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“ First take his head, then tell the reason why;
Stand not to find him guilty by your laws :
613. Why do animals hunt amicably in company, and quarrel immediately the pursuit is over ?
Because the temporary association is generally occasioned by the pressing calls of hunger, and by an instinct which leads individuals to unite their strength for accomplishing an act of rapine or of bloodshed. While engaged in this pursuit, good fellowship continues
; but when the booty is obtained, all community is dissolved, and they either quarrel over their prey, or at once disperse.
614. Hyenas, wild dogs, wolves, jackals, and the hunting leopards, are all striking and familiar instances of such associations. So long as food can be supplied by individual exertion, each appears to provide for itself; but when food becomes scarce, or a herd of peaceful antelopes are passing on their migration, they instantaneously unite into bands, and commence a simultaneous attack upon
615. How do we find that the safety of the weakest animals is provided for as effectually as that of the strong ?
The power of defence given to animals is peculiarly adapted to meet those exegencies to which every species is more especially exposed. The powers of protection are of two kinds :
The first are offensive : these consist in the exertion of force, by which assaults are made by weapons or instruments possessed by the animal itself, and requiring his active exertion in their use ; and such powers may obviously be employed either in offensive or defensive warfare. The horns and the teeth of quadrupeds, the stings and jaws of insects, and the poisonous fangs of reptiles, are of this description.
The second class of defences are strictly passive ; they are as effectual in most cases as the first class, but they require no exertion of the animal to bring them into operation. We accordingly find that these protections are given to the weakest and most helpless animals.
616. The power which the toad has of inflating his body to prevent the possibility of his being swallowed by snakes;
“ The name of reason she obtains by this :
But when by reason she the truth has found,
The diffusion of an offensive smell by the pole-cat;
The spiny hides of the hedge-hog and the porcupine, and the stinging hairs which envelope many caterpillars, are a few out of the innumerable instances of the passive defences spoken of.
But there is still another property which does not come under either of these definitions, namely, the astonishing vitality possessed by such beings as are most exposed to injuries, and by which life is not only supported without food for an amazing length of time, but dislocated portions grow and become new animals.
617. Why have quadrupeds feet of small dimensions in comparison with their bodies ?
Because when an animal is supported on four feet, the extent of its base of sustentation, and therefore its stability, cannot be augmented in a sensible degree by extending the magnitude of the feet. In fact, to have done so would have increased their weight and
diminished their speed and activity, without conferring upon them any counteracting advantage. The Creator, therefore, while he gave bipeds stability by making them walk on the soles of their feet, gave quadrupeds lightness and swiftness by causing them to walk on their toes.
618. What is the difference between reason and instinct ?
Reason means the comparison of one thing with another; and in its more general sense, as applicable to the thoughts and conduct of man, it means the comparison of that which he purposes to do, with that experience in the past, either felt in himself or learned from others, and the result of which comparison is to be the guide of his actions.
Instinct, though possessed by man up to a certain point, is the proper badge and characteristic of the lower animals. Taken in its general sense, it means the capacity which is within ; which borrows nothing from comparison and cannot profit by experience ; but acts from the impulse of perfect objects on its organs of sense ; also is indifferent to, and ignorant of, the past and the future.
“But honest instinct comes a volunteer,
Sure never to o'ershoot, but just to hit ;
The laws which govern reason are moral laws; instinct is alone under physical influence. A moral law is given to man only because man alone has a moral nature, i.e., a nature distinct from his physical nature. The lower animals have only a physical law, which they strictly fulfil. Man is said to be the only ungrateful being which God has created, because, having received a moral nature, he frequently chooses to follow the law of physical nature only: ignoring, or openly disobeying, the law of his moral being
619. Of instinct we can know nothing further than that it is a name which we give to those movements and actions of animals of which we can give no explanation. The word instinct, though we can hardly avoid using it, is never anything else than a subterfuge or our ignorance of the means by which any action of an animal is brought about; and we may rest assured that natural actions are no more performed without means in the unexplained cases, than in the explained ones.*
620. Why will one species of animal allow the young of another species to suckle it?
Because it bas been most beautifully and providentially ordered that the process of suckling should afford pleasure to the parent. So that when a dam has been deprived of its own offspring, it derives some amount of gratification from the suckling of another.
621. Cats have been known to suckle hares ; pigs to give nurture to puppies; and cows to goats. It has even been asserted that human beings, exposed to death in woods by unnatural parents, have been indebted to wild beasts for their nurture, an occurrence which is not a whit more marvellous than animals of one species allowing the offspring of a species totally opposed to it in habits and instinct to suckle them.
622. Why does the attachment between young animals and their parents decline when the former arrive at maturity ?
Because, if the affections were allowed to operate for a longer period, the dispersion of animals, which is as essential as the scattering of the seeds of plants, would be materially checked.
* Partington's "Cyclopædia,”
“O imitators, servyle beastes,
How have your tumultes vyle
And oftens made me smyle."-DRANT.
There are also physiological reasons, which relate to the health, increase, and purity of the species; and economical reasons comprehending the means of subsistence.
623. Why is the faculty of imitation in animals sometimes subservient to their necessities?
Doubtless, in the wilds of nature, many instances of imitation occur unobserved. An animal, unaccustomed to that habit, may, in great extremity, climb a tree in search of prey ; or an herbivorous animal may dig into the earth to find roots. This may arise, either from imitation, or from a latent instinct called into operation only under the promptings of extreme hunger.
But there are evidences of animals in the domestic state frequently imitating some action they have witnessed, when extremity compels them to do so. Thus a dog will attempt to turn the handle of a door, and sometimes successfully, when he wishes to obtain egress ; and à cat, seeing a person eating, will extend its paw, as a human being would his hand, for food.
624. The following is a remarkable account of a dog obtaining food by ringing a bell :- At a convent in France, twenty paupers were served with a dinner at a certain hour in the day. A dog belonging to the convent did not fail to be present at this meal to receive the odds and ends which were now and then thrown down to him. The guests, however, were poor and hungry, and of course not very wasteful; so that their pensioner did little more than scent the feast, of which he would fain have partaken. The portions were served by a person at the ringing of a bell, and delivered out by what in a religious house is called a tour, which is a machine like the section of a cask, that, by turning round upon a pivot, exhibits whatever is placed upon the converse side without discovering the person who moves it.
One day this dog, who had only received a few scraps, waited till the paupers were all gone, with the rope in his mouth, and rung the bell. This stratagem succeeded. He repeated it the next day, with the same good fortune. At length the cook, finding that twenty-one portions were delivered out instead of twenty, was determined to discover the trick, in doing which he had no great difficulty; for, lying hidden, noticing the paupers as they came in, in great regularity, for their different portions, and finding that there was no intruder except the dog, he began to suspect the real truth, which he was soon confirmed in when he saw the dog wait with great deliberation till the visitors were all gone, and then pull the bell. The matter was related to the community; and, to reward the dog " What is his creation less
Than a capacious reservoir of means
for his ingenuity, he was permitted to ring every day for his dinner, when a mass of broken victuals was purposely served out to him.
To illustrate further the use of the imitative faculties under extremities, we have only to adduce the simulation of death, practised by so many species, with intent to weaken the instinctive vigilance of their foes or prey. The fo. has been known to personate a defunct carcase, when surprised in a hen-house; and it has even suffered itself to be carried out by the brush, and thrown upon a dung-heap, whereupon it instantly rose and took to its heels, to the astounding dismay of its human dupe. In like manner,
this animal has submitted to be carried for more than a mile, swung over the shoulder, with its head hanging; till, at length, it effected its release by suddenly biting. The same animal has been known, when hunted, to crouch exposed upon a rock of nearly its own colour, in the midst of a river, and so to evade detection by its pursuers; and we perpetually hear such cases brought forward as decisive proofs of its extreme sagacity.
625. Hou are the wisdom and goodness of Providence displayed in the relation which subsists between the external organs of an animal, by which it procures its food, and the internal organs by which the food is digested?
This beautiful relation is observable in several species of the animal creation. Birds of prey, by their talons and beaks, are qualified to seize and devour many species, both of birds and quadrupeds. The construction of the stomach agrees exactly with the form of the members. The gastric juice of a bird of prey, an owl, a falcon, or a kite, act upon the animal fibre alone ; it will not act upon seeds or grasses.
On the other hand, the conformation of the mouth of the sheep or the ox is suited for browsing upon herbage. Nothing about these animals is fitted for the pursuit of living prey. Accordingly it has been found by experiments, tried with perforated balls, that the gastric juice of ruminating animals speedily dissolves vegetables, but makes no impression upon animal substances.
626. How does the structure of the jaw and teeth of various animals indicate the kinds of food upon which they subsist?
The form of teeth may easily be understood to indicate whether