William Jardine.

The naturalist's library (Volume 9) online

. (page 1 of 13)
Online LibraryWilliam JardineThe naturalist's library (Volume 9) → online text (page 1 of 13)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

















F.R.S. E., F. L.S., ETO,, ETC.



F. R.S.E., F. L.S., M.W.S., ETC., ETC.













Natural History of Gallinaceous Birds,
Columbidee or Pigeons.


Aromatic Vinago.

Vinago aromatica. Plate 1 95

Sharp- Tailed Vinago.

Vinago oxyura. Plate II 98


Purple-Crowned Turteline.

Ptilinopus purpuratus. Plate III. . . 1 03
Blue-capped Turteline.

Ptilinopus monachus. Plate IV. . . . 107
Blue and Green Turteline.

Ptilinopus cyano-virens. Plate V. . . 109


Magnificent Fruit-Pigeon.

Carpophaga magnified. Plate VI. . . 115
Oceanic Fruit-Pigeon.

Carpophaga oceanica. Plate VII. 1 i?


Pheasant- Tailed Pigeon.

Columba Phasianella. Plate VIII. . . 120

Genus COLUMBA, 124

Chestnut-Shouldered Pigeon.

Columba spadicea. Plate IX. . . . A 27
Double-Crested Pigeon.

Qtlumba dilopha. Plate X. . . 129

Ring Pigeon, or Cushat.

Columba palumbus. Vignette Title-page. . 133
Wood Pigeon.

Columba (Enas. Plate XL ... 143

Bisset or Wild Rock- Pigeon.

Columba lima. Plate XII ]46 -

Broad or Fan- tailed Shaker.

Columba var. tremula latecauda, Plate XIII. 157
Jacobine Pigeon.

Cvlumba cucullata Jacobina. Plate XIV. . 159
Powter or Cropper Pigeon.

Columba var. Gutturosa subrubicunda

Plate XV . 161

Turkish or Mawmet Pigeon.

Columba Turcica. Plate XVI. . . . 164
Genus TURTUR, .... 169

Collared Turtle.

Turtus risorius. Plate XVII. . . . 170
Crested Turtle.

Turtur . Lophotes. Plate XVIII. . . 174
Genus ECTOPISTES. . . . . . j-g

Passenger Turtle.

Ectopistes migratoria* Plate XIX. . . 177
Cape Turtle.

Ectopistes?< Capensis, Plate XX. . . ]9

Genus PHAPS, 194

Bronze- Winged Ground Dove.

Phaps Chalcoptera. Plate XXL . . . 195




Ferruginous Ground Dove.

Chcemepelia Talpicotl Plate XXII. . . 200

Genus PERISTERA, 203

Tambourine Ground Dove.

Peristera tympanistria. Plate XXIII. . 205
White-bellied Ground Dove.

Peristera Jamaicensis. Plate XXIV. . 207

Copper-coloured Ground Dove.

Peristera Martinica. Plate XXV. . . 200
White-fronted Ground Dove.

Peristera larvata. Plate XXVI. . . 211

Genus GEOPHILUS, 214

Blue-headed Ground Pigeon.

Geophilus^ cyanocephalus. Plate XXVII. 216

Carunculated Ground Pigeon.

Geophilus carunculatus. Plate XXVIII. . 218
Nicobar Ground Pigeon.

Geophilus Nicobaricus, Plate XXIX. . 221

Genus LUPHYRUS, 224

Crowned Goura Pigeon.

Lophyrus coronatus. Plate XXX. . . 225


Vignette Title-page. The Ring- Pigeon, or Cushat, 3

In all Thirty-two Plates in this Volume.




-4TY }y

THE life of PLINY, like that of most men whose
days are spent in study and retirement, is meagre
of incident. Although he appears to have travelled
over a great part of Europe in the service of the
state ; to have visited Africa, and perhaps Egypt and
Palestine, yet no record of these adventures has been
preserved ; and had it not been for the occasional
notices that occur in his own writings, and especially
the information respecting his private habits and li-
terary labours, contained in the Epistles of his ne-
phew and namesake, Pliny the Younger, posterity
would have known nothing of the biography of this
great historian of Nature, except the era in which
he flourished, the works he produced, and the re-
markable circumstances attending his death. Of the
different accounts of this illustrious author which we
possess, the most ancient is that ascribed to Sueto-
nius, the most ample is given by Count Rezzonico



in the Fifth Book of his Researches, the most
scientific by Baron Cuvier, in the Biographic Uni-
verselle. Where so little has been communicated,
it is not to be expected that our narrative can be
either very copious or very explicit in its details ;
but scanty as the materials are, enough has been
preserved to enable us to delineate the character, as
well as to appreciate the merits, of this extraordinary
man, whose Natural History has been aptly denomi-
nated the Encyclopaedia of Ancient Knowledge.

CAIUS PLINIUS SECUNDUS, surnamed the Elder,
and also the Naturalist, was descended of a noble
family, and born in the reign of Tiberius, in the
20th, or according to others the 23d year of the
Christian era. The place of his nativity has been
disputed, three cities in Italy having contended for
that honour. Father Hardouin, one of the ablest of
his editors and commentators, supposes, but without
any good authority for his opinion, that he was born
at Rome. Suetonius, St Jerome in his Chronicle
of Eusebius, the learned Spanheim, Paul Cigalini,
who has written two elaborate dissertations on the
subject, the Count Rezzonico, and some others,
make him a native of Comum, a city in the Mi-
lanese territory ; but from an expression which he
himself uses in the dedicatory epistle prefixed to his
History, wherein he calls the poet Catullus his coun-
tryman (conterraneus) ; and since Catullus was born
at Verona, this latter city has claimed the Naturalist


as her own. As the two places, however, are not
very distant from each other, and as it is certain that
the Plinian family were settled at Comum, where
they possessed large property, and where various in-
scriptions have heen found relative to several of its
members, the presumption is, notwithstanding the
appellation bestowed on Catullus, that his birthplace
was the usual residence of his ancestors. It was at
Comum, too, that his nephew, the Younger Pliny,
was born, so well known by his Letters.

Without farther pursuing this controversy, which
has elicited much erudite disquisition, we shall proceed
to state that at an early age the Naturalist was sent
to Rome, where he attended the lectures of Appion.
By this time the Emperor Tiberius had withdrawn
to Capreae, for the more secure enjoyment of his
luxuries and unlawful pleasures ; and it does not ap-
pear that Pliny ever saw him. But it has been sup-
posed that he assisted occasionally at the Court of
Caligula ; and we have his own authority that he had
seen the Empress Lollia Paulina, of whose extrava-
gance in jewellery, he gives so amusing an account,
that we shall present it in the quaint style of Dr
Philemon Holland, the only translation (to the shame
of British literature be it spoken) which our language
possesses. The passage, moreover, will serve to give
us some idea of the female fashions of Rome at that
period, and the costly passion of the ladies for foreign
ornaments. " Our dames take a great pride in
brauerie, to haue pearies not only hung dangling at


their fingers, but also two or three of them together
pendant at their eares. And names they haue, for-
sooth, newly deuised for them, when they seme their
turne, in this their wanton excesse and superfluitie of
roiot ; for when they knocke one against another, as
they hang at their eares or fingers, they call them
Crotaliay i. e. cymbals, as if they tooke delight to
heare the sound of their pearles ratling together.
Now-a-dayes, also, it is growne to this passe, that
meane women and poore men's wiues, affect to weare
them because they would be thought rich ; and a
bye-word it is amongst them, that a faire pearle at a
woman's eare, is as good in the streete where she
goeth as an huisher to make way, for that euerie
one will giue such the place. Nay, our gentlewo-
men are seene now to weare them vpon their feet ;
and not at their shoo-latchets only, but also at their
start-tops and fine buskins, which they garnish all
ouer with fine pearles ; for it will not suffice nor seme
their turne to cane pearles about them, but they must
tread upon pearles, goe among pearles, and walk as
it were on a pauemerit of pearles. I myselfe have
seen Lollia Paulina, (late wife, and after widdow, to
Caius Caligula, the Emperor,) when she was dressed
and set out, not in stately wise, nor of purpose for
some great solemnitie, but only when she was to goe
to a wedding supper, or rather to a feast where the
assurance was made, and great persons they were
not that made the said feast. I haue seen her, I say,
beset and bedeckt all ouer with hemeraulds and


pearles, disposed in rewes, ranks, and courses, one
by another, round about tbe attire of her head, her
cawle, her borders, her peruk of hair, her bond grace
and chaplet, at her eares pendant, about her neck in
a carcanet, vpon her wrest in bracelets, and on her
fingers in rings, that she glittered and shon again like
the sun as she went. The value of these ornaments
she esteemed and rated at 400,000 hundred (40 mil-
lions) sesterces ;* and offered fairly to proue it off-
hand by her bookes of accounts and reckonings.
Yet were not these jewels the gifts and presents of
the prodigall prince her husband, but the goods and
ornaments from her own house, fallen to her by way
of inheritance from her grandfather, which he had
gotten together, etien by the robbing and spoiling of
whole prouinces. It was not sufficient, belike, (con-
tinues our author, in reprobating the luxuries of his
fellow-citizens,) to bring the seas into the kitchen
to let them down the throat into the bellie, vnlesse
men and women both caried them about in their
hands and eares, vpoti their head, and all ouer their
body. And yet what societie and affinitie is there
betwixt the sea and apparell ; what proportion be-
twixt the waues and surging billowes thereof, and
wooll ? for surely this element naturally receiues us
not in her bosom, vnlesse we be stark-naked ; and
set the case, there were so great good fellowship
with it and our bellies, how comes our backe and

* Equivalent, perhaps, to L. 400,000 Sterling.


sides to be acquainted with it ? But wee were not
contented to feed with the peril of so many men,
vnlesse we be clad and araied also therewith. O the
folly of vs men ! See, how, there is nothing that
goeth to the pampering and trimming of this our car-
casse, of so great price and account, that is not bought
with the vtmost hasard, and costeth not the venture
of a man's life '"

The attention of Pliny, even at this early age. was
attracted by the interesting productions of nature,
and particularly by the remarkable animals which
the emperors exhibited in the public spectacles. He
relates in detail, in his ninth book, and as an eye-
witness, the capture of a huge whale, or other large
monster of the deep, which was taken alive in the
harbour of Ostia, at the mouth of the Tiber, and
slain by the darts and javelins of certain Prajtorian
cohorts, for the amusement of the people of Rome.
This event having taken place while Claudius was
constructing the port in question, that is, in the second
year of his reign, the youthful philosopher could not
have been at that time more than about nineteen
years of age. We learn from himself that, about hie
twenty-second year, he resided for a time on the coast
of Africa. It was at this period that some modern
writers have alleged, on no very substantial evidence
however, that he served in the Roman fleet, and
visited Britain, Greece, and some other eastern coun-
tries. But these suppositions do not accord with


the testimony of his nephew, who asserts that, while
yet quite young, he was employed in the Roman ar-
mies in Germany. He there served under Lucius
Pomponius, whose friendship he gained, and who
entrusted him with the command of a part of the
cavalry. In these campaigns he must have availed
himself very fully of the opportunity to explore the
country ; since he informs us that he had seen the
sources of the Danuhe, and had also visited the
Chauci, a tribe that dwelt between the Elbe and the
Weser, on the borders of the Northern Ocean. The
operations of the war seem not entirely to have en-
grossed his time, as he found leisure to write a trea-
tise (his first work) De Jaculatione Equestri, on the
art of throwing the javeline on horseback. He also
composed a life of his General, Pomponius, which
was dictated by his strong attachment to that com-
mander, and by the gratitude which he felt for his
numerous favours. He was induced about the same
period to engage in a literary enterprise of great la-
bour, viz. that of composing the history of all the
wars carried on in Germany by the Romans. This
undertaking, as recorded by his nephew, was sug
gested to him by a remarkable dream, in which the
shade of Drusus appeared to him, and urged him to
write his memoirs, a task which he eventually exe-
cuted in the compass of twenty books.

About the age of thirty Pliny returned to Rome,
where he pleaded several causes according to the
custom of his countrymen, who were fond of allying


the profession of arms with the practice of the bar.
It does not appear that he held any official situation,
and during the greater part of the reign of Nero, he
seems to have remained without any employment
from the state. He spent a portion of his time at
Comum, where he superintended the education of
his nephew ; and it was probably for his use that he
composed a work on Eloquence, in six volumes, en-
titled " Studiosus" (the Student), in which he con-
ducts the orator from his cradle onward, until he had
reached the perfection of his art. A quotation from
it, made by Quintilian, leads us to infer that in this
treatise the author even pointed out the manner in
which the orator should regulate his dress, his person,
his gesture, and his deportment on the tribunal. An-
other grammatical work (Dubii Sermonis), on the
precise signification and choice of words, appeared
towards the close of Nero's reign, when the terror
inspired by that monster's cruelties had driven vir-
tue and excellence into banishment, and imposed a
check on all liberal and elevated pursuits. It has
been supposed, however, from chronological compu-
tation, that he was named by that emperor procura-
tor in Spain. His nephew says expressly that he
filled that office, and he himself mentions certain
observations which he made in that country. There,
it is to be presumed (for we find no other period of
his life at which the event could have occurred),
he continued to reside during the civil wars of Galba,
Otho, and Vitellius ; perhaps, also, during the first


years of the reign of Vespasian, as we find that his
absence abroad obliged him to depute the guardian-
ship of his nephew to the care of Virginias Rufus.

On his return to Italy he seems to have made some
stay in the south of Gaul ; for he informs us that he
saw there a stone said to have fallen from the sky ;
and he describes with great exactness the province
of Narbonne, particularly the fountain of Vaucluse.
At Rome, Vespasian, with whom he had been on
intimate terms during the German wars, gave him
a very favourable reception, and was in the habit of
calling him to his apartment every morning before
sunrise, a privilege which, according to Suetonius
and Xiphilinus, was reserved only for his particular
friends. It is not certain, though probable, that Ves-
pasian raised him to the rank of senator ; nor is
there any proof that he served with Titus in the
war against the Jews. What lie remarks concern-
ing Judea is not sufficiently exact to induce us to
believe that he speaks from personal observation ;
and besides, it is hardly possible to assign to any
other period of his life than this, the composition of
his work on the " History of his own Times," in
thirty-one books, and forming a continuation of that
by Aufidius Bassus, an author who flourished under
Augustus, and wrote an account of the wars in Ger-
many. Whether or not he was the military com-
panion of that emperor in the east, he was honoured
with his intimate friendship, and to him he dedicated


the last and most important of his writings, his " Na-
tural History."

What we know of the private character, the vast
erudition, and incredible industry of PJiny, is chiefly
derived from his nephew, whose account we shall
transcribe in his own words, from the Epistle ad-
dressed to his friend Macer. After mentioning
the different works which we have already enume-
rated, he thus proceeds : " You will wonder how
a man so engaged as he was, could find time to com-
pose such a number of books, and some of them,
too, upon abstruse subjects. But your surprise will
rise still higher, when you hear that for some time
he engaged in the profession of an advocate ; that he
died at the age of fifty-six ; that from the time of his
quitting the bar to his death, he was employed part-
ly in the execution of the highest posts, and partly
in a personal attendance of those emperors who ho-
noured him with their friendship. But he had a
quick apprehension, joined to unwearied application.
In summer he always began his studies as soon as
it was night ; in winter generally at one in the mor-
ning ; but never later than two, and often at mid-
night. No man ever spent less time in bed ; inso-
much that he would sometimes, without retiring
from his books, take a short sleep and then pursue
his studies. Before daybreak he used to wait upon
Vespasian, who likewise chose that season to trans-
act business. When he had finished the affairs


which that emperor committed to his charge, he re-
turned home again to his books. After a short and
light repast at noon (agreeably to the good old cus-
tom of our ancestors), he would frequently in the
summer, if he was disengaged from business, repose
himself in the sun, during which time some author
was read to him, from whom he made extracts and
observations ; as indeed this was his constant method,
whatever book he read, for it was a maxim of his,
* that no book was so bad, but something might be
learned from it/ When this was over, he generally
went into the cold bath, and as soon as he came out
of it, just took a slight refreshment, and then repos-
ed himself for a little while. Then, as if it had
been a new day, he immediately resumed his studies
till supper- time, when a book was again read to him,
on which he would make some hasty remarks. I re-
member once his reader having pronounced a word
wrong, somebody at the table made him repeat it
again, upon which my uncle asked his friend if he
understood it ; who acknowledged that he did,
' Why then (said he), would you make him go back
again? We have lost by this interruption above
ten lines/ so covetous was this great man of time !
In summer he always rose from supper with day-
light, and in winter as soon as it was dark ; and this
rule he observed as strictly as if it had been a law
of state. Such was his manner of life amidst the
noise and hurry of the town, but in the country his
whole time was devoted to study without intermis-


sion, excepting only when he bathed. In this ex-
ception I include no more than the time he was ac-
tually in the bath ; for while he was rubbed and
wiped, he was employed either in hearing some hook
read to him, or in dictating himself. In his jour-
neys he lost no time from his studies ; but his mind
at those seasons being disengaged from all other bu-
siness, applied itself wholly to that single pursuit. A
secretary* (or short-hand writer) constantly attend-
ed him in his chariot, who in winter wore a parti-
cular sort of warm gloves, that the sharpness of the
weather might not occasion any interruption to my
uncle's studies ; and for the same reason, in Rome
he was always carried in a chair. I remember he
once reproved me for walking. l You might (said
he) employ these hours to more advantage ;' for he
thought every minute lost that was not given to
study. By this extraordinary application he found
time to compose the several treatises already men-
tioned, besides 160 volumes which he left me by
his will, consisting of a kind of commonplace, writ-
ten on both sides, in a very small character, so that
one might fairly reckon the number considerably

* The words in the original, Notarius cum libro et pugil-
laribus, denote a writer of short-hand; an art which the
Romans carried to perfection, as appears from Martial :

Currant verba licet, manus est velocius illis ;

Nondum lingua suum, dextra peregit opus.

Swift though the words, the pen still swifter sped ;
The hand has finished ere the tongue has said.

Epigram xiv. 208.


more. I have heard him say, when he was comp-
troller of the revenue in Spain, Lartius Licinius of-
fered him 400,000 sesterces (about L< 3:200) for these
manuscripts, and yet they were not then quite so
numerous. When you reflect on the books he has
read, and the volumes he has written, are you not
inclined to suspect that he never was engaged in
the affairs of the public, or the service of his prince
On the other hand, when you are informed how in-
defatigable he was in his studies, are you not dis-
posed to wonder that he read and wrote no more ?
For, on the one side, what obstacles would not the
business of a court throw in his way ; and on the
other, what is it that such intense application might
not perform ?" *

Such is a description of the habits and acquire-
ments of this extraordinary person, recorded by one
who, from daily and familiar intercourse, had the
best opportunities of minute observation. It is to
the same pen that we owe the account of his death,
the particulars of which are better known than the
circumstances of his private life. At the time of
that melancholy event, Pliny the Naturalist was at
Misenum, near Naples, in command of the Roman
fleet, which was appointed to guard all the part of
the Mediterranean comprehended between Italy,
Gaul, Spain, and Africa. The letter containing
these interesting details is addressed to the well
known historian Tacitus, who, it appears, had ex-
* Plinii Eoist. lib. iii. 5.


pressed to the nephew a wish to he acquainted with
the particulars of that catastrophe, that he might
mention them in his writings. The narrative is not
only intimately connected with the subject of this
Memoir, but so curious in itself, as containing the
relation, by an eye-witness, of the first great eruption
of Mount Vesuvius on record, by which the cities of
Herculaneum and Pompeii were destroyed, that we
shall lay the entire epistle before the reader.

" PLINY to TACITUS. Your request that I would
send you an account of my uncle's death, in order
to transmit a more exact relation of it to posterity,
deserves my acknowledgments ; for if the circum-
stances which occasioned this accident shall be ce-
lebrated by your pen, the manner of his exit will be
rendered for ever illustrious. Notwithstanding he
perished by a misfortune, which as it involved at the
same time a most beautiful country in ruins, and
destroyed so many populous cities, seems to promise
him an everlasting remembrance ; notwithstanding
he has himself composed many works which will de-
scend to latest times ; yet I am pers added the men-
tioning of him in your immortal writings, will great-
ly contribute to eternalize his name. Happy I es-
teem those to be whom the gois have distinguished
with the abilities either of performing such actions
as are worthy of being related, or of relating them
in a manner worthy of being read. But doubly
happy are they who are blest with both these un-
common endowments ; in the number of whom my


uncle, as his own writings and your history will
prove, may justly be ranked. - It is with extreme
willingness, therefore, that I execute your commands ;
and should indeed have claimed the task, if you had
not enjoined it. He was at that time with the fleet
under his command at Misenum. On the 24th of
August, about one in the afternoon, my mother de-
sired him to observe a cloud which appeared of a

1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13

Online LibraryWilliam JardineThe naturalist's library (Volume 9) → online text (page 1 of 13)