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The Ox. The ox, by which the natural historian means black cattle in general, without regard to sex, is one of the most precious and useful to man, among the herbiverous animals. Easily tamed, and of a gentle and placid temper, he is maintained at small expense; and while he consumes but little, he enriches and improves the ground from which he draws his subsistence. He patiently lends his neck to the yoke, and exerts his great muscular strength in bearing our burdens, in preparing our fields for the seed, and, to this day in eastern regions, in separating the chaff from the grain, after he has assisted in gathering in the harvest. The milk of the herd supplies us with a rich and pleasant beverage ; the flesh with a nutritious food; the skin forms
a part of our covering, and in many parts of the world, still contributes to the defence of warriors in the day of battle. Scarcely a part of this animal indeed can be named, which is not daily rendered subservient to the purposes of utility or elegance. In the patriarchal ages, the ox constituted no inconsiderable portion of their wealth ; and he is still the basis of the riches of nations, which in general flourish only in proportion to the cultivation of their territories, and the number of their cattle. In these, all real wealth consists; for silver and gold are only representations of riches, possessing in themselves little intrinsic value. T'hese remarks are verified, by the notice which the sacred writers take of the ox, when they describe the wealth of primordial generations : “ Abraham,” say they, “ was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold.” “ The Lord has blessed my master greatly,” said the steward of Abraham's house, “ and he is become great; and he has given him flocks, and herds, and silver, and gold, and menservants, and maid-servants, and camels, and asses.”b Similar language is used in relation to the riches of Jacob : “ The man increased exceedingly, and had much cattle, and maid-servants, and men-servants, and camels, and asses.” Another instance only shall be given from the book of Job : “ His substance also was seven thousand sheep, and three thousand camels, and five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred she-asses, and a very great household; so that the man was the greatest of all the men in the east."d . So highly valued was this animal, that it
a Buffon's Nat. Hist. vol. iii, p. 423, 433. Plin. Nat. Hist. lib. vüi, cap. 70.. Ælian de Nat. Animal. lib. ii, cap. 57. Bochart. Hieroz. lib. ii, p. 273-318. b Gen. xxiv, 35.
. Ch. xxx, 43.
d Job i, 3.