Monkeys by L. B. U.
BEFORE the advent of man, and with him civilization,
monkeys were spread over a much larger portion of
the earth than at present. They lived in the south of
Europe, in England, and in France. Except a few
of the Paviane, those of the present time are found
only in warm climates, and are very sensitive to cold.
Monkeys belong to the liveliest and most active of
the mammalia. As everything eatable is acceptable to
them, there is always something to catch, to dig, to
gather—insects, fruits, roots, nuts, succulent herbs,
buds, leaves, eggs, &c.
Many stories are told about the orang-outang, or
pongo, an inhabitant of the islands of Borneo and
Sumatra. It is the largest of the apes, being, in some
cases, seven feet high.
Vosmarin, a Hollander, kept a tamed pongo for a
long time. He says, “My pongo had rather a sad
and downcast look, but was gentle and affectionate,
and very fond of society, preferring those persons who
busied themselves about it. Once it seized a bottle of
Malaga, uncorked it, brought the wine to a secure
place, recorked the bottle, and set it back again. This
monkey was very fond of roasted and boiled meats,
and sucked eggs with great delight; however it preferred
fruits to all other food. After drinking,
it was in the habit of wiping its
mouth with the back of the hand, as men
sometimes do, and it generally used a
toothpick. It made great preparations
before going to sleep, shaking the hay for
its bed, and making a bundle for a pillow;
it covered itself with any cloth or
garment it could find.
“Seeing me unlock a door, it observed
very attentively, then put a piece of wood
in the keyhole, and tried to turn it round.
Having been scratched by a cat with
which it was playing, it could never be
induced to touch pussy again. It untied
knots easily, and regularly practised upon
the shoes of those who came near. It
could lift very heavy burdens, and made
as good use of its hind as of its fore legs;
for example, if it could not reach a thing
with the fore hands, it lay on its back,
and drew the object with the hind ones.
It never cried except when left alone. At
first the crying resembled the howling of
a dog, then it became rougher, and at last
resembled the noise of a wood-saw. It
died of consumption.”
Jeffries tells of an orang-outang which
was very neat; it frequently washed the
floor with a cloth, after carrying away
all remnants of food. It also washed
its face and hands like a man. This animal
was very affectionate towards all
who spoke kindly, and often kissed its
owner and waiter.
The chimpanzee is more like man, in
shape, than any other animal. It is from
four to five feet high; is found in the
west part of Africa. Its strength is astonishing;
one chimpanzee can break off
branches of trees which two men cannot
bend. It is kind and amiable, and very
teachable. Captain Grantpret speaks of
a chimpanzee, which he had on board
ship, as follows: “It worked with the
sailors, casting anchor, reefing sails, &c.,
and doing its full share of work faithfully.
The ship’s baker depended upon it to
heat the oven, which it did with wonderful
care and exactness, never letting the
coals fall, and ever getting the right heat.
It made a peculiar motion to show that
the oven was ready, and the baker, fully
confiding in its judgment, was not disappointed.
The sailors were very fond of it,
and treated it as a companion; but the
pilot, a cruel, heartless man, abused the
animal, despite its pitiful looks and gestures,
as it placed its hand upon its heart,
and then stretched it towards him, to tell
the pain it felt. However, it did not resent
his continued ill-treatment, but
refused to take any nourishment; five days
after it died of hunger and a broken heart.
The sailors bemoaned its loss as that of a
We read of another chimpanzee, which
sat at table, ate with knife, fork, and
spoon, drank from a wine-glass, used a
napkin, put sugar into a cup, poured out
tea, stirred it with a spoon, and sipped
from the cup until cool enough to drink.
A sick monkey is truly a pitiable object;
it sits quiet and sad, and its look,
as it seems to beg for help, in its distress,
is almost human. The nearer it approaches
its end, the gentler and milder
it becomes; losing in its animal, it seems
to gain in its spiritual nature. It perceives
a benefactor in its attending physician,
and thankfully acknowledges his
kindness. If it has been relieved by
bleeding, it invariably stretches out its
arm at the doctor’s approach, as if desiring
to be bled again.