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It is recorded that, at the solemnities which attended the wedding
of Robert, brother to the king of France, in 1237, a horse was
ridden along a rope, and that it kept balance and moved with
precision. Our surprise at this rope-dancing faculty may, how-
ever, be a little abated, when we learn that the more unwieldy
elephant has actually exhibited the same performance.*

Even the ass, stupid as we are accustomed to consider him, is

* According to Pliny, at the spectacles given by the Emperor Germani-
cus, it was not an vincommon thing to see elephants hurl javelins in the
air, and catch them in their trunks — fight with each other as gladiators,
and then execute a pyrrhic dance. Lastly, they danced upon a rope, and
their steps were so practised and certain, that four of them traversed
the rope (or rather parallel ropes) hearing a litter which contained one
of their companions, who feigned to be sick.


capable of being taug-ht tricks equally clever and amusing". Leo,
in his Description of Africa, 1556, gives the following account of
a performance which he witnessed in Egypt: — "AVhen the Maho-
metan worship is over, the common people of Cairo resort to that
part of the suburbs called Bed-Elloch, to see the exhibition of
stage-players and mountebanks, who teach camels, asses, and
dogs to dance. The dancing of the ass is diverting enough ; for
after he has frisked and capered about, his master tells him that
the sultan, meaning' to build a great palace, intends to employ
all the asses in carrying mortar, stones, and other materials ;
upon which the ass falls down with his heels upwards, closing
his eyes, and extending his chest, as if he were dead. This done,
the master begs some assistance of the company, to make up
for the loss of the dead ass ; and having got all he can, he gives
them to know that truly his ass is not dead, but only being
sensible of his master's necessity, played that trick to procure
some provender. He then commands the ass to rise, w^hich still
lies in the same posture, notwithstanding' all the blows he can
give him ; till at last he proclaims, by virtue of an edict of the
sultan, all are bound to ride out next day upon the comeliest
asses they can find, in order to see a triumphal show, and to
entertain their asses with oats and Nile water. These words are
no sooner pronounced, than the ass starts up, prances, and leaps
for joy. The master then declares that his ass has been pitched
upon by the warden of his street to carry his deformed and ugly
wife ; upon which the ass lowers his ears, and limps with one of
his legs, as if he were lame. The master alleging that his ass
admires handsome women, commands him to sing-le out the
prettiest lady in company ; and accordingly he makes his choice,
by going round and touching one of the prettiest with his head,
to the great amusement of the spectators."

This astonishing* aptitude in the horse and ass is often directed
to purposes more immediately useful to themselves. Thus, in
1794, a gentleman in Leeds had a horse which, after being kept
up in the stable for some time, and turned out into a field
where there was a pump well supplied with water, regularly
obtained a quantity therefrom by his own dexterity. For this
purpose the animal was observed to take the handle into his
mouth, and work it with the head, in a way exactly similar to
that done by the hand of a man, until a sufficiency was procured.
Again, horses have been taught to go to and from water or pas-
ture by themselves, to open the g'ate, and otherwise to conduct
themselves with a propriety almost human. We have ourselves
known a farm boy, who was too small to mount the plough-
horses, teach one of the team to put down its head to the ground,
allow him to get astride its neck, and then, by gently elevating
the head, to let him slip backwards to his seat on its back.
This act we have seen done by the same horse a hundred times,
and there was no doubt that the animal perfectly understood the



wishes of the boy, and the use of its lowering" the head for the
purj)ose of his mounting*.


It has been before remarked, that the horse is inferior to none
of the brute creation in sagacity and g-eneral intellig-ence. In a
state of nature, he is cautious and watchful ; and the manner in
which the wild herds conduct their marches, station their scouts
and leaders, shows how hilly they comprehend the necessity of
obedience and order. All their movements, indeed, seem to be
the result of reason, aided by a power of communicating their
ideas far superior to that of most other animals. The neighings
by which they communicate terror, alarm, recog'nition, the dis-
covery of water and pasture, &c. are all essentially different, yet
instantaneously comprehended by every member of the herd ;
nay, the various movements of the body, the pawing of the
ground, the motions of the ears, and the expressions of the
countenance, seem to be fully understood by each other. In
passing swampy ground, they test it with the forefoot, before
trusting to it the full weight of their bodies ; they will strike
asunder the melon-cactus to obtain its succulent juice with an
address perfectly wonderful ; and will scoop out a hollow in the
moist sand, in the expectation of its filling with water. All this
they do in their wild state ; and domestication, it seems, instead
of deteriorating, tends rather to strengthen and develop their

The Rev. Mr Hall, in his " Travels through Scotland," tells
of the Shetland ponies, that when they come to any bqggy piece
of ground — whether with or without their masters — they first
put their nose to it, and then pat it in a peculiar way with their
forefeet; and from the sound and feeling of the ground, they
know whether it will bear them. They do the same with ice,
and determine in a minute whether they will proceed ; and that
with a judgment far more unerring than that of their riders.

Their sagacity sometimes evinces itself in behalf of their com-
panions, in a manner which would do honour even to human
nature. M. de Boussanelle, a captain of cavalry in the regiment
of Beauvilliers, mentions that a horse belonging to his company
being, from age, unable to eat his hay or g'rind his oats, was fed
for two months by two horses on his right and left, who ate
with him. These two chargers, drawing the hay out of the
racks, chewed it, and put it before the old horse, and did the
same with the oats, which he was then able to eat. In 1828,
Mr Evans of Henfaes, Montgomeryshire, had a favourite pony
mare and colt, that grazed in a field adjoining the Severn. One
day the pony made her appearance in front of the house, and,
by clattering with her feet, and other noises, attracted attention.
Observing this, a person went out, and she immediately galloped



off. Mr Evans desired that she should he followed ; and all the
gates fi'om the house to the field were found to have been forced
open. On reaching* the field, the pony was found looking into
the river, over the spot where the colt was lying- drowned.

The deepest cunning" sometimes ming'les with the sag'acity of
the horse, as evinced by the subjoined well-known anecdote.
Forrester, the famous racer, had triumphed in many a severe
contest ; at length, overweighed and overmatched, the rally had
commenced. His adversary, who had been waiting behind, was
quickly gaining upon him ; he reared, and eventually got abreast :
they continued so till within the distance. They were parallel ;
but the strength of Forrester began to fail. He made a last des-
perate plunge ; seized his opponent by the jaw to hold him back ;
and it was with great difficulty he could be forced to quit his
hold. Forrester, however, lost the race. Again, in 1753, Mr
Quin had a racer which entered into the spirit of the course as
much as his master. One day, finding" his rival gradually pass-
ing* him, he seized him by the legs ; and both riders were
obliged to dismount, in order to separate the infuriated animals,
now^ engaged with each other in the most deadly conflict.

Professor Kruger of Halle relates the following instance of
sagacity and fidelity, which we believe is not without parallel
in our own country : — A friend of mine was one dark night riding
home through a wood, and had the misfortune to strike his head
against the branch of a tree, and fell from his horse stunned by
the blow. The horse immediately returned to the house which
they had left, about a mile distant. He found the door closed,
and the family gone to bed. He pawed at the door, till one of
them, hearing" the noise, arose and opened it, and to his surprise
saw the horse of his friend. No sooner was the door opened
than the horse turned round, and the man suspecting there was
something wrong, followed the animal, which led him directly
to the spot where his master lay on the ground in a faint. Equal
in point of sagacity with this was the conduct of an old horse
belonging" to a carter in Strathmiglo, Fifeshire. From the carter
having a large family, this animal had got particularly intimate
with children, and would on no account move when they Avere
playing among its feet, as if it feared to do them injury. On one
occasion, when drag'ging a loaded cart through a narrow lane
near the village, a young child happened to be playing in the
road, and would inevitably have been crushed by the wheels, had
it not been for the sagacity of this animal. He carefully took it
by the clothes with his teeth, carried it for a few yards, and then
placed it on a bank by the wayside, moving slowly all the while,
and looking back, as if to satisfy himself that the wheels of the
cart had cleared it. This animal was one of the most intelligent
of his kind, and performed his duties with a steadiness and pre-
cision that were perfectly surprising.

The following manoeuvre, which is related in most books on



animal instinct, appears to us rather incredible ; we transcribe
it, however, without vouching- for its accuracy farther than the
general circulation it has received: — The island of Kriitsand,
which is formed by two branches of the Elbe, is frequently laid
under water, when, at the time of the spring-tides, the wind has
blown in a direction contrary to that of the current. In April
1794, the water one day rose so rapidly, that the horses which
were grazing* in the plain, with their foals, suddenly found them-
selves standing in deep water, upon which they all set up a
loud neighing, and collected themselves together within a small
extent of ground. In this assembly they seemed to determine
upon the following prudent measure, as the only means of saving
their young foals, that were now standing up to the belly in the
flood ; in the execution of which some old mares also took a prin-
cipal part, which could not be supposed to have been influenced by
any maternal solicitude for the safety of the young*. The method
they adopted was this : every two horses took a foal between
them, and, pressing their sides together, kept it wedged in, and
lifted up quite above the surface of the water. All the horned
cattle in the vicinity had already set themselves afloat, and were
swimming in regular columns towards their homes. But these
noble steeds, Avith undaunted perseverance, remained immoveable
under their cherished burdens for the space of six hours, till the
tide ebbing, the water subsided, and the foals were at length
placed out of danger. The inhabitants, who had rowed to the
place in boats, viewed with delight this singular manoeuvre,
whereby their valuable foals were preserved from a destruction
otherwise inevitable.

Respecting the intelligence of even the common work-horse,
the least delicately treated of his kind, Mr Stephens, in his
" Book of the Farm," speaks in terms of high commendation.
" It is remarked," says he, " by those who have much to do with
blood-horses, that when at liberty, and seeing- two or more people
standing conversing together, they will approach, and seem as it
were to wish to listen to the conversation. The farm-horse will
not do this ; but he is quite obedient to call, and distinguishes his
name readily from that of his companions, and will not stir when
desired to stand, till his own name is pronounced. He distin-
guishes the various sorts of work he is put to ; and will apply his
strength and skill in the best way to effect his purpose, whether
in the thrashing-mill, the cart, or the plough. He soon acquires a
perfect sense of his work. [In ploughing] I have seen a horse walk
very steadily towards a directing pole, and halt when his head
had reached it. He seems also to have a sense of time. I have heard
another neigh almost daily about ten minutes before the time of
ceasing- work in the evening, whether in summer or in winter.
He is capable of distinguishing* the tones of the voice, whether
spoken in anger or otherwise, and can even distinguish between
musical notes. There was a work-horse of my own, when even



at his corn, -u-ould desist eating*, and listen attentively, with
pricked and moving" ears, and steady eyes, the instant he heard
the note low G sounded, and would continue to listen so long as
it was sustained ; and another that was similarly affected by a
particular hig'h note. The recog-nition of the sound of the bugrle
by a trooper, and the excitement occasioned in the hunter when
the pack g-ive tong'ue, are familiar instances of the power of horses
to discriminate between different sounds : they never mistake one
call for another." It mig-ht also have been added, that work-
horses seem fully to comprehend the meaning" of the terms em-
ployed to direct them — whether forward, backward, to the left,
or to the rig-ht. A g'reat deal of this g-ibberish might certainly
he spared with advantage, as tending only to confuse the limited
faculties of the animal ; but still there is no doubt that a horse
will obey the command to stop, to g'o on, or to swerve to either
side, even should its master be hundreds of yards distant. Work-
horses seem also to anticipate Sunday, perhaps partly from
memory, and partly from noticing- the preparations making for
it. They are quick observers of any chang-e that takes place
around them ; they can distinguish the footfall of the person who
feeds them ; and seem fully to understand, from the kind of har-
ness put upon them, whether they are to be yoked in the mill,
in the cart, or in the plough. Even when blind they will per-
form their accustomed operations with wonderful precision. We
knew a blind coach-horse that ran one of the stages on the
great north road for several years, and so perfectly was he ac-
quainted with all the stables, halting-places, and other matters,
that he was never found to commit a blunder. In his duties he
was no doubt greatly aided by hearing' and smell. He could
never be driven past his own stable ; and at the sound of the
coming coach, he would turn out of his own accord into the
stable-yard. What was very remarkable, so accurate was his
knowledge of time, that though half-a-dozen coaches halted at
the same inn, yet was he never known to stir till the sound of
the "Ten o'clock" was heard in the distance.

The manner in which the ass descends the dangerous precipices
of the Alps and Andes is too curious and indicative of sagacity to
be passed over without notice. It is thus graphically described
in the Naturalist's Cabinet : — " In the passes of these mountains,
there are often on one side steep eminences, and on the other
frightful abysses ; and as these for the most part follow the direc-
tion of the mountain, the road forms at every little distance steep
declivities of several hundred yards downwards. These can only
be descended by asses ; and the animals themselves seem per-
fectly aware of the danger, by the caution they use. When they
come to the edge of one of the descents, they stop of themselves,
without being checked by the rider ; and if he inadvertently at-
tempt to spur them on, they continue immoveable, as if ruminating
on the danger that lies before them, and preparing' for the en-



counter ; for they not only attentively view the road, but tremble
and snort at the danger. Having at length prepared for the
descent, they place their forefeet in a posture as if they were
stopping- themselves; they then also put their hinder feet to-
o-ether, but a little forward, as if they were about to lie down.
In this attitude, having taken a survey of the road, they slide
down with the swiftness of a meteor. In the meantime, all that
the rider has to do is to keep himself fast on the saddle, without
checking the rein, for the least motion is sufficient to destroy
the equilibrium of the ass, in which case both must inevitably
perish. But their address in this rapid descent is truly won-
derful ; for, in their swiftest motion, when they seem to have
lost all government of themselves, they follow the different wind-
ings of the road with as great exactness as if they had previously
determined on the route they were to follow, and taken every
precaution for their safety."

The preceding anecdotes — which form but a mere fraction
of what might be gleaned — exhibit some of the principal features
in the character of the horse, whose natural qualities have been
matured and greatly developed by domestication. Man has
trained him with care, for the value of his services ; we wish we
could add, that he uniformly treats him with kindness and con-
sideration. " The reduction of the horse to a domestic state,"
says BufFon, " is the greatest acquisition from the animal world
ever made by the art and industry of man. This noble animal
partakes of the fatigues of war, and seems to feel the glory of
victory. Equally intrepid as his master, he encounters danger
and death with ardour and magnanimity. He dehghts in the
noise and tumult of arms, and annoys the enemy with resolution
and alacrity. But it is not in perils and conflicts alone that the
horse willingly co-operates with his master ; he likewise partici-
pates in human pleasures. He exults in the chase and the tour-
nament ; his eyes sparkle with emulation in the course. But,
though bold and intrepid, he suffers not himself to be carried off
by a furious ardour; he represses his movements, and knows
how to govern and check the natural vivacity and fire of his tem-
per. He not only yields to the hand, but seems to consult the
inclination of the rider. Uniformly obedient to the impressions
he receives, he flies or stops, and regulates his motions entirely
by the will of his master. He in some measure renounces his
very existence to the pleasure of man. He delivers up his whole
powers ; he reserves nothing ; and often dies rather than disobey
the mandates of his governor." If such be the principal features
in the character of the horse — and they are universally admitted
— the feelings of that individual are little to be envied who ever
utters a harsh tone, draws a severe lash, or urges beyond his
speed or strength an animal so willing and so obedient, and
whose powers have been so essential to human progress.



1^ N an easterly direction from England, and separated
^i. from it bv the German Ocean, lies that part of the
,J^ continent called by the general name of the Nether-
\ lands — a country of comparatively small extent, but ex-

ceedingly populous, and possessing a large number of to^WTis
and cities. It derives the name of Netherlands from its
consisting of a low tract of level ground on the shore of the
, > V German Ocean, and, from general appearances, is believed to
have been formed of an alluvial deposit from the waters of the
Rhine, the Meuse, the Scheldt, and other rivers. In the first
stage of its formation, the land was for the greater part a species
of swamp, but by dint of great perseverance, it has in the course
of ages been drained and embanked, so as to exclude the ocean,
and prevent the rivers and canals from overflowing their boun-

The industriously-disposed people, a branch of the great Ger-
man or Teutonic family, who have thus rendered their country
habitable and productive, did not get leave to enjoy their con-
quests in peace. They had from an early period to defend them-
selves against warlike neighbours, who wished to appropriate
their country ; and in later times — the sixteenth century — affcep
attaining great opulence by their skill in the arts and the g*eneral
integrity of their character, they were exposed to a new calamity
in the bigotry of their rulers. There now ensued a struggle for
civil and religious liberty of great importance and interest ; and
to an account of its leading particulars we propose to devote the
present paper.

No. 42. 1


Divided into a number of provinces, each g-overned by its-
own duke, count, or bishop, a succession of circumstances in the
fifteenth century broug-ht the whole of the Netherlands into the
possession of the family of Burgundy. But in the year 1477,
Charles, Duke of Burg-undy, bemg killed in the battle of Nancy,
the Netherlands were inherited by his daughter Mary, who,
marrying Maximilian, son of Frederick III,, emperor of Austria,
died soon after, leaving" an infant son, Philip. In 1494 this
Philip, known by the name of Philip the Fair, assumed the go-
vernment of the Netherlands. Shortly afterwards he married
Joanna, daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella, the joint sovereig-ns
of Spain ; and in 1506 he died, leaving a young son, Charles.
In this manner, handed by family inheritance from one to an-
other, the Netherlands became a possession of the crown of Spain,
although hundreds of miles distant from the Spanish territory.
Charles, in whom this possession centered, was, on the death of
Maximilian in 1519, elected emperor of Germany, and, under the
title of Charles V., became one of the most powerful monarchs in
Europe. His sway extended over Spain, Germany, Naples, the
Netherlands, and several other minor states in Europe, besides all
the colonies and conquests of Spain in Asia, Africa, and America.
One might expect that the Netherlands, forming as they did
but a very insignificant portion of this immense empire, would
suffer from being under the same government with so many other
states : but Charles V. had been born in the Netherlands ; he
liked its people, and was acquainted with their character; and
therefore, while he governed the rest of his dominions with a
strict and sometimes a despotic hand, he respected almost lov-
ingly the ancient laws and the strong liberty-feeling of his people
of the Netherlands. The only exception of any consequence was
his persecution of those who had embraced the doctrines of the
Heformation. As emperor of Germany, he had conceived him-
self bound to adopt vigorous measures to suppress the opinions
promulgated by Luther; and when, in spite of his efforts, the
heresy spread all round, and infected the Netherlands, he did his
best for some time to root it out there also. The number of those
who, in the Netherlands, suffered death for their religion during
the reign of Charles V., is stated by the old historians at 50,000.
Towards the end of his reign, however, he relaxed these seve-

In 1555, Charles V., worn out by the cares of his long reign,
resigned his sovereignty, and retired to a monasteiy. His large
empire was now divided into two. His brother Ferdinand was
created emperor of Germany ; and the rest of his dominions,
including Spain and the Netherlands, were inherited by his son,
Philip II. ' ^

Philip was born at Valladolid, in Spain, in the year 1521.
Educated by the ablest ecclesiastics, he manifested from his early
years a profound, cautious, dissimulating genius ; a cold, proud,


mirthless disposition; and an intense big-otry on religious sub-
jects. At the ag-e of sixteen he married a princess of Portugal,
who died soon after, leaving him a son, Don Carlos. In 1548,
Charles V., desirous that his son should cultivate the good-will
of his future subjects of the Netherlands, called him from Spain
to Brussels ; but during his residence there, and in other cities of
the Netherlands, his conduct was so haughty, austere, and un-
bending, that the burghers began to dread the time when, instead
of their own countryman Charles, they should have this foreigner

Online LibraryWilliam ChambersChambers's miscellany of useful and entertaining tracts (Volume v.5-6) → online text (page 8 of 59)