From the unsuspecting credulity with which this textbook of the naturalists of the middle ages continued to be received, it is evident that the science remained stationary, if it did not actually retrograde, during the lapse of fourteen or fifteen centuries. The want of[xiii] opportunities of investigation may be regarded as the principal cause of this lamentable deficiency. Some of the rarer animals, it is true, were occasionally to be seen in Europe; but Menageries constructed upon a broad and comprehensive plan were as yet unknown. The first establishment of modern days, in which such a plan can fairly be said to have been realised, was the Menagerie founded at Versailles by Louis the Fourteenth. It is to this institution that we owe the Natural History of Buffon and his coadjutor Daubenton; the one as eloquent as Pliny, with little of his credulity, but with a greater share of imagination; and the other a worthy follower of Aristotle in his habits of minute research and patient investigation, but making no pretensions to the powerful and comprehensive mind and the admirable facility of generalising his ideas which so preeminently distinguished that great philosopher.
Haliaetos ossifragus. Sav.
Very different were the feelings by which the Roman generals and people were swayed even in their most civilized times and at the height of their unequalled power. Through all the gloss which history has thrown over the character of these masters of the universe there appears a spirit of unreclaimed barbarity which was never entirely shaken off. From the scenes of their distant conquests their pr?tors sent to the metropolis[xii] of the world bears and lions and leopards and tigers; but a love of science had no share in the motives for the gratification of which they were transmitted, and the chief curiosity manifested on such occasions by the people of Rome was to ascertain how speedily hundreds or thousands, as the case might happen, of these ferocious beasts would destroy each other when turned out half-famished into the public amphitheatre, or how long a band of African slaves, of condemned criminals, or of hired gladiators, would be able to maintain the unequal contest against them. The consul or emperor who exhibited at one time the greatest number of animals to be thus tortured before the eyes of equally brutal spectators was held in the highest esteem among a people who regarded themselves as civilized, and whose chief delight was in witnessing these wanton effusions of blood. It was only under the later C?sars that a few private individuals brought together in their vivaria a considerable number of rare and curious animals; and the Natural History of Pliny derives most of its zoological value from the opportunities which he had of consulting these collections. But the monstrous fables and the innumerable errors, which the most superficial examination would have taught him to correct, with which every page of this vast compilation absolutely teems, speak volumes with regard to the wretched state of natural science in the most splendid days of Roman greatness.
The present species is pure white throughout, with the exception of its crest, the longer feathers of which are bright yellow; and of the under surface of the wings and tail, which are straw-coloured, as are also occasionally the cheeks. The beak is nearly black. It is a native of the Moluccas, and is not unfrequently brought to Europe. It is remarkably intelligent, and becomes attached to those who show it kindness.
THE CLOUDED BLACK WOLF.