Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

thereon. Children may thus be seen ornamenting the graves of their parents, and mothers adorning the graves of their children. A person who, a few years ago, visited the churchyard of the little village of Wirfin, says that he found six or seven persons thus employed in garnishing the graves of their friends.

In most parts of England, the practice is, to keep the graves neatly raised and covered with grass turf: and in some places, the practice of planting evergreens and flowers on the graves is adopted. Brand, in his “ Popular Antiquities," says

" It is a very ancient and general practice in Glamorgan, in Wales, to plant flowers on the graves, so that many churchyards have something like the splendour of a rich flower garden. Besides this, it is usual to strew the graves with flowers and evergreens thrice at least every year.” Only sweet-scented flowers are then used for this purpose. The white rose is planted on a virgin's grave. The red rose on the grave of any person of superior goodness and benevolence. At Easter, new flowers and evergreens are planted. At Whitsuntide, or the week before, the graves are carefully attended to, and what is required done to them. This work is done by the nearest relatives of the deceased, and not by servants. Should a neighbour or friend assist, he will not accept of any payment. The flowers that grow on the graves are not plucked, except it be a single flower or sprig for a relative or friend; otherwise, to pluck or injure them would be regarded as a very wicked act. This custom of adorning graves chiefly exists in retired villages.

We confess that we look with pleasure at such manifestations of affectionate regard to the deceased; but we deem it much more important that we should give proofs of our love to our relatives and friends while they live, than that we should adorn their graves. Love and obedience, on the part of young persons towards their parents and teachers, are duties which none but the wickedly disposed will neglect. Love, as between brethren and sisters, ought ever to be cultivated. We are indeed commanded to do good to all our fellow-creatures, that is, so far as our means extend; but our near relatives and friends have special claims on oor affectionate regards.

Flowers are emblems of the frailty of human life; they fade, wither, and die. Man also soon loses his bloom and beauty. Disease and death soon come and the young are frequently made to fade away. The planting of evergreens and flowers on the graves of departed friends may also be regarded as expressive of the expectation of their living again ; of their being raised from the dead; and of their being again restored to the companionship of those by whom they are kept in affectionate remembrance. Happy are the righteous dead.

THE SCOTCH SHEEP-DOG. The mouth of the shepherd's dog is sharp, the ears short and erect, the tail is long and bushy, like that of a fox ; and he is generally covered with thick, shaggy hair, particularly about the neck. He is usually black, or black prevails, mixed with gray or brown. The true sheep-dog is regarded by the sheep as a guide and friend, but some dogs belong to ferocious races, and are objects of dread, and often injure the sheep by fright and violent attacks upon them, especially under a brutal shepherd. In such cases the dog is worse than useless.

The sheep-dog is distinguished for his intelligence, fidelity, obedience, and sagacity, performing naturally what other dogs would do only after a long course of training. In many cases this dog will do more in assisting a shepherd than several men, and often performs what is not in the power of men to do. The following remarks, showing the fidelity, sagacity, and intelligence of this valuable animal, will be read with interest.

Mr. James Hogg, the Ettrick Shepherd, living in his early days among the sheep and their quadruped attendants, and an accurate observer of nature, as well as an

[ocr errors]

exquisite poet, gives some anecdotes of the colley (the Highland term for sheep-dog), with which the reader will not be displeased. My dog Sirrah,” says he, in a letter to the editor of Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine," was, beyond all comparison, the best dog I ever saw. He had a somewhat surly and unsocial temper, disdaining all flattery, and refusing to be caressed; but his attention to my commands and interest will never again be equalled by any of the canine race. When I first saw him, a drover was leading him by a rope. He was both lean and hungry, and far from being a beautiful animal; for he was almost black, and had a grim face, striped with dark brown. I thought I perceived a sort of sullen intelligence in his countenance, notwithstanding his dejected and forlorn appearance, and I bought him. He was scarcely a year old, and knew so little of herding that he had never turned a sheep in his life; but, as soon as he discovered that it was his duty to do so, and that it obliged me, I can never forget with what anxiety and eagerness he learned his different evolutions; and when I once made him understand a direction, he never forgot or mistook it."

On one night, a large flock of lambs, that were under the Ettrick Shepherd's . care, frightened by something, scampered away in three different directions across the hills, in spite of all that he could do 10 keep them together. Sirrah,” said the shepherd, “ the’re a'wa!

It was too dark for the dog and his master to see each other at any considerable distance, but Sirrah understood him, and set off after the fugitives. The night passed on, and Hogg and his assistant traversed every neighbouring hill in anxious but fruitless search for the lambs; but he could hear nothing of them nor of the dog, and he was returning to his master with the doleful intelligence that he had lost all his lambs. “ On our way home, however,"

we discovered a lot of lambs at the bottom of a deep ravine called the Flesh Cleuch, and the indefatigable Sirrah standing in front of them, looking round for some relief, but still true to his charge. We concluded that it was one of the divisions which Sirrah' had been unable to

[ocr errors]

says he,

manage, until he came to that commanding situation. But what was our astonishment when we discovered that not one lamb of the flock was missing! How he had got all the divisions collected in the dark, is beyond my comprehension. The charge was left entirely to himself from midnight until the rising sun; and, if all the shepherds in the forest had been there to have assisted him, they could not have effected it with greater promptitude. All that I can say is, that I never felt so grateful to any creature under the sun as I did to my honest Sirrah that morning."

A shepherd, in one of his excursions over the Grampian Hills to collect his scattered flock, took with him (as is a frequent practice, to initiate them in their future business) one of his children about four years old. After traversing his pastures for a while, attended by his dog, he was compelled to ascend a summit at some distance. As the ascent was too great for the child, he left him at the bottom, with strict injunctions not to move from the place. Scarcely, however, had he gained the height, when one of the Scotch mists, of frequent occurrence, suddenly came on, and almost changed the day to night. He returned to seek his child, but was unable to find him, and concluded a long and fruitless search by coming distracted to his cottage. His poor dog also was missing in the general confusion. On the next morning by daylight he renewed his search, but again he came back without his child. He found, however, that during his absence his dog had been home, and, on receiving his allowance of food, instantly departed. For four successive days the shepherd continued his search with the same bad fortune, the dog as readily coming for his meal and departing. Struck by this singular circumstance, he determined to follow the dog, who departed as usual with his piece of cake. The animal led the way to a cataract at some distance from the spot where the child had been left. It was a rugged and almost perpendicular descent which the dog took, and he disappeared in a cave, the mouth of which was almost on a level with the torrent The shepherd with difficulty followed; but, on entering the cavern, what were his emotions when he beheld the infant eating the cake which the dog had just brought to him, while the faithful animal stood by, eyeing his young charge with the utmost complacency! From the situation in which the child was found, it appeared that he had wandered to the brink of the precipice, and then either fallen or scrambled down, the torrent preventing his re-ascent. The dog, by means of his scent, had traced him to the spot, and afterwards prevented him from starving by giving up a part, or perhaps, the whole of his own daily allowance. He appears never to have quitted the child night or day, except for food, as he was seen running at full speed to and from the cottage.

Mr. Hogg says, and very truly, that a single shepherd and his dog will accomplish more in gathering a flock of sheep from a Highland farm than twenty shepherds could do without dogs ; in fact, that without this docile animal, the pastoral life would be a mere blank. It would require more hands to manage a flock of sheep, gather them from the hills, force them into houses and folds, and drive them to markets, than the profits of the whole flock would be capable of maintaining. Well may the shepherd feel an interest in his dog; he it is indeed that earns the family bread, of which he is himself content with the smallest morsel ; always grateful, and always ready to exert his utmost abilities in his master's interests. Neither hunger, fatigue, nor the worst treatment, will drive him from his side, and he will follow him through every hardship with. out murmuring or repining. If one of them is obliged to change masters, it is sometimes long before he will acknowledge the new owner, or condescend to work for him with the willingness that he did for his former lord; but, if he once acknowledges him, he continues attached to him until death.

We will add another story of the colley, and proceed. It illustrates the memory of the dog. A shepherd was employed in bringing up some mountain sheep from Westmoreland, and took with him a young sheep-dog who had never made the journey before. From his assistant being ignorant of the ground, he experienced great difficulty in

« AnteriorContinuar »