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He begins this epistle with informing his friends, that bis colleagues had returned to Germany, and that he was left alone in Constantinople. Now commenced his seven years' residence, or rather imprisonment. The dwelling to which he was obliged to confine himself, he describes as situated in the best and highest part of Constantinople; from the back part of it, there was a beautiful and extensive prospect of the sea, on which the dolphins might be seen sporting ; in the far distance, the Asiatic Olympus was visible, white with perpetual snow. The house was penetrated by every wind, but on that account the more healthy. There is no garden in which you may walk, no tree, no shrub, no grass to refresh the eyes. The multitude of animals of various kinds that take up
their abode in the house, is astonishing : weasels, serpents, lizards, and scorpions; so that it often happens, that if a person goes in the morning to take up his cáp, he finds a snake twined round it. But from watching and observing these animals I derived great amusement, and interest, during my confinement: at one time, I observed a long and arduous combat between a weasel and a serpent; the former, at last, succeeded in dragging the serpent into its hole. Another time, a weasel brought one of its young ones and placed it on the table, while we were at dinner: the mother then retired to a little distance, apparently watching what would become of it; and when we took it from the table and put it on the ground, it returned, and, taking it in its mouth, carried it to its hole. A serpent happening, in the stable, to be trodden to death by the horses, I caused it to be opened, and in its belly three very large mice were found. I was surprised, and at a loss to account for the fact that a reptile so slow should be able to catch animals so quick and nimble, and, having caught them, should, with such a narrow throat, be able to swallow them: but I ceased to wonder, after having seen the operation. A serpent caught a large toad: when I first saw it, it had swallowed the greatest part of it, beginning at the hinder legs. The toad was still alive, and struggling, with its fore-legs, to extricate itself. I could not ascertain what animal it was : an animal, it seemed, with two legs, and a tail as long as a serpent; as soon as I ascertained the truth, I took a stick and beat the serpent, to oblige it to give up its prey: my attempt, for some time, was in vain, not that the serpent was not desirous of liberating the toad, in order that it might the more quickly escape from my blows, but this was a difficult business; for the hinder part of the toad was firmly wedged in its throat. And even after it had disgorged its
prey, it could not, for some time, close its own mouth, in consequence of its having been so long extended beyond its usual and natural limits.
Busbequius, not content with the animals which, of their own accord, took up their abode in his house, introduced and kept others, in order to amuse himself, and have an opportunity of observing their habits and actions. Monkeys seem to have afforded him the most amusement: he had also wolves, bears, stags of various species, kids, lynxes, ichneumons, martins, and even a pig; the latter, his attendants assured him, if kept in the stable, would be serviceable to the health of his horses. The Turks, of course, were shocked at his keeping this unclean animal; and of this superstitious abhorrence Busbequius’s servants took a cunning and curious advantage. For, whenever any person wished to introduce into the house any article of food, &c. the admittance of which was prohibited, it was put with a pig into a bag; and on the Turkish guard inquiring what the bag contained, he who carried it whispered into his ear that it was a pig. The guard, thereupon, struck the bag with bis stick, and, on hearing the grunting, retreated quickly, and ordered the bearer to go in as quickly as possible with his unclean burden.
Busbequius had, also, various kinds of birds,-eagles, ravens, jackdaws, foreign ducks, Balearic cranes, and partridges; so that, as he observes, his house resembled Noah's ark. The result of his observations on all those animals induced him to give credit to the relations of natural historians (which he had previously disbelieved,) respecting the strong attachment of some to man; of this attachment, he gives several curious and striking instances. A lynx, in a very few days, became most warmly attached to one of his domestics: when the man was present, he displayed, in every possible way, his fondness for him; when he was about to depart, he endeavoured to retain him, by laying hold of his clothes with his paws, and he followed him with his eyes as long as he was in sight, remaining sorrowful and uneasy till he saw him returning, when, again, he displayed gladness and satisfaction. Busbequius, having occasion to visit the Turkish camp, took this servant with him; on his departure, the animal became, as usual, sorrowful; and his stay being protracted beyond the usual time, it became dejected, refused its food, pined away, and died. Busbequius was much vexed at its death, as he had intended to present it, and an ichneumon, to the emperor; its skin was uncommonly beautiful : indeed, he says, that the skins of the Assyrian lynxes (and this was one) are peculiarly beautiful and costly; and he is of opinion that the Babylonian garments, which the ancients prized so high, were, in fact, the skins of Assyrian lynxes.
He describes the Balearic crane as differing from other cranes, in having a tuft of white feathers on the side of each ear,
and in the blackness of the feathers on the anterior part of the neck; with those black feathers the Turks ornament their turbans. It is inferior in magnitude to other cranes.
The Balearic crane which Busbequius had, was strongly attached to a Spanish soldier, whom he had redeemed from slavery. Whenever the soldier went to walk, it went with him, walked while he walked, stopped when he stopped, stood by hiin while he sat; and, though averse to be touched by the other domestics, was pleased and proud when the soldier touched him. When he went out of the house, the bird would go to his chamber door, and peck at it; if any person opened it, it walked in and searched every part, in quest of the soldier; not finding him, it went to every other part of the house, making such a loud and shrill noise, as was unbearable, so that it was necessary to shut it up in some place where it could not be heard. As soon as the soldier returned, spreading its wings, it rushed forward to meet him, with a most strange and awkward motion of its body.
The Balearic crane, of which Busbequius gives such an interesting account, is the Gruespavonnena of Tamminck, and the Ardea pavonnina of Linnæus: its trivial synonimes are the Crowned Demoiselle, Crowned Heron, and Crowned African Crane. It is a singular and beautiful species, a native of Africa, particularly of the coast of Guinea. It is very tame and familiar, fond of the society of man, and will sometimes feed with poultry in a court-yard. The natives on the Guinea coast hold it in high veneration, and will not allow it to be killed : the flesh is tough. It was, probably, this species of crane, of which we read in the middle ages, as being so tame as to stand before the table at dinner, and kneeling and bowing the head when a bishop gave the benediction.
Busbequius next gives an instance of animal ingratitude and perfidy towards man. He had a tame stag, which had lived in a most peaceable and familiar manner, in the house, for several months : when the rutting season arrived, however, suddenly it became so savage, that, forgetful of all the kindness shown it, it declared fierce war against the whole household. They were obliged, therefore, to tie it up; but breaking loose in the night, it got among the horses; and so violent and powerful was it, that it required forty men, armed with all kinds of weapons, to subdue and kill it. It was extremely large ; of the kind, that, at the beginning of autumn, came from Hungary into Austria, to take up their winter quarters. Busbequius had bought it from some mendicants, who travelled the country exercising their vocation : when they asked alms, they offered a prayer, in which the name of God frequently occurred; and, whenever it did, the stag had been taught to bow its head.
people, regarding this as a miracle, were liberal in their alms. Busbequius, struck with its size and beauty, bought it, intending to have presented it to his master.
The mention of Turkish mendicants leads him to give some particulars respecting them. They are not so common as among us, and they always join to mendicity the appearance and pretext of religion. Some assume the outward symptoms of madness or fatuity ; because the Turks regard those who are bereaved of their senses as predestined for heaven, and, therefore, as deserving of the treatment and veneration due to divine personages, while here on earth. There are also Arabs, who go about begging, carrying standards, under which they allege their ancestors fought, when they first established the religion of Mahomet; these, however, are not common beggars ; they do not beg every where, nor from every body; but at dusk they offer a tallow candle, a pomegranate, a citron, &c. to the passers-by, for which they expect double or triple their worth, thus clothing their mendicity in the garb of traffic.
As often as he had opportunity, and was permitted, Busbequius indulged in the sports of hunting and hawking. The Turks take great delight and interest in all kinds of animals, especially birds; and kites are particularly protected and favoured by them, on account of their keeping the towns free of offal. Of these birds, therefore, there are great numbers, and they are all remarkably tame and familiar: a whistle calls them: if food is thrown up in the air, they catch it with their talons. Busbequius ordered a sheep to be killed, and on the whistle being given, and the entrails exposed to view, such numbers appeared as almost to overshadow the house. They took the food out of the hand, and while they were feasting themselves, our autbor shot at them with a cross-bow; this, however, it was prudent to do unknown to the Turks, who would have been highly incensed at such conduct.
The partridges he bad were brought from the isle of Chios: they had red legs and beaks, and were so very tame that they were constantly at his feet, and used to dislodge the dust that had settled in his slippers, in order to dust themselves. They became, at length, so very troublesome, that he ordered them to be confined. They died, however, in a few days, his servants assured him, from becoming too fat. The isle of Chios abounds in this kind of partridges, which live there in the same houses with the inhabitants. Each person keeps a number, greater or smaller, according to his inclination or circumstances ; a public keeper is appointed for them. At day-break, he calls them out of their habitations, by whistling : as soon as they are all assembled, they follow him, as sheep do the shepherd, into the fields, where they are to feed during the day. At night-fall
, collected into a
flock by the same signal, they follow their keeper to the village, and there separate, going to their respective homes and roosts. Busbequius was told, that the partridges were thus trained in the following manner :-as soon as they came out of the egg,
the peasants place them close to their bosoms, keeping them warm, and feeding them, and occasionally putting them to their mouths, and wetting their bills with the saliva. They thus become tame and familiar. Care, however, must be taken that they are not left in the fields all night, for, if this should happen more than once, they will, most probably, forget their attachment, and assume their natural habits. “I am using all my endeavours,” adds Busbequius, “to carry back with me to the emperor a person well skilled in this mode of training partridges ; for though I have not myself witnessed it, yet I have been told of it by so many as have, on whose testimony I can depend, that I believe it as firmly as if I had myself seen it. There is another circumstance which is commonly talked of here, and so generally credited, that he would be very rash who should doubt it. Those who come hither from Egypt (and every day some arrive,) assure us, that, in that country, chickens are not, as with us, hatched under hens, but by certain men, who follow that business. In the spring time, they construct a kind of oven, of dung, into which they put all the eggs they can collect; by the heat of the climate and the fermenting manure, the eggs are hatched, and, at the proper periods, the chickens come forth. In order to save time, the chickens are measured out, not numbered, to those who have brought eggs to be hatched.” Busbequius adds, that he had been induced to mention this practice in Egypt, principally because it seemed to him to explain a passage in the Emperor Adrian's invective against the Egyptians, as given by Vopiscus; "all that I wish them is, that they may feed on their own chickens, which are hatched in a mode I think it indelicate to describe.” “ I do not doubt," observes Busbequius, " that this practice is of old standing with the Egyptians; and I imagine the Emperor Adrian upbraiding them, in this passage, with living on food sprung from a dung-hill : I may be deceived; you shall judge for yourself.”
We are rather surprised that Busbequius did not know, that this practice is particularly noticed and described by the ancient writers, as followed by the Egyptians, and peculiar to them, as, from several passages in his letters, he seems to have been very conversant with the classics; and there are frequent allusions to them, especially to Pliny, one of the writers who particularly mentions the Egyptian mode of hạtching eggs by burying them in a dung-hill. The practice of artificial hatching is also mentioned by Diodorus Siculus, but