The custom existed till lately on the Continent of having combats between wild animals and dogs, although they were very different from the spectacles exhibited in the days of ancient Rome.

It had been arranged that a battle should take place between a lion and four large bull-dogs. The lion, released from his den, stood looking round him in the arena, when the dogs were let loose. Three of them, however, turned tail, one alone having the courage to attack him. The lion, crouching down as the dog approached, stretched him motionless with one stroke of his paw; then drawing the animal towards him, almost concealed him with his huge fore-paws. It was believed that the dog was dead. In a short time, however, it began to move, and was allowed by the lion to struggle up on to its feet; but when the dog attempted to run away, the lion, with two bounds, reached it, showing it how completely it was in his power.

Pity, or it may have been contempt, now seemed to move the heart of the generous lion. He stepped back a few paces, and allowed the dog to escape through the door opened for the purpose, while the spectators uttered loud shouts of applause.