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unerring aim, and quick as lightning the captive is withdrawn. They are invaluable in a garden. Mr Jesse, in his Gleanings, complains of gardeners destroying them, of savagely cutting them in two with their spades. We hope not. Horticulturists of such crass ignorance" ought themselves to be extirpated. The beauty and vigour of our flower-borders we have long ascribed, in a large measure, to a select family of toads, which we tenderly protect, and some of which have now reached a patriarchal age. Mr Jesse mentions that Mr Knight, the eminent nurseryman, keeps a large number of toads in his stoves, for the purpose of destroying the woodlice that infest his plants, and that they do not seem at all affected by the heat, even when it reaches 130 degrees. We are surprised at this latter statement, which does not agree with our observation. We have observed that the toad in very hot weather seeks shelter under foliage, or buries himself amongst the soft mould. In the evening he emerges from his concealment, and no doubt then employs his protrusile tongue. Mr Buckland mentions a curious use of toads. They are employed as insect-traps. A brigade of marauding toads are conducted into the garden in the evening. They make a famous supper, but in the morning their entomological employer, by a gentle squeeze, compels them to disgorge their evening meal, “and in this way many curious and rare specimens of minute nocturnal insects have been obtained." "There is just now," says Mr Buckland, "a plague of ants in many of the London houses, which defy extermination. I strongly recommend those who are troubled with these plagues to try whether a toad or two won't help them." Most certainly. They clean melon-frames of these insects, and why should they not perform the same friendly office in the drawingrooms of London citizens? Nothing but ignorant prejudice can prevent the adoption of the excellent suggestion. And yet the prejudice exists, and they are a loathed species. Toads, time immemorial, have been persecuted by schoolboys, and you cannot wander through a village on a sum
mer day without seeing defunct and flattened specimens of these unoffending creatures. Innocent of literature, it would be tracing the cruelty of the urchins to too high a source to ascribe it to the "ugly and venomous" toad of Shakespeare, or the yet more odious imagery of Milton. And yet from the erroneous natural history of the two great national poets, the idea may have originated, and thus been handed down as a traditionary odium from one race of schoolboys to another. While toads are not truly venomous, and lack the specific apparatus for producing venom which really venomous reptiles are endowed with, there is an irritant secretion in the glands of their skin which is more or less injurious. When a dog really seizes a toad, this glandular fluid is squirted out, and his tongue and lips are burned as if with a strong acid.
The metamorphosis which frogs and toads undergo is complete and remarkable. In their tadpole condition, the respiration is performed by means of gills, and is aquatic. In their adult state, their gills are converted into true lungs, and can breathe atmospheric air alone. The spawn of frogs and toads is very distinguishable. The spawn of the former is found distributed throughout the whole mass of jelly, while that of the latter is seen arranged in long strings, and generally in double rows.
Mr Buckland seems very fond of the beautiful little lizard (Triton punctatus) or water-eft. He gives a lively description of a good day's sport he had in fishing for them, of their habits when confined in his crystal vivarium, and of the conjugal quarrels in which they indulged at dinner-time. The body of the little creature is spotted with olive, and tinged with a beautiful orange hue, and his back shows a finny crest tipped with violet. Mr Buckland mentions that, in the imprisonment of his crystal palace, the crest was speedily absorbed, and the brilliant colours tarnished. It is always so; captivity miserably lowers the towering crest of humanity itself. Lizards are oviparous; but, unlike those of frogs, their eggs are individually deposited,
and ingeniously glued up in the folded foliage of aquatic plants. It requires a very practised eye to distinguish the tadpole of the lizard from that of the frog, although the final metamorphosis is not so complete. The tail of the lizard tadpole does not disappear, but remains long and large in the adult lizard. As in the case of toads, there is an acrid fluid of an offensive odour, secreted in the glands of their skin, and no dog cares to hold a lizard long in its mouth. They are tenacious of life, but are easily killed by sprinkling salt over them. Mr Buckland diversifies his own observations on lizardlife by the following narrative :
"With reference to killing lizards by means of salt: I was lately told a wonder ful story by a raw Lancashire man. It appears that, once upon a time, there lived a man whose appetite was enormous; he was always eating, and yet could never get fat. He was the thinnest and most miserable of creatures to look at. He always declared that he had something alive in his stomach, and a kind friend, learned in doctoring, confirmed his opinion, and prescribed a most ingenious plan to dislodge the enemy-a water-newt, who had taken up his quarters in the man's stomach. He was ordered to eat nothing but salt food, and to drink no water; and when he had continued this treatment as long as he could bear it, he was to go and lie down
near a weir of the river, when the water was running over, with his mouth open.
The man did as he was told, and, openmouthed and expectant, placed himself by the side of the weir. The lizard inside, tormented by the salt food, and parched for want of water, heard the Bound of the running stream, and came scampering up the man's throat, and jumping out of his mouth, ran down to the water to drink. The sudden appearance of the brute so terrified the weakened patient that he fainted away, still with his mouth open. In the mean time the lizard had drunk his full, and was coming back to return down the man's throat into his stomach; he had nearly succeeded in so doing, when the patient awoke, and seizing his enemy by the tail, killed him on the spot. I consider this story," concludes Mr Buckland, "to be one of the finest strings of impossibilities ever recorded.”—(P. 35.)
Why so, Mr Buckland? We have "historic doubts." If we member rightly, Hunter, and other
high authorities, tell us that the stomach has no power at all to act on living substances. The lizard was alive. But the continuous confinement must have killed the creature. How do you know the confinement was continuous? It is clear enough that your Lancashire chawbacon slept with his mouth wide agape. At night plainly the lizard quietly crept out, exercised itself in the bedroom, slaked its thirst out of the water carafe, and on the first appearance of blushing morn, "scampered" off to its ventral dormitory. Such is our view, provoked no doubt by your cynical Pyrrhonisms, but in any event we deny your right to regale your readers with such a narration, and instantly to deride it as "strings of impossibilities." The little creature is assuredly possessed of a remarkable power, if not of preserving life in difficult situations, at least of recovering portions of its body which it may have lost. If a limb is amputated, a new limb will bud forth and supply the lost member. Nay, if an eye is obliterated, it will be reproduced. This is nearly as marvellous as what takes place in the case of the Hydra, of which, when cut in pieces, each piece becomes a complete animal. But wonderful as these facts are, they seem trivial when compared with the extraordinary Duvernæa, lately discovered by M. property of the new zoophyte Synapta Quatrefages. This creature can subsist by self-consumption. In famine it eats away at itself. By successive amputations the body is devoured, and life is limited to the citadel of its head. (See Rambles of a Naturalist, &c.)
Mr Buckland seems attentively to have observed that very singular creature, the chameleon.
"I had a couple at Oxford," he writes, "and tried several experiments, placing them on different coloured cloths; the variety of colours they can assume is not very great. They unfortunately soon died, my servant having put the box in which they were kept in a very cold place. They are very passionate
Mr Madden writes, I trained two large chameleons to fight; I could at any time, by knocking their tails against one another, insure a combat, during which their change of colour was most
conspicuous. The change is only effected by paroxysms of rage, when the dark green gall of the animal is transmitted into the blood, and is visible enough under its pellucid skin. The reason here given to account for the change of colour is not very satisfactory. It has been said elsewhere to be caused by the injection of the blood-vessels of the skin; but Mr Queckett tells us, that he has injected many chameleons, but has not found the blood-vessels of the skin by any means numerous or capable of dilatation." (P. 41.)
The change of colour to which the chameleon is liable seems dependent on excitement and health, and in a great measure on climate; but the cause of the phenomenon is obscure and by no means determined. But this singular creature is characterised by a much more remarkable peculiarity than its varied and changing colour. It seems not to be homogeneous; at least, betwixt the two sides of the body there seems a lack of sympathy. One eye may be looking straight forward, while the other is looking as directly backward. One may be entirely asleep while the other is wide awake. And this kind of independent and separate action applies to each side of the creature -to its limbs. It cannot swim because its limbs refuse to act in concert. Could the two sides understand one another, and agree on a prescribed course of action, it might always be awake, or half awake. But it gains nothing by its unilateral independency; the two sides are like two horses that won't work in har
It seems strange, with such a peculiarity, that on trees, or terra firma, the creature should be able to make any progress. But as the two sides are fed by one mouth, and as the insect tribes refuse to come to it, so they seem, in regard to all culinary matters, to agree to sink their differences, and to move in harmony. The stomach is a potent harmoniser, and thus a divided and obstinate jury are often starved into a unanimous verdict. In the chameleon, Lord Palmerston may find an argument against the double Government of India. But it would be a dangerous illustration. The member for Bucks might retort, that in the chameleon we had the perfect type of our Prime Minister-the same mutability of
hue-the one eye looking forward and aloft to Conservatism, the other averted obliquely to watch the movements of Radicalism-the glutinous tongue skilful in capturing the "insect youth" of the House-and above all, the prehensile tail, capable, in perilous circumstances, of ministering support. But avaunt Politics! Such a vulgar theme should not be allowed to profane Nature's benignant domain. Moreover, we wrong the chameleon; for, unlike our politicians, it does not change sides. We have hung long enough delighted over Mr Buckland's "horse-pond," and must tear ourselves away from it. He found almost every kind of creature in it but a horse; and why he should have called it a horse-pond seems inexplicable, unless from the author's connection with the Horse Guards.
Mr Buckland's second disquisition is on "Rats." He is great on rats. Rats are clearly his forte-a frog even has no charms for him if a rat of recherché variety presented itself.
There is an overflowing opulence of information in Mr Buckland's tractate on rats, and it is written manifestly con amore. It is a perfect Thesaurus of rat-literature, containing copious and curious details regarding the early history of the family-regarding the fatal invasion of the island by the Norwegian brown rat, under whose tyrannical sway the aboriginal black rat has well-nigh disappeared; regarding the public and private life, the habits social and domestic, the intellect, morals, and educational capabilities of rats; and the natural history is pleasantly interspersed with rat adventures. The old English race of black rats seems on the eve of extinction. The author of "London Labour and London Poor" was informed by a man who had wrought twelve years in the sewers before flushing was general, that he had never seen but two black rats. One of Mr Buckland's informants, who had charge of a Bermondsey granary, speaks more hopefully. In his favoured locality he saw black as well as brown rats, "great black fellows," said he, "as would frighten a lady into asterisks to see of a sudden."
"My friend Mr Coulson of Clifton, Bristol," writes Mr. Buckland, "most
kindly sent me up five beautiful black rats from Bristol. They were in a large iron cage, and when excited, moved about the cage more like birds than rats. I never yet saw other creatures with four legs so active as they; their tails are remarkably long, and they use them as levers to spring by when about to jump. Opening the cage to examine them, one escaped, running under my hand. It took myself, three other persons, and two dogs, three quarters of an hour hunting in my room to catch him again, so active was the little brute. We were obliged finally to kill him to get at him at all;-one of my friends very appropriately called him 'black lightning."(P. 61.)
There is a popular prejudice widely prevalent that rats are vermin; and all who are labouring under that delusion will read Mr Buckland's essay with a kind of bewildered surprise. The fact is, our author contemplates the race from a different stand-point from that of the vulgar, and writes of them quite affectionately. He seems to have kept his apartments at Oxford swarming with them. He sat surrounded with black, brown, white, and piebald rats. "One of the latter," says Mr Buckland, in a tone of quiet triumph, "is now sitting on the writer's table, washing and cleaning himself with his little white paws.' Seldom has any author been privileged to write so directly under the presiding influence of his subject. What with rats, and frogs, and tadpoles, and lizards, and many-coloured chameleons, rarely-furnished rooms Mr Buckland's must have been; and 80 encompassed with his living themes, one need not wonder that he writes enthusiastically.
In prosecuting his investigation, Mr Buckland necessarily had somewhat to cultivate the acquaintance of ratcatchers, and the exhibitors of "happy families." We know from observation, that in the study of natural history, a snobbish hauteur may prove an insuperable bar to progress. Ratcatchers have a natural history as well as rats. Perhaps the most remarkable peculiarity by which they are distinguished, is the very elevated and sublime view which they have of the dignity and responsibility of their calling. Mr Shaw, the eminent ratcatcher, in his little book, as quoted by Mr Buckland, writes: "My little dog
Tiny, under six pounds weight, has destroyed 2524 rats, which, had they been permitted to live, would, at the end of three years, have produced 1,633,190,200 living rats!"
The stupid public don't think of these things, and continue blindly ungrateful to their greatest benefactors. Very many years ago a dashing rat-catcher cultivated the northern part of this island. He rode a highbred horse, and spoke high English. On a fine summer day he rode up to Cultoquhey, in Perthshire, and offered the laird the benefit of his services, who declined them, remarking, at the same time, that he believed there were no rats about the place.
No rats about the place!" responded the gentleman on horseback, “I know that your place is overflowing with rats, and if their machinations are not arrested, they will undermine the whole navigation!" Having thus delivered himself, he wheeled about majestically, and cantered off, pitying the lamentable ignorance of the squire.
Mr Buckland's third essay is headed "The Cobra di Capello," in which he expatiates on the serpent brood, innocuous as well as venomous, in his usual pleasant and discursive style. He describes well the beautiful structure of the snake's vertebræ, and numerous ribs, which it uses in some measure as feet, and by the successive advancement of which it moves forward.
The mouth of the snake is capable of immense expansion, arising from a singular peculiarity in the mode in which the bones of the skull are attached. The lower jaw, which is unusually extended, is not hinged to the upper, but fastened to it by elastic ligaments. The whole structure, throat, and stomach, admit of great dilatation; and hence their extraordinary powers of deglutition and their ability to swallow such large victims. Mr Buckland, in his enthusiasm, must cultivate a personal acquaintance with snakes. He experimented on the poison of the cobra, and made a narrow escape of being himself poisoned. He had subjected a poor rat to the poison-fang of the snake, and in examining the dead animal, some of the diluted virus, after circulating in the rat's body, entered a small scratch
on his finger, from which he suffered all the horrid sensation and pain of one poisoned.
Mr Buckland seems nearly to have poisoned others as well as himself. Having received some eggs of the common English snake, he placed them on a shelf in the greenhouse, in the hope that the heat would hatch them. A young lady from the nursery, mistaking them for sugar-plums, made a repast on them, and suffered thereby.
A true daughter of Eve, no doubt; but had Mr Buckland any right to tempt the little maiden, by exposing, in such an accessible spot, such tempting likenesses of sugar-plums? In truth Mr Buckland, we can well believe, from the nature of his pursuits, must have been a somewhat dangerous inmate in most households; and it might have been prudent and pleasant for the other members of the family not in love with lizards, rats, toads, and serpents, to have had him and his reptilia domiciled in the outer barracks. Mr Buckland gives us much curious information regarding snakes, and his narrative is pleasantly garnished with sundry amusing episodes. There is one class of comments in which our author indulges, which, with great deference, we think in bad taste, and which ought never to have found a place in his volume. We advert to his annotations on the natural history of the Holy Scriptures. A youth informed him that adders had ears, and snakes had not-" a bit of zoology," says Mr Buckland, "I was not aware of before, and of course incorrect. I imagine that he had not long escaped from a Sunday school, and had conjured up his theory from the passage in the Bible-like the deaf adder that stoppeth his ears.'"
This looks like a sneer at the Sunday school or the Bible. But the words have dropped from his pen thoughtlessly. Mr Buckland does not suppose that it is the business of a Sunday school to teach Zoology, or that it was the mission of the inspired penman to define accurately the anatomical peculiarities of the Ophidia or Sauria. But, indeed, the reflection is not against the sacred writer, but his translator. The translation of the Hebrew pethen
into "the adder" of our version, derives no warrant from the original, When the received version of the Scriptures was published, the science of Zoology was in its infancy; and even if it had not, by what means could any translator affect to determine the precise reptile intended by the author? In point of fact, some of the old writers on the history of serpents tell us that some of them are in the habit of shutting their ears against enchantment, by laying the one ear close to the ground, and stopping the other with their tail. This, no doubt, may be one of the many ridiculous errors by which all zoological science was so long encumbered and burlesqued; but supposing that such was the popular belief at the time the sacred poet wrote the eighty-first Psalm, does Mr Buckland mean to quarrel with the poet for availing himself of the prevalent impression, if he might thereby describe more graphically the wilful insensibility of the callous sinner to the voice of heavenly wisdom? If Mr Buckland shall apply such a criterion to the lyrics of our modern poets, of what monstrous heresies in science will he convict them! Mr Buckland gives us some pages of disquisition on the third chapter of Genesis :
Supposing, then, the pre-Adamite snake (why pre-Adamite ?) to have gone on four legs, we might explain the passage by saying, that after the curse the legs were struck off, but that the undeveloped legs were left (concealed, however from casual observers) as evidence of what it had formerly been, and a whole, however, it is more probable that type of its fallen condition. Upon the the curse has a figurative meaning; and that, as explained to us by the gentleman above mentioned, the passage may be thus paraphrased, Thy original formation moving upon thy belly shall henceforth be a mark of thy condemnation, as it will facilitate the predicated evil. Thou shalt bruise his head, and he thy heel.'"-(P. 209.)
The gentleman above mentioned was a "learned divine." But surely Mr Buckland has obliviously misrepresented the paraphrase of his theological mentor. The sacred text is, "it (the woman's seed) shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel." The paraphrase reverses the