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only necessary to add, that the reader is not to imagine, because it has been argued that different faculties are not localized in different parts of the cerebral hemispheres, that therefore it follows that there is no connection between the shape of the head and the mental character. Let the reader who still preserves a lingering fondness for judging men by their appearance continue to take the skull into account, if he pleases; but let him be assured that whatever connection really exists is to be explained, not by the phrenological dogma, but as he would explain why massive chins are often conjoined with strong wills, different types of hand with different types of mind, well-built frames with healthy mental tendencies, and rickety bodies with eccentric, though often keenest-witted natures. The explanation is physiognomical.
While, however, this is probably the case with regard to the shape of the head, it is obvious that the relationship of the amount of brain to the mental faculties is more than physiognomical. Possibly an analogy may be drawn between the brain and a galvanic battery, and increase of the gray matter of the one be correctly compared with addition to the cells of the other; but as in an electric instrument the working is dependent on the delicacy and fitness of the arrangements quite as much as on the strength of the current which supplies them, so in the case of the mind the result is dependent on the distribution and balance of the faculties and inclinations, and on other circumstances, none of which are proved to have any connection with the mass of cerebral substance. Certain it is that, although there are probably mental characters peculiar to large and small brains respectively, the size of the skull is, as any observer may easily satisfy himself, no good guide to the mental endowments. - Popular Science Review.
THE CLAPPER RAIL.
BY DR. E. COUES, U. S. A.
The Clapper Rail, otherwise called the Salt-water Marsh Hen, is a sea-side bird, inhabiting the marshes along our coast within reach of the tides, and rarely if ever straying inward. It goes as far north as Massachusetts, but only in summer, and is unfrequent or rare beyond the Middle States. Further south, however, it is one of the most abundant and characteristic of the maritime species. On the coast of North Carolina, for instance, it breeds in countless numbers, and remains nearly all the year-only becoming less numerous in winter, or perhaps disappearing altogether for a short time during the coldest weather. I presume that the reader
. is so familiar with the appearance of the bird, from seeing stuffed specimens, that I need say nothing on this score. But it may not be so generally known that the young birds, in the downy plumage, are jet black, with a faint gloss of green, looking much like newly-hatched chickens, except that the bill, and especially the fect, are longer. The former is flesh colored, the latter are dusky. And perhaps still less is known of the habits of this, as well as of other rails, which are particularly difficult to study satisfactorily. Rails live hidden in the marshes, and are not very often seen except when they fly up; so that how they live becomes a matter of some interest, as perhaps I may be able to show. We will begin with the eggs-omne vivum ex ovo, says Linnæus.
I have sometimes thought that the pains oölogists frequently take to measure eggs in hundredths of the inch, and describe their shape with mathematical exactitude, might be spared for something more profitable. I was never more struck by the fact that birds' eggs vary more than is usually believed, than when looking over a peck, more or less, of these rails' eggs. They seemed to differ among themselves about as much as the same number of common fowls' eggs would. Let me illustrate by giving the measurements of half a dozen, selected as representing extremes :
No. 1. The longest one, 1.80X 1.10; elliptical, the ends about equally
pointed; greatest diameter in the middle. No. 2. The slenderest one, 1.66X 1.00; same shape. No. 3. A small one, 1.50X 1.05; rather narrowly oval, pointed; greatest
diameter across posterior third. No. 4. A thick one, 1.60X 1.16; a regular "oval” in shape. No. 5. Another thick one, 1.70X1.20; like No. 4, but more obtuse at the
small end. No. 6. The shortest, and a very thick one for its length, 1.50X 1.15; very
broadly oval, or sub-spherical; diameter across the middle; scarcely appreciable difference between the two ends. ,
So the eggs of Rallus crepitans are an inch and two-thirds long, by an inch and one-tenth broad ; narrowly or broadly oval; narrowly or broadly elliptical, or nearly spherical. The ground color ranges from a dull opaque white to a creamy or pale buff. They are rather sparsely, oftener very thickly, marked with spots evenly or very irregularly distributed over the surface; the spots varying from mere dots to large splashes, both on the same, or on different eggs. But when the markings vary in size on the same egg they are always largest and most numerous towards or at the butt, where also they are apt to run together; while they usually remain distinct on other parts of the shell. But it is not confluence of the small spots that makes the longer splashes ; these are of a different character. The former are usually. roundish, with a distinct contour; the latter have no definite shape. In color the markings are always reddish brown; whether paler or darker, they have the rusty or reddish tint, and are never pure brown. There are a number of other spots, more obscure than either of the foregoing, appearing as if in the shell instead of on the surface; these are some shade of lavender, lilac, or very pale purplish.
The number of eggs deposited varies; I never found more than seven in one nest, though I have been assured that eight or nine may be laid ; six or seven is the average number, however, The laying season commences (here in North Carolina, at any rate) the last week in April, and continues until the middle of June, or later, as two broods are frequently raised. I found perfectly fresh eggs June 12th ; and have seen barely fledged birds in August. But the second and third weeks in May are the great times for laying. Then, when the season is at its height, some idea of the countless numbers of rails in the marshes may be gained from the fact that baskets full of the eggs are gathered by the boys (and men too) and brought to the Beaufort market, where they sell for about five cents a dozen. When perfectly fresh they are very good to eat.
We occasionally read in books, scientific and otherwise, accounts of the nests of rails and coots being floated off by the tide without going to pieces, and the parent bird continuing to incubate, with undisturbed peace of mind, during the whole voyage. I suppose such a thing may have happened ; at any rate, a lively imagination is well enough, and it is a pity to spoil a good story by asking impertinent questions. But I must say I never saw a rail's nest substantial enough to hold together for any length of time floating on the water; and, moreover, that a good deal that has been said about their being skilfully moored to tussocks of grass, rising and falling with the tide, etc., may be taken with much salt. In fact, destruction of numberless nests, addling of eggs, and drowning of newly-hatched young, are foregone conclusions from every unusual rise of the tide, as during a severe storm. A great tragedy of this sort happened at Fort Macon, on the 22d of May, 1869, when, and for two or three days afterward, the marsh, ordinarily in greatest part above water, was flooded-only here and there a little knoll breaking the monotony of the water. There was a terrible commotion among the rails at first, in prospect of the common calamity; and the reeds resounded with their hoarse cries of terror. But as the waters advanced, and
. inundated score after score of homes, the birds became silent again as if in unspeakable misery. Driven from their concealment, anxious or terrified, as the case might be, they wandered in listless dejection over beds of floating wrack, swam aimlessly over the water, or gathered stupefied in groups upon projecting knolls. Few of the old birds, probably, were drowned, but most of the young must have perished. A dark day for the rails !
As if to guard somewhat against such an accident, the rails generally build their nests around the margins of the marsh, or in elevated and comparatively dry spots in its midst, just about at the usual high water mark. The nest is always placed on the ground, in a bunch of reeds or tussock of grass, or clump of little bushes. It is an artless flimsy structure, made of dried grasses, or reed stalks broken (probably bitten) into pieces three or four inches in length, laid crosswise and matted together, but scarcely intertwined. It is simply a platform of such materials, say a foot in diameter, and two or three inches thick, slightly hollowed in the middle. Sometimes it is barely thick enough to keep the eggs from the wet; sometimes quite a heap of materials is made; this seems to depend in great measure upon the comparative dryness of the situation selected. But in any case the nest is so frail and so bulky that it is difficult or impossible to lift it up without its coming to pieces.
The rail is not a natatorial bird properly speaking. It has only a very slight basal web, and no vestige of a marginal fringe or lobe along the toes. Nevertheless, it swims very well, at least for short distances. I have often seen the birds take to the water by choice, not from necessity; and noticed that they swam buoyantly, if not very fast, and with perfect ease; much like coots, for example. In consequence of the compressed shape of the body, they rest rather deeply in the water ; but carry the head well elevated,