Cornhill Magazine,  5 (1862), 281–93.

The Winter Time. A Peep Through the Fog

[John Skelton]


Essay, Travelogue


Ornithology, Monographs, Reading, Natural History, Descent, Collecting, Hunting, Natural Imperialism

    Recounts how, 'I had been dreaming over Mrs. Blackburn's Birds. Do you know her book? Well, if you do not, get Mudie to send it to you, or, better still, buy a copy for your children, and yourself. [...] Scarcely ever before have our feathered relatives (for we are all somehow connected, of course—birds and beasts) found such an interpreter [...] the Queen of the Birds—the bright-eyed, purple-vested, golden eagle—ought forthwith to decorate her portrait-painter in ordinary'. (282) These 'queer, grotesque, uncanny-looking' illustrations of several species of birds inspire the author to unpack his 'guncase', purchase 'five dozen of Eley's death-dealing cartridges (green—No. 2)' and take 'a return ticket from Euston Square to St. Mungo' (283). However, once there the winter weather is so cold that he declares, 'I do not believe that the rarest duck in creation would now tempt me to wet my boots' (293), and he prefers to remain in his 'easy chair' with 'the last pages of [a] romance to finish' (292).

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