The degrees of their so much vaunted intelligence, which is in general very limited, and rarely capable of being made subservient to the purposes of man, vary almost as much as the ever-changing outline of their form. From the grave and reflective Oran-Otang, whose docility and powers of imitation in his young state have been the theme of so much ridiculous exaggeration and sophistical argumentation, to the stupid and savage Baboon, whose gross brutality is scarcely relieved by a single spark of intelligence, the gradations are regular and easy. A remarkable circumstance connected with the developement of this faculty, or perhaps we should rather say, with its gradual extinction, consists in the fact that it is only in young animals which have not yet attained their full growth, that it is capable of being brought into play; the older individuals, even of the most tractable races, entirely losing the gaiety, and with it the docility, of their youth, and becoming at length as stupid and as savage as the most barbarous of the tribe.
In the foregoing observations we may perhaps be considered as giving too much space to the generalities of the subject; an objection to which we can only answer that nearly the whole of our knowledge of the Monkey tribes consists in generalities. Of the great number of species, upwards of one hundred, which are now known and characterized, very few are distinguished from their immediate fellows by striking and strongly-marked characters, either physical or moral. The groups too are connected by such gradual and easy transitions, that although the typical forms of each, isolated from the mass and placed in contrast with each other, unquestionably exhibit many broadly distinguishing peculiarities, yet the entire series offers a chain so nearly complete and unbroken as scarcely to admit of being treated of in any other way than as one homogeneous whole.
Anthropoides pavoninus. Vieill.
It can scarcely fail to have been remarked by those who have perused the preceding pages with moderate attention that the species of cats described in them, including the largest and most formidable of the whole genus, are exclusively natives of the Old World, and confined to the hot and burning climates of Southern Asia and of Africa. A second and more numerous class, of which, however, no example exists at present in the Tower Menagerie, and which, consequently, it does not fall within our province to illustrate, occupy the colder and northern regions of both hemispheres. These belong principally to the same subdivision with the Lynx (being, like him, distinguished by the pencils of long hairs which surmount their ears), and to that which comprehends the domestic cat; and are all of diminutive size and trifling power when compared with those monstrous productions of the torrid zone, the Lion, the Tiger, and the Leopard. The reader is not, however, to imagine that the smaller species exist only in the vicinity of the pole and in the temperate regions of the earth: he will find, on the contrary, that many of them are natives of more southern climes, and commit their petty ravages under as fierce a sun as that which fires their more dreaded competitors in the career of rapine and of blood. Of one of these, the true Lynx of antiquity, we shall have occasion to treat in a subsequent article.
Having in the preceding article terminated the series of Mammiferous Quadrupeds at present existing in the Tower Menagerie, we must next direct our attention to the illustration of the Birds, a Class which, although fully entitled to the second place in the arrangement of the Animal Kingdom, is separated by a wide and almost unoccupied interval from that which unquestionably claims the foremost rank.