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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/829

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THE BEAVER EATER.

channels the conveyancing of the kingdom largely flowed, and the livery of seisin dropped into comparative desuetude. By later statutes, principally of the present reign, the ceremony and many of its related rules have been finally abolished. It was never practiced to any considerable extent in this country, which was not colonized until after the statute of uses.

Although the idea that there could be no estate in land without possession was so inextricably interwoven with the doctrines of the common law that escape from its meshes was impossible except by resort to legislation, the popular conceptions upon the subject, being comparatively unhampered, underwent necessarily a much more rapid change, so that in the popular sense or judgment interests in land, independently of the possession, existed centuries before it was possible for them to receive legal recognition. Finally, even to the most technical of lawyers, the old view came to seem like scarcely more than a legal fiction. In its direct applications it has now almost disappeared from our law. Its effects are simply ineffaceable. The time will never be when the legal doctrines of the English-speaking race will not still present numberless peculiarities of structure inherited from this prolific old juristic root.

 

THE BEAVER EATER.
By HORACE T. MARTIN, F.Z.S., Etc.

A VOCABULARY of the Chippeway Indians in J. Long's Voyages and Travels (1791) conveys a slight knowledge of the fur trader's vernacular of just a century ago. The records offer many attractions to the naturalist, acquainting him with the curious Indian names for animals, together with their English equivalents, and exhibiting the original forms of many words familiar now only in a modified or corrupted state. In this vocabulary the Indian word quickwahay is translated "beaver eater," and neither of the terms being current to-day in natural history, they suggest a field for investigation.

To discover the truths which are the foundation of most fables is a task both useful and interesting, and the curious facts which underlie the fabulous history of the animal about to receive our consideration illustrate this rule in an extreme degree.

If a bad name be sufficient excuse for hanging a dog, what should be the fate of that animal whose evil names outnumber his digits? Probably no animal has ever possessed a longer list of synonyms, and none could possibly possess worse. The first written accounts of our subject date back to Olaus Magnus