The history of four-footed beasts and serpents describing at large their true and lively figure, their several names, conditions, kinds, virtues ... countries of their breed, their love and hatred to mankind, and the wonderful work by Edward Topsell ; whereunto is now added, The theater of insects, or, Lesser living creatures ... by T. Muffet ...
Topsell, Edward, 1572-1625?, Topsell, Edward, 1572-1625? Historie of serpents., Gesner, Konrad, 1516-1565. Historia animalium Liber 1. English., Gesner, Konrad, 1516-1565. Historia animalium Liber 5. English., Moffett, Thomas, 1553-1604. Insectorum sive minimorum animalium theatrum. English., Rowland, John, M.D.
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Of theBEAVER → Male and Female.

A Beaver → is called in Greek, Castor; in Latine, Fiber; in Italian, Bivarro, or Bivero, and Ilcastoreo;* in Spanish, Castor; in French, Bieure, and sometime Castor; in Illyrian, Bobr; in Germain, Biber: all which words at the first sight seem to be derived from the Latine: There is no certain word for it in Hebrew: in Arabia it is called Albednester: it is also called in Latine, Canis Ponticus, but Ca∣nis Fluviatilis, is another Beast, as we shall manifest in the succeeding discourse of an Otter: and the reason why in Latine it is called Fiber, is, because (as Varro saith) it covereth the sides, banks, or extre∣mities * of the river, as the extremities or laps of the ear and liver are called Fibrae, and the skirts of garments Fimbriae: but the reason why the Graecians call it Castor, is not as the Latines have supposed, because it biteth off his own stones, quasi castandro seipsum, as shall be manifested soon after, but of Castrando, because for the stones thereof it is hunted and killed; or rather of Gaster, signifying a bel∣ly, for that the body is long and almost all belly; or rather because of the colour & ill savour thereof.

This Beaver → is no other then that which Aristotle calleth Latax, and it differeth from an Otter onlyPage  35in the tayl. Some compare a

Beaver → with a Badger, but they attribute to him a longer body and smoother hair, but short∣er and softer then a Badgers: their colour is somewhat yel∣low and white, aspersed with ash-colour, which stand out beyond the shorter hairs, dou∣ble their length: they are neat and soft like unto an Otters, and the hairs length of the one and others colour, is not equal. Some have seen them brown de∣clining to black, which Albertus preferreth, and Silvius affirm∣eth, that his long hairs are like a Dogs, and the short ones like an Otter. They are most plen∣tiful * in Pontus, for which cause it is called Gais Ponticus, they are also bred in the Rivers of Spain, and in the River M〈…〉 in France; Padus, in Italy; in Sa∣voy, in the Rivers Isara and *Rhoan, and in the Island called Camargo, and in Helvetia, ner Arula, Ʋrsa and Limagus: Like∣wise throughout all Germany, Polonia, Sclavonia, Russia and Prussia: and there are Beavers in the woods of Mosco and Li∣tuani, of excellent perfection and stature, above others, having longer white hairs which glister above other. These beasts live both in the water * and on the land, for in the day time they keep the water, and in the night they keep the land, and yet without water they cannot live, for they do parti∣cipate much of the nature of fishes, as may be well consi∣dered by their hinder legs and tail.

Their quantity is not much * bigger then a Countrey Dog, their head short, their ears ve∣ry small and round, their teeth very long▪ the under teeth standing out beyond their lis three fingers breadth, and the upper about half a finger▪ be∣ing very broad, crooked, strong and sharp, standing; or grow∣ing double very deep in their mouth, bending compass like the edge of an Axe, and their colour yellowish red, where with they defend themselves against beasts, take fishes as it were upon books, and will gaw in sunder trees as big as a mans thigh: they have also grinding teeth very sharp, wherein are certain wrickles or folds, 〈◊〉 that they seem to be made for grinding some hard substance, for with them they eat the rindes or bark of trees; wherefore the biting of this beast is very deep, being able to 〈◊〉 a〈…〉 the hardest bones, and commonly 〈…〉ever loseth his hold, untill he feeleth his teeth g〈…〉 one against other. Plioy and Solinus affirm, that the 〈…〉∣son so bitten cannot be cured, except he hear the rashing of the teeth; which take to be an opi∣nion without truth.

Page  36They have certain hairs about their mouth,

which seem in their quantity or bigness to be rather horn they are so hard, but their bones are most hard of all and without marrow: Their forefeet are like a Dogs, and their hin∣der like a Gooses, made as it were of purpose to go on the land, and swim in the water, but the tail of this beast is most strange of all, in that it cometh nearest to the nature of fishes, being without hair, and covered over with a skin like the scales of fish, it being like a soal, and for the most part six fingers broad and half a foot long, which some have affirm∣ed the beast never pulleth out of the water; whereas it is manifest, that when it is very cold, or the water frozen he pulleth it up to his body, although Agricola affirm, that his hinder legs and tail, freeze with the water; and no lesse untrue is the assertion, that they compell the Otter in time of cold and frost, to wait upon their tail, and to trouble the water so that it may not freeze round about them; but yet the Beaver → holdeth the Otter in sub∣jection, and either overcometh it in fight, or killeth it with his teeth.

This tail he useth for a stern when he swim∣meth after fish to catch them. There hath been taken of them whose tails have weighed four pound weight, and they are accounted a very delicate dish; for being dressed they eat like Barbles: they are used by the Lotha∣ringians and Savoyans for meat allowed to be eaten on fish-dayes, although the body that beareth * them be flesh and unclean for food. The manner of their dressing is, first roasting, and afterward seething in an open pot, that so the evill vapor may go away, and some in pottage made with Saffron; other with Ginger, and many with Brine; it is certain that the tail and forefeet tast very sweet, from whence came the Proverbe, That sweet is that fish, which is not fish at all.

These beasts use to build them Caves or Dens neer the Waters, so as the Water may come into * them, or else they may quickly leap into the water, and their wit or natural invention in building of their Caves is most wonderful: for you must understand that in the night time they go to land, and there with their teeth gnaw down boughes and trees which they likewise bite very short fitting their purpose, and so being busied about this work, they will often look up to the tree when they perceive it almost asunder, thereby to discern when it is ready to fall, lest it might light upon their own pates: the tree being down and prepared, they take one of the oldest of their company, whose teeth could not be used for the cutting, (or as others say, they constrain some strange Beaver → whom they meet withal) to fall flat on his back (as before you have heard the Badgers do) and upon his belly lade they all their timber, which they so ingeniously work and fasten into the compasse of his legs that it may not fall, and so the residue by the tail, draw him to the water side, where these buildings are to be framed: and this the rather seemeth to be true, because there have been some * such taken, that had no hair on their backs, but were pilled; which being espied by the hunters, in pity of their slavery, or bondage, they have let them go away free.

These beasts are so constant in their purpose, that they will never change the tree that they have once chosen to build withal, how long time so ever they spend in biting down the same; it is like∣wise to be observed; that they never go to the same, during the time of their labour, but in one and * the same path, and so in the same return to the water again. When they have thus brought their wood together, then dig they a hole or ditch in the bank side, where they underset the earth to * bear it up from falling, with the aforesaid timber; and so they proceed, making two or three rooms like several chambers, one above another, to the intent that if the water rise they may go further, and if it fall they may descend unto it. And as the husbandmen of Egypt do observe the buildings of the Crocodile, so do the inhabitants of the Countrey where they breed, observe the Beavers, that when they build high, they may expect an inundation, and sow on the Mountains; and when they build low, they look for a calm or drought, and plow the vallies. There is nothing so worthy 〈◊〉 this beast as his stones, for they are much sought after and desired by all Merchants, so that they will give for them any great price.

There is both in male and female, certain bunches under their belly as great as great as a Gooses egge, which some have unskilfully taken for their code; 〈◊〉 between these is the secret or priv〈…〉 part of both sexes; which tumours or bunches are nothing else, but a little fleshie bag within a little thin skin, in the middle whereof is a hole or passage, out of the which the beast sucketh a certain liquor, and after∣wardPage  37therewith anointeth every part of her body that she can reach with her tongue. Now it is very * plain that these bunches are not their cods; for these reasons; Because that there is no passage either of the seed into them, or from them into the yard: Besides, their stones are found within their body; neither ought this to seem strange, seeing that Hares have the like bunches, and also the Moschus or Musk-cat: the female hath but one passage for all her excrements, and to conceive or bring forth young ones.

It hath been an opinion of some, that when a Beaver → is hunted and is in danger to be taken, she biteth off her own stones, knowing that for them only her life is sought, which caused Alciatus to make this Emblem,

Et pedibus segnis, tumida & propendulus alvo; *
Hac tamen insidias effugit arte fiber:
Mordicus ipse sibi medicata virilia vellit:
Atque abjicit sess gnarus ob illa peti.
Hujus ab exemplo disces non parcere rebus,
Et vitam ut redimas hostibus aera dare.

Teaching by the example of a Beaver → , to give our purse to theeves, rather then our lives, and by our wealth to redeem our danger, for by this means the Beaver → often escapeth. There have been many of them found that wanted stones, which gave some strength to this errour, but this was exploded in ancient time for a fable; and in this and all other honest discourses of any part of Phi∣losophy, the only mark whereat every good student and professor ought to aime, must be verity and not tales; wherein many of the ancient have greatly offended (as is manifested by Marcellus Virgili∣us) especially Plato: and this poyson hath also crept into and corrupted the whole body of Religi∣on. The Egytians in the opinion of the aforesaid Castration, when they will signifie a man that hur∣teth himself, they picture a Beaver → biting off his own stones. But this is most false, as by Sertius, Pli∣nius,*Dioscorides; and Albertus, is manifested. First, because their stones are very small, and so placed in their body as are a Boars, and therefore impossible for them to touch or come by them. Second∣ly; they cleave so fast unto their back, that they cannot be taken away but the beast must of necessity lose his life; and therefore ridiculous is their relation, who likewise affirm, that when it is hunted (having formerly bitten off his stones) that he standeth upright and sheweth the hunters that he hath none for them, and therefore his death cannot profit them, by means whereof they are averted and seek for another.

These Beavers eat fish, fruits, and the bitter rindes of trees, which are unto them most delicate, * especially Aldern, Poplar, and Willow; whereupon it is proverbially said, of one that serveth ano∣ther for gain: Sic me subes quotidie ut fiber salicem; you love me as the Bever doth the Willow, which eateth the bark and destroyeth the tree.

They are taken for their skins, tails, and cods, and that many wayes; and first of all when their * Calves are found, there is made a great hole or breach therein, whereinto is put a little Dog, which the beast espying, flyeth to the end of her den, and there defendeth her self by her teeth, till all her structure or building be rased, and she laid open to her enemies, who with such instruments as they have preset, beat her to death: some affirm that she rouzeth up her body, and by the strong savour of * her stones she driveth away the Dogs; which may be probable, if the stones could be seen. These Dogs are the same which hunt wild fowl and Otters.

It is reported that in Prussia they take them in bow-nets, baited with the rinde of trees, whereinto * they enter for the food, but being entrapped cannot go forth again. They cannot dive long time un∣der water but must put up their heads for breath, which being espied by them that beset them, they kill them with gun-shot, or pierce them with Otters speares, so that one would think seeing such a one in the water, that it was some hairy kind of fish; and his nature is, if he hear any noise to put his head above water, whereby he is discovered and loseth his life. His skin is pretious in Polonia, either for garment, or for Gloves, but not so pretious as an Otters, yet it is used for the edging of all other fur garments, making the best shew and enduring longest; they are best that are blackest, and of the bellies which are like felt wool, they make caps and stockings against rain and foul weather.

The medicinall vertues of this beast are in the skin, the urine, the gall and the cods: and first, a * garment made of the skins, is good for a Paralytick person; and the skins burned with dry Onions and liquid pitch, stayeth the bleeding of the nose, and being put into the soles of shooes easeth the Gowt. The urine preserved in the bladder, is an antidote against poyson: and the gall is profita∣ble for many things, but especially being turned into a glew it helpeth the falling evill. The ge∣nitals of a Beaver → are called by the Physitians Castoreum, and therefore we will in this discourse use * that word for expressing the nature, qualities, remedies, and miraculous operation thereof, where∣fore they must be very warily and skilfully taken forth, for there is in a little skin compassing them about a certain sweet humor (called Humor Melleus) and with that they must be cut out, the utter skin being cut asunder to make the more easie entrance, and the Apothecaries use to take all the fat about them, which they put into the oil of the Castoreum, and sell it unto fisher-men to make bait for fishes. The females have stones or Castoreum, as well as the males, but very small ones. Now you must take great heed to the choise of your Beaver → , and then to the stones whichPage  38must grow from one root conjoyned, otherwise they are not precious, and the beast must neither be a young one nor one very old, but in the mean betwixt both, being in vigor and perfection of strength.

The Beavers of Spain yeeld not such virtuous Castoreum as they of Pontus, and therefore if it be * possible, take a PontiqueBeaver → , next one of Gallatia, and lastly of Africk. Some do corrupt them putting into their skin Gum and Ammoniack with blood, other take the reins of the beast, and so make the Castoreum very big, which in it self is but small. This beast hath two bladders, which I remember not are in any other living creature, and you must beware that none of these be joyned to the Castoreum. You may know if it be mingled with Ammoniack by the tast, for although the colour be like, yet is the savour different. Platearius sheweth, that some adulterate Castoreum, by taking off his skin, or some cod newly taken forth of another beast, filling it with bloud, sinews and the powder of Castoreum, that so it may not want his strong smell or favour: other fill it with earth and bloud: other with bloud, rosen, gum, sinews and pepper, to make it tast sharp: but this is a falsi∣fication discernible, and of this sort is the Castoreum which is sold in Venice, as Brasovala affirmeth: and the most of them sold at this day are bigger then the true Castoreum, for the just weight of the right stones is not above twelve ounces and a half, one of them being bigger then the other, be∣ing six fingers breadth long, and four in breadth. Now the substance contained in the bag is yellowish, solid like wax, and sticking like glew, not sharp and cracking betwixt the teeth (as the counterfeit is). These stones are of a strong and stinking savour, such as is not in any other, but not rotten and sharp, as Grammarians affirm; yer I have smelled of it dryed, which was not un∣pleasant, and things once seasoned with the savour thereof, will ever tast of it, although they have not touched it, but lie covered with it in the same box or pot; and therefore the Castoreum of Persia is counterfeit, which hath no such smell, for if a man smell to the right Castoreum, it will draw bloud out of his nose.

After it is taken forth from the beast, it must be hung up in some place to be dryed in the shadow, and when it is dry, it is soft and white: it will continue it strength six years, and some say seven; the Persians affirm, that their Castoreum will hold his virtue ten years, which is as false as the matter they speak of is counterfeit. Archigenes wrote a whole book of the virtue of this Castoreum, whereunto they may resort, that require an exact and full declaration of all his medicinal operati∣ons: it shall only be our purpose, to touch some general heads, and not to enter into a particular discovery thereof.

Being so dryed as is declared, it must be warily used, for it falleth out herein as in other medici∣nal subjects, that ignorance turneth a curing herb or substance, into a venemous and destructive quality; therefore we will first of all set down the dangers to be avoided, and afterward some par∣ticular cures that come by the right use of it. Therefore it must be understood that there is poyson * in it, not naturally, but by accident, as may be in any other good and wholesome matter: and that especially in the smell or savour thereof, whereunto if a woman with childe do smell, it will kill the childe unborn and cause abortment; for a womans womb is like a creature, nourished with good favours, and destroyed with evill: therefore burning of feathers, shoo-soles, woollen clothes, pitch, Galbanum, gum, onions, and garlick is noysom to them. It may be corrupted not only as is before declared; but also, if it be shut up close without vent into pure aire, when it is hanged up to be dryed, or if the bag be kept moist, so that it cannot dry; and it is true (as Avicen saith) that if it: be used being so corrupted, it killeth within a dayes space, driving one into madness, making the sick person continually to hold forth his tongue, and infecting him with a Fever by inflaming the body, loosing the continuity of the parts, through sharp vapors arising from the stomach: and for a proof that it will inflame, if you take a little of it mingled with oil, and rub upon any part of the body, or upon your nail, you shall feel it.

But there is also a remedy for it being corrupted; namely, Asses milk mingled with some sharp syrup of Citron, or if need require, drink a dram of Philons Antidote at the most; or take but∣ter and sweet water which will cause vomit, and vomit therewith so long, as you feel the savour of the stone, and afterward take syrup of Limmons or Citrons: and some affirm upon experience, that two penny weight of Coriander-seed, scorched in the fire, is a present remedy for this evill. And it is most strange, that seeing it is in greatest strength, when the favour is hottest, which is very displeasing to a mans nature in outward appearance, yet doth it never harm a man taken inwardly, (being pure and rightly compounded) if the person be without a Fever, for in that case only it doth hurt inwardly, otherwise apply it to a moist body lacking refrigeration, or to a cold body wanting excalfaction, or to a cold and moist body, you shall perceive an evident commodity thereby, if there be no Fever: and yet it hath profited many where the Fever hath not been over hot, as in Extasies and Lethargies, ministred with white Pepper, and Melicrate, and with Rose cakes laid to the neck or head. The same virtues it hath being outwardly applyed and mingled with oil, if the bodies be in any heat, and purely without oil, if the body be cold, for in heating it holdeth the third degree, and in drying the second. The manner how it is to be administred is in drink, for the most part, the sweet liquor being taken from it, and the little skins appearing therein cleansed away, and so it hath among many other these operations following. Drunk with Vinegar, it is good against all venom of Serpents, and against the Chameleon, but with this difference, against the Scor∣pion with wine, against Spiders with sweet water, against the Lizzards with Myrtite, against Dipsas and Cerastes, with Oponax, or wine made of Rew, and against other-Serpents with wine simply.Page  39Take of every one two drams, for a cold take it a scruple and a half in four cups of wine, used * with Ladanum, it cureth the Fistulaes and Ulcers, provoking sneezing by smelling to it; procureth sleep, they being anointed with it; Maiden-weed and Conserve of Roses, and being drunk in water, helpeth Phrensie, and with the Roses and Maiden-weed aforesaid, easeth head-ach; being laid to the head like a plaister, it cureth all cold and windy affections therein; or if one draw in the smoak of it perfumed, though the pain be from the mothers womb, and given in three cups of sweet Vinegar fasting, it helpeth the Falling sickness, but if the person have often fits, the same given in a Glyster, giveth great ease: Then must the quantity be two drams of Castoreum, one sextary of honey and oil, and the like quantity of water, but in the fit it helpeth with Vinegar by smelling to it. It helpeth the Palsie, taken in Rew or wine, sod in Rew, so also all heart trembling, ach in the stomach, and quaking of the sinews. It being infused into them that lie in Lethargies with Vinegar and Conserve of Roses doth presently awake them, for it strengthneth the brain, and moveth sternu∣tation. It helpeth oblivion coming by reason of sickness, the party being first purged with Hiera Ruffi, Castoreum, with oil bound to the hinder part of the head, and afterward a dram drunk with M〈…〉rate, also taken with oil, cureth all Convulsion proceeding of cold humors, if the Convul∣sion be full and perfect, and not temporal or in some particular member, which may come to passe in any sickness.

The same mixed with hony helpeth the clearness of the eyes, and their inflamations; likewise used with the juice of Popy, and infused to the ears, or mixed with hony, helpeth all pains in them. With the seed of Hemlocks beaten in Vinegar, it sharneth the sense of hearing, if the cause be cold, and it cureth toothach infused into that ear with oil on which side the pain resteth; for Hippocrates sent unto the wife of Aspasius (complaining of the pain in her cheek and teeth) a little Castoreum with Pepper, advising her to hold it in her mouth betwixt her teeth. A perfume of it drawn up into the head and stomach, easeth the pains of the lights and intrails, and given to them that sigh much with sweet Vinegar fasting, it recovereth them. It easeth the Cough, and distil∣lations of rhume from the head to the stomach, taken with the juyce of black Popy. It is preserva∣tive against inflamations and pains in the guts or belly (although the belly be swoln with cold windy humors) being drunk with Vinegar, or Oyxycrate; it easeth the Colick being given with Annis beaten small, and two spoonfuls of sweet water; and it is found by experiment, that when a horse cannot make water, let him be covered over with his cloth, and then put underneath him a fire of coals, wherein make a perfume with that Castoreum till the Horses belly and cods smell * thereof, then taking away the coals, walk the horse up and down covered, and he will present∣ly stale.

To soften the belly they use Castoreum with sweet water two drams, and if it be not forcible enough, they take the root of a set Cucumber one dram, and the some of Salt Peter two drams. It is also used with the juice of Withy and decoction of Vinegar applyed to the reins and genital parts like a plaister against the Gonorrhaean passion. It will stir up a womans monethly courses, and cause an easie travail, two drams being drunk in water with Penny-royal. And if a Woman with childe go * over a Beaver → , she will suffer abortment; and Hippocrates affirmeth, that a perfume made with Casto∣reum, Asses dung, and Swines grease, openeth a closed womb.

There is an Antidote called Diacostu, made of this Castoreum, good against the Megrim, Falling sickness, Apoplexies, Palsies, and weakness of lims, as may be seen in Myrepsus: against the impoten∣cy of the tongue, trembling of the members, and other such infirmities. These vertues of a *Beaver thus described, I will conclude this discourse with a History of a strange beast like unto this, related by Dunranus Campus-bellus (a noble Knight) who affirmed, that there are in Arcadia, seaven great lakes some 30 miles compass, and some lesse, whereof one is called Garloil, out of which in Anno 1510 about the midst of Summer, in a morning came a beast about the bigness of a water Dog, having feet like a Goose, who with his tail easily threw down small trees, and present∣ly with a swift pace he made after some men that he saw, and with three strokes he likewise over∣threw three of them, the residue climbing up into trees escaped, and the beast without any long tarrying, returned back again into the water, which beast hath at other times been seen, and it is observed, that this appearance of the Monster, did give warning of some strange evils upon the Land: which story is recorded by Hector Boethius.

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