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encumbered or perplexed with the verbiage of the dull books he perused, or the idle talk to which he listened ; but to have at once extracted, by a kind of intellectual alchemy, all that was worthy of attention, and to have reduced it, for his own use, to its true value and to its simplest form. And thus it often happened, that a great deal more was learned from his brief and vigorous account of the theories and arguments of tedious writers, than an ordinary student could ever have derived from the most painful study of the originals—and that errors and absurdities became manifest from the mere clearness and plainness of his statement of them, which might have deluded and perplexed most of his hearers without that invaluable assistance.
It is needless to say that, with these vast resources, his conversation was at all times rich and instructive in no ordinary degree; but it was, if possible, still more pleasing than wise, and had all the charms of familiarity with all the substantial treasures of knowledge. No man could be more social in his spirit, less assuming or fastidious in his manners, or more kind and indulgent towards all who approached him. He rather liked to talk-at least in his latter years ; but, though he took a considerable share of the conversation, he rarely suggested the topics on which it was to turn, but readily and quietly took up whatever was presented by those around him ; and astonished the idle and barren propounders of an ordinary theme by the treasures which he drew from the mine they had unconsciously opened. He generally seemed, indeed, to have no choice or predilection for one subject of discourse rather than another; but allowed his mind, like a great cyclopædia, to be opened at any letter his associates might choose to turn up, and only endeavoured to select, from his inexhaustible stores, what might be best adapted to the taste of his present hearers. As to their capacity, he gave himself no trouble ; and, indeed, such was his singular talent for making all things plain, clear, and intelligible, that scarcely any one could be aware of such a deficiency in his presence. His talk, too, though overflowing with information, had no resemblance to lecturing or solemn discoursing ; but, on the contrary, was full of colloquial spirit and pleasantry. He had a certain quiet and grave humour, which ran through most of his conversation, and a vein of temperate jocularity which gave infinite zest and effect to the condensed and inexhaustible information which formed its main
staple and characteristic. There was a little air of affected testiness, too, and a tone of pretended rebuke and contradiction, with which he used to address his younger friends, which was always felt by them as an endearing mark of his kindness and familiarity
—and prized accordingly, far beyond all the solemn compliments that ever proceeded from the lips of authority. His voice was deep and powerful—though he commonly spoke in a low and somewhat monotonous tone, which harmonized admirably with the weight and brevity of his observations ; and set off to the greatest advantage the pleasant anecdotes which he delivered with the same grave brow, and the same calm smile playing soberly on his lips. There was nothing of effort, indeed, or impatience, any more than of pride or levity in his demeanour; and there was a finer expression of reposing strength and mild self-possession in his manner, than we ever recollect to have met with in any other person. He had in his character the utmost abhorrence for all sorts of forwardness, parade, and pretensions; and, indeed, never failed to put all such impostures out of countenance, by the manly plainness and honest intrepidity of his language and deportment.
In his temper and dispositions he was not only kind and affectionate, but generous, and considerate of the feelings of all around him; and gave the most liberal assistance and encouragement to all young persons who showed any indications of talent, or applied to him for patronage or advice. His health, which was delicate from his youth upwards, seemed to become firmer as he advanced in years; and he preserved up almost to the last moment of his existence, not only the full command of his extraordinary intellect, but all the alacrity of spirit and the social gaiety which had illumined his happiest days. His friends in this part of the country never saw him more full of intellectual vigour and colloquial animation—never more delightful or more instructive —than in his last visit to Scotland in autumn 1817. Indeed it was after that time that he applied himself with all the ardour of early life to the invention of a machine for mechanically copying all sorts of sculpture and statuary,_and distributed among his friends some of its earliest performances as the productions of “a young artist, just entering on his eighty-third year!”.
This happy and useful life came at last to a gentle close. He had suffered some inconvenience through the summer ; but was not seriously indisposed till within a few weeks from his death. He then became perfectly aware of the event which was approaching; and with his usual tranquillity and benevolence of nature, seemed only anxious to point out to his friends around him the many sources of consolation which were afforded by the circumstances under which it was about to take place. He expressed his sincere gratitude to Providence for the length of days with which he had been blessed, and his exemption from most of the infirmities of age; as well as for the calm and cheerful evening of life that he had been permitted to enjoy after the honourable labours of the day had been concluded. And thus, full of years and honours, in all calmness and tranquillity, he yielded up his soul without pang or struggle, and passed from the bosom of his family to that of his God.
A DAY IN THE JUNGLE.
SIR JAMES E. TENNENT. PUSILAWA and the surrounding valleys and forests have furnished large collections of objects, illustrative of the zoology of Ceylon; but this is a source of enjoyment of which the successors of the present generation will be deprived, by the felling of the forests and the destruction of the jungle, which now affords protection to multitudes of animals, birds, reptiles, and insects. Their numbers are already declining in this particular spot; but still, such is their profusion in the forests and throughout the region surrounding the coffee estates, that opportunities exist for observing their instincts under most inviting circumstances, and even the apathetic become interested in watching their habits. These are so striking that they impress themselves on every sense, and stand out clear and illustrative in our recollections of the day and its progress. It is not alone that their crowded associations almost overpower the memory, it is not that they form at all times the incidents and life of the landscapemimparting vivacity to the foliage, and rendering the air harmonious with their motion and their music ; but there is a degree of order in their arrangements, and almost of system in their times of appearing and retiring, that serves, when experience has rendered them familiar, to identify each period of the day with its accustomed visitants, and assigns to morning, noon, and twilight their peculiar symbols.
With the first glimmering of dawn, the bats and nocturnal birds retire to their accustomed haunts, in which to hide them from “day's garish eye;" the jackal and the leopard steal back from their nightly chase ; the elephants return timidly into the shade of the forest, from the water pools in which they had been luxuriating during the darkness ; and the deep-toned bark of the elk resounds through the glens as he retires into the security of the forest. Day breaks, and its earliest blush shows the mists tumbling in turbulent heaps through the deep valleys. The sun bursts upwards with a speed beyond that which marks his progress in the cloudy atmosphere of Europe, and the whole horizon glows with ruddy lustre :
“Not as in northern climes, obscurely bright,
But one unclouded blaze of living light.” At no other moment does the verdure of the mountain woods appear so vivid ; each sprig dripping with copious dew, and a pendant brilliant twinkling at every leaf; the grassy glade hoar with the condensed damps of night, and the threads of the gossamer sparkling like strings of opal in the sunbeams.
The earliest members of the animated world that catch the eye as they move abroad, are the Hesperido, the first butterflies, that, with abrupt gesture, pay their morning visit to the flowers. To them succeed the Thecla, distinguished by the blue metallic lustre of their wings; and the Polyommati, the minutest and most delicate of the diurnal Lepidoptera. Other species make their appearance with unerring certainty at successive stages of the morning ; the Theclæ are followed by the Vanessce, and these by the gaudy Papilios, till, as day advances, the broad-leaved plants and flowering shrubs are covered by a dancing cloud of butterflies of every shape and hue. The bees hurry abroad in all directions, and the golden beetles clamber lazily over the still damp leaves.
The earliest bird upon the wing is the crow, which leaves its perch almost with the first peep of dawn, cawing, and flapping its sturdy wings. The parroquets follow in vast companies, chattering and screaming in exuberant excitement. Next the cranes and waders, that fly inland to their breeding places at sunset, rise from the branches on which they have passed the night, waving their plumage to disencumber it of the dew; and, stretching their awkward legs behind, they soar away in the direction of the rivers and the far sea-shore.
The songsters that first pour forth their salutations to the morning are the dial-bird, and the yellow oriole, whose mellow flute-like voice is heard far through the stillness of the dawn. The jungle cock, unseen in the dense cover, shouts his réveille ; not with the shrill clarion of his European type, but in a rich. melodious call, that ascends from the depths of the valley. As light increases, the grass warbler and mynah add their notes; and. the bronze-winged pigeons make the woods murmur with their plaintive cry, which resembles the distant lowing of cattle. The swifts and swallows sally forth as soon as there is sufficient warmth to tempt the minor insects abroad ; the bulbul lights on the forest trees, and the little gem-like sun-birds (the hummingbirds of the East) quiver on their fulgent wings above the opening flowers.
At length the fervid noon approaches, the sun mounts high, and all animated nature begins to yield to the oppression of his beams. The green enamelled dragon-flies still flash above every pool in pursuit of their tiny prey ; but almost every other winged insect instinctively seeks the shade of the foliage. The hawks and falcons now sweep through the sky to mark the smaller birds that may be abroad in search of seeds and larvæ. The squirrels dart from bough to bough uttering their shrill, quick cry; and the cicada on the stem of the palm-tree raises the deafening sound whose tone and volubility have won for it the expressive title of the “ Knife-grinder.”
It is during the first five hours of daylight that nature seems literally to teem with life and motion, the air melodious with the voice of birds, the woods resounding with the simmering sound of insects, and the earth replete with every form of living nature. But as the sun ascends to the meridian and the heat becomes intense, the scene is singularly changed, and nothing is more striking than the almost painful stillness that succeeds the vivacity of the early morning. Every animal disappears, escaping under the thick cover of the woods; the birds retire into the shade ; the butterflies, if they flutter for a moment in the blazing sun, hurry back into the damp shelter of the trees as though their filmy bodies had been parched by the brief exposure ;