Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

cause the American public feels awkward who's who. What a waste of time, what in employing such stilted terms of address, an inconvenience, and what an unnecesthey are not often used. I remember that sary amount of irritation and annoyance on one occasion a much respected Chief

all this causes.

How much better to be Executive, on my proposing, in accord able to address any person you meet ance with diplomatic usage and precedent, simply as Mr. So-and-So, without unto address him as “Your Excellency,' wittingly treading on somebody's sensibegged me to substitute instead “Mr. tive corns! Americans have shown their President." The plain democratic "Mr." common sense in doing away with titles suits the democratic American taste much altogether, an example which the sister better than any other title, and is applied Republic of China is following. An ilequally to the President of the Republic lustrious name loses nothing for having and to his coachman. Indeed the plain to stand by itself without prefixes and sufname John Smith, without even "Mr.” fixes, handles and tails. Mr. Gladstone not only gives no offense, where some was no less himself for not prefixing his higher title might be employed, but fits name with Earl, and the other titles to just as well, and is in fact often used. which it would have entitled him, as he Even prominent and distinguished men could have done had he not declined the do not resent nicknames; for example, the so-called honor. Indeed, like the “Great celebrated person whose name is so in- Commoner," he, if that were possible, entimately connected with that delight of deared himself the more to his countryAmerican children and grown-ups—the men because of his refusal. A name, "Teddy Bear.” This characteristic, like which is great without resorting to the so many other American characteristics, borrowed light of titles and honors, is is due not only to the love of equality and greater than any possible suffix or affix independence, but also to the dislike of which could be appended to it. any waste of time.

In conclusion, American manners are In countries where there are elaborate but an instance or result of the two rules of etiquette concerning titles and predominant American characteristics to forms of address, none but a Master of which I have already referred, and which Ceremonies can hope to be thoroughly reappear in so many other things Amerifamiliar with them, or to be able to ad- can. A love of independence and of dress the distinguished people without equality, early inculcated, and a keen abwithholding from them their due share horrence of waste of time, engendered by of high-sounding titles and epithets; and, the conditions and circumstances of a new be it whispered, these same distinguished country, serve to explain practically all people, however broad-minded and mag- the manners and mannerisms of Amernanimous they may be in other respects, icans. Even the familiar spectacle of are sometimes extremely sensitive in this men walking with their hands deep in respect. And even after one has mas- their trousers' pockets, or sitting with tered all the rules and forms, and can ap- their legs crossed, needs no other explanapreciate and distinguish the various nice tion, and to suggest that, because Amershades which exist between “His Serene icans have some habits which are peculiHighness," "His Highness," "His Royalarly their own, they are either inferior or Highness," and "His Imperial Highness," unmanly, would be to do them a grave or between “Rt. Rev.” and “Most Rev.," injustice. one has yet to learn what titles a particu- Few people are more warm-hearted,

person has, and with what particular genial, and sociable than the Americans. form of address he should be approached, i do not dwell on this, because it is quite an impossible task even for a Master of unnecessary. The fact is perfectly faCeremonies, unless he always has in his miliar to all who have the slightest knowlpocket a Burke's Peerage to tell him edge of them. Their kindness and

lar

warmth to strangers are particularly we sat opposite each other without expleasant, and are much appreciated by changing a word. I thought I was too their visitors. In some other countries, formal and reserved, so I endeavored to the people, though not unsociable, sur- improve matters by occasionally looking round themselves with so much reserve up at him as if about to address him, but that strangers are at first chilled and re- every time I did so he looked down as pulsed, although there are no pleasanter though he did not wish to see me. Finally or more hospitable persons anywhere to I gave up the attempt. This is the genbe found when once you have broken the eral habit with English gentlemen. They ice, and learned to know them; but it is will not speak to a stranger without a the stranger who must make the first ad- proper introduction; but in the case I vances, for they themselves will make no have mentioned surely the rule would effort to become acquainted, and their have been more honored by a breach than manner is such as to discourage any by the observance. Seeing that we were efforts on the part of the visitor. You fellow students, it might have been premay travel with them for hours in the sumed that we were gentlemen and on an same car, sit opposite to them, and all the equal footing. How different are the while they will shelter themselves behind manners of the American! You can a newspaper, the broad sheets of which hardly take a walk, or go for any distance effectively prohibit any attempts at closer in a train, without being addressed by a acquaintance. The following instance, stranger, and not infrequently making a culled from a personal experience, is an friend. In some countries the fact that illustration. I was a law student at you are a foreigner only thickens the ice, Lincoln's Inn, London, where there is a in America it thaws it. This delightful splendid law library for the use of the trait in the American character is also students and members of the Inn. I used traceable to the same cause as that which to go there almost every day to pursue has helped us to explain the other peculimy legal studies, and generally sat in the arities which have been mentioned. To same quiet corner. The seat on the op- good Americans, not only are the citizens posite side of the table was usually occu- of America born equal, but the citizens of pied by another law student. For months the world are also born equal.

THE MENACE FROM ABOVE?

Walter PRICHARD EATON Walter Prichard Eaton (1878- ), nature writer and dramatic critic, is a resident of Sheffield, Massachusetts. His love of fields and rustic countryside, and his delight in the habits and vagaries of bird and beast show him in spirit with John Burroughs. In Berkshire Fields (1920), from which comes the chapter “The Menace from Above," is a collection of nature studies belonging to the class of generalized description, and dependent for their charm on careful observation and attractive style.

EVERY mouse in the fields and mead- lin to London, and far less effectively ows, every rabbit that crouches under the combated. They live under the menace thicket, every grouse and pheasant, even of the raptores, or birds of prey, the fish and frogs and muskrats in the waters eagles, hawks, falcons, and owls, certain and the squirrels and song-birds of the species of which are still far commoner forest, live under a menace from above, than the ordinary person supposes, even in no less terrible to them than the Zeppe- the settled sections of our northeastern

states. The terror comes to them out of i From In Berkshire Fields by Walter Prichard Eaton. Copyright, 1920, by Harper

the air, it drops with the speed of lightand Brothers. Reprinted by permission. ning, and kills with extraordinary

one.

strength and ferocity. Mere size is lit- pines. The hawk made no effort to fight tle protection, for a goshawk will easily back, nor did he even seem greatly ankill a rooster and even carry him off. noyed. Without any attempt to dodge That menacing shadow over the hen- or change his line of fight, he gradually yard which causes such a com

tion on a accelerated his speed, swung down wind, still summer day in reality hovers over all and disappeared, the four crows being left the land of the little wild folk, by night astern after about a mile. Just what he as well as by day, and tragedy falls like had done to annoy them I cannot say. the traditional bolt from the blue in open He may have been hungry and attacked field and sedgy marsh and silent forest. But it doesn't pay to attack a crow. On the twenty-ninth day of March, 1918, E pluribus unum is their motto. LiterI found a strange record on my mountain- ally thousands of crows will gather in side. The body of a small skunk dangled less than two hours to attack a great over a bent sapling, about four feet from horned owl which has killed one of their the ground. Beneath were

snow and

number. As a rule, I doubt if the hawks mud, without a track in them. The and owls trouble the crows very much, skunk showed no mark of shot, nor had even though their nests are so similarly there been any hunters in that vicinity. placed in the tops of the forest trees. He could hardly have climbed up and I had hardly finished watching this litstraddled a sapling to die a natural death; tle battle over the pines when, on looking besides, there were blood-marks on his upward, I saw a big red-tailed hawk (the head, throat, and back. In all proba- large bird commonly and mistakenly bility he had been killed by a great called a "hen-hawk") sailing far aloft on horned owl, that being one of the few almost motionless pinions. It is a beaucreatures I know which have any fond- tiful Alight, this of the red-tailed hawk, ness for skunks, and either dropped be only exceeded in consummate ease, percause the owl wasn't hungry or else haps, by the turkey buzzard of the South placed on the limb preparatory to eating, which is undoubtedly the king of aërothe owl having been scared away before nauts. He was sailing in great circles, the meal could begin. At any rate, I apparently aimless, and it seemed incredicould see no other explanation.

ble that from such a height he could see It was on the eighteenth day of March his prey on the earth below, even prey as this same year that I first noticed the large as a rabbit, not to mention mice, hawks so prominent in the air. It was which are the chief staple of his diet. also the day that bird song and spring Yet he was probably intently watching warmth were first apparent. Walking the earth beneath, as his great loops along a highroad above a pine-filled val- swung him northward (much like the ley, I heard a loud commotion in the trees, connected capital O's we used to have to and suddenly a score of crows burst up push across the page of our "writingabove the pines like black fragments of an books" at school), and sooner or later he explosion. In their midst was a bird of would drop from his aërial pathway and about the same size, which speedily made swing aloft again with his quarry. off. Four crows went in pursuit, how- That same day I saw a third hawk, sitever. I was too far away to make out ting quietly on top of a large log in a with any certainty what variety of hawk pasture within two hundred feet of the this bird was, and the light was in my trolley track. The car was moving rapface, in addition. It was probably a idly, so I had little time for observation, Cooper's hawk. But I could see the four but it seemed to be a red-shouldered crows fly over him, and dart down every hawk, which is a trifle smaller than few feet to take a peck at his head. the red-tailed, but rather closely resemMeanwhile the crows which remained be- bles it, especially in habits of Aight. I hind kept up an incessant racket in the could see, however, that the noisy passage of the trolley did not disturb this bird in pigeon-hawk showed 85 per cent. of other the least. He was facing in the opposite birds, and the duck-hawk 35 per cent. of direction, with his head down, as if he poultry and game and 45 per cent. of were watching the ground. It may be other birds. In none was there any comthere was some quarry beneath that log mensurate percentage of mice or insects to which he was waiting for. A cat at a

balance this destruction. mouse-hole can be no more patient than So far as my own state of Massachua hawk.

setts is concerned, there is no doubt that It is by no means true that all hawks

the goshawk during the severe winter of are seriously destructive of desirable bird 1917-18 was the most serious menace to and animal life. The so-called “hen all our small wild game, next to the hawk” is a case in point. Because this weather, and even a serious menace to hawk, and the red-shouldered hawk, also, our domestic fowls. Not only did this have soared in their great, beautiful cir- vicious, cruel, and incredibly swift and cles high above our clearings since the powerful bird, supposedly an inhabitant first settlers came, and because hawks do of the North, visit regions where hitherto unquestionably raid poultry-yards and he was comparatively unknown in any kill pigeons and wild game-birds, the most such numbers, but he seemed to be disconspicuous raptores have had the bur- playing a tendency to remain, at least for den of reproach heaped upon them. Yet all the winter months. It may be he will actually the red-tailed, or “hen-hawk," yet have to be reckoned as our worst does probably as much good as harm to winged enemy. I collected that winter a the farmer and the community. In that few records of his exploits from my own monumental work, The Birds of New immediate neighborhood, which can be York, by Elon Howard Eaton, is a table duplicated, probably over most of New of stomach contents from all the varieties England and New York. The total of hawks and owls found in New York amount of his destruction was certainly State, compiled from many careful in- huge. vestigations. In only 10 per cent. of the For example, a single goshawk near the red-tailed hawks was any trace of poultry, city of Pittsfield wantonly killed sevenor game, and in only 9 per cent. any trace teen pigeons, carrying away only one of of other birds. The red-shouldered had them to eat. A goshawk in Sheffield was a still smaller percentage. In both spe- seen by a farmer to swoop upon a pheascies 50 per cent. showed mice, and 45 per ant in a field and kill it. Another farmer cent. of the red-shouldered showed in- lost several hens, and on more than one sects. Doctor Eaton classes the red- occasion was close by when the raid was tailed hawk as "near the border-line of made, but could never get his gun up beneficent birds," however, and he puts quick enough to bag the hawk. Finally the common marsh-hawk in the same this hawk killed and managed to carry rather doubtful class, because of its raids off a full-grown Plymouth Rock rooster. on birds, along with the barred and As the goshawk stands but twenty-one snowy owls. He leaves in the unques- to twenty-two inches high, and weighs tionably injurious class, as birds of prey considerably less than the fattened fowl, which should be exterminated, only | you can gather some idea of its power. these: the goshawk, Cooper's hawk, sharp- | There were numerous other records of shinned hawk, duck-hawk, pigeon-hawk domestic fowl and pigeon killing, and and great horned owl. They are the ones tales by the hunters of pheasants, grouse, which do the real damage, both goshawks and even rabbits slaughtered by this pirate and great horned owls, for example, of the air. It is fortunate for us that the showing as high as 36 and 25 per cent., bird does not yet breed so far south as respectively, of poultry and game in the this. Though a few of our woodsmen stomach contents examined, while the maintained that the following spring the

even

goshawks were showing signs of breeding birds returning to the familiar cliff. On hereabouts, there was no real evidence Sugar Loaf, a curious formation near obtainable that they ever did so.

Deerfield, Massachusetts, and also on the Several specimens were shot that win- precipitous ledges of Monument Mounter, one or two by irate farmers who tain in Stockbridge (the mountain celewatched the hen-yard, gun in hand, from brated by Bryant in a poem), there have a cover. The goshawk is certainly a sav- been duck-hawks' nests for over a generaage-looking specimen, when properly tion. The nesting-place on Monument mounted, the adult being slate-blue and can only be reached, as a rule, with an gray, with black on the head, and having Alpine rope, and since the eggs are laid the longish body of the Cooper hawk, before the ist of May, while the cliff is with more muscular power in it, fierce still wet, the egg-hunter takes his life in talons and beak, and a flashing eye. Every his hands. Last year, for the first time, line of him looks cruel-and is cruel. I did not see the birds about the mounLike the mink and weasel, he butchers tains at all, and three ascents of the cliff for the sheer love of killing, with a rope disclosed nothing except a when he isn't hungry. He and the duck- partridge's nest on a dry, mossy shelf. hawk are the Prussians of the bird king- My observation was not continuous nor dom.

thorough enough to say definitely that The duck-hawk, fortunately, is rather they were not there, but apparently this rare, or at least it is rare in settled com- historic pair of birds have met their end munities, because it builds its nest, or its at last. I cannot help hoping so, for apology for a nest, on the ledges of rock they took, I am sure, a tremendous toll of precipices (like the golden eagle), and bird life, including, I know, many consequently more or less requires a meadow-larks and Aickers. Their huntmountain country to breathe in. The ing range, too, is great. I cannot say duck-hawk (which is seventeen inches how great, but once or twice when I was long, considerably smaller than the "hen- on the mountain summit I have seen one hawk” or goshawk) belongs to the falcon of them coming from over the mountain family—it is the Falco peregrinus anatum, on the far side of the valley, winging much and practically identical with the Euro- like a pigeon, from regions at least fifteen pean peregrine falcon of the romantic miles away. If they hunt over a circle of days of falconry, those heroic days of old only thirty miles in diameter (and probwhich we of the modern high-power rifle ably it is very much more) the territory and soft-nosed expanding bullet think so a pair can cover is considerable. The cruel and bloody. The falcons differ Cooper and sharp-shinned hawks (smallfrom the hawks somewhat in their bills ish hawks, of fifteen to eighteen and ten and talons, which are even better adapted to twelve inches, respectively) can be told for tearing and seizing prey, and in the apart because the Cooper has a rounded relatively greater length and pointed tail, the sharp-shinned a square tail. Both character of their wings. The peregrine may be told from the small falcons-i. e., falcon, or duck-hawk, is undoubtedly a the so-called sparrow and pigeon hawks, splendid bird if you judge him solely by because the falcons have long, pointed strength and speed and cunning in flight. wings, the hawks short, rounded ones. He most often seizes his prey on the wing, Both Cooper and sharp-shinned hawks and now that water-fowl are scarce he breed in the latitude of New England takes about any birds he encounters, and New York, and even as far south as dropping upon them with a suddenness Florida. Both build nests in forest trees, that leaves them no chance for escape. the sharp-shinned selecting almost always

The duck-hawks often nest year after evergreens, the Cooper taking an old year in the same place, apparently either crow's nest when convenient. They are the same birds or young of the parent true hawks in habit, coursing low through

« AnteriorContinuar »