m (horsetail or scouring-rush), and the rich, coarse vegetation of the veratrum, or American hellebore.
In moist copses the ferns and osmundas begin to uncurl in April, opening their soft coils of spongy verdure, coated with woolly down, from which the humming-bird steals the lining of her nest.
The early blossoms represent the aboriginal epoch of our history: the bloodroot and the May-flower are older than the white man, older perchance than the red man; they alone are the true Native Americans.
Of the later wild plants, many of the most common are foreign importations.
In our sycophancy we attach grandeur to the name exotic; we call aristocratic garden-flowers by that epithet; yet they are no more exotic than the humbler companions they brought with them, which have become naturalized.
The dandelion, the buttercup, chickweed, celandine, mullein, burdock, yarrow, whiteweed, nightshade, and most of the thistles,—these are importations.
Miles Standish never crushed them with hi
ve more than the very rudest variation of accent.
The controversy between the singing-birds of Europe and America has had various phases and influential disputants.
Buffon easily convinced himself that our Thrushes had no songs, because the voices of all birds grew harsh in savage countries, such as he naturally held this continent to be. Audubon, on the other hand, relates that even in his childhood he was assured by his father that the American songsters were the best, though neither Americans nor Europeans could be convinced of it. MacGillivray, the Scottish naturalist, reports that Audubon himself, in conversation, arranged our vocalists in the following order: first, the Mocking-Bird, as unrivalled; then, the Wood-Thrush, the Cat-Bird, and Red-Thrush; the Rose-breasted, Pine, and Blue Grosbeak; the Orchard and Golden Oriole; the Tawny and Hermit Thrushes; several Finches,—Bachmann's, the White-Crowned, the Indigo, and the Nonpareil; and, finally, the Bobolink.