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THE MORAL CHARACTER
A GENTLEMAN whose premises were in fested by a large breed of sparrows, said they were birds of no principle. Of all monkies it may be said, with much more propriety, that they are beasts of no principle ; for they have every evil quality, and not one good one. They are saucy and insolent; always making an attempt to bully and terrify people.; and . biting those first who are most afraid of them. An impertinent curiosity runs through all their actions. They never can let things alone, but must know what is going forward. If a pot or a kettle is set upon the fire, and the cook turns her back, the Monkey whips off the cover to see what she has put into it; even though he çannot get at it without setting his feet upon the hot bars of the grate. VOL. XII,
Mimickry is another of the Monkey's qualities. Whatever he sees men do, he must affect to do the like himself. He seems to have no rule of his own, and so is ruled by the actions of men or beasts; as weak people follow the fashion of the world, whether it be good or bad.
With regard to its offspring, the Monkey hath little more than the foolish part of parental affection. The mother often dandles her young one till she has stifled it, or wearied it out of its life; and holds out her ugly brat for every body to see and admire it; as if, for its beauty, it were the wonder of the animal creation. I
No Monkey has any sense of gratitude, (ingratum qui dixerit, omnia dixit,) but takes his victuals with a snatch, and then grins in the face of the person that gives it him, lest he should take it away again : for he supposes that all men will snatch away what they can lay hold of, as all Monkies do...
Through an invincible selfishness, no Monkey considers any individual but himself, as the poor cat found to her cost, when the Monkey burned her paws with raking his chesnuts out of the fire. They can never eat together in company without quarrelling and plundering
one another. As the Poet said of mankind in the state of nature-vivitur ex rapto-so are all Monkies possessed by a spirit of rapine; and are as cunning in contriving a theft, as they are nimble and dextrous in the performance. · Every Monkey delights in mischief, and cannot help doing it when it is in his power. If any thing he takes hold of can be broken or spoiled, he is sure to find the way of doing it: and he chatters with pleasure when he hears the noise of a China vessel smashed to pieces upon the pavement. If he takes up a bottle of ink, he empties it upon the floor. He turns your sand-box upside down, or sifts it into the inkhorn. He unfolds all your papers, and scatters them about the room; and what he cannot undo he tears to pieces : and it is wonderful to see how much of this work he will do in a few minutes when he happens to get loose.
Though a Monkey has never been considered as a fit subject for a Biographer, yet tradition has preserved the history of some of their exploits, which are curious and characteristic: but the event is generally unfortunate. Every body has heard of the Monkey, whose curiosity led him to the mouth of a cannon to see how it went off; when he paid for his peeping with the 002.
loss of his head. In a ship where a relation of mine was an officer, while the men were busy in fetching powder from below, and making cartridges, a monkey on board took up a lighted candle, and ran down to the powder-room to see what they were about : but was happily overtaken just as he got to the lanthorn, and thrown out at the nearest port-hole into the sea with the lighted candle in his hand. Another lost his life by the spirit of mimickry. He had seen his master shaving his own face: and at the first opportunity took up the razor to shave himself, and made shift to cut his throat.
When the wild Monkies have escaped to the top of the trees, the people below who want to catch them show them the use of gloves, by putting them on and pulling them off repeatedly; and when the monkies are supposed to have taken the hint, they leave plenty of gloves upon the ground, having first lined them with pitch. The monkies come down, put on the gloves, but cannot pull them off again ; and when they are surprised and betake themselves to the trees as usual, they slide backwards upon their hams and are taken.
A monkey who had seen his mistress upon her pillow in a night-cap, which at her rising
she pulled off and hung upon a chair, puts on the cap, lays his head upon the pillow, and by personating the lady made himself ten times more frightful and ridiculous ; as awkward people do, when they ape their superiors, and affect a fashion which is above their sphere.
Another ran away with a basket of live partridges, and when he was pursued, escaped to the top of the house ; where he managed the lid of the basket in such a dextrous manner as to let the birds fly off by one at a time. When they were all gone, he got into the basket himself; but the basket falling with him before he had time to do as the partridges did, his bones were broken when he came to the ground.
A mischievous disposition is always inclined to persecution. There are minds, whose greatest pleasure it is to ride and teaze and whip the minds of other people. A late friend and neighbour of mine in the country kept a monkey, who took to riding his hogs, especially one of them, which he commonly singled out as fittest for his use; and leaping upon its back with his face toward the tail, he whipped it unmercifully upon the hind quarters, and drove it about, till it could run no longer. The hogs lived under such continual terrors of