Imágenes de páginas
PDF

1.. cabalhis, or the common horse, elegance, grace, and usefulness of the horse entitle him to particular attention, and certainly roofer upon him a pre-eminence above all other quadrupeds. There are lew parts of the world in which horses arc not to be found ; and in various parts of Africa they maintain their original independence, and range at pleasure in herds of several hundreds, having always one or more as an advanced guard, to alarm against approaching danger. These alarms are expressed by a sudden snorting, at which the main body gallop off with the most surprizing swiftness. In the south of Siberia also, and at the north-west of China, wild liorses are to be found in considerable abundance ; and it is stated, that different herds will carry on hostilities, and one party frequently surround an enemy inferior in number, and conduct them to the hostile territory, manceuvering perpetually to baffle ail their attempts to escape. On each bank of the river Don, towards the Pains Maoris, horses are found wild, but are supposed to be the descendants of domesticated horses, belonging to the Russian army occupied in the siege of Asoph, at the close of the seventeenth century. In America, likewise, horses are found wild in vast abundance, sweeping the extensive plains of Buenos Ayres, and the Brazils particularly, in immense herds. They are taken by the inhabitants by being entangled in a noosed cord, and are often destroyed merely for their hides, as an article of commerce. These American horses are the descendants of those which were introduced by the Spaniards on their discovery of America, as none having previously existed on that continent. They are, in general, small and clumsily formed, and their height rarelyabove fourteen hands. In the deserts of Arabia it has been stated by several writers, wild horses are extremely abundant, but Shaw and Sonnini, with greater probability, confine their appearance in that country to the borders of the desert, the latter not supplying materials for their subsistence. Mr. Bruce mentions the horses of Nubia as unequalled in beauty, and far superior to those of Arabia. Of the former little notice has been taken but from that observant traveller; of the latter the fame has long been distinguished, and the Arabian horse, celebrated for his beauty and swiftiK >-, has been long exported to the Bost remote countries of Europe, to correct and improve the native breeds. In

The Arabia almost every man possesses his horse, which lives in the same apartment or tent with his family, and is considered as constituting by no means the least important part of it. Harsh and violent applications, such as the whip or spur, are rarely inflicted on it. It is fed with the most regular attention, and cleaned with incessant assiduity. The Arab occasionally appears to carry on a conversational intercourse with his horse, and his external attachment to this animal excites in return a corresponding affection. The horse being purified under his management from every vicious propensity, and guarded against casual injury with the utmost solicitude, suffering the infant children to climb its legs without the slightest attempt to kick or shake them off. The Arabs never cross the breeds of horses, and preserve the genealogies of these animals for a considerable number of generations. The horses of Barbary are in high reputation, also, for speed and elegance, as arc likewise those of Spain. In various parts of the East, as in India and in some parts of China, there exists a race of these animals, scarcely exceeding the height of a large mastiff, and with their diminutive size are generally connected not a little intractability and mischievousness. In no country of the globe has the breeding of the horse been attended to on more enlarged and philosophic principles than in Great Britain, and with such success have the efforts of the English on this subject been attended, that their horses are in the highest estimation throughout Europe, and in periods of national tranquillity constitute ,an important article of exportation. Their race-horse is not excelled iu fleetness or beauty by the coursers of Barbary or Arabia, and in supporting a continuance of intense effort is far superior to them both. Details of the exploits of English racers form a subject of extreme interest to a particular description of readers, and cannot be considered by any admirers of nature as beneath attention. Out of innumerable instances which have been authenticated, we shall just mention, that Bay Malton, belonging to the Marquis of Rockingham, ran four miles on the York course in seven minutes and forty-four seconds. The celebrated Childers is supposed to have been the fleetest horse ever known in the world. He was opposed by all the most distinguished horses of his day, and what is, perhaps, unprecedented in such a variety of contests, in every instance

bore off the prize. He is stated to have run a mile in very little more than a minute, and his general progress on a four mile course was at the rate of eighty-two feet and a half in a second. Eclipse was almost equally swift with Guilders, and was considerably stronger. His form was by no means considered as handsome, as indeed his dimensions deviated very considerably from those which were supposed to constitute the standard of perfect beauty in the horse ; but on the most minute examination, his structure was found to be contrived with the most exquisite mechanism for speed. This horse died at the age of twenty-six years, which though unquestionably great, has been often considerably exceeded. Matchem, another celebrated rarer, died at the age of thirty-two. For the racehorse see Mammalia, Plate XI. fig. 1.

The hunter is another distinct class of horses in England, where it is brought, by minute attention to breeding, to a high degree of excellence. With a considerable portion of the speed of the race-horse, it combines inexpressibly more strength; and the exertions which it often endures and survives in violent chases of several hours continuance, are a decided proof of its vigour and value.

The draught-horse constitutes another class of these most interesting animals, and is no where advanced to such size and power as in Great Britain. Yorkshire and Lincolnshire are the most celebrated counties for this breed, whence several have been brought to London which have each, for a short distance drawn, without difficulty, the weight of three tons, half of which is considered as the regular draught. A horse of this class was exhibited as a curiosity in London in the year 180,i, no less than twenty hands in height. For the cart-horse see Mammalia, Plate XI. fig. 2.

The colour of the horse is generally considered as a matter of trifling consequence. A bright or shining bay appears in this country to obtain the preference. In China, what are called pie-bald horses, are in particular estimation. On occasions of particular state in England, eight horses of a cream colour draw the royal carriage. The ancients appear to have connected their ideas of pomp and dignity on similar occasions with the perfect white, in allusion to which the classic* furnish an infinity of circumstances. Absolute whiteness in the horse is, in this country, in almost every in

stance, the effect of age, which expung'p* the dark spot of the original grey. The improvement of the horse has, within a few years, been an object of the attention of government, as well as of enlightened individuals ; and establishments have been formed on a liberal scale for the promotion of veterinary science. In France the government has recently devoted considerable attention to this highly important subject; and, during the last year only (1807) a very considerable number of veterinary schools or colleges were instituted in the capital, and the principal cities of the departments.

E. asinus, the ass. A warm climate is favourable to this species (as also indeed to the horse), which is found in various parts of Africa in a state of nature, in which it is gregarious, and displays very considerable beauty, and even sprightliness. In the mountainous territories of Tartary, and in the south of India and Persia, asses occur in great abundance, and are said to be here either absolutely white, or of a pale grey. Their hair also is reported to be bright and silky. In Persia asses are extremely in use, and supply for different purposes two very different races, one heavy and slow, and the other slight, sprightly, and agile, which last is exclusively kept for the saddle. The practice is prevalent in that country of slitting the nostrils of these animals, by which it is imagined they breathe with greater freedom, and can consequently sustain greater exertion. The ass is stated to have been unknown in England before the reign of Elizabeth. It is now, however, completely naturalized, and its services to the poor, and consequently to the rich, are of distinguished, and almost iudispensible importance. With respect to food, a little is sufficient for its wants a"d the most coarse and neglected herbage supplies it with an acceptable repast. The plaintain is its most favourite herbage. In the choice of water it is, however, extremely fastidious, drinking only of that which is perfectly pure and clear. It is one of the most patient and persevering of animals, but in connection with these qualities, it possesses also great sluggishness, and often obstinacy. Owing to the extreme thickness of its skin, it possesses little sensibility to the application of the whip or the stings of insects, and the want of moisture, united to the above circumstance, precludes it more effectually than, perhaps, any other quadruped, from the annoyance of vermin. The ass is remarkable for particular caution against wetting its feet, to avoid which it will make various turns and crossings on the road. It seldom lies down to sleep, unless it is particularly fatigued, and sleeps considerably less than the horse. It is capable of being taught a variety of exercises, and though regarded as a just emblem of stupidity, is far more susceptible and docile than is generally imagined, though unquestionably far inferior to the horse in these respects. Its bray is harsh and disgusting, particularly that of the male. The female has been considered by many naturalists as incapable of braying, contrary, in this country, most certainly, to the inort frequent and obvious facts. Her voice is somewhat shriller and weaker than the male. In several countries of Africa, and in some islands of the Archipelago, asses are hunted for food, and their flesh is regarded as highly nutritious and agreeable. In England their milk is in high esteem in cases of debility and decline, and where the stomach of the patient is incapable of digesting the more strong and oily produce of the cow. In America, the ass was introduced by the Spaniards, and on the southern continent of that quarter of the world these animals are found at present in vast herds, having multiplied to an extreme degree, and being frequently hunted by the natives, who contrive to surround a particular herd, and enclosing them gradually within a very small compass, entaugle as many as they chose to take by throwing over each a noosed cord with unfailing dexterity. The animal is then fettered with extreme ease, and left in that state upon the ground till the conclusion of the chase, which sometimes is continued for two or three days. They are as swift as horses, and, indeed, in all ages, the wild ass has been considered as distinguished by rapidity. They attack and defend both with the hoof and teeth in the same manner as horses. The slowness and sluggishness of the ass have frequently excited ludicrous feelings, and it is related of Crassus, that the only occasion on which he was ever known to laugh, was at an ass eating thistles. The habits of the ass, however, do not appear certainly a more fertile subject of ridicule than those of that philosopher.

The mule is a hybrid animal, between the horse and the ass, and from its barrennew, affords unquestionable evidence of the distinctness of these two species. In mountainous districts the nmle is extremely serVOL. UI.

viceable as a beast of burden, as it moves over steep and rugged roads with astonishing firmness, steadiness, and facility. In England these animals are but little used, and where they are employed, it is almost uniformly in the above situations. The breed in this country has been considerably improved within a short period, by the importation of asses from Spain, where mules are in the highest estimation, and employed by the first orders of the opulent and noble, both for the saddle and the carriage. They are not unfrequently sold in that kingdom at the price of sixty or seventy guineas. To those who reside in a country abounding with precipitous passes and rugged roads, mules are invaluable, on account of their steadiness and accuracy of step. In the Alps they are uniformly employed by travellers to descend roads, the narrowness, obliquity, and danger of which fill the rider with something approaching to consternation.

Their manner, on particular occasions of perilous and steep descent, is worthy of being mentioned. Among the Alps the path often occupies only the space of a few feet in width, having on one side an eminence of perpendicular ascent, and on the other a vast abyss, and, as it generally follows the direction of the mountains, presents frequently declivities of several hundred yards. On arriving at one of these the mule, for a moment halts, and no effort of the rider can for the time urge it forward. It appears alarmed at the contemplation of the danger. In a few moments, however, it places its fore feet as it might be supposed to do in the act of stopping itself, and almost immediately closes its hinder feet, somewhat advancing them, so as to give the idea of its intention to lie down. In this attitude it glides down the descent with astonishing rapidity, yet amidst all its speed, retains that self government which enables it to follow, with the most perfect precision, all the windings of the road, and to avoid every impediment to its progress and security. During these singular and critical movements, the rider must be cautious to avoid the slightest check, and must devote his attention to the preservation of his; seat without deranging the equilibrium of the mule, the least disordering of which would be inevitably fatal. By long experience on these perilous roads, some mules have acquired the most admirable and astonishing dexterity, and having been in particular requisition from their extraordinary B

'kilt and fame, have become a source of corresponding profit to their owners. See Mammalia, Plate XI. fig. 3.

E. zebra, or the zebra, is somewhat larger than the ass, and far more elegant in its form, particularly with respect to the head and ears. It is either of a milk white or cream colour, adorned on every part with brownish-black stripes, running transversely on the limbs and body, and longitudinally on the face, and arranged with exquisite order, and attended with extreme brilliancy and beauty. These animals inhabit in Africa from Ethiopia to the Cape of Good Hope, between which they exist in vast herds, possessing much of the habits of the wild horse and ass. Like them they are extremely vigilant, and extremely fleet, and so fearful of the sight of man, that, on his first appearance, they fly off with all possible rapidity. They are of an (intractable temper, and the attempts which have been made to domesticate them, have in no instance been attended with complete success. Even when taken young, and brought up with particular assiduity, they have yet exhibited a disposition so wild and vicious, as to give little hope that this beautiful race of creatures will ever eventually be of great service to mankind. Our slight acquaintance, however, with them would render a positive decision to this purpose exceedingly premature. Should the zebra ever be made safely and easily convertible to me same purposes as the horse, an elegant variety would be added to the luxuries of the great and opulent. See Mammalia, Plate XI. fig. *

E. quagga is marked with fewer stripes than the zebra, and those few of a browner colour and larger size. The hinder parts of this animal are not striped, but spotted. It is found in Africa, is gregarious, extremely fleet, and more tractable than the last species, so much so indeed, that by the Dutch settlers at the Cape, it has been occasionally employed for the purposes both of draught and saddle. The same parts of Africa abound both in the quagga and the zebra, but the two species are never seen together.

E. bisulcus, or the buemel, u a native of South America, particularly of the rugged districts of the Andes. It resembles the ass in general form, and the horse in \oice, and in the smallness and neatness of its cars; it is distinguished from both, and from every other known species of the equine genus, by having a divided hoof,

and constitutes a link between the clovenhoofed and whole-hoofed quadrupeds.

ERECTOR. See Anatomy.

ERICA, in botany, heath, a genus of the Octandria Monogynia class and order. Natural order of Bicornes. Erica-, Jussieu. Essential character: calyx four-leaved; corolla four-cleft; filaments inserted into the receptacle; anthers cloven; capsule ^fourcelled. There are eighty-four species. These are small shrubs. Their leaves arc linear, lanceolate or ovate, imbricate or remote, entire, ciliate or serrate, in some opposite, in most whorled, in others again scattered; bracts usually three; the flowers are either axillary or terminating, and variously disposed; corolla mostly of a purple colour; anthers usually oblong, though sometimes linear; germ in most species smooth.

ERIDANUS, in astronomy, a constellation of the southern hemisphere; containing, according to different authors, 19, 30, or even 68 stars.

ERIGERON, in botany, a genus of the Syngcnesia Polygamia Superflua class and order. Natural order of Composite Discoidete. Corymbifcrie, Jussieu. Essential character: receptacle naked; down hairy; corolla of the ray linear, and very narrow. There are thirty species.

ERINACEUS, the hedgehog, in natural history, a genus of Mammalia, of the order Ferai. Generic character: two fore teeth, both above and below, those of the upper jaw distant, those of the lower approximated ; five tusks on each side of the upper jaw, three on each side of the lower; four grinders on each side, both above and below; body covered on the upper part with spines. There are six species.

E curopxus, the common hedge-hog, is found in all the temperate climates of Europe and Asia. Its whole length is about eleven inches, its colour generally a grey brown. It lives in hedges and thickets, and subsists on young toads, worms, beetles, crabs, fruits, and birds. It conceals itself in its hole during the day, and by night wanders in search of food. It builds its nest of moss, and produces four or five, young ones at a birth. These animals possess the curious, though not completely singular property of rolling themselves into a compact form, like a ball, their spines only appearing, and presenting to the enemy an armed front, which lie generally trembles to assail. The greater the danger it is exposed to, the more closely it is compacted, and it is difficult to compel it from this state to its usual form without the application of cold water, on being immersed in which, it appears in its usual shape. It lies in this ball-like form during the winter in its mossy nest, insensible to the extremity of the cold, and, on the approach of spring, resumes its nocturnal researches. It is perfectly harmless, and in some countries is said to be domesticated, and in this state is employed by the Calmncks in their habitations to clear them from various annoying insects. It possesses a considerable odour of musk. It is occasionally hunted by dogs, Which, however, before they are disciplined to the pursuit, are not fond of encountering these animals, being deterred by their Horrid aspect, or wounding bristles. They soon, however, find their superiority, and after a little irritation from the spines of the animal, are exasperated to the full application of their teeth, which the hedge-hog is totally unable to resist. Finding his globular form how cease to be his effectual security, he unrolls himself, and falls an immediate victim to the dogs, who are generally urged on to the sport by persons of far greater curiosity than sensibility. See Mammalia, Plate XII. fig. 1.

[graphic]

E, malaccensis, or the Malacca hedgehog, is about the size of the common porcupine; its ears are long and pendulous, and its spines, or rather quills, are stated to vary on different parts of the animal from the length of an inch to a foot and a half. It is remarkable for a concretion in the gall-bladder about the size of a walnut, which is intensely bitter, and which, in the days of medical ignorance and superstition, was imagined to possess the highest virtue in cases of fever and other malignant diseases, and, when found entire, has been sold occasionally for more than two hundred pounds. These bezoars, however, are by no means peculiar to this animal. See Mammalia, Plate XII, fig. 2.

ERINUS, in botany, a genus of the Didynamia Angiospermia class and order. Natural order of Personatse. Pediculares, Jussieu. Essential character: calyx fiveleaved; corolla border five-cleft, equal, with the lobes, emarginate; upper lip very short, reflex; capsule two-celled. There are thirteen species. The flowers in this genus are either axillary, or with one bracte to each, in a terminating spike; leaves alternate. They are chiefly natives of Africa.

ERIOCAULON, a genus of the Triandria Tiygiuia class and order. Natural

order of Ensata;. Junci, Jussieu. Essential character: calyx common, an imbricate head; petals three, equal; stamina upon the germ. There are six species.

ERIOCEPHALUS, in botany, a genus of the Syngenesia Polygamia Necessaria class and order. Natural order of Compost tie Nucamentacea;. Corymbifene, Jussieu. Essential character: receptacle subviltose; down none; calyx ten-leaved, equal; in the ray five floscules. There are two species, viz. E. africanns, cluster-leaved eriocephalus, and E, racemosus, silveryleaved eriocephalus. Both natives of the Cape of Good Hope.

The leaves of the first mentioned are woolly; they come out in clusters, some taper and entire, others divided into three pairs, which spread open like a hand; they have a strong smell when bruised, approaching to that of lavender cotton, though not so rank. The flowers are produced in small clusters at the ends of the branches, standing erect. The female florets which compose the ray form a hollow, in the middle of which the hermaphrodite florets forming the disk are situated.

ERIOPHORUM, in botany, cotton grass, a genus of the Triandria Monogytiia class and order. Natural order of Calamaria. Cyperoidea*, Jussieu. Essential character: glumes chaffy, imbricate every way; corolla none; seed one, surrounded with a very long wool. There are six species. These are bog plants, and are nearly allied to the grasses; they are rarely cultivated in gardens.

ERIOSPERMUM, in botany, a genus of the Hexandria Monogynia class and order. Corolla six petalled, campanulate, permanent; filaments dilated at the base; capsule three-celled; seeds invested with wool. There are three species.

ERIOSTEMUM, in botany, a genus of the Decandria Monogynia class and order. Calyx five-parted; petals five, sessile; stamina flat, ciliate; anthers pcdicelled terminal; style from the base of the germ; capsules five, united, seated on a nectary covered with protuberances; seeds coated. One species, viz. E. australasia.

ERITHALIS, in botany, a genus of the Pentandria Monogynia class and order. Natural order of Rubiacex, Jussieu. Essential character: corolla five-parted, with the divisions bent back; calyx pitchershaped ; berry ten-celled, inferior. There are two species, rig, the fruticosa and polygama.

ERMIN. JSee Muitkla.
E*

« AnteriorContinuar »