Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

animal among the cats; and join with Linnæus, who, in his Ŏrd. fecund. has a fifth fpecies of Felis, which agrees well with the principal characters of the animal before us: his words are,

Felis cauda elongata, auribus-penicilliformibus."

The following account of a battle between a ferpent and a buffalo, was fent by a letter from a Dutch gentleman at Batavia to his friend at Berlin, with the manner in which thefe ferpents attack, conquer, and devour the largest animals,

IN N our colonies of the East Indies there are ferpents upwards of 25 feet in length. Though their throat may feem too narrow to be capable of swallowing animals of a certain bignefs, we have notwithstanding frequent proofs that this indeed happens; and, amongst those I have bought of our hunters, a ftag of middle age was found quite entire, with his skin and all his members in the body of one of them. In another was found a wild he-goat, with his great horns, and no part of his body was wanting; and in a third a hedge-hog, armed with all its prickles. In the island of Amboyna a woman with child was thus fucked in by one of thefe ferpents: it is fo they fwallow up whole animals, which they find means to compass in the following man

per:

When hunger preffes them, they lie in ambush, and endeavour to furprise fome animal; and, when they have feized it, they twine

about its body fo closely, that they break its bones by fqueezing it. If the animal is ftrong, and makes great refiftance, and the ferpent cannon ftifle him in his first pofition of laying hold of him, he ftrives to grapple with fome trunk of a tree, which he furrounds with his tail, and thereby acquiring an addition of ftrength, redoubles his efforts, till he fuffocates him. At the fame time he feizes him by the noftrils with his teeth, and, fo, not only intercepts his refpiration, but the deep wounds he gives with his bites occafioning a great effufion of blood, he at last kills by this method the largest animals.

Perfons of credit affured me of having feen in the kingdom of Ara. can, on the frontiers of that of Bengal, a like combat, near a river, between an enormous ferpent of this kind, and a buffalo (an animal at least as large as the wild ox) which was killed and devoured by the ferpent. His bones made fo great a noife while the serpent was breaking them, by twining about his body, and preffing it together, that it was heard within cannon-fhot by fome who were witneffes of this fpectacle. It feems aftonishing, that thofe ferpents, whofe throat is fo narrow in proportion to the rest of their body, can swallow fo large an animal quite intire, and without tearing it in pieces as dogs and lions; but they fucceed effectually, and the way is thus ;

When these ferpents, whose throat is indeed narrow, but fucceptible of a great dilatation, have killed fome animal, and fhattered his bones, fo as that nothing appears more than a fhapeless mafs, they begin by ftretching him out by the tongue

as

as much as poffible, and, by licking, to fmooth and polifh him, as well as they can, down the hair: they afterwards befmear the whole fkin with a glutinous mucofity, then lay hold of him by the head, and at laft fwallow him quite intire by strong reiterated fuctions; but they fometimes take up two days, and even more, in going through this work, accoading to the bignefs of the animal: after this, the ferpent, gorged with fo great a quantity of food, becomes incapable of attacking or defending himself; and the country people and hunters, with- ́ out incurring any danger, throw a rope about his neck, and ftrangle him with fometimes even

ftrike him dead with clubs and fticks. Having afterwards cut him up in pieces, they fell his flesh, which is reckoned very delicious food; but they separate the head, being perfuaded, that the teeth of the upper jaw are furrounded with little bladders, filled with a venomous liquor, which, burfting at the time of biting, infufe their poifon into the wound; and this poifon, foon mixing with the mafs of blood, occafions certain death in all kinds of animals, when it reaches the heart.

Being defirous to have the fkele ton of one of these ferpents which I had bought, and my fervants having boiled it in a great copper with water and quick lime, one of them took the head for clearing it, the flesh being already feparated; and in turning it about, one of the great fore teeth, which are

extremely fharp, wounded him in the finger, which was immediately followed by a prodigious inflamatiory fwelling in the head, and a continued fever and deli

rium.

Thefe fymptoms did not ceafe, till the ferpent-ftone, prepared here by the Jefuits, and applied to the wound, had attracted all the venom.

Hiftory of Jeffery Hudson the Dwarf. From Mr. Walpole's Anecdotes of Painting in England.

A. St. James's * (fays he, in the

life of Daniel Mytens) is Jeffery Hudfon, the dwarf, holding a dog by a ftring, in a landscape, coloured warmly and freely, like Snyder or Rubens. Mytens drew the fame figure in a very large picture of Charles I. and his queen, which was in the poffeffion of the late earl of Dunmore; but the fingle figure is much better painted. The hillory of the diminutive perfonage was fo remarkable, the reader will perhaps not diflike the digreffion.

+ He was born at Oakham in Rutland hire in 1619; and about the age of feven or eight, being then but eighteen inches high, was retained in the fervice of the duke of Buckingham, who refided at Burleigh on the Hill. Soon after the marriage of Charles I. the king and queen being_entertained at Burleigh, little Jeffery was ferved up to table in a cold pye, and pre

The picture of the queen of Scots at St. James's is a copy of Mytens. ✦ See Fuller and Wright's Rutlandshire.

fented

Crofts, a young gentleman of fa-
mily, a challenge enfued; and Mr.
Crofts coming to the rendezvous
armed only with a fquirt, the little
creature was fo enraged, that a real
duel enfued; and the appointment
being on horseback with pistols, to
put them more on a level, Jeffery
with the firft fire hot his antagonist
dead. This happened in France,
whither he had attended his mistress
in the troubles. He was again
taken prifoner by a Turkish rover,
and fold into Barbary. He proba-
bly did not long remain in flavery;
for at the beginning of the civil
war he was made a captain in the
royal army, and in 1644 attended
the queen to France, where he re-
mained till the restoration. At laft,
upon fufpicion of his being privy to
the popish plot, he was taken
up in
1682, and confined in the Gate-
house, Westminster, where he end-
ed his life, in the fixty-third year of
his age.

fented by the duchefs to the queen, who kept him as her dwarf. From feven years of age till thirty, he never grew taller; but after thirty he shot up to three feet nine inches, and there fixed. Jeffery became a confiderable part of the entertainment of the court. Sir William Davenant wrote a poem called Jeffreidos, on a battle between him and a turkey-cock; and in 1638 was published a very fmall book, called the New Year's Gift, prefented at court by the lady Parvula to the lord Minimus (commonly called Little Jeffery) her majefty's fervant, &c. written by Microphilus, with a little print of Jeffery prefixed, Before this period Jeffery was employed on a negociation of great importance: he was fent to France to fetch a midwife for the queen; and on his return with this gentlewoman, and her majefty's dancing-malter, and many rich prefents to the queen from her mother Mary de Medicis, he was taken by the Dunkirkers ¶. Jeffery, thus made of confequence,

America.

grew to think himfelf really fo. On the existence of Giants in South He had borne with little temper the teizing of the courtiers and domeftics, and had many fquabbles with the king's gigantic porter : at laft, being provoked by Mr.

THE inftability of philofophic fyftems has long been a fubject of ridicule or complaint; innova

The fcene is laid at Dunkirk, and the midwife refcues him from the fury of his antagonist.

It was in 1630. Befides the prefent he was bringing for the queen, he lost to the value of 2500l. that he had received in France on his own account from the queen mother and ladies of that court.

A bas relief of this dwarf aad giant is to be feen fixed in the front of a houfe near the end of Bagnio court, on the east fide of Newgate-street. Probably it was a fign. Oliver Cromwell too had a porter of an enormous height, whole ftandard is recorded by a large O on the back of the terrace at Windfor, almost under the window of the gallery. This man went mad, and prophesied. In Whitechapel there was a sign of him, taken from a print of St. Peter.

tions in the fubjects of taste or religion are more permanent: but almoft every age produces new attempts to explain the fecrets of nature, as fome latent property happens to be known; fo that the old man finds the fyftem of his youth exploded or forgotten.

Among other difquifitions in phyfic or natural hiftory, that of the fize of men, in different countries or different ages, has not a little employed fpeculation, and produced difputes. On one fide, the teftimony of all antiquity, which mentions giants as familiarly known; the skeletons dug up of a monftrous fize, and fome more modern discoveries in the fouthern parts of America, are brought to confirm their exiftence. On the other fide, when the proofs come to be examined, the ancients will appear frequently to have been deceived themselves, or to have attempted to deceive others: the fkeletons will appear to have belonged to other animals, never to men; and the existence of the tall Patagons in South America, has been called into queftion by Sir Hans Sloane, Frazer, and others. In this manner the controverfy feemed almost at an end; but there has been lately published at Madrid a work, entitled Giganthologia, by P. Jofeph Tarrubia, proving the existence of this fpecies of men, not only from the concurrent teftimony of all antiquity in this our old world, but from feveral Indian antiquities difcoverable in the new. The monstrous ftatues of feveral of their idols, which are affirmed to have been no bigger than the life, and feveral utenfils, that, from their fize, could have been made

[ocr errors]

ufe of only by giants, are confirmations of this; but what is a more irrefragable proof than either, the author infifts upon having seen several Spaniards, who have seen thofe monftrous men as they happened to ftray from their wild retreats, verging towards the ftraits of Magellan. They are defcribed as being nine or ten feet high; ftrong in proportion to their size; and active to a furprising degree: but instead of dipping into a controverfy, that time, and not difputations, will one day determine, we will only transcribe a ftory told us of one of thofe extraordinary species of beings.

Madalena de Niqueza was one of thofe unhappy women, who leaving Europe, expected to find affluence and fortune in fome of the extensive provinces, fubject to the Spanish monarchy in Southern America. Thofe who are friendless at home are generally friendlefs among ftrangers. She wandered for fome time in the streets of Carthagena, feeling all the miseries of houseless indigence, and an unfavourable sky. In this forlorn ftate, an Indian fhepherd faw her, married her, and brought her with him to his native village, which bordered on the favage countries of the Guanoas and Chiquitos.

Those barbarous nations, which could never be reduced to the sube jection of the Spaniards, make continual excurfions upon the countries that have been reduced, and kill or carry away the inhabitants who happen to fall into their power, In one of these incurfions, Madalena and her husband were taken prifoners, and carried fome hundred leagues to the fouth, where they

they were feveral times exchanged for other commodities in the ufual courfe of traffic, till at length they arrived among a people ftill, if poffible, more rude than their former mafters; and here they were put to the ufual employment of keeping cattle.

In this fituation, however, they had not long continued, when a general alarm was spread through the Indian town where they were ftationed, for an army of giants were marching forward, and laying all things wafte with fire and fword before them. Madalena could perceive, that the Indians, inftead of attempting to fly, rather endeavoured to conceal themfelves, as they defpaired of finding fafety by fwiftness, in which the giants fo much excelled them. The formidable army at length appeared, but inftead of spreading that terror which was expected, fhe was furprised to fee the humanity with which they treated their prifoners. This body of giants confifted of about four hundred, the lowest foldier in the whole army was not under nine feet high, and the tallest was about eleven. Their features were regular, their limbs exactly proportioned; they had a fweetnefs and affability in their looks, and their speech was deep, clear, and fonorous. Madalena and her hufband were now made prifoners once more, but treated with infinitely more compaffion and tenderness than by their former mafters. The giant to whose lot fhe fell, used to hearken to the account of her adventures with pleasure, and feemed to regard her misfortunes with a paffion mixed with love and pity. They lived in a state of perfect equality

[ocr errors]

among each other, and had people of ordinary ftature to do the domestic offices of life.

Their women were by no means proportionably large, not being above fix feet and an half high; and the children, when brought into the world, were of the ufual fize. In this fituation Madalena continued for almost fout years, when, growing weary of fervitude, fhe was refolved to travel down to the western fhore, which bounds the great Pacific Ocean, which the effected, and was brought off by a Spanish bark, and carried to Panama, from whence, fome time after, the found means of returning to Europe.

Account of a Girl who subfifted near

four years on Water alone.

From the Memoirs of the Academy of Sciences, at Paris, for the year 1756.

November 9, 1751, Christina

Michelot, aged ten years and a half, the daughter of a vine dreffer at Pomard, half a league from Beaune, was feized with a fever, which was looked upon as the beginning of the measles. She took a light ptifan but abfolutely refufed every other medicine, and would fwallow nothing but water. The measles did not appear, and fhe had no other symptom but fuch a violent head-ach, that he got out of bed to roll on the floor; and one day her father going haftily to take her up, fhe fell into a fwoon, which continued fo long, that she was fuppofed to be dead: the recovered, however, but fome days after loft the ufe of all her limbs, which retained

« AnteriorContinuar »