Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

fisheries, and is too glaring an imposition to pass long without amendo ment. The custom-house fees in Scotland are become a nuisance to the adventurers, and so heavy as to absorb the greatett part of the bounty, especially on small vessels. This also calls aloud for redress. In page 179 we are told that

A man of respectability, named Mac Bride, and now in London, declares, that he saw 18 barrels of fresh herrings given for one barrel of falt to the matter of a smack, and three barrels for one filling sterling

• The owners judging this trife better than to allow them to rot without falt, as has been the case before. An intelligent minister in SKYE told the author, that he had seen heaps upon heaps rotting on the fore, and, until cartied off to dung the ground, no man durst pass by on the leeward of them for the rotten offensive effluvia emitted from the filh.' When we reflect on the

loss and disgrace which this nation muft ftill fuffer, while the Dutch continue to draw perhaps millions annually from our very shores ; while a part of the nation live in the lowest state of wretchedness for want of the means of employment, and in situations the moft favourable for fishing; and this, while we are giving bounties to encourage a fithery at many thousand miles distance; we ourselves, as well as the author, find it difficult to write coolly on the fubject.

The immense quantities of fish which frequent the coasts of the Hebrides exceed all conception :

« From the vast multitude of fowls about St. Kilda, we are sure that the filh must be very plenty there. Let us for a moment, says che Rev. Kenneth Mac Aulay, minister, who acted as missionary there, confine our attention to the consumption made by one single species of the numberless fowls that feed on the herring:

• The folan goose is almost insatiably voracious; he flies with great force and velocity ; toils all day with very little intermission, and digests his food in a very short time ; he disdairs to eat any thing worse than herrings or mackarel, anless it be in a very hungry place, which he takes care to avoid or abandon. We hall take it for granted that there are an hundred thousand of that kind round the rocks of St. Kilda, and this calculation is by far too moderate, as no less than twenty thousand of them are killed yearly, including the young ones. We shall suppose that the folan goose sojourns in these seas for about seven months of the year, and that each of them destroys five herrings in a day, a subsistence by no means adequate to so greedy a creature, unless it were more than half supported of other fishes. Here we have one hundred thousand millions of the finest fishes in the world devoured annually by one single species of the St. Kilda birds.'

• On the west side of the long ile the very whales might be harpooned with ease and safety, instead of going to Greenland,' (or, the author might have added, to the South Seas !) in quest of them, ac much heavier expences, and greater danger, annually. 5

. The

[ocr errors]

The most critical time for harpooning them is, when they are seen devouring the herring by great mouthfuls, and each gap they make is constantly filled with fresh supplies, wihing to Ay beyond danger. but cannot for the thick bank before them, as they stand pent up in lochs, by the heavy storm. And the Arongest whale dares not pierce through them; seeing he could not move his fins for the immense throng, much less rise to the surface to breathe; therefore the moniter is seen behind the herring, like a horse eating at the face of a hay. rick. — Even with a hatchet and sword, Mr. Campbell of Scalpay killed a large one, who had followed the fhoal of herrings too far into a narrow creek.'

This tract abounds with strong ideas and statements of fads, which are well entitled to the attention of the Managers of the British Fishery, and might be very useful to the Minilters of our Government.

[ocr errors]

ART. XI. Museum Leverianum. Containing select Specimens from

the Museum of the late Sir Alton Lever, Knt. With Descriptions • in Latin and English by George Shaw, M.D. F.R.S. published

by James Parkinson, Proprietor of the above Collection. 400. Vol. I. containing Five Numbers, consisting of 65 coloured Plates. il. zs. each Number. Sold at the Museum, Surrey End of Black

friar's Bridge. THE HE Museum of the late Sir Ashton Lever may juftly be

considered as reflecting peculiar honour on the country s and the care which has been taken in the preservation of so vaft an assortment of the products of nature, with the continued additions which are making to it, must be allowed to place in a very honourable point of view the exertions of the present proprietor.

It bad long since been suggested, by zealous admirers of natural history, that a collection so distinguished should be made more generally useful by having its most curious and interesting subjects scientifically described; and indeed, when we consider the parade with which the contents of some foreign museums, of far inferior consequence, have been displayed to the public, we cannot but be surprized that such a work as the present should have been so long delayed. At length, however, the pleasing task has been undertaken; and with much attention, and at a great expence, it has been delivered to the public in the form of leparate numbers.

The subjets consist in general of the rarest and most elegant fpecimens in the collection. Several of them have never before been either figured or described, and were of course entitled to more particular attention.

Dr. Shaw has, throughout, given the descriptions in Latin, and English ; and the professed intent seems to be to combine

amusement

amusement with instruction. In consequence, while the generic and specific characters, which are conducted with much accuracy, are of themselves fufficient for the mere fyftematic naturalist, the general or popular descriptions afford the more pleating account of the various particulars relative to the history and manners of each animal.

We may take, as an example, the MOCKING THRUSH which is thus described *:

« GenerIC CHARACTER. • Bill fout, obtusely carinated at top, bending a little at the point, and Nightly notched near the end of the upper mandible.

• Nostrils oval and naked,
• Tongue slightly jagged at the end,
• Middle toe connected to the outer as far as the first joint.

« SPECIFIC CHARACTER, &c.
• Thrush of a lead-coloured brown above, whiuish beneath.
• Mocking Bird.

Raii. Synops. p. 64. No. 5. p. 185. No. 31,
Sloan. Jam. Q. 306. No. 34.

Catesb. Car. 1. pl. 27. The nightingale, fo uniformly admired as the pride of the European woods, and so celebrated from the earliest ages for its supereminent musical powers, continued to bear the palm of melody from the rest of the feathered tribe till the discovery of the western hemif. phere. At that period the knowlege of the animal world was increased in all its branches by a vast variety of new and interesting species ; many of which exceed in singularity of form all that the old Continent had displayed. The opossums, so remarkable for the extraordinary manner in which they bear their young about them, long after the period of exclusion, were then first discovered : the pipa, or toad of Su rinam, which in a manner directly opposite, bears its young in numerous cells on its back, was another object of wonder to the naturalif's of Europe : while among birds, the prodigious size of the condor, which seizes and carries off theep, and even attacks and destroys the larger cattle, opposed to the diminutive race of humming birds, fome of which are far less than several insects, and adorned with colours which no art can express, called forth all that adıniration which philofophic inquirers mult ever feel at new and curious discoveries in the history of nature.

• Among birds possessed of musical powers, a species of thrush was found to exist, to whose voice even the warblings of the nightingale were judged inferior. It is remarkable that many of the highly gay and brilliant hirds of America are destitute of that pleasing power of fong which gives so peculiar a charm to the groves and fields of Europe ; and an elegant poet has beautifully expreffed the supposed superiority of our own island in this respect :

* We give the English only, for the sake of comprising the article within as narrow a compass as possible ; referring to the volume for the Latin part of the description,

* Nor

" Nor envy we the gaudy robes they lent
Proud Montezuma's realm, whose legions cast
A boundless radiance waving on the Sun,
While Philomel is ours; while in our shades
Thro' the soft filence of the listening night

The sober-fuiced songstress trills her lay.” • The music however of the nightingale has always been considered as plaintive or melancholy, and such as conveys ideas of distress.

Flett noctem, rameque sedenj, miferabile carmen
Integrat, et maftis late loca queftibus implet.
• Darkling the wails in fadly-pleasing itrains,

And melancholy music fills the plains. • But the notes of the bird now to be described are of a livelier na. ture, a bolder strain, and of a more varied richness and force of tone. It fings both by day and night, and generally seats itself on the top of some small tree, where it exerts a voice so powerfully strong, and So sweetly melodious, as to charm even to rapture those who litten to its lays. "If we may rely on the attestations of those who have resided' on the western continent, all the thrilling fweetness, and varied modelations of the nightingale, muit yield to the transcendent music of the songster of America.

• Exclusive of its own enchanting note, it possesses the power of imitating those of mott other birds; nay it even carries this propensity fo far as to imitate the voices of various other animals, as well as dife ferent kinds of domestic sounds,

• This wonderful bird is as undiftinguishable by any peculiar gaiety of appearance as the European nightingale. Its general colour is a pale cinereous brown; the wings and tail deeper, or inclined to blackish; the under part of the body is nearly white, and the two exterior feathers of the tail are of the same colour, with dark margins ; the bill and legs are black; the covert feathers of the wings are nightly tipped with white, and some of the Ahorter or fecondary wingfeathers are white also, forming a mark of that colour on the wing.

• It is nearly the fize of the common or fong-thrush, but of a more delicate Shape. Of this bird there is a smaller variety, which has a white line over each eye; this, by some authors, (and amongst others by Lioné,) is made a distinct species. Mr. Pennant, however, kas regarded it merely in the light of a variety. It has also been seen with a spotted breaft, which probably is the state in which it appears before it has attained its full plumage.

"This bird is an inhabitant of all the warmer parts of America, and is found as far North as the United British States. It chiefly free quents moift woods, and feeds principally on the different kinds of berries.'

Another description shall be taken from that of the Trochilus Ornatus, or RUFF-NECKED HUMMING-BIRD.

GENERIC CHARACTER. • Bill fender and weak, in some strait, in others incurvated. « Noftrils minute.

Tongue very long, formed of two conjoined cylindric tubes, miffile. REV, JAN, 1795

&

• Toes, · Toes, three forward, one backward. • Tail confilling of ten feathers.

Pennant. « Specific CHARACTER, &c. · Strait-billed, brown, humming bird, with 'ferruginecus creft, gold-green throat, and elongated neck-feathers on each side. į Tufted necked humming bird.

Lath. Synops. Po « L'oiseau mouche dit Ic Hupecol de Cayenne.

Pl. Enl. 640. f. 3. · The brilliant and lively race of humming birds, fo remarkable at once for their beautiful colours and diminutive fize, are the peculiar natives of the American continent, and, with very few exceptions, are principally found in the hottest parts of America. Their vivacity, swiftness, and fingular appearance unite in rendering them the admiration of mankind; while their colours are so radiant, that it is not by comparing them with the analagous hues of other birds that we are enabled to explain with propriety their peculiar appearance, but by the more exalted brilliancy of polithed metals, and precious stones: the ruby, the garnet, the fapphire, the erneraid, the top.:Z, and polished gold, being considered as the moft proper objects of eluci. dation.

• It is not however to be imagined that all the species of humming. birds are thus decorated; some are even obscure in their colours, and instead of the prevailing splendor of the major part of the genus, exhibit only a faint appearance of a golden-green tinge, slightly diffused over the brown or purplif colour of the back and wings. The genus is of a very great extent, and in order that the species may with greater readiness be distinguished, it has been found necessary to divide them into two sections, viz. the curve billed and the straisbilled. It is under the latter of these divitions that we must rank the species herc represented, which is one of the rareit of the whole tribe, and is a native of Cayenne,

" In fize it is nearly equal to the trochilus colubris, or commen red-throated humming-bird, so often sien in the United British States, but its colours are far different. The upper parts of the body are green-gold; the under parts, except the thrcat, are brownish, gra. dually becoming white on the lower part of the abdomen : the head is ornamented with a large upright, and somewhat compressed creft, of a delicate silky appearance, and of the richelt ferruginous or red. dish colour. The long wing feathers and tail are of a coppery brown; the rump white. On each side the neck are situated several long feathers standing out in the manner of a ruff, which give a most fin. gularly beautiful aspect to this species; these feathers are of a reddish brown each terminated by a golden-green expanded tip, and the bird is faid to have the power of raising or depresling them at pleafure. The throat-is golden green, which in particular lights, changes into brown : the bill and egs are blackish.?.

The above fpecimens may be fufficient to enable our readers to form a general idea of the work; and we fall only farther

observe

« ZurückWeiter »