From the unsuspecting credulity with which this textbook of the naturalists of the middle ages continued to be received, it is evident that the science remained stationary, if it did not actually retrograde, during the lapse of fourteen or fifteen centuries. The want of[xiii] opportunities of investigation may be regarded as the principal cause of this lamentable deficiency. Some of the rarer animals, it is true, were occasionally to be seen in Europe; but Menageries constructed upon a broad and comprehensive plan were as yet unknown. The first establishment of modern days, in which such a plan can fairly be said to have been realised, was the Menagerie founded at Versailles by Louis the Fourteenth. It is to this institution that we owe the Natural History of Buffon and his coadjutor Daubenton; the one as eloquent as Pliny, with little of his credulity, but with a greater share of imagination; and the other a worthy follower of Aristotle in his habits of minute research and patient investigation, but making no pretensions to the powerful and comprehensive mind and the admirable facility of generalising his ideas which so preeminently distinguished that great philosopher.
This sullen and forbidding-looking animal, the most ravenous and ferocious that infests the more temperate regions of the earth, of many parts of which he is the terror and the scourge, is distinguished from the humble, generous, and faithful friend of man, the domestic dog, by no very remarkable or striking character; and yet there is something in his physiognomy, gait, and habit, which is at once so peculiar and so repulsive, that it would be almost impossible to confound a Wolf, however tame, with the most savage and the most wolflike of dogs. For the separation of the two species, Linn?us, as we have seen in the preceding article, had recourse to the tail; and having determined that that of the dog was uniformly curved upwards, he attributed to that of the Wolf a completely opposite direction, that is to say, a curvature inwards; assigning, at the same time, a straight or a deflected position to those of all the other animals of the group. The deflected, or down-pointing, direction is, however, equally common in the Wolf with the incurved; and this petty distinction, which has little to do with structure, and still less with habits, is hardly deserving of serious attention. More obvious and more essential differences will be found in the cast of his countenance, which derives a peculiar expression from the obliquity of his eyes; in the breadth of his head, suddenly contracting into a slender and pointed muzzle; in the size and power of his teeth, which are comparatively greater than those of any dog of equal stature; in the stiffness and want of pliability of his limbs; in his uniformly straight and pointed ears; and in a black stripe which almost constantly, and in nearly every variety of the species, occupies the front of the fore leg of the adult. His fur, which differs considerably in texture and colour, from the influence of climate and of seasons, is commonly of a grayish yellow, the shades of which are variously intermingled; as he advances in age it becomes lighter, and in high northern latitudes frequently turns completely white, a change which also takes place in many other animals inhabiting the polar regions.
Macrocercus Ararauna. Vieill.
It was in the commencement of the year 1823, when the General was on service in Bengal, that being out one morning on horseback, armed with a double-barrelled rifle, he was suddenly surprised by a large male Lion, which bounded out upon him from the thick jungle at the distance of only a few yards. He instantly fired, and, the shot taking complete effect, the animal fell dead almost at his feet. No sooner was this formidable foe thus disposed of than a second, equally terrible, made her appearance in the person of the Lioness, whom the General also shot at and wounded so dangerously that she retreated into the thicket. As her following so immediately in the footsteps of her mate afforded strong grounds for suspecting that their den could not be far distant, he determined upon pursuing the adventure to the end, and traced her to her retreat, where he completed the work of her destruction, by again discharging the contents of one of the barrels of his rifle, which he had reloaded for the purpose. In the den were found a beautiful pair of cubs, male and female, supposed to be then not more than three days old. These the General brought away with him, and succeeded by the assistance of a goat, who was prevailed upon to act in the capacity of foster-mother to the royal pair, in rearing them until they attained sufficient age and strength to enable them to bear the voyage to England. On their arrival in this country, in September, 1823, he presented them to his Majesty, who commanded them to be placed in the Tower. The male of this pair is the subject of the present, the female that of the succeeding article.
The Jaguar is generally said to be quite untameable, and to maintain his savage ferocity even in a state of captivity, showing no symptoms of attachment to those who have the care of him. This assertion is amply contradicted by the fact that an individual confined in the Paris Menagerie, was exceedingly mild in his temper, and particularly fond of licking the hands of those with whom he was familiar; as was also remarkably the case with the specimen lately in the Tower, whose portrait ornaments the present article. This animal was obtained by Lord Exmouth while on the American station, and accompanied the expedition to Algiers at the memorable bombardment of that nest of pirates. On his return to England, his Lordship gave it to the Marchioness of Londonderry, who soon afterwards presented it to his Majesty, by whose order it was placed in the Tower; where it continued until a short time since, when it unfortunately died. Mr. Cops is, however, in expectation of being soon enabled to replace it. It was exhibited under the name of the Panther, an appellation which we have before stated that the Jaguar had erroneously obtained, not only among the furriers, by whom it is universally so called, but even among scientific zoologists.