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is not, as might well be supposed, that of an elaborate military fortress, nor of a systematically laid-out modern town; though I would call attention in passing, to its great resemblance in general ground-plan to the city of Carlsruhe, for some time the capital of the Grand Duchy of Baden, a city laid out designedly in the form of a wheel, with all the principal streets radiating, like spokes, from the palace which occupies the centre. The design however, here, is not that of any civil engineer, nor of any military general: it is a fortress indeed and an encampment, but planned and carried out below the surface of the earth by the despised and persecuted mole. This elaborate fortress is always constructed beneath a mound of more than ordinary dimensions, and "which is always raised in a situation of safety and protection; either under a bank, against the foundation of a wall, at the root of a tree, or in some similar locality. The earth of which the dome, covering this curious habitation, is formed, is rendered exceedingly strong and solid, by being pressed and beaten by the mole in forming it. It contains a circular gallery within the base, which communicates with a smaller one above, by five nearly equidistant passages; and the domicile or chamber is placed within the lower and beneath the upper circular gallery, to which last it has access by three similar passages. From the chamber extends another road, the direction of which is at first downwards for several inches: it then rises again to open into the
high road of the encampment. From the external circular gallery open about nine other passages, the orifices of which are never formed opposite to those which connect the outer with the inner and upper gallery: these extend to a greater or less distance, and return, each taking an irregular semicircular route, and opening into the high
road at various distances from the fortress. Such is a very hasty description of this most singular structure; and nothing surely can be imagined more admirably calculated to ensure the security or the retreat of the inhabitant, than such an arrangement of internal routes of communication as this. The chamber communicating beneath directly with the road, and above with the upper gallerythis with the lower by five passages, and the latter again with the road by no less than nine-exhibit altogether a complication of architecture which may rival the more celebrated erections of the beaver." So says Mr. Bell, in whose expressive and clear words I have preferred to describe this interesting portion of my subject. It is however to the indefatigable labours of two French naturalists that we are indebted for our chief acquaintance with the economy and habits of the mole, and especially of its excavations, to M. Cadet de Vaux, who devoted a great deal of time to this subject, and to M. Geoffroy St. Hilaire, who also prosecuted very careful researches on the point; and it was not until after a long series of very minute observations and experiments, carried on sometimes together and sometimes independently of one another, that these eminent and very patient naturalists arrived at the desired results, and satisfied themselves that they had mastered the somewhat complicated arrangement of the excavated galleries and chamber of the mole's fortress.
Of the nest or nursery of the mole, I have little to add beyond the fact that it is always quite distinct from the fortress, and generally placed at a considerable distance from it, (as a skilful general would naturally desire to remove the female and infantine portion of the community during the time of siege to a place of security apart from the din of war,) for the males are remarkably pugnacious, and battles, which terminate in the death of one at least of the combatants, are of very frequent occurrence. The nest has no claim to elaborate design: it is but an excavated chamber, warmly lined with fine grass, and appears to be placed in a remote portion of the domain, where it may have the best chance of escaping discovery from any prowling marauder in the form of a rat, weasel, or other murderous enemy.
It is also worthy of observation that in constructing both its nest and fortress, the mole is careful to place them in secure situations, where there is little chance of their being trampled in from above. They are generally covered with a large mound of earth, which is by some means consolidated to the required hardness, so as to be able to offer considerable resistance to pressure from without. Then in order that these several retreats should not be liable to injury from rain, they are made almost even with the ground, and at a higher level than the runs and passages which serve, on occasion, as drains or channels, to carry off the water.
That the Mole is not dormant in winter, as Linnæus and others have supposed, we have ample evidence in the hillocks which are thrown up by this indefatigable labourer even during the most severe weather: indeed who has not noticed a fresh heap from time to time thrust up through the snow, more conspicuous then than at other times, from the contrast of colour? and who has not marvelled at the strength of the digger, as he looks upon a new-made mound of earth pushed up through the frozen ground? though at the same time with a wise appreciation of the economy of labour, this skilled workman will, at such seasons, wherever such a course is practicable, push the accumulated earth before him till he reaches the nearest hillock, and there thrust it through an old hole to the surface, rather than trouble himself to make a new one through the turf, as he would do, if the ground was soft. It is however in autumn that the principal excavations are effected, and the early morning, when all around is still, is the time which it prefers for its labours, though it will, on occasion, carry on its works at other times. So sensitive, too, is it to interruption, that the slightest sound or movement of an approaching foot puts an immediate stop to the work, and no further excavation of the earth will be attempted that day, It is a remarkable fact that it is able to burrow in wet miry ground no less than in dry earth, without soiling or even tarnishing the brightness of its glossy skin, but then we must remember that the earth is as natural to the short thick close fur of the mole, as the air is to the feathers of the bird, or the water to the scales of the fish. Moreover it is wonderful, if surprized above ground, how it contrives, almost
in an instant, to work into the earth by means of its snout and fore feet, and thowing up its hind feet to dive (as it were) below the surface, and disappear into its own element. Not so easy is it to determine how it forms the casts with which we are all so familiar. That the earth is pushed up from below, and through a very small orifice, is certain; but how the operation is performed, has baffled, I believe, up to this time, every observer, while the appearance of the heap, if you examine it carefully, is exactly as if it was formed by a deposit from above.
Having now sketched an outline of the life-history, and touched upon the general habits of the Moles, it remains to speak of the benefit and the injury they do to man, to describe the little peccadilloes of which they are sometimes guilty, and then to enlarge on their counterbalancing virtues. I will turn first to the mischief they sometimes innocently effect; and acknowledge that in a turnip, swede, or mangold-wurzel field, when they burrow just below the plants, undermining whole rows of them and causing them to wither, it would be surprizing indeed if their presence was relished by the farmer neither when they run their galleries (as they will in light soils) just below the surface in a corn field, loosening the earth at the roots, and thus depriving the grain of the moisture it should derive from the ground, are they in any better odour with the agriculturist: again, in a well-drained pasture, when they burrow into the drains, and disturb the carefully-planned system for reclaiming marshy meadows; or in the case of the embankment of a canal or reservoir, which they perforate with their runs, till they have almost honeycombed it; or in the eyes of the gardener, who is vexed at the unsightly heaps unceremoniously thrown up on his neatly-kept lawn, or even within the precincts of his flower-beds; they are certainly unwelcome visitors. But, after all, these injuries are but rare and casual and of a trifling nature, with the single exception of interfering with drains, which I acknowledge to be a more serious matter. Then think of the immense amount of good they are always doing, acting as scavengers below the surface! what a vast army of wire-worms, grubs, and other noxious creatures do they not consume! pests which would infallibly injure the roots and the corn of the agriculturist,
and the flowers and the vegetables and even turf of the gardener ten-fold, aye, I venture to say a hundred-fold more than the little quadruped which is persecuted while they are passed over; and all, forsooth, because the heaps he throws up are apparent and open, while their work of destruction is hidden from view, but is as injurious as it is insidious and silent. I should scarcely have completed my catalogue of the benefits and injuries which moles do to man, if I omitted to mention the fatal results which have sometimes occurred from the horse of the incautious rider having put his foot in a mole-cast, and come down with more or less injury to the horseman. Notoriously this was the case with one at least of the Kings of England, viz., William III., who certainly lost his life by this mishap. As to whether the death of this monarch was a benefit or an injury to the people of England, I must leave everybody to form his or her own opinion: but certain it is that from the date of William the Third's fatal accident, the adherents of the house of Stuart became on a sudden great admirers of the little quadruped whose history we have been considering, and in allusion to what they were pleased to consider their delivery from an usurper, one of their favourite after-dinner toasts was, "The health of the little gentleman in black velvet." That however may be deemed matter of opinion, I return to matters of fact: and that the value of the Mole is no fancy of the prejudiced Naturalist nor an untenable theory which cannot be supported by evidence, has been amply proved by those who are best able to judge, the enlightened agriculturists who have not only taken pains to preserve this little quadruped on their lands, but have gone to considerable expense to procure and turn down alive as many as they could collect. Doubtless by so doing they often incurred the ridicule of their more prejudiced neighbours, but they derived at the same time the solid benefit of the destruction of injurious worms and grubs from their lands, and consequently heavier crops than they would otherwise have had, as they have taken pains to make known.
In some of the more fenny districts in the eastern counties of England, such as Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex, where vast tracts of valuable land have been reclaimed from the water by