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.

The second picture taken by John Kentmant, and it is her fashion and and protracture to lie thus when she is angry, for so doth her colour appear both on the back and belly.


THis Beast is called in Latine, Cricetus, and in the German tongue Hamester, Traner, and *Krnfaerle, that is, Pigs of the corn. It is a little Beast, not much bigger then a Rat, dwel∣ling in the earth of the roots of corn, she is not drawn against her will out of her Cave at any time, but by pouring hot water or some other liquor. The head of it is of divers co∣lour, * the back red, the belly white, and the hair sticketh so fast to the skin, that it is ea∣sier to pull the skin from the flesh, then any part of the hair from the skin. It is but a little Beast as we have said, but very apt to bite and fight, and full of courage, and there∣fore hath received from nature this ornament and defence, that it hath a bony helmet, co∣vering the head and the brain when it standeth up upon the hinder-legs: It resembleth both in colour and proportion a Bear. And for this cause some Writers have interpreted itPage  412to be the Beast called Arctomys, thus described by Saint Jerom. It is a creature (saith he) abound∣ing * in the Regions of Palestina, dwelling always in the holes of Rocks and Caves of the earth, not exceeding the quantity of a Hedgehog, and of a compounded fashion, betwixt a Mouse and a Bear.

But we have shewed already, that this is the Alpine Mouse, and therefore we will not stand to confute it here. The name Cricetus seems to be derived from the Illyrian word, which we read in Gelenius to be Skuzecziek: this Beast, saith he, is common in the Northern parts of the world, and also in other places, in figure and shape it resembleth a Bear, in quantity it never exceedeth a great Sorex. It hath a short tail, almost like no tail, it goeth upon two legs, especially when it is moved to wrath. It useth the fore-feet in stead of hands, and if it had as much strength, as it hath cou∣rage, it would be as fierceful as any Bear. For this little Beast is not afraid to leap into the Hunt∣ers * face, although it can do no great harm either with teeth or nails. It is an argument that it is exceeding hot, because it is so bold and eager. In the uppermost chap it hath long and sharp teeth, growing two by two. It hath large and wide cheeks, which they always fill, both carrying in, and carrying out, they eat with both, whereupon a devouring fellow, such a one as Stasimus a servant to Plautus was, is called Cricetus, a Hamster, because he filleth his mouth well, and is no ping∣ler at his meat.

The fore-feet are like a Moulds, so short, but not altogether so broad, with them he diggeth the * earth, and maketh his holes to his den, but when he diggeth so far as he cannot cast the earth out of the hole with them, then he carryeth it forth in his mouth. His Den within he maketh large, to receive corn, and provision of fruit for his sustentation, whereinto he diggeth many holes, wind∣ing and turning every way, that so he may be safe both against Beasts that hunt him, and never be killed in his Den: And also if a man dig the earth, he may finde his lodging with more difficulty. In the harvest time he carryeth in grain of all sorts, and my Author saith, Neque minus in colligendo industrius, quam in eligendo, conservandoque est astutus, optima enim reponit. He is no less industrious in the gathering of his provision, then crafty and politick in the choise, and keeping it, for it lays up the best; and lest that it should rot under the earth, it biteth off the fibres and tail of the grain, laying up the residue amongst grass and stubble.

It lies gaping over his gathered grain, even as the covetous man is described in the Satyre sleep∣ing upon his mony bags. It groweth fat with steep like Dormice, and Conies. The holes into the Cave are very narrow, so that with sliding out and in, they wear their hair. The earth which cometh out of their holes doth not lie on heaps like Mole-hils, but is dispersed abroad, and that is fittest for the multitude of the holes, and all the holes and passages are covered with earth: but that hole which for the most part he goeth out at, is known by a foot path, and hath no hinder∣ance in it, the other places at which she goeth out are more obscure and hid, and she goeth out of them backwards. The male and female do both inhabit in one Cave, and their young ones being brought forth, they leave their old Den and seek them out some new habitation. In the male there is this perfidity, that when they have prepared all their sustenance, and brought it in, he doth shut out the female, and fuffereth her not to approach nigh it, who revengeth his perfidiousness by deceit. For going into some adjoyning Cave, she doth likewise partake of the fruits which were laid up in store by some other secret hole in the Cave, the male never per∣ceiving it.

So that nature hath wonderfully, fore-seen the poverty of all creatures: neither is it otherwise amongst men, for that which they cannot do by equity, they perform by fraud. This also cometh in the speech of the common people against one that will thrive. The young Country wenches concerning this matter, do chant out a verse not unpleasant, which I am contented to express in Iam∣bicks, consisting of four feet:

Hamester ipse cum sua▪
Prudens catus{que} conjuge,
Stipat profundum pluribus
Per tempus antrum frugibus,
Possitque solus ut frui,
Lectis acervis hordei
Avarus antro credulam
Extrudit arte conjugem.
Serva, inquit, exiens foras,
Coeli serena & pluvias.
Sed foeminis quis insitam,
Vincant dolis astutiam?
Nevum parans cuniculum,
〈…〉ratur omne triticum.
Egens maritus perfidam
Quaerit per antra conjugem,
Nec se repellat blandulis
Demulce inventam sunis,
Ille esse jam communia
Servata dum sinit bona.
At perfidus multiplices
Opponit intus obices.
Rursus fruuntur mutuis
Antris, cibis, amplexibus.

This Beast doth devour all kinde of fruit, and if he be nourished in a house he eateth bread and * flesh: he also hunteth the field Mice. When he taketh his meat, he raiseth himself upon his fore-feet: he is also wont with his fore-feet to stroke his head, ears, and mouth, which thing the Squirrel and the Cat do also, and as the Beaver amongst those creatures which live as well by water as by land: but although in his body he seemeth but small, notwithstanding he is by 〈◊〉 apt to fight, and very furious being provoked, with his carriage in his mouth: he beatethPage  413away with both his feet that which resisteth him, directly invading his enemy: In the spirit and as∣saulting * of his mouth he is wayward and threatning, from whence our Country men were accustomed to say of any one which was angry; he breatheth his wrath out of his mouth like a Hamster: Du spruest vuie ein Hamster: neither is he easily affrighted, although he be far unequal unto those in strength with whom he is in combate.

Wherefore some do give it in the place of a Proverb, that our Countrymen do call a man which is madly rash, Ein tollen Hamster, as foot-hardy as a Hamster. He flieth from any one that doth sharply resist him, and doth greedily follow after them that flie from him. I my self saw one of these, who by assaulting a Horse gat him by the nose, and would never leave his hold until he was killed with a sword: He is taken by divers means, for he is expelled either by hot water poured into his den, or * is choaked within; or being digged up with a mattock or spade he is killed; or by Dogs. He is some-times pulled out by the Fox, or hurt: or oppressed by some snare, a great weight being put about it: or to conclude, he is taken by Art alive, and that in the night time, when he goeth to seek his prey, for in the day time for the most part he lyeth hid.

Before his usual Cave (as I have said) he is taken by the path which is worn, by a pot which is put into the earth, and afterward made plain about it like other places of the field; there is earth cast into the bottom of the pot to the deepness of two fingers, above every where covering the pot there is placed a stone, which is held up by a piece of wood, to which there is bound below a fragment of bread: In the space between the Cave and the pot there are crums of bread scattered, which he following and leaping into the pot, the wood falling, he is taken. Being taken after the manner of other beasts, he toucheth no food. If a broad stone, such an one with which they cover pavements, or of which they make roof tiles, shall be joyned unto the pot, and the beast be taken, he will be very hardly known in the morning; for the spirit of the beast being shut in, and waxing wroth, piercing for thinness doth moisten the stone. The skins of Hamsters are very durable, of which there are cer∣tain * long coats which come down unto the heels, and divers coloured cloaks made, which the wo∣men of Misena and Silesia do use, and account them very honorable, of a black and red colour, with broad guards or edges of the skins of Otters: the same coats are for the most part valued at the price of fifteen or twenty Renensian crowns: for it doth out-wear in length three or four garments made either of linnen or woollen cloath.

In Turingia and Misena this beast is frequent, notwithstanding not in all places, for in Turingia his chiefest abode is about Efurdanus, and Salcensis in Misena, about Lipsia, and the field Pegensis, the plentifullest and most fertilest places of both those Regions. In Lusatia about Radeburge, he is dig∣ged out of those places where Painick groweth. At Mulberge and Albis, he is found in the Vineyards, for he is also fed with ripe Grapes. Our Country men are wont to burn a living Hamster in a pot, being shut, for the medicines of Horses. It hath been seen that one of these hath leaped up and caught a Horse by the nose, never letting go his hold until she was cut off with a sword. The skin is of three or four different colours, besides the spotted sides, and therefore the skin is very pretious. They abound in Turingia where the soil is good, and there is also great store of grain.