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were intended to be messmates with dogs over their car
and seem to be appointed by Nature as fellow-scavengers; to remove all cadaverous substances from the face of the earth.*
vultures at Grand Cairo maintain such a friendly intercourse, as to bring up their young together in the same place.
* See some very interesting observations on the natural history and origin of our domestic race of dogs, in the fifth number of the Journal of Agriculture, by Mr. J. Wilson. The origin of all our domestic breeds is there traced to the wolf and jacka! ; allowing, of course, the native dogs of Africa and America, with the New Holland Dingo, to be distinct species.-W. J.
The Chinese word for a dog, to a European ear, sounds like quihloh.
While on the subject of dogs I may mention, notwithstanding Sir W. Jardine's note at the end of this letter, that the dog is of a breed distinct from either the fox, the wolf, or the jackal, and has also propensities distinct from the wild-dog, which is just as much a native of the wilderness as the lion or tiger. Sir John Sebright's offspring of a wild-dog caught in Australia, and which was born on board a ship, never could be tamed, and never showed the least affection for any particular person, although Sir John kept it constantly in his room for nearly a year. While the dog, on the contrary, shows the utmost affection for his master; he guards property with the strictest vigilance, his courage is unbounded—a courage wbich neither the wolf, the fox, or the wilddog possesses—he never forgets a kindness, but soon loses recollection of an injury; his habits are social, and his fidelity not to be shaken-hunger cannot weaken, or old age impair it-if he commits a fault, he sensible of it, and shows pleasure when commended. These qualities are distinct from those of the animals mentioned. In fact the dog appears to have been a precious gift to man by a benevolent Creator, to become his friend, companion, and protector. While all other animals have the fear and dread of man implanted in them (see Genesis, ix. 2.) the poor dog alone looks at his master with affection, and the tie once formed is never broken. Again,—the wolf has oblique eyes, while the eyes of dogs have never been observed to be in that position. If the dog descended from the wolf, a constant tendency would have been observed in the former to revert to the original type or species. This is a law in all other cross breeds ; but amidst the variety of dogs, this tendency has not existed. We have besides no proof that the breed between the dog, the wolf, the fox, and jackall, is continuous. The domestic dog, besides, has its peculiar bark, perfectly distinct from the three latter animals. In the most ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics, also, we find representations of dogs with all the characteristic appearance and gallant bearing of our English fox-hounds. Other facts might be brought forward, but perhaps enough has been said to show that the domestic dog may be considered as a distinct breed, although some may suppose that its origin is lost in antiquity.--Ed.
TO THE SAME.
THE fossil wood * buried in the bogs of Wolmer Forest, is not yet all exhausted; for the peat-cutters now and then stumble upon a log. I have just seen a piece which was sent by a labourer of Oakhanger to a carpenter of this village. This was the butt-end of a small oak, about five feet long, and about five inches in diameter. It had apparently been severed from the ground by an axe, was very ponderous, and as black as ebony. Upon asking the carpenter for wha
he had procured it, he told me that it was to be sent to his brother, a joiner at Farnham, who was to make use of it in cabinet work, by inlaying it along with whiter woods.
Those that are much abroad on evenings after it is dark, in spring and summer, frequently hear a nocturnal bird passing by on the wing, and repeating often a short quick note. This bird I have remarked myself, but never could make it out till lately. I am assured now that it is the stone-curlew (charadrius oedicnemus.) Some of them pass over or near my house almost every evening after it is dark, from the uplands of the hill and Northfield, away down towards Dorton; where, among the streams and meadows, they find a greater plenty of food. Birds that fly by night are obliged to be noisy; their notes, often repeated, become signals or watch-words to keep them together, that they may not stray or lose each other in the dark.
The evening proceedings and maneuvres of the rooks are curious and amusing in the autumn.† Just before dusk, they
* I have a snuff-box in my possession which once belonged to Sir Walter Scott, with the following inscription on it:-“Made from oak found near Gordon Castle, twenty feet below the surface of the ground.” It is approaching the appearance of agate.—Ed.
+ It is always pleasing to read Mr. White's notices of the habits of animals, which are at the same time equally accurate and instructive, and those of the
return in long strings from the foraging of the day, and rendezvous by thousands over Selborne-down, where they wheel round in the air, and sport and dive in a playful manner, all the while exerting their voices, and making a loud cawing, which, being blended and softened by the distance that we at the village are below them, become a confused noise or chiding, or rather a pleasing murmur, very engaging to the imagination, and not unlike the cry of a pack of hounds in hollow echoing woods, or the rushing of the wind in tall trees, or the tumbling of the tide upon a pebbly shore. When this ceremony
is over, with the last gleam of day, they retire for the night to the deep beechen woods of Tisted and Ropley. We remember a little girl, who, as she was going to bed, used to remark on such an occurrence, in the true spirit of physico-theology, that the rooks were saying their prayers ; and yet this child was much too young to be aware that the Scriptures have said of the Deity, that he feedeth the ravens who call
TO THE SAME.
In reading Dr. Huxham’s Observationes de Aëre, written at Plymouth, I find, by those curious and accurate remarks, which contain an account of the weather from the year 1727 to the year 1748, inclusive, that though there is frequent rain in that district of Devonshire, yet the quantity falling is not great; and that some years it has been very small; for in 1731, the rain measured only 17.266 inches, and in 1741,
rooks, more especially, have not escaped the notice of poets both ancient and modern :
“ The sable tenants of five hundred years,
That on the high tops of yon ancient elms,
Pour their hoarse music on the lonely ear.”—J. H. JESSE. Virgil also, like Mr. White, noticed the noise rooks make on returning in the evening from feeding :
“ Et è pastu decedens agmine magno
Corvorum increpuit densis exercitus alis."
20-354; and again, in 1743, only 20.908. Places near the sea have frequent scuds, that keep the atmosphere moist, yet do not reach far up into the country: making thus the maritime situations appear wet, when the rain is not considerable. In the wettest years at Plymouth, the doctor measured only once 36; and again once, viz. in 1734, 37114; a quantity of rain that has twice been exceeded at Selborne in the short period of my observations. Dr. Huxham remarks, that frequent small rains keep the air moist; while heavy ones render it more dry, by beating down the vapours. He is also of opinion, that the dingy smoky appearance in the sky, in very dry seasons, arises from the want of moisture sufficient to let the light through, and render the atmosphere transparent; because he had observed several bodies more diaphanous when wet than dry; and did never recollect that the air had that look in rainy seasons.
My friend, who lives just beyond the top of the down, brought his three swivel guns to try them in my outlet, with their muzzles towards the Hanger, supposing that the report would have had a great effect; but the experiment did not answer his expectation. He then removed them to the alcove on the Hanger, when the sound, rushing along the Lythe and Comb-wood, was very grand; but it was at the Hermitage that the echoes and repercussions delighted the hearers; not only filling the Lythe with the roar, as if all the beeches were tearing up by the roots, but, turning to the left, they pervaded the vale above Comb-wood ponds; and, after a pause, seemed to take up the crash again, and to extend round Harteley Hangers, and to die away at last among the coppices and coverts of Ward-le-ham. It has been remarked before, that this district is an Anathoth, a place of responses, or echoes, and, therefore, proper for such experiments. We may further add, that the pauses in echoes, when they cease, and yet are taken up again, like the pauses in music, surprise the hearers, and have a fine effect on the imagination.
The gentleman above mentioned has just fixed a barometer in his parlour at Newton Valence. The tube was first filled here (at Selborne), twice with care, when the mercury agreed, and stood exactly with my own; but being filled again twice at Newton, the mercury stood, on account of the great elevation of that house, three-tenths of an inch lower than the
barometers at this village, and so continues to do, be the weight of the atmosphere what it may. The plate of the barometer at Newton is figured as low as 27; because, in stormy weather, the mercury there will sometimes descend below 28. We have supposed Newton House to stand two hundred feet higher than this house; but if the rule holds good, which
in a barometer sinks one-tenth of an inch for every hundred feet elevation, then the Newton barometer, by standing three-tenths lower than that of Sel. borne, proves that Newton House must be three hundred feet higher than that in which I am writing, instead of two hundred.
It may not be impertinent to add, that the barometers at Selborne stand three-tenths of an inch lower than the barometers at South Lambeth; whence we may conclude, that the former place is about three hundred feet higher than the latter; and with good reason, because the streams that rise with us run into the Thames at Weybridge, and so to London. Of course, therefore, there must be lower ground all the way from Selborne to South Lambeth; the distance between which, all the windings and indentings of the streams considered, cannot be less than a hundred miles.
TO THE SAME.
SINCE the weather of a district is undoubtedly part of its natural history, I shall make no farther apology for the four following letters, which will contain many particulars concerning some of the great frosts, and a few respecting some very hot summers, that have distinguished themselves from the rest during the course of my
observations. As the frost in January, 1768, was, for the small time it lasted, the most severe that we had then known for many years, and was remarkably injurious to evergreens, some account of its rigour, and reason of its ravages, may be useful,