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the fields and gardens, ruin the harvest, and only what is kept in the houses escapes them, into these happily they never enter. Their number is so prodigious, that, when they die, the air is infected, and much sickness is the consequence. All this tribe of mice appear to live on roots, bulbs, grain, nuts, &c. and have generally a very short tail.
The Campagnol,' or short-tailed rat of Pennant, is equally destructive; in some years their numbers are so prodigious, that they overflow, as it were, a whole district, and by their ravages produce famine and desolation. This effect is stated to have been produced in certain parts of France where an extent of forty square leagues was devastated by them. In their progress these animals are preyed upon by the predaceous quadrupeds and birds, by whose incessant attacks their numbers, in ordinary seasons, are kept within the bounds assigned them by the Creator, as are the Locusts by the Locust-eating Thrush, and the Aphides or Plant-lice which may be denominated the Locusts of Britain, and which are stated sometimes almost to darken the air, by the ladybirds and aphidivorous flies.
All these migrations are produced by a different cause from those periodical ones which take place, after certain intervals, or at certain seasons, in various other animals of every grade; and though
1 Arvicola arvalis. 2 Turdus gryllivorus.
a scarcity of food, or straitened circumstances or accommodations may be the impelling motives, yet these are produced by an unusual increase in the numbers of the migrating species, so that they are driven to seek an outlet by which their supernumeraries may pass off and relieve them from the pressure, or the whole population, deserting an exhausted country, may establish themselves in better quarters.
In all the instances that I have here adduced, the object, at the first blush, as far as the Deity may be supposed to be concerned in these outbreaks, appears rather punitive than beneficent, but when we dip below the surface, and look to ultimate consequences, what appears to be altogether an evil, instead of a dark side, turns round and shews one bright with good. It is true, in some cases, the object is punishment of an offender, and in hopeless cases, the sentence is pronounced, “ Cut it down, why cumbereth it the ground.” But before this, Divine Mercy, , which willeth not that any should perish, employs those correctives, which at the same time that they give pain, and wear the appearance of evil and punishment, tend to produce that change of the mind and conversion of the heart, that will reconcile the sinner to God, and ensure to him the blessed inheritance of his children. But temporal good, as well as spiritual, is often the result of these visitations, the devastations of which they are the instruments, as was observed by Sparrman of the locusts, are often followed by fertility, and the fearful scourge is replaced by Amalthea's horn.
2. We are next to consider those migrations that take place periodically, and usually at certain seasons of every year; the general intention of which appears to be a supply of food, and often a temperature best suited to reproduction. Providence, in this, taking care that their instincts shall stimulate them to change their quarters, when these two objects can be answered at the same time, and by a single removal.
In North America, that ferocious and lion-like animal, the Bison, called there the Buffalo, forms regular migrations, in immense herds, from north to south, and from the mountains to the plains, and after a certain period returns back again. Salt-springs, usually called salt-licks or salines, found in a clay, compact enough for potter's clay, are much frequented by these animals, whence they are called Buffalo saltlicks. Dr. Richardson informs me that the periodical movements of these animals are regulated almost solely by the pastures: when a fire has spread over the prairies, it is succeeded by a fine growth of tender grass, which they are sure to visit. How the Bison discovers that this has taken place seems not easily accounted for; perhaps stragglers from the great herds, when food grows scarce, may be instrumental to this.
1 Bos Americanus.
The Musk Ox, a ruminating animal between the ox and sheep,' has the same habit, extending its migratory movements as far as Melville, and other islands of the Polar sea, where it arrives about the middle of May, and going southward towards the end of September, where it has been seen as low as lat. 67° N., which, as Dr. Richardson states, approaches the northern limit of the Bison : its food, like that of the Rein-deer, called in North America the Caribou, is grass in the summer and lichens in the winter. Its hair is very long, and, as well as that of the Bison, which has been manufactured both in England and America into cloth, might be woven into useful articles. This animal inhabits strictly the country of the Esquimaux, and may be regarded as the gift of a kind Providence to that people, who call it Oomingmak, and not only eat its flesh but also the contents of its stomach, as well as those of the Rein-deer, which they call Norrooks, which consisting of lichens and other vegetable substances, as Dr. Richardson remarks, are more easily digested by the human stomach when they are mixed with the salivary and gastric juices of a ruminating animal. The wild Rein-deer in North America, in the
summer, as the excellent man and author lately mentioned states, seek the coast of the Arctic seas: it is singular that the females, driven from the woods by the musquitos, migrate thither before the males, generally in the month of May (some say in April and March), while the latter do not begin their march till towards the end of June. At this time the sun has dried up the lichens on the Barren Grounds, and the moist pastures in the valleys of the coast and islands of the above seas afford them sufficient food. Soon after their arrival the females drop their young. They commence their return to the south in September, and reach the vicinity of the woods towards the end of October. After the rutting season, which takes place in September, the males and females live separately; the former retire deeper into the woods, while the pregnant herds of the latter remain in the skirts of the Barren Grounds, which abound in the rein-deer! and other lichens. In the woods, they feed on lichens which hang from the trees, and on the long grass of the swamps. The males do not usually go so far north as the females. Columns, consisting of eight or ten thousand of these Caribous, so numerous are they in North America, may be seen annually passing from north to south in the spring, infested and attacked
i Cenomyce rangiferina. Achar.