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and the tail ringed with black. But the Persian lynx, besides having rougher hair, is of a reddish brown colour, without spots-only the ears are black, whence the Persians and Turks call it the “ black-eared cat."
U. O. Yes. Even some of our own naturalists call the caracal a cat. The truth is, that some varieties of the lynx approach so nearly to the cat, and some varieties of the cat come so nearly to the lynx, that it is not easy to say whether it should be called the one or the other ; nor does it much matter. If you ask Henry and Frank about it to-morrow, I dare say they will explain to you that the lion, tiger, cat, and lynx have all a general similarity in their appearance and habits ; on which account naturalists have put them together in one set, under the name of Felis, which is the Latin name for cat.
Let us now return to the Caracal. Its neight is about that of the common fox; but it is stronger and more robust. It is said to follow the lion, and to feed on what that royal beast leaves of his prey. I know nothing of the truth of this, however. It is likely enough;
but in Persia there are very few lions for the caracal to follow. It is very well able to provide for itself, without depending upon lions. It has been known on some occasions to kill and tear instantly in pieces dogs as large or larger than itself, although the dogs, of course, defended themselves bravely. It seizes herons, storks, pelicans, peacocks, and other large birds by surprise, and masters them, although some of them are very powerful, with great address. It is remarked, that when the caracal has seized its victim, it holds it fast in its mouth, and lies upon it without motion for several minutes.
Bears are not uncommon in the northern parts of Persia. There is nothing particular to mention of them, except that they are sometimes tamed; and, among other feats, are taught to wrestle with men. They are, however, first deprived of their teeth, that, if they happen to become angry—and bears are not the most amiable or forbearing of animals—they may not have the power of doing any serious harm. Mr. Morier, in describing some amusements that were exhibited before the king, mentions that after a number of men had wrestled together, a
man led in a bear, with which in his turn he wrestled. The bear always had the advantage; and when the man tried to throw him into the water, which was in the middle of the court where the sports took place, the animal got so much out of humour, that if it had not been for the want of his teeth, he would probably have demolished his unlucky antagonist. Yet in these contests the man has an advantage of the bear, for he is naked to the waist, and his skin is made slippery with oil, while the shaggy coat of the bear affords a firm hold to himself.
There are several species of deer in Persia ; but the most common is the antelope, called by the Persians ahoo and by the Arabs gazal, a word which, in the corrupt form of “gazelle," is sometimes used in our own poetry.
J. Oh, yes! I remember how Miss Ford used to say some pretty lines about a gazelle's eye. Mamma, do you recollect them ?
Mrs. Oldcastle. I think I do, my dear. Is this what you mean?
"Oh! ever thus, from childhood's hour,
I've seen my fondest hopes decay;
But 'twas the first to fade away.
I never nursd a dear gazelle,
To glad me with its soft black eye,
And love me, it was sure to die*.”
U. O. That is a very apt quotation, for which we are much obliged to you, Mrs. Oldcastle. The Persians greatly admire this animal's “soft black eye;" and when they wish to praise the beauty of a lady they think it the highest of compliments to compare her eye to that of the antelope. Ahoo-chesm, “antelope-eyed,” is therefore a very common expression; and it really does very well describe the full jet-black eyes of the Persian women. The hunting of these fine animals is a favourite sport in Persia ; but it is so amazingly swift, that I doubt if any single dog or horse could overtake it. Some hunters, indeed, boast of having seen the thing done; but I never witnessed it. I have, however, seen a Persian, when riding at full gallop, shoot an antelope with his gun as it flew past him.
F. That was being a good marksman, was it
U. 0. Yes. The Persians are in general pery good marksmen. I have heard that the
* Lalla Rookh.-The Fire-Worshippers,
late Abbas Meerza, who would probably have been king if he had lived, could not only do this, but shoot a bird as it flew overhead while he was himself riding at full gallop.
H. Do you believe that ?
U. O. I do. But I was going to observe that the great swiftness of the antelope makes it necessary that it should be hunted in a very peculiar manner. I don't know much about hunting myself: so I will give you the account nearly as I find it in a pleasant book called “Sketches of Persia," written by Sir John Malcolm. The huntsmen go forth to the plains with hawks and greyhounds. The former rest in the usual manner upon the hand of the huntsman, and the dogs are led along in a leash. When an antelope is seen, the horsemen endeavour to get as near to him as possible. They can seldom get very near before the animal observes them, and then he goes off at a rate swifter than the wind, the men at the same time putting the horses at full speed and letting loose the dogs. If it is hut one antelope, they at the same time let fly the hawks; but if it is a whole herd, they detain the birds until the dogs have singled out a particular antelope. The hawks then skim along