The Migrations of the Lemmings

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ALTHOUGH I have dwelt among the Lemmings for many years, and paid great attention to their migrations, I have thought it might be more satisfactory to my readers to record the result of an interview with a captive member of the tribe, as recorded by the aid of a phonograph, assisted by a certain legitimate amount of amplification which the poverty of the language necessitates. This, however, I am convinced is what my little prisoner intended to say. “I am amused by the reasons men give for our sudden appearances and inexplicable migrations. But, although I do not see why I should enlighten you on either of these points, especially as you would probably only stick the harder to your own opinion, I will venture to ask whether you think we cross wide lakes, the opposite shores of which are quite invisible to us, in order to find the food which we thus abandon; indeed, though I fear I am somewhat letting what you call the cat out of the bag by saying it, I have often wondered why I myself did not wander along the green shores of Heimdalsvand and down the valley amid sweet grasses and clover, instead of swimming across to barren Valders, and getting caught by you for my pains. But, after all, it is no worse than when my friends the swallows leave their flies, and even their families, and start on their travels, when the impulse seizes them, whilst the former are still plentiful, and the latter not yet ungrateful. So I feel indignant at the suggestion that we travel because we are overcrowded and underfed at home. I admit that our temper as a race is somewhat short; it has been impaired by incessant bullying. Dogs, wolves, and lynxes eat us wholesale; and the reindeer disgustingly declare that we are a mere bag of succulent saur-kraut. Shadows annoy us, and you men have even invoked spiritual weapons to aid your carnal implements of destruction. But let me seriously advise you not to fling about inappropriate epithets; our customs are at least as good as your own, and probably somewhat older, for we too have had an ancestry, and noblesse oblige. Enough; let me out; I want to get on.”

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DUPPA-CROTCH, W. The Migrations of the Lemmings. Nature 52, 149 (1895) doi:10.1038/052149a0

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