Зображення сторінки


ciple which acted in these different animals cannot be termed reason, so when we call it instinct, we mean something we have no knowledge of. To me,

as I hinted in my last paper, it seems the immediate 5 direction of Providence, and such an operation of

the supreme Being, as that which determines all the portions of matter to their proper centers. A modern philosopher, quoted by Monsieur Bayle

in his learned Dissertation on the Souls of Brutes, 10 delivers the same opinion, though in a bolder form

of words, where he says, Deus est anima brutorum, "God himself is the soul of brutes.” Who can tell what to call that seeming sagacity in animals, which

directs them to such food as is proper for them, and 15 makes them naturally avoid whatever is noxious or

unwholesome? Tully has observed that a lamb no sooner falls from its mother, but immediately and of its own accord it applies itself to the teat.

Dampier, in his Travels, tells us, that when seamen 20 are thrown upon any of the unknown coasts of

America, they never venture upon the fruit of any tree, how tempting soever it may appear, unless they observe that it is marked with the pecking of

birds; but fall on without any fear or apprehension 25 where the birds have been before them.

But notwithstanding animals have nothing like the use of reason, we find in them all the lower parts of our nature, the passions and senses, in their greatest strength and perfection. And here it is

worth our observation, that all beasts and birds of prey are wonderfully subject to anger, malice, revenge, and all the other violent passions that may animate them in search of their proper food; as those that are incapable of defending themselves, 5 or annoying others, or whose safety lies chiefly in their flight, are suspicious, fearful, and apprehensive of everything they see or hear; whilst others, that are of assistance and use to man, have their natures softened with something mild and tractable, and 10 by that means are qualified for a domestic life. In this case the passions generally correspond with the make of the body. We do not find the fury of a lion in so weak and defenceless an animal as a lamb; nor the meekness of a lamb in a creature so armed 15 for battle and assault as the lion.

In the same manner, we find that particular animals have a more or less exquisite sharpness and sagacity in those particular senses which most turn to their advantage, and in which their safety and welfare 20 is the most concerned.

Nor must we here omit that great variety of arms with which nature has differently fortified the bodies of several kind of animals, such as claws, hoofs, horns, teeth, and tusks, a tail, a sting, a trunk, or a 25 proboscis. It is likewise observed by naturalists, that it must be some hidden principle, distinct from what we call reason, which instructs animals in the use of these their arms, and teaches them to manage

them to the best advantage; because they naturally defend themselves with that part in which their strength lies, before the weapon be formed in it; as

is remarkable in lambs, which, though they are 5 bred within doors, and never saw the actions of

their own species, push at those who approach them with their foreheads, before the first budding of a horn appears.

I shall add to these general observations an 10 instance, which Mr. Locke has given us of Provi

dence even in the imperfections of a creature which seems the meanest and the most despicable in the whole animal world. “We may," says he, "from

the make of an oyster or cockle, conclude, that it 15 has not so many nor so quick senses as a man, or

several other animals; nor if it had, would it, in that state and incapacity of transferring itself from one place to another, be bettered by them. What

good would sight and hearing do to a creature, that 20 cannot move itself to or from the object, wherein

at a distance it perceives good or evil? And would not quickness of sensation be an inconvenience to an animal that must be still where chance has once

placed it, and there receive the afflux of colder or 25 warmer, clean or foul water, as it happens to come to it?

I shall add to this instance out of Mr. Locke another out of the learned Dr. More, 4 who cites it from Cardan,5 in relation to another animal which

Providence has left defective, but at the same time has shown its wisdom in the formation of that organ in which it seems chiefly to have failed. “What is more obvious and ordinary than a mole? and yet what more palpable argument of Providence 5 than she? The members of her body are so exactly fitted to her nature and manner of life: for her dwelling being under ground, where nothing is to be seen, nature has so obscurely fitted her with eyes, that naturalists can scarce agree whether she 10 have any sight at all, or no. But for amends, what she is capable of for her defence and warning of danger, she has very eminently conferred upon her; for she is exceeding quick of hearing. And then her short tail and short legs, but broad fore-feet armed 15 with sharp claws; we see by the event to what purpose they are, she so swiftly working herself under ground, and making her way so fast in the earth as they that behold it cannot but admire it. Her legs therefore are short, that she need dig no 20 more than will serve the mere thickness of her body; and her fore-feet are broad, that she may scoop away much earth at a time; and little or no tail she has, because she courses it not upon the ground, like the rat or mouse, of whose kindred she is; but 25 lives under the earth, and is fain to dig herself a dwelling there. And she making her way through so thick an element, which will not yield easily as the air or the water, it had been dangerous to have

drawn so long a train behind her; for her enemy might fall upon her rear, and fetch her out before she had completed or got full possession of her works.”

I cannot forbear mentioning Mr. Boyle's remark 5 upon this last creature, who I remember somewhere

in his works observes, that though the mole be not totally blind (as it is commonly thought) she has not sight enough to distinguish particular objects. Her

eye is said to have but one humor in it, which 10 is supposed to give her the idea of light, but of

nothing else, and is so formed that this idea is probably painful to the animal. Whenever she comes up into broad day she might be in danger of

being taken, unless she were thus affected by a light 15 striking upon her eye, and immediately warning her

to bury herself in her proper element. More sight would be useless to her, as none at all might be fatal.

I have only instanced such animals as seem the 20 most imperfect works of nature; and if Providence

shows itself even in the blemishes of these creatures, how much more does it discover itself in the several endowments which it has variously bestowed upon

such creatures as are more or less finished and com25 pleted in their several faculties, according to the condition of life in which they are posted.

I could wish our Royal Society 'would compile a body of natural history, the best that could be gathered together from books and observations. If

« НазадПродовжити »