Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

our

ligation of casting the ballot and en- there, and accordingly is conveniently gaging in public life.-I am, Sir, &c., distinguished by the designation im

Andrew Macphail. posed upon her by our correspondent. 216 Peel Street, Montreal.

She is also a special danger to Amer.

ica, and that is why we, who yield to [The conclusion of Dr. Macphail's none in our sympathy with and admirstriking letter will be published next ation for the people of the Union, shall week. While feeling no small pleas- be glad if we can do anything to call ure in finding space in

col- attention to a very great danger to the umns for a communication so vivid, so larger half of our race. We desire to suggestive, and so incisive in style, point out that we by no means agree and, we may add, in many particulars with Dr. Macphail in his opinion that so timely and so wholesome, we are the luxurious idleness which he rightly bound to make certain reservations. It condemns is to be cured by all women is not necessary to disclaim any inten- becoming nurses and cooks. That is a tion of giving publicity to a general at- view as erroneous as it is conventional. tack on the women of America. Dr. A woman rich enough to employ Macphail renders it abundantly clear nurses and cooks is quite justified in that he makes no such attack. He doing so, and in devoting herself to the recognizes the soundness of the women care of her household and her children of America as a whole, and does not in other ways. She can find plenty fail to realize that the “American to do if she has the will and is inspired woman" of his indictment is to be by a sound tradition of domestic and found throughout the modern world, - social duty. There are many rich in Britain, in France, and in Canada, women who are neither idle nor luxuas well as in the United States. She rious, and yet avail themselves of the is more visible in America because she freedom from hard work which their is more adulated and more advertised wealth allows them.-Ed. Spectator.)

The Spectator.

BIRD SONG IN AUTUMN.

The birds' seasons for silence and song do not coincide completely with the general course of the year's increase and decay. As the days grow shorter in early autumn, the earth is cleared of its harvests, and the dense foliage of later summer begins to yield steadily and unmistakably to the onset of deadening winter. But, by the time when the first elm-boughs are touched with gold, and the mists strike cold at evening by the riverside, the song of the birds shows an increase rather than a decline; and, although the numbers of the autumn singers are comparatively few, and the whole volume of their song but small, this resumption

of the music which they lost in the heats of July brings a strange underlying contradiction, a note of hope, to the pageant of the ruined year.

The end of each bird's song-time is noted by few ears in comparison with those which may welcome its beginning; and, amid the abounding fulness of flower and insect life in July, the familiar singers of the garden fall, almost unnoticed, into the silence of their moulting-time. Even for those who study birds closely, it needs careful vigilance to fix the exact day on which each bird is heard for the last time. But, if we have been conscious in July, while the blossoms opened on the

no

limes, of the first morning when the stops singing before the middle of the thrush called

more from their month; the notes of the blackcaps and crown, we hear the first fitful and un- garden warblers die away to broken certain resumption of its song in some soliloquies, as of birds speaking in cool noonday of September with a new their sleep, and hardly outlast the anticipation of spring which not all the thrush. One of the latest and most failing of autumn can destroy. It is persistent singers is the ever alert and the same with the autumn song of the sprightly goldfinch, which has, happily, robin, which begins, as a rule, its pe- shown distinct signs of regaining its riod of summer silence earlier than the lost ground during the last few years thrush. The impression of melan- as a consequence of legal protection. choly, traditionally associated with the Throughout July, and even up to the robin singing among summer's last middle of August, the bright, though l'oses, is a fallacy of unobservant not exceedingly musical, phrases of the winds, to which the redbreast seems goldfinch can be heard repeated with to be plaining its last notes of the much of the true spring vivacity among year, in sadness for winter to come. the dense foliage of the outer branches In actual fact, the robin is now singing in which it loves to search and flutter, its first songs of reviving vigor and de- like a noisier willow-wren, and where it fiance, after some week's silence during often places its nest among the outthe height of the summer heats. If

most sprays.

But the goldfinch is still there is an added note of pathos in its too uncommon in most districts to be voice, as compared with spring—a point familiar as a singer in the general sion which it is hard for the ear to as- lence of July, that seems heavier, besure itself—this is assuredly not due to cause of the very fulness of sunshine, any infection of melancholy from the herb, and blossom, than the deadest autumn scene, but to the fact that the stillness of frost or winter calm. bird is not yet fired by the full im- The first notes of the new season of pulse of spring.

song are generally to be heard from Birds of different species vary a good our garden robins. The robin seems deal, even among themselves, in the sensitive to the earliest waft of misty time at which they abandon and re- autumn coolness that breathes through sume their song, The time of silence, the dog-day air; and he acclaims its which marks, as it were, the deepest invigorating power, and its hint of period of midwinter in their calendar, spring to come, by the resumption of comes for some even before midsum- bis clear and piercing chant. The new mer; while the woodpigeon, which now song of the robin may not force itself nests occasionally as late as September, upon our notice until some fresh morndoes not cease its cooing until the on- ing in September, after rain and wind set of the October rains and gales. In in the night, when plums and apples warm and still Septembers, the after- lie scattered among the grass, or even noon shadows in the garden seem to until the October leaves of the Virlengthen on the golden lawn to that ginian creeper lie drifted under the robnote of long-drawn peace. But the in's perch on the railing, redder than song of many birds, from the nightin- his own red breast. But often, while gale downwards, does not last even till sleeping under canvas, in early Authe longest day; and, after the first gust by wood or riverside, if we wake week in July, we begin to count the in the gray of dawn we may hear the singers, and find them fewer day by song of the robin already uplifted to day. As a rule, the last song-thrush challenge the keener touch of autumn in the air that is often perceptible at of amber, orange, and gold, the song. the very beginning of the month, when thrush lifts his voice under the pale the nights have already been gaining blue November sky as if winter already for five weeks upon the day. By the were past. It is only the loneliness of time that the human world is astir, his song that distinguishes it from the strong summer seems to reign unmen- music of spring. For in autumn and aced over the land; but the voice of the winter are seldom more than two or robiu in the dawn has marked for the three singing-thrushes within earshot senses that heard it a new moment in

in the landscape, where in March and the revolving year. Deep in the heart April there may be too many to tell of summer, the seeds of autumn are al- apart; and except for the fluting and ready maturing their change; and we clucking of starlings in twos and threes learn from such phases of nature to see about the tree-tops, there is seldom how no season is ever stable and com- other music to be heard among the plete, but how each conceals, a little loftier boughs. below the surface, the preparation for It is this isolation of the autumn its own eclipse.

singers that adds much clearness and It is generally in the last fortnight attraction to their song. Though the of September that the opening notes woodlark sings persistently from an may be heard of the most persistent early season of spring, comparatively of the autumn and winter singers. few ears then learn to recognize the The voice of the song-thrush is first exceedingly rich and resourceful melheard freely in most parts of the south ody of this local and rather unobtruof England about the middle of Octo- sive bird. But its notes may not inber. From that time onward it may frequently be heard again under the be heard singing in mild weather, with paling gleams of a September or Octolittle less than its full spring vigor, un- her sky; and then they can hardly estil in February it fully welcomes the cape the attention of the most unbirth of the new season, which it has learned or uncritical of listeners. The so indomitably foretold. In Septem- song is both richer and more sustained ber it regains its song, not with the than that of the sky lark, though it immediate fulness of the robin, but in has hardly the remarkable individuallow and halting notes, which have often ity which is given to the skylark's muonly the elements of resemblance to sic by its silvery sweetness and the the freedom and sweetness of its per- height from which it is poured. The fect music. The song-thrusb seems to woodlark also sings while on the wing; need the yellowing of the elms to ma- but it mounts in wavering circles, and ture its notes, just as the sight of the floats with an air of careless indiffercocked hay in the meadows is believed ence instead of springing at once into by country people to crack the voice of the air and into song, and soaring high the cuckoo. While the September elm- into heaven. It also frequently sings crowns are still heavy with the green of when perched upon a tree, or even a later summer, or only flec ed here and telegraph wire; while much of the pe. there with a single golden bough, the culiar attraction of the skylark's melsong of the thrushes comes harshly and ody is due to its being almost always uncertainly from their depths.

But uttered in mid-air, although rarely the when the great trees, which even at bird will also sing from some heathertheir first April budding bore a duller tuft upon the common or large clod in verdure than most others, flame forth the bare March ploughs. Unbroken at last into the most splendid shades and impetuous as is the skylark's music while it lasts, the amazing song. high, though seldom with its full spring flights seldom occupy more than three zest. Its comrade, the willow-wren, minutes from ear to earth; but the may also be heard drowsily whispering woodlark's easier song may be poured its song in the July woods; but it seems out much longer without a break, and seldom to sustain even the echo of it is hardly less continuous. It combines until the last days before its departure the silvery quality of the skylark with in September. The ringing song of the a touch of the deeper and softer tones chaffinches is also occasionally to be of the blackbird or black cap. But its heard in September, on days when the most distinctive feature is that rare mingled warmth and freshness in the crescendo on a single repeated note, air seem to stir a sense of April in which is characteristic of no other their blood. But autumn chaffinchBritish bird except the song-thrush and songs are much rarer than autumn the nightingale. It is a rare moment primroses, and even the birds which of surprise and pleasure for the bird-. call in the September garden with lover when this rich and delicate music the native music of spring are selis heard, for the first time, it may be, dom heard again till the lengthening for months or years, streaming, in neg- days of February. More familiar ligence of the lapsing season, to the and characteristic of warm autumn barred October sky. Wandering from weather, after the ingathering of the its breeding haunts with the close of Harvest, is the gentle music of the linsummer, it may sometimes be heard nets, that now traverse the country in in autumn in neighborhoods where it is their free winter frocks. After the unknown in spring. Like the tree- corn is carried, and before the land is pipit, which it resembles both in plum- cleaned and sown, parties of these genage and in many habits, it is a lover tle little finches are a constant feature of the tree-dotted meadow or hillside, of the landscape in any country of large or of the open flanks of the woodland, arable fields. They spend much time rather than of the inner shades. It can in searching the stubbles and rootbe distinguished from the skylark by its fields for the seeds of the corn-field shorter tail and conspicuous pale eye- weeds on which at this time of year stripe, as well as by its perching hab- they chiefly live. But the quest for a its and special mode of flight.

living is easy in these golden autumn Of the few other birds which occa- days when the dun stubbles sleep for sionally resume their song as early as leagues beneath the sun; and, when the the beginning or middle of September, linnets come to one of the tall, stragthe chiffchaffs are the only summer gling hedges of the cornlands, where migrants. First to be heard among their kind will nest in mid-April, they the boughs of naked spring, they are love to halt their company in the upper never wholly silent till they leave us in boughs of the thorns and clematisOctober for the South. Though the wreathed hazels, and to utter a little volume of their spring chiming is very murmuring song of peace, of which the greatly diminished after mid-summer, a united volume fills the spaces of still faint echo of the incessant April call is autumn sunshine. Of all the birds' to be heard from the dense roof of the autumn music, there is none that realbeech or oak woods, even in the July izes so completely the sense of the comheats, when the stillness of bird-life is pleted year, which is expressed so fully most intense. When the mornings to the eye by the landscape of wide, freshen in September the chiffchaff reaped fields. Now, as always, Nature calls more clearly, before the sun is is dying and being born; and, while the LIVING AGE, VOL. XLI.

2148

smoke of weed-fires ascends through the autumn mists, the birds and catkins of a coming summer are already moulded upon the tree. It is the truth of Nature's resurgence which is proclaimed in the keen voices of the robin and the thrush. The emulous instincts of the spring burn already within them, and they will sing on of what their soul foreshadows until it is fully come. But there is also an inevitable sense of parting in autumn; a memory dwells before us in the golden stub

The Times.

ble-fields beneath the sky, of the changeful succession of an English summer outworn, and all the stamp of the one individual year. This sense of retrospection and fulfilment, present in all the quiet autumn landscape, seems to find audible expression from Nature in the linnets' murmuring. It is purely an echo of what is past, and will fade into long winter silence before the pack breaks up for spring, and each singer is again a warrior and lover.

FRANCIS THOMPSON.

It is to the credit of criticism and of For we are born in others' pain, all who have to do with books that

And perish in our own. Francis Thompson dead does not ap

Here, of course, though it was not so pear likely to lack for appreciation.

intended by the poet, is an opportunity We suppose that during his lifetime

for that confusion of thought and bethe praises bestowed upon him by the

lief in which the general mind so de. people who knew and loved him were

lights. For we shall be told that the sufficient from his own point of view,

four lines quoted, in common with and as he had the approval, and knew

other lines of Thompson which it would that he had the approval, of the only

be easy to set forth, indicate or reflect kind of persons whose approval is

the terrible sadness and darkness and worth the having, we must not lament

utter despair of at any rate periods of him precisely as a poet of the neglected Thompson's all too brief life. Of order. In an ideal world the ques

course it is notorious that poets in rude tions which beset such a career as that

health and in the full possession of of Francis Thompson would never

competence and comfort have produced arise, they would never be allowed to

precisely similar appeals to the less exarise even in a moderately sane world;

hilarating emotions, and while a poet and for sane people they really should

no doubt learns in suffering what he not arise. The modern general mind,

teaches in song, it is well-known that however, is an affair which exists, and

woefulness, melancholy, and despair, in which insists upon being taken into ac

the ordinary acceptation of the terms, count; though of course its conclusions

are not vital or essential to the matter. are usually wrong, and for that matter

If a man's contemporaries are ever to ridiculous. On almost the first page acquire the capacity to see him in his of the selected poems of Francis

right place and to extract from his Thompson-a volume which has just

work its full value and meaning as art been issued by Messrs. Methuen and

and its full value and meaning for Messrs. Burns and Oates—we find the

themselves—and such achievement is following familiar stanza:

generally supposed to be possible only Nothing begins, and nothing ends, to posterity—they must get rid of their

That is not paid with moan; tenderness for personal detail and phys

« ZurückWeiter »