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.
From the strongly marked group, to the illustration of various species of which the foregoing pages have been dedicated, we pass by a natural and easy transition to an animal, which, although closely resembling them in its zoological characters, and in the cowardly ferocity of its disposition, bears nevertheless a stronger affinity to the dogs, with which it was associated by Linn?us. From each of these groups it is, however, readily distinguished by several obvious and essential characters, of sufficient importance to sanction its separation as a genus, now universally adopted among naturalists.
The Pelican is one of the largest water-birds, considerably exceeding the size of the swan, and frequently measuring from five to six feet between the extremity of the bill and that of the tail, and from ten to twelve between the tips of the expanded wings. Its bill is nearly a foot and a half in length, and from an inch and a half to two inches broad; and its pouch is capable of containing, when stretched to its utmost extent, two or three gallons of water. The quantity of fish which it sometimes accumulates in the same serviceable repository is spoken of as enormous. Notwithstanding their great bulk and apparent clumsiness, the large extent of their wings, and the extreme lightness of their bones, which are so thin as to be almost transparent, enable these birds to rise to a lofty pitch in the air, to hover at a moderate elevation, or to skim rapidly along the surface of the water with as much facility as they dive into its depths in pursuit of their prey. They sometimes assemble in large numbers, and in this case are said by Buffon to act in concert, and to show no little skill in man?uvring with the view of securing a plentiful quarry, forming themselves into a circular line, and gradually narrowing the extent of the space enclosed, until they have driven the fishes into so small a compass as to render them a certain prey; when at a given signal they all at once plunge into the water and seize upon their terrified victims, filling their pouches with the spoil, and flying to the land, there to devour it at their leisure. This fishery is carried on both at sea and in fresh water.
The colour of the common Baboon is reddish brown; his face and hands are black, and his upper eyelids white. The hair of his cheeks forms a considerable tuft on each side; and the under surface of his body is but sparingly covered. In bulk he is equal to a middle sized dog; his proportions are thickset and inelegant; but he is by no means dull or inactive. When young, he is gay, playful, and docile; but as he grows older he becomes untractable, malicious, and ferocious. He is sometimes even dangerous, his muscular strength and agility, together with the great power of his teeth and jaws, rendering him a formidable opponent. On this account it is absolutely necessary to keep him strictly confined. He is a native of Africa, and more especially of the tropical parts of its western coast.
THE BENGAL LION.
With regard to the sub-orbital sinus, which in this and all the neighbouring species is of very considerable size, its uses are evidently connected with the function of respiration, and probably also with the sense of smell. It is denoted externally by a longitudinal fissure, placed beneath the inner angle of each of the eyes, and leading into a sac or cavity, which in some cases communicates internally with the nose; and its inner surface is lined by a membrane abundantly supplied with follicles for the secretion of mucus, which is sometimes produced in very large quantities. This latter circumstance has induced some naturalists to regard these openings as mere cuticular appendages. That they really, in some species at least, communicate with the nostrils, is proved by the observations of Mr. White of Selbourne, who states that in consequence of this communication the Fallow-Deer are enabled to take long-continued draughts with their noses deeply immersed in the water, the air in the mean time passing through the sub-orbital slits. So singular a statement was naturally enough doubted and called in question; but it has never, so far as we know, been impugned on ocular testimony; while it has received the fullest confirmation from other observations made upon the very species now under consideration, in which the air passing from the sub-orbital sinus, while the animal drinks, may be felt by the hand, and even affects the flame of a candle. Another proof of the connexion of these cavities with the nose is derived from the fact that the animals which are provided with them frequently apply their orifices, equally with those of the nostrils, to the food which they are about to take, opening and shutting them with great rapidity.
Notwithstanding the brutal voracity of his habits and the savage fierceness of his disposition, there is scarcely any animal that submits with greater facility to the control of man. In captivity, especially when taken young, a circumstance on which much depends in the domestication of all wild animals, he is capable of being rendered exceedingly tame, and even serviceable. In some parts of Southern Africa the spotted species, which is by nature quite as ferocious in his temper as the striped inhabitant of the North, has been domiciliated in the houses of the peasantry, among whom he is preferred to the dog himself for attachment to his master, for general sagacity, and even, it is said, for his qualifications for the chase. That the Striped Hy?na might be rendered equally useful is highly probable from the docility and attachment which he manifests towards his keepers, especially when allowed a certain degree of liberty, which he shows no disposition to abuse. If more closely restricted his savage nature sometimes returns upon him; and it is for this reason that those which are carried about the country from fair to fair, pent up in close caravans, frequently become surly and even dangerous. The individual whose portrait we give is, on the contrary, remarkably tame; he is a native of the East Indies, and is confined in the same den with one of the American Bears, as we shall have occasion to notice more particularly when speaking of the latter animal.
The habits of the Ichneumons are very similar to those of the ferret. In the localities where they abound, their sanguinary disposition and predatory inclinations render them a real pest to the farm-yard, to which they pay their nocturnal visits for the purpose of destroying the poultry. They also make war upon rats, birds, and reptiles, and devour the eggs of the latter with the greatest avidity. Endowed with a remarkable degree of courage in proportion to their size, they do not hesitate to attack any animal that is not obviously more than a match for them. Even in captivity they retain much of their native spirit; and so great is their activity and determination that the individual now in the Tower actually on one occasion killed no fewer than a dozen full grown rats, which were loosed to it in a room sixteen feet square, in less than a minute and a half. They are very easily tamed, become attached to those with whom they are familiar and to the house in which they live, and will follow their master about almost like a dog.