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For even as lately as the time of Aristotle, they not only infested Thrace and Macedon, but Thessaly. And it could have been no easy service to eradicate them from the recesses of Pindus, Othrys, Ossa, and Olympus ! Lions were not uncommon in Palestine, in the time of Samson, Joshua, and David: and Godfrey of Boulogne? destroyed one near Antioch. The lions of Asia, where the population is great, are less ferocious, and more obsequious to men, than in the interior of Africa, where the population is small. The presence of man alters the characters, and awes the propensities of animals. Sylla exhibited a hundred lions; Cesar four hundred; and Pompey no less than from five hundred and fifty to six hundred. Neither is the hippopotamus so numerous as in ancient times. The egrel was formerly common in Britain ; it is now supposed to be confined to Asia, and some parts of South America. The lanner, a species of falcon, is now so scarce, that a naturalist must almost voyage to Sweden, Iceland, or Tartary, before he can procure a living specimen for description. The condor, once known in Lapland, Russia, Germany, and Switzerland, is now known only in Peru, Mexico, Brazil, and
Euripides describes lions in Cithæron,
We from the mountains bring a new-slain prize,
some of the South Sea Islands ; in Madagascar and in Senegal. The bustard is common in Chili; but it will, at no very distant period, be entirely unknown in Europe. Its numbers are decreasing every year.
III. · Beasts of prey hide themselves in forests; serpents in deserts. These animals had once a far more extensive range, than at present. Nor does the strength of lions, panthers, or eagles, avail them much: for they have little or no courage; and will never attack superior force, unless impelled by irritation or want. In the early historical eras of Nineveh and Babylon, beasts were so nuinerous, that to hunt them with success was to acquire the most valuable species of distinction. Nimrod founded his authority on this species of warfare.
Amyclæ in Laconia was, at one time, so much infested with serpents, that the inhabitants were compelled to abandon not only their houses, but their lands. The Island of Ophiusa (Fermentera) derived its name from the number of its serpents. It is only forty or fifty miles from Majorca, and yet is still uninhabited.
Wholly unmolested, -serpents grew to a prodigious size, and once existed in vast numbers : but the march of civilization has abridged their food, their numbers, and their growth. Even the Molucca serpent was not unknown in the higher parts of Asia. Pliny mentions one, that was three-and-thirty feet in length; and another, that had the capacity of swallowing an entire stag: while the allegory of the Python and Apollo seems to favour the supposition, that it was at one time not unknown even in Greece.
A man may encounter a lion with success : but numbers are required to subdue serpents of such vast dimensions. For, before a serpent all the faculties of the human soul are suspended :-even the most ferocious of quadrupeds bend before them in an agony of horror.
IV. In some ancient countries', it was capital to kill an ox for food; it being esteemed so useful an animal: while in modern Hindostan, to exact labour from a bullock when it is hungry, thirsty, or fatigued; or to oblige it to labour, out of season, is to incur a fine of two hundred and fifty? puns of cowries.
Previous to the Norman conquest, every freeholder had a right to hunt and destroy wild animals, except in royal forests. This right was acknowledged, also, in Scandinavia *. By an edict of William the First, however, all bucks, does, hares, rabbits, martins, foxes, partridges, rails, and quails, became the property of the sovereign: also mallards, herons, pheasants, woodcocks, and swans. The right of killing these animals was, however, fre
· Elian. Var. Hist. lib. xii. c. 34.
3 Leges Edw. Confess. c. 36.
4 Stiernhook de Jure Sueon. lib. ii. c. 8. In a sporting party of the Emperor Francis the First, in 1755, there were killed in the space of eighteen days, ten foxes, nineteen stags, seventy-seven roebucks, and 18,243 hares :—114 larks ; 353 quails; 9,499 pheasants ; and 19,545 partridges *. There were twenty-three persons of the party; three of whom were ladies; and the number of shots fired were 116,209. Of which the emperor fired 9,798 ; and the Princess Charlotte of Lorrain 9,010.
quently delegated to others, who had chases, parks, and free warrens. The exclusive right of fishing in public rivers, too, once belonged to all those monarchs in Europe, whose authority was founded on the feudal system.
The right of fishing in England was first granted in the reign of King John; and it was still further extended in those of Henry the Third, and Richard the First. The laws, respecting animals, have been modified from time to time; but they are still in many points exceedingly oppressive, and a never-failing source of altercation and disquiet. That a possessor of land should have no property in the animal, he feeds, is surely an anomaly in the science of legislation ! In England, where game is preserved with so much care, expense, litigation, and angry feeling, privileged birds are comparatively scarce; whereas in Bohemia, where the peasantry are less restricted, they are Very abundant.
V. Whether the elephant was ever known in America was, for some time, a subject for reasonable doubt: the fossil bones, dug up in Peru and the Brazils, being in too imperfect a state of preservation for the comparative anatomist decidedly to identify them with the bones of the elephant of Africa and Asia. But whatever may be the fact, certain it is, that since Europe has succeeded in planting America with exotic seeds, and in peopling it with exotic animals, it would be one of the best returns, that Spain and Portugal could make for past frauds, pillages, and murders, were they to introduce the elephant and the camel into such points of soil and latitude, as to ensure the ultimate naturalization of animals, still more useful in tropical countries, than even the lama or the pacos.
Seals are becoming scarce in New Holland; whales are decreasing in Greenland; and sea elephants, once so numerous near Juan Fernandez, are decreasing every year.
There is a peculiar species of perch, too, once generally known, but now scarcely ever seen, except near Fahlun in Sweclen, and in the Lake of Raithlyn in Merioneth.
In the time of Polybius', there were no wild animals in Corsica. In that island the cattle, which grazed in the woods, quitted them at the call of the shepherd; and even swine were trained to such obedience, that they would separate from any drove, which they chanced to mingle with, at the sound of a horn. In the Isle of Cyprus?, deer, wild boars, roebucks, and a beautiful species of pheasant, were once extremely abundant. They are now nowhere to be seen in that island. The white pelican formerly inhabited Russia; and the flamingo, once familiar to the shores of Europe, are now seldom seen, except in America. That black swans were formerly seen in Europe or Asia is evident from a line in Ovid, declaring their unfrequency: for had he never heard of one, he would no more have thought of mentioning a black swan, than a yellow nightingale.
The Canary Islands derived their ancient name from the multitude of their dogs: and the Spaniards* named the Azores from the number of their hawks. Both animals are now greatly diminished. Grouse are not so common