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Title: Buffon's Natural History. Volume VI (of 10) - Containing a Theory of the Earth, a General History of - Man, of the Brute Creation, and of Vegetables, Minerals, - &c. &c
Author: Buffon, Georges Louis Leclerc de
Language: English
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Transcriber Note

Text emphasis is displayed as _Italic Text._



                           _Barr's Buffon._
                              ========

                       Buffon's Natural History.

                              CONTAINING
                        A THEORY OF THE EARTH,
                               A GENERAL
                           _HISTORY OF MAN_,
                     OF THE BRUTE CREATION, AND OF
                         VEGETABLES, MINERALS,
                               _&c. &c._

                           FROM THE FRENCH.
                     WITH NOTES BY THE TRANSLATOR.
                            IN TEN VOLUMES.

                                VOL. VI.

                            ==============
                                London:
                      PRINTED FOR THE PROPRIETOR,
              AND SOLD BY H. D. SYMONDS, PATERNOSTER-ROW.
                                ------
                                 1807.

                    T. Gillet, Printer, Wild-Court.



                               CONTENTS

                                  OF

                           THE SIXTH VOLUME


                         Of Domestic Animals.

             _The Cat_                                       1

  Chap. III. _Of Wild Animals_                              18
             _The Stag, or Red Deer_                        27
             _The Fallow Deer_                              64
             _The Roe-buck_                                 70
             _The Hare_                                     87
             _The Rabbit_                                  106

  Chap. IV.  _Of Carnivorous Animals_                      115
             _The Wolf_                                    145
             _The Fox_                                     158
             _The Badger_                                  167
             _The Otter_                                   172
             _The Martin_                                  177
             _The Pine-Weasel_                             182
             _The Polecat_                                 185
             _The Ferret_                                  188

             _The Weasel_                                  193
             _The Ermine_                                  197
             _The Grison_                                  200
             _The Squirrel_                                201
             _The Rat_                                     207
             _The Mouse_                                   213
             _The Field-Mouse_                             215
             _The Water-Rat_                               220
             _The Campagnol_                               221
             _The Guinea-Pig_                              224
             _The Hedge-Hog_                               227
             _The Shrew-Mouse_                             231
             _The Water Shrew-Mouse_                       233
             _The Mole_                                    234
             _The Bat_                                     239
             _The Loir_                                    246
             _The Lerot_                                   253
             _The Dormouse_                                255
             _The Surmulot_                                257
             _The Alpine Marmot_                           260
             _The Bear_                                    270
             _The Beaver_                                  287
             _The Raccoon_                                 312
             _The Coati_                                   317
             _The Agouti_                                  320
             _The Lion_                                    325



_Directions for placing the Plates in the Sixth Volume._


  Page   8, Fig. 50, 51.
        10, Fig. 52, 53.
        37, Fig. 54, 55.
        64, Fig. 56, 57.
       106, Fig. 58, 59.
       112, Fig. 60, 61.
       158, Fig. 62, 63.
       172, Fig. 64, 65.
       185, Fig. 66, 67.
       193, Fig. 68, 69, 70, 71.
       200, Fig. 72, 73.
       207, Fig. 74, 75, 76, 77, 78.
       224, Fig. 79, 80, 81.
       238, Fig. 82, 83, 84, 85, 86.
       246, Fig. 87, 88, 89, 90, 91.
       270, Fig. 92, 93.
       310, Fig. 94, 95.
       318, Fig. 96, 97, 98.
       335, Fig. 99, 100.



BUFFON'S NATURAL HISTORY.



_OF DOMESTIC ANIMALS._


THE CAT.

The cat is a faithless domestic, and only kept through necessity to
oppose to another domestic which incommodes us still more, and which
we cannot drive away; for we pay no respect to those who, being fond
of all beasts, keeps cats for amusement. Though these animals are
gentle and frolicksome when young, yet they even then possess an innate
cunning, and perverse disposition, which age increases, and which
education only serves to conceal. They are naturally inclined to theft,
and the best education only converts them into servile and flattering
robbers; for they have the same address, subtilty, and inclination for
mischief or rapine. Like all knaves they know how to conceal their
intentions, to watch, wait, and choose opportunities for seizing their
prey; to fly from punishment, and to remain away until the danger is
over and they can return with safety. They readily conform to the
habits of society, but never acquire its manners; they have only the
appearance of attachment, as may be seen by the obliquity of their
motions, and the duplicity of their looks; they never look in the face
of those who treat them best and of whom they seem to be the most fond,
but either through fear, or falsehood, they approach him by windings to
seek for those caresses they have no pleasure in but only to flatter
those from whom they receive them. Very different from that faithful
animal the dog, whose sentiments are all directed to the person of
his master, the cat appears only to feel for himself, only to love
conditionally, only to partake of society that he may abuse it; and by
this disposition he has more affinity to man than the dog, who is all
sincerity.

The form and temperament of the cat's body perfectly correspond
with his disposition. He is handsome, light, adroit, cleanly, and
voluptuous; he loves ease, and searches out the softest places for
rest and repose. The cat is very amorous, and what is uncommon among
animals, the female appears more ardent than the male; she seeks for
and invites him, and by her loud cries announces the fury of her
desires or rather the pressure of her wants; if he flies from or
disdains her, she pursues, tears, and though their approaches are
always accompanied with acute pain, she forces him to comply with
her desires. This passion of the female continues nine or ten days,
and commonly happens only twice a year in the spring and autumn, but
sometimes three and even four times. They go with young 55 or 56 days,
and they usually have from four to six at a litter. As the males are
apt to devour their progeny, the females commonly conceal themselves
when they litter, and if suspicious of a discovery, they carry their
young ones away in their mouths and hide them in holes or inaccessible
places. After suckling them a few weeks, the old one takes them mice
or small birds, to accustom them to eat flesh; but by an unaccountable
caprice, these very mothers so tender and careful, become sometimes so
cruel and unnatural, as to devour their offspring themselves.

Young cats are gay, sprightly, and full of frolic, and would be very
good amusement for children if nothing was to be feared from their
claws. Their play however, though always light and agreeable, is never
innocent, and soon turns into habitual mischief. As they can only
exert their talents on small animals, they watch birds, mice, and rats
with the greatest patience, which they seize with avidity, and without
being taught, become more expert hunters than the best instructed dogs.
Their dispositions being naturally averse to all restraint, they are
incapable of a regular education; we are told however that the Greek
monks of Cyprus[A] taught cats to hunt and destroy the serpents with
which that island was infested; but perhaps this hunting was more from
their natural inclination to destroy than from obedience, for they take
great delight in watching, attacking and destroying all feeble animals
without distinction, as birds, young rabbits, leverets, rats, mice,
bats, moles, frogs, toads, lizards, and serpents. They are without
docility, and their scent, which in the dog is so eminent a quality, is
very indifferent, and therefore they hunt by the eye only; neither do
they properly pursue, but rather lie in wait and attack the animals by
surprise; and after having played with, and tormented them a long time,
they kill them without any necessity, even when well fed and in no want
of prey to satisfy their appetites.

[A] Description of the Islands of the Archipelago. By Dapper p. 51.

The most immediate physical cause of their inclination to seize other
animals by surprise, comes from the advantage they receive from the
particular conformation of their eyes. The pupil in man, and many other
animals, is capable of a certain degree of contraction and dilatation;
it enlarges a little when the light is faint, and contracts when it
becomes too strong; in cats and nocturnal birds, as owls, &c. this
contraction and dilatation is so considerable that the pupil, which in
the dark is large and round, becomes in the day, long and narrow like
a line; and therefore these animals see better in the night than in
the day. There is a perpetual contraction in the eye of the cat during
the day, and it is only by a great effort that he can see in a strong
light, whereas, in the twilight, the pupil resumes its natural form, he
sees perfectly, and profits from this superiority to know, attack, and
surprise his prey.

It cannot be said that cats, though living in our houses, are entirely
domestic. The most familiar are not under any subjection, but rather
enjoy perfect freedom, as they only do just what they please, and
nothing is capable of retaining them in a place which they are inclined
to desert. Besides, most of them are half wild, know not their masters,
frequent other granaries, and never visit the kitchens and offices
belonging to the house but when pressed to it by hunger.

Cats have less attachment to persons than to houses. When taken to the
distance of a league or two they will return to their former abode of
their own accord, possibly because they there know all the retreats of
the mice, the outlets and passages about the house, and because the
labour of the journey back is less than it would be to acquire the same
facility in a new place. They fear water, cold, and bad smells; they
love to be in the sun, and to lie in warm places; they are very fond
of perfumes, and willingly allow themselves to be taken and caressed
by those who make use of them. The scent of the valerian root has so
powerful an effect on them that it appears to transport them with
pleasure; to preserve this plant in the gardens it is necessary to
surround it with a close fence, for the cats smell it at a distance,
will come about it in numbers, and by rubbing and passing and repassing
over it very soon destroy the plant. They do not come to their full
growth in less than fifteen or eighteen months, but they are capable of
engendering before the end of the first year, and they can procreate
all their lives, which seldom exceeds eight or nine years; they are
notwithstanding, very lively and hardy, and more nervous than most
other animals which live longer.

Cats can only chew slowly, and with difficulty; their teeth are so
short and so badly placed, that they rather serve them to tear than
grind their food, and, therefore, they always give the preference to
tender victuals; they are very fond of fish, which they will eat either
raw or boiled; they drink frequently; their sleep is not sound, and
they often assume the appearance of sleep for some artful design; they
walk gently, and without making any noise. They are very cleanly, and
as their coat is always dry their hair easily electrifies, and the
sparks are seen to come from it merely by rubbing the hand across it in
the dark. Their eyes also sparkle in the dark like diamonds, and seem
to reflect in the night the light they may be said to have imbibed
during the day.

_Engraved for Barr's Buffon._

[Illustration: FIG. 50. _Wild Cat._]

[Illustration: FIG. 51. _Domestic Cat._]

The wild cat (_fig. 50._) couples with the domestic one (_fig. 51._)
and consequently form but one species. It is not uncommon for both
males and females to quit their houses when they are proud and go into
the woods to seek wild cats, and afterwards return to their former
habitations; it is for this reason that some of our domestic cats
so entirely resemble the wild ones. The greatest difference between
them is internally, the intestines of the domestic cat being longer
than those of the wild cat, although the latter is much the largest
and strongest; his lips are also always black, his ears more stiff,
his tail larger, and his colour more uniform. In this country we know
but one species of wild cat, and it appears from the testimony of
travellers that this species is found in almost all climates without
any great variety. There were some of them upon the new Continent
before its discovery: a huntsman carried one to Christopher Columbus
which was of the common size, of a dark grey colour, and had a very
long strong tail. There were wild ones found at Peru, but none in a
tame state; as also in Canada, in the county of Illinois, &c. They have
been seen in many parts of Africa, as in Guinea, and the Gold Coast,
at Madagascar, where the natives had domestic cats, and at the Cape of
Good Hope, where Kolbe says, there are also, though in a small number,
wild cats of a blue colour; and these blue or rather slate-coloured
cats are also found in Asia. Pietro della Valle says[B], "In Persia
there are cats of a species which properly belong to the province of
Charazan. Their size and form are like those of the common cat; their
beauty consists in their colour, and in their hair which is grey,
spotless, and uniform over the whole body, except that it is darker
on the back and the head, and shaded lighter on the breast and belly,
until it approaches a degree of whiteness; which agreeable mixture,
to use the language of the painters, forms a kind of _chiaro-obscuro_
that has a wonderful effect. Besides their hair is shining, soft and
delicate as silk, and so long, that, though more smooth than rough,
yet it is curled, particularly under the neck. These cats are to the
rest of their species, what the water-dogs are to that of the dog. The
most beautiful part of their body is the tail, which is very long and
covered with hair of five or six inches in length, and which they turn
up over their backs like the squirrel, and the upper point resembles a
plume of feathers. They are very tame, and the Portuguese have brought
them from Persia into the Indies." From this description it appears,
that, except in colour, these cats resemble those of Angora (_fig.
52._). It is probable, therefore, that the cat of Chorazan, in Persia,
and the cat of Angora, in Syria, are of the same race, and whose beauty
proceeds from the particular influence of the climate of Syria; in the
same manner as the Spanish cats (_fig. 53._) which are red, white, and
black, and whose hair is soft and glossy, are indebted for their beauty
to the climate of Spain.

[B] Travels of Pietro della Valle, vol. v. pp. 98 and 99.

_Engraved for Barr's Buffon._

[Illustration: FIG. 52. _Spanish Cat._]

[Illustration: FIG. 53. _Angora Cat._]

In general it may be remarked, that of all the climates of the
inhabited globe, those of Spain and Syria are the most favourable to
these beautiful varieties in nature. The sheep, goats, dogs, cats,
rabbits, &c. of those countries, have the finest wool, the most
beautiful and longest hair, and the most agreeable and most varied
colours. Both the hair and colour of the wild cat, like those of most
other animals, are coarse; when tamed the former becomes more soft and
the latter more variegated, and in the favourable climates of Chorazan
and Syria, the hair becomes more long, fine, and copious, and the
colours more delicate; the black and red change into a transparent
brown, and the dark brown into an ash-coloured grey. By comparing a
wild cat of our forests with those of Chorazan, we shall find their
greatest difference consists in this shaded variety of colours. As
these animals have more or less white upon the belly and sides, it is
easy to conceive that to have cats entirely white and with long hair,
such as the cats of Angora, we have only to unite those with the most
white, in the same manner as is done with rabbits, dogs, goats, stags,
&c. In the Spanish cat, which is only another variety of the wild cat,
the colours instead of being weakened by uniform shades, as in the
Syrian cat, become more bright; the yellow is changed into red, the
brown into black, and the grey into white. These cats retain their
colours and do not degenerate when transported into America. "In the
Antilles, says Father du Tertre, there are a number of cats, probably
brought thither by the Spaniards; most of them have red, white, or
black marks, and many of the French after eating the flesh, send their
skins to France for sale. When we came to Guadeloupe these cats were
so accustomed to feed on partridges, doves, thrushes, and small birds,
that they would not deign to look upon rats; but no sooner did they
find the game diminish than they broke their truce with the rats and
fought them vigorously."

In general cats are not, like dogs, subject to degenerate when
transported into warm climates. Bosman says, "the European cats when
carried into Guinea preserve their original figure the same." Their
nature is indeed more constant, and as their domestic state is neither
so entire, universal, nor perhaps so ancient as that of the dog, it
is not surprising that they should have undergone less variation. Our
domestic cats, though they differ in colour, do not form distinct and
separate races; the climates of Spain and Syria having alone produced
varieties which are permanent. To these might indeed be added the
climate of Pe-chi-ly, in China, where there are cats with long hair
and pendant ears, and of which the Chinese ladies are very fond. These
domestic cats with pendant ears, of which we have descriptions, are
more removed than those with straight ears, from the wild primitive
race.

We shall here close the history of the cat, and with it that of
domestic animals; of these our number is confined to the horse, the
ass, the ox, the sheep, the goat, the hog, the dog, and the cat. We add
not to this list the camel, the elephant, the rein-deer, and others,
which though domestic in other countries, are not familiar to us; nor
shall we enter upon the history of foreign wild animals, till we have
given that of the wild animals of our own country. Besides, as the cat
may be said to be only half domestic, he forms the shade between the
real wild and real domestic animals; for among the domestic we ought
not to include such troublesome neighbours as rats, mice, and moles,
which, though inhabitants of our houses and gardens, are not less wild
and unsubjected; since instead of being attached or subservient to man,
they fly from him, and in their obscure retreats, retain their manners,
habits, and their liberties inviolate.

In the history of each domestic animal we have seen to what a degree
the education, protection, and care of man, influence its disposition,
manners, and even form. We have seen that these causes, added to the
effects of climate, modify and change the species so as to render them
very different from what they originally were, whence is occasioned
such a dissimilarity among the individuals of the same species that
we should be led to consider them as different animals, did they not
produce together fertile individuals, which is the sole essential
characteristic of every species. We have seen that the different races
of domestic animals observe nearly the same order in the different
climates with the human race; that like men they are more strong and
courageous in cold countries, more civilized and mild in temperate
ones, and more dastardly, feeble, ugly, and deformed, in the hot
regions; that moreover it is in temperate climates, and among the most
civilized nations, that the greatest diversity, mixture, and numerous
varieties of each species are found; it is among them also that animals
exhibit evident signs of the antiquity of their servitude; their
pendant ears, their varied colours, their long and delicate hair, are
so many effects produced by the length of time they have been in a
domestic state. Of almost all wild animals the ears are erect. Those
of the wild boar are erect and stiff, but those of the domestic hog
are inclined and half pendant. Among the Laplanders, the savages of
America, the Hottentots, the Negroes, and other uncivilized people, all
the dogs have erect ears; whereas in Spain, France, England, Turkey,
Persia, China, and all other civilized countries, the generality of
them have soft and pendant ears. The ears of the tame cat are not so
stiff as those of the wild one; and in China, which is an empire of
very ancient civilization, and whose climate is very mild, there are
cats with pendulous ears. It is for the same reason that the goat of
Angora, whose ears are pendant, should be considered as the animal of
his species the furthest removed from his natural state; the influence
so evident of the climate of Syria, added to the domestic state of
these animals among a people civilized from great antiquity, would in
process of time have produced this variety, which cannot be maintained
in any other climate. The goats of Angora brought forth in France, have
their ears neither so long nor so pendant as those produced in Syria,
and would, probably, after a certain number of generations, assume the
ears and hair of the goats of our country.


SUPPLEMENT.

It has been supposed that I denied the cat the power of sleeping, but
this must have arisen entirely from a misconception of my expression;
for although I was not aware of their sleeping so soundly, as I am now
informed is sometimes the case, yet I always knew they slept in some
degree. M. Pasumot, of the academy at Dijon, has communicated to me a
letter on this subject; he says, "Although the cat sleeps seldom, it is
very sound, and might sometimes be considered as a kind of lethargy.
I have had at least ten instances; a favourite cat used to lay upon
the feet of my bed; one night I pushed him away, but found him so
immoveable that I conceived him to be dead. I pulled and tossed him
about for some time before he shewed any kind of life, when at last he
began to awake, but it was even then very slowly. This sound sleep, and
difficulty of awaking cats, I have often observed; and I am acquainted
with a gentleman who has also been witness of their sleeping in this
sound manner, and which he says is always at the time of great heat, or
previous to stormy weather."

M. de Lestrie, a merchant of Chalons, in Champagne, has remarked to me,
that the breath of cats frequently exhales an odour resembling musk;
particularly when they purr and are tranquil, or when suddenly alarmed
and make a hissing noise, from which he inclines to conclude that
there are some vessels in the breast of a cat filled with an aromatic
quality; but nothing of this nature is to be discovered by anatomy.

In my former history of this animal, I remarked there were cats in
China, whose ears were pendant, but as this variety is not found in any
other place, it is possibly an animal of a different species; and I
am led to this supposition from there being an animal called _Sumxu_,
mentioned by travellers, which they say they can compare to nothing but
the cat, which it greatly resembles. It is found among the Chinese,
who are extremely partial to it, both on account of its beauty, its
hair being of a bright black or yellow colour, and because it readily
destroys rats.

We have also another variety of cats in our own climates; as there are
some produced with pencils at their ears. M. de Save writes me word,
that in November, 1773, he had a young kitten brought forth at his
house in Paris, very like what we have described as a Spanish cat, with
pencils at her ears, although neither of the parents had them, and that
in a few months they were as large in proportion to her size as those
of a Canadian lynx. At Madagascar they have tamed some wild cats which
have twisted tails, and are called _Saca_ by the inhabitants; but they
intermix with the domestic, and are of course of the same species.
I have had the skin of an animal sent me from Cayenne, which much
resembles a wild cat. They call it Haïra in Guiana, and the natives
there eat its flesh, which is white and palatable; I therefore suspect
a mistake has been made in its name, and that it is the Taïra, a small
martin, of which notice is taken in the latter part of this work.



CHAP. III.

OF WILD ANIMALS.


In the History of Man, and of Domestic Animals, we have seen Nature
solely as she is constrained; we have rarely seen her perfect, often
altered and deformed, and always either surrounded with shackles or
loaded with extraneous ornaments. We shall now behold her decked out
by simplicity alone, but more attractive by her artless beauty, by
her free air, by the sprightliness of her movements, and by all the
other attributes of true dignity and independence. We shall behold her
traversing the surface of the earth with sovereign sway, portioning
her domain among the other animals, and dividing to each species
its element, climate, and subsistence; we shall survey her in the
forests, in the waters, and in the plains, dictating her simple but
immutable laws; imprinting upon every species her indelible characters;
dispensing her gifts with equity, and counter-balancing evil with good;
we shall observe her giving to some strength and courage accompanied
with hunger and voracity; to others mildness, temperance, and agility,
attended with fear, inquietude, and timidity; and to all liberty,
with uniformity of manners, and ardour in love, which they can easily
satisfy, and is always followed by a happy fecundity.

Love and liberty, what blessings! Have those animals which we call
_savage_, because they are not subjected to our will, need of aught
more to make them happy? If so, they enjoy another blessing, that of
living in a state of equality; they are neither the slaves nor tyrants
of each other; the individual has not, like man, to dread the rest
of his species; they enjoy peace among themselves, and are strangers
to war, but when brought on them by other animals or men. No wonder
then that they should shun the human race, steal from our view, live
in solitudes remote from our habitations, employ all the resources of
their instinct to provide for their safety; and in order to exempt
themselves from the power of man, that they should exert every
expedient of that liberty which Nature has bestowed on them, together
with the desire of independence.

Some animals, and they are the most mild, innocent, and tranquil, are
contented with remaining at a certain distance from us, and living in
our fields; others more fierce and distrustful, conceal themselves in
the recesses of woods; others, as if they knew there was no safety on
the surface of the earth, dig themselves subterraneous abodes, take
shelter in caverns, or gain the summits of most inaccessible mountains;
and others, the most ferocious and most powerful, inhabit deserts only,
and reign like sovereigns in those burning climates, where man, as
savage as themselves, is unable to dispute the empire with them.

As all beings, even the most independent, are subjected and governed
by physical laws, and as brute animals, as well as man, experience the
influences of the air and soil, so it appears, that the same causes
which have softened and civilized the human species in our climates,
have produced similar effects upon all other species. The wolf, which
is perhaps the most ferocious animal in the temperate zone, is by no
means so terrible or cruel as the tiger, the panther, and the lion of
the torrid zone; or as the white bear, the lynx, and the hyæna of the
frozen zone. And this difference is not only general, as if Nature, to
give a degree of harmony to her productions, had calculated the climate
for the species, or the species for the climate, but in each particular
species the climate is calculated for the manner, and the manners
for the climate. In America, where the heat is less violent, and the
air and soil more benign than in Africa, though under the same line,
the lion, tiger, and panther, have nothing terrible in them but the
name. They are no longer tyrants of the forests, intrepid enemies of
mankind, monsters which delight in blood and carnage: but they usually
run from before man, and instead of waging open war even against other
animals, employ stratagem and artifice to take them by surprise; in a
word, they may be rendered subservient and almost domestic; therefore
were ferocity and cruelty the characteristic of their natures, they
must have degenerated, or rather felt the influence of the climate;
under a milder sky their dispositions have become milder; every excess
in them has been tempered, and by these changes they have become more
conformable to the nature of the country which they inhabit.

The vegetables which cover this earth and are more connected with it
than the animal that feeds upon them, partake in a superior degree of
the nature of the climate. Every country, every degree of temperature,
has its particular plants. At the foot of the Alps we find those of
France and Italy, and on their summit those of the northern regions,
which very plants we also meet with on the frozen pinnacles of the
African mountains. On the south side of the mountains which separate
the Mogul empire from the kingdom of Cashmire, we see all the plants
of the Indies, and on the other side we are surprised to find none
but those of Europe. It is from intemperate climates that we also
derive drugs, perfumes, poisons and all the plants whose qualities are
excessive. The productions of temperate climates, on the contrary are
always mild. Of such happy spots, herbs and roots the most wholesome,
the sweetest fruits, the gentlest animals and the most polished men,
are the delightful appurtenances. Thus the earth produces plants, the
earth and plants make animals, and of the earth, plants, and animals,
are formed men; for the qualities of vegetables, proceed immediately
from the soil and air; the temperament and other relative qualities of
animals which feed on herbs, have a close affinity to the particular
kinds they use, and the physical qualities of men, and other animals
which subsist on flesh, as well as on vegetables, depend, though
more remotely, on the same causes, whose influence extends even to
disposition and manners. Size and form, which appear to be absolute and
determined qualities, depend, nevertheless, like the relative qualities
upon the influence of the climate. The size of our largest animals are
greatly inferior to that of the elephant, rhinoceros, or hippopotamus;
our largest birds are but small if we compare them with the ostrich,
condor, or the cassowary; and what comparison can be made between
the fishes, lizards, and serpents of our regions, and the whale, the
walrus, and manati, which inhabit the northern seas; or the crocodiles,
large lizards, and enormous adders which infest the southern climes,
both by land and water? And if we consider each species in different
climates, we shall find sensible varieties both in size and figure,
as we have already evinced in the history of the horse, goat, hog, and
dog. These changes are, however, produced but slowly and imperceptibly;
the grand workman of nature is Time, and his operations are equal,
uniform, and regular; he performs nothing by starts; nothing but by
degrees, by shades, and by succession; and what he does, however
imperceptible at first, becomes gradually sensible, and is, at length,
marked by effects which it is impossible to mistake.

Wild and independent animals are, of all living beings, man not
excepted, the least subject to changes and variations of any kind.
Possessed of absolute liberty in the choice of their food and climate,
their nature varies less than that of domestic animals, which we
enslave, transport, mal-treat, and feed without consulting their taste.
Wild animals live uniformly in the same manner; they wander not from
climate to climate; their native wood is a country to which they are
faithfully attached, and from which they never remove but when they
feel they can no longer live in it with security. When they fly it is
less to avoid their natural enemies than the presence of man. Nature
has supplied them with resources against other animals; with them
they are on a level; they know their strength, their cunning, their
designs, their haunts, and if they cannot avoid, they oppose them with
force to force. But how can they guard against beings who can seize
without seeing, and can destroy without approaching them? It is man,
therefore, who disturbs, and who disperses these wild animals, and
renders them a thousand times more savage than they would otherwise be,
for the greater part require nothing but tranquillity, nothing but a
moderate and innocent use of the air and earth.

By Nature they are prompted to reside together, to unite in families,
and to form a kind of social intercourse. Of this intercourse we
still find vestiges in countries not totally engrossed by man; we
there find works achieved in common, designs which, without being
founded on reason, seem, nevertheless to be projected for rational
convenience, and the execution of which supposes at least an union and
concurrence of individuals occupied in it. Nor is it by physical force
or necessity, like the ants, the bees, &c. that the beavers labour and
build; unconstrained either by space, time, or number, they assemble
from choice. Those that agree dwell together; and those that disagree
live apart; and some, from being perpetually repulsed by the body,
are obliged to lead a solitary life. It is only in remote and desert
countries, where there is little dread of the approach of man, that
they endeavour to establish themselves, and render their habitations
more fixed and commodious, by constructing dwellings, or, as it were,
small hamlets, which not unaptly represent the first efforts and feeble
labours of an infant commonwealth. In countries, on the contrary, over
which man is diffused, terror seems to dwell, all society is lost
among animals, all industry ceases, and every art is suppressed; they
relinquish the occupation of building, and neglect every accommodation;
always pressed by fear and necessity, their only study is to live, and
their only employment flight and concealment; and if, as may reasonably
be supposed, the whole surface of the earth should, in process of time,
be equally inhabited by the human species, in a few centuries the
history of a beaver would be considered as a fable. The faculties and
talents of animals, therefore, instead of increasing are constantly
diminishing, for time may be said to oppose them. The more the human
species are multiplied and improved the more they become subjected
to the dominion of an absolute tyrant, who will hardly permit their
individual existence, deprives them of liberty, of every avenue to
society, and destroys the very root of their intelligence. What they
are become, or what they may become, is an inadequate indication of
what they have been or might be. Who can say, if the human species were
annihilated, to which of the animals would the sceptre of the earth
belong?


THE STAG, OR RED DEER.[C]

[C] The stag in Greek [Greek: elaphos]; in Latin _cervus_, in Italian
_cervo_; in Spanish _ciervo_; in Portuguese _veado_; in German
_hirsch_; in Danish _hiort_; in Swedish _kronhjort_; in Dutch _hert_;
in Polish _jelenie_.

The Stag is one of those mild, peaceable, and innocent animals, which
seem created to adorn and animate the solitudes of the forest, and
to occupy, remote from man, the peaceful retreats of Nature. His
light and elegant form, his flexible yet nervous limbs, his grandeur,
strength, and swiftness, his head, rather adorned than armed with
living branches, which, like the leaves of a tree, are every year
renewed, sufficiently distinguish him from the other inhabitants of the
forest. As he is the noblest among these, he has been made subservient
to the pleasures, and employed the leisure of the greatest heroes.
The exercise of the chace may well succeed, or should rather precede
the fatigues of war. To be acquainted with the management of horses
and arms are talents equally common to the warrior and the hunter. A
familiarity with address, bodily exercise and fatigue, so necessary to
support courage, are found in the chace, and carried into the field of
battle. Hunting is an agreeable school of a necessary art; the only
amusement which entirely detaches diversion from business; the only
recreation that is totally unaccompanied with effeminacy, and always
produces a lively pleasure, that never satiates or cloys. In what
manner can those men be better employed who, from their situations,
are constantly fatigued with company, than in hunting? Continually,
as it were, beset with a multitude, exposed to the importunity of
their demands, forced to attend to the affairs of others, to embark
in matters of the greatest concern, and, in effect, to be the more
constrained in proportion to the elevation of their stations; great
men would only feel the irksome weight of grandeur, and exist only for
others, if they did not occasionally abstract themselves from a crowd
of attendant flatterers. To enjoy themselves in real social affections,
to preserve private friendships, to nourish sentiments a thousand
times more precious than all the ideas of grandeur, they have need of
retirement from the bustle of business, and what retirement can afford
greater variety, or be accompanied with more animation than the chace?
what exercise can be more beneficial to the body? what relaxation more
agreeable to the mind?

To be always acting, or holding intercourse with man, would be as
fatiguing as perpetual thinking. Man is not intended by Nature for
the contemplation of abstract matters; to occupy himself in different
pursuits, to lead a sedentary life, and to make his study his centre
of existence, is, by no means, a natural situation, any more than it
is to be perpetually agitated by the caprices of other men, and to be
continually constrained to keep a guard over his looks, words, and
actions. Whatever ideas we may entertain of ourselves, it is evident
that to personate is not to be, and that we are less calculated to
think than to act, to reason that to enjoy. True pleasure consists
in the unrestrained use of ourselves. Our best possessions are those
we have from Nature. It is the air and the earth, the plains and the
forests, that yield us full enjoyments, full of utility, and never
to be exhausted. A taste for the chace, fishing, gardening, and
agriculture, is therefore natural to all men; and in societies more
simple than ours there subsists but two orders both relative to this
mode of life; the nobles, whose employment is war and hunting, and the
lower people whose sole office is the cultivation of the earth.

In polished societies, where every thing is refined and brought to
perfection, to render the pleasures of the chace more lively and
delightful, and to ennoble an exercise which is in itself noble
and beneficial, it has been formed into an art. The chace of the
stag requires a species of knowledge which can only be acquired
by experience; it supposes a royal assemblage of men, horses, and
hounds, all so practised, trained and disciplined, as by their mutual
intelligence to contribute to one end. The huntsman ought to be able
to judge of the age and sex of the animal. He should be able to
distinguish exactly whether the stag which his hound has _harboured_,
be a _brock_, or a staggard; whether it be a young stag, not passed
his seventh year, or an old one: the principal data to obtain this
knowledge from, are the print of his foot, or his excrement. The foot
of the stag is better formed than that of the hind; her _leg_[D] is
larger and nearer to the heel. His steps leave rounder impressions,
and are further asunder; he walks more regularly, and brings the hind
foot exactly into the impression made by the fore foot; whereas the
paces of the hind are not only shorter, but her hind foot does not so
regularly fall into the track of her fore foot. A stag of the fourth
head, that is, has acquired his fourth horns are easily distinguished;
but it requires much experience to know the foot of a young stag from
that of a hind. A stag of six or seven years is still more easily
distinguished, for his fore feet are much larger than his hind ones,
and the older he grows the thicker, or more worn, are the sides of his
feet; the distance of his steps are also more regular, his hind foot
resting always with tolerable exactness upon the track of his fore
foot, unless when they shed their horns, when the old stag is as liable
to mistake as the young ones, though in a different manner, and with
a regularity unknown to the young stag or the hind, for they rest the
hind foot always at the side of the fore one, and never either beyond
or within that reach.

[D] By the _leg_ is understood the two bones at the lower extremity
behind the foot, which leave an impression upon the ground as well as
the foot.

In the dry season, when the huntsman cannot judge by the footstep,
he is obliged to return upon the track of the animal, and endeavour
to find his dung. To be able to determine by which requires perhaps
more experience than a knowledge of the footsteps, yet without it the
huntsman could not make a just report to the sportsmen assembled. When,
in consequence of this report, the dogs are led to the shelter of the
stag, the huntsman should know how to animate his hound, and make
him rest upon the track of the stag until he be dislodged. Instantly
the horn is sounded to uncouple the dogs, which the huntsman should
encourage both by the horn and his voice; he should also carefully
mark the footsteps of his stag, that he may discover if he should
start another, and substitute him in his place; it will, in that case,
sometimes happen that the dogs will divide and form a double chace;
when so, the huntsmen should divide also and recall those dogs which
have thus gone astray. The huntsman should always accompany his dogs,
and continue to animate without pressing them too hard; he should also
assist them in order to prevent their being deceived by the stag, who
will try a number of artifices to elude them; he will frequently trace
and retrace his own steps, mix with others, and endeavour to draw a
young one to accompany him, and so put a change upon the dogs; he will
then redouble his speed, dart off one side, or lie down upon his belly
to conceal himself. In this case, when the dogs have lost his foot, the
huntsman and the hounds labour in conjunction to recover it; but if
unable to hit upon his track, they conclude he is resting within the
circuit they have made; if their endeavours continue unsuccessful, they
have no other way left them than to take a view of the country, which
may give them an idea of the place of his refuge. When discovered, and
the dogs are again put upon his track, they pursue with more advantage,
as they perceive that the stag is fatigued; their ardor augments in
proportion as his strength diminishes; and their perception is more
lively, as the animal becomes heated; they then redouble their cries
and their efforts, and though he is now more full of stratagems than
ever, yet as his swiftness diminishes, his doublings and artifices
become less effectual, and he has no other resource but to abandon the
earth which has betrayed him, and get into the water to make the dogs
lose their scent. The huntsmen traverse these waters, and again put
the dogs upon the track of his foot; after which he is incapable of
running far, and reduced to the last extremity, stands at bay.

He still endeavours to defend his life, and often wounds dogs, horses,
and even huntsmen with his horns, until one of them ham-string him that
he may fall, and then put him to death by a stroke of his hanger. They
then celebrate the death of the stag with a flourish of horns, and the
dogs partake of the victory by their perquisite of his flesh.

All seasons are not alike proper for hunting the stag. In spring,
when the forests begin to be cloathed with leaves, and the earth to
be covered with verdure and flowers, their odour diminishes the scent
of the hounds, and as the stag is then in his full strength it is
difficult for them to overtake him. The huntsman also agree that the
season when the hinds are about to bring forth is that in which the
chace is attended with the most difficulty; and that, at that time
the dogs will quit a fatigued stag, to follow any hind that gambols
before them: and in like manner, at the beginning of autumn, which is
the stag's rutting season, the blood-hounds lose all their ardour in
hunting; the strong scent of the rut probably renders the track less
distinguishable, and very possibly the scent of all stags is at this
season nearly the same. In winter, when the snow lies on the ground,
it is also improper to hunt the stag, as the hounds have no scent, and
appear to follow the track rather by the sight than the smell. At this
season, as the stags find not sufficient food in the forests, they
issue forth into the open country, and go even into inclosures and
cultivated lands. They unite in herds in the month of December, and
when the frosts are severe, they endeavour to find shelter by the side
of a hill or in a thicket, where they lie close, and keep themselves
warm by means of their breath. At the end of winter they frequent the
borders of the forests, and frequently destroy the rising corn. In
spring they shed their horns, which fall off spontaneously, or by a
small effort after entangling them with the branch of some tree. It
is seldom that the horns of both sides fall at the same time, there
usually being an interval of a day or two between them. The old stags
shed their horns first, which happens about the end of February, or
beginning of March; those in the seventh year in the middle of March;
those in the sixth year, the beginning of April; the young stags,
those from three to five years old, the beginning, and the prickets
not till the middle, or latter end of May. But in all this there is
much variety, for old stags sometimes shed their horns later than
those which are young; besides they are more forward in casting their
horns when the winter has been mild, than when severe and of a long
continuance.

After the stags have cast their horns they separate, the young ones
only keeping together. They remain no longer in deep covert, but seek
the beautiful part of the country, and continue among the coppices
during the summer, and until their antlers are renewed. In this season
they carry their heads low for fear of rubbing their horns against the
branches, for they are very tender until they arrive at perfection.
The horns of the eldest stags are not more than half renewed by the
middle of May, nor acquire their full growth and hardness before the
end of July; the younger stags are later both in shedding and having
them renewed; but when completely lengthened and hardened, they rub
them against the trees to clear them from a scurf with which they
are covered; and as they continue this practice for several days
successively, it has been said their horns receive a tint from the
juices of the trees against which they are rubbed; that they derive
a red cast from the beech and birch, a brown one from the oak, and a
black one from the elm, or trembling poplars. It is also asserted that
the horns of the young stags, which are smoother and unpearled, are not
so much tinged as those of the old ones, which are rougher, and covered
with these pearlings, which retain the sap of the tree. But I cannot be
persuaded that this is the true cause, for I have had tame stags shut
up in inclosures, where there was not a single tree, whose horns were,
nevertheless, coloured in the same manner as those of other stags.

_Engraved for Barr's Buffon._

[Illustration: FIG. 54. _Stag._]

[Illustration: FIG. 55. _Hind._]

Soon after the stag (_fig. 54._) has polished his horns he begins to
feel an inclination for the females, and in which respect the oldest
are most forward. By the end of August, or beginning of September,
they leave the coppice, return to the forest, and begin to search out
for favourite hinds; (_fig. 55._) they cry with a loud voice, their
necks and throats swell, they grow restless, and traverse the fallow
grounds and plains in open day, and they dart their horns against the
trees and hedges; in a word they seem transported with fury, and range
from place to place till they have found their females, whom they then
have to pursue and overcome, as the hind flies from him, and never
becomes subservient to his passion until she is subdued by fatigue:
those hinds which are most advanced in years are first in season. If
two stags approach the same hind a combat must precede the enjoyment;
if their strength is nearly equal, they threaten, plough up the earth
with their paws, make a terrible noise, and dart upon each other with
the utmost fury, carry on their battles to such extremities that they
often inflict mortal wounds with their horns; nor is the combat ever
concluded but by the defeat or flight of one of them. The conqueror
loses not an instant to enjoy the fruits of his victory, unless another
male happens to appear, when he is again obliged to quit his mate, and
put him to flight as he had done the other. The oldest stags are sure
to gain the battle, because they are more fierce and stronger than
the young ones, who are obliged to wait patiently until their seniors
are satisfied and quit the hind; though sometimes indeed, they take
the advantage while the two old ones are fighting, and then make a
precipitate retreat. The hinds also prefer the old stags, not merely
because they are the most valiant, but because they are more ardent.
They are also the most inconstant, and commonly have several females
at the same time; and when they happen to have but one, they remain
attached to her but a very few days, when they go in search of a
second, with whom they remain a still shorter time, and then wander
from female to female until they are quite exhausted. This amorous
fury, however, lasts not above three weeks, during which time they eat
but little, and are strangers to all repose; night and day are they on
foot, ranging about, fighting with the males, or enjoying the females,
and of course, when the rutting season is over, they are so wasted,
meagre, and fatigued, that they require a length of time to recover
their strength. They then retire to the borders of the forests and
graze on the best cultivated lands, where they find food in abundance,
and where they continue until their strength is restored.

The rutting time among the old stags commences about the first and
concludes about the 20th of September; with those in the sixth or
seventh year it begins in the middle of September, and ends the
beginning of October; with the young stags it begins about the 20th of
September and lasts to the 15th of October, by the end of which month
the rutting is all over, except among the prickets, who, as well as the
young hinds, are the latest in coming in season; thus by the beginning
of November the rutting time is entirely finished; and at that time
the stags, being in their weakest state, are most easily hunted down.
In those seasons when acorns are plentiful they recover in a very short
time, and a second rut will take place towards the end of October, but
this is always of a much shorter duration than the first. In warmer
climates, as the seasons are more forward, so is the rutting time.
Aristotle has told us that in Greece it commences at the beginning of
August, and concludes towards the end of September. The hinds carry
their young eight months and a few days, and seldom produce more than
one fawn; they bring forth in May or the beginning of June; they
take the greatest care to conceal their fawns, and will even present
themselves to be chased, in order to draw off the dogs, and afterwards
return to take care of their young. All hinds are not prolific, and
some of them are even barren: these kinds are more gross and fat than
the others, and are sooner in heat. It is also said that some hinds
have horns like the stags, and this is not void of probability. The
fawns are not so called after the sixth month, then the knobs begin
to appear, and they take the name of knobbers, which they bear until
their horns lengthen into spears, and then they are called brocks, or
prickets. Though they grow very fast, they do not quit their mothers
all the first summer. In winter they all resort together, and their
herds are more numerous as the season is more severe; in the spring
they divide; the hinds retiring to bring forth, and it is only the
prickets and young stags which then keep together. In general stags
are inclined to associate, and it is only from fear or necessity that
they are ever found dispersed. At 18 months the stags are capable of
engendering, for those brought forth in the spring of the preceding
year will couple with the hinds in autumn, and it is to be presumed
that such copulations are prolific. If any thing can create a doubt on
this subject, it is that the stags have not then attained more than
half their growth, for they continue increasing in size till their
eighth year, and to that period their horns continue to augment. But
it is to be observed that the young fawns gain strength in a little
time, that his growth is very quick, both in the first and second
years, and that it has already a redundance of nourishment, because it
shoots forth its knobs, which are certain indications of its ability
to engender. Animals in general, it is true, are not in a condition to
procreate till they have nearly acquired their full growth; but those
which have certain times allotted for copulation, or spawning, seem to
be an exception to this rule: fishes spawn and produce young before
they have attained a fourth, or even an eighth of their full growth,
and among quadrupeds, those that like the stag, elk, fallow-deer &c.
have the rutting time precisely marked, copulate sooner than other
animals.

There are so many affinities between the nutrition, the production
of the horns, the rutting and the generation of these animals, that,
for the better conception of the particular effects that flow from
them, it is necessary to recapitulate a few of the general principles
of procreation. It depends solely on the redundancy of nourishment;
as long as the growth of the body continues, (and it is always in
early age that this growth is quickest) the nourishment is totally
employed in this operation; at that period, therefore, there is no
superabundance, consequently no production, no secretion of the seminal
fluid, and hence it is that young animals are not in a condition to
engender; but when their growth is nearly acquired, the redundancy
begins to manifest itself by new productions. In the human race, the
beard, hair, increase of the breasts, and organs of generation, appear
at the age of puberty. In the brute creation, and particularly the
stag, the redundancy manifests itself by effects still more sensible,
as the shooting of the horns, the swelling of the neck and throat, the
rutting, &c. and as the stag is very quick at first in his growth,
a year does not pass before this redundance shews itself, by the
appearance of his horns. If brought forth in May the horns begin to
appear in the May following, and they continue to increase to the end
of August, by which time they are full grown, and so hard that he
rubs them against the trees to clear them of the scurf; the fat also
at this time begins to accumulate, is determined towards the parts
of generation, and excites in the stag that ardour and desire which
renders him so furious. That the production of horns, and power for
generation, proceed from the same cause is evident, for by castration
the growth of the horns is effectually prevented; if this operation
is performed after he has shed his horns they will never be renewed,
and if done when they are perfect he will never shed them again; in
fact he will remain all the rest of his life in the same state as when
he suffered castration; and as he no longer experiences the ardour of
the rut, so the accompanying signs also disappear, and he becomes a
tame and peaceable animal. From hence it appears that the retrenched
parts were necessary for collecting and diffusing them over his whole
body in the form of fat, particularly at the top of the head where
it gives rise to the horns. It is true, indeed, that castrated stags
become fat, but the productions of their horns ceases, their necks and
throats never swell, and their fat is very different from that of the
perfect stag, which in the rutting season is so very strong as not only
to render the flesh uneatable but offensive to the smell, and will
corrupt in a very short time, while that of the former may be long
preserved sweet, and eaten at all times. Another proof that the horns
are produced by a redundance of the nutritive juices may be drawn from
the circumstance, that those of stags of the same age will be either
thick or thin, in proportion to the supply of food; for the stag which
lives in a plentiful country, where he feeds at his pleasure, and
rests at his ease, undisturbed by dogs or men, will always have much
larger and more beautiful antlers than he who has scanty subsistence,
and is disturbed in his repose; so that it is easy to determine by the
horns of a stag whether he have inhabited a rich and quiet country.
Those also which are in bad health, have been wounded, or frequently
disturbed by hunting, have seldom fine horns or good flesh; they are
later in beginning to rut, and their horns are neither shed nor renewed
so early as others. Thus every circumstance concurs to prove, that the
horns, like the seminal fluid, are merely the redundant superfluity
of the organic juices which cannot be employed in developing and
supporting the animal body.

It is the insufficiency of food, therefore, that retards the growth
of the horns and diminishes their size; and perhaps it would not be
impossible, by scanty diet, greatly to prevent their growth without
having recourse to castration. It is certain that castrated stags
eat less than others; and the reason the females of this species,
as well as the fallow deer, the roe, and the elk, have no horns, is
because they eat less than the males, and because at the very time the
redundance would naturally happen, and appear externally, they are with
young, and consequently the superfluous juices are first employed in
nourishing the foetus and afterwards in producing milk for the fawn.
The objection that the female rein deer is furnished with horns rather
supports what is here advanced; for of all quadrupeds which have horns,
the rein deer has by much the largest in proportion to his size, as
they frequently extend the whole length of his body; he also abounds
more in fat, and those of the females are very small comparatively
with those of the male; the instance therefore only serves to prove,
that when the redundancy exceeds what can be exhausted by gestation,
it diffuses itself outwardly in the same manner as that of the males.
These remarks respecting nourishment, are not, however, to be applied
to the quantity of provisions, but solely to the quantity of organic
molecules which they contain; the latter being that active and prolific
matter which supports animate beings, and the former a dead mass
which has no effect upon the body of the animal; and as the _lichen
rangiferinus_, which is the ordinary food of the rein deer, is a more
substantial nutriment than the leaves, bark, or buds of trees, on which
the common stag feeds, it is not wonderful that the former should have
a greater redundance of organic nutriment, and consequently more fat
and larger horns than the latter. It must be allowed, however, that the
organic matter, which produces these horns, is not entirely separated
from inanimate particles, but preserves even after it has passed
through the body of the animal, characteristics of its former vegetable
state. The horns of the stag in their make and growth resemble the
branches of a tree; and its substance is perhaps more of the nature
of wood than bone; it is, as it were, a vegetable grafted upon animal,
partaking of the nature of both, and forms one of those shades by which
nature always approximates to the two extremes.

In animals the bones grow at the two extremities at the same time,
at first becomes hard in the middle, and at the two ends continue
soft and receding therefrom until it has acquired its full length. In
vegetables, on the contrary, the wood advances by one extremity only;
the bud which unfolds to form a branch is only attached to the old wood
by its lower end, and it is from this point that it exerts its power
of extension in length. This remarkable difference between the growth
of bones and the solid parts of plants, does not take place in the
horns of the stag, as nothing can bear a stronger resemblance to their
growth than that of a branch of a tree; they extend from one extremity
only, they are at first as tender as an herb and then harden like
wood. The scurf which covers and grows with them is their bark, which
the animals rub off when they are arrived at their full growth; until
this is completed the ends remain soft, and likewise divide themselves
into a number of branches. In a word there is a perfect resemblance
in the development of both, and therefore the organic molecules, which
constitute the living substance of the horns of the stag, still retain
the image of the vegetable, because they are arranged in the same
manner as in vegetables. Here we see that matter has an influence over
form. The stag, which lives in the forest, and feeds only on the leaves
of trees, receives from them so strong an impression that he produces a
sort of tree, of whose origin it is impossible to mistake. This effect,
though surprising, is not singular, but depends on that general cause
which we more than once have already had occasion to point out.

The most constant and invariable thing in Nature is the image or model
allotted to each particular species, both in animals and vegetables;
what is most variable is the substance of which they are composed.
Matter, in general, seems to receive all forms with indifference,
and to be capable of all configurations; the organic and living
particles of this matter pass from vegetables into animals, without
suffering dissolution or alteration, and equally form the living
substance of herbs, trees, flesh, or bones. It may seem from this
first glance that matter can never predominate over form, and that
no sort of nourishment taken by the animal, provided he can draw out
the organic particles, and assimilate them to himself by nutrition,
can occasion any change upon his form, and can have no effect but that
of supporting, or adding to the growth of his body. Of this we have a
proof in those animals which live solely upon herbage, who, though a
substance widely different from their own bodies, draw from it every
thing necessary to constitute flesh and blood, and will even exceed in
bulk those who feed upon animal food. In taking a more particular view
of Nature we find this is not always the case. Height, for example,
which is one of the attributes of form, varies in every species
according to the difference of climate; as do the quantity and quality
of the flesh, two other attributes of form, according to the different
kinds of food. This organic matter, therefore, which the animal
assimilates to its body by nutrition, is not absolutely indifferent
to the reception of this or that modification: it is not deprived of
its original figure; it continues to act in its own form, and though
this action be almost imperceptible, yet, in process of time, it
necessarily produces very sensible effects. The stag, who inhabits the
forests, and lives only upon wood, produces a species of trees, which
is nothing more than the superabundant part of his food. The beaver
which inhabits the water, and feeds upon fish, has a tail covered
with scales; and the flesh of the otter, as well as of most aquatic
fowls, is of a fishy nature. It may therefore be presumed, that animals
which live constantly upon one kind of food will, in time, imbibe a
tincture of its aliment; and however strong the original impression
of nature may be, a kind of transformation will take place by an
assimilation contrary to the first. In this case the nourishment no
longer assimilates entirely to the form of the animal, but the animal
assimilates in part to the form of the nourishment, as is seen in the
horns of the stag and the tail of the beaver.

The horns, then, are but an excrescence, a part foreign to the body of
the stag, and only esteemed as an animal substance because it grows
from him; it is in reality a vegetable production, since it retains
all the marks of that vegetable from which it derives its origin,
and resembles the branch of a tree in the manner it grows, expands,
hardens, dries, and separates; for it falls off spontaneously, after
having acquired its full degree of solidity, like a ripe fruit from
the branch. The very name given to this production in the French
language[E] is a proof that it has been considered as a species of
wood, and not as a horn, a bone, a tusk, a tooth, &c. In addition to
these arguments, we may add a fact recorded by Aristotle, Theophrastus,
and Pliny, who all assert that ivy has been seen to grow round the
horns of stags while they were in a tender state. If this be true and
it would be easy to make the experiment, it would still more fully
establish the analogy between the wood of the stag and that of trees.
The horns and tusks of other animals are not only of a substance
different from the branches of a stag, but also in their growth,
texture, and form, both exterior and interior, there is nothing
which bears any analogy to wood: these and the nails, claws, hair,
feathers, scales, &c. grow, it is true, by a kind of vegetation, but
a vegetation widely different from that of trees. The horns of oxen,
goats, antelopes, &c. are hollow within, whereas those of the stag are
entirely solid; the substance of the former is the same with that of
nails, claws, scales, &c. but the horns of the stag resemble wood more
than any other substance. All these hollow horns are covered on the
inside by a _periosteum_, and contain in their cavities a bone which
serves to support them; they never fall off but continue to increase
during the life of the animal, and will assist in determining its age,
by the number of annual rings. Instead of growing like those of the
stag, from the upper extremity, they grow like nails, feathers, and
hair from the lower extremity. Thus it is also with the tusks of the
elephant, sea-cow, boar, and all other animals; they are hollow within,
and grow only from the lower extremity. These horns or tusks have
therefore no more resemblance than nails, hairs, or feathers, to the
horns of the stag.

[E] The French word is _bois_, a forest, a wood, likewise used for the
substance, or branch of a tree

All vegetation is reducible then to three kinds; the first is, when
the growth proceeds from the superior extremity, as in herbs, plants,
trees, and the antlers of stags; the second, when it is made from the
inferior extremity, as in horns, claws, nails, hair, scales, tusks,
teeth, feathers, and other exterior parts of animal bodies; the third
when the growth advances from both extremities at the same time, as
in bones, cartilages, muscles, tendons, and other internal parts of
animals. Of all three the proximate cause is the superabundance of
organic nourishment, and the only effect, the assimilation of that
nourishment, to the mould wherein it has been received. Thus the
animal grows more or less quickly in proportion to the quantity of
such nourishment, and when the growth is nearly completed, it then
seeks to employ itself in the propagation of new organized beings in
the manner as we have before stated. The difference between animals,
which, like the stag, have fixed seasons, and those which can engender
at all times, proceeds likewise from the manner of their feeding. Man
and domestic animals, which every day receive an equal quantity of
sustenance, and frequently to an excess, may engender at all seasons.
The stag, and most wild animals on the contrary, who suffer much from
want in the winter, have no superabundance, nor are in a state to
engender till they have recruited themselves during the summer; and
it is then the rutting season commences, and during which he exhausts
himself so much that he remains the whole winter in a state of langour.
His flesh and blood are then so impoverished that worms breed under his
skin, which still adds to his misery, and which do not perish till the
spring, when he recovers new life from the active nourishment he is
abundantly furnished with by the fresh production of the earth.

Thus does this animal pass his whole life in alternate plenty and
want, vigour and inanition, health and sickness, without having his
constitution much affected by the violence of those extremes; nor
is the duration of his life inferior to those animals which are not
subject to such vicissitudes. As he is five or six years in growing, so
he lives seven times that number, or from 35 to 40 years. What has been
reported of the prodigious longevity of the stag has no foundation,
being only a popular prejudice, which took place in the days of
Aristotle, and which he did not consider as probable, because, as he
observes, neither the time of gestation nor of growth, indicated long
life. Notwithstanding this authority, which ought to have abolished the
prejudice, it was again renewed in the days of ignorance, and supported
by the story of a stag which was taken by Charles VI. in the forest of
Senlis, with a collar upon his neck, bearing the inscription "_Cæsar
hoc me donavit_;" and the people rather choose to believe this stag
had lived a thousand years, and had received his collar from a Roman
Emperor, than that he came from Germany, where the Emperors yet assume
the name of Cæsar.

The horns of the stag increase in bulk and height from the second year
to the eighth, and from that time remain with equal beauty during
all the vigor of life; but when he begins to decline with age they
decline also. It rarely happens that our stags have more than 20 or 22
antlers, and even this number is by no means constant, but he will have
a greater number one year than another, according to the nourishment
and repose he has enjoyed; and upon the same circumstances the size
and quality of the horns likewise depend. It is like the wood of the
forest, large, tender, and light, in moist and fertile countries, and
short, hard, and heavy in such as are dry arid barren. The size and
shape of the animals also vary according to the districts they inhabit.
Those which range in valleys, or gently-rising hills, abounding
in grain, are much larger than those which frequent dry and rocky
mountains; the latter are short and thick; they are not so swift as the
former, but can run much longer; they are likewise more mischievous;
their horns are short and black, like a tree stinted in its growth,
whose bark is always of a darkish hue; whereas the horns of those which
feed on plains are lofty, and of a clear red, like the wood and bark of
trees which grow in a good soil. These little thick stags generally
inhabit among the underwood, where they can the more easily conceal
themselves from the pursuit of the dogs. Those of Corsica appear to be
the smallest of these mountain stags, and are hardly more than half the
size of those common among us, and are, as it were, the terrier among
stags; his body is squat, his legs are short, and his hair is dark
brown. I am convinced that the size and stature of stags depend upon
the quality and quantity of their food, from having reared one, and
supplied him very plentifully, who at the end of four years was taller,
plumper, and in every respect better furnished than the oldest stags in
my woods, though they are of a very large size.

The most common colour of the stag is yellow, though many of them are
brown, and some red. White stags are more uncommon, and seem to be a
race which have been domesticated, but in very early times, for both
Aristotle and Pliny mention them, though as very rare. The colour of
the horns, as well as the hair, seems to depend on the nature and
age of the animal, and the impression of the air. The horns of the
young stags are more white and untinged than those of the old ones.
Those stags whose hair is a light yellow have often sallow coloured
horns; those of a lively yellow their horns are red, and brown ones,
especially those which have black hair on their necks, have black
horns. It is true that the interior parts of the horns of all stags
are almost equally white, but they differ greatly in point of solidity
and texture. Some of them are even spongy and have large cavities. The
difference of texture is sufficient to account for their difference in
colour, without having recourse to the sap of trees as productive of
that effect; especially since we daily see the whitest ivory change
brown or yellow if exposed to the air, although its substance is more
complete than that of the horns of the stag.

The stag seems to have good eyes, an exquisite smell, and excellent
ears. When listening he raises his head, pricks up his ears, and then
hears from a great distance; when going into or issuing from a coppice,
or half-covered place, he stops to take a full view round him, and
scents the wind by way of discovering whether any thing is near that is
likely to give him disturbance. Though rather simple he has curiosity
and cunning. If any one whistle or call to him from a distance, he
stops short, gazes attentively, and with a kind of admiration; and if
those who disturbed him have neither arms nor dogs, he passes along
quietly and without altering his pace. With equal tranquility and
delight he appears to listen to the shepherd's pipe, and the hunters
to embolden them sometimes make use of those instruments. In general
he fears men much less than dogs, and entertains neither distrust nor
artifice but in proportion as he is disturbed. He eats slow, selects
his food, and when full he seeks out a place to lie down and ruminate
at leisure; though he does not seem to perform the act of rumination
with the same ease as the ox, and it is not without violence that he
can make the food rise from his first stomach; this is occasioned by
the length and direction of the passage through which the aliment
has to pass. The ox has a straight, short neck, but that of the stag
is long and arched; efforts, therefore, are necessary to raise the
food, and which efforts are made by a kind of hiccough, the action of
which is manifest as long as he continues to ruminate. As he advances
in age his voice is more strong and tremulous: that of the hind is
weaker and shorter, and she never exerts it from love but only from
fear. The stag raises a frightful cry in rutting time, for he is so
transported that nothing disquiets or terrifies him; he is therefore
easily surprised, and being loaded with fat cannot long maintain the
chace; but when reduced to an extremity he is dangerous, and will
attack the dogs with a kind of fury. He seldom drinks in the winter
and not at all in the spring, the dew with which the tender grass is
surcharged being then sufficient; but in the heat of summer, he has
recourse to brooks, marshes and fountains, and in rutting time he is so
overheated that he searches every where for water, not only to appease
his immoderate thirst, but to bathe himself and refresh his body. He
swims much better at this than at any other time because of his fat,
which is specifically lighter than an equal quantity of water. He
has been seen to cross large rivers; it has even been asserted that,
allured by the scent of the hinds in rutting time, stags will throw
themselves into the sea, and pass from one island to another at the
distance of several leagues. They leap still better than they swim, for
when pursued they easily clear a fence or hedge of six feet high. Their
aliment differs according to the seasons: In autumn, after the rutting
season, they search out the buds of green shrubs, the flowers of the
heath, brambles, &c. In the winter, during snow, they peel the bark
off the trees, and feed upon that and the moss, &c. and in mild weather
they range for provender among the corn fields. In the spring they seek
out the trembling poplar, willow, hazel, &c. In summer, when they have
abundance, they seem to like no grain so well as rye, and no wood equal
to the black-berry bearing alder.

The flesh of the fawn is very delicate, that of the hind and pricket
not bad, but that of the full-grown stag has always a strong and
disagreeable taste. The skin and the horns are the most useful parts
of this animal; from the former is made a very pliable and durable
leather. The horns are used by cutlers, and other mechanics, and a
volatile salt, much used in medicine, is drawn from it by chemists.


SUPPLEMENT.

By a letter I received from M. Beccaria, a celebrated Professor at
Pisa, dated October 28, 1767, it appears the pupil of the eye of the
stag, as well as that of the cat, owl, &c. contracts in the light,
and dilates in the dark; of this he was perfectly convinced by some
experiments he made with a stag confined in a darkened apartment, but
he found the effect was very different from that in the animals above
mentioned, for their contraction and dilation is made vertically, while
those of the stag are horizontally.

I have also received information of a fact from M. le Marquis
d'Amazaga, that merits being noticed in the history of the stag. We
have already observed that their horns begin to acquire the form and
existence, which they retain for the remainder of the year, at the
beginning of August, and after noticing this fact he proceeds in the
relation, "that on the 17th of October the attendants of the Prince
of Condé chaced a stag six years old, and it being the rutting season
they were greatly surprised at the swiftness of his pace and the
distance he led them, which was full six leagues from his harbour; and
this surprise received no small addition when he was taken, by his
horns appearing white and sprinkled with blood, as they are at the
season when they rub them against the trees; and it was evident, on
his being opened, from the situation of his interior parts, that he
had never experienced the effects of the rut, and as he had not been
in a condition for rutting he was as loaded with fat as though it had
been the month of June, July, or August. Besides this he had another
singularity; his right foot wanted the middle bone, and which in the
left was at least half an inch long, large, and pointed. As the stag,
if he be castrated when he has no horns, never acquires any after, or
never loses them if performed when his horns are in perfection, it
is but reasonable to suppose that they were retarded, in the present
instance, from the imbecility of his organs, but which however were
sufficient to effect the fall and renewal of his horns, as it was
evident when he was killed that he had had horns annually from the
second to the sixth year." These observations strongly prove the
justness of our former remarks upon the renovation of the horns of the
stag.

In remarking on the Norwegian stags, Pontoppidan says, "they are only
in the dioceses of Bergen and Drontheim, and that they have been seen
to swim in numbers across the straits, from the continent to the
adjacent islands, resting their heads upon each other's cruppers, and
when those who lead are fatigued they retire behind, and the most
vigorous take their places."

Some attempts have been made to render our stags domestic, by treating
them with the same gentleness as the Laplanders do their rein-deer;
upon which subject M. le Vicomte de Querhoënt has informed me of the
following fact: "The Portuguese first brought stags to the Isle of
France, and although they took their origin from those of Europe, they
were small and their colour grey; there were great numbers of them upon
the island when the French took possession of it; they destroyed many
of them, but a great proportion secured themselves in the most retired
places; these by degrees have become quite domestic, and some of the
inhabitants keep them in large flocks."

There is a small kind of stag at l'Ecole Vétérinaire, which I have
seen, and which is said to have come from the Cape of Good Hope. It
was spotted with white, somewhat like the axis, and was called the hog
stag, merely, as it should seem, because its legs were shorter, and it
was not so agile as the common kind. The length of this from the muzzle
to the extremity of the body, was only three feet four inches; its legs
were short, and its feet and hoofs small; it was yellow with white
spots, black eyes, and black hair on the upper eyelid; the nostrils
were also black, as were the corners of the mouth; the head was nearly
of the same colour as the belly, and it had large ears, white on the in
and yellow on the outside. Its horns were above eleven inches long and
ten lines thick. Its back was dark brown, its tail was yellow above and
white beneath, and its legs were of a brownish black. From all which it
appears this animal approaches nearer to the species of the stag than
to the fallow-deer.

_Engraved for Barr's Buffon._

[Illustration: FIG. 56. _Female Fallow Deer._]

[Illustration: FIG. 57. _Fallow Deer._]

_Published Oct: 29, 1791 by I.S. Barr._


THE FALLOW-DEER.[F]

[F] In Greek [Greek: pròx]; in Latin _dama_; in French _le daim_; in
Italian _daino_; in Spanish _daino_; in German _damhirsch_; in Swedish
_dof_, _dovhjort_; in Polish _lanii_.

No two animals can make a more near approach to each other than the
stag and the fallow-deer, and yet no two animals keep more distinct,
or avoid each other with more fixed animosity; they never herd or
intermix together, and consequently never give rise to an intermediate
race. It is even rare, unless they have been transported thither, to
find fallow-deer in a country where stags are numerous. They seem to
be of a nature less robust and less rustic than the stag; are less
common in the forests, but are kept in parks, where it may be said
they are half domestic. They abound more in England than in any other
country in Europe; and there the people are extremely partial to their
venison. The dogs also prefer the flesh of this deer to that of all
other animals; and having once tasted it, they will quit the chase of
the stag or roe, when they come across the track of a fallow-deer.
There are some of them in the neighbourhood of Paris, in some provinces
of France, Spain, and Germany, as also in America, where probably they
have been carried from Europe. It seems to be an animal formed for a
temperate climate, for there are not any in Russia, and are rarely met
with in Sweden, or any other northern country. Stags are much more
generally diffused. They are found throughout Europe, even in Norway,
and over all the north, Lapland, perhaps, excepted; in Asia, especially
in Tartary, they are numerous, as well as in the northern provinces of
China. They are likewise found in America; for those of Canada differ
only from ours in the height of their horns, and in the direction of
their antlers, which is sometimes not straight forward, as in the heads
of the common stags, but turned backward by a very evident inflection;
but this form of the horns is not confined to the Canadian stag,
as it is nearly the same in the Corsican stags; and some that came
from Russia and Germany, have a kind of crown at the summit of their
antlers, but these are only varieties, and not different species. There
are large and small stags in America as well as in Europe, and yet,
however diffused their species may be, they seem to be confined to cold
and temperate climates. The stags of Mexico, and other parts of South
America; those of Cayenne; those called stags of the Ganges, which are
spoken of by M. Perault, under the name of the Sardinian hinds; those
to which travellers have given the appellation of Cape stags; those of
Guinea, and other warm countries, belong not to the common species, as
will appear from the particular history we shall give of each of those
animals.

As the fallow-deer is less savage, more delicate, and indeed more
domestic than the stag, he is also subject to a greater number of
varieties. Besides the common and white fallow-deer, we know of several
other kinds, as those of Spain, which are almost as large as stags,
but whose necks are more slender, their colour darker, their tails
black underneath, and longer than those of the common deer; those
of Virginia, which are almost as large as those of Spain, and are
remarkable for the size of their genital organs. There are others with
compressed foreheads, whose ears and tails are longer than those of the
common fallow-deer, and who have the hoofs of their hind legs marked
with a white spot; others are spotted or streaked with white, black, or
yellow, and there are others entirely black, all of which have their
horns more flat, broad, and are better furnished with antlers than
those of the stag, they likewise incline more inwardly, and are more
palmated at the points. Of the common fallow-deer the tail is longer
than that of the stag, and its hair is lighter. The horns of the buck,
like those of the stag, are shed every year, and are nearly the same
time in being renewed; but as this change happens later, so is their
rutting season, by from fifteen days to three weeks later than that
of the stag. They are neither so furious at this time, nor exhaust
themselves so much by the violence of their ardour: they never quit
their own pastures in search of the females, though they will dispute
and fight furiously for the possession of them. It often happens, that
when there is a great number in one park they will divide into two
parties and engage each other with much resolution: these contests
generally occur from a wish they both have of grazing upon some
particular spot. Each of these parties has its own chief, namely, the
oldest and strongest in the herd. These lead on to the engagement, and
the rest follow under their direction. Their combats are singular, from
the conduct by which their efforts seem to be regulated; they attack
with order, and support the assault with courage; mutually assist each
other, retire, rally, and never yield the victory upon a single defeat;
for the battle is daily renewed till the weakest party are quite
defeated, from which time they are obliged to retire to some secluded
part of the park, and be contented with the worst pasturage. They love
elevated and hilly countries. When hunted they do not fly far before
the hounds, like the stag, but study entirely how to escape from the
dogs by stratagem; when pressed and heated they will plunge into the
water, though it is very rare that they will take to a great river. In
the chace, therefore, between the fallow-deer and the stag, there is
no essential difference; their instincts and artifices are the same,
though more put into practice by the former; which, together with the
lightness of his step, render it more difficult for the dogs to avoid
being deceived.

The fallow-deer is easily tamed and feeds upon many things which the
stag refuses; he also preserves his venison better; nor does it appear
that the rutting, followed by a long and severe winter, exhausts him,
but he continues nearly in the same state throughout the year. He
browzes closer than the stag, for which reason he is more prejudicial
to young trees, and often strips them too close for recovery. The young
deer eat faster and with more avidity than the old. At the second year
they seek the female, and, like the stag, are fond of variety. The
doe goes with young eight months and some days; she commonly produces
one fawn, sometimes two, but very rarely three. They are capable of
engendering at the age of two years to that of fifteen or sixteen; and
in fine, they resemble the stag in all his natural habits, and the
greatest difference between them is the duration of their lives. From
the testimony of hunters it has been remarked that stags live to the
age of 35 or 40 years, and from the same authority we understand that
the fallow-deer does not live more than 20. As they are smaller than
the stag, it is probable that their growth is soon completed. In all
animals the duration of life is proportioned to that of the growth, and
not to that of gestation, for here the gestation is the same; and in
other species, as the ox, though the time of gestation be long, that of
the duration of life is very short; whence it follows that we ought not
to calculate the duration of life by the time of gestation, but by that
which Nature has required for perfecting the growth, reckoning from the
birth to the almost entire expansion of the body.


THE ROE-BUCK.[G]

[G] In French _chevreuil_; in Greek [Greek: dorchas]; in Latin
_capreolus_, _capriolus_; in Italian _capriolo_; in Spanish _zorlito_;
in Portuguese _cobra montes_; in German _rehe_; in Swedish _radiur_; in
Danish _raa diur_.

The stag, as being the noblest inhabitant of the wood, occupies
the most secret shades of the forest, and the elevated parts of
mountains, where the spreading branches form a lofty covert; while
the roe-deer, as if an inferior species, contents himself with a more
lowly residence, and is seldom found but among the thick foliage of
young trees. But if he is less noble, strong, and elevated in stature
than the stag, he has more grace, vivacity, and courage; and when the
fawns are attacked, he will defend them even against the stag himself.
He is more gay and active, his shape is more agreeable and elegant;
his eyes are more brilliant and animated; his limbs are more supple;
his movements quicker, and with equal vigour and agility he seems to
bound without effort. His hair is always clean, smooth, and glossy;
he never rolls in the mud like the stag; he frequents the dryest and
most elevated places, where the air is the most pure; he has also
more cunning and finesse; he is more difficult to chace, and derives
a greater number of resources from his instinct. Though he has the
disadvantage of leaving a stronger scent behind him than the stag,
which excites in the dogs a greater degree of ardour, he knows better
how to avoid their pursuit by a rapid flight and repeated doublings;
for he does not, like the stag, delay the application of art till his
strength begins to fail him; but even in the first instance, when he
finds his efforts of speed are not likely to save him, he immediately
begins to retrace his former steps, and continues going backwards and
forwards till, by his various windings, he has confounded the scent
and joined the last emanations to those of his former course; having
done which, by a great bound he withdraws to one side, lies flat upon
his belly, and suffers the whole pack to pass close by him without
attempting to move.

The roe-buck differs also from the stag in his natural appetites,
inclinations, and whole habits of living. Instead of herding together,
they live in separate families; the sire, dam, and young, form a little
community, and never admit a stranger into it. All other animals of
the deer kind are inconstant in their amours, but the roe-deer never
forsake each other. As the females generally produce two fawns, one
of each sex, they are brought up together, and acquire an attachment
so strong, that they never separate, unless by some misfortune. This
attachment is something more than love, for though they are always
together, they do not feel the ardour of the rut more than fifteen days
in the year, that is, from the end of October to about the middle of
November. They are not at that time like the stag, overloaded with fat;
they have no strong smell, no fury, nothing, in short, which alters
their state; the only observable difference is, that they drive away
their fawns; the buck forcing them off to make room, as it were, for a
succeeding progeny. When the rutting season is over, however, the fawns
return to their dams, and remain with them some time, after which they
quit them entirely to form separate families of their own.

The female goes with young five months and a half, and brings forth
about the end of April or beginning of May. The hinds, as already
observed, go more than eight, which is alone sufficient to prove their
difference of species, that they can never intermix, nor produce an
intermediate race. In this respect, as well as in figure and make,
they approach the species of the goat, as much as they recede from
that of the stag; for the goat goes with young nearly the same time,
and perhaps the roe-deer ought to be regarded as a wild goat, which,
by feeding solely on trees, carries branches on his brows instead of
horns. When about to bring forth, the female separates from the male,
and conceals herself in the deepest recesses of the woods, to avoid
the wolf, who is her most dangerous enemy. At the expiration of ten or
twelve days, the fawns attain sufficient strength to follow her. When
threatened with any danger, she hides them in some deep thicket, and by
way of preserving them presents herself to be chaced. But all her care
is not sufficient to secure them from being frequently carried off by
dogs and wolves. This is indeed their most critical time, when this
species, which is not very numerous, suffers the greatest destruction,
as I have found by experience. I often reside in a part of the country
(Montbard in Burgundy) famous for roe-bucks, and where not a spring
passes without a great number being brought me, some taken alive by
men, and others killed by dogs; insomuch that, without counting those
killed by wolves, I am convinced more are destroyed in the month of May
than in all the rest of the year; and I have observed, for more than
twenty-five years, that as if there subsisted a perfect equilibrium
between the causes of destruction and renovation, their number is
nearly the same in the same districts. It is not difficult to count
them, as they are no where very numerous, and keep together in separate
families, and distinct from that of any other. In a coppice, for
example, of 100 acres in circumference, there will be found one family,
or from three to five individuals, for the females will sometimes have
but one fawn, and at others three, but either case seldom happens; in
another district more extensive, there will be seven or eight, that is
two families; and I have remarked that in each district their numbers
have been uniform, excepting in those years when the winters have
been remarkably severe; in that case the whole family is destroyed,
but by the next year it is succeeded by another; and those districts
to which they give the preference are always stocked with nearly the
same quantity of them. Notwithstanding this, it is asserted, that this
species, upon the whole, is diminishing in number; and, indeed, it is
true, that there are provinces in France where not one of them is to be
found; that though common in Scotland there are none in England; very
few in Italy, and they are more scarce in Sweden than formerly, &c. But
these effects might arise from the diminution of forests, or from the
excessive rigour of some winters, like that of 1709, by which they were
almost all destroyed in Burgundy, and a number of years elapsed before
they were renewed. Besides they are not equally fond of every country,
and even in the same country they are partial to particular spots. They
love hilly grounds, and never remain in the deep recesses of extensive
forests, but prefer the skirts of those woods which are surrounded with
cultivated fields, and open coppices, where the brambles, buck-thorn,
&c., grow in plenty.

The fawns continue with the old ones eight or nine months, and soon
after separating their horns begin to appear, simple knobs without
antlers; these they shed at the latter end of autumn, and have them
renewed during the winter; differing in this from the stag, who
sheds them in spring, and renews them in the summer. Several causes
contribute to produce these different effects. In summer, the stag
takes a great quantity of nourishment, and grows very fat; in the
rutting season he exhausts himself so much that the whole winter is
not more than sufficient to effect his recovery. At this time, so far
from there being a superabundance of nourishment, he experiences an
absolute scarcity, and of coarse his horns cannot sprout till spring,
when his nourishment is again superabundant. The roe-buck, on the
contrary, who never exhausts himself so much, has less occasion for
repair; and as he is never incumbered with fat, nor any change is made
in him during the time of the rut, being always nearly the same, so he
has, at all times, the same superfluity; so that even in winter, and
soon after the rut, he sheds and renews his horns; and it appears that
these productions, which may be termed vegetable ones, are formed of an
organic and superfluous matter, though still imperfect, and mixed with
inanimate particles; since in their growth and substance they preserve
the vegetable qualities whereas the seminal fluid, whose production
is not so early, is a matter altogether organic, divested of inanimate
particles, and assimilated to the body of the animal. When the roe-buck
has completely repaired his horns, he rubs them against the trees in
the same manner as the stag, in order to strip them of the skin with
which they are covered: and this he generally does about March, before
the trees begin to shoot; hence it is not the sap of the wood which
tinges the horns of the buck; yet they are brown in those that have
brown hair, and yellow when the animal is red, consequently the colour
of the horns arises solely, as has already been remarked, from the
nature of the animal, and the impression of the air. The second horns
of the roe-buck have generally two or three antlers on each side; the
third have three or four; the fourth, five; and they seldom have more;
and the old ones are distinguished by the thickness of their stems.
While their horns are soft they are extremely sensible of pain. Of this
I witnessed a striking proof. With a ball from a gun the young shoot of
a roe-buck's horn was taken clear off, and by which he was so stunned
that he fell down as if he were dead; the shooter, who was near, seized
him by the foot, but the animal suddenly recovering his strength and
feeling, dragged the man, though very strong and vigorous, above thirty
paces, till he dispatched him with a hanger; it was then found that
he had received no other wound than that of the hanger, and what the
ball had made in striking the horn. It is also well known that flies
are intolerable tormentors to the stag; while his horns are growing,
he withdraws to the thickest covert of the wood, where the flies least
frequent, because the irritation is insupportable when they fix upon
the tender horns. Thus there is an intimate communication between the
soft part of this living wood, and the whole nervous system of the
animal. The roe-buck, who has nothing to fear from these enemies, as
he renews his horns in the winter, does not retire in this manner, but
he walks with caution, and holds his head low for fear of striking it
against the branches. In the stag, fallow-deer, and roe-buck, there are
two bony eminences on which their horns grow; these begin to shoot at
the end of five or six months, and soon arrive at their full growth;
instead of enlarging as the animal advances in age, they diminish every
year, and are the most certain marks for distinguishing the age of all
the species. I think it is easy to account for this effect, which at
first appears so singular, but which ceases to be so when we reflect,
that the horns which grow upon this eminence must press upon it during
the whole time of their growth, which is for several months in the
year; therefore, however hard they may be they must continually lower
and contract by the compression which is reiterated every time the
roe-buck repairs his horns. This is likewise the reason that, though
the trunk continues to increase in thickness as the animal advances in
years, yet the height of the horns, and number of branches, diminish so
much, that when he arrives at a great age there remain only two large
prickets, or fantastic and ill-shaped knobs.

As the female goes only five months and a half with young, and as the
growth of the fawn is more rapid than that of the young stag, so is his
life much shorter; and I do not believe it ever extends beyond twelve
or fifteen years. I have reared several, but could never keep any above
five or six years. They are very delicate in choosing their food,
require much air, exercise, and space to range in, which is the reason
they cannot sustain the inconveniences of a domestic life, but in their
younger years; for a roe-buck to live at his ease and comfortable, he
must be supplied with a female and a park of at least an hundred acres
to range in. They may be tamed, but can never be rendered obedient
or familiar; they always retain somewhat of their wild nature, are
easily terrified, and will then run against a wall with such force as
sometimes to break their legs. However tame they may be, they are not
to be trusted, for the bucks are apt to adopt many caprices; they will
take an aversion to particular persons, and run at them with their
horns with a force sufficient to knock a man down, and having done so,
they will continue to trample on him with their feet. The roe-buck does
not cry so frequently, nor with so strong a voice as the stag. The
young ones have a short and plaintive cry, their note being _mi, mi_;
which they generally use when they are in want of food. This note is
easily imitated, and by using it the dams may be brought to the very
muzzle of the hunter's gun.

The roe-bucks remain in winter in the thickest coppices and feed on
briars, broom, heath, &c. In spring they repair to the more open
brush-wood, and browze upon the buds and young leaves of almost every
tree: this warm food, fermenting in their stomachs, inebriate them
to such a degree that they are then easily surprised; for they know
not whither they go; frequently come out of the woods, will approach
flocks of cattle, and even the habitations of men. In summer they
inhabit the more lofty coppices, from which they seldom issue, except
in extreme heats to drink at some cool fountain; for when the dew lies
in quantities, or the leaves are moistened with rain, they never drink.
They select the choicest kinds of aliment, being extremely delicate in
their eating, neither feeding with the same indifference nor avidity as
the stag, and seldom approaching cultivated ground. The flesh of these
animals is excellent food, yet there is much distinction to be made in
the choice of the venison. The quality depends greatly upon the country
in which they have lived; although in the most plentiful, both good and
bad are to be found. The flesh of the brown roe-buck is more delicate
than that of the red: that of those which have passed the second year
is tough and ill-tasted, while that of the females, though further
advanced in years, is more tender. Those which are bred in plains and
valleys are not good; those from moist lands still worse; there is
but little taste in those reared in parks, and, in a word, there are
no good roe-bucks but those which have inhabited dry and elevated
countries, interspersed with little hills, woods, arable lands and
streams, where they have a sufficiency of good air, food, freedom, and
above all, solitude; for such as have been often disturbed are thin,
and the flesh of those which have been frequently hunted previously, is
tasteless and insipid.

This species, which is not so numerous as that of the stag, and seldom
found in many parts of Europe, is much more abundant in America,
where there are but two sorts; the red, which are large, and a brown
one considerably smaller, which has a white spot behind; and as they
are found both in the northern and southern parts of America, it is
probable that they differ more from each other than from those in
Europe. In Louisiana[H] they are extremely common, and are larger than
those in France. They are also found in Brasil; for the animal which
is there called _Cujuacu-apara_, differs not more from the European
roe-buck, than the Canadian stag from ours. There is only some little
variation in the form of the horns. "In Brasil, says Piso, there are
two sorts of the roe-buck, one of which has no horns, and is called
the _Cujuacu-été_, and the other is furnished with horns, and is called
_Cujuacu-apara_. The horned ones are much less than the others; their
hair is smooth, glossy, and a mixture of brown and white, when they
are young, but the white is lost as they advance in years. The hoof is
divided into two black toes, upon each of which there appears to be
grafted another and smaller one; the tail is short, the eyes large and
black, the nostrils open, the horns are of a middling size, and fall
off annually. The females go five or six months with their young;" and
another author adds, "that their horns are divided into three branches,
and that the lowest branch is the longest, and divides into two." We
may fairly conclude from the above descriptions, that the _apara_ is
a variety of the species of the roe-buck; and Ray supposes that the
_Cujuacu-été_ and the _Cujuacu-apara_ are both of the same species,
and that one is the male and the other the female. I should acquiesce
in this opinion, if Piso had not expressly stated, that those which
have horns are smaller than the others; for it does not appear probable
that the females should be so much larger than the males, when in every
other place the contrary is the case. At the same time, although the
_Cujuacu-apara_ may be nothing more than a variety of our roe-buck, to
which the _capreolus marinus_ of Johnson may be added, I cannot pretend
to determine with respect to the _Cujuacu-été_, at least until we have
received more certain information.

[H] They make great use of the flesh of the roe-buck in Louisiana; it
is larger here than in Europe, and has horns like the stag, but differs
from it in its hair and colour; the inhabitants use it the same as
other people do mutton.


SUPPLEMENT.

In my original work I remarked, that wild animals were generally
either white, brown, or grey; and that such as fallow-deer, rabbits,
&c. became white, from being kept in a domestic state, but M. l'Abbé
de la Viletta, in a letter dated June 17, 1773, informs me, that they
are sometimes so in their natural state; for a man belonging to his
brother, who had an estate near Orgelet, in Franche-comté, brought home
two old roe-deers, one of which was of the common colour, and the other
a female perfectly white, having only black hoofs, and a black spot at
the end of her nose.

M. de Fontenelle, the king's physician, at New Orleans, in a letter
to me, says, that roe-bucks are very common in North America, that
they entirely resemble those of Europe, except being somewhat larger,
particularly in Louisiana, where he thinks they are nearly as big again
as those in France. He says they are very easily tamed, as does M.
Kalm, who asserts, that he had a roe-buck which went every day to the
woods, and returned to his house regularly every night. According to M.
de la Borde, there are four kinds of stags at Cayenne, indiscriminately
called hinds, whether males or females. "The first are called wood, or
red hinds, which constantly inhabit the thickest part of the forests.
The second, which are bigger, though of the same colour, are called
the barallou hind; both of these species have two considerable glands
on each side of the nostrils, containing a white foetid humour. The
third is called the Savanna hind, which is of a grey colour, and more
common than either of the others; neither are they so large, though
their horns are longer and more branched: they are called Savanna
hinds, because they seek out the lands covered with marshes; they feed
upon the manioc, and are very destructive to plantations. Their flesh
is excellent food, and far preferable to that of European stags. They
are so tame at Cayenne, that they run about the streets, and go in and
out of town without discovering the smallest degree of apprehension.
The females are said even to go into the woods after wild males, and to
return again when they have got fawns. The last is called the caricou;
he is less than either of the others, his colour is a light grey, and
his horns are straight and pointed. He keeps himself entirely to large
woods, and never ventures near parts that are inhabited; they are,
nevertheless, very easily rendered tame and familiar; and the females
produce but one fawn at a time." Notwithstanding the stress which has
been laid upon these remarks, I am of opinion, that all these pretended
species of stags or hinds, as above described, are merely varieties
of the roe-buck, which are more numerous in the new than in the old
continent, and which I apprehend will fully appear to such as compare
those descriptions with our history of the mazame, or Mexican deer.


THE HARE.[I]

[I] In French _le lievre_; in Greek [Greek: lagôs]; in Latin _lepus_;
in Italian _lepre_; Spanish _liebre_; Portuguese _lebre_; German
_hase_; Swedish _hare_; Dutch _hase_; Polish _lajonz_.

The species of animals which are most numerous are not the most
useful. Nothing can be more noxious than the multitudes of rats, mice,
locusts, caterpillars, and many other insects, of which it would seem
that Nature rather admitted than ordained the extraordinary increase.
But those of the hare and rabbit are advantageous to us both from
the number and utility. Hares are abundantly spread over the face
of the earth; and rabbits, though originally natives of particular
climates, multiply so prodigiously in almost every place to which they
are transported, that instead of being extirpated, no small art is
required in order to diminish their too-often inconvenient number. When
we reflect on the astonishing fecundity of each particular species,
on the quick and prodigious multiplication of certain animals which
come into existence, as it were, to desolate the fields and ravage the
earth, we are astonished they do not oppress Nature with their numbers,
and after having devoured her productions become themselves victims to
the destruction they have made. We cannot view without terror those
thick clouds, those winged phalanxes of famished insects which seem to
menace the whole globe, and whether lighting on the fruitful plains
of Egypt, or of India, in an instant destroy the labours and hopes of
a whole people; and sparing neither grain, fruit, herbs, nor leaves,
strip the earth of its verdue, and change the richest countries into
barren desarts. We behold rats descending from the northern mountains,
in innumerable multitudes, rushing like a deluge of living matter,
overflow the plains, spread themselves over the southern provinces,
and after having destroyed in their passage every thing that lives, or
vegetates, finish their career with infecting the earth and air with
their putrid carcasses. We behold in the southern regions myriads of
ants issuing from the desarts, which, like an exhaustless torrent,
arrive in thick and successive columns, take possession of every spot,
drive away men and animals from their habitations, and never retire
till they have caused a general devastation. And in those times when
man himself was but half civilized, and subject to all the laws and
even excesses of Nature, were there not similar inundations of the
human species? Have there not been Normans, Huns, and Goths, whole
nations, or rather tribes of animals bearing the human form without
dwellings, and without distinction, who have suddenly rushed from their
caves, and marched in tumultuous herds, and without any force but what
consists in numbers, overthrown empires, destroyed nations, and having
ransacked the earth, concluded by repeopling it with a race not less
barbarous than themselves?

These æras, these great events, though so strongly marked in the
History of Mankind, are yet only slight vicissitudes in the ordinary
course of animated nature, which is in general always uniform and the
same; its movements are regulated by two unchangeable wheels; the
one, unbounded fecundity of every species; the other, the innumerable
causes of destruction which are perpetually reducing the produce of
that fecundity to a determinate measure, so as to preserve nearly the
same number of individuals in each species. And as these multitudinous
animals, which appear suddenly, disappear in the same manner, without
augmenting their race, so does the human species always remain the
same; the variations only are more slow, because the life of man being
longer than that of small animals, the alternate changes of increase
and diminution must necessarily require a greater portion of time.
But time itself is only an instant in the succession of ages, and
only strikes us the more forcibly, from having been accompanied with
horror and destruction; for, taking all the inhabitants of the globe
together, the number of the human race, like that of other animals,
will, at all times, appear to be nearly the same; as this depends
entirely upon an equilibrium of physical causes, an equilibrium to
which every thing has long been reduced, and which neither the efforts
of man, nor any moral circumstances whatever, can dissolve; those
circumstances themselves being dependant on physical causes. Whatever
care man may bestow on his own species, he will never be able to render
it more numerous in one place without destroying or diminishing it in
another[J]. As soon as any one country is overstocked with inhabitants
they diffuse themselves over other countries, or destroy each other,
and not unfrequently establish laws and customs calculated to prevent
an excess of multiplication. In climates of exuberant fertility, as
China, Egypt, and Guinea, they banish, mutilate, drown, or sell their
infants; in Catholic countries they condemn them to perpetual celibacy.
Those who actually exist find no difficulty in arrogating to themselves
the disposal of the rights of those who have no existence. Considering
themselves as necessary, they annihilate contingent beings, and scruple
not to suppress future generations for their own ease and convenience.
Mankind, without perceiving it, treat their own species exactly in the
same manner as they do other animals; they cherish and multiply, or
neglect and destroy them, according as it suits their purpose; and as
all moral effects depend upon physical causes, which ever since the
earth assumed its form, are fixed and permanent, it follows that in
the human, as well as in the other animal species, the number must
likewise be uniform and unalterable. It is to be observed that this
fixed state, this permanent number, are not to be considered in an
absolute sense; all physical and moral causes, and all the effects
which flow from them, are comprised and balanced within certain
limits, more or less extended, but never so large as to destroy the
equilibrium. As the whole universe is in a state of perpetual motion,
and as all the forces of matter act against and counter-balance each
other, so every thing is brought about in a kind of oscillation, to
the middle points of which we refer the ordinary course of Nature, and
whose extremes are the furthest removed from that course. In effect,
therefore, we find that an excess of fecundity, either in animals or
vegetables, is the usual fore-runner of sterility. Plenty and scarcity
present themselves so alternately, and often follow so close upon
each other, that a tolerable judgment may be formed of the product of
one year by that of the preceding. The apple, plum, oak, beech, and
indeed most fruit and forest trees, do not bear plentifully two years
together. So likewise it is with caterpillars, May-bugs, flies, field
mice, and many other animals, who if they multiply to excess one year,
they will produce but a very small number the next. What, indeed, would
become of all the fruits of the earth, of the most useful animals,
or even of man himself, if these insects were to be proportionally
increased after a fertile season? But no; the causes of destruction
and sterility immediately follow those of an excessive multiplication.
Independent of contagion, a necessary consequence of too great a mass
of living matter assembled in one place, there are in every species,
certain causes of death, as we shall hereafter have occasion to
mention, and which are sufficient to counter-balance any preceding
excess of fecundity. I must again observe that this is not to be taken
in an absolute or strict sense, especially with respect to those
species which do not remain entirely in a state of nature. Those which
man takes care to rear are more abundant than they otherwise would be;
but as his attention has its limits, so the increase which flows from
it has long since been confined by unalterable bounds; and though in
civilized countries, the human species and domestic animals, are more
numerous than in other climates, they are never so to excess; because
the very power which calls them into existence, destroys them when they
become troublesome.

[J] We were at first inclined to combat this position of our learned
author, with those reasons, founded upon facts, which may be adduced
against it; but he has himself so completely replied to it at the end
of his dissertation upon wild animals, page 26 of this volume, that any
thing further than repeating his own observation must be unnecessary;
for he there says, that, "in _process of time, we may reasonably
suppose the surface of the earth will be equally inhabited_," which is
surely impossible without considerable increase.

In those districts which are reserved for the chace, four or five
hundred hares are sometimes killed in the course of one day's sport.
These animals multiply amazingly; they engender at all seasons, and
are in a condition to propagate before the first year of their life is
expired. The females do not go with young above thirty or thirty-one
days; they produce three or four, and are immediately after ready
to receive the male; they likewise receive him during the time of
gestation, and by a particular formation of their organs are often
found to have a super-foetation; for the vagina and the matrix are
continuous, and the latter has neither neck or orifice in the womb, as
in other animals; yet each horn has an orifice which opens into the
vagina and dilates during the time of bringing forth; and which forming
two distinct uteri, act independently of each other; so that the
females of this species are capable of conceiving and bringing forth by
each matrix at different times; and consequently super-foetation must
be as common among these animals, as it is rare among those which have
not this double organ. It is plain, therefore, that the females may be
impregnated at all times. By another singularity in their conformation
they are found to be as lascivious as they are fruitful; the gland of
the clitoris is prominent and almost as large as the sexual distinction
of the male; and as the vulva is hardly visible, and the males when
young have no exterior marks, it is often difficult to distinguish the
sexes. It is these circumstances which have given rise to the opinions
that there are many hermaphrodites among these animals, that the males
sometimes bring forth, and that some are alternately males and females,
and perform the office of either sex; because the females being more
lascivious than the males will get upon them, and because they so much
resemble each other externally, that unless very closely examined one
sex may be mistaken for the other.

The young ones have their eyes open when brought forth; the mother
suckles them about twenty days, after which they separate and provide
for themselves; they do not wander far from each other, nor from the
place of their birth; yet they live in solitude, each composing itself
a form at the distance of sixty or eighty paces; thus when we find a
leveret in any place, we are almost certain of finding one or two more
in the neighbourhood. They feed more by night than day; and chiefly
upon herbs, leaves, fruits, and grain, but above all they prefer those
plants which yield a milky juice; they even eat the bark of trees in
winter, except that of the alder and lime, neither of which they ever
touch. When reared at home they are fed with lettuces and other herbs;
but the flesh of these domestic fed hares has always a bad taste.
They sleep and repose themselves in their forms during the day, and
only live, as it were, in the night, when they range about, feed, and
copulate; they may be seen by moonlight playing, leaping, and pursuing
each other, but the smallest noise, even the rustling of a falling
leaf is sufficient to alarm them; they fly, and in their flight take
different ways.

Some authors have asserted that hares chew the cud; but I cannot
believe this opinion to be well founded, as they have but one stomach,
and the conformation of that, as well as the other intestines is
altogether different in ruminating animals. The coecum of the latter is
small, while those of hares are extremely large; and if we add to the
capacity of the stomach this large coecum, we shall easily conceive,
that being capable of receiving a great quantity of food, this animal
may live upon herbage alone, like the horse and the ass, which have
also a large coecum and but one stomach, and consequently cannot
ruminate.

Hares sleep much, but always with their eyes open. They have neither
eye-lids, nor cilia, and seem to have bad eyes; but as if for a
recompence of that defect, their hearing is exceedingly acute, and
their ears are very large in proportion to the size of their bodies.
They move these long ears with great facility, and use them as an helm
to direct their course, which is so rapid that they easily outstrip all
other animals. Their fore legs being much shorter than their hind ones
they can more easily mount than descend, for which reason when pursued
they always make towards the rising grounds. Their running is a kind
of leaping gallop, and they proceed without making the smallest noise,
as their feet, even underneath, are covered with hair, and perhaps
they are the only animals which have hair growing within side of their
mouths. The hare does not live above seven or eight years; he completes
his growth in one, and the duration of its life is proportioned to
this period, for he lives to about seven times that space. Some indeed
assert that the males live longer than the females, but that I much
doubt. They pass their lives in solitude and silence, and never exert
their voices but when seized or wounded; their cry is sharp and strong,
and not unlike the human voice. They are not so savage as by their
habits and manners might be supposed; they are gentle, and susceptible
of a species of improvement. They are easily tamed, but never acquire
that degree of attachment which is requisite to render them domestic,
for those which are taken very young, and brought up in a house, will
take the first opportunity to escape and fly into the country. As they
have a good ear, as they sit of their own accord upon their hind legs,
and use the fore legs like arms, some have been so tutored as to beat a
drum, to perform gestures in cadence, &c.

In general the hare possesses sufficient instinct for its preservation,
and sagacity to escape its enemies. It prepares itself a form, or nest;
in winter he chuses a spot exposed to the south, and in summer one to
the north. To conceal himself from view he hides among hillocks of
the same colour with his own hair. "I have seen," says du Fouilloux,
"a hare so cunning, that upon hearing the huntsman's horn he started
from his form, and though at the distance of a quarter of a league,
hasted to a pond, and there hid himself among the rushes in the middle
of it, and thus escaped the pursuit of the dogs. I have seen a hare,
which after running more than two hours before the dogs, has dislodged
another, and took possession of his form. I have seen others, swim over
two or three ponds, of which the smallest was not less than eighty
paces broad. I have seen others, after a chace of two hours, enter
a sheep cot, and remain among the cattle. I have seen others, when
closely pursued, take refuge among a flock of sheep, from which they
would not be separated. I have seen others, upon hearing the noise of
the hounds, conceal themselves in the earth. I have seen others, which
have gone along one side of the hedge, and returned by the other, so
that there was only the thickness of the hedge between them and the
dogs; and I have seen others, after a chace of half an hour, mount an
old wall six feet high, and take refuge in a hole covered with ivy."
But these facts are doubtless the greatest efforts of their instinct,
for their common resources are less refined and intricate. They, in
general, when pursued, content themselves with running rapidly, and
afterwards tracing and retracing their own steps. They never direct
their course against the wind, but always run with it. The females
do not run so far out as the males, but they double more frequently.
Hares, in general, if hunted upon their native spot, do not remove
a great way from it, but return to their form, and if chaced for two
successive days, they make exactly the same doublings on the second as
they did on the first. If a hare runs straight forward, and to a great
distance, it is a proof of his being a stranger to that spot, and that
he was only there by accident. This generally happens during their most
particular times of rutting, which are in January, February, and March,
when the male hares finding but few females in their own districts,
will roam for several leagues in search of them; but immediately upon
being roused by the dogs, they make towards their native abodes,
and never return again. The females do not thus go abroad; they are
larger than the males, but have less strength and agility, and are
more timid, for they never allow the dogs to come so near their forms
as the males, and make use of more doublings and artifice. They are
also more delicate, and more susceptible of the impressions of the
air; they dread the water, and even avoid the dews; whereas among the
males there is a kind which are fond of water, and are chaced in marshy
and watery grounds, but the flesh of this sort has a very bad taste;
and, in general, the flesh of all those which inhabit low valleys is
whitish and insipid, while those in elevated countries, where the wild
thyme, and other fine herbs abound, are delicious to the palate. It has
also been remarked, that those which live in the centre of the woods,
even in the same countries, are not so good as those that inhabit the
borders, or live among the cultivated fields and vineyards; and that
the flesh of the female is always more delicate than that of the male.

The nature of the soil has a great influence on hares, as well as on
all other animals. The hares of the mountains are larger and fatter
than those of the plains, and are also of a different colour, the
former being browner, and having more white under the neck than the
latter which are inclined to red. On high mountains, and in northern
countries, they become white in winter, and recover their ordinary
colour in the summer; there are but a few, and those perhaps very old
ones, that continue always white, for all of them change more or less
white as they advance in years.

The hares of Italy, Spain, Barbary, and other warm climates, are
smaller than those of France and more northern nations; and according
to Aristotle they were of a less size in Egypt than in Greece. They
are exceedingly plentiful in Sweden, Poland, France, England, Germany,
Barbary, Egypt, the Islands of the Archipelago, particularly Delos,
which was formerly called Lagia, from the number of hares found in it.
They are also plenty in Lapland, where they continue white for the
whole ten months of the winter, and resume their yellow colour during
the two months of the summer only. It appears then that all climates
are nearly equal to them. However it is observed that they are less
numerous in the eastern countries than in Europe; that there are
scarcely any in South America, though they are numerous in Virginia,
Canada, and even in the land that borders on Hudson's Bay, and in
the Straits of Magellan. But these North American hares are perhaps
of a different species from ours, for travellers tell us, that they
are not only larger but that their flesh is white, and has a very
different taste to that of the European hares. They add, that in North
America these animals never shed their hair, and that their skins make
excellent furs. In countries of excessive heat, as Senegal, Gambia, and
particularly in the districts of Fida, Apam, and Acra, and in other
countries situated under the torrid zone in Africa, and America, as
New Holland, and the isthmus of Panama, there are also animals which
travellers have taken for hares, but which seem rather to be a species
of rabbit, which comes originally from the hot countries, and is never
found very far to the north; whereas the hare is always fatter in
proportion to the coldness of the country which he inhabits.

The flesh of this animal, though so much esteemed at the tables of
Europeans, is not at all relished by the eastern nations. It is true
that the flesh of the hare, as well as that of the hog, was forbidden
as food by the law of Mahomet and the ancient Jewish law; but the
Greeks and Romans held it in as great estimation as we do, "Inter
quadrupedes gloria prima lepus," says Martial. In fact, both the flesh
and the blood of this animal is excellent; but the fat adds nothing to
the delicacy of the flesh; for the hare, when at its liberty in the
open country, never grows fat; whereas he often dies with the excess of
it when reared in a house.

The chace of the hare is an amusement, nay often the principal
occupation of people in the country. As it requires but little
apparatus and expence, and is even useful, it is an amusement
universally agreeable. The hunter in the mornings and evenings watches
at the corner of some wood for the hares going out or returning; and
in the day he seeks to dislodge them from their form. When the air is
fresh and the sun shines bright, a hare, which has been chaced, may be
discovered on its form by the fumes which arise from its body; and I
have seen some so expert in this observation that they have gone half
a league to kill a hare on its seat. This animal will suffer itself to
be very nearly approached, especially if the advance is made with a
seeming inattention and obliquity. They are more afraid of dogs than
men, and upon either smelling or hearing the former will immediately
take to flight; though they run swifter than the dogs, yet as they
do not take a direct course, but turn and double round the spot from
whence they were started, the greyhound, who rather hunts by sight than
smell, generally intercepts, seizes, and destroys them. They remain in
the fields during the summer, in autumn among the vines, and in winter
among the bushes or in the woods, and in all seasons they may be forced
to the chace with proper hounds. They may be also taken by birds of
prey. Owls, buzzards, eagles, foxes, wolves, and men, make continual
war upon them. These animals have so many enemies, that they escape
them only by chance, and are seldom allowed to enjoy that short life
which Nature has allotted to them.


SUPPLEMENT.

From M. Hettlinger I understand, that the hares not uncommonly burrow
in the clefts of the rocks among the mountains in the neighbourhood
of Biagory, which is contrary to their practice in those climates,
where they make forms and leave going underground to rabbits; that the
former are not partial to those places where the latter are numerous,
is pretty generally known; to which Pontoppidan has added the remark,
that rabbits do not multiply where hares are in abundance; he says, "In
Norway, rabbits are seldom met with, but hares are very numerous; they
are either brown or grey, during summer, and constantly change to white
in the winter; they catch mice and eat them, like cats, and are smaller
than those found in Denmark." Whatever truth there may be in the other
parts of his relation, their eating of mice is highly improbable, but
it is not the only instance of his partiality for the marvellous.

M. le Vicomte de Querhoënt, in speaking of the hares of the Isle of
France, says they are not bigger than the rabbits of France; that their
hair is smoother, that they have a large black spot upon the hind part
of their heads, and that their flesh is very white; and M. Adamson
gives nearly a similar description of those of Senegal, excepting the
black spot upon their necks.

_Engraved for Barr's Buffon._

[Illustration: Fig. 58. _Roe-buck._]

[Illustration: Fig. 59. _Female._]


THE RABBIT.

Although the hare (_fig. 58._) and the rabbit (_fig. 59._) are so
very similar both in their external and internal conformation, yet
they never intermix, but form two distinct and separate species. As
hunters, however, have asserted that the male hares, in rutting time,
run after and cover female rabbits, I have endeavoured to discover what
would be the result of such a union. For this purpose I caused some
male hares to be reared with some doe rabbits; and some male rabbits
with doe hares, but these attempts were attended with no other effects
than convincing me, that though these animals are so similar in form,
they are so different in nature as to be incapable of producing an
intermediate race. One young hare, and a young female rabbit of nearly
the same age, did not live together three months; for, having acquired
a little strength, they became dreadful enemies, and their continual
battles terminated in the death of the hare. Of two male hares, each
of which I confined with a doe rabbit, one shared the same fate, and
the other, being very strong and ardent, never ceased from tormenting
the rabbit, by endeavouring to cover her, and in the end occasioned
her death, either by the wounds he gave her, or by his too violent
caresses. Three or four doe hares, whom I matched with male rabbits,
experienced the same fate, though in a still shorter time. Though
there was never any produce, yet I am pretty certain that a copulation
sometimes took place; at least that, notwithstanding the resistance
of the female, the male was gratified: and there was more reason to
expect a produce from this union, than that of the rabbit and hen; of
which, according to a certain author[K], the fruit would be, _chickens
covered with hair, or rabbits covered with feathers_! This strange
conclusion was drawn from the act of a vicious male rabbit, who being
unaccommodated with a female, made use of a hen as he might have done
any other moveable: nor was there the least probability to expect any
product from two animals whose species were so distant, since nothing
results from an union between the hare and rabbit, which seem so nearly
to approach each other.

[K] See a French Tract entitled, L'Art d'Elever les Poulets.

The fecundity of the rabbit is even greater than that of the hare;
and without crediting Wotton's assertion, that a single pair being
left upon an island, multiplied to six thousand at the end of a year;
it is certain that they increase so prodigiously, in countries which
are proper for their breed, that the earth cannot supply them with
sufficient subsistence. They destroy herbs, roots, grains, fruits, and
even young trees and shrubs; and if it were not for dogs and ferrets,
they would reduce the country to a desart. The rabbit not only produces
more frequently and in greater numbers than the hare, but it has more
ways to escape its enemies, and to avoid the sight of man. The holes
which it digs in the earth, where it retires in the day, and where it
brings forth its young, protect it from the wolf, fox, and birds of
prey. Here the whole family live in perfect security; here the females
nourish their young, for the space of two months, nor ever conduct them
abroad until they have sufficient strength to provide for themselves.
By this means they avoid the dangers of their early age; while hares,
on the contrary, are destroyed in greater numbers at this period,
than during all the rest of their lives. This circumstance alone may
suffice to prove that the rabbit is superior to the hare in point of
sagacity. They are alike in their conformation, and have equal power to
dig retreats. Both are equally timid; but the one, possessed of less
art, is contented with forming a residence on the surface of the earth,
where it remains continually exposed, while the other, by a superior
instinct, digs into the earth, and secures itself an asylum; and as a
proof this is the effect of sentiment, we never see the domestic rabbit
taking that trouble. They neglect securing themselves retreats, from
the same reason that domestic birds neglect the building of nests,
because they are equally protected from the inconveniences which both
species in their natural state must necessarily have been liable to.
It has been often remarked, that when a warren is replenished with
domestic rabbits they and their produce remain upon the surface, like
hares; and that it is not until they have experienced a number of
hardships, and passed several generations, they begin to dig holes in
the earth for an asylum.

The domestic rabbits, like all other domestic animals, vary in colour;
white, black, spotted, and grey, are, however, the only colours which
properly belong to Nature. The black rabbits are the most scarce. The
wild rabbits are all of a greyish brown, which is also the predominant
colour among the tame ones; for in every litter we constantly find
brown rabbits, even though the old ones were both black or both white,
or the one white and the other black. It is seldom that more than one
or two will resemble such parents, whereas the brown rabbits, though
domestic, seldom produce any but of their own colour, and it is, as it
were, by chance, if they bring forth white, black, or mixed ones.

These animals are capable of engendering by the age of five or six
months. It is asserted they are constant in their amours, and that they
usually attach themselves to a female which they never forsake. The
latter is always ready to receive the male; she goes with young 30 or
31 days, and brings forth from 4 to 8 at a time. Like the doe hare
she has a double matrix, and consequently may produce at two different
times. It appears, however, that super-foetations are less frequent
in this species than in that of the hare, which is perhaps owing to
the females being more constant, and because they copulate less out
of season. A few days before bringing forth they dig a fresh burrow,
not in a straight line, but in a crooked direction, at the bottom of
which they make an excavation; after which they tear a quantity of
hair from off their bellies, and with it make a bed for their little
ones. For the first two days they never quit them; they never stir
abroad but when forced by hunger, and then return as soon as they have
satisfied their appetite, which they do amazingly quick. Thus they tend
and suckle their young for more than six weeks, during which time the
buck has no knowledge of them, for he never enters the burrow dug by
the doe; and she frequently, when she leaves her little ones, stops up
the entrance to it with earth saturated with her own urine. But when
they begin to come to the mouth of the hole, and to eat groundsel, and
other herbs, which the mother picks out, he then begins to know them;
he takes them between his paws, endeavours to smooth their hair, and
licks their eyes. Each, in succession, partakes equally of his cares;
at which time the mother bestows many caresses upon him, and generally
proves with young a few days after.

From a gentleman in my neighbourhood, who had amused himself many years
in rearing rabbits, I received the following remarks; "I began," says
he, "with only one male and one female; the former perfectly white,
and the latter brown. Of their produce, which was very numerous, the
greatest part was brown, many of them white and mixed, and some few
black. When the female is in season the male scarcely ever leaves her;
his temperament is so warm that I have seen him go with her five or six
times within the hour. At this time the female lies on her belly, with
her fore legs stretched out, and utters little cries, which seem rather
to be tokens of pleasure than pain. Their manner of coupling is similar
to that of the cat, only the male scarcely bites the neck of the
female. These animals pay great respect to parental authority, at least
I judge so from the great deference which all my rabbits shewed for
their first ancestor, whom I could easily distinguish by his whiteness,
being the only male that I preserved of that colour. The family very
soon augmented, but even those which had become fathers were still
subordinate to him. Whenever they fought, whether for females or
food, their great progenitor would run to the place of dispute, and
as soon as he was perceived order would be immediately restored. If
he surprised them in the act of assaulting each other, he would first
separate and then chastise them on the spot. Another proof I had of his
dominion over his posterity was, that having accustomed them to retire
into their place upon the blowing of a whistle, whenever I gave the
signal, how distant soever they might be, this old one put himself at
their head, and though he came first he made them all pass before, nor
would he enter till last himself. I fed them with wheat, bran, hay, and
a good deal of the juniper-tree; of this last they ate all the berries,
the leaves and the bark, and left nothing but the hard wood. This food
gave their flesh an agreeable flavour, and rendered it as good as that
of the wild rabbits."

_Engraved for Barr's Buffon._

[Illustration: FIG. 60. _Hares Male and Female._]

[Illustration: FIG. 61. _Rabbits Domestic and Wild._]

These animals live eight or nine years; and as they pass the greater
part of their lives in burrows, where they remain in repose and
tranquillity, they grow much fatter than hares. Their flesh is also
very different, both in colour and taste. That of the young rabbit
is very delicate, but the flesh of the old ones is always hard and
dry. They were originally, as I have already observed, natives of hot
climates. They were known to the Greeks; and it appears that the only
countries in Europe where they anciently existed were Greece and Spain.
From thence they were brought into the more temperate climates of
Italy, France, England, and Germany, where now they are naturalized;
but in colder climates, as Sweden, and other northern parts, they
can scarcely be reared in the house, and perish if they are left in
the fields. On the contrary, they thrive in excessive heat, for we
meet with them in the southern parts of Asia and Africa, as about the
Persian Gulph, the Bay of Saldana, in Lybia, Senegal, and Guinea. We
also meet with them in our American Islands, whither they have been
transported from Europe, and have thriven extremely well.



CHAPTER IV.

OF CARNIVOROUS ANIMALS.[L]

[L] This division is according to the last Paris edition of Buffon. We
apprize the reader of this, because he will find included under the
denomination of carnivorous animals, some, which he may probably have
been accustomed to refer to a different species.


Hitherto we have only treated of useful animals. Those which seem
injurious are a far greater number; and though it universally appears
that what is hurtful exists in greater plenty than what is serviceable,
yet, as in the physical world, evil is subservient to good, for there
can in fact, be no evil, since nothing, in effect, injures Nature. If
to destroy animated beings is hurtful, is not man who is considered
as forming a part of the general system of those beings, the most
injurious and pernicious of them? He alone sacrifices and annihilates
more living individuals than all the carnivorous tribes. No further,
then, are they injurious than because they are the rivals of man,
because they have the same appetites, the same fondness for animal
food; and because to satisfy a want of the most urgent necessity, they
occasionally dispute with him that prey which he had reserved for his
own excesses; for we sacrifice more to our intemperance than to our
real wants. Born to destroy those beings which are subordinate, we
should exhaust Nature if she were not exhaustless, and by a fertility
superior to our depredations, renovates the destruction we continually
make. But it is so ordained that death should contribute to life,
and that reproduction should spring from destruction. However great,
therefore, may be the waste made by man and carnivorous animals, the
total quantity of living matter is never diminished, and if they hasten
deaths they are also the cause of new births being produced.

Large animals form but the smallest part of animated nature. The earth
swarms with the smaller kinds. Each plant, each grain, each particle
of organic matter, contains millions of living atoms. Vegetables
appear to be the first fund for subsisting Nature; but this fund,
however abundant and inexhaustible, would hardly be sufficient for
the still more abundant tribes of insects. Their increase, altogether
as numerous, and often more quick, than the reproduction of plants,
is a sufficient indication of their superior numbers. Plants are only
reproduced once a year, whereas in insects, especially among the
smaller species, one season gives birth to several generations. They
would multiply, then, more than plants, if they were not devoured
by other animals. Among insects there are numbers who live upon
other insects; there are some, as the spiders, which devour with
indifference their own as well as other species; they serve for food
to the birds; and fowls, both wild and tame, are destined for the
nourishment of man, or the prey of carnivorous animals. Thus violent
deaths seem to be equally as necessary as natural ones; they are
both modes of destruction and renovation; the one serves to preserve
nature in a perpetual spring, and the other maintains the order of
her productions, and limits the number of each species. They are both
effects dependent upon general causes; every individual falls of
itself at the end of a certain period, or if prematurely destroyed
it is from being superabundant. How many are there whose existence
is, as it were, anticipated? How many flowers are cut down in the
spring? How many seeds are annihilated before their development?
Man and carnivorous animals feed upon individuals which are either
wholly formed, or nearly so; flesh, eggs, grain, and seeds of every
species, form their usual nourishment, by which alone the exuberance
of Nature might be restrained. Let us consider any of the inferior
species which serve as food to others; herrings, for example, present
themselves in millions to our fishermen, and after having fed all the
monsters of the northern seas, they contribute to the subsistence of
all the nations in Europe for a certain part of the year. If prodigious
numbers of them were not destroyed, what would be the effects of their
prodigious multiplication? By them alone would the whole surface of
the sea be covered. But their numbers would soon prove a nuisance;
they would corrupt and destroy each other. For want of sufficient
nourishment their fecundity would diminish; by contagion and famine
they would be equally destroyed; the number of their own species would
not be increased, but the number of those that feed upon them would be
diminished. As this remark is alike applicable to any other species,
so it is necessary they should prey upon each other; the killing of
animals, therefore, is both a lawful and innocent custom, since it is
founded in nature, and it is upon that seemingly hard condition they
are brought into existence.

The motives, however, which incline us to doubt of this truth do honour
to humanity. Animals, those at least which have senses, and are
composed of flesh and blood, are, like us, capable of pleasure, and
subject to pain; it is, therefore, a cruel insensibility to sacrifice,
without necessity, those who approach or live with us, and whose
feelings are reflected by the signs of pain; for by those, whose nature
is very different to ours, we can be but little affected. Natural pity
is grounded on the relations we have with the object that suffers,
and it is more or less lively as the resemblance and conformity of
the structure is more or less great. The word _compassion_ indicates
that we suffer, that we are acted upon. The mind partakes less of
this pity than the body; and animals are susceptible of it as well
as man; the voice of pain moves them, they run to the assistance of
each other, and they shrink from the dead carcass of one of their
own species. Thus horror and pity are less passions of the mind than
natural affections, which depend on the sensibility of the body, and
on the similitude of its conformation; therefore this sentiment must
diminish in proportion as the nature of one animal differs from that of
another. When we strike a dog, or kill a lamb, it excites some pity;
but none do we feel in cutting down a tree, or swallowing an oyster.
In fact, can it be doubted that those animals, whose organization
is similar to ours, must experience similar sensations? And those
sensations must be proportioned to the activity and perfection of
their senses; those whose senses are obtuse can they have exquisite
feelings? and those who are defective in any organ of sense, must they
not also be defective in all the sensations which have any affinity
thereto? Motion is a necessary effect of the exercise of sentiment. We
have already evinced, (in treating of the nature of animals) that in
whatever manner a being is organized, if it has sentiment, it cannot
fail to express its feelings by outward motions. Thus plants, though
rightly organized, are insensible beings, as well as all animals which
have no apparent motion; those animals also which, like the sensitive
plant, move only their bodies and are denied progressive motion, have a
very small degree of sentiment; and, in fine, those which are capable
of progressive motion, but whose actions are, like so many automatons,
very few and always the same, have but a small portion of sentiment,
and that limited to a few objects. There are numerous automatons in
the human species: education and the respective communication of ideas
augment the quantity as well as the vivacity of our sentiments. In
this respect how great is the difference between the civilized man and
the savage? In the like manner it is with animals; those that live in
a domestic state, by their intercourse with man have their feelings
improved; while those who remain wild possess only the sensibility they
inherit from Nature, which is often more certain, but always less in
quantity than that which is acquired.

Besides, if we consider sentiment as a natural faculty, independent of
the movements which it necessarily produces, we may still be able to
estimate and determine its different degrees by physical relations, to
which sufficient attention does not seem to have been hitherto paid.
Before the highest degree of sentiment can exist in an animated body
it is necessary that this body should form a whole, not only sensible
in all its parts, but so composed that all these parts should have
an intimate correspondence with each other, insomuch that one cannot
be agitated without communicating a portion of that agitation to all
the rest. It is also necessary there should be one common centre in
which the agitations may terminate, and on which the reaction of every
movement may be performed. Thus man, and those animals which resemble
him most in organization, will be the most sensible beings. Those, on
the contrary, who do not form so complete a whole, whose parts have
a less intimate correspondence, who have several centres of feeling,
and under one cover seem less to comprise a perfect animal, than to
contain several centres of existence separate from each other, will
be beings far less sensible. The pieces of a polypus, which has been
cut, live separately; the head of a wasp, which is divided from the
body, lives, moves, and even eats as before; a lizard, when cut in
two, is neither deprived of motion nor feeling; the amputated limbs of
a lobster are renewed; the heart of a turtle vibrates for a long time
after it is taken out of the body; all those insects, in which the
principal viscera, as the heart and lungs, do not unite in the centre,
extend throughout the body, and form, as it were, a series of hearts,
and other viscera; all fishes, whose organs of circulation have but
little action; in short, all animals, whose organization is more or
less remote from ours, have more or less sentiment.

In man, and in the animals which resemble him, the diaphragm appears
to be the centre of sentiment; it is on this nervous part that the
impressions of pain and pleasure are directed; it is on this that all
the movements of the sensitive system are exercised. The diaphragm, in
a transverse form, divides the body into two equal parts, of which the
superior contains the heart and lungs, and the inferior the stomach and
the intestines. This membrane is possessed of the utmost sensibility;
it is also so necessary for the propagation and communication of
feeling, that the slightest injury of it is always accompanied with
convulsions, and often with death. The brain, which is considered as
the seat of sensation, is not, therefore, the centre of sentiment,
since it may be wounded, and even parts of it removed without causing
the death of the animal. Let us then distinguish sensation from
sentiment. Sensation is nothing more than an agitation or impression on
the sense, whereas sentiment is this very sensation rendered agreeable
or disagreeable by the propagation of the agitation through the
sensitive system, for the essence of sentiment, its sole characteristic
is pleasure or pain, and all other movements, notwithstanding they pass
within us, are totally indifferent, nor do they affect us. It is on
sentiment that the whole exterior movements, and the exercise of animal
force depend; it acts only in proportion as it feels, and the very part
which we consider as the centre of sentiment is also the centre of
force.

A slight examination will shew us that all lively emotions, whether
of pain or pleasure, in a word, all sensations, whether agreeable or
disagreeable, are felt internally in the region of the diaphragm. On
the contrary, there is no token of sentiment in the brain; in the head
there are none but pure sensations; we only recollect that this or that
sensation has been agreeable or disagreeable; and if this operation in
the head is followed by a lively and real sentiment, then we feel the
impression of it within the region of the diaphragm. Thus the foetus,
where this membrane is without exercise, is without sentiment, and the
little motions of the foetus may therefore rather be considered as
mechanical, than dependent either on sensation or on the will.

Whatever may be the substance which serves as the vehicle of sentiment,
and produces muscular motion, it is certainly propagated by the nerves,
and is communicated in an indivisible instant from one extremity to
the other. In whatever manner this motion may be effected, (whether by
vibrations, as in elastic fibres, or by a subtile fire, similar to that
of electricity, which not only resides in animated, and in all other
bodies, but is constantly regenerated in the former by the motion
of the heart and lungs, by the action of the blood in the arteries,
and also by that of exterior causes on the organs of sense) certain
it is that the nerves and membranes are the only sensible part of the
animal body. The blood, the lymph, the fat, the bones, the flesh, and
all other solids and fluids, are of themselves insensible; the brain
is a soft and unelastic substance, and on that account incapable of
producing or propagating the vibrations of sentiment.

What may have given rise to the opinion that the brain was the seat
of sensation, and the centre of sensibility, is the circumstance
that the nerves, which are the organs of sensation, terminate in the
brain; for which reason it was considered as the only part that could
receive every agitation or impression. This supposition appeared so
simple, and so natural, that no attention was paid to the physical
impossibility that attends it, though abundantly evident; for how is it
possible that a soft and insensible substance should not only receive
impressions, but retain them for a length of time, and propagate all
their agitations over the solid and sensible parts? Perhaps it will be
answered after Descartes and Peyronie, that it is not in the brain,
but in the pineal gland that this principle of sensation resides; but
it is very easily distinguished that the pineal gland, the callous
substance in which they would enclose the seat of the sensations, have
no connection with the nerves, but are surrounded with the insensible
substance of the brain, and so separated from the nerves that they
cannot receive the motions of them, and therefore these suppositions,
like the former, must fall to the ground. But what, in this case, is
the use and functions of this very noble and principal part of the
body? Is not the brain to be found in every animal? Do we not find it
larger in man, quadrupeds, and birds, which have all much sentiment,
than in fishes, insects, and other animals which have but little? When
compressed, is not all motion suspended? Does not every action cease?
If this part is not the principal of motion, why is it so essentially
necessary to it? Why is it proportioned, in every species of animals,
to the quantity of sentiment with which they are endowed?

However difficult these questions may appear, I think it is easy to
answer them satisfactorily. By an attentive and deliberate examination,
the brain, as well as the spinal marrow (which is nothing more than
a prolongation of it) is a kind of mucilage, hardly organized. We
distinguish in it only the extremities of the little arteries, which
terminate there in great numbers, and carry no blood but a white
and nutritive lymph; these small arteries, or lymphatic vessels,
when disunited from the brain by maceration, appear in the form of
very slender fibres. The nerves, on the contrary, never penetrate
the substance of the brain, but only reach the surface of it, but
previously to which they lose their solidity and elasticity, and their
extremities next the brain are soft, and almost mucilaginous. Whence it
appears that the brain, which is nourished by the lymphatic arteries,
furnishes in its turn nourishment to the nerves, which we ought to
consider as a kind of vegetable substance, that shoots forth from the
brain, and is divided into an infinity of branches. The brain is to the
nerves what the soil is to plants; the extremities of the nerves are
the roots, which, as in every vegetable, are more soft, and tender than
the trunk or branches; they contain a ductile matter proper for the
growth and nourishment of the tree; and this ductile matter they derive
from the substance of the brain, to which the arteries continually
direct the lymph necessary for its supply. The brain, therefore,
instead of being the seat of sensation, the principle of sentiment, is
only an organ of secretion and nutrition, but it is an organ which is
highly essential, and without which the nerves could neither grow nor
be preserved.

The brain is also larger in man, quadrupeds, and birds, because in
them the quantity of nerves is greater than in fishes and insects,
which on this very account have very little sentiment; they have but
a small brain, in proportion to the small number of nerves which it
nourishes. And here I cannot help remarking, that man has not, as has
been said, a proportionably larger brain than any other animal. There
are species of apes, and of cetaceous animals, which, proportioned
to the size of their bodies, have more brains than man; another fact
which proves that the brain is neither the seat of sensation, nor the
principle of sentiment, since were it so those animals would have more
sensations, and more sentiment, than man. By observing the nutrition
of plants we shall perceive that they do not absorb the gross parts
of earth or water, and that these must first be reduced by heat into
tenuous vapours. In like manner the nerves are nourished by the subtle
moisture of the brain, which is received by their extremities or roots,
and thence carried into all the branches of the sensitive system. This
system, as we have already remarked, forms an individual whole, of
which the parts have so close a connection that we cannot wound one
without injuring all the rest. The slightest irritation of the smallest
nerve is sufficient to throw the whole body into a convulsion, nor is
it possible to cure the pain, or remove the convulsion, but by cutting
away the nerve above the injured part, and then all the parts to which
this nerve joined become at once motionless and insensible. The brain
ought not to be considered as an organic part of the nervous system,
because it differs both in properties and substance, and is neither
solid, elastic, nor sensible. I own that, when compressed, a stop is
put to sensation; but this proves it a body foreign to the system,
which, from acting with a weight on the nerves, benumbs them in the
same manner, as a heavy weight applied to the arm or leg, deadens the
feeling; and this is evident, because the moment the compression is
removed sentiment revives, and the motion is re-established. I own
likewise that, by injuring the brain, convulsions, and even death, will
ensue, but these effects are produced from the nerves being injured in
their very source. To these reasons I might add particular facts, which
would also prove that the brain is neither the centre of sentiment nor
the seat of sensation. There have been animals, and even children,
born without either head or brain, yet endowed with sentiment, motion,
and life. In insects and worms the brain is not perceptible, having
only a part which corresponds with the spinal marrow, and therefore the
spinal marrow might more reasonably be supposed the seat of sensation,
being common to all animals, which the brain is not.

The greatest obstacle to the advancement of human knowledge, lies not
so much in the things themselves, as in our manner of considering them.
However complicated the body of man may be, his ideas are more so.
It is less difficult to understand Nature as she is, than comprehend
her as she is represented. She has only a veil, but we give her a
mask, and conceal her with prejudices; and we suppose she acts and
operates as we act and think; but her actions however are clear, and
our thoughts are obscure; her designs and operations are always uniform
and certain, which we seem to confound with the variable illusions
of our own imaginations. I speak not merely of arbitrary systems and
imaginary hypotheses, but of the methods by which we generally study
Nature. Even experiment, although the most certain method, has been
productive of more error than truth; as the smallest deviation leads
to barren wilds, or exhibits a glimpse of obscure objects; to which
affinities and properties are ascribed, and those steps being followed
by the whole world, the consequences derived from them are admitted
as fixed principles. Of this I might give a proof by exposing what
are called principles in all the sciences, both abstract and real. In
the former the general basis of principle is abstraction, or one or
more suppositions; in the latter, principles are nothing more than
consequences, whether true or false, of the methods which we have
adopted. Let us take anatomy for an example: must not the first man
who surmounted natural repugnance, and ventured to open a human body,
suppose that by dissecting and examining all its parts, he should
obtain a knowledge of its structure, mechanism and functions? but
finding the subject more complicated than he had imagined, he was
obliged to renounce those pretensions, and to adopt a method, not by
which he might know and judge, but by which he might view the parts
in a certain order. This method, however, was not to be acquired by
one man; it was to occupy the attention of ages, and even of our
ablest anatomists to the present day, and even when acquired it is
not science, but the road which leads to it; and which might have
done so, if instead of keeping within the narrow and beaten track,
anatomists had extended the path, by comparing the human body with that
of other animals; for does not the foundation of all science consist
in a comparison of similar and different objects, of their analogous
and opposite properties, and of all their relative qualities? And
hence it is, that although human bodies have been dissected for three
thousand years, anatomy still remains nothing more than a nomenclature,
and hardly any advances have been made towards the real object, the
knowledge of the animal economy; in which Nature certainly appears very
mysterious, not only because the subject is complicated, but because,
having neglected those modes of comparison, which alone could have
afforded us any light, we have been immersed in the obscurity of doubt,
or bewildered in the labyrinth of vague hypotheses. We have millions of
volumes descriptive of the human body, while the structure of animals
has been almost entirely neglected. The most minute parts of man have
been named and described, and yet we know not whether those parts are
to be found in other animals. Certain functions have been ascribed to
certain organs, without knowing whether those functions cannot be
exercised by other beings though deprived of those organs; insomuch
that in all the explications relative to the animal economy, we labour
under the double disadvantage of first engaging in a complicated
subject, and then reasoning on it without the assistance of analogy.
Through the whole course of this work we have followed a different
method; constantly comparing Nature with herself, we have considered
her relatively and in her most distant extremes; and it will be easily
perceived that, after all our labour to remove false ideas, destroy
prejudices, and to separate realities from arbitrary opinions, the
only art we have employed is comparison. If we have been enabled to
throw any light upon these subjects, less is to be attributed to genius
than method, and which we have endeavoured to render as general as our
knowledge would permit.

Having hitherto avoided giving general ideas, until we had presented
the results of particular operations, we shall now content ourselves
with collecting certain facts, which will suffice to prove that man,
in a state of nature, was not calculated to live upon herbage, grain,
or fruits; but that at all times with the greatest part of other
animals, he sought to feed on flesh. The Pythagorean diet so highly
extolled by some ancient and modern philosophers, and even recommended
by certain physicians, was assuredly not prescribed by Nature. In the
golden age, man, as innocent as the dove, sought for no nourishment but
acorns of the forest, and pure water of the stream. Surrounded with
subsistence, he was free from inquietude, lived independently, and at
peace with himself and other animals; but losing sight of his dignity,
he sacrificed his liberty to the union of society, and exchanged a
life of repose for tumultuous warfare. Of his nature thus depraved,
the first fruits were cruelty and an appetite for flesh and blood; and
this depravity the invention of arts and manners served to complete.
Thus have philosophers austere, and by sentiment savage, in all ages,
reproached the civilized part of mankind. Flattering their own pride
at the expence of their species, they have presented a picture which
has no value but from the contrast it exhibits. Did this state of ideal
innocence, of perfect temperance, of entire abstinence from flesh,
of profound peace and tranquillity ever exist? Is it not a fable in
which man, like an animal, has been employed to convey moral lessons?
Can virtue have subsisted before society? Can the loss of our savage
nature merit regret? or can man, in a wild state, be considered as
a more worthy being than the civilized citizen? Yes, for all misery
arises from society; and what signifies the virtue he possessed in a
state of nature, if he was more happy than he is now. Are not liberty,
health, and strength, preferable to effeminacy, sensuality, and
voluptuousness, accompanied with slavery? The absence of pain is at
least equal to the enjoyment of pleasure, and to be completely happy,
is to have nothing to desire. If these observations were just, why do
they not tell us it is better to vegetate than to live, to have no
appetites than to gratify them, to sleep through life in a perfect
apathy, than to open our eyes to see and feel? that, in short, it is
better to be so many inanimate masses attached to the earth, than be
capable of enjoying those benefits Nature so bountifully bestows?

But, instead of discussing, let us advert to facts: Is the savage
inhabitant of the desart a tranquil animal? Is he a happy man? For
we cannot suppose with a certain philosopher, (Rousseau) one of the
fiercest censors of civilization, that there is a greater distance
between a savage and a man in a pure state of nature, than between
a savage and ourselves; that the ages before man acquired the use
of speech were more than those in which languages were brought to
perfection. In reasoning upon facts all suppositions ought to be thrown
aside, until every thing presented by Nature is examined. In doing
this we shall descend from the most enlightened to a people which are
less so; from those to others yet more rude, but still subject to
kings and laws; from these to savages, among whom there are as many
shades as in the civilized nations; some of them we shall find forming
nations subject to chiefs; others, in smaller bodies, governed by
certain customs; and others, the most solitary and independent, united
in families, and submitting to their fathers. Thus an empire and a
monarchy, a family and a father, are the two extremes of society; and
these extremes are likewise the limits of Nature; for if they extended
further in traversing the different solitudes of the earth, we must
have found these human creatures void of speech, the males separated
from the females, the children abandoned, &c. In contradiction to
this, I however assert, that it is impossible to maintain that man
ever existed without forming families, because the children must
inevitably have perished had they not been attended for several years.
This physical necessity alone is a sufficient demonstration that the
human species could neither multiply nor exist without society, and
that the attachment of parents to their children is natural because it
is necessary; this attachment was also sufficient to habituate them
to certain signs and sounds, and to accustom them to the expressions
of sentiment and desire; of this we are convinced by the facts that
the most solitary savages have, like other men, the use of signs and
speech. Thus we know that the pure state of nature is that of a savage
living in a desart but living with his family, knowing his children,
and being known by them, using words, and making himself understood.
Neither do the savage girl, found in the woods of Champagne, nor the
wild man, in the forests of Hanover, prove any thing to the contrary.
They had lived in absolute solitude, and therefore could have no idea
of society or of words; but had they met, Nature would have prompted
an attachment, which attachment would soon have taught them to make
themselves understood; they would first have learned the language of
love, and then that of tenderness for their offspring. Besides, these
must have sprung from parents living in society, and left by them at
the age of four or five years, when they had sufficient strength to
procure subsistence, though too feeble to retain the ideas, which
might have been communicated to them.

Let us, then, examine this man in a pure state of nature, that is, this
savage living as the head of a family; if the family prospers he soon
becomes chief of a numerous body, all observing the same customs, and
speaking the same language; at the third or fourth generation, they
will become a small nation, which, increasing by time, will either
be formed into a civilized people, or remain in a savage state, as
circumstances may concur. If they reside in a mild climate, and a
fertile soil, where they meet with nothing but desarts, or people like
themselves, they will remain in their pristine state, and, according
to circumstances, become the friends or enemies of their neighbours.
But if under a severe climate, and pinched for want of sustenance, or
room, they will make irruptions, form colonies, and blend themselves
with other nations, of which they will either become the conquerors or
slaves. Thus man, in every situation, and in every region, still aims
at society; it is, indeed, an uniform effect, of a necessary cause,
since without it the propagation, and, of course, the existence of
mankind would cease.

Thus we plainly see society is founded in Nature; and upon examining,
in the same manner, the appetites of savages, we shall find that none
of them live solely on fruits, herbs, or grain; that they all prefer
flesh and fish to other food, and that instead of preferring pure
water, they endeavour to make for themselves, or procure from others, a
beverage less insipid. The savages of the south drink the juice of the
palm-tree; those of the north take large draughts of disgusting whale
oil; others make fermented liquors, and they all possess a passionate
fondness for strong liquors. Their industry dictated by necessity,
and excited by natural appetite, amounts to nothing more than forming
a few instruments for hunting and fishing. A bow and arrows, a net,
a club, and a canoe, are the sole produce of their arts, and are all
for the purpose of procuring food suitable to their palates. And what
is suitable to their palate must correspond with Nature; for, as we
have already remarked, in the history of the ox, man, having but one
stomach, is not formed to live on herbage alone; nor would he be much
better supplied from grain, notwithstanding it has been highly improved
by art, and contains more nutritive particles than when possessed only
of their relative qualities; yet if man received no other food he
would with difficulty drag on a feeble and languishing existence.

Behold the enthusiastic recluse, who abstains, from every thing that
has had life, who, from religious motives, renounces the gifts of the
Creator, shuns society, and shuts himself up in those consecrated
walls, at the very idea of which Nature recoils. Confined in these
tombs set apart for the living, he draws on for a very few years, a
feeble and useless existence, and when the hour of dissolution comes,
it may be said to be that in which he ceased to die. If man were
reduced to abstain from flesh, at least in these climates, he could
neither subsist nor multiply. Perhaps this diet might be possible in
southern countries, where the fruits arrive at greater maturity, where
the plants are more substantial, and the roots more succulent. The
Brahmans, nevertheless, form rather a sect than a people, and their
religion, though very ancient, has never extended beyond one climate.
This religion, founded upon metaphysics, is a striking example of the
fate of human opinions. From the scattered remains we may plainly
perceive that the sciences have been cultivated from great antiquity,
and carried perhaps to a greater degree of perfection than they are at
this day. It was well known in ancient times that all animated beings
contained living and unperishable particles, which passed from one
body to another. This truth, which was adopted by a few philosophers,
and afterwards generally received, could only retain its purity during
the enlightened ages, and a revolution of darkness succeeding, nothing
more of them was remembered but just enough to countenance the opinion,
that the living principle of the animal was an unperishable whole,
which separated from the body after death. To this visionary whole
they gave the name of soul, which was soon supposed to exist in all
animals; and they afterwards maintained, that after death, what they
thus termed soul, perpetually transmigrated from one body to another.
Man was not excepted from the tenets of this doctrine; and blending
morals with metaphysics, they asserted that this surviving being
retained in its transmigrations all its former sentiments, affections,
and desires. Credulity trembled, and they contemplated with horror
the idea that on quitting its present agreeable abode the soul would
become the inhabitant of a noisome animal. Fear being the fore-runner
of superstition they began to entertain fresh alarms, and dreaded, lest
in killing an animal, they should destroy the mistress they had loved,
or the parent which had given them being; every beast they began to
regard as a relation or neighbour, till at last, from motives of love
and duty, they were obliged to abstain from every thing that had life.
Such is the origin and progress of the most ancient religion in India.

But to return to our subject. An entire abstinence from flesh can only
serve to enfeeble Nature. Man, to enjoy health, ought not only to
use this solid nourishment, but even to vary it; to acquire complete
vigour he must chuse that which agrees with him best; and, as he cannot
continue in an active state without procuring new sensations, so he
must indulge himself with a variety of eatables to prevent the disgust
that would follow an uniformity of nourishment, being careful, however,
to avoid excess, which is still more injurious than abstinence. Animals
which have but one stomach, and whose intestines are short, are forced,
like man, to feed on flesh, and, therefore, by an examination of the
various animals, it will appear, that their difference in food arises
from their conformation, and that their nourishment is more or less
solid as their stomachs are more or less capacious. But it must not
from this be concluded, that animals, which feed on herbs are under
a physical necessity of feeding on them alone, although carnivorous
animals cannot exist without flesh: we only mean it to be understood,
that those which have several stomachs can be supported without such
solid food; not but they might make use of it if Nature had furnished
them with talons to seize on prey, since we find sheep, calves, goats,
and horses, greedily eat milk and eggs, and do not refuse even meat
which has been seasoned with salt; it may, therefore, be said, that a
taste for flesh is a predominant appetite in all animals, and that it
is more or less vehement, or moderate, according to their particular
conformation, since we find it not only in man and quadrupeds, but in
fishes, insects, and worms; for the latter of which, indeed, all flesh
seems to be ultimately destined.

In all animals nutrition is performed by organic particles, which,
separated from the gross mass of food by digestion, mingle with the
blood, and assimilate with all parts of the body. But, independently of
this principal effect arising from the quality, there is another which
depends on the quantity of the food. The stomach and intestines of
supple membranes, which occupy a considerable space in the body, and
which, to preserve their tense state, and to counter-balance the force
of the adjoining parts, require to be always in some filled measure.
If for want of nourishment this space happens to be entirely empty,
then the membranes, having no longer an inward support, bear down upon
and adhere to each other, and these give rise to all the oppressions
and weakness of extreme want. Food, therefore, as well as contributing
to the nourishment of the body, serves as a kind of ballast to it.
Its presence and quantity are equally necessary to preserve an
equilibrium; and when a man dies for hunger, it is not more for want
of nourishment than from not having a proper poise to the body. Thus
animals, especially the most voracious, are so eager to fill up the
vacancy within them, that they will swallow even earth and stones. Clay
has been found in the stomach of a wolf; I have seen hogs eat it very
greedily, and most birds swallow pebbles, &c. Nor is this from taste
but necessity, for the most craving want is not to refresh the blood by
a new chyle, but to maintain an equilibrium of the forces in the grand
parts of the animal machine.


THE WOLF.

The Wolf is one of those animals whose appetite for animal food is very
strong. Nature has furnished him with various means for satisfying this
appetite, and yet though she has bestowed on him strength, cunning,
agility, and all the necessary requisites for discovering, pursuing,
seizing, and devouring his prey, he not unfrequently dies of hunger;
for man having become his declared enemy, and put a price upon his
head, he is obliged to take refuge in the forests, where the few wild
animals he can meet with escape him by the swiftness of their course,
and whom he cannot surprise in sufficient quantities to satisfy his
rapacity. He is naturally dull and cowardly, but becomes ingenious from
want, and courageous from necessity. When pressed with hunger he braves
danger; he attacks those animals which are under the protection of man,
particularly such as he can easily carry away, as lambs, kids, and
even small dogs; if he succeeds in these excursions, he often returns
to the charge, till being wounded and closely pursued by dogs and men,
he conceals himself during the day in his den, and only ventures out
at night, when he traverses the country, searches round the cottages,
kills such animals as have been left without, scratches up the earth
from under the barn-doors, enters with a barbarous ferocity, and
destroys every living thing within, before he begins to fix upon, and
carry off his prey. Should these sallies not succeed, he returns to the
forests and pursues with avidity any animal he can meet, nay, he will
even follow the track of large animals in hopes they may be seized and
destroyed by some other wolf, and that he may become a partaker of the
spoil. When his necessities are very urgent, he will face destruction;
he attacks women and children, and will sometimes dart upon men; in a
word, he becomes furious by his continual agitations, and ends his life
in madness.

The wolf both externally and internally, so nearly resembles the dog,
that he seems modelled upon the same plan; and yet if his form is
similar, his nature is totally different, and so unlike are they in
disposition, that no two animals can have a more perfect antipathy
to each other. A young dog shudders at the first sight of a wolf; and
even the scent of one, though new and unknown, is so repugnant to his
nature, that he will come trembling to his master for protection. A
powerful dog, who knows his own strength, testifies his animosity,
attacks him with courage, endeavours to put him to flight, and uses
every exertion to get rid of an object whose presence is hateful. They
never meet without its terminating in flight or death. If the wolf
proves strongest he tears and devours his prey; but the dog is more
generous and contents himself with victory; he does not even approve
the smell of the body of a dead enemy, but leaves him as food for the
ravens, or even other wolves; for they eat the carcasses of each other;
and if one wolf happens to be much wounded, a number of them will track
him by his blood and speedily dispatch him.

The dog, even in his wild state, is not cruel, he is easily tamed, and
continues firmly attached to his master. The young wolf may be tamed,
but never has any attachment. Nature in him is stronger than education;
he resumes, with age, his ferocious disposition, and returns as soon
as he can to his savage state. Dogs, even of the dullest kind, seek
other animals and are naturally disposed to accompany them; and by
instinct alone, without any education, they take to the care of flocks
and herds. The wolf, on the contrary, is the enemy of all society: he
does not associate even with those of his own species; when several are
seen together it is not to be considered as a peaceful society, but a
combination for war; their fierceness and loud howlings denote they
intend an attack on some large animal, as a stag, ox, or formidable
dog. The instant their military expedition is over, they separate,
and each returns in silence to his solitary retreat. There is not any
strong attachment between the males and females; they seek each other
but once a year, and then remain but a few days together. They always
couple in winter; several males will follow one female, and this
association is more bloody than the former, for they growl, fight, and
tear one another, and the majority will frequently kill him that has
been preferred by the female. It is usual for the she wolf to fly her
admirers a long time, and at last retire with the one she has chosen
when all the rest are asleep. The female does not continue in season
above twelve or fifteen days, the oldest are generally so first. The
males have no fixed time, but pass from one female to another from the
end of December to the end of February. The time of going with young
is about three months and a half, and young whelps are found from the
end of April till the beginning of July. This difference in the time
of gestation between the she-wolf, who goes above a hundred days, and
the bitch that does not exceed 60, proves that the wolf and dog differ
not more in their dispositions than in their temperament, particularly
in one of the chief functions of the animal economy; besides the wolf
lives longer than the dog, and the she-wolf breeds but once in the
year, while the bitch has two or three litters in the same period; for
these, together with the reasons we have adduced in the history of the
dog, the wolf and the dog cannot be considered as the same animal; but
by the nomenclators of Natural History, who have only a superficial
knowledge of Nature. The wolf also differs from the dog in several
external characteristics. The aspect of the head and form of the bones
are not the same, the cavity of the eye is obliquely placed in the
wolf, the orbits are inclined, his eyes sparkle in the night, he howls
instead of barking, his step is more precipitate, yet more uniform, his
body is stronger but less supple, his limbs more firm, his jaws and
teeth larger, and his hair much coarser.

When the females are near the time of bringing forth, they seek for an
agreeable place in the inmost recesses of the forest; in the middle of
the chosen spot, they level a small space, cutting away the thorns and
briars with their teeth; they can carry thither a quantity of moss,
which they form into a bed for their young; they generally bring forth
five or six, sometimes eight or nine, but never less than three. The
cubs, like puppies, come into the world with their eyes closed; the
mother suckles them for some weeks, and soon learns them to eat flesh,
which she prepares for them by chewing it; some time after she brings
them field mice, leverets, partridges, and birds yet alive; the young
wolves begin by playing with, and end by killing them, when the dam
strips them of their feathers, skins them, tears them in pieces, and
gives to each of her young a share. They do not leave this den until
they are six weeks or two months old; they then follow the mother, who
leads them to drink in the trunk of some old tree, or to a neighbouring
pool. If she apprehends any danger, she hastily conducts them back,
or conceals them in some convenient place. Though at other times more
timorous than the male, yet when her young are attacked she becomes
fearless, and defends them with fury. She never forsakes them until
they have shed their first teeth, and completed their new; when, having
acquired talents for rapine, and learned industry and courage from her
example, she leaves them to shift for themselves, being herself about
to be engaged in the care of a new progeny.

Both males and females are capable of generating when two years old.
It is probable that the female may be more forward than the male; it
is, however, certain, that they are not inclined to copulate before
the second winter, which necessarily implies 18 or 20 months of age;
a she-wolf, which I reared, discovered no symptoms until the third
winter, when she was more than two years and a half old. Huntsmen
assert that in every litter there are more males than females, which
seems to confirm the general remark, that Nature, in all species,
produces more of the former than the latter. From them also we learn
that some of the males attach themselves to the females, and accompany
them until they are about to bring forth, when she steals from him,
and carefully hides her young, lest he should devour them immediately
after birth; but that when brought forth, he takes the same care of
them as the female, carries them provisions, and if the mother happens
to be killed, he carefully brings them up. I cannot, however, pretend
to vouch for the truth of these facts, which appear to me contrary to
their natural dispositions.

These animals require two or three years to complete their growth,
and live to the age of 15 or 20; another proof of our position that
the growth takes up one seventh part of life. As the wolf grows old
he turns grey, and his teeth appear much worn. He sleeps when full
or fatigued, but more by day than night, and is always very easily
awakened. He drinks frequently, and in times of drought, when there is
no water in holes or trunks of trees, he will come to the brooks or
rivulets several times in the day. Although very voracious, he will
go four or five days without meat, provided he is well supplied with
water. He has great strength, particularly in his fore parts, in the
muscles of his neck and jaws. He will carry off a sheep in his mouth,
without letting it touch the ground, and at the same time outrun the
shepherds, so that nothing but dogs can overtake or oblige him to
quit his prey. He bites cruelly, and always with greater vehemence
in proportion as he is less resisted, for with such as can defend
themselves he is cautious and circumspect. He is cowardly, and never
fights but from necessity. When wounded by a bullet he will cry out,
and yet when surrounded and dispatched by clubs, he never complains
like the dog, but defends himself in silence, and dies as hard as he
lived. He is more savage, has less sensibility, and more strength than
the dog. He travels and roams about for nights and days together, and
perhaps of all animals is the most difficult to be hunted down. The
dog is gentle and courageous; the wolf though savage is fearful. If
entrapped in a snare he is for some time so frightened and overcome,
that he may be killed or taken alive, without offering to resist; he
will suffer himself to be chained, muzzled, and led along without
giving the least signs of anger or resentment. His senses, particularly
that of smelling, are very acute, and the odour of a carcass will
strike him, though at more than a league distant; he also scents
living animals a great way off, and will hunt them a long time by
following their track. On leaving the wood he always goes against the
wind, and upon coming to the extremity he stops, smells on all sides,
and receives the emanations that may come either from living or dead
bodies, and which he nicely distinguishes. He prefers living flesh to
carrion, but will eat the most infected carcasses. He is fond of human
flesh, and perhaps were he sufficiently powerful he would eat no other.
Wolves have been known to follow armies, to go in numbers into the
field after a battle, and devour such bodies as lay upon the surface,
or were negligently interred: when once accustomed to human flesh, they
will attack men, preferring the shepherd to his flock, devour women,
and carry off children.[M]

[M] These are called _loups garoux_, from the French word _garer_, to
take care, signifying that they are to be guarded against; _loup garou_
signifies also in the French language an unsociable man; a term, the
affinity of which to the former is not easily discoverable.

It sometimes happens that whole countries are obliged to arm for
the purpose of destroying them. Hunting of them is also a favourite
diversion among the great, and is certainly a very useful one. Wolves
are distinguished by huntsmen into _young_, _old_, and _very old_; they
are known by the prints of their feet, which are large in proportion
to their age; those of the females are longer and more slender. It is
necessary to have a good bloodhound to put up the wolf, and when upon
the scent every art must be used to encourage him, as all dogs have a
natural antipathy to this animal, and are very cold in the pursuit.
When the wolf is put up, greyhounds should be let after him in pairs,
the first pair almost immediately supported by a man on horseback;
the second when he is at the distance of eight or nine hundred paces,
and a third pair when the other dogs have come up with and begin to
bait him; he keeps them off for a considerable time, but the hunters
coming up generally dispatch him with their cutlasses; when killed the
dogs never shew the smallest appetite to enjoy the fruits of their
victory. The wolf is sometimes hunted by harriers, but as he runs
straight forward, and will hold his speed for a day together, the chace
is very tedious without greyhounds to harrass and turn him at every
view. Several arts have been adopted to destroy these noxious animals
such as worrying them with large mastiffs, laying snares, digging
pits, and spreading poisoned meats, yet their numbers remain nearly
the same, especially in woody countries. The Britons are said to have
extirpated them from their island, and yet I am assured they are still
found in Scotland; as there are but few forests in South Britain, their
destruction there was less difficult.

Their colour differs with the climate in which they live, and sometimes
in the same country. Beside the common wolves, in France and Germany,
there are others with thicker and yellow coloured hair; these, though
more savage are less destructive than the others, as they neither
approach flocks nor the habitations of men, but live solely by the
chace. In the northern climates some are found quite black, and
others entirely white. The common species are very generally diffused,
being found in Asia, Africa, and America, as well as in Europe. The
wolves of Senegal resemble those of France, except being larger and
more fierce; those of Egypt are smaller than those of Greece. In the
East, particularly in Persia, the wolf is trained up for a shew, being
taught to dance, and exhibit a number of tricks; and, according to
Chardin, when well taught, a single wolf will sell for 500 crowns. This
fact proves, that by dint of time and restraint, these animals are
susceptible of education. Several which I reared were very docile, and
even courteous, during the first year, nor ever attempted to seize the
poultry, or other animals, when properly fed, but when they arrived at
18 months I found it necessary to chain them, to prevent their doing
mischief, or running away. I allowed one that I had to range at large
among some fowls, and he never touched any of them till he was about 18
or 19 months old, when, as a specimen of what he could do, he killed
the whole in one night, without eating any of them. I had another which
broke his chain and ran off, but not till he had killed a dog with whom
he had been very familiar, and a particular instance of the ferocity
of a she-wolf I have given under the article Dog.

There is nothing valuable in this animal but his skin, which makes
a warm durable covering. His flesh is so bad that it is abhorred by
all animals, and no species will eat it, his own excepted. His breath
exhales a most fetid odour. As to satisfy his voracious appetite
he devours, without distinction, putrid flesh, hair, bones, skin
half tanned, or even any thing that comes in his way, so he vomits
frequently, and empties himself more often than he fills. In a word, he
is every way offensive; he has a savage aspect, a frightful howl, an
insupportable stench, a perverse disposition and fierce habit; he is
hateful while living and useless when dead.


SUPPLEMENT.

We have it from Pontoppidan, that wolves did not exist in Norway before
the year 1718, and that in the last war between Sweden and Norway they
followed the provisions of the army.

The Viscomte Querhoënt has informed me that there are two species of
wolves at the Cape of Good Hope, the one black and the other grey with
black spots; that they are bigger than those of Europe, and have very
large teeth, but their cowardice makes them little apprehended, though
sometimes, as well as the ounces, they will steal into the city in the
night.


THE FOX.

This animal is famous for his craft, and he partly merits the
reputation he has acquired. What the wolf (_fig. 62._) executes by
superior strength, the fox (_fig. 63._) accomplishes by cunning.
Without attacking the shepherd, his dog, or even his flock, he
finds a more certain way to subsist. Patient and prudent he waits
the opportunity for depredation, varying his conduct according to
circumstances always reserving some arts for unforeseen events.
Self-preservation is his grand object, and though as indefatigable, and
more nimble than the wolf, he never trusts entirely to the swiftness of
his course, but contrives himself an asylum, where he retires in cases
of necessity, and in which he dwells and brings up his young.

_Engraved for Barr's Buffon._

[Illustration: FIG. 62. _Wolf._]

[Illustration: FIG. 63. _Fox._]

As among men, those who lead a domestic life are more civilized than
perpetual wanderers; so, among animals, the taking possession of a
home, supposes a superior degree of instinct. The choice of situation,
the art of rendering it a convenient habitation, and concealing the
entrance to it, likewise indicate superior skill and industry. Endowed
with both these, the fox turns them to his advantage. He fixes his
residence at the edge of the wood, yet not far from some cottage or
hamlet; he listens to the crowing of a cock, and the cackling of
other poultry; he scents them at a distance; he judiciously chooses
his time; creeps slily along; suddenly makes the attack, and rarely
returns without his booty. If he can get into the hen-roost, he puts
all to death, and retires with part of his prey, which he conceals at
some distance; he then returns for more, which he takes away and hides
in the same manner, though in a different place; and this practice
he continues, till, warned by the approach of day, or the movements
of the family, he retires to his den. He makes use of similar arts
with the fowler; visits the nets and springes very early in the
morning, expertly takes the birds out of the snare, carries them off
successively, and conceals them in different places, above all near
the edges of the roads where he sometimes leaves them for two or three
days, but is never at a loss to recover his hidden treasure when he
is in need. The young hare and rabbit he hunts down; the old ones he
seizes in their seats, and never misses those which are wounded; he
discovers the nests of partridges and quails, seizes the old ones
while they are sitting, and destroys a prodigious quantity of game;
so that if he is less injurious than the wolf to the peasant, he is
more noxious to the gentleman. The chace of the fox requires less
preparation, and is more amusing than that of the wolf. Though all
dogs have a great reluctance to the latter, they pursue the fox with
pleasure, and often in preference to the stag or hare. He is usually
hunted with hounds, assisted by terriers. The instant he finds himself
pursued he makes to his den, and takes refuge at the bottom, into
which the terriers will follow and keep him at bay, while the hunters
remove the earth from above. But as his kennel is often under rocks,
or among the roots of trees, he cannot then be dug out, nor is the
terrier able to contend with him at the bottom of his hole. In this
case he remains secure; but if he can be dug out, the usual way is to
carry him in a bag to some distance, and there set him loose before the
hounds. His shifts to escape, when all retreats to his kennel are cut
off, are various and surprising. He will then proceed in a direct line
before the hounds, but making to the most woody grounds, he takes to
those paths most entangled with thorns and briars, and seldom fails to
extremely harass and fatigue the dogs.

The most effectual method of destroying foxes, is to lay traps for
them, baited with flesh, live pigeons, or fowls. I once suspended on a
tree, nine feet high, some meat, bread, and bones, at which the foxes
had been so eager in leaping, that in the morning the ground round it
was beaten as smooth as a barn floor. The fox is extremely voracious;
for besides flesh, he eats with equal avidity, eggs, milk, cheese,
fruit, and particularly grapes. When he cannot procure a sufficiency
of leverets and partridges, he falls upon rats, mice, serpents, toads,
and lizards, which he destroys in great numbers, and thereby renders
one service to mankind. Insects, shell-fish, and even the hedge-hog,
at times, become his prey. He attacks bees and wasps for the sake of
their honey; they at first seem to force him to retire, by repeated
stings, but this is only to roll upon the earth and crush those
which have stuck to his skin; he then returns to the charge, and by
perseverance, obliges them to abandon their combs, when he devours both
wax and honey.[N]

[N] He seizes also hedge-hogs, rolls them about with his feet, and
compels them to unfold themselves; he eats likewise fish, lobsters,
may-bugs, grass-hoppers, &c.

The fox greatly resembles the dog in the internal parts. His head,
however, is larger in proportion to his body, his ears are shorter,
his tail more bushy, and his eyes more oblique. He also differs from
the dog by a strong offensive smell, which is peculiar to his species,
and also in disposition; for he is not easily tamed, can never be
rendered truly domestic, pines and dies of chagrin when long denied
his liberty. As we have already stated, he refuses to copulate with
the female dog. The foxes bring forth once a year, they generally have
four or five, seldom six, and never less than three. When the female is
pregnant, she seldom goes out of her kennel, where she prepares a bed
for her young. She is in season in winter, and there are young foxes in
April. When she finds her retreat is discovered, and that her cubs have
been disturbed during her absence, she endeavours to find a place of
greater security and carries them to it one after the other. They come
blind into the world, and like dogs also they grow from eighteen months
to two years, and live to the age of thirteen or fourteen.

The senses of the fox are as good as those of the wolf; his smelling
is more acute, and the organs of his voice are more supple and more
perfect. The wolf only howls, while the fox yelps, barks, and has
a mournful cry like that of the peacock. He varies his tones also
according as he is affected. He has tones expressive of desire, sorrow,
and pain; the latter of which he never uses but when shot or deprived
of some member, for he complains of no other wound, and like the wolf,
when attacked with cudgels only, he never utters a sound, but defends
himself with bravery and courage, though in obstinate silence until
the last gasp. He bites dangerously and with such determined fury that
it is difficult to make him quit his hold. His yelping is a kind of
quick barking, which he generally terminates by raising his voice and
resembling the cry of a peacock. In winter, especially during frost, he
yelps continually, but in the summer he is almost entirely mute, and
at this season he sheds his hair. The skin of young foxes, or those
taken in summer, are held in little esteem. The flesh of the fox is
not so bad as that of the wolf; dogs, and even men, eat it in autumn,
especially if he has been fattened with grapes; and in winter good
furs are made of his skin. He sleeps so sound that he may be closely
approached without being awakened; he sleeps in a round position like
a dog, but when he only means to rest, he stretches out his hind legs
and lies flat upon his belly. In this posture he watches for birds as
they perch on the hedges, who no sooner perceive him, than they set up
shrill cries to warn their neighbours against their mortal enemy: the
jays and magpies in particular will follow him for some hundred paces,
constantly repeating their cries as a warning. The fox has a very
disagreeable odour, which makes it necessary to keep them in stables
at a distance from the house, and this perhaps might be the reason why
those I reared were less tame than the wolf, with whom this precaution
was unnecessary. At the age of five or six months the young foxes began
to chace the ducks and fowls, upon which account I was obliged to chain
them, and although I kept these very foxes for more than two years,
they never attempted to touch a fowl while they were so confined; a
live hen was frequently fixed near them for a whole night, and although
they had previously been kept short of food, they never forget they
were chained, and the hen invariably remained unmolested by them.

The fox is so subject to the influence of climate, that the species
are almost as numerous as of any domestic animal. The generality of
French foxes are red, some few are grey, but all have the tip of their
tail white; the latter are sometimes called in Burgundy _coal-foxes_,
from having very black feet. In the northern countries there are foxes
of all colours; black, blue, dark and light grey, white, white with
reddish legs, white with black heads, white with the end of the tails
black, red with the throat and belly white, and lastly with a stripe
of black along the back and another crossing it at the shoulders; of
these the throats are also black and they are larger than the others.
The common kind are most generally diffused; they are not only in
Europe, but throughout northern and central Asia and in America; but
in Africa and the countries near the equator they are very rare. Those
who say they have seen them at Calcutta and other southern provinces,
must have taken the jackall for the fox. Aristotle falls into a similar
error, when he says, the foxes of Egypt were smaller than those of
Greece; those little Egyptian foxes being only polecats, whose stench
is intolerable. They are evidently the natives of cold climates, both
from their not being affected by extreme cold and their living in the
countries adjacent to both poles. The hair of the white fox is not much
esteemed, because the hairs fall easily off; the silver-grey is better,
and the blue and striped are prized on account of their rarity, but the
black is the most valuable, and yields to none but the sable. There are
foxes in Spitzbergen, Greenland, Lapland, and in Canada; in the latter
place there are some of the striped species, the common kind are not so
red as those in France, but their hair is longer and more plentiful.


SUPPLEMENT.

Some travellers assert that the heads and feet of the Greenland foxes
resemble those of dogs, and that they bark like them; that they are
of various colours, such as white, grey and blue, and that they live
upon eggs, birds, flies, bees, and whatever they can procure from the
holes of the rocks in the sea. At Kamtschatka there are some of a dark
chesnut, others red with black bellies, and others of a dark grey, all
of which have thick coats of hair very glossy and beautiful.

In Norway there are white, red, and black foxes, and also some
with black lines along the back. Pontoppidan, who delights in the
marvellous, relates several wonderful tales of these animals, and adds
that they frequently catch lobsters with their tails.


THE BADGER.

The Badger is an indolent, diffident, solitary animal, who retires to
the most secret places, and there digs for himself a subterraneous
residence. He not only shuns society but even the light, spending
three-fourths of life in his obscure retreat, and never venturing out
but in search of food. He burrows the ground with great facility, as
his body is elongated, his legs short, and the claws, those especially
of his fore feet, are very long and compact; his habitation is often
at a considerable distance from the surface, and the passage to it
always oblique and winding. The fox, who is less expert at digging,
often benefits from the labours of the badger; unable to force him
to quit his retreat, he often drives him from it by stratagem. He
stands sentinel, and defiles it with his ordure, which proves an
infallible expedient. The badger gone, he takes possession, enlarges,
and accommodates it for his own purpose. Though forced to remove, the
badger leaves not the country, but digs himself a new habitation at a
little distance, from which he never goes out but at night, even then
not far, and returns upon the smallest appearance of danger. In this
precaution alone consists his safety, for his legs being very short
the dogs soon overtake him. Upon being attacked he throws himself
backwards, and as his legs, claws, jaws, and teeth are very strong,
he is enabled to fight with obstinacy, and it is seldom that he dies
unrevenged.

Formerly, when badgers were more common, terriers were trained up to
hunt and take them in their burrows; but this was no easy task, as
his mode of defence is to retire, and doing so, to undermine great
quantities of earth, either to stop up the passage or bury the dogs
under it. The only certain way of taking him is to open the hole
above, after the dogs have driven him to the extremity. He is generally
taken hold of with pincers, and then muzzled to prevent his biting.
I have had several brought me taken in this manner, some of which I
kept a long time. The young ones are easily tamed; they will play with
dogs, and follow the person from whom they receive their food; but the
old ones always retain their savage dispositions. They are neither
mischievous nor voracious like the fox and the wolf, yet they are
carnivorous; they prefer raw meat, but will eat flesh, eggs, cheese,
butter, bread, fish, fruit, nuts, grain, roots, &c. They sleep the
whole night and three parts of the day, yet they are not subject to a
lethargic torpor during the winter, like the dormouse, or mountain rat;
this makes them very fat, although they eat moderately, and they can go
several days without food.

They keep their holes extremely clean, nor ever defile them with their
ordure. The male is seldom found with the female; when the latter is
about to bring forth she collects a quantity of herbage, which having
bundled up she trails along, between her feet, to the bottom of her
hole, where she converts it into a commodious bed for herself and
young ones; she brings forth in the summer, and generally has three
or four at a time; she nourishes them at first with her milk, but very
soon inures them to such food as she can provide. For them she seizes
young rabbits, field-mice, lizards, grass-hoppers, takes birds' eggs
from their nests, and uncovers bee-hives, where they are buried, and
carries away their honey; all which she carries to her brood, whom
she often brings to the mouth of the hole, in order to feed or suckle
them. These animals are naturally chilly; and those reared in the house
will scarcely ever quit the fire side, which they will approach so
close as frequently to burn their feet, which are not easily cured.
They are very subject to the mange, and will infect those dogs which
penetrate their burrows, unless they are carefully washed. The hare of
the badger is always filthy; between the anus and the tail there is an
opening about an inch deep, but which has no communication with the
interior of the animal, whence an oily ill-scented liquid is constantly
emitted, which the animal is fond of sucking. Its flesh has not a very
bad taste; and of its skin are made coarse furs, collars for dogs,
trappings for horses, &c.

In this species we know of no varieties; and our researches have been
fruitless to discover such as have been said to exist; indeed some of
the differences are stated to be so trivial that they cannot fairly be
considered as distinct from the others; besides those species in which
there are actual varieties are usually very abundant, and generally
diffused, whereas that of the badger is one of the least numerous and
most limited. We are not certain that they are to be found in America,
unless we regard as a variety the animal sent from New York, of which
M. Brisson has given a short description, under the name of the White
Badger. They exist not in Africa, for the animal from the Cape of Good
Hope, which Kolbe describes under the name of the Stinking Badger,
belongs to a different species; and we doubt whether the Fossa of
Madagascar, mentioned by Flacourt, be an actual badger, although he
says they resemble those in France. Other travellers take no notice
of it, and Dr. Shaw even says it is unknown in Barbary. It seems,
likewise, not to exist in Asia; and that the badger was unknown in
Greece is plain from Aristotle's not mentioning it, and its having
no name in the Grecian language. This animal, therefore, is a native
of the temperate climates of Europe, has never been diffused beyond
Spain, France, Italy, Germany, England, Poland, and Sweden, and even in
those countries it is not very common. There are not only no varieties,
but the badger (_fig. 64._) does not approach any other species. Its
characteristics are striking and singular; to it exclusively belong the
alternate stripes upon its head, and the kind of bag under its tail;
its body is also nearly white above and black below, whereas in all
other animals their bellies are always lighter than their backs.

_Engraved for Barr's Buffon._

[Illustration: FIG. 64. _Badger._]

[Illustration: FIG. 65. _Otter._]


THE OTTER.

The Otter (_fig. 65._) is a voracious animal, but more fond of fish
than flesh, and is seldom found but at the sides of lakes and rivers.
He swims with more facility than the beaver, who has membranes on his
hind feet only, and whose toes on the fore feet are separate, whereas
the otter has membranes on all his feet; and he can scarcely walk
faster than he swims. He never ventures to the sea like the beaver,
but swims up and down the rivers to considerable distances. Although
he can remain a long time under water be cannot be properly called an
amphibious animal; viz. one equally capable of living in air or in
water; his conformation is not calculated for his living in the latter
element, and he requires to breathe as much as any terrestrial animal.
If they happen to be entangled in a net while pursuing a fish they
drown, and this evidently for want of time to destroy a sufficient
quantity of the meshes to effect their escape. His teeth are like those
of the polecat, though larger and stronger in proportion to its size.
For want of fish, frogs, water-rats, or other food, he will eat the
young branches and bark of aquatic trees; and in the spring he will
eat the young grass. He is as little afraid of cold as moisture. It
couples in winter and brings forth in March, and commonly three or four
at a time. In general young animals are pretty; but the young otters
are not so handsome as the old: from the awkwardness of its motions
deformity of figure, and a kind of mechanical cry, which it repeats
almost without intermission, one should suspect it a stupid animal.
He, however, becomes industrious with age, at least sufficiently so to
wage a successful war with the fishes, who with respect to instinct
and sentiment, are greatly inferior to other animals; and yet I can
scarcely believe he has, I will not say the talents, but the habitudes
of the beaver, such as always going up against the stream, in order to
return more easily down the current when loaded with his prey; that of
fitting up his house, and lining it with boards to exclude the water;
that of laying in a quantity of fish against a future scarcity; and
lastly, that of his being rendered so tame and subservient as to fish
for his master, and even taking his booty into the very kitchen. All I
know is, that the otter does not dig his own habitation, that he fixes
his residence in the first hole he finds, under the roots of poplars or
willows, in the clefts of rocks, and even among piles of floating wood;
and in those they bring forth their young; where we also find heads
and bones of fishes; that they frequently change their residence; that
they drive away their young at the end of six weeks or two months; that
those I attempted to tame endeavoured to bite, though then feeding on
milk, and unable to chew fish; that a few days after they became more
mild, probably from having become sick and weak; that so far from being
easily habituated to a domestic life, all those that I endeavoured to
rear died very young; that, in fine, the otter is of a savage and cruel
disposition; that when he gets into a fish-pond he does the same as a
polecat in a hen-house, that is kill more than he can eat, and then
carry them away in his mouth.

Though the otter is not known to shed his hair, yet his winter coat is
browner than in summer, sells for more money, and makes a very good
fur. Some people eat their flesh, which has a disagreeable fishy taste;
their retreats are always infected with the stench of fish, which they
have suffered to rot around them. Dogs have no aversion to chace the
otter whom they easily overtake when at a distance from his hole or
the water; when seized he defends himself obstinately, bites cruelly,
and sometimes with such force as to snap their leg bones, and he never
quits his hold as long as he retains his breath. The beaver, however,
though not remarkable for strength, drives the otters away, and will
not suffer them to dwell near his residence.

Though this species is not very numerous, they are to be met with in
Europe from Sweden to Naples, and also in North America. They were well
known to the Greeks, and are probably to be found in all temperate
climates, especially in those places which abound with water; for he
can inhabit neither burning sands, nor dry desarts; and he equally
avoids rivers which are sparingly inhabited, or too much frequented. I
do not believe that they exist in hot countries; for the jiya, which is
found at Cayenne, and called the Brasilian otter, though approximate,
is of a different species. The North-American otter resembles the
European in every respect, except that his fur is more black and
beautiful than those found in Sweden or Muscovy.


SUPPLEMENT.

It is asserted by Pontoppidan, that the otters in Norway frequent the
salt, as well as the fresh waters; that they live in the holes of
rocks, and that they are drawn out by imitating their voices which is a
sort of whistle; and he further says, that one that was tamed and fed
on milk constantly, went into the water, and brought fish home with him
to the house.

M. de la Borde has informed me there are three species of otters in
Cayenne, being of different sizes: the largest weighing at least 50
pounds, and the smallest not above 3 or 4. He says they are so numerous
in Guinea, as to be seen in troops, and so fierce that they will
encounter the dogs, but that they are easily tamed and become very
familiar. M. Aublit, and M. Oliver, both confirm this opinion of M.
de la Borde, adding they have seen them considerably larger than he
has mentioned; and I have received one from Guinea, which appears to
be the small one he alludes to; it is no more than seven inches long,
measuring from the tip of the nose to the tail, the latter of which is
six inches long, its head and body is marked with regular dark spots
mingled with a light yellow, its belly white, its tail brown, excepting
just at the extremity, which is white also; its ears appear to be
proportionally larger than the common otter, and its legs shorter.


THE MARTEN.

The generality of naturalists have considered the marten and
pine-weasel, as animals of the same species. That they copulate
together is a circumstance which, unsupported by any other testimony
than Gesner and Ray, who only assert it on the authority of Albertus,
appears to me so doubtful, that I am inclined to think that they
have no intercourse, but form two distinct and separate species;
for if the pine-weasel were only a wild marten, or the marten only
a tame pine-weasel, the former would uniformly preserve the same
characteristics, and the latter would vary; as in the wild cat, which
always remain the same, and the domestic one assumes all sorts of
colours. The marten, on the contrary, never varies; its characteristics
are as peculiar and permanent as those of the pine-weasel; this alone
is sufficient to prove they are not simple varieties, but different
species. Indeed there is not the smallest reason for terming the
marten a domestic animal, since he is in no degree more tame than the
fox, who, like him, approaches the habitations of men in search of
prey, nor has he any more communication with man than any other animal
whom we call wild and savage. Equally in disposition and temperament
does the marten differ from the pine-weasel; the latter shuns open
countries, confines itself to the bosom of the forest, and is never in
great numbers but in cold climates, while the former approaches our
habitations, even takes up his residence in old buildings, hay-lofts,
and in holes in the wall. Besides, this species is diffused in great
numbers over all the temperate countries, and are even found in hot
ones, as Madagascar, and the Maldive Islands, and is never met with in
the northern regions.

The marten has a sharp countenance, a lively eye, supple limbs,
flexible body, all its movements are quick, and he rather leaps
and bounds than walks; with great facility he climbs walls, enters
pigeon-houses, and devours eggs, pigeons, fowls, mice, rats, moles,
and birds in their nests. I reared and kept one of them a considerable
time. He was easily tamed to a certain degree, but appeared incapable
of attachment, and retained so much of his wild disposition, that I
could not suffer him to go at large. He made war upon the rats, and
harassed the poultry whenever they came within his reach. Though
fastened by the middle of the body, he often got loose; at first he
went to no great distance, would return in a few hours, but without
testifying the smallest joy or affection to any one person, and being
hungry he would call for food like a cat or dog; his excursions became
afterwards more and more long, and at length he finally disappeared. He
was then about a year and a half old; seemingly at the age when Nature
had assumed her full ascendancy. Salad and herbs excepted, nothing
eatable came amiss to him; he was very fond of honey, and preferred
hemp-seed to every other grain. We remarked that he drank frequently,
that he sometimes slept two days without intermission, and at others
he would keep awake for two or three days together; that before going
to sleep he would fold himself up in a round posture, and cover his
head with his tail; that while awake he was in a perpetual motion, so
violent and troublesome, that even had he not worried the fowls, there
would have been a necessity for chaining him to prevent his breaking
every thing to pieces. I had several other martens of a more advanced
age, which had been taken in traps, but they remained totally wild, bit
every person who attempted to touch them, and would eat nothing but raw
flesh.

This animal, it is said, brings forth as often as cats; and as we
find young ones from spring to autumn, we may, indeed, presume that
she breeds more than once a year; and though the younger females do
not produce more than three or four, those more advanced in age have
six or seven at a time. When about to be delivered they take up their
residence in some hay-loft, or in the holes of a wall, which they
stuff with straw or grass, in clefts of rocks, or in the hollow trunk
of an old tree. When disturbed in their habitations they remove their
young, of which the growth is very quick, for the one I reared had
nearly attained his full growth at the expiration of the first year;
from hence it may be inferred their lives do not exceed eight or ten.
Its smell is not very disagreeable, but like that of counterfeit musk.
Both the pine-weasel and marten, like several other animals, have
interior vesicles which contain a strong-scented substance, like that
which the civet furnishes. The flesh in some degree partakes of this
odour, yet that of the pine-weasel is not altogether unpalatable: the
flesh of the marten is more disagreeable, and its skin is of far less
estimation.


SUPPLEMENT.

There is an animal in Guiana very similar to the common marten, its
principal difference consists in its being some trifle larger, and in
having its hair sprinkled with black and white, a shorter tail, and
spotted on the head; there is also a material difference in the toes,
those of the latter animal bearing a much greater resemblance to that
of a rat or squirrel than to the toes of a marten.


THE PINE-WEASEL.

The pine-weasel, or as it is also called, the yellow breasted marten,
is a native of the northern countries, where the quantity of furs
produced by this species alone is really astonishing. In temperate
climates they are seldom met with, and in warm ones never. There are
some few in Burgundy, and also in the forests of Fontainbleau, but
in general they are as rare in France as the other marten is common.
There are none of them in England, because in that country they have
no extensive woods. They are alike averse to open and inhabited
countries; they remain in the recesses of the forests, and do not
conceal themselves among rocks, but range through the thicket or climb
the trees. They live by the chace, and destroy a prodigious quantity
of birds, whose nest they seek, to devour the eggs; the squirrel and
dormouse likewise become their prey, and they are also very fond of
honey. They not only differ from the marten by avoiding the habitations
of men, but also in their manner of endeavouring to escape in the
chace. When the former finds himself pursued, he makes to his favourite
hay-loft or hole; but the latter humours the chace for some time, and
then will climb up the trunk of some tree, and from thence take a view
of his pursuers as they pass along. The track which he leaves in the
snow has the appearance of being made by some large animal, because
he always leaps and his two feet strike the ground at the same time.
Though rather larger than the marten his head is shorter, but his
legs are longer, and consequently he runs with more ease. His neck is
yellow, whereas that of the marten is white; his hair is also finer,
more thick, and less subject to shed. The female does not prepare a bed
for her young, and yet she lodges them very commodiously. Squirrels
form nests on the tops of trees with as much skill as birds; when the
pine-weasel is near her time she climbs to some squirrel's nest,
drives away the owner, enlarges it, and there deposits her young; she
sometimes takes the nests of owls or buzzards, or holes in old trees,
from which she soon dislodges the woodpeckers, and other birds. She
brings forth in spring, and never more than two or three; the young
ones come into the world with their eyes closed, but they nevertheless
soon acquire their full growth. The mother brings them eggs and birds
until they are able to go out, and then she takes them abroad to hunt
with her. Birds are so well acquainted with their enemies that they
send forth the same notice of danger upon seeing this animal as when
they perceive a fox; and a proof that it proceeds more from hatred than
fear, is their not only giving this alarm, but also following these and
all other carnivorous animals, and never doing so at the approach of
the stag, roe-buck, hare, &c.

Pine-weasels are as common in the northern parts of America as they are
in Europe and Asia. They are found in Canada, at Hudson's Bay, and as
far north in Asia as the kingdom of Tonquin and the empire of China.
They must not, however, be confounded with the sable, an animal whose
fur is much more precious. The sable is black, but the pine-weasel is
brown and yellow; the brown part of the skin is the most in estimation,
and that extends along the back to the very extremity of the tail.

_Engraved for Barr's Buffon._

[Illustration: FIG. 66. _Pole Cat._]

[Illustration: FIG. 67. _Ferret._]


THE POLECAT.

This animal, (_fig. 66._) greatly resembles the marten in temperament,
disposition, habits, and form of its body. Like him he approaches our
dwellings, mounts to their roofs, and settles himself in hay-lofts,
barns, and unfrequented places; from whence he steals by night into
farm-yards, aviaries, and pigeon-houses, where, without making so
much noise as the marten, he does more mischief; he twists off all
their heads, and then carries them away, one by one, to his hole or
dwelling. If, as it often happens, he cannot convey them away entire,
from the smallness of the entrance, he eats the brains on the spot, and
then retires with their heads. He is particularly fond of honey, will
attack the hives in winter, and force the bees to abandon them. They
are scarcely ever found at any great distance from inhabited places.
They copulate in spring, when the males will fiercely contend on the
roofs and sheds for the female. They then leave her, and go into the
fields or woods for the summer, but she remains in her dwelling, and
does not take her young ones out till towards the end of the summer;
she produces from three to five, does not suckle them long, but soon
accustoms them to suck blood, and the eggs of birds.

In towns they chiefly subsist on prey, and in the fields or woods
on what the chace affords them; when in the latter they fix their
residence in the burrows of rabbits, clefts of rocks, or trunks of
hollow trees, from whence they issue at night in quest of the nests
of partridges, larks, and quails; they climb trees to get at those of
other birds; are constantly on the watch for rats, field-mice, and
moles, and are at continual war with the rabbit, who cannot escape,
as they enter their burrows with ease. A single family of polecats is
sufficient to destroy a whole warren; and indeed this would be a simple
method of diminishing their number where they are found too numerous.

The polecat is rather less than the marten; it has a shorter tail, a
sharper snout, and its hair is more black and bushy. It has some white
hair on its forehead, and about the nose and mouth. They differ very
much in voice, that of the marten being sharp and loud, and that of the
polecat deep and hollow, but both of them, as well as the squirrel,
have a harsh, angry growl, which they often repeat when irritated; the
odour they send forth is also very different, that of the former being
rather agreeable, but the latter to the last degree fetid. When heated
or enraged it sends forth an intolerable stench to a considerable
distance. The dogs will not eat its flesh, and its skin, though good in
itself, is of little value, because it can never be entirely divested
of its natural odour; which odour proceeds from two little vesicles,
situated near the anus, which contain and exclude an unctuous matter
highly disagreeable, not only in the polecat but in the ferret,
weasel, badger, &c. but which constitutes a perfume in the civet-cat,
pine-weasel and several other animals.

The polecat seems to belong to the temperate climates. Few of them are
found in the northern regions, and they are more scarce than the marten
in the southern. The Stinkard of America is a different animal; nor
does the species of polecat appear to extend further than from the
confines of Italy to Poland; it is certain they fear the cold, and they
resort to houses in the winter, and their footsteps are never seen in
the snow either in the woods or fields distant from human dwellings,
and we may fairly conclude they are averse from extreme heat as they
are never found in the southern regions.


THE FERRET.

Some authors have doubted whether the Ferret (_fig. 67._) and polecat
did not belong to the same species. Perhaps the resemblance there
sometimes is in their colour first gave rise to this doubt. The
polecat, however, is a wild animal and a native of temperate climates,
whereas the ferret is a native of warm countries, and cannot exist
even in France, but in a domestic state. The ferret is preferred to
the polecat for driving rabbits from their burrows, because he is more
easily tamed. They both have a strong and disagreeable smell, yet as
they never intermix, and differ in a number of essential characters,
they may with safety be pronounced two distinct species. The ferret has
a longer and thinner body, a narrower head, and a sharper snout than
the polecat. It has not the same sagacity in providing its subsistence,
and unless taken care of and nourished in the house, it cannot even
exist, at least in our climates, for those which have been lost in the
burrows of rabbits have never multiplied, but most probably perished
by the severity of the winter. The ferret also, like other domestic
animals, varies in colour, and is as common in hot countries as the
polecat is scarce. The female is conspicuously smaller than the male;
and when in season, Gesner says, she has even been known to die if
her desires were not gratified. They are reared in casks or chests,
where it is usual to furnish them with beds of flax. They sleep almost
perpetually, but no sooner are they awake than they eagerly seek for
food, which consists of bran, bread, milk, &c. The females bring forth
twice a year, and go six weeks with their young. Some of them eat their
young almost as soon as they are brought forth, are immediately in
season again, and then have three litters in the year, each of which
consists of from five to nine.

This animal is by nature a mortal enemy to the rabbit. If even a dead
one is presented to a young ferret, although he have never seen a
rabbit before, he flies at and tears it with fury; but if it be alive,
he seizes it by the nose or throat, and sucks its blood. When let into
the burrows of rabbits, it is necessary to muzzle him, that he may
not kill them in their holes, but only oblige them to run out that
they may be entrapped in the nets; besides, if he is suffered to go in
unmuzzled, there is great danger of his being lost; for having sucked
the blood of the rabbit, he will fall asleep; and smoking the hole is
not always a successful expedient to bring him back, because as the
burrows frequently communicate with each other, he is apt to be the
more bewildered the more he is surrounded with smoke. The ferret is
also made use of by boys in searching for bird's nests in the holes of
walls or trees.

Strabo says the ferret was brought from Africa into Spain; which does
not appear void of foundation, as Spain is the native climate of
rabbits, and the country where formerly these animals most abounded.
It is probable, therefore, that the rabbits having increased so much
as to become incommodious, the ferret was introduced to diminish them,
instead of encouraging the race of polecats, from which no advantage
could have accrued but the death of the rabbit, whereas by the ferret
some benefit is also obtained by the hunter. The ferret, though easily
tamed and rendered docile, is exceedingly irascible; he has always an
ill smell, but more so when heated or irritated. He has lively but
inflamed eyes; all his movements are quick, and is besides so strong,
that he will easily master a rabbit three or four times as big as
himself.

Notwithstanding the authority of interpreters and commentators, there
are still doubts whether the ferret be the _ictis_ of the Greeks.
"The ictis (says Aristotle) is a kind of wild weasel, smaller than
the little Maltese dog, but resembling the weasel in its hair, form,
whiteness in the under parts of its body, and also in its cunning.
Though easily tamed, it does mischief among the bee-hives, being
extremely fond of honey. It will also attack birds, and like the cat,
its genital member is bony." It appears first a contradiction, in
saying the ictis is a species of wild weasel, which is easily tamed,
for with us the common weasel is not to be tamed at all; secondly,
the ferret, though larger than the weasel, cannot be compared with
the lap-dog in point of size; thirdly, it is evident that the ferret
does not possess the cunning of the weasel, nor is it even capable of
artifice; and lastly, it does no mischief to bee-hives, nor is it fond
of honey. I enquired of M. de la Roy, intendant of the royal forests,
as to this last fact, and this was his answer: "_M. de Buffon may be
assured that the ferret has no absolute inclination for honey; but if
kept on slender diet, it may be forced to eat it. For four days I fed
some with bread soaked in water mixed with honey; but though they ate
pretty large quantities of it the last two days, the weakest of them
was become sensibly more thin._" This is not the first time M. de la
Roy has furnished me with facts for the advantage of this work. Having
no ferret in my possession, I made the like experiment on the ermine,
by giving him nothing but honey to eat, and milk to drink; but he died
in a few days. It appears, then, that neither the ferret nor ermine
are fond of honey, like the ictis of the ancients, which leads me to
think that the word ictis is nothing more than a generic name; or if
it denotes any particular species, it is rather that of the marten
or polecat; both of which possess the cunning of the weasel, attack
bee-hives and are particularly fond of honey.

_Engraved for Barr's Buffon._

[Illustration: FIG. 68. _Pine Weasel._]

[Illustration: FIG. 69. _Weasel._]

[Illustration: FIG. 71. _Roselet._]

[Illustration: FIG. 70. _Ermine._]


THE WEASEL.

The Weasel (_fig. 69._) is as frequent in warm and temperate climates,
as it is scarce in cold ones; the ermine (_fig. 70._) on the contrary,
is numerous in the northern, is scarcely to be met with in the
temperate, and never in the warm climates. These animals, therefore,
form two distinct species. The circumstance who may have given rise
to their being confounded, was possibly our common weasel being
sometimes white during winter: in this characteristic they are alike;
but there are others in which they widely differ. The ermine, red in
the summer, and white in winter, has, at all times, the end of the
tail black; whereas the end of the weasel's tail is yellow, even of
that which turns white in the winter; it is besides much smaller, and
its tail is shorter; nor does the weasel shun the habitations of man
like the ermine, to reside in woods and deserts. I have kept both
species together, but found no reason to suppose that animals which
differ in climate, temperament, and disposition, would intermix. Among
the weasels, it is true, there are some larger than others; but this
difference never exceeds an inch in the whole length of the body; but
the ermine is full two inches longer than the largest weasel. Neither
of them are to be tamed, but must always be kept in an iron cage.
Neither of them will eat honey, nor ransack the bee-hives, like the
marten and polecat; and therefore, the ermine is not the wild weasel,
the ictis of Aristotle, which he says is easily tamed, and very fond
of honey. So far are the weasel and ermine from being easily tamed,
that they will not even eat if taken notice of, but are in continual
agitations, endeavouring to conceal themselves; and in order to
preserve them it is necessary they should be supplied with a parcel of
wool or flax, in which they may hide themselves, and which they make a
receptacle for whatever is given them, and seldom ever eat but in the
night; and rather than eat fresh meat they keep it for two or three
days that it may corrupt. They sleep three parts of the day, and even
when at liberty they set apart the night for the search of their prey.
When a weasel enters a hen-roost he never meddles with the cocks or old
hens, but singles out the pullets and young chicks, which he kills by
a single bite on the head, and then carries away the whole, one after
another; he also destroys the eggs, and sucks them with incredible
avidity. In winter they generally reside in granaries, or hay-lofts,
where the females often continue in the spring, and bring forth their
young among the hay and straw; and during this period she makes war
with the rats and mice with more success than the cats, since she
follows them into their holes, and so renders it impossible for them
to escape; she also attacks and destroys the pigeons in their houses,
and sparrows, and other birds, in their nests. In summer they remove to
some distance from the houses, always choosing low grounds, about mills
and streams, hiding themselves among the bushes, to catch the birds;
they sometimes take up their abodes in old willows, where the females
bring forth their young, for which she prepares a bed of grass, straw,
and leaves; she litters in the spring, and it generally consists of
from three to five. They are brought forth with their eyes closed but
they very soon acquire growth and strength sufficient to follow the
mother to the chace. They attack adders, water-rats, moles, field mice,
&c. and traversing the meadows devour quails and their eggs. They have
not a regular walk, but bound forward by unequal and precipitate leaps;
when inclined to mount a tree they make a spring, by which they are
elevated several feet at once; and thus they also act when they attempt
to seize a bird.

These animals have also a very strong and disagreeable smell, which is
much worse in summer than winter, and when pursued or irritated they
infect the air to a great distance. They always move with all possible
silence, and never exert their voices but when they are hurt, of which
the sound is rough, and very expressive of anger. As their own odour is
very bad they seem to feel no inconvenience from any foreign stench.
A peasant in my neighbourhood took three new-littered weasels out of
the carcass of a wolf, which had been suspended by its hind legs from
a branch of a tree; for though the wolf was almost rotten, the female
weasel had brought grass and leaves, and made a bed for her young in
the thorax of this putrid carcass.


SUPPLEMENT.

The Comtesse Noyan declares in a letter which she favoured me with,
that I have done great injustice to the character of the weasel, in
saying that it is not to be tamed, since she had reared one who would
lick her hand when she gave it food, and was as fond and familiar as
a dog or squirrel. And N. G. de Mornas assures me that he trained one
who would follow him about; and he says that they are to be tamed by
frequent stroking them on their backs, and beating them when they offer
to bite.


THE ERMINE.

The weasel with a black tail is called the Ermine or Roselet (_fig.
71._) the ermine when it is white, and the roselet when it is red or
yellowish. Though not so numerous as the common weasel, yet many of
them are found in ancient forests, and sometimes during winter in the
neighbourhood of woods. They are easy to be distinguished at all times,
as the end of their tails are always black, and the extremities of
their ears and feet white.

We have little to add, with respect to this animal, to those
observations we made in treating of the weasel. I kept one for more
than a twelvemonth, which to the last remained wild and also retained
its noisome odour. It is a pretty little animal, and but for the
last circumstance, an agreeable one; it has lively eyes, a pleasing
countenance, and so rapid in its motions that it is impossible for the
eye to follow them. It was always fed with eggs and flesh, but the
latter he would not eat until it became putrid. It disliked honey, and
having kept it three days without any other food, it died after eating
a very little. The skin of this animal is very valuable; it is far
more beautiful than that of the white rabbit; but it very soon changes
somewhat yellow; though indeed the ermines of these climates have
always a yellow shade.

Ermines abound in the north, particularly in Norway, Russia, and
Lapland; where, as every where else, they are red in summer, and white
in winter. They feed upon a species of rats and other small animals,
very numerous in Norway and Lapland, and of which we shall hereafter
treat. They are scarce in temperate, and never found in warm climates.
The animal of the Cape, which Kolbe calls by that name, and whose
flesh he says is wholesome and well-tasted, is not an ermine, but a
different species. The weasels of Cayenne, mentioned by M. Barrere, and
the grey ermines of Tartary and the North of China, mentioned by some
travellers, are also animals different from our weasels and ermines.


SUPPLEMENT.

It is remarked by Pontoppidan that, in Norway, the ermines live among
the fragments of rocks; that he catches mice, is very fond of eggs,
and that when the weather is calm, he will swim across the sea to the
neighbouring islands for the sake of sea fowls which are there in great
numbers. He says it is asserted that when the female brings forth upon
an island, she will bring her young to the continent upon a piece
of wood, directing it with her snout; that this animal though very
small, will kill bears and rein-deer, which it does by surprising them
when asleep and fastening to their ears, where he holds so fast that
they cannot disengage him; he also springs upon the backs of eagles
and heath-cocks, and will suffer them to take him up in the air, from
whence by sucking their blood he soon forces them to descend.


THE GRISON.

This animal is added by our author in his Supplement, it having been
introduced in a Dutch Edition of his work, where he says, it is thus
mentioned by M. Allamand. "This little animal, said he, was sent to me
from Surinam, and was named in the catalogue grey-weasel, from which
I derived Grison. (_fig. 72._) The upper part of its body is brown,
but the hair having white points, it has the appearance of being a
brownish grey; the throat and neck is a bright grey; its nose, and
the lower part of its body and legs are black, which forms a singular
contrast with its head and neck; it is about seven inches long, its
head is large in proportion to its body; its ears are nearly a half
circle, its eyes are large, it has strong teeth, five toes upon each
foot, yellow claws, and a long tail which ends with a point. It more
nearly resembles the weasel than any other animal, but yet it certainly
belongs to some other species. I cannot find it mentioned by any
traveller, and many persons who had resided at Surinam to whom I shewed
it, declared it to be a stranger to them; from which it is evident,
it must be a scarce animal, even in its own country, and lives in
unfrequented places; of course I have not been enabled to obtain any
further particulars of it."

_Engraved for Barr's Buffon._

[Illustration: FIG. 72. _Grison._]

[Illustration: FIG. 73. _Squirrel._]


THE SQUIRREL.

The squirrel (_fig. 73._) is a pretty little animal, is only half wild,
and from its gentleness, docility, and even innocence of manners,
is almost entitled to an exemption from this class. He is neither
carnivorous nor injurious, though he sometimes seizes on birds; his
common food consists of fruit, almonds, nuts, beech mast, and acorns;
he is handsome, lively, alert, and industrious; his eyes are full of
fire, he has a good countenance, nervous body, and supple limbs; the
beauty of his form is heightened by a spreading tail, resembling a
plume of feathers, which he raises above his head, to form a kind of
shade against the sun. The under part of his body is furnished with
an apparatus to the full as remarkable, and which indicate strong
generative faculties. The squirrel may be said to be less a quadruped
than any other four-footed animal. He generally holds himself almost
upright, using his fore feet like hands in conveying food to his
mouth. Instead of hiding under the earth he is continually in the air,
approaching the birds by his lightness and activity, like them he
dwells upon the tops of trees, traverses the forests, by leaping from
branch to branch, builds himself a nest, picks up grains and seed,
drinks the dew, and does not descend to the earth but when the trees
are violently agitated by the wind. He is never found in fields nor
open countries; he approaches not the habitations of men, remains not
among bushes and underwood, but resides among the lofty trees of the
forest. He avoids the water still more than the earth; and it is even
asserted, that when he wants to cross a river, or stream, he uses the
bark of a tree as a boat, and makes his tail supply the place of a
rudder and sails. He does not sleep, like the dormouse, during winter,
but is always awake and lively, insomuch, that if only the trunk of
the tree is touched, on which he may be reposing, he instantly flies
to another, or conceals himself under a branch. He collects a quantity
of nuts during the summer, which he deposits in the hollow part of
some old tree, and has recourse to them in the winter; which even then
he will endeavour to obtain by scratching off the snow as he passes
along. His voice is more shrill and loud than that of the marten; he
has besides a loud growl of discontent, which he makes when irritated.
As his motions are too quick to walk he generally leaps, or bounds
forward; and such is the sharpness of his claws, and agility of body,
that he instantaneously climbs a beech tree let the bark be ever so
smooth.

During the fine nights in summer the squirrels may be heard crying as
they chase each other among the trees. Seemingly averse from the heat
of the sun they remain all day in their holes or nests, from which they
come at night to feed, copulate, exercise and divert themselves. Their
nests are clean, warm, impenetrable to rain, and generally formed where
the large branches fork off into small ones. They begin its formation
by carrying small twigs, which they interweave with moss; this they
repeatedly press and stamp upon to give it capacity and solidity to
hold themselves and their young; they only leave one opening, which
is near the top, and that so small as to be hardly sufficient for
them to go in and out; over the opening is a kind of roof, in a conic
form, which shelters the whole, and occasions the rain to run off on
each side. The females usually produce three or four at a litter; they
come in season in the spring, and bring forth about the end of May, or
beginning of June. They change their hair at the close of winter, and
the new hair is more red than that which they throw off; they comb and
dress it with their fore feet and teeth, are very cleanly, have no ill
smell, and their flesh is tolerably good to eat. The hair of their tail
is used to make brushes for painters, but their skin is of no value to
the furrier.

Several species approach that of the squirrel, though there are few
varieties in the species itself. Some few are of an ash-colour, but the
most of them are inclined to red. The _petits-gris_ are a different
species, and remain always grey. And, without mentioning the flying
squirrels, which are very different from the others, the white squirrel
of Cambaye, which is very small, that of Madagascar, called _tsitsihi_,
which is grey, and, as Flacourt says, is neither handsome nor easily
tamed, the white squirrel of Siam, the grey spotted squirrel of Bengal,
the streaked squirrel of Canada, the black squirrel, the large grey
squirrel of Virginia, the white striped squirrel of New Spain, the
white Siberian squirrel, the variegated squirrel, or _mus ponticus_,
the little American squirrel, those of Brasil and Barbary, the palmist,
&c. which form so many separate and distinct species from those which
we have been treating of, we shall find them all nearly the same.


SUPPLEMENT.

The squirrel is so very numerous in Siberia, that we may rather
suppose it to be a native of the northern than temperate regions. M.
Gmelin says, they take them there in traps baited with dry fish. M.
Aubry, curate of St. Louis, has an entire black squirrel sent him from
Martinico, and which had also little or no hair on its ears.

M. de la Borde mentions a species of squirrel at Guinea, which he
says is of a red colour, lives in the woods, feeds on grain, and is
about the size of a rat; is always seen alone, and is easily tamed.
But I very much doubt whether this is a real squirrel, from its being
found in so warm a climate. M. Kalm says there are several species in
Pennsylvania, that the smallest sort are the most handsome, and that
the larger kind are very destructive to the plantations of maize, and
that they will come in large bodies and destroy a whole field in a
single night, nay, that they are so mischievous, that a price is set
upon their heads. Their flesh is esteemed by the inhabitants, but no
value is put upon their skins. Their figures, modes, and manners, he
describes to be similar to those of Sweden, and states them to be more
numerous in Pennsylvania than formerly.

_Engraved for Barr's Buffon._

[Illustration: FIG. 74. _Rat._]

[Illustration: FIG. 75. _Water Rat._]

[Illustration: FIG. 76. _Mouse._]

[Illustration: FIG. 77. _Long tailed Field Mouse._]

[Illustration: FIG. 78. _Short tail'd Mouse_]


THE RAT.

If we descend by degrees from great to small, from strong to weak, we
find that Nature has uniformly maintained a balance throughout her
works; attentive only to the preservation of each species, she creates
a profusion of individuals, and supports by numbers those she has
formed of a diminutive size, and left unprovided with arms, courage, or
resources; she has not only enabled these inferior species to resist
and maintain their ground by their own numbers, but has added a kind of
supplement to each, by multiplying the neighbouring species. The rat
(_fig. 74._), the mouse (_fig. 76._), the field mouse (_fig. 77._),
the water-rat (_fig. 75._), the short-tailed field mouse (_fig. 78._),
the dormouse, the shrew mouse, with several others, which I shall not
mention here, because they do not belong to our climate, form so many
distinct and separate species, but yet so little varied, that should
any one chance to fail, its absence would be hardly perceptible. It is
this great number of approximate species that first gave naturalists
the idea of genera, an idea which can only be employed when we view
objects in the gross, but which vanishes when we apply it to reality,
or when we consider Nature minutely.

Men began by appropriating different names to objects which appeared
to them distinctly different, and at the same time, they gave general
denominations to such as seemed to resemble each other. Among
unenlightened nations, and in the infancy of languages, there are
hardly any but general names, or vague or ill-formed expressions for
objects of the same order, though in themselves highly different. Thus
the oak, beech, linden, fir, yew, pine, had at first no name but that
of tree; afterwards the oak, beech, and linden, were called oak, when
they came to be distinguished from the fir, pine, and yew, which in
like manner would be called fir. Particular names could proceed only
from a minute examination of each species, and of course those names
would be increased in proportion as the works of Nature were more
studied and better understood; the more they studied her, the more
generic and specific names would be introduced. To represent Nature,
therefore, by general denominations, or genera, is to refer us back
to the dark and infant state of human knowledge. Ignorance produced
genera, but science will ever continue to create proper names; and we
shall not be afraid of increasing the number whenever we have occasion
to delineate different species.

Under the generic name of rat several species of little animals have
been comprised and confounded; but we appropriate this name solely
to the common rat, which is of a blackish colour, and lives in our
houses; they generally inhabit barns and granaries, from whence, when
food is scarce they invade our dwellings. The rat is carnivorous, or
if the expression may be allowed, an omnivorous animal; he prefers
hard substances to soft ones, he gnaws wool, linen, and furniture
of all sorts; eats through wood, makes holes and hiding places in
walls, ceilings, and behind wainscots, from whence he issues in search
of food, and frequently returns with as much as he can drag along,
forming, especially when he has young to provide for, a magazine of
the whole. The females bring forth several times in the year, though
mostly in the summer, and have five or six at a time. They love warmth,
and in winter they generally shelter themselves near chimneys, or
among hay and straw. In defiance of cats, poison, and traps, these
animals multiply so much as frequently to do considerable damage.
In old country-houses, where great quantities of grain are kept, and
where neighbouring barns and hay-stacks favour their retreat and their
increase, they often become so numerous that the inhabitants are under
the necessity of quitting their dwellings, unless they happen to devour
each other, and this is no uncommon thing when they are straightened
for provisions; for in case of a famine being occasioned by their
numbers the strong kill the weak, open their heads, first eat the
brains, and then the rest of the body: the next day hostilities are
renewed in the same manner, nor do they suspend their havock until the
majority are destroyed; and this is the reason why, in a place that
has been for some time infested with rats, they seem to disappear of a
sudden, and return not for a long time. It is the same with field-mice,
whose prodigious increase is checked solely by their cruelties to each
other when provisions become scarce. Aristotle attributes their sudden
destruction to the effect of rains, but rats are not exposed to the
weather, and field-mice know well how to secure themselves from its
effects, for their subterraneous habitations are not even moist.

Rats are as lascivious as voracious; they have a kind of yelp in their
amours, and when they fight they cry. They prepare a bed for their
young, and almost immediately provide them with food; and when they
first quit their hole the mother watches, defends, and will even fight
the cats to save them. A large rat is more mischievous, and almost as
strong as a young cat; its fore-teeth are long and strong; and as the
cat does not bite hard, but is obliged to depend upon her claws, she
must not only be vigorous but well experienced in warfare. The weasel,
though smaller, is yet a more dangerous enemy, because he can follow
the rat into its hiding places: the combat between these two is often
sharp and long, from their strength being nearly equal, but their
manner of fighting is different. The rat can only wound by snatches,
and with his fore-teeth, which are more calculated for gnawing than
biting, and have but little strength; whereas the weasel bites fiercely
with his whole jaw, and instead of letting go sucks the blood thro' the
wound, and therefore the rat always falls a victim to this formidable
enemy.

There are many varieties in this species, as in all those which have
numerous individuals. Besides the common rat which is nearly black,
there are some brown, grey, reddish, and quite white. The white rat,
like all animals perfectly white has red eyes. The whole species, with
all its varieties, appear to be natives of temperate climates, and have
been diffused in much greater abundance over warm countries than cold
ones. Originally they had none in America, but were transported with
the first European settlers, and where they increased so fast as to
become the pest of the colonies, and where indeed they had no enemies
but the large serpents which swallowed them up alive. The European
ships have also carried them into the East Indies, all the islands of
the Indian Archipelago, and into Africa, where they are now found in
great numbers. In the north they have never multiplied beyond Sweden,
and those which are called Norway and Lapland rats, are animals of a
different species.


SUPPLEMENT.

It is asserted by Pontoppidan, that rats cannot live further north
than Norway, and that those on the banks of the south side of the
river Vorman, very soon die if they are taken to the north, which he
attributes to the exhalations of the soil. From the Vicomte Querhoënt
I understand that rats multiplied so fast on their first introduction
to the isle of France, as even to compel the Dutch to leave it: they
have been somewhat lessened by the French, but they still remain in
great numbers. He adds, that when a rat has resided some time in India
he acquires a very strong smell of musk; and this is confirmed by M. la
Boullaye-le-Goux in his voyages. The Dutch voyagers also say that there
are scented rats in Madura.


THE MOUSE.

The mouse is much smaller than the rat, more numerous and more
generally diffused. Its instinct, temperament, and disposition is the
same; and it differs only in its weakness, and the habits resulting
from it. Timid by nature, and familiar from necessity, fear and want
are the sole springs of its actions. It never leaves its hiding place
but to seek for food; nor does it go from house to house, like the
rat, unless forced; nor is it near so mischievous; its manners are
milder, and to a certain degree it may be tamed, but it is incapable of
attachment; how indeed is it possible to love those who are perpetually
laying snares for us! Though weak he has more enemies than the rat,
from whom he has no means of escape but his agility and minuteness. The
owls, birds of prey, cats, weasels, and even rats, make war upon mice,
while man, by snares and other means, destroy them by thousands. But
for their immense fecundity they could not subsist; they bring forth at
all seasons, several times in the year, generally have five or six at a
time, and which in less than 15 days are sufficiently strong to shift
for themselves. As they so soon attain perfection, their duration of
life must be short, a circumstance which must necessarily heighten our
ideas of their prodigious multiplication. Aristotle[O] tells us that
he put a pregnant mouse into a vessel with plenty of corn, and that he
soon after found 120 mice all sprung from the same mother.

[O] Vide Aristotle Hist. Animal. Lib. vi. Cap. 37.

These little animals are not ugly, but have much vivacity and acuteness
in their looks; nor is there any foundation for that horror some people
hold towards them, but the little surprises and inconveniences they
sometimes occasion. All mice are rather white under the belly, some
are quite white, others more or less brown or black. The species is
generally spread over Europe, Asia, and Africa; but it is said they had
no mice formerly in America, and that, though now so very numerous,
they were originally brought from the old continent. Certain it is that
this little animal, while it fears human society, closely attends it,
and this probably from its natural appetite for bread, cheese, bacon,
oil, butter, and other kinds of food which man prepares for himself.


THE FIELD-MOUSE.

This animal sometimes called the mulot, is less than the rat, but
larger than the common mouse. It is not to be found in houses, but
lives in woods and fields. It is remarkable for its large and prominent
eyes; and it differs also from the rat and mouse in the contour of its
hair, which is tolerably white under the belly, and a reddish brown on
the back; they are very generally and abundantly diffused, especially
in hilly countries. They appear to be a long time in attaining their
full growth, as they vary considerably in size. The largest are better
than four inches in length, and the smaller, which appears to be aged,
are an inch shorter; and as they are found of all the intermediate
sizes there can be no room to doubt their being the same species. It
was probably from ignorance of this fact that some naturalists have
distinguished them into two species, calling the one the Great Field
Rat, and the other the Field Mouse. Ray, who first fell into this
error, seems to acknowledge himself unacquainted with any more than
one species; and though the short description he gives of two species
appear to differ, yet we ought not to conclude that both exist, first,
because he himself knew but one; secondly, because we know only one,
and notwithstanding all my researches, I have been enabled to discover
but one kind; thirdly, because Gesner, and other naturalists, speak
only of one, under the name of _mus agrestis major_, which they affirm
to be common; and because Ray says the other kind, which he calls _mus
domesticus medius_, is also very common; it is therefore impossible
but that one or other of these authors must have seen both since they
declare they are both common; fourthly, because as in this same
species large and small individuals are found, that circumstance might
lead them to consider the former as one, and the latter as another;
and, lastly, because the descriptions of these two pretended species
are in no respect complete; and we ought not to trust such vague
characteristics to establish a specific difference.

The ancients, indeed, mention two species, the one under the
denomination of _mus agrestis major_, the other under that of _mus
agrestis minor_. These two species are very common, and we are as well
acquainted with them as the ancients were; the first is our long-tailed
field-mouse; and the other, known by the name of the short-tailed
field-mouse, but as it materially differs both from the rat and
long-tailed field-mouse, I have not followed the generic appellation,
but adopted that of the Italian, and call it _campagnol_.

The long-tailed field-mice, as we have already intimated, are fond of
dry and elevated grounds. They are to be found in great numbers in
woods and in adjoining fields. They conceal themselves in holes under
brush-wood, or trunks of trees, which they find already made, or which
they dig, in which they amass such quantities of nuts and acorns, that
a bushel has been found contained in one of them; and this provision
is not proportioned to the wants of the animal, but to the capacity of
the place allotted for its reception. These holes are generally more
than a foot underground, and often divided into two cells, the one for
living in with their young, and the other as a granary. I have often
witnessed the considerable damage done by these animals in plantations.
They will follow the furrow of a plough and take up all the new-sown
acorns, which they convey to their holes; and in a nursery of trees
they are more destructive than all the birds and other animals put
together. The only method I could ever find to prevent this evil, was
to set traps at every tenth pace distance, through the whole extent of
the new-sown ground. No other bait is necessary than placing a roasted
nut under a flat stone, supported by a piece of stick, to which the nut
must be fastened; this they are very fond of, and will come eagerly to
seize; but no sooner do they touch it than the stone falls and crushes
them to death. I have made use of the same expedient against the
campagnol, which is also very destructive. When I first adopted this
method, I desired care might be taken to bring me all the animals that
were caught in the traps, and it was with astonishment I found more
than 100 were taken daily, and this in a piece of land consisting of
not more than 40 acres. I obtained more than 2000 in this manner, from
the 15th of November to the 8th of December; their numbers afterwards
decreased gradually, till the hard frosts commenced, when they retire
to their holes, and feed upon what they have collected. A number of
years have elapsed since I first made this experiment, and which I
always repeated when I sowed trees, and never had reason to complain of
its inefficacy. It is in autumn they chiefly abound; in spring they are
not so numerous, for if their provisions run short during the winter
the strong devour the weak; they also eat the short-tailed species, and
several sorts of birds, beginning always with the brains and finishing
with the rest of the body. I once put a dozen of these field-mice in a
cage, and accustomed them to be fed every morning by eight o'clock; but
neglecting them one morning for about a quarter of an hour, one of them
had been eaten by the rest; next day they devoured another, and in a
few days only one remained; the others having been killed and in part
devoured; even the one that survived had his legs and tail mutilated.

The rat multiplies very fast, but the increase of the long-tailed
field-mouse is more considerable. The latter brings forth more than
once a year, and generally nine or ten at a time, while the rat
seldom produces more than five or six. A peasant, on my estate, took
twenty-two out of one hole, consisting of two dams and twenty young
ones.

This animal is very generally diffused over Europe. It is found in
Sweden, and is called by Linnæus, _mus cauda longa, corpore nigro
flavescente, abdomine albo_. It is very common in France, Italy, and
Switzerland. Gesner calls it _mus agrestis major_. It is also in
Germany and England, where it is called the field-mouse. Its greatest
enemies are the wolf, fox, marten, birds of prey, and its own species.


THE WATER-RAT.

This animal is about the size of a common rat, but in habits and
disposition more resembles the otter than the rat. Like the otter it
frequents fresh water; is found on the borders of rivers, rivulets,
and ponds, and seldom feeds on any thing but fish, though he will
sometimes eat frogs, water insects, and even the roots of plants. He
has not, like the otter, membranes between his toes; an error which
originated with Willoughby, and has been copied by Ray and other
naturalists. Though every toe is separated, he swims with facility,
keeps a long time under water, and carries off his prey to eat upon
the grass or in his hole. Sometimes he is surprised in his hole by
fishermen who are searching for craw-fish, whose fingers he bites,
and then plunges into the water as his only place of refuge. His head
is shorter, his nose broader, his hair more erect, and his tail much
larger than the common rat. Like the otter he avoids large rivers, or
rather those which are too much frequented. The dogs pursue it very
furiously. He is never found in houses or barns, nor does he wander so
far from the borders of the waters as the otter, which is sometimes
found at a league distant upon land. The water-rat does not frequent
high grounds nor dry plains but in moist and marshy valleys they are
very numerous. The females come in season about the close of winter,
and bring forth in April, generally having six or seven in a litter;
they may probably bring forth oftener than once a year, but of this we
have no certain knowledge.

Their flesh is not absolutely bad, being eaten by the peasants in
catholic countries during Lent, as well as that of the otter. This
species is found throughout Europe, the very extremities of the north
excepted. If Bellon may be believed they inhabit the banks of the
Nile, but the figure he gives of it has so little resemblance to our
water-rat, that there is great reason to suppose them different animals.


THE CAMPAGNOL.

The Campagnol, or short-tailed field-mouse, is still more common and
generally diffused than the long-tailed kind. The latter generally
prefers elevated grounds, while the former is found in woods, meadows,
and even gardens. It is remarkable for the bigness of its head and
shortness of its tail, which is not above an inch long. It digs holes
in the earth, where it amasses corn, nuts, and acorns; the former of
which it appears to prefer to every kind of food. About the month of
July, when the corn begins to ripen they collect together from all
quarters, and frequently do great damage by cutting the stalks to come
at the ears; they also seem to follow the reapers and pick up all the
grain that falls. When the gleanings are exhausted, they resort to the
new-sown lands, and not unoften destroy the hopes of the succeeding
year. At the end of autumn, and in winter, most of them withdraw into
the woods where they feed on beech-mast, nuts and acorns. Some years
they appear in such great numbers that they would destroy every thing
were they to continue for any length of time, but for want of food they
eat each other, and are also destroyed by the long-tailed field-mouse,
the fox, wild cat, marten, and weasel. In its internal parts, this
animal more resembles the water-rat than any other; but externally it
differs from him in many essential characters: First, in size, the
campagnol not being more than three inches long, whereas the water-rat
is seven; secondly, by the dimensions of its head and body, those
of the former being thicker in proportion than those of the latter;
thirdly, by the length of the tail, that of the campagnol not exceeding
one third, while that of the water-rat is nearly two thirds the length
of its body; and lastly, by appetite and inclinations, for the former
neither feeds upon fish nor plunges into the water, but lives upon
grain, acorns, and bulbous roots. Their holes resemble those of the
long-tailed field mouse, and are often divided into two apartments,
though they are less spacious and are not dug so deep. Several of them
sometimes live together. When the females are about to bring forth they
collect grass to make beds for their young. They produce in spring and
summer, and generally from five to eight at a time.

_Engraved for Barr's Buffon._

[Illustration: FIG: 79. _Guinea-Pig._]

[Illustration: FIG: 80. _Hedge Hog._]

[Illustration: FIG: 81. _Shrewmouse._]


THE GUINEA PIG.

This little animal (_fig. 79._) though a native of Brasil and Guinea,
lives and breeds in temperate, and even in cold countries, provided
it is properly taken care of and sheltered from the inclemency of the
weather. The Guinea-pig is frequently reared in France, and though very
prolific, they are far from being numerous, for the attention they
require is poorly rewarded by the profits derived from them. Their
skin is of little or no value, and their flesh, though people do eat
it, is very indifferent; a circumstance which might in some measure be
removed, by rearing them in warrens, where they might have air, space
to range in, and an agreeable choice of herbs. Those kept in houses
have the same kind of bad taste with the house rabbit, and those kept
in gardens during summer their flesh is less disagreeable, but still
insipid.

These animals are of so hot a nature that they begin to copulate so
early as at five or six weeks old; their growth, however, is not
completed before the end of eight or nine months, though their increase
is in bulk and fat only after the sixth, by which time all their solid
parts are completely developed. The females go with young three weeks,
and they have been known to bring forth at the age of two months. The
first litters do not consist of more than four or five, the second
five or six, and afterwards they will sometimes have eleven or twelve.
She does not suckle her young more than twelve or fifteen days, and
when the male returns to her, which he never fails to do three weeks
after she has littered, she drives them from her, and if they persist
in following he often kills them. Thus these animals bring forth at
least every two months; and as their young produce in the same period
their multiplication is astonishing. In one year 1000 might be obtained
from a single couple; but their consequent increase is checked by the
various means of their destruction; they perish from cold and wet;
without resistance they suffer themselves to be devoured by the cats;
the females, not having had time to form an attachment to their young,
see them destroyed without attempting to protect them. They seem to
have no distinct sentiment but that of love, and when disputing for a
particular female they will shew themselves susceptible of anger, fight
bitterly, and are sometimes killed in the conflict before they will
yield. They pass their lives in eating, sleeping and love: their sleep
is short, but frequent; they eat every hour, night and day, and indulge
in their amours as often as they eat; they emit urine every minute,
although they scarcely ever drink. They feed on all sorts of herbs,
especially parsley, which they prefer to grain or bread; of apples,
and other fruits, they are also very fond. Like the rabbit they eat
little at a time, but precipitately, and very often. They grunt like
a young pig; make a chirping noise when pleased with their females,
and have a sharp loud cry when hurt or irritated. They are very
delicate, and so chilly that it is difficult to preserve them through
the winter, therefore they must be kept in a place which is thoroughly
warm, dry, and healthy. When they feel cold they assemble and press
close together, and in this situation the frost often surprises them,
and they are sometimes found dead. They are naturally mild and tame,
seem equally incapable of doing harm or good, and never form any
attachments. Mild by temperament, docile by weakness, almost insensible
to every thing round them, they have the appearance of being so many
living machines, merely possessed of abilities to propagate a species.


THE HEDGEHOG.

The hedge-hog (_fig. 80._) possesses the power to defend itself without
fighting, and to annoy without attacking. Having little strength
and no agility to escape his foes, he has received from Nature a
prickly armour, with the power of rolling himself up like a ball, and
presenting from every part of his body a poignant weapon of defence.
His fears prove an additional security, for the smell of his urine,
which they make him throw out when attacked, and which he scatters over
his whole body, always proves sufficient to disgust his enemy. Thus
dogs content themselves with barking at the hedge-hog, and never shew
an inclination to seize it. The fox, however, has the address to master
it, by contriving to wound its feet, from which the blood runs into its
mouth, but from the weasel, marten, polecat, ferret, or birds of prey,
it has nothing to dread.

The females, as well as males, are covered with prickles from the head
to the tail, and the under parts of their bodies only are covered with
hair; wherefore these arms, so useful to them against their enemies,
are highly inconvenient in their amours, as they cannot unite, like
other quadrupeds, but face to face, either upright or lying. They come
in season in spring, and bring forth at the beginning of summer. I have
frequently had the mother and her young brought me in the month of
June; their litters generally consist of from three to five; they are
white at first, and only the marks of their prickles appear. Desirous
to rear some of them, I put a dam and her little family into a tub,
with plenty of meat, bread, bran, and fruit, but, instead of suckling,
she devoured them one after another. I was surprised that so indolent
an animal should discover such marks of impatience at confinement. A
hedge-hog which had one day got into the kitchen, took some meat out of
a small kettle, and then defiled it with its excrement. I kept males
and females in the same apartments, but though they lived they never
coupled. I put several of them in my garden, where they did so little
damage that it was hardly perceivable they were there; they lived
upon the fallen fruits, and dug the earth to a small depth with their
snouts; they eat caterpillars, worms, beetles, and some roots; and they
are also very fond of flesh, which they devour either raw or roasted.

In the country they are commonly found in the woods, under the trunks
of old trees, in the clefts of rocks, and in vineyards. I do not
believe they climb trees, as has been asserted, or make use of their
prickles to carry off the fruit; they seize with the mouth every thing
they eat, and though they are very numerous in our forests, I never
heard of one being seen upon a tree, but are always found in hollow
places, or under moss. They remain inactive all day, and only go about
during the night. They seldom approach human habitations; they prefer
dry and elevated grounds, yet are sometimes found in meadows. When
touched they do not offer to escape or defend themselves, either with
their feet or teeth; but roll themselves up, and are only to be made to
extend by plunging them into cold water; they sleep during the winter,
and therefore if, as it is said, they amass provisions in summer, they
would be entirely useless. They at no time eat much, and can exist a
long time without any food. Like all other animals who sleep in winter,
their blood is cold; their flesh is not good to eat, nor is their skin,
though it was formerly employed in the preparation of hemp, converted
to any use.

According to some authors there are two species of the hedge-hog, one
with a snout like a hog, and the other with a short muzzle like a
dog; but I know of but one, and of which there are even no varieties
in our climates. This animal is pretty generally diffused; they are
in every part of Europe, except Lapland, Norway, and the other very
cold countries. Flacourt says there are hedge-hogs at Madagascar,
where they are called Sora. The hedge-hog of Siam, mentioned by Father
Tachard, seems to be another animal. Those of America and Siberia
evidently approach the nearest to our common hedge-hogs, and lastly,
the hedge-hog of Malacca seems to be more of the porcupine than the
hedge-hog.


THE SHREW MOUSE.

The shrew mouse (_fig. 81._) seems to form a shade in the order of
small animals, and to fill up the interval between the rat and the
mole, which though they resemble each other in size, differ greatly in
form, and are a totally distinct species. The shrew is smaller than the
common mouse, resembles the mole in its snout, which is longer than the
jaw-bones; in its eyes which, though larger than those of the mole, are
in the same manner concealed, and smaller than those of the mouse; in
the number of its toes, having five on each foot, in its tail and legs,
particularly the hind ones, which are shorter than those of the mouse;
in its ears, and lastly, in its teeth. This extremely little creature
has a strong smell peculiar to itself, and so offensive to cats,
that though they chace and kill, they will not eat it. This noisome
odour, and the aversion of the cats, most probably gave rise to the
notion that the shrew mouse is a venomous animal, and that its bite is
hurtful, particularly to horses; but the truth is, that it is neither
venomous nor able to bite, for its mouth is not capable of sufficient
extension to take in the double thickness of another animal's skin,
which is absolutely necessary in order to bite. Besides, the distemper
among horses, which is vulgarly attributed to the shrew mouse, is a
swelling proceeding from an internal cause, and therefore can have no
connexion with the bite, or the puncture of this little animal.

The shrew mouse, especially in winter, fixes its residence in stables,
hay-lofts, or barns; it feeds on grain, insects, and putrid flesh. It
also resides in woods and fields, where it lives on grain; it sometimes
conceals itself under moss, leaves, the trunks of trees, and sometimes
in holes abandoned by moles, or in holes of a smaller size, which
it digs for itself, with its claws and snout. The shrew produces,
it is said, as many young at a time as the common mouse, but not so
frequently. Its cry is more sharp, but it is not near so nimble, and as
it sees imperfectly, and runs slowly, there is very little difficulty
in taking it. Their usual colour is brown mixed with red, though some
are ash-coloured, and all of them are white under the belly. They are
very common throughout Europe, but do not seem to exist in America.
The animal of Brasil, which Marcgrave mentions as the shrew mouse,
and describes with three black stripes upon the back, is larger, and
appears to be of a different species.


THE WATER SHREW MOUSE.

This animal, though a native of these climates, was unknown to any of
our naturalists, until M. Daubenton first discovered and described it
in the Memoires de l'Academie, in 1756. To the former animal we have
only to add, that this is taken near the source of fountains, as the
sun rises and sets; that in the day it remains concealed in the clefts
of rocks, or in holes at the edges of rivulets; that it brings forth in
spring, and has generally nine young ones at a time.


THE MOLE.

The mole, (_fig. 82._) without being blind, has eyes so small, and so
concealed, that it can make but little use of seeing, but in recompence
Nature has supplied it with an ample portion of the sixth sense. Of all
animals the mole is the most profusely furnished with generic organs,
and of course with the relative sensations. The senses of hearing and
feeling it enjoys in an eminent degree; a skin as soft as velvet,
and its little paws, with five claws, are very different from other
quadrupeds, and nearly resemble the hand of a human being; they have
great strength in proportion to the size of their bodies, and so strong
and reciprocal an attachment subsists between the male and female, that
they seem to have a dread of, and a disgust to, all other society. They
enjoy the mild habitudes of solitude and repose; the art of securing
themselves, of instantaneously forming an asylum, of extending it,
and of obtaining a plentiful subsistence without a necessity for
relinquishing it. Such are the dispositions, manners, and talents,
of this animal, and they doubtless are preferable to qualities more
brilliant, which are perhaps more incompatible with happiness than even
an absolute deprivation of sight.

The mole shuts up the entrance to its retreat, which it seldom leaves,
unless forced by heavy rains, or it becomes demolished by man. It
prefers cultivated grounds, and is never to be found in those which
are muddy, hard, or stony; and delights in a soft soil, well supplied
with esculent roots, insects and worms, of which its principal
nourishment consists. As they seldom come above ground they have but
few enemies, and easily elude the pursuit of carnivorous animals.
Their greatest calamity is an inundation, and when that happens, they
are seen swimming in great numbers, and using every effort to save
themselves by reaching the high grounds; but the greatest part of them
perish, as well as their young who remain in the holes. Were it not for
such accidents, from their great fecundity, they would be extremely
incommodious to farmers. They couple at the beginning of spring, and
their young ones are found as early as May. They generally have four
or five at a time, and it is easy to distinguish the mole-hill under
which they have littered, as they are more elevated, and made with
greater art than the rest. I am inclined to think they bring forth
more than once a year, but I cannot absolutely assert it; this however
is certain, that young ones are met with from April to August, which,
however, may be owing to some coupling later in the year than others.

The hole in which they deposit their young is formed with singular
skill and deserves a particular description. They begin by raising
the earth and forming a tolerably ample roof, leaving divisions or
pillars at certain distances to support it, all round which they beat
and press the earth, interweave it with roots and plants, and render
it so firm that the water cannot penetrate it; the apartment in the
hillock is above the level of the ground, and therefore less subject to
accidents from slight inundations; under this they form another kind
of hill, upon the top of which they lay grass and leaves as a bed for
their young. Here they lay secure from wet, and the female proceeds
to make their retreat equally free from danger; for all round this
internal hillock she pierces holes still deeper, which part from the
middle apartment like rays from a centre, and extend about fifteen feet
in every direction; into these the mother makes her subterraneous
excursions, and from them supplies her young with roots and insects;
but they contribute still more to the general safety, for as the mole
is very quick of hearing, the instant she finds her habitation attacked
she takes to one of the burrows, and unless the earth be dug away by
several men at once, she and her young always make good their retreat.

Some authors have asserted that the mole and badger sleep the whole
winter: but that this is not true with respect to the badger, we have
already observed, from the traces which he leaves upon the snow; and
so far is the mole from sleeping the whole winter, that she continues
to raise the earth then as well as in the summer; and it is almost
proverbial with the peasantry of France, that "when the mole is at
work a thaw is at hand." They are indeed fond of warm places, and the
gardeners often catch them round their beds in the months of December,
January, and February. This animal is never to be met with in barren
deserts or cold climates, where the ground is frozen for the greatest
part of the year. The Siberian mole, with green and yellow hair, is of
a different species from our mole, which abounds only from Sweden to
Barbary; at least from the silence of travellers we may presume it is
not an inhabitant of hot climates. The moles of America, particularly
the red ones, are also different. The Virginian mole, however, is not
unlike ours, except in the colour of the hair, which is mixed with a
deep purple. In our common moles there are only two or three varieties;
some are more or less brown or black, and some few we have seen
entirely white. Seba mentions, and gives a figure of a mole with black
and white spots[P], which he found in East Friesland, and which was
rather larger than our moles.

[P] This mole, says he, was found on the highway. It is a little
longer than the common mole, from which it differs in no respect but
the colour of the skin, which is diversified on the back and the belly
with black and white spots, and these intermixed with a few grey hairs
as fine as silk. The snout of this animal is long, and covered with
hair of a considerable length; and its eyes are so small that it is
difficult to distinguish them.--_Albert Seba, vol. I. p. 63._

I received from M. Sonnerat the skin of what he calls the Mole of the
Cape of Good Hope (_fig. 83._) which bears a near resemblance to the
common moles, excepting the fore-feet and the head, which is much
larger, and has a snout somewhat like the Guinea Pig. Its hair is dark
brown, with yellow tips, which gives it a bright shade, and its tail
is covered with long hairs of a yellowish white. Upon the whole, I am
inclined to think that it cannot be considered as a simple variety, but
that it is a different species.

_Engraved for Barr's Buffon._

[Illustration: FIG. 82. _Mole._]

[Illustration: FIG. 83. _Cape Mole._]

_Bats._

[Illustration: FIG. 84. _Long Ear'd._]

[Illustration: FIG. 85. _Pipistiell._]

[Illustration: FIG. 86. _Common Bat._]


THE BAT.

Though all beings are equally perfect in themselves, as coming from the
hands of the Creator, yet, in their relation to man, some appear more
accomplished, and others more imperfect or deformed. The former are
those whose figures are agreeable to us, and which we esteem complete,
because all their parts are well connected, their members proportioned,
and their functions easy and natural. The latter are those whose
qualities are offensive to us, whose nature deviates from other beings,
and whose forms differ from those whence we drew our first sensations,
and those ideas which serve to model our judgments. The head of a
man upon the neck of a horse, its body covered with feathers, and
terminated with the tail of a fish, is a picture of enormous deformity,
only because it is an assemblage of the most incongruous diversities
of nature. An animal, like the bat, which is half quadruped and half
bird, and which, in fact, is neither the one nor the other, is a kind
of monster, because it unites the attributes of two such different
genera, and resembles none of those models presented to us in the
grand classes of Nature. It is an imperfect quadruped, and a still
more imperfect bird; as a quadruped it should have four feet, and as a
bird it should have feathers and wings. In the bat the fore feet are,
properly, neither feet nor wings, though the animal uses them for the
purpose of flying and dragging himself along the ground; they are two
shapeless extremities, of which the bones are of an enormous length,
and connected by a membrane neither covered with feathers nor hair like
the rest of the body; they are a kind of small wings or winged paws,
in which we only see one claw about an inch in length, and with which
the other four, though very long, must act in conjunction, as they have
no peculiar movements, no separate functions; they are a kind of hands
ten times larger than the feet, and four times longer than the whole
body of the animal; in a word, they are parts which have rather the
appearance of caprice and accident, than a regular production. This
membrane covers the arms, forms the wings, or hands, of the animal,
is united to the skin of the body, and, at the same time envelopes
not only its legs, but even its tail, which by this whimsical junction
becomes, as it were, one of its toes. To these incongruities, these
disproportions of the body and members, may be added the still more
striking deformities of the head. In some species the nose is hardly
visible; the eyes are sunk near the tip of the ear, and confounded with
the cheeks; in others the ears are as long as the body, or else the
face twisted into the form of a horse-shoe, and the nose covered with
a kind of crust. Many of these animals have four substances from their
heads, resembling ears, and of all of them the eyes are small, obscure,
and covered; their noses are ill-formed, and their mouths extend from
ear to ear; they shun society and the light, inhabit dark places, which
they quit only for nocturnal excursions, return before the break of
day, and in a manner glue themselves against the walls. Their motion in
the air is less a flight than an uncertain flutter, which they execute
by struggles and in a very awkward manner; they raise themselves from
the ground with difficulty, and never soar to a great height; their
flight being far from either rapid or direct, but is performed by hasty
vibrations in an oblique and winding direction; in their flight they,
however, seize gnats, moths, and other nocturnal insects. These they
swallow entire, and in their excrements we meet with the remains of
wings and other dry parts which they were unable to digest.

Having one day descended into the grottoes of Arcy to examine the
stalectites, I was surprised to find, upon a spot covered with
alabaster, and in a place so gloomy, a kind of earth so very different;
it consisted of blackish matter several feet in width and breadth, and
composed almost entirely of wings and legs of insects, as if immense
numbers had collected there and perished together. This heap, however,
was nothing more than the dung of bats, amassed, probably, from their
having made that their favourite residence for many years; for in
the whole extent of the grottoes, which is more than the eighth of a
league, I saw no other similar mass; I therefore concluded that they
had fixed upon this spot, because a small gloomy light reached it from
the top, and that they had not proceeded further, lest they should have
been too much enveloped in obscurity.

Bats have nothing in common with birds, except the faculty of flying,
and therefore must be classed among quadrupeds; but as the ability
to fly implies a great degree of force in the superior and anterior
parts of the body, the pectoral muscles of the bat are more strong
and fleshy than those of any other quadruped, a circumstance in which
they have some resemblance to birds; in every other respect their
conformation both external and internal is different. The lungs, heart,
organs of generation, and all other viscera, except the prominent
sexual distinction, which is similar to that of a man or a monkey, are
the same as in other quadrupeds; like them also they are viviparous,
and have teeth and nipples. It has been affirmed that they bring forth
only two at a time, that they suckle their young, and even carry them
when they fly. It is in summer they couple and bring forth, for during
winter they are in a state of torpor; some cover themselves with their
wings as with a cloak, and suspend themselves by their hind legs in
subterraneous caverns; others cling to walls, or conceal themselves in
holes. When they retire they do it in numbers, and collect together
to defend each other from the cold; and they pass the whole winter,
from the end of autumn to the spring, without either food or motion.
They can support hunger better than cold; and though they can subsist
many days without food, they are nevertheless carnivorous; for when
opportunity serves, they will devour meat of all kinds, whether raw or
roasted, fresh or corrupted.

There were but two species of bats described as natives of our
climate, until M. Daubenton discovered five others equally common
and abundant, which renders it astonishing they should have remained
so long unnoticed. The whole of them are widely different, and never
dwell together. The first is the common bat, (_fig. 86._) which we have
already described. The next is the long-eared, (_fig. 84._) which is
perhaps more numerous than the common bat; its body is more diminutive,
its wings are shorter, its snout smaller and more pointed, and its
ears large beyond all proportion. The third species, which I call the
noctule, from the Italian word _noctula_, was not known, though very
common in France, and more frequently met with than the two preceding.
It is found under the roofs of houses, castles, and churches, and in
hollow trees; it is almost as large as the common bat, its ears are
broad and short, its hair of a reddish cast, and its voice sharp and
piercing. The fourth is distinguished, by the name of the _serotine_;
it is smaller than the common bat or the noctule, and nearly the size
of the long-eared; its ears, however, are sharp, and pointed, its
wings are black, and its body of a deep brown. The fifth I call the
pipistrelles, (_fig. 85._) from the Italian word _pipistrello_, which
signifies also a bat. Of all the bats this is the smallest and least
ugly, though the upper lip is swelled, its eyes small and hollow, and
its forehead covered with hair. The sixth is named the barbastelle
(_fig. 89._) from _barbestello_ another Italian word, signifying a bat.
This is nearly of the same size as the long-eared; its ears are as
broad but not so long. The name _barbastelle_ is the more applicable
to it, as it seems to have whiskers, which nevertheless are only
protuberances over the lips; its snout is short, nose flat, and its
eyes close to its ears. The seventh, and last, is distinguished as the
horse-shoe bat, (_fig. 88._). The face of this animal is singularly
deformed, of which the most apparent feature is a membrane in the form
of an horse-shoe round the nose and upper lip; this species is very
common in France, among the walls and in the vaults of old ruinous
castles, and of which there are large and small, but in form, and in
every other particular, they are similar. As I have not met with any of
the intermediate sizes, I cannot determine whether this difference is
produced by age, or a permanent variety in the same species.


THE LOIR.

Of the loir, or great dormouse, or as some naturalists have termed
it, the fat squirrel, there are three species; and, like the marmot,
they all sleep during the winter; namely, the loir, the lerot, and the
muscardin, or common dormouse. These three species have been confounded
together although they are very different, and easily distinguished.
The loir is nearly of the size of the squirrel, and like that animal,
has its tail covered with long hair; the lerot is not so large as a
rat, has very short hair on its tail, except at the extremity, where
there is a tuft of long hair; the dormouse is not bigger than the
common mouse, its tail is covered with longer hair than the lerot's,
but shorter than the loir's, and it also has a tuft at the extremity.
The loir differs from the other two, by having black spots about its
eyes, and the dormouse by having white hair upon his back. They are all
white or whitish under the neck and belly; the white of the lerot is
beautiful, that of the loir more dark, and that of the dormouse has a
yellow line in all the inferior parts.

_Engraved for Barr's Buffon._

[Illustration: FIG. 87. _Scrotine Bat._]

[Illustration: FIG. 88. _Horse-shoe Bat._]

[Illustration: FIG. 89. _Barbastelle Bat._]

[Illustration: FIG. 90. _Dormouse._]

[Illustration: FIG. 91. _Alpine Marmot._]

There is no truth in the assertion that these animals sleep during
winter, for they are not in a state of natural sleep, but in a torpor
produced by the coldness of the blood, by which they lose the use of
their senses and members. Their internal heat does not exceed the
temperature of the air. When the heat of the air is ten degrees above
the freezing point, their heat is exactly the same. The ball of a small
thermometer I have plunged into the bodies of several living lerots,
and always found the heat of their bodies was nearly equal to the
temperature of the air; and sometimes when applied to the very heart,
I have observed the thermometer fall from half a degree to a whole
one, the temperature of the air being at eleven. Now it is well known
that the internal heat of man, and of the generality of quadrupeds, at
all times exceeds thirty, and therefore there is little reason to be
surprised that these animals, whose heat is so small, should become
torpid, when their little internal heat ceases to be assisted by the
external heat of the air; a circumstance that naturally happens when
the thermometer is not above ten or eleven degrees above the freezing
point. This is the real cause of the torpor of these animals, a cause
which has been overlooked, although it extends to all animals which
sleep during winter. Alike are its effects upon these animals, the
hedge-hog and bats; and though I have never had the opportunity of
trying them upon the marmot, I am persuaded its blood is not less cold,
since like them it is subject to a torpor during winter.

The torpor continues as long as the cause which produces it, and ceases
with the cold. A few degrees of heat above ten or eleven is sufficient
to reanimate them, and if kept in a warm place during winter they
do not become torpid, but go about and eat and sleep, from time to
time, like other animals. When they feel the cold they crowd close
together, and roll themselves up like balls, in order to present a
smaller surface to the air, and to preserve some warmth. It is thus
they are found during winter in hollow trees, and in holes of walls
exposed to the south: in these they lie without motion, on moss and
leaves, and when taken, if tossed or rolled about they never stir, or
shew any signs of life; it is by a mild and gradual heat alone they
are to be recovered, for if carried suddenly near a fire they perish.
Though in this state they are without motion, though their eyes are
shut, and they seem to be deprived of all their senses, yet they feel
pain when it is very acute; they testify it when burned or wounded by
a contraction, and a little hollow cry, which they will repeat several
times; hence it is plain the internal sensibility must subsist, as
well as the action of the heart and lungs, yet it is to be presumed
that these vital motions act not with the same force and power while
in the torpid as in the usual state. The circulation, probably, is
not performed then but in the larger vessels; the respiration is slow
and feeble, the secretions are very scanty, and perspiration must be
nearly annihilated, since they could not pass several months without
eating were they to lose as much of their substance in proportion by
perspiration as they do when they have an opportunity of repairing it
by taking of sustenance; they do lose some part, however, since in
very long winters they die in their holes. Perhaps indeed it is not
the duration but the severity of the cold that cuts them off, as they
soon die if exposed to an intense frost. What induces me to believe
that it is not from waste of substance they perish in long winters, is
their being very fat in autumn, and equally so on their reviving in
spring; this abundance of fat being an internal substance, sufficient
to supply what they lose by perspiration. Besides, as cold is the sole
cause of their torpor, and they never fall into that state but when the
temperature of the air is beyond the tenth or eleventh degree, they
often revive during the winter, for in that season there are frequently
hours, and even days, in which the liquor will be found at the twelfth,
thirteenth, or fourteenth degree, and during this mild weather the
dormice quit their holes in search of food, or rather eat what they had
amassed the preceding autumn.

Aristotle asserted, and he has been followed by succeeding naturalists,
that dormice pass the whole winter without eating, and that during
this period of abstinence they become very fat, being more nourished
by sleep alone than other animals by food. This is both untrue and
impossible. In its torpid state, which lasts four or five months,
it could only fatten by the air it breathes; and allowing (which
however is granting too much) that part of this air is converted into
nourishment, could so considerable an increase result from it? Would
it be sufficient to recompense the waste by perspiration? Aristotle
might have been led into this error by the winters in Greece being
very mild, where the dormice do not sleep continually, but taking
nourishment every time they were revived by the warmth they might
become fat, though in a torpid state. The truth is they are always fat,
especially in autumn and summer. Their flesh is not unlike that of the
guinea-pig. They were reckoned delicacies by the Romans, who reared
great numbers of them. Varro describes the method of making warrens
for them, as does Apicius of dressing them in the best manner. Their
instructions, however, have been neglected, either from a disgust to
a loir from his near resemblance to a rat, or from his flesh being
unpalatable. I have been told by peasants who had eaten them, that it
is hardly preferable to that of the water-rat.

The loir has a considerable resemblance to the squirrel in its natural
habits; it lives in forests, climbs up trees, and leaps from branch to
branch, though not so nimbly as the latter, because his legs are not so
long, and he is as remarkable for being fat as the other is for being
slender. Nuts, and other wild fruits, compose the usual nourishment
of both; the loir likewise eats small birds, which he takes in their
nests. He does not, like the squirrel, nestle on the upper parts of
trees, but makes a bed of moss in the trunks of those which are
hollow; he also shelters himself in the clefts of rocks, and always
prefers dry places. He avoids moisture, drinks little, and rarely
descends to the ground; but there is a material difference between him
and the squirrel, as the latter is easily tamed, but the loir always
remains wild. They couple about the end of spring, and the females
bring forth in summer, generally producing four or five at a time.
Their growth is quick, and it is asserted that they do not live more
than six years. In Italy, where they still eat them, the inhabitants
dig pits in the woods, which they line and cover with straw and moss;
for these pits they chuse a dry spot, sheltered by rocks and exposed to
the south; to which the loirs resort in great numbers, and the people
find them there in a torpid state, about the end of autumn, when they
are fittest to eat. They are full of courage, and will defend their
lives to the last extremity; their fore-teeth are both long and strong,
and they bite violently; they have no fear of the weasel nor small
birds of prey; they baffle the attempts of the fox by mounting to the
tops of the trees, nor have they any very formidable enemies but the
martens and wild cats.

This species is not very much diffused; it is not met with in the cold
climates, such as Lapland and Sweden; at least the naturalists of the
north do not mention it; the species they describe being the muscardin,
the smallest of the three; neither, I presume are they to be met within
very hot climates, travellers being silent about them. There are few or
none of them in open countries like England; they require a temperate
climate, and the country covered with wood. We meet with them in Spain,
France, Greece, Italy, Germany, and Switzerland, where they live in
forests, upon hills, and not on the tops of mountains, like the marmot,
which, though subject to a torpor from the cold, seems to delight in
frost and snow.


THE LEROT.

The loir lives in forests and seems to shun our habitations, but the
lerot, (called sometimes the middle dormouse, at others the garden
squirrel) on the contrary, inhabits our gardens, and is sometimes to
be found in our houses; this species is likewise more numerous and more
generally diffused; and there are few gardens which are not infested
with them. They nestle in the holes of walls, climb up trees, choose
the best fruits, and devour them as they begin to ripen. Peaches seem
to be their favourite fruit, and whoever wishes to preserve them must
take pains to destroy the lerot. They likewise climb up pear, plum, and
apricot trees, and in a scarcity of fruits, they eat almonds, nuts, and
even leguminous plants. These they carry off in great quantities to
their holes, which they dig in the earth, above all, in well cultivated
gardens, where they make themselves beds of herbs, moss, and leaves.
The cold stupefies them, but they are revived by the heat; eight or
ten of them are sometimes found in one place, in a state of torpor,
all huddled together, and rolled up in the midst of their hoard of
provisions. They couple in spring and bring forth in summer. They
commonly have five or six young at a time; they are very quick of
growth, but do not engender till the second year; their flesh is not
eatable like that of the loir; they have the same disagreeable smell as
the house rat, whereas the loir has no bad smell; they never become so
fat as the latter. This animal is found in all the temperate climates
of Europe, and even in Poland and Prussia, but they do not appear to
exist in Sweden and the more northern countries.


THE DORMOUSE.

Of all the species of the rat, the dormouse (_fig. 90._) is the least
ugly. It has brilliant eyes, and a full tail, which is rather white
than red. It never lives in houses, and seldom in gardens, but like the
loir, chiefly frequents the woods, and shelters itself in the hollows
of old trees. This species is by no means so numerous as that of the
lerot. The dormice are always found alone in their several holes, and
I had much difficulty to procure a few of them; they however, seem to
be pretty common in Italy, and not unknown in the northern climates,
since they are comprised by Linnæus in his list of Swedish animals; but
they do not appear to exist in England, for Mr. Ray in his Synopsis,
who had seen it in Italy, says the small dormouse found in England is
not red on the back like the Italian muscardin, and that it probably
belongs to a different species. In France it is the same as in Italy,
and is justly described by Aldrovandus in his History of Quadrupeds;
but he adds there are two species in Italy, one of which is scarce, and
has the smell of musk, the other more general without any particular
odour, and that at Bologna they are both called _muscardino_ from their
resemblance in figure and size. Of these two species we only know the
latter, as the dormice of France have no smell either good or bad. Its
flesh, however, is unfit to eat, and it never becomes so fat as the
loir.

The dormouse becomes torpid with cold and revives in mild weather, and
like the loir and lerot hoards up nuts and other dry fruits. It forms
its nest upon trees, like the squirrel, though generally lower among
the branches of nut-trees, and underwood; the nest is made of herbs
interwoven, is about six inches in diameter and is only open at the
top. Many countrymen have assured me that they have found the nests
of dormice in coppices and in hedges, that they were surrounded with
leaves and moss, and that each nest contained three or four young ones.
As soon as they grow up they quit their rests, shelter themselves
in the hollows or under trunks of trees, where they repose, lay up
provisions, and sleep through the winter.


THE SURMULOT.

This species of rat has been known but for a few years, and is not
mentioned by any naturalist except M. Brisson, who calls it the Rat of
the Woods, but as it bears a greater resemblance to the field-mouse, in
colour and habitudes, than to the rat, I have termed it the Surmulot,
or large Field-mouse. This animal is more strong and mischievous than
the rat; it has reddish hair, long naked tail, the backbone is arched
like that of a squirrel, its body is much thicker, and it has whiskers
like a cat. It is but a few years since this species has been spread
in the neighbourhood of Paris; from whence they came is not known, but
they have multiplied prodigiously, which is not wonderful when it is
considered that they produce from twelve to nineteen young ones at a
time. They were first discovered at Chantilly, Marly, and Versailles.
From M. le Roi I received a great number of them both alive and dead,
and he also favoured me by communicating the remarks he had made upon
this new species. The males are larger, stronger, and more mischievous
than the females. When pursued or endeavoured to be taken, they turn
and bite the stick or hand which touches them: their bite is sharp and
dangerous, for it is immediately followed by a considerable swelling,
and the wound, though small, does not soon heal. They bring forth three
times in a year, so that two individuals may produce 36 in twelve
months. Some of the females which I received were with young, and as
I kept them in cages, two or three days before they brought forth I
observed them busily gnawing the wood of their cages and putting the
pieces into a kind of order, making beds for their little ones.

The surmulot, in some of its habits, resembles the water-rat. Though
they take up their residences anywhere, they seem to prefer the banks
by the water; the dogs also chase them with the same furious eagerness
as they do the water-rat. When pursued, and they can equally take to
the water, or shelter themselves in a thorny thicket, they prefer the
former, plunge in without dread, and swim with great facility. This
particularly happens when they cannot regain their burrows, for, like
the field-mouse, they dig holes in the earth, or occupy those made by
rabbits. They may also be taken by means of ferrets, who pursue them
into their hole with the same ardour as they do the rabbit. These
animals pass the summer in the country; they live principally on
fruits or grain, yet are carnivorous, devouring young hares, rabbits,
partridges, and other birds, and when they get into a hen-roost they
destroy, like the polecat, more than they can eat. About November the
females and the young ones quit the fields, and proceed in troops to
barns, where they commit infinite havock, by destroying the straw,
consuming the grain, and infecting every thing with their ordure. The
old males remain in the fields each in his respective hole, where they
accumulate acorns, beech-mast, &c. filling it to the very edge, and
remaining themselves at the bottom. They do not become torpid in the
winter, like the dormouse, but come out of their holes every fine day.
Those which reside in barns drive away all the mice and rats; and it
has even been remarked, that the common rats are less frequent in the
environs of Paris since the surmulot became so numerous.


THE ALPINE MARMOT.

Of all modern writers upon Natural History Gesner has done most
to enlarge our knowledge in this science. Aldrovandus is little
more than his commentator, and those of less repute are his mere
copyists; we shall not, therefore, hesitate to follow him in treating
of the Marmots, (_fig. 91._) which are natives of his own country
(Switzerland), and of which he must have been better informed than
those who may have accidentally kept a few in their houses. And as
his remarks perfectly coincide with those observations we had an
opportunity to make, we can have no reason to doubt that what he
further relates is equally to be depended upon. The marmot, when taken
young, is easily tamed; more than most wild animals, and almost as
much as our domestic ones. It is soon learnt to perform feats with a
stick, to dance, and to readily obey the voice of its master. Like
the cat it has an antipathy to dogs; when it has become familiar in
the house, and finds itself protected by its master, it will attack
the largest dog, and fasten on them with his teeth. It is not quite
so large as a hare, but more stout, and has great strength joined to
peculiar agility. He has four strong teeth in the front, with which
he bites terribly; but unless provoked he neither attacks dogs nor
men; but if care is not taken he will gnaw furniture, and even make
holes through wooden partitions. As his thighs are short, and his toes
formed like the bear, he often sits erect, and walks with ease upon
his hind feet; he puts food to his mouth with the fore paws, and eats
like a squirrel. He runs much swifter up hill than on a plain; climbs
trees, and mounts the clefts of rocks, or contiguous walls, with great
facility; so much so that it is said the Savoyards, who are the general
chimney-sweepers of Paris, learned from the marmot their trade. They
eat indiscriminately whatever is given them, whether flesh, bread,
fruit, herbs, roots, pulse, or insects, but of milk and butter they
are particularly fond; and, though less inclined to theft than the cat,
they industriously endeavour to get into a dairy, where they will lap
great quantities of milk, purring all the while like a cat when she
is pleased. Milk, indeed, is the only liquid for which they shew any
inclination, as they seldom drink water, and refuse wine.

There seems to be a combination of the bear and the rat in the form
of the marmot, yet it is not the _arctomys_, or _rat-bear_ of the
ancients, as Perrault, and several others have imagined. Its nose,
lips, and form of the head, are like those of the hare; it has the
hair and claws of the badger, the teeth of the beaver, the whiskers of
the cat, the eyes of the loir, the feet of a bear, with a tufted tail
and short ears. The hair on its back is a reddish brown, more or less
dark, and very harsh, that on the belly is reddish, and more soft. Its
voice resembles that of a young dog when played with or caressed, but
when irritated or frightened it raises a cry, so loud and shrill, that
it hurts the drum of the ear. It is a very clean animal, and retires,
like the cat, upon necessary occasions; but, like the rat, it has a
very strong disagreeable smell, especially in the summer. In autumn it
is loaded with fat, though all parts of the body are never equally
so. The back and reins are loaded with fat which is firm and solid;
therefore the marmot would make very good eating, if it did not retain
a disagreeable smell, which would require the strongest seasoning to
conceal.

This animal, which delights in the regions of frost and snow, and
which is only found on the highest mountains, is, of all others, most
liable to be benumbed with the cold. About the end of September, or
beginning of October, it retires to its hole, and appears no more till
the beginning of April. His retreat is formed with precaution, and
furnished with art. It is rather wider than long, and very deep, so
that it will hold several of them without crowding, or injuring the air
they breathe. Their feet and claws appear as if designed for digging,
and with which they remove the earth with great facility, throwing
it behind them as they proceed. The form of their hole resembles the
letter Y; the two branches having an opening which terminates in
one wherein they reside. As the whole is made on the declivity of a
mountain there is no part on a level but the innermost apartment.
One branch of the Y slopes downward, and in which they void their
excrements, and the other slopes upwards, and serves them as a door
to go in and out. The inner part is warmly lined with moss and hay, of
which they make an ample provision during summer. It is even asserted
that this is a public work, that some cut the finest grass, that others
collect it, and that they take their turns in conveying it to their
hole; upon this occasion, it is added, that one of them lies upon his
back, permits the hay to be heaped upon his belly, keeps his legs
extended, and in this manner the others drag him by the tail to their
common retreat; and this practice is assigned as the reason for the
hair being generally worn away from their backs. But it appears more
probable, that their being constantly employed in digging up the earth
is the cause of that appearance. Be this as it may, certain it is that
they dwell together, and labour in common to make their habitations,
in which they pass three-fourths of their lives; they retire to it in
stormy or rainy weather, and at the approach of danger; they never go
out but in the finest weather, and even then to no great distance: on
these occasions one stands as sentinel upon an elevated place, while
the others are sporting in the fields, or cutting the grass for hay,
and no sooner does he perceive a man, an eagle, a dog, &c. than he
gives the alarm by a kind of whistle, and is himself the last to enter
the cell.

They make no provision for winter, as if they foresaw that such
a precaution would be useless; but when they perceive the first
approaches of the season, in which they will be in a torpid state,
they close up the entrance of their dwelling, and which they effect
with so much solidity and care, that it is much more easy to dig up
the earth in any other part. They are at this time very fat, and some
of them will weigh twenty pounds; in this plight they remain three
months, after which they waste by degrees, and are quite thin by the
end of winter. When discovered in their retreats they are rolled up
like balls, and covered with hay; in this state they may be taken away,
and even killed, without shewing any sense of pain. The fattest are
generally taken for food, and the young ones kept for taming. Like
the dormouse they are revived by a gradual heat, and those kept warm
in a house never become torpid, but are as lively in the winter as
at any other time. We have already observed that the torpid state is
occasioned by the congelation of the blood, and it is remarked in the
Philosophical Transactions, No. 397, that when in this state of torpor,
the circulation of the blood is slow, the secretions languid, and the
blood not being renewed by fresh acquisitions of chyle, is then without
serum. Besides it is uncertain whether they remain for seven or eight
months in a torpid state as most authors pretend. Their burrows are
deep, and they live together in great numbers; they therefore must
retain their heat some time, and may then feed on the grass they have
treasured up. M. Altman, in his Treatise on the animals of Switzerland,
says, that the hunters let the marmots remain three weeks or a month
unmolested in their cells; that they never dig for them in mild
weather, as without this precaution the animals awake, and penetrate
deeper in the earth; but that on opening their cells in hard frosts
they find them in so torpid a state, as to be carried off without
difficulty; it may therefore be concluded that, in all respects, they
resemble the dormice, and that if they are longer in a torpid state, it
is because the winter is longer in the climates which they inhabit.

These animals produce but once a year, and rarely more than three or
four at a time. They grow very fast, their lives do not extend beyond
nine or ten years, and this species is neither numerous nor much
diffused. The Greeks knew it not, or at least have not mentioned it.
Pliny is the first who takes notice of it among the Latins under the
name of _mus Alpinus_, or Alpine rat; and, indeed, though there are
many other species of rats in the Alps, there is none so remarkable as
the marmot, or like it dwells upon the brow of the loftiest mountains;
all the other species fix their abode in the valleys, or at least on
the sides of the lower hills or mountains; besides the marmot never
descends to the lower grounds but seem particularly attached to the
Alpine heights, where it chooses such places as are exposed to the
south or east in preference to the north or west. They are also found
on the Appenine and Pyrenean mountains, and on the highest ones in
Germany.

The Bobak of Poland, to which M. Brisson, and after him Mess. Arnault
of Nobleville, and Salerne, have given the name of Marmot, differs from
that animal in colour, and also in the number of toes, having five on
the fore-feet. From which we may conclude that the _bobak_, or Polish
marmot, the _mouax_, or Canadian marmot, the _cavia_, or marmot of
Bahama, and the _cricet_, or Strasburgh marmot, are different species
from the marmot of the Alps.


SUPPLEMENT.

I have received the drawing of a _monax_, or marmot of Canada, from
Mr. Collinson, but which appears to differ very much from the Alpine
marmot, its head not being of the same shape, and less covered with
hair, as is also the tail which is considerably longer. The _whistler_
mentioned by Baron Hontan, as found in Canada, is most probably of this
species, as his description nearly answers to it. He says it is called
whistler by the Canadians, because in fine weather they whistle at the
mouth of their holes; which we have before remarked is done by our
Alpine marmots, especially by the one appointed to stand as a guard.

An animal in Kamtschatka is called marmot by the Russian travellers:
they say its skin is beautiful, and at a distance it resembles the
plumage of a bird; and add, that it uses its fore-feet like a squirrel,
and feeds on roots, berries, and cedar-nuts; the latter however seems
to indicate an error, as the real cedar bears cones, and the other
trees so called, berries.

There is another species which comes from the Cape of Good Hope; this
was first spoken of by M. Allamand, but more fully described by M.
Pallas, and M. Vosmaer, who had one of them alive at Amsterdam; he
says it is known at the Cape by the name of the Rock Badger, merely
because it lives under the earth and in rocks, but has no resemblance
to that animal; and, as Kolbe justly remarks, that it resembles more
the marmot than the badger, we have called it the Marmot of the Cape.
M. Vosmaer observes in his description of it, that it was about the
size of a rabbit, had a large belly, fine eyes, and black hair upon its
eyebrows, above which it had a few long black hairs that turned towards
the head, and long whiskers. Its colour was grey, or rather a yellowish
brown intermixed with black hairs, much darker upon the head and back
than upon the belly, which as well as the breast was whitish, and it
had a white stroke across the shoulders which ended at the top of the
fore-legs.


THE BEAR.

There is no animal so generally known, about which naturalists have
differed so much as the bear, their doubts and even contradictions,
with respect to the nature and manners of this animal, seem to have
arisen from their not distinguishing the different species, and
consequently ascribing to one the properties belonging to another. In
the first place, the land-bear (_fig. 92._) must not be confounded
with the sea-bear, or as it is commonly called the white bear (_fig.
93._), or bear of the frozen sea; these animals being very different
both in the form of their bodies and natural dispositions. The land
bears must be also distinguished into two species, the brown and
the black, because having neither the same inclinations nor natural
appetites, they cannot be considered as varieties of the same species.
Besides, there are some land bears that are white, but which, although
they resemble the sea-bear in colour, differ from it in every other
particular. These white land-bears we meet with in Great Tartary,
Muscovy, Lithuania, and other northern countries. It is not the rigour
of the climate which renders them white during the winter, like the
hares and ermines, for they are brought forth white and remain so all
their lives. We ought, therefore, to consider them as a fourth species,
if there were not also found bears with an intermixture of brown and
white, which denotes an intermediate race between the white land-bear,
and the brown or black, consequently the former is only a variety of
one of those species.

_Engraved for Barr's Buffon._

[Illustration: FIG. 92. _Brown Bear._]

[Illustration: FIG. 93. _White Bear._]

We frequently meet with the brown bear in the Alps, but the black-bear
very rarely. But in the forests of the northern countries of Europe and
America, the latter is very common. The brown one is both fierce and
carnivorous, but the black-bear is only wild, and constantly refuses to
eat flesh. Of this we cannot give a more striking testimony than what
M. du Pratz relates in his history of Louisiana. "The bear," says he,
(speaking of the black one) "appears in Louisiana in winter, because
the snows which cover the northern countries prevent him from procuring
his usual food, which consists of roots, acorns, and vegetables in
general; but milk and honey form his favourite repast, and when he
meets with those articles he will sooner die than relinquish them.
In defiance of the prevailing notion that the bear is carnivorous, I
maintain, with every person of this province, and the circumjacent
countries, that he is not so. These animals have never been known to
devour men, nor even to eat butcher's meat, notwithstanding their
multitude, and the excesses of hunger which they often suffer. While
I resided at the Natches, one winter was so severe in the northern
regions, that the bears flocked from them in great numbers; so great
indeed that they starved each other, and were very meagre. In the night
they were frequently seen roaming into houses and farm-yards, which
were not properly shut, where they might have feasted upon meat, but
they never touched it, nor devoured aught but such grain as they could
pick up. If they had possessed a carnivorous disposition, it must have
shewn itself upon such a pressing occasion. They never kill animals
to devour them; and were they in reality carnivorous, they would
not abandon their own snowy regions, where they might find men and
animals at discretion, to search for fruit and roots, an aliment which
carnivorous tribes reject." M. du Pratz adds in a note, that since
writing the above passage, he had learned, with certainty, that in the
mountains of Savoy there are bears of two sorts, the one black, like
those of Louisiana, not carnivorous, and the other red, which are as
much so as wolves.

De Hontan remarks in his travels that the bears of Canada are very
black, but by no means dangerous, and that they never attack the human
species unless when fired at and wounded. In another place he adds that
the reddish ones are exceedingly mischievous, and that they uniformly
attack the huntsmen, whereas the black ones fly from them. According
to Wormius there are three kinds in Norway. The first (_Bressdiur_)
is very large, not altogether black but rather brownish, is not
destructive, but lives solely on herbs and leaves of trees; the second
(_Ildgiersduir_) is smaller, blacker, and carnivorous, frequently
attacking horses and other animals, especially in autumn; the third
(_Myrebiorn_) is still smaller and mischievous, he feeds on ants and
delights in demolishing their hillocks. It has been remarked, adds this
author (but without any proof) that these three kinds copulate together
and produce intermediate species; that those which are carnivorous
attack flocks like the wolf, killing the whole and eating only one
or two; that they also eat wild fruits, and that when the fruit of
the service tree is in season, they are the most dangerous, because
it sets their teeth on an edge which can only be allayed by blood or
grease. But the generality of what Wormius relates on this head is
highly equivocal, for we have no example of animals whose appetites are
so different as the two first, the one living on herbs, and the other
on flesh and blood, copulating together and producing intermediate
species. Besides he mentions the black bear as carnivorous, and
the brown one as frugivorous, which is inconsistent with truth,
and contradicted by facts. It is also to be observed that Father
Rzaczynski, of Poland, and M. Klein, of Dantzic, in treating of the
bears of their own countries, admit of but two species, the black and
the brown, or red; describing two kinds of the latter, the one large
and the other small. They state the black bears to be rare, and the
brown ones very common; that the black kind are the largest and feed on
ants, and that the largest of the red or brown are most carnivorous and
destructive. These testimonies, as well as those of Du Pratz and de la
Hontan are contradictory to what Wormius asserts. Indeed it seems to be
a certain fact that the red or brown bears which are found not only in
Savoy, but on the high mountains, in the vast forests, and in almost
all the desarts of the earth, devour live animals and even carcasses
when in a putrid state. Black bears are seldom found in cold countries,
but the red or brown ones we find in the cold, temperate, and even
in the southern regions. In Greece they were common, and to heighten
their shews the Romans introduced them from Lybia. They are now to be
met with in China, Japan, Arabia, Egypt, and as far as the island of
Java. Aristotle also speaks of white land bears, but considers this
difference in colour as accidental, and originating from a defect in
generation. Thus the bear is a resident in all desart, mountainous, and
woody countries; but in open, populous, and cultivated regions he is a
stranger. There are none in England or France, except possibly a few in
the most unfrequented mountains of the latter.

The bear is not only a savage but a solitary animal; he takes refuge in
the most unfrequented places, and dangerous precipices of uninhabited
mountains: he chooses his den in the most gloomy parts of the forests,
in a cavern hollowed out by time, or in the decayed trunk of some
old tree. Thither he retires alone, and passes part of the winter
without eating or ever stirring abroad. He is not, however, deprived
of sensation, like the dormouse or marmot, but being exceedingly fat
towards the end of autumn, which is the time he retires, he seems
rather to subsist on the exuberance of his former flesh, and does
not quit his retreat until he is nearly wasted. We are told that the
male quits his den towards the expiration of forty days, but that the
female remains four months, by which time she has brought forth her
young; that they not only subsist but nourish their young, without
taking any food for such a length of time I think highly improbable.
I allow that when with young they are exceedingly fat, and also, that
being covered with very thick hair, sleeping the greatest part of the
time, and taking no exercise, they must lose little by perspiration.
But, if it be true, that the males are impelled by hunger to quit
their retreats at the end of forty days, it is not natural to imagine
that the females should feel a less want of food, after bringing forth
and suckling their young ones, unless we suppose that, like cats,
they sometimes devour their offspring, of which, in my opinion, there
is no probability. Besides, at present we speak only of the brown
bear, the males of which do, in reality, devour their new-born cubs
when they find them; but the females seem to love their offspring
with a ferocious ardour. When they have brought forth their fury is
more violent and dangerous than that of the males. They will expose
themselves to any danger, they will combat any thing in defence of
their young, which are not, as the ancients have said, without form
when born, but attain their full growth nearly as soon as other
animals; before they leave the womb their formation is perfect, and if
the foetus, or young cub, seems at first glance to be unformed, it is
merely because there is a want of proportion in the body and members
of the grown bear; and that the foetus, or new-born animal, is more
disproportioned than the aged, is well known to be the case in all
species.

The bears couple in autumn; and the female is said to be more ardent
than the male. It is pretended that she lies on her back to receive
him, that she folds him with her paws, and holds him a long time, but
the fact is they copulate like other quadrupeds. Bears, while confined
with a chain, have been seen to copulate and produce, but how long the
females go with young is not accurately known. Aristotle has limited it
to thirty days, a fact which has never been contradicted, and which as
I cannot authenticate, I will neither affirm nor deny, but assign my
reasons for thinking it doubtful; which are, first because the bear is
a large animal, and the larger the animal the longer time is required
for its formation in the womb; secondly, because the young bear is very
slow of growth, follows the mother, and requires her succour for a year
or two; thirdly, because the female produces only from one to four, and
never more than five, a circumstance common to all large animals who
produce but few and carry them long; fourthly, because the bear lives
from 20 to 25 years, and the time of gestation, and that of growth,
are usually proportioned to the duration of life. From these analagous
principles I conclude that the bear carries her young several months.
Be this as it may, the mother takes the greatest care of her offspring.
She brings forth in winter, previous to which she provides a bed of
hay and moss at the bottom of her den, and suckles her young till they
are able to follow her in the spring. The male and female reside not
together, but have separate retreats, and that at a distance from each
other. When they cannot find a cavern for a den they break and collect
branches which having placed they cover with herbs and leaves, so as to
render it impenetrable to rain.

The voice of the bear is a kind of harsh deep murmur, which, when he is
enraged, is heightened by the grinding of his teeth. He is susceptible
of anger, which is always furious and often capricious. However mild,
and even obedient he may appear to his master, he ought to be treated
with distrust and circumspection; nor upon any account should he be
struck upon the nose, or on the parts of generation. He may be taught
to stand on his hind legs, and to dance in a rude and awkward measure;
but for this it is necessary he should be taken young, and held in
constant restraint. An old bear is not to be tamed, nor even held in
awe, and shews himself, if not intrepid, at least fearless of danger.
The wild bear turns not out of his path, nor offers to shun the sight
of man; and yet, it is said, that by a certain whistle he is so far
surprised and confounded as to rise upon his hind feet. This is the
time to shoot and endeavour to kill him, for when only wounded in an
attack he darts with fury on his foe, and clasping him with his fore
paws is sure to stifle or strangle him, unless immediately assisted.

Bears are chaced and taken in several manners; in Sweden, Norway,
Poland, &c. the least dangerous method, it is said, is to intoxicate
them, by pouring brandy, or other spirits, upon honey, which being
their favorite food they search for in the hollows of trees. In
Louisiana and Canada, where the black bears are common, and where they
reside in the decayed parts of old trees, they are taken by setting
fire to their retreats, which, as they climb trees with great ease,
are sometimes 30 or 40 feet high. If this attack be made upon a female
with her young, she descends first and is killed before she reaches the
ground; as the cubs follow they are easily secured, by throwing a noose
round their necks, and are carried home, either to rear, or kill for
eating. The flesh of the young is delicate and good, and that of the
old one eatable; but as the latter is mixed with an oily fat, the paws
alone, which are more firm, can be considered as a delicacy.

The hunting of the bear without being dangerous, is highly profitable,
when attended with success; of all coarse furs their skins are the
most valuable, and the quantity of oil procured from one bear is
considerable. The flesh and fat are boiled together, and then the oil
is separated; "this done", says Du Pratz, "it is purified by throwing
into it, while very hot a large quantity of salt and water; a thick
smoke arises which carries off the disagreeable smell of the fat;
when the smoke is evaporated they pour the grease, while still warm,
into a pot, where it is left to settle for eight or ten days, at the
expiration of which a clear oil is found swimming at the top; this is
taken off with ladles, is equally good with the best olive oil, and
is used for the same purposes. Under it remains a lard as white as
hog's-lard, but rather more soft, and which has neither a disagreeable
taste or smell." This account of M. du Pratz is perfectly acceded
to by M. Dumont, who adds, that the savages of Louisiana carry on a
considerable traffic with the French in this oil from the bears, that
it never loses its fluidity but in intense frosts, when it becomes
clotted, is of a dazzling whiteness, and is then eaten upon bread like
butter. The author of the Dictionnaire du Commerce says, that good
bear's-grease should be grey, viscid, and of a disagreeable flavour,
and when very white it is adulterated with suet. It is used as a
topical remedy for tumours, rheumatic, and other complaints, and many
people have a high opinion of its salutary properties.

From their great quantity of fat, bears are excellent swimmers. In
Louisiana, Dumont says, they cross that great river with perfect ease;
they are very fond of the fruit of the _guiacana_, the trees of which
they climb, and sit astride upon the branches to eat it; they are also
partial to potatoes and yams. In autumn they are so fat that they can
hardly walk, at least they cannot run as fast as a man; it is sometimes
ten inches thick on their sides and thighs. The under part of their
paws is large and swelled, and when cut there issues out a white milky
juice. This part seems composed of glands resembling small nipples, and
this is the reason why they continually suck their paws when confined
to their dens during winter.

The bear enjoys the sense of seeing, hearing, and feeling, in great
perfection, although compared with his size, his eye is small, his
ears short, and his skin coarse and covered with a quantity of hair.
His smell, is, perhaps, more exquisite than that of any other animal;
the internal surface of his nose being very extensive and excellently
calculated to receive impressions from odoriferous bodies. Their legs
and arms are fleshy, like those of man, and they strike with their
paws in the same manner as he does with his fists; they have also a
short heel bone, which makes part of the sole of the foot; in their
kind of hands the thumb is not separated, and the largest finger is on
the outside; but whatever rude resemblance they may have to the human
species, they only render them the more deformed without giving them
the smallest superiority over other animals.


SUPPLEMENT.

Since the publication of the original work I have received the
following particulars from M. de Musly, a major in the service of the
States General. He says, that at Berne, they have several bears in a
kind of domestic state, which are kept in large square ditches lined
at the sides and bottom with stone, and where they have room to walk
about they have dens made for them, which are also paved, on a level
with the bottom of the ditch; these are divided into two by walls, and
are occasionally shut with iron gates; troughs of fresh water are set
for them in each ditch, and holes are left in the pavement sufficient
to set up large trees on an end. Thirty-one years since two young brown
bears were brought thither from Savoy, the male of which was killed by
a fall from one of the trees into the ditch about two months ago (this
account is dated October 17, 1771), and the female is still alive. At
the age of five years they began to generate, and from that time they
regularly came in season in the month of June, and the female brought
forth in January. The first time, she had only one; since she has had
from one to three, but never more; the three last years she had one
each time, and the man who looks after her thinks she is now pregnant.
When first whelped they are yellow, and white round the neck, and have
not the smallest appearance of bears; they are blind four weeks; they
measure about eight inches at first, and at the end of three months
fourteen or fifteen; they are then almost round, and have a sharp
pointed snout; they are by no means strong until they are full grown,
before which time the white hair is quite gone, having decreased by
degrees, and the yellow is changed into a brown.

The male and female sometimes fight furiously, growling horribly at
each other, but when in season the latter generally gets the better.
The ditches in which these two bears were formerly kept, being to be
filled up, they were necessarily separated for a few hours while
removing to the other ditches prepared for them; on their meeting again
they raised themselves on their hind legs, and embraced each other in
a kind of rapture; and upon the death of the male, the female was much
affected, and refused to eat for several days. But this attachment
is not common to them, for unless brought up and fed together from
very young cubs they cannot bear each other; yet after living thus
together, the survivor will not admit the approaches of another. They
are very fond of climbing the trees put into the ditches, which are
green larches, and placed there every May. They are commonly fed with
rye-bread soaked in water; and they will eat all sorts of fruits. When
the female is near her time, she is furnished with plenty of straw,
which she appropriates for her use, and then the male is removed, lest
he should devour the young ones; they are allowed to remain with their
mother for the space of ten weeks, when they are removed, and fed for
some time with bread and biscuit.

M. de Musly afterwards informed me that the female they had thought
pregnant was supplied with straw at the necessary time, but though she
made a bed and rested upon it for three weeks, she did not bring forth
anything; therefore the last time she brought forth she had but one,
and was at the age of thirty-one years. He likewise adds, that there
are brown bears on Mount Jura, in Franche-comté, and in the county of
Gex, which come into the plains in autumn, and do great damage in the
chesnut woods.

There are two species of bears in Norway, one of which is much smaller
than the other; in both there are different colours, such as dark
and light brown, grey, and every shade of white, at least so says
Pontoppidan; and also that they retire to the dens which they have
prepared in October. Being very formidable, when wounded, three or
four hunters usually go together, and as he easily kills large dogs,
they use small ones, which run under his belly and seize him by the
genitals; when nearly overpowered, he places himself against a tree,
and throws tufts or stones at his foes, until he is dispatched.

In the menagerie of Chantilly there is an American bear, with fine,
soft, straight black hair, whose head is longer, and snout shorter than
the bears of Europe. And M. de Bertram mentions a bear that was killed
near St. John's river in East Florida, which was seven feet long,
weighed 400lbs. and from which 60 Paris pints of oil were drawn.


THE BEAVER.

AS man becomes civilized and improved, other animals are repressed and
degraded. Reduced to servitude, or treated as rebels, and dispersed by
force, all their societies are dissolved, and their talents rendered
nugatory; their arts have disappeared, and they now retain nothing
but their solitary instincts, or those foreign habits which they have
acquired by example or human education. For this reason there remain no
traces of their ancient talents and industry, except in those countries
where man is a stranger, and where, undisturbed by him for a long
succession of ages, they have freely exercised their natural talents,
brought them to their limited perfection and been capable of uniting
in their common designs. The beaver seems to be the only remaining
monument of that intelligence in brutes, which though infinitely
inferior in principle to that of man, supposes common projects and
relative views; projects which having society for their basis, and for
their object the construction of a dike, the erection of a residence,
or the foundation of a republic, imply some method of understanding
each other, and of acting in concert.

The beaver is said to be among quadrupeds what the bee is among
insects. Of societies there are three species in nature which we ought
to consider attentively before we begin to compare them; namely, the
free society of man, to which, next to God, he is indebted for all
his power; the constrained society of large animals, always rendered
transitory by the human species; and the forced society of certain
little animals, which, coming into existence at one time, and in the
same place, are obliged to live together. An individual, solitary as he
comes from the hands of the Creator, is a sterile being, whose industry
is confined to the use of his senses; nor is man himself, in a state of
pure nature, unassisted by the aids of society, capable of multiplying
or of being edified. All society, on the contrary, necessarily becomes
fruitful, provided it be composed of beings of the same nature. From
the necessity of seeking or avoiding each other, a succession of common
movements will follow, from which frequently some work will result that
has the appearance of having been conceived, conducted, and executed
with intelligence. Thus the labours of the bee, which in a given place,
such as a hive, or the hollow of an old tree, forms its own cell; those
of the Cayenne fly, which is not only the architect of its own cell but
the hive which is to contain it, are labours purely mechanical, and
suppose no intelligence, no concerted project, no general views, but
nothing more than physical necessities. A result of common movements,
is at all times and places, performed in the same manner, by a swarm
of little creatures not assembled from choice, but united by the force
of nature. It is not society but numbers that operate in this case;
it is a blind power which cannot be compared to that light by which
all society is directed; I speak not of that pure light, that ray of
divinity which has been communicated to man alone, and of which the
beaver is certainly as destitute as any other animal. As their society
is formed rather by a kind of choice than necessity, so it supposes at
least a general concurrence and common views; it implies also a beam
of intelligence, which, though widely different from that of man in
principle, produces effects so similar as to warrant a comparison, not
indeed with society, as it is found among civilized nations, but as it
appears among savages just emerging from absolute solitude; a society
which, with propriety, can alone be compared with that of animals.

Let us then examine the produce of these societies, let us inquire how
far the art of the savage extends, and where the talents of the beaver
is limited. To break down a branch, to use it as a staff, to build a
hut and cover it with leaves for shelter, to collect moss or hay, and
to make a bed of them, are acts common to the animal and to the savage.
To rub a stone so as to render it an edged instrument for cutting or
stripping the bark of trees, for sharpening arrows, for flaying an
animal, in order to make a covering of its skin; to make bow-strings
of its sinews, to fix those sinews to a thorn or bone, and use them as
needles and thread, these are acts which may all be performed by a man
in a state of solitude, and without assistance from others, since they
depend solely on his conformation, and only suppose him to have the use
of his hands. But, to cut down, and transport a large tree, to raise
a mole, or build a village, are, on the contrary, operations which
necessarily suppose common labours and concerted views; these are the
only performances which result from immature society in savage nations;
while the operations of the beavers are the fruits of a perfected
society among those animals; for it is to be observed, that they never
attempt to build but in countries where they are in no danger of having
their tranquillity interrupted.

There are beavers in Languedoc, in the islands of the Rhone, and many
in the northern provinces of Europe; but as all those countries are
inhabited, or at least frequented by men, the beavers there, as well as
all other animals, are dispersed, forlorn, and timid creatures. There
they have never been known to assemble, or undertake any common work:
whereas in desert regions, where human society was formed later, where
some few vestiges of savages alone could be traced, beavers were every
where seen united, forming societies, and constructing works which were
the admiration of every beholder. Of this I shall endeavour to quote
such testimonies as are most judicious and least liable to censure,
and shall only consider as certain those facts which are confirmed by
common consent. Less inclined to indulge admiration, perhaps, than some
writers, I shall not hesitate to doubt, and even to criticise, whatever
may seem too improbable to demand our belief.

It is generally allowed that the beaver, far from having a superiority
over other animals, seems to be inferior to many of them, in his merely
individual qualities; and this fact I am enabled to confirm, by having
had a young beaver, which was sent me from Canada, in 1758, alive in my
possession for more than a twelvemonth. This animal is mild, peaceable,
and familiar; it is rather inclined to be gloomy and melancholy; it has
no violent or vehement passions, its movements are slow, it makes few
efforts, unless to gain its liberty, which it frequently attempts by
gnawing the gate of its prison, but without violence or precipitation.
In other respects it seems to be perfectly indifferent, forming no
attachments,[Q] and is as little inclined to offend as to please. He
is inferior to the dog in the relative qualities which might make
him approach to man; he appears formed neither to serve, command,
or even to associate with any species but his own. His talents are
repressed by solitude, and it is by society with his own kind they are
brought into action. When alone he has little industry, few tricks,
and not sufficient distrust to avoid the most obvious snares. Far from
attacking any other animal, he has scarcely art to defend himself;
always preferring flight to combat, he only resists when driven to an
extremity, and then bites very hard with his teeth.

[Q] M. Klein, however, says that he kept a beaver for several years,
which followed and would go in quest of him, as dogs search for their
masters.

If then we consider this animal, in a state of nature, or rather in his
dispersed and solitary state, we shall find that his internal qualities
are not superior to other animals; he has not the genius of a dog,
the sense of an elephant, nor the cunning of a fox; and he is rather
remarkable for external singularities than for any apparent superiority
of internal qualities. The beaver is the only animal who has a flat,
oval tail, covered with scales, which serves as a rudder to direct his
course in the water; the only one that has his hind-feet webbed, and
the toes of his fore-feet separate, which he uses to convey food to his
mouth; the only one which resembles a land animal in the fore parts,
and approaches the nature of an aquatic one in the hinder, in short
he forms the same shade between quadrupeds and fishes, as the bat
forms between quadrupeds and birds. But these singularities would be
rather defects than perfections, if the beaver did not derive from this
conformation peculiar advantages which render him superior to all other
animals.

The beavers begin to assemble in June or July in order to form
themselves into a society. They arrive in numbers from all sides, and
soon form a company of two or three hundred; the place of meeting is
generally that where they intend to fix their abode, and is always by
the side of some lake or river. If it be a lake wherein the waters
always remain upon a level they dispense with making a dam; but if it
be a running stream, subject to floods and falls, they build a bank
or pier quite across so as to secure a piece of water always at the
same height, and this bank is frequently from 80 to 100 feet long, and
ten or twelve thick at the base. If we compare the greatness of the
work with the size[R] of the architect, it will appear enormous, but
the solidity with which it is constructed is still more astonishing.
They commonly choose that part of the river which is most shallow,
and if possible, where some large tree is growing by the side of the
stream; this they instantly set about cutting down, and although it is
sometimes much thicker than a man's body, they very soon accomplish it
without any other instrument than their four incisive teeth; and they
always contrive to make it fall across the stream; they next cut off
the top branches to make it lie level. These operations are performed
in common. Several are employed at the foot of the tree in gnawing it
down, others sever the branches, while others are, at the same time,
engaged in parties along the banks of the river in cutting smaller
trees, from the size of a man's leg to that of his thigh; these being
cut to a certain length, they drag, by land, to the brink of the river,
and then by water to the place allotted for their building; having
pointed them at one end, they sink them down at small distances from
each other, and then interweave them with pliant branches; the placing
of these piles is the most difficult part of their operations, but
they accomplish it by one party supporting the thick end with their
teeth, while others plunge to the bottom and dig holes with their feet
to receive the points that they may stand upright. While some are thus
employed, others bring earth and clay, which they prepare for their
purpose with their feet and tails; and they transport it in such large
quantities, that they block up all the intervals between the piles.
These piles are formed by a number of stakes in several rows, exactly
of a height; they are placed opposite to each other, and extend across
the river: that this embankment may sustain the weight of the water,
it is made sloping, so that although it is twelve feet at the base, it
is not more than three at the top; from which ingenious contrivance it
has not only the requisite thickness and solidity, but also a form of
others the most proper for confining the water, maintaining its weight,
and baffling its attacks. Near the top of this bank they make two or
three openings for the superfluous water to escape, and which they
occasionally enlarge or contract as the river rises or falls; and when
by any sudden inundations their work is damaged on the retreat of the
waters they repair it with the utmost diligence.

[R] The largest beavers weigh from 50 to 60 pounds, and are seldom more
than three feet in length, measuring from the tip of the nose to the
insertion of the tail.

After this display of their public labours, it would be superfluous
to add a description of their private constructions, were it not
necessary that, in history, an account should be given of every fact,
and where not this first great work of the beaver, made with an uniform
intention to render their smaller habitations more commodious. These
habitations are partly built upon piles on the banks of the river, and
have two openings, one for the purpose of land, and the other for water
excursions; they are either round or oval, and are of various sizes,
from four to eight or ten feet in diameter; some of them consist of
three or four stories, and their walls are about two feet thick, raised
upon planks, which serve at once for foundations and floors. When they
consist of but one story, the walls are only a few feet perpendicular,
and then raised in a curve, which terminates in a doom or vault, and
serves as a covering. They are constructed with such solidity as to be
impenetrable to the heaviest rains, to defy the most impetuous winds,
and are plastered with excessive neatness, both within and without,
as much so as if they were actually done by the hand of man; yet they
use no other instrument for the preparation of this mortar than their
feet, or for its application than their tails. They chiefly use wood,
stone, sandy earth, and such materials as are not easily dissolved with
water; for the wooden work they take such trees as grow on the banks
of rivers, which are more easily cut down, stripped of their bark, and
carried, than solid timber, all which they are sure to accomplish
upon a tree which they have once attacked. They begin to cut a tree
at the distance of a foot, or a foot and a half from the ground, and
they sit as they work, for besides the advantage of this convenient
posture, they have the pleasure of continually gnawing fresh bark and
soft wood, both of which they prefer to most other kinds of aliment;
and of these they provide an ample store for their subsistence during
winter[S], being averse to dry wood. It is in the water, and near
their habitations, that they establish their magazines; there is one
allotted to each cabin, proportioned to the number of its inhabitants,
to which they have all a common right, and never plunder their
neighbours. Some hamlets, if we may so call them, are composed of 20
or 25 cabins, but such large settlements are rare; generally they do
not consist of more than ten or a dozen families, each of which has its
own district, magazine, and habitation; nor will they allow strangers
to come into their neighbourhood. The smallest dwellings contain two,
four, or six; and the largest eighteen, twenty, and it is even asserted
thirty beavers; and it very seldom happens, that the males and females
are not of an equal number. Moderately speaking, therefore, their
society may be said frequently to consist of 150 or 200, who having at
first exerted their united industry in raising a great public work,
afterwards form themselves into different bodies to construct private
habitations.

[S] The space allotted for the provision of eight or ten beavers is
from 25 to 30 feet in length, and eight or ten feet broad and deep.

However numerous the society may be, peace and good order are uniformly
maintained; their union is strengthened by a common quantity of toil,
and confirmed by the conveniences they have jointly procured; and
the abundance of provisions which they amass and consume together,
render them happy within themselves. Having moderate appetites, and
an aversion to flesh and blood, they have not the smallest propensity
to hostilities or rapine, but actually enjoy all those blessings
which man knows only how to desire. Friends to each other, if they
have threatened enemies abroad they know how to avoid them; and on
the first alarm they give notice of their mutual danger by striking
the water with their tail, the sound of which is heard in their most
distant dwellings; immediately each provides for himself as he thinks
most expedient; some plunge into the water, others conceal themselves
within the walls of their own habitations, which is in no danger but
from the fire of heaven, or weapons of man, and which no animal dares
attempt to open or overturn. These asylums are not only secure but neat
and commodious. The floors are covered with verdure; young branches of
the box and fir serving them for carpets, and upon which they do not
suffer the smallest dirt. The window that fronts the water they use
as a balcony to enjoy the fresh air, and to bathe, which they do the
greatest part of the day, sitting in an upright posture in the water,
with their heads and fore parts only visible. This element appears
so necessary, or at least so pleasing, that they seem unable to do
without frequent immersions in it; therefore, in making this window,
they are very careful to guard against its being blocked up by the
ice; when the river is frozen over, they make an opening in it, and
swim a considerable way under the ice; at which times they are easily
taken, by attacking the dwelling on one hand, and at the same time
lying in wait for them at a hole purposely made in the ice at some
distance, and to which they are obliged to come for breath. The habit
of continually keeping their tails and hinder parts in the water, seems
to have changed the nature of their flesh: that of the fore parts,
as far as the reins, has the taste and consistency of the flesh of
land-animals, while the tail and posteriors have the smell, savour,
and other qualities of fish. As for the tail it is even an extremity,
an actual portion of a fish fixed to the body of a quadruped; it is a
foot long, an inch thick, and five or six inches broad; it is entirely
covered with scales, and has a skin altogether the same as that of a
large fish. These scales may be scraped off with a knife, and then the
impressions are to be seen on the skin as in all scaly fishes.

It is in the beginning of summer that the beavers assemble; they employ
July and August in the construction of their banks and habitations;
in September they collect their provisions of bark and wood, and
afterwards, enjoying the fruits of their labour, they experience the
sweets of domestic tranquillity; this is the time of repose, and what
is more the season of love. Acquainted with, and prepossessed in favour
of each other, from habit, from the pleasures and fatigues of a common
labour, no couple is formed at random, nor by physical necessity, but
by inclination and choice. Happy in each other, they pass the months
of autumn and winter together, and scarcely ever separate. With every
thing at home they can wish for, they never go out but upon agreeable
and useful excursions; on which occasions they bring home fresh bark,
which they prefer to what is too dry, or has been too much soaked
in water. The females are said to go four months with young; they
bring forth towards the close of winter, and have two or three at a
time. Nearly at this period the males leave them, and retire into the
country to enjoy all the sweets of the spring; they pay occasional
visits to their habitations, but reside there no more. The females,
however, remain in them employed in sucking, tending, and rearing their
young, who are in a condition to follow them at the expiration of a
few weeks; at which time they, in their turn, make some excursions,
feeding on crabs, fishes, and bark of young trees; and pass the whole
of the summer upon the water or in the woods. They are not thoroughly
collected again till autumn, unless their bank, or dwellings, should
happen to be damaged by an inundation, in which case they assemble
betimes to make the necessary repairs. They are more fond of residing
in some places than others, and have been observed to return every
summer, after their works have been repeatedly demolished, to repair
them, till harassed by this persecution, and weakened by the loss of
several of their troop, they have, with one consent, deserted it, and
retired to some more secure and less frequented neighbourhood.

Winter is the season principally allotted for hunting them, as it
is then only that their fur is in perfection; and when, after their
dwellings are demolished, a number of them are taken, their society
is never restored; but those which escape captivity or death, become
houseless wanderers. Their genius is overcome by apprehension, and
they never more attempt to exert it, but conceal themselves in holes
under ground, and reduced to the condition of other animals, they lead
a timid life, employing themselves only to satisfy their immediate
and urgent wants; nor do they any longer retain those qualities which
they so eminently possess in their social state. However marvellous
the description we have just given of the society of the beaver may
appear, it is beyond a doubt strictly consonant to truth. A number of
ocular witnesses have agreed in their writings to every fact I have
mentioned; and if the present recital differs from some authors whom I
have followed, it is only in such points as appeared to me to be too
marvellous and improbable to be believed. Many writers, not content
with ascribing to the beaver social manners, and evident talents for
architecture, have attributed to them general ideas of policy and
government. They have asserted that when their society is formed, they
reduce travellers and strangers of their own species into slavery; that
they employ them in carrying their clay and wood; that they treat in
the same manner the idle who will not, and the old who cannot, work;
that is, they throw them upon their backs, and use them as so many
vehicles to carry their materials; that they never assemble in an
even number, for the purpose of having, in all their deliberations, a
casting voice; that each tribe has its peculiar chief; that they have
sentinels established for the public security; that when chased they
tear off their testicles to satisfy the avarice of their pursuers;
that when thus mutilated they turn about and present themselves to
obtain mercy,[T] &c. Although we discredit these exaggerations, yet
we must not reject those facts which have been established by moral
certainties. A thousand times have the works of the beaver been
viewed, overturned, measured, designed, and engraved; and every doubt
is banished, by some of their fabrics still subsisting; for though
less common than when North America was first discovered, the latest
missionaries and travellers, who have visited the northern parts of
that continent, unanimously concur in having met with them.

[T] This is affirmed by Ælian, and all other ancient writers, Pliny
excepted, who absolutely denies it.

We are told by these that, besides the beavers who live in societies,
there are others which lead a life of solitude; having been rejected
from the body, for being guilty of some crime against it, and therefore
are not allowed to partake of its advantages; they have neither house
nor magazine, and are forced to live, like the badger, in holes under
ground. They are easily distinguished, from their coats being always
dirty, and their hair rubbed off by the friction of the earth. Like
the otters they inhabit the edge of rivers, where some of them dig a
ditch several feet deep, in order to make a pond that may reach to the
mouth of their hole, which has an internal ascent; there are, however,
others which live at a considerable distance from the water. All the
European beavers are solitary, and their fur is by no means so fine as
that of those who live in society. They differ in colour according to
the climate they inhabit. In the northern countries they are black,
and those are the finest, although among those there are some found
entirely white, some grey, and others with red spots. The further
they are removed from the north the more bright and varied we find
their colour. In the north part of Canada they are chesnut, and among
the Illinois they are yellow, or olive-coloured. There are beavers in
America from the 30th degree of north latitude to beyond the 60th.
They are common in the north part, and gradually decrease towards the
south. This is also the case in the Old Continent; we never find them
numerous except in the northern countries; in France, Spain, Italy,
Greece, and Egypt, they are very rare. They were known to the ancients,
and by the religion of the Magi it was forbidden to kill them. Upon
the borders of the Euxine sea they were common, and were called _canes
pontici_; but it is probable they did not enjoy much tranquillity in
the neighbourhood of this sea, (which from the earliest time has been
frequented by mankind) since none of the ancients speak either of their
society or labours. Ælian, in particular, who had such a propensity
to the marvellous, and who I believe was the first who mentioned
their dismembering themselves to delay the hunters, would never have
omitted enlarging on the wonders of their republic, and genius for
architecture. Would Pliny, whose bold, gloomy, and sublime genius was
always bent upon degrading man to exalt Nature; would he have forborne
to have compared the labours of Romulus with those of the beavers? It
seems, therefore, that their industry, and talents for building were
unknown to the ancients; and although in latter ages, beavers have been
found in Norway, and other northern parts of Europe, with habitations
of their own construction; and though there be no reason to doubt the
ancient beavers did not build as well as the modern, yet as the Romans
did not penetrate so far north, it is not surprising they should have
been unnoticed by their writers.

Several authors have said, that the beaver, being an aquatic animal,
could not live solely on land; but this opinion is erroneous, for the
young beaver sent me from Canada was reared in the house, and when
taken to the water was afraid of it, and refused to go in; when plunged
into the bason, there was a necessity to hold him there by force; but
in a few minutes he became perfectly reconciled; afterwards, when left
to his liberty, he would frequently return to it of himself, and even
roll upon the dirt and wet pavement. One day he escaped and descended
by a stair-case into the subterraneous vaults in the Royal Garden, and
swam a considerable time in the stagnant water at the bottom of them,
yet no sooner did he see the light of the torches, which were brought
to search for him, than he returned, and suffered himself to be taken
without the smallest resistance. He is familiar without fawning, and is
sure to ask for something to eat from those he sees at table, which he
does by a small plaintive cry, and some gestures with his fore paws.
When he obtains a morsel he carries it off and conceals it, that he
may eat it at his ease. He sleeps pretty often, and then lies upon his
belly. No food comes amiss to him, meat excepted, which he constantly
refuses either raw or dressed. He gnaws every thing he comes near, and
it was found necessary to line with tin the barrel in which he was
brought over.

Though the beavers prefer the borders of lakes, rivers, and other fresh
waters, yet they are sometimes found on the sea-shores, especially
mediterranean gulphs, which receive great rivers, and where the waters
are less salt. They are professed enemies to the otters, whom they
hunt, and will not even permit them to appear in the waters which they
frequent. The fur of the beaver is more beautiful and thick than that
of the otter; it is composed of two sorts of hair, the one short,
bushy, soft as down, and impenetrable to the water, which immediately
covers the skin; the other longer, bristly, and shining, but thinner,
which serves as an upper coat, and defends the former from filth and
dust. The latter is of little value, it is the first alone which is
used by our manufacturers. The blackest furs are generally thickest,
and consequently most esteemed; nor is the fur of the solitary beavers
equal to that of those who live in society. These animals, like all
other quadrupeds, shed their hair in summer, and therefore the furs
of such as are taken in that season are of little value. The fur of
the white beaver is esteemed because of its rarity; and the perfectly
black is nearly as uncommon as the white. But, independent of the fur,
which is the most valuable article, the beaver furnishes a substance
which has been considerably used in medicine; it is known by the name
of _castoreum_, and is contained in two large bladders, and which the
ancients mistook for the testicles of this animal; but as they are
to be found in every pharmacopæia, it is unnecessary to give here a
description of them or their uses[U]. The savages are said to obtain
an oil from the beaver's tail, which they apply as a topical remedy
for different complaints. The flesh of this animal, though fat and
delicate, is yet bitter and disagreeable to the palate. It is affirmed
that its bones are of an excessive hardness, a circumstance which we
are unable to determine, having never dissected but one, which was very
young. Their teeth are very hard, and so sharp, that the savages use
them to cut, hollow, and polish their wood; they also clothe themselves
with its skin, and in the winter wear it with the hair next their
bodies.

[U] It is pretended, that the beavers extract this liquid by pressing
the bladders with their feet, and that it gives them an appetite when
disgusted with food, and that the savages to entrap them, wet the
snares with it. But it is more certain, that the animal uses it to
grease its hair.

_Engraved for Barr's Buffon._

[Illustration: FIG. 94. _Beaver_]

[Illustration: FIG. 95. _Raccoon_]

The beaver uses its fore-feet like hands, with as much facility as
a squirrel; the toes of the hind-feet being connected by a strong
membrane, supply the place of fins, and expand like those of a goose,
which the beaver somewhat resembles in its walk. He swims much better
than he runs; and as his fore-legs are much shorter than his hind ones,
he always moves along with his head very low and his back arched.
His senses are very acute, and that of smelling so delicate, that he
will not permit any dirt or filth to remain near him. When kept in
confinement too long, and he is under the necessity of voiding his
excrements, he drops them close to the threshold of the door, and as
soon as that is opened pushes them out. This habit of cleanliness
is natural to them, and our young beaver never failed to purify his
apartment in this manner. At the age of one year he gave a sign of
ardour for a female, which seems to be a proof he had then nearly
attained his full growth; therefore their duration of life cannot be
very long, and it is probably wrong to extend it to fifteen or twenty
years. The beaver I had was very small for his age; a circumstance that
is not surprising, since he had been in perpetual confinement from his
earliest days, and from being unacquainted with water until he was nine
months old, he could be expected to grow and expand like those who,
while they enjoy their liberty, range at pleasure in that element which
seems to be almost as necessary to them as that of land.


SUPPLEMENT.

In confirmation of our former remarks that beavers might be easily
tamed, M. Kalm, in his Voyages, says, that he had seen beavers so
tame that they would go out to fish and bring the prey home to their
masters; nay that they would even follow men and dogs, go with them
into their boats, jump into the water, and soon come up again with
fish. And M. Gmelin affirms that he saw a beaver in Siberia, which had
been reared in the house, who would go to considerable distance, and
sometimes returning with a female whom he would suffer to go away by
herself after the season of love.


THE RACCOON.

Several authors have described this animal under the name of _coati_,
yet I have chosen to adopt the name given to it in England, that it
may not be mistaken for, and confounded with, the real coati, or the
_coati-mondi_, which appears to be nothing more than a variety of that
species.

I had a raccoon (_fig. 95._) alive, and which I kept more than twelve
months; he was about the size of a small badger, his body short and
bulky, his hair long, thick, black at the points, and grey underneath;
his head was like that of a fox, but his ears round and shorter; his
eyes were large, and of a yellowish green, and over them a black band
went across; his snout was sharp, and his nose rather inclined upwards;
his under lip was less prominent than his upper one; he had like the
dog, six incisive and two canine teeth in each jaw; his tail was bushy
but tapering towards the point, marked with alternate black and white
rings from one end to the other, and was at least as long as the body;
his fore legs were much shorter than his hind ones, and each had five
toes armed with strong sharp claws. He used his fore feet to hold his
food while eating, but his toes not being flexible he could not grasp
any thing with one paw, but was obliged to use them both when food was
presented him.

Though the raccoon is short and bulky he is very active; his pointed
claws enable him to climb trees with great facility; he runs up the
trunk with ease, and frolicks to the extremities of the branches in
perfect security. On the ground he rather bounds than runs, and his
motions, though oblique, are always quick and light. He is a native
of the southern parts of America, nor has ever been found upon the
old continent, at least if we may judge from the entire silence of
travellers about him. In the regions of America, he is, however, very
common, particularly in Jamaica, where he resides in the mountains,
from whence he often descends to feed upon the sugar-cane. He is not
met with in Canada, nor in the northern parts of the continent; and yet
he is not afraid of cold. M. Klein reared one at Dantzic; and the one
I had, passed a whole night with his feet in the ice, without being
incommoded.

Every thing which is given him to eat he dips in water, especially
bread, which he will not take out again, unless pressed with hunger
before it is perfectly soaked; but when very hungry he will eat dry
food, and any thing presented to him. He searches about in every
corner, and eats every thing he meets with, whether flesh, dressed
or raw, fish, eggs, live fowls, corn, roots, &c. He likewise devours
insects, is fond of hunting spiders, and when at liberty in a garden,
snails, worms, and beetles are his favorite prey. He is exceedingly
fond of sugar, milk, and other kind of sweet aliments, fruit excepted,
to which, however, he prefers either flesh or fish. He retires to void
his excrements; is a familiar and even fawning animal; mine used to
jump on those he loved, and to frisk and play about them cheerfully; he
was cleanly, always in motion, and seemed to possess much of the nature
of the maki, and some of the qualities of the dog.


SUPPLEMENT.

A letter I received from M. Blanquart des Salines, dated October 30,
1775, contained many particulars concerning the raccoon. This gentleman
says that the one in his possession had constantly been kept chained,
in which state he appeared gentle, yet shewed no inclination to be
fond, but whenever he procured his liberty his docility disappeared,
and on one occasion they had great difficulty to secure him again.
M. Salines, however, often permitted him to go about with his chain
loose, for which he would appear very grateful, but that was not the
case whenever he procured his own liberty, as he would then roam about
for three or four days together, and do a great deal of mischief, by
getting into the hen-houses in the night, killing all the poultry, and
eating only their heads. When chained he would use much art, permitting
the fowls to partake of his food, until supposed security had put
them off their guard, and they came within his reach, when he would
seize and tear them to pieces. He opened oysters with great dexterity,
putting them under his hind feet, and then entering the weakest part
with his fore claws separated the shells in an instant: he performed
this, as well as all other of his operations, by feeling alone, seldom
making use either of his eye or his nose. He does not appear to have
much gratitude for favors, but is very revengeful if ill treated, for
a servant having given him a few strokes with a whip, he would never
afterwards suffer him to come near without expressing the utmost
rage; flying at the man, making the most violent cries, and refusing
everything offered until he disappeared. When attacked by any thing
stronger than himself he makes no resistance, but rolls himself up
something in the manner of a hedge-hog, and in which state he will even
suffer himself to be killed without uttering the smallest complaint.
He never lies upon any bed, but invariably turns out the straw, or any
thing put into his house to answer that purpose. He does not appear
to be affected with cold, nor solicitous for warmth, for he has been
covered with snow without injury, and one frost, on being presented
with warm water and some almost frozen, for him to soak his food, he
always used the latter; and notwithstanding he might have gone into the
stable to sleep, he generally preferred a corner in the yard. He never
wets fresh or bloody meat, but every thing that is dry he puts into
water. He has an utter dislike to children, their crying puts him into
a passion, and he would fly upon them if possible; this seems to spring
from an abhorrence of sharp sounds, for he often chastised a small
bitch, of which he is very fond, if she barked too loud.


THE COATI.

This animal has been called by many authors the Coati-mondi; I have had
it alive; and, by comparing it with the coati mentioned by Thevet, and
described by Marcgrave, I do not doubt that they are varieties of the
same species; indeed Marcgrave after having given a description of the
coati, says there are others of a blackish brown, and which, for the
sake of distinction are called _coati-mondi_ at Brasil. As the colour
of the hair then is the only difference between them, they certainly
ought to be considered as mere varieties of the same species.

The coati (_fig. 96._) is very different from the animal described in
the preceding article. He is of a smaller size than the raccoon; his
body and neck, head and nose, are of a longer form; the upper jaw is
terminated by a snout, which extends an inch, or an inch and a half,
beyond the lower one; and this snout, which is moveable in every
division, turns up at the point. The eyes of the coati are also smaller
than those of the raccoon; his ears are shorter; his hair longer and
coarser; his legs shorter; his feet longer; but, like the raccoon, his
tail is diversified with rings,[V] and to all its feet there are five
toes.

[V] There are some coatis which have the tail of one uniform colour,
but as they differ in no other particular, they can only be considered
as varieties of the same species.

_Engraved for Barr's Buffon._

[Illustration: FIG. 96. _Brown Coati._]

[Illustration: FIG. 97. _Black Coati._]

[Illustration: FIG. 98. _Agouti_]

Some authors suppose that the sow badger, and the _taxus suillus_, of
which Aldrovandus has given a figure, to be the same as the coati; but
if we consider that the sow-badger, of which hunters speak, is supposed
to be found in France, and even in some colder climates of Europe, and
that, on the contrary, the coati is only known in the southern parts
of America, this idea must be rejected, as having no foundation to
support it; as the figure given by Aldrovandus is nothing more than a
badger, to which the snout of a hog has been added. That author does
not say this _taxus suillus_ was drawn from Nature, nor does he give
any description of the animal itself; and indeed the snout alone of the
coati is sufficient to distinguish it from any other quadruped.

The coati has a practice of gnawing his own tail, which, when not
mutilated, is longer than his body, and which he generally rears
aloft, and moves with ease in any direction. This seemingly unnatural
taste of gnawing their tails is not peculiar to the coati, for some
monkies, and other animals with long tails, frequently shorten them a
fourth, or even one-third, by eating the flesh and the joints. From
this circumstance a general inference may be drawn, namely, that in
very long members, the extremities of which must consequently be very
remote from the centre of sensation, the feeling must be weak, and the
more so the greater the distance and the smaller the part; for if the
extremities of the tails of these animals were very sensible, the pain
excited would prevail over the inclination to mutilate, and they would
preserve their tails with as much care as any other part of their body.

The coati is an animal of prey, which subsists on flesh and blood, and
which, like the fox or marten, destroys small animals and poultry,
hunts for the nests of birds, and devours their eggs; and it is,
probably, from this conformity of disposition, rather than from any
resemblance to the marten, that the coati has been considered as a
small species of the fox.


THE AGOUTI.

The Agouti (_fig. 98._) is about the size of a hare, and has been
considered by many writers as a kind of rabbit, or large rat; yet it
bears a resemblance only in some trifling particulars to either, and in
its natural habits it essentially differs from them both. It has the
rough hair, grunting, and voracious appetite of the hog; and when fully
satiated it hides the remainder of its food, like the fox, in different
places. It delights in gnawing and spoiling every thing it comes near.
When irritated it bites fiercely; its hair stands erect along the
back, and it strikes the ground violently with its hind feet. It does
not dig holes, like the rabbit, but lives in the hollows of trees. It
feeds chiefly on roots, potatoes, yams, and fruits, when residing near
habitations; those that reside in the woods also eat leaves, plants,
and shrubs. It uses its fore paws, like the squirrel, in carrying food
to its mouth; it runs very swiftly up hill, or on even ground, but its
fore paws being much shorter than its hind ones, upon a descent it is
in great danger of falling; it has a good sight and excellent hearing,
and whenever it hears a whistle it stops to listen. They scald the
agouti and dress it like a sucking pig, and the flesh of such as are
fat and well fed is tolerable food, though it has always a peculiar
taste, and is rather tough. When they go among the sugar-canes they are
easily taken, for sinking every step in the straw and leaves, which
covers the ground, a man may come up and even kill them with a stick.
When in the open country it runs with great swiftness before the dogs;
and having gained its retreat, nothing can force it to come out but
smoke; for which purpose the hunters burn faggots and straw before the
mouth of the hole, upon which the animal makes plaintive cries like
that of a pig, but seldom quits the place of concealment until the
last extremity. Its cry, which it repeats often when it is irritated
or incommoded, is exactly like that of a young pig. When taken young
they are easily tamed, and will go out and return alone. When in a wild
state, they generally dwell in the woods, where the female chooses the
most obscure parts, and there prepares a bed of leaves and grass for
her young. They usually bring forth two or three in a year, and in a
day or two afterwards, she carries them in her mouth like a cat, into
the hollow of some tree, where she suckles them for a short space, for
they are soon in a condition to run about and provide for themselves;
from which it appears that the time required for their growth is but
short, and of course the duration of their lives cannot be long.

The agouti appears to be a native of the south parts of America, not
being known in the old continent. They are common in Brasil, Guiana,
St. Domingo, and all the islands around. To subsist and multiply, they
require a warm climate, yet they will live in France if well sheltered
from wet and cold, especially in winter; it is even a stranger in the
cold and temperate climates in America. In the islands there is only
this one species of agouti, which we have described, but in the other
places above named, it is affirmed there is another species called
the _agouchi_, which is much smaller than the first; but we have the
testimony of several persons who resided a long time at Cayenne, who
were equally acquainted with the agouti and agouchi, that the one
we have described is certainly the agouti. The latter we have never
been able to procure, but the former we had alive; it was as large as
a rabbit, its hair was coarse, and of a brown colour, with a small
mixture of red; its upper lip was cloven like that of the hair, its
tail was shorter than that of a rabbit, its ears very short and broad,
and its upper jaw was more prominent than the under; its snout was like
that of the loir, and its teeth resembled the marmot's; its neck was
long, its legs were slender, and on its fore feet it had four toes, and
three on its hind ones. Marcgrave, and almost all naturalists after
him, have said that the agouti has six toes on the hind-feet. M.
Brisson is the only writer who has not copied this error of Marcgrave;
but he described it from nature, and, like us, perceived only three
toes on the hind-feet.


SUPPLEMENT.

M. de la Borde says, that the agouti is a very common animal in Guiana,
that its flesh is as white as that of the rabbit, and is of a similar
flavour; that they are hunted by dogs, taken in traps, and that the
negroes take them in great numbers by whistling, or imitating their
cries; that they principally feed upon nuts, which they collect and
conceal in great quantities; that they are very prolific, producing
as many, and as often as the rabbit; that they are easily tamed, but
always retain somewhat of their savage disposition, yet if they go from
home will return again of themselves; and that they keep in their holes
during the night, unless the moon shines very clear, and are running
about the greatest part of the day.


THE LION.

The influence of climate is marked with but slight variations in
the human species; because that is entire in itself, and totally
distinct from every other. Man, white in Europe, black in Africa,
yellow in Asia, and copper-coloured in America, is still the same
being, tinctured with the colour peculiar to the climate. And as he
is formed to govern the earth, and as he has the whole globe for his
habitation, it seems as if no situation was foreign to his nature;
under the scorching south, or in the frozen regions of the north, he
lives, he multiplies, and has been so anciently diffused over every
country, that he does not appear to have a particular propensity to
any. It is far otherwise with other animals; in them the influence of
climate is marked with strong characteristics, because their species
is diversified, and their nature is infinitely less perfect and more
confined than that of man. Not only are the varieties in each species
more numerous and more marked than in the human species, but even the
differences in the species themselves seem to depend on the differences
of climate. Some animals can only breed in hot countries, others cannot
subsist but in cold ones. The lion has never inhabited the northern
regions, nor has the rein-deer ever been found in the south; and
perhaps no species has been universally diffused over the face of the
earth, besides that of man. Each has its country, its native soil, to
which it is confined by a physical necessity; each is the immediate
offspring of the region which it inhabits; and it is in this sense
alone we say, this animal is a native of one climate, and that a native
of another. In hot countries the terrestrial animals are larger and
stronger than in the frozen or temperate ones. They are also more bold
and ferocious; all their natural qualities seeming to partake of the
ardour of the climate. Lions born under the scorching sun of Africa
or the Indies, are of all others the most fierce and formidable. Our
wolves and other carnivorous animals, far from being their rivals,
are hardly worthy to be their purveyors.[W] The lions of America, if
they deserve to be so called, are, like the climate, infinitely more
mild; and what proves that the degree of their ferocity depends on
the degree of heat is, that in the same country, those which inhabit
the high mountains, where the air is temperate, are different in
disposition from those that dwell in the plains, where the heat is
excessive. The lions of Mount Atlas, of which the top is sometimes
covered with snow, have neither the boldness, strength, nor ferocity
of the lions of Biledulgerid, or the desart of Zaara, whose plains are
covered with burning sands. It is principally in these burning desarts
that those terrible lions are found which are the dread of travellers
and the scourge of neighbouring provinces. Happily for man this species
is not numerous, and seems to diminish daily; for those who have
travelled through this part of Africa affirm they are by no means so
numerous now as they were formerly; and Mr. Shaw, in his travels, says,
the Romans drew fifty times as many lions from Lybia, to combat in
their amphitheatres, as are now to be found in the whole country. It is
also remarked, that in Turkey, Persia, and India, lions are much less
numerous than they were in ancient times. Since this animal preys on
every other species of quadruped, and is himself the prey of none, it
is obvious that its decrease can only be occasioned by the increase
of mankind, who are the only beings in nature capable of making head
against this king of beasts; and it must be allowed, powerful as he may
be, he is no match for even a Hottentot or negro, who often attack him,
and very seldom without coming off victorious. As the lion has no enemy
but man, and his species being reduced to the fiftieth, or even the
tenth part of what it was formerly, it follows that the human species
instead of having suffered a considerable diminution since the time of
the Romans, as is by some pretended, is on the contrary more generally
diffused, and more numerous even in such countries as Lybia. The
industry of man increases in proportion with his number, but that of
other animals remains always the same. Every destructive species, like
that of the lion, seems to be driven to distant countries, or reduced
to small numbers, not only because man has become every where more
numerous, but because he has become more skillful and invented dreadful
arms of destruction, which nothing can resist; arms, which it were
well, had they never been employed against aught but lions and tigers.

[W] There is a species of lynx which is called the lion's purveyor.

This superiority of numbers, and industry in man, which has subdued the
lion, serves also to enervate and discourage him, for he is brave only
in proportion to the success of his encounters. In the vast desarts of
Zaara, in the burning sands which separate Mauritania and Negro-land,
and in all the desarts of Asia and Africa, where man has disdained
to fix his habitation, lions are still numerous and preserve their
natural force and courage. Accustomed to measure their strength with
every animal they meet, the habit of conquering renders them intrepid
and terrible. Having never experienced the power of man, they have no
apprehension of him, but boldly face and hold him in defiance. Wounds
enrage, without repressing their ardour; they are not daunted even by
the appearance of numbers. A single lion of the desart often attacks a
whole caravan, and if, after an obstinate engagement, he finds himself
overpowered, instead of flying, he retreats fighting, and faces the
enemy to the last. On the contrary, those lions which inhabit the
peopled countries of Morocco, or India, having become acquainted with
man, and experienced the superiority of his arms, have lost their
native courage to such a degree, that they are to be scared away with
a shout, and seldom attack any but the unresisting flocks and herds,
which even women and children are sufficient to protect against them.

This alteration, this amelioration in the disposition of the lion,
proves that he might be tamed to a certain degree, and admit of a
species of education. We read in history of lions being yoked to
triumphal cars, led forth to the field of battle, or let loose to the
chace, and that faithful to their master, they never exerted their
strength or courage but against his enemies. Certain it is that the
lion when taken young, and bred up with domestic animals, becomes
familiar and sports innocently among them; that he will even be
caressing to his master, and that if his natural ferocity returns,
he seldom exercises it against his benefactor. As his passions are
strong, and his appetites vehement, we ought not to presume that the
impressions of education will always overbalance them; and therefore
it would be dangerous to suffer him to remain too long without food,
or wantonly to persist in irritating or tormenting him. He is not only
enraged by bad treatment, but remembers it and meditates revenge; in
the same manner he also remembers benefits and endeavours to shew
his gratitude for them. In support of this we might recapitulate a
number of facts, in which however there is probably much exaggeration;
but it is sufficient that they prove his anger is noble, his courage
magnanimous, and his disposition grateful and susceptible of
impression. He has often been seen to despise contemptible enemies,
and to pardon their insults when it was in his power to punish them.
When in confinement he appears gentle, will caress the hand that feeds
him, and will sometimes spare the lives of those animals which are
thrown to him for prey; he will even live peaceably with them, spare
them part of his subsistence, and has even been known to want food
himself rather than be the means of depriving them of that life which
his generosity had spared. The lion cannot be said to be cruel, since
he acts from necessity and never kills more than he consumes; while the
tiger, the wolf, and all the inferior species, such as the fox, marten,
polecat, ferret, &c. kill without remorse, and seem rather to satisfy
their malignity than their hunger.

The outward form of the lion speaks the superiority of his internal
qualities. His figure is striking and grand; his look confident and
bold; his gait stately, and his voice tremendous. His bulk is not
overgrown like that of the elephant, or the rhinoceros; nor is his
shape clumsy like the hippopotamus, or the ox. He is in every respect
compact and well-proportioned; a perfect model of strength joined
with agility. He is muscular, bold, and neither charged with fat nor
unnecessary flesh. He manifests his muscular power by the ease with
which he makes prodigious bounds and leaps; by the strong and swift
movements of his tail, which is alone sufficient to strike a man to
the earth; by the facility with which he moves the skin of his face,
and particularly that of his forehead, which adds greatly to the
expressions of fury in his countenance; and, lastly, by the power he
has of moving the hair of his mane, which not only bristles up but is
agitated on all sides when he is enraged.

To these eminent qualities the lion joins all the dignity of his
species. By dignity of species I mean those whose nature is permanent,
invariable, and not subject to degradation. In those animals to which
this singular advantage belongs, the characteristics are so strongly
marked, that they cannot be mistaken nor confounded with any other
species. In man, the noblest being of the creation, the species is
sole and entire, because all the individuals of it, of whatever
race, climate, or complexion, may intermix and produce together;
and because it cannot be said that any animal approaches to man in
any natural degree. The horse is less noble considered as a species
than as an individual, since the neighbouring one of the ass is so
near, that one of each species will produce animals which Nature
reprobates as bastards, unworthy of either race, and renders incapable
of perpetuating either species from whence they sprung, but which in
itself exhibiting a mixture of both, proves, beyond a doubt, their
close affinity. The species of the dog is perhaps less noble, because
he seems to be allied to that of the wolf, the fox, and jackall, who
may all be considered as degenerate branches of the same family. In
descending by degrees to the inferior species, such as the rabbit,
weasel, rat, &c. we shall find that each of them has such a number
of collateral branches that we cannot trace the original stock; and,
lastly, in the tribes of insects, each species is accompanied with such
a number of approximate ones that we are obliged to consider them as
belonging to a certain genera. This is the only use of what is called
_method_ in Natural History, which ought never to be employed unless
in the difficult enumerations of small objects, as it becomes useless
and ridiculous when treating of beings of the first rank. To class man
with the monkey, or to say that a lion is a cat with a long mane and
tail, is rather to degrade and disfigure Nature than to describe and
denominate her works. The species of the lion, therefore is one of
the most noble since it is most entire, and cannot be confounded with
those of the tiger, leopard, ounce, &c. and since those species, which
appear to be the least remote from the lion, are so little distinct
from each other, as to have been perpetually mistaken and confounded by
travellers and nomenclators.

The largest lions are about eight or nine feet in length, from the
snout to the tail, which is four feet long, and are between four and
five feet high. Those of the small size are about five feet and a half
long, three feet and a half high, and their tail rather more than three
feet long. In all her dimensions the lioness is about one fourth less
than the lion. Aristotle divides lions into the greater and smaller,
and the latter, he says, are short in proportion, have their hair more
frizzled, and are less courageous than the former. He adds, that in
general all lions are yellow. The first of these assertions appears
doubtful, since no traveller has mentioned lions with frizzled hair;
some authors, indeed, who, in other respects do not merit entire
confidence, speak of a tiger with curled hair found at the Cape of
Good Hope; but almost all testimonies agree as to the colour of the
lion, which is uniformly yellow on the back and within on the sides and
belly. Ælian and Opian have asserted, that in Ethiopia the lions are as
black as the men; that in India there are some white and others spotted
and striped with red, black, and blue; but this is not confirmed by
any authentic testimony, for Marco Polo the Venetian, does not speak
of these striped and spotted lions as if he had seen them, and Gesner
observes that he only mentions them on the authority of Ælian. It
appears on the contrary, that there are few or no varieties in these
species; that the lions of Asia and Africa perfectly resemble each
other, and that those of the plains differ less in colour from those
which dwell in the mountains than in size.

_Engraved for Barr's Buffon._

[Illustration: FIG. 99. _Lion._]

[Illustration: FIG. 100. _Lioness._]

The lion (_fig. 99._) is furnished with a mane, or rather long hair,
which covers all his fore-parts, and becomes longer as he advances
in age; but the lioness, (_fig. 100._) however old, is without this
appendage. The American animal, which the natives of Peru call Puma,
and the Europeans Lion, has no mane, and is smaller, weaker, and more
cowardly, than the real lion. It is not impossible that the mildness of
the climate in South America might have such influence on the nature
of the lion as to strip him of his mane, reduce his size, and repress
his courage; but it appears absolutely impossible that this animal,
which inhabits the tropical regions only, and to whom Nature, to all
appearance, has shut up every avenue to the north, should pass from the
southern part of Asia or Africa into America, those continents being
divided towards the south by immense seas. From this circumstance it is
probable that the puma is not the lion, deriving its origin from those
of the old continent and since degenerated, but that he is an animal
peculiar to America, like other animals found on the new continent.

When the Europeans first discovered America, the quadrupeds, birds,
fishes, insects, plants, and almost every thing appeared to be
different from what they had seen before. Of this new world it was
therefore necessary to denominate the principal objects. As the names
given by the natives were for the most part barbarous and difficult
to pronounce or remember, names were borrowed from the European
languages, especially from the Spanish and Portugueze. In this dearth
of denominations, a small affinity in external appearance, size, or
figure, was sufficient to attribute to unknown objects the names of
those that were familiar. Hence the doubt, perplexity, and confusion
which has considerably increased, since, at the same time that the
productions of the new continent were receiving the denominations of
those of the old one, plants and animals peculiar to the latter were
transporting there in abundance. To remove this obscurity, and to avoid
falling into perpetual errors, it is therefore necessary to distinguish
carefully what belongs to the one continent from what belongs to the
other. Of this distinction I shall shew the necessity in the next
article, where I shall enumerate not only the animals which are natives
of America, but those which have been carried thither.

M. de la Condamine, whose testimony deserves our full confidence, says
expressly, that he does not know whether the American animal which the
Spaniards call Lion, and the natives of Quito, Puma, deserves the name
of Lion; he adds, that it is much smaller than the African lion, and
that the male has no mane. Frezier also says, that the animals called
lions in Peru are very different from those of Africa; that they avoid
the sight of man, and commit no havock but among the cattle; and he
further remarks that their heads bear a strong resemblance to the
heads of both the wolf and the tiger, and have tails shorter than that
of either. In more ancient relations, we are told that the lions of
America by no means resemble those of Africa; that they have neither
their size, nor fierceness, nor colour; that they are neither red, nor
yellow, nor grey; that they have no mane, and that they have a custom
of climbing up trees. Differing, then, from the lion in size, colour,
form of the head, length of the tail, want of the mane, and lastly, in
natural habits, no longer ought the Puma of America to be confounded
with the real lion of Africa or Asia.

Though this noble animal inhabits only the hottest regions, yet he
will live, and, with care, might even breed in temperate ones. Gesner
mentions that lions were brought forth in the menagerie of Florence;
and Willoughby tells us, that at Naples, a lioness which had been
confined with a lion, produced five whelps at one litter. Such examples
are rare, but if true, they prove that lions are not absolutely averse
to mild climates. At present there are none of them in the southern
parts of Europe; so early as the days of Homer, there were no lions
in Peloponnesus, yet they existed in Thrace, Macedonia, and Thessaly,
in the time of Aristotle. It is, therefore, evident that in all ages
they have given the preference to the hottest climates; that they
seldom resided in temperate ones, and never in the frozen regions of
the north. The naturalists above quoted, though they mention lions
being brought forth in Florence and Naples, are silent as to the time
of gestation in the lioness, the size of the young, when whelped, and
the degrees of their growth. Ælian says she goes only two months,
while Philostratus and Edward Wotten affirm it to be six. I think the
latter opinion is nearest the truth, because the lion is an animal of
great magnitude, and in general the time of gestation is longer among
the large than the small species. Thus it is also with the growth of
the body. Both ancients and moderns allow that the new-born lion is
not bigger than the weasel, that is from six to seven inches long; if
so, several years must elapse before he can increase to eight or nine
feet. It is also said that they cannot walk before they are two months
old. But, without giving entire credit to these assertions, we may with
probability presume, from the largeness of the size, that he is three
or four years in acquiring his full growth, and that he consequently
lives to about the age of twenty-five. The Sieur de St. Martin, master
of the bull-fights at Paris, who willingly communicated to me the
observations he had made upon the lions which he reared, assured me
that he has kept lions for fifteen or sixteen years, and that he does
not believe they live above the age of twenty or twenty-two. But it
must be evident the want of exercise, constraint, and irksomeness of
situation to those which are in confinement, must impair health and
shorten life.

In two different parts of his treatise on animals, Aristotle states
that the lioness produces five or six whelps at her first litter, four
or five at the second, three or four at the third, two or three at
the fourth, and one or two at the fifth, and after which she becomes
barren. This assertion is ungrounded, since in all animals the first
and last litters are always the least numerous. This philosopher
erred also, as well as all the naturalists that came after him, in
maintaining that the lioness had but two nipples, it being a certain
and well known fact that she has four, as may be known by simple
inspection. He likewise asserts that the lion, bear, and fox, are
unformed at their birth; but it is now known that these animals are
brought forth as perfect as any other, and that their members are
distinct and developed. He says too that the lions copulate in a
backward disposition; but from a bare inspection it is demonstrable
that they engender in the same manner as other quadrupeds. I have
noticed these errors in Aristotle minutely, as the authority of such a
great man has misled all authors who have since given the history of
animals. His assertion also, that the neck of the lion contains but
one rigid and inflexible bone, has been contradicted by experience;
for in all quadrupeds, without exception, and even in man, the neck
is composed of seven vertebræ; and it is also another certain fact,
that in general, carnivorous animals have a much shorter neck than
granivorous, and especially than the ruminating ones. It is also stated
by Aristotle, that the bones of lions have neither cavity nor marrow;
that they are as hard as flint, and possess the property of striking
fire by friction; but such errors ought not to have been repeated
by Kolbe, nor handed down to posterity, since even in the days of
Aristotle they were ridiculed by Epicurus.

The lion is particularly furious when rouzed by love. A female when
in season will have eight or ten males in her train, who fight most
bloody battles, till one of them becomes victorious over the rest. She
brings forth in spring, and does not produce more than once a year,
which also proves that she is employed for some months in tending and
suckling her young, and consequently the time required for their first
growth, while they are in need of the assistance of their dam, must
at least be some months. In this animal all the passions, even of the
most gentle kind, are in excess. The attachment of the lioness to
her young is astonishingly great; though naturally less strong and
courageous than the lion, she becomes terrible when she has young.
She then makes her incursions without fear; attacks indiscriminately
men and animals, destroys without distinction, loads herself with the
spoil, and carries it home to her whelps, whom she accustoms betimes to
blood and slaughter. She usually brings forth in the most retired and
inaccessible places, and when afraid of having her retreat discovered,
she hides her tracks by traversing back the ground, or brushing them
out with her tail. She sometimes also, when her apprehensions are
great, transports them to a different place, and if obstructed, she
defends them with a determined fury, and fights to the last extremity.

It is asserted that the lion is not possessed of either the sense of
smelling or seeing in such perfection as most other animals of prey;
a strong light incommodes him, so that he seldom goes abroad in the
middle of the day, but commits all his ravages in the night; and when
a fire is kindled near a herd, he never approaches them. His smell is
also so faulty, that he hunts by the eye only. A species of lynx, which
has a piercing eye and acute smell, has indeed procured the name of the
lion's guide, or purveyor, and it is said that he always accompanies
or precedes the lion, to direct him to his prey. This is a small weak
animal, which sometimes follows the lion, though he would most probably
avoid him, did he not frequently come in for a share of that spoil
which the lion leaves.

The lion, when hungry, boldly attacks all animals that come in his
way; but as he is very formidable, and they all seek to avoid him, he
is often obliged to conceal himself for an opportunity of taking them
by surprise. This he does by couching upon his belly in some thicket,
where he patiently waits the approach of his prey, and which he springs
at with such force as often to seize it the first bound; but if in
the end his prey escapes, he stands motionless, and seems hurt at the
disappointment. In the desarts and forests gazelles and monkeys are his
common food; the latter, however, he only takes when upon the ground,
as he cannot climb trees like the tiger or puma. He devours as much at
once as will serve him for two or three days. His teeth are so strong
that he easily breaks the bones and swallows them with the flesh. He
is said to be capable of supporting hunger for a long time, but from
the heat of his temperament he is less patient of thirst; he drinks as
often as he can meet with water, which he laps like a dog, but with
his tongue bent downwards. He requires about fifteen pounds of raw
flesh every day; he prefers that of living animals, particularly of
those he kills himself; he seldom devours putrid carcases, and chooses
rather to hunt for fresh spoil than to return to what he had left on a
former day. Though he usually feeds upon fresh provisions his breath is
very offensive, and his urine insupportable.

The roaring of the lion is so loud, that when uttered in the desarts
by night, and re-echoed by the mountains, it resembles thunder. This
roar is his natural note, for when enraged he has a short and quickly
reiterated growl; but the roar is a long, deep, hollow cry, which he
sends forth five or six times a day, or oftener before rain. His cry
of anger is much louder, and still more terrible. He then beats his
sides and the earth with his tail, erects his mane, puts the skin of
his face, and eyebrows, in motion, shews his tremendous teeth, thrusts
out his tongue, which is covered with such sharp hard points, that it
is alone sufficient to flay and chew the food without the aid of teeth
or nails. He is much stronger in the head, jaws, and fore-legs, than in
any of his hind parts. He sees better in the night than by day, and
though his sleep is short, and he is easily awakened, yet there is no
foundation for the assertion that he sleeps with his eyes open.

The usual pace of the lion is bold, solemn, and slow, though always
oblique. When in chase he rather bounds than runs, and his motions are
so precipitate, that he cannot stop suddenly, but generally surpasses
his intention. When he darts on his prey he leaps the distance of
twelve or fifteen feet, seizes it with his fore-feet, tears it with
his paws, and then devours it with his teeth. While young and active
he lives by the chace, and seldom quits the desarts or the forests,
where he finds a sufficiency of wild animals for his purpose; but when
he grows old, heavy, and less qualified for exercise, he approaches
frequented places, and becomes a more dangerous enemy to man and
domestic animals. It is observed, however, that when he sees men and
animals together, he attacks the latter, and never the former, unless
he is struck; in which case, always distinguishing from whom the blow
came, he quits his prey to take revenge for the injury. He is said
to prefer the flesh of the camel to that of any other animal; he is
also exceedingly fond of young elephants, which, from their inability
to resist until their tusks are grown, he easily dispatches, when
unprotected by their mothers, nor are there any animals able to resist
the lion but the elephant, rhinoceros, tiger, and hippopotamus.

However powerful this animal may be it is not uncommon for large dogs,
supported by men on horseback, to chace, dislodge, and force him to
retire; but it is necessary for both dogs and horses to have been well
disciplined, as animals tremble and fly at the very smell of the lion.
Though his skin is firm and compact it is not proof against a ball,
or even a javelin; yet he is seldom dispatched with one blow. He is
often taken like wolves, by slightly covering a pit, and fastening a
live animal over it. When thus entrapped all his fury subsides, and if
advantage is taken of the first moments of his surprise and shame, he
may be chained, muzzled, and conducted any where without resistance.

The flesh of the lion is of a strong and disagreeable flavour, yet the
Negroes and Indians do not dislike it, and frequently make it part
of their food. The skin, formerly the tunic of heroes, serves these
people for a mantle; they likewise preserve the grease, which is of a
penetrating quality, and is of some use in medicine.


                      _END OF THE SIXTH VOLUME._


                    T. Gillet, Printer, Wild-court.



Transcriber Note


All obvious typographical errors were corrected. Where several variant
spellings were used, the most prevalent version was use to standardize
them. All illustration headers were standardized to display "_Engraved
for Barr's Buffon._" above each group and the captions were also
standardized. The illustration captions were arranged in ascending
numbers. Where paragraphs were split by illustrations, they were
rejoined. To match the other volumes in this series, the list for the
placement of images was positioned after the Table of Contents.





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