The variety figured over leaf is in one of the many intermediate stages between unreclaimed barbarism and complete domestication. It is an awkward looking creature, high on the legs, narrow in the loins, and covered with a rough and shaggy coat. The back and sides are nearly black; the shoulders reddish brown; and the posterior part of the body, the haunches, the hind legs, and the tail, white; as are also the ears, which are rather large, the nose, and a spot over each eye. The horns, although the specimen is a male, are remarkably small, and enclose the ears within their curve. If the ears are freed from their confinement, the animal becomes very uneasy, and never rests until he has succeeded in replacing them, which he cannot accomplish without considerable difficulty. He was presented to the Menagerie by Lord Liverpool about six years ago, and is extremely mild in his temper.
But for these shades of colour, or for any other, we should look in vain in the animal of the Tower Menagerie, which, in consequence of a particular conformation, not unfrequent in some species of animals, and occasionally met with even in the human race, is perfectly and purely white. In order to explain this phenomenon, which is one of the most curious, but at the same time one of the most simple in physiology, it is necessary to observe that there exists beneath the epidermis, or outer covering of the skin, both in man and animals, a peculiar membrane of very fine and delicate texture, which is scarcely visible in the European but sufficiently obvious in the Negro, termed by anatomists the rete mucosum. In this net-work is secreted, from the extremities of the minute vessels which terminate upon its surface, a mucous substance which varies in colour according to the complexion of the individual, of the varieties in which it is the immediate cause; and from the substance thus secreted the colouring matter of the hairs and of the iris is derived. The pure whiteness then of the covering of the animal in question, and of all those which exhibit a similar variation from their natural tinge, is attributable solely to the absence of this secretion from whatever cause. It is always accompanied, as in the present instance, by a redness of the eyes, arising from the blood-vessels of the iris being exposed to view in consequence of the want of the usual coating formed by this secretion, by which they are naturally protected from the too great influence of the light. In the human race the individuals who are thus afflicted, characterized by the dull whiteness of their skins, the deep redness of their eyes, and their colourless, or, as it is generally termed, flaxen, hair, are called Albinos. They are generally timid in disposition, languid in character, and weak both in mind and body. The same original conformation, for it is always born with the individual and never acquired in after life, although sometimes prolonged beyond its limits in the shape of an hereditary legacy, is common to many animals. Perhaps the most familiar instances among these are the white mice, the white rabbits, and the white pigeons, which are known to every one. But it has also been occasionally seen in many other species, as monkeys, squirrels, moles, pigs, and even cows and horses, and, to come a little closer to our present subject, in goats and deer. Not even that massive and stupendous beast the Elephant is exempted from its influence. It can hardly be necessary to recall to the reader the title on which the ruler of millions of not uncivilized Asiatics, the Burmese monarch, prides himself more than on any other, inasmuch as it is the emblem of power and prosperity, that of Lord of the White Elephant; a title, which, while it demonstrates the fact of the existence of this deviation in the Elephant as well as in other animals, proves also the extreme rarity of its occurrence. It has moreover been noticed in many species of birds.
Dromiceius Nov? Hollandi?. Vieill.
These are two males and one female, belonging to the most elegant as well as the most intelligent variety of the species, that to which Linn?us, on account of the high degree to which the latter quality was carried in them, gave par excellence the epithet of sagax. They were presented by Major, now Colonel Denham, on his return from the most successful expedition that has perhaps ever been made into the evil-omened regions of Central Africa, from whence they were brought by that gallant traveller, who also gave Mr. Cops the following account of their qualifications for the chase. He had repeatedly, he said, made use of them in hunting the Gazelle, in their pursuit of which he had observed that they displayed more cunning and sagacity than any dogs with which he was acquainted, frequently quitting the line of scent for the purpose of cutting off a double, and recovering it again with the greatest facility. They would follow a scent after an hour and a half or even two hours had elapsed; and the breed was therefore commonly employed in Africa for the purpose of tracing a flying enemy to his retreat. They are in fact, both for symmetry and action, perfect models; and there are few sportsmen who will not regret that there appears no chance of crossing our own pointers with this interesting breed. A mixed race, combining the qualifications of both, would unquestionably be one of the most valuable acquisitions to our sporting stock; but, unhappily, this union seems to be altogether hopeless; for although they have now been more than three years in England, and are in excellent health and condition, they appear, like many other animals restrained of their liberty and kept constantly together, to have no disposition to perpetuate their race. The males are remarkably good tempered; the female on the contrary is surly and ill natured.
The colour of the species varies in different lights: in general it may be described as grayish black, with a tinge of yellow. On this ground it is marked with one broad dorsal, and on each side two or three narrower, indistinct black lines. The under jaw, the legs, and the greater part of the tail are entirely black; and there is a whitish spot above and under each of its eyes.下载
But although endowed with so strong a propensity for animal food, as well as with the power to gratify the appetite thus grafted in his very nature, he is not, like the more perfect of the carnivorous tribe, left entirely dependent upon that which, in the climate in which he has been placed, must of necessity be a precarious, and frequently even an impossible, source of subsistence. Of a more fierce and sanguinary temper than the other bears, he does not hesitate to attack whatever living creature may fall in his way, and man himself seems to inspire him with little dread: but in the absence of his favourite food, he makes a less savoury, but equally congenial, meal of vegetable substances, of fruits, or more commonly of roots, the latter of which he digs up with the greatest facility with his enormous claws; and in some parts of the country these more simple productions form almost his sole subsistence. On the quality of his food depends much of the ferocity of his temper; for it appears that the bears of the western side of the Rocky Mountains, who live almost entirely upon vegetables, are of a much less fierce and savage disposition than their fellows of the eastern side, where animal food is more abundant and more easily procured.