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Poor, discontented, looked upon as a suspicious character, and with no encumbrance beyond what he recognised as existing towards his father's household, when liberty came, Wilson turned his gaze across the Atlantic to the States where some friends had preceded him. Along with a nephew, William Duncan, he left Belfast Loch in the ship “Swift," 23rd May, 1794, with a mixed body of passengers, 350 in number, and arrived off Cape Delaware, ith July. A long and affectionate letter was despatched to his father in a few days from Philadelphia. Wilson's first employment was in a copper-plate printer's office, a trade for which he is not known to have received any special training; then the pack was resumed for a short time, and finally he settled down as a schoolmaster in the township of Kingess, about four miles from the Quaker city. This fixed Wilson's career. From early life, as may be seen in his poetry, he had been fond of all feathered creatures. With the mavis and the blackbird, the robin and the wren, and pigeons of all kinds, he was on the most familiar terms. At Philadelphia was the garden of William Bartram, an experienced botanist and naturalist, and a warm friend of Wilson's to the close of life; and there, too, was Lawson the engraver, who willingly seconded his efforts at selfinstruction and drawing from nature and etching. The beginning of Wilson's great work appears to have been simple enough. In June, 1803, he writes to his old friend Crichton:-“I have had many pursuits since I left Scotlandmathematics, the German language, music, drawing, &c., and I am now about to make a collection of all our finest birds.” Henceforward, writes Mr. Grosart, Wilson devoted himself to this casually announced collection of all America's finest birds "with a consecration of intellect and heart, scrutinising observation, and beautiful enthusiasm that thrill one across half the century and more. North and south, east and west, he journeyed, gun in hand, in forest, brushwood, reeded swamp, river, lake, mountain, everywhere, with a burning passion, combined with a modest patience of research very wonderful.” In the fall of 1804, he undertook a two months' pedestrian tour to Utica, making in some days forty-seven miles, and traversing in all upwards of 1,200. 1809 saw him as far south as
Carolina, during which excursion, as he wrote to his father, he visited every town within 150 miles of the Atlantic coast, from the River St. Lawrence to St. Augustine in Florida. Towns were visited chiefly from the facilities they afforded for obtaining subscribers to the “Ornithology,” not always a welcome mission to the author. One entry in his diary runs .“ Visited a number of the literati and wealthy of Cincinnati, who all told me they would think of subscribing." They are (Wilson dryly adds) a very thoughtful people.
Another thought such a book should not be encouraged, as it was not within the reach of common people, and therefore inconsistent with Republican institutions. Worse still from the Governor of Staten Island: "He turned over a few pages, looked at a picture or two, asked my price, and, while in the act of closing the book, added—'I would not give a hundred dollars for all the birds you intend to describe, even had I them alive."" Pleasant exceptions now and then occurred to such treatment. One merits special mention, a landlord bearing the honoured name of Isaac Walton refusing to take anything for keeping either the wanderer or his horse :-“You seem (the diary records) to be travelling for the good of the world, and I cannot and will not charge you anything.
Whenever you come this way call and stay with me--you shall be welcome.” The great journey to Pittsburg is referred to in a letter to his father, February 1811:
“My last route was across the Alleghany Mountains to Pittsburg, thence to the falls of the Ohio—720 miles alone in a boat, thence through the Chickasaw and Choctaw country (nations of Indians), and West Florida to New Orleans, in which journey I sustained considerable hardship, having many dangerous creeks to swim, and having to encamp for thirteen different nights in the woods alone. From New Orleans I sailed to East Florida, furnished with a letter to the Spanish Governor there, and visited a number of the islands that lie to the south of the peninsula. I returned to Philadelphia on the end of September last, after an absence of seven months. In prosecuting this journey I had sometimes to kindle a large fire; I then stripped the canes for my horse, ate a bit of supper, and lay down to sleep, listening to the owls and cheekwills,
and to a kind of whip-poor-will that are very numerous. On the fourteenth day of my journey I arrived at Natchez, Mississippi, after having overcome every obstacle alone, and without being acquainted with the country, and, what surprised the boatmen more, without whisky."
During this Southern journey Wilson picked up his famous Carolina parrot, described with much minuteness in the third volume of the “Ornithology." “When at night (he writes) I encamped in the woods I placed it on the baggage beside me, where it usually sat with great composure, dozing and gazing at the fire till morning. In this manner I carried it upwards of a thousand miles in my pocket, where it was exposed all day to the jolting of the horse, but regularly liberated at meal times and in the evening, at which it always expressed great satisfaction. In passing through the Chickasaw and Choctaw nations, the Indians, wherever I stopped to feed, collected around me, men, women, and children, laughing, and seeming wonderfully amused with the novelty of my companion." Poor Poll was drowned in the Gulf of Mexico.
HUMANITY OF WILSON.
The following reminds one of Burns' “wee sleekit, cow'rin', tim'rous beastie" :
“One of my boys caught a mouse in the school a few days ago, and directly marched up to me with his prisoner. I set about drawing it that same evening, and all the while the pantings of its little heart showed it to be in the most extreme agonies of fear. I had intended to kill it in order to fix it in the claws of a stuffed owl, but happening to spill a few drops of water near where it was tied, it lapped it up with such eagerness, and looked in my face with such an eye of supplicating terror as perfectly overcame me. I immediately untied it, and restored it to life and liberty. The agonies of the prisoner at he stake, while the fire and instruments of torment are preparing, could not be more severe than the sufferings of that poor mouse; and insignificant
as the object was, I felt at that moment the sweet sensation that mercy leaves on the mind when she triumphs over cruelty.”
Wilson appears to have obtained 250 subscribers to his “Ornithology," but the total number printed is not exactly stated. A list of the names and Institutions is given in the second volume of Mr. Grosart's work, and among them it is gratifying to observe the University of Glasgow and the Hunterian Museum. The first volume appeared in 1808, the eighth in 1814, with the sorrowful announcement of the author's death. The end was characteristic of the man. While sitting in the house of one of his friends, enjoying the pleasures of conversation, he chanced to see a bird of rare species, for which he had long been in search. With his usual enthusiasm he ran out, followed it, swam across a river over which it had flown, fired at, killed, and obtained the object of his pursuit; but caught a cold, which, bringing on dysentery, ended in his death, 23rd August, 1813. His remains were deposited in the burial-ground of the Swedish Church, Southwark District, Philadelphia. While in good health he is said to have expressed a wish to be laid in some rural spot where the birds might sing over his grave. It is in a business district of the city, but on paying a pilgrim visit Mr. Grosart heard an ariole piping softly and sweetly a few yards from the resting-place of the ornithologist. The two volumes with which we have been dealing present by far the most complete picture yet sent forth of Wilson the poet and Wilson the ornithologist. Here he appears as he lived—a man possessed of genuine gifts and tender feeling, allied to indomitable perseverance, unflagging power of endurance, and the still rarer virtue of thorough simplicity in character. The memorial statue erected within the enclosure of Paisley Abbey was a fitting tribute to the genius of one of the most distinguished natives of the old burgh, and a recognition no less of the increasing fame which Time is sure to gather round the memory of Alexander Wilson,
MOTHERWELL AND CUNNINGHAM.
SIMILARITY in taste, something in style, more in experience, and a great deal in the form of contributions to the minstrelsy of Scotland, make it convenient to notice Motherwell and Cunningham together. So far as the work known as Cromek's “Remains of Nithsdale and Galloway Song" is concerned, a note prefixed to the latest edition, makes no apology necessary for continuing to treat it as has been generally done since its first issue, over seventy years since, as substantially the work of Allan Cunningham. Cromek himself was a fussy yet useful man in his day, and, although somewhat credulous, did good service to the ballad literature of Scotland, albeit he was a native of Yorkshire. In his memoir of Blake as an artist, Cunningham writes of his early patron, the engraver, as having skill in art and taste in literature, although “honest Allan's” latest editor sets him down as a sharp man of business, no way averse to take advantage of artists working for him. The history of the “Remains," in a published form, is given with substantial accuracy in the presatory note already referred to. When the songs of Burns had been given to the world with judicious care by Dr. Currie, Cromek became so attracted by their delineations of Scottish life that he made a pilgrimage to the North, and collected material for his “Reliques of Robert Burns," published in 1808, and for which he was made a member of the Antiquarian Society of Scotland. After its publication he again came North, and it was during this second visit he met Allan Cunningham, and secured the material which appears in the Nithsdale and Galloway “Remains.” Cunningham was at the time working as a mason in Dumfriesshire, but neglected trade in his ardent pursuit of literature; and it was partly through Cromek's advice and influence that in the very year when the “Remains" appeared he went to London and became connected with the newspaper press. It is said that Allan presented some of his poetry to Cromek, but received only feeble praise for his productions, until the thought occurred to him that he might