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it seem to contain, that I was sorely puzzled
to explain to myself how the splendid
collection could be stowed away in it, but this I
imagined was another marvel not to be
questioned. In spite of the smile of my
friend I would not be deterred from inspecting
the contents of this fairy menagerie; when
I found (I do not wish it to be generally
known) that the author of the magniloquent
proclamation which had seduced my imagination,
had become possessed of his curiosities
in the very town where he exhibited them
as strangers from foreign parts. A racoon,
brought home by a sailor, returned from
Yankeeland, and presented by him to his ,
friend the crier, who had got rid of it for a
consideration; a squirrel, three rats, and a white
mouse; were the wonders which the travelling
caravan hold in its bosom and which, the
pennies being paid beforehand, and no one
caring to express himself dissatisfied at being
made a fool of, was a sufficient mine of wealth
to the exhibitor, who having laughed in his
sleeve at the inhabitants of the little
borough, and pocketed enough halfpence to
carry him onward in his career, departed as
he came.

My thoughts, after this event, were led into
a train in which animals of all sorts passed
before my mind's eye, and the belief of our
forefathers respecting their habits and manners
recurred to my recollection. In the inmost
recesses of my heart I have always hidden a
hope that the old belief was the true one, and
that modern discovery will prove the existence
of many creatures of which we have only the
tradition: and it is for that reason that I
never allow a caravan to pass without having;
a peep into it, trusting that a dragon, or a
unicorn may, by some chance, be brought to
light, purchased by the Zoological Society,
and made a household word to the million.
Such things have happened in the case of
several rare specimens brought from unknown
shores by ignorant but enterprising wanderers
of the unscientific classes. The crowds are
ever anxious for information, and ever ready
to seek for it even in the dog-cart of a
peripatetic philosopher, such as he of the Badger,
whose visit, cheat though he was in his own
person, may have roused more minds than
mine in that little town from apathy, and may
have set them thinking on something beyond;
the narrow limits of the spot in which they
vegetate. Perhaps a horticultural and zoological
garden, perhaps a library for the people,
may become, from this circumstance, one of
the wants which their member will have to
set forth in Parliament.

In days of yore, when zoological establishments
were not, the wisdom of our ancestors,
Struggling through the mists of the ignorance
of ages, could not prevent them from believing
strange things, and setting them forth to
the world in all simplicity, finding credence
for the most wonderful assertions in the eager
minds of the cravers after knowledge. What
would the youngest visitant of the Surrey, or
the Regent's Park say to be told that his
flexible and familiar friend the elephant, who
kneels down that he may mount to the pavilion
on his back, has no joints. And yet
Aristotle, Diodorus, Strabo, Cassiodorus, and
many other learned Thebans, with ancient
honoured names, believed this to be the case,
and thus express their conviction:

"The elephant, having no joints, is obliged
to sleep standing; the hunters, therefore, cut
the tree across against which the animal leans,
as being once down, he cannot rise again.
No sooner does this animal hear a pig grunt
than he takes to flight in the utmost terror."

Ælian asserts that he had seen an elephant
write a letter, and another sage declares that
he had heard him speak! One could almost
believe either acts of our sagacious friend,
but still we are forced to stipulate for an

A horse and a pigeon were believed to
have no gall, but Pliny is caught tripping
when, after asserting this, he goes on to say
that the gall of a horse is poison! As for the
pigeon, it was thought profane to disbelieve
this omission of nature in favour of a bird
which had been chosen as a symbol of all
that was pure, gentle, and holy. With
respect to our old friend the badger, he is
described by no less a philosopher than
Albertus Magnus as having his legs shorter
on one side than on the otheralthough, he
adds despairingly, it is impossible to prove it!
Aldrovandus, who agrees in the poor badger's
defective formation, inserts a saving clause by
remarking, this inequality (which would
make him more splendid than a badger is)
cannot be observed; he also doubts that
the bear produces her cubs without form and
void, and begins immediately to lick them
into shape, although such was the received
opinion in his day. I hardly dare to trust
myself to talk about singing swans, which
were said to become melodious just before
their death, and thought by some
naturalists to have very good voices at all times,
but to sing in places where no one could hear
them. Aldrovandus tells his world that the
swans on the banks of the Thames, sing
beautifully. Has anyone on a swan-hopping
expedition ever heard them? The same
authors relate that the peacock is always
uneasy in his mind about the ugliness of his
feet, and screams when he looks at them.
This superstition has been useful to the poets
of the East, who introduce the fact into their
verses, adding that the deformity arose from
the peacock having made friends with the
serpent in Eden, and combined with that
enemy of mankind against our first parents.
Storks were generally believed to inhabit only
free countries, being thorough republicans in
their politics.

In the matter of the basilisk, salamander,
and phœnix, although acknowledged to be
rare creatures, they were believed to exist as