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whilst on the tongue might be seen the figure of a beetle. Such marks were perhaps impressed by the priests on the bull when no animal could be found with those singular characteristics. Probably a slight resemblance in this respect would suffice to satisfy the superstitious Egyptian, who would not be always disposed to scrutinise too narrowly the qualities of his god.
This peculiar development of paganism was not confined to Egypt; among the Hindoos the bull is sacred to the god Siva, who represents, in their mythology, the principle of destruction. Thus, from the Nile to the Ganges, the superstitions of the heathen world have been closely connected with an animal which, to us, appears so unlikely to attract religious reverence.
A portion of the ox, that is the horn, was of some inportance amongst our ancestors, being frequently used as the symbol by which estates were conveyed in those times when the parchment and the deed were less considered than some act by which a visible possession was conferred. Some of these conveyancehorns are of great antiquity, the most remarkable being the famed Pusey horn, given by Canute to William Pusey, one of the ancestors of this old family. Another, called Nigel's horn, was given by Edward the Confessor to a huntsman of that name, who had distinguished himself by the destruction of a wild boar in the great forest which then extended over Buckinghamshire and Berkshire. Some of these tenure-horns were not procured from the ox, and therefore require no notice here; but the Pusey and the Nigel horn were certainly obtained from this animal, though perhaps from some species no longer in existence. The firstmentioned is more than two feet long, and twelve inches round in the widest part, proclaiming that it belonged to no dwarfish breed.
The reader will not expect us to dwell long on another fact in the history of this animal—the bull-fights of ancient and inodern times, or the bull-baitings of our forefathers.
These combats were known even in Egypt, where the honours paid to one bull did not preserve others from the torture of the arena, which is now to be found in Spain alone. There picadors, banderilleros, chulas, and matadors seek the applause of surrounding thousands, and win the praise of ladies and the admiration of royalty itself by daring feats and active manœuvres.
In England the stubborn bull-dog was long prized as an auxiliary in the baiting, as it was called, of the bull, which once attracted thousands of spectators, though now made punishable by law. The statute which suppressed this “sport” did not pass without opposition; and it is singular that one of our most refined scholars, and an eloquent and subtle orator,' actually succeeded in persuading the House of Commons to sanction bull-baiting. Here we must conclude this chapter, having now seen the ox
I Mr. Windham.
in its tamed and wild condition, noted the different varieties, and the skill employed to render these profitable to man; whilst the connexion of the animal with the history of human superstition and the sports of rude ages has not been forgotten. In this rapid survey the reader will, we trust, remember, that it has been our object to present to his view the broad and general facts of the subject, remarking but briefly, or not at all, on circumstances of little popular interest, or abounding in technical detail.
The Deer Species.
This large tribe of the animal kingdom is not connected with the important events which have made epochs in the histories of great nations, nor even with the more useful arts and manufactures which bave increased the comforts of men. The horse and the elephant are, therefore, more fitted to in press the imaginations of all who remember the famous battles in which these animals have co-operated with man, On the other hand, those who prefer the useful to the famous will regard the sheep, the ox, and the camel more highly than any varieties of the deer. But the lovers of the beautiful will look with a deep interest on animals which are associated with memories of ancient times, with the age of chivalry, and with the impressive pomp of the baronial period.
Those whose hearts are stirred by the strains of Chevy Chase, and who see in imagination the Cheviots covered with the armed retainers of Percy and Douglas, will gaze with delight on the creatures, the chase of which formerly engaged as much of a king's thoughts as the weightiest matters of government in the nineteenth century. Such admirers of olden times will remember the spirited description of the old deer-hunt, when, through the wide forest, monarch, knights, and squires dashed to the merry echoes of the hunting-horn.
Those days have gone; few wish them back; and the scarletcoated horseman who meets the Queen's stag-hounds at Salthili or Stoke Common prefers his quiet two-hours' run to the more barbarous though more exciting chase of the middle ages. But in the ancient parks and forests of this land the deer yet delight the tourist who turns aside from the busy track of the great highways, to those sheltered nooks where the stately herds repose
amid the silence of the rich woodlands. Some notice, therefore, of these animals may be acceptable to those who have never travelled
beyond the shores of England ; while to the tourist who has sat with his sketch-book in the valleys of the Himalayas, the descriptions of foreign species may suggest pleasant remembrances of past scenes.
We shall therefore commence this account of the deer-tribe with the varieties known in Britain, and then enter upon the histories of the species frequenting other lands.
The Red Deer first attracts our attention, on account of the noble appearance of the animal, its former importance in the hunting-parties of our ancestors, and its almost total disappearance from the cultivated districts of Britain. It is indeed a noble spectacle, when a herd of these stately creatures is seen standing on the ridge of some Scottish hill, as the rich light of the setting sun brings out their forms in deep relief against the evening sky. How soon this repose may be broken, and their motionless limbs roused into the fierce activities of terror, should but a sudden footstep press the crackling underwood, and dislodge a pebble from the water-course, along the hollow of which the hunter steals towards these antlered children of the wilds! In a moment the herd is off, far down the deep vale, across which the echoes of their flight are faintly borne by the sinking breezes. For a few seconds the observer peers after the receding host, which is soon lost in the shadowy distance of the forest glade, where the timorous deer love to roam, apart from all other forms of life.
Rarely, however, is such a view as this obtained by the modern hunter or tourist, who may travel for miles through the most secluded recesses of the Highlands without seeing one of these forest herds. The far-extended sides of the Grampians are now seldom trodden by the red deer, which seem to have left for ever the high retreats of Benlomond, Benledi, and Benmore. Who have driven these stately deer from the long valleys and heaths of these Scottish mountains? It is not the rifle of the hunter, for that is really less destructive than the ancient chase, where hundreds perished in a day by the attacks of armies of huntsmen. The deer have been expelled from their ancient homes by sheep; these are the victors before which the proud herds of the hills have retired and dwindled away. In fact, the love of mutton has worked fatally for the “tall deer,” which the Norman kings cherished like petted children, and for the preservation of which such sanguinary laws were made as must for ever dim the names of some of our proud monarchs. How vain all these struggles to perpetuate these noble animals in the face of Smithfield, which calls aloud from the centre of the huge metropolis for sheep; and lo! sheep come. But whence do they come? From the old homes of the red deer, which have been warned off from a thousand moors, to make room for such ignoble rivals. The increase of population has made the rearing of sheep a source of income to the Highland lairds, who are, in these times, more pleased with the sight of ten thousand sheep pasturing on a Scottish hill than with the possession of herds of deer. Some proprietors have, however, set apart the extensive forests on their wild estates for the red deer; and there these animals dwell unmolested in the solitudes they love. Into these retreats no creature is allowed to enter; for the red deer are too jealous of intruders to dwell peacefully in the places trodden by other animals. Even in the present year, 1848, some of the landlords are contemplating the establishment of deer-walks, which the zeal of our modern sportsmen will amply patronise. As these grounds will be let out at high rents, the returns may for a time be as profitable as those derived from sheep-farms. Whether the substitution of deer for sheep in an extensive tract of country will not be followed by great demoralisation amongst the peasantry, is a matter upon which we cannot as yet pronounce a judgment. It cannot, however, be forgotten, that the preservation of deer in our English forests was attended by such evils, nourishing poaching, drunkenness, and idleness amongst the population.
This last remark leads us to the fact that the red deer were protected in the royal forests of this country till within a very recent period. At the beginning of the eighteenth century, Woolmer in Hampshire contained a herd of 500 red deer; but these were removed to Windsor forest about the middle of the same century, to avoid their destruction by desperate gangs of poachers. So extensive were the depredations committed by these men, called Waltham Blacks, that an act of parliament was passed in the ninth of George the First, for the purpose of suppressing their outrages. This statute was called the Black Act, and is remarkable for the barbarous ferocity of its enactments, by which the short-sighted legislators of the day expected to diminish offences, whilst creating the temptation to crime by an irrational revival of the old forest laws. The result proved the feebleness of laws, when enacted under such circumstances; the Waltham Blacks continued their poaching in spite of the act, and the great majority of the peasantry sided with them, rather applauding their spirit than seeking to repress or intimidate them. The almost total destruction of the noble deer followed ; and every head in Woolmer forest might have perished, had not the Duke of Cumberland sent his yeomen prickers with orders to capture every animal, and remove all to the more secure retreats of Windsor.
Gilbert White dwells with delight upon the noble spectacle once presented in Woolmer forest, when five hundred red deer were driven down the vale, in presence of Queen Anne. These are the words of the popular naturalist:
“Queen Anne, as she was journeying on the Portsmouth road, did not think the forest of Woolmer beneath her royal regard.