Abbildungen der Seite

storks, which regard themselves as the lords of this watery domain, are the prey of the great eagles and ounces-the ducks and the spoonbills, of the otter, the glutton, tiger-cat, and vulture; and the smaller water-fowl have more powerful neighbours: but the dominion over these remote waters is disputed with the feathered tribes by the alligators, the gigantic serpents, and that dreadfully voracious fish the piranha. After we had taken a sketch of this singular scene, Senhor Nogueira conducted us back to Capão by another path. We plunged into the recesses of an intricate forest, and had scarcely proceeded a quarter of an hour, when we came in sight of another pond, which, overshadowed by thick bushes, and tinged with the beams of the setting sun, lay silent and gloomy before us. While the shrill cries of those social inhabitants of the air still resounded in our ears, we had been transported, as if by magic, to a region of death. Not a bird was to be seen; life appeared to be extinct; even the sultry air, which hung mysteriously over the surface of the dark waters, did not agitate a branch or even a leaf. Turning with surprise to our guide, we were informed by him that this was the abode of numberless alligators and the voracious piranha.

The piranha is of the size of a carp, and its jaws are armed with the sharpest teeth. Exceedingly voracious and greedy after flesh, and always assembled in large bodies, it is dangerous even to the largest animals, which are often seen, pursued by a shoal of the piranha, to rise for a moment bellowing on the surface of the water, and immediately after, each fish giving only one bite, are victims of a thousand enemies. The animals of the Sertão know the danger which awaits them from this blood-thirsty race, and carefully avoid the ponds in which they live. When the capivara, pursued by other foes, is forced to take refuge in them, it does so with the greatest caution, not to disturb the water too much. The horses and

cattle sip only from the surface, and hardly dip their nose below it; notwithstanding which it is often bitten off. Even the cayman flies before this fierce enemy, and turns its belly, which is not provided with scales, to the surface of the water: only the otter, whose thick fur resists the effect of the bite, is secure against its attacks. The piranha is a very well-flavoured fish.

We counted more than forty caymans, which were lying partly on the shore, and partly (probably attracted by the noise) appearing gradually on the surface of the water, where they floated motionless, like pieces of wood; or else, with their heads elevated, swam about in all directions. The largest of these animals were eight or nine feet in length, had greenish scales, and blunt snouts. Nature has given to no other creature so hideous an appearance as to this animal, which many painters have, not inaptly, employed as an image of the lowest malice and degradation. If an enemy should approach the spot where the female is watching her eggs, she is immediately roused; her nostrils distend, her little fiery eyes roll, her pale red jaws open wide, and with a sudden snap she seizes the prey, which she does not let loose till with her powerful teeth and violent contortions she has bitten off a limb. Hence we frequently see horses and cattle which have in this manner lost the lowest joints of the foot, the tail, or lips. The dogs deceive the caymans by suddenly quitting the place where they have agitated the water, to drink at another. Even the ounce, when coming to the water to drink, is sometimes vanquished by the cayman; and all animals seem fearfully to avoid this monster, except the piranha, which is its most dangerous enemy. When we came to a remote creek of the pond, which swarmed with this fish, we let down into it a red handkerchief, and drew out two of them, which, deceived by the colour, had immediately bitten at it.



MARCH was so named from the god Mars, to whom Romulus had dedicated it. The sign of this month is Aries.

Remarkable Days

In MARCH 1829.



DAVID, the tutelar saint of Wales, died at a very advanced age, towards the end of the sixth century. -See our former volumes. The wearing of leeks on this day has been before alluded to: according to Shakspeare, royalty itself did not disdain to bear this commemorative emblem. In Henry V, act iv, scene 7, Fluellen says to the King-Your grandfather, of famous memory, an't please your majesty, and your great-uncle, Edward the plack prince of Wales, as I have read in the chronicles, fought a most prave pattle here in France.

K. Henry. They did, Fluellen.

Fluellen. Your majesty says very true: if your majesties is remembered of it, the Welchmen did goot service in a garden where leeks did grow, wearing leeks in their Monmouth caps; which your majesty knows to this hour is an honourable padge of the service: and, I do believe, your majesty takes no scorn to wear the leek upon Saint Tavy's day.

K. Henry.-I wear it for a memorable honour; for I am Welch, you know, good countryman.


Bishop of Lichfield, died in 673, the year in which Venerable Bede was born.


For various particulars of this day, the reader is referred to the fifteen previous volumes of Time's Telescope, particularly T.T. for 1827, pp. 37-40, and our last volume, pp. 44-46.


The Lent fast was called by the Latins Quadragesima; but whether on account of its being originally a fast of forty days, or only forty hours, has been much disputed among learned men. An account of the austerities of the early Christians will be found in T.T. for 1827, pp. 40-44; and a curious anecdote respecting Lent is given in our last volume, p. 46.


He was second son of Casimir III, King of Poland; and, according to Ribadeneira, he wore under his princely attire a prickly hair shirt, fasted rigorously, prayed at night till he fell weary and exhausted on the bare floor; often in the most sharp and bitter weather went barefoot to church at midnight, and lay on his face before the door; studied to advance the Catholic religion, and to extinguish or drive heresy out of Poland; persuaded his father to enact a law, that no new church should be built for heretics, nor any old ones repaired; in a particular virtue 'surpassed the angels; committed suicide; resigned his soul amidst choirs of priests; had it carried to heaven, surrounded with a clear bright light, by angels; and thirty-six years after his death he appeared in glittering armour and gallantly mounted; led the Polish army through an impassable river, and conquered the Muscovites; and the next year marched before his beloved Poles in the air against the enemy, and as 'he beat them before, so he beat them again."


She suffered martyrdom at twenty-two years of age, under the persecution of Severus, in the year 203.

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]


This day is called in France Le Dimanche des Brandons, or Torch Sunday; see our last volume, pp. 47-48.

*8. 1750.-EARTHQUAKE AT LONDON. The shock was at half past five in the morning. It awoke people from their sleep, and frightened them out of their houses. A servant maid in Charterhouse-square was thrown from her bed, and had her arm broken; bells in several steeples were struck by the chime hammer; great stones were thrown from the new spire of Westminster Abbey; dogs howled in uncommon tones; and fishes jumped half a yard out of the water.

11, 13, 14.—EMBER DAYS.

The Ember Days, as now established, are the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, after the first Sunday in Lent; after Whitsunday, September 14, and December 13, respectively.


Gregory, commonly called the Great, was elevat ed to the papal chair A.D. 590. Zealous for the conversion of Britain, he sent over the monk Augustin, with forty companions, on a mission to the AngloSaxons.


The tutelar saint of Ireland, died about the year 460, at an advanced age: see T.T. for 1824, p. 69, and T.T. for 1827, p. 66.-For a curious account of a spot in Ireland, called 'Patrick's Purgatory,' consult our last volume, p. 65.


The first President of the Linnean Society. From the year 1786, when he published his first medical work, almost to the hour of his death, he devoted himself with indefatigable zeal chiefly to botanical studies, but not neglecting other branches of natural

« ZurückWeiter »