페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

approached the perpendicular precipice which rises from the Alameda. One of the soldiers was able to check his course, but the other passed over the fearful steep, and fell a mangled and lifeless corpse on the walk of the Alameda." This accident was looked on as a just punishment for daring to meddle with the harmless natives of the Rock. This monkey is the Barbary ape (Simia inuus); in a state of captivity it appears to be far more tractable than any other of the monkey tribe, and next to the green monkey, has the misfortune to be selected as the frequent companion of the strolling musician. In captivity, it eats fruits, bread, and boiled vegetables, particularly carrots and potatoes; from its natural love of society, it soon attaches itself to any little animal placed in its company, and, indeed, will fly for refuge to the back of the unhappy dog who may be its partner in the wandering life, without freedom, that they are both compelled to lead. In India they are said to be fierce and mischievous, and that they sometimes assemble, in vast troops, on the open plains, attack the market women, and steal their provisions, storing them away in their pouches. They appear, like others of their race, to enjoy the fruits of theft more than the finest fruit that may fall honestly in their way; and the wandering showman, who pointed out the Barbary ape as "a creature that lived upon its neighbour's victuals," was not so much in error in this, as in some other points connected with Natural History. When this animal stands upright, its height is usually between three and four feet. A troop of them, therefore, must be rather a formidable party to encounter. M. Tavernier was travelling in India, with the English president, when they came on a party of apes, who were in the trees around them. The president ordered his carriage to stop, and desired M. Tavernier to shoot one of them; and, notwithstanding the earnest entreaties of the native attendants, who were well acquainted with the habits of these animals, he killed one. In an instant, all the remaining apes, to the number of sixty or upwards, descended in a fury, and as many as could leaped on the coach of the president, and indeed would have strangled the incautious travellers, had not the blinds been immediately closed, and the number of attendants so great as to drive them off. They, however, continued to run after the servants for at least three miles from the place where their companion was slain. The pigmy ape (S. Syhanus) also lives in great troops, and thus often go, in a large body, on marauding expeditions, committing immense damage to gardens, plantations, and corn-fields. The injury these creatures do to corn and fruit is incalculable; they speedily tear up and destroy a whole corn-field, leaving large quantities scattered on the ground. Previously to commencing their plunder, they station one of their party on a neighbouring rock or tree. This animal acts as a sentinel, and if any interruption is likely, gives a loud shriek. The whole troop then scamper off, and climb the trees, carrying away with them whatever they may happen to have seized. If the alarm continues, and the country is well wooded, they pursue their route, leaping from tree to tree, all the way to the mountains. During their flight, the females are often burdened with young ones clinging to their backs; and yet, in spite of this incumbrance, they are able to leap to vast distances.

However active the monkeys of our menageries may appear, we can form no idea of their real agility in their native forests. The difference between the same animal under confinement, and when enjoying its native liberty, is perhaps more striking in this species than in almost any other animal known. "A gentleman at Limehouse has three monkeys in a state of remarkable freedom; they are occasionally let loose in an orchard in which there are some high and spreading elms. Here their gambols are truly diverting. They will pursue each other to the top of the highest branch, where they sit fearlessly chattering; and in an instant throw themselves down with unerring aim some twenty feet, and resting upon the bough which they had selected to leap at, would swing to and fro with manifest delight."*

Monkeys in former years used to be the favourite pet of the drawing-room; and even nowthe marmozet (8. Jacchus), one of the most elegant, is much • Knight's Menagerie.

valued by the ladies. This little creature bears a great resemblance to the squirrel; for though much smaller, and the head not squirrel-like, the fur is soft and full, and the tail long and bushy. The animal also, in eating, assumes a posture very similar to that of the squirrel, crouching and holding its food in the little fore-paws. Mr. Edwards in his " Gleanings," speaking of a marmozet, says that "it fed upon various articles of diet, as biscuits, fruit, pulse, insects, and snails; and that being one day at liberty it darted upon a little gold fish which was in a bowl, killed, and gradually devoured it. After this, small eels were offered to it, which at first, by twisting round its neck, alarmed the animal; it soon, however, overcame and eat them."

One that was brought to England in 1832 must have been a welcome passenger on board, for it appears to have chiefly lived on the cockroaches, frequently eating twenty of the large ones, which were from two to two and a half inches long, and a great number of the little ones, in a day. He carefully removed the head and legs of the largest,

« 이전계속 »