ASS (Equus Asinvs). This patient drudge, and too frequently illtreated beast, is neither an alien, a mongrel, nor a bastard ; but, like all other animals, has his family, his species, and his rank. His blood is pure, and if his family be less illustrious, it is, at least, as genuine and as ancient as that of the horse. The ass submits with firmness to strokes and chastisement: he is temperate both as to the quantity and quality of his food; he contents himself with that herbage which the horse and other animals disdain to eat: he is more delicate with regard to his drink, never using water unless it be perfectly pure. As his master does not take the trouble of combing him, he often rolls himself among thistles, ferns, &c. Without regarding what he is carrying, he lies down to roll as often as he can, seeming to reproach his masters with neglect and want of attention. When very young, the ass is gay, sprightly, nimble, and gentle; but he soon loses these qualities, probably by the bad usage he meets with, and becomes intractable and stubborn. When under the influence of love, he is perfectly furious. The affection of the female for her young is strong. Pliny assures us, that when an experiment was made to discover the strength of affection in a she-ass, she ran through the flames in order to come at her colt. Although the ass be generally ill used, he discovers a great attachment to his master; he smells him at a distance, and easily distinguishes him from other men. The ass has a very fine eye, an excellent scent, and a good ear. When overloaded, he hangs his head and sinks his ears ; when too much teased or tormented, he opens his mouth and retracts his lips in a disagreeable manner. If his eyes be covered, he will not move. He walks, trots, and gallops in the same manner as the horse, but all his motions are slower.— Whatever pace he is going at, if pushed, he instantly stops. The cry of the horse is called neighing; that of the ass, braying: he seldom, however, cries, except when pressed by hunger or love. The ass is less subject to vermin than any other animal covered with hair, probably owing to the hardness and dryness of his skin; and it is perhaps for the same reason that he is less sensible to the whip and spur than the horse. Asses in general carry the heaviest burdens, in proportion to their bulk; and as their keeping costs little or nothing, it is surprising that they are not put to more uses than .they generally are among us. That his performances would be of far greater account, and bis size and ability to labour might be greatly increased, if well fed, we have not only the result of an experiment by the Earl of Egremont, who made a successful trial of this animal to cart coals upon the road: Mr. John Lawrence informs us that he well remembers an ass, the property of a coach master at Colchester, " which for the two previous years successively had carried the post-boy with the mail between that town and the metropolis, a distance of fifty-one miles." The following anecdote from the Sporting Magazine will prove that the ass, when in condition, is so far exalted in the scale as nearly to approach the horse. " On my return," says the writer, " from Epsom races, on the Derby day (1824), my attention was attracted to what is vulgarly yclept a " donkey chaise," in which were a man and a woman of no small dimensions, going at a very rapid pace, and drawn by a small ass. Curiosity led me to follow them, when, as far as I could judge by the pace of my own horse, I found they were going at the rate of nine miles an hour, on a very indifferent road. On being observed by a friend, he rode up to me and told me he had seen this bumble vehicle, on its way to the course in the morning, give what is called the go-by to several carriages and four, and that he was equally struck with the extraordinary appearance and action of the animal. On my asking the owner a few questions about him.he informed me that he had done three miles in fifteen minutes with him on the road for a wager, and that he would back him to do it in less; at the same time giving me his address, when I found he was a blacksmith residing at Mitcham in Surrey. ' Do you keep your ass on Mitcham Common !' said I, anticipating his answer. ' Oh, no,' replied the son of Vulcan, ' he has never been out of my stable for three years, and he eats as good oats and beans as vour horse does.' ' It is accounted for,' said I to my friend: so we pulled up our horses, and gave Neddy the road."
Harewood, Harry. A Dictionary of Sports. London: T. Tegg and son, 1835.
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