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(The Dromedary House.)
THERE is a rapidly increasing taste for the study of Zoology, which has been greatly promoted by the institution of Zoological Societies and Menageries in various parts, especially in this country by the Gardens in the Regent's Park. These gardens, indeed, contain the greatest number of animals and birds that was ever collected, being equally fitted to convey scientific information, relieve the tedium of professional attention, and satisfy the cravings of a rational curiosity, while they serve to instruct the ignorant, and to awaken the minds of the young. These gardens, indeed, possess an attraction which it is not easy to describe or to exaggerate, not only from the delight they are calculated to confer in the study of animated nature, but also in the many beautiful plants with which they are stocked. The highest cultivation is every where evident; and elegance and good taste reign around. Accordingly, the art of gardening, with all its improvements, has been here completely brought into requisition; so that on a fine day, when the sun pours forth the fulness of his radiance, tinging every object around with golden beauty, there are few imaginable promenades more agreeable. The large attendance of the educated portions of the community is another most important invitation and source of intellectual, as well as social pleasure and enjoyment.
The purpose in visiting such a place as the Zoological Gardens in Regent's Park, must directly be either the lasting benefit of real instruction, or the delight of rational amusement, or both. If the first of these, a notice also is to be recommended, however cursory, of the several objects of beauty and interest around; seeing that the human mind is so constituted that unrelieved labour is seldom profitable. But if pleasure and a transient entertainment only be the motive of the visitor's attendance, as is no doubt very often the case, let him also be persuaded that the counsel to allow a spice of improvement to be included will be found to have permanent pleasure and amusement for a result.
Time spent solely in pleasure is generally experienced, upon after thought, to have imposed a deception on the mind, and will appear at best to have been little gain, if not a decided loss and injury. On the other hand, pleasure in these gardens, if the time and thing be rightly employed, will not merely exist during the actual period of inspection, but ever after will be a source of double enjoyment,-enjoyment of the information derived, and a pleasing retrospect of hours gone by. But, exclusive of this future good,
the enjoyment will be very greatly enhanced during the actual inspection, by that very mode of observation through which information is best to be derived, in consequence not only of scanning each object and individual of the congregated families, but of the mode in which they are combined and arranged.
There must be a great satisfaction ministered to the natural and rational curiosity of an observer, when he obtains the sight of creatures strange to our clime and notions, brought from those distant lands of which from childhood he has heard so much, carrying out his imagination with redoubled vividness to the far-off regions, and making him, to some extent, familiar with their denizens. In his mind's eye he may track the pathless desert and sandy waste; he may climb amid the romantic solitudes, the towering peaks, and wilder crags of the Himalayan range, and wander through the green vales of that lofty chain whose lowest depths are higher than the summits of the European mountains; or he may peer among the dark lagoons of the African rivers, enshrouded by forests whose rank green foliage excludes the rays of even a tropical sun; or he may trace the foot-prints of the wild Indian through the broad savannahs, and thick-set jungles, and everlasting forests of the New World; or penetrate the remarkable yet half-home scenery of the Australian continent.
Better still, he will have the opportunity of observing the greatness, and goodness, and wisdom of that God wonderfully displayed, who has made nothing for nought, and who has with such certainty and truth adapted everything for its desired object. The observation of the form, the colours, the clothing, and all the other appendages and attributes of these animals, will lead his mind to the conviction that "His power is infinite, and His ways past finding out." This train of thought, indeed, will not only be sufficient to fill the soul with the truest present enjoyment, but lead the faculties to their utmost stretch. What a beautiful harmony, for example, will be found to pervade all nature; and the designs of Providence will appear more and more reasonable the more closely they are studied!
There is one other general view which may properly be taken in this preliminary view. The nature of our climate has rendered the difficulty of preservation in a living and healthy state in some cases almost insurmountable, and several valuable animals have been lost in consequence. Nevertheless, this obstacle, this ground of despair in some cases, is now not so often experienced as in former years. Skill and practice in the management of the creatures have enabled the directors and keepers, both in respect of the dwellings, and in the feeding and treatment of many of their occupants, to discover those peculiarities by which the comfort of the speci
mens themselves has been promoted, while, at the same time, the value of the menagerie has been enhanced. The number of deaths has been considerably reduced.
The Dromedary House, in warm weather, is an attractive point in the gardens; and therefore some account of the animal shall be now given. Zoologists distinguish the species of camel with one hump as the drome. dary, though the term can only be properly applied to a very swift species of camel. A dromedary is to a camel what a racer is to a draught-horse. There are one-humped and two-humped dromedaries, and one-humped and twohumped camels. In short, the proper difference of the species is, that the one is swift and the other slow; and that although the dromedary is used as a beast of burden, it is much more frequently employed as one of passage, on account of its great speed on errands requiring dispatch. It is said to be used in some parts of Asia for the purposes of cavalry warfare, instead of the horse.
The dromedary is spread over Arabia, the northern district of Africa, Egypt, Abyssinia, Persia, Southern Tartary, and parts of India; and here he has formed the best possession of the people from the patriarchal ages. This species has likewise been reared at Pisa, in Italy, for two centuries past, though the breed has degenerated, and the animals become much weaker than those of the East. The Bactrian camel, with two humps, is much more rare; and this species is principally met with in Turkistan, which is the ancient Bactria, and in Thibet, as far as the frontiers of China.
Dromedaries are divided into a great number of breeds or varieties, all, nevertheless, dependent on trivial distinctions of colour, size, and form. In height they do not exceed seven feet. Those of Turkey are the strongest and best suited for burthen, and (those of Arabia and Barbary the lightest. Their bodies are usually very lean, and covered with hair, which is very short on the fore part of the muzzle, longer on the top of the head, and almost tufty on the neck and parts of the fore-legs, "on the back, and on the hump, which it entirely covers. The tail is thick with hair, and has a long tufty termination. The colour of the hair, as already intimated, varies, being either white, with a rosy tinge, grey, bay, or blackish dark brown. The hair is renewed yearly towards the commencement of summer; it is of two sorts, one fine, woolly and frizzled, the other long and straight; both are well known in manufactures by the names of Mohair and Camlet.
The structure of the camel's tooth indicates a predilection for food not obtained by grazing, but by browsing on shrubs, leaves, and branches, which it requires powerful means to tear down and masticate; and though
in Europe the camel will eat fodder, in his native regions he lives on bitter artemisia, thistles, mimosas, and other thorny substances, with his divided upper lip turning them into the mouth with great dexterity.
We are acquainted with the camel only in his domesticated condition. His services as a beast of burthen are coeval with his earliest mention. He is emphatically described by the Arabian epithet, the ship of the desert, and is in truth the link by which many nations separated by boundless wastes are connected. Major Smith observes: "To the wild Arab of the desert, the camel is all that his necessities require he feeds on the flesh, drinks the milk, makes clothes and tents of the hair; belts, sandals, saddles, and buckets of the hide; he conveys himself and his family on his back, makes his pillow of his side, and his shelter of him against the whirlwind of sand; couched in a circle around, his camels form a fence, and in battle an entrenchment behind which his family and property are defended." Again, it is interesting to observe how admirably the camel is, by his structure, fitted for long journies in desert regions; his nostrils are so formed that he can close them so as to shut out the driving sand; his feet are broad and cushion-shaped, so as to tread lightly upon the dry and shifting soil. And then how noiseless his step, from the spongy nature of his foot. Whatever be the character of the ground,-sand, rock, turf, or paved stones, you hear no foot-fall; you see an immense animal approaching you, stilly as a cloud floating on air, and unless he wear a bell, your sense of hearing, acute as it may be, will give you no intimation of his presence. He picks the thorny bushes as he passes along, without halting, and on which no other animal could exist; he resists the burning heat for ten or twelve days, by retaining water in little cells with which the sides of the paunch are furnished; and when his store of food is entirely exhausted, the fat which composes the whole, or nearly the whole, of the hunch or hunches on his back, serves as an extra supply of nutriment. He sees and hears well, but his smell is of all his senses the most acute. "When long deprived of water," says Major Smith, " he will snuff the air, and discover its presence at a distance of more than two miles, and, disregarding all opposition, hasten to obtain it. By this faculty of the camel whole caravans are sometimes saved from destruction, so that it is not only eminently useful to himself, but of vital importance to all who share his dangers and fatigues."
The Bactrian species is said to carry from one thousand to one thousand two hundred weight; the common load of the Arabian species across the desert is about six hundred weight, at the rate of three miles an hour. He has seven calosities, one on the breast, two on each of the fore-legs, and one on each of the hind, upon which he throws the weight of his body,
both in kneeling down and rising. By this provision, he is enabled to receive his load (in the only position in which man could put on that load) without danger of fracturing the skin. The camel is even reported to assist in loading himself; but should the burden exceed his strength, he will refuse to rise and become very obstinate. If offended, he is resentful; but having once gratified this feeling, all remembrance of the injury is past The camel-drivers, aware of this fact, when they apprchend the animal's anger, drop their clothes in his sight, and conceal themselves; the beast instantly rushes at the garments, tosses them about, and tramples upon them; when his driver re-appears, and the whole business is forgotten. Camels bite bitterly, by which means, as well as by kicking, they resent the illtreatment of man, or the aggressions of dogs and hyenas. The males also fight ferociously, endeavouring to bite, and press each other down with the weight of their shoulders; and in some countries, principally at Aleppo, combats of camels are among the public amusements.
The speed of the dromedary as mentioned above, is very great compared with the species or varieties employed in the caravan. He is stated by Burckhardt to perform a journey in eight days that would occupy a caravan twenty-two; and the fastest breed of the dromedary will perform a journey of thirty-five days' caravan travelling in five days. Captain Lyon states that the Maherry, or Dromedary of the North African Arabs, will continue at a long trot of nine miles an hour for hours together; and it has been asserted that a Bedouin carried a letter upon a Maherry in four days from Cairo to Mecca, a distance of at least six hundred miles.
ADDRESSED TO A LADY
SWEET stream that winds through yonder glade,
Apt emblem of a virtuous maid-