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career, till his death on the 13th of December 1766, the most rapid (perhaps) that ever took place in any age or country.
I cannot conclude this memoir, without observing that Milton, at the age of seventy, with all the vigour, spirit, and political rectitude of his excellent uncle Andrew Fletcher of Salton, entered into the support of the proposal for a Scotch militia, with the zeal of a true patriot ; and wrote an excellent letter to the then minister, Mr Grenville, which ought to be yet subjected to the consideration of his successors and of the country. . It is indeed truly astonishing, that the descendants of men who fought under the banners of Wallace and Bruce, and wrote the famoes letter to the pope, should not aspire after the same honour and security which is enjoyed by Englishmen. An honour which is possessed by the Prussians and the subjects of the strictest monarchies on the continent. Pudet hæc opprobria nobis, et dici potuisse et non potuisse refelli.
ON THE VIPER.
To the Editor of the Bee. As I am one of your constant readers, I have frequently observed in your most industrious Bee, some extracts from the natural history of insects and ania mals, with which a great many of your readers are unacquainted. The reptile which is to be the subject of this letter, is known to a great many in this island ; but I suppose very few know the way and manner by which the species is propagated; I shall, therefore, inform you of what came lately to my knowledge of the viper or adder.
About twelve months ago, an honest labouring man in this place, while at his work, observed something lying on the side of a road, of which he at first took little notice; but soon after having occasion to pass that way, observed it was not in the same place where he saw it at first, which raised his curiosity to take a more narrow inspection of it; when, to his great surprise, he found it to be an adder, of about two feet three inches in length; the skin of which was so thin that he plainly saw some living creatures moving within it. He by some means broke the skin, out of which came several thousands of young adders, rather more than one inch in length, with black heads, the back a whitish brown, the belly more inclined to white and clear. Having made these observations, he immediately dispatched them, in scase they should have spread abroad in the country. When he came home, and told his story of what he had seen, some believed him, and others not, saying they had been
aggots he had found in the skin of the adder. And so there was no more about it, until a few days ago, when a young man found, nearly in the same place, several thousands of the same kind of creatures, and nearly of the same size and colour, - marching along a road, but no skin was to be seen near by them. From which I infer, that when they come to a certain size, they eat themselves out of it, and begin their journey. As they were within two or three feet of some long grass, and about ten yards
from water, the man that found them stood by them lest they should go away among the grass, and so lose sight of them, until another young man came in sight; whom he called to him, that he might fetch something to carry them home in, that they might be seen before they were destroyed. He came and told me, and I willingly went along with him, and found them all marching forward in a determinate order upon
the road. What took
attention most, was their order of marching;--they kept so close together that they very much resembled the shape of a large adder, being smaller at the head, and thicker in the middle, from tlience tapering all the way to the other end,
They moved straight forward: the aggregate body was about one inch broad in their ranks at the head, one inch and one half in the middle, from thence smaller to the tail. They were about sixteen inches in length, and I think they would be about three quarters of an inch in depth, so that there was a great many creeping one above another, somewhat resembling a swarım of bees going up into the hive. I likewise observed when they met with any obstruction, such as a small stone, that they would all curn to one side of it; or if they divided their course they joined again as soon as they were past the cause of it. There seemed to be some wettish stuff
for when I separated a few from the main body, the dust stuck to them, and they could not creep but with great difficuliy; however, they seemed to guard against that by keeping su closely together.
Having made these observations on them, I carried them home, to keep alive for sometime, until they should get more the appearance of the old ones, and put them into a wooden vessel with some dry earth in the bottom; taking the hint from the curse pronounced against the serpent in holy writ. They soon got into order again, and marched round and round the vessel ; but by some accident, when I was out of the way, it was. overturned, so I judged it the safest way to make an end of them for fear of farther dan.. ger.
I send you inclosed a few of the young creatures that you may see them yourself, only I am afraid by the time you receive them they will be so dry, you will not be able to judge of them properly.
I would be much obliged to you, and, I dare say, so would a great many of your readers, if you were to give us some information through the chaanel of your Bee, how the species is propagated, and what method nature, or rather its author, has taken to prevent them increasing so fast ; for I have heard so many stories about them that I give little heed to any of them. If you were to add the best remedy to prevent the fatal effects of their sting, it would make it both useful and entertaining. As this is about the time the bees begin to lay up their honey for winter; I should think myself very happy could this letter only supply the place of coarse wax, to contain the more sweet and precious treasure. your disposal if you think it worth the inserting, I hope you will be so good as amend all inaccuracies in the writing which you may find it. If not I hum.
I commit it to
bly submit myself to your superior judgement. Be assured, however, that I am, Sir, the constant admirer of your writings and publications.
G. R. H. P.S. Although I have once or twice called them young adders in this letter, yet I am no way confirmed in my opinion that they really are so. Their order of marching makes me think they were not maggots; and it is not agreeable with the natural history of the viper to suppose they increase so fast; I shall therefore wait for your opinion of them, which will be gratefully received. I have mentioned all the particulars I observed about them*.
Along with the above was received by the Editor in a separate paper, several dried small animals, to appearance. One end was clearly distinguishable from the other, by a small black dot, which is supposed to be the head, the rest was so much shrivelled up in the drying as not to be distinguishable.
"The phenomenon here described is certainly very uncommon, and deserves the attention of the curious. That it was a nest of young vipers, as the writer evidently suspected, seems not to be very probable. The viper is known to be a viviparous animal, and produces its young nearly in the common way, in as far as I have been able to learn. I never myself had an oppor
ity of making any observations on the common adder, but a gentleman to whom I shewed the above, assured me, he had seen four or five young ones, about three inches long, and perfectly active, car ken out of the body of an adder that was killed,
It is probable some of my country readers may have had opportunities of observing the adder while with young, in various degrees of advancement; and it is also possible that some of them may have remarked che same appearance that has been described by this correspondent, and may be able to throw some light upon it. Any elucidations on this head will be Very acceptable.
Fishes that are generated from spawn, are, I believe, the most productive of all animals ; and these sometimes attach themselves to one another, when young, very closely in thoals, somewhac resembling the phenomenon VOL. ri.