Page images

by eagles; but fortunately they received no hurt by cho way; and, the eagles being pursued, the children were found unhurt in the nests, and restored to the affrighted parents.

7. The eagle is thus at all times a formidable neighbour: but peculiarly so when bringing up its young. It is then that the male and female exert all their force and in dustry to supply their offspring. Smith, in his history of Kerry, relates, that a poor man in that country got a comfortable subsistence for his family, during a summer of famine, out of an eagle's nest, by robbing the eaglets of food, which was plentifully supplied by the old ones.

8. He protracted their assiduity beyond the usual time, by clipping the wings, and retarding the flight of the young; and very probably also, as I have known myself, by so tying them, as to increase their cries, which are always found to increase the parent's despatch to procure them provision. It was fortunate, however, that the old eagles did not surprise the countryman thus employed, as their resentment might have been dangerous.

9. It requires great patience and much art to tame an eagle; and even though taken young, and subdued by long assiduity, yet it is a dangerous domestic, and often turns it's force against its master. When brought into the field for the

purposes of fowling, the falconer is never sure of its attachment : its innate pride, and love of liberty, still prompt it to regain its native solitudes. Sometimes, however, eagles are brought to have an attachment to their feeder

; they are then highly serviceable, and liberally provide for his pleasures and support.

10. When the falconer lets them go from his hand, they play about and hover round him till their game presents, which they see at an immense distance, and pursue with certain destruction. 11. It is said that the eagle can live many weeks without

and that the period of its life exceeds a hundred years,




The humming-bird. 1. Of all the birds that flutter in the garden, or paint

the landscape, the humminy-bird is the most delightful to look upon, and the most inoffensive. Of this charming little animal, there are six or seven varieties, from the size of a small wren, down to that of an humble-bee. A European would not readily suppose that there existed any birds so very small, and yet so completely furnished with a bill, feathers, wings, and intestines, exactly resembling those of the largest kind.

2. Birds not so big as the end of one's little finger, would probably be supposed mere creatures of imagination, were they not seen in infinite numbers, and as frequent as butterflies in a summer's day, sporting in the fields of America, from flower to flower, and extracting sweets with their little bills.

3. The smallest humming-bird is about the size of a hazel-nut. The feathers on its wings and tail are black; but those on its body, and under its wings, are of a greenish brown, with a fine red cast or gloss, which no silk or velvet can imitate.

It has a small crest on its head, green at the botton, and as it were gilded at the top; and which sparkles in the sun like a little star in the middle of its forehead. The bill is black, straight, slender, and of the length of a small pin.

4. It is inconceivable how much these birds add to the high finishing and beauty of a rich luxurious western landscape. As soon as the sun is risen, the humming-birds, of different kinds, are seen fluttering about the flowers, without ever lighting upon them. Their wings are in so rapid motion, that it is impossible to discern their colours, except by their glittering

5. They are never still, but continually in motion, visiting flower after flower, and extracting its honey as if with a kiss. For this purpose they are furnished with a forky Longue, that enters the cup of the flower, and extracts its nectared tribute. Upon this alone they subsist. The rapid inotion of their wings occasions a humming sound, from whence they have their name; for whatever divides the air swiftly, must produce a murmur.

6. The nests of these birds are also very curious. They are suspended in the air, at the point of the twigs of an orange, a pomegranate, or a citron tree; sometimes even in houses, if a small and convenient twig is found for the pur

[ocr errors][ocr errors]



pose. The female is the architect, while the male goes

in quest of materials; such as cotton, fine moss, and the fibres of vegetables. Of these materials, a nest is composed, about the size of a hen's egg cut in two; it is admirably contrived, and warmly lined with cotton.

7. There are never more than two eggs found in a nest , these are about the size of small peas, and as white as snow, with here and there a yellow speck. The male and tho female sit upon the nest by turns; but the female takes to herself the greatest share. She seldom quits the nest, except a few minutes in the morning and evening, when the dew is upon the flowers, and their honey in perfection.

8. During the short interval, the male takes her place. The time of incubation continues twelve days; at the end of which the young ones appear much about the size of a blue-bottle fly. They are at first bare ; by degrees they are covered with down; and, at last, feathers succeed, but less beautiful at first than those of the old ones.

9. Father Labat, in his account of the mission to America, says, " that his companion found the nest of a hum. ming-bird, in a shed near the dwelling-house; and took it in, at a time when the young ones were about fifteen or twenty days old. He placed them in a cage at his chamber window, to be amused by their sportive flutterings : but he was much surprised to see the old ones, which came and fed their brood regularly every hour in the day. By this means they themselves grew so tame, that they seldom quitted the chamber; and, without any constraint, came to live with their young ones.

10. “ All four frequently perched upon their master's hand, chirping as if they had been at liberty abroad. He fed them with a very fine clear paste, made of wine, bis cuit, and sugar. They thrust their tongues into this paste, till they were satisfied, and then fluttered and chirped about the room. I never beheld any thing more agreeaa

which ble,” continues he, “ than this lovely little w in had possession of my companion's chamber, and flew in and out just as they thought proper; but were ever attentive to the voice of their master, when he called them.

11. “ In this manner they lived with him above six months : but at time when he pecte to see lony formed, he unfortunately forgot to tie up their cage to


new CO

the ceiling at night, to preserve them from the rats, and he found in the morning, to his great mortification, that they were all devoured.”



The horse. 1. Of all quadrupeds, the horse appears to be the most Leautiful. His fine size, the glossy smoothness of his skin, the graceful ease of his motions, and the exact symmetry of his shape, entitle him to this distinction.

2. To have an idea of this noble animal in his native simplicity, we are not to look for him in the pastures, or the stables, to which he has been consigned by man; but in those wild and extensive plains, where he was originally produced, where he ranges without control, and riots in all the variety of luxurious nature. In this state of happy independence, he disdains the assistance of man, which tends only to his servitude.

3. In those boundless tracts, whether of Africa or New Spain, where he runs at liberty, he seems no way incommoded with the inconveniences to which he is subject in Europe. The continual verdure of the fields supplies his wants; and the climate that never knows a winter suits his constitution, which naturally seems adapted to heat.

4. In those countries, the horses are often seen feeding in droves of five or six hundred. As they do not carry on war against any other race of animals, they are satisfied to remain entirely upon the defensive. They have always one among their number that stands as centinel, to give notice of any approaching danger; and this office they take by turns.

5. If a man approaches them while they are feeding by day, their centinel walks up boldly towards him, as if to examine his strength, or to intimidate him from proceed. ing; but as the man approaches within pistol-shot, the centinel then thinks it high time to alarm his fellows. This he does by a loud kind of snorting; upon which they all take the signal, and fly off with the speed of the wind; their faithful centinel bringing up the rear.

6. But of all countries in the world, where the horse cuns wild, Arabia produces the most beautiful breed, the

most generous, swift, and persevering. They are found, though not in great numbers, in the deserts of that country; and the natives use every stratagem to take them.

7. The usual manner in which the Arabians try the swiftness of these animals, is by hunting the ostrich. The horse is the only ánimal whose speed is comparable to that of this creature, which is found in the sandy plains, that abound in those countries. The instant the ostrich perceives itself aimed at, it makes to the mountains, while the horseman pursues with all the swiftness possible, and endeavours to cut off its retreat. The chase then continues along the plain, while the ostrich makes use of both legs and wings to assist its motion.

8. A horse of the first speed is able to outrun it: so that the

poor animal is then obliged to have recourse to art to elude the hunter, by frequently turning. At length, finding all escape hopeless, it hides its head wherever it can, and tamely suffers itself to be taken. If the horse, in a trial of this kind, shows great speed, and is not readily tired, his character is fixed, and he is held in high estimation.

9. The horses of the Arabians form the principal riches cf many of their tribes, who use them both in the chase, and in their expeditions for plunder. They never carry heavy burdens, and are seldom employed on long journeys. They are so tractable and familiar, that they will run from the fields to the call of their masters. The Arab, his wife, and children, often lie in the same tent with the mare and foal; which, instead of injuring them, suffer the children to rest' on their bodies and necks, and seem afraid even to move lest they should hurt them.

10. They never beat or correct their horses, but treat them with kindness, and even affection. The following anecdote of the compassion and attachment shown by a poor Arabian to one of these animals, will be interesting to every reader.-The whole property of this Arab consisted of a very fine beautiful mare. This animal the French consul at Said offered to purchase, with an intention to send her to the king, Louis the Fourteenth.

11. The Arab, pressed by want, hesitated a long time, but at length consented, on condition of receiving a very considerable sum of money, which he named. The con

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »