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THE MENAGERIES.* ALTHOUGH every kind of knowledge is useful, some scientific inquiries are more entertaining than others, Hardly more than one in a thousand will ever discover amusement in the study of algebra ; but there are very few indeed who will not find themselves interested in the details of natural history. There is no mental fatigue experienced in the pursuit of zoological knowledge: we enter a menagerie for the same purpose that we enter a theatre ; our object is entertainment if not instruction ; and although we may sometimes quit the scene of the drama but little improved, we cannot possibly leave any of the repositories of the animal kingdom without an accession of knowledge, and more exalted notions of the wisdom and goodness of the Deity. In the minutest insect and the most ferocious quadruped we discover His Almighty handy-work ; and, convinced that every living thing displays design, we are impressed with the conviction of a superintending Providence.
* The Library of Entertaining Knowledge, Vol. 1. Part I. London, 1829. Charles Knight.
VOL. 11. July, 1829.
Natural history is the science of observation; and consequently every one has it in his power to become, in some measure, a naturalist. But the habits of observation are to be acquired, and when acquired they are the source of never-ending pleasure. Yet, strange to say, a taste for the science of zoology was, until recently, very limited : our menageries were but scantily supplied with subjects for study; and individual speculators in this department of knowledge experienced but indifferent encouragement. Fortunately a better spirit is now abroad : the science has become popular; and in this, as in various other instances, fashion will contribute to the diffusion of useful knowledge
In our preceding volume, when noticing the Tower Menagerie,' we took occasion to give a brief history of menageries, and spoke with satisfaction of the facilis ties now afforded to those who wish to pursue the study of natural history. Since then The Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge' has published the first part of its · Library of Entertaining Knowledge ;' and, although a work like this never comes too late, we are inclined to think the society would have secured itself an additional popularity, had it allowed the • entertaining' to have preceded the 'useful' treatises. We have never read any work better calculated to advance the science of zoology than this neat little publication. Technical terms, which too often repel unscientific readers, are scrupulously avoided ; and yet nothing connected with the subject, that can instruct or amuse, has been omitted. The style is simple but elegant; the illustrations numerous and appropriate ; and the arrangement lucid without being rigidly scientific. • The great object,' says the society, in the introduction,
which we propose to ourselves in the collection of the most interesting facts relating to animals in general, and in this volume of those which appertain to quadrupeds in particular, will be to excite such a habit of observation in our readers, that they may accustom themselves to watch the commonest appearances of ani mal life; and thus derive from every inquiry to
which their observations may lead them, a more inti. mate conviction of the perfection of that wisdom, by which the functions of the humblest being in the scale of existence are prescribed by an undeviating law.
A great portion of the first part is occupied with a very entertaining account of that social animal, the dog ; but though the writer has displayed considerable industry he has left much which does honour to that
honest creature' untold. The omission we shall endeavour to supply in a future number, and we cannot suppose that a subject on which • The Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge' has published a treatise, can be unacceptable to our readers.
That portion of the work which is not devoted to the dog treats of the history of the cat tribe. The account of the lion is minute and interesting; and respecting the tiger we are told that there appears to be no greater difficulty in rendering the tiger docile than the lion. As the sovereign of Persia has his tame lions, so have the faquirs, or mendicant priests of Hindostan, their tame tigers. These will accompany them in their walks, and remain, without attempting to escape, in the neighbourhood of their huts. The tigers in the English menageries appear, with a few exceptions, to be ordinarily under as complete control as the species which, for so long a time, has been supposed to possess all the generous virtues of the genus felis.
Several keepers of menageries, during the last few years, have succeeded in obtaining a mixed breed be. iween the lion and the tiger. Mr. Atkins has exhibited cubs, produced at various times, by the union of the lion with the tigress. In September last, we saw two lion tiger cubs in his exhibition, which had been whelped at Edinburgh, on the 31st December, 1827. Their general colour was not so bright as that of the tiger species, and the transverse bands were rather more obscure. The little creatures were very playful, and the mother was most tractable, suffering the