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small holes cut in the screens, over which he throws hempseed to the decoy-ducks, in order to entice them to the further part of the pipe: the hempseed, being very light, floats upon the surface of the water, and allures the wild-fowl to follow their insiduous companions into the snare.. The decoy-ducks will frequently lead the way up the pipe, at the sound of their master's whistle, and will sometimes dive under water; whilst the unwary strangers fly about, and are taken in the snare. The decoy-man is often obliged to make use of a little dog, when the wild-fowl happen to be in such a sleepy, dozing state, that they will not follow his ducks. The dog, having been long trained to the employment, plays backward and forward between the reedscreens, till he attracts the attention of the wild-fowl. Provoked at the disturbance, they advance without fear, to drive away this contemptible enemy; whilst the dog, by the command of his master, draws nearer and nearer to the end of the pipe, seducing his pursuers so far, that their return is prevented by the
appearance of the fowler, who comes out from his hiding-place. Nor will the nets above them suffer their escape upwards: pressed upon all sides, they rush into the purse-net, and meet their fate. If the dog does not obtain a sufficient degree of attention, he is decorated with a red handkerchief, or something very showy, which generally answers the purpose.
MR. HARCOURT. The men who are employed in this occupation, find it necessary to be extremely clean in their persons, and change their linen before they attend their ponds, lest the effluvia of their bodies should discover them; these water-fowl having such an exquisite sense of smelling, as requires the utmost caution to elude it. For the same reason, the decoy-man takes his stand always upon that side of the pipe towards which the wind blows; or, as the sailors would express it, upon the leeward side.
AUGUSTA. I suppose the dog may be taught almost any thing. The tricks of the dancing dogs have frequently amused me, and raised my astonishment by their dexterity. My own little Daphne has wonderful saga
city: she understands me whenever I speak to her, and begs so prettily when she wants a piece of gingerbread, that I trifle away many an hour in playing with her.
MRS. HARCOURT. Time is too precious to be lavished in trifles. Minutes are sufficient to bestow upon such a useless employment; but I forbear to be severe in my remarks upon this honest confession, believing that you daily improve in the appropriation of your leisure. The facility with which dogs receive instruction is wonderful, and renders them very beneficial to man, by enabling him to train them properly to the pursuit of many wild creatures, which he could never obtain without their aid. The dominion given to us over the inferior orders of animals, authorises us to avail ourselves of the faculties they possess, that they may become more useful; but the abuse of that power degenerates into tyranny, when we torment them unnecessarily. You admire the grotesque attitudes and ready obedience, of those poor beasts which are led about, and compelled to amuse the unthinking spectators; but you would
commiserate their sufferings, did you know the cruel discipline they have groaned under, for the purpose of attaining these ridiculous accomplishments. A person of reflection and humanity ought to discourage the tormenting of an inoffensive horse, a harmless pig, or an innocent dog, when there is no other motive for it but the gratification of seeing either of them pick out the letters that are called for, paw the number of the hour, or dance a hornpipe. They receive their lessons when very young, and they are enforced by the deprivation of food, and the influence of the rod, placed in the hands of an unfeeling master.
AUGUSTA. Cruelty is a vice to which I feel no temptation. I shall never take pleasure again in seeing extraordinary feats performed by animals, which I shall suppose to have been learned at the expense of their ease and comfort.
MR. HARCOURT. The dun-birds are frequently taken in a different manner. It is usual for these birds to rise in vast numbers of an evening, after having reposed upon the water all day. The decoy-man, acquainted
with the time of their taking wing, watches the proper moment, and draws a very wide net across the pond, which is supported by poles of fifty feet high. The leaders in the flight, impeded in their progress by the entanglement of the nets, fall back, and obstruct the passage of those that follow them; whilst they, in their turn, do the same to those behind them. Confusion ensues; and being heavy, and unable to rise again when once beaten down, they become an easy prey to the men, who stand on the bank of the pond, prepared to take and destroy them. Their number contributes to their destruction. Seventy dozen have been taken by this means in one night. The produce of a season is almost beyond calculation.
CECILIA. Is this what Mr. Chadwick meant, when he spoke of driving wild-fowl in the fens of Lincolnshire?
MR. HARCOURT. That is practised only in the months of July and August, during the moulting season, whilst the birds are deprived of their wing feathers, which prevents them