Page:Ornithological biography, or an account of the habits of the birds of the United States of America, volume 1.djvu/14

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INTRODUCTORY ADDRESS.

now let us return, for who cares to listen to the love-tale of a naturalist, whose feelings may be supposed to he as light as the feathers which he delineates!

For a period of nearly twenty years, my life was a succession of vicissitudes. I tried various branches of commerce, but they all proved unprofitable, doubtless because my whole mind was ever filled with my passion for rambling and admiring those objects of nature from which alone I received the purest gratification. I had to struggle against the will of all who at that period called themselves my friends. I must here, however, except my wife and children. The remarks of my other friends irritated me beyond endurance, and, breaking through all bonds, I gave myself entirely up to my pursuits. Any one unacquainted with the extraordinary desire which I then felt of seeing and judging for myself, would doubtless have pronounced me callous to every sense of duty, and regardless of every interest. I undertook long and tedious journeys, ransacked the woods, the lakes, the prairies, and the shores of the Atlantic. Years were spent away from my family. Yet, reader, will you believe it, I had no other object in view, than simply to enjoy the sight of nature. Never for a moment did I conceive the hope of becoming in any degree useful to my kind, until I accidentally formed acquaintance with the Prince of Musignano at Philadelphia, to which place I went, with the view of proceeding eastward along the coast.

I reached Philadelphia on the 5th April 1824, just as the sun was sinking beneath the horizon. Excepting the good Dr Mease, who had visited me in my younger days, I had scarcely a friend in the city; for I was then unacquainted with Harlan, Wetherell, Macmurtrie, Lesueur, or Sully.