Графични страници
PDF файл
[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

word, deport yourself like the bijou - the jewel of the canary birds, as you certainly are."

All this time the bird seemed to listen, and indeed placed himself in the true attitude of attention, by sloping his head to the ear of the man, and then distinctly nodding twice when his master left off speaking; and if ever nods were intelligible and promissory, these were two of them.

“ That's good,” said the master, pulling off his hat to the bird. Now, then, let us see if you are a canary of honor. Give us a tune.”

The canary sang. “ Pshaw! that's too harsh ; 'tis the note of a raven with a hoarseness upon him. Something pathetic.” The canary whistled as if his little throat was changed to a lute.

“ Faster,” says the man; “ slower. Very well. What a plague is this foot about, and this little head? No wonder you are out, Mr. Bijou, when you forget your time. That's a jewel. Bravo! bravo! my little man.

All that he was ordered or reminded of did he do to admi. ration. His head and foot beat time humored the variations both of tone and movement; and the sound was a “just echo of the sense,” according to the strictest laws of poetical „and (as it ought to be) of musical coinposition. “ Bravo! bravo !” reëchoed from all parts of the dining

The musicians declared the canary was a greater master of music than any of their band.

“ And do you not show your sense of this civility, sir ?” cried the bird catcher with an angry air. The canary bowed most respectfully, to the great delight of the company.

His next achievement was going through the martial exercise with a straw gun; after which,“ My poor Bijou,” says the owner,

" thou hast had hard work, and must be a little weary ; a few performances more, and thou shalt repose. Show the ladies how to make a courtesy." The bird here crossed his taper legs, and sank and rose with an ease and a grace that would have put half our subscription assembly belles to the blush.



“ That will do, my bird ! and now a bow, head and foot corresponding.” Here the striplings for ten miles round London might have blushed also.

“ Let us finish with a hornpipe, my brave little fellow : that's it -- keep it up, keep it up."

The activity, glee, spirit, and accuracy, with which this last order was obeyed, wound up the applause in which all the musicians joined, as well with their instruments as with their clappings) to the highest pitch of admiration. Bijou himself seemed to feel the sacred thirst of fame, and shook his little plumes, and carolled an Io Pæan, that sounded like the conscious notes of victory.

“ Thou hast done all my biddings, bravely,” said the master, caressing his feathered servant : “now, then, take a nap, while I take thy place.”

Hereupon the canary went into a counterfeit slumber, so like the effect of the poppied god, first shutting one eye, then the other, then nodding, then dropping so much on one side that the hands of several of the company were stretched out to save him from falling, and, just as those hands approached his feathers, suddenly recovering, and dropping as much on the other. At length sleep seemed to fix him in a steady posture; whereupon the owner took him from his finger, and laid him flat on the table, where the man assured us he would remain in a good sound sleep, while he himself had the honor to do his best to fill up the interval. Accordingly, after drinking a glass of wine, in the progress of taking which he was interrupted by the canary bird springing suddenly up to assert his right to a share, - really putting his little bill into the glass, and then laying himself down to sleep again, the owner called him a saucy fellow, and began to show off his own independent powers of entertaining. The forte of these lay chiefly in balancing with one tobacco pipe while he smoked with another ; and several of the positions were so difficult to be preserved, yet maintained with such dexterity, that the general attention was fixed upon him.

While the little bird was thus exhibiting, a huge black cat, which had been, no doubt, on the watch from some unobserved corner, sprang upon the table, seized the poor canary in its mouth, and rushed out of the window in despite of all opposition. Though the dining room was emptied in an instant, it was a vain pursuit; the life of the bird was gone, and the mangled body was brought in by the unfortunate owner in such dismay, accompanied by such looks and language, as must have awakened pity in a misanthrope. He spread himself half length over the table, and mourned his canary

bird with the most undissembled sorrow.

“ Well may I grieve for thee, my poor little thing! well may I grieve! More than four years hast thou fed from my hand, drunk from my lip, and slept in my bosom. I owe to thee my support, my health, my strength, and my happiness, Without thee, what will become of me? Thou it was that. didst insure my welcome in the best companies. It was thy genius only made me welcome. Thy death is a just punishment for my vanity. Had I relied on thy happy powers, all had been well, and thou hadst been perched on my finger, or lulled on my breast, at this moment. But trusting to my own talents, and glorifying myself in them, a judgment has fallen upon me, and thou art dead and mangled on this table. Accursed be the hour I entered this house and more accursed the detestable monster that killed thee! Accursed be myself, for I contributed! I ought not to have taken away my eyes, ' when thine were closed in frolic. O Bijou ! my dearest, only Bijou ! would I were dead also.”

As near as the spirit of his disordered mind can be transfused, such were the language and sentiment of the forlorn bird catcher, whose despairing motion and frantic air no words can paint. He took from his pocket a little green bag of faded velvet, and drawing from out of it some wool and cotton that were the wrapping of whistles, bird calls, and other instruments of his trade, all of which he threw on the table “as in scorn," and making a couch, placed the mutilated limbs and

ravaged feathers of his canary upon it, and renewed his lamentations. These were now much softened, as is ever the case when the rage of grief yields to its tenderness — when it is too much overpowered by the effect to advert to the cause. · It is needless to observe that every one of the company sympathized with him ; but none more so than the band of musicians, who, being engaged in a profession that naturally keeps the sensibilities more or less in exercise, felt the distress of the poor bird man with peculiar force. It was really a banquet to see these people gathering themselves into a knot, and after whispering, and wiping their eyes, depute one from amongst them to be the medium of conveying into the pocket of the bird man the very contribution they had just before received for their own efforts.

Having wrapped up their contribution, they contrived to put it into the poor man's pocket. As soon as he became aware of what they had done, he took from his pocket the little parcel they had rolled up, and brought with it, by an unlucky accident, another little bag, at the sight of which he was extremely agitated; for it contained the canary seed, the food of the “ dear, lost companion of his heart."

There is no giving language to the effect which this trifling circumstance had upon the poor fellow: he threw down the contribution money which he had taken from his pocket, not with an ungrateful, but a desperate, hand. He opened the bag, which was fastened with red tape, and taking out som of the seed, put it to the very bill of the lifeless bird, exclaiming, “ No, poor Bijou ; no; thou canst not peck any more out of this hand that has been thy feeding-place so many years ; thou canst not remember how happy we both were when I bought this bag full for thee. Had it been filled with gold, thou hadst deserved it.”

“ It should be filled — and with gold,” said the master of the house, “ if I could afford it.”

The good man rose from his seat, which had long been uneasy to him, and gently taking the bag, put in some silver, saying, as he handed it to his nearest neighbor, “Who will refuse to follow my example? It is not a contribution for mere charity ; it is a tribute to one of the rarest things in the whole world ; namely, to real feeling in this sophistical, pretending, parading age. If ever the passion of love and gratitude was in the heart of man, it is in the heart of that unhappy fellow ; and whether the object that calls out such feelings be bird, beast, fish, or man, it is alike virtue, and ought to be rewarded.”




[This spirited lyric is by Robert Browning, a living English poet, of whom a notice may be found on the 322d page. Ghent is a well-known city in Belgium. Aix, or Aix-la-Chapelle, is in Prussia, about a hundred miles distant, in an easterly direction.]


I SPRANG to the stirrup, and Joris, and he ; I galloped, Dirck galloped, we galloped all three ; “ Good speed !” cried the watch, as the gate-bolts undrew; “Speed !” echoed the wall to us galloping through ; Behind shut the postern, the lights sank to rest, And into the midnight we galloped abreast.


Not a word to each other; we kept the great pace
Neck by neck, stride by stride, never changing our place ;
I turned in my saddle, and made its girths tight,
Then shortened each stirrup, and set the pique right,
Rebuckled the check-strap, chained slacker the bit,
Nor galloped less steadily Roland a whit.

* Pronounced Åks.

« ПредишнаНапред »