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SYMPATHY OF BIRDS WITH THEIR KIND. 175
From several facts, however, which have come under my notice I am inclined to think that cruelty is less common among domesticated creatures—that they are even capable of showing between themselves remarkable powers of sympathy.
I have two caged birds, a canary and a goldfinch, both cocks, which are allowed to fly freely about the room by the hour together. One day the goldfinch half stunned himself against the window-pane, and became suddenly quiet. The canary flew from a picture-frame across the room, saw at once that something was wrong, and, perching itself on a flower-pot near to its companion, looked at him with its black, bright, anxious eye, and puffing out its feathers like a sick bird, moped disconsolately-apparently out of pure sympathy.
A friend of mine, living near here, has a large aviary for birds, and has told me many stories of their mutual affection, even between birds of different tribes, and from widely distant parts of the world. I give her own words :-" I was living in town a short time ago, and bought in February a pair of Java sparrows (natives of Melanesia, China and Japan) and a pair of avadavats (natives of Central Africa). I put them into a large cage with some canaries. On looking at them all in the evening, I missed the avadavats, and on closer inspection found that the two Java sparrows were sitting close together, and had each taken under its outer wing one of the avadavats for shelter. For many nights I noticed that the little avadavats sought the same kindly protection, and even in the day-time would creep under the wings of the Java sparrows when the weather was very bitter.
Zebra finches and silver-bills (natives of Australia and of Africa respectively) are most affectionate to each other, and will also take up with any other little forlorn foreigner in the aviary, though often coming from quite different parts of the world. I had a pheasant finch (from West Coast of Africa and St. Helena) and a silver-bill who lived happily together for three years, roosting always in the same nest at night and often sitting on the same perch by day, pruning each other's feathers.
The silver-bill would often stand and sing, whilst the pheasant finch sat beside, listening apparently with great pleasure. Both these birds had lost their mates. When the pheasant finch died, the silver-bill transferred its affections to a lonely Indian spice-bird—also a widower.
Another friend of mine has a small aviary of birds in London, in which lives a silver-bill which has long been without one foot. It hops about cheerfully all day, but every night a little friend, in the shape of an avadavat, roosts close beside it on the same perch, to give it the support its injured leg is incapable of doing.
These facts are, I think, interesting, and quite beyond mere stories of pets. Perhaps they may elicit others from other lovers of living things, to prove that even among dumb creatures, adversity sometimes breeds kindness.
A. M. BUCKTON.
MISS MARIANNE NORTH,
LL nature-lovers owe a debt of gratitude to the lady
who devoted great part of a lifetime to the production of the extensive series of plant-drawings now accom
modated, at her expense, in a gallery in Kew Gardens, and presented by her to the public. Miss Marianne North, a member of the Selborne Society, died on the 30th of last August, and a lengthened notice of her life and work, from the pen of her coadjutor, Mr. W. B. Hemsley, appears in the Fournal of Botany for the current month. From this we condense the following sketch.
Miss North was born at Hastings in 1830, and early developed the great skill in painting flowers that has rendered her name famous. Frequent travel gave her opportunities for exercising this talent, until it grew into an all-absorbing passion. Her father died in 1869, and from that time painting was Miss North's chief occupation. In 1871 or 1872 she visited North America and the West Indies, and painted assiduously, spending more than two months in solitude in a lonely house amongst the hills of Jamaica. Her next voyage was to Brazil, where she was received with much distinction by the Emperor; yet she lived the greater part of the time in a deserted hut in the forest, and her provisions were taken to her from a distance of eight miles by a slave woman, who is commemorated in one of the paintings at Kew. On the return journey Miss North called at Teneriffe. Then followed a trip round the world, with stoppages for work in California, Japan, Borneo, Java, Singapore, and Ceylon, and thence homeward again. The same year she returned to India, visiting the forests of the Himalayas, the chief places of note on the Ganges, and Bombay; and during her absence some five hundred of her paintings were exhibited at South Kensington.
It was after her return from India that she first broached the idea of presenting her collection to the nation, and arrangements were made for the erection of a suitable building in Kew Gardens at her expense.
In order to render the collection more nearly representative of the flora of the world, Miss North next proceeded to Australia, Tasmania, and New Zealand, and the fruits of this long journey are perhaps the finest of the collection, very fully illustrating the most striking features of the marvellous Australasian flora.
During the hanging of the pictures in the gallery provided for them, Miss North was there almost daily, superintending alterations, painting the doors, the panels in the upper gallery, or helping Mr. Hemsley in identifying the plants for the catalogue which he prepared to accompany the drawings. The gallery was opened in July, 1882, and shortly afterwards Miss North began to make arrangements to visit South Africa, Mada
BIRDS AND BONNETS.
gascar, Mauritius, &c. She returned to England in the spring of 1883, enfeebled by an attack of fever ; but, after a few months' comparative repose, proceeded to the Seychelles, where she painted the peculiar palms, screw-pines, and other characteristic plants. In the meantime she had set the builders to work on a new wing to the gallery at Kew to receive the new paintings. In the autumn of 1884 she went to Chili. On her return, in 1885, Miss North at once commenced hanging the new paintings, which, including those from South Africa and the Seychelles, are some two hundred in number.
Every London Selbornian doubtless knows the North Gallery; we trust that these brief remarks may bring it under the notice of dwellers in the country, and induce them to make a point of visiting it when they are next in town. Beautiful as the drawings are, they are rendered additionally interesting by the very excellent catalogue prepared by Mr. Hemsley, which can be purchased in the gallery at a nominal sum. It
may be interesting to give some statistics of the contents of the gallery. Out of about 200 natural orders of flowering plants, as limited in Bentham and Hooker's Genera Plantarum, 146 are represented in this collection of paintings, and the plants depicted belong to no fewer than 727 different genera. With regard to species, the number actually named is under 900; but as specific names have only been given to such as could be identified with ease or without too great an expenditure of time, this is considerably below the total number painted. They are included in 848 paintings; and when we know that they were all painted between 1872 and 1885, and that they by no means represent all the painting done during that period, we can realise to some extent the intense application of the artist. Miss North’s rapidity of execution was as marvellous as her fidelity to nature.
BIRDS AND BONNETS: THE LADIES IN
PARLIAMENT. So large a number of lady Selbornians have been anxious to speak on this subject that we are loath to consign to oblivion the eloquence of our fair contributors, although after the present number we fear we shall be reluctantly compelled to apply the closure. In the communications that have reached us there has been a general consensus of opinion in condemnation of the artificial birds whose use has been advocated by some members of the Seiborne Society.
Miss Rosa Little, Baronshalt, Twickenham, puts the arguments against them in a practical and forcible manner. She says :-“When I was ordering a hat in Richmond the other day the milliner said, . Of course you will let me trim it with Selborne birds ?' I do not know if this is the name by which these birds are generally known, or whether she coined the name knowing me to be a member of the Selborne Society ; but at any rate she meant by the term 'Selborne birds,' to express that they were 'made'ones, not real. At first sight these made' birds may appear to be a way out of the difficulty so often discussed, as to what to wear in winter hats and bonnets in place of real birds and wings, but a moment's reflection will show, I believe, that these “Selborne birds,' if considered
allowable by Selbornians, will prove to be the thin end of the wedge, will undo much of the good that the Society has done, and will lead to a far greater destruction of small birds for millinery purposes than is, unhappily, the case at present. I suppose there are very few persons with any taste who would care to wear a bird so badly made that it is obviously an imitation. If, on the other hand, the bird is made so like nature as to be mistaken for it (I heard two ladies arguing the point in the milliner's shop whether the birds were real or not), one might just as well wear the real thing so far as example is concerned, unless indeed the bird could carry a scroll in its mouth with the inscription for all to read, 'I am a Selborne bird !'
“ Then there is the danger that people who at first were careful that the birds worn should be made' ones, would become lax or indifferent. If the fashion becanie general would the makers be content to use only the feathers of those birds which are used as food ? As the demand for 'made' birds increased the demand for variety would almost certainly increase also, and birds of brilliant plumage would be slaughtered and re-made under the name of “Selborne birds. I can hardly understand how anyone with the smallest love for nature and the beautiful can see anything to admire in a poor little dead bird, or (what is even worse from a merely æsthetic point of view), a bird made to imitate a dead one, spread out on the top of a hat or bonnet. To put it on that ground alone, who would wish to encourage so inartistic a fashion ?
"When in Paris last winter I was struck by the comparatively small number of birds and wings shown in the milliners' windows, and on enquiring the reason at one of the principal shops in the Rue de la Paix, was told there was very little demand for them, and that many of the English and Americans belonged to a Society which was against the wearing of birds and wings. Why cannot the English and Americans in this country show a like spirit ?”
A. M. H., a member of the Bath Branch, is more intense in her denunciation of artificial birds. She writes as follows:-“In reading the letters in last month's NATURE NOTES on birds and bonnets, I am astonished that the writers of some of them have not seen what a great mistake they are making.
By their ingenious devices to procure sham birds and wings, they are doing almost as much harm as if they were wearing real ones. They are lending their influence to promote the very fashion, which, as we are told in the very same issue, it is one of our objects as members of the Selborne Society to discourage. If we could label this made-up plumage “Sham,' we should be all right, but the writers of the letters for the most part congratulate themselves on the impossibility of distinguishing them (the birds, presumably] from real ones. I shall be glad if you will kindly insert this letter in your next issue, as surely the lady members of the Selborne Society will be willing to renounce all birds and plumage when they see how they are promoting a cruel and wicked fashion.”
M.F.L.S. W., Bidboro', near Tunbridge Wells, condemns the use of artificial birds, and suggests the following substitutes for Selbornians :
* Nothing could be more appropriate and pretty in a hat or bonnet than berries or flowers of the wintry season. Mountain ash berries, holly, haws, are all suitable for winter wear, and what can be prettier than the rosy hips when a good imitation? Then there are the white snowberries, bright elderberries, and many others, well-known in our gardens. Chrysanthemums of various colours could well be worn, Christmas roses, snowdrops, and other winter flowers, and if the milliners were repeatedly asked for such articles not always kept in stock, the constant demand would result in the perfect manufacture of such novel and pretty ornaments."
A lady who is well known for her interest in this matter veils her identity under the pseu
Asphodel,” and sends the following
“Stiffly spread thy pointed pinions,
Steel-blue swallow, o'er my hat;
Not alive—but what of that ? ”
nym of "
the first stanza of the “ Song by a Person of Quality, written in the year 1733,” since it lays down the canon that
“Nature must give way to Art." “Another Lady Milliner (member of the Selborne Society)” entirely disapproves of birds, whether real or artificial, as decorations for ladies' headgear. She says :—-“I have been quite horrified to see during my visits to the wholesale houses the myriads of dead birds of all sizes and kinds which are exposed for sale. The practice seems to be increasing, instead of, as some fondly hoped, on the wane.
In one house a large room was completely filled with little corpses. Putting all questions of humanity aside, I find the decoration altogether wrong from an artistic point of view. Birds are in most instances only beautiful when on the wing ; when distorted and twisted into all kinds of shapes they are sometimes actually ugly, and certainly always out of place. Were a fashionable young lady to have a live bird perch on her hat she would as likely as not swoon with fright, I use no birds or wings, but find that feathers of poultry and game and ostrich feathers make up most charming hats and bonnets."
We hope we may be pardoned for publishing the fact that the writer of the foregoing letter is Mrs. Browning, of 39, North Audley Street, who did such good service for the Selborne Society as Hon. Secretary and Treasurer of the Branch at Dublin, where she has unfortunately no successor. Mrs. Browning, who is now, we regret to say, a widow with several young children, has adopted what has become a fashionable profession—that of lady milliner and dressmaker. Mrs. Joachim, Miss Buckton, and others of the most active supporters of the Selborne Society take a great interest in the success of their fellow-member, and have written to us on the subject. From what we hear from them we would most cordially recommend all ladies who belong to the Selborne Society to consult Mrs. Browning on the subject at present under discussion.
Of the other letters on this subject which have reached us we can only print the following most welcome announcement, which we have received from Miss Ada Smith, Hon. Secretary of the Wimbledon Branch :—“If you could find room in November NATURE NOTES, for the following little paragraph which I have seen in a newspaper to-day, I think it might have weight, as the example of the Princess of Wales is of great value. 'The use of feather trimming for winter dresses has been decreed by the magnates of fashion. It is gratifying to know in connection with this matter that the Princess of Wales has given orders that nothing need be submitted for her inspection or that of her daughters in which birds are used as trimming.'
With this cheering "royal message” we are reluctantly compelled to finish the debate, which has evidently had much interest for our lady readers, and for which we are considerably indebted to that energetic Selbornian, Miss S. P. Hawes, whose letter in the September number of NATURE NOTES gave rise to it.
note on a recent article on “Restoration ” I see that you attribute to me, instead of rightly to Mr. C. Roberts, F.R.C.S., the original introduction of the protection of objects of antiquarian interest. In the extension of the aims of the Selborne Society, it has always been necessary to avoid trenching upon the sphere of older societies having special objects. By degrees it became possible to the Selborne Society to secure the sympathy of these older societies, and assure them of any assistance which might be possible through its increase in influential and numerical strength.
I should like to take this opportunity of pointing out to many of our members, who do not devote themselves to enlisting other members, that our success depends mainly on our numerical strength, and on the extent of the area under our influence. A few members in a village, and, as Lord Wolseley once said to me, “ in every regiment” would insure a constant and intelligent (because the