Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/70

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60
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

of suffering would have been prevented; that prosperity which we now enjoy would have commenced much sooner; and our present condition would have been one of far greater power, wealth, happiness, and morality. . . .The moral course proves to be the politic one."[1]


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HABITS OF THE BOX TORTOISE.

By ALFRED GOLDSBOROUGH MAYER, M. E.

WITH DRAWINGS BY THE AUTHOR.

WHO has not been charmed by the many quaint and interesting narratives of the habits of animals, left to us by that father of English natural history Gilbert White? The philosopher vicar, far from the troubled world, among the peaceful beauties of Selborne, devoted a long life to the study of nature. Among his favorite pets was "the old tortoise" named Timothy; and many a letter to the Honorable Daines Barrington gives minute and careful descriptions of its peculiar actions and intelligence. There is a joyful ring in the old gentleman's tone when he finds the tortoise "distinguishes the hand that feeds it, and is touched with the feelings of gratitude"; again, we find him lost in wonder at its extreme old age; or marveling that an animal so completely protected should have such fear of rain as to crowd against the stone wall and close itself up. Then the vicar's head bows sadly, with the air of a melancholy Jacques, as he watches his pet's amorous wanderings in early summer.

PSM V38 D070 The box tortoise.jpg

Fig. 1. — The Box Tortoise. (Side view.)

In America we also have a land tortoise, whose ways and modes of life are quite as interesting as those of White's Timothy. It is a little creature not more than five and a half inches long when full grown. No two individuals are marked alike. Before

  1. Essays: Moral, Political, and Esthetic.