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shall describe it more minutely hereafter. Our present business is with the suroke, which is seen in all parts of the steppes, sitting erect, near its burrow, on the slightest alarm, whistling very loud, and observing all around. It makes such extensive subterraneous chambers, that the ground is perforated in all directions, and the land destroyed, wherever the animal is sound. Its colour is a grayish brown. It has five fingers upon each of its paws, which very much resemble human hands, and are used after the same manner. The mouth, teeth, and head, are like those of the squirrel; but the ears are shortcr. Its fine eyes are round, full, dark, and bright; the tail is short; the belly generally protuberant, and very large. It devours whatever it finds, with the greatest voracity; and remains in a state of torpor half the time of its cristence. Many of the peasants keep these creatures tame in their houses. We purchased no less than four, which lived, and travelled with us, in our carriage, and gave us an opportunity to study their natural history. They were always playing or sleeping, beneath our feet, to the great annoyance of our little pug dog, who felt much insulted by the liberties they took with him. The peasants, universally, gave them the name of avaski. They assured me, they always lost them in the month of September, and that they did not make their reappearance until the beginning of April. They either descended into a burrow, or concealed themselves in some place, where they might remain least liable to observation, and there slept during the whole winter. To awaken them during that season, materially injures their health, and sometimes kills them. They are most destructive animals, for they will gnaw every thing which falls into their way; as shoes, boots, wooden planks, and all kinds of roots, fruit, and vegetables. They made sad havock
with the lining of our carriage, which was of leather. As soon as they have done eating, they become so somnolent, as even to fall asleep in your hands, in any posture or situation, or under any circumstance of jolting, noise, or motion. While awake they are very active, and surpass every other animal in the quickness with which they will bury themselves in the earth. They resemble guinea pigs in making a grunting noise; and whenever surprised, or much pleased, or in any degree frightened, they utter loud and short squeaks, which have the tone of a person whistling. Having mentioned our little pug dog, it may be well to say something of the importance of its presence with us, for the advantage of other travellers. The precaution was first recommended to us by a Polish traveller in Denmark. Any small dog (the more diminutive the better; because the more portable, and generally the more petulant) will prove a valuable guardian, in countries where the traveller is liable to attacks from midnight robbers, and especially from pirates by water, as in the Archipelago. They generally sleep during the day, and sound their shrill alarum, upon the most distant approach of danger, during the night. I recollect an instance of one, who enabled a party of mariners to steer clear of some shallows, by barking at a buoy, which, in the darkness of the night, they had not perceived. The instances in which our little dog was useful, it is needless to relate. But it may gratify curiosity to be informed, that, naturally afraid of water, and always averse from entering it, he crossed all the rivers and lakes of Lapland, Sweden, and Norway, after his masters; accompanied them, during three years, in different climates, yet detesting bodily exercise; and ultimately performed a journey on foot, keeping up with horses, from Athens, through all Greece, Macedonia, and Thrace; making the tour of the Archipelago, to Constantinople; and thence, in the same manner, through Bulgaria and Wallachia, to Bucharest. Other animals, common in the steppes (or plains) are wolves and bears; also, a quadruped, called biroke, of a gray colour, something like a wolf, very ferocious, and daring enough to attack a man. The Cossack peasants, armed with their lances, sally forth, on horseback, to the chase of this animal. It has a long, full tail, which it drags on the ground. From the accounts given of it by the peasants, I suspected it to be the same animal described by professor Pallas, as found in the environs of Astrachan, under the appellation of chakal, and which is said
the Don, they absolutely swarm, and may be taken in any number. This interesting little animal is supposed to be the mus citullus of Buffon; but the description of it will prove whether this be really the case or not. We, procured several, one of which we stuffed; but it has not been preserved; and, therefore, I prefer making reference to the notes taken on the spot, rather than to any thing connected with its present appearance. It makes a whistling noise, like the suroke; but is much smaller, not being larger than a small weasel. It constructs its habitation under ground, with incredible quickness; excavating, first of all, a small cylindrical hole or well, perpendicularly, to the depth of three feet; thence, like a correct miner, it shoots out a level, although ratherin an ascending direction, to prevent
being incommoded by water. At the extremity of this little gallery, it forms a very spacious chamber, to which, as to a granary, it brings, every morning and evening, all it can collect of favourite herbage, of corn, if it can be found, of roots, and other food. Nothing is more amusing than to observe its habits. If any one approaches, it is seen sitting, at the entrance of its little dwelling, erect, upon its hind feet, like the suroke, carefully noticing whatever is going on around it. In the beginning of winter, previous to retiring for the season, it carefully closes up the entrance to its subterraneous abode with sand, in order to keep out the snow; as nothing annoys it so much as water, which is all the Calmucks and Cossacks make use of in taking them; for the instant that water is poured into their burrows, they run out, and are easily caught. The Calmucks are very fond of them; but I believe they are rarely eaten by the Cossacks. Their greatest enemy is the falcon, who makes a constant breakfast and supper of suslicks. They have from two to ten young ones at a time; and, it is supposed, from the hoard prepared, that the suslick does not sleep, like the suroke, during winter. All the upper part of its body is of a deep yellow, spotted with white. Its neck is beautifully white; the breast yellowish, and the belly a mixed colour of yellow and gray. It has, moreover, a black forehead, reddish, white temples, and a white chin. The rest of its head is of an ashcoloured yellow; and the ears are remarkably small. Among the feathered tribe in the steppes, we noticed, particularly in this part of our journey, birds called staritchi, or the elders; which are seen in flocks, and held by the people in superstitious veneration. They are about the size of a snipe, with a very elegant form, a brown colour, and white breast.
[f Rom clarke's TRAvels in Russia, &c.]
THE JERBOA, OR JUMPING HARE.
A few days after we took up our residence with professor Pallas (at Akmetchet, in the Crimea) some Tartars brought him a beautiful little animal, which has been called
the jumping hare, and born a va
riety of names, but is in fact the same as the African jerboa. We saw it afterwards in Egypt; and it is not common either there or in the Crimea. It may be called the kangaroo in miniature; as it has the same form, although it is smaller than a rabbit, and it assists itself, like the kangaroo, with its tail, in leaping. That which professor Pallas received, was a pregnant female, containing two young ones. Its colour was light gray, except the belly, which was almost white. The fore feet of this animal are attached to its breast, without any legs; so that in all its motions it makes use only of its hind quarters, bounding and making surprising leaps, whenever it is disturbed. Afterwards we caught one in the steppes, which we stuffed and brought to England. Professor Pallas himself did not seem to be aware that the mus jaculus, which was the name he gave it, is the animal mentioned by Shaw, in his account of Barbary; nor was it until we became enabled to make the £omparison ourselves in Africa, that we discovered the jerboa to be the same kind of quadruped we had before known in the Crimea. Bochart supposes this little animal to be the safthan of the scriptures. “The high hills are a refuge for the wild goats, and so are the stony rocks for the saphannim;” which our translation renders “ conies.” Shaw is, however, undecided upon this point; but supposes the jerboa, from the remarkable disproportion of his fore and hinder legs, may be taken for one of the two footed rats mentioned
by Herodotus and other authors The whole merit of either of these observations, if there be any, is due, first to the learned Bochart, and afterwards to the labours of Haym, in the illustration of a medal of Cyrene, upon which this animal appears; although Shaw, after the introduction of these observations in his work, not only does not acknowledge whence he derived the information, but even asserts that the animal described by Haym was not the jerboa. It seems pretty clear that it was, although in the engraving published by Haym the fore feet are represented rather too long. A century ago, they did not pay the attention to minute accuracy in such representations, which they do now, and nearly that time has elapsed, since the work of Haym appeared. His mode of expressing himself is, to be sure, somewhat equivocal, because he says: “When it ran, it went hopping like a bird;” but the words “e sempre camina sopra due piedi solamente,” as well as “ salta molt' alto quand’, e spavurito,” when added to the engraved representation, plainly prove what it was. It is generally esteemed as an article of food in all countries where it is found. It burrows in the ground like a rabbit; but seems more to resemble the squirrel, than either that animal or the rat. Its fine dark eyes have all the lustre of the antelope's, Haym says, the smell of it is never offensive when kept domestick; and, indeed, it may be considered one of the most pleasing, harmless, little quadrupeds of which we have any knowledge. Gmelin observed it in the neighbourhood of Woronetz, in 1768; Messerschmied, in Siberia; and Hasselquist, in Egypt. When our army was encamped near Alexandria, in the late expedition to
Egypt, the soldiers preserved some of these animals in boxes, and fed them like rabbits. In another place, speaking of this curious animal, Dr. Clarke says: “We travelled all night; and in the morning, at sunrise, were roused by our interpreter, a Greek, who begged we would observe an animal half flying and half running among the herbs. It was a jerboa, the quadruped already noticed. We caught it with some difficulty, and should not have succeeded, but for the cracking of a large whip, the noise of which terrified it so much, that it lost all recollection of its
burrow. Its leaps were extraordinary for so small an animal; sometimes to the distance of six or eight yards, but in no determinate direction. It bounded backwards and forwards, without ever quitting the vicinity of the place where it was found. The most singular circumstance in its nature is, the power it possesses of altering its course when in the air. It first leaps perpendicularly from the ground to the height of four feet or more; and then, by a motion of its tail, with a clicking noise, strikes off in whatever direction it chooses.”
REMARKABLE INSTANCE OF THE EFFECTS OF FEAR.
George Groehantzy, a Polander, who had enlisted as a soldier in the service of the king of Prussia, deserted during the last war. A small party was sent in pursuit of him; and, when he least expected it, they surrounded him, singing and dansing among a company of peasants, who were got together at an inn, and were making merry. This event, so sudden and unforseen, and at the same time, so dreadful in its consequences, struck him in such a manner, that, giving a great cry, he became, at once, altogether stupid and insensible, and was seized, without the least resistance. They carried him away to Glosau, where he was brought before the council of war, and received sentence, as a de£erter. He suffered himself to be led and disposed of, at the will of those about him, without uttering a word, er giving the least sign, that he knew what had happened, or would happen to him. He remained immovable as a statue, wherever he was placed, and was wholly passive with respect to all that was done to him, or about him. During all the time he was in custody, he neither ate, drank, nor slept, nor had any
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evacuation. After some time, they knocked off his fetters, and left him at liberty to go whither he would. He received his liberty with the same insensibility that he had showed upon other occasions. He remained fixed and immovable; his eyes turned wildly here and there, without taking cognizance of any object, and the muscles of his face were fallen, and fixed, like those of a dead body. Being left to himself, he passed nineteen days in this condition, without eating, drinking, or any evacuation, and died on the twentieth day.
Among the numerous votaries of light literature, there have not been wanting some possessed of leisure to inquire into the meaning of horns being usually ascribed to those who are unhappy enough to have wives of over-accommodating dispositions.— A writer (who must certainly be termed learned, since he expresses limself in Latin) informs us that none but horned animals are gregarious, and intermingle in common, and that thence originates the gibe under consideration. But, it is evident, that this author is mistaken,
both in regard to his presumed fact of natural history, and the application of it. There is no room for doubt, as to the foundation of the custom. The ancient soldiers wore, during military, excursions, , the horns of such animals as had been sacrificed to the god of battles; and it was in allusion to the prevalent levity of their helpmates, during the separation, that every unfortunate husband was first said to be one who wore the horns.
Queen Elizabeth is well known to have been parsimonious in every particular. The following instance of this saving knowledge, in her majesty, is not, I believe, to be seen in any other work than the life of sir Thomas Smith, the secretary; a book published in the sixteenth century, and almost unknown at the present day. When the earl of Desmond (that potent instigator of rebellion among the Irish) was prisoner in England, A. D. 1572, the queen consented to a political reconciliation; and, in observance of the rank and immense power of the earl, and, in consideration of his promising to drive the rebels entirely out of Ireland, she informed the secretary of her graciously intending to confer some tokens of her regard on Desmond, before he left the metropolis. Sir Thomas applauded this intention, and then the queen professed her, readiness to bestow on the demi monarch a fliece of silk for his affarel, together with some of the current coin of her kingdom. “ Upon which sir Thomas’s judgment was, that, seeing the queen would tie the earl to her service with a benefit, it should be done liberally and largely, not grudgingly and meanly. Which, as he added, did so disgrace the benefit, that, instead of love, it many
times left a grudge behind, in the
heart of him that received it, which marred the whole benefit.” The queen was proud of her frugality, and therefore was not offended with the secretary’s advice.
The abovementioned sir Thomas Smith wrote a long conversational disquisition on the propriety of his royal mistress entering into that holy state, against which her love of sway adduced stronger arguments than any opposed by the well-meaning zeal of the secretary. Sir Thomas was a warm advocate for her majesty’s marrying with an Englishman; and some idea of his style, and of the manner in which it was usual to address the sovereign, may be formed from the following passage of his work: “ Then, if there be any qualities and perfection in any of our nation which her majesty can like, were it not more to be wished for her highness to make her choice there, where her own self is judge, than to build upon hearsay, and, in so weighty a matter (by marrying an alien-prince) to buy, as the common firoverb is, a flig in the floke.”
Merited and Mercantile Mobility.
One of the former kings of France used sometimes to admit a merchant to his presence, in consequence of his ability in his profession. At length the latter thought it convenient to solicit a patent of nobility, which was granted him. This new nobleman soon after presented himself at court; but his majesty did not deign to pay him the least attention. Upon his inquiring into the cause of it, he was told that the king had observed, that whilst he was a merchant, he was the first of his profession; but that, since he had been made a nobleman, he was of course the last, and no longer worthy of that preference he had formerly enjoyed.