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.

A monkey holding some partially eaten fruit


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 companion.”

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.