The Wolf





The Wolf, as a beast of prey, is invested with a terror peculiarly its

own; when solitary, it is not much dreaded by, and generally shrinks

from, man, but, united by hunger into packs, they are truly to be

dreaded, for they spare not man nor beast. They lie, too, under the

imputation of magic, and have done so from a very early age. Their

cunning, instinct, or reasoning powers, are almost as well developed as

in the fox, and, of all the authorities I have consulted, the one best

fitted to discourse upon the Wolf and his peculiarities is Topsell, and

here is one of their idiosyncrasies:--



"It is said that Wolves doe also eate a kind of earth called Argilla,

which they doe not for hunger, but to make their bellies waigh heavy, to

the intent, that when they set upon a Horsse, an Oxe, a Hart, an Elke,

or some such strong beast, they may waigh the heavier, and hang fast at

their throates till they have pulled them downe, for by vertue of that

tenacious earth, their teeth are sharpened, and the waight of their

bodies encreased; but, when they have killed the beast that they set

upon, before they touch any part of his flesh, by a kind of natural

vomit, they disgorge themselves, and empty their bellies of the earth,

as unprofitable food....



"They also devoure Goates and Swyne of all sortes, except Bores, who doe

not easily yeald unto Wolves. It is said that a Sow, hath resisted a

Wolfe, and when he fighteth with her, hee is forced to use his greatest

craft and suttelty, leaping to and from her with his best activity,

least she should lay her teeth upon him, and so at one time deceive him

of his prey, and deprive him of his life. It is reported of one that saw

a Wolfe in a Wood, take in his mouth a peece of Timber of some thirty or

forty pound waight, and with that he did practise to leape over the

trunke of a tree that lay upon the earth; at length, when he perceived

his own ability and dexterity in leaping with that waight in his mouth,

he did there make his cave, and lodged behinde that tree; at last, it

fortuned there came a wild Sow to seeke for meat along by that tree,

with divers of her pigs following her, of different age, some a yeare

olde, some halfe a yeare, and some lesse. When he saw them neare him, he

suddenly set upon one of them, which he conjectured was about the waite

of Wood which he carried in his mouth, and when he had taken him,

whilest the old Sow came to deliver her pig at his first crying, he

suddenly leaped over the tree with the pig in his mouth, and so was the

poore Sow beguiled of her young one, for she could not leape after him,

and yet might stand and see the Wolfe to eate the pigge, which hee had

taken from her. It is also sayd, that when they will deceive Goates,

they come unto them with the greene leaves and small boughes of Osiers

in their mouthes, wherewithall they know Goats are delighted, that so

they may draw them therewith, as to a baite, to devour them.



"Their maner is, when they fal upon a Goat or a Hog, or some such other

beast of smal stature, not to kil them, but to lead them by the eare

with al the speed they can drive them, to their fellow Wolves, and, if

the beast be stubborne, and wil not runne with him, then he beateth his

hinder parts with his taile, in the mean time holding his ear fast in

his mouth, whereby he causeth the poore beast to run as fast, or faster

than himselfe unto the place of his owne execution, where he findeth a

crew of ravening Wolves to entertaine him, who, at his first appearance

seize upon him, and, like Divels teare him in peeces in a moment,

leaving nothing uneaten but onely his bowels....



"Now although there be a great difference betwixt him and a Bul, both in

strength and stature, yet he is not affraid to adventure combat,

trusting in his policy more than his vigor, for when he setteth upon a

Bul, he commeth not upon the front for feare of his hornes, nor yet

behind him for feare of his heeles, but first of al standeth a loofe

from him, with his glaring eyes, daring and provoking the Bul, making

often profers to come neere unto him, yet is wise enough to keepe a

loofe till he spy his advauntage, and then he leapeth suddenly upon the

backe of the Bul at the one side, and being so ascended, taketh such

hold, that he killeth the beast, before he loosen his teeth. It is also

worth the observation, how he draweth unto him a Calfe that wandereth

from the dam, for by singular treacherie he taketh him by the nose,

first drawing him forwarde, and then the poore beast striveth and

draweth backward, and thus they struggle togither, one pulling one way,

and the other another, till at last the Wolfe perceiving advantage, and

feeling when the Calfe pulleth heavyest, suddenly he letteth go his

hold, whereby the poore beast falleth backe upon his buttocks, and so

downe right upon his backe; then flyeth the Wolfe to his belly which is

then his upper part, and easily teareth out his bowels, so satisfieng

his hunger and greedy appetite.



"But, if they chance to see a Beast in the water, or in the marsh,

encombred with mire, they come round about him, stopping up al the

passages where he shold come out, baying at him, and threatning him, so

as the poore distressed Oxe plungeth himselfe many times over head and

eares, or at the least wise they so vex him in the mire, that they never

suffer him to come out alive. At last, when they perceive him to be

dead, and cleane without life by suffocation, it is notable to observe

their singular subtilty to drawe him out of the mire, whereby they may

eat him; for one of them goeth in, and taketh the beast by the taile,

who draweth with al the power he can, for wit without strength may

better kill a live Beast, than remove a dead one out of the mire;

therefore, he looketh behind him, and calleth for more helpe; then,

presently another of the wolves taketh that first wolve's tail in his

mouth, and a third wolf the second's, a fourth the third's, a fift the

fourth, and so forward, encreasing theyr strength, until they have

pulled the beast out into the dry lande. Sextus saith that, in case a

Wolf do see a man first, if he have about him the tip of a Wolf's taile,

he shal not neede to feare anie harme. All domestical Foure footed

beasts, which see the eie of a wolfe in the hand of a man, will

presently feare and runne away.



"If the taile of a wolfe be hung in the cratch of Oxen, they can never

eat their meate. If a horse tread upon the foote steps of a Wolfe, which

is under a Horse-man or Rider, hee breaketh in peeces, or else standeth

amazed. If a wolfe treadeth in the footsteps of a horse which draweth a

waggon, he cleaveth fast in the rode, as if he were frozen.



"If a Mare with foale, tread upon the footsteps of a wolfe, she casteth

her foal, and therefore the Egyptians, when they signifie abortment doe

picture a mare treading upon a wolf's foot. These and such other things

are reported, (but I cannot tell how true) as supernaturall accidents in

wolves. The wolfe also laboureth to overcome the Leoparde, and followeth

him from place to place, but, for as much as they dare not adventure

upon him single, or hand to hand, they gather multitudes, and so

devoure them. When wolves set upon wilde Bores, although they bee at

variance amonge themselves, yet they give over their mutual combats, and

joyne together against the Wolfe their common adversarie.



"And this is the nature of this beast, that he feareth no kind of weapon

except a stone, for, if a stone be cast at him, he presently falleth

downe to avoide the stroke, for it is saide that in that place of his

body where he is wounded by a stone, there are bred certaine wormes

which doe kill and destroie him.... As the Lyon is afraide of a white

Cocke and a Mouse, so is the wolfe of a Sea crab, or shrimp. It is said

that the pipe of Pithocaris did represse the violence of wolves when

they set upon him, for he sounded the same unperfectly, and

indistinctly, at the noise whereof the raging wolfe ran away; and it

hath bin beleeved that the voice of a singing man or woman worketh the

same effect.



"Concerning the enimies of wolves, there is no doubt but that such a

ravening beast hath fewe friends, ... for this cause, in some of the

inferiour beasts their hatred lasteth after death, as many Authors have

observed; for, if a sheepe skinne be hanged up with a wolves's skin, the

wool falleth off from it, and, if an instrument be stringed with

stringes made of both these beasts the one will give no sounde in the

presence of the other."



Here we have had all the bad qualities of the Wolf depicted in glowing

colours; but, as a faithful historian, I must show him also under his

most favourable aspect--notably in two instances--one the she-wolf that

suckled Romulus and Remus, and the other who watched so tenderly over

the head of the Saxon Edmund, King and Martyr, after it had been severed

from his body by the Danes, and contemptuously thrown by them into a

thicket. His mourning followers found the body, but searched for some

time for the head, without success; although they made the woods resound

with their cries of "Where artow, Edward?" After a few days' search, a

voice answered their inquiries, with "Here, here, here." And, guided by

the supernatural voice, they came upon the King's head, surrounded by a

glory, and watched over, so as to protect it from all harm--by a WOLF!

The head was applied deftly to the body, which it joined naturally;

indeed, so good a job was it, that the junction could only be perceived

by a thin red, or purple, line.



It must be said of this wolf, that he was thorough, for not content

with having preserved the head of the Saintly King from harm, he meekly

followed the body to St. Edmund's Bury, and waited there until the

funeral; when he quietly trotted back, none hindering him, to the

forest.





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