Page images
PDF
EPUB

the cold atmosphere, or the dews. After the young have been developed, so as to be enabled to make an effort at flight, she takes them out, and initiates them in the mode by which they are to gain a subsistence, and having thus completed her task, the desire, which had given her such a harvest of happiness, and which had instigated so much exertion for the welfare of her young, fades away, and she is no longer caused to exert herself in their behalf, no longer reaps pleasure in doing so. Young animals, during the time of their dependency on the mother, are tied to her by a strong desire. Whoever has observed the conduct of the lamb, or calf, or foal, will at once perceive how powerful this moving principle is. When separated from the mother, the young exhibit signs of the greatest uneasiness, and as soon as they are permitted, are moved towards her by their desire for her society. It is not hunger that binds the young mammalia and birds thus, for when that sensation is gratified, a desire for the society of the mother is still exhibited: the lamb, after a plentiful feeding, frisks by the side of its maternal parent, and follows her wherever she may be driven; but if they should become separated, and lose sight of each other, as is often the case on the moors, or even in the common pasture, the doleful and oft-repeated bleat of the strayed young one, so expressive of the consciousness of a thrilling uneasiness of sensation, may be heard sounding abroad. Amongst the birds the most familiar example that can be referred to, is that of the common chickens, all of which exhibit a strong attachment to the hen, by appearing satisfied in her presence, and uneasy when temporarily absent from her. The power of this desire is well known to those who keep fowl, and is often made use of by them; the hen is sometimes enclosed in a coop, the intervals between the bars of which are sufficiently wide to permit the chickens to go out, but too narrow for the hen; by this means the brood is kept in one place, by its attachment to the mother, and thus prevented from trespassing. Another way of hindering the trespassing of the hen with her brood

is, to fasten a stick across her back, so as to prevent her getting through the bottom of a hedge, and thus the gardens are often protected from the depradations of the little troop; for however general the desire for food may be amongst them, the desire that binds them to their parent is equally so, and also of a much more powerful character: indeed, if this were not the case, they would be instigated to wander in quest of food, and thus the flock would separate in different directions and soon be lost.

Animals which do not require the aid of a nurse, during infancy, are without either of the desires which I have been describing; fishes, such as the salmon and herring, and reptiles, such as the frog, deposit their spawn and leave it, there being no tie to bind the parents and young together-such a bond being impossible. Some fishes cherish and protect their young, and, amongst the reptiles, the crocodile watches her eggs and exhibits the kindest attachment to her infant progeny. Insects, such as the butterfly, and common blue fly, are without these desires, while the ant, wasp, and bee, appear to be actuated by motive sensations of a somewhat similar nature. In the human animal these sensations are exceedingly powerful: how extravagant is the fondness of a mother for her child; and how warmly is the attachment reciprocated. In some countries there is a barbarous habit existing of sending children from the mother to a strange nurse to be suckled, and in these instances, the nurse often exhibits the same attachment to her foster-child that she would to one of her own, and the infant regards her with the affection, which rightly relates to the parent.

In many animals, as in the human being, there is a liking, on the part of the male, towards his infant, and the young are instigated to respond to the attachment; but these affections are in general of a much less powerful character than the former. In man this feeling is strongly exhibited; he clasps his child to his bosom, and receives a delightful gratification in administering to its wants; and most children, after the temporary

absence of their father, on his return, run to meet him, and express a lively joyousness at his presence.

The consciousness of the presence of water excites in the young water fowl a desire to launch on its surface, and that of the atmosphere tempts the young bird to flight. Some carnivorous animals when made conscious by smell or sight of the presence of their prey, even though they be not hungry, are still instigated by a destructive desire towards it; the tiger and the domestic cat kill other animals for mere amusement; the dog also hunst and destroys from a similar motive. This feeling may easily be experimented on in the kitten, let her be well fed, and supposing her never to have seen a mouse or bird before, let one be thrown down, immediately she seizes it and growls; if the experiment be tried with a rabbit, no such effect would take place, it not being like the carnivori susceptible to the excitement of the feeling which causes such destructive actions. Oppposition or annoyance from animate beings excites anger in animals, and impels the most strenuous exertion to overcome the opponent. This impulse is strongly exemplified in most flesh eating animals.

Fear is excited by the presence of danger. It characterizes those animals whose safety lies in flight; the hare, the rabbit, and the deer are generally controlled by this feeling, though sometimes they exhibit anger.

The impulse to retalliate is sometimes modified by anger, sometimes by fear; the former impels an impetuous attack, the latter a sly, stealthy attempt at revenge.

Several kinds of animals are instigated by desire to associate together during certain periods; the wolves often unite in packs, numerous sorts of fishes swim in shoals, birds flock together, and sometimes like the rooks dwell together; among the insects, the bees, the wasps, and ants live in their communities. Other animals are without the social desire, and live alone or in pairs, being actuated by a liking for solitude or a dislike to their fellow animals; such are the lion and tiger, the eagle, hawk, and robin, the butterfly and spider. The uneasinesses that impel the young bird to fly, the young water

fowl to launch on the pool, the mother to cherish her offspring; and indeed all the more essential operations relative to the preservation of individual and species, whether material or spiritual, are excited independently of the experience of the pain or pleasure resulting from such actions, and are called instincts; but a vast number of the animal uneasinesses are the result of its experience. If pain be experienced from anything, the thought of the thing and the pain become associated by time, place, and causation, so that whenever the consciousness of the thing is excited, the thought of its ability to produce pain is suggested; this thought excites an uneasiness to avoid the painful object. The experience of a pleasurable object, in a similar way produces the uneasiness of liking for it, which afterwards impels to the use of the same object. Thus, through the experience of the abilities of things to produce pleasure or pain, a vast number of likes and dislikes are excited.

It is from experience of the pleasant or disagreeable tastes of various kinds of food that many of the uneasinesses of the epicure arise. Hunger is an original instinct; this impulse in its states of pain, uneasiness, or pleasure, urges the taking of food of a proper sort; but if the food be improper, then, instead of being pleasurable it is generally disagreeable or painful. The effect of this is, that afterwards, when the thought of the particular kind of food is produced, an uneasiness of desire or aversion takes place, according to its ability to produce pain or pleasure.

A vast number of the animal uneasinesses are excited through experience. When man first visits a remote desert, wherein the animals have had no experience of him, they evince no uneasiness at his approach; but soon his destructive characteristics become known to them; in their thoughts he becomes associated with all that is terrible and calamitous; and the consciousness of his presence suggests the knowledge of danger, and this excites the state of alarm, the impulse of fear; the birds fly from him, the more timid beasts hasten away in dismay at his approach, and the fiercer animals, such

as the lion, tiger, and wolf, learn from a direful experience to dread and shun his paths.

There is with most young animals an impulse to copy the actions of other beings, but it is strongly exhibited by the individuals of the monkey and human tribes. The conduct of those around a child excites uneasinesses within it to act similarly; and in like manner the young monkey may be observed imitating the examples set it. The various noises made by the domestic animals are soon imitated by the human infant, and the same desire impels it to imitate the language spoken by those around it. The impulse to imitate sounds is often exhibited by birds; the magpie, jackdaw, rook, parrot, and starling imitate the human voice, and the linnet, canary, throstle, and other singing birds, at times imitate one another. Each bird has its peculiar strain instinctively; but the the young ones are much improved in their own peculiar vocal efforts, by hearing the elders of their own species, when, of course, the impulse to imitate is called into

action.

Many of the instinctive uneasinesses resulting as they do from material states, I have called material impulses, such for instance as hunger, thirst, the liking for exercise, or for rest; the feeling of drowsiness resulting from bodily exhaustion, &c. Other instincts may be called spiritual, as they are excited by the knowing states of the consciousness; as the female's love for her offspring, the feeling that impels the young bird to launch for the first time on the breeze, or the young water fowl to rush to the pool on seeing it. All impulses resulting from experience of pain or pleasure, being the effect of knowledge, come under the denomination of spiritual impulses. The general fact relative to the production of impulse is that it is excited by material or spiritual states, the former meaning the proportion of bodily constituents; the latter, the knowledge excited associated and reproduced by circumstances. The material impulses are local and general; the impulse of pain may be excited in any part of the system, those of hunger, thirst, breathing, &c. are confined to their different organs.

« PreviousContinue »