Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

BALLOU'S MONTHLY MAGAZINE.

VOL. XXXIX.-No. 3.

MARCH, 1874.

WHOLE No. 231.

HEADS OF THE PEOPLE.

[ocr errors]

There is no more amusing study, for one content, and rarely open except to give at who takes an interest in it, than that of the terance to fretful complainings, or harsh, "human face divine," especially as it is cruel or vindictive words ? Truly, it is betrevealed in all its varieties of form, fea- ter, as the well-worn and oft-repeated ture and expression within the borders of couplet says, to “grow wiser and better as a crowd. There one may find representa- life wears away.tives of almost every class in society, from But to return to our subject, though, as the fresh unconscious rosiness of child- our talk is upon heads and faces, perhaps hood to the seamed and wrinkled face we are not so far from it, after all. Here upon which the years in passing have traced 'we are, if you please, in a crowd composed the "tablet of unutterable thoughts." And of some of the units of that mighty power what a difference may be seen in the coun- called collectively " the people." Being of tenances of the aged! Upon the heads of a philosophic turn of mind, and given to

[graphic][merged small][ocr errors]

some the crown of years rests with a silvery studying the peculiarities and characterisbrightness, lending a certain grice even to tics of humankind, we begin to look about the bowed figure and time-niarked features, us with the eye of a connoisseur, sure to while the eyes, once so bright, now some- find something upon which to fasten our what dimmer than of old, beam out upon attention. the world with a kindly light from which The first face, as good fortune will have the exaction of youth has entirely faded. it, which meets our eyes, is that of a goldCold indeed must be the heart that does en-haired, blue-eyed child whose sweetly not yield reverence to such beautiful old expressive countenance needs but little age. But alas! there is another and less study to enable us to determine its characpleasing side to the picture; and what sight ter. Pretty rogue! the task of the physiogcan be more repulsive to the finer feelings nomist would be slight were all faces as than a wrinkled, withered face, out of open and innocent as yours, where thergaywhich the eyes peer maliciously, in which ety of childhood is ming with the sweetthe lips wear a continual expression of dis- ness of innocence. Just beside you is “papa," an'average business man, we if he should wear his hat in its proper place should say at first glance, with nothing on the top of his head, and he is not wellvery remarkable about him, though we bred enough to mind if he does smoke into happen to know that he seems exceedingly ladies' faces. His character and countelike a hero to the dainty wife whose face is nance belong to a certain class of young not in the crowd. And perhaps you would America distinguished more for an aping of like to know why. One day, during the the vices of older and wickeder persons time when she was "heart-whole and fan- than for anything else. Let us hope that cy-free," the present Mrs. Darley started when he is a little wiser he will cease to be out with the very prosaic intention of do- an object of pitying contempt, and will reing a little shopping. She was a very pret- deem himself in the eyes of his friends by ty object to look at as she tripped along, as a more sensible way of showing his manfresh and sweet as a rosebud, and all went liness. well until she found it necessary to cross

Here our glance falls on a well-rememto the other side of the street. She may bered face, on which the eyeglasses seem have been a little absent-minded, but be perfectly natural adjuncts to the features. that as it may, she found herself confront- Surely that is Miss Saponica Selwyn, a ed by a rapidly-advancing horse-car, and in member of one of our first families, and a stepping aside to avoid that, she inadver- single lady of uncertain age. How little tently placed herself exactly in the path of she changes from year to year! The same a runaway horse which its drunken driver prim pursod-up mouth, the same fastidious was powerless to control, and which came nose and critical glance that we have been dashing madly along with alınost lightning- wont to see for-well, a long time. Perlike speed. But though she did not know fect indeed must be the man or woman her terrible danger, it was seen by a gen- who escapes her lash of criticism, yet she tleman on the platform of the horse-car, has a fund of kindness under it all, and is and he sprang forward and drew the aston- really the friend of the needy, though she ishod girl out of the horse's path to the im- has little patience with idlers and the imminent risk of his own life or limbs. So provident. Another thing we can venture this is why Darley's wife thinks him a he- to whisper, which is that this lady is what ro; and such was the beginning of their ac is familiarly called "an old maid from quaintance; and now she is Mrs. Darley choice." She has had good offers, but and the mother of the sweet baby we first honestly preferred her independence to the looked at, who has coaxed "papa" to take chains of wedlock, since none of her suither out to-day-hence her presence in the ors fulfilled her ideas of the “perfect man." crowd. Perhaps you will notice after this If any regret ever rises to trouble her heart that Darley has a very square and promi- in regard to the life she has chosen, she nent chin, and a decided animation in his keeps it firmly under subjection, and no eye that separate him somewhat from the one knows it. list of ordinary men with the reader of Behind Miss Selwyn we see young Mrs. faces.

Frisky, who dotes on fashion, and has no That weather-beaten man next to Darley sorrow so great as that which fills her moris a fireman, and good service he has ren- sel of a heart at being denied any new and dered in his department. During the ter- becoming, and also costly trifle. She is riblo fires in which our city suffered so pretty, but weak and vain, and her face is severely he won both praise and admiration a very good index to her character, while for his energetic bravery, and saved many the tout ensemble of the woman, from her lives and much property from destruction elaborately-fashionable headgear to the in conjunction with others of hls comrades. lowest ruffle and ruching on her dress, beHis face is a noble one, though not so beau- trays the mere automaton of fashion. Poor tiful in feature and complexion as some, Frisky himself has sad cause to rue his and he is a type of those who do not know wife's extravagant wishes, which keep him how to shirk their duties.

in a finaucial agony much of the time. Just back of the fireman is a lad whom Glancing along, we see another characwe will call Tonimy Wildfoot. He is a lit- teristic head-more truthful than pleasant tle larger than his pipe, but not much. Ev- in its indications. That is old Mr. Moneyidently he would not enjoy peace of mind love, who has amassed an immense fortuns, but has the reputation of being the whose black face shows over Bella's shoulmost intensely disagreeble man in town in der, is equally a representative in her way his own family. He has been known to of another strata in the great structure of angrily denounce his accomplished and society. Like some of the useful portions lady-like daughter as a “brainless little of architecture which do very good service fool" before assembled guests, and is said in upholding the whole edifice, though not to treat his wife and children more like so ornamental as the more delicate finish, slaves whose whole duty is to minister to Aunt Mollie performs her duties well, and his comfort and gratify his whims than as so deserves praise in her own proper sphere. equals and companions. Consequently, his The man we see further down is the capold age is loveless, and he is really miser- tain of a vessel lately returned from a trip able with all his gold.

to South America-a man of force and deBut as we turn from the face of bard and cision, and much more of a character than sensual old age our eyes brighten as they the eye-glassed youth at his side. rest on the truly beautiful face of the In the background we get glimpses of the young heiress Bella Rich. Certainly, this man of fashion, the horse-car conductor, is a motley assemblage, and there are some the day-laborer, “sweet seventeen,” and people who always look distinguished in a Jack tar, fresh from the forecastle. The crowd; of these is Bella. She is royal in redoubtable Mrs. Bifins has her face parber beauty and in her presence, one of na- tially turned froin us, and is evidently sailture's and fortune's favorites—would there ing along in search of " bargains," for she were more of them! See how clear is the is the terror of clerks, and a marvel to her glance of her lovely eyes-she makes one acquaintances, who often llatter her by rethink of Lady Geraldine

questing her to make some purchase for "For ber eyes alone smile constantly; ber lips them, adding, “ You arc so much better at have serious sweetness,

a bargain than we are, you know;" while And her front is calm-the dimplo rarely ripples her son, the young man at her side with on her cheek:

the Grecian nose, looks intensely disgusted Bat ber deep blue eyes smile constantly as if at the whole affair.

they iu discreetness Kept the secret of a happy dream she did not care

After all, it is of faces more than of to speak."

heads that we have discoursed, and in or

der that our readers may see how correctly There is but one step from the sublime

we have described them, we have had the to the ridiculous, and in this case but one whole crowd photographed, and present a glance from delicate aristocratic beauty to fac-simile of it on our first page. African obesity. But good cook Mollie,

AN EXTINCT BIRD. The dodo of the island of Mauritius, in 1848, entitled “ The Dodo and its kinlike the apteryx of New Zealand, has been dred,” in which many quaint descriptions rejected by incredulous people as merely a and figures of the bird are given, showing creation of the imagination, since it is not that it was, common in the 17th century, now in existence, though accounts were and was often used as food by sailors. given of it as late as the last of the seven- The following description of the bird by teenth century. But, however unlikely it an old writer-Bontius—will be interesting may appear at the first glance, the proofs to the reader by reason of its quaintness as that the dodo did exist in large numbers well as its accuracy:

« The droute or dodwithin two centuries, and that it has since ærs, is for bigness of mean size between been exterminated, are conclusive and in- the ostrich and a turkey, from which it disputable.

partly differs in shape and partly agrees This singular bird was discovered by with them, especially with the African osVasco da Gama in 1497, and has been men- triches, if you consider the rump, quills tioned by various voyagers, from the and feathers; so that it was like a pigmy Dutchmen Jacob van Neck and Wybrand among them if you regard the shortness of van Warwijk, in 1598, to Captain Talbot, its legs. It hath a great ill-favored head, in 1697. A work was published in London covered with a kind of membrane, resem

bling a hood; great black eyes; a bending, cred wings, of a yellowish ash color; and prominent, fat neck; an extraordinary behind, the rump, instead of a tail, is long, strong, bluish-white bill, only the adorned with five small curled feathers of ends of each mandible are a different col- the same color. It hath yellow legs, thick, or, that of the upper black, that of the but very short; four toes in each foot; nether yellowish, both sharp-pointed and solid, long, as it were scaly, armed with

[graphic][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

crooked. Its gape, huge wide, as being strong black claws. It is a slow-paced and naturally very voracious. Its body is fat stupid bird, and which easily becomes a and round, covered with soft gray feathers prey to the fowlers. The flesh, especially after the mariner of an ostrich's; in each of the breast, is fat, esculent, and so copiside, instead of hard wing feathers or

ous that three or four dodos will sometimes quills, it is furnished with small soft feath- suffice to fill one hundred seamen's stom achs. If they be old, or not well boiled, nests; so that after the French took posthey are of difficult concoction, and are session of the island, in 1715, and named it salted and stored up for provision of vic- the Isle of France, the dodo was not mentual. There are found in their stomachs tioned as a living bird. Singularly enough, stones of an ash color, of divers figures this remarkable extinction of an animal by and magnitudes, yet not bred there, as the human means has left behind less traces to common people and seamen fancy, but satisfy the student of natural history in reswallowed by the bird; as though by this gard to the appearance and formation of mark also nature would manifest that these the bird than have been found of aniinals fowls are of the ostrich kind, in that they · tlie period of whose existence must be swallow any hard things though they do dated many years further back, but which not digest them.”

perished from geological causes. Its posiAnother writer, Sir F. Herbert, who vis- tion among the feathered tribes was long ited the Mauritius in 1625, does not agree

held a matter of doubt, and it was generwith Bontius in his estimation of the dodo' ally placed between the ostrich and the as food. In his amusing book of travels bustard; but after a careful examination he says, “The dodo, a bird the Dutch call of the relics it was decided that it belonged walghvogel, or dod-eersen; her body is to the pigeon family. round and fat, which occasions the slow Aside from the rude drawings of the pace, or that her corpulencie, and so great early voyagers, there are in existence at as few of them weigh less than fifty pound; least six oil paintings of the dodo by emi. meat it is with some, but better to the eye nent artists, which are doubtless faithful than stomach, such as only a strong appe- representations of the living birds from tite can vanquish. It is of a melancholy which they were copied. The first of these visage, as sensible of nature's injury in paintings, and the one used in all books of framing so massive a body to be directed natural history, is from the band of an unby complimental wings, such, indeed, as known artist, but he was probably one of are unable to hoise her from the ground, those who painted the others. There are serving only to rank her among birds. Her three pictures by Roland Savery, one at train, three small plumes, short and impro- the Hague, another in Berlin, and a third portionable, her legs suiting to her body, in Vienna dated 1628; a fifth painting is in her pounces sharp, her appetite strong and the Ashmolean museum, by John Savery, greedy. Stones and iron are digested; and a sixth in the gallery of the Duke of which description will be better conceived Northumberland, painted by Goeimare, in her representation.”

and dated 1827. The truth of these word-pictures of the The most important relics of the dodo dodo will be seen on glancing at our fine are a foot in the British museum, and a representation on page 208. It is said that head and foot in the Ashmolean museum these strange birds were at one time so at Oxford, England, that have been renplentiful that sailors were in the habit of dered familiar by numerous casts. These killing them merely for the sake of obtain- portions of the bird are all that have been ing the stones in their stomachs, which preserved of the perfect specimen deposited they found very useful for sharpening their in the Ashmolean museum, which was sufclasp-knives. In 1638 a living spscimen fered to fall into decay, no one seeming to was exhibited in London, and described by be aware of its great value. When the Sir Hamon Lestrange as a “great fowle, skin was destroyed, the head and feet were somewhat bigger than the largest turkey- laid away with other objects, according to cock, and so legged and footed, but stouter the code of regulations, aud were afterand thicker, and of a more erect shape, ward discovered to the great delight of the colored before like the breast of a young finder. They were perfect enough to prove fesan, and the back of dan or deare that such a bird had really once existed, color."

and that it had been correctly represented The Dutch began to colonize the Mauri- by artists and draughtsmen. The head tius in 1644, and the dodos were soon ex- preserves the beak and nostrils, the bare terminated by the colonists, and by the skin of the face, and the partially feathered dogs, cats and rats which came with them occiput; the eyes are dried into the head, and devoured the eggs and young in the but the horny end of the beak is gone.

« AnteriorContinua »