1826. Hilary Term begins.
It appears that our ingenious neighbours, the French, are rivalled by the lark-catchers of Dunstaple, in the mode of attracting those birds.
To the Editor of the Every-Day Book.
6, Bermondsey New Road,
January 18, 1826.
In the present volume of your Every-Day Book p. 93, a correspondent at Abbeville has given an account of lark-shooting in that country, in which he mentions a machine called a miroir, as having been used for the purpose of attracting the birds within shot. Perhaps you are not aware that in many parts of England a similar instrument is employed for catching the lark when in flight, and at Dunstaple. At that place, persons go out with what is called a larking glass, which is, if I may so term it, a machine made somewhat in the shape of a cucumber. This invention is hollow, and has holes cut round it, in which bits of looking-glass are fitted; it is fixed on a pole, and has a sort of reel, from which a line runs; this line, at a convenient distance, is worked backward and forward, so as to catch the rays of the sun: the larks seeing themselves in the glass, as some think, but more probably blinded by the glare of it, come headlong down to it, a net is drawn over them, and thus many are taken, deceived like ourselves with glittering semblances. Yes! lords as we deem ourselves of the creation, we are as easily lured by those who bait our passions or propensities, as those poor birds. This simple truth I shall conclude with the following lines, which, be they good, bad or indifferent, are my own, and such as they are I give them to thee:—
As in the fowler's glass the lark espies
His feath'ry form from 'midst unclouded skies;
And pleased, and dazzled with the novel sight,
Wings to the treacherous earth his rapid flight,
So, in the glass of self conceit we view
Our soul's attraction, and pursue it too,
In every shape wherein it may arise,
In gold, or land, or love before our eyes,
And in the wary net are captive ta'en,
By the sure hand of woman, or of gain.
S. R. Jackson.
Mean Temperature . . . 36 . 57.