페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

coloured lion hesitate when I met him at night on my expeditions through the forest, but never this one. The black lion always looked me full in the face, without any demonstration of anger, before the attack, but regarding me with disdain, as if I were an inferior being. In fact he is the most beautiful animal before, and the noblest after, man himself.

Fortunately for him, he has not yet become acquainted with the martyrdom of captivity, for I cannot otherwise designate the cruel and thoughtless mode of securing him in zoological gardens.

Here is a creature which, more than any other, has need of air and space, and he is imprisoned in a cage in which he can hardly turn himself. But the money requisite to supply the place of those which thus die a miserable death would amply suffice to afford them an extent of ground similar to that reserved for deer and other less noble animals; and we should then possess creatures magnificently proportioned, instead of poor, sickly, emaciated forms; and they might be watched as they play and bound in fact almost as in a state of nature.

There is still something to be done in this respect, and sooner or later it will be accomplished, for the English are an earnest, practical people. Meanwhile, should any of my readers happen to be Fellows of the Zoological Society of London, I would just give them a friendly caution against making the mountains of Africa the scene of their vacation tours, lest the lions at large should take vengeance upon them for the unfortunate fate of their brethren held in captivity.

The author of this paper, M. Jules Gérard, is but little known in England; and it is only recently that his name has appeared somewhat prominently in connection with his lion adventures in Northern Africa, and his projected journey of exploration into the western equatorial territories of that continent.

The following details will, we trust, have the effect not only of giving additional interest to his little essay here published, but of enlisting for him the sympathies of our readers in his hazardous enterprise.

M. Gérard is an officer in the Franco-African army; but his recent reception here, and the object which he is now seeking to attain with English co-operation, are likely to associate his name with this country more intimately than with Northern Africa, the scene of his lion-hunting adventures, or with his native land.

He left Liverpool in excellent health and spirits, on the 24th of last February, by the steamer “ Macgregor Laird” (a name

of good omen, as he said before leaving), for Lagos, accompanied only by a photographic assistant; and from that place it was his intention to proceed to Whidah (where the slaves are shipped), and thence through the possessions of the cannibal King of Dahomey to the river Niger.

We hope to be able to communicate further details of his

His reputation for bravery preceded him from France, and gained for him the goodwill of every class of society. Sporting men, from noble dukes downwards, made him their companion and friend. The Ministers of Foreign Affairs and of the Colonies, the merchants of Liverpool, the manufacturers of Manchester, and scientific men in every place that he visited, lent him their aid, “material and moral ;” and before his departure, the Royal Geographical Society presented him with a set of excellent instruments to enable him to take accurate observations on his geographical tour.

But it is chiefly to the friendship of the Duke of Wellington that he owes his good fortune, and if it please Providence that another adventurous and high-minded man should penetrate into the gloomy regions of cannibalism and the slave-trade, and that he should do something to mitigate the horrors of these most fearful of human crimes, much of the result will be due to the prompt and generous support afforded by his Grace* to our author, nay, we may say our hero, at the most critical period of his projected undertaking.

As M. Gérard is not here to read our eulogium (for that he is as modest as he is brave all will say who know him), we may state that he is in every respect peculiarly fitted for his mission. As far as a somewhat brief acquaintance has enabled us to judge, he combines with the courage and determination of a soldier a gentle disposition, (which was pained when he found he had deprived the lioness and her young of their protector), scrupulous honour, French politeness, and English friendship; and if a good shot, an unbending will, and the winning ways of a man of the world be of any avail, M. Gérard will command as friendly a reception from his Majesty of Dahomey as he has experienced in civilized society in England.

When he started, he spoke with great confidence of the establishment of a colony and trading station in some healthy portion of the interior of western equatorial Africa, and we trust that in the cause of civilization and progress, as well as for his own sake, his enterprise may be carried to a successful issue.

* Also by Earl Russell and the Duke of Newcastle.

322

BRITISH FUNGI.

BY MISS MARGARET PLUES.

“ The turf
Smells fresh, and rich in odoriferous herbs
And fungous fruits of earth, regales the sense
With luxury of unexpected sweets."

COWPER.

TT is a very general complaint during the autumn and open 1 winter weather that there is nothing for botanists to find, and therefore no encouragement for them to extend their rambles beyond the dry limits of that most wearisome of all exercises, a “constitutional walk.” Those who thus decide, do a grevious wrong to a large and curious race of plants, whose structure is as wonderful as that of the gayest exotics, and their colours in many instances scarcely less brilliant, and which have their uses too, both medicinal and gastronomic; also—what is generally most attractive—their dark and mysterious dangers. The Fungi are an ill-used race; under the name of Toadstools we insult them from earliest infancy. Flowers are often ruthlessly plucked, quickly to be cast aside and forgotten. Ferns, though the rage of the day, sometimes share a similar fate, and the mossy garland or basket is left to wither unnoticed; but such an end is too good for Fungi. “Ah, nasty Toadstools!” we say, and proceed to kick them over. Yet nowhere can we find more variety and purity of form, or more brilliancy of colouring. Let us do justice to the Fungi, examine their merits—ay, and their demerits too,—and then the woods will not lose their charm for us in autumn, nor even in winter. : Fungi, like most other plants, have three parts : spawn, which performs the function of roots; expanded portion, as the stem and cupola of the Mushroom, the branches of the Clavaria, or the cup of the Peziza, which answers to the stem and leaves of other plants; and spores, which answer to their fruit. The whole substance of a Fungus is formed of cells, generally round or oval, but often, as in moulds, branching in the most fanciful manner.

The order of Fungi is divided into two groups, or suborders : Sporiferous, where the spore is formed naked upon the cells; and Sporidiferous, when it is formed within the cell, which then becomes a bag, or spore-case. The first group of

[graphic][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed]
« 이전계속 »