Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

or dogs. But if it happens that any European families are in the neighbourhood, they sometimes send the game to them; which is a very profitable compliment to themselves, as the servant who takes the present always expects to receive in return much more than the animal is worth. It is in this way that his master pays him his wages by sending him with presents. The person to whom it is sent would be considered to insult the sender if he declined to receive it; and I have heard some gentlemen complain very bitterly of the price which their Mahomedan friends made them pay for their pork.

H. But

U. O. Do not ask anything about this way of making presents now, because we shall better, consider the whole subject on some other evening. Our business now is with the animals of Persia. So little notion have the Persians of hogs in a tame state, that when, on entering the Russian territories, they have seen herds of them led out of the villages to feed on the hills, they have been heard to exclaim with much amazement, “ See what strange sheep they have in this country!"

H. But, Sir, if the wild hogs are common in

Persia, and the people hunt them and make presents of them, how could they take them for sheep?

U. 0. That is a very good objection; but the Persians, generally, have no idea that there can be elsewhere any domestic animals but those which they have themselves; and so little do they think of any use there could be in the hog, that they would as soon think that wolves or foxes might be domesticated and led out to feed, as that hogs should be so. I consider the mistake, as a first impression, perfectly natural, particularly when we consider that the inhabitants of towns know little of the wild hog, and that there is some difference of appearance between it and the tame one.

H. (Hesitatingly.) Still, Sir, I do not feel quite satisfied. Did you hear the Persians say so?

U. O. Yes.
H. Then I am satisfied, Sir.

U. O. Thank you. But consider a little. Suppose you had never seen ducks in a tame state, although wild ones are abundant in this country. Then imagine you went to another country, and there, for the first time, saw some ducklings under the charge of a hen, who led them about and

cared for them as her own, might you not be inclined to say, “ See what strange chickens there are in this country !"

J. I should have known better than to say that.

H. I think I might have said so, Sir, in my haste.

U. O. That will do. The cases are not precisely the same, but they are enough so to explain the feeling. It will be well for ourselves and just to others if, when we hear the comical and strange remarks of strangers about things which they never saw before, we give them credit for a little common sense, notwithstanding their mistakes; and instead of laughing at them, or after laughing, if we cannot help it, let us consider what circumstances of the country to which they belong, or of their own habits, could make them talk so absurdly. This will be useful and interesting.

233

CHAPTER XIII.

QUADRUPEDS—(continued). Uncle Oliver. Now let us see what other animals there are in Persia besides those which man has reduced to his service. The lion is found in different parts of Persia.

Frank. But is not the lion a native of Africa?

U. O. Yes; and that which is found in Persia and other parts of Asia is a much less splendid and powerful animal than the lion of Africa. It is considerably smaller; and I wish to direct your attention to the fact that the lion only possesses in perfection those qualities which from him we call “ lion-like” in deserts and unpeopled countries. There he reigns in full power. He has never known a rival, and he is accustomed to find all things yield before him. Thus he has never had occasion to experience any such thing as fear or apprehension; and being ignorant of the power of man, he attacks him without hesitation. But when men intrude into his domains, or he into theirs, the case is altered. He soon learns the power which man derives from his

numerous destructive weapons, and becomes afraid of him. He avoids him when possible, and hardly ever attacks him except in self-defence. This is the reason that in such countries as Persia we hardly ever hear of men being molested by lions, although they do much damage to the cattle. I have sometimes tracked lions to their dens, around which the ground was strewed with bones, pieces of skin, and carcases partly devoured. The natives with me have, on such occasion, done all they could to make them come out, by shouting and even firing guns into the caves; but the lions have always kept their temper and remained quiet.

F. What would the men have done if the lion had come out ?

U. O. They would have shot it, of course.

F. But if they were not afraid of it, why did they not go into the cave ?

U. O. The entrance was small, so that they would have been obliged to creep in on their bellies, which would have afforded the lion a very good opportunity of making his meal upon them. The young are sometimes taken and brought up in confinement. When the king is to receive visits from distinguished strangers, a lion is

« FöregåendeFortsätt »