« PreviousContinue »
so as to arrive at a given season on a given coast or a given climate, with the precision of the expertest mariner."
Bees return home to their own hive after an excursion of some miles, though, from the convexity of their eye, it is supposed that they cannot see more than a yard distant.
Dr. Beattie mentions that he knew an instance of a dog which had been carried in a basket thirty miles through a country he never saw, finding his way, a week after, to his former dwelling. I have heard of a dog which had been conveyed from London to Scotland by sea, making his way by land the whole distance back again to London: and a still more remarkable case was related to me of a dog that had been transported across the Atlantic-not liking his new abode-actually taking a passage in another vessel, and again finding his master in England.*
Although sheep are considered so stupid in their domesticated state, yet, we are told, that a sheep which was driven from Scotland into Yorkshire, made its escape, and after passing through towns, crossing rivers, &c. revisited its native spot in the hills of Annandale. And another from Perthshire came back
*The following anecdote is taken from the Times newspaper :-" A terrier dog, belonging to Mr. Watkins, was taken on Friday to London by his servant, in a close covered cart, and was left tied up in a yard near Grosvenor-square that evening; in the night it broke from its confinement and came home through London, and was at its master's door in Arundel the next afternoon, a distance of near 60 miles.-Jan. 10, 1823."
to a farm twenty miles from Edinburgh. When it reached Stirling, it was fair day: the animal would not venture through the town among the populace, but rested itself at the north side till the fair dispersed, and came through late in the evening.
In "Instinct Displayed" we have several interesting anecdotes to this point, which appear to be well authenticated.
A sparrow which had been conveyed to London from Fulham in a covered cage, found its way back again, after some time, having flown out of the window, looking towards Northumberland Gardens, in quite a contrary direction.
Pennant tells us, that after the Earl of Southampton, the friend of Essex, in his fatal insurrection, had been confined a short time in the Tower, he was agreeably surprised by a visit from his favourite cat; which, according to tradition, having found her way thither, descended the chimney of his apartment, and seated herself by her master.
A cat was taken to the West Indies, and when it' returned to the port of London, made its escape from the vessel, through the intricacies and windings of the metropolis to its former residence at Brompton. And another was taken from a place near Saffron Walden to Hampshire, from which it returned to its former mistress, as was supposed through London.*
Cats which had been transported in bags and baskets, have returned in this way from considerable
*See Letter xxv.
distances. By what sense, or faculty, this is effected, we are quite ignorant and yet there is nothing in the act which assumes the character of Instinct.
With respect to mankind, we sometimes meet with persons who are so peculiarly affected by the presence of a particular object that is neither seen, smelt, tasted, heard, nor touched, as not only to be conscious of its presence, but to be in great distress till it is removed. The presence of a cat not unfrequently produces such an effect; and Dr. Good remarks that he has himself been "a witness of the most decisive proofs of this in several instances, and thinks it possible that the peculiar sense, may, in such cases, result from a preternatural modification in some of the branches of the olfactory nerve, which may render them capable of being stimulated in a new and peculiar manner: but the individuals thus affected are no more conscious of an excitement in this organ of sense than in any other; and from the anomaly and rare occurrence of the sensation itself, find no terms by which to express it."*
Boyle tells us that a lady assured him, she could very readily discover, whether a person who visited her in winter came from a place where there was any considerable quantity of snow: and this not by feeling any unusual cold, but from some peculiar impression, which, she thought, she received by the organ of smelling.+
* Good's Study of Medicine, vol. 3. ch. 4.
+ Boyle's works, vol. 1. p. 429.
In Germany it has of late been attempted to bẹ shown that every man is possessed of a sixth sense, though of a very different kind from those just referred to; for it is a sense not only common to every one, but to the system at large; and consists in that peculiar kind of internal but corporeal feeling respecting the general state of one's health, that induces us to exult in being as light as a feather, as elastic as a spring; or to sink under a sense of lassitude, fatigue, and weariness, which cannot be accounted for, and is unconnected with muscular labour or disease. (Good's Study of Medicine.)
But, as far as I am capable of judging, there are no good grounds for this hypothesis.
The following is one of the most extraordinary instances I have met with of this faculty of finding home, and is communicated on the authority of Lieutenant Alderman, Royal Engineers, who was acquainted with the fact.*
In March, 1816, an ass, the property of Captain Dundas, R.N., then at Malta, was shipped on board the Ister frigate, Captain Forrest, bound from Gibraltar for that island. The vessel having struck on some sands off the Point de Gat, at some distance from the shore, the ass was thrown overboard to give it a chance of swimming to land,-a poor one, for the sea was running so high, that a boat which left the ship was lost. A few days afterwards, however,
* See Introduction to Entomology, by Kirby and Spence, vol. 2, 502,
when the gates of Gibraltar were opened in the morning, the ass presented himself for admittance, and proceeded to the stable of Mr. Weeks, a merchant, which he had formerly occupied, to the no small surprise of this gentleman, who imagined that from some accident, the animal had never been shipped on board the Ister. On the return of this vessel to repair, the mystery was explained; and it turned out, that Valiante, as the ass was called, had not only swam safely to shore, but, without guide, compass, or travelling map, had found his way from Point de Gat to Gibraltar,-a distance of more than 200 miles, through a mountainous and intricate country, intersected by streams, which he had never traversed before; and in so short a period, that he could not have made one false turn. His not having been stopped on the road, was attributed to the circumstance of his having been formerly used to whip criminals upon, which was indicated to the peasants, who have a superstitious horror of such asses, by the holes in his ears, to which the persons flogged were tied."
Lord Monboddo relates the following singular anecdote of a serpent. "I am well informed of a tame serpent in the East Indies, which belonged to the late Dr. Vigot, and was kept by him in the suburbs of Madras. This serpent was taken by the French, when they invested Madras, in the late war, and was carried to Pondicherry in a close carriage. But from thence, he found his way back again to his