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seem appropriate. It will be observed that the middle or cleansing claw has a slight twist, and the comb differs from that on the middle claw of Ardea in the case of the bird under notice; the comb really appears to be an addition carried out to the end of the claw, and is doubtless an useful and well-used instrument; it is flexible to a certain degree, and it would be more proper to describe it as a scraping instrument than a comb; in fact, it is the inside edge of the middle claw produced into a scraper of about sixteen broad curved flexible teeth.
As far as we know, the spotted shag dives from the surface of the water, not from the heights from which some of the anserine order dash on their prey; yet those who examine its structure will note how admirably its anatomy is calculated to resist the strain or pressure caused by its mapper of obtaining food, the coracoid and adjacent bones being not only in themselves of great strength, but also firmly attached to the sternum. The eye, subject to so much exposure, is defended, in addition to the armature of the lore, by a circlet of round flexible plates. In life, at certain seasons, these are of deep turquoise-blue, and add greatly to the appearance of this bird.
Perhaps no other species of our Pelicanidæ is sooner or more completely robbed by death of so much of its beauty and character as P. punctatus; the evanescent colours of the membranes that decorate as well as protect certain parts of its body, and the varying tints of yellow, green, blue and purple defy the skill of the taxidermist to preserve, and fade away into the semblance of a mass of leathery wrinkles.
The changes that take place in the plumage and in the coloration of the membranous processes hare led some persons to make two species of the spottted shag; but a careful study of a large series of specimens, procured at various periods of the year, and a tolerably close observation of the bird in its favourite haunts, prevents the writer from coinciding in this view. Having described the young from the embryo through several of its changes of appearance till it is of a size almost to quit the nest, we now give some notes of its state of plumage at different ages and seasons.
Young female killed in March. — Upper surface dull smoky gray, the apex of the scapulars of dull greenish brown; outer wing-coverts dull brown, edged with pale fawn; under surface white; thighs dull brown; tail-coverts dark brown; tail dark brown, shafts white; lore and chin yellowish flesh, tarsi and feet dull flesh-colour. Female killed in August.—Upper surface dark smoky brown, with a greenish glint on the head and neck, scapulars terminating in a deep green spot; back dark brown, changing to dark green; under surface while; throat and anterior of neck pale ash, leaving a broad stripe of white from the base of the upper mandible below the eye as far as the wing; lore and chin (of fine texture) dull, rather yellowislı flesh-colour; tarsi and feet dull Aesh-colour. Males of the same age present no observable contrast in their plumage to that of the other sex. When this shag is about a year old the membranous processes, which are such conspicuous features, gradually lose their former texture, and become coarsely granulated; dark green spots are sparingly dotted on the wing-coverts, the throat assumes a darker hue, the white shafts of the tail-feathers are exchanged for rectrices with shafts of slaty black; the two centre feathers are the first to be replaced; tarsi and feet take a more decided tinge of yellow. In all these changes there is a remarkable want of constancy, so that to note down all the variations that may be observed in an extensive series would exceed all reasonable limits for such a paper as this.
In the nuptial plumage this common bird becomes one of the handsomest of our sea-fowl; the great and striking alteration conferred by snow-white accessory plumes that decorate the head lasts but a short time in perfection in either sex, and gradually moults away into the more sober garb of the summer plumage. In the month of August adult birds have the head greenish brown, sparingly interspersed with narrow white feathers; immediately above the forehead rises a tuft of dark brownish green feathers, while another of the same shade forms a long irregular crest just above the nape; this inclines forward, reminding one of a clown's toupet; on either side a line of snow-white feathers, more or less produced, extends from above the eye to the wing, meeting in a broad band below the nape; upper surface brownish gray, marked with deep green spots; back deep glossy black-green; throat blackish green; under surface leaden gray; lower abdomen, tail, and thighs deep glossy black-green; thighs often sprinkled with narrow white plumes, which, like those on the head and neck, are of temporary duration; mandibles horn-colour; lore bluish purple, the eye-circlet of turquoise-blue; chin greenish, often bluish purple, deepest at the point; tarsi and feet yellow.
Summer plumage, November.--Head, neck and upper surface dark greenish gray; wing-coverts and scapulars dotted with deep green spots; throat and neck pale gray, mottled with dull green; under surface leaden gray; lower abdomen black-green; rectrices black.
Measurements.—Bill from gape to point, three inches four lines; tarsus, two inches five lines; wing, nine inches two lines; length, twenty-eight inches. Average weight of adult birds may be fairly estimated at two pounds thirteen ounces.
When this bird is cruising in search of prey its long neck is often moved from side to side, reminding one of the habits of the nearly allied Plotinæ; this is observable, too, in the young nestlings: of some species of Plotinæ it is said that the neck is always in oscillation.
T. H. Potts.
Zoology of the Royal Academy. By EDWARD NEWMAN. In the traditional art criticisms handed down to us through a period of thousands of years, we find as a matter of course much that, to our sluggish intellects, seems mythical, apocryphal, incredible. We do not, just at present, doubt that twenty or thirty centuries ago the intellect and hands of man did produce an Apollo or a Venus; aud we are fully aware they could not do so now. The only ground of this faith is the existence of the Apollo and the Venus present with us; we can see and handle them: the ground of our want of faith in the present existence of power to produce them is simply that it is not exercised. This state of things will soon be changed. As we advance towards that higher condition on earth for which we are destined, carbonate of lime, for of such is the Apollo, such the Venus,-and we must learn to call things by their right names,-carbonate of lime will be required for more useful purposes; for instance, as an ingredient of cement, or drugs, or bread. Then will the hammer and the mill do their work : and this accomplished, the sceptics will exclaim triumphantly, “ As for ancient art it is all a myth; you cannot trust these traditions; were there any foundation for them, evidence must exist: let me ask you plainly, do you believe our artists could produce such things now? If therefore, in this advanced state, we could not produce them now, how could our fathers produce them.” There is no speculation in this: Baalbec and
SECOND SERIES-VOL. IX.
Palmyra, the Acropolis and the Parthenon are already mending the roads. When, therefore, we read of the glories of ancient art, it would be mere folly to doubt their approaching annihilation merely because we have now the evidence of its existence before our eyes or in our hands.
We are told that three or four thousand years ago,—that then or some still earlier period,—there were paintings representing fruit so accurately, so exactly like real fruit, that they had to be protected by wire or some similar contrivance to prevent the birds from pecking them, and thus damaging a valuable property. A kindred fact has been repeatedly asserted of the portraits of dogs, namely, that they were so life-like that living dogs would always stop in the streets where the portraits were exhibited to try conclusions with them.
Dedalus again, whom Bell, following Spence, and Spence the authors of antiquity, describes as “the most skilful artist Athens or Greece ever produced," arrived at such perfection that his statues were said to be animated, to see, to roll their eyes, to walk, nay, would fly away unless they were chained. We who are accustomed to contemplate unmoved and in comparative indifference the pigtail of George III. in Cockspur-street, and the grand equine statue in Leicester-square, seem scarcely to see the necessity of this precaution, and therefore indulge a comforting reflection in our immeasurable superiority: we thank Heaven we are not so credulous, nor so easily “taken in.”
We are scarcely justified, howerer, in taking this comfort to ourselves at present. Such art treasures as remain were of a later date; those attributed to Phidias or Praxiteles, when art had been perceptibly declining through a series of centuries, fully justify the most exalted idea of their perfections, and if we could trace art history ten thousand years further back than Phidias we should probably find evidence of as great a deterioration in that famous sculptor as we now fancy we detect between him and the great Anonymus who has shed such a glory over Leicester-square. Before we venture to express doubts on such a subject we should at least reflect how immeasurably superior was the poetry, painting, sculpture and architecture of Greece to our own, as exhibited around us and in our midst, and how much better qualified was the art-historian of the period to form a correct judgment than we can possibly be at this remote period. Even our mental inability to accept such statements, and I grant we cannot accept them in their entirety, is an evidence of our decadence. I wish no one to believe that the chaining of statues four thousand years ago was a measure rendered necessary by their quasi-vitality, but I wish every one to understand that art was then so vastly superior to what it is now as to justify a belief which to our narrower intellects and education appears utterly preposterous.
I have not the materials, nor have I space here to descant on the partial rerival or rennaissance of art in the days of Snyders and Weeninx, Cuyp and Potter; though these and a hundred others have abundant claims to admiration as painters of animals: boars and dogs, peacocks and poultry, horses and cows,-aye, and bulls, too,-were produced with wonderful profusion and success; but their day seems to have passed, and their very names, unless in a few more prominent instances, are forgotten.
Another long period of obscurity followed, dissipated at last by the appearance of Sir Edwin Landseer: he made a mark early in life, and soon rose to be the unquestioned exponent and teacher of all that was life-like, and natural, and truthful in the representation of animals, and so he remained to the end of his life. Year after year the walls of the Royal Academy were rendered attractive by the work of his brush, and animal painting, until his time contented with a very humble position in art, gradually rose until it assumed unquestioned the highest rank. And now he is gone: time after time, visit after visit, a feeling of sickness and sorrow comes over me as I turn the leaves of the Catalogue or wander over the walls, searching for something that I know is not there. The sun of animal painting has set, and set behind a cloud; and I cannot shake off the feeling of chill consequent upon the absence of his rays: unconsciously I repeated to myself that hackneyed, but, alas ! inevitable conclusion, “We ne'er shall look upon his like again.” Last year he was amongst us, perhaps but as a shadow of his former self,—an echo of that talent which had for so many years spoken trumpet-tongued,-now there is not even the shadow, not even the echo. This feeble tribute to the memory of one who has given me such unmingled, such instructive pleasure, was a debt of gratitude I have long desired to pay.
The present exhibition is one of surpassing excellence - an excellence due to the very liberal admission of paintings by outa siders: the R. A. is not always an unchallenged order of merit;