INTRODUCTION The parents of the learned child(His father and his mother)Were utterly aghast to noteThe facts he would at random quoteOn creatures curious, rare and wild;And wondering, asked each other: "An idle little child like this,How is it that he knowsWhat years of close analysisAre powerless to disclose?Our brains are trained, our books are big,And yet we always fail To answer why the Guinea-pigIs born without a tail. Or why the Wanderoo should rantIn wild, unmeaning rhymes, Whereas the Indian ElephantWill only read The Times. Perhaps he found a way to slipUnnoticed to the Zoo,And gave the Pachyderm a tip,Or pumped the Wanderoo.Or even by an artful planDeceived our watchful eyes,And interviewed the Pelican,Who is extremely wise." "Oh! no," said he, in humble tone,With shy but conscious look,"Such facts I never could have knownBut for this little book." FOOTNOTE:
Sometimes called the "Lion-tailed or tufted Baboon of Ceylon."
The Python A Python I should not advise,—It needs a doctor for its eyes,And has the measles yearly. However, if you feel inclinedTo get one (to improve your mind,And not from fashion merely),Allow no music near its cage; And when it flies into a rageChastise it, most severely. I had an aunt in YucatanWho bought a Python from a manAnd kept it for a pet.She died, because she never knewThese simple little rules and few;— The Snake is living yet.
The Welsh Mutton The Cambrian Welsh or Mountain SheepIs of the Ovine race,His conversation is not deep,But then—observe his face!
The Porcupine What! would you slap the Porcupine?Unhappy child—desist!Alas! that any friend of mineShould turn Tupto-philist. To strike the meanest and the leastOf creatures is a sin, How much more bad to beat a beastWith prickles on its skin. FOOTNOTE:
From τυπτω=I strike; φιλεω=I love; one that loves to strike. The word is not found in classical Greek, nor does it occur among the writers of the Renaissance—nor anywhere else.
The Scorpion The Scorpion is as black as soot,He dearly loves to bite;He is a most unpleasant bruteTo find in bed, at night.
The Crocodile Whatever our faults, we can always engageThat no fancy or fable shall sully our page,So take note of what follows, I beg.This creature so grand and august in its age,In its youth is hatched out of an egg. And oft in some far Coptic townThe Missionary sits him downTo breakfast by the Nile:The heart beneath his priestly gownIs innocent of guile; When suddenly the rigid frownOf Panic is observed to drownHis customary smile. Why does he start and leap amain, And scour the sandy Libyan plain Like one that wants to catch a train, Or wrestles with internal pain? Because he finds his egg contain—Green, hungry, horrible and plain—An Infant Crocodile.
The Vulture The Vulture eats between his meals,And that's the reason why He very, very rarely feelsAs well as you and I....