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instrument from which the notes proceed; and it occasionally happens that they drop to the ground as if in a fit, and sometimes die outright. I never witnessed this myself; but I have heard it so often related by persons well entitled to credit, that I feel obliged to believe it as to the fits, and am inclined also to believe that the little songsters sometimes even die in the agony of emulation. ; · H. If it be true, I wonder it has not been noticed in other countries besides Persia.

U. O. It has been noticed in almost every country and in different ages: but we have not opportunities of making much observation on the subject in England. Such contests as I have mentioned between nightingales and lutanists, are described by poets of different nations who lived in times when people were in the habit of amusing themselves with musical instruments in the open air. The most beautiful account of such a contest which I have met with in English poetry is in a play called “ The Lover's Melancholy,” by a poet named Ford, who was one of the successórs of Shakspeare. I will read it to you. A young nobleman relates the incident thus to his friend :

Passing from Italy to Greece, the tales
Which poets of an elder time have feign'd

To glorify their Tempe, bred in me
Desire of visiting that Paradise.
To Thessaly I came, and living private,
Without acquaintance of more sweet companions
Than the old inmatęs to my love, my thoughts,
I day by day frequented silent groves
And solitary walks. One morning early
This accident encounter'd me: I heard
The sweetest and most ravishing contention
That art and nature ever were at strife in.

A sound of music touch'd mine ears, or rather
Indeed intrauced my soul; as I stole nearer,
Invited by the melody, I saw
This youth, this fair-faced youth, upon his lute,
With sounds of strange variety and harmony,
Proclaiming, as it seem'd, so bold a challenge
To the clear choristers of the wood, the birds,
That as they flock'd about him, all stood silent,
Wond'ring at what they heard: I wonder'd too!

A nightingale,
Nature's best-skill'd musician, undertakes
The challenge, and for every several strain
The well-shaped youth could touch, she sung her

down;
He could not run division* with more art
Upon his quaking instrument than she,
The nightingale, did with her various notes
Reply to.

Some time thus spent, the young man grew at last
Into a pretty anger, that a bird
Whom art had never taught clefs, moods t, or notes
Should vie with him for mastery, whose study
Had busied many hours to perfect practice;
To end the controversy, in a rapture

Upon his instrument he plays so swiftly, * Division seems to have been the technical phrase for the pauses or parts of a musical composition.—Weber.

+ Moods. Probably the time in which music is played.Weber,

So many voluntaries, and so quick,
That there was curiosity and cunning*,
Concord and discord, lines of differing method

Meeting in one full centre of delight,
J. And what did the bird say, then ?
U. 0.

The bird, ordain'd to be
Music's first martyr, strove to imitate
These several sounds: which, when her warbling

throat
Faild in, for grief down dropp'd she on his lute,

And brake her heart. (After a long pause.) F. I don't think I ever heard a nightingale. · Does it sing as well as a canary bird?

U. O. In some respects better..
F. Have they any canary birds in Persia ?

U. O. No; and you will recollect that the canary is not properly a bird of this country, either. There are none that live at large, and they can only be reared in-doors. Rearing birds in confinement, for the sake of their songs, is not a common practice among the Persians: and though I believe there are no people who enjoy the singing of birds more than they do, I do not recollect that I ever saw caged birds in any Persian house.

* Cunning here means skill or art.

267

CHAPTER XV.

INSECTS AND REPTILES. Uncle Oliver. THERE is no insect in Persia of which I have so much to say as of the Locusts. These insects are not, indeed, peculiar to Persia, or even to Asia ; but as that country suffers much from them, I may as well speak of them now as at any other time...

As these insects do great mischief to man in the East, I will give you their regular history, so far as I am able, from what I have myself seen or read about them. The female locust lays her eggs in autumn, and the way in which she does it is very curious. She makes choice of a piece of light earth that is well protected by a bush or hedge, and there she digs a hole for herself, so that when she gets in, her head only appears above the ground. She there deposits an oblong substance of the shape of her own body: this contains a large number of eggs, placed in rows against each other. They are then carefully covered over, which, with their sheltered situation, protects them from the cold of winter; and they are generally hatched very early in spring by the heat of the sun. There is one strange fact which I never had an opportunity of witnessing myself, but it has been told me by persons so well worthy of credit, that I can scarcely venture to doubt it; that is, that when the female has finished her work, several male locusts come around her and kill her.

June. Oh, what for ?

U. O. I am sure I don't know. I would advise you all to keep this circumstance in mind, and see whether in your reading or in looking about for yourselves, you can find any similar practice among other insects. Let me know if you do. The villagers are, from practice, very expert in discovering where the locust has laid her eggs; and they take a great deal of trouble in hunting them out and destroying them. In the places which have been plagued with the visits of the locusts, the hedges and ridges begin to swarm about the middle of April with the young locusts, which have then a black appearance, and are without wings, and perfectly harmless. In about a month they increase to triple their former size ; they are then of a cindery gray colour, and their wings have become half an

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