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days after a concert is over. What I mean, the following passage will most readily explain
“Præhabebat porrò vocibus humanis, instrumentisque harmonicis, musicam illam avium : non quod aliâ quoque non delectaretur; sed quod ex musicâ humanâ relinqueretur in animo continens quædam, attentionemque et somnum conturbans agitatio : dum ascensus, exscensus, tenores, ac mutationes illæ sonorum et consonantiarum, euntque, redeuntque per phantasiam :-cum nihil tale relinqui possit ex modulationibus avium, quæ, quod non sunt perinde a nobis imitabiles, non possunt perinde internam facultatem commovere.". GASSENDUS, in Vitá Peireskii.—“He preferred, also, the music of birds to vocal and instrumental harmony; not that he did not take pleasure in any other, but because there was left in the mind some constant agitation, disturbing the sleep and the attention, whilst the several variations of sound and concord go and return through the imagination, when no such effect can be produced by the modulation of birds, because, as they are not equally imitable by us, they cannot equally excite the internal faculty.”
This curious quotation strikes me much by so well representing my own case, and by describing what I have so often felt, but never could so well express. When I hear fine music, I am haunted with passages therefrom night and day; and especially at first waking, which, by their importunity, give more uneasiness than pleasure : elegant lessons still teaze my imagination, and recur irresistibly to my recollection at seasons, and even when I am desirous of thinking of more serious matters.
TO THE SAME.
A RARE, and I think a new, little bird* frequents my garden, which, I have great reason to think, is the pettichaps: it is common in some parts of the kingdom; and I have received formerly several dead specimens from Gibraltar. This bird much resembles the white-throat, but has a more white, or rather silvery, breast and belly ; is restless and active like the willow-wrens, and hops from bough to bough, examining every part for food : it also runs up the stems of the crown imperials, and putting its head into the bells of those flowers, sips the liquor which stands in the nectarium of each petal. Sometimes it feeds on the ground like the hedge-sparrow, by hopping about on the grass-plots and mown walks.
One of my neighbours, an intelligent and observing man, informs me, that in the beginning of May, and about ten minutes before eight o'clock in the evening, he discovered a great cluster of house-swallows, thirty, at least, he supposes, perching on a willow that hung over the verge of James Knight's upper pond. His attention was first drawn by the twittering of these birds, which sat motionless in a row on the bough, with their heads all one way, and, by their weight pressing down the twig, so that it nearly touched the
* Mr. Herbert says that this kind of bird certainly was not the pettichaps, which has not the manners Mr. White describes. The detail exactly answers to the blue-grey, or lesser white-throat (sylvia silviella).
+ Spallanzani says, very decidedly, that swallows retire under water at the time of their disappearance from this country; but acknowledges that he had never himself observed it, though his belief of the fact seemed certain. He had performed a variety of experiments to resolve the question, if cold would have the effect of producing torpidity, and confined swallows in different ways under snow and ice, and in an ice-house. The result, however, was always death, when the temperature and period of immersion were prolonged beyond a certain period; and the conclusion he draws is, that, at least, our species of hirundinide do not become torpid.—W. J.
water. In this situation he watched them till he could see no longer. Repeated accounts of this sort, spring and fall, induce us greatly to suspect, that house-swallows have some strong attachment to water, independent of the matter of food ; and, though they may not retire into that element, yet they may conceal themselves in the banks of pools and rivers during the uncomfortable months of winter.
One of the keepers of Wolmer Forest sent me a peregrine falcon, which he shot on the verge of that district, as it was devouring a wood-pigeon. The falco peregrinus, or haggard falcon, is a noble species of hawk, seldom seen in the southern counties. In winter 1767, one was killed in the neighbouring parish of Faringdon, and sent by me to Mr. Pennant into North Wales.* Since that time, I have met with none till now. The specimen mentioned above was in preservation, and not injured by the shot: it measured fortytwo inches from wing to wing, and twenty-one from beak to tail, and weighed two pounds and a half standing weight. This species is very robust, and wonderfully formed for rapine : its breast was plump and muscular; its thighs long, thick and brawny; and its Iegs remarkably short and wellset: the feet were armed with most formidable, sharp, long talons : the eyelids and cere of the bill were yellow; but the irides of the eyes dusky: the beak was thick and hooked, and of a dark colour, and had a jagged process near the end of the upper mandible on each side : its tail, or train, was short in proportion to the bulk of its body ; yet the wings, when closed, did not extend to the end of the train. From its large and fair proportions, it might be supposed to have been a female ; but I was not permitted to cut open the specimen. For one of the birds of
which are usually lean, this was in high case : in its craw were many barleycorns, which probably came from the crop of the woodpigeon, on which it was feeding when shot: for voracious birds do not eat grain ; but, when devouring their quarry,
with undistinguishing vehemence, swallow bones and feathers, and all matters, indiscriminately.t This falcon was probably
* See Letters x. and xi. to Thomas Pennant, Esq. + The bones and feathers are swallowed naturally, and assist to promote the digestion. The Abbe Spallauzani, in his experiments on various birds and
driven from the mountains of North Wales or Scotland, where they are known to breed, by rigorous weather and deep snows that had lately fallen.
TO THE SAME.
My near neighbour, a young gentleman in the service of the East India Company, has brought home a dog and a bitch of the Chinese breed from Canton; such as are fattened in that country for the
purpose of being eaten. They are about the size of a moderate spaniel; of a pale yellow colour, with coarse bristling hair on their backs; sharp upright ears, and peaked heads, which give them a very fox-like appearance. Their hind legs are unusually straight, without any bend at the hock, or ham; to such a degree as to give them an awkward gait when they trot. When they are in motion, their tails are curved high over their backs like those of some hounds, and have a bare place each on the outside from the tip midway, that does not seem to be matter of accident, but somewhat singular. Their eyes are jet-black, small, and piercing; the insides of their lips and mouths of the same colour, and their tongues blue. The bitch has a dew-claw on each hind leg; the dog has none. When taken out into a field, the bitch showed some disposition for hunting, and dwelt on the scent of a covey of partridges till she sprung them, giving her tongue all the time. The dogs in South America are dumb; but these bark much in a short thick manner, like foxes, and have a surly, savage demeanour, like their ancestors, which are not domesticated, but bred up
in sties, where they are fed for the table with rice-meal and other farinaceous food. These dogs, having been taken on
animals, by changing gradually their food, at last brought some of the falcons to live on a vegetable diet; and, as a reverse, fed a pigeon upon animal substances-proving that, by degrees, the natural food of an animal may be changed, for a time at least, without harm.-W.J.
board as soon as weaned, could not learn much from their dam; yet they did not relish flesh when they came to England. In the islands of the Pacific Ocean, the dogs are bred up on vegetables, and would not eat flesh when offered them by our circumnavigators.
We believe that all dogs, in a state of nature, bave sharp, upright, fox-like ears; and that hanging ears, which are esteemed so graceful, are the effect of choice breeding and cultivation. Thus, in the Travels of Ysbrandt Ides from Muscovy to China, the dogs which draw the Tartars on snowsledges near the river Oby, are engraved with prick-ears, like those from Canton. The Kamschatdales also train the same sort of sharp-eared, peak-nosed dogs to draw their sledges; as may be seen in an elegant print engraved for Captain Cook's
voyage round the world. Now we are upon the subject of dogs, it may not be impertinent to add, that spaniels, as all sportsmen know, though they hunt partridges and pheasants as it were by instinct, and with much delight and alacrity, yet will hardly touch their bones when offered as food; nor will a mongrel dog of my own, though he is remarkable for finding that sort of game. But when we came to offer the bones of partridges to the two Chinese dogs, they devoured them with much greediness, and licked the platter clean.
No sporting dogs will flush woodcocks till inured to the scent, and trained to the sport, which they then pursue with vehemence and transport; but then they will not touch their bones, but turn from them with abhorrence, even when they are hungry.
Now, that dogs should not be fond of the bones of such birds as they are not disposed to hunt, is no wonder ; but why they reject and do not care to eat their natural game, is not so easily accounted for, since the end of hunting seems to be, that the chase pursued should be eaten. Dogs, again, will not devour the more rancid water-fowls; nor indeed the bones of any wild-fowls ; nor will they touch the fetid bodies of birds that feed on offal and garbage; and indeed there may be somewhat of providential instinct in this circumstance of dislike; for vultures, * and kites, and ravens, and crows, &c.,
* Hasselquist, in his Travels to the Levant, observes, that the dogs and