Eton College Slang

2 terms


a bankrupt.—Cheshire. Brosier-my-dame , school term, implying a clearing of the housekeeper's larder of provisions, in revenge for stinginess.—Eton.


to cheat or rob.—Eton College. In London to watch closely and narrowly.
A sharp, cunning fellow. Also an old term for a sword, probably a rusty one, or else from its being dyed red with blood; some say this name alluded to certain swords of remarkable good temper, or metal, marked with the figure of a fox, probably the sign, or rebus, of the maker.

Battle Between A Fox and A Swan

A fierce battle between a fox and a swan took place at Sherborne Park. Master Reynard seems to have caught the old swan napping, and to have seized him by the throat. The bird defended himself with his wings so powerfully that its assailant was done to death in no time, and a workman going past the lake above the bridge next morning found both fox and swan lying dead together. The bird had received a fatal bite in the throat; the fox had one leg broken and the side of its head completely broken in. The swan was the oldest bird on the lake.

The Clever Fox

O NE summer's day on the banks of the river Tweed, in Scotland, a fox sat watching a brood of wild ducks feeding in the river. Presently a branch of a fir tree floated in their midst, which caused them to rise in the air, and after circling round for some time, they again settled down on their feeding ground. At short intervals this was repeated, the branch floating from the same direction, until the ducks took no further notice of it than allowing it to pass by. Mr. Reynard noticed this; so he got a larger branch than the others, and crouching down among the leaves, got afloat, and coming to the ducks, who took no notice of the branch, he seized two of the ducks, and then allowed himself to be floated to the other side, where, we suppose, he had a repast.

Fox  (Canis vulpes ).—The common fox, also called red fox, has thick, soft fur, which is, on its upper parts, a light rust red, and on its lower parts whitish. Its body attains a length of thirty inches. Its long tail is bushy, and ends in a white tip.

The fox is a common inhabitant of the whole of Europe, and of the northern parts of Asia, America, and Africa. It inhabits forests and woods, where it lives with its mate in caverns. In rapacity it is nearly equal to the wolf; but it can master its cupidity and wait for better opportunities if danger should threaten. No animal is the subject of so many fables. “Master Reynard” is always the cunning rogue, who outwits his adversaries. Only on behalf of their young will the male as well as the female fox risk their lives; intense love will then overcome every fear and precaution.

The fox hunts hares, fowls, geese, and ducks, and even fish; but it always destroys a great number of mice, whereby the injury done by it is partly equalized. Its cover has always several exits. If found to be rather deep, it was not constructed by the fox, but by a badger, which either left its burrow willingly or was driven out by the new tenant. The fox is hunted in different ways.

Foxes have long been regarded as constituting a separate genus under their Latin name Vulpes, but conservative naturalists now think they belong with the wolves in the genus Canis ("a dog"). The type is that of a smaller, more agile and delicate animal than a wolf or jackal, with a broader skull and sharper muzzle, larger ears, a longer, more bushy tail, and usually longer fur. Weaker than its wolfish relatives, though endowed with great swiftness, and used to playing the double rôle of hunter and hunted, its brain has been developed to a high degree to make up for its bodily deficiencies, and shows capacity for further development. Nevertheless the fox is not quite such a marvel of shrewdness as he is reputed to be, and fox hunters in Great Britain—under whose combination of care and chase his education has been more advanced than anywhere else—note much diversity in brain work among them.

Although the North American red fox has a different name from the typical European one it is virtually the same, and shows its skill and adaptability by continuing to live and flourish in the midst of our civilization, where it practices quite as much sly craft and success in chicken stealing as does "Reynard" on the other side of the ocean. The red fox is to be found all over the continent as far south as Georgia, and where the winters are cold his long and silky fur becomes of marketable value, especially in its darker varieties. The animal has touches of black on the tail and the legs, and this seems liable to affect the whole pelage in the North. Thus some are all black; others are black with every hair tipped with white, and are called "silvers"; others have a blackish band along the spine and across the shoulders. To these the name "cross-foxes" is given. The skins so marked bring high prices, and an extensive industry has arisen in Canada by breeding black and marked foxes in captivity, where pure color strains have been developed, whereas in nature one or more of these melanistic varieties may occur in any litter of normally red parents.

North America has three or more other species of fox, one of which, the gray fox, is common throughout the country east and south of the Appalachian heights, as far north as the lower valley of the Hudson River. It is smaller and grayer than the red fox, is more of a forest-keeping animal, and does not burrow, but makes its nest in the bottom of a decayed tree or stump, or within a hollow log. Living in a climate where small game is abundant the year round, and chicken-stealing comparatively easy, he has not been driven to the straits of getting food in winter to which the northern foxes are driven, and hence has developed less of the ingenuity and cleverness they show. On the high plains of the West dwells a small, active fox, known as the kit fox, or "swift," which feeds on the ground squirrels and mice of that region, and makes its home in a burrow (often one dug by a prairie dog), where it hibernates in winter. It is now rare and very wary.

Throughout the polar regions right around the globe is found the arctic fox in great numbers, and wandering in summer, at least, to the farthest islands, where its prey consists of lemmings, rabbits, ptarmigan and fish. This is a shy little beast, with blunt nose, short, rounded ears, a very long, bushy tail, and the soles of the feet well shod with hair, giving them a firm and warm grip on the snow and ice over which they leave tiny tracks from Labrador to Siberia. In summer its dress is brown with whitish or drab underparts; but in autumn this is replaced by a coat of long, pure white hair beneath which is an undercoat of fine wool. A small proportion, however, are never either white or dark brown, but are slate gray all the year round. In some rather southerly places the "blues" prevail, forming a local race. Such is the case in Greenland, Iceland, and the Aleutian Islands, where blue foxes are now carefully preserved and cared for in a semi-domestic condition for the sake of their valuable fur. Several small kinds of foxes occur in Asia, and in India one affords some sport with hounds. The prettiest of all are the little sand-colored, big-eared "fennecs" of the deserts of northern Africa and Arabia. No foxes tame well, nor do any of them cross with dogs as wolves and jackals constantly do, and apparently no fox blood has entered into the composition of the domestic dog.