Almost in the same degree that the Lion has been exalted and magnified, at the expense of his fellow brutes, has the Tiger been degraded and depressed below his just and natural level. While the one has been held up to admiration, as the type and standard of heroic perfection, the other has, with equal capriciousness of judgment and disregard of the close and intimate relationship subsisting between them, been looked upon by mankind in general with those feelings of unmingled horror and detestation which his character for untameable ferocity and insatiable thirst of blood was so well calculated to inspire. It requires, however, but little consideration to teach us that the broad distinction, which has thus been drawn, cannot by possibility exist; and the recorded observations of naturalists and travellers, both at home and abroad, will be found amply sufficient to prove that the difference in their characters and habits, on which so much stress has been laid, is in reality as slight and unessential as that which exists in their corporeal structure.
Cervus Equinus. Cuv.
Happily for mankind the range of this tremendous animal is limited to the warmer climates of the earth; and even in these the extent of that range is constantly becoming more and more confined by the spread of human civilization, which, at the same time that it drives him to take refuge at a distance from the haunts of men, contributes greatly to thin his numbers and to diminish his power of annoyance. His true country is Africa, in the vast and untrodden wilds of which, from the immense deserts of the north to the trackless forests of the south, he reigns supreme and uncontrolled. In the sandy deserts of Arabia, in some of the wilder districts of Persia, and in the vast jungles of Hindostan, he still maintains a precarious footing: but from the classic soil of Greece, as well as from the whole of Asia Minor, both of which were once exposed to his ravages, he has been utterly dislodged and extirpated.
There is some variation in the different races of Lions from these distant localities; but this is by no means of sufficient importance to establish a distinction between them. The Asiatic Lion, of which we are now treating, seldom attains a size equal to that of the full-grown Southern African; its colour is a more uniform and paler yellow throughout; and its mane is, in general, fuller and more complete, being furnished moreover with a peculiar appendage in the long hairs, which, commencing beneath the neck, occupy the whole of the middle line of the body below. All these distinctions are, however, modified by age, and vary in different individuals. Their habits are in essential particulars the same: we shall therefore defer what we have farther to say on this head until we come to speak of the Cape Lion, and proceed to the history of the Asiatic individual now exhibiting in this Menagerie, a striking likeness of which is given in the engraving at the head of the present article.