Brookes’ Universal Gazetteer, page 15
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AFR    15    Af R

afford Here also the camelopard, the tallest an.d
most remarkable of animal forms, with its long
fore-legs and high-stretching neck of singular
and fantastic beauty, crops the leaves of the Af-
rican forest. Though a rare species, he is seen
occasionally straying over a great proportion of
that continent. Here, too, roams the zebra, with
its finely-striped skin wrapped around it like a
robe of rich cloth.

Nature, sporting as it would seem in the pro-
duction of extraordinary objects, has filled Africa
vnith a wonderful multitude of those animals
which bear the closest alliance to “ the human
form divine.” The orang-outang appears to
constitute the link between man and the lower
orders of living things. Standing erect, without
a tail, with flat face, and arms of not greatly dis-
proportioned length, it displays in every particu-
lar a deformed resemblance to the lord of the
creation. It seems even to make a nearer ap-
proach than any other animal to the exercise of
reason. It has been taught to make its own bed,
to sit at table, to eat with a knife and fork, and
to pour out tea. M. Degrandpre mentions one
kept on board a French vessel, which lighted and
kept the oven at a due temperature, put in the
bread at a given signal, and even assisted in
drawing the ropes. There was a strong suspi-
cion among the sailors that it would have spoken,
but for the fear of being put to harder work.
The baboons, again, are a large, shapeless, brutal
species, ugly and disgusting in their appearance,
yet not without some kind of union and polity.
The monkey tribe, now familiar in Europe, and
attracting attention by their playful movements,
fill with sportive cries all the forests of tropical

The insect race, which in our climate is gener-
ally harmless, presents here many singular and
even formidable characteristics. The flying tribes,
in particular, through the action of the sun on
the swampy forests, rise up in terrible and de-
structive numbers. They fill the and darken
the sky ; they annihilate the labour of nations;
they drivt- even armies before them. The locust,
when its bands issue in close and dark array from
the depths of the Desert, commits ravages sur-
passing those of the most ferocious wild beasts,
or even the more desolating career of human war-
fare. In vain do the despairing inhabitants seek
with fire and other means to arrest their progress;
the dense and irresistible mass continues to move
onward, and soon baffles every attempt to check
its course. AVhole provinces, which at their en-
trance are covered with rich harvests and bril-
liant verdure, are left without a leat or a blade.
Even when destroyed by famine or tempests, they
cover immense tracts, exhaling the most noxious
stench. Yet they may be used as iood, and are
even relished by certain native tribes. The mos-
cheto and its allies do not spread such a fearful
desolation ; yet by their poisoned and tormenting
stings, they render life miserable, and not very
unfrequently lead to its extinction. Even a swarm
of wild bees, in the solitary woods of Western
Africa, has put a whole caravan to flight, wound
ing severely some of its members. But perhaps
the most extraordinary of all the insect races are
the termites, or white ants, which display on a
greater scale the arts and social organization for
which their species have been so famed in Eu
rope. They cover the plains with their conical
huts from ten to twelve feet in height; they are
regularly distributed into labourers ami soldiers,
with others holding the rank of king and queen.
This latter personage, when, she is about to add
to the numbers of {he tribe, presents a most ex-
traordinary spectacle, being then swelled to many
times the amount of her natural dimensions; and
when the critical period arrives, instead of a
progeny of two or three, she produces as many
thousands. These ants are far from being of
the same harmless description as the correspond-
ing insects of this quarter of the world. On
finding their way into a house, they devour every
thing, clothes, furniture, food, not even it is said
sparing the inmates, who are compelled to make
a speedy retreat.

Such are the evils to which the people of this
continent are perpetually exposed from the low-
er creation ; and yet they experience in full force
the truth of the pathetic lamentation of the poet,
that “ man is to man the surest, deadliest foe.”
Africa from the earliest ages has been the most
conspicuous theatre of crime and of wrong . where
social life has lost tiie traces of primitive simpli-
city, without rising to order, principle,
01 refine-
ment;-where fraud and violence are formed into
national systems, and man trembles at the sight
of his fellow-man. For centuries this continent
has seen thousands of her unfortunate children
dragged in chains over its deserts and across the
ocean, to spend their lives in foreign and distant
bondage. Superstition, tyranny, anarchy, and the
opposing interests of numberless petty states,
maintain a constant and destructive warfare in
this suffering portion of the earth.

Fever is much less common among native AF
ricans than among European settlers. Africans are
seldom affected with enlargement of the spleen
A dangerous species of lethargy is very frequent
in the Foolah country. Venereal complaints
occur in various forms in Africa, but mostly in
that of gonorrhoea. The
coup de soldi (sun-stroke)
is unknown in this country, although the natives
are in the habit of exposing the head to the per
pendicular rays of the sun during the greatest
bodily exertions, and Europeans, under such cir-
cumstances, seldom have more than a thin hand
kerchief folded round the head. Dysentery is
frequent complaint on shore. Gout is wholly un
known. The diseases of children are few; and
those of women, as may be readily imagined, ar«
greatly fewer than in more polished countries

The limits of the changeable winds of Africa
are about the 30 th degree on each side of the
equator. Within this region are the passage
winds. These blow more or less N. E. in the
northern hemisphere, and S. E. in the southern.
The monsoons, which ai e strong and regular in the
open Arabian sea become changeable on approacii
ing the land. In the Aiabian sea they generally
blow from the E. during the months and interven
ing months of October and May; and during llio

Public domain image from
Brookes' Universal Gazetteer of the World (1850)
















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