« PreviousContinue »
servant to open the door, which done, the inastiff, with a significant wag of the tail, and a mingled look of affection and gratification, quietly walked in, and crawling under the bed, laid himself down,. as if desirous of taking up his night's quarters there.
To save further annoyance, not from any partiality for the dog's company, Sir Harry granted the desired indulgence. The valet retired, and all was quiet. After several hours, the chamber-door opened, and a person was heard gently stepping across the room. Sir Harry, waking from his sleep, spoke, and the dog immediately rushing from his covert, sprung upon the intruder, and seizing him, fixed him to the spot. The alarm was given and a light procured, and the person thus rivetted to the floor was discovered to be the favourite valet, who, as soon as the dog was removed, and he had recovered from his fright, began to apologise for the intrusion, and gave some plausible pretext for his unwonted appearance; suspicion, however, being aroused in Sir Harry's mind, he resolved to investigate the business further by referring the subject to a magistrate.
The perfidious Italian, alternately terrified by the dread of punishment, and soothed by the hopes of pardon, at length confessed that it was his intention to murder his master, and then to rob the house. This diabolical design was frustrated solely by the instinctive attachment of the dog to his master, which seems to have been directed on this occasion by an interference of Providence. How else could he have learned to submit to injury and insult for his well-meant services, and finally to seize and detain a person, who, it is probáble, had shown him more kindness than his owner had ever done? A full-length picture of Sir Harry, with the mastiff by his side, and the words,
faithful than favoured," is still preserved among the family pictures.
The mastiff surpasses the bull-dog in size, height, bone, and strength, and always barks before he bites; his ears are pendulous, his countenance commanding, and his eyes fiercely expressive.
This race of dogs were once held in the highest repute on account of their extreme ferocity and the peculiar keenness of their scent. The thorough-bred bloodhound is superior to every other species of hound in size, strength, and courage; he was sometimes, although rarely, employed in the discovering of game that had escaped the mark or vigilance of the hunter ; but he was chiefly esteemed for the certainty with which he would scent the footsteps of man, even to the greatest distances.
The genuine breed possess an extraordinary substantial and muscular form, a wide forehead, gradually narrowing towards the nose, an expressive countenance, expansive nostrils, ears of large dimensions, but soft and pendulous, broad at the base, and tapering towards the tip, the tail long, with an erective curve, particularly when in pursuit, and the voice very loud and deep
This breed is still preserved in great perfection in Spain and Cuba, and other islands of the West Indies, the natives of these last places having been hunted down, and finally exterminated, by means of these animals; the inhumanity, injustice, and cruelty practised
in the Maroons wars, where they were called into action, and drove the inhabitants from their mountain fastnesses, are horrors at which the feeling mind would shudder.
Blood-hounds were formerly used in certain districts lying between England and Scotland, which were much infested by robbers and murderers, and a tax was laid on the inhabitants for keeping and maintaining a certain number of these animals. But as the arm of justice is now extended over every part of the country, and there are now no secret recesses where villany can lie concealed, their services are happily become unnecessary; at that time too deer-stealing was a very prevalent crime, and the forest and the parkkeepers were chiefly employed in perpetual watching and nocturnal warfare, in which they were materially assisted by the blood-hound.
Some few are still to be found in this country; but the finest and most ferocious come from the Manillas in the East Indies, and from Cuba in the West Indies.
Mr. Boyle informs us, that a person of quality, to make trial whether a young blood-hound was well instructed, caused one of his servants to walk to a town four miles off, and then to a market-town three miles from thence. The dog, without seeing the man he was to pursue, followed him by the scent to the above mentioned places, notwithstanding the multitude of market people that went along the same road, and of travellers who had occasion to cross it ; and when he came to the chief market-town, he passed through the streets without taking notice of any of the people there, and ceased not till he had gone to the house where the man he sought had rested himself, and where he found him in an upper room, to the wonder
of those who had accompanied him in the pursuit These hounds are easily taught, and very tractable with those to whom they are known.
THE NEWFOUNDLAND DOG.
This animal, which came originally from the island whence it derives its name, has a remarkably pleasing countenance, is exceedingly docile, and of great size and sagacity. The feet of this dog are more palmated than usual, which structure enables it to swim very fast, to dive easily, and to bring up any thing from the bottom of the water.
The sagacity of this animal has long been noted, a remarkable instance is quoted by many authors.
In the reign of Charles the Fifth, a gentleman named Aubrey de Montidier, while taking a solitary walk in the neighbourhood of Paris, was murdered and buried under a tree : his dog, which he had left at home, went out at night to search for his master, and discovered his grave in the forest; having remained some days on the spot, his hunger compelled him to return to the city. He hastened to the Chevalier Ardilliers, a friend of the deceased ; and by his melancholy howling, gave him to understand that their common friend was no longer in existence. Ardilliers offered the dog food, and endeavoured to quiet him by caresses, but the distressed animal continued to howl, licked his feet, and laying hold of his coat pulled him towards the door. Ardilliers at length resolved to follow him: the dog led him irom street to street, and conducted him from the city to a large oak in the forest, where
be began to howl louder, and scratch the earth with mis feet. Aubry's friend surveyed the spot with melancholy foreboding, and ordered his servant to dig up the earth; in a little time he discovered the body of his friend. Some time after the dog accidentally met the murderer of his master ; he rushed upon him, barked, and attacked him with so much fury, that the spectators could not without difficulty extricate him : the same circumstance occurred several times. The faithful animal, which was in general as quiet as a lamb, became like a raging tiger every time he saw
This circumstance excited great astonishment, and some suspicions having arisen, it was remembered that this man, (the Chevalier de Maquer), on several occasions had betrayed symptoms of enmity to Aubry; and several other circumstances combining, the evidence was brought almost to a certainty. The king hearing of the affair, was desirous of being convinced with his own eyes whether the dog was in the right, and that the animal which fawned upon every body else, attacked Maquer as soon as he perceived him. At that period it was customary, when the evidence was not decisive, to determine the fate of the accused by single combat. A time and place was therefore appointed; the Chevalier entered the lists armed with a lance; the dog was let loose, and a most dreadful contest took place. The chevalier made a thrust, but the dog springing aside, seized him by the throat, and threw him down. The villain now confessed his crime; and the king, that the remembrance of the faithful animal should be transmitted to posterity, caused to be erected to him, in the forest where the murder was committed, a marble monument, with the following inscription