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Part 1. William. There were a great many swallows, too, sporting upon the surface of the water, that entertained me with their motions. Sometimes they dashed into the stream ; sometimes they pursued one another so quickly that the eye could scarcely follow them. In one place, where a high steep sand-bank rose directly above the river, I observed many of them go in and out of holes, with which the bank was bored full.
Tutor. Those were sand-martins, the smallest of our four species of swallows. They are of a mouse-color above, and white beneath. They make their nests, and bring up their young in these holes, which ran a great depth, and by their situation are secure from all plunderers.
William. A little further I saw a man in a boat, who was catching eels in an odd way. He had a long pole, with broad iron prongs at the end, just like Neptune's trident, only there were five instead of three. This he pushed straight down into the mud, in the deepest parts of the river, and fetched up the eels sticking between the
prongs. Tutor. I have seen this method. It is called, spearing of eels.
William. While I was looking at him, a heron came flying over my head, with his large flagging wings. He alighted at the next turn of the river, and I crept softly behind the bank to watch his motions. He had waded into the water as far as his long legs would carry him, and was standing with his neck drawn in, looking intently on the stream. Presently he darted his long bill as quick as lightning into the water, and drew out à fish, which he swallowed. I saw him catch another in the same manner. He then took alarm at some noise I made, and flew away slowly to a wood at some distance, where he settled.
Tutor. Probably his nest was there, for herons build upon the loftiest tree they can find, and sometimes in society together, like rooks. Formerly, when these birds were valued for the amusement of hawking, many gentlemen had their heronries ; and a few are still remaining.
William. I think they are the largest wild birds we have.
Tutor. They are of great length and spread of wing, but their bodies are comparatively small.
William. I then turned homewards across the meadows,
where I stopped awhile to look at a large flock of starlings, which kept flying about at no great distance. I could not tell at first what to make of them; for they rose all together from the ground as thick as a swarm of bees, and formed themselves into a kind of black cloud hovering over the field. After taking a short round they settled again, and presently rose again in the same manner. I dare say there were hundreds of them.
Tutor. Perhaps so ; for in the fenny countries, their flocks are so numerous, as to break down whole acres of reeds, by settling on them. This disposition of starlings to fly in close swarms, was remarked even by Homer, who compares the foe flying from one of his heroes, to a cloud of starlings retiring dismayed at the approach of the hawk,
William. After I had left the meadows, I crossed the cornfields in the way to our house, and passed close by a deep marl-pit. Looking into it, I saw, on one of the sides, a cluster of what I took to be shells ; and upon going down, I picked up a clod of marl, which was quite full of them ; but how sea shells could get there, I cannot imagine.
Tutor. I do not wonder at your surprise, since many philosophers have been much perplexed to account for the same appearance. It is not uncommon to find great quantities of shells and relics of marine animals, even in the bowels of high mountains, very remote from the sea.
William. I got to the high field next to our house, just as the sun was setting, and I stood looking at it till it was
What a glorious sight! The clouds were tinged with purple and crimson, and yellow of all shades and hues, and the clear sky varied from blue to a fine green at the horizon. But how large the sun appears just as it sets ! I think it seems twice as big as when it is
Tutor. It does so; and you may probably have observed the same apparent enlargement of the moon at its rising.
William. I have ; but pray what is the reason of this ?
Tutor. It is an optical deception, depending upon principles which I cannot well explain to you, till you know more of that branch of science. But what a number of dew ideas this afternoon's walk has afforded you!
do not wonder that you found it amusing; it has been very instructive too. Did you see nothing of all these sights, Robert ?
Robert. I saw none of them, but I did not take particular notice of them.
Tutor. Why not!
Robert. I do not know. I did not care about them, and I made the best of my way home.
Tutor. That would have been right, if you had been sent on a message ; but as you only walked for amusement, it would have been wiser to have sought out as many sources of it as possible. But so it is—one man walks through the world with his eyes open, and another with them shut ; and upon this difference depends all the superiority of knowledge the one acquires above the other. I have known sailors who had been in all the quarters of the world, and could tell you nothing but the signs of the tippling houses they frequented in different ports, and the price and quality of the liquor. On the other hand, a Franklin could not cross the channel without making some observations useful to mankind. While many a vacant, thoughtless youth is whirled throughout Europe, without gaining a single idea worth crossing a street for, the observing eye and inquiring mind find matter of improvement and delight in every ramble in town and country. Do you then, William, continue to make use of your eyes; and you, Robert, learn that eyes were given you to use.
SECTION I. We destroy pleasure by pursuing it too eagerly. 1. A Boy, smitten with the colors of a butterfly, pursued it from flower to flower with indefatigable pains. First, he aimed to surprise it among the leaves of a rose; then to cover it with his hat, as it was feeding on a daisy. At une time, he hoped to secure it, as it revelled on a sprig of myrtle; and at another, grew sure of his prize, perceiving it to loiter on a bed of violets. But the fickle fly still eluded his attempts.
2. At last, observing it half buried in the cup of a tulip, he rushed forward, and snatching it with violence, crushed it to pieces. Thus, by his eagerness to enjoy, he lost the object of his pursuit. From this instance, young persons may learn, that pleasure is but a painted butterfly ; which, if temperately pursued, may serve to amuse ; but which, when embraced with too much ardor, will perish
in the grasp.
On sisterly unity and love. 1. “OBSERVE those two hounds, that are coupled together," said Euphronius to Lucy and Emilia, who were looking through the window. “ How they torment each other, by a disagreement in their pursuits! One is for moving slowly and the other vainly urges onward. The larger dog now sees some object that tempts him on this side ; and mark how he drags his companion along, who is exerting all his efforts to pursue a different route ! Thus they will continue all day at variance, pulling each other in opposite directions, when they might, by kind and mutual compliances, pass on easily, merrily, and happily."
2. Lucy and Emilia concurred in censuring the folly and ill nature of these dogs; and Euphronius expressed a tender wish, that he might never see any thing similar in their behavior to each other. Nature,” said he, “ has linked you together, by the near equality of age; by your common relation to the most indulgent parents; by the endearing ties of sisterhood; and by all those generous sympathies, which have been fostered in your bosoms from the earliest infancy."
3. Let these silken cords of mutual love continue to unite you in the same pursuits. Suffer ņo allurements to draw you different ways; no contradictory passions to distract your friendship; nor any selfish views, or sordid jealousies, to render those bonds uneasy and oppressive, which are now your ornament, your strength, and you happiness."
SECTION III. The Supreme Ruler of the World. 1. Many kingdoms and countries, full of people, and islands, and large continents, and different climes, make up this whole world : God governs it. The people swarm upon the face of it, like ants upon a hillock. Some are black with the hot sun; some cover themselves with furs against the sharp cold ; some drink of the fruit of the vine; some the pleasant milk of the cocoa nut; and others quencă their thirst with the running stream.
2. All are God's family, he knows every one of them, as a shepherd knows his flock. They pray to him in dif ferent languages, but he understands them all: he hears them all; he takes care of all : None are so great that he cannot punish them; none' are so mean, that he will not protect them.
3. Negro woman, who sittest pining in captivity, and weepest over thy sick child; though no one sees thee, God sees thee; though no one pities thee, God pities thee. Raise thy voice, forlorn and abandoned one ; call upon him from amidst thy bonds; for assuredly he will hear thee. Monarch, that rulest over a hundred states ; whose frown is terrible as death, and whose armies cover the land, boast not thyself, as though there were none above thee. God is above thee; his powerful arm is always over thee; and if thou doest ill, assuredly he will punish thee.
4. Nations of the earth, fear the Lord'; families of men, call
upon the name of your God. Is there any one whom God hath not made ? let him not worship him. Is there any one whom he hath not blessed ? let him not praise him.
SECTION IV. Abraham and Lot: a fine example of wisdom and coni
descension. 1. DOMESTIC altercations began to perplex families in the very childhood of time; the blood even of a brother was shed at an early period. But with how much tenderness and good sense does Abraham prevent the disa.