Puslapio vaizdai

As the Sloth is an inhabitant of forests within the tropics, where the trees touch each other in the greatest profusion, there seems to be no reason why he should confine himself to one tree alone for food, and entirely strip it of its leaves. During the many years I have ranged the forests, I have never seen a tree in such a state of nudity; indeed, I would hazard a conjecture that, by the time the animal had finished the last of the old leaves, there would be a new crop on the part of the tree he had stripped first, ready for him to begin again, so quick is the process of vegetation in these countries.

There is a saying amongst the Indians, that when the wind blows the Sloth begins to travel. In calm weather he remains tranquil, probably not liking to cling to the brittle extremity of the branches, lest they should break with him in passing from one tree to another; but as soon as the wind rises, the branches of the neighbouring trees become interwoven, and then the Sloth seizes hold of them, and pursues his journey in safety. There is seldom an entire day of calm in these forests. The trade-wind_generally sets in about ten o'clock in the morning, and thus the Sloth may set off after breakfast, and get a considerable way before dinner. He travels at a good round pace; and were you to see him pass from tree to tree, as I have done, you would never think of calling him a Sloth.

Thus it would appear that the different histories we have of this quadruped are erroneous on two accounts: first, that the writers of them, deterred by difficulties and local annoyances, have not paid sufficient attention to him in his native haunts; and, secondly, they have described him in a situation in which he was never intended by nature to cut a figure,-I mean on the ground. The Sloth is as much at a loss to proceed on his journey upon a smooth and level floor, as a man would be who had to walk a mile in stilts upon a line of feather-beds.

One day, as we were crossing the Essequibo, I saw a large twotoed Sloth on the ground upon the bank; how he had got there, nobody could tell: the Indian said he had never surprised a Sloth in such a situation before: he would hardly have come there to drink, for both above and below the place the branches of the trees touched the water, and afforded him an easy and safe access to it. Be this as it may, though the trees were not above twenty yards from him, he could not make his way through the sand time enough to escape before we landed. As soon as we got up to him he threw himself upon his back, and defended himself in gallant style with his fore-legs. "Come, poor fellow," said I to him, "if thou hast got into a hobble to-day, thou shalt not suffer for it: I'll take no advantage of thee in misfortune; the forest is large enough both for thee and me to rove in: go thy ways up above, and enjoy thyself in these endless wilds; it is more than probable thou wilt never have another interview with man. So fare thee well." On saying this, I took a long stick which was lying there, held it for him to hook on, and then conveyed him to a high and stately mora.

He ascended with wonderful rapidity, and in about a minute he was almost at the top of the tree. He now went off in a side direction, and caught hold of the branch of a neighbouring tree; he then proceeded towards the heart of the forest. I stood looking on, lost in amazement at his singular mode of progress. I followed him with my eye till the intervening branches closed in betwixt us; and then I lost sight for ever of the two-toed Sloth. I was going to add, that I never saw a Sloth take to his heels in such earnest; but the expression will not do, for the Sloth has no heels.

That which naturalists have advanced, of his being so tenacious of life, is perfectly true. I saw the heart of one beat for half an hour after it was taken out of the body. The wourali poison seems to be the only thing that will kill it quickly. On reference to a former part of my "Wanderings," it will be seen that a poisoned arrow killed the Sloth in about ten minutes.

So much for this harmless unoffending animal. He holds a conspicuous place in the catalogue of the animals of the New World. Though naturalists have made no mention of what follows, still it is not less true on that account. The Sloth is the only quadruped known, which spends its whole life from the branch of a tree suspended by its feet. I have paid uncommon attention to him in his native haunts. The monkey and squirrel will seize a branch with their fore-feet, and pull themselves up, and rest or run upon it; but the Sloth, after seizing it, still remains suspended, and suspended moves along under the branch, till he can lay hold of another. Whenever I have seen him in his native woods, whether at rest, or asleep, or on his travels, I have always observed that he was suspended from the branch of a tree. When his form and anatomy are attentively considered, it will appear evident that the Sloth cannot be at ease in any situation where his body is higher, or above his feet. We will now take our leave of him.


The Skylark.


THIS great poet, but unhappy and ill-fated man, was born in Sussex, August 4th, His whole life was one of resistance to established opinions, and indulgence in wild speculations, tinctured, however, with a natural generosity, that made his eccentricities of opinion the more to be lamented. He was drowned, July 8th, 1822, while returning from Leghorn to welcome his brother poet, Leigh Hunt.

Hail to thee, blithe spirit!

Bird thou never wert,

That from heaven or near it,

Pourest thy full heart

In profuse strains of unpremeditated art.

Higher still and higher,

From the earth thou springest
Like a cloud of fire;

The blue deep thou wingest,

And singing still dost soar, and soaring ever singest.

In the golden lightning

Of the sunken sun,

O'er which clouds are bright'ning,

Thou dost float and run;

Like an unbodied joy whose race is just begun.

The pale purple even

Melts around thy flight;

Like a star of heaven

In the broad daylight,

ou art unseen, but, yet, I hear thy shrill delight.


Keen as are the arrows

Of that silver sphere,
Whose intense lamp narrows

In the white dawn clear,

Until we hardly see, we feel that it is there.

All the earth and air
With thy voice is loud

As, when night is bare,
From one lonely cloud

The moon rains out her beams, and heaven is overflowed.

What thou art, we know not;

What is most like thee?

From rainbow clouds there flow not

Drops so bright to see,

As from thy presence showers a rain of melody.

Like a poet hidden
In the light of thought,
Singing hymns unbidden,
Till the world is wrought

To sympathy with hopes and fears it heeded not.

Like a high-born maiden
In a palace tower,
Soothing her love-laden

Soul in secret hour

With music sweet as love, which overflows her bower.

Like a glow-worm golden
In a dell of dew,

Scattering unbeholden

Its aërial hue

Among the flowers and grass, which screen it from the view.

Like a rose embowered

In its own green leaves,

By warm winds deflowered,
Till the scent it gives

Makes faint with too much sweet these heavy-winged thieves.

Sound of vernal showers

On the twinkling grass,
Rain-awakened flowers,

All that ever was

Joyous, and clear, and fresh, thy music doth surpass.

Teach us, sprite or bird,

What sweet thoughts are thine:

I have never heard

Praise of love or wine

That panted forth a flood of rapture so divine.

Chorus hymeneal,

Or triumphal chaunt,

Matched with thine would be all

But an empty vaunt

A thing wherein we feel there is some hidden want.

What objects are the fountains

Of thy happy strain ?

What fields, or waves, or mountains?

What shapes of sky or plain?

What love of thine own kind? what ignorance of pain?

With thy clear keen joyance

Languor cannot be:

Shadow of annoyance

Never came near thee:

Thou lovest; but ne'er knew love's sad satiety.


Waking or asleep,

Thou of death must deem
Things more true and deep

Than we mortals dream.

Or how could thy notes flow in such a crystal stream?

We look before and after,

And pine for what is not:

Our sincerest laughter

With some pain is fraught:

Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought.

Yet if we could scorn,

Hate, and pride, and fear;

If we were things born

Not to shed a tear,

I know not how thy joys we ever should come near.

Better than all measures
Of delightful sound,
Better than all treasures

That in books are found,

Thy skill to poet were, thou scorner of the ground!

Teach me half the gladness

That my brain must know,
Such harmonious madness
From my lips would flow,

The world should listen then, as I am listening now.

Alexander Selkirk.*


THIS distinguished poet was born in Hertfordshire, 1731, of a good family; and, after a melancholy life of nervousness and physical debility, he died 1800. His latter days were soothed by the amusement of keeping some tame hares.

I am monarch of all I survey,

My right there is none to dispute;
From the centre all round to the sea,
I am lord of the fowl and the brute.

O Solitude! where are the charms
That sages have seen in thy face?
Better dwell in the midst of alarms,
Than reign in this horrible place.

*It is well known that the adventures of this hero form the groundwork of Defoe's ever-popular "Robinson Crusoe."

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