Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

in their old age, transmuted by legislative magic into apprentices. This species, which is termed the Cacajao,* is hardly more than a foot long. It is voracious, weak, very lazy, mild, easily frightened, and lives in troops in the forests.

In Callithrix and Aotes, the carnivorous propensity and character are, as we have seen, joined to the general habits of the monkey; and we proceed to finish this imperfect sketch of the American Simiada, by calling the reader's attention to forms distinguished by a union of that character and propensity with squirrel-like' manners. Such are the genera Hapales and Midas. To the latter belong the pretty diminutive Marikina or Silky Monkeyt and the Leoncito before alluded to. These, though their way

of life is but little ascertained, are supposed hardly ever to quit the trees.

Of the debonnaire Ouistiti or Sanglain | much more is known. This small delicate creature, with its rich pale grey coat, and pale greyish white ear tufts, like the ailes de pigeon of the old beau of other days, feeds in its native woods not only on fruits, roots, and seeds, but also indulges occasionally in insects and little birds. In captivity the Sanglains are great pets, and Edwards relates a curious instance of the craving for something that possessed life breaking out in one that was the favourite of a lady. Once, when he was let loose, he snatched a gold fish from its “ watery glass,” and instantly killed and devoured it. The lady, upon this, made him a present of some live eels, and, as the little fellow was not more than eight inches long without his tail, these lively gifts frightened him at first a good deal by twisting round his neck when he seized them. His carnivorous nature, however, prevailed, and, without a well sanded hand, he soon mastered and ate them.

M. F. Cuvier had an opportunity of observing their domestic arrangements in a conjugal state. He had a pair who were blest with three young ones; but it seems to have been the Lady Sanglain's first accouchement, and she had no experienced female friend to direct her : so after regarding her interesting progeny, she proceeded to bite off the head of one of them; the other two in the mean time took to the breast, and the moment the mother felt them she was all affection. The papa was even more affectionate than the mamma, and assiduously assisted in the nursery. The favourite position of the young ones was upon the back or bosom of the mother; and, when she was tired of nursing, she would come up to her mate with a shrill cry, which said as plainly

* Pithecia melanocephala.

of Midas rosalia. Hapales Iacchus, Illiger. Iacchus vulgaris, Geoffroy.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

as cry could speak, “Here! do take the children.” He, like a good natured father, immediately stretched forth his hands and placed his offspring upon his back or under his body, where they held on while he carried them about, till they became restless for want of that which he could not give them; and then he handed them back to his partner, who, after satisfying their hunger, again turned them over to their papa.

Cuvier seems to think that their intelligence is inferior to that of many of the smaller monkeys. That their attachment to each other is sometimes great, the following anecdote, related by a lady who kept a couple of them, and who could never tell the story unmoved, will prove.

These playful Sanglains had not, indeed, any family, but they were very happy and were all in all to each other. One of them, unfortunately, died. The other seemed to be unwilling to believe the change that had taken place, and continued to caress the body until it became absolutely necessary to remove it. Everything was done to console the survivor that its fond and distressed mistress could think of; but, as soon as its mate was taken away, the poor widowed Sanglain pressed its little hands to its eyes, refused to be comforted, and remained pining in that attitude till death relieved it from its sufferings.

APES AND MONKEYS OF THE OLD CONTINENT.

“ Almost a man in size and look.”.

GAY'S FABLES.

VOLTAIRE's Vieux Solitaire, speaking of those lofty systematists, " qui ont créé l'univers avec leur plume”- they are not altogether extinct in our day-notices two zoological theories.

One of these taught that the mountains and man were produced by the waters of the sea. At first, it seems, there were charming marine men, who afterwards became amphibious, and then their fascinating forked tail (how the conservative belles of those days must have deplored the change) became transformed into the lower extremities, on which the great biped has walked ever since. The age of King Saleh, and of his daughter Queen Gulnare, evidently formed an epoch in this transition.

The second “ Treatise” demonstrated that the race of men were bastard slips of a tribe of baboons.

The controversy seems to have waxed as warm as that between the Big-endians and the Little-endians; but the worthy Solitaire appears to have been daring enough to entertain doubts of the correctness of both genealogies, and does not show any very marked preference for either of these systems : J'aimai,says his manuscript, autant descendre d'un poisson que d'un singe.

And yet there have not been wanting philosophers, as we have seen, to advocate the cause of the latter pedigree, which is involved in the theory of gradual development. Notwithstanding, however, the different phases which Tiedemann and others have clearly shown to take place in the formation of the human brain before birth, ascending, as they do, from the structure of that organ in the lower animals to that of fishes, reptiles, birds, and mammiferous quadrupeds, till, during the last period of gestation it receives the finish which distinguishes the encephalon of man; and notwithstanding the occasional difficulties presented by that respectable, persevering, and omnipresent sub-family, the Bores, most of whom afford grounds to the credulous for suspecting that they have not succeeded in entirely rubbing off their excrescences—we eschew the fallacy. At the same time, feeling bound to pay all proper respect to those who are interested in maintaining the doctrine of Monboddo and others, both French and British, we beg leave to commence our sketch with those old world monkeys whose tails still flourish in all their pendulosity and perfection.

The Guenons form a very large group. Robed in bright and beautiful furs, and often light and graceful in their proportions, they still vary greatly in size and shape. Many of them are gifted with a most bounding agility, which carries them from bough to bough, in their African and Asiatic forest-homes, with nearly the velocity of a bird. When, unhappily for them, they are captured, they prove amiable in disposition, very playful, but not malignant nor mischievous; and, with due submission to the late all accomplished Mr. Astley, tailed though they be, they are distinguished for the facility with which they learn tricks, and the address with which they perform them.

The Entellus Monkey,* widely spread as it is over the continent of India and its islands, is but little known to those who frequent our menageries : for, in the first place, the species is held in great respect by the natives; and, in the next, the captives generally pine and die soon after their arrival in Europe. There was one in our Zoological Garden in the Regent's Park, and another at Paris; but neither of them long survived their arrival; and Thunberg's specimen died from cold in the delicious climate of the Cape of Good Hope. The accounts given by the last-mentioned author and Wolff are very amusing; but they appear to have been embellished by a very vivid fancy. There seems, however, to be no doubt that these worshipful monkeys have acuteness enough to take advantage of the veneration in which they are held, and to make the unfortunate husbandman pay a ruinous tribute to their sanctity. When the fruits of the well-tilled earth are ripe and ready to be gathered in, down from the forests come overwhelming bands, confident in their sacred character, and make spoil of the harvest before the eyes of the cultivator. There he stands, on the spot now rich with the produce of his labours, vainly endeavouring to scare away with loud cries these swarms of relentless foragers, who quickly consume everything. He sees his luscious figs, his refreshing cocoa-nuts, his choice apples, and mellow pears, disappear at this féte champêtre; nor do even his

* Semnopithecus Entellus.

cabbages and potatoes escape the appetite of his self-invited and unwelcome guests.

Dr. Horsfield, who notices the domestication of another species of monkey by the Javanese, and its association with the horse, remarks, that in every stable, from that of a prince to that of a mantry or chief of a village, one is to be found; but he never saw the Budeng,* the poor Negro Monkey, thus comfortably situated. On the contrary, this unfortunate species, which possesses a jet black fur, with long silvery hairs, much prized, both by natives and Europeans, for their riding equipages and military decorations, is cruelly attacked with cudgels and stones wherever it is found, and slaughtered in great numbers. Associated in large troops on the trees of the extensive forests of Java—as many as fifty are often found together—the proscribed Budengs, at the sight of their deadly enemy, man, lift up their voices in loud screams and wailings. A violent bustle and commotion ensues, and branches of decaying trees, detached by their movements, are not unfrequently precipitated on the heads of those spectators who have, imprudently, not been satisfied with observing them at a distance.

The genera Cercopithecus and Cercocebus form the section of the true Guenons. Of the former genus, which is short in the muzzle, and has a facial angle extending fifty degrees, a round head, slightly flattened in front, and a flat nose, the Diana Monkeyt and the Mona afford perhaps the most pleasing examples. It is, indeed, rather hard upon the Queen of the silver bow, that she should be degraded to the likeness of an African tailed Quadrumane; but we suppose that the white crescent on the monkey's brow was irresistible to M. Geoffroy. “ Mona” is a term applied to all long-tailed monkeys, with certain modifications, by the Moors of North Africa, and is, most probably, of Arabian origin; but the individuals of the pretty species which M. Geoffroy names Cercopithecus Mona, appear to differ much in disposition, though the general character of the species is considered to be gentle and playful. M. F. Cuvier's Mona was the most amiable of monkeys, and its sweetness of temper, which grew with its growth, and was developed under his own eye, remained unimpaired by age. It was, to be sure, a most expert and noiseless thief; and, being suffered to roam at will, would open a chest or drawer by turning the key in the lock, untie knots, undo the rings of a chain, and pick pockets with admirable dexterity. This last accomplishment was its favourite pastime;

* Semnopithecus Maurus.

+ Cercopithecus Diana.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »