« AnteriorContinuar »
general residence on the banks of the lake, hollowed by the waves ; and here the female brings forth her young. The otter is not fond of rivers and running streams, þut if driven by hunger, it swims against the stream in pursuit of prey. If this method of meeting the fish prove unsuccessful, endued with capacious lungs to take in a large portion of air at a time, he dives to the bottom, and as fish cannot see beneath, from the peculiar conformation of their eyes, he attacks them on the defenceless side, drags them to shore by the belly, and then leaves them for hours together to continue the pursuit. In lakes and ponds he varies his mode of attack. He generally drives them into some small creek or shallow, where
they are infallibly taken. In this manner the otter, during the summer months, obtains a supply more
than adequate to his consumption, frequently with unpardonable cruelty inflicting death for amusement, and leaving the dead fish upon the strand, rather as trophies of his victory than necessity. He is so voracious as to kill more than he can eat, and, by this spirit of covetousness, he becomes so destructive to small fish ponds, as to destroy the whole in the space of a few nights. His wantonness, however, draws after it his own punishment: in winter he is obliged frequently to live upon weeds and grass, or the bark of trees; and, growing desperate from famine, he has the temerity to attack sheep, which brings down upon him the vengeance of man.* His mode of building is as curious as that of taking his prey. This ingenious free-mason burrows under ground: he begins by making an opening at some distance from the bank, frequently in a wood or covert place. He then works his
* Vid. Goldsmith and Pennant, Brit. Zool.
He then works his way, by a circuitous route, to the lake or river; this done, he makes another, to communicate with the windings of this, at the side of the bank bencath the water. By the one, on the land side, he obtains admission for a supply of fresh air, and by the other he eludes the vigilance of his enemies, escaping by his aquatic passage.
It is difficult to take the old ones alive; if they cannot avoid the pursuers hy diving, they retreat to their holes and escape ; but if their retreat be unexpectedly cut off, they grow instantly desperate, attack the dogs with the most savage fierceness, and when once they bite, never quit their hold, so that few dogs care to face them. The young ones are taken with less difficulty. They are generally playing about the edge of the lake, but if the dam be present the task then becomes arduous. The oid one teaches them immediately to plunge into the water, and escape among the rushes or weeds, that commonly fringe the margin. At this carly period they swim with great velocity, and every part but the tip of the nose being submerged, they easily escape. Dogs are trained for this purpose, and this species of hunting furnishes great amusement. When the hunters come to the spot, the dogs discover by their barking that the otter is there, which instantly dives as related. If
the female is absent, the young ones refuse to stir without parental protection, and fall an easy prey. Thus taken, they are fed upon fish and water; as they gain strength, this food is changed for bread, milk, &c. Then taught to fetch and carry like dogs, by training first with artificial, and then with dead fish, they become valuable animals, for such is their docility, they will even fish for their masters, as well as themselves, and obtain their own maintenance, and a supply for the family. This is one instance of a very savage animal being domesticated by human art, and furnishes a probability, that the terror of the thicket and the desart are not irreclaimable from their ferocious state ; bat instead of being the dread of man, might be made subordinate to his will, and subservient to his use.
When we reflect, that out of twenty thousandt animals, not more than a hundred can at present be considered as his auxiliaries, what a majority remains to be subdued ; and what a small portion of the divine grant he has yet possessed himself of. While his ambition is insatiably striving to lord it over his fellow-creatures, and to make his compeers in being the slaves of his pleasure, or bis avarice, the extensive territories of the animal kingdom remain unsubjugated; he permits the strength of the stoutest animals, which in a domesticated state would essentially contribute to his resources, to be, as far as respects him, dissipated without advantage ; and the animals themselves to range in absolute independency, mocking at his title of Creation's Lord.
Wishing that the genius of war might for ever submit to the genius of peace, and mankind apply the powers of reason to sciences, to art, to economy, and humanity; we descended through Bwlch Coch, at the foot of which grows the POLYTRICHUM ALPINUM, and P. URNIGERUM, and on loose stones the LICHEN CENTRIFUGUS, down a rough and rubbly road again to Dolgelleu.
THE road for Barmouth is over a handsome stone bridge of several arches, thrown across the Onion; which here flows many hundred feet wide. On the right, about a mile from the town, on the bank of the river, are the ruins of Cymmer Abbey. Part of the church is still standing, exhibiting at the East end three lofty sharp-pointed arches; and over them three smaller ones mantled with ivy. The abbot's lodge and part of the abbey serve for a farm house. This was a Monastery of the Cistertian order, founded by Meredydd and Gryffydd, the sons of Conan ap Gwen Gwynedd, A. D. 1198. In Llewelyn's charter the benefactions of the founder and the boundaries of the abbey lands are enumerated, and his own recorded, A, D, 1209: evidently proving, that it was founded prior to that period. The revenues at the Dissolution amounted to £58 15s. Ad. Vid. Speed.* Two miles from Dol
Dugdale and Tanner confound this with the abbey of Cwmhir in Radnorshire, on the borders of Montgomery. To that must be referred what Mr. Warner says of this abbey, with respect to the fine its abbot paid to the English, to save it from conflagration; as well as the treachery of one of its monks, that led to the disaster. Vid, Math. Par. p. 311, Powel, 252. The foundations of a castle