Imatges de pÓgina
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it had swallowed several of the pins on which they were transfixed. Its agony consequently became great, and all his efforts were unable to preserve its life.

Baboons are fully more characteristic of Africa, as a generic group, than any other of the quadrumanous order. With the exception of the dogfaced baboon (Cynocephalus hamadryas), a native of the environs of Mocha, and other eastern shores of the Red Sea, we are not acquainted with any species of the genus which is not of African origin. They are, without doubt, notwithstanding their approximation in some respects to the human form, the most disgusting of the brute creation. Perhaps it is this very resemblance which excites our dislike. In spite of their occasionally brilliant colouring, and the length and beauty of their fur, there is an expression of moral deformity in their aspect which is exceedingly revolting, and they seem possessed of all the most odious and degrading propensities of the most God-forsaken of the human race. No other species exhibit so strong a concentration of the animal propensities. They are the most sensual of the brute creation.

The strength of some baboons is enormous. By muscular energy alone, and without the assistance of their huge tusks, they will tear the strongest dog to pieces in a few minutes. During one of Mr Burchell's hunting parties, two of his dogs were seized by baboons (Cercopithecus ursinus); one of them was killed on the spot by having his jugular artery bit through, and the other was severely disabled, and a part of his ribs laid bare. Fortunately, with all their fierceness, their propensities

are not carnivorous, otherwise the most dreaded of the feline race would prove less formidable foes. In a state of nature they feed principally on roots and fruits, although the eggs and young of birds probably also form a part of their sustenance.

As in the present summary we are guided rather by zoological than geographical principles, with a view chiefly to avoid the repeated mention of the same animal, a necessity from which we could scarcely escape were we to trace successively the natural history of each African district, instead of that of the species or genera themselves in systematic progression, we shall proceed to the next group in our scientific arrangements, that of the LEMURS.

This singular tribe of animals inhabits the great island of Madagascar, and the not distant island of Anjouan, one of the group of the Comora Archipelago, countries usually regarded as belonging to the African division of our globe. In common with apes and monkeys, they are quadrumanous animals, that is, possessed of the power of prehension both with their fore and hind feet. They differ, however, among other characters, in having a rather long and pointed nail, instead of a flattened one, on the first finger of the hind foot..

The ring-tailed lemur (L. catta, Linn.) is the most beautiful of the genus. Its motions are characterized by a great degree of elegant lightness: its manners are mild, and its nature very harmless. Its size is equal to that of a large cat, and its wool is extremely soft and fine. The tail is about twice the length of the whole body, and is marked by numerous rings of alternate white and black. In

the wild state it is gregarious, travelling in small troops of thirty or forty. When taken young, it is easily tamed. It delights in sunshine; and in a state of domestication prefers the fireside to most other places. Its general attitude resembles that of a squirrel; and it feeds on fruits. In captivity it becomes more omnivorous, and shows no distaste to animal food. The voice of the ruffed lemur is remarkable for its extraordinary strength, which strikes with fear and astonishment those who hear it for the first time. It may be likened to that of the Beelzebub or howling monkey, which fills the woods of Guiana with its dreadful cries. The power of voice in both cases no doubt proceeds from a peculiar structure of the larynx.

Allied to the lemurs, and till lately generically classed with these animals, is the indri, which, according to Sonnerat, the natives of Madagascar domesticate and train up as we do the dog to the sports of the field. It is a large animal, measuring about three feet and a half in length; its prevailing colour is blackish, with the visage and lower part of the abdomen gray, and the rump white. It is distinguished by having no tail. Its voice resembles the crying of an infant, and its manners, like those of its congeners, are mild and docile.

The last of the quadrumanous tribe peculiar to Africa, which we shall take occasion to mention, are the galagos. The Senegal galago is about the size of a common rat. They dwell on trees like monkeys and squirrels, are mild in their manners, and feed on insects, which they catch in their fore paws, and devour with great avidity. The great galago inhabits the eastern coast of Africa, and a species occurs in the island of Madagascar.

We now approach the more carnivorous tribes ; and, passing over the genus Galeopithecus, the distribution of which is confined to Asia and its islands, we enter upon the Vespertiliones, or great family of the bats, now divided into many genera. Of these the greater proportion belong to South America and the East Indies; so that our notice of the African species may be short, without being really much curtailed. Several species occur along the western shores; but the most remarkable is the great bat of Madagascar, described by Edwards, and regarded by some as synonymous with the vampyre. A vampyre is in many respects an imaginary monster, whose chief amusement consists in sucking the blood of sleeping persons. The name is connected with a superstition absurd in itself, though sufficiently fearful to such as believed in it, which prevailed in Poland and Hungary about the year 1732. According to this wild belief, certain individuals were supposed to rise from the grave and suck their friends and relations to death. Lord Byron has alluded to the phantasy in the following well-known lines:

"But first, on earth as vampyre sent,
Thy corse shall from its tomb be rent:
Then ghastly haunt thy native place,
And suck the blood of all thy race;
There from thy daughter, sister, wife,
At midnight drain the stream of life;
Yet loathe the banquet which perforce
Must feed thy livid living corse:
Thy victims ere they yet expire
Shall know the demon for their sire,
As cursing thee, thou cursing them,
Thy flowers are withered on the stem.
But one that for thy crime must fall,
The youngest, most beloved of all,
Shall bless thee with a father's name-
That word shall wrap thy heart in flame!

Yet must thou end thy task, and mark
Her cheek's last tinge, her eye's last spark,
And the last glassy glance must view
Which freezes o'er its lifeless blue;
Then with unhallowed hand shalt tear
The tresses of her yellow hair,

Of which in life a lock when shorn
Affection's fondest pledge was worn;
But now is borne away by thee,
Memorial of thine agony !

Wet with thine own best blood shall drip
Thy gnashing tooth and haggard lip;
Then stalking to thy sullen grave,
Go and with Gouls and Afrits rave;
Till these in horror shrink away

From spectre more accursed than they!"

Some vague allegations of a somewhat similar nature (excepting the resurrectionary faculty) having been adduced against certain of the bat tribe, Linnæus named one of them Vespertilio vampyrus. The general colour of the body is deep reddish brown, brighter on the neck and shoulders. The teeth are large and sharp; the wings black, and measuring several feet in extent, and the tail is wanting. This apparently formidable animal was supposed to perform its deadly operations by inserting its sharppointed tongue into the vein of a sleeping person, and in so delicate and peculiar a manner as to occasion no pain. The sleep of the victim was not even disturbed, and the bat, by the fanning motion of its wings, produced a delicious coolness around, which rendered repose the deeper, till the sufferer awoke in eternity.

Whatever may be the case as regards the propensities of some of the South American species, of whose blood-sucking disposition Humboldt does not seem to doubt, it appears to be the opinion of natu

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