Front Cover
 Front Matter
 Half Title
 Title Page
 Table of Contents
 The life of the brute
 Dogs (continued)
 Horses (continued)
 The bovines
 Wild boars
 Other animals
 Birds (continued)
 Animals in art
 Canine guests
 Back Cover

Title: Chapters on animals
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00027936/00001
 Material Information
Title: Chapters on animals
Physical Description: 252 p., 20 leaves of plates : ill. ; 21 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Hamerton, Philip Gilbert, 1834-1894
Strangeways, John ( Printer )
Veyrassat, Jules Jacques, 1828-1893 ( Illustrator )
Bodmer, Karl, 1809-1893 ( Illustrator )
Roberts Brothers (Boston, Mass.) ( Publisher )
Publisher: Roberts Brothers
Place of Publication: Boston
Manufacturer: John Strangeways
Publication Date: 1874
Copyright Date: 1874
Subject: Animals -- Juvenile literature   ( lcsh )
Natural history -- Juvenile literature   ( lcsh )
Birds -- Juvenile literature   ( lcsh )
Bldn -- 1874
Genre: non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: United States -- Massachusetts -- Boston
Statement of Responsibility: by Philip Gilbert Hamerton ; with twenty etchings by J. Veyrassat and Karl Bodmer.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00027936
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: notis - ALH1469
oclc - 00819115
alephbibnum - 002231101

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover 1
        Front Cover 2
    Front Matter
        Front Matter
    Half Title
        Half Title
    Title Page
        Title Page
    Table of Contents
        Table of Contents
    The life of the brute
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 22a
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
    Dogs (continued)
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 40a
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
        Page 44
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
        Page 52
        Page 52a
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
        Page 64
        Page 65
        Page 66
        Page 67
        Page 68
        Page 68a
        Page 69
        Page 70
        Page 71
        Page 72
        Page 72a
        Page 73
        Page 74
        Page 75
        Page 76
    Horses (continued)
        Page 77
        Page 78
        Page 78a
        Page 79
        Page 80
        Page 80a
        Page 81
        Page 82
        Page 83
        Page 84
        Page 85
        Page 86
        Page 87
        Page 88
        Page 89
        Page 90
        Page 91
        Page 92
        Page 93
        Page 94
        Page 95
    The bovines
        Page 96
        Page 97
        Page 98
        Page 98a
        Page 99
        Page 100
        Page 101
        Page 102
        Page 103
        Page 104
        Page 105
        Page 106
        Page 107
        Page 108
        Page 109
        Page 110
        Page 111
        Page 112
        Page 113
        Page 114
        Page 115
        Page 116
        Page 116a
        Page 117
        Page 118
        Page 119
        Page 120
        Page 121
        Page 122
        Page 122a
        Page 123
        Page 124
        Page 125
        Page 126
        Page 127
        Page 128
        Page 129
        Page 130
        Page 130a
        Page 131
        Page 132
        Page 133
        Page 134
        Page 135
        Page 136
        Page 137
        Page 138
        Page 139
        Page 140
        Page 141
    Wild boars
        Page 142
        Page 143
        Page 144
        Page 144a
        Page 145
        Page 146
        Page 147
        Page 148
        Page 149
        Page 150
        Page 151
        Page 152
        Page 153
        Page 154
        Page 155
        Page 156
        Page 157
        Page 158
        Page 158a
        Page 159
        Page 160
        Page 161
        Page 162
        Page 163
        Page 164
        Page 165
        Page 166
        Page 166a
        Page 167
        Page 168
        Page 169
        Page 170
        Page 171
        Page 172
        Page 173
        Page 174
        Page 175
        Page 176
        Page 177
        Page 178
        Page 179
        Page 180
        Page 180a
        Page 181
        Page 182
        Page 183
        Page 184
        Page 185
        Page 186
        Page 187
    Other animals
        Page 188
        Page 189
        Page 190
        Page 191
        Page 192
        Page 192a
        Page 193
        Page 194
        Page 194a
        Page 195
        Page 196
        Page 197
        Page 198
        Page 199
        Page 200
        Page 201
        Page 202
        Page 203
        Page 204
        Page 205
        Page 206
    Birds (continued)
        Page 207
        Page 208
        Page 209
        Page 210
        Page 211
        Page 212
        Page 212a
        Page 213
        Page 214
        Page 215
        Page 216
        Page 216a
        Page 217
        Page 218
        Page 219
        Page 220
    Animals in art
        Page 221
        Page 222
        Page 223
        Page 224
        Page 225
        Page 226
        Page 227
        Page 228
        Page 229
        Page 230
        Page 231
        Page 232
        Page 233
        Page 234
        Page 235
    Canine guests
        Page 236
        Page 237
        Page 238
        Page 239
        Page 240
        Page 241
        Page 242
        Page 243
        Page 244
        Page 245
        Page 246
        Page 247
        Page 248
        Page 249
        Page 250
        Page 251
        Page 252
        Page 253
        Page 254
    Back Cover
        Page 255
        Page 256
        Page 257
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H AVING been in the habit of loving and ob-
serving animals, as people do who live much
in the country, I thought that possibly some of my
observations, however trifling in themselves, might
interest others whose tastes are similar to my own.
In this spirit I wrote these chapters, describing what I
had seen rather than what other writers had recorded.
The book has therefore no pretension to system
or completeness, but consists merely of desultory
chapters, as its title indicates.
The illustrations, etched directly on the copper
by two deservedly celebrated animal-painters, Karl
Bodmer and Veyrassat, will be found, it is believed,
to add considerably to the value and interest of
the volume.
P. G. H.




II. DOGS . . . 17

III. DOGS (continued) . . . . 32

IV. CATS . . . . 43

IV*. HORSES . . . . 61

V. HORSES (continued) .. 77

VI. THE BOVINES . . . 96

VII. ASSES . 113

VIII. PIGS . . . . 127


X. WOLVES . . 156

XI. KIDS . . . . 174


XIII. BIRDS . . . 197

XIV. BIRDS (continued) . . . . 207






READERS of Dean Stanley's Life of Dr. Arnold will
probably remember a passage, brief but highly inter-
esting, in which reference is made to his feelings about
the brute creation;-' In works of art he took but little
interest, and any extended researches in physical science
were precluded by want of time, whilst from natural his-
tory he had an instinctive but characteristic shrinking.
"The whole subject," he said, "of the brute creation
-is to me one of such painful mystery, that I dare not
approach it."'
Mystery indeed there is everywhere, and it is often
painful; but surely in shrinking from the contemplation
of nature the loss is greater than the gain. That all
animals are condemned at one period or another of their
Q existence to undergo suffering, often very severe suffer-
ing, and that in their utmost anguish they have no con-
solation from religious or philosophical ideas, that they

2 Chapters on Animals.

have no hope beyond the limits of a day, and that
their existence is most probably limited to the brief
space between birth and death,-this is the dark side
of their being, which we need not attempt to hide. But,
on the other hand, the life of the brute has commonly
one immense compensation in its favour, the perfection
of the individual existence is so rarely sacrificed to the
prosperity of the race. It is not necessary in order
that one hippopotamus should cut his food conveni-
ently that another hippopotamus should lead an un-
healthy existence like a Sheffield grinder; nor does the
comfort of any bird's nest require that another bird
should slowly poison itself in preparing acetates of cop-
per, sulphurets of mercury, or oxides of lead. The pride
and beauty of a brute are never based upon the endur-
ing misery of another brute. The wild drake's plumage,
splendid as it is, suggests no painful thought of con-
sumptive weavers, of ill-paid lace-makers, of harassed,
over-worked milliners; and the most sensitive of us may
enjoy the sight of it without painful thoughts, for it
is God's free gift, causing no heart-burning of envy,
no care nor anxiety of any kind. There is much slaugh-
ter in the world of brutes, but there is little slave,
and the killing is done with a merciful rapidity, ending
life whilst its pulses still beat in their energy, and pre-
venting infirmity and age. The brute creation has its
diseases, but on the whole it is astonishingly healthy.
It is full of an amazing vitality.* The more we study
"* This in consequence of the law, apparently pitiless, yet
when seen in its large results most merciful, that the weak and

The Life of the Brute. 3

animals the more evident is it that they live for the
most part in the heaven of exuberant health. That
gladness which,we seek, how often vainly, in all artificial
stimulants,-in wine, tea, gin, tobacco, opium, and the
rest,-the brute finds in the free coursing of his own
uncontaminated blood. Our nervous miseries, our brain-
exhaustion, are unknown to him. Has not one of the
sweetest of our poets, who knew those miseries of the
intellectual, poured forth in immortal verse his passion-
ate longing for the clear keen joyance' of a skylark ?
Which of us has not envied the glee of his own dog ?
Human happiness may be deeper, but it is never, after
earliest infancy, so free from all shadow of sadness or
It is probable that Dr. Arnold's disinclination for
the study of animal life, and his painful feelings regard-
ing it, had their origin in a peculiarity of his which
made him such an excellent schoolmaster-the intense
pleasure with which he contemplated moral and intel-
lectual advance, a pleasure which had for its shadow a
feeling of intense disgust for incorrigibles. To a man
with these feelings always highly-wrought, and even
rather over-excited by the nature of his work, a man
always anxious to make good Christians and cultivated
gentlemen, the brute world must have seemed a very
discouraging kind of material. What changes nature
may operate in millions of years, what marvellous de-

diseased so rapidly die off, that the strong and healthy remain
and propagate, whilst the organizations ill adapted for vigorous life
perish and disappear.

4 Chapters on Animals.

velopments may lead up gradually to higher orders of
being; we need not attempt to estimate; it is enough
for us, that from the dawn of history the animals most
familiarly known to us seem to have done the same
things, and done them in the same way, as their suc-
cessors in our own fields and on our own hearthrugs.
We have evidence that the donkeys of antiquity were
obstinate and self-willed, and the donkeys of the nine-
teenth century are so still. But in this persistence of
characteristics there is nothing, I think, to sadden us.
The brute does not, it is true, aspire after the ideal,
and his views, it must be confessed, are usually limited
to the fullest and most immediate gratification of his
appetites, but he has so many negative advantages that
we may think and speak of him with cheerfulness. If
he has not the support and consolations of religion it
is because he does not require them, and he escapes
the evils of theological rancour and persecution which
have caused so much misery to mankind. He escapes,
too, the meanness of hypocrisy, which is one of the
least pleasing of the peculiarly human vices. So with
regard to the politics of brutes-they are royalists, or
republicans, or socialists, or they push to an extreme
impossible for mankind the principles of independent
individualism; but whatever they are they know their
own mind, and incur neither the evils of anarchy nor
the perils of transition. How much weariness has there
been in the human race during the last fifty years,
because the human race cannot stop politically where
it was, and, finding no rest, is pushed to a strange

The Life of the Brute. 5

future that the wisest look forward to gravely, as cer-
tainly very dark and probably very dangerous Mean-
while have the bees suffered any political uneasiness,
have they doubted the use of royalty or begrudged the
cost of their Queen ? Have those industrious republic-
ans, the ants, gone about uneasily seeking after a sove-
reign ? Has the eagle grown weary of his isolation and
sought strength in the practice of socialism ? Has the
dog become too enlightened to endure any longer his
position as man's humble friend, and contemplated a
canine union for mutual protection against masters ?
No, the great principles of these existences are superior
to change, and that which man is perpetually seeking,
a political order in perfect harmony with his condition,
the brute has inherited with his instincts.
The study of animals inclines men to a steady cheer-
fulness. All naturalists are cheerful men, unless there
is something peculiarly sad or painful in the individual
lot; and even then the study of natural history has
in many instances been known to supply an interest
which enabled the sufferer to bear his affliction more
easily. The contemplation of animal life may act at
once as a stimulant and an anodyne. The abounding
vitality of animals communicates a strong stimulus to
those energies which we have in common with them,
whilst on the other hand their absolute incapacity for
sharing our higher intellectual vitality has a tendency
to make us happily forget it in their presence. Your
dog will run and jump with you as much as you like,
but it is of no use to talk to him about your business

6 Chapters on Animals.

anxieties or your literary ambition. I believe that most
of the attractiveness of what is called 'sport' is to be
found in the happiness of association with the lower
animals. Take away the animals from a hunt; sup--
pose that there were neither horses nor dogs, nor stag,
fox, wild boar, or any other animal whatever, but that
the men rode on velocipedes after a machine going
by electricity-who'does not at once feel that the deep
charm of the chase would be gone ? Few will deny
that falconry, though far less destructive than shooting,
was a more perfect sport; for the falconer associated
himself with the bird of prey that he had trained with
hood and jesses and lure, and watched its aerial evolu-
tions. The pleasure of falconry was to be a spectator
at one's own hours of a sight which every naturalist
has occasionally witnessed in his rambles-the bird of
prey in the exercise of his terrible function. The noble
of the middle ages, who was a bird of prey himself by
instinct and tradition, felt the deepest sympathy with
the hawk, and carried him everywhere on his wrist as
poor women carry their babies; but the modern student
of nature may sympathise with the hawk also, notwith-
standing our modern tenderness. We may always sym-
pathise with an animal, because the animal is sure to do
his appointed work; the business of the falcon being to
destroy birds for his own sustenance, he does it without
any infirmity of doubt. He hurls himself like a barbed
javelin, and the sharp talon delivers its deadly stroke.
Since the work, in Nature's order, had to be done, there
is a satisfaction in seeing it done with that swiftness

The Life of tIe Brute. 7

and decision, that perfect vigour and ability. So the old
knights often took the falcon for a crest, and he sat in
effigy on their helmets, tossed above the dust of the
But the knight's sympathy or the sportsman's sym-
pathy for animals is more narrow, though not more
intense by reason of its narrowness, than the sympathy
of the naturalist or artist. Since falconry is dead the
falcon would be doomed to extinction if gamekeepers
had their way; and the sportsman thinks that if an
animal is not either good to hunt or be hunted, does
not play the part either of hound or hare, there can
be no sufficient reason against its total extermination.
So the agriculturist has his way of considering animals,
with his two categories-the beasts that can work for
him and the beasts that can be sold to the butcher.
But there is another way besides these, that of the
observer who studies the animal from some kind of
interest in nature without reference to anything that
it can do for him or produce for him, The selfish
pre-occupation always hinders us from observing in the
best and largest sense. Some excellent observers have
been sportsmen and agriculturists; this partly from
accident, because they had land in the country, and
partly from hereditary tendencies derived from sporting
or agricultural ancestors : but it is possible to kill ani-
mals every day, and make animals work all day long,
and sell animals at every fair in the neighbourhood,
without knowing very much more about their lives and
characters than they know of yours and mine. I have

8 Chapters on Animals.

seen men who had not the least insight into the cha-
racters of their own horses or their own dogs. It grates
very unpleasantly on the feelings of any true lover of
animals to see them treated as beings without any indi-
viduality of mental constitution. There are people to
whom a horse is a horse, just as a penny postage-
stamp is a penny postage-stamp; that is, a thing which
will convey a certain weight for a certain regulated dis-
tance. But any one who knows animals knows that a
horse has as much individuality as a man. And the
more we know, even of inferior animals, the more dis-
tinct does their individuality become for us. It is only
our ignorance and our indifference which confound them.
The two bay horses in your carriage look exactly alike
to the people in the street, but the coachman and
groom could establish contrasts and comparisons after
the manner of Plutarch. With the varieties of canine
character we are all of us tolerably familiar, because
our dogs are more with us, happily for us and for them.
Yet how difficult it is to arrive at any true conception
of the mind of a lower animal! The moment we begin
to reason about it a thick cloud rises and comes be-
tween. We speak of them habitually as if they had
human feelings: a dog is spoken of very much as if he
were a child, yet he is not a child; and we give to
horses many capacities and attributes which horses never
possess. There is an insuperable difficulty in imagining
the mind of an animal; we lend him words, which he
never uses, to express thoughts which could not occur
to him. We are constantly misled by the evident clear-

The Life of the Brute. 9

ness of the minds of animals, by the acuteness of their
perceptions in certain directions, and we infer that this
clearness and acuteness may be applied where they are
of no use. The truth is, that animals are both more
intelligent and less intelligent than we fancy. A dog,
and even a horse, notices a good deal that we little sus-
pect him of noticing, but at the same time a great deal
which we think he sees is perfectly invisible to him.
The following account of the behaviour of a cow gives
a glimpse of the real nature of the animal:-
'These long-tailed cows,' say Messrs. Huc and
Gabet, 'are so restive and difficult to milk, that, to
keep them at all quiet, the herdsman has to give
them a calf to lick meanwhile. But for this device,
not a single drop of milk could be obtained from
them. One day a Lama herdsman, who lived in the
same house with ourselves, came, with a long dismal
face, to announce that his cow had calved during the
night, and that, unfortunately, the calf was dying. It
died in the course of the day. The Lama forthwith
skinned the poor beast, and stuffed it with hay. This
proceeding surprised us at first, for the Lama had by
no means the air of a man likely to give himself the
luxury of a cabinet of natural history. When the opera-
tion was completed we found that the hay-calf had
neither feet nor head; whereupon it occurred to us
that, after all, it was perhaps a pillow that the Lama
contemplated. We were in error; but the error was
not dissipated till the next morning, when our herds-
man went to milk his cow. Seeing him issue forth,

10 Chapters on Animals.

the pail in one hand and the hay-calf under the other
arm, the fancy occurred to us to follow him. His first
proceeding was to put the hay-calf down before the
cow. He then turned to milk the cow herself The
mamma at first opened enormous eyes at her beloved
infant; by degrees she stooped her head towards it,
then smelt at it, sneezed three or four times, and at
last proceeded to lick it with the most delightful ten-
derness. This spectacle grated against our sensibili-
ties; it seemed to us that he who first invented this
parody upon one of the most touching incidents in
nature must have been a man without a heart. A some-
what burlesque circumstance occurred one day to modify
the indignation with which this treachery inspired us.
By dint of caressing and licking her little calf, the ten-
der parent one fine morning unripped it; the hay issued
from within, and the cow, manifesting not the slightest
surprise nor agitation, proceeded tranquilly to devour
the unexpected provender.'
The last touch entirely paints the brute. She has
recognized her offspring by the smell chiefly, and never
having heard of anatomy is not surprised when the in-
ternal organs are found to consist simply of hay. And
why not eat the hay ? The absence of surprise at the
discovery, the immediateness of the decision to eat the
hay, are perfectly natural in a cow, and if they surprise
us it is only because we do not fully realise the state
of the bovine mind. If we reflect, however, we must
perceive that a cow can be aware of no reason why
calves should not be constructed internally of hay. On

The Life of the Brute. 11

the other hand, the bovine mind cannot be wanting in
its own kind of intelligence, for oxen know their mas-
ters, and when in harness are remarkable for a very
accurate and delicate kind of obedience; indeed the
horse is light-headed and careless in comparison with
Animals, like the great majority of the human race,
observe only what concerns them and see everything
simply in the relation which it bears to themselves. In
Gustave Dord's 'Juif Errant' a donkey is tasting a man's
beard, under the impression that it may possibly be a
sort of hay. Dore most probably had witnessed the
incident; I have witnessed it several times. Why should
a man's beard not consist of hay? There are phy-
siological reasons, but we cannot expect a donkey to
be aware of them. We continually forget that brutes
have not the advantage of obtaining accurate ideas by
spoken or written language. We do not realise the
immensity of their ignorance. That ignorance, in com-
bination with perfect cerebral clearness (ignorance and
mental clearness are quite compatible), and with incon-
ceivably strong instincts, produces a creature whose
mental states we can never accurately understand. None
of us can imagine the feelings of a tiger when his jaws
are bathed in blood and he tears the quivering flesh.
The passion of the great flesh-eater is as completely
unknown to civilised men, as the passion of the poet
is to the tiger in the jungle. It is far more than merely
a good appetite, it is an intense emotion. A quite faint
and pale shadow of it still remains in men with an ardent

12 Chapters on Animals.

enthusiasm for the chase, who feel a joy in slaughter,
but this to the tiger's passion is as water to whisky.
This impossibility of knowing the real sensations of
animals-and the sensations are the life-stands like
an inaccessible and immovable rock right in the path-
way of our studies. The effort of dramatic power neces-
sary to imagine the life of another person is very con-
siderable, and few minds are capable of it, but it is
much easier to imagine the sensations of a farmer than
those of his horse. The main difficulty in conceiving
the mental states of animals is, that the moment we
think of them as human we are lost. Neither are they
machines pushed by irresistible instincts. A human
being as ignorant as a horse would be an idiot, and act
with an idiot's lack of sense and incapacity for sequence.
But the horse is not an idiot, he has a mind at once
quite clear and sane, and is very observant in his own
way. Most domestic animals are as keenly alive to
their own interests as a man of business. They can
make bargains, and stick to them, and make you stick
to them also. I have a little mare who used to require
six men to catch her in the pasture, but I carried corn
to her for a long time without trying to take her, leav-
ing the corn on the ground. Next, I induced her to eat
the corn whilst I held it, still leaving her free. Finally
I persuaded her to follow me, and now she will come
trotting half-a-mile at my whistle, leaping ditches, ford-
ing brooks, in the darkness and rain, or in impenetrable
fog. She follows me like a dog to the stable, and I
administer the corn there. But it is a bargain ; she

The Life of the Brute. 13

knowingly sells her liberty for the corn. The experi-
ment of reducing the reward having been tried to test
her behaviour, she ceased to obey the whistle and re-
sumed her former habits ; but the full and due quantity
having been restored she yielded her liberty again with-
out resistance, and since then she is not to be cheated.
On the other hand, she is very ignorant of much that
a man of equal shrewdness would easily have picked
up by the use of language. In our estimates of animal
character we always commit one of two mistakes,-
either we conclude that the beasts have great know-
ledge because they seem so clever, or else we fancy
that they must be stupid because we have ascertained
that they are ignorant; so that, on the one hand, we
constantly see animals severely punished for not having
known what they could only have learned through hu-
man language, and, on the other hand, we find men
very frequently underrating the wonderful natural intel-
ligence of the brute creation, and treating animals with-
out the least consideration for their feelings, which are
often highly sensitive.
Another obstacle to a right understanding of the
brute nature is the common habit of sentimentalism,
which attributes to some favourite races of animals some
fine qualities, which, if they are to be discovered at all,
can only be detected in most rare instances, and, even
then, are striking rather from their rarity than their
strength. A good example of what I mean is the popu-
lar belief concerning the affectionateness of horses. The
plain truth is, that the horse is not an affectionate ani-

14 Chapters on Animals.

mal but that man wishes he were so, and supplies him
with this charming quality from the resources of his
own imagination. The horse may be made familiar;
you may cultivate his intimate acquaintance, as ac-
quaintance merely, but his affections are not for man,
they are for his brute companions.*
It seems to me, that notwithstanding the insuper-
able difficulties which hinder us from a perfect compre-
hension of the brute nature in any of its forms, we may
still, by careful observation and reflection, aided by a
kindly sympathy and indulgence, arrive at notions about
animal life not altogether without interest. Let us
always try to bear in mind those great necessities which
are irresistibly felt by animals as a consequence of their
special organisation, and preserve ourselves from the
error of approving or blaming them according to human
standards. When a tiger eats a man, the act is not
more blameable than the act of a man who opens and
eats an oyster. We have the most absurd prejudices
on this subject, which have taken root in infancy and
not been disturbed by maturer reflection afterwards.
Wolves and falcons seem cruel because their prey is
rather large, but the little insect-eating birds are our
pets, and cats are morally esteemed for catching mice.
A word may be said in passing about the morbid love
which many people have for animals, and foolishly en-
courage as a virtue. Some people love their dogs in

"* I have been told lately that Arab horses are capable of
strong affection for their masters, which, if true, may have been
the origin of the popular belief.

The Life of the Brute. 15

a manner not at all conducive to the dogs' true hap-
piness and welfare. I knew a lady and gentleman
who loved their dog so much that he had a chair at the
dinner-table, and slept at night (he was a large retriever)
in the same bed with his master and mistress. I had
the honour of sitting opposite to him at dinner, and was
much edified by his well-bred manners. He ate soberly
from a plate, like the rest of us. But it is not a kind-
ness to pamper animals of any kind; the true way to be
kind to animals is so to order their living in every way
that they may be cheerful and healthy through their
allotted span of life, and we ought not to hesitate about
putting them to death when infirmities make existence
a burden. So with reference to animals slaughtered for
our use, there can be no moral hesitation if only the
most merciful death is chosen. It is wrong to bleed
calves to death slowly, as is done in England to have
the veal white; it is wrong to tear out the eyes of rab-
bits while yet living, as is done in some parts of France
from a notion that the meat is better for it ; it is wrong
to give geese a liver complaint in order to make Stras-
bourg pies: but a true gourmet will hesitate at no
cruelty if it procures him a perceptible increase in the
delicate delight of tasting. As to that great horrible
question of vivisection, which men of science do really
practise much more than is commonly suspected, the
discoveries effected by it have prevented, they say,
much suffering, but the doubt remains whether a mer-
ciful end can justify means so frightfully merciless.
The young veterinary surgeons at Maisons-Alfort do

16 Chapters on Animals.

actually learn to operate by practising on living horses,
which are saved from the knacker for that purpose; and
the same science which inflicts tortures worse than those
of the Inquisition prolongs the misery of the victims by
the most solicitous care in the intervals between one
operation and another. Finally, after from twenty to
sixty operations, the animals die from sheer inability
to endure any more torture; and still the sky is bright
over Maisons-Alfort, and the houses are pretty and
fanciful, and the gardens sweetly luxuriant, and there
are arbours for pleasant shade where the well-to-do
messieurs and dames sit sipping their coffee and cognac.
A pretty place in the summer, but the hell of horses,
punished for no sin!




THERE is a little skull amongst the bones I have
collected for the study of anatomy, which any slightly
scientific person would at once recognize as that of a
dog. It is a beautiful little skull, finely developed, and
one sees at a glance that the animal, when it was alive,
must have possessed more than ordinary intelligence.
The scientific lecturer would consider it rather valuable
as an illustration of cranial structure in the higher ani-
mals; he might compare it with the skull of a croco-
dile, and deduce conclusions as to the manifest superi-
ority of the canine brain.
To me this beautiful little example of Divine con-
struction may be a teacher of scientific truths, but it is
also a great deal more than that. My memory clothes
it with mobile muscles and skin, covered with fine, short
hair, in patches of white and yellow. Where another
sees only hollow sockets in which lurk perpetual sha-
dows, I can see bright eyes wherein the sunshine played
long ago, just as it plays in the topaz depths of some
clear northern rivulet. I see the ears too, though the

18 Chapters on Animals.

skull has none; and the ears listen and the eyes gaze
with an infinite love and longing.
She was the friend of my boyhood, reader, the com-
panion of a thousand rambles, and when she died my
boyhood was dead also and became part of the irre-
coverable past. There is an indentation in the bone,
due to an accident. How well I remember all about
that accident! How tenderly we nursed her, how glad
we were when she got well again and followed me
according to her wont! I wonder how many miles we
have travelled together, she and I, along the banks of
our own stream and out on the purple moors!
Of course the reader cannot be expected to care
very much about a poor little terrier that only loved
its young master, as all dogs will, by reason of the
instinct that is in them, and died more than eighteen
years ago. I am willing to believe that millions of dogs
have been as good as she was, and a great deal more
valuable in the market, but no skull in the best natural
history collections in Europe could tempt me to part
with this. Every year makes the relic more precious,
since every year certain recollections gradually fade, and
this helps me to recover them. You may think that it
is a questionable taste to keep so ghastly a reminder.
It does not seem ghastly to me, but is only as the dried
flower that we treasure in some sacred book. When I
think by how much devoted affection this bony tene-
ment was once inhabited, it seems to me still a most
fair and beautiful dwelling. The prevailing idea that
reigned there was the image of me, her master. Shall

Dogs. 19

I scorn this ivory cell in which my own picture had ever
the place of honour ?
Many a man past the middle of life remembers
with a quite peculiar and especial tenderness that one
dog which was the dear companion of his boyhood.
No other canine friend can ever be to us exactly what
that one was; and here let me venture to observe that
the comparative shortness of the lives of dogs is the
only imperfection in the relation between them and us.
If they had lived to threescore years and ten, man
and dog might have travelled through life together, but
as it is we must either have a succession of affections,
or else, when the first is buried in its early grave, live
in a chill condition of doglessness. The certainty of
early death is added to the possibility of accident. I
had a dog of great gifts, exceptionally intelligent, who
would obey a look where another needed an order, and
of rare beauty both of colour and form. One evening
in the twilight we went out together, and, as cruel fate
would have it, I crossed a valley where there was a deep
and rapid stream. Rapid and deep it was, yet not much
wider than the Strid at Bolton, and there was a mill
and a narrow rustic bridge. My poor dog lingered
behind a few minutes in the deepening twilight and I
called for him in vain. He had tried to leap across
between the bridge and the mill, and was hurried to
destruction along an irresistible current, between walls
of pitiless stone on which he had no hold. I cannot
think of that twilight even now without painful sorrow
for my poor, imprudent companion. All dogs are worth

20 Chapters on Animals.

keeping, but there are very great differences in their
natural gifts, and that one had a rare intelligence. He
would sit studying his master's face, and had become
from careful observation so acute a physiognomist that
he read whatever thoughts of mine had any concern for
When the theory of selection has done its worst,
I still cling to the belief that the relation between dog
and man was as much foreseen and intended as that
between sun and planet. Man has succeeded in domes-
ticating several other animals, but where else has he
found this spirit of unconquerable fidelity ? It has not
been developed by kind treatment, it has not even been
sought for in itself, or made an aim in breeding. Ladies
make pets of their dogs, but all the shepherds I see
around me pay them in kicks, and curses, and starva-
tion. What does the obscure member of a pack of
foxhounds know of his master's love? As much as
a Prussian private in the rifle-pit knew of the tender
heart of Moltke. I have seen a great deal of the life
of the French peasantry, but never to this day have I
seen a peasant caress his dog otherwise than with a
stick or a wooden shoe. There is a well-known pic-
ture, by Decamps, called 'The Kennel,' which repre-
sents a huntsman visiting his hounds, and he is lashing
with a ponderous whip. Thousands of dogs, whole gene-
rations of them, have known man in no other character
than that of a merciless commander, punishing the
slightest error without pity, yet bestowing no reward.
There are countries where the dogs are never fed, where

Dogs. 2

they are left to pick up a bare existence amongst the
vilest refuse, and where they walk like gaunt images of
famine, living skeletons, gnawing dry sticks in the wintry
moonlight, doing Nature's scavenger-work like rats. Yet
in every one of these miserable creatures beats the noble
canine heart-that heart whose depths of devotion have
never yet been sounded to the bottom; that heart which
forgets all our cruelty, but not the smallest evidence of
our kindness. If these poor animals had not been made
to love us, what excellent reasons they would have had
for hating us Their love has not been developed by
care and culture, like the nourishing ears of wheat; but
it rises like warm, natural springs, where man has done
nothing either to obtain them or to deserve them.
I please myself with the thought that every man is,
or may be if he will, a centre round which many kinds
of affection press with gently sustaining forces. Let
us not undervalue the love which rises up to us from
below, bathing our feet in warmth. Only the love of
animals, and that of children whilst they are still quite
young, is absolutely free from criticism. All our con-
temporaries criticise us; even our wives do in their
hearts, and our sons in their adolescence. The man in
his family lives in a glass case, and cannot quite with-
draw himself. He is surrounded by more affection than
the bachelor, but he incurs in a minor degree that
amenability to criticism which is the penalty of a prime
minister. The criticism may not be openly expressed,
but so soon as he acts independently of the family
opinion about his duties he feels that it is there. It is

22 Chap/fers on Animals.

exceedingly salutary, no doubt; it keeps us in the path
of duty and dignity ; it saves us from many aberrations.
And still, upon the whole, we know ourselves to be such
lamentably imperfect characters, that we long for an
affection altogether ignorant of our faults. Heaven has
accorded this to us in the uncritical canine attachment.
Women love in us their own exalted ideals, and to live
up to the ideal standard is sometimes rather more than
we are altogether able to manage ; children in their
teens find out how clumsy and ignorant we are, and
do not quite unreservedly respect us; but our dogs adore
us without a suspicion of our shortcomings. There is
only one exception, but this is a grave one, and must
not on any account be forgotten. A good sporting dog
has always an intense contempt for a bad sportsman,
so that a man who cannot shoot with a decent degree
of skill does best, like a miserable amateur violinist, to
abstain from practising altogether.
There are thousands of anecdotes illustrating the
wonderful affection which dogs bear to their masters,
and as the world goes on thousands of other examples
will be recorded, but no one will ever know the full
marvel of that immense love and devotion. It is inex-
haustible, like the beauty of what is most beautiful in
nature, like the glory of sunsets and the rich abundance
of that natural loveliness which poets and artists can
never quite reveal. We do not know the depth of it
even in the dogs we have always with us. I have
one who is neither so intelligent nor so affectionate
as others I have known, and to my human ignorance


f X4 *

Dogs. 23

it seemed that he did not love me very much. But
once, when I had been away for weeks, his melancholy
longing, of which he had said nothing to anybody, burst
out in a great passionate crisis. He howled and cla-
moured for admission into my dressing-room, pulled
down my old things from their pegs, dragged them into
a corner, and flung himself upon them, wailing long and
wildly where he lay, till a superstitious fear came on
all the house like the forerunner of evil tidings. Who
can tell what long broodings, unexpressed, had pre-
ceded this passionate outburst ? Many a dark hour had
he passed in silent desolation, wondering at that inex-
plicable absence, till at length the need for me became
so urgent that he must touch some cloth that I had
We know not the heart-memory which these animals
possess, the long-retaining, tender recollection, all bound
up with their love. A dog was bereaved of his master
and afterwards became old and blind, passing the dark
evening of his existence sadly in the same corner, which
he hardly ever quitted. One day came a step like that
of his lost master, and he suddenly left his place. The
man who had just entered wore ribbed stockings; the
old dog had lost his scent and referred at once to the
stockings that he remembered, rubbing his face against
them. Believing that his master had returned after
those weary years of absence, he gave way to the most
extravagant delight. The man spoke, the momentary
illusion was dispelled, the dog went sadly back to his
place, lay wearily down, and died.

24 Chapzers on Animalis.

These little anecdotes, and there are many such,
give us glimpses of what is permanent in the canine
heart. We think that dogs are demonstrative, but they
have regrets of which they tell us nothing. It is likely
that the old blind dog, coiled up in his corner day and
night, mournfully cherished the recollection of his lost
master, thinking of him when the people in the house
little suspected those yearnings of melancholy retro-
spect. There is nothing in nature so sad as that obscure
despair. The dog is high enough in the scale of being
to feel the regrets of absence in all their bitterness, yet
not high enough to have his anxieties relieved by any
word of explanation. Whether his master has gone to
the next country, or across the sea, or to Heaven, he
has no possible means of ascertaining-he only feels
the long sorrow of separation, the aching of the solitary
heart, the weariness of hope deferred, the anxiety that
is never set at rest.
So great is their power of loving that we cannot
help assigning to dogs-not formally, but in our inward
estimates-a place distinct from the brute creation gene-
rally. They are not mere animals, like sheep and oxen,
that may be slaughtered as a matter of ordinary busi-
ness without awakening regret. To kill a dog is always
felt to be a sort of murder; it is the destruction of a
beautiful though not immortal spirit, and the destruc-
tion is the more lamentable for its very completeness.
When I was a boy I remember crossing a stream in
Lancashire just as a workman came to the same place
followed by a sharp-looking little brown terrier dog. It

Dogs. 25

went snuffing about under the roots as such little dogs
will, and then the man whistled and it came to him
at full speed. He caressed it, spoke to it very kindly
but very sadly, and then began to tie a great stone to
its neck. 'What are you doing that for?' I asked.
'Because I cannot afford to pay the dog-tax, and no-
body else shall have my little Jip.' Then he threw it
into the stream. The water was not deep, and it was
perfectly clear, so that we saw the painful struggles of
the poor little terrier till it became insensible, and we
were both fixed to the spot by a sort of fascination.
At last the man turned away with a pale hard face,
suffering, in that moment, more than he cared to show,
and I went my way carrying with me an impression
which is even now as strong as ever it was. I felt that
what I had witnessed was a murder. Many years after,
I shot a dog of my own (a magnificent blood-hound
mastiff) because he was an irreclaimable sheep-killer;
but the revolver I did it with instantly became so hate-
ful that I could not bear the sight of it, and never fired
it afterwards. Even now, if he could but be raised from
the dead, how gladly would I welcome him, how se-
curely would I rely for perfect forgiveness on his noble
canine magnanimity No, these creatures are not com-
mon brutes, they are our most trusting friends, and
we cannot take away their lives without a treacherous
betrayal of that trust.
A word came under my pen just now by accident
which belongs quite peculiarly to the canine nature. It
does not belong to all dogs. there are little breeds

26 Chapters on Animals.

which seem to be almost destitute of it, but all the
nobler breeds are magnanimous. As we are told to go
to the ant to learn industry, so we may go to the dog
for an example of magnanimity. The finest touches of
it in his nature are not so much in the absolute insen-
sibility to offence as in his courteous willingness to
attribute offences which he cannot possibly overlook to
some pardonable mistake of yours, or blameable error
of his own. Even when most severely punished he never
seems to doubt the justice of the punishment, but takes
it in the finest possible temper, as a perfect Christian
would take chastisement at the hand of God. And pray
observe that with all this submissiveness, with all this
readiness to forget your severity and to bask in the
first gleam of the sunshine of your clemency, there is
not the faintest trace of snobbishness in his nature. The
dog is faithful to his master even when he gets hardly
anything out of him. It is said that every dog is an
aristocrat, because rich men's dogs cannot endure beg-
gars and their rags, and are civil only to well-dressed
visitors. But the truth is that, from sympathy with his
master, the dog always sees humanity very much from
his master's point of view. The poor man's dog does
not dislike the poor. I may go much farther than this,
and venture to assert that a dog who has lived with
you for years will make the same distinction between
your visitors that you make yourself, inwardly, notwith-
standing the apparent uniformity of your outward polite-
ness. My dog is very civil to people I like, but he is
savage to those I dislike, whatever the tailor may have

Dogs. 27

done to lend them external charms. I know not how
he discovers these differences in my feelings, except it
be by overhearing remarks when the guests are gone.
How much do dogs really understand of our lan-
guage? Perhaps a good deal more than we generally
imagine. Please observe that in learning a foreign tongue
you arrive at a certain stage where most of what the
foreign people say is broadly intelligible to you, and
yet you cannot express yourself at all. Very young
children understand a great deal before they are able
to express themselves in words. Even horses,-and
horses are incomparably less intelligent than dogs,-
understand a complete vocabulary of orders. May not
a dog of ability enter, to some extent, into the meaning
of spoken language even though he may never be able
to use it ? Without giving the reins to imagination, it
may be presumed that some dogs know at least the
names of different people, and may take note of the
manner, cordial or otherwise, in which we pronounce
them. Whatever they may know of spoken language,
it is quite clear that they understand the language of
manner, and have a very delicate appreciation of human
Besides the love which the dog has for his master,
and for him alone, he has his friendships and acquaint-
ances with humanity. And as a married man may
quite innocently establish friendships with ladies whom
he likes and respects, so the most faithful of dogs may
have kindly feelings for men who stand in no nearer
relation to him than that of acquaintance. All my

28 Chapters on Animals.

friends' dogs are polite acquaintances of mine, and con-
duct themselves with becoming courtesy. One fat lady
is the happy owner of the tiniest creature that ever
aspired to the dignity of dog-hood, and as our ac-
quaintance seemed to have ripened into an intimacy,
I invited Bellona (for such was her warlike name) to
share with me the perilous pleasures of a canoe-voy-
age. This, however, was presuming too far, and at the
first landing she deserted the ship and fled homewards,
like a frightened rabbit, across the fields. There are
limits to these liaisons. On the other hand, I once
invited a friend's dog to accompany me on an equestrian
excursion, and he followed my horse for eighty miles,
enjoying the change of scene and the meals we shared
together. It has also happened to me, to send a formal
written invitation to a friend's dog to come and stay
with me for a fortnight. He accepted the invitation,
came by railway, and behaved himself in the most
charming manner, renewing our ancient friendship with
the most amicable demonstrations. It is needless to
add that he was received with all the honour that the
laws of hospitality exact. Sometimes a dog will for-
get a mere friend, though he never forgets his master.
I remember crossing a public square in winter, at mid-
night, and seeing a poor lost dog that I recognized as
an old acquaintance. There could be no mistake about
it, she had every physical mark and sign of the gentle
little creature that I knew, the only cause of doubt was
that she could not be induced to give the slightest,-no,
not the very slightest, sign of recognition. I caught

Dogs. 29

her and carried her in my arms to the hotel, held her
up to the light, examined every mark-the body was
all there, but where was the friendly heart that used
to beat with gladness when we met, far in the quiet
country, in the lanes and fields about her home? I
put her down, and she immediately escaped and was
lost again in the windings of the streets. The next
morning I went early to the farm she lived at and
inquired if she were lost. Yes, it was true, she had been
lost in the confusion of the fair. Later, she found her
own way back again and behaved to me as amiably as
ever. Probably, in the town, the sight of so many
people had bewildered her till she could not recognize
a friend, but a dog knows his master everywhere.
One of my dog-friends knew me, however, and be-
haved well to me under very trying circumstances
indeed, for he was suffering from hydrophobia. I was
perfectly aware myself of the terrible nature of his ail-
ment, but he came to me and put his head between
my knees, like a sick child, and I caressed it out of very
profound pity. When the paroxysms became violent
as the disease advanced, the dog still controlled him-
self, and his master took him in his arms and carried
the poor beast up into a vacant garret and locked the
door. Then he made a hole in the thin brick parti-
tion, and with a small rifle, of the kind used for rook-
shooting, put an end to an existence that had become
intolerable. Of all the ills that flesh is heir to there
is not one so terrible as this mysterious madness. Every
year its human victims perish in unutterable agony.

30 Chafters on Animals.

Scarcely less terrible than the disease itself is the
awful apprehension of it for weeks and months after
the poisonous bite. A young man died last year within
a little distance of my home, and the dog that killed
him had bitten three other persons, who from that time
till now have been expecting the fearful symptoms.
Think what it must be to pass month after month with
the horrible suggestion incessantly recurring, 'Am I to
go mad to-morrow?' Even these fears do not deter
heroic natures from the performance of what they con-
sider to be their duty. A French boy, in a locality
well known to me, was taking his little sister to school.
In the narrow path they met a dog, and the dog was
raging mad. It bit the boy, but he seized it by the
collar and held it, calling to his sister to escape. The
girl escaped, the boy died of hydrophobia. A similar
case occurred at another spot I know, where a wolf
attacked a man and a woman. The wolf happened to
be suffering from hydrophobia, and bit the man, who
died. The woman escaped by getting into a tree. A
healthy wolf may be an unpleasant animal to meet in
forest-paths, but a mad one is much worse. A friend of
mine witnessed a terrible encounter between a black-
smith and a mad dog. A whole village was in conster-
nation on account of a great dog that was rushing about
in a state of very advanced hydrophobia, when the
blacksmith went forth armed with a large hammer,
and nothing else, to meet the common enemy. He
walked in the middle of the village street, when at
length the beast came, going on in a straight line. The

Dogs. 31

first hammer-blow missed its aim, the hammer swung
clear, but the dog stopped, and it seemed as if the
dreaded poisonous bite was not to be avoided; how-
ever, the smith recovered his position rapidly enough
to deliver a second blow, this time fatal, before the
animal touched him. He had shown great courage
whilst the danger lasted, but as soon as it was over he
Let us change the subject, and quit this horrible
topic, hydrophobia, with its hopeless and unimaginable
miseries. In all the grim catalogue of diseases surely
this is the most awful! Nothing more clearly proves
the necessity of dogs to men, or the strength of the
love we bear to these poor creatures, than our persist-
ence in keeping so near to us the source of so frightful
a calamity. Every year the newspapers tell us the same
tale of its victims; how they were bitten; how the mad-
ness broke forth at last and led them to the inevitable
agony. We cannot realise those sufferings; we cannot
by any effort of sympathy or imagination bring our-
selves to understand what flowing water, to us so sweet
a refreshment, may be to an organisation revolutionised
by irresistible disease. We only know the reality of
the suffering, though its nature and origin are mysteries.



DOGS (continued).

WOULD that dogs could communicate their health
and energy to us, as they can their fearful malady!
They possess, in a much higher degree than man, the
power of storing up energy in times of repose, and
keeping it for future use. A dog spends his spare time
in absolute rest, and is able to endure great drains
of energy on due occasion. He lies idly by the fire,
and looks so lazy, that it seems as if nothing could
make him stir, yet at a sign from his master he will
get up and go anywhere, without hesitation about the
distance. In old age dogs know that they have not
any longer these great reserves of force, and decline
to follow their masters who go out on horseback, but
will still gladly follow them on any merely pedestrian
excursion, well knowing the narrow limits of human
strength and endurance. Dogs in the prime of life
accomplish immense distances, not without fatigue, for
these efforts exhaust them for the moment, but they
have such great recuperative power that they entirely
recover by rest. I know a very small dog that was
given by his master to a friend who lived sixty miles off.

Dogs. 3

His new proprietor carried him in the inside of a coach;
but the next morning the little animal was in his old
home again, having found his way across country, and
a most fatiguing and bewildering country too, covered
with dense forests and steep hills. Has the reader ever
observed how much swifter dogs are than their behaviour
would lead one to imagine ? Here is an illustration of
what I mean. I know a very rapid coach which is always
preceded by a middling-sized dog of no particular breed.
Well, this dog amuses itself within a yard of the horses'
hoofs, turning round, leaping, looking at other vehicles,
snapping at other dogs, barking at its own and other
horses, and leading, in a word, exactly the same kind of
life as if it were amusing itself in the inn-yard before
starting. Now, consider a little the amazing perfection
of organisation, the readiness and firmness of nerve,
required for motions so complicated as these, and the
bodily energy, too, necessary to keep them up, not for
a few yards, but mile after mile as the coach rattles
along the road! One false step, one second of delay,
and the dog would be under the hoofs of the horses,
yet he plays as children play on the sea-shore before
the slowly-advancing tide. With the dog's energy, and
a wiser economy of it, a man could run a hundred
miles without an interval of rest.
We make use of the delicate faculty of scent pos-
sessed by these animals to aid us in the chase, and are
so accustomed to rely upon it that its marvellousness
escapes attention. But we have no physical faculty so
exquisite as this. It is clear that the dog's opinions

34 Chalpers oi Animals.

about odours must be widely different from ours, for
he endures very strong smells which to us are simply
intolerable, and positively enjoys what we abominate;
but as for true delicacy of nerve, which I take to be
the power of detecting what is most faint, we cannot
presume to the least comparison with him. Every one
who has gathered wild plants knows what an immense
variety of odours arise from the plants upon the ground
-this is the first complication; next upon that (though
we cannot detect it) are traced in all directions different
lines of scent laid down by the passage of animals and
men-this is the second complication. Well, across these
labyrinths of misleading or disturbing odours the dog
follows the one scent he cares for at the time (notwith-
standing its incessant alteration by mixture) as easily as
we should follow a scarlet thread on a green field. If
he were only sensitive to the one scent he followed,
the marvel would be much reduced, but he knows many
different odours, and selects amongst them the one that
interests him at the time. The only human faculty com-
parable to this is the perception of delicate tints by the
most accomplished and gifted painters, but here I be-
lieve that the intellectual powers of man do much in
the education of the eye. No young child could ever
colour, though its eye were physically perfect, and colour-
ing power comes only through study, which is always
more or less a definitely mental operation. The dog
can hardly be said to study scents, though long practice
through unnumbered generations may have given refine-
ment and precision to his faculty.

Dogs. 35

In speaking of a power of this kind, possessed by
another animal, we are liable to mistakes which proceed
from our constant reference to our own human percep-
tions. We think, for instance, that the odour of thyme
is strong, whilst for us the scent left by an animal in
its passage may be so faint as to be imperceptible; but
scents that are strong for us may be faint for dogs, and
vice versd. Odours are not positive but relative, they
are sensations simply, and the same cause does not
produce the same sensation in different organisms. A
dog rolls himself on carrion, and unreflecting people
think this a proof of a disgustingly bad taste on his
part; but it is evident that the carrion gives him a
sensation entirely different from that which it produces
in ourselves. I know a man who says that to him the
odour of any cheese whatever, even the freshest and
soundest, is disgusting beyond the power of language
to express : is it not evident that cheese produces in
him a sensation altogether different from what it causes
in most of us ? The smell and taste of dogs may be
not the less refined and delicate that they differ widely
from our own. The cause of the most horrible of all
smells in my own experience is a mouse, but theesame
cause produces, it is probable, an effect altogether dif-
ferent upon the olfactory nerves of cats. These mys-
teries of sensation, in other beings, are quite unfathom-
able, and our human theories about delicacy of taste
are not worth a moment's attention. The dog is quite
as good an authority on these questions as the best
of us.

36 Chapters on Animals.

I cannot think that it is very surprising that dogs
should remember odours well, since odours so long retain
the power of awakening old associations in ourselves.
I distinctly remember the odour of every house that was
familiar to me in boyhood, and should recognize it at
once. In the same way dogs know the scent of a well-
known footstep, even after long separation. An officer
returned home after the Franco-German war and did
not meet his dog. After his arrival he watched for the
dog through the window. He saw it at last in a state
of intense excitement, following his track at full speed,
never raising its nostrils from the ground, and then came
the joyful meeting-the scent had been recognized from
the beginning, even in a much-frequented street.
Innumerable anecdotes might be collected to illus-
trate the reasoning power of dogs. A certain lawyer,
a neighbour of mine, has a dog that guards his money
when clients come into the office. There are two or
three pieces of furniture, and sometimes it happens that
the lawyer puts money into one or another of these,
temporarily, the dog always watching him, and guard-
ing that particular piece of furniture where the money
lies. In this instance the dog had gradually become
aware, from his master's manner, that money was an
object of more than ordinary solicitude; in fact, he had
been set to guard coin left upon the table. I refrain
from repeating current stories about the sagacity of
dogs, because, although many of them are perfectly cre-
dible, they are naturally exaggerated in transmission.
I happened to be in a railway carriage where several

Dogs. 37

sportsmen were telling marvellous stories about their
dogs, whilst an elderly man sat in his corner and said
nothing. At last he spoke: 'Gentlemen,' he said, 'all
this is very remarkable, but I have a dog who is still
more wonderful than the most wonderful of yours. For
example, you see that river; well, if I were to throw a
sovereign into that river, my dog would immediately
plunge in and bring me the change in silver.' Really,
sir, you surprise me!' said one of the sportsmen, not
quick enough to see the intended sarcasm. Auguste
Villemot used to tell a story with a like intention about
a blind man's dog in Paris, which, after receiving money
for its master, continued the business after his death,
and accumulated a considerable fortune.
Let me add a few words about the treatment of
these faithful friends of ours. I need scarcely protest
against the ignorant and stupid mutilation of dogs by
cutting their ears and tail. From the artistic point of
view this is barbarous in the last degree, because it
spoils their instruments of expression. It is like cut-
ting out the tongue of a human being. There is a
poor dog near me whose tail has been amputated at
the very root, and the consequence is that he cannot
tell me the half of what he thinks. Sir Edwin Land-
seer was greatly pleased to meet with a dog-seller who
would not mutilate his animals, for the reason that 'Sir
Edwin Landseer did not approve of it.' In a smaller
way every one of us may exercise the same merciful
influence, and I earnestly request every reader of these
lines to discourage openly the mutilation of dogs and

38 Chapters on Animals.

other animals. It is an evil very generally prevalent
and of very long standing, and it is due to the desire for
improving nature, for turning natural things as far as
possible into artificial things, which is instinctive in
mankind and leads to the most useful results; but this
is one of its false directions. People who are only par-
tially civilised do not see where they ought to respect
nature, and where to make alterations; so they cannot
leave anything alone. The highest civilisation does
little more than remove impediments to perfect natural
growth, and accepts the divine ideals as the ideals to-
wards which it strives. The best practical way to pre-
vent people from mutilating dogs is, not to reason on
the subject (for reason is far too weak to contend against
custom), but to employ ridicule. I make it a rule to
tell everybody who keeps a mutilated dog, that his dog
is both ugly and absurd; and if a good many people
hear me, so much the better. There is another very
common sort of cruelty to dogs, which might easily
be prevented by the exercise of a little common sense.
Many dog-owners, especially kind-hearted but weak-
minded ladies, are accustomed to injure their pets by
giving them too much food and too little exercise.
Pampered dogs are certainly not the happiest dogs.
Only look at them! Can a creature which was in-
tended by nature for the most exuberant activity be
said to enjoy life when it can hardly waddle across
a carpet? There is not an honest doctor who, after
examining the teeth and breath, and observing the
digestion of these wretched martyrs to mistaken kind-

Dogs. 39

ness, will not tell you that they have no genuine health,
and without that neither dog nor man can be happy.
If you really care about making your dog happy, the
way to do so is both extremely simple and perfectly
well known. Feed him regularly and moderately, see
that his bodily functions go on as they ought to do,
and vary his diet when necessary. Above all, give him
plenty of exercise, take him out with you into the
fields and woods-that is what he most enjoys. Keep
him under a strict and wholesome discipline, for dogs
are happiest, as men are, when wisely and steadily
governed. Our caresses ought to be reserved as a re-
ward, or a recognition, not given continually till the
dog is weary of them. In the same way, besides the
regular food, we may give occasionally little morsels out
of kindness, because he values the kindness, just as we
like a cigar that a friend gives us out of his own case.
His happiness, like our own, is best promoted by acti-
vity, by temperance, by obedience to duty, and by the
sort of affection that is not incompatible with perfect
dignity, of which every noble dog has his full share.
But however healthy and happy a dog may be, there
comes a time at last when the gladness fades out of his
life. I see with sorrow that my poor old Tom feels
obliged to decline to follow me now when I go out on
horseback. This is one of the first symptoms of old
age, and he does not hear so well or see so well as
formerly. Still, on a bright morning, when we go out
in the woods together, he is quite himself again, appa-
rently, and the old activity revives. It is that last

40 Chaptaers on Animals.

renewal of summer which precedes the frosts of autumn,
that afterglow in the western sky which is so swiftly fol-
lowed by the leaden greys of night. One of my neigh-
bours has an old dog that can neither hear nor see, and
passes the dark, silent aays in an arm-chair which has
been given to him for the comfort of his age. One sound
is audible by him still, and one only-a little shrill sil-
ver whistle that he has obeyed from puppyhood till
now. It is one of the most pathetic sights I ever wit-
nessed, when the master comes and sounds the piercing
call. The inert thing in the arm-chair becomes galva-
nised with sudden life, tumbles down upon the floor,
crawls towards the sound, finds the beloved hand, and
licks it. They pass whole evenings together still, that
gentle master and his poor old friend. And still in that
dark decrepitude beats the heart of inextinguishable
It happens very fortunately for modern art, that
dogs have not only the interest of character and in-
telligence, which is what the general public cares most
about, but also a rich variety of form and colour and
texture, abounding in striking contrasts, delighting the
eye of the artist whilst he is at work, and permitting
him to make good pictures. Although dogs have been
more or less painted and carved since men used brush
and chisel, they have never held so important a posi-
tion in art as they do now. The modern love of inci-
dent in pictures, the modern delight in what has been
aptly called 'literary interest' as distinguished from the

I '

.,,,,~ ,, i~

Dogs. 41

pure pleasure of the eyes, naturally induce us to give
a very high place to dogs, which more than all other
animals are capable of awakening an interest of this
kind. The dog is so close to man, so intimately associ-
ated with his life, both in the field and in the house, that
he becomes a sharer in many of its incidents, and the
painter scarcely needs a pretext for introducing him.
In such a picture, for example, as the 'Order of Release'
(by Millais), the dog has his due importance as a mem-
ber of the family, and the painter does not ignore the
canine gladness and affection. And so in the illustra-
tion, by the same artist, of that charming old Scottish
song,' There is nae luck about the house,' the dog is
first out of doors to go and meet the gudeman. In
Landseer's Shepherd's Chief Mourner' the dog is alone
in his lamentation, and yet we feel that the bereaved
creature is in the place that is his by a natural right, by
right of long service, of constant companionship, of
humble faithful friendship and deep love. You paint
a portrait of Sir Walter Scott, why not introduce
Maida ? -of young Lord Byron, why not put brave
Boatswain by his side ? These creatures rejoice with
us in our sports and at our festivals, and they mourn
for us in the hour of that separation which religion
and science agree to consider eternal. We, too, mourn
for them, when they leave us, and pass from the ful-
ness of life into the abyss of nothingness. There may
Sbe human relatives for whom you will wear funereal
hatbands, for whom you will blacken the borders of

42 Czhapters on Animals.

envelopes and cards, and who, nevertheless, will not be
regretted with that genuine sorrow that the death of a
dog will bring. Many a tear is shed every year in Eng-
land for the loss of these humble friends, and many a
heart has been relieved by the welcome tidings, 'There's
life in the old dog yet.'




ONE evening before dinner-time the present writer had
occasion to go into a dining-room where the cloth
was already laid, the glasses all in their places on the
sideboard and table, and the lamp and candles lighted.
A cat, which was a favourite in the house, finding the
door ajar, entered softly after me, and began to make a
little exploration after his manner. I have a fancy for
watching animals when they think they are not ob-
served, so I affected to be entirely absorbed in the occu-
pation which detained me there, but took note of the
cat's proceedings without in any way interrupting them.
The first thing he did was to jump upon a chair, and
thence upon the sideboard. There was a good deal of
glass and plate upon that piece of furniture, but nothing
as yet which, in the cat's opinion, was worth purloining :
so he brought all his paws together on the very edge of
the board, the two forepaws in the middle, the others
on both sides, and sat balancing himself in that atti-
tude for a minute or two, whilst he contemplated the
long glittering vista of the table. As yet there was not

44 Chapters on A,.:';:.j5.

an atom of anything eatable upon it, but the cat pro-
bably thought he might as well ascertain whether this
were so or not by a closer inspection, for with a single
spring he cleared the abyss and alighted noiselessly
on the table-cloth. He walked all over it and left no
trace; he passed amongst the slender glasses, fragile-
stemmed, like air-bubbles cut in half and balanced on
spears of ice; yet he disturbed nothing, broke nothing,
anywhere. When his inspection was over he slipped
out of sight, having been perfectly inaudible from the
beginning, so that a blind person could only have sus-
pected his visit by that mysterious sense which makes
the blind aware of the presence of another creature.
This little scene reveals one remarkable character-
istic of the feline nature, the innate and exquisite refine-
ment of its behaviour. It would be infinitely difficult,
probably even impossible, to communicate a delicacy of
this kind to any animal by teaching. The cat is a crea-
ture of most refined and subtle perceptions naturally.
Why should she tread so carefully? It is not from fear
of offending her master and incurring punishment, but
because to do so is in conformity with her own ideal
of behaviour; exactly as a lady would feel vexed with
herself if she broke anything in her own drawing-room,
though no one would blame her maladresse and she
would never feel the loss.
The contrast in this respect between cats and other
animals is very striking. I will not wrong the noble
canine nature so far as to say that it has no delicacy,
but its delicacy is not of this kind, not in actual touch,

Cats. 45

as the cat's is. The motions of the cat, being always
governed by the most refined sense of touch in the ani-
mal world, are typical in quite a perfect way of what
we call tact in the human world. And as a man who
has tact exercises it on all occasions for his own satis-
faction, even when there is no positive need for it, so
a cat will walk daintily and observantly everywhere,
whether amongst the glasses on a dinner-table or the
rubbish in a farm-yard.
It is easy to detract from the admirableness of this
delicate quality in the cat by a reference to the necessi-
ties of her life in a wild state. Any one not much dis-
posed to enter into imaginative sentimentalities about
animals might say to us, 'What you admire so much as
a proof of ladylike civilisation in the cat, is rather an
evidence that she has retained her savage habits. When
she so carefully avoids the glasses on the dinner-table
she is not thinking of her behaviour as a dependent on
civilised man, but acting in obedience to hereditary
habits of caution in the stealthy chase, which is the
natural accomplishment of her species. She will stir no
branch of a shrub lest her fated bird escape her, and her
feet are noiseless that the mouse may not know of her
coming.' This, no doubt, would be a probable account
of the origin of that fineness of touch and movement
which belongs to cats, but the fact of that fineness re-
mains. In all the domestic animals, and in man him-
self, there are instincts and qualities still more or less
distinctly traceable to a savage state, and these quali-
ties are often the very basis of civilisation itself. That

46 Chapters on Animals.

which in the wild cat is but the stealthy cunning of the
hunter, is refined in the tame one into a habitual gentle-
ness often very agreeable to ladies, who dislike the bois-
terous demonstrations of the dog and his incorrigible
This quality of extreme caution, which makes the
cat avoid obstacles that a dog would dash through
without a thought, makes her at the same time some-
what reserved and suspicious in all the relations of her
life. If a cat has been allowed to run half-wild this
suspicion can never be overcome. There was a nume-
rous population of cats in this half-wild state for some
years in the garrets of my house. Some of these were
exceedingly fine, handsome animals, and I very much
wished to get them into the rooms we inhabited, and so
domesticate them ; but all my blandishments were use-
less. The nearest approach to success was in the case
of a superb white-and-black animal, who, at last, would
come to me occasionally, and permit me to caress his
head, because I scratched him behind the ears. Encou-
raged by this measure of confidence, I went so far on
one occasion as to lift him a few inches from the ground:
on which he behaved himself very much like a wild cat
just trapped in the woods, and for some days after it
was impossible even to get near him. He never came
down-stairs in a regular way, but communicated with
the outer world by means of roofs and trees, like the
other untameable creatures in the garrets. On returning
home after an absence I sought him vainly, and have
never encountered him since.

Cats. 47

This individual lived on the confines of civilisation,
and it is possible that his tendency to friendliness might
have been developed into a feeling more completely
trustful by greater delicacy and care. I happened to
mention him to an hotel-keeper who was unusually fond
of animals, and unusually successful in winning their
affections. He told me that his own cats were remark-
able for their uncommon tameness, being very much
petted and caressed, and constantly in the habit of see-
ing numbers of people who came to the hotel, and he
advised me to try a kitten of his breed. This kitten,
from hereditary civilisation, behaved with the utmost
confidence from the beginning, and, with the exception
of occasional absences for his own purposes, has lived
with me regularly enough. In winter he generally sleeps
upon my dog, who submits in patience; and I have often
found him on horseback in the stable, not from any
taste for equestrianism, but simply because a horse-cloth
is a perpetual warmer when there is a living horse be-
neath it.
All who have written upon cats are unanimous in
the opinion that their caressing ways bear reference
simply to themselves. My cat loves the dog and horse
exactly with the tender sentiment we have for foot-
warmers and railway rugs during a journey in the
depth of winter, nor have I ever been able to detect
any worthier feeling towards his master. Ladies are
often fond of cats, and pleasantly encourage the illu-
sion that they are affectionate; it is said too that very
intellectual men have often a liking for the same ani-

48 Chapters on Anzmals.

mal. In both these cases the attachment seems to be
due more to certain other qualities of the cat than to
any strength of sentiment on his part. Of all animals
that we can have in a room with us, the cat is the least
disturbing. Dogs bring so much dirt into houses that
many ladies have a positive horror of them; squirrels
leap about in a manner highly dangerous to the orna-
ments of a drawing-room; whilst monkeys are so incor-
rigibly mischievous that it is impossible to tolerate them,
notwithstanding the nearness of the relationship. But
you may have a cat in the room with you without
anxiety about anything except eatables. He will rob
a dish if he can get at it, but he will not, except by
the rarest of accidents, displace a sheet of paper or
upset an inkstand. The presence of a cat is posi-
tively soothing to a student, as the presence of a quiet
nurse is soothing to the irritability of an invalid. It is
agreeable to feel that you are not absolutely alone,
and it seems to you, as you work, as if the cat took
care that all her movements should be noiseless, purely
out of consideration for your comfort. Then, if you
have time to caress her, you know that there will be
purring responses, and why inquire too closely into
the sincerity of her gratitude ? There have been in-
stances of people who surrounded themselves with cats;
old maids have this fancy sometimes, which is intelli-
gible, because old maids delight in having objects on
which to lavish their inexhaustible kindness, and their
love of neatness and comfort is in harmony with the
neat habits of these comfort-appreciating creatures. A

Cats. 49

dog on velvet is evidently out of place, he would be
as happy on clean straw, but a cat on velvet does not
awaken any sense of the incongruous. It is more diffi-
cult to understand how men of business ever take to
cats. A well-known French politician, who certainly
betrayed nothing feminine in his speeches, was so fond
of cats that it was impossible to dine peaceably at his
house on account of four licensed feline marauders which
promenaded upon the dinner-table, helping themselves
to everything, and jumping about the shoulders of the
guests. It may be observed that in Paris cats fre-
quently appear upon the table in another shape. I
once stayed in a house not very far from the great tri-
umphal arch; and from my window, at certain hours
of the day, might be observed a purveyor of dead cats
who supplied a small cheap restaurant in a back street.
I never went to eat at that restaurant, but ascertained
that it had a certain reputation for a dish supposed to
be made of rabbits. During the great siege, many
Parisians who may frequently have eaten cat without
knowing it (as you also may perchance have done,
respected reader) came to eat cat with clear know-
ledge of the true nature of the feast, and they all
seem to agree that it was very good. Our prejudices
about the flesh we use for food are often inconsistent,
the most reasonable one seems to be a preference for
vegetable feeders, yet we eat lobsters and pike. The
truth is that nobody who eats even duck can consist-
ently have a horror of cat's flesh on the ground of the
animal's habits. And although the cat is a carnivorous

50 Czapters on Animals.

animal, it has a passionate fondness for certain vege-
table substances, delighting in the odour of valerian,
and -in the taste of asparagus, the former to ecstasy,
the latter to downright gluttony.
Since artists cannot conveniently have lions and
tigers in their studios, they sometimes like to have
cats merely that they may watch the ineffable grace of
their motions. Stealthy and treacherous as they are,
they have yet a quite peculiar finish of 4tyle in action,
far surpassing, in certain qualities of manner, the most
perfectly-trained action of horses, or even the grace of
the roe-deer or the gazelle. All other animals are stiff
in comparison with the felines, all other animals have
distinctly bodies supported by legs, reminding one of
the primitive toy-maker's conception of a quadruped,
a cylinder on four sticks, with a neck and head at one
end and a tail at the other. But the cat no more
recalls this rude anatomy than does a serpent. From
the tips of his whiskers to the extremities of tail and
claws he is so much living india-rubber. One never
thinks of muscles and bones whilst looking at him
(/as he any muscles and bones ?), but only of the re-
served electric life that lies waiting under the softness
of the fur. What bursts of energy the creature is
capable of! I once shut up a half-wild cat in a room
and he flew about like a frightened bird, or like leaves
caught in a whirlwind. He dashed against the win-
dow-panes like sudden hail, ran up the walls like
arrested water, and flung himself everywhere with such
rapidity that he filled as much space, and filled it almost

Cats. 51

as dangerously, as twenty flashing swords. And yet this
incredibly wild energy is in the creature's quiet habit
subdued with an exquisite moderation. The cat always
uses precisely the necessary force, other animals roughly
employ what strength they happen to possess without
reference to the small occasion. One day I watched
a young cat playing with a daffodil. She sat on her
hind-legs and patted the flower with her paws, first
with one paw and then with the other, making the
light yellow bell sway from side to side, yet not injur-
ing a petal or a stamen. She took a delight, evidently,
in the very delicacy of the exercise, whereas a dog or
a horse has no enjoyment of delicacy in his own move-
ments, but acts strongly when he is strong, without
calculating whether the force used may not be in great
part superfluous. This proportioning of the force to the
need is well known to be one of the evidences of refined
culture, both in manners and in the fine arts. If ani-
mals could speak as fabulists have feigned, the dog
would be a blunt, blundering, outspoken, honest fel-
low, but the cat would have the rare talent of never
saying a word too much. A hint of the same charac-
ter is conveyed by the sheathing of the claws, and also
by the contractability of the pupil of the eye. The
hostile claws are invisible, and are not shown when
they are not wanted, yet are ever sharp and ready.
The eye has a narrow pupil in broad daylight, receiv-
ing no more sunshine than is agreeable, but it will
gradually expand as twilight falls, and clear vision needs
a larger and larger surface. Some of these cat-quali-

52 Chapters on Animals.

ties are very desirable in criticism. The claws of a
critic ought to be very sharp, but not perpetually pro-
minent, and his eye ought to see far into rather ob-
scure subjects without being dazzled by plain daylight.
It is odd that, notwithstanding the extreme beauty
of cats, their elegance of motion, the variety and inten-
sity of their colour, they should be so little painted
by considerable artists. Almost all the pictures of cats
which I remember were done by inferior men, often by
artists of a very low grade indeed. The reason for this
is probably, that although the cat is a refined and very
voluptuous animal, it is so wanting in the nobler qua-
lities as to fail in winning the serious sympathies of
noble and generous-hearted men. M. Manet once very
appropriately introduced a black cat on the bed of a
Parisian lorette, and this cat became quite famous for a
week or two in all the Parisian newspapers, being also
cleverly copied by the caricaturists. No other painted
cat ever attracted so much attention, indeed Le chat
de M. Manet' amused Paris as Athens amused itself
with the dog of Alcibiades.
M. Manet's cat had an awful look, and depths of
meaning were discoverable in its eyes of yellow flame
set in the blackness of the night. There has always
been a feeling that a black cat was not altogether
'canny.' Many of us, if we were quite sincere, would
confess to a superstition about black cats. They seem
to know too much, and is it not written that their ances-
tors were the companions and accomplices of witches in
the times of old? Who can tell what baleful secrets


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Ca/s. 53

may not have been transmitted through their genera-
tions? There can be no doubt that cats know a great
deal more than they choose to tell us, though occa-
sionally they may let a secret out in some unguarded
moment. Shelley the poet, who had an intense sense
of the supernatural, narrates the following history, as he
heard it from Mr. G. Lewis :-
'A gentleman on a visit to a friend who -lived on the
skirts of an extensive forest on the east of Germany lost his
way. He wandered for some hours among the trees, when
he saw a light at a distance. On approaching it, he was sur-
prised to observe that it proceeded from the interior of a
ruined monastery. Before he knocked, he thought it prudent
to look through the window. He saw a multitude of cats
assembled round a small grave, four of whom were letting
down a coffin with a crown upon it. The gentleman, startled
at this unusual sight, and imagining that he had arrived among
the retreats of fiends or witches, mounted his horse and rode
away with the utmost precipitation. He arrived at his friend's
house at a late hour, who had sat up for him. On his arrival,
his friend questioned as to the cause of the traces of trouble
visible in his face. He began to recount his adventure, after
much difficulty, knowing that it was scarcely possible that his
friends should give faith to his relation. No sooner had he
mentioned the coffin with a crown upon it, than his friend's
cat, who seemed to have been lying asleep before the fire,
leaped up, saying, Then I am the King of the Cats !" and
scrambled up the chimney and was seen no more.'
Now, is not that a remarkable story, proving, at the
same time, the attention cats pay to human conversa-
tion even when they outwardly seem perfectly indiffe-
rent to it, and the monarchical character of their poli-

54 Ch/zipers on Atnizals.

tical organisation, which without this incident might have
remained for ever unknown to us ? This happened, we
are told, in eastern Germany; but in our own island,
less than a hundred years ago, there remained at least
one cat fit to be the ministrant of a sorceress. When
Sir Walter Scott visited the Black Dwarf, 'Bowed Davie
Ritchie,' the Dwarf said, 'Man, hae ye any poo'r?' meaning
power of a supernatural kind, and he added solemnly,
pointing to a large black cat whose fiery eyes shone in
a dark corner of the cottage, 'HE haspoo'r!' In Scott's
place any imaginative person would have more than half
believed Davie, as indeed did his illustrious visitor. The
ancient Egyptians, who knew as much about magic as
the wisest of the moderns, certainly believed that the
cat had poor, or they would not have mummified him
with such painstaking conscientiousness. It may easily
be imagined, that in times when science did not exist a
creature, whose fur emitted lightning when anybody
rubbed it in the dark, must have inspired great awe,
and there is really an air of mystery about cats which
considerably exercises the imagination. This impression
would be intensified in the case of people born with a
physical antipathy to cats, and there are such persons.
A Captain Logan, of Knockshinnock in Ayrshire, is
mentioned in one of the early numbers of Chambers'
Journal as having this antipathy in the strongest form.
He simply could not endure the sight of cat or kitten,
and though a tall, strong man, would do anything to
escape from the objects of his instinctive and uncontrol-
lable hoiror, climbing upon chairs if a cat entered the

Cats. 55

room, and not daring to come down till the creature
was removed from his presence. These mysterious re-
pugnances are outside the domain of reason. Many
people, not without courage, are seized with involuntary
shudderings when they see a snake or a toad; others
could not bring themselves to touch a rat, though the
rat is one of the cleanliest of animals-not, certainly, as
to his food, but his person. It may be presumed that
one Mrs. Griggs, who lived, I believe, in Edinburgh, did
not share Captain Logan's antipathy, for she kept in her
house no less than eighty-six living cats, and had, be-
sides, twenty-eight dead ones in glass cases, immortal-
ised by the art of the taxidermist. If it is true, and it
certainly is so in a great measure, that those who love
most know most, then Mrs. Griggs would have been a
much more competent person to write on cats than the
colder-minded author of these chapters. It is wonder-
ful to think how much that good lady must have known
of the loveablencss of cats, of those recondite qualities
which may endear them to the human heart!
What a difference in knowledge and feeling concern-
ing cats between Mrs. Griggs and a gamekeeper! The
gamekeeper knows a good deal about them too, but it
is not exactly affection which has given keenness to his
observation. He does not see a 'dear sweet pet' in every
cat that crosses his woodland paths, but the most destruc-
tive of poachers, the worst of 'vermin.' And there can
be no doubt that from his point of view the gamekeeper
is quite right, even as good Mrs. Griggs may have been
from hers. If cats killed game from hunger only, there

56 Ciapters on Anill'als.

would be a limit to their depredations, but unfortunately
they have the instinct of sport, which sportsmen consider
a very admirable quality in themselves, but regard with
the strongest disapprobation in other animals. Mr.
Frank Buckland says, that when once a cat has acquired
the passion for hunting it becomes so strong that it
is impossible to break him of it. He knew a cat which
had been condemned to death, but the owner begged
its life on condition that it should be shut up every
night and well fed. The very first night of its incarce-
ration it escaped up the chimney, and was found the
next morning, black with soot, in one of the game-
keeper's traps. The keeper easily determines what kind
of animal has been committing depredations in his ab-
sence. 'Every animal has his own way of killing and
eating his prey. The cat always turns the skin inside
out, leaving the same reversed like a glove. The weasel
and stoat will eat the brain and nibble about the head,
and suck the blood. The fox will always leave the legs
and hinder parts of a hare or a rabbit ; the dog tears
his prey to pieces, and eats it anyhow-all over the
place ;" the crows and magpies always peck at the eyes
before they touch any part of the body.'
'Again,' continues Mr. Frank Buckland, 'let the
believer in the innocence of Mrs. Puss listen to the crow
of the startled pheasant; he will hear him tree," as the
keeper calls it, and from his safe perch up in a branch
again crow as if to summon his protector to his aid.
No second summons does the keeper want; he at once
runs to the spot, and there, stealing with erect ears,

Cats. 57

glaring eyes, and limbs collected together, and at a high
state of tension, ready for the fatal spring, he sees-
what ?-the cat, of course, caught in the very attitude
of premeditated poaching.'
This love of sport might perhaps be turned to ac-
count if cats were trained as larger felines are trained
for the princes of India. A fisherman of Portsmouth,
called 'Robinson Crusoe,' made famous by Mr. Buck-
land, had a cat called 'Puddles,' which overcame the
horror of water characteristic of his race, and employed
his piscatorial talents in the service of his master :-

'He was the wonderfullest water-cat as ever came out of
Portsmouth Harbour was Puddles, and he used to go out
a-fishing with me every night. On cold nights he would sit in
my lap while I was a-fishing and poke his head out every now
and then, or else I would wrap him up in a sail, and make him
lay quiet. He'd lay down on me when I was asleep, and if
anybody come he'd swear a good one, and have the face off on
'em if they went to touch me; and he'd never touch a fish, not
even a little teeny pout, if you did not give it him. I was
obligated to take him out a-fishing, for else he would stand and
youl and marr till I went back and catched him by the poll
and shied him into the boat, and then he was quite happy.
When it was fine he used to stick up at the bows of the boat
and sit a-watching the dogs (i. e. dog-fish). The dogs used to
come alongside by thousands at a time, and when they was
thick all about he would dive in and fetch them out, jammed
in his mouth as fast as may be, just as if they was a parcel of
rats, and he did not tremble with the cold half as much as a
Newfoundland dog; he was used to it. He looked terrible
wild about the head when he came up out of the water with
the dog-fish. I larnt him the water myself. One day, when

58 / C/aplers on Animals.

he was a kitten, I took him down to the sea to wash and brush
the fleas out of him, and in a week he could swim after a
feather or a cork.'
Of the cat in a state of nature few of us have seen
very much. The wild cat has become rare in the British
islands, but the specimens shot occasionally by game-
keepers are very superior in size and strength to the
familiar occupant of the hearth-rug. I remember that
when I lived at Loch Awe, my next neighbour, a keeper
on the Cladich estate, shot one that quite astonished
me-a formidable beast indeed, to which the largest
domestic cat was as an ordinary human being to
Chang the giant indeed this comparison is insuffi-
cient. Wild cats are not usually dangerous to man,
for they prudently avoid him, but if such a creature
as that killed on Lochaweside were to show fight, an
unarmed man would find the situation very perilous.
I would much rather have to fight a wolf. There is
a tradition at the village of Barnborough, in Yorkshire,
that a man and a wild cat fought together in a wood
near there, and that the combat went on till they got
to the church-porch, when both died from their wounds.
It is the marvellous agility of the cat which makes him
such a terrible enemy; to say that he 'flies' at you
is scarcely a figure of speech. However, the wild cat,
when he knows that he is observed, generally seeks
refuge, as King Charles did at Boscobel, in the leafy
shelter of some shadowy tree, and there the deadly
leaden hail too surely follows him, and brings him to
earth again.

Cats. 59

Cats have the advantage of being very highly con-
nected, since the king of beasts is their blood-relation,
and it is certain that a good deal of the interest we
take in them is due to this august relationship. What
the merlin or the sparrow-hawk is to the golden eagle,
the cat is to the great felines of the tropics. The dif-
ference between a domestic cat and a tiger is scarcely
wider than that which separates a miniature pet dog
from a bloodhound. It is becoming to the dignity of
an African prince, like Theodore of Abyssinia, to have
lions for his household pets. The true grandeur and
majesty of a brave man are rarely seen in such visible
supremacy as when he sits surrounded by these ter-
rible creatures, he in his fearlessness, they in their awe;
he in his defenceless weakness, they with that mighty
strength which they dare not use against him. One
of my friends, distinguished alike in literature and
science, but not at all the sort of person, apparently,
to command respect from brutes who cannot estimate
intellectual greatness, had one day an interesting con-
versation with a lion-tamer, which ended in a still
more interesting experiment. The lion-tamer affirmed
that there was no secret in his profession, that real
courage alone was necessary, and that any one who
had the genuine gift of courage could safely enter the
cage along with him. 'For example, you yourself, sir,'
added the lion-tamer, 'if you have the sort of courage
I mean, may go into the cage with me whenever you
like.' On this my friend, who has a fine intellectual
coolness and unbounded scientific curiosity, willingly

60 Chapters on Animals.

accepted the offer, and paid a visit to their majesties
the lions in the privacy of their own apartment. They
received him with the politeness due to a brave man,
and after an agreeable interview of several minutes he
backed out of the royal presence with the gratified feel-
ings of a gentleman who has just been presented at



IT happened to me one night during the late war
in France to ride into the court-yard of an inn which
was full of French artillerymen. In the bustle and
hurry of the time it was useless to call for the services
of an ostler, so I set about seeking for stable-room
myself. In the French country inns there are no stalls,
and the only division between the horses, when there
is any separation at all, is a board suspended at one
end by an iron hook to the manger, and at the other
hanging from the roof by a knotted cord. In this
inn, however, even the hanging-board was wanting, and
about fifty artillery horses were huddled together so
closely as almost to touch each other, so that it was
difficult to find an open space for my mare. At last
I found an opening near a magnificent black animal,
which I supposed to be an officer's saddle-horse.
A fine horse is always an attraction for me, so as
soon as I had finished such arrangements as were pos-
sible for the comfort of my own beast, I began to
examine her neighbour rather minutely. He seemed

62 Chapters on Animals.

in perfect health, but at last I discovered a fresh wound
on the near foreleg, evidently caused by the fragment
of a shell- (There had been a battle at the place the
day before.) Turning to an artilleryman who was stand-
ing by, I asked if the veterinary surgeon thought he
could save the horse. 'No, sir, he is to be shot to-
morrow morning.' This decision seemed hard, for the
horse stood well, and was eating his hay tranquilly. I
felt strongly tempted to beg him, and see what rest and
care could accomplish.
At midnight I came back for my own mare. There
was a great and terrible change in her neighbour's con-
dition. He lay in the straw, half under her, the place
was so crowded. I shall never forget his piteous cries
and moans. He could not rise, and the shattered limb
was causing him cruel pain. His noble head lay at my
feet, and I stooped to caress it.
So this is the reward,' I thought, 'that man gives
to the best and bravest servant that he has A long
night of intolerable anguish, unrelieved by any attempt
whatever to soothe or ease his pain ; in the morning,
the delayed charity of a rifle-bullet!' This single in-
stance, which moved me because I had seen it, perhaps
a little also because the animal was beautiful and gentle,
what was it, after all, in comparison with the incalcu-
lable quantity of animal suffering which the war was
causing in half the provinces of France ? These reflec-
tions filled me with pain and sadness as I rode over the
battle-ground in the frosty moonlight. The dead horses
lay there still, just as they fell, and for them I felt no

Horses. 63

pity. Swift death, sudden oblivion, rest absolute, un-
conscious, eternal, these are not evils; but the pain of
the torn flesh and the shattered bone, the long agony
in hunger and cold, the anguish of the poor maimed
brutes, who struggle through the last dark passages of
existence, without either the pride of the soldier, the
reason of the philosopher, or the hope of the Christian
-that is Evil, pure and unmixed !
Like all who love animals much, I know and remem-
ber them as I know and remember men. During the
war I had acquaintances amongst the officers and sol-
diers, and acquaintances amongst their horses likewise;
and when they rode forth to battle I was pretty nearly
as anxious about the animals as about the brave men
who mounted them. I remember a Garibaldian ser-
geant, whose red shirt was frequently visible in my
court-yard, a youth overflowing with life, to whom the
excitement of a battle from time to time was as neces-
sary as that of a ball is to a lively young lady. His
way of riding was the nearest approach to that of
an enraptured bard on Pegasus that I ever witnessed
amongst the realities of the earth. My house is situated
something like a tower, with views in every direction,
and I used to amuse myself with watching him from the
upper windows when the fit of equestrian inspiration
was upon him. The red shirt flew first along the high-
road, then dashed suddenly down a lane; a little later
you could see it flashing scarlet along the outskirts of a
distant wood ; then, after a brief eclipse, it reappeared
in the most unexpected places. The lad careered in

64 Chapters on Animals.

this way simply for his amusement,-for the pulsation
of that wild delight that his fiery nature needed. It is
a fact that he did not even hold the reins. When these
mad fits of equestrianism seized him, he flung the bridle
on his charger's neck, threw his arms high in the air,
and then made them revolve like the paddle-wheels of
a steamer. He accompanied these gestures with wild
Italian cries, and a double stroke of the spurs. No
wonder if his horse galloped! And he did gallop.
When the rider wanted to turn down a lane he simply
gave his steed a hearty slap on the off-side of the neck,
-a hint which never seemed to be misunderstood. I
have witnessed a good deal of remarkable equestrianism,
but never anything like that. His horse was one of the
ugliest, and one of the best, that soldier ever bestrode.
I have a faint recollection of seeing a child's wooden
horse which so closely resembled it, that the artist must
have had some such model in his mind. A great round
barrel, that seemed as if it had been turned in a lathe,
a broad chest, straight strong legs, very short propor-
tionally, shoulders far forward relatively to the neck,
high withers, large ugly head, with a good-tempered
expression, a stump for a tail, and a rough coat of a bay
quite closely resembling red hair in the human species:
such were the various beauties of this war-horse. His
ugliness and his honest looks gave me a sort of attach-
ment to him; and his rider loved him dearly, and was
loud in his praise. At length the regiment was ordered
to Dijon, and severely engaged there in the Battle of
PAques. Afterwards I saw the sergeant's red shirt again,

Horses. 65

but he rode no longer that good animal. The poor
thing had had three of its four legs carried away by
a cannon-ball; but its master, though in the heat of
the battle, humanely ended its misery with his revolver.
These things, of course, are the every-day accidents of
war, in which horses are killed by thousands; but when
particular instances come under your observation, they
pain you, if you really love animals. I heartily wish
that horses could be dispensed with in war, and some
sort of steam-engine used instead, if it were possible. In
the orders given by Louis Napoleon at the opening of
the campaign of 1870, one detail seemed to me unneces-
sarily cruel. Orderlies were told not to hesitate to ride
their horses to death (de crever leurs montures). It is
certainly necessary on occasion, when the fate of thou-
sands depends upon- the speed of an animal, to avail
ourselves of that noble quality by which it will give its
last breath in devoted obedience; but soldiers are not
generally so tender that they need to be encouraged in
indiscriminate mercilessness. That glorious poem of
Browning's would be intolerable to our humanity, were
it not for the sweet touches of mercy at the end :-

By Hasselt, Dirck groaned ; and cried Joris, Stay spur :
Your Roos galloped bravely, the fault's not in her,
We'll remember at Aix "-for one heard the quick wheeze
Of her chest, saw the stretched neck, and staggering knees,
And sunk tail, and horrible heave of the flank,
As down on her haunches she shuddered and sank.'*

"* For intense power of literary workmanship I know nothing,
in any language, that goes beyond those four lines.

66 Chapters on Animals.

So we were left galloping, Joris and I,
Past Looz and past Tongres, no cloud in the sky ;
The broad sun above laughed a pitiless laugh,
'Neath our feet broke the brittle bright stubble, like chaff;
Till over by Dalhem a dome-spire sprang white,
And Gallop," gasped Joris, for Aix is in sight !"

How they'll greet us "-and all in a moment his roan
Rolled neck and croup over, lay dead as a stone;
And there was my Roland to bear the whole weight
Of the news which alone could save Aix from her fate,
With his nostrils like pits fill of blood to the brim,
And with circles of red for his eye-sockets' rim.'

All this is very terrible, and would be almost in the
spirit of the Imperial command to the orderlies to crever
leurs montures; were it not that the very strength of
the description shows how much the poet felt for the
suffering animals, though he expresses no sympathy
directly. But the tenderness of the man capable of
loving a good horse is reserved entirely for the last
two stanzas, where it is expressed in the manliest way,
yet in a way so affecting that no noble-minded person
who read the poem aloud could get through those last
stanzas, when he came to them, without some huskiness
of emotion in the voice, and, perhaps, just a little mis-
tiness in the eyes.

S Then I cast loose my buffcoat, each holster letfall,
Shook off my jack-boots, let go belt and all,
Stood up in the Wtirrup, leaned, patted his ear,
Called my Roland his pet-name, my horse without peer;
Clapped my hands, laughed and sang, any noise, bad or good,
Till at length into Aix Roland galloped and stood.

H-orses. 67

And all I remember is, friends flocking round,
And I sat with his head twixtt my knees, on the ground;
And no voice but was praising this Roland of mine,
As Ipoured down his throat our last measure of wine,
Which (the burgesses voted by common consent)
Was no more than his due who brought good news from Ghent.'

This is the ideal of the relation between man and
horse,-the horse serving man to his utmost, lending
him his swiftness with a perfect good will,-the man
accepting the service for a noble purpose, doing all he
can to make the work lighter for his servant, and at
last, when the great effort is over, caring for him as
tenderly and anxiously as if he were a brother or a son.
This is the ideal, but the reality too often falls short
of it on both sides. There does not exist in the minds
of owners of horses generally that touch of romantic
sentiment which translates itself in affectionate com-
panionship and tender care. The horse is a valuable
animal, and is, on the whole, looked after fairly well,
his health is cared for, he is usually well fed, and horses
used for private purposes are seldom overworked. But
there is a remarkable absence of sentiment in all this,
which is proved by the facility with which, in most
European countries, men sell their horses, often for
bodily infirmities or imperfections, in which there is
no question of temper, and especially by the custom
of selling a horse which has done faithful service, merely
because he is getting old and weaker than when in his
prime. This last custom proves- the absence of senti-
ment, the more completely that every one knows when

68 Chapfers on Animals.

selling an old horse that he is dooming him to harder
work and worse keep, and that the certain fate of a
horse which we part with because he is old, is a de-
scent to harder and harder conditions, till finally he is
worked to death in a cab, or in a cart belonging to
some master little less miserable than himself.
The whole subject of the relation between the horse
and his master depends upon the customs which regu-
late our life, and which have regulated the lives of our
forefathers, in all sorts of other ways. We are not
enough with our horses to educate either their intelli-
gence or their affections; and as there has been the
same separation in preceding centuries, the horse has
inherited a way of regarding men which scarcely tends
to make their relation more intimate. There are a few
exceptional cases in which traces of affection are dis-
tinctly perceptible in horses, but by far .the greater
number of them are either indifferent, or decidedly
hostile to humanity. Man loves the horse, at least
some men love him, -from feelings of gratitude and
pride. 'When your horse has carried you well in battle,
or on the hunting-field, you are grateful to him for the
exercise of his strength and courage in your service;
when he has borne you majestically on some occasion
of state, or enabled you to display the grace, and skill,
and the manly beauty of your person, before the ad-
miring eyes of ladies, you are proud of him as a statue,
if it could feel, would be proud of the magnificence of
its pedestal. The saddle is a sort of throne for man;
when seated there, he has under him the noblest of all

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Horses. 69

the brutes, so that he may be said to sit enthroned
above the whole animal creation. It is from a feeling
of the royalty of that position, that kings, if they are
good riders, always prefer to enter a city on horseback,
when a great effect is to be produced upon the minds
of the people, well knowing that a leather saddle, simple
and hard as it is, has more of royal dignity than the
silken cushions of the gilded coach of state. An in-
cident occurred lately on the entry of King Amadeus
into Lerida, which showed him, as by an acted simile,
in the character of a sovereign whose throne is not
stable, yet whose hand is firm. A shower of flowers
rained from a triumphal arch as the Savoyard king rode
under it, and his charger plunged so violently that no
one but a thorough horseman could have kept his place.
All the peoples of the earth like their kings to be fine
horsemen, and the crowd thought that in his tossing
saddle Amadeus came royally into Lerida!
Our pride in horses, our admiration of their beauty
and their strength, produce in us a certain feeling of
attachment to them, but rarely a deep affection. The
trouble of attending to the wants of horses, of grooming
and feeding them at stated times, can rarely be under-
taken by the owner himself, and would be a perpetual
annoyance to him unless he had a most exceptional
liking for the animal, so as to be always happy when
about the stable, as schoolboys are when the first ardent
9 a'inria is upon them. It is a trouble to most men
to be even obliged to exercise a horse quite regularly,
a rich man likes to have horses at his door when he

70 Cha5pters on Animals.

wants them, but to have no trouble about them at other
times, using them as living velocipedes, and thinking
no more about them in the intervals than if they were
made of well-painted iron. Hence, there comes a per-
sonage between the horse and his master, who feeds,
cleans, gently exercises the animal, and is seen and
heard more frequently by him in the course of one
week than his owner is in a month. There are the
long absences of the owner also, when he is staying in
other people's houses, or travelling, or at another resi-
dence of his where he has other horses, or in his yacht
where all horses whatever would be much out of place.
The owner, then, from the horse's point of view, is a
man who makes his appearance from time to time armed
with a whip and a pair of spurs, gets upon the horse's
back, compels him to trot, and gallop, and jump hedges,
and then suddenly disappears, it may be for several
weeks. The two lives are so widely separated that there
hardly can be any warm affection. If the horse loves
any one it is more likely to be the groom than the
master, but the groom has often disagreeable manners
(to which horses are extremely sensitive), and in some
houses he is changed as frequently as a French minister.
On the whole, the horse very seldom enjoys fair oppor-
tunities for attaching himself to any human being. It
would be interesting for a true XlXrc-orpdpooc, a rich
bachelor (a wife would object to the scheme), to live
permanently in a large hall, into which three or four
horses of a race already intelligent should be admitted
at all hours, from the time they were foals, just as dogs

Horses. 71

are in a bachelor's room in the country. They should
not be tied up, but freely allowed to walk about under
penalty of a reprimand if they upset the furniture, and
to poke their noses over their master's shoulder when
he was reading or eating his dinner, during which they
should have a lettuce, or a cabbage, or something else
to suit their tastes. In a word, I am supposing that in
this hippie Utopia the horses should be treated as nearly
as possible like dogs. It would be highly interesting to
watch the effect of such a continual association between
the horse and his master, and still more interesting if
it could be kept up during several generations. The
powers of affection in the horse are for the most part
latent. We see faint signs of them, and there is a
general belief that the horse has such powers, which
is founded partly on some exceptional examples, and
partly on a subtle satisfaction in believing that we are
beloved by our slaves. But the plain truth is, that
horses, as they live usually in our service, have little
to love us for, and most commonly regard us either
with indifference or dislike. The slightest demonstration
of attachment wins us in a moment, and we exaggerate
it because it flatters our amour propre. When a horse
neighs at our coming, it is most commonly a request
for corn, and some of his other demonstrations are very
equivocal. Some men tell you'when their horses set
their ears back, and show the white of their eye, and
try to bite, and kick at them in the stable, that all
these are merely signs of playful affection. In short,
there is a distinct passion in man's heart for which the

72 Chiapters on Animals.

Greeks had a name, but which in England we call the
love of horses, and this has its illusions like every other
passion. Knowing this, I hardly dare venture to say
precisely what I think about the horse, but a well-known
French saying is applicable to his case : En amour, I'un
des deux aime, et l'autre se laisse aimer. So I should say
of the horse, il se laisse aimer.
When we come to the active vices, the hatred and
rebellion of the horse against his master express them-
selves very plainly, much more plainly than equine
affection expresses itself ever. Many of these vices are
hereditary in the equine blood, and are a tradition of
ill-usage. The way in which they burst forth in horses,
apparently of the most tranquil character, is one of the
mysteries of nature. Three instances have occurred in
my own stable, of animals becoming suddenly and irre-
mediably vicious, passing in the course of three or four
days from a state like that of Paris under the Empire to
the rage and rebellion of Paris under the Commune,
and neither in these cases, nor in any other that has
come under my observation, has a real vice ever been
permanently eradicated. Horses become vicious from
many causes; the most frequent, I think, is idleness,
in combination with confinement and good keep. Out
at grass a horse becomes wild rather than vicious, and
mere wildness is easily curable by gentleness and pa-
tience. Tied up in a stable, with plenty of hay and
corn, his system accumulates the electricity of irritabi-
lity which ought to have been regularly expended in

f rx


Horses. 73

work, and it explodes in dangerous violence. Four
days' idleness in an inn-stable, during wet weather, cost
me the most valuable horse I ever possessed. On the
fifth day no man could ride him, and no man was ever
able to ride him afterwards.* A black Irish horse, who
served me well during a year, and was an excellent
leaper, was suddenly lost to me in the same way, and
the same thing occurred with a powerful Scotch Gallo-
way. Most men who have had some experience of
horses will have known such cases. No form of dis-
appointment is more provoking. The animal, after vice
has declared itself, seems exactly the same creature
that he did before. Has he not the same limbs, shape,
colour ? I not the spot of white upon his forehead pre-
cisely in the same place? Is not his tail of the same
length ? Nothing is altered that the eye may detect,
but there is the same change that there is in a wine-
bottle when somebody has poured the wine out and
replaced it with deadly poison. In the animal's brain
there dwelt a spirit that was your most faithful servant,
-your most humble and dutiful friend; that spirit is
gone, and instead of it there is a demon who is deter-
mined to kill you whenever an opportunity offers. The
Teutonic legends of black steeds with fiery eyes that
were possessed by evil spirits, are no more than the

"* I begged the late Lord Hawke, who was the best rider, or
one of the three best, I ever knew, to make a trial of him, but the
results were the same as with myself and the rough-riders, and the
verdict, 'Nothing to be made of him.'

74 C'rLpters on Animals.

poetical form that clothes an indubitable truth. The
nature of the horse is such that he is capable of end-
less, irreconcilable rage, against his master, and against
humanity,-a temper of chronic hate and rebellion like
that of Milton's fallen angels, keeping the fierce re-
'To wage by force or guile eternal war

If there is anything in the world of nature that seems
clear, morally, it is, that man has an authentic right to
require reasonable service from the horse. The adapt-
ation of the animal to labour of various kinds, the use
that man has made of him from the dawn of history,
are enough to prove a Divine intention. It. is foolish
enough, I know, to carry speculation about Divine inten-
tions far, because slave-owners might speak, and have
spoken, of obvious Divine intentions in their favour; and
if a tiger ever wasted his time in theological controversy,
he might prove a Divine intention in favour of his eating
Englishmen. However this may be, I feel perfectly satis-
fied that man was made to be equestrian (at least, a
certain proportion of mankind), and that the horse was
made to carry him; and with this conviction I have no
hesitation in making the horse do his duty, by gentle
means, if possible,-by harsher means, if necessary. But
when a horse is once really and truly possessed by a
devil, gentleness is of no use. Then come the great
combats, the great cruelties; and the more cruel you are
the more does the creature hate you. If you are mild,

Horses. 75

he regards you with contempt; if harsh, with ever-
increasing hatred. In these cases there is no medium,
and it is only men who are endowed with a peculiar
physical (perhaps magnetic) influence over horses, who
can effect anything like a reconciliation.
When you see, however, the thousands upon thou-
sands of horses which do their duty, on the whole safely
and well, in London, in the country, in the army, about
railway-stations, breweries, and business places of all
kinds, you will conclude that the horse-demons are rare
in proportion; and, indeed, happily they are so. Most
horses are fairly good, and in some races almost all
of them are docile. In other races vices of different
kinds are very common. Take the Corsican ponies, for
instance, a hardy little race of much speed and endur-
ance, very useful to drive in pairs in small phaetons;
they are nearly always vicious, though seldom vicious
enough to interfere materially with their usefulness. A
tiny pair were offered me with a pretty carriage, the
whole equipage suspiciously cheap, but I discovered
that one of the charming little creatures would kick
like the youthful Tommy Newcome in Doyle's sketch,
and the other bit like a wolf. Afterwards, I found
that these accomplishments were common to the Cor-
sican breed; in fact, that they were generally as ener-
getic, but as wilful and difficult to deal with, as their
little human compatriot, Napoleon. On the other hand,
there are breeds where gentle tempers and amiable
manners are hereditary.

76 Chapters on Animals.

In the etchings which accompany this chapter,
Veyrassat has given us the horse at liberty and in
service. Both plates represent very happy moments
of equine life, for sweet to the horse are the Elysian
fields of liberty, and sweet also the hour of rest, and
the feed by the way-side inn.



HORSES (continued).

THE second of the two illustrations which accom-
pany this chapter, representing horses on a battle-field,
has none of the romantic beauty with which painters
have so often given a delusive charm to subjects of a
like nature; but the ugliness of this etching (a sort of
ugliness which is quite admissible in serious art) may
be attributed to strong and recent impressions received
by the artist from the reality itself. The peaceful in-
habitants of London have ideas about cavalry horses
which would be greatly modified by a week's experi-
ence of Continental warfare. The British army requires
few horses in comparison with the vast numbers which
are absorbed by the forces of Germany or France, so
that there is wider latitude for selection, and no horse
which has the honour of carrying a British soldier is
ever publicly seen in his native land without having
everything that can affect his appearance entirely in
his favour. The man who rides him, though apparently
his master, is in reality his servant, as every youth who
enters the ranks of a cavalry regiment discovers when

78 ChaJpters on Anim;l als.

his young illusions fade. All the things which the animal
has to carry are, by the craft and taste of the clever
equipment-makers, turned into so many ornaments; and
even when not positively beautiful in themselves, are so
devised as to enhance the martial effect, and make you
feel that you are in the presence of a war-horse. Bright
steel and brass, in forms unused about the saddlery of
civilians; furs and saddle-cloths, 'the latter decorated
with lace round the edges, and perhaps even embroi-
dery in the corners; a luxury of straps and chains, a
massiveness peculiarly military ; all this strikes the civi-
lian imagination, and the battle-steed, even when not in
himself a particularly perfect animal, has generally a
noble and imposing air. All his belongings are. kept
so clean and bright that we respect him as a member
of the aristocracy of horses. He is brushed and groomed
as if he came from the stables of a prince. To these
advantages may be added that of his superior educa-
tion, which tells in every movement, and his pride, for
he is proud of all his superiorities, and the consciousness
of them gives grace to the curve of his neck, and fire
to his eye, and dignity to his disdainful stepping.
These glories of the war-horse are to be seen in their
highest perfection in that prosperous and peaceful capi-
tal of England where the thunder of an enemy's can-
non has never yet been heard. The English household
troops are the ideal cavalry, good in service on the field
of serious conflict, but especially and peculiarly admir-
able as a spectacle. I had almost written that the
poetry of warfare was to be best seen in a charge of

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Horses. 79

the Life-guards at a review, but there is a yet deeper
poetry in some of war's realities where the element of
beauty is not so conspicuously present. The boy's ideal
of the war-horse is that coal-black, silken-coated charger
that bears the helmeted cuirassier, and all those glitter-
ing arms and ornaments dazzle the imagination and fill
the martial dreams of youth. Well, it is very fine, very
beautiful, and we like to see the Royal Guards flashing
past after the Court carriages; but last winter I saw
another sight, and renounced the boy's ideal.
The arniies of Chanzy had been defeated on the
Loire, and their broken remnants passed as they could
to join the desperate enterprise of Bourbaki for the
relief of Belfort. In the depth of that terrible winter,
the roads covered with snow, with a bitter wind sweep-
ing across the country from the east, and every water-
fall a pillar of massy ice, there came two or three
thousand horsemen from those disastrous battle-fields.
Slowly they passed over the hills that divide the east-
ern from the western rivers, an irregular procession
broken by great intervals, so that we always thought no
more of them were coming, yet others followed, strag-
ling in melancholy groups. What a contrast to the
brilliance of a review How different from the march-
ings-past when the Emperor sat in his embroidery on
the Champ de Mars and the glittering hosts swept
before him, saluting with polished swords Ah, these
horsemen came from another and a bloodier field of
Mars; they had been doing the rough work of the
war-god and bore the signs of it The brass of their

80 Chapters on Animals.

helmets shone no more than the dull leopard-skin be-
neath it, the lancers had poles without pennons, the
bits and stirrups were rusty, and the horses were en-
cumbered with tins and pans for rude cookery, and
bundles of hay, and coarse coverings for the bitter
bivouac. Here and there a wearied brute was led
slowly by a merciful master; a few were still suffering
from wounds, all were meagre and overworked, not one
had been groomed for weeks. Yet here, I said, as the
weary troops passed by, and others like them loomed
in grey masses as they approached through the falling
snow,-here, and not on the brilliant parade-ground, now
in this busy harvest-time of death, not then in the light-
ness of their leisure, are the battle-steeds most sublime !
All the fopperies of soldiering had been rubbed away by
the rough hand of implacable Necessity, but instead of
them what a moving pathos what grandeur of patient
endurance! Grotesque they all were certainly, but it
was a grotesqueness of that highest kind which is infi-
nitely and irresistibly affecting. The women laughed
at those sorry brutes, those meagre Rosinantes, and
at the wonderful odd figures that sat upon them, like
Quixotes in quilts, riding on the wildest of expeditions
to meet starvation under the dark Jura pine-trees,-but
whilst the women laughed the tears ran down their
cheeks. And here, in this etching of Veyrassat, you
see what the poor creatures were going to, and how
at last they were permitted to take their rest. Yes,
here you have the plain truth about the war-horse.
Veyrassat has not represented him as a delicately-bred

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: _. --- .--

Horses. 8 I

animal, and he has treated his saddlery with the most
complete indifference. This comes of having been
recently impressed by a sight of the reality. Artists
who have never seen war are usually very particular
about spots of light on stirrup and bit, and about the
various inventions of the military clothier, but Veyrassat
has told his tale very plainly by the expression of the
two heads and bodies, the dead horse lying like, what
he is, a mere heap of unconscious carrion, the wounded
one vainly endeavouring to rise and neighing to his
departing friends which he will accompany no more.
Horses feel these separations more than they feel any
separation from human friend or master, so that this
is a touch of nature. A dog would have been occupied
in passionate outbreaks of lamentation for his master
lying stretched there on the turf, and would have neither
followed, nor thought of following, any living being;
but the horse forms his friendships amongst creatures
of his own kind. Not to be able to go along with his
old comrades, to be fixed to one spot of turf by a
shattered limb whilst they are galloping to the horizon,
must be the most cruel pain that this creature can
ever suffer in his sentiments and affections.
The conspicuous merit of the horse, which has given
him the dearly-paid honour of sharing in our wars, is his
capacity for being disciplined,-and a very great capa-
city it is, a very noble gift indeed; nobler than much
cleverness. Several animals are cleverer than the horse
in the way of intelligence; not one is so amenable to
discipline. He is not observant, except of places; not

82 Chaptlers on Animals.

nearly so observant as half-a-dozen other animals we
know. His eye never fixes itself long in a penetrating
gaze, like the mild, wistful watchfulness of the dog, or
the steady flame of the lion's luminous orbs, but he can
listen and obey, and his acts of obedience pass easily
by repetition into fixed habits, so that you never have
to teach him more than one thing at a time. The way
to educate a horse is to do as Franklin did in the for-
mation of his moral habits--that is, to aim at one per-
fection at once, and afterwards, when that has become
easy from practice, and formed itself into a habit, to try
for some other perfection. A good horse never forgets
your lessons. There are unteachable brutes which ought
to be handed over to rude masters and rough work, but
every horse of average intelligence and gentle temper
may be very highly educated indeed. Beyond this aver-
age degree of teachableness there are exceptional cases
-the horses of genius; for genius (an exceptional vigour
and intensity of the mental faculties with correspond-
ingly larger powers of acquisition) exists amongst the
lower animals in due degree as it does in the human
species. A few animals of this remarkable degree of
endowment are picked up by the proprietors of circuses,
and so become known to the public, but the proba-
bility is that a much larger proportion remain in the
obscurity of ordinary equine life, and that their gifts
escape attention. Most of us have seen remarkable per-
formances of trained horses. The most remarkable that
I ever saw were those of that wonderful black gelding
that Pablo Fanque used to ride. There can be no

Horses. 83

doubt that he had pride and delight in his own extra-
ordinary intelligence and perfect education, just as some
great poet or painter may delight in the richness of his
gifts and the perfection of his work. But the circus per-
formance is not the ideal aim of equine accomplishment.
One would not care much to have a horse that would
dance or fire a pistol, or pick up a pocket-handkerchief,
yet it would be pleasant to have in our horses the degree
of docility and intelligence which circus-trainers direct
to these vain objects. Many accomplishments might be
attained that would be valuable everywhere. It would
be extremely convenient if a horse would follow you
without being pulled by halter or bridle, and wait for
you in one place without being fastened. A man who
had travelled amongst the Arabs told me that he had
seen many horses that would stand where they were left,
without any fastening, and some will follow you like a
dog. A great deal of accomplishment may go into the
ordinary work of saddle and carriage-horses, and almost
escape notice because we think it only natural. But
how wide is the difference between a trained horse and
a raw one! How slight are the indications by which
the master conveys the expression of his will, how rapid
and exact the apprehension With horses of the finest
organisation this apprehension rises into a sympathy
above the necessity for any definite command, they
know the master's will by a sense of faint pressures,
of limb on saddle, of hand on rein. I used to ride a
horse which would go on trotting so long as I was
not tired, but when I began to feel fatigued he walked,

84 Chafpters on Animals.

knowing by my altered manner of rising in the saddle
that rest would be a relief to me. By this accurate
interpretation of our muscular action, even when it is
so slight as to be imperceptible to the eye of a by-
stander, the horse measures the skill, the strength, the
resolution of his rider. He knows at once whether you
are at home in the saddle or not, and if your move-
ments do not correspond accurately to his own, he is
aware that he can take liberties. A bad rider may
sometimes deceive the people in the street, but it may
be doubted whether he ever deceived the animal under
him. It is evident that a bad rider must be extremely
disagreeable to a horse of refined feeling, disagreeable
as an awkward partner in dancing is disagreeable. The
intelligence of horses is shown in nothing so much as
in their different behaviour under different men. When
a thorough horseman gets into the saddle the creature
he mounts is aware that there are the strongest reasons
for behaving himself properly, and it is only the mad
rebels that resist. Not only can a good horseman over-
come opposition better than a bad one, but he has much
less opposition to overcome. The very best horsemen,
amongst gentlemen, are often scarcely even aware of the
real difficulties of riding, their horses obey them so well,
and are so perfectly suited to their work. An English
lady who rides admirably, told me that she did not
deserve so much credit as she got, because the excel-
lence of her horses made riding quite easy for her, and
she declared that even in her boldest leaps the secousse
was not very violent. There is a good deal of truth

Horses. 85

in this, which is often overlooked. The relation be-
tween horse and rider is mutual, and each shows the
other to advantage.
Whilst on this subject of riding, let me express a
regret that good horsemanship is becoming rarer and
rarer in proportion to the numbers of the population.
The excellence of modern roads, which has led to the
universal employment of wheeled carriages, and the
introduction of railways, which are now used by all
classes for long or rapid journeys, have together reduced
horsemanship, in the case of civilians, to the rank of
a mere amusement, or an exercise for the benefit of
health. In fact, it is coming to this, that nobody but
rich men and their grooms will know how to ride on
horseback; whereas in former generations, when the bad
roads reduced all travelling to an alternative between
riding and pedestrianism, men of all degrees and con-
ditions went on horseback for considerable distances,
and became skilful, no doubt, in proportion to the fre-
quency of their practice. What a great deal of riding
there is in the Waverley novels Not only the baron
and the knight, but also the tradesman, the commercial
traveller, the citizen of every rank, go on horseback from
place to place. How much healthy and invigorating
exercise the men of our generation miss which their
forefathers frequently enjoyed Imagine the benefit to
a manly youth of the last century, fastened in London
behind a counter or a desk, when he was ordered to
ride on business to Lincoln, or York, or Edinburgh !
He had before him weeks of the manliest life a human

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