« PreviousContinue »
desertion leaves him broken-hearted. Both his joys and his griefs reach to the highest tone of ecstasy, and the heartstring cracks under the mental tension.
A lady of my acquaintance had a King Charles' spaniel, which on her return from a lengthened absence, devoured her with caresses and then suddenly fell motionless on the hearth-rug. She picked him up—his eyes turned back in his head, and he died instantly. Instances of this acute sensibility in the nature of the Dog are numerous.
Where flies that subtle spark of Heaven's fire,
This devoted, beautiful, sagacions, and noble animal teaches to man the sublime lesson of the forgiveness of injuries; and though so inferior to him in gifts and power, holds continually before him a model well worthy his imitation in moral conduct. And doubtless, through ages the influence of this silent example must have been great. Several of the most ancient writings of the world show, that in remote ages the Dog was the servant and the friend of man; while the archives of Nature prove his existence and association with the human race at far earlier periods. Indeed, without his protection and assistance, giving as he does to man an additional sense, probably he could never have maintained himself. Even now, all would suffer, and some whole races lose existence if deprived of the dog. Man, both savage and civilized, is served and solaced by him.
An illustrious naturalist has termed the alliance of man with the dog the most complete conquest ever achieved by man over the animal kingdom. But conquest it never was; the dog joined man as his friend ; such devoted service never came by force or by hire. From the cradle to the grave he has always proved himself our protector, companion, and friend—alike in the cottage or the castle, the hovel or the palace,—to the weak, the poor, and the deformed, as to the powerful, the wealthy, and the beautiful,-ever true. An unalienable friend through all the changes and vicissitudes of life, sharing equally the luxury of the monarch, or the stale crust of the mendicant. Sonnini, speaking of the homeless and masterless dogs of Egypt, says: “ Repelled by man, to whose personal use nature seems to have destined them, they are, nevertheless, incapable of deserting him.”
It has been well remarked, that the poets of various lands and different ages have delighted in commemorating the virtues of this favourite animal, as though they recognised in his devotion to man something of the love and obedience with which man should look up to his Heavenly Father and Almighty Friend.
The father of poets, on whose imperishable works the tides of time beat in vain, has given to the world the most touching picture of the dog perhaps ever drawn. This portrait,