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The monkey bears a greater resemblance to the human species than any other animal, and has been always, on that account, an object of interest to some, and of dislike to others. Whatever general resemblance, however, he may bear to man, in one point it fails; for he is incapable of walking erect on his hind legs without great difficulty and uneasiness. Monkeys are designed to live in forests, and among craggy precipices, and to swing themselves, in place of other motion, from branch to branch, tree to tree, and rock to rock, by their arms, which are not only fashioned like those of man, having thumbs, and possessing the power of grasping, but the hind feet are hands also. Among those monkeys who have the longest tails the thumb in many of them is extremely small. the hand more like a squirrel's claw, the prehensile tail giving it the power of clinging firmly to branches, or to any object round which they may choose to twist it. Some, as the orangotan, chimpanzee, and the baboon, are without tails; their fore arms are extremely long, they are dexterous climbers; and the baboon, although equally alert and active among the branches of a tree, will scamper along the ground on all fours like a dog. "Monkeys, commonly so called," says Waterton, "may be classed into three grand divisions: namely, the ape, which has no tail whatever, the baboon, which has only a short tail, and the monkey, which has a long tail. There are no apes and no baboons as yet discovered in the New World. Its monkeys may be very well and very briefly ranged under two heads: namely, those with hairy and bushy tails, and those whose tails are bare of hair underneath, about six inches from the extremity. Those with hairy and bushy tails climb like the squirrel, and make no use of the tail in going from branch to branch." In their natural state monkeys live on insects, fruits, and roots, and by naturalists are divided into two families: those found in the Old World, and those in America. There are a considerable number of species; such as the orang-otan, chimpanzee, gibbons, baboons, and monkeys proper. These last are perhaps the most familiar to us, and their playful cunning and amusing tricks secure them many friends among those who can overlook their occasionally unpleasant habits. The baboons are larger than the monkeys; their heads much resemble that of the dog, they have a pouch like most others of the tribe in each cheek, but it is of larger size. The gibbons are also generally larger than monkeys. The orang-otan and chimpanzee make the nearest approach to the stature and form of man. Specimens of the former have been found five feet and a half high, and of sufficient strength to lift a full-grown man. The chimpanzee is said to be sometimes found six feet high. This is an inhabitant of Africa, while the orang-otan is found in eastern India. The chimpanzee is covered with black hair; the orang-otan with reddish brown. Hence they are called the black and red orang-otan.
When the British embassy was on its return from China, in 1817, a specimen of the red orangotan was obtained at Borneo, and brought to England. Dr. Abel, a physician who attended the embassy, has given a particularly accurate and faithful description of the creature. It appears to have been a young one, as it was but two feet seven inches in height. "After some vain attempt to keep him in confinement, he was allowed the range of the ship, and the sailors often chased him about the rigging. On first starting he would endeavour to elude them by an increase of speed, but when this failed, he would seize a rope and swing himself out of their reach. The men would often shake the ropes to which he clung, with so much violence, as to make it appear as if his fall was inevitable; but the power of his muscles could not be thus easily overcome. He commonly slept at the masthead, after wrapping himself in a sail. In making his bed he carefully removed everything out of the way that might render the surface uneasy to him; he then spread out the sail, and lying upon his back, drew it over his body. If any one preoccupied his bed, and there was not sufficient room for him to lie down by the side of the intruder, he would try to pull the sail from under the unwelcome bedfellow. If all the sails happened to be set he would hunt about for some other covering, either stealing a blanket from a hammock, or a sailor's shirt, that happened to be drying. He suffered much from cold off the Cape of Good Hope, especially early in the morning, when he would descend from the mast shivering with cold, and jump into the arms of any of his friends for shelter. In Java his food was chiefly fruit, especially mangosteens, of which he was excessively fond. He also sucked eggs, and often employed himself in seeking them. On board ship his diet was varied; he ate all kinds of meat, both raw and cooked, was very fond of bread, but preferred fruits when he could get them to either. He drank both coffee and tea, would take wine, and exemplified his attachment to strong drink by stealing the captain's brandy bottle. When he arrived in London he preferred beer and milk to anything else, though he would still drink wine and spirits.