The Stag, pp.22-23.

[Three Hundred Animals Contents]

IS generally famed for long life, but upon no certain authority. the naturalists agree, however, upon this point, that his life may exceed forty years, but that his existence, as it has been asserted, reaches to three centuries, is not sufficiently proved to claim our belief; he comes to his full growth at five, soon after which is horns, which are yearly shed and renewed, grow from a narrower basis, and are less branching. He is the tallest of the deer kind. The Stag is called Hart after he has completed his fifth year. This creature is known in many countries; the female, called the Hind, is without horns. Every year, in the month of April, the male loses his antlers, and conscious of his temporary weakness, hides himself till his new ones are hardened. Little need be said of the pleasure taken in hunting the Stag, the Hart, and the Roe-buck, it being a matter well known in this country, and in all parts of Europe. His flesh is accounted an excellent food, and even his horns, so useful to cutlers, when reduced to powder, are much esteemed in physic under the common name of hartshorn. The swiftness of the Stag is become proverbial, and the diversion of hunting this creature has, for ages, been looked upon as a royal amusement. When fatigued in the chace, he often throws himself in a pond of water, or crosses a river, and, when caught, he sheds tears like a child. Our great Bard, Shakespeare, gives u a beautiful description of this circumstance in “As you Like it,” act II. scene I. 

“To the which place a poor sequester’d Stag, 

That from the hunter’s aim had ta’en a hurt, 

Did come to languish; and indeed, my lord, 

The wretched animal heav’d forth such groans 

That their discharge did stretch his leathern coat 

Almost to bursting: and the big round tears 

Cours’d one another down his innocent nose 

In piteous chase.”

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