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The egrel was formerly common in Britain ; it is now supposed to be confined to Asia, and some parts of South America. The lanner, a species of falcon, is now so scarce, that a naturalist must almost voyage to Sweden, Iceland, or Tartary, before he can procure a living specimen for description. The condor, once known in Lapland, Russia, Germany, and Switzerland, is known now only in Peru, Mexico, Brazil, and some of the South Sea Islands ; in Madagascar and in Senegal. The bustard is common in Chili; but it will, at no very distant period, be entirely unknown in Europe. Its numbers are decreasing every year. That Cook should have found them and hawks in an island near Statenland is not remarkable ; but, that he should have found the turkey, is much to be wondered at
Beasts of prey hide themselves in forests ; serpents in deserts. Both had once a far more extensive range than at present. Nor does the strength of lions, panthers, or eagles, avail them much : for they have little or no courage ; and will never attack superior force, unless impelled by irritation or want. In the early historical eras of Nineveh and Babylon, beasts were so numerous, that to hunt them with success was to acquire the most valuable species of distinction a. Nimrod founded his authority on this species of warfare ; and Odenathus was much celebrated for his skill in hunting the lions, bears, and panthers of the desert. Lions are still frequent on the western shore of the Tigris ; but they are never seen on the Persian side of that river; nor on the Chaldean side of the Euphrates b.
Amyclæ, in Laconia, was, at one time, so much infested with serpents, that the inhabitants were compelled to abandon not only their houses, but their lands. The island of Ophiusa (Fermentera) derived its name from the number of
• Guarini seems to have remembered this, for one of the best passages in his Pastor Fido" is that, where a chorus of shepherds and hunters celebrate the fame of Sylvio for his success against a wild boar, which had ravaged the country.-A. iv. s. 6.
Vid. Parson's Trav. in Asia and Africa, p. 145. 4to., 1808.
its serpents. It is only forty or fifty miles from Majorca, and yet is still uninhabited.
Wholly unmolested,-serpents grew to a prodigious size, and once existed in vast numbers: but the march of civilisation has abridged their food, their numbers, and their growth. Even the Molucca serpent was not unknown in the higher parts of Asia. Pliny mentions one, that was three-and-thirty feet in length; and another, that had the capacity of swallowing an entire stag: while the allegory of Apollo and the Python seems to favour the supposition, that it was at one time not unknown even in Greece.
A man may encounter a lion with success : but numbers are required to subdue serpents of such vast dimensions. For, before a serpent all the faculties of the human soul are suspended :--even the most ferocious of quadrupeds bend before them in agonies of horror.
That wild bulls existed in England is evident, from there having been six of those animals served up a at the installation feast of Nevil, Archbishop of York. Hollingshed says ", the Romans preferred the British cattle to those of Liguria : but he has not stated his authority. It is certain, however, that they are praised by Pomponius Mela": and Hector Boethius relates, that in his time there was in Scotland a wild race of cattle, of a milk-white colour, with manes like lions. These are extinct.
In some ancient countries o, it was capital to kill an ox foi food; it being esteemed so useful an animal : while in modern Hindostan, to exact labour from a bullock when it is hungry, thirsty, or fatigued ; or to oblige it to labour out of season, is to incur a fine of two hundred and fiftye puns of cowries.
Previous to the Norman conquest, every freeholder had a right to hunt and destroy wild animals, except in royal forests. This right was acknowledged, also, in Scandinavia a. By an edict of William the First, however, all bucks, does, hares, rabbits, martins, foxes, partridges, rails, and quails, became the property of the sovereign : also mallards, herons, pheasants, woodcocks, and swans. The right of killing these animals was, however, frequently delegated to others, who had chases, parks, and free warrers. The exclusive right of fishing in public rivers, too, once belonged to all those monarchs in Europe, whose authority was founded on the feudal system.
* Leland, Collectanea, vi. Descript. Br. 107. • Lib. iii. c. 6. d Ælian. Var. Hist. lib. xii. c. 34. e Code of Gentoo Laws, p. 299, 4to.
| Leges Edw. Confess. c. 36. VOL. II.
The right of fishing in England was first granted in the reign of King John; and it was still further extended in those of Henry the Third, and Richard 'the First. The laws, respecting animals, have been modified from time to time ; but they are still in many points exceedingly oppressive, and a never-failing source of altercation and disquiet. That a possessor of land should have no property in the animal, he feeds, is surely an anomaly in the science of legislation! In England, where game is preserved with so much care, expense, litigation, and angry feeling, privileged birds are comparatively scarce ; whereas in Bohemia, where the peasantry are less restricted, they are very abundant.
Whether the elephant was ever known in America was, for some time, a subject of reasonable doubt; the fossil bones, dug up in Peru and the Brazils, being in too imperfect a state of preservation for the comparative anatomist decidedly to identify them with the bones of the elephant of Africa and Asia. But whatever may be the fact, certain it is, that since Europe has succeeded in planting America with exotic seeds,
A Stiernhook de Jure Sueon. lib. ii. c. 8. In a sporting party of the Emperor Francis the First, in 1755, there were killed, in the space of eighteen days, 10 foxes, 19 stags, 77 roebucks, and 18,243 hares; 114 larks, 353 quails, 9,499 pheasants, and 19,545 partridges.--Dutens. There were twenty-three persons of the party, three of whom were ladies; and the number of shots fired were 116,209; of which the emperor fired 9,798, and the Princess Charlotte of Lorrain 9,010.
and in peopling it with exotic animals, it would be one of the best returns, that Spain and Portugal could make for past frauds, pillages, and murders, were they to introduce the elephant and the camel into such points of soil and latitude as would ensure the ultimate naturalisation of animals, still more useful in tropical countries, than even the lama or the pacos.
In the time of Polybius a, there were no wild animals in Corsica. In that island the cattle, which grazed in the woods, quitted-them at the call of the shepherd; and even swine were trained to such obedience, that they would separate from any drove, which they chanced to mingle with, at the sound of a horn. In the Isle of Cyprus , deer, wild boars, roebucks, and a beautiful species of pheasant, were once extremely abundant. They are now nowhere to be seen in that island. The white pelican formerly inhabited Russia ; and the flamingo, once familiar to the shores of Europe, are now seldom seen, except in America. That black swans were formerly seen in Europe or Asia, is evident from a line in
Ovid, declaring their unfrequency: for had he never heard of · one, he would no more have thought of mentioning a black swan, than a yellow nightingale.
The Canary c Islands derived their ancient name from the multitude of their dogs: and the Spaniards d named the Azores from the number of their hawks. Both animals are now greatly diminished in those islands.
Grouse are not so common in Europe as formerly: and the cock of the wood seldom delights the sportsman, even in the Highlands of Scotland.
The beaver was known in Wales during the reign of Howel Dhâ; but, that it was even then rare, may be inferred from its skin being valued at a hundred-and-twenty pence. This
a Lib. xii. extr. i.
Plin. lib. vi. c. 32,
1 Mariti. vol. i. 26.
animal was once known in Italy, Egypt, and Persia ; but it is now almost every where extirpated, except in Canada a.
Eagles were once frequent inhabitants of Snowdon and Cader Idris. On the latter it is now never seen ; and on the former not once in twenty years. Deer, too, were so numerous in the forests of Snowdonia, that they were extirpated by royal authority, for the injury they did to the trees and corn. Goats, too, are become scarce in that country b.
The opossum, once common in Antigua, is now almost extinct in that island; and the sable is no longer known in Sweden as it was in the time of Jornandes, nor is the time far distant, perhaps, when every animal, that bears fur, will be extinct on the eastern sides of the rocky mountains of North America. Bears, wolves, foxes, stags, weasels, and bush-cats, are said to be the only animals, that strictly belong to the two continents of America and Africao; while the hare, fox, bear, wolf, elk, and roebuck, are equal inhabitants of the northern parts of America, Europe, and Asia. Buffon has observed, that not one animal is common to the torrid zone of the old and new continents; and M. Latreille and M. Cuvier assert, that no quadruped, no terrestrial bird, no reptile, and no insect, are common to the equatorial regions of the two
· Beavers are known in the canton of Valois ; but they, as well as Chamois, are diminishing every year. The stag was an inhabitant of the canton of Berne; but the race was extirpated during the Swiss Revolution in 1797-8.
Greece was almost depopulated of goats, in consequence of the number sacrificed by Callimachus, Polemarch of Athens, who would sacrifice as many he-goats as were slain of Persians during the invasion of Attica; and, there not being sufficient, the Athenians sacrificed five hundred every year, for many years.
c It is very remarkable that Pliny should assert, that no bears were ever seen in Africa. “There are a number of authorities against him," says the Scholiast," particularly that of Herodotus, who says, of Libya, “They have also lions among them, and elephants and bears.' And Solinus observes, that the Numidian bears excel others in beauty– Numidici ursi forma cæteris præstant ;' which seems to be the reason why Virgil dresses Acestes in the fur of a Libyan bear.”