|Reference Base Travels to discover the source of the Nile 1768-1773, se...
Bruce, J., 1804. Travels to discover the source of the Nile 1768-1773, second edition. Edinburgh, J. Ruthven for G.G.J. and London, J. Robinson, vol. 7
|| Africa - Eastern Africa - Ethiopia
|| Text as original
|| Black Rhino
Naturalists seem now in general to be agreed that there are two species of this quadruped, the first having two horns upon his nose, the second one. It is also a generally received opinion, that these different species are confined to distant places of the old continent; that with one horn is thought to be exclusively an inhabitant of Asia, that with two horns to be only found in Africa.
Whether this division be right in all its parts, i shall not advance. That there is a rhinoceros in Asia with one horn, is what we positively know; but that there is none of the other species in that part of the continent, does not appear to me as yet so certain. Again, there is no sort of doubt, that though the rhinoceros with two horns is an inhabitant of Africa, yet it is as certain that the species with one horn is often found in that country likewise, especially in the eastern part, where is the myrrh and cinnamon country, towards Cape gardefan, which runs into the Indian ocean, betond the straits of Babeimandeb. And if I were to credit the accounts which the natives of the respective countries have given me, I should be induced to believe
that the rhinoceros of the Kingdom of Adel had but one horn. They say this is the case where little rain falls, as in Adel, which, though within the tropics, is not liable to that several months deluge, as is the inland part of the country more to the westward. They say further, that all that woody part, inhabited by Shangalla, corresponding to tigre and Sire, is the haunt of the rhinoceros with two horns. Whether this is really the case, i do not pretend to aver; i give the reader the story with the authority: I think it is probable; but as in all cases where very few observations can be repeated, as in this, I leave him entirely to the light of his own understanding.
The animal represented in this drawing is a native of Tcherkin, near Ras el Feel, of the hunting of which I have already spoken, in my return through the desert of Egypt; and this is the first drawing of the rhinoceros with a double horn that has ever yet been presented to the public. The first figure of the Asiatic rhinoceros, the species having but one horn, was painted by Albert Durer, from the life, from one of those sent from India by the Portuguese in the beginning of the sixteenth century. It was wonderfully ill-executed in all its parts, and was the origin of all the monstrous forms under which that animal has been painted, ever since, in all parts of the world. Several modern philosophers have made amends for this in our days; Mr Parsons, Mr Edwards and the Count de Buffon, have given good figures of it from life; they have indeed some faults, owing chiefly to preconceived prejudices and inattention. These, however, were rhinoceroses with one horn, all Asiatics. This, as I have before said, is the first that has been published with two horns; it is designed from the life, and is an African; but as the principal difference is in the horn, and as the manners
of this beast are, I believe, very faithfully described, and common to both species, I shall only note what I think is deficient in his history, or what I can suppose from having had an opportunity of seeing him alive and at freedom in his native woods.
It is very remarkable, that two such animals as the elephant and rhinoceros should have wholly escaped the description of the sacred writers. Moses, and the children of Israel, were long in the neighbourhood of the countries that produced them, both while in Egypt and in Arabia. The classing of the animals into clean and unclean, seems to have led the legislator into a kind of necessity of describing, in one of the classes, an animal, which made the food of the principal Pagan nations in the neighbourhood. Considering the long and intimate connection Solomon had with the south coast of the Red Sea, it is next to impossible that he was not acquainted with it; as both David his father, and he, made plentiful use of ivory, as they frequently mention in their writings, which, along with gold, came from the same part. Solomon, besides, wrote expressly upon zoology, and, we can scarcely suppose, was ignorant of two of the principal articles of that part of the creation, inhabitants of the great continent of Asia, east from him, and that of Africa on the south, with both which territories he was in constant correspondence.
There are two animals, named frequently in Scripture, without naturalists being agreed what they are. The one is the behemoth, the other the reem, both mentioned as the types of strength, courage, and independence on man, and as such exempted from the ordinary lot of beasts, to be subdued by him, or reduced under his dominion. Though this is not to be taken in a literal sense, for there is no animal wihout the fear or beyond the reach of the power of man,
we are to understand this as applicable to animals possessed of strength and size so superlative as that, in these qualities, other beasts bear no proportion to them.
The behemoth, then, I take to be the elephant; his history is well known, and my only business is with the reem, which I suppose to be the rhinoceros. The derivation of this word, both in the Hebrew and the Ethiopic, seems to be from erectness, or standing straight. The is certainly no particular quality in the animal itself, who is not more, or even so much, erect as many other quadrupeds, for in its knees it is rather crooked; but it is from the circumstance and manner in which his horn is placed. The horns of all other animals are inclined to some degree of parallelism with the nose, or os frontis. The horn of the rhinoceros alone is erect and perpendicular to this bone, on which it stands at right angles, thereby possessing a greater purchase, or power, as a lever, than any horn could possibly have in any other position.
This situation of the horn is very happily alluded to in the sacred writings: “my horn shalt thou exalt like the horn of an unicorn” *
*Psalm xcii. 10
and the horn here alluded to is not wholly figurative, as I have already taken notice of in the course of my history, but was really an ornament, worn by great men in the days of victory, preferment, or rejoicing, when they were anointed with new, sweet, or fresh oil; a circumstance which david joins with that of erecting the horn.
Some authors, for what reason I know not, have made the reem, or unicorn, to be of the deer or antelope kind, that is, of a genus whose very character is
fear and weakness, very opposite to the qualities by which the reem is described in Scripture. Besides, it is plain the reem is not of the class of clean quadrupeds; and a late modern traveller, very whimsically, takes him for the leviathan, which certainly was a fish. It is impossible to determine which is the silliest opinion of the two. Balaam, a priest of midlan, and so in the neighbourhood of the haunts of the rhinoceros, and intimately connected with Ethiopia, for they themselves were shepherds of that country, in a transport, from contemplating the strength of Israel, whom he was brought to curse, says, they had as it were the strength of the reem.* Job ² makes frequent allusion to his great strength, and ferocity, and indocility. He asks, “Will the reem be willing to serve thee, or abide by thy crib?” that is, Will he willingly come into thy stable, and eat at thy manger? And again, “Canst thou bind the reem with a band in the furrow; and will he harrow the vallies after thee?” ³ In other words, Canst thou make him go in the plow or harrows?
* Numb. Chap. xxiii. ver. 22
² Job, chap. xxxix, ver.9
³ Job, chap. xxxix, ver. 10
Isaiah*, who of all the prophets seems to have known Egypt and Ethiopia the best, when prophecying about the destruction of Idumea, says, that the reem shall come down with the fat cattle; a proof that he knew his habitation was in the neighbourhood. In the same manner as when foretelling the desolation of Egypt, he mentions as one manner of effecting it, the bringing down the fly ² from Ethiopia, to meet the cattle in the desert, and among the bushes, and destroy them there, where that insect did not ordinarily come but
* Isaiah, chap. xxxiv. ver. 7
² Isaiah, chap. vii. ver. 18, 19.
on command*, and where the cattle fled every year to save themselves from that insect.
* Exod. Chap. viii, ver. 22
The rhinoceros, in Geez, is called Arwe Harish, and in the Amharic, Auraris, both which names signify the large wild beast with the horn. This would seem as if applied to the species that had but one horn. On the other hand, in the country of the Shangalla, and in Nubia adjoining, he is called Girnamgirn, or horn upon horn; and this would seem to denote that he had two. The Ethiopic text renders the word reem, Arwe harish, and the Septuagint translates it, Monoceros, or Unicorn.
If the Abyssinian rhinoceros had invariably two horns, it seems to me improbable the Septuagint would call him Monoceros; especially as they must have seen an animal of this kind exposed at Alexandria in their time, then first mentioned in history, at an exhibition given by Ptolemy Philadelphus on his accession to the crown, before the death of his father, of which we have already made mention.
The principal reason of translating the word reem, Unicorn, and not Rhinoceros, is from a prejudice that he must have had but one horn. But this is by no means so well-founded, as to be admitted as the only argument for establishing the existence of an animal which never has appeared, after the search of so many ages. Scripture speaks of the horns of the unicorn *; so that, even from this circumstance, the reem may comprehend both species. It is something remarkable, that, notwithstanding Alexander’s expedition into India, this quadruped was not known to Aristotle. ² Strabo and Athenaeus both speak of
* Deut. Chap. viii. ver. 22. Psalm xxii. 21
² This shews that the Mosaic pavement of Praeneste is not a record of Alexander’s expedition into India, as dr Shaw has pretended, sect. vii. p. 423.
him from report, as having been seen in Egypt. Pausanaias calls him an Ethiopic bull; in the same manner the Romans called the elephants Lucani boves, Lucanian oxen, as being first seen in that part of Magna Grecia. Pompey exhibited him first in Italy; and he was often produced in games a slow as Heliogabalus.
As all these were from Asia, it seems most probable they had but one horn; and they are represented as such in the medals of Domitian. Yet Martial * speaks of one with two horns; and the reality of the rhinoceros so armed being till now uncertain, commentators have taken pains to persuade us that this was an error of the poet; but there can be now no doubt that the poet was right, and the commentators wrong, a case that often happens.
* Martial. De Spectac.
I do not know from what authority the author of the Encyclopaedia * refers to the medals of Domitian, where the rhinoceros, he says, has a double horn; in all those that have been published, one horn only is figured.
See Supplement to Chamber’s Dictionary.
The use made of these horns is in the turning loom; they are made into cups, and sold to ignorant people, as containing antidotes against poisons; for this quality they generally make part of the presents of the Mogul and kings of Persia at Constantinople. Some modern naturalists have scarce yet given over this prejudice; which might have had a possibility of truth while the Galenical school flourished, and vegetable poisons were chiefly used; but
it is absurd to suppose, that what might discover solanum, or deadly might-shade, upon contact, would have the like effect upon the application of arsenic; and from experience I can pronounce, that a cup of this is alike useless in the discovery of either. The handles of daggers are always, in Abyssinia, made of this horn, and these being the only works to which they are applied, is one of the reasons why I have said we should not rashly pronounce that the Asiatic rhinoceros has but one horn, merely because the foremost, or round horn, is the only one of the many that have been sent from India. In Abyssinia we seldom see the hunters at the pains to cut off or bring to market the second horn of the rhinoceros they have slain, because, being flat, in place of round, it has not diameter or substance enough to serve for the uses just spoken of; so that the round horn is the only one that appears either at Gondar or Cairo; and if we were to judge from this circumstance, the African rhinoceros is unicorn for the same reason as the Asiatic. The horns of this animal are hard and solid, of a reddish brown on the outside, a yellow inclining to gold within, and the heart a spot of black, which occupies the space of near two inches where the diameter of the horn is five. The surface takes a perfect polish, but when dried is very liable to splinter and crack. It likewise warps with heat, and scratches easily. And this was the reason that, though exceeding beautiful when new, it never would endure any time when made into the form of a snuff-box, but warped and split with the heat of the pocket; though this I believe was chiefly owing to the lamina, or flat pieces into which it was cut, being always left too thin. The foremost of these horns crook inward at the point, but by no means with so sudden a curve as is represented by the Count of Buffon. How sensible the animal is in
this part, may be known from the accident I was eye-witness to in hunting him at Tcherkin, where a musket-ball breaking off a point of that horn, gave him such a shock, as to deprive him for an instant of all appearance of life. Behind the foremost, or crooked horn, is the flat straight one, and again immediately behind that I have seen distinctly the rudiments of a third, and the horn full an inch long. If we may judge by its base, it would seem this third horn was intended to be as long as the other two.
The hunters of these large beasts are called Agageer, from Agara, to kill, by cutting the hams, or tendon of Achilles, with a sword. I have already described the manner of this hunting. These Agageers, the only people that have an opportunity of observing, if they would only tell what they observe truly, say, they frequently see rhinoceroses with three horns grown; that this last is round, but does not crook at the point, and is not quite so longas are the other two, nor tapered so much as the foremost or crooked one; but this I leave entirely upon their veracity. I never did see the animal myself, nor three grown horns adhering to each other, as I have seen two. So if this is truth, here is a third species of this quadruped. They say the third horn is only upon the male, and does not grow till he is advanced in years; the double horn which I have is fixed to a strong muscle or cartilage; when dry, exceedingly tough. It comes down the os frntis, and along the bone of the nose; but not having observed accurately enough at the time the carcase was lying before me, I do not remember how this muscle terminated or was made fast, either at the occiput or on the nose. It has been imagined by several that the horn of the rhinoceros and the teeth of the elephant were arms which nature gave them against each other. That want of food, and vexation from being
deprived of their natural habits, may take any two beasts of nearly equal strength fight or destroy each other, cannot be doubted; and accordingly we see that the Romans made these two animals fight at shows and public games: but this is not nature, but the artifice of man; there must be some better reason for this extraordinary construction of these two animals, as well as the different one of that of so many others. They have been placed in extensive woods and deserts, and there they hide themselves in the most inaccessible places; food in great plenty is round about them; they are not carnivorous, they are not rivals in love; what motive can they have for this constant premeditated desire of fighting?
I have said the rhinoceros does not eat hay or grass, but lives entirely upon trees; he does not spare the most thorny ones, but rather seems to be fond of them; and it is not a small branch that can escape his hunger, for he has the strongest jaws of any creature I know, and best adapted to grinding or bruising any thing that makes resistance. He has twenty-eight teeth in all, six of which are grinders, and I have seen short undigested pieces of wood, full three inches diameter, voided in his excrements; and the same thing of the elephant.
But besides these trees, capable of most resistance, there are in these vast forests within the rains, trees of a softer consistence, and of a very succulent quality, which seem to be destined for his principal food. For the purpose of gaining the highest branches of these, his upper lip is capable of being lengthened out so as to increase his power of laying hold with this in the same manner as the elephant does with his trunk. With this lip, and the assistance of his tongue, he pulls down the upper branches which have most leaves,
and these he devours first; having stript the tree of its branches, he does not threfore abandon it, but placing his snout as low in the trunk as he finds his horn will enter, he rips up the body of the tree, and reduces it to thin pieces, like so many laths; and when he has thus prepared it, he embraces as much of it as he can in his monstrous jaws, and twists it round with as much ease as an ox would do a root of celery, or any such pot-herb or garden-stuff.
Such, too, is the practice of the elephant. We saw, at every step in these immense forests, trees in different progresses of this operation, some divested of their leaves and branches, and cut over as far down the trunk as was soft, and pliable, and capable of being snapped off by one bite, without splitting or laceration; others, where the trunk was cut into laths or ribbands, some of which were eaten in part, others prepared, but which had been left from satiety or apprehension of danger, a feast without labour for the next that should find it. In some places we saw the trees all consumed, but a stump that remained about a foot from the ground, and these were of the most succulent kind, and there we distinctly perceived the beginning of the first laceration from the bottom; and what, beside the testimony of the hunters, confirmed this fact beyond doubt was, that in several places large pieces of the teeth of elephants, and horns of the rhinoceros, were brought to us, partly found lying on the ground at the foot of these trees, and part sticking in them.
Neither the elephant nor rhinoceros eat grass; if their food depended upon that, many times in the year they must be reduced to a state of starving; for the grass is naturally parched up in some seasons, and at others burnt purposely by the Shangalla. It
is true, that in Europe their chief food is hay; trees cannot be every day spoiled for them in the quantity they would need. But this is not their natural food, more than the sugar and the aquavitae that are given them here.
The roughness of the tongue of the rhinoceros is another matter in dispute: it is said to be so rough, that the animal with that can lick off the flesh of a man’s bones. Others say, the tongue is so soft that it resembles that of a calf. Both of these are in some measure true, but aggravated by the reporters. The tongue of the young rhinoceros is soft, for the skin is much tougher and thicker too than that of a calf, and has apparently some furrows or wrinkles in it, but it has no prickles nor rudiments of any that are discernible, nor indeed has any use for them. On the otehr hand, the tongue and inside of the upper lip of the old rhinoceros are very rough; and this appears to me to arise from the constant use he makes of these parts in seizing the branches of trees which have rough barks, particularly the acacia. It is, when pursued, and in fear, that we see he possesses an astonishing degree of swiftness, considering his size, the apparent unwieldiness of his body, his great weight before, and the shortness of his legs. He is long, and has a kind of trot, which, after a few minutes, increases in a great proprotion, and takes in a great distance; but this is to be understood with a degree of moderation. It is not true, that in a plain he beats the horse in swiftness. I have passed him with ease, and seen many worse mounted do the same; and though it is certainly true, that a horse can very seldom come up with him, this is owing to his cunning, but not his swiftness. He makes constantly from wood to wood, and forces himself into the thickest part of them. The trees that
are frush, or dry, are broken down, as with a cannon shot, and fall behind him and on his side in all directions. Others that are more pliable, greener, or fuller of sap, are bent back by his weight and velocity of his motion. And after he has passed, restoring themselves like a green branch to their natural position, they sweep the incautious power and his horse from the ground, and dash them in pieces against the surrounding trees.
The eyes of the rhinoceros are very small; he seldom turns his head, and therefore sees nothing but what is before him. His pride and fury, then, make him lay aside all thoughts of escaping but by victory over his enemy. He stands for a moment at bay, then, at a start, runs straight forward at the horse, like the wild boar, whom in his manner of action he very much resembles. The horse easily avoids him, by turning short aside, and this is the fatal instant: The naked man, with his sword, drops from behind the principal horseman, and unseen by the rhinoceros, who is seeking his enemy the horse, he gives him a stroke across the tendon of the heel, which renders him incapable of further flight or resistance.
In speaking of the great quantity of food necessary to support this enormoius mass, we must likeweise consider the vast quantity of water he needs. No country but that of the Shangalla, which he possesses, deluged with six months rain, and full of large and deep basons, made in the living rock, and shaded by dark woods from evaporation; or watered by large and deep rivers, which never fall low, or to a state of dryness, can supply the vast draughts of this monstrous creature; but it is not for drinking alone that he frequents wet and marshy places; large, fierce, and
strong as he is, he must submit to prepare to defend himself against the weakest of all adversaries. The great consumption he constantly makes of food and water necessarily confines him to certain limited spaces; for it is not every place that can maintain him. He cannot emigrate, or seek his defence among the sands of Atbara.
The fly, that unremitting persecutor of every animal that lives in the black earth, does not spare the rhinoceros, nor is afraid of his fierceness. He attacks him in the same manner as he does the camel, and would as easily subdue him, were it not for a stratagem practiced by him for his preservation. The time of the fly being the rainy season, the whole black earth, as i have already observed, turns into mire. In the night, when the fly is at rest, he chooses a convenient place, and there roling himself in the mud, he clothes himself with a kind of case, which defends him against his adversary the following day. The wrinkles and plaits of his skin serve to keep this muddy plaster firm upon him, all but about his hips, shoulder, and legs, where it cracks and falls off by motion, leaving him exposed in those places to the attacks of the fly. The itching and pain which follow occasion him to rub himself in those parts against the roughest trees, and this is at least one cause of the pustules or tubercles which we see upon these places, both on the elephant and rhinoceros. The Count de Buffon, who believes these pustules to be natural parts of the creature, says, in proof of this, that they have been found in the foetus of a rhinoceros. I do not pretend to disbelieve this; it may be, that these punctures happening to the old female at the time she was with young, the impression of her sufferings might have appeared upon the young one. However this is, I cannot conceal that i have heard, not from
hunters only, but men worthy of credit, that this is the origin of these protuberances; and many rhinoceroses, slain in Abyssinia, are known to have been found at the season of the fly, with their shoulders and buttocks bloody and excoriated. It is also by no menas true, that the skin of the rhinoceros is hard or impenetrable like a board. I should rather suspect this to be disease, or from a different habit acquired by keeping; for in his wild state he is slain by javelins thrown from indifferent hands, which I have seen buried three feet in his body.
A musket shot will go through him if it meets not with the intervention of a bone; and the Shangalla kill him by the worst and most inartifical arrows that ever were used by any people practicing that weapon, and cut him to pieces afterwards with the very worst of knives.
I have said that, in the evening, he goes to welter in the mire. He enjoys the rubbing himself there so much, and groans and grunts so loud, that he is heard at a considerable distance. The pleasure that he receives from this enjoyment, and the darkness of the night, deprive him of his usual vigilance and attention. The hunters guided by his noise, steal secretly upon him, and, while lying on the ground, wound him with their javelins, mostly in the belly, where the wound is mortal.
A surgeon of the Shaftesbury Indiaman was the first who observed and mentioned a fact which has been rashly enough declared a fable.* He observed on a rhinoceros newly taken, after having weltered and coated itself in mud, as above mentioned, several insects,
* Vid. Buffon, Hist. Rhinoceros, p. 225. Edwards, p.25 and 26.
such as millepides, or scolopendrae, concealed, under the ply of the skin. With all submission to my friend’s censure, I do not think he is in this so right or candid as he usually is; not having been out of his own country, at least in any country where he could have seen a rhinoceros newly taken from weltering in the mud, he could not possibly be a judge of this fact as the officer of the Shaftesbury was, who saw the animal in that state. Every one, I believe, have seen horses and cows drinking in water seized by leeches, which have bled them excessively, and swelled under the animal’s tongue to a monstrous size. And I cannot say, with all submission to a better judgment, that it is more cointrary to the nature of things, that a leech should seize an animal, whose custom to welter in water, than a fly bite and deposit her eggs in a camel in the sun-shine on land. But further I must bear this testimony, that, while at Ras el Feel, two of these animals were slain by the Ganjar hunters in the neighbourhood. I was not at the hunting, but, though ill of the flux, I went there on horseback before they had scraped off their muddy covering. Under the plies of one I saw two or three very large worms, not carnivorous ones, but the comon large worm of the garden. I saw likewise several animals like earwigs, which i took for young scolopendrae, and two small, white, land-snail shells. I sought no further, but was told a number of different insects were found, and some of them that sucked the blood, which i take to be a kind of leech. There is then no sort of reason to accuse this gentleman of telling a falsehood, only because he was a better observer, and had better opportunities than others have had, and it is indeed neither just nor decent; on the contrary, it is a corase manner of criticising, to tax a man with falsehood when he speaks as an
eye-witness, and has said nothing physically impossible.
The rhinoceros shewn at the fair of St Germain, that which the Count de Buffon and Mr edwards saw, kept clean in a stable for several years, I believe had neither worms nor scolopendrae upon it, neither does this officer of the Shaftesbury report it had; but he says, that one covered with mud, in which it had been weltering, had upon it animals that are commonly found in that mud; and this neither Mr Parsons nor Mr Edwards, nor the Count de Buffon, ever had an opportunity of verifying.
Chardin* says, that the Abyssinians tame and train the rhinoceros to labour. This is an absolute fable; for, besides that we have reason to believe the animal incapable of instruction, neither history nor tradition ever gave the smallest reason to make us believe this, nor is there any motive for attempting the experiment more than for believing it ever was accomplished.
*Chardin, tom. iii, p. 45.
Tractable as the elephant is, the Abyssinians never either tamed or instructed him. They never made use of beasts in war, nor would their country permit this training; so much the contrary, as we have already seen, that Ptolemy Philadelphus, and his successor Ptolemy Evergetes, did every thing in their power to persuade them to take the elephant alive, that they might tame them; but, as he was a principal part of their food, they never could succeed. And the latter prince, for this very purpose, made an expedition into Abyssinia, and was obliged to extirpate these hunters, and settle in their place a colony of his own at Arkeeko near Masuah, which he called Ptolemais Theron for that very reason; after which, he
himself tells us in the long Greek inscription he left in the kingdom of Adel, that he had succeeded so far, by means of his colony of Greeks, as to train the Ethiopic elephant so as to make him superior to those in India; which he could never do by employing Abyssinians.
It is a general observation made in every part where this animal resides, that he is indocile, and wants talents; his fierceness may be conquered, and we see, with a moderate degree of attention, he is brought to be quiet enough; but it is one thing to tame or conquer his fierceness, and another to make him capable of instruction; and it seems apparently allowed to be his case, that he had not capacity. A steady, uniform fierceness in the brute creation, is to be subdued by care and by hunger; this is not the case with him, his violent transports of fury upon being hungry, or not being served in the instant with food, seems to bar this manner of taming him. His behaviour is not that of anyother animal; his revenge and fury are directed as much against himself as against an enemy; he knocks his head against the wall, or the manger, with a seeming intention to destroy himself, nay, he does destroy himself iften. That sent from India to Emanuel king of Portugal, in the year 1513, and by him presented to the pope, was the cause the ship * that carried him was sunk and lost; and the one that was shewn in France purposely drowned itself going to Italy.
* Trans. Philosoph. No. 470.
The rhinoceros and the elephant are the principal food of the Shangalla. The manner of preparing the flesh i have already described, and shall not repeat. He is eaten too with great greediness by all the inhabitants of the low country, and Atbara. The most delicate
part about him is supposed to be the soles of his feet, which are soft like those of a acamel, and of a gristly substance; the rest of the flesh seems to resemble that of the hog, but is much coarser. It smells of musk, and is otherwise very tastelss; i should think it would be more so to the negroes and hunters, who eat it without salt. The only hair about it is at the tip of its tail; they are there few and scattered, but thick as the lowest wire of a harpsichord; ten of these, fastened side by side, at the distance of half an inch from each other, in the figure of a man’s hand, make a whip which will bring the blood at every stroke.
This rhinoceros was thirteen feet from the nose to its anus; and very little less than seven feet when he stood, measuring from the sole of his fore-foot to the top of the shoulder. The first horn was fourteen inches. The second something less than thirteen inches. The flat part of the horn, where it was bare at its base, and divested of hairs, was four inches, and the top two inches and a half broad. In the middle it was an inch and a quarter thick; it was shaped like a knife; the back two inches, and, when turned, measured one-fourth of an inch at the edge.
It seems now to be a point agreed upon by travellers and naturalists, that the famous animal, having one horn only upon his forehead, is the fancifil creation of poets and painters; to them I should willingly leave it, but a Swedish naturalist, Dr Sparman, who has lately published two volumes in quarto, in which he has distinguished himself by his low illiberal abuse of learned foreigners, as much as by the fulsome flattery he has bestowed on his own countrymen, has shewed an inclination to revive this antiquated fable. I do not, for my own part, believe the authority will be thought sufficient, or have many followers. The
publisher, by way of apology, as I suppose, for his rusticity and ill-manners, says, that he was employed in labour to earn a sufficient sum upon which to travel. What labour he applied to is not said; it was not a lucrative occupation surely, or the Doctor was not an able labourer, as the sum produced was but 38 dollars, and i really think his knowledge acquired seems to be pretty much in proportion to his funds.
Kolbe mentions what would seem a variety of the rhinoceros at the Cape. He says it has one horn upon its nose, and another upon its forehead. This the Count de Buffon thinks is untrue, and, from other circumstances of the narrative, supposes that Kolbe never saw this rhinoceros, and has described it only from hearsay. Though this, too, is Doctor Sparman’s opinion, yet, unwilling to let slip an opportunity of contradicting the Count de Buffon, he taxes it as an improper criticism upon this rhinoceros of Kolbe: he says the description is a just onbe, and that a man of the Count’s learning should have known that the forehead and nose of all animals were near each other. Although he has given a strange drawing of the skeleton of the head of a rhinoceros, where the nose and the forehead are very distinctly different, yet, in another drawing, he has figured his rhinoceros bicornis, with a head seemingly all nose, and much liker an ass than any thing we have seen presented to be a rhinoceros since the times of Albert durer. He pretends that, in his travels at the Cape, he saw an animal of this form, which had two horns upon his forehead, or his nose, whichever he pleases to call them. If such an animal does really exist, it is undoubtedly a new species; it has not the armour or plaited skin, seen in every rhinoceros till this time. He tells us a heap of wonderful stories about it, and
claims the honour of being the first discoverer of it, and really, i believe, he is so far in the right, that if he can prove what he says to be true, there is no one that will pretend to dispute this point with him. Besides its having a skin without plaits, it has two horns on the forehead, so loose that they clash against one another, and make a noise when the animal is running: then he has one of these only that are moveable, which he turns to one side or the other when he chooses to dig roots; an imagination scracely possible, I think, to any one who has ever seen a rhinoceros. With these loose and clashing horns he diverts himself by throwing a man and horse into the air, and, though but five feet high, at other times he throws a loaded, covered waggon, drawn by two oxen, over hedges into the fields.
This rhinoceros very luckily is not carnivorous; and although he is among the swiftest of animals, and smells and scents people at a great distance, yet, with all these advantages, though his constant occupation, according to Dr Sparman, seems to be hunting waggons and men also, he never was so successful as to kill but one man, as far as was ever known.