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accepted as a necessary adjunct to it), can fail to remark the singular absence of his winged friends in the other parts of Europe (with rare exceptions), and particularly in France and Italy. Let him wander as he will through the orchards and cornfields of Normandy or Brittany, the vineyards of Languedoc, the orange-gardens and olive-groves of the Riviera, or the myrtle-clad slopes of Southern Italy, the same dreary want of indigenous birds perpetually makes itself felt. In France not only the eye and the ear have at length had cause to regret this dearth of birds, they might have long pleaded for them in vain—but they have happily enlisted in their fayour an advocate infinitely more sensitive and acute than either, and whose voice is so powerful, that he is not likely to raise it in vain—that of the Pocket; it appearing, by a report recently presented to the Legislative Assembly, that a late failure in the crops was mainly attributable to the attacks of insects, which the destruction of their enemies, the birds, had allowed to increase to an alarming extent.
It will be interesting to watch how far legislative interference in their favour, which may result from this report, will be effective in increasing their now scanty numbers, and to what extent their increase, if it be so far effectual, will answer the ultimate purpose for which it was designed.
Judging from the specimens which are often to be found exposed for sale in the markets, it would appear that neither in France nor Italy are the people very particular as to the description of birds which are put into requisition for the table, anything from a hawk to a robin doing duty as gibier. My knowledge of ornithology saved me (for instance) at Tonnères from making an essay upon a magpie, which had been served up to me as a young pigeon.
Fancying, as soon as I saw it, that there was something rather unusual about its general appearance, I was induced to examine one of its feet, which had not been removed, but tucked in
pected, instead of the short hind claw of the pigeon, exhibited the longer one which forms a distinguishing feature in the magpie ; the other showed a similar result. On this I summoned the waiter, and asked him of what kind he might consider the bird in question to be.
“ Vraiment, Monsieur," was his answer, "je ne pourrois pas vous dire, mais je vous assure que c'est excellent.
Having then suggested that, unless I was greatly mistaken, it was a magpie, he replied
“Mais, mon Dieu, Monsieur, je n'en sais rien; on m'a dit que c'était un pigeon. Mais, quel que ce soit, je vous assure que vous le trouverez excellent."
By far the larger proportion of the birds that are at present seen during the summer months in France and Italy, are of the migratory class; the loudest and most noticeable in song being the nightingale and white-throat, the former of which I heard in full song (on the road between Venice and Verona) on the 28th of last June, long after the usual warble of this species ordinarily gives place to the chirrup and grating “purr," which succeeds it at nesting time. Of other birds, in Rome at any rate, the little wren, whose insignificance is, I suppose, his protection, is alone in full force. Creeping along the orange and lemoncovered walls of the garden, he pours forth his cheery, thrilling song, with a volume which I have certainly never heard equalled in this country, and which seems quite out of proportion to his tiny form. While I was visiting one afternoon the church of the Sta. Maria degli Angeli, one of the largest within the walls of Rome, I was astonished at hearing it perfectly filled by the voice of one of these little choristers, who, resting a moment on a projecting cornice from his busy labours, gave out what might well have been fancied his earnest melody of praise and thankfulness.
In the streets of Florence may be (or might have been a short time ago) not unfrequently seen a lad whose business
living small birds for sale. Instead of bringing them in cages, after the ordinary custom, he made them find their own locomotive power, driving them on in a flock before him like geese or turkeys. When I saw him, the convoy under his charge consisted of 'some twenty or thirty wagtails, which, with their wings slightly clipped, ran along cheerily before him, beguiling the time by striking at flies, or examining the ground in search of other food, while he brought up the rear with a small ragtopped stick. While I was watching their proceedings, two heavily-laden vetturino carriages, which had just started, drawn by four horses each, thundered up the street with a great flanking and cracking of whips, charging directly through his small protégés, who scuttled away helter-skelter in every direction as fast as their legs and limited power of wing permitted them, scattered to all appearance in utter confusion. From the indifference with which their conductor viewed the dispersion of his convoy, it might have been thought that he deemed any attempt on his part to reassemble them would have been labour entirely thrown away, and that he gave them up for lost, so hopelessly did they seem to be dispersed. The carriages had, however, passed on but a few yards, when, one dropping down from the pavement on one side, one running in from another, the birds began gradually to draw together again of their own accord, and in a minute or two were all pursuing their course again up the centre of the street, hunting for flies, and flirting their tails as gaily as if they had had no cause for alarm.
There is perhaps no bird which, to the mind of any one who has formerly tasted the delights of the soft Italian evenings, recals more freshly and vividly the memories of those bygone days, and is reheard with a warmer welcome, than the little scops eared Owl (Scops Aldrovande). Although, from having occasionally lost his way, and been blown over to this country, he has established his claim to a place among British birds, yet, to be found
outskirts of Italian or Spanish towns, where, as soon as the sun has sunk below the horizon, half-awakening from his long day-sleep, and sitting ensconced in the dense foliage of one of the formal round-headed acacias, which almost invariably afford shade to the public walks and squares of these towns, he breaks the silence of the still evening with his single, unvarying, flute-like note. This, most nearly approaching to “G natural” (above the "middle C”) in music, may be said to bear much the same relation to that of the large Brown Owl's cry, as a Devonshire man's pronunciation of the word “who," is to that pronounced in the more generally accepted manner. This note he repeats at such brief and regular intervals, that, considering the shortness of the summer-nights, and that his days are consumed in sleep, one is somewhat at a loss to understand how he can find time for the ordinary purposes of life.
He may not unfrequently be seen, poor little fellow, blinking on a stand outside a poultry-dealer's door, in the neighbourhood of the Pantheon (where a very miscellaneous collection of birds is often exposed for sale), the destined employment of his captivity being, suspended in a tree, near which his owner lies concealed, to attract small birds (who are always ready to mob and bully an. owl of any kind) within reach of his fowling-piece; a style of chasse, one. would imagine, scarcely more remunerative than interesting—but there is no accounting for tastes.
little tinkling glass-bell-like sound, proceeding from an alder or mulberrytree, may not improbably be ascribed by the person hearing it for the first time to a bird ; nor will it be so easy a matter as might be imagined to prove to his satisfaction that the contrary is the case. Should he approach with his ordinary step the tree from which it proceeds, it at once ceases, not to be recommenced until he has again retired so far as to assure the performer that he may do so without compromising his safety. Let him try it once more, making his apcareful step, and, if possible, keeping the trunk of the tree between him and the musical unknown. Should he thus succeed in surprising him, he will see perched up aloft there a little green frog, with a square bull-dog-shaped head, and quick, black, intelligent eye, whose puffed throat, moving with the modula tions of his song, as though water were trickling down it, announces plainly that he is the vocalist, to whose amorous or contented mood it is to be ascribed.
They are often kept in confinement, in which state (merely in a glass, covered with muslin) they will survive a long while ; the only food they seem to require or care for being house-flies, which they display extraordinary quickness in soizing and swallowing. The instant one is put in under the muslin cover, a small bright eye scans it for a moment; there is a dart from below, and the fly has disappeared; the whole process being so rapid that the eye can hardly follow it.
Talking of flies, would that all the powers to which they are welcome as food, or unwelcome as company, would join in annihilating them at once and for ever! Had I my choice as between them, midges, gnats, fleas, and other strange bedfellows with which travelling (as well as poverty, according to the old proverb) is calculated to make one acquainted, the one on whom I should first pass extreme sentence would be the common House-fly. In bed or out, sleeping or waking, in hot or cool cli. mates, as soon as summer brings them forth, there they are, ever present, ever ready to renew their intolerable persecutions. After suffering from their attacks for some months, one is really almost tempted to consider Domitian a benefactor to his species, or, at any rate, to fancy that the author of “Busy, curious, thirsty fly, etc." if he did not write it in a spirit of bitter mockery, would never have given utterance to a piece of such maudlin sentimentality if he had not been indued with a skin of more than ordinary thickness, or been fortunate enough to live in
visitations to the sugar-basin and creamjug.
Were they to limit themselves to one feeding-ground, and simple downright biting, one might, perhaps, sleep through it and forgive them; but who can endure the determined, pertinacious attacks of a regular man-eating fly? Watch one, as with eager, hurried pace, and wings nervously raised and half quivering with excitement, he approaches the face of a person enjoying (perhaps after a disturbed night) the quiet sleep of the early morning. Of a flea's presence he would probably be unconscious till he awakened ; the step of a gnat is so light, and his bite so gradual, that, should his humming not have disturbed the sleeper, he, while enjoying his meal, would have left his victim in undisturbed enjoyment of his sleep; he “lives and lets live." But otherwise is it with the fly; he feeds as he goes, and the titillatory powers of his six feet and extended sucker, would be together too much for the skins of reapers, thick even in proportion to the proverbial hardness of their ilia. Again and again may the hand, half in sleep, be raised to brush away the intruder; no sooner have the muscles once more become relaxed, and the hand has sunk inactive after a vain attempt to scratch the face he has left, than he renews his attack, to be again driven off by the disturbed slumberer. Again and again will be return with undiminished pertinacity, only giving up the attempt when his victim, at length, resigning himself to his fate, relinquishes further sleep as hopelessly unattainable, and betakes himself to the active business of the day. Of a truth, no more appropriate or suggestive title could have been devised for the arch-enemy, or one breathing a deeper hatred for the accursed insect, than that of “Beelzebub," “the Lord of Flies," the prince of torturers.
In mentioning the fly as nearly ubiquitous, I am bound to acknowledge my debt of gratitude to Venice as a singular exception. Whether it be always
summer, at any rate, during a stay of trousers blackened with fleas; while more than a week at the very hottest midges, which may seem through many period of the year, in a situation appa- days of cold or stormy weather to be rently favourable to them, not a single utterly extinct, suddenly issue forth on one did I ever see in-doors or out. a warm afternoon in countless clouds,
Though it is impossible to render one- assailing the unfortunate sportsman self entirely proof against the annoy- with the appetites of giants refreshed ances of these tormentors, yet, by a with sleep. very simple expedient, & person may Although I believe the contrary to be be enabled in great measure to set them the case as regards mosquitos and at defiance, and travel in comparative midges, yet there can be no doubt that comfort, as far as they are concerned; people who live in a country infested it being merely a square yard (or rather by fleas become acclimatized to them, less) of light mosquito net. It occupies and thus almost totally disregard their a very small compass when doubled up, attacks. They resign themselves to their and can just lie under the pillow if re presence as a necessity (scarcely as a quired for service in the morning, or be necessary evil), and cease to trouble carried in the pocket should a siesta be themselves about them in any way whatdeemed advisable while travelling, or ever. To how great an extent this is during the heat of the midday halt. carried, the following incident will conThe comfort of life depends, to say the vey some idea. A waiter, who had least of it, fully as much on little, as brought something to my breakfast table great things, and this, though appa- (at one of the best hotels in Naples), rently a mere trifle, contributes towards seeing a flea taking his morning stroll it, experto crede, fully its share.
on the tablecloth, took him up gently What gnats, fleas, and midges feed with his finger and thumb, and put him, upon, when what we consider their ordi- without killing him, on the floor. This nary food is unattainable, has always rather exciting my surprise, I said to been to me a mystery nearly as difficult him, What, don't you kill the fleas when to solve as the question how the num. you catch them? " Ah, no, Signore," ber of attorneys and beer-shops in some said he, “ que fare; la vita è breve." By small country-towns can possibly be which, whether he meant that his life supported. Gnats are found swarming was too short to be always at the trouble in out-houses, where they have no visi. of killing fleas, or that of the flea was ble means of subsistence. A person naturally so short that it would be a stepping into a deserted hut will some shame to curtail it, he left me, as I leave times come out with the legs of his the reader, to judge.
RIFLE-SHOOTING AND DRILL: THE CRISIS OF VOLUNTEERING."
The three publications the titles of which we subjoin represent, in various
1 Proceedings of the National Rifle Associs. tion. 1861.
Field Exercise and Evolutions of Infantry,
Pencil-notes on Drill, or, Notes on the Field Exercise ; originally drawn up for the Use of the Officers and Serjeants of the London Scottish Rifle Volunteers. By Captain S. Flood Page, Adjutant of the London Scottish, and late Adjutant of the City of Edinburgh Rifle Volunteers. London : Parker, Son, and
ways, the existing state of what is now felt to be a great national interest.
In the Proceedings of the National Rifle Association for 1861 we have the last statistics of the British art of rifle-shooting. A little while ago there was no such art among us. Our soldiers had their muskets, and our sportsmen had their guns; but for the population at large the sight of a firearm, except in the window of a gunmaker's shop, was a rare thing, and the
in the habit of using one, an absurdity. Almost in an instant this state of things was changed. By a mere stroke of the pen on the part of Authority at a suitable moment, there was effected perhaps the most important, and certainly the most sudden, change in the system of our national manners which this generation has seen. It became lawful, and was even declared desirable by the Crown, that all over England and Scotland the inhabitants should form themselves, in a regular manner, into companies and regiments of Volunteer soldiers. It seemed that a strong demand for this change, as a matter of necessity and right, was already pent up in the national breast; for the response was immediate. Our streets in cities and towns, our village-greens and commons, burst at once into a bloom of uniforms
-light-grey, dark-grey, dark-green, red, and so on-worn by men who had never worn uniform before, and had thought to descend into their graves without ever having done such a thing. It was not merely our very young men, in quest of novelty, excitement, and exercise, that so appeared as Volunteers, but our men also of more staid age and habits in even greater proportion-men who almost reluctantly incurred the trouble of thus personally showing how heartily they approved of the movement, and who for some time spent no end of half-crowns in cabs, out of sheer horror at being seen in their uniforms, and only gradually learnt to walk in them unabashed. Among the mixed motives that drew the Volunteers together there was none that was not innocent; most were laudable ; and at the heart of all, we believe, to give dignity and endurance to the others, was a conviction entertained by thousands that in the Volunteer System a noble addition had been made, not a bit too soon, to the institutions of the freest country in the world, and that, in personally supporting it, one would be exercising a real privilege, and discharging a real duty.
Well, the thing succeeded; the Volunteer system did become an institu
our now established toast at public dinners, of “The Army, the Navy, and the Volunteers.” And, as the Volunteer system burst out of the prior state of public feeling, so out of the Volunteer System burst the new British Art of Rifle-Shooting. In due time, when our effective Volunteers had, in the course of their drill, learnt the manual and platoon exercises, and so got accustomed to the feel and the weight of that awful thing, the rifle, a considerable proportion of them, not unwilling to know more of the creature, were passed in squads through Position Drill, and so made free of the Rifle-ground, where they could satisfy themselves of her more dangerous capabilities, and of their own fitness to have such a pet. On raw spring mornings, in fine summer afternoons, and at other times and seasons, men would be gathered together in tens or scores, in waste out-of-theway places, like conventicles of Covenanters, or troopers in search of such, save that their occupation was in gazing at white targets, with black spots in the middle of them, placed against distant banks of earth. Some of these assembled aspirants were confident in their former experience as shots against birds and hares; others were very much in doubt what would happen when it came to their turn to step out, and whether, when the rifle was at their shoulder, and they had to pull the trigger, it might not be best to shut their eyes and bid the world farewell. Miraculous it was, but the fact, that many of these utter novices did as well as the experienced shots, or even better. A centre, perhaps, for the first shot at a hundred and fifty yards made one think that possibly after all there was a lurking faculty of shooting in one, if it could be brought out; or, at all events, the respectable achievement of promotion to the Second Class on 'the first day out, put one in heart. And so out of the crowds who went so far, and who, contracting a natural affection for the creature that had wakened in them such sensations on the first day's real acquaintance, took her home and cleaned her