One instance of each orang-otang and ourang-outang, left as in original text.
Printed by Ballantyne, Hanson & Co.
At the Ballantyne Press
|Are Beasts mere Machines?||76||Making Sure||16|
|Ass Cast Away, An||196||Maternal Affection||116|
|Assisting the Aged||144||Mice as Navigators||54|
|B||Monkey versus Snake||160|
|Bear and Child, The||48||More Faithful than Favoured||68|
|Bear Cubs, The||184||Mother Watching her Young, A||88|
|Broken Heart, The||62||Musical Mice||162|
|Calculating Crow, A||56||N|
|Canine Sheep-Stealer, A||38||Newfoundland Dog, The||4|
|Canine Smugglers||36||Newsman Extraordinary, A||182|
|Carrier’s Dog, A||170||Noble Perseverance||186|
|Cat and Crows, The||26|
|Catcher Caught, The||188||O|
|Charitable Canary, A||166||Odd Fraternity||34|
|Child Saved, A||200||Of Two Evils Choosing the Least||156|
|Choice Retaliation, A||82||Old Habits||192|
|Comedy of Quadrupeds, A||64||Ostrich Riding||80|
|Concerts of Animals||90||Oyster Opening||146|
|Conversing Parrot, A||20|
|Cunning as a Fox||66||Philosophic Cat, A||194|
|Pig Pointer, The||118|
|D||Porus Saved by his Elephant||58|
|Death of Antiochus Revenged, The||52||Power of Music, The||18|
|Deceiving the Fowler||190||Providential Safe Conduct, A||72|
|Dinner Bell, The||30||Pugnacity||168|
|Division of Labour||150|
|Dog and Goose, The||40||R|
|Dog of Montargis, The||46||Rare Honesty||154|
|Dolphin, The||50||Refugee Squirrel, A||178|
|Domesticated Seal, A||122||Remorse||2|
|E||Rights of Hospitality, The||102|
|Elephant Rope Dancing||70|
|Escape of Jengis Khan||176||S|
|Sabinus and his Dog||42|
|Faithful Companion, A||8||Sense of Ridicule, A||112|
|False Alarm, A||10||Shepherd’s Dog, The||130|
|Filial Duty||28||Shrewd Guesser, A||96|
|Foraging||132||Singular Foster-Mother, A||128|
|Fox Chasing||174||Singular Interposition, A||32|
|Sly Couple, A||110|
|Generous Revenge, A||74||Soliciting Succour||164|
|Goat, The||86||Sonnini and his Cat||148|
|Going to Market||134||Strange Mouser, A||14|
|Good Finder, A||106||Strange Rooks||126|
|Grateful Lioness, A||104||Studying||6|
|Grateful Return, A||142|
|H||Tame Colony, A||98|
|Heroism of a Hen, The||24||Tame Hares||140|
|Honours Paid to Living and Departed Worth||198||Tame Sea-gull, The||114|
|Horse and Greyhound, The||84||Travellers||92|
|I||Usurper Punished, An||100|
|Watch Dog, The||94|
|L||Wrens Learning to Sing||44|
|Lion and his Keeper, The||136|
|Long Lost Found Again||78|
An elephant, from some motive of revenge, killed his cornack, or conductor. The man’s wife, who beheld the dreadful scene, took her two children, and threw them at the feet of the enraged animal, saying, “Since you have slain my husband, take my life also, as well as that of my children.” The elephant instantly stopped, relented, and as if stung with remorse, took up the eldest boy with his trunk, placed him on its neck, adopted him for his cornack, and would never afterwards allow any other person to mount it.
One of the magistrates in Harbour Grace, in Newfoundland, had an old dog of the regular web-footed species peculiar to that island, who was in the habit of carrying a lantern before his master at night, as steadily as the most attentive servant could do, stopping short when his master made a stop, and proceeding when he saw him disposed to follow. If his master was absent from home, on the lantern being fixed to his mouth, and the command given, “Go fetch thy master,” he would immediately set off and proceed directly to the town, which lay at the distance of more than a mile from the place of his master’s residence: he would then stop at the door of every house which he knew his master was in the habit of frequenting, and laying down his lantern, growl and strike the door, making all the noise in his power until it was opened; if his master was not there, he would proceed farther in the same manner, until he had found him. If he had accompanied him only once into a house, this was sufficient to induce him to take that house in his round.
A magpie, belonging to a barber at Rome, could imitate to a nicety almost every word it heard. Some trumpets happened one day to be sounded before the shop, and for a day or two afterwards the magpie was quite mute, and seemed pensive and melancholy. All who knew it were greatly surprised at its silence; and it was supposed that the sound of the trumpets had so stunned it, as to deprive it at once of both voice and hearing. It soon appeared, however, that this was far from being the case; for the bird had been all the time occupied in profound meditation, studying how to imitate the sound of the trumpets; and when at last master of it, the magpie, to the astonishment of all its friends, suddenly broke its long silence, by a perfect imitation of the flourish of trumpets it had heard; observing with the greatest exactness all the repetitions, stops, and changes. The acquisition of this lesson had, however, exhausted the whole of the magpie’s stock of intellect; for it made it forget everything it had learned before.
A gardener, in removing some rubbish, discovered two ground toads of an uncommon size, weighing no less than seven pounds. On finding them, he was surprised to see that one of them got upon the back of the other, and both proceeded to move slowly on the ground towards a place of retreat; upon further examination he found that the one on the back of the other had received a severe contusion from his spade, and was rendered unable to get away, without the assistance of its companion!
Some years ago, a soldier doing duty at the castle of Cape Town, kept a tame baboon for his amusement. One evening it broke its chains unknown to him. In the night, climbing up into the belfry, it began to play with, and ring the bell. Immediately the whole place was in an uproar; some great danger was apprehended. Many thought that the castle was on fire; others, that an enemy had entered the bay, and the soldiers began actually to turn out, when it was discovered that the baboon had occasioned the disturbance. On the following morning a court-martial was held, when Cape justice dictated, that whereas the baboon had unnecessarily put the castle into alarm, the master should receive fifty lashes; the soldier, however, found means to evade the punishment.
The captain of a Greenland whaler being anxious to procure a bear, without wounding the skin, made trial of the stratagem of laying the noose of a rope in the snow, and placing a piece of meat within it. A bear ranging the neighbouring ice was soon enticed to the spot by the smell of the dainty morsel. He perceived the bait, approached, and seized it in his mouth; but his foot at the same time, by a jerk of the rope, being entangled in the noose, he pushed it off with his paw, and deliberately retired. After having eaten the piece he had carried away with him, he returned. The noose, with another piece of meat, being replaced, he pushed the rope aside, and again walked triumphantly off with his capture. A third time the noose was laid; but excited to caution by the evident observations of the bear, the sailors buried the rope beneath the snow, and laid the bait in a deep hole dug in the centre. The bear once more approached, and the sailors were assured of their success. But bruin, more sagacious than they expected, after snuffing about the place for a few moments, scraped the snow away with his paw, threw the rope aside, and again escaped unhurt with his prize.
A gentleman once had in his possession a hen, which answered the purpose of a cat in destroying mice. She was constantly seen watching close to a corn rick, and the moment a mouse appeared, she seized it in her beak, and carried it to a meadow adjoining, where she would play with it like a young cat for some time, and then kill it. She has been known to catch four or five mice a day in this manner.
During the war between Augustus Cæsar and Marc Antony, when all the world stood wondering and uncertain which way Fortune would incline herself, a poor man at Rome, in order to be prepared for making, in either event, a bold hit for his own advancement, had recourse to the following ingenious expedient. He applied himself to the training of two crows with such diligence, that he brought them the length of pronouncing with great distinctness, the one a salutation to Cæsar, and the other a salutation to Antony. When Augustus returned conqueror, the man went out to meet him with the crow suited to the occasion perched on his fist, and every now and then it kept exclaiming, “Salve, Cæsar, Victor Imperator!” “Hail, Cæsar, Conqueror and Emperor!” Augustus, greatly struck and delighted with so novel a circumstance, purchased the bird of the man for a sum which immediately raised him into opulence.
One Sunday evening, five choristers were walking on the banks of a river; after some time, being tired with walking, they sat down on the grass, and began to sing an anthem. The field on which they sat was terminated at one extremity by a wood, out of which, as they were singing, they observed a hare to pass with great swiftness towards the place where they were sitting, and to stop at about twenty yards’ distance from them. She appeared highly delighted with the harmony of the music, often turning up the side of her head to listen with more facility. As soon as the harmonious sound was over, the hare returned slowly towards the wood; when she had nearly reached the end of the field, the choristers began the same piece again; at which the hare stopped, turned round, and came swiftly back to about the same distance as before, where she seemed to listen with rapture and delight, till they had finished the anthem, when she returned again by a slow pace up the field, and entered the wood.
During the government of Prince Maurice in Brazil, he had heard of an old parrot that was much celebrated for answering like a rational creature many of the common questions put to it. It was at a great distance; but so much had been said about it that the prince’s curiosity was roused, and he directed it to be sent for. When it was introduced into the room where the prince was sitting, in company with several Dutchmen, it immediately exclaimed in the Brazilian language, “What a company of white men are here!” They asked it, “Who is that man?” (pointing to the prince). The parrot answered, “Some general or other.” When the attendants carried it up to him, he asked it, through the medium of an interpreter (for he was ignorant of its language), “Whence do you come?” The parrot answered, “From Marignan.” The prince asked, “To whom do you belong?” It answered, “To a Portuguese.” He asked again, “What do you there?” It answered, “I look after chickens.” The prince laughing, exclaimed, “You look after chickens!” The parrot in answer said, “Yes, I; and I know well enough how to do it;” clucking at the same time in imitation of the noise made by the hen to call together her young.
The prince afterwards observed that although the parrot spoke in a language he did not understand, yet he could not be deceived, for he had in the room both a Dutchman who spoke Brazilian, and a Brazilian who spoke Dutch; that he asked them separately and privately, and both agreed exactly in their account of the parrot’s discourse.
A priest once brought up an ourang-outang, which became so fond of him that, wherever he went, it was always desirous of accompanying him. Whenever therefore he had to perform the service of his church, he was under the necessity of shutting it up in his room. Once, however, the animal escaped, and followed the father to the church; where silently mounting the sounding-board above the pulpit, he lay perfectly still till the sermon commenced. He then crept to the edge, and overlooking the preacher, imitated all his gestures in so grotesque a manner, that the whole congregation were unavoidably urged to laugh. The father, surprised and confounded at this ill-timed levity, severely rebuked his audience for their inattention. The reproof failed in its effect; the congregation still laughed, and the preacher in the warmth of his zeal redoubled his vociferation and his action; these the ape imitated so exactly that the congregation could no longer restrain themselves, but burst out into a loud and continued laughter. A friend of the preacher at length stepped up to him, and pointed out the cause of this improper conduct; and such was the arch demeanour of the animal that it was with the utmost difficulty he could himself command his gravity, while he ordered the servants of the church to take him away.
A contest of rather an unusual nature took place in the house of a respectable innkeeper in Ireland. The parties concerned were, a hen of the game species, and a rat of the middle size. The hen, in an accidental perambulation round a spacious room, accompanied by an only chicken, the sole surviving offspring of a numerous brood, was roused to madness by an unprovoked attack made by a voracious cowardly rat on her unsuspecting chirping companion. The shrieks of the beloved captive, while being dragged away by the enemy, excited every maternal feeling in the affectionate bosom of the feathered dame; she flew at the corner whence the alarm arose, seized the lurking enemy by the neck, writhed him about the room, put out one of his eyes in the engagement, and so fatigued her opponent by repeated attacks of spur and bill, that in the space of twelve minutes, during which time the conflict lasted, she put a final period to the nocturnal invader’s existence; nimbly turned round, in wild but triumphant distraction, to her palpitating nestling, and hugged it in her victorious bosom.
A pair of crows once made their nest in a tree, of which there were several planted round the garden of a gentleman, who, in his morning walks, was often amused by witnessing furious combats between the crows and a cat. One morning the battle raged more fiercely than usual, till at last the cat gave way, and took shelter under a hedge, as if to wait a more favourable opportunity of retreating into the house. The crows continued for a short time to make a threatening noise; but perceiving that on the ground they could do nothing more than threaten, one of them lifted a stone from the middle of the garden, and perched with it on a tree planted in the hedge, where she sat, watching the motions of the enemy of her young. As the cat crept along under the hedge, the crow accompanied her, flying from branch to branch, and from tree to tree; and when at last puss ventured to quit her hiding-place, the crow, leaving the trees and hovering over her in the air, let the stone drop from on high on her back.
A surgeon’s mate on board a ship relates that while lying one evening awake he saw a rat come into his berth, and after well surveying the place, retreat with the greatest caution and silence. Soon after it returned, leading by the ear another rat, which it left at a small distance from the hole which they entered. A third rat joined this kind conductor; they then foraged about, and picked up all the small scraps of biscuit; these they carried to the second rat, which seemed blind, and remained in the spot where they had left it, nibbling such fare as its dutiful providers, whom the narrator supposes were its offspring, brought to it from the more remote parts of the floor.
It is customary in large boarding-houses to announce the dinner-hour by the sound of a bell. A cat belonging to one of these houses always hastened to the hall on hearing the bell, to get its accustomed meal; but it happened one day that she was shut up in a chamber, and it was in vain for her that the bell had sounded. Some hours after, having been released from her confinement, she hastened to the hall, but found nothing left for her. The cat thus disappointed got to the bell, and sounding it, endeavoured to summon the family to a second dinner, in which she doubted not to participate.
A lady had a tame bird which she was in the habit of letting out of its cage every day. One morning as it was picking crumbs of bread off the carpet, her cat, who always before showed great kindness for the bird, seized it on a sudden, and jumped with it in her mouth upon a table. The lady was much alarmed for the fate of her favourite, but on turning about instantly discerned the cause. The door had been left open, and a strange cat had just come into the room! After turning it out, her own cat came down from her place of safety, and dropped the bird without having done it the smallest injury.
A gentleman travelling through Mecklenburg was witness to the following curious circumstance in an inn at which he was staying. After dinner, the landlord placed on the floor a large dish of soup, and gave a loud whistle. Immediately there came into the room a mastiff, a fine Angora cat, an old raven, and a remarkably large rat with a bell about its neck. These four animals went to the dish, and without disturbing each other, fed together; after which the dog, cat, and rat lay before the fire, while the raven hopped about the room.
In the Netherlands, they use dogs of a very large and strong breed, for the purpose of draught. They are harnessed like horses, and chiefly employed in drawing little carts with fish, vegetables, &c., to market. Previous to the year 1795, such dogs were also employed in smuggling; which was the more easy, as they are exceedingly docile. The dogs were trained to go backwards and forwards between two places on the frontiers, without any person to attend them. Being loaded with little parcels of goods, lace, &c., like mules, they set out at midnight, and only went when it was perfectly dark. An excellent quick-scented dog always went some paces before the others, stretched out his nose towards all quarters, and when he scented custom-house officers, turned back, which was the signal for immediate flight. Concealed behind bushes, or in ditches, the dogs waited till all was safe, then proceeded on their journey, and reached at last beyond the frontier the dwelling-house of the receiver of the goods, who was in the secret. But here, also, the leading dog only at first showed himself; on a certain whistle, which was a signal that all was right, they all hastened up. They were then unloaded, taken to a convenient stable, where there was a good layer of hay, and well fed. There they rested until midnight, and then returned in the same manner back, over the frontiers.
A shepherd, who was hanged for sheep-stealing, used to commit his depredations by means of his dog. When he intended to steal any sheep, he detached the dog to perform the business. With this view, under pretence of looking at the sheep, with an intention to purchase them, he went through the flock with the dog at his foot, to whom he secretly gave a signal, so as to let him know the particular sheep he wanted, perhaps to the number of ten or twelve, out of a flock of some hundreds; he then went away, and from a distance of several miles, sent back the dog by himself in the night time, who picked out the individual sheep that had been pointed out to him, separated them from the flock, and drove them before him, frequently a distance of ten or twelve miles, till he came up with his master, to whom he delivered up his charge.
A goose was once observed to attach itself in the strongest and most affectionate manner to the house dog, but never presumed to go into the kennel except in rainy weather; whenever the dog barked, the goose would cackle, and run at the person she supposed the dog barked at, and try to bite him by the heels. Sometimes she would attempt to feed with the dog; but this the dog, who treated his faithful companion with indifference, would not suffer. This bird would not go to roost with the others at night, unless driven by main force; and when in the morning they were turned into the field, she would never stir from the yard gate, but sit there the whole day in sight of the dog. At length orders were given that she should no longer be molested; being thus left to herself, she ran about the yard with him all night, and what is particularly remarkable, whenever the dog went out of the yard and ran into the village, the goose always accompanied him, contriving to keep up with him by the assistance of her wings, and in this way of running and flying, followed him all over the parish. This extraordinary affection of the goose towards the dog, which continued till his death, two years after it was first observed, is supposed to have originated in his having saved her from a fox, in the very moment of distress.
While the dog was ill, the goose never quitted him, day or night, not even to feed; and it was apprehended that she would have been starved to death had not a pan of corn been set every day close to the kennel. At this time the goose generally sat in the kennel, and would not suffer any one to approach it, except the person who brought the dog’s, or her own food. The end of this faithful bird was melancholy; for when the dog died, she would still keep possession of the kennel, and a new house dog being introduced, which in size and colour resembled that lately lost, the poor goose was unhappily deceived, and going into the kennel as usual, the new inhabitant seized her by the throat and killed her.
After the execution of Sabinus, the Roman general, who suffered death for his attachment to the family of Germanicus, his body was exposed to the public upon the precipice of the Gemoniæ, as a warning to all who should dare to befriend the house of Germanicus: no friend had courage to approach the body; one only remained true—his faithful dog. For three days the animal continued to watch the body; his pathetic howlings awakened the sympathy of every heart. Food was brought him, which he was kindly encouraged to eat; but on taking the bread, instead of obeying the impulse of hunger, he fondly laid it on his master’s mouth, and renewed his lamentations; days thus passed, nor did he for a moment quit the body.
The body was at length thrown into the Tiber, and the generous creature, still unwilling that it should perish, leaped into the water after it, and clasping the corpse between its paws, vainly endeavoured to preserve it from sinking.
A wren built her nest in a box, so situated that a family had an opportunity of observing the mother bird instructing the young ones in the art of singing peculiar to the species. She fixed herself on one side of the opening in the box, directly before her young, and began by singing over her whole song very distinctly. One of the young then attempted to imitate her. After proceeding through a few notes, its voice broke, and it lost the tune. The mother immediately recommenced where the young one had failed, and went very distinctly through the remainder. The young bird made a second attempt, commencing where it had ceased before, and continuing the song as long as it was able; and when the note was again lost, the mother began anew where it stopped, and completed it. Then the young one resumed the tune and finished it. This done, the mother sang over the whole series of notes a second time with great precision; and a second of the young attempted to follow her. The wren pursued the same course with this as with the first; and so with the third and fourth. It sometimes happened that the young one would lose the tune three, four, or more times in the same attempt; in which case the mother uniformly began where they ceased, and sung the remaining notes; and when each had completed the trial, she repeated the whole strain. Sometimes two of the young commenced together. The mother observed the same conduct towards them as when one sang alone. This was repeated day after day, and several times in a day.
A Frenchman of family and fortune, travelling alone through a forest, was murdered and buried under a tree. His dog, an English bloodhound, would not quit his master’s grave, till at length, compelled by hunger, he proceeded to the house of a friend of his master’s, and by his melancholy howling seemed desirous of expressing the loss they had both sustained. He repeated his cries, ran to the door, looked back to see if any one followed him, returned to his master’s friend, pulled him by the sleeve, and with dumb eloquence entreated him to go with him.
Struck by these actions, the company decided to follow the dog, who led them to a tree where he began scratching the earth and howling. On digging, the body of the unhappy man was found.
Some time after, the dog accidentally met the assassin; when instantly seizing him by the throat, he was with great difficulty compelled to quit his prey. As the dog continued to pursue and attack his master’s murderer, although docile to all others, his behaviour began to attract notice and comment.
At length the affair reached the king’s ear, who sent for the dog, who appeared extremely gentle till he saw the murderer, when he ran fiercely towards him, growling at and attacking him as usual.
The king, struck with such a collection of circumstantial evidence, determined to refer the decision to the chance of battle; in other words, he gave orders for a combat between the assassin and the dog. The lists were appointed, and the man was allowed for his weapon a great cudgel.
An empty cask was given to the dog as a place of retreat, to enable him to recover breath. The dog finding himself at liberty ran around his adversary, avoiding his blows, and menacing him on every side, till his strength was exhausted; then springing forward, he gripped him by the throat, threw him on the ground, and obliged him to confess before the king and the whole court. The assassin was afterwards convicted and beheaded.
Leopold, Duke of Lorraine, had a bear called Marco, of the sagacity and sensibility of which we have the following remarkable instance. During a severe winter, a boy, ready to perish with cold, thought proper to enter Marco’s hut, without reflecting on the danger which he ran in exposing himself to the mercy of the animal which occupied it. Marco, however, instead of doing any injury to the child, took him between his paws, and warmed him by pressing him to his breast until the next morning, when he suffered him to depart. The boy returned in the evening to the hut, and was received with the same affection. For several days he had no other retreat, and it added not a little to his joy, to perceive that the bear regularly reserved part of his food for him. A number of days passed in this manner without the servants knowing anything of the circumstance. At length, when one of them came one day to bring the bear his supper, rather later than ordinary, he was astonished to see the animal roll his eyes in a furious manner, and seeming as if he wished him to make as little noise as possible, for fear of awaking the child, whom he clasped to his breast. The animal, though ravenous, did not appear the least moved with the food which was placed before him. The report of this extraordinary circumstance was soon spread at court, and reached the ears of Leopold; who, with part of his courtiers, was desirous of being satisfied of the truth of Marco’s generosity. Several of them passed the night near his hut, and beheld with astonishment that the bear never stirred as long as his guest showed an inclination to sleep. At dawn the child awoke, was very much ashamed to find himself discovered, and, fearing that he would be punished for his rashness, begged pardon. The bear, however, caressed him, and endeavoured to prevail on him to eat what had been brought to him the evening before, which he did at the request of the spectators, who conducted him to the prince. Having learned the whole story, Leopold ordered care to be taken of the little boy, who would doubtless have soon made his fortune, had he not died a short time after.
In the reign of Augustus Cæsar there was a dolphin in the Lucrine lake, which formed a most romantic attachment to a poor man’s son. The boy had to go every day from Baiæ to Puteoli to school, and such were the friendly terms on which he had got with the dolphin, that he had only to wait by the banks of the lake and cry, Simo, Simo, the name he had given to the animal, when, lo! Simo came scudding to the shore, let fall the sharp prickles of his skin, and gently offered his back for the boy to mount upon. The boy, nothing afraid, used to mount instantly, when the dolphin, without either rein or spur, would speed across the sea to Puteoli, and after landing the young scholar, wait about the vicinity till he was returning home, when it would again perform the same sort of civil service. The boy was not ungrateful for such extraordinary favour, and used every day to bring a good store of victuals for Simo, which the animal would take from his hand in the most tame and kindly manner imaginable. For several years this friendly intercourse was kept up; it was, in fact, only terminated by the death of the boy; when, as the story goes, the dolphin was so affected at seeing him return no more, that it threw itself on the shore, and died, as was thought, of very grief and sorrow!
When Antiochus was slain in battle by Centaretrius the Galatian, the victor exultingly leaped on the back of the fallen king’s horse; but he had no sooner done so, than the animal, as if sensible that it was bestrode by the slayer of his master, instantly exhibited signs of the greatest fury, and bounding forwards to the top of a lofty rock, with a speed which defied every attempt of Centaretrius to disengage himself, leaped with him over the precipice, at the foot of which both were found dashed to pieces.
Although there are few who would dispute the cleverness and sagacity of the larger animals, it is doubtful if there are many who credit the mouse with even average intelligence. The following instance may go far to raise our humble friend in the popular estimation; more especially as it has been vouched for by eye-witnesses. In countries where berries are but thinly dispersed, these little animals are obliged to cross rivers to make their distant forages. In returning with their booty to their magazines, they are obliged to recross the stream; in doing which they show an ingenuity little short of marvellous. The party, which consists of from six to ten, select a water-lily leaf, or some other floating substance, on which they place the berries on a heap in the middle; then, by their united force, bring it to the water’s edge, and after launching it, embark and place themselves round the heap, with their heads joined over it, and their backs to the water. In this manner they drift down the stream, until they reach the opposite shore, when they unload their cargo, which they store away for the proverbial rainy day.
A carrion crow, perceiving a brood of fourteen chickens under the care of the parent-hen, on a lawn, picked up one; but on a young lady opening the window and giving an alarm, the robber dropped his prey. In the course of the day, however, the plunderer returned, accompanied by thirteen other crows, when every one seized his bird, and carried off the whole brood at once.
King Porus, in a battle with Alexander the Great, being severely wounded, fell from the back of his elephant. The Macedonian soldiers, supposing him dead, pushed forward, in order to despoil him of his rich clothing and accoutrements; but the faithful elephant, standing over the body of its master, boldly repelled every one who dared to approach, and while the enemy stood at bay, took the bleeding Porus up with his trunk, and placed him again on his back. The troops of Porus came by this time to his relief, and the king was saved; but the elephant died of the wounds which it had received in the heroic defence of its master.
Some years ago, an ass was employed at Carisbrook Castle, in the Isle of Wight, in drawing water by a large wheel from a very deep well, supposed to have been sunk by the Romans. When the keeper wanted water, he would say to the ass, “Tom, my boy, I want water; get into the wheel, my good lad;” which Thomas immediately performed with an alacrity and sagacity that would have done credit to a nobler animal; and no doubt he knew the precise number of times necessary for the wheel to revolve upon its axis, to complete his labour, because every time he brought the bucket to the surface of the well, he constantly stopped and turned round his honest head to observe the moment when his master laid hold of the bucket to draw it towards him, because he had then a nice evolution to make, either to recede or to advance a little. It was pleasing to observe with what steadiness and regularity the poor animal performed his labour.
During the French Revolution M. des R——, an ancient magistrate and most estimable man, was condemned to death on the charge of conspiracy and thrown into prison. M. des R—— had a water spaniel, which had been brought up by him, and had never quitted him. Refused admission to the prison, he returned to his master’s house, and found it shut; he took refuge with a neighbour. Every day at the same hour the dog left the house, and went to the door of the prison. He was refused admittance, but he constantly passed an hour before it, and then returned. His fidelity at length won over the porter, and he was one day allowed to enter. The dog saw his master and clung to him. The gaoler with difficulty forced him away. He came back the next morning, and every day; once each day he was admitted. He licked the hand of his friend, looked him in the face, again licked his hand, and went away of himself.
After the execution, at which the dog was present, he walked by the side of the corpse to its burial-place, and after the ceremony laid himself upon the grave. There he passed the first night, the next day, and the second night. The neighbour in the meantime, unhappy at not seeing him, goes in search of his friend, finds him by his master’s grave, caresses him, and makes him eat. An hour afterwards the dog escaped, and regained his favourite place. Three months passed away, each morning of which he came to seek his food, and then returned to the grave of his master; but each day he was more sad, more meagre, more languishing. He was chained up, but broke his fetters; escaped; returned to the grave, and never quitted it more. It was in vain that they tried to bring him back. They carried him food, but he ate no longer. For hours he was seen employing his weakened limbs in digging up the earth that separated him from his master. Passion gave him strength, and he gradually approached the body; at last his faithful heart gave way, and he breathed out his last gasp, as if he knew that he had found his master.
In a play exhibited at Rome, in the reign of Tiberius, there were twelve elephant performers, six males and six females, clothed in fancy costume. After they had, at the command of their keeper, danced and performed a thousand curious antics, a most sumptuous feast was served up for their refreshment. The table was covered with all sorts of dainties, and golden goblets filled with the most precious wines; and beds covered with purple carpets were placed around for the animals to lie upon, after the manner of the Romans when feasting. On these carpets the elephants laid themselves down, and at a given signal they reached out their trunks to the table, and fell to eating and drinking with as much propriety as if they had been so many honest citizens.
An American gentleman was in pursuit of foxes, accompanied by two bloodhounds; the dogs were soon in scent, and pursued a fox nearly two hours, when suddenly they appeared at fault. The gentleman came up with them near a large log lying upon the ground, and felt much surprised to find them taking a circuit of a few rods without an object, every trace of the game seeming to have been lost, while they kept still yelping. On looking about him, he discovered sly Reynard stretched upon the log, apparently lifeless. The master made several efforts to direct the attention of his dogs towards the fox but failed; at length he approached so near the artful object of his pursuit as to see him breathe. Even then no alarm was exhibited; and the gentleman seizing a club, aimed a blow at him, which Reynard evaded by a leap from his singular lurking-place, having thus for a time effectually eluded his rapacious pursuers.
A gentleman once possessed a mastiff which guarded the house and yard, but had never met with the least particular attention from his master. One night, as his master was retiring to his chamber, attended by his faithful valet, an Italian, the mastiff silently followed him upstairs, which he had never been known to do before, and, to his master’s astonishment, presented himself in his bedroom. He was instantly turned out; but the poor animal began scratching violently at the door, and howling loudly for admission. The servant was sent to drive him away; still he returned again, and was more importunate than before to be let in. The gentleman, weary of opposition, bade the servant open the door, that they might see what he wanted to do. This done, the dog deliberately walked up, and crawling under the bed, laid himself down as if desirous to take up his night’s lodging there. To save farther trouble, the indulgence was allowed. About midnight the chamber door opened, and a person was heard stepping across the room. The gentleman started from his sleep; the dog sprung from his covert, and seizing the unwelcome disturber, fixed him to the spot! All was dark; and the gentleman rang his bell in great trepidation, in order to procure a light. The person who was pinned to the floor by the courageous mastiff roared for assistance. It was found to be the valet, who little expected such a reception. He endeavoured to apologise for his intrusion, and to make the reasons which induced him to take this step appear plausible; but the importunity of the dog, the time, the place, the manner of the valet, all raised suspicions in his master’s mind, and he determined to refer the investigation of the business to a magistrate. The perfidious Italian at length confessed that it was his intention to murder his master, and then rob the house. This diabolical design was frustrated only by the instinctive attachment of the dog to his master, which seemed to have been directed on this occasion by the interference of Providence.
The ease with which the elephant is taught to perform the most agile and difficult feats, forms a remarkable contrast to its huge unwieldiness of size. Aristotle tells us that in ancient times elephants were taught by their keepers to throw stones at a mark, to cast up arms in the air, and catch them again on their fall; and to dance not merely on the earth, but on the rope. The first, according to Suetonius, who exhibited elephant rope dancers, was Galba at Rome. The manner of teaching them to dance on the ground was simple enough (by the association of music and a hot floor); but we are not informed how they were taught to skip the rope, or whether it was the tight or the slack rope, or how high the rope might be. The silence of history on these points is fortunate for the figurantes of the present day; since, but for this, their fame might have been utterly eclipsed. Elephants may, in the days of old Rome, have been taught to dance on the rope, but when was an elephant ever known to skip on a rope over the heads of an audience, or to caper amidst a blaze of fire fifty feet aloft in the air? What would Aristotle have thought of his dancing elephants if he had seen some of the elephants who perform to-day?
A traveller gives a singular anecdote of a lion, which he says was related to him by very credible persons. About the year 1614 or 1615, two Christian slaves at Morocco made their escape, travelling by night, and hiding themselves in the tops of trees during the day, their Arab pursuers frequently passing by them. One night, while pursuing their journey, they were much astonished and alarmed to see a great lion close by them, who walked when they walked, and stood still when they stood. Thinking this a safe conduct sent to them by Providence, they took courage, and travelled in the daytime in company with the lion. The horsemen who had been sent in pursuit came up, and would have seized upon them, but the lion interposed, and they were suffered to pass on. Every day these poor fugitives met with some one or other of the human race who wanted to seize them, but the lion was their protector until they reached the sea coast in safety, when he left them.
A young man, desirous of getting rid of his dog, took it along with him to the river. He hired a boat, and rowing into the stream, threw the animal in. The poor creature attempted to climb up the side of the boat, but his master, whose intention was to drown him, constantly pushed him back with the oar. In doing this, he fell himself into the water, and would certainly have been drowned, had not the dog, as soon as he saw his master struggling in the stream, suffered the boat to float away, and held him above water till assistance arrived, and his life was saved.
A gentleman one day talking with a friend maintained that beasts were mere machines, and had no sort of reason to direct them; and that when they cried or made a noise, it was only one of the wheels of the clock or machine that made it. The friend, who was of a different opinion, replied, “I have now in my kitchen two turnspits, who take their turns regularly every other day to get into the wheel; one of them, not liking his employment, hid himself on the day that he should work, so that his companion was forced to mount the wheel in his stead, but crying and wagging his tail, he made a sign for those in attendance to follow him. He immediately conducted them to a garret, where he dislodged the idle dog, and killed him immediately.”
A female elephant belonging to a gentleman at Calcutta broke loose from her keeper, and was lost in the woods. The excuses which the keeper made were not admitted. It was supposed that he had sold the elephant; his wife and family therefore were sold for slaves, and he was himself condemned to work upon the roads. About twelve years after, this man was ordered into the country to assist in catching wild elephants. The keeper fancied he saw his long-lost elephant in a group that was before them. He was determined to go up to it; nor could the strongest representations of the danger dissuade him from his purpose. When he approached the creature, she knew him, and giving him three salutes, by waving her trunk in the air, knelt down and received him on her back. She afterwards assisted in securing the other elephants, and likewise brought her three young ones. The keeper recovered his character; and, as a recompense for his sufferings and intrepidity, had an annuity settled on him for life. This elephant was afterwards in the possession of Governor Hastings.
A gentleman tells how, during the time of his residence at Podor, a French factory on the banks of the river Niger, there were two ostriches, though young, of gigantic size, which afforded him a very remarkable sight. “They were,” he says, “so tame, that two little blacks mounted both together on the back of the largest. No sooner did he feel their weight, than he began to run as fast as possible, and carried them several times round the village, as it was impossible to stop him otherwise than by obstructing the passage. This sight pleased me so much, that I wished it to be repeated, and to try their strength, directed a full-grown negro to mount the smallest, and two others the largest. This burthen did not seem at all disproportionate to their strength. At first they went at a tolerably sharp trot, but when they became heated a little, they expanded their wings as though to catch the wind, and moved with such fleetness, that they scarcely seemed to touch the ground. Most people have, at one time or another, seen a partridge run; and consequently know that there is no man whatever able to keep up with it; and it is easy to imagine, that if this bird had a longer step, its speed would be considerably augmented. The ostrich moves like the partridge, with this advantage; and I am satisfied that those I am speaking of would have distanced the fleetest racehorses that were ever bred in England. It is true they would not hold out so long as a horse; but they would undoubtedly go over a given space in less time. I have frequently beheld this sight, which is capable of giving one an idea of the prodigious strength of an ostrich, and of showing what use it might be of, had we but the method of breaking and managing it as we do a horse.”
A tame elephant kept by a merchant was suffered to go at large. The animal used to walk about the streets in as quiet and familiar a manner as any of the inhabitants, and delighted much in visiting the shops, particularly those which sold herbs and fruit, where he was well received, except by a couple of brutal cobblers, who, without any cause, took offence at the generous creature, and once or twice attempted to wound his proboscis with their awls. The noble animal, who knew it was beneath him to crush them, did not disdain to chastise them by other means. He filled his large trunk with a considerable quantity of water, not of the cleanest quality, and advancing to them as usual, covered them at once with a dirty flood. The fools were laughed at, and the punishment applauded.
Various have been the opinions upon the difference of speed between a well-bred greyhound and a racehorse if opposed to each other. Wishes had been frequently indulged by the sporting world that some criterion could be adopted by which the superiority of speed could be fairly ascertained, when the following circumstance accidentally took place, and afforded some information upon what had been previously considered a matter of great uncertainty. In the month of December 1800 a match was to have been run over Doncaster racecourse for one hundred guineas, but one of the horses having been withdrawn, a mare started alone, that by running the ground she might ensure the wager; when having run about one mile in the four, she was accompanied by a greyhound, which joined her from the side of the course, and emulatively entering into the competition, continued to race with the mare for the other three miles, keeping nearly head and head, and affording an excellent treat to the field by the energetic exertions of each. At passing the distance post five to four was betted in favour of the greyhound, when parallel with the stand it was even betting, and any person might have taken his choice from five to ten; the mare, however, had the advantage by a head at the termination of the course.
A gentleman who had taken an active share in the rebellion of 1715, after the battle of Preston escaped into the West Highlands, where a lady, a near relative, afforded him an asylum. A faithful servant conducted him to the mouth of a cave, and furnished him with an abundant store of provisions. The fugitive crept in at a low aperture, dragging his stores along. When he reached a wider and loftier expanse he found some obstacle before him. He drew his dirk, but unwilling to strike, lest he might take the life of a companion in seclusion, he stooped down, and discovered a goat with her kid stretched on the ground. He soon perceived that the animal was in great pain, and feeling her body and limbs, ascertained that her leg was fractured. He bound it up with his garter, and offered her a share of the bread beside him; but she stretched out her tongue, as if to apprise him that her mouth was parched with thirst. He gave her water, which she took readily, and then ate some bread. After midnight he ventured out of the cave: all was still. He plucked an armful of grass and cut tender twigs, which the goat accepted with manifestations of joy and thankfulness. The prisoner derived much comfort in having a living creature in this dungeon, and he caressed and fed her tenderly. The man who was entrusted to bring him supplies fell sick; and when another attempted to penetrate into the cavern the goat furiously opposed him, presenting her horns in all directions, till the fugitive, hearing a disturbance, came forward. This new attendant giving the watchword removed every doubt of his good intentions, and the amazon of the recess obeyed her benefactor in permitting him to advance. The gentleman was convinced that had a band of military attacked the cavern, his grateful patient would have died in his defence.
The following singular instance of the far-sighted watchfulness of the turkey-hen over her young is narrated by a French priest. “I have heard,” he says, “a turkey-hen, when at the head of her brood, send forth the most hideous scream, without being able to perceive the cause; her young ones, however, immediately when the warning was given skulked under the bushes, the grass, or whatever else seemed to offer shelter or protection. They even stretched themselves at full length on the ground, and continued motionless as if dead. In the meantime the mother, with her eyes directed upwards, continued her cries and screaming as before. On looking up in the direction in which she seemed to gaze I discovered a black spot just under the clouds, but was unable at first to determine what it was; however, it soon appeared to be a bird of prey, though at first at too great a distance to be distinguished. I have seen one of those animals continue in this agitated state, and her whole brood pinned down, as it were, to the ground for four hours together, whilst their formidable foe has taken its circuits, has mounted and hovered directly over their heads; at last upon his disappearing the parent changed her note and sent forth another cry, which in an instant gave life to the whole trembling tribe, and they all flocked round her with expressions of pleasure, as if conscious of their happy escape from danger.”
An abbot, a man of wit, and skilled in the construction of new musical instruments, was ordered by Louis XI., King of France, more in jest than in earnest, to procure him a concert of swines’ voices. The abbot said that the thing could doubtless be done, but that it would take a good deal of money. The king ordered that he should have whatever he required for the purpose. The abbot then wrought a thing as singular as ever was seen; for out of a great number of hogs of several ages which he got together, and placed under a tent, or pavilion, covered with velvet, before which he had a table of wood painted, with a certain number of keys, he made an organical instrument, and as he played upon the said keys with little spikes, which pricked the hogs, he made them cry in such order and consonance, he highly delighted the king and all his company.
An innkeeper once sent, as a present by the carrier, to a friend a dog and cat tied up in a bag, who had been companions more than ten months. A short time after the dog and cat took their departure together and returned to their old habitation, a distance of thirteen miles. They jogged along the road side by side, and on one occasion the dog gallantly defended his fellow-traveller from the attack of another dog they met.
A thief who had broken into the shop of Cellini, the Florentine artist, and was breaking open the caskets in order to come at some jewels, was arrested in his progress by a dog, against whom he found it a difficult matter to defend himself with a sword. The faithful animal ran to the room where the journeymen slept, but as they did not seem to hear him barking he drew away the bedclothes, and pulling them alternately by the arms, forcibly awaked them; then barking very loud he showed the way to the thief, and went on before; but the men would not follow him, and at last locked their door. The dog having lost all hopes of the assistance of these men undertook the task alone, and ran downstairs; he could not find the villain in the shop, but immediately rushing into the street came up with him, and tearing off his cloak, would have treated him according to his deserts if the fellow had not called to some tailors in the neighbourhood, and begged they would assist him against a mad dog; the tailors believing him came to his assistance, and compelled the poor animal to retire.
A French officer, more remarkable for his birth and spirit than his wealth, had served the Venetian republic for some years with great valour and fidelity, but had not met with that preferment which he merited. One day he waited on a nobleman whom he had often solicited in vain, but on whose friendship he had still some reliance. The reception he met with was cool and mortifying; the nobleman turned his back upon the necessitous veteran, and left him to find his way to the street through a suite of apartments magnificently furnished. He passed them lost in thought, till, casting his eyes on a sumptuous sideboard, where a valuable collection of Venetian glass, polished and formed in the highest degree of perfection, stood on a damask cloth as a preparation for a splendid entertainment, he took hold of a corner of the linen, and turning to a faithful English mastiff which always accompanied him, said to the animal, in a kind of absence of mind, “Here, my poor old friend; you see how these haughty tyrants indulge themselves, and yet how we are treated!” The poor dog looked his master in the face, and gave tokens that he understood him. The master walked on, but the mastiff slackened his pace, and laying hold of the damask cloth with his teeth, at one hearty pull brought all the glass on the sideboard in shivers to the ground, thus depriving the insolent noble of his favourite exhibition of splendour.
A well-known traveller, in a description of the Island of Tristan d’Acunha, states that the animals found on this solitary spot were so tame, that it was necessary to clear a path through the birds which were reposing on the rocks, by kicking them aside. One species of seal did not move at all when struck or pelted, and at length some of the company amused themselves by mounting them, and riding them into the sea!
Some years ago a sparrow had early in spring taken possession of an old swallow’s nest, and had laid some eggs in it, when the original builder and owner of the castle made her appearance, and claimed possession. The sparrow, firmly seated, resisted the claim of the swallow; a smart battle ensued, in which the swallow was joined by its mate, and during the conflict by several of their comrades. All the efforts of the assembled swallows to dislodge the usurper were, however, unsuccessful. Finding themselves completely foiled in this object, it would seem that they had held a council of war to consult on ulterior measures; and the resolution they came to shows that with no ordinary degree of ingenuity some very lofty considerations of right and justice were combined in their deliberations. Since the sparrow could not be dispossessed of the nest, the next question with them appears to have been, how he could be otherwise punished for his unlawful occupation of a property unquestionably belonging to its original constructor. The council were unanimous in thinking that nothing short of the death of the intruder could atone for so heinous an offence; and having so decided, they proceeded to put their sentence into execution in the following very extraordinary manner. Quitting the scene of the contest for a time, they returned with accumulated numbers, each bearing a beak full of building materials; and without any further attempt to beat out the sparrow, they instantly set to work and built up the entrance into the nest, enclosing the sparrow within the clay tenement, and leaving her to perish in the stronghold she had so bravely defended.
A native Moor who went to hunt the lion, having proceeded far into a forest, happened to meet with two lion’s whelps that came to caress him; the hunter stopped with the little animals, and waiting for the coming of the sire or the dam, took out his breakfast, and gave them a part. The lioness arrived unperceived by the huntsman, so that he had not time, or perhaps wanted the courage, to take to his gun. After having for some time looked at the man that was thus feasting her young, the lioness went away, and soon after returned, bearing with her a sheep, which she came and laid at the huntsman’s feet.
The Moor, thus become one of the family, took this occasion of making a good meal, skinned the sheep, made a fire, and roasted a part, giving the entrails to the young. The lion in his turn came also; and, as if respecting the rights of hospitality, showed no tokens whatever of ferocity. Their guest the next day, having finished his provisions, returned, and came to a resolution never more to kill any of those animals, the noble generosity of which he had so fully proved. He stroked and caressed the whelps at taking leave of them, and the dam and sire accompanied him till he was safely out of the forest.
A Dreadful famine raged at Buenos Ayres, yet the governor, afraid of giving the Indians a habit of spilling Spanish blood, forbade the inhabitants on pain of death to go into the fields in search of relief, placing soldiers at all the outlets to the country, with orders to fire upon those who should attempt to transgress his orders. A woman, however, called Maldonata, was artful enough to elude the vigilance of the guards, and escape. After wandering about the country for a long time, she sought for shelter in a cavern, but she had scarcely entered it when she espied a lioness, the sight of which terrified her. She was, however, soon quieted by the caresses of the animal, who, in return for a service rendered her, showed every sign of affection and friendliness. She never returned from searching after her own daily subsistence without laying a portion of it at the feet of Maldonata, until her whelps being strong enough to walk abroad, she took them out with her and never returned.
Some time after Maldonata fell into the hands of the Spaniards, and being brought back to Buenos Ayres on the charge of having left the city contrary to orders, the governor, a man of cruelty, condemned the unfortunate woman to a death which none but the most cruel tyrant could have thought of. He ordered some soldiers to take her into the country and leave her tied to a tree, either to perish by hunger, or to be torn to pieces by wild beasts, as he expected. Two days after, he sent the same soldiers to see what was become of her; when, to their great surprise, they found her alive and unhurt, though surrounded by lions and tigers, which a lioness at her feet kept at some distance. As soon as the lioness perceived the soldiers, she retired a little, and enabled them to unbind Maldonata, who related to them the history of this lioness, whom she knew to be the same she had formerly assisted in the cavern. On the soldiers taking Maldonata away, the lioness fawned upon her as unwilling to part. The soldiers reported what they had seen to the commander, who could not but pardon a woman who had been so singularly protected, without appearing more inhuman than lions themselves.
One day a tradesman, walking with a friend, offered to wager that if he were to hide a five-shilling piece in the dust, his dog would discover and bring it to him. The wager was accepted, and the piece of money marked and secreted. When the two had proceeded some distance, the tradesman called to his dog that he had lost something, and ordered him to seek it. The dog immediately turned back, and his master and his companion pursued their walk. Meanwhile a traveller, driving in a small chaise, perceived the piece of money which his horse had kicked from its hiding-place, alighted, took it up, and drove to his inn. The dog had just reached the spot in search of the lost piece, when the stranger picked it up. He followed the chaise, went into the inn. Having scented out the coin in the pocket of the traveller, he leaped up at him incessantly. Supposing him to be some dog that had lost his master, the traveller regarded his movements as marks of fondness; and as the animal was handsome, determined to keep him. He gave him a good supper, and on retiring took him with him to his chamber. No sooner had he pulled off his breeches than they were seized by the dog; the owner, conceiving that he wanted to play with them, took them away. The animal began to bark at the door, which the traveller opened, thinking the dog wanted to go out. The dog snatched up the breeches and away he flew, the traveller posting after him with his nightcap on. The dog ran full speed to his master’s house, followed by the stranger, who accused the dog of robbing him. “Sir,” said the master, “my dog is a very faithful creature; and if he ran away with your breeches, it is because you have in them money which does not belong to you.” The traveller became still more angry. “Compose yourself, sir,” rejoined the other, smiling; “without doubt there is in your purse a five-shilling piece which you picked up in the road, and which I hid knowing my dog would bring it back. This is the cause of the robbery which he has committed upon you.” The stranger acknowledged the truth of the tradesman’s statement, delivered up the coin, and departed.
Seals have a very delicate sense of hearing, and are much delighted with music. A gentleman, in his account of a voyage to Spitzbergen, mentions that the captain of the ship’s son, who was fond of playing on the violin, never failed to have a numerous auditory when in the seas frequented by these animals; and he has seen them follow the ship for miles when any person was playing on deck.
A gentleman in the county of Stirling kept a greyhound and a pointer, and being fond of coursing, the pointer was accustomed to find the hares, and the greyhound to catch them. When the season was over, it was found that the dogs were in the habit of going out by themselves, and killing hares for their own amusement. To prevent this, a large iron ring was fastened to the pointer’s neck by a leather collar, and hung down so as to prevent the dog from running, or jumping over dykes, &c. The animals, however, continued to stroll out to the fields together; and one day the gentleman, suspecting that all was not right, resolved to watch them, and to his surprise, found that the moment when they thought that they were unobserved, the greyhound took up the iron ring in his mouth, and carrying it, they set off to the hills, and began to search for hares as usual. They were followed, and it was observed, that whenever the pointer scented the hare, the ring was dropped, and the greyhound stood ready to pounce upon poor puss the moment the other drove her from her form, but that he uniformly returned to assist his companion after he had caught his prey.
Persons who have the management of elephants have often observed that they know very well when any one is ridiculing them, and that they very often revenge themselves when they have an opportunity. A painter wished to draw an elephant in the menagerie at Paris in an extraordinary attitude, which was with his trunk lifted up, and his mouth open. An attendant on the painter, to make the elephant preserve the position, threw fruits in his mouth, and often pretended to throw them without doing so. The animal became irritated, and as if knowing that the painter was to blame rather than his servant, turned to him, and dashed a quantity of water from his trunk over the paper on which the painter was sketching his distorted portrait.
Many years ago a gentleman had accidentally caught a sea-gull, whose wings he cut, and put it into his garden. The bird remained in that situation for several years, and being kindly treated, became so familiar as to come at call to be fed at the kitchen door. It was known by the name of Willie. This bird became at last so tame that no pains were taken to preserve it, and its wings having grown to full length it flew away, joined the other gulls on the beach, and came back, from time to time, to pay a visit to the house. When its companions left the country at the usual season, Willie accompanied them, much to the regret of the family. To their great joy, however, it returned next season; and with its usual familiarity came to its old haunt, where it was welcomed and fed very liberally. In this way it went and returned for forty years, without intermission, and kept up its acquaintance in the most cordial manner; for while in the country it visited them almost daily, answered to its name like any domestic animal, and ate almost out of the hand. One year, however, very near the period of its final disappearance, Willie did not pay his respects to the family for eight or ten days after the general flock of gulls were upon the coast, and great was the lamentation for his loss, as it was feared he was dead; but to the surprise and joy of the family, a servant one morning came running into the breakfast-room in ecstasy, announcing that Willie had returned. The whole company rose from the table to welcome Willie. Food was soon supplied in abundance, and Willie with his usual frankness ate of it heartily, and was as tame as any barn-yard fowl about the house. In a year or two afterwards this grateful bird discontinued his visits for ever.
Whilst a ship on a voyage of discovery to the North Pole was locked in the ice, one morning the man at the masthead reported that three bears were making their way towards the ship. They had, no doubt, been invited by the scent of some blubber of a sea-horse which the crew was burning on the ice at the time of their approach. They proved to be a she bear and her two cubs; but the cubs were nearly as large as the dam. They ran eagerly to the fire, and drew out part of the flesh that remained unconsumed, and ate it voraciously. The crew threw great lumps of the flesh which they had still left upon the ice, which the old bear fetched away singly, laying every lump before the cubs as she brought it, and dividing it, gave each a share, reserving but a small portion to herself. As she was fetching away the last piece, they shot both the cubs dead, and wounded the dam, but not mortally. It would have drawn tears of pity from any but the most unfeeling to have marked the affectionate concern of this poor animal in the dying moments of her expiring young. Though sorely wounded, she crawled to the place where they lay, carrying a lump of flesh she had just fetched away, tore it in pieces, and laid it down before them; when she saw that they refused to eat, she laid her paws first upon one, then upon the other, and endeavoured to raise them up, making at the same time the most pitiable moans. Finding she could not stir them, she went off, and when she had got at some distance, looked back and moaned; and that not availing to entice them away, she returned, and smelling round them, began to lick their wounds. She went off a second time, and having crawled a few paces, looked again behind her, and for some time stood moaning. But her cubs not rising to follow her, she returned, and with signs of inexpressible fondness went round them, pawing them successively. Finding at last that they were cold and lifeless, she raised her head towards the ship, and growled a curse upon the destroyers, which they returned with a volley of musket-balls. She fell between her cubs, and died licking their wounds.
A sow, which was a thin, long-legged animal (one of the ugliest of the New Forest breed), when very young conceived so great a partiality to some pointer puppies that a gamekeeper upon a neighbouring estate was breaking, that it played, and often came to feed with them. From this circumstance it occurred to the gamekeeper that, having broken many a dog as obstinate as a pig, he would try if he could not also succeed in breaking a pig. The little animal would often go out with the puppies to some distance from home; and he enticed it farther by a sort of pudding made of barley-meal, which he carried in one of his pockets. The other he filled with stones, which he threw at the pig whenever she misbehaved, as he was not able to catch and correct her in the same manner he did his dogs. He found the animal tractable, and soon taught her what he wished by this mode of reward and punishment. They were frequently seen out together, when the sow quartered her ground as regularly as any pointer, stood when she came on game (having an excellent nose), and backed other dogs as well as he ever saw a pointer. When she came on the cold scent of game, she slackened her trot, and gradually dropped her ears and tail, till she was certain, and then fell down on her knees. So staunch was she, that she would frequently remain five minutes and upwards on her point. As soon as the game rose, she always returned to her master, grunting very loudly for her reward of pudding if it was not immediately given to her.
A little girl about three years of age was observed for a number of days to go to a considerable distance from the house with a piece of bread which she obtained from her mother. The circumstance attracted the attention of the mother, who desired her husband to follow the child, and observe what she did with it. On coming to the child, he found her engaged in feeding several snakes, called yellow heads, a species of rattlesnake. He immediately took her away and proceeded to the house for his gun, and returning, killed two of them at one shot, and another a few days after. The child called these reptiles in the manner of calling chickens; and when her father observed, if she continued the practice they would bite her, the child replied, “No, father, they won’t bite me; they only eat the bread I give them.”
A gentleman once succeeded in taming a seal. It appeared to possess all the sagacity of the dog, lived in its master’s house, and ate from his hand. He usually took it with him in his fishing excursions, upon which occasions it afforded no small entertainment. When thrown into the water, it would follow for miles the track of the boat; and although thrust back by the oars, it never relinquished its purpose. Indeed, it struggled so hard to regain its seat, that one would imagine its fondness for its master had entirely overcome the natural predilection for its native element.
In a park a fawn, drinking, was suddenly pounced upon by one of the swans, which pulled the animal into the water, and held it under until quite drowned. The atrocious action was observed by the other deer in the park, and did not long go unrevenged; for shortly after this very swan, which had hitherto never been molested by the deer, was singled out when on land, and furiously attacked by a herd, which surrounded and presently killed the offender.
In a large north of England town a pair of strange rooks, after an unsuccessful attempt to effect a lodgment in a rookery at a little distance from the Exchange, were compelled to abandon the attempt, and to take refuge on the spire of a building; and although constantly molested by other rooks, they built their nest on the top of the vane, and there reared a brood of young ones, undisturbed by the noise of the populace below them. The nest and its inmates were of course turned about by every change of the wind. For ten years they continued to build their nest in the same place, soon after which the spire was taken down.
On an estate in Scotland a terrier had a litter of whelps, which were immediately taken from her and drowned. The unfortunate mother was quite disconsolate, until, a few weeks after, she perceived a brood of ducklings, which she immediately seized and carried to her lair, where she retained them, following them out and in with the greatest care, and nursing them after her own fashion, with the most affectionate anxiety. When the ducklings, following their natural instinct, went into the water, their foster-mother exhibited the utmost alarm; and as soon as they returned to land, she snatched them up in her mouth, and ran home with them. What adds to the singularity of this circumstance is, that the same animal, when deprived of a litter of puppies the year preceding, seized two cock-chickens, which she reared with the like care she bestows upon her present family. When the young cocks began to try their voices, their foster-mother was as much annoyed as she now seems to be by the swimming of the ducklings—and never failed to repress their attempts at crowing.
James Hogg, the shepherd poet, had a dog named Sirrah, who was for many years his sole companion. He was, the shepherd says, the best dog he ever saw, in spite of his surly manners and unprepossessing appearance. The first time he saw the dog, a drover was leading him by a rope, and, although hungry and lean, “I thought,” Hogg tells us, “I discovered a sort of sullen intelligence in his face, so I gave the drover a guinea for him. I believe there never was a guinea so well laid out. He was scarcely then a year old, and knew nothing of herding; but as soon as he discovered that it was his duty to do so, I can never forget with what eagerness he learned. He would try every way till he found out what I wanted him to do; and when once I made him to understand a direction, he never forgot or mistook it again.”
About seven hundred lambs, which were at once under Mr. Hogg’s care, broke up at midnight, and scampered off in three divisions across the hills, in spite of all that the shepherd and an assistant lad could do to keep them together. “Sirrah,” cried the shepherd, in great affliction, “my man, they’re a’ awa.” The night was so dark that he did not see Sirrah; but the faithful animal had heard his master’s words, and without more ado he set off in quest of the flock. The shepherd and his companion spent the whole night in scouring the hills, but of neither the lambs nor Sirrah could they obtain the slightest trace. “We had nothing for it,” says the shepherd, “but to return to our master, and inform him that we had lost his whole flock of lambs. On our way home, however, we discovered a body of lambs at the bottom of a deep ravine, and Sirrah standing in front of them, looking all around for some relief. We concluded that it was one of the divisions of the lambs which Sirrah had been unable to manage until he came to that commanding situation. But what was our astonishment when we discovered by degrees that not one was wanting! How he had got all the divisions collected in the dark is beyond my comprehension. I never felt so grateful to any creature below the sun as I did to my honest Sirrah that morning.”
A constable once made a complaint before a bench of London magistrates against a horse for stealing hay. The complainant stated that the horse came regularly every night of its own accord, and without any attendant, to the coach-stands in St. George’s, fully satisfied his appetite, and then galloped away. He defied the whole of the parish officers to apprehend him; for if they attempted to go near him while he was eating, he would throw up his heels and kick at them, or run at them, and if they did not go out of the way, he would bite them. The constable therefore thought it best to represent the case to the magistrates.
One of the Magistrates: “Well, Mr. Constable, if you should be annoyed again by this animal in the execution of your duty, you may apprehend him if you can, and bring him before us to answer your complaints.”
A butcher and cattle dealer had a dog which he usually took with him when he drove cattle to the market, at a town some nine miles distant from his home, to be sold, and who displayed uncommon dexterity in managing them. At last, so convinced was the master of the sagacity, as well as the fidelity of his dog, that he made a wager that he would entrust him with a fixed number of sheep and oxen to drive alone to market. It was stipulated that no person should be within sight or hearing, who had the least control over the dog; nor was any spectator to interfere, or be within a quarter of a mile. On the day of trial, the dog proceeded with his business in the most dexterous and steady manner; and although he had frequently to drive his charge through the herds who were grazing, yet he never lost one, but conducting them into the very yard to which he was used to drive them when with his master, he significantly delivered them up to the person appointed to receive them, by barking at the door. What more particularly marked the dog’s sagacity was, that when the path the herd travelled lay through a spot where others were grazing, he would run forward, stop his own drove, and then driving the others from each side of the path, collect his scattered charge and proceed. He was several times afterwards thus sent alone for the amusement of the curious or the convenience of his master, and always acquitted himself in the same adroit and intelligent manner.
In a large continental menagerie there was a lion called Danco, whose cage was in want of some repairs. His keeper desired a carpenter to set about it, but when the workman came and saw the lion, he started back with terror. The keeper entered the animal’s cage, and led him to the upper part of it, while the lower was refitting. He there amused himself for some time playing with the lion, and being wearied, he soon fell asleep. The carpenter, fully relying upon the vigilance of the keeper, pursued his work with rapidity, and when he had finished, he called him to see what was done. The keeper made no answer. Having repeatedly called in vain, he began to feel alarmed at his situation, and he determined to go to the upper part of the cage, where, looking through the railing, he saw the lion and the keeper sleeping side by side. He immediately uttered a loud cry; the lion, awakened by the noise, started up and stared at the carpenter with an eye of fury, and then, placing his paw on the breast of his keeper, lay down to sleep again. At length the keeper was awakened by some of the attendants, and he did not appear in the least apprehensive on account of the situation in which he found himself, but shook the lion by the paw, and then gently conducted him to his former residence.
A dog, between the breed of a mastiff and a bull-dog, belonging to a chimney-sweeper, laid, according to his master’s orders, on a soot-bag, which he had placed inadvertently almost in the middle of a narrow back street, in a town in the south of England. A loaded cart passing by, the driver desired the dog to move out of the way. On refusing he was scolded, then beaten, first gently, and afterwards with the smart application of the cart-whip; all to no purpose. The fellow, with an oath, threatened to drive over the dog—he did so, and the faithful animal, in endeavouring to arrest the progress of the wheel by biting it, was crushed to pieces.
The hare is scarcely a domestic animal; yet we have an account of one who was so domesticated as to feed from the hand, lay under a chair in a common sitting-room, and appear in every other respect as easy and comfortable in its situation as a lapdog. It now and then went out into the garden, but after regaling itself with the fresh air, always returned to the house as its proper habitation. Its usual companions were a greyhound and spaniel, with whom it spent its evenings, the whole three sporting and sleeping together on the same hearth. What makes the circumstance more remarkable is, that the greyhound and spaniel were both so fond of hare-hunting, that they used often to go out coursing together, without any person accompanying them; they were like the “sly couple”, of whose devotion to the chase an amusing instance has been already recorded.
A traveller once brought a young hare to such a degree of frolicsome familiarity, that it would run and jump about his sofa and bed; leap upon, and pat him with its fore feet; or whilst he was reading, knock the book out of his hands, as if to claim, like a fondled child, the exclusive preference of his attention.
A favourite house-dog, left to the care of its master’s servants, while he was himself away, would have been starved by them if it had not had recourse to the kitchen of a friend of its master’s, which in better days it had occasionally visited. On the return of the master it enjoyed plenty at home, and stood in no further need of the liberality it experienced; but still it did not forget that hospitable kitchen where it had found a resource in adversity. A few days after, the dog fell in with a duck, which, as he found in no private pond, he probably concluded to be no private property. He snatched up the duck in his teeth, carried it to the kitchen where he had been so hospitably fed, laid it at the cook’s feet, with many polite movements of the tail, and then scampered off with much seeming complacency at having given this testimony of his grateful sense of favours.
A captain of cavalry in a French regiment mentions that a horse belonging to his company, being from age unable to eat his hay or grind his oats, was fed for two months by two horses on his right and left, who ate with him. These two horses, drawing the hay out of the rack, chewed it, and then put it before the old horse, and did the same with the oats, which he was then able to eat.
A well-known traveller relates a circumstance concerning the orang-otang in its wild state, which is indicative of very considerable powers, both of reflection and invention. When the fruits on the mountains are exhausted, they will frequently descend to the sea-coast, where they feed on various species of shell-fish, but in particular on a large sort of oyster, which commonly lies open on the shore. “Fearful,” he says, “of putting in their paws, lest the oyster should close and crush them, they insert a stone as a wedge within the shell; this prevents it from closing, and they then drag out their prey, and devour it at leisure.”
M. Sonnini, when in Egypt, had an Angora cat, of which he was extremely fond. It was entirely covered with long white silken hairs; its tail formed a magnificent plume, which the animal elevated at pleasure over its body. Not one spot, nor a single dark shade, tarnished the dazzling white of its coat. Its nose and lips were of a delicate rose colour. Two large eyes sparkled in its round head: one was of a light yellow, and the other of a fine blue.
This beautiful animal had even more loveliness of manners than grace in its attitude and movements. However ill any one used her, she never attempted to advance her claws from their sheaths. Sensible to kindness, she licked the hand which caressed, and even that which tormented her. In Sonnini’s solitary moments, she chiefly kept by his side; she interrupted him often in the midst of his labours or meditations, by little caresses extremely touching, and generally followed him in his walks. During his absence she sought and called for him incessantly. She recognised his voice at a distance, and seemed on each fresh meeting with him to feel increased delight.
“This animal,” says Sonnini, “was my principal amusement for several years. How was the expression of attachment depicted upon her countenance! How many times have her caresses made me forget my troubles, and consoled me in my misfortunes! My beautiful and interesting companion, however, at length perished. After several days of suffering, during which I never forsook her, her eyes, constantly fixed on me, were at length extinguished; and her loss rent my heart with sorrow.”
The Alpine marmots are said to act in concert in the collection of materials for the construction of their habitations. Some of them, we are told, cut the herbage, others collect it into heaps; a third set serve as waggons to carry it to their holes; while others perform all the functions of draught horses. The manner of the latter part of the curious process is this. The animal who is to serve as the waggon lies down on his back, and extending his four limbs as wide as he can, allows himself to be loaded with hay; and those who are to be the draught horses trail him thus loaded by the tail, taking care not to overset him. The task of thus serving as the vehicle being evidently the least enviable part of the business, is taken by every one of the party in turn.
The following is an instance of the extraordinary cunning manifested by the Racoon. It is fond of crabs, and when in quest of them, will stand by the side of a swamp, and hang its tail over into the water; the crabs, mistaking it for food, are sure to lay hold of it; and as soon as the beast feels them pinch, he pulls them out with a sudden jerk. He then takes them to a little distance from the water’s edge; and in devouring them, is careful to get them crossways in his mouth, lest he should suffer from their nippers.
A mastiff dog, who owed more to the bounty of a neighbour than to his master, was once locked by mistake in the well-stored pantry of his benefactor for a whole day, where milk, butter, bread, and meat, within his reach, were in abundance. On the return of the servant to the pantry, seeing the dog come out, and knowing the time he had been confined, she trembled for the devastation which her negligence must have occasioned; but on close examination, it was found that the honest creature had not tasted of anything, although, on coming out, he fell on a bone that was given to him, with all the voraciousness of hunger.
A French dog was taught by his master to execute various commissions, and among others, to fetch him victuals from a restaurant in a basket. One evening when the dog was returning to his master thus furnished, two other dogs, attracted by the savoury smell issuing from the basket, determined to attack him. The dog put his basket on the ground, and set himself courageously against the first that advanced against him; but while he was engaged with the one, the other ran to the basket, and began to help himself. At length, seeing that there was no chance of beating both dogs, and saving his master’s dinner, he threw himself between his two opponents, and without further ceremony, quickly despatched the remainder of the victuals himself, and then returned to his master with the empty basket.
The Indian ichneumon, a small creature in appearance between the weasel and the mangoose, is of infinite use to the natives from its inveterate enmity to snakes, which would otherwise render every footstep of the traveller dangerous. This diminutive creature, on seeing a snake ever so large, will instantly dart on it, and seize it by the throat, provided he finds himself in an open place, where he has an opportunity of running to a certain herb, which he knows instinctively to be an antidote against the poison of the bite, if he should happen to receive one. A gentleman visiting the island of Ceylon saw the experiment tried in a closed room, where the ichneumon, instead of attacking his enemy, did all in his power to avoid him. On being carried out of the house, however, and laid near his antagonist in the plantation, he immediately darted at the snake, and soon destroyed it. It then suddenly disappeared for a few minutes, and again returned, as soon as it had found the herb and ate it.
The monkeys in India, knowing by instinct the malignity of the snakes, are most vigilant in their destruction; they seize them when asleep by the neck, and running to the nearest flat stone, grind down the head by a strong friction on the surface, frequently looking at it, and grinning at their progress. When convinced that the venomous fangs are destroyed, they toss the reptiles to their young ones to play with, and seem to rejoice in the destruction of their common enemy.
“One rainy winter evening, as I was alone in my chamber,” relates an American gentleman, “I took up my flute and commenced playing. In a few minutes my attention was directed to a mouse that I saw creeping from a hole, and advancing to the chair in which I was sitting. I ceased playing, and it ran precipitately back to its hole; I began again shortly afterwards, and was much surprised to see it reappear, and take its old position. The appearance of the little animal was truly delightful; it couched itself on the floor, shut its eyes, and appeared in ecstasy; I ceased playing, and it instantly disappeared again. This experiment I repeated frequently with the same success, observing that it was always differently affected, as the music varied from the slow and plaintive, to the brisk or lively. It finally went off, and all my art could not entice it to return.”
A party of a ship’s crew being sent ashore on a part of the coast of India, for the purpose of cutting wood for the ship, one of the men having strayed from the rest was greatly frightened by the appearance of a large lioness, who made towards him; but on her coming up, she lay down at his feet, and looked very earnestly first at him, and then at a tree a short distance off. After repeating her looks several times, she arose, and proceeded onwards to the tree, looking back several times, as if wishing the man to follow her. At length he ventured, and coming to the tree, he perceived a huge baboon with two young cubs in her arms, which he supposed were those of the lioness, as she couched down like a cat, and seemed to eye them very steadfastly. The man being afraid to ascend the tree, decided on cutting it down, and having his axe with him, he set actively to work, when the lioness seemed most attentive to what he was doing. When the tree fell, she sprung upon the baboon, and after tearing him in pieces, she turned round and licked the cubs for some time. She then turned to the man and fawned round him, rubbing her head against him in great fondness, and in token of her gratitude for the service he had done her. After this, she took the cubs away one by one, and the man returned to the ship.
A pair of goldfinches who had the misfortune to be captured, together with their nest and six young ones, were placed in a double cage, with a pair of canaries, which had a brood of young; there was a division of wirework between the cages. At first the goldfinches seemed careless about their young ones; but the cock canary, attracted by their cries, forced itself through a flaw in the wires, and began to feed them; an operation which it continued regularly, until the goldfinches undertook the office themselves, and rendered the humanity of the canary no longer necessary.
The town of Bindrabund in India is in high estimation with the pious Hindoos, who resort to it from the most remote parts of the empire. The town is surrounded by groves of trees, which are the residence of innumerable apes, whose propensity to mischief is increased by the religious respect paid to them in honour of a divinity of the Hindoo mythology, who is represented as possessing the body of an ape. In consequence of this superstition, such numbers of these animals are supported by the voluntary contributions of pilgrims, that no one dares to resist or ill-treat them. Hence, access to the town is often difficult; for should one of the apes take a dislike to any unlucky traveller, he is sure to be assailed by the whole community, who follow him with all the missile weapons they can collect, as pieces of bamboo, stones, and dirt, making at the same time a most hideous howling. Of the danger attending a meeting with enemies of this description, the following is a melancholy instance. Two young cavalry officers, belonging to the Bengal army, having occasion to pass this way, were attacked by a body of apes, at whom one of the gentlemen inadvertently fired. The alarm instantly drew the whole body, with the fakeers, out of the place, with so much fury, that the officers, though mounted upon elephants, were compelled to seek their safety in flight; and in endeavouring to pass the Jumna, they both perished.
A carrier on his way to a market town had occasion to stop at some houses by the road side, in the way of his business, leaving his cart and horse upon the public road, under the protection of a passenger and a trusty dog. Upon his return he missed a led horse, belonging to a gentleman in the neighbourhood, which he had tied to the end of the cart, and likewise one of the female passengers. On inquiry he was informed that during his absence the female, who had been anxious to try the mettle of the pony, had mounted it, and that the animal had set off at full speed. The carrier expressed much anxiety for the safety of the young woman, casting at the same time an expressive look at his dog. Oscar observed his master’s eye, and aware of its meaning, instantly set off in pursuit of the pony, which coming up with soon after, he made a sudden spring, seized the bridle, and held the animal fast. Several people having observed the circumstance, and the perilous situation of the girl, came to relieve her. Oscar, however, notwithstanding their repeated endeavours, would not quit his hold, and the pony was actually led into the stable with the dog, till such time as the carrier should arrive. Upon the carrier entering the stable, Oscar wagged his tail in token of satisfaction, and immediately relinquished the bridle to his master.
A large colony of rooks had resided many years in a grove on the banks of a river. One serene evening the idle members amused themselves with chasing each other through endless mazes, and in their flight they made the air sound with an infinitude of discordant noises. In the midst of these playful exertions it unfortunately happened that one rook, by a sudden turn, struck his beak against the wing of another. The sufferer instantly fell into the river. A general cry of distress ensued. The birds hovered with every expression of anxiety over their distressed companion.
Animated by their sympathy, and perhaps by the language of counsel known to themselves, he sprang into the air, and by one strong effort reached the point of a rock that projected into the river. The joy became loud and universal; but, alas! it was soon changed into notes of lamentation, for the poor wounded bird, in attempting to fly towards his nest, dropped again into the river and was drowned, amid the moans of his whole fraternity.
During a fox hunt, Reynard, being hard pressed, was reduced to the necessity of taking refuge up a chimney of a hothouse. He was followed by one of the hounds, who, passing through a flue upwards of fifty feet in length, came out at the top of the chimney, but missed Reynard in its murky recess. By this time a number of people were collected at the top of the chimney, who let down a terrier, who soon made him come in view, holding fast by his brush.
The Mogul and Kalmuc Tartars attribute to the white owl the preservation of Jengis Khan, the founder of their empire; and they pay it on that account almost divine honours. The prince, with a small army, happened to be surprised and put to flight by his enemies. Forced to seek concealment in a coppice, an owl settled on the bush under which he was hid. At the sight of this animal the prince’s pursuers never thought of searching the spot, conceiving it impossible that such a bird would perch where any human being was concealed. Jengis escaped, and ever after his countrymen held the white owl sacred, and every one wore a plume of its feathers on his head. The Kalmucs continue the custom to this day, at all their great festivals; and some tribes have an idol in the form of an owl, to which they fasten the real legs of this bird.
A squirrel, whose bad luck it was to be captured, was lodged for safe custody in a trap used for taking rats alive. Here he remained for several weeks, till at length, panting for liberty, he contrived to make his escape through a window, and repaired once more to his native fields. The family in which he had been a sportive inmate, were not a little vexed at the loss of their little favourite, and the servant was ordered in the evening of the same day to remove the trap, that they might no longer be reminded of their loss; but on proceeding to discharge his duty, he found to his surprise that the squirrel, all wet and ruffled by the storm, had reassumed his station, and again taken up his lodgings in a corner of the trap.
A wild stork was brought by a farmer into his poultry yard to be the companion of a tame one, which he had long kept there; but the tame stork, disliking a rival, fell upon the poor stranger, and beat him so unmercifully that he was compelled to take wing, and with some difficulty escaped. About four months afterwards, however, he returned to the poultry yard, recovered of his wounds, and attended by three other storks, who no sooner alighted, than they all together fell upon the tame stork, and killed him.
One of the carriers of a large newspaper having become indisposed, his son took his place; but not knowing the subscribers he was to supply, he took for his guide a dog which had usually attended his father. The animal trotted on a-head of the boy, and stopped at every door where the paper was in use to be left, without making a single omission or mistake.
A female bear, with two cubs, approached near a whaler, and was shot. The cubs not attempting to escape, were taken alive. These animals, though at first evidently very unhappy, became at length in some measure reconciled to their situation, and being tolerably tame, were allowed occasionally to go at large about the deck. While the ship was moored to a floe, a few days after they were taken, one of them having a rope fastened round his neck, was thrown overboard. It immediately swam to the ice, got upon it, and attempted to escape. Finding itself, however, detained by the rope, it endeavoured to disengage itself in the following ingenious way. Near the edge of the floe was a crack in the ice of considerable length, but only eighteen inches or two feet wide, and three or four feet deep. To this spot the bear turned; and when, on crossing the chasm, the bight of the rope fell into it, he placed himself across the opening; then suspending himself by his hind feet, with a leg on each side, he dropped his head and most part of his body into the chasm; and with a foot applied to each side of the neck, attempted for some minutes to push the rope over his head. Finding this scheme ineffectual, he removed to the main ice, and running with great impetuosity from the ship, gave a remarkable pull on the rope; then going backward a few steps, he repeated the jerk. At length, after repeated attempts to escape this way, every failure of which he announced by a significant growl, he yielded himself to his hard necessity, and lay down on the ice in angry and sullen silence.
Elephants were, of old, employed in India in the launching of ships. It is related of one, that, being directed to force a very large vessel into the water, the work proved superior to its strength; his master, with sarcastic tone, bid the keeper take away the lazy beast, and bring another: the poor animal instantly repeated his efforts, fractured his skull, and died on the spot.
During a sudden inundation of the Rhine, a hare, unable to escape through the water to an eminence, climbed up a tree. One of the boatmen rowing about to assist the unfortunate inhabitants, observing puss, rowed up to the tree, and mounted it, eager for the game, without properly fastening his boat. The terrified hare, on the approach of its pursuer, sprang from the branch into the boat, which thus set in motion floated away, leaving its owner in the tree in dread of being washed away by the current. After several hours’ anxiety, he was perceived, and taken off by some of his companions.
A young pointer, out with his master hunting, ran on a brood of very small partridges. The old bird cried, fluttered, and ran trembling along just before the dog’s nose, till she had drawn him to a considerable distance; when she took wing and flew farther off, but not out of the field. On this the dog returned nearly to the place where the young ones lay concealed in the grass; which the old bird no sooner perceived, than she flew back again, settled first before the dog’s nose, and a second time acted the same part, rolling and tumbling about till she drew off his attention from the brood, and thus succeeded in preserving them.
An eminent Scotch lawyer, having cause to visit London, decided to perform the journey on horseback in preference to posting, for this was before the days of railways. He therefore purchased a horse before starting, and on his arrival at the metropolis, following the usual custom, disposed of his nag, deciding to purchase another for the return journey. When he had completed his business, and had decided to set out for home, he went to Smithfield to purchase a horse. About dusk, a handsome horse was offered to him at so cheap a rate, that he was led to suspect the animal to be unsound; but as he could discover no blemish he became the purchaser. Next morning he set out on his journey; his horse had excellent paces, and the first few miles, while the road was well frequented, our traveller spent in congratulating himself on his good fortune. On Finchley Common the traveller met a clergyman driving a one-horse chaise. There was nobody within sight, and the horse by his manœuvre plainly intimated what had been the profession of his former master. Instead of passing the chaise, he laid his counter close up to it, and stopped it, having no doubt that his rider would embrace so fair an opportunity of exercising his vocation. The clergyman, under the same mistake, produced his purse unasked, and assured the inoffensive and surprised horseman that it was unnecessary to draw his pistol. The traveller rallied his horse, with apologies to the gentleman, whom he had unwillingly affrighted, and pursued his journey. The horse next made the same suspicious approach to a coach, from the windows of which a blunderbuss was levelled, with denunciations of death and destruction to the rider, who was innocent of all offence in deed or word. In short, after his life had been once or twice endangered by the suspicions to which his horse’s conduct gave rise, and his liberty as often threatened by peace officers, who were disposed to apprehend him as a notorious highwayman, he found himself obliged to part with the animal for a mere trifle, and to purchase at a dearer rate a horse of less external figure and action, but of better moral habits.
A young cat, which sometimes was permitted the indulgence of taking her place in the domestic circle, upon the carpet before the fire in the parlour, one day came in when one of the party was spinning upon a line wheel. Having never seen such a thing before, she became extremely alarmed by its appearance and motion. She couched down in an attitude of fear and of investigation; and yet at such a distance as would admit of a speedy retreat if it should prove to be alive, and an enemy. She crept slowly all along the wheel, with her eyes steadily fixed on it, and with a very singular expression of countenance, till at length, not being able to satisfy herself, she retreated towards the door, impatiently waiting to make her escape; which she did the moment it was in her power, with great precipitation.
The next morning, when she came into the room, the wheel then standing still, she advanced courageously towards it, and after an apparently careful examination, walking all round, ventured upon the further experiment of endeavouring to ascertain with her paw whether there was really anything to be apprehended from it. Still not finding any motion, our philosopher of the Newtonian school, satisfied that she had nothing to fear, seated herself quietly by the fire; and the next time she saw it in motion, she sprang gaily forward, and enjoyed her triumph, by playing with the object of her former terror.
An ass, belonging to a captain in the Royal Navy, then at Malta, was shipped on board a frigate, bound from Gibraltar for that island. The vessel struck on some sands off the Point de Gat, and the ass was thrown overboard, in the hope that it might possibly be able to swim to the land; of which, however, there seemed but little chance, for the sea was running so high, that a boat which left the ship was lost. A few days after, when the gates of Gibraltar were opened in the morning, the guard were surprised by Valiant, as the ass was called, presenting himself for admittance. On entering, he proceeded immediately to the stable of a merchant, which he had formerly occupied. The poor animal had not only swam safely to the shore, but without guide, compass, or travelling map, had found his way from Point de Gat to Gibraltar, a distance of more than two hundred miles, through a mountainous and intricate country, intersected by streams, which he had never traversed before, and in so short a period, that he could not have made one false turn.
The people of Athens, when they had finished the temple called Hecatompedon, set at liberty the beasts of burden that had been chiefly employed in that work, suffering them to pasture at large, free from any further service. It is said that one of these afterwards came of its own accord to work, and putting itself at the head of the labouring cattle, marched before them to the citadel. The people were pleased with this spontaneous action, and made a decree that the animal should be kept at the public charge as long as it lived. Many have shown particular marks of regard in burying animals which they had cherished and been fond of. The graves of Cimon’s mares, with which he thrice conquered at the Olympic games, are still to be seen near his own tomb. Xanthippus, whose dog swam by the side of his galley to Salamis, when the Athenians were forced to abandon their city, afterwards buried it with great pomp upon a promontory, which to this day is called the Dog’s Grave. In Pliny, we have an amusing account of a superb funeral ceremony, which took place during the reign of Claudius; in which the illustrious departed was no other than a crow, so celebrated for its talents and address, that it was looked upon as a sort of public property. Its death was felt as a national loss; the man who killed it was condemned to expiate the crime with his own life; and nothing less than a public funeral could, as it was thought, do justice to its memory. The remains of the bird were laid on a bier, which was borne by two slaves; musicians went before it, playing mournful airs; and an infinite number of persons, of all ages and conditions, brought up the rear of the melancholy procession.
A shepherd, in one of his excursions to look after his flock, took with him one of his children, an infant of three years old. After traversing his pastures for some time, attended by his dog, he found it necessary to ascend a summit at some distance, to obtain a more extensive view of his range. As the ascent was too fatiguing for the child, he left him on a small plain at the bottom, with strict injunctions not to stir from it till his return. Scarcely, however, had he gained the summit, when the horizon was darkened by an impenetrable mist. The anxious father instantly hastened back to find his child; but owing to the unusual darkness, he missed his way. After a fruitless search of many hours, he discovered that he had reached the bottom of the valley, and was near his own cottage. To renew the search that night was equally fruitless and dangerous; he was therefore compelled to go home, although he had lost both his child and his dog, who had attended him faithfully for many years. Next morning, by break of day, the shepherd, accompanied by a band of his neighbours, set out in search of his child; but after a day of fatigue, he was obliged to return home disappointed. He found that the dog which he had lost the day before had been to the cottage, and on receiving a piece of cake, had instantly gone off again. For several successive days the shepherd renewed the search, and on his return in the evening he found that the dog had been home, and, on receiving his usual allowance of cake, had instantly disappeared. Struck with this singular circumstance, he remained at home one day; and when the dog, as usual, departed with his piece of cake, he resolved to follow him, and find out the cause of this strange procedure. The dog led the way to a cataract at some distance from the spot where the shepherd had left his child. Down a rugged and almost perpendicular descent the dog began, without[Pg 201] hesitation, to make his way, and at last disappeared by entering into a cave, the mouth of which was almost level with the torrent. The shepherd with difficulty followed; but, on entering the cave, what were his emotions, when he beheld his infant eating with much satisfaction the cake which the dog had just brought him, while the faithful animal stood by, eyeing his young charge with the utmost complacency! The child had apparently wandered to the brink of the precipice, and then either fallen or scrambled down till he reached the cave. The dog had traced him to the spot; and afterwards prevented him from starving, by giving up to him his own daily allowance. He appears never to have quitted the child by night or day, except when it was necessary to go for food; and then he was always seen running at full speed to and from the cottage.
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Times.—“Got up with great taste, each fable is illustrated by a drawing by Mr. Percy Billinghurst. Mr. Billinghurst lends most comical expression to the faces of the beasts. The fox with the grapes, the dog with the shadow, the wolf with the lamb, are their own dumb but eloquent interpreters. We even distinguish a gleam of profound disgust in the eye of the snake biting at the file.”
Daily News.—“The seventeenth-century version of the fables, by Sir Roger l’Estrange, with its pleasant quaintness of language, lends itself, and how delightfully, to its setting of illustration; and it would surely be a child hard to please who would cavil at this book.”
Daily Telegraph.—“Mr. Percy Billinghurst’s illustrations are most happily conceived and executed, and Mr. Kenneth Grahame’s preface is amusing. But perhaps the most interesting feature of the edition is the adoption of Sir Roger l’Estrange’s seventeenth-century version. Those to whom it is new will be surprised at the charm which his quaint and vigorous diction adds to the fables.”
Scotsman.—“The ‘Fables of Æsop’ have seldom been printed and adorned more handsomely.... The illustrations are full of originality and humour.”
Spectator.—“Mr. Billinghurst’s full-page illustrations are well drawn, and full of a quaint humour very appropriate to the subject. His beasts and birds are in truth animals; but he has succeeded in giving them strongly marked characteristic expressions. The picture of the fox and the crocodile discussing their pedigrees is delightful.”
JOHN LANE, Publisher, LONDON AND NEW YORK
UNIFORM WITH THIS VOLUME
With 101 Illustrations, Title-page, and Cover Design
by P. J. Billinghurst
Price 6s. Foolscap 4to. Price $1.50.
Truth.—“Is it not the duty of parents to make their children acquainted with La Fontaine? Well, then, no better opportunity of so doing could possibly be afforded them than is given by the new Bodley Head edition. It is a metrical version of the time-honoured favourites, and every fable has a picture filling the page opposite. The child would be hard to please who did not find hours of amusement in the artist’s work alone.”
Times.—“It is pleasant to turn to a taking edition of La Fontaine’s Fables, with Mr. Billinghurst’s exceedingly clever drawings; he throws a world of expression into the faces of his beasts.”
Pall Mall.—“There is some excellent drawing in the handsome volume of One Hundred Fables of La Fontaine, for which Mr. Percy Billinghurst has done the pictures. His bold pencil gives expression to original ideas, some of them wrought with skill, and all with a correct eye to effect. For the drawings alone this handsome book should be prized.”
Daily Chronicle.—“Turned out in a style which will fascinate the young, the illustrations by Mr. Billinghurst are executed in fine taste. His animals are real animals which will delight all who look upon them.”
British Weekly.—“A most elegantly-bound collection of well-known fables re-told in rhyme, and illustrated with many fine and masterly drawings.”
Bookman.—“We have nothing but praise for Mr. Billinghurst’s work.... We know no pictures of fable-beasts that we like better. The whole arrangement of the book is excellent.”
JOHN LANE, Publisher, LONDON AND NEW YORK