Page images

in the highways, that others might take warning from such a punishment: but this severity proved of ill consequence; for, instead of frightening them and reducing them to civility, they conceived such horror of the Spaniards, that they resolved to detest and fly their sight for ever; hence, the greatest part died in caves and subterraneous places of woods and mountains, in which places I myself have often seen great numbers of human bones. The Spaniards, finding no more Indians to appear about the woods, turned away a great number of dogs they had in their houses, and they finding no masters to keep them, betook themselves to the woods and fields to hunt for food to preserve their lives; thus, by degrees, they became unacquainted with houses, and grew wild. This is the truest account I can give of the multitudes of wild dogs in these parts.”

This dreadful narrative is abundantly confirmed even by the Spanish historians, who seem not to have had that natural horror of deeds of cruelty, with which the accounts of them must inspire us who look upon such things without passion or partiality. Columbus was in many respects a good and great man; and yet, when he found, upon his return from Spain to Hispaniola, that the unfortunate people were in revolt against the oppressions of his soldiers, he was determined to put them to death, in the most cruel manner, for that resistance to tyranny which was their natural right and duty. He went forth against the wretched people with his foot soldiers aud cavalry. The Historian Herrera adds, “part of the force employed by Columbus, on this occasion, consisted of twenty bloodhounds, which made great havoc amongst the naked Indians.” Only one of the writers of these times speaks of such cruelties as they deserve; and he was an extraordinary enthusiast, who spent his whole life in the endeavor to mitigate the fury of the conquerors. The name of this benevolent man was Bartholomew Las Casas. Relating the events which took place in the island of Cuba, he says, “ In three or four months I saw more than seven thousand children die of hunger, whose fathers and mothers had been dragged away to work in the mines. I was wit. ness at the same time of other cruelties not less horrible.

It was resolved to march against the Indians who had fied to the mountains. They were chased, like wild beasts, with the assistance of blood-hounds, who had been trained to the thirst for human blood. Other means were employed for their destruction, so that before I had left the island, a little time after, it had become almost entirely a desert." And a desert it has partly remained to this day. The coast, which was most populous at the time when Columbus first touched there, is that which extends westward of the city of Trinidad, along the gulf of Xagua. Mr. Irving, the historian of Columbus, thus describes its present state:-"All is now silent and deserted: civilization, which has covered some parts of Cuba with glittering cities, has rendered this a solitude. The whole race of Indians has long since passed away, pining and perishing beneath the domination of the strangers whom they welcomed so joyfully to their shores." We shudder; and yet this is only a page out of the great book of human history, which records but little else than evils committed upon mankind, under the hateful names of conquest and glory.

We could almost lose our love of dogs in thus learning how they have been trained for the most abominable purposes, did not our indignation more properly attach to those who so trained them. But the history of logs will at once show us that their sagacity, their quick scent, their courage, and their perseverance, may be equally well trained for good as for evil. It is de ightful to turn from the blood-hounds of the conquerors of America to the Alpine spaniels of the monks of St. Bernard. These wonderful dogs have been usually called mastiffs, probably on account of their great strength; but they strictly belong to the subdivision of spaniels, amongst which are found the shepherd's dog, the Esquimaux dog, and the other varieties most distinguished for intelligence and fidelity.

The convent of the Great St. Bernard is situated near the top of the mountain known by that name, near one of the most dangerous passages of the Alps, between Switzerland and Savoy. In these regions the traveller is often overtaken by the most severe weather, even af

ter days of cloudless beauty, when the glaciers glitter in the sunshine, and the pink flowers of the rhododendron appear as if they were never to be sullied by the tempest. But a storm suddenly comes on; the roads are rendered impassable by drifts of snow; the avalanches, which are huge loosened masses of snow or ice, are s vept into the valleys, carrying trees and crags of rock before them. The hospitable monks, though their revenue is scanty, open their doors to every stranger that presents himself. To be cold, to be weary, to be benighted, constitute the title to their comfortable shelter, their cheering meal, and their agreeable converse. But their attention to the distressed does not end here. They devote themselves to the dangerous task of searching for those unhappy persons who may have been overtaken by the sudden storm, and would perish but for their charitable succor. Most remarkably are they assisted in these truly Christian offices. They have a breed of noble dogs in their establishment, whose extraordinary sagacity often enables them to rescue the traveller from destruction. Benumbed with cold, weary in the search for a lost track, his senses yielding to the stupifying influence of frost which betrays the exhausted sufferer into a deep sleep, the unhappy man sinks upon the ground, and the snow-drift covers him from human sight. It is then that the keen scent and the exquisite docility of these admirable dogs are called into action. Though the perishing man lie ten or even twenty feet beneath the snow, the delicacy of smell with which they can trace him offers a chance of escape. They scratch away the snow with their feet; they set up a continued hoarse and solemn bark, which brings the monks and laborers of the convent to their assistance. To provide for the chance that the dogs, without human help, may succeed in discovering the unfortunate traveller, one of them has a flask of spirits round his neck, to which the fainting man may apply for support; and another has a cloak to cover him. These wonderful exertions are often successful; and even where they fail of restoring him who has perished, the dogs discover the body, so that it may be secured for the recognition of friends; and such is the

effect of the temperature, that the dead features generally preserve their firmness for the space of two years. One of these noble creatures was decorated with a medal, in commemoration of his having saved the lives of twenty-two persons, who, but for his sagacity, must have perished. Many travellers who have crossed the passage of St. Bernard, since the peace, have seen this dog, and have heard, around the blazing fire of the monks, the story of his extraordinary career. He died about the year 1816, in an attempt to convey a poor traveller to his anxious family. The Piedmontese courier arrived at St. Bernard in a very stormy season, laboring to make his way to the little village of St. Pierre, in the valley beneath the mountain, where his wife and children dwelt. It was in vain that the monks attempted to check his resolution to reach his family.


They at last gave him two guides, each of whom was accompanied by a dog, of which one was the remarkable creature whose services had been so valuable to mankind. Descending from the convent, they were in an instant overwhelmed by two avalanches; and the same common destruction awaited the family of the poor courier, who were toiling up the mountain in the hope to obtain some news of their expected friend. They all perished.

A story is told of one of these dogs, who, having

[ocr errors]

found a child unhurt whose mother had been destroyed by an avalanche, induced the poor boy to mount upon his back, and thus carried him to the gate of the convent. The subject is represented in the preceding print.


BOTANY Written for the Monthly Repository and Library of Entertaining Knowledge

The science of Rotany has been long neglected in our seminaries. The fair youth of our country have walked among flowers without a thought of the beautiful arrangement and order which their Creator has im. posed upon the blooming ranks of the vegetable world, as well as through the marshalled constellations of the heavens, and the kingdoms of animal and mineral nature. Little thought the lovely daughters of America in years past, of the social affinities or sisterhood of flowers which they twined into their garlands, or bound in their bouquets. But, aided by botanical science, the rose, the lily, the pink, as well as the flowerless plants, and every creeping shrub, as well as the loftiest tree, disclose to the ravished eye of the student an assemblage of natural families, standing in a sort of tender relationship to each other, while the bond of union between individual species of a single genus is of a nature that art cannot counterfeit nor any methods of culture change. Like citizens of different nations the plants of the field, the garden, and the forest, retain their own nationality of costume and physiology, and their customs and manners, if we may so speak, are unchanged with the changing years.

We have been led to these remarks by a perusal of the proof sheets of the second edition of Familiar Lectures on Botany, by Mrs. Almira H. Lincoln, vice-principal of Troy female Seminary, from the press of H. & F. J. Huntington, Hartford. If we except the voluminous works of the German and French authors on Botany, which are far too expensive, not to say erudite, for common use in academies and boudoirs, we know of no book so pleasing and instructive as that of Mrs. Lincoln. The form of popular lectures which Mrs. Lincoln has adopt. ed, gives a miscellaneous interest to the work which

« EelmineJätka »