Reference > Fiction > Nonfiction > Warner, et al., eds. > The Library

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
Characteristics of Cattle
By Carl Jonas Love Almqvist (1793–1866)
ANY one with a taste for physiognomy should carefully observe the features of the ox and the cow; their demeanor and the expression of their eyes. They are figures which bear an extraordinary stamp of respectability. They look neither joyful nor melancholy. They are seldom evilly disposed, but never sportive. They are full of gravity, and always seem to be going about their business. They are not merely of great economic service, but their whole persons carry the look of it. They are the very models of earthly carefulness.  1
  Nothing is ever to be seen more dignified, more official-looking, than the whole behavior of the ox; his way of carrying his head, and looking around him. If anybody thinks I mean these words for a sarcasm, he is mistaken: no slur on official life, or on what the world calls a man’s vocation, is intended. I hold them all in as much respect as could be asked. And though I have an eye for contours, no feeling of ridicule is connected in my mind with any of these. On the contrary, I regard the ox and the cow with the warmest feelings of esteem. I admire in them a naïve and striking picture of one who minds his own business; who submits to the claims of duty, not using the word in its highest sense; who in the world’s estimate is dignified, steady, conventional, and middle-aged,—that is to say, neither youthful nor stricken in years.  2
  Look at that ox which stands before you, chewing his cud and gazing around him with such unspeakable thoughtfulness—but which you will find, when you look more closely into his eyes, is thinking about nothing at all. Look at that discreet, excellent Dutch cow, which, gifted with an inexhaustible udder, stands quietly and allows herself to be milked as a matter of course, while she gazes into space with a most sensible expression. Whatever she does, she does with the same imperturbable calmness, and as when a person leaves an important trust to his own time and to posterity. If the worth of this creature is thus great on the one side, yet on the other it must be confessed that she possesses not a single trait of grace, not a particle of vivacity, and none of that quick characteristic retreating from an object which indicates an internal buoyancy, an elastic temperament, such as we see in a bird or fish…. There is something very agreeable in the varied lowing of cattle when heard in the distant country, and when replied to by a large herd, especially toward evening and amid echoes. On the other hand, nothing is more unpleasant than to hear all at once, and just beside one, the bellowing of a bull, who thus authoritatively announces himself, as if nobody else had any right to utter a syllable in his presence.  3

Shakespeare · Bible · Strunk · Anatomy · Nonfiction · Quotations · Reference · Fiction · Poetry
© 1993–2015 · [Top 150] · Subjects · Titles · Authors · World Lit.