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JAMES ANDERSON, LLD.
FRS. and FSA. E.
Honourary member of the Society of Arts, Agriculture, &c. Bath; of the Philosophical
Society, Manchester; of the Agricultural Society, Altringham; of the Philosophical society, Newcastle ; of the Society for promoting Natural History, London; of the Academy of Arts, Sciences, and Belles Lettres, Dijon; of the Royal Society of Agriculture, St. Petersburgh; of the Royal Economical Society, Berlin; of the Philosophical Society, Phi. ladelphia; correspondent member of the Royal Society of Agriculture, Paris; and author of several performances.
from a distance, the nature of many of these varieties is but very little known to the British farmer. The naturalist has hitherto rather directed his attention towards the discrimination of external appearances in living objects that may assist him in the mere classification, than in observing the economical uses to which they could be applied; so that it is only from mere hints which may be incidentally picked up in a devious course of reading, that any clue can be found for directing our pursuits in this respect. Nor do we meet with that accuracy that could be wished for on this head, even in the mere act of classification itself; for, although several strongly marked varieties have been enumerated that are very easily distinguishable from each other by obvious peculiarities, such as the Buffalo, Bison, Zebu, &c. yet it is by no means ascertained, whether they are only varieties strictly, so called, or whether some of them may not be distinct species. Leaving this as a point to be yet settled, I shall for the present consider them all under one head, as all the varieties are in a lesser or a greater degree capable of being serviceable to man as beasts of hurden, or as furnishing food to him by their milk and carcase, and of affording materials for manufactures by their tallow, fur, and hides; and it is fit that he should know with certainty the comparative profit which he could derive from each of these in regard to all these particulars, if he ever wishes to know which of them it will be most his interest to rear., I shall therefore, with a view to avoid embarrassment on the subject, arrange what I have to say upan it under different
Ist. On the varieties of cattle, considered as to the
external coating of hair, fur, or wool. . We in Britain are, indeed, so little acquainted with some of those varieties that have never fallen under our own inspection, that it is with some diffidence I shall venture to mention certain peculiarities of these that have been incidentally discovered, lest it should excite some degree of ridicule. But ridicule of this sort is usually the attendant of ignorance alone. We may suppose that a native of Otaheite, who had by chance heard of or seen a horse, would have been laughed at as a being beyond measure credulous, who could seriously assert that an animal any where 'existed which had the powers and other well known qua. lities of the horse, in many respects so much superior to any of the animals he had ever seen; yet we know that such ridicule would have been highly displaced, If we were to set bounds to possibilities merely by the standard of our own knowledge alone, Would it not have been natural for the inhabitants of Madagascar to believe that though sheep were known throughout the greatest part of the globe, yet that this class of animals, like the horse and the cow, afforded every where only a short coat of stiff hair that in no respect resembled the closer fur of the .cat and many other furbearing animals. But if we know that this conclusion of his would have been erroneous, how shall we be able to free ourselves from the imputation of a prejudice equally blind and presumptuous, should we pretend to say, that because the cattle we have usu
ally reared in this country produce in general a kind of short hard hair, this must be deemed a never-failing characteristịc of the whole species; and that the man lied who should pretend to say that a variety of cattle might possibly exist, though unknown to us, which, like the sheep, equally unknown to the inhabitants of
Madagascar, may carry a close fleece of long hair or. * wool that may prove highly beneficial for the purposes
of human life? Experience ought long ago to have taught us to be extremely cautious how we pretend to set bounds to the power of the almighty Creator of the universe, who, though he hath endowed man with powers capable of rendering himself the temporary lord of this globe, hath given him that distinguished privilege merely by endowing him alone with the faculty of observing facts as they fall under his view, of comparing them together, and of drawing from these deductions that may prove beneficial to himself. It , seems to have been the will of Heaven that man should be more powerfully guarded from falling into the error specified above in regard to the particular which at, present claims our attention, than most others; for it will be found, that among the animals which fall most immediately under his observation, the canine species in particular, who are his constant companions through life in every situation on the globe, in no peculiarity do the varieties differ more from each other than in regard to his nativè kind of clothing, which varies in every possible degree from the closest fur, or wool, to the shortest stiff hair. · The sheep and the goat, the animals which he could next most easily subdue and