Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub
[graphic][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][merged small]

U. O. Not exactly. It is higher than the common ass, being from ten to twelve hands high, and its legs are much more slender and elegant, and suitable to the great speed for which it is remarkable. The head and ears are, however, fully as large as those of the common ass, and seem more awkward on account of this animal's elegance in other respects. It has a smooth skin, covered with reddish hair, except on the hinder parts and the belly, which are of a silvery grey, while the mane and the tuft at the end of the tail are black. These asses live in small herds, and are very vigilant, being regularly conducted by a leader. They also possess the senses of smelling and hearing in great perfection, which, with their great fleetness, renders it so difficult to overtake them on the best horses. Indeed, it is chiefly such as stray from the herd that are taken. It is rarely that any single horseman can come up with them, and they seem to treat the attempt to do so with the greatest contempt. They will run away till they get a good way a-head, and then stand still, looking back and snorting scornfully with their noses in the air. Then, when the pursuer comes nearly up with them, they dart off again, capering, kicking, and sporting in their flight in a very amusing manner.

H. Then, Sir, how do they take them?

U. O. Sometimes their contempt makes them imprudent, and they allow their pursuers to come near enough to shoot them. But the common way of hunting them is this :- persons observe the haunt of the animal and the track which it usually follows; then, horsemen and dogs are stationed along the track, so that when the first are tired, others may start quite fresh in pursuit, until the ass, after having exhausted the strength of many horses, becomes weary, relaxes his speed, and is at last overcome. The Persians think this better sport than hunting the antelope, and they consider its flesh an equal delicacy. An ancient author, who wrote upwards of 2000 years ago, says that asses used to be roasted whole in Persia as a great treat, when the king or rich persons wished to make a feast. A traveller called Olearius, who was in Persia about 200 years ago, also says that at an entertainment given by the great king Shah Abbas to the European ambassadors, thirty-two wild asses were turned into an enclosure to be shot at, and remarks that their flesh was es

teemed so excellent as to be fit for the king's food.

H. But, Sir, is it certain that this beast is an ass after all ?

U. O. I see no reason to doubt its being an ass, nor do I wonder that ill-treatment and neglect have made the common ass so different; though I think that even as he is, he is a much more amiable and praiseworthy animal than is usually supposed.

The mules and camels have already been considered.

With regard to cows and oxen, the former are only reared for the supply of the dairy, and the latter, which have more or less of the hump of the Indian ox or zebu between the shoulders, for the labours of agriculture; for the people of western and southern Asia scarcely use any animal food but mutton. They do not like beef: it is sometimes to be met with in the bazaars; but is then only eaten by the lower classes. I have known some European gentlemen, who wished to have some beef, under the necessity of buying a live ox and getting it killed by their servants, and all for the sake of a single joint; for meat will not keep longer than a day in summer, and

all the rest was given away, as the native servants scorned it.

J. What a strange people to like ass's. flesh and dislike beef!

U. O. Buffaloes also are much employed in agriculture, for which they are well calculated, as a full-grown buffalo draws a load with twice the force of a horse. They are also made by the peasantry to carry heavy loads on their backs, but they are not trusted to cross the mountains. In the north of Persia they may be seen sometimes dragging a clumsy sort of cart, the wheels of which are of a solid piece of wood.

J. But I thought there were no wheels in Persia.

U. 0. I never said there were no wheels, but that there were no wheel-carriages; and these rude carts are hardly an exception. They are only used in some parts of Persia to carry straw or vegetables from one part of a plain to another, or from the fields and gardens to the villages. Buffaloes are also frequently ridden by the natives in the north of Persia,—not on long journeys, but in going to some rather distant village in the same plain ; and the appearance

« FöregåendeFortsätt »