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walked to and fro opposite the birds and sufficiently near to put them up, but without appearing to be in pursuit of them. I hoped by this means to drive them over to the loch where I was concealed without frightening them so much as to make them take off to the sea. They seemed unwilling to rise, and little afraid of the boy, whom they appeared to look at with curiosity rather than alarm, and I struck a light in order to smoke the pipe of patience and resignation, for, fine as the day was for March, my situation in a damp island and wet through above my knees began to be uncomfortable.
“ The latakia was not half puffed away when I heard the wellknown warning cry of the swans, and immediately looking round, saw them just flapping along the water preparatory to their flight. Cocking my gun, and holding the pipe tighter in my teeth, I waited anxiously to see in what direction they would fly. At first they made straight eastward, as if off for the Bay of Findhorn, but after a short flight in that direction they turned, and I saw them coming three and three together, as usual, straight towards where I was concealed. In a few minutes they were exactly over my head, at a good height, but still within shot, flying with their long necks stretched straight out and their black feet tucked up, but plainly visible as they passed over me. I stood up and took a deliberate aim at the largest of them as he ascended higher into the air at my unexpected appearance. The first barrel seemed to have little effect on him, though I distinctly heard the shot rattle on his strong quills; the second, however, which was loaded with larger shot, was more effective : whilst his two companions continued crying to each other, he remained silent. However, he kept up with the rest, and they all went off towards the bay. In the meantime three smaller swans came within twenty yards of me, or less, trumpeting and calling loudly.
“With the glass I watched the bird I had fired at, as I knew he was hard hit. He still, however, held his way with the rest, and they were gradually getting indistinct when I saw him suddenly rise straight up into the air, his snowy plumage shining as it caught the rays of the sun. I saw him a second time rise perpendicularly to a great height; he then suddenly turned backwards in the air and tumbled headlong to the ground perfectly dead. He was above half a mile or more from me, in the direction of the bay, and the whole intervening ground was covered with sandhills and bent, so that I could not see the exact spot where he fell, whether on the dry ground or in the sea. However, I marked the direction as well as I could, and set off after him. Large as he was, I had a long and for some time a fruitless search amongst the broken sandhills. I scanned the bay with the glass in vain, and then came back towards the lochs. At last I hit upon him by finding a quantity of blood on the sand, and following the drops, which had fallen almost in a stream: in fact the track of blood, though falling from such a height, was as conspicuous as that of a wounded hare on snow. At length I came on the swan, who was lying stretched out on the sand, and a noble bird he was. I shouldered him as well as his great length would enable me to do, and carried him back to where the boy was waiting for me. I found him no slight burden; he weighed above 27 lbs.; the breadth between his wings 8 feet, and his length 5 feet. Of all the swans I ever killed he was by far the largest, the usual weight being from 15 to 18 lbs."
“No birds offer so striking and beautiful a sight as a numerous flock of large swans on wing, while their musical cries sound more like the notes produced by some wild-toned musical instrument than the voice of a bird. While they remain with us, they frequent and feed in shallow pieces of water, like Lochlee, Loch Spynie, etc., where the water is of so small a depth that in many places they can reach the bottom with their long necks, and pluck up the water-grasses on which they feed. While employed in tearing up these plants, the swans are generally surrounded by a number of smaller water-fowl, such as widgeon and teal, who snatch at and carry off the pieces detached by their more powerful companions."
We make room for one more extract, of an otter-hunt of a singular kind. It is during a snow-storm on the borders of Ross and Sutherland :
“We walked on, and soon came across the tracks of two or three otters, where they had been going in and out of the water on their way up stream, after fishing in the deep pools where the two waters met near the house. These pools are favourite resting-places for salmon and sea-trout, and therefore are sure to be frequented by the otters.
“ Opposite to a strip of birch-trees one of the largest otters seemed to have left the river, and to have made for a well-known cairn of stones, where I had before found both marten-cat and otter. Halfway up the brae he had entered a kind of cleft or hole, made by a small stream of water, which at this spot worked itself out of the depth of the earth. 'He'll no stop in this,' said Donald ; there's a vent twenty yards above, and I ken weel that he'll no stop till he is in the dry cairn, forty yards higher up the brae.' Nor was the old man far wrong, for we found where the otter had squeezed himself up to the surface of the ground again, leaving a small round hole in
We carefully stopped up both entrances to this covered way, and then Donald went on with the dog to dislodge him from the cairn, having first given me the strongest injunctions to 'stand quite privatrly' a few yards from the hole which we had just stopped up. The dog at first seemed little inclined to leave me, but presently understanding the service upon which he was to be employed, he went off with Donald with right good will, putting his nose every now and then into the tracks of the otter in the snow, as if to ascertain how long it was since his enemy had been there.
They soon arrived at the cairn, which was of no great extent, and not composed of very heavy stones. After walking round it carefully, to see whether there were any tracks farther on, Donald sent on the dog, who almost immediately began to bark and scratch at a part of the cairn. Donald was soon with him, and employed in
moving the stones, having laid down his gun for that purpose, knowing that the otter was quite sure to make straight for the place where I was standing, if he could dislodge him. Presently the dog made a headlong dive into the snow and stones, but drew back as quickly with a sharp cry. In he went again, however, his blood now well up; but the otter's black head appeared at a different aperture, and now dog and man were dancing and tumbling about amongst the snow and stones like lunatics,-the otter darting from place to place, and showing his face first in one corner and then in another.
“ Donald found this would not do; so he again commenced moving the stones. Presently he called out to me, Keep private, sir! keep private ! the brute is coming your gate!' Private I had kept from the moment he had stationed me, till my fingers and feet were nearly frozen. Donald seized the dog and held him, to prevent his running in the way. All this passed in a moment, and I saw the snow heaving up above the otter, who was working through it like a mole; assisted, probably, by the heather, which prevented it from being caked down in a solid mass, as would have been the case on a smooth field. I knew that he would appear at the hole which we had stopped ; and therefore I did not risk a shot at him.
"He worked on until he was close to the hole, when he emerged quietly and silently, and crept towards the well-known place of refuge. On finding it completely stopped up, the countenance of the poor animal assumed a most bewildered expression of astonishment and fear; and lifting himself up on his hind legs, he looked round to ascertain what had happened. On seeing me he made off towards the river, with as long leaps as the snow would allow him; and as it was tolerably hard, he got on pretty quickly till my charge of shot put an end to his journey.
“ The report of the gun started two fine stags, who had been feeding along the course of a small open rill which ran into the river just above where we were; and I was astonished to see the power with which these two great animals galloped up the bill, although they sank deep at every stride. When half-way up, they halted to look at us, and stood beautifully defined on the white snow; they then trotted quietly off till we lost sight of them over the summit of the hill."
Our notice of this pleasant book cannot be better concluded than in the words of St. John's friend and biographer :
"I may be allowed to point out for imitation the extreme care and accuracy of his observations of nature--a rare merit—and his guarded and simple statements of the results. His taste for rural pleasures, his love of sport, and his natural unaffected style, will long endear his memory to naturalists."
The Memoir of Mr. St. John brings us acquainted with one of his correspondents of whom we should wish to see more. Sir A. G..Cumming, in describing a fishing adventure among the rocks of the Findhorn, shows a remarkable power of bringing a scene
before his reader's eyes, and making him understand and thoroughly to believe a piece of complex strategy practised against the gallant enemy. There is no attempt at picturesque description; no painting of the scenery, nor exaggerating of the danger and the prowess. The effect is produced by the simplicity of the language, leaving that conviction of truth which is one of the greatest and most uncommon triumphs of style.
The pretty book we have named second at the head of this Article, was announced to be written“ by a Highland gentleman, resident in Normandy.” It is now known to be the work of the late Walter Campbell of Islay, a man of good family and high connexion, born to a great estate, for many years keeping up a great establishment and a generous hospitality in his western island--the most benevolent, liberal, popular of Highland landlords, the favourite of rich and poor. At length, falling on evil days, and at a time too when Highland destitution claimed exertions too great for even his fortune, he left his well-beloved home, and chose to live in a country where he could more easily lay aside the trappings of a high position. He went into exile, but he went unbroken in spirit. Active and intelligent, he found sport and objects of curiosity and interest on the beautiful coast of Normandy. Looking down from the height of Avranches over the Bay of Cancale, with the romantic island-fortress of Mont St. Michel in full view, with a long range of sands teeming with fish and molluscs, some good streams yielding trout and a few salmon, in the midst of an interesting race of sea-fishermen, not seamen, gradually forming acquaintance with the gentry of the district and of Bretagne-our Highland gentleman was in a good situation to comply with the suggestion of a friend, who recommended his writing notes on French fishing and natural history, including, most appropriately, French cookery, for even Izaak Walton knew how important a part of the history of a fish is the manner of dressing it.
We confess we wish the author bad given these notes in his own person, or that his editor had bravely cut out the slender thread of dialogue between the shadowy "Mr. Hope” and “ Mr. Cross" which cumbers the narrative, and deprives it of the vraisemblance and peculiar interest of a personal narrative, without adding the least bit of dramatic or picturesque effect. In spite of this defect of shape, however, and we cannot. but respect the editor's motives for giving the work untouched as the author left it, we have in these two volumes a great deal of interesting and amusing matter; and though the scene is 'n
* Natural History and Sport in Moray, Memoir, p. xxi.
Normandy, the book and its author are genuine English, and may help us to illustrate English country life.
We do not care much for the sensible conversations about the state of France and French politics, and we will ask our readers to jump at once to some nice observations on natural history. Hear the history of a kingfisher's nest, captured by an Eton boy :
“ The first nest I ever saw was in the month of May. It was discovered quite by accident. Instead of fishing, I was swimming in the Thames, when I observed one of those beautiful little birds dart out of a hole close to me. I told two of my school-fellows of my discovery, so we provided ourselves with a landing-net, and next day we went to try and catch the bird as she flew out, but she escaped us then, for we saw her fly away when we were some yards distant from the bank. I suspect that they hear footsteps at a great distance when any one approaches their nest, and that they go at once, which is the reason they are so seldom perceived coming out of their holes. As I tell
this lady escaped us that day, but as we were resolved to obtain her, one of my companions proposed that we should climb out of our dame's house at night, and at all risks make sure of our prize. Though such an expedition was a sort of high treason against the laws of Dr. Keats and Eton College, the temptation overcame all fears of birch. We agreed to go, and having provided a boat, a landing-net, and a spade, as soon as everybody was in bed we clambered over the garden paling, took our way to the river, got into our boat, and dropped gently down the stream till we came to the bank where the nest was. There the boat was softly pushed to the shore, and the bag of the landing net was fixed over the mouth of the hole. When this was completed we no longer cared about keeping silence; we landed, and began to dig away the bank from above.
This work had not continued many minutes when we heard the harsh disagreeable notes of the mother, who had darted from her nest and was screaming in the net, in which she was fairly entangled. The poor bird was soon placed in one of our hats, over the top of which a handkerchief was tied, and she was then deposited in the locker of the skiff, which operation was performed by one of my companions, who got his fingers well bit before it was accomplished. The mother being thus secured, we resumed our digging, which took us so long that day was breaking before we arrived at the nest. We worked very carefully for fear of injuring it, and well worthy was it of our trouble, for when at last we reached it, we saw something that looked like the carved ivory balls that are sent from China. One side only was open, and within were three young birds, nearly full fledged. This prize was placed first in a pockethandkerchief, and then in a hat; the boat was rowed back to its hiding place, and we took our way home across the fields, and reentered our dame's house without discovery; but we were so delighted with our success, that we were quite prepared to take a flogging without a murmur, had we been missed. The nest, in this instauce,