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from a place where he has got any hold; so that one cannot, from this, altogether discredit what is told of the monstrous serpents, of thirty or forty feet long, in Guiana, Ceylon, &c. which, it is said, have been known to strangle and devour the buffalo and the tyger. So horrible and revolting is the very look of this animal, that it is impossible a person, even if he is conscious there is no danger attending its bite, can avoid starting at the sight of him; even the very brutes, horses, oxen, &c. start and snort if they see one near them this the author has more than once remarked. Dogs bark at them, but carefully keep aloof while they are in a posture of defence. It is remarkable that the black snake, when assailed by a dog, always darts at his eyes; by this means the terriers, who never pass by them without shewing their antipathy, often get blind and useless by this warfare. As to the power of fascination which it is said the snake possesses, the author never knew but one instance that had the appearance of it :-on riding along a road one day, he observed a little bird hopping, with a kind of circular and feeble motion, round one particular spot; he desired his servant to go and seize the little flutterer; but just as he had got to the spot, and almost laid his hand on it, a large black snake darted away from under the grass, and at the same instant the little bird flew away. Extreme terror and strong surprise produce a
species of fascination, and this probably is the kind which charms and arrests the hapless bird, and finally draws him into the mouth of the wily serpent. A gentleman, in traversing the woods one day, found the skeleton of a snake entwined round that of a cat; they had been fighting, and perished together in the conflict.
The gallow-wasp is an ugly and frightful animal; it is made like the guano, or lizard, but with a much broader back and shorter tail: this animal was for some time thought venomous, but that opinion now no longer exists. There are green guanos here, but none of that large species which the Spaniards of the neighbouring islands consider as so dainty a morsel. There are here, besides those mentioned, various other noxious reptiles, such as scorpions, centipedes, &c. with innumerable tribes of insects, which it were superfluous to describe. Something, however, may be said of that remarkable one the musquito, so troublesome to the inhabitants of the West Indies and other hot countries. This little animal proves most annoying to new-comers; at times they hover about in innumerable swarms, and, incessantly attacking the face and hands, soon cover them with blisters, which create for a while a very unpleasant itching: a remedy for this is bathing the affected parts with lemon or limejuice. To guard against their annoyance in the night, the beds are hung with what are called
musquito-nets, made of coarse gauze. It is remarkable, that the negroes, who cannot often afford this nocturnal defence, acquire a mechanical habit of driving away, with their hands, these troublesome visitors, while they are at the same time in a deep sleep. These insects abound most in the woods, and in the vicinity of woods and marshes; the evenings and mornings are the times when they issue from their cool retreats: they are provided with a proboscis for sucking the blood of those they assail, and the puncture they make in the skin is instantly and keenly felt. Bees are numerous in the woods here, and may be kept in the gardens.
The woods of this island abound with unnumbered tribes of the feathered creation, to describe which, as a naturalist, would require volumes. Few of these, as before observed, are endowed
with the gift of song. Two species, indeed, have a sweet and pleasing note; but they are too delicate for confinement in cages-at least, the art has not yet been discovered of reconciling them to this endurance; and the truth is, little pains are taken to domesticate these warblers of nature. One of these is the Jamaica nightingale, a species of the mock bird; it is rather larger than the thrush, and has a white and dark plumage. The other is the Banana-bird (called so from its feeding on that fruit), which is of the size of the European black-bird, and is adorned
with a bright and beautiful yellow and dark brown plumage. Indeed, though nature has not bestowed so fine and various a pipe on the birds of these tropical regions, as on the feathered inhabitants of more temperate climes, she has, to compensate for this deficiency, decked them out in all the gay and brilliant colours which fancy itself can pourtray. These fine tints and exquisite shades, fading into each other by the softest gradations, are more peculiarly displayed in the various species of the humming bird, of which there are three or four kinds here. Some of the species of the wild pigeon have also a most beautiful plumage; of these there are no less than nine different sorts: the largest of these, called the ring-tailed pigeon, is considered as one of the greatest delicacies of the country at a certain season of the year (from October till February), when the wood-seeds on which it feeds are ripe, at which time it is covered with fat, and is eagerly sought for by those who are, and those who are not, epicures. It is remarkable that this bird becomes very shy and solitary at this time, hiding itself in the thickest shades and deepest retreats of the forest, as if conscious of hovering danger in the vicinity of the dwellings of man; while, at other times, it is frequently seen on the skirts of the woods, and not at all so shy. The sportsman has, therefore, to travel many miles over rocks and woody precipices before he gets to the
haunts of the ring-tail (for it is only at the particular season, it is worth shooting); so that he has much toil to encounter in pursuing this desirable game. Its size is at least a third larger than the domestic pigeon, and so heavy is it with fat, in the proper season, that it splits frequently in falling from the lofty trees on which it is shot, There are seven other species that are either larger than, or nearly as large as, the domestic pigeon; the other is a small bird, about the size of the turtle dove. There are four of the parrot species here, viz, the maccaw, the yellow and the black bill, green parrots, and the paroquet. The former is very rare, but the other kinds are prodigiously numerous, sometimes darkening the air in vast flocks, being gregarious, and rending it with their shrill clamours. The parrots frequent the higher woods, but the paroquet is every where found: both are often very destructive to the plantain walks, &c. the fruit of which they greedily devour. It would be an endless task to enumerate and describe all the various feathered tenants of the woods here; suffice it then to say, that, besides these, there is a variety also of aquatic birds, such as cootes, divers, &c. and a great variety of the heron (or galding, as it here called) from the smaller size up to that of the crane; all these are either of a bluish colour, or milk white. There are also various tribes which are migratory, as ducks, teal, plover, snipes, and