Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 20.djvu/412

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.



—— The moral responsibility of some animals seems less doubtful than that of "intermittent lunatics." If it should become the duty of a public attorney of the future to prosecute a homicidal monkey, the following case (quoted in Brehm's "Thierleben") would furnish an ugly precedent against the counsel for the defense: A few years ago Dr. Schomburg, the Superintendent of the Botanic Garden of Adelaide, Australia, took charge of a select corps of monkeys and kangaroos, a "happy family," he might have called them, if it had not been for the depravity of an old babuina, or female Bhunder baboon. If she had not been the only representative of her species, he would have tried to get rid of her, for her only object in life seemed to be to make herself as disagreeable as possible. Solitary confinement made her wildly obstreperous, but in the family cage she kept the marsupials in a delirium of terror, and in the evening when her younger relatives ventured to enter the sleeping-box she seemed to consider herself divinely ordained to remove them by force. But one day she attacked her own keeper, and without any apparent provocation lacerated his wrist in a shocking way. Schomburg at once ordered her to be shot. The next morning the assistant keeper approached her cage with a shot-gun, which had often been used to shoot the rats that infested the menagerie-building. The other monkeys seemed to expect another razzia, but the Bhunder knew better. The moment she saw the gun she made a dash into the sleeping-cage, and when the keeper tried to open the door she yelled as if she hoped to get off on a plea of insanity. Meaning to try her, the keeper waited till breakfast-time, but the babuina did not show herself. She kept out of sight a full hour, till the mess-boy brought an extra lunch of sliced pumpkins, when she made a rush for the bucket in hopes of securing a portable piece. In that moment the keeper bolted the door of her sleeping-cage, and went back for his shot-gun. As soon as the babuina caught sight of him she flew toward her place of refuge, and, finding the door locked, made a mad attempt to squeeze herself through the interspaces of the front railing. But the bars proved inflexible, and, after another desperate pull at the sleeping-cage door, the babuina flung herself into a corner, closed her eyes, and was apparently dead with fear before the buckshot struck her.

—— Everybody has heard of the Talmud (which means a study), a venerable work of Hebrew lore, traditions, and commentaries, in twelve folio volumes. There have been many editions of it, and many books about it by renowned scholars. According to the "Encyclopedia Britannica," this is the way the Talmud puts the legendary trimmings on to the history of Adam: "He was made as a man-woman out of dust collected from every part of the earth, his head reached to heaven, and the splendor of his face surpassed the sun. The very angels feared him, and all creatures hastened to pay him devotion. The Lord, in order to display his power before the angels, caused a deep sleep to fall upon him, took away something from all his members, and, when he awoke, commanded the parts that had been removed to be dispersed over the globe, that the whole earth might be inhabited by his seed. Thus Adam lost his size but not his completeness, his first wife was Lilith, mother of the demons. But