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a little stream of water, which ran in a gutter through the volery. . Twenty days before they were intended for killing, their allowance was augmented; nay, so far was the attention carried, that they gently removed into a little ante-chamber the thrushes which were plump and in good order, to enjoy more quiet; and, frequently, to heighten the illusion, they hung boughs and verdure, imitating natural scenery, so that the birds might fancy themselves in the midst of the woods. In short, they treated their slaves well, because they knew their interest. Such as were newly caught were put in small separate voleries, along with others that had been accustomed to confinement; and every contrivance, every soothing art was employed to habituate them somewhat to bondage; yet these birds were never completely tamed.
‘We are not aware that any contrivance is resorted to in Britain to entice birds to build in particular places, except in the case of the housesparrow. Sometimes, pots of unglazed delf ware, of a sub-oval shape, with a narrow hole for an entrance, are fixed upon the walls of houses, several feet below the eave; and the sparrows, finding a domicile so suited to their habits, very soon take possession of every pot thus provided for them. But those who are so careful to accommodate the sparrows, do it, not because they are fond of their neighbourhood, or their yelping concerts, but to prevent their nestling under the eaves, where they dig out the mortar with their strong bills, when they do not find holes large enough for their accommodation. It probably never struck those persons that, by thus encouraging the sparrows to breed, they are promoting the increase of the race; and, unless they multiply their sparrow pots yearly, they may be almost certain that the supernumeraries will resort to the eaves nearest their birth-place.
“In Holland, square boxes are placed on the house-tops to entice the stork (Ciconia alba, BELON) to build; and, for the same purpose, it was customary in France, in Belon's time, to place wheels there, a practice said to be still followed in some parts of Germany.
“In North America, probably to increase as much as possible the rural charms of their brief summers, more than one species of bird is invited “by all appliances” to nestle near the houses. Among these half-domesticated and sociable birds, the house-wren, the blue-bird, and the purple martin, are the most noted. The latter (Hirundo purpurea, LATII.) is like our window-swallow, a bird of passage; and he always makes his summer residence among the habitations of man; who, deriving considerable advantage as well as amusement from his company, is generally his friend and protector. Accordingly, whenever he comes he is almost certain of finding some hospitable retreat fitted up for his accommodation and the reception of his family, either in the projecting wooden cornice, on the top of the roof or sign-post, or, if all these be wanting, he betakes himself to the dove-cot, among the pigeons; and when he makes choice of a particular quarter of the latter, not a pigeon dare set foot within his premises. Some of the Anglo-Americans have large conveniences constructed for these birds, consisting of numerous apartments, which are for the most part fully tenanted every spring; and, in such swallowries, individual birds have been noted to return to the same box for several successive years.”—pp. 339–343.
The swallow, notwithstanding the velocity and apparent ease of its movements, must be a cowardly bird, as it will permit even the little wren to enter its nest and take forcible possession of the premises, which it will retain against the lawful owners. These and other birds of a similar propensity, make the conquered nest their own, and in it they will rear their offspring with the utmost attention. But there is more than one species of these parasite birds, which take no trouble whatever with their young, contenting themselves with finding a nest in which their eggs may be deposited. This is especially the case with the cuckoo, who never builds a nest for herself, but drops her eggs into the habitation of another, to whom it confides the care of bringing forth its progeny. This kindness, it was formerly, and still in many places is, believed, the young cuckoo repays by devouring its fostermother. But this certainly is an error.
“M. Montbeillard put the matter beyond doubt by experiment. On the 27th of June he put a young cuckoo, already nine inches long, in an open cage with three young fauvettes, which were scarcely fledged, and could not eat without assistance. The cuckoo, however, so far from devouring, or even threatening them, seemed eager to repay its obligations . to the species, suffering the little birds, which were not in the least afraid, to warm themselves under its wings. On the other hand, a young owl which had as yet only been fed by hand, began of itself to eat by devouring a fauvette which was lodged with it. The account of the carnivorous habits of young cuckoos has by some been qualified, by alleging that it swallows its foster-nestlings just as they burst from the shell; and as these little embryos might be looked upon as something intermediate between eggs and birds, they might therefore be eaten by the cuckoo, which is said to feed on eggs. This, however, requires to be confirmed by observation; but of the insatiable voracity of the cuckoo there can be no doubt. In the summer of 1829, a gardener at Lee, in Kent, kept a young cuckoo for several months, and such was its appetite, that it never seemed to have enough. Yet it did not make any attempt to eat, unless it was fed, up till October; of course after all his brethren had migrated, and the possessor, disliking the constant trouble of feeding it, had it killed and stuffed.
“The disappearance of the foster-nestlings from the nest in which a cuckoo is hatched, is more satisfactorily accounted for by the observations of the late Dr. Jenner, to whom the world was indebted for the inestimable discovery of vaccination. “On the 18th of June, 1787,” says he, “I examined the nest of a hedge-sparrow (Accentor modularis), which then contained a cuckoo and three hedge-sparrows' eggs. On inspecting it the day following, the bird had hatched; but the nest then contained only a young cuckoo and one hedge-sparrow. The nest was placed so near the extremity of a hedge, that I could distinctly see what was going forward in it; and, to my great astonishment, I saw the young cuckoo, though so lately hatched, in the act of turning out the young hedge-sparrow. The mode of accomplishing this was very curious; the little animal, with the assistance of its rump and wings, contrived to get the bird upon its back, and making a lodgment for its burthen by elevating its elbows, clambered backwards with it up the side of the nest till it reached the top,
where, resting for a moment, it threw off its load with a jerk, and quite disengaged it from the nest. It remained in this situation for a short time, feeling about with the extremities of its wings, as if to be convinced whether the business was properly executed, and then dropped into the nest again. With these, the extremities of its wings, I have often seen it examine, as it were, an egg and nestling before it began its operations; and the nice sensibilities which these parts seem to possess, seemed sufficiently to compensate the want of sight, which as yet it was destitute of I afterwards put in an egg, and this, by a similar process, was conveyed to the edge of the nest and thrown out. These experiments I have since repeated several times, in different nests, and have always found the young cuckoo disposed to act in the same manner. In climbing up the nest, it sometimes drops its burthen, and thus is foiled in its endeavours; but after a little respite, the work is resumed, and goes on almost incessantly till it is effected. The singularity of its shape is well adapted to these purposes; for, different from other newly-hatched birds, its back, from the shoulders downwards, is very broad, with a considerable depression in the middle. This depression seems formed by nature for the design of giving a more secure lodgment to the egg of the hedge-sparrow, or its young one, when the young cuckoo is employed in removing either of them from the nest. When it is about twelve days old this cavity is filled up, and then the back assumes the shape of nestling birds in general." “It sometimes happens (which disproves Pliny's statement) that two cuckoos' eggs are deposited in the same nest, and then the young produced from one of them must inevitably perish. Two cuckoos and one hedge-sparrow were hatched in the same nest, and one hedge-sparrow's egg remained unhatched. In a few hours afterwards a contest began between the cuckoos for the possession of the nest, which continued undetermined until the next afternoon, when one of them, which was somewhat superior in size, turned out the other, together with the young hedgesparrow and the unhatched egg. The combatants alternately appeared to have the advantage, as each carried the other several times to the top of the nest, and then sunk down again, oppressed by the weight of the burthen; till at length, after various efforts, the strongest prevailed, and was afterwards brought up by the hedge-sparrow.”
“Here, then, we have the high authority of one of the most celebrated scientific men of his day for these very remarkable circumstances, which clearly explain the origin of the mistakes of Aristotle and Pliny, as well as of many modern writers, who having ascertained the disappearance of the eggs and young of the cuckoo's foster-parents, conceived (plausibly enough, though erroneously) that they were devoured by the young cuckoo.'—pp. 365–368.
Colonel Montagu states, that he had ocular evidence of the fact stated by Dr. Jenner, of a young cuckoo turning out of a hedge sparrow's nest a young swallow; and a similar circumstance is mentioned from his own observation by Blackwall, in the Manchester Memoirs, with the difference, that in this case, the young cuckoo, soon after it was hatched, expelled a whole nest, not
of swallows, but titlarks, together with some unhatched eggs, without much difficulty.
In closing Mr. Rennie's volume, we must express a wish that he had digested with somewhat more of method, the entertaining matter which he collected with so much industry. He frequently confounds one class with another, and more than once, repeats the same facts under different heads. We care little, in a work of this kind, about systematic arrangement; but there is a natural order of proceeding in all subjects, which cannot be abandoned with impunity. Nor can we conclude without observing, that though the volume is upon the whole useful and amusing, it is by no means equal in merit to those by which it has been immediately preceded. Mr. Rennie, in fact, was much more at home upon the subject of Insect Architecture, than he seems to have been upon that of the Architecture of Birds.
ART. IX. —Mémoires de Madame La Duchesse D'Abrantes, ou Souvenirs Historiques sur Napoleon, La Revolution, Le Directoire, Le Consulat,
L'Empire, et la Restauration. Tome premier, 8vo. Paris: Ladvocat. 1831.
NotwitHSTANDING the multitude of volumes which has been poured upon the world during the last few years, for the purpose of illustrating the life and career of Napoleon, still a small, but by no means an uninteresting portion of the great historical picture, remained to be filled up. The part which he took in the revolution, the period of the Consulate, the imperial reign, the two exiles, and death of the memorable hero, are now made familiar to the world by innumerable volumes of authentic details. The early life of Buonaparte alone stood in need of that candid explanation, which it is now pretty much acknowledged that the remaining portion of it has received. Perhaps the curiosity of the world upon this point was not a little stimulated by the fact that Napoleon himself seemed always reluctant to recur to the period of his youth : the perseverance with which he conducted a plan for destroying the papers of General Menou, which he knew to contain memoranda respecting his early career, indeed, demonstrates the extent of this repugnance. The chief value of the present work consists in its presenting a good many materials for completing the biographical record of one of the most extraordinary of men. The Duchess of Abrantes, who, it may not be unnecessary to state, is the widow of Marshal Junot, enjoyed a singular combination of opportunities for collecting facts connected with the boyhood of Napoleon. Her mother lived upon intimate terms with the mother of Buonaparte, and she actually carried him when but an infant in her arms. Her relations were on the most familiar footing with the Buonaparte family: and during the time that the future hero attended as a school boy at the military school at Paris, he spent his leisure hours chiefly with vo L. II. (1831.) No. 1 v. 2 Q
her father. Marshal Junot, besides, was attached to Napoleon during that most critical and interesting part of his career—the period which intervened between the date of the Siege of Toulon and that of the expedition to Egypt. The Duchess too all her life held intercourse with some of the family. In short so numerous and so favourable were her opportunities either for hearing authentic information of Buonaparte or observing for herself, that we are persuaded to believe that the Duchess is not presumptuous in claiming, as she does, to be the only person who thoroughly knew the late emperor. But it is not alone on account of what is contained in this volume relating to Buonaparte, that we consider it well worthy of attention. In the circumstances in which she was placed, the lady of Marshal Junot must have seen much of the under plot system from which no court is exempt, and she must have been privy to many state secrets, the nature of which would confound even the most knowing with amazement. She herself indeed tells us, in her very lively manner, that this was actually the case. . . “In the notes and memoranda which I possess, there is a very ludicrous combination of court intrigués and state matters, dark plots and brilliant events—scenes which depict the peculiar manners of the time, and actions which recal to us the memory of illustrious contemporaries. All these materials would most likely have proved barren, as far as I am concerned, rather than profitable, had I begun to write when my friends urged me to do so; since every thing depends on the manner of getting up a work, and none perhaps is more difficult than that in which I am engaged. Truth is often sacrificed to passion: I have already said that I was notexempted from it; and fortunately I am aware of it in time. I was valiant enough for some years to avoid encountering any resentment, and carefully to observe a description of speech the least possible offensive to certain persons. These individuals I shall not name; but in reading these memoirs they will understand me ; let this be their punishment.”—p. 17. The Duchess proceeds to give a brief account of her parentage, which proves to be originally Greek. She appears very proud of the accident, and labours hard to shew, and we must say not without success, that Napoleon also could trace his origin to the same people. Her immediate parents, however, were Corsicans—were neighbours and friends, as we have already mentioned, of the Buonaparte family; and by a curious coincidence both families migrated to France, there to form those relations with each other, which has enabled the Duchess to contribute so amply to the history of Buonaparte's life. The part of the narrative which refers to the childhood of Napoleon was, of course, derived from the traditions of the family; besides which the Duchess had the good fortune to be acquainted with a woman named Saveria, a sort of housekeeper to Madame Buonaparte. The general impression which she has drawn, after all her inquiries from persons who had seen and known Napoleon during his boyhood, is, that there was nothing at all sin