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SIR JOSEPH BANKS.
that nobody ever stopped him in the forests of Cayenne to ask him for his license, or to inquire if he had a hundred a year, ot to take away his gun, or to dispute the limits of a manor, or to threaten him with a tropical justice of the peace. We hope, however, that in this point we are on the eve of improvement. Mr. Peel, who is a man of high character and principles, may depend upon it that the time is come for his interference, and that it will be a loss of reputation to him not to interfere. If any one else can and will carry an alteration through Parliament, there is no occasion that the hand of government should appear; but some hand must appear. The common people are becoming ferocious, and the perdricide criminals are more numerous than the violators of all the branches of the Decalogue.
"The king of the vultures is very handsome, and seems to be the only bird which claims regal honours from a surrounding tribe. It is a fact beyond all dispute, that when the scent of carrion has drawn together hundreds of the common vultures, they all retire from the carcass as soon as the king of the vultures makes his appearance. When his majesty has satisfied the cravings of his royal stomach with the choicest bits from the most stinking and corrupted parts, he generally retires to a neighbouring tree, and then the common vultures return in crowds to gobble down his leavings. The Indians, as well as the whites, have observed this; for when one of them, who has learned a little English, sees the king, and wishes you to have a proper notion of the bird, he says, 'There is the governor of the carrion crows.' "Now, the Indians have never heard of a personage in Demerara higher than that of governor; and the colonists, through a common mistake, call the vultures carrion crows. Hence the Indian, in order to express the dominion of this bird over the common vultures, tells you he is governor of the carrion crows. The Spaniards have also observed it, for, through all the Spanish Main, he is called Rey de Zamuros, king of the vultures."
This, we think, explains satisfactorily the origin of kingly government. As men have "learnt from the dog the physic of the field," they may probably have learnt from the vulture those high lessons of policy upon which, in Europe, we suppose the whole happiness of society, and the very existence of the human race, to depend.
Just before his third journey, Mr. Waterton takes leave of Sir Joseph Banks, and speaks of him with affectionate regret. "I saw," says Mr. W., "with sorrow, that death was going to rob us of him. We talked of stuffing quadrupeds; I agreed that the lips and nose ought to be cut off, and stuffed with wax." This is the way great naturalists take an eternal farewell of each other!
Upon stuffing animals, however, we have a word to say. Mr. Waterton has placed at the head of his book the picture of what he is pleased to consider a nondescript species of monkey. In this exhibition our author is surely abusing his stuffing talents, and laughing at the public. It is clearly the head of a master in chancery-whom we have often seen backing in the House of Commons after he has delivered his message. It is foolish thus to trifle with science and natural history. Mr. Waterton gives an interesting account of the sloth, an animal of which he appears to be fond, and whose habits he has studied with peculiar attention.
"Some years ago I kept a sloth in my room for several months. I often took him out of the house and placed him upon the ground, in order to have an opportunity of observing his motions. If the ground were rough, he would pull himself forward, by means of his fore legs, at a pretty good pace; and he invariably shaped his course toward the nearest tree. But if I put him upon a smooth and well-trodden part of the road, he appeared to be in trouble and distress: his favourite abode was the back of a chair; and after getting all his legs in a line upon the topmost part of it, he would hang there for hours together, and often, with a low and inward cry, would seem to invite me to take notice of him."
The sloth, in its wild state, spends its life in trees, and never leaves them but from force or accident. The eagle to the sky, the mole to the ground, the sloth to the tree; but what is most extraordinary, he lives not upon the branches, but under them. He moves suspended, rests suspended, sleeps suspended, and passes his life in suspense-like a young clergyman distantly related to a bishop. Strings of ants may be observed, says our good traveller, a mile long, each carrying in its mouth a green leaf the size of a sixpence! he does not say whether this is a loyal procession, like Oak-apple Day, or for what purpose these leaves are carried; but it appears, while they are carrying the leaves, that three sorts of ant-bears are busy in eating them. The habits of the largest of these three animals are curious, and to us new. We recommend the account to the attention of the reader.
"He is chiefly found in the inmost recesses of the forest, and seems partial to the low and swampy parts near creeks, where the Trooly tree grows. There he goes up and down in quest of ants, of which there is never the least scarcity; so that he soon obtains a sufficient supply of food, with very little trouble. He can not travel fast; man is superior to him in speed. Without swiftness to enable him to escape from his enemies, without teeth, the possession of which would assist him in self defence, and without the
power of burrowing in the ground, by which he might conceal himself from his pursuers, he still is capable of ranging through these wilds in perfect safety, nor does he fear the fatal pressure of the serpent's fold, or the teeth of the famished jaguar. Nature has formed his fore-legs wonderfully thick, and strong, and muscular, and armed his feet with three tremendous sharp and crooked claws. Whenever he seizes an animal with these formidable weapons, he hugs it close to his body and keeps it there till it dies through pressure, or through want of food. Nor does the ant-bear, in the meantime, suffer much from loss of aliment, as it is a well-known fact, that he can go longer without food than perhaps any other animal, except the land tortoise. His skin is of a texture that perfectly resists the bite of a dog; his hinder parts are protected by thick and shaggy hair, while his immense tail is large enough to cover his whole body.
"The Indians have a great dread of coming in contact with the ant-bear; and, after disabling him in the chase, never think of approaching him till he be quite dead."
The vampire measures about twenty-six inches from wing to wing. There are two species, large and small. The large suck men, and the smaller, birds. Mr. W. saw some fowls which had been sucked the night before, and they were scarcely able to walk.
66 Some years ago I went to the river Paumaron with a Scotch gentleman, by name Tarbet. We hung our hammocks in the thatched loft of a planter's house. Next morning I heard this gentleman muttering in his hammock, and now and then letting fall an imprecation or two, just about the time he ought to have been saying his morning prayers. What is the matter, sir?' said I, softly; 'is anything amiss?'-'What's the matter?' answered he, surlily; 'why, the vampires have been sucking me to death.' As soon as there was light enough, I went to his hammock, and saw it much stained with blood. There,' said he, thrusting his foot out of the hammock, ‘see how these infernal imps have been drawing my life's blood.' On examining his foot, I found the vampire had tapped his great toe: there was a wound somewhat less than that made by a leech; the blood was still oozing from it; I conjectured he might have lost from ten to twelve ounces of blood. Whilst examining it, I think I put him into a worse humour, by remarking, that a European surgeon would not have been so generous as to have blooded him without making a charge. He looked up in my face, but did not say a word: I saw he was of opinion that I had better have spared this piece of ill-timed levity."
The story which follows this account is vulgar, unworthy of Mr. Waterton, and should have been omitted.
Every animal has its enemies. The land-tortoise has two enemies, man and the boa-constrictor. The natural defence of the landtortoise is to draw himself up in his shell, and to remain quiet. In his state, the tiger, however famished, can do nothing with him,
INSECTS OF THE TROPICS.
for the shell is too strong for the stroke of his paw. Man, however, takes him home and roasts him—and the boa-constrictor swallows him whole, shell and all, and consumes him slowly in the interior, as the Court of Chancery does a great estate.
The danger seems to be much less with snakes and wild beasts, if you conduct yourself like a gentleman, and are not abruptly intrusive. If you will pass on gently, you may walk unhurt within a yard of the Labairi snake, who would put you to death if you rushed upon him. The taguan knocks you down with a blow of his paw, if suddenly interrupted, but will run away, if you will give him time to do so. In short, most animals look upon man as a very ugly customer; and, unless sorely pressed for food, or from fear of their own safety, are not fond of attacking him. Mr. Waterton, though much given to sentiment, made a Labairi snake bite itself, but no bad consequences ensued-nor would any bad consequences ensue, if a court-martial were to order a sinful soldier to give himself a thousand lashes. It is barely possible that the snake had some faint idea of whom and what he was biting.
Insects are the curse of tropical climates. The bête rouge lays the foundation of a tremendous ulcer. In a moment you are covered with ticks. Chigoes bury themselves in your flesh, and hatch a large colony of young chigoes in a few hours. They will not live together, but every chigoe sets up a separate ulcer, and has his own private portion of pus. Flies get entry into your mouth, into your eyes, into your nose; you eat flies, drink flies, and breathe flies. Lizards, cockroaches, and snakes, get into the bed; ants eat up the books; scorpions sting you on the foot. Everything bites, stings, or bruises; every second of your existence you are wounded by some piece of animal life that nobody has ever seen before, except Swammerdam and Meriam. An insect with cleven legs is swimming in your teacup, a nondescript with nine wings is struggling in the small beer, or a caterpillar with several dozen eyes in his belly is hastening over the bread and butter! All nature is alive, and seems to be gathering all her entomological hosts to eat you up, as you are standing, out of your coat, waistcoat, and breeches. Such are the tropics. All this reconciles us to our dews, fogs, vapours, and drizzle-to our apothecaries rushing about with gargles and tinctures-to our old, British, constitutional coughs, sore throats, and swelled faces.
Now, what shall we say, after all, of Mr. Waterton? That he has spent a great part of his life in wandering in the wild scenes he describes, and that he describes them with entertaining zeal and real feeling. His stories draw largely sometimes on our faith: but a man who lives in the woods of Cayenne must do many odd things, and see many odd things-things utterly unknown to the dwellers in Hackney and Highgate. We do not want to rein up Mr. Waterton too tightly-because we are convinced he goes best with his head free. But a little less of apostrophe, and some faint suspicion of his own powers of humour, would improve this gentleman's style. As it is, he has a considerable talent at describing. He abounds with good feeling; and has written a very entertaining book, which hurries the reader out of his European parlour, into the heart of tropical forests, and gives, over the rules and the cultivation of the civilized parts of the earth, a momentary superiority to the freedom of the savage, and the wild beauties of nature. We honestly recommend the book to our readers: it is well worth the perusal.
THERE is nothing more amusing in the spectacles of the present day, than to see the Sir Johns and Sir Thomases of the House of Commons struck aghast by the useful science and wise novelties of Mr. Huskisson and the chancellor of the exchequer. Treason, Disaffection, Atheism, Republicanism, and Socinianism-the great guns in the Noodle's park of artillery, they cannot bring to bear upon these gentlemen. Even to charge with a regiment of ancestors, is not quite so efficacious as it used to be; and all that remains, therefore, is to rail against Peter M'Culloch and Political Economy! In the meantime, day after day, down goes one piece of nonsense or another. The most approved trash, and the most trusty clamours, are found to be utterly powerless. Two-penny taunts and trumpery truisms have lost their destructive omnipotence and the exhausted commonplace-man, and the afflicted fool, moan over the ashes of Imbecility, and strew flowers on the urn of Ignorance! General Elliot found the London tailors in a *Granby. A Novel in Three Volumes. London, Colburn, 1826. Fa Rev., Feb.. 1824