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DEBATE ON THE CROW BILL,
In the Senate of Virginia, February 9th, 1826.
Crows and Choughs that wing the midway air,
-Shakspeare. (King Lear.)
MR. McCarty. By that bill, Mr. Speaker, 'tis meant to propose The form of a law for the killing of crows; A county requests us—the county Fairfax, To place it as one in the list of our actsI'm sure, Sir, that you and that every one knows How very destructive to corn are the crows ; There is not perhaps any bird, Sir, that hops, That pulls up as much of the cornplanter's crops; They gather by thousands and tear with their bills Each plant as it peeps through the top of the hills; I see, Sir, this subject produces some mirth, But let not a crow, Sir, remain upon earth. If the West is to pay for the wolf and its whelps, Why may not the east for the crow or its scalps ? I hope then, the senate will pass, Sir, the law, We wish not in Fairfax to hear a crow-caw.
MR. RUFFIN. Mr. Speaker, I move to amend the crow bill By adding to those who have license to kill Insert after Fairfax the words “Isle of Wight, “Southampton and Surry,” you also may write. 'Tis not that I have oh no, heaven knows, A thirst, Mr. Speaker, for blood of the crows, Prince George and the crows are on very good terms, We want them to eat up that pest, the cut worms, But some of my counties complain with Fairfax And is'nt it right they should come in for snacks?
MR. McCARTY. With this bill, Mr. Speaker, some wags down below Are strongly suspected of picking a crow," Against that amendment, I therefore shall vote, We might just as well catch the bill by the throat; "Twill excite such a laugh in a certain great hall, They'll scout from the House the amendment and all, I hope, Sir, the bill will be then let alone, This amendment will cause it to die with a groan.
Mr. Page. Mr. Speaker!!! I hope the amendment and bill Will find in the Senate no jot of good will To hold out a bounty in any such case Is simply rewarding the vagrant and base; From labor productive, 'tis taking away, Sir; Your hundreds to idle and waste all the day, Sir; Instead of promoting the true wealth of nations 'Tis taking men off from their suitable stations, From digging—from grubbing and other hard blows, To shooting their guns at a parcel of crows. But, Sir, I assert it-'tis true on my word, The crow is in fact a carniverous bird; He does'nt like corn, Sir-he would'nt eat grain, He'd strut by the thing in a fit of disdain ; If he only could get flesh enough for his turn, What you think is his passion, he'd caw at and spurn; 'Tis mere "Hobson's choice,” with him when his scorn Is seen to relax, and he gobbles your corn. I would ask too the member who urges this tax, If it be not unwise in the county Fairfax? If the end is effected, this crow hill enforces, What is to become of his mass of dead horses ?
MR. CABEL. It may seem, Mr. Speaker, to some of the counties To be a small matter, this granting of bounties, But long have I thought, Sir, 'twould be very wise In planters, some plan of the kind to devise. The interests of husbandry, calling now louder, Must have something stronger than smell of gunpowder;
These birds come upon us like hordes, Sir, of Huns,
peck, And unless some provision is made in our laws, I fear, Sir, the planter must give up his cause.
man who does not
MR. SHARP. A single remark, Mr. Speaker,-the man Who does’nt make corn, eats bread if he can: The more that is made, the cheaper he buys, Then does’nt he profit when any crow dies ? The Speaker arose from his arm chair at last And ask'd if the bill in his hand should be passed, And the “ayes” seem'd to have it, he said, by the sound And the foes of the crows, how they crowd on the ground !!
February 10th. We hasten to notice an error we fell in, Reporting this bill, as regards Mr. Allen. That gentleman moved an amendment, to wit, If laws on the subject were thought at all fit, Those laws should be general, and each county court In its wisdom, to scalping of crows, might resort; He thought that a body so grave as the Senate Should not have a thing like a crow bill within it; If the bill should go through with its one sided features, Then year after year we should hear of these creatures; 'Twas best in his judgment to deal such a blow, As would shut up forever the bill of the crow, And this was the speech which gave Mr. Ruffin, What Fairfax would call, a fit of “humgruffin.” “He had no objection he said to the bill As regards other counties-enact what you will; But as for his county, he warmly protested By bell, book, and candle, if crows were molested, The worms there would fearlessly riot and revel. All chance of the crop would be sent to the devil.”
THE PETITION OF THE CROW 8. At a very numerous meeting of crows in the Northern Neck, assembled not for the purpose of opposing the election of General Andrew Jackson or John Quincy Adams, to the presidency, but to take into consideration the state of the crows, the following petition to the Legislature was vociferously adopted.
Corvus CARNIVOROUS, in the Tree. CrowOVER CORNHILL, Scratchetary. To the Honorable Speakers and Members of the General
Assembly of Virginia: The petition of the crows of the Northern Neck, humbly complaining, sheweth unto your honors that your petitioners view with feelings of the deepest alarm, the various enactments of the legislature against them; they could have borne, without speaking, the injuries heretofore inflicted, because they were of a partial nature, and did not seem to contemplate the total eradication of their species, but now that they find from a birdseye view of your journal, that the war to be waged against them is one of entire extermination, they cannot forbear to cry out and respectfully ask of your honors what they have done, more than many other animals, to call down a vengeance so cruel and unrelenting. Not only are we exposed to death in a thousand shapes from poisonous preparations and villainous gunpowder, but recently with a refinement of malignity disgraceful to a christian people, grains of corn have been strung with horse hair, and your unfortunate petitioners, while attempting to swallow these affronts have been subjected to phthisical tortures of a character wholly indescribable. Not satisfied with punishments so entirely disproportioned to our offences, your honors have sanctioned by law, that aboriginal abomination of scalping, against which, when practised on yourselves, your outcries have been loud and unceasing. Is it not enough that our domestic privacy is