Page:Once a Week, Series 1, Volume II Dec 1859 to June 1860.pdf/187

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174
[February 18, 1860.
ONCE A WEEK.

dived down to the platform, knocking over a policeman, and nearly annihilating a fat lap-dog led by a very tall lady, who poked the Minkinshaw with her parasol, angrily called him a wretch, and demanded to know if he intended to be her death. From the crest-fallen manner in which my tormentor permitted himself to be captured and led away by that gaunt un-crinolined lady, I concluded that she was his wife, and I feel certain that I am avenged.

“An amusing old party,” said Charlie, lighting his cigar. “One may give a guess now why he interdicted smoking. Had his coat borne presumptive evidence of his having indulged in the noxious weed when he encountered the strong-minded lady—that would have been a state of things—eh? Poor old Minkinshaw! No ‘bribery’ would have mollified her.”

“Talking of ‘bribery,” said I, musingly, “I should not wonder if, when we are old fogies, we shall be able to tell of things that will count just as outrageous to the rising generation as Old Minkinshaw’s tales of bye-gone Bribery and Corruption, do to us now.”

“I wonder if we shall ever meet him again?” replied Charlie.

Time will show.

Albany Fonblanque, Jun.




THE SWAN.

“Dant sonitum rauci per stagna loquacia Cygni.”
Virg. Æneid.

alt = Swan sitting on eggs, with mate standing guard in the water

Among the pleasing and amusing objects which are to be seen on the river Thames, the swans have always attracted my attention. The Thames is one of their favourite haunts. They rarely descend as low as the metropolis, and never, I believe, beyond it. Their chief delight is in more sequestered scenes. But wherever this bird appears, he is a great ornament to the river. Though his form is clumsy, especially on land, his lines are beautiful, and when he spreads his wings he is full of contrasts. His colour, too, is pleasing, or rather, the lights are in the softest manner blended with the shades. In fact, he is a very picturesque bird.

He appears to most advantage on the water, but not equally so. When he is bent on expedition, with his breast sunk deep into the water, his wings close to his body, and his neck erect, then his motion, as he drives the water before him, is pleasing. His form is the reverse, his neck and body being at right angles. As a loiterer, he makes the best appearance, when, with an arched neck, and wings raised from his sides, he rests upon his oars motionless on the surface, or moves slowly on with the stream,

Prono immobile corpus
Dat fluvio—

then indeed his form is very picturesque. Milton’s portrait of him in this advantageous attitude is touched in a very masterly manner:—

The swan, with arched neck
Between his white wings mantling, proudly rows
His state with oary feet.

When the breeding season comes on in the spring, the colony of swans is particularly amusing, as they are now full of employment and care. The females, dispersed on the little aits or islands of the river, are laying or hatching their eggs, while the male of each family is employed