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old quarters, which it seems he liked better, though Madras be distant from Pondicherry above 100 miles. This information, he adds, I have from a lady, who then was in India, and had seen the serpent often before his journey, and saw him after he returned."*
In considering the very singular acts above noticed, which are observed in so many different species of the lower animals, it would seem that they arise from some natural sense of which we are wholly ignorant, and perhaps can form no more reasonable conception than of the cause of magnetical attraction. For as the acts themselves do not appear to be of essential importance in the economy of nature, like those which embrace the care of young and the supply of food, (unless the periodical migrations of some animals be an exception to this remark,) it is most probable that, however mysterious, the acts in question are not from immediate supernatural agency, but from the determination of some hidden physical influence..
On the power of Reasoning, or drawing inferences in Animals.
If we come to consider the instances of attachment, cunning, fidelity, sagacity, gratitude, &c. in many of the lower animals, as well as the difference between
* See Ancient Metaph. vol. 2. book iv. chap. 6.
old and young in point of experience and usefulness, we cannot refer them to Instinct as above explained. For we find them so numerous and well authenticated, and these individual actions so diversified and adapted to times and circumstances, that if man is beholden to Reason for this power of adaptation, we must also admit that the brutes are likewise possessed of a degree of rationality. For as far as we are enabled to judge of the uniformity of Instinct, and of the power of the natural senses, these instances of sagacity belong neither to one nor the other. Consequently they must belong to Reason, or that intermediate power which compares and combines, adapting means to ends, and varying these means according to emergencies. For, supposing the higher orders of brutes are conscious of the acts, they can be classed with no other operations of mind, with which we are acquainted.
Yet it would appear, that all the acts of apparent reasoning in the lower animals have reference to some immediate object of perception, or depend on the faculty of memory. As they seem to be nearly incapable of forming any abstract notions or speculations apart from sensible objects; and the want of articulate language must ever oppose an insurmountable barrier to their progress in acquired knowledge, beyond the merest individual experience.
Of simple acts of comparison between a few ideas, we have numberless examples in the brute creation, as well as of their using means to attain their ends.
To begin with a few plain illustrations: An old monkey was shown in Exeter Change, who having lost his teeth, when nuts were given to him, took a stone and cracked them one by one; thus using tools to effect his purpose.
A friend of Dr. Darwin saw on the north coast of Ireland above a hundred crows preying upon muscles, which is not their natural food; each crow took a muscle up into the air twenty or forty yards high, and let it fall on the stones, and thus by breaking the shell got possession of the animal. Ravens, we are told, often resort to the same contrivance. And a lady of the Doctor's acquaintance saw a little bird repeatedly hop upon a poppy stem, and shake the head with its bill, till many seeds were scattered, when it settled on the ground, and picked up the seeds.
Lord Bacon tells us of a raven, "which in a drought, threw pebbles into an hollow tree where she espied water, that the water might rise so as she might come to it."
Linnæus informs us that the martin dwells on the outside of houses in Europe under the eaves; and that when it has built its nest the sparrow frequently takes possession of it. The martin unable to dislodge his intruding enemy, convokes his companions, some of whom guard the captive, whilst others bring clay, completely close up the entrance of the nest, then fly away, leaving the sparrow to be suffocated."
* See Advancement of Learning, book ii.
It is known that the foot of the goat is peculiarly formed for climbing precipices; and the animal is fond of ascending rocky heights.
Two goats, grazing about the ramparts of Plymouth citadel, got down upon the narrow ledge of the rock, and one of them advancing before the other, till it came to an angle, was enabled to return; but in its way back, met its companion, which produced a most perplexing dilemma, as it was impossible for them to get past each other. Many persons saw them without being able to lend any assistance. After a considerable time one of the goats was observed to kneel down with great caution, and crouch as close as it could lie; which was no sooner done, than the other, with great dexterity, walked over him, and they both returned the way they came in perfect safety. And at Ardinglass, near Glenarm, in Ireland, two goats, moving towards each other, over a precipice 1000 feet high, on a narrow ledge of the rock, were seen to extricate themselves from danger by a similar expedient.*
In both these instances the animals looked at each other for some time, as if they were considering their situation, and deliberating what was best to be done in the emergency. I apprehend that mere Instinct would have prompted them immediately to act, instead of thus comparing and judging by their outward senses of danger and expedients.
* Instinct Displayed, pp. 66 & 97.
The author of the article 'Instinct' in the Encyclopædia Britannica has related the following fact, on the testimony of a gentleman whose veracity was unquestioned, and who being totally unacquainted with the theories of Philosophers, had of course no favourite hypothesis to support.
"In the spring of 1791, a pair of crows made their nest on a tree, of which there are several planted round his garden; and in his morning walks he had often been amused by witnessing furious combats between them and a cat. One morning the battle raged more fiercely than usual, till at last the cat gave way, and took shelter under a hedge, as if to wait a more favourable opportunity of retreating to the house. The crows continued for a short time to make a threatening noise; but perceiving that on the ground they could do nothing more than threaten, one of them lifted a stone from the middle of the garden and perched with it on a tree planted in the hedge, where she sat watching the motions of the enemy of her young. As the cat crept along under the hedge, the crow accompanied her by flying from branch to branch and from tree to tree; and when at last puss ventured to quit her hiding place, the crow, leaving the trees and hovering over her in the air, let the stone drop from on high on her back." The author adds, "that the crow on this occasion reasoned, is self evident; and it seems to be little less evident, that the ideas employed in her reasoning were enlarged beyond those ideas which she had received: