Page images
PDF
EPUB

were long since corrected by Bonaparte, &c.-For Bonaparte, read Audubon. Bonaparte was more distinguished for his addenda than for his “ Corrigenda" of his master's works.As to the attempt to make Wilson, of whom Audubon is evidently a liberal borrower, responsible for all the errors of previous nomenclators, I can but smile. I cannot be guilty of assuming to defend that eloquent pioneer poet of the woods, swamps, bays and fields, from a pirate shot. I would sooner deliver a lecture to prove that the sun gave light and warmed animal creation into existence and maturity.

III. Cypress.—“Nevertheless, I do not care to believe everything which the students of Linnæus and Buffon say, who talk of flocks of partridges' and mean bevies of quail.'

Mr. H.-Though Mr. C. does not care to believe all that the students of Linnæus and Buffon say, I think,” &c.

Mr. H.! Mr. H.! is that fair, “in sport,” or in earnest, to tear my sentence apart, and smother my distinction between those students of Linnæus and Buffon who do talk of “flocks of partridges," and those who do not ? Nimrod, and all the Dii Minores forbid ! that I should be convicted of disrespect to the true students of good masters. I only spoke of the boys who forgot some part of their lesson, and, with confident ability, trusted to their own manufacture, or to doubtful authority. Need I answer a charge of “scandalum magnatum" before it is proved ?

IV. Cypress.--"By-the-by, what is the reason that the whole race of ornithologists call the partridge “tetrao," which is Latin for a bustard and a wild turkey ?Mr. H.-"Unwhiskered assertion.”—Again;

“ Mr. C., however, has not even consulted his dictionary, honestly, or mine is a different edition, and contains the following defini. tions; Tetrao, Grouse ; Perdix, Partridge ; Coturnix, Quail ;

[ocr errors]

and Otis, Bustard ;” and “naturalists do not use any of them in a different sense

In answer to all this, I shall simply quote authorities. My dictionaries certainly ARE of a different edition from those of “ Mr. H.” as he suggests.

There was, in old times, a man named Pliny, who, on account of his knowing all the wonders and varieties of nature, was called “ the Naturalist.He was almost next to Solomon, the beginner of bird biographies.

This author, not unknown to fame, distinctly used the word « tetrao" for a “ bustard,” or bistard.* See him for the fact, and Ainsworth, also, who, in the Dictionary line, has always been considered a very respectable person. If the two last named people don't know what is Latin for a “ bustard," I am at a loss to know who does.

Ainsworth, moreover, calls “ Otis” a sort of owl, quoting in illustration the remarkable phrase “ Quas Hispania aves tardos appellat," from Pliny aforesaid-—"aves tardos"-slow birds ! Now we very well know that the owl is a slow bird, and that the Bustard is a brisk one. In proof of the latter fact read from any author who lives where the Bustard runs, how difficult a bird he is to get a shot at.—It is no more than fair to admit, however, that Ainsworth also calls the Bustard Buteo." That, nevertheless, is only a synonyme.

Again ; Kenrick, in his substantial well-reputed dictionary of 1783, defines Bustard—F. bistardo— Wild Turkey.

The learned Dr. Adam Littleton, in his quarto Latin Dictionary of 1723, defines a bustard Otistarda-TETRAO !

* Mr. Hawes is in error here.—Pliny uses the word Tetrao for Grouse ; Ainsworth the lexicographer who was no ornithologist, confounded the bustard with the grouse, practically knowing neither. –Editor's NOTE,

bustardusasio. In another place he distinctly translates « Tetrao" a bustard, or bistardo.

Dr. Johnson also renders “Bustard” Turkey, quoting old Hakewill.*

I trust, therefore, that I am not entirely without authority for my intimation that “Tetrao" is one of the synonymical words for “wild turkey or bustard.” I shall not pretend to show that the old Romans ever knew the wild turkey, though it is hard to tell what “ Gallus Africanus-avis turcica vel Afra” was—called, also, by Ainsworth, gallus Numidianus, .-which those splendid epicures used to send for to Africa. It cost Pennant, in his British Zoology, some pains to prove that the Romans knew not Turkey. It is enough for me to know upon the authority of a shrewd writer in Rees, that turkeys were brought into England by the way of Spain, from Mexico and Yucatan, so early as the year 1524, since which time the whole race of modern ornithologists have written. They did not begin to publish their studies, and proposed divisions, until about the middle of the eighteenth century. The application of the Latin word Tetrao to Turkey may have been made immediately upon the introduction of the bird to the Eastern Continent, and so have justified the subsequent lexicographers whom I have quoted, in their definitions. It does not amount to much to refer to the fact, that the prevailing impression is, that the old Romans fed not on turkey, for with the same sort of triumph I might refer to the

* Otis, ltis, is the Latin and Greek word for Bustard

-see Xenophon's Anabasis. The bustard, though swift on foot, is absurdly slow on the wing. The rendering Buteo, bustard, is another ridiculous blunder, of the lexicographer, Buteo, is latin for Buzzard, a species of hawk or kite. Dr. Johnson's rendering of bustard—wild turkey—is another absurd lexicographer's blunder, the birds being no more alike or congeners, than the owl and game cock. The Latin for Turkey is Meleagris-Editor'S NOTE.

1

fact that there is no evidence of their knowledge of any sort of grouse, unless, indeed, partridge, and quail are to be referred to that genus, and for these they had distinct names, viz. Perdix and Coturnix. Linnæus, in 1740 or thereabouts, does so refer to them, and in the mention of the quail in what he esteems its proper place, calls our quail Tetrao Virginianus. He, however, finds another species in Maryland, adjoining,—which is, nevertheless, precisely the same bird, and ushers it to the world under the title of Tetrao Marilandus.

But this reference to Quail again reminds me that I am trespassing upon your pages, and that the subject is a dry one. I come now to a conclusion.

V.—“ It is not the less to be admired that they call the quail Perdix Virginiana,” says Cypress, finally, in his note.

And so they do. Latham begins the nomenclature, leaving out the Tetrao of Linnæus, and substituting perdix. Yes, Mr. Turf, that is the fact, according to those learned cognoscents. We leap out with our dogs, and do some moderate work among a few bevies, as we call them, of what we also call Quail, but when we come home, we are told that the quail does not live in this country—that we have only tumbled Virginian partridges—Perdix Virginiana! So says Mr. Audubon. What then? Have we no quail in this country ? Suppose we shoot in Maryland, is our game, then, the Virginian Partridge! Latham says no; they are the Maryland Partridge? What shall we call our bird in New York, Jersey, and the New England States? Perdix Neo-Eboracensis? Perdix Nova-Cesariensis ? Perdix Nova-Brittanicus A fico for these affectations. Why do not ornithologists agree upon standard names to put at the head of their

genus ?* And what is more natural than that they should, in a case like this, take the long, well-settled, and established word Coturnix for the name of the genus of the tribe, and then let the different species come in with their tributes of honor and respect? Yet Latham, Audubon, and others, have utterly stricken Coturnix from existence, so far as the country is concerned.

But enough. I forbear. I had not aspired to pull down, or even to amend the system as established, but have merely made a passing comment upon it, in one or two particulars.

The strictures of Mr. H. have compelled me to defend myself from the charge of entire ignorance, want of honesty, and constructive falsehood. Having thus the opportunity

I will assure Mr. H. that there is no authority of modern date, however potential, that will induce us sportsmen and farmers of the North to give up the name of “ quail." When our New England forefathers first arrived in this country, some of them wrote back the most glowing accounts of their new home, and among other game enumerated or

Quailes," appearing to observe no difference between those they found here and those they had left behind in England.f Quails all over the world belong to the same genus. The quail of Cuba, which I have seen on its native island, is a bright various plumage-colored bird, painted as it were, with almost all the colors of the rainbow. But this is only his style of dress in the West Indian seas. The partridge-all

before me,

* The confusion and uncertainty produced by the affectation and vanity of ornithologists appear well illustrated even in the Rev. Gilbert White in his History of Selbourne. He speaks of "the little American partridge, the Ortix borealis of Naturalists,” Pray, what is that? Ortyz is Latin for a plantain.

+ Vide Hazard's State Papers.

« PreviousContinue »