Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 6.djvu/502

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these nests that, when occupied, concealed the birds, were all much smaller and the nest itself deeper than in those nests where concealment was not considered in the construction, these latter being in every way much like the nest of the orchard oriole (Icterus spurius).

Originally, in all probability, when its enemies were more numerous, especially the smaller hawks, the nest of the Baltimore oriole w r as perfectly closed at the top, and with a side opening; but, of the many scores of this nest that we have met, we have never seen a nest of this bird so constructed.

The very fact of the Baltimore oriole constituting a partial exception to Mr. Wallace's supposed law of birds'-nests is, we think, here shown to be a proof of the correctness of his theory.


By Mrs. S. B. HERRICK.

FRANCIS HUBER was born in Geneva, July 2, 1750. His father, John Huber, was a man of many and varied gifts; he was considered one of the wits of the day, and was an accomplished musician, poet, painter, and sculptor. The art of cutting landscapes and silhouettes from paper may almost be called his creation. He attained such proficiency in executing likenesses in this way that, with his hands behind him, he tore from a card a correct profile of Voltaire. The curious combination of talent and caprice which characterized most of his work is well illustrated by one of his attempts: he executed a profile of Voltaire, upon one occasion, by allowing his cat to bite from a slice of cheese portions which he successively presented to her! Besides his lighter social and artistic gifts, he possessed keen powers of observation as a naturalist and considerable facility with the pen, as is shown in his "Observations sur le Vol des Oiseaux de Proie," Geneva, 1774.

John Huber transmitted to his son most of his tastes, without that discursiveness and caprice which so fatally marred his own career. The boy, from his early childhood, attended lectures at the Genevan College. The library, the cabinet, and the observations of his father, early roused in him an ardent love for natural science; he had begun intelligently to observe Nature at an age when other children seem hardly aware of her existence. Before he was fifteen years old, he had completed a course of physics under De Saussure, and familiarized himself with chemical manipulation in the laboratory of a relation, who was an obstinate alchemist.

Intense application, together with the habit of reading late at night, by dim lamp-light, or even by the light of the moon, seriously impaired