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have a smaller proportion than any other alien element except the British, while of the insane, judging from Minnesota, they seem to have a larger percentage than the Germans or British. Unfortunately, in ordinary statistics of this nature, the second generation is usually put down as native-born, with no hint as to parentage beyond some peculiarity of
Several forces are at work against any distinct permanent influence of the Scandinavian elements of our population. Some of these I have already touched upon, as rapid and thorough Americanization and stanch Protestantism. The Danes, Norwegians, and Swedes are particularly free from other than traditional ties binding them to the mother countries. None of the three northern kingdoms is great or powerful in the affairs of Europe. Patriotism is a sentiment of the parish or the homestead more than of the nation. No dramatic outbursts of national sentiment on the other side rekindle the old enthusiasms here. No great causes centring in the Old World continually demand the intense sympathy and financial aid of any class of the Scandinavians, knitting them closely together. Their church organization is decentralized, centrifugal, not
centripetal, recognizing no unity under a supreme temporal head. It cannot, therefore, be used as a potent political force. Their nearest approach to a widespread, peculiar society that can be utilized by a skillful "boss" is a national musical union.
As Swedes, Norwegians, and Danes they fast disappear; merging, not into Scandinavians, but into Americans. They earn their rights as such, and are proud of the possession. They readily fit into places among our better classes, and, without hammering or chiseling, give strength and stability to our social structure, if not beauty and the highest culture. Because of their habits of thought, their respect for education, and their conservatism, the difficulties of adjusting ourselves to their presence are at a minimum. The Scandinavians will not furnish the great leaders, but they will be in the front ranks of those who follow, striving to make the United States strong and prosperous, "a blessing to the common man." As Americans, they will be builders, not destroyers; safe, not brilliant. Best of all, their greatest service will be as a mighty steadying influence, reinforcing those high qualities which we sometimes call Puritan, sometimes American.
Kendric Charles Babcock.
WHIMSICAL WAYS IN BIRD LAND.
“O irritant, iterant, maddening bird!" ONE lovely evening in May, I was walking down a quiet road, looking, as usual, for birds, when all at once there burst upon the sweet silence a loud alarm. "Chack! chack! chack! too! too! t-t-t! quawk! quawk!" at the top of somebody's loud, resonant voice, as if the whole bird world had suddenly gone mad. I looked about, expecting to see a general rush to the spot; but, to my
surprise, no one seemed to notice it. A catbird on the fence went on with his bewitching song, and a wood-thrush in the shrubbery dropped not a note of his heavenly melody.
"They have heard it before; it must be a chat," I said; and lo! on the top twig of a tall tree, brilliant in the setting sun, stood the singer. Never before had I seen one of the family show himself freely; and while I gazed he proceeded
to exhibit another phase of chat manners, new to me, wing antics, of which I had read. He flew out toward another treetop, going very slowly, with his legs hanging awkwardly straight down. At every beat of the wings he threw them up over his back till they seemed to meet, jerked his expressive tail downward, and uttered a harsh "chack," almost pausing as he did so. "Not only a chat, but a character," was my verdict, as I turned back from my stroll.
For several years I had been trying to know the most eccentric bird in North America, the yellow-breasted chat. Two or three times I had been able to study him a little, but never with satisfaction, and I was charmed to discover one of his kind so near the pleasant old family mansion in which I had established myself for the summer. This house, which had been grand in its day, but, like the whole place, was now tottering with age, was an ideal spot for a bird lover, being delightfully neglected and gone to seed. Berry patches run wild offered fascinating sites for nests; moss-covered apple-trees supplied dead branches for perching; great elms and chestnuts, pines and poplars, scattered over the grounds, untrimmed and untrained, presented something to suit all tastes; and above all, there existed no nice care-taker to disturb the paradise into which Mother Nature had turned it for her darlings.
It was a month later than this before I discovered where the chat and his mate, the image of himself, had taken up their abode for the season,1 and then I was drawn by his calls to another old tangle of blackberry bramble at the upper edge of the orchard. "Quoik!" he began, very low, and then quickly added, "Whe-up! ch'k! ch'k! toot! toot! too! t-t-t-t-t!" concluding with a
1 The actual watching of this bird was done by a trustworthy observer of my own training, but by close study of her daily notes and records I have so nearly made the experience
very good imitation of a watchman's rattle. I hastened toward the spot, and was again treated to that most absurd wing performance, followed by an exhibition of himself in plain sight, and then a circling around my head, till, tired of pranks or satisfied with his survey, he dropped out of sight in the bushes.
Here, I said to myself, is a chat of an unfamiliar sort; just as eccentric as any of his race, and not at all averse to being seen; wary, but not shy; and at once I was eager to know him, for the great and undying charm of bird study lies in the individuality of these lovely fellow-creatures, and the study of each one is the study of a unique personality, with characteristics, habits, and a song belonging exclusively to itself. Not even in externals are birds counterparts of one another. Close acquaintance with one differentiates him decidedly from all his fellows; should his plumage resemble that of his brethren, -which it rarely does, his manners, expressions, attitudes, and specific "ways" are peculiarly his own.
The blackberry patch pointed out by the chat occupied the whole length of a steep little slope between a meadow and the orchard, and at the lower edge rested against a fence in the last stages of decrepitude. During many years of neglect it had almost returned to a state of wildness. Long, briery runners had bound the whole into an impenetrable mass, forbidding alike to man and beast, and neighboring trees had sprinkled it with a promising crop of seedlings; or, as Lowell pictures it,
"The tangled blackberry, crossed and recrossed,
A prickly network of ensanguined leaves." As if planned for the use of birds, at one end stood a delectable watch-tower in the shape of a great elm, and at the
my own that, after this explanation, I take the liberty of telling the story in the first per
other a cluster of smaller trees, apple, ash, and maple. These advantages had not escaped the keen eyes of our clever little brothers, and it was a centre of busy life during the nesting season.
The first time I attempted to find the chat's nest, the bird himself accompanied me up and down the borders of this well-fortified blackberry thicket, mocking at me, and uttering his characteristic call, a sort of mew, different from that of the catbird or the cat; at the same time carefully keeping his precious body entirely screened by the foliage. Well he knew that no clumsy, garmented human creature, however inquisitive, could penetrate his thorny jungle, and doubt less the remarks so glibly poured out were sarcastic or exultant over my failure; for though I walked the whole length, and at every step peered into the bushes, no nest could I discover.
Somewhat later I made the acquaintance of the domestic partner of the chat family. She was less talkative than her spouse, as are most feathered dames, a nice arrangement in the bird world, for what would become of the nest and nestlings, if the home-keepers had as much to say as their mates? She sat calmly on the fence, as I passed, or dressed her plumage on the branch of a tree, uttering no sound except, rarely, the common mewing call. She was a wise little thing,
When I caught her carrying a locust, and at once concluded she had young to feed, as quickly as if she had read my thoughts she let her prey drop, looking at me as who should not carrying food." mired her quick wit
say, "You see I am But though I adBut though I adand respected her motive, I did not believe the little mother, and despite the attractiveness of the head of the household I kept close watch upon her, hoping to track her home. I soon observed that she always rose from the tangle at one spot near the elm; but vainly did I creep through what once might have been a path between the blackberries, though I did have the satis
faction of seeing the singer uneasy, and of feeling sure that, as the children say, I was 66 very warm."
Day after day, in fair weather or foul, in cold or heat, I took my way down the lane, and seated myself as comfortably as circumstances would admit, to spy upon the brown-and-gold family; and day after day I was watched in turn, — sometimes by the singer, restlessly flying from tree to tree, peering down to study me from all sides, and amusing me with all his varied eccentricities of movement and song, if one may thus name his vocal performances. Occasionally madam condescended to entertain, or, what is more probable, tried to perplex me by her tactics. She scorned the transparent device of drawing me away from the dangerous vicinity by pretending to be hurt or by grotesque exhibitions. Her plan was far more cunning than these: it was to point out to the eager seeker after forbidden knowledge convenient places where the nest might be, but certainly was not, and so to bewilder the spy, by many hints, that she would not realize it when the real passage to the waiting nestlings was made. The wise little matron would alight on the fence and look anxiously down, seemingly about to drop into the nest; then, as if she really could not make up her mind to do so while I looked on, fly to a blackberry spray and do it all over again. In a moment she would repeat the performance from an elm sapling, and again turn anxious and lingering glances in still another direction. Then, as if now she surely must go home, she would slip in among the bushes, apparently trying to keep out of sight. At last, having thoroughly mystified me, and confused my ideas past clearing up, with a dozen or more hints, she would fly over the small elm and disappear, in a different direction from any one of the places she had with such pretended reluctance pointed Nor was the nest to be found by following any of her hints.
One day, when the beguiling little dame had exasperated me beyond endurance, I suddenly resolved to track her to the nest, if it took the whole day. So when she flung herself, in her usual way, over the small elm, I instantly followed, in my humbler fashion. Under the fence I crept, through the patched-up opening the cows had broken through, and up the path they had attempted to make. Now I fully appreciated the wisdom of the bird in the choice of a nesting-site. The very blackberry bushes appeared to league themselves together for her protection, stretching long, detaining arms, and clutching my garments in all sorts of unexpected and impossible ways; and while I carefully disengaged one, half a dozen others snatched at me in new quarters, till, in despair, I jerked away, leaving a portion of my gown in their Thus fighting my way, inch by inch, I progressed slowly, until the chat's becoming silent encouraged me to fling prudence to the winds, and pull aside every bush at the risk of tearing the flesh off my hands on the briers.
At last a nest! My heart beat high. I struggled nearer, cautiously, not to alarm the owner; for though I must see the nest, I had no desire to disturb it. I parted the vines and looked in. Empty, and plainly a year old!
Forgetting the brambles, in my disappointment, I turned hastily away, when the bush, as if in revenge for my discovery of its secret, seized my garments in a dozen places; and, suffering in gown and temper, I tore myself away from the birds' too zealous guardians and wandered up the lane.
The lane was an enticing spot, with young blackberry runners stretching out tender green bloom toward whom they might reach, and clematis rioting over and binding together in flowery chains all the shrubs and weeds and young trees. What happiness to dwell in the grounds. of the "shiftless" farmer! Since tidiness, with most cultivators, means the VOL. LXXVII. - NO. 463.
destruction of all natural beauty, and especially the cutting down of everything that interferes with the prosperity of cabbages and potatoes, blessed is untidiness to the lover of Nature. So long as I study birds I shall carefully seek out the farmer who has lost his energy, and allows Nature her own inimitable way in his fields and lanes. The fascinations of that neglected corner cannot be put into words. The whole railroad embankment which bordered it on one side, stretching far above my head, was a mad and joyous tangle of wild-grape vines. In the shade of a cluster of slender trees was a spot enriched by springs, where flourished the greenest of ferns, sprinkled with Jack-in-the-pulpits and forget-menots. This was the delight of my heart, and my consolation for the trials connected with chat affairs.
Alas that the usual fate of Nature's divine work should overtake it; that into "head should come the "shiftless thought that railroad ties and fallen trees make good firewood, and without too much trouble can be dragged out by horses! As a preliminary calamity, halfstarved cows were turned in to nibble the grass, and, incidentally, to trample and crush flowers and ferns into one ghastly ruin. And at the same moment, as if inspired by the same spirit of destruction, some idle railroad hand, with a scythe, laid low the whole bank of grapevines. Ruthless was the ruin, and wrecked beyond repair the spot, after man's desolating hand passed over it; a scene of violence, of dead and dying scattered over the trampled and torn-up sod; "murder most foul" in the eyes of a Nature-lover. I could not bear to look upon it. Ishunned it, lest I should hate my fellow-man, who can, unnecessarily and in pure wantonness, destroy in one hour what he cannot replace in a lifetime.
Nor was that the full measure of sufferings inflicted on the lane and me. That beautiful green passageway happened to
be a short cut from the meadow, and horse-rake and hay-wagon made the ravage complete. The one crushed and dragged out every sweet-growing thing spared by the previous devastators, and the other defiled with wisps of dead grass every branch that reached over its grateful shade. It was pitiful, as much for the exhibition thus made of a man's insensible and sordid existence, as for the laceration of my feelings and the actual ruin wrought.
A pleasanter theme is the love-making in which I chanced to catch the beautiful but bewildering pair in the blackberry bushes. Madam, hopping about an old apple-tree, was apparently not in the least interested in her lover, who followed after, in comical fashion, with ludicrous and truly chatlike antics, every feather raised, crouching, with head turned this way and that and neck stretched out, and changing his position at every hop with the most dramatic action. If modern theories are true, and bird eccentricities of dress and behavior are assumed to please and win the mate, what must we think of the taste of our demure little sisters in feathers?
Did I ever assert that the chat is shy? Then am I properly punished for not appreciating his individuality, by having to admit that this pair possessed not a trace of the quality. The singer seemed to be always on exhibition; and as for his spouse, though she performed no evolutions, she came boldly into sight, postured in the most approved Delsartian style, uttered a harsh purr or jerked out a "mew," with a sidewise fling of her head which showed the inside of her mouth to be black, all for my benefit, and without the slightest embarrassment. She made it obvious to the dullest understanding that while she did not like spies, nor approve of human curiosity in neighborhood matters, she was not in the least afraid.
As the days passed on, a change crept over the chat family; they became more
retiring. In my daily walk they were not so easily found; indeed, sometimes they were not to be seen at all. When I did discover them, they seemed very much engaged in private affairs, with no time for displays of any sort. No more droll performances on the treetop, no more misleading antics in the blackberries; the days of frolic were over, the sober duties of life claimed all their energies, and they went about silently and stealthily. Of course I was sure something had happened to induce this change, no doubt nestlings, and a great and absorbing determination grew in my mind to find that nest, if I suffered in body and estate from every bush in the patch.
Let the story of my encounter be veiled in oblivion. Suffice it to say that perseverance under such difficulties deserved, and met, reward. In due time I saw the bird flit away, and my eyes fell upon the nest. No birds, but four pearls of promise within.
"Think on the speed, and the strength, and the glory,
The wings to be, and the joyous life, Shut in those exquisite secrets, she brooded." I looked, but did not touch; and I departed content. A few days later I made another call. Again I flushed the mother from the nest, and this time looked upon a brown mass of wriggling baby chats. Meanwhile, since life had become so serious, the chat sobered down into the dignified head of a family, and joined his mate in hard work from morning till night.
But summer days were passing. Dandelion ghosts lined the paths, wild roses dropped their rosy pink and appeared in sombre green, and meadow lilies peeped out from every fence corner. A few days after my grand discovery, I went one evening to the blackberry tangle, and was greeted by gleeful shouts and calls from the bird of late so silent. There he was, his old self, his recent reserve all gone. My heart fell; I sus