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is next to the body is covered with smaller feathers than those on the belly and back, and like them, are a mixture of white and black. These feathers are peculiar to the ostrich. Other birds have several sorts; some of which are soft and downy, and others hard and strong: but almost all the feathers of an ostrich are as soft as down, and utterly unfit to serve for flying, or to defend it against external injury. The webs on the feathers of other birds are broader on one side than on the other, but in those of the ostrich the shaft is exactly in the middle. As the wings are not large enough in proportion to the body, to raise it from the ground, they serve as sails or oars to cut through or impel the air, and add great swiftness to their feet, which are shodden with a horny substance, enabling them to tread firmly and to run a great while without hurting themselves. The head and the upper part of the neck of this animal are covered with very fine white shining hairs; with small tufts in some places, consisting of about ten or twelve hairs, which grow from a single shaft about the thickness of a pin. The wings are furnished with a kind of spur, resembling the quill of a porcupine, which is of a horny substance, hollow, and about an inch long. There are two of these on each wing, the largest of which is at the extremity of the bone of the wing, and the other about a foot lower. The neck appears proportionably more slender than that of other birds from its not being covered all over with feathers.The bill is short, and shaped somewhat like that of the duck. The external form of the eye resembles that of a man, the upper eyelid being furnished with eyelashes which are longer than those on the lid below. The tongue is very short and small.--The thighs, which are large and plump, are covered with a fleshcoloured, skin which appears greatly wrinkled. Some of them have a few scattered hairs on their thighs, and others are entirely without. The legs are covered with scales ; and the ends of the feet are cloven, having two very large toes on each, which are also covered with scales. The toes are of unequal sizes; that on the inside is the largest, and is about seven inches long, including the claw, which is three quarters of an inch in length, and nearly the same in breadth. The other two have no claws, and do not exceed four inches in length.
Ostriches are inhabitants of the deserts of Arabia, where they live chiefly upon vegetables ; lead a social and inoffensive life, the male assorting with the female with connubial fidelity. Their eggs are very large, some of them measuring above five inches in diameter, and weighing twelve or fifteen pounds. These animals are very prolitic, laying forty or fifty eggs at a clutch.
Of all animals this is the most voracious. It will devour leather, grass, hair, stones, metals, or any thing that is given to it: but those substances which the coats of the stomach cannot operate upon pass whole. It is so unclean an animal as to eat
its own ordure as soon as it voids it. This is sufficient reason, were others wanting, why such a fowl should be reputed uncean, and its use as an article of diet prohibited.
“ The ostrich (says M. Buffon) was known in the remotest ages, and mentioned in the most ancient books. It is frequently the subject from which the sacred writers draw their comparisons and allegories. In still more distant periods, its flesh seems to have been used for food, for the legislator of the Jews prohibits it as unclean. It occurs also in Herodotus, the most ancient of the profane historians; and in the writings of the first philosophers who have treated of the history of nature. How indeed could an animal, so remarkably large, and so wonderfully prolific, and peculiarly suited to the climate, as the ostrich, remain unknown in Africa, and part of Asia, countries peopled from the earliest ages, full of deserts indeed, but where there is not a spot which has not been traversed by the foot of man?
“ The family of the ostrich, therefore, is of great antiquity. Nor in the course of ages has it varied or degenerated from its native purity. It has always remained on its paternal estate; and its lustre has been transmitted unsullied by foreign intercourse. In short, it is among the birds what the elephant is among the quadrupeds, a distinct race, widely separated from all the others by characters as striking as they are invariable."
This bird is very particularly described in the book of Job, xxxix. 13—18. An amended version of the passage, with remarks, will conclude this article.
The wing of the ostrich-tribe is for flapping. The word which our English bible renders peacock is, says Mr. Scott, one of the Hebrew names of the ostrich. cock was not known in Syria, Palestine, or Arabia, before the reign of Solomon, who first imported it. It was originally from India. Besides, the ostrich, not the peacock, is allowed on all hands to be the subject of the following parts of the description. And while the whole character, says Mr. Good, precisely applies to the ostrich, it should be observed, that all the Western Arabs from Wedinoon to Senaar, still denominate it ennim, with a near approach to the Hebrew name here employed. Neither is the peacock remarkable for its wing, but for the beauties of its tail: whereas, the triumphantly expanded, or as Dr. Shaw turns it, the quivering expanded wing, is one of the characteristics of the ostrich. “When I was abroad, says this entertaining writer, I had several opportunities of amusing myself with the actions and behaviour of the ostrich. It was very diverting to observe with what dexterity and equipoise of body it would play and frisk about on all occasions. In the heat of the day, particularly, it would strut along the sunny side of the house with great majesty.
It would be perpetually fanning and priding itself with its quiver
ing expanded wings, and seem at every turn to admire and be in love with its own shadow. Even at other times, when walking about or resting itself on the ground, the wings would continue these fanning and vibrating motions, as if they were designed to mitigate and assuage that extraordinary heat wherewith their bodies seem to be naturally affected 39.
Mr. Vansittart, however, thinks that the text speaks of the wing or feathers of the ostrich as a desirable thing to be possessed and exulted in, and would render it, “ the wing of the ostrich is to be desired 40.” The feathers of the ostrich were in all
probability as much esteemed anciently as they are now. Pliny, N. H. 1. x. c. 1, speaks of them as used to ornament helmets : “conos bellicos galeasque adornantes pennæ.”
But of the stork and falcon for flight. Mr. Good remarks, that “our common translation, with great singularity, renders 777'ON HASIDEH,“ ostrich,” even Junius and Tremellius translating "ciconia," or stork; although they render the term 1783 NESSEH, “ ostrich,” which our common translation renders “.feathers.” Nessen, indeed, as a noun singular may be feather, if it be a radical term of itself; but if, as the greater number of both ancient and modern interpreters concur in believing it to be, a derivative from p3 nezz, it will import a large Arabian bird of some kind or other, though the kind has been very unnece
ecessarily made a subject of doubt. The writers of the Septuagint, not fully comprehending the meaning of either of the words, have merely given the Hebrew names in Greek crida yul
Junius and Tremellius, and Piscator have rendered 1783 NESSEH, ostrich, as they have '97 RENNIM, peacocks. St. Jerom has translated NESSEH, “ accipiter,” hawk or falcon: the Chaldee commentary coincides with Jerom ; and hence Tyndal makes it “the sparrow-hawk.” It may possibly be this, as the “ falco nissus” is said to be found in some parts of Africa, as well as of Europe. Naz is used generically by the Arabian writers to signify both falcon and hawk; and the term is given in both these senses by Meninski. There can be little doubt that such is the real meaning of the Hebrew word, and that it imports various species of the falcon family.
“ The argument drawn from Natural History advances from quadrupeds to birds; and of birds, those only are selected for description which are most common to the country in which the scene lies, and, at the same time, are most singular in their properties. Thus the ostrich is admirably contrasted with the stork and the eagle, as affording an instance of a winged animal totally incapable of flying, but endued with an unrivalled rapidity of running, compared with birds whose flight is proverbially
39 See also Mr. Good's learned note upon the passage, p. 462. 40 Observations on select Places of the Old Testament, 8vo. Oxford, 1812.
swift, powerful, and persevering. Let man, in the pride of his wisdom, explain or arraign this difference of construction! Again, the ostrich is peculiarly opposed to the stork, and to soine species of the eagle, in another sense, and a sense adverted to in the verses immediately ensuing; for the ostrich is well known to take little care of its eggs, or its young; while, not to dwell upon the species of the eagle just glanced at, the stork bas ever been and ever deserves to be held in proverbial repute for its parental fondness.”
It may be remarked, that “the eagle spreading abroad her wings, and taking her young upon them,” is mentioned Deut. xxxii. 11, as an example of care and kindness. So that this passage may imply that the wings of the stork, however wonderful for their plumage, are neither adapted for the flying of the possessor, nor for the shelter of her young; and so are peculiarly different from those of all other birds, and especially those niost remarkable for their flight and other particulars.
She leaveth her eggs on the ground,
Or the beast of the field trample upon them. As for the stalk, “the lofty fir trees are her house;" but the improvident ostrich depositeth her eggs in the earth. She buildeth her nest on some sandy hillock, in the most barren and solitary recesses of the desert; exposed to the view of every traveller, and the foot of every wild beast.
Our translators appear by their version, which is confused, to have been influenced by the vulgar error, that the ostrich did not herself hatch her eggs by sitting on them, but left them to the heat of the sun, probably understanding aiyn TAZOB, as of a total dereliction; whereas the original word DANN TEHAMMEM signifies actively, that she heateth them, namely, by incubation. And Mr. Good, who also adopts this opinion, observes that there is scarcely an Arabian poet who has not availed himself of this peculiar character of the ostrich in some simile or other. Let the following suffice, from Nawabig, quoted by Schultens :
“ Est qui omittat pietatem in propinquos, alienis benefaciens
On stranger tribes bestow their food:
And, senseless, rears another's brood. This, however, does not prove that she wholly neglects incubation, but that she deserts her eggs, which may be because frighted away. The fact is, she usually sits upon her eggs as other birds do; but then she so often wanders, and so far in search of food, that frequently the eggs are addle by means of
her long absence from them. To this account we may add, when she has left her nest, whether through fear or to seek food, if she light upon the eggs of some other ostrich, she sits upon them, and is unmindful of her own. Leo Africanus says, they lay about ten or a dozen at a time: but Dr. Shaw observes, that by the repeated accounts which he had received from his conductors, as well as from Arabs of different places, he had been informed that they lay from thirty to fifty. He adds, not to consider this large collection of eggs as if they were all intended for a brood. They are the greatest part of them reserved for food, which the dam breaks, and disposeth of according to the number and cravings of her young ones.”
This special reservation of some of the eggs is mentioned by Ælian, Hist. 1. xiv. c. 7; and is confirmed by Vaillant, Trav. V. ii. p. 422.
Mr. Barrow, Travels in Southern Africa, p. 89, says," Among the
very few polygamous birds that are found in a state of nature, the ostrich is one. The male, distinguished by its glossy black feathers from the dusky gray female, is generally seen with two or three, and frequently as many as five of the latter. These females lay their eggs in one nest to the number of ten or twelve each, which they hatch all together, the male taking his turn of sitting on them among the rest. Between sixty and seventy eggs have been found in one nest; and if incubation has begun; a few are most commonly found lying round the sides of the hole, having been thrown out by the birds, on finding the nest to contain more than they could conveniently cover. The time of incubation is six weeks. For want of knowing the ostrich to be polygamous, an error respecting this bird has slipt into the Systema Natura, where it is said that one female lays fifty
She hardeneth herself for that which is not hers,
Her labour is vain, without discrimination. Mr. Vansittart, in his remarks upon this clause, shows that it is not intended to indicate any want of care for her
young; but, as the eggs are set upon by several female ostriches, alternately, the
young are the joint care of the parent birds without discrimination. The Hebrew word 'WPT HICSHIAH, occurs but once, besides in this place, throughout the Old Testament, and that is Isaiah, Ixiii. 17, where the prophet refers to God's casting off his people, and taking strangers in their place, and is exactly what is applicable to this
in Job. “On the least noise (says Dr. Shaw) or trivial occasion, she forsakes her eggs, or her young ones: to which perhaps she never returns; or if she does, it may be too late either to restore life to the one, or to preserve the lives of the others. Agreeable to this account the Arabs meet sometimes with whole nests of these eggs undisturbed : some of them are sweet and good, others