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Like it is another story, the object of which I witnessed many years ago. A large Newfoundland dog, whose master had committed suicide by leaping from the parapet of London Bridge, morning after morning was seen by me, amongst many others, to visit the scene of its master's folly, and, standing on the parapet, look longingly and sorrowfully into the fatal water below, then mournfully retire.
How much of human nature there is in all this! And when we read the sarcastic question which Hazael put to Elisha, “ Is thy servant a dog that he should do this great thing?” (2 Kings viii. 13), we wish that many who call themselves men by reason of their intelligence equalled the dog in its instinct.
It is recorded of a fine pair of chimpanzees in the Philadelphian collection, who lived in constant matrimonial happiness and seclusion, that one niorning the female dying suddenly the male ape broke out into a truly Asiatic lamentation, tearing his hair, and with a bitter howl, unlike any cry the keeper had ever heard from him before, lamenting his beloved mate. While he cried he was observed to lift up the fallen head and the lifeless fore-paws of his companion, all the while howling most piteously.
We say of each other—we, according to Darwin, we superior apes—that “absence makes the heart grow fonder;" so did our very distant relative in my story. His grief by no means passed away with the body of his friend, and he would never again sit in the cosey corner where he and his wife had so long dwelt in constancy and affection.
You will see where the great difference lies between the man and the brute. The former anticipates affliction, and, so far as he can, applies for and obtains the remedy; this the latter never does because it never can. I once heard of a decidedly exceptional cat, who, on the drowning of her young family of kittens, after exhibiting an unusual amount of anxious concern and sorrow, in the course of a few days suddenly ceased, and, being missed, was found
hanging between the forked branches of a tree, in which it was supposed she had ended her life by suicide.
Before we leave this portion of our story let us think of the ass, supposed to be as stupid as any quadruped, and which has given birth to a variety of disagreeable epithets. When properly trained he will become a very obedient and useful brute, as we learn from the following anecdote.
A Spanish peasant living in the suburbs of Madrid, who had long been in the daily habit of selling milk to his numerous customers, and whose donkey was the bearer of the milk-cans, was one day taken ill. How should the customers be supplied ? The wife suggested the donkey should he laden as usual, and allowed to go on the daily round alone. Accordingly the donkey started, having tied to his ears a piece of paper, upon which the thoughtful woman had taken care to write that the customers were to help themselves to their usual quantity, and replace the measures. The donkey accordingly started on his “milky way,” with everything in order, stopping at all the houses in their regular order, and returned at night with the cans empty; and it was found that of all the customers he had to supply he had not neglected one, and that in some instances, when kept too long, he had actually pulled the bell-handle with his teeth.
We are not told how the poor ass managed if the servants left their empty jugs at the street door to be filled, as they sometimes do; but two lessons are taught in the story, the sagacity of the donkey, and the honesty of the customers. I greatly fear, from my London experience, that such an experiment in my neighbourhood would never answer, either with the beast or the milk.
You may tell me the force of habit is so great that animals, like man, act instinctively, not intuitively. Now these words want digesting before we can really understand what they mean. Let us, then, look at them. Instinct means a mental power or faculty by which, independent of all instruction or experience, animals do what they do. By intuition we understand that power by which the mind perceives the truth of things without reasoning about them : immeiliate perception may define in two words the meaning of the word “ intuitive."
But the lower order of animals have a combination both of instinct and intuition. Wanting a word exactly to express what this combination is, perhaps we may describe it as “ intuitive instinct.” Here is an illustration : it is an instinct of the honey bee to collect nectar and pollen with which to make honey, and other material with which to elaborate wax. The former, the honey, is deposited in the comb in summer to supply food for the winter; and the latter, the wax, is necessary to construct the storehouses in which the sweetmeat is to be treasured.
In some parts of California there are flowers all the year round. There is no winter there, and I learned from one who was familiar with the fact, that in the early history of that splendid country they could not get the bees to make honey; there were plenty of bees, but all they could do the Californians could not prevail upon the insects to make more than enough to last them for the day. A friend to whom he mentioned this interesting circumstance was highly amused, and, laughing at the story, complimented the bees on their good sense, exclaiming, “ Who likes to eat preserved meat when he can get any amount of fresh!”
Here was reasoning and intuition combined. These wise insects, you see, were ready for the occasion ; there was something more than instinct in what they did.
Who would expect to find a like power or faculty in that very disagreeable creature our large garden slug, who, with its 26,800 teeth, commits such havoc with our plants and vegetables ?
A friend living at Croydon told me, very recently, that having been pestered by a large number of these creatures he was advised to cover his garden paths with cinders, to which the slug family has a decided aversion. He did so, but still they found their way to his favourite beds. He was puzzled to find how their soft bodies could crawl over such an alpine way as he had made for them, so gave some dark hours to watching, and was amazed to find they made a pathway first of dead leaves, laying down first one, then walking over that to and with another, until at last the whole breadth of the path was covered with leaves upon which they crossed over.
Now, compare this with the ant whose story I told you, who, having a load too heavy to carry, and not choosing to leave it, patiently waited till the wind blew him and his load home together by reason of his improvised sail, formed of a dead leaf held up by the stalk, and tell me, could any animal amongst the highest kind have acted wiser or better?
In concluding our long story about instinct and intelligence, a subject which has occupied the minds of thoughtful men since man began to think, and will till there is no one left to think, let us learn one or two lessons, and then revert to the little people in their home duties and pleasures.
I observed a dog the other day from my dining-room window; he wanted to get through an outer gate which led to his kennel, but which the wind had effectually closed. He made several ineffectual leaps up at the latch, which stood about six or eight feet above him. Finding the reaching and lifting of the latch to be impracticable, the dog watched till a passer-by approached. I watched the dog then quietly go up, waggle his tail, and look first toward the face of the stranger, then toward the latch. The person at once understood the request, and of course immediately admitted the animal.
Another day I stood in a wine-merchant's cellar in the city. A large black cat was on the floor; she had a desire to reach a very high shelf on which were packed, close together, a number of empty bottles, standing upright. There appeared to me no possibility of the cat reaching this elevation without a smash. As I narrowly watched her I could see very plainly she was measuring the distance from the floor to the shelf, as first she looked downwards, and then upwards ; and at last one leap and there she was, and no sound, neither one bottle knocking against another. .
May we not learn a lesson here, remembering the words, “ Ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee " ?
From the dog I learned a lesson of patience and civility. Both are cheap commodities; they cost nothing, but they are invaluable.
From the cat I learned a lesson of caution. Pussy's motto was what I wish yours to be, “ Look before you leap."
A lady I know very well, accustomed to ride a horse which would allow no one else to sit upon him, explained to me as a secret how this was done. She was of such a nervous constitution she dared never go about in the dark alone, and yet she had conquered that restive horse of hers. How? By taking with her, whenever she went into the stable, a bit of sugar, for which her horse had a special fancy.
From this I learn that you can do more with the tongue than you can with the fist; and as honey is more palatable than vinegar, so is a kind word better than an angry one. “A word spoken in due season, how good it is."
I once gave an elephant a penny, which he took readily with some of the forty thousand muscles which Cuvier says make up that singular trunk of his. A man was standing by, selling three brown cakes for a penny. Of what use was an idle coin to the beast ? About as much use as it would have been to you. No, the money was useful to