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Again, he falls in with a loan antelope, standing nearly five feet high at the shoulders, and carrying a superb pair of scimitar-shaped horns. His horse knows well what he has to do, and “sets off after him with right good will over a most impracticable country. It was a succession of masses of adamantine rock and stone, and dense bushes with thorns on the boat-hook principle. In a few minutes,” he says, “my legs were a mass of blood; and my shirt, my only covering, was flying in streamers from my waist. The old buck at first got a little a-head; but presently, the ground improving, I gained upon him, and after a sharp burst of about two miles we commenced ascending a slight acclivity, when he suddenly faced about and stood at bay, eyeing me with glowing eyes and a look of defiance. This was to me a joyful moment the buck I had for many years heard of, and longed to meet, now stood at bay within forty yards of me. I dismounted, and drawing my rifle from its holster, sent a bullet through his shoulder, upon which he cantered a short distance, and lay down beside a bush. On my approach he endeavoured to charge, but his strength failed him ; I then gave him a second shot in the neck, just where I always cut off the head : ou receiving it he rolled over, and stretching his limbs, closed his eyes upon the storm, which all this time raged with increasing severity.” Whocver has ridden to foxhounds over the rugged surface of Dartmoor, covered as it is with masses of granite over a large portion of it, will understand Mr. Gordon Cumming's “sharp burst," and the wonderful manner in which a horse will accommodate his strides to such a country, shortening or lengthening them as the emergency may require. Then, instead of the wait-a-bit thorns, if he keep not his weather-eye open, which, in the hail-storms of that exposed region, is no easy matter, he will find himself suddenly engulphed girth-deep in a bog. Notwith. standing, the fox is a good one ; and the man, if he be so too, will prefer the dangers and difficulties of this wild chase, a thousand times, to the artificial and mild system which obtains in your more fashionable countries.
Mr. Burchell records that he found the roan antelope abundant about the sources of the Garreip, and also in the vicinity of Latakoo ; but Mr. Cornwallis Harris declares the animal to be rare, and thinks the blue antelope ( Ligocerus leucophæa ) to be nothing more than a variety of the roan antelope; he tells us that the animal is chiefly found on the clevated ridges near the source of the Vaal and Limpopo rivers : the very country in which Mr. Gordon Cumming killed his first specimen. The roan antelope is the etak of the Matabili, stands five feet high at the shoulder, and is about nine in extreme length. The size of the animal's head and horns, at the South African Exhibition, denote it to be an immense and powerful antelope.
High as Mr. Gordon Cumming's ambition soars with respect to his sport, and exciting and adventurous as the sport is in subduing such poble game, yet he occasionally finds time to mount a pair of shot-barrels, and to bring down some of the smaller curiosities of the African wilds. “On the following morning,” he says, “the Namaqua partridges, which every morning and evening visit the vleys and fountains in large coreys for the purpose of drinking, mustered in great force at Stink Vonteyn. Of these birds I have met with three varieties. They are abundant wherever extensive open sandy districts occur, as far as I have penetrated into Southern Africa. By watching the flight of . these birds in the mornings and evenings I have discovered the fountains in the desert, when unassisted and forsaken by the natives.”
Here is a scrap of observation worthy of White, of Selborne : the wary hunter, too, has in some measure practically adopted Virgil's advice in looking to the fowls of the air for certain signs instinctive to them, but beyond the ken of human reason : yet, although great numbers of birds are mentioned as indicators by him of Mantua, the Namaqua partridges are not included in the catalogue. This bird is probably one of the four species of Francolin figured by Dr. Smith, in his beautiful and scientific work on the zoology of Southern Africa ; he remarks that ** these birds were observed to resort towards evening to the same localities (the sides of the streams); but at that period they were less readily discovered, owing to their being commonly more silent at that time.
The author, pursuing his travels, is not particular as to accommodation ; he bivouacks sub dio, and pays a grateful acknowledgment to the salubrity of the S. African climate. “I lay down to sleep beneath an aged mimosa in the vicinity of the old Bushman's hut, and about mid. night the wind set in from the Southern ocean, and, having no covering but my shirt, I felt it piercingly cold. Sleep was out of the question, and I was right glad when I heard the sparrow's chirp announcing the dawn of day. Notwithstanding these nocturnal exposures, my health since leaving my regiment had been perfect, not a twitch of rheumatism, a complaint from which I suffered while in India, although I had ceased to wear flannel, which I had previously done for years ; I can, therefore, confidently recommend the country to those that suffer from that most grievous affliction.”
It was once the lot of the writer of this article to kill from a boat right and left, a peregrine falcon and golden plover, while the noble bird was pursuing its prey, and almost in the act of striking it ; but Mr. Gordon Cumming draws his triggers at higher game-he kills a fine bull brindled gnoo with one barrel and a wild hound with the other, just as the latter, with three jolly companions, was running into his venison. But the keen sportsman, blood-thirsty though he be, has his compunction respecting the hound, which bore a strong resemblance to a noble deer-hound of his own, and reminded him of his native forests. He then gives, in a note, an excellent description of the “wilde honden." as these hounds are termed by the Boers, and tells us that they are still abundant in the precincts of the Cape colony, and met with in great numbers throughout the interior. The passage is so good that we are almost tempted to quote it verbatim; but our space forbids it, and we can only recommend the reader, who appreciates the combination of natural history with the stirring scenes of the chase, to give it his especial attention.
As the traveller advances the mirage of the desert attracts his notice, and he informs us that “ when the sun is powerful, which it is during the greater part of the year, an enduring mirage dances on the plain wherever the hunter turns his bewildered eyes. This mirage restricts the range of vision to a very moderate distance, and is very prejudicial to correct rifle-shooting. The effect produced by this optical illusion is remarkable ; hills and herds of game often appear as if suspended in
mid air - dry and sun-baked vleys, or pans covered with a crystallized efflorescence, constantly delude the thirsty traveller with the prospect of water--and more than once I have ridden towards a couple of springboks, magnified a hudrcd-fold, which I had mistaken for the white tilts of my waggon.” Belzoni gives a most interesting account of the mirage in the “ Narrative of his operations and researches in Egypt;" and Moffatt, in his “ Missionary Labours,” has a striking passage on the subject. He speaks of the delusive mirage, as “tantalizing his feelings with exhibitions of the loveliest pictures of lakes and pools studded with lovely islets, and towering trees moving in the breeze on their banks. In some might be seen the bustle of a mercantile harbour, with jetties, coves, and moving rafts and oars ; in others, lakes as lovely as if they had just come from the hand of the Divine artist, a transcript of Eden's sweetest views ; but all the result of highly rarefied air, or the reflected heat of the sun's rays on the sultry plain.”
Ant-bills averaging from two to three feet high enable the hunter to etalk a blesbok on the open plain. This antelope, he tells us, is one of the finest in the world, and is allowed to be the swiftest buck in Africa -" I was surprised and delighted with the exquisite manner in which his beautiful colours are blended together. Nothing can exceed the beauty of this animal. Like most other African antelopes his skin emitted a most delicious and powerful perfume of flowers and sweet smelling herbs. A secretion issues from between his hoofs, which has likewise a pleasing perfume.”
The wild hounds again make their appearance, and on this occasion the hunter's danger seems to be imminent ; but the cool, steady, selfpossession, which he evinces on all occasions, does not now forsake him; he gets a fright, however, which to men of ordinary nerves was sufficient to turn their heads grey in a night. “I had not slept long," he says, " when my light dreams were influenced by strange sounds. I dreamt that lions were rushing about in quest of me, and, the sounds increasing, I awoke with a sudden start, uttering a loud shriek. I could not for several moments remember in what part of the world I was, or anything connected with my present position. I heard the rushing of light feet as of a pack of wolves close on every side of me, accompanied by the most unearthly sounds. On raising my head, to my utter horror, I saw on every side nothing but savage wild dogs, chattering and growling -on my right and on my left, and within a few paces of me, stood two lines of these ferocious looking animals, cocking their ears and stretching their necks to have a look at me ; while two large troops, in which there were at least forty of them, kept dashing backwards and forwards across my wind, within a few yards of me, chattering and growling with the most extraordinary volubility. Another troop of wild dogs were fighting over the wildebeest I had shot, which they had begun to devour. On beholding them I expected no other fate than to be instantly torn to pieces and consumed. I felt my blood curdling along my cheeks, and my hair bristling on my head. However, I had presence of mind to consider that the human voice and a determined bearing might overawe them; and accordingly, springing to my feet, I stepped on to the little ledge surrounding the hole, where, drawing myself up to my full height, I waved my large blanket with both hands, at the same time addressing my savage assembly in a loud and solemn manner. This had the desired effect—the wild dogs removed to a more respectful distance, barking at me something like collies. Upon this I snatched up my rifle and commenced loading, and before this was accomplished the whole pack had passed away and did not return.” How Mr. Gordon Cumming could have consigned himself to the folds of his blanket without loading his rifle to be in readiness for any emergency, seems a blunder incompatible with the wary character of the wild hunter : his want of caution scarcely entitled him to escape. With one eye open, as the Bristol man is said to slumber, and with both barrels cocked, he would scarcely have been too secure from the dangers which surrounded him. He does not appear to have studied Robinson Crusoe's tactics with sufficient effect.
The roar of the lion, like deep-toned thunder, next attracts the hunter's ear, and ho proceeds to give a most interesting description of the monarch's habits, in which Buffon himself does not equal him. But Buffon who, according to the showman, is liable to err, never consorted with his majesty on the familiar terms with which our author did, meet. ing him by night and by day, confronting him fearlessly face and face, and when necessary bearding him in his very den. One bold sketch of the noble beast in his native wilds is worth a thousand highly wrought pictures of the same animal, half-fed, heart-broken, and crammed into the iron cage of a menagerie
It may fairly be said of the gallant captain, that his ear is not hung to courtly strains, or he would not find that deep pleasure, which he evidently does feel, in a concert of lions. “Lions,” he says, “liko our Scottish stags at the rutting season, roar loudest in cold, frosty nights ; but on no occasions are their voices to be heard in such perfection, or so intensely powerful, as when two or three strange troops of lions approach a fountain to drink at the same time. When this occurs every member of each troop sounds a bold roar of defiance at the opposite parties ; and when one roars, all roar together, and each seems to vie with his comrades in the intensity and power of his voice. The power and grandeur of these nocturnal forest concerts is inconceivably striking and pleasing to the hunter's ear. The effect, I may remark, is greatly enhanced when the hearer happens to be situated in the depths of the forest, at the dead hour of midnight, unaccompanied by any attendant, and ersconced within twenty yards of the fountain which the surrounding troops of lions are approaching. Such has been my situation many scores of times ; and although I am allowed to have a tolerably good taste for music, I consider the catches with which I was then regaled as the sweetest and most natural I ever heard.” Had the syren of Sweden poured her softest notes into his ear, on those occasions, she would doubt'ess have discovered another Ulysses : chacun à son goût. But his first encounter with a lioness had well nigh proved a fatal one : the infuriated and crippled animal charged into the midst of his party ; the hunter, however, having perfect confidence in his own shooting, coolly and steadily pitched his rifle to his shoulder, and stretched her a lifeless corpse upon the plain.
Our author now reaches Kuruman, a station established in the desert by that eminent London missionary Mr. Moffat. Ile describes Kuruman as a lovely green spot in the wilderness, having extensive, well irrigated, and extremely fertile gardens; and, in speaking of Mr. Moffat, he pays
a just tribute to his character, which, from all accounts, is that of an enlightened, energetic, and pious Christian. “Minister, gardener, blacksmith, gunsmith, mason, carpenter, glazier-every hour of the day finds this worthy pastor engaged in some useful employment-setting, by his own exemplary piety and industrious habits, a good example to others to go and do likewise.”
When encamped in an ancient forest of cameel-dorn trees the hunter falls in with whole colonies of the social grosbeak, a bird with whose wonderful habitations the branches were loaded. “These remarkable birds," he proceeds, “which are about the size and appearance of the British greenfinch, construct their nests and live socially together under one common roof, the whole fabric being formed of dry grass, and exhibiting at a short distance the appearance of a haycock stuck up in the tree. The entrances to the nests are from beneath. They are built side by side, and when seen from below resemble a honeycomb." Every one who has read Mr. Moffat's work will remember the interesting account he gives of the occupation of a tree by several families of the Bakones, who had adopted that aërial mode of living to escape from the lions. The passage is so good, and the facts it details so remarkable, that we cannot do better than quote it. “Having travelled one hun. dred miles, five days after leaving Mosega we came to the first cattle outposts of the Matabele, when we halted by a fine rivulet. My attention was arrested by a beautiful and gigantic tree, standing in a defile leading into an extensive and woody ravine, between a high range of mountains. Seeing some individuals employed on the ground under its shade, and the conical points of what looked like houses in miniature protruding through its evergreen foliage, I proceeded thither, and found that the tree was inhabited by several families of Bakones; the aborigines of the country. I ascended by the notched trunk, and found, to my amazement, no less than seventeen of these aërial abodes, and three others unfinished. On reaching the topmost hut, about thirty feet from the ground, I entered and sat down. Its only furniture was the hay which covered the floor, a spear, a spoon, and a bowl full of locusts. Not having eaten anything that day, and from the novelty of my situation, not wishing to return immediately to the waggons, I asked a woman who sat at the door with a babe at her breast, permission to eat. This she granted with pleasure, and soon brought me more in a powdered state. Several more females came from the neighbouring roosts, stepping from branch to branch, to see the stranger, who was to them as great a curiosity as the tree was to him. I then visited the different abodes, which were on several principal branches. The structure of these houses was very simple. They adopted this mode of architecture to escape the lions which abounded in the country. During the day the families descended to the shade beneath, to dress their daily food. When the inhabitants increased they supported the augmented weight on the branches by upright sticks ; but when lightened of their load, they removed these for fire-wood.” The human rookery has evidently borrowed a leaf from the social grosbeak's book. Two families in England under the same roof would inevitably create a civil war ; but in Africa it appears that many families, both of birds and savages, dwell at peace in the same tree.
As Mr. Gordon Cumming advances into the interior the character of