C YNOZA TR Y.
EW travelers but must have noticed
with more surprise than pleasure the
over-fondness bestowed in many parts of
Europe on dogs, less frequently of high than
of low degree. Dogs as a species are very
likable. To their masters they are the embodiments of amiability, affection, patience,
c and devotion. They seem to possess often
t a larger share of such virtues than the aver age of our own kind. Nevertheless, the af- fection that properly belongs to the human
f family, obviously enough, is, or should be.
– very different from the attachment felt for
– canine creatures. It is the confounding of
the two, or the substitution of one for the
other, that causes surprise, and at the same
time excites a feeling of repulsion.
Dogs are but dogs. Fond as we may be
of them, those of us who are well regulated
are inclined to resent their elevation above
their natural level, and to protest vehement ly against their exaltation into the domain
of worship. To say that dogs are often
worshiped in the Old World, and even in
the New, is not too strong a term; since a
love expressed for them as it should be only
for humanity is nothing less than worship.
Most of us could better tolerate this cy nolatry-to coin a word from the Greek-if
the animals worshiped were well chosen.
We can sympathize with a warm affection
felt by man or woman for a large, ffoble, in telligent, faithful mastiff, spaniel, or New foundland. We can excuse an attachment
to an almost intellectual, highly-organized
terrier. We can endure the bias that ac cepts an Italian greyhound, on account of
the grace, the beauty, and despite the block ishness of the beast. But it is hard to be
patient with the man who enters into part nership with a hideous bull-dog, or with the
woman who makes a stupid poodle her in separable companions
In Austria and Italy, large, lusty men of
the higher classes are in the habit of going
about in cities leashed to curs of every degree
of worthlessness. Army officers-fine-looking
fellows, too, for the most part-are particular ly so addicted. I have seen, at all seasons,
in the Ring and the Corso, tall, fiercely-beard ed colonels and captains dragged through
crowds, against lamp-posts, into shop-win dows, by eccentric brutes with whose prome nading fortunes they had linked their own.
A soldierly, a magnanimous occupation, tru ly! Often they were entangled with miry
carts and soiled pedestrians, tripped up by
their own swords, or forced to dance a gay ot on the heads and backs of sundry ur chins overturned in the mad career of the
labyrinth-pursuing heroes. Strange, they
should enjoy exercise so peculiar and per plexing; strange, they should elect their star
to be the dog-star, and to cut such capers
before a jeering multitude! Only worship of
Sirius in terrestrial form would blind men,
otherwise dignified and sensible, to their own
Women, however, are the chief of cynol aters on both sides of the sea. Europeans,
notably the English, far exceed Americans in
number and fervor in this respect. But we
are imitating them eagerly, and, as we do
nothing by halves in the Republic, there is
danger of our eventually equaling their folly.
May the deities whose care is good sense
avert the day!
It is generally thought and said that wom en who make idols of dogs are either unmar ried, or, if married, are not mothers; that
dogs are the poor substitutes of husbands,
C YNOLA T.R Y.
598 SHEA VES. [MAY 6,
lovers, or children. Women must love something; and anything is better than nothing.
This latter would seem to be true. Is it
not corroborated, indeed, by the kind of
husbands women frequently accept, and live
with without protest or complaint? Can
aught else than the imperative necessity of
loving elucidate the mysterious unions the
world over of Titania with Bottom, of Beauty with the Beast, of Genevra with Gobbo?
But_the other opinion is incorrect; for among
the cynolaters may be enumerated many
wives and mothers, who have not, therefore,
the palliation that has been assigned for
their deplorable fatuity.
As a rule, Englishwomen are plenteously maternal. They believe not in Malthus;
for they have never read him, and would not
understand him if they had. But they do
believe in canine pets, and they are prone
to favor the ugliest and meanest of the species. Why, is a wonder. They are seldom
very sentimental, at least in the ordinary way;
but, touching dogs, extreme sentimentalism
is theirs in superabundance.
I shall always have in mind a stout, not
to say gross, English wife and mother, who
was lately at the same hotel in Paris where
I was staying. She had grown-up children,
Amazonian manners, and a robust appetite.
I should have accused her as soon of beauty or elegance as of tenderness or sensibility.
One day I saw her in tears. The current of her quotidian prose had been turned
aside. She was not long in revealing to all
within ear-shot the source of her woe. She
had lost her dog; her beautiful, darling
Fido. She could not eat; she could not
sleep; she had wept all night; she was
wretched; she was inconsolable. She denounced the hotel because her miraculous
beast had disappeared thence. She declared it disgraceful that, in so pretentious a
house, the loss of so precious an animal
should be possible. She offered large rewards; she bribed servants and comnmissionnaires to search in every quarter of the city.
She would have died of sorrow but for copious tears, and more copious porter.
The next morning she shone upon the
breakfast-room in altered mood. Smiles rippled over the flaccid surface of her purple
cheeks. She was buoyant with beatitude
and beer. The cause was visible. In her
generous arms she held as vile a cur as ever
made canicide a duty or woman ever worshiped -a mangy, scraggy little brute, red,
rheumy-eyed, each maculate hair bristling
with repulsiveness. And that was Fido,
beautiful, darling Fido, for which she had
lain awake, and saturated herself with tears
and stout! She was hysterical with joy. She
laughed and wept by turns. She pressed him
to her bosom, and covered his unclean coat
I knew not which to pity more-the dog
or the woman. He could not help being a
dog; she could not help being a simpleton.
But he was the more natural of the two, the
more rational; for I could detect in his ugly
face an expression of regret that he had been
found. Taste, though it must have made
him a bitter enemy of himself, was not ex
tinct in Fido’s frame. Even he was not totally depraved.
She said, “I could smother you, darling,
with kisses,” and, agonizing under the operation, he howled, as plainly as any cur could,
“Smother me, quick!” But she didn’t. She
couldn’t have loved him.
Such instances of insane cynolatry are
not very common, fortunately, in this country; but on the Continent and in Great Britain they may be frequently seen. Americans
can bear with equanimity whatever dogworship European women may be guilty of.
Yet when our women ape that wretched folly
more and more every year (I am unwilling to
believe it original), it is natural men should
censure it, whatever the judgment of the
dogs. There are some opinions of dogs that
men are not bound to respect, and this is
one of them. Women, no doubt, have entire
right to fondle, caress, idealize, and idolize
the lower order of animals; but they ought
not to be surprised that men disrelish it,
since these claim to be the highest order of
If all cynolaters resembled the English
one in Paris, it would be easy to become resigned to the custom. But when they are
frequently young and comely, and claim to
be well-bred and refined, the worship is repugnant indeed.
Were the worship wholly private, it would
matter little. But, unhappily, it is often so
public as to indicate a desire to advertise it.
Almost any day we may see in our own cities
handsome, elegantly-dressed women-maidens, wives, and mothers- driving out in
grand style, holding in their laps and arms
small dogs of diversified disagreeableness.
They coddle the little beasts as if they were
the most charming children. Should Raphael’s and Correggio’s cherubs be endowed
with life, they could not be more tenderly
treated, more gently fondled, than these misplaced pets.
He must be a strange man who can repress a shudder of disgust when he sees a
poodle asleep on a woman’s breast, the recipient of her kisses, the unnatural idol of her
perverted heart. Whatever his view of progeny-fierce as might be his resistance to the
perpetuity of the race-he would at least advocate babies rather than dogs as the less of
the two evils. In the intensity of his disapprobation, he would exclaim, “Better a dozen
babies than a single poodle!”
An unmarried woman or a childless
wife may have some excuse for cynolatrythat is, something time and condition may
correct-but a mother guilty of it is without
palliation and beyond redemption.
Not a few women convert their homes
into kennels by making the dog the centre
of the family, the divinity of the household.
Their esteem and sympathies are to be
reached through him. He is the autocrat to
be conciliated before welcome can be gained.
He may yelp, snarl, bite, but the guest who
does not like it, or who remonstrates against
it, is thought to have violated the most sacred
rites of hospitality. Any person unwilling,
nay, not happy to be bitten by a coddled cur,
is incapable of understanding the amenities
of social life. Enterers of the temple where
in the dog is worshiped must dance to the
whims of the beast. They must accompany
him to the table; they must feed him; they
must submit to be pawed and howled at, if
they remit any of their attentions; they must
pretend to be delighted with the service they
render on pain of being considered barbarians.
The woman who is thus besotted with
literal cynicism would not dream of allowing
her own or any other person’s children onetwentieth of the privileges she demands for
her dog. But then it should be remembered,
in her justification, that her deity is a dog,
and they are only human.
Cynolatry, in all cases, is irrational, intemperate, morbid. Long continued, it cannot be cured. It utterly supplants natural
feeling; distorts the mind; twists the character. Nature revenges herself for the false
worship by dulling the better instincts, by
crippling the capacity for true love. Man is
not likely to be or to become a cynolater;
he is too selfish, too practical, too busy for
such absorption. Woman is at once the offender and the victim. She has such a wealth
of tenderness, such a surplusage of affection
generally, that when she permits these to
overflow they are prone to run in wrong
channels to the Sea of Folly. Canine and
divine, though they rhyme in maudlin verse,
are supremely dissonant in household hymns
and sonnets of society.