« ForrigeFortsæt »
indirect vision, which have their perfect exemplification in the human sciences.
2. The associating principle termed the law of similarity in the human subject is not entirely wanting among the inferior orders of intelligence.
If we suppose that a chicken had barely escaped from being devoured by a fox, and that it on a future occasion descried this fox at a distance, the association of concurring impressions would have the effect of inspiring dread and concealment. If, however, it descried another fox, of different age and size, and if the degree of likeness, in the midst of points of discordance, were such as to recall the first fox, with the accompanying painful sensations, we should say that this was a case of association by resemblance, carrying with it at the same time a contiguous or adhesive association. To detect points of similarity in objects, notwithstanding the presence of circumstances of dissimilarity, is essential to our living in the actual world, and it is an endowment belonging to all sentient beings in proportion to their rank in the scale of intelligence. By dint of identifying like objects, all the experience of one is transferred to the others, and saves a fresh set of trials and observations. The crow that has feasted in one corn-field identifies other corn-fields with the first, and expects without hesitation to derive fresh repasts. Thus it is that the animal tribes, no less than humanity itself, come to know a whole class of things from a single specimen, and to avail themselves of the similarities reigning in nature to shorten the labour of acquiring practical wisdom. Both man and brute are liable to be misled by apparent similarities, and to miss such as are real; but this is no disparagement to the important faculty of identification in general, which serves many a good turn to both.
3. Out of the conjoined action, as it would appear, of the two associating energies now briefly touched upon, with the various instinctive capacities, arises a peculiar complex energy of constructiveness, or combining force, that we have to refer to as governing the higher efforts of the animal nature. The great desideratum in every creature is to be able to bring all its powers to bear upon the execution of its desires, objects, or ends. It is for this purpose that nature has connected all the susceptibilities of the body with all its activities through the medium of the central brain: there all the stimuli run together, and tell upon all the active centres, and whatever movements bear upon or contribute to the effects aimed at by the animal are duly set to work. The proper and perfect unison of the organs to work out an end is, in the simpler instances, the result of the instinctive mechanism already described; as in the case of a herbivorous animal browsing about over the grass, or of one of the carnivori chasing and devouring its prey. But in difficult cases, such, for example, as the manæuvrings of the fox and the caution of the stag, there is an effect of time and experience in controlling and timing the activities, and in bringing trains of association into the stream of mind.
It usually happens that every active weapon or instrument belonging to the structure of an animal is fully provided with nervous communications with all the other parts of the system, through the common centre of nervous action, and is in this way put to employment on all convenient occasions. Nothing more is required than such a method of connection to
insure the application of every species of active impulse whenever it can be of any avail. The electric organs of the torpedo and gymnotus electricus are related by massive cords of nerve to the brain of the animal, and act in sympathy with its wishes and movements. It is in the very nature of the possession of tools to find a use for them, and, in the course of exercising them, to hit upon new and effective combinations not suggested by the original mechanism. An animal feeling itself in a difficulty, and possessing sufficient experience to know that the more obvious impulses will not answer, and able to control those impulses through its anxiety for some one issue, sits still, allowing various trains of unexecuted actions to pass through its brain, till at last an act or combination occurs that experience connects with success in the like circumstances, and the execution is immediately commenced.
We are to conceive of each class of animals, therefore, as possessed of a certain number of susceptibilities and active capacities in more or less measure of energy; and also of the power of harmonising, combining, and arranging the one to meet the other through the medium of a central brain, and as having this power in unequal degrees.*
The general laws and mechanism employed in the animal nature are one thing, and the specific combinations found among the actual tribes of living creatures are something different. We have seen in detail a number of senses, appetites, instincts, emotions, forces of growth and identification, and, to crown all, a combining brain for the execution of the complex actions resulting from the clash of innumerable circles of nervous energy ; and the next stage in the inquiry would be to survey the animal species of the globe, and ascertain what number and intensity of these various elements of mind belong to each. The distinction drawn between the constituents of mind and the characters actually formed out of these constituents, is precisely similar to the distinction between general physiology, which explains the nature of the digestive, respiratory, and other organs, and the natural history of each particular class of animals, or the degree of development of these various organs in individual cases. The animal creation may be classified according to mental endowment no less properly than according to skeleton or viscera; it being of course understood that the best classification includes a reference to all kinds of peculiarities.
In our limited space we can merely indicate by one or two instances the existence of various types of character, or combinations of the universal alphabet of mind, and shew how these combinations may be expressed and described in the general language that our analysis has provided.
There are certain of the elements of mind common to all animal species, excepting perhaps the very lowest, and there are true nervous elements present even in these. The sense of nutrition embodying the two first
The relations of instinct and intelligence to the actual structure of the animal brain have been very much simplified by the able and original expositions of Dr Carpenter in his works on Human and Comparative Physiology.
classes of sensations must be always found ; and in rising a little way in the scale we come upon the other senses-sight, hearing, smell, taste; and the classification of the different species must involve the degree of perfection of the various sensibilities. There are also certain appetiteshunger, exercise, rest, &c.—always associated with the senses, and certain other appetites, as sex, that appear over the large majority of all animal tribes. The instincts rise with the muscular development; a connecting nervous apparatus between the various active organs of the body is never wanting. The emotions of terror, resentment, and sociability are pretty generally distributed, although with great inequality of degree, especially the two last. The development of the all-combining cerebrum, the possession of a good head, is a capital mark of distinction among the different orders.
It thus appears that large differences of degree in the senses, appetites, instincts, emotions, associating forces, and combining head, must make the basis of a classification by minds of the living population of the globe, and that the entire absence of one or more features is not to be counted on as a means of distinction. On this supposition we will select a few examples of the variety of type presented to us in the actual world.
The unusual exaltation of the sense of smell in certain cases is a capital point of difference among the inferior creatures. There is a certain pitch of development of this sense that gives a bent to the whole activity of the animal, by setting up the property of odour as the means of discrimination and the stimulus of pursuit in the daily search for subsistence. The dogs used by the sportsmen on account of their far-reaching scent shew a manifest development of the organ of smell corresponding to the observed delicacy of their sensations of odour.
But the sense of sight is far more frequently employed as the guide of pursuit than any other. The use of this sense gives a more intellectual character to the animal. By its means the permanent features of the landscape are impressed on the mental system, and other animals are distinguished by their aspect and appearance, and a greater development of sympathy or antipathy is the result. The extreme cases of exalted vision as regards distance are found among birds; their commanding position gives them more scope for distant views, and their motions take a corresponding range. It is this long-sightedness and high position that enable the migratory species to perform their distant journeys, and to these journeys they are moved chiefly by the feeling of temperature. The birds, as a class, would seem very susceptible to atmospheric states.'
The varieties of the sense of hearing furnish a basis of discrimination of animal species. This sense is perhaps, on the whole, less complex and less dignified than the sense of sight, but this last sense is more extensively possessed than the power of hearing. The development of the ear goes along with the development of vocal organs, and there is an especial connection between the two in the nervous system. Where the ear and the voice are in tolerable perfection they are put to a variety of uses. Besides the employment of the voice in the expression of the animal emotions, and in kindling up sympathies and inspiring terrors into fellow-beings, it very soon shews itself as an organ of language, or as a means of communi. cation between the different members of a society. Many of the notes of
birds have express conventional meanings, understood by the other birds of the same tribe in cases where a habitual intercourse is maintained.
The musical faculty of singing-birds proceeds partly from their power of voice, and partly from a more than ordinarily exalted sense of hearing, extending to a slight feeling of melody. The power of song, thus remarkably evolved, suggests a remark pertinent to the whole of our present subject_namely, that in the animal nature, no less than the human, we ought to make a distinction between utility and amenity, or between the exercise of the organs for the supply of wants and the gratification of the urgent appetites, and their exercise for the production of pleasing effects of movement or art. The playfulness of some animals, the extensive excursions of others ostensibly and really in the search for food, the sociable tendencies of others, the vocal utterances of many, all come under the head of sensuous enjoyment, sport, or amenity: they are the poetry of the existence, the entertainments that pass away and amuse the intervals of the more intense gratifications. The songs of birds are mainly subservient to the amenities, although entering into the utilities, by providing the language of social intercourse. The strut and airs of the peacock, inspired by the amatory feelings, must be set down as his peculiar style of poetry, amusement, or amenity.
If from the senses we pass to the emotions, as a ground of distinction of animal character, we shall find an extensive scale of difference among actual tribes. The emotion of resentment and bloodthirstiness is a wellknown characteristic of particular species, being usually associated with the carnivorous nature. The susceptibility to terror also occurs in many degrees of strength. It is apt to be accompanied with mere bodily weakness; but not necessarily, for some creatures possess a 'pluckiness' far above their strength. The horse is particularly subject to terror; the domestic cattle, if we except the bull, have the same feature. Beasts of prey in general require a tolerable stock of courage.
With regard to the emotion of tenderness or dependence, it is the true emotional basis of sociality, or of the gregarious nature. The sexual appetite leads to the pairing of animals, but it is this more general feeling of the tender that causes them to find satisfaction in keeping together in flocks. It is a pretty general, although perhaps not a universal rule, that the resentful and bloodthirsty emotion tends to isolation and the exclusion of the sociable, even between creatures of the same tribe. Many of the herbivora shew this sociable and tender nature. Cattle, sheep, deer, elephants, buffaloes, and many other species gain for themselves both the pleasures and protection of the social state-nature having given them a predominance of the tender over the resentful emotion. So among the birds we have a scale of variety—from the haughty isolation of the eagle to the intense sociability of the crow. The social bond once in operation, necessarily comes into play for many of the purposes of the animal; like every other tool or instrumentality of the animal frame, it is sure to be turned to account.
The tender emotion is the original force of attraction, and its gratification is the direct and immediate result: it is the amenity and the enduring enjoyment of life to the class endowed with it. But when a multitude are thus herded together, they acquire very soon the means of being mutually helpful in the business operations of the tribe. This mutual
assistance most easily and readily comes out in the form of guidance or warning communicated from one to another. An object of terror descried by a member of the flock inspires him not merely to fly for his own safety, but, in obedience to his sociability, to raise a cry to warn the others also. So the discovery of a fruitful territory is propagated through the tribe by the individual discoverer. The inequality of powers and capacity which seems to reign in every order of being has a special mode of shewing itself under the influence of sociability: it determines the existence of leadership, and of variety of function, or something like a regular organisation of labour. It is hardly possible for creatures living in society, and having all the senses and ordinary instincts, together with a certain small portion of such forces of intelligence as were described above, to avoid falling into some of the obvious arrangements of society. They must also experience the advantage of adhering to those arrangements, and resent the infraction of them by the unfaithful members of the body.
Under the head of intelligence we might trace great varieties of endowment among the animal tribes. One great fact of intelligence, as manifested in the lower creation, is the resistance to a present impulse by an enduring impression resulting from experience. A creature has its wrathful feelings stirred by the sight of a rival or an enemy, but it retains from its past actions the sense of its inability to grapple with the other in fair fight, and it stifles its resentment. So in the case just alluded to of the observance of social rules and restraints; this sense of the advantage derived from adherence to a certain plan of action overbears the impulses that would break away from it, and maintains the framework of social order. In the human organisation intellect takes a lofty sweep, and detaches itself from motive power in order to work out high combinations of science and art; but in the inferior orders it is more thoroughly allied with action and practice. The overruling of temporary stimulants, and the impulses of the moment, by permanent habits of being arising from experience, is a very general expression of the way that the intellectual forces operate in the animal creation. All animals whose intelligence is proved by their docility shew also this power of self-restraint. It is an essential preliminary to the employment of cunning, stratagem, or indirect means for the attainment of ends.
The constructive or combining cerebrum, the good head, is the consummation of the animal capacity, and measures the degree to which the various active organs can be turned to account. Combination, plot, dexterity, are all symptoms of a brain well organised at the central concourse of the faculties. A creature may be admirable at the chase or in pursuit ; unsurpassed in aiming its weapons ; far-seeing, and good at the recognition of its ground; it may burn with resentful energy, or melt with tender emotion ; and yet it may never rise above common place: these various powers may act well their separate parts without ever coming together in a grand overwhelming combination. The hands may be good and the head poor. In goodness of head, in this sense of employing skilful combinations, the fox seems to bear the palm among quadrupeds; the elephant, if not so habitually dexterous, shews remarkable instances of deep-laid plot and sagacity. The intellectual perceptions of the elephant are manifestly good, whence it happens that his combinations take a highly intellectual form.