THE WOLF'S "PRIVY PAW."
[TO TRW EDITOR OF TIIR "SPECTATOR.")
STE,—In the Spectator of August 29th the author of "Milton and the Brute Creation" remarks : "The hungry sheep of Lycidas' are of course not sheep at all, any more than is the grim wolf with privy paw' a wolf." I venture to take excep- tion to this remark so far as the wolf is concerned. I met my first wolf while on the march from Mandla through the prairies of Dindori towards the sources of the Nerbudda and the shrine of Amarkantah, "the navel of India." He was turning over clods in a field, and looked as big as a calf. At first sight I had no notion what the animal was ; but as I rode by within a few yards he swung his heavy head to look at me, and "burningly it came on me all at once" that this was Milton's "grim wolf with privy paw." He used his paw with a leisure, • A writer who visited Holyrood in 1776, and again in 1779, tells us that between these dates the head of Queen Magdalen and the skull of Darnley had been stolen.
t The last restoration of the Chapel Royal was in 1758, in the reign Of George iii, but it was an entire failure. precision, and delicacy that were most striking. Probably, if the truth must be told, he was hunting for field-mice. Since then I have kept not a few wolf-cubs. Restless and inquisitive, they seem to regard the world as a mystery to be solved by incessant, tentative scraping with their absurdly large fore- paws. I should say that Milton in one line has presented a
perfect picture of the wolf with almost photographic accuracy. This may have been pure accident. I quote from memory, but I think Miss Lawless in her "Lament of the Forest of Ulster" concludes the poem with the lines :— "The gray wolf with scraping claw,
The great gray wolf, with scraping claw, lest he Lay bare my dead, for gloating foes to see, Lay bare my dead who died, and died for me."
If I were asked what the most characteristic action of the wolf was, I should certainly say it was the stealthy, prying
use of the powerful fore-paw. Jackals and hyenas have the same characteristic in less conspicuous degree. The red hunting-dog has it not at all. His foot is light,—the foot of a runner. He is to wolves and jackals as a peregrine to a
Damoh, Central Provinces, India.