« PoprzedniaDalej »
THE GOAT: HIS USEFUL QUALITIES, AND HOW HE CAME BY THEM.
ALTHOUGH the goat and the the fact that, where the wild goats sheep are commonly classed to- feed, it is necessary for the herd gether, and not unfrequently run to become scattered and for each in company, there is a great differs to find its own way. Hence, ence between them in habits and doubtless, the remarkable indedisposition. In the first place, pendence of the goat. Like his the goat immediately regains the fellow-mountaineer, the ass, he has faculties which enable it to thrive unshakable nerves, and will keep as a wild animal whenever it his presence of mind even when escapes from human control. One exposed to sudden and unaccusfinds goats which have run wild tomed danger. How great a conalmost all the world over where trast is he in this respect to the there are mountains. The goat is sheep, which is always liable to distinctly a climber among the sudden seizures of panic, and rocks, whereas the ancestor of the which, when frightened, invariably sheep, unless alarmed by a foe, loses its head! This independence grazed on the grassy slopes of and sang - froid of the goat have the hillsides. Wild goats to proved of service to its masters on this day prefer to live among many occasions. It used to be the precipices and broken crags, and custom in almost all stables conto browse upon the leaves of taining a number of valuable horses scattered shrubs which find lodg- to keep a goat, which was allowed ment in the clefts and crannies. the free run of the building. The It is a more sure-footed animal reason given was that, in the case than the sheep, and, moreover, of fire, when terrified horses will adopts different methods of pro- sometimes refuse to leave the gression when among its native stables and are therefore in great haunts; for where sheep prefer to danger of perishing, such a goat jump, goats usually prefer to will lead the way with the most clamber. One can see by merely perfect calmness, and, encouraged observing the outline of a goat by this example, the bewildered that it is not so well adapted for horses will follow it and so escape jumping, and is better adapted for destruction. I do not know perclimbing, than a sheep. It is al- sonally of any instance where this together more alert in its move- has taken place, but the commonments, and evidently bestows more ness of the custom asserts that thought on the process of loco- it has probably been justified by motion. Its hinder quarters have experience. There seems to be not the swelling muscles which something about a goat's imperpropel the wild sheep from rock turbable character which inspires to rock, but are rather lean and confidence and respect in other light. Hence the great difference animals. I have known instances (at times overlooked in Wales) be- of butchers who have kept goats tween a leg of goat and a leg of in order to entice victims into mutton. The great difference their slaughter-yards. Usually as shown between the two animals soon as an ox smells the taint of in character is probably owing to blood he becomes suspicious and
refuses to go farther, but if pre so incredible as it may at first sight ceded by a goat he will follow appear, if we remember that in their quietly to the place of execution. wild state these animals must not In like manner specially trained unfrequently find themselves in this
predicament." goats are constantly used on the ships which bring sheep from Intellectually as well as physiabroad. At the unloading-places cally the goat is less specialised in the Thames these decoy-goats for mountain life than the sheep, become very clever at their busi- and hence he finds it easier to
They will proceed to each adapt himself to the environment part of the ship where sheep are of the farm. That he is quick at penned and lead forth the huddled learning anything new, when he and frightened passengers with can be induced to give his mind to very little guidance from their it, has been shown by the achievemasters; and they will continue ments of a most interesting troop in this way in the most methodical of performing goats which has manner until the whole ship is been exhibited several times in cleared.
London. Another peculiarity of Not only does the goat show the goat tribe which shows that more initiative and greater in- they are less specialised than the dependence than the sheep, but sheep is the way in which certain he also displays more versatility. varieties tend to resemble kindred This shows that, when free, he animals which are not goats. Thus must have lived a kind of life in- there has been a long controversy volving frequent changes of habit, as to whether the “ Rocky Mounand must have been prepared to tain goat” is really a goat or an make shift to meet a great range antelope ; while some of the wild of emergencies. Mr Romanes, in goats of Northern India seem to his book on · Animal Intelligence,' be akin to the sheep tribe, since quotes two " cases of an intelligent they have, on all four feet, certain manæuvre performed by goats" digital pits or glands, which were which illustrate the expedients to at one time supposed to characwhich these animals occasionally terise the genus Ovis
. have to resort :
Another point about the goat “On both occasions two goats met
very useful, and on a ridge of rock with a precipice on
which can be accounted for by aneach side, and too narrow to admit of cestral habits, is the liberal supply their passing one another. One of of milk which it gives. Primarily these cases occurred on the ramparts this is owing to the fact that often of Plymouth Citadel, and was wit- two or three kids have to be pronessed by many persons; the other vided for at the same time; but to took place at Ardenglass, in Ireland. In both these instances the animals
some extent the special utility of looked at each other for some time, the goat as a milch animal is due as if they were considering their situa- to the same wild habit as that tion, and deliberating what was best which gave rise to the peculiar to be done in the emergency. In each usefulness of the cow. The udder case one of the goats then knelt down of the ewe is small when compared with great caution, and crouched as close as it could lie, when the other with that of a nanny-goat, and walked over its back. This maneuvre
contains but little milk at any one on the part of goats has also been re- time. In this the ewe resembles corded by other writers, and it is not the mare, and the cause is the
same in both instances. Each of every movement is executed. His these animals is in the habit of judgment is so perfect that he keeping its young by its side, scarcely ever makes a mistake. whereas the cow and the goat put Necessity has been his grim schooltheir tender offspring in hiding master; for it is of course easy to when they go to search for food, see that, when leaping from ledge and only suckle them twice or to ledge along the face of a precithrice daily. The extreme liveli pice, the least error in calculating ness, intelligence, and the early either his distance or the amount developed climbing powers of of muscular force to be exercised young kids seem to indicate that would instantly prove fatal. they were soon released from their This is a branch of the study of nurseries in the clefts of the rocks, natural history which has a pecuand were allowed to accompany liar fascination for me, and which, their dams. Certainly when com the more I think of it, fills me with pared with a young calf a kid is a admiration and amazement. What prodigy of intellect.
à mathematician the goat would Almost every movement of a kid make if he could only tell us the proves the mountain origin of its process by means of which he per
Its powers of climbing are forms his feats! A Senior Wrangextraordinary, and must be wit ler or a Smith's Prizeman would nessed to be believed. I have seen be nowhere beside him. Let me them clamber on slippery roofs endeavour, very briefly, to point and up the almost perpendicular out the nature of certain problems face of a quarry to places which which he is in the habit of solving seemed impossible to reach without with absolute accuracy at a mothe aid of a ladder, or the clinging ment's notice. Supposing a goat, power of claws or fingers. I re- following a new path, has to take member once seeing a pair of kids a leap so as to alight on a pinrunning races up and down the nacle or narrow crag overhanging shafts of a disused farm roller
some abyss. First of all he must which were tilted up at an angle estimate the distance to be travof about 45°. On the extreme ersed, and having got it, whether ends of the shafts, high in the air, by trigonometry or by some caprithe little creatures would stand, cious method of his own, he has one on each, and turn about as on next to compute, to the fraction a pivot, with the tips of all four of an ounce, how much propulsive hooflets close enough together to force is required to project his rest on a penny-piece.
body (the exact weight of which Such feats on the part of the has to be taken into account) pregoat are far more artistic exhibi- cisely that distance and not a tions of skill in climbing than any- quarter of an inch farther. Morething that can be done by a cat or over, he must take into calculation a monkey; for he does everything whether the spot he wishes to by calculating his distance with reach is above or below his startabsolute exactitude, and by an in- ing-point; and plainly his brain, finitely delicate power of adjusting when it sends forth motor imhis weight so as to maintain his pulses to the numerous muscles balance. What gives such finish involved, must beforehand reckon to the performance is his sublime and apportion to each its share confidence in himself, and the ex- in the task. At the same moment traordinary precision with which he must also estimate the exact
proportionate amount of muscular of use, cut out by the superior force which will be required in muscular capabilities of the donkey each of his limbs to stop and bal- and the mule. Had we been unance his body on his new and pre- able to make use of larger and carious foothold.
more robust animals, the goat Of course one need scarcely say might have come to our aid in that the whole process goes on this particular kind of service, without reaching the consciousness just as did the llama among the of the goat, or anything that could, ancient Peruvians. Moreover, I even by courtesy, be called his see no reason why, under the influmind. But, nevertheless, it is ob- ence of domestication and proper vious that, in some way or other, selection, his size and strength the calculation is made, and is should not have been doubled or completed in a time and with an trebled. We find, however, in unerring accuracy which com- investigating the growth of civilpletely puts to shame the mathe- isation among primitive races, that matical triumphs of the human as soon as their affairs are complex intellect.
enough to require pack - animals, One term habitually—and allit- they find it profitable to disregard eratively — applied to goats ap- the claims of the goat and to pears, when we regard his feats as take into their service some more a mountaineer, to be peculiarly in- sturdy creature, such as the yak, appropriate. People speak of him the donkey, or the mule. There as “giddy”; and as long as the are several reasons for thinking word is applied exclusively to his that the goat was one of the first morals (which, judged by our stan- animals domesticated by man. dard, I admit to be something We find, from the numerous reworse than negative), I have not cords of prehistoric races yielded a word to say against it. But if by the mud on the shores of the any one ventures to impute phy- Swiss lakes, that the bones of sical giddiness to a goat, he lays goats are associated with human himself open to a charge of false remains belonging to a period long and malicious libel—false, because anterior to that of the advent of it must be obvious to everybody the domestic sheep in Central who has seen goats perched aloft Europe. in their native haunts, that they Probably in nearly all cases can never experience any such where savages have habitually feeling; and malicious, because, tamed wild animals the custom the goat being above all things has arisen in the following way. one whose distinct calling it is to The hunter, having killed the climb in perilous places, the charge dam and captured the little ones, is one involving professional in- carried the latter home, very likely capacity.
as playthings for his children. If In spite of the goat's splendid the little orphans were pretty and qualities as a mountaineer, and the playful, they would be cherished toughness and vigour which he by the “squaws” and “papooses," evidently possesses, man has made and would become, as it were, little or no use of him as a beast members of the family circle. Now of burden. Doubtless his small young kids have very engaging size largely accounts for this ; and manners, and are to this day he has been, in almost every hilly universal favourites with children; country where he could have been hence they would be very likely to
be kept and brought up in some in his ancestral habitat. A goat such manner. Goats, again, re will cheerfully munch up strong quire very little looking after; cavendish tobacco, cigar-ends, wormthey can get a living almost any wood, red chillies, or almost any where, and will remain in the vegetable substance the pungency vicinity of their owners without or nauseousness of which deters much herding Hence they would other animals. Now we find that suit the indolent disposition of among the Southern rocks nearly savages far better than would every herb and shrub has a markedanimals which require constant ly bitter or aromatic character, attention. Many of the African partly induced, doubtless, by the
seem to show little or no abundant sunshine, and partly as a faculty for keeping domestic ani- defence from the depredations of mals, but one finds that most of animal life. That the goat is inthem have a few tame goats about different to some of the most their villages.
deterrent flavours is probably due Another reason why it seems
to the fact that for many generalikely that goats have been domesti- tions he has been obliged to exist cated for a very long time is the upon highly spiced pabulum of great number of varieties which this kind. now exist. Some of these have One peculiarity of the goat certain remarkable peculiarities I only venture to mention (not which could only be produced by that he is reticent on the subject many generations of careful breed himself), because it illustrates by ing Thus the ears of one kind what diverse means nature attains are so enormously developed as to like ends. Now among animals be 19 inches in length and 41 and plants, as well as in the cominches in breadth. Others have mercial world, the business of life an extra pair of horns; and it is cannot be done without advertisestated by one French writer that in ment. The wild ass uses his sonNubia they have actually developed orous voice in proclaiming his a breed which has no goat-like presence to all whom it may conodour. It seems likely that the cern within the radius of half a milking qualities of the goat would mile. The goat has a comparabe appreciated by primitive people, tively feeble voice, and yet he who would be quite unable to turn also has occasion to make himself the wool of the sheep to practical known to any friends or rivals account; and since sheep, when who may be in his neighbourhood. removed from their mountain home, He does it silently—but in this require very much more care than instance silence is wholly uncondo goats, I should be inclined to nected with modesty. He so argive the latter the prior place in ranges matters as to make it the history of domestication. abundantly evident to the nostrils
Attention has been drawn by of every living thing within an naturalists to the love of thistles area quite equal to that dominated displayed by the donkey, and the by the voice of the ass, that he is hint it gives us as to his desert at home. origin. The goat has some peculi Professor Lloyd Morgan, in one arities of taste of an equally ex of his delightful books about anitraordinary character, which may mals, indulges in what Louis be interpreted by studying the Stevenson describes as “a romankind of vegetation which thrives tic evasion,” when he speaks of