The Project Gutenberg eBook of The man among the monkeys; or, Ninety days in apeland

This ebook is for the use of anyone anywhere in the United States and most other parts of the world at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this ebook or online at If you are not located in the United States, you will have to check the laws of the country where you are located before using this eBook.

Title: The man among the monkeys; or, Ninety days in apeland

Author: Léon Gozlan

Illustrator: Gustave Doré

Release date: May 13, 2022 [eBook #68059]

Language: English

Original publication: United Kingdom: Ward, Lock and Tyler, 1873

Credits: The Online Distributed Proofreading Team at (This file was produced from images generously made available by The Internet Archive/Canadian Libraries)
















Origin of my family name of Marasquin.—Mistake in this respect on the part of my ambitious Grandfather.—My Ancestors’ profession honourable, but dangerous.—Mine the same.—A Tiger deprives me of my Father, whose Business I carry on.—My Fondness for Animals, and my skill in stuffing them.—The terrible Tricks which they play me.—The Malay Pirates more untamable than my Animals.—The English Stations founded to destroy them are devastated by Yellow Fever and something else.—Vice-Admiral Campbell visits my Menagerie.—The rare and curious Animals it contained.—Baboons and Chimpanzees.—Passions and rivalries.—An Ape as wicked as a Human Being.—My Mother perishes in the Flames.—I determine on a voyage to Oceania.—I charter a Chinese Junk, and find it manned by Pirates.—We encounter a fearful Tempest Page 9
We are Shipwrecked.—I alone escape.—I find myself on an unknown island.—A strange form appears to me and vanishes.—A deluge of Apes.—I am cudgelled with a rattan cane.—Am saved at length by my cravat.—I am parched with thirst.—I discover water.—Four thousand of us drink in company.—Ingenious way of procuring fruit from the top of a tall tree.—Two valets-de-chambre, such as are seldom seen in Europe.—I miraculously escape their care Page 27
I am attacked with delirium.—I set out on a journey of discovery in the dead of night.—I encounter a boa, and a bat with gigantic wings.—I reach the sea shore.—Simplicity of the oyster; acuteness of the Ape.—I hoist a signal, and then fall asleep from sheer exhaustion Page 44[vi]
I have a very agitated dream.—During my waking moments I unconsciously commit a murder.—At night time I encounter a strange apparition in the middle of the forest.—A great light illumines the air.—I advance towards it, buoyed up with hope.—It suddenly disappears.—The dawn discloses to me a most singular sight.—I witness the proceedings of a court-martial the members composing which have each four hands.—Disgraceful corruption of justice.—Ridiculous parody on the manners and institutions of the human race Page 52
The court-martial breaks up.—I secretly follow the members of it.—I distinguish some houses between the trees, and believe myself to be at last among my fellow-men.—My hopes are crushed by discovering the devastated condition of the settlement.—I meet with Saïmira and Mococo, the latter in captivity.—I recognise in the president of the court-martial one of my two baboons of Macao.—This discovery troubles me, the more so when I find that Karabouffi’s power is supreme.—Foreseeing the peril I should be in if recognised by him, I hide myself in a grotto.—I am visited by Saïmira.—Weariness becomes at length more intolerable than danger.—The light already seen reappears.—I leave my retreat in search of it Page 66
Finding a volcano.—New peril to which I am exposed.—The merchant is recognised by his old merchandise.—Three guttural cries.—The living garland.—It swings to and fro, and then performs a furious rotatory movement over the crater of a blazing volcano.—My thoughts at this moment.—I am flung to the ground, and swoon away.—On recovering, I am ushered into the presence of Karabouffi the First, whom I find transformed into a bird.—Monkey scribes and living telegraphic communication Page 73
Bell-ringing by the Monkeys.—Disorder in Monkey Villas.—Hungry, I discover stores.—His Majesty in a jar of quinces.—Scrambling for Nuts.—Monkeys tipsy.—Fear of their intoxicated revels.—Night falls as I am in the midst of a terrible uproar.—I discover candles and lucifer matches.—The Monkeys find them also.—Candle dance by the Apes Page 83
An energetic pianiste.—Vigorous dancers.—A bevy of quadrumanous beauties.—The parasol polka.—Amatory tomfooleries.—I am compelled to take part in a new musical air.—Am commanded to climb up a tall pole.—Am forced to jump through hoops, throw somersaults, and cut capers.—Am indebted to Saïmira for a respite Page 91[vii]
I barricade myself in.—I am besieged.—The verandah becomes a fort.—What I discover at the end of a forgotten room.—Lord Campbell’s journal.—What this journal says.—The Malay pirates and the Sultan of Sooloo.—Three hundred junks.—A formidable hunt.—Death of a mysterious and colossal mandrill.—Explanation of the white skeleton.—Torture of a man compelled to drink nothing but excellent old wine.—A poignard stuck in the sand.—The last fête at the station.—How it terminates.—End of an unfinished journal Page 102
A hundred bottles of champagne not worth a glass of water.—My clothes leave me.—I commence the combat.—Great fight of a man against an island full of apes.—The verandah about to fall.—It does not last any longer.—A skin saves me Page 118
Whence this enchanted skin comes.—I owe to it my life and the crown.—In what manner I govern.—I learn the fate of the English station Page 127
Royal happiness troubled by a rent.—I am more and more adored by my subjects.—A cloud in the sky.—Sinister preoccupation.—My kingdom for a pair of trousers!—Supreme joy of being an animal.—My happiness again troubled.—A fatal tear Page 137
Deliverance.—I see my native land again.—O Macao!—My immortality Page 144
Herr von Schlieffen and His Monkeys 153
The Professor and the Crocodile 175
Tree Life in General, and Monkeys in Particular 195
The Monkey amongst Men, or the House in Regent’s Park 247
Monkey Legends and Anecdotes 287



The Adventures of Polydorus Marasquin, the Man among the Monkeys Frontispiece
Clouds upon clouds of apes, of all forms, colours, and sizes, clambering up the trees, rolling themselves among the branches like squirrels, or taking possession of the ground about me 30
Quick as lightning, he seized the branch of cane which I had thrown on the ground, and before I had time to place myself in a posture of defence, showered blow after blow on my arms and legs 33
The banks of the lake were covered along their entire length by those very apes who had so pitilessly tormented, jeered at, and beaten me 36
While he was speaking, these unfortunate wretches trembled all over, from head to foot 63
They went to spend their honeymoon in an isolated spot which I had selected for them 130
After having dug a trench seven feet long, I interred myself with all possible precautions 132
Covered with my tattered and well-worn skin, but still holding sufficiently together for me to be taken for a mandrill 147
Bonnet and Macaque Monkeys 252
Rhesus Monkey and Young 253
Anubis Baboon 255
Wanderoo Monkey 255
Black-faced Spider Monkey 259
Squirrel 263
Squirrel Monkey, and Tee-Tee 263
Ring-tailed Lemur 266
The Aye-Aye 268




Origin of my family name of Marasquin.—Mistake in this respect on the part of my ambitious Grandfather.—My Ancestors’ profession honourable, but dangerous.—Mine the same.—A Tiger deprives me of my Father, whose Business I carry on.—My Fondness for Animals, and my skill in stuffing them.—The terrible Tricks which they play me.—The Malay Pirates more untamable than my Animals.—The English Stations founded to destroy them are devastated by Yellow Fever and something else.—Vice-Admiral Campbell visits my Menagerie.—The rare and curious Animals it contained.—Baboons and Chimpanzees.—Passions and rivalries.—An Ape as wicked as a Human Being.—My Mother perishes in the Flames.—I determine on a voyage to Oceania.—I charter a Chinese Junk, and find it manned by Pirates.—We encounter a fearful Tempest.

I was born at Macao, in China, and am descended from one of those brave adventurers who, under the leadership of the celebrated Vasco de Gama, boldly left Lisbon, towards the end of the fifteenth century, to conquer the Indies.

If I have good reason to congratulate myself on the accuracy of my pedigree, I have, nevertheless, no plausible grounds for believing that I am descended from one of those sons of noble families who were attached by the sole tie of glory to their illustrious chief. My grandfather, it is true,[10] used sometimes to say that our name of Marasquin was a corruption of Marascarenhas, one of the greatest of names among those adventurous Portuguese who followed Vasco de Gama from the banks of the Tagus to the end of Asia; but I have always had serious doubts upon this score.

Moreover, my worthy grandfather himself, Nicholas Marasquin, was to my knowledge never anything more than an industrious trader, established at Macao. My father, Juan Perez Marasquin, was pretty much the same. To him I owe this testimony—that the extent of his ambition, during a lifetime, too short, alas! to my great regret, was simply to pass for an honest man, a good Christian, and a loyal bird-fancier.

This, then, was his profession; I do not blush for it, although certain persons, through ignorance, or actuated by jealousy, have sought to reduce it to the level of a licensed dealer in game and poultry.

Even without descending so low as this, it would still be very unfair to regard the bird-fancier’s profession—which, by the way, became in later years my own—as restricted to the mere sale of birds, such as we know it ordinarily to be followed in Europe. My father possessed in his vast menagerie one of the finest collections of which the Portuguese Indies could boast, for it comprised not merely birds, but all kinds of rare and curious animals. Sumatra, Java, Borneo, New Guinea, were all represented there by specimens of some of the strangest and most exquisitely formed creatures which inhabit in their native state the almost impenetrable forests of the eastern hemisphere. The profession of naturalist, when exercised on this scale, is really a very lucrative one, for the taste of the European colonists, and the almost insane passion of the Chinese, for these interesting products of nature, are matters of notoriety.

To his trade in living animals my father added the art and mystery of stuffing them when dead, which was not the least[11] lucrative profession of the two. He had given me lessons in this learned and delicate art of restoring to defunct birds and quadrupeds not alone the precise forms but the very attitudes which they affected during lifetime. Thanks to the counsels of so excellent a demonstrator, I acquired a remarkable skill in taxidermy; and you will find further on, if you read through this account of my adventures, that I was indebted to this useful and beautiful science for my escape from the tragical end which at one period menaced me.

Our house had prospered for more than a century at Macao. My father, on succeeding to the collection, added considerably to it, and thanks to the intelligent care of the good, economical, and devoted woman he espoused, he managed to raise his establishment to the very highest position in that particular branch of industry in which he was engaged.

But if this business yields, as I have already said, such rich rewards, on the other hand it is attended not only with difficulties, but with perils as well, as I have had only too many opportunities of proving. It is carried on under conditions of which most people are ignorant. It is not sufficient for a dealer in animals to purchase a bargain, and then to sell it again at a profit. It is requisite that he should go the length of procuring in a wild state those rarer kinds of animals which, when obtained, are certain to realise a good price. Hence the indispensable necessity of being at once both merchant and hunter, or rather of being first of all hunter before becoming merchant.

My father used to go himself to hunt most of the animals in which he dealt—a laborious kind of occupation, which I, in my turn, learnt to follow, whilst accompanying him on his expeditions—sometimes to the coast of China—sometimes to the jungles of the Isle of Hainan, so prolific in wild animals—sometimes as far as Japan, in spite of the obstacles and perils of a navigation bravely undertaken in barques of slender construction, spite of the Malay pirates—those veritable[12] sharks, who swallow everything that crosses their path; and spite of the cruel punishments which used formerly to await those whom the Chinese and Japanese chanced to find trespassing on their sacred territories.

My father was in the habit of bringing back from those distant expeditions—and later I had the satisfaction of bringing back with him—panthers, tigers, boas, leopards, and, above all, innumerable varieties of apes. It was during one of our last hunting expeditions in the Island of Formosa that my father, assailed by a young tiger, which he was on the point of enveloping in a net so as to capture it alive, had half a shoulder and a portion of a thigh carried off by a blow of the brute’s paw. I had the gratification of defending him and protecting him from the further rage of the furious creature; and had, moreover, the satisfaction of carrying him back with me to Macao, though I had not the happiness of seeing him live. Badly tended by the doctors of the country, he languished for a couple of years with wounds which they did not know how to cicatrise, and died at length after undergoing the most frightful sufferings. Just before he drew his last breath in my arms, he begged of me not to continue in his profession. I promised him I would not; but as he had left me nothing else to live upon and to support my poor mother, and as, to speak frankly, I had no taste for any other kind of pursuit, I was compelled to break my promise. You will see from the tale which you are about to peruse the fearful punishment I brought upon myself by so doing.

I stuck, then, to my father’s business, and, in order to prove to the valuable connection acquired by long years of good and loyal management how anxious I was to carry it on with energy, I increased the number of my examples of rare animals, and sent afar experienced hunters charged to bring back with them, to the latitudes of the Indies, specimens hitherto unknown. Being satisfied by long experience that luxury dazzled the eye, and consequently attracted the[13] attention of buyers, I set to work to renovate the interior of my bazaar. Bronze and gilding were had recourse to, to relieve the too apparent simplicity of my cages. An English cleanliness reigned throughout all parts of the establishment, which, in the evening, I lighted up with gas, a dazzling novelty in those days for Macao.

Here I ought to mention a singular trait in my character. I was remarkably fond of animals at first, by reason of my benevolent organisation; afterwards, as a natural result of the unremitting study which I had been obliged to make of their forms, features, movements, customs, manners, instincts, passions, and intelligence; their sympathies and antipathies; their caprices, maladies, and affinity, more or less expressed with man, with a thousand other attributes essentially belonging to their nature, which is perhaps still more obscure and mysterious than our own.

I had pushed my observations so far on those particular beings with whom it is now-a-days maintained we have a certain affinity, that I could easily recognise among them those whose instinctive dispositions corresponded in a measure with our own, and who would have become, for example, barristers, if any such profession as that of the Bar existed amongst apes, for they were always gesticulating, haranguing, and arguing. I recognised again such as would have been doctors, among those who were continually occupying themselves with the physical condition of their fellows, examining their tongues, their throats, and the inside of their eyes; others who would certainly have become comedians, for they were perpetually making grimaces, and playing and dancing from morning to night; others again who would have made first-rate astronomers, for they invariably arranged themselves so as to have the sun always shining on the tips of their noses. I recognised, moreover, with a similar infallibility, those who possessed a taste for commerce, apes who made a point of collecting together all the fruit and corn which fell from the[14] negligent hands of their fellows, and of piling it up in a corner. In like manner I distinguished the misers, the spendthrifts, the madcaps, the bullies, the good fathers and mothers, the mothers given to flirting, and the incorrigibly bad sons; and particularly thieves of every shade, from the sharper moving in good society, who cheats at the card-table, to the more daring robber who takes to the highway. I should have said of the one, “Here is an ape who would loll in his carriage if he had only a white cravat;” of the other, that “he would be safe to be hung if he only happened to wear a coat.”

As apes are far more saleable animals when their natural talent for imitation is developed by the aid of education, I made a point of putting most of those in my collection through a course of instruction, the object of which was to render them more attractive and engaging in the eyes of intending purchasers. I taught them, for instance, to throw somersaults, to jump through hoops, to dance, to play the tambourine, to march, to fence, and to salute in approved military style. Many among them, I admit, were unwilling scholars, and chafed and fretted under the tuition they received; some so much so, indeed, that, as is commonly the case with members of the human family, they could only be persuaded to prosecute their studies by the lively fear of a little wholesome correction. All this, however, arose simply from their not knowing so well as I did what was really for their own advantage.

Spite of the many little tiffs which arose between us in our several capacities of master and scholars, I conceived, in my character of naturalist, painter, doctor, philosopher, and instructor, far more than in my character of merchant, a strong liking for my boarders. I succeeded, by my powers of penetration, in reading in their eyes their desires, wants, and thoughts, and almost ended by conversing with them. In this psychological study I should, without doubt, have attained[15] a height unknown to the most skilful naturalists of our grand European museums, if the fatal accident through which my poor father lost his life had not all at once put an end to my passion for animals. After this unfortunate calamity it was impossible for me not to see in each animal of my collection an accomplice of the tiger which had deprived my parent of existence. This antipathy, day by day growing stronger, caused me at first to neglect the brutes, and afterwards to punish them with far more severity than I had hitherto been accustomed to exhibit towards them. They soon perceived this, since animals have stronger instincts perhaps than men, and thereupon they repaid me with hatred and spite for the rigour with which I ordinarily treated them. They became wicked and vindictive; and I, on my part, became only the more inflexible. A struggle commenced between us, which was carried to a point when I was no longer able to rule them except by threats and red-hot bars of iron.

This was the result; if, in order to punish and to tame them, I no longer allowed any one among them to leave his cage, I was obliged from motives of prudence to refrain from entering any of their dens. On both sides there was a permanent state of anger and hostility, and I must say there was no end to the wicked tricks they played me. The last one they were guilty of was of so cruel, and indeed terrible a character, that if I were to pass it over in silence, the origin of my prodigious troubles would be rendered in a great measure unintelligible. One alone was guilty of this deed, though all were in a degree parties to it by reason of their undisguised animosity towards me.

Vice-Admiral Campbell, who at that time was commander of the English naval station in Oceania, was in the habit, every time he touched at Macao, of visiting my bazaar, and of making purchases for his aviaries and ship menageries of such things as parroquets, birds from the Island of Lugon, or tame tigers, which served to amuse him during his passage[16] from one island to another, and throughout the long anchorages he was occasionally compelled to make up some wearisome and disagreeable inlet.

I may here say a few words on the importance of the English stations in the Chinese and Australian seas. The object of these—which, by the way, is not always attained—is to protect the lives and properties of Europeans from the descents of Chinese and Malay pirates, a numerous and terrible race. These formidable sea-serpents, who are to Oceania what the Algerians were in former times to the Mediterranean, recognise no authority under heaven—neither that of the Emperor of China, backed by his mandarins; nor that of the sultans who reign over some few large islands, like Borneo and Mindanao; nor even that of the English and Dutch viceroys, representatives of powerful nations, it is true, but who find considerable difficulty in making their flags respected in these distant seas.

The Malay pirates may be said to brave everything, and to be everywhere. The archipelago of Sooloo, which contains no less than 160 islands, is entirely peopled by them. At an appointed time they will sail forth over the waters with a fleet of, perhaps, 500 junks, manned by 5,000 sailors, and lie in ambuscade for unsuspecting merchantmen. The booty which they secure they divide among themselves; and the prisoners whom they take are only set at liberty on the receipt of a considerable ransom: too frequently they are killed. These water-rats have sometimes pushed their audacity so far as to make descents in the very midst of such great centres of commerce as the islands of Sumatra and Java; and on one occasion they even dared to come and buy powder and ball at Macao. What is quite as remarkable, too, the merchants of this place did not hesitate a moment to sell them all the ammunition they required: in this respect reminding one of those mercenary Dutchmen who, when besieged by the Spaniards, made a practice each evening of selling to their adversaries—no[17] doubt at remunerative prices—the cannon-balls which they had fired against their town during the day. These pirates are apparently indestructible; they have lasted for centuries as it is, and they bid fair to last for centuries more.

It is to protect its subjects against the poisoned daggers of these swarming bandits that England, as I have mentioned above, is constantly sending forth ships to innumerable points on the sea-coast of China, and to the interminable shores scattered round about.

These vessels often remain for entire years in localities which are believed to be menaced with a visit from these formidable corsairs. It is then that the officers take up their quarters on shore, that tents are pitched, and houses even are constructed, where naval men can manage to lodge in something like comfort.

This particular kind of naval campaign is much dreaded by the English sailors, obliged to contend at the same time against tempests, pirates, and fevers of every kind and colour; and, above all, with the wearisomeness arising from the monotonous kind of life they are here forced to lead, and which may be described as the yellow fever of the mind.

Vice-Admiral Campbell, who commanded, as I have already said, at one of these stations, had hoisted his pennant on board Her Majesty’s steam frigate Halcyon.

The admiral was preparing to leave the roads of Macao on the very day that he came with all his staff—captains, lieutenants, commanders, and officers of every grade—to view my menagerie. Some of these gentlemen had brought their wives with them, whence I concluded that their stay at the station to which they were about to proceed would be an unusually long one.

Fortunately, I had received a short time previously some considerable additions to my stock of animals; and I can truly say that my establishment at this time was alike worthy of the attention of men of science and of amateurs. Besides[18] birds from every clime, which enriched my aviaries, I possessed gazelles from Egypt, bisons from Missouri, goats from Cashmere, ant-eaters, jaguars, leopards from Senegambia, otters, polar bears, black panthers, lynxes, moose-deer from Canada, rhinoceroses with one horn, llamas from Brazil, lions from Bengal, and a magnificent selection of tigers. But the cream of my collection was its endless variety of apes: waggish, wicked, shy, wild, grave, pensive, sinister, intellectual, stupid, melancholy, and grotesque. I had ourang-outangs, gibbons, baboons, papios, mandrills, wanderoos, monkeys, macaques, patas monkeys, malbroncks, mangabeys, lemurs, talapoins, cluks, and magots. Of all these apes, there were four that seemed to divide among themselves the curiosity of the large party at that moment assembled in my museum.

Firstly, there were two baboons of unequalled strength and ferocity—as large as men, as intelligent as men, and, I was about to add, as wicked as men. They made their cage shake again with their violent movements, they often turned it over even; and, in an excess of anger, would twist the iron bars through which they made a point of insulting every one that stopped to gaze at them, as though these stout metal rods were so many sticks of pliant wax. How was it that visitors generally were so pleased with them? Could it have been because they were so supremely wicked? I am half afraid that this was the reason.

The two other apes who divided the sympathies of the visitors with the big baboons were a male and female chimpanzee, both possessing youth, and, I may add, even grace. The male chimpanzee was gentle as a young girl, delicate, sensible, understanding everything, approaching as near the limits of intelligence as is permitted to a being deprived of the Divine light of reason. He was fond of children, played with them, and appeared to have a taste for music, since he invariably left off eating whenever he heard the sounds of an instrument.


With me he filled the office of a footman. At dinner he held the plates, and handed round the wine; he even ate at table when I invited him. The trifling marks of attention which I occasionally paid him made the other apes jealous, almost to frenzy.

With regard to his companion, who was likewise a young chimpanzee, she differed from most female apes, who are fond of ribbons, lace, and embroidered handkerchiefs, and appeared perfectly contented with her own natural grace and prettiness. She was never so happy as when some one gave her a beautiful flower, which she would either place behind her ear, or else regard with looks of melancholy for entire hours.

I had named my two baboons, the one Karabouffi the First, the other Karabouffi the Second; and I had given to the male chimpanzee the name of Mococo, and to the female that of Saïmira.

Mococo loved Saïmira very much; and it is quite certain that Saïmira on her part loved Mococo in return.

Karabouffi the First had also a hidden and terrible love for Saïmira. Nothing could exceed the black jealousy of this ferocious baboon. Whenever the two young chimpanzees, who enjoyed the liberty of perambulating the galleries of the museum, passed in front of his cage, his terrible claws became rigid as iron hooks, his eyes flashed forth angry and vindictive glances, as he curled up his blue lips, and gnashed his teeth. On these occasions terror reigned throughout the menagerie, and even the lions and tigers seemed lost in reflection.

There was not a single one of these animals that did not at times recall to me, point by point, the characters, desires, and passions of men. I became convinced with Buffon, who has written so many admirable pages on natural history, that if, instead of beating and ill-treating them and making them constantly suffer, we were only to study them, and take a real and active interest in such an occupation, we should penetrate an immense and unexplored world of ideas and sensations,[20] where as yet we can be hardly said to have placed our feet.

Vice-Admiral Campbell was so delighted with the grimaces, the tricks, the eccentricities, and I must also add the ferocity, of my boarders, that he immediately purchased an ape and a monkey. Whereupon every officer, out of deference to his superior, selected in like manner an ape and a monkey.

I confess I could not bring myself to part with Mococo and Saïmira, for it was necessary to sell both or to keep both; but Vice-Admiral Campbell’s lady wished so much to possess them, that I had no alternative except to resign them to her. I knew, moreover, that she would take as much care of them as I myself had been in the habit of; nevertheless, I asked her to promise me never to leave them in the power of their prime persecutor, Karabouffi the First. She gave me her word, and I abandoned my two young chimpanzees with confidence to her keeping. The poor things appeared even more afflicted than myself at our separation, for they embraced me like two children, and moistened my hands with their tears. Overcome by these marks of affection, I was on the point of taking them back again; but I recollected that I was a trader, and that a trader must sell the wares in which he deals: interest therefore had its way.

As all the gentlemen belonging to the station bought, as I think I have already said, my animals in pairs, it happened that, owing to my having an odd ape, one of the two baboons, Karabouffi the Second, was left on my hands. For want of a female to pair with him, he was condemned to remain in the menagerie, a circumstance which irritated him to that degree as to cause him to utter shrieks of rage on seeing his companions about to be taken away while he alone was to be left behind.

His companions in their turn, pitying the lot of their unfortunate comrade who remained a captive behind the iron bars, uttered the most plaintive cries, and sought to prevent[21] themselves from being conveyed on board the vessels which were to carry them to the distant station. It became necessary, therefore, to have recourse to the whip.

As may be supposed, all Macao was in commotion at the event. However, the law was strong, and the whole of the apes were eventually embarked.

It would be impossible to give an idea, either by the aid of language or of painting, of the dark and revengeful looks which the solitary baboon directed towards me when I re-entered the menagerie after his companions’ departure.

I question whether the most irritated and malignant of men, burning with feelings of suppressed hatred, ever condensed such unmistakable threats of vengeance into his eyes as I could read in those of the infuriated baboon. I saw there a positive hankering after blood, and that blood, moreover, my own.

Nearly a year had elapsed since this extensive sale of apes, on which I had, as the reader may suppose, realised enormous profits, when one night I woke up suffocated by a dense smoke which seemed to rise from the crevices in the floor of my room. This flooring, which was composed of very thin boards, extended above the menagerie. I found myself positively choking, and rose from my bed with infinite difficulty, and directed my steps towards the window, which I immediately flung open. Indeed, I opened every window and door so as not to perish of suffocation. But directly the air had penetrated into the apartment, it was no longer smoke that I had to contend with, but fire, which, running along the cracks of the floor, enveloped ere long the whole house in a blaze.

My first thought was to save my poor mother, but I was, alas! too late. The back part of the house, where her room was situated, was the first to be filled with smoke, and my poor mother must have been suffocated before she could call out for assistance. For myself, I was dragged from the room where I wished to die. My neighbours saved me, carried me[22] into the street, and placed me on a stone bench, from whence I saw my entire establishment consumed before my eyes. Through the broken door, through the open entrance of the bazaar, I was a witness of a spectacle which I shall never forget.

In the midst of the devouring flames, which were roasting my finest birds, and in which my superb tigers were writhing with fearful cries, nobody meanwhile daring to approach near enough to attempt to rescue them, the baboon, a lighted brand in each hand, danced, chuckled, grinned, and frisked about with a hideous kind of joy. His attitude, his impudent looks, indeed everything about his frightful expression, sufficiently proved him to be the author of the conflagration—he who, in the course of a long-meditated night of vengeance, had managed to procure some matches with which he had seen the keeper of an evening light up the bazaar; he who, breaking his chains and the bars of his cage, had first turned on the gas, and after allowing it to escape had then set light to it. Such was the supreme vengeance of this terrible baboon, Karabouffi the Second.

One of my neighbours shot him as he was dancing in the midst of the flames. But I was not the less ruined; I had not the less lost my excellent mother.

Under the weight of so many afflictions, and so much misery, I resolved to change my profession; remembering rather late my poor father’s admonition. For more than two years I traded in ivory, feathers, and furs; but not being versed in this kind of traffic, I made only moderate profits, and entertained no hope whatever of realising any very great ones in future. Moreover, this mode of life, less active than what I had been accustomed to, did not please me; my former pursuit was continually recalled to my mind by the enticing nature of my studies in natural history. I regretted it even for the dangers with which it was beset, and of which I have already spoken. At last, after a good deal of hesitation, I[23] determined to follow it again. I was still young; several thousand piastres were lying to my credit with M. Silvao, banker at Goa. I had the means of re-establishing my business; but it was necessary for me to undertake two or three journeys to the islands of Oceania, and join the great hunters of wild beasts and birds of prey, with whom I counted upon scouring the woods and swamps. It was a hardy and adventurous course to follow; still there was no other way of re-stocking my establishment at Macao. I hesitated for a time, I admit; but after awhile I took leave of my few relations and my numerous friends, and made the final preparations for my voyage. I ought not to omit to say that I had chartered a Chinese junk on my own account, and that I had it at my service for an entire year. My first destination was Australia, that immense island, as large as a continent, where I was certain, according to the accounts of travellers, to find some of the most varied and least known animals of creation.

I set sail on the 3rd of July, 1850, in the junk which I had chartered, and which did not make up for its great weight by any unusual strength. It was an old tub of a thing, none the better for its numerous voyages to Corea and Japan. Formerly it had been able to resist bad weather, but, for all that, it could only boast at the present time of somewhat shaky ribs and planks, scarcely to be relied on in rough weather, for anything that Master Ming-Ming, its very indulgent captain, might say.

My first point of debarkation being New Holland or Australia, we steered direct south on quitting Macao.

For eight days we were favoured by a wind which carried us straight in this direction. So we soon found ourselves in the midst of the archipelago of the Philippines, spite of the want of agreement prevailing among the crew, which was composed of eight Chinese, eight Malays, and eight Portuguese, three nations holding each other in the greatest possible aversion, detesting one another as much as the Genoese formerly[24] detested the Corsicans, and the Corsicans the Genoese, and settling all disputes by the arbitration of the knife.

While passing the Island of Mindanao, and at the moment of entering the Sea of Celebes, we sprung a leak, and as if to make up for the fine weather we had already enjoyed, the sky became overcast, and squalls began to blow from every point of the compass.

Throughout ten entire days we endeavoured to pass the Straits of Mindanao. The wind and currents, however, always drove us towards the west, and the greater the efforts which we made to resist this deviation from our course the more the leak in the junk increased.

To aggravate our position in the midst of a sea of itself sufficiently dangerous, the crew refused to work at pumping out the water which was gaining on us every hour. Chinese, Malays, and Portuguese alike refused to perform this task as being too laborious for them; laborious it may have been, but on it, nevertheless, the safety of all depended.

Captain Ming-Ming, I could only too plainly see, had no power whatever over his incongruous crew; I even suspected him of having formerly exercised the profession of pirate in company with the eight Malays, who placed him on a footing of such perfect equality as unmistakably indicated the bonds of an old and equivocal fraternity, and deprived him of any kind of authority over them. The discovery was not very assuring for me, who knew so well, as I have already explained, the utterly savage character of these untamable brigands. This revelation, I confess, startled me; I nevertheless dissembled my fears, but took the precaution of loading a couple of pistols, and placing one in each of my two side pockets.

The crew would not work at the pumps, and the water was continually rising in the hold. Not by any means such good sailors as the Chinese and Malays, the Portuguese portion of the crew became alarmed at the fate which evidently threatened us, and proposed to make for some port. This the[25] Malays and Chinese opposed, and their will carried the question, which only helped to confirm me in my suspicions of their former character, as they evidently did not wish to show themselves in any port which boasted of a regular police.

Moreover, what port should we make for? In the first place, where were we? Were we above or below the Equator? Were we sailing along the Strait of the Moluccas or of Macassar?

Master Ming-Ming, more learned in the art of smoking opium than in that of navigating a vessel, was not the man to have informed us. The sky was black, the wind blew our great bamboo sails into shreds, and the waves seemed as though they would engulf us.

When it was no longer possible to overcome the danger which had now become most imminent, this confused medley crew began one and all to change their minds. The instinct of preservation awoke within them when it was too late. They attempted to clear the water out of the junk; but the pumps would no longer act. Fear then took possession of these bandits, every one of whom, Malays, Portuguese, and Chinese, greedily sought land on the horizon, although the chance was that they would be hung as pirates as soon as they set foot on shore. During this anxious time I could do nothing beyond looking to the preservation from sea water of my good arms, my nets, and the various traps with which I had left Macao, in the hope of replenishing my menagerie. Alas! what was the use of all these precautions? Was I destined to escape myself from my present critical position?

On the twenty-eighth day of our voyage, there was no other course left us but to abandon ourselves to the discretion of the tempest. Master Ming-Ming therefore left the junk to itself. I don’t think, although I have seen many hurricanes on the coasts of Japan, whilst sailing with my father, that the winds and waves were ever so frightfully disturbed[26] as they were on this occasion. The old junk bounded on the crest of the sea like an elastic ball on the ground.

After three days passed between life and death, we perceived a point black as ink, standing out from the lurid sky on the horizon. The Malays, whose eyes have an infallible power of penetration, affirmed that it was land. We sped along with all the violence of a hurricane. The night having almost immediately supervened, we had not time to calculate if, when the light of day re-appeared, we should have reached or passed this wished-for land. And what a night it was for us, with neither sails, nor masts, nor rudder, with the wind blowing great guns, and the junk seeming as though it were splitting in pieces on every side!



We are Shipwrecked.—I alone escape.—I find myself on an unknown island.—A strange form appears to me and vanishes.—A deluge of Apes.—I am cudgelled with a rattan cane.—Am saved at length by my cravat.—I am parched with thirst.—I discover water.—Four thousand of us drink in company.—Ingenious way of procuring fruit from the top of a tall tree.—Two valets-de-chambre, such as are seldom seen in Europe.—I miraculously escape their care.

At last the day broke, and we saw land only a quarter of a mile distant. But this quarter of a mile was only a chain of shoals white with foam from the sea incessantly breaking over them. It was inevitable that ere many minutes elapsed poor crazy junk would break itself as the sea was doing on the rocks, covered with foam and bearded with patches of slimy sea-weed, which lay direct in our course. We had no time to reflect on the fate which awaited us. Two sudden and frightful concussions, two blows of the heel, to use sailor’s language, shattered the ribs of the poor junk, whose poop at the same time was carried away by a terrible sea, and with it five of the crew. We scarcely heard the cries which they uttered as they disappeared in the watery abyss.

The other sailors at once sought to possess themselves of the only boat we had, in order, if possible, to reach the land. They had, however, no sooner commenced lowering it than a frightful struggle arose as to who should occupy it. It would scarcely have held more than half-a-dozen persons, and there[28] were fifteen desperate men eager to fill it. Knives were drawn. A cutting of throats commenced; but the theatre of the struggle was about to disappear beneath the feet of conquerors and conquered alike.

Having kept clear of this desperate struggle for the possession of the boat, I caught sight at this moment of danger of one of those buoys fastened by a rope to the cable of the anchor, and which serves to mark the exact point where the anchor has been let go. I at once pull out my knife and cut the rope at a certain distance from the cable, and then seizing the buoy in both my arms, threw myself with it into the midst of the hissing waves. Engulfed an instant beneath the surge, on rising again to the surface, I turn my head to see what has become of my companions. They and the last remains of the junk have disappeared!

For three hours I fought with death. What agony I suffered! Every time I endeavoured to hook myself on as it were to the branches of coral which projected above the waves, I was driven back by the surf: and my gory hands let go of their painful support. My strength failed me; I had scarcely sufficient left to seize the rope attached to the buoy. I had lost all energy, and almost the desire for existence, when a last wave enveloped me, and carried me with my buoy to the bottom of the sea. I felt myself getting weaker and weaker, then I became cold, and recollect nothing more.

When I re-opened my eyes I found myself lying extended on a shore covered with sea-weed and marine plants. I fancied too that trees were not far distant. My astonishment was that of a person waking from a trance—I hadn’t strength enough to rise. The storm no longer raged. The sun, which appeared to my still weak sight to have attained a certain height in the heavens, spread a general glow around, and the sand grew warm beneath my touch. By degrees the sensation of life returned to me. I sought for myself, I asked[29] myself if it were really I, and whereabouts I was; I saw for certainty that there were trees—in fact a forest at some little distance off. My lethargy passed away like a fleeting cloud, and I endeavoured to rise and walk a few steps; but my legs bent under me. Nevertheless I held myself upright. The sun, which had risen still higher in the heavens, now shone down almost perpendicularly on the ground. The heat diffused throughout the air was so intense that I fell faint and exhausted at the foot of a palm-tree whose cool and refreshing shade served to revive me.

Gradually my eyes grew heavy, and I fell fast asleep. I do not know how long I remained plunged in this second and more refreshing lethargy; but when I awoke, I judged by the position of the sun that it was afternoon. From the degree of comfort which I felt, I concluded that I must have slept altogether something like eight hours. I can, however, say nothing positive on this score, my watch having stopped from the various shocks my whole body had received since the preceding evening.

In order to dissipate the heaviness which held possession of my senses after this prolonged sleep, I rose and took a few rapid steps straight before me. I had scarcely proceeded twenty yards in a direction immediately opposite to the sea, when I caught sight of something like a human form at the end of a long avenue of trees. Naturally enough, my first impression was that this must be some inhabitant of the island on which I had been cast by my unlucky shipwreck. I was already rejoicing at the discovery, though, I must confess, not without a certain amount of inquietude as to the possible nature of the companion whom fortune had sent me. I walked straight in the direction in which I had first seen him; but, to my intense surprise, after the lapse of five or six minutes, I failed in encountering him, or even in discovering what had become of him. Had my eyes deceived me? Had the numerous mirages of the sun assisted to produce[30] some kind of hallucination? I knew not how to explain the affair, which left upon me a certain disagreeable impression. Nevertheless I continued to walk on.

I had proceeded no very great distance, when all at once another view opened to my sight; and, to my intense satisfaction, I again saw the figure which I had observed a few minutes previously. Ah! how truly happy I felt at this second discovery! I could manage to distinguish him far more clearly than I had done before, although the distance between us was very much greater. I watched him with the utmost attention, and was surprised to find how excessively quick and lively all his movements were. He was continually disappearing and appearing again, passing as quick as lightning from one point to another. After a time I felt convinced that he had seen me, and that he was afraid. I thereupon advanced towards him with increased boldness, and had just arrived at the spot where I had last seen him, when something—indefinable at the first glance, a kind of hairy and sinewy form, uttering noisy, guttural, and savage cries, which were taken up and repeated by the many echoes around—suddenly descended from the top of a tree, almost at my very feet. It was an ape. With one bound he mounted the tree again, then sprang down, and ended by placing himself immediately in my path, as though to prevent me from proceeding.

This pretension on his part was not at all to my mind; I therefore broke off the first branch of a tree which I could manage to reach with my hand—it was, I believe, a small stick of cane—and threatened the animal with it. My action evidently displeased him. At a second cry, which he uttered as a call, judge of my consternation to see rushing from the four points of the compass, through the openings in the forest, clouds upon clouds of apes, of all forms, colours, and sizes, who in an instant, clambering up the trees, rolling themselves among the branches like squirrels, or taking possession of the[31] ground about me, proceeded to regard me with quick and menacing glances, and to overwhelm me with hissing cries, and gnashings of the teeth, so fierce, so noisy, so positively deafening, that I became quite dizzy and bewildered. I was compelled to clap my hands over my ears, so as not to lose all sense of consciousness in the midst of this infernal commotion. Nothing like it, I believe, had ever been heard before in the forests of Oceania.

Clouds upon clouds of apes, of all forms, colours, and sizes, clambering up the trees, rolling themselves among the branches like squirrels, or taking possession of the ground about me.—Page 30.

My Macao experience with regard to apes was not lost upon me at this supreme moment. In spite of my trouble, and of the danger with which I was menaced, I managed to recognise, without difficulty, the different kinds of apes in which I had formerly dealt. I noticed the duks, with their long tails, smooth faces, black feet, and red ears; the wanderoos, such troublesome fellows that they are obliged to be kept in iron cages; lowandos, with hairless flesh-coloured faces, and all the rest of their bodies as black as their noses, possessing long claws, and having on their heads large wigs of grisly, bushy, compact hair. I saw monkeys with purple faces, and with violet hands, trailing behind them tails terminating in white tufts of hair; capuchins, covered with a flowing down of a yellowish black tint, which serves them for a kind of hood; monas, with white bellies and wide open eyes surrounded with circles, black as their feet, hands, and wrists; then coaïtas, or spider monkeys, with tails that they can turn to much the same purposes as the elephant does his proboscis; then black-crested simpias; then ourang-outangs; then hundreds of mangabeys, monkeys with long tails, and known as apes of Madagascar. I recognised them by their naked eyelids, their striking whiteness, their long grey muzzles, and their eyebrows of coarse and bushy hair. In the same way I recognised the gloomy macaques, the turbulent pinches, the malbroncks, and the pig-tailed macaques, which gambolled, frolicked, danced, kicked, stamped, capered, and wheeled about on every side. Hundreds and hundreds more pressed[32] forward to catch sight of me, but they were too far off for me to distinguish them, as I had done those of whom I have just spoken.

Knowing by experience the thoroughly wicked nature of these animals when congregated together, I resolved to beat a retreat. I was, however, too late. On all sides of me were closely-packed ranks of apes, some of whom seemed possessed of such strength, that any attempt at flight would have been a grave imprudence on my part. I remained, therefore, perfectly still, but not without some little anxiety. Suddenly, all these apes which encircled me round about, commenced to sway to and fro, making at the same time the most hostile demonstrations, although I no longer held in my hand the unlucky cane branch, the original cause of their furious irritation. That I might bear with patience this opposition, which I was most anxious not to increase (thinking that if I were permitted to proceed towards the interior of the island, some inhabitant, friend or enemy, civilised or savage, might rescue me from these insulting occupants of the woods), I amused myself by recalling to mind the wearisomeness of the dull tints which overpower the traveller on his arrival in the first commercial, and the most densely-populated city in the world, that “province covered with houses” called London, the thousand custom-house officers—honourable persons enough, whom I should be very sorry to compare with apes, though they are also at times equally tyrannical—that one meets with on landing. I turned from one reminiscence of the kind to another, until I found myself recalling how on a particular day, on my arrival at Calcutta, the officers at the custom-house pierced with their iron gauge-rod a packet of twenty Cashmere shawls, which were completely spoiled; but on which, nevertheless, I was required to pay duty.

Quick as lightning, he seized the branch of cane which I had thrown on the ground, and before I had time to place myself in a posture of defence, showered blow after blow on my arms and legs.—Page 33.

After a time, finding the heat, striking on the open spot where I was standing, somewhat oppressive, I endeavoured, while the disposition of my guards seemed a trifle more to my[33] advantage, to take a few steps in advance. I was, in fact, frightfully hungry, and my lips were parched with thirst. No sooner, however, had I prepared to change my position than all these groups of importunate apes, gathering more closely around me, recommenced their cries and their menaces. They did more, they formed a square; and when they had taken up this strategical position, of which I occupied the centre, one of them, leaving the ranks, advanced towards me. Quick as lightning he seized the branch of cane which I had thrown on the ground; and, before I had time to place myself in a posture of defence, showered blow after blow on my arms and legs, my feet and hands, my face and head, and on my back and sides. These blows followed one another in such rapid succession that, not being able to run away, I commenced bounding about, jumping as though there were blazing coals beneath my feet.

I candidly confess that I suffered quite as much shame as pain. A vile ape was belabouring me, an abominable brute was taking upon himself to administer correction to me in broad daylight! Other miserable apes, witnesses of my moral degradation, were making grimaces and grinning at me, and showing their enjoyment by capering about. It was whilst I thus performed a part in a comedy before their eyes, and they furnished me an occasion of observing them more closely, that I was seized with a singular idea; but the trouble I was in prevented me from following it up. Ah! my position was indeed a painful one, to be thrashed by an ape before an assembly of apes! It is only animals who can introduce such a degree of refinement into cruelty. I know very well that at London, which has the reputation of being an extremely civilised city, people are ready to crush one another to death, when a criminal is hanged before the door of Newgate; and that in Paris, people pay equally dear for places to see a man executed; that it is the same at Brussels, Vienna, and Berlin—nevertheless, spite of the attractions which an execution[34] offers, we neither hang nor decapitate apes; and the right which these animals arrogated to themselves of cudgelling me, appeared to me to be founded neither in reason nor in justice. For the moment they were of course the stronger, and it was necessary that I should give in to them; and I did give in. But it was melancholy to feel that there appeared to be no end to this punishment; my tormentor never once relaxed his exertions, to take even a moment’s rest; but continued laying on his blows, as though he would never tire.

Certainly, with one of the two pistols which I had about me, and which I had been prudent enough not to part with, I could easily have shot the impudent beast through the head; but I remembered too well the accident which happened to a certain president of the French East India Company, to attempt any such thing. One day, when the celebrated French traveller Tavernier accompanied the president on an excursion through some great forest on the banks of the Ganges, the latter, being astounded at the immense number of apes which he saw, and which suddenly surrounded him just as they had surrounded me, stopped his carriage, and desired Tavernier to knock two or three of them over. The servants, knowing very well the vindictive dispositions of these animals, begged of the president not to meddle with them. He, however, insisted, and Tavernier fired, and killed a female with her young. At that very instant the other apes threw themselves, with cries of rage and despair, on the president’s carriage. They knocked over the coachman, the footmen, and the horses, and would have strangled his lordship—torn him to pieces, indeed—if the windows of the carriage had not been promptly closed, and the members of his suite had not engaged in a regular fight with their assailants, from whom they only escaped with an infinite deal of trouble.

The remembrance of the danger which menaced them[35] restrained me from discharging my weapon at the horrible animal, who still continued his blows, spite of my ill-concealed rage, and the efforts which I made to protect myself, Alas! I could do nothing. I was thrashed by him till the blood flowed from me and saturated my garments. I should have assuredly sunk under the constant succession of blows meted out to me, since the cunning and wickedness of these animals went so far as to induce them to volunteer to relieve my tormentor, when he at length felt fatigued with his exertions; yes, I should certainly have fallen a victim to their brutality, but for an idea, a really admirable idea, which occurred to me; but which, unfortunately, like all excellent ideas, came very late. The increased pain which I endured evidently freshened up my memory; and, all of a sudden, it struck me that I had heard of travellers, who found themselves in the same predicament as myself, escaping by means of a ruse, which ruse I resolved for my part at once to employ. I therefore proceeded to untie my cravat (a superb cravat, bought in Bengal the preceding year), and, unfolding it, threw it among the crowd of apes, who no sooner caught sight of my bright red neckerchief than they rushed forward in a body to seize it, with loud chatterings, and other signs of curiosity and delight. My tormentor followed the example of his fellows; and, whilst they disputed among themselves the possession of the spoil which I had resigned to them, I ran off, with all possible speed, towards the interior of the island, where I reckoned on meeting with some of the inhabitants, and certainly on procuring a little water, to quench my intolerable thirst. After a breathless run of five or six hundred yards I looked back, and had the satisfaction of finding that none of the apes were following me. For an entire hour I continued to run in this manner over a tract of soft sand, through groups of trees entwined together, and forming bright masses of foliage of various colours, and which by-and-by bowed down to the earth, indicating a hollow where I might possibly find[36] water. I was thoroughly fatigued, I was in a burning heat. Was I about to discover the water I so ardently longed for?

On rounding a hill covered with a whitish green moss, I was suddenly struck by the sight of a lake upwards of a mile in length, bordered by tall trees, ranged in a series of terraces, as though they had been planted thus by a professor of landscape gardening. A slight descent, along the same soft silvery turf which I had just now passed over, conducted me to the brink of a clear, sparkling sheet of water. I knelt down to drink, and, placing my parched lips in it, my ecstasy was so complete that I prolonged it for nearly a quarter of an hour, partaking at intervals of draught after draught of the reviving delicacy.

My enjoyment was like a dream, it was so concentrated and so tranquil. But the cry which escaped me on raising my head, was not altogether one of gratitude towards Heaven, to whom I owed the delicious joy of having been enabled thus to refresh myself. Intense surprise had something to do with my exclamation.

The banks of the lake were covered along their entire length by those very apes who had so pitilessly tormented, jeered at, and beaten me.—Page 36.

The banks of the lake were covered along their entire extent by those very apes who had so pitilessly tormented, jeered at, and beaten me. They had all been kneeling just as I had knelt, had all risen at the same time as I had done, and there they were with their muzzles dripping with water. When I thought I had lost them, they had no doubt followed me in silence through the wood, by the aërial route of the tall branching trees, and on seeing me kneel down to drink had imitated all my actions. Although my limbs ached with fatigue, and I was sore from head to foot from the innumerable blows which I had received, and although I began to experience serious inquietude, on finding myself, since my shipwreck, in the midst of this constantly increasing crowd of apes, I could not restrain a burst of laughter on seeing with what burlesque fidelity they reproduced my most trifling gestures,[37] my most accidental attitudes, and even my involuntary movements. A new stupefaction took possession of me at finding my burst of laughter immediately echoed by thousands of similar cachinnations. Unable to control myself, I laugh my loudest, they, in their turn, laugh louder still. This comedy threatened never to come to an end. Terrified at the unaccustomed noise, the birds, hidden in their nests of moss, dispersed among the ferns, swarming through the network of creepers, or asleep under the leaves, the great, the small, the invisible birds—birds whose names are known only to the Creator, and of whose fantastic shapes and plumage the most comprehensive human language could scarcely give an idea—birds clad in brocade, like the ancient doges; others with triple embroidered collars, like the princesses of the middle ages; others, the plumage of whose tails flashed forth as many rays as the sun himself, rose, flapped their wings, and took to flight, streaking the sky in frightened curves at the universal thunder of laughter which rent the air. The apes themselves, accustomed as they were to similar commotions on the part of the feathered tribe, were, nevertheless, astonished at the strangeness and novelty of the sight. They stood up on their hind legs in order to enjoy it the more thoroughly. It was then that I remarked something which had before escaped my notice: many of my hairy persecutors wore a kind of narrow red collar, the meaning of which I could not at first possibly understand. A brief reflection, however, made everything clear to me. Each of these red collars was a fragment of the cravat which I had resigned to my tormentors, and which, true to their imitative instincts, they had tied under their chins; I never saw anything more comical than this piece of finery with which several of the apes were strangling themselves, in tying it so tightly that it could not come undone, or be stolen from them by their jealous comrades. These apes in their scarlet cravats presented a spectacle which, under circumstances more propitious to one’s personal security than[38] those in which I at present found myself, I should no doubt have enjoyed immensely.

I had managed to quench my thirst, but my hunger had not been appeased. Far from it in fact, since the satisfaction accorded to the one sense only rendered the other more imperious. My hunger had increased considerably during the last quarter of an hour, for I had noticed on the trees, by the brink of the lake, certain fruits of a bright golden colour, fruits delicious to behold, and no doubt more delicious still to the taste, but situated so high, that never man, even though he were a sailor of Java, could hope to reach and gather them. The trees were from 180 to 200 feet high, with no other branches shooting out from their tall stems except those which clustered together at the summit, with perfectly smooth barks, and offering not the slightest point of support for either hand or foot for three-fourths of their entire height. My eyes coveted this fruit, my stomach yearned for it; but how was I to obtain possession of it? After all manner of sterile calculations as to how this was to be accomplished, I decided to throw, with my utmost strength, a few sharp flints into one of the trees, in the hope of detaching some of the fruit from its stalk and bringing it to the ground. I knew that I was sufficiently adroit to hit the fruit at which I aimed, but for all that it did not break off as I anticipated. The flint, after striking it, bounded from branch to branch with a loud noise—the slightest thing, it must be remembered, produces a loud noise in these solitary isles, the silence of which has not yet been broken by the restless activity of man—encountering in its fall quantities of large leaves lightly joined to the branches of the tree by their juicy stalks. The apes, who had been intently watching all my movements, scarcely awaited the descent of the first stone, before they collected together all the flints they could, and flung them one after another at the topmast branches of the trees. The noise thus made sounded for all the world like the crackling of hail and grapeshot.[39] Delighted with their occupation, they formed as it were a chain, and passed the stones rapidly from hand to hand, so that those who preferred to throw might not be kept waiting. One hears of entire fields of maize being consumed in a few hours by voracious locusts coming from Lybia; here, in a few minutes, fruit, leaves, and branches were detached from the group of trees into the midst of which my flint had taken its useless flight. The banks of the lake were covered with them to such a degree, that I had only to stretch out my hand to grasp any quantity of the fruit which I was dying as it were to taste. The very instant that the apes, to whom I was indebted for this abundant harvest, saw me carry one of these fruits to my mouth, they imitated my example all along the line. A thousand arms were carried to a thousand mouths. The manœuvre was executed as though in obedience to a military command, and with all the precision of Prussian discipline. I raised my elbow—the elbows of the apes were simultaneously raised. I spat out a pip—the air was riddled with pips. The echoes of the lake repeated naught but the ludicrous snapping and clattering of jaws. In a few moments its surface was half hidden by masses of rind stripped from the fruits which I and the apes had devoured with burlesque unanimity.

Although I was now completely at the mercy of chance, and destined perhaps to escape one danger only to fall into another still greater, I nevertheless desired to free myself from the odious restraint in which I was held by this accursed assemblage. It was not without fear, moreover, that I saw the day draw in and the night approach. I had no desire to find myself, during the hours of darkness, beset by this legion of demons, whose capricious surprises are not restrained within the same limits which bound the human imagination. I had every hope that the next day might bring me in contact with some of the native population, since the island was evidently not a desert. If I could only penetrate some distance inland,[40] I should no doubt come across human habitations; but, meanwhile, it was necessary to pass through this dreaded night. In my feverish anxiety, increased by the intimate knowledge which I possessed of the cruel ways of these detestable animals, the idea occurred to me that, since they were so obstinately bent on exactly copying all my movements, the best thing to be done was for me to pretend to go to sleep. If I were clever enough to get them off to sleep by the mere force of imitation, I might so far profit by their lethargy as to escape from their surveillance and penetrate to the interior of the island. I was ignorant, it is true, of its extent and shape; but in a whole night’s journey I could certainly make sufficient way to put ten or twelve leagues between them and me. The idea appeared a good one, and I immediately proceeded to put it into execution.

I commenced by collecting several armsful of dry leaves, which I made a point of putting down with all the noise possible, so as to provoke the imitative attention of my guards. And, precisely as I thought, the entire troop immediately rushed forward, and with the most comical precipitation, proceeded to collect armsful of dry leaves, and spread them, as they had seen me do, like straw upon the ground. Delighted with this commencement, I afterwards heaped up a certain quantity of leaves at the foot of a tree where I had chosen a spot for my couch; they immediately did the same. Preparations for slumber being completed on both sides, I extended myself leisurely on my bed. This time my imitators did not move, which was of course a bad sign. There was evidently an unpleasant hitch in the development of the plan by means of which I had hoped that my tormentors would fall into my trap. With their feet buried in the leaves, with outstretched necks and muzzles turned towards me, and with eyes fixed steadily upon me, they followed eagerly the slightest movements of my body, but not one of them laid down as I had done. I began to think that they distrusted me; nevertheless,[41] I pursued my project so as to know for certain what I had to expect. I therefore stretched out my arms as a man does who is about to fall asleep; I gaped once or twice as wide as I possibly could, and at length closed my eyes. Of these three movements, they imitated only one; they gaped enough to dislocate their jaws, but that was all.

I had taken particular care to keep my eyelids lowered, whereas they kept their eyes completely open. I had even carried the pretence of sleep so far as to snore; nothing, however, came of it. Not a single ape, big or little, yellow, black, brown, or grey, fell into the snare.

At length something like a truce was arranged between us. It was at this moment that the idea, which had occurred to me during the thrashing which I had received, came into my mind again. I fancied I could distinguish among this crowd of apes, so attentive in watching my slightest movements, certain faces which were not entirely unknown to me. The first time this strange idea occurred to me I passed it by as the offspring of a troubled brain, but now I felt impressed by its reality.

For a quarter of an hour, and such quarters of hours are centuries, I acted this farce of sleep, and to my disgust discovered that I did not succeed in making a single dupe. All at once, when my eyes were scarcely half open, I perceived two of the biggest apes of the troop coming towards me. They did not approach me walking on all fours along the sand, but after the fashion in which they invariably move about in the wandering and vagabondising kind of life they lead in the woods, that is, by swinging from tree to tree, from branch to branch, and scarcely making more noise than a bird. Having arrived above my head, and God knows if I had them a single instant out of my sight, they slipped down without the slightest noise to the ground, and immediately moved with the same silent precautions, one to my right hand and the other to my left.


Having taken up their positions they remained perfectly immovable for several minutes.

I had to do with two hideous ourang-outangs whose prodigious strength and agility were shown by their short and compact bodies and sinewy limbs. I judged, from these characteristic signs, that they were capable of easily overcoming ten unarmed men. After having carefully observed me, in fact studied me, and one may say, surveyed me all over with a gravity at once droll and magisterial, as though to assure themselves that I was really asleep, one of the two ourang-outangs placed himself at my feet.

The ourang-outang on my right now commenced smelling me under the nose after the fashion in which deer sniff each other, then he examined my hair most attentively, evidently with intentions which my English habits of cleanliness rendered altogether unnecessary. The other ourang-outang having first of all pulled off my shoes, next amused himself with the ingeniousness of a child who wishes at any cost to discover how it is that his spring doll raises and lowers its arms, by bending my toes backwards and forwards, appearing perfectly astonished and somewhat indignant, that a man was as well formed as an ape. These two terrible valets-de-chambre bent upon bestowing their attentions on my person caused me the most frightful distress; for the ourang-outang at my feet, induced, no doubt, by his success with my shoes and stockings, next essayed to pull off my trousers. I would willingly have let him done so, but the ourang-outang at my head opposed him with all his strength, evidently desiring to relieve me of these garments in his own way; a way, I may observe, in which it is perfectly impossible for trousers to be removed. There were first of all some sinister tuggings, then the strife gradually became sullen and obstinate; and at last it was something terrible. I was conscious of this from the successive giving way of buttons, and from the stretching and cracking of the garments under the efforts of these two formidable[43] antagonists, whose field of battle would, in a few moments, most likely be my own body; which would become a prey to their remorseless instinct of destruction, and be torn to pieces by their long, sharp fangs and harpy-like claws.

My death seemed inevitable—I resolved to defend my life to the utmost of my power, and with this view gently slipped my hands into my pockets and drew forth my two pistols without arousing the slightest suspicion. As matters were progressing very fast, I forthwith pointed one of them towards the ourang-outang at my feet, and the other towards his companion at my head, hoping that if I were forced to fire I might succeed in killing both my persecutors, whose deaths would, as a matter of course, be immediately followed by my own. The fate which would await me after this double murder was certainly not doubtful. The two or three hundred apes who were present as spectators of this sight would certainly tear me into more pieces than they had torn my cravat. The fatal moment seems to be approaching! My nether garments give way—I place a finger on each trigger. When all at once a shriek is heard, such a shriek as only a locomotive with its breath of fire can send forth from its iron-bound breast; and which was prolonged from echo to echo like claps of thunder rolling down a valley.



I am attacked with delirium.—I set out on a journey of discovery in the dead of night.—I encounter a boa, and a bat with gigantic wings.—I reach the sea shore.—Simplicity of the oyster; acuteness of the Ape.—I hoist a signal, and then fall asleep from sheer exhaustion.

I open my eyes and perceive this crowd of apes all flying off, in the same direction, with the rapidity of a cannon-ball. Thousands upon thousands of tails streak the horizon. These at length disappear, and fainter and fainter grows that chattering noise with which they have sought to excite one another to triple their speed, till at last it sounds merely like a tingling in the ear when one is troubled with a rush of blood to the head. The air is pure, the earth has already recovered its serenity, as after the disappearance of some fetid mist; I spring to my feet, I breathe freely, I feel as though I were born again! But whence came this marvellous shriek? and what strange creature had given utterance to it? Was it a leopard wounded to death? Was it merely some amorous tiger? Was it a human being? No, it could not have been. And how came it, too, to be so generally comprehended? How was I to discover this? Of whom could I inquire? Silence and solitude had in the twinkling of an eye taken the place of the frightful tumult[45] and the savage and grotesque scenes of a few moments before, but did this shriek signal the fall of the curtain, or merely the conclusion of an act of the drama? Was it, in plain words, an end or only a momentary suspension—this spontaneous dispersion of all the monsters, who had left me as it were by a miracle? Night was approaching; in fact, it had already set in. What was I to do? What was to become of me in the midst of this scattered colony, among unknown hordes which my imagination pictured as only the more frightful, the longer they delayed to show themselves!

I might remain very well where I was till the next day, but had I not reason to fear the return of my enemies, who would reappear more determined than ever to torment me with their inexhaustible tricks, and more particularly so now that they knew how much my superior they were both in boldness and strength? On the other hand, where could I go without encountering the risk of being devoured by the thousands of wild animals which doubtless lay crouching, swollen with rage, within the shadow of these almost impenetrable jungles?

The waverings of my mind brought on a burning fever, which caused my brain to throb, like the booming of a large bell, or the roaring of the billows breaking upon a rocky shore, and made me fancy at times that I could hear sounds similar to those which come from great centres of population; such, indeed, as I had heard in the neighbourhood of Goa and Macao. Shipwrecked people, it is well known, have these singular hallucinations. They are like clocks which have been set wrong, and keep on going—the hands traversing the dial, but no longer marking the correct time—and which strike at hazard.

During the continuance of this delirium, a bright red streak all at once tinted the horizon, dividing it like a cut made with a knife in the rind of a pomegranate. Suddenly this crimson line appeared to be swollen at a particular point,[46] and a globe of fire rose majestically in the sky. It was the moon, which was nearly at the full. I believed that it was rising for me alone, so much calm did it seem to bring me, while enveloping me with its beautiful light. I took courage. My blood flowed more tranquilly through my veins. I reasoned on my situation with sequence and lucidity, and proved to myself that there was no serious reason for my remaining any longer in the place where I then was. My resolution was soon taken, and I proceeded to arm myself with the stoutest bamboo I could find on the border of the lake, to serve me for a defensive weapon in case of necessity. I then set about to determine whether this vast sheet of limpid water, which was spread before me, had, as was probably the case, some outlet through which it emptied itself into the sea. To be enlightened on this geographical problem was of the utmost importance to me.

Large sheets of water, although there are notable exceptions in Oceania, generally fall into the sea; if the lake therefore, on the banks of which I then was, had an important outlet, I was certain, by following the course of it step by step, to arrive at the sea. And as it is rarely the case that there are not certain spots on the banks of these streams where the native population, guided by the instinct of want, have raised their huts, I was equally certain to meet with these villages on my way. To discover this outlet I determined, if necessary, to make the circuit of the lake without deviating at all in my course, spite of the jungles which threatened to prevent me. After walking for about an hour a confused noise suddenly brought me to a standstill. I listened, then hastened in the direction whence the sound proceeded, and found it gradually growing more and more distinct, until at length I recognised the murmur of a considerable cascade. What I was in search of was evidently here. The waters of the lake fell into a second and lower basin which, growing narrower a little further on, became the[47] stream on which I had counted. I followed the course of this natural canal, but not without encountering strange difficulties by the way. It was not an easy thing, as one may well believe, to continue walking for any length of time along a bank composed of spongy vegetable remains, on which it was altogether impossible to place one’s feet without sinking up to the knees, and which was at times entirely hidden by a layer of fibrous shoots, creepers, bamboos, and mimosas interwoven and crossed one over another with so much tenacity that they formed a kind of archway, beneath which I was forced to pass by, crawling along on my hands and knees. It was in one of these dark tunnels, while placing my hands on the ground so as to draw myself along, that I seized hold of something round and slippery and cold as ice, whilst, at the same moment, a wing struck me in the face, producing a double sensation of horror. The cold, round, slippery thing was a serpent; the blow on my face was caused by a hideous bat with slimy wings three or four feet in breadth. I still shudder when I think of this frightful meeting.

For several hours I advanced thus towards an unknown goal, feeling more and more persuaded, as I proceeded, that the portion of the island already traversed by me, under the perilous conditions which I have just endeavoured to relate, was not inhabited, unless, indeed, it happened to contain other lakes and water-courses, a probability which was extremely doubtful, considering the small extent of the islands composing the group, in the centre of which I had been shipwrecked. I concluded, therefore, that no inhabitant of the island was likely to be met with at any considerable distance from this stream, along which, so far as I had traced its course, there were no signs of human habitations to be seen. I concluded, moreover, from a parity of reasoning, that the island did not contain many wild beasts, since, as is well known from the testimony of travellers and naturalists, they frequent by preference the muddy banks of rivers, where they are[48] certain to find, during the heat of the day, coolness, shade, and, above all, numerous prey for which they lie in wait, and, during the night, almost inaccessible retreats to which they can retire.

When I perceived above me the open sky, and some leagues of clear ground, both to my right hand and my left, the day was beginning to break. The violent exertion I had undergone, joined to the sudden freshness of the air, and the lightness of my yesterday’s repast, since fruit, however good and luscious it may be, is scarcely sufficiently satisfying to stomachs accustomed to the endless variety of food—the result of a high state of civilisation—had made me as ravenous as a tiger. I have never regretted so much as I then did, that Providence had not reserved to us, for seasons of difficulty, the means of living on grass and plants like animals of the herbivorous species, or endowed us like others with the faculty of seizing our prey. In the primitive ages of the world we were endowed perhaps with a less exclusive organisation; but, however this may have been, I was dying with hunger in the midst of a paradise of plants, ferns, and roots, which a horse or an ox would have considered the rarest of delicacies. Whilst I was absorbed in these reflections, it was gradually becoming lighter; objects began to stand out from the background of delicate violet, tinted with yellow, which is the forerunner of dawn in Oceania and southern China. A cool wind swept across the earth, the sharpness and tempering quality of which convinced me that it had already passed over the sea, which I would have wagered my existence was not far distant. Other signs confirmed me in my belief; the trees were neither so thick together nor so large; the heath, which was more stunted in its growth, was gradually becoming more scanty. When the sun showed itself above the horizon, I had only to exclaim, “There is the sea!” and I very soon did so.

The sea was scarcely two hundred yards from me when I[49] first caught sight of its tiny waves—the same waves that were yesterday so furious—whitening a complete bend of the shore. Supposing some degree of regularity in the form of the island, this bend would give it, according to my calculations, a circumference of thirty leagues. Moreover, admitting, what I was satisfied of from observation, that the journey I had made during the night was half the diameter of the entire island, that is, five leagues, which is the average size of the islands of this group. After having assured myself that the one half of the island was uninhabited along the banks of the stream which I had already traversed, I still entertained a hope that I might meet with a village on the sea-shore the inhabitants of which might possibly be fishermen, a common enough profession among the Malays; or they might perhaps do a little trade by means of barter, which is a much less common profession; or they might be pirates, a profession which is usually joined to all others in these savage regions.

I commenced my excursion along the sea-shore, in spite of the fatigue which I was suffering. I knew that I had no time to lose, since, if the sun once rose in the heavens, its intense heat would render all bodily exertion impossible in this torrid zone, for at least ten hours to come.

If for the first three miles I discovered no more traces of the island being inhabited than I had met with during the previous evening, I could scarcely doubt that my good friends the apes often visited this locality. I recognised them by these signs. Thousands of oysters were spread upon the beach; and at least two layers of these oysters had been opened—not naturally, but with the aid of a little stone placed between the two shells. Who had done this? Why, my apes, of course. It is well known that oysters are a precious luxury to the entire monkey tribe, who are obliged to be very cunning in procuring themselves this treat, which is not without its attendant dangers. How do you suppose they manage this? Why, by throwing a stone between the two[50] shells, at the precise moment that the oyster chances to gape; in this manner they are sure of their prey, without having to make an exhibition of themselves with their hands or their muzzles caught in the powerful grip of the oyster, who has the preservative faculty of closing his shell directly he is seized hold of.

As oysters furnish a far more substantial dish than any quantity of tropical fruit, and as my plundering and wasteful apes had opened more of these delicacies than they had consumed, I commenced my repast with a joyful heart. These bivalves were hardly equal to real Whitstable natives, or even to the oysters of Ostend; nevertheless, five or six dozen were rapidly devoured. A tankard of bitter ale would have been an acceptable accompaniment; but as this was not to be had, I was forced to content myself with bumpers of pure water, quaffed from the palm of my hand. My appetite was no sooner appeased than, contrary to what is usual under similar circumstances, my troubles of mind returned. Was I, I again asked myself, about to be brought face to face with the inhabitants of this island, either at the curve of some bay, or behind some projecting mass of rock? Filled with this hope—or rather, with this fear—I recommenced my explorations. But, after having ascended many creeks, many little gulfs, on the banks of which the banyans displayed their rich green foliage, I not only met with not a single inhabitant, neither black, brown, yellow, nor copper-coloured—but, during the long journey which I had performed, from five o’clock in the morning until noon, at which hour the burning heat poured down by the sun on my poor head forced me to halt, I had seen neither junk, nor canoe, nor any kind of implement, no fragments of articles in common use among beings of the slightest intelligence; in a word, no single trace of man.

As it was impossible to remain for any length of time, at this hour of the day, on this exposed coast, burnt up, as I was, by the sun, I deemed it prudent to proceed a short distance[51] inland. On leaving the shore, I gathered, some hundred yards off, a stick of bamboo, the straightest and tallest I could find; and, after having stripped it of its leaves, I fastened to the end of it one of the two white handkerchiefs which I had about me at the moment of abandoning the junk, and planted it firmly in the sand. If some vessel should perceive this signal—of which there was, I feared, but little chance, the island being surrounded on all sides by reefs—it would be advised of the presence of an unfortunate castaway, and would, perhaps, make an effort to take him off.

The rude blows of the day before, the extraordinary fatigues of the night, the mental troubles of all kinds which I had undergone during the past three days, rendered that sleep which I hastened to enjoy under the tamarind trees that grew between the sea and the more wooded part of the island, most welcome to me. My eyes closed with an unspeakable pleasure. My drowsiness resembled the calm of an aërial voyage. The sea-breeze passed in long gusts through my hair, after having swept over my body, and refreshed and revivified all my limbs. The mixture of the strong vegetable odours by which I was surrounded with the salt air of the sea, charged, as it was, with all the mysterious exhalations of the Indian Ocean, formed a perfume, at once so agreeable and so intoxicating, that I was conscious of its influence even in my sleep.

I must have slept for a long time, since the sun, which was at his zenith when I laid down, was precisely at the same point of the heavens when I awoke, so that I had slept for four-and-twenty hours. My awakening will never be effaced from my remembrance as long as I live, owing to a circumstance which I recollect with sorrow and regret, and with some degree of remorse.



I have a very agitated dream.—During my waking moments I unconsciously commit a murder.—At night time I encounter a strange apparition in the middle of the forest.—A great light illumines the air.—I advance towards it, buoyed up with hope.—It suddenly disappears.—The dawn discloses to me a most singular sight.—I witness the proceedings of a court-martial the members composing which have each four hands.—Disgraceful corruption of justice.—Ridiculous parody on the manners and institutions of the human race.

I had a dream during my sleep. In this dream I found myself in the midst of those same horrid apes from whom I had so miraculously escaped the day before. I was still in their power! Nothing seemed changed, neither the scene nor the actors. The lake lay spread before me; the trees rose up and waved upon its banks; the leaves and fruit, which had been broken off by the stones, covered the ground. My two redoubtable ourang-outangs had not left me; one was still at my feet, the other at my head. They continued those persecutions of which my unfortunate garments were the theatre. After having torn them in pieces through tugging at them and attempting to pull them off the wrong way, they had uncovered my breast; and, after a minute examination of my skin, directed their attention to my ribs, which they evidently wished to force apart so as to see what they inclosed. With the view of solving this problem each of them possessed[53] himself of a large stone, and made preparations to break me open, a proceeding to which they usually have recourse when they desire to devour the inside of a tortoise or cocoa-nut. Two large stones were already suspended over my breast; self-preservation before everything, thought I, and fired at one of the two ourang-outangs and killed him; I am about to fire at the other, when the noise of the first shot woke me up. On awakening, I find myself in a perfect rage, almost mad with anger, and with a pistol grasped in my hand. A group of apes are by my side; I point my pistol, touch the trigger, one of them is hit, and falls. May the Almighty, in His goodness, ever preserve me and mine from another night like this! The poor ape, who was no terrible ourang-outang like that of my dream, but a peaceful vervet, dragged himself bleeding to my feet. He was mortally wounded a little below the heart. Not wishing to prolong his sufferings, I seized him by the tail, and, swinging him round like a stone in a sling, dashed his head against a tree. The unfortunate vervet was still alive. With what a touching glance he appealed to me as he licked my hands, as though begging me not to put him to death, and prayed to me with low, plaintive cries which I can still hear! In order to put him the quicker out of his misery, I ran with him to the beach and plunged him into the sea till he was suffocated. During this time, which appeared to me as long as if I were undergoing the same tortures myself, his poor little eyes continued to follow mine; his dying looks were at once a reproach and a prayer. Were I to live a hundred years, this picture, in which suffering had elevated the instinct of the brute to the level of the cruel intelligence of man, would never be effaced from my memory. And these lines, which I have written with an aching heart, are some kind of punishment for my needless crime, for this poor ape had done no harm whatever to me.

Later I remembered what Buffon says of the vervet, “that it is one of the most lively and amusing of apes; is[54] scarcely as large as a cat; and has a brown body, with flesh-coloured face and ears. The vervets are fantastic in their tastes and affections, appearing to have a strong inclination for some persons and a great aversion to others.”

I was far more distressed at my cruel action, although I hardly need have been, since I had killed the vervet while I was still stupefied by sleep and under the influence of a dream. When I returned to the place whence I had fired the pistol, I was grieved to discover that the shot which had killed one vervet had, unfortunately, wounded another of the group into the midst of which I had so recklessly fired. All the other apes belonging to the same species had assembled round their wounded companion, and were placing their fingers in his wound, as though they wished to probe it. While some kept it open, others brought leaves which they chewed and gently placed in the wound itself. This last act upset all my preconceived ideas with regard to the intelligence of these animals, so badly treated, by some naturalists, who have confounded inferior kinds with species like those of the vervets, that almost approach our own, falling into the same error as that ignorant observer who placed in the same rank, under the pretext that they were both men, the cretin of the Alps and the admirably-organised inhabitant of Italy or Greece. Since this example of apes rendering one another mutual help in time of danger, and nursing one another with the aid of special remedies known only to themselves, has frequently come before my eyes, I have not hesitated to relate one instance of which I was an eye-witness, in the hope of making the reader share the surprise and interest which it awakened in me.

My poor apes at length retired, carrying with them their wounded companion, and leaving me one sorrow more to add to those which already oppressed me. I spent a miserable day, haunted by remorse for my crime. I could not banish from my mind the piteous expression of these poor[55] animals, and the mingled look of goodness, gentleness, suffering, and resignation imprinted in their features, so utterly distinct from those of other apes, from whom they appeared completely separated, not by the mere effect of chance, or by the boundary which the difference of genius had raised between them.

When night came on I had already left the actors and the theatre of these events far behind me. About midnight, on hearing, in a wood of mimosas, and seemingly quite close to me, an indefinable rustling, such as the dry husks of the bread-tree produce when driven about by the wind, I remembered all at once that I had forgotten to reload my pistols. Before proceeding another step I charged them with ball, and advanced cautiously towards the spot whence the noise appeared to proceed. I approached slowly on tiptoe, holding my breath, and with my heart beating violently, as I gently pushed aside the thorny branches of the mimosas, and raised them again with the same prudent caution. I stretched forth my neck, and by the light of the moon, which shone as brightly as on the preceding evening, I perceived a skeleton suspended from the branch of a tree—a skeleton, too, of huge size: its bones, which were white as ivory, stood out from the dark green leaves with a power of relief which added considerably to the terror of its aspect. As I watched it swinging to and fro in the wind, the sensation which I experienced was by no means an agreeable one, and a nervous shudder passed through my limbs. Eventually I reasoned with myself, and decided not to draw too sinister a conclusion from a circumstance which perhaps, after all, did not partake of that degree of atrocity that my imagination had hastily pictured.

I now walked boldly up to the skeleton, and sought to catch hold of its foot, but the foot proved to be a hand. The skeleton was evidently that of an ape—an ape, too, of the largest kind; in other words, a gigantic mandrill. Yes,[56] a mandrill—that enemy of the baboon with whom it shares the empire of ferocity and terror. I considered, from the size of the skeleton, that the ape to which it belonged must have surpassed, in size and strength, all known examples of this formidable species. But how came he to be suspended here, I asked myself? And why was it that his skin had been entirely removed? Not the least fragment of it was to be seen at the foot of the tree. Had he been flayed after being hung, and had his death then been stamped with all the forms of a degrading punishment?

As my reflections, under the shadow of this improvised gibbet, failed to produce any kind of solution of the above enigma, I hastened to leave the spot, pondering over in my mind as to the proportion of apes and men occupying this spot of earth in the midst of the sea. One will easily comprehend that my mind was constantly indulging in speculations—first of all as to the probability of the island being inhabited, and then as to the particular kind of people who dwelt therein.

Whilst I was asking myself these questions for the thousandth time, as I walked straight on without knowing whither I was going, it seemed to me that the light of the moon underwent, for some minutes, a notable diminution. What, thought I, could possibly be the cause of this? I raised my head. The moon’s disk was really clouded by a reddish mist, slightly tinted with grey. This mist was evidently not a cloud. Moreover, in so pure an atmosphere, a cloud, the sign of wind and tempest, would have passed over much higher in the sky. At one time it seemed so low that it occurred to me it was some exhalation from the lake, a vapour produced by the vast collections of vegetable remains accumulated on its margin. To put an end to my doubts on this score, I climbed up a tree, and there I discovered—victory and release from my enforced captivity—that it was the smoke from a fire burning in the interior of[57] the island. A fire! The island was undoubtedly inhabited, then—inhabited, too, by human beings, since man alone can procure himself fire, man alone knows how to use it, and man alone has need of it. I was then among beings of my own kind. I was saved—or perhaps lost! Nevertheless it was a fact that I was among members of the human family. Acting on this conviction, I thought it only prudent to slip a second bullet into each of my pistols.

Collecting together all my scattered faculties, I imposed upon them the task of guiding me in the direction in which I supposed this fire to be, and the object of which was now a source of some anxiety to me. Did it indicate one of those extraordinary conflagrations, in producing which the savages of Oceania have frequently no other motive beyond destroying, in a few hours, vast tracts of forests, that they may gratify themselves with a most sublime sight? Did it betray the presence of a band of pirates, arrived perhaps in the island during this very evening, and sharing their booty by the light of some immense fire which they had kindled in accordance with their prevailing habits of destruction? Did it indicate the chief settlement of the native population, who, during the hours of universal silence, were giving themselves up to certain wild rejoicings, or were engaged in consummating some nocturnal sacrifice under the mysterious light of the moon?

The hope that I was at length about to find myself among members of the human family was dimmed by the reflection that these men would certainly not be finished models of civilisation, for I was not ignorant of the fact that many islands of Oceania have been, since the creation of the world, and are likely to continue for a long time to come, nothing more than nests of cannibals. Cannibals, however, do not always eat people any more than serpents always sting them, so there was, at any rate, one chance in my favour out of something like a score of chances against me. Moreover, hope does not reason for itself like fear is apt to do.


Without stopping to admire the magnificence of the night, magnificent even to me, accustomed as I was to the incomparable nights of the southern hemisphere; without lending an ear to the different harmonies composed of notes of a character utterly unknown to me, since it must not be forgotten that every island of Oceania is a world apart, a complete universe in itself, often having its flowers, its plants, its birds, its reptiles, and its human occupants, different from the men, reptiles, birds, plants, and flowers of the island adjoining; without pausing to examine anything, no matter however strange or ravishing, I continued to advance in a straight line towards that part of the island where I thought the fire which I had seen from afar must be burning.

At the end of three long hours I discovered it was by no means so easy to arrive at this earnestly desired goal as I had pictured it. The surface of the island being more or less undulating, whenever I descended into a hollow, or had to cross some ravine which intercepted my path, I immediately lost sight of the radiant glow which served as a beacon. On several occasions I had to climb to the top of a tall tree before I could make certain that I was pursuing the right direction. Unfortunately the fire was not always maintained at the same degree of intensity, and there was one critical moment when, after climbing to the topmost branches of the tallest tree I could find, I could distinguish nothing but the merest spark. My most ardent prayers were that it might not become totally extinguished before the break of day, but my supplications were of no avail. The fire flickered for a moment or two, and then went out. I could now only guide myself by certain signs; I was already in the midst of a sea of creepers, with which the ground was carpeted, and I had to pass through fibres of bamboo more or less impenetrable for a depth of at least forty feet, and then, what long circuits I should have to take!

A discovery which I made at this moment went far to counterbalance the discouragement I had just experienced on[59] finding the light which I had pursued with so much tenacity extinguished. This discovery affected me considerably.

Soon after quitting the marshy plain of bamboos, from which I only emerged after leaving some portions of my dress and skin as traces of my path, I found myself once more on solid ground. While passing between the numerous shrubs which covered it, and gave it the appearance of a vast natural orchard, I came across some tempting-looking fruit. By chance, I tasted it, and discovered from its flavour that it was evidently the produce of a regular system of culture. There was none of that primitive harshness which all fruits as a general rule possess till man has improved their flavour. This discovery was a further convincing proof to me that the island was inhabited. It reassured me and encouraged me in my hopes, since it was not only certain that the island was inhabited, but that it was inhabited by men skilled in agricultural pursuits, and consequently occupying no mean place in the scale of civilisation.

At length the dawn appeared; the sky was scarcely lighted up by the first rays of the rising sun ere the uproar which I had heard during the three preceding days again rent the air. These frightful noises, indistinct at first, afterwards comprised all the various gradations that belong to the voices of wild animals, from the hypocritical and nervous mewing of the tiger and the guttural howling of the hyena to the most piercing shrieks and the shrillest whistlings. I started with affright at the explosion of these horrible sounds, which seemed to spring from the depths of a vast glade, which all at once opened out before me. It was like a battery, suddenly unmasked, discharging all its guns at once. Without knowing what it was that I sought to avoid, I darted on one side and hid myself behind the trunk of a tree, bowed down to the ground and covered with a thick mantle of moss and leaves.

The day, which in these inflammable zones does not steal[60] on by degrees, but bursts forth all at once into noon, filled the glade with its dazzling light; and through the numerous openings in the trees I beheld a sight which would seem to the reader altogether improbable, did I not propose, further on, to bring forward the testimony of one of the most celebrated German naturalists in support of my statement.

In a vast arena, a group of individuals, clad in red coats and with cocked hats—surmounted by plumes of feathers, such as English officers wear—on their heads, were seated on some rising ground, evidently in grave deliberation, as though holding a kind of court-martial. In the midst of this conclave I caught sight of a commanding-looking figure, also clothed in scarlet, whose head and face were almost hidden beneath the ample shade of a gigantic cocked hat.

The reader is certainly about to share my surprise. These individuals were apes. Yes, apes. Again, and always, apes. But why were they dressed out in garments in which one is unaccustomed to see them in their natural state? Where had they procured these martial-looking coats and these formidable cocked hats? These were riddles impossible to solve; it must be left to the course of events to bring about an explanation.

The apes composing this group were siamangs, a redoubtable species, who are, as Buffon says, among the largest of quadrumanous animals, approaching the baboon in size.

These siamangs were presided over by the big ape who wore the admiral’s hat. And he was a baboon. One could not be mistaken on this point, and I above all, for was not Karabouffi the Second—Karabouffi the incendiary—a baboon? How came it that at this moment I seemed to see in the person of the president of the court-martial the very image of this treacherous monster?

“The ourang-outang,” says Buffon in his admirable work, “the ape who most resembles man, is the most intelligent, the gravest, and most docile of all apes. The magot, which, with[61] its muzzle and dog-like fangs, diverges from the human form and approaches that of animals, is rough, disobedient, and slovenly; while baboons, which only resemble man by their hands, and have tails, sharp claws, and large nostrils, have the air of ferocious beasts, and what is more, do not belie their looks.”

Around this hideous tribunal, and ranged in triple and quadruple circles, I noticed a crowd of apes of different kinds, but all of the very worst species, and all, moreover, clad, if one can call it clad, or adorned, if one can call it adorned, with some portion of the costume of an English officer, either of the army or navy. One had, for instance, a hat splendidly got up, with a most superb plume of feathers, but he had no red coat to set it off with; another had a red coat, but no trousers; a third, on the contrary, had white trousers, but neither red coat nor belt; a fourth had a belt and nothing else; a fifth was distinguished only by a pair of white gloves, in which he placed sometimes his hands, and sometimes his feet, or rather what represent feet in an ape; a sixth had passed his arms through the sleeves of a midshipman’s blue jacket, but with so little good luck, that the garment was hind-part before; another wore an enormous gorget, which made him carry his head in the air like a tambour major; whilst his neighbour, more favoured by fortune, or perhaps holding a higher rank, for I was of course ignorant of the precise significance of the various military trappings worn by these creatures with a gravity which at that moment astonished me a hundred times more than the ordinary extravagances of their fellows; whilst his neighbour, as I was saying, wore golden epaulettes on a cavalry colonel’s coat. And this costume would not have become him so very badly, had it not been much too large for him, and capable, indeed, of containing at least half-a-dozen colonels of his particular bulk. A sort of finish was given to his uniform by a pair of white gloves and a military sash with silk and gold fringe.[62] If no one of these apes displayed on his own person a complete example of military costume, many at least among them exhibited special portions of it, and I should state that all were armed with a large sabre or a sword.

I should certainly fall far short of the truth if I attempted to describe my impressions at the sight of this insulting burlesque of one of the most honourable of professions—at the sight of these masquerade officers, every one of whom trailed after him a tail which looked all the more ludicrous, peeping out as it did from under his long coat—at the sight of those generals who amused themselves with minute investigations of the heads of their colleagues, not, however, for phrenological purposes, whilst their colleagues considerately rendered them the same service.

At this moment a frightful guttural cry burst forth from the breast of the big baboon who occupied the president’s place, and all those incongruities on which I had been speculating were in an instant forgotten. There was silence for some minutes, and I endeavoured to profit by it by putting my ideas—fearfully strained by all that I had seen—a little in order. But the effort was a useless one. I asked myself to no purpose for an explanation of the strange society assembled before me; I knew well enough that I was not dreaming, like I was the day before, when I fancied myself about to be assassinated by the two ourang-outangs.

It was not the order which I found reigning among these numerous apes assembled, as I fancied them to be, in court-martial, that caused me the most astonishment, since I remembered what that illustrious naturalist, Marcgrave, says—it was the sight of these hats on their brainless heads, these coats on their ridiculous backs, that awakened in me the greatest surprise; for how was it possible to account for the noble military uniform being prostituted to such base uses as these?

While he was speaking, these unfortunate wretches trembled all over, from head to foot.—Page 63.

“Every day,” observes Marcgrave in his natural history, “morning and evening, the siamangs assemble in the[63] woods. One among them takes up his position on some rising ground, and makes a sign to the others to seat themselves around him. When he sees that they are all properly placed, he commences speaking so loud and fast that at a distance a person would imagine they were all crying out together. Yet only one among them is speaking; the others preserve the most perfect silence. When the speaker has finished, he makes a sign with his hand for the others to reply to him, whereupon, at the same instant, they all commence shouting out together, creating, as may be supposed, the most perfect din until, by another sign with his hand, the ape who opened the discussion commands them to silence. In a moment they obey him, and are silent as death. The first one then resumes his speech, and it is only after having listened to him most attentively to the end of his oration that they take steps to break up the assembly.”

The president of the conclave, the big baboon, decked out in the admiral’s or general’s hat, by a single movement of his hand, ordered the advance of twenty apes, who, I observed, were securely bound with ropes made of some fibrous bark. When they were ranged before him like so many criminals, he addressed them in a succession of cries similar to those which I had just heard, but modulated in some degree, as though intended to give expression to certain positive ideas. While he was speaking, these unfortunate wretches trembled all over, from head to foot, and no sooner had he concluded, than, apparently driven to desperation, they endeavoured to escape. Vain attempt! Other apes, armed with knotty bamboos, which they did not hesitate to use, guarded every outlet.

I was not long in discovering that these apes, on whom the assembly were evidently sitting in judgment, belonged to the same species as my unfortunate victim of the previous day. They were vervets, and were distinguished from their judges by their more delicately-shaped limbs, their more[64] intelligent-looking heads, and, above all, by a certain air of goodness and amiability, which was no doubt a crime in the eyes of those by whom they had just been condemned.

And what frightful-looking fellows were their judges, who formed what may be styled the supreme court of the big baboon! How they sought to read beforehand in their master’s eyes the opinion which they would be permitted to hold! Although some among them were already bald, and others displayed the white hair of old age, that natural sign of prudence and badge of respect, they did not the less rival their fellows in obsequiousness towards their master. If he chanced to utter a cry, they were the apes that, in the fullness of their sympathy, cried the loudest. If he scratched his thigh, in a moment of deep thought, they hastened to almost flay their legs by tearing at them with their claws.

Touched with so many marks of abject humility, the august baboon would every now and then take from one of the side pouches of his mouth a mass of masticated nuts or fruit, and throw it into the faces of those servile officials who surrounded him, and who, regarding the act as a mark of gracious condescension on his part, received it with the most lively contortions of pleasure.

Some old ourang-outangs, who had formerly lived with the incriminated vervets, being, I am convinced, on the point of pronouncing a decision in the prisoners’ favour, what do you think the big baboon did, as soon as he perceived the first indication of this misplaced pity of theirs? He rolled his vulture-like eyes under his puckered eyelids, and showed his horrible gums behind a smile formed by two wrinkled lips, and in an instant the misplaced clemency of the old ourang-outangs utterly vanished.

The baboon now threw his staff of justice into the middle of the arena. This it seems was intended as a signal, for immediately afterwards the apes, to whom were delegated the functions of carrying out the sentences pronounced by[65] the supreme court, commenced showering down blows with sticks of bamboo on the poor condemned prisoners, whom they thrashed with an unheard-of severity, driving them clean out of the inclosure and chasing them at last into the very depths of the forest.

This savage act of justice appeared to me as though it were chiefly intended to increase the authority which the big baboon evidently exercised over the apish community, since no sooner was the sitting concluded than the siamangs, magots, and talapoins rushed forward to congratulate him, to stroke and lick him, to jump upon his back and salute him with respect, mingled with fear.



The court-martial breaks up.—I secretly follow the members of it.—I distinguish some houses between the trees, and believe myself to be at last among my fellow-men.—My hopes are crushed by discovering the devastated condition of the settlement.—I meet with Saïmira and Mococo, the latter in captivity.—I recognise in the president of the court-martial one of my two baboons of Macao.—This discovery troubles me, the more so when I find that Karabouffi’s power is supreme.—Foreseeing the peril I should be in if recognised by him, I hide myself in a grotto.—I am visited by Saïmira.—Weariness becomes at length more intolerable than danger.—The light already seen reappears.—I leave my retreat in search of it.

When the big baboon was thoroughly tired of these attentions he waved his hand by way of signal for his followers to desist, then rose majestically, and, accompanied by his entire suite, proceeded to take his departure.

I could not refrain from following the party, although by so doing I felt that I exposed myself to a certain danger. I advanced, however, cautiously, step by step, and from tree to tree, halting when necessary, so that I might not be discovered. This gave me time to examine the spot where justice had just been meted out, and I was surprised to perceive at no great distance from it, through a wide opening between the trees, a nest of little painted houses, constructed in the Indian style, and such as I had frequently seen in Java, Borneo, and generally in all the more civilised parts of Oceania. Houses! I was then about to find myself, not[67] among a people more or less anthropophagical, but among a people far advanced in civilisation; without doubt some European colony, and what is more, an English one, since the coats worn by that legion of apes were of English cut, colour, and nationality. I now walked with restored confidence behind my apes, clad in their blue and red toggery. Now and for henceforth I need have no more fear of them. I felt almost inclined to twitch their garments and seize hold of their despised tails by way of amusement.

After this discovery I fully expected to see ere long this troop of apes re-enter their cages under the guiding influence of their master’s whip. With this view I hid myself lower down the road in a sort of thicket. “From my hiding-place,” I said to myself, “I shall be able to see this diabolical procession defile before me with the big baboon at the head of it.” After a time they pass by, and what do I see? Whom do you think I recognise under the hat adorned with such a splendid plume of feathers and in the red coat, the brilliancy of which almost scorched my eyes? Why, my terrible baboon of Macao; he whom I had so many times thrashed, whom I had sold a year previously to Vice-Admiral Campbell the day before his departure—in one word, Karabouffi! Karabouffi the First! Could it be possible? In this case the admiral must have disembarked his men on this island. Were he and his crew still here? A new surprise put an end to my speculations. I find myself at this moment gently touched on the arm, and on turning round see beside me a well-remembered figure, who is tenderly regarding me. That look, which seemed to spring from the depth of a human soul, came from the eyes of Saïmira, my charming chimpanzee, who endeavoured anew to make me comprehend that I was to follow her by again pulling me by the arm, accompanying this movement with a significant gesture. Finding that I still resisted she uttered several low groans, and commenced licking my hands. She had, one might say, spoken first, and begged afterwards.[68] I no longer doubted that I was running some great danger from which she wished to save me. I therefore decided to follow her, and no sooner did she perceive my intention than her joy was intense. As we walked side by side through the bushes she looked at me, and lowered her head. I divined her meaning, and inclined mine. It was evidently dangerous for me to be seen. After a quarter of an hour of this silent marching through the tall brushwood we arrived at a spot which I fancied to be in the rear of the houses seen by me from afar, and the sight of which had inspired me with such joy and confidence. Saïmira stood still. What could be her object? It was to show me on her left a row of cages, of which all, except one, were open and empty. Saïmira went up to the closed cage, and then returned, and drew me towards it. I looked through the bars, and there saw my old friend Mococo, the chimpanzee, whom I had sold with Saïmira on the day of my great sale to Vice-Admiral Campbell.

My first act was to open the door of the cage that I might behold my old favourite free. No sooner is he free than poor Mococo hesitated whether to go to Saïmira or to me, whom he at once recognised. His affections are divided. At last he runs up to me, and rests his head for several seconds upon my neck just like a little child. After having passed his hands gently over my face, and rubbed his muzzle against my cheeks, he threw himself on the ground, and laid his trembling paw on Saïmira’s neck, whilst Saïmira, in her turn, placed her hand on him. The most affectionate confidences were then exchanged between these two creatures, who had evidently suffered much from their hard separation, since one was free and the other a captive.

This affecting scene lasted for well-nigh a quarter of an hour, when all at once Saïmira raised her ear with anxiety, and drew it back ruffled with fright. With a rapid movement she thrust Mococo back into his cage again, and giving[69] me a glance, which I was at no loss to comprehend, since I had known for a long time how to interpret the signs of these animals, and by which I understood her to implore me to draw the bolt quickly on the poor prisoner. I of course did so. She had evidently heard a noise. I listened and heard it also, and recognised in it the hoarse grunting of Karabouffi.

Saïmira’s terror, which was evidently inspired by the too close proximity of the big baboon, convinced me that it was he who held Mococo captive. I also suspected from this circumstance that Karabouffi was at once the conqueror and ruler of the island on which it had been my misfortune to be cast. What part then did my own species play in relation to this mysterious society, in which, day by day, I found myself more and more entangled?

Poor Saïmira was, of course, incapable of enlightening me. All that her affection for me suggested was to draw me away, so that I might avoid encountering Karabouffi the First. When, therefore, she led the way I followed her again. The road which she took was directly opposite to that by which one might have reasonably expected the baboon would come.

We doubled one corner of the row of houses whilst he turned the other on his way to pay a visit to the cage of his rival—now his prisoner. The day began to grow dim. We walked without being observed past the front of the houses which I had believed to be those of the English station, and which looked so pleasant when seen at a distance. A nearer view, however, brought to light a scene of desolation that promised a new surprise to me. In the first place, the windows were all broken, and the frames demolished, and, more or less, wrenched away from their hinges.

Hanging out, at the end of long sticks and a crowd of flag-staffs, from the broken windows of the first story, was a most miscellaneous collection of articles—torn uniforms, leathern stocks, cravats, boots, belts, odd pairs of shoes, hats[70] with their tops torn out, empty bottles, trousers, towels, rags of all colours, any number of shirts, and even a few flags.

In Heaven’s name, I mentally exclaimed, who has committed these acts of incredible folly? Who has produced this utter devastation, the like of which is only to be met with after the sacking of a town, or a raid on the part of a horde of savages?

It is not possible, thought I, that the apes—though the effects of their claws and their perversity were visible everywhere—could have made themselves masters, either by surprise or force, of a garrison composed of brave sailors and excellent officers; that they could have massacred every living man among them, and have then installed themselves in their dwellings and appropriated all their uniforms, furniture, and flags.

Saïmira’s pressing solicitations to me to proceed prevented me from continuing my reflections, and ere many minutes had elapsed she and I had disappeared in the dense shade of a neighbouring wood, where we walked for more than three hours under the dark leaves of the banyans.

It was only after having seen me take refuge in a natural grotto formed of rocks clothed with thick moss and those thousand vegetable productions which cover the ground of Australia, that Saïmira decided to leave me. But before she departed, she gave me a look full of fear and compassion, an eloquent farewell, which I interpreted into an express recommendation to me not to leave my retreat.

Why did I not follow this advice? Simply because, after eight days’ seclusion in the grotto, I grew tired of it, and not even Saïmira’s attentive care, although she came to see me every day, could reconcile me to it. I shall never forget the efforts she made to raise her intelligence in some degree to the level of my own. She would caress me, would now and then sleep with her two little arms twined round my neck, or while I was asleep myself, would go and gather from the topmost[71] branches of the trees fruit which she would place at the entrance to my retreat.

It was not alone weariness which decided me to leave my place of concealment, where I lived without doubt in security; my dignity as a man also urged me to this course. I was ashamed to be held, as it were, in check by certain inferior creatures, authority over whom nature has delegated to our race. Moreover, to pass my life in this grotto seemed an intolerable idea. I thought to myself that I must leave it some day or other, and that I might just as well leave it at once; and this is how it was I left.

I had been accustomed to roam some distance from my cave after nightfall, both for exercise and to seek for wood-pigeons’ eggs, which I cooked in a hole dug in the sand, at the bottom of which I was accustomed to make up a fire.

The matches which, being a smoker, I had about me when I was shipwrecked, enabled me to kindle a fire whenever I required one. Thanks to the leaden box which contained these matches, the sea water had not injured them in the slightest degree, whilst my tobacco, on the contrary, had suffered much.

On the last evening of my stay in the forest, while standing at the entrance of my grotto, I perceived, some distance off, a fire like that which I had seen the day following my shipwreck. Who is it, I asked myself, that lights up these great fires? It cannot be the work of apes, it must be done by men, and yet I dared no longer believe in their existence on this enigmatical island, since on this point I had been so often deceived. I directed my steps in a straight line towards the fire, which I imagined to be situated somewhere between my grotto and the sacked houses of the English station. In less than an hour-and-a-half’s walking, I found myself getting nearer and nearer to it, and when I was only some hundred paces off from it the ground, till then level, rose in a steep incline. The soil crumbled and rattled under my feet, and I[72] concluded that I had reached the side of a volcano, and that I was walking over the old lava. This, however, did not astonish me, for I knew well enough that in nearly all the islands of Oceania there are volcanoes, either extinct or in a state of eruption. But how was it that I had observed these flames only on two occasions? How was it that they had disappeared to burst forth again after an interval of eight days? This was not in accordance with the usual course of these physical convulsions.

In a few minutes all my uncertainties ceased.



Finding a volcano.—New peril to which I am exposed.—The merchant is recognised by his old merchandise.—Three guttural cries.—The living garland.—It swings to and fro, and then performs a furious rotatory movement over the crater of a blazing volcano.—My thoughts at this moment.—I am flung to the ground, and swoon away.—On recovering, I am ushered into the presence of Karabouffi the First, whom I find transformed into a bird.—Monkey scribes and living telegraphic communication.

At the summit of the cone which I had just reached a most extraordinary spectacle awaited me. Myriads of apes, silent and immovable until they perceived me, hovered round the crest of the crater of a little volcano, which had evidently not been in a state of eruption for a considerable period.

The flames which it belched forth were, I found, the result of a formidable combustion fed by troops of these creatures, who were busily engaged in throwing into this yawning gulf branches after branches of maple-trees, shrubs torn up by the roots, and heaps of long dry leaves, which they passed from one to the other with incredible rapidity, just as sailors when loading a ship pass from hand to hand the multitude of packages which have to be transferred from the quay to the hold. The fuel, consisting of branches, roots, bark, and leaves, which they were flinging into the opening of[74] the craters came, as I discovered, from a distance. The destruction of trees, and the passage from hand to hand of boughs and bark stripped from them, went on without ceasing. The inexhaustible fire, like the indefatigable arms in motion, never once appeared to slacken. It was almost enough to turn one’s brain to observe the flames lightening up from below thousands of shining eyes, twinkling like electric sparks; to see the agitated beards, the perspiring bodies, the shrivelled countenances, and the twisted legs; to see the hairy arms extend themselves, receive their burthen, and cast it into the crater; and to see, moreover, arranged in an immense circle around these panting workmen, thousands upon thousands of spectators, grave and serious-looking as dervishes adoring fire.

But whom could these horrible apes have seen practise this organised work of destruction, that, following the example set them, they should now continue it as though without the power to desist, like machines which know not how to stop after they have once been set in motion? Chance enlightened me on this point some time afterwards.[1]

[1] Polydorus Marasquin would have been less surprised to see apes act together with this unison of will and thorough unanimity of idea, which seemed to him to belong exclusively to the faculties of man, if he had read the following passage from Kolo’s Description of the Cape of Good Hope:—“This is the manner in which the apes pillage an orchard, a garden, or a vineyard. They set forth on these expeditions in troops; one detachment enters the inclosure, whilst another remains on the watch to give notice of the approach of danger. The remainder are placed outside the garden at a moderate distance from each other, so as to form a sort of line, which stretches from the place of pillage to that appointed for the rendezvous. When all have taken up their positions, the baboons commence the work of pillage, and throw to those who are in waiting just outside the garden the melons, apples, pears, &c., as they gather them; these apes, in their turn, throw the fruit to those stationed nearest to them, and so they are passed along the entire length of the line, which generally ends on the summit of some mountain. If the sentinels perceive any one approaching, they utter a particular cry, at which signal the entire troop will scamper off with astonishing rapidity.”

I have said that all these apes were silent as the grave[75] until they caught sight of me. No sooner, however, did they perceive me than this silence was broken. Callot’s necromantic pencil, or rather his diabolical graver, which gave to us “The Temptation of St. Anthony,” is necessary to depict what happened to me at this ineffaceable moment of my existence.

At first a noise, so much like that of a hurricane that it caused me to throw myself flat on the ground, succeeded to the death-like silence with which these creatures were regarding the sight of the blazing volcano before they were disturbed by my presence.

They were welcoming me.

Their eternal enemy, man, was in their midst.

And a man, too, who had sold apes!

A man who had even sold several of those present when at Macao.

A man who had forced them to beat tambourines and leap through hoops.

A man who had sometimes flogged them to make them dance with a rose behind the ear, a shepherd’s hat on the head, and a crook in the hand.

A man who had also cruelly deprived them of food and drink, because they would not put on scarlet breeches and ruffles, and bow and scrape in the ancient French fashion.

What ought I not to expect?

Karabouffi the First, seated on the block of lava, was presiding over this gathering—as for the matter of that, he presided over everything in this island, which had become subjected, I know not how, to his sovereignty. His ministers, as we have already seen, were only his servants and executioners.

I had been, as I have already said, recognised.

After this bewildering noise of which I have just spoken all my old captives of Macao rushed upon me; their companions hastened to follow their example. I felt that I was[76] about to be torn into as many pieces as my unfortunate cravat.

It was at this moment that I caught sight of the word Halcyon, the name of Vice-Admiral Campbell’s frigate, on the buttons of the coats worn by the leaders of this odious troop. The reader may judge of my astonishment at this discovery. Where was I? In the name of goodness, what had happened?

This I should probably never have known but for the cry uttered by Karabouffi at the very moment that I was disappearing under a mountain of baboons, apes, mandrills, magots, and ourang-outangs.

The thousand and one instantly let go their hold.

Karabouffi evidently had other intentions respecting me.

He uttered three distinct guttural cries, which were listened to with marked attention.

The order had gone forth, it was now about to be executed, and this is the way in which his behest was accomplished:—

On a signal from Karabouffi, these drolls of creation joined themselves together like bundles of snakes, and tying themselves to one another by their tails rapidly formed two chains. One of these living chains entwined itself round my neck, the other twisted itself about my legs, and I found myself, without being able to offer the least resistance, the connecting link, as it were, of these two chains, which soon formed only one, a kind of garland of apes, animated and convulsive. As soon as this operation was completed, the end of the chain which represented what one may style the head threw itself with the swiftness of an arrow to the other side of the crater; the end representing the tail did not move from where it was, and a giddy swinging movement at once commenced. Picture to yourself if you can my sad and ridiculous situation, swinging from right to left and from left to right over a fire a hundred feet broad, all smoking and blazing beneath me.


Each succeeding oscillation became quicker and quicker, owing, I presume, to the increasing recklessness of my tormentors, until I was swung from curve to curve, sixty feet on one side and sixty feet on the other; then—but how is it possible for me in the state of mind in which I then was to have calculated this frightful rate of progression? Twenty thousand spectators, or rather twenty thousand grimaces, twenty thousand contortions, fifty ranks deep, surrounded the opening of the crater, above which I was floating, looking like a forest of skins dotted with black and yellow muzzles, and bristling with teeth which gnashed and chattered without ceasing; and from one extremity to the other gigantic magots, quadrumanous constables armed with sticks, moved about to keep order during the entertainment—and what an entertainment, too, for even an ape to derive gratification from! At one moment I believed myself thrown into the clouds, at the next I felt the heat of the fire scorching my back. I say nothing of the pain which I suffered from being wrapped about and bound by those nervous cords which cut into my very skin. And, worse than all, I was not even at the end of my punishment.

The formidable swinging movement increased, the garland of apes, of which I formed part, soon overleaped its most elevated point of ascension, and then it was no longer a simple alternating movement, more or less perilous, that I had to undergo, but a rotatory motion, first rapid, then furious, and at last terrible. I had been, as it were, the balance of a pendulum; I was now a cart-wheel, the sails of a windmill, the stone in a sling; and I turned, and turned, and turned till I became first white, then red, then purple, then violet, and at last blue, and had quite lost my senses. I cried out; my cries of suffering, of despair, and fear were lost amidst the squealing huzzas and furious shriekings of these myriads of evil beings. When they had shaken and whirled me about to their hearts’ content, they brought their atrocious farce to[78] a termination in the following manner:—Giving me a final and more furious shaking than any I had before experienced—ah! it makes my blood run cold to think of it—to the extreme curve of the chain, which, when it had attained the highest degree of gyratory violence, they all at once snapped asunder, breaking it at the centre, where I was fixed. The consequence was that I was flying like a ball across the crater, high above the enthusiastic spectators—above everything, in fact, to a distance of one or two hundred yards. Heaven only knows how I escaped being smashed to pieces on falling! Doubtless there were still further torments in store for me.

What were your thoughts, perhaps my readers will ask, while you were thus travelling through space in a manner so contrary to the usual habits of our kind? Why, I thought how very cruel we are when, to amuse ourselves, we send up cats or dogs in the car of a small balloon, and how very blamable I had been myself in one day attaching a poor kitten, who afterwards died from fright, to the tail of a large kite, for the purpose of amusing the idlers of Macao. I had been in my turn attached to the tail of a kite. What right had I to complain?

On coming to myself—and I am entirely ignorant how long the swoon which followed my horrible fall lasted—I perceived two mandrills of the most savage kind on guard, sword in hand, near me, imitating, so far as parody imitates truth, the gait and stiffness of English soldiers. Through want of experience, instead of confining themselves to placing a gaiter on each leg, every one of the mandrills had in addition placed a gaiter on each arm. I attributed this grotesque addition to simple ignorance, since there could be no such grade among apes as clothing colonels, ready at all times to decree any absurd addition to the soldier’s uniform, provided they could share the profit derived from it with the contractors. Slight as had been my opportunities of observing this automatic society, I nevertheless endeavoured to account to myself in a[79] vague sort of way how it was that it came to offer a copy, fantastic and distorted though it might be, of the life of civilised man. Those uniform-buttons, already recognised by me in my hour of torture, furnished me with a clue. Unquestionably these half-intelligent animals and the men whose garments they were dragging about had lived together. My inference seemed so far undeniable. I had, however, still to discover how it was that the one had managed to obtain possession of the property of the other; but this was a question by no means easy to resolve all at once, particularly in the uncomfortable position in which I was placed. Just let the reader try to reflect when his head, the seat of reflection, is in perpetual fear of being broken by a blow from a bludgeon.

The two sentinels with the four gaiters, seeing me open my eyes, signalled to me to follow them. I mustered up all my strength and obeyed.

They conducted me in the direction of the devastated buildings which had excited my surprise some eight or ten days previously, when I was under the protection of the interesting Saïmira.

What had become of Saïmira?

What had become of Mococo?

What was about to become of me?

My two guardians introduced me, with some sharp blows dealt out to me with the flat side of their sabres, into one of the houses, the exterior of which was more pretentious in appearance than any of the others, and which I supposed, on this account, to have been the head-quarters of the station—the residence, in fact, of Vice-Admiral Campbell. The interior of the admiral’s house scarcely differed, so far as the desolate condition to which it was reduced was concerned, from the others. A kind of order, however, reigned in the midst of this lamentable chaos. For instance, the pictures, after having been removed from their hooks, had been placed back again, but upside down. I acknowledge that, so far as many[80] of the pictures were concerned, this was a matter of no moment whatever, while for others it was a positive advantage. I should not be surprised if people generally became of my opinion after trying the effect of this reversing process on certain modern pictures in their collections.

Karabouffi the First, warned of my arrival by the chattering of my custodians, rushed up to me. The sight of the hated baboon made me feel timid, more timid, indeed, than usual, and what added in some degree to my fear was seeing him covered from head to foot with feathers. The sight of this ape, transformed as it were, to all appearances, into a bird, naturally enough filled me at first with great surprise. But having examined him more attentively, I perceived that the thousands of feathers under which his hairy skin seemed to have disappeared were writing-quills, which he stuck under his arms, upon his ears, in his mouth, and even up his nose, as well as fastened all over his wrinkled skin. In moving towards me some of the feathers fell out, and I noticed that most of them had been made into pens. The two ourang-outangs who accompanied him, and who appeared to be his prime ministers, were covered, like their master, from head to foot with feathers.

Karabouffi preceded me into the principal room, which it seems he had left in order to receive me; and there I saw a hundred sapajous in a state of intense nervous excitement, and apparently very busy, sprawling over desks, dipping their pens and very often their hands into inkstands without number, and scribbling upon sheets of paper laid before them—imitating, in fact, the copying-clerks in the public offices at Macao. They worked as if by steam; the pens scratched incessantly, and sheets after sheets of paper flew about in all directions.

When one of these sheets of paper was sufficiently scratched and scrawled over it was passed to some more venerable sapajou, who signed it, and in his turn passed it on[81] to some sapajou still more grave-looking, who again signed the paper and fixed his seal to it. Being afterwards handed to one of the crowd of sapajous who waited outside, the paper was transmitted without loss of time from sapajou to sapajou placed at certain distances, precisely as I had seen them when they were occupied in throwing wood into the furnace, into which I had had a narrow escape of being thrown myself. After a lapse of something like ten minutes, the paper which had traversed the island by means of this telegraphic system of communication came into Karabouffi’s hands, who, after having applied it to the purposes of a pocket-handkerchief, handed it over to an old mangabey, whom he had invested with the dignity of Keeper of the Court Records.

It was very evident to me that these savage creatures, after the departure, flight, or perhaps extermination of the English colony, had taken possession of all the official paper and pens which they could find, and of the vice-admiral’s seal; and that, in servile imitation of what they had so frequently witnessed, they were despatching at random orders from all sides, thereby, without intending it, offering a witty comment on the ordinary practice of European bureaucracy, that pest of civilisation which devours time, money, and men, and invariably terminates by a paper with which, were we accustomed to paper pocket-handkerchiefs like the Japanese, the last receiver of it might just as well wipe his nose for any better use he could put it to.

Karabouffi, in the most imperious way, threw in my face several quires of paper and several parcels of quills. The expressive look which he afterwards gave me implied, as I imagined, that I was to occupy myself without uttering a word with these packets of pens and quires of paper, precisely like his other clerks, who were working away at such a desperate rate before my eyes.

During three times twenty-four hours I was not permitted either to leave my place or to let my pen rest. I was compelled[82] under pain of all that is terrible to blacken ream after ream of paper, and when the virgin whiteness of these sheets had entirely disappeared under the clouds of ink with which I overlaid them, one of the strange scribes at my elbow took the papers from me and gave them, as I have already described, to a corps of apes, charged with the duty of conveying them round the island. For seventy-two hours I did not get even a wink of sleep, since my enemies, endowed for the most part with the faculty of seeing in the dark, whenever I was about to succumb to slumber, cruelly pinched my arms, pulled my hair, kicked me in the back, or scratched my face with their sharp claws, so as to keep me wide awake. What horrible torture!

Oh, how sincerely at this moment did I pity those numbers of young men condemned by the misfortune of their birth or the stupidity of their relations to spend their lives in doing nothing but ply their pens from morning to evening within the four walls of some dreary office!



Bell-ringing by the monkeys.—Disorder in Monkey Villas.—Hungry, I discover stores.—His Majesty in a jar of quinces.—Scrambling for nuts.—Monkeys tipsy.—Fear of their intoxicated revels.—Night falls as I am in the midst of a terrible uproar.—I discover candles and lucifer matches.—The monkeys find them also.—Candle-dance by the apes.

The fourth day of this singular penitential ordeal I was startled at hearing a bell ring, and immediately fancied myself saved, for I could attribute only to one of my own species the faculty of employing this method of signalling. Flinging down my pen I abandoned my cruel labour, and ran at the top of my speed towards the place whence I supposed the sound proceeded. I decided to die rather than remain any longer in the place where I had been kept by constraint and blows for three days and nights. My guards did not dare to hold me back. I arrived without halting at the foot of the post above which the bell was hung, when my disappointment was complete at finding that it was not a man but an ape who was pulling the rope.

The post of the bell was fixed at the corner of a large courtyard, the four sides of which were composed of ranges of elegant apartments. This courtyard received both air and[84] light through an immense awning of rose-coloured cloth, filled out by the wind, and enjoyed a perpetual freshness arising from a natural basin of water which was situated in the very centre of the square. Luxuriant turf, with beds of shrubs and flowers, formed a border to this refreshing pool. Tied together in bouquets by a kind of weed, a tropical hair-like plant, bamboos grew with their delicate trunks and glossy foliage to a height of sixty feet. In India this cool part of a house, where one really manages to breathe, is called the verandah. Did India take the idea of verandahs from the Moors, or did the Moors borrow verandahs from the Hindoos to introduce them into Spain and Portugal? I cannot say. All I know is that the inhabitants dine in these places during the heat of the day, walk in them of an evening, and often make them their sleeping apartment for the night. Divans from Cabul, carpets from Bagdad, mats from Ceylon, and Manilla hammocks are the ordinary furniture of these verandahs.

Karabouffi, who had taken possession without ceremony of the finest house of all, had the wit to choose the verandah for himself and court to reside in. Profiting by the long tables laid out for the officers of the station, he and his suite occasionally took their meals there, though to be sure without ever thinking of changing the tablecloth.

On entering this verandah I found myself in the midst of the most distressing disorder that one can possibly imagine. There were plates scattered about in all directions, silver dishes lying here and there, broken china, smashed decanters, forks stuck by the prongs into the table, bottles lying on their sides, and glasses piled up one within the other.

The bell which I had heard was to announce dinner.

Karabouffi strutted into the room and took a place in the very middle of the table, between a soup-plate and cruet-stand; his favourites seated themselves around—some on the table, others underneath.


I acknowledge that, owing to the hunger which I endured, I felt indisposed to criticise the behaviour of the guests and the postures in which they placed themselves too closely. Besides, I could not but remember that among the nations of the world the etiquette of the dinner-table has not yet been reduced to anything like a system of uniformity. For instance, the English commonly dine without napkins; the French invariably with; the Chinese eat with little ivory sticks; Orientals with their hands instead of forks; the Thibetans eat standing up; the Romans ate reclining; the American Indians eat with fish-bones shaped like needles. Why, then, should I find fault with these creatures, who simply ate as instinct taught them?

Only it was necessary to have something to eat. The vegetables which my table companions eagerly devoured, and which they occasionally sought to thrust into my mouth, were neither palatable nor satisfying. I was suffering the most cruel hunger. Whilst casting my sad and haggard eyes round the verandah, almost every window of which indicated a distinct room, and thinking of the many capital repasts which the English officers had here partaken of, an inscription over a window a little way off met my sight. It consisted of these words, in black letters on a white ground:—“Kitchens of the officers of the staff.” I rushed in the direction far quicker than I had done to the sound of the bell. Kitchens! a plurality of kitchens! There were of course several kitchens, then! It is needless to say that I was followed in my impetuous rush by Karabouffi’s staff, who were at this moment a curious rather than a hostile crowd. This general curiosity was in fact my great protection against the habitual perversity of my quadrumanous tyrants.

In my impetuosity I penetrated into a large and handsome apartment of the verandah, evidently the reception-room, and which had been by no means so badly treated as other parts of the building. The arm-chairs appeared to be only[86] half stripped of their coverings; the chandelier and ormolu brackets of several branches still decorated the ceiling and walls. Various articles of furniture, the use of which the ravagers had no doubt been unable to divine, were left intact. These were a piano, an accordion, and a guitar. I judged from these various signs that the recollection of the beatings which they must have frequently received at the hands of the cooks, their natural enemies, whom they are always robbing, had induced the apes to keep clear of the kitchens.

From the reception-room I passed into the dining-hall, situated at the back of the verandah, and from the dining-hall into the kitchen. Alas! weeks, months, perhaps, had elapsed since the English settlers had disappeared, and I ought not to have expected to have seen haunches of venison, turkeys, pheasants, and hares roasting on the spit. The kitchen fire was extinguished, and all was cold and desolate. My apes had evidently passed through here. But, apes as they were, and will always be, they had not found out how to open the cupboards. The claws of the depredators had left their traces behind them, written in long furrows across the doors—that was all. I opened one cupboard after another. Providence had evidently guided me, for I found them filled with cases of pâté-de-foie gras, and all kinds of preserved meats, poultry, fish, and vegetables, with boxes of sardines and pots of jams, and jars of fruits and sweetmeats. Guess if I didn’t seize with avidity on these treasures.

Prudence suggested to me not to be ungrateful. I therefore offered a colossal jar of preserved quinces to his Majesty King Karabouffi, who forthwith thrust his head into it right up to the shoulders; but his subjects, envious and jealous at this proceeding, immediately commenced to draw him out by the legs and tail. Karabouffi, however, held tight, and he and the jar resisted their efforts with success. Nevertheless,[87] I am quite of the opinion that a prudent sovereign ought not to indulge too freely in sweetmeats in the presence of his subjects. The strife continued; the jar at length began to give way. A revolution was inevitably about to spring from this trivial, this insignificant incident.

Now, for my part, I considered that a revolution at this particular moment would in all probability not turn out to my advantage. One Karabouffi dead, twenty other Karabouffis would spring up to succeed him. This was easily to be perceived, and what was equally certain was that the last Karabouffi would be sure to be worse than his predecessors; so for the purpose of preventing such a catastrophe, this is what I did: I emptied a bag of nuts on the ground. Suddenly courtiers and subjects, leaving their lord and master to partake of the preserved quinces to his heart’s content, rushed after the nuts, for which they scrambled like a parcel of schoolboys. It is not a bad plan—indeed, it is rather a method of sound policy—to throw from time to time a few handfuls of nuts among people who are quarrelling.

In presence of the nuts the general discontent vanished. I profited by this circumstance to taste a few of those delicious preserves which had fallen into my hands. I was obliged while eating them to hold the cupboard door only partially open, for fear that the spies by whom I was surrounded should desire to share these dainties with me. Had I given them the chance, they would have whipped everything off in the twinkling of an eye. But I was only taking half measures of protection, as I am now about to show. After having eaten my fill, I took a bottle of wine from a hamper, broke the neck off it, and commenced to drink. I drank with satisfaction, with pleasure—indeed, I may say with ecstasy. But in my ecstasy I forgot myself, and left the cupboard door wide open. Whilst I was counting the stars, after the manner of Sancho Panza, my companions insinuated themselves into the cupboard, fell on to the hampers of wine, seized the[88] bottles as they had seen me do: the reader can divine the rest.

Once intoxicated, they called one another names in ape’s language, which was enough to make any one tremble; they sent plates flying at one another’s heads, and somehow or other never missed their aim; they struck one another on the back with the empty bottles until they shivered them into fragments. “Ah,” said I to myself, “Nature has done well to indicate to man the constant moderation which he ought to bring, and which he really does bring, to the gratification of his desires. As a matter of course he never falls into those scandalous excesses in which I saw these miserable imitations of our species so readily indulge.”

I felt proud at this new proof of our superiority over the monkey tribe.

It has been said, I know, that men have occasionally forgotten themselves at dessert, and behaved with less politeness than they ordinarily do. People will cite, for instance, the cases of Alexander, who killed Clytus after a drinking bout; and of Charles XII., who boxed his mother’s ears on leaving table; and of King Christian of Denmark. But see how rare the examples are! One is obliged to search history to its lowest depths for them. I am aware it has been pretended that our most painful diseases result from the too great fondness which we are said to have for the pleasures of the table, and from our partiality for alcoholic drinks. This proves, however, absolutely nothing, for these are at best but mere suppositions. Tell me, if you please, where I shall look for a counterpart of the frightful reality I have just described, and which I saw passing before my eyes.

I might have hit upon even still more flattering comparisons for my own species, but night was coming on, and I watched it approach with an inexpressible fear; for I had no longer the resource of hiding myself in the woods and escaping my enemies. They were all present, they were[89] all more or less intoxicated, and I was hemmed in by them on all sides.

It may be supposed that my position was anything but an agreeable one in the midst of this maddened pandemonium, giving itself up in the darkness of the night to the most frightful eccentricities. As this darkness increased so did my fear. Every means of flight were cut off from me. I expected to be strangled, choked, or torn in pieces on the spot. Not a single avenue of escape was open to me—no, not one!

In the excess of my alarm the idea suddenly occurred to me of hiding myself away in one of the cupboards, and by this means escaping the fate which threatened me. It was while seeking to put in execution this impossible project, considering the narrow space into which I should have been obliged to squeeze myself, that I displaced the lid of a chest, and found my hand in contact with some solid substance. I pass my hand carefully over it, I examine it so far as a doubtful light permits me, when judge of my delight at discovering that it was a packet of wax candles. The chest was evidently filled with them. I immediately drew my box of lucifers from my pocket and lighted one. Delivered from the horror of darkness in the unhappy condition in which I was, I trembled all over with emotion. What a delicious surprise! What joy! Unfortunately I did not remark, when closing the cupboard that my spies might not play me the same trick as they had done with the wine, that I had locked one of them in. He uttered a cry of alarm, on hearing which I instantly opened the door, or it might have turned out badly for me. All was over. My captive, once free, placed himself in the opening of the door so that I could not shut it without crushing him. The others, profiting by this accident, immediately made a rush for the cupboard, and pillaged the chest in the twinkling of an eye. Behold them all lighting their candles at mine and waving them over their heads,[90] dancing about with delight at the continued repetition of these fantastic flames, with which their little Satanic eyes were at once dazzled and fascinated. Alas! I only fell from one state of fright into another. Now I stood a chance of being burnt like a faggot, for they carried their lighted tapers so recklessly that they had already commenced to singe the skins of each other. A happy inspiration, drawn from the new danger which I had myself called down, at this moment took possession of me.



An energetic pianiste.—Vigorous dancers.—A bevy of quadrumanous beauties.—The parasol polka.—Amatory tomfooleries.—I am compelled to take part in a new musical air.—Am commanded to climb up a tall pole.—Am forced to jump through hoops, throw somersaults, and cut capers.—Am indebted to Saïmira for a respite.

I traversed the dining-hall, passed into the reception-room, where I placed one of my candles on a window-seat; I then lighted a second, which I fixed elsewhere. Having observed me do this—what, indeed, did they not observe?—they hastened to place their candles wherever they could discover a support for them. I congratulated myself on my success; the candles had ceased to play any further an incendiary part in the apish orgie. No sooner, however, had they done this than they appeared to recall to mind that they had seen the room lighted up in this fashion before—doubtlessly on some occasion when the vice-admiral gave a soirée or a ball. They exchanged glances with each other, and in the twinkling of an eye climbed up on one another’s backs and placed the candles in the chandeliers and in the ormolu brackets fixed against the walls.

If I had required any further proof that my apes must have seen both balls and evening parties given in this room,[92] it was supplied me when one of them, happier in his efforts of memory than the rest of his companions, sprang on to the keys of the piano, and struck them with his fore hands. He had evidently seen a piano played. Judging from the enthusiastic contortions of his hearers that his performance was appreciated, he commenced to strike the keys with his hind hands, when, finding himself applauded still more by his auditory, he proceeded to beat the keys not only with his four brawny hands, but with his elbows and his knees, his hairy head, his bearded back, and ended at last by sitting down upon the instrument, and, rising and falling with an adagio movement, produced the final notes of his fantasia after the style of a celebrated German instrumentalist whom this ape must have seen perform on some occasion or other; for this extravagant action was far too original to have been evolved from the brain of an ape. This music, although a little mad, was, as they say, very lively; so much so, indeed, that when the performer resumed, coaïtas, mangabeys, ourang-outangs, talapoins, capuchins, green monkeys, douroucoulis, magots, tee-tees, pig-tailed macaques, siamangs, propitheces, baboons, vervets, sapajous, marmosets, mandrills, and alouattes commenced to dance with ardour—indeed, one may say frenzy—to the sound of this piano. It was not a noble sight, certainly; but pardon me the comparison, I fancied I saw in these apes, dressed up in their long swallow-tailed coats and with their bushy beards, a striking resemblance to some of our European fops.

Decidedly it was a ball—a ball given by apes, a ball such as, there was now no longer any doubt, they themselves had often seen given by the admiral of the station to his officers and their wives.

Karabouffi, I know not why, had deserted the ball-room. As yet, however, the dancers did not appear to have felt this august absence over-much. Ah, how the creatures waltzed and polked! It was a perfect tempest—a whirlwind, in fact.[93] I was nearly knocked to pieces by them. In the midst of my surprise I discovered something new which explained to me Karabouffi’s absence.

The fête had scarcely lasted an hour, when, to my intense surprise, I witnessed the arrival of fluttering groups of young and lively guenons, attended by cavaliers in straw-coloured gloves, who were all attired in superb robes of silk and muslin, and draped in magnificent shawls from Lahore—displaying, in short, the most charming details of toilet that one can well imagine. This ball was not to be without ladies any more than spring was to be without its flowers. But let us ponder a little over these beauties and their costumes. The subject is always an interesting one. Without doubt some of them had red noses and white chins; others, too, were what is styled scraggy about the neck and shoulders, of which they made a greater display than was necessary by wearing extremely low dresses, while all of them shocked you with their hairy and bony arms. But has the reader never observed at balls in Europe, delicate and select as they may be, red noses and white chins, angular shoulders and flat breasts, and bony and even hairy arms?

At the point at which I have arrived in the recital of my troubles, there is no need, I suppose, for me to explain how the lively and foolish guenons had managed to procure their headdresses, gloves, shoes, shawls, and robes. Every one can guess that they had much the same title to them as their husbands and lovers had to the officers’ coats and straw-coloured gloves—in other words, they had stolen them from the wives and daughters of the English officers.

Let me now continue my description of the ball, and yield my meed of praise to an innovation worthy of introduction on the other side of the equator, and of being naturalised in Europe, either at Vienna, Madrid, London, or Paris. Many of these charming monkeys danced with pink, green, orange, or blue parasols, which they held open over[94] the heads of their partners with a certain coquetry of attitude and movement that was perfectly irresistible. I shall never forget the parasol polka, which I still think worthy of European adoption. My only fear is that on its subsequent introduction to New York, where, as we all know, every fashion is pushed to excess, they would go from parasols to umbrellas, which would not look anything like so graceful.

It was in the midst of this brilliant crowd that I suddenly caught sight of Karabouffi the First offering his arm to Saïmira—to the beautiful and interesting Saïmira—who was trembling all over with fear at being thus made an exhibition of in public. I pitied the poor chimpanzee, who had evidently been torn apart from the loving Mococo by the detestable Karabouffi. Karabouffi regarded her as his own. But Saïmira was not one of those miserable creatures who, in order to wear a few pearls on their foreheads and a piece of velvet over their shoulders, sell their youth and beauty, their lips and heart, when they have already given their heart to another. And I could see that although she was present in all her youth and charms, her thoughts were wandering around the iron cage, the prison bars of the unfortunate Mococo.

Among these swarms of she-monkeys I recognised several who had formerly belonged to my menagerie at Macao. I recollected having taught them to march like grenadiers, to shake hands vigorously with me, to wear petticoats, so ample and round that one was often tempted to take them by the head and shake them like bells, for they looked so much like them; to smoke cigarettes both of a morning and evening, the smoke of which they would emit through their noses as the Spanish smugglers are in the habit of doing; and to wear little pork-pie hats stuck on the top of their heads. I had also taught them to dance, throwing their bodies forward and from side to side, to salute with rude familiarity, to use a fan artfully, and to represent among themselves scenes from pantomimes.[95] I had hardly done wrong in making them so different from others of their species, since in comparison with these they were true actresses. When monkeys of this class are young, they generally have no talent; when they come to possess talent, they no longer have any beauty. Thus those whom I recognised at this soirée were for the most part old and broken down; some were even toothless; still this did not prevent their being a thousand times more sought after, a thousand times more flattered, than their youthful companions, and this by the most handsome and seductive cavaliers. There was no kind of respectful attention, delicate officiousness, or demonstrative weakness which they did not exhibit towards them. One unfastened his gold chain and put it over the wrinkled neck of one of these parchment-looking ladies; another threw his whole soul into the look which he darted at the desolate breast of one of his companions. What a pity! This elegant sapajou, young, agreeable, and well made, who even passed for the son of Karabouffi’s prime minister, was dying with love, the idiot! at the feet—at the big feet, too—of an insignificant-looking monkey with a pug nose, and as yellow and shrivelled as any Egyptian mummy. All this was absurd enough, still no one will pretend to say that the same kind of ridiculous fooleries are not constantly indulged in by people moving in the most refined society. I cannot, therefore, venture in this particular respect to exalt my own species high above these poor apes, deprived, as we know them to be, of the light of reason. As it is quite certain that they will never read these lines, I do not hesitate to give, in passing, this little lesson in modesty to readers of my own species, to the end that our pride should not accustom us always to consider ourselves superior in every respect to the rest of Nature’s creatures.

If the reader is astonished at the repose which I was permitted to enjoy after the perilous adventures through which I had passed, he would utterly misunderstand one peculiar[96] characteristic of this fantastic race into whose power my ill-luck had thrown me. It has the faculty of remembering or forgetting things with the swiftness of electricity. I have been too often witness of this strange reaction. At the very moment that one of these animals rushes forward to attack you, he will frequently stop short to scratch his ear or to walk with stealthy feet behind an ant or a fly. At other times, when you believe him to be intently watching the movements of a fly, he will throw himself roughly upon you, and tear your face. Such is the ape.

This period of calm, at which I confess I was myself astonished, was broken in the following manner:—I have said that there was a guitar and an accordion in the room where these animals were dancing. At a sign from Karabouffi they invited me to take part in a trio which was thus organised:—A guenon seated herself at the piano, a sapajou took possession of the accordion, and I was offered the guitar. As I hesitated to acknowledge this complaisance on their part in a becoming manner—pride we all know is incorrigible—I received on the top of my head such a brutal blow with the back of the instrument disdainfully refused by me, that for the moment I believed myself killed, and for three days afterwards I was tormented with an insupportable singing in the ears. Of course I required no further pressing. I knew immediately how to play the guitar, and proceeded to take part in the trio; and what a trio it was! Nevertheless, on listening attentively, one discovered—at a great depth, it is true—the elements of primitive music among these creatures of Oceania. If I had had sufficient self-possession to take down that air, it would have figured by this time at the concerts of the Conservatoire de Paris and of the London Philharmonic Society, as a specimen of lyrical and religious sentiment amongst a savage race at the moment they see the Father of Nature, the sun, begin to rise.

The reader will perceive from this incident how very[97] necessary it was for me to be quite certain of the precise dispositions of these furious fools, bent upon maltreating me; who pursued their persecutions in a spirit of diabolical calculation, and were bent upon imposing on me the humiliating obligation of doing as a man all that I had formerly made them do as apes. I had made them play the violin in public when they were with me: they compelled me to strum the guitar now that I was their prisoner. I had forced them to dance on the tight-rope, and to climb to the top of a pole: they brought a pole, and commanded me in the most imperious way, by signs which I could not fail to understand, to commence ascending it.

A cold sweat ran down my forehead, although the ball-room was frightfully hot, at the bare idea of the brutish part I was condemned to perform—to amuse apes—I, one of the first citizens of Macao, the descendant of an honourable Portuguese family, and who had been baptised in the church of St. Philip the Elder! The pole was placed in the centre of the apartment, and to sustain it in a perpendicular position thirty quadrumana of three different heights arranged themselves in a very ingenious manner, which I am about to explain.

The smallest, after all having seated themselves on the ground, held the pole, fixed upright in their midst; those of intermediate height grasped the pole with their hands a few inches above, keeping their feet firmly planted on the ground about a yard off; the tallest, and these were ourang-outangs and mandrills, threw their gigantic arms above the arms of the others, and their legs, which were to serve as props, beyond the legs of the lower ranks. It was, in fact, a kind of wheel, formed of sinewy legs and shoulders pressed one against another, and arms of steel, of which the axis was the pole, rising up before me, uncommonly like a gibbet.

A glance which Karabouffi directed towards me enjoined me a second time to climb this pole. As I was balancing[98] myself and preparing to swing over this living pedestal, in order to grasp it firmly within my arms, a mangabey, a giant nearly seven feet high, stiffened his long tail, and by way of incentive struck me with it two smart blows, one on the back and the other on the legs. These had the desired effect, for, bursting with rage, I bounded forward and commenced climbing.

What shall I say with regard to my performance? In spite of my utmost efforts I could not raise myself even half-way up the pole. Unaccustomed as I might have been to this kind of exercise, I must nevertheless confess that I failed most disgracefully. I tugged, I slipped, I tried anew, I slipped again; fresh efforts only caused a still further descent, and, what took the heart quite out of me, I was all the while subjected to undisguised expressions of disapprobation on the part of the audience. They murmured here, they grunted there, they were hissing everywhere. What a revenge these wretches took! It was quite true that I had thrashed them when they climbed awkwardly at Macao, and that I used to laugh at them after having beaten them; still, after all, I was a man possessed of the double light of reason and faith, whilst they were unintelligent beings. But did this give me the right of coercing, insulting, and thrashing them whenever I felt so disposed? My efforts to climb the pole had resulted in certain bruises to my frame, and in tearing my trousers and coat-sleeves—already sufficiently tried in the various turns of fortune they had undergone—almost to tatters. How could I manage to renew them in the destitute condition in which I was? For this moment, however, my skin demanded more of my solicitude than my clothes did, and, in truth, I only turned my attention to these when the incident of my climbing efforts was pretty nigh forgotten.

I never arrived at the upper half of the pole. Probably I should still be occupied with my hopeless task but for a[99] lucky accident which put an end to my ridiculous punishment. Too weak apparently to support the weight of my body at the point to which I had managed to drag myself after unheard-of efforts, the confounded pole snapped asunder and I fell into the arena, bruised with my fall and crushed by the mockeries with which I was overwhelmed. Here I lay stunned, motionless, and degraded, in the midst of an unpitying and jeering crowd.

When I recovered myself, had it not been for the encouraging look which Saïmira—who I could see was occupied with the project of rescuing me from my present frightful position—I should have been tempted to have blown out my brains with my pistols and so made an end of it. But Saïmira was the cause of my resisting the temptation.

Ere, however, she found the means of saving me, I was called upon to perform a new interlude at this brilliant soirée.

I was aroused from the reverie into which I had fallen by a blow like that which had compelled me, in spite of myself, to make an attempt to climb the pole. Only the stiff and sinewy tail of the mandrill struck me this time somewhat more tenderly. He only wished to arouse me, I fancy. On looking up I saw before me one of my new masters—I had now become their creature as completely as they had formerly been creatures of mine—comically scratching his thigh, describing in the air joyous capers, thrusting out his tongue at me in a mocking way, whirling about on his head with his legs spread out like a fork—going through, in fact, a thousand grimaces and contortions such as I had taught my apes to practise at Macao. After some minutes of this performance, which appeared to be rather for my benefit than for that of the other spectators, he suddenly stopped, looked at me with signs of impatience, and waited. But what could he possibly expect from me? A second blow from that vital cord which formed the termination of the mandrill’s back warned me[100] that what was expected from me was nothing less than a public exhibition of my tumbling accomplishments similar to those which he had deigned to display before me. What proved to me that I was not mistaken in my idea was, that having attempted at all hazards a timid somersault, the mandrill’s tail rose and fell without striking me. I had, then, perfectly comprehended him, and all that now remained for me to do was to perform before the company: I had merely to copy the grimaces and contortions which I had just witnessed, that was all. Alas! what misery the vanquished are called upon to endure! Could human degradation sink below this? To be obliged to imitate an ape! The colour rose to my face. I commenced my performance; but who can tell what I endured? Every time that my manly dignity checked me in the midst of a somersault, at that very same instant the sinewy tail of the mandrill caught me a blow in the face. Courage, Polydorus! courage! Indeed I had need of all I possessed. I jumped through hoops, danced the Pyrrhic dance, and imitated the movements of a dancing bear; saluted the gentlemen, and blew kisses to the ladies; finally, I went round, hat in hand, and asked, according to custom, some money from the company.

I was almost dead from fatigue and moral prostration when an uproar louder than any I had previously heard burst forth in the saloon. In a minute the apartment was half emptied: the apes that remained watching me soon followed the example of their fellows. What could possibly have happened? Karabouffi, whom I recognised in the obscurity of the verandah courtyard, appeared to be at the head of this great movement.

It was to the excellent Saïmira that I owed this diversion, and to whom I was, moreover, indebted to my not dying of suffering and shame during that terrible night.

This is how she managed to deliver me from my tormentors. By an affected coquetry she aroused Karabouffi’s[101] jealousy so thoroughly, that, exasperated and furious, he dragged her from the saloon, when, as a matter of course, he was accompanied in his exit by his entire court.

In a word, I was left alone.

This unhoped-for respite inspired me with a project which I proceeded to put in execution with the promptitude of despair.



I barricade myself in.—I am besieged.—The verandah becomes a fort.—What I discover at the end of a forgotten room.—Lord Campbell’s journal.—What this journal says.—The Malay pirates and the Sultan of Sooloo.—Three hundred junks.—A formidable hunt.—Death of a mysterious and colossal mandrill.—Explanation of the white skeleton.—Torture of a man compelled to drink nothing but excellent old wine.—A poignard stuck in the sand.—The last fête at the station.—How it terminates.—End of an unfinished journal.

I have already remarked that the destruction, which was in other respects general, had not extended to the range of apartments which opened to the cool air of the verandah, and the vast kitchens where I had discovered such a large stock of provisions. As soon as I found myself alone I hastened to shut the three doors of the arcades of the reception-room, and I moreover barricaded them securely. This was a good thing done. In less than ten minutes after the miraculous departure of these cruel wretches I was securely fortified against all their attacks. Firearms, and perhaps cannon even, were necessary to dislodge me. And I had plenty of provisions!

I passed the rest of the night as tranquilly as I was accustomed to do in my house at Macao—so tranquilly, in fact, that I believe I must have slept several days.

At the end of this indeterminable time, during which I[103] was absorbed, as it were, by a sleep of lead, my first thought on awaking in a calmer frame of mind than I had known for some time past was to make myself perfectly conversant with my situation. I had no difficulty in coming to the conclusion that so long as I was destined to remain on this island I should be exposed to a perpetual vengeance worse than death at the hands of my tormentors. At present I believed myself to be perfectly secure, but if I dared to venture forth I should, of course, become the object of renewed attacks.

Occupied with these thoughts, I proceeded to examine the retreat in which I had intrenched myself, to see whether I had left any point of attack accessible to my crafty foes. First of all I assured myself that the three doors of the saloon and the door of the kitchen would resist their united malice. They were of heart of oak and teak, the hardest of all woods; and the locks, admirable examples of English manufacture, added much to the security of my defence. The lower portion of the fortress might, therefore, be considered impregnable.

But these doors once closed, light penetrated to the ground-floor only by a little Moorish bell-tower belonging to the upper story. It was necessary, therefore, for me, as I dared not open the doors, to pass my days in the second story; at night I could descend, if I pleased, to the lower rooms.

Not having the slightest idea of the arrangement of this upper story, I proceeded there at once; a spiral staircase, constructed in the thickness of the wall, led to it. Once arrived there, I could see that the apartments composing it had been kept in remarkable order by the former occupiers. One was unquestionably Vice-Admiral Campbell’s study. The walls were hidden behind a row of boxes which assuredly contained papers of great importance. I thought as much simply because I had no knowledge whatever of the matter.

Before proceeding any farther in my researches I approached the windows of the bell-tower, which were filled with[104] transparent horn from China, through which one can see without being seen. I at once directed my eyes to the courtyard of the verandah. The reader will understand this was overlooked by the Moorish belfry, from which I moreover had a view of the woods and garden plots outside the courtyard. But what did I see on glancing around? Why, my indefatigable enemies all posted on guard from one point to another, on all the heights, on the branches of the trees, on every knoll of ground, watching to see whether I would venture to leave my retreat, or even if I would show myself at some opening where, on signalling me, they could commence their attack in a regular manner.

All were armed with bamboos and sticks of an enormous size. It was a silent siege of an enemy, invisible behind his lines of defence. To climb up to that story, the loftiness of which defied their malice, was to them a real impossibility, and it was none the less an impossibility for them to burst open the barricaded doors, which were placed between their rage and me.

Thus reassured on all sides, I proceeded to resume my investigations of the Vice-Admiral Campbell’s apartments.

I was delighted to find in the remotest room—that in which I commenced my inspection—a small collection of books on travels, consisting of the most esteemed works on Japan, Tartary, China, New Guinea, New South Wales, and the islands of Oceania, from Marco Polo to Dumont d’Urville. Most of these useful works had the admiral’s crest and initials on the corner. I felt certain that they had been removed from the library of the frigate Halcyon, and had evidently been placed temporarily in this room that the officers might have recourse to them during their sojourn on land. It is scarcely possible to imagine what an inestimable treasure these books were to me. I was seized with a most impatient desire to consult these works. Perhaps by reading them and consulting the valuable maps which they contained[105] I might learn on what island I had been thrown by my shipwreck. I had already placed my hand on the travels of the celebrated Spanish navigator who gave his glorious name to the group of islands called Mindanao, which are mostly peopled by Malay pirates, even to the present day, when my attention was diverted by a volume lying on the study table. I opened it and found it was a manuscript. A sense of discretion warned me to close it, but having read in large letters on the first page, “Personal and private journal of Vice-Admiral Campbell, commanding the English forces in Oceania,” I opened it anew with an irresistible curiosity, and I may add with a very good reason, since I foresaw all the information I was going to derive from it.

“Having left Macao towards the end of the month of July, 1849,” observed the admiral in the opening lines of his journal, “I established my station during the following six months—that is to say, till the month of January, 1850—at times among the Luzon islands and at others among the group of Philippines, taking care, however, not to neglect some precautionary visits to the archipelago of Sooloo, that seemingly imperishable nest of pirates.

“The purely nautical events which have taken place during these six months of my cruise among the different islets having been noted day by day and nearly hour by hour in the ship’s log-book, I propose to insert in this private journal a few notes which it is my intention to transmit to the Admiralty on the first opportunity that offers.

“The notes to which I refer are as follows,” was the next line in the journal which I had under my eyes.

My attention increased—I continued to read without missing a single letter.

“It is demonstrated to me as clear as a geometrical theorem that at this moment the naval forces of England, Holland, and Spain assembled in Oceania are insufficient, each for a different reason, to resist the ever-increasing[106] audacity of the pirates spread over the seas of this part of the world.

“The Spanish forces are a derision, and they would really be exterminated in a few months by the pirates but for the assistance which they never cease to ask from those of England.

“The naval forces of Holland, which are in truth much more considerable, scarcely ever leave the shores of Sumatra, Java, and some points of Borneo, under the pretext, plausible enough but not on that account the less selfish, that their duty above all things is to watch the safety of their own colonies.

“There remain our English naval forces.

“As we also are under the necessity of displaying great vigilance with respect to our own colonies, and as we have, moreover, as I have already mentioned, to render constant assistance to the secondary maritime powers, such as Holland, Spain, and Portugal, it becomes more and more evident that we contend but indifferently at present against the depredations, pillagings, and descents, incendiary fires and barbarous murders, of which the incorrigible Malay pirates are constantly guilty.

“On the other hand, the power of these unconquerable corsairs increasing from year to year, their flotillas have become fleets; their barques, prahs, and junks are now almost frigates; their sailors have never ceased to be the most energetic on the face of the earth.

“In view of this state of things I conceive it is of the utmost importance that the number of our war-vessels in these unceasingly-threatened seas should be largely increased, or we shall very shortly be placed in a position of serious peril.

“It is my duty to warn the Admiralty of all these things, which concern in the highest degree the security of the various fine colonies which England possesses in Australia and Oceania in general.


“Whilst awaiting the reinforcements which the Admiralty will, without doubt, consider it necessary to send me, I have thought the best course for me to follow was to establish myself in the very centre of the Malayan piracy, in order to watch its progress and to study its resources, that I may be enabled to annihilate it by some sure blow when I should have at my command the means of action, which are at present wanting.

“I have chosen for my post of observation an island situated among the hundred and fifty or two hundred isles of which the well-known archipelago of Sooloo is composed.”

Sooloo! Surprise and fright made me stop. Sooloo, the nest of sea-sharks, birds of prey hovering unceasingly over the vessels of all nations! I was on an island of the archipelago of Sooloo!

It took me nearly a quarter of an hour to recover from the agitation into which this discovery had thrown me.

And it was under the influence of the henceforth unconquerable idea that I was living in the very midst of this nest of savage bandits that I recommenced the reading of the journal.

“Having referred above,” continued Vice-Admiral Campbell, “to my log-book for the purely nautical circumstances of the first six months of my cruise, I intend to confine myself to such incidents as may arise from the present time up to the day of my leaving this island, where I have now been nearly a fortnight. It is now the 15th of January, 1850.

“After having brought the Halcyon to an anchorage, so well sheltered by the woody shores of the island that it is impossible to perceive the frigate a hundred fathoms from the beach, and having given it in charge to a sufficient number of sailors commanded by one of my best officers, I landed on the island with the larger portion of the crew and immediately took possession of it.

“This island is called by the small number of aborigines[108] that I found upon it Kouparou, which signifies in the Malay tongue the island of sleeping fire or of the dead volcano.

“These aborigines are Tagals, the most ancient inhabitants of Malaya, but they have been driven from every part by the Malays. They are a mild race, devoted to Europeans, and possessing some of the instincts of our advanced civilisation.

“By means of these Tagals, who have the same customs as the Malays, although they do not like one another in the least, and whom I think of sending as spies into all the islands of the archipelago of Sooloo, I should become acquainted with all that was being done and meditated in these arsenals of piracy.

“From six months of such study on the spot more would be learnt than could possibly be acquired during any number of years engaged in sailing in and out the islands of the archipelago.

“I gave orders to have all the portable houses which I had had constructed at Calcutta unshipped and placed in position.

“Ten or fifteen days were occupied in this work, at the expiration of which time we installed ourselves in the houses, which for all the world resembled a village of Sumatra.

“The aborigines seemed very pleased at our arrival, and I have considered the moment a favourable one for the execution of my project. I therefore chose from the Tagals those on whom I thought I could most rely, and sent them in their fishing-boats to the neighbouring isles, in order that on their return they might furnish me with conscientious reports concerning the prospects and projects of piracy.

“This expedition, which required twenty days’ preparation, set sail on the 21st of February. The aborigines whom I have retained are indispensable for the cultivation of the island. From them we look to learn all about its topography and natural resources.


“The soil of Kouparou is evidently very fertile; flowers and fruit are seen in abundance, and the covers positively swarm with game! Save for the apes, with which the island swarms, Kouparou would be a garden in the midst of the ocean. But those apes utterly destroy the charm of the spot. They increase, too, like flies.”

“Hallo!” I exclaimed to myself, “why the vice-admiral has also been in contact with these terrible animals. But how did this happen? If he has been assailed, beaten, and almost murdered like I have been, what, in goodness’ name, did he do?” But let us continue.

“My Tagals returned after a month’s absence, and the information which they brought back with them concerning the contemplated proceedings of the pirates was of the highest importance, and likely to be of very great service to me. All their reports, without exception, announce that a vast expedition of Malay pirates is preparing in the isle of Brassilan, the capital of the archipelago of Sooloo, and where the Sultan of Sooloo himself resided.

“The pirates proposed to leave this port, and the ports of Besvan, Taouitaoui, and Palawan, with a fleet of at least three hundred junks, to cross the straits of Mindanao and Celebes, in order to seize all the English, Dutch, Spanish, or Portuguese merchant ships proceeding to China during the year. The time of their departure is kept so secret that none of my faithful Tagals have been able to discover it for me. But from the knowledge which I possess of the particular winds which are required to allow of their leaving the archipelago of Sooloo to proceed in the course they have planned to the sea-coast of Asia, I think that my pirates will not set sail until the end of June—that is to say, in three months from the present time. At this period the Halcyon will leave her hidden anchorage, and joining with the other vessels on the station, will proceed in search of the pirate fleet which if we are fortunate enough to encounter we will lose no time in[110] measuring our strength with these myriads of bold and unscrupulous robbers. The struggle will be a warm one; but I am aware that I can only count on my own forces. At the period to which I refer the reinforcements which I have asked from England will, in all probability, not have arrived. In this case we must try alone! God, I know, will be with us, and we shall do very well with His aid.

“In the meanwhile my Tagals are about to return to Sooloo, Besvan, and the other points of rendezvous, so as to keep me well informed with reference to the forthcoming great event.

“But here we are installed in Kouparou. My officers and their families are enjoying the best of health in the wooden houses surrounded with palm-trees. My verandah would compare for elegance with those of Madras and Cananor.

“We want for nothing, and our amusements are numerous. The weather is delicious; I have never seen a finer April, even in Australia.

“I am about to set out on a swan-hunt; but I am very much afraid of only bringing back apes instead of swans, as I did on the last occasion. They are everywhere! They are so numerous, in fact, that I am almost certain in firing off a gun at hazard, above my head, to bring down an ape.

“I have never seen them so savage before; those which I brought with me from Macao are perfectly civilised beings compared with the apes which we encounter here.”

“Worthy admiral!” I exclaimed, “he remembers the purchases which he made of me at Macao. What a remembrance! Macao! Macao! Shall I ever see you again?”

Let us continue his interesting journal.

“I have returned from the chase, bringing back with me my baboon Karabouffi. Wishing to amuse this big stupid ape, who is dying of ennui, although he has numbers of his compatriots around him, I let him accompany me on my expedition. A foolish melancholy seems to have taken possession[111] of him, because the beautiful chimpanzee Saïmira, who is passionately attached to her lover Mococo, refuses to receive his attentions.”

“Alas!” said I to myself—“alas! if the vice-admiral could only see Mococo now!”

“I may here note,” continues Admiral Campbell, “that there occurred during this chase an extraordinary incident which is deserving of a place in my journal.

“In the midst of a large wood of pandanus and mimosas, into which I had wandered with Karabouffi, I suddenly saw advancing towards me, stick in hand, which he carried like a sceptre, a gigantic mandrill, black as a Kaffir, and followed by a troop of apes, among which were numerous vervets, who seemed to form a kind of court for him, they were so respectful in their bearing towards him.

“Karabouffi, generally so proud and fearless, trembled with terror on beholding this gigantic mandrill. He had recognised in him a master, and consequently an enemy. He positively shuddered, then he came close up to me, as if to solicit my protection, all the time, however, showing in his eyes, which were lit up with rage, the pleasure he would feel in tearing him to pieces. As I was on the point of taking aim at the colossal mandrill he rushed upon Karabouffi, and the struggle which raged between the two animals was certainly a superb one. It was evident from the courage and ferocity which they both exhibited that they were the representatives of two profoundly antipathetic races. Karabouffi was visibly getting the worst of the encounter, for the mandrill was strong enough to tackle three baboons such as he. So at the risk of being slaughtered if I missed my mark, I profited by the moment when the mandrill retired a few paces to take a spring, and sent a bullet through his head. He fell, uttering the most frightful groans, which had in them something of a man’s plaintive cry. Karabouffi was triumphant. I believed that he would have strangled[112] me in his excess of joy. As to the apes that accompanied the black mandrill, they immediately dispersed, which would not have been the case had they been of a more powerful species. I should assuredly have had to defend myself against their vindictive attacks, but the greater part of them were vervets, the most gentle and inoffensive of the quadrumanous family. Nevertheless, at the moment of their flight, they cast at Karabouffi looks which made him quiver. It would have been hard times for him if he had fallen under their claws. I shall have this monster mandrill skinned, and shall dry his skin and bones in the sun, and offer them to the British Museum.”

“Ah!” said I to myself, “this is the explanation of the skeleton which I found hanging to a tree during the first days of my sojourn in this island. It must have been that of the mandrill killed by Admiral Campbell.” My only regret—and it may well be believed this was sincere—was that he had not killed Karabouffi number one in preference to the mandrill.

“From what I have heard of the habits of these particular animals, coupled with my own observations of them,” continued the admiral in his journal, “I am of the opinion that the mandrill killed by me exercised authority over this island before the Tagals, who do not seem to have occupied it long, arrived here.

“On my return from this expedition, in accordance with my usual habit, I placed my gun in the armoury.”

His gun in the armoury! I rose precipitately from my seat on seeing this, and ran and opened several cupboards. At last I hit upon the right one, which I found contained not only some fine fowling-pieces, but also a large quantity of powder, and bullets of all sizes. Let my persecutors come now! I am ready for them; I have something to receive them with, thought I. In my transport I rushed to the window, so as to defy them face to face. They were still in the same places and in the same attitudes of hostility. Only they were far more numerous.


I did not proceed any further with the reading of the journal that day. I had ample materials for reflection; moreover, I still felt fatigued with the exertions of the preceding evening. After having promised myself to resume my perusal of the journal the first thing the next day, I resolved to go and have my dinner.

My second repast off the preserved meats of the station was one of the best I have ever partaken of. While choosing the things most agreeable to my taste, I had ample opportunity of noting the extent and variety of my stores, and saw that I had plenty to depend on whatever time I might be forced to live in the state of imprisonment in which circumstances had placed me. Hampers upon hampers of wine offered me a choice of the best vintages of Spain, Portugal, and the south of France. Vice-Admiral Campbell was evidently a connoisseur in wine. Perhaps the wines which he was in the habit of drinking were somewhat too alcoholic; still the English, as we all know, are fond of strong wines. I tasted several bottles, too many bottles in fact, since finding my throat parched by the fiery heat of these generous wines, I longed for a draught of water, but could discover none. They would surely have sunk a well, thought I, in the large apartment of which I have already spoken, for the admiral’s use; but I was mistaken—the admiral does not seem to have cared for so insipid a beverage.

I had no alternative, therefore, but to continue to drink, during my dinner, a fluid which was somewhat too heating. My sleep, although my tongue was rather dry, was sound and refreshing. No saddening dream disturbed my rest, and at some early hour in the morning, precisely as I had arranged in the projects of the preceding day, I found myself awake. I immediately mounted the narrow staircase leading to the admiral’s study. The staircase, I ought to have mentioned, was hidden in the wall, and so well hidden, indeed, that it was solely owing to this the barbarous devastators of the other[114] houses of the station had not pillaged and ransacked this room.

Before sitting down to continue my perusal of the journal I betook myself to the bell-tower to see what was going on around the place. The examination was anything but a very reassuring one. Various changes had taken place, and these were among them. Every member of the besieging force had, in addition to his stick, a little heap of stones beside him, which he had piled up with as much care as is bestowed on the cannon-balls in our arsenals. What did they intend to do with these missiles? Stones are very rare things in an island where sand abounds. It is, indeed, a positive event to meet with a stone, except on the sea-shore, or on the banks of some lake, such as had furnished me with a handful when I was endeavouring to knock down some fruit. Time would, no doubt, teach me how my enemies proposed to apply these new engines of war; at present the affair was an enigma—an enigma, moreover, of bad augury.

At length I seated myself, and opening Admiral Campbell’s journal, read the following:—

“My Tagals departed anew ten days ago; I have desired them to endeavour to ascertain more exactly than they have yet been able to do the precise date of the departure of the Malay fleet for the north of Asia, and to discover, so far as they can, the part which the Sultan of Sooloo, himself our doubtful ally, takes in this expedition—whether he encourages it, tolerates it, or is not powerful enough to prevent it.

“While awaiting the return of my Tagals, I occupied myself with studying the geology of Kouparou. The island is evidently of recent formation. The extinct volcano is still working at a moderate depth, since streams of water of a high degree of temperature are constantly upheaving the bed of lava which surrounds its base.

“If I succeed in prevailing on the Admiralty to make a permanent station of Kouparou I shall ask, before all things,[115] that the island may be purged of the intolerable herd of apes, with which it is now infested, by a regular hunt of several months’ duration; in the same way as our ancestors formerly got rid of wolves in England.”

“What an admirable project!” I exclaimed, “and if Admiral Campbell had only had time to put it into execution, I should not be where I am.”

“Here we are at the end of May,” pursued the journal, several dates of which I pass over as of no importance to my story; “nearly two months have elapsed since the second departure of my devoted Tagals, and I have had no news from them. They do not like, I suppose, to return to Kouparou without bringing with them certain information of the time fixed for the departure of the pirate fleet.

“I can only ascribe to a more than ordinarily lively imagination,” observed the vice-admiral, further on, “the remark made this morning by Mr. Dawson, my secretary, to the effect that he thought he saw last night some scattered fires burning on the sea-shore, such as are generally kindled by the fishermen and pirates of these coasts. After all, although Kouparou is very difficult to approach, and of course still more difficult to effect a landing upon, in the midst of the reefs which form a belt round it to a distance of eight leagues, it is not by any means impossible that fishermen, castaways, or even pirates, may have lighted some fires such as Mr. Dawson believed he saw. Should they have done so, they will most likely depart on the morrow, believing the island to be uninhabited, like the greater number of those which form the vast archipelago of Sooloo. All I have to say is, ‘Joy go with them.’

“To-day, Mr. Dawson, after having gone over to that part of the beach where he thought he saw the smoke ascending last evening, has been to tell me that he must have been deceived. He saw no footprints in the sand, nor any remains of burnt wood anywhere near the shore. He admits it must have been an illusion on his part; I felt sure of it.


“To-morrow, the first of June, I have arranged to give a grand fête here, in my cool verandah, to the officers of the Halcyon and their families. It will be an agreeable relief to the monotonous sort of lives we have been leading during the past two months.

“I have this moment had brought to me a long poignard, found by one of our sailors, plunged in the sand on the shore opposite that which Mr. Dawson examined this morning. What can it possibly portend?

“A saw-poignard, and with teeth of the Malay form; in other words, a crees, since this is the name which the brigands of Oceania give to this murderous and nearly always poisonous weapon. Dawson, who is as superstitious as an Irishman can be, indulged in a variety of comments. The sailor who found the crees could give us no additional information respecting it.”

“Yes”—I asked in my turn of the journal which I had beneath my questioning gaze—“yes, what did this poignard portend? Whence did it come? Why had it been stuck by its point in the sand?”

Admiral Campbell did not say another word respecting it, but passed from it to his fête, which was evidently the thing uppermost in his mind at this moment.

“As the weather is magnificently fine,” he went on to say, “I have arranged for us to dine in the verandah court, and we shall in this case remain at table till the time arrives for opening the ball; we shall then proceed to the great gallery, where dancing will commence. I certainly owe to my brave officers and their families such amusements as I am able to furnish them with, to repay them for the fatigues and annoyances they have experienced during the six months which have elapsed since we left Macao, although latterly our discomforts have certainly been fewer than usual. I trust that everything will go off satisfactorily, and that these gentlemen and their excellent helpmates will have cause to thank me to-morrow[117] for the agreeable entertainment I have provided for them.

“But for the inquietude, becoming every day more serious, which the prolonged absence of my good Tagals causes me, I should be perfectly happy in this altogether unknown and nearly desert island. Can some misfortune have overtaken them? What if these Malays have suspected the motive of their visit? But no; my faithful envoys, a little slow, as all primitive people are, will arrive to-morrow, perhaps this evening.”

The page containing the foregoing was complete. I eagerly turned over a new leaf to commence the following one, but there was not another line to be seen, not a trace of writing on the page. The admiral’s journal, which I hoped would extend to another fifty pages at least, suddenly ended there. Eh! not a word respecting the fête! Not a word more on the poignard stuck by its point in the sand! Not a word about the return of the Tagals! Good Heaven, what sudden misfortune could have crushed the pen and the noble hand which held it? But what about the Malay pirates and their fleet? And what about the Halcyon? Nothing! absolutely nothing! A sinister blank followed the last line penned by the worthy vice-admiral. What had happened to the colony of Kouparou, and to the admiral himself, since this last entry in his journal? There was no one to answer me. When there was not silence there was desolation, houses partially destroyed, and their contents turned topsy-turvy; savage and vindictive animals wearing, as though with the raillery of a low vengeance, the habiliments of the gallant officers of a noble vessel belonging to the most powerful nation in the world.



A hundred bottles of champagne not worth a glass of water.—My clothes leave me.—I commence the combat.—Great fight of a man against an island full of apes.—The verandah about to fall.—It does not last any longer.—A skin saves me.

For the remainder of the day my haggard eyes, reflecting my troubled mind, hovered over the last lines of this journal, which I pictured to myself as terminating in a description of a fête and a general massacre. But who could have committed this massacre? Hardly the Malays, for they stay to plunder, and there had evidently been no pillage of the station. The only other supposition which flashed across my mind seemed a great deal too absurd to be seriously entertained—no, I could not believe that a conspiracy of apes, although my life depended upon them at the present moment, could have been guilty of so atrocious a crime.

Night came, and it was positively hideous to me with nightmares, hallucinations, and sudden shocks of alarm, which awoke me out of my sleep. By daylight, when I became a little less agitated, I said to myself that if all the people belonging to the station had been assassinated in some mysterious way, I should at least have come across their remains, since, according to my calculations, it was now July, and the journal[119] finished in June, so that a month had elapsed since this outrage was committed.

This very reasonable idea having entered my head, I considered over the facts mentioned in Lord Campbell’s journal, and arrived step by step at the following conclusions:—

The Tagal spies must have let their secret escape or allowed it to be guessed on the occasion of their first voyage to Sooloo.

The Malay pirates, finding their plans discovered, would not allow the Tagals to return to Kouparou after their second voyage. They would have flayed Admiral Campbell’s unfortunate spies alive, or would perhaps have eaten them, since the Malays are somewhat inclined to cannibalism.

After having eaten the Tagals, the Malays, whose vengeance never halts by the way, would have made a first descent by night on the island of Kouparou, which would explain the distant fires seen by Mr. Dawson, Lord Campbell’s secretary.

The poignard stuck in the sand was the symbolical menace addressed by the pirates to the sailors of the station, advising them, by this figurative but most expressive warning, that they would return and either poignard them or make themselves masters of them in some way or other.

They had actually returned, and the moment of their descent must have been at the time the fête given to the officers of the Halcyon by Vice-Admiral Campbell was taking place.

The pirates had, in all probability, succeeded in capturing all the officers and sailors whom they found on the island itself; they would next have attacked the Halcyon, when resistance would have been for the most part impossible, as nearly all the crew would have been on shore. They would then have taken the ship with all their prisoners to Sooloo, or to some other port of the archipelago known by this name.

The descent, the surprise, and the carrying of the prisoners off had occurred in the midst of the banquet which was to[120] have preceded the ball, and from this in all probability arose the disorder and confusion remarked by me in the courtyard of the verandah on the day I first entered it.

The pirates and their prisoners departed, the apes, those millions of apes, of whom Admiral Campbell complained so bitterly in his journal, would have taken possession of the officers’ apartments, and profiting by the spoils left so unaccountably by the pirates, would have proceeded to dress themselves in the uniforms which the unfortunate officers and sailors of the Halcyon had not time or opportunity to take with them.

Lastly, not allowing the logical thread which I held as it were between my fingers to break for a single instant, I proceeded from all these incontestable inferences to this certain conclusion—namely, that in the island of Kouparou apes of a certain superior species had formerly possessed the sovereignty; that these apes had been dispossessed by the Tagals; that the Tagals had been sent to the right about by the English; that the English had been expelled by the Malay pirates; that the Malay pirates in their turn had just been dispossessed of it, if not by force, at least in fact, by the apes, to whom had returned again the sovereign authority over the island of Kouparou—a lot, indeed, which has befallen most of the islands of Oceania, many of which still attest by their ruins that they were formerly inhabited by people intelligent enough to cover these islands with handsome buildings, and who had afterwards to make room for a population of apes. Frightful revolution!

Plunged in the most gloomy reflections, after having thus pictured to myself the misfortunes which had happened to the English station of Kouparou, I quitted Admiral Campbell’s study, and descended to the lower apartments, resolved henceforth not to think seriously of a deliverance which I now felt to be impossible. “I shall live on in this tomb,” said I to myself, “so long as it pleases God to preserve me.” To dream[121] of leaving it was now one of those extravagant hopes which only spring from madness—watched, guarded, surrounded, menaced as I was by gaolers a thousand times more crafty and cruel than the Malay pirates. I re-examined all the doors; I barricaded them more efficiently, and decided not to behold the light of day any more, since I could no longer enjoy it without looking upon that sinister and menacing cordon of besiegers; I lighted some candles, and installed myself in these lower apartments as though it were for eternity.

After having examined my provisions, I believed in the possibility of spending at least three years in this vault without dying of hunger and thirst. But at the end of fifteen days of this existence, insipid and monotonous as sleep, I found myself exposed to an intolerable suffering produced by the exceptional kind of life which I was leading. But before I say anything further about this unforeseen calamity, I have to speak of another misery by which I was beset. My poor clothes, which had been in rags for a long time past through their owner’s tribulations, had one fine day the coolness to leave me entirely. As I had neither needle nor thread to draw the rags together again, I was obliged to resign myself to going about perfectly naked.

The inconvenience was great, for we had just entered on the season when the nights were damp and frequently as cold as they are in Europe, and I had nothing whatever to cover me. The apes had taken possession of every scrap of clothing and every vestige of drapery. Joined to the scantiness of my Adamite costume, this change in the temperature affected my health. I had excessive pains in the joints, accompanied by a low fever which would not leave me. The graver inconvenience of which I have to speak is this. I have already said that water was not abundant in the offices of the verandah. In the first few days the deprivation of this natural necessary affected me but little. I drank the different wines contained in the cases and hampers. These wines, as I have already[122] mentioned, were very powerful, and the necessity of quenching one’s thirst exclusively with these ardent liquids without the moderating admixture of water parched up my throat to that extent that I was always thirsty, and the more I drank the more thirsty I became. How could I appease this thirst? Ah! with how much delight I would have given a hundred bottles of champagne for a single glass of water! For an entire fortnight I endured this suffering, which became every hour more poignant; the crisis, however, was approaching; my tongue was as dry as a piece of leather, my eyes were swollen and bloodshot, my hands were burning with fever, my brain throbbed against my skull.

In my lucid moments I demonstrated to myself how very false our tastes are in our artificial life of civilisation. People in a certain position would never condescend to drink water, despised water, and yet partaking continuously for a fortnight of the best wines and rarest liquors had almost made me mad. Since this painful passage of my existence I have always had a religious respect for rivers, and I admire the Hindoos, who rightly regard the Ganges, my beautiful Indian river, as sacred.

With my blood heated by fever, and driven to extremities by suffering, I darted one day up the staircase which led to Admiral Campbell’s study, opened the cupboard containing the arms, and loaded the thirty fowling-pieces which I found there; I then carried them with the packets of ammunition to the bell-tower, where I proceeded to break two panes of glass in the turret, so as to make loopholes of them. This done, and vowing the death of my adversaries or else my own, I place myself in a position to open fire against those who prevent my obtaining water from the lake, the beautiful blue of which I could perceive in the distance.

But what an unexpected spectacle met my sight through the loopholes of my tower, which would become a redoubt in a few seconds’ time! I had left two or three thousand apes on the watch on the day when I descended from it, with the[123] intention of never again re-ascending. To-day they are increased to twenty thousand at the very least! But who could pretend to count them? As well try to count the insects swarming in the ocean of space on a summer’s evening under the line! A month ago the apes had gathered near them only some insignificant heaps of stones; now these heaps have increased to that enormous extent that they are perfect hills of projectiles, placed, too, so close to one another that they have raised, as it were, the field of battle and the camp of the besiegers to the highest point of the verandah. The bell-tower, which formerly overlooked everything, is now itself overlooked. Instead of being elevated above all around, it is depressed.

But no matter! I determine to open fire; and I do so, letting fly right into the midst of this mass of living creatures. I had loaded each gun with six small bullets, so that at the first fire I knock over an ourang-outang, a mandrill, and a baboon; what besides I know not. It was necessary that I should kill, and I do kill. I seize with a like frenzy another gun, and fire with the same result; I make gaps in their line twenty-four feet in extent. But at the moment when, drunk with my heroic slaughter, I am about to fire my third gun, a dense shower of stones descends on the front, sides, and indeed every part of the verandah. What a frightful row! The noise of this shower of stones mixed with handfuls of sand, and accompanied as it was by sneering grunts from foul mouths overflowing with abuse, is not possible to be rendered in words. To convey any idea of them it would be necessary to have the instruments themselves, to have rough steel files grating harshly against angles of granite. Amidst this horrible din the report of my guns even can be no longer heard. All that I am certain of, all that I can distinguish clearly, is that I keep on killing; I kill by twenties, by hundreds, in fact; but these twenties, these hundreds who utter their death-shriek and fall over, are immediately replaced.[124] The moment at last arrives when I am obliged to pause to reload my arms. But my adversaries do not pause! They simply redouble their fire. It is then I perceive that the great art of war is not a whit less familiar to animals than to men. Both alike have recourse to the most subtle ruses. For instance, at the very moment when I was about to give way, Karabouffi, till then hidden behind some trees, made his appearance, to give, as it were, a new inspiration to his troops. The great Condé used to rush forward and throw his marshal’s baton within Senef’s lines. Karabouffi, like the great French general, threw his baton of defiance through the air.

It caused my overthrow. The baboon’s stick was so well aimed that it entered like an arrow through the turret of the bell-tower, struck me, and sent me rolling to the bottom. My rage was unbounded.

Although somewhat dizzy from my fall, I nevertheless remounted as quickly as I had descended. But from this moment such a fearful storm of projectiles rained on the turret that it soon became unroofed. The four sides seemed as though they were about to fall. It was time vigorously to retake the offensive, and I do so. I recommence firing, although my face was lacerated, several of my teeth broken, my fingers literally flayed, and my breast bleeding. The reader has not forgotten that I was naked. Twenty times before night, which never before seemed to me so slow in coming, I reloaded my thirty guns. What desperate work! The greater part of them, however, were beginning to be no longer of any use, for they required cleaning; three had burst in my hands. Fortunately, night at length came and threw its mantle over this scene of carnage, without parallel, I believe, in the world’s history. Animals, although they are said to be more wicked than men, do not fight at night. They ceased their fire and I ceased mine. Victory was for the time undecided.

To tell the truth, however, it was they who had already[125] gained it, since an enemy who can reinforce himself without ceasing, were he twenty times, were he indeed a hundred times, less clever and brave than his adversary, must triumph in the end. Victory, then, is only number.

I descended into my vault more ill than ever. Excitement had joined itself to fever, and fever to despair. A cold shivering took possession of me, my teeth chattered. The air was far more chilly than it had been during the preceding nights. I felt that I should perish with the cold, unless I had the marvellous good luck to find some covering to throw over me. While I was feeling in one of Lord Campbell’s boxes for some ammunition for the next day, I placed my hand on the thick fur of a skin, soft as silk. Delighted at the discovery, I examined it all over, and while considering its prodigious size was struck with the idea that this fine fur must be the skin of the gigantic mandrill killed by Admiral Campbell, that same mandrill whose skeleton, hanging to a mimosa, had struck me with surprise and fear in the dim glimmering moonlight.

I wrapped myself up in this superb black fur, which was as warm as that of a bear. I did better: I placed my legs in those of the animal, my arms in his arms, or rather I applied those parts of the skin to my own arms and legs. Then I fastened the whole with the aid of a piece of string, so that I should not lose any portion of the warmth through any openings. Lastly, being able to have a cap of the same fur which had furnished me with coat and trousers, I applied the skin of the mandrill’s head to my own. When all was arranged I looked at myself in a glass—I drew back in amazement.

With my brown skin, thin cheeks, and open mouth, which allowed my teeth to be seen, my prominent cheek-bones, long dishevelled hair falling over my shoulders, and two months’ beard matted together with my hair, with my eyes rendered restless and melancholy by the fever which was pressing upon me, I took myself for the mandrill whose[126] black dress suit I was wearing. It is not possible to imagine a more striking resemblance. I was troubled at it, troubled to such a degree that I commenced to jump and gambol over the chairs and tables to assure myself by these acts of stupidity that I was still possessed of my manly dignity. Alas! must I confess it? If I had not entirely lost it, it was seriously compromised, for in this skin I found myself to be endowed with an elasticity and flexibility altogether alarming.

The day had scarcely broke when it became necessary for me to remount to the clock-tower, and to do it very quickly. This time it was not I who opened fire, but my adversaries. I had set them the example the day before, and they followed it to-day. This commencement of hostilities turned out badly for me—in fact, very badly. At the end of five minutes the wall fronting the verandah, weak as all walls of this construction usually are, gave way and fell under the shock of stones. The bell-tower, which was partly sustained by this principal wall, trembled at its base. I was lost—my last moments were approaching; I was separated from them only by a few seconds. Everything was crumbling around me. There remained to me the choice of being crushed under the remains of the verandah or of precipitating myself into the midst of this crowd of savage and exasperated beings, maddened with the thoughts of vengeance, intoxicated with the idea of a victory which they knew very well could not escape them. I decided to die like a man. I seized hold of a Malay poignard with one hand and a revolver in the other, and leaped into the centre of the arena.

I fell to the ground, when, just as I believed myself about to disappear beneath a perfect network of claws, a wide space was cleared before me. The entire army of apes drew back with respect, with terror, with cast-down looks and stricken spirits.

I was thunderstruck. But let us pursue the story of this sudden change of fortune, which we may almost regard in the light of a resurrection.



Whence this enchanted skin comes.—I owe to it my life and the crown.—In what manner I govern.—I learn the fate of the English station.

Crawling on their bellies after the manner of serpents, these new reptiles came towards me. Karabouffi crawled at their head. Overwhelmed by fear, his enormous head had disappeared between his shoulders; his quickened breath swept over the ground; his body, far more considerable in its natural state than that of a tall man, was now nothing but a flattened and trembling trunk pressed against the earth. When he had reached my feet he licked them for more than a quarter of an hour; and this act of abasement over, he moved a little on one side to make room for others, who in their turn licked my feet as he had done. Not one of them was bold enough to render a similar act of homage to my hands. These abject proceedings of theirs confounded me with astonishment.

But what did it all mean? For surely this singular homage of which I had been the object must be open to some kind of explanation.

The explanation was this: that with my mandrill’s skin, my mandrill’s head, my mandrill’s breast, my mandrill’s hands[128] and legs, I was taken—now you will guess it all—for the gigantic mandrill whom Vice-Admiral Campbell had suspected to be, and not, as we see, without reason, an old sovereign of Kouparou. Yes, I was taken for that same great mandrill who would have disembowelled Karabouffi had not Admiral Campbell knocked the monster over with a ball from his fowling-piece.

This fanatic veneration of theirs, instead of diminishing, only increased. It became a universal sentiment. An Indian god is not more adored by his superstitious worshippers than I was by these grovelling apes. I might have walked, stamping on this living carpet, without even a skin daring to move.

I was, then, saved? Without doubt; but I was also become an ape. More than that! I was unquestionably recognised as king by all the apes of Kouparou. And how had all this been brought about? Why, in precisely the same way that other sovereigns had raised themselves to power—by firing a few guns, by losing my head, and by disguising myself in the garments of an illustrious predecessor.

Since it was so, and since it was necessary either to “perish or reign,” as they say, I believe, in tragedies, and in actual life as well, I resigned myself to reign, although my people appeared very ugly-looking in my eyes. But I had no choice.

This resolution being taken, I generously extended my paw to my predecessor Karabouffi, whom I raised by this dignified movement, easily comprehended, to the high rank of prime minister.

This first act of authority exercised by me prodigiously astonished all around; but I perceived that on the whole it gave great satisfaction. My good sense, then, had not deceived me. I had always said to myself, and that long before a nation of apes had placed the sceptre in my hands, that it was bad policy on the part of a minister to torment, abase, and punish those whom he was called upon to aid in[129] governing, since if he should act thus, if he should listen to the inspirations of hate, or to counsels bewildered by fear, he is certain to create for himself secret and implacable enemies, critics ever ready to condemn all his actions, who are so much the more to be feared since they foment discontent among the people, who, while regretting the loss of that liberty which they no longer possess, will indulge in the hope that one day it may again be theirs.

And how very difficult, if not impossible, is rendered the return to power of those who have been overthrown if they are only left where they have fallen! An open tolerance which will only lower them still more is preferable to raising them up by a marked display of aversion, or by a colouring of persecution, no matter how faint.

I exercised, then, no severity against Karabouffi, who, it must be remembered, had had the generosity, when I was entirely in his power, not to flay me alive from head to foot.

Nevertheless, whatever forbearance I may have been disposed to exercise towards Karabouffi, I could not avoid the performance of one act which I knew would be very mortifying to his self-love and passions. But by the side of that prudence which I had just shown it was necessary that I should show a like degree of energy and equity. Moreover, in what I proposed doing I was only about to extend the principle in accordance with which I had spared Karabouffi himself. All the vervets, all the old followers of the mandrill whose place I occupied, were brought from exile and disgrace. Some old ourang-outangs, some baboons of the late reign, some old Dianas, wearing cocked hats crowned with big plumes stolen from Vice-Admiral Campbell’s station, murmured behind their beards. But I took no notice of their suppressed disgust. I knew the step that I was taking was a politic one, for it conciliated the others. One is always strong when one is in the right. The consequence was that the grand dignitaries of all kinds, those who held the rank of judges, generals, and[130] grand officers of the palace, smiled at the proposition, and welcomed the outlaws with open arms. Vervets and baboons embraced one another weeping. Was the reconciliation sincere? It is very doubtful. Those who have an interest in keeping parties divided say that it is perilous to society to bring them together; but to continue my story—for these reflections are out of place.

The most cruel trial to which I was obliged to expose my predecessor, in spite of my well-known character for humanity, was this. Followed by all my subjects and the members of my court, and having my prime minister Karabouffi on my right hand, I directed my steps towards the prison of the unfortunate Mococo. The cortège was a most imposing one. We arrived at length in front of the horrible iron cage, on the floor of which lay the poor captive pining away through grief and love. The faithful Saïmira, who was at this moment consoling him through the bars, started back at the appearance of this crowd. She believed that we had come to seek her lover to drag him to the scaffold. How was I to undeceive her without betraying myself?

The event soon reassured her. After setting Mococo free, I placed his trembling hand in that of the gentle Saïmira, and made the two lovers understand, by keeping them for some minutes locked as it were in this soft pressure, that I united them in the face of this huge assembly, which had no doubt often seen among themselves infinitely worse assorted unions. At the sight of this happiness, which I had been the means of procuring for my two poor chimpanzees, Karabouffi rent the air with a cry of despair and rage. I pitied his position, and to spare him the slow agony of witnessing day by day the love which existed between this happy couple, I sent the two chimpanzees away for a time. They went under my protection to spend their honeymoon in an isolated spot which I had selected for them in a corner of the island, a charming retreat surrounded by clear and limpid waters, by pink and[131] yellow convolvuli, and mysterious flowers which, opening only during the night, would not yield their perfume to the sun. The lady-monkeys, I am happy to say, appeared highly satisfied with my conduct.

They went to spend their honeymoon in an isolated spot which I had selected for them.—Page 130.

This commencement of a reign in appearance so easy did not leave me altogether without inquietude, although I hasten to declare after experience that nothing is more easy than to govern, and to govern well. When I was a bird-fancier at Macao, I have often found it more difficult to sell a parrot than it proved to become master of the wills of one hundred thousand subjects of by no means pliable natures who had fallen to my care.

But I must here mention the grave inquietude which troubled me in the early days of my reign. How could I feel perfectly tranquil so long as the mandrill’s skeleton remained suspended to the tree in the mimosa forest? The first one among my new subjects who might perceive it would not fail to divulge the fact to the others; and then what would become of me? How could I be at the same time both living and dead—hung and yet reigning? It would be indeed vexatious for a sovereign to have his own skeleton brought against him as a witness.

It was necessary, then, at all risks to put an end to this embarrassment. The simplest way, the reader will think, would be to get rid of this confounded skeleton; the simplest way—yes, but not for me, since I was constantly surrounded by thousands of courtiers. Notwithstanding this, during one of those stormy nights which are rarely known in other countries of the world—one of those nights, in fact, of brimstone and electricity which make tigers and elephants fall asleep on their knees, the air is so heavy to their eyes and brains—I sallied forth. My body-guards, chamberlains, and valets-de-chambre slept too soundly to have been aroused even by the trumpet of the last judgment. The wind drove the clouds so rapidly through the sky, that the moon appeared to[132] leave its orbit and fall with all its weight to the horizon, to remount as rapidly to the zenith. Trees a hundred and forty feet high were snapped like reeds, and after having been blown down, and then into the air again, twirled round me like whirlwinds of straw; a single dry leaf—it is true some are half a yard long—catching me a blow would have cut me in two with the cleanness of a razor. I saw this hurricane mow down portions of the forests in the space of three minutes, and clear the ground bare to the solid rock. One would not understand how it was that I was not carried away like an atom, if one were ignorant of the fact that these hurricanes proceed by currents, which vary but little in extent. There are bands—kinds of lines almost as regular as if drawn to scale. Well, two paces from the tempest one can see it pass without being touched by it in the slightest degree. Such was the night chosen by me for my expedition.

No one saw me leave the verandah. I stole away in the shade, and, hidden by the contortions of the tempest, gained the wood of mimosas where I knew that my skeleton was hanging up. I say my skeleton, since henceforth I considered myself in all respects as neither more nor less than the mandrill discovered by Admiral Campbell. In due course I arrived at the tree, suspended to which were my poor bones rattling in the wind, when, after having dug a trench seven feet long, I interred myself with all possible precautions. I covered myself over at first with vegetable earth, then with sand, then with turf, and lastly with a layer of dry leaves. At this strange and solemn moment I believed myself a far more extraordinary personage than the Emperor Charles V. He only assisted at his own funeral procession at the Convent of Saint-Just, whereas I, Polydorus Marasquin, performed my own obsequies, and was my own undertaker, gravedigger, and mourner. Surely it will not be disputed that I was the first example of a sovereign or even of a man who had buried himself with his own hands.


After having dug a trench seven feet long, I interred myself with all possible precautions.—Page 132.

So soon as I was fairly under the turf I turned my thoughts to the future, and occupied myself with studying how to reign well. Subjects generally render this task easy enough to their rulers. They are determined at every hazard to believe the successor infinitely superior in all things to his predecessor. Let him do what he may, he is always more intelligent, energetic, and generous. This is the first stage of forced popularity. Even Nero, Louis XI. of France, and George IV. of England, have not escaped it. The second stage of popularity often to a new sovereign is for him to be always doing exactly the reverse of his predecessor. If the latter was fond of talking, then it should be your aim to be silent; if he was silent, you should be fond of talking; if he always went out on foot, you should never go out except on horseback; if he went out on horseback, you should only go out on foot; if he was proud, you should be familiar; if he was familiar, you should be proud; if he was peaceful, you should be warlike; if he was warlike, you should be peaceful; if he loved the arts, you should despise them; if he despised them, you ought to pretend to love them; if he adored his children, you should remain a bachelor; if he practised celibacy, you ought in this case to marry; if he scattered gold about, your plan would be to be saving; if he was miserly, then you should scatter your gold with an open hand. I have said sufficient for the reader to perceive the value of my theory. Let us pass now, so far as the matter concerns me, to the application of it.

It will be readily understood that not having really to govern men, but creatures vastly inferior to them, who bore, however, at the same time, a grim resemblance to mankind in general, I did not have occasion to apply my theory in all its rigour. I simply set myself to work to see how I could twist it so as to turn to my own purposes minds which were alike inconsistent, frivolous, and, as we all know, imitative to a degree.

My predecessor, Karabouffi, had urged on his subjects, now my subjects, to destroy my comfortable verandah. I[134] could not imagine anything more agreeable to them than to decree its immediate reconstruction. I therefore took some of the stones detached by the force of their projectiles, and in their presence placed them one upon another in the symmetrical order which they had occupied before their overthrow. Immediately, as if by a fairy’s command, the stones were placed in a most workmanlike manner. I filled up the interstices with plaster which I had mixed with water to serve as a kind of mortar; at the same moment all my subjects, seized with a rage for building, pounded plaster, broke up freestone, carried water, mixed, stirred, and made me mortar sufficient to rebuild the Tower of Babel. They presented a curious sight, whitened all over as they were with plaster, even to their moustaches, elbows, and knees.

Karabouffi, on seeing the part which I took with his old subjects, looked as if he were thinking how easy it would have been for him to have followed the same course, and to have arrived at the same end. He was right, no doubt, but he had not done so.

However, warned as he now was by experience, should he ever regain his sceptre, all he would then have to do to render himself popular would be to demolish my work.

The verandah raised from its ruins, I traced through the neighbouring woods four splendid roads, several leagues in length, all radiating from a given point, and all leading to the sea. These magnificent openings were completed in a few days, and by the same simple means as those I had had recourse to when engaged in the reconstruction of my palace. I commenced by felling three trees to the right and three trees to the left of the four lines representing the four routes to be opened in the thicknesses of the forest. Immediately hands and hatchets were hard at work felling trees. It was like a renewal of the hurricane with which I was assailed on the night of my funeral. My object in opening these four roads was to catch sight from as far off as possible of any[135] vessel that might touch at the island, and be the means of setting me free.

The reader will easily understand that when once I had secured for myself something like liberty in my movements, I did not rest without searching for any vestiges which might be scattered about the island, and which might give a clue to the fatal lot which had, in all probability, befallen the brave sailors of the naval station. My investigations were attended with the following result:—While examining the land-locked bay which Admiral Campbell’s journal indicated as the anchorage of the Halcyon, I was struck by a circumstance which clearly proved that this fine frigate had not left the bay in accordance with the ordinary rules of navigation. Had she done so she would have raised her anchor and the buoys which marked the spot where they had been dropped. Instead of this the buoys were in their places, and I had only to slip my hand under one of them to assure myself that the anchors had never been weighed. In their thievish haste the pirates had cut the cables above the buoys, and had thus set the frigate free in order to carry her off, Heaven only knows where.

I was, then, irrevocably condemned to endure my present lot; my original deductions had proved to be correct. The entire naval station had become the prey of the Malay scum of the archipelago of Sooloo.

While speaking of the expedition undertaken by me to the Halcyon’s anchorage, I ought not to omit mentioning that I was accompanied on this occasion by the various dignitaries of my household. Their zeal carried them so far as to induce them to throw themselves into the water with me when I swam to the place where the buoys were floating, through want of a boat or canoe to take me there. The reader will see that if the affection of my subjects for my royal person was all that could be desired, my marine was nevertheless in a very inefficient state.


I returned to my dominions, after this short absence, amid the acclamations of my subjects, who evidently grew more and more fond of me. I must mention here that the one thing which made me more popular than ever among them, and which marvellously proved the efficacy of my governmental theory, was being in respect of the matter of dress the exact opposite of my predecessor, who was accustomed, even up to the moment of his unmerited fall, to dress himself out in a most ridiculous style, whereas I went totally naked. One can scarcely believe how much this contrast helped to keep me in favour. “What simplicity!” murmured they; “how natural and charming! He shows his bare back as we do, and is just as ugly as we are.”

This proves that it is not necessary always to wear a theatrical-shaped hat in order to be regarded as a great king. I am, however, bound to acknowledge that this habit of reigning quite naked was productive to me of more bitter distress than it is possible to imagine; it made me, moreover, incur the most serious dangers, considering the exceptional position in which I was placed. When I think of the matter a cold shiver runs through me, my hair stands on end, my heart fails me, and I feel as though I am on the point of fainting.



Royal happiness troubled by a rent.—I am more and more adored by my subjects.—A cloud in the sky.—Sinister preoccupation.—My kingdom for a pair of trousers!—Supreme joy of being an animal.—My happiness again troubled.—A fatal tear.

One day, on the occasion of a grand military review, when I was cutting solemn capers before my subjects by way of saluting them, the mandrill’s skin, in which, as a matter of course, I was always clad, unfortunately cracked!—it cracked, too, as a matter of course, at the part where it fitted me tightest, and where it was certainly a little worn—in other words, at the part on which the mandrill during his lifetime had been accustomed to seat himself. An unusual chill followed this deplorable rent. It was like the mask falling off in the middle of the ball. I felt that I was lost—that the man was recognised beneath the skin of the ape, and that my reign, my greatness, and my life were at an end.

Alas! I had not foreseen how short a time even the most illustrious skins last! What imprudence! or rather what a misfortune! Had my subjects already perceived my accident, and what did they think of it if they had perceived it? It[138] was a most grave situation. I no longer dared to make a single military movement during the continuance of the review, which appeared, indeed, endless to me, I was suffering so much from anxiety and fear. No one can imagine the ruses to which I was compelled to have recourse so as to pass in front of the ranks, and at the same time conceal from my troops the misfortune which had befallen me, and the discovery of which would have been the signal for my death. I hid my disaster as well as I could, I dodged about in a nervous way, and finally I gained the verandah, where I arrived more dead than alive.

I passed a most horrible night; I passed it in endeavoring, by all manner of ingenious contrivances, to repair the rent in my skin. Oh! how I applied myself to my task! but I was consoled by the reflection that it was for my reign that I was labouring. I succeeded in repairing the damage in a fashion which, to the eye of a casual observer, would have looked all that could be desired, but I saw perfectly well that the reparation would not hold out long against the strain which would necessarily be upon it whenever I had occasion either to walk or sit down. It was certain that I could not always remain standing during the entire length of my reign. Human misery mounts in some degree to the summit of the highest of human dignities. Fancy a government, a state, a reign having to depend upon the strength of the stitches in a cracked pair of breeches.

At length the night ended, and at daybreak my subjects, who had believed me indisposed during the review of the previous day, pressed under the balcony to have news of my health. Their anxiety was such that it was absolutely necessary for me to show myself. I accordingly appeared in the balcony, when, oh horror! I was obliged to go through salute after salute with the risk of dislocating my limbs, and the more dangerous risk of disarranging my nether clothing in order to prove to them the greatness of my affection, somersault[139] after somersault that I might ravish them with admiration. I was, moreover, obliged, in response to the enthusiasm of my subjects, to descend into their midst, by means of a rope slung for this purpose between the balcony and the ground. With what prudence I performed this descent, a prudence which will appear the reverse of royal to very many people! How I guarded against the least tension of the muscles! How I waited till I was nearly to the ground before I darted among my people!

Everything passed off very well, thank Heaven! although certain over-zealous sapajous from time to time poked forth their heads and pointed muzzles as though to assure themselves that they must have seen but indifferently the evening before. This was indeed a perilous inspection.

At length escaping the caresses of my subjects, I thanked Heaven for the success of my reparation, but I was not the less convinced that my reign depended upon this skin of mine; that the duration of the one depended upon that of the other; and that this skin, a symbol of my destiny, would grow thinner every day, and become, sooner or later, my ruin.

The wisdom of ages has proclaimed that “There is no perfect happiness in this world.” I could have been as happy as a man has the right to be in a position so strange as mine if it had not been that this skin was constantly threatening to give way. In all other respects, tranquil in my undisputed sovereignty, I felt almost the joy of a released captive in my close association with Nature in her most primitive form—an association for which mankind are designed, and for which, when sated with an artificial state of existence, they are always longing in order that they may grow young again.

Civilised life, of whose doubtful advantages we boast with more pride than reflection, is, in my opinion, not an advance, but a deviation. That pure and lusty air which I was breathing, becoming absorbed into my entire system, gave me[140] other tastes. My desires grew purer. That beautiful fruit and limpid water became sufficient for my appetite when I found myself freed from the excitement and irritation which is frequently the result of immoderate exercise.

By degrees I felt a kind of horror at the notion of feeding oneself on the flesh of animals. It is to civilisation alone, I said, that we owe those abominable appetites which require the flesh of animals to satisfy them. When the cannibal eats his enemy it is more from vengeance than mere gluttony, whereas the reason we do not eat one another arises, not from any particular respect for our kind, but rather from an unmistakable distaste for human flesh, and, above all, from a fear, into which we are reciprocally forced, that if we ate our kind, our kind would, in all probability, retaliate by eating us. The savage, therefore, is simply a stupid to eat his enemy.

This very mandrill’s skin, of which, for the first few days, I was thoroughly ashamed, eventually appeared to me a thousand times preferable to those odious shells of cloth, those coats of mail, which do not allow us the free use of our limbs, adopted and rejected in turn by the idiotcy of fashion. Under this soft and elastic skin, supple, thin, and warm, all at the same time, it was as pleasant as it was easy to bend the body—to swing from bough to bough, to drop down on to the turf, and bound up again; to run, to glide through the bushes, climb up the bamboos, leave the land and plunge into the water, quit the water to climb up a rock, and seat oneself on its summit.

Unfortunately, however, I was not permitted to go through these movements with perfect freedom of mind. The reader knows well enough what was the obstacle that prevented me. One day this obstacle, through some terrible accident, assumed proportions so large that the world contained neither needles nor tailors capable of effecting a restoration.

This is how the accident in question happened:—


I was accustomed, the reader should know, to sleep in my mandrill’s skin, for to have thrown it off, even during the hours of sleep, would have been extremely imprudent. Well, one night I had an extraordinary dream; in this dream, inspired by an instinct of ambition, for which I can in no wise account, I caused myself to be crowned King of Kouparou by the Archbishop of Goa. I to have had myself crowned! What an aberration of mind! I, above all, who reigned only in virtue of a deceit, only because creatures of weak intellect believed that they saw in me an old King of Kouparou, whereas it was merely his skin which they recognized, and which I had made use of. Mind, it was only a dream up to this point—but I will finish the narration.

Surrounded by his clergy, in their most magnificent vestments and resplendent with diamonds, Monseigneur de Goa, after performing all the ceremonies used at the coronations of kings, took a crown of gold and emeralds in his hand, and walked solemnly towards me to place it on my head. This was the moment of the catastrophe. As the archbishop, who stood on the haut pas, was raised above me, I was obliged, in order to receive the crown which he offered me, to stretch out my arms, in order to assist him in placing the crown on my head. Well, in leaning towards the archbishop I fancy I must have stretched the mandrill’s skin a trifle too much. There was a sudden rending, and this time the fatal slit extended right down from the neck to the very end of the back. The noise caused by this accident was so loud that it awoke me.

And what an awakening! That compactly-fitting garment was now nothing but a floating paletôt, open behind instead of before. I rose up alarmed, dismayed, and desperate. I wished to doubt my senses, but my misfortune was, alas! only too real, and what an irreparable misfortune it was, since instruments and means which were not at my disposal were necessary to reunite the shreds of my royal[142] purple. My reign was at an end, and what was more, my life would soon follow the example of my reign, and all in consequence of this hateful rent. So certain did I feel of the fate which awaited me that I barricaded myself that very instant, and set to work to fortify my position behind the verandah walls just as I had done when I was once before obliged to transform this pretty dwelling of Admiral Campbell’s into a fortress.

The next day when my subjects did not see me come forth they assembled in large numbers under my windows, and I had to undergo the sorrow of witnessing their truly touching solicitude without daring to show myself so as to reassure them. The following day they again assembled in great numbers; the third day the entire population of the island thronged around the verandah.

Then the affection of my devoted subjects, which up to this point had been manifested by silent expressions of their grief, broke forth in noisy whines, deafening bursts of sympathy, and groans that were meant to be expressive of tenderness. My ears were afflicted even more than my heart. My subjects wished for me, called me, demanded me at any price.

At this moment I saw distinctly enough how animals the most deficient in moral courage are not ashamed of the feelings of gratitude which they owed their sovereign. They do not, like beings of a higher order of intelligence, forget in a single day the benefits which he has been the means of showering down upon them, the equal justice which he has dispensed to them, the order and happiness with which he has surrounded them at the expense of his own ease and pleasure, in order to throw themselves at the feet of a new master whose wisdom and virtue have not yet been tried—cowardly slaves of novelty, ready and willing to treat the august chief of their community like children treat their playthings, who always think the last the prettiest, and that[143] the preceding one deserves only to be broken violently against the wall.

Truth wills that I should add that this love of my subjects took a somewhat strange turn after five days of patient waiting without result. Intending to come to me, as I would not come to them, they commenced a new siege of the verandah and with the same weapons of attack—namely, sticks and stones—arms which had formerly proved so successful in their hands. And this time, actuated as they were by a noble sentiment, they showed themselves incomparably more obstinate in their determination to overthrow the walls behind which I sought to escape their too demonstrative affection.

How was I to remain insensible to these marks of interest? I do not deny that I should have been better pleased to have seen this intense interest show itself under less redoubtable forms. Still, I should have considered it a crime to have repulsed them this time with guns and muskets. I offered, therefore, no resistance. On the contrary, I wept with joy and pride when I heard the walls, roofs, windows, balconies, doors, and framework of the verandah crackling under the weight of the enormous stones which they kept throwing against them. I confess that I was moved by this devotion of theirs, the end of which was infallibly my death, since what a discovery awaited them in a very few minutes! They counted on finding themselves in the presence of a mandrill behind the walls which they had well-nigh overthrown, and instead of this they would place their hands on a light-haired man, although a Portuguese, identical in every respect, more’s the pity, with all that is well-formed and most agreeable in man.



Deliverance.—I see my native land again.—O Macao!—My immortality.

I had only to sustain this siege, instigated, I was well aware, by the purest devotion, for a very few minutes longer, to ensure being murdered without the shadow of a doubt; everything was being destroyed and was falling around me, when all at once three cannon-shots sounded in the distance. Did I hear aright? I listen. Three fresh reports follow those which have already aroused my attention.

Thank God, I am not the only one who hears them. The besiegers below have also caught the sound.

In a moment the entire island is all attention.

The boom of the cannon is heard for the third time: there are three more reports.

I start to my feet. It must be a vessel, then! a vessel which is arriving at the island! a vessel which is about to disembark someone! A vessel! a vessel! Hurrah!

The reports continue to resound.

The besiegers, confounded and uneasy at the noise of these detonations, repeated several times over by the echoes of the island, brought their operations to a decided standstill.


With stones in their hands, with their muzzles turned in the direction of the wind, with outstretched necks, hair standing on end, and ears pricked up, they sought to explain to themselves what I should have liked exceedingly to have been able to have explained myself.

What had happened? Had this vessel come to deliver me? Still all those reports could not be for me alone? Ah, no. Was it some ship in danger signalling for assistance? Or rather, was it the Malay pirates about to make another descent on the island? But what could they come to steal here? They had already taken everything. Was it a battle between them and some European ship of war?

Ah! my anxieties were infinite.

Half-an-hour after the first of these reports I heard drums, brass instruments, and martial music. It was a disembarkation! a conquest! the tune seemed to tell of victory.

My loving and hostile subjects appeared to me more and more astounded. With many this astonishment took the nature of fear, and some were already seeking with furtive glances favourable openings for an immediate flight.

With these combined noises of cannons and wind instruments shouts of enthusiasm and words of command speedily became mixed. The troops were evidently advancing; were they coming in this direction? Surely they were, since before long I saw glittering in the air, at the end of one of those fine avenues which I had had opened by my subjects, muskets, bayonets, golden sword-hilts, and brilliant uniforms. These uniforms, which stood out in strong relief from the blue distance, were evidently those of the English army and navy.

The reader may imagine that my sight and mind alike dwelt on the least movements of that mass of men who advanced with such rapidity and precision towards the spot whence my eyes were devouring them.

At a whistle, which came, I do not doubt, from the[146] metallic lungs of Karabouffi, my prime minister, and I believe in some degree my successor in his own mind, ever since I had disregarded the love of my people, all the apes, the strong, the cunning, the bold, the slow, the quick, the subtle, the obstinate, completely disappeared; they vanished like air through the openings: not a single one remained!

The vast space in front of the verandah was empty in the twinkling of an eye.

An instant after the troops occupied this space left so rapidly free by the apes.

A superior officer placed himself in the centre of the little army, which was formed in a circle of considerable size. What a joyous and inexpressible surprise for me! In this officer I recognised the brave Vice-Admiral Campbell himself. I uttered a cry, but it was too far off to be heard.

Admiral Campbell made a sign that he was about to speak; the men were all attention, and he said:—

“Officers and men,—You all know by what a miserable snare we were carried off from this island some five months since.

“You all know of the chastisement which our brave countrymen belonging to the squadron which arrived so opportunely in the Indian seas some six months sooner than it was expected have inflicted on the Sultan of Sooloo. His capital has been burnt; the Halcyon has been retaken from the Malay pirates who had treacherously carried her off; one hundred and fifty of these scoundrels have suffered the punishment reserved for pirates, and have been hung to the yard-arms of their junks and praus. Indemnities have been paid to the families of the brave sailors who have perished through this outrage committed in utter defiance of the law of nations.

“A further act of reparation was due to us. To-day, officers and men, with your assistance, I retake possession of this island, in the name of Her Most Gracious Majesty!”


Covered with my tattered and well-worn skin, but still holding sufficiently together for me to be taken for a mandrill.—Page 147.

Loud cheers here interrupted the vice-admiral, who, after a brief pause, concluded with these words:—

“I plant here the noble flag of England, which I now call upon you to salute with military honours.”

A number of simultaneous discharges responded to the vice-admiral’s appeal, and the British flag unfurled itself in all its majesty in the courtyard of the verandah.

The ceremony of retaking possession was about coming to a close.

It was at this moment that I left the ruins of the verandah, covered with my tattered and well-worn skin, but still holding sufficiently together for me to be taken for a mandrill by all the English present.

They were all struck with astonishment on seeing an ape of the largest kind thrust himself into the midst of their solemn meeting. Their surprise turned into laughter, which all the detachment joined in, when they heard me speak English to the vice-admiral. A speechifying mandrill! well, what next? thought they.

“Who are you?” inquired the admiral, thoroughly embarrassed by the nature of the being—half man, half ape—which addressed him.

“A Christian,” I answered, “who has lived three months among the apes.”

“Are you an ape, then?”

“No, my lord. This skin is not mine.”

“We are perfectly convinced of that—perfectly sure of that,” exclaimed a young Irish lieutenant who was standing behind me, loud enough for me to hear.

“But how comes it that you are wearing it? How the deuce, too, have you got here—you, whom, if I am not mistaken, I left bird-fancier at Macao, since I think I recognise you?”

“My lord, it is a very long story, so long that I should not dare to relate it to you if it were not intimately connected with your own.”


“With mine!”

“Yes, my lord, with yours.”

They looked at me, and then burst out in another fit of laughter.

“I shall take the liberty of relating it to you, my lord, when I am in a more fit state of mind and body. I shall only say one word to your lordship so as to warn you that my story is worthy of attention.”

“What is the word?”

“My lord, I am the last king of this island.”

This answer was not calculated to check the jeering laughter of my hearers, who were for the most part very young, and consequently very little disposed to make allowances. Besides, I must admit that this half-naked king who stood before them clad in an ape’s tattered skin fully justified the reception accorded to my royal words.

Admiral Campbell asked me laughingly if I had any objection, as I was king, to his taking possession of the island of Kouparou.

I besought him not to laugh at an unhappy man who had lost everything he possessed by his shipwreck.

The admiral, shaking my hand, then said, “Mr. Marasquin, you will have lost nothing; England, I promise you, will indemnify you.”

England has amply fulfilled the promises of the noble sailor who, a few days after his return to the island of Kouparou, deigned to listen to the recital of troubles I had undergone in the midst of this community of apes. He took such a lively interest in all my vicissitudes that he made me promise to publish them in the unpretentious form in which I produce them to-day; and I publish them, you may believe me, less from an author’s pride than as an example and an encouragement to those unfortunate beings who might be tempted to give way to discouragement and despair if they should chance to suffer shipwreck as I did, and be cast like I[149] was, on an island peopled by apes. Besides, I look only for honour and profit from my proper profession.

Thanks to the kindness of Admiral Campbell, who advanced me several sums of money, and the sympathy of his officers, who became better customers of mine than ever, I occupy an excellent position at Macao, where I carry on my business of dealer in wild and tame animals.

As a sort of crown to the many kindnesses which Admiral Campbell had already shown me, he ordered that one of the numerous isles of the Sooloo Archipelago should be called on the last geographical charts of that part of India Polydorus Marasquin Island.

To-day I am alike prosperous, happy, and respected. I may add, also, that I have three children and a wife who loves me.

Well, would it be believed? I sometimes surprise myself murmuring between my lips, “Ah! the old times when I was an ape!”







I have never elsewhere seen oaks thrust forth their gnarled branches so proudly and vigorously in the air, nor slender shining beech-trees form such majestic arcades overhead, as those in the little wood belonging to the Schlieffen estate of Windhausen, about three miles to the east of Cassel. One is struck with astonishment and admiration on beholding these gigantic works of fertile Nature, with their sturdy trunks, often twenty or thirty feet in girth, and their magnificent foliage, beneath the shade of which the pathway winds through ferns and flowers, among cool grottoes, arbours, hermitages, and monuments of various kinds.

In the midst of this little wood, and on the bank of a tiny lake, stands a moderate-sized mansion, which has been deserted since the death of him who erected it, and the front of which faces the rising sun. Behind are the farm buildings, hemmed in on all sides by luxuriant foliage. So secluded is the spot that a traveller might pass almost close to the mansion without seeing it, while from afar the red-tile roofs are visible only from the high ground.

There lived here not more than thirty or forty years ago, in philosophical repose and contemplation, Lieutenant-General Martin Ernst von Schlieffen, formerly Hessian Minister of[154] State, an honourable old gentleman, and a valiant German soldier, with correct ideas of honour and right; one of the pupils of the Seven Years’ War, a lover of art and science, himself blessed with a lively fancy, and, in addition, a philosopher and somewhat of a character. He was born in Pomerania in the year 1732. It was his lot to receive a defective education, and, when scarcely more than a mere boy, the rank of ensign in a Prussian regiment. A lingering illness, which prostrated him at the expiration of two or three years, caused the King probably to doubt the youth’s further fitness for service, and, instead of the extension of leave demanded, to send him his dismissal. On recovering his health the youth remained for some time without any occupation, till the outbreak of the Seven Years’ War encouraged him to offer his services once more to Frederick II. But the King would not have him, so he went, with recommendations from Prince Henry of Prussia and of Duke Ferdinand of Brunswick in his pocket, to Cassel, where the Landgrave made him a lieutenant in the Hessian contingent in the pay of England. In this position he so distinguished himself, first under the Duke of Cumberland, and then under the latter’s successor, Duke Ferdinand of Brunswick, that, within five years, he worked his way up to a colonelcy, and was summoned to Cassel as Adjutant-General and Chamberlain by the Landgrave. Court life, however, detained him captive for only a short time, and he returned to the victorious standard of his celebrated general, who met with so deplorable a death at Jena. Herr von Schlieffen had attracted the attention of his hereditary King, and Frederick the Great now made an attempt to gain once more to his service the man whom, but a few years previously, he had so ungraciously rebuffed. But the Landgrave created him a general, and Herr von Schlieffen continued in his service. By the advice of the Prince he refused, also, a tempting offer from the Emperor of Russia, and, in consideration of his so doing, the Landgrave settled[155] upon him a life annuity of one thousand thalers. While Fortune thus lavished her gifts upon him, he devoted himself zealously to study, in order to make up for his neglected education. He learned Greek and Latin, of which he acquired such a knowledge as to be capable of reading the old classic authors in their original language. He accompanied the Landgrave on his travels to Paris and Berlin. He then proceeded, on business of his own, to Warsaw, and, on his return to Cassel, entered the ministry. He subsequently obtained the post of ambassador in London, where friends and former brothers-in-arms essentially advanced his efforts for the benefit of his sovereign. At length—for what is more fickle than the favour of the great—he incurred the displeasure of the Landgrave, and obeyed a summons to Prussia as general and governor of the fortress of Wesel. A year later, when the Belgian provinces had torn themselves from Austria, and created themselves into an independent State, a message was despatched from the deputies assembled in Brussels to Herr von Schlieffen, inviting him to assume the Stadtholdship. Consideration for Prussia, at that very time engaged in negotiations for a reconciliation with Austria, made him determine to refuse this honour. Hereupon the King, no longer Frederick II., sent for him to Berlin, and offered him the portfolio of Foreign Affairs. But Herr von Schlieffen found the Court in so unfavourable a situation, the influence of England so predominant, and Austria attached in so loose and ambiguous a manner to Prussia, that he refused to enter the ministry. Though he was greatly esteemed by the King, he was, after a short time, induced to send back his general’s staff to his majesty. The fact is that, when Austria and Prussia agreed to take up arms against the revolutionary party in France, Herr von Schlieffen endeavoured to convince the King of the danger and foolishness of such intervention. But his honest efforts were in vain; the campaign against the Republic was resolved on, and Herr von Schlieffen, who[156] should have been one of the first to march out, was left behind. He pressed the King either to alter this arrangement or allow him to retire, because he saw in it an insulting slight. As neither the one course nor the other was taken he resigned his posts, and retired to his estates. The King, however, remained well disposed towards him, and, some years subsequently, Herr von Schlieffen, in order to refute calumnies and envious Court tittle-tattle, felt himself called on once more to place himself at the King’s disposal; as, however, it was not yet decided whether or no Prussia would take part in the projected campaign of 1794, the King, in a gracious letter of thanks, declined his offer. Out of a feeling of patriotism, he had not accepted an invitation he received in the year 1792 to join the French army as a general. At a subsequent period, when Napoleon’s star was in the ascendant, and the relations between France and Germany were becoming more threatening, Frederick William sought, it is true, to obtain once again the services of the holiday-keeping hero, but the latter, assigning his age as an excuse, repressed his desire of reappearing as an actor upon the stage of glory and of honour. Who knows how matters would have ended at Jena had all the other old generals of the Prussian army then followed his example?

His career had brought him into contact with many princes and great men, whose favour and friendship accompanied him into his seclusion. In addition to the estate of Windhausen, he possessed a larger one, Schlieffenberg, in Mecklenburg, but he preferred residing in Hesse, under the standard of which country he had served with honour for thirty-two years. Thenceforth, a robust, vigorous, and cheerful old man, he lived in the lonely forest-residence he had built, devoting himself to his studies, his friends, and his recollections.

When, after the Treaty of Tilsit, a decree of Napoleon, in 1807, created the Kingdom of Westphalia, the young King Jérôme Bonaparte offered the veteran, then seventy-five years[157] old, a position equal to that he formerly held. But the splendour of the new Court did not tempt him, and he preferred continuing his anchorite’s life, to which he had become attached, in Windhausen. He could not, however, as a landed proprietor and former member of the Hessian Chambers, avoid obeying the command for him to take his place in the Westphalian Diet, summoned for occasional gay ceremonials and displays of magnificence, of little importance to the State and yielding no remuneration to its members. He was obliged, also, now and then to attend the Court. But he refused to appear in any other costume than his uniform as a Prussian general, and Jérôme, suppressing his dissatisfaction, allowed him to do so. After the return of the Elector, in the year 1813, Herr von Schlieffen speedily perceived that he was in great disgrace with that prince. Some one had secretly told the latter that, in the action with the Czarmitschen Cossacks, Schlieffen had assisted the usurper. In vain did the grey-haired general exert himself to confound this calumny. The Elector believed it, but perhaps only for the purpose of having an excuse for another act of injustice of which he was guilty. He ordered that the life annuity of one thousand thalers, granted to Schlieffen by the Landgrave Frederick, and expressly confirmed by the Elector himself on his accession to the throne, should no longer be paid. Moreover, Schlieffen was no more invited to Court.

Though the events of the last few years had greatly diminished his income, he would have got over the loss of the thousand thalers a year as easily as he consoled himself for that of Court favour. But the reckless injustice he perceived in such conduct grieved him profoundly and embittered the remainder of his days. He died, unmarried, at the age of ninety two, on the 15th September, 1825, and was buried in a small mausoleum which he had built long previously in the forest at Windhausen. The inscriptions, also, are from his pen. On a tablet of red sandstone let[158] into the side looking towards the east are the following lines:—

The Sepulchre
Of the first Schlieffen,
Possessor of yonder secluded Pile,
In whose calm retreat, and in the woods surrounding it with shade,
From the irksome Life of the Court, and the Troubles of the Warrior in time
of Peace,
Escaping as frequently as possible,
He found, favoured by Fate,
And guided perhaps by his opinions,
More sweet than bitter Hours,
Thankful for the former, resigned to the latter,
Tranquil as to the Future.

On the stone over the coffin in the interior of the mausoleum is the Schlieffen coat of arms and the annexed inscription:—

Martin Ernst
von Schlieffen,
formerly Lieutenant-General and Minister of State
of the Landgrave of Hesse,
afterwards Royal Prussian Lieutenant-General
and Governor of the Fortress
of Wesel,
Knight of the Prussian Orders of the Black and Red Eagle,
And of the Hessian Orders of the Golden Lion,
And of Merit.
Born the 30th October, 1732,
At Sudenzig, near Gallnow,
in Pomerania. Died the 15th Septb., 1825,
at Windhausen.

This life of retirement at Windhausen was passed by the “refugee from the world,” as he was fond of calling himself, in giving a park-like character to, and ornamenting with various buildings, the two estates purchased with the money he had himself earned. This afforded him frequent opportunities of being in the open air and indulging in exercises conducive to health. Once or twice a week he rode, followed by two servants, to Cassel, where he possessed in the Königsplatz, or King’s Square, a house which he had built in the[159] days of his grandeur. The rest of his time was devoted to his friends, with whom he maintained a correspondence; to his monkeys, whom he spoiled by petting; to his classics, which he was never tired of reading; and to his Memoirs, which he continued from year to year.

The Memoirs, intended only for his relations, were published in the year 1840, at Berlin, under the title, Some Occurrences and Experiences in the Life of Martin Ernst von Schlieffen. They contain very interesting information relating to the history of his own times, especially on account of the great number of letters printed in them. They commence with a genealogy of the Von Schlieffen family. With pedantic anxiety the author has avoided all foreign words. It was, in fact, a strange hobby of the “historian of his Sept,” as he also sometimes designated himself, never to employ a word borrowed from another language, though he usually spoke French, and took a pleasure in arranging Latin and Greek proverbs and inscriptions for votive tablets, which he had hung up at his favourite spots at Windhausen and Schlieffenberg. In his old friend, Johannes von Müller, whom, as Ministerial Secretary of the young Kingdom of Westphalia, Fate brought back to Cassel in the year 1807, he found nothing to blame except that, in his immortal books, Müller would not entirely discard the horrible foreign words. But the comic part of the business was that in the invention of German words, which Herr von Schlieffen employed in lieu of foreign ones generally in use, he was decidedly unfortunate, and to understand the words invented by him we must first have a key. This was something, however, which he felt himself, for, as a rule, he added the foreign word in a parenthesis. In addition to this he was noted for certain turns or rather contortions of expression which considerable increased the difficulty experienced by the uninitiated in understanding his book, the value of which was, however, not nullified by these eccentricities. But there was another[160] caprice of the old gentleman, which annoyed, troubled, and plagued in the highest degree the inmates of Windhausen—that is to say, the entire establishment, from the bailiff and gamekeepers down to the dairymaid. This was his affection for his monkeys.

There was a large troop of these tailless, long-armed, brown foreigners at Windhausen, and “the general who has sought refuge from the woods” had placed his whole estate unconditionally at their disposal. They ran about as they chose, and contracted marriages among themselves, so that the oldest speedily beheld, despite the unusual climate, a hopeful circle of healthy sons, daughters, and grandchildren assembled around them. This circumstance was, however, observed by all the human population of the estate, except the General, with dissatisfaction and uneasiness, for scarcely a day passed that one person or another had not reason to complain of the monkeys. They were regarded as a public curse, and it needed all the intensity of the affection, gratitude, and attachment felt towards the old gentleman, for people not to weary of looking with indulgence on this fancy of his. The ill-behaved Africans did nothing but mischief. They soiled the rooms, smashed plates and dishes, ruined the gardens, waged war, frequently to their own great disadvantage, with the beehives, and plucked the fruit from the trees, merely to throw it away as soon as they had tasted it, or fling it at the heads of those persons who might be passing by. No one who had to traverse the small wood ever escaped unmolested; the monkeys would hang on to the clothes of one person, or frighten another by suddenly dashing across his path. All this the worthy General considered exceedingly funny. Distinguished above all their companions, however, for slyness and a love for playing wild pranks, were two large monkeys, Tommy and Troll.

One day a countryman came to Windhausen for the purpose of paying the interest of a loan which the General had advanced him. The bailiff asked him to be seated, and,[161] having had some breakfast brought in for him, left the room for a short time, as he had just been called away to look at some sick beast. The countryman, meanwhile, counted his money and drank a glass of the brandy of the country without the slightest misgiving, when all of a sudden the door was opened gently, and in walked Tommy. For some time he remained close to the door, staring the unknown visitor in the face. He then walked round the table at which the countryman was seated, and finished by placing himself exactly in front of him, grinning and showing his teeth, with his left elbow leaning on the table and his right one stuck in his side. The countryman was struck dumb, and felt his hair stand on end with affright. There he sat, as though the terrible head of Medusa had thrown its spell over him. His face, which had become the colour of lead from superstitious fear, appeared to amuse the brute not a little. At length Tommy had looked at the countryman long enough; his sharp glance fell upon the bright thalers on the table, and he was just stretching out his hand to appropriate some, when something he considered still more desirable—namely, the butter-dish—caught his eye. He took it, sans façon, off the table, and, seating himself on a cask near the stove, devoured the lump of butter, smacking his lips the while. He then put back the empty dish. The return of the bailiff at last rescued the countryman from the state of fright in which he was.

“Hulloa, my boy!” said the bailiff, laughing, and casting a glance at the empty dish, “you seem to have liked the butter at any rate!”

“He did it, Mr. Bailiff!” groaned the countryman, nodding his head timidly at Tommy, as though he feared being at least eaten up by the monkey in consequence of this denunciation.

“What! has the fat blackguard dared to do such a thing?” exclaimed the bailiff very angrily, and at the same time springing towards the window, in the embrasure of[162] which was a riding-whip, “Wait a moment, I’ll pay you out!”

But Tommy, who saw the storm approaching, was in such a hurry to escape from it, that at the door he nearly knocked over his comrade Troll, who was coming in quite innocently. As the two monkeys were very like each other, and the bailiff had not, in his anger, remarked the lucky escape of the malefactor, he seized hold of old Troll by the throat, and believing he had caught the one who had stolen the butter, gave him an awful thrashing. During this time Tommy stood in the courtyard, wiping his greasy mouth, and scratching himself, with a puzzled air, behind his ear, looking up as he did so at the bailiff’s window, through which the howling of his innocent and unjustly-castigated brother found its way to him.

On another occasion the monkeys managed to steal a roll of ducats out of their too indulgent master’s desk, which had been left open. They climbed up with their spoil to the roof. Breaking the seal, they took out a couple of coins, which were inspected on both sides with indescribable curiosity by each monkey in succession. One of the coins accidentally fell out of the hand of the monkey who was holding it, and, rolling over the roof, tumbled, with a sharp ringing sound, into the tin gutter, and thence into the pipe by which the rain-water was conveyed down the house. This kind of music caused the monkeys such delight that they despatched all the remaining coins after the first one. While doing so they hung close together on the pipe, and, with open ears, listened to the sound of the descending ducats.

But a trick played by Troll might have been attended with more disastrous consequences. The bailiff’s wife had left an infant, almost three years old, lying in the cradle while she was busy in the kitchen. Troll crept upstairs, and, opening the door of the room in which the cradle stood, obtained possession of the infant. He then ran off quickly with it. Some maid-servants in the yard noticed him, but,[163] instead of enticing him to them, frightened him away by the fearful screams they uttered. At the end of the yard was a new building of wood, finished in the frame, up to the roof, and to this building Troll hurried off. Pressing the child closely to his breast with one arm, and swinging himself from beam to beam with the other, he clambered over the rafters of the roof, and took his seat on the very ridge. The screams were really heartrending, and enough to deafen any one, when the unhappy mother came rushing out. Wringing her hands in despair, she kept exclaiming—“Help! help! save my poor child!” All the inmates of the place came running to the spot, but the men were, unfortunately, busy at work in the fields or in the wood, and represented only by the General’s French cook, Mons. Lebrun, whose reputation for courage and determination was not exactly the best. Troll, however, had selected him to become the hero of the day. Dressed in his neat white costume, with apron and cap, he sprang into the middle of the crowd of wailing women, and cried out in a voice that would have become a general in the din of battle—“Now you shall all be quite still, you unreasonable womans. You make wild se monkey. I vill obtain tout seul votre enfant!” With these words he stretched out his arms, and drove back all the women into the passage of the gamekeeper’s house, the door of which was open. The mother was the only one he could not force from the spot, so he assigned her a place whence, without being in the way, she might witness his campaign, having first promised him, by the value she set upon her infant’s life, to remain quiet. Meanwhile, unconcerned by what was going on below, the monkey was seated upon the ridge of the roof, with his back leaning against the fir-tree, which, according to the old custom, the carpenters had set up there the day previously on the completion of their labours. At one instant he pressed the child with ecstasy to his breast; at the next he rocked it on his lap. At length he began untying and unrolling the[164] long strip of flannel in which the child was enveloped. The child, in happy ignorance of its danger, was perfectly still. Directly he had pacified and sent away the women, the cook began clambering up the ladder, and when he had reached the end of that, climbing from one beam to another, up to the rafters of the roof. Troll ignored him altogether, though Mons. Lebrun coaxingly held out some preserves, for the purpose of prevailing on him to come down. In order to properly appreciate the boldness of the undertaking, the reader must bear in mind that Mons. Lebrun had long ceased to be a youth, that he was very poorly, and not a practised climber. At last, in order to get quite near the monkey, he was obliged to pursue his perilous course over the fragile laths. Now for the first time did Troll appear to take any notice of him. He half rose, cast an angry look at him, and, quickly grasping the child, together with the roll of flannel, now nearly half undone, prepared to depart. “Ah, Monsieur Troll,” said the courageous cook coaxingly, “vhy you not come down to your dîner? Take un peu de biscuit! Monsieur Troll is a vary good boy! Permeet that I see your poupée, Monsieur Troll. Geeve me your poupée, and I shall geeve you dis confiture!” The above and similar persuasive arguments did the worthy man employ to prevail on the monkey to give up the infant. But Troll remained immovable. The cook threw him a piece of biscuit. Troll did not even stretch out his hand after it. At length Mons. Lebrun approached so near, that the women below uttered a half-suppressed shriek. He was now deterred from seizing the monkey by the throat only by the thought that if he did so the monkey would instantly let the child fall. He had, therefore, recourse once again to the sweetmeats, and held out a candied fig.

Fearful, probably, that it would take the same road as the biscuit, which he had allowed to fall, Troll made a snatch at it, intending to swallow it at once. The cook felt an immense weight removed from his breast, for he knew that the monkey[165] could not resist these sweets if he once tasted them. Troll actually now moved a lath’s distance nearer; the cook retired two laths’ distance, and held out a second fig. In this manner did the monkey follow, lath by lath, and beam by beam, still holding the child closely, and immediately drawing back if the cook made a movement to stretch out his hand towards it. At last he stood once more upon the solid ground. “Move not from your place, madame,” he cried to the mother. “Move not from your place!” Still walking backwards, he enticed Troll over the yard into his room. After bolting the door, he threw some sweetmeats into a white cotton nightcap, which he offered the monkey. To draw the dainties out of the long cap it was necessary for Troll to employ two hands. Without taking long to consider, he gently and carefully laid down the child that had begun crying and kicking as hard as it could. At the same moment the cook clutched him vigorously by the nape of the neck and flung him so violently into a dark room, that he was greatly astonished to see the prisoner come out again alone, when the General himself released him in the evening. An instant afterwards, delighted at the success of his stratagem, the cook placed the child in the arms of the weeping mother, and from that day forward no one ever again dared to cast a doubt on the courage and determination of Monsieur Lebrun.

But it was not always that the acts of the troublesome guests ended so well, and the old gentleman, for whose sake people winked at a good deal, because he was kind, benevolent, and charitable towards everybody, was often exposed by his favourites to vexation. On some occasions they engaged in sanguinary strife with children and harmless pedestrians. He paid liberally doctors’ bills and smart-money, when these were not rejected; but he did not conceal from himself the fact that, if such cases were often repeated, the authorities would take up the matter, and compel him either to send the monkeys away or have them shut up. But he never raised[166] his stick against them; if they ever did anything more extravagant than usual he read them a lesson, and was always of opinion that they understood this better than a beating. It is very certain, too, that they assumed a bearing and appearance as though crushed by remorse. They might, it is true, have pleaded as an excuse for many of their malicious tricks that they were always on the defensive, for, with the exception of their master, every one in the place was their sworn foe. They were beaten, inundated with cold and hot water, plagued and baited in every possible manner by everybody who could do so unobserved. Unfortunately, the want of speech prevented them from formulating their complaints. Under these circumstances, all the affection and attachment of which their apish souls were capable they concentrated on their master, with whom they always found protection and indulgence. They accompanied him to the borders of the wood when he rode off, as was his custom, to Cassel; while, in the evening, they looked out impatiently from the tops of the trees for him, and were perfectly mad with delight as soon as they perceived him, with his two tall servants, riding through the corn-fields.

This state of things lasted for several years, and the monkeys excited the attention of all the country round. Great and small made pilgrimages to Windhausen for the purpose of seeing these strangers, thus transported fifty or sixty degrees of latitude from their tropical home, till, one fine morning, the whole thing was quite unexpectedly brought to a terrible termination.

A young peasant girl was attacked by one of the strongest monkeys as she was proceeding through the forest. Half dead with fear and loathing, she screamed for help, but some time elapsed before the people ran up from the farmyard. They found the girl lying on the ground, and engaged in a desperate struggle with the animal, who had now become perfectly wild. Her long hair was dishevelled and partially[167] torn from her head, while her face, neck, and hands were entirely covered with blood. The monkey was in a state of uncontrollable fury, such as he had never been seen in before. The head ploughman, who courageously sprang forward and seized him by the hair on the top of his head, was, in a few minutes, so bitten and scratched, that he could no longer see or hear. The noise attracted the other monkeys, who were scattered about the forest, as well as all the persons belonging to the farm, and who hastened up, armed with cudgels and flails. Among the first to reach the girl was the gamekeeper. He no sooner perceived the magnitude of the danger than he hurried back to procure his double-barrelled gun. The courageous ploughman was still exposed to the furious attacks of the monkey, when a well-directed bullet, whizzing close past his ear, crushed the animal’s head. Now, however, followed a most strange and unexpected scene. Scarcely was the shot fired, and the bleeding body of their companion stretched writhing on the ground, when all the monkeys, as if at a concerted signal, rushed with a wild howl upon the persons present. A fearful conflict ensued, but, through all the tumult, the bailiff’s voice was distinctly heard, crying, “Kill all the devils! I will take the responsibility on myself, at the risk of losing my place!” It was an obstinate struggle; not a single combatant, man or monkey, made the slightest attempt to withdraw from the scene of action. It seemed as though long-cherished hate had suddenly burst forth on both sides, to end in mutual destruction. But it was not long before the matter was decided. Before the expiration of a quarter of an hour, five monkeys lay dead upon the ground, with their skulls shattered by bullets or blows from cudgels; about as many were running round on the down-trodden grass, with their backs flayed or their limbs broken. The rest were tied up and bound to trees. The lives of these last had been provisionally spared only in compliance with the earnest and warning persuasion of the gamekeeper. The[168] victors, also, were in an evil plight. The bailiff had lost the upper part of his left ear. One of the farm-servants was stretched on the ground by a blow intended for a monkey. He recovered, it is true, but remained, all his life, hard of hearing. Nearly all, except the gamekeeper, had bleeding faces and hands, and their clothes torn to rags. The girl was carried in a swoon to the house, and given into the custody of the women. There was still a troublesome piece of work left to be executed—namely, to place in safe keeping the surviving monkeys, rendered more spiteful and malicious than ever by their defeat. But this also was done. The dead, the wounded, and the living were flung together in one barn, and the door closed upon them.

An hour later the inmates of Windhausen assembled before the gamekeeper’s lodge to consult as to how the “confounded business” might be communicated in the gentlest form to the General. The latter had set off, on horseback, an hour or two previously for Cassel, without any presentiment of the fate awaiting his favourites on that day. Although every person assured everybody else, for the purpose of mutual encouragement, that, under the circumstances, they could not have acted differently to what they had, yet everybody in that small assembly felt as though there was a hundredweight upon his breast. It was at length resolved that the gamekeeper, a faithful old servant, should undertake the unthankful task of going to meet their master, and preparing him for what had happened. With a view to this a man was stationed as an outpost to bring information immediately the General was perceived approaching. It was somewhere about five o’clock in the afternoon when the old soldier, with his stereotyped attendants, the two lanky servants, came in sight. As usual when he returned from Cassel, he had his pockets full of sweetmeats for his monkeys. But what strangely oppressive feeling overpowered him more and more as he neared the wood? What, was not a single one of his merry brown[169] rascals to be seen upon the branches? Why did the spare form of the old gamekeeper, with his earth-coloured face and hang-dog look, stand there, as though rooted to the spot, like some warning notice? He felt compelled to ease his mind by speaking.

“Good evening, my old friend!” he cried to the gamekeeper.

“Thank your honour, your excellency——”

“My house is not burnt down, is it?”

“Oh, your excellency, you will pardon me——”

The strange and scared formality of the old man did not tend to put the General at his ease. Still forcing himself to be jocular, he said—

“I hope your old dame has not run off with any one?”

The gamekeeper wished himself a thousand miles away. Once more he attempted to draw the well-conned speech from out of his confused memory, but stuck fast at—

“May it please your honour——”

“Well!” exclaimed the General, impatiently, “what, in the name of fortune, has occurred? The house not burnt down, your wife not run away from you, and yet you are making a face as if you were going to be hanged! What other evil can possibly cross the path of two old fellows like us?”

“A great misfortune has happened, excellency!”

“Oh, that’s it. Then you would do well to tell it me without more ado.”

“The monkeys, your honour——”

“The monkeys,” repeated the General, as though electrified; “what is the matter with the monkeys?”

“Oh, your excellency, some of them have gone mad, and have terribly ill-treated some of us; some have been killed, and the others made prisoners at the risk of our lives!”

The words “Gracious Heaven!” escaped like a groan from the breast of the grey-haired soldier. He sank together[170] as if one of the bonds which bound him to life was snapped in twain. The fearful news had come upon him as the lightning strikes the oak, and one of his tall servants hurried up to hold him in his saddle.

“Gracious Heaven!” he repeated, and a long pause ensued.

“They must all be shot,” continued the gamekeeper pitilessly, “or else there will be murder.”

“Gracious Heaven! Gracious Heaven!”

“I am the only person who has come off with a whole skin,” pursued the gamekeeper, after a second and longer pause. “The bailiff has one of his ears bitten off; Wagner’s daughter, from Oberkaufunger, is at death’s door, and the head ploughman no longer looks like a human being.”

“Gracious Heaven!” ejaculated the General, and again the words were succeeded by a long pause.

Two or three times the General rode a few paces into the wood, but as often turned back, quite undecided what to do. At length he plucked up courage, rode up to the gamekeeper, down whose cheeks the hot tears were rolling, and, seizing his arm, said in a low, tremulous voice—

“Shoot them all, old friend—shoot them all. That is the best course. But, mind, take good aim, and let me have half-an-hour to get away. Shoot them all, but not sooner!”

With these words he turned his horse, and trotted off in the direction of Cassel, while the two lanky servants followed in angry mood.

After the gamekeeper had stood a good five minutes as if rooted to the spot, shaking his head as he looked after his master, he dashed the butt-end of his gun insolently on the ground, and said, half aloud—

“May I be cursed if I would not give one of my hands to be able to run after him, and say it was none of it true!”

“Why, mate,” exclaimed the bailiff, who had been a secret witness from behind the next bush of the whole scene, “what a strange fellow you are! It must have ended so sooner or[171] later. At present the blow has fallen; the sorrow will pass away, and we have got rid of the confounded beasts. Think of all the annoyances which we, our wives, and our children have had to bear on their account.”

“He looked so happy as he came riding along.”

“Come, come,” observed the other pressingly, “let us go and see what the wounded are doing.”

So saying he left the spot, dragging with him the gamekeeper, now grown so tender-hearted.

It was not till late in the evening that the General returned to Windhausen. For three days he was visible to no one. On the fourth day he rode over, as was his wont, to Cassel, and, going to a sculptor’s, ordered for his favourites a funeral monument, according to the design he had himself made, and with the inscription he had himself drawn up. When completed the monument was erected over the common grave of all the monkeys, on that bank of the quiet lake which was opposite the mansion, and where there is a magnificent south-western prospect. It consists of a smooth, broken column, from seven to eight feet in height, placed upon a square pedestal, two feet in height. The inscription on the column is as follows:—

In this Place
There returned to the great mass of the primitive matters constituting
Human Beings, Representatives
Of a Race of Africans, long naturalised in these Meads,
After many Births.

Not Slavery,
The Lot of their Fellow-Countrymen, the Blacks,
But perfect Freedom,
Was theirs, and the Result:
Love for their Benefactor,
Who unfortunately at last,
In consequence of their being attacked by a fit of fury
As all were fighting for one,[172]
Was compelled to sacrifice
His own pleasures to the general good.
It was decreed that Death
Should strike Sires and Sons, Grandfathers and Grandchildren,
Mothers and Babes.

Men did not quite consider them
As belonging to the Species of their fellow-men.
Them had Prometheus
Favoured with two extra hands; us with greater linguistic capabilities.
In Cunning, in the mixture of Goodness and malicious Tricks,
And in forbidden Amusements
They appeared to be a Generation of Human Beings in the Skin of Monkeys.
The Power, which is so striking, of Instinct
Should counsel the ten-fingered Observer
Indulgence towards his Fellows.

The “recluse escaped from the world” did not long survive his monkeys. He had entailed all his estates, and, in default of nearer heirs, settled them upon a collateral branch of his family, for which, previous to his death, he succeeded in obtaining the title of Count. None of his heirs, however, occupied his residence at Windhausen, and it has remained deserted and shut up. Park, forest, and promenades have been suffered to run wild, and the shady seats, with their magnificent views, extending through long arched avenues of green beech-trees, have been partially covered with the grass and weeds that have overgrown them. But the quiet lake with the Monkeys’ monument, the gigantic trees, the grottoes and hermitages, the viaduct and the simple Mausoleum, overshadowed by oaks, all still exist, and are gradually becoming developed in the light mist which legends and traditions spread around the memorials of bygone times.






Our title resembles that of a fable, but the story we are about to relate bears internal evidence of its truth.

The town of Weisstadt, in Germany, is full of philosophers, mathematicians, and savants of all kinds. On entering the place, the traveller is at once struck by the physiognomies of the inhabitants: all the faces are more or less like geometrical figures.

Herr Dummkopf, one of the innumerable professors who adorn Weisstadt, was rich though learned; nevertheless, something was wanting to complete his happiness. Every morning when he rose he addressed to himself the following remark:—“Why did the traveller Bruce never discover the peninsula of Meroë, which Herodotus saw as plainly as he saw the moon?” This thought at last absorbed him so completely, that he could not refrain from packing up his shirt and starting at once for Egypt. He passed through France, crossed the Mediterranean without observing anything, so thoroughly occupied was he with the non-discovery of the supposed peninsula. After remaining a few hours at Cairo, he pursued his journey to the ruins of Carnac. He bestowed[176] a careless glance on the Colossus of Memnon, the crypts of Osimandias, the obelisks of Luxor, and all the wonders of Egyptian Thebes; and as he continued to ascend the Nile, he saw Latopolis, Elethyd, Apollinopolis, and Syene. The ruins of these ancient towns were not honoured by a single mark of admiration: it was humiliating for the Egypt of Sesostris!

One day the sun was so hot at noon—a very natural thing in the torrid zone—that the learned Dummkopf allowed himself to be seduced by the cool aspect of the Nile, and determined to make an era in his scientific life by taking a bath in the sacred stream.

He looked around him. The desert was indeed worthy of its name. There was not even a statue of Isis, of Ibis, of Anubis, or of Serapis to be seen. The Nile flowed on in religious silence, and Dummkopf, reassured by the solitude which reigned around, hastened to take off his boots and clothes, and after arranging them carefully on the bank, plunged into the eternal river.

Dummkopf was grateful to Mother Nature for having placed a cool refreshing stream by the side of a burning desert. As a boy he had been in the habit of swimming in the Rhine of his fatherland, and now remembering the accomplishments of his youth, he struck out, turned over, floated on his back, dived, paddled like a dog, plunged like a porpoise, and again thanked Mother Nature for having, in her bountiful wisdom, placed a cool refreshing stream by the side of a burning desert. He was continuing to disport himself like a freshwater Triton when suddenly, close to him, and in the middle of the Nile, he saw a huge green snout, adorned with lion’s teeth, and lighted up with a pair of blood-red eyes.

Dummkopf instantly remembered that the Nile was fertile in crocodiles, and began to chide his memory for not having thought of that fact before.

In the meanwhile the monster was bearing down on the imprudent bather, who, though thin, by reason of excessive[177] study, was at the same time a very acceptable meal for a hungry crocodile.

For it was indeed a crocodile, and of the finest kind; a colossal and amphibious lizard, more ferocious than the tiger of Bengal or the lion of the Atlas.

Dummkopf made straight for a little island—the terror of navigators and the salvation of swimmers. He had almost reached his place of refuge—with the crocodile so close on his heels that he could feel its warm breath on the soles of his feet—when he remembered that the monster was amphibious. Another man would have been paralysed by this reflection. Not so Dummkopf. He looked before him, and seeing a friendly palm-tree within reach—it was the solitary ornament of the little islet—he ran to it, took a spring, and climbed up its branches with the agility of a squirrel.

Having perched himself in safety near the summit, the learned Professor looked down upon the Nile. The crocodile was issuing slowly from the water, shaking, as he did so, his coat of glittering scale-armour He then walked along the sand like a fish that had suddenly become a quadruped, and gradually approached the foot of the palm-tree.

Dummkopf ransacked his memory for all he had ever read about crocodiles, with the view of ascertaining whether Pliny or any other natural historian of celebrity had ever stated that they were able to climb up palm-trees.

It appeared to him that both Pliny and Saavers had testified to the climbing capabilities of the crocodile.

“Oh, Philosophy!” he mentally exclaimed, “grant that my brethren, who make mistakes in every page, may also have erred on this point.”

Suddenly he remembered with a shudder that he himself had written an article in the Weisstadt Review in which he maintained that crocodiles were in the habit of climbing up trees like cats. He wished now that he had thrown the article into the fire; but it was too late. All Weisstadt had read it.[178] It had even been translated into Arabian, and no author had yet contradicted it, although it had penetrated to Crocodilopolis itself.

The amphibious monster approached the palm-tree, looked up, and evinced the most lively joy at discovering Dummkopf among the branches. It walked round and round, looked up again, and then, recognising the impossibility of taking the stronghold by assault, sat down, as if determined to reduce it by blockade.

Here we must render homage to true science. Dummkopf, in spite of the preoccupation of the moment, was filled with regret when he found that, contrary to what he had stated in the Weisstadt Review, crocodiles did not climb trees. He saw that he had committed a gross error in Natural History, but he at the same time made up his mind never to correct it, if, by a miracle, he escaped from his present perilous position. He made the statement with a full conviction of its truth, and it added one more fact to Natural History. Crocodiles climbed up palm-trees. It was impossible to deny it now, even after sitting on a palm-tree up which a crocodile had been unable to climb. The conclusions of science must not rashly be interfered with.

In the meanwhile, the crocodile lay stretched out at the foot of the palm-tree, in calm anticipation of Dummkopf’s inevitable descent. From time to time the animal testified, by the wagging of its tail, to the pleasure it experienced in looking forward to that incident.

The naturalist, to do him justice, did not lose the opportunity of studying the habits and manners of the Egyptian crocodile, but having reviewed the animal in a scientific spirit, he again trembled for his life, for it was now evident that the blockade was to be kept up in earnest.

Hours of suspense and of imprisonment consist of 240 minutes each, but they come to an end at last. Time sometimes goes on crutches, but it proceeds nevertheless. The[179] sun went down as on the previous evening, and after a very short period of dusk the last rays of departing daylight exhibited the crocodile lying at the foot of the palm-tree, placid and horizontal.

The Professor now searched in the storehouse of his memory for some instance of a man who had passed the night on the top of a palm-tree. After going through the whole of ancient and modern history, he commenced the department of travels, and suddenly bethought him of Robinson Crusoe, which, though not usually accepted as a book of travels, is far more truthful than the great majority of works of that class. Now, Robinson Crusoe passed the first night after his shipwreck in a tree, and this tree was in all probability a palm-tree. “Why, then,” said Herr Dummkopf, “should I not do the same?”

And still fortifying himself with the example of Robinson Crusoe, the Professor drew some of the smaller branches around him, and composed himself to sleep.

But the night was long, and Dummkopf slept but little. He dreamed that he was at Weisstadt, delivering a lecture which proved that the crocodile was a fabulous animal like the Sphinx, when suddenly a shower of crocodile’s tears fell on his face. He awoke with a start, and was very near falling down on to the tail of his besieger.

The crocodile was now, in all probability, fast asleep, and Dummkopf resolved to play him a trick. “If,” said the Professor, “I could slip down the tree, and swim across the Nile without its hearing me, it would be nicely caught when it awoke in the morning and found me gone.” But having reflected that he might be caught himself, he abandoned this desperate project, and merely resolved not to go to sleep again that night.

When day broke the Professor saw that the crocodile had not been idle during the night. Instead of sleeping he had been fishing on the banks of the Nile, and the bones with[180] which the ground was strewed showed that he had not fished in vain. The monster had now had his first course, and he looked upwards towards his intended victim as if to say that he was quite ready for the second.

The Professor had certainly a terrible future before him. The contest between the besieger and the besieged was by no means equal, for the former could find as much food as he required in the waters of the adjacent Nile, while the latter saw no prospect of obtaining the slightest nourishment, and would in all probability either die from starvation or fall fainting into the jaws of his voracious assailant.

In the meanwhile Dummkopf’s stomach, a machine which in some respects is quite independent of the brain, began to murmur loudly, for it had been deprived of two meals—the supper of the previous evening and the morning’s breakfast.

Among a great many other things of which the learned Professor was ignorant, he did not know that palm-trees produced dates, a rich pulpy fruit on which the Arabs have contrived to live very well since the time of Adam, the first colonist of Arabia. However, a short time after sunrise a ray chanced to fall upon a large bunch of these valuable articles of food, which the Professor at once recognised from having seen them in the grocers’ shops of his fatherland. In Germany he had been in the habit of breakfasting on beef and sausages, supported by several slices of bread, and washed down by several glasses of wine. But in the desert he was obliged to content himself with whatever manna he could get, and to be thankful, moreover, that Providence had sent him any. He ate dates by the handful, and felt much strengthened by his repast.

After breakfast a strange and superstitious idea occurred to the Professor. He had read somewhere that crocodiles were the natural avengers of all the insults offered to Egypt by barbarian travellers. It appeared to him that there was some sense in this, for if crocodiles didn’t serve to avenge[181] something or other he was convinced they could serve no purpose at all. Then he reflected that he had passed without notice the statue of Memnon, the colossal tenor who had just commenced his morning cavatina under the influence of the sun’s rays. The divine Osimandias and the Pharaohs, as represented by the sublime pyramids, had been treated with similar disrespect; and the Professor now repented his irreverence, and vowed to kiss the big toe of Memnon, the tallest tenor in the world, if he only escaped his present danger.

After this vow the illustrious Dummkopf became more tranquil. He looked down at the crocodile, but the vow had produced no effect upon him. He did not even seem to have heard it. There he was still, watching patiently for his prey.

Dummkopf was now dying for a mouthful of cold water. Dates possess the property of producing thirst. Hence they are very desirable at dessert if the host wishes his guests to pass the bottle freely, but not otherwise. For a professor at the top of a palm-tree from which he is unable to descend, they form the most unsuitable food that can be conceived; but Herr Dummkopf had no choice—he had either to eat dates or to die of inanition. He was like Tantalus: the river was flowing at his feet, and he was unable to get a drop of water wherewith to moisten his parched lips. He again compared his position with that of Robinson Crusoe, and found that all the advantage was on the side of the latter. It was true Robinson Crusoe passed a night on a tree, but he came down the next morning, killed parrots, made them into fricasseed fowl, drank rum and water, walked about with an umbrella over his head, met no crocodiles, and found a man Friday. “Happy Robinson Crusoe!” exclaimed Dummkopf; “and yet he complained. I should like to know what he’d have done in my place, on the top of a palm-tree.”

Suddenly the sky became overcast, and the Professor was[182] filled with a joyful anticipation of rain. He had already joined his hands so as to form as large a receptacle as possible for the drops, and was promising himself a regular aquatic orgie, when all at once he remembered that in Egypt it never rains.

The crocodile seemed to understand the sufferings of the Weisstadt Tantalus. He walked to the edge of the river and swallowed several quarts of water, at the same time casting ironical glances at the unfortunate Professor. The pleasantry of masters is always intolerable. Dummkopf was disgusted and enraged; but this only increased his thirst.

He cast his eyes along the Nile, in hopes of discovering some providential sail. But then he remembered that in that part of the river, above the rapids, there was scarcely a chance of meeting with a boat of any kind. A death-like solitude reigned around, and nothing was to be seen but dark ruins, among which an occasional ibis, motionless, like a mark of admiration, was perched.

Again the Professor turned his thoughts towards Robinson Crusoe. “Certainly,” he said to himself, “if Crusoe had been in my position, at the top of a palm-tree, he would somehow or other have found means to obtain a drop of water. Come now, how would he have done it?”

Dummkopf’s mouth was on fire, and there was the great Nile rolling calmly and majestically before him.

At last Necessity, who is known to be the mother of Invention, brought her ingenious child to his aid.

The Professor clapped his hands. He had discovered an hydraulic process which would enable him to appease his thirst. How little is required to give joy to poor humankind! Here is a man on a palm-tree—a dying man who cannot escape from the jaws of a crocodile—and because he has discovered a very equivocal means of obtaining a few drops of brackish water with which to moisten his parched lips, he is convulsed with delight.


Dummkopf was proud of competing with Defoe’s hero, and set to work without delay. He began by breaking off from his palm-tree several long branches, which he spliced together by means of fibres. He then waited until the crocodile entered the water for a few minutes—by way of keeping up its character as an amphibious animal—and extended his apparatus towards the river. The leaves at the extremity of the machine imbibed a considerable quantity of water, and the Professor, drawing back his improvised pump, refreshed his calcined lips by means of the saturated foliage. He repeated the experiment several times, and, in fact, gave himself up to all the excesses of intemperance. This was an ingenious device, for which Tantalus would have given his eyes!

But, above all, Dummkopf was amused at the notion of mystifying his crocodile, who, as for that, richly deserved it.

Having no longer any anxiety as to the means of satisfying the two chief wants of existence—hunger and thirst—the Professor now began to think how he should manage for his clothes. His aboriginal costume was admirably suited to a tropical climate during the day, but remembering that during the night he had felt rather chilly, he resolved to make himself without delay a garment of green leaves. Besides, how was he to appear before the public without clothes, if by chance a boat should present itself?

Dummkopf accordingly gathered in his aërial alcove a certain quantity of the largest leaves he could find, and crossing his legs like a tailor, proceeded to make them into a vegetable paletôt, which could not be said to belong to the latest fashion, but which, on the other hand, had a primitive cut about it that was highly picturesque. Two leaves sufficed for the nightcap, which, original or not as its appearance may have been, at all events looked much better than the hats we wear in open day.

Here was Dummkopf now lodged, fed, and clothed at the[184] expense of Nature. Happiness is altogether relative; and, for a time, Dummkopf was happy indeed. He was proud of his inventions, and from the height of his palm-tree looked down upon Robinson Crusoe with contempt.

As he was reflecting calmly on his happiness he saw the monster, no longer horizontal, at the foot of the tree. He was making one last endeavour to take it by storm, but failing in the attempt had forthwith recourse to sapping and mining. He went to work with the air of a crocodile who had made up his mind, and who had said to himself, “There must be an end to this.”

Dummkopf shuddered as he heard the teeth of the monster grinding against the bark of the tree.

But the molars and incisors of the crocodile are so arranged that they can do no serious harm to the palm-tree; they can tear the bark off, but cannot pierce or crush the trunk. Dummkopf, however, was ignorant of this fact, and expected every minute that his asylum would fall to the ground, and leave him a prey to the horrid monster into whose scaly body he would enter as into a tomb of shell, but without the smallest epitaph to inform the world of the numerous virtues he possessed.

The crocodile next attacked the tree with his tail as with a battering-ram. How the Professor quivered when the tree shook! And the worst of it was, that, independently of the most terrible result that could possibly take place, there was the certainty that the Professor would lose a large portion if not the whole of his provisions, unless the monster desisted from his sanguinary assault; for with each blow from the crocodile’s tail down came a bunch of dates, and when, as often happened, the fruit fell on the animal’s back, his fury redoubled.

At last Dummkopf could stand it no longer. Convinced that life was not worth defending at such a cost, he resolved to throw himself from the top of the palm-tree in order to find[185] repose in death. Full of this desperate idea he stood up, put aside the branches which might have kept him back at the edge of the precipice, and thrusting one foot resolutely forward kept the other firmly in its place. An honourable thought checked him on the very brink of the abyss. Dummkopf had no family, no wife, no children, no nephews; it was his duty then to remain in the world as the sole representative of the Dummkopfs. Man is ingenious, even in the midst of his despair. If he has a wife and children, he wants to live for their sake; if he is alone in the world, he will live for his own benefit.

Dummkopf was very grateful to himself after coming to this heroic resolution. He even called himself a coward for having entertained for an instant the idea of offering himself up as a sacrifice to the voracity of an amphibious monster.

As he was now determined not to die if he could by any means avoid it, the Professor began to consider whether it would be possible to enjoy, at the top of his palm-tree, that sort of happiness which a civilised man has a right to expect. The crocodile had expended all his force in vain. It was evident that the palm-tree was an impregnable fortress as far as his attacks were concerned. The climate was superb. At the foot of the house—that is to say, of the palm-tree—ran a magnificent river. Thanks to the hydraulic apparatus there could never be any want of water; and as for food, there were dates in abundance. The crocodile instead of being terrible was now only amusing, and as it was clearly proved that the palm-tree could suffer no injury from the monster’s wrath, the Professor, in his lively moments, sometimes went so far as to pelt him with date-stones.

Every morning when the sun rose, Dummkopf bent his ear towards the desert and listened to the cavatina of Memnon, the colossal tenor. Then after breakfast, if he was pleased with the crocodile, he threw him down a few rotten dates, and was amused to see how voraciously the monster devoured[186] them. Between breakfast and dinner he read in the library of his memory, and studied the mysterious monuments by which he was surrounded. When a profound thought occurred to him, he took a stylus, formed out of a twig, and jotted it down on a leaf which served as papyrus. Then he read it over several times, and put it away in a place of safety.

There were no neighbours to watch his conduct, no journals to criticise his thoughts, no tax-gatherers to trouble him about overdue rates. He was as free as the air, and only wondered why the misanthropes of society did not imitate Simon Stylites or himself, and retire for the rest of their lives to the top of some column or palm-tree.

We must now leave our anchorite in his palm-tree, and proceed to the opposite bank of the Nile, where Herr von Thorigkeit, the celebrated botanist of Berlin, was engaged in a hopeless search after yellow lotuses. Herodotus, it is true, saw yellow lotuses, but then Herodotus possessed the peculiarity of seeing things that did not exist. At all events, since his time the yellow lotus has not been met with, and for that reason conscientious botanists are perpetually looking for it.

Herr von Thorigkeit, then, was searching for the yellow lotus, and he was accompanied by two Arabs armed with carbines.

There are some things, ordinary enough in themselves, which have an overpowering effect on the imagination when they are seen in the desert. What, for instance, would be the feelings of a traveller who should discover in the midst of the Sahara a neat little house with the words—“Reading room, admission one penny,” over the entrance? Von Thorigkeit was behaving naturally enough when he uttered a cry of dismay which resounded along the left bank of the Nile.

He had seen two boots, one proud and erect, the other bent down as if with fatigue. Dummkopf’s clothes had disappeared, carried away by the stream, or perhaps swallowed[187] by some omnivorous crocodile, but there were the boots standing on a ledge of rock.

The legitimate dismay of the botanist will now be understood. He had seen two boots on the left bank of the Nile: one proud and erect, the other bent down as if with fatigue.

The faithful Arabs, who had never seen a pair of boots in their lives, became terrified with the terror of the botanist, and bravely fired at the wellingtons, which fell riddled with balls.

From the top of his palm-tree the Professor heard the report, and at first felt inclined to curse the troublesome individual who had come to disturb him in his solitude and meditation. But human weakness at last gained the day, and he resolved to make signals of distress to the three men whom he now perceived on the left bank of the Nile.

He broke off a long branch from the palm-tree, stripped it of its leaves everywhere but at the end, where he left a large tuft, and waved it vigorously above his head with one hand, while with the other he threw into the Nile a quantity of dates, the only projectiles at his command.

The botanist, who was surrounded by that silence which is known to aëronauts alone, turned round at the sound of the dates falling into the water, and this time experienced a surprise which was greater even than the former one. The apparition of the boots was forgotten: he saw a palm-tree with a lofty crest, which waved to and fro in the midst of a perfectly calm atmosphere! After the first shock, this discovery caused him infinite delight, and he would have given all the yellow lotuses in the world for this phenomenon of a palm-tree.

Von Thorigkeit opened his note-book and wrote in it the following lines: “In Upper Egypt there exists a kind of palm-tree, which possesses the peculiarities of the aloe; with this difference, however, that the stem of the aloe attains an elevation of twenty feet above the level of the soil, and remains[188] motionless, while the palm-tree of Upper Egypt agitates the top of its stem vertically and with a movement of prodigious regularity. We have named this tree the Von Thorigkeit palm.”

Having written this, the botanist made a sketch of the palm-tree and showed it to the two Arabs, having no other public to exhibit it to. The children of the desert, with their lynx-like eyes, had just discovered a human form beneath the thick foliage of the island palm-tree, and they resorted to the most energetic gestures in order to make the botanist see it too. But Von Thorigkeit could think of nothing but the grandeur of his discovery and the beauty of his drawing. He paid no attention to the gestures of the Arabs, and thought only of the sensation that would be produced in the learned world by the Von Thorigkeit palm.

The two Arabs persisted in their pantomime, which said as plainly as possible: “Look there on that little island; there is a human being there up in the palm-tree; he is in danger; he is making signals, and we must go to his aid at once.”

Von Thorigkeit pulled out a pocket telescope, shrugging his shoulders at the same time with the air of a man who makes a concession merely from politeness, and looked carelessly towards the Von Thorigkeit palm-tree. He had now his third surprise within the hour—the last completely absorbing the two others. He had seen distinctly a human face, and even a German face, surrounded by leaves; and a human hand shaking a naked branch with a tuft of foliage at the end. He replaced his telescope in his pocket with regret, read his article again, cast another glance at his drawing, and after reflecting, like Brutus, whether he should destroy his two children or let them live, decided at length upon the latter course. “Well, so much the worse,” he said to himself: “what is written is written, and I shall not cut out a single word. Besides, as the aloe exists the Von Thorigkeit palm-tree[189] might have existed, if Nature had only seen its utility; I see its utility, and I shall let it remain.”

This resolution having been taken, the three men held a council. The first thing to do was to find a boat, which, after two hours’ walking, they met with. It was a fishing vessel, and the botanist had only to hold out a piece of gold and to point to the river in order to make the fisherman understand what was required of him. He then pointed down the stream, and said, in a haughty voice, as if the fisherman was likely to understand him—

“The island of the Von Thorigkeit palm-tree!”

The pantomimic direction would have sufficed.

They descended the Nile. The island of the Von Thorigkeit palm-tree was soon visible; and, as they approached it, the Arabs, with their lynx-like eyes, manifested some uneasiness, and exchanged signs of intelligence. After a quarter of an hour’s rowing, doubt was no longer possible. They had really seen an enormous crocodile keeping watch beneath the palm-tree.

They imparted their discovery to the botanist, who now received his fourth surprise in the course of the day, and trembled with cold in a temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit. However, for the honour of his fatherland, the learned German endeavoured to conceal his alarm, which, it must be admitted, was natural enough on the part of a botanist, who was accustomed only to hunt for flowers, and who had nothing whatever to say to the amphibious monsters of the Nile.

The Arabs were talking quietly among themselves, like men accustomed to hunt crocodiles. They put fresh caps on the nipples of their guns, stood up firmly in the fore part of the boat, and told the fisherman to be careful with his oars.

The crocodile saw the boat approaching, but did not know whether it brought prey or peril to his shore. In the meanwhile he made ready either for defence or flight, according to the number and importance of the invaders. He lay[190] stretched out at the edge of the river, as motionless as a crocodile in a museum; but he kept his mouth wide open, ready to swallow the first enemy who landed.

The two Arabs, who were thoroughly acquainted with the habits and manners of the animal, took aim, uttered a syllable at the same moment, and their two shots sounded as one. The bullets entered, at the only vulnerable spot, the open mouth, and went through the whole length of the crocodile’s body.

The monster shook his head with contortions so comic, that they called forth shouts of laughter from the first floor of the palm-tree. Then, casting forth a torrent of blood upon the sand, he closed his tearful eyes and moved no more.

Dummkopf arranged his vegetable costume the best way he could, looked for his gloves merely through habit, and not finding them, came down as he was. The Arabs, like all their race, were grave men, but their seriousness disappeared in the wildest laughter when they saw Dummkopf’s costume. The botanist himself, now reassured by the death of the crocodile, could scarcely restrain his hilarity; but he bit his lips, and after shaking hands with his fellow-countryman, begged him to communicate his adventures. Dummkopf commenced by requesting his learned friend to check the unbecoming mirth of the Arabs, who were threatened with the vengeance of the Prussian consul in case they did not instantly desist.

Then Von Thorigkeit in the most generous manner offered Dummkopf his paletôt, which Dummkopf naturally accepted, retiring for some minutes behind the palm-tree in order to change his clothes, as he expressed it, though he might have said to dress himself.

Having taken a solemn farewell of his palm-tree, Dummkopf got into the boat, taking with him the crocodile and the coat of leaves as reminiscences of his adventures, and also as corroborative proofs. These precious relics were destined for[191] the “Neue Museum” at Berlin, and Herr von Thorigkeit, who was attached to the Berlin University, hastened to thank Herr Dummkopf in the name of the Prussian capital.

Dummkopf was equally courteous to the worthy botanist. He thanked him in the name of science for his discovery of the Von Thorigkeit palm-tree, which added another member to the already numerous family of palms. He even promised to write a notice in the Weisstadt Review, to prove that the palm-tree just discovered through the indefatigable zeal of Von Thorigkeit belonged to the same species as the aloe of Ceylon.

At the nearest village a complete Arab costume was procured for Dummkopf, who, with the honesty which always distinguishes true science, restored the paletôt to Von Thorigkeit.

The two friends returned to Germany together, and soon afterwards an article signed Dummkopf appeared in the Weisstadt Review, in which full justice was done to the labours of the intrepid botanist and traveller, Von Thorigkeit, who had discovered the Von Thorigkeit palm-tree at the risk of his life, and not until he had killed two black reptiles of the cobra capella species. The article was illustrated with a wood-cut, which represented the new tree agitating its tuft in the air.

Von Thorigkeit also did his duty, for as soon as he reached Berlin he made known to the world that Herr Dummkopf, who had ventured above the third cataract, had rectified the errors of all the previous maps, and that in the course of his expedition he had killed two crocodiles by means of electricity.

Those who have meditated on the nature of man will not be astonished to hear the end of this true story. Dummkopf is at present the proprietor of the Weisstadt Review. He is a lecturer in the Weisstadt University, and in addition to all this, he has a wife and six children. Well, in spite of the[192] Review, in spite of the lectureship, in spite even of his wife and six children, Dummkopf, at certain moments, regrets the peaceful life he led in his aërial apartment at the top of the palm-tree.

Such is man! a being full of contradictions!






The world has scarcely seen a worthier traveller or better naturalist than Charles Waterton. In an eminent degree he possessed the qualities essential to the study of the animal world. A good eye, a sympathy with moving nature, untiring patience, and a contempt for the comfortable and luxurious things of the earth—endued with these qualities, he had the necessary parts of a man who was sure to observe and note the admirable works of the Creator. His “Wanderings” in North and South America contain original descriptions of the objects to be seen in that magnificent continent, which have never been surpassed for their clearness and distinctness. In this volume we shall only refer to a few of his notes, which have more particular reference to those animals whose lives, like the monkeys, are spent more or less in the branches or under the leaves of the sheltering trees, the monarchs of the stupendous forests. Of Guiana he writes that four-footed animals are scarce there, considering how very thinly the forests are inhabited by man. The leopard, who is very much in the trees, and is called there a tiger, is found, and so are tiger-cats, fiercest and cruellest of all the feline race. The red monkey, erroneously called the baboon, is heard there oftener than he is seen; while the common brown monkey,[196] the bisa, and sacawinki rove from tree to tree and amuse the stranger as he journeys. In the trees, too, you will see the polecat, the opossum, and now and then you will find a porcupine on a branch above your head. To some readers the famous story of the Coon may not be known, so we will tell it. An American colonel had become very famous for his skill in shooting the opossum, and it was said that the knowledge of his prowess had extended even to the animals he shot so well. It is very difficult for a novice to shoot opossum, because they lie upon the branch so closely to it, that it is with great difficulty an unpractised observer can see the animal. Nevertheless, the marksman became so known to the coons, as opossum are vulgarly called, that they gave themselves up as lost directly they espied him on their trail. “Is that you, colonel?” “Yes,” would reply the great shot. “Then I’ll come down,” rejoined the coon, who thought it more prudent to be taken captive and have a chance hereafter of escape, than to be shot there and then to death by the unerring tube of the colonel’s rifle.

Now listen to Mr. Waterton, as he describes that extraordinary animal, the sloth:—

“This, too, is the native country of the sloth. His looks, his gestures, and his cries, all conspire to entreat you to take pity on him. These are the only weapons of defence which nature hath given him. While other animals assemble in herds, or in pairs range through these boundless wilds, the sloth is solitary, and almost stationary; he cannot escape from you. It is said, his piteous moans make the tiger relent, and turn out of the way. Do not, then, level your gun at him, or pierce him with a poisoned arrow; he has never hurt one living creature. A few leaves, and those of the commonest and coarsest kind, are all he asks for his support. On comparing him with other animals, you would say that you could perceive deficiency, deformity, and superabundance in his composition. He has no cutting teeth, and, though four[197] stomachs, he still wants the long intestines of ruminating animals. He has only one inferior aperture, as in birds. He has no soles to his feet, nor has he the power of moving his toes separately. His hair is flat, and puts you in mind of grass withered by the wintry blast. His legs are too short; they appear deformed by the manner in which they are joined to the body; and when he is on the ground, they seem as if only calculated to be used in climbing trees. He has forty-six ribs, while the elephant has only forty; and his claws are disproportionately long. Were you to mark down, upon a graduated scale, the different claims to superiority amongst the four-footed animals, this poor ill-formed creature’s claim would be last upon the lowest degree. His native haunts have hitherto been little known, and probably little looked into. Those who have written on this singular animal have remarked that he is in a perpetual state of pain, that he is proverbially slow in his movements, that he is a prisoner in space, and that as soon as he has consumed all the leaves of the tree upon which he had mounted, he rolls himself up in the form of a ball, and then falls to the ground. This is not the case.

“If the naturalists who have written the history of the sloth had gone into the wilds, in order to examine his haunts and economy, they would not have drawn the foregoing conclusions; they would have learned, that though all other quadrupeds may be described while resting on the ground, the sloth is an exception to this rule, and that his history must be written while he is in the tree.

“This singular animal is destined by nature to be produced, to live, and to die in the trees; and to do justice to him, naturalists must examine him in this his upper element. He is a scarce and solitary animal, and being good food, he is never allowed to escape. He inhabits remote and gloomy forests, where snakes take up their abode, and where cruelly-stinging ants and scorpions, and swamps, and innumerable[198] thorny shrubs and bushes, obstruct the steps of civilised man. Were you to draw your own conclusions from the descriptions which have been given of the sloth, you would probably suspect that no naturalist has actually gone into the wilds with the fixed determination to find him out and examine his haunts, and see whether nature has committed any blunder in the formation of this extraordinary creature, which appears to us so forlorn and miserable, so ill put together, and so totally unfit to enjoy the blessings which have been so bountifully given to the rest of animated nature; for, as it has formerly been remarked, he has no soles to his feet, and he is evidently ill at ease when he tries to move on the ground, and it is then that he looks up in your face with a countenance that says, ‘Have pity on me, for I am in pain and sorrow.’

“It mostly happens that Indians and negroes are the people who catch the sloth, and bring it to the white man: hence it may be conjectured that the erroneous accounts we have hitherto had of the sloth have not been penned down with the slightest intention to mislead the reader, or give him an exaggerated history, but that these errors have naturally arisen by examining the sloth in those places where nature never intended that he should be exhibited.

“However, we are now in his own domain. Man but little frequents these thick and noble forests, which extend far and wide on every side of us. This, then, is the proper place to go in quest of the sloth. We will first take a near view of him. By obtaining a knowledge of his anatomy, we shall be enabled to account for his movements hereafter, when we see him in his proper haunts. His fore-legs, or, more correctly speaking, his arms, are apparently much too long, while his hind-legs are very short, and look as if they could be bent almost to the shape of a corkscrew. Both the fore and hind-legs, by their form, and by the manner in which they are joined to the body, are quite incapacitated from acting in a perpendicular direction, or in supporting it on the earth as[199] the bodies of other quadrupeds are supported, by their legs. Hence, when you place him on the floor, his belly touches the ground. Now, granted that he supported himself on his legs like other animals, nevertheless he would be in pain, for he has no soles to his feet, and his claws are very sharp and long, and curved; so that, were his body supported by his feet, it would be by their extremities, just as your body would be, were you to throw yourself on all fours, and try to support it on the ends of your toes and fingers—a trying position. Were the floor of glass, or of a polished surface, the sloth would actually be quite stationary; but as the ground is generally rough, with little protuberances upon it, such as stones, or roots of grass, &c., this just suits the sloth, and he moves his fore-legs in all directions, in order to find something to lay hold of; and when he has succeeded he pulls himself forward, and is thus enabled to travel onwards, but at the same time in so tardy and awkward a manner as to acquire him the name of sloth.

“Indeed, his looks and his gestures evidently betray his uncomfortable situation; and as a sigh every now and then escapes him, we may be entitled to conclude that he is actually in pain.

“Some years ago I kept a sloth in my room for several months. I often took him out of the house and placed him upon the ground, in order to have an opportunity of observing his motions. If the ground were rough, he would pull himself forwards, by means of his fore-legs, at a pretty good pace; and he invariably immediately shaped his course to the nearest tree; but if I put him on a smooth and well-trodden part of the road, he appeared to be in trouble and distress. His favourite abode was the back of a chair; and after getting all his legs in a line upon the topmost part of it, he would hang there for hours together, and often, with a low and inward cry, would seem to invite me to take notice of him.


“The sloth, in its wild state, spends its whole life in trees, and never leaves them but through force, or by accident. An all-ruling Providence has ordered man to tread on the surface of the earth, the eagle to soar in the expanse of the skies, and the monkey and squirrel to inhabit the trees: still these may change their relative situations without feeling much inconvenience; but the sloth is doomed to spend his whole life in the trees; and what is more extraordinary, not upon the branches, like the squirrel and the monkey, but under them. He moves suspended from the branch, he rests suspended from it, and he sleeps suspended from it. To enable him to do this, he must have a very different formation from that of any other known quadruped.

“Hence his seemingly bungled conformation is at once accounted for; and in lieu of the sloth leading a painful life, and entailing a melancholy and miserable existence on its progeny, it is but fair to surmise that it just enjoys life as much as any other animal, and that its extraordinary formation and singular habits are but further proofs to engage us to admire the wonderful works of Omnipotence.

“It must be observed that the sloth does not hang head downwards like the vampire. When asleep he supports himself from a branch parallel to the earth. He first seizes the branch with one arm, and then with the other; and after that, brings up both his legs, one by one, to the same branch, so that all four are in a line: he seems perfectly at rest in this position. Now, had he a tail, he would be at a loss to know what to do with it in this position: were he to draw it up within his legs, it would interfere with them; and were he to let it hang down, it would become the sport of the winds. Thus his deficiency of tail is a benefit to him; it is merely an apology for a tail, scarcely exceeding an inch and a half in length.

“I observed, when he was climbing, that he never used his arms both together, but first one and then the other, and so[201] on alternately. There is a singularity in his hair, different from that of all other animals, and, I believe, hitherto unnoticed by naturalists; his hair is thick and coarse at the extremity, and gradually tapers to the root, where it becomes fine as a spider’s web. His fur has so much the hue of the moss which grows on the branches of the trees, that it is very difficult to make him out when he is at rest.

“The male of the three-toed sloth has a longitudinal bar of very fine black hair on his back, rather lower than the shoulder-blades; on each side of this black bar there is a space of yellow hair, equally fine; it has the appearance of being pressed into the body, and looks exactly as if it had been singed. If we examine the anatomy of his fore-legs, we shall immediately perceive, by their firm and muscular texture, how very capable they are of supporting the pendent weight of his body, both in climbing and at rest; and, instead of pronouncing them a bungled composition, as a celebrated naturalist has done, we shall consider them as remarkably well calculated to perform their extraordinary functions.

“As the sloth is an inhabitant of forests within the tropics, where the trees touch each other in the greatest profusion, there seems to be no reason why he should confine himself to one tree alone for food, and entirely strip it of its leaves. During the many years I have ranged the forests, I have never seen a tree in such a state of nudity; indeed, I would hazard a conjecture, that, by the time the animal had finished the last of the old leaves, there would be a new crop on the part of the tree he had stripped first, ready for him to begin again, so quick is the process of vegetation in these countries.

“There is a saying amongst the Indians, that when the wind blows the sloth begins to travel. In calm weather he remains tranquil, probably not liking to cling to the brittle extremity of the branches, lest they should break with him in passing from one tree to another; but, as soon as the wind rises, the branches of the neighbouring trees become interwoven,[202] and then the sloth seizes hold of them, and pursues his journey in safety. There is seldom an entire day of calm in these forests. The trade-wind generally sets in about ten o’clock in the morning, and thus the sloth may set off after breakfast, and get a considerable way before dinner. He travels at a good round pace; and were you to see him pass from tree to tree, as I have done, you would never think of calling him a sloth.

“Thus it would appear that the different histories we have of this quadruped are erroneous on two accounts: first, that the writers of them, deterred by difficulties and local annoyances, have not paid sufficient attention to him in his native haunts; and secondly, they have described him in a situation in which he was never intended by nature to cut a figure—I mean on the ground. The sloth is as much at a loss to proceed on his journey upon a smooth and level floor as a man would be who had to walk a mile in stilts upon a line of feather beds.

“One day, as we were crossing the Essequibo, I saw a large two-toed sloth on the ground upon the bank; how he had got there nobody could tell: the Indian said he had never surprised a sloth in such a situation before: he would hardly have come there to drink, for both above and below the place the branches of the trees touched the water, and afforded him an easy and safe access to it. Be this as it may, though the trees were not above twenty yards from him, he could not make his way through the sand time enough to escape before we landed. As soon as we got up to him he threw himself upon his back, and defended himself in gallant style with his fore-legs. “Come, poor fellow,” said I to him, “if thou hast got into a hobble to-day, thou shalt not suffer for it: I’ll take no advantage of thee in misfortune; the forest is large enough both for thee and me to rove in: go thy ways up above, and enjoy thyself in these endless wilds: it is more than probable thou wilt never have another interview[203] with man. So fare thee well.” On saying this, I took a long stick which was lying there, held it for him to hook on, and then conveyed him to a high and stately mora. He ascended with wonderful rapidity, and in about a minute he was almost at the top of the tree. He now went off in a side direction, and caught hold of a branch of a neighbouring tree; he then proceeded towards the heart of the forest. I stood looking on, lost in amazement at his singular mode of progress. I followed him with my eye till the intervening branches closed in betwixt us: and then I lost sight for ever of the two-toed sloth. I was going to add, that I never saw a sloth take to his heels in such earnest; but the expression will not do, for the sloth has no heels.

“That which naturalists have advanced of his being so tenacious of life is perfectly true. I saw the heart of one beat for half an hour after it was taken out of the body. The wourali poison seems to be the only thing that will kill it quickly. On reference to a former part of these Wanderings, it will be seen that a poisoned arrow killed the sloth in about ten minutes.

“So much for this harmless, unoffending animal. He holds a conspicuous place in the catalogue of the animals of the New World. Though naturalists have made no mention of what follows, still it is not less true on that account. The sloth is the only quadruped known which spends its whole life from the branch of a tree, suspended by his feet. I have paid uncommon attention to him in his native haunts. The monkey and squirrel will seize a branch with their fore-feet, and pull themselves up, and rest or run upon it; but the sloth, after seizing it, still remains suspended, and suspended moves along under the branch, till he can lay hold of another. Whenever I have seen him in his native woods, whether at rest, or asleep, or on his travels, I have always observed that he was suspended from the branch of a tree. When his form and anatomy are attentively considered, it will appear evident[204] that the sloth cannot be at ease in any situation where his body is higher or above his feet.”

Another tree-inhabitant is that curious, almost fabulous, creature, the vampire. Mr. Waterton says of them—“At the close of day, the vampires leave the hollow trees, whither they had fled at the morning’s dawn, and scour along the river’s banks in quest of prey. On waking from sleep, the astonished traveller finds his hammock all stained with blood. It is the vampire that hath sucked him. Not man alone, but every unprotected animal, is exposed to his depredations; and so gently does this nocturnal surgeon draw the blood, that, instead of being roused, the patient is lulled into a still profounder sleep. There are two species of vampire in Demerara, and both suck living animals: one is rather larger than the common bat; the other measures about two feet from wing to wing extended. As there was a free entrance and exit to the vampire, in the loft near the Essequibo where I slept, I had many a fine opportunity of paying attention to this winged lancer. He does not always live on blood. When the moon shone bright, and the fruit of the banana-tree was ripe, I could see him approach and eat it. He would also bring into the loft, from the forest, a green round fruit, something like the wild guava, and about the size of a nutmeg. There was something also, in the blossom of the sawarri nut-tree, which was grateful to him; for on coming up Waratilla creek, in a moonlight night, I saw several vampires fluttering round the top of the sawarri-tree, and every now and then the blossoms, which they had broken off, fell into the water. They certainly did not drop off naturally, for on examining several of them, they appeared quite fresh and blooming. So I concluded the vampires pulled them from the tree, either to get at the incipient fruit, or to catch the insects which often take up their abode in flowers.

“The vampire, in general, measures about twenty-six inches from wing to wing extended, though I once killed one[205] which measured thirty-two inches. He frequents old abandoned houses and hollow trees; and sometimes a cluster of them may be seen in the forest hanging head downwards from the branch of a tree.

“Goldsmith seems to have been aware that the vampire hangs in clusters; for in the Deserted Village, speaking of America, he says—

“‘And matted woods, where birds forget to sing,
But silent bats in drowsy clusters cling.’

“The vampire has a curious membrane, which rises from the nose, and gives it a very singular appearance. It has been remarked before, that there are two species of vampire in Guiana, a larger and a smaller. The larger sucks men and other animals; the smaller seems to confine himself chiefly to birds. I learnt from a gentleman, high up in the river Demerara, that he was completely unsuccessful with his fowls, on account of the small vampire. He showed me some that had been sucked the night before, and they were scarcely able to walk.

“Some years ago I went to the river Paumaron with a Scotch gentleman, by name Tarbet. We hung our hammocks in the thatched loft of a planter’s house. Next morning I heard this gentleman muttering in his hammock, and now and then letting fall an imprecation or two, just about the time he ought to have been saying his morning prayers. ‘What is the matter, sir?’ said I, softly; ‘is anything amiss?’ ‘What’s the matter!’ answered he, surlily; ‘why, the vampires have been sucking me to death.’ As soon as there was light enough, I went to his hammock, and saw it much stained with blood. ‘There,’ said he, thrusting his foot out of the hammock, ‘see how these infernal imps have been drawing my life’s blood.’ On examining his foot, I found the vampire had tapped his great toe: there was a wound somewhat less than that made by a leech; the blood was still oozing from it; I conjectured he might have lost from ten to twelve ounces of blood. Whilst[206] examining it, I think I put him into a worse humour by remarking that a European surgeon would not have been so generous as to have blooded him without making a charge. He looked up in my face, but did not say a word; I saw he was of opinion that I had better have spared this piece of ill-timed levity.

“I had often wished to have been once sucked by the vampire, in order that I might have it in my power to say it had really happened to me. There can be no pain in the operation, for the patient is always asleep when the vampire is sucking him; and as for the loss of a few ounces of blood, that would be a trifle in the long run. Many a night have I slept with my foot out of the hammock to tempt this winged surgeon, expecting that he would be there; but it was all in vain; the vampire never sucked me, and I could never account for his not doing so, for we were inhabitants of the same loft for months together.”

The naturalist’s description of the river Demerara is a beautiful piece of writing:—

“He whose eye can distinguish the various beauties of uncultivated nature, and whose ear is not shut to the wild sounds in the woods, will be delighted in passing the river Demerara. Every now and then the maam or tinamou sends forth one long and plaintive whistle from the depth of the forest, and then stops; whilst the yelping of the toucan, and the shrill voice of the bird called pi-pi-yo, are heard during the interval. The campanero never fails to attract the attention of the passenger: at a distance of nearly three miles you may hear this snow-white bird tolling every four or five minutes like the distant convent-bell. From six to nine in the morning, the forests resound with the mingled cries and strains of the feathered race; after this they gradually die away. From eleven to three all nature is hushed as in a midnight silence, and scarce a note is heard, saving that of the campanero and the pi-pi-yo; it is then that, oppressed by the solar heat, the[207] birds retire to the thickest shade, and wait for the refreshing cool of evening.

“At sundown the vampires, bats, and goat-suckers dart from their lonely retreat, and skim along the trees on the river’s bank. The different kinds of frogs almost stun the ear with their hoarse and hollow-sounding croaking, while the owls and goat-suckers lament and mourn all night long.

“About two hours before daybreak you will hear the red monkey moaning as though in deep distress; the houtou, a solitary bird, and only found in the thickest recesses of the forest, distinctly articulates “houtou, houtou,” in a low and plaintive tone, an hour before sunrise; the maam whistles about the same hour; the hannaquoi, pataca, and maroudi announce his near approach to the eastern horizon, and the parrots and the parroquets confirm his arrival there.

“The crickets chirp from sunset to sunrise, and often during the day when the weather is cloudy. The beterouge is extremely numerous in these extensive wilds, and not only man, but beasts and birds, are tormented by it. Mosquitoes are very rare after you pass the third island in the Demerara, and sand-flies but seldom appear.

“Courteous reader, here thou hast the outlines of an amazing landscape given thee; thou wilt see that the principal parts of it are but faintly traced, some of them scarcely visible at all, and that the shades are wholly wanting. If thy soul partakes of the ardent flame which the persevering Mungo Park’s did, these outlines will be enough for thee: they will give thee some idea of what a noble country this is; and if thou hast but courage to set about giving the world a finished picture of it, neither materials to work on, nor colours to paint it in its true shades, will be wanting to thee. It may appear a difficult task at a distance; but look close at it, and it is nothing at all; provided thou hast but a quiet mind, little more is necessary, and the genius which presides over these wilds will kindly help thee through the rest. She will[208] allow thee to slay the fawn and cut down the mountain-cabbage for thy support, and to select from every part of her domain whatever may be necessary for the work thou art about; but having killed a pair of doves in order to enable thee to give mankind a true and proper description of them, thou must not destroy a third through wantonness, or to show what a good marksman thou art: that would only blot the picture thou art finishing, not colour it.

“Though retired from the haunts of men, and even without a friend with thee, thou would not find it solitary. The crowing of the hannaquoi will sound in thine ears like the daybreak town-clock; and the wren and thrush will join thee in thy matin hymn to thy Creator, to thank Him for thy night’s rest.

“At noon the Genius will lead thee to the troely, one leaf of which will defend thee from both sun and rain. And if, in the cool of the evening, thou hast been tempted to stray too far from thy place of abode, and art deprived of light to write down the information thou hast collected, the fire-fly, which thou wilt see in almost every bush around thee, will be thy candle. Hold it over thy pocket-book, in any position which thou knowest will not hurt it, and it will afford thee ample light. And when thou hast done with it, put it kindly back again on the next branch to thee. It will want no other reward for its services.

“When in thy hammock, should the thought of thy little crosses and disappointments, in thy ups and downs through life, break in upon thee, and throw thee into a pensive mood, the owl will bear thee company. She will tell thee that hard has been her fate too; and at intervals, ‘Whip-poor-Will,’ and ‘Willy come go,’ will take up the tale of sorrow. Ovid has told thee how the owl once boasted the human form, and lost it for a very small offence; and were the poet alive now, he would inform thee that ‘Whip-poor-Will’ and ‘Willy come go’ are the shades of those poor African and Indian slaves[209] who died worn out and broken-hearted. They wail and cry ‘Whip-poor-Will,’ ‘Willy come go,’ all night long; and often, when the moon shines, you see them sitting on the green turf, near the houses of those whose ancestors tore them from the bosom of their helpless families, which all probably perished through grief and want, after their support was gone.”

The Essequibo charmed Waterton. “Here the finest green-heart grows, and wallaba, purple-heart, siloabali, sawari, buletre, tauronira, and mora, are met with in vast abundance, far and near, towering up in majestic grandeur, straight as pillars, sixty or seventy feet high, without a knot or branch.

“Traveller, forget for a little while the idea thou hast of wandering further on, and stop and look at this grand picture of vegetable nature; it is a reflection of the crowd thou hast lately been in, and though a silent monitor, it is not a less eloquent one on that account. See that noble purple-heart before thee! Nature has been kind to it. Not a hole, not the least oozing from its trunk, to show that its best days are passed. Vigorous in youthful blooming beauty, it stands, the ornament of these sequestered wilds, and tacitly rebukes those base ones of thine own species who have been hardy enough to deny the existence of Him who ordered it to flourish here.

“Behold that one next to it! Hark! how the hammerings of the red-headed woodpecker resound through its distempered boughs! See what a quantity of holes he has made in it, and how its bark is stained with the drops which trickle down from them! The lightning, too, has blasted one side of it. Nature looks pale and wan in its leaves, and her resources are nearly dried up in its extremities: its sap is tainted; a mortal sickness, slow as a consumption, and as sure in its consequences, has long since entered its frame, vitiating and destroying the wholesome juices there.

“Step a few paces aside, and cast thine eye on that remnant[210] of a mora behind it. Best part of its branches, once so high and ornamental, now lie on the ground in sad confusion, one upon the other, all shattered and fungus-grown, and a prey to millions of insects, which are busily employed in destroying them. One branch of it still looks healthy! Will it recover? No, it cannot: Nature has already run her course, and that healthy-looking branch is only as a fallacious good symptom in him who is just about to die of a mortification, when he feels no more pain and fancies his distemper has left him; it is as the momentary gleam of a wintry sun’s ray close to the western horizon. See! while we are speaking a gust of wind has brought the tree to the ground, and made room for its successor.

“Come further on, and examine that apparently luxuriant tauronira on thy right hand. It boasts a verdure not its own; they are false ornaments it wears; the bush-rope and bird-vines have clothed it from the root to its topmost branch. The succession of fruit which it hath borne, like good cheer in the houses of the great, has invited the birds to resort to it, and they have disseminated beautiful, though destructive, plants on its branches, which like the distempers vice brings into the human frame, rob it of all its health and vigour; they have shortened its days, and probably in another year they will finally kill it, long before nature intended that it should die.

“Ere thou leavest this interesting scene look on the ground around thee, and see what everything here below must come to.

“Behold that newly-fallen wallaba! The whirlwind has uprooted it in its prime, and it has brought down to the ground a dozen small ones in its fall. Its bark has already begun to drop off! And that heart of mora close by it is fast yielding, in spite of its firm, tough texture.

“The tree which thou passedst but a little ago, and which perhaps has laid over yonder brook for years, can now hardly[211] support itself, and in a few months more it will have fallen into the water.

“Put thy foot on that large trunk thou seest to the left. It seems entire amid the surrounding fragments. Mere outward appearance, delusive phantom of what it once was! Tread on it, and, like the fuss-ball, it will break into dust.

“Sad and silent mementoes to the giddy traveller as he wanders on! Prostrate remnants of vegetable nature, how incontestably ye prove what we must all at last come to, and how plain your mouldering ruins show that the firmest texture avails us nought when Heaven wills that we should cease to be!—

“‘The cloud-capt towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inhabit, shall dissolve,
And, like the baseless fabric of a vision,
Leave not a wreck behind.’

“Cast thine eye around thee, and see the thousands of nature’s productions. Take a view of them from the opening seed on the surface, sending a downward shoot, to the loftiest and the largest trees, rising up and blooming in wild luxuriance; some side by side, others separate; some curved and knotty, others straight as lances; all, in beautiful gradation, fulfilling the mandates they had received from Heaven, and, though condemned to die, still never failing to keep up their species till time shall be no more.”

Waterton, in his usual clear manner, goes to the root of the matter in his account of the celebrated wourali poison. “Though the wourali poison is used by all the South American savages betwixt the Amazons and the Oroonoque, still the Macoushi tribe makes it stronger than any of the rest. The Indians in the vicinity of the Rio Negro are aware of this, and come to the Macoushi country to purchase it.

“Much has been said concerning this fatal and extraordinary poison. Some have affirmed that its effects are almost instantaneous, provided the minutest particle of it mixes with[212] the blood; and others again have maintained that it is not strong enough to kill an animal of the size and strength of a man. The first have erred by lending a too willing ear to the marvellous, and believing assertions without sufficient proof. The following short story points out the necessity of a cautious examination:—

“One day, on asking an Indian if he thought the poison would kill a man, he replied, that they always go to battle with it; that he was standing by when an Indian was shot with a poisoned arrow, and that he expired almost immediately. Not wishing to dispute this apparently satisfactory information, the subject was dropped. However, about an hour after, having purposely asked him in what part of the body the said Indian was wounded, he answered without hesitation, that the arrow entered betwixt his shoulders, and passed quite through his heart. Was it the weapon, or the strength of the poison, that brought an immediate dissolution in this case? Of course the weapon.

“The second have been misled by disappointment, caused by neglect in keeping the poisoned arrows, or by not knowing how to use them, or by trying inferior poison. If the arrows are not kept dry, the poison loses its strength, and in wet or damp weather it turns mouldy, and becomes quite soft. In shooting an arrow in this state, upon examining the place where it has entered, it will be observed that, though the arrow has penetrated deep into the flesh, still by far the greatest part of the poison has shrunk back, and thus, instead of entering with the arrow, it has remained collected at the mouth of the wound. In this case the arrow might as well have not been poisoned. Probably it was to this that a gentleman, some time ago, owed his disappointment, when he tried the poison on a horse in the town of Stabroek, the capital of Demerara; the horse never betrayed the least symptom of being affected by it.

“Wishful to obtain the best information concerning this[213] poison, and as repeated inquiries, in lieu of dissipating the surrounding shade, did but tend more and more to darken the little light that existed; I determined to penetrate into the country where the poisonous ingredients grow, where this pernicious composition is prepared, and where it is constantly used. Success attended the adventure; and the information acquired made amends for one hundred and twenty days passed in the solitudes of Guiana, and afforded a balm to the wounds and bruises which every traveller must expect to receive who wanders through a thorny and obstructed path.

“Thou must not, courteous reader, expect a dissertation on the manner in which the wourali poison operates on the system; a treatise has been already written on the subject, and, after all, there is probably still reason to doubt. It is supposed to affect the nervous system, and thus destroy the vital functions; it is also said to be perfectly harmless, provided it does not touch the blood. However, this is certain, when a sufficient quantity of it enters the blood, death is the inevitable consequence; but there is no alteration in the colour of the blood, and both the blood and flesh may be eaten with safety.

“All that thou wilt find here is a concise, unadorned account of the wourali poison. It may be of service to thee some time or other, shouldst thou ever travel through the wilds where it is used. Neither attribute to cruelty, nor to a want of feeling for the sufferings of the inferior animals, the ensuing experiments. The larger animals were destroyed in order to have proof positive of the strength of a poison which hath hitherto been doubted; and the smaller ones were killed with the hope of substantiating that which has commonly been supposed to be an antidote.

“It makes a pitying heart ache to see a poor creature in distress and pain; and too often has the compassionate traveller occasion to heave a sigh as he journeys on. However,[214] here, though the kind-hearted will be sorry to read of an unoffending animal doomed to death, in order to satisfy a doubt, still it will be a relief to know that the victim was not tortured. The wourali poison destroys life’s action so gently, that the victim appears to be in no pain whatever; and probably, were the truth known, it feels none, saving the momentary smart at the time the arrow enters.

“A day or two before the Macoushi Indian prepares his poison, he goes into the forest, in quest of the ingredients. A vine grows in these wilds, which is called wourali. It is from this that the poison takes its name, and it is the principal ingredient. When he has procured enough of this, he digs up a root of a very bitter taste, ties them together, and then looks about for two kinds of bulbous plants, which contain a green and glutinous juice. He fills a little quake, which he carries on his back, with the stalks of these; and lastly, ranges up and down till he finds two species of ants. One of them is very large and black, and so venomous, that its sting produces a fever; it is most commonly to be met with on the ground. The other is a little red ant, which stings like a nettle, and generally has its nest under the leaf of a shrub. After obtaining these, he has no more need to range the forest.

“A quantity of the strongest Indian pepper is used; but this he has already planted round his hut. The pounded fangs of the Labarri snake, and those of the Counacouchi, are likewise added. These he commonly has in store; for when he kills a snake, he generally extracts the fangs, and keeps them by him.

“Having thus found the necessary ingredients, he scrapes the wourali vine and bitter root into thin shavings, and puts them into a kind of colander made of leaves: this he holds over an earthen pot, and pours water on the shavings: the liquor which comes through has the appearance of coffee. When a sufficient quantity has been procured, the shavings[215] are thrown aside. He then bruises the bulbous stalks, and squeezes a proportionate quantity of their juice through his hands into the pot. Lastly, the snake’s fangs, ants, and pepper are bruised, and thrown into it. It is then placed on a slow fire, and as it boils, more of the juice of the wourali is added, according as it may be found necessary, and the scum is taken off with a leaf; it remains on the fire till reduced to a thick syrup of a deep brown colour. As soon as it has arrived at this state a few arrows are poisoned with it, to try its strength. If it answer the expectations, it is poured out into a calabash, or little pot of Indian manufacture, which is carefully covered with a couple of leaves, and over them a piece of deer’s skin, tied round with a cord. They keep it in the most dry part of the hut; and from time to time suspend it over the fire, to counteract the effects of dampness.

“The act of preparing this poison is not considered as a common one: the savage may shape his bow, fasten the barb on the point of his arrow, and make his other implements of destruction, either lying in his hammock, or in the midst of his family; but, if he has to prepare the wourali poison, many precautions are supposed to be necessary.

“The women and young girls are not allowed to be present, lest the Yabahou, or evil spirit, should do them harm. The shed under which it has been boiled is pronounced polluted, and abandoned ever after. He who makes the poison must eat nothing that morning, and must continue fasting as long as the operation lasts. The pot in which it is boiled must be a new one, and must never have held anything before, otherwise the poison would be deficient in strength: add to this, that the operator must take particular care not to expose himself to the vapour which arises from it while on the fire.

“Though this and other precautions are taken, such as frequent washing the face and hands, still the Indians think that it affects the health; and the operator either is, or, what[216] is more probable, supposes himself to be, sick for some days after.

“Thus it appears that the making the wourali poison is considered as a gloomy and mysterious operation; and it would seem that they imagine it affects others as well as him who boils it; for an Indian agreed one evening to make some for me, but the next morning he declined having anything to do with it, alleging that his wife was with child!

“Here it might be asked, are all the ingredients just mentioned necessary, in order to produce the wourali poison? Though our opinions and conjectures may militate against the absolute necessity of some of them, still it would be hardly fair to pronounce them added by the hand of superstition, till proof positive can be obtained.

“We might argue on the subject, and by bringing forward instances of Indian superstition, draw our conclusion by inference, and still remain in doubt on this head. You know superstition to be the offspring of ignorance, and of course that it takes up its abode amongst the rudest tribes of uncivilised men. It even too often resides with man in his more enlightened state.

“The Augustan age furnishes numerous examples. A bone snatched from the jaws of a fasting bitch, and a feather from the wing of a night owl—‘ossa ab ore rapta jejunæ canis, plumamque nocturnæ strigis’—were necessary for Canidia’s incantations. And in after times Parson Evans, the Welshman, was treated most ungenteelly by an enraged spirit, solely because he had forgotten a fumigation in his witch-work.

“If, then, enlightened man lets his better sense give way, and believes, or allows himself to be persuaded, that certain substances and actions, in reality of no avail, possess a virtue which renders them useful in producing the wished-for effect, may not the wild, untaught, unenlightened savage of Guiana add an ingredient which, on account of the harm it does him,[217] he fancies may be useful to the perfection of his poison, though, in fact, it be of no use at all? If a bone snatched from the jaws of a fasting bitch be thought necessary in incantation; or if witchcraft have recourse to the raiment of the owl, because it resorts to the tombs and mausoleums of the dead, and wails and hovers about at the time that the rest of animated nature sleeps; certainly the savage may imagine that the ants, whose sting causes a fever, and the teeth of the Labarri and Counacouchi snakes, which convey death in a very short space of time, are essentially necessary in the composition of his poison; and being once impressed with this idea, he will add them every time he makes the poison, and transmit the absolute use of them to his posterity. The question to be answered seems not to be if it is natural for the Indians to mix these ingredients, but if they are essential to make the poison.

“So much for the preparing of this vegetable essence; terrible importer of death, into whatever animal it enters. Let us now see how it is used; let us examine the weapons which bear it to its destination, and take a view of the poor victim, from the time he receives his wound till death comes to his relief.

“When a native of Macoushia goes in quest of feathered game or other birds, he seldom carries his bow and arrows. It is the blow-pipe he then uses. This extraordinary tube of death is, perhaps, one of the greatest natural curiosities of Guiana. It is not found in the country of the Macoushi. Those Indians tell you that it grows to the south-west of them, in the wilds which extend betwixt them and the Rio Negro. The reed must grow to an amazing length, as the part the Indians use is from ten to eleven feet long, and no tapering can be perceived in it, one end being as thick as the other. It is of a bright yellow colour, perfectly smooth both inside and out. It grows hollow; nor is there the least appearance of a knot or joint throughout the whole extent. The natives call it[218] ourah. This, of itself, is too slender to answer the end of a blow-pipe; but there is a species of palma, larger and stronger, and common in Guiana, and this the Indians make use of as a case, in which they put the ourah. It is brown, susceptible of a fine polish, and appears as if it had joints five or six inches from each other. It is called samourah, and the pulp inside is easily extracted by steeping it for a few days in water.

“Thus the ourah and samourah, one within the other, form the blow-pipe of Guiana. The end which is applied to the mouth is tied round with a small silk-grass cord, to prevent its splitting; and the other end, which is apt to strike against the ground, is secured by the seed of the acuero fruit, cut horizontally through the middle, with a hole made in the end, through which is put the extremity of the blow-pipe. It is fastened on with string on the outside, and the inside is filled up with wild bees’-wax.

“The arrow is from nine to ten inches long. It is made out of the leaf of a species of palm-tree, called Coucourite, hard and brittle, and pointed as sharp as a needle. About an inch of the pointed end is poisoned. The other end is burnt to make it still harder, and wild cotton is put round it for about an inch and a half. It requires considerable practice to put on this cotton well. It must just be large enough to fit the hollow of the tube, and taper off to nothing downwards. They tie it on with a thread of the silk-grass, to prevent its slipping off the arrow.

“The Indians have shown ingenuity in making a quiver to hold the arrows. It will contain from five to six hundred. It is generally from twelve to fourteen inches long, and in shape resembles a dice-box used at backgammon. The inside is prettily done in basket work, with wood not unlike bamboo, and the outside has a coat of wax. The cover is all of one piece, formed out of the skin of the tapir. Round the centre there is fastened a loop, large enough to admit the arm and shoulder, from which it hangs when used. To the rim is tied[219] a little bunch of silk-grass, and half of the jaw-bone of the fish called pirai, with which the Indian scrapes the point of his arrow.

“Before he puts the arrows into the quiver, he links them together by two strings of cotton, one string at each end, and then folds them round a stick, which is nearly the length of the quiver. The end of the stick, which is uppermost, is guarded by two little pieces of wood crosswise, with a hoop round their extremities, which appears something like a wheel; and this saves the hand from being wounded when the quiver is reversed, in order to let the bunch of arrows drop out.

“There is also attached to the quiver a little kind of basket, to hold the wild cotton which is put on the blunt end of the arrow. With a quiver of poisoned arrows slung over his shoulder, and with his blow-pipe in his hand, in the same position as a soldier carries his musket, see the Macoushi Indian advancing towards the forest in quest of powises, maroudis, waracabas, and other feathered game.

“These generally sit high up in the tall and tufted trees, but still are not out of the Indian’s reach; for his blow-pipe, at its greatest elevation, will send an arrow three hundred feet. Silent as midnight he steals under them, and so cautiously does he tread the ground that the fallen leaves rustle not beneath his feet. His ears are open to the least sound, while his eye, keen as that of the lynx, is employed in finding out the game in the thickest shade. Often he imitates their cry, and decoys them from tree to tree, till they are within range of his tube. Then taking a poisoned arrow from his quiver, he puts it in the blow-pipe, and collects his breath for the fatal puff.

“About two feet from the end through which he blows, there are fastened two teeth of the acouri, and these serve him for a sight. Silent and swift the arrow flies, and seldom fails to pierce the object at which it is sent. Sometimes the wounded bird remains in the same tree where it was shot, and in three minutes falls down at the Indian’s feet. Should he[220] take wing, his flight is of short duration, and the Indian, following the direction he has gone, is sure to find him dead.

“It is natural to imagine that, when a slight wound only is inflicted, the game will make its escape. Far otherwise; the wourali poison almost instantaneously mixes with blood or water, so that if you wet your finger, and dash it along the poisoned arrow in the quickest manner possible, you are sure to carry off some of the poison. Though three minutes generally elapse before the convulsions come on in the wounded bird, still a stupor evidently takes place sooner, and this stupor manifests itself by an apparent unwillingness in the bird to move. This was very visible in a dying fowl.

“Having procured a healthy full-grown one, a short piece of a poisoned blow-pipe arrow was broken off and run up into its thigh, as near as possible betwixt the skin and the flesh, in order that it might not be incommoded by the wound. For the first minute it walked about, but walked very slowly, and did not appear the least agitated. During the second minute it stood still, and began to peck the ground; and ere half another elapsed, it frequently opened and shut its mouth. The tail had now dropped, and the wings almost touched the ground. By the termination of the third minute it had sat down, scarce able to support its head, which nodded, and then recovered itself, and then nodded again, lower and lower every time, like that of a weary traveller slumbering in an erect position; the eyes alternately open and shut. The fourth minute brought on convulsions, and life and the fifth terminated together.

“The flesh of the game is not in the least injured by poison, nor does it appear to corrupt sooner than that killed by the gun or knife. The body of this fowl was kept for sixteen hours, in a climate damp and rainy, and within seven degrees of the equator; at the end of which time it had contracted no bad smell whatever, and there were no symptoms of putrefaction, saving that, just round the wound, the flesh appeared somewhat discoloured.


“The Indian, on his return home, carefully suspends his blow-pipe from the top of his spiral roof; seldom placing it in an oblique position, lest it should receive a cast.

“Here let the blow-pipe remain suspended, while you take a view of the arms which are made to slay the larger beasts of the forest.

“When the Indian intends to chase the peccari, or surprise the deer, or rouse the tapir from his marshy retreat, he carries his bow and arrows, which are very different from the weapons already described.

“The bow is generally from six to seven feet long, and strung with a cord spun out of the silk-grass. The forests of Guiana furnish many species of hard wood, tough and elastic, out of which beautiful and excellent bows are formed.

“The arrows are from four to five feet in length, made of a yellow reed without a knot or joint. It is found in great plenty up and down throughout Guiana. A piece of hard wood, about nine inches long, is inserted into the end of the reed, and fastened with cotton well waxed. A square hole, an inch deep, is then made in the end of this piece of hard wood, done tight round with cotton to keep it from splitting. Into this square hole is fitted a spike of Coucourite wood, poisoned, and which may be kept there or taken out at pleasure. A joint of bamboo, about as thick as your finger, is fitted on over the poisoned spike, to prevent accidents and defend it from the rain, and is taken off when the arrow is about to be used. Lastly, two feathers are fastened on the other end of the reed, to steady it in its flight.

“Besides his bow and arrows, the Indian carries a little box, made of bamboo, which holds a dozen or fifteen poisoned spikes, six inches long. They are poisoned in the following manner:—A small piece of wood is dipped in the poison, and with this they give the spike a first coat. It is then exposed to the sun or fire. After it is dry, it receives another[222] coat, and is then dried again; after this a third coat, and sometimes a fourth.

“They take great care to put the poison on thicker at the middle than at the sides, by which means the spike retains the shape of a two-edged sword. It is rather a tedious operation to make one of these arrows complete; and as the Indian is not famed for industry, except when pressed by hunger, he has hit upon a plan of preserving his arrows which deserves notice.

“About a quarter of an inch above the part where the Coucourite spike is fixed into the square hole, he cuts it half through; and thus, when it has entered the animal, the weight of the arrow causes it to break off there, by which means the arrow falls to the ground uninjured; so that, should this be the only arrow he happens to have with him, and should another shot immediately occur, he has only to take another poisoned spike out of his little bamboo box, fit it on his arrow, and send it to its destination.

“Thus armed with deadly poison, and hungry as the hyæna, he ranges through the forest in quest of the wild beasts’ track. No hound can act a surer part. Without clothes to fetter him, or shoes to bind his feet, he observes the footsteps of the game, where a European eye could not discern the smallest vestige. He pursues it through all its turns and windings with astonishing perseverance, and success generally crowns his efforts. The animal, after receiving the poisoned arrow, seldom retreats two hundred paces before it drops.

“In passing overland from the Essequibo to the Demerara, we fell in with a herd of wild hogs. Though encumbered with baggage, and fatigued with a hard day’s walk, an Indian got his bow ready, and let fly a poisoned arrow at one of them. It entered the cheek-bone, and broke off. The wild hog was found quite dead about one hundred and seventy paces from the place where he had been shot. He afforded us an excellent and wholesome supper.


“Thus the savage of Guiana, independent of the common weapons of destruction, has it in his power to prepare a poison, by which he can generally ensure to himself a supply of animal food; and the food so destroyed imbibes no deleterious qualities. Nature has been bountiful to him. She has not only ordered poisonous herbs and roots to grow in the unbounded forests through which he strays, but has also furnished an excellent reed for his arrows, and another, still more singular, for his blow-pipe; and planted trees of an amazing hard, tough, and elastic texture, out of which he forms his bows. And in order that nothing might be wanting she has superadded a tree which yields him a fine wax, and disseminated up and down a plant not unlike that of the pine-apple, which affords him capital bow-strings.

“Having now followed the Indian in the chase and described the poison, let us take a nearer view of its action, and observe a large animal expiring under the weight of its baneful virulence.

“Many have doubted the strength of the wourali poison. Should they ever by chance read what follows, probably their doubts on that score will be settled for ever.

“In the former experiment on the hog some faint resistance on the part of nature was observed, as if existence struggled for superiority; but in the following instance of the sloth, life sank in death without the least apparent contention, without a cry, without a struggle, and without a groan. This was an Ai, or three-toed sloth. It was in the possession of a gentleman who was collecting curiosities. He wished to have it killed, in order to preserve the skin, and the wourali poison was resorted to as the easiest death.

“Of all animals, not even the toad and tortoise excepted, this poor ill-formed creature is the most tenacious of life. It exists long after it has received wounds which would have destroyed any other animal; and it may be said, on seeing a[224] mortally wounded sloth, that life disputes with death every inch of flesh in its body.

“The Ai was wounded in the leg, and put down on the floor, about two feet from the table; it contrived to reach the leg of the table, and fastened itself on it, as if wishful to ascend. But this was its last advancing step: life was ebbing fast, though imperceptibly; nor could this singular production of nature, which has been formed of a texture to resist death in a thousand shapes, make any stand against the wourali poison.

“First one fore-leg let go its hold, and dropped down motionless by its side; the other gradually did the same. The fore-legs having now lost strength, the sloth slowly doubled its body and placed its head betwixt its hind legs, which still adhered to the table; but when the poison had affected these also it sank to the ground, but sank so gently, that you could not distinguish the movement from an ordinary motion; and had you been ignorant that it was wounded with a poisoned arrow, you would never have suspected that it was dying. Its mouth was shut, nor had any froth or saliva collected there.

“There was no subsultus tendinum, or any visible alteration in its breathing. During the tenth minute from the time it was wounded it stirred, and that was all; and the minute after life’s last spark went out. From the time the poison began to operate, you would have conjectured that sleep was overpowering it, and you would have exclaimed, ‘Pressitque jacentem, dulcis et alta quies, placidæque simillima morti.’

“There are now two positive proofs of the effect of this fatal poison—viz., the death of the hog, and that of the sloth. But still these animals were nothing remarkable for size; and the strength of the poison in large animals might yet be doubted, were it not for what follows.

“A large well-fed ox, from nine hundred to a thousand pounds’ weight, was tied to a stake by a rope sufficiently long[225] to allow him to move to and fro. Having no large Coucourite spikes at hand, it was judged necessary, on account of his superior size, to put three wild-hog arrows into him. One was sent into each thigh just above the hock, in order to avoid wounding a vital part, and the third was shot transversely into the extremity of the nostril.

“The poison seemed to take effect in four minutes. Conscious as though he would fall, the ox set himself firmly on his legs, and remained quite still in the same place, till about the fourteenth minute, when he smelled the ground, and appeared as if inclined to walk. He advanced a pace or two, staggered, and fell, and remained extended on his side, with his head on the ground. His eye, a few minutes ago so bright and lively, now became fixed and dim; and though you put your hand close to it, as if to give him a blow there, he never closed his eyelid.

“His legs were convulsed, and his head from time to time started involuntarily; but he never showed the least desire to raise it from the ground; he breathed hard, and emitted foam from his mouth. The startings, or subsultus tendinum, now became gradually weaker and weaker; his hinder parts were fixed in death; and in a minute or two more his head and fore-legs ceased to stir.

“Nothing now remained to show that life was still within him, except that his heart faintly beat and fluttered at intervals. In five-and-twenty minutes from the time of his being wounded, he was quite dead. His flesh was very sweet and savoury at dinner.

“On taking a retrospective view of the two different kinds of poisoned arrows, and the animals destroyed by them, it would appear that the quantity of poison must be proportioned to the animal; and thus those probably labour under an error who imagine that the smallest particle of it introduced into the blood has almost instantaneous effects.

“Make an estimate of the difference in size betwixt the[226] fowl and the ox, and then weigh a sufficient quantity of poison for a blow-pipe arrow, with which the fowl was killed, and weigh also enough poison for three wild-hog arrows, which destroyed the ox, and it will appear that the fowl received much more poison in proportion than the ox. Hence the cause why the fowl died in five minutes, and the ox in five-and-twenty.

“Indeed, were it the case that the smallest particle of it introduced into the blood has almost instantaneous effects, the Indian would not find it necessary to make the large arrow; that of the blow-pipe is much easier made, and requires less poison.

“And now for the antidotes, or rather the supposed antidotes. The Indians tell you that if the wounded animal be held for a considerable time up to the mouth in water, the poison will not prove fatal; also that the juice of the sugar-cane, poured down the throat, will counteract the effects of it. These antidotes were fairly tried upon full-grown healthy fowls, but they all died, as though no steps had been taken to preserve their lives. Rum was recommended, and given to another, but with as little success.

“It is supposed by some that wind introduced into the lungs by means of a small pair of bellows would revive the poisoned patient, provided the operation be continued for a sufficient length of time. It may be so: but this is a difficult and a tedious mode of cure, and he who is wounded in the forest, far away from his friends, or in the hut of the savages, stands but a poor chance of being saved by it.

“Had the Indians a sure antidote, it is likely they would carry it about with them, or resort to it immediately after being wounded, if at hand; and their confidence in its efficacy would greatly diminish the horror they betray when you point a poisoned arrow at them.

“One day while we were eating a red monkey, erroneously called a baboon, in Demerara, an Arowack Indian[227] told an affecting story of what happened to a comrade of his. He was present at his death. As it did not interest this Indian in any point to tell a falsehood, it is very probable that his account was a true one. If so, it appears that there is no certain antidote, or, at least, an antidote that could be resorted to in a case of urgent need; for the Indian gave up all thoughts of life as soon as he was wounded.

“The Arowack Indian said it was but four years ago that he and his companion were ranging in the forest in quest of game. His companion took a poisoned arrow, and sent it at a red monkey in a tree above him. It was nearly a perpendicular shot. The arrow missed the monkey, and, in the descent, struck him in the arm, a little above the elbow. He was convinced it was all over with him. ‘I shall never,’ said he to his companion, in a faltering voice, and looking at his bow as he said it, ‘I shall never,’ said he, ‘bend this bow again.’ And having said that, he took off his little bamboo poison box, which hung across his shoulder, and putting it together with his bow and arrows on the ground, he laid himself down close by them, bid his companions farewell, and never spoke more.

“He who is unfortunate enough to be wounded by a poisoned arrow from Macoushia had better not depend upon the common antidotes for a cure. Many who have been in Guiana will recommend immediate immersion in water, or to take the juice of the sugar-cane, or to fill the mouth full of salt; and they recommend these antidotes because they have got them from the Indians. But were you to ask them if they ever saw these antidotes used with success, it is ten to one their answer would be in the negative.

“Wherefore let him reject these antidotes as unprofitable, and of no avail. He has got an active and a deadly foe within him, which, like Shakspeare’s fell Sergeant Death, is strict in his arrest, and will allow him but little time—very—very little time. In a few minutes he will be numbered with the dead.[228] Life ought, if possible, to be preserved, be the expense ever so great. Should the part affected admit of it, let a ligature be tied tight round the wound, and have immediate recourse to the knife:—

“‘Continuo, culpam ferro compesce priusquam,
Dira per infaustum serpant contagia corpus.’

“Several experiments were subsequently made with the wourali poison. In London an ass was inoculated with it, and died in twelve minutes. The poison was inserted into the leg of another, round which a bandage had been previously tied a little above the place where the wourali was introduced. He walked about as usual, and ate his food as though all were right. After an hour had elapsed the bandage was untied, and ten minutes after death overtook him.

“A she-ass received the wourali poison in the shoulder, and died apparently in ten minutes. An incision was then made in its windpipe, and through it the lungs were regularly inflated for two hours with a pair of bellows. Suspended animation returned. The ass held up her head, and looked around; but the inflating being discontinued, she sank once more in apparent death. The artificial breathing was immediately recommenced, and continued without intermission for two hours more. This saved the ass from final dissolution: she rose up and walked about; she seemed neither in agitation nor in pain. The wound through which the poison entered was healed without difficulty. Her constitution, however, was so severely affected, that it was long a doubt if ever she would be well again. She looked lean and sickly for above a year, but began to mend the spring after; and by Midsummer became fat and frisky.

“The kind-hearted reader will rejoice on learning that Earl Percy, pitying her misfortunes, sent her down from London to Walton Hall, near Wakefield. There she went by the name of Wouralia. Wouralia was sheltered from the wintry storm; and when summer came she fed in the finest[229] pasture. No burden was placed upon her, and she ended her days in peace.

“Poor Wouralia breathed her last on the 15th of February, 1839, having survived the operation nearly five-and-twenty years.”

Of a certainty, the woodpecker is closely associated with tree-life; no animal or bird so much so. Waterton tells you that “you would not be long in the forests of Demerara without noticing the woodpeckers. You meet them feeding at all hours of the day. Well may they do so. Were they to follow the example of most of the other birds, and only feed in the morning and evening, they would be often on short allowance, for they sometimes have to labour three or four hours at the tree before they get to their food. The sound which the largest kind makes in hammering against the bark of the tree is so loud, that you would never suppose it to proceed from the efforts of a bird. You would take it to be the woodman, with his axe, trying by a sturdy blow, often repeated, whether the tree were sound or not. There are fourteen species here; the largest the size of a magpie, the smallest no bigger than a wren. They are all beautiful; and the greater part of them have their heads ornamented with a fine crest, movable at pleasure.

“It is said that if you once give a dog a bad name, whether innocent or guilty, he never loses it. It sticks close to him wherever he goes. He has many a kick and many a blow to bear on account of it; and there is nobody to stand up for him. The woodpecker is little better off. The proprietors of woods, in Europe, have long accused him of injuring their timber by boring holes in it, and letting in the water, which soon rots it. The colonists in America have the same complaint against him. Had he the power of speech, which Ovid’s birds possessed in days of yore, he could soon make a defence. ‘Mighty lord of the woods,’ he would say to man, ‘why do you wrongfully accuse me? why do you hunt me[230] up and down to death for an imaginary offence? I have never spoiled a leaf of your property, much less your wood. Your merciless shot strikes me at the very time I am doing you a service. But your short-sightedness will not let you see it, or your pride is above examining closely the actions of so insignificant a little bird as I am. If there be that spark of feeling in your breast which they say man possesses, or ought to possess, above all other animals, do a poor injured creature a little kindness, and watch me in your woods only for a day. I never wound your healthy trees. I should perish for want in the attempt. The sound bark would easily resist the force of my bill; and were I even to pierce through it, there would be nothing inside that I could fancy, or my stomach digest. I often visit them, it is true, but a knock or two convinces me that I must go elsewhere for support; and were you to listen attentively to the sound which my bill causes, you would know whether I am upon a healthy or an unhealthy tree. Wood and bark are not my food. I live entirely upon the insects which have already formed a lodgment in the distempered tree. When the sound informs me that my prey is there, I labour for hours together till I get at it; and by consuming it, for my own support, I prevent its further depredations in that part. Thus I discover for you your hidden and unsuspected foe, which has been devouring your wood in such secrecy that you had not the least suspicion it was there. The hole which I make in order to get at the pernicious vermin will be seen by you as you pass under the tree. I leave it as a signal to tell you that your tree has already stood too long. It is past its prime. Millions of insects, engendered by disease, are preying upon its vitals. Ere long it will fall a log in useless ruins. Warned by this loss, cut down the rest in time, and spare, O spare, the unoffending woodpecker.’”

With what evident love of his own work in life does Waterton call the manhood of England to the glorious sport of travel! Wisely he declares that “the youth who incautiously[231] reels into the lobby of Drury Lane, after leaving the table sacred to the god of wine, is exposed to more certain ruin, sickness, and decay, than he who wanders a whole year in the wilds of Demerara. But this will never be believed; because the disasters arising from dissipation are so common and frequent in civilised life, that man becomes quite habituated to them; and sees daily victims sink into the tomb long before their time, without ever once taking alarm at the causes which precipitated them headlong into it.

“But the dangers which a traveller exposes himself to in foreign parts are novel, out-of-the-way things to a man at home. The remotest apprehension of meeting a tremendous tiger, of being carried off by a flying dragon, or having his bones picked by a famished cannibal—oh, that makes him shudder! It sounds in his ears like the bursting of a bombshell. Thank Heaven, he is safe by his own fireside!

“Prudence and resolution ought to be the traveller’s constant companions. The first will cause him to avoid a number of snares which he will find in the path as he journeys on; and the second will always lend a hand to assist him if he has unavoidably got entangled in them. The little distinctions which have been shown him at his own home ought to be forgotten when he travels over the world at large; for strangers know nothing of his former merits, and it is necessary that they should witness them before they pay him the tribute which he was wont to receive within his own doors. Thus, to be kind and affable to those we meet, to mix in their amusements, to pay a compliment or two to their manners and customs, to respect their elders, to give a little to their distressed and needy, and to feel, as it were, at home amongst them, is the sure way to enable you to pass merrily on, and to find other comforts as sweet and palatable as those which you were accustomed to partake of amongst your friends and acquaintance in your native land. We will now ascend in fancy on Icarian wing, and take a view of Guiana in general.[232] See an immense plain! betwixt two of the largest rivers in the world, level as a bowling-green, save at Cayenne, and covered with trees along the coast quite to the Atlantic wave, except where the plantations make a little vacancy amongst the foliage.

“Though nearly in the centre of the torrid zone, the sun’s rays are not so intolerable as might be imagined, on account of the perpetual verdure and refreshing north-east breeze. See what numbers of broad and rapid rivers intersect it in their journey to the ocean, and that not a stone or a pebble is to be found on their banks, or in any part of the country, till your eye catches the hills in the interior. How beautiful and magnificent are the lakes in the heart of the forests, and how charming the forests themselves, for miles after miles on each side of the rivers! How extensive appear the savannas or natural meadows, teeming with innumerable herds of cattle where the Portuguese and Spaniards are settled, but desert as Saara where the English and Dutch claim dominion! How gradually the face of the country rises! See the sand-hills all clothed in wood first emerging from the level, then hills a little higher, rugged with bold and craggy rocks, peeping out from amongst the most luxuriant timber. Then come plains, and dells, and far-extending valleys, arrayed in richest foliage; and beyond them, mountains piled on mountains, some bearing prodigious forests, others of bleak and barren aspect. Thus your eye wanders on, over scenes of varied loveliness and grandeur, till it rests on the stupendous pinnacles of the long-continued Cordilleras de los Andes, which rise in towering majesty, and command all America.

“How fertile must the lowlands be, from the accumulation of fallen leaves and trees for centuries! How propitious the swamps and slimy beds of the rivers, heated by a downward sun, to the amazing growth of alligators, serpents, and innumerable insects! How inviting the forests to the feathered tribes, where you see buds, blossoms, green and ripe fruit,[233] full-grown and fading leaves, all on the same tree! How secure the wild beasts may rove in endless mazes! Perhaps those mountains, too, which appear so bleak and naked, as if quite neglected, are, like Potosi, full of precious metals.”

Sagely and befitting an instructor, he gives excellent advice upon many points, very necessary to be known of those who are engaged in seeing the face of the earth. “I would here, gentle reader, wish to draw thy attention, for a few minutes, to physic, raiment, and diet. Shouldst thou ever wander through these remote and dreary wilds, forget not to carry with thee bark, laudanum, calomel, and jalap, and the lancet. There are no druggist shops here, nor sons of Galen to apply to in time of need. I never go encumbered with many clothes. A thin flannel waistcoat under a check shirt, a pair of trousers, and a hat, were all my wardrobe; shoes and stockings I seldom had on. In dry weather they would have irritated the feet, and retarded me in the chase of wild beasts; and in the rainy season they would have kept me in a perpetual state of damp and moisture. I eat moderately, and never drink wine, spirits, or fermented liquors in any climate. This abstemiousness has ever proved a faithful friend; it carried me triumphant through the epidemia at Malaga, where death made such havoc about the beginning of the present century; and it has since befriended me in many a fit of sickness, brought on by exposure to the noon-day sun, to the dews of night, to the pelting shower, and unwholesome food.

“Perhaps it will be as well, here, to mention a fever which came on, and the treatment of it; it may possibly be of use to thee, shouldst thou turn wanderer in the tropics: a word or two also of a wound I got in the forest, and then we will say no more of the little accidents which sometimes occur, and attend solely to natural history. We shall have an opportunity of seeing the wild animals in their native haunts, undisturbed and unbroken in upon by men. We shall have time and leisure to look more closely at them, and probably[234] rectify some errors which, for want of proper information, or a near observance, have crept into their several histories.

“It was in the month of June, when the sun was within a few days of Cancer, that I had a severe attack of fever. There had been a deluge of rain, accompanied with tremendous thunder and lightning, and very little sun. Nothing could exceed the dampness of the atmosphere. For two or three days I had been in a kind of twilight state of health, neither ill nor what you may call well; I yawned and felt weary without exercise, and my sleep was merely slumber. This was the time to have taken medicine; but I neglected to do so, though I had just been reading, ‘O navis referent in mare te novi fluctus, O quid agis? fortiter occupa portum.’ I awoke at midnight; a cruel headache, thirst, and pain in the small of the back, informed me what the case was. Had Chiron himself been present, he could not have told me more distinctly that I was going to have a tight brush of it, and that I ought to meet it with becoming fortitude. I dozed, and woke, and startled, and then dozed again, and suddenly awoke, thinking I was falling down a precipice.

“The return of the bats to their diurnal retreat, which was in the thatch above my hammock, informed me that the sun was now fast approaching to the eastern horizon. I arose, in languor and in pain, the pulse at one hundred and twenty. I took ten grains of calomel and a scruple of jalap, and drank during the day large draughts of tea, weak and warm. The physic did its duty; but there was no remission of fever or headache, though the pain of the back was less acute. I was saved the trouble of keeping the room cool, as the wind beat in at every quarter.

“At five in the evening the pulse had risen to one hundred and thirty, and the headache almost insupportable, especially on looking to the right or left. I now opened a vein, and made a large orifice, to allow the blood to rush out rapidly; I closed it after losing sixteen ounces. I then[235] steeped my feet in warm water, and got into the hammock. After bleeding, the pulse fell to ninety, and the head was much relieved; but during the night, which was very restless, the pulse rose again to one hundred and twenty, and at times the headache was distressing. I relieved the headache from time to time, by applying cold water to the temples, and holding a wet handkerchief there. The next morning the fever ran very high, and I took five more grains of calomel and ten of jalap, determined, whatever might be the case, this should be the last dose of calomel. About two o’clock in the afternoon the fever remitted, and a copious perspiration came on; there was no more headache, nor thirst, nor pain in the back, and the following night was comparatively a good one. The next morning I swallowed a large dose of castor oil: it was genuine, for Louisa Backer had made it from the seeds of the trees which grew near the door. I was now entirely free from all symptoms of fever, or apprehensions of a return; and the morning after I began to take bark, and continued it for a fortnight. This put all to rights.

“The story of the wound I got in the forest, and the mode of cure, are very short. I had pursued a red-headed woodpecker for above a mile in the forest, without being able to get a shot at it. Thinking more of the woodpecker, as I ran along, than of the way before me, I trod upon a little hardwood stump, which was just about an inch or so above the ground; it entered the hollow part of my foot, making a deep and lacerated wound there. It had brought me to the ground, and there I lay till a transitory fit of sickness went off. I allowed it to bleed freely, and on reaching head-quarters washed it well and probed it, to feel if any foreign body was left within it. Being satisfied that there was none, I brought the edges of the wound together, and then put a piece of lint on it, and over that a very large poultice, which was changed morning, noon, and night. Luckily, Backer had a cow or two upon the hill; now, as heat and moisture are[236] the two principal virtues of a poultice, nothing could produce those two qualities better than fresh cow-dung boiled: had there been no cows there, I could have made it with boiled grass and leaves. I now took entirely to the hammock, placing the foot higher than the knee; this prevented it from throbbing, and was, indeed, the only position in which I could be at ease. When the inflammation was completely subdued I applied a wet cloth to the wound, and every now and then steeped the foot in cold water during the day, and at night again applied a poultice. The wound was now healing fast, and in three weeks from the time of the accident nothing but a scar remained; so that I again sallied forth sound and joyful, and said to myself—

“‘I, pedes quo te rapiunt et auræ
Dum favet sol, et locus, i secundo
Omine, et conto latebras, ut olim,
Rumpe ferarum.’

Now, this contus was a tough light pole, eight feet long, on the end of which was fixed an old bayonet. I never went into the canoe without it; it was of great use in starting the beasts and snakes out of the hollow trees, and in case of need, was an excellent defence.”

In some parts of the Guiana forests Mr. Waterton saw the Vanilla growing luxuriantly. It creeps up the trees to the height of thirty or forty feet. He found it difficult to get a ripe pod, as the monkeys are very fond of it, and generally take care to get them before the traveller could. The pod hangs from the tree in the shape of a little scabbard. Vayna is the Spanish for scabbard, and Vanilla for little scabbard. Hence the name.

In his fourth journey to South America, he has something more to say regarding the sloth, and it is worth listening to:—“Here,” in Demerara, “I had a fine opportunity once more of examining the three-toed sloth. He was in the house with me for a day or two. Had I taken a description[237] of him as he lay sprawling on the floor, I should have misled the world, and injured natural history. On the ground he appeared really a bungled composition, and faulty at all points; awkwardness and misery were depicted on his countenance; and when I made him advance he sighed as though in pain. Perhaps it was that by seeing him thus, out of his element as it were, that the Count de Buffon, in his history of the sloth, asks the question—‘Why should not some animals be created for misery, since, in the human species, the greatest number of individuals are devoted to pain from the moment of their existence?’ Were the question put to me, I would answer, I cannot conceive that any of them are created for misery. That thousands live in misery there can be no doubt; but then, misery has overtaken them in their path through life, and wherever man has come up with them, I should suppose they have seldom escaped from experiencing a certain proportion of misery.

“After fully satisfying myself that it only leads the world into error to describe the sloth while he is on the ground, or in any place except in a tree, I carried the one I had in my possession to his native haunts. As soon as he came in contact with the branch of a tree, all went right with him. I could see, as he climbed up into his own country, that he was on the right road to happiness; and felt persuaded more than ever that the world has hitherto erred in its conjectures concerning the sloth, on account of naturalists not having given a description of him when he was in the only position in which he ought to have been described, namely, clinging to the branch of a tree.”

The vampires also come in for further notice. He says that “independent of the hollow trees, the vampires have another hiding-place. They clear out the inside of the large ants’ nests, and then take possession of the shell. I had gone about half a day down the river, to a part of the forest where the wallaba-trees were in great plenty. The seeds had[238] ripened, and I was in hopes to have got the large scarlet ara, which feeds on them. But, unfortunately, the time had passed away, and the seeds had fallen.

“While ranging here in the forest, we stopped under an ants’ nest; and, by the dirt below, conjectured that it had got new tenants. Thinking it no harm to dislodge them, ‘vi et armis,’ an Indian boy ascended the tree; but, before he reached the nest, out flew above a dozen vampires.

“I have formerly remarked that I wished to have it in my power to say, that I had been sucked by the vampire. I gave them many an opportunity, but they always fought shy; and though they now sucked a young man of the Indian breed very severely, as he was sleeping in his hammock in the shed next to mine, they would have nothing to do with me. His great toe seemed to have all the attractions. I examined it minutely as he was bathing it in the river at daybreak. The midnight surgeon had made a hole in it, almost of a triangular shape, and the blood was then running from it apace. His hammock was so defiled and stained with clotted blood, that he was obliged to beg an old black woman to wash it. As she was taking it down to the river side, she spread it out before me, and shook her head. I remarked, that I supposed her own toe was too old and tough to invite the vampire-doctor to get his supper out of it; and she answered, with a grin, that doctors generally preferred young people.

“Nobody has yet been able to inform me how it is that the vampire manages to draw such a large quantity of blood, generally from the toe; and the patient, all the time, remains in a profound sleep. I have never heard of an instance of a man waking under the operation. On the contrary, he continues in a sound sleep, and at the time of rising, his eyes first inform him that there has been a thirsty thief on his toe.

“The teeth of the vampire are very sharp, and not unlike those of a rat. If it be that he inflicts the wound with his[239] teeth (and he seems to have no other instruments), one would suppose that the acuteness of the pain would cause the person who is sucked to awake. We are in darkness in this matter; and I know of no means by which one might be enabled to throw light upon it. It is to be hoped that some future wanderer through the wilds of Guiana will be more fortunate than I have been, and catch this nocturnal depredator in the fact. I have once before mentioned that I killed a vampire which measured thirty-two inches from wing to wing extended; but others, which I have since examined, have generally been from twenty to twenty-six inches in dimension.”

Mr. Waterton corrects a common mistake as to the statements concerning the imitative actions of monkeys in casting back at men fruit and sticks in return for being pelted with stones. He believes that “travellers have erred in asserting that the monkeys of South America throw sticks and fruit at their pursuers. I have had fine opportunities of narrowly watching the different species of monkeys which are found in the wilds, betwixt the Amazons and the Oroonoque. I entirely acquit them of acting on the offensive. When the monkeys are in the high trees over your head, the dead branches will now and then fall down upon you, having been broken off as the monkeys pass along them; but they are never hurled from their hands.

“Monkeys, commonly so called, both in the old and new continent, 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 just like the squirrel, and make no use of the tail[240] to help them from branch to branch. Those which have the tail bare underneath towards the end find it of infinite advantage to them in their ascent and descent. They apply it to the branch of the tree, as though it were a supple finger, and frequently swing by it from the branch like the pendulum of a clock. It answers all the purposes of a fifth hand to the monkey, as naturalists have already observed.

“The large red monkey of Demerara is not a baboon, though it goes by that name, having a long prensile tail.[2] Nothing can sound more dreadful than its nocturnal howlings. While lying in your hammock in these gloomy and immeasurable wilds, you hear him howling at intervals, from eleven o’clock at night till daybreak. You would suppose that half the wild beasts of the forest were collecting for the work of carnage. Now it is the tremendous roar of the jaguar, as he springs on his prey; now it changes to his terrible and deep-toned growlings, as he is pressed on all sides by superior force; and now you hear his last dying moan, beneath a mortal wound.

[2] I believe prensile is a new-coined word. I have seen it, but do not remember where.

“Some naturalists have supposed that these awful sounds, which you would fancy are those of enraged and dying wild beasts, proceed from a number of the red monkeys howling in concert. One of them alone is capable of producing all these sounds; and the anatomist, on an inspection of the trachea, will be fully satisfied that this is the case. When you look at him, as he is sitting on the branch of a tree, you will see a lump in his throat the size of a large hen’s egg. In dark and cloudy weather, and just before a squall of rain, this monkey will often howl in the daytime; and if you advance cautiously, and get under the high and tufted tree where he is sitting, you may have a capital opportunity of witnessing his wonderful powers of producing these dreadful and discordant sounds.


“His flesh is good food; but when skinned his appearance is so like that of a young one of our own species, that a delicate stomach might possibly revolt at the idea of putting a knife and fork into it. However, I can affirm, from experience, that after a long and dreary march through these remote forests, the flesh of this monkey is not to be sneezed at, when boiled in Cayenne pepper, or roasted on a stick over a good fire. A young one tastes not unlike kid, and the old ones have somewhat the flavour of he-goat.

“I mentioned, in a former adventure, that I had hit upon an entirely new plan of making the skins of quadrupeds retain their exact form and feature. Intense application to the subject has, since that period, enabled me to shorten the process, and hit the character of an animal to a very great nicety, even to the preservation of the pouting lip, dimples, warts, and wrinkles on the face. I got a fine specimen of the howling monkey, and took some pains with it, in order to show the immense difference that exists betwixt the features of this monkey and those of man.

“I also procured an animal which has caused not a little speculation and astonishment. In my opinion, his thick coat of hair, and great length of tail, put his species out of all question; but then, his face and head cause the inspector to pause for a moment, before he ventures to pronounce his opinion of the classification. He was a large animal, and as I was pressed for daylight, and, moreover, felt no inclination to have the whole weight of his body upon my back, I contented myself with his head and shoulders, which I cut off, and have brought them with me to Europe. I have since found that I acted quite right in doing so, having had enough to answer for. The head alone, without saying anything of his hands and feet, and of his tail, which is an appendage, Lord Kames asserts, belongs to us.

“The features of this animal are quite of the Grecian cast; and he has a placidity of countenance which shows[242] that things went well with him when in life. Some gentlemen of great skill and talent, on inspecting his head, were convinced that the whole series of its features has been changed. Others again have hesitated, and betrayed doubts, not being able to make up their minds whether it be possible that the brute features of the monkey can be changed into the noble countenance of man.—‘Scinditur vulgus.’ One might argue at considerable length on this novel subject, and perhaps, after all, produce little more than prolix pedantry. ‘Vox et præterea nihil.’

“Indian-rubber belongs to the tree-world, and if ever there should be a great demand for large supplies of gum-elastic, commonly called Indian-rubber, it may be procured in abundance far away in the wilds of Demerara and Essequibo.

“Some years ago, when I was in the Macoushi country, there was a capital trick played upon me about Indian-rubber. It is almost too good to be left out of these Wanderings, and it shows that the wild and uneducated Indian is not without abilities. Weary and sick, and feeble through loss of blood, I arrived at some Indian huts, which were about two hours distant from the place were the gum-elastic trees grew. After a day and a night’s rest, I went to them, and with my own hands made a fine ball of pure Indian-rubber; it hardened immediately as it became exposed to the air, and its elasticity was almost incredible.

“While procuring it, exposure to the rain, which fell in torrents, brought on a return of inflammation in the stomach, and I was obliged to have recourse again to the lancet, and to use it with an unsparing hand. I wanted another ball, but was not in a fit state the next morning to proceed to the trees. A fine interesting young Indian, observing my eagerness to have it, tendered his services, and asked two handfuls of fish-hooks for his trouble.

“Off he went, and, to my great surprise, returned in a very short time. Bearing in mind the trouble and time it[243] had cost me to make a ball, I could account for this Indian’s expedition in no other way except that, being an inhabitant of the forest, he knew how to go about his work in a much shorter way than I did. His ball, to be sure, had very little elasticity in it. I tried it repeatedly, but it never rebounded a yard high. The young Indian watched me with great gravity; and when I made him understand that I expected the ball would dance better, he called another Indian, who knew a little English, to assure me that I might be quite easy on that score. The young rogue, in order to render me a complete dupe, brought the new moon to his aid. He gave me to understand that the ball was like the little moon, which he pointed to, and by the time it grew big and old the ball would bounce beautifully. This satisfied me, and I gave him the fish-hooks, which he received without the least change of countenance.

“I bounced the ball repeatedly for two months after, but I found that it still remained in its infancy. At last I suspected that the savage (to use a vulgar phrase) had come Yorkshire over me, and so I determined to find out how he had managed to take me in. I cut the ball in two, and then saw what a taut trick he had played me. It seems he had chewed some leaves into a lump, the size of a walnut, and then dipped them into the liquid gum-elastic. It immediately received a coat about as thick as a sixpence. He then rolled some more leaves round it, and gave it another coat. He seems to have continued this process till he had made the ball considerably larger than the one I had procured; and, in order to put his roguery out of all chance of detection, he made the last and outer coat thicker than a dollar. This Indian would, no doubt, have thriven well in some of our great towns.”








The Monkey House is always a favoured resort with those who visit the Zoological Gardens, and, in spite of its somewhat close atmosphere and very disagreeable odour, one of the most attractive spots in the institution. As the number of species is very considerable, it will be impossible to condense the needful information into the limits of a single paper. I purpose, therefore, to separate the subject into two divisions, namely, the Monkeys of the Old and New Worlds. This is not merely an arbitrary classification to suit the present purpose, but is founded upon important differences of structure, which will be mentioned when we arrive at the history of the New World Monkeys.

The young observer is probably aware that the apes, monkeys, and baboons are distinguished from all other animals by the structure of their limbs. They have no feet suited for progression on a level surface, but are furnished with four quasi-hands, enabling them to cling to the branches, among which is their chief residence. In consequence of this structure, they are totally unable to walk properly, or even to[248] stand upright, their knees being always bent, and their fore hands ready to act as feet. Indeed, I have seen many a man walk better on his hands than any monkey on its feet.

Many writers have laid much stress on the hand-like form of the fore paws, and founded upon that structure a theory that the Quadrumana bear some relation to mankind. The opposable thumb is the chief characteristic upon which these writers insist for the support of their theory. Now, if we examine the fore and hind paws of any monkey, we shall find that in the fore paws the thumb, although it can be opposed to the fingers, is a very small and undeveloped member, scarcely visible in some species, and entirely absent in others. It is not used for the many delicate purposes to which the human thumb is applied, nor does it aid in the grasp of the branches. On the contrary, when the monkey seizes a branch, the thumb lies by the side of the fingers, and is unemployed until the animal is at rest.

Now look at the hind paws. It is true that the thumb is very large and opposable, and that it can grasp very tightly; but there its mission ends. It is essentially a grasping member, like the foot of the parrot, or any other scansorial bird, and is used for that purpose alone. It has not the slightest claim to be elevated to the rank of a hand, and is, in common with the fore paw, nothing more or less than an arboreal foot.

Before leaving the subject, I must briefly mention that the head is not set on the neck like that of man. The hole through which the spinal cord passes into the brain is set so far back upon the skull that the muzzle is thrown downwards; and, like all other animals, the monkey is incapable of assuming the erect aspect of man.

The great apes, such as the Orang-outan and the Chimpanzee, have unfortunately died. We should also observe that, as it is some years since the Rev. J. G. Wood wrote[249] these papers, the personnel of the cages will have changed. We pass, therefore, onwards to that group of pretty, long-tailed monkeys that are ranked under the genus Cercopithecus, a name which I do not translate, because your Greek Lexicons will explain its meaning. They are all natives of Africa, and extremely plentiful in different parts of that vast continent, so that they are frequently brought to England, and may be seen in menageries, accompanying barrel-organs, or even domesticated as pets in private houses.

Several species of one genus are often placed in the same cage, so that, in order to distinguish them, it will be necessary to examine their form and colour with care, and then to compare the animal with the description.

Our first example is the Mona (Cercopithecus Mona), a native of Western Africa. This monkey is brown, with darkish limbs, and a dark band across the forehead, and there is a light spot upon each side of the tail. At present here is only one specimen of this monkey. It is a pretty little creature—that is, if we can call any monkey pretty—and is not more mischievous than the generality of these creatures, while it is, perhaps, a little more endurable.

So much, however, depends upon the management of the animal, that the conduct of any isolated individual forms no guide to the character of the species. I have now before me two printed accounts of the Mona, in one of which it is said to be mischievous, malicious, passionate, and disobedient, while in the other its character is stated to be mild, affectionate, and docile. But these accounts are founded on the conduct of living specimens, and the conclusion which I deduce from them is, that the owner of the first-mentioned animal was unsympathetic and hasty-tempered, while the possessor of the second was fond of the little creature under his care, and behaved kindly to it.

I do not particularly recommend a monkey as a pet,[250] because the animal requires great attention in this climate, and, unless its habitation be kept most scrupulously clean, the odour which it exhales is positively horrible. See, for example, how beautifully clean are the cages in the Zoological Gardens, and yet how very unpleasant is their odour. If, therefore, a monkey should be presented to any reader of this book, I strongly recommend him to transfer it to some public institution.

Some lads, however, are monkey-mad, and would prefer to keep the animal. If they should by any chance do so, let them give the animal plenty of space wherein it may exercise its active limbs, and, above all things, keep it in a warm room during cold or wet weather. In this climate the monkeys generally die from diseased lungs, and they must accordingly be shielded from draughts and moisture.

For our next examples we must pass under the tunnel, and visit the room in which those wonderful Spider Monkeys are placed. In a moderately-sized cage are several specimens of two closely-allied species, which may be easily distinguished by attending to the descriptions.

The first of these creatures is the Moustache Monkey (Cercopithecus Cephus). It is a very little and a very elegant monkey, looking quite brilliant with its yellow tufts on the side of its face, and its blue skin. In the same cage are some specimens of the Red-eared Monkey (Cercopithecus erythrotis), also with yellow tufts on the side of the face. They can, however, be at once distinguished from the last-mentioned species by the colour of the bare skin on the face, which is pink instead of blue. The long tail, moreover, is of a bright chestnut hue, darkening towards the tip. This species comes from Fernando Po, a little island on the western coast of Africa, in the Bight of Biafra, where the lover of animals finds abundantly birds, beasts, and fishes. Both these little creatures are meek, gentle, and somewhat timid. They do[251] not, however, seem to present any salient point worthy of particular mention. One little fellow is very conspicuous among its companions by the sable tintings of its fur, and its white eyebrows. This is the Pluto Monkey (Cercopithecus Pluto), so called because its dark and sombre hues are thought to be emblematical of the gloomy King of Orcus.

Closely allied to these monkeys are the Mangabeys, several specimens of which are in the Zoological Gardens. Two species may be seen in the same cage in the Monkey House, and very funny creatures they are.

Of these two animals, the Lunulated Monkey is, perhaps, the greatest favourite with the public, not because it is more engaging in its manners, but on account of its petulance and the quaint manner in which it shows its displeasure.

It takes offence very readily, and, like certain irritable human beings, always thinks that some one is ridiculing it, and straightway flies into a passion. It dashes at its supposed foe, squeaks with rage, grins furiously, showing all its teeth, and agitates its eyebrows violently, producing a most absurd effect, as the skin of that part of the face is nearly white, and its alternate display and concealment never fail to raise much merriment among the spectators. This, of course, only irritates the monkey still further, and those who happen to be standing in front of the cage will act wisely by holding themselves well aloof, for the monkey darts its hand between the bars with wonderful rapidity, and will tear a piece out of a lady’s dress, or sadly injure a coat-skirt, before the keeper can interfere.

Even when no one is attempting to irritate it, the creature utters a few occasional growls, as if to give warning that it does not mean to be offended without taking notice of the insult. The colour of this monkey can be very well imitated by diluted lampblack, and the creature can always be recognised by the white eyelids. Both these monkeys come from Western Africa.


Of the genus Macacus there are several examples. There are no less than seven specimens of the Bonnet Macaque (Macacus pileatus), a monkey that may be recognised by the manner in which the hair of the head is parted in the middle, after the fashion of the modern dandy. The general tint of the fur is pale brown, but that of the head is black—a peculiarity which has earned for the creature its popular name. These monkeys are funny little fellows, with a peculiar wistful, peering expression in their faces, which I do not remember to have noticed in any other species. They are fond of gathering together in the window, selecting the spot where the sunbeams fall; and there they squat all in a group, so closely pressed together that no separate bodies can be distinguished, and they seem to be little more than a large bunch of fur, from which a number of heads and tails protrude confusedly.

The Round-faced Macaque (Macacus cyclopis) deserves a passing notice. It is a stout, sturdy little creature, with rather short limbs in proportion to the size of its body, a bold, pinky face, and fur of a sooty brown colour. Though strong and muscular, and climbing with wonderful address, it is hardly so active as the more slenderly-made monkeys; and when it leaps from a small height to the ground it comes down with a thump and a flounce, as if the limbs were not accustomed to such exertion. It is a native of Formosa.

I regret to say that the Pig-tailed Macaques (Macacus nemestrinus) are dead. They were, perhaps, the most amusing denizens of the Monkey House, with unrivalled capabilities of planning and executing mischief, and always having so comical an air about them that even the sufferer from their misdeeds could not be angry with them. I hope that new specimens will arrive, when they may be recognised by the peculiarity from which they derive their name, their slender, short tails bearing a singular resemblance to the caudal extremities of the porcine tribe.

Bonnet and Macaque Monkeys.Page 252.

Rhesus Monkey and Young.Page 253.

There are two specimens of the Toque (Macacus radiatus),[253] odd little creatures, which look just as if they had been crying. One looks as if it had been drinking as well, for its face is quite red and flushed. They are not quite so strong-jawed as some of the species, and, therefore, prefer buns to nuts, the shells being often too hard for them. This species is sometimes called the Zati, and sometimes is described under the name of Capped Macaque. It is a native of India. The common Macaque (Macacus cynomolgus) is also represented by several specimens. The colour of its fur is greenish brown above, and yellowish or whitish below. All the species of this genus bear a great resemblance to each other, and the young naturalist will find that the task of distinguishing them is at the same time difficult and instructive.

The Rhesus is a lively and amusing animal. There are no less than ten specimens of this monkey in the establishment, one of which, a remarkably fine fellow, called Jumbo by the keeper, is in the habit of displaying some very singular antics.

He climbs upon a strong bar that crosses his cage, and, fixing his hands tightly, jumps up and down rapidly with his hind paws, bringing them down on the bar with a mighty thump, and shaking the whole place with the violence of his exertions. The keepers have their pet names for all the conspicuous monkeys. Jumbo is the largest of them, and next in order come Jim and Nancy. Nancy is not permitted to associate with the other monkeys, because she has a baby, and her companions would assuredly tease and worry both the mother and her child.

By special favour the reader may, perhaps, be permitted to see this interesting pair of animals, and it is pretty to watch the care which the parent takes of her offspring, and the extreme jealousy with which she regards the least movement of the spectator. She flies forward with grinning teeth and flashing eyes, shakes the bars of her cage violently, and chatters her wrathful defiance to the imagined enemy. The[254] little one is in its way quite as shy, and whenever it takes alarm it leaps at its mother, clasps her round the neck and waist with its hands and feet, and lies, not on her back, as artists so frequently misrepresent, but under her belly, pressed so tightly to her body and buried so deeply in her fur, that at a little distance it cannot be distinguished. The rapidity of the movement is really astonishing. There is a quick spring, and in an instant the little creature is snugly settled in its natural cradle.

The baby looks ten times as old as the mother. Its face is puckered into a hundred wrinkles, and its skin hangs loose and flabby on its cheeks.

While I was watching this interesting pair, both mother and child became actuated by a common emotion. Their eyes sparkled with excitement; they glared anxiously through the bars of the cage, and they chattered with eager expectation. The keeper had put his hand into the pocket where he kept his apples, and the monkeys had seen the movement. The desired fruit was cut and given to the expecting animals, and then, I regret to say, the mother monkey displayed a more unamiable character than I should have thought her capable of possessing.

In spite of her evident fondness for her offspring, and her jealousy of strangers, she behaved very selfishly, snatched a piece of apple from her child and ate it herself, scolding it the while for daring to eat anything which she wanted.

Anubis Baboon.Page 255.

Wanderoo Monkey.Page 255.

The child, however, was by no means disposed to acquiesce in this appropriation, and when its mother came to take away the next piece of apple that was given to it, the little creature popped the morsel into its mouth. The piece of apple was, however, so large, and the young monkey’s mouth so small, that the greater portion projected from its jaws. The mother made a sharp snatch at the projecting portion, but this time the young one was too quick for her, and, striking the apple smartly with the back of its hand, drove it fairly into its[255] mouth. I really thought that the little animal would be choked, so greatly were its cheeks distended. But by some ingenious process it contrived to nibble away the apple, and seemed rather pleased than inconvenienced by the huge morsel which it had forced into its mouth.

In another cage is a small specimen of the Wanderoo (Silenus veter).

When adult and in good condition, this monkey is notable for the enormous mane which falls over the head and shoulders, and bears a remarkable resemblance to the full-dress wig of a judge. In the young specimen this hairy mass is but short and scanty, and it is not until the creature has reached its full growth that the wig flows around its head in such massy waves. The top of the head is black, but the wig—if we may retain that term—takes a greyish and sometimes a white hue along the sides, and gives a very venerable aspect to the monkey.

The fur of the Wanderoo is very black, without any gloss, and in allusion to this hue the Indians call it Neel-bhunder—i.e., Black monkey.

In a large cage at one end of the room sits in solitary state a fine specimen of the Anubis Baboon (Cynocephalus Anubis). In all the members of this genus the face is lengthened into a decided snout, at the extremity of which are placed the nostrils. This peculiarity gives a very morose aspect to the animals, which is certainly not belied by their tempers. All the Cynocephali are natives of Africa.

The fur of the male Anubis is very thick over the shoulders and upper parts of the body, and has a greenish cast, each hair being alternately black and yellow. The nose and bare skin of the face are brown.

This specimen is rather tetchy in disposition; and as he is an enormously powerful animal, the bars of his cage are defended[256] by strong wire network, so that he cannot pass his hand between them. One day a gentleman who was visiting the Monkey House chose to act contrary to regulations, and poked his stick through the bars for the purpose of irritating the baboon. The animal immediately seized it, and a pulling match commenced in which the baboon was easily victorious, dragging the gold-headed stick into his cage and keeping it.

In spite of all precautions, I regret to say that some of the visitors behave very badly to the animals. On Mondays especially, when the price of admission to the Gardens is only sixpence, the monkeys are shamefully teased.

The Anubis is always in a constant state of irritation on those days, and on one occasion had recourse to a rather curious device. He took up a handful of straw and fixed it on his perch close to the wires. This bunch of straw he seemed to regard much as the combative Irishman regards the coat-tail which he is trailing on the ground—resented with his utmost fury every attempt to touch it.

I once put him in a terrible passion. He is very fond of raw eggs, and the keeper produced a fine fresh one from his pocket. The Anubis saw it at once, and descended from his perch in anxious expectation. Wishing to see what the animal would do, I took the egg from the keeper, put it under my coat, and walked away. The baboon immediately flew into a fury; his eyes shot forth angry fires, and he jerked himself about in the oddest manner; he uttered guttural grunts, and followed me about with his eyes as if he would kill me.

I then returned the egg to the keeper, who opened the door of the cage and flung the egg at the baboon. The animal caught it with the dexterity of a juggler, and put it into his mouth. He then held his nose in the air so as to permit the egg to roll to the back of his jaws, and with the under-teeth he broke the egg-shell, permitting its contents to flow down his throat. After the lapse of a few minutes, he[257] just opened his mouth and protruded the fragments of the egg-shell, each portion of which he licked with economical care before he threw it on the floor of his cage.

On one occasion a gentleman, being anxious to discover the number of eggs that the animal would take, purchased sixpennyworth on his way to the Gardens. Eggs were then sold fourteen for a shilling. When he arrived at the Monkey House he produced the basket of eggs, and threw them to the baboon in rapid succession. The animal caught them all, and stowed away six in his cheeks, three on either side. There was no space for the seventh, so he ate it at once, and finished the others at his leisure. Once or twice a rotten egg has intruded into his mouth, and on such occasions his wrath is extreme.

This animal has a curious habit of sitting with his face to the wall, and fixing all his four paws against it on a level with his nose.

In the opposite cage are two specimens of a North African species—namely, the Arabian Baboon, sometimes called the Tartarin (Cynocephalus Hamadryas). This is a very handsome species, with a mass of long grey hair falling from the shoulders of the male, giving it a very poodle-like aspect, especially when it is seated. It is much more quiet than the Anubis, and is fond of assuming very remarkable attitudes, too numerous and too varied to be described. In Mr. Waterton’s museum at Walton Hall there is a splendid specimen of this beast, prepared after the unique style of that eminent naturalist, perfectly hollow, and without wires or any support whatever. It is so lifelike, indeed, that it is not exhibited in the museum. This animal was obtained from a large travelling menagerie, where it had lived for some time under the grandiloquent title of Lion-slayer, though neither it nor any other baboon ever slew a lion in their lives.

There is a small specimen of the Chacma, or Pig-faced[258] Baboon (Cynocephalus porcarius). This species inhabits Southern Africa, where it is very plentiful in certain spots.

If taken when young the Chacma is easily tamed, and becomes a very amusing animal, retaining its good-humour in spite of the teasing to which it is so often subjected. The word Chacma is a corruption from the Hottentot name of the animal, T’chakamma, the T’ representing one of those strange clicking sounds peculiar to the South African languages, so difficult of imitation, and so impossible of description.

In his native country the tame Chacma is often used for a very important purpose—namely, the discovery of water. The animal is purposely deprived of all liquid for a day or two, and is then suffered to go in search of water, being led by a long rope. The keen instinct of the poor thirsty animal is sure to guide it towards the desired object, and if any water be near the spot the baboon is a certain guide to the stream or fountain.

Two other species of this genus are in the Monkey House, but neither of them present any salient points of interest. One is the Guinea Baboon (Cynocephalus papio), a very young and small specimen, and the other is the Yellow Baboon (Cynocephalus papioides). This little animal can at once be recognised by the peculiarity from which it draws its name, the fur being conspicuously yellow. It is rather a good-tempered animal, and gives very little trouble to the keeper.

The wonderful Mandrill (Papio Mormon) is, I am sorry to say, numbered among the dead, but it is probable that its place may soon be filled by another specimen. It is, without doubt, the most interesting among the monkeys of the Old World, its ribbed cheeks being decorated with colours so brilliant that they seem to have been laid on with a painter’s brush dipped in the brightest tints which his palette could furnish.



We now leave the true monkeys of the Old World, and pass to those of the New. I say the true monkeys, because we shall, in the course of the present paper, recur to a portion of the Old World, as certain beings are found there which undoubtedly belong to the quadrumanous order, but which depart in many points from the characteristics of the true monkeys.

The rulers of the Zoological Gardens have done rightly in transferring the greater number of the New World monkeys to a separate building. Their peculiar temperament requires extended space, and their delicate lungs need a combination of warmth and fresh air that cannot be obtained except in a building devoted to the purpose.

Black-faced Spider Monkey.Page 259.

Next to the Reptile House the visitor will see another door, upon which is a placard calling attention to the Spider Monkeys. Passing up a few stairs, we come to a room the centre of which is occupied by a magnificent wire cage. In this cage are placed four specimens of the Spider Monkey, a few lemurs, and a single specimen of the Moustache Monkey, a creature which has been described at page 250 of our volume. This little animal has been transferred to the Spider Monkeys’ cage for the purpose of enlivening the normal inhabitants, who have a custom of squatting together on the floor, winding their prehensile tails around the general assemblage, and scolding every one who tries to disturb them.

There are three specimens of the Black-faced Spider Monkey (Ateles frontatus), and one of the Greyish Spider Monkey (Ateles hybridus). The latter animal can be at once recognised by the colour of its fur, which is of a very light and nearly white grey, the hair being rather long and coarse. The others are all known by their darker colour, a blackish brown pervading their whole bodies, and their faces being[260] darker than the rest of their persons. One specimen of the Black-faced Spider Monkey is in excellent health and spirits, and seldom fails to afford its visitors the gratification of seeing it go through its wonderful performances.

It has a regular series of feats, and goes through them as systematically as if it were an acrobat performing before the public. First it climbs up the wires until it has reached the longitudinal rafter that runs along the top of the cage. Along this rafter it springs, holding only by its hands, and swings along, hand over hand, with a certainty and lightness that are peculiarly beautiful.

Having arrived at the other end of the rafter it grasps a rope, launches itself into mid-air, swings once or twice, and then transfers itself to a second rope, by means of which it swings diagonally across the cage, lands safely upon the wires, and then goes to rejoin its companions.

When the four Spider Monkeys choose to gather themselves together, scarcely any inducement can separate them. By a very necessary rule, no one is allowed to feed the creatures in this room, so that these monkeys cannot be enticed away from their companionship, and the cage is so large, that, even if ill-conditioned visitors were to attempt to use violence, they could not succeed.

I hope that the young observer will lose no time in proceeding to the Zoological Gardens and examining the peculiarities of the Spider Monkeys, because all the quadrumana are delicate beings at the best, and these South American species are peculiarly affected by our climate.

The first point of importance in their structure is the long prehensile tail, the tip of which is bare of fur and covered with soft black skin, like that of the feet. It can grasp with very great power, and the animal possesses the faculty of directing it as accurately as an elephant directs its proboscis, so that it is able to seize the branches of the tree, or to pick up any object within reach. I was going to say that it can[261] grasp the branches of the tree in which it resides, but this expression would have been wrong. Monkeys have no residence; they are essentially nomad in their characters, traversing continually the rocks or forests of the country wherein they live, and neither needing nor possessing a fixed residence. The chief use of a definite habitation is to furnish a secure home for the young while they are helpless.

Thus, the rabbit retires to her burrow, the wolf or the lioness to her den, and the squirrel to her cage. But the young of the monkey are never helpless, like those of the animals just mentioned; they cling to their mother’s body, bury themselves in her fur, and find therein a warm and living cradle. It is noteworthy, too, that the young monkey suspends itself in such a manner that it offers no impediment to its mother’s movements, nor does it interfere with her equilibrium as she passes along the branches.

The next important point in these monkeys is the peculiar formation of their limbs. All monkeys are agile, but these creatures are especially made for locomotion among branches, and in consequence they combine strength and lightness in a very wonderful manner. Their heads are very small and round, their bodies are slight and of trifling weight, while their limbs are at once long, slender, and powerful.

The fore paws are small, and the observer must remark that the thumb is almost entirely absent. A monkey does not grasp with its fore paws, but merely hooks its fingers over the branches, and so swings without wasting its strength. The grasping power is chiefly evident in the hind paws, the thumb of which is very large, and therefore possesses great force. The inner surface of the hind paws is quite black, soft, and silken to the touch, and little indicative of the enormous grasping power which resides in them.

As instruments of terrestrial progression the limbs possess but few capabilities. All monkeys have an awkward air while on the ground; but these long-limbed creatures are[262] peculiarly ill fitted to a level surface. They can walk on their hind feet, and often do so, but it is in a curious, waddling sort of gait, with the arms extended as balancers, and the long tail curved high over the head like the letter S.

They often proceed along the floor of their cage in a very curious manner. Without changing their seated posture they gather up their legs, place their hands on the floor, and swing themselves along, using the arms as crutches. This movement is exactly like the mode of progression which has been related of the kangaroos in books of Natural History. Awkward as this manœuvre may seem, it suits them well enough, and they get along at a pace which really surprises those who see it for the first time.

The nostrils are very wide apart, on account of a thick cartilage which divides them, and the teeth present many remarkable peculiarities, which need not be described except in a purely scientific work.

“I have elsewhere written an account of a Black Spider Monkey named Sally, who, like the monkey in the fable, had seen the world, having traversed the greater part of the globe by sea and by land. I afterwards made her acquaintance, and was much pleased with her gentle manners.

“She was terribly impatient of cold, and, when allowed to go near a fire, it was almost painful to see the eagerness with which she drank in the heat. She would hold up her arm, and expose her side to the fire until the hair began to shrivel and scorch; she would then turn the other side, and repeat the process. She would lie strangely curled up on the flat plate of the kitchen fender, spin round and round, as if she were a joint to be roasted, and would cry piteously when removed from the pleasing warmth.

“She was fond of climbing to the shoulders of those whom she liked, and used to do so in rather a curious manner, not pulling herself up by grasping the clothes, as is the custom with most monkeys, but by clasping the limbs round the[263] body. When she had reached the waist, she generally put her hand into every pocket, in order to feel for apples or nuts, and displayed little petulant signs of disapprobation when her search was unsuccessful.

“I regret to say that poor gentle Sally is dead. She had lived for years on board ship, alike unaffected by tropical suns or Arctic snows, but the peculiar British climate did not suit her constitution, and in a few months she succumbed to its influence.

“The only signs of anger that I have known the Spider Monkeys to manifest is a slight shooting out of the lips, accompanied by a short, sharp, impatient sound, something between a whistle and a squeak.”

In a smaller cage may be seen a beautiful specimen of the Squirrel Monkey, sometimes called the Tee-Tee (Callithrix sciureus).


Squirrel Monkey and Tee-Tee.Page 263.

This pretty and elegant little creature is scarcely larger than a rat, with an innocent, baby-like countenance, and large, full, dark eyes. It may at once be recognised by the pink face with a blackish spot on the nose, and the yellow limbs, contrasting with the olive-coloured back. Its tail is exceedingly long and particularly prehensile, though I have not seen the creature suspend itself by that member, as is the case with the Spider Monkeys.

In common with all its kin, it is a most gentle and delicate little being—quite a lady’s pet—coming to the bars to be caressed, and occasionally uttering the tiniest imaginable squeaklet. It does not possess the selfish, grasping disposition which generally characterises the monkey tribe. On one occasion the keeper gave two slices of orange to itself and the Douroucouli, which inhabits the same cage. Just as the Douroucouli was about to take its piece of fruit, a sharp-eyed and quick-limbed Moustache Monkey, that inhabited an adjoining cage, leaped across the top of its house, dropped[264] along the wires, thrust its arm through the partition, and seized the orange, darting away with its spoil to the farther corner of its cage.

For a few moments I was amusing myself by laughing at the impertinent thief as he sat grinning and chattering defiance to the keeper, and when I turned to see how the Douroucouli bore his loss, I found the Tee-Tee quietly sharing his piece of orange with the bereaved animal. Both were nibbling and sucking away with perfect amity, and they resorted to the same social expedient when another slice of the juicy fruit was put into the cage.

In the same cage with the Tee-Tee is the curious Feline Douroucouli, or Vitoe (Nyctipithecus felinus), a pretty, though sober-coloured, little animal, mostly active during the night, but at times lively in the daytime.

The fur of this animal is thick, deep, and soft, though not drooping. It has a round face, a short, stumpy nose, and very large round eyes of a beautiful chestnut hue. The general colour of the fur is greyish-brown; there is a dark stripe over the top of the head, and just above each eye is a patch of white. Its fingers are very long, and the tail is large, full, and nearly black. This creature is found, as are all the tribe, in the Brazils.

During the daytime it spends much of its time in its box, which is long and narrow, with an aperture near each end, and the creature seems to find some amusement in popping into one round hole, traversing the box, and poking its head out of the other. When a slice of orange was given to the Douroucouli, it did not attempt to eat it for some time, but only patted it, and then licked its fingers, thus giving time to its neighbour, the Moustache Monkey, to rob it of the dainty.

The last of the true New World Monkeys which can be described in these pages will be found in the large Monkey[265] House near the refreshment-room. These are the Capucins, (Cebus Apella), of which there are several specimens in the cages. They are funny little animals, of a singularly sedate and grave aspect.

Two of them, called “Jack” and “Charley,” are notable for their nut-cracking powers. Their jaws are too feeble to break the shell of a well-grown nut, and accordingly they have learned to achieve that object in another manner. Some time ago a very little monkey was placed in the cage quite unable to crack nutshells, and the keeper, taking compassion on his weakness, showed him how to break a nutshell by means of a large pebble. The other monkeys learned the art by watching their comrade, and it is very amusing to see one of them take a nut, put it into his mouth, hunt under the straw for the pebble, drop the nut on the floor, pick up the stone in both hands, smash the shell with a single blow, and pick up the fragments in haste, lest the others should avail themselves of his ingenuity.

Jack is also very fond of eggs, breaking one end by knocking it against the floor, and then, inserting his hand, pulling out the semi-liquid contents and eating them. For the benefit of those who read Gulliver’s Travels, I may mention that the monkey might have found little favour at the court of H.M. Golbasto Momarem Evlame Gurdilo Shefin Mully Ully Gue, Emperor of Liliput, being an obstinate Big-endian, and never breaking his eggs at the little end.

As to Charley, he developed tastes that to me were rather unexpected. The keeper put his hand into his pocket, and, drawing out a dead mouse, presented it to Charley, who received it with eagerness sparkling in his eyes, and withdrew to the side of the cage, where he was nearly surrounded by his fellows, who sat around him in eager expectation, watching every movement, like small boys when one of their comrades has an apple.

His first operation was to put the head in his mouth, to[266] bite the skull asunder with a single effort, and eat the brains. He then deliberated upon the mouse, pulled off a leg, and laid it on the ground, whence it was instantly seized and eaten by a companion. He seemed anxious to make the treat last as long as possible, and after a lapse of half-an-hour he had not quite finished the mouse. The keeper told me that he preferred them just killed.

By some writers these monkeys are called Weepers. The colour of the Capucin is rather variable: yellowish with an olive cast on the back, and paler round the face.


In the wonderful island known by the name of Madagascar are several members of the quadrumanous order, none of which are very like monkeys, and one is so strange a being, that, for many years, systematic zoologists did not know in which order it ought to be placed. In the same room with the Spider Monkeys is a cage in which are placed two very fine specimens of the Ring-tailed Lemur, or Macauco (Lemur catta). These handsome creatures are very tame and gentle, and always grateful for a little attention.

They are very pretty creatures, with their long snouts, full chestnut eyes, large, intelligent ears, and soft chinchilla-like fur. Their general colour is soft and slightly mottled grey, blackish upon the top of the head, taking a warmer tint upon the back, and becoming pure white below. The tail is very long and round, nearly white, and ringed regularly with black throughout its length.

They are playful as kittens, and have great games in their cage, knocking each other over, leaping about their house with wonderful activity, and expressing amusement by jumping up and down from all the four paws, just as a kitten does when she is greatly excited. One of them will swing by its hind paws from a branch, give its companion a pat on the side of[267] the head, drop to the floor, and scurry off in hot haste, with its playfellow in full chase. Suddenly it pulls up and sits on a branch, with its hind feet clasping the bough and its tail swinging loosely below, and calmly contemplates the prospect.

Ring-Tailed Lemur.Page 266.

They took a great fancy to my pencil, and tried very hard to obtain it, dropping suddenly along the wires, and making a dash at the pencil when they thought that I was off my guard. Owing to the slenderness of their limbs, they can thrust their paws to a surprising distance through the bars. They became greatly excited when I offered them some bread, jumping about, and uttering curious little murmuring cries. Each tried very hard to monopolise the dainty, but, when they found out that each had its proper share, they grew contented with their gift.

Their paws are quite as hand-like as those of the true monkeys; and when the creature sits upright, feeding itself with its fingers, and looking calmly in various directions, it assumes a peculiarly wise and contemplative aspect. The fore paws are quite soft and rounded at their tips, being finished off with a round black pad, which projects from beyond the little blunt nails, so that the Lemur is quite unable to scratch, though it can snatch and clutch quickly, and pull with great force.

I have much more to say about these beautiful animals, but, as we shall require some space for the description of the Aye Aye, I must pass to the remaining specimens of the Lemur tribe.

In a smaller cage is a specimen of the White-fronted Lemur (Lemur albifrons), a creature that at the time of my visit had hardly made up its mind whether it would be playful or vicious. After some little experience it found out that I meant it no harm, and so took up the former line of conduct.

By degrees it organised a kind of game, and would play[268] as long as I chose to humour it. The creature turned its back to me, and pressed itself against the side of the cage. I gave it a poke with my finger or pencil, and the Lemur gave a kind of chatter, dashed to the top of the cage, laid the side of its head upon the bars, opened its mouth, squeaked, and then descended to resume its game. Like its ring-tailed kinsfolk, it took a fancy to my pencil, and once or twice nearly succeeded in pulling it out of my hand.

The general colour of this species is brown, with a warmer tinge upon the sides, and round the face is a ruff of long, loose white hair, that gives the creature an aspect not at all unlike that of a pantaloon in a Christmas pantomime. I may mention that by many zoologists the White-fronted Lemur is thought to be only the female of the Black-fronted Lemur (Lemur nigrifrons).

In a corresponding cage is a specimen of the White-whiskered Lemur (Lemur leucomystax).

This animal has lived in the collection for nearly two years, and is quite tame and gentle. It is rather larger than the preceding species, and is a very pretty creature. The fur is long, soft, and of a reddish-brown colour upon the body, taking a black hue on the top of the head. Instead of the ruff of white hair that surrounds the head of the preceding species, there is a pointed tuft of white hair projecting from each cheek, just like the whiskers of an old man.

It is fond of being caressed, and, when no one takes notice, it attempts to call their attention by uttering a short grunt, frequently repeated, and sometimes gives vent to its impatience by a rather loud and deep barking sound. The observer should be careful to examine the eyes of the Lemur, their peculiar lustre having at times almost a startling effect, their depths seeming to be lighted up with a silvery fire.

We now come to the last of the monkey tribe.

Just now the Zoological Society is rich in treasures, possessing[269] some of the rarest birds and quadrupeds at present known to science. The hippopotamus, for example, though not scarce in its own country, is so difficult a subject for transmission, that we may congratulate ourselves on the two magnificent specimens in the Gardens. The giraffe, too, partakes of similar conditions, and is, therefore, most valuable. But perhaps the two most remarkable creatures at present in the Gardens are the apteryx, a bird which is undoubtedly on the road to extinction, and is notable for laying an egg that weighs one-fourth as much as the mother bird; and the Aye Aye (Cheiromys Madagascariensis).

The Aye-Aye.Page 269.

This wonderful animal derives its name from the exclamations of surprise uttered by some natives of Madagascar when the creature was first shown to them. It is eminently nocturnal in its habits, and on account of its dark fur and quiet movements is not likely to attract observation. It was first discovered by Sonnerat, who kept a couple of specimens for some time, feeding them upon boiled rice. They fed themselves in a very curious manner, using the long slender fingers of the fore paws for the purpose of conveying the food to the mouth.

A single dead specimen was brought to France by the discoverer, and the stuffed skin placed in the splendid museum in Paris; and for many years this was the only specimen in Europe. The accounts of the habits of the animal were exceedingly meagre; nothing was known of its customs when in a state of freedom, and the only trustworthy information which could be obtained was that which described the colour of the fur.

We hope now to gain more extended knowledge respecting the Aye Aye.

On the 12th of August, 1862, a fine female Aye Aye landed in England. She was in a delicate state of health, for on the voyage she had produced a young one, which only survived its birth for a short time. However, by means of[270] careful treatment she soon improved in health, and is now in very fine condition.

By day she does not appear to the best advantage. She hates daylight, and very much resents its unwelcome intrusion upon her privacy, curling herself up in the darkest corner of the cage, and shading her face with her magnificent black tail. She is a stronger creature than might be supposed from her dimensions, and displays much muscular power in pushing her way into her house.

As she lies in repose the enormous bushy tail is curled round and laid over the face, so that barely any outline is perceptible. It is curious to see how, even in this condition, the large ears are gently moved at every sound, and when the creature is roused from her torpor the brilliancy with which the eyes gleam from among the heavy fur of the tail is really remarkable.

At night, however, the Aye Aye becomes a different being. She moves about with ease and agility, making no rapid or sudden rushes, but quietly walking about the cage, being perfectly indifferent as to the position in which the body may be. She can walk steadily upon the smooth floor, she can walk upon the rough branches of the tree which is laid across her cage, or she can walk along the roof of her house, hanging suspended like the sloth. And she appears to be equally at ease in either attitude, and walks with equal adroitness.

As to the food of the Aye Aye, it may safely be pronounced to be of a mixed animal and vegetable character. Until this specimen was brought to England, the Aye Aye was thought to feed only on insects, the long third finger being supposed to be used in taking them out of the recesses of the rough bark. The specimen, however, which is at present living in the Zoological Gardens totally rejects insects of every kind, and feeds only on a mixture of honey, milk, and the yolk of hard-boiled eggs, beaten up into the consistence of thick cream.


The mode of feeding is very peculiar. Mr. Bartlett, who has paid much attention to this zoological treasure, has published in the Proceedings of the Zoological Society a very interesting paper on the habits of the animal, and gives the following description of its mode of feeding:—

“In feeding, the left hand only is used, although she has the full use of her right one. The mode of taking her food requires careful attention, in consequence of the very rapid movement of the hand during the process. The fourth finger, which is the longest and largest, is thrust forwards into the food, the slender third finger is raised upwards and backwards above the rest, while the first finger or thumb is lowered so as to be seen below and behind the chin. In this position the hand is drawn backwards and forwards rapidly, the inner side of the fourth finger passing between the lips, the head of the animal being held sideways, thus depositing the food in the mouth at each movement; the tongue, jaws, and lips are kept in full motion all the time. Sometimes the animal will advance towards, and lap from, the dish like a cat; but this is unusual.” The keeper tells me, however, that, though she generally prefers the left paw for feeding herself, she frequently employs the right hand for that purpose.

These observations are very valuable, and, when taken in connection with certain habits of the animal, lead us to suppose that in the wild state its mode of feeding is as unique as its appearance.

The observer will see that the branches within its cage are cut about as if they had been exposed to the fire of a rifle company, the boughs being deeply wounded and grooved, with splinters projecting in various directions. These wounds are made by the teeth of the Aye Aye, which, though no larger than a fine cat, possess strength of jaw and sharpness of tooth sufficient to inflict such wounds. It has been suggested that the creature partially feeds on the sap of certain trees, and that by wounding their substance with its teeth it causes the[272] juices to flow, and then conveys them into its mouth by means of the long fourth finger.

As Mr. Bartlett well observes, “I observe that our specimen returns frequently to the same spot on the tree which she had previously injured. I am also strengthened in my opinion by noticing the little attention paid by the animal to the food. It does not watch or look after it; for I have on several occasions removed the vessel containing its food during the time the animal was feeding, and the creature continued to thrust its hand forward as before on the same spot; though, after awhile, finding no more food, she discontinued, and moved off in search for more elsewhere. This apparently stupid act is so unlike the habits of an animal intended to capture or feed on living creatures, that I am inclined to believe that the Aye Aye feeds upon inanimate substances. I have frequently seen it eat a portion of the bark and wood, after taking a quantity of the fluid food.”

She also uses her slender fingers in cleaning her face and ears, and in combing out the long hairs of her beautiful tail.

The animal nature of its food is proved by the observations of the Hon. H. Sandwith, M.D., &c., who kept a fine male Aye Aye for some time, and carefully watched its habits.

Seeing that the animal was constantly using its powerful teeth for the purpose of gnawing its way out of the cage, Dr. Sandwith thought that he would put some branches in the cage, so that it might eat them instead of gnawing the woodwork of its habitation. After the sun had set, the Aye Aye came from his darkened nest, and straightway proceeded to examine the branches, which happened to have been bored by a large grub.

Then was seen the use of the strange second finger, which is not half as thick as any of the others, and, indeed, looks more like a piece of bent wire than a jointed member. With this finger the animal tapped rapidly on the bough, and then[273] listened, as if to judge by the sound whether the branch was tenanted. Having satisfied himself on this point, and having several times thrust his finger, probe fashion, into the holes, he began to bite away the wood with great energy, and in a few minutes succeeded in exposing a large grub, which was picked out of its hole by the same useful finger, and so put into the mouth.

The animal would also eat mangoes, dates, and similar fruit, biting a hole in the rind, and scooping out the interior with the ever-useful finger.

The visitor should, if possible, obtain a view of the teeth, which are sufficiently powerful to bite through the hardest woods, such as ebony or teak—woods which woefully try the temper of our steel-made tools. In the front of the jaw there are four incisor teeth, chisel-shaped, like those of the rabbit and other rodents, but of enormous depth and thickness. Like the rodent teeth, they are furnished with a pulpy substance at their root, from which fresh tooth-substance is developed, so as to supply new tooth from behind as fast as it is worn away in front. They are arranged in a rather curious fashion, so that, when seen directly in front, they look like four rounded points converging towards each other, and really give no conception of their formidable powers.

Between the incisor and the grinder teeth there is a large gap, just as in the rodent tribes, and the skull is arched exactly like that of a rat or rabbit, in order to afford room for the large incisor teeth. There are no canine teeth, and altogether the number of teeth is only eighteen. The muscles which move the jaws are powerful in proportion to the work which they have to perform, and, to a considerable extent, cause the peculiar width of the head.

Those who are unable to see the animal itself will be able to form a very correct idea from Mr. Wolfe’s admirable drawing, which is hung by the cage. No previous figures gave a true idea of the animal’s real shape, as they were necessarily[274] sketched from the stuffed specimen, and, of course, looked shrivelled and death-like.

The Aye Aye is about the size of a large cat, and its face is full, wide, and rather destitute of hair. The upper part of the face is dull flesh-colour, which changes to pink upon the muzzle. The general colour is dull black, the hair being very long, rather scanty, and decidedly coarse. Upon the back many of the hairs become quite white towards the extremities, and have a very fine effect when contrasted with the sober black of the general fur. The tail is deep black and large, like that of a fox, but the hairs are arranged in a different manner, as may be seen from the illustration. Whenever the animal is angry, and spreads its tail, the hairs are seen to be grey at the base, and black as they approach the tips.

The ears are very large, black, and nearly hairless, but studded with little knobs; and the eyes are very large, very full, and of a beautiful chestnut colour. The fingers are very long and slender, and are held in a curious kind of clutching attitude, as is shown in the illustration. When the face is seen directly in front, two of the teeth gleam whitely between the lips, and if the animal should chance to yawn their formidable arrangement becomes visible, and it is easy to see how deeply they can bite into the tree.

The keeper seems to be on very good terms with the animal, which he calls “Jack” in bold defiance of her sex.

It is possible that we may obtain a male specimen of the Aye Aye, and that they may breed in this country, as has been the case with many rare animals, inhabitants of hotter climes. There is, however, a considerable difficulty in obtaining specimens, even when we know where to look for them; for the Aye Aye can only be detected by the watchful eye of the native, who has from his childhood been taught to reverence the Aye Aye as something supernatural, and to fancy that, if he should touch one of these animals, even by chance, he will die within a year. There are but few natives who are[275] strong-minded enough to put themselves in such danger, and even those who are daring enough to seize an Aye Aye require to have their courage stimulated by a very large bribe—enough, in fact, to maintain them through the entire year of peril.

I have written at some length of this wonderful animal, because it is the first living specimen which has ever touched the European shores, and no one can say how long it will live. There are, however, many curious and interesting details of its structure which I cannot mention for lack of space. If the reader should desire to make himself master of the anatomy of the Aye Aye, he will find a vast fund of information in Professor Owen’s monograph upon this creature.


“Aye Aye!” So exclaimed the natives of the east coast of Madagascar, when first shown the little animal described above. But the exclamation was not of affirmation, but astonishment; for they had never seen it before, and indeed there are reasons for thinking it is confined to the other side of that great continental island, which is so little known, yet in which Christianity has long numbered its devotees, its martyrs, and its apostates.

“But,” says some reader, whose tastes lead him to politics, poetry, or fiction, rather than to Nature, and whose acquaintance with the latter is limited to the creatures which he may eat or be eaten by—“even if I did care to know anything at all about this little beast, with the head of a cat, the tail of a squirrel, the hands of a miser, and the feet of a monkey, all I have to do is to glance at my Beeton’s Dictionary, and find in a nutshell all about the Aye Aye.”

But there is more to be said about the Aye Aye than can be contained in a scientific dictionary, and as to Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary, we pray our readers to listen for a[276] single moment to the following statement, which is made with great regret, since we too once had equal faith in the magnificent work above mentioned. The figure named Aye Aye, upon page 99, would answer equally well for at least a dozen other mammiferous vertebrates, and no one who has ever seen a correct picture of the Aye Aye would recognise this as meant for one; the description of its appearance and habits, though equal in length to that of the elephant, is incorrect in several important points, and neither the figure nor the description affords any information respecting the real peculiarities which distinguish the Aye Aye from all known animals. It is true that similar defects exist in the account given in Wood’s Illustrated Natural History of Mammalia; and there is some excuse for this as in the dictionary, since both were issued before the appearance of Professor Owen’s splendid Monograph of the Aye Aye, in 1866; but neither this nor any other excuse can be urged for the deficiencies and misstatements of certain late text-books of zoology.

We trust this is sufficient reason for offering now some further account of the Aye Aye.

One word as to the name. Its origin is as stated above, and not from any sound made by the creature itself; for, although one observer states that it sometimes utters a low grunt, another, the Superintendent of the Zoological Gardens in London, says he has never heard it make any sound whatever. Now it could not be expected that scientific naturalists would rest content with so brief a title as Aye Aye for so wonderful an animal. It must have two names at the least—the first to designate its genus, the second to signify the species, just as we say sugar (genus), white or brown, &c., (species); so in 1790 the Aye Aye was called Sciurus (squirrel) Madagascariensis (native of Madagascar). In 1800 it was rechristened as Lemur (ghost) psilodactylus (long-fingered). But it is now generally known by the title bestowed by Cuvier—Chiromys Madagascariensis—which[277] signifies “a rat-like animal with hands, and living in Madagascar.”

The scientific title of the Aye Aye, then, fully atones for the brevity of its common name; and it must be further remembered that the technical names of animals and plants bear no definite relation to their own size or importance; for example, the elephant is simply Elephas Indicus or Africanus, according to the species, while the little changeable mole of the Cape of Good Hope is called Chrysochloris holosericea, and a microscopic rhizopod shell rejoices in the high-sounding title of Quinquenoculina meridionalis. Even this, however, would not be so bad if each species bore but a single name instead of a dozen, as often happens, and if, on the other hand, the same names were not sometimes by mistake applied to totally distinct species. It has been well said that the zeal of zoologists to give names to species and groups is the greatest bane of Natural History, a constant hindrance to our own progress, and a subject of well-deserved reproach from the public; if we would all make it a rule not to publish the name of a supposed new species for a year after its discovery, and until a thorough search had been made for previous records, our own glory might be less apparent, but we should be more considerate of our fellows, and more surely, though more slowly, advance the knowledge of natural objects.

The Aye Aye is about the size of a cat, but the head is rather larger, the ears are wider and less pointed, the limbs project more freely from the trunk, and the bushy tail forms rather more than half the total length of three feet. This tail, moreover, has a gentle downward curve, instead of an upward tendency, as with the cat and the dog. The trunk is clothed with a silky coat of short greyish hair; but the colour is given by the longer hairs, which are dark brown or nearly black, although along the spine some of them are tipped with white.

So far the Aye Aye has presented nothing very wonderful;[278] but a glance at our illustration will detect its most striking feature. The Aye Aye’s hand is unlike that of any other known animal. Its medius or middle digit is about as long as the annularis or ring finger, but only half as thick. It is skinny and bony, as if stricken with palsy, and has been aptly compared to a crooked nail. Its knuckle-joint is projected beyond those of the other digits; its first phalanx is longer than that of any excepting the annularis, and its terminal phalanges very slender. But the tendon of the medius is quite as large as those of the other digits; and we are told that the tendons and muscles are so arranged that great power may be exerted upon this one slender digit, for a purpose we shall presently describe. The pollex, or thumb, is the shortest and thickest of all—has one less phalanx, as is usual among the mammalia, and is armed with a claw like the others. The acute angle which it forms with the palm does not indicate any great degree of opposability.

The hinder foot (pes) reminds us at once of that of a monkey; for the primus, or great toe, stands out boldly from the side of the foot, and is evidently opposed in grasping to the other four dactyls, as is our thumb. It bears a small nail, whereas the four smaller dactyls are armed with curved and pointed claws. Both digits and dactyls, moreover, are a little thickened at the tip, so as to form fleshy pads. That of the primus is most apparent.

The Aye Aye has strange teeth, too; for some of them suggest the squirrel, and others the monkey. In the first place, it has only two front or incisor teeth, above and below, and these are narrow, but deep, and bevelled off to a cutting edge, like the incisor teeth of the beaver, the squirrel, the rabbit, and other “rodentia” or gnawing animals, which have a hard case of enamel upon the front surface, the rest of the tooth being softer and more easily worn away by use. These teeth are like chisels in this respect; but they have two very decided advantages over the best steel instrument of human[279] contrivance. The first is, that their very use keeps them sharp and in perfect order, since the edge of the lower tooth strikes just behind the edge of the upper, and both are continually worn away behind by the attrition of the hard wood which they attack. The second peculiarity is, that this constant loss of substance at the free end of the tooth is constantly repaired by new growth at the opposite extremity. The tooth grows during the life of the animal; and as the crown is worn away, the addition of fresh material to the root pushes the whole tooth slowly forward in its long socket, and it is thus ever ready for use. These ever-growing teeth are organic chisels which are for ever in use, yet never in need of the grindstone—for ever wearing away, yet never worn out.

But while the scalpriform incisors so nearly resemble those of the real rodent mammals, and while this resemblance is further increased by the absence of any canine or eye-teeth, and by the provision for a sliding forward and backward movement of the lower jaw, yet the molar or grinding teeth differ from those of the typical rodents; their crowns are rounded and slightly tuberculous, like those of the pigs, the monkeys, and man, and do not seem adapted to a strictly vegetable diet; add to this the peculiar character of the ears, which are large and naked, like the bat’s, and are inclined forward as if for offensive purposes, rather than backward, like the hare’s, in order to warn it of pursuit, and we must evidently be cautious in drawing conclusions as to the manner of life and the zoological affinities of this singular animal. The limbs show that it climbs trees like a monkey, the eyes that it is active at dusk like the owl and the cat, the teeth that it gnaws wood like the squirrel, while the internal organs of digestion would lead us to suppose that it feeds upon insects; and the extraordinary middle digit is so utterly unlike anything we have seen before, that conjecture as to its purpose seems to be in vain.

Deferring a discussion as to the Aye Aye’s place in a[280] system of animals, and confining ourselves to what we have learned of its structure, let us see how nearly correct the reader has been in any surmises as to its mode of existence by consulting the statements of those who have observed the Aye Aye in life.

The first of these was the traveller Sonnerat, whose Voyage aux Indes Orientales et à la Chine, depuis 1774 jusqu’en 1781, was published at Paris in 1782. He appears to have been the first civilised discoverer of the Aye Aye, and states, either from his own observation or from the reports of the natives, that “it makes use of the long, slender and naked middle digit to draw out of holes in trees the worms which form its food.” Sonnerat had a male and a female Aye Aye which lived for two months on board ship, being fed with rice.

The next recorded observation upon the habits of the Aye Aye was communicated to the French Academy of Sciences in 1855, by M. Liénard, of the Mauritius. He states that when a mango-fruit was offered, the Aye Aye first made a hole in the rind with his strong front teeth, inserted therein his slender middle digit, and then, lowering his mouth to the hole, put into it the pulp which the finger had scooped out of the fruit. A third observer, M. A. Vinson, states that in the same year an Aye Aye drank café au lait or eau sucrée by passing its long and slender digit from the vessel to its mouth with incredible rapidity.

But in 1859 Dr. H. Sandwith, the Colonial Secretary from England to the Mauritius, wrote to Professor Owen that he had secured a fine, healthy adult male Aye Aye from Madagascar, which, after having once escaped and been recaptured, was put into spirit and sent to England. This specimen formed the subject of a most complete and suggestive work of the learned Professor. But a long communication from Dr. Sandwith himself is printed in the Society’s Proceedings for 1859, and some observations upon the habits[281] of a female Aye Aye which reached the Society’s collection in August, 1862, are printed in the Society’s Proceedings for that year, and in the Annals of Natural History, vol. xii.

From these various sources we learn the following as to the Aye Aye’s mode of life:—

During the day the Aye Aye sleeps; it then lies upon one side, with the body curved and nearly covered by the great bushy tail. It is sensitive to cold, and sometimes covers itself with a piece of flannel, even in warm weather.

At dusk it awakes and climbs about, securely grasping the branches with its prehensile feet, and often hanging suspended by them, and using its fingers as a comb for its long tail. In this operation the middle digit is especially serviceable, and it is also used in clearing dust from its face and other parts, the other digits being then often partially closed. It was found that the captive Aye Aye in the Zoological Gardens used only the left hand in feeding from a dish, although the right seemed equally at its command.

The fourth digit (annularis), which is the longest and largest, is thrust forward into the food, the slender medius raised upward and backward above the rest, while the pollex is lowered so as to be seen below and behind the chin. In this position (an almost impossible one, by the way, for men or monkeys) the hand is drawn backward and forward rapidly, the inner side of the finger passing between the lips, the head of the animal being held sideways, thus depositing the food in the mouth at each movement; the tongue, jaws, and lips are kept in full motion all the time. Sometimes the animal will lap from the dish like a cat, but this is unusual. During all the hours in which the Superintendent of the Gardens watched it, no sound was made, nor was there any manifestation of anger or shyness.

This specimen seemed to care nothing for insects, but fed freely upon a mixture of milk, honey, eggs, and such sweet and glutinous things, and the observer concluded, therefore,[282] that its natural food is rather fruit than insects; but this only indicated that the Aye Aye did not like British meal-worms, grasshoppers, wasp-larvæ, and the like, and no more proved that it was not insectivorous than a man’s refusal to eat turnips would show that he cared nothing for potatoes. And surely nothing can be more conclusive than the following account which Dr. Sandwith gives of the proceedings of his specimen:—

“I found he would eat bananas and dates; and he drank by dipping a finger into the water and drawing it through his mouth so rapidly that the water seemed to flow in a stream; after a while he lapped like a cat, but the former was the more usual method, and seemed to be his way of reaching water in the clefts of the trees.

“I happened to put into his cage some thick sticks, which were bored in all directions by a large and destructive grub called the ‘Moutouk.’ Just at sunset the Aye Aye crept from under his blanket, yawned, stretched, and betook himself to his tree, where his movements are lively and graceful, though by no means so quick as those of a squirrel. Presently he came to one of the worm-eaten branches, which he began to examine most attentively; and, bending forward his ears and applying his nose close to the bark, he rapidly tapped the surface with the curious middle digit, as a woodpecker taps a tree, though with much less noise, from time to time inserting the end of the slender finger into the wormholes, as a surgeon would a probe. At length he came to a part of the branch which evidently gave out an interesting sound, for he began to tear it with his strong teeth; he rapidly stripped off the bark, cut into the wood, and exposed the nest of a grub, which he daintily picked out of its bed with the slender, tapering finger, and conveyed to his mouth.”

This medius, then, can be used in turn as a pleximeter, a probe, and a scoop; and not the least remarkable circumstance[283] is the coincidence between the diameter of the hole made in the wood by the incisor teeth and the width of this digit; for although we cannot say that the size and power of the head are such as to limit the width of the teeth, yet, granting that their size is so limited, it is evident that none of the ordinary digits would be of the least service as an instrument of either discovery or extraction; and whatever view we may adopt as to the means by which these structures were produced, we must surely, with the great anatomist, recognise not only “the direct adaptation of instruments to functions, of feet to grasp, of teeth to erode, of a digit to feel and to extract, but we discern a correlation of these several modifications with each other, and with modifications of the nervous system and sense-organs—of eyes to catch the least glimmer of light, and of ears to detect the feeblest grating of sound—the whole forming a compound mechanism to the perfect performance of a particular kind of work.” The Aye Aye obviously belongs to the branch of Vertebrates and the class of Mammalia; but some zoologists have placed it with the squirrels in the order Rodentia, and others with the Lemurs, in the order Quadrumana or Cheiropoda; there is also a certain superficial resemblance to a cat; but the real issue has been between those who follow Buffon and Cuvier in giving prominence to the ever-growing incisor teeth, which agree with those of the rodents, and those who, like Schreber and De Blainville, regard the limbs as of more importance, and point out their resemblance to those of monkeys.

It is now generally conceded that Professor Owen’s researches have decided the question in favour of the latter view, for he shows that the only rodent features are the teeth, and similar ever-growing incisors are found in at least one other mammal, the marsupial wombat, which no one has thought of calling a rodent: on the contrary, the hair, the tail, the form of the head and body, the length of the intestines, the heart and blood-vessels, the brain, and the limbs[284] tend to separate the Aye Aye from the rodents, and to join it with the Cheiropoda; and although the extraordinary middle digit has no fellow in the whole animal kingdom, yet this modification of the terminal segment of a limb is another link between the Aye Aye and that lowest family of the Cheiropoda, the Lemuridæ, which, like it, are mostly natives of Madagascar, and, besides being nocturnal in their habits, whence the name Lemures (ghosts), are also distinguished from all other mammals and from each other by peculiar, and, at present, unaccountable modifications of the fingers and the toes. In one species the forefinger is as if amputated; in another a single toe bears a claw, while the others bear nails; and in a third, two toes are thus provided with claws.






“A wilderness of Monkeys.”
Merchant of Venice.

The late Mr. Broderip, in his Zoological Recreations, tells us that Mazurier, after a long and patient attendance upon the monkeys domiciled in the Jardin du Roi, sewed up in skins, and with a face painted and made up in a concatenation accordingly, raised at last the benevolence of a tender-hearted one to such a pitch, that it offered him a bit of the apple it was eating, and drew from him that rapturous exclamation, pregnant with the consciousness of his apparent identity with the monkey-character—“Enfin! enfin, je suis singe!”—(At length! at length, I have become a monkey.)

Poor Mazurier! when he died, Polichinelle was shipwrecked indeed! We can see him now gaily advancing, as if Prometheus had just touched the wood with his torch, in a brilliant cocked hat of gilt and silvered pasteboard, with rosettes to match, gallantly put on athwart ships; that very pasteboard, so dear to recollection as having glittered before our delighted eyes when old nurse unfolded the familiar little books of lang-syne—books which in these philosophical days are shorn of their beams; for Cock Robin, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and his Bean-stalk, The Children in the Wood, The Seven Champions, Valentine and Orson, with the other dearly-beloved legends of our childhood, when permitted to enter the nursery, are more soberly clad: their splendid and[288] many-coloured attractive coats have almost entirely disappeared.

Mazurier was the personification of that invincible Prince of Roués, Punch; but if the comic strength of this elastic, this indian-rubber man lays in Polichinelle, it was in The Ape of Brazil that his tragic power lay—and that power, absurd as the expression may seem to those who never beheld him, was great. There was but one blot in his inimitable performance. It was perfect as a piece of acting; but, alas! Mazurier had dressed the character without a tail. The melodrama was admirably got up; but there, to the great distress of zoologists, was the tailless quadrumane in the midst of Brazilian scenery, where no traveller—and travellers are proverbial for seeing strange things—has ever ventured to say that he saw a monkey without that dignifying appendage. How true is it that wisdom—such wisdom as it is—brings sorrow; all the rest of the world were in ecstasies; the zoologists shook their heads, and the scene ceased to affect them.

Be it remembered henceforth by the getters-up of monkey melodramas, that all the monkeys of the New World yet discovered rejoice in tails; the anthropoid apes of the Old World have none.

But tailed or tailless, this amusing order of mammiferous animals has always been, and ever will be, regarded by the million with feelings of mingled interest and disgust. Every one is irresistibly attracted by the appearance and tricks of a monkey—very few leave the scene without something like mortified pride at the caricature held up to them. The zoologist regards the family with an interest proportioned to their approximation to man; but he knows that their apparent similarity to the human form vanishes before anatomical investigation; and that, although there may be some points of resemblance, the distance between the two-handed and the four-handed types, notwithstanding all the ingenious arguments[289] of those philosophers who support the theory of a gradual development from a monad to a man, is great.

A modern zoologist has, not inaptly, applied the term Cheiropeds or hand-footed animals to this group; and, indeed, strictly speaking, they can hardly be called quadrumanous or four-handed. Their extremities, admirably fitted for grasping and climbing, as far as their arboreal habits require those actions, fall short—how very far short!—of that wonderful instrument which surrounds a being born one of the most helpless of all creatures, with necessaries, comforts, and luxuries, and enables him to embody his imaginings in works almost divine. We look in vain among the most perfectly-formed of the anthropoid apes for the well-developed opposable thumb of the human hand—that great boon, the ready agent of man’s will, by means of which he holds “dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowls of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”

The hands of the monkeys are at best but “half made up,” and they are generally more or less well fashioned in proportion to the greater or less prehensile development of the tail. The habits of the race, as we have already hinted, are arboreal, and their favourite haunts are the recesses of those tropical forests where they can either sport in the sunbeams on the topmost boughs, or shelter themselves from its scorching rays under the impervious canopy of a luxuriant vegetation. When their privacy is invaded by man, a restless and constantly recurring curiosity seems to be their prevailing feeling at first, and at last the intruders are frequently pelted with stones, sticks, and fruits heavy and hard, more especially if they make any demonstration of hostility.

Robert Lade thus speaks of their behaviour when he went to hunt some of them near the Cape:—

“I can neither describe all the arts practised by these animals, nor the nimbleness and impudence with which they[290] returned after being pursued by us. Sometimes they allowed us to approach so near them, that I was almost certain of seizing them; but when I made the attempt, they sprung, at a single leap, ten paces from me, and mounted trees with equal agility, from which they looked with great indifference, and seemed to derive pleasure from our astonishment. Some of them were so large, that if our interpreter had not assured us that they were neither ferocious nor dangerous, our number would not have appeared to be sufficient to protect us from their attacks. As it would serve no purpose to kill them, we did not use our guns” (we respect the good feeling of honest Robert and his companions); “but the captain happened to aim at a very large one which sat on the top of a tree, after having fatigued us a long time in pursuing him. This kind of menace, however, of which the animal perhaps recollected his having sometimes seen the consequences, terrified him to such a degree, that he fell down motionless at our feet, and we had no difficulty in seizing him. But whenever he recovered from his stupor it required all our dexterity and efforts to keep him. We tied his paws together; but he bit so furiously that we were under the necessity of covering his head with our handkerchiefs.”

Indeed, those who have only seen these agile creatures in menageries, or in a reclaimed state, can have no idea of the wild activity of the tribe in their native woods. Swinging and leaping from tree to tree, ever on the hunt for fruits and birds’ nests—they are most unconscionable plunderers of eggs—they lead a merry life, which is, however, often cut short by those mighty snakes that frequently lie in ambush near their careless, unsuspecting prey. These serpents are the greatest enemies of the monkeys, with the exception of the common persecutor—man. He, indeed, is sometimes touched by compunctious visitings, when it is too late.

“Seeing me,” says a South American traveller, speaking of a monkey, “nearly on the bank of the river in a canoe,[291] the creature made a halt from skipping after his companions, and, being perched on a branch that hung over the water, examined me with attention and the strongest marks of curiosity, no doubt taking me for a giant of his own species, while he chattered prodigiously, and kept dancing and shaking the bough on which he rested with incredible strength and agility. At this time I laid my piece to my shoulder, and brought him down from the tree into the stream; but may I never again be a witness to such a scene! The miserable animal was not dead, but mortally wounded. I seized him by the tail, and taking him in both my hands to end his torments, swung him round and hit his head against the side of the canoe; but the poor creature still continuing alive, and looking at me in the most affecting manner that can be conceived, I knew no other means of ending his murder than to hold him under the water till he was drowned, while my heart sickened on his account, for his dying little eyes still continued to follow me with seeming reproach, till their light gradually forsook them, and the wretched animal expired. I felt so much on this occasion that I could neither taste of him nor his companions when they were dressed, though I saw that they afforded to some others a delicious repast.”

The repentant writer and his party were driven to the commission of the act for want of fresh provisions; and many of the family are considered most excellent eating—by those who can get over the appearance of the animal and of its bones when cooked. There are not many, however, who can sit down to a dish of monkeys without feeling that it is rather a cannibalish proceeding.

It will be obvious, when the leafy home of this restless race is considered, that it is of the utmost consequence that the infant monkey should be protected as much as possible from a fall. Accordingly, the prevailing instinct of a young one is, in sailor’s language, to hold on. It clings to its mother with the greatest tenacity; and, to enable it to do this, considerable[292] strength is thrown into the extremities, the anterior limbs especially.

Le Vaillant, in his introduction to his first voyage, gives the following curious instance of the exhibition of this instinct under extraordinary circumstances. When living in Dutch Guiana, at Paramaribo, where he was born, and where he had already, though very young, formed a collection of insects, the future traveller and his party in one of their excursions had killed a female monkey.

“As she carried on her back a young one, which had not been wounded, we took them both along with us; and when we returned to the plantation, my ape had not quitted the shoulders of its mother. It clung so closely to them, that I was obliged to have the assistance of a negro to disengage them; but scarcely was it separated from her, when, like a bird, it darted upon a wooden block that stood near, covered with my father’s peruke, which it embraced with its four paws, nor could it be compelled to quit its position. Deceived by its instinct, it still imagined itself to be on the back of its mother, and under her protection. As it seemed perfectly at ease on the peruke, I resolved to suffer it to remain, and to feed it there with goat’s milk. It continued in its error for three weeks, but after that period, emancipating itself from its own authority, it quitted the fostering peruke, and by its amusing tricks became the friend and favourite of the whole family.”

Though it is difficult to repress a smile at the idea of a monkey clinging to a full-bottom on a wig-block and fancying it its mamma, the story, as it begins mournfully with the slaughter of the poor mother, ends tragically for her unhappy offspring: it died a terrible death—the result, indeed, of its own mischievous voracity, but in agonies frightful to think of:—

“I had, however,” continues Le Vaillant, “without suspecting it, introduced the wolf among my flocks. One morning,[293] on entering my chamber, the door of which I had been so imprudent as to leave open, I beheld my unworthy pupil making a hearty breakfast on my noble collection. In the first transports of my passion I resolved to strangle it in my arms; but rage and fury soon gave place to pity, when I perceived that its voraciousness had exposed it to the most cruel punishment. In eating the beetles it had swallowed some of the pins on which they were fixed, and though it made a thousand efforts to throw them up, all its exertions were in vain. The torture which it suffered made me forget the devastation it had occasioned; I thought only of affording it relief; but neither my tears, nor all the art of my father’s slaves, whom I called from all quarters with loud cries, were able to preserve its life.”

To return to the instinct exemplified in the first part of this melancholy tale: we remember to have seen a female monkey and her young one in the cage of a menagerie—and a small cage too. In this case the instinct—and it was a good example of the wide difference between that quality and reason—both on the part of the mother and her offspring, was just as strong as it could have been in their native forests. The young one clung as tightly, and the mother showed as much anxiety lest it should be dashed to pieces by a fall whilst she was sitting at the bottom of her cage, which rested on the ground, as if she had been swinging with the breeze upon the tree top.

The docility and apparent intelligence which are so strongly marked in the Chimpanzee and Orang, and which have given rise to such exaggerated ideas of their intellect, have been always observed in youthful animals; while untamable ferocity and brutality—in short, the very reverse of the amiable and interesting qualities which have been so much dwelt on—have been uniformly the concomitants of age. The old anthropoid apes have “foreheads villanous low.”[294] Accordingly, though there may be exceptions to the general rule—and that there are we shall show—the stories told of our friends, whether by ancients or moderns, are hardly ever in their favour. There may be a certain degree of cunning, and even of accomplishment, in the monkey of whom the tale is told; but, in nine cases out of ten, the laugh is either at his expense, or he is only saved from ridicule by some horrible catastrophe. From the earliest ages down to the time of that wan-chancy creature Major Weir, Sir Robert Redgauntlet’s great ill-favoured jackanape, the whole tribe have been regarded as unlucky, meddling beings; the Major came to an untimely end, as every one knows, and where he went, or, at least, was expected, after the breath was out of his body, is pretty plain.

Either, like Ælian’s ape, the mimic, in its zeal for imitation, makes the trifling mistake of plunging a child into boiling water instead of cold, or it is taken by the hunter’s stratagem of washing his face in its presence, and then leaving, by way of a lotion for the poor animal that has been watching his motions, some of the best bird-lime, with which it belutes its eyes till they are sealed up; or a parcel of shell-snails are placed round it, in the midst of which it sits like a fool, not daring to stir for fear.

The same Ælian, indeed, and others, tell us of the ape that was a most skilful charioteer; of the adroitness of another in escaping from cats, when hunted by them on trees in Egypt, by running to the extremity of a bough too slender to bear the cats, and so, taking advantage of its bending, reaching the ground in safety, leaving the cats plantés là, clutching and clinging on as they best might to save themselves from the shock of the recoil; of that renowned and all-accomplished animal, to come to more modern times, the Prægrandem simiam, which Paræus saw in ædibus Ducis Somei, and which so excelled in many arts, that it was named Magister Factotum, but not till after the poor beast’s hands had been cut off to keep it out of mischief—to say nothing of[295] the celebrated coup, dear to diplomatists, of the cat’s paw. Some of our readers, by the way, may not know that this scene which Edwin Landseer has so admirably represented—painted, we would have said, but painting it may not be called, for the coals are live coals, and the yelling cat is held by the imperturbable monkey to a fire that makes one hot to look at it—that this event, so familiar to every schoolboy, is recorded as having actually taken place in the hall of Pope Julius the Second.

But what are these to the clouds of unfortunate adventurers? An ape may generally be considered to be well off if he only loses an eye, like the cheiroped king’s son in the Arabian story, by magical fire.

It is but fair to add a legend evidently intended to convey an impression of the sapience of our friends; not that we are going to enter into the controversy as to whether the Prince of Darkness chose the similitude of an ape as the most appropriate for the temptation of our common mother Eve; we leave that to the initiated: our tale is much more humble in its pretensions.

In “A New History of Ethiopia, being a full and accurate description of the kingdom of Abessinia, vulgarly, though erroneously, called the Empire of Prester John, by the learned Job Ludolphus, author of the Ethiopic Lexicon Made English by I. P. Gent.” (folio, 1862), there is a grand engraving of apes with this superscription:—

“1. Scrambling about the mountains.

“2. Removeing great huge stones to come at the wormes.

“3. Sitting upon ant-hills and devouring the little creatures.

“4. Throwing sand or dust in the eyes of wild beast that come to sett upon them.”

The whole being illustrative of the following edifying piece of information:—

“Of apes there are infinite flocks up and down in the[296] mountains themselves, a thousand and more together: there they leave no stone unturned. If they meet with one that two or three cannot lift, they call for more, and all for the sake of the wormes that lye under; a sort of dyet which they relish exceedingly. They are very greedy after emmets. So that having found an emmet-hill, they presently surround it, and laying their fore-paws with the hollow downward upon the ant-heap, as fast as the emmets creep into their trecherous palmes they lick ’em off with great comfort to their stomachs: and there they will lye till there is not an emmet left. They are also pernicious to fruit and apples, and will destroy whole fields and gardens, unless they be carefully looked after. For they are very cunning, and will never venture in till the return of their spies, which they send always before; who giving information that all things are safe, in they rush with their whole body, and make a quick dispatch. Therefore they go very quiet and silent to their prey; and if their young ones chance to make a noise they chastise them with their fists, but if they find the coast clear, then every one hath a different noise to express his joy. Nor could there be any way to hinder them from further multiplying, but that they fall sometimes into the ruder hands of the wild beasts, which they have no way to avoid, but by a timely flight or creeping into the clefts of the rocks. If they find no safety in flight, they make a virtue of necessity, stand their ground, and filling their paws full of dust or sand, fling it full in the eyes of their assailant, and then to their heels again.”

Most learned and veracious Job!

A collection of stories, printed by John Rastell considerably more than a century before the date of the work last quoted, and not long ago discovered by the lamented Rev. I. I. Conybeare, next attracts our notice. It is no other than The Hundred Merry Tales, the opprobrium of Benedick, or as it is imprinted “A. C. Mery Talys.” This curious and important addition to the stock of Shaksperiana had, as it is stated[297] in the advertisement of the private reprint (Chiswick, 1815), been converted into the pasteboard which formed the covers of an old book. As far as the pleasantry is concerned generally, we do not wonder at Benedick’s wincing under Beatrice’s imputation that he got his wit out of it.

But though there is much matter of fact in the book, there are also many queer tales, some of which have passed for new—“Old Simon,” for instance. One of them, the forty sixth tale, is instructive, inasmuch as it shows what Chief Justices were in those days.

The story is headed “Of the Welcheman that delyuered the letter to the ape.”

The first lines are wanting, but there is enough to make it appear that a master sends his Welsh retainer with a letter to the Chief Justice, in order to obtain favour for a criminal who had been in the writer’s service, with directions to the said Welshman to return with an answer. The tale then proceeds thus:—

“This Welcheman came to the Chefe Justyce place, and at the gate saw an ape syttynge there in a cote made for hym, as they use to apparell apes for disporte. This Welcheman dyd of his cappe and made curtsye to the ape, and sayd—‘My mayster recommendeth him to my lorde youre father, and sendeth him here a letter.’ This ape toke this letter and opened it, and lokyd thereon, and after lokyd vpon the man, makynge many mockes and moyes as the propertyes of apes is to do. This Welcheman, because he understood him nat, came agayne to his mayster accordynge to his commandes, and told hym he delyuered the letter unto my lorde chefe iustice sonne, who was at the gate in a furred cote. Anone his moyster asked him what answere he broughte? The man sayd he gaue him an answere, but it was other Frenche or Laten, for he understode him nat. ‘But, syr,’ quod he, ‘ye need nat to fere, for I saw in his countenance so much that I warrante you he wyll do your errande to my lorde his[298] father.’ This gentylman in truste thereof made not anye further suite. For lacke whereof his seruant that had done the felonye within a monthe after was rayned at the kynge’s benche, and caste, and afterwarde hanged.”

And what does the reader think the moral is? Some reflection, perhaps, upon the impunity of those attached to the great, with a hint at God’s judgment against unjust judges? No such thing:—“By this ye may see that every wyse man ought to take hede that he sende nat a folyssche seruante vpon a hasty message that is a matter of nede.” Not a bad specimen of the morality of the good old times.

Those who would amuse themselves with more monkeyana of ancient date, will find some choice passages in Erasmus, Porta, and others; and may learn how a monkey may occasionally supersede the use of a comb—what a horror monkeys have of tortoises and snails—how violent is the antipathy between the cock and the ape—and how both of these were added to the serpent and introduced into the deadly sack wherein the matricide was inclosed to suffer the frightful punishment awarded to his unnatural act. But we beg to offer the following trifle, showing how a monkey can behave at a dinner-table:—

In a country town, no matter where, there lived the worthiest and most philosophical of old bachelors, with a warm heart and a sound head, from whose well-powdered exterior dangled that most respectable ornament a queue. Long did this august appendage, now no longer seen, linger among the Benchers of the inns of court. Two worthies we have yet in our eye—Ultimi Caudatorum! with what veneration do we look up to ye! with what fear and trembling did we regard the progress of the influenza!—the destroying angel has passed by, and the tails still depend from your “frosty pows,” blessings on ’em!

Pardon the digression; and return we to our bachelor, who entertained a monkey of such good breeding and so much[299] discretion, that Jacko was permitted to make one at the dinner-table, where he was seated in a high child’s chair next to his master, and took off his glass of perry and water in the same time and measure with his patron, and in as good a style as Dominie Sampson himself could have performed the feat. Now, his master’s housekeeper made the best preserved apricots in the county, and when the said apricots were enshrined in a tart, the golden fruit set off by the superincumbent trellis, a more tempting piece of pâtisserie could hardly be laid before man or monkey. One of these tarts enriched the board at a small dinner-party, and was placed nearly opposite to Jacko, who occupied his usual station. The host helped one and another to some of this exquisite tart, but he forgot poor Jacko, who had been devouring it with his eyes, and was too well-bred to make any indecorous snatch at the attraction, as most monkeys would have done. At last Jacko could stand it no longer, so looking to the right and left, and finally fixing his eyes on the guests opposite, he quietly lifted up his hand behind his master’s back, and gave his tail such a tug as made the powder fly, withdrew his hand in an instant, and sat with a vacant expression of the greatest innocence. People don’t like to have their tails pulled. His master gave him a look, and Jacko gave him another, but even the eloquent expression of Hogarth’s monkey on the offending bear’s back fell short of it. It said as plainly as look could speak—“Don’t be angry—don’t thrash me—they did not see it—I beg your pardon, but I must have a bit of that apricot tart:”—he was forgiven and helped.

Authors generally seem to think that the monkey race are not capable of retaining lasting impressions; but their memory is remarkably tenacious when striking events call it into action.

One that in his zeal for imitation had swallowed the entire contents of a pill-box—the cathartics, fortunately, were not Morisonian—suffered so much, that ever afterwards the production[300] of such a box sent him to his hiding-place in a twinkling.

Another that was permitted to run free had frequently seen the men-servants in the great country kitchen, with its huge fireplace, take down a powder-horn that stood on the chimney-piece, and throw a few grains into the fire, to make Jemima and the rest of the maids jump and scream, which they always did on such occasions very prettily. Pug watched his opportunity, and when all was still, and he had the kitchen entirely to himself, he clambered up, got possession of the well-filled powder-horn, perched himself very gingerly on one of the horizontal wheels placed for the support of saucepans, right over the waning ashes of an almost extinct wood-fire, screwed off the top of the horn, and reversed it over the grate.

The explosion sent him half-way up the chimney. Before he was blown up he was a smug, trim, well-conditioned monkey as you would wish to see on a summer’s day: he came down a carbonadoed nigger in miniature, in an avalanche of burning soot. The à plomb with which he pitched upon the hot ashes in the midst of the general flare-up aroused him to a sense of his condition. He was missing for days. Hunger at last drove him forth, and he sneaked into the house close-singed, begrimed, and looking scared and devilish. He recovered with care, but, like some other great personages, he never got over his sudden elevation and fall, but became a sadder if not a wiser monkey. If ever pug forgot himself and was troublesome, you had only to take down a powder-horn in his presence, and he was off to his hole like a shot, screaming and clattering his jaws like a pair of castanets.

Le Vaillant, in his African travels, was accompanied by an ape, which lived on very good terms with the cocks and hens, showing, in defiance of the legend, no antipathy to the former, and a strong penchant for the latter, for whose cacklings he listened, and whose eggs he stole. But this and other peccadillos were amply atoned for by the bonhommie and[301] other good qualities of Kees, for that was the name of the traveller’s ape, which seems to have almost realised the virtues of Philip Quarl’s monkey.

“An animal,” says Le Vaillant in his first voyage, just after speaking of the benefits that he derived from his gallant chanticleer, “that rendered me more essential services; which, by its useful presence, suspended and even dissipated certain bitter and disagreeable reflections that occurred to my mind, which by its simple and striking instinct seemed to anticipate my efforts, and which comforted me in my languor—was an ape, of that kind so common at the Cape, under the name of Bawians. As it was extremely familiar, and attached itself to me in a particular manner, I made it my taster. When we found any fruit or roots unknown to my Hottentots, we never touched them until my dear Kees had first tasted them: if it refused them we judged them to be either disagreeable or dangerous, and threw them away.

“An ape has one peculiarity which distinguishes it from all other animals, and brings it very near to man. It has received from nature an equal share of greediness and curiosity: though destitute of appetite, it tastes without necessity every kind of food that is offered to it; and always lays its paw upon everything it finds within its reach.

“There was another quality in Kees which I valued still more. He was my best guardian; and whether by night or by day he instantly awoke on the least sign of danger. By his cries, and other expressions of fear, we were always informed of the approach of an enemy before my dogs could discover it: they were so accustomed to his voice that they slept in perfect security, and never went the rounds; on which account I was extremely angry, fearing that I should no longer find that indispensable assistance which I had a right to expect, if any disorder or fatal accident should deprive me of my faithful guardian. However, when he had once[302] given the alarm, they all stopped to watch the signal; and on the least motion of his eyes, or shaking of his head, I have seen them all rush forward, and scamper away in the quarter to which they observed his looks directed.

“I often carried him along with me in my hunting excursions, during which he would amuse himself in climbing up trees, in order to search for gum, of which he was remarkably fond. Sometimes he discovered honey in the crevices of rocks, or in hollow trees; but when he found nothing, when fatigue and exercise had whetted his appetite, and when he began to be seriously oppressed by hunger, a scene took place which to me appeared extremely comic. When he could not find gum and honey he searched for roots, and ate them with much relish; especially one of a particular species, which, unfortunately for me, I found excellent and very refreshing, and which I greatly wished to partake of. But Kees was very cunning: when he found any of this root, if I was not near him to claim my part, he made great haste to devour it, having his eyes all the while directed towards me. By the distance I had to go before I could approach him, be judged of the time he had to eat it alone; and I, indeed, arrived too late. Sometimes, however, when he was deceived in his calculation, and when I came upon him sooner than he expected, he instantly endeavoured to conceal the morsels from me; but by means of a blow well applied I compelled him to restore the theft; and in my turn becoming master of the envied prey, he was obliged to receive laws from the stronger party. Kees entertained no hatred or rancour; and I easily made him comprehend how detestable that base selfishness was of which he had set me an example.”

This is all very fine, but we confess that we think poor Kees hardly used in this matter; nor are we aware of any law, written or unwritten, human or Simian, by which the conversion of the root, which he had sagaciously found, to his own use could be made a theft, or by which the prize could[303] be ravished from him, except, indeed, by the “good old law” that “sufficeth” people in such cases—

“the simple plan,
That they should take who have the power,
And they should keep who can.”

But to return to Le Vaillant’s entertaining narrative.

“To tear up these roots, Kees pursued a very ingenious method, which afforded me much amusement. He laid hold of the tuft of leaves with his teeth; and pressing his fore paws firmly against the earth, and drawing his head backwards, the root generally followed: when this method, which required considerable force, did not succeed, he seized the tuft as before, as close to the earth as he could; then throwing his heels over his head, the root always yielded to the jerk which he gave it. In our marches, when he found himself tired, he got upon the back of one of my dogs, which had the complaisance to carry him for whole hours together: one only, which was larger and stronger than the rest, ought to have served him for this purpose; but the cunning animal well knew how to avoid this drudgery. The moment he perceived Kees on his shoulders he remained motionless, and suffered the caravan to pass on, without ever stirring from the spot. The timorous Kees still persisted; but as soon as he began to lose sight of us he was obliged to dismount, and he and the dog ran with all their might to overtake us. For fear of being surprised, the dog dexterously suffered him to get before him, and watched him with great attention. In short, he had acquired an ascendency over my whole pack, for which he was perhaps indebted to the superiority of his instinct; for among animals, as among men, address often gets the better of strength. While at his meals Kees could not endure guests; if any of the dogs approached too near to him at that time, he gave them a hearty blow, which these poltroons never returned, but scampered away as fast as they could.


“It appeared to me extremely singular, and I could not account for it, that, next to the serpent, the animal which he most dreaded was one of his own species: whether it was that he was sensible that his being tamed had deprived him of great part of his faculties, and that fear had got possession of his senses, or that he was jealous and dreaded a rivalry in my friendship. It would have been very easy for me to catch wild ones and tame them; but I never thought of it. I had given Kees a place in my heart which no other after him could occupy; and I sufficiently testified how far he might depend on my constancy. Sometimes he heard others of the same species making a noise in the mountains; and, notwithstanding his terror, he thought proper, I know not for what reason, to reply to them. When they heard his voice they approached: but as soon as he perceived any of them he fled with horrible cries; and, running between our legs, implored the protection of everybody, while his limbs quivered through fear. We found it no easy matter to calm him; but he gradually resumed, after some time, his natural tranquillity. He was very much addicted to thieving, a fault common to almost all domestic animals; but in Kees it became a talent, the ingenious efforts of which I admired. Notwithstanding all the correction bestowed upon him by my people, who took the matter seriously, he was never amended. He knew perfectly well how to untie the ropes of a basket, to take provisions from it, and, above all, milk, of which he was remarkably fond: more than once he has made me go without any. I often beat him pretty severely myself; but, when he escaped from me, he did not appear at my tent till towards night.”

“Milk in baskets!” why, truly, the term “basket” as applied to a vessel for holding milk appears to require some explanation; but it was really carried in baskets woven by the Gonaquas, of reeds, so delicate and so close in texture that they might be employed in carrying water or any liquid.[305] The abstraction of the milk, &c., we consider as a kind of set-off against the appropriation of Kees’s favourite root by his master.

The pertinacious way in which Kees bestrode Le Vaillant’s dogs will recall to the remembrance of some a monkey that was, and perhaps still is, riding about London, in hat and feather, with garments to match, upon a great dog, with the usual accompaniments of hand-organ and Pan’s pipe. Upon these occasions the monkey evidently felt proud of his commanding position; but ever and anon we have seen him suffer from one of those sad reverses of fortune to which the greatest amongst us are subject. In the midst of the performance, while the organ and pipe are playing, and the monkey has it all his own way, and, elevated with the grandeur that surrounds him, is looking rather aristocratically at the admiring crowd, some good-natured but unlucky boy throws the dog a bit of cake, in his zeal to pick up which the latter lowers his head and shoulders so suddenly as infallibly to pitch his rider over his head. We have thought more than once that there was a sly look about the dog as he regarded the unseated monkey, utterly confounded by his downfall and the accompanying shouts of laughter from the bystanders.

We have already stated that the South American monkeys are all blessed with tails, but they are deprived of those brilliant blue and red callosities which give so much splendour to the integuments of many of the Old World family, and recall sometimes a part of the costume of a certain unearthly pedestrian; for his femoral habiliments

“were blue,
And there was a hole where the tail came through.”

Neither do they rejoice in cheek pouches: they are, consequently, unable to keep anything in the corner of their jaws, or to furnish forth any rebuke to the Rosencrantzes and[306] Guildensterns of the several courts in this best of all possible worlds.

When Humboldt and Bonpland landed at Cumana they saw the first troops of Araguatos, Mycetes Ursinus (it is nearly three feet in length, without including the tail), as they journeyed to the mountains of Cocallor and the celebrated cavern of Guacharo. The forests that surrounded the convent of Caripe, which is highly elevated, and where the centigrade thermometer fell to 70° during the night, abounded with them, and their mournful howling was heard, particularly in open weather or before rain or storms, at the distance of half a league. Upwards of forty of this gregarious species were counted upon one tree on the banks of the Apure; and Humboldt declares his conviction that, in a square league of these wildernesses, more than two thousand may be found. Melancholy is the expression of the creature’s eye, listless is its gait, and dismal is its voice. The young ones never play in captivity like the Sagoins; no, “The Araguato de los Cumanenses,” as the worthy Lopez de Gomara voucheth, “hath the face of a man, the beard of a goat, and a staid behaviour,” such, in short, as may well beseem the possessor of such a “powerful organ,” as the newspaper critics have it.

We will endeavour, with Humboldt’s assistance, to convey to the reader some idea of the structure of this sonorous instrument. That most observing traveller states that the bony case of the os hyoïdes, or bone of the tongue, in the Mona Colorado is, in size, equal to four cubic inches (water measurement). The larynx, or windpipe, consisting of six pouches, ten lines in length and from three to five in depth, is slightly attached by muscular fibres. The pouches are like those of the little whistling monkeys, squirrels, and some birds. Above these pouches are two others, the lips or borders of which are of a yellowish cast; these are the pyramidal sacs which are formed by membranous partitions and enter into the bony case. Into these sacs, which are[307] from three to four inches in length and terminate in a point, the air is driven; the fifth pouch is in the aperture of the arytenoïd cartilage, and is situated between the pyramidal sacs, of the same form but shorter; and the sixth pouch is formed by the bony drum itself: within this drum the voice acquires the doleful tone above alluded to.

The Quata, or, as the French write the word, Coaita (Ateles paniscus), is said to unite activity with intelligence, gentleness, prudence, and penetration. To be sure the Quatas will, when they meet with a learned traveller, or any other strange animal, descend to the lower branches of their trees, to examine the phenomenon, and, when they have satisfied their curiosity, pelt the phenomenon aforesaid to get rid of him or it; but that they be sensible and trustworthy is proved by Acosta, who has immortalised the Quata belonging to the Governor of Carthagena. This domestic was regularly sent to the tavern for wine. They who sent him put an empty pot into one hand, and the money into the other; whereupon he went spidering along to the tavern, where they could by no means get his money from him till they had filled his pot with wine. As this Ganymede of the Governor came back with his charge, certain idle children would occasionally meet him in the street and cast stones at him; whereupon he would set down his pot and cast stones at them, “till he had assured his way, then would he return to carry home his pot. And what is more, although he was a good bibber of wine, yet would he never touch it till leave was given him.” We are sorry to add that this amiable genus is considered very good eating. Humboldt frequently saw the broiled limbs of the Marimonda in the huts of the natives on the Orinoco; and, at Emeralda, he found in an Indian hut a collation of their roasted and dried bodies, prepared as the pièces de résistance for a “harvest home.”

Of the Cebi, the Horned Sapajou (Cebus Albifrons), with the hair of its forehead standing up so as to give the animal[308] the appearance of having a London waterman’s cap on, is one of the largest, while the Ouavapavi des cataractes, which is very mild and intelligent, is of small size. We remember once to have heard of a sort of compact which was said to have been entered into between a monkey and a pig, the latter of which carried the monkey a certain number of times round an orchard, in consideration of the monkey’s climbing the apple-trees, and giving them a shake for the benefit of the porker. Though not very old at the time, we gave the narrator credit for being blessed with a very lively imagination, albeit the story was told gravely and vouched as a fact. But Humboldt actually saw, at Maypures, one of these domesticated Ouavapavis obtaining his rides apparently without any such understanding; for this clever monkey used to bide his time, and every morning caught a luckless pig, which he compelled to perform the part of his horse. Seated on pigback did he majestically ride about, the whole day, clinging to his bristly steed as firmly as ever the Old Man of the Sea clung to Sinbad, not even giving poor piggy a respite at meal times, but continually bestriding him all the time he was feeding in the savanna that surrounded the Indian huts. A missionary had another of these riders; but the missionary’s monkey had laid the strong hand of possession on a comfortable cat which had been brought up with him, carried him well, and bore all his felestrian exploits with patience and good-humour.

The tail, which has become less and less prehensile in the genera last noticed, becomes in Callithrix no longer capable of use as a support. The pretty playful little Siamiri, whose length hardly exceeds ten inches exclusive of the tail, which reaches thirteen or fourteen, winds that appendage like a boa round its body and limbs, reminding the zoologist in some degree of the mode in which the white-fronted Lemur disposes of his; and we now begin to observe, moreover, traces of insectivorous and carnivorous appetite. The Macavacahow,[309] at the sight of a bird, is roused at once from its apparent apathy; darting on its victim like a cat, it secures the prize, and swallows it in an instant, with all the actions that mark the beast of prey.

In the Dourocouli, the Cara rayada of the missionaries, we observe traces of the cat in appearance, voice, and manners. This curious animal is nine inches in length; and its tail, which is hairy, but not prehensile, is about fourteen; the head is large and round; the muzzle short; the eyes very large; but there is no apparent external ear. Three dark stripes are drawn on the head, and come down in front, the centre stripe on the forehead and the two lateral ones reaching to the rounded corners of the eyebrows.

The animal is, during the day, “a huge sleeper,” whence its name “Mono Dormillon.” Humboldt, notwithstanding the warning of the natives, that the Dourocoulis will tear out the eyes of slumbering men, kept one in his bedroom. It slept regularly from nine in the morning till seven at night; and sometimes it went to sleep at daybreak. It hated the light, and, when disturbed, the lethargic animal could scarcely raise its heavy white eyelids; and its large eyes, which, at nightfall, were lighted up like those of an owl, were lustreless. It must have been but a restless companion for the night: then it was all exertion and activity, made wild noises, and was constantly jumping up against the walls. It lived for five months, but all attempts to tame it were fruitless.

The Dourocoulis are captured during the day by the natives, when they are fast asleep in some hollow tree. The male and female are often taken in the same hole, for they live in pairs. In a state of nature they pursue small birds and insects, not neglecting vegetables, almost every kind of which they will eat. Humboldt’s specimen was very fond of flies, which it caught dexterously, and would even sometimes rouse itself for this chase on a gloomy day. Its night-cry resembled that of the Jaguar, and it is thence called Titi-tigre.[310] The mewing notes which it occasionally sends forth remind the hearer of a cat, and this resemblance is heightened when the head of a Douroucouli in a state of irritation swells, and the animal hisses or spits, throws itself into the position of a cat when attacked by a dog, and strikes quick and cat-like with its paw. Its voice is very powerful for its size. In the Leoncito, whose body does not exceed seven or eight inches in length, we have much of the appearance of a tiny lion.

But it is in the genus Pithecia that we have the nearest approach to human likeness. There are some strong resemblances in the Couxio; but, as Humboldt well observes, of all the monkeys of America, the Capuchin of the Orinoco bears the greatest similitude in its features to man. There are the eyes with their mingled expression of melancholy and fierceness; there is the long thick beard; and, as this last conceals the chin, the facial angle appears much less than it really is. Strong, active, fierce, the Capuchin is tamed with the greatest difficulty, and, when angered, he raises himself on his hinder extremities, grinds his teeth in his wrath, and leaps around his antagonist with threatening gestures. If any malicious person wishes to see this Homunculus in a most devouring rage, let him wet the Capuchin’s beard, and he will find that such an act is the unforgivable sin. There is one point, indeed, wherein our monkey differs from civilised man—he very seldom drinks; but, when he does, the similarity returns. Unlike the other American monkeys, which bring their lips to the liquid, the Capuchin lifts the water in the hollow of his hand, inclines his head upon his shoulder, and, carrying the draught to his mouth in the cup of Diogenes, drains it with great deliberation. This appears to be his mode of drinking in a state of nature; and Humboldt thinks that it is adopted to prevent the wetting of the beard which renders the animal furious, and which could not be avoided if the lips were applied in the usual Simian mode. Our friend the Capuchin is about two feet nine, bushy tail and all, of a[311] brownish red colour, the hair of the body being long, and that on the forehead having a direction forwards. The beard, which arises below the ears, is brown, inclining to black, and covers the upper part of the breast. His large sunken eyes are overarched with well-marked brows, and his nails are bent, with the exception of those on his thumbs. He is not gregarious, and is seldom found in company with his female.

We must not omit to notice another of these Pitheciæ with black face and hands and a shorter tail, having a good deal of the general aspect in miniature of one of those respectable, ancient, withered negroes, who, after a long life of slavery, find themselves, 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 Callathrix 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 Simiadæ 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 Monkey 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[312] 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.

The great French naturalist Cuvier had an opportunity of observing their domestic arrangements in a conjugal state. He had a pair who were blessed 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 meantime, 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 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.

Printed by Jas. Wade, Tavistock-street, Covent-garden.



Coloured Plates and Illustrations, price 5s. cloth, or cloth gilt, gilt edges, 6s.

The best set of Volumes for Prizes, Rewards, or Gifts to English Lads. They have all been prepared by Mr. Beeton with a view to their fitness in manly tone and handsome appearance for presents for Youth, amongst whom they enjoy an unrivalled degree of popularity, which never flags.

1. STORIES OF THE WARS. Tillotson. From the Rise of the Dutch Republic to the Death of Oliver Cromwell.





6. CURIOSITIES OF SAVAGE LIFE. By the Author of “Wild Sports of the World.”


8. DON QUIXOTE. Cervantes. 300 Illustrations.


10. ROBINSON CRUSOE. Daniel Defoe.


12. SAVAGE HABITS AND CUSTOMS. By the Author of “Wild Sports of the World.”

13. REUBEN DAVIDGER. J. Greenwood.





18. THE WORLD’S EXPLORERS. Including Livingstone’s Discoveries and Stanley’s Search.


Fancy wrapper, price 1s. each; cloth, gilt edges, 3s. 6d.; and cloth, plain, 2s. 6d.

Either to the young who are learning history, to the old who desire to gain lessons from experience, or to the more feminine minds who delight in stories of entrancing interest, full of charming details of the purest love and affection, and evidencing patriotic devotion only ending with life itself, to all good hearts and refined intelligences, the exquisite Volumes of MM. Erckmann-Chatrian appeal in tones of wholesome and invigorating effect.





5. THE STORY of a PEASANT. (Part 1.)

6. THE STORY of a PEASANT. (Part 2.)








“It is needless to enlarge on the talent, the skill, the power, the simplicity, and the genuine naturalness that distinguish the works of the authors.... Every one who has read the books—and he or she who has not are much to be pitied—is familiar with these characteristics....”—Illustrated Times.

“The works of MM. Erckmann-Chatrian possess a wonderfully fascinating interest.... They take us, heart and soul, into the midst of the French people, and show us what they really are, and not what they are so often falsely represented as being.”—Press.

“MM. Erckmann-Chatrian’s tales are known throughout the world as some of the most fascinating narratives ever penned.”—Bookseller.

Price One Shilling Each.


The Cheapest and Best Reference Books in the World.

In an age of great competition and little leisure, the value of Time is tolerably well understood. Men wanting facts, like to get at them with as little expenditure as possible of money or minutes. Beeton’s National Reference Books have been conceived and carried out in the belief that a set of cheap and handy volumes in Biography, Geography, History (Sacred and Profane), Science, and Business, would be thoroughly welcome, because they would quickly answer many a question. In every case the type will be found clear and plain.

Each Volume complete in itself, and containing from 512 to 590 Columns. Price 1s. in wrapper; cloth, 1s. 6d.; half bound, 2s.

Beeton’s British Gazetteer: A Topographical and Historical Guide to the United Kingdom. Compiled from the Latest and Best Authorities. It gives the most Recent Improvements in Cities and Towns; states all the Railway Stations in the Three Kingdoms, the nearest Post Towns and Money Order Offices.

Beeton’s British Biography: From the Earliest Times to the Accession of George III.

Beeton’s Modern Men and Women: A British Biography from the Accession of George III. to the Present Time.

Beeton’s Bible Dictionary. A Cyclopædia of the Geography, Biography, Narratives, and Truths of Scripture.

Beeton’s Classical Dictionary. A Cyclopædia of Greek and Roman Biography, Geography, Mythology, and Antiquities.

Beeton’s Medical Dictionary. A Safe Guide for every Family, defining with perfect plainness the Symptoms and Treatment of all Ailments, Illnesses, and Diseases. 592 columns.

Beeton’s Date Book. A British Chronology from the Earliest Records to the Present Day.

Beeton’s Dictionary of Commerce. A Book of Reference, containing an account of Natural Productions and Manufactures dealt with in the Commercial World. Explanations of the principal terms and modes of Transacting Business, at Home and Abroad.

Beeton’s Modern European Celebrities.

Beeton’s Ready Reckoner. A Business and Family Arithmetic. With all kinds of New Tables, and a variety of carefully digested Information never before collected. Cloth, 1s.

Beeton’s Guide Book to the Stock Exchange and Money Market. With Hints to Investors and the Chances of Speculators.

Beeton’s Investing Money with Safety and Profit.

This cheap and useful series of Books are rapidly gaining great popularity. The Gazetteer, Bible, Medical and Classical Dictionaries, are especially praised and recommended by both the press and the public.


Wrappers, 1s. each.; nicely bound for Presents, 1s. 6d. and 2s.

The design of this New Series is to include no books except such as are peculiarly adapted by their high tone, pure taste, and thorough principle, to be read by those persons, young and old, who look upon books as upon their friends—only worthy to be received into the Family Circle for their good qualities and excellent characters. So many volumes now issue from the press low in tone and lax in morality that it is especially incumbent on all who would avoid the taint of such hurtful matter to select carefully the books they would themselves read or introduce to their households. In view of this design, no author whose name is not a guarantee of the real worth and purity of his or her work, or whose book has not been subjected to a rigid examination, will be admitted into “The Lily Series.”

1. A Summer in Leslie Goldthwaite’s Life. By the Author of “Faith Gartney’s Girlhood,” “The Gayworthys,” &c.

2. The Gayworthys, a Story of Threads and Thrums. By the Author of “Faith Gartney’s Girlhood.”

3. Faith Gartney’s Girlhood. By the Author of “The Gayworthys.”

4. The Gates Ajar; or, Our Loved Ones in Heaven. By Elizabeth Stuart Phelps.

5. Little Women. By the Author of “Good Wives,” “Something to Do,” &c.

6. Good Wives. By the Author of “Little Women,” &c.

7. Alone. By Marion Harland, Author of “The Hidden Path,” &c.

8. I’ve Been Thinking. By the Author of “Looking Round,” &c.

9. Ida May. By Mary Langdon.

10. The Lamplighter. By Miss Cumming.

11. Stepping Heavenward. By the Author of “Aunt Jane’s Hero.”

12. Gypsy Breynton. By the Author of “The Gates Ajar.”

13. Aunt Jane’s Hero. By the Author of “Stepping Heavenward.”

14. The Wide, Wide World. By Miss Wetherell.

15. Queechy. By the Author of “The Wide, Wide World.”

16. Looking Round. By the Author of “I’ve Been Thinking.”

17. Fabrics. A Story of To-Day.

18. Our Village: Tales. By Miss Mitford.

19. The Winter Fire. By Rose Porter.

20. The Flower of the Family. By the Author of “Stepping Heavenward.”

21. Mercy Gliddon’s Work. By the Author of “The Gates Ajar.”

22. Patience Strong’s Outings. By the Author of “The Gayworthys,” &c.

23. Something to Do. By the Author of “Little Women,” &c.

24. Gertrude’s Trial; or, Light out of Darkness. By Mary Jefferis.

25. The Hidden Path. By the Author of “Alone.”

26. Uncle Tom’s Cabin. By Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe.

27. Fireside and Camp Stories. By the Author of “Little Women,” “Good Wives,” &c.

28. The Shady Side. By a Pastor’s Wife.

29. The Sunny Side; or, the Country Minister’s Life.

30. What Katy Did. By Susan Coolidge.



Wrapper, 1s.; Cloth, Plain Edges, 1s. 6d.; Gilt Edges, 2s.

The Christian World says:—“Messrs. Ward, Lock, and Tyler are doing good service by supplying in their ‘Lily Series’ such first-class works of fiction at so cheap a rate.”

“We cordially recommend the whole series.”—Christian Age.

“... There is a pure healthy tone pervading all the literature embraced in this series. The stories can safely be entrusted to the youngest.”—Leeds Mercury.

“... The merits of the other features of the series are too well known to need any recommendation. We may only say that the issue is an extremely cheap one, the volumes being charged at one shilling. The wrapper bears a picturesque design, and the paper and print are faultless.”—Lloyd’s Weekly Newspaper.

“... Among recent publications in a cheap form, these works may be warmly welcomed....”—Lincoln Mercury.

“... The volumes are simply marvels of cheapness.”—Oxford University Herald.

“... Great praise is due to the enterprising publishers for bringing out so charming a series at so low a price.”—Staffordshire Sentinel.

“We welcome this cheap issue of popular tales with great satisfaction.... We trust the spirited publishers will be encouraged by the success of the early issues to continue the series for many months to come.”—Northern Ensign.

“... We may confidently state in regard to this series, that apart from the good taste displayed by the publishers in their selection of popular literature, these volumes are got up in a superior and more expensive style than the ordinary class of novels.”—Gateshead Observer.

“... The novels we have indicated are among the best and most popular.”—The Welshman.

“This series, each volume of which is published at one shilling, is issued in the most attractive form, is solidly bound and well printed, and will provide a choice library for the youth of all who speak the English language.”—Lloyd’s Weekly Newspaper.

“Messrs. Ward, Lock, and Tyler are to be congratulated on the successful manner in which they are carrying out their design in the publication of the ‘Lily Series.’”—Oxford Times.

“... Great credit is due to Messrs. Ward and Co. for thus putting within the reach of the humblest some of the best light literature of the age.”—Oxford University Herald.

For List of Volumes in the “Lily Series” see opposite page.

New Books and New Editions

The Leading Lady’s Magazine.


Price ONE SHILLING, Monthly.


A Coloured Fashion Plate. By Jules David. Occasionally Two Coloured Plates.

A Coloured Pattern for Berlin or other Needlework.

The Englishwoman’s Conversazione.

A Pattern Sheet of Mantles, Jackets, Robe Bodies, Skirts, or other Article of Dress, Fashionable and Useful.

Upwards of Fifty Designs in Needlework, and Fashions in Dress.

Tales, Articles, Essays, Letters from Paris, &c., &c.

Subscription—Yearly, 14s.; Half-yearly, 7s.; Quarterly, 3s. 6d.

The Cheapest Lady’s Magazine.

Price SEVENPENCE, Monthly.

An Illustrated Lady’s Magazine.

Containing, Monthly,

Tales of an Interesting Nature.

Poems and Songs.

Sketches and Articles.

Stories of Domestic Feeling.

Articles of Value.

Recipes in Cookery and Housekeeping.

Fashions Direct from Paris.

Needlework Patterns from Berlin, Brussels, and Paris.

Full-sized Patterns of Fashionable Dresses, Jackets, Mantles, &c.

New Books, Pieces of Music, What to Buy, and Where to Shop.

Our Drawing-Room, &c., &c.

Subscription—Yearly, 8s.; Half-yearly, 4s.; Quarterly, 2s.

New and Enlarged Edition, just ready, price 7s. 6d.,


Consisting of Designs by English, German, and French Artists; engraved in London, Berlin, Paris, and Brussels. Every stitch described and illustrated with the utmost accuracy, and the quantity of material requisite for each pattern stated. Elegantly bound in cloth, gilt edges, illuminated title and frontispiece.

Two Hundred and Seventeenth Thousand.

New Edition, post 8vo, half-bound, with entirely new coloured plates, price 7s. 6d.; half-calf, 10s. 6d.,


Comprising every kind of Practical Information on Domestic Economy and Modern Cookery, with numerous Woodcuts and Coloured Illustrations, showing the Modern Mode of Serving Dishes.

Uniform with “Household Management,” half-bound, 7s. 6d.; half-calf, 10s. 6d.

BEETON’S BOOK OF HOME PETS. Showing how to Rear and Manage in Sickness and in Health—Birds, Poultry, Pigeons, Rabbits, Guinea-Pigs, Dogs, Cats, Squirrels, Tortoises, Fancy Mice, Bees, Silkworms, Ponies, Donkeys, Goats, Inhabitants of the Aquarium, &c. &c. Illustrated by upwards of 200 Engravings, and 11 beautifully Coloured Plates by Harrison Weir and F. Keyl.

Just Ready, cloth gilt and gilt edges, price 5s.

HOUSEHOLD AMUSEMENTS AND ENJOYMENTS. Comprising Acting-Charades, Burlesques, Conundrums, Enigmas, Rebuses, and a number of New Puzzles in endless variety. With folding Coloured Frontispiece.

Uniform with “Beeton’s Book of Birds,” cloth elegant, gilt edges, price 3s. 6d.

BEETON’S BOOK OF POULTRY AND DOMESTIC ANIMALS. Showing How to Rear and Manage in Sickness and in Health—Pigeons, Poultry, Ducks, Turkeys, Geese, Rabbits, Dogs, Cats, Squirrels, Fancy Mice, Tortoises, Bees, Silkworms, Ponies, Donkeys, Inhabitants of the Aquarium, &c. &c.

⁂ This Volume contains upwards of One Hundred Engravings, and Five Coloured Plates from Water-Colour Drawings by Harrison Weir.

BOOK OF BIRDS. Showing How to Rear and Manage in Sickness and in Health. Cloth elegant, gilt edges, 3s. 6d. With Engravings and Coloured Plates after Harrison Weir.

Just published, New and Revised Edition, crown 8vo, cloth, price 7s. 6d.

A MILLION OF FACTS of Correct Data and Elementary Information in the Entire Circle of the Sciences, and on all Subjects of Speculation and Practice. Much Enlarged, and Carefully Revised and Improved, and brought down to the Present Year. A large amount of new matter added.

⁂ With an Elaborate Index to the Volume.

Just Published, price 7s. 6d., half-bound.

TREASURY OF NATURAL SCIENCE. From the German of Professor Schoedler, with numerous additions by Henry Medlock, F.C.S Fourth Edition, with Copious Index, and upwards of 500 Engravings.

One Thousand Illustrations, price, 10s. 6d., half-bound.

THE SELF-AID CYCLOPÆDIA FOR SELF-TAUGHT STUDENTS. Comprising General Drawing; Architectural, Mechanical, and Engineering Drawing; Ornamental Drawing and Design; Mechanics and Mechanism; the Steam-Engine. By Robert Scott Burn, F.S.A.E., &c., Author of “Lessons of My Farm,” &c. 690 pages, demy 8vo.


Just Ready.

Nursery Songs and Ballads. Uniform with “Harry’s Ladder.” 8 Coloured Cuts, and numerous Plain Illustrations. Cloth extra. 5s.

Nursery Tales and Stories. Uniform with “Songs for the Little Ones.” 8 Coloured Cuts and numerous Plain Illustrations. Cloth extra. 5s.

The Book of Brave Old Ballads. With 16 Coloured Illustrations. Cloth gilt, extra. 5s.

The Child’s Popular Fairy Tales. 16 Coloured Illustrations. Cloth gilt, extra. 6s.

Good Old Stories. 8 Coloured Illustrations. Cloth gilt, extra. 3s. 6d.

Harry’s Ladder to Learning. With 16 Coloured Plates. Cloth gilt, extra. 5s.

Old Nursery Tales and Famous Histories. 8 Coloured Illustrations. Cloth gilt, extra. 3s. 6d.

Songs for the Little Ones at Home. 16 Coloured Illustrations. Cloth gilt, extra. 5s.

The Boy’s Handy Book of Natural History. With numerous Illustrations by William Harvey and others, and 16 Coloured Illustrations. Post 8vo, extra cloth, full gilt side, back, and edges. 5s.

The Boy’s Own Sea Stories: Being the Adventures of a Sailor in the Navy, the Merchant Service, and on a Whaling Cruise. Narrated by Himself. Thick post 8vo. Numerous Illustrations. Extra cloth gilt, and gilt edges. 5s.




Edited by S. O. BEETON.

1,104 pages 8vo, with Forty Page Engravings, printed on toned paper, and upwards of One Hundred and Twenty Wood Engravings in the Text, price 5s.; extra gilt and gilt edges, 6s.

1. Beeton’s Fact, Fiction, History, and Adventure.

2. Beeton’s Historical Romances, Daring Deeds, and Animal Stories.

3. Beeton’s Brave Tales, Bold Ballads, and Travels by Sea and Land.

4. Beeton’s Tales of Chivalry, School Stories, Mechanics at Home, and Exploits of the Army and Navy. A Book for Boys.

5. Beeton’s Hero Soldiers, Sailors, and Travellers in Kafirland, Gymnastics, Telegraphy, Fire-Arms, &c.

London: WARD, LOCK, & TYLER, Warwick House, Paternoster-row, E.C.