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STRAY NOTES OF NATURAL HISTORY FROM THE CONTINENT.

BY CORNWALL SIMEON.

It is but a few years since steam established its dominion on the great highroad between Havre and Paris, and the horses which, harnessed to malle poste or diligence, could hardly fail to attract the attention of the traveller who entered France by that route, yielded to their more powerful rival. A very striking team it was, behind which he found himself on taking his seat in the dili, gence in those bygone days. Probably few things which during his stay in France may have attracted his notice as more or less different in their form, arrangement, or management, from those which would have served similar purposes in his own country, will have left a more lasting impression on his mind. Though gainers by the change which has taken place, it is almost a matter of regret that there, or elsewhere, we can never expect to see the like again. It must be still familiar to many readers; yet, as from its very age it may savour of novelty to some, the former will, per haps, forgive a short sketch of it.

It consisted of seven white horses, not large, but compactly made, active fellows, probably standing about fifteen hands and an inch in height, and match ing so nearly, in general shape as well as in colour, as to render the tout ensemble eminently symmetrical. In looking them over, the principal points which at once struck one were the massiveness of their crests, the lurking devil in their eye, their round, full quarters, and their knottied tails. They were harnessed four and three ; four as leaders, and three at wheel, one of the latter doing duty as the ce lookipoc mentioned by Herodotus.

To us, accustomed as we were but to comparatively light coaches and lighter mails, with four-horse teams, such a one as that which I have just attempted to describe, appeared at first sight to possess an amount of strength more than

adequate to any work which they could possibly have to do. But a cursory examination of the ponderous and unwieldy machine, called a diligence, which they were required to draw, would be quite sufficient to convince one that, if it were tolerably well loaded, the horses hact their work fully cut out, particularly if the pace expected of them were taken into consideration, it being equal generally, with stoppages (about which the conducteur took his time), to about eight miles an hour.

The diligence was ordinarily constructed to hold (besides conducteur and driver) at least eighteen passengers. In addition to these, the luggage, a miscellaneous collection of goods, containing many objects which would, with us, have been considered too heavy or bulky for a coach, and been forwarded by waggon or canal, was stowed away in a high, roomy, loft-like place communicating with the banquette in front. It almost invariably also carried its live stock, in the person of a Pomeranian dog, black-eyed, black-nosed, with the curliest of tails, and whitest of coats, who had the run of the whole top of the diligence amongst the luggage, with free access to his master in the banquette, where he usually kept him company, when it was not otherwise occupied. He completed the cargo-ostensibly at least ; for the conducteur was not above occasionally accommodating, in excess of his regular load, a short-stager or two, who stowed themselves away, as best they might, in, or behind, the banquette. Such was the load, weighing not much, if at all, under six tons, which these teams had to draw at the rate above mentioned ; and well they did it.

T he harness was, in appearance, of the roughest, being of untanned leather, with rope traces ; and the bloused and saboted driver—to call him coachman

capability of the law to grapple with such cases. Had the prisoners been acquitted, they could not again be tried for the same offence.

Some have begun to write down grand juries as a clumsy machinery, and a need less call on men's time. They are, however, a great safeguard against the evil of malicious or tyrannical indictments, as is shown by their manifold cases of No Bill; and they fulfil some share of the office of the British and Saxon-English jury.

It might still be good that we should

have trial by jury in all criminal cases; and we might have it for light cases in lower bundred courts or district courts, with six, if not'twelve, jurymen—as the Britons had for light cases fewer than twelve oathsmen, and as the Hindoos have, I think, village juries of five men. Six plain good men might be paid each half-a-crown or more for their day out of the court fees, might sit under a magistrate as judge, and might form a court which, for some squabbles, might act as a court of arbitration.

THE SHADOWS.

My little boy, with pale, round cheeks,

And large, brown, dreamy eyes,
Not often, little wisehead, speaks,

But yet will make replies.
His sister, always glad to show

Her knowledge, for its praise,
Said yesterday : “God's here, you know;

“He's everywhere, always.
“He's in this room.” His large, brown eyes

Went wandering round for God;
In vain he looks, in vain he tries,

His wits are all abroad.

“He is not here, mamma? No, no;

“I do not see Him at all.
“ He's not the shadows, is He?” So

His doubtful accents fall

Fall on my heart like precious seed,

Grow up to flowers of love ;
For as my child, in love and need,

Am I to Him above.

How oft before the vapours break,

And day begins to be,
In our dim-lighted rooms we take

The shadows, Lord, for Thee.
While every shadow lying there,

Slow remnant of the night,
Is but an aching, longing prayer,
For Thee, O Lord, the light.

STRAY NOTES OF NATURAL HISTORY FROM THE CONTINENT.

BY CORNWALL SIMEON.

It is but a few years since steam established its dominion on the great highroad between Havre and Paris, and the horses which, harnessed to malle poste or diligence, could hardly fail to attract the attention of the traveller who entered France by that route, yielded to their more powerful rival. A very striking team it was, behind which he found himself on taking his seat in the dili, gence in those bygone days. Probably few things which during his stay in France may have attracted his notice as more or less different in their form, arrangement, or management, from those which would have served similar purposes in his own country, will have left a more lasting impression on his mind. Though gainers by the change which has taken place, it is almost a matter of regret that there, or elsewhere, we can never expect to see the like again. It must be still familiar to many readers ; yet, as from its very age it may savour of novelty to some, the former will, perhaps, forgive a short sketch of it.

It consisted of seven white horses, not large, but compactly made, active fellows, probably standing about fifteen hands and an inch in height, and match ing so nearly, in general shape as well as in colour, as to render the tout ensemble eminently symmetrical. In looking them over, the principal points which at once struck one were the massiveness of their crests, the lurking devil in their eye, their round, full quarters, and their knottied tails. They were harnessed four and three ; four as leaders, and three at wheel, one of the latter doing duty as the CEELOCE ipoc mentioned by Herodotus.

To us, accustomed as we were but to comparatively light coaches and lighter mails, with four-horse teams, such a one as that which I have just attempted to describe, appeared at first sight to possess an amount of strength more than

adequate to any work which they could possibly have to do. But a cursory examination of the ponderous and unwieldy machine, called a diligence, which they were required to draw, would be quite sufficient to convince one that, if it were tolerably well loaded, the horses had their work fully cut out, particularly if the pace expected of them were taken into consideration, it being equal generally, with stoppages (about which the conducteur took his tine), to about eight miles an hour.

The diligence was ordinarily constructed to hold (besides conducteur and driver) at least eighteen passengers. In addition to these, the luggage, a miscellaneous collection of goods, containing many objects which would, with us, have been considered too heavy or bulky for a coach, and been forwarded by waggon or canal, was stowed away in a high, roomy, loft-like place communicating with the banquette in front. It almost invariably also carried its live stock, in the person of a Pomeranian dog, black-eyed, black-nosed, with the curliest of tails, and whitest of coats, who had the run of the whole top of the diligence amongst the luggage, with free access to his master in the banquette, where he usually kept him company, when it was not otherwise occupied. He completed the cargo-ostensibly at least; for the conducteur was not above occasionally accommodating, in excess of his regular load, a short-stager or two, who stowed themselves away, as best they might, in, or behind, the banquette. Such was the load, weighing not much, if at all, under six tons, which these teams had to draw at the rate above mentioned ; and well they did it.

The harness was, in appearance, of the roughest, being of untanned leather, with rope traces ; and the bloused and sahoted driver—to call him coachman

would convey an erroneous impression much damage ; but the conducteur told

-who was changed, with his horses, at me be fully believed they would never every stage, undistinguishable in dress rest satisfied till they had succeeded in and appearance from an ordinary la- obtaining a combat à l'outrance, and the bourer. Whatever they may have been, victor only came alive out of it. however, in the outer man, they un The days of such teams are gone, doubtedly drove remarkably well; the never to return; but the colour which horses, indeed (a great proof of good characterized them in the north of driving), apparently requiring next to no France stills forms a conspicuous feamanagement. It was a remarkable sight ture in the horses throughout that part to see this particular team of seven of the country, including Paris, where, “ tooled” through the narrow streets while taking refuge from a shower of and round the sharp corners of Rouen rain under an arch in the Rue de Rivoli, on a market day, when densely crowded last spring, I had the curiosity to count with booths and stalls. The quickness those which passed, and found the numand activity displayed by the horses bers to be a hundred of white and grey individually was, too, astonishing ; so to seventy-four of other colours. In the much greater than could have been ex Bois de Boulogne the relative numbers pected from their “stocky" forms. I would probably show a considerable remember seeing a leader come con- difference; so large a proportion of the pletely down while the team was de- horses used for riding (or their parents) scending a long incline at a sharp trot, being imported from England, while and recover himself without injury before those used for purposes of draught are there was time for him to be dragged. still mainly recruited from the northern

The change was always a lively sight; breeding grounds. As one proceeds for, at a meeting of fourteen such horses, southwards, towards Italy, the colour of it was scarcely to be expected but that the horses may be observed to undergo some freak of temper, or ebullition of a gradual change, becoming darker and wilfulness, would occur, more entertain- darker, brown being that prevailing ing to the passengers than soothing to amongst those along the district of the the temper of the ostler, judging from Rhone (where, owing to their natural the very particular and energetic manner development being generally interfered in which he anathematised them— "Sacré with, they also lose in great measure bm de crapaud vert,” being, for in the roundness and symmetry of form stance, an endearing expression I have which distinguishes them in the north), heard made use of under the circum- while in the neighbourhood of Rome stances. I once saw a tremendous fight the majority are absolutely black. between two of these horses, a near- It is certainly somewhat singular that, leader and an off-wheeler, when just while the colour of the horses becomes taken out of the diligence after rather thus darker as one draws southwards, the a long stage-having been prepared for reverse is the case with regard to cattle; it by the conducteur, who told me that which, being mostly of the darker shades those two horses, when measures were in the northern districts of France, are not taken to prevent them, were always found gradually lighter and lighter as certain to have a battle. On this occa one gains a more southern latitude, until, sion they were left to themselves when in Central Italy, they are, almost univerunharnessed (I think to prove the cor- sally, of a very light, delicate dun. rectness of the conducteur's assertion), and Ordinarily, whether as regards aniin a moment they were at it, the leader mals in a natural state, or those bred turning round and fixing the wheeler by under the immediate eye of man, it will, the neck in the most determined and I think, be found that the prevalent savage manner. The stable-helpers suc- breed or variety is that which has ceeded, after considerable difficulty, in proved itself, for some reason or other,

trict or the climate. Now, considering how large a proportion of the horses in the north, and of the cattle in the south, are light-coloured, it may fairly be supposed (if there be any truth in the above theory) that the prevalence of the lighter shades are, in both instances (to some extent at any rate), attributable to the influence of climate, or perhaps a combination of other local circumstances. Why these, whatever they may be, should have a diametrically opposite effect on the two species of animals, it would be difficult to hazard a plausible conjecture,

Striking as is the delicate pure hue of the cattle of Central and Southern Italy, it is far from constituting their only, or chief attraction; so admirably does it harmonize with their other general characteristics. So nearly approaching to perfection indeed are a very large proportion, both as to individual “points" and in the tout ensemble, that one finds oneself gazing on them with quite as much admiration, when familiarised to them by a prolonged residence, as when looking for the first time on their symmetrical, yet massive forms. Where can be seen a more picturesque sight than a pair of these magnificent oxen, dragging with bent heads, and paces as certain as they are slow, a load of hay up some broken and precipitous road, or in a state of repose, sleeping or chewing the cud in the Forum, each pair by their empty waggon, while waiting to return after the day's market to their homes in the Campagna ?

Apart from general shape, the four features to which they principally owe the extreme picturesqueness of their forms, are the slightness of their bone, the delicacy and smallness of their muzzles, the great size and length of their wide-spreading and finely-tapering horns, and their round, black, contemplative eyes. No one, I am persuaded, who has not seen animals of this or similar breeds, can realize the character of expression with which Homer de signed to invest the high divinity Juno, in distinguishing her as Boris. At any rate I think it may be conceded

that Dr. Samuel Clarke, S.T.P., had but an imperfect notion of the fulness of the meaning conveyed by the epithet, when he translated it magnos oculos habens."

It is curious to turn from these noble beasts to their ungainly congeners, the buffaloes, with their uncouth forms, their coarse heads and limbs, their small, inexpressive eyes, and their stunted and deformed-looking horns. Of all the beasts which man has made subservient to his use for purposes of draught, there is perhaps none which looks so little at home in shafts, or generally so little fitted for his work. One was some years ago to be occasionally seen about the streets of Oxford, harnessed with a cow; and it would have been almost a matter of impossibility to produce any animal more entirely out of his place, or miserablelooking, than he appeared under the circumstances. To be seen perfectly at their ease, and in the fulness of enjoyment, they should be sought during the heat of summer in such localities as the Pontine marshes, where, in a deep canal, twenty or thirty may be seen lying (or rather half standing, half supported by the water), with their bodies completely submerged and their heads thrown back, so that no part of them is visible but the eyes, nose, and mouth, with the flat facial line which connects them, the herd showing no more than so many bits of dry wood floating on the surface.

He who has seen them thus

“wallowing Through the hot summer day," will but need to be reminded of the derivation of their name, to acknowledge the appositeness of their distinctive title, as emphatically the Boeuf à l'eau.

It is scarcely possible that the traveller, by whom the stir of animal life about him does not pass unnoticed, or indeed any one not absolutely deaf to the musical hum of birds (which seems to pervade the atmosphere of our rural districts to such an extent as to be almost mechanically and unconsciously

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