4 APRIL 1840, Page 12


Luxe; before Four L1NNA:UsES, your BUrroNS, stud your Curunts were dreamt of, belbre there was any ALLERTUS MAGNUS or the least talk of Am:F.1.011x, and when old 2Esoc was your only au- thentic natural historian, the community of Birds lived under a tolerably orderly sort of government, acknowledging the eagle lbr their sovereign. They called their monarchy, however, a "limited" one; for the sole power of government did not rest with the sove- reign eagle, the community further acknowledging an aristocracy, composed of the vultures, hawlo:, kites, buzzards, and the other large birds of prey, who met once it year and made laws for them. But still further to se ore their political freedom, this happy race professed a third power in the state: this was composed of ravens, magpies, owls, shrikes, (called also butcher-birds,) and various other of the inferior order of the birds of prey, with, however, a con- siderable proportion, it should be added, of gulls and noddies and birds of that description. This latter assembly, generally called the Lower Ilouse of Prey, received also, it appears, the name of " repre- sentative,"—the reason of which has never been ascertained. Sonic antiquarians have inivoincil that it might have been a custom with themto represent dramatic scenes, perhaps to enact fbbles, for the amusement of the mosses, either be:flirt) entering upon or even during the course of theia more serioto: occupations. The learned Bours was of opinion that AtosToeitaxr.s took the hint of his " Birds" from a popular tradition respecting the capacity of these creatures for acting. The cider Clumes indeed applies to the it senatorial proceedings the words "continual fiirce," (sine ,fine midoss); but we must reject an authority so opposed to credibility. Whether it was all acting or all earnest in the said assembly, and what in the world "representative" implied, noist then evidently remain a vexota ipuestio after till.

Thus were the blessings of liberty happily secured in the nation of Birds by a triple bulev.o.k ; the virtue of which, as it has been laid down by many famous owls, consists its that beautiful balance of all tile powers, whereby one of them can never offer to go right but another immediately checks it.

Say that a nation is brought on in the Lower House of Prey- " that it be unlawful in future -Par the carnivorous classes composing this House to (line on their constituents;" or, that being too nar- rowly expressed, then more brondiy- -"that the practice of the larger birds pr' yiog on the small T do cease from the present tittle in this Chri,tioo community." This onotion might perhaps be thrown out by the ravens, sparrow-hawks, and hen-harriers of the Lower llouse ; but what of that ? (lutes hope end there ? 01' course not ; Ear appeal lie :: to the kites, hawks, cormorants, &c. of the Upper A. suably; and beyond them again to the Eagle. No rea- sonable birds mull detwool more than this. Besides, they pos- sessed the right of anlimited petition ; and what they were un- able to get they were still permitted to ask fbr.

Imperfbetiolls wt ill creep imo the best-regidated governments; and there Was WIC cr.y ing, evil in the state at the period to which

we refbr, respecting which all birds piped amain it, field and wood ; so we must endeavour to eaplain what it was. It was always the prerogative of the sovereign Ea;cie to choose his own responsible advisers ; a prerogative very proper liar him to possess, but, as may he supposed, not amiable to abuse. A female eagle, that at this time occopied the throne of Birddom, had made a selection of such

a curious character, that could you have seen tliem you would have said they were stqffed—not living birds; and that her majesty, when she chose them, was only forming a museum of curiosities not not a cabinet of ministers. But the oddity of the general selection was quite swallowed up by me grotesque appointment, if We may be allowed the expression, which put all others out of mind.

We have read of Roman Emperors appointing their cook, their horse, and what not, to be prime minister; and history unfolds innumerable similar specimens of the humours of royalty when able to be indulged without restraint. The Eagle- Queen bad appointed to the office of prime minister a bird whose natural province and real duties were those of court- jester. This bird was an anomaly ; it was quite impossible to classify it: some said it was a goose ; others declared it was a Todux, (Liumuus, Gen. xxii.) that is to say a Lady, or toady; some did not scruple to say it was a hammiog-bird of the largest size. Such strange and contradictory conjectures would appear perfectly unintelligible if we did not know that the object of them was equally strange and contradictory, presenting itself under different aspects according to circumstances, and capable of every variety of demeanour to suit the ailment. The fact is, the bird was an owl—an irregular specimen of the Stria. Bubo—what Om calls " ignavus bubo," that is, stupid bubo—a word from which we de. rive our " booby " but this owl had greatly transcended his na- ture, and, by continually enlarging an original small stock of con. ning, had attained in time to such a handsome fund of knavery that there was not a trick be did not know—no hoax could be played off but our owl was sure to be at the bottom of' it—no practical public joke, but his hand was plainly visible in the con- coction. This wonderful owl had a spice of humour in him too; and as he had learnt to smooth the bristles of his nose, and had acquired even a winning way with him for company, he soon found a place at the Eagle's table, where he became a prodigious fa- vourite, rising, as has been said, to the joint dignity of court-jester and prime minister. Great were his honours in court and council; yet he shared that fate common to owls and ministers—" When they appear in daylight they are chaced and insulted with loud cries by the small birds."* Such was the state of the government in Birddom at the time to which we refer, and such was its head. Now there was no question at this time which occupied the attention of the bird- public more deeply than that very one we have above adverted to —" whether they (the bird-public) should any longer be eaten?" This question vitas actually entertained by the Commons, or Lower Ilouse of Prey, in the form of a regular annual motion, to which never less than four or five days of solemn debate was assigned— after which they found, unfortunately, " they must still cat the public."

Such a debate was shortly to come on, and great excitement

prevailed on the subject, when it appeared to a committee of the small birds that they might better their cause somewhat by sending a deputation to wait on the prime minister. Accordingly, a large and imposing flight was presently organized, composed of every class of onseres, passeres, &c. ; and these flew away to the abode of

the great owl. Hint they found very comfortably asleep in the recess of an old oak. Having awakened him, they explained the object of their visit ; and were immediately, with due courtesy, welcomed and requested to proceed; when the following dialogue took place.

A Pmernmen. My lord, you know our complaint : we complain that this community has lived fur centuries under a form of govern- ment, and in what is culled a civilized state, and yet that one class still preys on another in a manner not distinguishable from barbarism. We submit that the very principle of law is to afford protection to the weak ; and that it is a public mockery to talk of the administration of justice in this nation, while no small bird that skims the field in search of food for its young is safe from the talons of the hawk. Owa. A—suffer use to observe that you overlook an important fact; you are more prompt, I find, to conceive an injury than to suspect a kindness. Now let me ask, does it never occur to you that oilier cause's, and not the vulgar one of appetite, [tosses his head disdah,fully at the idea,] may induce those great and sagacious birds to whom you allude to make away with you? May no poi/lieu/ motives animate the minds oftheir lordships—continually immersed as they are in calculations for the general ;*ood—nay, motives in which your own welfare is alone proposed. Soy you escape the hawk's talons, do you escape the sports- man's gun in that next field ? It is to save you from that terrible calamity, which is always iintending over, or rather under you, that our hawks, in pure compassion, make off with you, whenever they bare the pleasure of meeting you out. A Poliasasp. Excuse me, your lordship : of the injustice and cruelty of the: hawk We can judge, but not of the conduct of man. The ways of man are inscrutable, but it is impossible to believe that such a gifted creature as he can knock us down purposely or unkindly. NI hy we are slaughtered as we are must remain mi impenetrable mystery; but in the mean time, we are content to fall by his hands, retarding that as a natural part of our destiny : the case is quite different with the rhuaro. (The little hitds applaud this simple speeds; Owl grins frryht- A BULLFINCH. We must have protection from the laws if we are to obey them. Allow me to suggest in your case, that you should get caught and caged as fast as possible : you will never want " protection, you know, after that. Ss:w sassy. PHIEONS. It will not do to tell us that we are torn to pieces out of consideration : we know better: it is all nothing but a licentious voracity--a horrid lust after our flesh.

• Elements of Nat. IIW. 1801. owl,. (Regarding the last speahers with a doubtful leer, his mouth site" watering.) Why will you be so nice then? (Pigeons retreat.) A PIELDFARE. You talk of justice and right : now I put it to your common sense—A little bird, weak, and totally defenceless, is on the wing; from above behold a mighty goshawk, coating dashing down upon him in all his strength with clattering wings and outstretched talons: now, just let me ask, what do you call that ?

Owe Speaking as an owl, I should call it a pretty predicament; but speaking us a member of the present government, you must know we call that " making a communication."

A FEMALE LABE. (IVA tears in her eyes.) This very morning was 1 watching my mate mounting in the sky ; high up, a ray from the morning sun lied turned all his plumage into gold ; I felt proud of Intu- it ‘,.„, the happiest moment or my life. (Owl applies a half-eaten „,„„, h, h;.c. e:.es by way of hamlitcrehirf) Just then there came by the hawk which they call a hobby, a bird that particularly persecutes our tribe --- Owl.. That's its hotdee I suppose. FEMALE. LARK. -- rid I with my own eyes see it pounce on my poor husband. and tear—(Sfw cannot preeiaq, and retires.)

OwL. Walling after her.) Why, my dear, the creature was only linving a la k.

Here the whole deputation of birds rises, no longer able to con- tain their in:lie:nation at the mixture of insolence in office, flippant vulgarity, tlisgusting indifference to public: opinion, coscombry and buffinmery, which had been exhibited. They, however, partly re- strain it, while a few of the oldest and most reapteatable birds advance to the front, and one of them proceeds to address his lordship as follOWS. RESPECTABLE OLD BIRD. My lord, it' you will allow me to make so bold, 1 believe you are not very well acquainted with the subject. under die.ussion, and hence much of this dissatisfaction may arise.

Owc (carelessly). I don't profess to know much about ornithology— it is a dry study.

Resemaranae eta, 131no. We ground our case for exemption from this dreadful tax on our existence mainly on this fact, that we are not necessaiy as food to the tired:eery classes ; that in order to maintain their own lives and fortunes it is not la,ce...Irg that they should ruin ours. We say, let them range the fields further and further abroad, as we wish to do ourselves. Nature never forgets them Do not the plains furnish, in time of peace, lambs, kids, hares, rabbits, Sec.; and in time of war, abundant carcases and carrion?

(fitintiege Why, good Cod, you don't mean to say that any birds will prey on Iambs and kids, and such poor into:emit dumb creatures? I never heard any thing so shocking. RESPECTABLE OLD BIRD. I thought you were not very well in- formed on the aulject. It is however by going continually further afield that the sufficiency of Nature to all the tools of existence, without encroachment on the rights of others, is made manifest. But as I per- ceive you are already nearly asleep, my lord, and as I do not really see what we shall gain by further communicatioa, I will say no more, and will advise the members of this deputation to employ elsewhere their valuable time.

Sin-seitar„ together. Ask him whether he will do any thing? What will you do for us, eh?

Owa. As to abating altogether the practice cf eating you—that is out or the question ; nor should 1, tbr toy part, speaking as an owl, (Hear!) ever desire to see such a change: in my opinion, you ought always to lie eaten in moderation. Again, I don't approve of that voracity and violence with whiela perceive many kites and cormorants are used to fasten on you : it don't look well, and there is no use in it ; and I shall be very happy to use any influence I may possess over this class in persuading them to handle you more genteelly and considerately in future. They should take their example front me. There—when I munch my mouse, (Resumes his half-eaten mouse.) I use no violence, you see : I love him too well, so 1 only much—munch- munch-

Here he looks up, and finds all the company of birds departed: but it does not put him out at all; so he just finishes his mouse, and then drops comffirtably to sleep again, exactly in the place where they first discovered him. It was not long after this that the ravenous brood of birds, in order to give the usual satisIbetion to the public—the gaping gulls out of doors—held their annual debate; keeping the said public in the usual suspense of about four days as to whether they meant

to go on making free with them or not, and then returning answer—

they must continue to do it.

Alas for an esculent public !