Oliver Goldsmith.

A history of the earth and animated nature: With notes from the ..., Volume 1 online

. (page 99 of 155)
Online LibraryOliver GoldsmithA history of the earth and animated nature: With notes from the ..., Volume 1 → online text (page 99 of 155)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

animals while fattening in the stv,' without
their seeming to perceive it I'heir other
senses seem to be in tolerable perfection; they
scent the hounds at a distance, and as we have
seen, they are not insensible in the choice of
their provisions.

The hog is by nature, stupid, inactive, and
drowsy;' if undisturbed it would sleep half

I British Zoology, vol. 1. p. 42. « Buflbn.

' The various learned pigs which have been tt dif-
(ernut times exhibited in Biitaio, aiford sufficient proof
VOL. f.

its time ; but, it is frequently awaked by the
calls of appetite, which when it has satisfied,
it goes to rest again. Its whole life is thus ?
round of sleep and gluttony; and, if supplied
with sufficient food it soon grows unfit even for
its own existence; its flesh becomes a greater
load thaii its legs are able to support, and it
continues to feed lying down, or kneeling, a
helpless instance of indulged sensuality. The
only times it seems to have passions of a more
active nature, are when it is incited by venery,
or when the wind blows with any vehemence.
Upon this occasion, it is so agitated as to run
violently towards its sty, screaming horribly
at the same time; which seems to argue that
It is naturally fond of a warm climate. It
appears also to foresee the approach of bad
weather, bringing straw to its sty in its mouth,
preparing a bed, and hiding itself from the
impending storm. Nor is it less agitated
when it hears any of its kind in distress; when
a hog is caught in a gate, as is often the case,
or when it suffers any of the usual domestic
operations of ringing or spaying, all the rest
are then seen to gather round it, to lend their
fruitless assistance, and to sympatlnzc with
its sufferings. They have often also been
known to gather round a dog that had teased
them, and kill him upon the spot

Most of the diseases of this animal arise
from intemperance; measles, imposthumes,
and scrofulous swellings, are reckoned among
the number. It is thought by some that they
wallow in the mire to destroy a sort of louse,
or insect, that is often found to infest them,
however, they are generally known to live,
when 80 permitted, to eighteen or twenty
^^ years: and the females produce till the age
of fifteen. As they produce from ten to twenty
young at a litter, and that twice a-ycar, wo

that these animals are not destitute of natural sagacity
or incapable of instruction. . ** A game-lieeper of Sir H
Mildmay,'' says the Rev. Mr Daniel, "actually broke
a black sow to find game, and to back and stand. SitU,
which was the name he gave her, was rendered as
staunch as any pointer. After Sir Henry's de&tii, this
pig pointer ytMS sold by auction for a very considerable
sum of money; but possibly tlie secret of breaking swine
to the field expirt- d with the inventor." Colonel Thorn-
ton also possessed a sow which was taught regularly to
hunt, quarter the ground, and to back the other pointers.
Her scent was very sure. She was trained by good
treatment, and a reward of bread carried in the pocket
of the keeper. In the island of Minoica, hogs are con-
verted into beasts of draught; a cow, a sow, and two
young horses, have been there seen yoked together, and
of the four the cow drew the least.— -The ass and the ho^i;
are here also common helpmates, and are frequently
yoked together to plough the land. In some parts of
Italy, hogs are used in hunting for truffles, which grow
some inches deep in the ground. A cord being tied
round the hind leg of one of tlie animals, the bMst is
driven into the pastures, and wherever it stops and be-
gins to root with its nose, truffles are always to b<>

Digitized by




may easily cbmpute how numerous they would
shortly become, if not diminished by human
industry. In the wild state they are less pro-
lific; and the sow of the woods brings forth
but once a year, probably because exhausted
by rearing up her former numerous progeny.*
It would be superfluous to dwell' longer
upon the nature and qualities of an animal too
well known to need a description ; there are
few, even in cities, who are unacquainted
with its uses, its appetites, and way of living.
The arts of fattening, rearing, guarding, and
managing hogs, dEdl more under the cogniz-
ance of the farmer than the naturalist; they
make a branch of domestic economy, which

f)roperly treated, may be extended to a great
ength ; but the history of nature ought al-
ways to end where that of art begins. It will
be sufficient, therefore, to observe that the
wild boar was formerly a native of our coun-
try, as appears from the laws of HoeUDda,'
the famous Welch legislator, who permitted
his grand huntsman to chase that animal from
the middle of November to the beginning of
December. William the Conqueror also
punished such as were convicted of killing
the wild boar in his forests with the loss of
their eyes. At present the whole wild breed

^ The most prominent domestic breeds of swine are the
Berkshire, the Chinese^ and the Iriih breeds. The first
of these, in a variety of modifications, is perhaps the most
extensively spread and reared. The Chinese breed is
commonly of a black colour^ with small head, thin ears,
and short and slender legs. It is very easily fattened.
In the 'extreme north of Scotland and some of the islands,
the race is diminutive. Those of Hampshire, Sussex,
Suflblk, Cheshire, and Shropshire are much esteemed.

The astonishing fecundity of swine (says Mr Griffith)
is one of their most obvious and remarkable characters.
They live and multiply in every climate of the worid,
with the exception of the polar regions; accordingly we
find that, though their natural life would, if permitted,
extend to fifteen or twenty years, yet they are capable
of reproduction from nine months or a year old. Their
lubricity is extreme, and even furious. The rut is al-
most perpetual, and the female even In a state of preg-
nancy, will seek the male. It is even said that she will
occasionally admit the advances of a male of a different
species. The production of iifteon or twenty in a litter
is not unfrequent, and instances have been known even
of thirty-seven. The celebrated Vauban has made a
calculation of the probable production of an ordinary sow,
during the space of ten years. He has not comprehended
the male pigs in his estimate, though they may reason-
ably be supposed as numerous as the females in each
litter. Moreover, six young ones only, male and female,
have been allowed to each, though generally they are
more numerous. The result is, that the product of a
single sow in eleven years, which are equivalent to ten
generations, will be six million four hundred and thirty-
^r thousand eight hundred and thirty'^ight pigs.
Taking It however in round numbers, and allowing for
accident, disease, and the ravages of wolves, four hundred
and thirty-four thousand eight hundred and thirty-eight,
there will remain six million of pigs, which is about the
number existing in France. ** Were we to extend our

•British Zoology, vol. i. p. 41

is extinct; but no country makes greater use
of the tame kind^ as their flesh, which bears
salt better than that of any other animal, makes
a principal part of the provisions of the Brit-
ish navy.

As this animal is a native of almost every
country, there are some varieties found in the
species. That which we call the East India
[or Chinese] breed, is lower, less furnished
with hair, is usually black, and has the belly
almost touching the ground ; it is now com-
mon in England ; it fattens more easily
than the ordinary kinds, and makes better

There Is a remarkable variety of this animal
about Upsal,' which is single-hoofed, like the
horse ; but in no other respect differing from
the common kinds. The au^ority of Aris-
totle, who first made mention of this kind, has
been often called in question; some have as-
serted, that such a quadruped never existed,
because it happened not to fall within the
sphere of their own confined observation; how-
ever, at present, the animal is too well known
to admit of any doubt concerning it. The
hog common in Guinea differs also in some
things from our own ; though shaped exactly
as ours, it is of a reddish colour, with long

calculations,'' says Vauban, ** to the twelfth generation,
we should find as great a number to result as all Europe
would be capable of supporting ; and were they to be
continued to the sixteenth, as great a number would
result as would be adequate to the abundant peopling of
the globe." A remarkable Instance of the fecundity of
these animals occurred in this country about twenty-
eight years ago. A sow belonging to Mr Thomas
Richdale, Kegworth, Leicestershire, had produced, in
the year 1797, three hundred and fifty-five young ones
in twenty litters ; four years before, it brought foiih two
nundred and five in twelve litters, and afterwards It had
eight litters more. The number produced In these last,
added to the first, made the three hundred and fifty-
five. In a cattle show held by the Highland Society at
GUsgow, September 1838, a boar was exhibited only
twenty months old, and the legitimate father of 1466

In hot climates the flesh of serine is not good. M.
Sonnini remarks, that In Egypt, Syria, and even in tlie
southern parts of Greece, this meat, though very white
and delicate. Is so far from firm, and so sincharged with
fat that it disagrees with the strongest stomachs. It is
therefore considered unwholesome, and this will account
for its proscription by the legislators and priests of the
East. Such an abstinence was doubtless indispensable to
health under the burning suns of Egypt and Arabia. The
Egyptians were permitted to eat pork only once a-year,
on the feast day of the moon, and then they sacrificed a
number of these animals to that planet. At other times,
if any one even touched a hog, he was obliged immedi-
ately to plunge into the Nile with his clothes on, byway
of purification. The swine-herds formed an Isolated
class, the outcasts of society. They were interdicted
fi-om entering tlie temples or intermarrying with any
other families. This aversion for swine has been trans-
mitted to the modem Egyptians. The Copte rear no
pigs, no more than the followers of Mahomet.

' Amsnit Acad. vol. v. p. 465.

Digitized by


Digitized by




among the woods, and inoffeiisive, except when

The peccary, at first view, resembles a
small hog; the form of its body, the shape

extremely tavtge ; but tb« difference between the two
species in this respect, as well as in various other parti-
euiarii of manners and disposition, appears to be even
more strongly marked than that which distinguishes
their external form.

The collared peccary is the Patira of Soonini, and the
Tayt6tou of D*Azara, who first cl«arly esUblished the dif-
ftfrence between the two species. (For a representation
of it, see Plate XIV. fig. 3.) It is smaller than the other,
seldom measuring fully three feet in length, and rarely
weighing more than fifty pounds. Ity general colour is
a yellowish gray, resulting from the manner in which
the bristles are marked by alternate rings of grayish
straw-colour and black. A row of long black bristles
extends backwards ii'om between the ears, forming a
somewhat erectile mane on the back uf the necJc, and
becoming gradually longer at they approach the tail.
The face is more grizzled with yellow than any other
' part, with the exception of a narrow oblique line of yel-
iow.pointed hairs, which passes from behind the shoulders
to the fore part of the neck, and from which the specific
name of the animal is derived. The colour of the legs,
as well as of the hoofs which envelope the extremities of
the toes, is nearly black. The head is extremely long,
the profile forming almost a straight line from between
the ears to the extremity of the nose, which prqjects
considerably beyond the mouth, is very moveable, and
terminates abruptly in a broad and flat expansion, in
which the large open nostrils are placed hx apart from
each other. l*he ears are small, upright, nearly naked,
and of a grayish colour. On the legs and muzde the
hairs are extremely short, llu) colour of the young
ones is for the first year of a uniform* reddish brown.
The collared peccary is not a migratory animal. It ge-
nerally passes its life in the forest in which it first saw
the light, where it is usually met with in pairs or in
small families. They subsist for the most part on vege-
table food, chiefly roots, which they procure by burrow,
ing in the earth. They will, however, sometimes feed
upon fish and reptiles, and are said to be dexterous in
destroying serpents. Their peculiar grunt is heard at a
considerable distance ; but they are more easily traced
by the nose than by the ear.

The vhite- lipped peccary, accordmg to M. Sonnini,
is exclusively known in Guiana by the name of Pec-
cary, although that denomination is now commonly
applied in Europe to both it and the patira, or collared
peccary, of the same country. It is also the Tagni-
rati of M. D'Azara, from whom and from the author
just quoted most of our information relative to the habits
(if these animals in their native land has been derived.
In size it is considerably larger than the other species,
frequently measuring three feet and a half in length,
and sometimes attaining the weight of a hundred pounds.
In form and proportions it is thicker and stouter, with
shorter legs ^nd a longer snout; and the abrupt termi-
nation of that part is still more expanded and flattened
out than that of the collared peccary. In its colour it
has little of .the grajrish tinge which characterizes the
latter, the black hairs of the back and sides having only
a few brownish rings, which are rather more thickly
spread on the sides of the head beneath the ears. These
organs are less remarkable than in the other species in
consequence partly of the greater length of the mane,
which advances forwards between them, and is continued
down the back towards the tail, the bristles of which it
is composed being very thick and somewhat flattened.
The whiskere consist of long black scattered bristles;
and a few others of a similar description project just

of its head, the length of its snout, and
the form of its legs, are entirely alike : how.
ever, when we come to examine it nearer,
the differences begin to appear. The body is

above the •yes. The whole of the under lip, together
with the sides of the mouth and the upper surface of th«
nose, are white. The legs and hoofs are black ; and tb«
latter are long and narrow, the posterior one of the
hinder feet almost touching the ground. The tasks are
longer and more visible externally than in the patinu
In the young animal the livery Is more varied, being in
some degree striped like that of the young wild boar ef
Europe; but these stripes are lost by degrees as the ani-
mal advances in age, and few traces of them remain
after the first year.

Unlike the former species the white-lipped peccartca
congregate in numerous bands, sometimes amounting,
it is said, to more tlian a thousand Individuals of all
ages. Thus united they frequently traverse extensive
districts, the whole troop occupying an extent of a league
In length, and directed in their march, if the acceunte
of the natives are to be credited, by a leader, who takes
his station at the head of the foremost rank. Should
they be Impeded in their progress by a river, the chief
stops for a moment, and then plunges boldly into the
stream, and is followed by all the rest of the troop. Tlw
breadth of the river or the rapidity of the current ap-
pear to be but trifling obsUcles in their way, and to be
overcome with the greatest facility. On reaching the
opposite bank they proceed directly on their course, and
continue their march even through the planUtioos which,
unfortunately for the owners, may happen to lie in their
way; and which they sometimes completely devastate
by rooting in the ground for tlieir favourite food, or de<
vourlng such fruits as they find there. If they meef
with any thing unusual on their way, they make a terri-
fie clattering with their teeth, and stop and examine the
object of their alarm. When tliey have ascertained
tliat there is no danger, they continue their route with-
out further delay; but if a huntsman should venture
to attack them when they are thus assembled in large
numbers, he is sure to be surrounded by multitudes and
torn to pieces by their tusks. If he Is so unwise as to
neglect his only chance of escape, which consists in
climbing a tree, and thus getting fairly out of their
reach. The smaller bands are by no means equally
courageous, and always take to flight at the first attack.

M. Sonnini relates that he was often, in the course ef
his travels in Guiana, surrounded by a troop of peccaries
infuriated with the havoc made by the rouskeU of him-
self and his companions. Mounted upon a tree he was
enabled to observe their motions, and to notice the man-
ner in which they encouraged by their grunts and by the
rubbing of their snouts together those among them who
were injured by the shots which were poured upon them
from above. With erected bristles and eyes sparkling
with rage, they still maintained their ground ; and it
was sometimes only after two or three hours incessant
firing that they were at last compelled to quit the fieki
of battle, and to leave the bodies of the dead to the mercy
of the conquerors. These days of victory over the pec
caries, he adds, are always days of abundance for the tra-
veller in those immense forests, who has no other resource
except the chase. An enormous gridiron is immediate-
ly constructed with sticks fixed In the earth, and three
ieet in height, over which a quantity of small branchts
are placed in a transverse direction. On these the pecca-
ries are deposited after being cut in pieces, and' are cooked
by a slow fire, which Is kept up during the whole night.
From the enthusiasm with which our author speaks of
his desert feasts* and the regret which he expresses that
he is no longer a sharer In them, we may readily ima*
I gine that, wider the circumstances in which he partook

Digitized by




not 80 bulky; its legs not so long; its bristles
much thicker and stronger than those of the
hog, resembling rather the quills of a porcu-
pine than hair; instead of a tail, it has only a
little fleshy protuberance, which does not even
cover its posteriors; but that which is still more
extraordinary, and in which it differs from all
other quadrupeds whatsoever, is, that it has
f ot upon its back a lump, resembling the navel
m other animals, .which is found to separate
a liquor of a very strong smell. The peccary
is the only creature that has those kind of
glands which discharge the musky substance
on that part of its body. Some have them
under the belly, and others under the tail ;
but this creature, by a conformation peculiar
to itself, has them on its back. This lump,
or navel, is situated on that part of the back
which is over the hinder legs; it is, in general,
so covered with long bristles, that it cannot
be seen, except they be drawn aside. A small
Mpace then appears, that is almost bare, and
only beset with a few short fine hairs. In
the middle it rises like a lump; and in this
there is ^n orifice, into which one may thrust
a common goose-quill. This hole or bag is
not above an inch m depth; and round it, under
the skin, are situated a number of small glands,
which distil a whitish liquor, in colour, and
substance resembling that obtained from the
civet animal. Perhaps it was this analogy,
that led Dr Tyson to say, that it smelt agree,
ably also, like that perfume. But this Mr
Buffon absolutely denies; affirming, that the
smell is at every time, and in every proportion,
strong and offensive; and to this I can add my
own testimony, if that able naturalist should
want a voucher.

But to be more particular in the description
of the other parts of this quadruped; the colour
of the body is grizly, and beset with bristles,
thicker and stronger than those of a common
hog; though not near so thick as those of a
porcupine, they resemble them in this respect,
that they are variegated with black and white
rings. The belly is almost bare; and the short
bristles on the sides gradually increase in
length, as they approach the ridge of the back,
where some are ^ve inches long. On the head
also, between the ears, there is a large tuft of
bristles that are chiefly black. The ears are
about two inches and a half long, and stand
upright ; and the eyes resemble those of a com-
mon hog, only they are smaller. From the
lower corner of the eye to the snout, is usually
ffix inches ; and the snout itself is like that of
n hog, though it is but small. One side of

of them, they must have been an exquisite treat. It
does not, however, follow as a necessary consequence
that in other places and at other times be might hare
t«en so well disposed to relish these delicacies of the
forvst.— i/imayvTM of Zooi, Soc, vol. L

the lower lip is generally smooth; by the rub-
bing of the tusk of the upper jaw. The feet
and hoofs are perfectly like those of a common
hog; but, as was already observed, it has no
tail. There are some anatomical differences
in its internal structure from that of the com.
mon hog. Dr Tyson was led to suppose, that
it had three stomachs; whereas the hog has
but one: however, in this he was deceived, as
Mr Daubenton has plainly shown, that the
stomach is only divided by two closings, which
gives it the appearance as if divided into three;
and there is no conformation that prevents the
food in any part of it from going or returning
to any other.

The peccary may be tamed like the hog,
and has pretty nearly the same habits and
natural inclinations. It feeds upon the same
aliments; its flesh, though drier and leaner
than that of the hog, is pretty ^ood eating; it
is improved by castration; and when killed,
not onlv the parts of generation must be taken
instantly away, but also the navel on the back,
with all the glands that contribute to its sup.
ply. If tliis operation be deferred for only
half an hour, the flesh becomes utterly unfit
to be eaten.

The peccary is extremely numerous in all
the parts of Southern America. They go in
herds of two or three hundred together; and
unite, like hogs, in each other's defence. They
are particularly tierce when their young are
attempted to be taken from them. They sur-
round the plunderer, attack him without fear,
and frequently make his life pay the forfeit of
his rashness. When anv of the natives are
pursued b^ a herd in this manner, they fre-
quently chmb a tree to avoid them; while the
peccaries gather round the root, threaten with
their tusks, and their rough bristles standing
erect, as in the hog kind, they assume a very
terrible appearance. In tliis manner they re-
main at the foot of the tree for hours together;
while the hunter is obliged to wail patiently,
and not without apprehensions, until they
think fit to retire.

The peccary is rather fond of the mountain-
ous parts of the country, than the lowlands; it
seems to delight neither in the marshes nor
the mud, like our hogs; it keeps among the
woods, where it subsists upon wild Iniits,
roots, and vegetables; it is also an unceasing
enemy to the lizard, the toad, and all the ser-
pent kinds, with which these uncultivated
forests abound. As soon as it perceives a ser-
pent, or a viper, it at once seizes it with its
fore- hoofs and teeth, skins it in an instant,
and devours the flesh. This is often seen, and
may therefore be readily credited; but as to
its applying to a proper vegetable immediately
after, as an antidote to the poison of the animal
it had devoured, this part of the relation wo

Digitized by




may very well suspect. The flesh neither
of the load nor viper, as every one now knowsy
are poisonous ; and, therefore, there is no
need of a remedy against their venom. Ray
gives no credit to either part of the ac-
count ; however, we can have no reason to dis-
believe that it feeds upon toads and serpents :
it is only the making use of a vegetable anti-
dote that appears improbable, and which per-
haps had its rise in the ignorance and credu-
lity of the natives.

The peccary, like the hog, is very prolific ;^

Online LibraryOliver GoldsmithA history of the earth and animated nature: With notes from the ..., Volume 1 → online text (page 99 of 155)