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There's a black bug, homely as sin. Catch him, and he gives you a glimpse of a diamond he is carrying about him; and you spare him, of course, because he is one of Night and Nature's jewellers. How gallantly he shows a light,' in the offing over the marsh. On the starboard, the larboard ; to windward, to leeward ; alow and aloft. But the dawn steals on, and the great stars and the little bug together, “pale their ineffectual fires."
The first two “ signs”-if any body will credit ithave slipped the halter of the Zodiac, and Aries and Taurus are lords of the pasture, trumpeters of flock and herd, with two horns a-piece. A slight accident to the mason-work about Jericho, recorded in Bible History, having been particularly impressed upon my mind, I pay special attention to Geography, as defined by a very devious rail fence, and take good care to keep on this side of it, confessing to no penchant for swelling a concordance, by figuring in a “parallel passage.”
So it is, every where, with every thing. Armed capà-pie, and if not armed, supplied with some means of evasion, disguise or retreat. This moment, a fellow of the BEETLE tribe comes hurtling through the air, tumbling about in the candle-light, blundering against
walls and windows, with his everlasting hum-drum of wings, like a bee in a hollyhock. And what do you think he's done? Caught up a pair of tongs and joined in the grand melee! There he goes, if you don't believe it, the tongs thrust out in front of him, wide open, and ready to come lovingly together with
, a will. Try him, if you doubt it.
“Tr-tr-trr-rt-rt-rrt.!” There's a watchword, or a pass-word from that cherry tree; and where is the little Look-out ? On that leaf“ with a strange device." By St. Patrick! 'tis a Toad in disguise ! Nothing like the salient chap in a dusty leather roundabout, that takes position nightly on the outside cellar door, but a gay fellow. Break the limb, gently—50; and you have him exactly under your eye. His delicate white kid throat works like a little bellows. His back-just the color of the leaf he lies on, and how beautifully varnished !—four or five coats, shouldn't you think? His sides—a specimen of imitation of woods, that might deceive Leather Stocking himself. His eyes--overlaid round about with gold-leaf, and warranted never to tarnish. Invisible in his Kendall green, (if it be Kendall,) he uses those compound levers of his, and leaps from tree to tree and bough to bough, prophesying, in a
small way, of clouds and rain, and such like, and answering from out the rustling green, to his fellow.
What then are your Springfield Armory, your Paixhans, and even your floating walls of wood, to the arms and munitions of war strown about this quiet farm? What shields and helmets ! what coats of mail and disguises ! what broadswords and rapiers ! what signals and war-cries ! what prowess and stratagem are here! In the grass, the bushes the earth ; on trees, fences, every where! Who will not say, that in comparison with “OUR DEFENCES,” all the devices of your cunning workers in iron and in steel, are children's idle toys!
Digging for a Subject.
Don't say a word till I'm done. You'll waste an invoice of indignation that were better saved, if you do; and besides, it wouldn't be “manners.” I am no resurrectionist ; and if I do dig for a " subject," I don't find it in a cemetery nor put it in a sack, but just take the head-mind! the head—as Herodias did, and serve it up, not on a platter, but on a paper, as Herodias didn't. Taking a hoe this morning, (could
find no spade but the ace,) I exhumed a TOADESS, perhaps a widow, living all by herself, in underground lodgings, as widows have done, and will do, again and again, till there is no such thing as widowdom in the world. She had two nice little apartments, but not much to speak of in the way of furniture. I confess to a twinge or two, after the mischief was done ; but Sir Christopher Wren could not have restored the structure, so I concluded to “sin no more,” took the hoe “trail arms,” and returned penitent.
You read History? Oh, of course! but I don't mean Gibbon, or Hume or Bancroft; nothing bound in calf or Turkey, that one reads between naps, lying along sofas; that reviewers take as texts for their learning, and every body grows wise over. Oh, no! But such history as you dig out with a hoe, throw out with a shovel, pry out with a lever, cut out with an axe, watch for in the woods, or climb after in the mountains. Loose leaves of great, unbound volumes, lying about this earth ; sometimes packed away, and sometimes fluttering in the wind; volumes bearing the imprint of the Almighty ; leaves damp from the press of Creation ; lithographs older than the rock of Plymouth; paintings newer than
In the burglary I have owned to, I found fragments of stone ; unquestionably an ARMORY, long ago deserted, and its existence forgotten. In it were packed away, thousands of lunar-shaped shields, bearing evident marks of having seen much service ; armor, as appears from records extant, worn by warriors who fought and fell before Cæsar thought of his “Commentaries,” or the World of Cæsar. Housewives convert this same armor to the ignoble purpose of polishing brass andirons and Britannia tea-urns, and degrade it with their christening, “Rotten Stone!" Think of using Washington's sword to scrape a trencher; wetting up meal for chickens in Marmion's helmet, or covering a coop with the shield of Achilles ! And what better is this robbing and desecrating the WESTMINSTER of some nation, not nameless because we think so, and bearing away the relics of older warriors, and who knows but better, to replenish the stock in trade' of kitchens and coal-holes ? what base uses may we come at last !"
Proof-sheets of great works on Entomology and Conchology are scattered about here, lithographed by a Master : leaves whose like has not fluttered in morning air for centuries; flowers that have not scented evening sighs since the days of Paradise ; all there