The Natural History of Selborne: With Observations on Various Parts of Nature; and the Naturalist's Calendar

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H.G. Bohn, 1851 - Natural history - 416 pages

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Page 214 - ... anguish, and threatened with the loss of the use of the limb. Against this accident, to which they were continually liable, our provident forefathers always kept a shrew-ash at hand, which, when once medicated, would maintain its virtue for ever. A shrew-ash was made thus:* — Into the body of the tree, a deep hole was bored with an auger, and a poor devoted shrew-mouse was thrust in alive, and plugged in, no doubt, with several quaint incantations, long since forgotten.
Page 212 - ... his finger on the hives, and so take the bees as they came out. He has been known to overturn hives for the sake of honey, of which he was passionately fond. Where metheglin was making he would linger round the tubs and vessels, begging a draught of what he called bee-wine. As he ran about he used to make a humming noise with his lips, resembling the buzzing of bees. This lad was lean and sallow, and of a cadaverous complexion ; and, except in his favourite pursuit, in which he was wonderfully...
Page 146 - I saw it distinctly, more than once, put out its short leg while on the wing, and by a bend of the head, deliver somewhat into its mouth. If it takes any part of its prey with its foot, as I have now the greatest reason to suppose it does these chafers, I no longer wonder at the use of its middle toe, which is curiously furnished with a serrated claw...
Page 91 - Amusive birds ! — say where your hid retreat When the frost rages and the tempests beat ; Whence your return, by such nice instinct led, When spring, soft season, lifts her bloomy head ? Such baffled searches mock man's prying pride, The GOD of NATURE is your secret guide...
Page 203 - About nine an appearance very unusual began to demand our attention, a shower of cobwebs falling from very elevated regions, and continuing, without any interruption till the close of the day. These webs were not single filmy threads, floating in the air in all directions, but perfect flakes or rags ; some near an inch broad, and five or six long, which fell with a degree of velocity, that showed they were considerably heavier than the atmosphere.
Page 143 - Faunists, as you observe, are too apt to acquiesce in bare descriptions, and a few synonyms: the reason is plain : because all that may be done at home in a man's study; but the investigation of the life and conversation of animals is a concern of much more trouble and difficulty, and is not to be attained but by the active and inquisitive, and by those that reside much in the country.
Page 261 - If you should try the experiment in still larger birds, the disparity would still increase. It must be matter of great curiosity to see the stilt plover move ; to observe how it can wield such a length of lever with such feeble muscles as the thighs seem to be furnished with. At best one should expect it to be but a bad walker : but what adds to the wonder is, that it has no back toe. Now without that steady prop to support its steps it must be liable, in speculation, to perpetual vacillations, and...
Page 246 - The language of birds is very ancient, and, like other ancient modes of speech, very elliptical ; little is said, but much is meant and understood.
Page 47 - I procured this autumn, most artificially platted, and composed of the blades of wheat ; perfectly round, and about the size of a cricket-ball ; with the aperture so ingeniously closed, that there was no discovering to what part it belonged. It was so compact and well filled, that it would roll across the table without being discomposed, though it contained eight little mice that were naked and blind.
Page 143 - Foreign systematics are, I observe, much too vague in their specific differences ; which are almost universally constituted by one or two particular marks, the rest of the description running in general terms. But our countryman, the excellent Mr. Ray, is the only describer that conveys some precise idea in every term or word, maintaining his superiority over his followers and imitators in spite of the advantage of fresh discoveries and modern information.

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