« AnteriorContinuar »
which happened on April 24, 1759. He was interred in Westminster-Abbey, where, by his own order, and at his own expense, a monument has been erected to his memory. He lived in celibacy, and left a considerable fortune to his German relations.
FROM THE MONTHLY MAGAZINE.
Description of an Alligator, from Jamaica, by G. Cumberland.
To the Editor-Sir,
AS the public, in general, seem to be of opinion, that there is a distinction between the animals called crocodiles and the alligators, which seems very doubtful, I took an opportunity, lately, of very carefully both examining and drawing one of the latter, lately brought by the ship Elizabeth, to this port, from the Black River, in the island of Jamaica; having been caught when very young by her carpenter.
This alligator is not above two feet long, and, as far as I can observe, exactly resembles those animals which have been frequently exhibited in London, (both dried and living) as crocodiles of the Nile. Inhabiting swamps and rivers, it is an animal difficult to catch, as at the least noise, being amphibious, it pops under water like a frog or water-newt; and, being generally in company with the parents, whose size renders them formidable enemies to man or beast, and who seem to prefer negro flesh to white, few persons are willing to undertake the business of ensnaring them.
This female, in warm weather, prefers being out of water for a long time; and one of its habits has shown me, why it moves the upper and not the under jaw; for, when out of the water, it reposes the head on the table, lifting up the upper mandible, and thus it remains till the mouth has flies in it, on which it instantly drops the jaw, like a trap-door, over the imprisoned sufferers. And thus, no doubt, it reposes it at the bottom of rivers to take in eels or other fishes; its temper seems gentle when not irritated, and, young as it is, it already knows its feeder; but when pro voked by a cat or dog, it has already seized them. The manner in which its teeth are set, seems particularly calculated for taking and holding eels, as there are two waves in each jaw that enable it to press the prey out of a right line; the sharpness of its teeth, which are like fangs, and longest at each extremity of these waving indentures, also greatly aid its hold. In closing, there is reason to think they cross each other, but this I could not exactly
ascertain. In the fossil ones I found that always the case, and observable in that of Mr. P. Hawker, of Stroud, which, like this, is a sharp-nosed alligator. The rows of teeth above and below, consist almost generally of thirty-six in each jaw, and are white as ivory, curved a little, long and pointed. At the extremity of the nose, on the upper side, is a circular membrane, darker than the rest of the skin, and having two valves in the form of two small crescents, both of which it opens for air at the same time, though but rarely; above the eyes, which have nictating membranes, are two strong plates of bone; next comes the hinge of the upper-jaw, with four studs or scales, and behind them two plates, like shields; then the neck, after which four plates make the commencement of a process that extends to the point of the tail. The whole of what may be properly termed the tail (commencing below the anus, which is a ring of scales) consists of thirtysix joints, eighteen double-finned, and eighteen single finned above; and this rule held good with two dried animals, called crocodiles, now in Mr. Bullock's Museum.
The arms before resemble the lizard's, and have, like him, five fingers terminated with sharp claws; like him also, the division. is of three inwardly and two outwards, the thumb and little finger being of the same magnitude. The hind legs are webbed strongly, and the claws strongest; in other respects the body resembles the coats of a turtle, but the arms are scaled and well defended.
Like the turtle, its belly is pale straw colour, inclining to green, quite flat, the scales polished and squared, and each scale has a mark as if it had been pinned like a tile. The hinder legs in construction are much like those of a frog, and he goes very fast by their aid. In general, when out of water, it sits with the head elevated a great deal; in the water, with it supine. It eats the guts of chickens, or any offal; its smell is rather fishy, but not very disagreeably so.
What variety there is of this tribe, I believe we are but little acquainted with; neither has it been as yet well ascertained, what is the distinction between the Gangetic, that of the Nile, and these of the West Indies. Should any of your correspondents have observed the habits of either of them, I hope they will second my endeavours, by sending their remarks to accompany these, in order that thereby we may know how to distinguish the Greek, or Asiatic, crocodile, from the American, when reposited in museums. How far this alligator of the West Indies agrees with that at the British Muscum, or in what respect it accords with the fossil of Mr. C. Hawker, I shall be glad to know, as in that fossil, I have observed a process of bony rings resembling those that surround the eyes of turkies; but, as I have
never seen an alligator skinned, it is impossible to decide as to that peculiar defence against the pressure of air or water; and, as this annular bony ring has not, I believe, been as yet described minutely, I shall conclude this paper with the particulars of its construction. It consists of seventeen scalelike bones, that, when united, form a circular iris, broader on one side than the other, four of which have double cavities, two sides of each separate scale form circular projections, while the other two sides are segments of a circle, that, when united, complete the annular boundary, whose projecting force is curved towards the light, each of about the thickness of a sheet of cartridge paper.
FROM THE MONTHLY MAGAZINE.
DEATH OF JAMES GRAHAM.
At Glasgow, a few weeks ago, of water in the brain, the amiable James Graham, the Scottish poet, author of the poems of the Sabbath, the Birds of Scotland, and the Georgics. Grown weary with the unprincipled turbulence of the bar, he forsook it, and accepted of a presentation to the church of England, in the neighbourhood of Durham. Here he retired, contented with the little stipend which the place afforded, hoping to regain his health in the exercise of a function so congenial to his mind. For some time past he complained much of a pain in his head, and a heavy swimming in his eyes, which rendered exertion of either body or mind painful. He went to Durham in the spring of last year, where, by his amiable disposition and powers of eloquence, he made himself beloved beyond the range of those whom he was appointed to instruct. Here he resided, making occasional excursions among the regions of poetical fancy, and faithfully discharging the duties of his pastoral office.
DEATH OF DR. PERCY.
AT Dromore, aged 87, Dr. Percy, bishop of that diocese, an excellent prelate, and a veteran in literature. He was related to the family of the Duke of Northumberland, and was many years domestic chaplain to the late duke. By his virtues and talents, more than by his connexions, he was raised to the bishopric of Dromore, which he possessed for a long period, and the duties of which he discharged with exemplary zeal and true Christian charity. No man was ever more ready to relieve distress, to ad
minister comfort, and to interpose his kind offices whenever they were solicited. It is hardly necessary to say how much English literature has been indebted to the researches of this elegant scholar, who recovered from obscurity, and has preserved from oblivion, many beautiful remains of genius, which he gave to the world under the title of "Reliques of Ancient Poetry." In some that were mere fragments and detached stanzas, Dr. Percy supplied the deficiencies, and formed into a whole by congenial taste, feeling, and imagination. The beautiful old ballad of "A Friar of Orders Grey," upon which Goldsmith founded his interesting Poem of "The Hermit," was among the remains of antiquity, which Dr. Percy completed in this manner: and he is the avowed author of the affecting song of "Oh Nannie wilt thou gang with me." For the curious anecdotes and literary information, to be found in the edition of the "Tatler," with notes, published in six octavo volumes, in the year 1786, the public are principally indebted to this prelate, who was a warm friend to literature, and a zealous patron of unprotected genius. He died at a very advanced period of life, and has left a reputation not only unblemished, but of exemplary purity and active benevolence. He was the last of the scholars of a famous school, the contemporary of Johnson, Gray, the Wartons, &c. having began his career in the literary world about the end of the last reign.
FROM THE MONTHLY MAGAZINE.
To the Editor-Sir,
IT is proper you should call the attention of the public, the Society of Arts, and Board of Agriculture, to a vegetable production, which promises great social benefits, and towards which the speculations of merchants, the ingenuity of manufacturers, and the fostering patronage of the public, ought to be invited.
The triumph of man over nature, by prolonging his enjoyments, and active pursuits, after the setting of the sun, when all other animals retire to sleep, is a splendid proof of his original powers of combination. To complete this triumph he ought, by continued exertions, to increase his means of creating artificial light, and exhaust the stores of chemistry and natural history, till he has united all the points of perfection in its production and economy.
What can be more gross and offensive than the oil which, to this day, we burn in our lamps,-or the tallow which emits its fetid smell from our candles! What can be more clumsy and coarse than those contrivances, as we commonly meet with them! What more primitive-more barbaric-or more unscientific!
In this view I was exceedingly gratified by the experiments of WINSOR, and I am yet at a loss to comprehend how his excellent system miscarried, after the beautiful demonstrations which he afforded the public in Pall Mall. He may have calculated, with the over sanguine feelings of genius, on the commercial advantages of his plans, and may consequently have disappointed some of the speculators that flocked about him; but in this intellectual age and country, such a design ought to be supported by the spirit of philosophy and patriotism, and not to depend on selfish views for its introduction. It was a design worthy of the support of a whole people-worthy of the countenance of governmentand worthy also of one of those countless millions voted away every year by Parliament, to effect some purposes which a future age may better value, but of the benefits of which, the present age is completely in the dark!
If, when the process and combustion were imperfect, a certain degree of smoke sometimes escaped from the tubes of the gas lights, as it does from tallow candles, this was a subject for the study of our great chemists, who would, in my opinion, at least, have been in this way quite as usefully employed as in chemical conjuring, in producing metals which nobody values; at the same time, too, that those gentlemen knew full well, that no other metal is wanted in England but gold!
My attention has been excited to this subject by a visit lately paid me by a patriotic native of Nova Scotia, who, having never been in England, described himself as much annoyed by the smell and smoke emitted from our tallow candles. On inquiry, I found that in his family and province, he and his neighbours burn only Yes, wax!-startle not reader,-in a beggarly province of Nova Scotia, the farmers and labourers burn none but wax candles! He informed me that in the uncleared woods there grow abundance of the Myrica Cerifera, wax-bearing myrica, or, vulgarly, the candle-berry myrtle. With these wax-berries, he says, they make excellent wax candles, fragrant instead of noisome, in their odour, economical in their consumption, and clean and agreeable in their use. He admitted, however, that the manufacture is not perfected, that the wax, which is of a green colour. would be improved by being bleached and that some common processes of purification would greatly improve it. He says, that this myrtle delights in moist situations, that it would thrive well in