ANIMALS.—Borneo has very few large animals. There are, indeed, enormous alligators in the rivers, but there are no lions or tigers; and even the bears are small, and content to climb the trees for fruit and honey. The majestic animal which is the pride of Ceylon, is not found in Borneo: I mean the elephant.
Yet the woods are filled with living creatures. Squirrels and monkeys sport among the trees. The leaps of the monkeys are amazing; hundreds will jump one after the other, from a tree as high as a house, and not one will miss his footing; yet now and then a monkey has a fall. The most curious kind of monkey is found in Borneo—the Ourang-outang; but it is one of the least active; it climbs carefully from branch to branch, always holding by its hands before it makes a spring. These Ourang-outangs are not as large as a man, yet they are much stronger. All the monkeys sleep in the trees; in a minute a monkey makes its bed by twisting a few branches together.
Beneath the trees—two sorts of animals, very unlike each other, roam about,—the clumsy hog, and the graceful deer. As the largest sort of monkeys is found in Borneo, so is the smallest sort of deer. There is a deer that has legs only eight inches long. There is no more elegant creature in the world than this bright-eyed, swift-footed little deer.
This is the name of a great empire. There are three principal islands. One of these is very long, and very narrow; it is about a thousand miles long,—much longer than Great Britain, but not nearly as broad. Yet the three islands together are larger than our island. There is a fourth island near the Japan islands, called Jesso, and it is filled with Japanese people.
You know it is difficult to get into China; but it is far more difficult to get into Japan. The emperor has boats always watching round the coast, to prevent strangers coming into his country. These boats are so made, that they cannot go far from the shore. No Japanese ship is ever seen floating in a foreign harbor. If it be difficult to get into Japan, it is also difficult to get out of her. There is a law condemning to death any Japanese who leaves his country. The Chinese also are forbidden to leave their land; but they do not mind their laws as well as the Japanese mind theirs.
I shall not be able to tell you much about Japan; as strangers may not go there, nor natives come from it. English ships very seldom go to Japan, because they are so closely watched. The guard-boats surround them night and day. When it is dark, lanterns are lighted, in order the better to observe the strangers. One English captain entreated permission to land, that he might observe the stars with his instruments, in order afterwards to make maps; but he could only get leave to land on a little island where there were a few fishermen’s huts; and all the time he was there, the Japanese officers kept their eye upon him. He was told that he must not measure the land. It seems that the Japanese were afraid that his measuring the land would be the beginning of his taking it away. However, he had no such intention, and was content with measuring the SEA.