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I had almost despaired of getting you the skeleton of a hyæna, when fortunately, on my march from the Pabool to Cheencholee, on the 14th February 1826, I saw a large male and a female basking in the sun, with a couple of good sized cubs tumbling about them. The -country is a table land, and perfectly open. The beasts were about half a mile from the road. I was obliged to approach them without disguise or concealment., As I neared them, the cubs disappeared in the den, and the female walked slowly away; but the male waited very coolly until I got within a hundred yards of him, when a ball from my gun brought him down. I had shot him through the shoulder, and on running up to him found he had sufficient strength left to move; and fearful he would get into his den, distant only five paces, I put a ball through his head. I regret this now very much, as it broke the skull into fragments, and it will occasion you a good deal of trouble to put them together again. My people had most of them passed on to the new ground of encampment eight miles distant; and as it was getting very hot, I did not think it necessary to dig out the cubs. The hyæna family I found had been regaling themselves on the remains of a jackass, some of whose bones, with the half putrified flesh on them, were lying about. The rest of the animal was doubtless in the den, as I pulled out from one of the passages a hind-leg and baunch, with part of the flesh on it, which the hyænas had been disabled from taking into the recesses of the den, by the leg having stiffened into so angular a form, as not to admit of its passing where the rock narrowed.
I have to remark a very singular fact with respect to the habits of thesc carrion beasts. It was evident from uit avviene the same spot, in a hollow about ten feet from the entrance of the den, and from this substance not being found in any other place, that these beasts, young and old, resorted regularly to a chosen spot; in short, that they had thought it necessary, in their domestic arrangements, to render a spot sacred to the goddess of filth. A -very few
words will now close the hyæna's history. The beast I had killed was taken to my tents, carefully skinned, and the skin cured in the native way, by being rubbed with turmeric and salt, and subsequently with thick acid milk. The flesh was boiled off the bones; and the skeleton, skin, and some of the bones found in the several dens, were packed into a box; put on board the Pyramus, and directed to you, and I trust
will receive this box almost as soon as you get my letter. I have omitted to remark, that porcupines' quills are commonly found in hyenas' dens; these animals, therefore, must be their prey. The hyenas, although sometimes as large or larger than a stout mastiff, contrive to creep along very narrow passages in their dens. I have farther only to remark of the hyena, that it is a cowardly beast. It never attacks where there is
any and, when chased and driven to extremity, submits to be killed almost without resistance. When the beast does bite, and gets a fair hold, the power of the jaws is so great as to admit of their fracturing any bone of a horse or an ox.
(Signed) W. H. SYKES.
To the above letter of Captain Sykes, I add no farther note or comment. Your readers will judge for themselves how far it may confirm the theory I have proposed in my Reliquiæ Diluvianæ, to explain the accumulation of teeth and bones in the Cave of Kirkdale.
P. S.-I beg to correct an omission that occurs in No. XXVIII. of your Journal, p. 363. in the description of fragments of gnawed bones, from the cavern of Kent's Hole, near Torquay, that are stated to have been sent to the Edinburgh Museum by myself. They were only transmitted through me, and at my request; but they were both discovered and presented by the Reverend J. M‘Enery of Torquay, a gentleman who, during two years' past, has exerted himself with the greatest zeal and success in exploring the contents of this cavern, and who has formed the most extensive and most instructive collection of gnawed and mangled fragments of skeletons of antediluvian animals, that has yet been made. It is highly gratifying to me to add, that the conclusions he has drawn from his own independent observations in the larger cavern of Kent's Hole,
mony with those I had founded on a display of similar phenomena, though on a less extensive scale, in the cave of Kirkdale.
On the growth and preparation of Straw used in the Tuscan
Trade * THE following observations have been extracted from some valuable communications which have reached the Highland Society from Mr H. Hall of Florence, Mr Boswell of Kingcausie, and others; and will perhaps afford information on some points of management in the growth and preparation of the straw used in the Tuscan trade, which may not yet be quite familiar in this country.
6 The seed from which the straw for plaiting is grown, is a small round grain of wheat, called grano marzuolo, or more properly grano marzolano. It is so called from being sown in the month of March, and differs from common wheat in appearance, from its rounder and
• Extracted from the printed List of Premiums of the Highland Society of Scotland for 1827.
shorter shape. It is an error to suppose, that hats are made from rye, or any other grain in Tuscany. This marzolano straw is cultivated for the sole purpose of being made into hats ; and is grown chiefly in the vicinity of Florence, and on the hills on both sides of the valley of the Arno. The growth of the straw is thus almost exclusively confined to a limited part of the province of Tuscany. A few years ago, the Pope, aware of the source of wealth which this manufacture produced in that quarter, attempted to introduce the culture of it into his States. From the habits of the people, difference of soil or climate, or from all these causes conjoined, the plan did not succeed ; and the Grand Duke of Tuscany having now allowed the prepared straw to be exported, the idea of cultivating it elsewhere seems to be altogether abandoned. Tuscan women, in the mean time, have settled themselves in various places, such as Vienna, Petersburgh,. &c., where they carry on the manufacture with straw grown in Tuscany.
“ The seed is sown on good ground, but not rich; some sow it on poorish land. In general, vines and olives bound the fields in which 'it grows, or are planted at intervals in the interior of these fields, like orchards in this country. The practice in sowing flax is known to every agriculturist; and nearly the same holds in regard to the marzolana, where the qualities especially to be obtained, are fineness, tenacity, and toughness.
“ To obtain the first, it is sown so thick, that each blade touches another. Manure is never made use of on the ground to be under marzolana. The seed is sown on the ground in a flat state, and a person must be taught the method of sowing it, which is done “ underhand.” The seed is then covered in, by hoeing the ground with a draw-hoe, about three times the size of our common turnip-hoe. This is done as near the first of March as the season will permit. From the beginning to the middle of July (according to the season), it is ready, which is known by the ear being fully shot, but before it is formed into grain. The plant is then, if a good crop, eighteen inches in height. The straw is not cut, but plucked by main force from the soil, and then exposed for the purpose of bleaching, not in bundles, but scattered about in meadows or gravel grounds, exposed to the evening dew and the midday sun, until it is perfectly yellow ; but constantly watched, to gather it together, and put it under cover at the least appearance of rain, which would spoil it, and make it turn out completely speckled. After it is sufficiently bleached, it is tied in bundles, and brought to the manufactory, where children are employed to pluck the only part of the straw which serves for plaiting, that is, what is comprised betwixt the ear and the first joint in the stalk. If the weather is fine, in fifteen days after the crop is pulled, it will be ready to work into plait, “ treccie," as it is called. The natives say, that the dew tends greatly to whiten it ; but if any rain falls it is ruined. The manner of separating the top joints is by a smart jerk of the hand. These are made up for sale, and the remainder thrown to the dunghill, for no animal will eat it.
“ To obtain the whiteness so much prized, the straw is smoked with sulphur previous to being worked; the plait is also smoked, and, lastly, the hat. About Sienna, the process is simply a little sulphur set on
fire in the bottom of a large chest, bunches of the straw being placed on long hazel rods across, and the lid shut down. Elsewhere, the articles are described as being placed in a small close room, in which a chafing dish of sulphur is placed and set fire to. Sometimes the operation requires to be done twice before it succeeds.
“ The straw for use is classed or stapled like our wool. Children or inferior hands, work the course thick straw, while good hands work the fine only. Whether fine or coarse, it is only the part on which the spike grows that is made use of, and it is always the same plait, con-sisting of thirteen straws, which is worked. In the fine plait, there is a very great waste of straw, as they reject all that is in the leasti too thick, and they cut off a considerable part of the straw where it comes near the flower spike. Fine plait is not accounted good, unless very much drawn together, for which end it is worked very wet. The bunches of straw are always put into a small jar filled with cold water, which stands beside the worker. · After being smoked and pressed, the plait is made up into bats by women, who do nothing else; it is put together by the edges, not overlapped. On the operation of pressing a great deal depends. There are only two good machines for that purpose in the country.
“ Such is the practice for procuring the hat-straw. What they sow for seed is in other ground : Not one-fourth of the seed is used, and the grain is allowed to come to maturity in the usual way. It is said to be a capital wheat for vermicelli, macaroni, &c. and also for making into bread.
“ It ought to be taken into view, that, for the use of the manufacture in Scotland, the straw should not exceed one-eighteenth of an inch in diameter. When coarser, it does not answer the market; and much of the very finest straw is not required, because the bonnets made from it are too expensive.”
Remarks on Dr Latta's Observations on the Artic Sea and Ice.
In a communication from the Rev. Mr SCORESBY to Professor
JAMESON * On reading Dr Latta's “ Observations on the Arctic Sea and Ice t," in the last number of the Edinburgh New Philosophical Journal, I was rather surprised at the following hasty, and, if I mistake not, unwarrantable remark. Speaking of the climate of Spitzbergen, Dr Latta refers to my Account of the Arctic Regions, saying “ Mr Scoresby, biassed by the indications of the thermometer, reasons himself into the supposition, that the climate, during summer, is more temperate than even
* Read before the Wernerian Society, 10th March 1827. | Edinburgh New Philosophical Journal, October-December 1826.
Scotland, and gives to the circle of perpetual congelation an altitude of 7791 feet,--a statement contradicted by facts.”
Now, in this bold remark, Dr Latta first ascribes to me a statement I never made, that I am aware of; then bluntly says, that it is contradicted by facts! I do mention it, indeed, as a remarkable circumstance, that, on mountains of 3000 feet elevation in Spitzbergen, the snow should sometimes be wholly dissolved at their summits, when, in so much lower a latitude, Ben-nevis should occasionally exhibit a crest of snow throughout the year (Vol. i. p. 123.) But I nowhere reason myself into the supposition that the climate is therefore warmer. I only reason that “ the upper line of congelation, where frost perpetually prevails,” is much higher on the Arctic lands than was to have been expected from its mean temperature. And, applying the known law of diminution of temperature, on ascending in the atmosphere, to the summer heat of Spitzbergen, I observe, that “ it will require an elevation of 7791 feet for reducing that temperature to the freezing point ;” and hence I reckon this to be about the altitude of perpetual freezing
What facts Dr Latta can bring forward, to shew that a thawing temperature never occurs so high, I know not; especially when, by observation of the thermometer, I found the temperature in Spitzbergen so high as 37° Fahr, at mid-right, at an elevation of about 3000 feet.
Not thinking it right to allow a bold assertion, which I believe to be unfounded, to pass before the Society as correct, nor an assertion declared to be dependent upon facts to retain such a basis, unless these facts can be substantiated, I have ventured to trouble the Society with these remarks. Besides, I acknowledge my feeling to be that which is no doubt common to authors, greatly averse to the charge of such theorising views ás to be capable of reasoning myself into conclusions contradicted by facts; an equal aversion, also, to be charged with asserting what, to the best of my knowledge, I never did. As such, I think it behoves Dr Latta, either to bring forward the facts which contradict my statements, or to have the candour to acknowledge the mistake he has fallen into.