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5.6. Of venemous beasts. Chap. 6.

Of venemous beasts. Chap. 6.

Compare 1577 edition: 1 _IF I should go about to make anie long discourse of vene|mous beasts or wormes bred in England, I should at|tempt more than occasion it selfe would readilie offer, sith we haue verie few worms, but no beasts at all, that are thought by their naturall qualities to be either vene|mous or hurtfull. First of all therefore we haue the adder (in our old Saxon toong called an atter) which EEBO page image 228 some men doo not rashlie take to be the viper. Cer|tes if it be so, then is it not the viper author of the death of hirGalenus de Theriaca ad Pisonem, parents, as some histories affirme; and thereto Encelius a late writer in his De re metallica, lib. 3. cap. 38.Plin. lib. 10. cap. 62. where he maketh mention of a she adder which he saw in Sala, whose wombe (as he saith) was eaten out after a like fashion, hir yoong ones lieng by hir in the sunne shine, as if they had béene earth worms. Neuerthelesse as he nameth them Viperas, so he calleth the male Echis, and the female Echidna, concluding in the end that Echis is the same serpent which his countrimen to this daie call Ein atter, as I haue also noted before out of a Saxon dictionarie. For my part I am persuaded that the slaughter of their parents is either not true at all, or not alwaies (although I doubt not but that nature hath right well prouided to inhibit their superfluous increase by some meanes or other) and so much the rather am I led herevnto, for that I gather by Nicander, that of all venemous worms the viper onelie bringeth out hir yoong aliue, and therefore is called in Latine Vipera quasi viuipara: but of hir owne death he dooth not (to my remembrance) saie any thing. It is testi|fied also by other in other words, & to the like sense, that Echis id est vipera sola exserpentibus non ouased ani|malia parit. And it may well be, for I remember that I haue read in Philostratus De vita Appollonij, Adder or viper. how he saw a viper licking hir yoong. I did see an adder once my selfe that laie (as I thought) sléeping on a moule|hill, out of whose mouth came eleuen yoong adders of twelue or thirtéene inches in length a péece, which plaied to and fro in the grasse one with another, till some of them espied me. Sée Aristotle, Animalium lib. 5. cap. vl|timo, & Theo|phrast. lib. 7. cap. 13. So soone therefore as they saw my face, they ran againe into the mouth of their dam, whome I killed, and then found each of them shrowded in a distinct cell or pannicle in hir bellie, much like vnto a soft white iellie, which maketh me to be of the opinion that our adder is the viper in|déed. The colour of their skin is for the most part like rustie iron or iron graie: but such as be verie old re|semble a ruddie blew, & as once in the yeare, to wit, in Aprill or about the beginning of Maie they cast their old skins (whereby as it is thought their age re|neweth) so their stinging bringeth death without pre|sent remedie be at hand, the wounded neuer ceasing to swell, neither the venem to worke till the skin of the one breake, and the other ascend vpward to the hart, where it finisheth the naturall effect, except the iuico of dragons (in Latine called Dracunculus minor) he spéedilie ministred and dronke in strong ale, or else some other medicine taken of like force, that may counteruaile and ouercome the venem of the same. The length of them is most commonlie two foot and somwhat more, but seldome dooth it extend vnto two foot six inches, except it be in some rare and monste|rous one:Snakes. whereas our snakes are much longer; and séene sometimes to surmount a yard, or thrée foot, al|though their poison be nothing so grieuous and dead|lie as the others. Our adders lie in winter vnder stones, as Aristotle also saith of the viper Lib. 8. cap. 15. and in holes of the earth, rotten stubs of trees, and amongst the dead leaues: but in the heat of the summer they come abroad, and lie either round on beapes, or at length von some hillocke, or elsewhere in the grasse. They are found onelie in our woodland countries and highest grounds, where sometimes (though seldome) a speckled stone called Echites, in dutch Ein atter stein, is gotten out of their dried car|cases, which diuers report to be good against their poi|son. As for our snakes, which in Latine are proper|lie named Angues, Sol. cap. 40. they commonlie are seene in moores,Plin. lib. 37. cap. 11. fens, lomie wals, and low bottoms.

Compare 1577 edition: 1 And as we haue greats store of todes where adders commonlie are found,Todes. so doo frogs abound where snakes doo kéepe their residence.Frogs. We haue also the sloworme,Sloworme. which is blacke and graieth of colour, and somewhat shorter than an adder. I was at the killing once of one of them, and there by perceiued that she was not so called of anie want of nimble motion, but rather of the contrarie. Neuerthelesse we haue a blind worme to be found vnder logs in woods, and timber that hath lien long in a place, which some also doo call (and vpon better ground) by the name of flow worms, and they are knowen easilie by their more or lesse varietie of striped colours, drawen long waies from their heads, their whole bodies little excéeding a foot in length, & yet is there venem deadlie. This al|so is not to be omitted, that now an then in our fen|nie countries, other kinds of serpents are found of greater quantitie than either our adder or our snake: but as these are not ordinarie and oft to be séene, so I meane not to intreat of them among our com|mon annoiances. Neither haue we the scorpion, a plague of God sent not long since into Italie, and whose poison (as Apollodorus saith) is white, neither the tarantula or Neopolitane spider, whose poison bringeth death, except musike be at hand. Wherfore I suppose our countrie to be the more happie (I meane in part) for that it is void of these two grieuous an|noiances, wherewith other nations are plagued.

Compare 1577 edition: 1 We haue also efts, both of the land and water,Efts. and likewise the noisome swifts,Swifts. whereof to saie anie more it should be but losse of time, sith they are well knowne; and no region to my knowledge found to be void of manie of them.Flies. As for flies (sith it shall not be amisse a little to touch them also) we haue none that can doo hurt or hinderance naturallie vn|to anie: for whether they be cut wasted,Cutwasted whole bodied. or whole bo|died,Hornets. they are void of poison and all venemous incli|nation.Waspes. The cut or girt wasted (for so I English the word Insecta) are the hornets, waspes, bées, and such like, whereof we haue great store, and of which an o|pinion is conceiued, that the first doo bréed of the cor|ruption of dead horsses, the second of peares and ap|ples corrupted, and the last of kine and oxen: which may be true, especiallie the first and latter in some parts of the beast, and not their whole substances, as also in the second, sith we haue neuer waspes, but when our fruit beginneth to wax ripe. In déed Vir|gil and others speake of a generation of bées, by kil|ling or smoothering of a brused bullocke or calfe, and laieng his bowles or his flesh wrapped vp in his hide in a close house for a certeine season; but how true it is hitherto I haue not tried. Yet sure I am of this, that no one liuing creature corrupteth without the production of another; as we may see by our selues, whose flesh dooth alter into lice; and also in shéepe for excessiue numbers of flesh flies, if they be suffered to lie vnburi [...] or vneaten by the dogs and swine, who often and happilie preuent such néedlesse generations.

Compare 1577 edition: 1 As concerning bées, I thinke it good to remember, that wheras some ancient writers affirme it to be a commoditie wanting in our Iland, it is now found to be nothing so. In old time peraduenture we had none in déed, but in my daies there is such plentie of them in maner euerie where, that in some vplandish townes there are one hundred, or two hundred hiues of them, although the said hiues are not so huge as those of the east countrie, but far lesse, as not able to conteine aboue one bushell of corne, or fiue pecks at the most. Plinie (a man that of set pur|pose deliteth to write of woonders) speaking of honie noteth that in the north regions the hiues in his time were of such quantitie, that some one combe contei|ned eight foot in length, & yet (as it should séeme) he speketh not of the greatest. For in Podolia, which is now subiect to the king of Poland, their hiues are so EEBO page image 226 great and combes so abundant, that huge bores o|uerturning and falling into them, are drowned in the honie, before they can recouer & find the meanes to come out.

Compare 1577 edition: 1 Our honie also is taken and reputed to be the best,Honie. bicause it is harder, better wrought, and clenlier ves|selled vp, than that which commeth from beyond the sea, where they stampe and streine their combs, bées, and yoong blowings altogither into the stuffe, as I haue béene informed. In vse also of medicine our physicians and apothecaries eschew the forren, espe|ciallie that of Spaine and Ponthus, by reason of a venemous qualitie naturallie planted in the same, as some write, and choose the home made: not onelie by reason of our soile, which hath no lesse plentie of wild thime growing therein than in Sicilia, & about Athens, and makth the best stuffe; as also for that it bréedeth (being gotten in haruest time) lesse choler, and which is oftentimes (as I haue séene by experience) so white as sugar, and corned as if it were salt. Our hiues are made commonlie of rie straw, and wadled about with bramble quarters: but some make the same of wicker, and cast them ouer with claie. Wée cherish none in trées, but set our hiues somewhere on the warmest side of the house, prouiding that they may stand drie and without danger both of the mouse and moth. This furthermore is to be noted, that wher|as in vessels of oile, that which is néerest the top is counted the finest, and of wine that in the middest: so of honie the best which is heauiest and moistes is al|waies next the bottome, and euermore casteth and driueth his dregs vpward toward the verie top, con|trarie to the nature of other liquid substances, whose groonds and léeze doo generallie settle downewards. And thus much as by the waie of our bées and Eng|lish honie.

Compare 1577 edition: 1 As for the whole bodied, as the cantharides, and such venemous creatures of the same kind, to be a|bundantlie found in other countries, we heare not of them: yet haue we béetles, horseflies, turdbugs or dorres (called in Latine Scarabei) the locust or the gras|hoppers (which to me doo séeme to be one thing, as I will anon declare) and such like, whereof let other in|treat that make an exercise in catching of flies, but a far greater sport in offering them to spiders. As did Domitian sometime, and an other prince yet liuing, who delited so much to sée the iollie combats betwixt a stout flie and an old spider, that diuerse men haue had great rewards giuen them for their painfull pro|uision of flies made onelie for this purpose. Some parasites also in the time of the aforesaid emperour, (when they were disposed to laugh at his follie, and yet would seeme in appearance to gratifie his fanta|sticall head with some shew of dutifull demenour) could deuise to set their lord on worke, by letting a flesh flie priuilie into his chamber, which he foorthwith would egerlie haue hunted (all other businesse set a|part) and neuer ceased till he had caught hir into his fingers: wherevpon arose the prouerbe, Ne musca qui|dem, vttered first by Vibius Priscus, who being asked whether anie bodie was with Domitian, answered, Nemusca quidem, wherby he noted his follie. There are some cockescombs here and there in England, lear|ning it abroad as men transregionate, which make account also of this pastime, as of a notable matter, telling what a fight is séene betwene them, if either of them be lustie and couragious in his kind. One also hath made a booke of the spider and the flie, where|in he dealeth so profoundlie, and beyond all measure of skill, that neither he himselfe that made it, neither anie one that readeth it, can reach vnto the meaning therof. But if those iollie fellows in stéed of the straw that they thrust into the flies tale (a great iniurie no doubt to such a noble champion) would bestow the cost to set a fooles cap vpon their owne heads: then might they with more securitie and lesse reprehen|sion behold these notable battels.

Now as concerning the locust, I am led by di|uerse of my countrie, who (as they say) were either in Germanie, Italie, or Pannonia, 1542, when those nations were greatly annoied with that kind of flie, and affirme verie constantlie, that they saw none o|ther creature than the grashopper, during the time of that annoiance, which was said to come to them from the Meotides. In most of our translations also of the bible, the word Locusta is Englished a grashopper, and therevnto Leuit. 11. it is reputed among the cleane food, otherwise Iohn the Baptist would neuer haue liued with them in the wildernesse. In Barbarie, Numidia, Sée Diodorus Siculus. and sundrie other places of Affrica, as they haue beene, so are they eaten to this daie powdred in barels, and therefore the people of those parts are cal|led Acedophagi: neuertheles they shorten the life of the eaters by the production at the last of an irkesome and filthie disease. In India they are thrée foot long, in Ethiopia much shorter, but in England seldome a|boue an inch. As for the cricket called in Latin Cicada, he hath some likelihood, but not verie great, with the grashopper, and therefore he is not to be brought in as an vmpier in this case. Finallie Matthiolus, and so manie as describe the locust, doo set downe none o|ther forme than that of our grashopper, which maketh me so much the more to rest vpon my former imagi|nation, which is, that the locust and grashopper are one.

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