O God that created me so helpless, Strengthen my belief and make it firm. Command an angel to come from Paradise, And take up his abode in my dwelling, To protect me from every trouble That wicked folks are putting in my way; Jesus, that did... Read more of The Hymn Of Donald Ban at Scary Stories.caInformational Site Network Informational

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Cat Images

Those with long memories will not have forgotten the Italian with a
board on his head, on which were tied a number of plaster casts, and
possibly still seem to hear, in the far away time, the unforgotten cry
of "Yah im-a-gees." Notably, among these works of art, were models of
cats--such cats, such expressive faces; and what forms! How droll, too,
were those with a moving head, wagging and nodding, as it were, with a
grave and thoughtful, semi-reproachful, vacant gaze! "Yah im-a-gees" has
passed on, and the country pedlar, with his "crockery" cats, mostly red
and white. "Sure such cats alive were never seen?" but in burnt clay
they existed, and often adorned the mantel-shelves of the poor. What
must the live cat sitting before the fire have thought--if cats
think--when it looked up at the stolid, staring, stiff and stark
new-comer? One never sees these things now; nor the cats made of
paste-board covered with black velvet, and two large brass spangles for
eyes. These were put into dark corners with an idea of deception, with
the imbecile hope that visitors would take them to be real flesh and
bone everyday black cats. But was any one ever taken in but--the maker?
Then there were cats, and cats and kittens, made of silk, for selling at
fancy fairs, not much like cats, but for the purposes good. Cats
sitting on pen-wipers; clay cats of burnt brick-earth. These were
generally something to remember rather than possess. Wax cats also, with
a cotton wick coming out at the top of the head. It was a saddening
sight to see these beauties burning slowly away. Was this a "remnant"
of the burning of the live cats in the "good old times?" And cats made
of rabbits' skins were not uncommon, and far better to give children to
play with than the tiny, lovable, patient, live kitten, which, if it
submit to be tortured, it is well, but if it resent pain and suffering,
then it is beaten. There is more ill done "from want of thought than
want of heart."

But kittens have fallen upon evil times, ay, even in these days of
education and enlightenment. As long as the world lasts probably there
will be the foolish, the gay, unthinking, and, in tastes, the
ridiculous. But then there are, and there ever will be, those that are
always craving, thirsting, longing, shall I say mad?--for something
new. Light-headed, with softened intellects who must--they say they
must--have some excitement or some novelty, no matter what, to talk of
or possess, though all this is ephemeral, and the silliness only lasts a
few hours. Long or short, they are never conscious of these absurdities,
and look forward with all the eagerness of doll-pleased infancy for
another--craze. The world is being denuded of some of its brightest
ornaments and its heaven-taught music, in the slaughter of birds, to
gratify for scarcely a few hours the insane vanity, that is now rife in
the ball-room--fashion.

What has all this to do with cats? Why, this class of people are not
content, they never are so; but are adding to the evil by piling up a
fresh one. It is the kitten now, the small, about two or three weeks old
kitten that is the "fashion." Not long ago they were killed and stuffed
for children to play with--better so than alive, perhaps; but now they
are to please children of a larger growth, their tightly filled
skins, adorned with glass eyes, being put in sportive attitudes about
portrait frames, and such like uses. It is comical, and were it not for
the stupid bad taste and absurdity of the thing, one would feel inclined
to laugh at clambering kitten skins about, and supposed to be peeping
into the face of a languor-struck "beauty." Who buys such? Does any one?
If so, where do they go? Over thirty kittens in one shop window. What
next, and--next? Truly frivolity is not dead!

From these, and such as these, turn to the models fair and proper; the
china, the porcelain, the terra cotta, the bronze, and the silver, both
English, French, German, and Japanese; some exquisite, with all the
character, elegance, and grace of the living animals. In these there has
been a great advance of late years, Miss A. Chaplin taking the lead.
Then in bold point tracery on pottery Miss Barlow tells of the animal's
flowing lines and non-angular posing. Art--true art--all of it; and art
to be coveted by the lover of cats, or for art alone.

But I have almost forgotten the old-time custom of, when the young
ladies came from school, bringing home a "sampler," in the days before
linen stamping was known or thought of. On these in needlework were
alphabets, numbers, trees (such trees), dogs, and cats. Then, too, there
were cats of silk and satin, in needlework, and cats in various
materials; but the most curious among the young people's accomplishments
was the making of tortoiseshell cats from a snail-shell, with a smaller
one for a head, with either wax or bread ears, fore-legs and tail, and
yellow or green beads for eyes. Droll-looking things--very. I give a
drawing of one. And last, not least often, the edible cats--cats made of
cheese, cats of sweet sponge-cake, cats of sugar, and once I saw a cat
of jelly. In the old times of country pleasure fairs, when every one
brought home gingerbread nuts and cakes as "a fairing," the gingerbread
"cat in boots" was not forgotten nor left unappreciated; generally
fairly good in form, and gilt over with Dutch metal, it occupied a place
of honour in many a country cottage home, and, for the matter of that,
also in the busy town. If good gingerbread, it was saved for many a
day, or until the holiday time was ended and feasting over, and the next
fair talked of.

But, after all "said and done," what a little respect, regard, and
reverence is there in our mode to that of the Egyptians! They had three
varieties of cats, but they were all the same to them; as their pets, as
useful, beautiful, and typical, they were individually and nationally
regarded, their bodies embalmed, and verses chaunted in their praise;
and the image of the cat then--a thousand years ago--was a deity. What
do they think of the cat now, these same though modern Egyptians?
Scarcely anything. And we, who in bygone ages persecuted it, to-day give
it a growing recognition as an animal both useful, beautiful, and worthy
of culture.

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