Full text: Bacon, Francis: Sylva sylvarum

The Black bird is reported to be, amongſt the leſſer birds, one of the longeſt livers; an unhappy bird, and a good ſinger.



The Sparrow is noted to be of a very short life; and it is imputed in the Males to their
laſciviouſneſs. But the Linnet, no bigger in body than the Sparrow, hath been obſerved
to have lived twenty years.



Of the Eſtrich we have nothing certain: thoſe that were kept here have been ſoun-
fortunate, that no long life appeared by them. Of the bird Ibis we find onely that he
liveth long, but his years are not recorded.



The age of Fiſhes is more uncertain than that of terreſtrial Creatures, becauſe
living under the water they are the leſs obſerved: many of them breath not, by which
means their vital ſpirit is more cloſed in; and therefore though they receive ſome re-
frigeration by their Gills, yet that refrigeration is not ſo continual as when it is by



They are free from the Deſiccation and Depredation of the Air ambient, becauſe they
live in the water: yet there is no doubt but the water ambient, and piercing, and received
into the pores of the body, doth more hurt to long life than the Air doth.



It is affirmed too that their blood is not warm. Some of them are great devourers,
even of their own kind. Their fleſh is ſofter and more tender than that of terreſtrial
creatures: they grow exceedingly fat, inſomuch that an incredible quantity of Oyl will
be extracted out of one Wh [?] ale.



Dolphins are reported to live about thirty years; of which thing a trial was taken in
ſome of them by cutting off their tails: they grow untill ten years of age.



That which they report of ſome Fiſhes is ſtrange, that after a certain age their bodies
will waſte and grow very ſlender, onely their head and tail retaining their former



There were found in Cæſar’s Fiſh ponds Lampreys to have lived threeſcore years: they were grown ſo familiar with long uſe, that craſſus the Orator ſolemnly lamented
one of them.



The Pike amongſt Fishes living in fresh water is found to laſt longeſt, ſometimes to
forty years: he is a Ravener, of a flesh ſome what dry and firm.



But the Carp, Bream, Tench, Eel, and the like, are not held to live above ten



Salmons are quick of growth, short of life; ſoare Trouts: but the Pearch is ſlow of
growth, long of life.



Touching that monſtrous bulk of the Whale or Ork, how long it is weiled by vital
ſpirit, we have received nothing certain; neither yet touching the Sea-calf, and Sea-hog,
and other innumerable Fiſhes.



Crocodiles are reported to be exceeding long-liv’d, and are famous for the time of their
growth, for that they, amongſt all other Creatures, are thought to grow during their
whole life. They are of thoſe Creatures that lay Eggs, ravenous, cruel, and well-fenced
againſt the waters, Touching the other kinds of Shell-fiſh, we find nothing certain how
long they live.



53. Obſervations.

TO find out a Rule touching Length and Shortneſs of Life in Living Creatures is very
difſicult, by reaſon of the negligence of Obſervations, and the intermixing of Cauſes. A
few things we will ſet down.

There are more kinds of Birds found to be long liv’d than of Beaſts; as the Eagle, the
Vulture, the Kite, the Pelican, the Raven, the Crow, the Swan, the Gooſe, the Stork, the
Crane, the Birdcalled the Ibis, the Parrot, the Ring dove, with the reſt, though they come
to their full growth within a year, and are leſs of bodies: ſurely their cloathing is excellent
good againſt the diſtemper atures of the weather; and beſides, living for the moſt part in the
open Air, they are like the Inhabitants of pure Mountains, which are long-liv’d. Again,
their Motion, which (as I elſe-where ſaid) is a mixt Motion, compounded of a moving of
their Limbs and of a carriage in the Air, doth leſs weary and wear them, and’tis more whol-
ſome. Neither do they ſuffer any compreſſion or want of nouriſhmentin their mother’s bel-
lies, becauſe the Eggs are laid by turns. But the chiefeſt cauſe of all I take to be this, that
Birds are made more of the ſubſtance of the Mother than of the Father, whereby their Spirits
are not ſo eager and hot.



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