« PreviousContinue »
be irresistible if not counteracted by some peculiar in the field for a short time, an eagle carried it off instinct. With respect to the risk incurred by men, in its talons across a lake, and there deposited its while he confesses that two of these birds would be burden; some people herding sheep perceived it, and dangerous enemies for a single man to encounter, hearing the infant cry, hurried to the spot, and found he states that he has frequently approached them it uninjured. The name of the child was Niel, but within ten or twelve feet, as they sat three or four he was afterward distinguished and called by a together perched upon the rocks, and that they Gaelick word, signifying eagle. In Sweden, a deshowed no disposition to attack him. The Indians plorable circumstance occurred to the mother of a of Quito, moreover, unanimously assured him that child; she was working in the fields, and had laid men have nothing to apprehend from the condors. her infant on the ground, at a little distance; soon
The eagle, however, has been known to attack and after an eagle darted down and carried it off. For carry off children.
a considerable time the wretched woman heard the Bishop Heber, in his travels in India, passed poor child screaming in the air ; but there was no through a mountainous district, where sad complains help. She saw it no more ; in a little time she lost were made of their carrying off infant children; and her reason, and is, we believe, still living, confined we remember some years ago, in the Alps, that on in the lunatick asylum of the town near which it a high-pointed pinnacle of inaccessible rock, jutting happened. out from a peak of snow, near the summit of the On Tirst Holm, one of the Ferrce islands, situaJung Frau, one of the highest of the Alpine range of ted between the north of Scotland and Iceland, a mountain, there might be seen the tattered remains similar fact occurred; an eagle caught up an infant of the clothing of a poor child, who had been carried lying at a little distance from its mother, and carried up by á lämmergeyer, or bearded vulture, from a it to its nest, situated on a point of a high rock, so valley below, in spite of the shouts of some peasants steep, that the boldest bird-catchers had never venwhe saw the bird pounce upon its prize.
tured to attempt to climb it; the mother, however, A more fortunate fate awaited a child in the isle ascended, and reached the nest, but, alas ! too late : of Skye in Scotland, where a woman having left it the child was dead, and its eyes torn out.
But the most striking story we have met with, is bird's stomach, it was found entirely empty, which the brave behaviour of a little boy in the state of may explain in some degree the cause of so unusual New York. Two boys, the one seven, and the oth- an attack. The brave little boy did not receive a er five years old, were amusing themselves by trying scratch, though there can be little doubt, that had to reap, while their parents were at dinner. A large the bird not been weakened by hunger, a blow or eagle soon came sailing over them, and with a sud- two from its sharp strong beak would have penetraden sweep attempted to seize the eldest, but luckily ted through the scull into the brain, and caused missed him. The bird, not at all dismayed, alighted instant death. at a short distance, and in a few moments repeated Eagles of this particular sort are very common in his attempt. The bold little fellow, however, gal- that part of the country, and are often known to lantly defended himself with the sickle, which he carry off a turkey, or even a goose, but this was the fortunately held iņ his hand, and when the bird rush- first instance of their attacking children, though in ed upon him, resolutely struck at it. The sickle New South Wales, a celebrated navigator, Captain entered under the left wing, and the blow having Flinders, met with something of the same sort. He been given strongly, went through the ribs, and was walking with some of his officers, when a largo piercing the liver, proved fatal. On opening the leagle, with a fierce aspect, and outspread wing, was seen bounding toward them, but stopping short at, and as far as they could judge, uninhabited, so that about twenty yards off, he flew up into a tree. Soon the eagles might never have seen men before. after, another bird of the same kind discovered him- The immense power of wing of the rapacious birds self, and flying above their heads, made a sudden however, is more decidedly shown by the fact of so pounce downward, but checked himself before he ac- small a bird as the kestrel, weighing only six ounces tually touched them. Captain Flinders supposed and a half, and having an expansion of wing of only that they took him and his party for Kangaroos, which twenty-seven inches, having been known to dart up when sitting up on their hind legs, according to their on a weasel, an animal its equal, nearly, in size and usual habit, are about the height and form of a man. actually mount aloft with it.
As in the case of the On these animals the eagles were observed to feed, eagle, it suffered for its temerity, for it had not prohaving been seen watching quietly in the trees till ceeded far, when both were observed to fall from a a kangaroo made its appearance, when down they considerable height. The weasel Ian oil unhurt, but flew and tore it in pieces in an instant. Probably the kestrel was found to have been killed by a bite this was the truth, for the country was very desolate, I in the throat.
(Hawk carrying off a 'everet.] The following is a strong corroboration of the truth the jay. Not long ago, some boys observed a hawk of the story just mentioned, as far as the powers of flying after a jay, which, on reaching, it immediately a hawk to raise comparatively heavy weights, but is aitacked, and both fell on a stubble-field, where more curious, as exhibiting the courage displayed in the contest appeared to be carried on; the boys hastone of the most timid animals in defence of its young. ened up, but too late to save the poor jay, which was It occurred in Yorkshire. In the spring, a gentle at the last gasp; in the agonies of death, however, inan walking in the fields saw a small hawk, attempt it had contrived to infix, and entangle its claws so ing to fly off with some prey it had just pounced up- firmly in the hawk's feathers, that the latter, unable an, but evidently prevented by the weight of its cap- to escape, was carried off by the boys, who brought wire from rising to any height above the ground. It it home, when on examination it proved to be a keswas pursued by a hare, which whenever it came trel. The sparrow-hawk of North America, (Falco within her reach, attacked it with her paws, and at sparverius,) which is more nearly allied to the keslast succeeded in knocking it down, when it dropped trel than qurs, is often known to attack the bluejay its prey. At this moment, the gentleman ran forward of that country: No wonder that jays have a great and the hawk and its pursuer both made their retreat ; dislike to this' hawk, and never fail to annoy it by upon his reaching the spot where the prey had been every means in their power. Sometimes they will dropped, he found it to be a fine leveret
, which at follow in order to plague it, at other times, they, by once explained the cause of the parent hare's gallant imitating his note, will deceive and draw it from its attack on the hawk. It was wounded on the side of haunts. In return for all this abuse, the hawk now the head, and was bleeding, but the gentleman left it and then revenges itself by killing and eating the in a furrow, hoping that the wound might not prove fattest of its persecutors. fatal, and that the mother might find it and reap the reward of her maternal attachment.
THE OPOSSUM. It may seem extraordinary that they should pre- The cut opposite represents the opossum. A gesume to meddle with living things of their own size nus of marsupial
, or pouched animals, inhabiting the and weight, but it is still more remarkable that they American continent, and the first animals of this sinshould occasionally wage successful warfare with gular order which are known to naturalists. Their birds still larger than themselves, as for instance with 'generick characters are ten incisive teeth in the up
per jaw, and eight in the under, the intermediate cental mammalia. The difference extends not only ones in the upper jaw being longer than the rest; to the form of the body, and the structure of those the three front grinders compressed, and the last four parts upon which the classification is founded, but it tuberculated; those above triangular, but the under extends to the very covering, the hair of the opossum ones oblong, and two canines in each jaw, making being unlike that of most other animals. It is neiin all fisty teeth, which is a greater number than is ther sleek nor frizzled ; and it has more resemblance possessed by quadrupeds of any other genus. Their to whalebone than to common hair, and on the naked gape is wide, and the appearance of the mouth rag- parts there are sometimes scales. This uncouth sort ged; but their bite is feeble, compared with the size of covering the semi-transparent ears, which appear of their biting apparatus. Their tongues are beset reddish when seen against the light, the yellow sinwith horny tubercles, like those on the tongue of a ister eyes, the short legs, and the singularly-formed cat; and their tail is in part naked on the under side, feet, give these animals a repulsive appearance, which and prehensile. Their ears are very large and na- is in nowise diminished by the very fetid and offenked, and their aspect is altogether very peculiar. sive odour which they give out. The different speTheir hind feet have the thumb or fifth toe long, and cies vary considerably in their habits ; but they may capable of acting in opposition to the other four, so be generally described as nocturnal animals, the prinas to lay hold like a hand. The four toes which actcipal part of which inhabit trees, in the holes of together on the hind feet are furnished with nails; which they lodge; and they prey upon birds, lizards, and when not used in grasping, the nailless one is and other small animals. Some of them also haunt turned to the rear, like the hind toe of a bird. Their the waters and feed upon shelled mollusca and cruslegs are short in proportion to the size of their bodies; tacea. they plant their feet upon the round pad of the sole All the species have the general characters of marwhen they walk, and their rate of motion on the supial animals, the most remarkable of which in the ground is but slow. In trees, however, which the skeleton are the two marsupial bones attached to the greater number of them chiefly inhabit, they have pubis, which support the pouch. much power of themselves, and climb and hold on They are, as we have said, all nocturnal animals; with much address. Their eyes have the irides yel- and they are all carnivorous: but they do not possess low, and the pupils are vertical, like those of the fox. the same degree of power and energy as the carniv It has been said of them that they have a gape like orous animals, properly so called : and they are rea pike, the ears of a bat, the feet of an ape, and the markable for stupidity, or at all events they do not tail of a serpent; and, certainly, taking their char- display the same cunning as the fox, though their acters all in all, they differ very much from the pla- l eyes resemble those of that animal. The habit in
different, however, for the opossums, generally in the pouch, or at least resort to it occasionally as a speaking, seek their prey in trees, whereas the fox place of safety, until they are grown to about the is an animal which, though fond of brakes and other size of rats. cover, is incapable of climbing. The form of their The Virginian opossum, extending as it does over hind feet enables them to lay hold of a branch, and so vast a range in latitude, is subject to much variaretain that hold, while they have a perfect command tion of colour. There is also considerable difference of the head and anterior extremities for other pur- between the appearance of the young ones and those poses. Thus they can make use of the crooked claws which have arrived at perfect maturity. The body with which their fore feet are armed, to help them of the young animal is generally of a yellowish gray. in the capture of their prey. At settlements near the mixed with some hairs entirely white, and others woods, where they are plentiful, these animals are entirely black; the last of which are most abundant sometimes apt to play the weasel in poultry-yards ; along the back, and give that part of the animal the and, like that animal, they suck the blood of their appearance of being marked with a dorsal line. A victims.
band of a similar colour descends from each side of It is not a litile singular that marsupial animals the neck to the fore legs ; these legs and also the should be found in two zones of the earth, which lie hind ones are covered with black hairs, and the tail nearly on opposite meridians, the centre of the one is covered with scales, with a few short and weak about 120° east, and the other about 60° west of the hairs thinly interspersed. The hands, that is, the meridian of London ; aud that in all the districts be- prehensile parts of the hind feet, the ears, and the tween them there should be no animal of this char- point of the muzzle, are naked. The skin on the acter, or even approaching to it. What stage of the soles of the feet is violet black; but the tops and geological duration of countries may answer to ani- nails are flesh-coloured.
The whiskers appear mals of this singular order, it is not easy to say ; for, to be used as instruments of touch, as is the though we admit that a few specimens have been case with all mammalia which seek their prey by found fossil in our own latitudes, it is impossible for night; and it is presumed also, that the toes, which us thence to conclude that the animals belong either have a very delicate covering, are highly sensitive. to an early or a late stage of the country ; for we The eyes are small, without any external lids, and have them in the rich woods of South America, and are remarkable for their convexity and consequent in the comparatively barren extent of New Holland, projection beyond their sockets; and from this pecuwhile there are none in Southern Africa, which is liar structure of the eye, it is probable that the aniintermediate between these, and partakes of the mal sees only at short distances, but that its vision characters of both.
there is quite microscopick. In some of the species, the female is furnished From the structure of the nose it is presumed that with a distinct abdominal pouch for the reception of the sense of smell is very acute; but it cannot be very her young during a portion of the period of gestation, delicate in our way of estimating; for in that case and as a place of safety occasionally till they are able the animal would be perfectly intolerable to itself, to shist for themselves; and this pouch is more de- the odour which it emits when disturbed or threalveloped in some than in others.
ened being described as one of the most offensive in The Virginian Opossum.—This species is by far nature. the best known, from its abundance in the southern In many parts of South America the opossum is states. But as it is very generally distributed over so abundant that it prowls about in tbe villages, and America as far as the borders of Patagonia, or at all even in the towns. D'Azzara mentions ibat they are events to the margins of the Pampas, the name Vir- frequently found lying dead in the villages, near the ginian is by no means descriptive of it, as it is found shores of La Plata, and even in the streets of Monte over a range in latitude of certainly not less than five Video. He was the first to get a correct account thousand miles, while the individuals are far more nu- of the marsupial apparatus of the female, which we merous in South than in North America, if the whole shall give in nearly his own words : “ The female surface of each be taken.
has the whole length of the belly cleft or slit, and The usual size of the opossum is the same as that appearing like a person's waistcoat buttoned only at of a cat; its covering consists of a mixture of black the top and bottom. This cavity the animal has the and while hairs, with the ears having the one part power of firmly closing. Within it are thirteen leats, black and the other white. The head often entirely extremely small, one in the centre, and the rest ranwhite. It is very generally distributed, inhabits the ged round it.” woods, is not timil in the vicinity of settled places, Before the female comes to maturity, this marsuprowls about in the night, killing poultry, sucking pial apparatus is but liule developed, there being en egys, and committing other little depredations ; but lv a slight fold of skin on each side the abilomen. we need hardly add that, to man, it is quite harınless. After the young are weaned, the marsupiun also colThe youny, which are often as many as seven in lapses, and it is gradually reproduced as the time number, are exceedingly light and small, at the time approaches when it to receive a new liter. of their birth, that is, the time of their first birth, when transferred from the internal uterus to the pouch. The gestation in the uterus lasts twenty-six Composition of Vegetable Substances.-Azote is days, at the end of which the young have no vesti- an invariable part of the compound of all the ani. ges of eves or c? ears, and are, indeed, little else ihan mals, but not of plants, while carbon is the characsinall lumps of gelatinous matter. They do not open teristick of the latter. On burning thein, the azotheir eyes till about the fiftieth day; but they readily tick smell immediately marks the animal. The find out the teats in the pouch, and attaching them- most essential of the compounds of vegetables are, selves to these, they increase in size. They remain carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen merely
ed with a single and most tremendous volley, by Havre is a large commercial town in the north of which the ship was destroyed, and several lives losi. France, and is situated at the influx of the Seine The reformed religion was that of the majority of into the English channel. This town is strongly the inhabitants of Havre ; and the protestanis called fortified, being surrounded by walls and defended by in the English to their aid in October, 1562. The a citadel, which is considered the most regular and English being obliged to surrender the town by cabest constructed in France. It is believed to have pitulation, after twenty two days' siege, departed with been founded by Louis XII., but when Francis I. the honours of war, and an epidemick, by which more ascended the throne, in 1515, it was but a mere than twenty thousand perished in London, during creek, in which fishermen sought refuge in stormy the three months succeeding the return of the fleet. weather, having only a chapel dedicated to our La- Cardinal Richelieu, next to Francis I., was the great dy of Grace, which has disappeared, and a tavern benefactor of this town. He improved the harbour, or house of refreshment, still existing, with a boat built fortresses, and established a foundry, every and boatman, rudely carved on stone, which was. cannon from which, bore his name. probably its sign. Francis I. built a town here, and bombarded by William III. in 1694, and by admiral fortified it against the English. By a curious desti- Rodney in 1759. It was not till 1786 that the great ny Francis lost the battle of Pavia and his liberty, publick works which now distinguish it were proand Havre was almost destroyed by an inundation jected. Here Sir Sidney Smith, in 1796, by an enin the same year.
Restored to France, he recon- terprise of rare hardihood, cut out the French cruiser structed Havre, and in the port built a ship of a thou-" Le Vengeur," and, by an equally bold manoeuvre sand tuns, colossal in his time, having on board a of the second in command of the Vengeur, was taforge, windmill, chapel, tennis-court, and perfect in ken into Havre on board his own prize. all respects—except that it would not float—as ap- Bonaparte visited Havre for the first time in 1802, pears from Rabelais. In 1545, a fleet of two hun after the peace of Amiens, and saw its capabilities dred vessels, in the roadstead of Havre, menaced for being the first town in France in maritiine comHenry VIII. and England. Francis I. came to Ha- merce, and the best roadstead for the most numerous vre with his court, and gave a grand fete on board fleet. He again visited it in 1810, with the emperess
Philip.” During the rejoicing, the ship-kitch- Maria Louisa. To him Havre owes the great imen took fire; the ship was instantly in a blaze, and provement of its port and its publick works. The the royal party had hardly left it when, in the midst cocks and sluices, on a peculiar site and grand scale, of the flames, a hundred cannon, charged for the pur- are the most important and interesting of the publick pose of being fired off in honour of the fete, thunder-' works. The docks form a segment of a vast circle,