14 FEBRUARY 1880, Page 14



Sur.,—Eight hundred feet above the sea, among the granite• hills of Aberdeenshire, I saw, for the first time in Scotland, an ox at plough. I was wandering through the pine-forest crown- ing the hill, when a gap in the tree-ranks, that showed a half- ploughed field, was filled up by a moving object, which quite perplexed me for a few seconds. And no wonder. It was a sight I had never seen before,—an ox and horse ploughing together. Let no one imagine that ox-ploughing is a mark of barbarism. The ploughman with whom I forgathered was as interesting as his team,—a man brimful of intelli- gence, with whom a few minutes' talk would suffice to make an English Tory understand why Scotland is Liberal. He was as intelligent as an average Member of the Itonse of Commons, and, of course, considerably more so than an average Member of the House of Lords. A man of poetic sensibility, as Scotch ploughmen generally are, he had names for his team. The home—a whitish, sturdy brute—he called Donald ; the ox—a stately black animal—he called Jock. As I walked round the field with him, he gave me his "crack." The ploughing, he told me, improved Jock's constitution • generally, strengthened his stomach, and enabled him to make of himself better beef. (What a fine illustration this would be to some Highland minister in a sermon on the blessing of toil.) Five hours a day he thought sufficient ploughing for an ox—one team five hours in the morning, the other five hours in the afternoon—but in his own case, he had sometimes had Jock ploughing the whole ten hours, granting him two hours at mid-day for dinner and siesta. The ox, he told me, pulled stronger than the horse. Its step is steadier, less jerky, it has more weight, lies lower to the ground, and has a more direct pull on the plough,—indeed, your own eyes were evidence that Jock was more than a match for Donald. In -addition, it does not require such expensive food when at work as a horse, a little turnip and hay being all it requires ; and but for the fact that horses are better fitted for the general work of a farm and are already trained, he seemed to think oxen would be made use of in ploughing much more widely, Cows were occasionally put to the plough, but he himself shrank from the idea (from a spirit of gallantry, no doubt. noblesse oblige); but bulls, once trained, produced the very finest -work. The time required to train oxen to the plough was various. Some could not be trained, some required weeks, while others required but a few days. Jock, for example, being an ox .of talent, if not of genius, had acquired his business in two days. One could not help feeling interested in Jock, as he moved with patient dignity round the field of toil. He looked like a Pores, —a sable monarch in bondage; and Shakespere's words came naturally to your mind, " You do him wrong, being so majes- tical." The pathos was deepened, when you learnt that in a few months Jock would have to depart this life. His course -consists of two years of growth, two years of ploughing, and then comes the end, when Jock is sent up to London, it may be to provide nutriment (horreaco referees !) for Tories and Turks. 'There was a glorious sunset in progress, as I left this field of toil and interest. The sun was resting on the top of Lochnagar, which looked as if it were fairly on fire, while the saliva that hang from Jock's lips sparkled in the level beams like a liquid Kohinoor. Surely this earth would be a happier place, if more men, at their last hour, were as well able to say as Jock, when his brief life comes to an end, that they have been worth their meat.—I am, Sir, &c.,