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Title: Wild Nature Won By Kindness
Author: Brightwen, Elizabeth
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Wild Nature Won By Kindness" ***

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                 Wild Nature

               Won by Kindness


             _BY THE SAME AUTHOR._

    of the Author and many other full-page Illustrations.
    Crown 8vo, imitation leather gilt, gilt edges, in box, 5s.

    With 32 Illustrations by Theo Carreras. Uniform with
    above, 5s.

  GLIMPSES INTO PLANT LIFE. Fully Illustrated.
    Crown 8vo, cloth gilt, 3s. 6d.

                 WILD NATURE
               WON BY KINDNESS

               MRS. BRIGHTWEN

 _Vice-President of the Selborne Society_


               EIGHTH EDITION

               T. FISHER UNWIN

            _All rights reserved._




The little papers which are here reprinted would scarcely have been
written but for the encouragement of your sympathy and the stimulus of
what you have contributed to the loving study of nature. Shall you,
then, think me presumptuous if I venture to dedicate to the friend what
I could never dream of presenting to the professor, and if I ask you to
pardon the poorness of the gift in consideration of the sincerity with
which it is given.

                           Pray believe me to be
                                  Yours very sincerely,
                                         ELIZA BRIGHTWEN

           _June, 1800_.



   6. THE JAY
   9. BIRDIE
  16. A MOLE
  29. RAB, MINOR





Two short chapters, one describing the life of an Ant-lion, and the
other the habits of a tame Toad, were added to the second edition, which
was in other respects a reproduction of the first.

The present edition has been improved by the adoption of a number of
illustrations which were designed for the German translation of this



I have often wished I could convey to others a little of the happiness I
have enjoyed all through my life in the study of Natural History. During
twenty years of variable health, the companionship of the animal world
has been my constant solace and delight. To keep my own memory fresh, in
the first instance, and afterwards with a distinct intention of
repeating my single experiences to others, I have kept notes of whatever
has seemed to me worthy of record in the life of my pets. Some of these
papers have already appeared in _The Animal World_; the majority are
now printed for the first time.

In the following chapters I shall try to have quiet talks with my
readers and tell them in a simple way about the many pleasant
friendships I have had with animals, birds, and insects. I use the word
friendships advisedly, because truly to know and enjoy the society of a
pet creature you must make it feel that you are, or wish to be, its
friend, one to whom it can always look for food, shelter, and solace; it
must be at ease and at home with you before its instincts and curious
ways will be shown. Sometimes when friends have wished me to see their
so-called "pet," some scared animal or poor fluttering bird has been
brought, for whom my deepest sympathy has been excited; and yet there
may have been perhaps the kindest desire to make the creature happy,
food provided in abundance, and a pleasant home; but these alone will
not avail. For lack of the quiet gentle treatment which is so requisite,
the poor little captive will possibly be miserable, pining for liberty,
hating its prison, dreading the visits of its jailor, and so harassed in
its terror that in some cases the poor little heart is broken, and in a
few hours death is the result. In the following simple sketches of
animal, bird, and insect life, I have tried to show how confidence must
be gained, and the little wild heart won by quiet and unvarying
kindness, and also by the endeavour to imitate as much as possible the
natural surroundings of its own life before its capture. I must confess
it requires a large fund of patience to tame any wild creature, and it
is rarely possible to succeed unless one's efforts begin in its very
early days, before it has known the sweets of liberty.

In many cases I have kept a wild animal or bird for a few days to learn
something of its ways, possibly to make a drawing of its attitudes or
plumage, and then let it go, else nearly all my pets, except imported
creatures, have been reared from infancy, an invalid's life and
wakefulness making early-morning feeding of young fledglings less
difficult than it would have been in many cases, and often have painful
hours been made bearable and pleasant by the interest arising from
careful observation of the habits and ways of some new pet animal or

I have always strongly maintained that the love of animated nature
should be fostered far more than it usually is, and especially in the
minds of the young; and that, in fact, we lose an immense amount of
enjoyment by passing through life as so many do without a spark of
interest in the marvellous world of nature, that book whose pages are
ever lying open before us.

The beauties of the country might as well have been left uncreated for
all the interest that thousands take in them. Not only town dwellers,
who might be excused for their ignorance, but those who live in the
midst of fields and woods, often know so little about the curious
creatures in fur and feathers that exist around them that they are
surprised when told the simplest facts about these, their near

One reason may be, that it is now so much the fashion to spend the year
in various places, and those always moving about have neither the time
nor opportunity to cultivate the little undergrowths of quiet pleasures
which spring out of a settled home in the country, with its well-tended
garden and farmyard, greenhouses, stable, and fields--the horses and
cattle, petted and kindly cared for from their birth, dogs and poultry,
and all kinds of special favourites.

There is a healthy, happy tone about such a life, and where it exists
and is rightly maintained, good influence is, or ought to be, felt in
and around the home. Almost all children have a natural love of living
creatures, and if they are told interesting facts about them they soon
become ardent naturalists. I well remember that in my childhood I had a
great dread of toads and frogs, and a relative, to whom I owe much for
having directed my mind into the love of animated nature, took up a frog
in her hand and made me look at the beautiful gold circle round its
eyes, its curious webbed feet, its leaping power arising from the long
hind legs; she told me also of its wonderful tongue, so long and
flexible that it folded back in its mouth, and that the frog would sit
at the edge of an ant-hill and throwing out the tongue with its sticky
point, would pick off the ants one by one as they came out. When I
learnt all this, I began to watch such a curious reptile; my fears
vanished, and like Kingsley's little daughter, who had been wisely led
to care for all living things and came running to show her father a
"dear delightful worm" she had found! so I, too, have been led all
through my life to regard every created thing, great or small,
attractive or otherwise, as an object well worth the most reverent

Perhaps I ought to explain that I have described methods of taming,
feeding, and housing one's pets with extreme minuteness in order to help
those of my readers who may be very fond of live creatures, and yet from
lack of opportunity may have gained no knowledge of their mode of life,
and what is required to keep them happily in health and vigour. I have
had to learn by experience that attention to very small details is the
road to success in keeping pets as well as in other things, and the
desire to pass on that experience must be my excuse to more scientific
readers for seeming triviality.

Many admirable books have been written by those well qualified to impart
their knowledge in every branch of Natural History, and the more such
books are read the better, but the following pages simply contain the
life histories of my pets and what I personally have observed about
them. I shall be glad indeed if they supply any useful information, or
lead others to the more careful study of the common every-day things
around them with a view to more kindness being shown to all living
creatures, and tender consideration for them. I trust I may feel that
this little book will then have attained its purpose. May it especially
tend to lead the young to see how this beautiful world is full of
wonders of every kind, full of evidences of the Great Creator's wisdom
and skill in adapting each created thing to its special purpose, and
from the whole realm of nature may they be taught lessons in parables,
and their hearts be led upward to God Himself, who made all things to
reflect His own perfection and glory.

    "Gem, flower, and fish, the bird, the brute,
       Of every kind occult or known
    (Each exquisitely form'd to suit
       Its humble lot, and that alone),
    Through ocean, earth, and air fulfil
    Unconsciously their Maker's will."

                                  ELIZA BRIGHTWEN.




The most delightful of all pets are the birds one has taken the pains to
rear from the nest; they never miss the freedom of outdoor life, they
hardly know what fear is, they become devotedly attached to the one who
feeds and educates them, and all their winsome ways seem developed by
the love and care which is given to them.

I strongly deprecate a whole nest being taken; one would not willingly
give the happy little parent birds the distress of finding an empty
home. After all their trouble in building, laying, sitting, and
hatching, surely they deserve the reward of bringing up their little

Too often when boys thus take a nest they simply let the young birds
starve to death from ignorance as to their proper food and not rising
early enough to feed them.

It is a different matter if, out of a family of six, one takes two to
bring up by hand--the labour of the old birds is lightened, and four
fledglings will sufficiently reward their toil.

The birds should be taken before they are really feathered, just when
the young quills begin to show, as at that stage they will not notice
the change in their diet and manner of feeding. They need to be
carefully protected from cold, kept at first in a covered basket in
flannel, and if the weather is cold they should be near a fire, as they
miss the warmth of the mother bird, especially at night.

I confess it involves a good deal of trouble to undertake the care of
these helpless little creatures. They should be fed every half-hour,
from four in the morning until late in the evening, and that for many
weeks until they are able to feed themselves.

The kind of food varies according to the bird we desire to bring up, and
it requires care to make sure that it is not too dry or too moist, and
that it has not become sour, or it will soon prove fatal, for young
birds have not the sense of older ones--they take blindly whatever is
given them.


[Illustration: STARLINGS.]


Few people would think a cat could possibly be a tender nurse to young
birds! but such was really the case with a very interesting bird I
possessed some years ago.

A young starling was brought up from the nest by the kind care of our
cook and the cat! Both were equally sympathetic, and pitied the little
unfledged creature, who was by some accident left motherless in his
early youth. Cook used to get up at some unheard-of hour in the morning
to feed her clamorous pet, and then would bring him down with her at
breakfast-time and consign him to pussy's care; she, receiving him with
a gentle purr of delight, would let him nestle into her soft fur for

As Dick became feathered, he was allowed the run of the house and
garden, and used to spend an hour or so on the lawn, digging his beak
into the turf, seeking for worms and grubs, and when tired he would fly
in at the open window and career about until he could perch on my
shoulder, or go in search of his two foster-mothers in the kitchen.

His education was carried on with such success that he could soon speak
a few words very clearly. Strangers used to be rather startled by a
weird-looking bird flying in from the garden, and saying, "Beauty dear,
puss, puss, miaow!" But it was still more strange to see Dick sitting on
the cat's back and addressing his endearments to her in the above words.
Pussy would allow him to investigate her fur with exemplary patience,
only objecting to his inquisitive beak being applied to her eyelids to
prize them open when she was enjoying her afternoon nap. Dick's love of
water led him to bathe in most inconvenient places. One morning, when I
returned to the dining-room after a few minutes' absence, I found him
taking headers into a glass filter and scattering the contents on the
sideboard. After dinner, too, he would dive into the finger-glasses with
the same intention, and when hindered in that design would visit the
dessert dishes in succession, stopping with an emphatic "Beauty dear!"
at the sight of some coveted dainty, to which he would forthwith help
himself liberally.

In summer Dick had to resist considerable temptation from wild birds of
his own kind, who evidently made matrimonial overtures to him, but
though he "camped out" for a few nights now and then, he never seemed to
find a mate to his mind, and elected to remain a bachelor and enjoy our
society instead of that of his own kith and kin.

Dick was certainly a pattern of industrious activity, never still for
two minutes. He seemed haunted by the idea that caterpillars and grubs
existed all over the house, and his search for them was carried on under
all possible circumstances--every plait of one's dress, every
button-hole, would be inquired into by his prying little beak in case
some choice morsel might chance to be lurking there. Dick lived for a
few happy years, and then his bathing propensities most unhappily led to
his untimely death. One severely cold day in winter he was missed and
searched for everywhere, and after some hours his poor little body was
found stiff and cold in a water-tank in the stable-yard, where the ice
had been broken. He had as usual plunged in for a bath, and we can only
suppose the intense cold had caused an attack of cramp, so that he could
not get out again, and thus was drowned. Many tears were shed for the
loss of the cheery little bird, who seemed like a bright ubiquitous
sunbeam about the house, and our only consolation was the thought that,
as far as we knew, he had never had a sorrow in his life, and we can
only hope that if there are "happy hunting-grounds" for birds our Dick
may be there, bright and happy still.

[Illustration: FLYING STARLINGS]


On a wet stormy day in May a young unfledged bird was blown out of its
nest and was picked up in a paved yard where, somehow, it had fallen

There he was found by my kind-hearted butler, who appeared with the
little shivering thing in his hand to see if I would adopt it. The
butler pleaded for it, and it squawked its own petition piteously
enough, but I was far from strong, and I knew at what very early hours
these young feathered people required to be fed. I therefore felt I
ought hardly to give up the time which sometimes brought me the precious
boon of sleep after a wakeful night. Very reluctantly I refused the
gift, and felt wretchedly hard-hearted in doing so. I will confide to my
readers that in my secret heart I thought the poor orphan was a
blackbird or thrush, and they are birds I feel ought never to be caged;
they pine and look so sadly longing for liberty; even their song has a
minor key of plaintiveness when it comes through prison bars, and this
feeling helped my decision.

A few days after I heard that the birdie was adopted in the pantry, and
was being fed "in the intervals of business." When a few days later I
was definitely informed that the birdie waif was a starling, then I
confess I did begin to long for another little friend such as my former
"Dick" had been, and it ended in my receiving Richard the Second, as we
called him for distinction, into my own care and keeping, and month
after month I was his much-enduring mother. Most fledglings are much the
same at first; whenever I came in sight the gaping beak was ever ready
for food, and the capacity for receiving it was wonderful. Richard grew
very fast; little quills appeared and opened out into feathers; his
walking powers increased till he could make a tottering run upon the
carpet; and then he began to object to his basket and would have a perch
like a grown-up bird, practised going to sleep on one leg, which for a
long time was a downright failure and ended in constant tumbles.

He was always out of his cage whilst I was dressing, and was full of fun
and play, scheming to get his bath before I did, and running off with
anything he could carry. When he was about two months old I had to go to
Buxton for a month's visit and decided that I could not leave Richard
behind, as he needed constant feeding with little pieces of raw meat and
was just old enough to miss my training and care. He was therefore to
make his first start as a traveller, in a small cage, papered round the
sides, the top being left open for light and air. He was wonderfully
brave and good, very observant of everything, and if scared a word from
me would reassure him, until at last even an express train dashing past
did not make him start. It was very amusing to see the attention
bestowed upon him at the various stations where we had to get out. A
little crowd would gather round and stare at such a self-possessed small
bird. I was asked "if it was a very rare bird?" It seemed almost absurd
to have to reply, "No, only a common starling;" but people are so
accustomed to see a caged pet flutter in terror at its unusual
surroundings, that my kingly Richard rather puzzled his admirers.

When we began life in our apartments, one important consideration in the
day's proceedings was the starling's food. There was no home larder to
fall back upon, so a daily portion of tender rump-steak had to be
obtained, to the great amusement of the butcher with whom we dealt for
our own joints.

About this time the plain grey plumage began to be varied by two patches
of brilliant little purple feathers, tipped with greyish-white, which
appeared on each side of his breast. Some began to peep out of his back
and head. He moulted his tail, and had rich, dark feathers all over, in
time, till he arrived at being what he was often called, "a perfect
beauty"--glossy and brilliant, bronze gold and purple, with reflets of
rich green, and little specks of greyish-white all over his breast; this
richness of colour, combined with his beautiful sleek shape, made
Richard a very attractive bird.

When we returned from Buxton, I was so confident of the bird's tameness
I used to carry him in my hand out to the tulip tree, and there I often
sat and read, while Richard would pry into the moss and the bark of the
tree, searching for insects, and though he could fly well by this time,
he did not try to do so, but seemed content to keep near me.

One morning I heard his first articulate word, "Beauty," spoken so
clearly it quite startled me. I had been diligently teaching him, by
constant repetition, for many weeks, and by degrees he gained the power
of speaking one word after another, till at last he was able to say,
"Little beauty," "'Ow de doo?" "Pretty, pretty," "Beauty, dear," "Puss,
puss," "Miaow," and imitated kissing exactly. All this was intermingled
with his native whistle and sundry inarticulate sounds, intended, I
suppose, to result in words and sentences some day. Whilst talking and
singing, his head was held very upright, and his wings flapped
incessantly against his sides, after the manner of the wild birds.

Nothing stirred my indignation more keenly than the question so often
asked, "Have you had your starling's tongue slit to make him talk so
well?" I beg emphatically to entreat all my readers to do their utmost
to put an end to this cruel and perfectly useless custom. My bird's
talking powers were remarkable, but they were the result of his
intelligence being drawn out and cultivated by constant, loving care,
attention to his little wants, and being talked to and played with, and
made into a little feathered friend of the family.

Now must be told an episode which cost me no little heartache. Richard
was out in my room one morning as usual, when the room door happening to
be open, away he flew into the next room, and out at an open window into
the garden. I saw him alight on a tree, but by the time I could reach
the garden he had gone. I saw a group of starlings in a beech tree near
by, and another set were chattering on the house roof, but there was no
telling if my Richard was one of them. I called till I was tired, and
continued to do so at intervals all day, but no wanderer appeared. His
cage had been put on the lawn, but to no purpose. I feared I should
never see my pet again, because I supposed he might be lured by the wild
birds till he got out of hearing of any familiar voice. I confess it was
hard to think of my bright young birdie starving under some hedge, for I
felt sure he was too much of a gentleman from his artificial bringing-up
to be able to earn his own living. All I could do was to resolve to be
up very early next day, and call again and again, on the chance of his
being within hearing. Before six o'clock next morning I was seeking the
truant. Plenty of wild birds were about, the bright sun glancing on
their sleek coats--all looking so like my pet it was impossible to
distinguish him. I little knew that he was then starving and miserable
under a bush in the upper part of the garden. I continued calling and
seeking him until breakfast-time, and fast losing all hope of ever
seeing him again. About eleven o'clock I was returning from the kitchen
garden, with my hands full of fruit and flowers, when, to my intense
delight, poor little Richard came slowly out from under a laurel, and
stood in the path before me, as veritable a type of a birdish prodigal
son as could well be imagined.

His feathers were ruffled, his wings drooping, his whole aspect
irresistibly reminded one of the Jackdaw of Rheims; and the way he
sidled up to me, with half-closed eyes and drooping head, was one of the
most pathetic things I ever experienced. He so plainly said, "I'm very
sorry--hope you'll forgive me; won't do it again"; and certainly his
mute appeal was not in vain, for down went my fruit and flowers, and
with loving words I took up my lost darling, and cooed over him all
sorts of affectionate rubbish until we reached home and he was restored
to his cage. There his one desire was water. Poor fellow! he was nearly
famished. I think another hour would have seen his end. There is no
water in the garden, except in the stone vase in front of the
dining-room window, and he would not have known how to find that, so he
must have been twenty-eight hours without drinking anything beyond a
possible drop of dew now and then. I had to feed him with great care--a
little food, and very often, until he recovered a measure of strength.
He was very drooping all day, and I quite feared he might not live after
all, he was so nearly starved to death. After some days, however,
"Richard was himself again," and as bright and amusing as ever. I have
not related the amusing characteristics of his "daily tub." His love of
water was a perfect passion, and water he would have. At first he was
treated to a large glass dish on the matting in the dining-room, but he
sent up such a perfect fountain of spray over curtains, couch, and
chairs, that the housemaid voted "that bird" a nuisance, and a better
plan was devised. In the conservatory is a pool of water, with rock-work
and ferns at the back, and there is a central tube where a fountain can
be turned on. I made a small island of green moss a little above the
water, and, placing Richard upon it, I turned the fountain on to play a
delicate shower of spray over him. He was perfectly enchanted, and
fluttered, turned about, and frisked, like a bird possessed. As he
became accustomed to it, I began to throw handfuls of water over him,
and that he did enjoy. He would cower down, and lie with his wings
expanded and beak open, receiving charge after charge of water till
quite out of breath; then he would run a few paces away on his island
till he recovered himself, and then would go back and place himself
ready for a renewed douche. I never saw such a plucky bird. If I had
been trying to drown him I could not have done more, for sometimes he
was knocked backwards into the pool; but no matter, he was up again, and
all ready in a minute. He generally tired me out, and when I turned off
the fountain, he would either fly or run after me into the drawing-room
and go into his cage, which always stood there; and there followed a
very careful toilette--a general oiling and pluming and fluttering,
until his bonnie little feathers were all in good order; and then would
follow endless chatter, and he would inform the world that he was a
"little beauty," "pretty little dear," &c.

Starlings seem to have an abundant supply of natural oil in the gland
where it is stored, for his feathers were never really much wetted by
his tremendous baths, and he was a slippery fellow to hold, his plumage
was so glossy and sleek.

A word must be said about his temper; it was decidedly not meek by any
means, and his will was strong, so the least thing would bring a shower
of pecks in token of disapproval, and if scolded his attitude was most
absurd; he would draw himself up to a wonderful height, set up his crest
feathers, and stand ready to meet all comers, like a little fighting
cock; and when a finger was pointed at him he would scold and peck, and
flap with his wings with the utmost fury; and yet if a kind word was
said all his wrath vanished, and he would come on your hand and prize
your fingers apart, looking for grubs as usual. It seemed strange that
his habit of thus searching for insects everywhere should continue,
though he was never by any chance rewarded by finding one. A starling's
range of ideas may be summed up in the word "Grubs." It was always
immensely amusing to strangers to see Richard, when out in the room,
searching with his inquisitive beak in the most hopeless places with a
cheerful happy activity, as if he always felt sure that long-looked-for
grub, for which he had searched all the years of his life, must be close
by, round the corners somewhere, under the penwiper, behind that book,
amongst these coloured silks; and if interfered with he would give a
peck and a chirp, as much as to say, "Do let me alone, I'm busy; I've
got my living to get, and grubs seem scarce." Richard was the only bird
I have ever had who learnt the nature of windows, he never flew against
them; he had one or two severe concussions, and being a very sensible
bird he "concluded" he wouldn't do it again; he would fly backwards and
forwards in the drawing-room in swift flight, but I never feared either
the windows or the fire, as he avoided both.

Several times Master Richard was found flying about in the drawing-room,
and yet no one had let him out; we could only suppose that by some
mischance the door must have been left open; yet we all felt morally
certain it had been fastened properly, and there was much puzzlement
about the matter.

However, the mystery was soon solved by my watching Richard's
proceedings. I heard a prolonged hammering and found he was at work upon
the hasp of his cage door. He managed to raise it up higher and higher,
till by a well-directed peck he sent it clear out of the loop of wire
which held it in its place. Still the door was shut, and it required a
good many more pecks to force it open, but he succeeded in time, and out
he flew--delighted to find himself entirely master of the situation.
Then I watched with much amusement his deliberate survey of the room.

I was ill at the time, and he first flew to greet me and talk a little;
he hopped upon my hand, and holding firmly on my forefinger he went
through his usual morning toilette, first an application to his oil
gland, then he touched up all his plumage, drew out his wing and tail
feathers, fluttered himself into shape, and when quite in order he began
to examine the contents of my breakfast tray; took a little sugar,
looked to see if there were any grubs under the tray cloth, peered into
the cream jug, decided that he didn't like the salt, gave me two or
three hard pecks to express his profound affection, and then went off on
a voyage of discovery, _autour de ma chambre_. He squeezed himself
between every ornament on the mantlepiece, flew to the drawers, and
found there some grapes which were very much to his taste; so he was
busy for some time helping himself. He visited every piece of furniture,
threw down all the little items that he could lift, and, as I was
reading, I did not particularly notice what he was about, until he came
on a small table near my bed, and then I heard a suspicious noise, and
turned to find the indefatigable bird with his beak in my ink bottle,
and the sheet already plentifully bespattered with black splashes and
little streams of ink trickling over the table cover; such misplaced
zeal was not to be borne, so Richard had to be caged. When he was seven
months old, his beak began to turn from black to yellow. The colour
began to show first at the base of the beak, and it went on gradually,
until in a month's time it was nearly all yellow, though it was black at
the tip for some time longer. As time went on, Richard's talking powers
increased; he quite upset any grave conversation that might be going on;
his voice dropped at times to a sort of stage whisper, as if he wished
to convey some profound secrets. "Oh, you little beauty, pretty little
dear, 'ow de doo?" used to mingle most absurdly with the conversation of
his elders and betters. When he could not have his bath in the
conservatory, I used still to give him his glass dish, which we used
together, for he would never enjoy his ablutions without me, and I
became considerably sprinkled in the process. His delight was to have a
water fight, pecking at my fingers, scolding, as if in a great rage,
using his claws, and all the while calling me "Dear little Dicky;
beauty; pretty little dear," &c., for he had no harder words to scold
with; certainly the effect was most comical. When he supposed he had
gained the victory, he would settle down to a regular bathe, fluttering
and taking headers until he was dripping wet and delightfully happy, and
the next thing would be to perch on one's chair, and shake a regular
shower of drops over one's books or work.

Richard was not, as a rule, at all frightened by noises, or by being
carried about in his cage in strange places, but early one morning, when
he was out in my room, he flew away from the window with a piercing
scream of terror, and hid himself quite in the dark, behind my pillow,
shivering with fright, as if he felt his last hour had come. We found
out, when this had occurred several times, that his _bête noire_ was a
great heron, which used occasionally to leave the lake, and circle round
the house, high up in the air. It could only have been by pure instinct
that Richard was inspired with such terror whenever he saw the great
winged bird, and it showed that artificial training, though it develops
additional powers and habits, in no way interferes with natural

The starling has a remarkably active brain; its quickness of movement,
swift flight, and never-tiring activity, all show the working of its
inner mind; but more than that, it seems to be capable of something akin
to reasoning. Richard sometimes dropped a piece of meat on his sanded
floor, and I have often seen him take it up and well rinse it in his
water, till the sand was cleansed away, and then he would swallow it;
and a dry piece of meat he would moisten in the same way. Now this
involved a good deal of mental intuition, and I often wondered whether
he found out that water would remove the sand by accident, or by a
process of thought; in either case, it showed cleverness and
adaptability. So also with the processes of opening the door of his
cage. He had first to prize up the latch with his beak to a certain
height, and then by sudden sharp pecks send it clear of the hasp; then
descend to the floor, and by straight pecks send the door open. If he
could not get the door to open thus, he understood at once that the
latch was not clear of the hasp, so he went back to his perch and pecked
at it until he saw it fall down, and then he knew all was right.

When the second summer of Richard's life came round, some young
starlings were obtained, as we much wished to rear a hen as a mate for
Richard in the following year. These birds were placed in a cage in the
same room with him, as we hoped he would prove their tutor, and save us
the trouble of teaching them. But no; Richard evidently felt profoundly
jealous of these intruders, and day after day remained perfectly dumb
and out of temper. This went on for a week, and then fearing he might
lose his talking powers, I was obliged to remove them and pay special
attention to him, to soothe his ruffled feelings. He did not begin to
talk until more than a week had passed by, evidently resolving to mark
in this way his extreme displeasure at others being admitted to share
our friendship--a curious instance of innate jealousy in a bird's mind.

For more than five years Richard was a source of constant pleasure and
amusement, and was so much a part of my home-life that when anything
unusual happened, in the way of a garden-party or a change in daily
events from any cause, one's first thought was to provide for his
comfort being undisturbed. I confess I dreaded the thought of his
growing old, and could not bear to look on to the time when I must learn
to do without his sweet, cheering little voice and pleasant
companionship. Alas! that time has come, and I must now tell how the
little life was quenched.

In a room to which he had access, there was a small aquarium half-full
of water thickly covered with pond-weed. I had left Richard to have his
usual bath whilst I went down to breakfast, and when I returned I could
nowhere find my pet. His usual bath was unused; I called and searched,
and at last in the adjoining room I saw the little motionless body
floating in the aquarium. The temptation had been too strong; Richard
thought to have a lovely bathe, had flown down into the water, no doubt
his claws were hopelessly entangled in the weed and thus, as was the
case with my former starling Dick, the intense love of bathing led to a
fatal end.

The sorrow one feels for the loss of a pet so interwoven with one's life
is very real; many may smile at it and call it weakness, but true lovers
of animals and birds will know what a blank is felt and how intensely I
shall ever regret the untimely fate of my much-loved little Richard.



One day in early summer I found on a gravel walk a poor little unfledged
birdie, sitting calmly looking up into the air, as if he hoped that some
help would come to him, some pitying hand and heart have compassion upon
his desolate condition.

I carried him indoors, and "mothered" the little helpless thing as well
as I could, by feeding him with hard-boiled yolk of egg mixed with brown
bread and water. Being a hard-billed bird, I supposed that would be
suitable food, and certainly he throve upon it. The little blue quills
began to tell of coming feathers, his vigorous chirpings betokened
plenty of vocal power, and in due time he grew into a young greenfinch
of the most irrepressible and enterprising character. His lovely hues of
green and yellow led to the name of Verdant being bestowed upon him, and
his early experiences made it a somewhat suitable name.

Poor little man! he had no parents to instruct him, and he consequently
got into all manner of scrapes. He only learnt the nature of windows and
looking-glasses by bitter experience; flying against them with great
force, he was often taken up for dead; but his solid little skull
resisted all these concussions, and by pouring cold water upon his head
and some down his throat, he always managed to recover. He once
overbalanced into a bath, and was nearly drowned; he fell behind a
wardrobe, and was nearly suffocated; later on he almost squeezed himself
to death between the bars of his cage--in fact, he had endless escapes
of various kinds. He was very amusing in his early youth. Whilst I was
dressing he would delight in picking up my scissors, pins, buttonhook,
and anything else he could lift, and would carry them to the edge of the
dressing-table and throw them down, turning his sly little head to see
where they had fallen. He delighted in mischief, and was ever on the
watch to carry off or misplace things; and yet he was a winning little
pet, fearless in his confidence, perching on one's head or shoulder, and
hindering all dressing operations by calmly placing his little body in
the way, regardless of consequences.

He lived in his cage during the day, and next to him, on the same table,
lived a bullfinch--a very handsome bird, but heavy and lethargic to a
degree; he sang exquisitely, and for that gift I suppose Verdant admired
him, for his delight was to be as near him as possible. Perched on the
top of his cage, he gazed down at his friend, and in great measure
imitated his singing. Bully, on the contrary, hated Verdant, and would
have nothing to do with him. The two characters were a great source of
amusement to us.

Verdant was always let out at meal-times to fly about and enjoy his
liberty, and I am sorry to say he was always on the look-out for any
mischief that might be possible. Bully's water-jar was fastened outside
by a small pin; this Verdant discovered was movable, and before long we
were startled by the fall of the said water-jar, the greenfinch having
pulled out the pin; he then began upon the seed-box, and that also fell,
to his great delight; he was then talked to and scolded, and up went his
pretty yellow wings with angry flappings, and his open beak scolded back
again in the most hardened manner. He was greatly interested in watching
the numerous birds frequenting a basket filled with fat which hung
outside the window, and he would swing backwards and forwards on the
tassel of the blind, chirping to the outsiders, and watching all their
little squabbles. Sunflower seeds were his greatest dainty; he would
perch upon the hand to receive one, or if it were held between the lips
he would flutter and poise upon the wing to take it. A sort of swing
with a chain and movable wheel was provided, upon which Verdant soon
learned to perch and swing, whilst he amused himself by pecking at the
chain till he disengaged the sunflower seeds I had fixed in the links.
When he was more than a year old, and I thought he might be depended
upon, I tried the rather anxious experiment of letting him out of doors.
He soon became quietly happy, investigating the wonders of tree
branches, inquiring into the taste of leaves and all kind of novelties,
when two or three sparrows flew at him and scared him considerably. Away
he went, followed by the sparrows, and I began to repent my experiment,
and feared he might go beyond my ken and lose himself. He was out nearly
an hour, but at last he returned and went quietly into his cage. It
seemed strange that the wild birds should so soon discover that he was
not one of their clique, but I suppose Verdant revealed the secret by
looking frightened, and the others could not resist the fun of chasing
him. For more than a year and a half my birdie was a constant pleasure.
Whenever he entered the dining-room my first act was to open Verdant's
cage, when he would always fly to the bullfinch's cage and greet him
with a chirp, then look to see if his friend had any provender that he
could get at--a piece of lettuce between the bars, or a spray of millet
to which he could help himself; no matter that Bully remonstrated with
open beak, Verdant calmly feasted on stolen goods _con gusto_, and then
scouted around for any dainties on the carpet, where he sometimes found
a stray sunflower seed, always his greatest delight. After his summer
moulting he became wonderfully vigorous, and would fly round the room
with such velocity that I often felt afraid he might some day fly
against the plate-glass windows and injure himself.

That mournful day came at last! He had been out as usual at
breakfast-time, came on my finger for a seed, had his bath, and went on
the little swing for more seeds, and flew about with all his joyous life
and vigour. We had only left the room for a few moments, when, on
returning, the dear little bird lay dead beneath the window, against
which he had flown with such force as to break his neck and cause
instant death.

The sorrow of that moment will never be forgotten; indeed, I cannot even
now think of my little pet with undimmed eyes--he was a moment before so
full of life and beauty, so fearless, such a "sonsie" little fellow;
and then to hold the little golden green body in my hand and watch the
fast-glazing eye, and think that I should never again have my cheery
little friend to greet me and be glad at my coming, was one of those
sharp pangs that true lovers of nature alone can understand. From all
such I know I shall have sympathy in the tragic death of my much-loved
little Verdant.


[Illustration: WILD DUCK.]


WHEN our grass was being cut the mowers came upon a wild duck's nest
containing eight eggs; they were carried whilst still warm and placed
under a sitting hen; in a week's time she brought out eight fluffy
little ducklings, which were placed with her under a coop in the
farmyard. I paid them a visit the next day, but, alas! I saw four little
corpses lying about in the grass, the remaining four were chirping
piteously, and the hen was in despair at being unable to comfort her
uncanny children. Evidently their diet was in fault; I thought I would
take them in hand, and therefore had the coop brought round to the
garden, and placed under the drooping boughs of a deodar near the
drawing-room window, where I could watch over them.

I gave the wee birdies a pan of water, and placed in it some
finely-shred lettuce, with grits and brown bread crumbs, not forgetting
suitable food for the poor distracted hen. It was charming to hear the
little happy twitterings of the downy babes, how they gobbled and
sputtered and talked to each other over their repast, swimming to and
fro as if they had been ducks of mature age and experience, instead of
mere yellow fluffs of a day old; and, finally, they seemed to remember
they had a warm, comfortable mother somewhere, and sought refuge under
her kindly wings, where I left them exchanging confidences in little
drowsy chirps.

I found it needful to guard my little brood with fine wire-work, for
some carrion crows kept hovering near, and a weasel was constantly on
the watch to carry them off; but these enemies were successfully
baffled, and three of the ducks survived all dangers and grew to
beautiful maturity, the fourth having died in infancy from an accidental
peck from the hen. In rearing all wild creatures the great thing is to
study and imitate, as nearly as possible, their natural surroundings,
and especially their diet. Chopped lettuce and worms made a fair
substitute for their natural food, but the jubilation that went on when
a mass of water-weed, full of insects, water snails, &c., was brought
them, showed that they knew by instinct what suited them best. With
constant care and attention they grew very tame, and would eat out of
one's hand, and when let out of the coop would follow me to a certain
heap of dead leaves where worms abounded, and there, with the most
amusing eagerness, they pounced upon their wriggling prey, snatching the
worms out of each other's beak, and tumbling over one another in their
excitement, all the while making a special chirp of exceeding happiness.

They were named Tiny, Sir Francis Drake, and Luther--I fear the last
name had a covert allusion to the "Diet of Worms."

When the purple feathers began to show in their wings, and they
considered themselves quite too old to pay any allegiance to their
hen-mother, they began to absent themselves for some hours each
afternoon, and this, too, in a most secret fashion, for I could never
tell how they disappeared, but they returned in due time, walking
quietly in Indian file, and lay down in their coop. At last I traced
them to a pond a long distance off--it really seemed as if they had
scented the water, for they had to traverse a lawn and wood, go across a
drive, and through a hedge and field, and then the pond was in a hollow
where they could not possibly have seen it; but there I found my little
friends in high glee, darting over the surface of the water, splashing,
diving, sending up showers of spray from their wings, and going on as if
they were possessed. I called to them, and in a moment they quieted
down, and behaved exactly as children would have done when caught
tripping--they came out of the water and followed me, in the meekest and
most penitent manner, back to their home under the deodar.

These birds would stay the whole morning with me in perfect content if
they were allowed to nestle into a wool mat placed at the doorstep of
the French window leading out upon the lawn; there they would plume
themselves and sometimes preen each other, and I could watch the way in
which the feathers were drawn through the apparently awkward bill, yet I
suppose so suited for its various uses; anyway the feathers came out
from its manipulations as smooth and sleek as velvet, and when the
toilet was over the head found its rest behind the wing, and profound
sleep followed. Sometimes my friends would make a spring upon the sofa
by my side, I fear with a view to forthcoming worms, of which they well
knew I was the purveyor; and nothing could exceed the slyness of their
eyes as they looked up at me and mutely suggested an expedition to that
heap of leaves!

I must say I derived an immense amount of amusement from those ducks;
they had such innate character of their own, quite unlike any other bird
I ever came across.

I had often looked forward to the time when they would take to their
wings and come down upon the lawn from aerial heights with a grand fuss
and fluttering of wings, but that desire they never gratified. The day
came at last when I saw them circling high up in the air, so high that
they were mere specks in the sky, but where they alighted I never could
find out. They always re-appeared, walking solemnly (the little
hypocrites!) one after the other, as if they had been doing nothing in
particular, and were now coming in exemplary fashion to be fed. I
believe it is very rarely the case that wild ducks, however they may
appear domesticated, will remain all the year through with those who
have reared them, and really take their place in the poultry-yard with
the other inmates. Still it has been known, and I will subjoin an
account given me by a friend, which goes to prove that such a state of
things is possible. My friend gave me in substance the following account
of her wild ducks:--

"There are different kinds of wild ducks; these are mallards. The first
we had were hatched by hens. They feed with the other ducks, but show a
decided preference for Indian corn. They are very troublesome about
laying, often leaving their eggs exposed, where the crows find them and
carry them off. We gather most of them we find, to take care of them
(though the ducks lay in different places each time their nest is
robbed) until there are preparations for sitting, when, if we have been
fortunate enough to discover the fact, we add a number of the previously
gathered eggs.

"The sitting duck comes for food every two or three days, and that is
all we see of her for some time, until at length she may be seen coming
through the meadow, the half-grown mowing grass behind her trembling and
waving in an unusual manner: by-and-by, the road or shorter grass is
reached, when it is found the proud mother is bringing home her little
fluffy family of perhaps eight to eleven darkie ducklings--quick,
active, tiny things that refuse at first all friendly advances, but
becoming accustomed to their surroundings soon behave much in the manner
of their elders. There are dreadful fights on the pond when two or more
little families arrive about the same time, the mother of one flock
tyrannizing over the members of another, and thus causing many deaths.
They often fly away, but they always come back again. All through the
winter they go under cover with the other ducks, but when spring comes
they are not to be found at night; nevertheless they are sure to be
ready for breakfast next morning."

I confess I always had a faint hope that my ducks might stay with me, or
at any rate return from time to time, but their wild nature prevailed,
and they finally left; only Luther reappeared alone one day and took his
last "diet" from my hand; but there was a look in his pretty blue eye
which said plainly, "You will never see me again," and he had his final
caress and departed "to fresh woods and pastures new."




My Jay was taken from the parent nest, built on the stem of an
ivy-covered tree which had been blown down in the winter. A young jay is
a curious-looking creature: the exquisite blue wing feathers begin to
show before the others are more than quills; the eyes are large and
bright blue, and when the great beak opens it shows a large throat of
deepest carmine, so that it possesses the beauty of colour from its
earliest days, and when full grown and in fine plumage it is one of the
handsomest of our birds. In its babyhood my jay was much like other
young things of his kind, always clamouring for food, and seeming to
care for little else, but as he grew up he attached himself to me with a
wonderful strength of affection which entirely reversed this order of
things, for whenever I came into the room he was restless and unhappy
until I came near enough for him to feed me, he would look carefully
into his food-trough, and at last select what he thought the most
tempting morsel, and then put it through the bars of his cage into my
mouth. He would sometimes feed other people, but as a rule he disliked
strangers, and I have known him even take water in his beak and squirt
it at those who displeased him. On the whole, a jay is not a very
desirable pet; he is restless in a cage, and too large to be quite
convenient when loose in a room; again, his great timidity is a
drawback--the least noise, the sight of a cat or dog, puts him in a
nervous fright, and he flutters about with anxious notes of alarm. He
is seen to best advantage hopping about on a lawn, where he may be
attracted by acorns being strewn in winter and spring. It is a pity that
his marauding habits in game preserves lead to his being so ruthlessly
shot by gamekeepers till it is almost a rare sight to see the handsome
bird and hear his note of alarm in the woods. One morning I saw a jay on
the lawn near the house, and rather wondering as to what he was seeking,
in a minute or two I saw him pounce upon a young half-fledged bird and
carry it off in his beak, a helpless little baby wing fluttering in the
air as he flew away. Their sight is wonderfully keen, and their cunning
is amusing to watch as they steal by careful steps nearer and nearer to
their prey, and at last by a sudden dart secure it and make off in rapid

[Illustration: THE JAY.]

After a year or two my poor jay met with a very sad fate. A garden-party
was to take place, and knowing the jay's terror of any unusual noise or
upstir, I carried his cage to a quiet room where I hoped he would be
quite happy and hear nothing.

I, however, did not happen to notice that, later on, the band had
established their quarters near this room, and I suppose the unwonted
sounds drove the poor bird into a wild state of terror, and that in his
flutterings he had caught his leg in the bars of the cage; anyway, I
went up about the middle of the party to see how my pet was faring, when
I found him in utter misery clinging to the bars, his thigh dislocated
and his leg hopelessly broken. It was a mournful duty to carry him away
to merciful hands that would end his torture by an instant death. For
many a day I missed that bright, handsome birdie who had always a
welcome for me and the offer of such hospitality as his cage afforded.


[Illustration: A YOUNG CUCKOO.]



Looking out of my window before six o'clock one bright morning in early
summer, I chanced to see a large bird sitting quietly on the gravel
walk. Its feathers were ruffled as if it felt cold and miserable, and
its drooping head told a tale of unhappiness from some cause or other.
Whilst I was watching it, a little bird darted with all its force
against the larger one, and made it roll over on the path; it slowly
rose up again, but in another minute a bird from the other side flew
against it and again rolled it over. Such conduct could not be
tolerated, so, dressing quickly, I went out, and picking up the strange
bird I found it was a young cuckoo nearly starved to death, having, as I
supposed, lost its foster-parents. The bird was in beautiful plumage,
except down the front of its throat, where the repeated attacks of the
small birds in showing their usual enmity towards the cuckoo, had
stripped off the feathers. The poor bird was only skin and bone, nearly
dying from lack of food and persecution, and made no resistance when I
brought him in to see if I could act the part of foster-mother.
Finely-mixed raw meat and brown bread seemed to me the best substitute
for his insect diet--but he _was_ an awkward baby to feed--though
sinking for want of nourishment he would not open his great beak, and
every half-hour he had to be fed sorely against his will with many
flapping of his wings and other protests of his bird nature. He would
not stay quiet in any sort of cage, but when allowed to perch on the rim
of a large basket quite free, he remained happily enough by the hour
together. After a few days he grew into a vigorous, active bird, flying
round the room, and too wild to be retained with safety He was
therefore let loose, and soon flew quite out of sight. I should hope he
was quite able to support himself by his own exertions. I must say he
showed no gratitude for my benevolent succour in his time of need.




Since the love of animal and bird pets seems so universal, both amongst
rich and poor, it is well that the desire to keep creatures in captivity
should be wisely directed, and that young people especially should be
led to think of the things that are requisite to make their pets live
and prosper in some degree of happiness.

I have often been consulted by some sweet, impulsive child about its
"pet robin" or "dear little swallow," as to why it did not seem to eat
or feel happy? and have found the poor victims quietly starving to
death on a diet of oats, canary seed, or even green leaves, the infant
mind not feeling quite sure what the "pretty birdies" lived upon.

It is needless to say we might as well try to keep a bird on pebbles as
give hard grain to a soft-billed insect-eating bird; but this kind of
cruelty is constantly practised simply from ignorance. I would therefore
endeavour to give a few general rules for the guidance of those who have
a new pet of some kind, which they wish to domesticate and tame.

To begin with animals; suitable food, a comfortable home, means of
cleanliness, and exercise are essential to their health and comfort.
These four requisites are seldom fully attended to. Often a large dog is
kept in a back yard in London chained up week after week--kept alive, it
is true, by food and water, but without exercise, and with no means of
ridding himself of dirt and insects by a plunge now and then into a pond
or river. No wonder his piteous howls disturb the neighbours, and he is
spoken of as "that horrid dog!" as if it was his fault poor fellow! that
he feels miserable and uses his only language of complaint.

One would suggest, it is better not to keep such a dog in a confined
space in town, but if he is to be retained he should have one or two
daily scampers for exercise, the opportunity of bathing, if he is a
water-dog, plenty of fresh water, dog-biscuits, and a few bones twice a
day, and a clean house and straw for bedding.

I would call attention to the piece of solid brimstone so persistently
put into dogs' water pans. It is placed there with the best intention,
but is utterly useless, seeing it is a perfectly insoluble substance,
but a small teaspoonful of powdered brimstone mixed now and then with
the water would be lapped up when the animal drinks, and would tend to
keep his skin and coat in good condition.

Different animals need treating according to their nature and
requirements, and surely it is well to try and find out from some of the
many charming books on natural history all the information which is
needed to make the new pet happy in its captivity. It is both useless
and cruel to try to keep and tame newly caught, full-grown English
birds. After being used to their joyous life amongst tree branches, in
happy fellowship with others of their own kind, living on food of their
own selection, it is hardly likely they can be reconciled to the narrow
limits of a cage and the dreariness of a solitary life; it is far better
not to attempt keeping them, for what pleasure can there be in seeing
the incessant flutterings of a miserable little creature that we know is
breaking its heart in longings for liberty, and though it may linger a
while is sure to die at last of starvation and sorrow. No, the only way
to enjoy friendships with full-grown birds is to tame them by food and
kindness, till such a tie of love is formed that they will come into our
houses and give us their sweet company willingly.

No cruelty of any kind whatever should be tolerated for a moment in our
treatment of the tender dumb creatures our Heavenly Father has given us
to be a solace and joy during our life on earth.

The taming of pets requires a good many different qualities--much
patience, a very quiet manner, and a cheery way of talking to the little
creatures we desire to win into friendship with us; it is wonderful how
that prevents needless terrors.

There are no secrets that I am aware of in taming anything, but love and
gentleness. Directly a bird flutters, one must stop and speak kindly;
the human voice has wonderful power over all animated nature, and then
try to see what is the cause of alarm, and remove it if possible. In
entering a room where your pet is, always speak to it, and by the time
you have led it to give an answering chirp, the taming will go on
rapidly, because there is an understanding between you, and the little
lonely bird feels it has a friend, and takes you instead of its
feathered companions, and begins to delight in your company.

A person going silently to a cage and dragging out the bottom tray will
frighten any bird into flutterings of alarm, which effectually hinders
any taming going on; but approach gently, talking to the bird by name,
pull the tray quietly a little way, and then stop and speak, and so draw
it out by degrees and the thing is done, and no fright experienced. A
better way still is to have a second cage, and let birdie hop into that
while you clean the other, and then it is amusing to see the pleasure
and curiosity shown on his return when he finds fresh seed, pure water,
and some dainty green food supplied; the loud chirpings tell of great
delight and satisfaction, and the dreaded process is at last looked
forward to as a time of recreation. It is much best that one person only
should attend to the needs of a pet; indeed, I doubt if taming can ever
go on satisfactorily unless this rule is observed; a bird is perplexed
and scared if plans are changed, and, not knowing what is required of
him, he grows flurried, and the training of weeks past may be undone in
a single day.

Only those who have tried to educate birds can have any idea of the way
in which their little minds will respond to affectionate treatment shown
in a sensible way. They have a language of their own which we must set
ourselves to learn if we would be _en rapport_ with them. Their
different chirpings each mean something, and a little observation will
soon show what it is; for instance, my canary fairly shrieks when she
sees lettuce on the breakfast-table, and her grateful note of thanks
when it is bestowed upon her is of quite a different character. So also
is her tender little sound of rejoicing when I give her some broken
egg-shell; she seems to value it immensely, and chirps to me with a
great piece of it in her bill, quite regardless of good manners. I often
think with pain how much birds must suffer when hour after hour they
call and chirp and entreat for something they want, which they can see
and long for, and yet the dull-minded human beings they live with pay no
heed to them, food and water are given, but, in many cases, nothing more
all day long, not even a little chickweed or groundsel, or the
much-needed egg-shell to supply strength to their little bones. A bright
word or two for birdie now and then, and a few friendly chirps as we
enter the room, would do much to cheer the little prisoner's life, and
would soon bring a charming response in fluttering wings and evident
pleasure at our return.

This state of things cannot be attained in a day or a month; it is only
by persistent kindness, exercised patiently, until the little heart is
won to a perfect trust in you as a true friend.

Birds can easily be trained to come out for their daily bath, and then
go back to their cage of their own accord, but it needs patience at
first. The bird must never be caught by the hand or driven about, but if
the cage is put on the floor with some nice food in it, and the bird is
called and gently guided to it, though it may take an hour to do it the
first time, it will at last hop in, and then the door may be very
quietly shut. Next time he will know what you wish and will be much more
amenable, until at last it will be the regular thing to go home when the
bath is over.

I would condemn the practice of making birds draw up their own water;
they are never free to satisfy their thirst without toilsome effort, and
are much more liable to accident when chained to an open board than when
kept in a cage. It is also sad to know that dozens of birds are starved
to death or die of thirst whilst being taught this trick--frequently but
one out of many is found to have the aptitude to learn it.

It is a great help if some specially favourite food can be discovered by
which the pet creature can be rewarded for good conduct. I _never_ take
away food or water to induce obedience by privation--a practice which I
fear is often resorted to in training creatures for public
exhibition--but an additional dainty I much enjoy to bestow, as a means
of winning what is at first, it is true, merely cupboard love, but it
soon grows into something far deeper, a lifelong friendship, quite apart
from the food question.

Cleanliness is a _very_ important item in a bird's happiness. Whilst
kept in a cage with but little sand and an outside water-glass which
affords no means of washing its feathers, a bird is apt to become
infested with insects; it is tormented by them day and night, and having
no means of ridding itself of them, it grows thin and mopy, and at last
dies a miserable death.

There should be a bath supplied daily, suited to the size of the bird,
and so planned that the cage itself may not get wet, else it may give
the bird cramp to have to sit on a damp perch or floor. When its
feathers are dry, some insect powder may be carefully dusted under the
bird's wings, at the back of his head, where parasites are especially
apt to congregate, and all over the body, only taking care that the
powder may not get into the bird's eyes. The cage itself should be well
washed with carbolic soap and water, all the corners scrubbed with a
small brush; and, when dry, it might be sponged with carbolic lotion
over the wire-work to kill any insects which may yet remain.




Amongst all the different birds which are kept in cages, either for
their beauty or song, there is one which to my mind far excels all
others, not only in its vocal powers, which are remarkable, but for its
very unusual intelligence. I refer to the Virginian nightingale. It is a
handsome, crimson plumaged bird, rather smaller than a starling, not
unfrequently seen in bird-sellers' collections, but seen there to the
worst possible advantage, for, being extremely shy and sensitive, and
taking keen notice of everything around, the slightest voice or movement
in the shop will make it flutter against the bars of its cage in an
agony of fright, and it therefore looks a most unlikely bird to become
an interesting pet; but I will try to show what may be done by gentle
kindness to overcome this natural timidity. This will be seen in the
history of Birdie, my first Virginian nightingale, my daily companion
for fourteen years.

He had belonged to a relative, and there was no way of tracing the age
of the bird when first obtained; I can therefore only speak of those
years in which he was in my possession. Birdie had been accustomed to
live in a cage on a high shelf in the kitchen, well cared for, no doubt,
but, untamed and unnoticed, he led a lonely life, and was one of the
wildest birds I ever met with. For many months his flutterings, when any
one came near his cage, could not be calmed, but by always speaking to
him when entering the room, and if possible giving him a few hemp-seeds
or any little dainty, he grew to endure one's presence; then, later on,
he would begin to greet one with a little clicking note, though still
retreating to the furthest corner of the cage, and a year or two passed
by before he would take anything out of my hand, but this was attained
by offering him his one irresistible temptation, _i.e._, a lively
spider; this he would seize and hold in his beak while he hopped about
the cage, clicking loudly with delight. After a time I began to let him
out for an hour or two, first releasing him when he was moulting and
could not fly very easily. He learned to go back to his cage of his own
accord, and was rewarded by always finding some favourite morsel there.
Thus, by slow degrees, he lost all fear, and attached himself to me with
a strength of affection that expressed itself in many endearing little
ways. When called by name he would always answer with a special chirp
and look up expectantly, either to receive something or to be let out.
His song was very similar to the English nightingale, extremely liquid
and melodious, with the same "jug-jug," but more powerful and sustained.
On my return to the room after a short absence he would greet me with
delight, fluttering his outspread wings and singing his sweetest song,
looking intently at me, swaying his head from side to side, and whilst
this ecstasy of song lasted he would even refuse to notice his most
favourite food, as if he must express his joy before appetite could be
gratified. After a few years he seemed to adopt me as a kind of mate!
for as spring came round he endeavoured to construct a nest by stealing
little twigs out of the grate and flying with them to a chosen retreat
behind an ornamental scroll at the top of the looking-glass. He spent a
great deal of time fussing about this nest, which never came to
anything, but he very obligingly attended to my supposed wants by
picking up an occasional fly, or piece of sugar, and, hovering before me
on the wing, would endeavour to put it into my mouth; or, if he was in
his cage, would mince up a spider or caterpillar with water, and then,
with his beak full of the delicious compound, would call and chirp
unceasingly until I came near and "made believe" to taste it, and not
till then would he be content to enjoy it himself.

During an absence from home, Birdie once escaped out of doors, and was
seen on the roof of the house singing in high glee; the servants called
him, the cage was put out, but all to no purpose, he evidently meant to
have "a real good time," and kept flying from one tree to another until
he was a quarter of a mile from home. A faithful servant kept him in
sight for three hours, by which time hunger made him return to our
garden, where he feasted on some raspberries, took a leisurely bath in a
tub of water, and at length flew in at a bedroom window, where he was
safely caged. I never knew a bird with so much intelligence, one might
almost say reasoning power. He was once very thirsty after being out of
his cage for many hours, and at luncheon he went to an empty silver
spoon and time after time pretended to drink, looking fixedly at me as
if he felt sure I should know what he meant, and waited quietly until I
put water into the spoon. Another curious trait was his sense of humour.
Whilst I was writing one day he went up to a rose, which was at the far
end of the table, and began pecking at the leaves. I told him not to do
it, when, to my surprise, he immediately ran the whole length of the
table and made a scolding noise up in my face, and then, just like a
naughty child, went back and did it again. He would sometimes try to
tease me away from my writing by taking hold of my pen and tugging at a
corner of the paper, and whenever the terrible operation of cutting his
claws had to be gone through, he quietly curled up his toes and held the
scissors with his beak, so that it needed two people to circumvent his
clever resistance. He had wonderfully acute vision, and would let me
know directly a hawk was in sight, though it might be but the merest
speck in the sky. He once had a narrow escape, for a sparrow-hawk made a
swoop at him in his cage just outside the drawing-room window, and had
no one been at hand would probably have dragged him through the bars.
Whenever he saw a jay or magpie, a jackdaw or cat, his clicking note
always told me of some enemy in sight. For many years Birdie was my
cherished pet, never was there a closer friendship. As I passed his cage
each night I put my hand in to stroke his feathers, and was always
greeted with a low, murmuring note of affection never heard in the

It was with deep concern that I watched Birdie's declining strength;
there was no disease, only weakness, and at last appetite failed, but
even then he would take whatever I offered him and hold it in his beak
as if to show that even to the last he would try to please me as far as
he could, but he wanted nothing but the quiet rest which came at length,
and dear little Birdie is now only a cherished memory of true

[Illustration: ZÖE, THE NUTHATCH.]


A visit to a bird-dealer's shop always awakens a deep feeling of pity in
my mind as I look at the unhappy, flutter-little captives, and think of
the breezy hill-sides and pleasant lanes from which they came, to be
shut up in cages a few inches square, with but little light, a stifling
atmosphere, strange diet, and no means of washing their ruffled feathers
or stretching their wings in flight. Truly, they are in evil case, and
no wonder so many die off within a few days of their capture! In some
places they are better cared for than in others, but in most bird-shops
dirt and misery seem to prevail amongst the tenants of the cages.

One such place I have often visited for the sake of meeting with live
curios. The owner was a kind-hearted woman, and did not intentionally
ill-treat her live-stock; but the shop was very dark and dirty, and one
could but wonder how anything contrived to live in such close, stivy
air. On going in one day, I nearly walked over a large, pensive-looking
duckling which stood in the middle of the shop. His brother had been
considered suitable for the adornment of a table-lamp with a
looking-glass stand, on which a bright yellow duckling was placed, as if
swimming on water; this bird, having some darker markings, was of no use
for that purpose and had been allowed to live. He had a strange,
old-fashioned look, and gave one the impression that he was already
tired of life and felt bored. A lark on its little piece of turf,
fluttering and looking up for a glimpse of blue sky; a dejected robin,
with no tail to speak of, and sundry other sad-looking specimens met my
pitying gaze, and I suppose I had caught their sorrowful expression,
for I was startled by a sharp voice near me, saying, "What's the
matter?" I turned to reply, and found the inquiry was made by a grey
parrot, who introduced himself as "Pretty Poll," and was ready to make
friends to any extent. But my attention had been caught by seeing what
looked like a nuthatch: only it was moping and ill, with eyes shut and
feathers ruffled. I asked about it, and was told it had some injury to
its foot, and was unsaleable, as the woman feared it would not live. I
made a bid for it, and it was accepted. I confess I was not sorry to
leave the stilling air of the shop and bring my new pet home. I fitted
up a large cage with pieces of wood and tree-bark, a pan for bathing,
sand, and fine gravel; a bone with a little meat upon it hung from the
roof of the cage, and other suitable food was placed in a tin. The poor
birdie was a pitiable object for some days; she ate now and then, but
remained for the most part quite still, with closed eyes, from morning
till night. Then she began to creep up and down the small tree-stem I
had placed in the cage. She took a bath and plumed herself, and in less
than a fortnight she became quite well and vigorous, and very amusing
in a variety of ways. Never was there a more active, busy little

Her characteristic was life, so she was named "Zöe," and before long she
seemed to recognize her name, and would give an answering chirp. The
pieces of bark appeared to afford a never-failing interest. They were
examined and investigated in every crevice. Like a little woodpecker
hanging head downwards, Zöe would hammer at a nut fixed in the cracks of
the bark, and would hide away unfortunate mealworms not required for
immediate use.

Zöe regularly honeycombed the little tree-stem with her incessant
hammering, and in the numerous holes thus made she kept her supply of
food. No sooner was her tin filled with small pieces of raw meat than
she began stowing them all away for future use. She seemed to exercise a
good deal of thought about the matter; a morsel would be put in and out
of a hole half a dozen times before it was considered settled and
suitable, and then it had to be well rammed in and fixed, and off went
the busy little creature to fetch another piece, and so on, till all
was disposed of, and the tin left empty. Zöe was greatly exercised by a
half-opened Brazil nut: it was too large to fix into the bark, it would
not keep steady while she pecked at it, and yet there were good things
inside which must be obtained. I watched her various devices with great
amusement. She hung head downwards from the tree-stem and hammered at it
on the ground, but it shifted about, and she made no way; then she
carried it in her beak and tried fitting it into various places. I hope
she did not swear at it, but she seemed to think the thing was
possessed, for it was not like the ordinary nuts: she could manage them;
they would go into holes in the bark; this wouldn't fit anywhere, and
yet she could not give it up. At last, by a bright inspiration, she got
it fixed into a space between the tree-stem and the side of the cage.
Now she was in high glee, and all the household might have heard the
rapping that went on while she scooped out the inside and chipped off
pieces to be hidden carefully away in some secret place.

Zöe had a cosy nook under a sloping piece of bark, to which she would
retire at times, and sitting down on the bottom of her cage in the
shadow, looked like a little grey mouse. When appetite brought her out
again, she would go to her tree-larder and pick out the choice hidden
morsels, as if they were the insects which would have been her food if
her lot had been cast amongst tree-branches instead of in a cage.

When winter began, Zöe was placed in the conservatory, where a tame
robin often came for a few hours to enjoy his daily crumbs and the
pleasant warmth of the air. Bobby was greatly puzzled at the nuthatch,
watched her hammerings from the top of the cage, walked round it,
surveying the provisions inside, and at last he made up his mind to get
in somehow and partake of the longed-for dainties. I could see quite
plainly the attraction, the hesitation, the pros and cons, and then,
finally, the resolve, and felt very curious as to how the birdish mind
would carry out its intention. There was only one place, where the bars
were rather widely apart, so that the nuthatch could have got out if she
had possessed half the wits of the robin. After a quiet survey and a few
flights backwards and forwards, Bobby saw this place, and made towards
it, sat and considered for a few seconds, and finally went in. The
nuthatch was sitting quietly under her piece of bark, and did not see
him; so he picked up the desired morsels, and, after a few minutes, went
out where it came in. These visits he repeated frequently through the
day, but once I was amused to see that he forgot "the way out," and put
himself in a great fuss, realized that a cage was a prison, and flew up
and down in a fright, until by chance he saw the opening, and glided
out. At last Zöe caught him in the act of purloining her goodies, and
was most indignant. A rush at the thief, with an angry chirp, sent Bobby
flying away in ignominious haste, a wiser, but not a repentant bird; for
he continued his robberies, only with care to avoid being caught; he
ventured only a little way into the cage, ready to go out at a moment's

Zöe had a good deal of quiet humour, and was a character in her way. She
considered me very attentively one day, with a roguish look in her black
eyes, and then, going to her tree-stem larder, she pulled out a hidden
mealworm and held it up for me to see, with an evident wish that I
should know about it, and possibly with a little birdish triumph that
she possessed such delights; and then it was put back again and well
rammed into its crevice until the hungry moment should arrive. After a
few months Zöe became tame enough to be let out of her cage, and would
hop quietly about the room, and, like a small, grey-coated detective,
would peer about stealthily under tables and chairs in search of live
dainties; and extremely pretty she looked as she crept up the curtains
with jerky motions, evidently thinking they were tree-stems where, by
careful search, delightful centipedes and beetles might be found.

I do not know if naturalists have remarked that the nuthatch has a very
limited range of vision. Zöe could see nothing beyond twelve or fourteen
inches; the most tempting mealworm might lie on the floor of the cage
unnoticed if she happened to be on her tree-stem; and I have tried
bringing the insect nearer by degrees, and found that only when within a
foot of her eyes could she see it, and I fancy then only indistinctly
as she would peer about excitedly, as if uncertain what it was, until
near enough to be in the focus of clear vision, and then, by a sudden
dart, she would seize and flit away with it.

At first Zöe's roosting-place was under the curved piece of bark lying
on the floor of her cage, but after a time she took up her nightly
quarters in a small box which hooked on to the side of her cage. It was
a very cramped and uncomfortable lodging, and I wondered how she
contrived to squeeze into such a small space. It occurred to me that a
little cocoa-nut with a hole at one end would be the sort of
sleeping-chamber she would prefer, as being most like a hole in a
tree-stem, in which, probably, nuthatches roost.

An empty cocoa-nut was, therefore, provided. With birdish distrust and
caution Zöe only eyed it for some days, then perched on it; but finally
she went in, and it was amusing to see her evident delight: how she went
incessantly in and out, and turned round and round inside, and finally
sat down and remained in it for an hour or more, quite still and happy,
peering out at any one passing by, her sleek head and neck looking
remarkably like a snake, and her furtive black eye observantly watching
all that went on around her.

Her cage, when not in the conservatory, was placed on a table in the
drawing-room, close to where I was sitting, and thus she was frequently
spoken to and noticed, which is one great secret in taming birds and
animals. They soon learn to greet one with some token of recognition,
and their often solitary lives are brightened and cheered by such

An amusing thing occurred one day while I was away from home for a few
hours. Zöe's cage had been placed in the sun, and a friend of mine,
glancing at the bird, saw her in an apparently dying state, her head
hanging on one side, the beak wide open, all the feathers ruffled, and
the whole aspect of the bird indicating the near approach of death. The
bell was rung, the servants came in, and whispered consultations were
held as to what could be done, and "What would mistress say?" seemed the
uppermost thought. All at once, Zöe jumped down and began a vigorous
hammering at her tree-stem, as full of life as ever, and she was at once
voted "a little impostor." When I returned and heard the account, it was
easy to explain that my birdie had been enjoying a sun bath, which
always gives rise to most lackadaisical positions while the state of
dreamy absorption lasts.

The mealworms which Zöe mainly lived upon were kept in a tin
biscuit-box, which she knew well by sight, and one day, being too busy
to spare time to feed her with them, I opened her cage-door and put the
box down a little way from the cage on the floor, and placed a small log
of wood for her to descend by. Down she came, perched on the edge of the
box, looked at the layers of flannel which covered her delightful worms,
and tugged at one corner after another till she obtained her prey. After
swallowing two or three, she thought a little store might be useful, and
began taking them in her beak, and searching for some convenient
hiding-places, but as I did not desire to have the drawing-room neatly
ornamented with mealworms, I had to prevent that little design being
carried out. My tiny pet lived happily for about a year, but when the
moulting time came she grew weak and ill, and did not seem to have
strength to produce her new plumage; for, in spite of all possible care,
she drooped and died. She lives in my memory as one of the most gentle,
innocent birdies I have ever had, absolutely without temper, contented
and cheerful, a perfect pattern of industry, chipping out holes in her
log of wood, and flitting about with a happy little chirp from morning
till night, a bright example of what a cheery life may be lived, even by
a caged bird, when kindly treated and cared for thoughtfully.




I must own my strong liking for these active, saucy little birds. For
eighteen years I have always had a basket hung just outside the
dining-room window containing their favourite food, _.e._, fat of any
kind, cooked or uncooked; and most amusing it is to watch their little
odd ways and tempers whilst frequenting the said basket. Four species
thus studied showed distinct characteristics. Directly I put out a fresh
supply of fat, the Cole Tit would spend all his time and energies in
carrying it away, piece by piece, to lay by in store for the future, in
crevices in the bark of trees, and this work he would carry on with
misplaced energy until the basket was emptied. The Greater Tit and Marsh
Tit came quietly for the supply of their own personal needs, and to feed
their young in nesting time, but the Blue Tit was by far the most
amusing. His attitudes were quite a study; he seemed rather to prefer
being upside down; clinging to the basket and hammering away at the hard
fat, head downwards, was a favourite pose; then, when any one else
desired a share, he would make a stand with open beak and outspread
wings and enact "king of the castle" in the most impertinent manner,
considering his tiny dimensions. A guerilla warfare seems always going
on amongst these Blue Tits. If one was in the basket and remaining
perfectly still, I knew two or three others were meditating a sudden
combined assault, but it seemed as if the steady gaze of the titmouse
in possession kept them at bay for a time. At length a twittering
scrimmage ensued, and the combatants disappeared. I once coaxed a Blue
Tit to live in the dining-room for a few days, and he made himself very
happy, constantly flitting about in search of insects, running up and
down the curtains like a veritable mouse, alighting on any joint of cold
meat which happened to be on the sideboard, and making an excellent
dinner in Bohemian fashion. Of course his fearless curiosity led him
into difficulties. He would sit on the edge of a jug and peer down to
see what it might contain, and his plumage was not improved by the baths
of milk or cocoa which he met with in the pursuit of knowledge of this
kind. Some years ago an empty cocoa-husk with a hole at one end,
furnished with nesting materials, was hung up just above the basket of
fat. A large tit began to build in it, but unhappily for him a Blue Tit
had also been house-hunting, and determined to settle in it. I saw the
matter decided by a pitched battle between the two; they fought
desperately, rolling over and over on the lawn, pecking, chirping,
beating each other with their wings, like little feathered furies as
they were.

[Illustration: Titmice.]

At last it was ended, and Blue Tit was victor. It was pretty to see the
tiny pair building their nest, with little happy twitterings and
confabulations over each piece of moss or dried leaf, and so fearless
were they that a large blind was often let down close to and over the
husk without disturbing the inmates. When the hen bird was sitting, the
cock would bring a green caterpillar for her every four or five minutes,
and sometimes take her place on the nest. I often took the husk down
from its nail to show the brave little bird sitting on her eggs. If
touched she would hiss and set up her feathers, but did not leave her
nest. When the young birds were hatched, the parents were incessantly at
work from early morning till late at night bringing small caterpillars
about every two minutes to supply the wants of the tiny brood. One can
judge of the usefulness of these birds in ridding our gardens of insect
pests by the amount consumed by this one pair. By a moderate
calculation, and judging by what I saw one afternoon, I believe they
must have brought 3,570 in the course of one week. At last the day came
when five little blue heads peeped out of the entrance to the husk. One
after another the little ones flew into branches near by; the last one I
held in my hand for a while that I might draw its portrait. Fearing it
might be hungry if I kept it too long, I placed it in a cage on the
lawn, where the old birds found it and fed it for me through the bars. I
then brought it in again, and having finished its likeness, had the
pleasure of restoring it to its parents. The Blue and Cole Tit often
choose the inside of a disused pump as their nesting-place. A Cole Tit
built in an old pump in our grounds for many years, the curved spout
being its mode of ingress and egress. I could open a small door and look
at the pretty little hen on her nest, and then at her numerous family,
and watch their growth till old enough to fly. Certainly young birds
show a grand lesson of obedience, for creeping out into the world
through a dark, curved pipe, must have seemed a rather perilous mode of
exit. Another less fortunate Cole Tit built in a post-box placed by a
garden gate, and seemed in no way disconcerted when letters came in
suddenly around and upon her. She usually laid eighteen eggs in a deep,
soft nest of moss and hair. As boys were apt to take this nest year
after year, a lock was placed to the box to protect the little bird; but
the genus boy has no pity, and through the slit for the letters, some
cruel urchin, vexed at not being able to take the nest, put in a stick
and killed the poor little mother and broke the eggs. For several years
a Blue Tit chose to build her nest in the lower part of a stone vase in
the garden. There was a hole for drainage in the bottom, and through
this hole the little bird found a circular space just suited for her
nest. That particular vase could not be filled with plants till long
after all the rest were gay with flowers. We were obliged to wait till
the domestic affairs of the Tit family were ended, else their fate would
have been sad indeed. There is no doubt that these birds do contrive to
secure their share of peas and other things in the kitchen garden, and
are by no means favourites with the gardeners, but I still maintain that
the good they do in destroying insects counterbalances their evil doings
in other respects. However, they sometimes commit other misdemeanours.
My head gardener came to me one day looking very serious, and began by
asking what he was to do about "those Blue Tits." "Why, what have they
been doing?" I asked. "Two of them have been sitting at the entrance of
one of the hives, and they have picked off and killed every bee as it
came out, and now they have begun upon a second hive." "Well, you had
better hang up some potatoes stuck over with feathers, and that will
frighten them away." "I've done that, ma'am, and they sit on the
potatoes and look at me!" It was a trying case of utter contumacy, and
at last I was obliged, for the sake of saving my bees, to let one little
victim be shot and hung up as "an awful example" to the rest, and it
proved an effectual remedy. My basket of fat used to prove very
attractive all through the cold weather, when, I suppose, these tiny
birds need the caloric it supplies; they always left off coming as soon
as the days were warm and insects plentiful.




Pigeons possess a great deal more individuality of character than any
one would suppose who has only seen them in flocks picking up grain in a
farmyard, like domestic fowls.

They show to better advantage when only a few pairs are kept and fed
daily at some settled place; but to make really interesting pets two are
quite sufficient, and may be made very amusing companions. Some species
may possess more mental capacity than others. Those I have to speak of
were snow-white trumpeters. A pair was sent to me, but, to my sorrow, I
found on opening the basket that the male bird had escaped on the way;
so I could only put the solitary hen in a cage, and do all that was
possible in the way of plentiful food and kind care to make her happy;
but all to no purpose. The poor bird pined and grew weaker every day,
till she became unable to get up to her perch. I used, therefore, to go
to her every evening and place her comfortably for the night; and she
soon grew tame enough to like being caressed and talked to. When spring
returned I obtained a male pigeon, and hoped Blanche would accept him
for a mate, but she showed a great deal of temper, and made him so
unhappy that he had to be exchanged for another--a fine snow-white bird
like herself, and, happily, of such a forbearing disposition as to
endure being considerably "hen-pecked." Now began the curious part of
Blanche's history. The pair built a nest in a small pigeon-house close
to my window, so that I was able to watch all the family arrangements
with much interest. Blanche liked to be with me for some hours in the
morning, sitting on the table pluming herself, quite at ease, and when
that operation was ended she generally seated herself on a large Bible
which lay at one end of the dining-table, and there she usually went to
sleep; a white dove resting on the Word suggested to one's mind many a
beautiful emblematic thought. These visits to me were paid most
regularly when a nest was finished and the eggs were being hatched; she
then shared the duties of incubation by turns with her mate. He would
sit patiently for four hours on the nest, while Blanche spent that time
with me; then, punctually at the right moment, she would wake up, and,
lazily stretching her wings, would fly out at the open window to see how
affairs were getting on at home, and take her place on the nest for her
appointed four hours.

She was a most eccentric bird in the matter of laying eggs. I sometimes
found she had made me a present of one, neatly placed amongst my working
materials! In fact, wherever she happened to be upon the table would be
deemed by her a suitable place for laying; and, as I always conveyed the
eggs to her nest, her little freaks did not much matter. But at last
she took it into her wilful little head to lay her eggs in the
coal-scoop, an arrangement which by no means improved her snowy plumage.
She had a pretty crest, which curved over her head, and her feet were
clothed with rather long feathers reaching to the claws. At our
breakfast-time she would often sit close to my plate, letting me stroke
her and draw out her pretty wings. I must own she was as conceited as
any peacock, throwing herself on her side and stretching out a feathered
foot, little dreaming how she was being laughed at for her affected
attitudes. If she had a fault, it was her temper! I have seen her go up
to her mate and give him a most uncalled-for peck, and he--amiable
bird!--would bear all her unkindness so meekly, only answering by a
propitiatory coo. Blanche reared many sons and daughters, but none were
so interesting as herself. I ascribe her unusual tameness to the loving
care bestowed upon her in her long illness. When once a bird's
affections are won in that way they generally remain firm friends for



These curious little animals were brought to my notice by a scientific
friend who had seen them at the Zoological Gardens, and heard that they
were to be obtained there by applying to Mr. Bartlett.

As I always regretted the untimely death of my pet jerboa, I thought
these little rodents would fill his place, and prove amusing pets. And,
accordingly, I paid a visit to the Zoo, and found a whole colony of
gerbilles of all ages living very amicably together in a large,
strongly-built wooden box, with bran, oats, and nuts for provender.

It was no easy matter to secure a pair of suitable size and age. I could
but admire the patience of the attendant who made persevering attempts
to catch the nimble creatures for me, but they leaped and sprang about,
darted through his fingers, disappeared into holes, and seemed to enjoy
his discomfiture. At length a lively pair, with sleek skins and perfect
tails, were securely caged.

Then I was warned to keep them in a tin-lined cage, as they would "gnaw
through anything," even the solid teak chest in which they were kept was
being rapidly demolished by their powerful incisors.

The gerbilles were placed in a plant case, four feet long, with glass
sides and top, through which their gambols could easily be seen. The
case had a glass partition, and on one side lived a pair of chipmunks,
or striped American squirrels. They were highly incensed at their new
neighbours, springing with all their force against the partition, with
low growlings, casting up the cocoa fibre with their hind legs, as if to
try and hide them from their view. They soon found a little chink,
through which, I am afraid, some very strong language was launched at
the new-comers.

Happily the gerbilles did not mind. They found delightful tree-roots to
gnaw at, plenty of food, and freedom to frisk and frolic to their
heart's content, so their neighbours were free to growl as much as they
liked, and they in their turn raised a hill of fibre and played at
hide-and-seek in their new domain.

But let me now describe these gerbilles. I believe there are several
species, differing somewhat in appearance. These were fawn-coloured,
with sleek, soft fur, which, like the chinchilla, was blueish next to
the skin. They were about the size of small rats, with little ears and
long tails, with a black tuft at the end. The fur was white underneath,
the eyes jet black and very large, and long black whiskers, which were
always in motion. The hind legs being longer than the front ones,
enabled the creature to spring and leap along the ground with great
rapidity, as I found to my cost one night, when five of them got out of
their case and gave us an hour's occupation before they could be
recaptured. One managed to get inside an American organ, and effectually
baffled all our efforts to secure him. There was no help for it, he had
to be left there, and I went away with an anxious mind as to what his
busy teeth would be employed upon all night; and, sure enough, next
morning a velvet curtain was found nibbled and tattered, and being
converted into a nest for the enterprising gerbille! They became very
amusing, tame little creatures, ready to take dandelions, nuts, or any
little dainty, from one's hand.

As they breed very readily in England, I was soon presented with a
little family of five very tiny, pinkish-coloured infants, quite blind,
and destitute of hair. They were not attractive, and so were left to
their mother's care till they could see and were properly clothed, and
then they were extremely pretty, and rapidly developed all the habits
and manners of their parents, gnawing wood, nibbling nuts, and having
merry games of their own, darting with wonderful quickness in and out of
the tree-roots, and getting up small battles for some coveted morsel of
diet. The first pair were quiet enough, and agreed happily together, but
when, later on, mother and daughter happened to have a little brood at
the same time, things became complicated, and it was no uncommon sight
to see the two mothers careering about, each with an infant in its
mouth, and it often fell to my lot to take care of the unfortunate
children and replace them in the nest whilst the mothers had a
"stand-up" fight, and this is a literally true expression, for gerbilles
sit bolt upright and fight each other with their front feet; but, though
they appear to be in desperate conflict, I must say I never saw that any
damage was done. As to their gnawing power, it is almost beyond
description. I gave them a strong wooden box as a nursery for the young
gerbilles, but before long they had eaten out the back and sides, and a
mere skeleton of a box remained. There was a piece of zinc, which formed
a partition, but they ate a hole right through the zinc in no time, and
when a wire cage, with a sliding door, was placed in the plant case,
they soon learnt how to lift up the door and get out. We often watched
the formation of the family nest, which was constructed of wool and hay
nibbled very small, and carried by mouthfuls and woven together. It
generally had two outlets for ingress and egress. There the entire
family would sleep during the day amicably enough, but towards evening
the nursery disputes would begin, and old animosities led to frequent
battles and scrimmages, because somebody wanted some one else's pieces
of wool for the precious infants. Still they were very tame, amusing
little creatures, liking to be stroked and fed and rewarded by a run
upon the breakfast-table, where they would examine every dish and plate
in a delicate, inquiring way, not touching the contents--only trying to
add to their small amount of knowledge of the outside world. Their food
consisted of bran, oats, pea-nuts, wheat, fresh dandelion and
clover-leaves, and on these they lived in perfect health and beauty.

As the colony increased, it was needful to make several homes for the
gerbilles, and the original pair happened to be, for a time, in a cage
upstairs on a landing. One of these found its way out of the cage, down
the stairs, across the hall, and was discovered next morning in a room
where the younger members of the family were kept. This would go to
prove a keen scent, which, I suppose, guided the little animal to find
its friends, and also confirms what travellers have written about
gerbilles living in large colonies and always keeping together.

One evening I had to read some natural history papers at a Band of Mercy
meeting in a neighbouring village, where the clergyman's wife took great
interest in promoting kindness to animals, and as I proposed speaking
about the gerbilles, I thought I would take some of them with me to show
the children. Accordingly a mother and four little ones, were put into a
cage with some food and bedding for their comfort whilst being
exhibited. I was concerned to see the extreme terror they seemed to feel
at the unusual motion of the carriage, and in a few minutes one became
convulsed and literally died of fright. I held the cage in my lap, and
talked to the others to reassure them, fearing more casualties, but
after a while they settled down, and we reached the schoolroom in due
time. I was scarcely prepared for the tremendous sensation the gerbilles
created. Remarks in broad Hertfordshire greeted their appearance. "Whoy,
here's a lot of moise." "Noa, they ain't; they's rats!" "Will they
boite?" and then such a cluster of children came round me they had to be
called to order, and the cage was carried round that all might see the
little foreigners, and through all the after-proceedings many pairs of
eyes remained fixed upon the cage and its inmates. I fancy that evening
will long be remembered by the children.

The great difficulty that attends the keeping of these little animals is
their rapid rate of increase. It is true they can all be kept together,
for, as I have said, though there are squabbles they do not result in
any personal injury, and thus my colony was allowed to go on till there
was no counting the number of generations that existed. I very much
wished to reduce the numbers, and give some away, but could never tell
which were the mothers of the small pink infants I was being presented
with continually. I tried putting a little family of the babies into a
cage in the plant case, hoping the mother who belonged to them would
then appear and take care of them; but no, the entire colony trooped in
and ran riot in the new place, and if a young gerbille was by chance
left uncovered in the _melée_, a twentieth cousin would take it up
tenderly as if it was its own mother, and replace it in the nest--a very
emblem of brotherly kindness and charity. The colony had finally to be
dispersed and given away in small detachments to different friends, and,
strange to say, in no other case did the numbers increase, I imagine
because the requisite conditions of space and quietness were not
realized as in the pleasant home I was able to provide for them.




Hearing that the little patients in a London hospital had scarcely any
toys, and that they especially desired a very large doll, I had one
dressed for them, and various other interesting items, such as an album
of pictures, bags of shells, a stamp snake, &c., were prepared; but a
large box was needed in which to pack all these treasures; and one which
had been for months in the wine-cellar was brought up for that purpose
into the hall.

It was filled with straw, and as I was watching this being taken out I
noticed some small black animals darting about in it.

"They must be young rats," I exclaimed, "and the rare kind, too--the
black rat, which has been almost entirely eradicated by the stronger
brown species." A curious instance, by the way, of a foreign interloper
driving out the native.

I immediately resolved to secure these animals, whatever they might
prove to be, and, armed with leather gloves, and an empty glass globe to
place my captures in, I began to search in the straw, and soon secured
the supposed rats, but they proved to be a pair of water shrews--jet
black, lively little creatures, with sharply-pointed snouts and teeth,
as I soon discovered to my cost. I had taken off my gloves and was
watching the activity of the shrews, when suddenly they flew upon each
other, biting and screaming with rage, and, thinking they would kill
each other at that rate, I tried to separate them, but one turned and
bit me pretty severely, and it was with some difficulty they were
parted. One I put into a zinc fern case, and the other into a large
empty aquarium, with shingle at the bottom, moss and wool for bedding,
and a large pan of water for swimming and bathing.

They were rather larger than the common mouse, jet black above, and
greyish-white beneath--restless, active creatures, usually found near
ponds and ditches; and how ever these two had found their way into a dry
cellar, and lived in a box of straw will always remain a mystery. I
learnt from books that they fed on worms and insects, and that diet was
provided, though much to my distress, for it is a miserable thing to see
any living creature tortured and devoured alive, even though it may be
in obedience to natural instincts. Happily I soon found a substitute. I
was showing one of the shrews to a fellow-student of natural history,
and with a long feather soon attracted the little animal's attention; he
always came out of his bed and sprang upon the feather like a little
tiger, dragging it about and holding on with the grip of a bull-dog, so
that one could lift him off the ground and keep him swinging a minute in
the air to see the pretty white fur underneath. My friend suggested that
it probably fed on small birds and thought the feather was part of its
daily fare.

I obtained a fowl's head from the larder, and then it was a sight to see
how it was pounced upon and dragged about until securely hidden under
the moss, when we could hear our little friend crunching the bones and
tearing it to pieces as if he had not had anything so good for a long

One shrew died in a few days, but the other lived three weeks in perfect
health, and I believe it was an accidental failure of sufficient food
that led to the death of the second; their appetite seems to be, like
that of the mole, most voracious, and unless they obtain a constant and
ample supply of food they quickly die of hunger.

They are worth studying for a few days, but their dreadful odour and
fierce character make them anything but pets. I suppose there is hardly
any animal in England so fierce and combative, and probably that may
account for the fact that one so often comes across a dead shrew lying
on the path in summer.

When swimming, the shrew's furry coat perfectly resisted the entrance of
moisture; it always came out absolutely dry. The said coat was most
carefully kept in order; a daily brushing and cleansing went on, the
little tongue was often at work licking off every little speck of dust;
the toes were spread out and examined; the small amount of tail kept in
order. I could but think how many a lesson we may learn from the small
as well as the great creations of God's hand--habits such as this little
animal possessed might, in the way of cleanliness, lead to the
prevention of endless diseases, if imitated by those who never dream of
daily cleansings as being necessary to health and life.


[Illustration: SQUIRREL.]


If one lives in the country where these graceful little animals exist,
it is well worth while to attract them near the house so that one may
enjoy the sight their gambols and minister to their wants by suitable
diet. As I have already said, for many years food was placed in a basket
outside the dining-room window to attract the charming little titmice,
and four species might be seen feasting on fat of different kinds. I
placed Barcelona nuts for the nuthatches, and they came and shared the
contents of the basket with the tits. The nuts also drew a squirrel to
the spot, and after about a year, the little fellow became so used to
seeing us moving in the room that he would sit in the basket with his
graceful little tail curved over his back, cracking his nuts, and
nibbling away quite at ease. Then the window was opened and the nuts put
on a table inside the room, and there little "Frolic" sits whilst we are
at meals and forms one of the family, holding his nuts cleverly in his
paws, whilst his sharp teeth bite a hole in them, and, regardless of
tidiness, he flings the shells about as he nibbles at the kernels,
looking at us with his black, beady eyes, perhaps speculating upon what
our breakfast may be. How much more enjoyable is this sort of pet than a
poor caged squirrel whirling round in his wheel, condemned to a dreary
life, with no freedom or change, no intercourse with his kind.

In town there is, perhaps, no way to keep a squirrel but in a cage; even
so, by an occasional release from its captivity, a constant variety in
its food, and its being talked to and noticed, its life may be made
less irksome, and, if young, it may eventually be made quite tame, and
become an interesting daily companion.

We derived great amusement from our squirrel visitors; one after another
they would leap up the side of the window and spring in and out of the
basket in quick succession, carrying away a nut at each visit, playing
and skirmishing with each other in lively fashion. I am sorry to confess
there was great jealousy amongst them. A second squirrel took to coming
into the room, and Frolic and he had a pitched battle, in which our
favourite, poor little fellow! lost half his ear, and a sponge and water
were needed to efface the sanguinary stains left by the fight.

The squirrel's great enemy is the cat. One would not think she could
catch the agile little creature; but one day we saw a cat watching an
unconscious little squirrel under the tulip-tree: we did not dream that
she could harm it, but in a moment she made one swift rush at her prey.
The squirrel ran at full speed, but alas! before we could interfere it
was caught and carried away.

At Dropmore, the gardener told us he had a cat that kept the Pinetum
quite clear of squirrels. They certainly nibble the young shoots of firs
and horse-chestnuts unmercifully in the spring, and one very dry summer
they took very kindly to our peaches and nectarines; but I freely
forgive their little sins, and should be sorry to miss them from the
lawn where there are often four or five to be seen at once.

They chase each other round a tree-stem with wonderful agility, and
express their animosity with angry grunts and a stamp of the foot like a
rabbit. In autumn I have acorns and beech-mast collected, and store some
bushels of each to be doled out through the winter and spring; strewn
under the tulip-tree this food, mixed with corn, attracts an amusing
variety of live creatures. Besides the squirrels which are constantly
there, we see jays, wood-pigeons, jackdaws, rooks, and flocks of the
smaller birds; if snow should prevail, a whole rookery will come to see
what is to be had. By constantly watching their movements I have learnt
that the squirrel's tail has quite a language of its own. It can be
curved over its back and so spread out that on a wet day it forms a
complete shelter from rain. It will take the form of a note of
interrogation or lie flat on the ground, stand out at an angle or
bristle with anger, according to the mood of the possessor.

I did not find the American chipmunks, before alluded to, at all
tameable. They were very handsome, of grey colour with dark brown
stripes on their sides.

They were extremely wild, and would spring round their cage in perfect
terror when looked at, so, finding they could not be made happy in
confinement, I let them loose in the garden in the hope they might
burrow under a large rhododendron clump, but after a day or two they
disappeared, and I suppose they made their escape to a neighbouring
wood, so that I have little hope of ever seeing them again.




A live mole above-ground is a somewhat rare sight, for, as a rule, his
habits are altogether subterranean; but now and then he may be captured
by a sudden grasp as he scrambles along in his odd, unwieldly fashion,
and a curious fellow he is in many ways.

Strolling quietly along a country lane one summer's evening, I heard a
great rustling in a dry ditch, the dead leaves were being scattered
right and left, and I stopped to see what could be the cause. In a
minute the black velvet coat of a mole appeared, and I at once resolved
to endeavour to catch it, though with little hope of success, for the
creature is apt to dive into the ground in an instant when alarmed.
However, watching my opportunity, I managed to seize and hold him
firmly; but I had nothing to put him in, and he struggled furiously to
escape. All I could do was to roll him up in one end of my black lace
shawl and hurry home with my capture. Alas! for the unlucky shawl--the
mole soon began rending and tearing it into shreds with his powerful
feet and teeth. I was rapidly becoming acquainted with the habits of
moles, and in a way that I should not soon forget; still, that mole must
be brought home somehow, and I next transferred him to my dress pocket,
which I held fast, whilst he scrambled and pushed his strong little
snout in all directions to find some way of escape. He was soon placed
in a zinc fern case, with glass sides, supplied with earth to burrow in,
and fed with worms. I also gave him a pan of water, as I remembered
seeing a plan of a mole's burrow which always includes a place for
water. It was a really painful sight to watch the creature feeding; he
pounced upon a worm with the fury of a tiger, and holding it in his
mouth, tore it to pieces with his sharp claws and rapidly devoured all
the pieces, and snuffing about to make sure he had quite finished it, he
then darted off to seek another. The mole has a most voracious appetite
and dies very quickly if unable to obtain food. I was interested to
watch the bustling, active life of the little creature; his morning
toilet when the black velvet coat was attended to, carefully brushed and
licked by a tiny red tongue (though it never seemed to pick up dirt or
defilement in its passage through the earth) and finally, after a few
days, I had the pleasure of setting him free, when he dived into the
ground out of sight in a moment.

Some years later a live mole was much desired by a young relative who
was giving Natural History lectures to some school children. It happened
that a mole had found its way into the conservatory and was doing much
damage there by making its runs close to the surface and uprooting the
plants in its course. The gardener and I resolved to catch it; he was
anxious to prevent further mischief to his plants, and I was wishing to
help the lecturer by sending a lively specimen to illustrate his
subject. The exciting part of the business was the necessity of making
the capture before eleven o'clock, when the carrier would pass by, and,
taking charge of the animal, would deliver it in time for the lecture
next day. We watched for the upheaving of the mole's run which came at
last. The gardener made a quick plunge with his hand into the soft
earth, but alas! the mole escaped. He kept quiet for ten minutes, then
another attempt was made, and failed. The carrier's bell sounded and he
passed by. I still kept watch, and again saw the earth move--the third
time was successful. I had gone to find a tin box, and on my return I
was greeted with "Here's the mole, ma'am!" Poor fellow! he was being
ignominiously held up by the scruff of his neck, and kicking furiously
at the indignity. He was soon packed up in soft grass, with a plentiful
supply of worms to feast upon by the way. A special messenger overtook
the carrier, and a telegram was sent to announce the dispatch of the
precious animal.

He first reached a London office, where I fear he tended to hinder
business, as it was needful to transfer him to a cage, and no one seemed
particularly anxious for the honour of catching him, as his teeth were
known to be both sharp and numerous, and his disposition not of the
meekest. However, he was placed in his cage, travelled down into Kent,
and gave wonderful pleasure when exhibited to the children.

One would naturally suppose that in a country village where boys and
girls are daily going to and from school, they would all have been
familiar with this little creature, but when the question was asked if
they had ever seen a dead mole, only fifteen children out of ninety had
seen one, and only three had ever seen a live one.

Next day the mole was let loose upon a very hard piece of ground, but
even there he very quickly burrowed out of sight.



I had often wished to keep these interesting little animals, but as they
are only found in some parts of England and are difficult to capture
from their minute size and delicacy, I had to wait many years before
they could be obtained. At length, through the kindness of a friend, six
were sent to me from Norfolk, and for two years they lived in captivity
and afforded me much pleasure.

They are the smallest English rodents, two of them only weighing a
halfpenny; they are brown in colour with white underneath, very long
whiskers and prehensile tails. They were made happy by finding all
things needful for their comfort in a large plant case. A thick layer of
cocoa fibre was spread over the bottom of the case, dry moss and hay
provided, wheat-ears, oats, and canary seed, and a small cup of water. A
flowerpot in which a number of small branches were fixed afforded
opportunity for exercise in climbing, and a pleasant resting-place was
formed by a half-cocoanut filled with cotton-wool and roofed over with
dry moss, then slung by three wires in a tripod of sticks of
corky-barked elm, a little hole for entrance being left at one side.
Into this the mice went the moment they were turned into the case, and
in it they mostly lived. I fancy its swinging a little as they moved
inside was congenial to their ideas of comfort. As they live in
cornfields and make a pendulous nest attached to an ear of corn, I
supplied them with a pot of growing wheat, in the hope that they would
incline to make a nest in it; but I could never induce them to rear a
family. They would sit for hours in the corn-stalks and nibble them
into a heap of shreds, but no nest ever appeared. Their greatest delight
was a handful of fresh moss full of little insects on which they would
feed. The greatest excitement was always shown when the moss
appeared--little heads would peep out of the cocoa-husk, little noses
sniffed in all directions, and then, with jerky runs, the tiny folk made
their way to the attractive spot, and soon each would be seen sitting up
like a small kangaroo feasting on a beetle or spider held in the tiny
paws. Sometimes in their great happiness they made a low, sweet chirping
like a company of wrens conversing cheerily together. When climbing in
their tree-branches it was interesting to see how the fine wiry tail was
always coiled round the stem as the creature descended, so as to keep it
from falling and injuring itself.

Canary seed and brown bread seemed a favourite diet, and if I put a
trough of growing corn into the case the mice made little burrows
through it so as to be able to eat the wheat from below. I had heard a
sad report that my fairy-like pets had a tendency to eat each other as
spring came round! This I fancied might arise from lack of animal food,
so once or twice a week I always gave them a small portion of meat and
this seemed to prevent any tendency to cannibalism.

After keeping them two years several deaths occurred, so I thought the
remainder should have their liberty, and I had the pleasure of seeing
them enter one of my corn-stacks where I hope they found all that their
little hearts could desire, and possibly they would stray to a
neighbouring bank and found a colony.




A rather strange parcel from California reached me by post some years
ago. It was marked "Live animals with care," and consisted of a box,
containing several divisions, each having fine wire-work to admit air.
In one I found a spiny creature called a Gecko, in another a beautiful
lizard which had not survived the journey, and in the third a very rare
species of mouse known as _Perognathus Pencillatus_. It has a soft silky
coat of silver grey and fawn colour, and a long tail with a little tuft
at the end, very large black eyes and white paws. It was alive, but weak
and tired with its journey of ten days and all the jars and shocks it
must have had by the way. I gave it warm milk and soaked bread, which it
seemed to enjoy, and some hours later it was supplied with wheat grains,
the food upon which it lives in its native country.

True to his natural instinct, mousie soon began to fill both his cheek
pouches with the corn, and tried to hide it away as a supply for the
future. In a few days the little creature was in perfect health, and he
has been a great pet now for several years; perfectly tame and gentle,
he will run about on the table and amuse himself happily wherever he is

Being entirely inodorous he is kept in the drawing-room in a mahogany
cage which was made specially to meet his small requirements. He is a
busy little creature at night, as he likes daily to make a fresh bed of
cotton-wool, and fusses about with his mouth full of material until he
has arranged his little couch.

In his own country, where the cold is very severe in winter, its habit
is to become perfectly unconscious, exactly as if dead, and in that
state it can endure the rigour of the climate and wake up when the
temperature rises. It was once left in a cold room and became in this
apparently lifeless state. I was not alarmed, as I knew of its
peculiarity, but it really was difficult to believe it ever could
revive; there was no trace of warmth, or any apparent beating of the
heart, and so it lay for some days, but on bringing it into a warm room
it became as bright and active as ever. It seems a more intense form of
hibernation than that of our squirrel and dormouse.

The naturalist at San Bernardino, from whom I obtained this mouse, told
me he had kept one as a pet for many years, and his specimen lived
entirely without water; as there was sufficient moisture in the wheat
grains on which it fed to supply its need; but I think it is cruel to
keep anything without the means of quenching thirst which might arise
from an artificial mode of life, so my little pet has always a small jar
of water to which I know it resorts from its requiring to be refilled
from time to time.



About four years ago I began to feed a toad that had found its way into
the conservatory. He sat daily in one place expecting his meal-worms,
and when he had snapped them up with his curious sticky tongue he would
retire to some hidden nook and be invisible until the next day. Each
winter he has hibernated as soon as cold weather began, and reappeared
with the spring sunshine. Sancho is now a very portly, and most amusing

Few people would guess how much character can be shown by even this
poor, despised reptile when treated with real kindness, regularly fed,
and never frightened or abused. I will describe what happens when Sancho
is "shown to the public."

Some meal-worms are thrown on the pavement near him. He sits for a time
gazing at them with his gold-rimmed eyes; then slowly creeps towards
them, fixes his eyes on one of the worms bends his head a little towards
it, then one hears a snap and the prey is taken. The act is so rapid
that one can never see the tongue that has picked up the
meal-worm--simply it is gone! The toad's eyes are tightly shut whilst he
swallows the morsel, and then he turns to pick up a second. Now is the
time to approach him from behind and begin to stroke his leathery, warty
skin. In a few seconds he is in a state of perfect ecstasy, his front
legs are stretched out, he leans first to one side, then to the other,
to guide the hand where he wishes to be stroked, and at last uplifts his
ponderous body until he is an inch or more from the ground, supported on
the tips of his toes. No description can do justice to the absurdity of
the attitude, and the rapture seems so intense that food is forgotten,
and so long as Sancho can get any one to stroke him, he is quite
oblivious to all around him, although at other times he will hop away as
soon as any stranger approaches.

Sancho will not, as yet, take anything from my hand, but I hope to bring
him to that state of tameness in course of time.


[Illustration: ROMAN SNAILS.]


"How _can_ you take an interest in snails and slugs?--horrid, slimy,
crawling things!" More than once have I heard this kind of remark from
youthful lips when I produced my grand old Roman snails and gave them a
pleasant time for exercise upon the dewy lawn. Now in my secret mind I
think a snail is a wonderfully curious creature, neither ugly nor
"horrid"--it _is_ slimy, but about that I shall have something to say
later on.

When staying at Box Hill, near Dorking, I often saw the great apple
snail, _Helix Pomatia_, which is only found on chalk soils, and is
supposed to have been introduced by the Romans, from the quantities of
their empty shells found with Roman remains in all parts of England.
They were kept and fattened in places called "Cochlearia" and made into
various "dainty dishes" which the Romans thought quite fit to set before
their kings. It is certain that they are very nutritious creatures, and
that in times of famine people have supported life and kept themselves
mysteriously "fat and well-liking" by resorting to snails and slugs as
articles of diet. Indeed I have heard more than once that the famous
"Pâte de Guimauve" owes its healing nutritive character to this despised
univalve, which is said to enter largely into its composition. I brought
several apple snails home with me from Box Hill and kept them for many
years, until I really believe the creatures, in a dim sort of way,
recognized me as their friend, or at any rate their feeder. I cannot
boast, as I believe an American lady is said to have done, that "her
tame oysters followed her up and down stairs," but certainly my snails
would, when placed upon the lawn, very frequently crawl towards me, and
would do so again and again when removed to a distance. As the weather
became cold they always hibernated, closing the mouth of the shell with
a thin, firm covering, or operculum, of chalk, which, mixed with their
slime, made a substance like plaster of Paris. Thus enclosed they would
lie as if dead until the warmth of the following spring made them push
the door open and come out, with excellent appetites, ready to eat
voraciously to make up for their long fast. These Roman snails were
quite five inches long when fully extended, and therefore were much
larger than our English species; the body was cream colour and the shell
a pale tint of buff varying somewhat in different specimens.

These creatures were kept in a fern case with glass top and sides, and
it was singular to observe the way in which they could suspend
themselves (as shown in the drawing) from the top of the box.

The substance which exists in the caterpillar of the silkworm moth, and
which can be drawn out into fine shreds of silk, is very similar to the
slime of the snail, only in the latter it is not filiform, but exudes as
a liquid and then hardens into a thin layer of silk which is strong
enough to support the weight of two of these snails, for, seeing them
one day thus suspended, I put them in the scales and ascertained that
the weight of the two amounted to 2-1/2 ounces.

This mucus forms the glistening, shiny track which the snail leaves
behind it, enabling it to glide easily and painlessly over rough
substances which would otherwise lacerate its soft body.

One hardly expected to find social feeling and affection in animals so
low down in the scale of nature, but I do not know what else could have
led my "Romans" to caress each other with their long horns by the hour
together and always keep close to one another, twisting and curling
their yielding bodies round each other in the most odd contortions. Our
English snails hibernate in whole colonies for the winter, which also
points to their affectionate and gregarious habits.

In lifting up some moss I once came upon some yellow, half-transparent
eggs about as large as pearl barley, and wishing to know what they would
prove to be I kept them in damp moss under a tumbler for about a
fortnight, when, to my dismay, I found a grand colony of yellow slugs!
and not a little was I teased about these interesting young people. I am
afraid I must own they were given as a _bonne bouche_ to my Virginian
nightingale, who seemed highly to approve of this addition to his daily
fare. Snails' eggs are nearly white and semi-transparent; the empty
shells of young snails are very lovely when placed in a good microscope:
the polariscope bringing out their exquisite prismatic tints.

The gardener one day brought in a testacella, or shelled slug. It fed
upon earth-worms and was quite unlike the ordinary black or grey slug,
of which we have, alas! countless thousands preying upon all the green
things of the earth. This shelled slug was yellow, and seemed able to
elongate its body very differently to any other species. The shell was
quite small, a simple dome-shaped plate upon the anterior part of the
body. I kept it for some weeks on damp moss under a tumbler, but it was
often able to escape by flattening itself to a mere thread and then
crawling under the rim of the tumbler, and at last I gave it liberty as
a reward for its persevering efforts to obtain its freedom.




I had often read of the earwig as an incubating insect, and much wished
to see for myself how she carried out her motherly instincts. One bright
May morning found me busily turning over stones, clinkers, and old
tree-roots in a fernery, which, having been long undisturbed, seemed a
likely spot for the nest I wished to find. There seemed no scarcity of
worms, wood-lice, centipedes, or beetles, but no earwigs could I see;
and I was just about to give up the search when, lifting a piece of
stone, I saw a small cavity, about as large as would contain a pea, and
in it lay about twenty-six round, white eggs, hard-shelled and shining,
of the size of a small pin's head. An earwig had placed herself over the
eggs, and I was delighted to think at last I had lighted upon the insect
mother I had been searching for. But what was to be done with her? How
could I watch the process of incubation? The difficulty was solved by
lifting the nest and its mother with a trowel and placing it in a saucer
under a tumbler, without any displacement of the eggs; thus the mother's
care could be conveniently watched. The earwig first carefully examined
her new home, touching each morsel of earth and stone with her antennæ;
and, having ascertained the exact condition of things, she set to work
to make a fresh nest, labouring with great industry until it was formed
to her mind. She then took up the eggs, one by one, with her mandibles,
and placed them in the new nest, arranging and rearranging them, until
at last she seemed content, and remained either upon or near them for
the rest of the day, quite motionless.

Every night, and sometimes two or three times in the day, she would
form fresh places in the earth, and replace the eggs. To prevent the
soil becoming too dry, I used to sprinkle a little water upon it--a drop
here and there--and if by accident the water fell too near the eggs, the
earwig became much excited, hurrying to and fro with her eggs, until
they were all removed to a drier spot. On the other hand, if I omitted
the water until the earth became dry, she would choose the dampest spot
that remained in which to form her nest, and seemed to welcome the
water-drops, drinking herself from them, and feeling the damp earth with
her antennæ. She remained thus for three weeks, feeding on little pieces
of beef or mutton, or an occasional fly; I did not then know that
earwigs are mostly vegetable feeders, but it is clear they can eat other
food when needful. The first time I dropped a newly-killed house-fly
near her she looked at it intently, felt it with her antennæ, and then
suddenly wheeled round and pinched it with her forceps, and being
apparently satisfied that it could do no harm to her eggs, she began to
devour it, and after an hour or two but little remained except the

As it was early in the year, but few insects could be seen, but by
searching in the conservatory I found a large green aphis, which I gave
to the earwig. To my surprise, instead of devouring it at once, she
applied herself to one of the projecting tubes of the aphis, and
evidently sucked its sweet secretion, and enjoyed it as much and in the
same way as ants are said to do. She feasted thus for four or five
minutes, but I am sorry to add that, unlike the humane ants, who care
tenderly for their aphides and preserve their lives by kind treatment,
the earwig ended by munching up the unfortunate aphis, till not a trace
of it was left.

At the end of three weeks I found one morning all the eggs were hatched,
and tiny, snow-white earwigs, with forceps and antennæ fully developed,
were creeping about and around their mother. I placed a slice of pear in
the saucer, upon which the little ones swarmed, and seemed to find it
congenial food. In a few days they increased to nearly double their size
when first hatched, and turned a light brown colour. Having ascertained
all I wished to know about the maternal instincts of the earwig, I
released the mother and her family, and no doubt she was happy enough to
return to her old haunt in the fernery, and would greatly prefer
tree-roots and stones to my tumbler-and-saucer arrangement.


[Illustration: EGYPTIAN BEETLES.]


On reading books on Egypt and the voyage up the Nile, one is sure to
find some mention of the curious beetle which is found along the banks
of the river, especially in Nubia, where the shore is traceried with the
footprints of the busy little creature. Miss Edwards, in her very
interesting book, "A Thousand Miles up the Nile," thus speaks of it:
"Every one knows how this scarab was adopted by the Egyptians as an
emblem of creative power and the immortality of the soul; it is to be
seen in the wall-sculptures, on the tombs, cut out in precious stones
and worn as an ornament, buried in the mummy-cases, and a figure of the
beetle forms a hieroglyph, and represents a word signifying 'To be and
to transform.' If actual worship was not paid to _Scaraboeus Sacer_,[1]
it was, at any rate, regarded with the greatest reverence and a vast
amount of symbolism drawn from its various characteristics."

[Footnote 1: Or _Ateuchus Sacer_.]

I had often wished to see this insect alive, and one day my wish was
very unexpectedly gratified by the arrival of a small tin box in which I
found a specimen of the sacred beetle swathed in wet linen like a
veritable mummy, only, instead of being an Egyptian specimen, this had
come from a kind friend at the Riviera, who knew that the same species
existed there, and had sent me this one by post. The scarab was at once
named "Cheops," and treated with all the respect due to his ancient
family traditions.

His wants were easily supplied: a deep tin box, with earth and moss
slightly damped, gave him space for exercise; and then for food--alas!
that his tastes should be so degraded--he had to be supplied with
cow-dung! This could be done in secret, and judiciously hidden by fair,
green moss; but when exhibiting my cherished pet to admiring friends
the first question was sure to be, "What does he feed upon?" and one had
to take refuge in vague generalities about organic substances, &c.,
which might mean anything, and then, by diverting attention to some
point of interest apart from the food question, the difficulty was
generally overcome.

I kept a close watch to see if the beetle would be led by instinct to
form its round pellets of mud as is its custom on the banks of the Nile,
and having placed its egg in the centre, it begins to roll it from the
margin of the river until it is above high-water mark. There it digs a
hole and buries the pellet, leaving the sun to hatch the eggs in due
time. Travellers who have watched the process describe the untiring way
in which both the male and female beetle roll these pellets, often
falling down with their burden into holes and ridges in the rough
ground; but then their comrades will give them help, and, picking up the
ball, they patiently labour on. Walking backwards, having the pellet
between their broad hind legs, they push it up and up until it is
placed in safety. The persevering energy of this insect led the
Egyptians to adopt it as an emblem of the labours of their great deity,
Osiris, or the sun; they also traced a resemblance in the spiny
projections on its head to the rays of the sun.

Great was my delight to find at length that Cheops--even in
captivity--was true to his native instincts, that he had formed a pellet
about the size of a marble and was gravely rolling it with his hind legs
backwards and forwards in his box. Poor captive! he was evidently
puzzled what to do with the precious thing. He had no Nile bank to
surmount, and the sun was hardly warm enough to encourage any hope for
his future family; but he did the only thing that was possible--he set
to work to scoop out a hole of sufficient size, then rolled the pellet
in and covered it over with loose earth. Three such pellets were made at
intervals of a few days; one of them I unearthed and kept as a curio.
The beetle never seemed to miss it, and having done his duty under
difficult circumstances, his mind seemed to be at rest.

I often placed Cheops in my hand to show him to visitors, and there he
would lie feigning to be dead until he was gently stroked over the
elytra, when he would stretch out his antennæ, then his legs by slow
degrees appeared (for he tucked them close to his body out of sight when
frightened), and at last he would begin to walk in a jerky manner, as if
moved by machinery, often stopping to look and listen to be sure that it
was safe to move, and even if busily at work in the earth, if he saw any
one coming near he would stop, draw in his antennæ and limbs and remain

He had a strong and peculiar odour at times, which became more apparent
if he was annoyed. He was infested with a small mite, and though these
were frequently cleared away with water and a camel's-hair brush, they
always reappeared in a day or two, clustering under the thorax between
the first pair of legs, and at times they might be seen racing over his
body with great rapidity. Once Cheops nearly escaped, for I had placed
his box in the sun, and the warmth so excited and waked him up that he
opened his wing-cases, used his gauze-like inner wings, and with a
mighty hum was all but gone in search of his native land, but
fortunately I was near enough to intercept his flight and place him in
safe quarters. After keeping this curious creature in perfect health for
sixteen months, I was much vexed to find him one morning lying in a
shallow pan of water in his box, quite dead. He had overbalanced on to
his back, and, being unable to turn over, had been drowned, though the
water was scarcely half an inch deep. Poor Cheops is enshrined in a
pyramid-shaped box, in which he is often shown and his life-history told
to interested visitors.


[Illustration: TRAP-DOOR SPIDERS.]


Of all the varieties of "creeping things" spiders seem to be the most
universally disliked. I knew well the kind of expression I should see on
the faces of my friends when I produced the box which contained my pet
Tegenaria, a large black spider, long-legged and very swift, a
well-known kind of house-spider.

Happily the box had a glass lid, so the inmate could be seen in comfort;
and when the spider's history was told there was always an interest
created in even this poor despised creature.

When first placed in its new home the Tegenaria began spinning tunnels
of white silky web in various directions across the box. They were
almost as close in texture as fine gauze, and had openings here and
there, so that they formed a kind of labyrinth.

The spider always lived in one corner, curled up, watching for prey, and
when a blue-bottle was put in, and began buzzing, she then rushed up one
tunnel and down another until she could pounce upon her prey.

The fly was quickly killed by her poison fangs, and then carried to the
corner to be consumed at leisure. Unlike the habit of the garden or
diadem spider, no cobweb was rolled round the victim; only the wings
were cut off and the body carried away. After some months I noticed the
corner seemed filled up with web and fragments of insects, and when I
examined it more closely there appeared a large round ball of eggs, over
which the spider had spun some web, and then had collected all the legs
and wings of her prey and stuck them carelessly here and there in the
web so as to conceal her nest, and make it look like the remains of an
old cobweb. Over this nest she kept careful watch. One could not drive
her from it; she only left it for a moment to spring upon a fly, and
would return with her food immediately and resume her watchful life in
the corner. At length the young spiders were hatched in countless
numbers; they crept about the tunnels, and though so minute as to be
mere specks, they were perfect in form, active in seeking for prey, and
appeared perfectly able to take care of themselves and begin life on
their own account.

I had kept the Tegenaria more than a year in confinement, and having
shown such admirable motherly instincts, I thought she had earned the
reward of liberty. No doubt she welcomed "the order of release"! At any
rate, she scampered away under some tree-roots, and possibly resides
there with her numerous family to this day.

Spiders hunt their prey in a variety of ways--some by spinning their
beautiful web, with which we are all familiar; others, as the Zebra
spiders, catch flies by leaping suddenly upon them, and these may often
be seen on window-sills watching some coveted insect, drawing slowly
nearer to the victim, till, by a well-directed spring, it can be
secured. There are nearly three hundred species of spiders in this
country, and nearly all spin and weave their silken threads in some way,
but each in different fashions, according to their mode of life. The
female spider is the spinner, and her supply is about 150 yards. When
she has used that amount a few days' rest will enable her to secrete a
similar quantity.

With great pains the spider's silk has been obtained and woven into a
delicate kind of material; but as each spider only yields one grain of
silk, and 450 were required to produce one yard, the process was found
to be impracticable. The insect possesses silk of two colours,
silver-grey and yellow; one is used for the foundation-lines of the web,
and the other for the interlacing threads. The silk is drawn by the
spider from its four spinnerets, and issues from them in a soft, viscid
state, but it hardens by exposure to the air. If a web is examined with
a magnifying-glass, it will be seen that its threads are closely
studded with minute globules of gum, which is so sticky that flies
caught in the web are held in this kind of birdlime until the spider is
able to spring upon them.

Astronomers and microscopists make use of the strongest lines of the
spider's web to form some of their delicate instruments. The thread is
drawn in parallel lines at right angles across the field of the
eye-piece at equal distances, so as to make a multitude of fine
divisions, scarcely visible to the naked eye, and so thin as to be no
obstacle to the view of the object. One means of classifying spiders is
by the number of eyes they possess. These are usually two, six, or eight
in number. The fangs with which the spider seizes its prey are hollow,
and emit a venomous fluid into the body of the victim, which speedily
benumbs and kills it. In Palestine and other countries a kind of spider
is found which is entirely nocturnal in its habits, and never either
hunts or feeds in daylight, but makes itself a little home, where it
abides safely till sunset. It is called the trap-door spider, from the
curious way in which it protects the entrance to its nest. It bores a
hole in the dry earth of a bank a foot or more in depth, lines the hole
with silk, and forms a lid, or trap-door, which secures the spider from
all intruders. I have one of these nests in which the door is a
wonderful piece of mechanism, quite round and flat, about as large as a
threepenny piece, made of layers of fine earth moistened and worked
together with silk, so that it is tough and elastic and cannot crumble.
The hinge is made of very tough silk, and is so springy that when opened
it closes directly with a snap. The outside is disguised with bits of
moss, glued on so that no one can see where the door is. The only way of
opening it is with a pin, and even then the spider will hold on inside
with his claws, so that it is not easy to overcome his resistance.
Amongst some insects sent to me from Los Angelos is a huge "Mygale," a
hairy monster of very uninviting aspect. When its legs are outspread it
measures nearly six inches across, and one can well believe the stories
one hears of its killing small birds if it finds them on their nests. A
gentleman living in Bermuda is said to have tamed a spider of the
species "Mygale," and made it live upon his bed-curtain and rid him of
the flies and mosquitoes which disturbed his nightly rest. He thus
describes this remarkable pet: "I fed him with flies for a few days,
until he began to find himself in very comfortable quarters, and thought
of spinning a nest and making his home. This he did by winding himself
round and round, combing out the silk from the spinnerets at the end of
his body till he had made a nest as large as a wine-glass, in which he
sat motionless until he saw a fly get inside our gauzy tent; then I
could fancy I saw his eyes twinkle as his victim buzzed about, till,
when it was within a yard or so of him, he took one spring and the fly
was in his forceps, and another leap took him back to his den, where he
soon finished the savoury morsel. Sometimes he would bound from side to
side of the bed and seize a mosquito at every spring, resting only a
moment on the net to swallow it. In another corner of the room was the
nest of a female Mygale of the same species. She spun some beautiful
little silk bags, larger than a thimble, of tough yellow silk, in each
of which she laid more than a dozen eggs. When these hatched the young
spiders used to live on her back until they were old enough to hunt for
themselves. I kept my useful friend on my bed for more than a year and a
half, when, unfortunately, a new housemaid spied his pretty brown house,
pulled it down, and crushed under her black feet my poor companion."
This kind of spider, or an allied species, captures large butterflies in
the tropical woods by hanging strong silken noozes from branches of
trees, and they have been seen to kill small birds by this method. One
of our British spiders lives under water in a dome-like cell of silk,
which is filled with air like a diving-bell by the spider carrying down
successive globules of air between its legs, which it liberates under
the dome until it is filled; and the young are hatched there.

The spider, on its way through the water, never gets wet. It is hairy,
and is enveloped in a bubble of air, in which it moves about protected
from wet and well supplied with air to breathe. As the spider's supply
of food is always precarious, they are able to live a long time without
eating. One is known to have lived eighteen months corked up in a
phial, where it could obtain no food; but though thus able to fast, the
spider is a voracious feeder, and will eat his own kith and kin when
hard pressed by hunger.

I believe it is now thought that the spider of the Scriptures was a kind
of spiny lizard called the Gecko. One of this species was sent to me
from California, and lived for a few weeks, but as nothing would induce
it to eat, to my great regret it pined and died. It was about as large
as an ordinary full-grown toad, of a speckled grey colour, with rich
brown markings, its head something like a lizard, with large thorny
projections which extended all along the spine. The feet were very
remarkable, each toe being furnished with a sucker which enabled the
Gecko to walk with perfect ease in any position on a wall or pane of
glass without losing its hold; and travellers say that it is a frequent
inmate of Eastern houses, and may be seen catching flies as it creeps
along walls and ceilings.

Many kinds of spiders run with ease upon the surface of ponds and
ditches, and one forms a kind of raft of a few dead leaves woven
together, on which it sits and is blown by the wind hither and thither,
and thus is enabled to prey upon various aquatic insects.

The surface of grass lawns may be seen on autumnal mornings covered with
tiny webs gemmed with dew. We may therefore estimate the immense number
of flies captured by these traps so thickly spread over the grass, and
see in them another proof of the adaptation of each created thing for
its special purpose, and how wonderfully the balance of nature is
maintained, so that one creature keeps another in check, and all work
harmoniously together, according to the will of our great Creator.




In _The Century_, for June, 1883, Mr. Gosse described a monument, in
which the sculptor had carved a child holding out her hand for
butterflies to perch on. He went on to say that this was criticised as
improbable, even by so exact an observer as the late Lord Tennyson. It
may therefore be of some interest to record the following facts from my
personal experience.

One summer I watched the larvæ of the swallow-tailed butterfly through
their different stages, and reserved two chrysalides to develop into
the perfect insect. In due time one of these fairy-like creatures came
out. I placed it in a small Indian cage, made of fine threads of bamboo.
A carpet of soft moss and a vase of flowers in the centre made a
pleasant home for my tiny "Psyche."

I found that she greatly enjoyed a repast of honey; when some was placed
on a leaf within her reach, she would uncoil her long proboscis and draw
up the sweet food with great apparent enjoyment.

She was so tame that it became my habit, once or twice a day, to take
her on my finger; and while I walked in the garden she would take short
flights hither and thither, but was always content to mount upon my hand
again. She would come on my finger of her own accord, and, if the day
was bright, would remain there as long as I had patience to carry her,
with her wings outspread, basking in the sunbeams, which appeared to
convey exquisite delight to the delicate little creature.

I never touched her beautiful wings. She never fluttered or showed any
wish to escape, but lived three weeks of tranquil life in her tiny
home; and then having, as I suppose, reached the limit of butterfly
existence, she quietly ceased to live.

On the day of her death the other butterfly emerged, and lived for the
same length of time. Both were equally tame, but the second showed more
intelligence, for she discovered that by folding her wings together she
could easily walk between the slender bars of the cage; and having done
so she would fly to a window, and remain there basking in the sun,
folding and unfolding her wings with evident enjoyment, until I
presented my finger, when she would immediately step upon it and be
carried back to her cage.

The tameness of these butterflies I ascribed in great measure to the
fact of their having been hatched from chrysalides, and having therefore
never known the sweets of liberty. I often wondered if really wild
specimens could be won by gentle kindness and made happy in confinement,
and one bright summer's day I resolved to try. A "Painted Lady" had been
seen in the garden the day before, and I soon caught sight of her making
rapid flights from one bed of flowers to another, and when resting for
a few minutes, folding and unfolding her wings on the gravel path, I
crept slowly up to her with a drop of honey on my finger to try and make
friends; but my "lady" was coy, "she would and she wouldn't," and after
letting me come within a few inches with my tempting repast, she floated
away, out of sight, and I feared she would not be willing to give me
another chance; however, I waited quietly, and in a few minutes she
alighted at a little distance. I again drew near very slowly, and again
she sailed away, but the third time she gained confidence enough to
reach out her proboscis and taste the honey, and finally crept upon my
finger. I very gently placed the light bamboo cage over her and brought
her indoors; she, all the while, entranced with the sweet food, remained
quietly on my finger, and when satisfied, crept upon a flower in the
middle of the cage, and after a few flutterings round her cage seemed
content and folded her delicate wings to rest. Whilst engaged in her
capture I had observed a "Red Admiral" hovering over some dahlias, and
thinking "Cynthia"[2] might like a companion, I tried my blandishments
upon him. I had not much hope of success, for though a bold, fearless
fellow, he is very wary, and his powerful wings bear him away in swift
flight when alarmed. Many a circle did I make around that dahlia bed!
"Admiral" always preferred the opposite side to where I stood, and
calmly crossed over whilst I went round. At last, by long and patient
waiting, he, too, allowed me to come near and present my seductive food
to his notice--the wiry proboscis was uncoiled and felt about for the
honey; once plunged into that, all volition seemed to cease, he allowed
me to coax him upon my finger, and he, too, was safely caged; but he
behaved very differently from "fair Cynthia." The moment his repast was
ended he flapped with desperate force against the bars, and in a minute
he was out and on the window-pane, fluttering to escape. The cage had to
be secured with fine net, and he was replaced and soon quieted down.
Twice a day these delicate little pets would come upon my hand to
receive their sweet food, and appeared perfectly content in captivity.

[Footnote 2: The former Latin name for the "Painted Lady" butterfly]




Many years ago a friend sent me some of these remarkable insects from
the Riviera, and for sixteen months I fed them as regularly as possible,
but the cold of a remarkably severe winter killed them, to my great
disappointment, as I had hoped to be rewarded by a sight of the perfect

Ant-lions are not, I believe, found in any part of England, so I had to
wait till I could again procure some from the south of France, where
they are frequently met with in dry, sandy places.

Early in March this year (1890) three specimens were sent me and were at
once placed in a box of dry silver sand, where they buried themselves
and remained quietly resting for some hours.

Many of my readers may be interested to know what the ant-lion is like,
and why I thought it worth while to take great pains to rear it. These
young specimens were flat, grey, six-legged creatures about the size of
a small lady-bird, covered with hairs, and possessing two strong forceps
projecting from their heads. They are so formed that they cannot go
forward, but move always backward by a series of jerks. As they live
upon ants and are so strangely formed, they have to resort to stratagem
in order to entrap their prey, and this they do by means of pits formed
in the sand in which they live; into these pits the ants fall, and are
seized by the forceps of the ant-lion, who lies in wait at the bottom.

Many a time have I watched the formation of these pits, and will try to
describe the process. The insect begins describing a small circle on
the surface of the sand by jerking himself backwards and flinging the
sand away with his flat head and closed forceps, which form a kind of
shovel. Each circle is smaller than the last, until the pit is like an
inverted cone, and the ant-lion lies buried at the bottom, only his
forceps being visible. When an ant has fallen headlong down into the pit
it makes frantic efforts to escape, and if the ant-lion sees that it is
likely to get beyond his reach, he then with his forceps flings some
sand at it with such unerring aim the poor victim is sure to roll over
and over until it reaches the jaws of its captor, who feasts upon it and
then flings the remains of the body out of the pit.

One difficulty was how to ensure a supply of ants, but this was overcome
by filling a box with part of an ants' nest, and as these insects
settled down and seemed content with their quarters, they were ready
when wanted, and three times a day the lions had to be fed! One learns
to sacrifice one's feelings in the cause of science, but to the last it
was a real distress to me to have to put the poor little ants where they
would be devoured; but Nature is cruel, and from the real lion to his
insect namesake, preying upon one another seems the prevailing law of
her realm.

As the ant-lions grew, the pits increased in size. At first they were
about as large as a threepenny-piece, but ended by measuring more than
two inches across.

I could not tell whether the insect moulted its skin, as it was always
hidden, but in July, after four months' feeding, the ant-lions changed
into chrysalides, which looked like perfectly round balls of sand.

The box was placed in a warm greenhouse, and in seven weeks' time the
perfect insects appeared. They were like small dragon-flies, with
slender bodies, four black-spotted gauzy wings, two large black eyes and
short antennæ.

I had read about their being nocturnal insects, feeding on flies, so
they had that diet provided for them in the glass globe in which they
were kept, but I could never feel sure that they ate the flies, and
fearing they would be starved I tried giving them a little sweet food, a
drop of raspberry syrup at the end of a twig; it seemed to be the right
thing, for they greedily sucked it in, but in spite of all my care they
only lived four weeks; which, however, is probably the term of their

Whilst I was writing this paper a singular incident occurred. I heard a
strange, wild note, and something brilliant dashed past me to the end of
the room, and there, on a white marble bust sat a lovely kingfisher--a
bird I had hardly ever seen, even at a distance, and here he had come to
pay me a visit in my drawing-room. Would that I could have told him how
welcome he was! but, alas! he darted about the room in wild alarm, flew
against the looking-glasses, and though I tried to guard him from a
plate-glass window, that has often proved fatal to birds, I was too
late; he came with a crash against it and fell down quite dead, his neck
being broken by the force of the blow.

I had heard that a kingfisher had been seen at my lake, and hoped that
the bird might build and become established there; it was, therefore, a
keen regret to me that this bright visitant had met with such an
untimely fate.

[Illustration: THE ROBIN.]


If I once begin to speak about these winning, confiding little birds, I
shall hardly know when to stop. There can scarcely be a more delightful
pet than a wild robin which has learnt to love you, and will come
indoors and be your quiet companion for hours together. One can feel
happy in the thought that he has his liberty and his natural food out of
doors, and that he gives you his companionship freely because he likes
to be with you, and shows that he does, by singing his sweet songs
perched on the looking-glass or some vase of flowers.

Autumn is the best time to begin taming such a little friend. When one
of those brown-coated young birds in his first year's plumage (before
the red feathers show) takes to haunting the window-ledge, or looks up
inquiringly from the gravel path outside, then is the time to throw out
a mealworm, four or five times a day, when the bird appears. He will
soon associate you with his pleasant diet, and come nearer, and grow
daily less fearful, until, by putting mealworms on a mat just inside the
room, he will come in and take them, and at last learn to be quite
content to remain. The first few times the window should be left open to
let him retreat, for unless he feels he can come and go at will he will
probably make a dash at a closed window, not seeing the glass, and be
fatally injured, or else too frightened to return.

Like all other taming, it must be carried on with patience.

One summer, many years ago, we occupied an old-fashioned house in the
country, where, in perfect quietude, one could make acquaintance with
birds and study their habits and manners without interruption. From the
veranda of a large, low-ceilinged sitting-room one looked out upon a
garden of the olden type, full of moss-grown apple-trees, golden
daffodils, lupines and sweet herbs, that pleasant mixture of the kitchen
and flower garden which always seems so enjoyable. It was an ideal home
for birds, no cat was ever visible, and from the numbers of the
feathered folk one could believe that countless generations had been
reared in these apple-trees and lived out their little lives in perfect
happiness. I soon found a friend amongst the robins; one in particular
began to pay me frequent visits as I sat at work indoors. At first he
ventured in rather timidly, took a furtive glance and then flew away,
but finding that crumbs were scattered for him, and while he picked them
up a kindly voice encouraged his advances, he soon became at ease, made
his way into the room and seemed to examine by turns, with birdish
curiosity, all the pieces of furniture and the various ornaments on the
mantelpiece and tables. Much to my pleasure he began to sing to me, and
very pretty he looked, sitting amongst the flowers in a tall vase,
warbling his charming little ditty, keeping his large black eyes fixed
upon me as if to see if I seemed impressed by his vocal efforts.

Once he stopped in the middle of his song, looked keenly at a corner of
the ceiling, and after a swift flight there, he returned with a spider
in his beak; one can well believe what good helpers the insect-eating
birds must be to the gardener, by destroying countless hosts of minute
caterpillars and grubs that would otherwise prey upon the garden
produce. Bobbie continued his visits to me throughout the summer,
remaining happy and content for hours at a time, pluming himself,
singing, and at times investigating the contents of a little cupboard,
where he sometimes discovered a cake which was much to his taste, on
which he feasted without any leave asked, though truly it would have
been readily given to such a pleasant little visitor. He soon showed
such entire confidence in me that he would perch on the book I was
reading, and alight on my lap for crumbs even when many people were in
the room.

When we had to leave this country home I wished that dear Bobbie could
have been packed up to go elsewhere with our other possessions, but
since this could not be, let us hope he still inhabits the old garden
and cheers other home-dwellers with his confiding manners and morning
and evening songs of praise.




After slight intimacies with various robins who were visitors to the
conservatory and found their way in and out at the open windows, I was
led to special friendship with a brown-coated young bird I used often to
see close to the open French window where I was sitting. He was coaxed
into the room by mealworms being thrown to him until he made himself
quite at home indoors. By the time he had attained his red breast the
weather had become too cold for open windows, but Bobbie would sit on
the ledge and wait till I let him in, and then he would be my happy
little companion for the whole morning, flitting all about the room,
along the corridor, into the hall--in fact, he was to be found all over
the house; but when hungry he returned to me as his best friend, because
I was the provider of his delightsome mealworms. It was always amusing
to visitors to see me feed my small fowl! He would be on the alert to
see where his prey was to be found, and he would hunt for it
perseveringly if it happened to fall out of sight. He was often to be
seen perched on the Californian mouse's cage, and I wondered what could
be the attraction; at last I discovered that he coveted mousie's brown
biscuits, and after that he was allowed one for his own use, kept in a
special corner, where a cup of water was also provided for his small

However tame wild birds may seem there will be times when all at once a
sort of intense longing to get out seems to possess them. When this was
the case Bobbie would fly backwards and forwards uttering his plaintive
cry (one of the six kinds of notes by which robins express their
feelings), and his distress was so evident that the window was always
opened at once to let him go out.

I am sorry to have to confess that robins are most vindictive towards
each other! Bobbie maintained a very angry warfare with a hated rival
out-of-doors, in fact his chief occupation in life seemed to be watching
for his enemy. He might often be seen sitting under a small palm in a
pot on the window-ledge, and whilst looking the picture of gentle
innocence he was, I fear, cherishing envy, hatred, and malice in his
naughty little heart, for, all at once, there would be a grand
fluttering and pecking at the window whilst the two little furies, one
inside and the other out, expended their strength in harmless warfare
which only ceased when they were too exhausted to do more, and then
followed on both sides a triumphant song of defiance or victory.

I must now weave into this biography the life-history of a poor robin
which, I suppose, must have been caught in a trap, for it had lost the
lower mandible of its beak, and had only a little knob remaining of the
upper mandible. It haunted the windows, and looked so hungry and
miserable from its inability to pick up its food, that I thought it
kindest to coax it into a cage where it could be fed with suitable food.
By placing mealworms in a cage I at last induced it to hop in, and for
five months it had a very happy life indoors, feeding on soaked brown
bread and all the insect diet I could secure for it. When the cage was
cleaned each morning Bobbie was let out, and would take a bath in a
glass dish, and then fly to the top of the looking-glass, where he would
often remain all day unless we were quick enough to secure his cage-door
when he went in to feed. By the middle of May I thought caterpillars
would be plentiful enough for him to find his own living, so one day he
was released, but unhappily Robert the Second was close by, and the
moment he saw the invalid in his cage on the lawn with the door open, he
rushed in and savagely fought the poor defenceless bird. Before we could
interfere he drove our pet out of his cage, and terrible was the battle
that went on; the beakless bird was driven far away, and I was quite
unhappy about his fate, for he was now beyond my loving care, and I
never expected to see him again. Two months passed by, and I only once
caught a glimpse of the invalid, but at last he came just as before to
the window, looking thin and ill, with ruffled feathers, and evidently
again at starvation point. Once more he entered his cage and began his
old life, only now he was hung under the veranda so as to enjoy fresh
air and the songs of his companions. For two months I endeavoured to
keep the dear little creature happy; we were all so fond of him, and it
seems very touching to think that in his times of extremity he should
have come willingly into captivity and felt sure that a kind welcome
would be accorded him. But no amount of care could bring him through the
moulting season, the lack of a beak to plume his feathers and his great
difficulty in picking up even the mealworms made him weak and sickly. He
got out of his cage one day into the garden, and a few days after we
found his poor little body lying dead close to the window where he had
always found the help he needed, and yet we could not but be glad that
his sorrowful little life was ended.

When robins have been thus tamed for years the families they rear are
like pet birds; they are fed by their parents close to the windows, and
then come indoors, as if they knew they would be welcome everywhere.

There is one feature in the robin's character that, as far as I know, is
shared by no other bird; I mean his adopting a certain spot as his
district and always keeping to it, just as the stickle-backs portion out
a pond and jealously defend the territory they have chosen. Here, there
is a special robin to be found at each of the lodges; one haunts the
Mission Hall and will often sing vigorously from the reading-stand while
classes are going on. A very tame one lives in the coachman's house,
running about the floor like a little brown mouse, and sitting inside
the fender on cold days to warm himself. He must have met with trouble
in his early youth, for when first seen he was very lame, and had lost
the sight of one eye. Through kind care he has become well and strong,
but he is much at the mercy of his enemies, who often attack him on his
blind side. The conservatory, dining-room, and drawing-rooms have each
their little redbreast visitor; the latter is so tame he will take
meal-worms from my hand, and sits on my inkstand singing a sweet, low
song whilst I write. As long as each bird keeps to his domain there is
peace, but woe to any intruder! The conflicts are desperate, and I have
often to mediate, and separate two little furies rolling over and over
on the ground. I suppose it is in this way that the idea has arisen
about the young robins killing the old ones; I cannot ascertain that it
has any foundation--in fact, every robin fights his neighbour all the
year through, except when paired and busy with domestic duties. As dead
redbreasts are not found specially in autumn, I do not think there can
be any truth in the superstition.



On wintry mornings, when leaf and twig are decked with hoar-frost and
the ground is hard and dry, affording no food for the birds, it is a
piteous sight to see them cowering under the evergreens with ruffled
feathers, evidently starving and miserable, quietly waiting for the
death that must overtake many of them unless we come to their rescue.

It is one of my delights to feed the small "feathered fowls" through all
the winter months, and I only wish all my readers could enjoy with me
the lovely scenes of happy bird life to be witnessed through the French
window opposite my writing-table. These gatherings of birds are the
result of many years of persistent kindness and thought for the welfare
of my bird pets. Their tameness cannot be attained all at once; it takes
time to establish confidence; it needs thought about the kinds of food
required by various species of birds, regularity in feeding, and quiet
gentleness of manner to avoid frightening any new and timid visitors.
Doubtless there are very many lovers of birds who share this pleasure
with me, but for those who may not happen to know how to attract the
feathered tribes I will go a little into detail.

This being a large garden near game preserves, and surrounded by a wide,
furze-covered common, I have been able to attract and tame the ordinary
wild pheasants by putting out Indian corn, buckwheat, and raisins, till
now they come to the doorstep and look up with their brilliant,
red-ringed eyes, and feed calmly whilst I watch them. It is a really
beautiful sight to see three or four cock birds, with their
golden-bronze plumage glistening like polished metal as the morning sun
rests upon them, and as many of their more sober-coloured mates
feasting on the dainties they find prepared for them; as a rule, they
are very amicable and feed together like barndoor fowls. When satisfied,
the brown hens run swiftly away to cover, while the cocks, with greater
confidence, walk quietly away in stately fashion, or remain under the

Wood-pigeons are usually very shy and wary birds, yet these also come,
six and eight at a time, and feed at my window, Indian corn and peas
being their specialities. I have large quantities of beech-nuts and
acorns collected every autumn, and thus I can scatter this food also for
pigeons and squirrels all through the winter. Jays, jackdaws, rooks, and
magpies also approve of acorns and beech-nuts, so it is doing a real
kindness to tribes of birds to reserve this food for them until their
other stores are exhausted, and we can thus bring them within our view
and study their interesting ways, their modes of feeding, and, I fear I
must add, their squabbles also, for hungry birds are very pugnacious.

Blackbirds and thrushes are very fond of Sultana raisins; they also like
split groats and brown bread crumbs, as also do starlings and, I
believe, most of the smaller birds. Fat in any shape or form will
attract the various species of titmice to the window. I always keep a
small Normandy basket full of suet and ham-fat hanging on a nail at the
window. It is a great rendezvous for these charming little pets, and it
is also supplied with Barcelona nuts for nuthatches, who fully
appreciate them and carry them off to the nearest tree with rugged bark
into which they fix the nuts, and then hammer at the shell till they can
extract the contents.

In very hard frosts I used always to put out a pan of water, as I feared
the birds suffered from thirst and needed this help. One day, however, I
was comforted to see some starlings, after a good meal of groats, run
off to the grass plot and eagerly peck at the hoar-frost, which, while
it exists, thus supplies the lack of water.

Bewick says linnets are so named from their fondness for linseed, and I
think most of the finches like it. The greenfinch is soon attracted by
hemp seed, and all the smaller birds by canary seed. I hope this paper
may induce many kind hands to minister to the needs of our feathered
friends during the winter months. It is sad to think of their dying for
lack of the food we can so easily afford them, and they will be sure to
repay us by their sweet songs and confiding tameness when summer days

One is apt to think that winter is the only time when birds need our
help and bounty, but there is almost as much real distress after a long
drought in summer, especially amongst the insect-eating birds.

I was led to think of this by the pathetic way in which a hen blackbird
came to the French window of my room early in June last and stood
patiently waiting and clicking time after time in trouble of _some_ kind
I knew, and, supposing it might be food, I threw out a plentiful supply
of soaked brown bread. At once the poor bird went to it, devouring
ravenously for her own needs, and then, filling her beak as full as it
would hold, she flew off with a supply for her young brood. Then came
thrushes, robins, sparrows, a whole bevy of feathered folk all doing the
same thing--carrying the provisions in every direction for unseen
families at starvation point, and I began to realize that the month of
continued sunshine in which we had rejoiced had brought great distress
upon the birds by drying up the lawns so that no worms could be found,
and, as it was early in the year, but few insects were to be had, so
that just when each pair of birds had a clamorous brood to provide for
the food supply had fallen short. Now I understood the pathos of the hen
blackbird's appeal; her dark eyes and note of distress were trying to
say to me, "I know you care for us; you seemed so kind last winter; when
we were without food you fed us and saved our lives; but now I am in far
deeper distress--my children are crying for food, the grass is dried up,
and the ground so hard that I cannot find a single worm, I am thin and
worn with hunger myself; do help me and my little ones, and we will sing
you sweet songs in return to cheer you when wintry days come back again.
Does she understand? I've said all this several times before, but I
thought I would make one last appeal before my children die. Yes; she
has left the room! I will wait. Ah! here it is, just the soft food that
will suit my little ones: how they _will_ rejoice and all want to be
fed at once. I hope my friend can understand that I am thanking her with
all my heart." Love has a universal language and can interpret through
varied signs, and thus I quite believe the mother bird's heart wished to
express itself.

Ever since that day I have been careful in nesting time to supply
suitable and varied food for the families of young birds in times of
drought, for it seems mournful to think of their dying from want, in the
season of flowers and green leaves, when nature is to us so attractive,
and rendered all the more so by their sweet songs.




This familiar name recalls the delightful story of "Rab and his Friends"
in "Horæ Subsicivæ," with its naïve description of a very original
"tyke" of a doggie--a biography which had so lived in my recollection
that when a queer little fluffy dumpling of a puppy was given me I could
not help giving it the old familiar name, little knowing how aptly true
the name would prove to be in after years.

Is there anything more comical than a young Scotch terrier puppy, with
its preternatural gravity, its queer, ungainly attempts at play, its
tumbles, and blue-eyed simplicity, and, best of all, its sage look, with
head on one side, trying to consider the merits of some doggie idea
which is puzzling his infant brain? Rab went through all the stages of
puppyhood, showing the usual amount of mischief and fun; he might be met
carrying about some unfortunate slipper frayed to pieces by his busy
teeth, or burying a favourite bone under a wool mat in the drawing-room,
or, worse still, it is recorded in domestic chronicles that he buried a
hymn-book in the garden, whereupon the cook remarked that she believed
he had more religion in him than half the Christians; but that reasoning
was not apparent to any one but herself.

Rab's most notable adventures took place after he had emerged from
puppyhood. He had a most indomitable spirit of disobedience; he would
hunt rabbits or anything else he could find in the woods, and one day he
reached home with a snare tightly drawn round his neck, and panting
distressingly for breath; the wire was cut only just in time to save
his life.

Another time he was poisoned by something he had eaten, and had a long
suffering illness.

His fights with other dogs were fierce and frequent, and whilst engaged
in a scrimmage with a hated rival, Rab was run over by a passing cart,
and limped home in a very dejected state; no bones were broken, but he
was an invalid for some months in consequence.

At last it was thought needful to tie him up, and he had his appointed
house and a long chain, and with frequent exercise he became quite
content. One morning our brave little friend was found nearly dead, with
two terrible wounds in his neck, which must have been made by a sharp
knife, driven twice through his throat, but, strangely enough, had each
time just missed severing the wind-pipe. He had nearly died from loss of
blood, and was scarcely able to breathe; still, our kind servants did
not give him up; warm milk and beef tea were given him constantly
through the day; and by night he had revived a little, and was evidently
going to live. We could never trace the origin of this outrage, and
could only suppose that burglars had purposed breaking into our house,
and, enraged at Rab's barking, had at last got hold of, and, as they
thought, killed him, and flung the body into an adjoining field. Poor
little doggie! he suffered grievously for his brave defence, and for
months the wounds were a great distress to him and to us; but all that
loving care could do was done, and once more his wonderful constitution
enabled him to regain health and strength. We kept at that time several
very large mastiffs, and the next adventure occurred early one morning,
when we were aroused by a terrific noise in the stable-yard, and the
message brought to us was to the effect that Rab was quite dead. He had
been worried by one of the mastiffs which had got loose in the night. I
rose quickly and went to see the poor little victim's body, and looking
at it, I saw a little quiver in the eyelid that led to a gleam of hope.
I had him carried indoors, and again teaspoons of milk, &c., were given,
and actually he began to revive, and a feeble wag of his tail, seemed to
say, "I'm very bad, but not dead yet." The sad part was that the shaking
and worrying he had received had reopened the previous wounds, and
though after a time he was able to get about, he was quite a wreck; one
ear was gone, and the other, strange to say, was but a fragment, like
his namesake in "Rab and his Friends." Still, he lived to be nearly
fifteen, and then rheumatism and loss of teeth made his life a distress
to him, and he was peacefully dismissed to the rest he had bravely
earned by his life of courageous devotion to what he thought the path of




There is an old and true saying--"Everything comes to him who waits." I
thought of this saying while on my way to visit the well-known place
near the London Docks where Mr. Jamrach is supposed to keep almost every
rare animal, bird, and reptile, ready to supply the wants of all
customers at a moment's notice. For many long years I had wished to pay
him a visit, but ill-health and other causes had proved a hindrance and
I could hardly believe my wish was going to be realized when I found
myself on the way to his menagerie. After driving through a labyrinth of
narrow, dirty streets, we were at last obliged to get out and walk till
we came to the shop, and then we did indeed find ourselves in the midst
of "animated nature." We had landed amongst the cockatoos, macaws, and
parrots, and they greeted our arrival with such a chorus of shrieks,
screams, and hideous cries that my first desire was to rush away
anywhere out of the reach of such ear-piercing sounds. One had to bear
it, however, if the curious creatures in the various cages were to be
examined, and after a time the uproar grew less, and I could hear a word
or two from Mr. Jamrach, who called my attention to some armadillos,
huge armour-plated animals, very curious, but somehow not attractive as
pets; one could not fondle a thing composed of metal plates, shaped like
a pig, with a tendency to roll itself up into a ball on the slightest
provocation, and even Mr. Jamrach's argument that if I got tired of it
as a pet I could have it cooked, as they were excellent eating, failed
to lead me to a purchase. There was a fine, healthy toucan, with his
marvellous bill, looking sadly out of place in a small cage in such a
dingy place. Did he ever think of his tropical forest home, I wondered,
and wish himself in happier surroundings? A long wooden box with wire
front contained rows and rows of Grass Parrakeets: many hundreds must
have been on those perches, one behind the other, poor little patient
birdies, sitting in solemn silence, never moving an inch, for they were
wedged in as closely as they could sit and how they could eat and live
seemed a mystery. As I was in quest of some small rodents I was asked to
follow Mr. Jamrach to another place where the animals were kept. We came
to a back yard with dens and cages containing all kinds of tenants, from
fierce hyenas and wolves to tame deer, monkeys, cats, and dogs. A chorus
of yelps and barks and growls sounded a little uninviting, and a caution
from Jamrach, to mind the camel did not seize my young friend's hat,
made us aware of a stately form gazing down upon us from a recess we had
not before noticed. Every nook and corner seemed occupied, and in order
to see a kangaroo rat I was invited up a rickety ladder into a loft
where a Japanese cat, a large monkey, and sundry other creatures lived.
I did not take to the kangaroo rat, he was too large and formidable to
be pleasant, and was by no means tame, but to be pulled out of the cage
by his long tail was, I confess, enough to scare the mildest quadruped.
At length I was shown some Peruvian guinea-pigs. Wonderful little
creatures! With hair three or four inches long, white, yellow and black,
set on anyhow, sticking out in odd tufts, one side of their heads white
and the other black, their eyes just like boot buttons, they _were_
captivating; and a pair had to be chosen forthwith, and packed in a
basket with a tortoise and a huge Egyptian lizard, and with these spoils
I was not sorry to leave this place of varied noises and smells. The
lizard was about fourteen inches long, a really grand creature. He came
from the ruins of ancient Egypt, and looked in his calm stateliness as
though he might have gazed upon the Pharaohs themselves. When placed in
the sun for a time he would sometimes deign to move a few inches, his
massive, grey, scaly body looking very like a young crocodile. I was
greatly teased about my fondness for "Rameses," as I called this new and
majestic pet; there was a great fascination about him, and as I really
wished to know more of his ways and habits, I carried the basket in
which he lived everywhere with me indoors and out, and studied all
possible ways of feeding him; but alas! nothing would induce him to eat.
After gazing for five minutes at the most tempting mealworm, he would at
last raise up his mighty head and appear to be revolving great ideas to
which mealworms and all sublunary things must give place. Jamrach told
me that the lizard would drink milk, so a saucerful was placed before
him, and once he did drink a few drops, but generally he walked into and
over the saucer as if it did not exist.

I believe the poor creature had been without food so long that it had
lost the power of taking nourishment, and to my great regret I found it
grew weaker and thinner, and at last it died, and all I could do was to
send the remains to a naturalist to be preserved somewhat after the
fashion of its great namesake.

The odd little guinea-pigs were named Fluff and Jamrach, and were a
source of much amusement. As they could not agree, and as the fights
grew serious, Jamrach was banished to the stable and Fluff occupied a
cage in the dining-room. When let out it was curious to see how he would
always keep close to the sides of the room--never would he venture into
the middle, the protection of the skirting board seemed indispensable,
and when let out under the tulip-tree he ran round the trunk in the same
way, only occasionally making an excursion to the edge of the branches
which rested on the ground, the space beyond was a _terra incognita_
which could not be explored by the timid little beastie.

There the two little guinea-pigs enjoyed a happy life on fine days and
grew to be friends at last, grunting little confidences one to the other
and going to sleep side by side. They had to be watched and their
liberty a good deal curtailed when we found a weasel began to appear
upon the scene, and as it is proverbially difficult to catch a weasel
either awake or asleep, he has not at present been captured. I much fear
if he ever attacked the little Peruvians they would stand a poor chance
of their lives, for they have no idea of self-defence and would fall an
easy prey to such a fierce, relentless persecutor. Perhaps the gardener
may devise some way of trapping the wary little creature, so that my
little friends may dwell in peace under the shady tree.

As the winter came on the cold prevented Fluff going out-of-doors, and
he led a most inactive life. I don't think he ever had more than two
ideas in his little brain--he just lived to eat and sleep, and was about
as interesting as a stuffed animal would have been. He is the only
instance of any animal I have ever known who seemed to be literally
without a single habit, apparently without affection, without a temper
good or bad, with no wishes or desires except to be let alone to doze
away his aimless life.




There is all the difference between taking a walk simply for exercise,
for some special errand, or to enjoy conversation with one's friends,
and the sort of quiet observant stroll I am going to ask my kind readers
to take with me to-day.

This beautiful world is full of wonders of every kind, full of evidences
of the Great Creator's wisdom and skill in adapting each created thing
to its special purpose. The whole realm of nature is meant, I believe,
to _speak to us_, to teach us lessons in parables--to lead our hearts
upward to God who made us and fitted us also for our special place in

In the nineteenth Psalm David speaks of the two great books God has
given us for our instruction. In the first six verses he speaks of the
teachings of the book of nature and the rest of the Psalm deals with the
written Word of God.

We acknowledge and read the Scriptures as the book which reveals the
will of God and His wondrous works for the welfare of mankind, but how
many fail to give any time or thought to reading the book of nature!
Thousands may travel and admire beautiful scenery, and derive a certain
amount of pleasure from nature, just glancing at each object, but really
observing nothing, and thus failing to learn any of the lessons this
world's beauty is intended to teach, they might almost as well have
stayed at home save for the benefit of fresh air and change of scene.
The habit of minute and careful observation is seldom taught in
childhood, and is not very likely to be gained in later life when the
mind is filled with other things. Yet if natural objects are presented
attractively to the young, how quickly they are interested! Question
after question is asked, and unconsciously a vast amount of information
may be conveyed to an intelligent child's mind by a simple, happy little
chat about some bird or insect. This is _admirably_ shown in a chapter
on Education in the Life of Mrs. Sewell. I would strongly urge every
mother to read and follow the advice there given.

We will now start for our garden walk. We have not taken many steps
before we are led to pause and inquire why there should be little
patches of grey-looking mud in the small angles of the brickwork of the
house. Opening one of the patches with a penknife we find a hollow cell,
and in it some green caterpillars just alive but not able to crawl. Now
I see that the cell is the work of one of the solitary mason wasps; she
brings the material, forms the cell, and when nearly finished lays her
egg at the bottom and provides these half-killed caterpillars as food
for the young grub when it is hatched, and by the time they are eaten
the grub becomes a pupa and then hatches into a young wasp to begin life
on its own account. One day I saw a bee go into a hole in the brickwork
of the house, and getting my net I waited to capture it; after about
five minutes the bee came out and flew into the net. It proved to be a
solitary mason bee, and was doubtless forming a place to lay its egg,
only, unlike the wasp, she would give the young grub pollen from the
stamens of flowers to feed upon instead of green caterpillars. I
remember seeing a mass of clay which had been formed into a wasp's nest
by one of the solitary species, under the flap of a pembroke table in an
unused room. A maid in dusting lifted up the flap, and down fell a
quantity of fine, dry mud with young grubs in it which would soon have
hatched into wasps, and revealed their rather strange nesting-place. I
have in my collection a very interesting hornet's nest, which was being
constructed in the hollow of an old tree. I happened to notice a hornet
fly into the opening, and, looking in, there was a small beginning of a
nest. It hung from a kind of stalk and consisted of only eight cells,
each having an egg at the bottom. I captured the two hornets, and though
I watched for a long time no others ever came, so I imagine they were
the founders of what would have been a colony in due time.

But we have been kept a long time engaged with these mason wasps. Let us
start for our walk. As we take our way through the garden we cannot help
noticing the happy songs of the different birds, all in full activity
preparing their nests, carolling to their mates or seeking food for the
little ones. There is a loud tapping noise as we pass an old fir-tree,
but no bird is to be seen, so we go round to the other side and trace
the noise to a small hole near which a quantity of congealed turpentine
shows that the bark has been pierced by a woodpecker and the sap is
oozing out. I rap outside the hole and in a minute the grey head of a
nuthatch appears. He is evidently chiselling out a "highly desirable
residence" for his summer quarters in this cosy nook, and the hole being
so small he will not need to get clay to reduce the size of the opening
and plaster in his mate, which is said to be the curious habit of this
bird. Do you see that hole about forty feet up the stem of the beech
opposite? A nuthatch built there six years ago; I often watched him
going in and out, and heard his peculiar cry as he brought food for his
mate and her young ones. Next year that lodging was taken by a
starling, who reared a brood there. The year after the nuthatch had it,
and then a jackdaw built there; and each year I always feel interested
to see who the lodgers are going to be.

When I was rearing the wild ducks already described, a weasel used often
to be prowling near the coop, and when frightened retreated in this
direction. It happened one day I was walking softly on the grass and saw
the weasel playing and frisking at the root of that young tree; one
seldom has such an opportunity of seeing it, for it is very shy and has
wonderfully quick hearing. It was seeking about in the grass, leaping
here and there, snuffing the wind, with its snake-like, wicked-looking
head raised to see over the grass stems, and thus at last it caught
sight of me, and in a second it darted into the hole you see there, and
I thus learnt where he lived, but I have not been able to trace his
history any further at present.

Did you see that snake? We have many of them on the common, and they
often cross my path in the garden. Happily there are not many of the
venomous kind: they are smaller than this one, and have a V-shaped mark
on the head. One day in August I was sitting by the open French window
in the drawing-room when one of these harmless snakes came close to me,
looked up at me, putting its quivering little tongue in and out. I
suppose it decided that I could be trusted, for it glided in and coiled
itself round upon my dress skirt and seemed to go to sleep. I let it
stay a good while, but fearing some one might be frightened at seeing it
there, I reached my parasol and with the hooked handle softly took up
the snake and laid it on the grass-plat outside thinking it would go
away--but no, it only turned round and came back and coiled itself up in
the same place. I found it did not mind being touched, so I stroked it
and made it creep all its length through my hand--not a very pleasant
sensation, but a curious experience rarely to be met with. When the
cold, clammy creature had passed out of my hand it threw out a most
disgusting odour, of which I had often read. I imagine it was offended
at my touching it and did this in self-defence. I had at last to carry
it a long distance to ensure it should not return to the room again.

Some years ago I was witness to the mode in which a snake pursues its
victim. A large frog leaped upon the gravel walk before the windows,
crying piteously like a child and taking rapid leaps; a moment after a
large snake appeared swiftly pursuing the frog. At last it reached it,
and gave it a bite which broke its back, and then, being alarmed, it
darted away amongst some rock-work, leaving the frog in a dying state.

This bank we are passing is a favourite winter retreat for female humble
bees. Early in the autumn they begin to scoop out a little tunnel in
this grassy slope, and when it is deep enough to protect them from the
frost they retire into it, and pushing up the earth behind them close up
the entrance of the hole, and there lie dormant until the warmth of
spring tempts them to come out. Then they may be found in great numbers
on the early sallow, and other tree-blossoms, recruiting their strength,
while they seek a place in some hedge-bank wherein to found a new

The Carder bee forms its nest on the ground and makes a roof of
interwoven moss, from which it takes its name. I once gathered the moss
from such a nest by chance and saw the little mass of cells with honey
in them. I went away, meaning to examine it more closely on my return,
but a crow in the apple-tree overhead chanced to spy the nest and made
off with it in his beak before I could rescue the honey store of the
poor little bees I had so unwittingly injured.

That old tree-stump is being gradually carried away by wasps. The wood
is just sufficiently decayed to afford the material of which they make
their nests. You see there are several wasps busily rasping pieces of
the rotten wood into convenient-sized morsels, which they can carry to
the nest, there to be masticated into the papery layers of which the
outer walls of the nest are formed. This walk used to have a row of
grand old silver firs of great height, but each winter some of them have
been blown down till only a few are left.

Some years since I noticed at the root of one of them a pile of fine
sawdust more than a foot high, and found that some wood wasps were
busily engaged in excavating the interior of the tree and forming
tunnels in which to lay their eggs. I watched them for half an hour and
found that every half-minute a wasp went in at the aperture carrying a
blue-bottle or some kind of fly in its mandibles. Next day I took a
friend to see the wasps, and while watching them the wind caused the
immense tree-stem to sway to and fro from its base as if in the act of
falling, and on examination we found it was only held in its place by a
small portion of root, and though the branches were green, it must have
been hollow and dead inside, which appears to be the way in which silver
firs decay, and the wasps had found it out and made a delightful home in
the rotten wood. With some difficulty the great tree was safely taken
down, and then it was a most curious sight to see the endless chambers
and galleries made in the stem, all tenanted by young wasp-grubs and
half-dead flies; and all the summer they were being hatched in countless
numbers. The view over our common is lovely from this point; it is
golden with rich yellow gorse, giving cover to innumerable rabbits,
which find their way into our garden in spite of wire fences and all
that the gardener can do to keep them out. One clever little mother
rabbit made her burrow deep down in a heap of sawdust close to the
stable. My coachman put his arm down to the bottom of the hole and
brought out a little grey furred creature, kicking and screaming with
wonderful vigour in spite of its tender years. The nest was allowed to
remain, and in a few days the mother removed her brood to a hole at the
root of a bushy stone-pine, where the little ones frisked in and out and
looked so pretty that I was won over to allow them to stay, and, by
netting round the tree, we formed a miniature warren for the young
family; but I fear that in course of time we may bitterly repent this
step, and the numbers may increase to such an extent that pinks and
lobelia may become things of the past and the rabbit warren may have to
be abolished.

A fox is sometimes seen and hunted in these parts. One surprised me by
leaping upon the window-sill and looking into the drawing-room. At first
I could not think what it was. It had been dug out of its hole; its fur
was muddy and torn, its eyes piteous in their expression, and when it
ran slowly on I saw it was very lame. I ran to the window to let it in,
but though it leaped up to each window in succession, they all happened
to be shut, and I was quite grieved to think the poor, weary creature
could find no shelter. I am no admirer of field-sports. I think they
give rise to the utmost cruelty to the creatures hunted and shot, to the
horses and dogs employed; and to witness torture inflicted on
unoffending animals cannot but have a debasing effect on the human mind.
When once any one has seen the anguish of a deer, a fox, or hare, at the
end of the race, there can be no question about the cruelty of the
proceeding, and to one who loves every created thing as I do, it gives
the keenest pain to know how much suffering of this kind goes on during
the hunting season.[3]

[Footnote 3: I cannot resist quoting and strongly endorsing the
following lament by Mr. H. Stacy Marks, R.A., as to the way in which
birds are too frequently treated by the public at large: "Many people
regarding birds in but three aspects--as things to be either eaten,
shot, or worn.... No natural history of a bird is complete without
recording where the last specimen was shot; and should a rare bird visit
our shores, the hospitality which we accord to the foreign refugee is
denied, and it is bound to be the victim of powder and shot. The fashion
of wearing birds or their plumage as part of ladies' attire, threatens
to exterminate many beautiful species, such as the humming-birds of
South America, the glossy starlings of Africa, and the glorious Impeyan
pheasant of the Himalayas, with many other species."]

There goes a cuckoo, with quite a flight of small birds pursuing him
wherever he goes.

Small birds seem to have an intense hatred of jays and cuckoos, and will
often fly at them in the nesting season, giving them no peace till they
drive them out of the garden, knowing full well that their own broods
are often devoured by the jay, and that the cuckoo has designs upon the

Although we are some distance from home, I can show you one of my own
bees on this furze blossom. I have a hive of Swiss, or Ligurian bees,
which are said to be in some respects superior to the English species.
The honey is of excellent flavour, and the first year I had far more
honey from the Ligurian hive. I do not think any other hives of
Ligurians are kept within five miles, and, as you see, they have a band
of bright yellow on the abdomen. I can always tell my own bees when I
meet with them in my walks on the common or in the lanes. I had a rather
trying adventure with these bees last May. One Sunday evening we were
just starting for church, about half-past six, when my little niece ran
in exclaiming that there was a great bunch of bees hanging on a branch
near the hives. I knew what had happened--my very irreverent bees had
swarmed on this quiet Sunday evening, and they must be hived if

My bonnet was soon off and the bee-dress put on, and in five minutes the
bees were secured and settled into a hive. We went to church and were
not even late, but--during the first prayer I heard ominous sounds of a
furious bee under my dress; it was, fortunately, a partly transparent
material, and glancing furtively about I saw my little friend under the
skirt going up and down with an angry biz-z-z. Only the pocket-hole
could release him, so I held that safely in my hand all through the
service, lest the congregation might suffer the wrath of a furious bee,
which in truth is no light matter, for in blind fury it will rush at the
first person it meets and leave its sting in the face or hand. Happily I
succeeded in bringing the bee home again, and resolved to avoid hiving
swarms before church-time in future.

You see under the drooping boughs of the fir-tree yonder an old stone
basin, well known to all the birds in the neighbourhood, for there they
always find a supply of fresh water and food of various kinds to suit
all tastes. As it is opposite the dining-room window, it is very
interesting to see a tame jay and sundry squirrels enjoying the acorns
which were collected for them last autumn and stored up so as to keep
the basin well supplied all through the winter and spring, until other
food should be plentiful. Finches, robins, and sparrows find wheat and
crumbs to their taste, and take their daily bath not without some
squabbling as to who shall have it first--a difficulty which is
sometimes settled by a portly blackbird appearing on the scene and
scattering the smaller folk, whilst he takes his early tubbing and sends
up showers of spray in the process. Very pretty are the scenes on that
same stone basin when in early summer a mother bird brings her little
tribe of downy, chirping babes, and feeds each little gaping mouth with
some suitable morsels from the store she finds there.

A sheaf of corn in winter is also a great boon to the starved-out
birdies, when snow has long deprived them of their natural food, and the
water supply has to be often renewed on freezing days, for many a bird
dies in winter from lack of water, all its usual supplies being frozen.
The tameness of birds in severe weather is a touching sign of their
distress, and a mute appeal to us to help them.

          "The fowls of heaven
          Tam'd by the cruel season, crowd around
          The winnowing store, and claim the little boon
          Which Providence assigns them."

It is pleasant to think that they seldom appeal in vain. "Crumbs for the
birds" are scattered by kindly little hands everywhere in winter, and in
many a house a pet sonsie little robin is a cherished visitor, always
welcome to his small share of the good things of this life.

Our ramble might be indefinitely prolonged and still be full of interest
and instruction, but in these simple remarks enough has been shown, I
trust, to lead many to _think_ and _observe_ closely every, even the
minutest, thing that catches their attention whilst out for a ramble in
lanes and fields, even a microscopic moss upon an old wall has been
suggestive of many lovely thoughts, with which I will conclude our
ramble and this chapter.

   "It was not all a tale of eld,
    That fairies, who their revels held
    By moonlight, in the greenwood shade
    Their beakers of the moss-cups made.
    The wondrous light which science burns
    Reveals those lovely jewelled urns!
    Fair lace-work spreads from roughest stems
    And shows each tuft a mine of gems.
        Voices from the silent sod,
        Speaking of the Perfect God.

    Fringeless, or fringed, and fringed again,
    No single leaflet formed in vain;
    What wealth of heavenly wisdom lies
    Within one moss-cup's mysteries!
    And few may know what silvery net,
    Down in its mimic depths is set
    To catch the rarest dews that fall
    Upon the dry and barren wall.
        Voices from the silent sod,
        Speaking of the Perfect God."

                                     L. N. R.

[Illustration: End]



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       *       *       *       *       *


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       *       *       *       *       *

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and peat. After inquiries among the fair, I learn that of all romances,
they best love, not 'sociology,' not 'theology,' still less, open
manslaughter, for a motive, but, just love's young dream, chapter after
chapter. From Mr. Crockett they get what they want, 'hot with,' as
Thackeray admits that he liked it."

Mr. ANDREW LANG in _Longman's Magazine_.

       S. R. CROCKETT

_Eighth Edition._ _Crown 8vo., cloth_, 6s.


"A thoroughly enjoyable novel, full of fresh, original, and accurate
pictures of life long gone by."--_Daily News._

"A strikingly realistic romance."--_Morning Post._

"A stirring story.... Mr. Crockett's style is charming. My Baronite
never knew how musical and picturesque is Scottish-English till he read
this book."--_Punch._

"The youngsters have their Stevenson, their Barrie, and now a third
writer has entered the circle, S. R. Crockett, with a lively and jolly
book of adventures, which the paterfamilias pretends to buy for his
eldest son, but reads greedily himself and won't let go till he has
turned over the last page.... Out of such historical elements and
numberless local traditions the author has put together an exciting tale
of adventures on land and sea." _Frankfurter Zeitung._

       *       *       *       *       *


"Galloway folk should be proud to rank 'The Raiders' among the classics
of the district."--_Scotsman._

"Mr. Crockett's 'The Raiders' is one of the great literary successes of
the season."--_Dundee Advertiser._

"Mr. Crockett has achieved the distinction of having produced the book
of the season."--_Dumfries and Galloway Standard._

"The story told in it is, as a story, nearly perfect." _Aberdeen Daily
Free Press._

"'The Raiders' is one of the most brilliant efforts of recent
fiction."--_Kirkcudbrightshire Advertiser._

       S. R. CROCKETT

_Crown 8vo., cloth_, 6s.

 _Also, an Edition de Luxe, with 26 Drawings by_
SEYMOUR LUCAS, R.A., _limited to 250 copies, signed
    by Author. Crown 4to., cloth gilt_, 21s. _net_.


"It has nearly all the qualities which go to make a book of the
first-class. Before you have read twenty pages you know that you are
reading a classic."--_Literary World._

"All of that vast and increasing host of readers who prefer the novel of
action to any other form of fiction should, nay, indeed, must, make a
point of reading this exceedingly fine example of its class."--_Daily

"With such passages as these [referring to quotations], glowing with
tender passion, or murky with horror, even the most insatiate lover of
romance may feel that Mr. Crockett has given him good measure, well
pressed down and running over."--_Daily Telegraph._

       S. R. CROCKETT

_Second Edition._ _Crown 8vo., cloth_, 6s.


"It will deserve notice at the hands of such as are interested in the
ways and manner of living of a curious race that has ceased to be."
_Daily Chronicle._

"For a first book 'A Daughter of the Fen' is full of

"This book deserves to be read for its extremely interesting account of
life in the Fens and for its splendid character study of Mme.
Dykereave." _Star._

"Deserves high praise."--_Scotsman._

"It is an able, interesting ... an exciting book, and is well worth
reading. And when once taken up it will be difficult to lay it down."
_Westminster Gazette._

       *       *       *       *       *


_Crown 8vo., cloth_, 6s.


"We regard the book as well worth the effort of reading."--_British

"The book is clever, very clever."--_Dundee Advertiser._

"The power and pathos of the book are undeniable."--_Liverpool Post._

"It is a book of some promise."--_Newsagent._

"Mr. Watson has hardly a rival among Australian writers, past or
present. There is real power in the book--power of insight, power of
reflection, power of analysis, power of presentation.... 'Tis a very
well made book--not a set of independent episodes strung on the thread
of a name or two, but closely interwoven to the climax." _Sydney

"There is behind it all a power of drawing human nature that in time
arrests the attention."--_Athenæum._


_Second Edition._ _Cloth_, 6s.


Some Reviews on the First Edition.

"'Nancy Noon' is perhaps the strongest book of the year, certainly by
far the strongest book which has been published by any new writer....
Mr. Swift contrives to keep his book from end to end real, passionate,
even intense.

... If Mr. Meredith had never written, one would have predicted, with
the utmost confidence, a great future for Mr. Benjamin Swift, and even
as it is I have hopes."--_Sketch._

"Certainly a promising first effort."--_Whitehall Review._

"If 'Nancy Noon' be Mr. Swift's first book, it is a success of an
uncommon kind."--_Dundee Advertiser._

"'Nancy Noon' is one of the most remarkable novels of the year, and the
author, avowedly a beginner, has succeeded in gaining a high position in
the ranks of contemporary writers.... All his characters are delightful.
In the heat of sensational incidents or droll scenes we stumble on
observations that set us reflecting, and but for an occasional roughness
of style--elliptical, Carlyle mannerisms--the whole is admirably
written."--_Westminster Gazette._

"Mr. Swift has the creative touch and a spark of genius."--_Manchester

"Mr. Swift has held us interested from the first to the last page of his

"The writer of 'Nancy Noon' has succeeded in presenting a powerfully
written and thoroughly interesting story."--_Scotsman._

"We are bound to admit that the story interested us all through, that it
absorbed us towards the end, and that not until the last page had been
read did we find it possible to lay the book down."--_Daily Chronicle._

"It is a very strong book, very vividly coloured, very fascinating in
its style, very compelling in its claim on the attention, and not at all
likely to be soon forgotten."--_British Weekly._

"A clever book.... The situations and ensuing complications are
dramatic, and are handled with originality and daring
throughout."--_Daily News._

"Mr. Benjamin Swift has written a vastly entertaining book."--_Academy._


_Second Edition._ _Crown 8vo., cloth_, 6s.


Some Press Opinions on the First Edition.

"One of the most powerful and vividly written novels of the
day."--_Nottingham Guardian._

"A grim, terrible, and convincing picture."--_New Age._

"Very impressive."--_Saturday Review._

"Distinctly readable."--_Speaker._

"A remarkable book." _Standard._

"Full of incident."--_Liverpool Mercury._

"One of the most important and timely books ever written." _Newcastle
Daily Mercury._

"A vivid and stirring narrative."--_Globe._

"An exceedingly clever and remarkable production."--_World._

"A book to be read."--_Newsagent._

"A terrible picture."--_Sheffield Independent._

"One of the best stories lately published."--_Echo._

"Worth reading."--_Guardian._ "A sprightly book."--_Punch._

"The story is very much brought up to date."--_Times._

"Vivid and convincing."--_Daily Chronicle._

"The story is good and well told."--_Pall Mall Gazette._

"Ought to be immensely popular."--_Reynolds' Weekly Newspaper._

"A most readable story."--_Glasgow Herald._

"A brilliant piece of work."--_Daily Telegraph._

"The story should make its mark."--_Bookseller._

"Admirably written."--_Sheffield Daily Telegraph._

"The more widely it is read the better."--_Manchester Guardian._

"Will find many appreciative readers."--_Aberdeen Free Press._

"Exciting reading."--_Daily Mail._

"Can be heartily recommended."--_Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper._

"A well-written and capable story."--_People._

"Well written."--_Literary World._

      Author of "Dreams,"
"Real Life and Dream Life," &c.

_Crown 8vo., cloth_, 6s.


"We advise our readers to purchase and read Olive Schreiner's new book
'Trooper Peter Halket of Mashonaland.' Miss Schreiner is one of the few
magicians of modern English literature, and she has used the great
moral, as well as the great literary, force of her style to great
effect."--_Daily Chronicle._

"The story is one that is certain to be widely read, and it is well that
it should be so, especially at this moment; it grips the heart and
haunts the imagination. To have written such a book is to render a
supreme service, for it is as well to know what the rough work means of
subjugating inferior races."--_Daily News._

"Some of the imaginative passages are very fine.... The book is
powerfully written."--_Scotsman._

"Is well and impressively written."--_Pall Mall Gazette._


With a Portrait of Mrs. Keith by the
          Hon. John Collier.

_Sixth Edition._ _Crown 8vo., cloth_, 6s.


"Is certainly the strongest book that Mrs. W. K. Clifford has given to
the public. It is probably too the most popular."--_World._

"It is charmingly told."--_Literary World._

"A novel of extraordinary dramatic force, and it will doubtless be
widely read in its present very cheap and attractive form."--_Star._

"Mrs. Clifford's remarkable tale."--_Athenæum._

"Will prove a healthy tonic to readers who have recently been taking a
course of shilling shocker mental medicine.... There are many beautiful
womanly touches throughout the pages of this interesting volume, and it
can be safely recommended to readers old and young."--_Aberdeen Free



Uniform Edition of MARK RUTHERFORD'S works. Edited by REUBEN SHAPCOTT.
Crown 8vo., cloth.

    With Frontispiece by WALTER CRANE. Second Edition.

"These writings are certainly not to be lightly dismissed, bearing as
they do the impress of a mind which, although limited in range and
sympathies, is decidedly original."--_Times._

Crown 8vo, cloth.

"It is certainly a strange and striking story."--_Athenæum._

GINETTE'S HAPPINESS. Being a translation by RALPH DERECHEF of "Le
Bonheur de Ginette." Crown 8vo, cloth.

"Pretty and gracefully told."--_Pall Mall Gazette._

4 full-page Illustrations by A. D. MCCORMICK and a Photogravure
Frontispiece. Small crown 8vo., cloth.

"Mr. Frazer writes powerfully and well, and seems to have an intimate
acquaintance with the sun-steeped land, and the strange beings who
people it."--_Glasgow Herald._

PAUL HEINSIUS. By CORA LYSTER. Crown 8vo., cloth.

"This is an extremely clever and altogether admirable, but not
altogether unkind anatomisation of Teutonic character."--_Daily

MY BAGDAD. By ELLIOTT DICKSON. Illustrated. 8vo., cloth.

"Related with a refreshing simplicity that is certain to approve itself
to readers."--_Bookseller._

SILK OF THE KINE. By L. MCMANUS (C. MacGuire), Author of "Amabel: A
Military Romance." Crown 8vo., cloth.

"We have read 'The Silk of the Kine,' from the first page to the last,
without missing a single word, and we sighed regretfully when Mr.
McManus brought the adventures of Margery Ny Guire and Piers Ottley to a
close."--_Literary World._

A POT OF HONEY. By SUSAN CHRISTIAN. Crown 8vo., cloth.

"The book is the outcome of a clever mind."--_Athenæum._


"An interesting story of life and character in the Surrey-side slums,
presented with a great deal of sympathetic humour."--_Daily Chronicle._

8vo., cloth.


       *       *       *       *       *

_Each Demy 12mo., cloth._

  7. LE SELVE. By OUIDA. 2nd Edition.
  8. AN ALTRUIST. By OUIDA. 2nd Edition.


       *       *       *       *       *

_Demy 12mo., half-bound, paper boards, price_ 3s. 6d.

_Vols. 14-17_, 3s. 6d. _net_.

_Also, an Edition de Luxe, limited to 30 copies, printed on Japan

_Prices on application._

AVELING. Second Edition. Portrait.

4. IPHIGENIA IN DELPHI, with some Translations from the Greek. By
RICHARD GARNETT, LL.D. Frontispiece.

5. MIREIO: A Provençal Poem. By FREDERIC MISTRAL. Translated by H. W.

6. LYRICS. Selected from the Works of A. MARY F. ROBINSON (Mme. JAMES
DARMESTETER). Frontispiece.

7. A MINOR POET. By AMY LEVY. With Portrait. Second Edition.

8. CONCERNING CATS: A Book of Verses by many Authors. Edited by GRAHAM
R. THOMPSON. Illustrated.


11. THE LOVE SONGS OF ROBERT BURNS. Selected and Edited, with
Introduction, by Sir GEORGE DOUGLAS, Bart. With Front. Portrait.


13. RETROSPECT, and other Poems. By A. MARY F. ROBINSON (Mme.
DARMESTETER), Author of "An Italian Garden," &c.

14. BRAND: A Dramatic Poem. By HENRIK IBSEN. Translated by F. EDMUND

15. THE SON OF DON JUAN. By DON JOSÉ ECHEGARAY. Translated into English,
with biographical introduction, by JAMES GRAHAM. With Etched Portrait of
the Author by DON B. MAURA.

16. MARIANA. By DON JOSÉ ECHEGARAY. Translated into English by JAMES
GRAHAM. With a Photogravure of a recent Portrait of the Author.

17. FLAMMA VESTALIS, and other Poems. By EUGENE MASON. Frontispiece




_Post 8vo., each Volume containing about 500 pages, and an etched
Frontispiece, cloth_, 3s. 6d. _each_.

containing a General Introduction to the Series by JOHN ADDINGTON




Introduction by J. A. SYMONDS.


8. NERO, and other Plays. Edited by H. P. HORNE, ARTHUR SYMONS, A. W.







17, 19, and 20. THE BEST PLAYS OF BEN JONSON, Vol. I. edited, with
Introduction and Notes, by BRINSLEY NICHOLSON and C. H. HEREFORD.

18. THE COMPLETE PLAYS OF RICHARD STEELE. Edited, with Introduction and
Notes, by G. A. AITKEEN.

Instructor of English Literature at Yale College.

22. THE SELECT PLAYS OF SIR JOHN VANBRUGH. Edited, with an introduction
and Notes, by A. E H. SWAEN.

       *       *       *       *       *


"Even the professed scholar with a good library at his command will find
texts here not otherwise easily accessible; while the humbler student of
slender resources, who knows the bitterness of not being able to possess
himself of the treasure stored in expensive folios or quartos long out
of print, will assuredly rise up and thank Mr. Unwin."--_St. James's

"Resumed under good auspices."--_Saturday Review._

"The issue is as good as it could be."--_British Weekly._

"At once scholarly and interesting."--_Leeds Mercury._



_Demy 8vo., printed in bold type, paper covers,_ 6d.; _cloth_, 1s.


       *       *       *       *       *


"Novel sets are many, but Mr. Fisher Unwin has begun a new one that for
prettiness, type and cheapness will take front rank.... These little
novels, which are very prettily bound for a shilling, and in paper at
sixpence each, will--if we mistake not--equal the 'Pseudonyms' in
popularity."--_Vanity Fair._

"Mr. Unwin's newest series of 'Little Novels,' printed in strong black
type on pleasant paper.... promises to be as good, if not better than
any of the preceding ones.... The first book in the series is an
extremely clever and original story of Australian society."--_Guardian._

"Are readable.... They promise well for the success of the series they
begin." _Scotsman._

"The 'Little Novels' series starts well with this Australian story ('The
World is Round').... Miss Mack's account of Sydney life is
vivacious.... The two women she describes are brought before us with
ability. Much of the dialogue, and certainly a letter from the Bush,
deserves praise."--_Glasgow Herald._

"If Mr. Fisher Unwin's 'Little Novels' series produces many works of the
quintessential power of 'No Place for Repentance,' it will outweigh in
all but bulk whole shelves of Mudie's fiction."--_Illustrated London

"We do not apologise for telling the story of this little book, 'The
Bond of Blood,' and giving long extracts from it. It is worth reading
even when one knows all that is coming; for it is excellently told, with
concentrated force, great simplicity, and a very remarkable attention to
illustrative detail."--_Spectator._

"A cheap and excellent series."--_St. James's Budget._

"Well bound, well printed, and exceptionally low in price."--_Glasgow


       *       *       *       *       *

_Illustrated. Post 8vo., pinafore cloth binding, floral edges_, 2s 6d.




4. THE STORY OF A PUPPET. By C. CULLODI. Translated from the Italian by
M. A. MURRAY. Illustrated by G. MAZZANTI.



7. IRISH FAIRY TALES. Edited by W. B. YEATS. Illustrated by JACK B.

8. AN ENCHANTED GARDEN. By Mrs. MOLESWORTH. Illustrated by J. W.



Captivity," &c., Illustrated by J. B. YEATS.

12. NUTCRACKER AND MOUSE KING and other Stories. By E. T. A. HOFFMANN.
Translated from the German by ASCOTT R. HOPE.

13. ONCE UPON A TIME: Fairy Tales. Translated from the Italian by LUIGI
CAPUANA. With Illustrations by C. MAZZANTI.

Translated from the Neapolitan by JOHN EDWARD TAYLOR. New Edition,
revised and edited by HELEN ZIMMERN. Illustrated by GEORGE CRUIKSHANK.

15. FINNISH LEGENDS. Adapted by R. EIVIND. Illustrated from the Finnish

16. THE POPE'S MULE, and other Stories. By ALPHONSE DAUDET. Translated

17. THE LITTLE GLASS MAN, and other Stories. Translated from the German


(Lord BRABOURNE) Author of "Prince Mangold," "Queer Folk," &c.


       *       *       *       *       *


"Happy children who are to own books as pretty and portable as this is."
_Saturday Review._

"The delightful 'Children's Library.'"--_National Observer._

"The binding and printing are simply exquisite."--_Vanity Fair._

"What a dainty little blue book!"--_Whitehall Review._

"Prettily got up."--_Times._

"Fascinating in appearance."--_Athenæum._

"Very daintily printed and bound."--_Daily Chronicle._

"One of the prettiest books ever trusted to a child's hand."--_Queen._

"Altogether agreeable to the eye."--_Globe._

"Exquisite and dainty."--_British Weekly._

"Very dainty and unique."--_Review of Reviews._

"All the books are delightfully illustrated."--_Bookseller._

"With every advantage that a dainty binding excellent paper, and
admirable printing can bestow."--_Guardian._


(Uniform in style and price with the "Pseudonym Library.")


_Paper_, 1s. 6d. _each_; _cloth_, 2s. _each_.

   3. BY REEF AND PALM. By LOUIS BECKE. Third Edition.
   4. THE PLAY-ACTRESS. By S. R. CROCKETT. Fifth Edition.
  11. MOLLY DARLING! And other Stories. By Mrs. HUNGERFORD.

       *       *       *       *       *


"Very dainty and pleasing in appearance."--_Glasgow Herald._

"Well printed and nicely got up."--_Queen._

"The volumes promise to be as handy in shape and size as those of the
original series; the printing is excellent, the paper is good, and the
external appearance is neat and attractive."--_Athenæum._

"If 'The Autonym Library' keeps up to the pitch of excellence attained
by the first volume its success is assured."--_Speaker._



_Each Volume is furnished with Maps, Illustrations, and Index. Large
Crown 8vo., fancy cloth, gold lettered, or Library Edition, dark cloth,
burnished red top,_ 5s. _each.--Or may be had in half Persian, cloth
sides, gilt tops; Price on Application._

   2. THE JEWS. By Professor J. K. HOSMER.
   3. GERMANY. By the Rev. S. BARING-GOULD.
   4. CARTHAGE. By Professor ALFRED J. CHURCH.
  15. HOLLAND. By Professor J. E. THOROLD ROGERS.
  36. SPAIN. By H. E. WATTS.
  39. VENICE. By the Hon. ALETHEA WIEL.
  40. THE CRUSADES: The Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem. By T. A. ARCHER and

"Such a universal history as the series will present us with in its
completion will be a possession such as no country but our own can boast
of.... Its success on the whole has been very remarkable."--_Daily

  |                                                                    |
  | Transcriber's notes: Obvious spelling/typographical and            |
  | punctuation errors have been corrected after careful comparison    |
  | with other occurrences within the text and consultation of         |
  | external sources.                                                  |
  |                                                                    |
  | The text is a compilation of previously published articles.        |
  |                                                                    |
  | Inconsistent spelling and inline hyphenation occurs across         |
  | chapters and is retained.                                          |
  |  "meal-worm[s]" occurs four times, "mealworm[s]" thirteen times    |
  |  "re-appeared" occurs once and reappeared" occurs three times      |
  |                                                                    |
  | Page 3: The signature date 1800 is clear error, 1898 is likely     |
  |         correct.                                                   |
  | Page 28, 29: "I used still to to", extra "to" removed.             |
  | Page 158: Small ligature oe transcribed as oe in "Scaraboeus".     |
  | Last Pub. Page: Last entry "The Franks" unnumbered, retained.      |
  |                                                                    |

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