Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/422

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410
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

of my little feathered pensioners was made quite evident by the hail-like pattering of their feet upon the tinned roof just below, where they hopped impatiently to and fro waiting for their matutinal repast.

The English sparrow, by reason of his domestic habits and acquired capability of adapting himself to the manifold and varying circumstances of our city and country life, has become one of the most knowing and observing of all our birds. But once a change in my clothing puzzled them. They knew my call, but the different color of my new garments seemed to have changed my personality. They would fly to me at my call, flutter about my head, hover over the food in my hand, and then, perching near by, would proceed to look me over and over with the most perplexed and serious air to fathom the mystery. After a while I established my identity and our old confidence was renewed. Indeed, it had become so complete that I now felt myself under a species of obligation never to disappoint them in their expectation of food, as they were on the watch for me whenever I appeared.

With the other birds my success was not so complete. But this was only what was to be expected. My attention had been mostly directed to the sparrow; the summer was drawing to a close, and they were seeking more congenial haunts. All, however, had become more familiar, for they seemed to have recognized my good will, and so much so that I feel assured that with the proper patience and favorable surroundings we can enter into very close and cordial relations with many of these little joyous minstrels whose beauty, song, and winged grace have brightened some hours in most of our lives.

Referring again to the English sparrow, it may be interesting to observe that I have seen him follow the robin about and snatch from his bill the worms as he pulled them out of the ground. Why the latter did not resent such audacious robbery I can not fancy, unless he knew that "discretion was the better part of valor"—that any attempt upon his part to chastise such a questionable messmate might bring down upon himself a mob of his companions.

His influence is already perceived in our streets, from which the once familiar pigeon is disappearing, as are many of our songsters from the field and garden, due also to his omnipresence. There is very little, if any, poetry or song in his life. His chief purpose seems to be "to possess the land," and to bring up as large a family as possible. Yet, while many have learned to regard him as a "wretched interloper," we can not but admire his hardihood, his intelligence, and his plastic instinct, by means of which he fits himself, like his human prototype, to the environments of the many regions he has invaded, and where, if the signs be true, he has come to stay and to exclude from their native haunts his more attractive and gracious rivals.

P. F. Schofield.
New York, November 18, 1893.
 


EDITOR'S TABLE.

 

PUBLIC OPINION.

THERE is nothing more tiresome than the platitudes in which popular orators and journals indulge when, generally for some sinister purpose, they set themselves to extol the wisdom and virtue of "the people." People who have any sense know just how wise and virtuous they are, and quite fail to see the point of the excessive adulation thus bestowed on them. It is difficult indeed to imagine what class of persons it is that can he gratified by praise of so inordinate and conventional a kind. Why should a lot of people who have chosen representatives of a certain kind care to be told that they are so very much wiser than the men they have chosen? yet that is the common refrain: the people are so much wiser and better than the politicians. If the people are so much wiser and better than the politicians, why don't they show their wisdom and goodness by bringing better men to the front? The men who are elected to-day may in a short time return to private life and become electors themselves: do they thereupon acquire a sudden increase in wisdom, and do they show their increased wisdom by helping at the first opportunity to elect worse men than themselves? That seems to be the way it is understood to work: the whole thing is fulsome and absurd to the last degree.

The truth, which, if it does not give