The Rhinoceros by Francis C. Woodworth

From the accounts of those who are best acquainted with the rhinoceros, it appears that the animal is tamed only with great difficulty, and never to such an extent that it is always safe to approach him. Sir Everard Home gives the following account of one in a menagerie in London: "He was so savage, that about a month after he came, he endeavored to kill the keeper, and nearly succeeded. He ran at him with the greatest fury; but, fortunately, the horn of the animal passed between the keeper's thighs, and threw him on the head of the rhinoceros. The horn struck a wooden partition, into which it was forced to such a depth, that the animal, for a minute, was unable to withdraw it; and during this interval, the man escaped. By discipline, the keeper afterward got the management of him; but frequently, more especially in the middle of the night, fits of phrensy came on, and while these lasted, nothing could control his rage. He ran, with great swiftness, round his den, playing all kinds of antics, making hideous noises, breaking every thing to pieces, and disturbing the whole neighborhood. While this fit was on, the keeper never dared to come near him."

When the rhinoceros is quietly pursuing his way through his favorite glades of mimosa bushes (which his hooked upper lip enables him readily to seize, and his powerful grinders to masticate), his horns, fixed loosely in his skin, make a clapping noise by striking one against the other; but on the approach of danger, if his quick ear or keen scent makes him aware of the vicinity of a hunter, the head is quickly raised, and the horns stand stiff, and ready for combat on his terrible front. The rhinoceros is often accompanied by a sentinel, to give him warning—a beautiful green-backed and blue-winged bird, about the size of a jay—which sits on one of his horns.

The following account of the perils of a party hunting for the rhinoceros is given by Mr. Bruce, a traveler of celebrity: "We were on horseback, at the dawn of the day, in search of the rhinoceros; and after having searched about an hour in the thickest part of the forest, one of these animals rushed out with great violence, and crossed the plain toward a thicket of canes, at the distance of nearly two miles. But though he ran, or rather trotted, with surprising speed, considering his bulk, he was in a short time pierced with thirty or forty javelins. This attack so confounded him, that he left his purpose of going to the thicket, and ran into a deep ravine, without outlet, breaking about a dozen of the javelins as he entered. Here we thought he was caught in a trap—for he had scarcely room to turn—and a servant, who had a gun, standing directly over him, fired at his head. The animal fell immediately, to all appearance dead. All those on foot now jumped into the ravine, to cut him up. But they had scarcely begun, when the animal recovered himself so far as to rise upon his knees; and he would undoubtedly have destroyed several of the men, had not one of them, with great presence of mind, cut the sinew of the animal's hind leg. To this precaution they were indebted, under God, for their lives."

The rhinoceros and the elephant have been known to engage in a pitched battle, in which case the former always comes off victor. The combat, however, is a very furious one.

There are two species of the rhinoceros. The one which is represented in the engraving is the double-horned rhinoceros. It is perhaps the largest of land animals, with the exception of the elephant. When pursued, notwithstanding its large, unwieldy body, it can run with astonishing swiftness.