of confinement, and sit all day with their heads out at the orifice, where the dams, by clinging to the nest, supply them with food from morning to night. For a time the young are fed on the wing by their parents; but the feat is done by so quick and almost imperceptible a sleight that a person must have attended very exactly to their motions before he would be able to perceive it. As soon as the young
are able to shift for themselves, the dams immediately turn their thoughts to the business of a second brood; while the first flight, shaken off and rejected by their nurses, congregate in great flocks, and are the birds that are seen clustering and hovering, on sunny mornings and evenings, round towers and steeples, and on the roofs of churches and houses. These congregations usually begin to take place about the first week in August; and, therefore, we may conclude that by that time the first flight is pretty well over. The young of this species do not quit their abodes altogether; but the more forward birds get abroad some days before the rest. These, approaching the eaves of buildings, and playing about before them, make people think that several old ones attend one nest. They are often capricious in fixing on a nesting-place, beginning many edifices, and leaving them unfinished; but when once a nest is completed in a sheltered place, it serves for several seasons. Those that breed in a ready finished house get the start, in hatching, of those that build new, by ten days or a fortnight. These industrious artificers are at their labors in the long days before four in the morning: when they fix their materials, they plaster them on their chins, moving their heads with a quick, vibratory motion. They dip and wash as they fly sometimes, in very hot weather, buť not so frequently as swallows. It has been observed that martens usually build to a northeast or northwest aspect, that the heat of the sun may not crack and destroy their nests: but instances are also remembered where they bred for many years in vast abundance in a hot, stifled inn-yard against a wall facing to the south.
Birds in general are wise in their choice of situation; but, in this neighborhood, every summer, is seen a strong proof to the contrary, at a house without eaves, in an exposed district, where sometimes martens build year by year in the corners of windows. But as the corners of these windows (which face to the southeast and southwest) are too shallow, the nests are washed down every hard rain; and yet these birds drudge on to no purpose, from summer to summer, without changing their aspect or house. It is a piteous sight to see them laboring when
half their nest is washed away, and bringing dirt generis lapsi scycire ruinas." Thus is instinct a most wonderfully unequal faculty; in some instances so much above reason, in other respects so far below it! Martens love to frequent towers, especially if there are great lakes and rivers at hand; nay, they even affect the close air of London. And I have not only seen them nesting in the Borough, but even in the Strand and Fleet Street; but then it was obvious, from the dinginess of their aspect, that their feathers partook of the filth of that sooty atmosphere. Martens are by far the least agile of the four species; their wings and tails are short, and therefore they are not capable of such surprising turns, and quick-glancing evolutions as the swallow. Accordingly, they make use of a placid, easy motion, in a middle region of the air, seldom mounting to any great height, and never sweeping along together over the surface of the ground or water. They do not wander far for food, but affect sheltered districts, over some lake, or under some hanging wood, or in some hollow vale, especially in windy weather. They breed the latest of all swallowkind: in 1772, they had nestlings on to October 21st, and are never without unfledged young as late as Michaelmas.
As the summer declines, the congregating flocks increase in numbers daily by the constant accession of the second broods: till at last they swarm in myriads upon myriads round the villages on the Thames, darkening the face of the sky as they frequent the aits of thať river, where they roost. They retire, the bulk of them, I mean, in vast flocks together, about the beginning of October; but have appeared of late years, in considerable Alight, in this neighborhood, for one day or two, as late as November the third or sixth, after they were supposed to have been gone for more than a fortnight. They, therefore, withdraw with us the latest of any species. Unless these birds are very short-lived, indeed, or unless they do not return to the district where there they are bred, they must undergo vast devastations somehow, or somewhere; for the birds that return yearly bear no manner of proportion to the birds that retire.- Natural History of Selborne.
HITE, HENRY KIRKE, an English poet; born
at Nottingham, March 21, 1785; died at
Cambridge, October 19, 1806. He was the son of a butcher, and assisted in his father's shop until the age of fourteen, when he was apprenticed to a stocking-weaver, but was soon afterward placed in an attorney's office, where he applied his leisure hours to study, acquiring some knowledge of Latin, Greek, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese. Before he was sixteen he had gained several prizes offered by periodicals, and in 1803 he published a small volume of poems, with the hope, he says, that its publication would enable him " to pursue those inclinations which might one day place him in an honorable station in the scale of society.” A sizarship was obtained for him at St. John's College, Cambridge, and friends furnished funds sufficient for his maintenance while preparing himself for the Church. His Remains were edited by Southey, with a touching Memoir, and a memorial tablet, with a medallion portrait by Chantrey, was placed in All Saints' Church, Cambridge. Kirke White's poems were, with the exception of a few stanzas, written before his twentieth year, and previous to his entering the University. Clifton Grove, the longest of his poems, is somewhat after the manner of Goldsmith's Deserted Village. He left uncompleted a more ambitious effort — The Christian.
THE STAR OF BETHLEHEM.
When marshalled on the nightly plain
The glittering host bestud the sky,
Can fix the sinner's wandering eye.
Hark! hark! to God the chorus breaks,
From every host, from every gem;
It is the Star of Bethlehem.
Once on the raging seas I rode;
The storm was loud, the sight was dark;
The wind that tossed my foundering bark.
Death-struck, I ceased the tide to stem.
It was the Star of Bethlehem.
It was my guide, my light, my all,
It bade my dark forebodings cease,
It led me to the port of peace.
I'll sing, first in night's diadem,
The Star the Star of Bethlehem.
TO AN EARLY PRIMROSE.
Mild offspring of a dark and sullen sire !
Was nursed in whirling storms,
Thee, when young Spring first questioned Winter's sway
Thee on this bank he threw
In this low vale, the promise of the year,
Unnoticed and alone