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a flesh-colour tinged with yellow: the head and neck ash-coloured; breast and belly whitish, clouded with grey; the back grey also; and the legs of a flesh-colour. This species resides in the fens the whole year, breeds there, and hatches about eight or nine at a brood, which are frequently taken and brought up tame: their flesh is reckoned higher flavoured than that of the domestic goose. When wild, the goose lays but once in a year: good keeping will cause the tame goose to rear two broods; and if the eggs be taken away in succession, she will produce a sufficient number for three. In the management of animals, as in many other instances, art improves upon nature; the design of which is obviously to stimulate the industry and ingenuity of man. Although, towards winter, they collect in great flocks, they remain in the fens in all seasons. On the continent they are migratory, passing from one place to another in flocks of several hundreds; the whole forming a triangle, proceeding with the point foremost, and headed by a cons ductor, which tiring sooner than the rest,
retires behind, and leaves his place to be filled by another. When they journey in small companies, they follow one another in a direct line. It is supposed that they are natives of all countries, being found in every part of the globe.
SOPHIA. I have heard that geese live to a great age.
Instances are related of
MR. HARCOURT. their attaining to eighty or a hundred years. AUGUSTA. What induces the Lincolnshire goose-owners to deprive them of their feathers in so wanton a manner?
Interest is the inducement; as you will perceive, when I tell you that the pens upon the table are the quills taken from the wing of that bird. Our beds and pillows are stuffed with their feathers, which require a preparation for that purpose, by drying them well in the sun; and when the juices, which would cause them to rot and putrify, are all exhausted, they are put into bags, and the dust beaten out of them with poles. Feathers form a considerable article of commerce, even between distant
'countries. Eider down, so much valued, on account of its lightness and warmth, for quilts and mattresses, is imported into England from Denmark, and grows beneath the feathers, upon the breasts of those ducks that inhabit Hudson's Bay, Greenland, Iceland, and Norway. Dantzic supplies us with a great quantity of cock and hen feathers. The down of the swan is brought from the same place, and, from its snowy whiteness, makes beautiful muffs and tippets. The ostrich feathers, used at the installation of the knights of the garter, are valued at a high price, which I suppose is caused by their scarcity. Muffs made of feathers of various kinds, are beautiful, warm, and light. Sophia, 'can you recollect any part of the conversation that passed a few days ago, upon the mechanism of feathers, and their peculiar -suitableness, as clothing, to the inhabitants of the air?
SOPHIA. Nothing could be contrived so well adapted to the use for which they are designed. They form an elegant and com
modious covering for birds, defending them against cold and wet, assisting them, by their warmth, to hatch their young, and protect them against the inclemencies of the weather. Their glossy smoothness promotes their progress through the air easily and uninterruptedly, being placed with exquisite neatness, from head to tail, one folding over another with the closest uniformity. As a preservative to this nicety, the feathered tribes, especially water-fowl, are furnished with a little. bag, situated near the tail, containing an oily or unctuous matter, with which they prune and dress their feathers. A soft down lies close to the body, beneath the feathers, which preserves the bird from cold: it possesses none of the compactness and strength of those on the outside, that are exposed to wind and weather.
CECILIA. I admire when I observe the exactness of birds in dressing their feathers. A quarter of an hour spent in the aviary has animated me frequently to greater neatness and regularity in my own person.
MRS. HARCOURT. A lesson seasonably bestowed. You are too much inclined, my dear Cecilia, to be inattentive to that refined nicety which is the best ornament to female beauty.
SOPHIA. The construction of the quillfeathers is admirably adapted to their use. The shaft or rib is exceedingly strong, which empowers it to resist the air; but the lower part of it is hollow; and that above, but little inferior to it in strength, is filled with pith. The vanes, or webs, by which I mean those feathers that grow like fringes upon each side of the quill, are wonderfully contrived to catch hold of, or clasp one another, and form an even, resisting surface, when the wing is expanded, so that not a single feather is deprived of its full force and impulse upon the air. The outward vane is narrow and bending downwards; whilst the inward one is broad and turning upwards, by which it unites with the exterior vane of the next quill, which spreads over it. The tips are all sloping, those of the interior vanes inclining to a point, towards the outer part of the wing,