This beautiful volume has been written for a good purpose. I had the pleasure of reading the proof-sheets of the book while in the Yellowstone National Park, where no gun may be lawfully fired at any of God's creatures. All animals there are becoming tame, and the great bears come out of the woods to feed on the garbage of the hotels and camps, fearless of the tourists, who look on with pleasure and wonder at such a scene.
"The child is father of the man," and this volume is addressed to the heart and imagination of every child reader. If children are taught to love and protect the birds they will remember the lesson when they grow old. When children learn to prefer to take a "snap-shot" at a bird with a camera, rather than with a gun, they will protect these feathered friends for their beauty, even if they do not regard them for their usefulness.
Nature has supplied a system of balances if left to itself. Some forms of insect life are so prolific that but for the voracity and industry of the birds the world would become almost uninhabitable.
Bird life appeals to the eye for its beauty, to the ear for its music, and to the interest of man for its utility. Shooting-clubs have foreseen the extermination that awaits many of the finest of the game birds, and are taking much pains to enforce the laws enacted for game protection. A selfish interest thus is called into activity, and one class of birds is receiving protection through the aid of its own enemies.
But the birds of beautiful plumage are now threatened with extinction by the desire of womankind for personal decoration. Against this destruction Audubon societies are organizing a crusade, and Mrs. Patterson's principal purpose in this book is to direct attention to the wholesale slaughter of the birds of plumage and song.
The Princess of Wales was requested to write in an album her various peculiarities. Among the inquiries was: "What is your greatest weakness?" She answered: "Millinery."
When Napoleon was banished to Elba it is stated that the fallen monarch was followed by Josephine's old millinery bills. How many of these bills were for the plumage of slaughtered birds the historian does not say. But the passion for the beautiful is very strong in the tender hearts of women, and an earnest appeal to the natural gentleness of the sex must be made to enlist them in the defense of the birds.
Mrs. Patterson enters upon this task with enthusiasm, and many a bird will live to flutter through the trees or glisten in the sunshine and gladden the earth with its beauty that but for this little book would have perched for a brief season upon the headgear of some lovely woman.
Let the good work go on until the mummy of a dead bird will be recognized by all persons as an unfitting decoration for the head of womankind.
JOHN F. LACEY.CONTENTS CHAPTER I. II. III. IV. V. VI. VII. VIII. IX. X. XI. XII. XIII. XIV. XV. List of Illustrations
Last night Alicia wore a Tuscan SonnetAnd many humming birds were fastened on it....