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The Natural History of North-Carolina.
OF THE BEASTS.
THE Buffelo, or wild Beef, is one of the largest wild Beasts that is yet known in these parts of America; it hath a Bunch upon it’s Back, and thick short Horns, bending forward. Pliny reporteth in the eleventh Book of his Natural History, that the Horns of one Buffelo’s Head were so large that they contain’d or held two Measures, call’d Urnæ, which is about eight Gallons. This Monster of the Woods seldom appears amongst the European Inhabitants, it’s chiefest haunts being in the Savannas near the Mountains, or Heads of the great Rivers. Their Flesh is very course, and nothing to be compared with our Beef, but their Calves are said to be excellent good Meat, as in all probability they are: And it is conjectur’d that these Buffelo’s being mix’d, and breeding with our tame Cattle, would much improve the Species for largeness and Milk; for these Monsters (as I have been inform’d) weigh from 1600 to 2400 pounds Weight. They are a very fierce Creature, and much larger than an Ox. The Indians cut their Skins into Quarters, for the ease of Transportation or Carriage, and frequently make Beds of them to lie on; they likewise spin their Hair into Garters, Girdles, Sashes, and the like, being long and curled, and frequently of a black or red Chesnut colour. Of these Skins and the Wild Bull’s the best Buff is made. Their Horns wou’d serve for several uses, such as drinking Cups, Powder-horns, Lanterns, and many other Necessaries, being transparent when wrought; Rings made of them are said to help the Cramp, and the Liver the Spleen; the other Parts have much the same Virtues with the Ox. There were two of the Calves of this Creature taken alive in the Year 1730, by some of the Planters living near Neus River, but whether they transported them to Europe, or what other uses they made of them, I know not, having occasion to leave that Country soon after.
The Elk is a monstrous, large, strong and swift Beast, in shape exactly like a Deer, but bigger than a Horse, and is reported to be fearful, and subject to the Epilepsy or Falling sickness. They have two large Horns, which exceed in weight all Creatures that are yet known in the New World. Their Neck is short and thick, but the Ears and Back very long: Their Colour is like a Harts, and sometimes all White. Their Flesh is not near so sweet as the Fallow-Deer, being much courser and stronger. These Creatures may be made Domestick, and it is said, that they are so swift, that they will run more Miles in one Day than a Horse can in two. Some take the Elk for the Red Deer of America, but I am credibly informed, that they are of two different kinds, and that they will never breed together. Their Horns generally weigh twelve or fourteen Pounds. These Beasts are plentifully to be met with in the Savannas near the Mountains, and Heads of Rivers: It is reported that some of them are seventeen Hands high. Several parts of this Animal are used with good Success in Physick, and especially the Hoofs of the Male’s hinder Feet, which have a pleasant scent when they are burnt.
The Stags are swift in Motion, and are said to be a long-liv’d Creature, they are plentifully to be met with in or near the Mountains, but are not so large as those in Europe, yet much larger than any Fallow-Deer, They are fat all Seasons of the Year, and it is said, that some Deer on the Mountains afford the Occidental Bezoar, and not produced from the Goat, as some have reported. The Flesh nourishes almost like Beef, but breeds much more melancholy Juice. The Tallow makes incomparable fine Candles, and their Horns and Skins are a good Commodity. There are many valuable Virtues ascribed to the several Parts of this Deer, and all the other sorts, and not undeservedly, which are so well known, that it would be needless to insert them here.
The Fallow-Deer are taller and longer Legg’d in Carolina, than those that are to be met with in Europe, but neither run so fast, nor are so well Haunched. Their Shingles are likewise much longer, and their Horns stand forward as the other incline backwards. Towards the Salts, they are not commonly so fat and good as those on the Hills, and near the Heads of the Rivers: They are in great plenty all over this Province. Their Nostrils and Throats are frequently found full of Bots or Maggots in the Spring, which make them very poor at that time; but as the Summer, approaches these Bots become the most beautiful Butter-flies immaginable, being large, having black, white, red, and yellow stripes in their Wings.
The Fawns are beautifully mottled with rows or stripes of white and brown, which only continue ’till they are one Year old. Deer-skins are one of the best Commodities that North Carolina affords, which the Planters export in great Quantities for England and other parts.
The Lyon and Jack-all, are supposed to be in Carolina, from an Account the Indians give us, who report that near a Lake of Water, towards the Head of Neus River, there is a Creature that haunts those parts, and frightens them from Hunting. They say that it is partly in colour like a Panther, and that the only way they have to avoid it is by climbing up Trees, which it cannot do. They likewise say, that there is a swift Creature which remains with, and attends it, much like the English Man’s Dog: This Account I had from several of the Indians; but whether or no there be any such Beasts in these parts, I cannot affirm the certainty thereof, for I never saw either them or their Skins.
The Bears are very common in this Province, though not quite so large as in more Northerly Climates, such as Greenland and Russia. Their Flesh is good and nourishing, not inferior to the best Pork in taste, and is betwixt Beef and Pork: The young Cubs are a most delicious Dish, as most of the Planters testifie, who prefer their Flesh before Beef, Pork, Veal or Mutton, and it looks as well as it eats, their Fat being as white as Snow, and the sweetest of any Creature in the World; for, if any Person drinks a Quart of it melted, it never rises in the Stomach, as other Oils and Fats are subject to do, and is preferr’d above all things for frying Fish, &c. Those that are Strangers to it may judge otherwise, as it happened to me not long after my arrival in America, who could not be prevail’d upon to eat Bear’s Flesh; but travelling in the Country with some other Company, we were invited to Dine at a Planter’s House, who entertaind us with a large Loyn of a roasted Bear. I imagin’d it to be a Loyn of Pork, and eat as heartily of it, which seem’d to me to be the most delicious Meat of that kind I ever tasted; that I could not forbear all that Day to extol the goodness of it, still supposing it to be Pork, tho’ the Company knew the contrary, but did not undeceive me. The next Day we were invited to another Planter’s House, who told us he had the finest piece of Bear that could be, just roasted and ready for the Table. The Company very readily accepted of his Invitation, but as for my part, I could not be prevail’d upon for some time to eat; the Company said, they were much surpriz’d because I prais’d it so much the Day before. For I never knew ’till then but that it had been Pork. I only mention this to shew what power Prejudice has over us.
But to return. The Bacon made thereof is extraordinary good, but must be well saved, otherwise it will rust. I have seen very good Hams (not inferior to the best Westphalia) made of these Bear’s-flesh. These Beasts feed upon all manner of wild Fruits, and are great devourers of several sort of Fish, especially Herrings, which they catch at the Brooks side in the Months of March and April. The Flesh of those Bears that feed upon them is not good that Season, and eats filthily; neither are they good when they feed upon Gum-Berries. They are great devourers of Swine, that they take in the Woods, especially when they are hungry and can get no other Food, which is the only Flesh-meat they are fond of. They sometimes get into the Indian Corn-fields, or Maze, where they generally spoil ten times more than they eat. They are so fond of the Potatoes, of this Country, that they seldom fail to destroy and root out all clean whenever they chance to come where they are.
And notwithstanding they seem to be such a clumsy Creature, yet they will very nimbly climb Trees (when pursued by Hunters and Dogs) where they generally remain till shot; and it is strange to see with what agility they will go up and down the Trees, and in coming down they always run tail foremost. They are likewise very dexterous and expert in Fishing, catching vast Quantities of several sorts of Fish, as they run up the narrow Creeks and shallow Waters to Spawn. There you shall see these Beasts sit, and take up Fish as fast as it is possible for them to dip their Paws into the Water. There is one thing very strange and remarkable of this Creature, which is, that no Man, either Christian or Indian, ever killed a She-Bear with Young; for it is supposed, that after Conception (which is in the Winter) the She-Bears hide themselves in the most secret places ’till they bring forth their Young, which according to Pliny is in thirty Days. But Elianus affirmeth not ’till three Months, which is the most likely and credible, because all large Creatures bear their Burthens longer than such as are small; when they Couple together, the Female lieth on her Back, and the Male coupleth with her, which few other Beasts are known to do. They have commonly three or five Cubs at a time, which seem to be at first a lump of white Flesh, void of Form, without Hair or Eyes, only there is some appearance of Claws. This rude Lump they fashion by degrees, by their constant licking. It is likewise reported that after conception they will Sleep so soundly for fourteen Days that it is not possible by any means to awaken them, and that during their abode in those secret Places, they never appear abroad for Food, but only suck their Paws, which is all they subsist upon during that time.
It is most certain, that they hide themselves in the most Secret Places, otherwise the Indians, who constantly hunt in the Woods, and kill thousands of He ones, would at some time or other have found them. Bear-hunting is a very great Diversion amongst the Christians and Indians, the former have a Breed of Dogs fit for that kind of Sport, about the size of Farmers Curs; these by practice become acquainted with the Scent of the Bears, which as soon as they have found they run him by the Nose ’till they come up with him, and then bark and snap at him ’till he Trees. By the Noise of the Dogs the Huntsmen repair to the place, and find the Bear in a large Tree, where they generally shoot one after another, ’till they kill him: And though they are not naturally voracious, yet are they very fierce, and will fight most desperately when wounded, for which reason there are three or four of these Huntsmen together with Guns ready, for fear the first shot should miss, or not quite kill him.
If any of these Dogs should fasten on a Bear, the Huntsman looks upon him as not good, for the best Dog in Europe is nothing in their Paws, for when ever they get a Dog in their Clutches they either tear him in pieces, or blow the Skin from the Flesh like a Bladder, and sometimes kill him; but if he recovers, he never is good for any thing afterwards. As the Paws are accounted the best Morsel of this Creature, so is the Head esteemed the worst, and is therefore cast away, for the Brain is said to be Poisonous. They are not near so plenty now as they were some Years ago in this Province, where the Planters have kill’d four or five Hundred in one Season; the reason is because they are so very easily kill’d, for the least Dog will make them Tree, where they most commonly remain ’till shot, for the Dog continues barking about the Tree ’till the Planters come to their Assistance. The Parts of this Beast are good in several Disorders. The Oil is used in many Cases, and especially by the Indians to paint their Bodies withal. The fine Furr at the bottom of their Bellies is used in making Hats, and the Skins for several Uses, such as Hammer-Cloths for Coaches, Furniture for Saddles, &c. and the black Cub’s Skins for Muffs.
The Tyger is in shape somewhat like a Lioness, but has a short Neck. His Skin is most beautifully mottled with several kinds of spots resembling the Panther, only the former are not so round, nor have such different Colours. They are large, strong and swift Beasts, but are never to be met with in the Settlements, being more to the Westward, viz. on this and the other side of the Mountains, but are very scarce and seldom to be found in this Province, by what I could learn from the Indians; and in our Journy up towards the Mountains we saw but one. They have a great many young Ones at a time, and are very fierce and bold Creatures, and will spare neither Man nor Beast to satisfie their Hunger, as I have been inform’d by the Indians and some of the Planters who have seen and kill’d them. Pliny reporteth that the young Ones are carried off in the following manner in India, viz. The Hunters lie in wait to espy when the Tygress is abroad, that they may have an opportunity to carry off the whole Litter of Whelps at once, upon very swift Horses prepared for that End. But when the Tygress returneth and findeth her young ones gone, she pursueth most swiftly those that carried them away, by the Scent. But as soon as they perceive the Tygress approaching near them, they let fall one of the Cubs, which she taketh in her Mouth, and runneth back to her Den with it, and immediately pursueth again in quest of the rest of her Whelps, thus she runneth to and from her Den, until such time as the Hunters have an Opportunity to embark and get off with part of the young Ones. The Flesh of this Beast is eaten by the Savage Indians, who say it is as sweet and good as Beef. The Tyger is much larger than a Gray-hound, with shining Eyes, crooked Nails, sharp Teeth, and Feet having many Toes; they love their young extreamly, which may be tam’d by giving them Opium, as it is reported; the Fat is good against Palsies, &c.
The Panther is of the species or kind of Cats, is near as large as the Tyger, and much of the same shape, the Skin is of a reddish or whitish Colour, finely mottled with small round black Spots, and the Hair is short and mossy. It is said, all four-footed Beasts are wonderfully delighted and enticed by the smell of the Panther, but that their frightful Countenances soon scareth them away, wherefore they hide their Heads ’till they come within reach of their Prey, which they leap upon and quickly devour. They climb Trees with the greatest agility imaginable: They are very strong limb’d, and will catch and take a piece of Meat from any Creature they strike at. Their Tails are exceeding long, and their Eyes are large and of a grayish colour, yet look very fierce and sparkling. They are very destructive to the Planters, being a swift Beast of Prey, devouring Swine, Deer, or any other Creature they can Master. No Creatures are so nice and cleanly as these in their Food, and when they have got their Prey, they fill their Bellies with the slaughter, and carefully lay up the remainder, covering it very neatly with Leaves and Boughs of Trees, which if any other Creature happens to touch, they will never eat any more of it. They pur like a Cat, and such is the wildness of their Nature, that altho’ taken young, they are never to be tamed. They will hollow in the Woods like a Man, by which means many have been deceived, supposing it to be some of their Acquaintance that hollowed, yet I never hear’d of any Body being hurt by them; and the smallest Dogs will make them take up into a Tree, where they generally remain ’till they are shot by the Huntsmen, and if it happens that they don’t kill them outright, these and the Bears are a very dangerous Enemy when they are wounded, to the Huntsmen; but more especially to the Dogs that approach too near them. Their Flesh looks as well as any Shambles-meat whatever, and abundance of People eat them as choice Food. The Indians make warm covering for themselves in Winter of the Skins, though it is not esteemed amongst the choice Furs. Their Skins dressed, make Upper-leather for Shoes, or Gloves for Men and Women. The Fat is hot, dry, and cosmatick, and helps the Vertigo, Palsie, Scabs, Ring-worms, and Varices (or swelling of the Veins.) The Gall being drank, presently kills, for it burns the Humours by its violent heat, causing Convulsions, vomiting of Green Cholor, and Death. It is reported that some Poyson their Arrows therewith, that they may kill the sooner.
The Mountain-cat, so called from it’s living in the Mountainous parts of America, seldom appeareth or approacheth near the Settlements. This is likewise a Beast of Prey, as the Panther is, and is nearest to him in bigness and Nature. They seldom do any Mischief to the Planters, because they are so remote from them, their continual haunts being in and near the Mountains, otherwise they are most destructive and fierce Creatures. They will nimbly climb Trees when pursued by Huntsmen and Dogs, where they remain till they are shot, but if only slightly wounded, will fight most desperately, tearing the Dogs in pieces that they chance to meet with, which seldom happens, by reason so many hunt in a Body together, who are always well armed, and ready for such Encounters, otherwise these Beasts would be dangerous Enemies to meet with thus wounded, in the solitary parts of the Woods. What uses are made of these Beasts are uncertain, because they seldom or never appear or are kill’d by the Planters near the Plantations, and what use the Indians make of them we know nothing of at present.
The Wild-cat is likewise another Beast of Prey, and is quite different from those in Europe, being more fierce, nimble, and large; they have a very large Head, yet their Tails do not exceed four Inches in length. They are of a fine Tabby colour, and as large as a Fox. They make an odd and frightful sort of Cry in the Woods at Night. They are dextrous in climbing of Trees, which they do with the greatest Agility imaginable, and Prey as the Panthers do, being great destroyers of young Swine. They take most of their Prey by surprize, for they get up into the Trees and kill Deer as they feed or pass by near them, by leaping directly upon them, and so fasten their Teeth into their Shoulders, and thus suck their Blood ’till they die, as a Weesel does a Rabbet with us, so that you shall see the Deer run through the Woods in this manner, ’till at length for want of Strength he falls to the Ground, and becomes a prey to his Enemy. Thus they take every thing by surprize, not being able to catch any thing by running. They destroy Hares, Birds, and every thing they meet that they are able to conquer. The Furr is made use of in Stomachers for weak and cold Stomachs, in lining of Muffs and Coats in cold Countries. Their chiefest haunts are in Swamps, Perkorsans, and amongst the Hollow-Canes. They are not near so numerous now as they were some years ago, the Planters continually meeting and killing them as they hunt in the Woods. Their Fat is externally us’d for several Pains, and Aches, for which it is good.
The Pol-cats (by some called Scunks) of America, are different from those in Europe, being much thicker, larger, and of various Colours; not all alike, but each differing from another in their particular Colours. They smell like the European Fox, but if possible, ten times stronger, and more offensive: When a Dog encounters them, they piss on their Tails and sprinkle it on him, by which means he shall smell a Month or more, so that he is not to be suffered to come into the Houses; and if it should happen to touch ones Cloths, the smell by no means can ever be discharged, except they be buried in the Ground for some time, which Method ends generally in the loss of the whole Suit.
The Indians love to eat their flesh, which has no manner of ill smell when the Bladder is out. They feed in the Woods on Rats, Mice, Birds, and sometimes Fish. They are easily made tame (and frequently come about the Planters Houses at Night) yet few covet to entertain Guests so offensive in their smell. There is another sort of Pol-cat in most respects like those in Europe, and I have been informed, that there are white ones to be met with in and near the Mountains: I know no use made of their Furs, or any part of them in Physick.
The Minx is a small Animal, much like the English Fillimart or Pol-cat, being long, slender, and every way like him. The haunts of these Beasts are chiefly in the Marshes by the Sea-side and Salt-water, where they live on Fish, Fowl, Mice, and Insects. They are very bold Thieves, and will steal Fish or Fowl from you in the Night, and will venture to take it even from under your Head when you are asleep. They are likewise found a great way up the Rivers, in whose Banks they make Holes and live, which is known by the great quantities of fresh Water Mussel-shells, that lye at the mouth of their Holes. They are great Enemies to the Tortoise and Terebens, whose Eggs they find and scratch out of the Holes in the Sand, which they quickly devour, as the Raccoons and Crows do.
These Beasts may be made tame, and are the greatest destroyers of Rats and Mice in the World, and were it not for their paying unseasonable Visits now and then to the Poultry, they would be in great esteem amongst the Planters. Their Skins are good and valuable, provided they are kill’d in the Season; I never knew any use made of this Animal in Physick, except the Fat for Pains and Aches.
The Wolf, is the Dog of the Woods, for it is reported that the Indians had no other Curs before the arrival of the Christians amongst them. These Wolves may be made domestick, but they are not so large or fierce as those in Europe, they are no Man-slayers, neither are there any Creaturs in Carolina (except they be wounded) will attack Man, Horse, or Dogs. They go in great Companies together in the Evenings and at Night (especially in the Winter-time) and will hunt down a Deer in full Cry, as well as the best Pack of Hounds, one of them will hunt down a Deer, but they are frequently so very poor that they can hardly run or pursue their Prey. When they are very hungry, and can take no Game, it is reported, they go to the Swamps and fill their Bellies full of Mud, and if afterwards they chance to get any Flesh, or stinking Fish, they will readily discharge the Mud, and eat the other. They make a most hideous noise when they are in pursuit of their Prey, and will follow the Indians in great droves through the Woods, who only kill the Deer and other Beasts for their Skins and generally leave most part of the dead Carcass behind them, on which the Wolves feed, this being what induces them to follow the Indians after that manner. Formerly there was a Reward (in this Province) for all those that kill’d them, which made the Indians so active, that they brought in such vast quantities of their Heads, that in a short time it became too burthensome to the Country, so that it is now laid quite aside, and the Indians will not kill them. The Planters formerly made Holes or Pits in the Earth to take them in, where they killed great Numbers, but their dogs being led to those Places by the Scent of the Baits that were laid for the Wolves, most of them were destroyed, so that this method is entirely neglected, and they are become as numerous as ever, being as great Breeders as our Dogs and Bitches. They are but small, many being no bigger than midling Dogs, they are very crafty, but fearful Creatures, for they seldom or never attack or kill either Foles or Calves, but are very destructive to Sheep, if they are not carefully put up in their Penfolds at Night, and especially if it prove stormy Weather, at which time they will come about the Planters Houses, and strive to devour their Sheep, but in good Weather they never dare appear so near their Dwellings, which if they had done, the Dogs would soon chase them away, so sensible and crafty are they to come when the Dogs are all under some Cover to protect them from the violence of the Weather, and they generally kill all before they begin to eat, as many have testified. It is the Opinion of the most judicious Hunters in these Parts, that if they did not die for Hunger, or some secret unknown way, which they have for destroying one another, they would be the most numerous Beasts in America, being such prodigious Breeders. Their Skins drest to Parchment make the best Drum Heads, and if Tan’d, good Shoes for Summer Countries, and being laid on Beds, are said to banish Fleas, Bugs, and all other kind of Vermine from thence. The Skin worn about the Belly is good in the Cholick, and all cold Disorders. The Flesh being boiled helps the Gout, and many other Disorders. The Fat is much of the same nature and uses with that of a Dog, being externally used in all kinds of Aches, Palsies, Luxations, and Fractures. The Dung and Blood are excellent good to expedite the Birth, and after-Birth.
The Beavers are amphibious Animals, like the Otter, living both on Land and Water, yet they never go into the Sea, their Haunts being altogether in the Freshes. They are very numerous in Carolina, there being abundance of their Dams in most parts of the Country where I have travelled. They are like an Otter, but larger, and have broad flat Tails, in shape like a Soal, and covered with a Skin like the Scales of a Fish, upon which they carry the Mud and Earth, with which they make their Dams. Their Heads are short, and the Ears are very small and round, and the Teeth so long and Sharp, that they will cut down Trees growing by the River sides, as if it were done with an Ax or Chizel. Their Fore-feet are like a Dogs, and their hinder Webbed like a Water-Fowl, and they are one of the most industrious Beasts in the World. They are very subtil, and cut down Trees in the Night (for they are scarce to be seen in the Day) with which they make their Dams. The Food which they chiefly feed on are Fish, and the Barks of several sorts of Trees and Shrubs, such as Sassafrass, Sweet-gum, Ash, Birch, and many others. If they are taken young, they become tame and domestick, but are very mischievous in spoiling Orchards, by barking the Trees, and blocking up the Planter’s Doors in the Night with the Sticks and Wood they bring thither. If they eat any thing that is Salt, it presently kills them. Their Flesh is very sweet Food, and especially their Tails, which is held as a great Dainty. They have such a Jargon amongst them when they are at Work, that one would immagine them Discoursing, or in a grand Debate about their Building, wherein it is said, they have such an orderly Government, that each knows his proper Business and Station, and that the Overseers beat the Young ones that loiter in their Business, and will make them cry, and work stoutly. It is very surprizing to behold with what Pains and Labour they make their Dams, and how artificially they build their Houses, one Appartment above another, until they lie dry. They are sometimes shot, but are taken most commonly after the following manner. The Planters break down part of their Dams, and lay Traps in those places, which the Beavers attempting to repair and mend at Night, are caught in them. Their Furr, which is of a brownish colour, is softer and finer than any Plume or Down of Feathers, and a good staple Commodity in this Country. Their Skins being dress’d, make thick Leather, fit for Shoes, and wears well, it is likewise used in Mittens for Hedgers, and several other ways. From this Beast comes the Castoreum, which is it’s Stones, the Virtues whereof are so well known that it would be needless to insert them.
The Otters are plentifully to be met with near the Heads of the Rivers, and live on the same prey in Europe, viz. on Fish, and sometimes Fowl, and are the same in most respects as those with us: Yet there have been seen some Otters to the Westward of this Province, which were of a whitish gray Colour, a little inclining to Yellow. Their Furr, if Black, is valuable to make Hats, Muffs, and several other Necessaries. Although the Flesh be cold and ill-scented, yet some eat it, the Blood mixed with Vinegar, helps swellings of the Sinews; their Skins worn about the Body, help Palsies, and other cold Disorders; the Testicles are good in the Epilepsy and Fits of the Mother, and have much the same Virtues with the Castoreum.
The Raccoon (which I take to be a Species of the Monkey) is of a dark grey Colour, and in shape and bigness it partly resembles a Fox, but has large black Eyes, with great Whiskers like a Cat, the Nose like a Pig, and the Feet are form’d like a Hand, or those of a Monkey. If these Animals are taken Young, they are easily made tame and familiar like a Dog, yet they are very Apish, and the drunkenest Creatures in the World, if they can come at Liquors that are strong and sweet; and, if possible, are more mischievous and unlucky than a Monkey; they are very subtile and crafty in taking their Prey. Those that live near the Salt-Waters feed much upon Oysters, which they are fond of. These Beasts watch the Oyster when it opens, and nimbly put in their Paw, and pluck out the Fish, yet it sometimes happens that the Oyster shuts and holds fast their Paw ’till the Tide comes in, by which means they are frequently drown’d notwithstanding they swim very well. This animal is very fond of Crabs, which are plenty in this Province, and the way they take them is very remarkable and diverting, for when he intends to make a Prey of this Fish, he goes to the Marshes on the Water side, and standing on the Land he lets his Tail hang down in the Water, which the Crab takes for a Bait, and fastens his Claws therein, as soon as the Raccoon perceives it, he of a sudden springs forwards a considerable way on the Land, and brings the Crab with him; as soon as the Crab finds himself out of his Element, he immediately lets go his Hold, and then the Raccoon encounters him, by getting him crossways in his Mouth, and so devours him. There is a sort of Land-Crabs in Carolina which are commonly called Fiddlers, these live all along the Sea-shoar, and have Holes in the Sand, into which they run when pursued by any kind of thing. These Crabs the Raccoon takes by putting his fore Foot into their Hole and pulling them out, which is very diverting with a tame one. The chief of his other Food is wild and tame Fowl, all manner of Fruits, Green Corn, and the like. This Beast and the Possum, are much of a bigness. They are very dexterous in climbing of Trees, and often make unseasonable Visits among the Poultry. The Indians and Negroes frequently eat them, and esteem them very much. The Furr makes good Hats, and Linings for Coats in cold Countries, and the Skins dress’d make fine upper-Leather for Women’s Shoes, and Gloves for Men. The parts of this Beast are much of the same Nature and Virtues with those of the Otter, and may be indifferently used after the same manner.
The Foxes are as large as those in Europe, but generally of a gray Colour, they have redish Hair about their Ears and are most commonly fat, yet I have never known any Person eat them, notwithstanding they have not that strong smell that the Foxes in Ireland, and other parts have; yet they are as mischievous in their Nature. When they are Hunted, they run up the first bending Tree they meet with for Security from the Dogs, where they generally remain ’till forced down or shot by the Huntsmen, but whether they Burrow in the Ground, I cannot inform the Reader, (for I never met any Fox-Holes in the Country) They are never to be made tame or familiar as the Raccoons and other Beasts in that Country are. The Furr of this Animal, if taken in the Season, is very good, and is used for Muffs, and many other Ornaments. Their Food is chiefly Birds, Fowls, Rabbets, and such like small Prey. The Fat or Oil helps Nodes, contracted Sinews, Pains of the Joints, Gout, Palsie, and many other Disorders.
The Possum is to be met with no where but in America, that I could ever learn, and is the wonder of all Land Animals; it is near as large as a Badger, and partly of that colour, but lighter. The Males Pisel is retrogade, and in time of Coition differs from most other Animals, turning tail to tail as Dog and Bitch when tied together. The Female no doubt breeds her young ones at her Teats, for I have frequently seen them stick fast thereto, when they have been no bigger than the end of a Childs little Finger, and seemingly to move and be alive. The She one has a false Belly or Pouch, which covers her Teats, and wherein she carries her Young; in the middle of which is a Hole where the young ones creep in and out, for the Female will lye down upon a Bank, and the young come out to sun themselves, and return in at Pleasure, yet the Female will contract this Pouch so secure and close together, that she will swim over large Ponds and Creeks of Water with her Young, without any danger of their being drowned. They have about five or six young ones at a Time, which remain sporting in and out of this false Belly, till they are able to fend for themselves. They have long Tails without Hair, like a Rat, but as thick as a Man’s Thumb; and appear as if they were Scaly, which they will readily twine about your Finger or Cane, in which Posture you may carry them where you please. They are a very stupid Creature, being altogether negligent of their own Safety, and never strive to flie from their Enemies, as it is natural for all other wild Beasts to do. In shape, they are most like Rats of any thing, and have very wide Mouths and sharp Teeth. They are hard to kill, for I have known their Sculls mashed and broken in pieces, so that they seemed to be quite dead, yet in a few Hours they will recover and creep about again; and it is a common saying in Carolina, that if a Cat has nine Lives, a Possum has nineteen. Their Feet are very white, soft, smooth, and without Hair, and have five Toes upon each Foot, but the hinder Feet more resemble a Man’s Hand, with a Thumb and four Fingers, than the fore-Feet do. Their Flesh is generally fat, white, and well tasted, several Persons eat of them, especially the Indians and Negroes, who prefer them before Pork, but their ugly Tails are enough to put one out of Conceit with them. They climb Trees as the Racoons do, and feed on Flesh, Poultry, Roots and most kinds of Fruits. Their Furr is not esteemed, and therefore made very little use of, only that the Indians spin it into Girdles and Garters. The Fat of this Beast is much of the same Nature of that of Hogs. The Testicles given with Honey stir up Lust and cause Conception.
That Animal which the People of Carolina call a Hare, is nothing but a Hedge-Coney, for I never met with or heard of any of the Species of the European Hares being in this Province. The Hedge-Conies never Burrow in the Ground, but continually frequent the Woods and Thickets, and if you start one of them and pursue it, it generally runs up as far as it can into a hollow Tree, in which case the Hunters make a Fire and smoke the Tree, which brings it down, and most commonly smothers it; though I have frequently seen them pursued and taken by Dogs, yet I never observed any taken after that manner, but their Bladders were ready to burst, which the People in that Country would perswade me was a Distemper amongst them, whereof they frequently die. They hide their Young in some secret place from the discovery of the Bucks, as the European Rabbets do, and are of the same Size and Colour. At certain Seasons of the Year, great Bots or Maggots breed betwixt the Skin and the Flesh, which turns into most beautiful Butterflies, like those in the Deer. They eat much after the same manner as those in Europe do, but I never observed any of them so fat. The Planters frequently fire the Marshes and Thickets, by which means they kill abundance of them. The Flesh of these nourishes more than that of the Hare.
Those of the European Species of Coneys or Rabbets are very scarce in this Province, and are to be met with but in few places, so that it is thought that they are not natives of this Country, but that they have been brought from Europe, to these parts. They Burrow in the Ground (but in two places that I know of) like those with us. These as well as the former breed Maggots in their Testicles and other parts of the Body, which become most beautiful Butter-flies; they eat after the same manner as those with us, and their Furr is for the same uses, and the parts of this Animal have the same virtues in Physick with the former.
The Squirrels whereof there are four sorts in this Province, viz. The Fox-Squirrel, the Gray-Squirrel, the Flying-Squirrel, and the Ground-Squirrel.
The Fox-Squirrel, so call’d, from its being the largest, and smelling like a Fox. It is most commonly larger than a Rabbet and of a gray colour, yet I have seen several Pyed ones, and some white, red and Black. Their chiefest haunts are in Piney Lands where the Almond-pine grows. They feed on pine Nuts and all other sorts of Nuts, and Fruits, of which they lay up a sufficient store in hollow Trees for the Winter, during which Season they never appear abroad. They may be made tame, and are very plenty, and good Meat in this Province, but very distructive and pernicious in Corn Fields. The flesh is sweet and good like that of Goats or Rabbets.
The small Gray-Squirrel is much of the same nature and bigness with those in England, there being only some small difference in the colour. They feed like the former on Corn and Nuts, &c. and like the Bear, are never found with Young, neither are they to be met with in Winter, but lie in the hollow Trees during that Season: Their Flesh eats rather better than the former. The Fat of these Squirrels is Emollient, and good against Pains in the Ears, and the Teeth, are said to be used by Magicians in foretelling things to come.
The Flying-Squirrel is of a light dun Colour, or Gray, like the former, but much smaller than any of the other two. It has no Wings (like a Bird or Bat) only a fine thin Skin covered with Hair, as the rest of the Parts are. This is from the Fore-feet to the Hinder-feet, which they puff full of Wind at pleasure; and this buoys them up, that they will fly with incredible swiftness, and at greater Distances than any other kinds of Squirrels do, by their jumping or springing. They lay in a sufficient Store of Provisions for the Winter, which are generally Nuts, Corn, and several sorts of Fruits. They are a tender Creature, lie very warm in their Nests (which are made of fine Down) not appearing all the Winter, being unable to bear the Cold and severity of the Weather, and generally half a dozen or more lie together in one Nest, which is always in a hollow Tree, and have their Stores of Provisions near them, whereon they feed during the cold Weather. They are easily made tame, but Enemies to Corn-fields (as all the other Squirrels are) and only eat the germinating Eye or Bud of the Grain, which is very sweet. The Flesh of this Squirrel is as good as any of the former.
The Ground Squirrel, so called, because they seldom delight in running up Trees, or leaping from Branch to Branch, as the other Squirrels do. They are the smallest of all Squirrels, being not much bigger than a large Mouse, and their Tails are not so long or bushy as the former, but more flattish. They are of a reddish colour, and finely striped down each side with black Rows like the young Fawns, which make them very beautiful; they may be kept tame in a little Box with Cotton in it, because these as well as the Flying-Squirrels never stir or appear abroad in the Winter, being a very tender Animal, and not able to bear the Cold. These have much the same Virtues and Uses with the other sorts of Squirrels.
The Weesel is likewise to be met with here, but not so common as in some parts of Europe; I see no manner of difference between them in shape, colour, or bigness. It is very strange what some Writers have said of the Generation and Conception of this Animal, who confidently assure us, that they Ingender at the Ear, and bring forth their Young at the Mouth. Pliny reporteth, that when they encounter and fight with Rats, they use Rue as a preservative against their Bite. The Parts of this Animal are good in Fevers, Gouts, and Pains of the Joints, Head-aches, Falling-sickness, Epilepsies, and many other Disorders.
There are four sorts of Rats in this Province, viz. the Musk, the Marsh, the Water, and the House-Rat.
The Musk-Rat is partly of the colour of a Rabbet, and is in all things shaped like our Water-Rat, only something larger, and has Hair or Down upon it’s Tail, longer than the former. It frequents the Marshes near the Fresh-Water Streams (as the Beavers do) and no where else, and builds in the Marshes, having three lodging Rooms, one higher than the other, very neat and finely daubed within, where it lies dry and secure from the violence of the Weather. It has a Cod of Musk that is very valuable, so is it’s fine Furr. It is the Opinion of many in these parts, that this Animal lives mostly on Fish.
The Marsh-Rat, so called from its frequenting the Marshes; it differs from the former, being less and of a darker colour, but is more Hairy and larger than the common House-Rat. It is a very destructive and mischievous Animal, especially to Corn, and all manner of Fruits; of what use it may be in Physick, is uncertain.
The Water-Rat is found here the same as in England, and other parts of Europe, the Water-Snakes frequently devour these Rats, for I have killed several of these Snakes and found these Rats in their Bellies; they feed upon little small Fish and Water-Insects that they meet with in Rivers and Ponds of fresh Waters.
The House-Rats are the same here as in Europe, and in great plenty all over this Province, and as mischievous in these parts, as in any part of the World, destroying Corn, Fruit, and many other things. The Tail of this Animal is Poysonous, and frequently kills Cats that eat it: The Urin falling upon the bare Skin, causeth the Flesh to rot even to the Bones, if there be not good care taken to prevent it, by a speedy Cure, yet the Fat is of excellent use against the Palsie.
The Moles in this Province are of the same sort as those to be met with in England and other Places, but are not plenty here, being destroyed by Snakes, and several other kinds of Vermine, which this Country produces in great abundance. Many are the Virtues ascribed to this little Animal, such as curing the King’s-Evil, Gout, Leprosie, and Fistulas, the Ashes being outwardly applied, and inwardly drank in Wine for several days. The fresh Blood put on bald places causeth the Hair to grow, and the Liver being applied, is said to waste away Wens, and the Powder of the Heart to cure Ruptures. They are most effectual in May.
The Mice, whereof there are four sorts, viz. The House-mice, the Shrew-mice, the Dor-mice, and the Bat, or Rear-mouse.
The House-mice are the same here as those with us, and these and all other kinds of Mice are scarce here (except the Rear-mouse) which may reasonably be supposed from the great quantity of Vermine that continually destroy them, such as Hawks, Owls, Rattle-Snakes, Black-Snakes, and the like. It is a short-liv’d letcherous Creature, and breeds often in the Year. The Flesh being applied, helps the biting of Serpents; the Fat is good against the Scirrhus and Baldness. The whole Mouse being calcined, helps Tetters, Ringworms, Piles, Epilepsies, and many other Disorders; the Gall with Vinegar, dropt into the Ears, bring out living Creatures got in; the Urine corrodeth after the same manner as the Rat.
The Shrew-mouse, or Poysonous-mouse, so called, from poysoning Cats after they have eat of them; it is very like the former, but is a Field-mouse, for it never resorts or comes near the dwelling Houses. It is said, if it go over the Back of any Beast he shall become lame in the Chine, and if it bite, he swelleth to the Heart and dieth. This Animal being burnt to Ashes, and applied with Goose-grease, helps all Swellings in the Fundament, Felons and Tumors behind the Ears. Their biting is cured by the application of their own Flesh bruised, as also, oxymel Cupping Glasses, Scarification, Wormwood, Vinegar, Garlick, Cummin Seed, Vervain, &c.
The Dor-mouse is of the same kind here as in Europe; these Animals are but scarce in this Province, and it is said, they will sleep a Month or two in Winter, and can hardly be revived ’till just the time of their going abroad. The Body being roasted with Oil and Salt, and eaten, helps wonderfully Ulcers in the Lungs; the Fat dropt into the Ear, helps Deafness. The Body burnt to Ashes, mixt with Honey, and eaten every Morning, clears the Eye-sight; and with Oil, helps burnings.
The Bat, or Rear-mouse, whereof there are two sorts, viz. one a large sort with long Ears, and particularly long stragling Hairs. The other is of the same kind here as with us in Europe, only something larger, and is plentiful all over this Province, yet it never appears all the Winter. The Bat alone, of all Creatures that fly, brings forth its young alive, and suckleth them with Paps, and giveth Milk; it likewise will convey or carry them from one place to another as it flies. I have put this Animal amongst the Beasts, tho’ it partakes of both Natures, of the Bird and Mouse kinds. The Flesh is abominable Food, yet some eat it, and it is frequently Roasted, and given to Children that eat Dirt (which is very common amongst the Christians and Negroes in this Province) and is held as an infallible Medicine for that purpose. The Blood causes the Hair to fall off, the Gall helps the biting of the Shrew-mouse, and dimness of Sight.
Having thus given an Account of the Terrestrial, or Land-Animals, which are to be met with in Carolina, and are already known to us; I shall in the next place proceed to describe the Reptiles and Insects. Not that I pretend to give an ample Account of all the different Species, (which would require a larger Volume than is here designed) they being very numerous; my Purpose is to discribe such only as I can perfectly remember, and whose Qualities are best known; there being too great a diversity of various kinds, many whereof are not yet thoroughly discovered, and others have slipt my Memory; besides what the Mountainous parts of this Land may hereafter lay open to our View; for whoever consider what a small part of this large Province is inhabited at present, can’t imagine but there will still be greater Discoveries made, by Time and Industry, when the back parts of this Country, and near the Mountains are once settled; for the farther we Travel Westward, we meet greater Differences in the Soil, Air, Weather, growth of Vegetables, and several Animals, which we at present are intire Strangers to; only what little Account we have from the Indians, so that no doubt every Age will make new Discoveries.
The Alligators are Amphibious Creatures, living both upon Land and Water, and by the best Description I can learn concerning the Crocodile, I see little or no difference between them, only in the Name; this being the receiv’d Opinion of the Naturalists, that it is no other than a Crocodile not arriv’d to it’s full growth. They are a large Creature with four Feet, which are like a Bears, except that they are covered with Scales, instead of Hair, the Claws are sharp and the Tail long, with Fins upon it. They have a large broad Head and wide Mouth, the Snout is like a Swines, and the Teeth, which are exceeding sharp, meet within each other like the Edges of two Saws. The Tails of these Animals are near as long as the whole Body, and the same is very rough and armed with a hard Skin. Their haunts are chiefly between the Freshes and Salt Waters. They make their Dwellings in the Banks on the River-sides, a great way under Ground, the entrance whereof is generally two or three Foot under Water, which rises gradually as they burrow under Ground, ’till it rises considerably above the surface of the Water, where they lie dry all the Winter, at which Season they never appear abroad, but as it is supposed, sleep all that time without any manner of Provision, which some report to be the space of threescore Days. In Spring they come forth from their Holes or Caves, and continually swim up and down the Rivers and Creeks in the Day time, but at Night they are to be met with in the Woods and Marshy low Grounds. They always breed near the fresh Water streams, or clear Fountains, yet seek their Prey in brackish and Salt-waters, not near the open Shoar, but in the Rivers and Creeks. They are never known to devour Men in Carolina, but on the contrary, always strive to avoid them, as much as possibly they can. Yet they frequently kill Swine and Dogs, the former as they come to feed in the Marshes and at the sides of the Rivers and Creeks, and the latter as they are swiming over them.
The Alligator lays Eggs as Ducks do, only they are longer shap’d, and have a larger and thicker Shell than they have; but how long they are in Hatching their Eggs I never could be satisfied, or rightly informed, for the Indians with whom I conversed, say, it is most part of the Summer, and only by the heat of the Sun; but some of the Christians assured me, this was performed in sixty Days, or thereabouts: Their young ones are shaped exactly like a Lizard, Asker, or Effit, and they have short flat and large Tongues. I saw one of the young ones taken and brought to a Planters House who had a Pond of Water before his Door (out of which he dug Clay for Building) wherein he put the young Alligator, it remained there for half a Year, feeding on Guts of Fowl and other Flesh-meat and Frogs that happend to come into the Pond. It grew so very domestick, that it would frequently come into the Dwelling House, and return again to the Pond: But at length it stole away to the Creek before the Planters Dwelling House, as was supposed, for it never could be seen or heard of afterwards. But to return to their Breeding their young ones. The old ones throw up Banks of Mold in the wet Swamps, in form of a Sugar-Loaf, near the sides of the fresh Water-Rivers and Creeks, whereon they lay twenty or thirty Eggs, if not more, in the Season, where they remain ’till such time as they are Hatched, and then they tumble into the Waters, and fend for themselves in the like manner as the young Frogs do: I am perswaded they are one of the largest Creatures in the World to be produced out of so small a Beginning as an Egg not so large as a Goose’s, for they sometimes exceed eighteen Foot in length, they have Sixty Teeth, Sixty turning Joints, and are said to live no longer than Sixty Years. They are very crafty and subtile in taking their Prey in Waters, whereon they float as if dead, or like a log of Wood, ’till they come within reach of their Prey, which they will most nimbly seize by leaping upon them, and then dive under Water with it, which they quickly devour. They are likewise very destructive and mischievous to Wairs made for catching Fish, into which they come to prey on the Fish caught in them, from whence they cannot readily discharge themselves, so break the Wairs in pieces, being a Creature very large, and of great Strength. It is almost impossible to kill them with a Gun, except you chance to hit them in or about the Eyes, or under the Belly, that part being softer than any part of the Body; the rest of the Skin being so hard, that it will resist a Bullet like Armour. They are very easily avoided upon Land, being a very slow Creature, by reason of the shortness of their Legs, and they cannot readily turn themselves, for their Bodies are so stiff and hard, that they are obliged to go streight forward, so that they may be avoided by the least turning out of their way, but they are very nimble and active in leaping either upon Land or Water. Some of these Creatures afford a great deal of Musk, and when their Tails are cut off, they look very fair and white, seemingly like the best of Vail, and some People eat thereof, and say it is most delicious Meat, when they are not Musky. Their Teeth are as white as Ivory, whereof I have seen Chargers for Guns of several sizes, Snuff-Boxes, and many other Toys made. The upper Jaw of this Monster is movable, and not the under, and it is doubtful whether they have any Passage for their Excrements, except the Mouth. After the Tail is cut off from the Body of this Creature, it will freely move for four or five Days, as if it had been alive, and still joined with the other parts. I saw two of them killed during my stay in that Country, in the Bellies whereof (after they were opened) were found several sorts of Snakes, knots of Lightwood, and particularly one of them with a large solid Stone, that weighed about four Pound weight.Tails are cut off, they look very fair and white, seemingly-like the best of Vail, and some People eat thereof, nud say it is most delicious l\Ieat, when they are not l\Iusky
These Monsters roar and make a most hideous Noise against bad Weather, and before they come out of their Dens in the Spring. I was very much frighted by one of them in a Creek near Bath-Town, where these Animals are very plenty, which happened after this Manner: As I was walking near the Creek side one Evening, not long after my arrival in those parts, on a sudden this Monster began to roar after such a dreadful manner, that the very Earth seemed to tremble where I stood. I am not able to express the consternation I was in; for I am satisfied it gave me the greatest dread and surprize I was ever in, never having heard so terrifying a Noise before; it continued thus roaring for eight or ten times, like a Bittern, but if possible, a hundred times louder, which at first I imagined to be some diabolical Spirit breaking through the Bowels of the Earth, for in the fright I was in, I could think or imagine nothing else. I made all the haste I could to a Planters House, where I had lain the Night before, who soon undeceived me, and told me what it was, and that in a few Days I should see the Creature that made that hellish Noise in the Creek before his Door, which happened in a Day or two after. Their Flesh if not Musky, is accounted good Meat, and helps those that are afflicted with the Gout and Rhumatick Pains. The Blood clears the Eyes, and the Fat is prevalent against all manner of Pains, Aches, Ulcers, and Cancers, by Unction. The Gall is of excellent use in taking away the Cataract and Web, growing in the Eyes; the Teeth of the right Jaw bound about the Arm, are said to provoke Venery. The Skin calcined, and mixed with Lees of Oil, is said to stupefie the Parts so much, that they cannot feel, though cut. I have ranked the Alligator and the Tortoise among the Insects, because they lay Eggs.
The Tortoise, vulgarly called the Turtle, whereof there are three sorts. The first is the Green Tortoise, which is not common, but is sometime found on these Coasts; it lives both on Land and Water, and has a large strong Shell on it’s Back, which defends it from it’s Enemies. The Lean of this Tortoise looks and tastes like Veal, without any fishy savour, and the Fat is as green as Grass, yet very sweet; some are so large, that they weigh four hundred Weight.
The second is the Hawks-Bill, which is common here, the Flesh of these two sorts are incomparably good Food, being inferior to none, and is useful in several Disorders, such as the Gout, Hecticks, Epilepsy, sore Eyes, and is said to be an Antidote against Poyson.
The third is called the Logger-Head, which scarce any one covets to eat, except it be the Negroes and Indians, yet the Eggs of this and all the other sorts (which are covered with a Skin and not a Shell) are extraordinary good Food and nourish very much, yet none of these sorts of Creatures Eggs will admit in boiling the White to be harder than a Jelly, notwithstanding the Yolk with boiling becomes as hard as any other Egg. They make Holes in the dry Sandy-Land, and on the River sides, where they lay above an hundred Eggs in the Season as large as Pullet’s, afterwards they cover them carefully with Mould, which they beat hard and smooth with their Breasts, where they remain till they are Hatched, and they lay Eggs two or three times a Year, which causeth a prodigious Increase. The common way of taking these Turtles is, to turn them on their Backs, in which Posture they cannot dive under the Water, so that those that Fish for them tye a Rope about them, and hawl them into their Boats, or tow them to Land, and it is reported, that they will shed Tears when they are taken; and though they have large Lungs within their Scales, yet according to Pliny, they are without Blood. They are commonly found floating upon the Water, and sometimes fast asleep, at which time they will snort very loud. They have neither Tongue nor Teeth, but a very sharp Bill, which serves them instead of Teeth; they feed on Cockles, Muscles, and other Sea-shel Fish, for their Bills are so hard and strong that they will readily break those Fishes and eat them.
The Terebins, whereof there are divers sorts, which I shall comprehend under the distinction of Land and Water Terebins.
The Land Terebins are of several Sizes, but generally round mouthed, and not Hawks-bill; as some of the other sorts are, they are exactly in shape like the Turtles, and move very slowly, and if any thing touches them, they readily draw their Head and Feet within their Shells; (being speckled with reddish spots, which are hard and strong) that scarce any thing can hurt them. The Indians eat them, and most of them are good Food, except the very large ones, and those that are Musky. These, as well as the Tortoises, make Holes in the Sand-Banks above High-water-mark, where they lay vast quantities of Eggs in the Season, which are hatched by the heat of the Sun, and the young Ones, as soon as they are out of the Shell, crawl back to the Water, where they seek their Living. They are mortal Enemys to the Rattle-Snakes, killing them wherever they meet, which they do by catching the Snake a little below the Neck, and so draw his Head into their Shell, which makes the Snake beat his Tail, and twist about with all the strength and violence imaginable to get away, but the Terebin soon dispatches him, by pressing him to Death between his Shells, and there leaves him. In Europe they are called the Land-tortois, and are plenty up and down the Woods of Carolina; they feed on Snails, Tadpools, or young Frogs, Grass, Mushrooms, and Dew and slime of the Earth and Ponds. Their Eggs are very nourishing, and exceeding good Food. They never appear in Winter, but lie all that Season in Holes in the Earth, without any manner of apparent Provision.
The Water-Terebins have a Shell on their Backs and another underneath, like the former; they are but small, containing about as much Meat as a Pullet, and are extraordinary good Food in May and June, at which time they make Holes in the Earth, where they lay vast quantities of Eggs, which are hatched by the heat of the Sun and Sands, as the former are. They come out about the bigness of a small Chesnut, and seek their own living: It is incredible what quantities of Eggs, these as well as the others will lay in the Season, but they have so many Enemies that find them out (especially Hogs, Racoons, and Crows, &c.) that the hundredth part never come to perfection. For during the time they are laying, you will see the Hogs and Racoons hunting all along the Water sides till they find their Eggs, which they root out of the Earth, and so devour them; this is the reason they are not so plenty in this Province as formerly they were, though they are still numerous enough. I have frequently eat of them, which are as delicious a Morsel as ever I tasted, if well dress’d. Their Virtues and Uses are much the same with the Tortoise.
The Frogs, whereof there are several sorts, but none so remarkable as the Bull-Frogs, so called, from their bellowing like a Bull, which makes Strangers wonder (when by the side of a Marsh) what’s the matter, for they hear the Frogs bellow, and can see no Cattle: They are the largest that are known in America, being generally as big as a Rabbet, I have known no Use made of them in Physick.
The Green Frog, so called from it’s Colour, it is one of the smallest sort I ever met with; these climb up Trees, and sing or make a noise much like the Grass-hopper, but much louder. The French eat the hinder Quarters of them.
The common Land-Frog is like a Toad, only it leaps and is not poysonous. These Frogs are great devourers of Ants, and the Snakes devour them. These Animals baked and beat to Powder, are taken with Orrice-Root, to cure the Tympany, and many other Disorders.
There are several other coloured small Frogs in these parts; and what is worthy of Observation is, that they in general have such variety of Notes from the Spring to the Fall, that it is very strange to hear them, representing as it were all the Crys, Calls, and Notes of Beasts and Birds in these Parts.
The Scorpion-Lizard, but why so called I know not, for it is not like a Scorpion in any respect: It is of the Lizard kind, but much bigger than any I ever saw in Europe. Its Back if of a dark Copper-colour, and the Belly of an Orange. It is very nimble in running up Trees, or upon Land, and is accounted very Poysonous. This Animal hath the most Sets of Teeth in the Mouth and Throat of any I have seen, but what they prey or feed upon, I am an intire stranger to, and likewise their Use in Physick.
The Green-Lizards, in this Province are as large as those to be met with in Europe, and are very harmless and beautiful, they frequently resort to the Walls of the dwelling Houses (especially in the Summer season, for in Winter they are not to be seen) and stand gazing on the Inhabitants, without any dread or fear, being very tame: They are of a most beautiful Green colour and have a little Bladder under their Throat, which they fill with Wind, and evacuate at pleasure.
There are several other sorts of Lizards of various and changable Colours, but none so beautiful as the Green ones. These Lizards are mortal Enemies to the Spiders and Toads, yet their Flesh eaten is hurtful, causing Inflammations, Tumours, and Blindness; the Head being outwardly applied with Salt, draws out Darts, Thorns, and things sticking in the Flesh, it likewise wasteth Wens, and other hard Swellings. The Gall causeth the Hair to fall off, and their Eggs kill speedily, except a sudden Remedy be exhibited made of Falcon s Dung and Wine. If they bite, they leave their Teeth behind them, which causeth continual Pain, until they are taken out. The Gray-Lizards are very common, and the Snakes feed upon them; for I have taken several of them out of the Bellies of the Snakes.
In the Month of` June, 1730, as I was travelling in the Woods together with other Company, we found an Insect sunning itself at the Root of a large Pine Tree, about the thickness of a Man’s Finger, and three Inches long, it was beautifully striped with Circles of Black and White. The Mouth was partly like the Mouth of a Frog, but not so large, it had four short Feet, but no Tail; it was very soft, but the Skin exceeding tough, and it moved very slowly. Not one of the Company could give me an Account what it was, neither could I ever learn from any I conversed with, or shewed it to, having preserved it a considerable time in Spirits; but I take it to be a Species of the Lizards, and have therefore ranked it amongst them, not knowing by what other Name to distinguish it.
Having thus given an Account of the Frogs and Lizards, I shall in the next place proceed to give an Account of the SNAKES that this Country produces, beginning with the most poysonous, and concluding with those that have none. And first,
The Rattle-Snake, so called from the Rattles at the End of their Tails, which is a connexion of Joints (and seem as if decayed) with a thin covering of an excrementitious Matter, between the substance of a Nail and a Horn; Nature undoubtedly designing these on purpose to give Warning of such an approaching Danger, as the venemous Bite of these Snakes are. Some of them grow very large, as six or seven foot in length, and about the thickness of the small of a Man’s Legg. They give Notice to such as approach their Danger, by rattling their Tails, which may be heard at a great Distance; they are sharp sighted, and quickly discover any thing approaching them a great way off. Their Skins are all over full of thin tender Scales, with a Ridge through the middle of them, of an Orange-tawny, and blackish colour, beautifully mottled on their Backs, and their Bellys an Ash colour, inclining to Lead. The Male is easily distinguished from the Female, by a Spot on his Head of a black Velvet colour, and his Head is smaller shaped and longer. Their Bite is very venemous if not speedily remedied, and especially if it happens in a Vein, Nerve, Tendon, or Sinew, where it is difficult to be cured. The Wound grows black, or of a livid colour, causing a swelling in the Parts; dimness of the Eyes, paleness of the Face, Swooning, and Death, if a Cure be not applied in time. They are a majestick sort of Creature, and will seldom or never bite (except they are provoked) which they cannot do until they gather themselves into a Quoil or Circle, and then will spring at a good distance to bite whatever provokes or injures them, otherwise they are most peaceable Creatures, and never attack or molest any one. The Indians pretend to charm them, so that they can take them up in their Hands, without any danger of being bit; but how far they may be expert in this kind of Practice, is still a Secret among them, but this I am certain of, that they are famous in curing the Bite of these and most other sorts of venemous Creatures in these parts. They have of late communicated the Method how to cure the Bite of the Rattle-Snake to the Christians, which almost every Planter is very well acquainted with. This Cure is perfected by chewing in the Mouth the Root of an Herb that beareth Tuffts or Buttons at the top like Scabions, but not of that Colour; this Root is as hot in the Mouth as Ginger, and about the same thickness, it is called the Rattle-Snake-Root, from its curing the venemous Bite of that Snake; there are three sorts of it to be found almost every where, this (as I said before) they chew in their Mouths, swallow some part of the Juice, and apply the rest to the Wound, which perfectly cures those that are bit in a few moments. It is surprizing to observe how these Snakes will allure and charm Squirrels, Hedge-Conneys, Partridges, and many other small Beasts and Birds to them, which they quickly devour. The Sympathy is so strong between these, that you shall see the Squirrel or Partridge (after they have espied this Snake) leap or fly from Bough to Bough, until at last they run or leap directly into it’s Mouth, not having power to avoid their Enemy, who never stirs out of the Posture or Quoil until he obtains his Prey. It is reported, they have a Rattle for every Year they are old, which does not begin to grow until they are three Years old, which I am apt to believe, for the young ones have none, and I have seen and killed several of these Snakes, with thirteen, and fifteen, and one with thirty Rattles. They have several small Teeth, of which I cannot see they make any Use, for they swallow every thing whole, but the Teeth which poyson, are only four, two on each side of their upper Jaws; these are bent like a Sickle and hang loose, as if by a Joint. Towards the setting on of these, there is in each Tooth a little Hole wherein you may just get in the point of a small Needle; here it is that the Poyson comes out (which is as green as Grass) and follows the Wound made by the point of the Teeth. Their Bite is not always of the same force, but more or less venemous according to the Season of the Year, for the hotter the Weather, the more poysonous they are, especially in June, July, and August. In Winter they never appear, but lie hid in some secret Places in the Earth, as all the other Snakes do, not being able to endure the cold Weather; for you shall see several sorts of them lying dead, at the approach of the Winter, not being able to reach or crawl into their Holes. Neither can we suppose that they can renew their Poison as soon, or as often as they please, for we have known Instances to the contrary of two that were bit in the Leg by one Rattle-Snake, as they were travelling in the Woods. The first was very painful some Days, not having an opportunity to get the Rattle-Snake Root, in some Hours after he was bit. The other received no more harm by that Bite than if he had been bit by a Mouse, or any other Creature not venemous; so that we may reasonably conjecture from this Observation, that their Poyson is not always of the same efficacy. I enquired of the first Person, what he felt when the Snake first bit him; he said, it seemed as if a flash of Fire had run through his Body. The Indians frequently pull out their Teeth, so that they never afterwards can do any Mischief by biting; this may be easily done, by tying a bit of red Wollen Cloth to the upper end of a long hollow Cane, and so provoking the Rattle-Snake to bite, and suddenly pulling it away from him, by which means the Teeth stick fast in the Cloath, which are plainly to be seen by those present. They have two Nostrils on each side of their Nose, which is not common in many of the other sorts of Snakes. They are so venemous that they frequently bite and poyson themselves: For, oftentimes when we have found out where they are (which is easily known by their continual Rattling with their Tails, which they shake and shiver with wonderful nimbleness when they are any way disturbed) we cut down long Poles or Reeds and make the tops thereof sharp, wherewith we tickle their sides, and provoke them, that at length they become so enraged, they bite themselves, and dye in a short time.
I hope it will not be unpleasing to the Reader to insert the following Account in relation to a Rattle-Snake and a Dog, as it happened during my residence there, viz. A Planter having taken a Rattle-snake in a Noose, put it into a Barrel, and brought it to Edentown, and told the Inhabitants, that if they would make him drink, he would shew them some Diversion; that he had a living Rattle-snake, and a Dog that would fight it, who had killed several in his time; the proposal was readily consented to by all that were present. The Planter immediately turned out the Snake (which was very large) whilst another held the Dog, as we generally do our Bull-Dogs. A large Ring was instantly made and every one cry’d out for fair Play, viz. That the Snake should have time to gather itself into a Quoil, or posture of Defence, which it very quickly did, and immediately began to Rattle it’s Tail: Every thing being ready, the Dog was let loose, and attacked the Snake; his usual way of killing them, was, to shake them at full length out of their Quoil, in which Posture they can neither leap nor bite; but this Snake being so large, the Dog had not strength enough to do it. In the first encounter he only bit it, which the Snake as readily returned, biting the Dog by the Ear, which made him cry and quit his hold, and seemed to be stun’d, or like one in a Megrim. But the Company encouraged the Dog, and set him on again: In the second encounter it bit the Dog by the Lip, and immediately after bit itself, the Dog in a little time began to cry and reel about as if drunk or in a Megrim, grew regardless of his Master’s calling him, and in half an Hour dyed, and the Snake in about a Quarter. I had not related this, had I not been an Eye-witness to the whole proceeding. The Poyson both of Viper and Mad-dog (I conceive) kill, by thickning of the Blood after the manner that Runnet congeals Milk when they make Cheese.
These Snakes cast their Skins every Year, and commonly remain near the Place where the old Skin lies, these cast Skins are frequently pulverised, and given with good success in Fevers, so is the Gall mixed with Clay, made up in Pills, and given in pestilential Fevers and the Small Pox, for which it is accounted a noble Remedy, and a great Arcanum, which only some few pretend to know, and to have had the first Knowledge and Experience of for many Years; so are the Rattles good to expediate the Birth, and no doubt but it has all those excellent Virtues that the Viper is indued with.
The Ground Rattle-snake, but why so improperly called, I know no Reason for, because it has no Rattles, and only resembles the Rattle-snake a little in colour, but is darker, and not so large, seldom exceeding a Foot or sixteen Inches in length, and is reckoned one of the most poysonous and worst of Snakes, and is said to be the latest Snake we have that returns to it’s Hole in the fall of the Leaf. It’s Uses and Virtues are unknown to any in these Parts, except the Indians.
The Horn-snakes, so called, from a Horn growing in their Tail like a Cock’s Spur, with which they strike and kill whatever they wound with it, except a speedy Remedy be applied. They are like the Rattle-snake in colour, but a little lighter. They hiss exactly like a Goose when any thing approaches them. This Horn in their Tail is all the Weapon they have with which they strike and destroy their Enemy, for they never bite as the Rattle-snake and other Snakes do. They give warning to such as approach their Danger by Hissing. They are a very venemous Snake, hardly admitting of a cure from the Indians; yet the most effectual Method to perfect this Cure is by the Rattle-snake Root, cupping Glasses and Scarification, or cutting off the Flesh to the Bone, and lastly by Amputation of the Parts. These Snakes are near as long as the Rattle-snake, but are not plenty in this Province, and I have been credibly informed by several of the Planters, that they have seen them strike their Horns into Trees, and particularly into the Pine and Locust, which in a few Hours decayed and died, though before that it was in it's full Bloom. But be that as it will, I am certain of this, that it is a dangerous Snake, and it's Wounds very difficult and tedious to be cured.
The Water-snakes, whereof there are four sorts. The first is of the Horn-snake Colour, but not so large, and is as poysonous as any of the other sorts. The second is a long Snake, and differs from the other in colour, being more dark. These Snakes will frequently swim over large Rivers, and often hang upon the Boughs of Birch, and several other Trees by the Water side, and sometimes drop into the Cannoes as they are passing by, they are also very poysonous. The third is of an English Adder colour, but always frequents the Salts, and lies generally under the drift Sea-weed, where they are in abundance, and are accounted very mischievous when they bite. The fourth is of a sooty black Colour, and frequents Ponds and Ditches, and is as Poysonous as any of the former. When these Snakes bite (if a Remedy be not speedily applied) there ensueth great Pain, Inflammation, blackness in the Wound, the Vertigo, and Death within three Days; for the Poyson is so malignant, that it forthwith disperses though the whole Body, which when it comes to the Heart, the Creature immediately falls down dead. These and all the other Snakes lay Eggs, except the Viper. The Cure for the bite of these, is much the same with that of the Horn-snake, and their Virtues and Uses the same with the Viper.
The Swamp-snakes, whereof there are three sorts, and are very like the Water-snakes, and may properly be ranked amongst them. The first is of a dirt Brown colour on his Back, and the Belly is of a Carnation or Pink colour, and is large, but not venemous. The second is large, and the back is of the colour of the former, but the Belly is of a tawny and light Copper colour, beautifully mottled; these always abide in Swamps and Marshes, and are poysonous. The third is mottled, with a dark brown Colour on the Back, and the Belly of a livid and Orange colour. They are very poysonous, and remain likewise in Swamps and Ponds, and have prodigious wide Mouths, they are commonly as thick as the Calf of a Man's Leg, though they are not very long, they feed on Water-rats, Mice, and several sorts of Insects. The cure of these is much the same with the former, and may indifferently be used after the same manner.
The Red-back Snakes (so called from their Red-backs) are long slender Snakes, they are rare to be met with, and are very poysonous ; it is reported that the Indians themselves cannot cure the venemous bite of them: I never knew any one bit by them, and I saw but one during my abode in those Parts.
The Vipers whereof there are two sorts. The first is of a grayish colour like the Italian Viper, the other black and short. Both these sorts are venemous, and spread their Heads flat when they are provoked. They lie hid in the Ground all the Winter Season, and are generally about a Foot and a half, or two Feet in Length. Their Heads are very broad compared with the Body, and the Neck much narrower than the Head. Their Tails are small sharp, and curled at the end. The Teeth upon the upper Chop are very long and crooked like a Sickle, and upon either side it hath four; those upon the lower Chop, are so small that they can scarce be observed by the naked Eye, neither can the length of the Teeth be seen except you take away the little Bladder in which they lie concealed, in this Bladder it carries Poyson, which it infuseth into the Wounds it makes with its Teeth. The Scales of a Viper are more sharp than a Snake's; it lies for the most part Quoiled up like a Rattle-Snake. In the Viper there is nothing venemous but the Head and Gall, which are cast away as useless. It is a sharp sighted, crafty, and venemous Creature, biting those that suddenly pass by it. The Viper is said to conceive Eggs within her, which she does not lay after the manner of other Serpents; but in her Body they are hatched into living Vipers. For as Pliny reporteth, that of all Creatures that want Hair, the Viper and the Dolphin only bring forth their Young with Life. It is likewise reported, that after they have ingendered, the Female destroys the Male, and feeds on him; and that the Young Ones eat their way out of their Female's Belly when she is ready to bring them forth, and feed on her ’till they are able to fend for themselves. But how true this may be, I will not take upon me to determine; but this I am certain of, that I have killed several of them and after having opened them, have found fifteen or more young ones alive in the Female’s Belly. The bitting of the Viper is mortal, and kills within three Days at farthest, if not speedily cured; the Poyson is universal, as if the Body were set on Fire with violent Convulsions, Weakness, cold Sweats, Vomiting, and then Death. At first the Poyson may be sucked out by applying the Anus of a Hen to the part after Scarification, or else a Plaster of Garlick, Onions, and Venice-Treacle, drinking French Wine, Garlick Broth, with Mithridate, Bazoar-mineral, Myrrh, and the Rattle-snake Root. The Virtues of the Vipers are so well known, that it would be needless to trouble the Reader with them, only that they are more valuable than any of the other Snakes.
The Red-belly-snakes, these frequent the Land, and are so called, from their Red-bellies, which inclines to an Orange colour: They are not very venemous, for I have known several Persons bit by them, some whereof were not much hurt, and others have suffered much by them. But I am perswaded that there are two different sorts of these Snakes, but so like each other, that there has been no difference made between them at present; otherwise their bites would not produce such contrary effects, as they are known to do.
The Chicken-snake, or Egg-snake, so called, from it’s frequenting about Hen-yards, and devouring Eggs and Chickens. They are commonly of a dusky soot colour, though I have seen some of them dark, yellow, and mottled. They are about four Foot long, and the thickness of a Man's Wrist, they frequently climb up large Pine Trees, will rowl themselves round, and stick to the side of it, where there seems to be no manner of hold, above twenty or thirty Feet high; there sun themselves, and sleep in the heat of the Day. I cannot find that they are venemous, but are mischievous about Houses, and will imitate exactly the call and cry of Chickens, and allure and decoy them, which they will quickly seize and swallow.
The Brimstone-snake, so called, from it's being almost of that colour. They might as well have called it, the Glass, or brittle-Snake, for it is as brittle as Glass, or a Tobacco-Pipe, for give it the least touch with a small Twig it immediately breaks, or rather disjoynts into several pieces; and several in these parts confidently affirm, that if they remain in the same place untouch'd, they will joyn together again. What harm there may be in this brittle-ware, I cannot tell, for I never knew any Person hurt by them.
The King-snake is the longest of all other Snakes in these parts, but are not common; the Indians make Girdles and Sashes of their Skins, and it is reported by them, that they are not very venemous, and that no other Snake will meddle with them, which I suppose is the Reason that they are so fond of wearing their Skins about their Bodies as they do.
The Corn-snake, so called, from it's being met with in Corn-fields, and scarce any where else. They are not venemous, neither do they gather themselves into a Quoil like the Viper or Rattle-snake. They are near a Yard long, and of a Brown colour, mixt with Tawny.
The Green-snakes are very small, and are so called, from their beautiful green Colour (if any Beauty may be allowed to Snakes) the Planters make themselves very familiar with them, and will frequently put them in their Bosoms, without any dread or fear, because there is no manner of harm in them.
The Black-truncheon-snake might have very well been numbered amongst the Water-snakes: they are so called, from their shape, being the thickest and shortest kind of Snakes I ever saw; they lie on the Banks, and at the Roots of Trees by the Water sides, and when any thing disturbs them, they dart themselves into the Salt-water like an Arrow out of a Bow. What good or harm there is in them I know not, some of these Water-snakes will swallow a black-land Snake, half as long again as themselves, as I observed in one of them that I shot.
The long Black-snake is very common, and generally six Feet in length, it frequents the Land altogether, and is the nimblest Creature living, it has no manner of Venom in it's bite, but the part sometimes swells and turns to a running Sore. These Snakes are the best Mousers that can be, for wherever they frequent, they destroy Lizards, Frogs, Rats, and Mice, leaving not one of those Vermine alive. They are very mischievous about Dairies and amongst Eggs, skimming the Cream of the former, and swallowing the latter. They will sometimes swallow all the Eggs from under the Hen that sits, and Quoil themselves under her in the Nest, where they are often found by the House-wife: They kill the Rattle-snake where-ever they find him, by twisting their Head about his Neck, and so whip him to death with their Tails; and notwithstanding the Agility of this Snake, yet it is so brittle, that when it is pursued, and gets it's Head into the hole of a Tree or Wall, if any one gets hold of it at the other end, it will twist it self in pieces. One of these Snakes, whose Neck seems to be no thicker than a Woman's little Finger, will swallow a Squirrel or Rat, which I have taken out of their Bellies; so much does that part stretch in all those Creatures. It likewise feeds on small Insects and Flies, taking them betwixt the forks of its Tongue.
The Eel-snake, though improperly so called, because it is nothing but a kind of Leech that sucks and cannot bite, as other Snakes do, but is very large, being commonly eighteen or ninteen Inches long, and has all the Properties that other Leeches have, and lives in Ponds as they do. There is likewise a Leech in this Province, of the same bigness of those with us in Europe.
Having given as large an Account as is yet known of the Snakes in these Parts; I will in the next Place proceed to treat of some of the smaller Reptiles or Insects that are most remarkable, and to be met with in this Country; but to give a large Description of all the different Species that this Country produces, would require too large a Volum, which is not my intention at present. Besides the Indians give us many strange and uncouth Names for various kinds of Beasts, Birds, Fishes, Snakes, and Insects, that we are intire Strangers to; for the greatest part of this spacious and large Country lies waste at present, and undoubtedly there will be many curious and considerable Discoveries made, when once this Country is well settled and inhabited by the Christians, for the Indians whilst they remain in their Idolatrous Practices, never will be brought over to cultivate this rich and noble Country, or even to make Discoveries of what they know of it already. But to proceed to the Reptiles and Insects.
The Bees are in great Plenty, not only in Hives, in the Planter's Gardens, but are likewise to be met with in several parts of the Woods in hollow Trees, wherein are frequently found vast quantities of Honey, and Wax. The Uses and Profits of these noble Insects, are so well known amongst us in Europe, that it would be needless to trouble the Reader about them. Their Bee-hives are generally made of some piece of hollow Tree, and especially the sweet Gum Tree, which they cut at proper lengths for that purpose, with a Board at the top for a Covering; these are all the sorts of Bee-hives made use of in this Country, some whereof are larger than our Barrel. The Humble-bees are of the same sort in this Province as those with us in Ireland, and other parts of Europe.
The Silk-worms: In several of our Journies in this Province, we found great numbers of them, with quantities of Silk as large as our ordinary Wall-nut. And no doubt these profitable Insects might be brought to great Perfection in Carolina, as in any part of Europe, if the same Care were taken there as is in France, Spain and many other Places, since this Country doth naturally produce them. In process of time, they leave off Spinning, and receive Wings like Butterflies, and after three or four Days Copulation, the Male presently dies, and the Female having lay'd many Eggs, dies also. The whole Worms dried, powder'd and laid to the Crown of the Head are good in Megrims, Virtigoes and Convulsions, and the Ashes of the Silk cleanseth Wounds, &c.
The Butter-flies are produced from small Eggs as the Silkworms are, and are very plenty all over this Province, several sorts: some large, and others small, and most beautifully Mottled with variety of fine Colours. They generate in May, June and July, and lay vast quantities of Eggs in the Season, from whence they are produced. There are some of them larger in this Province than any I have met with in Europe, for you shall frequently see them chace the Humming-birds away from the Flowers on which they feed. It is a long lived Insect, after the Head is off; for I pulled off the Head from one of them in the middle of Summer, that lived about thirty five Days, and could flie all that time. This any one that pleases may try and prove the Truth of it. The Powder of these Insects taken inwardly, provokes Urine, and have much the same Virtues with the Silk-worm.
The Grass-hoppers are very plenty, whereof there are two Sorts; the first are of a much larger size than any I have met with in Europe. The second are much of the same bigness as those with us. Both these sorts seem to be more lazy and dull Insects than those in Europe, for they are seldom heard singing, but commonly are groveling in the Dust. They are 1ikewise bad sighted, for they will scarce stir 'till you almost tread upon them. Of all Creatures that are known to live, the Grass-hoppers alone have no Mouth, only a sharp Pipe in their Breasts, wherewith they suck in the Dew, on which they live. Their Breasts are full of small sharp Pipes, with which they make that ringing Noise we hear, and their Bellies, for the most part, are found empty. They engender with their Bellies upward, and have a roughness on their Backs, which is sharp, and it is with this that they make Holes in the Earth, where they lay their Eggs, and breed. When these Eggs are hatched (which is by the heat of the Sun) there appear first little Worms or Maggots, which in process of time become Grass-hoppers. The Males are only said to sing, and the Females to be always silent. They are never to be met in these parts in the Winter Season. The Powder of them dried and given with Pepper, helps the Cholick, difficulty of Urine, and the Ashes with Rhenish Wine the Gravel.
Sows, or Hog-Lice, breed in most places, especially under Stones and rotten Wood, whereof there are two sorts in this Province, but not so plenty as with us, by reason that the Wood-peckers, and several other Birds and Creatures continually devour them. When they are touched, they gather themselves up as round as a Pea. The whole Insect is thin, and of volatile Parts, digesting, cleansing, opening, and a great disolver of all tartarous Matter, therefore good in all Obstructions, Jaundice, Cholick, King's Evil, old sordid and rebellious Ulcers, Convulsions, Stone and Gravel, Rickets in Children, dimness of Sight, French Pox, and many other stubborn and lingring Disorders.
The Fire-fly. (I would not have the Readers be mistaken, and take these Insects for the Pyrales or Fire-flies that are represented by Pliny in his Natural History, as bred and living in the Fire). These live in the open Air, and are so called, from their appearing at Night like so many shining Sparks of Fire. They are as long as the Drones amongst the Bees, but much thicker, and are of a brownish colour. Their Light is under their Wings, which appears frightful to Strangers at first sight, although they have no manner of harm in them. I have frequently taken them and broke off their Wings, that they could not fly away, and placed them on a Book in dark Room, and whatever way they went, I could plainly see and distinguish each Letter. They appear in May, and remain most part of the Summer, and are at sometimes in such plenty, that the Woods seem to be altogether Sparks of Fire; they are never to be seen in the Day, but fly all the Night. What Virtues they may be indued with, are uncertain; for I never knew any use made of them in this Country.
The Crickets are winged Insects like the Locusts, or Grass-hoppers, and are plentifully to be met with in this Province. They seldom frequent the dwelling Houses as those with us in Ireland do, but are often heard and seen in the Woods and Corn-fields (especially in the Summer) where they Sing almost continually, in Winter they approach near the Houses and other warm places, they are very mischievous, for they frequently cut large holes in Linnen and Woollen, and are likewise great devourers of Corn and all kinds of grain. The Powder of them is said to provoke Urine, and strengthen the Sight, their Juice has the same effect, and their Ashes excellent against Fluxes and the Gravel.
The Lady Bird is a beautiful small Insect (with red Wings and black spots thereon) which the Children in Ireland frequently play with; it is to be met with in Carolina in the Summer time, and is a wonderful Cordial, curing all Fevers how poysonous or malignant soever, by its sudorifick quality. The Powder of its Body is of a deep Purple colour, and emits its Tincture into Water and Spirits of Wine, being not inferior to Saffron.
The Cantharides or Spanish-flies, are here likewise to be met with in the Summer time. These Insects are produced from small Worms like the Catter-pillar in Fig-Trees, Pear-Trees, Wild-Pines or Pitch-Trees and the Eglantine-Brier: Their uses and virtues are so well known, that it wou'd be needless to trouble the reader about them.
The Pismire or Ant, is a small, but industrious and wise insect, gathering its food in the Summer in the full Moons and resting in the new ones: They are like a common wealth, and gather Corn for their Winter provisions, which they dry and bite at both ends that it may not grow: They wear away Stones by their assiduity and make beaten Road ways; they help one another in drawing their Burthens; dam out Water and bury their Dead. The greater lead the way, and lesser drag the Corn; and when dirty, they cleanse themselves before they enter into their habitations. They teach their young to Labour, but expel the Idle, and when they carry their grain, it is said to be a sign of fowl Weather. They cast up the Earth over the Mouths of their Caves (that the Water may not enter in) wherein they have three Cells; in the one they live, in another they breed and bury their Dead, and in third they keep their Corn. They generate in Winter, and bring forth Eggs, which in Spring are Ants; when old they grow winged, then suddenly after die. The Ants are of a hot and dry Nature, excite lust, and wonderfully refresh the Spirits, their Eggs help deafness, and many other excellent virtues are atributed to them.
The Spider is a poysonous Insect, which hurts by stinging. There are divers sorts of these Insects in America, but the most remarkable is the Mountain-Spider, so called, for its being found commonly in the Woods near the Mountains, and scarce any where else. It is the most poysonous and largest of all Spiders that are yet known in America. Several sorts of these Spiders make their Webs or nets so strong that they often take small Birds in them. Those that have the Misfortune to be stung by these insects, are afflicted with different disorders, according to the Nature of the Spiders, which have communicated the poyson. For you shall sometime find them afflicted with violent pains at the heart, shortness of Breath, heats and colds all over the Body, tumors, Inflammations, tremblings, cold sweats, vomiting, singing, laughing, talking, sleeping, starting, and sometimes fear, frenzy, and madness, with many other griveous symptoms, which often end in Death, without a speedy remedy be applied. The cure is done by bathing with decoction of stinking Trefoil and Oil; fomenting the part with Spunges dipt in Vinegar, by application of the mullet, lees of Wine and Juice of Ivy; giving inwardly an electuary made Tamarisk, Mithridate, and sometimes Musick. The Indians cure it by sucking the part with their Mouths, and continually spitting out the venom. These Insects being made into a Plaster and applied to the wrists and Temples, cure Agues.
The Ear-wig is to be met with in this Province in the Summer time, and is the same as in Europe; these Insects being boiled in Oil and applied to the Arteries of the Temples and Wrists, are said to cure Convulsions, by causing a Fever. Their Powder mixt with Hare's piss, and so put into the Ears Evening and Morning, cure Deafness.
The common Small-black-flies are plenty in these parts, and are more troublesome here than in France or Spain, especially about the Legs, and no where else, for they will pierce through a pair of Stockings, and bite like the Clegs or Gadflies in Ireland.
The large Black-mackrel-flies are also plenty, especially in the Summer time, and are the same as those with us in Europe. The powder of these Insects and their Juice cures Baldness.
The Ox, or Gad-flies, are so called, from their tormenting the Cattle in the Summer time; they are of various colours, but mostly yellow and green, and are plenty in this Province in the Months of July and August, at which time they are troublesome to Horses, especially about the Ears and head, and no where else; for which reason you shall see those that ride in the Woods, fix green boughs on the Horses heads, to defend them from these mischievous Insects.
The Moth is there likewise, and differs in nothing from those in Europe, being as mischievous and destructive to Woollen Cloths and Books as those with us. An Oil made of them is said to cure Deafness, Warts and the Leprosy, and being mixed with Tar, to be good in all sorts of rebellious Ulcers, Botches, Scabs, Whittles, &c.
The Weevil, is a little small Worm, not much bigger than a Mite, and is very destructive to Trees, but more especially to Corn, for I have seen Barrels full of Indian Wheat or Maiz intirely ruined by these Insects, when there has not proper care been taken, to prevent their doing mischief. They never meddle with any grain (exposed in the weather) but when it is put up in close places, such as barrels and the like, yet this may be easily remedied by shaking a little Salt at the bottom and top of those vessels the Corn is in.
The Chinch Wall-louse, or Buggs; these are flat, red, and in shape and bigness 1ike the Sheep-louse, they have an offensive smell when they are killed, they haunt Beds, suck Men's Blood very greedily, especially about the Neck and Face, which in many appeareth for a Day or two, as if stung with Nettles, and are as numerous in this Province as in France or Spain. Pliny saith, they are against all Poyson and biting of Serpents. Marcellus saith, that the Powder of them cures all Fevers, their Scent, the Fits of the Mother, and that they are successful to force away the Birth, and After-birth.
The Cock-roch, is a kind of Beetle, something larger than a Cricket, and of a dark brown Colour; they frequent the Houses, and are very mischievous among Books and Linnen, by eating innumerable Holes in them, if there be not care taken to sweep and keep those places clean where those things are laid up. When they are killed, they stink like Buggs; their Uses in Physick are uncertain.
The Tumble-turds, are a Species of the Beetles, and so called, from their constant rowling the Horse-dung (whereon they feed) from one place to another, ’till it is no bigger than a small Bullet. They are one of the strongest Insects, of the same Size I have ever seen; they frequently fly into Houses, and I have seen one of them move a Brass Candlestick from one place to another upon a Table, which seem’d very strange to me at first; for not long after my arrival, being one Night at a Planter’s House, who had secretly conveyed two of these Insects under two different Candle-sticks; amongst other Discourses, he told me, he would made the Candle-sticks move about the Table by a certain Spell, as he pretended: He had all this time kept the Candle-sticks in his Hands on the Table. I was very desirous to see this performance; he immediately takes his Hands from the Candle-sticks, and struck three times under the Table, and seemed to mutter some few Words (as Juglers are known to do) which he had no sooner ended but the Candlesticks began to move backwards and forwards, to my great surprize, for I could imagine nothing else but that it had been some secret Charm he had got from the Indians, who are great Conjurers. After the Company had sufficiently diverted themselves at my surprize, and how desirous I was to have this Charm communicated to me, one of the Company takes up the Candlesticks and discovers these Insects, which are of the same Shape, but something larger than the common Beetles, that are to be met with in Ireland, which feed on the Cow-dung, and make Holes in the Ground. There are several other different Species of Beetles here, but none so remarkable as these, or so beautiful, with a variety of Colours, such as Red, Green, Black, Yellow, &c. (except the Horned-Beetle, Bull-Fly, or Flying-stag.) These Beetles seem to be infected with little small Insects of a light brownish Colour, which are commonly called the Lice of the Beetles. Their Powder is used against the falling out of the Fundament, to expel Urine, and cure the bite of a Mad-dog. The Juice cures Wounds, and in Plasters Buboes and pestilential Carbuncles.
The Muskeetoes (in the Indian Language called Toquani) whereof there are two sorts. The first is small, but pernicious and troublesome, of a dark colour, and are so mischievous, and plentiful in some places on this Continent (and especially on the Marshes and low Grounds) that scarce any one can live there, except the Indians, whom they do not bite or molest; this I am perswaded is owing in a great measure to their so frequently anointing themselves with Bear's-grease, and many other Ointments, which they make and daub their Bodies with.
The second sort are exactly the same in shape and size with the former, but are of a whitish Colour; these are not troublesome to the Inhabitants, neither do they bite like the former, they are generally brought here by Southerly Winds in July and August, in such vast quantities, that it is strange to behold them, they either die suddenly, or are carried away with the Winds, shifting from the South. What Virtues they may be indued with is uncertain.
The Muskeetoe-Hawks, are Insects, so called, from their continually hunting after Muskeetoes, and killing and eating them; they are a large Flie, with a long Body, great Head, and Wings, resembling the Dragon-flie, whereof they are a Species. They are very plenty all over this Province, especially in the latter end of Summer. They seldom appear in the Day-time, but hunt the Muskeetoes all night long. I know no other use they are good for than in destroying those Insects, so pernicious and mischievous to Mankind; so that the Planters seldom kill them.
The Horned-Beetle, Bull-flie, or Stag, are to be met with in several parts of Carolina. These Insects have no Stings, but a large pair of Horns on their Head, exactly resembling the Horns of a Deer, for which reason they are called the Flying-stag, these Horns they can at pleasure bring together and bite withal. These Beetles are hung as an Amulet about Children's Necks for several Disorders.
The Sand-flie, so called, from their breeding, and always being found the Sand-banks, and near the Rivers, they are very small, not much larger than a Gnat, and are almost as pernicious and troublesom as the Muskeetoes, especially about the Face and no where else.
The Wasps are very plenty in this Province, they build their Nests in Trees, the substance whereof seems like Cobwebs, or a kind of brown Paper, and it is said they ingender in Autumn, but never in the Spring, and are bred out of the softer parts of Horse-flesh, they live upon Flesh, and several sorts of Insects, which they hunt after and kill for their Provisions. The Wasps, like many other Insects, are not to be seen all the Winter, but lie in Holes or hollow Trees all that Season, and they live not above two Years. They seldom are mischievous, or do any harm, except you provoke them, or approach too near their Nests, which the Planters frequently set fire to, by shooting at them with Gun-powder. (This is commonly done late in the Evening, or early in the Morning) and then they run away as fast as possibly they can, to avoid being stung, for when they are provoked, they will pursue in great Numbers those that have molested them. Their Sting is worse than that of the Bees, and is cured by application of Cow-dung mixed with Barley-meal, or Leaven mixed with Oil and Vinegar. The Powder of them is good to open Obstructions of the Reins and Bladder, some use them in all Cases where Sows or Hog-lice are used, and with the same success.
The Hornets are in great plenty in this Province; they build their Nests in Caves and Holes in the Earth, much like the former, and are said to be produced out of the harder parts of the Horse-flesh, as the other is out of the softer. Their Decoction, or distilled Water, if touched on the Skin, makes the place swell as if there was a Dropsie, or the Parts had been poysoned, yet without pain. The Cure for this, and their Sting is Venice-treacle taken inwardly, and applying outwardly Cow-dung, fasting Spittle, Barley-meal, Oil and Vinegar, &c.
The Labourers, are a Specie of Hornets, and are so called, from the pains and labour which they take in building their Nests with a kind of yellow Clay, they make Rooms or Cells wherein they breed their young, which is wrought so close, and after such a manner, that it is hard to break it when dry, to get the young ones out. They are near as large as a Hornet, and of the same shape and colour, they have long Legs, and always breed their young ones in the Summer time. They are more mild than the Hornets, and seldom or never sting; I have often obeerved these Flies to scrape the Sand by the River sides and moist places, where they make deep Holes and are buried under Ground before they can come at the yellow Clay. Some of them have Stings, yet they do little harm, only they are very troublesome in the Houses by fixing Clay to the Ceiling, if there is not proper Care taken to prevent them. Their uses in Physick are unknown.
The Fleas are very plenty in some parts of this Province, especially in those places where the Indians dress their Deer Skins, they have no Physical Virtues yet known, but are certainly most troublesome Guests. They are generated by Dust, as also of putrefied Sweat, and are destroyed by Decoctions made of Coloquintida.
The Louse is not plenty in this Province. They are eaten by Rusticks for the Jaundice, and (Consumption, and to provoke Urine.
The Tick is a filthy Creature, or kind of Louse that troubles Oxen, Horses, Deer, Goats, Sheep, Dogs, and sometimes Men. These Vermine are plenty in this Country, whereof there are two Sorts, viz. the Dog, or large Tick, and the small or Sea Tick.
The large or Dog tick, is the same as with us in Ireland, only it has a brown Spot on the Back, which disappears as it grows large. It's Food is the Blood of several Animals, which it most greedily sucks, yet it hath no passage to void the excrements by, and generally sucks till it falls of, being so full, and in process of time bursts and dies. The juice of the Dog-tick is a Depilatory, kills Ring-Worms, the Erysipelas, and Itch. These vermine are destroy’d by the Powder or decoction of Coloquintida.
The Sea Ticks are so call’d from their being so plentiful in the marshes on the water sides, they are so small that they are scarce as large as a small pins head, and are very troublesome to those that travel in the Woods and near the sides of the Rivers, for they stick so fast in the Skin, that it is impossible to pluck them out, and are apt to occasion Inflammations, Fevers, or inveterate Sores, by scratching the part: And notwithstanding they are so troublesome, yet they are easily destroyed by washing the parts in the Rivers, or by a decoction of the leaves of Tobacco or Coloquintida. Those that travel the Woods in their Boots are never pester'd with these vermine, or if they anoint their limbs with Bears-grease, as the Indians do, who are never troubled with them. They seldom appear till the Month of May, and continue till August; and are supposed to be the spawn of the former, which I am apt to believe, for I have frequently found the large Ticks (after they have bursted) with vast quantities of young ones in them.
The Locust, is an Insect or fly with a head like a Horse, six Legs and as many Wings, and are of divers colours. They lay Eggs in Autumn, which lie all Winter in the Ground, but in the latter end of Spring they are hatched, and in Summer become Locusts. These Insects burn Corn, Grass, and most kinds of plants by touching, and devour the residue; and it is reported that in India, there be of them three Foot in length, which the People of that Country do eat and use their Legs and thighs for Saws when they are thoroughly dry: St. John the Baptist fed upon them in the Wilderness. They are often carried over great Seas, and continue their flight for several Days together, in such vast Numbers that they are said to darken the very Sun as they flie, and to be certain prognostications of a Plague or famine, in whatever Country they settle, and burn and destroy every thing before them, and 'tis likewise said, that they will kill Serpents; yet these pernicious and distructive Insects are not very common in Carolina. Their Eggs given in Rhenish Wine, help the Dropsie, and the fume of the fly helps stoppage of Urine in Women.
The Caterpillar, Palmer or Canker-worm, is the same in Carolina as is to be met with in Ireland, and many other parts of Europe. These Insects are very destructive to Herbs and Corn, if there be not care taken to prevent them, which is done by the fume of Brimstone. They change like Silk-worms, and in process of time become Butter-flies. Their Ashes put into the Nostrils, stop Bleeding. A powder made of them is said to be good in the Epilepsy, and their Web is said to stop the Flux of Women’s courses.
The Gally-worm is a short kind of Scolopender, exceeding in Number of Feet all other Insects. Some of them are smooth, others hairy all over, they are about the thickness of a Man's little Finger, and near two Inches long. They are not plenty in this Provinne, having several enemies that destroy them. Their ashes wonderfully provoke Urine, the Blood with the Juice of Hog-lice, take away white Spots in the Eye.
The Tobacco-worm; I am not certain whether it is call’d by any other Name, but I have call’d it so from its feeding on the Tobacco-Leaves, it is exactly shaped like the Gally-worm, but is something larger, and not hairy, and has two sharp horns on its Head, the Body is white and Black, with as many Feet as the former. This Insect I take to be another Species of the Scolopenders and is destructive and pernicious in the Tobacco Plantations, if there be not care taken to Search for and kill them, which is a business that the Negroes are very much employed in during the Tobacco Season. I don't find that they are any way Poysonous, for I have known some of the Planters make their Negroes eat them by way of punishment, when they have been negligent in their Tobacco Fields, and have not carefully gathered them from amongst the Tobacco Leaves: what physical virtues they may be indued with is uncertain.
The Glow-worm has Wings, and it shines in the dark like Fire; their light is under their Wings, and they are generated of Dew, they are most commonly to be met with in Swamps, and wet low Grounds, where they are plenty they shine at great distance like a Fire, which has deceiv’d many in the dark Nights. They are Anodyne, and are given with good Success in the Gravel, being made into Troches, with Gum Tragacanth, and Oil of AImonds.
The Land-wood-worms are of a shining Copper colour, and never exceed four or five Inches in length, and scarce as thick as a Man's little Finger. They are so called from being found in old rotten Trees, and accounted venemous in case they bite; yet I have never known any one hurt by them.
There are many other different sorts of Worms found, not only in rotten Trees, but likewise in several Trees in their Bloom, and especially the Apple Trees, which I have already made mention of.
The Teredines or Water-wood-worms, so call’d from their breeding in Ships and other Timber lying in the Salt-Waters. They have small soft white Bodies and large, hard Blackheads; I have frequently seen some of them no thicker than a Horse-hair, and others the size of a Childs finger. These vermine are only mischievous in the extreme heat of the Summer, and the fresh Water is an utter Enemy to them, wherein they perish and die. They are very destructive to Ships and Timber, especially if they lie in the Mud or Sands, but whilst they float they never come to any damage by them. I have seen several planks taken out of Ships and Boats, that have been eaten by these Worms like a Honey-comb in six Weeks time, by the negligence of the Masters to whom they belonged, that suffered them to lie in the Mud and Sands all that time, and notwithstanding they cut such large Holes within side of the Plank, yet the Holes on the out side are scarce to be seen, and no larger than for the point of a small Needle to enter. The Ashes mix’d with an equal weight of Anniseeds, and a little Oil, are good against all sorts of Ulcers and Cankers.
The Earth-worms, whereof there are several sorts, and are the same here as with us in Ireland. This Insect is a great Diuretick, Sudorifick, and Anodyne; it discusses, mollifies, increases Milk, opens obstructions, and cures Wounds, principally of the Sinews and Ligaments, and many other disorders, being both externally and internally made use of.
The Snails are here likewise, but not so plenty as with us in Europe; having many Enemies that continually destroy them, such as Birds, Snakes, Frogs, &c. The flesh cools, thickens, consolidates, is pectoral, and Strengthens the Nerves, cures Coughs, Asthma’s, spitting of Blood, and Consumptions. Outwardly they Ripen Tumors, Imposthumes, and Carbuncles, especially if mix’d with Ox-gall, they heal wounds of the Nerves and Ulcers of the Legs, cure Ruptures and stop Bleeding at the Nose, and many other Disorders too tedious to Name.
Having thus given an Account of some of the most remarkable INSECTS that are to be met with here, I shall in the next place proceed to give a Description of the BIRDS, and FOWLS that this Country produces, many whereof are not known, or to be met with in EUROPE.
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