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changes. Even in the ignorance of my unfinished novitiate, I hare sometimes found that a very shallow experience had taught me more than was for my own happiness. To look at the young and beautiful, and to read the death-mark upon them as plainly, as if, like the Scottish seers, we had seen them in the shroud, and followed the visionary procession from their thresholds to the church-yard, is no enviable faculty.
Before we leave the subject, let us take one general look around the walls which these cursory glances may have already rendered tiresome. In one face we see the expression of anxiety and uneasiness, which it may have taken years of noiseless suffering to wear so deeply into the features ; and then we may come to a row of dyspeptics, with their cold feet and blue lips, looking like a border of frost-bitten violets. We pass by the bed of the next sufferer in silence, for his damp forehead, and fixed eye, and curled up limbs, tell us that he is in the arms of the king of terrors. The next cheek is not pale, but its warmth is the flush of hectic, flickering up from the ashes that still hold a few decaying embers. And now we come to disease in its loathsomeness ; but, as few are called to endure, few need be required to witness, its ravages.
I should, perhaps, apologize for such an article, but I cannot think there is pedantry in trying to interest others, for a few moments, in subjects which occupy our thoughts and feelings habitually, though I am sensible that both our thoughts and our feelings, and even ourselves, may be matters of total indifference to our readers.
THE LOVER'S COMPLAINT.
coloras el purpureo y alto cielo.
THE ORANG OUTANG.
TO THE EDITORS OF THE NEW-ENGLAND MAGAZINE.
I TAKE the liberty of sending you a letter written by the celebrated Orang Outang to one of her friends in Java, which may be interesting to your readers, as it contains the result of the inquiries or a vigilant and disinterested observer. You will, I trust, entertain no scruples in regard to the publication of private correspondence, when you remember how common the practice has become, and how much it tends to enlighten the public on subjects which they are naturally curious to know. Should any one be disposed to question the genuineness of the letter, the original shall be deposited with you for the public benefit ; and the first inspection of the chirography will convince the most sceptical, that it is really and truly the production of an Orang Outang.
Your obedient servant,
Boston, November 10th, 1831. I know not, my dear Jocko, that I should have been tempted to break the silence, which wonder and sorrow impose upon me in this strange land, were it not for the soul slanders which are daily heaped upon me by those, who regard themselves as paragons of all that is polite and hospitable. It is but a few days since I read in the NewEngland Magazine, a publication, which, however attractive it may be in the eyes of men, has little in it that can gratify the taste of an Orang Outang, the pitiful speculations of some ignorant New-York Doctor upon my conformation and personal habits ; but I know not whether any thing better was to have been expected from a member of a profession, of the state of which, in this country, a single anecdote will convince you. On my voyage hither, feeling slightly indisposed, I had recourse to what was universally called the chest of medicine ; and what was my astonishment on learning, by melancholy experience, as I did within an hour afterwards, that I had taken poison, and that my life was in imminent danger! You will readily judge of the state of intelligence among a race, where poisons are used as panaceas, and where the same prescriptions are employed to preserve and to extinguish life.
Protect me from such nurses ! Better, far better, to fall headlong from the top-most branches of the teak-tree, better to be shot by the poisoned arrows of Macassar, than to place life and limb at the mercy of these infatuated pretenders !
Indeed, my friend, whatever difference there may be between the Simian and Caucasian races, it is decidedly in favor of the former; and nothing, I am convinced, but the habitual arrogance of man, prevents him from acquiescing in the same conclusion; it is, in fact, impossible, on the principles of his own philosophy, to adopt any other. The moralist, the punicious doctor, and the philosopher, are perpetually calling upon men to follow nature; while their whole lives are spent in a continual effort to counteract and defy her. They regard themselves as compounded of body and soul, and are always talking of the latter, as by far their noblest part ; but this I consider as a vain pretension ;
for it is wholly inconceivable, supposing this to be the fact, that every thought and effort should be engrossed by the care of the body, while the soul is treated with so little ceremony, that they have nothing, but what they call their own inward consciousness, to vouch for its existence ; a sort of testimony, which, however satisfactory it may be to them, is not particularly convincing to a by-stander. We are told alike by reason and philosophy, that our wants should be few; but this strangely consistent people have discovered, that the true secret of happiness consists in multiplying them; and this they do, regularly and systematically, as if it were the chief end of their being. On this principle, you will perceive, that nothing is easier than 10 be happy; a famine would place them on the very pinnacle of felicity. But I ask you, my friend, whether a doctrine like this would not, at once, be rejected by the Orang Outang, who might chance to be philosophizing upon a nut a day! They pretend, however, to reconcile it with common sense, by insisting, that the more our wants increase, the more rapidly will the means of gratifying them increase also ; but here is another inconsistency; for there are no greater foes to luxury, than these very moralists and philosophers, of whom I have just told you. Now take a single specimen of the two races, and see which bears himself with the most philosophical dignity. The Orang Outang partakes sparingly of the fruits most liberally dispensed to him by the influences of a delightful climate, and the perpetual vegetation of the tropics, without so much as thinking of a bird's nest; while the more ambitious biped cannot make a single meal without some exhibition of his cannibal propensities, or quench his thirst by any liquid which is not debased by some intoxicating element. In the morning, he collects around him the luxuries, as he calls them, of the Indies, both East and West ; and, at noon, he demolishes some other animal as good as he, to satiate his raging appetite, and washes it down with the liquors of every foreign country.
There is another point, on which these people are very apt to pique themselves. They call it the gift of speech; forgetting, in their vainglory, that the same gift is enjoyed in high perfection by the parrot, and the cockatoo. Nay, I am credibly informed, that one of their own carpenters has actually made a creature, which plays chess, and converses with all the freedom which that game requires, as well as any human being of them all. What sort of a gift is that, which they can manufacture for themselves ? Yet even in talking of the gift of talking, they are forever contradicting the maxims of their own philosophy. This blessing, if it be indeed a blessing, would seem to be held in very light esteem, by the manner in which they abuse it. When two men fall to quarreling, they forthwith begin to swear, and utter volleys of abuse, which it is very painful to an Orang Outang to hear ; and it is only after their breath is fairly gone, that they proceed to fight in the common and only rational way. It is, however, in vilifying their friends and neighbors, that this same blessing becomes an instrument of the most potent efficacy. Now, in the name of all the nuts of Borneo, why are not the grimaces and the chatter of a monkey quite as useful for all these purposes, as the boasted faculty of speech? Silence, say their philosophers, is a virtue ; then how superior in moral dignity is the Orang Outang, who practises this virtue on principle, and on all oc
casions, to the man or woman who would rather die out-right than hold his or her tongue for half an hour! I have recently heard of a woman, who cut off her tongue with a razor, by way of punishing it for its manifold sins, as well as to prevent, in the most summary way, any obliquities of the kind for the future ; but, in my judgement, it is far more eligible, to be formed originally without any implement of the sort, than to be compelled to extract it, in order to conduct one's self with tolerable propriety.
I will not, however, pursue this topic farther; as I am sensible that the results of my observation here must be more interesting to you, than any general speculations, however important they may be. Suffer me simply to add, if any thing be wanting to convince you of the comparative superiority of our race, that the human intellect has so little expansion, as to estimate every thing, by comparing it with its own standard. I tremble with indignation while I write it-these soul-and-body, want-multiplying, eternally talking people, have the impudence to call me ugly! Me--the acknowledged beauty of the forests of Java-in pursuit of whom hundreds were once ready to fly from tree to tree, and to whom the earliest fruit of the season was but a poor and unregarded homage! To you, who know what eyes of love and admiration were once cast upon me, how many double rows of teeth were formerly expanded with delight at my approach, I can expose the secret sorrows of my too sensitive heart. When I remember what beauty is, and compare it with what these people call beauty, I ought perhaps to disregard these suggestions of arrogance and folly ; but to be despised as a miracle of deformity by those whose lives are spent in earnest but by no means unsuccessful efforts to deform themselves, is almost too much for an Orang Outang to bear.
If you could walk with me into Washington-street, a narrow passage through the chaos of brick and stone, which these people call a city, on a Sunday morning, you would soon ascertain what their notions of beauty are. Hundreds of women, some with huge piles of straw, others with vast erections of silk and flowers on their heads, are moving by you with the rapidity of lightning. Their robes, or gowns-how can I describe them, but by telling you that their owners resemble the Bird of Paradise ? On their arms, they wear what they call sleeves, articles of which your fancy would be inadequate to form the least conception. Their feet are covered with a box, which they call a shoe. Add to these, rows of white teeth, cheeks of clear red and white, and eyes which seem to pierce you through and through, and you have some idea of what the human race call beauty. “Out upon the barbarians”!-I think I hear you exclaim—“can creatures tricked out in this way pretend to climb a tree ?” In the first place, my dear, there are very few trees here to climb ; and the names of romp and hoyden would be the mildest terms of reproach applied to one, who should attempt such an exhibition, or whose habits should bear in any respect the least affinity to ours. When you think of the unadorned beauty of our own race, of their small but alluring eyes, their complexion like the mild obscurity of some overhanging cloud, their graceful movements, and light and agile limb, you laugh at their strange transformations ; but
you will learn to regard them rather with pity, when I tell you, that they are to be attributed solely to the influence of an invisible, but all
controling power, whom they call Fashion, and worship with the most sincere and persevering devotion. Wonders have been related to me of the influence of this extraordinary deity. It is, in fact, wholly in compliance with her injunctions, that the dazzling array of partycolored garments, you every where witness, is exhibited in the streets, but let her once read the charm backwards, and these bonnets and robes contract in an instant, like what the sailors of our vessel called a doublereefed topsail, while the sleeves collapse, at once, like a rent balloon. Happy Orang Outangs, who are misled by no such strange and fatal theism! Happy, that they can survey the grand and beautiful in nature without a bonnet or a veil, penetrate the wildest thicket without perdition to shawls and pelisses, and ascend the tree without the ridiculous claw-hiding incumbrances of stockings and shoes ! And yet, I know not how it is, notwithstanding the many absurdities of my human female friends, one does in time get somewhat reconciled to their appearance. One of their bishops, I am told, who visited countries near to ours, pronounced the olive-colored race, the most agreeable of all to the eye ; but I cannot help thinking, if he had extended his observation farther, he would have come to the conclusion, that a deep brown, combined with a proper infusion of slate color, was the beau ideal of feminine complexion.
Adieu. The fatigue of writing is too great, to allow me to tell you more of this strange race at present. Remember me, my friend, as truly and affectionately, yours.
THE LIMPING PHILOSOPHER.
A man's best friends are his books; they never desert, they never betray him. With a kindness, true as it is rare, they accommodate themselves to his caprices. Is he grave or gay, sad or merry, would he learn, would he philosophize, would he be comfortably idle, he may find among his books some one or more exactly fitted to his purpose.
THE COMPLETE LIBRARY, Vol. ii. p. 305. When Plato was called upon to give a brief description of man, at once comprehensive and characteristic, he declared him to be a featherless biped. This description was not a little ridiculed by one of Plato's rivals, who stripped a cock of his feathers, drove him screaming through the gardens in which the philosopher was accustomed to meet his disciples, and having attracted the attention of the whole company, suddenly stopped, and, pointing to the cock, inquired, with great grarity, “Sirs, is this a man ?" There was no resisting a confutation of this sort; and, Plato's definition being completely discredited, others have since attempted to mend the matter,—but, as I am going to show, with little success.
Of the two definitions most generally received, one declares man to be a talking, the other, a laughing animal. If the former of these two definitions were confined exclusively to the fairer half of the species, it might not, perhaps, be very easy to find fault with it ;—though even in