The Natural History of Wiltshire eBook

John Aubrey
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 257 pages of information about The Natural History of Wiltshire.

Sir Bennet Hoskins, Baronet, told me that his keeper at his parke at Morehampton in Hereford-shire, did, for experiment sake, drive an iron naile thwert the hole of the woodpecker’s nest, there being a tradition that the damme will bring some leafe to open it.  He layed at the bottome of the tree a cleane sheet, and before many houres passed the naile came out, and he found a leafe lying by it on the sheete.  Quaere the shape or figure of the leafe.  They say the moone-wort will doe such things.  This experiment may easily be tryed again.  As Sir Walter Raleigh saies, there are stranger things to be seen in the world than are between London and Stanes. [This is the “story” which Ray, in the letter printed in page 8, justly describes as, “without doubt, a fable.” — J. B.]

In Sir James Long’s parke at Draycot Cerne are some wheat-eares; and on come warrens and downes, but not in great plenty.  Sussex doth most abound with these.  It is a great delicacie, and they are little lumps of fatt.

On Salisbury plaines, especially about Stonehenge, are bustards.  They are also in the fields above Lavington:  they doe not often come to Chalke. (Many about Newmarket, and sometimes cranes.  J. Evelyn.) [In the “Penny Cyclopaedia” are many interesting particulars of the bustard, and in Hoare’s “Ancient Wiltshire, vol. i. p. 94, there is an account of two of these birds which were seen near Warminster in the summer of 1801; since when the bustard has not been seen in the county.-J.  B.]

On Salisbury plaines are gray crowes, as at Royston. [These are now met with on the Marlborough downs.- J. B.]

        " Like Royston crowes, where, as a man may say,
        Are friars of both the orders, black and gray.”
        — J. CLEVELAND’S poems.

’Tis certain that the rookes of the Inner Temple did not build their nests in the garden to breed in the spring before the plague, 1665; but in the spring following they did.

Feasants were brought Into Europe from about the Caspian sea.  There are no pheasants in Spaine, nor doe I heare of any in Italy.  Capt.  Hen.  Bertie, the Earle of Abingdon’s brother, when he was in Italy, was at the great Duke of Tuscany’s court entertained with all the rarities that the country afforded, but he sawe no pheasants.  Mr. Wyld Clarke, factor fifteen yeares in Barberie, affirmes there are none there.  Sir John Mordaunt, who had a command at Tangier twenty-five yeares, and had been some time governour there, a great lover of field sports, affirmes that there are no pheasants in Africa or Spaine. [See Ray’s Letter to Aubrey, ante, page 8.]

Bitterns in the breaches at Allington, &c.  Herons bred heretofore, sc. about 1580, at Easton- Piers, before the great oakes were felled down neer the mannour-house; and they doe still breed in Farleigh Parke.  An eirie of sparrow-hawkes at the parke at Kington St. Michael.  The hobbies doe goe away at..... and return at the spring.  Quære Sir James Long, if any other hawkes doe the like?

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The Natural History of Wiltshire from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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