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from escaping from the spaniel, that is well trained to the employment. The nets are set in creeks or narrow places, and the wild-fowl being put up by the dóg, and unable to fly from him, are driven immediately into them; or sometimes the dog seizes them, and brings them unhurt to the feet of his master. They are taken alive, and yield considerable profit to the poor inhabitants of fenny countries. Though, at the time, they are lean and out of flesh, they presently become fat and welltasted, by feeding upon liver, barley, scalded bran, &c. and are then thought by epicures to have a higher flavour, than either tame ducks bred in a farm-yard, or wild ones in their natural state.
SOPHIA. Has the dun-bird any resemblance to the common wild-duck?
MRS. HARCOURT. The bird known by that name is the ferina or pochard, called, by Ray, the red-headed widgeon. It has a leadcoloured bill: the head and neck are of a bright grey colour: the breast, and part of the back, where it joins the neck, are black: the tail consists of twelve short feathers, of a
deep grey: the legs are lead-coloured, and the inside of them a bright yellow, tinged with red. The head of the female is of a pale reddish brown. In the winter season they frequent our fens, and augment the number of delicacies found in the London markets, forming an article of commerce that enriches three descriptions of persons. The decoyowner consigns them, in considerable numbers, to a wholesale trader, who retails them to the poulterer, for the accommodation of his customers. During the course of the winter, especially if it prove severe, they advance pretty far to the south, being found in the neighbourhood of Grand Cairo, in Egypt. They migrate into France towards the end of October, in small flocks, from twenty to forty, and are also seen in the winter at Carolina. Their flight is rapid and strong, adapted to such long journeys; but the flocks form no regular shape in flying, and they chiefly live upon small fish and shells.
CECILIA. The benefit arising from the wild-fowl that frequent fenny countries, must tend to counterbalance the many disadvan
tages of living in such swampy places, where neither corn nor fruits can be expected to repay the labour of the peasant.
SOPHIA. Have you forgotten that every country is favoured with its peculiar treasure; that even Greenland is possessed of riches peculiar to its climate and situation?
CHARLES. One considerable source of support to the inhabitants of fens, is the profit produced by the multitudes of tame geese that are reared there. Mr. Chadwick says, that one person will possess one thousand breeding geese, from each of which he may depend upon bringing up seven young ones. Thus his stock will be increased to eight thousand by the end of the season.
MR. HARCOURT. The possessors of these flocks do not rely only upon the demand for the use of the table, but upon the feathers, for their principal gain. Vast numbers, howsever, are sent annually to London, under the care of drivers, for the supply of the markets. The superannuated geese and ganders are got rid of by mixing them with the others; but as their flesh is exceedingly tough and
rancid, it cannot be supposed that the purchasers of these ancestors of so many descendants will be well satisfied with their bargain. They have recourse to the barbarous method of plucking, in order to obtain the feathers; and this operation is performed five times in the year. About the latter end of March they are plucked for feathers and quills; and they undergo the same discipline four times, between that period and the latter end of September, for feathers only.
HENRY. Does plucking the geese in this manner give them much pain?
MR. HARCOURT. The noise and resistance made by the young ones, upon this occasion, show that the sensation is disagreeable; whilst the patient submission of those which have frequently suffered it, proves that it is not exquisitely painful. The cruelty of the custom does not consist only in giving present uneasiness; but by depriving these poor creatures of their natural defence against the cold, numbers of them perish in consequence, if severe weather ensue.
CHARLES. You will be surprised to hear of the care that is taken of the tame geese in the fens in Lincolnshire, during the breeding The owner of them prepares coarse wicker pens, made of the osiers which abound in those marshy situations, and places three rows of them, in tiers, one above another, in every apartment of his house. In these pens the geese sit and hatch their broods; each bird keeping possession of its own nest, without interfering with that of another. They are regularly, every morning and evening, driven to water, by a person called a gozzard, which signifies goose-herd, whose office it is to watch them, and, at their return, to replace those geese which occupy the upper stories, in their proper lodges.
SOPHIA. Do the tame and the wild goose belong to the same species?
MR. HARCOURT. They were originally the
The influence of domestication alone has caused the tame ones to differ from the parent stock. The grey lag, or wild goose, is two feet nine inches in length, and five feet in extent. The bill is large and elevated, of