Page images

expressed by licking my hand, first the back of it, then the palm, then every finger separately, then between all the fingers, as if anxious to leave no part of it unsaluted; a ceremony which he never performed but once again upon a similar occasion. Finding him extremely tractible, I made it my custom to carry him always after breakfaft into the garden, where he hid himself generally under the leaves of a cucumber vine, Tleeping or chewing the cud till evening; in the leaves also of that vine he found a favourite repaft. I had not long habituated him to this tafte of liberty, before he began to be impatient for the return of the time when he might enjoy it. He would invite me to the garden by drumming upon my knee, and by a look of such expreffion as it was not possible to misinterpret. If this rhetoric did not immediately succeed, he would take the skirt of my coat between his teeth, and pull at it with all his force. Thus Puss might be said to be perfectly tamed, the syness of his nature was done away, and on the whole it was visible by many fymptoms, which I have not room to enumerate, that he was happier in human fociety than when fhut up with his natural companions.

Not so Tiney ; upon him the kindeft treatment had not the leaft effect. He too was sick, and in his sickness had an equal share of my attention; but if, after his recovery, I took the liberty to ftroke him, he would grunt, ftrike with his fore feet, spring forward, and bite. He was however very entertaining in his way; even his furliness was matter of mirth, and in his play he preferved such an air of gravity, and performed his feats with such a folemnity of manner, that in him too I had an agreeable companion.

Bess, who died soon after he was full grown, and whose death was occafioned by his being turned into his box, which had been washed, while it was yet damp, was a hare of great humour and drollery. Puss was tamed by gentle usage; Tiney was not to be tamed at all; and Bess had a courage and confidence that made him tame from the beginning. I always admitted them into the parlour after supper, when the carpet affording their feet a firm hold, they would frisk, and bound, and play a thousand gambols, in which Bess, being remarkably strong and fearless, was always superior to the rest, and proved himself the Veftris of the party. One evening the cat being in the room, had the hardiness to pat Bess upon the cheek, an indignity which he resented by drumming upon her back with such violence, that the cat was happy to escape from under his paws and hide herself.

I describe these animals as having each a character of his own. Such they were in fact, and their countenances were so expreffive of that character, that, when I looked only on the face of either, I immediately knew which it was. It is said that a Mepherd, however numerous his flock,soon becomes so familiar with their features, that he can, by that indication only, distinguish each from all the reft; and yet, tu a common observer, the difference is hardly perceptible. I doubt not that the same discrimination in the caft of countenances would be difcoverable in hares, and am persuaded that among a thousand of them no two could be found exactly fimilar; a circumstance little suspected by those who have not had opportunity to observe it. These creatures have a singular fagacity in discovering the minuteft alteration, that is made in the place to which they are accustomed, and inftantly apply their nose to the examination of a new object. A small hole being burnt in the carpet, it was mended with a patch, and that patch in a moment underwent the ftricteft fcrutiny. They seem too to be very much directed by the smell in the choice of their favourites: to some persons, though they saw them daily, they

could never be reconciled, and would even scream when they attempted to touch them; but a miller coming in engaged their affections at once; his powdered coat had charms that were irresistible. It is no wonder that my intimate acquaintance with these specimens of the kind has taught me to hold the sportsman's amusement in abhorrence; he little knows what amiable creatures he perfecutes, of what gratitude they are capable, how cheerful they are in their spirits, what enjoyment they have of life, and that impressed as they seem with a peculiar dread of man, it is only because man gives them peculiar cause for it.

That I may not be tedious, I will just give a short fummary of those articles of diet, that suit them beft.

I take it to be a general opinion that they graze, but it is an erroneous one, at leaft grafs is not their ftaple; they seem rather to use it medicinally, soon quitting it for leaves of almost any kind. Sowthiftle, dent-de-lion, and lettuce, are their favourite vegetables, especially the laft. I discovered by accident that fine white fand is in great estimation with them ; I suppose as a digestive. It happened that I was cleaning a bird-cage while the hares were with me; I placed a pot filled with such fand upon the floor, which being at once directed to by a strong

VOL. 1r.

inftinét, they devoured voraciously; since that time have generally taken care to see them well supplied with it. They account green corn a delicacy, both blade and stalk, but the ear they feldom eat : ftraw of any kind, especially wheat-ftraw, is another of their dainties; they will feed greedily upon oats, but if furnished with clean ftraw never want them; it serves them also for a bed, and, if shaken up daily, will be kept sweet and dry for a confiderable time. They do not indeed require aromatic herbs, but will eat a small quantity of them with great relish, and are particularly fond of the plant called musk; they seem to resemble sheep in this, that, if their pasture be too succulent, they are very subject to the rot; to prevent which, I always made bread their principal nourishment, and filling a pan with it cut into small squares, placed it every evening in their chambers, for they feed only at evening andin the night: during the winter, when vegetables were not to be got, I mingled this mess of bread with shreds of carrot, adding to it the rind of apples cut extremely thin; for, though they are fond of the paring, the apple itself disgufts them. These however not being a sufficient substitute for the juice of summer herbs, they must at this time be supplied with water; but fo placed that they cannot overset it into their beds.

« PreviousContinue »