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That I may not be tedious, I will just give a short summary of those articles of diet that suit them best.
I take it to be a general opinion that they graze, but it is an erroneous one, at least grass is not their staple ; they seem rather to use it medicinally, soon quiting it for leaves of almost any kind. Sow-thistle, dandelion, and lettuce are their favourite vegetables, especially the last. I discovered by accident, that fine white sand is in great estimation with them; I suppose as a digestive. It happened that I was cleaning a bird-cage while the hares were with me; I placed a pot filled with such sand upon the floor, which being at once directed to by a strong instinct, they devoured voraciously; since that time I have generally taken care to see them well supplied with it. They account green corn a delicacy, both blade and stalk, but the ear they seldom eat ; straw of any kind, especially wheat straw, is another of their dainties ; they will feed greedily upon oats, but if furnished with clean straw never want them; it serves them for a bed, and if shaken up daily, will be kept sweet and dry for a considerable time. They do not indeed require aromatic herbs, but will eat a small quantity of them with great relish, and are particularly fond of a plant called musk; they seem to resemble sheep in this, that if their pasture be too succulent, they are very subject to the rot: to prevent which, I always made bread their principal nourishment, and filling a pan with it cut into small squares, placed it every evening in their chambers, for they feed only at evening and in the night: during the winter when vegetables were not to be got I mingled this mess of bread with shreds of carrot, adding to it the rind of apples, cut extremely thin; for though they are fond of the paring, the apple itself disgusts them. These however not being sufficient substitute for the juice of summer herbs, they must at this time be supplied with water; but so placed that they cannot overset it into their beds. I must not omit, that occasionally they are much pleased with twigs of hawthorn,
and of the common brier, eating even the very wood, when it is of considerable thickness.
Bess, I have said, died young, Tiney lived to be nine years old, and died at last, I have reason to think, of some hurt in his loins by a fall. Puss is still living, and has completed his tenth year, discovering no signs of decay, nor even of age, except that he is grown more discreet and less frolicsome than he was. I cannot conclude without observing that I have lately introduced a dog to his acquaintance a spaniel that had never seen a hare, to a hare that had
seen a spaniel. I did it with great caution, but there was no real need of it. Puss discovered no token of fear, nor Marquis the least symptom of hostility. There is therefore, it should seem, no natural antipathy between dog and hare, but the pursuit of the one occasions the flight of the other, and the dog pursues because he is trained to it ; they cat bread at the same time out of the same hand, and are in all respects sociable and friendly.
I should not do complete justice to my subject, did I not add that they have no ill scent belonging to them, that they are indefatigably nice in keeping themselves clean, for which purpose nature has furnished them with a brush under each foot; and that they are never infested by any vermin.
May 28, 1784.
MEMORANDUM FOUND AMONG MR. COWPER'S PAPERS.
This day died poor Puss, aged eleven years, eleven months. He died between twelve and one at noon, of mere old age, and apparently without pain.