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Title: Eccentricities of the Animal Creation.
Author: Timbs, John
Language: English
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[Illustration: KING PENGUINS.]








  _The right of translation is reserved._



  Natural History in Scripture, and Egyptian Records, 11.--Origin of
  Zoological Gardens, 12.--The Greeks and Romans, 12.--Montezuma's
  Zoological Gardens, 13.--Menagerie in the Tower of London,
  14.--Menagerie in St. James's Park, 14.--John Evelyn's Notes,
  15.--Ornithological Society, 15.--Continental Gardens, 16.--Zoological
  Society of London instituted, 16; its most remarkable Animals,
  16.--Cost of Wild Animals, 18.--Sale of Animals, 20.--Surrey
  Zoological Gardens, 20.--Wild-beast Shows, 21.


  Ancient History, 22, 23.--One-horned and Two-horned, 25,
  26.--Tractability, 25.--Bruce and Sparmann, 27.--African Rhinoceros in
  1868, 27.--Description of, 29.--Burchell's Rhinoceros, 30.--Horn of
  the Rhinoceros, 31, 32.


  Sirens of the Ancients, 33.--Classic Pictures of Mermaids,
  34.--Leyden's Ballad, 35.--Ancient Evidence, 36, 37, 38.--Mermaid in
  the West Indies, 39.--Mermaids, Seals, and Dugongs, 41.--Mermaids and
  Manatee, 42.--Test for a Mermaid, 43.--Mermaid of 1822, 43.--Japanese
  Mermaids, 44.--Recent Evidence, 47, 48.


  Ctesias and Wild Asses, 65.--Aristotle, Herodotus, and Pliny,
  50.--Modern Unicorns, 50.--Ancient Evidence, 51.--Hunting the
  Unicorn, 52.--Antelopes, 53, 54.--Cuvier and the Oryx, 54.--Tibetan
  Animal, 55.--Klaproth's Evidence, 55.--Rev. John Campbell's Evidence,
  57.--Baikie on, 58.--Factitious Horns in Museums, 59.--Unicorn in the
  Royal Arms, 60.--Catching the Unicorn, 60.--Belief in Unicorns, 61.


  Economy of the Mole, 62.--Its Structure, 63.--Fairy Rings; Feeling
  of the Mole, 64.--Le Court's Experiments, 62, 65.--Hunting-grounds,
  67.--Loves of the Moles, 68, 69.--Persecution of Moles.--Shrew Mole,
  70.--Hogg, the Ettrick Shepherd, on Moles, 71.


  The Ant-Bear of 1853, 72, 73.--Mr. Wallace, on the Amazon, describes
  the Ant-Bear, 73.--Food of the Ant-Bear, 74.--His Resorts, 75.--Habits
  in Captivity, by Professor Owen, 76-80.--Fossil Ant-Bear, 80,
  81.--Tamandua Ant-Bear, 82--Von Sack's Ant-Bear, 83.--Porcupine
  Ant-Eater, 84.--Ant-Bears in the Zoological Gardens, 84.


  Virgil's Harpies, 85.--Pliny on the Bat, 85.--Rere-mouse and
  Flitter-mouse, 86.--Bats, not Birds but Quadrupeds, 87.--Sir Charles
  Bell on the Wing of the Bat, 87.--Vampire Bat from Sumatra, 88.--Lord
  Byron and Vampire, 89.--Levant Superstition, 89.--Bat described by
  Heber, Waterton, and Steadman, 90.--Lesson on Bats, 91.--Bat Fowling
  or Folding, 91, 92.--Sowerby's Long-eared Bat, 92, 96.--Wing of
  the Bat, 96.--_Nycteris_ Bat, 97.--_Kalong_ Bat of Java, 98.--Bats,
  various, 100, 101.


  Hedgehog Described, 102.--Habits, 103.--Eating Snakes, 105.--Poisons,
  105, 106.--Battle with a Viper, 105.--Economy of the Hedgehog, 106,


  Living Hippopotamus brought to England in 1850, 108.--Capture and
  Conveyance, 111.--Professor Owen's Account, 111-115.--Described
  by Naturalists and Travellers, 115-118.--Utility to Man,
  118-119.--Ancient History, 119.--In Scripture, 120.--Alleged
  Disappearance, 121.--Fossil, 122.


  Character, 123.--Reputed Generosity, 125.--Burchell's Account,
  125.--Lion-Tree in the Mantatee Country, 127.--Lion-hunting,
  128.--Disappearance of Lions, 130, 131.--Human Prey, 132.--Maneless
  Lions of Guzerat, 134.--A Lion Family in Bengal, 135, 136.--Prickle on
  the Lion's Tail, 137-139.--Nineveh Lions, 139.--Lions in the Tower of
  London, 140, 141.--Feats with Lions, 142.--Lion-hunting in Algeria, by
  Jules Gerard, 144.--The Prudhoe Lions, 144.


  Rate at which Birds fly, 145, 146.--Air in the Bones of Birds,
  146.--Flight of the Humming-bird, 147.--Colour of Birds, 148.--Song
  of Birds, 149.--Beauty in Animals, 150.--Insectivorous Birds,
  151.--Sea-fowl Slaughter, 152.--Hooded Crow in Zetland, 154.--Brain of
  Birds, 154.--Danger-signals, 155.--Addison's Love of Nature, 156, 157.


  Colours of Eggs, 158.--Bird's-nesting, 159.--Mr. Wolley, the
  Ornithologist, 159, 160.--European Birds of Prey, 161.--Large
  Eggs, 162, 163, 164.--Baya's Nest, 164.--Oriole and Tailor-bird,
  165, 166.--Australian Bower-bird, 167.--Cape Swallows, 168.--"Bird
  Confinement," by Dr. Livingstone.


  Origin of the Ortolan, 172; described, 173, 174; Fattening process,
  175, 176.--Prodigal Epicurism, 177, 178.


  Toucan family, 179.--Gould's grand Monograph, 180.--Toucans described,
  180-182; Food, 183; Habits, 184.--Gould's Toucanet, 187.


  Penguins on Dassent Island, 188.--Patagonian Penguins, 189.--Falkland
  Islands, 189.--King Penguins, 190, 191.--Darwin's Account,
  192.--Webster's Account, 193.--Swainson's Account, 194.


  Pelicans described by various Naturalists, 195, 196.--The Pelican
  Island, 197.--Popular Error, 199-200.--Cormorants, and Fishing with
  Cormorants, 201-204.


  Sounds by various Birds, 204.--Umbrella Bird, 206.--Bittern,
  207.--Butcher-bird and Parrots, 208.--Wild Swan, Laughing Goose,
  Cuckoo, and Nightingale, 209.--Talking Canaries, 210.--Neighing Snipe,
  213.--Trochilos and Crocodiles, 216.--Instinct. Intelligence, and
  Reason in Birds, 217-219.--Songs of Birds and Seasons of the Day, 219.


  Characteristics of the Owl, 221.--Owl in Poetry, 222.--Bischacho or
  Coquimbo, 224.--Waterton on Owls, 225, 226.--Owls. Varieties of,


  Atmospheric Changes, 231.--Stormy Petrel, 233.--Wild Geese and Ducks,
  235.--Frogs and Snails, 237.--The Mole, 240.--List of Animals, by
  Forster, the Meteorologist, 241.--Weatherproof Nests, 247.--"Signs of
  Rain," by Darwin, 248.--Shepherd of Banbury, 249.


  How Fishes Swim, 250.--Fish Changing Colour, 251.--"Fish Noise,"
  252.--Hearing of Fish, 253.--The Carp at Fontainebleau, 254,
  255.--Affection of Fishes, 256.--Cat-fish, Anecdote of, 257.--Great
  Number of Fishes, 258.--Little Fishes Eaten by Medusæ, 259.--Migration
  of Fishes, 261.--Enormous Grampus, 262.--Bonita and Flying-fish,
  263.--Jaculator Fish of Java, 264.--Port Royal, Jamaica Fish,
  266.--The Shark, 267.--California. Fish of, 268.--Wonderful Fish,
  269.--Vast Sun-fish, 271.--Double Fish, 272.--The Square-browed
  Malthe, 274.--Gold Fish, 275.--The Miller's Thumb, 276.--Sea-fish
  Observatory, 276.--Herring Question, 278.--Aristotle's History of
  Animals, 279-280.


  Salmon-swarming, 281.--Candle-fish, 282.--Octopus, the, 283.--Sturgeon
  and Sturgeon Fishing, 283-287.


  Locomotion of Fishes, 288.--Climbing Perch, 288.--Crabs in the West
  Indies, 289.--Crabs, Varieties of, 289-292.--Robber and Cocoa-nut
  Crab, 292-301.--Fish of the China Seas, 301.


  Lizard from Formosa Isle, 303.--Its Habits, 304-306.


  The Chameleon described by Aristotle and Calmet, 307, 308.--Change
  of Colour, 309.--Reproduction of, 310, 311.--Tongue, 311.--Lives in
  Trees, 312.--Theory of Colours, 313.--The Puzzle Solved, 315.--Mrs.
  Belzoni's Chameleons, 317.--Lady Cust's Chameleons, 321.--Chameleon's
  Antipathy to Black, 322.


  Dr. Husenbeth's Toads at Cossey, 327.--Frog and Toad Concerts, 327.


  Greeks' Love for the Song, 329.--Cicada in British Colombia,
  329.--Tennyson and Keats on the Grasshopper, 330.


  Baptista Porta's Account, 331.--Max Müller on, 331.--Gerarde's
  Account, 332.--Giraldus Cambrensis, 332.--Professor Rolleston.
  Drayton's _Poly-olbion_, 333.--Sir Kenelm Digby and Sir J. Emerson
  Tennent, 334.--Finding the Barnacle, 334.


  Bookworms, their Destructiveness, 336, 337.--How to Destroy, 338.--The
  Death-watch, 339.--Lines by Swift, 340.


  Life and Labours of the Pholas, 341.--Family of the Pholas,
  342.--Curious Controversy, 343.--Boring Apparatus, 342.--Several
  Observers, 347, 348.--Boring Annelids, 348.



  KING PENGUINS                                             Frontispiece

  THE TWO-HORNED AFRICAN RHINOCEROS                                   28

  SEAL AND MERMAID                                                    40

  THE GREAT ANT-BEAR (ZOOLOGICAL SOCIETY'S)                           76

  FRASER'S EAGLE OWL, FROM FERNANDO PO                               228

  SQUARE-BROWED MALTHE AND DOUBLE FISH                               274

  THE TREE-CLIMBING CRAB                                             288

  CHAMELEONS                                                         318





Curious creatures of Animal Life have been objects of interest to
mankind in all ages and countries; the universality of which may be
traced to that feeling which "makes the whole world kin."

It has been remarked with emphatic truth by a popular writer, that "we
have in the Bible and in the engraven and pictorial records the earliest
evidence of the attention paid to Natural History in general. The 'navy
of Tarshish' contributed to the wisdom of him who not only 'spake of the
trees from the cedar of Lebanon, even unto the hyssop that springeth
out of the wall,' but 'also of beasts, and of fowls, and of creeping
things, and of fishes,'[1] to say nothing of numerous other passages
showing the progress that zoological knowledge had already made. The
Egyptian records bear testimony to a familiarity not only with the forms
of a multitude of wild animals, but with their habits and geographical

The collections of living animals, now popularly known as Zoological
Gardens, are of considerable antiquity. We read of such gardens in China
as far back as 2,000 years; but they consisted chiefly of some favourite
animals, such as stags, fish, and tortoises. The Greeks, under Pericles,
introduced peacocks in large numbers from India. The Romans had their
elephants; and the first giraffe in Rome, under Cæsar, was as great an
event in the history of zoological gardens at its time as the arrival in
1849 of the Hippopotamus was in London. The first zoological garden of
which we have any detailed account is that in the reign of the Chinese
Emperor, Wen Wang, founded by him about 1150 A.D., and named by him "The
Park of Intelligence;" it contained mammalia, birds, fish, and amphibia.
The zoological gardens of former times served their masters occasionally
as hunting-grounds. This was constantly the case in Persia; and in
Germany, so late as 1576, the Emperor Maximilian II. kept such a park
for different animals near his castle, Neugebah, in which he frequently

Alexander the Great possessed his zoological gardens. We find from Pliny
that Alexander had given orders to the keepers to send all the rare and
curious animals which died in the gardens to Aristotle.

Splendid must have been the zoological gardens which the Spaniards found
connected with the Palace of Montezuma. The letters of Ferdinand Cortez
and other writings of the time, as well as more recently "The History
of the Indians," by Antonio Herrera, give most interesting and detailed
accounts of the menagerie in Montezuma's park. The buildings belonging
to these gardens were all gorgeous, as became the grandeur of the Indian
prince; they were supported by pillars, each of which was hewn out of
a single piece of some precious stone. Cool, arched galleries led into
the different parts of the garden--to the marine and fresh-water basins,
containing innumerable water-fowl,--to the birds of prey, falcons
and eagles, which latter especially were represented in the greatest
variety,--to the crocodiles, alligators, and serpents, some of them
belonging to the most venomous species. The halls of a large square
building contained the dens of the lions, tigers, leopards, bears,
wolves, and other wild animals. Three hundred slaves were employed in
the gardens tending the animals, upon which great care was bestowed, and
scrupulous attention paid to their cleanliness. To this South American
zoological garden of the sixteenth century no other of its time could be

More than six centuries ago, our Plantagenet kings kept in the Tower
of London exotic animals for their recreation. The Lion Tower was built
here by Henry III., who commenced assembling here a menagerie with three
leopards sent to him by the Emperor Frederic II., "in token of his regal
shield of arms, wherein those leopards were pictured." Here, in 1255,
the Sheriffs built a house "for the King's elephant," brought from
France, and the first seen in England. Our early sovereigns had a mews
in the Tower as well as a menagerie:--

    "Merry Margaret, as Midsomer flowre,
    Gentyll as faucon and hawke of the Towre."--_Skelton._

In the reign of Charles I., a sort of Royal Menagerie took the place of
the deer with which St. James's Park was stocked in the days of Henry
VIII, and Queen Elizabeth. Charles II. greatly enlarged and improved
the Park; and here he might be seen playing with his dogs and feeding
his ducks. The Bird-cage Walk, on the south side of the Park, had in
Charles's time the cages of an aviary disposed among the trees. Near the
east end of a canal was the Decoy, where water-fowl were kept; and here
was Duck Island, with its salaried Governor.

Evelyn, in 1664, went to "the Physique Garden in St. James's," where
he first saw "orange trees and other fine trees." He enumerates in
the menagerie, "an ornocratylus, or pelican; a fowle between a storke
and a swan; a melancholy water-fowl, brought from Astracan by the
Russian ambassador; a milk-white raven; two Balearian cranes," one of
which, had a wooden leg "made by a soulder:" there were also "deere of
severall countries, white, spotted like leopards; antelopes, an elk,
red deer, roebucks, staggs, Guinea goates, Arabian sheepe, &c." There
were "withy-potts, or nests, for the wild fowle to lay their eggs in, a
little above y^e surface of y^e water."

"25 Feb. 1664. This night I walk'd into St. James his Parke, where I saw
many strange creatures, as divers sorts of outlandish deer, Guiny sheep,
a white raven, a great parrot, a storke.... Here are very stately walkes
set with lime trees on both sides, and a fine pallmall."[3]

Upon the eastern island is the Swiss Cottage of the Ornithological
Society, built in 1841 with a grant of 300l. from the Lords of
the Treasury: it contains a council-room, keepers' apartments,
steam-hatching apparatus; contiguous are feeding-places and decoys; and
the aquatic fowl breed on the island, making their own nests among the
shrubs and grasses.

The majority of Zoological Gardens now in existence have been founded
in this century, with the exception of the Jardin des Plantes, which,
although founded in 1626, did not receive its first living animals until
the year 1793-1794. Hitherto, it had been a Garden of Plants exclusively.

We shall not be expected to enumerate the great Continental gardens,
of which that at Berlin, half an hour's drive beyond the Brandenburg
gates, contains the Royal Menagerie; it is open upon the payment of
an admission fee, and generally resembles our garden at the Regent's
Park. Berlin has also its Zoological Collection in its Museum of Natural
History. This collection is one of the richest and most extensive in
Europe, especially in the department of Ornithology: it includes the
birds collected by Pallas and Wildenow, and the fishes of Bloch. The
best specimens are those from Mexico, the Red Sea, and the Cape. The
whole is exceedingly well arranged, and _named_ for the convenience of
students. Still, our Zoological Collection in the British Museum (to be
hereafter removed to South Kensington) is allowed to be the finest in

The Zoological Society of London was instituted in 1826, and occupies
now about seventeen acres of gardens in the Regent's Park. Among the
earliest tenants of the Menagerie were a pair of emues from New Holland;
two Arctic bears and a Russian bear; a herd of kangaroos; Cuban mastiffs
and Thibet watch-dogs; two llamas from Peru; a splendid collection of
eagles, falcons, and owls; a pair of beavers; cranes, spoonbills, and
storks; zebras and Indian cows; Esquimaux dogs; armadilloes; and a
collection of monkeys. To the menagerie have since been added an immense
number of species of _Mammalia_ and _Birds_; in 1849, a collection
of _Reptiles_; and in 1853, a collection of _Fish_, _Mollusca_,
_Zoophytes_, and other _Aquatic Animals_. In 1830, the menagerie
collected by George IV. at Sandpit-gate, Windsor, was removed to the
Society's Gardens; and 1834 the last of the Tower Menagerie was received
here. It is now the finest public Vivarium in Europe.

The following are some of the more remarkable animals which the Society
have possessed, or are now in the menagerie:--

     _Antelopes_, the great family of, finely represented. The
     beautiful _Elands_ were bequeathed by the late Earl of Derby, and
     have bred freely since their arrival in 1851. The Leucoryx is the
     first of her race born out of Africa. _Ant-eater. Giant_, brought
     to England from Brazil in 1853, was exhibited in Broad-street,
     St. Giles's, until purchased by the Zoological Society for 200l.
     _Apteryx_, or _Kiwi_ bird, from New Zealand; the first living
     specimen brought to England of this rare bird. The _Fish-house_,
     built of iron and glass, in 1853, consisting of a series of glass
     tanks, in which fish spawn, zoophytes produce young, and algæ
     luxuriate; crustacea and mollusca live successfully, and ascidian
     polypes are illustrated, together with sea anemones, jelly-fishes,
     and star-fishes, rare shell-fishes, &c.: a new world of animal
     life is here seen as in the depths of the ocean, with masses of
     rock, sand, gravel, corallines, sea-weed, and sea-water; the
     animals are in a state of natural restlessness, now quiescent,
     now eating and being eaten. _Aurochs_, or _European Bisons_: a
     pair presented by the Emperor of Russia, in 1847, from the forest
     of Bialowitzca: the male died in 1848, the female in 1849, from
     pleuro-pneumonia. _Bears_: the collection is one of the largest
     ever made. _Elephants_: including an Indian elephant calf and its
     mother. In 1847 died here the great Indian elephant Jack, having
     been in the gardens sixteen years. Adjoining the stable is a tank
     of water, of a depth nearly equal to the height of a full-grown
     elephant. In 1851 the Society possessed a _herd of four elephants_,
     besides a hippopotamus, a rhinoceros, and both species of tapir;
     being the largest collection of pachydermata ever exhibited in
     Europe. _Giraffes_: four received in 1836 cost the Society upwards
     of 2,300_l._, including 1,000_l._ for steamboat passage: the female
     produced six male fawns here between 1840 and 1851. _Hippopotamus_,
     a young male (the first living specimen seen in England), received
     from Egypt in May, 1850, when ten months old, seven feet long,
     and six and a-half feet in girth; also a female hippopotamus,
     received 1854. _Humming-birds_: Mr. Gould's matchless collection
     of 2,000 examples was exhibited here in 1851 and 1852. _Iguanas_,
     two from Cuba and Carthagena, closely resembling, in everything
     but size, the fossil Iguanodon. The _Lions_ number generally from
     eight to ten, including a pair of cubs born in the gardens in 1853.
     _Orang-utan_ and _Chimpanzee_: the purchase-money of the latter
     sometimes exceeds 300_l._ The orang "Darby," brought from Borneo
     in 1851, is the finest yet seen in Europe, very intelligent, and
     docile as a child. _Parrot-houses_: they sometimes contain from
     sixty to seventy species. _Rapacious Birds_: so extensive a series
     of eagles and vultures has never yet been seen at one view. _The
     Reptile-house_ was fitted up in 1849; the creatures are placed in
     large plate-glass cases: here are pythons and a rattle-snake, with
     a young one born here; here is also a case of the tree-frogs of
     Europe: a yellow snake from Jamaica has produced eight young in the
     gardens. _Cobra de Capello_, from India: in 1852, a keeper in the
     gardens was killed by the bite of this serpent. _A large Boa_ in
     1850 swallowed a blanket, and disgorged it in thirty-three days.
     A _one-horned Rhinoceros_, of continental India, was obtained in
     1834, when it was about four years old, and weighed 26 cwt.; it
     died in 1850: it was replaced by a female, about five years old.
     _Satin Bower-Birds_, from Sydney: a pair have built here a bower,
     or breeding-place. _Tapir_ of the Old World, from Mount Ophir;
     the nearest existing form the Paleotherium. _Tigers_: a pair of
     magnificent specimens, presented by the Guicoway of Baroda in 1851;
     a pair of clouded tigers, 1854. _The Wapiti Deer_ breeds every year
     in the Menagerie.

The animals in the Gardens, although reduced in number, are more
valuable and interesting than when their number was higher. The mission
of the Society's head-keeper, to collect rare animals for the Menagerie,
has been very profitable. The additional houses from time to time, are
very expensive: the new monkey house, fittings, and work cost 4,842_l._;
and in 1864, the sum of 6,604_l._ was laid out in permanent additions to
the establishment.

Very rare, and consequently expensive, animals are generally purchased.
Thus, the first Rhinoceros cost 1,000_l._; the four Giraffes, 700_l._,
and their carriage an additional 700_l._ The Elephant and calf were
bought in 1851 for 500_l._; and the Hippopotamus, although a gift, was
not brought home and housed at less than 1,000_l._--a sum which he
more than realised in the famous Exhibition season, when the receipts
were 10,000_l._ above the previous year. The Lion Albert was purchased
for 140_l._; a tiger, in 1852, for 200_l._ The value of some of the
smaller birds will appear, however, more startling: thus, the pair
of black-necked Swans were purchased for 80_l._; a pair of crowned
Pigeons and two Maleos, 60_l._; a pair of Victoria Pigeons, 35_l._;
four Mandarin Ducks, 70_l._ Most of these rare birds (now in the great
aviary) came from the Knowsley collection, at the sale of which,
in 1851, purchases were made to the extent of 985_l._ It would be
impossible from these prices, however, to judge of the present value
of the animals. Take the Rhinoceros, for example: the first specimen
cost 1,000_l._; the second, quite as fine a brute, only 350_l._ Lions
range again from 40_l._ to 180_l._, and Tigers from 40_l._ to 200_l._
The ignorance displayed by some persons as to the value of well-known
objects is something marvellous.--A sea-captain demanded 600_l._ for
a pair of Pythons, and at last took 40_l._! An American offered the
Society a Grisly Bear for 2,000_l._, to be delivered in the United
States; and, more laughable still, a moribund Walrus, which had been fed
for nine weeks on salt pork and meal, was offered for the trifling sum
of 700_l._!

There is a strange notion that the Zoological Society has proposed a
large reward for a "Tortoiseshell Tom-cat," and one was accordingly
offered to the Society for 250_l._! But male Tortoiseshell Cats may be
had in many quarters.[4]

The Surrey Zoological Gardens were established in 1831. Thither
Cross removed his menagerie from the King's Mews, where it had been
transferred from Exeter Change. At Walworth a glazed circular
building, 100 feet in diameter, was built for the cages of the
carnivorous animals (Lions, Tigers, Leopards, &c.); and other houses
for Mammalia, Birds, &c. Here, in 1834, was first exhibited a young
Indian one-horned Rhinoceros, for which Cross paid 800_l._ It was the
only specimen brought to England for twenty years. In 1836 were added
three Giraffes, one fifteen feet high. The menagerie was dispersed in
1856. The menagerie at Exeter Change was a poor collection, though the
admission-charge was, at one period, half-a-crown!

The collections of animals exhibited at fairs have added little to
Zoological information; but we may mention that Wombwell, one of the
most noted of the showfolk, bought a pair of the first Boa Constrictors
imported into England: for these he paid 75_l._, and in three weeks
realised considerably more than that sum by their exhibition. At the
time of his death, in 1850, Wombwell was possessed of three huge
menageries, the cost of maintaining which averaged at least 35_l._ per
day; and he used to estimate that, from mortality and disease, he had
lost, from first to last, from 12,000_l._ to 15,000_l._

Our object in the following succession of sketches of the habits and
eccentricities of the more striking animals, and their principal
claims upon our attention, is to present, in narrative, their leading
characteristics, and thus to secure a willing audience from old and


[1] 1 Kings iv. 10.

[2] "Athenæum."

[3] Journal of Mr. E. Browne, son of Sir Thomas Browne.

[4] In April, 1842, Mr. Batty's collection of animals was sold by
auction, when the undermentioned animals brought--Large red-faced Monkey
(clever), 1_l._ 10_s._; fine Coatimondi, 1_l._ 4_s._; Mandril (the
only one in England), 1_l._ 17_s._; pair of Java Hares, 1_l._ 9_s._; a
Puma, 14_l._; handsome Senegal Lioness, 9_l._; a Hyæna, 7_l._; splendid
Barbary Lioness, 24_l._; handsome Bengal Tigress, 90_l._; brown Bear,
6_l._; the largest Polar Bear in Europe, 37_l._; pair of Esquimaux
Sledge-Dogs, 3_l._ 7_s._; pair of Golden Pheasants, 3_l._ 10_s._; a
blue-and-buff Macaw (clever talker), 2_l._ 10_s._; a horned Owl, from
North America, 3_l._ 10_s._; a magnificent Barbary Lion, trained for
performance, 105 guineas; a Lioness, similarly trained, 90 guineas;
handsome Senegal performing Leopard, 34 guineas; two others, 50 guineas;
Ursine Sloth, 12 guineas; Indian Buffalo, 10 guineas; sagacious male
Elephant, trained for theatrical performances, 350 guineas. The above is
stated to have been the first sale of the kind by public auction in this


The intellectual helps to the study of zoology are nowhere more
strikingly evident than in the finest collection of pachyderms
(thick-skinned animals) in the world, now possessed by our Zoological
Society. Here we have a pair of Indian Elephants, a pair of African
Elephants, a pair of Hippopotami, a pair of Indian Rhinoceroses, and an
African or two-horned Rhinoceros.

The specimens of the Rhinoceros which have been exhibited in Europe
since the revival of literature have been few and far between. The
first was of the one-horned species, sent from India to Emmanuel. King
of Portugal, in the year 1513. The Sovereign made a present of it to
the Pope; but the animal being seized during its passage with a fit of
fury, occasioned the loss of the vessel in which it was transported. A
second Rhinoceros was brought to England in 1685; a third was exhibited
over almost the whole of Europe in 1739; and a fourth, a female, in
1741. A fifth specimen arrived at Versailles in 1771, and it died in
1793, at the age of about twenty-six years. The sixth was a very young
Rhinoceros, which died in this country in the year 1800. The seventh, a
young specimen, was in the possession of Mr. Cross, at Exeter Change,
about 1814; and an eighth specimen was living about the same time in
the Garden of Plants at Paris. In 1834 Mr. Cross received at the Surrey
Gardens, from the Birman empire, a Rhinoceros, a year and a-half old,
as already stated at page 21. In 1851 the Zoological Society purchased
a full-grown female Rhinoceros; and in 1864 they received a male
Rhinoceros from Calcutta. All these specimens were from India, and
_one-horned_; so that the _two-horned_ Rhinoceros had not been brought
to England until the arrival of an African Rhinoceros, _two-horned_, in
September, 1868.[5]

The ancient history of the Rhinoceros is interesting, but intricate. It
seems to be mentioned in several passages of the Scriptures, in most
of which the animal or animals intended to be designated was or were
the _Rhinoceros unicornis_, or Great Asiatic one-horned Rhinoceros.
M. Lesson expresses a decided opinion to this effect: indeed, the
description in Job (chap. xxxix.) would almost forbid the conclusion
that any animal was in the writer's mind except one of surpassing bulk
and indomitable strength. The impotence of man is finely contrasted
with the might of the Rhinoceros in this description, which would be
overcharged if it applied to the less powerful animals alluded to in the
previous passages.

It has also been doubted whether accounts of the Indian Wild Ass, given
by Ctesias, were not highly coloured and exaggerated descriptions of
this genus; and whether the Indian Ass of Aristotle was not a Rhinoceros.

Agatharchides describes the one-horned Rhinoceros by name, and speaks
of its ripping up the belly of the Elephant. This is, probably, the
earliest occurrence of the name _Rhinoceros_. The Rhinoceros which
figured in the celebrated pomps of Ptolemy Philadelphus was an
Ethiopian, and seems to have marched last in the procession of wild
animals, probably on account of its superior rarity, and immediately
after the Cameleopard.

Dion Cassius speaks of the Rhinoceros killed in the circus with a
Hippopotamus in the show given by Augustus to celebrate his victory over
Cleopatra; he says that the Hippopotamus and this animal were then first
seen and killed at Rome. The Rhinoceros then slain is thought to have
been African, and two-horned.

The Rhinoceros clearly described by Strabo, as seen by him, was
one-horned. That noticed by Pausanias as "the Bull of Ethiopia," was
two-horned, and he describes the relative position of the horns.

Wood, in his "Zoography," gives an engraving of the coin of Domitian
(small Roman brass), on the reverse of which is the distinct form of a
two-horned Rhinoceros: its exhibition to the Roman people, probably of
the very animal represented on the coin, is particularly described in
one of the epigrams attributed to Martial, who lived in the reigns of
Titus and Domitian. By the description of the epigram it appears that
a combat between a Rhinoceros and a Bear was intended, but that it was
very difficult to irritate the more unwieldy animal so as to make him
display his usual ferocity; at length, however, he tossed the bear from
his double horn, with as much facility as a bull tosses to the sky the
bundles placed for the purpose of enraging him. Thus far the coin and
the epigram perfectly agree as to the existence of the double horn; but,
unfortunately, commentators and antiquaries were not to be convinced
that a Rhinoceros could have more than one horn, and have at once
displayed their sagacity and incredulity in their explanations on the

Two, at least, of the two-horned Rhinoceroses were shown at Rome in the
reign of Domitian. The Emperors Antoninus, Heliogabalus, and Gordian
also exhibited Rhinoceroses. Cosmas speaks expressly of the Ethiopian
Rhinoceros as having two horns, and of its power of moving them.

The tractability of the Asiatic Rhinoceros has been confirmed by
observers in the native country of the animal. Bishop Heber saw at
Lucknow five or six very large Rhinoceroses, of which he found that
prints and drawings had given him a very imperfect conception. They
were more bulky animals, and of a darker colour than the Bishop
supposed; though the latter difference might be occasioned by oiling
the skin. The folds of their skin also surpassed all which the Bishop
had expected. Those at Lucknow were quiet and gentle animals, except
that one of them had a feud with horses. They had sometimes howdahs, or
chaise-like seats, on their backs, and were once fastened in a carriage,
but only as an experiment, which was not followed up. The Bishop,
however, subsequently saw a Rhinoceros (the present of Lord Amherst to
the Guicwar), which was so tamed as to be ridden by a Mohout quite as
patiently as an elephant.

No two-horned Rhinoceros seems to have been brought alive to Europe in
modern times. Indeed, up to a comparatively late period, their form
was known only by the horns which were preserved in museums; nor did
voyagers give any sufficient details to impart any clear idea of the
form of the animal. The rude figure given by Aldrovandus, in 1639,
leaves no doubt that, wretched as it is, it must have been taken from a
two-horned Rhinoceros.

Dr. Parsons endeavoured to show that the one-horned Rhinoceros always
belonged to Asia, and the two-horned Rhinoceros to Africa; but there are
two-horned Rhinoceroses in Asia, as well as in Africa. Flacourt saw one
in the Bay of Soldaque, near the Cape of Good Hope, at a distance. Kolbe
and others always considered the Rhinoceros of the Cape as two-horned;
but Colonel Gordon seems to be the first who entirely detailed the
species with any exactness. Sparrman described the Cape Rhinoceros,
though his figure of the animal is stiff and ill-drawn. At this period
it was well known that the Cape species was not only distinguished by
having two horns from the Indian Rhinoceros then known, but also by an
absence of the folds of the skin so remarkable in the latter.

We should here notice the carelessness, to call it by the mildest
name, of Bruce, who gave to the world a representation of a two-horned
Rhinoceros from Abyssinia, with a strongly folded skin. The truth
appears to be that the body of the animal figured by Bruce was copied
from that of the one-horned Rhinoceros given by Buffon, to which Bruce
added a second horn. Salt proved that the Abyssinian Rhinoceros is
two-horned, and that it resembles that of the Cape.


Sparmann exposes the errors and poetic fancies of Buffon respecting the
impenetrable nature of the skin. He ordered one of his Hottentots to
make a trial of this with his hassagai on a Rhinoceros which had been
shot. Though this weapon was far from being in good order, and had no
other sharpness than that which it had received from the forge, the
Hottentot, at the distance of five or six paces, not only pierced with
it the thick hide of the animal, but buried it half a foot deep in its

Mr. Tegetmeier has sufficiently described in the "Field" journal the
African Rhinoceros just received at the Zoological Society's menagerie
in the Regent's-park, and which has been sketched by Mr. T. W. Wood
expressly for the present volume.

It was captured about a year ago in Upper Nubia by the native hunters
in the employment of Mr. Casanova, at Kassala; and was sent, by way of
Alexandria and Trieste, to Mr. Karl Hagenbeck, of Hamburg, a dealer in
wild beasts, who sold it to the Zoological Society.

"This animal is very distinct from its Asiatic congeners; it differs
strikingly in the number of horns, as well as in the character of its
skin, which is destitute of those large folds, which cause the Indian
species to remind the observer of a gigantic 'hog in armour.'

"The arrival of this animal will tend to clear up the confusion
that prevails respecting the number of distinct species of African
Rhinoceros. Some writers--as Sir W. C. Harris--admit the existence of
two species only, the dark and the light, or, as they are termed, the
'white' and the 'black.' Others, as Dr. A. Smith, describe three; some,
as the late Mr. Anderssen, write of four; and Mr. Chapman even speaks of
a fifth species or hybrid.

"Three of these species are very distinctly defined--the ordinary dark
animal, the _Rhinoceros bicornis_, in which the posterior horn is much
shorter than the anterior; the _Rhinoceros keitloa_, in which the two
horns are of equal length; and the 'white' species, _Rhinoceros simus_.
The last, among other characters, is, according to Dr. Smith,
distinguished by the square character of the upper lip, which is not

"The young animal now (October, 1868) in the Zoological Society's
garden, appears to belong to the first-named species, the largest
specimens of which when full grown reach a height of 6ft., and a length
of 13ft., the tail not included. Its present height is 3-1/2ft., and
length about 6ft. In general appearance the mature animal resembles a
gigantic pig, the limbs being brought under the body. The feet are most
singular in form, being very distinctly three-toed, and the remarkable
trefoil-like _spoors_ that they make in the soil render the animal
easy to track. The horns vary greatly in length in different animals;
the first not unfrequently reaches a length of 2ft., the second being
considerably shorter. These appendages differ very much from ordinary
horns; they are, in fact, more of the nature of agglutinated hair, being
attached to the skin only, and consequently they separate from the skull
when the latter is preserved.

"The head is not remarkable for comeliness, especially in the mature
animal, in which the skin of the face is deeply wrinkled, and the small
eyes are surrounded with many folds. The upper lip is elongated, and is
used in gathering the food. The adult animals are described by Sir W. C.
Harris, in his 'Illustrations of the Game Animals of South Africa,' as
'swinish, cross-grained, ill-tempered, wallowing brutes.'"

Mr. Burchell, during his travels in Africa, shot nine Rhinoceroses,
besides a smaller one. The latter he presented to the British Museum.
The animal is, however, becoming every day more and more scarce in
Southern Africa; indeed, it is rarely to be met with in some parts.
It appears that, in one day, two Rhinoceroses were shot by Speelman,
the faithful Hottentot who attended Mr. Burchell. He fired off his gun
but twice, and each time he killed a Rhinoceros! The animal's sense of
hearing is very quick: should he be disturbed, he sometimes becomes
furious, and pursues his enemy; and then, if once he gets sight of the
hunter, it is scarcely possible for him to escape, unless he possesses
extraordinary coolness and presence of mind. Yet, if he will quietly
wait till the enraged animal makes a run at him, and will then spring
suddenly on one side, to let it pass, he may gain time enough for
reloading his gun before the Rhinoceros gets sight of him again, which,
fortunately, owing to its imperfection of sight, it does slowly and with

Speelman, in shooting a large male Rhinoceros, used bullets cast with
an admixture of tin, to render them harder. They were flattened and
beat out of shape by striking against the bones, but those which were
found lodged in the fleshy parts had preserved their proper form, a fact
which shows how little the hardness of the creature's hide corresponds
with the vulgar opinion of its being impenetrable to a musket-ball.
Mr. Burchell found this Rhinoceros nearly cut up. On each side of the
carcase the Hottentots had made a fire to warm themselves; and round a
third fire were assembled at least twenty-four Bushmen, most of whom
were employed the whole night long in broiling, eating, and talking.
Their appetite seemed insatiable, for no sooner had they broiled and
eaten one slice of meat than they turned to the carcase and cut another.
The meat was excellent, and had much the taste of beef. "The tongue,"
says Mr. Burchell, "is a dainty treat, even for an epicure." The hide is
cut into strips, three feet or more in length, rounded to the thickness
of a man's finger, and tapering to the top. This is called a _shambok_,
and is universally used in the colony of the Cape for a horsewhip, and
is much more durable than the whips of European manufacture. The natural
food of the Rhinoceros, till the animal fled before the colonists, was a
pale, bushy shrub, called the Rhinoceros-bush, which burns while green
as freely as the driest fuel, so as readily to make a roadside fire.

The horn of the Rhinoceros, single or double, has its special history by
the way of popular tradition. From the earliest times this horn has been
supposed to possess preservative virtues and mysterious properties--to
be capable of curing diseases and discovering the presence of poison;
and in all countries where the Rhinoceros exists, but especially in the
East, such is still the opinion respecting it. In the details of the
first voyage of the English to India, in 1591, we find Rhinoceros' horns
monopolised by the native sovereigns on account of their reputed virtues
in detecting the presence of poison.

Thunberg observes, in his "Journey into Caffraria," that "the horns of
the Rhinoceros were kept by some people, both in town and country, not
only as rarities, but also as useful in diseases, and for the purpose
of detecting poisons. As to the former of these intentions, the fine
shavings were supposed to cure convulsions and spasms in children. With
respect to the latter, it was generally believed that goblets made of
these horns would discover a poisonous draught that was poured into
them, by making the liquor ferment till it ran quite out of the goblet.
Of these horns goblets are made, which are set in gold and silver and
presented to kings, persons of distinction, and particular friends, or
else sold at a high price, sometimes at the rate of fifty rix-dollars
each." Thunberg adds:--"When I tried these horns, both wrought and
unwrought, both old and young horns, with several sorts of poison, weak
as well as strong, I observed not the least motion or effervescence; but
when a solution of corrosive sublimate or other similar substance was
poured into one of these horns, there arose only a few bubbles, produced
by the air which had been enclosed in the pores of the horn and which
were now disengaged."

Rankin (in his "Wars and Sports") states this mode of using it: a small
quantity of water is put into the concave part of the root, then hold it
with the point downwards and stir the water with the point of an iron
nail till it is discoloured, when the patient is to drink it.


[5] The conveyance of a Rhinoceros over sea is a labour of some risk. In
1814 a full-grown specimen on his voyage from Calcutta to this country
became so furious that he was fastened down to the ship's deck, with
part of a chain-cable round his neck; and even then he succeeded in
destroying a portion of the vessel, till, a heavy storm coming on, the
Rhinoceros was thrown overboard to prevent the serious consequence of
his getting loose in the ship.


Less than half a century ago, a pretended Mermaid was one of the sights
of a London season; to see which credulous persons rushed to pay
half-crowns and shillings with a readiness which seemed to rebuke the
record--that the existence of a Mermaid is an exploded fallacy of two
centuries since.

Mermaids have had a legendary existence from very early ages, for the
Sirens of the ancients evidently belonged to the same remarkable family.
Shakspeare uses the term Mermaid as synonymous with Siren:--

    "O train me not, sweet Mermaid, with thy note,
    To drown me in thy sister's flood of tears;
    Sing, Syren, for thyself."--_Comedy of Errors_, iii. 2.

Elsewhere, Shakspeare's use of the term is more applicable to the Siren
than to the common idea of a Mermaid; as in the "Midsummer Night's
Dream," where the "Mermaid on a dolphin's back" could not easily have
been so placed. A Merman, the male of this imaginary species, is
mentioned by Taylor, the water-poet:--

    "A thing turmoyling in the sea we spide,
        Like to a Meareman."

An old writer has this ingenious illustration:--"Mermaids, in Homer,
were witches, and their songs enchantments;" which reminds us of the
invitation in Haydn's Mermaid's Song:--

    "Come with me, and we will go
    Where the rocks of coral grow."

The orthodox Mermaid is half woman, half fish; and the fishy half is
sometimes depicted as doubly tailed, such as we see in the heraldry of
France and Germany; and in the Basle edition of Ptolemy's "Geography,"
dated 1540, a double-tailed Mermaid figures in one of the plates. In the
arms of the Fishmongers' Company of London, the supporters are "a Merman
and maid, first, armed, the latter with a mirror in the left hand,
proper." From this heraldic employment, the Mermaid became a popular
tavern sign; and there was an old dance called the Mermaid.

Sir Thomas Browne refers to the _picture_ of Mermaids, though he does
not admit their existence. They "are conceived to answer the shape of
the ancient Sirens that attempted upon Ulysses; which, notwithstanding,
were of another description, containing no fishy composure, but made up
of man and bird." Sir Thomas is inclined to refer the Mermaid to Dagon,
the tutelary deity of the Philistines, which, according to the common
opinion, had a human female bust and a fish-like termination; though the
details of this fish idolatry are entirely conjectural.

Leyden, the Scottish poet, has left a charming ballad, entitled "The
Mermaid," the scene of which is laid at Corrievreckin: the opening of
this poem Sir Walter Scott praised as exhibiting a power of numbers
which, for mere melody of sound, has seldom been excelled in English

    "On Jura's heath how sweetly swell
      The murmurs of the mountain bee!
    How softly mourns the writhèd shell
      Of Jura's shore its parent sea!

    "But softer floating, o'er the deep,
      The Mermaid's sweet sea-soothing lay,
    That charmed the dancing waves to sleep
      Before the bark of Colonsay."

The ballad thus describes the wooing of the gallant chieftain:--

    "Proud swells her heart! she deems at last
      To lure him with her silver tongue,
    And, as the shelving rocks she passed,
      She raised her voice, and sweetly sung.

    "In softer, sweeter strains she sung,
      Slow gliding o'er the moonlight bay,
    When light to land the chieftain sprung,
      To hail the maid of Colonsay.

    "O sad the Mermaid's gay notes fell,
      And sadly sink remote at sea!
    O sadly mourns the writhèd shell
      Of Jura's shore, its parent sea

    "And ever as the year returns,
      The charm-bound sailors know the day;
    For sadly still the Mermaid mourns
      The lovely chief of Colonsay."

Curious evidences of the existence of Mermaids are to be found in
ancient authors. Pliny says that "the ambassadors to Augustine from Gaul
declared that sea-women were often seen in their neighbourhood." Solinus
and Aulus Gellius also speak of their existence. Some stories are,
however, past credence. It is related in the "Histoire d'Angleterre"
that, in the year 1187, a Merman was "fished up" off the coast of
Suffolk, and kept for six months. It was like a man, but wanted speech,
and at length escaped into the sea! In 1430, in the great tempests which
destroyed the dykes in Holland, some women at Edam, in West Friesland,
saw a Mermaid who had been driven by the waters into the meadows, which
were overflowed. "They took it, dressed it in female attire, and taught
it to spin!" It was taken to Haarlem, where it lived some years! Then we
read of Ceylonese fishermen, in 1560, catching, at one draught, seven
Mermen and Mermaids, which were dissected! In 1531, a Mermaid, caught in
the Baltic, was sent to Sigismund, King of Poland, with whom she lived
three days, and was seen by the whole court!

In Merollo's "Voyage to Congo," in 1682, Mermaids are said to be
plentiful all along the river Zaire. In the "Aberdeen Almanack" for
1688, it is predicted that "near the place where the famous Dee
payeth his tribute to the German Ocean," on the 1st, 13th, and 29th
of May, and other specified times, curious observers may "undoubtedly
see a pretty company of Mar Maids," and likewise hear their melodious
voices. In another part of Scotland, about the same time, Brand, in his
"Description of Orkney and Shetland," tells us that two fishermen drew
up with a hook a Mermaid, "having face, arm, breast, shoulders, &c., of
a woman, and long hair hanging down the neck, but the nether part, from
below the waist, hidden in the water." One of the fishermen stabbed her
with a knife, and she was seen no more! The evidence went thus:--Brand
was told by a lady and gentleman, who were told by a baillie to whom the
fishing-boat belonged, who was told by the fishers! Valentyn describes a
Mermaid he saw in 1714, on his voyage from Batavia to Europe, "sitting
on the surface of the water," &c. In 1758, a Mermaid is said to have
been exhibited at the fair of St. Germain, in France. It was about two
feet long, and sported about in a vessel of water. It was fed with bread
and fish. It was a female, with negro features.

In 1775 appeared a very circumstantial account of a Mermaid which was
captured in the Grecian Archipelago in the preceding year, and exhibited
in London. The account is ludicrously minute, and it ends with: "It is
said to have an enchanting voice, which it never exerts except before
a storm." This imposture was craftily made up out of the skin of the
angle shark. In Mr. Morgan's "Tour to Milford Haven in the year 1795,"
appears an equally circumstantial account of a Mermaid, said to have
been seen by one Henry Reynolds, a farmer, of Ren-y-hold, in the parish
of Castlemartin, in 1782. It resembled a youth of sixteen or eighteen
years of age, with a very white skin: it was bathing. The evidence
is very roundabout, so that there were abundant means for converting
some peculiar kind of fish into a Merman, without imputing intentional
dishonesty to any one. "Something akin to this kind of evidence is
observable in the account of a Mermaid seen in Caithness in 1809, which
attracted much attention in England as well as in Scotland, and induced
the Philosophical Society of Glasgow to investigate the matter. The
Editor of a newspaper, who inserted the statement, had been told by a
gentleman, who had been shown a letter by Sir John Sinclair, who had
obtained it from Mr. Innes, to whom it had been written by Miss Mackay,
who had heard the story from the persons (two servant girls and a boy)
who had seen the strange animal in the water." (Chambers's "Book of

Then we read of a so-called Mermaid, shown in the year 1794 at No. 7,
Broad-court, Bow-street. Covent-garden, said to have been taken in the
North Seas by Captain Foster. It was of the usual description.

Much evidence comes from Scotland. Thus, in the year 1797, a
schoolmaster of Thurso affirmed that he had seen a Mermaid, apparently
in the act of combing her hair with her fingers! Twelve years
afterwards, several persons observed near the same place a like
appearance. Dr. Chisholm, in his "Essay on Malignant Fever in the West
Indies," in 1801, relates that, in the year 1797, happening to be at
Governor Van Battenburg's plantation, in Berbice, "the conversation
turned on a singular animal which had been repeatedly seen in Berbice
river, and some smaller rivers. This animal is the famous Mermaid,
hitherto considered as a mere creature of the imagination. It is called
by the Indians _méné_, mamma, or mother of the waters. The description
given of it by the Governor is as follows:--'The upper portion
resembles the human figure, the head smaller in proportion, sometimes
bare, but oftener covered with a copious quantity of long black hair.
The shoulders are broad, and the breasts large and well-formed. The
lower portion resembles the tail of a fish, is of great dimensions,
the tail forked, and not unlike that of the dolphin, as it is usually
represented. The colour of the skin is either black or tawny.' The
animal is held in veneration by the Indians, who imagine that killing
it would be attended with calamitous consequences. It is from this
circumstance that none of these animals have been shot, and consequently
examined but at a distance. They have been generally observed in a
sitting posture in the water, none of the lower extremity being seen
until they are disturbed, when, by plunging, the tail agitates the water
to a considerable distance round. They have been always seen employed in
smoothing their hair, and have thus been frequently taken for Indian
women bathing." In 1811, a young man, named John M'Isaac, of Corphine,
in Kintyre, in Scotland, made oath, on examination at Campbell-town,
that he saw, on the 13th of October in the above year, on a rock on the
sea-coast, an animal which generally corresponded with the form of the
Mermaid--the upper half human shape, the other brindled or reddish grey,
apparently covered with scales; the extremity of the tail greenish red;
head covered with long hair, at times put back on both sides of the
head. This statement was attested by the minister of Campbell-town and
the Chamberlain of Mull.

In August, 1812, Mr. Toupin, of Exmouth, in a sailing excursion, and
when about a mile south-east of Exmouth Bar, heard a sound like that
of the Æolian harp; and saw, at about one hundred yards distance, a
creature, which was regarded as a Mermaid. The head, from the crown to
the chin, formed a long oval, and the face seemed to resemble that of
the seal, though with more agreeable features. The presumed hair, the
arms, and the hand, with four fingers connected by a membrane, are then
described, and the tail with polished scales. The entire height of the
animal was from five feet to five and a-half feet. In 1819, a creature
approached the coast of Ireland. It was about the size of a child ten
years of age, with prominent bosom, long dark hair, and dark eyes. It
was shot at, when it plunged into the sea with a loud scream.

[Illustration: SEAL AND MERMAID.]

In reviewing these stories of Mermaids, it may be remarked that there
is always a fish in each tale--either a living fish of a peculiar
kind, which a fanciful person thinks to bear some resemblance in the
upper part to a human being, or a fish which becomes marvellous in the
progress of its description from mouth to mouth. It is commonly thought
the seals may often have been mistaken for Mermaids. But, of all the
animals of the whale tribe that which approaches the nearest in form to
man is, undoubtedly, the Dugong, which, when its head and breast are
raised above the water, and its pectoral fins, resembling hands, are
visible, might easily be taken by superstitious seamen for a semi-human
being, or a Mermaid. Of this deception a remarkable instance occurred
in 1826. The skeleton of a Mermaid, as it was called, was brought
to Portsmouth, which had been shot in the vicinity of the Island of
Mombass. This was submitted to the members of the Philosophical Society,
when it proved to be the skeleton of a Dugong. To those who came to
the examination with preconceived notions of a fabulous Mermaid, it
presented, as it lay on the lecture-table, a singular appearance. It
was about six feet long; the lower portion, with its broad tail-like
extremity, suggested the idea of a powerful fish-like termination,
whilst the fore-legs presented to the unskilful eye a resemblance to the
bones of a small female arm; the cranium, however, had a brutal form,
which could never have borne the lineaments of "the human face divine."

The Mermaid has been traced to the Manatee as well as to the Dugong: the
former is an aquatic animal, externally resembling a whale, and named
from its flipper, resembling the human hand, _manus_. Again, the _mammæ_
(teats) of the Manatees and Dugongs are pectoral; and this conformation,
joined to the adroit use of their flippers (whose five fingers can
easily be distinguished through the inverting membranes, four of them
being terminated by nails) in progression, nursing their young, &c.,
have caused them, when seen at a distance with the anterior part of
their body out of the water, to be taken for some creature approaching
to human shape so nearly (especially as their middle is thick set with
hair, giving somewhat of the effect of human hair or a beard), that
there can be little doubt that not a few of the tales of Mermen and
Mermaids have had their origin with these animals as well as with seals
and walruses. Thus the Portuguese and Spaniards give the _Manatee_ a
denomination which signifies Woman-fish; and the Dutch call the Dugong
_Baardanetjee_, or Little-bearded Man. A very little imagination and
a memory for only the marvellous portion of the appearance sufficed,
doubtless, to complete the metamorphosis of this half woman or man, half
fish, into a Siren, a Mermaid, or a Merman; and the wild recital of the
voyager was treasured up by writers who, as Cuvier well observes, have
displayed more learning than judgment.

The comb and the toilet-glass have already been incidentally mentioned
as accessories in these Mermaid stories; and these, with the
origin of the creature. Sir George Head thus ingeniously attempts
to explain:--"The resemblance of the seal, or sea-calf, to the calf
consists only in the voice, and the voice of the calf is certainly not
dissimilar to that of a man. But the claws of the seal, as well as the
hand, are like a lady's back-hair comb; wherefore, altogether, supposing
the resplendence of sea-water streaming down its polished neck, on a
sunshiny day, the substitute for a looking-glass, we arrive at once at
the fabulous history of the marine maiden or Mermaid, and the appendages
of her toilet."

The progress of zoological science has long since destroyed the belief
in the existence of the Mermaid. If its upper structure be human, with
lungs resembling our own, how could such a creature live and breathe at
the bottom of the sea, where it is stated to be? for our most expert
divers are unable to stay under water more than half an hour. Suppose it
to be of the cetaceous class, it could only remain under the water two
or three minutes together without rising to the surface to take breath;
and if this were the case with the Mermaid, would it not be oftener seen?

Half a century has scarcely elapsed since a _manufactured_ Mermaid was
shown in London with all the confidence of its being a natural creature.
In the winter of 1822 there was exhibited at the Egyptian Hall, in
Piccadilly, this pretended Mermaid, which was visited by from 300 to
400 persons daily! The imposture, however, was too gross to last long;
and it was ascertained to be the dried skin of the head and shoulders
of a monkey attached very neatly to the dried skin of a fish of the
salmon kind with the head cut off; the compound figure being stuffed
and highly varnished, the better to deceive the eye. This grotesque
object was taken by a Dutch vessel from on board a native Malacca boat;
and from the reverence shown to it by the sailors it is supposed to
have represented the incarnation of one of the idol gods of the Malacca
Islands. A correspondent of the "Magazine of Natural History," 1829,
however, avers that the above "Mermaid" was brought from the East
Indies; for being at St. Helena in 1813 he saw it on board the ship
which was bringing it to England. The impression on his mind was that
it was an artificial compound of the upper part of a small ape with the
lower half of a fish; and by aid of a powerful glass he ascertained the
point of union between the two parts. He was somewhat staggered to find
that this was so neatly effected that the precise line of junction was
not satisfactorily apparent: the creature was then in its best state of

In a volume of "Manners and Customs of the Japanese," published in
1841, we, however, find the following version of the history of the
above Mermaid:--"A Japanese fisherman seems to have displayed ingenuity
for the mere purpose of making money by his countrymen's passion for
everything odd and strange. He contrived to unite the upper half of
a monkey to the lower half of a fish so neatly as to defy ordinary
inspection. He then gave out that he had caught the creature in his
net, but that it had died shortly after being taken out of the water;
and he derived considerable pecuniary profit from his cunning in more
ways than one. The exhibition of the sea monster to Japanese curiosity
paid well; yet more productive was the assertion that the half-human
fish, having spoken during the five minutes it existed out of its native
element, had predicted a certain number of years of wonderful fertility
and a fatal epidemic, the only remedy for which would be the possession
of the marine prophet's likeness! The sale of these _pictured Mermaids_
was immense. Either the composite animal, or another, the offspring of
the success of the first, was sold to the Dutch factory and transmitted
to Batavia, where it fell into the hands of a speculating American,
who brought it to Europe; and here, in the year 1822-3, exhibited his
purchase as a real Mermaid to the admiration of the ignorant, the
perplexity of the learned, and the filling of his own purse."

The Editor of the "Literary Gazette," Mr. Jerdan, was the first
to expose the fabulous creature of the Egyptian Hall. He plainly
said:--"Our opinion is fixed that it is a _composition_; a most
ingenious one, we grant, but still nothing beyond the admirably
put-together members of various animals. The extraordinary skill of
the Chinese and Japanese in executing such deceptions is notorious,
and we have no doubt that the Mermaid is a manufacture from the Indian
Sea, where it has been pretended it was caught. We are not of those who
because they happen not to have had direct proof of the existence of
any extraordinary natural phenomenon, push scepticism to the extreme
and deny its possibility. The depths of the sea, in all probability,
from various chemical and philosophical causes, contain animals unknown
to its surface-waters, rarely if ever seen by human eye. But when a
creature is presented to us having no other organization but that which
is suitable to a medium always open to our observation, it in the first
instance excites suspicion that only one individual of the species
should be discovered and obtained. When knowledge was more limited, the
stories of Mermaids seen in distant quarters might be credited by the
many, and not entirely disbelieved by the few; but now, when European
and especially British commerce fills every corner of the earth with men
of observation and science, the unique becomes the incredible, and we
receive with far greater doubt the apparition of such anomalies as the
present. It is curious that though medical men seem in general to regard
the creature as a possible production of nature, no naturalist of any
ability credits it after five minutes' observation! This may, perhaps,
be accounted for by their acquaintance with the parts of distinct
animals, of which it appears the Mermaid is composed. The cheeks of the
blue-faced ape, the canine teeth, the _simia_ upper body, and the tail
of the fish, are all familiar to them in less complex combinations,
and they pronounce at once that the whole is an imposture. And such
is our settled conviction." Though naturalists and journalists fully
exposed the imposture, this did not affect the exhibition, which for a
considerable time continued as crowded as ever; but the notoriety had
dwindled down to "a penny show," at Bartholomew Fair, by the year 1825.

After so many exposures of the absurd belief in Mermaids, it could
scarcely be expected that any person could be found in Europe weak
enough to report the existence of one of these creatures to an eminent
scientific Society. Yet, on the 22d of June, 1840, the first Secretary
of the Ottoman Embassy at Paris addressed a note to the Academy of
Sciences, stating that his father, who was in the Admiralty department
at Constantinople, had recently seen a Mermaid while crossing the
Bosphorus, which communication was received with much laughter.

We have still another recorded instance--and in Scotland. In the year
1857 two fishermen on the Argyleshire coast declared that when on their
way to the fishing-station, Lochindale, in a boat, and when about four
miles south-west from the village of Port Charlotte, about six o'clock
in a June evening, they distinctly saw, at about six yards distance, an
object in the form of a woman, with comely face and fine hair hanging
in ringlets over the neck and shoulders. It was above the surface of
the water gazing at the fishermen for three or four minutes--and then
vanished! Yet this declaration was officially attested!

In 1863 Mermaids were supposed to abound in the ponds and ditches of
Suffolk, where careful mothers used them as bugbears to prevent little
children from going too near the water. Children described them as
"nasty things that crome you (hook you) into the water;" others as "a
great big thing like a feesh," probably a pike basking in the shallow

Sometimes the Mermaid has assumed a picturesqueness in fairy tale; and
her impersonation has been described by Dryden as "a fine woman, with a
fish's tail." And, laying aside her scaly train, she has appeared as a
lovely woman, with sea-green hair; and Crofton Croker relates, in his
"Fairy Legends," a marriage between an Irish fisherman and a "Merrow,"
as the Mermaid is called in Ireland.


To this question we may reply, in the words of a writer of 1633,
"Concerning the Unicorn, different opinions prevail among authors:
some doubt, others deny, and a third class affirm its existence." The
question has lasted two thousand years, and is every now and then kept
alive by fresh evidences.

Ctesias, a credulous Greek physician, who appears to have resided at
the Court of Persia, in the time of the younger Cyrus, about 400 years
before the birth of Christ, describes the wild asses of India as equal
to the horse in size, and even larger, with white bodies, red heads,
bluish eyes, and a horn on the forehead a cubit in length; the part
from the forehead entirely white, the middle black, and the extremity
red and pointed. Drinking-vessels were made of it, and those who used
them were subject neither to convulsions, epilepsy, nor poison, provided
that before taking the poison, or after, they drank from these cups
water, wine, or any other liquor. Ctesias describes these animals as
very swift and very strong. Naturally they were not ferocious; but when
they found themselves and their young surrounded by horsemen, they did
not abandon their offspring, but defended themselves by striking with
their horns, kicking, and biting, and so slew many men and horses. This
animal was also shot with arrows and brought down with darts; for it was
impossible to take it alive. Its flesh was too bitter for food, but it
was hunted for its horn and astragalus (ankle-bone), which last Ctesias
declares he saw. Aristotle describes the Indian ass with a single horn.
Herodotus mentions asses having horns; and Strabo refers to Unicorn
horses, with the heads of deers. Oppian notices the Aonian bulls with
undivided hoofs, and a single median horn between their temples. Pliny
notices it as a very ferocious beast, similar in its body to a horse,
with the head of a deer, the feet of an elephant, the tail of a boar,
a deep bellowing voice, and a single black horn standing out in the
middle of its forehead. He adds, that it cannot be taken alive; and some
such excuse may have been necessary in those days for not producing the
living animal upon the arena of the amphitheatre.

Out of this passage most of the modern Unicorns have been described
and figured. The body of the horse and the head of the deer appear to
be but vague sketches; the feet of the elephant and the tail of the
boar point at once to a pachydermatous (thick-skinned) animal; and the
single black horn, allowing for a little exaggeration as to its length,
well fits the two last-mentioned conditions, and will apply to the
Indian rhinoceros, which, says the sound naturalist, Ogilby, "affords a
remarkable instance of the obstructions which the progress of knowledge
may suffer, and the gross absurdities which not unfrequently result from
the wrong application of a name." Mr. Ogilby then refers to the account
of Ctesias, which we have just quoted, and adds:--"His account, though
mixed up with a great deal of credulous absurdity, contains a very
valuable and perfectly recognisable description of the rhinoceros, under
the ridiculous name, however, of the _Indian Ass_; and, as he attributed
to it a whole hoof like the horse, and a single horn in the forehead,
speculation required but one step further to produce the fabulous

The ancient writers who have treated of the Unicorn are too numerous for
us to specify. Some of the moderns may be referred to. Garcias describes
this marvellous creature from one who alleges that he had seen it. The
seer affirmed that it was endowed with a wonderful horn, which it would
sometimes turn to the left and right, at others raise, and then again
depress. Ludovicus Vartomanus writes, that he saw two sent to the Sultan
from Ethiopia, and kept in a repository at Mahomet's tomb in Mecca.
Cardan describes the Unicorn as a rare animal, the size of a horse, with
hair very like that of a weasel, with the head of a deer, on which one
horn grows three cubits in length (a story seldom loses anything in its
progress) from the forehead, ample at its lowest part, and tapering to
a point; with a short neck, a very thin mane, leaning to one side only,
and less on the ear, as those of a young roe.

In Jonston's "Historia Naturalis," 1657, we see the smooth-horned
solipede, "Wald Esel;" and the digitated and clawed smooth-horned "Meer
Wolff," the latter with his single horn erect in the foreground, but
with it depressed in the background, where he is represented regaling on
serpents. Then there are varieties, with the head, mane, and tail of a
horse; another smooth-horned, with a horse's head and mane, a pig's-tail
and camel-like feet; the "Meer Stenbock, Capricornus Marinus," with
hind webbed feet, and a kind of graduated horn, like an opera-glass
pulled out, in the foreground, and charging the fish most valiantly in
the water in the distance. Then there is another, with a mule's head
and two rhinoceros-like horns, one on his forehead and the other on his
nose; and a horse's tail, with a collar round his neck; a neck entirely
shaggy--and a twisted horn, a shaggy gorget, and curly tail, are among
other peculiarities.

The Unicorn seems to have been a sad trouble to the hunters, who hardly
knew how to come at so valuable a piece of game. Some described the horn
as moveable at the will of the animal--a kind of small sword, in short,
with which no hunter who was not exceedingly cunning in fence could have
a chance. Others told the poor foresters that all the strength lay in
its horn, and that when pressed by them it would throw itself from the
pinnacle of the highest rock, horn foremost, so as to pitch upon it, and
then quietly march off not a bit the worse!

Modern zoologists, disgusted as they well may be with fables, such as we
have glanced at, disbelieve, generally, the existence of the Unicorn,
such, at least, as we have referred to; but there is still an opinion
that some land animal bearing a horn on the anterior part of its head,
exists besides the rhinoceros. The nearest approach to a horn in the
middle of the forehead of any terrestrial mammiferous animal known to us
is the bony protuberance on the forehead of the giraffe; and though it
would be presumptuous to deny the existence of a one-horned quadruped
other than the rhinoceros, it may be safely stated that the insertion
of a long and solid horn in the living forehead of a horse-like or
deer-like cranium is as near an impossibility as anything can be.

Rupell, after a long sojourn in the north-east of Africa, stated that
in Kordofan the Unicorn exists; stated to be the size of a small horse,
of the slender make of the gazelle, and furnished with a long straight
horn in the male, which was wanting in the female. According to the
statements made by various persons, it inhabits the deserts to the south
of Koretofan, is uncommonly fleet, and comes only occasionally to the
Koldagi Heive mountains on the borders of Kordofan.

Other writers refer the Unicorn to the antelope. The origin of the name
of antelope is traced by Cuvier to the Greek _Anthalops_, applied to a
fabulous animal living on the banks of the Euphrates, with long jagged
horns, with which it sawed down trees of considerable thickness! Others
conjecture this animal to have been the _Oryx_, a species of antelope,
which is fabulously reported to have had only one horn, and to have been
termed _Panthalops_ in the old language of Egypt.

In his "Revolutions on the Surface of the Globe." Cuvier refers the
idea of the Unicorn to the coarse figures traced by savages on rocks.
Ignorant of perspective, and wishing to present in profile the horned
antelope, they could only give it one horn; and thus originated the
_Oryx_. The oryx of the Egyptian monuments is, most probably, but the
production of a similarly crude style, which the religion of the country
imposed on the artist. Many of the profiles of quadrupeds have only one
leg before and one behind: why, then, should they show two horns? It
is possible that individual animals might be taken in the chase whom
accident had despoiled of one horn, as it often happens to chamois and
the Scythian antelope; and that would suffice to confirm the error which
these pictures originally produced. It is thus, probably, that we find
anew the Unicorn in the mountains of Thibet.

The _Chiru Antelope_ is the supposed Unicorn of the Bhotians. In form
it approaches the deer; the horns are exceedingly long, are placed
very forward in the head, and may be popularly described as erect and
straight. It is usually found in herds, and is extremely wild, and
unapproachable by man. It is much addicted to salt in summer, when vast
herds are often seen at the rock-salt beds which abound in Tibet. They
are said to advance under the conduct of a leader, and to post sentinels
around the beds before they attempt to feed.

Major Salter is stated to have obtained information of the existence of
an animal in Tibet closely resembling the Unicorn of the ancients, which
revived the belief of naturalists by adducing testimonies from Oriental
writings. Upon this statement, M. Klaproth remarks, that previous to
Major Salter's Reports, the Catholic missionaries, who returned to
Europe from China by way of Tibet and Nepal, in the seventeenth century,
mentioned that the Unicorn was found in that part of the Great Desert
which bounds China to the west, where they crossed the great wall; that
Captain Turner, when travelling in Tibet, was informed by the Raja of
Boutan that he had one of these animals alive; and that Bell, in his
"Travels to Peking," describes a Unicorn which was found on the southern
front of Siberia. He adds:--"The great 'Tibetan-Mongol Dictionary'
mentions the Unicorn; and the 'Geographical Dictionary of Tibet and
Central Asia,' printed at Peking, where it describes a district in the
province of Kham, in Tibet, named Sera-zeong, explains this name by 'the
River of Unicorns,' because," adds the author, "many of these animals
are found there."

In the "History of the Mongol-Khans," published and translated at St.
Petersburg, we find the following statement:--Genghiz Khan, having
subjected all Tibet in 1206, commenced his march for Hindustan. As he
ascended Mount Jadanarung, he beheld a beast approaching him of the
deer kind, of the species called _Seron_, which have a single horn at
the top of the head. It fell on its knees thrice before the monarch, as
if to pay respect to him. Every one was astonished at this incident.
The monarch exclaimed. "The Empire of Hindustan is, we are assured, the
country where are born the majestic Buddhas and Bodhisatwas, as well as
the potent Bogdas and princes of antiquity: what can be the meaning,
then, of this animal, incapable of speech, saluting me like a man?"
Upon this, he returned to his own country. "This story," continues M.
Klaproth, "is also related by Mahommedan authors who have written the
life of Genghiz. Something of the kind must, therefore, have taken
place. Possibly, some of the Mongol conqueror's suite may have taken a
Unicorn, which Genghiz thus employed, to gain a pretext for abstaining
from an expedition which promised no success."

Upon this statement, it was observed in the "Asiatic Register," 1839,
that "when we consider that seventeen years have elapsed since the
account of Major Salter was given, and that, notwithstanding our
increased opportunities of intercourse with Tibet, no fact has since
transpired which supplies a confirmation of that account, except
the obtaining of a supposed horn of the supposed Unicorn, we cannot
participate in these renewed hopes."

The Rev. John Campbell, in his "Travels in South Africa," describes the
head of another animal, which, as far as the horn is concerned, seems
to approach nearer than the common rhinoceros to the Unicorn of the
ancients. While in the Machow territory, the Hottentots brought to Mr.
Campbell a head differing from that of any rhinoceros that had been
previously killed. "The common African rhinoceros has a crooked horn,
resembling a cock's spur, which rises about nine or ten inches above
the nose, and inclines backward; immediately behind which is a straight
thick horn. But the head brought by the Hottentots had a straight horn
projecting three feet from the forehead, about ten inches above the tip
of the nose. The projection of this great horn very much resembles that
of the fanciful Unicorn in the British arms. It has a small thick horny
substance, eight inches long, immediately behind it, which can hardly
be observed on the animal at the distance of a hundred yards; so that
this species must look like an Unicorn (in the sense 'one-horned') when
running in the field." The author adds:--"This animal is considered
by naturalists, since the arrival of the above skull in London, to be
the Unicorn of the ancients, and the same that is described in Job
xxxix. 9--'Will the Unicorn be willing to serve thee, or abide by thy
crib? 10. Canst thou bind the Unicorn with his band in the furrow? or
will he harrow the valleys after thee? 11. Wilt thou trust him because
his strength is great? or wilt thou leave thy labour to him?' Again,
Deuteronomy xxxiii. 17--'His horns are like the horns of Unicorns: with
them he shall push the people together to the ends of the earth.'"

A fragment of the skull, with the horn, is deposited in the Museum of
the London Missionary Society.

Mr. W. B. Baikie writes to the _Athenæum_ from Bida Núpe, Central
Africa, in 1862, the following suggestions:--"When I ascended the Niger,
now nearly five years ago, I frequently heard allusions to an animal
of this nature, but at that time I set it down as a myth. Since then,
however, the amount of testimony I have received, and the universal
belief of the natives of all the countries which I have hitherto
visited, have partly shaken my scepticism, and at present I simply
hold that its non-existence is not proven. A skull of this animal is
said to be preserved in a town in the country of Bonú, through which
I hope to pass in the course of a few weeks, when I shall make every
possible inquiry. Two among my informants have repeatedly declared to me
that they have seen the bones of this animal, and each made particular
mention of the long, straight, or nearly straight, black horn. In
countries to the east, and south-east, as Márgi and Bagirmi, where the
one-horned rhinoceros is found, the hunters carefully distinguished
between it and the supposed Unicorn, and give them different names. In
the vast forests and boundless wastes which occur over Central Africa,
especially towards the countries south and east of Lake Tsád, Bórnú,
Bagirmi and Adamáwa, are doubtless numerous zoological curiosities as
yet unknown to the man of science, and among them possibly may exist
this much-talked-of, strange, one-horned animal, even though it may not
exactly correspond with our typical English Unicorn."

The factitious horn has been preserved in various Museums. The "Monocero
Horn," in Tradescant's collection, was, probably, that which ordinarily
has passed for the horn of the Unicorn, namely, the tooth of a narwhal.
Old legends assert that the Unicorn, when he goes to drink, first dips
his horn in the water to purify it, and that other beasts delay to
quench their thirst till the Unicorn has thus sweetened the water. The
narwhal's tooth makes a capital twisted Unicorn's horn, as represented
in the old figures. That in the Repository of St. Denis, at Paris, was
presented by Thevet, and was declared to have been given to him by
the King of Monomotapa, who took him out to hunt Unicorns, which are
frequent in that country. Some have thought that this horn was a carved
elephant's tooth. There is one at Strasburg, some seven or eight feet in
length, and there are several in Venice.

Great medical virtues were attributed to the so-called horn, and the
price it once bore outdoes everything in the _Tulipomania_. A Florentine
physician has recorded that a pound of it (sixteen ounces) was sold
in the shops for fifteen hundred and thirty-six crowns, when the same
weight in gold would only have brought one hundred and forty-eight

From what source we derive the stories of the animosity between the
lion and the Unicorn is not clearly understood, although this is the
principal medium through which the fabulous creature has been kept in
remembrance by being constantly before us in the Royal Arms, which
were settled at the Accession of George I. We owe the introduction of
the Unicorn, however, to James I., who, as King of Scotland, bore two
Unicorns, and coupled one with the English lion, when the two kingdoms
were united.

The position of the lion and Unicorn in the arms of our country seems to
have given rise (naturally enough in the mind of one who was ignorant of
heraldic decoration) to a nursery rhyme which most of us remember:--

    "The Lion and the Unicorn
      Were fighting for the crown;
    The Lion beat the Unicorn
      All round the town," &c.

unless it alludes to a contest for dominion over the brute creation,
which the "rebellious Unicorn," as Spenser calls it, seems to have waged
with the tawny monarch.

Spenser, in his "Faerie Queen," gives the following curious way of
catching the Unicorn:--

    "Like as a lyon, whose imperiall powre,
    A prowd rebellious Unicorn defyes,
    T'avoide the rash assault and wrathful stowre
    Of his fiers foe, him a tree applyes,
    And when him rousing in full course he spyes,

    He slips aside; the whiles that furious beast
    His precious home, sought of his enemyes,
    Strikes in the stocke, ne thence can be releast.
    But to the mighty victor yields a bounteous feast."

Shakspeare, also ("Julius Cæsar," Act ii. scene 1), speaks of the
supposed mode of entrapping them:--

                    "For he loves to hear
    That Unicorns may be betrayed with trees,
    And bears with glasses, elephants with holes,
    Lions with toils, and men with flatterers."

We have no satisfactory reason for believing that man ever coexisted
with Mastodons; otherwise Professor Owen's discovery of the retention of
a single tusk only by the male gigantic Mastodon, might have afforded
another form of Unicorn.

Whatever the zoologists may have done towards extirpating the belief
in the existence of the Unicorn, it is ever kept in sight by heraldry,
which, with its animal absurdities, has contributed more to the
propagation of error respecting the natural world than any other species
of misrepresentation.


The Mole, though generally a despised and persecuted animal, is
nevertheless useful to the husbandman in being the natural drainer of
his land and destroyer of worms. To other inferior animals he is a
sapper and miner, forming for them their safe retreats and well-secured

The economy of the Mole has been much controverted among naturalists.
It is found throughout the greater part of Europe. We are overrun with
it in most parts of England and Wales; but it does not appear to have
been found in the northern extremity of Scotland, and there is no record
of its having been seen in the Orkney Isles, Zetland, or Ireland. Its
most diligent and instructive historian is Henri Le Court, who, flying
from the terrors that came in the train of the French Revolution,
betook himself to the country, and from being the attendant on a Court,
became the biographer of this humble animal. M. Geoffroy St. Hilaire,
the celebrated French naturalist, visited Le Court for the purpose
of testing his observations, and appears to have been charmed by the
facility and ingenuity with which Le Court traced and demonstrated the
subterraneous labours of this obscure worker in the dark.

We shall first briefly describe the adaptation of its structure to its
habits. The bony framework is set in motion by very powerful muscles,
those of the chest and neck being most vigorous. The wide hand, which is
the great instrument of action, and performs the offices of a pickaxe
and shovel, is sharp-edged on its lower margin, and when clothed with
the integuments the fingers are hardly distinguishable. The muzzle of
the Mole is evidently a delicate organ of touch, as are also the large
and broad hands and feet; and the tail has much sensitiveness to give
notice to the animal of the approach of any attack from behind. Its
taste and smell, especially the latter, are very sensitive. Its sight
is almost rudimentary. The little eye is so hidden in the fur that its
very existence was for a long time doubted. It appears to be designed
for operating only as a warning to the animal on its emerging into the
light; indeed, more acute vision would only have been an encumbrance.
If the sight be imperfect, the sense of hearing is very acute, and the
tympanum very large, though there is no external ear, perhaps because
the earth assists considerably in vibration. The fore-feet are inclined
sideways, so as to answer the use of hands, to scoop out the earth to
form its habitation or pursue its prey, and to fling all the loose soil
behind the animal. The breastbone in shape resembles a ploughshare.
The skin is so tough as only to be cut by a very sharp knife. The hair
is very short and close-set, and softer than the finest silk; colour
black; some spotted and cream-coloured. This hair is yielding; had it
been strong, as in the rat or mouse, it would doubly have retarded the
progress of the creature; first by its resistance, and then acting as a
brush, so as to choke up the galleries, by removing the loose earth from
the sides and ceilings of the galleries.

It is supposed that the verdant circles so often seen in grass ground,
called by country people _fairy rings_, are owing to the operations of
Moles: at certain seasons they perform their burrowings in circles,
which, loosening the soil, gives the surface a greater fertility and
rankness of grass than the other parts within or without the ring. The
larger mole-hills denote the nests or dens of the Mole beneath.

The feeling of the Mole is so acute that when casting up the earth, it
is sensible of very gentle pressure; hence mole-catchers tread lightly
when in quest of Moles; and unless this caution is used the Mole ceases
its operation, and instantly retires. Again, so acute is the smell, that
mole-catchers draw the body of a captured Mole through their traps and
the adjoining runs and passages to remove all suspicious odours which
might arise from the touch of their fingers.

During summer the Mole runs in search of snails and worms in the
night-time among the grass, which pursuit makes it the prey of owls. The
Mole shows great art in skinning a worm, which it always does before it
eats it, by stripping the skin from end to end, and squeezing out the
contents of the body. It is doubtful whether any other animal exists
which is obliged to eat at such short intervals as the Mole, ten or
twelve hours appearing to be the maximum of its fasting; at the end
of that time it dies. Cuvier tells us that if two Moles are shut up
together without food, there will shortly be nothing left of the weakest
but its skin, slit along the belly! Buffon accuses Moles of eating all
the acorns of a newly-set soil. Its voracity makes the Mole a great
drinker: a run is always formed to a pond or ditch as a reservoir; when
it is too distant, the animal sinks little wells, which have sometimes
been seen brimfull.

We now return to Le Court's experiments with Moles, which are very
interesting. To afford proof of the rapidity with which the Mole will
travel along its passages, Le Court watched his opportunity, and when
the animal was on its feed at one of the most distant points from its
sanctuary or fortress, to which point the Mole's high road leads. Le
Court placed along the course of that road, between the animal and
the fortress, several little camp colours, so to speak, the staff of
each being a straw, and the flag a bit of paper, at certain distances,
the straws penetrating down into the passage. Near the end of this
subterraneous road he inserted a horn, the mouthpiece of which stood
out of the ground. When all was ready, Le Court blew a blast loud enough
to frighten all the Moles within hearing. Down went the little flags in
succession with astonishing velocity, as the terrified Mole, rushing
along towards his sanctuary, came in contact with the flag-straws; and
the spectators affirmed that the Mole's swiftness was equal to the speed
of a horse at a good round trot.

To test its amount of vision, Le Court took a spare water-pipe, or
gutter, open at both ends. Into this pipe he introduced several Moles
successively. Geoffroy St. Hilaire stood by to watch the result at the
further end of the tube. As long as the spectators stood motionless the
introduced Mole made the best of his way through the pipe and escaped;
but if they moved, or even raised a finger, the Mole stopped, and then
retreated. Several repetitions of this experiment produced the same

In the domain of the Mole, the principal point is the habitation, or
fortress, constructed under a considerable hillock raised in some secure
place, often at the root of a tree, or under a bank. The dome of the
fortress is of earth, beaten by the Mole-architect into a compact and
solid state. Inside is formed a circular gallery at the base, which
communicates with a smaller upper gallery by means of five passages.
Within the lower gallery is the chamber or dormitory, which has access
to the upper gallery by three passages. From this habitation extends
the high road by which the proprietor reaches the opposite end of
the encampment; the galleries open into this road, which the Mole is
continually carrying out and extending in his search for food; this has
been termed the _hunting-ground_. Another road extends, first downwards,
and then up into the open road of the territory. Some eight or nine
other passages open out from the external circular gallery. From the
habitation a road is carried out, nearly straight, and connected with
the encampment and the alleys leading to the hunting-ground which open
into it on each side. In diameter the road exceeds the body of a Mole,
but its size will not admit of two Moles passing each other. The walls,
from the repeated pressure of the animal's sides, become smooth and
compact. Sometimes a Mole will lay out a second or even a third road; or
several individuals use one road in common, though they never trespass
on each other's hunting-grounds.

If two Moles should happen to meet in the same road, one must retreat
into the nearest alley, unless they fight, when the weakest is often
slain. In forming this tunnel the Mole's instinct drives it at a
greater or less depth, according to the quality of the soil, or other
circumstances. When it is carried under a road or stream, a foot and
a-half of earth, or sometimes more, is left above it. Then does the
little engineering Mole carry on the subterraneous works necessary for
his support, travelling, and comfort; and his tunnels never fall in.
The quality or humidity of the soils which regulates the abundance of
earth-worms, determines the greater or less depth of the alleys; and
when these are filled with stores of food the Mole works out branch

The main road communicating with the hunting-grounds is of necessity
passed through in the course of the day; and here the mole-catcher sets
his traps to intercept the Mole between his habitation and the alley
where he is carrying on his labours. Some mole-catchers will tell you
the hours when the Moles move are nine and four; others that near the
coast their movements are influenced by the tides. Besides the various
traps which are set for Moles, they are sometimes taken by a man and a
dog; when the latter indicates the presence of a Mole, the man spears
the animal out as it moves in its run. Pointers will stop as steadily as
at game, at the Moles, when they are straying on the surface.

The Mole is a most voracious animal. Earthworms and the larvæ of insects
are its favourite food; and it will eat mice, lizards, frogs, and even
birds; but it rejects toads, even when pressed by hunger, deterred,
probably, by the acrid secretions of their skin. Moles are essentially
carnivorous; and when fed abundantly on vegetable substances they have
died of hunger.

During the season of love, at which time fierce battles are fought
between the males, the male pursues the female with ardour through
numerous runs wrought out with great rapidity. The attachment appears
to be very strong in the Moles. Le Court often found a female taken in
his trap and a male lying dead close to her. From four to five is the
general number of young. The nest is distinct, usually distant from the
habitation. It is constructed by enlarging and excavating the point
where three or four passages intersect each other; and the bed of the
nest is formed of a mass of young grass, root fibres, and herbage. In
one nest Geoffroy St. Hilaire and Le Court counted two hundred and four
young wheat-blades.

M. St. Hilaire describes the pairings, or as he calls it, "the loves of
the Moles." As soon as the Mole has finished the galleries he brings his
mate along with him, and shuts her up in the bridal gallery, taking care
to prevent the entrance of his rivals: in case of a fight they enlarge
the part of the gallery where they are met; and the victory is decided
in favour of him who first wounds his adversary before the ear. The
female, during the fight, is shut up in the bridal gallery, so as to be
unable to escape; for which purpose, however, she uses all her resources
in digging, and attempts to get away by the side passages. Should she
succeed the conqueror hastens to rejoin his faithless mate, and to
bring her back into his galleries. This manoeuvre is repeated as often
as other males enter the lists. At length the conqueror is recognised,
and his mate becomes more docile. The pair work together and finish the
galleries; after which the female digs alone for food. As soon as the
galleries are formed, the male conducts his mate to a certain point, and
from this time the female no longer digs in the solid earth, but towards
the surface, advancing by merely separating the roots of the grass.

The Mole is a great friend to the farmer; but there are places in which
he is a public enemy. He is not a vegetable feeder, and he never roots
up the growing corn in spring-time, except when he is after grubs,
snails, and wire-worms. It has been calculated that two Moles destroy
20,000 white worms in a year. He is very destructive to under drains;
and where the land is low we are in danger of a deluge from his piercing
holes in the drain-banks. Thus it would be madness not to extirpate
Moles in those places where the waters, in drains or rivers, are above
the level of the lands around, especially when the banks are made of
sand or earth of loose texture.

The persecution of Moles in cultivated countries amounts almost to a
war of extermination. The numbers annually slaughtered are enormous.
A mole-catcher, who had followed the craft for thirty-five years,
destroyed from forty to fifty thousand Moles. But all Mole exterminators
must yield to Le Court, who, in no large district, took, in five months,
six thousand of them. Moles are good swimmers, and their bite is very
sharp; their attacks are ferocious, and they keep their hold like a

The Shrew Mole of North America resembles the European Mole in its
habits. Dr. Goodman describes it as most active early in the morning,
at mid-day, and in the evening; and they are well known in the country
to have the custom of coming daily to the surface _exactly at noon_.
We read of a captive Shrew Mole which ate meat, cooked or raw, drank
freely, and was lively and playful, following the hand of his feeder by
the scent, burrowing for a short distance in the loose earth, and after
making a small circle, returning for more food. In eating he employed
his flexible snout to thrust the food into his mouth, doubling it so as
to force it directly backwards, as described in Dr. Richardson's "North
American Zoology."

James Hogg, the Ettrick Shepherd, remarks, in his usual impressive
manner:--"The most unnatural persecution that ever was raised in a
country is that against the Mole--that innocent and blessed little
pioneer, who enriches our pastures annually with the first top-dressing,
dug with great pains and labour from the fattest of the soil beneath.
The advantages of this top-dressing are so apparent that it is really
amazing how our countrymen should have persisted, for nearly half a
century, in the most manly and valiant endeavours to exterminate the
Moles! If a hundred men and horses were employed on a pasture farm of
from fifteen hundred to two thousand acres, in raising and driving
manure for a top-dressing of that farm, they would not do it so
effectually, so neatly, or so equally as the natural number of Moles. In
June, July, and August, the Mole-hills are all spread by the crows and
lambs--the former for food, and the latter in the evenings of warm days
after a drought has set in. The late Duke of Buccleuch was the first who
introduced Mole-catching into Scotland."


A fine living specimen of this comparatively rare animal was first
exhibited in the Zoological Society's gardens, in the Regent's-park,
1853. It is stated to be the first specimen brought alive to England,
and accordingly excited considerable attention. It was one of a pair,
captured near the Rio Negro, in the southern province of Brazil, and
shipped for England by some German travellers. The male died on the
voyage; the female arrived in London in 1853, and was exhibited in
Broad-street, St. Giles's, until purchased by the Zoological Society for
the sum of 200_l._ The advantage of this live specimen to naturalists
has been very great. Hitherto the examples engraved by Buffon and
Shaw were both derived from stuffed specimens, and had the inevitable
defects and shortcomings of such. Sir John Talbot Dillon, in his
"Travels through Spain," published in 1780, states that a specimen of
the Ant-Bear, from Buenos Ayres, was alive at Madrid in 1776: it is now
stuffed and preserved in the Royal Cabinet of Natural History at Madrid.
The persons who brought it from Buenos Ayres say it differs from the
Ant-eater, which only feeds on emmets and other insects, whereas this
would eat flesh, when cut in small pieces, to the amount of four or five
pounds. From the snout to the extremity of the tail this animal is two
yards in length, and his height is about two feet; the head very narrow,
the nose long and slender. The tongue is so singular that it looks like
a worm, and extends above sixteen inches. The body is covered with long
hair of a dark brown, with white stripes on the shoulders; and when he
sleeps, he covers his body with his tail. This account, it will be seen
hereafter, corresponds very accurately with that of the animal purchased
by the Zoological Society.

[Illustration: THE GREAT ANT-BEAR.]

Mr. Wallace, who travelled on the Amazon and Rio Negro, about the year
1853, relates:--"The living specimen of this singular animal is a great
rarity, even in its native country. In fact, there is not a city in
Brazil where it would not be considered almost as much a curiosity as
it is here. In the extensive forests of the Amazon the great Ant-eater
is, perhaps, as abundant as in any part of South America; yet, during
a residence there of more than four years, I never had an opportunity
of seeing one. Once only I was nearly in at the death, finding a bunch
of hairs from the tail of a specimen which had been killed (and eaten)
a month previous to my arrival, at a village near the Capiquiare. In
its native forests the creature feeds almost entirely on white ants,
tearing open their nests with its powerful claws, and thrusting in its
long and slender tongue, which, being probably mistaken for a worm,
is immediately seized by scores of the inhabitants, who thus become
an easy prey. The Indians, who also eat white ants, catch them in a
somewhat similar manner, by pushing into the nest a grass-stalk, which
the insects seize and hold on to most tenaciously. It may easily be
conceived that such an animal must range over a considerable extent of
country to obtain a plentiful supply of such food, which circumstance,
as well as its extreme shyness and timidity, causes it to be but rarely
met with, and still more rarely obtained alive."

We have seen that the Ant-Bear lives exclusively upon ants, to procure
which he tears open the hills, and when the ants flock out to defend
their dwellings, draws over them his long, flexible tongue, covered
with glutinous saliva, to which the ants consequently adhere; and he
is said to repeat this operation twice in a second. "It seems almost
incredible," says Azara, "that so robust and powerful an animal can
procure sufficient sustenance from ants alone; but this circumstance has
nothing strange in it, for those who are acquainted with the tropical
parts of America, and have seen the enormous multitude of these insects,
which swarm in all parts of the country to that degree that their hills
often almost touch one another for miles together." The same author
informs us that domestic Ant-Bears were occasionally kept by different
persons in Paraguay, and that they had even been sent alive to Spain,
being fed upon bread-and-milk mixed with morsels of flesh minced very
small. Like all animals which live upon insects, the Ant-eaters are
capable of sustaining a total deprivation of nourishment for an almost
incredible time.

The Great Ant-Bear's favourite resorts are low, swampy savannahs, along
the banks of rivers and stagnant ponds; also frequenting humid forests,
but never climbing trees, as falsely reported by Buffon. His pace is
slow and heavy, though, when hard pressed, he increases his rate, yet
his greatest velocity never half equals the ordinary running of a man.
When pressed too hard, or urged to extremity, he turns obstinate,
sits upon his hind-quarters like a bear, and defends himself with his
powerful claws. Like that animal, his usual and only mode of assault is
by seizing his adversary with his fore-paws, wrapping his arms round
him, and endeavouring, by this means, to squeeze him to death. His great
strength and powerful muscles would easily enable him to accomplish his
purpose in this respect, even against the largest animals of his native
forests, were it but guided by ordinary intelligence, or accompanied
with a common degree of activity; but in these qualities there are
few animals indeed who do not greatly surpass the Ant-Bear; so that
the different stories handed down by writers on natural history from
one to another, and copied, without question, into the histories and
descriptions of this animal, may be regarded as pure fictions. "It is
supposed," says Don Felix d'Azara, "that the jaguar himself dares not
attack the Ant-Bear, and that, if pressed by hunger, or under some other
strong excitement, he does so, the Ant-Bear embraces and hugs him so
tightly as very soon to deprive him of life, not even relaxing his hold
for hours after life has been extinguished in his assailant. Such is
the manner in which the Ant-eater defends himself; but it is not to be
believed that his utmost efforts could prevail against the jaguar, who,
by a single bite, or blow of his paw, could kill the Ant-eater before he
was prepared for resistance, so slow are his motions, even in an extreme
case; and, being unable to leap or turn with ordinary rapidity, he is
forced to act solely upon the defensive. The flesh of the Ant-eater is
esteemed a delicacy by the Indians; and, though black, and of a strong
musky flavour, is sometimes even met with at the tables of Europeans."

The habits of the Great Ant-Bear in captivity have been described
scientifically yet popularly, from the Zoological Society's specimen,
by Professor Owen, who writes:--"When we were introduced to this, the
latest novelty at the noble vivarium in the Regent's-park, we found the
animal busy sucking and licking up--for his feeding is a combination
of the two actions--the contents of a basin of squashed eggs. The
singularly long and slender head, which looks more like a slightly bent
proboscis, or some such appendage to a head, was buried in the basin,
and the end of the lithe or flexible tongue, like a rat's tail, or a
writhing black worm, was ever and anon seen coiling up the sides of
the basin, as it was rapidly protruded and withdrawn. The yellow yolk
was dripping with the abundant ropy saliva secreted during the feeding
process from the exceedingly small terminal mouth; for the jaws are not
slit open, as in the ordinary construction of the mouths of quadrupeds,
and the head, viewed sideways, seems devoid of mouth; but this important
aperture--by some deemed the essential character of an animal--is a
small orifice or slit at the end of the tubular muzzle, just being
enough, apparently, to let the vermiform tongue slip easily in and
out. The tongue, the keeper told us, was sometimes protruded as far as
fourteen inches from the mouth."

By the Qjuarani Indians the beast is known by a name which is, in
Spanish, "little mouth." The Portuguese and Spanish peons call it by a
name equivalent to "Ant-Bear." In the Zoological Catalogue the animal
is denominated _Myrmocophaga jubata_, or the "Maned Ant-eater." This
appellation would very well suit the animal if, as most spectators
commonly imagine at first sight, its head was where its tail is,
for the tail is that part of the animal on which the hair is most
developed, after the fashion of a mane; whilst the actual head appears
much more like a tail, of a slender, almost naked, stiff, rounded
kind. The body is wholly covered by long, coarse hair, resembling hay,
rapidly lengthening from the neck backwards to six or eight inches,
and extending on the tail from ten to eighteen inches. The colour is
greyish brown, with an oblique black band, bordered with white, on
each shoulder. The animal measures about four feet from the snout
to the root of the tail; and the tail, three feet long, resembles a
large screen of coarse hair. When the animal lies down, it bends its
head between its fore legs, slides these forward, and crosses them in
front of the occiput, sinks its haunches by bending its hind legs and
bringing them close to the fore feet; then, leaning against the wall
of its den, on one side, it lays the broad tail over the other exposed
side of the body, by the side bend of that part, like the movement of
a door or screen. Nothing is now visible of the animal but the long
coarse hair of its _natural and portable blanket_. When it is enjoying
its siesta, you cannot form any conception of its very peculiar shape
and proportions; an oblong heap of a coarse, dry, _greyish thatch_ is
all that is visible. When, however, the keeper enters the den with any
new dainty, as cockroaches, crickets, maggots, or meal-worms, to tempt
the huge insect-devourer, the quick-hearing animal unveils its form by
a sweeping movement of the thatch outwards, the tail that supports it
rotating, as if joined by a kind of door-hinge to the body; the head is
drawn out from between the fore limbs; the limbs are extended, and the
entire figure of this most grotesque of quadrupeds stalks forth. The
limbs are short; the fore limbs grow rather thicker to their stumpy
ends, which look as if the feet had been amputated. The four toes, with
their claws, are bent inwards, and are of very unequal length. This is
the most singular part of the animal: it is also the most formidable
member, and, indeed, bears the sole weapon of defence the beast
possesses. The innermost toe, answering to the thumb on the fore limb of
the neighbouring chimpanzee, is the shortest. A fifth toe seems to be
buried in the outside callosity, on which the animal rests its stumpy
feet while walking. At the back part of the sole, or palm, of the fore
foot, is a second large callosity, which receives the point of the great
claw in its usual state of inward inflection. Against this callosity the
animal presses the claw when it seizes any object therewith; and Azara,
as we have seen, avers that nothing can make the Ant-Bear relax its
grasp of an object so seized.

With respect to the jaguar being sometimes found dead in the grasp of
the Great Ant-eater, Professor Owen observes that its muscular force
resembles that of the cold-blooded reptiles in the force and endurance
of the contractile action; and, like the reptiles, the Sloths and
Ant-Bears can endure long fasts.

Woe to the unlucky or heedless aggressor whose arm or leg may be seized
by the Ant-Bear. The strength of the grasp sometimes breaks the bone.
The Ant-Bear never voluntarily lets go, and the limb so grasped can be
with difficulty extricated, even after the animal has been killed. To
put the beast, however, _hors de combat_, no other weapon is needed
than a stout stick. "With this," says Azara. "I have killed many by
dealing them blows on the head, and with the same security as if I had
struck the trunk of a tree. With a mouth so small, and formed as already
described, the Ant-Bear cannot bite; and, if it could, it would be
useless, for it has no teeth."

"Like a lawyer," says Professor Owen, "the tongue is the chief organ
by which this animal obtains its livelihood in its natural habitat.
The warmer latitudes of South America, to which part of the world the
Ant-Bear is peculiar, abound in forests and luxuriant vegetation; the
insects of the ant and termite tribes that subsist on wood, recent
or decaying, equally abound. With one link in the chain of organic
independencies is interlocked another; and as the surplus vegetation
sustains the surplus insect population, so a peculiar form of mammalian
life finds the requisite conditions of existence in the task of
restraining the undue multiplication of the wood-consuming insects."

The number of male Ant-eaters is supposed to be considerably smaller
than that of the females, which circumstance favours the inference that
the extinction of the species, like those of the _edentata_ in general,
is determined upon.[6]

Large as the Ant-Bear is in comparison with the animals on which it
naturally feeds, there appear to have been still larger Ant-Bears in the
old times of South America. Fossil remains of nearly allied quadrupeds
have been detected in both the fresh-water deposits and bone-caves of
the post-pliocene period in Buenos Ayres and Brazil.

In examining the fossil remains has been found evidence that the nervous
matter destined to put in action the muscular part of the tongue was
equal to half of that nervous matter which influences the whole muscular
system of a man. No other known living animal offers any approximation
to the peculiar proportions of the lingual nerves of the fossil animal
in question except the Great Ant-eater; but the size of the animal
indicated by the fossil was three times that of our Ant-eater. For this
strange monster, thus partially restored from the ruins of a former
world, Professor Owen proposes the name of _Glossotherium_, which
signifies tongue-beast.

Evidence of such a creature has been given by Dr. Lund, the Danish
naturalist, resident in Brazil: among the fossil remains here (limestone
caves of the province Minas) he discovered traces of the Great
Ant-eater, which, however, are too imperfect to enable us to determine
more accurately its relation to existing species. The fragments indicate
an animal the size of an ox! Were the insect prey of these antediluvian
Ant-eaters correspondingly gigantic?

Two circumstances very remarkable were observed in the Zoological
Society's Great Ant-eater: the hinge-like manner in which the animal
worked its tail when it had laid itself down, throwing it over the
whole of its body and enveloping itself completely; and the peculiar
vibratory motion of the long vermiform tongue when protruded from the
mouth in search of food. The tongue is not shot forth and retracted,
like that of the chameleon, but protruded gradually, _vibrating_ all the
time, and in the same condition withdrawn into the mouth.

Another species of Ant-eater is the _Tamandua_, much inferior in size to
the Great Ant-Bear, being scarcely so large as a good sized cat, whilst
the other exceeds the largest greyhound in length. The Tamandua inhabits
the thick primæval forests of tropical America, and is never found on
the ground, but exclusively in trees, where it lives upon termites,
honey, and, according to Azara, even bees, which in those countries
form their hives among the loftiest branches of the forest; and having
no sting, they are more readily despoiled of their honey than their
congeners of our own climate. When about to sleep it hides its muzzle in
the fur of its breast, falls on its belly, letting its fore-feet hang
down on each side, and wrapping the whole tightly round with its tail.
The female, as in the Great Ant-eater, has but two pectoral mammæ, and
produces but a single cub at a birth, which she carries about with her
on her shoulders for the first three or four months. _Tamandua_ is the
Portuguese name; the French and English call it _fourmiller_ and Little

The latter are the names of a still smaller species, which does not
exceed the size of the European squirrel. Its native country is Guayana
and Brazil. It is called in Surinam _kissing-hand_, as the inhabitants
pretend it will never eat, at least when caught, but that it only licks
its paws in the same manner as the bear; that all trials to make it eat
have proved in vain, and that it soon dies in confinement. Von Sack, in
a voyage to Surinam, had two of these Ant-eaters which would not eat
eggs, honey, meat, or ants; but when a wasps'-nest was brought they
pulled out the nymphæ and ate them eagerly, sitting in the posture of a
squirrel. Von Sack showed this phenomenon to many of the inhabitants of
Surinam, who all assured him that it was the first time they had ever
known that species of animal to take any nourishment.

Von Sack describes his Ant-eaters as often sleeping all the day long
curled together, and fastened by their prehensile tails to one of the
perches of the cage. When touched they raised themselves on their
hind-legs, and struck with their fore-paws at the object which disturbed
them, like the hammer of a clock striking a bell, with both paws at the
same time, and with a great deal of force. They never attempted to run
away, but were always ready for defence when attacked.

The discovery of the true nature of the food of this species is
particularly desirable, and may enable us to have the animal brought
alive to this country, a thing which we believe has not been attempted;
and which, if attempted, has certainly never succeeded. To procure or
carry ants during a long sea-voyage is impracticable, but the larvæ of
wasps can be obtained in any quantity, and will keep for months; so that
the most serious difficulty to the introduction of the little Ant-eater
being thus removed, it would only require to be protected from the
effects of a colder climate, which may be as easily done in its case as
in that of other South America mammalia.

The Porcupine Ant-eater of New Holland, now very uncommon in New South
Wales, is regarded, of its size, the strongest quadruped in existence.
It burrows readily. Its mode of eating is very curious, the tongue being
used sometimes in the manner of that of the chameleon, and at other
times in that in which a mower uses his scythe, the tongue being curved
laterally, and the food, as it were, swept into the mouth.

The original Great Ant-Bear, received at the Gardens of the Zoological
Society on the 29th of September, 1853, died on the 6th of July, 1854.
There are now two of these animals living in the Gardens, one of which
is a remarkably fine specimen.


[6] Proceedings of the Zoological Society.


These harmless and interesting little animals have not only furnished
objects of superstitious dread to the ignorant, but have proved to the
poet and the painter a fertile source of images of gloom and terror.
The strange combination of character of beast and bird, which they were
believed to possess, is supposed to have given to Virgil the idea of the

Aristotle says but little about the Bat; and Pliny is considered to
have placed it among the Birds, none of which, he observes, with the
exception of the Bat, have teeth. Again, he notices it as the only
winged animal that suckles its young, and remarks on its embracing its
two little ones, and flying about with them. In this arrangement he was
followed by the older of the more modern naturalists. Belon, doubtingly,
places it at the end of the Night-birds; and the Bat, _Attaleph_ (bird
of darkness), was one of the unclean animals of the Hebrews; and in
Deuteronomy xxv. 18, it is placed among the forbidden birds.

Even up to a late period Bats were considered as forming a link between
quadrupeds and birds. The common language of our own ancestors, however,
indicates a much nearer approach to the truth in the notions entertained
by the people than can be found in the lucubrations of the learned.
The words _rere-mouse_ and _flitter-mouse_, the old English names for
the Bat--the former derived from the Anglo-Saxon "aræan," to raise, or
rear up, and mus; the latter from the Belgic, signifying "flying or
flittering mouse,"--show that in their minds these animals were always
associated with the idea of quadrupeds. The first of these terms is
still used in English heraldry; though it may have ceased to belong to
the language of the country. "The word _flitter-mouse_," says Mr. Bell,
"sometimes corrupted into _flintymouse_, is the common term for the Bat
in some parts of the kingdom, particularly in that part of the county
of Kent in which the language, as well as the aspect and names of the
inhabitants, retain more of the Saxon character than will be found,
perhaps, in any other part of England.

Ben Jonson has--

    "Once a Bat, and ever a Bat! a rere-mouse,
    And bird o'twilight, he has broken thrice.

          .         .               .

    Come, I will see the flicker-mouse, my fly."

                    _Play._--_New Inn._

The same author uses flitter-mouse also:--

    "And giddy flitter-mice, with leather wings."

                    _Sad Shepherd._

Calmet describes the Bat as an animal having the body of a mouse and the
wings of a bird; but he erroneously adds, "It never grows tame."

Some persons are surprised at Bats being classed by naturalists, not
with birds, but quadrupeds. They have, in fact, no other claim to be
considered as birds than that of their being able to suspend and move
themselves in the air, like some species of fish, but to a greater
degree. They suckle their young, are covered with hair, and have
no wings, but arms and lengthened fingers or toes furnished with a
membrane, by which they are enabled to fly.

Sir Charles Bell, in his valuable treatise on the "Hand," considers
the skeleton of the Bat as one of the best examples of the moulding
of the bones of the extremity to correspond with the condition of the
animal. Contemplating this extraordinary application of the bones of the
extremity, and comparing them with those of the wing of a bird, we might
say that this is an awkward attempt--"a failure." But, before giving
expression to such an opinion, we must understand the objects required
in this construction. It is not a wing intended merely for flight, but
one which, while it raises the animal, is capable of receiving a new
sensation, or sensations, in that exquisite degree, so as almost to
constitute a new sense. On the fine web of the Bat's wing nerves are
distributed, which enable it to avoid objects in its flight during the
night, when both eyes and ears fail. Could the wing of a bird, covered
with feathers, do this? Here, then, we have another example of the
necessity of taking every circumstance into consideration before we
presume to criticise the ways of nature. It is a lesson of humility. In
this animal the bones are light and delicate; and whilst they are all
marvellously extended, the phalanges of the fingers are elongated so
as hardly to be recognised, obviously for the purpose of sustaining a
membranous web, and to form a wing.

In 1839 there was received at the Surrey Zoological Gardens, from
Sumatra, a specimen of the Vampire Bat. This was a young male; the body
was black, and the membranous wing, in appearance, resembled fine black
kid. He was rarely seen at the bottom of his cage, but suspended himself
from the roof or bars of the cage, head downwards, his wings wrapped
round his body; when spread, these wings extended nearly two feet.
Although this specimen was the Vampire Bat to which so many bloodthirsty
feats have been attributed, his appearance was by no means ferocious;
he was active, yet docile, and the only peculiarity to favour belief in
his blood-sucking propensity was his long pointed tongue. The species
has popularly been accused of destroying, not only the large mammiferous
animals, but also men, when asleep, by sucking their blood. "The truth,"
says Cuvier, in his "Regne Animal," "appears to be, that the Vampire
inflicts only small wounds, which may, probably, become inflammatory and
gangrenous from the influence of climate." In this habit, however, may
have originated the celebrated Vampire superstition. Lord Byron, in his
beautiful poem of "The Giaour," thus symbolises the tortures that await
the "false infidel:"--

    "First, on earth as Vampire sent,
    My corse shall from its tomb be rent;
    Then ghastly haunt thy native place,
    And suck the blood of all thy race;
    There, from thy daughter, sister, wife,
    At midnight drain the stream of life;
    Yet loathe the banquet which perforce
    Must feed thy livid living corse.
    Thy victims, ere they yet expire,
    Shall know the demon for their sire,
    As cursing thee, thou cursing them,
    Thy flowers are withered on the stem.
    But one that for thy crime must fall,
    The youngest, most beloved of all,
    Shall bless thee with _a father's_ name--
    That word shall wrap thy heart in flame!
    Yet must thou end thy task, and mark
    Her cheek's last tinge, her eye's last spark,
    And the last glassy glance must view
    Which freezes o'er its lifeless blue;
    Then with unhallowed hand shall tear
    The tresses of her yellow hair,
    Of which in life a lock, when shorn,
    Affection's fondest pledge was worn,
    But now is borne away by thee,
    Memorial of thine agony!
    Wet with thine one best blood shall drip
    Thy gnashing tooth and haggard lip;
    Then stalking to thy sullen grave,
    Go, and with Gouls and Afrits rave;
    Till there in horror shrink away
    From spectre more accursed than they!"

In a note, the noble poet tells us:--"The Vampire superstition is still
general in the Levant." Honest Tournefort tells a long story, which Mr.
Southey, in the notes on "Thalaba," quotes, about these Vardoulacha,
as he calls them. "I recollect a whole family being terrified by the
screams of a child, which they imagined must proceed from such a
visitation. The Greeks never mention the word without horror."

Bishop Heber describes the Vampire Bat of India as a very harmless
creature, entirely different from the formidable idea entertained of it
in England. "It only eats fruit and vegetables; indeed, its teeth are
not indicative of carnivorous habits; and from blood it turns away when
offered to it. During the daytime it is, of course, inert; but at night
it is lively, affectionate, and playful, knows its keeper, but has no
objection to the approach and touch of others."

Mr. Westerton, the traveller, when speaking, in his "Wanderings," of the
Vampire of South America, says:--"There are two species in Demerara,
both of which suck living animals; one is rather larger than the common
Bats, the other measures above two feet from wing to wing, extended. So
gently does this nocturnal surgeon draw the blood, that instead of being
roused, the patient is lulled into a profound sleep." The large Vampire
sucks men, commonly attacking the toes; the smaller seems to confine
itself chiefly to birds.

Captain Stedman, who states that he was bitten by a Bat, thus describes
the operation:--"Knowing by instinct that the person they intend to
attack is in a sound slumber, they generally alight near the feet,
where, while the creature continues fanning with its enormous wings,
which keeps one cool, he bites a piece out of the tip of the great toe,
so very small indeed that the head of a pin would scarcely be received
into the wound, which is, consequently, not painful; yet through this
orifice he continues to suck the blood until he is obliged to disgorge.
He then begins again, and thus continues sucking and disgorging until
he is scarcely able to fly; and the sufferer has been often known to
sleep from time into eternity. Having applied tobacco-ashes as the best
remedy, and washed the gore from myself and my hammock, I observed
several small heaps of congealed blood all round the place where I had
lain upon the ground, on examining which the surgeon judged that I had
lost at least twelve or fourteen ounces during the night."

Lesson, in 1827, says:--"The single American species of Bat is
celebrated by the fables with which they have accompanied its history.
That Bats suck the blood of animals as well as the juices of succulent
fruits zoologists are agreed. The rough tongue of one genus was, I
suppose, to be employed for abrading the skin, to enable the animal
to suck the part abraded; but zoologists are now agreed that the
supposition is groundless. It is more than probable that the celebrated
Vampire superstition and the blood-sucking qualities attributed to the
Bat have some connection with each other."

Bat-fowling is mentioned by Shakspeare. This is the mode of taking
Bats in the night-time, while they are at roost, upon perches, trees,
or hedges. They light torches or straw, and then beat the bushes, upon
which the Bats, flying to the flames, are caught, either with nets or

Bat-fowling, or Bat-folding, is effected by the use of a net, called a
trammel-net, and is practised at night. The net should be made of the
strongest and finest twine, and extended between two poles about ten
feet high, tapering to a point at the top, and meeting at the top of
the net. The larger ends are to be held by the persons who take the
management of the net, and who, by stretching out the arms, keep the net
extended to the utmost, opposite the hedge in which the Bats or birds
are supposed to be. Another of the party carries a lantern upon a pole
at a short distance behind the centre of the net. One or two others
place themselves on the opposite side of the hedge, and by beating it
with sticks disturb the Bats or birds, which, being alarmed, fly towards
the light, but are interrupted in their flight by the net which is
immediately _folded_ upon them, often fifteen or twenty in number. This
sport cannot be followed with much success except when the night is very
dark, or until very late in the autumn, when the trees, having lost
their leaves, the Bats or birds are driven for shelter to the hollies,
yews, hayricks, &c.

We remember reading, in the "Philosophical Magazine," in 1836, a curious
account of the habits of a long-eared Bat, a living specimen of which
was given to the children of Mr. De Carle Sowerby, the naturalist. "We
constructed," says Mr. Sowerby, "a cage for him, by covering a box with
gauze, and making a round hole in the side, fitted with a phial cork.
When he was awake, we fed him with flies, introduced through this hole,
and thus kept him for several weeks. The animal soon became familiar,
and immediately a fly was presented alive at the hole, he would run or
fly from any part of the cage, and seize it in our fingers; but a dead
or quiet fly he would never touch. At other times, dozens of flies and
grasshoppers were left in his cage, and, waking him by their noise, he
dexterously caught them as they hopped or flew about, but uniformly
disregarded them while they were at rest. The cockroach, hard beetles,
and caterpillars he refused.

"As we became still more familiar, our new friend was invited to join
in our evening amusements, to which he contributed his full share
by flitting round the room, at times settling upon our persons, and
permitting us to handle and caress him. He announced his being awake
by a shrill chirp, which was more acute than that of the cricket. Now
was the proper time for feeding him. I before stated that he only took
his food alive. It was observed that not only was motion necessary, but
that generally some noise on the part of the fly was required to induce
him to accept it; and this fact was soon discovered by the children,
who were entertained by his taking flies from their fingers as he flew
by them, before he was bold enough to settle upon their hands to
devour his victims. They quickly improved upon this discovery, and, by
imitating the booming of a bee, induced the Bat, directed by the sound,
to settle upon their faces, wrapping his wings round their lips, and
searching for the expected fly. We observed that, if he took a fly while
on the wing, he frequently settled to masticate it; and, when he had
been flying about a long time, he would rest upon a curtain, pricking
his ears, and turning his head in all directions, when, if a fly were
made to buzz, or the sound imitated, he would proceed directly to the
spot, even on the opposite side of the room, guided, it would appear,
entirely by the ear. Sometimes he took his victim in his mouth, even
though it was not flying; at other times he inclosed it in his wings,
with which he formed a kind of bag-net. This was his general plan when
in his cage, or when the fly was held in our fingers, or between our

From these observations Mr. Sowerby concludes that many of the movements
of the Bat upon the wing are directed by his exquisite sense of hearing.
May not the sensibility of this organ be naturally greater in these
animals, whose organs of vision are too susceptible to bear daylight,
when those organs, from their nature, would necessarily be of most
service?--such as the cat, who hunts by the ear, and the mole, who,
feeding in the dark recesses of his subterranean abode, is very sensible
of the approach of danger, and expert in avoiding it. In the latter
case, large external ears are not required, because sound is well
conveyed by solids, and along narrow cavities. In the cases of many
Bats, and of owls, the external ears are remarkably developed. Cats
combine a quickness of sight with acute hearing. They hunt by the ear,
but they follow their prey by the eye. Some Bats are said to feed upon
fruits: have they the same delicacy of hearing, feeling, &c., as others?

Mr. Sowerby has further described the singular mode adopted by the
long-eared Bat in capturing his prey. The flying apparatus is extended
from the hind legs to the tail, forming a large bag or net, not unlike
two segments of an umbrella, the legs and tail being the ribs. The Bat,
having caught the fly, instead of eating it at once, generally covers it
with his body, and, by the aid of his arms, &c., forces it into his bag.
He then puts his head down under his body, withdraws the fly from his
bag, and leisurely devours it. Mr. Sowerby once saw an unwary bluebottle
walk beneath the body of the apparently sleeping Bat into the sensitive
bag, in which it was immediately imprisoned. White, of Selborne,
speaking of a tame Bat, alludes to the above described action, which
he compares to that of a beast of prey, but says nothing respecting
the bag. Bell, in his "British Quadrupeds," says that the interfemoral
membrane of Bats "is probably intended to act as a sort of rudder, in
rapidly changing the course of the animal in the pursuit of its insect
food. In a large group of foreign Bats, which feed on fruit or other
vegetable substances, as well as in some of carnivorous habits, but
whose prey is of a less active character, this part is either wholly
wanting or much circumscribed in extent and power." May it not be, asks
Mr. Sowerby, that they do not require an entomological bag-net?

The wing of the Bat is commonly spoken of as of leather; that it is an
insensible piece of stuff--the leather of a glove or of a lady's shoe;
but nothing can be further from the truth. If one were to select an
organ of the most exquisite delicacy and sensibility, it would be the
Bat's wing. It is anything but leather, and is, perhaps, the most acute
organ of touch that can be found.

Bats are supposed to perceive external objects without coming actually
in contact with them, because in their rapid and irregular flight,
amidst various surrounding bodies, they never fly against them; yet, to
some naturalists, it does not appear that the senses of hearing, seeing,
or smelling serve them on these occasions, for they avoid any obstacles
with equal certainty when the eye, ear, and nose are closed: hence has
been ascribed a _sixth sense_ to these animals. The nerves of the wing
are large and numerous, and distributed in a minute network between the
integuments. The impulse of the air against this part may possibly be
so modified by the objects near which the animal passes as to indicate
their situation and nature. The Bat tribe fly by means of the fingers of
the fore feet, the thumb excepted, being, in these animals, longer than
the whole body; and between them is stretched a thin membrane, or web,
for flying. It is probable that, in the action of flight, the air, when
struck by this wing, or very sensitive hand, impresses a sensation of
heat, cold, mobility, and resistance on that organ, which indicates to
the animal the existence or absence of obstacles which would interrupt
its progress. In this manner blind men discover by their hands, and
even by the skin of their faces, the proximity of a wall, door of a
house, or side of a street, even without the assistance of touch, and
merely by the sensation which the difference in the resistance of the
air occasions. Hence they are as little capable of walking on the ground
as apes with their hands, or sloths with their hooked claws, which are
calculated for climbing.

In a certain kind of Bat, the _Nycteris_, there exists a power of
inflation to such a degree that, when inflated, the animal looks,
according to Geoffroy St. Hilaire, like a _little balloon_ fitted
with wings, a head, and feet. It is filled with air through the
cheek-pouches, which are perforated at the bottom, so as to communicate
with the spaces of the skin to be filled. When the Bat wishes to
inflate, it draws in its breath, closes its nostrils, and transmits the
air through the perforations of the cheek-pouches to the spaces; and the
air is prevented from returning by the action of a muscle which closes
those openings, and by valves of considerable size on the neck and back.

There was formerly a vulgar opinion that Bats, when down on a flat
surface, could not get on the wing again, by rising with great ease
from the floor; but White saw a Bat run, with more dispatch than he
was aware of, though in a most ridiculous and grotesque manner. The
adroitness with which this Bat sheared off the wings of flies, which
were always rejected, was very amusing. He did not refuse raw flesh when
offered; so that the notion that Bats go down chimneys, and gnaw men's
bacon, seems no improbable story.

Mr. George Daniell describes a female Bat, who took her food with an
action similar to that of a dog. The animal took considerable pains
in cleaning herself, parting the hair on either side, from head to
tail, and forming a straight line along the middle of the back. The
membrane of the wings was cleaned by forcing the nose through the folds,
and thereby expanding them. This Bat fed freely, and at some times
voraciously, the quantity exceeding half an ounce, although the weight
of the animal itself was not more than ten drams.

The _Kalong_ Bat of the Javanese is extremely abundant in the lower
parts of Java, and uniformly lives in society. The more elevated
districts are not visited by it. "Numerous individuals," says Dr.
Hornfield, "select a large tree, and, suspending themselves with the
claws of their posterior extremities to the naked branches, often in
companies of several hundreds, afford to a stranger a very singular
spectacle. A species of ficus (fig-tree), resembling the _ficus
religiosa_ of India, affords them a very favourite retreat, and the
extended branches of one of these are sometimes covered by them. They
pass the greater portion of the day in sleep, hanging motionless, ranged
in succession, with the head downwards, the membrane contracted about
the body, and often in close contact. They have little resemblance to
living beings; and, by a person not accustomed to their economy, are
readily mistaken for a part of the tree, or for a fruit of uncommon size
suspended from its branches."

In general, these societies are silent during the day; but if they are
disturbed, or a contention arises among them, they emit sharp, piercing
shrieks; and their awkward attempts to extricate themselves, when
oppressed by the light of the sun, exhibit a ludicrous spectacle. Soon
after sunset they gradually quit their hold, and pursue their nocturnal
flight in quest of food. They direct their course by an unerring
instinct to the forests, villages, and plantations, attacking and
devouring every kind of fruit, from the abundant and useful cocoa-nut,
which surrounds the dwellings of the meanest peasantry, to the rare and
most delicate productions which are cultivated by princes and chiefs of
distinction. Various methods are employed to protect the orchards and
gardens. Delicate fruits are secured by a loose net or basket, skilfully
constructed of split bamboo, without which precaution little valuable
fruit would escape the ravages of the _Kalong_. There are few situations
in the lower part of Java in which this night wanderer is not constantly
observed. As soon as the light of the sun has retired, one animal is
seen to follow the other at a small but irregular distance, and this
accession continues uninterrupted till dark:--

            "The night came on apace,
    And falling dews bewet around the place;
    The bat takes airy rounds, on leathern wings,
    And the hoarse owl his woful dirges sings."

                    Gay's "_Pastoral III_."

Bats of the ordinary size are very numerous in Jamaica. They are found
in mills and old houses. They do great mischief in gardens, where they
eat the green peas, opening the pod over each pea, and removing it very

Gilbert White, of Selborne, first noticed a large species of Bat, which
he named _altivolans_, from its manner of feeding high in the air. In
the extent of its wings it measured 14-1/2 inches; and it weighed,
when entirely full, one ounce and one drachm. It is found in numbers
together, so many as 185 having been taken in one night from the eaves
of Queens' College, Cambridge. In the Northern Zoological Gallery of the
British Museum are representatives of the several species of Bats, all
bearing a family resemblance to each other. In England alone there are
eighteen known species. Here is the curious leaf-nosed Bat, from Brazil,
supposed to excel in the sense of smell; also, the Vampire, or large
blood-sucking Bat, from the same country; and the different kinds of
fruit-eating Bats, found in America and Australia, and sometimes called
flying foxes, on account of their great size. The Bats of temperate
climates remain torpid during the winter. Gay has these lines:--

    "Where swallows in the winter season keep;
    And here the drowsy bat and dormouse sleep."

Young Bats have been taken, when hovering near the ground, by throwing
handfuls of sand, but they rarely live in confinement: they often die
within a week after their capture. A Bat, taken in Elgin, gave birth to
a young one, which was for two days suckled by its parent. Before she
reached the age of three days the young bat died, and the parent only
survived another day to mourn her loss. Sometimes females, when taken,
have young ones clinging to their breast, in the act of sucking; and the
female can fly with ease, though two little ones are attached to her,
which weigh nearly as much as the parent.

To return to an exaggeration of a famous old traveller. In "Purchas his
Pilgrimage," the materials for which he borrowed from above thirteen
hundred authors, when speaking of the island of Madura, in the South of
India, he says:--"In these partes are Battes as big as Hennes, which the
people roast and eat."


Of this animal some strange things are recorded. It is placed by Cuvier
at the head of the insect-devouring Mammifera. It is found in Europe,
Africa, and India. Its body is covered with strong and sharp prickles,
and by the help of a muscle it can contract itself into a ball, and so
withdraw its whole underpart, head, belly, and legs, within this thicket
of prickles:

    "Like Hedgehogs, which
    Lie tumbling in my barefoot way, and mount
    Their pricks at my foot-fall."--Shakspeare's "_Tempest_."

Sir Thomas Browne, in his "Vulgar Errors," has this odd conceit:--"Few
have belief to swallow, or hope enough to experience, the collyrium of
Albertus; that is, to make one see in the dark: yet thus much, according
to his receipts, will the right eye of an Hedgehog, boiled in oil, and
preserved in a brazen vessel, effect."

Hedgehog was an old term of reproach; but we have heard a well-set
argument compared to a hedgehog--all points.

The food of the Hedgehog, which is a nocturnal animal, consists
principally of insects, worms, slugs, and snails. That it will eat
vegetables is shown by White of Selborne, who relates how it eats the
root of the plantain by boring beneath it, leaving the tuft of leaves

The Hedgehog is reputed to supply itself with a winter covering of
leaves. So far as we are aware, it has not been observed in the act of
forming the covering of leaves, though it is supposed to roll itself
about till its spines take up a sufficient number, in the same way as
it is popularly believed (without proof) to do with apples. Blumenbach
states that he was assured, "by three credible witnesses," that
Hedgehogs so gather fruit; but Buffon, who kept several Hedgehogs for
observation, declares they never practise any such habit.

The voracity of the Hedgehog is very great. A female, with a young one,
was placed in a kitchen, having the run of the beetles at night, besides
having always bread and milk within their reach. One day, however, the
servants heard a mysterious crunching sound in the kitchen, and found,
on examination, that nothing was left of the young Hedgehog but the skin
and prickles--the mother had devoured her little pig! A Hedgehog has
also been known to eat a couple of rabbits which had been confined with
it, and killing others; it has likewise been known to kill hares.

A Hedgehog was placed in one hamper, a wood-pigeon in another, and two
starlings in a third; the lid of each hamper was tied down with string,
and the hampers were placed in a garden-house, which was fastened in the
evening. Next morning the strings to the hampers were found severed, the
starlings and wood-pigeon dead and eaten, feathers alone remaining in
their hampers, and the Hedgehog alive in the wood-pigeon's hamper. As no
other animal could have got into the garden-house it was concluded that
the Hedgehog had killed and eaten the birds.

In the "Zoological Journal," vol. ii., is an account by Mr. Broderip of
an experiment made by Professor Buckland proving that in captivity at
least the Hedgehog will devour snakes; but there is no good reason for
supposing that it will not do the same in a state of nature, for frogs,
toads, and other reptiles, and mice, have been recorded as its prey.
From its fondness for insects it is often placed in the London kitchens
to keep down the swarm of cockroaches with which they are infested; and
there are generally Hedgehogs on sale at Covent Garden Market for this

The idle story that the persecuted Hedgehog sucks cows has been thus
quaintly refuted:--"In the case of an animal giving suck, the teat is
embraced round by the mouth of the young one, so that no air can pass
between; a vacuum is made, or the air is exhausted from its throat,
by a power in the lungs; nevertheless the pressure of the air remains
still upon the outside of the dug of the mother, and by these two
causes together the milk is forced in the mouth of the young one. But
a Hedgehog has no such mouth as to be able to contain the teat of a
cow; therefore any vacuum which is caused in its own throat cannot be
communicated to the milk in the dug. And if he is able to procure no
other food but what he can get by sucking cows in the night, there is
likely to be a vacuum in his stomach too." (_New Catalogue of Vulgar
Errors._ By Stephen Fovargue, A.M., 1786.) Yet, according to Sir William
Jardine, the Hedgehog is very fond of eggs; and is consequently very
mischievous in the game-preserve and hen-house.

One of the most interesting facts in the natural history of the Hedgehog
is that announced in 1831 by M. Lenz, and subsequently confirmed by
Professor Buckland: this is, that the most violent poisons have no
effect upon it; a fact which renders it of peculiar value in forests,
where it appears to destroy a great number of noxious reptiles. M. Lenz
says that he had in his house a female Hedgehog, which he kept in a
large box, and which soon became very mild and familiar. He often put
into the box some adders, which it attacked with avidity, seizing them
indifferently by the head, the body, and the tail, and not appearing
alarmed or embarrassed when they coiled themselves around its body.
On one occasion M. Lenz witnessed a fight between a Hedgehog and a
viper. When the Hedgehog came near and smelled the snake, for with
these animals the sense of sight is very obtuse, she seized it by the
head, and held it fast between her teeth, but without appearing to do
it much harm; for having disengaged its head, it assumed a furious and
menacing attitude, and, hissing vehemently, inflicted severe bites on
the Hedgehog. The animal did not, however, recoil from the bites of
the viper, or indeed seem to care much about them. At last, when the
reptile was fatigued by its efforts, she again seized it by the head,
which she ground beneath her teeth, compressing the fangs and glands of
poison, and then devouring every part of the body. M. Lenz says that
battles of this sort often occurred in the presence of many persons, and
sometimes the Hedgehog received eight or ten wounds on the ears, the
snout, and even on the tongue, without seeming to experience any of the
ordinary symptoms produced by the venom of the viper. Neither herself
nor the young which she was then suckling seemed to suffer from it. This
observation agrees with that of Pallas, who assures us that the Hedgehog
can eat about a hundred Cantharides (Spanish Flies) without experiencing
any of the effects which this insect, taken inwardly, produces on men,
dogs, and cats. A German physician, who made the Hedgehog a particular
object of study, gave it strong doses of prussic acid, of arsenic, of
opium, and of corrosive sublimate, none of which did it any harm. The
Hedgehog in its natural state only feeds on pears, apples, and other
fruits when it can get nothing it likes better.

The Hedgehog hybernates regularly, and early in the summer brings forth
from two to four young ones at a birth, which, at the time of their
production, are blind, and have the spines white, soft, and flexible.
The nest wherein they are cradled is said to be very artificially
constructed, the roof being rain-proof.

The flesh of the Hedgehog, when it has been well fed, is sweet and well
flavoured, and is eaten on the Continent in many places. In Britain a
few besides gipsies partake of it. The prickly skin appears to have been
used by the Romans for hackling hemp.

Gilbert White notes that when the Hedgehog is very young it can draw
its skin down over its face, but is not able to contract itself into a
ball, as the creature does, for the sake of defence when full grown. The
reason, White supposes, is because the curious muscle that enables the
Hedgehog to roll itself up into a ball has not then arrived at its full
tone and firmness. Hedgehogs conceal themselves for the winter in their
warm _hybernaculum_ of leaves and moss; but White could never find that
they stored in any winter provision, as some quadrupeds certainly do.


In the year 1850 there was exhibited in London a living Hippopotamus,
for many centuries the only instance of this extraordinary animal being
seen in Europe.

There is something irresistibly striking in seeing a living animal,
not one of whose species we have before seen, and especially when
that animal is a large one, as in the instance before us. We had been
wonderstruck at forms of this creature in the old British Museum, where
were two finely-preserved specimens. The Rhinoceros alive was, until of
late years, very rare in England. In 1834 Mr. Cross paid some 1,500_l._
for a young Indian one-horned Rhinoceros, this being the only one
brought to England for twenty years. He proved attractive, but slightly
so in comparison with the expectation of a living Hippopotamus, never
witnessed before in this country. The circumstances of his acquisition
were as follows:--

The Zoological Society of London had long been anxious to obtain
a living Hippopotamus for their menagerie, but without success. An
American agent at Alexandria had offered 5,000_l._ for an animal of
this species, but in vain; no speculator could be induced to encounter
the risk and labour of an expedition to the White Nile for the
purpose of securing the animal. The desire of the Zoological Society
was communicated to the Viceroy of Egypt, who saw the difficulty.
Hasselquist states it to have been impossible to bring the living animal
to Cairo; and the French _savans_, attached to the expedition to Egypt,
who ascended the Nile above Syene, did not meet with one Hippopotamus.
Caillaud, however, asserts that he saw forty Hippopotami in the Upper
Nile, though their resort lay fifteen hundred miles or more from Cairo.
Here they were often shot with rifle-balls, but to take one alive was
another matter. However, by command of the Viceroy, the proper parties
were sent in search of the animal.

In August, 1849, the hunters having reached the island of Fobaysch,
on the White Nile, about 2,000 miles above Cairo, shot a large female
Hippopotamus in full chase up the river. The wounded creature turned
aside and made towards some bushes on the island bank, but sank dead in
the effort. The hunters, however, kept on towards the bushes, when a
young Hippopotamus, supposed to have been recently brought forth, not
much bigger than a new-born calf, but stouter and lower, rushed down
the bank of the river, was secured by a boatman and lifted into the
boat. The captors started with their charge down the Nile. The food of
their young animal was their next anxiety; he liked neither fish, flesh,
fruit, nor grass. The boat next stopped at a village; their cows were
seized and milked, and the young charge lapped up the produce. A good
milch cow was taken on board, and with this supply the Hippopotamus
reached Cairo. The colour of his skin at this time was a dull reddish
brown. He was shown to the Pasha in due form; the present created
intense wonder and interest in Cairo; gaping crowds filled its narrow
sandy streets, and a whale at London-bridge would scarcely excite half
so much curiosity.

It being thought safer for the animal to winter in Cairo than to proceed
forthwith on his journey, the Consul had duly prepared to receive the
young stranger, for whom he had engaged a sort of nurse. Hamet Safi
Cannana. An apartment was allotted to the Hippopotamus in the court-yard
of the Consul's house, leading to a warm or tepid bath. His milk-diet,
however, became a troublesome affair, for the new comer never drank less
than from twenty to thirty quarts daily.

By the next mail after the arrival of the Hippopotamus, the Consul
despatched the glad tidings to the Zoological Society. The animal was
shipped at Alexandria, in the Ripon steamer. On the main deck was built
a house, from which were steps down into an iron tank in the hold,
containing 400 gallons of water, as a bath: it was filled with fresh
water every other day.

Early in May, the Hippopotamus was conveyed in the canal-boat, with
Hamet Safi Cannana, to Alexandria, where the debarkation was witnessed
by 10,000 spectators. The animal bore the voyage well. He lived
exclusively on milk, of which he consumed daily about forty pints,
yielded by the cows taken on board. He was very tame, and, like a
faithful dog, followed his Arab attendant Hamet, who was seldom away
more than five minutes without being summoned to return by a loud grunt.
Hamet slept in a berth with the Hippopotamus. On May 25 they were landed
at Southampton, and sent by railway to London. On arriving at the
Zoological Society's Gardens, Hamet walked first out of the transport
van, with a bag of dates over his shoulder, and the Hippopotamus trotted
after him. Next morning he greatly enjoyed the bath which had been
prepared for him. Although scarcely twelve months old, his massive
proportions indicated the enormous power to be developed in his maturer
growth; while the grotesque expression of his physiognomy far exceeded
all that could be imagined from the stuffed specimens in museums, and
the figures which had hitherto been published from the reminiscences of

Among the earliest visitors was Professor Owen, who first saw the
Hippopotamus lying on its side in the straw, with its head resting
against the chair in which sat the swarthy attendant. It now and then
grunted softly, and, lazily opening its thick, smooth eyelids, leered
at its keeper with a singular protruding movement of the eyeball from
the prominent socket, showing an unusual proportion of the white. The
retraction of the eyeball was accompanied by a simultaneous rolling
obliquely downwards, or inwards, or forwards. The young animal, then
ten months' old, was seven feet long, and six and a-half in girth at
the middle of the barrel-shaped trunk, supported, clear of the ground,
on very short and thick legs, each terminated by four spreading hoofs,
the two middle ones being the largest, and answering to those in the
hog. The naked hide, covering the broad back and sides, was of a dark,
india-rubber colour, with numerous fine wrinkles crossing each other,
but disposed almost transversely. The beast had just left its bath, when
a glistening secretion gave the hide, in the sunshine, a very peculiar
aspect. When the animal was younger, the secretion had a reddish colour,
and the whole surface of the hide became painted over with it every time
he quitted his bath.

The ears, which were very short, conical, and fringed with hairs, it
moved about with much vivacity. The skin around them was of a light
reddish-brown colour, and almost flesh-coloured round the eyelids,
which defended the prominent eyes, which had a few short hairs on the
margin of the upper lid. The colour of the iris was of a dark brown. The
nostrils, situated on prominences, which the animal had the power of
raising on the upper part of the broad and massive muzzle, were short
oblique slits, guarded by two valves, which were opened and closed
spontaneously, like the eyelids. The movements of these apertures were
most conspicuous when the beast was in the bath.

The wide mouth was chiefly remarkable for the upward curve of its angles
towards the eyes, giving a quaintly comic expression to the massive
countenance. The short and small milk-tusks projected a little, and the
minute incisors appeared to be sunk in pits of the thick gums; but the
animal would not permit any close examination of the teeth, withdrawing
his head from the attempt, and then threatening to bite. The muzzle was
beset with short bristles, split into tufts or pencils of hairs; and
fine and short hairs were scattered all over the back and sides. The
tail was not long, rather flattened and tapering to an obtuse point.

We may here observe that, at certain moments, the whole aspect of the
head suggested to one the idea of what may have been the semblance of
some of the gigantic extinct Batrachians (as sirens), the relics of a
former world, whose fossil bones in the galleries of Palæontology in the
British Museum excite our special wonder.

After lying about an hour, now and then raising its head, and swivelling
its eyeballs towards the keeper, or playfully opening its huge mouth,
and threatening to bite the leg of the chair on which the keeper sat,
the Hippopotamus rose, and walked very slowly about its room, and
then uttered a loud and short harsh snort four or five times in quick
succession, reminding one of the snort of a horse, and ending with an
explosive sound, like a bark. The keeper understood the language--the
animal desired to return to its bath.

The Hippopotamus carried its head rather depressed, reminding one of
a large prize hog, but with a breadth of muzzle and other features
peculiarly its own. The keeper opened the door leading into a paddock,
and walked thence to the bath, the Hippopotamus following, like a dog,
close to his heels. On arriving at the bath-room, the animal descended
with some deliberation the flight of low steps leading into the water,
stooped and drank a little, dipped his head under, and then plunged
forwards. The creature seemed inspired with new life and activity.
Sinking to the bottom of the bath, and moving about submerged for a
while, it suddenly rose with a bound almost bodily out of the water.
Splashing back, it commenced swimming and plunging about, rolling from
side to side, taking in mouthfuls of water and spirting them out again,
raising every now and then its huge and grotesque head, and biting the
woodwork of the margin of the bath. The broad rounded back of the animal
being now chiefly in view, it seemed a much larger object than when out
of the water.

After half an hour spent in this amusement, the Hippopotamus quitted
the water at the call of its keeper, and followed him back to the
sleeping-room, which was well bedded with straw, and where a stuffed
sack was provided for its pillow, of which the animal, having a very
short neck, thicker than the head, availed itself when it slept. When
awake, it was very impatient of any absence of its favourite attendant.
It would rise on its hind legs, and threaten to break down the wooden
fence, by butting and pushing against it in a way very significant of
its great muscular force. The animal appeared to be in perfect health,
and breathed, when at rest, slowly and regularly, from three to four
times in a minute. Its food was now a kind of porridge, of milk and
maize-meat, it being more than half weaned from milk diet. Its appetite
had been in no respect diminished by the confinement and inconvenience
of the sea voyage, or by change of climate. All observers appear to
have agreed that, to see the Hippopotamus rightly, is to see him in
the water. There his activity is only surpassed by that of the otter
or the seal. Such was one of the opportunities afforded to zoologists
for "studying this most remarkable and interesting African mammal, of
which no living specimen had been seen in Europe since the period when
Hippopotami were last exhibited by the third Gordian in the amphitheatre
of imperial Rome."[7]

It is now time to glance at the general economy of the Hippopotamus, as
he is seen in his native rivers and wilds. In early days, as his Roman
name imports, it was usual to consider him as a species of horse,
inhabiting rivers and marshy grounds, and, in a more especial manner,
the denizen of the Nile. The genus is placed by Linnæus among his
_belluæ_, between _equus_ and _sus_. The skeleton approaches that of the
ox and of the hog, but it presents differences from that of any other

The Hippopotamus is found not only in the Nile, but in the rivers of
southern Africa. In the former stream of marvels, Hasselquist relates
that "the oftener the River Horse goes on shore, the better hope have
the Egyptians of a sufficient swelling or increase of the Nile." Again,
they say that the River Horse is an inveterate enemy to the crocodile,
and kills it whenever he meets it; adding that he does much damage to
the Egyptians in those places he frequents. He goes on shore, and, in
a short space of time, destroys an entire field of corn or clover, not
leaving the least verdure, for he is very voracious.

Yet neither of these stories is so marvellous as that which a sailor
related to Dampier, the old traveller:--"I have seen," says the mariner,
"one of these animals open its jaws, and, seizing a boat between its
teeth, at one bite sink it to the bottom. I have seen it, on another
occasion, place itself under one of our boats, and, rising under it,
overset it with six men who were in it, but who, however, happily
received no other injury."

Professor Smith and Captain Tuckey, in exploring the Congo River, in
South Africa, saw in a beautiful sandy cove, at the opening of a creek,
behind a long projecting point, an immense number of Hippopotami;
and in the evening a number of alligators were also seen there; an
association hardly consistent with the hostility related by Hasselquist.

Captain Tuckey observed Hippopotami with their heads above the water,
"snorting in the air." In another part of his narrative he says:--"Many
Hippopotami were visible close to our tents at Condo Yanga. No use
firing at these animals in the water; the only way is to wait till they
come on shore to feed at night."

Le Vaillant had an opportunity of watching the progress of a
Hippopotamus under water at Great River, which contained many of these
animals. On all sides he could hear them bellow and blow. Anxious to
observe them, he mounted on the top of an elevated rock which advanced
into the river, and he saw one walking at the bottom of the water. Le
Vaillant killed it at the moment when it came to the surface to breathe.
It was a very old female, and many people, in their surprise, and to
express its size, called it the Grandmother of the River.

The traveller Lander tells us that, on the Niger. Hippopotami are
termed water-elephants. One stormy night, as they were sailing up this
unexplored current, they fell in with great numbers of Hippopotami, who
came plashing, snorting, and plunging all round the canoe. Thinking
to frighten them off, the travellers fired a shot or two at them, but
the noise only called up from the water and out of the fens about as
many more Hippopotami, and they were more closely beset than before.
Lander's people, who had never, in all their lives, been exposed to
such formidable beasts, trembled with fear, and absolutely wept aloud;
whilst peals of thunder rattled over their heads, and the most vivid
lightning showed the terrifying scene. Hippopotami frequently upset
canoes in the river. When the Landers fired, every one of them came
to the surface of the water, and pursued them over to the north bank.
A second firing was followed by a loud roaring noise. However, the
Hippopotami did the travellers no kind of mischief whatever.

Captain Gordon, when among the Bakalahari, in South Africa, bagged no
fewer than fifteen first-rate Hippopotami; the greater number of them
being bulls.

In 1828, there was brought to England the head of a Hippopotamus, with
all the flesh about it, in high preservation. The animal was harpooned
while in combat with a crocodile in a lake in the interior of Africa.
The head measured nearly four feet in length, and eight feet in
circumference; the jaws opened two feet, and the cutting teeth, of which
it had four in each jaw, were above a foot long, and four inches in

The utility of this vast pachydermatous, or thick-skinned animal, to man
is considerable. That he can be destructive has already been shown in
his clearance of the cultivated banks of rivers. The enormous ripping,
chisel-like teeth of the lower jaw fit him for uprooting. The ancient
Egyptians held the animal as an emblem of power, though this may have
arisen from his reputed destruction of the crocodile. The flesh is much
esteemed for food, both among the natives and colonists of South Africa.
The blood of the animal is said to have been used by the old Indian
painters in mixing their colours. The skin is extensively employed for
making whips.

But there is no part of the Hippopotamus more in request than the great
canine teeth, the ivory of which is so highly valued by dentists for
making artificial teeth, on account of its keeping its colour better
than any other kind. This superiority was not unknown to the ancients
Pausanias mentions the statue of Dindymene, whose face was formed of the
teeth of Hippopotami, instead of elephants' ivory. The canine teeth are
imported in great numbers into England, and sell at a very high price.
From the closeness of the ivory, the weight of the teeth, a part only of
which is available for the artificial purpose above mentioned, is great
in proportion to its bulk; and the article has fetched about thirty
shillings per pound.

The ancient history of the Hippopotamus is extremely curious, and
we have many representations of him in coins, in sculpture, and in
paintings, which prove, beyond question, that the artists, as well as
the writers, had a distinct knowledge of what they intended to represent.

The earliest notice which occurs in any author, and which has been
considered by many to be a description of the Hippopotamus, is the
celebrated account in the fortieth and forty-first chapter of the Book
of Job of Behemoth and Leviathan. Many learned men have contended that
"Behemoth" really means "Elephant," and thus the Zurich version of the
Bible translates the Hebrew by "Elephas."

In the edition of the English Bible, printed by Robert Barker, in 1615,
for King James I., and since considered as the authorised version, the
word "Behemoth" is preserved in the text, and the following annotation
is added:--"This beast is thought to bee the Elephant, or some other
which is unknowen." Bochart, Ludolph, and some others, have contended
warmly in favour of the Hippopotamus. Cuvier thinks, that though this
animal is probably intended, yet that the description is too vague for
any one to hold a certain opinion on the subject. The theory started by
Bochart, and in the main supported by Cuvier, is generally supposed the
real one. The description in the Book of Job, though doubtless vague,
and in the highest degree poetical, has yet sufficient marks to render
the identification perfectly easy, while there are certain peculiarities
mentioned, which even a poetical imagination could hardly apply to the
Elephant. Thus, when it is said of him, "He lieth under the shady trees,
in the desert of the reed and fens; ... the willows of the brook compass
him round about," this would seem to be the description of an animal
which frequented the water much more than Elephants are accustomed to
do. Again, in the fuller description of "Leviathan," in the forty-first
chapter, we think it is quite clear that a water animal is intended,
though what is there stated might be held to apply to the crocodile
as well as the Hippopotamus; both are animals remarkable for extreme
toughness of skin, and both are almost equally difficult to kill or to
take alive.

Of profane authors, Herodotus is the first who notices this animal,
but his account is far from accurate: the size he states as large as
the biggest ox. That the animal was sacred, in some parts at least,
appears from Herodotus, who says:--"Those which are found in the
district of Paprennis are sacred, but in other parts of Egypt they are
not considered in the same light." Aristotle makes it no bigger than
an ass; Diodorus, an elephant; Pliny ascribes to it the tail and teeth
of a boar, adding, that helmets and bucklers are made of the skin.
Hippopotami figured in the triumphal processions of the Roman conquerors
on their return home. M. Scaurus exhibited five crocodiles and an
Hippopotamus; and Augustus one in his triumph over Cleopatra. Antoninus
exhibited Hippopotami, with lions and other animals; Commodus no less
than five, some of which he slew with his own hand. Heliogabalus, and
the third Gordian, also exhibited Hippopotami.

The Hippopotamus of the London Zoological Society was joined by his
mate, the more juvenile "Adhela," in 1853. Two Hippopotami have lately
been born in Europe; one in the Garden of Plants, at Paris, in 1858; and
another in the Zoological Gardens at Amsterdam, in 1866.

With regard to the alleged disappearance of the Hippopotamus from Lower
Egypt, Cuvier remarks, that the French savans attached to the Expedition
to Egypt, who ascended the Nile above Syene, did not meet with one.

In some of the rivers of Liberia, and other parts, perhaps, of Western
Africa, a second species of Hippopotamus exists, and is proved to be a
very distinct animal.

We have yet to glance at the Hippopotami of a former world. Many
species are recognised in the fossil remains of Europe and Asia as
formerly existing in England and in France. Cuvier detected bones of the
Hippopotamus among the fossil wealth of the Great Kirkdale Cavern in
Yorkshire, in 1821. They have also been found in France, and especially
in the Sewatick Hills in India.

In the Museum of the London Zoological Society are two skulls of
Hippopotami--one fossil. This measures two feet three inches, and
allowing for skin and lip, two feet six inches. Now, as the head is
about one-fifth the length of the body, without the tail, the full-grown
animal would be little, if any, short of fifteen feet from nose to
tail--a size worthy the description of the Behemoth.

We may here add, that Burckhardt, in his "Travels in Nubia," describes
the voice of the Hippopotamus as a hard and heavy sound, like the
creaking or groaning of a large wooden door. This noise, he says, is
made when the animal raises his huge head out of the water, and when he
retires into it again.


[7] Professor Owen.


The Lion has, within the present century, lost caste, and fallen
considerably from his high estate. He has been stripped of much of his
conventional reputation by the spirit of inquiry into the validity of
olden notions, which characterises the present age; and it appears that
much of his celebrity is founded upon popular error. Nor are these
results the work of stay-at-home travellers; but they are derived from
the observation and experience of those who, amidst scenes of perilous
adventure, seek to enlarge and correct our views of the habit and
character of the overrated Lion.

Mr. Bennett, in his admirable work, "The Tower Menagerie," has these
very sensible remarks:--"In speaking of the Lion we call up to our
imaginations the splendid picture of might unmingled with ferocity, of
courage undebased by guile, of dignity tempered by grace and ennobled by
generosity. Such is the Lion of Buffon; who, in describing this animal,
as in too many other instances, has suffered himself to be borne along
by the strong tide of popular opinion; but, as the Lion appears in his
native regions, according to the authentic accounts of those travellers
and naturalists who have had the best means of correctly observing his
habits, he is by no means so admirable a creature. Where the timid
antelope and powerless monkey fall his easy and unresisting prey--or
where the elephant and buffalo find their unwieldy bulk and strength no
adequate protection against his impetuous agility--he stalks boldly to
and fro in fearless majesty. But in the neighbourhood of man--even in
that of uncultivated savages--_he skulks in treacherous ambush for his
prey_. Of his forbearance and generosity it can merely be said, that
when free, he destroys only what is sufficient to satiate his hunger or
revenge; and when in captivity--his wants being provided for, and his
feelings not irritated--he suffers smaller animals to live unmolested in
his den, or submits to the control of a keeper by whom he is fed. But
even this limited degree of docility is liable to fearful interruptions
from the calls of hunger, the feelings of revenge--and these he
frequently cherishes for a long period--with various other circumstances
which render it dangerous to approach him in his most domesticated
state, without ascertaining his immediate mood and temper. That an
animal which seldom attacks by open force, but silently approaches his
victim, and when he imagines his prey to be within his reach, bounds
upon it with an overwhelming leap, should ever have been regarded as
the type of courage and the emblem of magnanimity, is indeed most

The generosity of disposition so liberally accorded to this powerful
beast has been much and eloquently praised; and it seems hard to
dissipate the glowing vision which Buffon has raised; but, if there is
any dependence to be placed on the observations of those travellers
who have had the best opportunities of judging, and have the highest
character for veracity, we must be compelled to acknowledge that
Buffon's Lion is the Lion of poetry and prejudice, and very unlike the
cautious lurking savage that steals on its comparatively weak prey by
surprise, overwhelms it at once by the terror, the weight, and the
violence of the attack, and is intent only on the gratification of the
appetite. "At the time," says Mr. Burchell, "when men first adopted the
Lion as the emblem of courage, it would seem that they regarded great
size and strength as indicating it; but they were greatly mistaken
in the character they had given of the indolent animal." Indeed, Mr.
Burchell calls the Lion an "indolent skulking animal." The fact of the
Lion sparing the dog that was thrown to him, and making a friend of the
little animal that was destined for his prey, has been much dwelt on;
but these and other such acts of mercy, as they have been called, may
be very easily accounted for. If not pressed by hunger, the Lion will
seldom be at the trouble of killing prey; and the desire for a companion
has created much stronger friendships between animals in confinement
than between a Lion and a little dog. St. Pierre touchingly describes
the Lion of Versailles, who, in 1792, lived most happily with a dog, and
on whose death he became disconsolate and miserable; and in confinement
the "lordly Lion," as Young calls him, has been known to be deeply
afflicted with melancholy at similar losses.

The Lion is easily tamed, and capable of attachment to man. The story of
Androdas, frequently called Androcles, is too well known to need more
than allusion; but in this and other stories of Lions licking men's
hands without injuring them, there must be a stretch of fancy; for the
Lion's tongue has sharp thorn-points, inclining backwards, so as not to
be able to lick the hand without tearing away the skin, which any one
will understand who has _heard_ the Lion tear the raw meat away from the
bone of his food.

Still, very different accounts are given by travellers of the cruelty or
generosity of the Lion's nature; which results, in all probability, from
a difference in time or circumstances, or the degree of hunger which the
individual experienced when the respective observations were made upon

Meanwhile, there are many points in the history of the Lion which are
yet but imperfectly understood; the explanations of which, whilst
they are interesting, add to our correct knowledge of this still
extraordinary animal.

The Lion has been styled "The King of the Forest," which is not very
applicable to him, seeing that Mr. Burchell at least never met with
but one Lion on the plains; nor did he ever meet with one in any of
the forests where he had been. The low cover that creeps along the
sides of streams, the patches that mark the springs in the rank grass
of the valley, seem to be the shelter which the African Lion, for the
most part, seeks. His strength is extraordinary. To carry off a man
(and there are dismal accounts of this horrible fact, which there is no
reason to doubt) appears a feat of no difficulty to this powerful brute.
A Cape Lion, seizing a heifer in his mouth, has carried her off with the
same ease as a cat does a rat; and has leaped with her over a broad dyke
without the least difficulty. A young Lion, too, has conveyed a horse
about a mile from the spot where he had killed it.

There seems to be an idea that the Lion preserves human prey; but, be
this as it may, the inhabitants of certain districts have been under the
necessity of resorting to a curious expedient to get out of the Lion's
reach. Ælian, by the way, records the extinction of a Libyan people by
an invasion of Lions. We read of a large tree, in the country of the
Mantatees, which has amidst its limbs fourteen conical huts. These are
used as dormitories, being beyond the reach of the Lions, which, since
the incursions of the Mantatees, when so many thousands of persons
were massacred, have become very numerous in the neighbourhood, and
destructive to human life. The branches of the above trees are supported
by forked sticks or poles, and there are three tiers or platforms
on which the huts are constructed. The lowest is nine feet from the
ground, and holds ten huts; the second, about eight feet high, has
three huts; and the upper story, if it may be so called, contains four.
The ascent to these is made by notches cut in the poles; the huts are
built with twigs, and thatched with straw, and will contain two persons
conveniently. This tree stands at the base of a range of mountains due
east of Kurrichaine, in a place called "Ongorutcie Fountain," about
1,000 miles north-east of Cape Town. Kurrichaine is the Staffordshire as
well as the Birmingham of that part of South Africa. There are likewise
whole villages of huts erected on stakes, about eight feet from the
ground; the inhabitants, it is stated, sit under the shade of these
platforms during the day, and retire to the elevated huts at night.

Though mortal accidents frequently occur in Lion-hunting, the cool
sportsman seldom fails of using his rifle with effect. Lions, when
roused, it seems, walk off quietly at first, and if no cover is near,
and they are not pursued, they gradually mend their pace to a trot,
till they have reached a good distance, and then they bound away. Their
demeanour is careless, as if they did not want a fray, but if pressed,
are ready to fight it out. If they are pursued closely, they turn and
crouch, generally with their faces to the adversary: then the nerves of
the sportsman are tried. If he is collected, and master of his craft,
the well-directed rifle ends the scene at once; but if, in the flutter
of the moment, the vital parts are missed, or the ball passes by,
leaving the Lion unhurt, the infuriated beast frequently charges on his
enemies, dealing destruction around him. This, however, is not always
the case; and a steady, unshrinking deportment has, in some instances,
saved the life of the hunter.

There is hardly a book of African travels which does not teem with the
dangers and hair-breadth escapes of the Lion-hunters; and hardly one
that does not include a fatal issue to some engaged in this hazardous
sport. The modes of destruction employed against the powerful beast are
very various--from the poisonous arrow of the Bushman to the rifle of
the colonist.

The Lion may be safely attacked while sleeping, because of the dullness
of his sense of hearing, the difficulty of awakening him, and his want
of presence of mind if he be so awakened. Thus the Bushmen of Africa
are enabled to keep the country tolerably clear of Lions, without
encountering any great danger. The bone of the Lion's fore-leg is of
remarkable hardness, from its containing a greater quantity of phosphate
of lime than is found in ordinary bones, so that it may resist the
powerful contraction of the muscles. The texture of this bone is so
compact that the substance will strike fire with steel. He has little
sense of taste, his lingual or tongue-nerve not being larger than that
of a middle-sized dog.

The true Lions belong to the Old World exclusively, and they were
formerly widely and abundantly diffused; but at present they are
confined to Asia and Africa, and they are becoming every day more and
more scarce in those quarters of the globe. That Lions were once found
in Europe there can be no doubt. Thus it is recorded by Herodotus that
the baggage-camels of the army of Xerxes were attacked by Lions in the
country of the Reonians and the Crestonæi on their march from Acanthus
(near the peninsula of Mount Athos) to Therma, afterwards Thessalonica
(now Saloniki); the camels alone, it is stated, were attacked, other
beasts remaining untouched, as well as men. Pausanias copies the above
story, and states, moreover, that Lions often descended into the plains
at the foot of Olympus, which separate Macedonia from Thessaly, and that
Polydamas, a celebrated athlete, slew one of the Lions, although he was

Nor is Europe the only part of the world from which the form of the Lion
has disappeared. Lions are no longer to be found in Egypt, Palestine,
or Syria, where they once were evidently far from uncommon. The
frequent allusions to the Lion in the Holy Scriptures, and the various
Hebrew terms there used to distinguish the different ages and sex of
the animal, prove a familiarity with the habits of the race. Even in
Asia generally, with the exception of some countries between India and
Persia and some districts of Arabia, these magnificent beasts have,
as Cuvier observes, become comparatively rare, and this is not to be
wondered at. To say nothing of the immense draughts on the race for
the Roman arena,--and they were not inconsiderable, for, as Zimmerman
has shown, there were 1,000 lions killed at Rome in the space of forty
years,--population and civilization have gradually driven them within
narrower limits, and their destruction has been rapidly worked in
modern times, when firearms have been used against them instead of the
bow and the spear. Sylla gave a combat of one hundred Lions at once in
his ædileship; but this exhibition is insignificant when compared with
those of Pompey and Cæsar, the former of whom exhibited a fight of six
hundred, and the latter of four hundred Lions. In Pompey's show three
hundred and fifteen of the six hundred were males. The early Emperors
consumed great numbers, frequently a hundred at a time, to gratify the

The African Lion is annually retiring before the persecution of man
farther and farther from the Cape. Mr. Bennett says of the Lion:--"His
true country is Africa, in the vast and untrodden wilds of which, from
the immense deserts of the north to the trackless forests of the south,
he reigns supreme and uncontrolled. In the sandy deserts of Arabia,
in some of the wild districts of Persia, and in the vast jungles of
Hindostan, he still maintains a precarious footing; but from the classic
soil of Greece, as well as from the whole of Asia Minor, both of which
were once exposed to his ravages, he has been entirely dislodged and

Niebuhr places Lions among the animals of Arabia; but their proper
country is Africa, where their size is the largest, their numbers
are greatest, and their rage more tremendous, being inflamed by the
influence of a burning sun upon a most arid soil. Dr. Fryer says that
those of India are feeble and cowardly. In the interior parts, amidst
the scorched and desolate deserts of Zaara or Biledugerid, they reign
the masters; they lord it over every beast, and their courage never
meets with a check where the climate keeps mankind at a distance. The
nearer they approach the habitations of the human race the less their
rage, or rather the greater is their timidity: they have often had
experienced unequal combats, and finding that there exists a being
superior to themselves, commit their ravages with more caution; a cooler
climate, again, has the same effect, but in the burning deserts, where
rivers and springs are denied, they live in a perpetual fever, a sort of
madness fatal to every animal they meet with.

The watchfulness and tenacity of the Lion for human prey are very
extraordinary. Mr. Barrow relates that a Lion once pursued a Hottentot
from a pool of water, where he was driving his cattle to drink, to an
olive-tree, in which the man remained for twenty-four hours, while the
Lion laid himself at the foot of the tree. The patience of the beast was
at length worn out by his desire to drink, and while he satisfied his
thirst the Hottentot fled to his house, about a mile off. The Lion,
however, returned to the tree, and tracked the man within three hundred
yards of his dwelling.

Dr. Philip relates a horrible story of a very large Lion recorded at
Cape Town in the year 1705. He was known to have seized a sentry at a
tent, and was pursued and fired at by many persons without effect. Next
morning the Lion walked up a hill _with the man in his mouth_, when
about forty shots were fired at him without hitting him; and it was
perceived by the blood, and a piece of the clothes of the sentry, that
the Lion had taken him away and carried him with him. He was pursued
by a band of Hottentots, one of whom he seized with his claws by the
mantle, when the man stabbed him with an assagai. Other Hottentots
adorned him with their assagais, so that he looked like a porcupine; he
roared and leaped furiously, but was at length shot dead. He had a short
time before carried off a Hottentot and devoured him.

The Bengal or Asiatic Lion is distinguished from that of Southern Africa
principally by the larger size, the more regular and graceful form, the
generally darker colour, and the less extensive mane than the African.
William Harvey, the graceful artist, drew a portrait of a very fine
Bengal Lion, little more than five years old, and then in the Tower
collection, and called by the keepers "the Old Lion;" the magnificent
development of the mane is very striking in this figure.

Maneless Lions have been found on the confines of Arabia, and were
known to Aristotle and Pliny; a maneless Lion is also said to be
represented on the monuments of Upper Egypt. The Lion of Arabia has
neither the courage nor the stature, nor even the beauty, of the Lion of
Africa. He uses cunning rather than force; he crouches among the reeds
which border the Tigris and Euphrates, and springs upon all the feeble
animals which come there to quench their thirst; but he dares not attack
the boar, which is very common there, and flies as soon as he perceives
a man, a woman, or even a child. If he catches a sheep he makes off
with his prey; but he abandons it to save himself when an Arab looks
after him. If he is hunted by horsemen, which often happens, he does
not defend himself unless he is wounded, and has no hope of safety by
flight. In such a case he will fly on a man and tear him to pieces with
his claws, for it is courage more than strength that he wants. Achmed,
Pasha of Bagdad from 1724 to 1747, would have been torn by one, after
breaking his lance in a hunt, if his slave Suleiman, who succeeded him
in the Pashalik, had not come promptly to his succour and pierced with a
blow of his yataghan the Lion already wounded by his master.

In December, 1833, Captain Walter Smee exhibited to the Zoological
Society of London the skins of a Lion and Lioness killed by him in
Guzerat, and distinguished from those previously known by the absence
of a mane; the tail was shorter than that of the ordinary Lion, and
furnished at its tip with a much larger brush or tuft; and in the
tuft of the older Lion was a short horny claw or nail. The colour is
fulvous; which in darker specimens has a tinge of red. A male maneless
Lion, killed by Captain Smee, measured, including the tail, 8 feet
9-1/2 inches in length; the impression of his paw on the sand 6-1/4
inches across, and his height was 3 feet 6 inches. These maneless Lions
are found in Guzerat, along the banks of the Sombermultee, in low,
bushy-wooded plains, being driven out of the large adjoining tracts of
high grass jungle by the natives annually setting fire to the grass.
Here Captain Smee killed his finest specimens: they were so common in
this district that he killed no fewer than eleven during a residence of
about a month, yet scarcely any of the natives had seen them previously
to his coming amongst them. The cattle were frequently carried off by
these Lions: some natives attributed this to tigers, which, however,
do not exist in this part of the country. Captain Smee could not learn
that men had been attacked by these Lions: when struck by a ball they
exhibited great boldness, standing as if preparing to resist their
pursuers, and then going off slowly, and in a very sullen manner.

In captivity the Lioness usually turns extremely savage when she becomes
a mother; and, in a state of nature, both parents guard their young
with the greatest jealousy. Early in the year 1823 General Watson, then
on service in Bengal, being out one morning on horseback, armed with
a double-barrelled rifle, was suddenly surprised by a large male Lion,
which bounded out upon him from the thick jungle, at the distance of
only a few yards. He instantly fired, and the shot taking complete
effect, the animal fell almost dead at his feet. No sooner had the Lion
fallen than the Lioness rushed out, which the General also shot at and
wounded severely, so that she retired into the thicket. Thinking that
the den could not be far distant, he traced her to her retreat, and
there despatched her; and in the den were found two beautiful cubs, a
male and a female, apparently not more than three months old. This is a
very touching narrative, even of the Lion family.

The General brought the cubs away; they were suckled by a goat and
sent to England, where they arrived in September, 1823, as a present
to George IV., and were lodged in the Tower. When young, Lions mew
like a cat; at the age of ten or twelve months the mane begins to
appear in the male; at the age of eighteen months this appendage is
considerably developed, and they begin to roar. The _roar_ of the adult
Lion is terrific, from the larynx or upper part of the wind-pipe being
proportionately greater than in the whale or the elephant, or any other
animal. Mr. Burchell describes the roar on some occasions to resemble
the noise of an earthquake; and this terrific effect is produced by
the Lion laying his head upon the ground and uttering, as it were, a
half-stifled roar or growl, which is conveyed along the earth.

The natural period of the Lion's life is generally supposed to be twenty
or twenty-two years. Such is Buffon's limitation; but the animal will,
it seems, live much longer. Pompey, the great Lion, which died in 1766,
was said to have been in the Tower above seventy years; and a Lion from
the river Gambia is stated to have since died in the Tower menagerie at
the age of sixty-three.

There had been for ages a popular belief that the Lion lashes his sides
with his tail to stimulate himself into rage; when, in 1832, there was
exhibited to the Zoological Society a claw obtained from the tip of
the tail of a Barbary Lion, presented to the Society's menagerie by
Sir Thomas Reade. It was detected on the living animal by Mr. Bennett,
and pointed out to the keeper, in whose hands it came off while he
was examining it. Blumenbach quotes Homer, Lucan, and Pliny, among
others who have described the Lion (erroneously) as lashing himself
with his tail, when angry, to provoke his rage. None of these writers,
however, advert to any peculiarity in the Lion's tail to which so
extraordinary a function might, however incorrectly, be attributed.
Didymus Alexandrinus, a commentator on the "Iliad," cited by Blumenbach,
having found a black prickle, like a horn, among the hair of the tail,
immediately conjectured that he had ascertained the true cause of the
stimulus when the animal flourishes his tail in defiance of his enemies,
remarking that, when punctured by this prickle, the Lion became more
irritable from the pain which it occasioned. The subject, however,
appears to have slumbered till 1829, when M. Deshayes announced that
he had found the prickle both of a Lion and Lioness, which had died
in the French menagerie, and described it as a little nail, or horny
production, adhering by its base only to the skin, and not to the last
caudal vertebra. From that period Mr. Wood, the able zoologist, examined
the tail of every Lion, living or dead, to which he could gain access;
but in no instance had he succeeded in finding the prickle till the
above specimen, which was placed in his hands within half an hour after
its removal from the living animal, and while yet soft at its base,
where it had been attached to the skin. Its shape was nearly straight,
then slightly contracted, forming a very obtuse angle, and afterwards
swelling out like the bulb of a bristle, to its termination. It was
laterally flattened throughout its entire length, which did not amount
to quite three-eighths of an inch, of horn colour, and nearly black at
the tip. Its connexion with the skin must have been very slight, which
accounts for its usual absence in stuffed as well as living specimens.
This does not depend upon age, as it was found alike in the Paris Lions,
of considerable size, as well as in the Zoological Society's Lions,
very small and young; nor did it depend upon sex. It appears to be
occasionally present in the Leopard; and, in both Lion and Leopard, it
is seated at the extreme tip of the tail, and is altogether unconnected
with the terminal caudal vertebra; not fitted on like a cap, but rather
inserted into the skin.

The use of the prickle, however, it still remained difficult to
conjecture; but that its existence was known to the ancients is proved
by the Nimroud sculptures in the British Museum, in an exaggerated
representation of the claw, in support of this curious fact in natural
history. The existence of the claw has been proved by Mr. Bennett;
and "it is no small gratification to be able now to quote in evidence
of the statement of Mr. Bennett, and of his predecessor. Didymus, of
Alexandria, the original and authentic document, on the authority of the
veritable descendants of the renowned hunter Nimroud; which any one may
read who will take the trouble to examine the sculptured slab in the
British Museum."[8]

In the Nineveh galleries of the British Museum we also see pictured in
stone the employment of the Lion, in the life of Assyria and Babylonia,
three thousand years since; in the events of a succession of dynasties,
recording the sieges of cities, the combats of warriors, the triumphs
of Kings, the processions of victors, the chains and fetters of the
vanquished. To the zoological observer these sculptures present drawings
_ad naturam_ of tableaux of Lions and Lion-hunts; Lions in combat, as
well as in moveable dens and cages, and the ferocity of the chase; and
Lions transfixed with arrows or javelins in the arena. One of the finest
of these sculptures is in the representation of a Lion-hunt, on a long
slab that lined the principal chamber of the most ancient palace at
Nimroud. The King is in his chariot, drawn by three horses, which the
charioteer is urging forward to escape the attack of an infuriated Lion
that has already placed its fore-paws upon the back of the chariot. At
this critical moment, the Royal descendant of the mighty hunter aims a
deadly shaft at the head of the roaring and wounded Lion, the position
of whose tail and limbs is finely indicative of rage and fury. Behind
the Lion are two of the King's attendants, fully armed, and holding
their daggers and shields, ready to defend themselves in case the prey
should escape the arrow of the King. Before the chariot is a wounded
Lion, crawling from under the horses' feet. The cringing agony conveyed
in its entire action is well contrasted with the undaunted fury of the
former. In another slab we have the continuation of the same Lion-hunt,
representing the triumphant return of the King from the chase. At his
feet lies the Lion subdued, but not dead.

Of the pageantry of the Lion, we read, in Bell's "Travels," that the
monarch of Persia had, on days of audience, two great Lions chained on
each side of the passage to the state-room, led there by keepers in
golden chains.

Our early English Sovereigns had a menagerie in the Tower from the reign
of Henry III. (1252.) In 1370 (44 Edward III.) are entries of payments
made to "the Keeper of the King's Lions and Leopards" there, at the
rate of 6_d._ a-day for his wages, and 6_d._ a-day for each beast.
The number of beasts varied from four to seven. Two young Lions are
specially mentioned; and "a Lion lately sent by the Lord the Prince,
from Germany to England, to our Lord the King." And we read, in Lord
Burghley's "Diary," 1586, of the grant of the keeping of the Lions in
the Tower, with "the Fine of 12_d._ per diem, and 6_d._ for the Meat of
those Lions." The first menagerie-building was the Lion Tower, to which
was added a semicircular inclosure, where Lions and Bears were baited
with dogs, with which James I. and his court were much delighted. A
Lion was named after the reigning King; and it was popularly believed
that "when the King dies, the Lion of that name dies after him." The
last of the Tower animals were transferred to the Zoological Society's
menagerie, in the Regent's-park, in 1834. The Tower menagerie is well
described in a handsome volume, with woodcut portraits, by William

The punishment of being _thrown to Lions_ is stated as common among the
Romans of the first century; and numerous tales are extant, in which the
fierce animals became meek and lamb-like before the holy virgins of the
Church. This, indeed, is the origin of the superstition, nowhere more
beautifully expressed than in Lord Byron's "Siege of Corinth":--

    "'Tis said that a Lion will turn and flee
    From a maid in the pride of her purity."

Every wild beast show almost has its tame Lion, with which the keeper
takes the greatest liberties; liberties which the beast will suffer,
generally speaking, from none but him. Major Smith relates that he
had seen the keeper of a Lioness stand upon the beast, drag her round
the cage by her tail, open her jaws, and thrust his head between her
teeth. Another keeper, at New York, had provided himself with a fur cap,
the novelty of which attracted the notice of the Lion, which, making
a sudden grapple, tore the cap off his head as he passed the cage;
but, perceiving that the keeper was the person whose head he had thus
uncovered, he immediately laid the cap down. Wombwell, in his menagerie,
had a fine Lion, Nero, that allowed _strangers_ to enter his den, and
even put their heads within his jaws. This tameness is not, however, to
be trusted, since the natural ferocity of some Lions is never safely
subdued. Lions which have been sometimes familiar, have, on other
occasions, been known to kill their keepers, and dart at those who have
incautiously approached too near their cage. All these exhibitions have
been entirely eclipsed by the feats of Van Amburgh, in his exercise of
complete control over Lions. The melancholy fate of "the Lion Queen,"
however, tells of the fatal result of her confidence. The Lion-killing
feats of Captain Gordon Cumming had a more legitimate object in view--to
render us more familiar with the zoological character of the Lion.

Colonization has scarcely yet extirpated the Lion in Algeria, where the
French colonists make fine sport of "the King of the Beasts." M. Jules
Gerard, a Nimroud in his way, has been noted for his Lion-killing feats.
We read of his tracking a large old Lion in the Smauls country, one
hundred leagues in ten days, without catching a glimpse of anything but
his foot-prints. At length, accompanied by a native of the country and a
spahi, Gerard took up his quarters at the foot of a tree upon the path
which the old Lion had taken. It was moonlight, and Gerard made out two
Lions sitting about one hundred paces off, and exactly in the shadow of
the tree. The Arab lay snoring ten paces off, in the full light of the
moon, and had, doubtless, attracted the attention of the Lions. Gerard
expressly forbade the spahi to wake the Arab. Our Lion-hunter then got
up the hill to reconnoitre; the boldest of the Lions came up to within
ten paces of Gerard, and fifteen of the Arab: the Lion's eye was fixed
on the latter, and the second Lion placed himself on a level with, and
four or five paces from, the first. They proved to be both full-grown
Lionesses. Gerard took aim at the first as she came rolling and roaring
down to the foot of the tree. The Arab was scarcely awakened, when a
second ball stretched the Lioness dead upon the spot. Gerard then looked
out for the second Lioness, who was standing up within fifteen paces,
looking around her. He fired, and she fell down roaring, and disappeared
in a field of maize; she fell, but was still alive. Next morning at
daybreak, at the spot where the Lioness had fallen, were blood marks,
denoting her track in the direction of a wood. After sending off the
dead Lioness. Gerard returned to his post of the preceding night. A
little after sunset the Lion roared in his lair, and continued roaring
all night. Convinced that the wounded Lioness was there, Gerard sent two
Arabs to explore the cover, but they durst not. He next evening reached
the lair, taking with him a goat, which he left with the Arabs: the
Lioness appeared. Gerard fired, and she fell without a struggle; she was
believed dead, but she got up again as though nothing was the matter,
and showed all her teeth. One of the Arabs, within six paces of her,
seeing her get up, clung to the lower branches of a tree and disappeared
like a squirrel. The Lioness fell dead at the foot of the tree, a second
bullet piercing her heart: the first had passed out of the nape of the
neck without breaking the skull-bone.

The Lions presented by Lord Prudhoe to the British Museum are the best
sculptured representations of the animal in this country. Although the
Lion is our national hieroglyphic, and there are many statues of him,
yet not one among them all appears without a defect, which makes our
representations of him belong to the class _canis_ instead of _felis_, a
fault not found in any Egyptian sculpture.[9]


[8] Bonomi; "Nineveh and its Palaces," p. 249.

[9] Bonomi; "Proc. Royal Soc., Literature."


     "Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they
     reap, nor gather into barns; yet your Heavenly Father feedeth
     them."--Matthew vi. 26.

    "Free tenants of land, air, and ocean,
    Their forms all symmetry, their motions grace;
    In plumage delicate and beautiful,
    Thick without burthen, close as fishes' scales,
    Or loose as full-blown poppies on the gales;
    With wings that seem as they'd a soul within them,
    They bear their owners with such sweet enchantment."

                    _James Montgomery._

Birds, as regards structure, are perhaps the most perfectly endowed,
as they are certainly the most beautiful and interesting, of all the
lower animals. In Birds there is an admirable mechanism and adaptation
both for gliding in the air and swimming in the water. They surpass all
other animals in the faculty of continuing their motion without resting,
as well as in its rapidity. The fleetest courser can scarcely ever run
more than a mile in a minute, nor support that speed beyond five or six
such exertions. But the joyous Swallow does this tenfold for pleasure.
In his usual way he flies at the rate of one mile in a minute; and
Wilson, the ornithologist, ascertained that the Swallow is so engaged
for ten hours every day. So can the Blue-bird of America, for a space of
600 miles. Our Carrier-pigeons move with half that celerity: one flew
from Liskeard to London, 220 miles, in six hours. The Golden Eagle is
supposed to dart through the fiercest storm at the rate of 160 miles an
hour; but one of our smallest Birds, the Swift, can even quadruple the
most excited quickness of the race-horse for a distance. Spallanzani
thought that the little Swift travelled at the rate of 250 miles an hour.

Inquiries into the phenomena of the flight of Birds would lead us
far beyond our limits. The subject is beset with error. Thus, we
read:--"Every one has remarked the manner in which Birds of prey float,
as it were, without any effort, and with steady expanded wings, at great
heights in the atmosphere. This they are enabled to do from the quantity
of air contained in the air-cells of their bodies, which air being taken
in at a low level in the atmosphere, of course rarefies and expands as
the Bird ascends into higher regions. Their rapidity of descent must
be accomplished by the sudden expulsion of this air, aided by their
muscular efforts."

Now, Dr. Crisp has read to the Zoological Society a paper "On the
Presence or Absence of Air in the Bones of Birds," for the purpose of
showing the prevailing error upon the subject--viz., "that the bones
of the Bird are filled with air." Of fifty-two British Birds recently
dissected by him, only one, the Sparrow-hawk, had the bones generally
perforated for the admission of air. In thirteen others, the humeri only
were hollow, and among these were several Birds of short flight. In the
remaining thirty-eight, neither the _humeri_ nor _femora_ contained
air, although in this list were several Birds of passage and of rapid
flight--Dr. Crisp's conclusion being, that the majority of British Birds
have no air in their bones, and that, with the exception of the Falcons,
but very few British Birds have hollow femora.

Mr. Gould records a most remarkable instance of rapid and sustained
flight, which he witnessed on his return from North America, whither
he had proceeded for the purpose of studying the habits and manners of
the species of _Trochilus_ (Humming Bird), frequenting that portion
of America. Having remarked that he arrived just prior to the period
of the migration of this Bird from Mexico to the north, and had ample
opportunities for observing it in a state of nature, he noticed that
its actions were very peculiar, and quite different from those of all
other birds: the flight is performed by a motion of the wings so rapid
as to be almost imperceptible; indeed, the muscular power of this little
creature appears to be very great in every respect, as, independently of
its rapid and sustained flight, it grasps the small twigs, flowers, &c.,
upon which it alights with the utmost tenacity. It appears to be most
active in the morning and evening, and to pass the middle of the day in
a state of sleepy torpor. Occasionally it occurs in such numbers that
fifty or sixty birds may be seen in a single tree. When captured it so
speedily becomes tame that it will feed from the hand or mouth within
half an hour. Mr. Gould having been successful in keeping a Humming-Bird
alive in a gauze bag attached to his breast button for three days,
during which it readily fed from a bottle filled with a syrup of brown
sugar and water, he determined to make an attempt to bring some living
examples to England, in which he succeeded; but unfortunately they did
not long survive their arrival.

The adaptation of colour in Birds to their haunts strikingly tends to
their preservation. The small Birds which frequent hedges have backs
of a brownish or brownish-green hue; and their bellies are generally
whitish, or light-coloured, so as to harmonize with the sky. Thus, they
become less visible to the hawk or cat that passes above or below them.
The wayfarer across the fields also treads upon the Skylark before he
sees it warbling to heaven's gate. The Goldfinch or Thistlefinch passes
much of its time among flowers, and is vividly coloured accordingly.
The Partridge can hardly be distinguished from the fallow or stubble
among which it crouches; and it is considered an accomplishment among
sportsmen to have a good eye for finding a Hare sitting. In northern
countries the winter dress of the Hares and Ptarmigans is white, to
prevent detection among the snows of those inclement regions.

The Song of Birds is popularly explained by the author of a work,
entitled, "The Music of Nature," in which he illustrates the vocal
machinery of Birds as follows:--"It is difficult to account for so small
a creature as a Bird making a tone as loud as some animal a thousand
times its size; but a recent discovery shows that in birds the lungs
have several openings communicating with corresponding air-bags or
cells, which fill the whole cavity of the body from the neck downward,
and into which the air passes and repasses in the progress of breathing.
This is not all. The very bones are hollow, from which air-pipes are
conveyed to the most solid parts of the body, even into the quills and
feathers. The air being rarefied by the heat of their body, adds to
their levity. By forcing the air out of their body, they can dart down
from the greatest heights with astonishing velocity. No doubt the same
machinery forms the basis of their vocal powers, and at once resolves
the mystery into a natural ordering of parts." This is a very pretty
story; but, unfortunately, it is not correct, as already shown.

A correspondent of the "Athenæum," writing in 1866, says:--"He would be
a bold man who should say that Birds have no delight in their own songs.
I have been led to conclude from experiments which I have made, and from
other observations, that certain animals, especially Birds, have not
only an ear for fine sounds, but also a preference for the things they
see out of respect to fine colours or other pleasing external features.
It is chiefly among Birds, when we consider the case of animals, that
a taste for ornament and for glittering objects, often very startling
and human-like, is to be found. The habits of the Pheasant, Peacock,
Turkey, Bird of Paradise, several Birds of the Pigeon and Crow kind, and
certain Singing Birds, are evidence. The Australian Satin Bower-Bird
is the most remarkable of that class which exhibit taste for beauty or
for glittering objects out of themselves--that is, beauty not directly
personal; collecting, in fact, little museums of shells, gaudy feathers,
shining glass, or bits of coloured cloth or pottery. It will be found
with many Birds that fine plumes, a mirror, and an admirer, are not
altogether objects devoid of interest.

"Another consideration leading me to the same conclusion, is the fact,
that beauty in animals is placed on prominent parts, or on parts
which by erection or expansion are easily, and at the pairing season,
frequently rendered prominent, such as a crest or tail. A spangle of
ruby or emerald does not exist, for instance, on the side under the
wing, which is seldom raised, of our domestic poultry. Such jewels are
hung where man himself wears his, on the face and forehead, or court
attention, like our own crowns, trains, shoulder-knots, breast-knots,
painted cheeks, or jewelled ears. I cannot account for the existence of
these gaudy ornaments to please man, for nowhere are they more gorgeous
than in Birds which live in the depth of the tropical forest, where man
is rarely a visitor; I cannot account for them on the principle that
they do good to their possessors in the battle for life, because they
rather render them conspicuous to their enemies, or coveted by man." But
the beauty of these beings glows most brightly at the season of their
pairing, and the selection of their mates.

Baron von Tschudi, the Swiss naturalist, has shown the important
services of Birds in the destruction of insects. Without Birds, no
agriculture or vegetation would be possible. They accomplish in a few
months the profitable work of destruction which millions of human hands
could not do half so well in as many years; and the sage, therefore,
blamed in very severe terms the foolish practice of shooting and
destroying Birds, which prevails more especially in Italy, recommending,
on the contrary, the process of alluring Birds into gardens and
corn-fields. Among the most deserving Birds he counts Swallows, Finches.
Titmice, Redtails, &c. The naturalist then cites numerous instances in
support of his assertion. In a flower-garden of one of his neighbours
three rose-trees had been suddenly covered with about 2,000 tree-lice.
At his recommendation a Marsh-Titmouse was located in the garden, which
in a few hours consumed the whole brood, and left the roses perfectly
clean. A Redtail in a room was observed to catch about 900 flies in an
hour. A couple of Night-Swallows have been known to destroy a whole
swarm of gnats in fifteen minutes. A pair of Golden-crested Wrens
carry insects as food to their nestlings upon an average thirty-six
times in an hour. For the protection of orchards and woods Titmice are
of invaluable service. They consume, in particular, the eggs of the
dangerous pine-spiders. One single female of such spiders frequently
lays from 600 to 800 eggs twice in the summer season, while a Titmouse
with her young ones consume daily several thousands of them. Wrens,
Nuthatches, and Woodpeckers often dexterously fetch from the crevices of
tree-bark numbers of insects for their nestlings.

Yet, profitless and wanton Bird-murder is common. The cliffs on the
coasts of these islands are the resort of numerous kinds of Sea-Fowl,
and these Fowl, we are told, are slaughtered by thousands, not merely
for the sake of their feathers, but actually for the mere savage
pleasure of killing. What speculation can enter into such a proceeding
it may puzzle the reader to imagine; but it seems that the wing feathers
of the poor White Gull are now inquired for in the plume-trade, and
we are actually told of an order given by a single house for 10,000
of these unhappy Birds. When these facts were stated at the Meeting
of the British Association, in August, 1868, at Norwich, a lady stood
up boldly in defence of her sex, and declared that they sinned only
through ignorance, and would never willingly wear the feathers of a
Bird destroyed in the act of feeding its young. That part of the case,
therefore, ought to be now in safe hands. In the Isle of Man a law has
been passed, called the "Seagull Preservation Act," protecting these
Birds by heavy penalties, on the ground of their utility in removing
fish offal and guiding fishermen to shoals of fish. At a certain point
of our shores a similar protection has been established. A visitor to
the South Stack Lighthouse, on the coast of Anglesey, may see prodigious
numbers of Sea-Fowl as tame as complete safety can make them. It has
been ascertained that in thick weather, when neither light can be
distinguished nor signal seen, the incessant scream of these Birds gives
the best of all warnings to the mariner of the vicinity of the rock. The
noise they make can be heard at a greater distance than the tolling of
the great bell; and so valuable was this danger-signal considered, that
an order from the Trinity House forbad even the firing of the warning
gun, lest the colony of the Sea-Fowl should be disturbed. The signals of
the bell and the cannon might be neglected or overpowered, but the Birds
were always there and always audible.

It is inferred that Birds possess some notion of power, and of cause and
effect, from the various actions which they perform. "Thus," relates Dr.
Fleming, "we have seen the Hooded Crow in Zetland, when feeding on small
shell-fish, able to break some of the tenderer kinds by means of its
bill, aided in some cases by beating them against a stone; but, as some
of the larger shells, such as the buckie and the welk, cannot be broken
by such means, the Crow employs another method, by which, in consequence
of applying foreign power, it accomplishes its object. Seizing the
shell with its claws, it mounts up into the air, and then loosing its
hold, causes the shell to fall among stones (in preference to the sand,
the water, or the soil on the ground), that it may be broken, and give
easier access to the contained animal. Should the first attempt fail,
a second or third is tried, with this difference, that the Crow rises
higher in the air, in order to increase the power of the fall, and
more effectually remove the barrier to the contained morsel. On such
occasions we have seen a strong Bird remain an apparently inattentive
spectator of the process of breaking the shell, but coming to the spot
with astonishing keenness when the efforts of its neighbour had been
successful, in order to share the spoil. Pennant mentions similar
operations performed by Crows on mussels."

The brain of Birds is, in general, large in proportion to the size of
the body, and the instinctive powers are very perfect. A few kinds are
rather dull and stupid; but the Parrot, Magpie, Raven, and many others,
show great vivacity and quickness of intellect. The Raven has a great
deal of humour in him. One, a most amusing and mischievous creature,
would get into a well-stocked flower-garden, go to the beds where the
gardener had sowed a great variety of seeds, with sticks put in the
ground with labels, and then he would amuse himself with pulling up
every stick, and laying them in heaps of ten or twelve on the path. This
used to irritate the old gardener, who drove him away. The Raven knew
that he ought not to do it, or he would not have done it. He would soon
return to his mischief, and when the gardener again chased him (the old
man could not run very fast), the Raven would just keep clear of the
rake or the hoe in his hand, dancing before him, and singing as plainly
as a Raven could. "Tol de rol de rol! tol de rol de rol!" with all kinds
of mimicking gestures.

The signal of danger among Birds seems to be of universal comprehension;
because the instant it is uttered we hear the whole flock, though
composed of various species, repeat a separate moan, and away they
all scuttle into the bushes for safety. The sentinel Birds give the
signal, but in some cases they are deceived by false appearances. Dr.
Edmonstone, in his "View of the Zetland Isles," relates a very striking
illustration of the neglect of the sentinel, in his remarks on the Shag.
"Great numbers of this species of the Cormorant are sometimes taken
during the night, while asleep on the rocks of easy access; but before
they commit themselves to sleep, one or two of the number are appointed
to watch. Until these sentinels are secured, it is impossible to make a
successful impression on the whole body; to surprise them is, therefore,
the first object. With this view, the leader of the expedition creeps
cautiously and imperceptibly along the rock, until he gets within a
short distance of the watch. He then dips a worsted glove into the sea,
and gently throws water in the face of the guard. The unsuspecting Bird,
either disliking the impression, or fancying, from what he considers to
be a disagreeable state of the weather, that all is quiet and safe,
puts his head under his wing and soon falls asleep. His neck is then
immediately broken, and the party dispatch as many as they choose."

Addison was a true lover of nature, which he shows in two letters
written by him to the Earl of Warwick (afterwards his son-in-law),
when that nobleman was very young. "My dear Lord," he writes, "I have
employed the whole neighbourhood in looking after Birds'-nests, and
not altogether without success. My man found one last night, but it
proved a hen's, with fifteen eggs in it, covered with an old broody
Duck, which may satisfy your Lordship's curiosity a little; though I
am afraid the eggs will be of little use to us. This morning I have
news brought me of a nest that has abundance of little eggs, streaked
with red and blue veins, that, by the description they give me, must
make a very beautiful figure in a string. My neighbours are very much
divided in their opinions upon them: some say they are a Skylark's;
others will have them to be a Canary-Bird's; but I am much mistaken
in the colour and turn of the eggs if they are not full of Tomtit's."
Again, Addison writes:--"Since I am so near your Lordship, methinks,
after having passed the day amid more severe studies, you may often
take a trip hither and relax yourself with these little curiosities of
nature. I assure you no less a man than Cicero commends the two great
friends of his age, Scipio and Lælius, for entertaining themselves
at their country-house, which stood on the sea-shore, with picking up
cockle-shells, and looking after Birds'-nests."

In another letter Addison writes:--"The business of this is to invite
you to a concert of music which I have found out in a neighbouring wood.
It begins precisely at six in the evening, and consists of a Blackbird,
a Thrush, a Robin-Redbreast, and a Bullfinch. There is a Lark, that, by
way of overture, sings and mounts till she is almost out of hearing; and
afterwards, falling down leisurely, drops to the ground as soon as she
has ended her song. The whole is concluded by a Nightingale, that has a
much better voice than Mrs. Tofts, and something of the Italian manner
in her divisions. If your Lordship will honour me with your company, I
will promise to entertain you with much better music, and more agreeable
scenes, than you ever met with at the Opera; and will conclude with a
charming description of a Nightingale out of our friend Virgil:--

    "'So close, in poplar shades, her children gone,
    The mother Nightingale laments alone;
    Whose nest some prying churl had found, and thence
    By stealth convey'd the unfeathered innocence:
    But she supplies the night with mournful strains,
    And melancholy music fills the plains.'"


The Eggs of Birds are variously tinted and mottled, and hence they
become objects of interest to the collector. In this diversity of
colour nature has, doubtless, some final object in view; and though not
in every instance, yet in many, we can certainly see a design in the
adaptation of the colours to the purpose of concealment, according to
the habits of the various classes of Birds. Thus, as a general rule, the
Eggs of Birds which have their nests in dark holes, or which construct
nests that almost completely exclude the light, are white; as is also
the case with those Birds that constantly sit on their Eggs, or leave
them only for a short time during the night. Eggs of a light blue or
light green tint will also be found in nests that are otherwise well
concealed; while, on the other hand, a great proportion of those nests
that are in exposed situations have Eggs varying in tints and spots in a
remarkable degree, corresponding with the colours of external objects in
their immediate neighbourhood. Thus, a dull green colour is common in
most gallinaceous Birds that form their nests in grass, and in aquatic
Birds among green hedges; a bright green colour is prevalent among Birds
that nestle among trees and bushes; and a brown mottled colour is found
in those Eggs that are deposited among furze, heath, shingle, and grey
rocks and stones.

Birds'-nesting, we need hardly remark, is a favourite pursuit of
boyhood; but, in some cases, its attractions have induced young
persons to take up more important branches of natural history, or the
collection, systematic arrangement, and comparison of Birds' Eggs, which
is, in scientific study, termed Oology; and as the study of Birds cannot
be considered complete until they are known in every stage, it forms a
branch of Ornithology. In this case Birds'-nesting has an useful object;
but many persons are content to acquire collections of Eggs without
troubling themselves about the Birds which have laid them.

The late Mr. John Wolley, M.A., was one of the leading authorities
upon the subject of European Ornithology, and was one of a number
of University men, who, about twelve years ago, established the
ornithological journal called "The Ibis," and who visited far-distant
and unexplored regions, where they might hope to discover strange
Birds and unknown Eggs. For several years Algiers and Tunis were their
favourite resorts, and the meeting-places of many of our rarer Birds
were hunted up in these countries, even so far as the Desert of the
Great Sahara. Others preferred the New World as the scene of their
labours, and collected long series of specimens in the highland of
Guatemala, and the tropical forests of Belize. Mr. Wolley, however,
confined his attention principally to the northern parts of Europe--that
region being the breeding-quarters of a large number of Birds which
are only known in this country as winter visitants. In order to be
at his collecting-station at Muonioniska, on the frontier of Finnish
Lapland, at the earliest commencement of the breeding-season, Mr. Wolley
frequently passed the whole winter in that remote region. But the rigour
of the climate under the Arctic Circle contributed to bring on a malady
which terminated fatally in November, 1859.

Upon the decease of Mr. Wolley, his large collection of Birds' Eggs,
in accordance with his last wishes, became the property of his friend,
Mr. Alfred Newton, who is publishing a Catalogue of Mr. Wolley's Egg
Cabinet, with notes from the deceased naturalist's journals. The first
part contains the Eggs of Birds of Prey (_Accipitres_), recognisable at
once by their strongly-hooked bill, formed to assist them in tearing
their prey, and their large feet and sharpened claws, which aid them to
grasp it. They are divisible into two very distinct groups--the diurnal
Birds of Prey, consisting of the Hawks, Vultures, and Eagles; and the
nocturnal Birds of Prey, or Owls. In the latter the Eggs are invariably
colourless; in the former they are often strongly marked, and present
some of the most beautiful objects in the whole series of Birds' Eggs.

In the most recently published list of European birds fifty-two species
of birds of prey are given as occurring more or less frequently within
the limits of our continent. Of the three generally-recognised species
of European Vultures two are well represented, as regards their eggs,
in the Wolleyan series. A few years ago the nesting of all these birds
was utterly unknown to naturalists, and it was mainly through the
exertions of Mr. Wolley and his friends that specimens first reached
our collectors' cabinets. Here were found both the Egyptian Vulture
and the Griffon breeding abundantly in the Eastern Atlas in 1857; and
the eyries of these birds have since been visited by other collectors
in the same country. The Eggs of the former of these Vultures are
remarkable for their deep and rich coloration. The productions of the
Griffon are not nearly so handsome, and are occasionally altogether
destitute of markings. Of the Eagles of Europe the series of Eggs is
very full, especially of the two well-known British species--the Golden
Eagle and Sea Eagle. The Golden or Mountain Eagle is even now-a-days
much more common in the remote parts of the British islands than is
usually supposed to be the case. In 1852 Mr. Wolley was acquainted
with five nests of this bird in various parts of Scotland, and there
were undoubtedly at least as many more of which he did not learn the
particulars. The eyrie is usually placed in some mountainous district,
on the ledge of some "warm-looking" rock, well clothed with vegetation,
and often by no means wild or exposed. Not unfrequently, under proper
guidance, one can walk into the nest almost without climbing. Mr. Newton
gives a very entertaining account of the taking of a pair of eggs from
a nest in Argyllshire in 1861, where this seems to have been the case.
In the whole ascent there was only one "ticklish place," where it was
necessary to go sideways on a narrow ledge round some rocks. The Sea
Eagle, on the other hand, generally breeds on the high cliffs upon the
coast, often selecting the most inaccessible position for its eyrie.
Sometimes, however, it will choose an island in the middle of an inland
loch, and in such case places its nest upon the ground or in a tree.

Mr. Wolley's well-written notes of his adventures in quest of both
these Eagles, as also those relating to the other rapacious birds, will
be read with much interest; as will also the details concerning the
nesting-habits of many of the rarer species of European birds, several
of which, such as the Rough-legged Buzzard and the Lapp Owl, were first
tracked to their breeding-quarters in the remotest wilds of Scandinavia
by this indefatigable naturalist.[10]

Of large Eggs we are most familiar with those of the Ostrich, of which
Mr. Burchell, when in Africa, found twenty-five Eggs in a hollow
scratched in the sand, six feet in diameter, surrounded by a trench, but
without grass, leaves, or sticks, as in the nests of other birds. In
the trench were nine more Eggs, intended, as the Hottentots observed,
as the first food of the twenty-five young Ostriches. Between sixty and
seventy Eggs have been found in one nest; each is equal to twenty-four
Eggs of the domestic hen, and holds five pints and a quarter of liquid.
The shells are dirty white. The Hottentots string them together as
belts, or garlands, and they are frequently mounted as cups. One Ostrich
Egg is a sufficient meal for three persons. The Egg is cooked over the
fire without either pot or water, the shell answering the purpose of the
first, and the liquid nature of its contents that of the other.

Less familiar to the reader are the gigantic Eggs of the Epyornis, a
bird which formerly lived in Madagascar. One of these Eggs contains the
substance of 140 hens' Eggs. Mr. Geoffroy St. Hilaire describes some
portions of an Egg of the Epyornis which show the Egg to have been of
such a size as to be capable of containing about ten English quarts;
that in the Museum of the Jardin des Plantes can only contain 8-3/4
quarts. Mr. Strickland, in some notices of the Dodo and its kindred,
published in 1849, says that in the previous year a Mr. Dumarele, a
French merchant at Bourbon, saw at Port Leven, Madagascar, an enormous
Egg which held "_thirteen wine quart bottles of fluid_." The natives
stated that the Egg was found in the jungle, and "that such Eggs were
_very, very rarely_ met with."

A word or two about the nests of such gigantic birds. Captain Cook
found, on an island near the north-east coast of New Holland, a nest
"of a most enormous size. It was built with sticks upon the ground, and
was no less than six-and-twenty feet in circumference, and two feet
eight inches high." (Kerr's "Collection of Voyages and Travels," xiii.,
318.) Captain Flinders found two similar nests on the south coast of New
Holland, in King George's Bay. In his "Voyage," &c., London, 1818, he
says, "They were built upon the ground, from which they rose above two
feet, and were of vast circumference and great interior capacity; the
branches of trees and other matter of which each nest was composed being
enough to fill a cart."

Among the varieties of Birds'-nests are some very curious homes, of
which we have but space to notice a few. The pendulous nest of the
Indian Baya-bird is usually formed of the fibres of the palmyra, the
cocoa-nut palm, and wild date of India, sometimes mixed with grass,
neatly interlaced, and very strongly made. It consists of only one
circular chamber, with a long tubular passage leading to it, and is
suspended from a tree, preferred if overhanging water. The natives of
India say the Baya lights up its nest with fire-flies. The bird lays
from four to six white eggs. Bayas are of a very social disposition:
numbers build on the same tree, or neighbouring trees, and singing in
concert during the breeding season. The Baya is very docile, and taught
to fly off the finger and return again; to dart after a ring or small
coin, dropped into a deep well, and catch it before it reaches the
water; to fetch and carry, and perform similar tricks.

The nest of the brilliant Golden-banded Oriole is a hammock of twisted
fibrous substances, and is suspended in a low shrub, so as to swing to
the breeze. The twine-like fibres of which it is woven are the filaments
of the gigantic palm. The threads break away from the leaf, and hang
like fringe to the magnificent foliage.

The Tailor-birds are the best nest-builders of all the feathered tribes.
They interweave their nests between the twigs and branches of shrubs,
or suspend the nests from them; and some of these birds have exercised
arts from the creation which man has found of the greatest benefit to
him since he discovered them. These birds, indeed, may be called the
inventors of the several arts of the weaver, the sempstress, and the
tailor; whence some of them have been denominated Weaver and Tailor
Birds. The nests of the latter are, however, most remarkable. India
produces several species of Tailor-birds that sew together leaves for
the protection of their eggs and nestlings from the voracity of serpents
and apes. They generally select the end of a branch or twig, and sew
with cotton, thread, and fibres. Colonel Sykes has seen some in which
the thread was literally knotted at the end. The inside of these nests
is lined usually with down and cotton.

Tailor-birds are not confined to India or tropical countries. Italy can
boast a species which exercises the same art. Mr. Gould has a specimen
of this bird in his possession, and the Zoological Society have a nest
in their Museum. This little bird, a species of the genus _sylvia_, in
summer and autumn frequents marshes; but in the spring it seeks the
meadows and corn-fields, in which, at that season, the marshes being
bare of the sedges which cover them in summer, it is compelled to
construct its nest in tussocks of grass on the brinks of ditches; but
the leaves of these being weak, easily split, so that it is difficult
for our little sempstresses to unite them, and so form the skeleton
of the fabric. From this and other circumstances, the spring nests of
these birds differ so widely from those made in the autumn that it seems
next to impossible that both should be the work of the same artisan.
The latter are constructed in a thick bunch of sedge or reed: they are
shaped like a pear, being dilated below and narrow above, so as to leave
an aperture sufficient for the ingress and egress of the bird. The
greatest horizontal diameter of the nest is about two inches and a half,
and the vertical is five inches.

The most wonderful thing in the construction of these nests is the
method to which the little bird has recourse to keep united the living
leaves of which it is composed. The sole in the weaving, more or less
delicate, of the materials, forms the principle adopted by other birds
to bind together the walls of their nests; but this sylvia is no weaver,
for the leaves of the sedges or reeds are united by real stitches.
In the edge of each leaf she makes, probably with her beak, minute
apertures, through which she contrives to pass, perhaps by means of
the same organ, one or more cords formed of spiders' web, particularly
that of their egg-pouches. Those threads are not very long, and are
sufficient to pass two or three times from one leaf to another. They
are of unequal thickness, and have knots here and there, which, in some
places, divide into two or three branches.

This is the manner in which the exterior of the nest is formed: the
interior consists mainly of down, chiefly from plants, a little
spiders' web being intermixed, which helps to keep the other substances
together. The upper part and sides of the nest, that is, the external
and internal, are in immediate contact; but in the lower part a greater
space intervenes, filled with the slender foliage of grasses, and other
materials, which render soft and warm the bed on which the eggs are to
repose. This little bird feeds on insects. Its flight is rectilinear,
but consists of many curves, with the concavity upwards. These curves
equal in number the strokes of the wing, and at every stroke its whistle
is heard, the intervals of which correspond with the rapidity of its

The Australian Bower-bird, as its name implies, builds its nest
like an arbour or bower, with twigs: in the British Museum are two
specimens, each decorated--one with bones and fresh-water shells, and
the other with feathers and land-shells; remarkable instances of taste
for ornament already referred to in a preceding page. The Satin or
Bower-bird is described by settlers in Australia as "a very troublesome
rascal," which besets gardens; if once allowed to make a lodgment there
it is very troublesome to get rid of him; he signalizes his arrival by
pulling up, in his restless fussy way, everything in the garden that he
can tug out of the ground, even to the little sticks to mark the site of
seeds. A settler had formed a garden in the bush; there was no enclosure
of the kind for miles in any direction: a flock of Bower-birds came; he
got his gun and shot two or three; the flock went off, and he never saw
another bird of the kind.

The Cape Swallows build nests which show extraordinary instinct allied
to reason. A pair of these built their nest on the outside of a house
at Cape Town against the angle formed by the wall and the board which
supported the eaves. The whole of this nest was covered in, and it was
furnished with a long neck or passage, through which the birds passed in
and out. It resembled a longitudinal section of a Florence oil flask.
This nest having crumbled away after the young birds had quitted it, the
same pair, or another of the same species, built on the old foundation
again. But this time an improvement was observable in the plan of it
that can hardly be referred to the dictates of mere instinct. The body
of the nest was of the same shape as before, but instead of a single
passage it was furnished with one at each side, running along the angle
of the roof; and on watching the birds, they were seen invariably to go
in at one passage and come out at the other. Besides saving themselves
the trouble of turning in the nest and disturbing, perhaps, its interior
arrangement, they were guarded by this contrivance against a surprise by
serpents, which frequently creep up along the wall, or descend from the
thatch, and devour both the mother and her brood.

Dr. Livingstone relates a very curious instance of "Bird Confinement"
under very strange circumstances. In passing through Mopane country, in
South Africa, his men caught a great number of the birds called _Korwé_
in their breeding-places, which were holes in the mopane trees. They
passed the nest of a Korwé just ready for the female to enter; the
orifice was plastered on both sides, but a space was left of a heart
shape, and exactly the size of the bird's body. The hole in the tree
was in every case found to be prolonged some distance upwards above the
opening, and thither the Korwé always fled to escape being caught. In
another nest that was found, one white egg, much like that of a pigeon,
was laid, and the bird dropped another when captured: she had four
besides in the ovarium. Dr. Livingstone first saw this bird at Kolenbeng
in the forest: he saw a slit only, about half an inch wide and three or
four inches long, in a slight hollow of a tree; a native broke the clay
which surrounded the slit, put his arm into the hole, and brought out a
red-beaked Hornbill, which he killed. He told Dr. Livingstone that when
the female enters her nest she submits to a real confinement. The male
plasters up the entrance, leaving only a narrow slit by which to feed
his mate, and which exactly suits the form of his beak. The female makes
a nest of her own feathers, lays her eggs, hatches them, and remains
with the young till they are fully fledged. During all this time, which
is stated to be two or three months, the male continues to feed her
and the young family. The prisoner generally becomes quite fat, and is
esteemed a very dainty morsel by the natives; while the poor slave of a
husband gets so lean that, on the sudden lowering of the temperature,
which sometimes happens after a fall of rain, he is benumbed, falls
down, and dies.

Dr. Livingstone, on passing the same tree at Kolenbeng about eight days
afterwards, found the hole plastered up again, as if, in the short time
that had elapsed, the disconsolate bird-husband had procured another
wife. Dr. L. saw a nest with the plastering not quite finished, and
others completed; he also received elsewhere, besides Kolobeng, the same
account that the bird comes forth when the young are fully-fledged, at
the period when the corn is ripe; indeed, her appearance abroad with
her young is one of the signs they have for knowing when it ought to be
so: the time is between two and three months. She is said sometimes to
hatch two eggs, and, when the young of these are full-fledged, the other
two are just out of the egg-shells: she then leaves the nest with the
two elder, the orifice is again plastered up, and both male and female
attend to the wants of the young.

There is a specimen of a nest in the Gardens of the Zoological Society,
which merits description, besides that of the Bower-bird. Such is the
nest of the Brush Turkey, which appears more like a small haystack than
an ordinary nest, and the methodical manner in which it is constructed
is thus described:--Tracing a circle of considerable radius, the birds
begin to travel round it, continually grasping with their huge feet the
leaves and grasses and dead twigs which are lying about, and flinging
them inwards towards the centre. Each time that they complete their
round, they narrow their circle, so that in a short time they clear away
a circular belt, having in its centre a low irregular mass. By repeating
the same process, however, they decrease the diameter of the mound as
they increase its height, and at last a large and rudely conical mound
is formed.

In this nest as many as a bushel of eggs are deposited, at regular
intervals, long end downwards. The leaves form a fermenting mass, which
relieves the mother of the necessity of setting upon them. The male,
however, has to regulate the temperature of the mass, which would
otherwise get too hot. This he does by making a central ventilating
shaft, which carries off the superfluous heat; and, lest the temperature
should fall too low, he is constantly engaged in covering and uncovering
the eggs in order to hit the exact temperature to be applied until the
egg is warmed into life.


[10] Abridged from the "Saturday Review."


We have allotted this bird to the epicure, because it is rarely heard
of but in association with his luxurious table. Mr. Beckford describes
the Ortolans among the delicacies which he saw in the kitchen of the
monastery of Batalha as "lumps of celestial fatness."

Ortolan is the French and English names for a species of _Fringillidæ_
(Finches). It is the _Hortulanus_ of Gesner and other naturalists;
_Miliaria pinguescens_ of Frisch; _Emberiza Hortulana_ of Linnæus;
_Ortolano_ of the Italians generally; _Tordino Berluccio_ of the
Venetians; _Garton Ammer_ and _Fetammer_ of the Germans; and _Gerste
Keneu_ of the Netherlanders. This wide dispersion on the Continent
bespeaks the pet character of the bird. Montagu terms it the
Green-headed Bunting.

The French have a fanciful derivation of the name: they say it is from
the Italian word for gardener, which is from the Latin _hortus_, garden;
because, according to Menage, in Italy, where the bird is common, it is
quite at home in the hedges of gardens.

The male bird has the throat, circle round the eyes, and a narrow band
springing from the angle of the bill, yellow; head and neck grey, with a
tinge of olive, and small brown spots; feathers black, edged with red;
breast, belly, and abdomen, reddish grey, the feathers terminated with
ash-colour; tail blackish, two external feathers, in part white; length
rather more than six inches. There are, also, varieties marked white,
green, blackish, and entirely black. The nest, which is constructed
of fibres of plants and leaves, is frequently found on the ground in
corn-fields, and sometimes in hedges and bushes.

The Ortolan is not famed for its song, which is, however, soft
and sweet. Like the Nightingale, to which it has other points of
resemblance, the Ortolan sings after, as well as before sunset. It was
this bird that Varro, the lyric poet, called his companion by night and

The south of Europe may be considered the summer and autumnal
head-quarters of the Ortolan, though it is a summer visitor in the
central and northern parts. In Italy it is said to be common by Temminck
and others. The Prince of Musignano states it to be found in the Sabine
mountains; adding that it rarely flies in the plains of Rome, but is
frequent in Tuscany. Lapland, Russia, Denmark. Sweden, and Norway,
are among the countries visited by it. In the British Isles it seems
only entitled to rank as an autumnal visitor, but it may occur more
frequently than is generally supposed; for, especially to an unpractised
eye, it might be mistaken for the Yellow Hammer, and in some states of
plumage for other Buntings. It has been taken in the neighbourhood of
London. In 1837 there was a live specimen in an aviary of the Zoological
Society in Regent's-park; and many Ortolans are sent alive to the London
market from Prussia. There is, however, some consolation for the rarity
of the Ortolan in England. It is approached in delicacy by our Wheatear,
which is termed the _English Ortolan_. Hence it has been pursued as a
delicate morsel throughout all its island haunts. Bewick captured it at
sea, off the coast of Yorkshire, in May, 1822. Every spring and autumn
it may be observed at Gibraltar, on its migration. Mr. Strickland saw it
at Smyrna in April. North Africa is its winter residence. Colonel Sykes
notes it in his catalogue of the birds of the Deccan.

Ortolans are solitary birds; they fly in pairs, rarely three together,
and never in flocks. They are taken in traps from March or April to
September, when they are often poor and thin; but if fed with plenty
of millet-seed and other grain, they become sheer lumps of fat, and
delicious morsels. They are fattened thus in large establishments in the
south of Europe; Mr. Gould states this to be effected in Italy, and the
south of France, in dark rooms; and the Prince of Musignano, having
described the process, adds the relishing words. "Carne exquisita."

The fattening process in Italy is one of great refinement in the manner
of feeding. It is the fat of the Ortolan which is so delicious; but it
has a peculiar habit of feeding which is opposed to the rapid fattening,
this is, it feeds only at the rising of the sun. Yet this peculiarity
has not proved an insurmountable obstacle to the Italian gourmands.
The Ortolans are placed in a dark chamber, perfectly dark, with only
one aperture in the wall. The food is scattered over the floor of the
chamber. At a certain hour in the morning the keeper of the birds places
a lantern in the orifice of the wall; when the dim light thrown from the
lantern on the floor of the apartment induces the Ortolans to believe
that the sun is about to rise, and they greedily consume the food upon
the floor. More food is now scattered over it, and the lantern is

The Ortolans, rather surprised at the shortness of the day, think it
their duty to fall asleep, as night has spread her sable mantle round
them. During sleep, little of the food being expended in the production
of force, most of it goes to the formation of muscle and fat. After they
have been allowed to repose for one or two hours, in order to complete
the digestion of the food taken, their keeper again exhibits the lantern
through the aperture. The "rising sun" a second time illumines the
apartment, and the birds, awaking from their slumber, apply themselves
voraciously to the food on the floor; after having discussed which,
they are again enveloped in darkness. Thus the sun is made to shed its
rising rays into the chamber floor four or five times every day, and
as many nights following. The Ortolans thus treated become like little
balls of fat in a few days. This not uninteresting process has been
detailed by Dr. Lyon Playfair to the Royal Agricultural Society. It
may, probably, be applied to purposes with less luxurious objects than
fattening Ortolans.

Notwithstanding its delicacy, the Ortolan fattens very fast; and it is
this lump of fatness that is its merit, and has sometimes caused it
to be preferred to the Becafico. According to Buffon, the Greeks and
Romans understood fattening the Ortolan upon millet. But a lively French
commentator doubts this statement: he maintains that had the ancients
known the Ortolan, they would have deified it, and built altars to
it upon Mount Hymettus and the Saniculum; adding, did they not deify
the horse of Caligula, which was certainly not worth an Ortolan? and
Caligula himself, who was not worth so much as his horse? However, this
dispute belongs to the "classics of the table."

The Ortolan is considered sufficiently fat when it is a handful, and
is judged by feeling it, and not by appearance. It should not be
killed with violence, like other birds; this might crush and bruise
the delicate flesh, and spoil the _coup-d'oeil_, to avoid which it is
recommended to plunge the head of the Ortolan into a glass of brandy.
The culinary instruction is as follows: having picked the bird of its
feathers, singe it with the flame of paper or spirits of wine; cut off
the beak and ends of the feet; do not draw it; put it into a paper case
soaked in olive oil, and broil it over a slow fire of slack cinders,
like that required for a pigeon _à la crapaudine_; in a few minutes the
Ortolan will swim in its own fat, and will be cooked. Some gourmands
wrap each bird in a vine-leaf.

A gourmand will take an Ortolan by the legs and craunch it in delicious
mouthfuls, so as absolutely to lose none of it. More delicate feeders
cut the bird into quarters, and lay aside the gizzard; the rest may be
eaten, even to the bones, which are sufficiently tender for the most
delicate mouth to masticate without inconvenience.

On the Continent, Ortolans are packed in tin boxes for exportation.
They may be bought in London for half-a-crown a-piece. A few poulterers
import Ortolans in considerable numbers, and some have acquired the art
of fattening these birds.[11] Alexis Soyer put into the hundred guinea
dish which he prepared for the royal table at the grand banquet at York,
in 1850, five pounds worth of Ortolans, which were obtained from Belgium.


[11] The Ortolan figures in a curious anecdote of individual epicurism
in the last century. A gentleman of Gloucestershire had one son, whom he
sent abroad to make the grand tour of the Continent, where he paid more
attention to the cookery of nations, and luxurious living, than anything
else. Before his return his father died and left him a large fortune.
He now looked over his note-book to discover where the most exquisite
dishes were to be had, and the best cooks obtained. Every servant in his
house was a cook; his butler, footman, coachman, and grooms--all were
cooks. He had also three Italian cooks--one from Florence, another from
Vienna, and another from Viterbo--for dressing one Florentine dish. He
had a messenger constantly on the road between Brittany and London to
bring the eggs of a certain kind of plover found in the former country.
This prodigal was known to eat a single dinner at the expense of 70_l._,
though there were but two dishes. In nine years he found himself
getting poor, and this made him melancholy. When totally ruined, having
spent 150,000_l._, a friend one day gave him a guinea to keep him from
starving, and he was found in a garret next day _broiling an Ortolan_,
for which he had paid a portion of the alms.


The Toucans, a family of climbing-birds of tropical America, appear to
have been known in Europe by the length and great size of their bills,
long before the birds themselves found their way to England. Belon,
in 1555, described the bill of one of the family as half a foot long,
large as a child's arm, pointed, and black at the tip, white elsewhere,
notched on the edges, hollow within, and so finely delicate as to be
transparent and thin as parchment; and its beauty caused it to be kept
in the cabinets of the curious. For more than a century after Belon's
work, the birds themselves had not been seen in England; for, in the
_Museum Tradescantianum_, the standard collection of the time, and
which, from the list of contributors, appears to have been the great
receptacle for all curiosities, we read of an "Azacari (or Toucan) of
Brazil; has his beak four inches long, almost two thick, like a Turk's
sword" (A.D. 1656). From this description Tradescant knew the nature of
the bird, if he had not seen it.

Mr. Swainson states, that the enormous bills give to these birds a most
singular and uncouth appearance. Their feet are formed like those of
the parrot, more for grasping than climbing; and as they live among
trees, and proceed by hopping from branch to branch, their grasping
feature is particularly adapted for such habits. They live retired in
the deep forests, mostly in small companies. Their flight is strait and
laborious, but not graceful; while their movements, as they glide rather
than hop from branch to branch, are elegant.

Mr. Gould, in his grand Monograph of the Toucans, or _Ramphastidæ_,
remarks, that it was only within a few years of the time of Linnæus that
actual specimens of the Toucan had been received in Europe. The beaks,
however, of these birds, regarded as curiosities, had occasionally found
their way to our shores, and had occasioned some curious conjectures.
The earliest shape resembled a Turkish scimitar.

The Toucans (a word derived from their Brazilian name, _Taca, Tucà_)
received from Linnæus the title of _Ramphastos_, in allusion to
the great volume of the beak ([Greek: ramphos]--Ramphos), a family
(_Ramphastidæ_). In some respects, indeed, they resemble the Hornbills
in the development of the beak. The Toucans may be said to represent
in America the Hornbills in India and Africa. Large as is the beak of
the Toucan compared with the size of the body, it is in reality very
light. Its outer sheathing is somewhat elastic, very thin, smooth, and
semi-transparent; and the interior consists of a maze of delicate cells,
throughout which the olfactory nerves are multitudinously distributed.
The nostrils are basal, the edges of each mandible are serrated, and
the colouring of the whole beak is bright, rich, and often relieved by
contrasted markings. But these tints begin to fade after death, and
become ultimately dissipated. The eyes are surrounded by a considerable
space of naked skin, often very richly tinted. The tongue is very long,
slender, horizontally flattened, pointed, and, except at its base,
horny; it is fringed or feathered along each side. The wings are short,
concave, and comparatively feeble.

The tail is variable, equal and squared; it is remarkable for the
facility with which it can be retroverted or turned up, so as to lie
upon the back. This peculiarity results from a modification of structure
in the caudal vertebræ, which enables the tail to turn with a jerk by
the action of certain muscles, as if it were fixed on a hinge put into
action by means of a spring. When the retroversion is accomplished, the
muscles which caused it become passive, and offer no resistance to their
antagonists, which restore the tail to its ordinary direction. When they
sleep they puff out their plumage, they retrovert the tail over the
back, draw the head between the shoulders; the bill begins to turn over
the right shoulder, and becomes at last buried in the plumage of the
back; at the same time the pinions of the wings droop, and conceal the
feet. The bird now resembles an oval ball of puffed-up feathers, and is
well protected against the cold.

Toucans utter, from time to time, harsh, clattering, and discordant
cries. "Some," says Mr. Gould, "frequent the humid woods of the
temperate regions, while others resort to comparatively colder
districts, and dwell at an elevation of from six to ten thousand
feet. Those inhabiting the lofty regions are generically different
from those residing in the low lands, and are clothed in a more thick
and sombre-coloured plumage. All the members of the Hill-Toucans are
distinguished by their bills being strong, heavy, and hard, when
compared with those of the true Toucans and Araçaris, all of which
have their bills of a more delicate structure, and in several species
so thin and elastic on the sides as to be compressible between the
fingers." Their food in a state of nature consists of fruit, eggs, and
nestling birds; to which, in domestication, are added small birds, mice,
caterpillars, and raw flesh. They incubate in the hollows of gigantic

Faber was told by Fryer, Alaysa, and other Spaniards who had lived
long in America, and also by the Indians, that the Toucan even hews
out holes in trees, in which to nidify; and Oviedo adds, that it is
from this habit of chipping the trees that the bird is called by the
Spaniards _Carpintero_, and by the Brazilians _Tacataca_, in imitation,
apparently, of the sound it thus makes.

The larger feed upon bananas and other succulent plants; the smaller
upon the smaller fruits and berries. Prince Maximilian de Wied states,
that in Brazil he found only the remains of fruits in their stomachs,
and adds, that they make sad havoc among plantations of fruit-trees. He
was informed, however, that they steal and eat birds, but never himself
saw them in the act. They abound in the vast forests, and are killed
in great number in the cooler season in the year for the purposes of
the table. In their manners the Toucans resemble the Crow tribe, and
especially the Magpies: like them, they are very troublesome to the
birds of prey, particularly to the Owls, which they surround, making a
great noise, all the while jerking their tails upwards and downwards.
Their feathers, especially from their yellow breasts, are used by the
Indians for personal decoration.

Azara states that they attack even the solid nests of the white ants,
when the clay of which their nests are formed becomes moistened with the
rain; they break them up with their beaks, so as to obtain the young
ants and their eggs; and during the breeding season the Toucan feeds
upon nothing else; during the rest of the year he subsists upon fruit,
insects, and the buds of trees.

Edwards, in his voyage up the Amazon, observes, that when a party of
Toucans alight on a tree, one usually acts the part of a sentinel,
uttering the loud cry of "Tucano," whence they derive their name; the
others disperse over the branches in search of fruit. While feeding
they keep up a hoarse chattering, and at intervals unite with the noisy
sentry, and scream a concert that may be heard a mile. Having appeased
their appetites, they seek the depths of a forest, and there quietly
doze away the noon. In early morning a few of them may be seen sitting
quietly upon the branches of some dead tree, apparently awaiting the
coming sunlight before starting for their feeding-trees.

Some species of Toucans have been seen quarrelling with monkeys over a
nest of eggs. Their carnivorous propensity has been strikingly shown
in the specimens which have been kept in England. On the approach of
any small bird the Toucan becomes highly excited, raises itself up,
erects its feathers, and utters a hollow clattering sound, the irides
of the eyes expand, and the Toucan is ready to dart on its prey. A
Toucan, exhibited in St. Martin's-lane in 1824, seized and devoured a
canary-bird. Next day Mr. Broderip tried him with a live goldfinch. The
Toucan seized it with the beak, and the poor little victim uttered a
short weak cry, for within a second it was dead, killed by the powerful
compression of the mandibles. The Toucan now placed the dead bird firmly
between its foot and the perch, stripped off the feathers with its bill,
and then broke the bones of the wings and legs, by strongly wrenching
them, the bird being still secured by the Toucan's foot. He then
continued to work with great dexterity till he had reduced the goldfinch
to a shapeless mass. This he devoured piece by piece with great gusto,
not even leaving the legs or the beak of his prey: to each morsel he
applied his tongue as he masticated it, chattering and shivering with
delight. He never used his foot, but his bill, for conveying his food to
his mouth by the sides of the bill.

Mr. Swainson remarks:--"The apparent disproportion of the bill is one of
the innumerable instances of that beautiful adaptation of structure to
use which the book of nature everywhere reveals. The food of these birds
consists principally of the eggs and young of others, to discover which
nature has given them the most exquisite powers of smell." Again, the
nests in which the Toucan finds its food are often very deep and dark,
and its bill, covered with branches of nerves, enables the bird to feel
its way as accurately as the finest and most delicate finger could. From
its feeding on eggs found in other birds' nests, it has been called the
Egg-sucker. Probably there is no bird which secures her young offspring
better from the monkeys, which are very noisome to the young of most
birds. For when she perceives the approach of these enemies she so
settles herself in her nest as to put her bill out at the hole, and give
the monkeys such a welcome therewith that they presently break away, and
are glad to escape.

Professor Owen, in his minute examination of the mandibles, remarks
that the principle of the cylinder is introduced into the elaborate
structure; the smallest of the supporting pillars of the mandibles are
seen to be hollow or tubular when examined with the microscope.

Light and almost diaphonous as is the bill of the Toucan, its strength
and the power of the muscles, which act upon the mandibles, are evident
in the wrenching and masticatory processes. When taking fruit, the
Toucan generally holds it for a short time at the extremity of his bill,
applying to it, with apparent delight, the pointed tip of the slender
tongue: the bird then throws it, with a sudden upward jerk, to the
throat, where it is caught and instantly swallowed.

Mr. Gould divides the Toucans into six genera. 1. The true Toucans, with
large and gaily-coloured bills, plumage black. 2. The Araçaris, with
smaller beaks, plumage green, yellow, and red. 3. The Banded Aracauris,
an Amazonian genus, proposed by Prince C. L. Bonaparte. 4. Toucanets,
small, with crescent of yellow on the back, and brilliant orange and
yellow ear-coverts. 5. Hill Toucans of the Andes. 6. Groove-bills,
grass-green plumage.

A very fine true Toucan, figured by Mr. Gould, is remarkable for the
splendour and size of the bill, of a fine orange-red, with a large black
patch on each side. Powder-flasks are made of large and finely-coloured
bills. The naked skin round the eye is bright orange. The chest is
white, with a tinge of sulphur below, and a slight scarlet margin.
Upper tail-coverts, white; under tail-coverts, scarlet; the rest of the
plumage, black. Several specimens of this beautiful bird lived both in
the menagerie of the late Earl of Derby, at Knowsley, and in the gardens
of the Zoological Society. It is a native of Cayenne, Paraguay, &c.

Toucans in their manners are gentle and confident, exhibiting no alarm
at strangers, and are as playful as magpies or jackdaws; travellers
assure us that they may be taught tricks and feats like parrots; and
although they cannot imitate the human voice, they show considerable
intelligence. One of the Toucanets is named from Mr. Gould, the plates
in whose _monograph_, from their size, beauty, and accuracy, have all
the air of portraits.


This group of amphibious birds, though powerless in the wing as an organ
of flight, are assisted by it as a species of fin in their rapid divings
and evolutions under water, and even as a kind of anterior of extremity
when progressing on the land. Their lot has been wisely cast on those
desolate southern islands and shores where man rarely intrudes, and
in many instances where a churlish climate or a barren soil offers no
temptations to him to invade their territory.

Le Vaillant, when on Dassen Island, found that the smaller crevices
of the rocks served as places of retreat for Penguins, which swarmed
there. "This bird," says Le Vaillant, which is about two feet in length,
"does not carry its body in the same manner as others: it stands
perpendicularly on its two feet, which gives it an air of gravity, so
much the more ridiculous as its wings, which have no feathers, hang
carelessly down on each side; it never uses them but in swimming. As we
advanced towards the middle of the island we met innumerable troops
of them. Standing firm and erect on their legs, these animals never
deranged themselves in the least to let us pass; they more particularly
surrounded the mausoleum, and seemed as if determined to prevent us from
approaching it. All the environs were entirely beset with them. Nature
had done more for the plain tomb of the poor Danish captain than what
proceeds from the imaginations of poets or the chisels of our artists.
The hideous owl, however well sculptured in our churches, has not half
so dead and melancholy an air as the Penguin. The mournful cries of this
animal, mixed with those of the sea-calf, impressed on my mind a kind of
gloom which much disposed me to tender sensations of sadness. My eyes
were sometime fixed on the last abode of the unfortunate traveller, and
I gave his manes the tribute of a sigh."

Sir John Narborough says of the Patagonian Penguins that their erect
attitude and bluish-black backs, contrasted with their white bellies,
might cause them to be taken at a distance for young children with white
pinafores on. A line of them is engraved in Webster's "Voyage of the
Chanticleer," and reminds us of one of the woodcuts in Hood's "Comic

The "towns, camps, and rookeries," as they have been called, of Penguins
have been often described. At the Falkland Islands are assemblies of
Penguins, which give a dreary desolation to the place, in the utter
absence of the human race. In some of the towns voyagers describe a
general stillness, and when the intruders walked among the feathered
population to provide themselves with eggs, they were regarded with
side-long glances, but they seemed to carry no terror with them. In many
places the shores are covered with these birds, and three hundred have
been taken within an hour; for they generally make no effort to escape,
but stand quietly by whilst their companions are knocked down with
sticks, till it comes to their turn.

The rookeries are described as designed with the utmost order and
regularity, though they are the resort of several different species.
A regular camp, often covering three or four acres, is laid out
and levelled, and the ground disposed in squares for the nests, as
accurately as if a surveyor had been employed. Their marchings and
countermarchings are said to remind the observer of the manoeuvres of
soldiers on parade. In the midst of this apparent order there appears
to be not very good government, for the stronger species steal the
eggs of the weaker if they are left unguarded; and the King Penguin
is the greatest thief of all. Three species are found in the Falkland
Islands. Two, the _Kings_ and the _Macaroni_, deposit their eggs in
these rookeries. The _Jackass_, which is the third, obtained its English
name from its brayings at night. It makes its nests in burrows on downs
and sandy plains; and Forster describes the ground as everywhere so
much bored, that a person, in walking, often sinks up to the knees; and
if the Penguin chance to be in her hole, she revenges herself on the
passenger by fastening on his legs, which she bites very hard.

But these rookeries are insignificant when compared with a settlement of
King Penguins, which Mr. G. Bennett saw at the north end of Macquarrie
Island, in the South Pacific Ocean--a colony of these birds, which
covered some thirty or forty acres. Here, during the whole of the day
and night, 30,000 or 40,000 Penguins are continually landing, and an
equal number going to sea. They are ranged, when on shore, in as regular
ranks as a regiment of soldiers, and are classed, the young birds in one
situation, the moulting birds in another, the sitting hens in a third,
the clean birds in a fourth, &c.; and so strictly do birds in a similar
condition congregate, that, should a moulting bird intrude itself among
those which are clean, it is immediately ejected from them. The females,
if approached during incubation, move away, carrying their eggs with
them. At this time the male bird goes to sea, and collects food for the
female, which becomes very fat.

Captain Fitzroy describes, at Noir Island, multitudes of Penguins
swarming among the bushes and tussac-grass near the shore, for moulting
and rearing their young. They were very valiant in self-defence, and
ran open-mouthed by dozens at any one who invaded their territory. The
manner of feeding their young is amusing. The old bird gets on a little
eminence and makes a loud noise, between quacking and braying, holding
its head up as if haranguing the Penguinnery, the young one standing
close to it, but a little lower. The old bird then puts down its head,
and opens its mouth widely, into which the young one thrusts its head,
and then appears to suck from the throat of its mother; after which the
clatter is repeated, and the young one is again fed: this continues for
about ten minutes.

Mr. Darwin, having placed himself between a Penguin, on the Falkland
Islands, and the water, was much amused by watching its habits. "It
was a brown bird," says Mr. Darwin, "and, till reaching the sea, it
regularly fought and drove me backwards. Nothing less than heavy blows
would have stopped him: every inch gained, he firmly kept standing close
before me, erect and determined. When thus opposed, he continually
rolled his head from side to side in a very odd manner. While at sea,
and undisturbed, this bird's note is very deep and solemn, and is often
heard in the night time. In diving, its little plumeless wings are used
as fins, but on the land as front legs. When crawling (it may be said
on four legs) through the tussacks, or on the side of a grassy cliff,
it moved so very quickly that it might readily have been mistaken
for a quadruped. When at sea, and fishing, it comes to the surface
for the purpose of breathing with such a spring, and dives again so
instantaneously, that I defy any one, at first sight, to be sure that it
is not a fish leaping for sport."

Bougainville endeavoured to bring home a Penguin alive. It became so
tame that it followed the person who fed it; it ate bread, flesh, or
fish; but it fell away and died. The four-footed Duck of Gesner might
have owed its origin to an ill-preserved Penguin. The notion of its
being four-footed might have been fortified by some voyager who had seen
the bird making progress as Mr. Darwin has above described.

Mr. Webster describes the feathers of Penguins as very different from
those of other birds, being short, very rigid, and the roots deeply
embedded in fat. They are, in general, flat, and bent backwards, those
on the breast being of a satin or silky white, and those on the flippers
so short and small as to approach the nature of scales, overlaying each
other very closely. The skins are loaded with fat. Their feet are not
regularly webbed, but present a broad, fleshy surface, more adapted for
walking than swimming. Mr. Webster saw great numbers of Penguins on
Staten Island. They are the only genus of the feathered race that are
there, and live in the water, like seals. He saw them at the distance of
200 miles from the land, swimming with the rapidity of the dolphin, the
swiftest of fishes. When they come up to the surface for fresh breath,
they make a croaking noise, dip their beaks frequently in the water, and
play and dive about near the surface, like the bonita. Penguins have
great powers of abstinence, and are able to live four or five months
without food. Stones have been occasionally found in their stomachs,
but they generally live on shrimps and crustacea, gorging themselves
sometimes to excess. The sensations of these curious birds do not seem
to be very acute. Sparrman stumbled over a sleeping one, and kicked it
some yards, without disturbing its rest; and Forster left a number of
Penguins apparently lifeless, while he went in pursuit of others, but
they afterwards got up and marched off with their usual gravity.

The bird is named from the Welsh word, _Pengwyn_. White head (_pen_,
head; _gwyn_, white), and is thought to have been given to the
bird by some Welsh sailors, on seeing its white breast. Davis, who
discovered, in 1585, the straits which are named after him, was of
Welsh parents. Might he not have given the name _Pengwyn_ to the bird?
Swainson considers the Penguins, on the whole, as the most singular
of all aquatic birds; and he states that they clearly point out that
nature is about to pass from the birds to the fishes. Others consider
Penguins more satisfactorily to represent some of the aquatic reptiles,
especially the marine _testudinata_.


Pelicans are described as a large, voracious, and wandering tribe of
birds, living for the most part on the ocean, and seldom approaching
land but at the season of incubation. They fly with ease, and even with
swiftness. Their bill is long, and armed at the end with an abrupt
hook; the width of the gape is excessive; the face is generally bare
of feathers, and the skin of the throat sometimes so extensible as to
hang down like a bag; it will occasionally contain ten quarts. "By this
curious organization," observes Swainson, "the Pelicans are able to
swallow fish of a very large size; and the whole family may be termed
_oceanic vultures_."

The neighbourhood of rivers, lakes, and the sea-coast, is the haunt of
the Pelican, and they are rarely seen more than twenty leagues from
the land. Le Vaillant, upon visiting Dassen Island, at the entrance
of Saldanha Bay, beheld, as he says, after wading through the surf,
and clambering up the rocks, such a spectacle as never, perhaps,
appeared to the eye of mortal. "All of a sudden there arose from the
whole surface of the island an impenetrable cloud, which formed, at the
distance of forty feet above our heads, an immense canopy, or, rather, a
sky, composed of birds of every species and of all colours--cormorants,
sea-gulls, sand-swallows, and, I believe, the whole winged tribe of this
part of Africa, were here assembled." The same traveller found on the
Klein-Brak river, whilst waiting for the ebb-tide, thousands of Pelicans
and Flamingoes, the deep rose-colour of the one strongly contrasting
with the white of the other.

Mr. Gould says the bird is remarkable for longevity and the long period
requisite for the completion of its plumage. The first year's dress is
wholly brown, then fine white. The rosy tints are only acquired as the
bird advances in age, and five years are required before the Pelican
becomes fully mature. The expanse of wings is from twelve to thirteen
feet. Although the bird perches on trees, it prefers rocky shores. It is
found in the Oriental countries of Europe; and is common on the rivers
and lakes of Hungary and Russia, and on the Danube. That the species
exists in Asia there is no doubt. Belon, who refers to Leviticus xi.
18, where the bird is noted as unclean, says that it is frequent on
the lakes of Egypt and Judæa. "When he was passing the plain of Roma,
which is only half a day's journey from Jerusalem, he saw them flying
in pairs, like swans, as well as in a large flock. Hasselquist saw the
Pelican at Damietta, in Egypt. "In flying, they form an acute angle,
like the common wild geese when they migrate. They appear in some of the
Egyptian drawings."--(_Rossellini._)

Von Siebold saw the Pelican in Japan. "Pelicans," says Dr. Richardson,
"are numerous in the interior of the fur countries, but they seldom
come within two hundred miles of Hudson's Bay. They deposit their eggs
usually on small rocky islands, on the brink of cascades, where they can
scarcely be approached; but they are otherwise by no means shy birds.
They haunt eddies under waterfalls, and devour great quantities of carp
and other fish. When gorged with food they doze on the water, and may be
easily captured, as they have great difficulty in taking wing at such
times, particularly if their pouches be loaded with fish."

The bird builds on rocky and desert shores: hence we read of "the
Pelican of the wilderness," alluded to in these beautiful lines:--

                    "Like the Pelicans
    On that lone island where they built their nests,
    Nourish'd their young, and then lay down to die."

The bird lives on fish, which it darts upon from a considerable height.
James Montgomery thus describes this mode of taking their prey:--

    "Eager for food, their searching eyes they fix'd
    On Ocean's unroll'd volume, from a height
    That brought immensity within their scope;
    Yet with such power of vision look'd they down,
    As though they watch'd the shell-fish slowly gliding
    O'er sunken rocks, or climbing trees of coral,
    On indefatigable wing upheld,
    Breath, pulse, existence, seem'd suspended in them;
    They were as pictures painted on the sky;
    Till suddenly, aslant, away they shot,
    Like meteors chang'd from stars in gleams of lightning.
    And struck upon the deep; where, in wild play,
    Their quarry flounder'd, unsuspecting harm.
    With terrible voracity they plunged
    Their heads among the affrighted shoals, and beat
    A tempest on the surges with their wings,
    Till flashing clouds of foam and spray conceal'd them.
    Nimbly they seized and secreted their prey,
    Alive and wriggling, in th' elastic net
    Which Nature hung beneath their grasping beaks;
    Till, swoll'n with captures, th' unwieldy burthen
    Clogg'd their slow flight, as heavily to land
    These mighty hunters of the deep return'd.
    There on the cragged cliffs they perched at ease,
    Gorging their hapless victims one by one;
    Then, full and weary, side by side they slept,
    Till evening roused them to the chase again."

                    _Pelican Island._

Great numbers of Pelicans are killed for their pouches, which are
converted by the native Americans into purses, &c. When carefully
prepared, the membrane is as soft as silk, and sometimes embroidered by
Spanish ladies for work-bags, &c. It is used in Egypt by the sailors,
whilst attached to the two under chaps, for holding or baling water.

With the Pelican has been associated an old popular error, which has not
long disappeared from books of information: it is that of the Pelican
feeding her young with her blood. In reference to the actual economy
of the Pelican, we find that, in feeding the nestlings--and the male
is said to supply the wants of the female, when sitting, in the same
manner--the under mandible is pressed against the neck and breast, to
assist the bird in disgorging the contents of the capacious pouch; and
during this action the red nail of the upper mandible would appear to
come in contact with the breast, thus laying the foundation, in all
probability, for the fable that the Pelican nourishes her young with her
blood, and for the attitude in which the imagination of painters has
placed the bird in books of emblems, &c., with the blood spirting from
the wounds made by the terminating nail of the upper mandible into the
gaping mouths of her offspring.

Sir Thomas Browne, in his "Vulgar Errors," says:--"In every place we
meet with the picture of the Pelican opening her breast with her bill,
and feeding her young ones with the blood distilling from her. Thus it
is set forth, not only in common signs, but in the crest and scutcheon
of many noble families; hath been asserted by many holy writers, and
was an hieroglyphic of piety and pity among the Egyptians; on which
consideration they spared them at their tables."

Sir Thomas refers this popular error to an exaggerated description of
the Pelican's fondness for her young, and is inclined to accept it as an
emblem "in coat-armour," though with great doubt.

In "A Choice of Emblems and other Devices," by Geoffrey Whitney, are
these lines:--

    "The Pelican, for to revive her younge,
      Doth pierce her breste, and geve them of her blood.
    Then searche your breste, and as you have with tonge,
      With penne procede to do your countrie good:
    Your zeal is great, your learning is profounde;
    Then help our wantes with that you do abound."

In George Wither's "Emblems," 1634, we find:--

    "Our Pelican, by bleeding thus,
    Fulfill'd the law, and cured us."

Shakspeare, in "Hamlet," thus alludes to the popular notion:--

    "To his good friends thus wide I'll ope my arms;
    And like the kind, life-rendering Pelican,
    Repast them with my blood."

In a holier light, this symbol signifies the Saviour giving Himself up
for the redemption of mankind. In Lord Lindsay's "Christian Art," vols.
i., xx., xxi., we find in the text, "God the Son (is symbolized) by a
Pelican--'I am like a Pelican of the wilderness.' (Psalm cii. 6.)" To
which is added the following note:--"The mediæval interpretation of this
symbol is given by Sir David Lindsay, of the Mount, Lion King, nephew of
the poet, in his MS. 'Collectanea,' preserved in the Advocates' Library.

Sir Thomas Browne hints at the probability of the Pelican occasionally
nibbling or biting itself on the itching part of its breast, upon
fulness or acrimony of blood, so as to tinge the feathers in that part.
Such an instance is recorded by Mr. G. Bennett of a Pelican living at
Dulwich, which wounded itself just above the breast; but no such act has
been observed among the Pelicans kept in the menagerie of the Zoological
Society or elsewhere; and the instance just recorded was probably caused
by local irritation.

Of the same genus as the _Pelican_ is the _Cormorant_, an inhabitant
of Europe generally and of America. It swims very deep in the water;
even in the sea very little more than the neck and head are visible
above the surface. It is a most expert diver, pursuing the fish which
forms its food with great activity under water; it is said to be very
fond of eels. It perches on trees, where it occasionally builds its
nests, but it mostly selects rocky shores and islands. Upon the Fern
Islands its nest is composed of a mass of sea-weed, frequently heaped
up to the height of two feet. The species is easily domesticated; and
its docility is shown by the use often made of Cormorants in fishing.
Willughby, quoting Faber, says:--"They are wont in England to train up
Cormorants to fishing. When they carry them out of the room where they
are kept they take off their hoods, and having tied a leather thong
round the lower part of their necks, that they may not swallow down the
fish they catch, they throw them into the river. They presently dive
under water, and there for a long time, with wonderful swiftness, pursue
the fish, and when they have caught them they arise presently to the
top of the water, and pressing the fish tightly with the bills, they
swallow them, till each bird hath after this manner devoured five or six
fishes. Then their keepers call them to the fish, to which they readily
fly, and little by little, one after another, vomit up all the fish, a
little bruised with the nip they gave them with their bills." When they
have done fishing they loosen the string from the birds' necks, and for
their reward they throw them part of the prey they have caught, to each,
perchance, one or two fishes, which they catch most dexterously in their
mouths as they are falling in the air. Pennant quotes Whitelock, who
said that he had a cast of them, manned like hawks, and which would come
to hand. He took much pleasure in them, and relates that the best he
had was one presented him by Mr. Wood, master of the corvorants (as the
older name was) to Charles I. Pennant adds, it is well known that the
Chinese make great use of a congenerous sort in fishing, and that not
for amusement but profit.

Sir George Staunton, in his account of his Embassy to China, describes
the place where the _Leu-tze_, or famed fishing-bird of China, is bred
and instructed in the art and practice of supplying his owner with fish
in great abundance. The bird, a Cormorant, is figured in Sir George's
work, with two Chinese fishermen carrying their light boat, around the
gunnel of which their Cormorants are perched by a pole resting on their
shoulders between them. On a large lake are thousands of small boats
and rafts built entirely for this species of fishery. On each boat or
raft are ten or a dozen birds, which, on a signal from the owner, plunge
into the water; and it is astonishing to see the enormous size of fish
with which they return grasped between their bills. They appeared to be
so well trained that it did not require either ring or cord about their
throats to prevent them from swallowing any portion of their prey except
what the master was pleased to return to them for encouragement and
food. The boat used by these fishermen is remarkably light, and is often
carried to the lake, together with the fishing-birds, by the men who are
there to be supported by it.

Belon gives an amusing account of the chase of this bird during calms,
especially in the neighbourhood of Venice: the hunt is carried on in
very light boats, each of which being rowed by five or six men, darts
along the sea like the bolt from an arbalest, till the poor Cormorant,
who is shot at with bows as soon as he puts his head above water, and
cannot take flight after diving to suffocation, is taken quite tired out
by his pursuers.

Cormorant fishing has occasionally been reintroduced upon our rivers.
In 1848 there were brought from Holland four tame Cormorants, which had
been trained to the Chinese mode of fishing. Upon one occasion they
fished three miles on a river, and caught a pannier-full of trout and
eels. A ring placed round their necks to prevent them from swallowing
large fish, but which leaves them at liberty to gulp down anything not
exceeding the size of a gudgeon. The birds on these occasions are put
into such parts of the river as are known to be favourite haunts of
fish; and their activity under water in pursuit of fish can be compared
to nothing so appropriate as a swallow darting after a fly.

Blumenbach tells us the Cormorant occasionally increases in a few years
to many thousands on coasts where it was previously unknown. It varies
much both in size and colour. The late Joshua Brookes, the surgeon,
possessed a Cormorant, which he presented to the Zoological Society.

The Cormorant has a small sabre-shaped bone at the back of its vertex;
which bone may serve as a lever in throwing back the head, when the
animal tosses the fishes into the air and catches them in its open
mouth. The same motion is, however, performed by some piscivorous birds,
which are not provided with this particular bone.

Aubrey, in his "Natural History of Wilts," quotes the following weather
presage from May's "Virgil's Georgics":--

    "The seas are ill to sailors evermore
    When Cormorants fly crying to the shore."


Certain birds are known to utter strange sounds, the origin of which
has much puzzled the ornithologists. The Brown Owl which hoots, is
hence called the Screech Owl: a musical friend of Gilbert White tried
all the Owls that were his near neighbours with a pitch-pipe set at a
concert pitch, and found they all hooted in B flat; and he subsequently
found that neither Owls nor Cuckoos keep to one note. The Whidah Bird,
one of the most costly of cage-birds, rattles its tail-feathers with a
noise somewhat resembling that made by the rattle-snake. The Chinese
Starling, in China called _Longuoy_, in captivity is very teachable,
imitating words, and even whistling tunes: we all remember Sterne's
Starling. The Piping Crow, to be seen in troops in the Blue Mountains,
is named from its ready mimicry of other birds: its imitation of the
chucking and cackling of a hen and the crowing of a cock, as well as
its whistling of tunes, are described as very perfect: its native note
is said to be a loud whistle. The Blue Jay turns his imitative faculty
to treacherous account: he so closely imitates the St. Domingo Falcon
as to deceive even those acquainted with both birds; and the Falcon no
sooner appears in their neighbourhood than the jays swarm around him and
insult him with their imitative cries; for which they frequently fall
victims to his appetite. The Bullfinch, according to Blumenbach, learns
to whistle tunes, to sing in parts, and even to pronounce words. The
note of the Crowned Crane has been compared by Buffon to the hoarseness
of a trumpet; it also clucks like a hen. Mr. Wallace, in his "Travels on
the Amazon," saw a bird about the size and colour of the Raven, which
uttered a loud, hoarse cry, like some deep musical instrument, whence
its Indian name, _Ueramioube_, Trumpet Bird: it inhabits the flooded
islands of the Rio Negro and the Solimoes, never appearing on the
mainland.[12] The only sound produced by Storks is by snapping their
bills. The Night Heron is called the Qua Bird; from its note _Qua_.

The Bittern, the English provincial names of which are the Mire-drum,
Bull of the Bog, &c., is so called for the bellowing or drumming noise
or booming for which the bird is so famous. This deep note of the
"hollow-sounding Bittern" is exerted on the ground at the breeding
season, about February or March. As the day declines he leaves his
haunt, and, rising spirally, soars to a great height in the twilight.
Willughby says that it performs this last-mentioned feat in the autumn,
"making a singular kind of noise, nothing like to lowing." Bewick
says that it soars as above described when it changes its haunts.
Ordinarily it flies heavily, like the Heron, uttering from time to time
a resounding cry, not bellowing; and then Willughby, who well describes
the bellowing noise of the breeding season, supposes it to be the Night
Raven, at whose "deadly voice" the superstitious wayfarer of the night
turned pale and trembled. "This, without doubt," writes Willughby, "is
that bird our common people call the Night Raven, and have such a dread
of, imagining its cry portends no less than their death or the death of
some of their near relations; for it flies in the night, answers their
description of being like a flagging collar, and hath such a kind of
hooping cry as they talk of." Others, with some reason, consider the
Qua Bird already mentioned (which utters a loud and most disagreeable
noise when on the wing, conveying the idea of the agonies of a person
attempting to vomit) to be the true Night Raven. The Bittern was well
known to the ancients, and Aristotle mentions the fable of its origin
from staves metamorphosed into birds. The long claw of the hind toe is
much prized as a toothpick, and in the olden times it was thought to
have the property of preserving the teeth.

The Greater-billed Butcher Bird, from New Holland, has extraordinary
powers of voice: it is trained for catching small birds, and it is said
to imitate the notes of some other birds by way of decoying them to
their destruction.

The mere imitative sounds of Parrots are of little interest compared
with the instances of instinct, apparently allied to reason, which are
related of individuals. Of this tribe the distinguishing characteristics
are a hooked bill, the upper mandible of which is moveable as well as
the lower, and not in one piece with the skull, as in most other birds,
but joined to the head by a strong membrane, with which the bird lifts
it or lets it fall at pleasure. The bill is also round on the outside
and hollow within, and has, in some degree, the capacity of a mouth,
allowing the tongue, which is thick and fleshy, to play freely; while
the sound, striking against the circular border of the lower mandible,
reflects it like a palate: hence the animal does not utter a whistling
sound, but a full articulation. The tongue, which modulates all sounds,
is proportionally larger than in man.

The Wild Swan has a very loud call, and utters a melancholy cry when one
of the flock is killed; hence it was said by the poets to sing its own
dying dirge. Such was the popular belief in olden times; and, looking to
the anatomical characteristics of the species, it was, in some degree,
supported by the more inflated wind-pipe of the wild when compared
with that of the tame species. The _Song of the Swan_ is, however,
irreconcileable with sober belief, the only noise of the Wild Swan of
our times being unmelodious, and an unpleasing monotony.

The Laughing Goose is named from its note having some resemblance to the
laugh of man; and not, as Wilson supposes, from the grinning appearance
of its mandibles. The Indians imitate its cry by moving the hand quickly
against the lips, whilst they repeat the syllable _wah_.

The Cuckoo may be said to have done much for musical science, because
from that bird has been derived the _minor scale_, the origin of which
has puzzled so many; the Cuckoo's couplet being the _minor third_ sung

The Germans are the finest appreciators of the Nightingale; and it is a
fact, that when the Prussian authorities, under pecuniary pressure, were
about to cut down certain trees near Cologne, which were frequented by
Nightingales, the alarmed citizens purchased the trees in order to save
the birds and keep their music. Yet one would think the music hardly
worth having, if it really sounded as it looks upon paper, transcribed
thus by Bechstein, from whom it is quoted by Broderip:--

    Zozozozozozozozozozozozo zirrhading
    Hezezezezezezezezezezezezezezeze cowar ho dze hoi
    Higaigaigaigaigaigaigaigaigaigai, guaiagai coricor dzio dzio pi.[13]

M. Wichterich, of Bonn, remarks:--"It is a vulgar error to suppose that
the song of the Nightingale is melancholy, and that it only sings by
night. There are two varieties of the Nightingale; one which sings both
in the night and the day, and one which sings in the day only."

In the year 1858, Mr. Leigh Sotheby, in a letter to Dr. Gray, of the
British Museum, described a marvellous little specimen of the feathered
tribe--a Talking Canary. Its parents had previously and successfully
reared many young ones, but three years before they hatched only _one_
out of four eggs, the which they immediately neglected, by commencing
the rebuilding of a nest on the top of it. Upon this discovery, the
unfledged and forsaken bird, all but dead, was taken away and placed in
flannel by the fire, when, after much attention, it was restored, and
then brought up by hand. Thus treated, and away from all other birds, it
became familiarised only with those who fed it; consequently, its first
singing notes were of a character totally different to those usual with
the Canary.

Constantly being talked to, the bird, when about three months old,
astonished its mistress by repeating the endearing terms used in talking
to it, such as "Kissie, kissie," with its significant sounds. This
went on, and from time to time the little bird repeated other words;
and then, for hours together, except during the moulting season, it
astonished by _ringing the changes_, according to its own fancy, and as
plainly as any human voice could articulate them, on the several words,
"Dear sweet Titchie" (its name), "kiss Minnie," "Kiss me, then, dear
Minnie." "Sweet pretty little Titchie," "Kissie, kissie, kissie." "Dear
Titchie," "Titchie wee, gee, gee, gee, Titchie. Titchie."

The usual singing-notes of the bird were more of the character of the
Nightingale, mingled occasionally with the sound of the dog-whistle used
about the house. It is hardly necessary to add, that the bird was by
nature remarkably tame.

In 1839, a Canary-bird, capable of distinct articulation, was exhibited
in Regent-street. The following were some of its sentences:--"Sweet
pretty dear," "Sweet pretty dear Dicky," "Mary," "Sweet pretty little
Dicky dear;" and often in the course of the day, "Sweet pretty Queen."
The bird also imitated the jarring of a wire, the ringing of a bell; it
was three years old, and was reared by a lady who never allowed it to
be in the company of other birds. This Canary died in October, 1839; it
was, it is believed, the only other talking instance publicly known.

We read of some experiments made in the rearing of birds at Kendal
by a bird-fancier, the result of which was, that upwards of 20
birds--Canaries. Greenfinches, Linnets, Chaffinches, Titlarks,
and Whitethroats--were reared in one cage by a pair of Canaries.
The experiments were continued until the extraordinary number of
thirty-eight birds had been brought up within two months by the
Canaries. It may be worth while to enumerate them.

In the month of June the Canaries--the male green, and the female
piebald--were caged for the purpose of breeding. The female laid five
eggs, and while she was sitting a Greenfinch egg was introduced into
the nest. All of these were hatched, and the day after incubation was
completed five Grey Linnets, also newly hatched, were put into the cage,
in their own nest. Next day a newly-hatched nest of four Chaffinches was
also introduced; and afterwards five different nests, consisting of six
Titlarks, six Whitethroats, three Skylarks, three Winchars, and three
Blackcaps. While rearing the last of these nests, the female Canary
again laid and hatched four eggs, thus making thirty-eight young birds
brought up by the pair of Canaries. It will be noticed that most of
these birds are soft-billed, whose natural food is small insects; but
they took quite kindly to the seeds upon which they were fed by their
step-parents. The pair of Canaries fed at one time twenty-one young
birds, and never had less than sixteen making demands upon their care;
and while the female was hatching her second nest she continued to feed
the birds that occupied the other nest.

Of the origin of the _neighing sound_ which accompanies the single
Snipe's play-flight during pairing-time, opinions are various. Bechstein
thought it was produced by means of the beak; Naumann and others, again,
that it originated in powerful strokes of the wing. Pratt, in Hanover,
observing that the bird makes heard its well-known song or cry, which he
expresses with the words, "gick jack, gick jack!" at the same time with
the _neighing sound_, it seemed to be settled that the latter is not
produced through the throat. In the meantime, M. Meves, of Stockholm,
remarked with surprise, that the humming sound could never be observed
whilst the bird was flying upwards, at which time the tail is closed;
but only when it was casting itself downwards in a slanting direction,
with the tail strongly spread out.

M. Meves has written for the Zoological Society a paper upon the origin
of this sound, which all the field-naturalists and sportsmen of England
and other countries had, for the previous century, been trying to make
out, but had failed to discover. Of this paper the following is an

     The peculiar form of the tail-feathers in some foreign
     species nearly allied to our Snipe encouraged the notion that the
     tail conduced to the production of the sound. M. Meves found the
     tail-feathers of our common Snipe, in the first feather especially,
     very peculiarly constructed; the shaft uncommonly stiff and
     sabre-shaped; the rays of the web strongly bound together and very
     long, the longest reaching nearly three-fourths of the whole length
     of the web, these rays lying along or spanning from end to end of
     the curve of the shaft, _like the strings of a musical instrument_.
     If you blow from the outer side upon the broad web, it comes into
     vibration, and a sound is heard, which, though fainter, resembles
     very closely the well-known _neighing_.

     But to convince yourself fully that it is the first feather
     which produces the peculiar sound, it is only necessary carefully
     to pluck out such an one, to fasten its shaft with fine thread to
     a piece of steel wire a tenth of an inch in diameter, and a foot
     long, and then to fix this at the end of a four-foot stick. If
     now you draw the feather, with this outer side forward, sharply
     through the air, at the same time making some short movements or
     shakings of the arm, so as to represent the shivering motion of the
     wings during flight, you produce the neighing sound with the most
     astonishing exactness.

     If you wish to hear the humming of both feathers at once, as
     must be the case from the flying bird, this also can be managed by
     a simple contrivance. Take a small stick, and fasten at the side of
     the smaller end a piece of burnt steel wire in the form of a fork;
     bind to each point a side tail-feather; bend the wire so that the
     feathers receive the same direction which they do in the spreading
     of the tail as the bird sinks itself in flight; and then, with this
     apparatus, draw the feathers through the air as before. Such a
     sound, but in another tone, is produced when we experiment with the
     tail-feathers of other kinds of Snipe.

     Since in both sexes these feathers have the same form, it is
     clear that both can produce the same humming noise; but as the
     feathers of the hen are generally less than those of the cock-bird,
     the noise made by them is not so deep as in the other case.

     Besides the significance which these tail-feathers have as a
     kind of musical instrument, their form may give a weighty character
     in the determination of a species standing very near one another,
     which have been looked upon as varieties.

This interesting discovery was first announced by M. Meves in an account
of the birds observed by himself during a visit to the Island of
Gottland, in the summer of the year 1856, which narrative was published
at Stockholm in the following winter. In the succeeding summer, M. Meves
showed his experiments to Mr. Wolley, whose services to Ornithology
we have already noticed. The mysterious noise of the wilderness was
reproduced in a little room in the middle of Stockholm: first, the deep
bleat, now shown to proceed from the male Snipe, and then the fainter
bleat of the female, both most strikingly true to nature, neither
producible with any other feathers than the outer ones of the tail.

Mr. Wolley inquired of Mr. Meves how, issuing forth from the town on
a summer ramble, he came to discover what had puzzled the wits and
strained the eyes of so many observers. He freely explained how, in a
number of "Naumannia," an accidental misprint of the word representing
tail-feathers instead of wing-feathers,--a mistake which another author
ridiculed--first led him to think on the subject. He subsequently
examined in the Museum at Stockholm the tail-feathers of various species
of Snipe, remarked their structure, and reasoned upon it. Then he
blew upon them, and fixed them on levers that he might wave them with
greater force through the air; and at the same time he made more careful
observation than he had hitherto done in the living birds. In short,
in him the obscure hint was thrown upon fruitful ground, whilst in a
hundred other minds it had failed to come to light.

Dr. Walsh saw at Constantinople a Woodpecker, about the size of a
Thrush, which was very active in devouring flies, and tapped woodwork
with his bill with a noise _as loud as that of a hammer_, to disturb the
insects concealed therein, so as to seize upon them when they appeared.

Among remarkable bird services should not be forgotten those of the
Trochilos to the Crocodile. "When the Crocodile," says Herodotus, "feeds
in the Nile, the inside of his mouth is always covered with _bdella_
(a term which the translators have rendered by that of _leech_). All
birds, _except one_, fly from the Crocodile; but this one bird, the
_Trochilos_, on the contrary, flies towards him with the greatest
eagerness, and renders him a very great service; for every time that the
Crocodile comes to the land to sleep, and when he lies stretched out
with his jaws open, the Trochilos enters and establishes himself in his
mouth, and frees him from the bdella which he finds there. The Crocodile
is grateful, and never does any harm to the little bird who performs for
him this office."

This passage was long looked upon as a pleasant story, and nothing more;
until M. Geoffroy St. Hilaire, during his long residence in Egypt,
ascertained the story of Herodotus to be correct in substance, but
inexact in details. It is perfectly true that a little bird does exist,
which flies incessantly from place to place, searching everywhere, even
in the Crocodile's mouth, for the insects which form the principal
part of its nourishment. This bird is seen everywhere on the banks of
the Nile, and M. Geoffroy has proved it to be of a species already
described by Hasselquist, and very like the small winged Plover. If
the Trochilos be in reality the little Plover, the bdella cannot be
leeches, (which do not exist in the running waters of the Nile) but the
small insects known as _gnats_ in Europe. Myriads of these insects dance
upon the Nile: they attack the Crocodile upon the inner surface of his
palate, and sting the orifice of the glands, which are numerous in the
Crocodile's mouth. Then the little Plover, who follows him everywhere,
delivers him from these troublesome enemies; and that without any danger
to himself, for the Crocodile is always careful, when he is going to
shut his mouth, to make some motion which warns the little bird to fly
away. At St. Domingo there is a Crocodile which very nearly resembles
that of Egypt. This Crocodile is attacked by gnats, from which he would
have no means of delivering himself (his tongue, like that of the
Crocodile, being fixed) if a bird of a particular species did not give
him the same assistance that the Crocodile of the Nile receives from
the little Plover. These facts explain the passage in Herodotus, and
demonstrate that the animal, there called bdella, is not a leech, but a
flying insect similar to our gnat.

Exemplifications of instinct, intelligence, and reason in Birds are by
no means rare, but this distinction must be made: instinctive actions
are dependent on the nerves, intelligence on the brain; but that which
constitutes peculiar qualities of the mind in man has no material
organ. The Rev. Mr. Statham has referred to the theory of the facial
angle as indicative of the amount of sagacity observable in the animal
race, but has expressed his opinion that the theory is utterly at
fault in the case of Birds; many of these having a very acute facial
angle being considerably more intelligent than others having scarcely
any facial angle at all. Size also seems to present another anomaly
between the two races of Beasts and Birds; for while the Elephant and
the Horse are among the most distinguished of quadrupeds for sagacity
and instinct, the larger Birds seem scarcely comparable to the smaller
ones in the possession of these attributes. The writer instances this
by comparing the Ostrich and the Goose with the Wren, the Robin, the
Canary, the Pigeon, and the Crow; and amusingly alludes to the holding
of parliaments or convocations of birds of the last species, while the
Ostrich is characterised in Scripture as the type of folly.

The author then refers to the poisoning of two young Blackbirds by the
parent birds, when they found that they could neither liberate them
nor permanently share their captivity. The two fledglings had been
taken from a Blackbirds' nest in Surrey-square, and had been placed in
a room looking over a garden, in a wicker cage. For some time the old
birds attended to their wants, visited them regularly, and fed them
with appropriate food; but, at last, getting wearied of the task, or
despairing of effecting their liberation, they appear to have poisoned
them. They were both found suddenly dead one morning, shortly after
having been seen in good health; and on opening their bodies a small
leaf, supposed to be that of _Solanum Nigrum_, was found in the stomach
of each. The old birds immediately deserted the spot, as though aware of
the nefarious deed befitting their name.

As an exemplification of instinct Dr. Horner states that Rooks built
on the Infirmary trees at Hull, but never over the street. One year,
however, a young couple ventured to build here: for eight mornings in
succession the old Rooks proceeded to destroy the nest, when at last the
young ones chose a more fitting place.

Mr. A. Strickland, having referred to the tendency of birds to build
their nests of materials of a colour resembling that around such nests,
relates an instance in which the Fly-catcher built in a red brick wall,
and used for the nest mahogany shavings. Referring to the meeting of
Rooks for judicial purposes. Mr. Strickland states that he once saw a
Rook tried in this way, and ultimately killed by the rest.


Although nearly half a century has elapsed since the following
observations were communicated to the Royal Society by Dr. Jenner, their
expressive character is as charming as ever, and their accuracy as

     "There is a beautiful propriety in the order in which Singing
     Birds fill up the day with their pleasing harmony. The accordance
     between their songs, and the aspect of nature at the successive
     periods of the day at which they sing, is so remarkable that one
     cannot but suppose it to be the result of benevolent design.

     "From the _Robin_ (not the _Lark_, as has been generally
     imagined), as soon as twilight has drawn its imperceptible line
     between night and day, begins his artless song. How sweetly does
     this harmonize with the soft dawning of the day! He goes on till
     the twinkling sunbeams begin to tell him that his notes no longer
     accord with the rising sun. Up starts the _Lark_, and with him a
     variety of sprightly songsters, whose lively notes are in perfect
     correspondence with the gaiety of the morning. The general warbling
     continues, with now and then an interruption by the transient croak
     of the _Raven_, the scream of the _Jay_, or the pert chattering of
     the _Daw_. The _Nightingale_, unwearied by the vocal exertions of
     the night, joins his inferiors in sound in the general harmony. The
     _Thrush_ is wisely placed on the summit of some lofty tree, that
     its piercing notes may be softened by distance before it reaches
     the ear, while the mellow _Blackbird_ seeks the lower branches.

     "Should the sun, having been eclipsed by a cloud, shine forth
     with fresh effulgence, how frequently we see the _Goldfinch_ perch
     on some blossomed bough, and hear his song poured forth in a strain
     peculiarly energetic; while the sun, full shining on his beautiful
     plumes, displays his golden wings and crimson crest to charming
     advantage. Indeed, a burst of sunshine in a cloudy day, or after a
     heavy shower, seems always to wake up a new gladness in the little
     musicians, and invite them to an answering burst of minstrelsy.

     "As evening advances, the performers gradually retire, and the
     concert softly dies away. At sunset the _Robin_ again sends up his
     twilight song, till the still more serene hour of night sends him
     to his bower of rest. And now, in unison with the darkened earth
     and sky, no sooner is the voice of the _Robin_ hushed, than the
     _Owl_ sends forth his slow and solemn tones, well adapted to the
     serious hour."


[12] The popular name of this bird is the _Umbrella Bird_. On its head
it bears a crest, different from that of any other bird. It is formed
of feathers more than two inches long, very thickly set, and with hairy
plumes curving over at the end. These can be laid back so as to be
hardly visible, or can be erected and spread out on every side, forming
a dome completely covering the head, and even reaching beyond the point
of the beak; the individual feathers then stand out something like the
down-bearing seeds of the dandelion. Besides this, there is another
ornamental appendage on the breast, formed by a fleshy tubercle, as
thick as a quill and an inch and a-half long, which hangs down from
the neck, and is thickly covered with glossy feathers, forming a large
pendent plume or tassel. This, also, the bird can either press to its
breast, so as to be scarcely visible, or can swell out so as almost to
conceal the forepart of its body.

[13] "Athenæum," No. 1467.


These nocturnal birds of prey have large heads and great projecting
eyes, directing forwards, and surrounded with a circle of loose and
delicate feathers, more or less developed, according to the nocturnal or
comparatively diurnal habits of the species. The position of the eyes,
giving a particular fulness and breadth to the head, has gained for the
Owl the intellectual character so universally awarded to it. The concave
facial disc of feathers with which they are surrounded materially aids
vision by concentrating the rays of light to an intensity better suited
to the opacity of the medium in which power is required to be exercised.
"They may be compared," says Mr. Yarrell, "to a person near-sighted,
who sees objects with superior magnitude and brilliancy when within the
prescribed limits of his natural powers of vision, from the increased
angle these objects subtend." Their beaks are completely curved,
or raptorial; they have the power of turning the outer toe either
backwards or forwards; they fly weakly, and near the ground; but, from
their soft plumage, stealthily, stretching out their hind legs that they
may balance their large and heavy heads. Their sense of hearing is very
acute: they not only look, but listen for prey.

The Owl is a bird of mystery and gloom, and a special favourite with
plaintive poets. We find him with Ariel:--

    "There I couch when Owls do cry."

He figures in the nursery rhyme of "Cock Robin." In reply to "Who dug
his grave?"--

    "I, says the Owl, with my little shovel--
        I dug his grave."

He hoots over graves, and his dismal note adds to the terror of

    "'Tis the middle of night by the castle clock,
    And the Owls have awakened the crowing cock;
          Tu-whit! tu-whoo!
    And hark again the crowing cock,
          How drowsily it crew.

    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .

    "When blood is nipt, and ways be foul,
    Then nightly sings the staring Owl,
    Tu-whit! tu-whoo! _a merry note_,
    While greasy Joan doth keel the pot!"

Titania sings of

    "The clamorous Owl, that nightly hoots and wonders
    At our quaint spirits."

Bishop Hall has this "Occasional Meditation" upon the sight of an Owl in
the twilight:--"What a strange melancholic life doth this creature lead;
to hide her head all the day long in an ivy-bush, and at night, when all
other birds are at rest, to fly abroad and vent her harsh notes. I know
not why the ancients have _sacred_ this bird to wisdom, except it be for
her safe closeness and singular perspicuity; that when other domestrial
and airy creatures are blind, she only hath insured light to discern the
least objects for her own advantage." We may here note that Linnæus,
with many other naturalists and antiquaries, have supposed the Horned
Owl to have been the bird of Minerva; but Blumenbach has shown, from
the ancient works of Grecian art, that it was not this, but rather some
smooth-headed species, probably the _Passerina_, or Little Owl.

The divine has, in the above passage, overstated the melancholy of the
Owl; as has also the poet, who sings:--

        "From yonder ivy-mantled tower
    The moping Owl does to the moon complain
    Of such as, wandering near her secret bower,
    Molest her ancient solitary reign."

Shakspeare more accurately terms her "the mousing Owl," for her nights
are spent in barns, or in hunting and devouring sparrows in the
churchyard elms. "Moping, indeed!" says a pleasing observer. "So far
from this, she is a sprightly, active ranger of the night, who had as
lief sit on a grave as a rose-bush; who is as valiant a hunter as
Nimroud, chasing all sorts of game, from the dormouse to the hare and
the young lamb, and devouring them, while her mate hoots to her from
some picturesque ruin, and invites her, when supper is over, to return
to him and her babes."

But the tricks of the Owl by night render her the terror of all other
birds, great and small. In Northern Italy, persons in rustic districts
which are well wooded, catch and tame an Owl, put a light chain upon her
legs, and then place her on a small cross-bar on the top of a high pole,
which is fixed in the earth. Half-blinded by the light, the defenceless
captive has to endure patiently the jeers and insults of the dastardly
tribes from the surrounding groves and thickets, who issue in clouds
to scream, chirp, and flit about their enemy. Some, trusting to the
swiftness of their wings, sweep close by, and peck at her feathers as
they pass, and are sometimes punished by the Owl with her formidable
beak for their audacity. Meanwhile, from darkened windows, sportsmen,
with fowling-pieces well charged with shot, fire at the hosts of birds,
wheeling, shrieking, screaming, and thickening around the Owl. All the
guns are fired at once, and the grass is strewn for many yards round
with the slain; while the Owl, whom they have been careful not to hit,
utters a joyous whoo! whoo! at the fate of her persecutors.

Major Head thus describes the _Biscacho_, or Coquimbo, a curious species
of Owl, found all over the pampas of South America:--"Like rabbits,
they live in holes, which are in groups in every direction. These
animals are never seen in the day, but as soon as the lower limb of
the sun reaches the horizon, they are seen issuing from the holes. The
Biscachos, when full-grown, are nearly as big as badgers, but their
head resembles a rabbit's, except that they have large bushy whiskers.
In the evening they sit outside the holes, and they all appear to be
moralizing. They are the most serious-looking animals I ever saw;
and even the young ones are grey-headed, wear moustachios, and look
thoughtful and grave. In the daytime their holes are guarded by two
little owls, which are never an instant away from their posts. As one
gallops by these owls, they always stand looking at the stranger, and
then at each other, moving their old-fashioned heads in a manner which
is quite ridiculous, until one rushes by them, when they get the better
of their dignified looks, and they both run into the Biscacho's hole."

Of all birds of prey, Owls are the most useful to man, by protecting his
corn-fields, or granaried provision, from mice and numberless vermin.
Yet, prejudice has perverted these birds into objects of superstition
and consequent hate. The kind-hearted Mr. Waterton says:--"I wish that
any little thing I could write or say might cause this bird to stand
better with the world at large than it has hitherto done; but I have
slender hope on this score, because old and deep-rooted prejudices are
seldom overcome; and when I look back into annals of remote antiquity,
I see too clearly that defamation has done its worst to ruin the whole
family, in all its branches, of this poor, harmless, useful friend of

The Barn Owl is common throughout Europe, known in Tartary, and rare in
the United States of America. In England it is called the Barn Owl, the
Church Owl, Gillihowlet, and Screech Owl; the last name is improperly
applied, as it is believed not to hoot, though Sir William Jardine
asserts that he has shot it in the act of hooting. To the screech
superstition has annexed ideas of fatal portent; "but," says Charlotte
Smith, "it has, of course, no more foreknowledge of approaching evil to
man than the Lark: its cry is a signal to its absent mate."

"If," says Mr. Waterton, "this useful bird caught its food by day
instead of hunting for it by night, mankind would have ocular
demonstration of its utility in thinning the country of mice; and it
would be protected and encouraged everywhere. It would be with us what
the Ibis was with the Egyptians. When it has young, it will bring a
mouse to the nest every twelve or fifteen minutes." Mr. Waterton saw his
Barn Owl fly away with a rat which he had just shot; he also saw her
drop perpendicularly into the water, and presently rise out of it with a
fish in her claws, which she took to her nest.

Birds and quadrupeds, and even fish, are the food of Owls, according to
the size of the species. Hares, partridges, grouse, and even the turkey,
are attacked by the larger Horned Owls of Europe and America; while
mice, shrews, small birds, and crabs suffice for the inferior strength
of the smaller Owls. Mr. Yarrell states that the Short-eared Owl is the
only bird of prey in which he ever found the remains of a bat.

William Bullock reports that a large Snowy Owl, wounded on the Isle of
Baltoc, disgorged a young rabbit; and that one in his possession had in
its stomach a sandpiper with its feathers entire. It preys on lemmings,
hares, and birds, particularly the willow-grouse and ptarmigan. It is
a dexterous fisher, grasping the fish with an instantaneous stroke of
the foot as it sails along near the surface of the water, or sits on
a stone in a shallow stream. It has been seen on the wing pursuing an
American hare, making repeated strokes at the animal with its foot. In
winter, when this Owl is fat, the Indians and white residents in the Fur
Countries esteem it to be good eating; its flesh is delicately white.
Small snakes are the common prey of this Owl during the daytime. And to
show on what various kinds of food Owls subsist, Mr. Darwin states that
a species that was killed among the islets of the Chonos Archipelago had
its stomach full of good-sized crabs. Such are a few of the facts which
attest the almost omnivorous appetite of the Owl.

The flight of the Snowy Owl is stronger and swifter than any other
bird of the family; its ears are very large; its voice (says Pennant)
adds horror even to the regions of Greenland by its hideous cries,
resembling those of a man in deep distress. The eye is very curious,
being immovably fixed in its socket, so that the bird, to view different
objects, must always turn its head; and so excellently is the neck
adapted to this purpose, that it can with ease turn the head round
in almost a complete circle, without moving the body. The Virginian
Eagle-Owl, amidst the forests of Indiana, utters a loud and sudden
_Wough O! wough O!_ sufficient to alarm a whole garrison; another of its
nocturnal cries resembles the half-suppressed screams of a person being
suffocated or throttled.

The Javanese Owl is found in the closest forests, and occasionally near
villages and dwellings. Dr. Horsfield says:--"It is not, however, a
favourite with the natives; various superstitious notions are also in
Java associated with its visits; and it is considered in many parts of
the island as portending evil." One of this species never visits the
villages, but resides in the dense forests, which are the usual resort
of the tiger. The natives even assert that the _Wowo-wiwi_ approaches
the animal with the same familiarity with which the jallack approaches
the buffalo, and that it has no dread to alight on the tiger's back. Dr.
Horsfield adds, that it has never been seen in confinement.

The Boobook Owl has the native name of Buck-buck, and it may be heard
in Australia every night during winter, uttering a cry corresponding
with that word. The note is somewhat similar to that of the European
_Cuckoo_, and the colonists have given it that name. The lower order of
settlers in New South Wales are led away by the idea that everything
is the reverse in that country to what it is in England; and the
_Cuckoo_, as they call this bird, singing by night, is one of the
instances which they point out.

Tame Owls are described as nearly as playful, and quite as affectionate,
as kittens; they will perch upon your wrist, touch your lips with their
beak, and hoot to order; and they are less inclined to leave their
friends than other tame birds. A writer in "Chambers's Journal" relates,
that a friend lost his favourite Owl, which flew away, and was absent
many days. In time, however, he came back, and resumed his habits and
duties, which, for a while, went on uninterruptedly. At length, one
severe autumn, he disappeared; weeks, months passed, and he returned
not. One snowy night, however, as his master sat by the blazing fire,
some heavy thing came bump against the shutters. "Whoo, whoo, whoo."
The window was opened, and in flew the Owl, shaking the thick snow from
his wings, and settling lovingly on his master's wrist, the bird's eyes
dilating with delight.

The Owls at Arundel Castle have a sort of historic interest; they
are kept within the circuit of the keep-tower, the most ancient and
picturesque portion of the castle. Among the Australian Owls here we
read of one larger than a turkey, measuring four feet across the wings
when expanded. The Owl named "Lord Thurlow," from his resemblance to
that Judge, is a striking specimen.

The accompanying illustration shows a fine specimen of Fraser's
Eagle-Owl, brought from Fernando Po. It is the size of an ordinary
fowl; colour, very dark reddish-brown mottling; back and wings passing
through all shades of the same colour into nearly white on the under
parts, where the feathers are barred; bill, pale greenish; eyes, nearly


Among the Owls but recently described is the Masked Owl of New Holland,
named from the markings of the disk of the face, somewhat grotesque;
the colours are brown variegated with white. A fine specimen of the
Abyssinian Owl is possessed by Mr. R. Good, of Yeovil: the bird,
although quite young, is of immense size.

Lastly, the Owl is thought to be of the same sympathy or kindred likings
as the Cat: a young Owl will feed well, and thrive upon fish. Cats, too,
it is well known, like fish. Both the Cat and the Owl, too, feed upon
mice. The sight of Owls, also, similar to that of Cats, appears to serve
them best in the dark.


Whatever may be the worth of weather prognostications, it is from the
animal kingdom that we obtain the majority. How these creatures become
so acutely sensible of the approach of particular kinds of weather is
not at present well understood. That in many cases the appearance of
the heavens is not the source from which their information is derived
is proved by the signs of uneasiness frequently expressed by them when,
as yet, the most attentive observer can detect no signs of change,
and even when they are placed in such circumstances as preclude the
possibility of any instruction from this quarter. For instance. Dogs,
closely confined in a room, often become very drowsy and stupid before
rain; and a leech, confined in a glass of water, has been found, by
its rapid motions or its quiescence, to indicate the approach of wet
or the return of fair weather. Probably the altered condition of the
atmosphere with regard to its electricity, which generally accompanies
change of weather, may so affect their constitution as to excite in
them pleasurable or uneasy sensations; though man is far from insensible
to atmospheric changes, as the feelings of utter listlessness which
many persons experience before rain, and the aggravated severity of
toothache, headache, and rheumatism abundantly testify. The Cat licking
itself is a special influence of the above electric influence, which
denotes the approach of rain.

Birds, as "denizens of the air," are the surest indicators of weather
changes. Thus, when swallows fly high, fine weather is to be expected
or continued; but when they fly low, or close to the ground, rain is
almost surely approaching; for swallows follow the flies and gnats,
which delight in warm strata of air. Now, as warm air is lighter, and
usually moister than cold air, when the warm strata of air are high
there is less chance of moisture being thrown down from them by their
mixture with cold air; but when the warm and moist air is close to the
surface, it is almost certain that, as the cold air flows down into it,
a deposition of water will take place.

When Seagulls assemble on the land, very stormy and rainy weather is
approaching. The cause of this migration to the land is the security of
these birds finding food; and they may be observed at this time feeding
greedily on the earth-worms and larvæ driven out of the ground by severe
floods; whilst the fish on which they prey in fine weather in the sea,
leave the surface, and go deeper in storms. The search after food is
the principal cause why animals change their places. The different
tribes of the wading birds always migrate when rain is about to take

There is a bird which takes its name from its apparent agency in
tempests. Such is the Stormy Petrel, which name Hawkesworth, in his
"Voyages," mentions the sailors give to the bird, but explains no
further. Navigators meet with the Little Petrel, or Storm Finch, in
every part of the ocean, diving, running on foot, or skimming over the
highest waves. It seems to foresee the coming storm long ere the seamen
can discover any signs of its approach. The Petrels make this known by
congregating together under the wake of the vessel, as if to shelter
themselves, and they thus warn the mariner of the coming danger. At
night they set up a piercing cry. This usefulness of the bird to the
sailor is the obvious cause of the latter having such an objection to
their being killed.

Mr. Knapp, the naturalist, thus pictures gulls, describing the Petrel's
action:--"They seem to repose in a common breeze, but upon the approach
or during the continuation of a gale, they surround the ship, and catch
up the small animals which the agitated ocean brings near the surface,
or any food that may be dropped from the vessel. Whisking like an arrow
through the deep valleys of the abyss, and darting away over the foaming
crest of some mountain-wave, they attend the labouring barque in all
her perilous course. When the storm subsides they retire to rest, and
are seen no more."

Our sailors have, from very early times, called these birds "Mother
Carey's Chickens," originally bestowed on them, Mr. Yarrell tells us, by
Captain Cartaret's sailors, probably from some celebrated ideal hag of
the above name. Mr. Yarrell adds:--"As these birds are supposed to be
seen only before stormy weather, they are not welcome visitors," a view
at variance with that already suggested.

The Editor of "Notes and Queries" considers the Petrels to have been
called _chickens_ from their diminutive size. The largest sort, "the
Giant Petrel," is "Mother Carey's _Goose_;" its length is forty
inches, and it expands seven feet. The common kind are about the size
of a swallow, and weigh something over an ounce; length, six inches;
expansion, thirteen inches; these are Mother Carey's _chickens_
(_Latham_). It should be borne in mind that our language does not
restrict the term chickens to young birds of the gallinaceous class.

The Missel-bird is another bird of this kind: in Hampshire and Sussex
it is called the _Storm Cock_, because it sings early in the spring, in
blowing, showery weather.

Petrels, by the way, are used by the inhabitants of the Faroe Islands as
lamps: they pass a wick through their bodies which, when lighted, burns
a long time from the quantity of fat they contain.

The Fulmar Petrel, in Boothia, follows the whale-ships, availing itself
of the labours of the fishermen by feeding on the carcases of the
whales when stripped of their blubber. In return the bird is exceedingly
useful to the whalers by guiding them to the places where whales are
most numerous, and crowding to the spots where they first appear on the
surface of the water.

Wild Geese and Ducks are unquestionably weather-wise, for their early
arrival from the north in the winter portends that a severe season is
approaching; because their early appearance is most likely caused by
severe frost having already set in at their usual summer residence. The
Rev. F. O. Morris, the well-known writer on natural history, records
from Nunburnholme, Yorkshire. December 5, 1864:--"This season, for the
first time I have lived here, I have missed seeing the flocks of Wild
Geese which in the autumnal months have heretofore wended their way
overhead, year after year, as regularly as the dusk of the evening came
on. Almost to the minute, and almost in the same exact course, they
have flown over aloft from the feeding-places on the Wolds to their
resting-places for the night; some, perhaps, to extensive commons, while
others have turned off to the mud-banks of the Humber, whence they have
returned with equal regularity in the morning.

"But this year I have seen not only not a single flock, but not even
a single bird. One evening one of my daughters did indeed see a small
flock of six, but even that small number only once. Whether it portends
a very hard winter, or what the cause of it may be, I am utterly at a
loss to know or even to guess. I quite miss this year the well-known
cackle of the old gander as he has led the van of the flock that has
followed him; now in a wide, now in a narrow, now in a short, now in a
long wedge, over head, diverging just from the father of the family, or
separating from time to time further back in the line.

"I may add, as a possible prognostication of future weather, that
fieldfares have, I think, been unusually numerous this year, as last
year they were the contrary. I have also remarked that swallows took
their departure this year more than ordinarily in a body, very few
stragglers being subsequently seen."

It will be sufficient to state that the mean temperature of January and
February was below that of the same month in the preceding year, and
that of March had not been so low for twenty years.

The opinion that sea-birds come to land in order to avoid an approaching
storm is stated to be erroneous; and the cause assigned is, that as the
fish upon which the birds prey go deep into the water during storms, the
birds come to land merely on account of the greater certainty of finding
food there than out at sea.

We add a few notes on Bird naturalists. The Redbreast has been called
_the Naturalist's Barometer_. When on a summer evening, though it be
unsettled and rainy, he sings cheerfully and sweetly on a lofty twig or
housetop, it is an unerring promise of succeeding fine days. Sometimes,
though the atmosphere be dry and warm, he may be seen melancholy
chirping and brooding in a bush or low in a hedge; this promises the
reverse. In the luxuriant forests of Brazil the Toucan may be heard
rattling with his large hollow beak, as he sits on the outermost
branches, calling in plaintive notes for rain.

When Mr. Loudon was at Schwetzingen, Rhenish Bavaria, in 1829, he
witnessed in the post-house there for the first time what he afterwards
frequently saw--an amusing application of zoological knowledge for the
purpose of prognosticating the weather. Two tree-frogs were kept in
a crystal jar about eighteen inches high and six inches in diameter,
with a depth of three or four inches of water at the bottom, and a
small ladder reaching to the top of the jar. On the approach of dry
weather the frogs mounted the ladder, but when moisture was expected
they descended into the water. These animals are of a bright green, and
in their wild state climb the trees in search of insects, and make a
peculiar singing noise before rain. In the jar they got no other food
than now and then a fly; one of which, Mr. Loudon was assured, would
serve a frog for a week, though it would eat from six to twelve flies in
a day if it could get them. In catching the flies put alive into the jar
the frogs displayed great adroitness.

Snails are extraordinary indicators of changes in the weather.
Several years ago, Mr. Thomas, of Cincinnati, known as an accredited
observer of natural phenomena, published some interesting accounts
of Weather-wise Snails. They do not drink (he observes), but imbibe
moisture in their bodies during rain, and exude it at regular periods
afterwards. Then a certain snail first exudes the pure liquid; when
this is exhausted, a light red succeeds, then a deep red, next yellow,
and lastly a dark brown. The snail is very careful not to exude more
of its moisture than is necessary. It is never seen abroad _except
before rain_, when we find it ascending the bark of trees and getting
on the leaves. The tree-snail is also seen ascending the stems of
plants _two days before rain_: if it be a long and hard rain they get
on the sheltered side of the leaf, but if a short rain the outside
of the leaf. Another snail has the same habits, but differs only in
colour: before rain it is yellow, and after it blue. Others show signs
of rain, not only by means of exuding fluids, but by means of pores and
protuberances; and the bodies of some snails have large tubercles rising
from them _before rain_. These tubercles commence showing themselves
ten days previous to the fall of rain they indicate; at the end of each
of these tubercles is a pore; and at the time of the fall of rain these
tubercles, with their pores opened, are stretched to their utmost to
receive the water. In another kind of snail, a few days before rain
appears a large and deep indentation, beginning at the head between
the horns, and ending with the jointure at the shells. Other snails,
a few days before the rain, crawl to the most exposed hill-side,
where, if they arrive before the rain descends, they seek some crevice
in the rocks, and then close the aperture of the shell with glutinous
substance; this, when the rain approaches, they dissolve, and are then
seen crawling about.

Our Cincinnati observer mentions three kinds of snails which move along
at the rate of a mile in forty-four hours; they inhabit the most dense
forests, and it is regarded as a sure indication of rain to observe them
moving towards an exposed situation. Others indicate the weather not
only by exuding fluids, but by the colour of the animal. After rain the
snail has a very dark appearance, but it grows of a bright colour as
the water is expended; whilst just before rain it is of yellowish white
colour, also just before rain streaks appear from the point of the head
to the jointure of the shell. These snails move at the rate of a mile in
fourteen days and sixteen hours. If they are observed ascending a cliff
it is a sure indication of rain: they live in the cavities of the sides
of cliffs. There is also a snail which is brown, tinged with blue on the
edges before rain, but black after rain: a few days before appears an
indentation, which grows deeper as the rain approaches.

The leaves of trees are even good barometers: most of them for a short,
light rain, will turn up so as to receive their fill of water; but for
a long rain they are doubled, so as to conduct the water away. The
Frog and Toad are sure indicators of rain; for, as they do not drink
water but absorb it into their bodies, they are sure to be found out
at the time they expect rain. The Locust and Grasshopper are also good
indicators of a storm; a few hours before rain they are to be found
under the leaves of trees and in the hollow trunks.

The Mole has long been recorded as a prognosticator of change of
weather, before which it becomes very active. The temperature or dryness
of the air governs its motions as to the depth at which it lives or
works. This is partly from its inability to bear cold or thirst, but
chiefly from its being necessitated to follow its natural food, the
earth-worm, which always descends as the cold or drought increases.
In frosty weather both worms and moles are deeper in the ground than
at other times; and both seem to be sensible of an approaching change
to warmer weather before there are any perceptible signs of it in the
atmosphere. When it is observed, therefore, that Moles are casting hills
through openings in the frozen turf or through a thin covering of snow,
a change to open weather may be shortly expected. The cause of this
appears to be--the natural heat of the earth being for a time pent in
by the frozen surface accumulates below it; first incites to action the
animals, thaws the frozen surface, and at length escapes into the air,
which is warm, and softens; and if not counterbalanced by a greater
degree of cold in the atmosphere brings about a change, such as from
frosty to mild weather. The Mole is most active and casts up most earth
immediately before rain, and in the winter before a thaw, because at
those times the worms and insects begin to be in motion, and approach
the surface.

Forster, the indefatigable meteorologist, has assembled some curious
observations on certain animals, who, by some peculiar sensibility to
electrical or other atmospheric influence, often indicate changes of the
weather by their peculiar motions and habits. Thus:--

_Ants._--An universal bustle and activity observed in ant-hills may be
generally regarded as a sign of rain: the Ants frequently appear all in
motion together, and carry their eggs about from place to place. This is
remarked by Virgil, Pliny, and others.

_Asses._--When donkeys bray more than ordinarily, especially should
they shake their ears, as if uneasy, it is said to predict rain, and
particularly showers. Forster noticed that in showery weather a donkey
brayed before every shower, and generally some minutes before the rain
fell, as if some electrical influence, produced by the concentrating
power of the approaching rain-cloud, caused a tickling in the wind-pipe
of the animal just before the shower came on. Whatever this electric
state of the air preceding a shower may be, it seems to be the same
that causes in other animals some peculiar sensations, which makes the
peacock squall, the pintado call "come back," &c. An expressive adage

    "When that the ass begins to bray,
    Be sure we shall have rain that day."

Haymakers may derive useful admonitions from the braying of the ass:
thus the proverb:--

    "Be sure to cock your hay and corn
    When the old donkey blows his horn."

_Bats_ flitting about late in the evening in spring and autumn foretel a
fine day on the morrow; as do Dorbeetles and some other insects. On the
contrary, when Bats return soon to their hiding-places, and send forth
loud cries, bad weather may be expected.

_Beetles_ flying about late in the evening often foretel a fine day on
the morrow.

_Butterflies_, when they appear early, are sometimes forerunners of fine
weather. Moths and Sphinxes also foretel fine weather when they are
common in the evening.

_Cats_, when they "wash their faces," or when they seem sleepy and dull,
foretel rain.

_Chickens_, when they pick up small stones and pebbles, and are more
noisy than usual, afford a sign of rain; as do fowls rubbing in the
dust, and clapping their wings; but this applies to several kinds of
fowls, as well as to the gallinaceous kinds. Cocks, when they crow at
unwonted hours, often foretel rain; when they crow all day, in summer
particularly, a change to rain frequently follows.

_Cranes_ were said of old to foretel rain when they retreated to the
valleys, and returned from their aërial flight. The high flight of
cranes in silence indicates fine weather.

_Dolphins_ as well as _Porpoises_, when they come about a ship, and
sport and gambol on the surface of the water, betoken a storm.

_Dogs_, before rain, grow sleepy and dull, lie drowsily before the fire,
and are not easily aroused. They also often eat grass, which indicates
that their stomachs, like ours, are apt to be disturbed before change
of weather. It is also said to be a sign of change of weather when Dogs
howl and bark much in the night. Dogs also dig in the earth with their
feet before rain, and often make deep holes in the ground.

_Ducks._--The loud and clamorous quacking of Ducks, Geese, and other
water-fowl, is a sign of rain; as also when they wash themselves, and
flutter about in the water more than usual. Virgil has well described
all these habits of aquatic birds.

_Fieldfares_, when they arrive early, and in great numbers, in autumn,
foreshow a hard winter, which has probably set in in the regions from
which they have come.

_Fishes_, when they bite more readily, and gambol near the surface of
streams or pools, foreshow rain.

_Flies_, and various sorts of insects, become more troublesome, and
sting and bite more than usual, before, as well as in the intervals of
rainy weather, particularly in autumn.

_Frogs_, by their clamorous croaking, indicate rainy weather, as does
likewise their coming about in great numbers in the evening; but this
last sign applies more obviously to toads.

_Geese_ washing, or taking wing with a clamorous noise, and flying to
the water, portend rain.

_Gnats_ afford several indications. When they fly in a vortex in the
beams of the setting sun they forebode fair weather; when they frisk
about more widely in the open air at eventide they foreshow heat; and
when they assemble under trees, and bite more than usual, they indicate

_Hogs_, when they shake the stalks of corn, and spoil them, often
indicate rain. When they run squeaking about, and jerk up their heads,
windy weather is about to commence; hence the Wiltshire proverb, that
"Pigs can see the wind."

_Horses_ foretel the coming of rain by starting more than ordinarily,
and by restlessness on the road.

_Jackdaws_ are unusually clamorous before rain, as are also _Starlings_.
Sometimes before change of weather the daws make a great noise in the
chamber wherein they build.

_Kine_ (cattle) are said to foreshow rain when they lick their
fore-feet, or lie on their right side. Some say oxen licking themselves
against the hair is a sign of wet.

_Kites_, when they soar very high in the air, denote fair weather, as do
also _Larks_.

_Magpies_, in windy weather, often fly in small flocks of three or four
together, uttering a strong harsh cry.

_Mice_ when they squeak much, and gambol in the house, foretel a change
of weather, and often rain.

_Owls._--When an owl hoots or screeches, sitting on the top of a house,
or by the side of a window, it is said to foretel death. "The fact,"
says Forster, "seems to be this: the Owl, as Virgil justly observes,
is more noisy at the change of weather, and as it often happens that
patients with lingering diseases die at the change of weather, so the
Owl seems, by a mistaken association of ideas, to forebode the calamity."

_Peacocks_ squalling by night often foretel a rainy day. Forster adds,
"This prognostic does not often fail; and the indication is made more
certain by the crowing of Cocks all day, the braying of the Donkey, the
low flight of Swallows, the aching of rheumatic persons, and by the
frequent appearance of spiders on the walls of the house."

_Pigeons._--It is a sign of rain when Pigeons return slowly to the
dove-houses before the usual time of day.

_Ravens_, when observed early in the morning, at a great height in the
air, soaring round and round, and uttering a hoarse, croaking sound,
indicate that the day will be fine. On the contrary, this bird affords
us a sign of coming rain by another sort of cry; the difference between
these two voices being more easily learned from nature than described.
The Raven frequenting the shore and dipping himself in the water is also
a sign of rain.

_Redbreasts_, when they, with more than usual familiarity, lodge on our
window-frames, and peck against the glass with their bills, indicate
severe weather, of which they have a presentiment, which brings them
nearer to the habitations of man.

_Rooks_ gathering together, and returning home from their pastures
early, and at unwonted hours, forebode rain. When Rooks whirl round in
the air rapidly, and come down in small flocks, making a roaring noise
with their wings, rough weather invariably follows. On the contrary,
when Rooks are very noisy about their trees, and fly about as if
rejoicing, Virgil assures us they foresee a return of fine weather, and
an end of the showers.

_Spiders_, when seen crawling on the walls more than usual, indicate
rain. "This prognostic," says Forster, "seldom fails, I have noticed it
for many years, particularly in winter, but more or less at all times of
the year. In summer the quantity of webs of the garden spiders denote
fair weather."

_Swallows_, in fine and settled weather, fly higher in the air than they
do just before or during a showery or rainy time. Then, also, Swallows
flying low, and skimming over the surface of a meadow where there is
tolerably long grass, frequently stop, and hang about the blades, as if
they were gathering insects lodged there.

_Swans_, when they fly against the wind, portend rain, a sign frequently

_Toads_, when they come from their holes in an unusual number in the
evening, although the ground be still dry, foreshow the coming rain,
which will generally fall more or less during the night.

_Urchins of the Sea_, a sort of fish, when they thrust themselves into
the mud, and try to cover their bodies with sand, foreshow a storm.

_Vultures_, when they scent carrion at a great distance, indicate that
state of the atmosphere which is favourable to the perception of smells,
and this often forebodes rain.

_Willow Wrens_ are frequently seen, in mild and still rainy weather,
flitting about the willows, pines, and other trees, in quest of insects.

_Woodcocks_ appear in autumn earlier, and in greater numbers, previous
to severe winters; as do Snipes and other winter birds.

_Worms_ come forth more abundantly before rain, as do snails, slugs, and
almost all limaceous animals.

Some birds build their nests weather-proof, as ascertained by careful
observation of Mr. M. W. B. Thomas, of Cincinnati, Ohio. Thus, when a
pair of migratory birds have arrived in the spring, they prepare to
build their nest, making a careful reconnaissance of the place, and
observing the character of the season. If it be a windy one, they thatch
the straw and leaves on the inside of the nest, between the twigs and
the lining; if it be very windy, they get pliant twigs, and bind the
nest firmly to the limb of the tree, securing all the small twigs with
their saliva. If they fear the approach of a rainy season, they build
their nests so as to be sheltered from the weather; but if a pleasant
one, they build in a fair open place, without taking any of these extra

Of all writers, Dr. Darwin has given us the most correct account of
the "Signs of Rain," in a poetical description of the approach of foul
weather, as follows. This passage has been often quoted, but, perhaps,
never exceeded in the accuracy of its phenomenal observation:--

    "The hollow winds begin to blow;
    The clouds look black, the glass is low;
    The soot falls down, the spaniels sleep;
    And spiders from their cobwebs peep.
    Last night the sun went pale to bed;
    The moon in haloes hid her head;
    The boding shepherd heaves a sigh,
    For, see, a rainbow spans the sky.
    The walls are damp, the ditches smell,
    Clos'd is the light red pimpernel.
    Hark! how the chairs and tables crack,
    Old Betty's joints are on the rack;
    Her corns with shooting pains torment her,
    And to her bed untimely send her.
    Loud quack the ducks, the sea-fowls cry,
    The distant hills are looking nigh.
    How restless are the snorting swine!
    The busy flies disturb the kine.
    Low o'er the grass the swallow wings,
    The cricket, too, how sharp he sings!
    Puss on the hearth, with velvet paws,
    Sits wiping o'er her whisker'd jaws.
    The smoke from chimneys right ascends;
    Then spreading back, to earth it bends.
    The wind unsteady veers around,
    Or settling in the South is found.
    Through the clear stream the fishes rise,
    And nimbly catch th' incautious flies.
    The glowworms num'rous, clear, and bright,
    Illum'd the dewy hill last night.
    At dusk, the squalid toad was seen,
    Like quadruped, stalk o'er the green.
    The whirling wind the dust obeys,
    And in the rapid eddy plays.
    The frog has chang'd his yellow vest,
    And in a russet coat is drest.
    The sky is green, the air is still,
    The mellow blackbird's voice is shrill.
    The dog, so altered is his taste,
    Quits mutton-bones on grass to feast.
    Behold the rooks, how odd their flight,
    They imitate the gliding kite,
    And seem precipitate to fall,
    As if they felt the piercing ball.
    The tender colts on banks do lie,
    Nor heed the traveller passing by.
    In fiery red the sun doth rise,
    Then wades through clouds to mount the skies.
    ''Twill surely rain, we see 't with sorrow,
    No working in the fields to-morrow.'"

The Shepherd of Banbury says:--"The surest and most certain sign of
rain is taken from Bees, which are more incommoded by rain than almost
any other creatures; and, therefore, as soon as the air begins to
grow heavy, and the vapours to condense, they will not fly from their
hives, but either remain in them all day, or else fly but to a small
distance." Yet Bees are not always right in their prognostics, for
Réaumur witnessed a swarm which, after leaving the hive at half-past one
o'clock, were overtaken by a heavy shower at three.


"Man favours wonders;" and this delight is almost endlessly exemplified
in the stories of strange Fishes--of preternatural size and odd forms,
which are to be found in their early history. In our present Talk we do
not aim at re-assembling these olden tales, but propose rather to glance
at recent accessions to our acquaintance with the study of Fish-life,
and a few modern instances of the class of wonders.

Fishes, like all other animals, have a very delicate sense of the
equilibrial position of their bodies. They endeavour to counteract all
change in their position by means of movements partly voluntary and
partly instinctive. These latter appear in a very remarkable manner in
the eye; and they are so constant and evident in fishes while alive,
that their absence is sufficient to indicate the death of the animal.
The equilibrium of the fish, its horizontal position, with the back
upwards, depends solely on the action of the fins, and principally
that of the vertical fins. The swimming-bladder may enable a fish
to increase or diminish its specific gravity. By compressing the air
contained in it, the fish descends in the water; it rises by releasing
the muscles which produced the compression. By compressing more or
less the posterior or anterior portion of the bladder, the animal, at
pleasure, can make the anterior or posterior half of its body lighter;
it can also assume an oblique position, which permits an ascending or
descending movement in the water.

There is a small fish found in the rivers of the Burmese Empire, which,
on being taken out of the water, has the power of blowing itself up to
the shape of a small round ball, but its original shape is resumed as
soon as it is returned to the river.

Mr. St. John, in his "Tour in Eastern Lanarkshire," gives some curious
instances of fish changing colour, which takes place with surprising
rapidity. Put a living black burn Trout into a white basin of water,
and it becomes, within half an hour, of a light colour. Keep the fish
living in a white jar for some days, and it becomes absolutely white;
but put it into a dark-coloured or black vessel, and although on first
being placed there the white-coloured fish shows most conspicuously on
the black ground, in a quarter of an hour it becomes as dark-coloured
as the bottom of the jar, and consequently difficult to be seen. No
doubt this facility of adapting its colour to the bottom of the water
in which it lives, is of the greatest service to the fish in protecting
it from its numerous enemies. All anglers must have observed, that in
every stream the Trout are very much of the same colour as the gravel or
sand on which they live: whether this change of colour is a voluntary or
involuntary act on the part of the fish, the scientific must determine.

Anglers of our time have proved that Tench croak like frogs; Herrings
cry like mice; Gurnards grunt like hogs; and some say the Gurnard makes
a noise like a cuckoo, from which he takes one of his country names. The
Maigre, a large sea-fish, when swimming in shoals, utters a grunting or
piercing noise, that may be heard from a depth of twenty fathoms.

M. Dufossé asserts that facts prove that nature has not refused to all
fishes the power of expressing their instinctive sensations by sounds,
but has not conferred on them the unity of mechanism in the formation
of sonorous vibrations as in other classes of vertebrated animals.
Some fishes, he says, are able to emit musical tones, engendered by a
mechanism in which the muscular vibration is the principal motive power;
others possess the faculty of making blowing sounds, like those of
certain reptiles; and others can produce the creaking noise resembling
that of many insects. These phenomena M. Dufossé has named "Fish-noise."

The River Plate swarms with fish, and is the _habitat_ of one possessed
of a very sonorous voice, like that found in the River Borneo--the
account of which is quoted by Dr. Buist from the Journal of the
Samarang; and there is similar testimony of a loud piscatory chorus
being heard on board H.M.S. Eagle, anchored, in 1845-6, about three
miles from Monte Video, during the night.

That fishes hear has been doubted, although John Hunter was of this
opinion, and has been followed by many observers. When standing beside
a person angling, how often is the request made not to make a noise,
as that would _alarm_ the fish. On the other hand, the Chinese drive
the fish up to that part of the river where their nets are ready to
capture them by loud yells and shouts, and the sound of gongs; but old
Æsop writes of a fisherman who caught no fish because he alarmed them
by playing on his flute while fishing. In Germany the Shad is taken
by means of nets, to which bows of wood, hung with a number of little
bells, are attached in such a manner as to chime in harmony when the
nets are moved. The Shad, when once attracted by the sound, will not
attempt to escape while the bells continue to ring. Ælian says the
Shad is allured by castanets. Macdiarmid, who declares that fishes
hear as well as see, relates that an old Codfish, the patriarch of the
celebrated fish-pond at Logan, "answered to his name; and not only
drew near, but turned up his snout most beseechingly when he heard the
monosyllable 'Tom;' and that he evidently could distinguish the voice of
the fisherman who superintended the pond, and fed the fish, from that
of any other fisherman." In the "Kaleidoscope" mention is made of three
Trout in a pond near the powder-mills at Faversham, who were so tame
as to come at the call of the person accustomed to feed them. Izaak
Walton tells of a Carp coming to a certain part of a pond to be fed "at
the ringing of a bell, or the beating of a drum;" and Sir John Hawkins
was assured by a clergyman, a friend of his, that at the Abbey of St.
Bernard, near Antwerp, he saw a Carp come to the edge of the water to be
fed, at the whistle of the person who fed it. The Carp at Fontainebleau,
inhabiting the lake adjoining the Imperial Palace, are of great size,
and manifest a curious instinct. A Correspondent of the "Athenæum"

     "Enjoying entire immunity from all angling arts and lures, the
     Fontainebleau Carp live a life of great enjoyment, marred only, we
     imagine, by their immense numbers causing the supply of food to be
     somewhat below their requirements. It is not, however, very easy to
     define what a Carp's requirements in the form of pabulum are, as he
     is a voracious member of the ichthyological family, eating whenever
     he has an opportunity until absolutely surfeited. His favourite
     food consists of vegetable substances masticated by means of flat
     striated teeth, which work with a millstone kind of motion against
     a singular process of the lower part of the skull covered with
     horny plates. When this fish obtains an abundant supply of food it
     grows to an enormous size. Several continental rivers and lakes
     are very congenial to Carp, and especially the Oder, where this
     fish occasionally attains the enormous weight of 60 lb. It is not
     probable that any Carp in the lake at Fontainebleau are so large as
     this; but there are certainly many weighing 50 lb., patriarchs of
     their kind, which, though olive-hued in their tender years, are now
     white with age. That the great size of these fish is due to ample
     feeding is, we think, evident, and, as we shall see presently, it
     is the large fish that are the best fed. During many years the
     feeding of the Carp at Fontainebleau has been a favourite Court
     pastime. But it is from the visitors who frequent Fontainebleau
     during a great part of the year that the Carp receive their
     most bountiful rations. For big Carp have an enormous swallow,
     soft penny rolls being mere mouthfuls, bolted with ostrich-like
     celerity. So to prevent the immediate disappearance of these
     _bonnes bouches_, bread, in the form of larger balls than the most
     capacious Carp can take into his gullet, is baked until it becomes
     as hard as biscuit, and with these balls the Carp are regailed.
     Throw one into the lake, and you will quickly have an idea of the
     enormous Carp population it contains. For no sooner does the bread
     touch the water than it is surrounded by hundreds of these fish,
     which dart to it from all sides. And now, if you look attentively,
     you will witness a curious display of instinct, which might almost
     take a higher name. Conscious, apparently, of their inability to
     crush these extremely hard balls, the Carp combine with surprising
     unanimity to push them to that part of the lake with their noses
     where it is bounded by a wall, and when there they butt at them,
     until at last their repeated blows and the softening effect of the
     water causes them to yield and open. And now you will see another
     curious sight. While shoals of Carp have been pounding away at
     the bread-balls, preparing them for being swallowed, some dozen
     monsters hover round, indifferent, apparently, to what is passing.
     But not so, for no sooner is the bread ready for eating, than two
     or three of these giants, but more generally one--the tyrant,
     probably, of the lake--rush to the prize, cleaving the shoals of
     smaller Carp, and shouldering them to the right and left, seize the
     bread with open jaws, between which it quickly disappears."

Some of the finest and oldest Carp are found in the windings of the
Spree, in the tavern-gardens of Charlottenburg, the great resort of
strollers from Berlin. Visitors are in the habit of feeding them with
bread, and collect them together by ringing a bell, at the sound of
which shoals of the fish may be seen popping their noses upwards from
the water.

The affection of fishes has only been properly understood of late years.
It might be supposed that little natural affection existed in this
cold-blooded race; and, in fact, fishes constantly devour their own
eggs, and, at a later period, their own young, without compunction or
discrimination. Some few species bear their eggs about with them until
hatched. This was long thought to be the utmost extent of care which
fishes lavished on their young; but Dr. Hancock has stepped in to rescue
at least one species from this unmerited charge. "It is asserted," he
says, "by naturalists, that no fishes are known to take any care of
their offspring. Both species of _Hassar_ mentioned below, however, make
a regular nest, in which they lay their eggs in a flattened cluster,
and cover them over most carefully. Their care does not end here; they
remain by the side of the nest till the spawn is hatched, with as much
solicitude as a hen guards her eggs, both the male and female Hassar,
for they are monogamous, steadily watching the spawn and courageously
attacking the assailant. Hence the negroes frequently take them by
putting their hands into the water close to the nest, on agitating which
the male Hassar springs furiously at them, and is thus captured. The
_roundhead_ forms its nest of grass, the _flathead_ of leaves. Both,
at certain seasons, burrow in the bank. They lay their eggs only in
wet weather. I have been surprised to observe the sudden appearance of
numerous nests in a morning after rain occurs, the spot being indicated
by a bunch of froth which appears on the surface of the water over
the nest. Below this are the eggs, placed on a bunch of fallen leaves
or grass, which they cut and collect together. By what means this is
effected seems rather mysterious, as the species are destitute of
cutting-teeth. It may, possibly, be by the use of their arms, which form
the first ray of the pectoral fin."

There is another operation by fishes, which seems to require almost
equal experience. Professor Agassiz, while collecting insects along the
shores of Lake Sebago, in Maine, observed a couple of Cat-fish, which,
at his approach, left the shore suddenly, and returned to the deeper
water. Examining the place which the fishes had left, he discovered
a _nest_ among the water-plants, with a number of little tadpoles.
In a few moments the two fishes returned, looking anxiously towards
the nest, and approached within six or eight feet of where Professor
Agassiz stood. They were evidently not in search of food, and he became
convinced that they were seeking the protection of their young. Large
stones, thrown repeatedly into the middle of the nest after the fishes
had returned to it, only frightened them away for a brief period, and
they returned to the spot within ten or fifteen minutes. This was
repeated four or five times with the same result. This negatives the
assertion made by some naturalists--that no fishes are known to take any
care of their offspring.

But affection is scarcely to be looked for where the offspring is so
very numerous as to put all attempts at even recognising them out of
the question. How could the fondest mother love 100,000 little ones at
once? Yet the number is far exceeded by some of the matrons of the deep.
Petit found 300,000 eggs in a single carp; Lenwenhoeck 9,000,000 in a
single cod; Mr. Harmer found in a sole 100,000; in a tench 300,000;
in a mackerel 500,000; and in a flounder 1,357,000.[14] M. Rousseau
disburthened a pike of 160,000, and a sturgeon of 1,567,000, while from
this latter class has been gotten 119 pounds weight of eggs, which, at
the rate of 7 to a grain, would give a total amount of 7,653,200 eggs!
If all these came to maturity the world would be in a short time nothing
but fish: means, however, amply sufficient to keep down this unwelcome
superabundance have been provided. Fish themselves, men, birds, other
marine animals, to say nothing of the dispersions produced by storms
and currents, the destruction consequent on their being thrown on the
beach and left there to dry up, all combine to diminish this excessive
supply over demand. Yet, on the other hand (so wonderfully are all
the contrivances of nature so harmonized and balanced), one of these
apparent modes of destruction becomes an actual means of extending the
species. The eggs of the pike, barbel, and many other fish, says M.
Virey, are rendered indigestible by an acid oil which they contain, and
in consequence of which they are passed in the same condition as they
were swallowed; the result of which is, that being taken in by ducks,
grebes, or other water-fowls, they are thus transported to situations,
such as inland lakes, which otherwise they could never have attained;
and in this way only can we account for the fact, now well ascertained,
that several lakes in the Alps, formed by the thawing of the glaciers,
are now abundantly stocked with excellent fish.

Little fishes are ordinarily the food of larger marine animals; but a
remarkable exception occurs in the case of the larger Medusæ, which
are stated in various works to prey upon fishes for sustenance. Mr.
Peach, the naturalist, has, however, by observations at Peterhead, in
Aberdeenshire, thus corrected this statement. He observed several small
fishes playing round the larger Medusæ in the harbour and bay. When
alarmed, they would rush under the umbrella, and remain sheltered in
its large folds till the danger had passed, when they would emerge,
and sport and play about their sheltering friend. When beneath the
umbrella they lay so close that they were frequently taken into a bucket
with the Medusæ. They proved to be young whitings, varying from 1-1/2
to 2 inches long. These little creatures, so far from becoming the
prey of the Medusæ, experienced from them protection; and, moreover,
they preferred the _stinging_ one. In no instance did Mr. Peach see a
fish in the stomach of the Medusæ, but all could liberate themselves
when they pleased. In one case, Mr. Peach witnessed a small whiting,
in the first instance chased by a single young pollack, whose assault
the little fellow easily evaded by dodging about; but the chaser being
joined by others, the whiting was driven from its imperfect shelter, and
after being much bitten and dashed about by its assailants, became at
length completely exhausted, and lay to all appearance dead. Recovering,
however, after action, it swam slowly to the Medusæ, and took refuge as
before; but its movements being soon observed, it was again attacked,
after a very brief respite, driven into open water, and speedily

Fishes appear to execute annually two great migrations. By one of these
shiftings they forsake the deep water for a time, and approach the
shallow shores, and by the other they return to their more concealed
haunts. These movements are connected with the purposes of spawning,
the fry requiring to come into life, and to spend a certain portion
of their youth in situations different from those which are suited
to the period of maturity. It is in obedience to these arrangements
that the Cod and Haddock, the Mackerel, and others, annually leave
the deeper and less accessible parts of the ocean, the region of the
zoophytic tribes, and deposit their spawn within that zone of marine
vegetation which fringes our coasts, extending from near the high-water
mark of neap-tides to a short distance beyond the low-water mark of
spring-tides. Amidst the shelter in this region afforded by the groves
of arborescent fuci, the young fish were wont in comfort to spend
their infancy, but since these plants have been so frequently cut down
to procure materials for the manufacture of kelp, and the requisite
protection withdrawn, the fisheries have greatly suffered. Many species
of fish, as the Salmon, Smelt, and others, in forsaking the deep water,
and approaching a suitable spawning station, leave the sea altogether
for a time, ascend the rivers and their tributary streams, and, having
deposited their eggs, return again to their usual haunts. Even a certain
species of fish, inhabiting lakes, as the Roach, betake themselves to
the tributary streams, as the most suitable places for spawning.

The Goramy, of India, are stated by General Hardwicke to watch most
actively the margins of the spot which they select and prepare for
depositing their spawn, driving away with violence every other fish
which approaches their cover. The General adds that from the time he
first noticed this circumstance about one month had elapsed, when one
day he saw numerous minute fishes close to the margin of the grass, on
the outer side of which the parent fishes continued to pass to and fro.

There is a species of Grampus from two to three tons weight, and about
sixteen feet in length, that amuses itself with jumping, or rather
springing its ponderous body entirely out of the water, in a vertical
position, and falling upon its back. This effort of so large a fish is
almost incredible, and informs us how surprisingly great the power of
muscle must be in this class of animal. A Correspondent writes to the
"United Service Journal":--"I have seen them spring out of the water
within ten yards of the ship's side, generally in the evening, after
having swam all the former part of the day in the ship's wake, or on
either quarter. When several of these fish take it into their heads to
'dance a hornpipe,' as the sailors term their gambols, at the distance
of half a mile, they, especially at or just after sundown, may easily
be mistaken for the sharp points of rocks sticking up out of the water,
and the splashing and foam they make and produce have the appearance
of the action of waves upon rocks. An officer of the navy informed me
that, after sunset, when near the equator, he was not a little alarmed
and surprised at the cry of 'rocks on the starboard bow!' Looking
forward, he indistinctly saw objects which he and all on board took
to be pinnacles of several rocks of a black and white colour. In a
short time, however, he discovered this formidable danger to be nothing
more than a company of dancing Grampuses with white bellies. As one
disappeared, another rose; so that there were at least five or six
constantly above the surface."

Captain Owen relates that "the Bonita has the power of throwing itself
out of the water to an almost incredible distance when in pursuit of
its prey, the Flying Fish; and, the day previous to our arrival at
Mozambique, one of these fish rose close under our bow, and passed under
the vessel's side, and struck with such force against the poop, that,
had any one received the blow, it must have been fatal. Stunned by the
violence of the contact, it fell motionless at the helmsman's feet; but,
soon recovering, its struggles were so furious that it became necessary
to inflict several blows with an axe before it could be approached
with safety. The greatest elevation it attained above the surface of
water was eighteen feet, and the length of the leap, had no opposition
occurred, would have exceeded 180."

Of winged or Flying Fish we find this extravagant account in a
philosophical romance, entitled, "Telliamed," by M. Maillet, an
ingenious Frenchman, of the days of Louis XV.:--

     He believed, like Lamarck, that the whole family of birds had
     existed one time as fishes, which, on being thrown ashore by the
     waves, had got feathers by accident; and that men themselves are
     but the descendants of a tribe of sea-monsters, who, tiring of
     their proper element, crawled upon the beach one sunny morning,
     and, taking a fancy to the land, forgot to return. The account
     is as amusing as a fairy tale. "Winged or Flying Fish," says
     Maillet, "stimulated by the desire of prey, or the fear of death,
     or pushed near the shore by the billows, have fallen among the
     reeds or herbage, whence it was not possible for them to resume
     their flight to the sea, by means of which they had contracted
     their first facility of flying. Then their fins, being no longer
     bathed in the sea-water, were split and became warped by their
     dryness. While they found among the reeds and herbage among which
     they fell many aliments to support them, the vessels of their fins
     being separated, were lengthened, or clothed with beards, or, to
     speak more justly, the membranes which before kept them adherent
     to each other were metamorphosed. The beard formed of these warped
     membranes was lengthened. The skin of these animals was insensibly
     covered with a down of the same colour with the skin, and this
     down gradually increased. The little wings they had under their
     belly, and which, like their wings, helped them to walk into the
     sea, became feet, and helped them to walk on the land. There were
     also other small changes in their figure. The beak and neck of some
     were lengthened, and of others shortened. The conformity, however,
     of the first figure subsists in the whole, and it will be always
     easy to know it. Examine all the species of fowl, even those of the
     Indies, those which are tufted or not, those whose feathers are
     reversed--such as we see at Damietta, that is to say, whose plumage
     runs from the tail to the head--and you will see fine species
     of fish quite similar, scaly or without scales. All species of
     Parrots, whose plumages are different, the rarest and most singular
     marked birds, are, conformable to fact, painted, like them, black,
     brown, grey, yellow, green, red, violet colour, and those of gold
     and azure; and all this precisely in the same parts, where the
     plumages of these birds are diversified in so curious a manner."

The Jaculator Fish, of Java, has been called "a sporting fish," from the
precision with which it takes aim at its prey. In 1828 Mr. Mitchell
saw several of these fishes in the possession of a Javanese chief; and
here is the account of the curious manner in which these Jaculators were
employed. They were placed in a small circular pond, from the centre
of which projected a pole upwards of two feet in height. At the top of
the pole were inserted small pieces of wood, sharp-pointed, and on each
of these were placed insects of the beetle tribe. When the slaves had
placed the beetles, the fish came out of their holes, and swam round the
pond. One of them came to the surface of the water, rested there, and
after steadily fixing its eyes for some time on an insect, it discharged
from its mouth a small quantity of watery fluid, with such force, and
precision of aim, as to strike it off the twig into the water, and in
an instant swallowed it. After this, another fish came, and performed
a similar feat, and was followed by the others, until they had secured
all the insects. If a fish failed in bringing down its prey at the first
shot, it swam round the pond till it came opposite the same object, and
fired again. In one instance, a fish returned three times to the attack
before it secured its prey; but in general the fish seemed very expert
gunners, bringing down the beetle at the first shot. The fish, in a
state of nature, frequents the shores and sides of the rivers in search
of food. When it spies a fly sitting on the plants that grow on shallow
water, it swims on to the distance of five or six feet from them, and
then, with surprising dexterity, it ejects out of its tubular mouth a
single drop of water, which rarely fails to strike the fly into the
sea, where it soon becomes its prey.

Curious fish, in great numbers, may be seen in the Harbour of Port
Royal, Jamaica, on the surface of the water, and are ranked among the
peculiarities of the place. They are the Guardo, or Guard-Fish; the Jack
(Sword-Fish); and the Ballahou. The Jack is the largest, and appears to
be always at war with the two others; it is armed with formidable teeth;
it basks on the surface of the water during the heat of the day, in a
sort of indolent, unguarded state; but this is assumed, the better to
ensnare the other fish, and to catch the floating bodies that may happen
to pass near it; for the moment anything is thrown into the sea from
the ship, the Jack darts with the rapidity of lightning upon it, and
seizing it as quickly, retreats. This Warrior-fish possesses a foresight
or instinctive quality which we see sometimes exemplified in different
animals, almost amounting to second reason, such as the sagacity it
displays in avoiding the hook when baited; although extremely voracious,
it seems aware of the lure held out for its destruction, and avoids
it with as much cunning as the generality of fishes show eagerness to
devour it. The situation it takes, immediately in the wake of the ship
at anchor, is another instance of its sagacity; as whatever is thrown
overboard passes astern, where the fish is ever on the alert for the
articles thrown over. No other fish of equal size dare approach. The
Jack is, however, sometimes enticed with the bait; but he is more
frequently struck with a barbed lance, or entrapped in a net. The
Guardo has similar habits with the Jack, but is generally beaten by
him; yet the former tyrannizes with unrelenting rigour over the weaker
associate, the Ballahou.

The tiger of the ocean, the Shark, is often cruising about Port Royal,
but rarely injures human life. At Kingston, however, such distressing
events often occur. There was a pet Shark known as "Old Tom of Port
Royal;" it was fed whenever it approached any of the ships, but was at
last killed by the father of a child which it had devoured. Whilst it
remained here, no other of the Shark tribe dare venture on his domain;
he reigned lord paramount in his watery empire, and never committed any
depredation but that for which he suffered.

Attending the Shark is seen the beautiful little Pilot Fish, who, first
approaching the bait, returns as if to give notice, when, immediately
after, the Shark approaches to seize it. It is a curious circumstance,
that this elegant little fish is seen in attendance only upon the Shark.
After the Shark is hooked, the Pilot Fish still swims about, and for
some time after he has been hauled on deck; it then swims very near the
surface of the water. When the Shark has been hooked, and afterwards
escapes, he generally returns, and renews the attack with increased
ferocity, irritated often by the wound he has received.

Sharks appear to have become of late years much more numerous in Faroe,
as they have also in other parts of the North Seas, especially on the
coast of Norway.

The reader may, probably, have found on the sea-shore certain cases,
which are fancifully called sea-purses, Mermaids' purses, &c. Now,
some Sharks bring forth their young alive, whilst others are enclosed
in oblong semi-transparent, horny cases, at each extremity of which
are two long tendrils. These cases are the above _purses_, which the
parent Shark deposits near the shore in the winter months. The twisting
tendrils hang to sea-weed, or other fixed bodies, to prevent the cases
being washed away into deep water. Two fissures, one at each end, allow
the admission of sea-water; and here the young Shark remains until it
has acquired the power of taking food by the mouth, when it leaves what
resembles its cradle. The young fish ultimately escapes by an opening at
the end, near which the head is situated.

California has yielded an extraordinary novelty in fish history. In 1854
Mr. Jackson, while fishing in San Salita Bay, caught with a hook and
line a fish of the perch family _containing living young_. These were
supposed to be the prey which the fish had swallowed, but on opening
the belly was found next to the back of the fish, and slightly attached
to it, a long very light violet bag, so clear and transparent that
there could already be distinguished through it the shape, colour, and
formation of a multitude of small fish (all facsimiles of each other),
with which the bag was filled. They were in all respects like the
mother, and like each other; and there cannot remain a single doubt that
these young were the offspring of the fish from whose body they were
taken; and that this species of fish gives birth to her young alive
and perfectly formed, and adapted to seek its own livelihood in the
water. Professor Agassiz has confirmed the truth of this extraordinary
statement by a careful examination of the specimens, and has ascertained
that there are two very distinct species of this remarkable type of

Tales of "Wonderful Fish" are common in the works of the old
naturalists, whence they are quoted from generation to generation.
Sir John Richardson has lately demolished one queer fish, which was
as certain to reappear whenever opportunity offered, as the elephant
pricked with the tailor's needle does in books of stories of the animal
world. We allude to that monstrous myth, the great Manheim Pike, with
a collar round his neck, put into a lake by the Emperor Frederick II.
in the year 1230; and taken out in the 276th year of his age, the 17th
foot of his length, and the 350th pound of his weight. M. Valenciennes,
a naturalist of repute, has entered into a critical history of this
monster, and has found him to be apocryphal. The creature was, at any
rate, taken in several places at once, the legends written on his
brass collar do not agree, and his alleged skeleton has been found
to be made up of various bones of various fishes; while the vertebræ
are, unfortunately, so many, that Professor Owen would order him out
of Court in an instant as a rank impostor. Probably some specimen of
the _Mecho_, the monstrous fish of the Danube--which has even now been
scarcely described, and which has only recently been identified as one
of the salmon tribe--having been called a pike, may be at the bottom of
the legend of the great Manheim fish. But Sir John Richardson produces
another big pike, killed by an intrepid "angler seventy years of age,
with a single rod and bait"--an observation which leads to the inquiry
of the possibility of catching a single fish with more than one rod
and bait--"that weighed seventy-eight pounds." This is stated to have
happened in the county of Clare; the angler's name was O'Flanagan.

Here is another wonderful story:--The Bohemians have a proverb--"Every
fish has another for prey:" that named the Wels has them all. This is
the largest fresh-water fish found in the rivers of Europe, except the
sturgeon; it often reaches five or six feet in length. It destroys many
aquatic birds, and we are assured that it does not spare the human
species. On the 3d of July, 1700, a peasant took one near Thorn, that
had an infant entire in its stomach! They tell in Hungary of children
and young girls being devoured on going to draw water; and they even
relate that, on the frontiers of Turkey, a poor fisherman took one that
had in its stomach the body of a woman, her purse full of gold, and
a _ring_! The fish is even reported to have been taken sixteen feet
long. The old stories of rings found in the stomachs of fishes will be
remembered; as well as here and there a _book_ found in the stomach of a

The Sun-fish is exceedingly rare. A large specimen was captured off
Start Point in 1864. Attention was first drawn to a huge dark object on
the water. On a boat being sent out, it was soon discovered to be the
back fin of a very large fish, apparently asleep. A very exciting chase
commenced, extending over an hour, the crew meanwhile battling with
harpoons, boat-hooks, &c.; the fish trying several times to upset the
boat by getting his back under it. At length a line was thrown over its
head, and the fish, being weakened by the struggle, was towed alongside
the yacht, hoisted on board, and slaughtered. Yarrell, in his work on
British Fishes, states the largest Sun-fish to be about 3 cwt., but the
above specimen weighed nearly 6 cwt. Sun-fish are found occasionally in
the tropical seas of large dimensions, but those found in the Channel
seldom if ever exceed from 1 cwt. to 2 cwt. The peculiarities in regard
to this fish are, that it has no bones, but the whole of the formation
is of cartilage, which can easily be cut with a knife. The skin is
cartilage of about an inch and a-half thick, under which there is no
backbone or ribs. This specimen was of extraordinary dimensions--5 ft.
10 in. in length, and 7 ft. from the tip of the dorsal to the point of
the anal fin.

The "Courrier de Sagon" brings, as a contribution to Natural History,
the not very credible-sounding description of a fish called "Ca-oug"
in the Anamite tongue, which is said to have saved the lives already
of several Anamites; for which reason the King of Anam has invested it
with the name of "Nam hai dui bnong gnan" (Great General of the South
Sea). This fish is said to swim round ships near the coast, and, when it
sees a man in the water, to seize him with his mouth, and to carry him
ashore. A skeleton of this singular inhabitant of the deep is to be seen
at Wung-tau, near Cape St. James. It is reported to be thirty-five feet
in length, to have tusks "almost like an elephant," very large eyes, a
black and smooth skin, a tail like a lobster, and two "wings" on its

The Grouper must be a voracious fish, for we read of a specimen being
caught off the coast of Queensland, which is thus described:--"It was
7 ft. long, 6 ft. in circumference at its thickest part, and its head
weighed 80 lb. When opened, there were found in its stomach two broken
bottles, a quart pot, a preserved milk tin, seven medium-sized crabs; a
piece of earthenware, triangular in shape, and three inches in length,
incrusted with oyster shells, a sheep's head, some mutton and beef
bones, and some loose oyster shells. The spine of a skate was imbedded
in the Grouper's liver."

The Double-fish, here represented, is a pair of Cat-fish, which were
taken alive in a shrimp-net, at the mouth of Cape Fear River, near
Fort Johnston. North Carolina, in 1833, and presented to Professor
Silliman. One of them is three and a-half, and the other two and a-half
inches long, including the tail--the smallest emaciated, and of sickly
appearance. They are connected in the manner of the Siamese Twins, by
the skin at the breast, which is marked by a dark streak at the line of
union. The texture and colour otherwise of this skin is the same as that
of the belly. The mouth, viscera, &c., were entire and perfect in each
fish; but, on withdrawing the entrails, through an incision made on one
side of the abdomen, the connecting integument was found to be hollow.
A flexible probe was passed through from one to the other, with the
tender and soft end of a spear of grass, drawn from a green plant. But
there was no appearance of the entrails of one having come in contact
with those of the other, for the integument was less than one-tenth of
an inch in its whole thickness; in length, from the body or trunk of
one fish to the other, it was three-tenths; and in the water, when the
largest fish was in its natural position, the small one could, by the
length and pliancy of this skin, swim in nearly the same position. When
these fish came into existence it is probable they were of almost equal
size and strength, but one "born to better fortune," or exercising more
ingenuity and industry than the other, gained a trifling ascendency,
which he improved to increase the disparity, and, by pushing his
extended mouth in advance of the other, seized the choicest and most of
the food for himself.

From the northern parts of British America we have received
extraordinary contributions to our fish collections. One of these is
the Square-browed Malthe, obtained in one of the land expeditions under
the command of Captain Sir John Franklin. R.N. It was taken on the
Labrador coast, and then belonged to a species hitherto undescribed.
Its intestines were filled with small crabs and univalve shells. The
extreme length of the fish is 7 inches 11 lines. The upper surface
is greyish white, with brown blotches, and the fins are whitish. The
head is much depressed and greatly widened; the eyes far forward; the
snout projecting like a small horn. Most of the fish of this family
can live long out of water, in consequence of the smallness of their
gill-openings; indeed, those of one of the genera are able, even in warm
countries, to pass two or three days in creeping over the land. All the
family conceal themselves in the mud or sand, and lie in wait to take
their prey by surprise. The accompanying engraving is from the very
able work of Dr. Richardson, F.R.S., published by the munificence of


Gold Fish (of the Carp family) have been made to distinguish a
particular sound made by those from whom they receive their food; they
recognise their footsteps at a distance, and come at their call. Captain
Brown says Gold Fish, when kept in ponds, are "frequently taught to rise
to the surface of the water at the sound of a bell to be fed;" and Mr.
Jesse was assured that Gold Fish evince much pleasure on being whistled
to. Hakewill, in his "Apology for God's Power and Providence," cites
Pliny to show that a certain emperor had ponds containing fish, which,
when called by their respective _names_ that were bestowed upon them,
came to the spot whence the voice proceeded. Bernier, in his "History
of Hindustan," states a like circumstance of the fish belonging to the
Great Mogul. The old poet, Martial, also mentions fish coming at the
call, as will be seen by the following translation from one of his

    "Angler! could'st thou be guiltless? Then forbear:
    For these are sacred fishes that swim here;
    Who know their Sovereign, and will lick his hand.
    Than which none's greater in the world's command;
    Nay, more; they've names, and when they called are.
    Do to their several owners' call repair."

Who, after reading so many instances, can doubt that fish hear?

It has been found that the water from steam-engines, which is thrown
into dams or ponds for the purpose of being cooled, conduces much to
the nutriment of Gold Fish. In these dams, the average temperature
of which is about eighty degrees, it is common to keep Gold Fish; in
which situation they multiply much more rapidly than in ponds of lower
temperature exposed to variations of the climate. Three pair of fish
were put into one of these dams, where they increased so rapidly that at
the end of three years their progeny, which was accidentally poisoned
by verdigris mixed with the refuse tallow from the engine, were taken
out by wheel-barrow-fuls. Gold Fish are by no means useless inhabitants
of these dams, as they consume the refuse grease which would otherwise
impede the cooling of the water by accumulating on its surface. It is
not improbable that this unusual supply of aliment may co-operate with
increase of temperature in promoting the fecundity of the fishes.

Most of our readers have heard of the fish popularly known as the
Miller's Thumb, the origin of the name of which Mr. Yarrell has thus
explained:--"It is well known that all the science and tact of a miller
is directed so to regulate the machinery of his mill that the meal
produced shall be of the most valuable description that the operation
of grinding will permit, when performed under the most advantageous
circumstances. His ear is constantly directed to the note made by the
running stone in its circular course over the bedstone, the exact
parallelism of their two surfaces, indicated by a particular sound,
being a matter of the first consequence; and his hand is constantly
placed under the meal-spout to ascertain, by actual contact, the
character and quality of the meal produced, which he does by a
particular movement of his thumb in spreading the sample over his
fingers. By this incessant action of the miller's thumb, a peculiarity
in its shape is produced, which is said to resemble exactly the shape of
the _river bull-head_, a fish constantly found in the mill-stream, and
which has obtained for it the name of the Miller's Thumb."

M. Coste has constructed a kind of marine observatory at Concarneau
(Finisterre) for the purpose of studying the habits and instincts of
various Sea-fish. A terrace has been formed on the top of a house on the
quay, with reservoirs arranged like a flight of steps. The sea-water is
pumped up to the topmost reservoir, and thence flows down slowly, after
the manner of a rivulet. The length is divided into 95 cells by wire
net partitions, which, allowing free passage to the water, yet prevent
the different species of fish from mingling together. By this ingenious
contrivance each kind lives separate, enjoying its peculiar food and
habits, unconscious of its state of captivity. Some species, such as the
Mullet, the Stickleback, &c., grow perfectly tame, will follow the hand
that offers them food, and will even allow themselves to be taken out of
the water. The Goby and Bull-head are less familiar. The Turbot, which
looks so unintelligent, will, nevertheless, take food from the hand;
it changes colour when irritated, the spots with which it is covered
growing pale or dark, according to the emotions excited in it. But
the most curious circumstance concerning it is, that it swallows fish
of a much larger size than would appear compatible with the apparent
smallness of its mouth. Thus, a young Turbot, not more than ten inches
in length, has been seen to swallow Pilchards of the largest size. The
Pipe-Fish has two peculiarities. These fish form groups, entwining their
tails together, and remaining immoveable in a vertical position, with
their heads upwards. When food is offered them, they perform a curious
evolution--they turn round on their backs to receive it. This is owing
to the peculiar position of the mouth, which is placed under a kind of
beak, and perpendicular to its axis.

The crustaceous tribes have also furnished much matter of observation.
The Prawn and Crab, for instance, exercises the virtue of conjugal
fidelity to the highest degree; for the male takes hold of his mate,
and never lets her go; he swims with her, crawls about with her, and if
she is forcibly taken away from him, he seizes hold of her again. The
metamorphoses to which various crustaceous tribes are subject have also
been studied with much attention.[16]

Much as the nature and habits of fish have been studied of late years,
the economy of some is to this day involved in obscurity. The Herring
is one of these fishes. The Swedish Herring Fisheries were, at one
time, the largest in Europe, but at present, during the temporary
disappearance of the fish, they have dwindled away. The causes which
influence the movements of the Herring--one of the most capricious of
fish--are a puzzle which naturalists have as yet failed to solve. They
are not migratory, as was at one time believed--that is, they seldom
wander far from the place where they were bred; but they are influenced
by certain hidden and unexplained causes at one time to remain for years
in the deep sea, and at another to come close in to land in enormous
numbers. During the first half of the sixteenth century, Herrings
entirely deserted the Swedish coasts. In 1556 they reappeared, and
remained for thirty-one years in the shallow waters. Throughout this
period they were taken in incalculable numbers; "thousands of ships came
annually from Denmark, Germany, Friesland, Holland, England, and France,
to purchase the fish, of which sufficient were always found for them
to carry away to their own or other countries.... From the small town
of Marstrand alone some two million four hundred thousand bushels were
yearly exported." In 1587 the Herrings disappeared, and remained absent
for seventy-three years, till 1660. In 1727 they returned, and again in
1747, remaining till 1808, and during this last period the fisheries
were prosecuted with extraordinary zeal, industry, and success. The
Government gave every encouragement to settlers, and it was computed
that during some years as many as fifty thousand strangers took part
in them. In 1808 the Herrings once more disappeared, and have never
returned since. The cause must still be considered as quite unknown; but
we may fairly assume, according to historical precedents, that after a
certain period of absence, the Herrings will again return.[17]

Aristotle, in his "History of Animals," makes some extremely curious
observations on Fish and Cetaceous Animals, as might be expected from
the variety of these animals in the Grecian seas. In Spratt and Forbes's
"Travels in Syria" the account of the habits and structure of the
Cuttle-fish in Aristotle's work is ranked amongst the most admirable
natural history essays ever written. It is, moreover, remarkable for its

Dr. Osborne, in 1840, read to the Royal Society a short analysis of
this work, in which he showed that Aristotle anticipated Dr. Jenner's
researches respecting the cuckoo; as also some discoveries respecting
the incubated egg, which were published as new in the above year.
Aristotle describes the economy of bees as we have it at present; but
mistakes the sex of the queen. The various organs are described as
modified throughout the different classes of animals (beginning with
man) in nearly the same order as that afterwards adopted by Cuvier.

The chief value of this body of knowledge, which has been buried for
above 2,000 years, is, that it is a collection of facts observed under
peculiar advantages, such as never since occurred, and that _it is at
the present day to be consulted for new discoveries_.

According to Pliny, for the above work some thousands of men were placed
at Aristotle's disposal throughout Greece and Asia, comprising persons
connected with hunting and fishing, or who had the care of cattle,
fish-ponds, and apiaries, in order that he might obtain information from
all quarters, _ne quid usquam gentium ignoretur ab eo_. According to
Athenæus, Aristotle received from the prince, on account of the expenses
of the work, 800 talents, or upwards of 79,000_l._


[14] A tench was brought to Mr. Harmer so full of spawn that the skin
was burst by a slight knock, and many thousands of the eggs were lost;
yet even after this misfortune he found the remainder to amount to
383,252! Of other marine animals, which he includes under the general
term fish, the fecundity, though sufficiently great, is by no means
enormous. A lobster yielded 7,227 eggs; a prawn 3,806; and a shrimp
3,057. See Mr. Harmer's paper, "Philosophical Transactions," 1767.

[15] "Athenæum."

[16] See "The Tree-climbing Crab," pp. 282-302.

[17] "Saturday Review."


In this bitterly cold country, where the snow lies deep six months out
of the twelve, the natives subsist principally on fish, of which there
is an extraordinary abundance generally, and of salmon particularly.
Salmon swarm in such numbers that the rivers cannot hold them. In June
and July every rivulet, no matter how shallow, is so crammed with salmon
that, from sheer want of room, they push one another high and dry upon
the pebbles; and Mr. Lord[18] tells us that each salmon, with its head
up, struggles, fights, and scuffles for precedence. With one's hands
only, or more easily by employing a gaff or a crook-stick, tons of
salmon have been procured by the simple process of hooking them out.
Once started on their journey, the salmon never turn back. As fast as
those in front die, fresh arrivals crowd on to take their places, and
share their fate. "It is a strange and novel sight to see three moving
lines of fish--the dead and dying in the eddies and slack water along
the bank, the living breasting the current in the centre, blindly
pressing on to perish like their kindred." For two months this great
_salmon army_ proceeds on its way up stream, furnishing a supply of food
without which the Indians must perish miserably. The winters are too
severe for them to venture out in search of food, even if there was any
to be obtained. From being destitute of salt, they are unable to cure
meat in the summer for winter provisions, and hence for six months in
the year they depend upon salmon, which they preserve by drying in the

But the Indian has another source of provision for the winter, fully
as important as the salmon. The Candle-fish supplies him at once with
light, butter, and oil.[19] When dried, and perforated with a rush,
or strip of cypress-bark, it can be lighted, and burns steadily until
consumed. Strung up, and hung for a time in the smoke of a wood fire,
it is preserved as a fatty morsel to warm him when pinched with cold;
and, by heat and pressure, it is easily converted into liquid oil, and
drunk with avidity. That nothing may be wanting, the hollow stalk of the
sea-wrack, which at the root is expanded into a complete flask, makes an
admirable bottle; and so, when the Indian buries himself for long dreary
months in his winter quarters, neither his larder nor his cellar are
empty, and he has a lamp to lighten the darkness. The steamers have,
however, frightened away the Candle-fish and the Indian from their old
haunts, and they have both retreated to the north of the Colombia River.

Amongst the other inhabitants of the salt and fresh waters of these
regions are the Halibut and the Sturgeon, both of which attain to an
immense size. The bays and inlets along the coast abound with marine
wonders. There feasts and fattens the Clam, a bivalve so gigantic that
no oyster-knife can force an entrance, and only when his shell is almost
red-hot will he be at last constrained to open his dwelling.

And there lies in wait the awful Octopus, a monster of insatiable
voracity, of untameable ferocity, and of consummate craft; of sleepless
vigilance, shrouded amidst the forest of sea-weed, and from the touch of
whose terrible arms no living thing escapes. It attains to an enormous
size in those seas, the arms being sometimes five feet in length, and as
thick at the base as a man's wrist. No bather would have a chance if he
once got within the grasp of such a monster, nor could a canoe resist
the strength of its pull; but the Indian, who devours the Octopus with
great relish, has all the cunning created by necessity, and takes care
that none of the eight sucker-dotted arms ever gain a hold on his frail

Professor Owen has figured a species of Octopus, the Eight-armed Cuttle
of the European seas, representing it in the act of creeping on shore,
its body being carried vertically in the reverse position, with its head
downwards, and its back being turned towards the spectator, upon whom it
is supposed to be advancing. This animal is said to be luminous in the
dark. Linnæus quotes Bartholinus for the statement that one gave so much
light that when the candle was taken away, it illuminated the room.

The Sturgeon is one of the finest fishes of the country, and Mr. Lord's
account of the Indian mode of taking them is a very graphic picture of
this river sport.

     "The spearman stands in the bow, armed with a most formidable
     spear. The handle, from seventy to eighty feet long, is made of
     white pine-wood; fitted on the spear-haft is a barbed point,
     in shape very much like a shuttlecock, supposing each feather
     represented by a piece of bone, thickly barbed, and very sharp
     at the end. This is so contrived that it can be easily detached
     from the long handle by a sharp, dexterous jerk. To this barbed
     contrivance a long line is made fast, which is carefully coiled
     away close to the spearman, like a harpoon-line in a whale-boat.
     The four canoes, alike equipped, are paddled into the centre of
     the stream, and side by side drift slowly down with the current,
     each spearman carefully feeling along the bottom with his spear,
     constant practice having taught the crafty savages to know a
     Sturgeon's back when the spear comes in contact with it. The
     spear-head touches the drowsy fish; a sharp plunge, and the
     redskin sends the notched points through armour and cartilage,
     deep into the leather-like muscles. A skilful jerk frees the long
     handle from the barbed end, which remains inextricably fixed in
     the fish; the handle is thrown aside, the line seized, and the
     struggle begins. The first impulse is to resist this objectionable
     intrusion, so the angry Sturgeon comes up to see what it all
     means. This curiosity is generally repaid by having a second spear
     sent crashing into him. He then takes a header, seeking safety in
     flight, and the real excitement commences. With might and main the
     bowman plies the paddle, and the spearman pays out the line, the
     canoe flying through the water. The slightest tangle, the least
     hitch, and over it goes; it becomes, in fact, a sheer trial of
     paddle _versus_ fin. Twist and turn as the Sturgeon may, all the
     canoes are with him. He flings himself out of the water, dashes
     through it, under it, and skims along the surface; but all is in
     vain, the canoes and their dusky oarsmen follow all his efforts
     to escape, as a cat follows a mouse. Gradually the Sturgeon
     grows sulky and tired, obstinately floating on the surface. The
     savage knows he is not vanquished, but only biding a chance for
     revenge; so he shortens up the line, and gathers quietly on him
     to get another spear in. It is done,--and down viciously dives
     the Sturgeon; but pain and weariness begin to tell, the struggles
     grow weaker and weaker as life ebbs slowly away, until the mighty
     armour-plated monarch of the river yields himself a captive to the
     dusky native in his frail canoe."

There is a very rare Spoonbill Sturgeon found in the western waters
of North America: its popular name is Paddle-fish. One, five feet in
length, weighed forty pounds; the nose, resembling a spatula, was
thirteen inches in length. It was of a light slate colour, spotted with
black; belly white; skin smooth, like an eel; the flesh compact and
firm, and hard when boiled--not very enticing to the epicure. The jaws
are without teeth, but the fauces are lined with several tissues of the
most beautiful network, evidently for the purpose of collecting its food
from the water by straining, or passing it through these membranes in
the same manner as practised by the spermaceti whale. Near the top of
the head are two small holes, through which it is possible the Sturgeon
may discharge water in the manner practised by cetaceous animals. It is
conjectured that the long "Spoonbill" nose of this fish is for digging
up or moving the soft mud in the bottom of the river, and when the water
is fully saturated, draw it through the filamentory strainers in search
of food.

Sturgeons resemble sharks in their general form, but their bodies are
defended by bony shields, disposed in longitudinal rows; and their head
is also well curiassed externally. The Sturgeons of North America are of
little benefit to the natives. A few speared in the summer-time suffice
for the temporary support of some Indian hordes; but none are preserved
for winter use, and the roe and sounds are utterly wasted.

The northern limit of the Sturgeon in America is probably between the
55th and 56th parallels of latitude. Dr. Richardson did not meet with
any account of its existence to the north of Stewart's Lake, on the west
side of the Rocky Mountains; and on the east side it does not go higher
than the Saskatchewan and its tributaries. It is not found in Churchill
River, nor in any of the branches of the Mackenzie or other streams that
fall into the Arctic Seas--a remarkable circumstance when we consider
that some species swarm in the Asiatic rivers which flow into the Icy
Sea. Sturgeons occur in all the great lakes communicating with the
St. Lawrence, and also along the whole Atlantic coast of the United
States down to Florida. Peculiar species inhabit the Mississippi; it is,
therefore, probable that the range of the genus extends to the Gulf of

The great rapid which forms the discharge of the Saskatchewan into Lake
Winnipeg appears quite alive with these fish in the month of June; and
some families of the natives resort thither at that time to spear them
with a harpoon, or grapple them with a strong hook tied to a pole.
Notwithstanding the great muscular power of the Sturgeon, it is timid;
and Dr. Richardson saw one so frightened at the paddling of a canoe,
that it ran its nose into a muddy bank, and was taken by a _voyageur_,
who leaped upon its back.

In Colombia River, a small species of Sturgeon attains eleven feet in
length, and a weight of six hundred pounds.[20] It is caught as high up
as Fort Colville, notwithstanding the numerous intervening cataracts and
rapids which seem to be insuperable barriers to a fish so sluggish in
its movements.

The Sturgeon is styled a Royal Fish in England, because, by a statute
of Edward II. it is enacted, "the King shall have Sturgeon taken in the
sea, or elsewhere, within the realm."


[18] "The Naturalist in Vancouver Island and British Columbia." By John
Keast Lord, F.Z.S., Naturalist to the British North American Boundary

[19] The Petrel is similarly used in the Faroe Islands. (See _ante_, p.
234.) It may, therefore, be called the Candle Bird.

[20] Dr. Richardson. The _Huro_ is reported by Pallas to attain a weight
of nearly three thousand pounds, and a length exceeding thirty feet.


The transition from the ordinary mode of the locomotion of fishes by
swimming to that of climbing has been ably illustrated by the Rev. Dr.
Buckland, who showed, in a communication to the Ashmolean Society, in
1843, that the fins in certain genera perform the functions of feet
and wings. Thus, "fishing-frogs" have the fins converted into feet, or
paddles, by means of which they have the power of crawling or hopping
on sand and mud; and another species can live three days out of the
water, and walk upon dry land. The climbing perch of the Indian rivers
is known to live a long time in the air, and to climb up the stems of
palm-trees in pursuit of flies, by means of spinous projections on its
gill-covers. Fishes of the _silurus_ family have a bony enlargement of
the first ray of the pectoral fin, which is also armed with spines;
and this is not only an offensive and defensive weapon, but enables
the fish to walk along the bottom of the fresh waters which it
inhabits. The flying-fishes are notorious examples of the conversion
of fins into an organ of movement in the air. M. Deslongchamps has
published, in the "Transactions of the Linnæan Society of Normandy,"
1842, a curious account of the movements of the gurnard at the bottom of
the sea. In 1839, he observed these movements in one of the artificial
fishing-ponds, or fishing-traps, surrounded by nets, on the shore of
Normandy. He saw a score of gurnards closing their fins against their
sides, like the wing of a fly in repose, and without any movement of
their tails, walking along the bottom by means of six free rays, three
on each pectoral fin, which they placed successively on the ground.
They moved rapidly forwards, backwards, to the right and left, groping
in all directions with these rays, as if in search of small crabs.
Their great heads and bodies seemed to throw hardly any weight on the
slender rays, or feet, being suspended in water, and having their weight
further diminished by their swimming-bladder. During these movements the
gurnards resembled insects moving along the sand. When M. Deslongchamps
moved in the water, the fish swam away rapidly to the extremity of the
pond; when he stood still, they resumed their ambulatory movement, and
came between his legs. On dissection, we find these three anterior rays
of the pectoral fins to be supported each with strong muscular apparatus
to direct their movements, apart from the muscles that are connected
with the smaller rays of the pectoral fin.

Dr. Buckland states that Miss Potts, of Chester, had sent to him a
flagstone from a coalshaft at Mostyn, bearing impressions which he
supposed to be the trackway of some fish crawling along the bottom
by means of the anterior rays of its pectoral fins. There were no
indications of feet, but only scratches, symmetrically disposed on each
side of a space that may have been covered by the body of the fish
whilst making progress, by pressing its fin-bones on the bottom. As yet,
no footsteps of reptiles, or of any animals more highly organized than
fishes, have been found in strata older than those which belong to the
new red sandstone. The abundant remains of fossil fishes, armed with
strong bony spines, and of other fishes allied to the gurnard, in strata
of the carboniferous and old red sandstone series, would lead us to
expect the frequent occurrence of impressions made by their locomotive
organs on the bottoms of the ancient waters in which they lived. Dr.
Buckland proposed to designate these petrified traces or trackways of
ancient fishes by the term of fish-tracks.

Crabs and Lobsters are strange creatures: strange in their
configurations; strange in the transmutations which they exhibit from
the egg to maturity; strange in the process they undergo of casting off,
not only their shell, but the covering of their eyes, of their long
horns, and even the lining of their tooth-furnished stomach; strange,
also, are they in their manners and habits. Many a reader, in wandering
along the sea-shore, may have disturbed little colonies of Crabs
quietly nestling in fancied security amidst banks of slimy sea-weed; and
in the nooks and recesses of the coast, the shallows, and strips of land
left dry at ebb-tide, may be seen numbers of little, or perchance large,
Crabs, some concealed in snug lurking-places, others tripping, with a
quick _side-long_ movement, over the beach, alarmed by the advance of an
unwelcome intruder. Some are exclusively tenants of the water, have feet
formed like paddles for swimming, and never venture on land; others seem
to love the air and sunshine, and enjoy an excursion, not without hopes
of finding an acceptable repast, over the oozy sands; some, equally fond
of the shore and shallow water, appropriate to themselves the shells of
periwinkles, whelks, &c., and there live in a sort of castle, which they
drag about with them on their excursions, changing it for a larger as
they increase in measure of growth. They vary in size from microscopic
animalcules to the gigantic King Crab:[21] to the former, the luminosity
of the ocean, or of the foam before the prows of vessels, is, to a
great extent, attributable, each minute creature glowing with phosphoric

The Bernhard Crab has been proved to have the power of dissolving
shells, it not being unusual to find the long fusiform shells which are
inhabited by these animals with the inner lip, and the greater part of
the pillar on the inside of the mouth, destroyed, so as to render the
aperture much larger than usual. Dr. Gray is quite convinced that these
Crabs have the above power, some to a much greater degree than others.

Certain Crabs, especially in the West Indies, are almost exclusively
terrestrial, visiting the sea only at given periods, for the deposition
of their eggs. These Crabs carry in their gill-chambers sufficient water
for the purpose of respiration; they live in burrows, and traverse
considerable tracts of land in the performance of their migratory
journeys. Of these, some, as the Violet Crab, are exquisite delicacies.

Of a great Crab migration we find these details in the "Jamaica Royal
Gazette:"--In 1811 there was a very extraordinary production of Black
Crabs in the eastern part of Jamaica. In June or July the whole district
of Manchidneed was covered with countless numbers, swarming from the sea
to the mountains. Of this the writer was an eye-witness. On ascending
Over Hill from the vale of Plantain Garden River, the road appeared of a
reddish colour, as if strewed with brick-dust. It was owing to myriads
of young Black Crabs, about the size of the nail of a man's finger,
moving at a pretty quick pace, direct for the mountains. "I rode along
the coast," says the writer, "a distance of about fifteen miles, and
found it nearly the same the whole way. Returning the following day, I
found the road still covered with them, the same as the day before. How
have they been produced, and where do they come from? were questions
everybody asked, and nobody could answer. It is well known that Crabs
deposit their eggs once a year, in May; but, except on this occasion,
though living on the coast, I had never seen above a dozen young Crabs
together; and here were myriads. No unusual number of old Crabs had been
observed in that season; and it is worthy of note, that they were moving
from a rock-bound coast of inaccessible cliffs, the abode of sea-birds,
and exposed to the constant influence of the trade winds. No person, as
far as I know, ever saw the like, except on that occasion; and I have
understood that since 1811 Black Crabs have been more abundant further
in to the interior of the island than they were ever known before."

Cuvier describes the Burrowing Crab as displaying wonderful
instinct:--"The animal closes the entrance of its burrow, which is
situated near the margin of the sea, or in marshy grounds, with its
largest claw. These burrows are cylindrical, oblique, very deep, and
very close to each other; but generally each burrow is the exclusive
habitation of a single individual. The habit which these crabs have of
holding their large claw elevated in advance of the body, as if making a
sign of beckoning to some one, has obtained for them the name of Calling
Crabs. There is a species observed by Mr. Bosc in South Carolina,
which passes the three months of the winter in its retreat without
once quitting it, and which never goes to the sea except at the epoch
of egg-laying." The same observations apply to the Chevalier Crabs (so
called from the celerity with which they traverse the ground). These are
found in Africa, and along the borders of the Mediterranean.

Some Crabs, truly aquatic, as the Vaulted Crab of the Moluccas, have
the power of drawing back their limbs, and concealing them in a furrow,
which they closely fit; and thus, in imitation of a tortoise, which
retracts its feet and head within its shell, they secure themselves,
when alarmed. Other aquatic species have their limbs adapted for
clinging to weeds and other marine objects. Of these some have the
two or four hind pairs of limbs so placed as to appear to spring from
the back; they terminate in a sharp hook, by means of which the Crab
attaches itself to the valves of shells, fragments of coral, &c.,
which it draws over its body, and thus lurks in concealment. Allied,
in some respects, to the Hermit or Soldier Crabs, which tenant empty
shells, is one which, from its manners and habits, is one of the most
extraordinary of its race. The Hermit Crabs are voracious, and feed
on animal substances. The Hermit, or Bernhard Crab, is so called from
its habit of taking up its solitary residence in deserted shells, thus
seeking a protection for its tail, which is long and naked. It is found
in shells of different dimensions, and from time to time leaves its
abode, as it feels a necessity, for a more commodious dwelling. It is
said to present, on such occasions, an amusing instinct as it inserts
the tail successively into several empty shells until one is found to
fit. We learn from Professor Bell, however, that it does not always wait
until the home is vacant, but occasionally rejects the rightful occupant
with some violence. On the contrary, the Crab, or rather Lobster-Crab
(for it takes an intermediate place between them), is more delicate in
its appetite, and feeds upon fruits, to obtain which it is said to climb
up certain trees, at the feet of which it makes a burrow. This species
is the Purse Crab, or Robber Crab, of Amboyna and other islands in the
South Pacific Ocean.

"According to popular belief among the Indians," says Cuvier, "the
Robber Crab feeds on the nuts of the cocoa-tree, and it makes its
excursions during the night; its places of retreat are fissures in the
rocks, or holes in the ground." The accounts of the early writers and
travellers, as well as of the natives, were disbelieved; but their truth
has since been abundantly confirmed. MM. Quoy and Guimard assure us that
several Robber Crabs were fed by them for many months on cocoa-nuts
alone; and a specimen of this Crab was submitted to the Zoological
Society, with additional information from Mr. Cuming, in whose fine
collection from the islands of the South Pacific several specimens were
preserved. Mr. Cuming states these Crabs to be found in great numbers in
Lord Hood's Island, in the Pacific. He there frequently met with them on
the road. On being disturbed, the Crabs instantly assumed a defensive
attitude, making a loud snapping with their powerful claws, or pincers,
which continued as they retreated backwards. They climb a species of
palm to gather a small kind of cocoa-nut that grows thereon. They live
at the roots of trees, and not in the holes of rocks; and they form a
favourite food among the natives. Such is the substance of Mr. Cuming's
account. Mr. Darwin, in his "Researches in Geology and Natural History,"
saw several of these Crabs in the Keeling Islands, or Cocos Islands, in
the Indian Ocean, about 600 miles distant from the coast of Sumatra. In
these islands, of coral formation, the cocoa-nut tree is so abundant as
to appear, at first glance, to compose the whole wood of the islands.

Here the great Purse Crab is abundant. Mr. Darwin describes it as a Crab
which lives on the cocoa-nut, is common on all parts of the dry land,
and grows to a monstrous size. This Crab has its front pair of legs
terminated by very strong and heavy pincers, and the last pair by others
which are narrow and weak. It would at first be thought quite impossible
for a Crab to open a strong cocoa-nut, covered with the husk; but Mr.
Liesk assures me that he has repeatedly seen the operation effected.
The Crab begins by tearing away the husk, fibre by fibre, and always
from that end under which the three eye-holes are situated. When this
is completed the Crab commences hammering with its heavy claws on one
of these eye-holes till an opening is made. Then, turning its body, by
the aid of its posterior and narrow pair of pincers, it extracts the
white albuminous substance. I think this as curious a case as I ever
heard of, and likewise of adaptation in structure between two objects
apparently so remote from each other in the scheme of nature as a Crab
and a cocoa-nut tree. The Crab is diurnal in its habits; but it is said
to pay every night a visit to the sea for the purpose of moistening its
gills. These gills are very peculiar, and scarcely fill up more than a
tenth of the chamber in which they are placed: it doubtless acts as a
reservoir for water, to serve the Crab in its passage over the dry and
heated land. The young are hatched and live for some time on the coast;
at this period of existence we cannot suppose that cocoa-nuts form any
part of their diet; most probably soft saccharine grasses, fruits, and
certain animal matters, serve as their food until they attain a certain
size and strength.

The adult Crabs, Mr. Darwin tells us, inhabit deep burrows, which they
excavate beneath the roots of trees; and here they accumulate great
quantities of the picked fibres of the cocoa-nut husk, on which they
rest as on a bed. The Malays sometimes take advantage of the labours of
the Crab by collecting the coarse fibrous substance, and using it as
junk. These Crabs are very good to eat; moreover, under the tail of the
larger ones there is a great mass of fat, which, when melted, yields as
much as a quart bottleful of limpid oil.

The Crab's means of obtaining the cocoa-nuts have, however, been much
disputed. It is stated by some authors to crawl up the trees for the
purpose of stealing the nuts. This is doubted; though in the kind of
palm to which Mr. Cuming refers as being ascended by this Crab, the
task would be much easier. Now, Mr. Darwin states, that in the Keeling
Islands the Crab lives only on the nuts which fall to the ground. It
may thus appear that Mr. Cuming's and Mr. Darwin's respective accounts
of the _non-climbing_ of this Crab on the one side, and its _actually
climbing trees_ on the other, are contradictory. The height of the stem
of the cocoa-nut tree, its circumference, and comparative external
smoothness, would prove insurmountable, or at least very serious
obstacles, to the most greedy Crab, however large and strong it might
be. But these difficulties are by no means so formidable in the tree
specified by Mr. Cuming: this is arborescent, or bushy, with long, thin,
rigid, sword-shaped leaves, resembling those of the pineapple, usually
arranged spirally, so that they are commonly called Screw Pines. They
are of the genus _Pandanus_, a word derived from the Malay _Pandang_.
The ascent of these arborescent plants, having the stem furnished
with a rigging of cord-like roots, and bearing a multitude of firm,
long, and spirally-arranged leaves, would be by no means a work of
difficulty, as would necessarily be that of the tall feathery-topped
cocoa-tree, destitute of all available points of aid or support. Hence
the contradiction in the two accounts referred to is seeming, and not
real, and the two statements are reconciled.

To sum up, Mr. Cuming fully testifies to the Crab climbing the Screw
Pines; and he has told Professor Owen that he has actually seen the Crab
climbing the cocoa-nut tree. The Crab has been kept on cocoa-nuts for
months; and is universally reported by the natives to climb the trees at


We may here, too, observe, that fine specimens of the Climbing Crab are
to be seen in the British Museum. Here, too, arranged in cases, are
Spider Crabs; Crabs with oysters growing on their backs, thus showing
that Crabs do not shed their shells every year, or that the oyster
increases very rapidly in bulk; Oval-bodied Crabs; and Fin-footed or
Swimming Crabs. Here are also Telescope, or Long-eyed Crabs, and Land
Crabs, found in India 4,000 feet above the sea-level; another of similar
habits in the plains of the Deccan, that may be seen swarming in the
fields, some cutting and nipping the green rice-stalks, and others
waddling off backwards with sheaves bigger than themselves. To these
may be added Square-bodied Crabs, Crested Crabs; Porcelain Crabs, with
delicate, china-like shells; and Death's-head Crabs, which usually form
cases for themselves from pieces of sponge and shells.

Certain species of Crabs are remarkably tenacious of life, and have been
known to live for weeks buried, and without food. It is in the Crab
tribe that the fact of the metamorphosis of _crustacea_ has been most
distinctly perceived; a small, peculiar crustacean animal, that had
long passed for a distinct species, under the name of _Zoea_, having at
length been identified with the young of the common Crab before it had
attained its full development.

That among the Crab tribes a tree-climbing species is to be found is
certainly curious, but it is not without a parallel among fishes. Many
of the latter leave the water, some even for a long time, and perform
overland journeys, aided in their progress by the structure of their
fins. In these fishes the gills and gill-chambers are constructed for
the retention of water for a considerable time, so as to suffice for the
necessary degree of respiration. In our country, we may mention the eel,
which often voluntarily quits the river or lake, and wanders during the
night over the adjacent meadows, probably in quest of dew-worms. But the
marshes of India and China present us with fishes much more decidedly
terrestrial, and some of which were known to the ancients. Among these
are several fishes of a snake-like form: they have an elongated,
cylindrical body, and creep on land to great distances from their native
waters. The boatmen of India often keep these fishes for a long time
out of water, for the sake of diverting themselves and others by their
terrestrial movements, and children may often be seen enjoying this

Of these land-haunting fishes, the most remarkable is the tree-climber,
so called in Tranquebar. This fish inhabits India, the Indian islands,
and various parts of China, as Chusan, &c., living in marshes, and
feeding on aquatic insects, worms, &c. According to Daldorf, a Danish
gentleman, who, in 1797, communicated an account of the habits of this
fish to the Linnæan Society, it _mounts up_ the bushes or low palms
to some elevation. This gentleman states that he had himself observed
it in the act of ascending palm-trees near the marshes, and had taken
it at a height of no less than five feet, measured from the level of
the adjacent water. It effects its ascent by means of its pectoral and
under fins, aided by the action of the tail and the spines which border
the gill covers. It is by the same agency that it traverses the land.
The statement of M. Daldorf is corroborated by M. John, also a Danish
observer, to whom we are indebted for the knowledge of its name in
Tranquebar, which alludes to its arboreal proceedings.

It is true that many other naturalists who have observed the habits
of this fish in its native regions, while they concur in describing
its terrestrial journeys, and its living for a long time out of water,
either omit to mention, or mention with doubt, its reputed attempts at

The habits and instincts of certain Crawfishes are very extraordinary.
Thus, the _Astaci_ are migratory, and in their travels are capable of
doing much damage to dams and embankments. On the Little Genesee River
they have, within a few years, compelled the owner of a dam to rebuild
it. The former dam was built after the manner of dykes, _i.e._, with
upright posts, supporting sleepers, laid inclining up the stream. On
these were laid planks, and the planks were covered with dirt. The
_Astacus_ proceeding up the stream would burrow under the planks where
they rested on the bottom of the stream, removing bushels of dirt and
gravel in the course of a night. They travel over the dam in their
migrations, _often climbing posts_ two or three feet high to gain the
pond above.[22]

We have to add a new and eccentric variety of nature--the Pill-making
Crab, which abounds at Labuan, Singapore, and Lahore, and is described
in Mr. Collingwood's "Rambles of a Naturalist." When the tide is down,
this little creature, if stealthily watched, may be seen creeping up
a hole in the sandy shore, taking up rapidly particles of the loose
powdery sand in its claws, and depositing them in a groove beneath the
thorax. A little ball of sand, about the size of a filbert, is forthwith
projected, though whether it passes actually through the mouth is not
made clear. Pill after pill is seized with one claw, and laid aside,
until the beach is covered with these queer little pellets. This is
evidently the creature's mode of extracting particles of food from the

Mr. Collingwood also describes, as met with on the shores and waters of
the China seas, Glass Crabs, whose flat, transparent, leaf-like bodies
seem made of fine plates of mica. The dredge brings up many a rich
haul of sponges, corals, and gorgoniæ, of the most splendid colours,
certain of the sponges harbouring within their cells minute crabs of a
new genus. Between Aden and Galle the sea is of a pinkish colour, owing
to the immense accumulation of minute kinds of medusæ, in solid masses
of red jelly. Over Fiery Cross Reef, the mirror-like sea reveals, at
the depth of sixty or seventy feet, this wealth of natural treasures.
"Glorious masses of living coral strew the bottom: immense globular
madrepores--vast overhanging mushroom-shaped expansions, complicated
ramifications of interweaving branches, mingled with smaller and more
delicate species--round, finger-shaped, horn-like and umbrella-form--lie
in wondrous confusion. Here and there is a large clam-shell, wedged
in between masses of coral, the gaping, zigzag mouth covered with the
projecting mantle of the deepest Prussian blue; beds of dark purple,
long-spined Echini, and the thick black bodies of sea-cucumbers vary the
aspect of the sea bottom."[23]


[21] This Crab has an elongated spine-like tail, the use of which was
long misunderstood. Dr. J. Gray was shown at the Liverpool Museum some
living King Crabs, and the use they made of the tail-like appendages.
When turned over on their backs, he saw them bend down the tail until
they could reach some point of resistance, and then employ it to
elevate the body, and regain their normal position. Dr. Gray states
that they never have been seen to use this tail for the purpose which
has been often assigned to it--that is, for leaping from place to place
by bending it under the body, like the toy called a "spring-jack," or
"leaping frog."

[22] American Journal of Science and Art.

[23] W. C. Linnæus Martin, F.L.S.


A small Lizard, lately brought home from the Isle of Formosa by Mr.
Swinhoe, is decided to be a new species by Dr. Günther, of the British
Museum. Mr. Swinhoe found the eggs of this Gecko, or Lizard, in holes of
walls or among mortar rubbish. They are round, and usually lie several
together, resembling eggs of ordinary Lizards. The young, when first
hatched, keep much under stones in dark cellars, where they remain
until they attain about two-thirds of the adult size, when they begin
to appear in public to catch insects, but evincing great shyness of
their seniors. Mr. Swinhoe states that on the plaster-washed sides of
his bedroom, close to the angle of the roof, every evening when the lamp
was placed on the table below, four little Musical Lizards used to make
their appearance and watch patiently for insects attracted by the light.
A sphinx or a beetle buzzing into the room would put them into great
excitement, and they would run with celerity from one part of the wall
to the other after the deluded insect as it fluttered in vain, buffeting
its head, up and down the wall. Two or three would run after the same
insect, but as soon as one had succeeded in securing it, the rest would
prudently draw aloof. In running over the perpendicular face of the wall
they keep so close, and their movements are made so quickly, with one
leg in advance of the other, that they have the appearance at a distance
of gliding rather than running. The tail is somewhat writhed as the body
is jerked along, and much so when the animal is alarmed and doing its
utmost to escape; but its progress even then is in short runs, stopping
at intervals and raising its head to look about. If a fly perch on the
wall it cautiously approaches to within a short distance, then suddenly
darts forwards, and with its quickly-protruded, glutinous tongue, fixes
it. Apart from watching its curious manoeuvres after its insect-food,
the attention of the most listless would be attracted by the singular
series of loud notes these creatures utter at all hours of the day and
night, more especially during cloudy and rainy weather. These notes
resemble the syllables "chuck-chuck," several times repeated; and, from
their more frequent occurrence during July and August, they are thought
to be the call notes of the male to the female.

During the greater part of the day, the little creature lies quiescent
in some cranny among the beams of the roof or in the wall of the house,
where, however, it is ever watchful for the incautious fly that
approaches its den, upon whom it darts forth with but little notice. But
it is by no means confined to the habitations of men. Every old wall,
and almost every tree, possesses a tenant or two of this species. It is
excessively lively, and even when found quietly ensconced in a hole,
generally manages to escape--its glittering little eyes (black, with
yellow ochre iris) appearing to know no sleep; and an attempt to capture
the runaway seldom results in more than the seizure of an animated tail,
wrenched off with a jerk by the little fellow as it slips away, without
loss of blood. The younger individuals are much darker than the larger
and older animals, which are sometimes almost albinoes. In ordinary
fly-catching habits, as they stick to the sides of a lamp, there is much
similarity between this gecko and the little papehoo, or wall-lizard
of China; but this is decidedly a larger and much more active animal,
and often engages in a struggle with insects of very large size. The
Chinese colonists of Formosa greatly respect the geckos, in consequence
of a legend which attributes to them the honour of having once poisoned
the supplies of an invading rebellious army, which was thereby totally
cut to pieces. The geckos were raised to the rank of generals by the
grateful Emperor of China; which honour, the legend states, they greatly
appreciated, and henceforth devoted their energies to the extermination
of mosquitoes and other injurious insects.


      "Nil fuit unquam
    Sic impar sibi."--_Horat._

    "Sure such a various creature ne'er was seen."

                    _Francis, in imit._

The Chameleon tribe is a well-defined family of lizard-like reptiles,
whose characters may be summed up as existing in the form of their feet;
the toes, which are joined together or bound up together in two packets
or bundles, opposed to each other; in their shagreen-like skin; in their
prehensile tail; and in their extensile and retractile vermiform tongue.

That the Chameleon was known to the ancients there is no doubt. Its
name we derive directly from the _Chamelæo_ of the Latins. Aristotle's
history of the animal proves the acute observation of that great
zoologist--the absence of a sternum, the disposition of the ribs, the
mechanism of the tail, the motion of the eyes, the toes bound up in
opposable bundles, &c.--though he is not entirely correct on some
points. Pliny mentions it, but his account is for the most part a
compilation from Aristotle.

Calmet's description of the Chameleon is curiously minute:--"It has
four feet, and on each foot three claws. Its tail is long: with this,
as well as with his feet, it fastens itself to the branches of trees.
Its tail is flat, its nose long, ending in an obtuse point; its back is
sharp, its skin plaited, and jagged like a saw, from the neck to the
last joint of the tail, and upon its head it has something like a comb;
like a fish, it has no neck. Some have asserted that it lives only upon
air, but it has been observed to feed on flies, catched with its tongue,
which is about ten inches long and three thick, made of white flesh,
round, but flat at the end, or hollow and open, resembling an elephant's
trunk. It also shrinks, and grows longer. This animal is said to assume
the colour of those things to which it is applied; but our modern
observers assure us that its natural colour, when at rest, and in the
shade, is a bluish-grey; though some are yellow, others green, but both
of a smaller kind. When it is exposed to the sun, the grey changes into
a darker grey, inclining to a dun colour, and its parts which have least
of the light upon them are changed into spots of different colours.
Sometimes, when it is handled, it seems speckled with dark spots,
inclining to green. If it be put upon a black hat, it appears to be of a
violet colour; and sometimes, if it be wrapped up in linen, it is white;
but it changes colour only in some parts of the body."

Its changes of colour have been commemorated by the poets. Shakspeare

    "I can add colours ev'n to the Chameleon:
    Change shapes with Proteus, for advantage."

Dryden has--

    "The thin Chameleon, fed with air, receives
    The colour of the thing to which it cleaves."

Prior has--

    "As the Chameleon, which is known
    To have no colours of his own,
    But borrows from his neighbour's hue
    His white or black, his green or blue."

Gay, in his charming fable of the Spaniel and the Chameleon, "scarce
distinguished from the green," makes the latter thus reply to the taunts
of the pampered spaniel:--

    "'Sir,' says the sycophant, 'like you,
    Of old, politer life I knew:
    Like you, a courtier born and bred,
    Kings lean'd their ear to what I said:
    My whisper always met success;
    The ladies prais'd me for address;
    I knew to hit each courtier's passion,
    And flatter'd every vice in fashion:
    But Jove, who hates the liar's ways,
    At once cut short my prosperous days,
    And, sentenced to retain my nature,
    Transform'd me to this crawling creature.
    Doom'd to a life obscure and mean,
    I wander'd in the silvan scene:
    For Jove the heart alone regards;
    He punishes what man rewards.
    How different is thy case and mine!
    With men at least you sup and dine;
    While I, condemned to thinnest fare,
    Like those I flatter'd, fed on air.'"

Upon this fable a commentator acutely notes:--"The raillery at court
sycophants naturally pervades our poet's writings, who had suffered so
much from them. Here, however, he intimates something more, namely, the
apposite dispensations to man's acts, even in this world. The crafty is
taken in by his own guile, the courtier falls by his own arts, and the
ladder of ambition only prepares for the aspirant a further fall."[24]

With respect to the air-food of the Chameleon. Cuvier observes that
its lung is so large that, when it is filled with air, it imparts a
transparency to the body, which made the ancients say that it lived
upon air; and he inclines to think that to its size the Chameleon owes
the property of changing its colour; but, with regard to this last
speculation, he was wrong, as we shall presently see.

It was long thought that the Chameleon, like most of the lizard tribe,
was produced from an egg. The little animal is, however, most clearly
viviparous, and not oviparous, although the tales told of the lizard
tribe in the story books are most perplexing. To name a few of them:--1.
The crocodile, which is the largest of the lizard tribe, and has even
attained the size of 18-1/2 ft. in length, is confidently stated as
laying eggs, which she covers with sand and leaves, to be hatched by the
sun; and these have been met with in the rivers Nile, Niger, and Ganges.
2. _Lacerta Gangetica_, unknown to Linnæus, but brought to this country
from Bengal in 1747 by the late Dr. Mead, is said to be furnished
with a false belly, like the opossum, where the young can be received
for protection in time of danger. In this case the egg must have been
hatched in the belly of the animal, like the viper. 3. The alligator,
or American crocodile, lays a vast quantity of eggs in the sand, near
the banks of lakes and rivers, and leaves them to be hatched by the sun;
and the young are seldom seen. 4. The cayman, or Antilles crocodile, has
furnished its eggs to many collections. 5. A salamander was opened by M.
Maupertuis, and its belly was found full of eggs; but in "Les Mémoires
de l'Académie Royale des Sciences" it is stated that, after a similar
operation of the kind, "fifty young ones, resembling the parent animal,
were found in its womb all alive, and actively running about the room."

The tongue is the chief organ for taking the insects on which the
Chameleon lives. By a curious mechanism, of which the tongue-bone is a
principal agent, the Chameleon can protrude this cylindrical tongue,
which has its tip covered with a glutinous secretion from the sheath
at the lower part of the mouth, to the length of six inches. When the
Chameleon is about to seize an insect, it rolls round its extraordinary
eyeballs so as to bring them to bear on the doomed object; as soon
as it arrives within the range of the tongue, that organ is projected
with unerring precision, and returns into the mouth with the prey
adhering to the viscous tip. The wonderful activity with which this
feat is performed, forms a strong contrast to the almost ridiculously
slow motions of the animal. Their operation of taking meal-worms, of
which they are fond, though comparatively rapid, is not remarkable for
its quickness, but done with an act of deliberation, and so that the
projection and retraction of the tongue can be very distinctly followed
with the eye.

The eyes of the Chameleon are remarkable objects; large, projecting, and
almost entirely covered with the shagreen-like skin, with the exception
of a small aperture opposite the pupil; their motions are completely
independent of each other. It adds to the strange and grotesque
appearance of this creature to see it roll one of its eye-globes
backwards, while the other is directed forwards, as if making two
distinct surveys at one time. Its sight must be acute, from the unerring
certainty with which it marks and strikes its prey.

The Chameleons spend their lives in trees, for clinging to the branches
of which their organization is admirably adapted. There they lie in
wait for the insects which may come within their reach; and it has been
thought that, in such situations, their faculty of changing colour
becomes highly important in aiding them to conceal themselves. The
powers of abstinence possessed by this singular race are very great;
and hence, most probably, arose the old fable of their _living on
air_, which was for a long time considered to be "the Chameleon's
dish." One has been known to fast upwards of six weeks without taking
any sustenance, though meat-food and insects were procured for it.
Notwithstanding this fast, it did not appear to fall away much. It would
fix itself by the feet and tail to the bars of the fender, and there
remain motionless, enjoying the warmth of the fire for hours together.
Hasselquist describes one, that he kept for nearly a month, as climbing
up and down the bars of its cage in a very lively manner.

The power of the Chameleon's changing colour long exercised the
ingenuity of the old naturalists. Hasselquist thought that the changes
of colour depended on a kind of disease, more especially a sort of
jaundice, to which the animal was subject, particularly when it was put
in a rage. M. D'Obsonville thought that he had discovered the secret in
the blood, and that the change of colour depended upon a mixture of blue
and yellow, whence the different shades of green were derived; and these
colours he obtains from the blood and the blood-vessels. Thus he says
that the blood is of a violet hue, and will retain its colour on linen
or paper for some minutes if previously steeped in a solution of alum,
and that the coats of the vessels are yellow; consequently, he argues,
that the mixture of the two will produce green. He further traces the
change of colour to the passions of the animal. Thus, when a healthy
Chameleon is provoked, the circulation is accelerated, the vessels that
are spread over the skin are distended, and a superficial blue-green
colour is produced. When, on the contrary, the animal is imprisoned,
impoverished, and deprived of free air, the circulation becomes languid,
the vessels are not filled, the colour of their coats prevails, and the
Chameleon changes to a yellow-green, which lasts during its confinement.

Barrow, in his "Travels in Africa," declares that previously to the
Chameleon's assuming a change of colour, it makes a long inspiration,
the body swelling out to twice its usual size; and as the inflation
subsides, the change of colour gradually takes place, the only permanent
marks being two small dark lines passing along the sides. Mr. Wood
conceives from this account that the animal is principally indebted for
these varied tints to the influence of oxygen. Mr. Spittal also regards
these changes as connected with the state of the lungs; and Mr. Houston
considers this phenomenon as dependent on the turgescency of the skin.
Dr. Weissenborn thinks it not unlikely that the nervous currents may
directly co-operate in effecting the changes of colour in the Chameleon.

Mr. H. N. Turner, writing from personal observation of the phenomenon
in a live Chameleon in his possession, says:--"It has been generally
imagined that the purpose of the singular faculty accorded to the
Chameleon is to enable it to accommodate its appearance to that of
surrounding objects." Mr. Turner's observations do not, however, favour
the idea, but seem rather to negative it. The box in which Mr. Turner's
Chameleon was kept was of deal, with glass at the top, and a piece of
flannel laid at the bottom, a small branching stick being placed there
by way of a perch. He introduced, at various times, pieces of coloured
paper, covering the bottom of the box, of blue, yellow, and scarlet,
but without the slightest effect upon the appearance of the animal.
Considering that these primary colours were not such as it would be
likely to be placed in contact with in a state of nature, he next tried
a piece of green calico, but equally without result. The animal went
through all its usual changes without their being in any way modified by
the colour placed underneath it. The general tint approximated, as may
be readily observed, to those of the branches of trees, just as those of
most animals do to the places in which they dwell; but Mr. Turner did
not observe the faculty of changing called into play with any apparent
object. It is only when the light is removed that the animal assumes a
colour which absorbs but little of it.

Not to go further into the numerous treatises which have been published
on this intricate subject without arriving at a just conclusion, we
refer to the able and interesting paper of Mr. Milne Edwards, for whose
acuteness the solution of this puzzling phenomenon was reserved. The
steps by which he first overthrew the received theories on the subject,
and then arrived at the cause of the change of colour, is shown in the
following results, derived from observing two Chameleons living, and
researches after the animals had died, on the structure of their skin,
and the parts immediately beneath it.

1. That the change in the colour of the Chameleon does not depend
essentially either on the more or less considerable swelling of their
bodies, or the changes which might hence result to the condition of
their blood or circulation; nor does it depend on the greater or less
distance which may exist between the several cutaneous tubercles;
although it is not to be denied that these circumstances probably
exercise some influence upon the phenomenon.

2. That there exist in the skin of these animals two layers of
membranous pigment, placed the one above the other, but disposed in such
a way as to appear simultaneously under the cuticle, and sometimes in
such a manner that the one may hide the other.

3. That everything remarkable in the changes of colour in the Chameleon
may be explained by the appearance of the pigment of the deeper layer to
an extent more or less considerable, in the midst of the pigment of the
superficial layer, or from its disappearance beneath this layer.

4. That these displacements of the deeper pigment do in reality occur;
and it is a probable consequence that the Chameleon's colour changes
during life, and may continue to change even after death.

5. That there exists a close analogy between the mechanism by the help
of which the change of colour appears to take place in these reptiles,
and that which determines the successive appearance and disappearance of
coloured spots in the mantles of several of the cephalopods.

Chameleons are found in warm climates of the old world, South of Spain,
Africa, East Indies. Isles of Sechelles, Bourbon, France, Moluccas.
Madagascar (where it is said there are seven of the species which belong
to Africa), Fernando Po, and New South Wales. In the year 1860, a new
and curiously formed species of Chameleon was brought from the interior
of the Old Calabar district of West Africa, by one of the natives. It is
characterised by three horny processes on the head. Many Lizards have
singular spiny projections on all parts of the body; but this very well
marked species had not been hitherto recorded.

Mrs. Belzoni, the wife of the celebrated traveller in the East, made
some careful observations upon the habits of Chameleons, which are worth
quoting. The Arabs in Lower Egypt catch Chameleons by jumping upon them,
flinging stones at them, or striking them with sticks, which hurts them
very much. The Nubians lay them down gently on the ground, and when
they come down from the date-trees, they catch hold of the tail of the
animal, and fix a string to it; therefore the body does not get injured.
Mrs. Belzoni had some Chameleons for several months in her house, and
her observations are as follows:--

"In the first place they are very inveterate towards each other, and
must not be shut up together, else they will bite each other's tails and
legs off.

[Illustration: CHAMELEONS.]

"There are three species of Chameleons, whose colours are peculiar
to themselves: for instance, the commonest sort are those which are
generally green, that is to say, the body all green, and, when content,
beautifully marked on each side regularly on the green with black and
yellow, not in a confused manner, but as if drawn. This kind is in great
plenty; they never have any other colour except a light green when they
sleep, and when ill, a very pale yellow. Out of near forty I had the
first year when in Nubia, I had but one, and that a very small one of
the second sort, which had red marks. One Chameleon lived with me eight
months, and most of that time I had it fixed to the button of my coat:
it used to rest on my shoulder or on my head. I have observed, when I
have kept it shut up in a room for some time, that on bringing it out
in the air it would begin drawing the air in, and on putting it on some
marjorum it has had a wonderful effect on it immediately: its colour
became most brilliant. I believe it will puzzle a good many to say what
cause it proceeds from. If they did not change when shut up in a house,
but only on taking them in a garden, it might be supposed the change
of the colours was in consequence of the smell of the plants; but when
in a house, if it is watched, it will change every ten minutes: some
moments a plain green, at others all its beautiful colours will come
out, and when in a passion it becomes of a deep black, and will swell
itself up like a balloon, and, from being one of the most beautiful
animals, it becomes one of the most ugly. It is true that Chameleons
are extremely fond of the fresh air, and on taking them to a window
when there is nothing to be seen, it is easy to observe the pleasure
they certainly take in it: they begin to gulp down the air, and their
colour becomes brighter. I think it proceeds, in a great degree, from
the temper they are in: a little thing will put them in a bad humour: if
in crossing a table, for instance, you stop them, and attempt to turn
them another road, they will not stir, and are extremely obstinate: on
opening the mouth at them, it will set them in a passion: they begin to
arm themselves by swelling and turning black, and will sometimes hiss a
little, but not much.

"The third I brought from Jerusalem was the most singular of all the
Chameleons I ever had: its temper, if it can be so called, was extremely
sagacious and cunning. This one was not of the order of the green kind,
but a disagreeable drab, and it never once varied in its colour in two
months. On my arrival in Cairo. I used to let it crawl about the room on
the furniture. Sometimes it would get down, if it could, and hide itself
away from me, but in a place where it could see me; and sometimes,
on my leaving the room and on entering it, would draw itself so thin
as to make itself nearly on a level with whatever it might be on, so
that I might not see it. It had often deceived me so. One day having
missed it for some time, I concluded it was hid about the room; after
looking for it in vain, I thought it had got out of the room and made
its escape: in the course of the evening, after the candle was lighted,
I went to a basket that had got a handle across it: I saw my Chameleon,
but its colour entirely changed, and different to any I ever had seen
before: the whole body, head and tail, a brown with black spots, and
beautiful deep orange-coloured spots round the black. I certainly was
much gratified. On being disturbed, its colours vanished, unlike the
others; but after this I used to observe it the first thing in the
morning, when it would have the same colours. Some time after, it made
its escape out of my room, and I suppose got into the garden close by.
I was much vexed, and would have given twenty dollars to have recovered
it again, though it only cost me threepence, knowing I could not get
another like it; for, afterwards being in Rosetta, I had between fifty
and sixty; but all those were green, yellow, and black; and the Arabs,
in catching them, had bruised them so much, that after a month or six
weeks they died. It is an animal extremely hard to die. I had prepared
two cages with separate divisions, with the intention of bringing them
to England; but though I desired the Arabs that used to get them for me
to catch them by the tail, they used to hurt them much with their hands;
and if once the body is squeezed, it will never live longer than two
months. When they used to sleep at night, it was easy to see where they
had been bruised; for being of a very light colour when sleeping, the
part that had been bruised, either on the body or the head, which was
bone, was extremely black, though when green it would not show itself so
clear. Their chief food was flies: the fly does not die immediately on
being swallowed, for upon taking the Chameleon up in my hands, it was
easy to feel the fly buzzing, chiefly on account of the air they draw in
their inside: they swell much, and particularly when they want to fling
themselves off a great height, by filling themselves up like a balloon:
on falling, they get no hurt, except on the mouth, which they bruise a
little, as that comes first to the ground. Sometimes they will not drink
for three or four days, and when they begin they are about half an hour
drinking. I have held a glass in one hand while the Chameleon rested its
two fore-paws on the edge of it, the two hind ones resting on my other
hand. It stood upright while drinking, holding its head up like a fowl.
By flinging its tongue out of its mouth the length of its body, and
instantaneously catching the fly, it would go back like a spring. They
will drink mutton broth: how I came to know this was, one day having a
plate of broth and rice on the table where it was: it went to the plate
and got half into it, and began drinking, and trying to take up some of
the rice, by pushing it with its mouth towards the side of the plate,
which kept it from moving, and in a very awkward way taking it into its

In the autumn of 1868, a pair of Chameleons, in the possession of the
Hon. Lady Cust, of Leasowe Castle, Cheshire, produced nine active young
ones, like little alligators, less than an inch long. Such a birth has
been, it is believed, very rare in this country. It was remarked, in the
above case, that the male and female appeared altogether indifferent
about their progeny.

Whatever may be the cause, the fact seems to be certain, that the
Chameleon has an antipathy to objects of a black colour. One, which
Forbes kept, uniformly avoided a black board which was hung up in the
chamber; and, what is most remarkable, when the Chameleon was held
forcibly before the black board, it trembled violently and assumed a
_black colour_.[25]

It may be something of the same kind which makes Bulls and Turkey-cocks
dislike the colour of scarlet, a fact of which there can be no doubt.


[24] The Fables of John Gay. Illustrated. With Original Memoir,
Introduction, and Annotations. By Octavius Freire Owen, M.A., F.S.A.

[25] This, it will be seen by referring to page 307, does not correspond
with Calmet's statement.


That the Toad, by common repute "ugly and venomous," should be made a
parlour pet, is passing strange; yet such is the case, and we find in a
letter from Dr. Husenbeth, of Cossey, the following curious instances.
Thus he describes a species, there often met with, the eyes of which
have the pupil surrounded with bright golden-yellow, whereas in the
common toad the circle is red or orange. This remarkable peculiarity
Dr. H. has not seen anywhere noticed. The head is like that of the
common sort, but much more blunt, and rounded off at the nose and mouth,
and the arches over the eyes are more prominent. The most remarkable
difference is a line of yellow running all down the back. Also down each
side this Toad has a row of red pimples, like small beads, which are
tolerably regular, but appear more in some specimens than in others.
The general colour is a yellowish-olive, but the animal is beautifully
marked with black spots, very regularly disposed, and exactly
corresponding on each side of the yellow line down the back. Like all
other Toads, this one occasionally changes its colour, becoming more
brown, or ash-colour, or reddish at times, probably in certain states
of the weather. This species is much more active than the common Toad.
It never leaps, and very seldom crawls, but makes a short run, stops a
little, and then runs on again. If frightened or pursued, it will run
along much quicker than one would suppose.

During the previous summer Dr. H. kept three Toads of this kind in
succession. "The first (says Dr. H.) I procured in July; but after a
few days, when I let him have a run on the carpet of my parlour, he
got into a hole in a corner of the floor, of which I was not aware,
and fell, as I suppose, underneath the floor, into the hollow space
below. I concluded that he could never get up again, and gave him up to
his fate. I then began to keep another Running Toad, which fed well at
first, but after three weeks refused food, and evidently wasted; so I
turned him out into the garden, and have not met with him since. After
more than three weeks, the former Toad reappeared, but how he came up
from beneath the floor I never could conceive, or how he had picked
up a living in the meantime. He was, however, in good condition, and
seemed to have lived well, probably on spiders and woodlice. He had been
seen by a servant running about the carpet, but I knew nothing of his
having come forth again, till in the evening, when he had got near the
door, and it was suddenly opened so as to pass over the poor creature,
and crush it terribly. I took it up apparently dead. It showed no sign
of life; the eyes were closed, it did not breathe, and the backbone
seemed quite broken, and the animal was crushed almost flat. I found a
very curious milky secretion exuding from it, where it had been most
injured and the skin was most broken. This was perfectly white, and had
exactly the appearance of milk thrown over the toad. It did not bleed,
though much lacerated; but instead of blood appeared this milky fluid,
which had an odour of a most singular kind, different from anything I
ever smelt. It is impossible to describe it. It was not fetid, but of
a sickly, disgusting, and overpowering character, so that I could not
endure to inhale it for a moment. I had read and seen a good deal of the
extraordinary powers of revivification in toads, but was not prepared
for what I witnessed on this occasion. I laid this poor animal, crushed,
flattened, motionless, and to all appearance dead, upon a cold iron
plate of the fireplace. He fell over on one side, and showed no sign of
life for a full hour. After that he had slightly moved one leg, and so
remained for about another half-hour. Then he began to breathe feebly,
and gathered up his legs, and his back began to rise up into its usual
form. In about two hours from the time of the accident, he had so far
recovered as to crawl about, though with difficulty. The milky liquor
was reabsorbed, and gradually disappeared as the toad recovered. The
next morning it was all gone, and no mark of injury could be seen,
except a small hole in his back, which soon closed. He recovered so far
as to move about pretty well, but his back appeared to have been broken,
and one fore-leg crippled. I therefore thought it best to give him his
liberty in the garden. But so wonderful and speedy a recovery I could
never have believed without ocular testimony.

"I then tried my third and last Running Toad. I began to keep him on
Sept. 13th. He was a very fine specimen, and larger than the two former.
He fed well, and amused me exceedingly. He was very tame, and would sit
on my hand quite quiet, and enjoy my stroking him gently down his head
and back. Soon after I got him he began to cast his skin. I helped him
to get rid of it by stripping it down each side, which he seemed to
like much, and sat very quiet during the operation. The new skin was
quite beautiful, and shone as if varnished. This Toad lived in a crystal
palace, or glass jar, where I had kept all the others before him. He
took food freely, and his appetite was so good that in one day he ate
seven large flies and three bees without stings. He was particularly
fond of woodlice and earwigs, but would take centipedes, moths, and
even butterflies. Being more active than common Toads, he often made
great efforts to get out of his glass jar. I used to let him run about
the room nearly every day for a short time, and often treated him to a
run in the garden. Toads make a slight noise sometimes in the evenings,
uttering a short sound like 'coo,' but I never heard them croak. Before
wet weather, and during its continuance, my Toad was disinclined for
food, and took no notice of flies even walking over his nose. He would
then burrow and hide himself in the moss at the bottom of his glass
palace. Thus I kept him, and found him very tame and amusing. But after
about two months he became more impatient of confinement, and refused
to take any food. I did not perceive that he fell away, though his feet
and toes turned of a dark colour, which I knew was a sign of being out
of condition; and, on the 10th of November, I found him dead. I have
now tried three of this sort, and have come to the conclusion that the
Running Toad will not live in captivity. This I much regret, as its
habits are interesting, and its ways very amusing.

                    "F. C. Husenbeth, D.D."

       *       *       *       *       *


It would be hard to believe the stories of the vocal powers of Frogs
and Toads were they not related by trustworthy travellers, who tell of
animal concerts,

  "Wild as the marsh, and tuneful as the harp."

Mr. Priest, the traveller in America, who was himself a musician,
records:--"Prepared as I was to hear something extraordinary from these
animals, I confess the first _Frog Concert_ I heard in America was so
much beyond anything I could conceive of the power of these musicians,
that I was truly astonished. This performance was _al fresco_, and took
place on the eighteenth of April, in a large swamp, where there were at
least 10,000 performers; and I really believe not two exactly in the
same pitch, if the octave can possibly admit of so many divisions, or
shades of semitones."

Professor and Mrs. Louis Agassiz, in their recent "Journey in Brazil,"
record:--"We must not leave Parà without alluding to our evening
concerts from the adjoining woods and swamps. When I first heard this
strange confusion of sounds, I thought it came from a crowd of men
shouting loudly, though at a little distance. To my surprise. I found
that the rioters were the frogs and toads in the neighbourhood. I hardly
know how to describe this Babel of woodland noises; and, if I could do
it justice, I am afraid my account would hardly be believed. At moments
it seems like the barking of dogs, then like the calling of many voices
on different keys; but all loud, rapid, excited, full of emphasis and
variety. I think these frogs, like ours, must be silent at certain
seasons of the year, for on our first visit to Parà we were not struck
by this singular music, with which the woods now resound at nightfall."


The Greeks have been scoffed at for rendering in deathless verse the
song of so insignificant an insect as the Cicada; and hence it has
been asserted that their love for such slender music must have been
either exaggerated or simulated. It is pleasant, however, to hear an
independent observer in the other hemisphere confirm their testimony.
Mr. Lord tells us that in British Colombia there is one sound or song
which is clearer, shriller, and _more singularly tuneful than any
other_. It never appears to cease, and it comes from everywhere--from
the tops of the trees, from the trembling leaves of the cotton-wood,
from the stunted under-brush, from the flowers, the grass, the rocks and
boulders--nay, the very stream itself seems vocal with hidden minstrels,
all chanting the same refrain.

An especial feature of the Cicada's song is, that it increases in
intensity when the sun is hottest; and one of the later Latin poets
mentions the time when its music is at its highest, as an alternative
expression for noon. Mr. Tennyson, inadvertently, speaks in "Ænone" of
the Grasshopper being silent in the grass, and of the Cicada sleeping
when the noonday quiet holds the hill. Keats sings more truly:--

  "When all the birds are faint with the hot sun,
  And hide in cooling trees, a voice will run
  From hedge to hedge about the new-mown mead:
  That is the Grasshopper's."

Then the Greek poets show us how intimately the song of the Cicada is
associated with the hottest hours of the day. Aristophanes describes it
as mad for the love of the sun; and Theocritus, as scorched by the sun.
When all things are parched with the heat (says Alcæus), then from among
the leaves issues the song of the sweet Cicada. His shrill melody is
heard in the full glow of noontide, and the vertical rays of a torrid
sun fire him to sing. Over and over again Mr. Lord met with allusions to
the same peculiarity.

Cicadæ are regularly sold for food in the markets of South America. They
are not eaten now, like they were at Athens, as a whet to the appetite;
but they are dried in the sun, powdered, and made into a cake.


    "As barnacles turn Poland geese
    In th' islands of the Orcades."--_Hudibras._

One of the earliest references to this popular error is in the "Natural
Magic" of Baptista Porta, who says:--"Late writers report that not only
in Scotland, but also in the river of Thames by London, there is a kind
of shell-fish in a two-leaved shell, that hath a foot full of plaits
and wrinkles.... They commonly stick to the keel of some old ship. Some
say they come of worms, some of the boughs of trees which fall into the
sea; if any of them be cast upon shore, they die; but they which are
swallowed still into the sea, live and get out of their shells, and grow
to be ducks, or such-like birds."

Professor Max Müller, in a learned lecture, enters fully into the origin
of the different stories about the Barnacle Goose. He quotes from the
"Philosophical Transactions" of 1678 a full account by Sir Robert Moray,
who declared that he had seen within the barnacle shell, as through a
concave or diminishing glass, the bill, eyes, head, neck, breast, wings,
tail, feet, and feathers of the Barnacle Goose. The next witness was
John Gerarde, Master in Chirurgerie, who, in 1597, declared that he had
seen the actual metamorphosis of the muscle into the bird, describing

"The shell gapeth open, and the first thing that appeareth is the fore
said lace or string; next come the leg of the birde hanging out, and
as it groweth greater, it openeth the shell by degrees, till at length
it is all come forth, and hangeth only by the bill, and falleth into
the sea, when it gathereth feathers and groweth to a foule, bigger than
a mallart; for the truth hereof, if any doubt, may it please them to
repair unto me, and I shall satisfie them by the testimonies of good

As far back as the thirteenth century, the same story is traced in the
writings of Giraldus Cambrensis. This great divine does not deny the
truth of the miraculous origin of the Barnacle Geese, but he warns the
Irish priests against dining off them during Lent on the plea that they
were not flesh, but fish. For, he writes, "If a man during Lent were
to dine off a leg of Adam, who was not born of flesh either, we should
not consider him innocent of having eaten what is flesh." This modern
myth, which, in spite of the protests of such men as Albertus Magnus,
Æneas Sylvius, and others, maintained its ground for many centuries, and
was defended, as late as 1629, in a book by Count Maier, "De volucri
arborea," with arguments, physical, metaphysical, and theological, owed
its origin to a play of words. The muscle shells are called _Bernaculæ_
from the Latin _perna_, the mediæval Latin _berna_; the birds are called
_Hibernicæ_ or _Hiberniculæ_, abbreviated to _Berniculæ_. As their names
seem one, the creatures are supposed to be one, and everything conspires
to confirm the first mistake, and to invest what was originally a good
Irish story--a mere _canard_--with all the dignity of scientific, and
all the solemnity of theological truth. The myth continued to live
until the age of Newton. Specimens of _Lepadidæ_, prepared by Professor
Rolleston of Oxford, show how the outward appearance of the _Anatifera_
could have supported the popular superstition which derived the
_Bernicla_, the goose, from the _Bernicula_, the shell.

Drayton (1613), in his "Poly-olbion," iii., in connexion with the river
Lee, speaks of

    "Th' anatomised fish and fowls from planchers sprung;"

to which a note is appended in Southey's edition, p. 609, that such
fowls were "Barnacles, a bird breeding upon old ships." A bunch of the
shells attached to the ship, or to a piece of floating timber, at a
distance appears like flowers in bloom; the foot of the animal has a
similitude to the stalk of a plant growing from the ship's sides, the
shell resembles a calyx, and the flower consists of the tentacula, or
fingers, of the shell-fish. The ancient error was to mistake the foot
for the neck of a goose, the shell for its head, and the tentacula for
feathers. As to the body, _non est inventus_.

Sir Kenelm Digby was soundly laughed at for relating to a party at
the castle of the Governor of Calais, that "the Barnacle, a bird in
Jersey, was first a shell-fish to appearance, and, from that striking
upon old wood, became in time a bird." In 1807, there was exhibited in
Spring-gardens, London, a "Wonderful natural curiosity, called the Goose
Tree, Barnacle Tree, or Tree bearing Geese," taken up at sea on January
12th, and more than twenty men could raise out of the water.[26]

Sir J. Emerson Tennent asks whether the ready acceptance and general
credence given to so obvious a fable may not have been derived from
giving too literal a construction to the text of the passage in the
first chapter of Genesis:--

     "And God said, Let the _waters bring forth abundantly_ the
     moving creature that hath life, and the _fowl_ that may fly in the
     open firmament of heaven."

The Barnacle Goose is a well-known bird, and is eaten on fast-days in
France, by virtue of this old belief in its marine origin. The belief
in the barnacle origin of the bird still prevails on the west coast of
Ireland, and in the Western Highlands of Scotland.

The finding of the Barnacle is thus described by Mr. Sidebotham, to
the Microscopical and Natural History Section of the Literary and
Philosophical Society:--"In September, I was at Lytham with my family.
The day was very stormy, and the previous night there had been a strong
south-west wind, and evidences of a very stormy sea outside the
banks. Two of my children came running to tell me of a very strange
creature that had been washed up on the shore. They had seen it from
the pier, and pointed it out to a sailor, thinking it was a large dog
with long hair. On reaching the shore I found a fine mass of Barnacles,
_Pentalasinus anatifera_, attached to some staves of a cask, the whole
being between four and five feet long. Several sailors had secured the
prize, and were getting it on a truck to carry it away. The appearance
was most remarkable, the hundreds of long tubes with their curious
shells looking like what one would fancy the fabled Gorgon's head with
its snaky locks. The curiosity was carried to a yard where it was to be
exhibited, and the bellman went round to announce it under the name of
the sea-lioness, or the great sea-serpent. Another mass of Barnacles
was washed up at Lytham, and also one at Blackpool, the same day or the
day following. This mass of Barnacles was evidently just such a one as
that seen by Gerard at the Pile of Foulders. It is rare to have such a
specimen on our coasts. The sailors at Lytham had never seen anything
like it, although some of them were old men who had spent all their
lives on the coast."


[26] "Notes and Queries," No. 201.


On paper, leather, and parchment are found various animals, popularly
known as "Bookworms." Johnson describes it as a worm or mite that eats
holes in books, chiefly when damp; and in the "Guardian" we find this
reference to its habits:--"My lion, like a moth or bookworm, feeds upon
nothing but paper."

Many years ago an experienced keeper of the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford
collected these interesting details of Bookworms:--"The larvæ of
_Crambus pinguinalis_ will establish themselves upon the binding of a
book, and spinning a robe will do it little injury. A mite, _Acarus
eruditus_, eats the paste that fastens the paper over the edges of the
binding and so loosens it. The caterpillar of another little moth takes
its station in damp old books, between the leaves, and there commits
great ravages. The little boring wood-beetle, who attacks books and
will even bore through several volumes. An instance is mentioned of
twenty-seven folio volumes being perforated in a straight line, by the
same insect, in such a manner that by passing a cord through the perfect
round hole made by it the twenty-seven volumes could be raised at once.
The wood-beetle also destroys prints and drawings, whether framed or
kept in a portfolio."

There is another "Bookworm," which is often confounded with the
Death-watch of the vulgar; but is smaller, and instead of beating
at intervals, as does the Death-watch, continues its noise for a
considerable length of time without intermission. It is usually found
in old wood, decayed furniture, museums, and neglected books. The
female lays her eggs, which are exceedingly small, in dry, dusty
places, where they are least likely to meet with disturbance. They are
generally hatched about the beginning of March, a little sooner or
later, according to the weather. After leaving the eggs, the insects are
so small as to be scarcely discerned without the use of a glass. They
remain in this state about two months, somewhat resembling in appearance
the mites in cheese, after which they undergo their change into the
perfect insect. They feed on dead flies and other insects; and often,
from their numbers and voracity, very much deface cabinets of natural
history. They subsist on various other substances, and may often be
observed carefully hunting for nutritious particles amongst the dust in
which they are found, turning it over with their heads, and searching
about in the manner of swine. Many live through the winter buried deep
in the dust to avoid the frost.

The best mode of destroying the insects which infest books and MSS.
has often occupied the attention of the possessors of valuable
libraries. Sir Thomas Phillips found the wood of his book-case attacked,
particularly where beech had been introduced, and appeared to think
that the insect was much attracted by the paste employed in binding.
He recommended as preservatives against their attacks spirits of
turpentine and a solution of corrosive sublimate, and also the latter
substance mixed with paste. In some instances he found the produce of
a single impregnated female sufficient to destroy a book. Turpentine
and spirit of tar are also recommended for their destruction; but the
method pursued in the collections of the British Museum is an abundant
supply of camphor, with attention to keeping the rooms dry, warm, and
ventilated. Mr. Macleay states it is the _acari_ only which feed on the
paste employed in binding books, and the larvæ of the Coleoptera only
which pierce the boards and leaves.

The ravages of the Bookworm would be much more destructive had there
not been a sort of guardian to the literary treasures in the shape of
a spider, who, when examined through a microscope, resembles a knight
in armour. This champion of the library follows the Worm into the
book-case, discovers the pit he has digged, rushes on his victim, which
is about his own size, and devours him. His repast finished, he rests
for about a fortnight, and when his digestion is completed, he sets out
to break another lance with the enemy.

The Death-watch, already referred to, and which must be acquitted of
destroying books, is chiefly known by the noise which he makes behind
the wainscoting, where he ticks like a clock or watch. How so loud
a noise is produced by so small an insect has never been properly
explained; and the ticking has led to many legends. The naturalist
Degeer relates that one night, in the autumn of 1809, during an
entomological excursion in Brittany, where travellers were scarce and
accommodation bad, he sought hospitality at the house of a friend. He
was from home, and Degeer found a great deal of trouble in gaining
admittance; but at last the peasant who had charge of the house told
Degeer that he would give him "the chamber of death," if he liked. As
Degeer was much fatigued, he accepted the offer. "The bed is there,"
said the man, "but no one has slept in it for some time. Every night the
spirit of the officer, who was surprised and killed in this room by some
chouans, comes back. When the officer was dead, the peasants divided
what he had about him, and the officer's watch fell to my uncle, who was
delighted with the prize, and brought it home to examine it. However,
he soon found out that the watch was broken, and would not go. He then
placed it under his pillow, and went to sleep; he awoke in the night,
and to his terror heard the ticking of a watch. In vain he sold the
watch, and gave the money for masses to be said for the officer's soul,
the ticking continued, and has never ceased." Degeer said that he would
exorcise the chamber, and the peasant left him, after making the sign of
the cross. The naturalist at once guessed the riddle, and, accustomed to
the pursuit of insects, soon had a couple of Death-watches shut up in a
tin case, and the ticking was reproduced.

Swift has prescribed this destructive remedy by way of ridicule:--

                                    "A Wood-worm
    That lies in old wood, like a hare in her form:
    With teeth or with claws it will bite, or will scratch;
    And chambermaids christen this worm a Death-watch,
    Because like a watch it always cries click:
    Then woe be to those in the house that are sick!
    For, sure as a gun, they will give up the ghost
    If the maggot cries click when it scratches the post.
    But a kettle of scalding hot water ejected,
    Infallibly cures the timber affected:
    The omen is broken, the danger is over;
    The maggot will die, the sick will recover."


Were a young naturalist asked to exemplify what man has learned from the
lower animals, he could scarcely adduce a more striking instance than
that of a submarine shelly worker teaching him how to execute some of
his noblest works. This we have learned from the life and labours of the
_Pholas_, of which it has been emphatically said:--"Numerous accounts
have been published during the last fourteen years in every civilized
country and language of the boring process of the _Pholas_; and machines
formed on the model of its mechanism have for years been tunnelling Mont

In the Eastern Zoological Gallery of the British Museum, cases 35 and
36, as well as in the Museum of Economic Geology in Piccadilly, may be
seen specimens of the above very curious order of _Conchifers_, most
of the members of which are distinguished by their habits of boring or
digging, a process in which they are assisted by the peculiar formation
of the foot, from which they derive their name. Of these ten families
one of the most characteristic is that of the Razor-shells, which,
when the valves are shut, are of a long, flattened, cylindrical shape,
and open at both ends. Projecting its strong pointed foot at one of
these ends, the _solen_ can work itself down into the sand with great
rapidity, while at the upper end its respiratory tubes are shot out to
bring the water to its gills. Of the _Pholadæ_, the shells of which
are sometimes called multivalve, because, in addition to the two chief
portions, they have a number of smaller accessory pieces, some bore
in hard mud, others in wood, and others in rocks. They fix themselves
firmly by the powerful foot, and then make the shell revolve; the sharp
edges of this commence the perforation, which is afterwards enlarged by
the rasp-like action of the rough exterior; and though the shell must
be constantly worn down, yet it is replaced by a new formation from the
animal, so as never to be unfit for its purpose. The typical bivalve of
this family is the _Pholas_, which bores into limestone-rock and other
hard material, and commits ravages on the piers, breakwaters, &c., that
it selects for a home.

In the same family as the above Dr. Gray ranks the _Teredo_,[27] or
wood-boring mollusc, whose ravages on ships, piles, wooden piers, &c.,
at sea resemble those of the white ant on furniture, joints of houses,
&c., on shore. Perforating the timber by exactly the same process as
that by which the Pholas perforates the stones, the Teredo advances
continually, eating out a contorted tube or gallery, which it lines
behind it with calcareous matter, and through which it continues to
breathe the water.

The priority of the demonstration of the Pholas and its "boring habits"
has been much disputed. The evidence is full of curious details. It
appears that Mr. Harper, of Edinburgh, author of "The Sea-side and
Aquarium," having claimed the lead. Mr. Robertson, of Brighton, writes
to dispute the originality; adding that he publicly exhibited Pholades
in the Pavilion at Brighton in July, 1851, perforating chalk rocks by
the raspings of their valves and squirtings of their syphons. Professor
Flourens (says Mr. Robertson) taught my observations to his class in
Paris in 1853; I published them in 1851, and again more fully in the
"Journal de Conchyliologie," in 1853; and M. Emile Blanchard illustrated
them in the same year in his "Organisation du Règne Animal." I published
a popular account of the perforating processes in "Household Words"
in 1856. After obtaining the suffrages of the French authorities, I
have been recently honoured with those of the British naturalist. (See
Woodward's "Recent and Fossil Shells," p. 327. Family, Pholadidæ.) On
returning to England last autumn I exhibited perforating Pholades to
all the naturalists who cared to watch them. An intelligent lady whom I
supplied with Pholades has made a really new and original observation,
which I may take this opportunity of communicating to the public. She
observed two Pholades whose perforations were bringing them nearer and
nearer to each other. Their mutual raspings were wearing away the thin
partition which separated their crypts. She was curious to know what
they would do when they met, and watched them closely. When the two
perforating shell-fish met and found themselves in each other's way, the
stronger just bored right through the weaker Pholas.[28]

Mr. Robertson has communicated to "Jameson's Journal," No. 101, the
results of his opportunities of studying the Pholas, during six months,
to discover how this mollusc makes its hole or crypt in the chalk: by
a chemical solvent? by absorption? by ciliary currents? or by rotatory
motions? Between twenty and thirty of these creatures were at work
in lumps of chalk, in sea-water, in a finger-glass, and open for
three months; and by watching their operations. Mr. Robertson became
convinced that the Pholas makes its hole by grating the chalk with its
rasp-like valves, licking it up when pulverized with its foot, forcing
it up through its principal orbrambial syphon, and squirting it out in
oblong nodules. The crypt protects the Pholas from _confervæ_, which,
when they get at it, grow not merely outside, but even with the lips
of the valves, preventing the action of the syphons. In the foot there
is a gelatinous spring or style, which, even when taken out, has great
elasticity, and which seems the mainspring of the motions of the Pholas.

Upon this Dr. James Stark, of Edinburgh, writes:

--"Mr. Robertson, of Brighton, claims the merit of teaching that
Pholades perforate rocks by 'the rasping of their valves and the
squirting of their syphons.' His observations only appear to reach
back to 1851. But the late Mr. John Stark, of Edinburgh, author of the
'Elements of Natural History,' read a paper before the Royal Society of
Edinburgh, in 1826, which was printed in the Society's 'Transactions'
of that year, in which he demonstrated that the Pholades perforate the
shale rocks in which they occur on this coast, by means of the rasping
of their valves, and not by acids or other secretions. From also finding
that their shells scratched limestone without injury to the fine rasping
rugosities, he inferred that it was by the same agency they perforated
the hard limestone rocks."

To this Mr. Robertson replies, that Mr. Osler also, in 1826,
demonstrated that the Pholades "perforate the shale rocks by means of
the rasping of their valves; and more, for he actually witnessed a
rotatory movement. But Réaumur and Poli had done as much as this in the
eighteenth and Sibbald in the seventeenth century: and yet I found the
solvent hypothesis in the ascendant among naturalists in 1835, when I
first interested myself in the controversy. What I did in 1851 was, I
exhibited Pholades at work perforating rocks, and explained how they did
it. What I have done is, I have made future controversy impossible, by
exhibiting the animals at work, and by discovering the anatomy and the
physiology of the perforating instruments. In the words of M. Flourens,
'I made the animals work before my eyes,' and I 'made known their
mechanism.' The discovery of the function of the hyaline stylet is not
merely a new discovery, it is the discovery of a kind of instrument as
yet unique in physiology."

Mr. Harper having termed the boring organ of the Pholas the "hyaline
stylet," found it to have puzzled some of the disputants, whereupon Mr.
Harper writes:--"Its use up to the present time has been a mystery,
but the general opinion of authors seems to be, that it is the gizzard
of the Pholas. This I very much doubt, for it is my belief that the
presence of such an important muscle is solely for the purpose of
aiding the animal's boring operations. Being situated in the centre
of the foot, we can readily conceive the great increase of strength
thus conveyed to the latter member, which is made to act as a powerful
fulcrum, by the exercise of which the animal rotates--and at the same
time presses its shell against and rasps the surface of the rock.
The question being asked, 'How can the stylet be procured to satisfy
curiosity?' I answer, by adopting the following extremely simple plan.
Having disentombed a specimen, with the point of a sharp instrument
cut a slit in the base of its foot, and the object of your search will
be distinctly visible in the shape of, if I may so term it, an opal
cylinder. Sometimes I have seen the point of this organ spring out
beyond the incision, made as above described."

Lastly, Mr. Harper presented the Editor of the "Athenæum" with a
piece of bored rock, of which he has several specimens. He adds, "On
examination, you will perceive that the larger Pholas must have bored
through its smaller and weaker neighbour (how suggestive!), the shell of
the latter, most fortunately, remaining in its own cavity."

Now, Mr. Robertson claimed for his observation of this phenomenon
novelty and originality; but Mr. Harper stoutly maintained it to be
"as common to the eye of the practised geologist as rain or sunshine."
The details are curious; though some impatient, and not very grateful
reader, may imagine himself in the condition of the shell of the smaller
Pholas, and will be, as he deserves to remain, in the minority.[29]

It may be interesting to sum up a few of the opinions of the mode by
which these boring operations are performed. Professor Forbes states
the mode by which Molluscs bore into wood and other materials is as
follows:--"Some of the Gauterspods have tongues covered with silica to
enable them to bore, and it was probably by some process of this kind
that all the Molluscs bored."

Mr. Peach never observed the species of Pholas to turn round in their
holes, as stated by some observers, although he had watched them with
great attention. Mr. Charlesworth refers to the fact that, in one
species of shell, not only does the hole in the rock which the animal
occupies increase in size, but also the hole through which it projects
its syphons.

Professor John Phillips, alluding to the theories which have been
given of the mode in which Molluscs bore into the rocks in which they
live, believes that an exclusively mechanical theory will not account
for the phenomenon; and he is inclined to adopt the view of Dr. T.
Williams--that the boring of the Pholades can only be explained on the
principle which involves a chemical as well as a mechanical agency.

Mr. E. Ray Lankester notices that the boring of Annelids seems quite
unknown; and he mentions two cases, one by a worm called Leucadore, the
other by a Sabella. Leucadore is very abundant on some shores, where
boulders and pebbles may be found worm-eaten and riddled by them. Only
stones composed of carbonate of lime are bored by them. On coasts where
such stones are rare, they are selected, and others are left. The worms
are _quite soft_, and armed only with horny bristles. _How, then, do
they bore?_ Mr. Lankester maintains that it is by carbonic acid and
other acid excretions of their bodies, _aided_ by the mechanical action
of their bristles. The selection of a material soluble in these acids
is most noticeable, since the softest chalk and the hardest limestone
are bored with the same facility. This can only be by chemical action.
If, then, we have a case of chemical boring in these worms, is it not
probable that many Molluscs are similarly assisted in their excavations?


[27] How Brunel took his construction of the Thames Tunnel from
observing the bore of the _Teredo navalis_ in the keel of a ship, in
1814, is well known.

[28] "Athenæum," No. 1640.

[29] See also "Life in the Sea," in "Strange Stories of the Animal
World," by the author of the present volume. Second Edition. 1868.


  ANCIENT Zoological Gardens, 12

  Animals, Rare, of London Zoological Society, 16, 17, 18

  Annelids, boring, 348

  Annelids and Molluscs, Boring Habits of, 348

  Ant-Bear in captivity, 76

  Ant-Bear, the Great, 72

  Ant-Bear at Madrid, 72

  Ant-Bear described, 77

  Ant-Bear, Domestic, in Paraguay, 75

  Ant-Bear, Economy of, 76

  Ant-Bear and its Food, 74

  Ant-Bears, Fossil, 80, 81

  Ant-Bear, Muscular Force of, 79

  Ant-Bear, Wallace's Account of, 73

  Ant-Bear, Zoological Society's, 76, 82, 84

  Ant-Eater, Porcupine, 84

  Ant-Bear, Professor Owen on, 80

  Ant-Eaters, scarcity of, 80

  Ant-Eater, Tamandua, 82

  Ant-Eaters, Von Saek's Account of, 83

  Aristotle's History of Animals, 279, 280

  BARNACLE GEESE, finding of the, 334

  Barnacle Goose, Gerarde on, 332

  Barnacle Goose, Giraldus Cambrensis on, 332

  Barnacle Goose, Max Müller on, 331

  Barnacle Goose, name of, 332

  Barnacle Goose, Sir E. Tennent on, 334

  Barnacle Goose, Sir Kenelm Digby on, 334

  Barnacle Goose, Sir R. Moray on, 331

  Barnacle Goose, Stories of the, 331-335

  Barnacles breeding upon old ships, 333

  Barnacle Geese in the Thames, 331

  Bat, altivolans, by Gilbert White, 100

  Bat, American, by Lesson, 91

  Bat, Aristotle on, 85

  Bat, Mr. Bell on, 86

  Bats, Curiosities of, 85

  Bat, described by Calmet, 87

  Bat, Flight and Wing of, 96

  Bats, in England, 100

  Bat, Heber, Stedman, and Waterton on, 91

  Bats in Jamaica, 100

  Bat, Kalong, of Java, 98

  Bat, Long-Eared, by Sowerby, 92, 93-96

  Bat, Nycteris, 97

  Bat, Rere-mouse and Flitter-mouse, 86

  Bat Skeleton, Sir C. Bell on, 87

  Bat in Scripture, 85

  Bat, Vampire, from Sumatra, 88

  Bat, Vampire, Lines on, by Byron, 89

  Bat, vulgar errors respecting, 97

  Bat-Fowling or Bat-Folding, 92

  Berlin Zoological Gardens and Museum, 16

  Bible Natural History, 11

  Birds, Addison on their Nests and Music, 156, 157

  Bird, Australian Bower, Nest of, 167

  Bird, Baya, Indian, Nest of, 164

  Birds and Animals, Beauty in, 150

  Birds, Brain of, 154

  Birds, Characteristics of, 145

  Birds, Colour of, 148

  Bird Confinement, Dr. Livingstone on, 169

  Birds' Eggs, large, 162

  Birds' Eggs, Colours of, 158

  Birds' Eggs and Nests, 158

  Birds, European, list of, 161

  Birds, Flight of, 146, 147

  Birds, Insectivorous, 151;
    Instinct, Intelligence, and Reason, 217

  Bird-Life, 145

  Bird-Murder, wanton, 152

  Birds' Nesting, 159

  Birds' Nests--Cape Swallows, 168

  Birds' Nests--Brush Turkey, 171

  Birds' Nests, large, 164

  Birds' Eggs--Ostrich and Epyornis, 162, 163

  Birds' Nests--Tailor Birds, 165-167

  Birds, Rapid Flight of, 147

  Birds, Signal of Danger among, 155

  Birds, Song of, 149

  Birds, Mr. Wolley's Collections, 159, 160

  Bookworms, Leaves about, 336

  Bookworms and Death-watch, 337

  Boring Marine Animals, and Human Engineers, 341

  CHAMELEON of the Ancients, 306

  Chameleon's antipathy to black, 322

  Chameleons, Mrs. Belzoni's, 316-320

  Chameleons, Birth of, in England, 321

  Chameleon changing Colour, 311, 316

  Chameleon, Cuvier on, 309

  Chameleon, described by Calmet, 307

  Chameleon Family, 307

  Chameleon, Air-food of, 309

  Chameleon, Milne Edwards on its Change of Colour, 314-316

  Chameleons, Native Countries of, 316

  Chameleon of the Poets, 308

  Chameleons, Reproduction of, 309

  Chameleon, Tongue and Eyes of, 310, 311

  Chinese Zoological Gardens, 12

  Cicada, Song of the, 329

  Cormorant's Bone, curious, 204

  Cormorants, Chase of, 203

  Cormorant Fishery in China, 202

  Cormorant, Habits of the, 201

  Cormorant trained for Fishing, 201

  Curiosities of Zoology, 11

  ECCENTRICITIES of Penguins, 188:
    Darwin, Mr., his account of Falkland Islands Penguin, 192;
    Dassent Island Penguins, 188;
    Death-watch and Bookworm, 337, 338;
    Falkland Islands Penguins, 189;
    King Penguins, 191;
    Patagonian Penguins, 189;
    Penguin, the name, 194;
    Webster, Mr., his Account of Penguins, 193

  Epicure's Ortolan, the, 172

  Epicurism Extravagant, 177

  Evelyn and St. James's Physique Garden, 15

  FISH in British Colombia, 280:
    Candle-fish, 282;
    Octopus, 283;
    Salmon Army, 281;
    Spoonbill Sturgeon, 285;
    Sturgeons, and Sturgeon Fishing, 284-287

  Fish-Talk, 250:
    Affection of Fishes, 256;
    Bohemian Wels Fish, 270;
    Bonita and Flying Fish, 263;
    Californian Fish, 268;
    Carp at Fontainebleau, 254;
    Cat-fish, curious Account of, 257;
    Double Fish, 272;
    Fish changing Colour, 251;
    Fish Noise, 252;
    Gold Fish, 274;
    Grampus, gambols of, 262;
    Great General of the South Sea, 272;
    Grouper, the, 272;
    Hassar, the, 256;
    Hearing of Fishes, 253;
    Herring Puzzle, 278;
    Jaculator Fish of Java, 264;
    Jamaica, Curious Fish at, 266;
    Little Fishes the Food of Larger, 259;
    Marine Observatory, 276;
    Mecho of the Danube, 270;
    Migration of Fishes, 260;
    Miller's Thumb, 276;
    Numbers, vast, of Fishes, 258;
    Pike, Wonderful, 269;
    Pilot Fish, 267;
    Sharks, 267;
    Singing Fish,252;
    Square-browed Malthe, 274;
    Strange Fishes, 251;
    Sun-fish, 271;
    Swimming of Fishes, 250;
    Sword-fish, 266;
    Warrior Fish, 266

  Frog and Toad Concerts, 327

  HEDGEHOG, the, 102

  Hedgehog devouring Snakes, 104

  Hedgehog, Food of, 103

  Hedgehogs, Gilbert White on, 107

  Hedgehog and Poisons, 105

  Hedgehogs, Sir T. Browne on, 102

  Hedgehog Sucking Cows, 104

  Hedgehog and Viper, Fight between, 106, 107

  Hedgehog, Voracity of, 103

  Hippopotamus, Ancient History of, 119

  Hippopotamus, described by Aristotle and Herodotus, 121

  Hippopotamus, Economy of the, 115

  Hippopotamus, the, in England, 108

  Hippopotami, Fossil, 122

  Hippopotami on the Niger, 117

  Hippopotamus, Professor Owen's Description of, 111-115

  Hippopotamus and River Horse, 116

  Hippopotamus in Scripture, 120

  Hippopotamus, Utility of, 118

  Hippopotamus from the White Nile, 109

  Hippopotamus, Zoological Society's, in 1850, 108-111

  LEAVES about Bookworms, 336

  Lions in Algeria, and Jules Gerard, 143

  Lion, African, 131

  Lion, Bengal, 133

  Lion described by Bennett, 123

  Lion described by Buffon, 123-125

  Lion described by Burchell, 125

  Lion, disappearance of, 130

  Lion and Hottentots, 132, 133-136

  Lion-hunting Feats, 128

  Lion, "King of the Forest," 126

  Lion, Longevity of, 137

  Lion, Maneless, 133-135

  Lion, Niebuhr on, 131

  Lion in the Nineveh Sculptures, 139, 140

  Lions, the Drudhoe, 144

  Lions, Popular Errors respecting, 123

  Lion, Prickle or Claw in the Tail, 137-139

  Lion, Roar of, 136

  Lions in the Tower of London, 140

  "Lion Tree" in the Mantatee Country, 127

  Lion Stories of the Shows, 142

  Lion-Talk, 123

  Lioness and her Young, 135

  MERMAID of 1822, 43-47

  Mermaid in Berbice, 39

  Mermaid in the Bosphorus, 47

  Mermaid and Dugong, 41

  Mermaids, Evidences of, 36

  Mermaid at Exmouth, 40

  Mermaid, Leyden's Ballad, 35

  Mermaid and Manatee, 42

  Mermaid at Milford Haven, 37

  Mermaid, Japanese, 44

  Mermaid, Scottish, 36, 38

  Mermaids and Sirens, 33

  Mermaid's Song, Haydn's, 34

  Mermaids, Stories of, 33

  Mermaid, Structure of, 43

  Mermaids in Suffolk, 48

  Mole, its Economy controverted, 62

  Mole, the Ettrick Shepherd on, 71

  Mole, Le Court on, 62, 65

  Mole and Fairy Rings, 64

  Mole and Farming, 70

  Mole, Feeling of, 64

  Mole at Home, 62

  Mole, its Hunting-ground, 67

  Moles, Loves of the, 68

  Mole, structure of the, 63

  Mole, St. Hilaire on, 69

  Mole, Shrew, of North America, 70

  Mole, Voracity of, 68

  Montezuma's Zoological Gardens, 13

  Musical Lizard, 303:
    Climbing Walls, 303, 304;
    Formosa Isle, 303;
    Gecko ennobled, 306


  Ortolan described, 172, 173

  Ortolans, how fattened, 174

  Ortolan, Mr. Gould on, 174, 175

  Owls, 221:
    Abyssinian Owl, 230;
    Barn Owl, 226;
    Bischaco, or Coquimbo, 224;
    Boobook Owl, 228;
    Cats and Owls, 230;
    Fraser's Eagle Owl, from Fernando Po, 229;
    Food of Owls, 226;
    Javanese Owl, 228;
    Snowy Owl, 227;
    Tricks by Night, 224;
    Utility of, 225;
    Waterton on the Owl, 225

  PELICANS and Cormorants, 195

  Pelicans described by Gould, 195

  Pelican in Japan, 197

  Pelican Popular Error, 198, 199

  Pelican Pouches, 198

  Pelican Symbol, 200

  "Pelican of the wilderness," 197

  Pholas, Life and Labours of, 341

  Pholades, Charlesworth and Peach on, 347

  Pholades, Harper on, 346

  Pholades, Robertson on, 343

  RHINOCEROS in England, 22:
    African Rhinoceros in 1858, 27;
    Ancient History, 23;
    Bruce and Sparmann, 27;
    Burchell's shooting, 30;
    Horn of the Rhinoceros, 31, 32;
    Indian Wild Ass, 24;
    One-horned and Two-horned, 23-26;
    Scripture, Rhinoceros of, 23;
    Speehnan's Rhinoceros Shooting, 30;
    Tegetmeir describes the African Rhinoceros, 27;
    Tractability, 25;
    Varieties of Rhinoceros, 22;
    Zoological Society's Rhinoceros, 23, 29

  SALE of Wild Animals, 20

  Sentinel Birds, 183

  Song of the Cicada, 329

  Songs of Birds and Seasons of the Day, 219

  St. James's Park Menagerie, 14

  Stories of the Barnacle Goose, 331-335

  Stories of Mermaids, 33

  Surrey Zoological Gardens, 20

  TALKING birds, 205:
    Bittern and Night Raven, 207;
    Blue Jay, 206;
    Canaries, Talking, 210-212;
    Chinese Starling, 205;
    Crowned Crane, 206;
    Cuckoo, 209;
    Laughing Goose, 209;
    Nightingale, 209;
    Piping Crow, 205;
    Snipe, Neighing, 213;
    Trochilos and Crocodile, 216;
    Umbrella Bird, 206;
    Whidaw Bird, 205;
    Wild Swan, 209;
    Woodpecker at Constantinople, 215

  Talk about Toucans, 179:
    Bills of Toucans, 180;
    Carnivorous propensity, 184;
    Economy of, 182;
    Food of, 183;
    Gould, Mr., his Grand Monograph, 180, 186;
    Owen, Professor, on the Mandibles, 185;
    Swainson, Mr., on Toucans, 185
    Toucan Family, 179, 180;
    White Ants' Nests, 183;
    Toucanet, Gould's, 184

  Toad and Frog Concerts, 327-328

  Toads, Running, Dr. Husenbeth's, 323-327

  Tower of London Menagerie, 14

  Tree-climbing Crab, the, 288:
    Bernhard, Hermit, and Soldier Crab, 291;
    Climbing Perch, 288;
    Crab, Burrowing, 290;
    Crab Migration in Jamaica, 292;
    Fishing-frogs, 288;
    Glass Crabs, 301;
    Pill-making Crabs, 301;
    Purse Crab feeding on Cocoa-nuts, 296;
    Robber Crab, 292;
    Screw-pines, Crab climbing, 298;
    Vaulted Crab of the Moluccas, 291

  UNICORNS, ancient, 51

  Unicorn and Antelope, 53

  Unicorn in Central Africa, 58

  Unicorn described by Ctesias, 49, 50

  Unicorn, Cuvier on, 54

  Unicorn, Is it Fabulous? 49

  Unicorn, Klaproth on, 55

  Unicorn in Kordofan, 53

  Unicorn and its Horn, 53, 59

  Unicorn, modern, 50

  Unicorn, Ogilby on, 51

  Unicorn, Rev. J. Campbell on, 57

  Unicorn in the Royal Arms, 60

    Ants, Asses, 241;
    Darwin's Signs of Rain, 248;
    Frogs and Snails, 237-240;
    List of Animals, 241-247;
    Mole, 240;
    Mother Carey's Chickens and Goose, 234;
    Redbreast, 236;
    Seagulls, 232;
    Signs of Rain, 232;
    Stormy Petrels, 233;
    Shepherd of Banbury, 249;
    Toucans, 237;
    Weatherproof Birds' Nests, 247;
    Wild Geese and Ducks, 235

  Wild Animals, Cost of, 19

  Wild Beast Shows, 21


  Zoological Society of London, 16

  Zoology, Curiosities of, 11

C. A. Macintosh, Printer, Great New-street, London.

  +----------------------------------------------------------------- +
  | Transcriber's Note:                                              |
  |                                                                  |
  | Obvious punctuation and spelling errors repaired.                |
  | Word combinations that appeared with and without hyphens         |
  | were changed to the predominant hyphenated form.                 |
  | Original spelling and its variations were not standardized.      |
  |                                                                  |
  | Corrections in the spelling of names were made when those        |
  | could be verified.  Otherwise the variations were left as they   |
  | were.                                                            |
  |                                                                  |
  | Page 18: "Parrot-houses, the, sometimes...." changed to          |
  |   "Parrot-houses: they sometimes contain...."                    |
  |                                                                  |
  | Page 170 and others: Kolobeng and Kolenbeng. Both spellings were |
  |   retained.                                                      |
  |                                                                  |
  | Page 191 and others: Tussa, tussack and tussock. All spellings   |
  |   were retained.                                                 |
  |                                                                  |
  | Page 276: Finisterre changed to Finistère.                       |
  |                                                                  |
  | Page 333: cennexion changed to connexion "... in connexion with  |
  |   the river Lee...."                                             |
  |                                                                  |
  | Page 352:  Screw-pines, Crab climbing, 295;  pagination changed  |
  |   to 298.                                                        |
  |                                                                  |
  | The name of Shakespeare appears with varying spellings.  All     |
  |   variants were kept.                                            |
  |                                                                  |
  | Some index entries are not in alphabetical order.  They were not |
  |   corrected.                                                     |
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  | Footnotes were moved to the ends of the chapters in which they   |
  | belonged and numbered in one continuous sequence.  The           |
  | pagination in index entries which referred to these footnotes    |
  | was not changed to match their new locations and is therefore    |
  | incorrect.                                                       |
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