The donkey is called stupid: so that “donkey”, or “ass” means a fool.
Often badly treated.
One reason, the donkey’s patience.
Another, it’s obstinacy.
Used for carrying loads.
Once honored in Egypt and Persia.
The poor donkey is a very badly treated animal. People think it is stupid, and so despise it. In fact, when we want to say that a man is a fool, we call him a donkey or an ass. Yet the donkey is not as stupid as it looks. It may not be as clever as the dog, or even the horse, but it is not a fool. Anyway, it can do very well the humble work that men want from it.
Donkeys are not only called stupid and despised, but they are often cruelly treated. Their masters often keep them half-starved; they beat them with big sticks and knock them dreadfully. Of course, all men are not cruel like this, but many are, as the poor donkeys know to their cost.
One reason why some men treat donkeys badly is that they are very patient animals. A donkey patiently plods along the road carrying a heavy load; and when its driver beats it and abuses it, it makes it all very quietly and meekly. This simply shows that the men who treat donkeys cruelly are cowards They would not treat a spirited horse or a vicious mule like that: for they know the horse might kick them or run away: and the mule would bite. But they take advantage of the poor donkey’s patience and bully it without mercy.
Another reason is that a donkey is an obstinate animal. It does not make much fuss, but quietly and obstinately tries to get its own way. And sometimes there is no way of making it do what you want but by beating it.
Donkeys are useful animals. They are used mostly for carrying loads of earth, bricks, pots, and pans, etc. These things are carried on their backs in baskets, one on each side, called panniers.
In some countries, like Egypt and Persia, the donkey used to be honored; and sheiks and chiefs would think it fine to ride in the state on white asses.