From Anecdotes of Dogs, by Edward Jesse, Esq., London: Bell & Daldy; 1870; pp. 85-132.
“Nor will it less delight th’ attentive sage,
T’ observe that instinct which unerring guides
The brutal race, which mimics reason’s lore,
And oft transcends.
* * * *
The dog, whom nothing can mislead,
Must be a dog of parts indeed,
Is often wiser than his master.”
THIS noble dog may be justly styled the friend and guardian of his master. I had some doubts in making out my list of dogs, whether he ought not to take precedence of all others; but, after duly weighing the 134 matter in my own mind, I have given the palm to the Irish wolf-hound, and the honest Newfoundland immediately follows him. I not only think that this precedence will gratify some of my friends in Ireland, who have called upon me to do justice to one of their favourite and national emblems, but it is, perhaps, due in strict justice to an animal who proved himself so great a benefactor to his native country. There is, moreover, such a degree of romance attached to the recollection of his fine qualities and imposing appearance, that I should be sorry to lessen them by appearing to give the preference to any other dog. At the same time I may be allowed to add, that I have seen such courage, perseverance, and fidelity in the Newfoundland dog, and am acquainted with so many well-authenticated facts of his more than ordinary sense and utility, that I think him entitled to be considered as little inferior to the Irish wolf-dog.
When we reflect on the docility of the Newfoundland dog, his affectionate disposition, his aptitude in receiving instruction, and his instantaneous sense of impending danger, we shall no longer wonder at his being called the friend of his master, whom he is at all times ready to defend at the risk of his own life. How noble is his appearance, and at the same time how serene is his countenance!
“Sa fierté, sa beauté, sa jenesse agréable,
Le fit cherir de vous, et il est redoutable
A vos fiers ennemis par sa courage.
No animal, perhaps, can show more real courage than this dog. His perseverance in what he undertakes is so great, that he never relinquishes an attempt which has been enjoined him as long as there is a chance of success. I allude more particularly to storms at sea and consequent shipwreck, when his services, his courage, and indefatigable exertions, have been truly wonderful. Numerous persons have been saved from a watery grave by these dogs, and ropes have been conveyed by them from a sinking ship to the shore amidst foaming billows, by which means whole crews have been saved from destruction. Their feet are particularly well adapted to enable them to swim, being webbed very much like those of a duck, and they are at all times ready to plunge into the water to save a human being from drowning. Some dogs delight in following a fox, others in hunting the hare, or killing vermin. The delight of the Newfoundland dog appears to be in the preservation of the lives of the human race. A story is related on good authority of one of these dogs being in the habit, when he saw persons swimming in the Seine at Paris, of seizing them and bringing hem to the shore. In the immediate neighbourhood of Windsor a servant was saved from drowning by a Newfoundland dog, who seized him by the collar of his coat when he was almost exhausted, and brought him to the banks, where some of the family were assembled watching with great anxiety the exertions of the noble animal.136
Those who were much at Windsor, not many years since, must have seen a fine Newfoundland dog, called Baby, reposing occasionally in front of the white Hart Hotel. Baby was a general favourite, and he deserved to be so; for he was very mild in his disposition, brave as a lion, and very sensible. When he was thirsty, and could not procure water at the pump in the yard, he has frequently been seen to go to the stable, fetch an empty bucket, and stand with it in his mouth at the pump till some one came for water. He then, by wagging his tail and expressive looks, made his want known, and had his bucket filled. Exposed as Baby was to the attacks of all sorts of curs, as he slumbered in the sun in front of the hotel, he seemed to think that a pat with his powerful paws was quit sufficient punishment for them, but he never tamely submitted to insult from a dog approaching his own size, and his courage was only equalled by his gentleness.
The following anecdote, which is well authenticated, shows the sagacity as well as the kindliness of disposition of these dogs. In the city of Worcester, one of the principal streets leads by a gentle declivity to the river Severn. One day a child, in crossing the street, fell down in the middle of it, and a horse and cart, which were descending the hill, would have passed over it, had not a Newfoundland dog, rushed to the rescue of the child, caught it up in his mouth, and conveyed it in safety to the foot pavement.137
My kind friend, Mr. T&8212;—, took a Newfoundland dog and a small spaniel into a boat with him on the river Thames, and when he got into the middle of the river, he turned them into the water. They swam different ways, but the spaniel got into the current, and after struggling some time was in danger of being drowned. As soon as the Newfoundland dog perceived the predicament of his companion, he swam to his assistance, and brought him safe to the shore.
A vessel went down in a gale of wind near Liverpool, and every one on board perished. A Newfoundland dog was seen swimming about the place where the vessel was lost for some time, and at last came on shore very much exhausted. For three days he swam off to the same spot, and was evidently trying to find his lost master, so strong was his affection.
I have always been pleased with that charming remark of Sir Edwin Landseer, that the Newfoundland dog was a “distinguished Member of the Humane Society.” How delightfully has that distinguished artist portrayed the character of dogs in his pictures! and what justice has he done to their noble qualities! We see in them honesty, fidelity, courage, and sense — no exaggeration — no flattery. He makes us feel that his dogs will love us without selfishness, and defend us at the risk of their lives 7#8212; that though friends may forsake us, they never will — and that in misfortune, poverty, and death, their affection will be unchanged, 138 and their gratitude unceasing. But to return to the Newfoundland dog, and we shall again find him acting his part as a Member of the Humane Society.
A gentleman bathing in the sea at Portsmouth, was in the greatest danger of being drowned. Assistance was loudly called for, but no boat was ready, and though many persons were looking on, no one could be found to go to his help. In this predicament, a Newfoundland dog rushed into the sea and conveyed the gentleman safely to land. He afterwards purchased the dog for a large sum, treated him as he long as he lived with gratitude and kindness, and had the following words worked on his table-cloths and napkins — “Virum extuli mari.”
A person, in crossing a plank at a mill, fell into the stream at night, and was saved by his Newfoundland dog, and who afterwards recovered his hat, which had fallen form his head, and was floating down the stream.
There can be no doubt but that dogs calculate, and almost reason. A dog who had been in the habit of stealing from a kitchen, which had two doors opening into it, would never do so if one of them was shut, as he was afraid of being caught. If both the doors were open, his chance of escape was greater, and he therefore seized what he could. This sort of calculation, if I may call it so, was shown by a Newfoundland bitch. She had suckled two whelps until they were able to take care of themselves. They were, 139 however, constantly following and disturbing her in order to be suckled, when she had little or no milk to give them. She was confined in a shed, which was separated from another by a wooden partition some feet high. Into this shed she conveyed her puppies, and left them there while she returned to the other to enjoy a night’s rest unmolested. This shows that the animal was capable of reflecting to a degree beyond what would have been the result of mere instinct.
The late Rev. James Simpson, of the Potterrow congregation, Edinburgh, had a large dog of the Newfoundland breed. At that time he lived at Libberton, a distance of two miles from Edinburgh, in a house to which was attached a garden. One Sacrament Sunday the servant, who was left at home in charge of the house, thought it a good opportunity to entertain her friends, as he master and mistress were not likely to return home till after the evening’s service, about nine o’clock. During the day the dog accompanied them through the garden, and indeed wherever they went. In the evening, when the time arrived that the party meant to separate, they proceeded to do so; but the dog, the instant they went to the door, interposed, and placing himself before it, would not allow one of them to touch the handle. On their persisting and attempting to use force, he became furious, and in a menacing manner drove them back into the kitchen, where he kept them until the arrival of Mr. and Mrs. Simpson, 140 who were surprised to find the party at so late an hour, and more so to see the dog standing sentinel over them. Being thus detected, the servant acknowledged the whole circumstance, when were her friends were allowed to depart, after being admonished by the worthy divine in regard to the proper use of the Sabbath. They could not but consider the dog as an instrument in the hand of Providence to point out the impropriety of spending this holy day in feasting rather than in the duties of religion.
After the above circumstance, it became necessary for Mr. Simpson, on account of his children’s education, to leave his country residence, when he took a house in Edinburgh in a common stair. Speaking of this, one day, to a friend who had visited him, he concluded that he would be obliged to part with his dog, as he was too large an animal to be kept in such a house. The animal was present, and heard him say so, and must have understood what he meant, as he disappeared that evening, and was never afterwards heard of. These circumstances have been related to me by an elder of Mr. Simpson’s congregation, who had them from himself.
I am indebted to the later amiable Lord Stowell for the following anecdote, which has since been verified by Mr. Henry Wix, brother of the archdeacon: —
I am indebted to the late amiable Lord Stowell for the following anecdote, which has since been verified by Mr. Henry Wix, brother of the archdeacon: —
A Newfoundland dog belonging to Archdeacon Wix, which had never quitted the island, was brought 141 over to London by him in January, 1834, and when he and his family landed at Blackwall the dog was left on board the vessel. A few days afterwards the Archdeacon went from the Borough side of the Thames in a boat to the vessel, which was then in St. Katherine’s docs, to see about his luggage, but did not intend at that time to take the dog from the ship; however, on his leaving he vessel the dog succeeded in extricating himself from his confinement, jumped overboard, and swam after the boat across the Thames, followed his master into a counting-house on Gun-shot Wharf, Tooley street, and then over London Bride and through the City to St. Bartholomew’s Hospital. The dog was shut within the square whilst the Archdeacon went into his father’s house, and he then followed him on his way to Russell Square, but strayed somewhere in Holborn; and as several gentlemen stopped to admire him in the street, saying he was worth a great deal of money, the archdeacon concluded that some dog-stealer had enticed him away. He however wrote to the captain of the vessel to mention his loss, and made inquiries on the following morning at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, when h learnt that the dog had come to the gates late in the evening, and howled most piteously for admission, but was driven away. Two days afterwards the captain of the vessel waited on the Archdeacon with the dog, who had not only found his way back to the water’s edge, on the Borough side, but, what is more surprising, swam across the Thames, 142 where no scent could have directed him, and found out the vessel in St. Katharine’s Docks.
This sagacious and affectionate creature, had, previous to his leaving Newfoundland ,saved his master’s life by directing his way home when lost in a snowstorm many miles form any shelter.
The dog was presented to the Archdeacon’s uncle, Thomas Poynder, Esq., Clapham Common, in whose possession it continued until its death.
A gentleman of Suffolk, on an excursion with his friend, was attended by a Newfoundland dog, which soon became the subject of conversation. The master, after a warm eulogium upon the perfections of his canine favourite, assured his companion that he would, upon receiving the order, return and fetch any article 143 he should leave behind, from any distance. To confirm this assertion, a marked shilling was put under a large square stone by the side of the road, being first shown to the dog. The gentlemen then rode for three miles, when the dog received his signal from the master to return for the shilling he has seen put under the stone. The dog turned back; the gentlemen rode on, and reached home; but to their surprise and disappointment the hitherto faithful messenger did not return during the day. It afterwards appeared that he had gone to the place where the shilling was deposited, but the stone being too large for his strength to remove, he had stayed howling at the place till two horsemen riding by, and attracted by his seeming distress, stopped to look at him, when one of them alighting, removed the stone, and seeing the shilling, put it into his pocket, not at the time conceiving it to be the object of the dog’s search. The dog followed their horses for twenty miles, remained undisturbed in the room where they supped, followed the chambermaid into the bedchamber, and secreted himself under one of the beds. The possessor of the shilling hung his trousers upon a nail by the bed-side; but when the travellers were both asleep, the dog took them in his mouth, and leaping out of the window, which was left open on account of the sultry heat, reached the house of his master at four o-clock in the morning, with the prize he had made free with, in the pocket of which were found a watch and money, that were returned 144 upon being advertised, when the whole mystery was mutually unravelled, to the admiration of all the parties.*
Many years ago, I saw a horse belonging to a quartermaster in the 1st Dragoon Guards, when the regiment was quartered at Ipswich, find a shilling which was covered with sawdust, in the riding-school a the Cavalry barracks at that place, and give it to his owner. I thought this a wonderful instance of sagacity as well as docility, but how very far does this fall short of the intellectual faculty of dogs! I do not intend to assert that they are endowed with mental powers equal to the those which the human race possess, but to contend that thee is not a faculty of the human mind of which some evident proofs of its existence may not be found in dogs. Thus we find them possessed of memory, imagination, the powers of imitation, curiosity, cunning, revenge, ingenuity, gratitude, devotion, or affection, and other qualities. They are able to communicate their wants, their pleasures, and their pains, their apprehensions of danger, and their prospects of future good, by modulating their voices accordingly, and by significant gestures. They perfectly comprehend our wishes, and live with us as friends and companions. When the fear of man and dread of him were inflicted as a curse on the animal creation, the dog-kind alone seems an exception, and their sagacity and fidelity to 145 the human race was an incalculable blessing bestowed upon them. These remarks are fully borne out in a very interesting article on the dog in the “quarterly review” of September, 1843.
A fine, handsome, and valuable black dog of the Newfoundland species, belonging to Mr. Floyd, solicitor, Holmfirth, committed suicide by frowning itself in the river which flows at the back of the owner’s habitation. For some days previous the animal seemed less animated than usual, but on this particular occasion he was noticed to throw himself into the water and endeavour to sink by preserving perfect stillness of the legs and feet. Being dragged out of the stream, the dog was tied up for a time, but had no sooner been released than he again hastened to the ward and again tried to sink, and was again got out. This occurred many times, until at length the animal with repeated efforts appeared to get exhausted, and by dint of keeping his head determinedly under water for a few minutes succeeded at last in obtaining his object, for when taken out this time he was indeed dead. The case is worth recording, as affording another proof of the general instinct and sagacity of the canine race.
Mr. Nicol, late of Pall Mall, told me he saw an old foxhound deliberately drown itself, and was ready to make oath of it.
Mrs. Kaye, residing opposite Windsor Park Wall, Datchet, had a beautiful Newfoundland dog for the convenience of the family a boat was kept, that they 146 might at time cross the water without the inconvenience of going a considerable way round to Datchet Bridge. The dog was so delighted with the aquatic trips, that he very rarely permitted the boat to go without him. It happened that the coachman, who had been but little accustomed to the depths and shallows of the water, intending a forcible push with the punt pole, which was not long enough to reach the bottom, fell over the side of the boat in the deepest part of the water, and in the central part of the current, which accident was observed by a part of the family then at the front windows of the house; sudden and dreadful as the alarm was, they had the consolation of seeing the sagacious animal instantaneously follow his companion, when after diving, and making two or three shorter attempts, by laying hold of different parts of his apparel, which as repeatedly gave way or overpowered his exertions, he then, with the most determined and energetic fortitude, seized him by the arm, and brought him to the edge of the bank, where the domestics of the terrified family were ready to assist in extricating him from his perilous situation.†
I have mentioned that revenge had been shown by dogs, and the following is an instance of it. A gentleman was staying at Worthing, where his Newfoundland dog was teased and annoyed by a small cur, which snapped and barked at him. This he bore, without appearing to notice it, for some time; but at last the 147 Newfoundland dog seemed to lose his usual patience and forbearance, and he one day, in the presence of several spectators, took the cur up by his back, swam with it into the sea, held it under the water, and would probably have drowned it, had not a boat been put off and rescued it. There was another instance communicated to me. A fine Newfoundland dog had been constantly annoyed by a small spaniel. The former, seizing the opportunity when they were on a terrace under which a river flowed, took up the spaniel in his mouth, and dropped it over the parapet into the river.
Jukes, in his “Excursions in and about Newfoundland,” says, “A thin, short-haired black dog, belonging to George Harvey, came off to us to-day; this animal was of a breed very different form what we understand by the term Newfoundland dog in England. He had a thin tapering snout, a long thin tail, and rather thin but powerful legs, with a lank body, the hair short and smooth. These are the most abundant dogs of the country, the long-haired curly dogs being comparatively rare. They are by no handsome, but are generally more intelligent and useful than the others. This one caught his own fish; he sat on a projecting rock beneath a fish-lake or stage, where the fish are laid to dry, watching the water, which had a depth of six or eight feet, the bottom of which was white with fish-bones. On throwing a piece of codfish into the water, three or four heavy, clumsy-looking fish, called in Newfoundland sculpins, with great heads and mouths, 148 and many spines about them, and generally about a foot long, would swim to catch it. These he would ‘set’ attentively, and the moment one turned his broadside to him, he darted down like a fish-hawk, and seldom came up without the fish in his mouth. As he caught them he carried them regularly to a place a few yards off, where he laid them down; and they told us that in the summer he would sometimes make a pile of fifty or sixty a-day just at that place. He never attempted to eat them, but seemed to be fishing purely for his own amusement. I watched him for about two hours, and when the fish did not come I observed he once or twice put his right foot in the water, and paddled it about. This foot was white, and Harvey said he did it to toll or entice the fish; but whether it was fro that specific reason, or merely a motion of impatience, I could not exactly decide.”
Extraordinary as the following anecdote may appear to some person, it is strictly true, and strongly shows the sense, and I am almost inclined to add, reason of the Newfoundland dog.
A friend of mine, while shooting wild fowl with his brother, was attended by a sagacious dog of this breed. In getting near some trees by the side of a river, they threw down their hats, and crept to the edge of the water, when they fired at some birds. They soon afterwards sent the dog to bring their hats, one of which was smaller than the other. After several attempts to bring them both together in his mouth, the dog at last 149 placed the smaller hat in the larger one, pressed it down with his foot, and thus was able to bring them both at the same time.
A gentleman residing in Fifeshire, and not far from the city of St. Andres, was in possession of a very fine Newfoundland dog, which was remarkable alike for its tractability and its trustworthiness. At two other points, each distant about a mile, and at the same distance from this gentleman’s mansion, there were two dogs of great power, but of less tractable breeds than the Newfoundland one. One of these was a large mastiff, kept as a watch-dog by a farmer, and the other a stanch bull-dog, that kept guard over the parish mill. As each of these three was lord-ascendant of all animals at his master’s residence, they all had a good deal of aristocratic pride and pugnacity, so that two of them seldom met without attempting to settle their respective dignities by a wager of battle.
The Newfoundland dog was of some service in the domestic arrangements, besides his guardianship of the house; for every forenoon he was sent to the baker’s shop in the village, about half-a-mile distant, with a towel containing money in the corner, and he returned with the value of the money in bread. There were many useless and not over-civil curs in the village, as there are in too many villages throughout the country; but generally the haughty Newfoundland treated this ignoble race in that contemptuous style in which great 150 dogs are wont to treat little ones. When the dog returned from the baker’ shops, he sued to be regularly served with his dinner, and went peaceably on house-duty for the rest of the day.
One day, however, he returned with his coat dirtied and his ears scratched, having been subjected to a combined attack of the curs while he had charge of his towel and bread, and so could not defend himself. Instead of waiting for his dinner as usual, he laid down his charge somewhat sulkily, and marched off; and, upon looking after him, it was observed that he was crossing the intervening hollow in a straight line for the house of the farmer, or rather on an embassy to the farmer’s mastiff. The farmer’s people noticed this unusual visit, which they were induced to do from its being a meeting of peace between those who had habitually been belligerents. After some intercourse, of which no interpretation could be given, the two set off together in the direction of the mill; and having arrived there, they in brief space engaged the miller’s bull-dog as an ally.
the straight rod to the village where the indignity had been offered to the Newfoundland dog passed immediately in front of his master’s house, but there was a more private and more circuitous road by the back of the mill. The three took this road, reached the village, scoured it in great wrath, putting to the tooth every cur they could get sight of; and having taken their revenge, and washed themselves in a ditch, they 151 returned, each dog to the abode f his master; and, when any two of them happened to meet afterwards, they displayed the same pugnacity as they had done previous to their joint expedition.
There is a well-authenticated anecdote of two dogs at Donaghadee, in which the instinctive daring of the one by the other caused a friendship, and, as it should seem, a kind of lamentation for the dead, after one of them had paid the debt of nature. This happened while the government harbour or pier for the packets at Donaghadee was in the course of building, and it took place in the sight of several witnesses. The one dog in this case was also a Newfoundland, and the other was a mastiff. They were both powerful dogs; and though each was good-natured when alone, hey were very much in the habit of fighting when they met. One day they had a fierce and prolonged battle on the pier, from the point of which both fell into the sea; and as the pier was long and steep, they had no means of escape but by swimming a considerable distance. Throwing water upon fighting dogs is an approved means of putting an end to their hostilities; and it is natural to suppose that two combatants of the same species tumbling themselves into the sea would have the same effect. It had; and each began to make for the land as best he could. The Newfoundland being an excellent swimmer, very speedily gained the pier, on which he stood shaking himself; but at the same time watching the motions of his late antagonist, which, 152 being no swimmer, was struggling exhausted in the water, and just about to sink. In dashed the Newfoundland dog, took the other gently by the collar, kept his head above water, and brought him safely to shore. There was a peculiar kind of recognition between the two animals; they never fought again; they were always together; and when the Newfoundland dog had been accidentally killed by the passage of a stone waggon on the railway over him, the other languished and lamented for a long time.
A gentleman had a pointer and Newfoundland dog, which were great friends. The former broke his leg, and was confined to the kennel. During that time the Newfoundland never failed bringing bones and other food to the pointer, and would sit for hours together by the side of his suffering friend.
During a period of very hot weather, the Mayor of Plymouth gave orders that all dogs found wandering in the public streets would be secured by the police and removed to the prison-yard. Among them was a Newfoundland dog belonging to a shipowner of the port, who, with several others, was tied up in the yard. The Newfoundland soon gnawed the rope which confined him, and then hearing the cries of his companions to be released, he set to work to gnaw the ropes which confined them, and had succeeded in three or four instances, when he was interrupted by the entrance of the jailer.
A nearly similar case has frequently occurred in 153 the Cumberland Gardens, Windsor Great Park. Two dogs of the Newfoundland breed were confined in kennels at that place. When one of them was let loose, he has been frequently seen to set his companion free.
A boatman once plunged into the water to swim with another man for a wager. His Newfoundland dog, mistaking the purpose, and supposing that his master was in danger, plunged after him, and dragged him to the shore by his hair, to the great diversion of the spectators.
Mr. Peter Macarthur informs me, that in the year 1821, when opposite to Falmouth, he was at breakfast with a gentleman, when a large Newfoundland dog, all dripping with water, entered the room, and laid a newspaper on the table. The gentleman (who was one of the Society of Friends) informed, the party, that this dog swam regularly across the ferry every morning, and went to the post-office, and fetched the papers of the day.
Mr. Blaine, in his “Encyclopædia of Rural Sports,” tells the following story: — A Newfoundland dog, of the small, smooth-haired variety, in coming to England from his native country, was washed overboard during a tempestuous night. As daylight appeared the gale ceased, when a sailor at the mast-head descried something far in the wake of the vessel, which, by the help of his glass, he was led to believe was the dog, which was so great a favourite with the crew that it was unanimously requested of the captain of the vessel to lie to, and wait for the chance of saving the poor brute. 154 The captain, who had probably lost some time already by the storm, peremptorily refused to listen to the humane proposal. Whether it was the kindly feeling of the sailors, or the superstitious dread that if the dog were suffered to perish nothing would afterwards prosper with them, we are not informed; but we do know that, as soon as a refusal was made, the steersman left the helm, roundly asserting that he for one would never lend a hand to steer away from either Christian or brute in distress. The feeling was immediately caught by the rest of the crew, and maintained so resolutely, that the captain was forced to accede to the general wish; and the poor dog eventually reached the ship in safety, after having been, as we were informed, and implicitly believe, some hours in a tempestuous sea.
Bewick mentions an instance which shows the extraordinary sagacity of these dogs.
In a severe storm, a ship was lost off Yarmouth, and no living creature escaped, except a Newfoundland dog, which swam to the shore with the captain’s pocket-book in his mouth. Several of the bystanders attempted to take it from him, but he would not part with it. At length, selecting one person from the crowd, whose appearance probably pleased him, he leaped against his breast in a fawning manner, and delivered the book to his care.
After mentioning this anecdote it will not be displeasing to read Lord Grenville’s lines on his faithful 155 Newfoundland, as they may now be seen at Dropmore, with the translation of them: —’
Dr. Abell, in one of his lectures on phrenology, related a very striking anecdote of a Newfoundland 157 dog at Cork. This dog was of a noble and generous disposition, and when he left his master’s house was often assailed by a number of little noisy dogs in the street. He usually passed them with apparent unconcern, as if they were beneath his notice. One little cur, however, was particularly troublesome, and at length carried his petulance so far as to bite the Newfoundland dog in the back of his foot. This was too much to be patiently endured. He instantly turned round, ran after the offender, and seized him by the skin of his back. In this way he carried him in his mouth to the quay, and holding him some time over the water, at length dropped him into it. He did not seem, however, to wish to punish the culprit too much, for he waited a little while the poor animal, who was unused to the element, was not only well ducked, but near sinking, when he plunged in himself, and brought the other safe to land.
An officer, late in the 15th Hussars, informed me that he had witnessed a similar occurrence at St. Petersburg. These certainly are instances of a noble and generous disposition, as well as of great forbearance in not resenting an injury.
I may add the following instance of sagacity from the same quarter.
A vessel was driven by a storm on the beach of Lydd, in Kent. The surf was rolling furiously. Eight men were calling for help, but not a boat could be got 158 off to their assistance. At length a gentleman came on the beach, accompanied by his Newfoundland dog. He directed the attention of the noble animal to the vessel, and put a short stick in his mouth. The intelligent and courageous dog at once understood his meaning, and sprung into the sea, fighting his way through the foaming waves. He could not, however, get close enough to the vessel to deliver that which he was charged, but the crew joyfully made fast a rope to another piece of wood, and threw it towards him. The sagacious dog saw the whole business in an instant; he dropped his own piece, and immediately seized that which had been cast to him; and them, with a degree of strength and determination almost incredible, he dragged it through the surge and deliver it to his master. By this means a line of communication was formed, and every man on board saved.
The keeper of a ferry on the banks of eh Severn had a sagacious Newfoundland dog. If a dog was left behind by his owner in crossing, and was afraid of taking to the water, the Newfoundland dog has been frequently known to take the yelping animal in his mouth and convey it into the river. A person while rowing a boat, pushed his Newfoundland dog into the stream. The animal followed the boat for some time, till, probably finding himself fatigued, he endeavoured to get into it by placing his feet on the side. His owner repeatedly pushed the dog away, and in one of 159 his efforts to do so he overbalanced himself and fell into the river, and would probably have been drowned, had not the noble and generous animal immediately seized and held him above water till assistance arrived from the shore.
About twelve years ago a fine dog of a cross-breed, between a Newfoundland and a pointer, had been left by the captain of a vessel to the care of Mr. Park, of the White Hart Inn, Greenock. A friend of his, a gentleman form Argyllshire, took a fancy to this dog; and, when returning home, requested the loan of him for some time from Mr. Park, which he granted. This gentleman had some time before married a lady much to the dissatisfaction of his friends, who, in consequence, treated her with some degree of coldness and neglect. While he remained at home, the dog constantly attended him, and paid no apparent attention to the lady, who, on her part, never evinced any particular partiality for the dog. One time, however, the gentleman was called from home on business, and was to be absent several days. He wished to take the dog with him; but no entreaties could induce him to follow. The animal was then tied up to prevent his leaving the house in his absence; but he became quite furious till he was released, when he flew into the house and found his mistress, and would not leave her. He watched at the door of whatever room she was in, and would allow no one to approach without her special permission. When the gentleman returned home, the 160 dog seemed to take no more notice of the lady, but returned quietly to his former lodging in the stable. the whole circumstance caused considerable surprise; and the gentleman, wishing to try if the dog would again act in the same manner, left home or a day or two, when the animal actually resumed the faithful guardianship of his mistress as before; and this he continued to do whenever his master was absent, all the time he remained in his possession, which was two years.
The following anecdotes of an astonishing dog called Dandie are related by Captain Brown: —
“Mr. M‘Intyre, patent-mangle manufacturer, Regent Bridge, Edinburgh, as a dog of the Newfoundland breed, crossed with some other, named Dandie, whose sagacious qualifications are truly astonishing and almost incredible. As the animal continues to give the most striking proofs of his powers, he is well known in the neighbourhood, and any person may satisfy himself of the reality of those feats, many of which the writer has himself had the pleasure to witness.
“When Mr. M‘Intyre is in company, how numerous soever it may be, if he but say to the god, ‘Dandie, bring me my hat,’ he immediately picks out the hat from all the others and puts it in his master’s hand.
“Should every gentleman in company throw a pen-knife on the floor, the dog, when commanded, will select his master’s knife from the heap, and bring it to him.161
“A pack of cards being scattered in the room, if his master have previously selected one of them, the dog will find it out and bring it to him.
“A comb was hid on the top of a mantel-piece in the room, and the dog required to bring it, which he almost immediately did, although in the search he found a number of articles, also belonging to his master, purposed stewed all around, all of which he passed over, and brought the identical comb which he was required to fin, fully proving that he is not guided by the sense of smell, but that he perfectly understands whatever is spoken to him.
“One evening, some gentlemen being in company, one of them accidentally dropped a shilling on the floor, which, after the most careful search, could not be found. Mr. M‘Intyre seeing his dog sitting in a corner, and looking as if quite unconscious of what was passing, said to him, ‘Dandie, find us the shilling, and you shall have a biscuit.’ The dog immediately jumped upon the table and laid down the shilling, which he had previously picked up without having been perceived.
“One time, having been left in a room in the house of Mrs. Thomas, High Street, he remained quiet for a considerable time; but as no one opened the odor, he became impatient, and rang he bell; and when the servant opened the door, she was surprised to find the dog pulling the bell-rope. Since that period, which was the first time he was observed to do it, he pulls 162 the bell whenever he desired; and what appears till more remarkable, if there is no bell-rope in the room, he will examine the table, and if he finds a hand-bell, he takes it in his mouth and rings it.
“Mr. M‘Intyre having one evening supped with a friend, on his return home, as it was rather late, he found all the family in bed. He could not find his boot-jack in the place where it usually lay, nor could he find it anywhere in the room after the strictest search. He then said to the dog, ‘Dandie, I cannot find my bootjack; search for it.’ The faithful animal, quite sensible of what had been said to him, scratched at the room-door, which his master opened. Dandie proceeded to a very distant part of the house, and soon returned, carrying in his mouth the bootjack, which Mr. M. now recollected to have left that morning under a sofa.
“A number of gentlemen, well acquainted with Dandie, are daily in the habit of giving him a penny, which he takes to a baker’s shop and purchases bread for himself. One of these gentlemen, who lives in James’s Square, when passing some time ago, was accosted by Dandie, in expectation of his usual present. Mr. T—— then said to him, ‘I have not a penny with me to-day, but I have one at home.’ Having returned to his house some time after, he heard a noise at the door, which was opened by the servant, when in sprang Dandie to receive his penny. In a frolic Mr. T—— gave him a bad one, which he, as usual, carried to the baker, but was refused his bread, as the 161 money was bad. He immediately returned to Mr. T——’s, knocked at he door, and when the servant opened it, laid the penny down at her feet, and walked off, seemingly with the greatest contempt.
“Although Dandie, in general, makes an immediate purchase of bread with the money which he receives, yet the following circumstances clearly demonstrates that he possesses roe prudent foresight than may who are reckoned rational beings.
164 with them. After having bathed, they entered a garden in the town; and having taken some refreshment in one of the arbours, they took a walk around the garden, the gentleman leaving his hat and gloves in the place. In the meantime some strangers came into the garden, and went into the arbour which the others had left. Dandie immediately, without being ordered, ran to the place and brought off he hat and gloves, which he presented to the owner. One of the gloves, however, had been left; but it was no sooner mentioned to the dog than he rushed to the place, jumped again into the midst of he astonished company, and brought off he glove in triumph.
“A gentleman living with Mr. M‘Intyre, going out to supper one evening, locked the garden-gate behind him, and laid the key on the top of the wall, which is about seven feet high. when he returned, expecting to let himself in the same way, to his great surprise the key could not be found, and was obliged to go round to the front door, which was a considerable distance about. tThe next morning strict search was made for the key, but still no trace of it could be discovered. At last, perceiving that the dog followed h wherever he went, he said to him, ‘Dandie, you have the key — go, fetch it.’ Dandie immediately went into the garden and scratched away the earth from the root of a cabbage, and produced the key, which he himself had undoubtedly hid in that place.
“If his master place him on a chair, and request 165 him to sing, he will instantly commence a howling, which he gives high or low as signs are made to him with the finger.
“About three years ago a mangle was sent by a cart from the warehouse, regent bridge, to Portobello, at which time the dog was not present. Afterwards Mr. M. went to his own house, North back of the Canongate, and took Dandie with him, to have the mangle delivered. When he had proceeded a little way the dog ran off, and he lost sight of him. He still walked forward; and in a little time he found the cart in which the mangle was, turned towards Edinburgh, with Dandie holding fast by the reins, and the carter in the greatest perplexity; the man steed that the dog had overtaken him, jumped on his cart, and examined the mangle, and then had seized the reins of the horse and turned him fairly round, and that he would not let go his hold, although he had beaten him with a stick. On Mr. M.’s arrival, however, the dog quietly allowed the carter to proceed to his place of destination.”
The following is another instance of extraordinary sagacity. A Newfoundland dog, belonging to a grocer, had observed one of the porters of the house, and who was often in the shop, frequently take money from the till, and which the man was in the habit of concealing in the stable. The dog, having witnessed these thefts, became restless, pulling persons by the 166 skirts of their coats, and apparently wishing them to follow him. At length, an apprentice had occasion to go to the stable; the dog followed him, and having drawn his attention to the heap of rubbish under which the money was buried, began to scratch till he had brought the booty to view. The apprentice brought it to his master, who marked the money and restored it to the place where it had been hidden. Some of the marked money was soon afterwards found on the porter, who was taken before a magistrate, and convicted of the theft.
A Newfoundland dog, which was frequently to be seen in a tavern in the High Street of Glasgow, lay generally at the door. When any person came to the house, he trotted before them into an apartment, rang the bell, and then resumed his station at the door.
The great utility and sagacity of the Newfoundland dog, in cases of drowning, were shown in the following instance. Eleven sailors, a woman, and the waterman, had reached a sloop of war in Hamoze in a shore-boat. One of the sailors, stooping rather suddenly over the side of the boat to reach his hat, which had fallen into the sea, the boat capsized, and they were all plunged into the water. A Newfoundland dog, on the quarterdeck of the sloop, seeing the accident, instantly leaped amongst the unfortunate persons, and seizing one man by the collar of his coat, he supported his head above water until a boat had hastened to the spot and save the lives of all but the waterman. After delivering his 167 burden in safety, the noble animal made a wide circuit round the ship in search of another person; but not finding one, he took up an oar in his mouth which was floating away, and brought it to the side of the ship.
A sailor, attended by a Newfoundland dog, became so intoxicated, that he fell in Piccadilly, and was unable to rise, and soon fell asleep. The faithful dog took a position at his master’s head, and resisted every attempt to remove him. The man, having at last slept off the fumes of his intoxicating libations, awoke, and being told of the care his dog had taken of him, exclaimed, “This is not the first time he had kept watch over me.”
On Thursday evening, January 28, 1858, as the play of “Jessie Vere” was being performed at Woolwich Theatre, and when a scene in the third act had been reached, in which a “terrific struggle” for the possession of a child takes place between the fond mother and two “hired ruffians,” a large Newfoundland dog, which had by some means gained admittance with its owner into the pit, leaped over the heads of the musicians in the orchestra, and flew to the rescue, seizing one of the assassins, and almost dragging him to the ground. It was with difficulty removed, and dragged off the stage. The dog, which is the property of the chief engineer of Her Majesty’s ship buffalo, has been habitually accustomed to the society of children, for whom he has on many occasions evinced strong proofs of affection.168
Mr. Bewick, in his history of Quadrupeds, mentions some instances of the sagacity and intellect of Newfoundland dogs; and it may not be uninteresting to the admirers of tat celebrated wood-engraver to be informed, on the authority of his daughters, that the group on the bridge in his print of the Newfoundland dog represents Mr. Preston, a Printer of Newcastle, Mr. Vint, of Whittingham, Mr. Bell, House steward, and Mr. Bewick. Their initials, P. V. B. and B., are introduced in the woodcut. The dog was drawn at Eslington, the seat of Mr. Liddell, the eldest son of Lord Ravensworth.A name="toprefyen" HREF="#refyen">¥
In Newfoundland, this dog if invaluable, and answers the purpose of a horse. He is docile, capable of strong attachments, and is easy to please in the quality of his food, as he will live on scraps of boiled fish, either salted or fresh, and on boiled potatoes, and cabbage. The natural colour of this dog is black, with the exception of a very few white spots. Their sagacity is sometimes so extraordinary, as on many occasions to show that they only want the faculty of speech to make themselves fully understood.
The Rev. L. Anspach, in his history of the Island of Newfoundland, mentions some instances of this intelligence.
One of the Magistrates of Harbour-Grace, the late Mr. Garland, had an old dog, which was in the habit of carrying a lantern before his master at night, as 169 steadily as the most attentive servant could do; stopping short when his master made a stop, and proceeding when he saw him disposed to follow him. If his master was absent from home, on the lantern being fixed to his mouth, and the command given, “Go, fetch your master,” he would immediately set off and proceed directly to the town, which lay at the distance of more than a mile form the place of his master’s residence. He would then stop at the door of every house which he knew his master was in the habit of frequenting, and, laying down his lantern, would growl and strike the door, making all the noise in his power until it was opened. If his master was not thee, he would proceed further until he had found him. If he accompanied him only once into a house, it was sufficient to induce him to take that house in his round.
The principal use of this animal in Newfoundland, in addition to his qualities as a good watch-dog and a faithful companion, is to assist in fetching from the woods the lumber intended either for repairing the fish stages, or for fuel; and this is done by dragging it on the snow or ice, or else on sledges, the dog being tackled to it.
These animals bark only when strongly provoked. They are not quarrelsome, but treat the smaller species with a great degree of patience and forbearance. They will defend their masters on seeing the least appearance of an attack on his person. The well-known partiality of these dogs for water, in 170 which they appears as if in their proper element, diving and keeping their heads under the surface for a considerable time, seems to give them some connexion with the class of amphibious animals. At the same time, the several instances of their superior sagacity, and the essential services which they have been frequently known to render to humanity, give them a distinguished rank in the scale of the brute creation. I will mention another instance of this.
The Durham packet of Sunderland was, in 1815, wrecked near Clay, in Norfolk. A faithful dog was employed to use his efforts to carry the lead-line on shore from the vessel; but there being a very heavy sea, and a deep beach, it appeared that the drawback of the surf was too powerful for the animal to contend with. Mr. Parker, ship-builder, of Wells, and Mr. Jackson, jun., of Clay, who were on the spot, observing this, instantly rushed into the sea, which was running very high, and gallantly succeeded, though at a great risk, in catching hold of the dog, which was much exhausted, but which had all this time kept the line in his mouth. The line being thus obtained, a communication with the vessel was established; and a warp being passed from the ship to the shore, the lives of all on board, nine in number, including two children, were saved.
Some dogs are of an extremely jealous disposition; and the following extraordinary instance of it was communicated to me by Mr. Charles Davis, the well-known 171 and highly respected huntsman of her Majesty’s stag-hounds, a man who has gained many friends, and perhaps never lost one, by his well-regulated conduct and sporting qualifications.
He informed me that a friend of his had a fine Newfoundland dog, which was a great favourite with the family. While this dog was confined in the yard, a pet lamb was given to one of the children, which the former soon discovered to be sharing a great portion of those caresses which he had been in the habit of receiving. This circumstance produced so great an effect on the poor animal, that he refused to eat, and fretted till he became extremely unwell. Thinking that exercise might be of use to him, he was let loose. No sooner was this done, than the dog watched his opportunity, and seized the lamb in his mouth. He was seen conveying it down a lane, about a quarter of a mile from his master’s house, at the bottom of which the river Thames flowed. On arriving at it, he held the lamb under water till it was drowned, and thus effectually got rid of his rival. On examining the lamb, it did not appear to have been bitten, or otherwise injured; and it might almost be supposed that the dog had chosen the easiest death in removing the object of his dislike.
The sense of these animals is, indeed, perfectly wonderful. A lieutenant in the navy informed me, that while his ship was under sail in the Mediterranean, a favourite canary bird escaped form its cage, and flew 172 into the sea. A Newfoundland dog on board witnessed the circumstances, immediately jumped into the sea, and swam to the bird, which he seized in his mouth, and then swam back with it to the ship. On arriving on board and opening the dog’s mouth, it was found that the bird was perfectly uninjured, so tenderly had it been treated, as though the dog had been aware that the slightest pressure would have destroyed it.
Mr. Youatt, whose remarks on the usefulness and good qualities of the inferior animals, in his work on Humanity to Brutes, do him so much credit, gives the following anecdote as a proof of the reasoning power of a Newfoundland dog.
Wanting one day to go through a tall iron gate, from one part of his premises to another, he found a lame puppy lying just within it, so that he could not get in without rolling the poor animal over, and perhaps injuring it. Mr. Youatt stood for while hesitating what to do, and length determined to go round through another gate. A fine Newfoundland dog, however, who had been waiting patiently for his wonted caresses, and perhaps wondering why his master did not get in as usual, looked accidentally down at his lame companion. He comprehended the whole business in a moment — put down his great paw, and as gently and quickly as possible rolled the invalid out of the wary, and then drew himself back in order to leave room for the opening of the gate.173
We may be inclined to deny reasoning faculties to dogs; but if this was not reason, it may be difficult to define what else it could be.
Mr. Youatt also says, that his own experience furnishes him with an instance of the memory and gratitude of a Newfoundland dog, who was greatly attached to him. He says, as it became inconvenient to him to keep the dog, eh gave him to one who he knew would treat him kindly. Four years passed, and he had not seen him; when one day, as he was walking towards Kingston, and had arrived at the brow of the hill where Jerry Abershaw’s gibbet then stood, he met Carlo and his master. The dog recollected Mr. Youatt in a moment, and they made much of each other. His master, after a little chat, proceeded towards Wandsworth, and Carlo, as in duty bound, followed him. Mr. Youatt had not, however, got half-way down the hill when the dog was again at his side, lowly but deeply growling, and every hair bristling. On looking about, he saw two ill-looking fellows making their way through the bushes, which occupied the angular space between Rochampton and Wands worth roads. Their intention was scarcely questionable, and, indeed, a week or two before, he had narrowly escaped from miscreants like them. “I can scarcely say,” proceeds Mr. Youatt, “what I felt; for presently one of the scoundrels emerged from the bushes, not twenty yards from me; but he no sooner saw my companion, and heard his growling, the loudness and 174 depth of which were fearfully increasing, than he retreated, and I saw no more of him or of his associate. My gallant defender accompanied me to the direction-post at the bottom of the hill, and there, with many a mutual and honest greeting, we parted, and he bounded away to overtake his rightful owner. We never met again; but I need not say that I often though of him with admiration and gratitude.
It is pleasing to record such instances of kindness in a brute. Here we see a recollection of, and gratitude for, previous good treatment, and that towards one whom the dog had not seen for four years. There is a sort of bewilderment in the human mind, when we come to analyze the feelings, affections, and peculiar instinctive faculties of dogs. A French writer (Mons. Blaze) has asserted that the dog most undoubtedly has all the qualities of a man possessed of good feeling, and adds that man has not the fine qualities of the dog. We make a virtue of that gratitude which is nothing more than a duty incumbent upon us, while it is an inherent quality in the dog.
“Canis gratus est, et amicitiæ memor.”
We repudiate ingratitude, and yet every one is more or less guilty of it. Indeed, where shall we find the man who is free from it? Take, however, the first dog you meet with, and the moment he has adopted you for his master, from that moment you are sure of his 175 gratitude and affection. He will love you without calculating what he shall gain by it — his greatest pleasure will be to be near you — and should you be reduced to beg your bread, no poverty will induce him to abandon you. Your friends may, and probably will, do so — the object of your love and attachment will not, perhaps, like to encounter poverty with you. Your wife, by some possibility (it is a rare case, however, if she has received kind treatment) may forget her vows, but your dog will never leave you — he will either die at your feet, or if he should survive you, will accompany you to the grave.
An intelligent correspondent, to whom I am indebted for some sensible remarks on the faculties of dogs, has remarked that large-headed dogs are generally possessed of superior faculties to others. This fact favours the phrenological opinion that size of brain is evidence of superior power. He has a dog possessing a remarkably large head, and few dogs can match him in intelligence. He is a cross with the Newfoundland breed, and besides his cleverness in the field as a retriever, he shows his sagacity at home in the performance of several useful feats. One consists in carrying messages. If a neighbour is to be communicated with, the dog is always ready to be the bearer of a letter. He will take orders to the workmen who reside at a short distance from the house, and will scratch impatiently at their door when so employed, although at other times, desirous of sharing 176 the warmth of their kitchen fire, he would wait patiently, and then entering with a seriousness befitting the imagined importance of his mission, would carefully deliver the note, never returning without having discharged his trust. His usefulness in recovering articles accidentally lost has often been proved. As he is not always allowed to be present at dinner, he will bring a hat, book, or anything he can find, and hold it in his mouth as a sort of apology for his intrusion. He seems pleased at being allowed to lead his master’s horse to the stable.
Newfoundland dogs may readily be taught to rescue drowning persons. In France, this forms a part of their education, and they are now kept in readiness on the banks of the Seine, where they form a sort of Humane Society Corps. By throwing the stuffed figure of a man into a river, and requiring the dog to fetch it out, he is soon taught to do so when necessary, and thus he is able to rescue drowning persons. This hint might not be thrown away on our own excellent Humane Society.
Many dogs are called of the Newfoundland breed who have but small relationship with that sensible animal. The St. John’s and Labrador dogs are also very different from each other. The former is strong in his limbs, rough-haired, small in the head, and carries his tail very high. The other, by far the best for every kind of shooting, is oftener black than of any other colour, and scarcely bigger than a pointer, 177 He is made rather long in the head and nose, pretty deep in the chest, very fine in the legs, has short or smooth hair, does not carry his tail so much curled as the other, and is extremely quick and active in running, swimming, or fighting. The St. John’s breed of these dogs is chiefly used on their native coast by fishermen. Their sense of smelling is scarcely to be credited. Their discrimination of scent, in following a wounded pheasant through a whole covert full of game, appears almost impossible.
The real Newfoundland dog may be broken into any kind of shooting, and, without additional instruction, is generally under such command, that he may be safely kept in, if required to be taken out with pointers. For finding wounded game of every description there is not his equal in the canine race, and he is a sine quâ non in the general pursuit of wild-fowl. These dogs should be treated gently, and much encouraged when required to do anything, as their faults are easily checked. If used roughly, they are apt to turn sulky. They will also recollect and avenge an injury. A traveller on horseback, in passing through a small village in Cumberland, observed a Newfoundland dog reposing by the side of the road, and from mere wantonness gave him a blow with his whip. The animal made a violent rush at and pursued him a considerable distance. Having to proceed through the same place the next journey, which was about twelve months afterwards, and while in the act 178 of leading his horse, the dog, no doubt recollecting his former assailant, instantly seized him by the boot, and bit his leg. Some persons, however, coming by, rescued him from further injury.
A gamekeeper had a Newfoundland dog which he used as a retriever. Shooting in a wood one day, he killed a pheasant, which ell at some distance, and he sent his dog for it. When half way to the bird, he suddenly returned, refusing to go beyond the place at which he had first stopped. This being an unusual circumstance, the man endeavoured more and more to enforce his command; which being unable to effect, either by words or his whip, he at last, in a great passion, gave the dog a violent kick in the ribs, which laid it dead at his feet. He then proceeded to pick up the bird, and on returning from the spot, discovered a man concealed in the thicket. He immediately seized him, and upon examination, several snares were found on his person. This may be a useful hint to those who are apt to take violent measure with their dogs.
A gentleman who had a country house near London, discovered on arriving at it one day that he had brought away a key, which would be wanted by his family in town. Having an intelligent Newfoundland dog, which had been accustomed to carry things, he sent him back with it. While passing with the key, the animal was attacked by a butcher’s dog, against which he made no resistance, but got away form him. After safely delivering the key, he returned to rejoin 179 his master, but stopped in the way at he butcher’s shop, whose dog again sallied forth. The Newfoundland this time attacked him with a fury, which nothing but revenge could have inspired, nor did he quit the aggressor till he had killed him.
The following fact affords another proof of the extraordinary sagacity of these dogs.
A Newfoundland dog of the true bred was brought from that country, and given to a gentleman who resided near Thames Street, in London. AS he had no means of keeping the animal, except in close confinement, he sent him to a friend in Scotland by a Berwick smack. When he arrived in Scotland he took the first opportunity of escaping, and though he certainly had never before travelled one yard of the road, he found his way back to his former residence on Fish-street Hill; but in so exhausted a state, that he could only express his joy at seeing his master, and then died.
So wonderful is the sense of these dogs, that I have heard pf three instances in which they have voluntarily guarded the bed-chamber doors of their mistresses, during the whole night, in the absence of their masters, although on no other occasion did they approach them.
The Romans appear to have had a dog, which seems to have been very similar in character to our Newfoundland. In the Museum of Naples there is an antique bronze, discovered amongst the ruins of Herculaneum, 180 which represents two large dogs dragging from the sea some apparently drowned persons.
The following interesting fact affords another instance of the sagacity and good feeling of the Newfoundland dog: —
In the year 1841, as a labourer, named Rake, in the parish of Botley, near Southampton, was at work in a gravel-pit, the top stratum gave way, and he was buried up to his neck by the great quantity of gravel which fell upon him. He was at the same time so much hurt, two of his ribs being broken, that he found it impossible to make any attempt to extricate himself from his perilous situation. Indeed, nothing could be more fearful than the prospect before him. No one was within hearing of his cries, nor was any one likely to come near the spot. He must almost inevitably have perished, had it not been for a Newfoundland dog belonging to his employer. This animal had been watching the man at his work for some days, as if he had been aware that his assistance would be required; for no particular attachment to each other had been exhibited on either side. As soon, however, as the accident occurred, the dog jumped into the pit, and commenced removing the gravel with his paws; and this he did in so vigorous and expeditious a manner, that the poor man was at length able to liberate himself, though with extreme difficulty. What an example of kindness, sensibility, and I may add reason, does this instance afford us!181
A gentleman in Ireland had a remarkably fine and intelligent Newfoundland dog, named Boatswain, whose acts were the constant theme of admiration. On one occasion, an aged lady who resided in the house, and the mother-in-law of the owner of the dog, was indisposed and confined to her bed. The old lady was tired of chickens and other productions of the farmyard, and a consultation was held in her room as to what could be procured to please her fancy for dinner. Various things were mentioned and declined, in the midst of which Boatswain, who was greatly attached to the old lady, entered her room with a fine young rabbit in his mouth, which he laid at the foot of the bed, wagging his tail with great exultation. It is not meant to infer that the dog knew anything of the difficulty of finding a dinner to the lady’s taste, but seeing her distressed in mind and body, it is not impossible that he had brought his offering in the hopes of pleasing her.
On another occasion, his master found this dog early one summer’s morning, keeping watch over an unfortunate countryman, who was standing with his back to a wall in the rear of the premises, pale with terror. He was a simple, honest creature, living in the neighbourhood. Having to attend some fair or market, about four o’clock in the morning, he made a short cut through the grounds, which were under the protection of Boatswain, who drove the intruder to the wall, and kept him there, showing his teeth, and giving 182 a growl whenever he offered to stir from the spot. In this way he was kept a prisoner till the owner of the faithful animal released him.
There was a Newfoundland dog on board H. M. S. Bellona, which kept the deck during the battle of Copenhagen, running backward and forward with so brave an anger, that he became a greater favourite with the men than ever. When the ship was paid off, after the peace of Amiens, the sailors had a parting dinner on shore. Victor was placed in the chair, and fed with roast beef and plum-pudding, and the bill was made out in Victor’s name. This anecdote is taken from Southey’s “Omniana.”
I am indebted to a kind correspondent for the following anecdotes:
“A friend of mine, who in the time of the war commanded the Sea Fencibles, in the neighbourhood of Southend, possessed in those days a magnificent Newfoundland dog, named Venture. This noble creature my friend was accustomed to take with him in the pursuit of wild fowl. One cold evening, after having tolerable sport, the dog was suddenly missed; he had been last seen when in pursuit of a winged bird. As the ice was floating in the river, and the dog was true to his name, and would swim any distance for the recovery of wounded game, it was feared he must have fallen a victim to the hazards of the sport, and his owner returned home in consequence much dispirited. On his arrival at his house, 183 what was his extreme surprise, on entering the drawing-room, to find his wife accompanied by the dog, had a fine mallard lying on the table: the lady had, on her part, been overwhelmed with anxiety by the dog’s having returned alone some time before, knowing the frequently perilous amusement in which her husband had embarked. The dog had straight on his return rushed to the drawing-room where the lady sat, and had laid the wild duck at her feet, having brought it safely in his mouth several miles.
“A gentlemen once sent a coat to the tailor to me mended — it was left upon a counter in the shop. His dog had accompanied the servant to the tailor’s. The animal watched his opportunity, pulled the coat down from the counter, and brought it home in triumph to his master.
“There is a tendency in the pride of man to deny the power of reasoning in animals, while it is the belief of some that reason is often a more sure guide to the brute beast, for the purposes designed by Providence, than that of their detractors. The fact is, I think, few persons who reflect deny the power, in a degree, to the less gifted of Nature’s works. Certainly not some of the wisest of our race. Bishop Butler in his ‘Analogy,’ I think, assumes it; while the following beautiful inscription, designed for the epitaph of a favourite Newfoundland dog, was penned by no less a person than the last wise and venerable Earl of Eldon: from it his views on this subject may, 184 I fancy, be easily discerned. They are published in the life of him, written by Horace Twiss: —
* A similar instance of canine intelligence will be found in p. 51 of the present volume.
† “The Sportsman’s Cabinet.”
‡; Tenbeia portus est Cambriæ meridionalis, ubi Belagrum colonis a rege, ut fertur. Hencrico primolocata est. Horum posteri a circumjacente Celticæ originis populo lingua etiam nunc omnino discrepant.
§ Infinitive, quem vocant, hoc in ier desinente solus credo, inter, melioris notæ, quos habemus, elegorum scriptores usus est Catullus: sed qualis ille Poeta! sed quntus in omni genere Latini carminis et artifex elegantiæ et magister!
¶ His master’s pocket-book, with which Tippo, the only living creature saved from the wreck, came ashore.
¥ See Bewick’s “Quadrupeds,” p. 306, 1st ed.
* [A Mangle, according to freedictionary.com is defined as “clothes dryer for drying and ironing laundry by passing it between two heavy heated rollers.”
There is a picture on their page which you can see when you click on the link. — Elf.Ed.]