The New Student's Reference Work/Ass
Ass. The ass, originally domesticated from the wild ass of Abyssinia, differs from the horse in its smaller size and its long hair tufted at the end of the tail. Its fur is usually of a gray color. The unwillingness it shows to cross the smallest stream and its fondness for rolling in the dust point to arid deserts as probably its first home. Its reputation for stupidity is very old. The Egyptians represented an ignorant person by the head and ears of an ass. In the middle ages the Germans of Westphalia made the ass represent Thomas, the unbelieving apostle, and the boy who was last to enter the school on St. Thomas’ Day was called the “Ass Thomas.” In southern Europe, the ass has been carefully bred and thus greatly improved. The small size of the animal in cold countries is as much due to neglect as to the climate. In Kentucky, where they are used in breeding mules, being well cared for, they are fifteen hands high on an average; while in the north of India, where they are used by the lowest castes, they are no taller than a Newfoundland dog. In Syria and Egypt the ass is seen at its best, and is highly prized as a domestic animal. Its milk is very valuable for invalids. Wild asses are hunted in Persia.