« VorigeDoorgaan »
low, who was standing in the middle of think that he might just as well say his the room, picked up a slipper, and shied it prayers in bed, and then that it didn't matat the kneeling boy, calling him a snivel ter whether he was kneeling, or sitting, or ing young shaver. Then Tom saw the lying down. And so it had come to pass whole, and the next moment the boot he with Tom, as with all who will not conhad just pulled off flew straight at the fess their Lord before men ; and for the head of the bully, who had just time to last year he had probably not said his throw up his arm and catch it on his elbow. I prayers in earnest a dozen times.
“Confound you, Brown; what's that Poor Tom! the first and bitterest feeling, for ?" roared he, stamping with pain. which was like to break his heart, was the
“Never mind what I mean," said Tom, sense of his own cowardice. The vice of stepping on the floor, every drop of blood all others which he loathed was brought in his body tingling ; " if any fellow wants in and burned in on his own soul. He had the other boot, he knows how to get it.” lied to his mother, to his conscience, to
What would have been the result is his God. How could he bear it? And doubtful, for at this moment the sixth- then the poor little weak boy, whom he form boy came in, and not another word had pitied and almost scorned for his could be said. Tom and the rest rushed weakness, had done that which he, braginto bed, and finished unrobing there, and gart as he was, dared not do. The first the old verger, as punctual as the clock, had dawn of comfort came to him in saying to put out the candle in another minute, and himself that he would stand by that boy toddled on to the next room, shutting the through thick and thin, and cheer him, and door with his usual“Good-night, genl'm'n.” | help him, and bear his burdens, for the good
There were many boys in the room by deed done that night. Then he resolved whom that little scene was taken to heart to write home next day and tell his mother before they slept. But sleep seemed to all, and what a coward her son had been. have deserted the pillow of poor Tom. And then peace came to him as he reFor some time his excitement, and the solved, lastly, to bear his testimony next flood of memories which chased one an- morning. The morning would be harder other through his brain, kept him from than the night to begin with, but he felt thinking or resolving. His head throbbed, that he could not afford to let one chance his heart leaped, and he could hardly keep slip. Several times he faltered, for the himself from springing out of bed and devil showed him, first, all his friends callrushing about the room. Then the thought ing him “Saint” and “Square-toes," and a of his own mother came across him, and dozen hard names, and whispered to him the promise he had made at her knee, years that his motives would be misunderstood, ago, never to forget to kneel by his bed and he would only be left alone with the side, and give himself up to his Father, new boy; whereas it was his duty to keep before he laid his head on the pillow, from all means of influence, that he might do which it might never rise ; and he lay good to the largest number. And then down gently, and cried as if his heart came the more subtle temptation, “ Shall would break. He was only fourteen years I not be showing myself braver than others old.
by doing this? Have I any right to begin It was no light act of courage in those it now? Ought I not rather to pray in days for a little fellow to say his prayers my own study, letting other boys know publicly, even at Rugby. A few years that I do so, and trying to lead them to it, later, when Arnold's manly piety had be- while in public at least I should go on as gun to leaven the school, the tables turned; I have done?" However, his good angel before he died, in the school-house at least, was too strong that night, and he turned and I believe in the other houses, the rule on his side and slept, tired of trying to was the other way. But poor Tom had reason, but resolved to follow the impulse come to school in other times. The first which had been so strong, and in which
down because of the noise, but sat up in Next morning he was up and washed
bed till the candle was out, and then stole and dressed, all but his jacket and waistout and said his prayers, in fear lest some coat, just as the ten minutes' bell began one should find him out. So did many to ring, and then in the face of the whole another poor fellow. Then he began to room he knelt down to pray. Not five
words could he say—the bell mocked him ;
A CHAPTER ON NATURAL HISTORY. he was listening for every whisper in the room-what were they all thinking of
THE HEDGEHOG. him? He was ashamed to go on kneeling, MONG the ancient Egyptians, and in ashamed to rise from his knees. At last, as it were from his inmost heart, a still Hedgehog was the emblem of craft and small voice seemed to breathe forth the subtlety. Ælian has much to tell us words of the publican, “God be merciful about his warfare with the foxes, and Alto me a sinner!" He repeated them over drorandus devotes many pages to the and over, clinging to them as for his life, proverbs and symbolism connected with and rose from his knees comforted and him. In the rural districts of our own humbled, and ready to face the whole country he is the subject of many curious world. It was not needed : two other superstitions, which cause him to be reboys besides Arthur had already followed morselessly killed wherever he shows himhis example, and he went down to the self. His old English name, urchin, was great school with a glimmering of another also one of the popular names of the elves, lesson in his heart—the lesson that he who many of whose attributes were believed has conquered his own coward spirit has to resemble his. The fairies sucked cows conquered the whole outward world ; and as they slept, and so did the hedgehog, that other one which the old prophet learned and, like them also, he took especial dein the cave in Mount Horeb, when he hid light in pillaging orchards. Pliny, indeed, his face, and the still small voice asked, informs us that he climbs up the trees, “What doest thou here, Elijah ?" that, and after shaking off the choicest apples however we may fancy ourselves alone on and pears, tumbles himself down upon the side of good, the King and Lord of them, and runs away with his booty stickmen is nowhere without his witnesses ; ing upon his back! but this is either one for in every society, however seemingly of Pliny's longshots, or the idiosyncrasy corrupt and godless, there are those who of some individual Tuscan, for at any rate have not bowed the knee to Baal.
it is not the custom of the English speHe found, too, how greatly he had ex cies. To hear his cry when one is startaggerated the effect to be produced by his ing on a journey, is reckoned very unlucky. act. For a few nights, there was a sneer “The hedgepig thrice hath whined” is or a laugh when he knelt down; but this one of the dismal omens which herald in passed off soon, and one by one all the the caldron-scene in Macbeth; and Prosother boys but three or four followed the pero's spirits, it will be remembered, lead. I fear that this was in some meas turned into hedgehogs to annoy Caliban. ure owing to the fact, that Tom could A little animal possessing such very negaprobably have thrashed any boy in the tive means of defense would seem to be room except the præpostor; at any rate, harmless and pitiable; but, according to everybody knew that he would try upon our rustics, he is the most astute creature very slight provocation, and didn't choose in all creation, not excepting even the to run the risk of a hard fight because fox. The peasantry of Berkshire have a Tom Brown had taken a fancy to say his legend about him, in which Reynard plays prayers.
Some of the small boys of but a poor figure. A fox and a hedgeNumber 4 communicated the new state of hog, they say, once disputed which of things to their chums, and in several other them was the swifter animal, and agreed rooms the poor little fellows tried it on; to run a race of three heats between two in one instance or so, where the præpostor ditches in a large field. The hedgehog, heard of it and interfered very decidedly, like a cunning old knave as he was, hid with partial saccess; but in the rest, after his wife in the ditch which was to form a short struggle, the confessors were bul- the goal, so that when he had made a prelied or laughed down, and the old state of tense of starting she might jump out, and things went on for some time longer. pretend to be himself just arrived. No Before either Tom Brown or Arthur left sooner had the fox cried “ Off!” than the school, there was no room in which it Mrs. Hedgehog cried “In!" and directly had not become the regular custom. I she had in her turn made a false start trust it is so still, and that the old heathen back, old Thorney-sides leaped out and state of things has gone out forever. said, “ In again!” So after three desper
ate runs, the broken-winded fox, which round the box while the hedgehog lay never perceived the ruse, was compelled rolled up and did not appear to see the into yield, and ever since that day the truder. The professor then lay the hedgehedgehog has been his master.
hog on the snake, with that part of the The hedgehog usually takes up his res ball where the head and tail meet downidence in woods or wide double hedge- ward, and touching it. The snake prorows, where he can hide away beneath ceeded to crawl; the hedgehog started, the underwood; but he is perhaps fondest opened slightly, and seeing what was unof a little thicket of fern and bracken near der, gave the snake a hard bite, and ina running stream. The best time to meet stantly rolled itself up again. After lying with him is on a summer evening soon a minute it opened a second, and again a after sunset, for he is then just roused third time, repeating the bite; and by the from his day-sleep, and walks out to look third bite the back of the snake was after food. You may often see him stealth- broken. This done, the hedgehog stood ily creeping along a hedge-bottom, rooting by the snake's side, and passed its whole with his long snout among the herbage, body successively through its jaws, crackand every now and then stopping to ing and breaking it at intervals of half an Craunch, with extra gusto, some delicious inch or more, by which operation the snake bonne bouche in the shape of a savory was quite finished. The hedgehog then cockroach or plump earthworm. The placed itself at the tip of his fallen enemoment he sees you he begins to run; my's tail, and began to eat upward, as but his awkward legs are not meant for one would eat a raddish, slowly, but withfleetness; and directly he sees there is no out intermission, till half of him was dechance of escape, he tumbles upon his voured, and next morning he ate the side, bows his head under his breast, remainder. draws in his legs and tail, and in half a There is another peculiarity about the second lies at your mercy, a ball of prickles. hedgehog which is very little known, but, While in this position it would be as easy if properly investigated, seems likely to to tear him to pieces as to pull him open ; | lead to valuable discoveries. No poison he resists every effort, and possesses, of any kind will act upon its system. moreover, a power of elevating and de- Pallas gave one a hundred cantharides, pressing his spines at will, which makes which the animal appeared to relish amazthe attempt far from pleasant. So great is ingly; while half of one of these acrid the strength and toughness of this cover- insects given to a dog or cat would cause ing, that Mr. Bell states he has seen a the most horrible torment. hedgehog in his possession run toward the The home of a hedgehog is a curious precipitous wall of an area, and without a little structure of moss and dried leaves, moment's hesitation throw itself off, con and is generally constructed with greater tracting at the same instant into a ball, in skill than that of any other of the nestwhich condition it reached the ground making mammalia. Sometimes he builds from a height of twelve or fourteen feet, it under the shade of a thick furze-bush, and after a short interval it would unfold or oftener still in the little caves hollowed itself, and run off unhurt.
out by the rain For his size the hedgehog is immensely
“Under an oak whose antique root peeps out; fierce. He is a great gourmand, and will face almost any danger to please his pal- and this, perhaps, is his favorite den, as it ate. They are often known to enter affords him the most protection from the poultry-houses, and after driving away the foxes and dogs. The care he takes in hens, devour the eggs. The young of rendering his dwelling wind and rain birds which build their nests near the proof, has given rise to a popular notion ground, are eaten by them, and they even that he is able to foresee changes in the attack the snake. This latter fact was weather, and alters the situation of his often doubted till Professor Buckland put house accordingly; hence, in many parts it to the test by shutting up the two ani- of England, a hedgehog's nest is looked mals together in a large box. When first upon as a kind of Murphy's Almanac, alintroduced it was not apparent whether together infallible. Bodenham, in his the recognized his enemy. It did Garden of the Muses, published in 1600, not dart away, but kept creeping gently alludes to this idea in the simile :
“ As hedgehogs doe foresee ensuing stormes, climbed up by the leg, and pushed one of So wise men are for fortune still prepared.” them off, and then rolling himself down Into this hibernaculum, when the nights after it, was proceding to drag it away by become chilly, and his food scarce, he be the neck to his hole under the fire-place, takes himself for his long winter's sleep; when the mother happened to return. first, however, taking care to roll himself Then ensued a battle-royal. Utterly anup in such a prodigious quantity of moss mindful of her usual caution, the infuriated and dried leaves that the severest snows parent dashed herself three separate times will leave him warm and dry. Unlike the against the enemy, and was each time rerest of the sleepers, he accumulates no ceived with fixed bayonets. Never, provisions. The only store he takes with probably, was there such an expenditure him is a goodly layer of fat about the vis- of spitting and fuming; but all to no purcera and under the skin, which is slowly pose, for the hedgehog clung to his prey absorbed, as the waste of his inactive life like a ferret. Had not the writer interrequires. With the first warm beams of fered, and caused the hedgehog to drop spring he wakes up lean and hungry; and the kitten, it would probably have been rent it is said that in this voracious condition in two between the combatants. The cat he will attack almost anything, and has was much pricked all over her face and even been known to break his tast upon shoulders, and the hedgehog had some a hen.
ugly scratches under his throat. The disposition of the hedgehog may The uses to which the hedgehog has be very considerably modified by taming. been put are
Among the James Dousa, the celebrated Dutch schol- peasantry on the continent, and in many ar, had a pet one which followed him parts of England, it is used as food about, and evinced the greatest attach to a considerable extent. Hedgehogment for his person. When it died, Lip- dumpling is by no means an uncommon siuş immortalized its memory in some cottage-dinner in Buckinghamshire. The Latin verses, almost as rough and unpo- | flesh of the young animal is very white, etical as the subject. In London they are and not unlike rabbit. Among the Romuch used to destroy the black beetles mans the spines were extensively used in which abound in the underground kitch-carding wool, and several decrees of the ens ; and many instances are recorded of senate are extant against the rich wooltheir becoming familiar with those who staplers, who were in the habit of buying treat them kindly. The writer formerly them all up, and thus forestalling the had one who used to know his name, market. According to Albertus Mag“Spot,” very well, and would directly nus, the right eye of a hedgehog, fried in uncoil himself at the sound of his master's oil, and kept in a brass vessel, imparts a voice. He had so far overcome his nat. virtue to the oil, so that when used as an ural timidity as to lie before the fire in ointment to the eye it imparts such a woncompany with a cat and dog. With the derful clearness of vision, as to enable a latter he was on very friendly terms; but person to see as well by night as by day! the cat and he always regarded each The fat is still believed by our countryother with mutual aversion. Every now folks to be very efficacious in deafness, and then, without the slightest provoca- and many a hedgehog falls a martyr to tion, he would suddenly open and bite her the delusion. leg or tail, and then instantaneously con We were about taking leave of our tract himself again with a Touch-me-if- hero without saying a word about his doyou - dare kind of air, which was vastly mestic relations. He chooses his mate amusing. This may have been the mere early in the spring, and it is said remains exuberance of hedgehog spirits, but it constant to her during the season ; but was a great deal too much like earnest to they must be very knowing people who make it pleasant for pussy, who, however, can speak positively upon such a delicate never ventured to retaliate, for she had subject. She usually produces from two probably found that his prickles were to four at a time. When first born they are more than a match for her claws. She very pretty little animals, with soft white contrived to kitten upon a table, in order spines and hanging ears.
As they apthat her young should be out of his reach; proach maturity the thorns become harder but one day, during her absence, he and darker, and the ears become erect.
poetsis thus described by Keats
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor, Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness !
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind; Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun; Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep, [hook Conspiring with him how to load and bless Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy With fruit the vines that round the thatch Spares the next swath and all its twined eaves run;
flowers ; To bend with apples the moss'd cottage trees, And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core; Steady thy laden head across a brook ; To swell the gourd and plump the hazel Or by a cider-press, with patient look, shells
Thou watchest the last oozings, hours by With a sweet kernel ; to set budding more,
[are they? And still more, later flowers for the bees, Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where Until they think warm days will never cease, Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,
For summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy While barred clouds bloom the soft dying day, cells.
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;