« PreviousContinue »
III., 382. Legislation of Edward I. concerning dogs, 383. Maiming
F all animals, the dog appeals most strongly to the
hearts of human beings. It is the dog that by feeling, instinct, and education, can best appreciate our care, our love. Take the dog in the aggregate, weigh him against ourselves in moral qualities, such as patience, trustfulness; unselfishness -has he not often proved an example to shame man?
How frequently the brute is our superior ! If the world fail you, go home, and if you have a dog, there you will find a friend ever to be depended on.
How many unhappy beings in neglect and solitude pass their hands fondly over the coats of their sympathising dumb companions, and say (perhaps unconsciously), “ You will never leave me nor desert me!”
In our own country alone, in addition to their utility, were it possible to prove how great is the amount of pleasure and amusement given by dogs, our surprise would only be equalled by our doubt, till reflection dispelled the latter. Yet with what ingratitude, with what selfishness is this gentle, generous, brave, and affectionate, but despised creature, too often treated by man—by the human, which is not, however, always the humane race! No sooner has he lost his teeth in our
servic..,' like old Adam, than he is fiequently either wilfully lost or remorselessly hanged, drowned, poisoned, or shot. The latter fates are merciful compared to the former; for then, added to the distress of mind in losing his god, the sole object of his love, and pole-star of his existence, he is exposed to the insults and ill-treatment of the cruel. In his case
- Misery is trodden on by many,
At least by few; and those few who have had the feeling and moral courage to endeavour to alleviate his sufferings in this vast city, have met with the derision of the callous or unreflecting
There is to be observed this difference between the affections of the canine race and those of man, that in the dog they are centred mainly on one object. The whole stream of his being flows in one direction; he rides by a single cable, and his love is the sheet-anchor of his existence. Man, though he may, and often has, one loved creature in whom his heart finds its home and its repose, has also other tiesthose of offspring, of kindred, and of friendship. These are comparatively unknown to the dog. Man is, in truth, his deity, his absorbing object; and when the tie between them is severed, agonizing must be the heart's pangs the poor animal has to endure.
“And now I'm in the world-alone !”
Painful to witness is the despairing look of hopeless anguish in this faithful animal when death, or accident, or wilful
1 As You Like It, A. i. S. 1.
2 Venus and Adonis.