Page:EB1911 - Volume 25.djvu/820

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STARK, JOHN—STARLING

prepared for it have much topographical and artistic interest and show well the better qualities of his work. In his pictures the influence of Crome is plainly perceptible, and there is evidence also of his study of the Dutch landscape painters; but he had little of Crome’s largeness and power and his works charm rather by their gentle truth and quietness of manner than by their robustness of view or by their decisiveness of execution. There is one picture by him, “The Valley of the Yare,” in the National Gallery of British Art.


STARK, JOHN (1728–1822), American soldier, was born at Nutfield, now Londonderry, New Hampshire, on the 28th of August 1728. In 1752 he was taken prisoner by the Indians but was ransomed by Massachusetts. During the Seven Years' War he served under Robert Rogers, first as a lieutenant and later as a captain, taking part in the battle of Lake George in 1755, the disastrous attack upon Ticonderoga in 1758, and the Ticonderoga-Crown Point campaign in 1759. At the beginning of the War of Independence he raised a regiment and as colonel did good service in the Battle of Bunker Hill, in the Canadian expedition, and in Washington’s New Jersey campaign in the winter of 1776–77. In March 1777 he resigned his commission because other officers had been promoted over him. Later in the year, however, he was placed in, command (by New Hampshire), with the rank of brigadier-general of militia, of a force of militiamen, with whom, on the 16th of August, near Bennington (q.v.), Vermont, he defeated two detachments of Burgoyne's army under Colonel Friedrich Baum and Colonel Breyman. For this victory, which did much to bring about the capitulation of General Burgoyne, Stark received the thanks of Congress and a commission as brigadier-general in the Continental Army (Oct. 4, 1777). He took part in the opera- tions about Saratoga, and for a short time in 1778 and again in 1 781 he was commander of the northern department. In September 1783 he was breveted major-general. He died at Manchester, New Hampshire, on the 8th of May 1822. John Stark's brother, William (1724–1776), served in the Seven Years' War and afterwards on the frontier; and at the outbreak of the War of Independence, piqued because he was not put in command of a regiment, he entered the British service.

See Memoir and Official Correspondence of General John Stark (Concord, N.H., 1860) by his grandson Caleb Stark (1804–1864), who wrote in 1831 Reminiscences of the French War containing Rogers's Expeditions with the New England Rangers and an Account . . . of John Stark.

STARLEY, JAMES (1830–1881), British inventor, the son of a farmer, was baptized at Albourne, Sussex, on the 13th of June 1830. At eighteen he ran away from home and started on foot for London, but on the way obtained work as a gardener at Lewisham, Kent, where he lived for a number of years. He had always been an ingenious mechanic, inventing trifling novelties and repairing watches and clocks in the neighbourhood, and when sewing machines began to be much used they attracted his practical attention, and aroused his inventive genius. Leaving his garden he went up to London and became working mechanic for a firm of sewing-machine makers. Here he was in his element, and in several particulars improved his principal's machines, and invented a new one with an arm attachment that permitted circular as well, as straightforward work. With a fellow workman he moved in 1857 to Coventry, and started the manufacture of the “European” and other sewing machines from his patents. This was the beginning of the Coventry Machinists' Company, the pioneer of all the great bicycle and tricycle works which afterwards made that city the centre of the industry. Former acquaintances of Starley at Lewisham and elsewhere migrated to Coventry to become skilled mechanics for this company. In 1868 they began the manufacture, after a Paris model and at first for French use, of bicycles, several of the earliest suggested improvements being Starley’s. A number of firms were soon devoting themselves exclusively to the manufacture of bicycles, and for one of these Starley—whose financial successes were always for others—designed the Coventry tricycle. As it was harder to propel than the bicycle he invented the balance gear, and applied it in the Salvo, which is the type of the present tricycle (q.v.). Starley died on the 17th of June 1881, and a public monument has been erected to his memory in Coventry. His nephew, J. K. Starley, patented the tangent wheel in 1874.


STARLING (O. Eng. staer stearn, and sterlyng; Lat. sturnus; Fr. etourneau), a well-known bird about the size of a thrush; though at a distance it appears to be black, when near at hand its plumage is seen to be brightly shot with purple, green and steel-blue, most of the feathers when freshly grown being tipped with buff. These markings wear off in the course of the winter, and in the breeding season the bird is almost spotless. It is the Sturnus vulgaris of ornithologists.

A full description of the habits of the starling[1] is unnecessary in this place. A more engaging bird scarcely exists, for its familiarity during some months of the year gives opportunities for observing its ways that few others afford, while its varied song, its sprightly gestures, its glossy plumage, and, above all, its character as an insecticide—which last makes it the friend of the agriculturist and the grazier—render it an almost universal favourite. The worst that can be said of it is that it occasionally pilfers fruit, and, as it flocks to roost in autumn and winter among reed-beds, does considerable damage by breaking down the stems.[2] The congregations of starlings are indeed very marvellous, and no less than the aerial evolutions of the flocks, chiefly before settling for the night, have attracted attention from early times, being mentioned by Pliny (Hist. naturalis, x. 24) in the 1st century. The extraordinary precision with which the crowd, often numbering several hundreds, not to say thousands, of birds, wheels, closes, opens out, rises and descends, as if the whole body were a single living thing—all these movements being executed without a note or cry being uttered—must be seen to be appreciated, and may be seen repeatedly with pleasure. For a resident the starling is rather a late breeder. The nest is commonly placed in the hole of a tree or of a building, and its preparation is the work of some little time. The eggs, from 4 to 7 in number, are of a very pale blue, often tinged with green. As the young grow they become very noisy, and their parents, in their assiduous attendance, hardly less so, thus occasionally making themselves disagreeable in a quiet neighbourhood. The starling has a Wide range over Europe and Asia, reaching India; but examples from Kashmir, Persia and Armenia have been considered worthy of specific distinction, and the resident starling of the countries bordering the Mediterranean is generally regarded as a good species, and called S. unicolor from its unspotted plumage.

Of the many forms allied to the genus Sturnus, some of which have perhaps been needlessly separated therefrom, those known as Grackles (q.v.), are separately dealt with, and here we shall only notice one other, Pastor, containing a beautiful species P. roseus, the Rose-coloured Starling, which is not an unfrequent visitor to the British Islands. It is a bird of most irregular and erratic habits—a vast horde suddenly arriving at some place to which it may have hitherto been a stranger, and at once making a settlement there, leaving it wholly deserted as soon as the young are reared. This happened in the summer of 1875 at Villafranca, in the province of Verona, the castle of which was occupied in a single day by some 12,000 or 14,ooo birds of this species, as has been graphically told by Sig. de Betta

(Atti del r. ist. veneto, 5th series, vol. ii.);[3] but similar instances have been before recorded—as in Bulgaria in 1867, near Smyrna in 1856, and near Odessa in 1844, to mention only some of which particulars have been published.[4]

  1. They are dwelt on at some length in Yarrell's British Birds, ed. 4, vol. ii. pp. 229-241.
  2. A most ridiculous and unfounded charge has been, however, more than once brought against it—that of destroying the eggs of skylarks. There is little real evidence of its sucking eggs, and much of its not doing so; while, to render the allegation still more absurd, it has been brought by a class of farmers who generally complain that skylarks themselves are highly injurious.
  3. A partial translation of this paper is given in the Zoologist for 1878, pp. 18–22.
  4. It is remarkable that on almost all of these occasions the locality pitched upon has been, either at the time or soon after, ravaged by locusts, which the birds greedily devour. Another fact worthy of attention is that they are often observed to affect trees or shrubs bearing rose-coloured flowers, as Nerium oleander and Robinia viscosa, among the blossoms of which they themselves may easily escape notice, for their plumage is rose-pink and black shot with blue.