The dwelling of the hamster, says an imaginative writer, is the perfect image of the social household and the cordial understanding of civilized married couples. The male and female at first get along harmoniously in pillaging the public in general, discord, as in civilization, only coming at the moment of dividing the spoils.
The male, delighted to use the labor of his wife in filling the storehouse, the moment winter sets in, attempts to drive her from the conjugal abode. Obliged to run before superior strength, she appears to leave forever, but digs a sideway, and thus enjoys the treasure.
So far the practice is too true of many latitudes, but the fanciful theorist locates his ideas and himself in France, when he adds, "The female does more, she obtains the assistance of a comrade, and the two, profiting by the torpor of the gorged husband inside, strangle and eat him, and thus set up housekeeping over his remains."
The Archbishop of Mayence, so says an old German legend, bought up all the corn of the surrounding country, and stored it in his castle, situated upon one of the many beautiful islands in the Rhine. The famine he thus occasioned extended not only to the human inhabitants, but reached the greedy hamsters. Scenting the treasure of the wicked bishop afar off, they joined together in great multitudes, swam across to his palace, and in one night devoured him from off the face of the earth.
-- I never knew hamsters were such devious operators. From an article on the rodentia species titled "The Gnawers," Harper's Magazine (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1856) vol. 12, pp.756-63.