Animal Biography

Animal Biography:


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engraving of Arabian Camel, no later than 1804

Shaw Zoology Vol. II plate 166:
Arabian Camel



All the animals of the Camel tribe are mild and gentle in their disposition. In a wild or native state they are not to be caught without great difficulty, yet when taken young and trained to labour, they are made very serviceable to mankind. There are seven species, two of which only are found on the old continent, the rest being confined to the Alpine countries of Chili and Peru. It is supposed that most, if not all of them are gregarious, associating together in vast herds. The females have two teats, and seldom produce more than one young one at a birth. The hair of these animals is of a soft and silky texture; and their flesh forms a very palatable food.

In the lower jaw of the Camels there are six front-teeth, which are somewhat thin and broad. The canine-teeth are at a little distance both from II.2 these and the grinders: in the upper jaw there are three, and in the lower two. The upper lip is cleft or divided.

These animals, like all the other genera of their order, are furnished with four stomachs, in consequence of which they not only live solely on vegetable food, but ruminate or chew the cud. They swallow their food unmasticated. This is received into the first stomach, where it remains some time to macerate; and afterwards, when the animal is at rest, by a peculiar action of the muscles, it is returned to the mouth in small quantities, chewed more fully, and then swallowed a second time for digestion.

⁕1 The Linnean order Pecora commences with this tribe.—The animals that belong to it have several wedge like front-teeth in the lower jaw, and none in the upper. Their feet are furnished with cloven hoofs. They live entirely on vegetable food, and they all ruminate or chew the cud.—The genera are the Camel, Musk, Deer, Giraffe, Antelope, Goat, Sheep, and Ox.

Notes and Corrections: The Camel Tribe

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Linnaeus’s order Pecora is now called Artiodactyla, even-toed ungulates. If you change genus to family, the list in the footnote is not too far off, except that he failed to include pigs and peccaries—to say nothing of the hippopotamus, which is also in this order. (Linnaeus was not the only person to be led astray by the fact that pigs farrow, while most ungulates have only one or two at a time.)

All the animals of the Camel tribe are mild and gentle in their disposition.
[Query: Has the reverend Mr. Bingley, or any of his sources, ever met a camel? Maybe llamas are nicer.]

seven species, two of which only are found on the old continent, the rest being confined to the Alpine countries of Chili and Peru
[I find a total of four species among the Lama and Vicugna genera, so this may be another case of treating subspecies as separate animals.]

engraving of Arabian Camel or Dromedary, no later than 1804

Bewick Quadrupeds page 140:


This species is chiefly found, in a wild state, in the deserts of Arabia and Africa, and in the temperate parts of Asia. It is that, with a single hunch on its back, which we so frequently see exhibited in the streets in this country. In many parts of the east it is domes­ticated, and in carrying heavy burdens over the sandy deserts, supplies a place which the horse would not be able to fill. The tough and spungy feet of these animals are peculiarly adapted to the hot climates, for, in the most fatiguing journies, they are never found to crack. The sand seems indeed their element, for no sooner do they quit it, and touch the mud, than they II.3 can scarcely keep upon their feet, and their constant stumbling in such situations is exceedingly dangerous to the rider. Their great powers of abstaining from drinking, enables them to pass unwatered tracts of country for seven, eight, or, as Leo Africanus says, for even fifteen days, without requiring any liquid. They can discover water by their scent at half a league’s distance, and, after a long abstinence, will hasten towards it, long before their drivers perceive where it lies. Their patience under hunger is such, that they will travel many days fed only with a few dates, or some small balls of barley-meal; or on the miserable thorny plants they meet with in the deserts.⁕1 M. Denon informs us, that during his travels in Egypt the Camels of the caravan had nothing in the day but a single feed of beans, which they chewed for the remainder of the time, either on the journey, or lying down on the scorching sand, without exhibiting the slightest signal of discontent.⁕2

A large Camel will bear a load of a thousand or twelve hundred pounds, and with this it will traverse the deserts. When about to be loaded, at the command of the conductor, the animals instantly bend their knees. If any disobey, they are immediately struck with a stick, or their necks are pulled down; and then, as if constrained, and uttering their groan of complaint, they bend themselves, put their bellies on the earth, II.4 and remain in this posture till they are loaded and desired to rise. This is the origin of those large callosities on the parts of their bellies, limbs, and knees, which rest on the ground. If over-burdened, they give repeated blows with their heads to the person who oppresses them, and sometimes utter the most lamentable cries.⁕3

They have a very great share of intelligence; and the Arabs assert that they are so extremely sensible of injustice and ill-treatment, that when this is carried too far, the inflictor will not find it easy to escape their vengeance; and that they will retain the remembrance of an injury till an opportunity offers for gratifying their revenge. Eager, however, to express their resentment, they no longer retain any rancour, when once they are satisfied; and it is even sufficient for them to believe they have satisfied their vengeance. Accordingly, when an Arab has excited the rage of a Camel, he throws down his garments in some place near which the animal is to pass, and disposes them in such a manner that they appear to cover a man sleeping under them. The animal recognizes the cloaths, seizes them in his teeth, shakes them with violence, and tramples on them in a rage. When his anger is appeased, he leaves them, and then the owner of the garments may make his appearance without any fear, load, and guide him as he pleases. “I have sometimes seen them, (says M. Sonnini,) weary of the impatience of their riders, II.5 stop short, turn round their long necks to bite them, and utter cries of rage. In these circumstances the man must be careful not to alight, as he would infallibly be torn to pieces: he must also refrain from striking his beast, as that would but increase his fury. Nothing can be done but to have patience, and appease the animal by patting him with the hand, (which frequently requires some time,) when he will resume his way and his pace of himself.”⁕4—Like the Elephant, Camels have their periodical fits of rage, and during these they sometimes have been known to take up a man in their teeth, throw him on the ground, and trample him under their feet.

There is no mode of conveyance so cheap and expeditious as that by Camels. The merchants and other passengers unite in a caravan to prevent the insults and robberies of the Arabs. These caravans are often very numerous, and are always composed of more Camels than men. In these commercial travels their march is not hastened: as the route is often seven or eight hundred leagues, their motions and journies are regulated accordingly. The Camels only walk, and travel thus from ten to twelve leagues a day. Every night they are unloaded, and allowed to pasture at freedom.

When in a rich country, or fertile meadow, they eat, in less than an hour, as much as serves them to ruminate the whole night, and nourish them II.6 during the next day. But they seldom meet with such pastures, neither is this delicate food necessary for them. They seem to prefer wormwood, thistles, nettles, broom, cassia, and other prickly vegetables, to the softest herbage. As long as they find plants to brouze, they easily dispense with water. This faculty of abstaining long from drink proceeds not, however, from habit alone, but is an effect of their structure. Till very lately the Camels have been supposed to possess, independently of the four stomachs common to ruminating animals, a fifth bag, which served them as a reservoir for holding water. From a preparation, however, in the collection of Mr. John Hunter, it appears that this fifth bag never existed but in idea. The second stomach is of very peculiar construction, being formed of numerous cells several inches deep, having their mouths uppermost, and the orifices apparently capable of muscular contraction. When the animal drinks it probably has a power of directing the water into these cells, instead of letting it pass into the first stomach, and when these are filled the rest of the water will go into that stomach. In this manner a quantity of water may be kept separate from the food, serving occasionally to moisten it in its passage to the true stomach, for several days.

When travellers find themselves much in want of water, it is no uncommon thing to kill a Camel for what he contains, which is always sweet and wholesome.—Aristotle says, that the Camel always disturbs the water with its feet before it drinks: II.7 if this be the case, which, it must be confessed, seems very doubtful, it is done to chase away the almost innumerable swarms of insects with which the waters of warm climates abound.

“Of all animals (says the Comte de Buffon) that man has subjugated, the Camels are the most abject slaves. With incredible patience and submission they traverse the burning sands of Africa and Arabia, carrying burthens of amazing weight. The Arabians consider the Camel as a gift sent from heaven, a sacred animal, without whose assistance they could neither subsist, traffic, nor travel. The milk of the Camel is their common food. They also eat its flesh; and of its hair they make garments. In possession of their Camels, the Arabs want nothing, and have nothing to fear. In one day they can perform a journey of fifty leagues into the desart, which cuts off every approach from their enemies. All the armies in the world would perish in pursuit of a troop of Arabs. By the assistance of his Camel, an Arab surmounts all the difficulties of a country which is neither covered with verdure, nor supplied with water. Notwithstanding the vigilance of his neighbours, and the superiority of their strength, he eludes their pursuit, and carries off with impunity all that he ravages from them. When about to undertake a depredatory expedition, an Arab makes his Camels carry both his and their own provisions. When he reaches the confines of the desart, he robs the first passengers who come in his way, pillages the solitary houses, loads his Camels with II.8 the booty, and, if pursued, he accelerates his retreat. On these occasions he displays his own talents as well as those of the animals. He mounts one of the fleetest, conducts the troop, and obliges them to travel day and night, without almost either stopping, eating, or drinking; and, in this manner, he often performs a journey of three hundred leagues in eight days.”⁕5

With a view to his predatory expeditions, the Arab instructs, rears, and exercises his Camels. A few days after their birth he folds their limbs under their belly, forces them to remain on the ground, and in this situation loads them with a tolerably heavy weight, which is never removed but for the purpose of replacing it by a greater. Instead of allowing them to feed at pleasure, and drink when they are thirsty, he begins with regulating their meals, and makes them gradually travel long journies, diminishing at the same time the quantity of their aliment. When they acquire some strength they are trained to the course, and their emulation is excited by the example of horses, which, in time, renders them not only fleet, but more robust than they would otherwise be.—In Egypt their value is, according to their goodness, from two to five hundred livres.

The saddle used by the Arabs is hollowed in the middle, and has at each bow a piece of wood placed upright, or sometimes horizontally, by which the rider keeps himself on his seat. This, with a long pocket, to hold provisions for himself and his beast, II.9 a skin of water for the rider (the animal being otherwise well supplied) and a leather thong, are the whole of the equipage that the Arab traveller stands in need of, and with nothing more than these he is able to cross the desarts.

The pace of the Camel being a high trot, M. Denon says that when he was first mounted on one of these animals he was greatly alarmed lest this swinging motion would have thrown him over its head. He, however, was soon undeceived, for on being once fixed in the saddle he found that he had only to give way to the motion of the beast, and then it was impossible to be more pleasantly seated for a long journey, especially as no attention was requisite to guide the animal, except in making him deviate from his proper direction.—“It was (he continues) entertaining enough, to see us mount our beasts; the Camel, who is so deliberate in all his actions, as soon as the rider leans on his saddle, preparatory to mounting, raises very briskly first on his hind, and then on his fore legs, thus throwing the rider first forward and then backward; and it is, not till the fourth motion that the animal is entirely erect, and the rider finds himself firm in his seat. None of us were able for a long time to resist the first shake, and we had each to laugh at his companions.”⁕6

When the traveller is not in haste, or when he accompanies a caravan, the progress of which is always slow on account of the Camels of burthen, a kind of covered litter is fixed on one of these II.10 animals, in which he is tolerably at his case, and where he may even sleep if he chuses.⁕7

The drivers of the loaded Camels have each a stick, which they use sparingly, if occasion requires; and those who ride, whip their animals with a long strap of leather, at the same time urging them with a clicking of the tongue, the same as the Europeans use to their Horses. It has been asserted by Mr. Pennant and some other writers, that Camels may be made to go more freely by whistling to them; this, however, is a mistake; and the Bedouin Arabs, who own immense numbers of Camels, not only never whistle themselves, but it even gives them pain to hear others whistle.⁕8

The mode in which loaded Camels were made to cross the Nile, attracted the particular attention of Mr. Norden, as extremely singular. A man, he says, swam before, with the bridle of the first Camel in his mouth; the second Camel was tied to the tail of the first, and a third to the tail of the second: another man, sitting on a truss of straw, brought up the rear, and, by his directions, was employed in keeping the second and third Camels in their course.⁕9

It has been attempted, but without success, to introduce Camels into our West India islands. The people were unaccustomed to their habits and manner of feeding; and this, together with the insects called Chigoes,⁕10 insinuating themselves into their soft feet, and producing inflammations, and, at II.11 length, painful ulcers, seem to have rendered them totally unfit for service.⁕11

The flesh of the Camel is dry and hard, but not unpalatable. It is so much esteemed by the inhabitants of Egypt, that, in Cairo and Alexandria, it was, not long ago, forbidden to be sold to the Christians. In Barbary, the tongues are salted and smoked for exportation to Italy and other countries, and they form a very good dish. The hair is an important article of commerce, serving for the fabrication of the tents and carpets of the Arabs; and leather is made of the skin. In the materica medica of China, the different parts of the Camel occupy a conspicuous place: the fat is called the oil of bunches, and the flesh, the milk, the hair, and even their dung, are admitted into the prescriptions of the Chinese physicians.

Synonyms.—Camelus Dromedarius. Linn.—Dromedaire. Buff.—Dromedary. Smellie.—Arabian or One-Bunched Camel. Penn.——Shaw’s Gen. Zool. ii. tab. 166.—Bew. Quad. p. 140.

⁕1 Penn. quad. i. 118.

⁕2 Denon, ii. 169.

⁕3 Buff. Quad.

⁕4 Sonnini, ii. 102.

⁕5 Buff. Quad.

⁕6 Denon, ii. 155.

⁕7 Sonnini, ii. 103.

⁕8 Ibid. ii. 105.

⁕9 Voyage d’Egypte.

⁕10 Pulex Penetrans of Linnæus; see vol. iii.

⁕11 Browne’s Jamaica, 488.

Notes and Corrections: The Arabian Camel

Linnaeus’s Camelus dromedarius still has this binomial.

Aristotle says . . . which, it must be confessed, seems very doubtful
[Welcome to the Age of Enlightenment, when it was finally permis­sible to hint that at least 90% of Aristotle’s pronouncements on natural history were, it must be confessed, very doubtful.]

[Synonyms] Arabian or One-Bunched Camel. Penn.
[The first edition also spells it “Bunch”, so we’ll have to assume the author knew what he was doing.]

[Footnote] Pulex Penetrans of Linnæus; see vol. iii.
See, as he says, the Insects section of Volume III.

engraving of Llama, no later than 1804

Shaw Zoology Vol. II plate 168:


This animal inhabits the lofty mountains of Peru, Chili, and other parts of South America. Its height is about four feet and a half, and its length, from the neck to the tail, near six feet. The usual weight is about 300 pounds. The back is nearly even, and instead of a hunch there the animal has a protuberance on the breast. The head is small, with fine black eyes, and the neck is very long and arched. The general shape is that of a Camel without the dorsal protuberance. In a wild state II.12 the hair of the Lama is long and coarse; but, when domes­ticated, it becomes short and smooth. The colour is white, grey, and russet, disposed in spots.

The Lama is mild, gentle and tractable, and is used in many parts of South America for the carrying of burthens. In the Spanish settlements, before the introduction of mules, it was employed in the ploughing of land. These animals go on their journies with great gravity, and nothing can induce them to change their pace. Like the Camel, they lie down to be loaded; and, when they are wearied, no blows will provoke them to proceed. Their disposition is indeed so capricious, that sometimes when they are struck, they instantly lie down, and caresses only will induce them again to rise. When provoked, they have no other mode of avenging themselves but by spitting, and they have the power of ejecting their saliva to the distance of nine or ten yards: this is of such a corroding quality, that if it falls on the skin, it raises an itching, and causes some degree of inflammation.⁕1

They are employed in transporting the rich ores out of the mines of Potosi. In their journies, they will sometimes walk four or five days successively before they seem desirous of repose; and they then rest spontaneously twenty or thirty hours before they resume their toil. Sometimes, when they are inclined to rest a few minutes only, they bend their knees, and lower their bodies with great care, to II.13 prevent their load from falling off, or being deranged: when, however, they hear their conductor’s whistle, they rise with equal precaution, and proceed on their journey. In going along in the day, they brouze wherever they find herbage, and generally spend the night in chewing the cud. If their masters continue to abuse them after they are determined not to rise, they are said sometimes to kill themselves, in their rage, by striking their heads alternately from right to left on the ground.⁕2

When among their native mountains, they associate in immense herds in the highest and steepest parts, where they frequently climb rocks, along which no man would dare to follow them; and while the rest of a herd feed, one of them is always stationed as a centinel on the point of some rock. When this animal observes any one approach, it gives a kind of neigh, and the herd, taking the alarm, run off with incredible speed. They gallop to a considerable distance, then stop, turn round, and gaze at their pursuers till they come near, and immediately set off again. They out-run all the dogs, so that the inhabitants have no other mode of killing them than by guns.

In the year 1558 one of these animals was brought alive from Peru into Holland.

The flesh is eaten, and is said to be as good as mutton. The wool or hair has a strong and unpleasant smell, but is of considerable use to the Indians, who weave it into cloth. Of the skin, II.14 which is very compact, they make shoes, and the Spaniards use it for their harness.—The growth of the Lama is exceedingly quick; being capable of producing at three years old, and beginning to decay at twelve.

Synonyms.—Camelus Glama. Linn.—Llama. Penn.—Lama. Buff.—Glama. Kerr.——Shaw’s Gen. Zool. ii. tab. 168.

⁕1 Penn. Quad. i. 122.

⁕2 Buff. Quad.

Notes and Corrections: The Lama

Linnaeus’s Camelus glama is now Lama glama.

and the neck is very long and arched.
. invisible

the hair of the Lama is long and coarse
text has course

The Lama is mild, gentle and tractable . . . . Their disposition is indeed so capricious
[Some readers may have trouble reconciling these two assertions.]

transporting the rich ores out of the mines of Potosi
missing word “of” supplied from 1st edition

engraving of Musk, no later than 1804

Bewick Quadrupeds page 103:


The Musk animals are inhabitants, almost exclusively, of India and the Indian isles. Two or three of the species are so exceedingly small as scarcely to equal a Rabbet in size. They are very gentle, but excessively timid: on the appearance of a man they fly with precipitation into the recesses of their native wilds. Like the Camels they have no horns.

In their lower jaw they have eight front-teeth; and in the upper jaw two long tusks, one on each side, which project out of the mouth.

Notes and Corrections: The Musk Tribe

Musk deer are family Moschidae in order Artiodactyla. Don’t confuse them with the musk ox, which in spite of its name is essen­tially a sheep, genus Ovibos (“sheepcow”) in the sheep-and-goats family.

engraving of “Tibetian Musk”, no later than 1804

Shaw Zoology Vol. II plate 171:
Tibetian Musk


The present species, the principal one of the tribe, is destitute of horns. The ears are somewhat large, the neck thick, and the hair on the whole body long, upright, and thick set. Each hair is undulated, the tip ferruginous, the middle black, and the bottom cinereous. The limbs are very slender, and of a full black colour; and the tail is so short as to be scarcely visible. The length of the II.15 male is about three feet, and that of the female about two feet and a quarter; and their average weight is from twenty five to thirty pounds.

The Thibetian Musk is a native of many parts of Asia, and is found throughout the whole kingdom of Thibet. It lives retired among the highest and rudest mountains. Except in autumn, it is a solitary animal; but at this season large flocks collect in order to change their place, being driven southward by the approaching cold. During this migration the peasants lie in wait for them, and either take them in snares, or kill them with arrows and bludgeons. At these times they are often so meagre and languid from hunger and fatigue as to be taken without much difficulty.

They are gentle and timid, having no weapons of defence except their tusks. Their activity is very great, and they are able to take astonishing leaps over the tremendous chasms of the rocks. They tread so lightly on the snow, as scarcely to leave a mark, while the dogs that are used in pursuing them, sink in, and are frequently obliged to desist from the chase. In a state of captivity they live but a very short time. They feed on various vegetables of the mountains.—They are usually taken in snares, or shot by cross bows placed in their tracks, with a string from the trigger for them to tread on and discharge the bow. Sometimes they are shot with bows and arrows. Their chase is exceedingly laborious.

In an oval receptacle about the size of a small egg, is contained the well known drug called musk. II.16 This hangs from the middle of the abdomen, and is peculiar to the male animal. A full-grown male will yield a drachm and a half, and an old one two drachms. The bag is furnished with two small orifices, the one naked and the other covered with oblong hairs. Gmelin tells us, that on squeezing this bag, he forced the musk through the apertures, in the form of a brown fatty matter. The hunters cut off the bag and tie it up for sale, but often adulterate the contents by mixing them with other matter to increase their weight. The musk is even frequently taken entirely out, and a composition of the animal’s blood and liver, (for this drug has much the appearance of clotted blood,) is inserted in its stead: but when the bags are opened the imposition may be immediately detected. The deceit, however, most commonly practised, is that of putting into the bags little bits of lead in order to augment the weight.—The animals should be found in the eastern countries in great numbers, for Tavernier informs us, that in one journey he collected 7673 musk bags.

It is generally asserted, that when the musk bag is first opened, so powerful an odour comes from it, that every person present is obliged to cover his mouth and nose with several folds of linen, and that, notwithstanding this precaution, the blood will frequently gush from the nose. When the musk is fresh, a very small quantity in a confined place is insupportable; it causes giddiness in the head, and hemor­rhages, which have sometimes proved fatal.


Besides being of use on account of the musk they produce, the skins of these animals, in many of the countries where they are found, are used as winter-cloathing. The Russians scrape off the hair, and have a method of preparing the leather so as to render it as soft and shining as silk; this they adopt as part of their summer-dress.

Synonyms.—Moschus Moschiferus. Linn.—Musc. Buffon.—Thibet Musk. Penn.——Shaw’s Gen. Zool. ii. tab. 171.—Bew. Quad. p. 103.

Notes and Corrections: The Thibetian Musk

Linnaeus’s Moschus moschiferus is officially the Siberian musk deer. But the description probably involves a few other Moschus species as well, such as M. leucogaster and M. chrysogaster, both of which live in the Himalayas.

they are often so meagre and languid from hunger and fatigue as to be taken without much difficulty
missing word “as” supplied from 1st edition

engraving of (Eurasian) Elk, no later than 1804

Shaw Zoology Vol. II plate 175:
Elk from Leverian Museum


This is an active tribe, inhabiting principally wild and woody regions. In their contentions, both among each other and with the rest of the brute creation, these animals not only use their horns, but also strike very furiously with their fore-feet. Some of the species are employed by mankind as beasts of draught. The flesh of the whole tribe is wholesome, and that of some of the kinds, under the name of venison, is accounted particularly delicious.

The horns are solid and branched. They are renewed every year; and while young are covered with a skin, which is extremely vascular, and clothed with a fine velvet fur, that dries, shrivels, and falls off when the horns have attained their full size. There are eight front-teeth in the lower-jaw. In general this tribe is destitute of canine-teeth, but sometimes a single one is found on each side in the upper-jaw.

Notes and Corrections: The Deer Tribe

Deer are the Cervidae family of order Artiodactyla.


engraving of (Eurasian) Elk, no later than 1804

Shaw Zoology Vol. II plate 174:


The Elk, or Moose-deer, is found in Europe, America, and Asia, as far as Japan; but it is met with in greatest quantity in the northern parts of both continents, where it frequents the forests. It is often larger than the Horse, both in height and bulk; but the length of the legs, the bulk of the body, the shortness of the neck, and uncommon length of the head and ears, without any appearance of a tail, render its form very awkward. The hair of the male (which far exceeds the female in size), is black at the points, cinereous in the middle, and at the roots perfectly white. That of the female is of a sandy-brown, but whitish under the throat, belly, and flank. The upper-lip is square, very broad, deeply furrowed, and hangs much over the mouth; the nose is broad, and the nostrils extremely large and wide. The horns, which are found only on the males, have no brow-antlers, and the palms are extremely broad. They are shed annually, and some have been seen that weighed upwards of sixty pounds.

The legs of the Elks are so long, and their necks so short, that they cannot graze on level ground, like other animals, but are obliged to brouze the tops of large plants, and the leaves or branches of trees.

In all their actions and attitudes they appear very uncouth, and when disturbed never run, but only II.19 make off in a kind of trot, which the length of their legs enables them to do with great swiftness, and apparently with much ease. In their common walk they lift their feet very high, and they are able, without any difficulty, to step over a gate five feet in height.

Their faculty of hearing is supposed to be more acute than either their sight or scent, which renders it very difficult to kill them in the summer time, and the Indians have then no other method of doing this, but by creeping after them among the trees and bushes, till they get within gun-shot. In winter, when the snow is so hard frozen that the natives can go upon it in their snow-shoes, they are able frequently to run them down, for their slender legs break through the snow at every step, and plunge them up to the belly. They are so tender-footed, and so shortwinded, that a good runner will generally tire them in less than a day; there have been some, however, that have kept the hunters in chase for two days. On these occasions the Indians, in general, take with them nothing more than a knife or bayonet, and a little bag containing implements for lighting a fire. When the poor animals are incapable of further speed, they stand and keep their pursuers at bay with their head and fore-feet; in the use of the latter of which they are so dexterous, that the Indians are generally obliged to lash their knives or bayonets at the end of a long stick, and stab the Elk at a distance.⁕1 Some who have neglected this necessary II.20 precaution, and rashly attempted to rush in upon them, have received very serious blows from their fore-feet.⁕2 When wounded they sometimes become furious, rush boldly on the hunters, and endeavour to tread them down: in this case the men are frequently compelled to leave their outer-garments, (on which the animals wreck their vengeance) and escape into the trees.⁕3

engraving of (Eurasian) Elk, no later than 1804

Bewick Quadrupeds page 108:

In summer the Elks frequent the margins of rivers and lakes, getting into the water in order to avoid the innumerable multitudes of Musquetoes and other flies that pester them during that season. They are often killed by the Indians, while they are crossing rivers, or swimming from the main land to islands. When pursued in this situation they are the most inoffensive of all animals, never making any resistance. And the young ones are so simple that, in North America, Mr. Hearne saw an Indian paddle his canoe up to one of them, and take it by the poll without the least opposition; the poor harmless animal seeming, at the same time, as contented alongside the canoe, as if swimming by the side of its dam, and looking up in the faces of those who were about to become its murderers with the most fearless innocence; using its fore-feet almost every instant to clear its eyes of Musquetoes, which at the time were remarkably numerous.⁕4

Sometimes the Indians assemble in multitudes in their canoes, and form with them a vast crescent towards the shore. Large parties then go into II.21 the woods, surround an extensive tract, let loose their Dogs, and press, with loud hallooings, towards the water. The alarmed animals fly before the hunters, and plunge into the lake, where they are killed with lances or clubs by the persons prepared for their reception in the canoes.

The Indians also sometimes inclose a large piece of ground with stakes, woven with branches of trees, which form two sides of a triangle, the bottom opening into a second inclosure completely triangular. In the opening are hung snares made of slips of raw hides. The Deer are driven by a party in the woods, into the first inclosure, and some endeavouring to force their way into the farthest triangle, are caught in the snares by their neck or horns: and those which escape the snares, and pass the opening, meet their fate from the arrows of the hunters directed at them from all quarters.⁕5

The Elks are the easiest to tame and domesticate of any of the Deer kind. They will follow their keeper to any distance from home, and at his call return with him, without the least trouble, and without ever attempting to deviate from the path.

An Indian had, at the Factory at Hudson’s Bay, in the year 1777, two of them so tame, that when he was on his passage to Prince of Wales’s Fort, in a canoe, they always followed him along the bank of the river; and at night or on any other occasion, II.22 when he landed, they generally came and fondled on him, in the same manner as the most domestic animal would have done, and never offered to stray from the tents. He did not, however, possess these animals long, for he one day crossed a deep bay in one of the lakes, in order to save a very circuitous route along its bank, and expected the creatures would, as usual, follow him round, but unfortunately at night they did not arrive; and as the howling of Wolves was heard in the quarter where they were, it is supposed they had been devoured by them, for they were never afterwards seen.⁕6

M. D’Obsonville mentions his having in his possession, while in the East-Indies, an animal which he calls a Moose-deer. From the warmth of that climate it seems very doubtful whether it was not some other species, but as we have no satisfactory proof of its being such, I shall recite his account. “I procured it (he says) when only ten or twelve days old, and had it for about two years, without ever tying it up. I even let it run abroad, and sometimes amused myself with making it draw in the yard, or carry little burthens. It always came when called, and I found few signs of impatience, except when it was not allowed to remain near me. When I departed from the island of Sumatra, I gave it to Mr. Law of Lauriston, the governor-general, an intimate friend. This gentleman, not having an opportunity of keeping it about his person, as I had done, sent it to his country house. Here being kept alone, and II.23 chained in a confined corner, it presently became so furious as not to be approached. Even the person who every day brought its food was obliged to leave this at a distance. After some months absence I returned: it knew me afar off, and as I observed the efforts it made to get at me, I ran to meet it; and never shall I forget the impression which the caresses and transports of this faithful animal made upon me. A friend, who was present at the meeting, could not forbear sympathizing with me, and partaking of my feelings.”⁕7

An attempt has been made at New York to render the Elk useful in agricultural labours, which has been attended with success. Mr. Chancellor Livingston, the president of the New York Society, had two of these animals broken to the harness. Though they had been only twice bitted, and were two years old, they appeared to be equally docile with Colts of the same age. They applied their whole strength to the draught, and went on a steady pace. Their mouths appeared very tender, and some care was necessary to prevent them from being injured by the bit. If, upon trial, it is found that the Elks can be rendered useful in harness, it will be a considerable acquisition to the Americans. As their trot is very rapid, it is probable that, in light carriages, they would out-travel the Horse. They are also less delicate in their food than that animal, becoming fat on hay only. They are long-lived, and more productive than any beast of burthen.⁕8


The Indians have a superstitious notion that there is an Elk of such an enormous size, that eight feet in depth of snow is no impediment to its walking, that its hide is proof against weapons of every description; and that it has an arm growing out of its shoulder subservient to the same purposes as ours. They say also that this imaginary animal is attended by a vast number of other Elks, which form his court, and render him every service that a sovereign can require of them.⁕9—The Indians esteem the Elk an animal of good omen, and believe that to dream of it often is an indication of long life.

When suddenly roused, and it is endeavouring to make its escape, the Elk is observed at times to fall down, as if deprived for some moments of motion. Whether this be owing, as frequently has been imagined, to an epileptic fit, or whether it merely arises from fear (as is sometimes observed to be the case in horses,) is not perhaps easy to determine. The fact, however, is too well authenticated to admit our doubting it. This has given rise to the popular superstition of attributing to the hoofs the virtue of an anti-epileptic medicine; and the Indians even still imagine that the Elk has the power of curing itself of its own disorder, or of preventing an approaching fit, by scratching its ear with the hoof till it draws blood.⁕10

The flesh of the Elk is good, but the grain is coarse, and it is much tougher than any other kind of venison. Mr. Hearne remarks, that the livers of II.25 these animals are never sound; and that like the other Deer, they have no gall. According to Mr. Pennant, the tongues are excellent, and the nose so like marrow as to be esteemed the greatest delicacy produced in Canada.⁕11 Their skins, when dressed by the natives, make excellent tent-covers and shoe-leather. They are of very unequal thickness, but some of the Indian women, who are acquainted with the manufacture of them, render them by scraping as even as a piece of thick cloth; and, when well-dressed, they are very soft. The hair of the hams, which is of great length, is used in stuffing mattrasses and saddles.

The females have from one to three young at a time, and generally produce them towards the latter end of April, or about the beginning of May.⁕12

Synonyms.—Cervus alces. Linn.—Mose Deer. Dudley.—Moose Elk. Penn.—Elan. Buffon.——Shaw’s Gen. Zool. ii. tab. 174-175.—Bew. Quad. p. 108.

⁕1 They will kill a Dog, and sometimes even a Wolf, by a single blow with one of their fore-feet.

⁕2 Hearne, 255.

⁕3 Charlevoix, i. p. 199.

⁕4 Hearne, 256.

⁕5 Pen. Arct. Zool. i. 19.

⁕6 Hearne, 260.

⁕7 D’Obsonville, 104.

⁕8 Trans. of the New York Society, part iii.

⁕9 Charlevoix, i. 198.

⁕10 Shaw’s Mus. Lev. 33.

⁕11 Hearne, 260.—Penn. Arct. Zool. i. 19.

⁕12 Charlevoix, i. 198.—Hearne.—Pennant.

Notes and Corrections: The Elk

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Just to confuse everyone, there are two entirely different elks. This chapter is about the Eurasian elk, Alces alces—Linnaeus’s Cervus alces—and the moose, Alces americanus. We will meet the other kind of elk later.

on which the animals wreck their vengeance
text unchanged

in order to save a very circuitous route along its bank
text has rout

M. D’Obsonville mentions his having in his possession, while in the East-Indies, an animal which he calls a Moose-deer.
[It would be tempting to say that Bingley misread his source and it’s really a mouse-deer, genus Tragulus of family Tragulidae, which lives all over Southeast Asia, including Sumatra. But in fact I don’t see the term “moose-deer” in D’Obsonville at all; he just calls it an elk (élan).]

engraving of “Rein Deer”, no later than 1804

Shaw Zoology Vol. II plate 176:
Rein Deer


The Rein-deer is found in most of the northern regions both of Europe, Asia, and America. Its general height is about four feet and a half. The colour is brown above and white beneath, but as the animal advances in age it often becomes of a greyish white. The space about the eyes is always black. The hair on the under part of the neck is much longer than the rest. The hoofs are long, large, and black. Both sexes are furnished with horns, but those of the male are much the largest. These are II.26 long, slender, and branched; furnished with brow-antlers, having widely expanded and palmated tips, directed forwards.

To the Laplanders this animal is the substitute for the Horse, the Cow, the Goat, and the Sheep; and is their only wealth. The milk affords them cheese; the flesh, food; the skin, cloathing; the tendons, bow-strings, and, when split, thread; the horns, glue; and the bones, spoons. During the winter the Rein-deer supplies the want of a Horse, and draws their sledges with amazing swiftness over the frozen lakes and rivers, or over the snow, which at that time covers the whole country.

A rich Laplander is often possessed of a herd of more than a thousand Rein-deer. In autumn these seek the highest hills to avoid the Lapland Gad-fly,⁕1 which, at that time, deposits its eggs in their skin: it is the pest of these animals, and numbers die that are thus visited. The moment a single Fly appears, the whole herd instantly perceive it; they fling up their heads, toss about their horns, and at once attempt to fly for shelter amidst the snows of the loftiest Alps. In summer they feed on several plants; but during winter on the Rein-deer liverwort,⁕2 to get at which, as it lays far beneath the snow, they dig with their feet and antlers. It is, therefore, a most kind dispensation of Providence, that in the Deer, the only tribe living among snows, most of II.27 the females should be furnished with horns, the more readily to provide themselves with food. But besides this there is another lichen, that hangs on the Lapland pines, which affords food to the Rein-deer, when the snows are too deep to allow them to reach their usual food. When the snow is impenetrably frozen, the boors frequently cut down some thousands of these moss-clad trees, for the sustenance of their herds.⁕3

engraving of Rein-Deer, no later than 1804

Bewick Quadrupeds page 114:

During the summer the animals lose their vigour and swiftness, and are soon overcome by the heat. Mr. Consett saw them reclining in the woods, and apparently so enfeebled, as scarcely to be able to move out of the way. When thus oppressed they frequently make a noise like the grunting of a Hog.⁕4

Besides the Gad-fly the Rein-deer have several other enemies, the chief of which are Bears and Wolves; but unless taken by surprize, or when their horns are newly shed, they are frequently able to defend themselves against the attacks of these animals, and even entirely drive them off. In this work they use their fore-feet as well as their horns; and with these they strike with astonishing force. They are also subject to diseases, which sometimes sweep off whole herds.⁕5

With a couple of Rein-deer yoked to a sledge, it is said that a Laplander is able to travel 112 English miles in a day. The Laplanders say, that they can thrice change the horizon in twenty-four hours; that is, they can three times pass that object, which, II.28 at their setting out, they saw at the greatest distance they could reach with their eyes.⁕6

The sledge is formed somewhat like a boat, having a back board in it for the rider to lean against. Its bottom is convex, and none but a person well practised in such a mode of travelling, could preserve himself a moment from oversetting. It is square behind, but projects to a point before. The traveller is tied in it like a child in a cradle. He manages his carriage with great dexterity, by means of a stick with a flat end, to remove stones or any obstructions he may meet with. To the peak in front a thong is fixed, which yokes the Rein-deer. The bit is a piece of narrow leather tacked to the reins of the bridle over the animal’s head and neck; and from the breast a leather-strap, passing under the belly, is fastened to the fore-part of the sledge, which serves instead of shafts. The sledge, which is extremely light, is balanced by a careful poise of the body and hands.⁕7 The person in the sledge drives the animal by means of a goad, and encourages it with his voice: for this purpose it is that the love-songs of the Laplanders are in general composed. Among these are found some beautiful specimens of the poetry of a rude and uncivilized nation: two or three of them have appeared in an English dress, and have met with the admiration they so justly deserve. One less known than the rest I shall insert from Mr. Consett’s tour in Lapland.

The snows are dissolving on Tornao’s rude side,

And the ice of Lulhea flows down the dark tide:


Thy dark stream, oh Lulhea, flows freely away,

And the snow-drop unfolds her pale beauties to day.

Far off the keen terrors of winter retire,

And the north’s dancing streamers relinquish their fire,

The sun’s genial beams swell the bud on the tree,

And Enna chaunts forth her wild warblings with glee.

The Rein-deer, unharnessed, in freedom shall play,

And safely o’er Odon’s steep precipice stray;

The Wolf to the forest’s recesses shall fly,

And howl to the moon as she glides through the sky.

Then haste, my fair Luah, oh! haste to the grove,

And pass the sweet season in rapture and love;

In youth let our bosoms in extacy glow,

For the winter of life ne’er a transport can know.

Thus does Providence, who always finds a substitute where full enjoyment is denied, unfold a ray of contentment to the heart of the Laplander. Happy would it be for more polished society if, in the midst of their enter­tainments, they could meet with the same consolation! If the native of Lapland possesses not his flocks and his herds, if he sees not around him vallies smiling with corn, nor his rich pastures and fine meadows, of this at least he is certain, that he has no occasion for them. Thomson, after describing the “martial hordes” of the north, beautifully contrasts with these the simple and uncorrupted manners of this rude but harmless people:

“Not such the sons of Lapland: wisely they

Despise th’ insensate barbarous trade of war;

They ask no more than simple nature gives,

They love their mountains, and enjoy their storms.

No false desires, no pride-created wants,

Disturb the peaceful current of their time;


And thro’ the restless ever-tortured maze,

Of pleasure or ambition, bid it rage.

Their Rein-deer form their riches; these their tents,

Their robes, their beds, and all their homely wealth,

Supply, their wholesome fare and cheerful cups:

Obsequious at their call, the docile tribe

Yield to the sledge their necks, and whirl them swift

O’er hill and dale, heap’d into one expanse

Of marbled snow, as far as eye can sweep,

With the blue crust of ice unbounded glaz’d.”

There is a breed betwixt the wild buck Rein-deer and the tame doe, called by the Laplanders Kaffaigiar, which is of considerable use in long journies, being much taller and more strong than the tame ones. These, however, retain much natural wildness, and often prove refractory. They sometimes not only refuse to obey their master, but turn against him, and strike at him so furiously with their feet, that his only resource is to cover himself with his sledge, on which the enraged animal vents its fury. The tame Deer, on the contrary, are mild, active, and submissive.⁕8

The Rein-deer are able to swim with such incredible force and swiftness across the widest rivers, that a boat with oars can scarcely keep pace with them. They swim with their bodies half above water, and will pass a river or a lake even in the coldest weather.

In Siberia, where they are extremely numerous, they meet with a more rough and savage usage than their fellows experience from the harmless Laplanders. II.31 In the woody districts, where springes, fire-arms, and spring-guns can be applied, the natives resort to such for either the taking or killing of this harmless animal; but in open plains, where these contrivances would fail, many other means have been invented. Those adopted by the Samoydes seem the most uncommon.

These people go out in parties for the purpose of killing Rein-deer, and when they perceive a herd, they station the tame Rein-deer that they bring with them on an elevated plain to the windward. Then, from this place to as near the savage herd as they can venture to come without alarming them, they put into the snow long sticks, at small distances, and to each of them tie a goose’s wing, which flutters about freely with the wind. This being done, they plant similar sticks and pinions on the other side, under the wind; and the Rein-deer, being busy with their pasture under the snow, and being chiefly guided by their scent, generally observe nothing of these preparations. When every thing is ready, the hunters separate; some hide themselves behind their snowy intrenchments, while others lie with bows and other weapons in the open air to the leeward, and others again go to a distance, and drive, by a circuitous route, the game between the terrific pinions. Scared by these, the wild Rein-deer run directly to the tame ones, which are standing by the sledges; but here they are alarmed by the concealed hunters, who drive them to their companions that are provided with arms, and these immediately commit terrible slaughter among them.


If it happen that a savage herd are feeding near a mountain, the hunters hang up all their clothes on stakes about the foot of the mountain, making also with the same frightful pinions a broad passage towards it, into which they drive the game. As soon as they are come into this path, the women go with their sledges directly across the farther end of it, shutting the Rein-deer in, who immediately run round the mountain, and at every turn are saluted by a shot from the hunters.

On these occasions it is necessary that a number of people should be present. The Samoydes, therefore, have recourse to other inventions to deceive the caution of these animals. The marksman, for example, goes, clad in Rein-deer skins, stooping in the middle of five or six Rein-deer trained for the purpose, which he leads by a rope fastened to his girdle, and he is enabled by this means to approach very near the wild herd without being betrayed.

In autumn, which is the rutting season, the hunters pick out a strong and vigorous buck from their droves, to whose antlers they tie nooses, and then turn him loose among the wild herd. The wild Stag, on observing a strange rival, immediately rushes on to fight him. During the combat, he so entangles his antlers in the loops, that when he descries the hunter, and strives to escape, the tame buck strikes his head to the ground, and there pins his antagonist fast till the marksman can kill him.⁕9

All persons who have described the Rein-deer, II.33 have taken notice of a cracking noise which they make when they move their legs. This has been attributed to the animals separating and afterwards bringing together the divisions of their hoofs; which, as they inhabit a country generally covered with snow, are therefore admirably adapted to the surface they have most commonly to tread.—The under part is entirely covered with hair, in the same manner that the claw of the Ptarmigan is with feathery bristles, which is almost the only bird that can endure the rigour of the same climate.

The hoofs, however, are not only thus protected, but the same necessity which obliges the Laplanders to use snow shoes, makes the extraordinary width of the Reins’ hoofs to be equally convenient in passing over snow, as it prevents their sinking too deep, which they would be subject to eternally, did the weight of their body rest only on a small point. This quadruped has, therefore, an instinct to use a hoof of such a form in a still more advantageous manner, by separating it when the foot is to touch the ground, so as to cover a larger surface of snow.—The instant, however, that the leg of the animal is raised, the width of the foot becomes inconvenient, especially when the Rein is going against the wind; the hoof, therefore, is then immediately contracted, and the collision of the parts occasions the snapping which is heard upon every motion of the animal.⁕10

Pontoppidan tells us, that “the Rein-deer has over his eye-lids a kind of skin, through which it II.34 peeps, when otherwise, in hard showers of snow, it would be obliged to shut its eyes entirely.”⁕11 He, however, seems to have mistaken this for, probably, a breathing-hole, somewhat similar to that near the eye of the Fallow-deer, and some of the species of Antelope.

The Rein-deer cast their horns annually. The rudiments of the new horns are at first covered with a kind of woolly membrane, which the creature, after some time, rubs off. They also change their hair every spring, during which time they are very lean, and of little use.⁕12—The female begins to breed at the age of two years, goes with young eight months, and generally brings forth two at a time. The fondness of the dam for her offspring is very remarkable. They follow her two or three years, but do not acquire their full strength until four. It is at this age that they are trained to labour; and they continue serviceable for four or five years. They very seldom outlive the age of fifteen or sixteen.

Rein-deer were formerly unknown in Iceland, but by order of governor Thodal, thirteen head were sent over from Norway in the year 1770, of which ten died from want of proper attention before they reached the place. The three remaining ones throve exceedingly well, and in the first two years had several fawns. They have there their proper food, for Iceland abounds with all those mosses, to which these animals have so great a partiality.⁕13

Sir Henry George Liddell, bart. brought with him II.35 from Lapland, in the year 1786, five Rein-deer to England, which he kept at his seat of Eslington-castle in Northumberland. They bred, and there was every prospect that they would succeed and even become prolific;⁕14 but, unfortunately, some of them were killed, and the others died in consequence of a disorder similar to that called the rot in sheep, supposed to have been occasioned by the richness of the grass on which they were fed.⁕15

Synonyms.—Cervus tarandus. Linn.—Renne Buffon.—Rein Deer. Penn.——Shaw’s Gen. Zool. ii. tab. 176.—Bew. Quad. p. 114.

⁕1 Oestrus tarandi of Linnæus. The skins of the Rein-deer, after they are killed, are sometimes found to be as full of holes as a sieve, from the operations of these insects.

⁕2 Lichen Rangiferinus of Linnæus.

⁕3 Consett, 125.

⁕4 Consett, 63.—Scheffer, 330.

⁕5 Scheffer.

⁕6 Scheffer, 275.

⁕7 Consett, 67.—Scheffer, 273.

⁕8 Scheffer, 325.

⁕9 Tooke.

⁕10 Barrington’s Miscellanies.

⁕11 Pontoppidan, part 2. p. 11.

⁕12 Crantz, i. 71.

⁕13 Von Troil, 141.

⁕14 Consett, 152.

⁕15 Bew. Quad. 120.

Notes and Corrections: The Rein Deer

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Linnaeus’ Cervus tarandus is now Rangifer tarandus, with several subspecies including reindeer and caribou (R. tarandus caribou).

Shaw’s two illustrations suggest that one of his sources had seen a reindeer . . . and the other hadn’t.

The snows are dissolving
[This passage made such an impression on Isabella Beeton, she included four lines of it—beginning with “The reindeer unhar­ness’d”—in the Venison section of the Book of Household Management. To repeat what I said there:

Though not as celebrated as Ossian, this is another of the great literary hoaxes of the late 18th century. The “song”—really a poem, since there is no associ­ated melody—first appeared in the Newcastle Courant in 1786, signed “T. S.” (since identified as George Pickering, who also wrote “Donocht Head”, the poem Scott wished he’d written). Before long, the poem was attri­buted to Sir Matthew White Ridley (Bt.). A few years later it picked up its permanent association with Matthew Consett: A Tour Through Sweden, Swedish-Lapland, Finland and Denmark (1789 and later), pg. 63ff. From there, it was widely republished—sometimes attributed to Consett, sometimes with no attribution. ]

Not such the sons of Lapland
[As advertised, it’s Thomson’s Seasons again: Winter 843-858.]

his only resource is to cover himself with his sledge
[While working on the present book, I came across the same usage—“resource” for expected “recourse”—in a considerably newer book, Dickens’ The Old Curiosity Shop. Repeatedly, in fact.]

Those adopted by the Samoydes
[This spelling is used consistently.]

thirteen head were sent over from Norway in the year 1770
[Between 1771 and 1787, four groups of reindeer were introduced into Iceland. Domestication never panned out, but reindeer live wild in East Iceland.]

[Synonyms] Shaw’s Gen. Zool. ii. tab. 176
text has 175

engraving of Stag, no later than 1804

Shaw Zoology Vol. II plate 177:


The elegance and beauty of this animal have always obtained for it much admiration. It is a native of many parts of Europe, and is supposed to have been originally introduced into this country from France. It was, however, about a century back, to be found in a state of nature in many of the wild and mountainous parts of Wales. Leland, speaking of the mountains about Snowdon, says, “In them ys very little corne, except oats in some places, and a litle barley, but scantly rye; if there were, the Deer would destroy it.” And I am informed that Stags are sometimes seen in a wild state, even now, in the forest of Exmore, in Devonshire, and the woods on the Tamar. There is here an annual Stag-hunt under the patronage of the Ackland family. Mr. Stackhouse of Pendarvis, in Cornwall, informs me that he once saw a wild Hind that had II.36 been killed near Launceston. Stags are also still occasionally found in the highlands of Scotland.

These animals live in herds of many females and their young headed by one male. They frequent the forests, brouzing on grass, or the leaves and buds of various trees.

The males only have horns, and these are always shed in the spring. During the first year, the young animals have no horns, but only a rough excrescence in the place of them, covered with a thin hairy skin. In their second year the horns are strait, and without branches; the following year they acquire two antlers, or branches; and they generally have an additional one every year till their sixth, from which time the animals may be considered at maturity.—When the Stag sheds his horns, he seeks the most retired places, and feeds only during the night; for otherwise the flies settle on the soft skin of the young horns, which is exquisitely tender, and keep the animal in continual torture. The place of the horn is for a little time occupied by a soft tumour, full of blood, and (as in others of the same genus) covered with a downy substance, like velvet. This increases daily, and, at length, the antlers shoot out: from this time a few days completes the whole.—The horns of the Stags are round through their whole length, which constitutes a distinguishing characteristic betwixt them and the horns of the Fallow-deer, the latter, where they branch off, being flatted for the breadth of more than a hand.

engraving of Stag or “Red-Deer”, no later than 1804

Bewick Quadrupeds page 122:

The senses of smelling and hearing are in this animal remarkably acute. On the slightest alarm he II.37 lifts his head and erects his ears, standing for a few minutes, as if in a listening posture. Whenever he ventures upon unknown ground, or quits his native coverts, he first stops at the skirts of the plain to examine all around; he next turns against the wind, to examine by the smell if there be any enemy approaching. If a person happens to whistle or call out at a distance, the Stag is seen to stop short, in his slow measured pace, and gaze upon the stranger with a kind of awkward admiration: if the cunning animal perceives neither dogs nor fire-arms preparing against him, he goes slowly forward, unconcerned, and does not attempt to run away. Man is not the enemy he is most afraid of; on the contrary, he seems to be delighted with the sound of the shepherd’s pipe; and the hunters sometimes make use of that instrument to allure the animal to its destruction.

When a herd of Stags have to pass a pretty wide river, which they are able to do without much difficulty, they are said to rest their heads on each other’s rumps. When the leader is fatigued, he retreats to the rear, and suffers the next in succession to take his place. They swim with so much ease, that a male has been known to venture out to sea in search of females, and to cross from one island to another, although at a distance of some leagues.⁕1

The Stag is very delicate in the choice of his pasture. When he has eaten a sufficiency, he retires to the covert of some thicket to chew the cud in II.38 security. His rumination, however, seems performed with much greater difficulty than that of the cow or sheep; for the grass is not returned from the first stomach without much straining, and a kind of hiccup, which is easily perceived during the whole time it continues. This may proceed from the greater length of his neck, and the narrowness of the passage, all the cow and sheep-kind having theirs much wider.

This animal’s voice becomes stronger, louder and more tremulous as he advances in age; and, during the rutting time, it is even terrible. At this season he seems so transported with passion, that nothing can obstruct his fury; and, when at bay, he keeps off the dogs with great intrepidity. Some years ago the Duke of Cumberland caused a Tiger and a Stag to be inclosed in the same area; and the Stag made so bold and furious a defence, that the Tiger was at last obliged to give up the contest.

The natives of Louisiana, hunt these animals both for food, and as an amusement. This is sometimes done in companies, and sometimes alone. The hunter, who goes out alone, furnishes himself with the dried head of a Stag, having part of the skin of the neck attached to it. This, a gun, and a branch of a tree, or piece of a bush, are all that he has need of. When he comes near any of the wild Deer, hiding himself behind the bush, which he carries in his hand, he approaches very gently till he is within shot. If the animal appears alarmed, the hunter immediately counterfeits the Deers’ call to each other, and holds the head just above the bush; then lowering it towards II.39 the ground, and lifting it by turns, he so deceives the Stag with the appearance of a companion, that he seldom fails to come towards it, in which case the hunter fires into the hollow of his shoulder, and lays him dead on the spot.

When the hunters go in large parties, they form a wide crescent round one of these animals, the points of which may be half a mile asunder. Some of them approach towards the Stag, which runs, affrighted, to the other side, when finding them on that part advancing, he immediately rushes back again. Thus he is driven from side to side, the crescent closing into a circle, and gradually approaching, till at length he is so much exhausted as no longer to be able to stand against them, but quietly submits to be taken alive. It sometimes happens, however, that he has sufficient strength left to stand at bay, in which case he is seized from behind, but seldom in this case before some one is wounded. This mode of hunting is merely adopted as a recreation, and is called “the dance of the Deer.”⁕2

We have a most animated description of the hunting of this beautiful animal in our own island: a pursuit that reflects disgrace on a country, which boasts over the world its civilization and humanity. For the untutored Indian of America we may plead the want of knowing better, but we have not the same apology for an Englishman and a Christian.

The Stag, too, singled from the herd, where long

He rang’d, the branching monarch of the shades,


Before the tempest drives. At first, in speed

He, sprightly, puts his faith; and, rous’d by fear,

Gives all his swift, aërial soul to flight.

Against the breeze he darts, that way the more

To leave the lessening murderous cry behind.

Deception short! though fleeter than the winds

Blown o’er the keen air’d mountains by the north,

He bursts the thickets, glances through the glades,

And plunges deep into the wildest wood.

If slow, yet sure adhesive to the track,

Hot streaming, up behind him come again

Th’ inhuman route, and from the shady depth

Expel him, circling through his ev’ry shift.

He sweeps the forest oft; and sobbing sees

The glades, mild opening to the golden day;

Where, in kind contest, with his butting friends

He wont to struggle, or his loves enjoy.

Oft in the full-descending flood he tries

To lose the scent, and lave his burning sides;

Oft seeks the herd; the watchful herd, alarm’d,

With selfish care avoid a brother’s woe.

What shall he do? His once so vivid nerves,

So full of buoyant spirit, now no more

Inspire the course; but fainting breathless toil,

Sick, seizes on his heart; he stands at bay;

And puts his last, weak refuge, in despair.

The big round tears run down his dappled face;

He groans in anguish; while the growling pack,

Blood-happy, hang at his fair-jutting chest,

And mark his beauteous chequer’d sides with gore.

The Highland Chiefs of former days used to hunt these animals with all the magnificence of Eastern monarchs. They sometimes assembled four or five thousand of their clan, who drove the Deer into toils, or to the station where the lairds had placed themselves: but as this was frequently made only a II.41 pretence to collect their vassals for rebellious purposes, an act of parliament was passed, which prohibited any assemblages of this nature.⁕3

Much has frequently been said of the extreme long life of the Stag, and many wonderful stories have been related by naturalists respecting it; but there is great reason for supposing that this animal does not often reach the age of fifty years.

The females generally bring forth only one young one at a time, and this about the latter end of May or beginning of June. They take care to hide their young in the most obscure thickets, for almost every creature is then a formidable enemy: the Eagle, the Falcon, the Osprey, the Wolf, the Dog, and all the rapacious family of the Cat-kind, are in continual employment to find out the retreat. But, what seems most unnatural, the Stag himself is a professed enemy, and the female is obliged to use all her arts to conceal her young one from him, as from the most dangerous of her pursuers. At this season, therefore, the courage of the male seems transferred to the female; she defends it against her less formidable opponents by force; and, when pursued by the hunter, she even offers herself, to mislead him from the principal object of her concern: she will fly before the hounds for many hours, and will then return to her young, whose life she has thus preserved at the hazard of her own.

The flesh of the Stag is a palatable food, and the skin is serviceable for various purposes. The horns, II.42 when full grown, are solid, and used for the making of knife-handles, &c. From these the salt of hartshorn is extracted.—The greatest known weight of a British Stag was three hundred and fourteen pounds, exclusive of the entrails, head, and skin.

Synonyms.—Cervus elaphus. Linn.—Cerf, Biche, et Faon. Buff.—Red Deer, Hart, or Stag. Penn.——Shaw’s Gen. Zool. ii. tab. 177.—Bew. Quad. p. 122.

⁕1 Pontoppidan, part 2. p. 9.—Church.

⁕2 Du Pratz, 256.

⁕3 Penn. Brit. Zool. i. 45.

Notes and Corrections: The Stag

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Cervus elaphus (“deer deer” in two languages) still has that name. This is the “red deer”, otherwise known as the (American) elk or wapiti, not to be confused with the moose or Eurasian elk (genus Alces) from earlier in the book. As deer go, the two kinds of elk are only distantly related: moose are in subfamily Capreolinae, while red deer are in subfamily Cervinae.

the hunter immediately counterfeits the Deers’ call to each other
punctuation unchanged

For the untutored Indian of America we may plead the want of knowing better
[Or, in the alternative, we may plead the need to eat.]

The Stag, too, singled from the herd
[Thomson’s Seasons: Autumn 426-457]

engraving of Fallow Deer, no later than 1804

Shaw Zoology Vol. II plate 178:
Fallow Deer


The Fallow Deer is smaller than the Stag, of a brownish bay colour, whitish beneath, on the insides of the limbs, and beneath the tail. The horns, which are peculiar to the male, are very different from those of the Stag: they are not branched, but are broader towards the upper part, and divided into processes down the outside. A simple antler rises from the base of each, and a similar one at some distance from the first. In its general form the Fallow Deer greatly resembles the Stag.

engraving of Fallow Doe, no later than 1804

Shaw Zoology Vol. II plate 179:
Doe or female Fallow Deer

These animals associate in herds, which sometimes divide into two parties, and maintain obstinate battles for the possession of some favourite part of the park: each party has its leader, which is always the oldest and strongest of the flock. They attack in regular order of battle: they fight with courage, and mutually support each other; they retire, they rally, and seldom give up after one defeat. The combat is frequently renewed for many days together; till, after several defeats, the weaker party is obliged to give way, and leave the conquerors in possession of the object of their contention.

engraving of Fallow Deer, no later than 1804

Bewick Quadrupeds page 129:


The Fallow Deer is easily tamed, and it feeds upon a variety of vegetables which the Stag refuses. The female goes with young eight months, and produces one, sometimes two, and rarely three, at a time. These arrive at perfection in three years, and live to about the age of twenty.—When these animals drink, they plunge their noses, like some horses, very deep under water, and continue them in that situation for a considerable time; but, to obviate any inconvenience, says that observing naturalist, the Rev. Mr. White, in his Natural History of Selborne, they can open two vents, one at the inner corner of each eye, which have a communication with the nose. Here seems to be an extraordinary provision of nature worthy of our attention; for it appears as if these creatures would not be suffocated, though both their mouths and nostrils were stopped. This curious formation of the head may be of singular service to beasts of chase, by affording them free respiration; and no doubt these additional nostrils are thrown open when they are hard run.—To this account, which was addressed in a letter to Mr. Pennant, that gentleman has thus replied: “I was much surprised to find in the Antelope something analogous to what you mention as so remarkable in Deer. This animal also has a long slit beneath each eye, which can be opened and shut at pleasure. On holding an orange to one, the creature made the same use of those orifices as of his nostrils; applying them to the fruit, and seeming to smell it through them.”

Synonyms.—Cervus Dama. Linn.—Dama et Dein. Buff.—Fallow Deer. Penn.——Shaw’s Gen. Zool. ii. tab. 178, 179.—Bew. Quad. p. 129.

Notes and Corrections: The Fallow Deer

Cervus dama is now Dama dama, a single-species genus in the same subfamily as Cervus. They are native only to Europe, but have been introduced almost everywhere else on the planet.

engraving of Giraffe, no later than 1804

Shaw Zoology Vol. II plate 181:



In this tribe, of which but a single species has been hitherto discovered, the horns are simple, covered with skin, blunt at the ends, and each terminated by a tuft of black hair. In the lower jaw there are eight broad and thin front-teeth, the outermost of which on each side are each deeply divided into two lobes.

This animal, although nearly allied both to the Deer and Antelope tribes, is so remarkable in its structure, as, in an artificial system at least, to require a distinct classification.

Notes and Corrections: The Giraffe Tribe

but a single species has been hitherto discovered
[Until recently there was just one giraffe, with nine subspecies. As of 2016 there are four, still with several subspecies. The Giraffidae family also includes okapis (genus Okapia), which Bingley and his sources probably hadn’t heard of.]

engraving of Head of Giraffe, no later than 1804

Shaw Zoology Vol. II plate 182:
Head of Giraffe


This extremely singular quadruped is never met with in a wild state but in the interior parts of Africa, and even there it has been but seldom seen by European travellers. Its head bears a considerable resemblance to that of the Horse, but is furnished with erect horns, (covered with a hairy skin) about six inches long: these are blunt, as though cut off at the ends, and each tufted with a brush of coarse black hairs. The neck is very long, thin, and erect, and has on the ridge a short erect mane, which extends along the back nearly to the origin of the tail. The shoulders are very deep, which has given rise to the vulgar error that the fore-legs are longer than the hinder-ones, a circumstance that proves on examination II.45 to be by no means true. When they stand with their head and neck perfectly erect, many of the Giraffes measure sixteen or eighteen feet, from the hoof to the end of the horns. In their native wilds their singular form gives them, at a distance, the appearance of decayed trees, and this is not a little aided by their colour, which is a reddish white, marked with numerous large rusty spots.

They are of a mild and timid disposition. When pursued, they trot so fast, that even a good horse is scarcely able to keep pace with them, and they continue their course for a long time without requiring rest. When they leap, they lift first the fore-legs, and then the hinder ones, in the manner of a Horse whose fore-legs are tied together. Their general position, except when grazing, is with the head and neck erect. They feed principally on the leaves of trees, and particularly on those of a peculiar species of Mimosa, common in the country where they are found, to which the extreme length of their legs and neck admirably adapt them. When they feed from the ground, they are under the necessity of dividing their fore-legs to a considerable distance. In preparing to lie down, they kneel like the Camel.

It has been generally supposed that the Giraffe possessed neither the power nor the strength to defend itself against the attacks of other animals: this, however, seems to be unfounded, for M. le Vaillant has asserted, that “by its kicks it frequently wearies, discourages, and distances even the Lion.” The utility of the horns appears to be hitherto unknown; II.46 this writer says, that they are not used as weapons of defence.⁕1

The Giraffe is never seen near the coasts of Africa, confining itself entirely to the interior recesses of the forests, whence it is never taken alive except when young. From divers accounts that have been left to us, it seems to have been known to the ancients. Heliodorus, the Greek bishop of Sicca, mentions it particularly in his time, and his description seems more original and authentic than those of most of the old writers.

“The ambassadors from the Axiomitæ (he says) brought presents to Hydaspes, and, among other things, there was an animal of a strange and wonderful species, about the size of a Camel, and marked upon the skin with florid spots. The hinder parts, from the loins, were low, like those of a Lion; but the shoulders, fore-feet, and breast, were elevated above proportion to the other parts. The neck was small, and lengthened out from its large body like that of a Swan. The head, in form, resembled a Camel, but was, in size, about twice that of the Lybian Struthium, (Ostrich) and it rolled the eyes, which had a film over them, very frightfully.—It differs in its gait from every other land or water animal, waddling in a remarkable manner. Each leg does not move alternately, but those on the right side move together, independently of the other, and those of the left in the same manner, so that each side is alternately elevated. It is so tractable as II.47 to be led by a small string fastened to the head, by which the keeper conducts it as he pleases, as if with the strongest chain. When this animal appeared, it struck the whole multitude with terror; and took its name from the principal parts of its body, being called by the people, extempore, Camelopardalis.”

Ferdinand, a Jesuit, reports of one of these animals, that a man on horseback can pass upright under its belly: “tam vastum animal, ut eques rectus sub ejus dorso transire possit!⁕2

A Giraffe appears to have been brought to Cairo in the year 1507, for Baumgarten says, that “on the 26th of October, looking out at a window, he saw the Ziraphus, the tallest creature that he ever beheld. Its skin was all over white and brown, and its neck was almost two fathoms long. Its head was a cubit long, and its eyes looked brisk and lively; its breast was upright, and its back low; it would eat bread or fruits, or any thing else they reached to it.”⁕3

In the year 1769, the governor of the Cape of Good Hope sent out some parties of men on inland discoveries, several of whom were absent eighteen months or two years. One of these parties crossed many mountains and plains, in one of which they found two Giraffes, an old and a young one. They were only able to seize the latter, and they took considerable care to convey it alive to Cape Town, but unfortunately it died before their arrival. It was, however, skinned, and the skin was afterwards sent II.48 to Europe, and lodged in the Cabinet of Natural History at Leyden.⁕4

The flesh of the young Giraffe is said to be good eating. The Hottentots hunt the animal principally on account of its marrow, which, as a delicacy, they set a high value upon.

Synonyms.—Camelopardalis Giraffa. Linn.—Camelopardalis, or Camelopard. Ray.—Giraffe. Buffon.——Shaw’s Gen. Zool. ii. tab. 181, 182.

⁕1 Travels in Africa.

⁕2 Observations on a Subject of Natural History. 4to. Lond. 1792.

⁕3 Baumgarten, in Churchill’s Collection of Voyages, i. 454.

⁕4 Capt. Carteret, in Phil. Tran. vol. 60. p. 27.

Notes and Corrections: The Giraffe

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For a century or so, the names Camelopardalis giraffa and Giraffa camelopardalis ran neck and neck, before G. camelopardalis won out. Under the hot-off-the-presses reclassification, this name denotes the Northern giraffe; the others are G. giraffa (Southern giraffe), G. reticulata (Reticulated giraffe) and G. tippelskirchi (Masai giraffe).

the vulgar error that the fore-legs are longer than the hinder-ones
[This wording seems a bit strong when you consider that most people outside of Africa had never even heard of the giraffe, let alone form opinions about the length of its legs.]

being called by the people, extempore, Camelopardalis.”
close quote missing

engraving of Chamois, no later than 1804

Shaw Zoology Vol. II plate 187:
Chamois (bottom); Guinea Antelope (top)


The Antelopes are in general an elegant and active tribe of animals, inhabiting mountainous countries, where they bound among the rocks with so much lightness and elasticity as to strike the spectator with astonishment. Some of them reside in the plains of those countries, where herds of two or three thousand are sometimes to be seen together. They brouze like Goats, and frequently feed on the tender shoots of trees. In disposition they are timid and restless, and nature has bestowed on them long and tendenous legs, peculiarly appropriated to their habits and manners of life. These, in some of the species, are so slender and brittle, as to snap with a very trifling blow: the Arabs, taking advantage of this circumstance, catch them by throwing at them sticks, by which their legs are entangled and broken.

The eyes of the Antelope are the standard of perfection in the east: to say of a fine woman that “she has the eyes of an Antelope,” is considered the highest compliment that can be paid to her.


Nearly all the species inhabit the warmer parts of the globe, and they are principally found in Asia and Africa. None have yet been discovered in America; and only two, the Chamois and the Scythian Antelope, in Europe.—The male is furnished with hollow horns, (seated on a bony core,) growing upwards, permanent, and annulated or wreathed. In both sexes there are eight front-teeth in the lower-jaw, and no canine teeth either above or below.

Linnæus included the Antelopes in the Goat tribe, which they resemble in their horns, but they are now properly separated into an intermediate tribe betwixt the Goats and the Deer.—In general their flesh is eatable, though in some species it has a musky flavour.

Notes and Corrections: The Antelope Tribe

Antelopes, gazelles and similar are subfamily Antilopinae within family Bovidae. Almost everything Linnaeus classified as genus Antilopa—including all three antelopes discussed in this section—has since been reassigned to a different genus. Some of them aren’t even antelopes.

engraving of “Chamois-Goat”, no later than 1804

Bewick Quadrupeds page 71:


The Chamois is an inhabitant of the Alps and the Pyrenees. It is about the size of the common Goat, is of a dusky yellowish-brown, with the cheeks, chin, throat and belly of a yellowish white. The horns are slender, upright, about eight inches high, and hooked backwards at the tips: their colour is black. At the back part of the base of each horn, there is said to be a tolerably large orifice in the skin, the nature and use of which does not yet seem to be clearly understood. The hair is rather long; and the tail short and of a blackish colour. The eyes are round, sparkling, and full of animation.


These animals are found in flocks of from four to eighty, and even a hundred, dispersed upon the crags of the mountains. They do not feed indiscriminately, but only on the most delicate herbage they can find.

Their sight is very penetrating, and their senses of smelling and hearing remarkably acute. When the wind blows in a proper direction they are said to be able to scent a man at the distance of a mile or upwards.—Their voice somewhat resembles that of a hoarse Domestic Goat: by means of this they are called together. When alarmed they adopt a different noise, and advertise each other by a kind of whistle. This the animal on watch continues as long as he can blow without taking breath: it is at first sharp, but flattens towards the conclusion. He then stops for a moment, looks round on all sides, and begins whistling afresh, which he continues from time to time. This is done with such force, that the rocks and forests re-echo the sound. His agitation is extreme. He strikes the earth with his feet. He leaps upon the highest stones he can find: again looks round, leaps from one place to another, and, when he discovers any thing seriously alarming, he flies off. This whistling is performed through the nostrils, and consists of a strong blowing, similar to the sound which a man may make by fixing his tongue to the palate, with his teeth nearly shut, his lips open and somewhat extended, and blowing long, and with great force.

The Chamois scramble among the inaccessible rocks of the country they inhabit with great agility. II.51 They neither ascend nor descend perpendicularly, but always in an oblique direction. When descending, in particular, they will throw themselves down across a rock, which is nearly perpendicular, and of twenty or thirty feet in height, without having a single prop to support their feet. In descending, they strike their feet three or four times against the rock, till they arrive at a proper resting place below. The spring of their tendons is so great, that, when leaping about among the precipices, one would almost imagine that they possessed wings instead of limbs.

They are hunted during the winter for their skins, which are very useful in manufactures; and for the flesh, which is good eating. Their chace is a laborious employment, since much care is necessary in order to get near them. They are shot with rifle-barrelled guns.—They generally produce two young ones at a birth; and are said to be long-lived.

Synonyms.—Antilope rupicapra. Linn.—Chamois Goat. Bewick.—Chamois. Buffon. Penn.——Shaw’s Gen. Zool. ii. tab. 187.—Bew. Quad. p. 71.

Notes and Corrections: The Chamois

Antilope rupicapra is now Rupicapra rupicapra (“cliff goat”). As the name indicates, it is not an antelope but a goat, subfamily Caprinae. So Linnaeus was right, at least as far as the Chamois is concerned.

The eyes are round, sparkling, and full of animation.
“es” in “eyes” invisible

engraving of Nilghau, no later than 1804

Shaw Zoology Vol. II plate 189:


The height of the Nyl-ghau is somewhat more than four feet at the shoulder. The male is of a dark grey colour, and furnished with short blunt horns that bend a little forward. There are white spots on the neck, between the fore-lees, on each side behind the shoulder joints, and on each fore-foot. The female, which is destitute of horns, is of II.52 a pale brown colour, with two white and three black bars on the fore part of each foot, immediately above the hoofs. On the neck and part of the back of each is a short mane; and the fore-part of the throat has a long tuft of black hairs. The tail is long, and tufted at the end.

In the Philosophical Transactions we have an accurate account of this animal by Dr. Hunter. He says “that although the Nyl-ghau is usually reported to be exceedingly vicious, yet the one he had the care of was very gentle. It seemed pleased with every kind of familiarity, always licked the hand, which either stroked it, or gave it bread, and never once attempted to use its horns offensively. It seemed to have much dependance on the organs of smell, and snuffed keenly, and with considerable noise, whenever any person came within sight. It did the same when any food or drink was brought to it; and was so easily offended with an uncommon smell, or was so cautious, that it would not taste bread that was offered with a hand that had touched oil of turpentine or spirits.

engraving of “Nyl-Ghau”, no later than 1804

Bewick Quadrupeds page 100:

“Its manner of fighting was very particular. This was observed at Lord Clive’s, where two males were put into a little enclosure; and it was thus related by his lordship:—while they were at a considerable distance from each other they prepared for the attack by falling down upon their fore-knees, and when they were come within some yards, they made a spring, and darted against each other.”

At the time that two of them were in his stable, II.53 Dr. Hunter observed this particularity, that whenever any attempt was made on them, they immediately fell down upon their fore-knees; and sometimes they would do so when he came before them: but as they never darted, he so little supposed this to be a hostile posture, that he rather supposed it expressive of a timid or obsequious humility.

The intrepidity and force with which they dart against any object may be conceived from an anecdote that has been related of the finest and largest of these animals that has ever been seen in England. A poor labouring man, without knowing that the animal was near him, and therefore neither meaning to offend, nor suspecting the danger, came up to the outside of the pales of the enclosure where it was kept; the Nyl-ghau, with the swiftness of lightning, darted against the wood-work with such violence that he shattered it to pieces, and broke off one of his horns close to the root. This violence was supposed to occasion his death, which happened not long after. From this it appears, that at certain seasons the animal is vicious and fierce, however gentle it may be at other times.

The first of this species that were brought into England were a male and female, sent from Bombay as a present to Lord Clive in 1767. They bred every year. Afterwards two others were sent over and presented to the Queen by Mr. Sullivan. These were the two above described.

They are uncommon in all the parts of India where we have settlements, those that are found there having been brought from the distant interior II.54 parts of the country.—Bernier mentions them in his travels from Delhi to the province of Cachemire. He describes the emperor’s amusement of hunting them, and says that sometimes great numbers of them are killed; which proves them to be in sufficient plenty about their native habitations. In several parts of the east they are looked upon as royal game, and are only hunted by the princes.⁕1

Synonyms.—Antilope picta. Linn.—White-footed Antelope. Penn.—Nyl ghau, which, in Persian, signifies a blue Cow or Bull.——Shaw’s Gen. Zool. ii. tab. 189.—Bew. Quad. p. 100.

⁕1 Phil. Tran. vol. 61. p. 170.—Bernier’s Travels.—Penn. Outl. vol. ii. p. 242.

Notes and Corrections: The Nyl-Ghau

The nilgai, Antilope picta is now Boselaphus tragocamelus (“cow-deer goat-camel”). Like the chamois, it isn’t an antelope at all; unlike the chamois, it is a cow, subfamily Bovinae.

The female, which is destitute of horns
missing comma supplied from 1st edition

[Synonyms] Nyl ghau, which, in Persian, signifies a blue Cow or Bull.
[It really does.]


The Scythian Antelope is about the size of the Fallow Deer, and of a grey yellowish colour. The horns are annulated, about a foot long, and bent in the form of a lyre. The head is somewhat large, and the neck slender. The tail is about four inches long: naked below, cloathed above with upright hairs, and ending in a tuft. The females are without horns.

These animals are found in several of the dreary open deserts of the Continent, about Mount Caucasus, the Caspian Sea, and in Siberia. They chiefly confine themselves to countries where there are salt-springs, for on the plants that grow near them, and on salt they principally feed. While feeding they frequently walk backwards, and pluck the grass on each side. They are migratory, collecting in autumn in flocks, which consist of some thousands, and retiring into the southern deserts. In II.55 spring they divide again into little flocks, and return to the north.

It seldom happens that a whole flock lies down to rest all at the same time, but some are always stationed on watch. When these are tired they give a kind of notice to such as have taken their rest, who instantly rise, and, as it were, relieve the centinels of the preceding hours. By this means they often preserve themselves from the attacks of the Wolves, and the insidious stratagems of the hunters. They are so swift that they are able for a while to out-run the fleetest Horse or Greyhound; yet such is their extreme timidity and shortness of breath, that they are very soon taken. If they are but bitten by a Dog they instantly fall down, and will not again attempt to rise. In running they seem to incline on one side; and their fleetness is for a short time so astonishing that their feet appear scarcely to touch the ground. In consequence of the heat of the sun, and the reflection of its rays from the sandy plains which they frequent, they become in summer almost blind, which is another cause of their destruction.—In a wild state they seem to have no voice, but when brought up tame the young emit a sort of bleating, like Sheep.

The females bring forth only one young one at a time, and this in the month of May. The young are easily domes­ticated: but the old ones, when taken, are so wild and timid as to refuse food entirely.—The flesh of these Antelopes is sometimes eaten, but its taste is to most people very rank and II.56 disagreeable. The horns and skins are of considerable use in a commercial view.⁕1

Synonyms.—Antilope Saiga. Linn.—Saiga. Buffon. Shaw.—Scythian Antelope. Penn.

⁕1 Penn. Quad. i. 87.—Kerr, ii. 310.

Notes and Corrections: The Scythian Antelope

The saiga, Antilope saiga, is now the head of its own genus, Saiga tatarica. (There is also a Mongolian saiga, S. borealis.) Unlike the chamois and nilgai, it remains a bona fide antelope, subfamily Antilopinae.

engraving of Common Goat, no later than 1804

Bewick Quadrupeds page 67:
The Common GOAT


The animals of the Goat kind live principally in retired mountainous situations, and have a rank and unpleasant smell, especially the males. Although very timid and shy while they continue in a wild state, they are easily rendered domestic, and even familiar. They differ from Sheep, not only in the erect position of their horns, but also, when they fight, in rising on their hind-legs, and turning the head on one side to strike; for the Rams run full tilt at each other, with their heads down.

The horns are hollow, rough, and compressed: they rise somewhat erect from the top of the head, and bend backwards. In the lower-jaw there are eight front-teeth, and in the upper none; and no canine-teeth in either. The chin is bearded.

Notes and Corrections: The Goat Tribe

Goats are a few genera—notably Capra—in subfamily Caprinae of the Bovidae family.

engraving of Common Goat, male and female, no later than 1804

Shaw Zoology Vol. II plate 199:
Common Goat. Male and Female


The Goat is found, in a domestic state, in most parts of the globe, being able to bear, without inconvenience, the extremes both of heat and cold. It is a lively, playful animal, and easily familiarized, being sensible of caresses, and capable of a considerable II.57 degree of attachment. His disposition, however, is extremely inconstant, which is marked by the irregularity of all his actions: he walks, stops short, runs, leaps, approaches or retires, shews or conceals himself, or flies off as if actuated by mere caprice, and without any other cause than what arises from the eccentric vivacity of his temper. In some instances these animals, from their extreme familiarity, have become troublesome.—“In the year 1698 (says the Comte de Buffon) an English vessel having put into harbour at the island of Bonavista, two negroes went on board, and offered the captain as many goats as he chose to carry away. He expressed his surprise at this offer, when the negroes informed him that there were only twelve persons on the island, and that the goats multiplied so fast as to become exceedingly troublesome, for, instead of being difficult to catch, they followed them about with an unpleasant degree of obstinacy, like other domestic animals.”

Goats love to feed on the tops of hills, and prefer the very elevated and rugged parts of mountains, finding sufficient nourishment in the most heathy and barren grounds. They are so active as to leap with ease, and the utmost security, among the most dreadful precipices; and even when two of them are yoked together, they will, as it were by mutual consent, take the most dangerous leaps together, and exert their efforts in such perfect unison, as generally to accomplish these unhurt.

In mountainous countries they render considerable service to mankind, the flesh of the old ones II.58 being salted as winter provision, and the milk being used in many places for the making of cheese. The flesh of the Kid is highly palatable, being equal in flavour to the most delicate lamb. The animals require but little care or attention, easily providing for themselves proper and sufficient food.

M. Sonnini, in his edition of Buffon’s Natural History, has given us a curious instance of the readiness with which the Goat will permit itself to be sucked by animals of a different kind and far larger size than itself. He assures us that he saw, in the year 1780, a Foal that had lost its mother thus nourished by a Goat, which was placed on a barrel, in order that the Foal might suck with greater convenience. The Foal followed its nurse to pasture, as it would have done its parent, and was attended with the greatest care by the Goat, which always called it back by her bleatings when it wandered to any distance from her.

Goats are exceedingly numerous in South Guinea, and some of the negroes there have an odd notion that their strong and offensive smell was given them as a punishment for having requested of a certain female deity that they might be allowed to anoint themselves with a kind of aromatic ointment which she used herself. Offended at the request, they say, she took a box of a most nauseous compound, and rubbed their bodies with it, which had so powerful an effect, as to cause their unpleasant smell to continue ever afterwards.⁕1

Synonyms.—Capra Hircus. Linn.—Bouc et Chevre. Buff.—Domestic Goat. Penn.——Shaw’s Gen. Zool. ii. tab. 199.—Bew. Quad. p. 67.

⁕1 Barbot, v. 215.

Notes and Corrections: The Common Goat

Then as now, the domestic goat is Capra hircus (“goat billy-goat”).


engraving of Ibex, no later than 1804

Shaw Zoology Vol. II plate 198:


The male Ibex is larger than the tame Goat, but resembles it much in appearance. The head, in proportion to the body, is small. The eyes are large, round, and brilliant. The horns are large, weighing sometimes sixteen or eighteen pounds, and measuring from two to four feet in length: they are flatted before, round behind, and divided by several transverse ridges; are bent backwards, and of a dusky brown colour. The beard is long, the legs slender, and the body short, thick, and strong. The tail is short, and naked beneath. The hair is long, and of a brownish or ash-colour, with a streak of black running along the back. The belly and thighs are of a delicate fawn-colour.—The female is about a third less than the male, and not so corpulent. Her colour is less tawny, and her horns not above eight inches long.

These animals assemble in flocks consisting of sometimes ten or fifteen, but generally of smaller numbers. They feed during the night in the highest woods: but at sun-rise they quit the woods, and ascend the mountains, feeding in their progress, till they have reached the most considerable heights. They are generally seen on the sides of the mountains which face the east or south, and lie down in the highest places and hottest exposures; but when II.60 the sun is declining, they again begin to feed and to descend towards the woods; whither they also retire when it is likely to snow, and where they always pass the winter.

The males that are six years old and upwards, haunt more elevated places than the females and younger animals; and, as they advance in age, they become more inclined to solitude. They also become gradually hardened against the effects of extreme cold, and frequently live entirely alone.

engraving of Ibex, no later than 1804

Bewick Quadrupeds page 70:

The season for hunting the Ibex is during the months of August and September, when they are usually in good condition. None but the inhabitants of the mountains engage in this chace; for it not only requires a head that can bear to look down from the most tremendous heights without terror, address and sure-footedness in the most difficult and dangerous passes, but also much strength, vigour, and activity.—Two or three hunters usually associate in the perilous occupation: they are armed with rifle-barrelled guns, and furnished with small bags of provisions; they erect a miserable hut of turf among the heights, where, without fire or covering, they pass the night; and, on waking in the morning, they not unfrequently find the entrance blocked up with snow three or four feet deep. Sometimes, in pursuit of this animal, being overtaken by darkness, amid crags and precipices, they are obliged to pass the whole night standing, and embraced together, in order to support each other, and to prevent themselves from sleeping.

As the animals ascend into the higher regions very II.61 early in the morning, it is necessary to gain the heights before them, otherwise they scent the hunters, and betake themselves to flight. It would then be in vain to follow them, for, when once they begin to escape, they never stop till they are entirely out of danger, and will even sometimes run for ten or twelve leagues before they rest.

Being very strong, when they are close pressed they sometimes turn upon the incautious huntsman, and tumble him down the precipices, unless he has time to lie down, and let the animal pass over him.⁕1 It is said also, that when they cannot otherwise avoid the hunter, they will sometimes throw themselves down the steepest precipices, and fall on their horns in such a manner as to escape unhurt. Certain it is, that they are often found with only one horn, the other being probably broken off in some fall. It is even pretended, that, to get out of the reach of huntsmen, they will hang by their horns over the precipices, by a projecting tree, and remain suspended till the danger is over.⁕2

The Ibex will mount a perpendicular rock of fifteen feet at three leaps, or rather at three successive bounds, of five feet each. It does not seem as if he found any footing on the rock, appearing to touch it merely to be repelled, like an elastic substance striking against a hard body. He is not supposed to take more than three successive leaps in this manner. If he is between two rocks which are near each other, and he wants to reach the top, he leaps from II.62 the side of one rock to that of the other alternately, till he has attained the summit. The fore-legs being considerably shorter than the hinder ones, enables these animals to ascend with much more ease than to descend; and on this account it is that nothing but the severest weather will induce them to go down into the vallies.

Their voice is a short sharp whistle, not unlike that of the Chamois, but of less continuance: sometimes they make a kind of snort, by breathing hard through the nostrils, and, when young, they bleat.

The female, in general, brings forth only one young one at a time. Towards this she exhibits great attachment, and will defend it even against the attacks of Wolves and Eagles. She sometimes takes refuge in a cavern, where presenting her head at the entrance, she opposes the strongest enemy with great perseverance.

Synonyms.—Capra Ibex. Linn.—Bouquetin, Bouc-estain, et Bouc-stein. Buff.—Rock Goat, or Wild Goat. Smellie.—Stein Bock. Gesner.—Ibex. Penn.——Shaw’s Gen. Zool. ii. tab. 198.—Bew. Quad. p. 70.

⁕1 Coxe.

⁕2 Penn. Arct. Zool.

Notes and Corrections: The Ibex

The ibex remains Capra ibex. And yes, Shaw’s plate really is captioned, archaically, “Jbex”.

color picture of “Canadian Sheep”, no later than 1804

Shaw Miscellany plate 610:
Canadian Sheep


Few animals render greater or more essential services to mankind than the Sheep. They supply us both with food and clothing; and the wool alone of the common Sheep affords in some countries an astonishing source of industry and wealth. They are all harmless animals, and, in general, exceedingly shy and timid. Both in running and leaping they exhibit much less activity than the Goats. They collect, in a wild state, into small flocks; and, though they do not altogether avoid the mountains, generally prefer dry open plains. They fight by butting II.63 against each other with their horns, and threaten by stamping on the ground with their feet. The female goes with young about five months, and usually produces one, sometimes two, and rarely three, at a birth.

There are, strictly speaking, but two different species of Sheep; but of the common Sheep there are no fewer than ten or twelve very distinct varieties.—The horns are hollow, wrinkled and perennial, bent backwards and outwards into a circular or spiral form, generally at the sides of the head. The lower jaw has eight front-teeth: there are none in the upper jaw, nor any canine-teeth in either.

Notes and Corrections: The Sheep Tribe

Sheep are a few genera, notably Ovis, in the same Caprinae subfamily as goats. Shaw’s “Canadian Sheep”, Ovis canadensis, is generally known as the bighorn sheep .

There are, strictly speaking, but two different species of Sheep
[William, we’ve talked about this before.]


These highly useful animals are found in very few countries except in Europe and some of the more temperate parts of Asia. They are singularly inoffensive, and harmless even to a proverb. When enslaved by Man, they tremble at the voice of the Shepherd or his Dog; but, on the extensive mountains where they range, almost without controul, and where they seldom depend on the aid of the shepherd, they assume a very different mode of conduct. In these situations a Ram or a Wedder will boldly attack a single Dog, and often come off victorious; but, when the danger is more alarming, they have recourse to the collected strength of the whole flock. On such occasions they draw up into a complete body, placing II.64 the females and young in the centre, whilst the males take the foremost ranks, keeping close by each other. Thus an armed front is presented on all quarters, that cannot easily be attacked without danger of destruction to the assailant. In this manner they wait with firmness the approach of the enemy; nor does their courage fail them in the moment of attack; for, when the aggressor advances within a few yards of the line, the Rams dart upon him with such impetuosity as to lay him dead at their feet, unless he judiciously saves himself by timely flight. Against the attacks of single Dogs or Foxes, when in this situation, they are perfectly secure.—A single Ram, regardless of danger, will often engage a Bull; and, his forehead being much harder than that of any other animal, he seldom fails to conquer; for the Bull, by lowering his head, receives the stroke of the Ram between his eyes, which usually brings him to the ground.

The Sheep, in the mountainous parts of Wales, where the liberty they enjoy is so great as to render them very wild, do not always collect into large flocks, but sometimes graze in parties of from eight to a dozen, of which one is stationed at a distance from the rest, to give notice of the approach of danger. When the centinel observes any one advancing, at the distance of two or three hundred yards, he turns his face to the enemy, keeping a watchful eye upon his motions, allowing him to approach as near as eighty or a hundred yards; but, when the suspected foe manifests a design of coming nearer, the watchful guard alarms his comrades by II.65 a loud hiss or whistle, twice or thrice repeated, when the whole party instantly scour away with great agility, always seeking the steepest and most inaccessible parts of the mountains.

It is very singular that in the Holms round Kirkwall, in the island of Mainland, one of the Orkneys, if any person about the lambing time enters with a Dog, or even without, the Ewes suddenly take fright, and through the influence of fear, it is imagined, instantly drop down dead, as though their brain had been pierced with a musket-ball.—Those that die in this manner are commonly said to have two, and sometimes three lambs within them.⁕1

No country produces finer Sheep than Great Britain; and their fleeces are large, and well adapted to the various purposes of clothing. Of these, the Sheep that are bred in Lincolnshire, and the northern counties, are most remarkable for their size, and the quantity of wool which they bear.—In other parts of England they are generally smaller, and in the mountainous districts of Wales and Scotland they are very small.

Besides the fleece, there is scarcely any part of this animal but what is useful to mankind. The flesh is a delicate and wholesome food. The skin, dressed, forms different parts of our apparel; and is used for the covers of books. The entrails, properly prepared and twisted, serve for strings to various musical instruments. The bones, calcined, form materials for tests for the refiner. The milk II.66 is thicker than that of Cows, and consequently yields a greater quantity of butter and cheese; and in some places it is even so rich, as not to produce the cheese without a mixture of water to make it part from the whey.⁕2

The fleeces of the Sheep above Cairo are very thick and long. The skins are used by most of the Egyptians for beds, since, besides their being very soft, it is said that in sleeping on them persons are secured from the stings of Scorpions, which never venture upon wool lest they should be entangled in it. These fleeces are (as at present is done in some parts of England) taken off entire, and one of them, long and broad enough to serve a man as a mattrass, was sold as high as twenty shillings sterling, whilst the whole animal alive and without its fleece, only brought about six shillings.⁕3

The disposition and actions of these useful creatures, while washing and shearing, Thomson has beautifully described:

Urg’d to the giddy brink, much is the toil,

The clamour much of men, and boys, and dogs,

Ere the soft, fearful people to the flood

Commit their woolly sides—

——Then, as they spread

Their swelling treasures to the sunny ray,

Inly disturb’d, and wond’ring what this wild

Outrageous tumult means, their loud complaints

The country fill; and toss’d from rock to rock,

Incessant bleatings run around the hills.

At last of snowy white, the gather’d flocks


Are in the wattled pen innumerous press’d,

Head above head; and rang’d in lusty rows

The shepherds sit, and whet the sounding shears.

Behold, where bound, and of its robe bereft,

By needy man, that all-depending lord,

How meek, how patient, the mild creature lies!

What softness in his melancholy face,

What dumb complaining innocence appears!

There are in the voices of all animals innumerable tones, perfectly understood by each other, and entirely beyond our powers of discrimination. It should seem somewhat remarkable that the Ewe can always distinguish her own Lamb, and the Lamb its mother, even in the largest flocks; and at the time of shearing, when the Ewes are shut up in a pen from the Lambs, and turned loose one by one as they ate shorn, it is pleasing to see the meeting between each mother and her young one. The Ewe immediately bleats to call her Lamb, which instantly obeys the well-known voice, and, returning the bleat, comes skipping to its dam. At first it is startled by her new appearance, and approaches her with some degree of fear, till it has corrected the sense of sight by those of smelling and hearing.

Various sorts of insects infest the Sheep, but that which is the most teazing to them is a species of Gadfly,⁕4 that deposits its eggs on the inner margins of their nostrils, occasioning them to shake their heads violently, and thrust their noses into the dust or gravel. The Larvæ, or Grubs, when hatched, crawl II.68 up into the frontal sinuses, and when full fed, and ready to undergo their change, are again discharged through the nostrils. The French shepherds make a common practice of easing the Sheep by trepanning them, and taking out the maggot: this is sometimes practised in England, but not always with success. Sheep have, besides this, a kind of tick amongst their wool,⁕5 and are subject to worms in the liver.⁕6

Synonyms.—Ovis Aries. Linn.—Brebis et Belier. Buff.—Ram and Common Sheep. Penn.

⁕1 Statistical Account of Scotland.

⁕2 Penn. Brit. Zool. i. 32.

⁕3 Sonnini, iii. 251.

⁕4 Oestrus Ovis of Linnæus. See an account of this Insect in the third volume of the present work.

⁕5 Acarus Reduvius of Linnæus.

⁕6 Fasciola hepatica of Linnæus.

Notes and Corrections: The Common Sheep

skip to next section

Ovis aries (“sheep ram”, apparently on the same principle as Capra hircus) is formally known as the mouflon. But feel free to continue calling it a sheep.

The lack of illustrations is, paradoxically, because there were too many. Bewick’s Quadrupeds has plenty of sheep pictures, but each one represents some specific breed—as was the case with dogs in the previous volume—leaving Bingley nothing to point to as a generic “common sheep”. In any case it would have been safe to assume that an English reader in 1804 knew what a sheep looks like.

Against the attacks of single Dogs or Foxes
text has atacks

Thomson has beautifully described
[Seasons: Summer 376-79, 388-97, 412-16]

Ere the soft, fearful people to the flood
text has E’re

[Footnote] Oestrus Ovis of Linnæus.
[See the Insects section of Volume III.]

[Footnote] Acarus Reduvius of Linnæus.
[Now Ixodes ricinius, the castor bean tick.]

[Footnote] Fasciola hepatica of Linnæus.
[The sheep liver fluke still has that binomial.]

engraving of “Many-Horned Sheep”, no later than 1804

Bewick Quadrupeds page 62:
The Many-horned SHEEP


The Icelandic, or many-horned Sheep, differ from ours in several particulars. They have straight, upright ears, a small tail, and sometimes four or five horns.—In a few instances they are kept in stables during winter; but by far the majority of them are left to seek their own food in the open plains. They are particularly fond of the scurvy-grass,⁕1 which renders them excessively fat.

In stormy weather they hide themselves in caves from the fury of the elements; but when these retreats are not to be found, they collect together during the heavy falls of snow, and place their heads near each other, with their muzzles bent downwards towards the ground. This not only prevents their being so easily buried under the snow, but renders them much easier to be discovered by the owner. In this situation they will sometimes remain several II.69 days; and there have been many instances of hunger forcing them to gnaw each other’s wool, which, forming into hard balls in their stomachs, often destroys them. After the storm has ceased they are, however, generally sought for and disengaged.

A good Icelandic Sheep will yield from two to six quarts of milk a day; and of this the inhabitants make butter and cheese: but the principal profit arising from them is in the wool, which is not shorn, but remains on till the end of May, when it loosens of itself, and is stripped off at once like a skin. The whole body is by this time covered again with new wool, which is short and extremely fine. It continues to grow during the summer, and becomes towards autumn of a coarser texture, very shaggy, and somewhat resembling Camel’s hair. This covering enables the Sheep to support the rigours of winter; but if, after they have lost their fleece, the spring proves wet, the inhabitants sew a piece of coarse cloth round the stomachs of the weakest to guard them against its ill effects.⁕2

Synonyms.—Ovis Aries Polycerata. Linn.—Many-horned Sheep, and Icelandic Sheep. Penn.——Bew. Quad. p. 62.

⁕1 Cochlearia of Linnæus.

⁕2 Von Troil, 136.

Notes and Corrections: The Icelandic Sheep

Ovis aries polycerata was also known as Ovis polycerata (“sheep with many horns”), as if Linnaeus himself couldn’t make up his mind. It is probably not even a subspecies, let alone a species, but just another breed of domestic sheep. Today—200 years after Bingley—sheep account for fully one-quarter of Iceland’s agricultural output. There may even be a few Sheepcams, though not as many as on the Færoe Islands.

[Footnote] Cochlearia of Linnæus.
[Scurvy grass still has this genus name.]


This variety of the common Sheep is found about Aleppo, and in Barbary, Ethiopia, and some others of the eastern countries. In its general appearance, excepting its tail, it does not differ much from the European Sheep. The body of one of these, without II.70 including the head, feet, entrails, and skin, weighs generally from fifty to sixty pounds, of which the tail makes up fifteen; but some of the largest breed, that have been fattened with care, will weigh a hundred and fifty pounds, the tail alone composing one third of the whole weight. This broad flattish tail is mostly covered with long woolly hairs, and, becoming very small at the extremity, turns up again. It is entirely composed of a substance betwixt marrow and fat, which serves very often for culinary purposes instead of butter; and, being cut into small pieces, makes an ingredient in various dishes. When the animal is young this is little inferior to the best marrow.

Wild rove the flocks, no burdening fleece they bear

In fervid climes: nature gives nought in vain.

Carmenian wool on the broad tail alone

Resplendent swells, enormous in its growth:

As the sleek Ram from green to green removes,

On aiding wheels his heavy pride he draws,

And glad resigns it for the hatter’s use.

Sheep of the above extraordinary size are usually kept up in yards, so as to be in little danger of hurting their tails as they walk about; but in the fields, in order to prevent injury from the bushes, the shepherds, in several parts of Syria, fix a thin piece of board on the under part, which is not, like the rest, covered with wool, and to this board are sometimes added small wheels: whence, with a little exaggeration, we have the story of the Oriental Sheep having carts to carry their tails.

Though the tails of these Sheep are, from their II.71 nature, tucked up, yet the necessity of having larger carriages for the tails of the African Sheep, mentioned by Herodotus, Ludolphus, and others, is real, for those, when the animal is fat, actually trail upon the ground.⁕1

Their fleeces are exceedingly fine, long, and beautiful; and, in Thibet, are worked into shawls, which form a considerable source of wealth to the inhabitants. Shaw says the mutton tastes of the wool.⁕2

Synonyms.—Ovis aries laticaudata. Linn.—Mouton de Barbarie, Mouton d’Arabie. Buffon.—Tunis Sheep, and Barbary Sheep. Smellie.—Broad-tailed Sheep. Penn.

⁕1 Russel’s Aleppo.

⁕2 Shaw’s Travels, 241.

Notes and Corrections: The Broad-Tailed Sheep

skip to next section

If it’s Ovis, it is another breed of domestic sheep. The list of synonyms suggest that Bingley—or his sources—has conflated it with the Barbary sheep or auodad, Ammotragus lervia, another member of the Caprinae subfamily.

Wild rove the flocks
[Neither Thomson’s Seasons nor Somervile’s Chase but John Dyer’s 1757 The Fleece again.]

On aiding wheels his heavy pride he draws
[To repeat what I said in the notes to Beeton’s Book of Household Management:

The story about little carts goes back to Herodotus—a fact which is generally enough to turn anyone’s BS meter up to 11. Fat-tailed sheep do exist, but naturalists would have no trouble providing an expla­nation: it’s the result of human breeding. ]

engraving of Argali, no later than 1804

Shaw Zoology Vol. II plate 201:


The Argali, or wild Sheep, has large horns, arched semicircularly backwards, and divergent at their tips; wrinkled on their upper surface, and flatted beneath. On the neck are two pendant hairy dewlaps. This Sheep is about the size of a small Deer, and in summer is of a brownish ash-colour, mixed with grey on the upper parts, and whitish beneath. In winter the former changes to a rusty, and the latter to a whitish, grey; and the hair becomes considerably longer. The horns of some of the old Rams are said to be of such an enormous size, as to weigh fifteen or sixteen pounds each.

The Argali abound in Kamtschatka, where they afford to the inhabitants both food and clothing. The flesh, and particularly the fat, the Kamtschadales esteem as diet fit for the Gods; and there is no labour II.72 which they will not undergo in the chace. Whole families abandon their habitations in the spring of the year, and occupy the entire summer in this employment, amidst the steepest and most rocky mountains, fearless of the dreadful precipices which often overwhelm the eager sportsman.

engraving of “Mouflon, or Musmon”, no later than 1804

Bewick Quadrupeds page 64:

These animals are shot with guns or with arrows; sometimes with cross-bows placed in their paths, and discharged by their treading on a string which pulls the fatal trigger. They are sometimes chased by Dogs, but their fleetness in a moment leaves these far in the rear. The purpose, however, is answered: they are driven to the heights, where they often stand and view, as it were with contempt, the Dogs below: while their attention is thus occupied, the hunter creeps cautiously within reach, and brings them down with his gun.

In some of the other northern countries, a great multitude of Horses and Dogs are collected together, and a sudden attempt is made to surround them. Great caution is necessary, for if the animals perceive the approach of their enemies, either by their sight or smell, they instantly take to flight, and secure themselves among the lofty and inaccessible summits of the mountains.

The Kamtschadales do not shear these Sheep, but leave the wool on till the end of May, when it becomes loose, and is stripped entirely off in one fleece.—The dried flesh is in Kamtschatka an article of commerce.⁕1


The female brings forth one or two Lambs in the month of March. Besides Kamtschatka these animals are met with in all the Alpine regions in the centre of Asia, and on the highest mountains of Barbary, Corsica, and Greece.

Synonyms.—Ovis ammon. Linn.—Moufflon. Buffon.—Wild Sheep, and Siberian Goat. Penn.——Shaw’s Gen. Zool. ii. tab. 201.—Bew. Quad. p. 64.

⁕1 Penn. Arct. Zool. i. 12.

Notes and Corrections: The Argali

The argali remains Ovis ammon.

engraving of Wild Cattle (male and female), no later than 1804

Bewick Quadrupeds page 34:


The animals of this tribe are seldom found except in flat pastures, entirely avoiding mountains and woods, for which their form is extremely ill calculated, as they are much more large and clumsy than most other animals. Their services to mankind are more considerable than those even of the Sheep, for, in addition to the qualifications of these animals, they are employed as beasts of draught and burthen. Their voice is called lowing and bellowing. They fight by pushing with their horns, and kicking with their feet.

There are about nine different species, many of them however so nearly connected as to render it difficult, in many instances, to assign a proper distinction between species and variety. The common Ox is found in no less than eight different varieties.

In the Ox the horns are concave, smooth, turned outwards, and forwards, in a semilunar form. In the lower jaw there are eight front-teeth; there are none in the upper, and no tusks in either jaw.

Notes and Corrections: The Ox Tribe

Oxen are subfamily Bovinae—including but not limited to genus Bos—of family Bovidae, order Artiodactyla.

There are about nine different species
[Sigh. There are at least nine genera, never mind species.]

engraving of “Common Ox” (male and female), no later than 1804

Shaw Zoology Vol. II plate 208:
Common Ox


From this animal are derived the many different II.74 varieties of common cattle found in various parts both of the old and new continent. In its wild and native state it is distinguished by its size, and the great depth and shagginess of its hair, which about the head, neck, and shoulders, is sometimes of such a length as almost to touch the ground. His horns are rather short, sharp-pointed, exceedingly strong, and stand distant from each other at their bases. His colour is generally either a dark or a yellowish brown. His limbs are very strong, and his whole aspect savage and gloomy.⁕1 He grows to so enormous a size as sometimes to weigh sixteen hundred or two thousand pounds, and the strongest man cannot lift the hide of one of these animals from the ground.⁕2 Wild Oxen are found in the marshy forests of Poland, among the Carpathian Mountains, in Lithuania, and also in several parts of Asia.

In Lord Tankerville’s park, at Chillingham, near Berwick-upon-Tweed, there is yet left a breed of wild cattle, probably the only remains of the true and genuine breed of that species at present to be found in this kingdom.

Their colour is invariably white, with the muzzle black, and the whole inside of the ear, and about one-third part of the outside, from the hip downwards, red. Their horns are white, with black tips, very fine, and bent downwards. The weight of the Oxen is from thirty-five to forty-five stone, and of the Cows, from twenty-five to thirty-five, 14 lb. to the stone.


At the first appearance of any person near them they set off in full gallop, and at the distance of two or three hundred yards wheel round and come boldly up again, tossing their heads in a menacing manner. On a sudden they make a full stop at the distance of forty or fifty yards, and look wildly at the object of their surprize; but, on the least motion, they all turn round, and gallop off again with equal speed, but not to the same distance, forming a smaller circle; and again returning with a bolder and more threatening aspect than before, they approach much nearer, probably within thirty yards, when they make another stand, and again gallop off. This they do several times, shortening their distance, and advancing nearer, till they come within a few yards, when most people think it prudent to leave them, not choosing to provoke them further, as it is probable that in a few turns more they would make an attack.

The mode of killing them was perhaps the only modern remains of the grandeur of ancient hunting. On notice being given that a wild Bull would be killed on a certain day, the inhabitants of the neighbourhood assembled, sometimes to the number of a hundred horsemen, and four or five hundred foot, all armed with guns or other weapons. Those on foot stood upon the walls, or got into trees, while the horsemen rode off a Bull from the rest of the herd, until he stood at bay, when they dismounted and fired. At some of these huntings twenty or thirty shots have been fired before the animal was subdued. On such occasions the bleeding victim grew desperately II.76 furious, from the smarting of his wounds, and the shouts of savage joy echoing from every side. But from the number of accidents which happened, this dangerous mode has been little practised of late years, the park-keeper alone generally killing them with a rifle-gun at one shot.

When the Cows calve they hide their young for a week or ten days, in some sequestered retreat, and go to suckle them two or three times a day. If any persons come near the Calves these clap their heads close to the ground, and lie like a hare in form, to hide themselves. This seems a proof of their native wildness, and it is corroborated by the following circumstance that happened to Dr. Fuller, the author of the History of Berwick, who found a hidden Calf two days old, very lean and weak. On his stroking its head it got up, pawed two or three times like an old Bull, bellowed very loud, went back a few steps, and bolted at his legs with all its force: it then began to paw again, bellowed, stepped back, and bolted as before. But being aware of its intentions, he moved aside, and it missed its aim, fell, and was so very weak, that though it made several efforts it was not able to rise. It, however, had done enough; the whole herd was alarmed, and coming to its rescue, they obliged him to retire.

When any one of them happens to be wounded, or is grown weak and feeble through age or sickness, the rest of the herd set upon and gore it to death.⁕3

There is scarcely any part of the Ox that is not of II.77 some use to mankind. Boxes, combs, knife-handles, and drinking-vessels, are made of the horns. The horns, when softened with boiling water, become so pliable, as to be formed into transparent plates for lanterns; an invention ascribed to King Alfred, who is said to have first used them to preserve his candle-time measurers from the wind. The dung of these animals is useful as manure. Glue is made of the cartilages, gristles, and the finer pieces of cuttings and parings of the hides, boiled in water, till they become gelatinous and the parts sufficiently dissolved, and then dried. The bone is a cheap substitute, in many instances, for ivory. The thinnest of the Calves-skins are manufactured into vellum. The blood is used as the basis of Prussian-blue. Sadlers and others use a fine sort of thread, prepared from the sinews, which is much stronger than any other equally fine. The hair is valuable in various manufactures; and the suet, fat, and tallow, for candles. The utility of the milk and cream is well known.

From the circumstance of these animals furnishing the Gentoos with milk, butter, and cheese, their favourite food, they bear for them a superstitious veneration, founded thus principally in gratitude. There is scarcely a Gentoo to be found that would not, were he under a forced option, prefer sacrificing his parents or children to the slaying of a Bull or Cow, Believing fully in the doctrine of transmigration, they are also alarmed at the idea of injuring the souls of those of their fellow-creatures that have taken their abode in these animal cases. This also tends to restrain them from destroying, designedly, any II.78 of the brute creation, and to prevent them from dispossessing, by violence, any being of that life which God alone can give; and they respect it in the flea equally with the elephant.⁕4

The Indians, who use the Ox in agriculture, think it more convenient for their purposes to be without horns. They have therefore a mode of impeding the growth of these, by making an incision, at a proper period, where the horns are first seen, and afterwards applying fire to the wounds.

I cannot conclude this article without a remark on the barbarous mode of slaughtering Oxen adopted in this country. Drawn with his horns to a ring, this wretched animal has his head sometimes shattered to pieces by the butcher’s axe before he falls. Three or four blows are often insufficient to deprive him of sensation, and it not unfrequently happens, that after the first or second blow he breaks loose from his murderers, and has to be seized and tied up afresh. Those who have heard his groans and bellowings on these occasions will easily be convinced of the agony he undergoes. The Portuguese slay their Oxen by passing a sharp knife through the vertebræ of the neck into the spine, which causes instant death. Lord Somerville took with him to Lisbon a person to be instructed in this method of “laying down cattle,” as it is termed there, in the hopes that our slaughtermen might be induced to take the same mode; but with unheard of stupidity and prejudice, they have hitherto invariably refused to adopt it, II.79 nor will they probably ever do it, unless compelled by some act of the legislature.

Synonyms. Bos Taurus. Linn.—Bœuf. Buffon.——Shaw’s Gen. Zool. ii. tab. 208. Bew. Quad. p. 34.

⁕1 Shaw’s Gen. Zool.

⁕2 Penn. Arct. Zool. i. 1.

⁕3 Fuller’s History of Berwick upon Tweed.—Bewick’s Quadrupeds.

⁕4 Grose, i. 184.

Notes and Corrections: The Common Ox

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Bos taurus (“bull bull” in two languages) remains the name of domestic cattle. Some sources consider the barely-extinct aurochs to be the same species, but most give it a name of its own, Bos primi­genius.

Bewick has many more pictures than the one Bingley chose to mention. All the others are various domestic breeds, while the one Bingley cites (here shown with the “Ox Tribe”, above) is labeled “Wild Cattle”.

Wild Oxen are found in the marshy forests of Poland . . . and also in several parts of Asia
[If he means the aurochs he is behind the times; the last one died in Poland in 1627. It is safe to say that anything found in Asia is not Bos taurus, though it may well be some other Bos species.]

these animals furnishing the Gentoos with milk, butter, and cheese
[Technically not “these animals” at all, but most likely Bubalus bubalis.]

engraving of American Bison, no later than 1804

Shaw Zoology Vol. II plate 206:
American Bison


The American Bison has short, rounded horns, pointing outwards. It is covered in many parts with long shaggy hair, and has a high protuberance on the shoulders. The fore-parts of the body are excessively thick and strong; and the hinder parts are comparatively very slender.

These animals range in droves, feeding in the open savannahs morning and evening. They retire during the sultry parts of the day to rest near shady rivulets and streams of water, frequently leaving so deep an impression of their feet in the moist land, (from the great weight of their bodies) as to be thus traced and shot by the artful Indians.⁕1 In this undertaking it is necessary that the men should be particularly careful, since, when only wounded, the animals become excessively furious. The hunters go against the wind, as the faculty of smell in the Bisons is so exquisite, that the moment they get scent of their enemy they retire with the utmost precipitation. With a favourable wind the men approach very near, since the II.80 animals are frequently almost blinded by the hair that covers their eyes. In taking aim they direct their piece to the hollow of the shoulder, by which means they generally bring them down at one shot. If they do not fall, they immediately run upon their enemy, and, with their horns and hoofs, as offensive weapons, tear him in pieces, and trample him into the earth.⁕2

engraving of American Bison, no later than 1804

Shaw Zoology Vol. II plate 207:
American Bison

They are so amazingly strong, that when they fly through the woods from a pursuer, they frequently brush down trees as thick as a man’s arm; and, be the snow ever so deep, such is their strength and agility, that they are able to plunge through it much faster than the swiftest Indian can run in snow-shoes. “To this (says Mr. Hearne) I have been an eye-witness many times, and once had the vanity to think that I could have kept pace with them; but though I was at that time celebrated for being particularly fleet in snow-shoes, I soon found that I was no match for the Bisons, notwithstanding they were then plunging through such deep snow, that their bellies made a trench in it as large as if many heavy sacks had been hauled through it.⁕3

In Canada the hunting of the Bison is a very common employment of the natives. They draw up in a large square, and commence their operations by setting fire to the grass, which, at certain seasons, is very long and dry. As the fire goes on they advance, closing their ranks as they proceed. The animals, alarmed by the light, gallop confusedly about II.81 till they are hemmed in so close that frequently not a single beast is able to escape.⁕4

In Louisiana the men mount on horseback, each with a sharp crescent-pointed spear in his hand.—They approach with the wind, and, as soon as the animals smell them, they instantly make off; but the sight of the Horses moderates their fear, and the majority of them, from their luxuriant feeding, are, at certain times of the year, so fat and unwieldy, as easily to be enticed to slacken their pace. As soon as the men overtake them, they endeavour to strike the crescent just above the ham, in such manner as to cut through the tendons, and render them afterwards an easy prey.⁕5

The hunting of these animals is also common in several parts of South America. It commences with a sort of festivity, and ends in an enter­tainment in which one of their carcases supplies the only ingredient. As soon as a herd of cattle is seen on the plain, the most fleet and active of the horsemen prepare to attack them, and, descending in the form of a widely extended crescent, hunt them in all directions. After a while they become so jaded and weary, that they seem ready to sink under their fatigue; but the hunters, still urging them to flight by their loud cries, drive them at last from the field. Such as are unable to exert the necessary speed for escape are slaughtered. The hunters from these supply themselves with what flesh they want, and abandon the rest to the Wolves.⁕6


The sagacity which the animals exhibit in defending themselves against the attacks of the Wolves is admirable. When they scent the approach of a drove of those ravenous creatures, the herd throws itself into the form of a circle, having the weakest in the middle, and the strongest ranged on the outside,thus presenting an impenetrable front of horns.—When, however, they are taken by surprize and have recourse to flight, numbers of those that are fattest and most weak infallibly perish.⁕7

Attempts have been made to domesticate these animals, by catching the calves and herding them with the common kind, in hopes of improving the breed. This has not, however, been found to answer, for, when they grew up, they always became impatient of restraint, and, from their great strength, would break down the strongest enclosure, and entice the tame cattle to follow them.

The uses of the Bison are various. Powder-flasks are made of their horns. The skin forms an excellent buff leather, and, when dressed with the hair on, serves the Indians for clothes and shoes. The Europeans of Louisiana use them for blankets, and find them light, warm, and soft. The flesh is a considerable article of food, and the bunch on the shoulders is esteemed a great delicacy. The bulls, when fat, frequently yield each a hundred and fifty pounds weight of tallow, which forms a considerable article of commerce. The hair or wool is spun into gloves, stockings, and garters, that are very II.83 strong, and look as well as those made of the finest Sheep’s wool. Governor Pownal assures us that the most luxurious clothing may be manufactured from it.⁕8

Synonyms.—Bos Americanus. Linn.—Bison d’Amerique. Buff.—American Bison. Smellie.—Buffalo. Lawson. Catesby.—American Buffalo. Hearne.—American Ox and American Bison. Penn.——Shaw’s Gen. Zool. ii. tab. 206. 207.

⁕1 “The head of an old Bull (says Mr. Hearne) is of a great size and weight indeed: some that I have seen were so large, that I could not, without difficulty, lift them from the ground.” Journey to the Northern Ocean, p. 251.

⁕2 Catesby, ii. p. xxvii. Du Pratz, 254.

⁕3 Hearne, 253.

⁕4 Charlevoix, i. 204.

⁕5 Du Pratz, 173.

⁕6 Pages, i. 88.

⁕7 Du Pratz, 144.

⁕8 Pennant’s Arctic Zoology.

Notes and Corrections: The American Bison

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Linnaeus’s Bos Americanus is now known as Bison bison.

Shaw’s two illustrations suggest that, as with the Reindeer, at least one of his illustrators had never set eyes on a bison.

The hunting of these animals is also common in several parts of South America.
[Nope, not these animals. He’s looking at feral Bubalus bubalis or Bos taurus.]

the bunch on the shoulders is esteemed a great delicacy
[Back in the Camel section, our author similarly used the word “bunch” interchangeably with “hunch”.]

engraving of Buffalo, no later than 1804

Shaw Zoology Vol. II plate 211 (partial):


The Buffalo, in its general form, has a great resemblance to the common Ox, but it differs from it in its horns, and in some particulars of its internal structure. It is larger than the Ox; the head is also bigger in proportion, the forehead higher, and the muzzle longer. The horns are large, and of a compressed form, with the exterior edge sharp: they are strait for a considerable length from their base, and then bend slightly upwards.⁕1 The general colour of the animal is blackish, except the forehead, and the tip of the tail, which are of a dusky white. The hunch is not, as many have supposed it, a large fleshy lump, but is occasioned by the bones that form the withers being continued to a greater length than in most other animals.

Buffaloes are natives of the warmer parts of India and Africa, but have been introduced into some of the countries of Europe, where they are now become naturalized. In Italy they are perfectly domes­ticated, and constitute an essential part both of the riches and food of the poor. They are there employed in agriculture; and butter and cheese are made from II.84 their milk.—These animals are very common in Western Hindostan. They are fond of wallowing in mud, and will swim over the broadest rivers. During inundations they are frequently observed to dive ten or twelve feet deep, to force up with their horns the aquatic plants, which they eat while swimming.⁕2

In many parts of the east, as well as in Italy, the Buffaloes are domes­ticated. It is said to be a singular sight to see, morning and evening, large herds of them cross the Tigris and Euphrates. They proceed, all wedged against each other, the herdsman riding on one of them, sometimes standing upright, and sometimes couching down; and if any of the exterior ones are out of order, stepping lightly from back to back, to drive them along.⁕3

A very singular circumstance relative to these animals, is recorded by those who completed the voyage to the Pacific Ocean, begun by Captain Cook. When at Pulo Condore they procured eight Buffaloes, which were to be conducted to the ships, by ropes put through their nostrils and round their horns; but when these were brought within sight of the ship’s people, they became so furious that some of them tore out the cartilage of their nostrils, and set themselves at liberty; and others broke down even the shrubs to which it was frequently found necessary to fasten them. All attempts to get them on board would have proved fruitless, had it not been for some children whom the animals would suffer to II.85 approach them, and by whose puerile management their rage was quickly appeased: and, when the animals were brought to the beach, it was by their assistance in twisting ropes about their legs, that the men were enabled to throw them down, and by that means get them into the boats. And what appears to have been no less singular than this circumstance was, that they had not been a day on board before they became perfectly gentle.⁕4

The skin and horns of the Buffalo are its most valuable parts; the former being extremely strong and durable, and consequently well adapted for various purposes in which a strong leather is required. The latter have a fine grain, are strong, and bear a good polish; and are, therefore, much valued by cutlers and other artificers.—The flesh is said to be excellent eating; and it is so entirely free from any disagreeable smell or taste, that it resembles beef as nearly as possible. The flesh of the Cows, when sometime gone with young, is esteemed the finest; and the young Calves are reckoned by the Americans the greatest possible delicacy.

Synonyms.—Bos Bubalus. Linn. Buffle. Buff.—Buffalo. Penn.

⁕1 Mr. Pennant says they have been known to grow to the length of ten feet each. Outlines, iii. 115.

⁕2 Penn. Outlines of the Globe, iii. 115.

⁕3 D’Obsonville, 134.

⁕4 Cook’s Last Voyage, iv. 271.

Notes and Corrections: The Buffalo

Bos bubalus has been promoted to its own genus, Bubalus. The most familiar is B. bubalis.

I don’t know why Bingley didn’t list Shaw’s plate; it is clearly labeled Buffalo.

engraving of (Cape) Buffalo, no later than 1804

Bewick Quadrupeds page 43:


The savage disposition of this animal renders it well known about the Cape of Good Hope, and in the several other parts of Africa where it is found. It is very large and enormously strong. The fore II.86 parts of the body are covered with long, coarse, and black hair. The horns are thick, and rugged at the base, sometimes measuring three feet in length, and lying so flat as to cover almost all the top of the head. The ears are large and slouching. The body and limbs are very thick and muscular; and the animal is above eight feet long and six in height. The head hangs down and bears a most fierce and malevolent aspect.

In the plains of Caffraria the Buffaloes are so common that it is by no means unusual to see a hundred and fifty, or two hundred, of them in a herd. They generally retire to the thickets and woods in the day time, and at night go out into the plains to graze.⁕1—Treacherous in the extreme, they frequently conceal themselves among the trees, and there stand lurking till some unfortunate passenger comes by, when the animal at once rushes out into the road, and attacks the traveller, who has no chance to escape but by climbing up a tree, if he is fortunate enough to be near one. Flight is of no avail, he is speedily overtaken by the furious beast, who, not contented with throwing him down and killing him, stands over him even for a long time afterwards, trampling him with his hoofs, and crushing him with his knees; and not only mangles and tears the body to pieces with his horns and teeth, but likewise strips off the skin, by licking it with his tongue. Nor does he perform all this at once, but often retires to some distance from the body, and returns with savage ferocity to gratify afresh his cruel inclination.⁕2


As Professor Thunberg was travelling in Caffraria, he and his companions had just entered a wood, when they discovered a large old male Buffalo, lying quite alone, in a spot that, for the space of a few square yards, was free from bushes. The animal no sooner observed the guide, who went first, than, with a horrible roar, he rushed upon him. The fellow turned his Horse short round behind a large tree, and the Buffalo rushed straight forwards to the next man, and gored his Horse so dreadfully in the belly that it died soon after. These two climbed into trees, and the furious animal made his way towards the rest, of whom the Professor was one, who were approaching, but at some distance. A Horse without a rider was in the front; as soon as the Buffalo saw him he became more outrageous than before, and attacked him with such fury that he not only drove his horns into the Horse’s breast, but even out again through the very saddle.⁕3 This Horse was thrown to the ground with such excessive violence that he instantly died, and many of his bones were broken. Just at this moment the Professor happened to come up, but from the narrowness of the path, having no room to turn round, he was glad to abandon his Horse, and take refuge in a tolerably high tree. The Buffalo, however, had finished, for after the destruction of the second Horse he turned suddenly round, and gallopped away.⁕4

Some time after this the Professor and his party espied an extremely large herd of Buffaloes grazing II.88 on a plain. Being now sufficiently apprized of the disposition of these animals, and knowing that they would not attack any person in the open plains, they approached within forty paces, and fired amongst them. The whole troop, notwithstanding the individual intrepidity of the animals, surprized by the sudden flash and report, turned about, and made off towards the woods. The wounded Buffaloes separated from the rest of the herd from inability to keep pace with them. Amongst these was an old bull Buffalo, which ran with fury towards the party. They knew that, from the situation of the eyes of these animals, they could see in scarcely any other direction than straight forward; and that in an open plain, if a man that was pursued darted out of the course and threw himself flat on the ground, they would gallop forward to a considerable distance before they missed him. These circumstances prevented their suffering any material alarm. The animal from this contrivance passed close by them, and fell before he appeared to have discovered his error. Such, however, was his strength, that notwithstanding the ball had entered his chest, and penetrated through the greatest part of his body, he ran at full speed several hundred paces before he fell.⁕5

The Cape Buffalo is frequently hunted both by Europeans and by the natives of South Africa. In Caffraria he is generally killed by means of javelins, which the inhabitants use with considerable dexterity. II.89 When a Caffre has discovered the place where several Buffaloes are collected together he blows a pipe, made of the thigh-bone of a Sheep, which is heard at a great distance. The moment his comrades hear this notice they run up to the spot, and surrounding the animals, which they take care to approach by degrees, lest they should alarm them, throw their javelins at them. This is generally done with so sure an aim that out of eight or twelve it is very rarely that a single one escapes. It sometimes happens, however, that while the Buffaloes are running off some one of the hunters who stands in the way is tossed and killed; but this is a circumstance not much regarded by the Caffrarians. When the chace is ended each one cuts off and takes away his share of the game.⁕6

Some Europeans at the Cape once chaced a Buffalo, and having driven him into a narrow place he turned round, and instantly pushed at one of his pursuers, who had on a red waistcoat. The man, to save his life, ran to the water, plunged in, and swam off: the animal followed him so closely that the poor fellow had no alternative but that of diving. He dipped overhead, and the Buffalo, losing sight of him, swam on towards the opposite shore, three miles distant, and, as was supposed, would have reached it, had he not been shot by a gun from a ship lying at a little distance. The skin was presented to the Governor of the Cape, who had it stuffed, and placed it among his collection of curiosities.⁕7


Like the Hog this animal is fond of wallowing in the mire. His flesh is lean, but juicy, and of a high flavour. The hide is so thick and tough, that targets, musket-proof, are formed of it; and even while the animal is alive it is said to be in many parts impenetrable to a leaden musket-ball: balls hardened with a mixture of tin are, therefore, always used, and even these are often flattened by the resistance. Of the skin the strongest and best thongs for harness are made.⁕8—The Hottentots, who never put themselves to any great trouble in dressing their victuals, cut the Buffaloes’ flesh into slices, and then smoke, and at the same time half broil it, over a few coals. They also frequently eat it in a state of putrefaction. They dress the hides by stretching them on the ground with stakes, afterwards strewing them over with warm ashes, and then with a knife scraping off the hair.⁕9

Synonyms.—Bos Cafer. Linn.—Cape Ox. Penn. Kerr.—Cape Buffalo. Sparrman.—African Buffalo. Church.—Buffalo. Bewick.——Bew. Quad. p. 43.

⁕1 Thunberg, i. 194.

⁕2 Sparrman.

⁕3 We are not informed of what materials the Hottentot saddles are made.

⁕4 Thunberg, i. 184.

⁕5 Thunberg, ii. 84.

⁕6 Thunberg, i. 205.

⁕7 Kolben, ii. 109.

⁕8 Church.

⁕9 Thunberg, i. 192-195.

Notes and Corrections: The Cape Buffalo

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Bos cafer or caffer is now Syncerus caffer, the African buffalo. The Cape buffalo is S. caffer caffer; there are several other subspecies. From this we deduce that the international zoological community sees nothing wrong with the word “kaffir” (the South African equiva­lent of “nigger”, only more so) as long as you spell it with a C.

Though Bewick’s illustration is simply labeled “The Buffalo”, his prose is mostly about the African buffalo rather than any Eurasian variety.

The savage disposition of this animal
[The Cape buffalo is not the single most dangerous mammal in Africa—that honor goes to the hippopotamus, consistently respon­sible for the most human deaths per year—but is definitely in the Top Five.]

he turned suddenly round, and gallopped away
spelling unchanged


engraving of Domestic Horse, no later than 1804

Shaw Zoology Vol. II plate 214 (partial):
Domestic Horse


The animals of this tribe perform various and essential services to mankind.—All the species, except one, have single hoofs: this, however, which is an inhabitant of the mountains of South America, has divided hoofs, as in the several kinds of cattle. They all fight by biting, and kicking with their hind-feet; and they have the singular property of breathing only through the nostrils.

They are gregarious, and in a wild state inhabit the most retired deserts. Of the six species now known, only one has been discovered as a native of the New Continent, the rest being confined to Africa and Asia.

The generic characters of the Horse are six parallel front-teeth in the upper, and six in the lower-jaw, the latter somewhat projecting. There is also one canine-tooth on each side, in both jaws, remote from the rest.

⁕1 This tribe commences the Linnean order Belluæ; the animals of which have obtuse front-teeth; and their feet armed with hoofs, in some species whole or rounded, and in others obscurely lobed or subdivided. They live on vegetable food. The genera are the Horse, Hippopotamus, Tapir and Hog.

Notes and Corrections: The Horse Tribe

With horses we move on to a whole new order, Perissodactyla or odd-toed ungulates. Linnaeus was mistaken in assigning pigs and hippopotamuses to this order—both go with the Even-Toed Ungulates, like cows and goats—but props to him all the same for getting the rest of it right: horse, tapir, rhinoceros.

Of the six species now known
[Subtracting the pigs and hippopotamuses we are left with six genera: horses, tapirs . . . and four kinds of rhinoceros.]

engraving of Wild Horse, no later than 1804

Shaw Zoology Vol. II plate 214 (partial):
Wild Horse


The Horse is a native of several parts of Asia and Africa; and in the southern parts of Siberia large herds of them are occasionally seen. They are extremely II.92 swift, active, and vigilant; and, like some other tribes of animals, have always a centinel, who gives notice to the herd of the approach of danger, by a loud neigh, on which they all gallop off, with astonishing rapidity.

In Ukraine, where wild Horses are often found, from the impracticability of taming them, they are made no otherwise serviceable to man than as food. The flesh both of the young and old animals is very commonly exposed for sale in the markets. The latter is said to eat much like beef; whilst that of the foals is as white and more tender than veal.⁕1

The wild Horses of South America are of Spanish origin, and entirely of the Andalusian breed. They are now become so numerous as to live in herds, some of which are said to consist of ten thousand. As soon as they perceive domestic Horses in the fields they gallop up to them, caress, and, by a kind of grave and prolonged neighing, invite them to run off. The domestic Horses are soon seduced, unite themselves to the independent herd, and depart along with them. It happens not unfrequently that travellers are stopped on the road by the effect of this desertion. To prevent this they halt as soon as they perceive these wanderers, watch their own Horses, and endeavour to frighten away the others: in this case the wild Horses resort to stratagem; some are detached before, and the rest advance in a close column, which nothing can interrupt. If they are so alarmed as to be obliged to retire, they change their II.93 direction, but without suffering themselves to be dispersed. Sometimes they make several turns round those they wish to seduce, in order to frighten them; but they often retire after making one turn. When the inhabitants wish to convert some of these wild Horses into domestic ones, which they find not very difficult to be done, persons mounted on horseback attack a troop of them, and when they approach them, they throw ropes, with great care, round their legs, which prevent them from running away. When brought home they are tied with a halter to a stake or a tree, without food or drink, for two or three days. After this they are cut, and then broke in the same manner as the domestic Horses. They soon become docile, but if not carefully watched will again join their wild friends.⁕2

The Horse, in a domestic or improved state, is found in almost every part of the world, except, perhaps, within the Arctic circle; and its reduction and conquest may be considered as the greatest acquisition from the animal world, that the art and industry of man have ever made. As domestics their docility and gentleness are unparalleled, and they contribute more to the convenience and pride of man than all other animals put together.

In Arabia they are found in their highest perfection, as little degenerated in their race and powers as the Lion or Tiger. To the Arabs they are as dear as their own children; and the constant intercourse, arising from living in the same tent with II.94 their owner and his family, creates a familiarity that could not otherwise be effected, and a tractability that arises only from the kindest usage. They are the fleetest animals of the desert, and are so well trained as to stop in their most rapid course, by the slightest check of the rider. Unaccustomed to the spur, the least touch with the foot sets them again in motion; and so obedient are they to the rider’s will, as to be directed in their course merely by the motion of a switch. They form the principal riches of many of the Arab tribes, who use them both in the chace and in their plundering expeditions. In the day-time they are generally kept saddled at the door of the tent, prepared for any excursion their master may take.⁕3 They never carry heavy burthens, nor are employed on long journies. Their constant food, except in spring, when they get a little grass, is barley, which they are suffered to eat only during the night.⁕4 The Arab, his wife, and children, always lie in the same apartment with the mare and foal, who, instead of injuring, suffer the children to rest on their bodies and necks without in the least incommoding them: the gentle animals even seem afraid to move lest they should hurt them. They never beat or correct their horses, but always treat them with the utmost kindness: they talk to and reason with them.

The whole stock of a poor Arabian of the desert consisted of a beautiful Mare; this the French Consul at Said offered to purchase, with an intention II.95 to send her to Louis the fourteenth. The Arab, pressed by want, hesitated a long time, but at length consented, on condition of receiving a very considerable sum of money, which he named. The Consul wrote to France for permission to close the bargain, and having obtained it, sent immediately to the Arab the information. The man, so poor as to possess only a miserable rag, a covering for his body, arrived with his magnificent courser. He dismounted, and looking first at the gold, and then stedfastly at his Mare, heaved a deep sigh:—“To whom is it (he exclaimed) that I am going to yield thee up? To Europeans! who will tie thee close, who will beat thee, who will render thee miserable! Return with me, my beauty, my jewel! and rejoice the hearts of my children!” As he pronounced the last words, he sprang upon her back, and was out of sight almost in a moment.⁕5—What an amiable and affecting sensibility in a man, who, in the midst of distress, could prefer all the disasters attendant on poverty rather than surrender the animal that he had long fostered in his tent, and had been the child of his bosom, to what he supposed inevitable misery! The temptation even of riches, and an effectual relief from poverty had not sufficient allurements to induce him to so cruel an act.

“The Horses of the Bedouin Arabs, whose lives (says Sonnini) are spent in traversing the scorching sands, are able, notwithstanding the fervency of the sun, and the suffocating heat of the soil over which II.96 they pass, to travel three days without drinking, and are contented with a few handsful of dried beans given once in twenty-four hours. From the hardness of their labour and diet they are of course very lean, yet they preserve incomparable vigour and courage.⁕6

Several of the other eastern countries, as Persia, Æthiopia, Egypt, and Barbary, have derived their breed of Horses from Arabia, and in these climates the same character and manners seem to be retained: they are all spirited, strong, and active. The description of the Eastern Horses in the Book of Job, is exceedingly poetical and expressive:—“Hast thou given the Horse strength? hast thou clothed his neck with thunder? Canst thou make him afraid as a Grasshopper? The glory of his nostrils is terrible. He paweth in the valley, and rejoiceth in his strength: he goeth on to meet the armed men: He mocketh at fear, and is not affrighted; neither turneth he back from the sword. The quiver rattleth against him, the glittering spear, and the shield. He swalloweth the ground with fierceness and rage: neither believeth he that it is the sound of the trumpet. He saith among the trumpets, ha, ha; and he smelleth the battle afar off, the thunder of the captains and the shouting.”⁕7

The fiery courser, when he hears from far,

The sprightly trumpets, and the shouts of war,

Pricks up his ears, and trembling with delight,

Shifts place, and paws, and hopes the promised fight.


On his right shoulder his thick mane reclin’d,

Ruffles at speed, and dances in the wind:

His horny hoofs are jetty black and round;

His chine is double; starting with a bound,

He turns the turf, and shakes the solid ground.

Fire from his eyes, clouds from his nostrils flow;

He bears his rider headlong on the foe.⁕8

In Norway, where the roads are most of them impassable for carriages, the Horses, which are nearly all stallions, are remarkably sure-footed, they skip along over the stones, and are always full of spirit. Pontoppidan says, when they go up and down a steep cliff, on stones like steps, they first gently tread with one foot, to try if the stone be firm; and in this they must be left entirely to their own management, or the best rider in the world would run the risk of breaking his neck. When they have to descend steep and slippery places, and such frequently occur, they, in a surprising manner, like the Asses of the Alps (which I shall next mention) draw their hind legs together under their bodies, and thus slide down. They exhibit much courage when they contend, as they are often under the necessity of doing, with the Wolves and Bears, but particularly with the latter. When the Horse perceives any of these animals near him, and has a Mare or Gelding with him, he first puts these behind out of the way, and then furiously attacks his enemy with his fore-legs, which he uses so expertly as generally to come off the conqueror. Sometimes, however, the II.98 Bear, who has twice the strength of his adversary, gets the advantage, particularly if the Horse makes at any attempt, by turning round, to kick him with his hind-legs; for the Bear then instantly closes upon him, and keeps such firm hold as scarcely by any means whatever to be shaken off: the Horse in this case gallops away with his enemy, till he falls down and expires from loss of blood.⁕9

There are few countries that can boast a breed of Horses so excellent as our own. The English hunters are allowed to be among the noblest, most elegant, and useful animals in the world. Whilst the French, and many other European nations, seem only attentive to spirit and parade, we train ours principally for strength and dispatch. Theirs, however, have the advantage of never coming down before, as ours do, because, in breaking, they put them more on their haunches, while we, perhaps, throw them too much forward. With unwearied attention, however, to the breed, and repeated trials of all the best Horses in different parts of the world, ours are now become capable of performing what no others can. Among our racers we have had one (Childers) which has been known to pass over eighty-two feet and a half in a second of time, a degree of fleetness perhaps unequalled by any other Horse. In the year 1745, the post-master of Stretton rode, on different Horses, along the road to and from London, no less than 215 miles in eleven hours and a half, a rate of above eighteen miles an II.99 hour: and in July, 1788, a Horse belonging to a gentleman of Billiter-square, London, was trotted for a wager thirty miles in an hour and twenty-five minutes, which is at the rate of more than twenty-one miles an hour.—In London there have been instances of a single Horse drawing, for a short space, the weight of three tons: and some of the pack Horses of the north usually carry burthens weighing upwards of four hundred pounds; but the most remarkable proof of the strength of the British Horses is in our mill Horses, some of which have been known to carry, at one load, thirteen measures of corn, that in the whole would amount to more than nine hundred pounds in weight.

Though endowed with vast strength, and great powers of body, such is the disposition of the Horse, that it rarely exerts either to its master’s prejudice: on the contrary, it will endure fatigues, even to death, for our benefit. Providence seems to have implanted in him a benevolent disposition, and a fear of the human race, with, at the same time, a certain consciousness of the services we can render him.⁕10 We have, however, one instance of recollection of injury, and an attempt to revenge it. This is inserted in a work of D. Rolle, Esq. of Torrington, in Devonshire:—A Baronet, one of whose hunters had never tired in the longest chace, once encouraged the cruel thought of attempting completely to fatigue him. After a long chace, therefore, he dined, and again mounting, rode him furiously among the hills. II.100 When brought to the stable, his strength appeared exhausted, and he was scarcely able to walk. The groom, possessed of more feeling than his brutal master, could not refrain from tears at the sight of so noble an animal thus sunk down. The Baronet some time after entered the stable, and the Horse made a furious spring upon him, and had not the groom interfered, would soon have put it out of his power of ever again misusing his animals.

The barbarous custom of docking the tails, and cutting the ears of Horses, is in this country very prevalent. The former, principally with waggon Horses, under the pretence that a bushy tail collects the dirt of the roads; and the latter, from the idea that they are rendered more elegant in their appearance. Thus, from ideal necessity, we deprive them of two parts of their body principally instrumental, not only to their own ease and comfort, but in their utility to us. By taking away their ears, the funnels are destroyed which they always direct to the place from whence any sound is heard, and they are thus rendered nearly deaf. And in the loss of their tail, they find even a still greater inconvenience. During summer they are perpetually teazed with swarms of insects, that either attempt to suck their blood, or to deposit their eggs in the rectum, which they have now no means of lashing off; and in winter they are deprived of a necessary protection against the cold.

But of all others the custom that we have adopted, for it is found in no other nation than this, of nicking them, is the most useless and absurd. It is an affecting sight to go into the stable of some eminent II.101 horse-dealer, and there behold a range of fine and beautiful steeds with their tails cut and slashed, tied up by pullies to give them force, suffering such torture that they sometimes never recover the savage gashes they have received; and for what is all this done?—that they may hold their tails somewhat higher than they otherwise would, and be for ever after deprived of the power of moving the joints of them as a defence against Flies!

I have another abuse to notice, observable in those who shoe Horses. The stupid blacksmith, in order to save himself a little trouble, will frequently apply the shoe red-hot to the Horse’s foot, that it may burn for itself a bed in the hoof, and fit it for its reception. “The utmost severity (says Lord Pembroke) ought to be inflicted on all those who clap shoes on hot. This unpardonable laziness of farriers, in making feet thus to fit shoes, instead of shoes to fit the feet, dries up the hoofs, and utterly destroys them.”⁕11 It is of the most ruinous consequence, hardening and cracking the hoofs, and inducing even the most fatal disorders. The joints, the wind, and the eyes, are injured by it, and the gross humours which naturally descend to the feet, and ought to be carried off by insensible perspiration, are detained from the hardness of the surface they have to penetrate.

In the history of the Academy of Sciences at Paris, a mode is laid down by which Horses may at any time be stopped, when they become so unruly as to II.102 run away. This is founded on the principle of their always standing still when suddenly deprived of sight. M. Dalesme has there shewn a very easy manner of disposing two lines, which let fall at once upon the eyes of each of two coach Horses, a piece of leather so as immediately to hinder them from seeing. These cords may be pulled from within the carriage. This appears capable of being improved into an useful preventive to the fatal accidents which sometimes occur from unruly or highly fed Horses.⁕12

The stomach of Horses is small, and at the cardia there is a little valve which renders them incapable of vomiting. Their natural diseases are few, but our ill-usage, or neglect, or, which is very frequent, our over-care of them, bring on a numerous train, which are often fatal. They sleep but little, and this, in general, on their legs. If properly treated, they will live from forty to fifty years.

A French writer, Lasterie, has lately published a description of a Horse without hair, which he considers as forming a variety in the species, and whose state, he says, is neither the effect of art nor of disease. This Horse, purchased at Vienna, and taken from the Turks, appeared to be about twenty years of age. He ate the same food, and in about the same quantity, as other Horses, was lean, and very easily affected by cold. There was not upon the whole body any hair except the eye-lashes of the lower eye-lid. II.103 His skin was black, bordering upon grey, with some white spots under the fore-shoulders, and in the groins: it was also soft to the touch, glossy, and a little unctuous. The bones of the nose were depressed, which embarrassed his respiration, and produced a noise each time that he took in or emitted air.⁕13

Synonyms.—Equus caballus. Linn.—Cheval. Buffon.—Wild Horse. Bell.——Shaw’s Gen. Zool. ii. tab. 214.

⁕1 Beauplau’s description of Ukraine: Churchill’s Coll. i. 601.

⁕2 Account of the wild Horses in Spanish America, by D. Felix Azzara, from Phil. Mag. v. 330.

⁕3 Irwin’s Voyage, i. 6.

⁕4 Penn. Brit. Zool. ii. 637.

⁕5 Studies of Nature.

⁕6 Sonnini, ii. 298.

⁕7 Job, xxxix. v. 19-26.

⁕8 Virgil Georg. iii, l. 82.

⁕9 Pontoppidan, part ii. p. 3.

⁕10 Penn. Brit. Zool. i.

⁕11 Method of treating Horses, p. 186.

⁕12 Martyn, iii. 91.

⁕13 Journal de Physique.

Notes and Corrections: The Common Horse

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As with cows and sheep, Bewick has lots of horse pictures to choose from, but they are all identified as particular breeds or varieties: Arabian, Race-Horse, Hunter and so on.

Equus caballus (“horse horse”) still has this name. Most of the time, when the two halves of a binomial mean the same thing, one word is Latin while the other is Greek. Here, one word is classical Latin while the other is late Latin.

The Arab, pressed by want, hesitated a long time
text has hesistated

if the Horse makes at any attempt . . . to kick him
[The word “at” seems superfluous, but the 1st edition has the same wording.]

eighty-two feet and a half in a second of time
[File under: Pics or it didn’t happen. For comparison purposes, eighty-eight feet in a second is a mile a minute (60 mph or almost 100 kph). Besides, a reliable stopwatch is still several decades away.]

[Footnote] Account of the wild Horses in Spanish America, by D. Felix Azzara
text has hy D. Felix

[Footnote] Studies of Nature.
[In the List of Sources, it is under the name of the author, St. Pierre.]

[Footnote] Virgil Georg. iii, l. 82
[Dryden’s 1697 translation, in which this is lines iii.130-140.]

engraving of Ass, no later than 1804

Shaw Zoology Vol. II plate 216:


The Ass is found wild in the mountainous deserts of Tartary, the southern parts of India and Persia, and in some parts of Africa. In its native state it exhibits an appearance very far superior, both in point of vivacity and beauty, to the animals of the same species in a state of domes­tication.

Asses live in separate herds, each consisting of a chief, and several mares and colts, sometimes to the number of twenty. They are excessively timid, and provident against danger. A male takes on him the care of the herd, and is always on the watch. If they observe a hunter, who, by creeping along the ground, has got near them, the centinel takes a great circuit, and goes round and round him, as discovering somewhat to be apprehended. As soon as the animal is satisfied, he rejoins the herd, which sets off with great precipitation. Sometimes his curiosity costs him his life; for he approaches so near as to give the hunter an opportunity of shooting him.—The II.104 senses of hearing and smelling in the wild Asses are most exquisite; so that they are not in general to be approached without the utmost difficulty.—The Persians catch them and break them for the draught. They make pits, which they fill about half up with plants: into these the Asses fall without bruising themselves, and are taken thence alive. When completely domes­ticated they are very valuable and sell at a high price, being at all times celebrated for their amazing swiftness.

The food of the wild Asses is the saltest plants of the deserts, such as the atriplex, kali, and chenopodium; and also the better milky tribes of herbs. They also prefer salt water to fresh. This is exactly conformable to the history given of this animal in the book of Job, for the words “barren land,” expressive of his dwelling, ought, according to the learned Bochart, to be rendered salt places. The hunters generally lie in wait for the Asses near the ponds of brackish water, to which they resort to drink.⁕1

engraving of Ass, no later than 1804

Bewick Quadrupeds page 17:

The Ass, like the Horse, was Imported into America by the Spaniards: and that country seems to be peculiarly favourable to this race of animals; for, where they have run wild, they have multiplied in such numbers, that in some places they have become quite a nuisance. In the kingdom of Quito, the owners of the grounds where they are bred, suffer all persons to take away as many as they can, on paying a small acknowledgment, in proportion to the II.105 number of days the sport of hunting them lasts. They catch them in the following manner:—A number of persons go on horseback, and are attended by Indians on foot; when arrived at the proper places, they form a circle in order to drive them into some valley; where, at full speed, they throw the noose, and endeavour to halter them. The creatures, finding themselves inclosed, make very furious efforts to escape; and, if only one forces his way through, they all follow with an irresistible impetuosity. However, when noosed, the hunters throw them down and secure them with fetters, and thus leave them till the chace is over. Then, in order to bring them away with greater facility, they pair them with tame Asses; but this is not easily performed, for they are so remarkably fierce, that they often wound the persons who undertake to manage them.

They have all the swiftness of Horses, and neither declivities nor precipices can retard their career.—When attacked, they defend themselves by means of their heels and mouth with such address, that, without slackening their pace, they often maim their pursuers. But the most remarkable property in these creatures is, that, after carrying their first load, their celerity leaves them, their dangerous ferocity is lost, and they soon contract the stupid look, and the dulness peculiar to their species. It is also observable that these creatures will not permit a Horse to live among them. They always feed together; and, if a Horse happens to stray into the place where they graze, they all fall upon him, and, without even giving him the choice of flying, bite and kick him till they leave him dead on the spot.


The manner in which the Asses descend the precipices of the Alps or the Andes is truly extraordinary, and deserves to be recorded. In the passes of these mountains there are often on one side steep eminences, and on the other frightful abysses; and, as these generally follow the direction of the mountain, the road, instead of lying on a level, forms at every little distance steep declivities of several hundred yards downwards. These can only be descended by Asses; and the animals themselves seem sensible of the danger, by the caution that they use. When they come to the edge of one of the descents, they stop of themselves, without being checked by the rider; and, if he inadvertently attempts to spur them on, they continue immoveable. They seem all this time ruminating on the danger that lies before them, and preparing themselves for the encounter. They not only attentively view the road, but tremble and snort at the danger. Having prepared for their descent, they place their fore-feet in a posture as it they were stopping themselves; they then also put their hinder feet together, but a little forward, as if they were about to lie down. In this attitude, having taken a survey of the road, they slide down with the swiftness of a meteor. In the mean time all that the rider has to do is to keep himself fast on the saddle, without checking the rein, for the least motion is sufficient to disorder the equilibrium of the Ass, in which case both must unavoidably perish. But their address in this rapid descent is truly wonderful; for, in their swiftest motion, when they seem to have lost all government of themselves, they II.107 follow exactly the different windings of the road, as if they had previously settled in their minds the route they were to follow, and taken every precaution for their safety. In this journey, the natives, who are placed along the sides of the mountains, and hold themselves by the roots of the trees, animate the beasts with shouts, and encourage them to perseverance. Some Asses, after being long used to these journies, acquire a kind of reputation for their safety and skill; and their value rises in proportion to their fame.

In Spain the breed of Asses has, by care and attention, become the finest in the world: they are large, strong, elegant, and stately animals, and are often found to rise to fifteen hands high. The best of them sell sometimes for a hundred guineas each or upwards. This shews that the Ass may, notwithstanding all our prejudices, and our generally contemptuous opinion of it, be rendered even an elegant, as well as an useful animal. The Romans had a breed which they held in such high estimation, that Pliny mentions one of the stallions selling for a price greater than three thousand pounds of our money; and he says that in Celtiberia, a province in Spain, a she Ass has brought colts which were bought for nearly the same sum. And Varro speaks of an Ass that was sold in his own time in Rome for near five hundred pounds.

Egypt and Arabia also excel us in Asses as they do in Horses. Some of these are of great size and elegance, and sell occasionally for higher prices than even the Horses. In their attitudes and movements II.108 there is a degree of gracefulness, and in their carriage a nobleness unknown even in those of Spain. Their foot is sure, their step light, and their paces quick, brisk, and easy.—They are not only in common use for riding on in Egypt, but they were not long ago the only animals on which the Christians of any country were allowed to appear in the capital. The Mahometan merchants, the most opulent of the inhabitants, and even ladies of the highest rank, used them.

Being more hardy than the Horses, these animals are preferred to them for long journies across the deserts. Most of the Mussulmen pilgrims use them in the long and laborious journey to Mecca; and the chiefs of the Nubian caravans, which are sixty days in passing immense solitudes, ride upon Asses, that on their arrival in Egypt do not appear fatigued.—When the rider alights, he has no occasion to fasten his Ass; he merely pulls the rein of the bridle tight, and passes it over a ring on the fore-part of the saddle: this confines the animal’s head, and is sufficient to make him remain patiently in his place.

In the principal streets of Cairo Asses stand ready bridled and saddled for hire, and answer the purposes of the hackney-coaches in London. The person who lets them accompanies his Ass, running behind to goad him on, and to cry out to those on foot to make way. They are regularly rubbed down, and washed, which renders their coat smooth, soft, and glossy. Their food is the same as that of the Horses, usually consisting of chopped straw, barley, and small beans.⁕2—They here seem, says M. Denon, II.109 to enjoy the plenitude of their existence: they are healthy, active, cheerful, and the mildest and safest animals that a person can possibly have. The natural pace is a canter or gallop, and without fatiguing his rider, the Ass will carry him rapidly over the large plains which lie between different parts of this straggling city. This mode of conveyance, M. Denon says, was so agreeable to him, that he frequently spent the greater part of the day on the back of Asses.⁕3

The gentleness, patience, and perseverance of this animal, so much abused and neglected in our own country, are without example. He is subjected to excessive labour, and contented with the coarsest herbage. The common lanes and high roads are his nightly residence, and his food the thistle or plaintain, which he sometimes prefers to grass. In his drinking he is, however, singularly nice, refusing all but the water of the clearest brooks. He is much afraid of wetting his feet, and will, even when loaded, turn aside to avoid the dirty parts of the road. His countenance is mild and modest, fully expressive of his simple and unaffected deportment.—His services are too often repaid by hard fare and cruel usage; and, being generally the property of the poor, he partakes of their wants and their distresses. He is more healthy than the Horse, and, though generally degraded into the most useless and neglected of domestic quadrupeds, he might, by care and education, be rendered useful for a variety of domestic purposes in which the Horse is now employed. II.110 Were we but to pay a little attention to him we could not fail to be gainers by it. We ought also to cross our breed with the Arabian, Egyptian, or even the Spanish males; which would produce us an offspring improved both in strength and appearance. The fame of Asses being stubborn animals is, in a great measure, unfounded; as it arises solely from ill usage, and not from any natural defect in their constitution or temper.

An old man, who a few years ago sold vegetables in London, used in his employment an Ass, which conveyed his baskets from door to door. Frequently he gave the poor industrious creature a handful of hay, or some pieces of bread, or greens, by way of refreshment and reward. The old man had no need of any goad for the animal, and seldom indeed had he to lift up his hand to drive it on. His kind treatment was one day remarked to him, and he was asked whether his beast was apt to be stubborn. “Ah! Master, (he replied) it is of no use to be cruel, and as for stubbornness I cannot complain, for he is ready to do any thing, and to go any where. I bred him myself. He is sometimes skittish and playful, and once ran away from me; you will hardly believe it, but there were more than fifty people after him, attempting in vain to stop him; yet he turned back of himself, and never stopped till he ran his head kindly into my bosom.”⁕4

Leo Africanus informs us, that, at Cairo, Asses were frequently trained up for public exhibitions. II.111 and taught many tricks that persons in general would suppose these apparently stupid animals incapable of performing.—At les combats des animaux, the theatre, or Bear-garden of Paris, Mr. Pennant was witness to an extraordinary instance of spirit and prowess in a tame Ass, in a fight with a Dog. The latter could never seize on the long-eared beast; which sometimes caught the Dog in his mouth, and sometimes flung it under his knees, and kneeled on it, till the Dog at length fairly gave up the contest.⁕5

There were, according to Hollingshed, no Asses in England in the reign of queen Elizabeth. How soon afterwards they were introduced is uncertain; they are, however, at present naturalized in this country, and their utility becomes every day more experienced.

The skin of the Ass is elastic, and of use for various articles, such as drums, shoes, leaves of pocket-books, &c. Chagrin is made of that part of the skin which grows about the rump; and at Astracan and throughout Persia there are great manufactories of it. It is not naturally granulated, that roughness being altogether effected by art. The flesh of the wild Ass is eaten by the Tartars, and is said to be very delicate and good, but when killed in a tame state this is hard and unfit for food. The milk is universally known, and is approved as a specific in many disorders. It is light, easy of digestion, and highly nutricious.

Synonyms.—Equus Asinus. Linn.—Asne. Buff.—Wild Ass, or Koulan. Penn.—Onager of the Ancients.——Shaw’s Gen. Zool. ii. tab. 216. Bew. Quad. p. 17.

⁕1 Penn. Quad. 3d edit. i. 12.

⁕2 Sonnini, ii. 307. 311.

⁕3 Denon, i. 184.

⁕4 Church.

⁕5 Penn. Quad. i. 2.

Notes and Corrections: The Ass

Equus asinus (“horse donkey”) still has this binomial. The onager is a different equine, E. hemionus onager, where E. hemionus as a whole is the kulan or Asian wild ass.


engraving of Zebra, no later than 1804

Shaw Zoology Vol. II plate 217:


The Zebra, somewhat like the Mule, has a large head and ears. Its body is round and plump, and its legs are delicately small. The skin is as smooth as satin, and adorned with elegant stripes like ribbons, which in the male are brown on a yellowish white ground, and in the female black on a white ground.

Zebras inhabit the scorching plains of Africa, their vast herds affording sometimes an agreeable relief to the eye of the wearied traveller. They assemble in the day on the extensive plains of the interior of the country, and by their beauty and liveliness adorn and animate the dreary scene.

engraving of Zebra, no later than 1804

Bewick Quadrupeds page 20:

All attempts to tame this animal so as to render it serviceable to mankind have been hitherto fruitless. Wild and independent by nature it seems ill adapted to servitude and restraint. If, however, it were taken young, and much care was bestowed in its education, it might probably be in a great measure domes­ticated. A beautiful male Zebra, at Exeter-change, London, which was afterwards burnt to death by the mischievous act of a Monkey setting fire to the straw on which he lay, appeared to have entirely lost his native wildness, and was so gentle as to suffer a child of six years old to sit quietly on his back, without exhibiting the least sign of displeasure. He was familiar even with strangers, and received those kind of caresses that are usually II.113 given to the Horse, with evident satisfaction.⁕1—The one, however, that was, some years ago, kept at Kew, seemed of a savage and fierce nature. No one dared venture to approach it, except the person who was accustomed to feed it, and who alone could mount on its back. Mr. Edwards saw this animal eat a large paper of tobacco, paper and all; and was told it would eat flesh, and any kind of food that was given to it. This, however, might proceed from habit or necessity in its long voyage to this country; for in a native state these animals all feed, like Horses and Asses, on vegetables.⁕2

In some parts about the Cape of Good Hope, there are many Zebras, and a penalty of fifty rix-dollars is inflicted on any person who shoots one of them. Whenever any of them happen to be caught alive they are ordered to be sent to the Governor.⁕3

Synonyms.—Equus Zebra Linn.—Zébre. Buffon.——Shaw’s Gen. Zool. ii. tab. 217.—Bew. Quad. p. 20.

⁕1 Church.

⁕2 Edwards’s Glean. i. 29. tab. 223.

⁕3 Thunberg, ii. 114.

Notes and Corrections: The Zebra

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Equus zebra is the mountain zebra; there are also E. grevyi, Grevy’s zebra, and E. quagga, the quagga. The latter has a whole clutch of subspecies—and a good thing, since the “true” quagga, subspecies E. quagga quagga, has been extinct since 1883. (At least this week. As with the aurochs, there is a project underway to bring it back, involving selective breeding from the remaining subspecies.)

Many people seem to have got zebras named after them: Burchell’s zebra is sometimes listed as a distinct species, E. burchelli, but more often a subspecies, E. quagga burchelli; Hartmann’s zebra is similarly either the species E. hartmannae or the subspecies E. zebra hartmannae.

A beautiful male Zebra . . . which was afterwards burnt to death by the mischievous act of a Monkey setting fire to the straw on which he lay
[In the book as originally printed, this story was told in the Appendix, inexplicably placed in Volume I.]

[Synonyms] Zébre. Buffon.
[This is one of the few times a footnoted word was printed with a diacritic—and it’s wrong. French zebras are zèbre with grave accent. (The female zebra, zébresse, does have an acute accent; so do the assorted derived verbs about making things stripey.)]


The Zebra⁕1.

Several of these animals have at different times been brought into England. There is one at present in the Tower, which was deposited there in June last. It was brought from the Cape of Good Hope by lieutenant general Dundas; and was afterwards purchased by Mr. Bullock, the master keeper of the animals in the Tower.

This animal, which is a female, is more docile than the generality of Zebras that have been brought into Europe; and when in good humour, she is tolerably obedient to the commands of her keeper, the servant of the general who attended her during the voyage, This man, with great dexterity, can spring on her back, and she will carry him a hundred and fifty, or two hundred yards, but by the time she has done this, she always becomes restive, and, with almost equal dexterity, he is obliged to dismount. Sometimes when irritated she plunges at the keeper, and attempts to kick him. She one day seized him by the coat with her mouth, and threw him upon the ground, and had not the man [I.503] been extremely active in rising and getting out of her reach, would certainly have destroyed him. He has at times the utmost difficulty to manage her, from the irritability of her disposition, and the great extent, in almost every direction, to which she can kick with her feet, and the propensity she has of seizing whatever offends her, in her mouth. Strangers she will by no means allow to approach her, unless the keeper has hold of her head, and even then there is great risque of a blow from her hind feet.

The beautiful male Zebra that was burnt, some years ago at the Lyceum, near Exeter ’Change⁕2, was so gentle, that the keeper has often put young children upon its back, and without any attempt from the animal to injure them. In one instance, a person rode it from the Lyceum to Pimlico. But this unusual docility in an animal naturally vicious is to be accounted for, from its having been bred and reared in Portugal, from parents that were themselves half reclaimed.—On the authority of Mr. Church, I have stated this Zebra to have been burnt “from the mischievous act of a Monkey, setting fire to the straw on which he lay.” This, however, was not exactly the case. The keeper informs me, that he had left the room in which it was kept, for the purpose of warming some milk for a Kanguroo, when, during his absence, a light from a tin hoop, suspended by a string from the ceiling, burning through its socket, dropped upon the straw, [I.504] and set fire to it.—This animal was bought by the exhibitor for three hundred pounds.

Zebras are fed with hay.—Their voice can scarcely be described: it is thought by some persons to have a distant resemblance to the sound of a post horn. It is made more frequently when the animals are alone than at other times. The Zebra now in the Tower has never been heard to exert its voice.

⁕1 See vol. ii. p. 112.

⁕1 See vol. ii. p. 112.

engraving of Hippopotamus, no later than 1804

Shaw Zoology Vol. II plate 219:


Only one species has hitherto been discovered as belonging to this tribe. This has four front-teeth in each jaw; the upper ones standing distant by pairs, the lower prominent, and the two middle ones the longest. The canine teeth are solitary, those of the lower-jaw extremely large, curved, and cut obliquely at the ends. The feet are each armed at the margin with four hoofs.

Notes and Corrections: The Hippopotamus Tribe

Linnaeus classified hippopotamuses with Odd-Toed Ungulates, like horses and rhinoceroses; in fact they are even-toed. Perhaps he never got close enough to count. Today they are family Hippo­potamidae—consisting of two single-species genera—in order Artiodactyla.


engraving of Hippopotamus, no later than 1804

Bewick Quadrupeds page 163:


In size the full-grown Hippopotamus is equal, or even sometimes superior to the Rhinoceros. One that M. Le Vaillant killed in the south of Africa measured ten feet seven inches in length, and about nine feet in circumference. Its form is highly uncouth, the body being extremely large, fat, and round; the legs very short and thick; the head large; the mouth extremely wide; and the teeth of vast strength and size. The eyes and ears are small. The tail is short, and sparingly scattered with hair. The whole animal is covered with short hair, thinly set, and is of a brownish colour. The hide is in some parts two inches thick, and not much unlike that of the Hog: the hide of a full-grown Hippopotamus is sufficiently heavy to load a Camel.⁕1

These animals inhabit the rivers of Africa, from the Niger to Berg River, many miles north of the Cape of Good Hope. They formerly abounded in the rivers nearer the Cape, but are now almost extirpated there.—From the unwieldiness of his body and the shortness of his legs, the Hippopotamus is not able, according to M. de Buffon, to move fast upon land, and is then extremely timid. When pursued he takes to the water, plunges in, sinks to the bottom, and is seen walking there at ease; he cannot, however, II.115 continue there long without often rising to the surface. In the day-time he is so much afraid of being discovered that, when he takes in fresh air, the place is hardly perceptible, for he scarcely ventures to put even his nose out of the water. In rivers unfrequented by mankind, he is less cautious, and puts out the whole of his head.

If wounded, the Hippopotamus will rise and attack boats or canoes with great fury, and often sink them by biting large pieces out of their sides. In shallow rivers, he makes deep holes in the bottom in order to conceal his great bulk. When he quits the water he usually puts out half his body at once, and smells and looks around; but sometimes rushes out with great impetuosity, and tramples down every thing in his way. During the night he leaves the rivers in order to feed on sugar-canes, rushes, millet, rice, &c. consuming great quantities, and doing much damage in the cultivated fields.⁕2

The Egyptians adopt a singular mode of, in some measure, freeing themselves from this destructive animal. They mark the places that he chiefly frequents, and there lay a quantity of pease. When the beast comes ashore, hungry and voracious, he immediately falls to eating in the nearest place: and filling himself with the pease, they occasion an insupportable thirst. He rushes into the water, and drinks so copiously that the pease in his stomach, being fully saturated, swell so much as very soon afterwards to kill him.⁕3—Among the II.116 Caffres in the south of Africa, the Hippopotamus is sometimes taken in pits made in the paths that lead to his haunts. But the gait of this animal, when undisturbed, is generally so cautious and slow, that he often smells out the snare, and avoids it. The most certain method is to watch him at night, behind a bush close to his path; and, as he passes, to wound him in the tendons of the knee-joint, by which he is immediately rendered lame, and unable to escape from the numerous hunters that afterwards assail him.⁕4

These creatures are capable of being tamed. Belon says, he has seen one so gentle as to be let loose out of a stable, and led by its keeper, without attempting to injure any person.

“The Hippopotamus is not (says Dr. Sparrman) so quick in its pace on land as the generality of the larger quadrupeds, though, perhaps, it is not so slow and heavy as M. de Buffon describes it to be; for both the Hottentots and Colonists look upon it as dangerous to meet a Hippopotamus out of the water, especially as, according to report, they had had a recent instance of one of these animals, which, from certain circumstances, was supposed to be in rut, having for several hours pursued a Hottentot, who found it very difficult to make his escape.”

Professor Thunberg was informed, by a respectable person at the Cape, that as he and a party were on a hunting expedition, they observed a female II.117 Hippopotamus come from one of the rivers, and retire to a little distance from its bank, in order to calve. They lay still in the bushes till the Calf and its mother made their appearance, when one of them fired, and shot the latter dead on the spot. The Hottentots, who imagined that after this they could seize the Calf alive, immediately ran from their hiding-place, but though only just brought into the world, the young animal got out of their hands, and made the best of its way to the river, where, plunging in, it got safely off. This is a singular instance of pure instinct, for, the Professor observes, the creature, unhesitatingly, ran to the river, as its proper place of security, without having previously received any instructions from the actions of its parent.⁕5

The flesh of the Hippopotamus is in great request among the Hottentots, who are very fond of it, either roasted or boiled. Their partiality might not, however, induce an European to suppose it excellent, for they considerably exceed our Epicures in their relish for high-flavoured (putrefied) game. Thunberg passed a Hottentot tent which had been pitched for the purpose of consuming the body of an Hippopotamus that had been killed some time before: the inhabitants were in the midst of such stench that the travellers could hardly pass them without being suffocated.⁕6—The skin is cut into thongs for whips, which, for softness and pliability, are preferred by the Africans to those made of the hide of the Rhinoceros. The processus-maxillaris is II.118 said to be an effectual remedy for the stone and gravel. And the tusks, from their always preserving their original purity and whiteness, are superior to ivory. The French manufacture the latter into artificial teeth.⁕7

Synonyms.—Hippopotamus Amphibius. Linn.—Hippopotami, River Horses, Water Elephants, or Ker-kamanon. Barbot.—Hippopotame, ou Cheval Marin. Buffon.—Sea-horse. Dampier.——Shaw’s Gen. Zool. ii. tab. 219.—Bew. Quad. p. 163.

⁕1 Le Vaillant, i. 414.—Hasselquist, 187.

⁕2 Buff. Quad.

⁕3 Hasselquist, 188.

⁕4 Barrow, 209.

⁕5 Thunberg, ii. 63.

⁕6 Ibid. i. 208.

⁕7 Vaillant—Thunberg—Sparrman.

Notes and Corrections: The Amphibious Hippopotamus

Linnaeus’s binomial is still in use; he may have got the Order wrong, but Hippopotamus amphibius is definitely its own genus. (The pigmy hippopotomus, genus Hexaprotodon, wasn’t described until 1836.)

[Synonyms] Sea-horse. Dampier.
[There is probably little danger that the hippopotamus will ever be confused with the walrus, which is also sometimes called “sea horse”.]

engraving of Wild Boar, no later than 1804

Shaw Zoology Vol. II plate 221:
Wild Boar


The manners of these animals are in general filthy and disgusting. They are fond of wallowing in the mire, and feed almost indifferently on animal and vegetable food, devouring even the most corrupted carcases. With their strong tendinous snout they dig up the earth in search of roots and other aliment hidden under the surface.

They are exceedingly prolific.—The male is named Boar, the female Sow, and the young ones are called Pigs.

In the upper-jaw there are four front-teeth, the points of which converge: and, usually, six in the lower-jaw, which project. The canine-teeth, or tusks, are two in each jaw, those above short, while those below are long, and extend out of the mouth. The snout is prominent, moveable, and has the appearance of having been cut off, or truncated. The feet are cloven.

Notes and Corrections: The Hog Tribe

Pigs are listed here, rather than earlier among the cows and goats, because Linnaeus put them in his order Belluae, now known as Perissodactyla, Odd-Toed Ungulates. Genus Sus is the only genus in tribe Suini, subfamily Suinae, family Suidae, order Artiodactyla. (Other pig tribes include babirusas and warthogs.)

engraving of “Common Hog”, no later than 1804

Shaw Zoology Vol. II plate 222:
Common Hog. Male & Female


The Wild Boar, the stock or original of the Domestic II.119 Hog, is a native of almost all the temperate parts both of Europe and Asia, as well as of some of the upper parts of Africa.

While they are young, these animals live in herds, for the purpose of mutual defence, but the moment they come to maturity, they walk the forest alone and fearless. They seldom attack unprovoked, but dread no enemy, and shun none. When hunted, they do not so much fly their assailants as keep them at bay, and are at last rather wearied out, or overcome by numbers, than fairly killed in the chace.

The Domestic Hog is, generally speaking, a very harmless creature, and preys on no animals but either dead ones, or such as are incapable of resistance. He lives mostly on vegetables, yet can devour the most putrid carcases. We, however, generally conceive him to be much more indelicate than he really is. He selects, at least the plants of his choice, with equal sagacity and niceness, and is never poisoned, like some other animals, by mistaking noxious for wholesome food. Selfish, indocile, and rapacious, as many think him, no animal has greater sympathy for those of his own kind. The moment one of them gives the signal of distress, all within hearing rush to its assistance. They have been known to gather round a dog that teazed them, and kill him on the spot. Inclose a male and female in a sty when young, and the female will decline from the instant her companion is removed, and will probably die of a broken heart. This animal is well adapted to the mode of life to which it is destined. Having to gain a subsistence principally by turning up the earth with its II.120 nose; we find that the neck is strong and brawny; the eyes small and placed high in the head; the snout long; the nose callous and tough, and the power of smelling peculiarly acute. The external form is indeed very unwieldy, but by the strength of its tendons the Wild Boar is enabled to fly from the hunters with surprizing agility. The back toe on the feet of this animal prevents its slipping while it descends steep declivities.

In Minorca the Hog is converted into a beast of draught; a Cow, a Sow, and two young Horses, have been seen in that island yoked together, and of the four the Sow drew the best. The Ass and the Hog are here common helpmates, and are frequently yoked together to plow the land.—In some parts of Italy Swine are used in hunting for truffles,⁕1 which grow some inches deep in the ground. A cord being tied round the hind-leg of one of the animals, the beast is driven into the pastures, and we are told that wherever it stops and begins to root with its nose, truffles are always to be found.

engraving of Wild Boar, no later than 1804

Bewick Quadrupeds page 144:

In proof that these animals are not destitute of sagacity, it would perhaps be unnecessary to recite any other accounts than those of the various “learned Pigs” which have at different times been exhibited in this country. The following is, however, an instance more surprizing than perhaps any even of these:—A gamekeeper of Sir Henry Mildmay (named Tupor) actually broke a black Sow to find game, and to back, and stand. Slut, which was the name II.121 he gave her, was rendered as staunch as any pointer. After Sir Henry’s death this Pig-pointer was sold by auction for a very considerable sum of money; but possibly the secret of breaking Swine to the field expired with the inventor.⁕2

The Hog is one of those animals that are doomed to clear the earth of refuse and filth; and that convert the most nauseous offals into the richest nutriment in its flesh. It has not altogether been unaptly compared to a miser, who is useless and rapacious in his life, but at his death becomes of public use, by the very effects of his sordid manners. During his life he renders little service to mankind, except in removing that filth which other animals reject.

The extreme thickness of his hide and fat renders the Hog almost insensible to ill treatment, and instances have even occurred of Mice eating their way into the fat on the back of one of these animals without incommoding the creature.—Although naturally inoffensive, he possesses powers which, when called into action, render him a very formidable enemy. He is, however, stupid, inactive, and drowsy; and nothing but the calls of appetite interrupts his repose, to which he always returns as soon as this is satiated.

engraving of “Common Boar”, no later than 1804

Bewick Quadrupeds page 146:
The Common BOAR

The senses of smelling and taste are enjoyed by these animals in great perfection. Wind seems to have great influence on them, for when it blows violently they seem much agitated, and run towards the sty, sometimes screaming in a most violent manner. II.122 Naturalists have also remarked that, on the approach of bad weather, they will bring straw to the sty as if to guard against its effects. The country people have a singular adage that “Pigs can see wind.”

That they are extremely tenacious of life is known to almost every person who is at all acquainted with their manners. The most curious instance that I have met with of this in any writer is in Josselyn’s account of two voyages to New England. I shall insert the passage, though I by no means intend to vouch for its truth. “Being at a friend’s house in Cambridgeshire, the cook-maid, making ready to slaughter a Pig, she put the hinder parts between her legs, as the usual manner is, and taking the snout in her left hand, with a long knife stuck the Pig, and cut the small end of the heart almost in two, letting it bleed as long as any blood came forth; then throwing it into a kettle of boiling water, the Pig swam twice round about the kettle; when, taking it out to the dresser, she rubbed it with powdered rosin and stripped off the hair, and as she was cutting off the hinder petty-toe, the Pig lifted up his head with open mouth as if it would have bitten: well, the belly was cut up, the entrails drawn out, and the heart laid upon the board, which, notwithstanding the wound it received, had motion in it above four hours after. There were several of the family by, with myself, and we could not otherwise conclude but that the Pig was bewitched.”

The female goes four months with young, and has very numerous litters, sometimes so many as II.123 twenty at a time. These animals live to a considerable age, even to twenty-five or thirty years. The flesh, though very nutritious, from not being so digestible as some other kinds of animal food, is supposed to be unwholesome to persons who lead sedentary lives.

In the Island of Sumatra there is a variety of this species that frequents the impenetrable bushes and marshes of the sea-coast. These animals live on crabs and roots: they associate in herds, are of a grey colour, and smaller than the English swine. At certain periods of the year, they swim in herds consisting of sometimes a thousand, from one side of the river Siak to the other, at its mouth, which is three or four miles broad, and again return at stated times. This kind of passage also takes place in the small islands, by their swimming from one to the other. On these occasions they are hunted by a tribe of the Malays, distinct from all the others of the island, who live on the coasts of the kingdom of Siak, called Salettians.

These men are said to smell the swine long before they see them, and when they do this they immediately prepare their boats. They then send out their Dogs, which are trained to this kind of hunting, along the strand, where, by their barking, they prevent the swine from coming ashore and concealing themselves among the bushes. During the passage the Boars precede, and are followed by the females and the young, all in regular rows, each resting its II.124 snout on the rump of the preceding one. Swimming thus in close rows they form a singular appearance.

The Salettians, men and women, meet them in their small flat boats. The former row, and throw large mats, made of the long leaves of the Pandamus odoratissima interwoven through each other, before the leader of each row of swine, which still continues to swim with great strength; but, soon pushing their feet into the mats, they get so entangled as to be able either no longer to move them, or only to move them very slowly. The rest are, however, neither alarmed nor disconcerted, but keep close to each other, none of them leaving the position in which they were placed. The men then row towards them in a lateral direction, and the women armed with long javelins, stab as many of the swine as they can reach. For those beyond their reach they are furnished with smaller spears, about six feet in length, which they are able to thrown to the distance of thirty or forty feet with pretty sure aim. As it is impossible for them to throw mats before all the rows, the rest of these animals swim off in regular order, to the places for which they set out, and for this time escape the danger. As the dead swine are found floating around in great numbers, they are picked up and put into larger boats which follow for the purpose.

Some of these swine they sell to the Chinese traders who visit the island; and of the rest they preserve in general only the skins and fat. The latter, after being melted, they sell to the Maki Chinese; and it is used by the common people II.125 instead of butter, as long as it is not rancid, and also for burning in lamps, instead of cocoa-nut oil.⁕3

Synonyms. Sus Scrofa. Linn.—Sanglier et Marcassin. Buffon.—Wild Hog Browne.——Shaw’s Gen. Zool. ii. tab. 221, 222.—Bew. Quad. p. 144. 146.

⁕1 Lycoperdon tuber of Linnæus.

⁕2 Daniel, ii. 395.

⁕3 Account of hunting the wild swine in Sumatra by Mr. John, missionary at Tranquebar, from Der Gesellschaft Naturforschender Freunde zu Berlin Neue Schriften.

Notes and Corrections: The Common Hog

skip to next section

Sus scrofa (“hog sow”) still has that name. There are many other Sus species.

Shaw and Bewick each have separate illustrations for wild and domestic (“common”) boars. They are the same species.

[Synonyms] Sus Scrofa.
text has Sur

[Footnote] from Der Gesellschaft Naturforschender Freunde zu Berlin Neue Schriften
text has Neune
[It’s “Der” rather than “Die Gesellschaft” because it’s grammatically “Neue Schriften der Gesellschaft” and so on.]

engraving of “Æthiopian Hog”, no later than 1804

Shaw Zoology Vol. II plate 223:
Æthiopian Hog


This animal is much allied, in its general appearance, to the common Hog; but is distinguished from it by a pair of large semicircular lobes or wattles placed beneath the eyes. The snout also is much broader, and very strong and callous.—It is a native of the hotter parts of Africa, and is a very fierce and dangerous animal. It resides principally in subter­raneous recesses, which it digs with its nose and hoofs; and, when attacked or pursued, it rushes on its adversary with great force, striking, like the common Boar, with its tusks, which are capable of inflicting the most tremendous wounds.

These creatures inhabit the wildest, most uncultivated, and hottest parts of Africa, from Senegal to Congo, and they are also found on the island of Madagascar. The natives carefully avoid their retreats, since, from their savage nature, they often rush upon them unawares, and gore them with their tusks.

engraving of “African Wild Boar, or Wood Swine”, no later than 1804

Bewick Quadrupeds page 149:

A Boar of this species was, in 1765, sent by the governor of the Cape of Good Hope to the Prince of Orange. From confinement and attention he became II.126 mild and gentle, except when offended; in which case even those persons to whose care he was entrusted were afraid of him. In general, however, when the door of his cage was opened he came out in perfect good humour, gaily frisked about in search of food, and greedily devoured whatever was given him. He was one day left alone in the court-yard for a few minutes, and on the return of the keeper was found busily digging into the earth, where, notwithstanding the cemented bricks of the pavement, he had made an amazingly large hole, with a view, as was afterwards discovered, of reaching a common sewer that passed at a considerable depth below. It was not without much trouble, and the assistance of several men, that his labour could be interrupted. They, at length, however, forced him into his cage, but he expressed great resentment, and uttered a sharp and mournful noise.

His motions were altogether much more agile and neat than those of the common Hog. He would allow himself to be stroked, and even seemed delighted with rough friction. When provoked, or rudely pushed, he always retired backward, keeping his face towards his assailant, and shaking his head or forcibly striking with it.—When, after long confinement, he was set at liberty for a little while, he was very gay, and leaped about in an entertaining manner. On these occasions he would, with his tail erect, sometimes pursue the Fallow-deer and other animals.

His food was principally grain and roots; and of the former he preferred barley and the European II.127 wheat. He was so fond of rye-bread, that he would run after any person who had a piece of it in his hand. In the acts of eating and drinking he always supported himself on the knees of his fore-feet; and would often rest in this position. His eyes were so situated as to prevent his seeing around him, being interrupted by the wattles and prominences of his face; but, in compensation for this defect, his senses of smelling and hearing were wonderfully acute.⁕1

Dr. Sparrman, when he was in Africa, pursued several Pigs with the old Sows, with the intention of shooting one of them, but though he failed in this object, their chace afforded him singular pleasure. The heads of the females, which had before appeared of a tolerable size, seemed, on a sudden, to have grown larger and more shapeless than they were. This momentary and wonderful change astonished him so much the more, as, riding hard over a country full of bushes and pits, he had been prevented from giving sufficient attention to the manner in which it was brought about. The whole of the mystery, however, consisted in this: each of the old ones, during its flight, had taken a Pig in its mouth; a circumstance that also explained to him another subject of his surprize, which was, that all the Pigs which he had just before been chasing along with the old ones, had vanished on a sudden. But in this action we find a kind of unanimity among these animals, in which they resemble the tame species, and which they have in a greater degree than II.128 many others. It is likewise very astonishing, that the Pigs should be carried about in this manner between such large tusks as those of their mother, without being hurt, or crying out in the least. He was twice afterwards witness to the same circumstance.⁕2

The flesh is very good, and not unlike that of the German Wild Boar.

Synonyms.—Sus Æthiopicus. Linn.—Emgalo, or Engulo. Barbot.—African wild Boar. Martyn.—Ethiopian Hog. Penn.—Wood Swine. Sparrman.——Shaw’s Gen. Zool. ii. tab. 223.—Bew. Quad. p. 149.

⁕1 Buff. Quad. vol. viii. p. 245-254.

⁕2 Sparrman’s Voyage.

Notes and Corrections: The Ethiopian Hog

Sus æthiopicus or Aper æthiopicus is now known as Phacocoerus aethiopicus, the warthog. Warthogs are a tribe of their own in subfamily Suinae.

With the Ethiopian Hog we bid farewell to Bewick’s Quadrupeds. (Shaw will picture a couple of cetaceans, but Bewick wasn’t interested.)

to the

Those marked with an * are varieties of some other species; and those printed in Italics are Synonyms.

Antelope Tribe 48
—— Chamois 49
—— Nyl-Ghau 51
—— Scythian 54
—— Chamois goat 49
—— Saiga 54
—— white footed 51
Argali 71
Asne 103
Ass 103
Bison American 79
—— d’ Amerique 79
Bouc et Chevre 56
Bouquetin, Bouc-estain, et Boucstein 59
Boeuf 73
Brebis, et Belier 63
Buffalo 79. 83
—— African 85
—— American 79
Buffle 83
Camel Tribe 1
—— Arabian 2
—— Lama 11
—— Dromedaire 2
—— Dromedary 2
—— Glama 11
—— Llama 11
—— one-bunched 2
Camelopardalis, or Camelopard 44
Cerf 35
Chamois 49
Cheval marin 114
Cock, domestic 39
Dama et Dein 42
Deer Tribe 17
—— Elk 18
—— Rein 25
—— Stag 35
—— Fallow 42
—— Cerf 35
—— Dama et Dein 42
—— Elan 18
—— Moose Elk 18
—— —— Deer 18
—— red 35
—— Reme 25
Dromedaire 2
Dromedary 2
Elephant water 114
Elan 18
Elk 18
—— Moose 18
Emgalo, or Engulo 125
Giraffe Tribe 44
—— Giraffe 44
—— Camelopardalis, or Camelopard 44
Glama 11
Goat Tribe 56
—— common 56
—— Ibex 39
—— Bouc et Chevre 56
—— Bouquetin, Bouc-estain, et Bouc-stein 59
—— chamois 49
—— domestic 56
—— rock 59
—— Siberian 71
—— Steinboc 59
—— wild 59
Hippopotame 114
Hippopotamus Tribe 113
—— amphibious 114
—— Hippopotame, ou Cheval marin 114
—— Ker-kamanon 114
—— River horse 114
—— Sea horse 114
—— Water Elephant 114
Hog Tribe 118
—— common 118
—— Ethiopian 125
—— African wild boar 125
—— Emgalo, or Engulo 125
—— Sanglier et Marcassin 118
—— wild 118
—— Wood Swine 125
Horse Tribe 91
—— common 91
—— Ass 103
—— Zebra 112
—— Asne 103
—— Cheval 91
—— Koulan 103
—— Onager 103
—— river 114
—— sea 114
—— wild 91
—— Zebre 112
Ibex 59
Lama 11
Moose deer 18
—— elk 18
Mouton d’ Arabie 69
Moufflon 71
Mouton de Barbarie 69
Musc 14
Musk Tribe 14
—— Thibetian 14
—— Musc 14
—— Thibet 14
Nyl Ghau 51
Ox Tribe 73
—— common 73
—— American Bison 79
—— Buffalo 83
—— Cape Buffalo 85
—— African Buffalo 85
—— American Buffalo 79
—— Bison d’Amerique 79
—— Boeuf 73
—— Buffalo 83
—— Buffle 83
—— sauvage 47
Perruche à tête rouge de Guinée 22
Ram 63
Rein Deer 25
Renne 25
River-horse 114
Saiga 54
Sanglier et Marcassin 118
—— Horse 114
—— Elephant 114
Sheep Tribe 62
—— common 63
—— Icelandic 68
—— * broad-tailed 69
—— Argali 71
—— Barbary 69
—— Brebis et Belier 63
—— many-horned 68
—— Mouton d’Arabie 69
—— —— de Barbarie 69
—— Ram 63
—— Siberian Goat 71
—— Tunis 69
—— wild 71
Siberian Goat 71
Stag 35
Steinboc 59
Wild Boar 118
—— African 125
Wood Swine 125
Zebra 112 and
vol. 1. 502
Notes and Corrections: English Index

text has Hippotame

[Hippopotamus Tribe] Hippopotame, ou Cheval marin
text has Hippotame

[Alphabetized as shown (between Mouton d’Arabie and Mouton de Barbarie).]

Zebra   112 and vol. 1. 502
[The second page reference means the Appendix]


Pecora. 1
Camelus Genus 1
—— dromedarius 2
—— glama 11
Moschus Genus 14
—— moschiferus 14
Cervus Genus 17
—— alces 18
—— tarandus 25
—— elapbus 35
—— dama 42
Camelopardalis Genus 44
—— giraffa 44
Antilope Genus 48
—— rupicapra 49
—— picta 51
—— saiga 54
Capra Genus 56
—— hircus 56
—— ibex 59
Ovis Genus 62
—— aries 63
—— * polycerata 68
—— * laticaudata 69
—— ammon 71
Bos Genus 73
—— taurus 73
—— Americanus 79
—— bubalus 83
—— Cafer 85
Belluæ. 91
Equus Genus 91
—— caballos 91
—— asinus 103
—— zebra 112 and vol. i. 502
Hippopotamus Genus 113
—— amphibious 114
Sus Genus 118
—— scrofa 118
—— Æthiopicus 125
Notes and Corrections: Linnean Index

[Moschus] moschiferus
text has moschiferous


Here are some animals from order Artiodactyla, even-toed ungulates (Linnaeus’s “Pecora”)—including the pig and the hippopotamus, which Linnaeus erroneously put in Perisso­dactyla, odd-toed ungulates (his “Belluae”). In this group, only pigs (family Suidae) are generally divided into Tribes.

Saiga: S. tatarica, (saiga, “scythian antelope”)
Bison: B. bison (American bison)
Bos: B. taurus (domestic cattle)
B. primigenius (aurochs, not in this book)
Boselaphus: B. tragocamelus (nilgai, “nyl-ghau”)
Bubalus: B. bubalis (buffalo)
Syncerus: S. caffer (cape buffalo)
Caprinae (ovicaprids, including the musk ox)
Ammotragus (Barbary sheep, possible “broad-tailed sheep”)
Capra: C. hircus (domestic goat)
C. ibex (ibex)
Ovis: O. aries (domestic sheep)
O. ammon (argali)
Rupicapra: R. rupicapra (chamois)
Camelus: C. dromedarius (one-humped camel, “Arabian camel”)
Lama: L. glama (llama)
Alces: A. alces (Eurasian elk)
A. americanus (moose)
Rangifer: R. tarandus (caribou and reindeer)
Cervus: C. elaphus (red deer)
Dama: D. dama (fallow deer)
Giraffa: four giraffe species including G. giraffa
Hippopotamus: H. amphibius (hippopotamus)
Moschus: M. moschiferus (Siberian musk deer, “Thibetian musk”)
Sus: S. scrofa (wild boar and domestic pig)
Phacochoerus: P. aethiopicus (desert warthog, “Ethiopian hog”)

The original of this text is in the public domain—at least in the U.S.
My notes are copyright, as are all under-the-hood elements.
If in doubt, ask.