« FöregåendeFortsätt »
hand, and never dared approach the villages unless in company with some of the inhabitants. I certainly never saw fiercer dogs than these. They are chiefly found among the people who in summer live in tents, and during winter in villages. In other places a dog that has some resemblance to the mastiff is more common, and not quite so ferocious.
One of the finest species of dog I have ever seen, is a sort of greyhound which the Persians rear to assist them in the chace. They have generally long silken hair upon their quarters, shoulders, ears, and tail; and I think them as handsome and considerably more powerful and sagacious than our own greyhounds. I have sometimes seen a spirited horse break loose and run away at full speed, when one of these dogs has set off after him like an arrow, and soon getting ahead of him, took an opportunity of seizing the bridle in his teeth, and held it so firmly that, although he was not, of course, strong enough to stop the horse, yet as he was dragged along, he continued so to pull and confine him, as to hinder him very much, till some person was able to overtake and secure him.
F. That must have been fine fun!
U. O. Yes, on a large plain, and by day; but there is no fun in it by night, or among the hills.
Cats are not considered unclean by the Persians; but I do not remember to have seen them frequently in a state of domestication in that country. There are, however, cats enough about the towns which belong to nobody, and which no one cares for. They prowl about, and in some places contrive to keep themselves in good condition upon rats, mice, and other vermin, while in other places they seem half starved. They generally harbour in some obscure place in the cellars, or among the fire-wood; and by night pass over the roofs to the houses in quest of prey.
There is a species of cat in Persia which is peculiar to the eastern part of that country. It is called by some the “ Khorassan cat”—Khorassan is the most eastern province of Persia; and it is certainly one of the most elegant of cats, though I will not say that it is more so than the common cat, which is, in my opinion, one of the handsomest of animals.
J. That is my opinion too, Uncle.
fine grey hue, without the mixture of any other colour, and the fur is exceedingly soft, and as shining as silk. The colour is darkest on the back, and gradually softens towards the breast and belly, which are nearly white. The tail is long, and is covered with long flowing hair, so that the tip has some resemblance to a plume of feathers. I think that the beautiful white cats in this country called “ Persian cats,” but in Persia called “ Ispahan cats," which are sometimes to be met with as pets in England, with their long soft fur, their bushy tails and sprightly eyes, differ only in colour from those called Khorassan cats. These white cats are not very common even in Persia.
J. O, dear Uncle! why, why didn't you bring me home one of those pretty creatures ?
U. O. Because when I was in Persia I did not happen to know that there was such a personage as your dear little self then in the world. Now I think we have considered the list of tame quadrupeds.
F. Oh, no, Sir; you have not said a word about pigs !
U. O. Because pigs are not tame animals in Persia. But in some parts of the country wild hogs are very abundant, and do a great deal of
damage to the corn and cotton fields, which are never enclosed. The peasants therefore destroy them whenever they can find them ; but they never think of eating their flesh.
J. Not eat pork !
U. O. No. The hog is an unclean animal among the Mahomedans as well as among the Jews, and they would think themselves defiled if they tasted its flesh. You would as soon think of eating ass-flesh as they would pork.
J. How strange!
U. O. Why strange? We must learn, my dear, to look at many things as they are seen by other people, not as our own habits make them seem to us. Unless we do so we shall not understand properly many interesting things that will come under our notice. Now, in this case, the Persians may have just as much cause to wonder at our eating pig's flesh, as we at their eating the flesh of asses.
U. O. Yes, really. If you consider a little, you will find that the ass is much more cleanly in its food and in its habits than the hog. Indeed, even we, who eat the flesh of the hog, make a proverb of its uncleanness.
But pork is so good!
· U. O. It is savoury; but doctors do not think that it is wholesome—and I believe they would think the flesh of asses a much more proper and healthy food.
J. How droll to think of asses being killed like sheep and like pigs, and to see their great heads hanging by the hooks in the butchers'
shops. Ha! ha! ha! - Mrs. Oldcastle. Jane! Jane!
U. O. My dear little girl, you do not understand me. I am not desirous that we should give up pork, and take to eating our asses; but I am desirous, very desirous, that we should not get into the habit of calling a practice good or bad, merely because it is or is not like what we do: but that we should only reflect whether-all things considered the practice be or be not reasonable in itself.
F. I think I understand you, Sir.
U. O. Well. Though the Persians do not eat pork, yet they hunt the wild hogs. I have heard of as many as eighteen being killed at one hunting.
H. But what do they do with them, then, when they have killed them?
U. O. Leave them to be eaten by wild beasts