« AnteriorContinuar »
The zoology by Captain Sabine is limited to notices of the animals met with during the stay of the expedition within the Arctic Circle. The species already well known, are briefly enumerated with occasional remarks ;
and those which were previously undescribed, receive a more particular description.
It seems rather remarkable that only two bears were seen, during the many months that the expedition remained at Melville Island. The opinion of several naturalists that the white bear sleeps in caverns of ice throughout the winter season, would in some measure account for the appearance of so few to our circumnavigators. But Fabricius controverts the opinion, stating the reverse to be the fact, upon his own knowledge; and Captain Sabine seems disposed to confirm his statement. He thinks that the bears which were seen in Melville Island might have passed the winter in Barrow's Strait, where, it is probable, open water may be found during the greater part of the year. “On the return of the ships through Barrow's Strait, a bear was met with swimming in the water, about mid
shores, which were about forty miles apart; no ice was in sight, except a small quantity near the land; on the approach of the ships, he appeared alarmed and dived, but rose again speedily: a circumstance which may seem to confirm the remark of Fabricius, that well as the Polar bear swims, it is not able to remain long under water.” Canislupus, the wolf, inbabits the North Georgian islands. Wolves of a very light colour and the full size of a setter-dog were frequently seen during the winter, but they very prudently kept themselves at a distance beyond gun-suot. One lady wolf however, in the months of December and January, paid almost daily visits to the neighbourhood of the vessels, where she condescended to receive the addresses of a setter-dog belonging to one of the officers. At first they remained together for about two or three hours, but as they became better acquainted, the dog absented himself for longer periods, until at length he disappeared altogether; and probably fell a sacrifice to the jealousy of some male wolf. “ The same female however continued to visit the ship as before, and enticed a second dog in the same manner, which, after several meetings, returned so severely bitten, as to be disabled for many days." The accounts of the celebrated Dr. Hunter leave no room to doubt that the wolf and the dog will as ociate; and modern naturalists hold that there is not, either in conformation, or in the period of gestation, any such difference between the wolf and the dog, as will warrant a specific distinction. We doubt not that according to the established systems they are perfectly correct. The cubs of wolves, like those of the canine race, are brought forth with their
eyes closed : in size there is little difference, the wolf being about as tall as the largest greyhound; and in other respects there is equal similarity. But surely the brave Pompeys and the gentle Fidelles of our acquaintance, are not to be classed with that ravenous tribe, one of which, no longer since than the year 1764, became the terror of all Languedoc ; and, according to the Paris Gazette, was known to have killed twenty persons, chiefly women and children. Indeed such consternation did he spread, throughout the whole country, that public prayers are said to have been offered up for his destruction. Now, though the learned may be physically correct, în denying the existence of any specific difference, we feel bound in behalf of the innocent, useful, sagacious, faithful, companionable, life-preserving, tribe of dogs, to assert, that the decision must be morally wrong. What! are the philanthropists of St. Gothard, or the
coadjutors of the Humane Society, or the leaders of the blind, or the guardians of our property, in short are our bosom friends and protectors, to be classed with“ ravening and devouring wolves ?" Oh! Messieurs, revise your systems: take into your consideration instincts, habits, uses, dispositions; and no longer condemn a race, whose virtues have been recorded for the emulation of mankind, to the column allotted for the most hateful and insatiate of beasts, merely because a certain conformation, and period of gestation happen to be common to both.
Bos Moscatus, or the musk ox, “ inhabits the North Georgian islands in the summer months, but being less numerous than the rein-deer, and more difficult to approach, three individuals only were killed, all of which were bulls. They arrived in Melville Island in the middle of May, crossing the ice from the southward, and quitted it on their return towards the end of September. The musk ox may be farther stated, on Esquimaux information, to inhabit the country on the west of Davis' Strait, and on the north of Baffin's Bay, has a head and horns, and a drawing of a bull being shewn to the Esquimaux of the west coast of Davis' Strait, who were communicated with on the 7th of September, were immediately recognised, and the animal called by the name of Umingmack; this is evidently the same with the Umimak of the Esquimaux of Wolstenholme Sound, who were visited by the former expedition, and of which nothing more could be learnt at the time from their description, than that it was a large-horned animal, inhabiting the land, and certainly not a rein-deer. It is probable that the individuals which extend their summer migration to the north-east of Baffin's Bay, retire, during the winter, to the continent of America, or to its neighbourhood, as the species is unknown in South Greenland. There can be no doubt that it was the head of an animal of the present species, which is described in the Fauna Grr nlandica to have been conveyed on a piece of ice to the shores of Greenland, and which is there erroneously conjectured to have belonged to the Bos Grunniens. It is a curious fact, however, that although none of the Greenlanders had ever seen the animal to which the head belonged, they should have given it the same name of Umimak, as is mentioned by O. Fabricius : this fact may seem to justify an inference, that the animal itself was known to them by tradition; and may thus, in some measure, corroborate the general belief, that their ancestors came from a country to the north and west of the one which they now inhabit.”
" The projection of the orbits of the eyes in this species is very remarkable, when compared with others of the same genus ; it is probably a provision to carry the eye clear of the great quantity of hair which the severity of the cold renders necessary in such high latitudes.",
Of Phoca Vitulina, or the common seal, an individual was killed in Baffin's Bay while sleeping on a fragment of ice; it agreed with the description in the Fauna Grænlandica, so far as that description goes, though it differed in the formation of its toes from the general accounts of the species, and even from the generic character of the Phoca in the Règne Animale. “ The middle toe of the fore-flipper was the longest, the others on each side decreasing in length, so that the two exterior were half an inch shorter than the middle one.” “ In the hind-flipper the exterior toes were the longest, and were connected by a thick membrane, containing three other slender and shorter toes.” These observations, though minute, are not unimportant, inasmuch as they relate to an animal which constitutes one of the last gradations from quadrupeds to fishes. So
great is its affinity to both, that although most naturalists have ranked it with the former, some have pronounced it to partake, in a greater degree, of the nature and habits of the latter. It is well known, that when young, the seal is capable of being tamed. Some have answered to the call of their master, and followed him like dogs. One was exhibited in London, sometime in the middle of the last century, which, in addition to those acts of sagacity, used to take food from its keeper's hand, stretch out its neck to salute him, and crawl in and out of water at his command. On the present voyage, a young seal, which was given by the master of a whaler to the officers of the Alexander, one of the ships on the former voyage, became so entirely domesticated and attached to the ship, that it was frequently put into the sea and suffered to swim at perfect liberty, and when tired, would return, of itself, to the boat's side to be taken in." We remember an instance very similar, in which the seal was taken out to sea day after day, and thrown in from a boat; when it invariably swam after its owner, and gently submitted to be retaken. With respect to the birds which frequent the islands in the Polar
it is remarked, generally, that they arrive in May, and depart with their young broods in October, and that not a single species remains during the dreary season of winter."
* Thirty-two species comprise the whole of the birds which were seen within the ArcticCircle, under circumstances which admitted of their being identified ; these are exclusive of a species of Numenius, three individuals of which flew past one of the ships' boats in Prince Regent's Inlet; and a species of Hirundo (possibly Riparia), which the sergeant of artillery, who had a good knowledge of birds, stated, that he saw, on two occasions, in the excursion across Melville Island in June 1820." The variations observed in this class of animated nature, are, in a popular point of view, rather curious than interesting. At the same time it is but justice to say, that the extreme nicety and precision with which they are pointed out, and which may not be duly estimated by the mere general reader, must form the strongest recommendation of the work, to the attention of every man of science.
Only eight species of fish appear to have been met with. The difficulty of preserving specimens still presents a formidable impediment to the progress of ichthyology. It is to be hoped, that among the discoveries of modern science, a remedy may be found for this great detriment. Very few insects were seen by the expedition, whilst within the Arctic Circle ; the specimens that were collected having been sent to the Rev. W. Kirby, of Barham, a clear and particular description of them is rendered by him. They are confined to the orders Lepidoptera insects with four wings, all of them imbricated with scales ; Hymenoptera insects armed with a sting, and having four wings interwoven with veins, like a piece of net-work; and Diptera insects having two wings, and two elevated alteres, or balances, behind. “ Besides the above insects, a very minute spider was seen in abundance running over the plants, and on the ground, and leaping when alarmed." It forms a new species, called Melvillensis.
Having devoted so much of our narrow bounds to the particular examination of the former part of “The Supplement,” we close the volume with regret at not being able to bestow more upon the remaining chapters, than that general approbation to which the work itself, and those who assisted in the collection of its materials, are so justly entitled.
THE DEFORMED TRANSFORMED.-A Drama by the Right Hon. Lord Byron.-8vo. Hunt.
This Drama, by the short advertisement with which it is accompanied, appears to be founded partly on the novel of the “ Three Brothers,” and partly on the “Faust” of Goëthe.
In its composition and arrangement, it possesses all the wild luxuriance of its author, who appears here, as in all his latter productions, to revel unrestrained in the fields of imagination; and conjure up to his assistance every“ spirit of the vasty deep,” to give additional horror to his incidents. Though his materials are confessedly borrowed, yet the powerful charm of his master spirit has, by their combination in a dramatic form, made them his own; and he has displayed in their developement, that poetic genius and playful imagination, which have so long delighted his numerous admirers.
The Drama turns on the agency of the arch-fiend, in giving to Arnold a deformed dwarf, the person of an ancient warrior, and bestowing on him in that form supernatural powers, and scope for the exercise of the ambitious and vindictive spirit which subsequently marks his character. In the progress of the plot, the noble author has employed the powerful machinery of spells and incantations to effect the metamorphoses, and imbued the dialogue with such sentiments as suit the diabolical agent and his depraved victim ; in which he displays that boldness of diction and glow of poetic imagery which so strongly mark his former dramatic productions.
The piece opens with a dialogue between Arnold and his mother Bertha, in which she accuses him with being an abortion, and curses the hour of his birth. This is succeeded by the following soliloquy of Arnold, in which he bewails his deformity, and, urged by despair, determines to destroy himself.
Arnold ( solus). Oh mother!-She is gone, and I must do
[Arnold begins to cut wood: in doing this he wounds one of his hands,
[Arnold goes to a spring, and stoops to wash his hand: he starts back.
Deep in the fountain to scare back the cattle
Now 'tis set.
[As he rushes to throw himself upon the knife, his eye is suddenly caught
by the fountain, which seems in motion.
What's here? A mist! No more?The stranger, who it will be immediately seen, is no other than the arch-fiend himself, offers him assistance to assume a more important shape. He demands some of his blood to render the charm effective, which being given, he performs the following beautiful incantation over the magic fountain near which they stand. Stranger. Shadows of beauty!
Shadows of power!
This is the hour!
From the depth of this fountain,
Bestrides the Hartz mountain.
That our eyes may behold
Of the form I will mould,
When ether is spanned ;-
[Pointing to Arnold. Such my command ! * “ This is a well-known German superstition-a gigantic shadow produced by
reflection on the Brocken."