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The badger and the seal would appear to deserve a high rank in the power of cerebral constructiveness. The architectural animals also must receive honourable mention, for in their operations a very great range of special activities is put forth under a comprehensive purpose. In the more elaborate societies of the bee and the ant, the social tendencies are evidently under the guidance of considerable force of intelligent self-restraint and skilful combining power.
In studying the influences at work among the sociable tribes, it is impossible not to recognise the probability, if not the certainty, of something approaching to civilisation, or the striking out of valuable devices by the good heads that occasionally start up; which devices are spread by imitation, and handed down to posterity. We find that necessity, the mother of invention, sometimes operates in enlarging the sphere of action of a species. It is stated that in Scotland, previous to the severe winter of 1822, the crows were never known to prey upon the turnip-fields, but being driven by starvation, they did on this occasion resort to them; and having once got introduced to the practice, they never afterwards gave it up: in fact, it was to them like the discovery of the potato to the human race. Many of those exquisite devices that excite the astonishment of the beholders in individual creatures whose genius surpasses what is common to their tribe, are capable of being imparted through imitation and instruction to the less-gifted multitude.
THE HIGHER CONSTRUCTIVENESS.
It seems desirable that we should lay hold of some of the remarkable instances of combining or constructive capacity that the lower creatures present, in order to shew, if possible, that they result from such general laws of being as alone have been here laid down. In the vertebrate kingdom, containing the human subject, and exhibiting throughout a palpable uniformity or unity of type, it probably would not be difficult to reduce all the mental manifestations to the foregoing analysis, or to some slight extension of it. In the other kingdoms, we may recognise so great a degree of similarity as to leave no doubt of the existence of a common plan, but with great range of variety in the detail. The mollusca abound in examples of recondite mechanism, and remarkable means of obtaining their ends. The pearly nautilus, first described by Professor Owen, contrives to raise and lower itself in the water by rarefying or condensing the air in the chambers of its shell by means of a sucker; and the formation of these empty air-chambers is a curious exception to the ordinary mode of acquiring a protecting apparatus. That the animal foresees the use that it will be able to make of the empty chambers, and guides their formation accordingly, is incredible; but once in possession of the abandoned cells, it falls into this peculiar application of them. But it is in the insect tribes that singularity of constructive genius reaches the highest pitch; and in them there would be most difficulty in tracing in detail the operation of senses, instinctive laws, appetites, emotions, intelligence, &c., all under the constructive cerebrum. The difficulty is enhanced by the imperfect knowledge there is of the ways of insects; it is also increased by the apparent inadequacy of their nervous development to account for so much power of intelligence as seems to be implied in some of their operations. This inadequacy, however, may be only apparent; for the brain of an ant, a spider, or a bee, may be really as complicated as the brain of a swallow : it may be an equal endowment in a smaller mass, having so much less of mechanical power to put forth.
In the spinning-spider we recognise the presence of a remarkable instrumentality, which the animal turns to account just as every other creature sets to work with the organs peculiar to its organisation. Being gifted with this viscid secretion, which, when expelled from the body, coheres in threads or lines, it cannot fail to adapt its movements to this spontaneous cordage, to work with it in all its aims, pursuits, and desires. The spider finds that the thread is adhesive to solid surfaces; that it suspends a weight, or that it may float in the air as a buoyant addition to the body; and the animal accordingly follows up these properties with all its energy, and brings them into action in the search for food, in the desire of shelter, and in the provision for depositing its eggs.
There is some degree of illusion in the complicacy of the works or structures of architectural creatures : we are apt to suppose, where we see an intricate web or an elaborate nest, that there is necessarily implied a great force of intelligence and conceptive capacity. But in truth it will be found that a very simple impulse, repeating itself without end under & changing bias, would lead to a very complicated figure. The great impulse in the web-spider seems to be to run threads incessantly to and fro, between all the points that catch her eye. Along with this, she evidently conceives a central point, and an enveloping structure to be formed there ; and under these two aims she works on-throwing across ever fresh lines, till she is exhausted with the labour or satisfied with the work. We must concede to the spider, as to the nest-building bird, and to many other animals, the power of conceiving an enclosure, a shelter, or a rampart, and of discerning the fitness of her material for this end.
We should, in fact, penetrate the mystery of a large class of animal capacities, if we could distinctly understand from what fountains of the animal nature there proceeds this conception of a material enclosure as a means of shelter, and of certain substances as capable of forming such an enclosure if brought together and arranged under the guidance of the idea. Let us take the bird's nest as an example. An animal feels the sensation of cold. It can also discern from the experience of its own wings that an outer covering modifies this sensation; it is farther confirmed in the same impression by getting into sheltered places, in bushes, herbage, &c. These materials afford to it a distinct experience, connecting a certain array of leaves, twigs, blades of grass, stones, earth, or whatever else it may be, with warmth, and also with concealment and protection; which last notions it gathers from its intercourse with other birds, and its terrors at menacing expression. It sees loose twigs or earth lying about, and it needs to have sufficient force of the faculty of identification to discover that they are sheltering material, although not in the actual position to give shelter. We must now suppose that the bird has decided on a position, a place eligible for her abode; that she has learned the value of certain substances properly arrayed in giving warmth and shelter; that
she is aware of her power to transport these substances piecemeal; and that she has an intense appetite or eagerness to have a sufficient dwelling. The constructive head in these circumstances joins all these into a plan or course of action, reconciling the whole : in obedience to what we might term a stroke of genius, she sallies out to seize the fragments, to carry them to her chosen spot, and to give them the sheltering form discovered by her earliest feelings of her own movements, and by her constant experience of the effect of material objects. She builds up a wall around herself; she fastens twig upon twig, or one particle of mud upon another, by whatever means she can fall upon for holding the fragments together; and goes on till her feelings of a perfect enclosure have been satisfied. In this sequence there are manifested some undeniable marks of high intelligence. The identification of particles of scattered herbage or twigs as of the same protecting character as the grassy tuft or the feathered boughs, is a far-reaching stroke of the identifying faculty, and possibly might require a more than ordinary genius to effect it at first hand. It is not to be supposed, unless it could be clearly proved, that each individual would, by its own unaided faculties, scheme and execute the nest in use among its tribe; the mass must work by the help of imitation or instruction of some kind or other.
The construction of an abode for an animal's own individual accommodation, or for the reception of the offspring actually born to it, may be reasonably explained by the possession of faculties like those now described. But we seem launched into a far deeper abyss of obscurity when we contemplate the prospective operations of some of the animal tribes, or the provision they make for progeny unborn. The human parent knows, from the experience of foregone generations, the symptoms of expected birth, and the wants and necessities of the newly-arrived being. To many of the inferior creatures this source of instruction must be somewhat deficient; they live too little in the society of their elders to learn from observation the course of procreation. When, therefore, the salmon travels hundreds of miles to deposit its spawn, and the fly looks out for a carcass for the reception of its eggs, we must presume the existence of a much keener sensibility to the parturient condition in some creatures than in others. The nervous connections between the uterus and the brain would require to be strong and intimate in order to stimulate the prospective activity of the animal. The fact of pregnancy is, without doubt, of such a nature as to affect the whole being most profoundly. A second self grows up within the mother; receiving support; reacting on the maternal system; having its organic condition intimated to the maternal brain; yielding a strong and ever-present sensation of growth and expansion; and at last thrown out by a strong effort to become an object of external regard, after a period of internal consciousness. It is conceivable that the cognisance of the expanding germ may be made as intense and as expressive in guiding the aims and actions of the animal, as if the result were actually foreseen by the help of a past experience. We do not require to assume any new structure or any foreign inspiration to provide for such a case. An exalted uterine sensibility operated by a more than ordinarily abundant nervous communication between the womb and the brain might serve to excite the activity of the animal to provide a reception for a load about to become detached from its body. The instinctive presentiment of some object about to be given forth would require only an extension of perceptive powers belonging to other parts of the system. The distended uterine muscles, by the law of accordance of muscular states, would operate a sympathetic distension of the muscles of the upper and lower extremities, and produce in them a sensation as if these members held an object in their clasp. The internal embrace would very readily cause an imaginary external embrace, or at all events indicate that a something was growing and fostering within, and yielding a feeling of the same kind as if another being were held to the breast. The evolution of a swelling mass between muscular walls is a very different thing from the rise of a tumour in a gland or viscus. Such is the community of feeling throughout the muscular system, that any unwonted action of one set of muscles is transmitted to all the rest, and the character of the exciting cause is thus revealed by the movements that it stimulates in the more susceptible classes of muscles. The sympathies of the limbs, the voice, the eyes, and of the entire muscular apparatus with the pressure on the muscles of the womb, go far to reveal the existence of a solid detachable mass, and might do so with the utmost clearness if the nervous connections were sufficiently good. An increase in the number or in the sensitiveness of the nerve-fibres associating the parturient muscles with the other circles of the body, would account for an increased perception of what was going on within; and no other assumption is necessary in order to account for the unusual force of the presentiment of offspring belonging to particular species.
CRE is no fairer valley in England than that in which nestles the finely - sloping hills, covered to their summits with rich beechwood, the far-famed musical chimes of the antique church penetrate to many sheltered homesteads, slumbering in greenerie, far enough away from the din of a moderately-populous and busy town for the sounds issuing thence to float refined and softened over verdant meads and sunny garden-slopes, even as the rushing of waters in the distance falls dimly and mysteriously on the
St Edwins still flourishes; but Maud Chapel Farm and adjacent ruins have disappeared from the face of the earth, to make way for rows of tidy cottages, rented by labouring-men and their families. Thither still is borne the echo of St Edwins' beautiful bells; and in the twilight, when birds and little children seek their nests, perchance the melancholy yet soothing influence of the swelling and dying cadence may be felt unconsciously by some anxious nursing mother, whose ten woman's heart beats, nevertheless, beneath the folds of a peasant's garb. The site of the ancient monastic pile is still pointed out to the casual observer, but the pleasant homestead, modern in comparison, is laid low in dust, together with its inhabitants.
Maud Chapel Farm was once the abode of a certain Mr Walsingham, a humble and unpretending individual, who, after a few years' practice as a country surgeon, retired from active life on his well and hard earned gains, which were eked out by a small addition to his income, bequeathed unexpectedly by a distant relative. Mr Walsingham, in the society of a worthy wife, gladly gave up his arduous profession for the more congenial routine of a rural existence: it might be that the loss of an only child, who had married young, and died soon after her marriage, conspired to render Mr and Mrs Walsingham averse to worldly pursuits, and desirous of seclusion, where the best panacea was found for such grief as theirs. This lamented daughter, however, had left a namesake behind her, and it may readily be surmised how dear the little Agnes was to her bereaved grandparents, and how grateful they were to Captain Dormer, their son-in-law, for permitting her to reside with them during his long intervals of absence. Captain Dormer was a shipowner, commanding one of his own vessels, and trading to foreign lands—his favourite headquarters when on shore being at a distant port, whither Mr and Mrs Walsingham, with their beloved