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ALEXANDER WILSON.

THERE are some men in the world, who are sufficiently intellectual in their tastes, but too active in their habits, to submit to the restraint of quiet literary labor; their minds never exert themselves to the best advantage, except when the body is in action; and certainly it would seem, as if the employment, which engages at once the physical and intellectual powers, must be best suited to the present nature of man. The pursuit, in which ALEXANDER WILSON acquired his great reputation, is of this description; it combines within itself many circumstances, which give it surprising attraction; it requires the self-complacent skill of a sportsman, and the wild romance of an adventurer; it opens a field for the beautiful powers of an artist, and the fine discriminations of a man of taste; moreover it adds the dignity of science to the exciting consciousness of danger. When we think of the ornithologist, the imagination does not present him to us in the safety and repose of a study; we

think of him, as leaving the abodes of civilized man, launching his canoe on unbroken waters, depending on his rifle for subsistence, keeping on his solitary march till the bird has sung its evening hymn, and then lying down to rest, with no society, but the sound of his fire, and no shelter but the star-lighted skies. Accordingly, this pursuit has interested minds of a very high order, and enlisted in the service of science those, who would otherwise have been engaged in fields of blood.

Wilson, and some others like him, have a right to be considered as benefactors of mankind. It is wisely ordered, that happiness shall be found everywhere about us; we do not need to have a rock smitten to supply this thirst of the soul; all we want, is an eye to discern and a heart to feel it. Let any one fix his attention on a moral truth, and he will find it spreading out and enlarging beneath his view, till, what seemed at first as barren a proposition as words could express, becomes an interesting and exciting truth, of momentous bearing on the destinies of men. And so it is with all material things; fix the mind intently upon them; hold them in the light of science, and they continually unfold new wonders. The flower grows even more beautiful, than when it first opened its golden urn, and poured its earliest incense on the air; the tree, which was before

thought of only as a thing to be cut down and cast into the fire, becomes majestic, as it holds its broad shield before the sun in summer, or as it stands in winter, like a gallant ship, with its sails furled and all made fast about it in preparation for the storm. All things in nature inspire in us a new feeling; and the truth is, that ignorance and indifference are almost the same; as fast as our knowledge extends, we are sure to grow interested in any subject whatever.

This explains, why men of powerful minds, like Wilson, grow so deeply interested in what are ignorantly regarded as little things; how they can watch, with the gaze of a lover, to catch the glancing of the small bird's wing; and how they can listen to its song, with as much interest as if it breathed thoughts and affections; how the world can be so spiritually bright to them, while to others the bird is only a flying animal, and the flower only the covering of a clod. man's labors tend to give interest and meaning to the things of the visible world, we consider him as one who has rendered good service to mankind.

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But there is no need of spending time in attempting to establish the claim of Wilson to public regard; for, although the history of his life abounded with depressing circumstances, his name, since his death, has been constantly gain

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ing renown; and the place which his chosen science holds in the public favor, must be considered as principally owing to his exertions. All his powers were concentrated upon this single purpose; he engaged in it, not as an amusement, nor even as an employment, but as the great business of his life; and with a deep and determined spirit, which few men can imitate or even understand. He considered the subjects of his art, not as playthings; he loved them as familiar friends; their voice was not music, but language; instead of dying away upon the ear, it went down into the soul. To many his interest in these things no doubt seemed senseless and excessive; but he is one of those, who never smile at the depth and earnestness of their own emotions. When he described the birds, he spoke of their habits and manners, as if they were intelligent things, and has thus given a life and charm to his descriptions, which will make his work the chief attraction of the science in our country for many years to come.

ALEXANDER WILSON was born in Paisley in Scotland, on the 6th of July, 1766. His father was a distiller, poor in his fortunes, but is said by those who knew him to have been a man of active and sagacious mind. He outlived his eminent son, and perhaps enjoyed the reflection of his fame, which was already widely extended in

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