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numbers from every side, and generally form a company of above two hundred. The place of meeting is commonly the place where they fix their abode, and this is always by the side of some lake or river. If it be a lake in which the waters are always upon a level, they dispense with building a dam ; but if it be a running stream, wbich is subject to floods and falls, they then set about building a dam, or pier, that crosses the river, so that it forms a dead water in that part which lies above and below. This dam, or pier, is often fourscore or a hundred feet long, and ten or twelve feet thick at the base. If we compare the greatness of the work with the powers of the architect, it will appear enor. mous; but the solidity with which it is built is still more astonishing than its size. The part of the river over which this dam is usually built is where it is most shallow, and where some great tree is found growing by the side of the stream. This they pitch upon as proper for making the principal part in their building ; and, although it is often thicker than a man's body, they instantly set about cutting it down. For this operation they have no other instrument but their teeth, which soon lay it level, and that also on the side they wish it to fall, wbich is always across the stream. They then fall about cutting off the top branches, to make it lie close and even, and serve as the principal beam of their fabric.(5)
This dike or causey, is sometimes ten, and sometimes twelve feet thick at the foundation. It descends in a declivity or slope, on that side next the water, which gravitates upon the work in proportion to the height, and presses it with a prodigious force towards the earth. The opposite side is erected perpendicularly like our walls; and that declivity, which, at the bottom or basis, is about twelve feet broad, diminishes towards the top, where it is no more than two feet broad, or thereabouts. The materials whereof this mole consists, are wood and clay. The beavers cut, with surprising ease, large pieces of wood, some as thick as one's arm or one's thigh, and about four, five, or six feet in length, or sometimes more, according as the slope ascends. They drive one end of these stakes into the ground, at a small distance one from the other, intermingling a few with them that are smaller and more pliant. As the water, however, would find a passage through the intervals or spaces between them, and leave the reservoir dry, they have recourse to a clay, which they know where to find, and with which they stop up all the cavities both within and without, so that the water is duly confined. They continue to raise the dike in proportion to the elevation of the water, and the plenty which they have of it. They are conscious likewise that the conveyance of their materials by land would not be so easily accomplished as by water; and, therefore, they take the advantage of its increase, and swim with their mortar on their tails, and their stakes between their teeth, to the places where there is most occasion for them. If their works are, either by the force of the water, or the feet of the buntsmen, who run over them, in the least damnified, the breach is instantly made up; every nook and corner of the habitation is reviewed, and with the utmost diligence and application, perfectly repaired. But when they find the huntsmen visit them too often, they work only in the night-time, or else abandon their works entirely, and seek out for some safer situation.
The dike, or mole, being thus completed, their next care is to erect their several apartments, which are either round or oval, and divided into three stories, one raised above the other : the first below the level of the causey, which is for the most part full of water; the other two above it. This little fabric is built in a very firm and substantial manner, on the edge of their reservoir, and always in such divisions or apartments as ahove mentioned ; that in case of the water's increase, they may move up a story higher, and be no ways incommoded. If they find any little island contiguous to their reservoir, they fix their mansion there, which is then more solid, and not so frequently exposed to the overflowing of the water, in which they are not able to continue for any length of time. In case they cannot pitch upon so commodious a situation,
(8) Spectacle de la Nature.
they drive piles into the earth, in order to fence and fortify their habitation against the wind as well as the water. They make two apertures, at the bottom. to the stream; one is a passage to their bagnio, which they always keep neat and clean; the other leads to that part of the building where every thing is conveyed that will either soil or damage their apper apartments. They bave a third opening or doorway, much higher, contrived for the prevention of their being shut up and confined, when the frost and snow have closed the apertures of the lower floors. Sometimes they build their houses altogether upon dry land; but then they sink trenches five or six feet deep, in order to descend into the water when they see convenient. They make use of the same materials; and are equally industrious in the erection of their lodges, as their dikes. Their walls are perpendicular, and about two feet thick. As their teeth are more serviceable than saws, they cut off all the wood that projects beyond the wall. After this, when they have mixed up some clay and dry grass together, they work it into a kind of mortar, with which, by the help of their tails, they plaster all their works, both within and without.
The inside is vaulted, and is large enough for the reception of eight or ten beavers. In case it rises in an oval figure, it is for the generality above twelve feet long, and eight or ten feet broad. If the number of inhabitants increase to fifteen, twenty or thirty, the edifice is enlarged in proportion. I have been credibly informed, that four hundred beavers have been discovered to reside in one large mansion-house, divided into a vast number of apartments, that had a free communication one with another.
All these works, more especially in the northern parts, are finished in August, or September at farthest; at which time they begin to lay in their stores.* During the summer, they are perfect epicures ; and regale themselves every day on the choicest fruits and plants the country affords. Their provisions, indeed, in the winter season, principally consist of the wood of the birch, the plane, and some few other trees, which they steep in water, from time to time, in such quantities as are proportioned to the number of inhabitants. They cut down branches from three to ten feet in length. Those of the largest dimensions are conveyed to their magazines by a whole body of beavers ; but the smallest by one only: each of them, however, takes a different way, and has his proper walk assigned him, in order that no one labourer should interrupt another in the prosecution of his work. Their wood-yards are larger or smaller, in proportion to the number in family: and, according to the observation of some curious naturalists, the usual stock of timber, for the accommodation of ten beavers, consists of about thirty feet in a square surface, and ten in depth. These loge are not thrown up in one continual pile, but laid one across the other, with intervals or small spaces between them, in order to take out, with the greater facility, but just such a quantity as they shall want for their immediate consumption, and those parcels only which lie at the bottom in the water, and have been duly steeped. This timber is cut again into small particles, and conveyed to one of their largest lodges, where the whole family meet, to
* INGENUITY OF A Beaver ar Paris.- the snow beat into his domicile in considerA beaver from the Rhine is now, or was able quantity, till he found out a plan of lately, in the royal collection in the Jardin shielding himself from the inconvenience. For des Plantes at Paris, which exhibited as much this purpose, he cut his supply of twigs into ingenuity as has ever been ascribed to the proper lengths, to be woven in the basket species in a wild state, and more than enough fashion between the bars of his cage; chopped to silence the incredulity of sceptics respect- his apples in pieces, to fill up the intervals ing the beavers' dams, and their magazines between the twigs; and, when even this did of winter provisions. This beaver, for in- not appear sufficiently air-tight, or (if you stance, we are informed by M. Geoffroi St. will) storm-tight, he kneaded the snow into Hilaire, was, during the severe weather in the intervals. By the morning it appeared winter. furnished with fresh twigs of trees, to that he had laboured hard all night, and had give exercise to his propensity tu gnawing, completed a very neat and ingenious barriand with apples, &c. as a more nutritive food. cado against the intrusion of the snow.-AROne night there came on a snow storin, and CANA OF SCIENCE, 1830.
consume their respective dividends, which are made impartially, in even and equal portions. Sometimes they traverse the woods, and regale their young with a more novel and elegant entertainment.
Such as are used to hunt these animals,* know perfectly well, that green wood is much more acceptable to them than that which is old and dry; for which reason they plant a considerable quantity of it round their lodgments; and as they come out to partake of it, they either catch them in snares, or take them by surprise. In the winter, when the frosts are very severe, they sometimes break a large hole in the ice; and when the beavers resort thither for the benefit of a little fresh air, they either kill them with their hatcbets, or cover the opening with a large substantial net. After this, they undermine and and subvert the whole fabric: wherenpon the beavers, in hopes to make their escape in the usual way, fly with the utmost precipitation to the water; and plunging into the aperture, fall directly into the net, and are inevitably taken.t
* Beaver Sking.–The flesh of the beaver and there is reason to suppose that a conis very delicious; but is not so much for siderable additional quantity was at that pethis as for its valuable fur that a war of ruth- riod introduced illicitly into Great Britain. less extermination is carried on agaiust this In 1827, the importation of beaver skins into interesting animal. For the sake of its fur, London, from more than four times the extent men, aided by dogs, invade its peaceful habi. of fur country than that occupied in 1743, tations, utterly uprooting them, and, if pos- did not much exceed 50,000.—RICHARDSON'S sible, suffering the escape of not a single North AMERICAN Zoology. individual. “Of the numbers thus sacrificed,” DESTRUCTION.—The number of beavers says the highly talented author of the Gar. killed in North America is exceedingly great dens Delineated," and of the importance of even at the present time, after the fur trade the trade, some idea may be formed by the has been carried on for so many years, and the amount of the sales at various places and at most indiscriminate warfare waged uninterdifferent periods. In 1743, the Hudson's ruptedly against the species. In the year Bay Company alone sold 26,750 skins; and 1820, 60,000 beaver skins were sold by the 127,080 were imported into Rochelle; up- Hudson's Bay Company alone. wards of 170,000 were exported from Canada It is a subject of regret that an animal so in 1788; and Quebec alone, in 1808, sup- valuable and prolific should be hunted in a plied this country with 126,927, which, at the manner tending so evidently to the extermiestimated average of eighteen shillings and nation of the species, when a little care and ninepence per skin, would produce no less a management on the part of those interested sum than 118,994.-Religious Tract So might prevent unnecessary destruction, and CIETY'S NATURAL History.
increase the sources of their revenue. + BEAVER HUNTERS.—The Iroquois are In a few years, comparatively speaking, the greatest beaver takers in Canada, and the beaver has been exterminated in all the their hunters now allot the beaver districts Atlantic and in the western states, as far as amongst theinselves, and endeavour to pre- the middle and upper waters of the Missouri; serve these animals from extinction, by trench- while in the Hudson's Bay possessions they ing the beaver dams of any one quarter only are becoming annually more scarce, and the once in four or five years, and taking care to race will eventually be extinguished throughleave always a pair, at least, in a dam to breed. out the whole continent. Further north the Indians, when they break up The Indians inhabiting the countries waa beaver lodge, destroy, as far as they are able, tered by the tributaries of the Missouri and both young and old, and the number of bea- Mississippi, take the beavers principally by vers is consequently now very much reduced. trapping, and are generally supplied with Gangs of Iroquois were also introduced into steel traps by the traders, who do not sell, but the fur countries to the north some years ago; lend or hire them, in order to keep the Inand by setting traps, which destroyed indis. dians dependent upon themselves, and also to criminately beavers of all sizes, they almost lay claim to the furs which they may procure. extirpated the species from their hunting The business of trapping requires great exgrounds. The Hudson's Bay Company are, perience and caution, as the senses of the however, endeavouring to remedy this evil, by beaver are very keen, and enable him to de. laying plans to insure an adequate supply of tect the recent presence of the hunter by the the very useful beaver fur, although it is not slightest traces. It is necessary that the hands likely that it can ever be so plentiful as it should be washed clean before the trap is was formerly. In the year 1743, the import handled and baited, and that every precaution of beaver skins into the ports of London and should be employed to elude the vigilance of Kochelle, amounted to upwards of 150,000; the animal. The bait which is used to entice THE SEAL.* -Every step we proceed in the description of amphibious quadrupeds, we make nearer advances to the tribe of fishes. We first observed the otter with its feet webbed, and formed for an aquatic life; we next saw the beaver with the hinder parts covered with scales, resembling those of fishes; and we now come to a class of animals in which the shape and habitude of fishes still more apparently prevail, and whose internal conformation attaches them very closely to the water. The seal, in general,
(The Ursine Seal.) resembles a quadruped in some respects, and a fish in others. The head is round, like that of a man ; the nose broad, like that of the otter; the teeth like those of a dog ; the eyes large and sparkling ; no external ears, but holes that serve for that purpose; the neck is well proportioned, and of a moderate length; but the body thickest where the neck is joined to it
. From thence the animal tapers down to the tail, growing all the way smalier, like a fish. The whole body is covered with a thick bristly shining hair, which looks as if it were entirely rubbed over with oil; and thus far the quadruped prevails over the aquatic. But it is in the feet that this animal greatly differs from all the rest of the quadruped kind; for, though furnished with the same number of bones with other quadrupeds, yet they are so stuck on the body, and so covered with a membrane, that they more resemble fins than feet; and might be taken for such, did not the claws with which they are pointed show their proper analogy. In the fore feet, or rather hands, all the arm and the cubit are hid under the skin, and nothing appears but the hand from the wrist downwards; so that if we imagine a child with its arms swathed down, and nothing appearing but its hands at each side of the body, towards the breast, we may have some idea of the formation of this animal in that part. These hands are covered in a thick skin, which serves, like a fin, for swimming; and are distinguished by five claws, which are long, black, and piercing. As to the hind feet, they are stretched out on each side of the short tail, covered with a bairy skin like the former, and both together almost joining at the tail; the whole looks like the broad Aat tail of a tish; and, were it not for five claws which appear, might be considered as such. The dimensions of this animal are various, being found from four feet long to nine. They differ also in their colours : some being black, others spotted, some white, and many more yellow.
The water is the seal's usual habitation, and whatever fish it can catch, its food. Though not equal in instinct and cunning to some terrestrial animals, it is greatly superior to the mute tenants of that element in which it chiefly resides. Although it can continue for several minutes under water, yet it is not
the beavers is prepared from the substance proached softly under cover of the bushes, and called castor (castoreum) obtained from the prepared to fire on the unsuspecting creatures, glandulous pouches of the male animal, which but a nearer approach discovered to him such contain sometimes from two to three ounces. a similitude between their gestures and the
ANECDOTE.—The young beavers whine in infantile caresses of his own children, that such a manner as closely to resemble the cry he threw aside his gun, and left them unof a child. Like the young of most other molested.”-FRANKLIN. animals they are very playful, and their movements are peculiarly interesting: “One * Seals have six pointed parallel teeth in day a gentleman, long resident in the Hud- the upper jaw, the outer ones of which are son's Bay Country, espied five young beavers larger; there are five grinders on each side sporting in the water, leaping upon the trunk above, and six below; all of which have three of a tree, pushing one another off
, and play. knobs; the hind feet are united into a kind ing a thousand interesting tricks. He ap- of fin.