« ForrigeFortsæt »
THE SENSES OF ANIMALS.
are connected without understanding what it is? And is it difficult to admit the word of Scripture concerning our connections with a world superior to us ?
“If illustrations and instances of the truth of all this be needed, how many start up to our minds. What do we know of the ox but to eat his beef, and trade with his hide and horns ? What of the sheep, but his mutton and wool? Of the elephant ?—we know that he furnishes us with ivory, and, moreover, that he is a wiser beast, and comprehends many things 'that relate to us; but then our knowledge of all that is within him stops abruptly. We see him die-his body decays, his bones lie strewn about like a great wreck—and we conclude there is an end of him for ever and ever. Why so ? The same fate await ourselves, yet we have very different expectations. The physical conformation of all animals being identical in principle with our own-one general law, with special adaptations, and the apparent, or physical, finality of us all being exactly the same, can be no sort of argument for the annihilation of any class, however inferior. We assume that dumb creatures disform-more absolutely than the grass they eat, which springs up again in its season ; but, honestly speaking, we know no more of the matter than the dumb creatures themselves. When the dog, whose intelligence and faithfulness had won our admiration and regard, stretches himself out and dies, a something has departed very different from skin and bones which remain. What has become of it? Oh, it was merely instinct. Well, where is that gone ? Perhaps it has gone out like a candle-flame blown by the wind, and lost in the wide atmosphere ? A death-puff has settled it. But the candle-flame had no instinct, no perceptions; its diffusion is not the same thing as the departure of the smallest degree of affection or intelligence.
«« What!' it will be asked, do you argue an immortality for the dumb creatures ?' certainly not; but we do think some such inference would be far more logical by close analogy, than their utter annihilation.
“Hath not a dog eyes ? hath not a dog limbs, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions ? fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapon, warmed and cooled with the same winter and summer that a prize-fighter is ? We
do not argue for the perpetuity of dumb animals, but only say there is a something within them which, by whatever name it is called, is spiritually distinct from their material organisation; and all we do is to ask, “What becomes of that something?
“How do we appear to these, our dumb companions, in the world ? Some of them, our domestics, regard us with familiar eyes of mutual understanding to a considerable extent, such as the dog and the horse. So, in a less and lower degree, does the cow; but the bull always look at you with uplifted inquiry and defiance; man delights him not, and the sight of a woman in a red cloak appears to excite his imagination to a warlike mood. But while various domestic animals and birds too, regard us with a sort of knowing look, others stare at us with a vague wonder, hopeless of understanding our strange conformation and behaviour. Again, another set of them seem to speculate upon us; try to make us out; endeavour to break through the inexplicable barrier that divides us ; hold their beads on one side; sniff
, give nervous starts, and cock their ears. The majority, however, either fear us and make off, or else take no sort of notice of us.
“ With the general character, temper, faculties, and habits of the inferior creatures, naturalists are, of course, far more intimately acquainted than the world at large; but the naturalists are only an exceptional class, comprising a few individuals, and even among the highest of these, how little can they fathom of the mind, or what is invisibly going on within those many-shaped, grotesque kinds of beasts, and birds, and fish, and insects.
“ The greyhound runs by eye-sight only, and this we observe as a fact. The carrier-pigeon flies his two hundred and fifty miles homeward by eyesight, viz., from point to point of objects which he has marked; but this is only our conjecture. The fierce dragon-fly, with twelve thousand lenses in his eyes, darts from angle to angle with the rapidity of a flashing sword, and as rapidly darts back-not turning in the air, but with a clash, reversing the action of his wings --the only known creature that possesses this faculty. His sight then, both forwards and backwards, must be proportionably rapid with his wings, and instantaneously calculating
THE SENSES OF ANIMALS.
the distance of objects, or he would dash himself to pieces. But in what confirmation of his eye does this consist, no one can answer. A cloud of ten thousand gnats dances up and down in the sun, the gnats being so close together that you
can scarce see the minutest interval between them, yet no one knocks another headlong on the grass, or breaks a leg or a wing, long and delicate as these are. Suddenly, amidst your admiration of this matchless dance, a peculiarly highshouldered vicious gnat, with long, pale, pendent nose, darts out of this rising and falling cloud, and settling on your cheek, inserts a poisonous sting. What possessed the little wretch to do this ? Did he smell your blood in the mazy dance ? No one knows. A four-horse coach comes suddenly upon a flock of geese on a narrow road, and drives straight through the middle of them. A goose was never yet fairly run over, nor yet a duck. They are under the very wheels and hoofs, and yet somehow they contrive to flap and waddle safely off. Habitually stupid, heavy and indolent, they are nevertheless equal to any emergency. Why does the lonely woodpecker, when he descends his tree and goes to drink, stop several times on his way, listen and look round, before he takes his draught ? No one knows. How is it that the species of ant, which is taken in battle by other ants to be made slaves, should be the black or negro ant ? No one knows. A large species of the star-fish, Luidia fragilissima, possesses the power of breaking itself into fragments, under the influence of terror, rage, or despair. 'As it does not generally break up,' says Professor Forbes, before it is raised above the surface of the sea, I cautiously and anxiously sunk my bucket and proceeded in the most gentle manner to introduce Luidia to the purer element. Whether the cold air was too much for him, or the sight of the bucket too terrific, I know not, but in a moment he proceeded to dissolve his corporation, and at every mesh of the dredge his fragments were seen escaping. In despair I grasped at the largest, and brought up the extremity of an arm with its terminating eye, the spinous eyelid of which opened and closed with something exceedingly like a wink of derision."
With this exquisite specimen of natural history wonders, for which naturalists can only vouch that “such is the faet," and admit that they know no more, we close our digression.
November like the two preceding months has its name without alteration from the Latin, which was so called because reckoning from March it was the ninth month of the year. Among our Saxon ancestors it had the name of Wint-monath, that is Wind-month,—wint being the Saxon word for windon account of the prevalence of high winds at this season; and Blot-monath, i.e., Blood-month, the month of immolations, for blot means blood, -because the cattle, which they now killed in abundance for their winter store, were dedicated to their Gods; or, what seems yet more probable, from the quantity of blood that was shed at this season in the slaughter of so many animals.
The first day of November was dedicated, as Vallancey informs us, to the angel presiding over fruit, seeds, &c.," and was therefore named La Mas Übhal, that is, the day of the apple fruit ; and being pronounced Lamasool, the English have corrupted the naine to Lambswool, a name they give to
a composition made on this eve (Allhallow's Eve) of roasted apples, sugar, and ale.”
All Saints' Day; Omnium Sanctorum Festum; November 1st. —There can be little doubt as to the origin of this observance, though there is some obscurity in regard to the Pantheon, from which it was derived. As the Gods of Rome were too numerous to be contained in one temple, Agrippa erected the Pantheon, and so called it, as some say, because he held the images of Mars and Venus that were placed therein to be of themselves equivalent to all the Gods; or, as others explain it, because the temple being circular it appeared more like Heaven, and therefore more like the babitation of all the deities, while some again assert that it was dedicated to Cybele the mother of the Gods; and Pliny affirms that it was sacred to Jupiter the Avenger. However this may be, it bore a comprehensive name that seems to include in some way or another all the Gods, or,—as Bede not very civilly terms' it, - all the devils; and hence, at the instigation of Pope Boniface, the Emperor Phocas ordered the temple to be purified of its idolatrous dregs, and as it had before been dedicated to all the Gods of Heathenism, it should now be made sacred to all the Saints of Christianity as well as to the Virgin Mary, and this service therein to be daily celebrated. Gregory the Fourth however, at a later period, limited the festival to the first of November, and excluded the Virgin Mary from any share in it.
All Souls', or Commemoration of all the Departed Faithful; November 2nd.—The custom of sacrificing to the manes, or souls, of the dead was an old Roman rite, borrowed from the Greeks, and so common as scarcely to stand in need of argument or illustration. This Commemoration would seem to be precisely the same in substance and not so very much differing even in form; and sprinkling with holy water as a means of purification is clearly of pagan origin.
Gunpowder Plot; Guy Faux Day; Pope-Day; November 5th. -A Protestant festival, held among the higher classes by a holiday at the public offices, and by a particular “ Form of prayer with thanksgiving for the happy deliverance of King James I. and the three estates of England from the most traitorous and bloody intended massacre by gun