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PHILOSOPHICAL PAPERS.

NATURAL HISTORY OF LIONS.

[From Dr. SPARRMAN's Voyage to the Cape of Good Hope.]
yet, from its flow prolonged
joined with nocturnal darkness, and

the terrible idea one is apt to form
to one's felf of this animal, it made
one fhudder, even in fuch places
as I had an opportunity of hearing
it in with more fatisfaction, and
without having the leaft occafion
for fear. We could plainly per
ceive by our animals, when the
lions, whether they roared or not,
were reconnoitring us at a fmall di
ftance. For in that cafe the hounds
did not dare to bark in the leaft,
but crept quite clofe to the Hotten-
tots; and our oxen and horfes figh-
ed deeply, frequently hanging back,
and pulling flowly with all their
might at the ftrong ftraps with
which they were tied up to the wag-
gon. They likewife laid them-
felves down upon the ground and
ftood up alternately, appearing as
if they did not know what to do
with themfelves: and, indeed, I
may fay, just as if they were in the
agonies of death. In the mean
time, my Hottentots made the nc-
ceffary preparations, and laid each
of them their javelins by the fide
of them. We likewife loaded all
our five pieces, three of which we
diftributed among thofe of our Hot-
tentots who spoke Dutch.

"L

T had not been two I hours, before we heard the

roaring of lions, which at times appeared to be pretty near us. This was the first time that I had heard this kind of mufic, and, as there were feveral performers, it might be properly called a concerto of lions. They continued roaring the whole night, whence my guide concluded, that they had affembled on the plains in order to copulate, and carry on their amours, by fighting and attacking each other after the manner of cats.

"To describe the roaring of the lion as nearly as I can, I muft inform the reader that it confifted in a hoarfe inarticulate found, which at the fame time feemed to have a hollowness in it, fomething like that proceeding from a fpeaking trumpet. The found is between that of a German u and an o, being drawn to a great length, and ap. pearing as if it came from out of the earth; at the fame time that, after listening with the greatest at tention, I could not exactly hear from what quarter it came. The found of the lion's voice does not bear the leaft refemblance to thunder, as M. de Buffon, tom. ix. p. 22. from the Voyage of Boullaye le Gouz, affirms it does. In fact, it appeared to me to be neither peculiarly piercing nor tremendous;

Fire and fire-brands are univerfally reckoned, and indeed were faid by my Hottentots, to be a

13

great

great prefervative and defence against lions and other wild beasts: they could, however, themfelves mention inftances, in which the lion had leaped forward to the fire, and carried off fome one of them, who had been fitting round it and warming themselves. The animal too has fometimes taken its prey to fo fhort a distance, that the poor wretch's companions have plainly heard it champing and chewing his flesh. The Hottentots defired us who were placed in the waggon, not to be in too great hafte to fire in cafe a lion fhould take a leap among them, for fear that in the dark we might at the fame time hurt fome of them. They had concerted matters fo, that fome of them fhould rather attempt to pierce him through with their hafagais or fpears, while at the fame inftant the others fhould endeavour to cling about its legs.

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They looked upon it as a certain fact, and I have fince heard the fame from others, that a lion does not immediately kill the perfon he has got under him, unless he is excited to do so by the refiftance he meets with. At length, however, it is reported, the royal tyrant gives the coup de grace on the victim's breaft with a hideous roar. On this occafion I must do my Hottentots the juice to fay, that they did not fhew the leaft fear; though they conceived the old and commonly-received notion to be abfolutely true, that both lions and tigers would attack a flave or a Hottentot before they will a coloniit or a white man. Confequently Mr. Immelman and I had no fuch great reafon to be in fear for our own perfons, unless more than one lion fhould come to attack us, or that we fhould difcharge our picces too precipitately and mifs him; for in

fuch a cafe, the lion always rufhes on the markfman. In another refpect, however, we that lay in the waggon and at a distance from the fire, were most liable to receive a vifit from the lions; or at least to fee our horfes and oxen, which were tied up to the waggon, feized by them. Otherwife, for the fingularity of the fpectacle, I should have been glad to have feen an attack of this kind, if it had not cost me more than a couple of my oxen. In fuch a cafe, indeed, my horfes would probably firft have fallen a prey to this rapacious animal, as it is generally fuppofed that the lion gives them the preference.

"Among our oxen there was one which at this time, as well as fince upon other fimilar occafions, appeared extremely difquieted and reftlefs. It had, befides, a fingular and aftonishing habit of making an inward noife, which cannot be defcribed; and this was the cafe likewife with the ftone-horse, in his own peculiar way. This, in fact, was fufficient to make us keep ourselves in readinefs, though it happened not to be abfolutely neceffary: however, we quickly got accustomed to it, and feveral times laid ourfelves down to fleep, void of care, leaving our beafts to figh on unheeded. It is, indeed, a wonderful circumftance, that the brute creation fhould have been taught merely by nature to be in dread of the lion; for our horfes and oxen were all from places, where I am certain they could have no knowledge of this dreadful adverfary of theirs: fo that in this we muit admire the bounty of Providence, which, while it has fent fuch a ty. rant as the lion amongst the animal creation, has likewife taught them to difcern and diftinguith it with trembling and horror. « One

ftory. I cannot but add, that Gray esembles Milton in many inftances. Among others, in their youth they

Whence MILTON drew fome HINTS for his COMUS. [From the fame Work. ]

N Fletcher's Faithful Shep- fpecies of entertainment.

recently published, Milton found many touches of paftoral and fuperftitious imagery, congenial with his own conceptions. Many of thefe, yet with the highest improvements, he has transferred into Comus; together with the general caft and colouring of the piece. He catched also from the lyric rhymes of Fletcher, that Dorique delicacy, with which fir Henry Wootton was fo much delighted in the fongs of Milton's drama. Fletcher's comedy was coldly received the first night of its performance. But it had ample revenge in this confpicuous and indifputable mark of Milton's approbation. It was afterwards reprefented as a mask at court, before the king and queen on twelfthnight, in 1633. I know not, indeed, if this was any recommendation to Milton; who in the Paradife Loft fpeaks contemptuoutly of these interludes, which were among the chief diverfions of an elegant and liberal monarch. B. iv. 767.

Court amours, Mix'd dance, and wanton mask, or midnight-ball, &c.

were both ftrongly attached to the cultivation of Latin poetry."

I believe the whole compliment was paid to the genius of Fletcher. Yet it fhould be remembered that Milton had not yet completed his career of puritanism. In the mean time, it is true that Milton, as an author, gave countenance to this

But

mus, abound with Platonic recommendations of the doctrine of chaftity.

"The ingenious and accurate Mr. Reed has pointed out a rude outline, from which Milton feems partly to have sketched the plan of the fable of Comus. See Biograph. Dramat. ii. p. 441. It is an old play, with this title, "The Old Wives Tale, a pleafant conceited Comedie, plaied by the Queenes Maiefties players. Written by G. P. [i. e. George Peele.] Printed at London by John Danter, and are to be fold by Ralph Hancock and John Hardie, 1595." In quarto. This very fcarce and curious piece exhibits, among other parallel incidents, two brothers wandering in queft of their fifter, whom an enchanter had imprifoned. This ma gician had learned his art from his mother Meroe, as Comus had been inftructed by his mother Circe. The brothers call out on the lady's name, and Echo replies. The enchanter had given her a potion which fufpends the powers of reafon, and fuperinduces oblivion of herfelf. The brothers afterwards meet with an old man who is also fkilled in magic; and by listening to his foothfayings, they recover their loft fifter; but not till the enchanter's wreath had been torn from his head, his fword wrested from his hand, a glafs broken, and a light

either by the authority of others. or by his own experience: indeed, this author's teftimony is much more to be credited when he informs us, that the "negroes in the northern parts of Africa, are used to catch lions in pits, but do not dare to eat any of the flesh, for fear left the other lions fhould be revenged on them." In this particular, however, I have not found the Hottentots, or inhabitants of the fouthern parts of Africa, equally fuperftitious, as they told me, that they ate the flesh of lions, and looked upon it to be both good and wholefome. They likewife informed me, that the lions as well as hyenas, had been formerly much bolder than they are at prefent, as they used to feize them at night, and carry them off from their cottages: at the fame time they affured me, that a lion that had once tafted human flesh would never after, if he could help it, prey upon any other. They added, that for the fame reason they were obliged to fix benches up in trees to fleep on; fo that they could not fo readily be caught unawares by the lions, and might likewife the eafier defend themselves when they were attacked by them.

"So that, in fact, they were obliged to acknowledge, that with the affiftance of the Chriftians and their fire-arms, they are at prefent much lefs expofed to the ravages of this fierce animal; while, on the other hand, I could not but agree with them, that the colonifts themselves were a much greater fcourge to them than all the wild beafts of their country put together; as the Hottentot nations, fince the arrival of the colonists in this part of the world, have found themselves reduced to a much narrower space in their pot feflions, and their numbers very much decreased.

"In these times, at leaft, the lion does not willingly attack any animal openly, unless provoked, or extremely hungry; in which latter cafe he is faid to fear no danger, and to be repelled by no refiftance. The method in which the lion takes his prey, is almost always to spring or throw himfelf on it, with one vast leap from the place of his concealment; yet, if he chances to mifs his leap, he will not, as the Hottentots unanimoufly affured me, follow his prey any farther; but, as though he were afhamed, turning round towards the place where he lay in ambush, flowly, and ftep by step, as it were, measures the exact length between the two points, in order to find how much too fhort of, or beyond the mark he had taken his leap. One of these animals, however, was once known to purfue an elk-antilope with the greateit eagernefs and ardour, without any one getting to fee the end of the chace. It is fingular, that the foxes in Europe, according to M. Collonn's Hift. Nouv. de l'Univers, tom. iv. p. 20. when they have leaped fhort of their mark, and their prey has got away from them, meafure the length of their leap, in the fame manner as the lion does.

"It is particularly near rivers and fprings, that the lion finds it beft anfwers his purpose to lie in wait. Any animal whatever that is obliged to go thither in order to quench its thirst, is in danger, tanquam canis ad Nilum, of becoming a victim to the irrefistible power of this blood-thirsty tyrant.

"It fhould feem, that in cafe gazels, and other fuch animals, had fcent of the lion when he was near them, as ftrong as it appeared to be in my horfes and oxen, they might eafily avoid the danger. I do not know how the fact really ftands;

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fo alternately backwards and forwards. Whether the lion was scared away by feveral more travellers coming up or no, I cannot fay that I recollect; for I find, that I have forgot to make a minute of the story, probably, becaufe I did not think my authority fufficiently to be depended upon. The following occurrence, however, I think I may relate, as being tolerably well authenticated, and ferving to fhew the cowardice and infiduous difpofition of the lion.

but it is poffible that the lion, like the sportsmen of this country, may know fo well how to chufe the place of its concealment, that the wind may drive its effluvia from the fide whence it might be perceived by its prey.

"Following the example of other travellers in fuch tracts of this part of Africa as are infefted by lis, we always took the precaution to make loud cracks with our large oxwhip, whenever we were going to pafs a river. Thefe cracks of a whip, which, in fact, make a louder noife, and a greater vibration in the air than the discharge from a piftol, nay, are heard much farther than the report of a gun, is looked upon as a very efficacious method of fcaring away wild beafts. These large whips feem, therefore, to have contributed not a little to the greater degree of dread which, fince the arrival of the colonifts, the lions have of mankind.

"The lion's method of taking its prey, as defcribed above, is not, however, probably, fo univerfal as to be without exception. Soon afser my arrival at the Cape, I heard fpeak of a married woman, who, fomewhere in the Carrow country, was killed at her own door by a lion, which likewife ate up her head; though others, indeed, thought fhe came by her death in a different manner. Several farmers related to me the following fingular freak of a lion in Camdebo.

"A few years ago a farmer on horfeback, with a led horfe in hand, met with a lion, which had laid itfelf down in the public road where the farmer was to pafs. Thus circumftanced, he thought it most advifeable to turn back, but found the lion had taken a circle, and laid itfelf in his way again; he was therefore obliged to turn back again, and

"An elderly Hottentot in the fervice of a Chriftian, near the upper part of Sunday river on the Camdebo fide, perceived a lion following him at a great distance for two hours together. Thence he naturally concluded, that the lion only waited for the approach of darknefs, in order to make him his prey and in the mean time, could not expect any other than to ferve for this fierce animal's fupper, inafmuch as he had no other weapon of defence than a stick, and knew that he could not get home before it was dark. But as he was well acquainted with the nature of the lion, and the manner of its feizing upon its prey, and at the fame time had leifure between whiles to rumi nate on the ways and means in which it was moft likely that his existence would be put an end to, he at length hit on a method of faving his life, for which, in fact, he had to thank his meditations upon death, and the small skill he had in zoology (or, to fpeak plainly, his knowledge of the nature of animals). For this purpose, instead of making the best of his way home, he looked out for a kilpkrans (fo they generally call a rocky place level and plain at top, and having a perpendicular precipice on one fide of it), and fitting himself down

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