« ZurückWeiter »
was also a widow, who instigated they have called forth, we think it him according to custom, by caress is but fair to confront the author and es, and every kind of coquetry, and his translator, and allow the publick made him distractedly in love with to form their own judgment. In his her, without yielding to his pressing exposition of the common characsuit. In short, the poor bird was left ters of the Batarus, then, M. de to languish, and died of an unavailing Azara thus arraigns the veracity and passion.” The yellow-winged Parra. the probity of the very person who keet, it should seem, is guilty of the has since so eminently contributed same cruel deportment, and abso- to improve, and to diffuse his lucu. lutely killed off an unfortunate Lory, brations: with love, and the bloody flur.
It is painful to detract from the. “ That he might testify his gratitule, merits of a treatise, which has cer- and pay a compliment to Sonnini de Matainly afforded us both entertainment noncour, Buffon thus expresses himself:
"These latter [The ant-eaters] appear to and instruction: yet the publick have
me to form a new genus, an idea for a paramount claim on our justice
which we are wholly indebted to the reand truth; and while we cheerfully searches of M. Sonnini de Manoncour, award to Don FELIX DE AZARA the whom I have already often quoted, because praise of diligent and faithful obser. he has profoundly studied the history of
foreign birds, of which he has presented vation, an imperious sense of duty
to the king's cabinet more than 160 spe. compels us to state that his divisions
cies. He has also had the goodness to are seldom founded on scientifick
communicate to me all the observations principles; that he generally adopts which he had occasion to make in the the nomenclature of the province in course of his travels in Senegal and Ame. which he happens to reside; that, rica; and from these very observations in several instances, his account of
I have collected the history and descrip.
tions of a great many birds, particularly the habits of particular species is
of the ant-eaters.' Ti is thus that my au. more scanty than his opportunities thor writes; and I, for my part, read him would have led us to expect; that · with great pity, when I perceive that he he betrays an unaccountable solici. does not tell the truth, and that he relates tude to cancel those distinctions merely false and alleged information. This which are so frequently observable
Sonnini de Manoncour gives to the fainily
of birds in question the name of ant. between the sexes of birds of the
eaters, because, says he, they eat and same species; that he incautiously
destroy a great number of ants, whose multiplies permanent differences; tacurus, ur immense habitations, they de.' and that, owing to his imperfect ac- molish: but it is proper to mention that quaintance with the French lan these birds do not eat a single ant, and I guage, he has indulged in many
might add that scarcely any of these insects
inhabit the same country with them He groundless and absurd strictures on
assures is, that these ant-eaters never, or the ornithology of Buffon. His trans
very seldom, perch on trees; that they run later has judiciously retrenched see on the ground, like partridges, and are, veral of his crude criticisins; expo. therefore, itt Cayenne, called little par. sed the inaccuracy of others; admits tridges. Very well! all this is false; the bata.' the justice of genuine corrections;
ras cannot walk. Their progressive motion and discusses his references with
is tardy, constrained, and performed by
leaps, like that of birds which frequent patience and perspicuity. The treat brush-wood and hedges; they alight on the anent which he had previously re- ground only to seize the caterpillars and ceived from the uncourteous Spani insects which they perceive on the surard might have justified his silence, face; they perch almost constantly; and
their inflated plumage is very different or his contempt: but, as the charges
from that of any bird which is much ad. so broadly preferred against him
dicted to fiying or walking. If they are ac. have been maliciously circulated, cidentally alied little partridges at Caywithout any notice of the reply which enne, it is certainly not because they
move and run on the ground, like par- to those who have ready access to the Patridges, but probably because the boys in risian Museum of Natural History, reCayenne, as in Paraguay, may be accus- commending chiefly to their attentive exa. tomed to give the name of partridge to mination the alarum thrush, the coraya, every bird of which the plumage has a and the other ant-eaters, the caica, the painted appearance. According to Manon. arada, and the Cayenne buzzard. I hope cour, these birds live in bands, or troops; that they will perceive the marks of the whereas they are always found solitary, scissors which have been employed in or in pairs. He alleges that their tongue shortening the tails of these birds, the is furnished towards the point with small strokes of the pencil by which their plu. cartilaginous and fleshy filaments; while, mage has been disguised, and the traces on the contrary, its conformation is such of the hand which has substituted an ex. as I have just described. He gives them a traneous tail, instead of that which was tail and wings so short as to be of little pulled a way." service in supporting and regulating their flight in the open air: but we must remark Let us now listen to Sonnini's re. that, if the bataras of this traveller have ply:
ply: a short tail, he must either have clipped it with scissors, or plucked it out, and put another in its place. His observation that
" Although Voltaire, who has ridiculed the claw of the hind toe, in these ant.
* the tl.eory of Button relative to the beds eaters, is longer and more arched than the
of marine shells which are discovered in fore claws, must appear ridiculous in the
the bosom of the highest mountains, ac. eyes of any person who is in the least ac
knowleges that the eloquent naturalist customed to examine the feet of birds,
had treated him somewhat rougily, yet because it is an almost general character.
he professes his unwillingness to quarrel He assures us that his ant-eaters shun in.
about shells. I cannot reckon feathers a habited places; that they live in deep and
more serious cause of altercation; and remote forests, and, that, except the prin.
certainly I am not more disposed io be cipal species, which are few in number, it
angry tban the poet of Ferney, though is rare to find, among any of the others,
M. de Azara, who is no more Voltaire two individuals perfectly alike; a circum
than I am Buffon, has chosen not only to stance which he ascribes to the facility
attack but to insult me. I have too much with which the small species intermingle,
respect for the publick and for myself to and produce cross breeds. All this is false;
reply in the same tone, and to make use the bataras generally baunt enclosures and
of the same weapons; they are unknown bushes, either near to or remote from
to me, but familiar, it should seem, to M. houses in the country, and never pene.
de Azara, who has recourse to them on trate into extensive woods; and they con.
all oceasions, in his eternal invectives stitute true species, whose colours, forms,
against Buffon, consisting in a great meaand dimensions, are constant, and per.
sure of pretended discussions in ornitho. fectly distinct. Sonnini alleges that the
logy; discussions which I have suppressed ant-eaters utter a cry, which varies in the
in my translation, because they always different species, though in most of them proc
proceed on false data, and teach us noit is very extraordinary; but these birds
thing else than the fretfi humour with have no other cry than that which I have
which the Spanish traveller regarded the menti ned. He describes one nest for all
French naturalist: but whatever I may the species; and thus we may judge of
and ought to do, in the case of another, is the confidence to which he is erititled. He
strictly prohibited in my own; and, accordaffirms that the flesh of most of these
ingly I have neither altered nor retrenched birds is unfit for eating; that it has an oily
a single syllable in this article of the and disagreeable taste; and that the digest.
baturas. ed mixture of ants and other insects, which “I might naturally expect to share in they swallow, exhales a noisome odour, the abuse which was directed at the indi. when they are opened. If such were the ne. vidual whose labours I had participated; cessary results of insectivorous habits, they and most certainly I have not been disapwould not be limited to the bataras; since, pointed. If, on the one hand. M. de generally speaking, all the birds of Ame. Azara, in various parts of his work, rica feed on insects, in preference to any pushes his discretion so far as not to ac. thing else. I never opened bataras, nor knowledge that his observations confirm have 1 any desire to eat them; yet I do not my own, he is, on the other hand, solicitous believe the assertion of Sonnini de Ma to punish me severely for the esteem with noncour; and I appeal to posterity, and which Buffon honoured me, and for cer.
tain articles in the New Dictionary of Na. among which there happened, for the first tural History, in which I have shown that time, to be included, several species of whenever the Spanish author gives the ant-eaters. Since that period, very frequent freest scope to his virulence against the transmissions of birds from the same French writer, his blunders are then al. quarter of America to the royal cabinet most invariably the most egregious and have taken place; and the ant-eaters, which complete.
formed part of them, resembled in all re. “Such, precisely, is the predicament spects those which I had conveyed hither. in which he stands with respect to myself. To suppose that the inhabitants of CayNever was that Sonnini de Manoncour, to enne had come to a common understand. adopt M. de Azara's polite phraseology, ing to cut short or pull out the tails of more decidedly in the right than at the very these birds, and to colour their plumage moment when opprobrious language was with the pencil, would be as absurd as to addressed to him with so much vehe. suspect me of taking the same trouble, in mence, from Paraguay, from Spain, and order that the ant-eaters, which I observed various quarters of the world. Posterity, in 1774, might not resemble the bataras whose testimony M de Azara invokes which M. de Azara was destined to de. posterity, if ever that term shall apply to scribe thirty years afterwards. hım, or to myself-will appreciate the “For the rest, these very unseemly value and determine the name of that attacks on the part of M. de Azara have indecent criticism, of which he makes me not prevented me, in the course of this the object; and he will, perhaps, blush work, from doing him all the justice to for having published it, wlien I shall have which he is entitled; and from representa shown that the foundation on which it ing bim, if not as endued with much in. resis has no reality nor existence. M destruction in natural history, or much con. Azara has, in fact, committed a grievous versant in the art of comparative discus. mistake concerning the birds in question, sion, as at least a very good observer." since, in one worl, bis bataras are not my ant-caters. If passion were compatable Much of the oblique and useless with the exercise of the reasoning power, commentary, in which the Spanish the slightest aliention, the mose simple and superficial reflection, might have con
writer has so gratuitously indulged, visced the observer of Paraguay that · appears to have originated in his birds, so very different in their external want of a familiar acquaintance with forms and natural habits, could not be in the principles of systematick ar. chided in the same family. Whoever will rangement; a defect of education compare the account which M. de Azara
which the pages of Buffon were little gives of the butaras, with what I have mentioned of the ant-eaters, will be satis.
calculated to remedy, and which fied that features of dissimilarity, as nu.
often led him to fancy generick and merous as they are striking, evidently se. specifick iden
specifick identities where none exparate these birds from one another. M. isted. A more cautious and scrupude Azali, it is true, affirms, with as lous investigation of his references much decency as good breeding, that I might have rescued him from the have equally imposed on the publick in
charge of hasty and unavailing cri. all that I have advanced concerning the manners, habits, and conformation of the
ticism, and have placed in a more ant-eaters; yet no inbabitant of French conspicuous point of view the extent Guiana: nor any mulatto or negro hunter, of his discoveries and the soundness is ignorant that the alarum-thrush for cx- of his understanding. From the ample (and I quote that species as the means of such investigation, he was most remarkable) never approaches habi.
unavoidably precluded in the wilds tations, nor quits the great forests, which it fills with sounds that have been aptly
of South America: but, in the Spacompared to those of an alarum-clock. nish capital, and with the facilities of With regard to the charge imputed to me communication with Paris, which he by M. de Azara, of having disfigured enjoyed, he might have commanded the stu' ed specimens of ant.eaters, it is them to their fullest extent. For the absolutely ridiculous, to say nothing worse. disgusting rudeness of manner, It was in 1774 that I consigned to the ai king's cabinet a numerous Collection of which characterizes his unseasona. birds from our settlements in Guiana, ble strictures, we can devise no other apology than that which we volumes, form a very desirable sup. have hazarded in the commencement plement to their contents. But only of our report.
seven quadrupeds, and four birds, The maps, which accompany these are delineated in the plates.
FROM THE BRITISH CRITICK.
Scott's Marmion, a Supplemental Article. ON the subject of this poem, a night at twelve o'clock, in the cen. friend has supplied us with an anec. tre of the rock, and apparently at a dote so remarkable, and so illustra- great depth; probably as deep as the tive, not only of the power of the level of the sea. He observed our poetry, but of the nature of local friend to smile at such a fancy, and reports, that we are convinced our then swore that he had himself rereaders will be pleased with it. The peatedly heard it. As the officer had poet certainly cannot be displeased. mentioned that his old acquaintance
In a voyage, with adverse winds, had received some education, our from Leith to London, this friend friend immediately asked him whewas detained two days at Holyther he had ever read Marmion. On Island, the scene of the trial and his saying, that he had read it with fate of Constance in that poem. He great pleasure, he was asked if the went ashore with an officer, and ex. midnight bell had ever been heard amined the ruins of the abbey, and by him before that period. “ No," found, on what seemed the site of said he, “ we never till then thought the cavern in which Constance Be- of listening for it.” The whole body verley was tried and immured, a of the invalids agreed in the same small fortress, with a few invalids, tale. They had all heard him read under a barrack serjeant, and one Marmion, and all had ever since company of a regiment of militia. heard the midnight bell, though be. The officer instantly recognised the fore that time they never thought of old serjeant as a soldier who had ser- listening for it. ved under his father, who had also A stronger proof of the imprese been in the army; and their early sive nature of the poetry cannot easi. acquaintance was easily renewed. ly be imagined; and it may serve to The serjeant then guided the voy. show also by means of what faculty agers through the fortress, which is strange and preternatural sounds are built on a high and steep rock; and usually heard, or sights of that de. when they were on the highest part scription seen. of the rock, he very gravely said, We meant to have interwoven this that there must be some profound little narrative in our account of the cavern in it, to which, after a long Lady of the Lake; but having accisearch, he had been unable to find dentally omitted it, we thought it the entrance. Our friend asked why too curious, knowing it to be litehe thought so ? Because, said he, a rally a fact, not to be given to the bell is distinctly heard to ring every publick.
FROM THE LITERARY PANORAMA.
An Account of the British Settlement of Honduras; with Sketches of the Manners of the Mosquito Indians, &c. By Capt. Henderson of the 5th West India Regiment. 12mo. pp. 220. price 68. London, 1809.
CAPTAIN HENDERSON observes of their residence is generally confined to that “ opportunities for useful in the period of the rains, after which they vestigation, even amidst the fluctua- totally disappear. There is something retions of a military life, are often
markably curious and deserving of notice
in the ascent of these birds. As soon as the found singularly favourable: but at dawn appears, they in a body quit their the same time, it is probably to be place of rest, which is usually chosen regretted, that the ability and incli- amidst the rushes of some watery savanna; nation to profit by these advantages, and invariably rixe to a certain height in a are not more frequently united.” It compact spiral form, and which at a dis. is certain, that the military of our
tance often occasions them to be taken for nation being often employed in fo
an immense column of smoke. This attain.
ed, they are then seen separately to dis. reign expeditions, not only see much perse in search of food, the occupation of of the world, but by making remarks their clay. To those who may have had the on the spot, may collect and com- opportunity of observing the phenomenon municate information peculiarly en
of a water-spout, the similarity of evolution titled to attention. The little work
in the ascent of these birds, will be thought
surprisingly striking. The descent, which berore us, Is a respectable evidence regularly takes place at sunset, is conductof this; and crcditable to the author's ed much in the same way, but with incon. talents and diligence. Neither the ceivable rapidity. And the noise which time spent by capt. H. in this settle. accompanies this can only be compared to ment, northe extent of his excursions the falling of an immense torrent, or the into the interiour, from which we rushing of a violent gust of wind. Indeed, might estimate his opportunities for
to an observer, it seems wonderful, that
thousands of these birds are not de. observation, are marked in his book. stroyed in being thus propelled to the earth He has divided his work into chap- with such irresistible force.” ters; and to each chapter has allotted certain subjects: the geographic The number of white inhabitants cal position of the country, the coast, in the settlement of Honduras is the principal settlements, &c the about 200; of mulattos and free climate, agricultural resources, soil, blacks, above 500; of negro slaves, animals, and other natural produc- nearly 3000. As our chief supply of tions; the rivers, slaves, pursuits of that elegant cabinet wood, mahogathe settlers, commercial advantages, ny, is from Honduras, we select as &c. The narrative is concise; and a specimen of the work, the capthe geographer, the naturalist, or tain's information on the mode of the philanthropist might desire grea. procuring it. We are interested in ter precision, and completeness, on whatever concerns the material emsundry articles. Capt. H. maintains, ployed in so great a proportion of against Mr. Pennant, that a species our domestick furniture. of antelope is found in this country; it resembles the dorcas, or Barba. “There are two seasons in the year for rian antelope, of Linneus. He also the cutting of mahogany; the first commentious a peculiarity in the swal. mencing shortly after Christmas, or at the
conclusion of what is termed the roet sealow tribe, which deserves notice:
son, the other about the middle of the
year: At such periods all is activity, and " Myriads of swallow's are the occa- the falling of trees, or the trucking out sional inhabitants of Honduras. The time those that have been fallen, form the chief