Canis Lupus. Linn.
In this arrangement, which brought animals truly digitigrade, with retractile claws, tongues covered with sharp papill?, canine teeth of great power, and molars formed for tearing flesh, consequently in a high degree sanguinary and carnivorous in their habits, into close and intimate contact with others, which are positively plantigrade, with exserted claws, smooth tongues, and teeth of little power and evidently incapable of lacerating animal food, and which are therefore in all cases more or less, and in several instances wholly, vegetable eaters, it was impossible for naturalists long to coincide. The genus thus formed presented so heterogeneous a combination, that the difficulty was rather where to stop in the dispersion of the dissimilar materials of which it was composed, than where to commence the necessary operation; and in consequence nearly a dozen genera, not hanging together in one continued series, but scattered through various parts of the system, and most of them essentially distinct, have been the result of the dismemberment of this single group.
THE VIRGINIAN HORNED-OWL.
These characters are derived, first, from their completely plantigrade walk, the whole sole being at all times closely applied to the surface on which they tread; secondly, from their claws, of which they have five on each foot; thirdly, from the extreme shortness of their tail; and lastly, from the form and arrangement of their teeth. These consist of the usual number of incisors and canines, the latter being in general very robust, and of a series of molars, which, when complete, amount to six on each side in each jaw; the posterior three having flat and expanded surfaces surmounted by broad and blunted tubercles, and lying closely in contact with each other. Between them and the canines exists a considerable space, which is or should be occupied by three smaller and obtusely pointed teeth; but this number is seldom found entire, one or more of them being generally absent, and the series being thus rendered incomplete.
The Black Bear of America is distinguished from his fellows, and more especially from the brown bear of Europe, which he approaches most nearly in size and form, by few very striking external differences, except the colour of his fur. His forehead has a slight elevation; his muzzle is elongated, and somewhat flattened above; and his hair, though long and straight, has less shagginess than that of most of the other species of the group. In colour it is of a uniform shining jet-black, except on the muzzle, where it is short and fawn-coloured, becoming almost gray on the lips and sides of the mouth. This, however, it should be observed, is the character only of the full-grown animal: the young are first of a bright ash colour, which gradually changes to a deep brown, and finally fixes in the glossy black tint of mature age.
Notwithstanding the brutal voracity of his habits and the savage fierceness of his disposition, there is scarcely any animal that submits with greater facility to the control of man. In captivity, especially when taken young, a circumstance on which much depends in the domestication of all wild animals, he is capable of being rendered exceedingly tame, and even serviceable. In some parts of Southern Africa the spotted species, which is by nature quite as ferocious in his temper as the striped inhabitant of the North, has been domiciliated in the houses of the peasantry, among whom he is preferred to the dog himself for attachment to his master, for general sagacity, and even, it is said, for his qualifications for the chase. That the Striped Hy?na might be rendered equally useful is highly probable from the docility and attachment which he manifests towards his keepers, especially when allowed a certain degree of liberty, which he shows no disposition to abuse. If more closely restricted his savage nature sometimes returns upon him; and it is for this reason that those which are carried about the country from fair to fair, pent up in close caravans, frequently become surly and even dangerous. The individual whose portrait we give is, on the contrary, remarkably tame; he is a native of the East Indies, and is confined in the same den with one of the American Bears, as we shall have occasion to notice more particularly when speaking of the latter animal.
In his moral and intellectual faculties, as well as in his external and physical characters, the Lion exhibits a close agreement with the strikingly distinct and well marked group to which he belongs, and of which he is unquestionably the first in rank and importance: and perhaps the most effectual means of guarding against the general prejudice, which has delighted in exalting him at the expense of his fellow beasts, will be found in the recollection that, both physically and morally, he is neither more nor less than a cat, of immense size and corresponding power it is true, but not on that account the less endowed with all the guileful and vindictive passions of that faithless tribe. His courage is proverbial: this, however, is not derived from any peculiar nobility of soul, but arises from the blind confidence inspired by a consciousness of his own superior powers, with which he is well aware that none of the inferior animals can successfully compete. Placed in the midst of arid deserts, where the fleet but timid antelope, and the cunning but powerless monkey fall his easy and unresisting prey; or roaming through the dense forests and scarcely penetrable jungles, where the elephant and the buffalo find in their unwieldy bulk and massive strength no adequate protection against the impetuous agility and fierce determination of his attacks, he sways an almost undisputed sceptre, and stalks boldly forth in fearless majesty. But change the scene, and view him in the neighbourhood of populous towns, or even near the habitations of uncultivated savages, and it will then be seen that he recognises his master, and crouches to the power of a superior being. Here he no longer shows himself openly in the proud consciousness of his native dignity, but skulks in the deepest recesses of the forest, cautiously watches his opportunities, and lies in treacherous ambush for the approach of his unwary prey. It is this innate feeling of his incapacity openly to resist the power of man, that renders him so docile in captivity, and gives him that air of mild tranquillity, which, together with the dignified majesty of his deportment, has unquestionably contributed not a little towards the general impression of his amiable qualities.