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This bird is very commonly mistaken for the swallow, which builds almost exclusively in the rafters of barns and out-houses, never under the eaves.

The swallow, next to the nightingale the favorite bird of all the poets, has many references to his flight and his appearance as the harbinger of spring.

The swallow stopt as he hunted the bee.

records at once the insectivorous tastes of the bird, and the fact that it catches its prey when on the wing. Some doubt having been suggested as to whether the swallow does or does not catch bees, the practical evidence of Dixon (always an accurate observer) deserves consideration. Writing of the bee-eater he says: "They were busy hawking for insects and mingling with swifts and swallows."

The May-fly is torn by the swallow, the sparrow speared by the shrike, And the whole little wood where I sit is a world of plunder and prey,

sings Maud's disconsolate lover, defining with scientific accuracy no less than with alliterative charm, the feeding habits of the swallow and the cruelty of the butcher-bird.

One small fact impressed itself sufficiently upon the poet's mind to deserve repeated notice.

As careful robins eye the delver's toil

occurs twice in "Geraint and Enid," first in describing the keen glance with which Geraint scanned his bride-elect in her faded silk, and secondly the still keener scrutiny of her face after his harsh words. The feeding habits of the robin are here expressed in one brief line. Any one who cares to watch one of these pretty little creatures perched near the gardener as he turns up the soil can testify to the bright-eyed watchfulness, head on one

side, with which he regards the digging operations, darting down upon his food the instant it appears. Possibly the robin was a favorite with the poet, for in "Locksley Hall" he is again alluded to:

In the spring a fuller crimson comes upon the robin's breast,

In the spring the wanton lapwing gets himself another crest,

In the spring a livelier iris changes on the burnished dove.

Here three separate notes are made of the renewal of plumage by birds in the spring-the beautifying of the males during the breeding season, when the brilliancy of their coloring helps them to find favor in the eyes of their little mates. Another notable reference to change of plumage is made in "The Last Tournament:"

The ptarmigan that whitens ere his hour

Woos his own end.

The protective coloring of both birds and eggs is a subject which increasingly occupies the attention of ornithologists and oologists. Upon their plumage depends the very existence of many birds and the survival of their young in that race which is to the fittest. No better example of protective plumage could have been given than that of the ptarmigan. This bird, which in British latitudes is to be found chiefly in the Highlands and mountainous districts of the North, so closely resembles, when clothed in its summer plumage, the boulder-strewn hillsides which it frequents, that its detection is almost impossible. But with the approach of winter and the consequent covering of the hills with a mantle of snow, the ptarmigan changes his appearance. His sober hues are gradually replaced by snowy plumage, and as a pure white bird he defies his enemies. But if this transformation

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Of old sang Horace in his bantering vein
That every age gives birth to yet a worse;
It was the time when a slow-ripened curse
Brake on the ancient world, and men were fain
To veil with laughter hearts which heaved in pain.
But the new era entered to reverse

That heartless presage, and our England knows

A law more fruitful. In her Abbey fane,
Where she has gathered under one proud roof
The rich memorials of her growing state,
Among the noble dead in serried rows

That line the sacred walls, all laureate,
Stand the three Cannings, as a double proof
That a great sire may boast a son as great.
Robert F. Horton.

Good Words.


At a late sitting of the Chamber of Deputies M. Paul de Cassagnac quoted the familiar anecdote about Marshal de MacMahon and the negro. Everybody knows the story, for it has become classic; but, as a matter of fact, it was never anything but a legend and that is perhaps why its authenticity is never questioned. I have a notion however that the gallant Marshal in heaven may not object to having the exact truth told.

Nobody is in a better position to do this than myself, who actually assisted, in a way, at the birth of this famous bon-mot. One day about the middle of May, while the Marshal was still President of the Republic, he paid an official visit to the school at Saint-Cyr; and after the grand review in the courtyard, he requested, according to custom, that the pupils who had the best record should be presented to him by the officer in command. Among them was a young negro, the son of an African chief who had been very friendly to France; and the boy had been educated at Saint-Cyr, at the expense of the state precisely in acknowledgment of the services rendered by his father. Wishing to be particularly gracious in his treatment of this young man, the Marshal tapped him familiarly on the shoulder and said: "Well, my friend, and how do you like France?" "Very much, M. le Maréchal." "Have they treated you well at school?"

"Very well, indeed, M. le Maréchal." "And you," said Gen. MacMahon, turning to the officer, "Are you satisfied with this lad?"

"Entirely so, M. le President! He has been an excellent pupil-very industrious, and altogether irreproachable."

*Translated for The Living Age.

"Bravo!" said the General, and turning to the young man again, he shook him warmly by the hand and added:"Go on as you have begun!"

Nothing, of course, could have been simpler or more natural. But I was dining that evening at Mme. Adam's where Edmond About, who was the life of those political gatherings, gave his version of the affair. Gambetta was there, and Girardin, John LeMoinue, Challamel-Lacour, Le Royer, and several others to whom About told the story as follows:

"Ah, ha!" says the Marshal to the young man, "So you're the negro!" "Yes, M. le Maréchal."

"Very well, my friend. Go on as you have begun.”

The success of this sally may be imagined. That night at the reception which followed the dinner, everybody was repeating it and the next day it was all over Paris. It won the good Marshal a reputation for artlessness which contributed not a little, among other things, to his defeat on the 16th of May. Great events often spring from small causes.

Edmond About's witticisms also gave rise to a whole series of similar anecdotes, which ended by completely riddling the reputation for intelligence of the unlucky Marshal.

The press took up the game and played it merrily. All sorts of silly stories, old and new, were fathered upon MacMahon, who to do him justice, was exactly as impassive under the hail-storm of ridicule as he had been in the fire of battle. But this fire was fed with a will. Not merely the little illustrated papers, but the gravest of our political journals, went into the business with enthusiasm. The thing was often overdone, but a legend had

been created, and the great public swallowed everything with entire credulity. Men retailed, for example, ineptitudes like the following:

The Marshal was one day crossing the Place des Pyramides with the Duc de Broglie. "Look here, my dear duke," says he, "I wish you would tell me exactly who Joan of Arc was?"


"She was a .very distinguished Frenchwoman, M. le Maréchal! was one of the most illustrious heroines in our history. She was burned alive by the English—”

"Oh come, my dear duke! You must be joking!"

"I assure you not, M. le Maréchal! It is matter of history-"

"Don't tell me any such nonsense!" replied the Marshal rather sharply. "A woman burned alive by the English! Why, think of the talk it would have made!"

It is all an old story now, and seems childish enough when repeated; but at that time it was a regular method of warfare; and pin-pricks without number made a hole in the end. All the more because friends as well as foes took part in the little game and one can be betrayed only by one's friends. I was at that time editing the XIXe Siécle, and it was my business to keep the public informed concerning the innumerable short trips that the Marshal was making all about France. There were a dozen or more of us journalists engaged upon papers holding the most diverse opinions; but we were the best of friends among ourselves, always went to the same hotel, breakfasted and dined together, and briskly maintained, when on our travels, the fire of jokes at the Marshal's expense, which enlivened the boulevards of Paris.

One day the city papers came out with a brand new story apropos of the

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visit to Normandy. At Lisieux, he had, very properly, held an official reception; and a large contingent of the clergy had come to pay their respects, headed by a very venerable ecclesiastic, the dean of all the priests in that region. The old man, so said the papers, delivered his address of welcome in a high, quavering voice, whereupon the Head of the State, with a vague notion of compli menting him upon his remarkable state of preservation inquired:

"And how old are you, Mr. Dean?" "Ninety-five, M. le. Maréchal." "Ninety-five," exclaimed the President admiringly, "and not dead yet!"

Of course the gallant general never said anything of the kind. But we telegraphed the tale to the Paris papers -our only excuse being, that we did not invent it. It was brought in to us at dinner, hot and hot, by one of our comrades on the high-conservative press; one whose journal was among those most devoted to the Marshal. do not say that he requested us to make the anecdote public, but where would be the charm of journalism, if its disciples could not have a little fun among themselves?


This is the way we all wrote history; I do not know that it did Marshal de MacMahon much harm. Even if his reputation for artlessness had been well founded, it could not have extinguished the splendor of his military services. It was not as a statesman that he was chosen President of the Republic. It was as a soldier pure and simple, and to one and all of the nonsensical tales concocted and circulated about him he might have replied in the picturesque words of Bugeaud:

"It is not necessary for a soldier to have invented powder, if only he knows how to use it!"

Emmanuel Arène.

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