Page images
PDF
EPUB

brilliancy of execution, are unrivalled. There is probably no bird in the world that possesses all the musical qualifications of this king of song, who has derived all from Nature's self. Yes, reader, all!

No sooner has he again alighted, and the conjugal contract has been sealed, than, as if his breast was about to be rent with delight, he again pours forth his notes with more softness and richness than before. He now soars higher, glancing around with a vigilant eye to assure himself that none has witnessed his bliss. When these love-scenes, visible only to the ardent lover of nature, are over, he dances through the air, full of animation and delight, and as if to convince his lovely mate that to enrich her hopes he has much more love in store, he that moment begins anew and imitates all the notes which Nature has imparted to the other songsters of the grove.

THE HUMMING-BIRD.

No sooner has the returning sun again introduced the vernal season, and caused millions of plants to expand their leaves and blossoms to his genial beams, than the little HummingBird is seen advancing on fairy wings, carefully visiting every opening flower-cup, and, like a curious florist, removing from each the injurious insects that otherwise would ere long cause their beauteous petals to droop and decay. Poised in the air, it is observed pceping cautiously, and with sparkling eyes, into their innermost recesses, while the ethereal motions of its pinions, so rapid and so light, appear to fan and cool the flower, without injuring its fragile texture, and produce a delightful murmuring sound, well adapted for lulling the insects to repose.

Then is the moment for the Humming-Bird to secure them. Its long delicate bill enters the cup of the flower, and the protruded double-tubed tongue, delicately sensible, and imbued with a glutinous saliya, touches each insect in succession, and draws it from its lurking-place, to be instantly swallowed. All this is done in a moment, and the bird, as it leaves the flower, sips so small a portion of its liquid honey, that the theft, we may suppose, is looked upon with a grateful feeling by the flower, which is thus kindly relieved from the attacks of her destroyers. Its gorgeous throat in beauty and brilliancy bafies all competition. Now it glows with a fiery hue, and again it is changed to the deepest velvety black. The upper parts of its delicate body are of resplendent changing green; and it throws itself through the air with a swiftness and vivacity hardly conceivable. It moves from one flower to another like a gleam of light, upwards, downwards, to the right, and to the left.

THOMAS HART BENTON.

1782-1858. THOMAS HART BENTON was born in Hillsboro, North Carolina, and was partly educated at the State University. He left before graduation, however, and removed with his widowed mother to Tennessee, where twenty-five miles south of Nashville they made a home, around which a settlement called Bentontown gradually grew up.

He studied law with St. George Tucker, began to practice in Nashville, and was elected to the State Legislature in 1811. In 1815 he removed to St. Louis, and was elected United States Senator in 1820 on the admission of Missouri to the Union. He worked heartily and successfully in the interests of setciers in the West. His title “ Old Bullion” was derived from his famous speeches on the currency,

[graphic][merged small]

during Jackson's administration, and they gained him a European reputation.

He and Calhoun were opposed to each other on almost every question, and they carried on a ferocious warfare in the Senate. He was a Senator for thirty years, 1820-50, and his great work gives an account of men and measures during that

very exciting and intensely interesting period, in which he was himself one of the most prominent actors.

A fine statue was erected to him in the park at St. Louis.

WORKS.

Thirty Years' View of the Workings of Our Government.

Abridgment of the Debates of Congress.
Examination of the Dred Scott Case.

Benton's style as an orator was easy, full, and strong, showing him well acquainted with his subject and confident of his powers.

The “ Thirty Years' View is noted for its excellent arrangement and for a style easy and fluent yet not diffuse. “ It is a succession of historical tableaux," of which the fol. lowing extract presents one of the most famous.

THE DUEL BETWEEN RANDOLPH AND CLAY.

(From Thirty Years' View.*) Saturday, the Sth of April (1826)—the day for the duelhad come, and almost the hour. It was noon, and the meets ing was to take place at 41 o'clock. I had gone to see Mr. Randolph before the hour, and for a purpose ; and, besides, it was so far on the way, as he lived half-way to Georgetown, and we had to pass through that place to cross the Potomac into Virginia at the Little Falls Bridge. I had heard nothing from him on the point of not returning the fire since the first communication to that effect, eight

* By permission of D. Appleton and Company, N. Y.

« PreviousContinue »