The Monkey Tribe by Francis C. Woodworth

A foreign gentleman of distinction having to attend the court of Louis XVI. of France, took with him his favorite monkey. Soon after his arrival, he was invited to attend a great ball at Versailles; and anxious to perform his part with credit in that fashionable country, he engaged one of the first dancing-masters in the city to teach him the latest mode. Every day he employed several hours in practicing his lessons with the tutor, so as to be au fait, as the French people have it—quite at home in the ball-room. Pug made his observations very attentively, watching all his motions. He also scrutinized the musician very closely, as he was engaged in instructing the gentleman, and playing on his violin. At the close of his lesson, the foreigner was in the habit of going to his mirror, and of practicing before it, by himself, for a considerable time, till he was in a measure satisfied with his performances, and pretty sure, we may suppose, that he would make a fine figure at court when the ball should come off. One day, after the gentleman had been exercising in this manner, and had just left the room, the monkey, who had been looking on with interest, as usual, left his post of observation, took up the violin, which had been left there by the musician, and commenced playing and imitating the dancing of his master, before the mirror. There is no knowing how much of a dancer he would have become, if he had been allowed to practice as much as he desired. As it was, however, his training for the ball was very suddenly terminated by the entrance of a servant into the room, while the student was in the midst of his performances.

A monkey tied to a stake was robbed by the crows, in the West Indies, of his food, and he conceived the following plan of punishing the thieves. He feigned death, and lay perfectly motionless on the ground near to his stake. The birds approached by degrees, and got near enough to steal his food, which he allowed them to do. This he repeated several times, till they became so bold as to come within the reach of his claws. He calculated his distance, and laid hold of one of them. Death was not his plan of punishment. He was more refined in his cruelty. He plucked every feather out of the bird, and then let him go and show himself to his companions. He made a man of him according to the ancient definition of a "biped without feathers."

An organ-grinder, with his monkey, being taken before the mayor of New Orleans, for exhibiting themselves without a license, the monkey was so polite to the mayor, took off his cap and made so many bows to his honor, that the two were permitted to depart in peace. It is said that no lawyer would have managed the case better than the monkey did.

A gentleman living in Bath, England, had a monkey who used to perform a great many very amusing tricks, in imitation of his master. The gentleman was a great politician, and was in the habit of reading his newspaper very punctually every morning, at the breakfast-table. One day, business having compelled him to leave the table earlier than usual, Pug was found, seated in his chair, with his master's spectacles on, and the Courier newspaper upside down, reading as gravely, and with as much apparent interest, as the politician. Once in a while he looked off his paper, and chattered, and made significant gestures, as his master was in the habit of doing, when he came across any thing very especially interesting.

A farmer in the West Indies had planted a field with Indian corn. Numerous monkeys inhabited a forest near by, who had attentively observed the planting process, and the method by which it was cultivated. They seemed to take not a little interest in the whole matter. The farmer had the pleasure of seeing his crop of corn nearly ready for harvesting. But the monkeys took care that he should not have the trouble of harvesting it. One night, they issued from the forest in vast numbers, forming themselves into long lines between it and the corn-field. All was conducted in silence. Each was intent on the business in hand. Those in front of the lines plucked off the ears of corn with great dexterity, and passed them to his nearest companion, who handed them forward from one to another, till they reached the woods. In this manner the work proceeded till daylight, when the slaves found the thieves finishing the operation. It had been a very profitable night's labor for the mischievous fellows. The corn was pretty nearly all disposed of. Before the owner of it could get his workmen together, with suitable weapons of defence, the whole troop had disappeared in the forest. What a chattering there must have been among them, when they all met at their rendezvous! How knowing they must have looked, as they said one to another, "Wasn't that thing managed pretty nicely?"

In Sierra Leone is a species of orang-outang so strong and so industrious, that, when properly trained and fed, they work like servants. They generally walk upright on their two hind feet. Sometimes they are employed to pound substances in a mortar, and they are frequently taught to go to rivers, and to bring water in small pitchers. They usually carry the water on their heads. When they come to the door of the house, if the pitchers are not soon taken off, they let them fall; and when they perceive that they are broken, the poor fellows sometimes weep like a child, in anticipation of the flogging they are to receive.

Buffon saw an orang-outang that performed a multitude of funny tricks. He would present his hand to lead his visitors about the room, and promenade as gravely as if he was one of the most important personages in the company. He would even sit down at table, unfold his napkin, wipe his lips like any other gentleman, use a spoon or fork in carrying food to his mouth, pour his liquor into a glass—for it seems he had not become a convert to the principles of total abstinence—and touch his glass to that of the person who drank with him. When invited to take tea, he brought a cup and saucer, placed them on the table, put in sugar, poured out the tea, and after allowing it to cool, drank it with the utmost propriety.

In Africa the orang-outang is a very formidable animal, and does not hesitate to attack men, when alone and without arms, in which cases he always proves himself the victor. He sleeps under trees, and builds himself a hut, which serves to protect him against the sun and the rains of the tropical climates. When the negroes make a fire in the woods, this animal comes near and warms himself by the blaze. However, he has not skill enough to keep the flame alive by feeding it with fuel. They even attack the elephant, which they beat with their clubs, and oblige to leave that part of the forest which they claim as their own. When one of these animals dies, the rest cover the body with a quantity of leaves and branches. They sometimes show mercy to the human species. A negro boy, it is said, that was taken by one of them and carried into the woods, continued there a whole year, without receiving any injury. It is said, indeed, that they often attempt to surprise the negroes as they go into the woods, and sometimes keep them against their will, for the pleasure of their company, feeding them very plentifully all the time. In respect to this latter statement, however, I confess myself a little skeptical. There have been a great many well-told stories about men of the woods, which have proved to be altogether fabulous, when the true state of the case has become known.

There were two monkeys, one of which was peculiarly mischievous, and the other pretty civil and good-natured, on board of the same ship. One day, when the sea ran very high, the former prevailed on the other to go aloft with him, when he drew her attention to an object at a distance, and when she turned to look at it, he hit her a blow with his paw, and threw her into the sea, where she was drowned. This act seemed to afford the rascal a great deal of gratification. He came down to the deck of the vessel, chattering at the top of his voice, he was so happy.

Le Vaillant, a French traveler in Africa, says of a tame baboon, which followed him in his rambles, "One day, a gentleman, wishing to put the fidelity of the animal to the test, pretended to strike me. At this the monkey flew into a violent rage, and from that time, he could never endure the sight of the man. If he only saw him at a distance, he began to cry and to make all sorts of grimaces, which evidently showed that he wished to revenge the insult that had been done to me. He ground his teeth, and endeavored, with all his might, to fly at his face."

Here is a story of a monkey who made a fool of himself, and of a British soldier at the same time. During the period of the siege of Gibraltar, when England and Spain were at war in 1779, the English fleet being at the time absent, an attack from the enemy was daily expected. One dark night, a sentinel, whose post was near a tower facing the Spanish lines, was standing, at the end of his walk, whistling, looking toward the enemy, his head filled with fire, and sword, and glory. By the side of his box stood a deep, narrow-necked earthen jar, in which was the remainder of his supper, consisting of boiled peas. A large monkey—of which there were plenty at Gibraltar—encouraged by the man's absence, and allured by the smell of the peas, ventured to the jar; and in endeavoring to get at its contents, thrust his head so far into the vessel that he was not able to get it out again. At this moment, the soldier approached. The monkey started, in alarm, with the jar on his head. This terrible monster frightened the poor soldier half out of his wits. He thought it was a bloodthirsty Spanish grenadier, with a most prodigious cap on his head. So he fired his musket, like any other valiant soldier, roaring out, as loud as he could, that the enemy had scaled the walls. The guards took the alarm; the drums were beaten; signal guns discharged, and in less than ten minutes the whole garrison were under arms. The supposed grenadier, being very uncomfortable in his cap, was soon overtaken and seized; and by his capture, the tranquillity of the garrison, as the reader might rationally conjecture, was speedily restored, without any of the bloodshed which the sagacious sentinel so much feared.

A clergyman in England, of some distinction, had a tame baboon, who was very fond of him, and whenever he could get a chance, followed him in the street. When he went to church, however, to perform the service, he preferred, of course, that his monkey should stay at home, and used to confine him accordingly. One Sabbath morning the animal escaped, and followed his master to the church; and silently mounting the sounding-board over the minister's head, he lay perfectly still till the sermon commenced. Then he crept to the edge, where he could see his master, and imitated his gestures in such a droll and amusing manner, that the entire congregation began to laugh. The minister, who did not see his favorite monkey, and who was surprised and confounded at this unaccountable levity, rebuked the audience, but to no effect. The people still laughed, and the preacher, in the warmth of his zeal, redoubled his earnestness and action. The consequence was that the ape became more animated too, and increased the number and violence of his gestures. The congregation could no longer restrain themselves, and burst into a long and loud roar of laughter.

Some of the ape-catchers of Africa have a very queer way of securing these animals. It is said that they take a vessel filled with water out into the woods with them, and wash their hands and faces in the water. The apes see this operation. Afterward, the natives throw out the water in which they washed, and supply its place by a solution of glue. Then they leave the spot, and the apes come down from the trees, and wash themselves, in the same manner as they have seen the men wash. The consequence is, that the poor fellows get their eyes glued together so fast that they cannot open them, and so being unable to see their way to escape, they fall into the hands of their enemies.