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hollow gourds are purposely thrown into the water in great numbers, and allowed to float about. The birds being at length accustomed to approach these with impunity, their captors disguise themselves by placing similar gourds over their heads, with holes to see and breathe through, very much in the manner of a helmet. Then wading quietly along the shallow waters, with their bodies immersed above the shoulders, they have nothing to do but to approach the birds gently, and pull them under water by their legs in succession. It has been remarked that the same practice has been recorded by Ulloa of the natives of Carthagena, in the New Word, upon the lake Cienega de Tesias.
The fishing-corvorant, employed on the same lakes, has been pictured in the folio plates to Staunton, and described as “ a brown pelican or corvorant, with white throat; body whitish beneath, spotted with brown; tail rounded ; irides blue; and bill yellow.” While fishing, these birds are prevented from swallowing what they catch, by means of a ring over the lower part of the neck ; but when the work is over this ring is removed, and they are allowed to feed upon the refuse. Sometimes, however, they are said to be so well trained as to need no restraint as to feeding whatever. A few of them were observed as far south as Keangnân, in the neighbourhood of the Mei-ling pass. :A species of pelican has been seen on a group of rocks called the Nine Islands, lying about six miles north-east of Macao, but it is probably quite distinct from the variety that is used in fishing. Among the miscellaneous birds of China may be enumerated quails, often trained to fight; the common ring-dove, of which great numbers breed in the woods about Canton; and the peculiar crow of the country, which is marked with white about the neck. It has been noticed already that this bird is considered sacred,
either for some service that he is supposed to have rendered the present dynasty, or because he is the emblem of filial duty; from a notion, well or ill founded, that the young
ones assist the old when they are disabled. In Europe the same character has been attributed to the stork, but the stork is, in China, considered as emblematical of long life. Figures of this bird, as well as of the pine-tree, are represented on the visiting tickets which are left at the new year; and they imply the wish that the person so complimented may have “many happy returns of the season.” Among the other common birds of China, we must not omit a delicate species of ortolan, which appears in the neighbourhood of Canton about the time when the
last crop of rice is cut. As it feeds on the ears of grain, it is for that reason called the “rice-bird,” in the same way that the term wheatear is applied to a similar description in the south of England. Mr. Gray, in his “Zoological Miscellany,' has given the descriptive characters of twelve species of birds belonging to a large collection brought home by Mr. Reeves..
But it is time to quit this part of the subject, and to notice those reptiles of China that have come under observation ; concerning which it is remarkable that the largest kind of saurians, as the crocodile and alligator, are unknown even as far south as Canton. Great numbers of the small lizard tribes are visible during the hot months, some of them infesting trees and shrubs, while others inhabit holes in rocks or old walls. Several fresh-water tortoises have been sent home, and described in the Zoological Proceedings for 1834 ; and two new genera of batrachians, or the frog kind, are noticed by Mr. Gray. Notwithstanding its situation, under the tropic, Canton is little infested by the venomous kinds of serpents. The species most dreaded is a slender snake between two and three feet in length, and called by the Chinese “the black and white,” from being surrounded from head to tail with alternate bands of those colours. Mr. Bennett brought home an individual of this species, which had been killed after biting a Chinese on the foot, and causing his death in a few hours. The head was cut off by a countryman of the sufferer who came to his assistance, and who, having bruised it, applied it as a poultice to the bitten part. It may be questioned, as the narrator observes, whether the poison mingled with the mashed head may not have served to hasten the fatal termination.
Of fishes, a large collection of Chinese specimens has been lodged by Mr, Reeves in the British Museum. The golden carp is one of the most distinguished kinds, and bas long been known and propagated in Europe from the original specimens which were carried by the Dutch, first to Java, and thence to Holland. They ornament most of the gardens in China, being kept in artificial ponds, or large earthen and porcelain vessels, interspersed with tufts of mosses, or ferns over rock-work. It is sometimes necessary to cover these ponds with nets, to preserve the inmates from numerous king-fishers, which come early in the morning to 'prey on them. Of edible sea-fish, the best kind near Canton is a sort of rock-cod, called Shek-pân, which has exactly the meaning of that term. A flat fish, called Tsâng--yu by the Chinese, and “pomfret” by Europeans, is esteemed little inferior to the first. Soles are good and plentiful ; but the fish most valued by native epicures is the sturgeon, partly because it is scarce, and partly on account of its gelatinous nature—a quality always valued in the dishes of the country. The Chinese stew made from this fish is so palatable as to have been introduced at the tables of Europeans. Some gastronome or other has observed that every country affords at least one good dish.
Among insects, it has been elsewhere noticed that the locust commits occasionally great ravages in particular districts, and rewards are given for its destruction. Some of the most poisonous tribes, as scorpions, are not met with at Canton ; but the centipede, which the Chinese call by exactly the same name, pě-tso (hundred feet), is common. There is a monstrous spider that inhabits trees, attaining to such a size and strength as to enable it to devour small birds. A large species of cicada is common also among trees, emitting a loud and even stunning noise by the vibration of two flaps under the abdomen, supposed to be a call to the female. They generally keep up this whizzing sound most constantly during the hot sunny days. Dr. Abel enumerates the Scarabæus molossus, the Cerambyx furinosus, as well as the mole-cricket, of a large size. At a mountain lying eastward of Canton, called Lo-fowshan, there are butterflies of a gigantic size and very brilliant colours, so celebrated as to be alluded to in poetry, and a selection of the most splendid specimens sent annually to Peking. The pe-la-shoo, or wax-tree, affords nourishment to an insect which is supposed to belong to the coccus tribe, but has not been very exactly ascertained. In the • Asiatic Researches' (vol. xiv. p. 182) is described an Indian insect which generates a featherlike secretion from its abdomen ; this, dropping on the leaves, hardens there into a substance resembling wax. It is probably identical with the species observed by our first embassy on the coast of Cochin-China, which is figured in the first volume of Staunton,* and described as “of a curious structure, having pectinated appendages rising in a curve bent towards the head, not unlike the form of the tail feathers of the common fowl, but in the opposite direction. Every part of the insect was in colour of a perfect white, or at least completely covered with a white powder.” The stem of the particular shrub, resembling privet, which was covered by the insects, was entirely whitened by a similar substance.
In the department of botany our limits will not admit of noticing any but the most remarkable or important plants and trees of China. At the head of these of course stands the tea-plant. The specimens brought from the black and green tea countries differ slightly in the leaf, the latter being a thinner leaf, rather lighter in colour and longer in shape than the other. But, besides this, the great difference in the preparation contributes to mark the distinctions between the two kinds of the manufactured article ; for the Chinese themselves acknowledge that
* Page 353.