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the little animals were beheld marching hastily in long dense columns towards the place appointed for them, and the holy friars, relieved from their intolerable oppression, gave thanks to God for so admirable a manifestation of his power and his providence."
E. T. WITHINGTON.
This was done accordingly, an advocate the judgment. Immediately myriads of being appointed to represent the ants. The prosecuting counsel declared that his clients, in conformity with the rules of their order, lived on alms, which they collected with great difficulty, and that the ants (animals whose spirit is totally contrary to the Gospel, and who were therefore abhorred by St. Francis) did nothing but steal from them, and, worse than ordinary thieves, were even trying to ruin and destroy their home. He asked that they should be required to justify these doings, and, failing this, that pestilence and inundations should be invoked to exterminate them. The ants' advocate replied that, since God had given them life, they had a right to maintain it by the instincts bestowed upon them; that they served God by giving men an example of prudence in both temporal and spiritual matters (Proverbs xxx. 25), of charity, peace, and concord, by the way in which they worked together, and of religion and piety, since, according to Pliny, they only among animals bury their dead. Moreover, they worked much harder than did the monks for they often carried burdens larger than themselves. Man, indeed, might be the more honorable creature, but he had offended his Creator, in whose sight he was no better than an ant. Also, ants were the earlier inhabitants of the place, and might therefore justly complain of violent expulsion. Finally, he declared that the earth and the fulness thereof belonged to God and not to the plaintiffs.
At length, after rejoinders and counter-rejoinders, the judge ordered the friars to appoint a suitable place in their neighborhood for the ants, and charged the latter to retire thither at once under pain of excommunication. Thus, he declared, both parties might be satisfied without damage to either; for the brethren had come into that country in a spirit of obedience to sow the seed of the Gospel. This judgment was read aloud before all the ant-holes; whereupon, according to monastic records of January, 1713, "behold miracle which shows how the Supreme Being, of whom it is written 'He playeth with his creatures,' was satisfied with
From The Academy. JEAN INGELOW.
Jean Ingelow (the Jean came from her Scottish mother, and the g in the surname is a soft one) was born in 1820 at Boston, in Lincolnshire. She has made music out of Boston bells; more uniformly than Tennyson does Lincolnshire and the East Coast appear and reappear in her poetry. Her father was a banker, and afterwards moved to Ipswich. Banking and Evangelicalism have conspicuously run together in certain well-known families; and they did in hers. Almost Quakerlike some of her likings and aversions might be called. She had no sympathy, for instance, with the warnote which nearly every modern poet has awakened. Even Tennyson, for whom she had an intense admiration, had no message for her there; and the younger poets, who took Tommy Atkins for their hero, could never be hers. In all her many poems not one line, not one word, will be found in justification, still less in praise, of war. In "Kismet" the story of a boy's longing for freedom and the sea is given; and somebody once suggested to her that she had helped perhaps to recruit the Navy. This suggestion meant only horror for her, and she gave the verses a careful re-reading, intending, if she thought that interpretation a possible one, to cancel the offending stanza, or, if necessary, the whole poem. She not only hated evil, she loved to do good. Her charities to the poor were unceasing.
Miss Ingelow's first volume, "A Rhyming Chronicle of Incidents and Feelings," appeared anonymously in 1850. Then in 1863 came the "Poems by
Jean Ingelow," which never paused till fourteen editions had been sold, and which are selling, but less resolutely, to this day. Her fame was made in a month. She was set to music, she was recited, she was parodied by Calverley, and brought out in an illustrated édition de luxe. From Boston, not indeed in Lincolnshire, but in New England, she had hundreds of letters and two newspaper notices to tell her that in America, even more quickly than in England, she had made her mark on contemporary sentiment. James Russell Lowell and Oliver Wendell Holmes were her admirers. Even Tennyson was generous in his encomiums. Mr. Ruskin, whose praise has always been precious to women, was at her feet. So that the critic and the casual reader for once agreed together in their appreciation. Or this quick and keen popularity there has been some failure, no doubt, in later days. Her "Story of Doom, and Other Poems," had a welcome only second to its predecessor; but the third series of "Poems" had to make its way among a crowd of new competitors. Time, however, will always right the slight injustice of reaction; and even at this hour there is a sort of remorse of reconsideration among those who have left Miss Ingelow's poems neglected on their shelves these last ten or twenty years. Their old beauty comes as a new surprise. Never hungry for fame, she did not mourn over any signs of its decline.
Very conventional were her surroundings when, after her mother's death, she moved from Holland Street to Holland Villas Road, Kensington. The little house had a little garden; and, perhaps, the greatest excitement in her later life was a garden-party of her own giving. One of the last appearances of Mr. Locker-Lampson was in that very garden one summer afternoon; and in that guest and hostess have passed away types that are rapidly becoming extinct, delightful in old-world courtesy, indulgent to the errors of days gone by, if a little impatient to the moods of a generation younger than their
In accounting for the great popularity obtained by Miss Ingelow, one has only to remember how often and how well she sang of the sea: not the sea on which our warships and our mercantile navies ride gloriously, but the sea we have known best in childhood, on which the herring fleet puts forth in the evening. We think, indeed, that Miss Ingelow will be longest remembered as the fisherman's poet. No poet has been more haunted by the roar of winter seas beneath the cliffs on which the lights of the fishing village flit and flicker. No poet has so persistently sung the dirges of those whom the sea has claimed. Take the verses from the "Requiescat in Pace:"
It was three months and over since the lad had started:
On the green downs at Cromer I sat to see the view;
She did a vast amount of prosewritings in the seventies-"Off the Skelligs," "Fated to be Free," "Don John," On an open space of herbage, where the ling and fern had parted, and "Sarah de Berenger." Other books Betwixt the tall white lighthouse of hers were: "Stories Told to a Child," towers, the old and the new. "Studies for Stories," and "Mopsa the Fairy." She wrote with great facility; and she did not alter or polish much in either prose or verse. Though influenced in style by Coleridge, by Tennyson, by Wordsworth, she had her own definite note, distinguishable by its simple freshness. She thought she was meant to be "more original than the creature afterwards become;" but that saying she applied, we imagine, to her life more than to her literature. Among her intimate friends was Mr. Mundella, who survived her only one day.
Below me lay the wide sea, the scarlet sun was stooping,
And he dyed the waste water, as with a scarlet dye;
And he dyed the lighthouse towers; every bird with white wing swooping Took his colors, and the cliffs did, and the yawning sky.
Oyer grass came that strange flush, and
over the Cromer town;
And each filmy cloudlet crossing drifted like a scarlet feather
Torn from the folded wings of clouds, while he settled down.
It is significant that one of the very sweetest lyrical passages in Miss Ingelow's poetry has a terrible context. For the milking-song that my "sonne's wife, Elizabeth," sings in "The High Tide on the Coast of Lincolnshire" is the last her lips make before the tide, deaf to the mad ringing of Boston church bells, sweeps over the pasture. This is how Elizabeth sung:
"Cusha! Cusha! Cusha!" calling Ere the early dews were falling, Farre away I heard her song. "Cusha! Cusha!" all along Where the reedy Lindis floweth,
From the meads where melick groweth, Faintly came her milking song
"Cusha! Cusha! Cusha!" calling "For the dews will soon be falling; Leave your meadow grasses mellow, Mellow, mellow;
Quit your cowslips, cowslips yellow; Come uppe Whitefoot, come uppe Lightfoot,
Quit the stalks of parsley hollow.
Come up Jetty, rise and follow,
Come uppe Jetty, rise and follow, Jetty, to the milking shed."
Such verse is not great, but it is pleasant. Much of Miss Ingelow's poetry speaks from the heart; particularly is this true of the verse which we will quote in conclusion:
O my lost love, and my own, own love,
Is there never a chink in the world above Where they listen for words from below?
Nay, I spoke once, and I grieved thee sore,
Till the sea gives up her dead.
From Knowledge. THE SWIFT'S NIGHT-FLIGHT. During June and July, dwellers in places where the swift abounds may investigate its recently discovered habit of soaring upward at evening and (apparently) spending the night in the sky. This interesting incident may be observed in June more easily than in July, because the evening sky is clearer in the former month than in the latter. It was just ten years ago that observers in England first noticed this extraordinary behavior the part of a diurnal British bird; and during that cloudless Jubilee June three persons were watching, night after night, the soaring swifts.
One of these observers was Mr. Aubrey Edwards, son of the vicar of Orleton, R. S. O., Herefordshire, who often saw the swifts from Orleton Church depart upward at night; and he, with his father and brother, remained in the churchyard until 10.30, or even 11 o'clock, watching for the birds, which did return. There were about forty of these ascending swifts, which Mr. Edwards justifiably conceived to be males; and other swifts remained in the nests.
In the same month Mr. Douglas Brodie, of Croydon, was making similar observations on the colony of swifts which lived under the eaves of the houses in the centre of that town-as appears from his reply to a query of the writer at a later date. "A certain number of the colony, after the rest have gone to roost, go soaring up in circles with a peculiar quivering of the wings, till they go clean out of sight. With field-glasses I have seen them nearly a minute longer."
On the 10th of June, 1887, the writer was watching a large flock of swifts from a garden halfway up Stroud Hill, in Gloucestershire. The air was very clear, and the swifts whirled across and across the sky. The sun had set, but the birds did not descend. They finally went right up out of sight. On the 21st the swifts at Stroud exhibited
the same wonderful behavior, which downward, and finally plunges headwas recorded.
Since then I have every year watched for the upward night-flight of the swifts; but as the flights occurred at a rather inconvenient time for observation, there were often several successive evenings on which nothing of the kind was seen. Often, also, the birds would fly away towards the horizon, though when they did this late in the evening their course was generally an upward one. They were, however, no less inclined to a lofty flight on a cloudy night than on a clear one; and I often saw them vanish into the clouds. But this never happened when the air was very thundery.
It is convenient to watch the swifts from a somewhat elevated spot, SO that they may be kept within view as continuously as possible, since, if they pass out of the field of vision at a distance, it is almost impossible to find them again. It is also desirable to have a support to lean upon, for without this the constant gazing towards the zenith becomes very tiring, especially if field-glasses are used. It is not often that the birds can be seen during the whole of the upward flight; they generally swing around in wide circles for some time, and pass out of sight towards the horizon, after which the repeated cry, swee ree, first indicates their return. The whole incident, as it generally occurred, may be described as follows:
The sun has set, and most of the small birds have retired for the night, though the sparrows are still noisy in the creepers on the house. Most of the swifts are flying low over the meadows, but some are in the sky; and of these a few are chasing others, and performing those magnificent swoops by which it appears that the males drive the females to their nests. Certain it is that the pursuing birds (always acting singly) chase particular individuals, whose course they follow at a greater altitude, but always with the intention of finally descending in a falcon-like stoop at the lower bird, who, anticipating the attack, swerves
long. The swishing sound produced by the descending swifts can be heard at a considerable distance. The pursuer mounts again, almos vertically, and renews the assault. This goes on for some time, and when it ceases many of the swifts have already retired to the nests. The others begin to pursue each other in noisy groups, at about the level of the housetops, and this game is kept up for a quarter of an hour or longer, the birds traversing a wide area, and being sometimes out of sight for several minutes. Then they continue the same sport at a higher level, no longer descending so low as the roofs.
At about forty minutes after sunset (whether in June or July) the group of swifts begins to whirl round and round like a mob of rooks; but again and again the cluster breaks up in a pursuit and a mad noisy rush across the sky. Yet the birds are gradually attaining a higher position, and their screaming becomes the less noticeable. Their wings have often a tremulous motion, reminding one of the flight of an ascending skylark. Still, there is no deliberate upward flight-only a succession of swoops and rushes terminating at increasing distances from the ground. The birds keep fairly together, and not one descends to the houses; but it may be that the cluster is joined by another group, coming you know not whence. Dusk is beginning to fall, and even the sparrows are silent; but the cries of the swifts can yet be faintly heard. The birds may now be easily lost sight of altogether, especially if there be no white fleecy clouds high overhead to throw into relief the whirling black dots in the sky. Now is the time to use a field-glass or a small telescope, and, having once found the birds with it, to keep them within the field as long as possible. The peculiar skylark-like motion of the wings is now almost continuously maintained, and the birds, instead of whirling round in a cluster, seem to prefer to lie head to wind. Against the loftiest white clouds their move
ments may yet be clearly traced: up and up they go, appearing smaller each moment, till even the power of the glass is overcome, and the tiny specks vanish for the night.
As you drop your arms wearily you find that the dusk has fallen, the bats are out, and the evening mists are rising; but the swifts must now be nearly on a level with those remote
Gambling for Bibles.-On Tuesday, in accordance with the annual custom, there occurred at the ancient town of St. Ives, in the County of Huntingdon, a ceremony which, if not absolutely unique, is as curious a relic of ancient times as may be found in a march of many days. On first thought it seems that the sight of six little boys and six little girls dicing in a parish church to win a prize of a Bible must be unique, both in the past and in the present. It is certainly unique enough at present, but for the satisfaction of historical accuracy it must be said that, connected with the Church of St. Lawrence, at Reading, there existed at one time a dicing ceremony for the encouragement of good maidservants. But the rattle of the dice has SO long ceased at Reading that St. Ives can claim to stand alone in the present. The queer old custom started in this way: As far back as the year 1675 a bequest of fifty pounds, invested in land, was made by an eccentric Dr. Robert Wild, of Oundle, Northamptonshire, for the purpose of distributing six Bibles yearly among twelve children. It was stipulated that six boys and six girls should cast dice for the Bibles during divine service every Whitsun Tuesday morning. When the custom was first carried out in 1693 the dice were rattled on the altar. This was done for many years; but about half a century ago the incongruity of the thing was too much for the reigning vicar, and during his time and ever since the throwing has been done on
flecks of cloud, which, at an immense height, are yet snowy in the sunshine.
This charming incident of bird life can not be observed from all towns and villages with equal certainty. At Stroud I used to see it often, but in my present neighborhood swifts are not very plentiful, and only one or two have been seen to go up at nightfall, CHARLES A. WITCHELL.
an ordinary table placed in the centre aisle.
Briefly, this is how the ceremony is performed nowadays: At about nine o'clock in the morning the vicar or his curate appears with the church wardens in the centre aisle. Some ordinary little table is procured from a neighboring cottage; then in file six nice little boys and six nice little girls, who take up positions near the table. The signal is given, and three boys begin competing with three boys and then half the girls compete with the other half in like manner. Each competitor throws the dice three times, and the church wardens keep the counts. The unsuccessful six then go on trying until they win, and although one might become a very old "boy" or "girl" before that happened, fortune is never known to have frowned on any of the dicers for longer than five years. The successful six, who are presented, according to the price stipulated, with seven-shilling Bibles, strongly bound in leather, are expected to attend divine service in the evening, when the vicar, of course, improves the occasion. Near the church is situated a patch of land still known as "Bible Orchard." The Church of All Saints, in which the ceremony takes place, is an interesting structure and contains a great quantity of Norman work, the original building having been erected by the abbots of Ramsey, who also constructed the ancient bridge which still crosses the sluggish bosom of the Ouse.-St. James's Budget.