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make way. When on a journey, the rider himself carries in his hand a little stick pointed with iron, with which he pricks his beast on the withers. - When the rider alights, he has no occasion to tie up his ass. He merely pulls the rein of the bridle tight, and passes it over a ring on the fore part of the saddle, which, confining the head of the beast, is sufficient to make him remain patiently in his place.
Though the Arabs do not take quite so much pains to preserve the breed of their asses, as they do for promoting the excellence of their horses, it may be faid with truth, that asses are no where attended with so much care as in Egypt and Arabia. They are reguJarly rubbed down and washed : which renders their coat smooth, soft, and glofly: and their food is the same as that of horses, commonly consisting of chopped. straw, barley, and i'mall beans.
To add to the species of useful animals, or, which is the same thing, to improve them so as to render them more useful, is to increase the advantages of public and private economy. If, without remitting our attentions to the horse, we deigned to pay a little regard to the ass, though placed by nature second in the scale, we could not fail to be gainers. For the attainment of this useful object, it would be necessary to cross the breed. Arabian or Egyptian males would improve the offspring of our females in strength and beauty ; and these, by repeated crossings, would produce with time and care an excellent breed of animals, suited to the majority in point of expense, and not deftitute of pleasing qualities.
The handsomest affes seen at Cairo come from Upper Egypt and Nubia. On ascending the Nile, the influence of climate on these animais is perceptible, they being of the greatest beauty in Saïd, while toward the Delta they are inferior in all respects. So true it is, that they owe their excellencies to great heat and extreme drought. In countries, which, though very hot,
H h 2
· are at the same time wet, they are but indifferent: fur in India, and even the southernmost parts of the peninsula, which are nearer to the equator, but likewise 'more humid, than Arabia, Nubia, and Thebais, the asses are small, dull, weak, and ill-shaped *.
From the excellent qualities of the Egyptian asses, it is not to be wondered that they have been objects of luxury. The opulent vied in keeping asses of the highest price. To the Europeans settled at Cairo, this was an indemnification for the restraint from riding on horseback, to which they were condemned. But this species of luxury attracted the attention of government in 1779. It was deemed indecorous, that foreign merchants, abominated on account of their religion, should ride upon animals superior even to those kept for the wives of the beys themselves. This was fufficient to bring upon the European merchants a forced contribution, an avanie of four or five hundred thousand franks, which they were obliged to pay, for having kept fine asses.
In the east, these were at all times among the number of animals most valued. They formed part of the wealth of the ancient patriarchs, as they still do of the herds of the wandering nations in the same countries. The Egyptians alone abominated them. To them they were the execrated emblem of the evil genius of Typhon, of that giant monster with a hundred heads, and a hundred mouths vomiting flame, the son of Earth and Tartarus, who had dared to wage war with the gods, and had at last been cụt to pieces by Ofiris, one of the deities of Egypt. The inhabitants of Coptos in particular, fo publicly declared their inveterate anti
* Such at least is the affertion of the author of Efrais Philosophiques sur les Mæurs de divers Animaux étrangers, pages 240 et 246.–Pliny had observed, that the ass was not fond of cold countries, insum animal frigoris maxime impatiens, Hilt. Nat. lib. viii. cap. 43.
pathy to these animals, as to throw them down from the summit of a rock; and the people of Busiris and Ly. copolis carried their superstition so far as to refrain from blowing the trumpet, because, in their opinion, its found resembled the braying of an ass * !
CHARACTERISTIC OF EACH MONTHIN THE YEAR, Chiefly extracted from the New Edition of Dr. Aikin's
Caler dar of Nature.
CALENDAR OF NATURE.
COWPER'S TASK. HIS month, in general, the most unpleasant in the whole year.
2. Vapours, clouds and forms, form almost the only viciffitudes of weather; thus, according to Shakespeare—“ The rain and wind
* See the Differtation sur Typhon, par l'Abbé Banier, member of the Academy of Inscriptions and Belles Lettres, tome iii. page 116.
· The whole year
beat dark December.” 3. Every change now melancholy, advancing to universal gloom and
No bird to bird repeats his tuneful call,
Save the lone red-breait on the moss-grown wall.
4. Wild quadrupeds and amphibious animals retire to their winter quarters, which they feldoin quit till the return of spring. 5. Some lay up no stores of provifions, and therefore become entirely torpid, 'till the warm weather restores them, and their food along with them ; thus the frog, lizard, badger, hedge-hog, and bat, all of whom feed on insects or vegetables. 6. Dormice lie torpid the greater part of the winter, though laying up some food, they, on a warm day, revive, eat it, and then relapse into their former condition. 7. Squirrels, water-rats, and field-mice, provide large ftores of provision ; not known to be torpid, but, probably, sleep more at this time than in fuminer. 8. Cold is the immediate cause of turpidity in animals. - 9. A frog immersed'in water at thirty-two degrees, or the freezing point, becomes torpid in a few moments, and the application of a warmth of so degrees, will restore it to activity. 10. The only vegetables now flourishaing, are mosses and lichens, or liver-worts; thus offer. ing their fructification to the botanist, when the rest of nature is dead to him. 1. Mosses of little use in commerce, domestic economy, or as food for either man or beaft. 12. Lichens, some useful; viz. one fort, confisting of white flexible branches, the fole subsistence of the deer in Lapland ; and also the Iceland lichen, used when fresh, medicinally, as a purgative, but when dried, a substitute for bread to the inhabitants of the arctic regions. 13. Many kinds used as dying drugs, especially a grey one, found in the Canary Inands, efteemed for iis purple dye, fugitive, but extremely beau. tiful, and used for giving a lustre to filks. 14. Lichens likewise serviceable in the economy of nature, forming, upon barren places, a stratum of vegetable mould for the support of larger and more useful plants. 15. A castle or edifice deserted and ruined, soon becomes covered with lichens, deriving their nourishment from thefair and rain, these decaying, turn into mould between the crevices, into which fall the winged feeds of ash and fycamore, these feeds expanding and enlarging in time, split into pieces and overthrow the most massy towers. 16. On the 21st of December is the winter solstice, or shortest day, the sun being something less than eight hours above the horizon, even in the furthern parts of this island. 17. Frost and snow now generally begin to set in for the rest of the winter. 18. The farmer having little to do out of doors, attends to the feeding and management of his cattle, and various matters of household economy. 19. The festival of CHRISTMAS seasonably cheers this comfortless period. 20. Great preparations for it in the country, and plenty of rustic dainties provided for its celebration, according to the rites of ancient hospitality. 21. The old year steals away unlamented, and scarcely perceived. 22. The NEW YEAR begins with lengthening days and brighter skies, inspiring fresh hopes and pleasing expectations:
These naked shoots,