Animal Biography

Animal Biography:
Mammals; Primates; Bats




English Index

Systematic Index



The Empire of Nature has, by the general assent of mankind, been divided into three essential kingdoms; the first consisting of minerals, the second of vegetables, and the third of animals.

The Mineral Kingdom, which consists of substances destitute of the organs necessary to life or motion, occupies in rude masses the interior parts of the earth. It is formed from the accidental aggregation of particles, which, under certain circumstances, take a constant and regular figure, but which are more frequently found without any definite conformation.—The Vegetable Kingdom clothes the surface of the earth with verdure. It consists of organized bodies, destitute of the power of locomotion, or changing place at will. These imbibe nutriment through their roots, respire air by their leaves, and continue their various kinds by means of seed dispersed within proper limits.—The Animal Kingdom adorns the external parts of the earth with sentient beings. These have voluntary motion, respire air, are impelled to action by the cravings of want, by love, and by pain. They keep within proper bounds, by preying on them, the numbers both of animals and vegetables.


The latter of these kingdoms was subdivided by Linnæus into six classes, viz. Mammiferous Animals, which he called Mammalia, Birds, Amphibious Animals, Fishes, Insects, and Worms.

The class of animals denominated Mammalia comprehends all those that nourish their young by means of lactiferous glands or teats, and that have, flowing in their veins, a warm and red blood. It includes the whales, an order that, from external shape and habits of life, has uſually been arranged among the fishes. It is true that these animals inhabit exclusively the water, an element in which none of the quadrupeds can long subsist, and are furnished like the fish with fins, still, however, in every essential characteristic, they exhibit an alliance to the quadrupeds. They have warm blood, produce their young alive, and nourish them with milk furnished from teats. In their internal structure they are likewise in a great measure allied to the quadrupeds, having similar lungs, and two auricles, and two ventricles to the heart.

The bodies of nearly all the mammiferous animals, are covered with hair, a soft and warm clothing liable to little injury, and bestowed in quantity proportioned to the necessities of the animals, and the climates which they inhabit. In most of the aquatic quadrupeds this covering, from its too free absorption of moisture, is wanting.

The head in all the higher orders of animals, is the seat of the principal organs of sense, the mouth, the nose, the eyes, and the ears. It is through the mouth I.27 that they receive their nourishment. This contains the teeth, which in most of the Mammalia are used not only for the mastication of their food, but as weapons of offence. They are inserted into two moveable bones called the upper and under jaw. The front teeth whose office it is to cut, are wedge-shaped, and so placed that in action their sharp edges are brought into contact, and thus divide the aliment.—Next to these, on each side, are situated the canine-teeth or tusks. They are longer than the other teeth, conical and pointed, but the points do not directly meet on closing the mouth. Their use is to tear the food.—The teeth in the back of the jaw, between which the food is masticated, are called grinders. In animals that live on vegetables, these are flattened at the top, but in carnivorous animals their upper surfaces are furnished with sharp conically pointed protuberances. From the numbers, form, and disposition of the teeth, the various genera of quadrupeds have been arranged.

The nose is a cartilaginous body pierced with two holes called nostrils. In some animals this is prominent, in others flat, compressed, turned upwards, or bent downwards. In beasts of prey it is often either longer than the lips, or of equal length with them. In a few animals it is elongated into a moveable trunk or proboscis, and in one tribe, the Rhinoceros, it is armed with an horn.

The eyes of quadrupeds are for the most part defended by moveable eye-lids, whose outer margins are furnished with hairs, called eye-lashes. The opening of the pupil is in general circular, but in some animals, as Cats and Hares, it is contracted into a I.28 perpendicular line, and in Oxen, Horses, and a few others, it forms a transverse bar. The opening contracts during the day, that the very sensible retina may not be irritated by the rays of light; and is expanded in the dark to allow as many rays as possible to pass.

The ears are openings generally accompanied by a cartilage which defends and covers them, called the external ears. In aquatic animals the latter are wanting, the sounds in them being transmitted merely through holes, which have the name of auditory holes. The most defenceless animals are very delicate in their sense of hearing, as are likewise most of the beasts of prey. In wild animals the ears are erect and somewhat funnel shaped, capable of having their opening turned towards the quarter from whence the sounds proceed, but in those that are tame or domestic the ears are, for the most part, long and pendulous.

The head is joined to the body by the neck; and all those animals that often extend their arms or anterior feet forward, either to seize things, as the Monkies, or to fly, as the Bats, have, annexed to the upper part of the thorax, clavicles or collar bones. The clavicle of the Mole is particularly remarkable on account of its thickness, which exceeds its length. The collar-bones are wanting in those animals that use their anterior extremities for progressive motion only; and there are rudiments of them in such as hold a middle station betwixt these two different orders.

Most of the Mammiferous Animals walk on four I.29 feet, which are usually divided at the extremities into toes or fingers. The extremities, however, of some, as the Horse, end in a single corneous substance, called a hoof. The toes of a few of the quadrupeds end in broad flat nails, and of most of the others in pointed claws. Sometimes the toes are connected together by a membrane: this is the case in animals that spend part of their lives in the water. Sometimes, as in the Bats, the digitations of the anterior feet are greatly elongated, having their intervening space filled by a membrane which extends round the hinder legs and the tail, and by means of which they are enabled to rise into the air.—The action of walking in quadrupeds is deserving of particular notice. The animal first slightly bends the articulations of the hind legs, and then extends them in order to carry forward the body. The breast being thrown forward by this movement, the fore legs become inclined backward; and the animal would fall, did it not instantly throw them forward in order to support itself. It then draws up the trunk upon the fore legs fixed in this position, and the hind legs are again brought into action. But it must be observed, that these movements are not performed at the same moment, by the two legs of each pair in the action of walking; for in that case, the animal would necessarily be completely suspended for a moment over the ground; and its motion would then be no longer a walk, but a succession of leaps, particularly denominated a full gallop. Each step is executed by two legs only; one belonging to the fore pair, and the other to the hinder pair; but sometimes I.30 they are those of the same side, and sometimes those of the opposite sides. The latter is that kind of motion which in horses is called a pace. The right fore leg is advanced so as to sustain the body, which is thrown upon it by the extention of the left hind foot; and at the same time the latter bends in order to its being moved forward. While they are off the ground, the right hind foot begins to extend itself, and the moment they touch it the left fore foot moves forward to support the impulse of the right foot, which likewise moves forward. The body is thus supported alternately by two legs placed in a diagonal manner. When the right foot moves, in order to sustain the body, pushed forward by the right hind foot, the motion is then called an amble. The body being alternately supported by two legs of the same side, is obliged to balance itself to the right and left, in order to avoid falling; and it is this balancing movement which renders the gait of a horse so soft and agreeable to women and persons in a weak state of body as it is generally found.—In the animals that have their fore feet longer than the hinder ones, and have their strength chiefly in the anterior part of the body, the principal impulse is given by extending the fore foot. The hind foot then rises to follow it, and it is not until the moment that the latter extends itself in its turn, that the fore foot is raised. This is the manner in which the Giraffe is said to move. But when the fore legs are greatly disproportionate to the others, and particularly when the posterior extremities are feeble and not closely articulated, as in the Sloths, the animal is obliged to I.31 drag itself onward, by first extending the anterior legs, and then bending them so as to draw the body after them; the hind legs affording but very little assistance by their impulsion. It is this circumstance which renders the progression of the Sloths so laborious.—Those animals which have their fore legs very short in proportion to their hinder ones, would be incapable of sufficiently supporting their bodies, and must fall down forward on each impulse of the latter, had they not the precaution to make a prancing movement; that is, to raise the anterior extremities entirely off the ground, previously to their being impelled onward by means of the hind feet. Accordingly such animals cannot, in propriety of language, be said to walk; they only move forward by leaps. This is the case with the Hares, the Rats, and particularly with the Jerboas and Kanguroos. Indeed these animals cannot be said to walk at all, except in the action of ascending. When they attempt to walk slowly on level ground, they are obliged to move themselves by the fore feet, and merely to drag after them the hind pair. This may be observed in Rabbets.—When the hind feet are very much separated, their impulse becomes more lateral. It thence results that, at each step, the trunk is alternately impelled sideways, and that the line of motion becomes crooked. This may be remarked in the swimming animals, whose manner of life requires that there should be a considerable space between the hind legs; such as the Otters, and the Beavers.—Man, and a certain number of other animals are capable of seizing objects, by surrounding and I.32 grasping them with their fingers. For this purpose the fingers are separate, free, flexible, and of a certain length. Man has such fingers on his hands only; but Apes and some other kinds of animals have them both on their hands and feet.—Only Man, Apes, and Lemurs have the thumb separate, and capable of being opposed to the fingers, so as to form a kind of forceps. These are therefore the only animals that can hold moveable objects in a single hand.—The others, as Squirrels, Rats, Opossums, &c. that have the fingers sufficiently small and flexible to enable them to take up objects, are obliged to hold them in both hands.—Others, which have the toes shorter, and which besides are under the necessity of resting on the fore feet, as Dogs, and Cats, can only hold substances by fixing them upon the ground with their paws.—Lastly, those that have the toes united and drawn together under the skin, or enveloped in corneous hoofs, are incapable of exercising any prehensile power.

In order to lead the reader to some general idea of the internal structure of the bodies of animals I shall begin with the circulation. That warm and red fluid called the blood flows from the heart, its common reservoir, through the frame, by a series of vessels called arteries, and returns by another scries denominated veins. When this alternate motion ceases the consequence is immediate death.

The lungs of quadrupeds consist of two lobes, and are placed within the thorax or chest. Into these the atmospheric air is inspired from the mouth; and in I.33 them the vital air and the matter of heat, are separated, the former containing the only principle proper for the maintenance of life, and the latter being necessary towards keeping up the fluidity of the blood. The mephitic air, which remains after the separation, is immediately expired. This act of drawing in the atmospheric air, separating the vital air, and matter of heat, and ejecting the mephitic air, is termed respiration.

In digestion it is that the juices calculated to nourish and support the body become separated from the other less useful parts of the food. Reduced to a pulp by means of the teeth and saliva, this is thrown into a canal which, below the thorax, terminates in a large bag or reservoir, called the stomach. Here the aliment, penetrated and further dissolved by new juices, undergoes a triturition from the action of the stomach; and the nutritive juices, which, on their union, are denominated chyle, are now expressed. These are taken up by little vessels called lacteals, and become converted into new blood and flesh. The alimentary canal again contracts on leaving the stomach, and twisting into a great variety of folds, acquires the name of intestines. The residue of what is not converted into chyle traverses these numerous canals, and from them is expelled the body.

The bodies of all Mammiferous Animals are supported by a frame of bones, called a skeleton. To these bones are attached the muscles or flesh, assemblages of fibres held together by membranes, and terminating in a kind of cords called tendons. These muscles, when excited, produce motion in the different I.34 parts of the body; and it is their action which gives to all animals the power of changing their place, and performing the various movements necessary to their wants.

The sensation of animals arises from an irritation taking place on the ends of certain cords called nerves. These are either prolonged from the spinal marrow, or they are united in pairs in the brain.

According to the destination of Nature, the Mammiferous Animals are calculated, when full grown, to subsist upon food of various kinds; some to live wholly upon flesh, others upon grain, herbs, or fruits of different kinds; but in their infant state, milk is the food appropriated to the whole. And that this food may never fail to them, it is universally ordained, that the young is no sooner born than milk flows in abundance into the members provided in the mother for the secretion of that nutritious fluid. The infant animal searches for the teat almost as soon as it comes into life, and knows perfectly at the first how by suction to extract the fluid that preserves its existence.

In the general economy of Nature it is one great business of this class of animals to keep up a constant equilibrium in the number of animated beings of the world. To man they are immediately useful in various ways; they afford him their bodies for food, and their fleece to shelter him from cold. Some of them partake with him the dangers of combat with his enemies; and others pursue and obtain for him I.35 the animals necessary to his subsistence. Many indeed are injurious to him, but most of them, in some shape or other, prove their services and importance.—The number of Mammiferous Animals that have been examined and arranged is about nine hundred, but this must bear a very insignificant proportion to the multitudes that crowd the surface of the globe.

Notes and Corrections: Mammiferous Animals

the latter bends in order to its being moved forward
[Text unchanged. This passage doesn’t seem to occur in other editions—whether earlier or later—so there was nowhere to get a second opinion.]

the trunk is alternately impelled sideways,
text has side ways

the vital air and the matter of heat, are separated
[Oxygen was independently discovered in Sweden in 1772 and in England in 1774. (Carbon dioxide had been identified in 1750.) Either nobody told Bingley, or he assumed his readers wouldn’t understand. The reference to “mephitic air” suggests that perhaps he himself didn’t understand.]

and from them is expelled the body.
[Text unchanged]

The number of Mammiferous Animals that have been examined and arranged is about nine hundred
[Suprisingly, he current total is only about 5,000.]

engraving of “Orangutan”, no later than 1804

Shaw Zoology Vol. I plate 1:
Oran Otan: Allam. Buff. &c


The animals belonging to this tribe bear a very considerable resem­blance, both in external and internal structure, to the human race: and in their habits and instincts we remark a much nearer approach to us, than in those of any other division of animated nature. They are endowed with memories exceedingly retentive; they are also suspicious, agile, fond of imitation, and full of gesticulations and grimace; when injured or offended they adopt threatening gestures, and chatter with their teeth; but when any thing pleases them they seem to laugh. I.36 The dispositions of many of the species are so wild and unmanageable, that it is with difficulty they can be brought into a state of domestication. Others are indeed of a milder nature, and exhibit some degree of attachment to those who are kind to them, but nearly the whole tribe are indowed with mischievous propensities. They are also in general filthy, obscene, and thievish⁕2.

All the species, except one, (the Barbary Ape,) are confined to the climates of the Torrid Zone, where for the most part they live on vegetable food; and although our books on Natural History enumerate about sixty species, we are given to understand that these are but a small portion of the numbers that have even been seen about the forests of hot climates. Bosman says he saw an immense number of different kinds on the coast of Africa⁕3, and Condamine tells us, that it would occupy a volume to describe accurately only the specific characters of those to be found along the banks of the river Amazons. The forests of Africa, India, China, Japan, and South America swarm with them⁕4.

Several of this tribe have pouches in their cheeks, in which they macerate their food for some time before they chew and swallow it. They are fond of hunting after Fleas, both in their own fur, and in that of their companions. Few animals have a more delicate sense of feeling, or are agitated by more violent passions. Most of them are gregarious, associating in vast companies, and leaping with great I.37 agility among the branches of the trees; but the different species always keep apart, and in separate districts, never intermixing with each other⁕5.

This extensive genus is distinguished from all others, by the animals having in each jaw four front-teeth, placed near together; the canine-teeth longer than the rest, and distant from them; and the grinders obtuse.

The tribe is usually divided into three sections, namely, Apes, Baboons, and Monkies.

Apes are destitute of tails, they walk upright, their posteriors are fleshy, their legs are furnished with calves, and their hands and feet nearly resemble those of men. In their manners they are, for the most part, mild and gentle, and they imitate human actions more readily than any of the others.—Baboons have short tails; they generally walk on all fours, seldom going upright, except when constrained to it in a state of servitude. Some of them are as tall as Men, have long faces, sunk eyes, and are otherwise extremely disgusting. In their dispositions they are usually very sullen and ferocious.—Monkies have tails in general longer than their bodies. One division of these, consisting of about ten species, with prehensile tails, that is, such as can be twisted round any object, so as to answer the purpose of an additional hand to the animals, is almost entirely confined to America.—The Monkies are altogether the most active and lively of the whole tribe; they are greatly addicted to thieving, and scarcely I.38 ever imitate human actions but with a mischievous intention.—Neither the Lion, the Tiger, nor any of the feline race, are the most formidable enemies to the Monkies: their dominion in the forests is not disputed by any of these ferocious animals, from whom they easily escape by their nimbleness in running up the trees. The Serpent tribes alone, which reside with them in the trees, are endowed with the art of surprizing them during their repose; and perpetual war is sustained between these two races⁕6. Conscious, however, of their own activity and safety when awake, Labat says, he has seen in Africa “Monkies playing their gambols on the very branches where Snakes were reposing; and jumping over them backwards and forwards, although the Serpents of this country are naturally vindictive, and always ready to bite any thing that disturbs them⁕7.”

In many parts of India the animals of the Ape tribe are made objects of worship by the natives, and temples of the greatest magnificence are erected in honor of them⁕8. Their numbers are almost infinite. They frequently come in troops into the cities, and they enter the houses at all times with perfect freedom; in Calicut, however, the inhabitants keep them in a great measure out of their dwellings; but to effect this they are compelled to have all their windows latticed. In Amadabad, the capital of Guzarat, there are three hospitals for I.39 animals, where lame and sick Monkies and even those which (without being diseased) chuse to dwell there, are fed and cherished. Twice every week the Monkies of the neighbourhood assemble spontaneously in the streets of the city. They then mount upon the houses, each of which has a small terrace or a flat roof, where they lie during the great heats. On these two days the inhabitants always carefully deposit on the terraces rice, millet, or fruit; for whenever, by any accident, they are prevented from doing it, the disappointed animals become so furious, that they break the tiles, and commit various other outrages⁕9.—When the Portuguese plundered the island of Ceylon, they found in one of the temples dedicated to these animals, a small golden casket, containing the tooth of an Ape. This relic the natives held in such superstitious veneration, that they offered no less than 700,000 ducats to redeem it. The Viceroy, however, in order to discourage their superstition, directed it to be burnt⁕10. About three years afterwards, a fellow who accompanied the Portuguese Ambas­sador, having got a similar tooth, pretended that he had recovered the old one, which so rejoiced the Priest, that we are informed they purchased it for a sum of upwards of 10,000 pounds sterling⁕11.

⁕1 This tribe commences the first of the Linnæan orders of Quadrupeds, the Primates. These have four parallel front, or cutting teeth in each jaw; except in some species of Bats, which have either two only or none. They have one canine-tooth on each side in both jaws. The females have two pectoral mammæ or breasts. The two fore-feet resemble hands, having fingers, for the most part, furnished with flattened oval nails. Their food is chiefly vegetable. The principal animals of this order are Man, the Ape, and Lemur tribes, and the Bats.

⁕2 Kerr 1. 51.

⁕3 Bosman, 242.

⁕4 Buffon’s Quad.

⁕5 Kerr 1. 54.

⁕6 Buffon’s Quad. viii. 152.

⁕7 Relat. de l’Afriq. Occident. p. 317.

⁕8 Penn. Quad. i. 172.

⁕9 Buffon’s Quad.

⁕10 Linschotten, Voy. p. 33.

⁕11 Hamilton, 1. 347.

Notes and Corrections: The Ape Tribe

our books on Natural History enumerate about sixty species
[The current number of primates is somewhere between 200 and 250—to say nothing of the 900-odd species of bats, which Linnaeus classified with the primates.]

scarcely ever imitate human actions but with
text has scarcely, with superfluous comma

the very branches where Snakes were reposing
text has where reposing

in Calicut, however, the inhabitants
[Calicut, now spelled Kozhikode, is in modern Kerala. Nothing to do with Calcutta, now spelled Kolkota.]


engraving of “Orangutan” (really chimpanzee), no later than 1804

Shaw Zoology Vol. I plate 2:
Black Oran-Otan: from Tyson


The Oran Otan approaches in external appearance much more nearly to the human form than any others of the Ape tribe: and it has, from this circumstance, even sometimes obtained the appellation of “Man of the Woods.”

The specimens of the Oran Otan, which have been brought into Europe, have seldom exceeded three feet in height; but when full grown it is said that their height is at least six feet, and that their strength is then so great, that one of them is able with ease to overpower the most muscular Man. Their colour is generally a kind of dusky brown; their feet are bare, and their ears, hands, and feet, nearly resemble those of mankind; and indeed their whole appearance is such as to exhibit a most striking approximation to the human figure. They have, however, a flatter nose, more oblique forehead, and the chin without any elevation at the base. The eyes are likewise too near each other, and the distance betwixt the nose and mouth much too great.

When Dr. Tyson’s Oran Otan, which I shall soon have occasion further to notice, was examined anatomically, a surprizing similitude was also seen to prevail in its internal conformation. It differed, I.41 however, from Man in the number of ribs, having thirteen, whereas in Man there are but twelve. The vertebræ of the neck were also shorter, the bones of the pelvis narrower; the orbits of the eyes were deeper, the kidneys rounder, the urinary and gall bladders were longer and smaller, and the ureters of a different figure⁕1. Such were the principal distinctions between the internal parts of this animal and those of Man; in almost every thing else they were exactly the same, and discovered an astonishing congruity. Indeed many parts were so much alike in conformation that it might have excited wonder how they were productive of such few advantages. The tongue, and all the organs of the voice, were the same, and yet the animal was dumb; the brain was formed in the same manner with that of Man, and yet the creature wanted reason: an evident proof, as the Comte de Buffon finely observes, that no disposition of matter will give mind; and that the body, how nicely soever formed, is formed in vain, when there is not infused a soul to direct its operations.

engraving of “Orangutans” (probably gorillas), no later than 1804

Shaw Zoology Vol. I plate 3:
Oran Otan: Vosmaer

These animals are found in the most desert places in the interior of Africa, and the island of Borneo. They feed on fruits, and, when they happen to approach the shore, will eat shell-fish or crabs. Their resting places are in trees, where they are secured from the attacks of all predacious creatures except Serpents⁕2. We are assured by Andrew Battell, a Portuguese traveller, who resided in Angola near eighteen years, that these animals were I.42 very common in the woods of that country, where they sometimes attained a gigantic stature. Their bodies were covered, but not very thickly, with a dun coloured hair; and their legs were without calves. They always walked upright, and generally, when on the ground, carried their hands clasped on the hinder part of their neck. They slept in the trees, amongst which they built shelters from the rain. Their food was fruit and nuts, and in no instance were they known to be carnivorous. The inhabitants of the country, when they travel in the woods, make fires around the place where they sleep, to keep at a distance the various species of voracious animals; to these fires the Oran Otans would assemble in the mornings, sitting by them till the last of the embers were expired⁕3.—Among the woods on the banks of the river Gambia in Africa we are told that the Oran Otans collect in herds of three or four thousand, marching in a rank, the larger ones acting as leaders. In these troops they are excessively impudent and mischievous. Jobson, who gives the account, says, that whenever his party, in sailing along the river, passed their stations, they mounted the trees and gazed upon the men; sometimes they would shake the trees with their hands, which they did with vast force, at the same time chattering and making a loud noise. At night when the party were at anchor, the animals often took their stations on the rocks and heights above. When the men were on shore and met any of them, I.43 the great ones generally came forward and seemed to grin in their faces, but they always fled when an attack was made. One of them was killed from the boat with a gun, but before the boat could be got ashore the others had carried it off. Their habitations were found in some of the woods, composed of plants and the branches of trees, so thickly interwoven as to protect them from the heat of the Sun. The ground was beaten perfectly smooth, few plants growing in their paths or dwellings⁕4.—We are told by another writer, that during the breeding season the males relinquish these to the females and their young⁕5.—The Oran Otans are not lively and frolicsome, but in all their actions they are much more deliberate and sedate than the rest of their tribe. If a Negro is unfortunate enough to wander in the woods, and be discovered by them, they generally attack and kill him. They are able even to drive off the Elephant; with a piece of wood in their hands, or only with their fists, they will so teaze the huge beast, that in the end he is induced to retire⁕6. They have been known to throw stones at those who have offended them. Bosman informs us, that behind the English fort at Wimba on the coast of Guinea, several of these Apes fell upon two of the company’s slaves, overpowered them, and were about to poke out their eyes with some sticks, when a party of Negroes happened to come up at a fortunate moment to their rescue⁕7. It is said, that they I.44 sometimes steal the Negresses, and carry them off into the woods⁕8. A Negro boy was carried off by an Oran Otan, and lived with them upwards of a year; on his return he described many of them as being as tall and more bulky than a Man, and he declared that they did not attempt to injure him in any respect⁕9. The young are said to hang on the belly of the dam, with their hands fast clasped about her; and whenever the females are killed these will always suffer themselves to be taken⁕10.

Oran Otan in the Malayan language signifies Wild Man, or rather, a Being of intelligence.

Synonyms.—Simia Satyrus. Simia Troglodytes. Linn.—Orang-Ourang. Var.—Great Ape. Penn.—Man of the Woods. Edwards.—Drill. Charlton.—Smitten. Bosman.—Barris. Purchas.—Chimpanze. Scotin.—Pongo in some parts of the East Indies.—Jocko, in Congo. Buffon.——Shaw’s Gen. Zool. pl. 1, 2, 3, 4.

⁕1 Anatomy of a Pigmy.

⁕2 Penn. Quad. 1. 167.

⁕3 Purchas. ii. 982. Battel was in Angola in the year 1589.

⁕4 Jobson’s Voyage to the River Gambia. Purchas. ii. 1575.

⁕5 Matthews’s Voyage to Sierra Leona.

⁕6 Purchas. ii. 982.

⁕7 Bosman, 242.

⁕8 Penn. Quad. i. 167.

⁕9 Buff. Quad. viii. 83.

⁕10 Purchas. ii. 982.

engraving of Orangutan, no later than 1804

Shaw Zoology Vol. I plate 4:
Chesnut Oran Otan: from Edwards

This is all the information that I have been able to collect respecting the Oran Otan in its wild state: the following are accounts of it therefore in a state of captivity and domestication.

The manners of the Oran Otan, when in confinement, are gentle, and, for the most part, harmless, perfectly devoid of that disgusting ferocity so conspicuous in some of the larger Baboons and Monkies. It is a mild and docile animal, and may be taught to perform with dexterity a variety of entertaining actions in domestic life.

Dr. Tyson, who, about a century ago, gave a very exact description of a young Oran Otan then exhibited in London, assures us, that, in many of its actions, it seemed to display a very high degree of sagacity, and in its disposition was exceedingly mild. The most gentle creature, says he, that could be. Those that he knew on board the vessel that brought him over he would embrace with the greatest tenderness: and, although there were Monkies I.45 aboard, yet it was observed, he never would associate with any of them, and, as if nothing akin to them, would always avoid their company. He used sometimes to wear cloths, and at length became very fond of them. He often would put part of them on without help, and carry the remainder in his hands to some one of the ship’s company for his assistance. He would lie in bed, place his head on a pillow, and pull up the bed-cloths to keep himself warm, exactly as a man⁕1.

M. Vosmaer’s account of the manners of an Oran Otan, brought into Holland in the year 1776, and lodged in the menagerie of the Prince of Orange, is exceedingly curious.

“This animal,” says M. Vosmaer, “was a female: its height was about two Rhenish feet and a half. It shewed no symptoms of fierceness or malignity, and was even of a somewhat melancholy appearance. It was fond of being in company, and shewed a preference to those who took daily care of it, of which it seemed to be sensible. Often when they retired, it would throw itself on the ground, as if in despair, uttering lamentable cries, and tearing in pieces the linen within its reach. Its keeper, having sometimes been accustomed to sit near it on the ground, it frequently took the hay of its bed, and laid it by its side, and seemed by every demonstration, to invite him to be seated near. Its usual manner of walking was on all fours, like other I.46 Apes⁕2; but it could also walk erect. One morning it got unchained, and we beheld it with wonderful agility ascend the beams and rafters of the building; it was not without some pains that it was retaken, and we then remarked an extraordinary muscular power in the animal; the assistance of four men being necessary in order to hold it in such a manner as to be properly secured. During its state of liberty it had, amongst other things, taken the cork from a bottle of Malaga wine, which it drank to the last drop, and had set the bottle in its place again. It ate almost every thing that was given to it; but its chief food was bread, roots, and especially carrots; all sorts of fruits, especially strawberries: and it appeared extremely fond of aromatic plants, and of the leaves and root of parsley. It also ate meat, both boiled and roasted, as well as fish. It was not observed to hunt for insects, like other Monkies; was fond of eggs, which it broke with its teeth, and sucked completely; but fish and roasted meat seemed its favourite food. It had been taught to eat with a spoon and a fork. When presented with strawberries on a plate, it was extremely pleasant to see the animal take them up, one by one, with a fork, and put them into its mouth, holding, at the same time, the plate in the other hand. Its common drink was water, but it also I.47 very willingly drank all sorts of wine, and particularly Malaga. After drinking, it wiped its lips; and after eating, if presented with a tooth-pick, would use it in a proper manner. I was assured, (continues this writer,) that on ship-board it ran freely about the vessel, played with the sailors, and would go, like them, into the kitchen for its mess. At the approach of night it lay down to sleep, and prepared its bed, by shaking well the hay, on which it slept, and putting it in proper order; and, lastly, covering itself warm with the coverlet. One day, seeing the padlock of its chain opened with a key, and shut again, it seized a little bit of stick, and put it into the key hole, turning it about in all directions, endeavouring to see whether the padlock would open or not. This animal lived seven months in Holland. On its first arrival it had but very little hair, except on its back and arms: but on the approach of winter it became extremely well-covered; the hair on the back being three inches in length. The whole animal then appeared of a chesnut colour; the skin of the face, &c. was of a mouse colour, but about the eyes and round the mouth of a dull flesh colour.” It came from the island of Borneo, and, after its death, was deposited in the museum of the Prince of Orange⁕3.

The Oran Otan, which the Comte de Buffon saw, walked always on two feet, even when carrying things of considerable weight. His air was melancholy, I.48 his gait grave, his movements measured, his disposition gentle, and very different from that of other apes. He would present his hand to conduct the people who came to visit him, and walk as gravely along with them as if he had formed a part of the company. He frequently used to sit with persons at dinner, when he would unfold his towel, wipe his lips, use a spoon or a fork to carry his victuals to his mouth, pour his liquor into a glass, and make it touch that of a person who drank along with him. If he was invited to take tea, he brought a cup and saucer, placed them on the table, put in sugar, poured out the tea, and allowed it to cool before he drank it. All these actions he performed without any other instigation than the signs or verbal orders of his master, and often even of his own, accord⁕4.

Hamilton saw an Oran Otan in Java. He says, that its habit was grave and melancholy; that it would light a fire, and blow it with its mouth; and that it would broil a fish to eat with its boiled rice, imitative of the custom of the human race⁕5.

One of these animals that Le Comte saw in the Streights of Molucca is described as having manners very similar to those already mentioned. It walked upright, and used its hands and arms like a man; and indeed its actions were in general so nearly allied to those of mankind, and its passions so expressive and lively, that a dumb person could scarcely render himself better understood. Its joy or anger it signified I.49 by stamping with its foot on the ground. It had been taught to dance; and would at times cry like a child. While on board the vessel it frequently ran up the rigging, and played as many antics aloft, to divert the company, as a rope-dancer. It could leap with surprising agility and security from one rope to another, though fifteen or twenty feet asunder⁕6.

We are told by Pyrard, that these animals are found in Sierra Leona, where they are strong and well formed, and so industrious, that, when properly trained and fed, they work like servants: That when ordered, they will pound any substances in a mortar; and that they are frequently sent to fetch water from the rivers in small pitchers, which they carry full on their heads; but, when they arrive at the door of the dwelling, if these are not soon taken off they suffer them to fall, and when they perceive the pitcher overturned and broken they utter aloud their lamentations⁕7. Barbot says also, that they are frequently rendered of use in the settlements on the coast of Guinea, by being taught to turn the spit, and watch the roasting of meat, which they perform with considerable dexterity and address⁕8.

M. de la Brosse, who purchased from a Negro two Oran Otans, remarks that they would sit at table like men, and eat there every kind of food without distinction. That they would use a knife, I.50 fork, or spoon, to cut or lay hold of what was put on their plate. That they drank wine and other liquors. At table, when they wanted any thing, they easily made themselves understood to the cabin-boy; and when the boy refused to answer their demands, they sometimes became enraged, seized him by the arm, bit, and threw him down. The male was seized with sickness, and he made the people attend him as if he had been a human being. He was even bled twice in the right arm, and, whenever afterwards he found himself in the same condition, he held out his arm to be bled, as if he knew that he had formerly received benefit from that operation⁕9.

Two of these animals were sent from the forests of the Carnatic, by a coasting vessel, as a present to the governor of Bombay. They, like the rest of the species, had many human actions, and seemed, by their melancholy, to have a rational sense of their captivity. They were scarcely two feet high, but walked erect, and had, very nearly, the human form. The female was taken ill during the voyage, and died; and the male, exhibiting every demonstration of grief, seemed to take it so much to heart, that he refused to eat, and lived only two days afterwards⁕10.

“I saw at Java, (says Guat,) a very extraordinary Ape. It was a female. She was very tall, and often walked erect on her hind feet. Except on the eyebrows, there was no hair on her face, which pretty I.51 much resembled the grotesque female faces I had seen among the Hottentots at the Cape. She made her bed very neatly every day, lay upon her side, and covered herself with the bed-cloths. She often bound her head up with a handkerchief, and it was amusing to see her thus hooded in bed. I could relate many other little circumstances which appeared to be extremely singular; but I by no means admired them so much as most other persons did, because, as I knew the design of bringing her to Europe to be exhibited as a shew, I was inclined to think that she had been taught many of these monkey-tricks, which the people considered as natural to the animal. She died in our ship, about the latitude of the Cape of Good Hope⁕11.”

Gemelli Carreri gives an instance of something very analogous to reason in these animals. He tells us that when the fruits on the mountains are exhausted, they frequently descend to the sea coasts, where they feed on various species of shell-fish, but in particular on a large species of oyster, which commonly lies open on the shore: fearful, he says, of putting in their paws, lest the oyster should close and crush them, they insert a pretty large stone within the shell, this prevents it from closing, and they then drag out their prey and devour it at leisure⁕12.

Pere Carbasson brought up an Oran Otan, which became so fond of him, that wherever he went it always seemed desirous of accompanying him: I.52 whenever, therefore, he had to perform the service of his church, he was always under the necessity of shutting it up in a room. Once, however, the animal escaped, and followed the father to the church, where silently mounting on the sounding board above the pulpit, he lay perfectly still till the sermon commenced. He then crept to the edge, and, overlooking the preacher, imitated all his gestures in so grotesque a manner that the whole congregation were unavoidably urged to laugh. The father, surprized and confounded at this ill-timed levity, severely reproved his audience for their inattention. The reproof failed in its effect, the congregation still laughed, and the preacher, in the warmth of his zeal, redoubled his vociferations and his actions: these the Ape imitated so exactly, that the congregation could no longer restrain themselves, but burst out into a loud and continued laughter. A friend of the preacher at length stepped up to him, and pointed out the cause of this improper conduct; and such was the arch demeanour of his animal, that it was with the utmost difficulty he could command the muscles of his countenance, and keep himself apparently serious, while he ordered the servants of the church to take him away.

⁕1 Anatomy of a Pigmy, p. 8.

⁕2 There is no doubt whatever, from the horizontal position of the pelvis, and some other circumstances, that this is the natural mode of walking of the whole tribe; and that their going entirely upright is only the effect of education.

⁕3 Shaw’s Gen. Zool. i. 7.

⁕4 Buff. Quad. viii. 86.

⁕5 Hamilton, ii. 131.

⁕6 History of China.

⁕7 Voy. de Fran. Pyrard, in Buff. Quad. viii. 92.

⁕8 Barbot, in Churchill’s Coll. v. 101.

⁕9 Buff. Quad. viii. 89.

⁕10 Grove i. 132.

⁕11 Voy. de Fr. le Guat, in Buff. Quad. viii. 92.

⁕12 Buff. Quad. viii. 93.—Barbot v. 101.

Notes and Corrections: The Oran Otan

skip to next section

Simia satyrus or S. troglodytes is the chimpanzee, now Pan troglodytes. Atypically, Linnaeus’s genus name Simia is no longer used for anything. The three great-ape genera are Gorilla, Pan (chimpanzee and bonobo), and Pongo (orangutan), sharing family Hominidae with you and me.

You will notice that the four plates, all from Shaw, do not all depict orangutans as we understand the word. Shaw’s Zoology distin­guishes between two species: the “black Oran Otan”, which lives in Africa, and the “brown or chestnut Oran Otan”, which lives in Borneo. Plate 2 is clearly a chimpanzee; plate 3 looks more like a pair of young gorillas; plate 4 seems to be meant for an orangutan. Between Shaw’s plates 3 and 4, there is a supplementary picture (unnum­bered) which Bingley wisely did not mention:

ape sitting at table with lady and gentleman

seeing the padlock of its chain opened with a key . . . it seized a little bit of stick, and put it into the key hole, turning it about in all directions, endeavouring to see whether the padlock would open or not
[Even had we not been told that the animal came from Borneo, this information is sufficient to identify it as an orangutan (Pongo pongo).]

imitative of the custom of the human race
text has cusom

Two of these animals were sent from the forests of the Carnatic
[All right, now I’m curious. When have there ever been great apes in central India? He’s probably talking about some kind of langur.]

engraving of “Barbary Ape”, no later than 1804

Shaw Zoology Vol. I plate 7:
Barbary Ape


The forests of India, Arabia, and Africa, are the habitations of this species; and they are so common I.53 in Barbary, that trees are sometimes literally covered with them⁕1. A few are found near Gibraltar.—Their face is not much unlike that of a dog. Their general length is betwixt three and four feet. The colour of the back is a greenish brown, and that of the belly pale yellow. The cheeks are furnished with pouches⁕2.

In their manners these animals are generally both fierce and mischievous. They live on vegetables, and are said to assemble at times in the open plains of India, in vast troops, and if they see any of the women going to market, they immediately attack them, and take away their provisions⁕3. Tavernier, apparently alluding to this species, says, that some of the inhabitants of India have an odd mode of amusing themselves at their expence. These people place five or six baskets of rice, forty or fifty yards asunder, in an open ground near their retreat, and by every basket put a number of stout cudgels, each about two feet long: they then retire to some hiding place, not far distant, to wait the event. When the Apes observe no persons near the baskets, they soon descend in great numbers from the trees, and run towards them. They grin at each other for some time before they dare approach; sometimes they advance, then retreat, seeming much disinclined to encounter. At length the females, which are more courageous than the males, especially those that have young ones, (which they carry in their I.54 arms as women do their children), venture to approach the baskets, and as they are about to thrust their heads in to eat, the males on the one side advance to hinder them. Immediately the other party comes forward, and the feud being kindled on both sides, the combatants seize the cudgels and commence a most severe fight, which always ends with the weakest being driven into the woods with broken heads and limbs. The victors, he tells us, then fall to in peace, and devour the reward of their labour⁕4.

He also informs us, that as he was himself travelling in the East Indies, in company with the English president, a great number of large Apes were observed upon the trees around them. The president was so much amused, that he ordered his carriage to stop, and desired Tavernier to shoot one of them. The attendants, who were principally natives, and well acquainted with the manners of these animals, begged him to desist, lest those that escaped might do them some injury in revenge for the death of a companion. Being, however, still requested, he killed a female, which fell among the branches, letting her little ones, that clung to her neck, fall to the ground. In an instant all the remaining Apes, to the number of sixty or upwards, descended in fury, and, as many as could, leaped upon the president’s coach, where they would soon have strangled him, had not the blinds been immediately closed, and the number of attendants so I.55 great, as, though not without difficulty, to drive them off. They however continued to run after and teaze the servants for at least three miles from the place where their companion was slain⁕5.

engraving of “Magot, or Barbary Ape”, no later than 1804

Bewick Quadrupeds page 417:
The MAGOT, or Barbary APE

This species of Ape agrees well with our climate, and is very common in exhibitions in this country. It walks on four in preference to two legs; and uses the same grimaces to express both anger and appetite. Its movements are brisk, its manners gross; and, when agitated by passion, it exhibits and grinds its teeth. Notwithstanding its ferocious and unaccommodating disposition, it is, by perseverance and force of discipline, generally taught to perform a few tricks, and to shew off, in some mode or other, to the spectators⁕6. Some of them will learn to dance, make gesticulations in cadence, and allow themselves peaceably to be clothed.

Buffon had a Barbary Ape several years. In Summer he says it delighted to be in the open air, and even in Winter it was frequently kept in a room without fire. Though long in confinement it did not become at all civilized. When food was given to it, it always filled its pouches: and when about to sleep, loved to perch on an iron or wooden bar⁕7.

Synonyms.—Simia Inuus. Linn.—Magot. Buffon.—Momenet. Johnston.—Yellow Ape. Du Halde.—Barbary Ape. Pennant.——Shaw’s Gen. Zool. pl. 7.Bew. Quad. p. 417.

⁕1 Church.

⁕2 Penn. Quad. 1. 171.

⁕3 Ib.

⁕4 Travels in India.

⁕5 Travels in India.

⁕6 Penn. Quad. i. 172.

⁕7 Buff. Quad. viii. 117.

Notes and Corrections: The Barbary Ape

Simia inuus, the barbary ape, is probably Macaca sylvanus, the Barbary macaque, but next section.

by perseverance and force of discipline
text has perserverance

engraving of “Pygmy Ape” and “Alpinus’ Ape”, no later than 1804

Shaw Zoology Vol. I plate 8:
Pygmy Ape (bottom); Alpinus’ Ape (top)


The Pigmy Ape is a native of Africa, the East Indies, and Ceylon. It is about the size of a Fox, and generally walks upright. The face is short and I.56 flat, and the ears very much resemble those of Men. The general colours of the body are olive-brown above, and yellowish on the belly.

In disposition these creatures are mild, and they may be tamed without much difficulty. When angry they use threatening gestures, and always chatter when pleased. They sip their drink from the palm of the hand⁕1, mimic our smiles and frowns, and, as Linnæus says, imitate the forms of salutation used by the Caffres⁕2. They have retentive memories, and frequently recollect the persons of benefactors for many years. In their general manners they are sagacious, gay, and frolicksome; but when laid hold of in a wild state they bite very furiously in self defence. In their native forests they associate in troops, and live principally on vegetables, grain, and fruit. Like many others of this genus they often go in a body to attack gardens or plantations. Previously to their commencement of the plundering excursion, one of the party is always sent to some eminence, to observe how far it appears safe for them to venture. If the course is clear, he gives a signal, and they all come forth and immediately proceed to business. He, however, still remains on the watch. If any one approaches he utters a loud scream, when those on the ground immediately run up the trees; and if the alarm continues, and the country is pretty well wooded, they pursue their route, by leaping from tree to tree, all I.57 the way to the mountains. In this procedure the females are frequently burthened by three or four young ones, clinging round their necks and backs, yet, in spite of this incumbrance, they are able to leap to a vast distance. The injury they do to the fruits and corn is incalculable: they gather them into heaps, tear and throw them on the ground in such quantities, that what they eat and carry off, is very trifling compared with the quantity they destroy.

They are said to live chiefly in caverns, and the natives adopt a singular mode of taking them alive. They place near their haunts vessels containing strong liquors, and the animals, assembling to enjoy the unexpected repast, become all intoxicated, fall asleep together, and in this predicament are easily secured⁕3.

Synonyms—Simia Sylvanus. Linn.—Pitheque. Buffon.—Pigmy Ape. Pennant.——Shaw’s Gen. Zool. pl. 8.

⁕1 Kerr. i. 58.

⁕2 Gmelin. i. 28.

⁕3 Buff. Quad. viii. 106.

Notes and Corrections: The Pigmy Ape

Simia sylvanus is now Macaca sylvanus, which we have already met as the Barbary Ape. Nobody seems to be sure what the difference is between the two.

engraving of Baboon, no later than 1804

Shaw Zoology Vol. I plate 9:
Common Baboon


The Common Baboon is found in the hottest parts of Africa, and also in the island of Borneo. It is often three or four feet in height, and in its upper parts excessively strong and muscular. When confined in a cage these animals sometimes lay hold of the bars, and shake them so powerfully as to make all the spectators tremble⁕1. Towards the middle of I.58 the body, they are, like all the Baboons, very slender. Their general colour is a greyish brown; and the face, which is long, is of a tawny flesh-colour. They have pouches in their cheeks. The tail is very short, and round it, to a considerable distance, the posteriors are perfectly bare and callous⁕2.

The disposition of these Baboons is exceedingly ferocious; and their appearance is, at once, both grotesque and formidable. They generally go in troops, and are dangerous enemies, when collected in any number. Their attitude is seldom upright, preferring the use of four to that of two legs.

In Siam they frequently sally forth in astonishing numbers, to attack the villages, during the time the labourers are occupied in the rice harvest, and plunder the habitations of whatever provisions they can lay their paws on⁕3.—Fruits, corn, and roots, form their principal food, and in obtaining these they often commit the most violent outrages. Their great strength and the sharpness of their claws, render them formidable to dogs, who always overcome them with difficulty, except when excess in eating has rendered them, as it sometimes does, heavy and inactive. When at liberty one of them will easily overpower two or three men, if they happen to be unprovided with weapons of defence⁕4.

The females seldom bring forth more than one I.59 young one each, which they carry between their arms: and they have not been known to produce in any other than hot climates.

engraving of Baboon, no later than 1804

Bewick Quadrupeds page 418:

When in confinement these animals are invariably savage and ill-natured, frequently grinding their teeth, fretting and chafing with the utmost fury. One that was exhibited at Edinburgh in 1779 presented uniformly to the spectators the most threatening aspect, and attempted to seize every person, who came within the reach of his chain. On these occasions he usually made a deep grunting noise, and tossed up his head almost perpetually⁕5.

This species is very fond of eggs, and one of them has been known to put eight into his cheek-pouches at once: then taking them out one by one, he broke them at the end, and deliberately swallowed their contents. In confinement these Baboons may be induced to eat meat, but not unless it is cooked: they are very fond of wine or spirits. One that Mr. Pennant saw at Chester was of most tremendous strength, and excessively fierce. Its voice was a kind of roar, not unlike that of a Lion, except that it was low and somewhat inward. It went on all fours, and never stood on its hind legs, unless forced by the keeper; but would frequently sit on its rump, in a crouching manner, and drop its arms across before its belly. It was an animal of great beauty, and appears to have been the same that Mr. Smellie saw at Edinburgh. Mr. Pennant says it was particularly fond of cheese, and that whenever I.60 ears of wheat were given it, it dexterously picked out the grains, one by one, with its teeth, and ate them⁕6.

Its capricious disposition often leads it to the most deliberate acts of mischief. Dr. Goldsmith says he has seen one of them break a whole service of China, evidently by design, yet without appearing in the least conscious of having done amiss⁕7.

Synonyms. Simia Sphinx. Linn.—Mottled Baboon. Penn.—Papion. Buffon.—Common Baboon. Shaw.—Baboon. Bewick.——Shaw’s Gen. Zool. pl. 16.—Bew. Quad. p. 418.

⁕1 Bewick’s Quadrupeds, 418.

⁕2 Shaw, i. 10.

⁕3 Forbin, in Buff. Quad.

⁕4 Buff. Quad. viii. 122-124.

⁕5 Note of Mr. Smellie, Buff. Quad. viii. 126.

⁕6 Penn. Quad. i. 174.

⁕7 Goldsmith, iv. 199.

Notes and Corrections: The Common Baboon

Simia sphinx is now known as Mandrillus sphinx, technically not a baboon but a mandrill, though they’re pretty closely related.

Shaw’s Gen. Zool. pl. 16.
[Shaw’s plate 16 shows the Lion-Tailed Baboon, Simia Ferox, now Macaca silenus. The Common Baboon, Simia sphinx, is plate 9.]

In Siam they frequently sally forth
[Do not wait for an explanation of how the Baboon got from Borneo to Siam.]

On these occasions he usually made
text has on these

color picture of “Grey Baboon”, no later than 1804

Shaw Miscellany plate 216:
Grey Baboon


The Dog-faced Baboons, which are found in the hotter parts of Africa and Asia, associate in vast companies, and rob the plantations. When any passengers go by they are impudent enough to run up the trees, and shake the boughs at them with great fury, at the same time chattering very loud. They are about five feet high, and so fierce and numerous, that the Coffee-planters are compelled to have men continually on the watch to prevent their depredations. They are untameable, and so strong, as, without any difficulty, to overcome a man⁕1.

engraving of “Dog-Faced Baboon”, no later than 1804

Shaw Zoology Vol. I plate 15:
Dog-Faced Baboon

This species is about five feet high when erect. The head and face greatly resemble those of a dog. The hair is very long and shaggy as far as the waist, I.61 but short below. The face is naked, and the ears are pointed and hidden in the hair.

Synonyms.—Simia Hamadryas. Linn.—Tartarin. Kerr, who places it among the Monkies.—Dog-faced Baboon. Penn.——Shaw’s Gen. Zool. pl. 15.—Bew. Quad. 424.

⁕1 Penn. Quad. i. 180.

engraving of “Dog-Faced Baboon”, no later than 1804

Bewick Quadrupeds page 424:
The Dog-faced BABOON

Notes and Corrections: The Dog-Faced Baboon

Simia hamadryas is now Papio hamadryas, the hamadryas baboon.

The Ursine Baboon.

These animals, which are usually supposed to be a variety of the Dog-faced Baboons, are natives of South Africa, and are found in great numbers among the mountains at the Cape. They associate in troops, and when any person approaches their haunts, they set up an universal and horrible cry for a minute or two, and then conceal themselves in their fastnesses, and keep a profound silence. They seldom descend to the plains, except for the purpose of plundering the gardens that lie near the foot of the mountains. While they are engaged in this they are careful enough to place centinels to prevent being surprised. They break the fruit into pieces, and cram it into their cheek-pouches, in order, afterwards, to eat it at leisure. The centinel, if he sees a man, gives a loud yell, which lasts for about a minute; and the whole troop retreats with the utmost expedition, and in a most diverting manner, the young jumping on, and clinging to the backs of their parents⁕2. They feed also on several kinds of bulbous plants, which they dig up and peel with great address. Heaps of the parings of these may frequently be seen left behind them⁕3.

When they discover any single person resting and regaling himself in the fields, if great care is I.62 not taken, they will cunningly steal up behind, snatch away whatever they can lay hold of, then running to a little distance, will turn round, seat themselves on their posteriors, and with the most arch grimaces imaginable, devour it before the man’s face. They frequently hold out it in their paws, as if to offer it back again, and then use such ridiculous gestures, that, although the poor fellow loses his dinner, he seldom can refrain from laughing⁕4.

They are indeed so numerous among the mountains, as, at times, to render it exceedingly dangerous for travellers to pass them. They sit undismayed on the tops of the rocks, and not only roll, but even throw from thence stones of immense size. A gun, in these cases, is generally of indispensible use, in driving them to such a distance that the stones they throw may do no material injury. In their flight, even with their cubs on their backs, they often make most astonishing leaps, up perpendicular rocks. And their agility is so great as to render them very difficult to be killed, even with fire-arms⁕5.

Lade has very accurately described their manners. “We traversed a great mountain in the neighbourhood of the Cape of Good Hope, and amused ourselves with hunting large Apes, which are very numerous in that place.—I can neither describe all the arts practised by these animals, nor the nimbleness and impudence with which they returned, I.63 after being pursued by us. Sometimes they allowed us to approach so near, that I was almost certain of seizing them. But when I made the attempt, they sprung, at a single leap, ten paces from me, and mounted trees with equal agility, from whence they looked at us with great indifference, and seemed to derive pleasure from our astonishment. Some of them were so large, that if our interpreter had not assured us they were neither ferocious nor dangerous, our number would not have appeared to be sufficient to protect us from their attacks. As it could serve no purpose to kill them, we did not use our guns. But the captain levelled his piece at a very large one that rested on the top of a tree, after having fatigued us a long time in pursuing him: this kind of menace, of which the animal, perhaps, recollected his having sometimes seen the consequences, terrified him to such a degree that he fell down motionless at our feet, and we had no difficulty in seizing him. But, when he recovered from his stupor, it required all our dexterity and efforts to keep him. We tied his paws together; but he bit so furiously, that we were under the necessity of binding our handkerchiefs over his head⁕6.”

In confinement these Baboons may be rendered docile, yet they always retain the disposition to revenge an injury. At the Cape they are often taken young, and brought up with milk; and Kolben tells I.64 us, that they will become as watchful over their master’s property, as the most valuable house-dog in Europe. Many of the Hottentots believe they can speak, but that they avoid it lest they should be enslaved, and compelled to work. Though not naturally carnivorous, they will eat meat or fish that is cooked⁕7. They are generally kept fastened by means of a chain to a pole; and their agility in climbing, leaping, and dodging any one that offers to strike them is almost incredible. Though one of these animals was thus tied up, still it was impossible, at the distance of a few yards, to hit him with a stone. He would either catch it, like a ball, in his paw, or else he would avoid its blow in the most surprising and nimble manner⁕8.

They are about five feet high, and are able, in spite of resistance, to drag the strongest man along with them.—They are sometimes caught with dogs, but it is necessary to have a tolerable number to subdue one of these animals. A single dog or two can seldom catch one of them, for if the Baboon, which is surprisingly agile, can but get a dog by the hind feet, he will swing it round till it is perfectly giddy. With their immense teeth they also bite very violently, and by means of them are able to defend themselves with the utmost obstinacy⁕9.—When enraged by any person, even in a state of domestication, they attempt to lay hold of the ears; and they will sometimes bite one of them off as close as if it had been cut with a razor⁕10.


Their features are somewhat like those of a dog, but extremely ugly. Their colour is dusky, and their hair of such a length as to give them much the appearance of a young Bear.

This seems to have been the same kind of Ape as one that M. le Vaillant had long with him in his travels through the southern parts of Africa, to which he gave the name of Kees. It was of infinite use to him, being a more watchful servant than any of his dogs, and frequently warning him of the approach of predacious animals, when they seemed unconscious that such were near. Its numerous whimsical pranks and actions are related in both M. le Vaillant’s works, at considerable length.

⁕2 Penn. Quad. i. 181.

⁕3 Thunberg, i. 285.

⁕4 Kolben, ii. 120.

⁕5 Thunberg, i. 284.

⁕6 Voyage of Robert Lade.

⁕7 Kolben, ii. 120.

⁕8 Thunberg, i. 285.

⁕9 Thunberg, ii. p. 116.

⁕10 Penn. Quad. i. 121.

Notes and Corrections: The Ursine Baboon.

The author doesn’t give a lot of clues. But, based purely on the name, let us stipulate that this is Papio ursinus, the chacma baboon. There are five baboon species and two mandrills, so there’s plenty of choice if that doesn’t fit.

They frequently hold out it in their paws
text unchanged


The Egret Monkey is about two feet in length, and somewhat of the colour of a wolf. His head, which is excessively ugly, is large; his nose is depressed, his cheeks are wrinkled, his eyebrows prominent and bristly, and his lip cleft with a double fissure. On the top of the head is a pointed tuft of hair; and the feet are black. He is an inhabitant of South Africa, India, and Java, where he is very sportive and lively; gamboling on the trees, and making a continual noise during the night⁕1.

These Monkies often assemble in troops for the purpose of plundering the plantations. When they have entered a field of millet, they load themselves I.66 with it, by taking in their mouths as much as they can carry, and putting a quantity under their arms and in each paw. Thus laden they return to their retreats, leaping all the way on their hind feet. If they are so unfortunate as to be pursued, they do not, in their alarm, let the whole fall, in order to run off: they drop the stalks which they held in their hands, and under their arms, that they may run on their four feet, which they do with more speed than on two, but still carefully retain what they carried in their mouth. They examine with the most scrupulous accuracy, every stalk they pull, and those they find not perfectly suited to their purpose, they throw on the ground, and tear up others instead. By this delicacy of choice they often do infinitely more damage than even by what they take away⁕3.

They are mild and very tractable animals, but so dirty, ugly, and loathsome, that when they make their grimaces, they are scarcely to be viewed without disgust and horror.—The natives take them in snares concealed among the branches of the trees, where they are continually skipping about in the most active and ridiculous gambols⁕4.

Synonyms. Simia Aygula. Linn.—Aigrette. Buffon.—Egret Monkey. Pennant.

⁕1 Shaw. i. 48.

⁕3 Bosman 243.—Barbot, v. 212. This account has been applied by some naturalists only to the present species; but Bosman, who is their principal authority, makes it common to most of the Monkies that are found on the coast of Guinea.

⁕4 Barbot.

Notes and Corrections: The Egret Monkey

Simia aygula is now known as Macaca fascicularis, the long-tailed macaque.


Mr. Adanson says the woods of Podor, in Africa, are filled with a species of Green Monkey. These I.67 break branches from the trees and throw them at travellers; and their green colour renders them almost invisible. They are also perfectly silent; and so nimble in their motions as easily to evade the sight. Mr. Adanson fired among them, when some concealed themselves behind the large branches, and others sprang from one tree to another, quite away. He killed twenty-three, not one of which uttered the slightest cry, although they had before assembled along with the rest, ground their teeth at him, and assumed a threatening aspect⁕1.

The body is of a beautiful yellow green colour; the throat and belly are silvery white, and the face is black. Their size is about that of a small Cat. The tail is very long; and they run on all fours.

Synonyms.—Simia Sabæa. Linn.—Callitriche. Buffon.—Green Monkey. Pennant.

⁕1 Adanson, 316.

Notes and Corrections: The Green Monkey

Simia sabæa, the green monkey, is now Chlorocebus sabaeus.

engraving of “Chinese Monkey” (toque macaque), no later than 1804

Shaw Zoology Vol. I plate 20 (partial):
Chinese Monkey


The Chinese Monkey has its name from the unusual disposition of the hair on the top of its head, which is parted in the middle, lying smooth over each side, and spreading out in a circular direction, so as, in some measure, to resemble a Chinese cap.—These animals are found in immense troops in the woods of Ceylon, where they are very destruc­tive to such gardens and plantations as lie within the reach of their settlements. They have long tails, and are about the size of a Cat. Their colour is a pale yellowish brown⁕1.


In their depredations on the sugar grounds, one of the number is always placed as a centinel in some adjoining tree, while the rest load themselves with the booty. When he observes an enemy, he screams out to his companions, who, carrying as many canes as they can grasp with their right arm, instantly run off on three legs. When close pursued, they drop their prize, and endeavour to save themselves by scrambling up the trees, their usual places of abode.

When fruits and succulent plants fail, they eat insects, and sometimes descend to the margins of rivers, and the Sea-coast, to catch fish and crabs. They are said to put their tails between the pincers of the crab, and, when these are closed, to carry it quickly off, and eat it at leisure. They gather Cocoa-nuts, and are well acquainted with the method of extracting the juice for drink, and the kernel for food.—The natives often take them by means of a Cocoa-nut with a hole in it. This is laid near their haunts, and some one of them takes it up, and with difficulty thrusts his paw into the hole in order to get at the kernel; the people who are on watch, immediately run up, and seize the animal before he can disengage himself⁕2.

Synonyms.—Simia Sinica. Linn.—Bonnet Chinois. Buffon.—Chinese Monkey. Pennant.——Shaw’s Gen. Zool. pl. 20.

⁕1 Shaw, i. 50.

⁕2 Buff. Quad. viii. 140.

Notes and Corrections: The Chinese Monkey

Simia sinica is now Macaca sinica, the toque macaque.


engraving of “Oustiti, Cagui or Striated Monkey” (marmoset), no later than 1804

Bewick Quadrupeds page 439:


This little animal, no bigger than a squirrel, is a native of Brazil. The tail is long and very thickly covered with fur, beautifully marked through its whole length with alternate bars of black and white. The body is of a reddish ash-colour, slightly undulated with dusky shades. The face is a dark flesh colour, having on each side a very large and thick tuft of milk-white hair, standing out before the ears. The paws, which are covered with hair, have sharp nails⁕1.

In a native state, these monkies are supposed to subsist principally on fruits, but in a state of confinement they will occasionally feed on insects, snails, &c. One that was brought to England in an East India ship would eat nuts, but could not be prevailed on to touch ripe fruits. This creature was peculiarly fond of the smaller kind of Spiders and their eggs, but he uniformly refused the larger ones, as well as the large blue-bottle Flies, though he frequently ate the common ones⁕2.

Mr. Edwards saw and drew one that belonged to Mrs. Kennon, formerly midwife to the Royal Family. This lady informed him that it ate many different kinds of food, as biscuits, fruit, vegetables, insects, and snails; and that once, when let I.70 loose, it snatched a Chinese Goldfiſh out of a bason of water, which it killed and greedily devoured. After this, by way of trial, some small live Eels were given to him, which frighted him much at first, by twisting round his neck, he however soon called forth resolution enough to master and eat them.

A pair of these animals, which belonged to a Mr. Cook, a merchant of London, who resided at Lisbon, had young at that place. These at their birth were excessively ugly, having little or no fur. They would frequently cling very fast to the breasts of the dam; and when they grew a little, they used to hang on her back or shoulders. When she was tired, she would rub them off against the wall or whatever else was near, as the only mode of ridding herself of them. On being forced from the female, the male immediately took them to him, and suffered them to hang round him for a while to ease her of the burthen⁕3.

Their voice is a kind of shrill hissing note; and most of them have a musky smell. Linnæus remarks that they are great enemies to cats⁕4.

Synonyms.—Simia Jacchus. Linn.—Striated Monkey. Penn. Shaw.—Oustiti. Buff.—Sanglin, or Lesser Cagui. Edwards.—Sanglin. Kerr.——Shaw’s Gen. Zool. pl. 25. Bew. Quad. p. 439.

⁕1 Shaw, i. 62.

⁕2 Phil. Tran. xlvii. 146.

⁕3 Edwards’s Glean. i. 15. pl. 218.

⁕4 Gmel. i. 39.

Notes and Corrections: The Striated Monkey

Simia jacchus is the common marmoset, Callithrix jacchus. For Shaw’s illustration, see the Squirrel Monkey, below.


These animals are natives of the New Continent, and found in vast numbers in the woods of Brazil and Guiana. They are the largest of all the American I.71 Monkies, being about the size of a Fox. Their fur is smooth, and of a black, glossy colour. The tail is prehensile.

They are so wild and mischievous, as neither to be conquered nor tamed. They bite cruelly, and excite terror by their large mouths, and frightful voice and aspect. Their voice somewhat resembles the noise of a drum, and it is said, may be heard to the distance of a league. This proceeds from a kind of bony process in the throat, in the concavity of which the sounds are greatly augmented. Even in a dried fœtus this process was very perceptible⁕1.

They usually keep together in parties of twenty or thirty, and ramble over the tops of the woods, leaping from tree to tree. If they see a person alone they always teaze and threaten him. Dampier says, whenever he was by himself he was always afraid of shooting at them, lest they should descend from the trees in a body and do him some injury⁕2.

We are informed by Marcgrave that they assemble every morning and evening in the woods of Brazil, and make a most dreadful howling. Sometimes one of them mounts on a higher branch, and the rest seat themselves beneath: the first begins, as it were, to harangue, and set up a howl so loud and sharp as to be heard to a vast distance: after a while he gives a signal with his hand, when the whole assembly joins in chorus; but on another signal they are again silent, and the orator finishes his I.72 address. Their clamour is the most disagreeable and tremendous that can be conceived⁕3.

When Oexmelin was in South America, he attended the hunting of these animals, and was surprized at their sagacity, not only in distinguishing particularly those who were active against them, but when attacked, in defending themselves, and providing for their own safety. “When we approached,” he says, “they all assembled together, uttered loud and fearful cries, and threw at us dried branches which they broke off the trees. I likewise remarked, that they never abandoned each other: that they leapt from tree to tree with incredible agility; and that they flung themselves headlong from branch to branch without ever falling to the ground, always catching hold either with their hands or tail. If they are not shot dead at once they can never be taken, for even when mortally wounded, they remain fixed to the trees, where they often die, and from whence they do not fall till they are corrupted. More than four days after death I have seen them firmly fixed to the trees; and thirteen or sixteen of them are frequently shot before three or four of them can be obtained. What is singular, as soon as one is wounded, the rest collect about him, and put their fingers into the wound, as if they meant to sound it; and when much blood is discharged, some of them keep the orifice shut, while others make a mash of leaves, and dexterously I.73 stop it up. This operation I have often observed with much admiration⁕4.”

The Monkies that Dampier describes as having seen near the Bay of Campeachy, appears evidently to have been of this species. “There was,” says he, “a great company dancing from tree to tree over my head, chattering and making a terrible noise, and a great many grimaces and antic gestures. Some of them broke down dry sticks and flung at me; and one bigger than the rest, came to a small limb just over my head, and leaping directly at me, made me start back, but the Monkey caught hold of the bough with the tip of his tail, and there remained swinging to and fro, making mouths at me. At last I passed on, they still keeping me company, with the like menacing gestures till I came to our huts.

“They are very sullen when seized, and extremely difficult to be taken when shot, for they will cling with their tail and feet to a bough, as long as any life remains. When I have shot at one, and broken its leg or arm, I have pitied the poor creature, to see it look at and handle the broken limb, and then turn it from side to side in a manner so mournful as scarcely to be described⁕5.”


Dampier says that they often descend to the Sea-shores to feed on shell-fish. He saw several Monkies take up Oysters from the beach, lay them on a stone, and beat them with another till they demolished the shells, and then devour their contents. The same circumstance was observed by Wafer in the island of Gorgonia; “Their way was to lay the Oyster on a stone, and with another to beat it till the shell was broken to pieces⁕6”.—The females produce two young ones at a birth, and in their excursions they always carry one of these in their arms and the other on their back, clasping its two fore-paws round the neck, and with the hind ones laying hold of the middle of the back. There is no other method of obtaining the young, but by killing the dam, for nothing will induce her to abandon them while living⁕7.

Many of the voyagers describe the flesh as excellent eating, having a great resemblance in taste to mutton. Dampier even says, that he never ate any thing more delicious than this and some others of the Monkey tribes. The heads are frequently served up by the Europeans in soup, and the Negroes devour these animals as the greatest delicacy. There seems something extremely disgusting in the idea of eating, what appears, when skinned and dressed, so like a child. The skull, the paws, and indeed every part of them remind us, who are unaccustomed to it, much too strongly of the idea of devouring a fellow creature.

Synonyms.—Simia Beelzebul. Linn.—Howling Baboon. Bancroft.—Guariba. Marcgrave.—L’Ouarine. Buffon.—Preacher Monkey. Pennant.

⁕1 Buffon’s Quad. viii. 177-179.

⁕2 Dampier’s Voyage.

⁕3 Hist. Brazil, quoted in Buffon’s Quad.

⁕4 It seems very probable that M. Oexmelin has misconstrued some other action of these animals, for this completely surgical operation. That they have been frequently known to pull out the arrows from their own bodies, which the Indians have shot at them, we have pretty good evidence for asserting; but this is only a simple effort, and does not require any of that extent of reasoning faculty, which is absolutely necessary in an operation like the above.

⁕5 Dampier’s Voyage, ii. 60.

⁕6 Wafer, 195.

⁕7 Buffon.

Notes and Corrections: The Preacher Monkey

skip to next section

I would give something to know how we got from “Preacher” to “Beelzebul”. Simia beelzebul is now Alouatta belzebul, the red-handed howler monkey. (Bingley’s description sheds considerable light on the “howler monkey” name.)

Even in a dried fœtus
[It is only a few years since the editors of the Lancet broke down and conceded that the -oe- spelling of this specific word is not simply an archaism but a flat-out mistake.]

When Oexmelin was in South America
[The name is more often spelled Exquemelin (Alexandre-Olivier, 1645 or 1646–1717). Exact orthography depends on whether he started out French, Dutch, or something else entirely.]

from branch to branch without ever falling to the ground
text has withoutever without ever a space
[Pssst! Typesetter! All you had to do was drop the word “the” to the following line, and then the word “hands” to the line after that again, and everything would come out nice and even.]


engraving of “Four-Fingered Monkey” (spider monkey) and “Horned Monkey”, no later than 1804

Shaw Zoology Vol. I plate 28:
Four-Fingered Monkey (bottom); Horned Monkey (top)


The Four-fingered Monkey is an inhabitant of several parts of South America. Its length is about eighteen inches from the muzzle to the rump, exclusive of the tail, which is near two feet long.—These are bold and active animals, full of gambols and grimace; and in disposition very mild and docile. From their numbers and activity they enliven the dreary forests of America.—They sometimes, from want of better food, eat fish, which Buffon tells us they catch with their tails. One that was in a cage, laid hold, in one of its frolicks, of a squirrel in this manner, that had been put to it as a companion. By the familiarity, and even the caresses of this animal, it obtained the affection of all those who attended it⁕1.—When the fore-paws are tied behind their back, these Monkies will walk or run on their hind feet for almost any length of time, with the same ease and familiarity as if this was their natural posture. Although they are easily tamed, and in all their actions exhibit an uncommon degree of art and dexterity, they are not always without a mixture of that mischievous sagacity for which the whole tribe is remarkable.—We are told that, in their own country, when one of them is beaten, he will immediately climb, with the utmost agility, a lemon or an orange tree. If he is pursued, I.76 he will pick off the fruit, and throw it with singular dexterity at the head of his adversary; and he frequently adopts other more unpleasant modes of repulsion. In these situations he assumes a thousand ridiculous attitudes, which afford considerable diversion to the spectators.

These animals, like most others of the tribe, when on expeditions of plunder, have the sagacity to place centinels on the heights of the forest, to give warning of the approach of danger⁕2.—It has been said by Ulloa, that, in their native forests, when they want to pass from top to top of lofty trees, too distant for a leap, they will form a chain, by hanging down linked to each other by their tails; and swing in this manner till the lowest catches hold of a bough of the next tree, from whence he draws the rest up. We are also told, that they occasionally cross rivers, where the banks are very steep, by the same expedient⁕3.

The female brings forth one or two young, which the always carries on her back. During the fruit season these animals become fat, and they are then thought excellent eating.—Their colour is uniformly black, except the face, which is of a dark flesh colour. They have no thumbs on their fore-paws, but in the place of them have very small appendices, or projections.


Capt. Stedman has mentioned his killing of the black monkies of Surinam, called by the natives Micoo, which is either the present species, or an undescribed one nearly allied to it. The account is interesting. Being among the woods, and in want of fresh provisions, he shot at two of these animals, with the intention of making broth of them, “but the destruction of one of them was,” he says, “attended with such circumstances as almost ever afterwards deterred him from going a Monkey hunting.”—“Seeing me nearly on the bank of the river in the canoe, the creature made a halt from skipping after his companions, and being perched on a branch that hung over the water, examined me with attention, and the strongest marks of curiosity, no doubt taking me for a giant of his own species; while he chattered prodigiously, and kept dancing and shaking the bough on which he rested with incredible strength and agility. At this time I laid my piece to my shoulder, and brought him down from the tree into the stream;—but may I never again be witness of such a scene! The miserable animal was not dead, but mortally wounded. I seized him by the tail, and taking him in both my hands, to end his torment, swung him round, and hit his head against the side of the canoe; but the poor creature still continued alive, and looking at me in the most affecting manner that can be conceived, I knew no other means of ending his murder, than to hold him under the water till he was drowned, while my heart sickened on his account: for his dying little eyes still continued to follow me with seeming reproach, I.78 till their light gradually forsook them, and the wretched animal expired. I felt so much on this occasion, that I could neither taste of him nor his companion, when they were dressed, though I saw that they afforded to some others a delicious repast.”

Of this species, Capt. Stedman relates a circumstance very remark­able.—He says, that one day he saw from his barge, one of these monkies come down to the water’s edge, rinse its mouth, and appear to clean its teeth with one of its fingers⁕4.

Synonyms.—Simia paniscus. Linn.—Quato. Bancroft.—Spider Monkey. Edwards.—Coaita. Buffon.—Micoo? Stedman.——Shaw’s Gen. Zool. pl. 28.

⁕1 Buff. Quad. viii. 184, 190.

⁕2 Bancroft, 132.

⁕3 The truth of this assertion of Ulloa is doubted by Stedman, who saw much of the manners of the South American Monkies, but never observed among them any action like this. It is, however, confirmed by Dampier, and Acosta; but whether from their own observation, or only from the reports of the natives, it is impossible to say.

⁕4 Account of an Expedition to Surinam.

Notes and Corrections: The Four Fingered Monkey

Simia paniscus is now Ateles paniscus, the red-faced spider monkey.

Their colour is uniformly black
text has There

very small appendices, or projections.
text has pro jectons


The Fearful Monkey is one of the most agile, dexterous, and amusing of the whole genus. It is of a brown colour, with flesh-coloured face and ears, and about as big as a small cat. Though a native of Surinam, its constitution seems well adapted to our temperate climate; and it will live comfortably in winter in a room without fire. It has even been known to breed in Europe, which is very unusual with the Monkey tribe.—Its affection towards its offspring, is exceedingly tender. In one pair that produced at Bourdeaux, in the year 1764, nothing could be more beautiful than to see the two parents occupied with their little charge, which they teazed incessantly, either by carrying it about, or by carressing it. The male loved it to distraction. I.79 The father and mother carried it alternately; but now and then, when it did not hold properly, they gave it a pretty severe bite.—Few animals are more whimsical than these in their taste and affections, entertaining partiality to some persons, and frequently the greatest aversion to others⁕1.

Synonyms.—Simia trepida. Linn.—Bush-tailed Monkey. Edwards.—Sajou. Buffon.—Fearful Monkey. Pennant.

⁕1 Buffon’s Quadrupeds, viii. 194, note. Kerr, i. 77.

Notes and Corrections: The Fearful Monkey

Simia trepida is now Sapajus apella, the brown capuchin.

In one pair that produced at Bourdeaux, in the year 1764
spelling unchanged

engraving of Squirrel Monkey, “Striated Monkey” (marmoset) and others, no later than 1804

Shaw Zoology Vol. I plate 25:
Squirrel Monkey (bottom right); Silky Monkey (bottom left);
Striated Monkey (top left); Red Tailed Monkey (top right);
Fox-Tailed Monkey (center)


From the gracefulness of all its movements, the smallness of its size, brilliancy of its colours, and the largeness and vivacity of its eyes, this little animal has uniformly been preferred to all the other Monkies.

It seems to be the same that Stedman describes in his account of Surinam, as called there by the natives, Keesee-keesee. He says, that these creatures are about the size of a Rabbet, and astonishingly nimble. The colour of their body is reddish, and their tail is black at the extremity, whilst the fore-feet are orange coloured. The head is very round, the face milk-white, with a round black patch in the middle, in which are the mouth and nostrils; and this disposition of the features gives the animal the appearance of wearing a mask. The eyes are black, and remarkably lively. These Monkies he saw daily passing along the sides of the river, skipping from tree to tree, regularly following each other, I.80 like a little army, with their young ones at their backs, not unlike small knapsacks. Their manner of travelling is this: the foremost walks to the extremity of a bough, from which it bounds to the extremity of one belonging to the next tree, often at a surprizing distance, and with such wonderful activity and precision, that it never once misses its aim: the others, one by one, and even the females with their little ones at their backs, which stick fast to their mother, follow their leader, and perform the same leap with the greatest apparent facility and safety. They are also remarkable for climbing up the nebees or natural ropes, with which many parts of the forests are interwoven⁕1.

This is a very tender animal, and has not yet, I believe, been brought into Europe.

Synonyms.—Simia Sciurea. Linn.—Orange Monkey. Penn.—Caitaia. Marcgrave.—Saimiri. Buffon.—Keesee-keesee. Stedman.—Squirrel Monkey. Shaw.Shaw’s Gen. Zool. pl. 25.

⁕1 Stedman’s Surinam.

Notes and Corrections: The Squirrel Monkey

Simia sciurea is now Saimiri sciureus. There are several other squirrel monkeys in the genus.


This Monkey is mentioned by Professor Thunberg, in his Account of Ceylon. He describes it as being about the size of a small Cat, and having a very long, hairy, tapering, and prehensile tail; the body grey; the face blackish, bald, and very little shaded with hair; the beard on the chin and cheeks white, and turned backwards, the hairs standing, however, nearly erect, and almost covering the ears I.81 in front. On the chin and upper-lip, he says, the hair is short, but on the cheeks above an inch in length. The hands and feet are blackish and naked; the nails long and blunt, and the thumb detached and short. On the posteriors there are hard and naked tuberosities. The tips of the ears are rounded, almost bare, and black.

These animals are kept tame in many of the houses of Ceylon. They are easily domesticated; and in this state generally sit upright, with their hands crossed over each other. When they observe any acquaintance, they immediately come jumping to him, fawn upon him, grin, and with a peculiar kind of cry testify their joy. They are of a very friendly and gentle nature, and never bite, unless much irritated. If in the presence of one of these creatures, any person kisses and caresses a child, he expresses a great desire to do the same. If a child is beaten in his presence, he rears himself on his hind-legs, grins and howls in a revengeful manner, and, if let loose, will attack the chastiser. He leaps faster then he can run, on account of his hind-legs being longer than the others; and he is very delicate and careful respecting his tail. Professor Thunberg attempted to bring one of them into Europe, but on coming into a cooler climate he died. They are all so very tender as not to be able to support the slightest degree of cold.

Thunberg calls this animal Simia Silenus. It certainly cannot be that of Linnæus, which has a short tail, not prehensile, and in other respects is different. He calls it also Rollewai, and Cingalese Ape, but it appears to agree with none described in our present books—See Thunberg, iv. 214.


M. D’Obsonville, speaking of the sanctuaries for the Monkies in several parts of India, says, that I.82 when travelling, he has occasionally entered these ancient temples, to repose himself, and his Indian dress gave the animals little suspicion. He has seen several of them at first considering him, and then attentively looking at the food he was about to eat. Their eyes and agitation always painted their inquietude, their passion to gormandize, and the strong desire they had to appropriate at least a part of his repast to themselves.

In order to amuse himself on these occasions, he always took care to provide a quantity of parched pease. At first he would scatter a few on the side where the chief was, (for he says they have always a principal Monkey to head them) and the animal would approach by degrees, and collect them with avidity. He then used to present his handfull, and as they are in general accustomed to see none but pacific people, the chief would venture, but in a sideling manner, to approach, as if eagerly watching that there was no sinister contrivance. Presently, becoming bold, he would seize the thumb of the hand in which the pease were held, with one paw, and eat with the other, keeping at the same time his eyes steadily fixed on those of M. D’Obsonville. “If,” continues our entertaining writer, “I laughed or moved, he would break off his repast, and working his lips, make a kind of muttering, the sense of which, his long canine teeth, occasionally shewn, plainly interpreted. When I threw a few at a distance, he seemed satisfied that others should gather them up; but he grumbled at, and sometimes struck those that came too near me. His cries I.83 and solicitude, though in part perhaps the effect of greediness, apparently indicated his fear, lest I should take advantage of their weakness to ensnare them: and I constantly observed that those which were suffered to approach me nearest, were the well-grown and strong males; the young and the females were always obliged to keep at a considerable distance.”

The care and tenderness of the females, in a completely wild state, to their offspring was very conspicuous. They hold them under a proper obedience and restraint; and M. D’Obsonville has seen them suckle, caress, cleanse, and search the vermin from their young, and afterwards, crouching on their hams, delight to see them play with each other. These would wrestle, throw, or chase one another; and if any of them were malicious in their antics, the dams would spring upon them, and seizing them with one paw by the tail, correct them severely with the other. Some would try to escape, but when out of danger, approached in a wheedling and caressing manner, though ever liable to relapse into the same faults: in other cases, each would come at the first cry of the dam. If they removed to a little distance, the young would follow gently; but when there was any necessity for going fast, they always mounted on the backs, or rather hung embracing the bellies of the females.

Monkies are generally peaceable enough among each other. In extensive, solitary, and fertile places, herds of different species sometimes chatter together, but without disturbance, or any confusion I.84 of the race. When, however, adventurous stragglers seem desirous of seeking their fortunes in places where another herd is in possession, these immediately unite to sustain their rights. M. de Maisonpré, and six other Europeans, were witnesses to a singular contention of this nature in the enclosures of the Pagodas of Cherinam. A large and strong Monkey had stolen in, but was soon discovered. At the first cry of alarm many of the males united, and ran to attack the stranger. He, though much their superior in size and strength, saw his danger, and flew to attain the top of a pyramid, eleven stories high, whither he was instantly followed; but when arrived at the summit of the building, which terminated in a small round dome, he placed himself firmly, and taking advantage of his situation, seized three or four of the most hardy, and precipitated them to the bottom. These proofs of his prowess intimidated the rest, and after much noise they thought proper to retreat. The conqueror remained till evening, and then betook himself to a place of safety.

Their conduct towards such of their brethren as become captives is very remarkable. If one is chained in their neighbourhood, especially if of the society to which he belonged, they will attempt various means, for some time, to procure his liberty: but when their efforts prove ineffectual, and they see him daily submit to slavery, they will never again, if he should by any chance escape, receive him among them, but will fall upon and beat him away without mercy.


Such is their propensity to thieving, that, not contented with the plenty that Nature affords them in the woods, they seldom fail to steal from houses or gardens whatever they are able to carry away. When any of them perceive a child with bread or fruit in its hand, they immediately run up, frighten it, and take away its food. If a woman is drying grain in the sun, which in India is very common, she will sometimes find difficulty in beating them off. Some of them skip round and pretend to steal; and the moment she runs to strike them, the others, watching the opportunity, fall to and seize the grain with all the address imaginable.

M. D’Obsonville has seen Monkies caught, cunning as they are, by a very simple contrivance. The man employed chose a place near their haunts, and fastened a copper vessel, with a mouth about two inches in diameter, to the foot of a tree; then, after scattering some grains, removed to a distance. These were soon devoured, and he brought more. The third time he was more bountiful of his grain, especially around and within the pot, in which there were placed fixed five or six running knots, crossing each other in different directions. He had scarcely hidden himself before several Monkies and their young ran to try who should get first. They had soon emptied the vessel, but their hands were caught. The man approached before they had time to liberate themselves, threw a carpet over them, and thus took two females and their young⁕1.

⁕1 D’Obsonville, 380.

Notes and Corrections: The Cingalese Monkey

If, as the footnote says, this is not Linnaeus’s Simia silenus, then who knows. Cursory research suggests that, even in his own century, nobody really knew what Thunberg was talking about. It may be Macacus pileatus, now Trachypithecus pileatus, the capped langur. Whatever it is, it does not have a prehensile tail.

the chief would venture, but in a sideling manner
text unchanged
[Sidling? Sidelong? Quite possibly both.]

the others, watching the opportunity, fall fall to and seize the grain
text has fall too

in which there were placed fixed five or six running knots
missing word “six” supplied from 1st edition


color picture of “Slow-Moving Lemur” (slow loris), no later than 1804

Shaw Miscellany plate 29:
Slow-Moving Lemur


The animals composing the present tribe have a considerable resem­blance to the Monkies in their habits and manners, as well as in their hand-like paws. They differ from them principally in the shape of the head, which is somewhat like that of a Fox, and in the length of their hind legs. Except in using their paws as hands, none of these creatures have any resemblance whatever to mankind.

The principal Linnean characters of the tribe are, four front teeth in the upper jaw, the intermediate ones remote: six long, compressed, parallel teeth in the under jaw: the canine-teeth solitary; and the grinders somewhat lobated⁕1.

There are in the whole thirteen species; but it is only of one of these that we have hitherto been able to obtain any thing except mere description.

⁕1 Gmelin, i. 41.

Notes and Corrections: The Lemur Tribe

Today I learned . . . that there is no longer such a thing as a prosimian. Primates are currently divided into two suborders: one for most of what used to be called prosimians; another for monkeys, apes . . . and tarsiers. On the Formerly Known As Prosimians side, lemurs form one infraorder, divided into two superfamiles; lorises are in a different infraorder, containing two families, one of which is lorises and pottos. (The third infraorder consists of just one species, the aye-aye, best known for its ability to give you the finger like nobody’s business.)

engraving of “Slow Lemur” (slow loris), no later than 1804

Shaw Zoology Vol. I plate 29:
Slow Lemur


The Slow Lemur is about the size of a small Cat, Its body is of an elegant pale brown, or Mouse colour. The face is flattish, and the nose somewhat sharpened. The eyes are extremely prominent; they are surrounded with a circle of dark brown, and a stripe of the same colour runs down the middle of the back.—This animal is found in the Island of Ceylon, and in various parts of the East Indies.


It is very slow in its motions, and, from this circumstance, has actually been ranked by some Naturalists among the Sloths, though in no other respect resembling them. It is a nocturnal animal, and sleeps, or at least lies motionless, during the greatest part of the day. In captivity it will feed on boiled rice, small birds, or insects. Its odour is said to be disagreeable.

engraving of “Tail-less Macauco” (slow loris), no later than 1804

Bewick Quadrupeds page 409:
The Tail-less MACAUCO (top);
The MONGOOZ (bottom)

The late learned and accomplished Sir William Jones has given a pleasing general description of this little creature, in the fourth volume of the Asiatic Researches; and as it is always interesting to observe the habits of an animal, even in a domestic state, in its native country, I shall insert an extract from his curious paper.

“In his manners he was for the most part gentle, except in the cold season, when his temper seemed wholly changed; and his Creator, who made him so sensible of cold, to which he must often have been exposed even in his native forests, gave him, probably for that reason, his thick fur, which we rarely see on animals in these tropical climates. To me, who not only constantly fed him, but bathed him twice a week in water accommodated to the seasons, and whom he clearly distinguished from others, he was at all times grateful; but when I disturbed him in winter he was usually indignant, and seemed to reproach me with the uneasiness which he felt, though no possible precautions had been omitted to keep him in a proper degree of warmth. At all times he was pleased with being stroked on the head and throat, and frequently I.88 suffered me to touch his extremely sharp teeth; but his temper was always quick, and when he was unseasonably disturbed, he expressed a little resentment, by an obscure murmur, like that of a Squirrel, or a greater degree of displeasure by a peevish cry, especially in winter, when he was often as fierce, on being much importuned, as any beast of the woods.

“From half an hour after sun-rise to half an hour before sun-set, he slept without intermission, rolled up like a Hedgehog; and, as soon as he awoke, he began to prepare himself for the labours of his approaching day, licking and dressing himself like a Cat; an operation which the flexibility of his neck and limbs enabled him to perform very completely: he was then ready for a slight breakfast, after which he commonly took a short nap; but when the sun was quite set he recovered all his vivacity.

“His ordinary food was the sweet fruit of this country; plantains always, and mangoes during the season; but he refused peaches, and was not fond of mulberries, or even of guaiavas: milk he lapped eagerly, but was content with plain water. In general he was not voracious, but never appeared satisfied with Grasshoppers; and passed the whole night, while the hot season lasted, in prowling for them. When a Grasshopper, or any insect, alighted within his reach, his eyes, which he fixed on his prey, glowed with uncommon fire; and, having drawn himself back to spring on it with greater force, he seized the prey with both his fore-paws, but held it I.89 in one of them while he devoured it. For other purposes, and sometimes even for that of holding his food, he used all his paws indifferently as hands, and frequently grasped with one of them the higher part of his ample cage, while his three others were severally engaged at the bottom of it; but the posture of which he seemed fondest was to cling with all four of them to the upper wires, his body being inverted. In the evening he usually stood erect for many minutes, playing on the wires with his fingers, and rapidly moving his body from side to side, as if he had found the utility of exercise in his unnatural state of confinement.

“A little before day-break, when my early hours gave me frequent opportunities of observing him, he seemed to solicit my attention; and if I presented my finger to him he licked or nibbled it with great gentleness, but eagerly took fruit when I offered it; though he seldom ate much at his morning repast: when the day brought back his night, his eyes lost their lustre and strength, and he composed himself for a slumber of ten or eleven hours.

“My little friend was, on the whole, very engaging; and when he was found lifeless in the same posture in which he would naturally have slept, I consoled myself with believing that he died without much pain, and lived with as much pleasure as he could have enjoyed in a state of captivity.”

In the year 1755, M. D’Obsonville purchased one of these animals of an Indian. He was very slow in his motions, so that even when he seemed I.90 desirous of moving fast, he scarcely went above six or eight yards in a minute. His voice was a kind of whistling, by no means unpleasant. When his prey was attempted to be taken from him, his countenance changed to an appearance expressive of chagrin, and he inwardly uttered a tremulous, acute, and painful note. He was melancholy, silent, and patient. He generally slept daring the day with his head resting upon his hands, and his elbows between his thighs. But in the midst of this sleep, although his eyes were closed, he was exceedingly sensible to all impressions from without, and never neglected to seize whatever prey came inconsiderately within his reach. Though the glare of sun-shine was very unpleasant to him, it was never observed that the pupils of his eyes suffered any contraction.

During the first month he was kept with a cord tied round his waist, which, without attempting to untie, he sometimes lifted up with an air of grief. M. D’Obsonville took charge of him himself, and at the beginning he was bitten four or five times for offering to disturb or take him up; but gentle chastisement soon corrected these little passions, and he afterwards gave him the liberty of his bed-chamber. Towards night the little animal would rub his eyes, then looking attentively round, would climb upon the furniture, or more frequently upon ropes placed for the purpose.

Sometimes M. D’Obsonville would tie a bird in the part of the chamber opposite to him, or hold it in his hand in order to invite him to approach: he would presently come near with a long careful step, I.91 like a person walking on tip-toe, to surprize another. When within a foot of his prey he would stop, and raising himself upright, advance gently, stretching out his paw, then, at once seizing, would strangle it with remarkable celerity.

He perished by an accident. He appeared much attached to his master, who always used to carress him after feeding. His return of affection consisted in taking the end of M. D’Obsonville’s fingers, pressing them, and at the same time fixing his half-open eyes on those of his master⁕1.

Two of these animals, which Thevenot saw in the East, were brought from Ceylon. When examined, they would stand on their hind feet. They often embraced each other, and looked stedfastly on the numerous spectators that visited them, without seeming in the least alarmed⁕2.

Synonyms.—Lemur Tardigradus. Linn.—Tailless Macauco. Penn. Syn.—Loris. Buffon: the name given to it by the Dutch.—Thevangua or Tatonneur. D’Obsonville.—Slow Lemur. Shaw.——Shaw’s Gen. Zool. pl. 29. Bew. Quad. 409.

⁕1 D’Obsonville, 370-373.

⁕2 Relation, iii. 217.

Notes and Corrections: The Slow Lemur

Lemur tardigradus is now Nycticebus coucang, the slow loris.

[Synonyms] Thevangua or Tatonneur
text has The-/Vangua at line break
[The first edition, where the word also comes at a line break, has “The-/vangua”; the Index consistently has “Thevangua”.]

The late learned and accomplished Sir William Jones . . . in the fourth volume of the Asiatic Researches
[Learned and accomplished indeed, since this is the self-same William Jones who first proposed the Indo-European language family. In 1784 he founded the Asiatic Society of Bengal, which published Asiatic Researches. By 1804 he was not all that late, having died ten years earlier.]

or even of guaiavas:
spelling unchanged


These very singular animals would seem at first sight to hold a kind of middle station between the Quadrupeds and Birds. It is however only in their power of raising themselves into the air by means of the membranes which extend round their body, that they are in the least allied to the latter, whilst with I.92 the other they claim a place, from their structure, both externally and internally.

Bats have erect sharp-pointed teeth, placed near together. Their fore-toes are lengthened, and connected by the membranes which perform the office of wings⁕1.

Their structure cannot be contemplated without admiration, the bones of the extremities being continued into long and thin processes, connected by a most delicately formed membrane or skin, capable, from its thinness, of being contracted at pleasure into innumerable wrinkles, so as to lie in a small space when the animal is at rest, and to be stretched to a very wide extent for occasional flight.—Should a specu­lative Philosopher, not aware of the anatomical impossibility of success, attempt, by means of light machinery, to exercise the power of flight, he could not hit on a more plausible idea than that of copying the structure described. Accordingly, a celebrated author has represented a sage theorist busied in imitating, for this purpose, “the folding continuity of the wing of the Bat⁕2.”—Although this membrane enables the Bat, after it has once raised itself from the ground, which it does with some difficulty, to flit along the air, yet all its motions, when compared with those of birds, are clumsy and awkward; and, in walking, its feet appear so entangled with its wings, that it seems scarcely able to drag its body along.

⁕1 Linn. Gmel. i. 45.

⁕2 Shaw’s Gen. Zool. i. 122.

Notes and Corrections: The Bat Tribe

Bats are order Chiroptera (“hand-wing”). They appear at this point in Bingley because Linnaeus classified them with the primates. Linnaeus’s genus name, Vespertilio, is now confined to “particolored bats”; it is the flagship of tribe Vesper­tilionini, subfamily Vesper­tilioninae and family Vesper­tilionidae (evening bats).


engraving of Long-Eared Bat, no later than 1804

Shaw Zoology Vol. I plate 40:
Long Eared Bat


The long-eared Bat is only an inch and three-quarters in length, while the extent of its wings is seven inches. Its ears are above an inch long, very thin, and almost transparent; and within each there is a kind of secondary auricle, or membrane, resembling an ear, so placed as to serve for a valve or guard to the auditory passage.—This is one of the most common of the British Bats, and one of those that we often see flitting about in search of insects, in the fine evenings of summer and autumn.

All the European species of Bats pass the winter, from the absence of their insect prey, in a torpid state, without either food or motion, suspended in some dark place, in old ruins, caverns, or in the hollows of decayed trees. During the time they remain in this state, most of the animal functions are so far suspended, as scarcely to be perceptible. The action of the heart and arteries becomes so exceedingly languid, that the pulse can hardly be felt: if respiration be at all carried on, it is also so very slow as scarcely to be discoverable. The natural temperature, or animal heat, gets greatly below the usual standard; and digestion becomes altogether suspended. All the visible excretions are at a stand; and none of the functions seem to go on, excepting a very slow degree of nutrition, and an interchange I.94 of old for new matter in the depositary cells of the body: this last is proved by the animals’ entering into the torpid state very fat, and reviving excessively emaciated; and from this it appears that the oil, in the fatty follicles of the cellular membrane, is gradually taken up by the absorbent vessels into the languid circulation, to supply the proportionally gradual waste, occasioned by the more than half suspended action of the emunctories⁕1.—They retire at the end of summer to their hiding places, where, generally in great numbers, they remain suspended by the hind-legs, and enveloped in their wings⁕2.

engraving of Long-Eared Bat, no later than 1804

Bewick Quadrupeds page 476:
The Long-Eared BAT

The Bat, like the Mouse, is capable of being tamed to a certain degree; and we are told by Mr. White, that he was once much amused with the sight of a tame Bat. “It would take Flies out of a person’s hand. If you gave it any thing to eat, it brought its wings round before the mouth, hovering and hiding its head in the manner of birds of prey when they feed. The adroitness it shewed in shearing off the wings of the Flies, (which were always rejected) was worthy of observation, and pleased me much. Insects seemed to be most acceptable, though it did not refuse raw flesh when offered; so that the notion that Bats go down chimnies, and gnaw people’s bacon, seems no improbable story. While I amused myself with this I.95 wonderful quadruped, I saw it several times, confute the vulgar opinion that Bats, when down on a flat surface cannot get on the wing again, by rising with great ease from the floor. It ran, I observed, with more dispatch than I was aware of, but in a most ridiculous and grotesque manner⁕3.”

From experiments made by Spallanzani, on the Long-eared, the Horse-shoe, and the Noctule Bats, it appears that these animals possess some additional sense, which enables them, when deprived of sight, to avoid obstacles as readily as when they retained the power of vision. When their eyes were covered, or even put entirely out, they would fly about in a darkened chamber without ever hitting against the walls, and always suspend their flight with caution when they came to a place where they could perch. In the middle of a dark sewer, that turned at right angles, they would always, though at a considerable distance from the walls, regularly bend their flight with the greatest nicety. When branches of trees were suspended in a room, they always avoided them; and flew betwixt threads hung perpendicularly from the ceiling, though these were so near each other, that they had to contract their wings in passing through them ⁕4. Mr. Jurin supposes that the sense which enables them to perform these unaccountable operations is lodged in the expanded I.96 nerves on the nose⁕5; but on that of the present, and several other species, the membrane in which these end, is wanting. Some have supposed, however, that this power of avoiding obstacles in the dark is dependant principally on their ears; for when the ears of the blinded Bats were closed, they hit against the sides of the room, and did not seem at all aware of their situation.

Several of the present species were collected together for the purpose of the above experiments, and they were preserved in a box for more than a week. They refused every species of food for several days. During the day-time they were extremely desirous of retirement and darkness, and, while confined to the box, never moved or endeavoured to get out while it was light; and, when spread on the carpet, they commonly rested for a few minutes, and then beginning to look about, crawled slowly to a dark corner or crevice. At sunset the scene was quite changed; every one then endeavoured to scratch its way out of the box; a continued chirping was kept up, and no sooner was the lid of the prison opened, than each was active to escape, either flying away immediately, or running nimbly to a convenient place for taking wing. When these Bats were first collected, several of the females had young ones clinging to the breast in the act of sucking. One of them flew with perfect ease, though two little ones were thus attached to I.97 her, which weighed nearly as much as their parent. All the young were devoid of down, and of a black colour⁕6.

From Linnæus we learn, that the female makes no nest for her young, as most birds and quadrupeds do. She is content with the first hole she finds, where, sticking herself by her hooks against the sides of her apartment, she permits her young to hang at the nipple, and in this manner continues for the first or second day. When, after some time, the dam begins to grow hungry, and finds a necessity of stirring abroad, she takes her little ones off and sticks them to the wall, in the manner she before hung herself, where they immoveably cling, and patiently wait till her return.

Bats may be caught by throwing into the air the heads of Burdock, whitened with flour. Either mistaking these for prey, or dashing casually against them, they are caught by the hooked prickles, and brought to the ground⁕7.

Synonyms.—Vespertilio Auritus. Linn.—Long-eared English Bat. Edwards.—Oreillar. Buffon.—Long-eared Bat. Penn.——Shaw’s Gen. Zool. pl. 40.—Bew. Quad. 476.

⁕1 These observations apply to all those animals, of every description, that go into a torpid state during winter.

⁕2 Kerr, i. 94.

⁕3 Natural History of Selborne.

⁕4 These remarks appeared in a small work, entitled “An Account of Some species of Bats which, when deprived of sight, perform their movements in the air as if they saw; a faculty not possessed by other birds, under the same circumstances.”

⁕5 Journal de Physique, for 1798.

⁕6 Shaw’s Gen. Zool. i. 129.

⁕7 Linn. Gmel. i. 48.

Notes and Corrections: The Long-Eared Bat

Vespertilio auritus is now Plecotus auritus, the brown big-eared bat.

but in a most ridiculous and grotesque manner.”
close quote missing

a small work, entitled “An Account of Some species of Bats which, when deprived of sight, perform their movements in the air as if they saw; a faculty not possessed by other birds, under the same circumstances.”
[Deduction: The Abstract had not been invented yet, so scholars had to cram all their information into the title.]

engraving of “Vampyre Bat” (flying fox), no later than 1804

Shaw Zoology Vol. I plate 44:
Vampyre Bat


The Vampyre Bat is in general about a foot long, and in the extent of its wings near four feet; but it is sometimes found larger, and specimens have been seen of six feet in extent. Its general colour is a I.98 deep reddish brown. The head is shaped like that of a Fox; the nose is sharp and black, and the tongue pointed and terminated by sharp prickles. The ears are naked, blackish, and pointed; and the wings similar in colour to those of the Common Bat⁕1.

These animals are found in several parts of the East Indies, and in all the Indian islands; in New Holland, the Friendly Isles, New Caledonia, and South America.—They fly from sun-set to sun-rise, and reside during the day in the hollow trees. They are not carnivorous, but live principally on fruit, and are so fond of the juice of the palm tree, that they will intoxicate themselves with it till they fall senseless to the ground. They skim the water with perfect ease in their sportive moods, and frequently dip into it to wash themselves. Mr. Forster and several other writers inform us that they swarm like Bees, hanging near one another in vast clusters. At least five hundred were seen by this gentleman, hanging, some by their fore, and others by their hind legs, in a large tree, in one of the Friendly islands⁕2. Finch says, that “they hang by the claws to the bows of trees near Surat, in such vast clusters, as would surprise a man to see; and the noise and squealing they make is so intolerable, that ’twere a good deed to bring two or three pieces of ordnance, and scour the trees, that the country might be rid of such a plague as they are to it⁕3.” In a I.99 small island, one of the Philippines, Dampier tells us that he saw an incredible number of Bats, so large that none of his company could reach from tip to tip of their wings, with their arms extended to the utmost. The wings were of a mouse colour, and on the joints were sharp crooked claws. In the evening, as soon as the sun was set, he says, these animals used to take their flight in swarms, like Bees, to a neighbouring island; and they were seen to continue in immense numbers, till darkness rendered them no longer visible. The whole of the time from day-break in the morning till sunrise, they occupied in returning to their former place; and this course they constantly pursued all the time the ship remained stationed off that island⁕4.

At Rose Hill, near Port Jackson, in New Holland, it is supposed that more than twenty thousand of these animals were seen within the space of a mile⁕5.—Some that were taken alive in New Holland, would almost immediately after eat boiled rice, and other food from the hand; and in a few days became as domestic as if they had been entirely bred in the house. Governor Phillip had a female, which would hang by one leg a whole day without changing its position, and in that pendant situation, with its breast neatly covered with one of its wings, it would eat whatever was offered to it, lapping from the hand like a cat⁕6.

Linnæus has given to this Bat the specific denomination of Vampyrus, for his conjecturing it to be I.100 the species that draws blood from people during their sleep⁕7: but there is reason to imagine, that this thirst for blood is not confined to a single species, but is common to most of the Bat tribe. We are informed that the Bats of Java seldom fail to attack those persons who lie with their extremities uncovered, whenever they can get access to them. Persons thus attacked, have sometimes been near passing from a sound sleep into eternity. The Bat is so dexterous a bleeder as to insinuate its aculeated tongue into a vein without being perceived, and then suck the blood till it is satiated; all the while fanning with its wings, and agitating the air, in that hot climate in so pleasing a manner, as to throw the sufferer into a still sounder sleep.—These animals do not, however, confine themselves to human blood, for M. Condamine, in his voyage to South America, says, that in his time they had, in certain parts, destroyed all the great cattle introduced there by the Missionaries.

Capt. Stedman, whilst in Surinam, was attacked during his sleep by a Vampyre Bat; and as his account of this incident is somewhat singular, and tends to elucidate the fact, I shall extract it in the language of his own narrative. “I cannot here (says he,) forbear relating a singular circumstance respecting myself, viz. that on waking about four o’clock one morning in my hammock, I was extremely alarmed at finding myself weltering in congealed blood, and without feeling any pain whatever. Having started up, and rung for I.101 the surgeon, with a fire-brand in one hand, and all over besmeared with gore; to which, if added my pale face, short hair, and tattered apparel, he might well ask the question,

‘Be thou a spirit of health, or goblin damn’d,

‘Bring with thee airs of heav’n, or blasts from hell!’

The mystery, however, was, that I had been bitten by the Vampyre, or Spectre of Guiana, which is also called the Flying Dog of New Spain, and by the Spaniards Perro-volador; this is no other than a Bat, of a monstrous size, that sucks the blood from men and cattle while they are fast asleep, even sometimes till they die; and as the manner in which they proceed is truly wonderful, I shall endeavour to give a distinct account of it.—Knowing, by instinct, that the person they intend to attack is in a sound slumber, they generally alight near the feet, where, while the creature continues fanning with his enormous wings, which keeps one cool, he bites a piece out of the tip of the great toe, so very small indeed, that the head of a pin could scarcely be received into the wound, which is consequently not painful: yet through this orifice he continues to suck the blood, until he is obliged to disgorge. He then begins again, and thus continues sucking and disgorging till he is scarcely able to fly, and the sufferer has often been known to sleep from time into eternity. Cattle they generally bite in the ear, but always in places where the blood flows spontaneously. Having applied tobacco ashes as the best remedy, and washed the gore from myself and my hammock, I observed several small heaps of I.102 congealed blood all round the place where I had lain, upon the ground; on examining which, the surgeon judged that I had lost at least twelve or fourteen ounces during the night⁕8.”

The smell of these creatures is stronger and more rank than that of a Fox⁕9; yet the Indians eat them, and declare their flesh to be excellent food. They become excessively fat at certain times of the year, and it is then that they are said to be the most delicious. The French, who reside in the isle of Bourbon, boil them in their bouillon, to give it a relish!

In New Caledonia the natives use the hair of these animals in the making of ropes, and in the tassels of their clubs; interweaving it with the threads of Cyperus squarrosus⁕10.

Synonyms.—Vespertilio vampyrus. Linn.—Ternate Bat. Penn.—Great Bat. Edwards.—Rousette. Buffon.Pero volador, in New Spain. Stedman.——Shaw’s Gen. Zool. pl. 44.

⁕1 Shaw, i. 145.

⁕2 Forster’s Observations on Cook’s second Voyage, 189.

⁕3 Finch’s Travels into the East, in Harris’s Collection, i. 84.

⁕4 Dampier.

⁕5 Hunter, 507.

⁕6 Ibid.

⁕7 Linn. Gmel. 145.

⁕8 Narrative of an Expedition to Surinam.

⁕9 Hunter.

⁕10 Penn. Quad. ii. 550.

Notes and Corrections: The Vampyre Bat

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Vespertilio vampyrus is now Pteropus vampyrus, the large flying fox. (Vampire bats by that name are subfamily Desmodontinae of family Phyllostomidae, with three genera.) In spite of the vampyrus, flying foxes are fruit bats.

[Synonyms] Pero volador, in New Spain.
spelling unchanged
[A few pages further along, it becomes clear that he means perro; from flying fox to flying dog is no great leap.]

the Friendly Isles
[Tonga. Not a bad name, though.]

there is reason to imagine, that this thirst for blood is not confined to a single species, but is common to most of the Bat tribe
[In the course of the book, it will become clear that William Bingley is always ready to believe any description, of any animal what­soever, that involves sucking blood.]

Having started up, and rung for the surgeon
text has for / for at page break

to the

Those marked with an * are varieties of some other species; and those printed in Italics are Synonyms.

Aigrette 65
Ape-tribe 35
—— Oran Otan 40
—— Barbary 52
—— pigmy 55
—— Baboon, common 57
—— —— dog-faced 60
—— —— * ursine 61
—— Monkey, Egret 65
—— —— green 66
—— —— Chinese 67
—— —— striated 69
—— —— preacher 70
—— —— four-fingered 75
—— —— fearful 78
—— —— squirrel 79
—— —— Cingalese 80
Ape Barris 40
—— Chimpanzee 40
—— Drill 40
—— great 40
—— Jocko 40
—— Magot 52
—— Man of the Woods 40
—— Momenet 52
—— Pitheque 55
—— Pongo 40
—— Smitten 40
—— yellow 52
Baboon, howling 70
—— mottled 57
—— Papion 57
—— Tartarin 60
Monkey, Aigrette 65
—— Bonnet Chinois 67
—— bush-tailed 78
—— Caitaia 79
—— Callitriche 66
—— Coaita 75
—— Guariba 70
—— Keesee-keesee 79
—— Lesser Cagui 69
—— Micoo 75
—— orange 79
—— L’Ouarine 70
—— Oustiti 69
—— Quato 75
—— Rollewai 80
—— Saimiri 79
—— Sanglin 69
—— Sajou 78
—— spider 75
Barris 40
Baboon 57
—— common 57
—— dog-faced 60
—— ursine 61
—— howling 70
—— mottled 57
—— Papion 57
—— Tartarian 60
Bat Tribe 91
—— long-eared 93
—— vampyre 97
—— great 97
—— long-eared English 93
—— Oreillar 93
—— Perro volador 97
—— Roussette 97
—— ternate 97
Bonnet Chináis 67
Cagui, lesser 69
Caitaia 79
Callitriche 66
Chimpanzee 40
Coaita 75
Drill 40
Guariba 70
Jocko 40
Keesee-keesee 79
Lemur Tribe 86
—— slow 86
—— Tailless Macauco 86
—— Loris 86
—— Thevangua, or Tatonneur 86
Loris 86
Macauco, tailless 86
Magot 52
Man of the Woods 40
Micoo 75
Momenet 52
Monkey, Egret 65
—— green 66
—— Chinese 67
—— striated 69
—— preacher 70
—— four-fingered 75
—— fearful 78
—— squirrel 79
—— Cingalese 80
—— Aigrette 65
—— Bonnet Chinoise 67
—— bush-tailed 78
—— Caitaia 79
—— Callitriche 66
—— Coaita 75
—— Guariba 70
—— Keesee-keesee 79
—— Lesser Cagui 69
—— Micoo 75
—— Orange 79
—— Oustiti 69
—— L’Ouarine 70
—— Quato 75
—— Rollewai 80
—— Saimiri 79
—— Sajou 78
—— Sanglin 69
—— spider 75
Oran Otan 40
Oreillar 93
L’Ouarine 70
Oustiti 69
Papion 57
Pero volador 97
Pitheque 55
Pongo 40
Quato 75
Rollewai 80
Roussetie 97
Saimiri 79
Sajou 78
Sanglin 69
Smitten 40
Tartarin 60
Tatonneur 86
Thevangua 86


Simia Genus 35
—— Satyrus 40
—— Inuus 52
—— Sylvanus 55
—— Sphinx 57
—— Hamadryas 60
—— —— var. 61
—— Aygula 65
—— Sabæa 66
—— Sinica 67
—— Iacchus 69
—— Beelzebul 70
—— Paniscus 75
—— Trepida 78
—— Sciurea 79
—— Troglodytes 40
Lemur Genus 86
—— Tardigradus 86
Vespertilio Genus 91
—— Auritus 93
—— Vampyrus 97

The original of this text is in the public domain—at least in the U.S.
My notes are copyright, as are all under-the-hood elements.
If in doubt, ask.