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THE VISCACHA, OR PRAIRIE-DOG, OF THE PAMPAS.
Marmot Diana. Griff. Trans. Cuvier.)
THE PRAIRIE DOG,
notice we have of it appears to be one by THOSE who have read Captain Head's Dobrizhoffer, in his “Historia de Abi“ Rough Notes of a Journey across the ponibus. Viennæ, 1784,” or “ History of Pampas," cannot have overlooked his fre- the Abipones, published at Vienna, in quent allusions to an animal whose burrows 1784." He states, that it is called by these are so abundant, and often so thickly clus- people nehelaterek, that it resembles a hare, tered together, in those extensive and track that it digs burrows in the more elevated less plains, as to render travelling on horse- parts of the plain, so artfully, that it is back far from being without risk, frequently impossible for them to be flooded by indeed occasioning very serious accidents ; rain. and the more so, as the universal custom is, These burrows are divided, he adds,“ into to gallop along at full speed. Several times various chambers, as many families inhabit Captain Head was himself in peril, and the same locality. On the surface of the numerous were the accidents which oc- ground, there are several entrances leading curred either within his knowledge, or which into the buri , and around these they sit in were related to him by others.
groups, towards the approach of sunset, on Abundant as the viscacha is thus proved the listen to catch the sound of any one to be, it is not a little remarkable, that until approaching. If all is quiet, they wander very lately naturalists should have known forth at night to feed, and commit sad hardly any thing about it. In fact, the first havoc in the neighbouring fields; for they
devour both European wheat and Indian holes of these animals are also inhabited corn, with great avidity, despising grass by vast numbers of small owls, which sit when either can be obtained. Hence the during the day, gazing on the passing trabiscacha stations are seldom to be met vellers, and making a very ludicrous apwith in the desert plains, but with certainty pearance. The parts of the road most indicate the proximity of Spanish settle frequented by the biscacha, are generally ments; and it is a matter of surprise, that overrun by a species of wild melon, bitter I have never seen the biscacha in the terri- to the taste. Whether it thrives particutories, (although well supplied with crops larly in the manure of this animal, or of all kinds,) either of the Abipones, or of whether the biscacha chooses his hole Guaranis. They daily heap up, at the en- near this running plant, does not seem to trances of their burrow, dry bones, chips of have been ascertained.” wood, and whatever odds and ends they The viscacha is an animal of the rodent may meet with; but for what purpose they order, (rodentia,) which comprises also collect such things, it is impossible to con- 'the rabbit, marmot, porcupine, and all jecture.
animals distinguished by two large in“ The Spanish settlers occasionally spend cisores, or cutting teeth, in each jaw, sepaan idle hour in hunting them ; pouring rated, by a space void of teeth, from the buckets of water into their subterranean grinders, which have a perpendicularly retreats, when the creatures, to avoid drown- laminated structure. ing, issue out into the plain, and no refuge In size, this animal, when fully grown, presenting, are killed with sticks. Unless is nearly as large as our common badger. very old, their flesh is not considered des- Above, it is of a blackish grey ; beneath, picable even by the Spaniards."
white. The head is large and obtuse, and The abbe Jolis, a Spaniard, who dwelt a whitish band, beginning on the nose, for many years in South America, also de- passes across the face, beneath each eye, scribed the visacha, or biscacha, (for the to the root of the ear, producing a sort of word is differently spelled,) in a work pub- crescent-shaped mask, when the face is lished in 1789, and afterwards in 1801. seen in front. The sides of the lips are D'Azora gave, in his work on the Quad- furnished with a tuft of thickly-set whisrupeds of Paraguay, a more detailed kers, composed of long black bristles ; and sketch, from which succeeding naturalists from the angles of the mouth, across the have generally taken their accounts, and cheeks, below the band, extends a brush of which rendered it evident that the animal black bristles, stouter than the whiskers, could no longer be retained among the but shorter, the lowermost being sharply hares, (lepus,) where it had been placed. pointed. This brush reaches the angle of
Among recent travellers who have no- the jaw, and forms a true beard ; it does ticed the viscacha, we may mention Proc- not, however, end quite abruptly, but may tor, who, in his narrative of a journey be traced by bristly hairs intermingled across the Cordillera of the Andes, ob- with the fur, across the shoulder, as far as
the middle of the back. The ears are "The whole country, from Buenos moderate, the fore-legs are rather slender Ayres to San Luis de la Panta, is more or and short, the toes are four, and the whole less burrowed by an animal between a rab- of the palm is bare, the hind legs long, bit and a badger, called the biscacha, and something resembling those of a kanwhich renders travelling dangerous, parti- garoo, though not so disproportionately cularly by night, their holes being so large large. They are, however, formed so as to and deep, that a horse is almost sure to fall enable the animal to sit up; the metatarsal if he steps into one of them. The bis bones being long, and the heel furnished cacha never ventures far from its retreat, with a naked callous sole, before which is and is seldom seen till the evening, when a part covered with hair. The toes are it comes out to feed ; and hundreds may three, of which, as in the kangaroo, the be observed sporting around their holes, and middle one is much elongated; all are making a noise very similar to the grunting furnished with strong nails and naked pads. of pigs. Their flesh is much liked by the At the end is a sketch, which shows the people, and they are remarkably fat, and resemblance to the same part of the kanon that account, when caught at any dis- garoo. The tail is of moderate length, cotance from their holes, are easily run down; vered with greyish brown hairs, of which they will, however, defend themselves the longest form a fringe on the upper surfrom a dog for a considerable time. The face ; it is generally kept like squirrel's, retroverted on the back. The incisor teeth several beautiful specimens in the Musee are remarkably large and strong.
du roi, at Paris. Our drawing was taken from one of the
(Sketch of Under-surface of Hind Foot.)
mass of air to the surface, and an oppresSOLAR light, when uninfluenced by an sive density would be produced ; if the interfering body, moves in right lines, but latter was the only force, the atmosphere in passing through a fluid, a vapour, or a would be so rarified, that neither animal gas, it is bent or refracted from its direc- nor vegetable substances could exist. But tion. An upright stick, plunged to some the Creator has so arranged and balanced depth in water, appears broken, and the these two opposing forces, that the atmoseye does not give us an accurate idea of its phere around the earth is in the best posreal situation and position, nor do we see sible state to sustain the creatures with any of the celestial bodies in their real whom he has peopled the world. places, because their light is bent out of its But as we ascend from the surface of straight course, in passing through our at the earth, the attraction of gravitation demosphere. A knowledge of this fact ena- creases, and the expansive power being less bles us to approximate to a determination and less under control, the atmosphere is of the extent of our atmosphere; for, it in a greater state of rarification. It would has been discovered that, at a height of be possible to ascend so high above the forty-five miles, it has the power of refract- "level of the sea, that the air would be in too ing or bending the solar rays. How far it attenuated a state to support animal life. extends beyond this, we cannot very readily The atmosphere may, therefore, be condetermine, but from the production of sidered as composed of layers, or strata, the sound at much greater heights, we may at lowest being the most dense. least deduce that this is not its limit.
As the air is material, it must have It will readily be perceived that the weight, and consequently exert a pressure density of the atmosphere must become upon all the bodies which it surrounds. less and less as we ascend from the surface The pressure exerted upon bodies at the of the earth, for all gases and vapours are surface of the earth is equal to about 15lbs. not only elastic, but are capable of com- on every square inch. The body of an pression into a smaller bulk than they average-size man presents a surface of would occupy if uninfluenced. So great about 2000 square inches, and conseis the expansibility of atmospheric air, quently such a man must sustain a presthat if it were perfectly free from the control sure equal to 30,000 pounds. This stateof all attractive forces, it would expand it- ment, however, is often misunderstood, self indefinitely. But the force of gravity, and it is imagined that this weight is or, in other words, the attraction of gravita- pressing down the human body, or that a tion, which causes bodies to fall to the man has to carry it upon his shoulders ; earth, has a power over the atmosphere, but this is an erroneous conception of the and keeps it around the world in which manner in which the atmospheric pressure we live. There are, therefore, two forces is exerted. The body is surrounded by acting in different directions, and both are air, and the pressure is equal in every dinecessary to keep the atmosphere in its rection, so that the exterior force upon the present state ; there is the attraction of the body supports rather than oppresses, while earth, which draws it to the surface, and the air which is contained within, prevents the expansibility of the air, which gives it the external force from producing any injua tendency to throw itself off. If the for- rious effect. mer acted alone, it would bring the whole It will require no arguinent to prove
that the air exerts a downward pressure, | accomplished the purpose. A sufficient and the reader may soon convince himself power might have been left to prevent the that it also has an upward pressure. If we destruction of life, and yet so much migh take a tumbler, and, filling it with water, have been taken away, as to render that place a piece of pasteboard or card at the life miserable. We may therefore, even in top, the glass may be inverted without spill- the study of the material creation, gather ing the water, for the card is kept firmly from the mercies of God, incitements to in its place by the upward pressure of the love him, when the heart has been once atmosphere, although it has to support the reconciled by a confiding trust in the weight of the water.
greater work of redemption through Christ. The Magdenburgh hemispheres are gene
(To be continued.) rally employed to prove that the atmosphere exerts a pressure in every direction.
UTILITY OF WATER. Two hollow brass hemispheres are so formed that their lips may fit closely to- If we would have a familiar illustration gether, and be air-tight. Into one of these of the importance of the use of water, in ħemispherical cups open tube is fitted, the daily and hourly occurrences of life, which is furnished with a stop-cock, and a let us in imagination accompany an inhandle that may be unscrewed at pleasure. dividual of moderate rank and condition in When the instrument is to be used, remove society, from the time of his rising in the handle, and screw the hemisphere to the morning till the hour of sleep at night, the plate of an air-pump, and placing the in order to observe the utility of water in other hemisphere upon it, exhaust the air administering either directly or indirectly they contain ; turn the stop-cock, and re- to his various wants and habits. How move them from the pump. The handle great is the comfort, to say nothing of the may now be replaced, and two strong salubrity of the practice, which results to persons will be unable to separate the him from the application of water to the cups, for the interior air being removed, surface of the body, by means either of the there is no force to counteract the pressure bath or any simpler process ! and, again, upon the exterior 'surface. This experi- the change of the linen, in which he is parment admirably illustrates the principle, tially clothed, is rendered equally comfortthat the pressure is the same in every di- able and salutary, in consequence of its rection.
having been previously subunitted to the In the study of this remarkable pro- process of washing. The infusion of perty of the atmosphere we are led to coffee, or of tea, which is probably an esadmire its' exceedingly beautiful adapta- sential part of his earliest meal, could not tion to the constitution of animal and have been prepared without water; neither (vegetable bodies. When God placed man could the four, of which his bread conupon the earth to pass his state of proba- sists, have been kneaded ; nor the food of tion, he had prepared a world for his resi- his subsequent meal, the broths and niost dence, that was exactly adapted to sustain of the vegetables at least, have been renhis life, and to increase all his rational dered digestible; and, with respect to his pleasures. And even after his fall, when common beverage, whether milk, or any he was put under a new state of pro- form of fermented liquor, water still conbation, by the mercy of God, these adapt- stitutes the main bulk of that beverage. ations were 'not withdrawn, but all the So far the use of water is directly and sources of enjoyment that were before de- immediately necessary to his comfort and rived from the material creation, were still subsistence; but its indirect and remote
necessity is equally observable in all that The atmosphere by which the earth surrounds him. There is scarcely an aris surrounded 'is necessary for the support ticle of his apparel, in some part of the of animal and vegetable life in its appli- preparation of which water has not been cation to the respiratory structure. But necessarily employed; in the tanning of this is not 'its only use, for if it exerted no the leather of his shoes ; in the dressing of pressure upon bodies, the vessels of the the flax of which his linen is made; in the animal and vegetable systems would be dyeing of the wool of his coat, oi of the unable to sustain the expansion of the materials of his hat. Without water the Auids they contain. Now, if it had pleased china or earthen cups, out of which he God to place man in a state of misery, the drinks, could not have been turned on the removal of a part of the pressure which lathe ; nor the bricks, of which his house rests upon his animal frame would have is constructed, nor the mortar by which
open to him.
they are cemented, have been formed. The
Multitudes die with sullenness, ink with which he writes, and the paper some with blasphemies faltering on their which receives it, could not have been made tongue. But, brethren, the hunible chriswithout the use of water. The knife with tian would die praying. Well says the which he divides his solid food, and the poet :spoon with which he conveys it when in a
“Prayer is the christian's vital breath, liquid form to his mouth, could not have
The christian's native air; been, or, at least, have not properly been
His watch-word at the gates of death,
He enters heaven with prayer !" formed, without the application of water during some part of the process of making But, observe for what Stephen prayed. them.
“ Lord Jesus, receive my spirit !” This is By water the medical principles of va- the prayer of faith, commending the imrious vegetable and mineral substances are mortal spirit to the covenant care of Jesus. extracted, and rendered potable; which The spirit does not die with the body. could not be introduced into the animal | None but God, who gave, can take away system in a solid state; and this element the soul's existence, and he has declared itself becomes occasionally a most powerful that he never will. Would that bad men medicinal instrument by its external appli- would think on that! You cannot get rid cation, in every one of its forms; whether of your soul's existence : you cannot cease as a liquid, under the name of the cold or to be : you may wish it ; though the wish warm bath, or in the form of ice, in re- is monstrous and unnatural. But there is straining inflammation and hemorrhage; no annihilation for any soul of man. Oh, or lastly, in the state of steam, as in the come to our Saviour ! give him your guilty application of the vapour bath.-Professor soul, to be justified through his atonement, Kidd.
washed in his blood, regenerated by his
Spirit. Make to him now that surrender A DYING CHRISTIAN'S PRAYER,
of your soul, for which he calls. Renew " And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, say
this happy self-dedication every day, very ing, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” – Acts vii. 59. specially every Sabbath, and most solemnly HERE is a prayer to Jesus Christ, to re
from time to time at the Lord's Supper. ceive the departing soul : and this I put And then, when you come to die, it will down among the characteristics of every only be, to do once more what you have so faithful death.
often done in former days,—again to comBrethren, I think you will feel in a dy- mend your soul very humbly, believingly, ing hour, that your departing soul needs a and affectionately, into the faithful care of Divine Saviour. You have one in Jesus Jesus Christ.-Hambleton. Christ. You may call upon him then,
His ear will not be heavy, though yours may, when death is sealing
THE HUMAN INTELLECT. up your faculties. His eye will not have The vast and capacious powers of the lost its power of gazing affectionately on human intellect form a theme on which you, when yours is becoming dim and men always love to dwell. It stirs the closed. His hand will not be shortened, spirit of man to be told of the secrets he in the hour when yours will have become has extorted from nature; of the stupentremulous and feeble. But lift up the dous treasures of knowledge which he has hand, the heart, the eye, the soul, in prayer heaped up; of the sagacity wherewith he to him then, and you will find him a very has dived into the abyss of dark and near and present help in that your time of hidden things ; of the chariot of fire in trouble.
which he has ascended to “the brightest Brethren, a christian should die praying. heaven of invention.” Other men die in different ways, according Of all these glories it is his delight to to their character and temper. Julius hear. He sits in pride amid the spoils Cæsar died adjusting his robes, that he and the riches of countless generations, might fall gracefully. Augustus died in a till he feels a sort of divinity within compliment to Livia his wife ; Tiberius, in him, and begins to scorn the earth upon dissimulation; Vespasian in a jest. The which he treads. And then comes the lofinfidel Hume died with pitiful jokes about tiness of countenance, and the perversion Charon and his boat; Rousseau, with lan- of heart, which so often turn his knowguage of presumptuous boasting ; Voltaire, ledge and his wisdom into a snare and a with mingled imprecations and supplica- curse. For what will the Lord of all tions; Paine, with shrieks of agonizing re- knowledge say to the creature whom he,
even as now.