« AnteriorContinuar »
Scott's; and Hamlet, the black greyhound, a wild thoughtless youngster, not yet arrived to the years of discretion; and Finette, a beautiful setter, with soft silken hair, long pendent ears, and a mild eye, the parlor favorite. When in front of the house, we were joined by a superannuated greyhound, who came from the kitchen wagging his tail, and was cheered by Scott as an old friend and comrade.
"In our walks, Scott would frequently pause in conversation to notice his dogs and to speak to them, as if rational companions; and indeed there appears to be a vast deal of rationality in these faithful attendants on man, derived from their close intimacy with him. Maida deported himself with a gravity becoming his age and size, and seemed to consider himself called upon to preserve a great degree of dignity and decorum in our society.
As he jogged along a little distance ahead of us, the young dogs would gambol about him, leap on his neck, worry at his ears, and endeavor to tease him into a frolic. At length he would make a sudden turn, seize one of them, and tumble him in the dust; then giving a glance at us, as much as to say, “You see, gentlemen, I can't help giving way to this nonsense,” would resume his gravity and jog on as before.
Scott amused himself with these peculiarities. “I make no doubt,” said he, “when Maida is alone with these young dogs, he throws gravity aside, and plays the boy as much as any of them; but he is ashamed to do so in our company, and seems to say, 'Ha' done with your nonsense, youngsters; what will the laird and that other gentleman think of me if I give way to such foolery?'”
Scott spoke of another of his dogs, a little shamefaced
terrier, with large glassy eyes, one of the most sensitive little bodies to insult and indignity in the world. If ever he whipped him, he said, the little fellow would sneak off and hide himself from the light of day, in a lumber garret, whence there was no drawing him forth but by the sound of the chopping knife, as if chopping up his victuals, when he would steal forth with humbled and downcast look, but would skulk away again if any one regarded him.
While we were discussing the humors and peculiarities of our canine companions, some object provoked their spleen, and produced a sharp and petulant barking from the smaller fry, but it was some time before Maida was sufficiently aroused to ramp forward two or three bounds and join in the chorus, with a deep-mouthed bow-wow!
Ěs tăb’līsh ment, household, place of residence; sět'tēr, a kind of long-haired dog which stands rigid on scenting game; pěnd'ént, hanging; sū pēr ăn'nu ā'ted, too old for active service; ră'tion al, with power to think; de co'rum (de kõ'rum), good behavior; găm'bol, run about in sport; grăv'i ty, seriousness; lâird, a landed proprietor in Scotland; splēen, ill humor; fry (fri), the young, a crowd of small creatures. STUDY HELPS
Describe the dogs that joined Scott and Irving in the walk.
Have you ever noticed in dogs any such qualities as are told of here?
II. THE CAT Among the other important and privileged members of the household who figured in attendance at the dinner, was a large gray cat, who, I observed, was regaled from time
to time with titbits from the table. This sage grimalkin was a favorite of both master and mistress, and slept at night in their room; and Scott laughingly observed that one of the least wise parts of their establishment was that the window was left open at night for Puss to go in and out.
The cat assumed a kind of ascendancy among the quadrupeds-sitting in state in Scott's armchair, and occasionally stationing himself on a chair beside the door, as if to review his subjects as they passed, giving each dog a cuff beside the ears as he went by. This clapper-clawing was always taken in good part; it appeared to be, in fact, a mere act of sovereignty on the part of grimalkin, to remind the others of their vassalage; which they acknowledged by the most perfect acquiescence. A general harmony prevailed between sovereign and subjects, and they would all sleep together in the sunshine.
While Scott was reading, the sage grimalkin had taken his seat in a chair beside the fire, and remained with fixed eye and grave demeanor, as if listening to the reader. I observed to Scott that his cat seemed to have a black-letter taste in literature.
“Ah," said he, “these cats are a very mysterious kind of folk. There is always more passing in their minds than we are aware of. It comes no doubt from their being so familiar with witches and warlocks."
He went on to tell a little story about a gude man who was returning to his cottage one night, when, in a lonely out-of-the-way place, he met with a funeral procession of cats all in mourning, bearing one of their race to the grave in a coffin covered with a black velvet pall. The worthy
man, astonished and half frightened at so strange a pageant, hastened home and told what he had seen to his wife and children. Scarce had he finished, when a great black cat that sat beside the fire raised himself up, exclaimed, “Then I am king of the cats!” and vanished up the chimney. The funeral seen by the gude man was one of the cat dynasty.
“Our grimalkin here,” added Scott, "sometimes reminds
me of the story, by the airs of sovereignty which he assumes; and I am apt to treat him with respect from the idea that he may be a great prince incog, and may some time or other come to the throne.”
In this way Scott would make the habits and peculiarities of even the dumb animals about him subjects for humorous remark or whimsical story. Passages from “Abbotsford.”
Re gāled', fed; gră măl'kin, an old word for cat (Shakespeare gave the name to a fiend supposed to resemble a cat); as cend'an cy (a sěn'dan si), rulership; văs'sal age, inferiority; ac'qui es'cence (ak'wi ěs'ens), obedience; de mean'or (de mēn'ēr), appearance; blăck'-lět'tēr, the ancient heavy-faced type used in printing books; war'locks (wôr'lõks), wizards, persons who exert evil spells; gude (güd), Scottish form of "good"; dy'nas ty (di'nas tỉ), line of rulers; in cog' (în kòg'), with identity kept secret (shortened form of in cog'ni to (în kog'ni to), unknown); whim'sical (hwim'zi kal), fantastic. STUDY HELPS
What shows that the cat was an “important and privileged" member of the household?
How did the cat treat the dogs? Did they resent this treatment?
'Twas in heaven pronounced, and 'twas muttered in hell, And echo caught faintly the sound as it fell; On the confines of earth 'twas permitted to rest, And the depths of the ocean its presence confessed. ’T will be found in the sphere when 'tis riven asunder, Be seen in the lightning and heard in the thunder.