« PreviousContinue »
rican river, traverse for a time an alluvial delta which nourishes a comparatively luxuriant vegetation, and hence along its banks several animals advance to a more northern latitude than the more stinted vegetation of the Coppermine River permits them to attain. We may thus perceive the interconnexion or mutual dependence of the links of a lengthened chain of facts in natural history. Below the junction of Peel's River with the Mackenzie, the branches of the latter irrigate the low lands with the warmer waters which have flowed from the southern countries, and which, breaking up their icy covering at an earlier period, 'produce a more luxuriant vegetation than exists in any place in the same parallel on the American continent,' (Dr Richardson's Introduction, p. 22); and the moose-deer, the American hare, and the beaver, follow this extension of a life-sustaining vegetation. Of course the existence of these herbivorous animals induces a corresponding increase in the localities of wolves, foxes, and other predaceous kinds.
The whole of the mammiferous animals known to inhabit the great northern districts of the new world (exclusive of cetacea), may be stated as amounting to between 80 and 90 species. We shall now pass southwards to the United States; where, however, the field being so varied and extensive, and the species so greatly increased by the appearance of many interesting forms of animal life, peculiar to, or characteristic of, temperate and warmer regions, we shall not at present venture upon any individual details. What we have already stated will suffice to correct the error committed by M. Desmarest, who gives 54 as the amount of the mammiferous species of North America.* Dr Harlan, collecting together all the detached observations which have appeared in various journals, and including the species discovered during Major Long's expedition, and those contained in the published voyages of Captains Franklin and Parry, has distinguished, with tolerable accuracy, 147 species as inhabitants of North America. Of these, however, 11 species are fossil, and no longer occur in the living state, and 28 pertain to the cetaceous tribes. We have therefore 108 as the number of North American quadrupeds, properly so called. Of the latter num
* Mammalogie, ou description des Espèces de Mammifères. Seconde Partie. Avertissement, p. 7. The above may be either a typographical mistake, or stated through inadvertence, as in fact M. Desmarest, in the body of his excellent work, describes about a hundred species which are known to exist in North America.
ber, 21 species are supposed to occur both in North America and the old world, viz.:
Of the Mole
2 species, 1st, Canis lupus. Linn.
2 species, 1st, Canis vulpes, var. alopex. Linn.
Field mouse, 1 species,
Castor fiber. Linn.
Mus sylvaticus. Linn.
Mus amphibius. Linn.
The preceding list, though not critically correct in every particular, (of which the omission of the pine martin and the insertion of the Rocky Mountain sheep may be given as examples,) will suffice to afford a general idea of the relationship which exists between the mammiferous land animals of America, and those of Europe and the north of Asia.
The quadrupeds of Mexico (the only portion of North America to which we have not yet alluded) are still very imperfectly known. Many of the species mentioned by Hernandez + and Clavigero, are either altogether fabulous, or have been so vaguely and inaccurately described by those authors, as to be not now recognisable by modern observers. It is known, however, that some of these species are common to South America and Mexico, others to Mexico and the United States, while but a small
*Harlan's Fauna Americana. Introduction, p. 8.
+ Nova Plantarum, Animalium, et Mineralium Mexicanorum Histo• ria, a Francesco Hernandez, Medico, in Indiis præstantissimo primum compilata, &c.
History of Mexico, translated by C. Cullen. 2 vols. 4to. 1807.
proportion are peculiar to Mexico alone. In fact, the southern portion of that vast territory, in common with the peninsular projection of Florida, is allied in many of its zoological features to South America and the islands of the West Indies. But were we to seek to illustrate the connexion which exists between the zoology of the southern states of North America, and the tropical regions of the New World, we ought to turn our attention rather to the feathered creation-to those winged tribes, the locomotive powers of which so greatly exceed in long enduring swiftness the fleetest of the four-footed race. The subject of migration is also intimately related to that of the local distribution of the species, and a rich and varied field therefore lies before us, did not our restricted limits forbid our entering at present into the details of ornithological geography. We shall, however, embrace an early opportunity of prosecuting that interesting department of the science, and of laying the results before our readers.†
* Cebus apella, Phyllostoma spectrum, Potos caudivolvula, Canis Mexicanus, Felis mitis, Felis Mexicanus, Didelphis cancrivora, and Didelphis cayopollin, are mentioned by Dr Harlan as peculiar to Mexico; but a great proportion of these species are by no means confined to that country.
In the meantime, we have great pleasure in calling the attention of the public to two very remarkable ornithological works at present in the course of publication. 1. The Birds of America, engraved from Drawings made in the United States and their territories. BY JOHN JAMES AUDUBON, F.R.S.L. and E. &c. Vol. 1st. Folio. London: 1831. 2. Ornithological Biography, or an Account of the Habits of the Birds of the United States of America; interspersed with delineations of American Scenery and Manners. By the same author. Vol. 1st. 8vo. Edinburgh: 1831. We have studied Mr Audubon's productions, both of pen and pencil, with instruction as well as pleasure. Whether we consider the life and activity which his ornithological portraits exhibit -their unrivalled accuracy in the representation of the various habits as well as external characters of the species-or the fiue taste and poetical feeling which pervades his pictures, we hesitate not to say that his work is the greatest and most successful effort which ornithological skill has yet accomplished.
ART. IV.-The Undying One; and Other Poems. By the Hon. MRS NORTON. 8vo. London: 1830.
SOME persons of a desponding turn of mind will have it, that
the attendance on Apollo's levees has been for some time past on the decline-that the older nobility have been keeping aloof, and that, under cover of a profusion of finery and false ornaments, several suspicious characters have been seen moving about the apartments of late, whom the vigilance of the gentlemen in waiting ought to have excluded. Nevertheless, we see no great reason for despair; for, as to the obnoxious parvenus, they have seldom long escaped detection; and upon their second intrusion, have generally been invited, as the French say, when a member of the House of Commons is turned out, to quit the chamber with all celerity. Some of them, indeed, like Mr Montgomery, have found their way into the street with such emphasis and rapidity, that, on recovering their senses, they have turned round, and, with strange contortions of visage, and frightful appeals, have bitterly reviled the officials, who, in the discharge of their duty, had been obliged to shut the door in their face. Others, like Mr Reade, who made a very violent attempt the other day to gain admittance, flourishing the knocker till he disturbed the neighbourhood, put a more blustering face upon the matter, after their exclusion; affect to say, that they never made any such application that they would not walk in though they had been invited; and, with a calm confidence,' enter their appeal, as Swift dedicated his Tale of a Tub, to Prince Posterity. Again, although it cannot be denied that the visits of the old supporters of the court have been less frequent, we, who would wish to look at the cheerful side both of politics and poetry, are inclined to think that among the recent arrivals, there are several names of no inconsiderable promise; nay, already of very respectable performance. Among the later presentations, it rather strikes us the majority has consisted of ladies; and of these, if report says true, none seems to have made a more successful appearance than Mrs Norton. She might indeed, with advantage to herself, have chosen a robe of a more sober and unpretending character; but we are ready to admit, that she wears it gracefully, and are not surprised, on the whole, that her entrance did produce what the newspapers call a sensation.
It was natural, indeed, that the descendant of so gifted a family should be received with attention. But if her poem has
been successful-as we are told it has-it assuredly owes extremely little of its interest and attractions to the subject. She has pleased, not in consequence of, but in spite of, the fable on which she has employed her powers.
We really had begun to flatter ourselves-rashly, as it appears -that the reading world had finally got quit of the Wandering Jew, who, for centuries past, has occasionally revisited the glimpses of the moon, making polite literature hideous. His scene with the Bleeding Nun, in Lewis's romance, we should have thought, would have been his last appearance on the stage, for a century at least; but instead of discreetly retiring for a time, as might have been expected, after such an exhibition, into the privacy of infinite space, the appearances of this intolerable revenant in our lower world have of late become more frequent and alarming than ever. In Germany, Klingemann, and Achim von Armin, have not scrupled to introduce him under his true character; and Shelley, and Captain Medwyn, both bold men in their way, have tried a similar experiment with the English public. All this, however, might be borne; for, so long as he chooses to come forward as the veritable Ahasuerus, we should feel inclined with Antonio, to say, 'there was much kindness in the Jew,'-in enabling us, we mean, to pass by on the other side, and avoid his society in due time. But the worst and most dangerous feature about his late appearances is this, that he has been assuming various aliases, and obtaining admittance into respectable circles under borrowed names; a device, against which no precaution can avail; for his general manner in the outset resembles so much that of any other gentleman (of the Corsair school,)—he avoids so skilfully any allu sion to his reminiscences of Judæa, that we only begin to suspect him when about to part company with him; and can hardly even then persuade ourselves that our agreeable companion in the post-chaise, is our old Jewry friend, till he vanishes at last, as old Aubrey says, with a melodious twang,' and a sulphureous odour. Nay, to such a remarkable extent have his devices in this way been carried, that he lately prevailed upon a respectable English divine, to introduce him under the euphonious name of Salathiel, in which character, we understand, he swindled the proprietors of some circulating libraries—to a small amount. And here is a second insidious attempt of the same nature, in which this intolerable Jew again comes forward to levy contributions on the public, by the style and title of Isbal the Undying One.
Seriously-Is it not singular that a legend so absurd, and the