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Descent of Man [ 1871 ]

Charles Darwin [ 1809 - 1882 ]

 

Chapter III - Comparison of the Mental Powers of Man and the Lower Animals


  WE HAVE seen in the last two chapters that man bears in his bodily
structure clear traces of his descent from some lower form; but it may
be urged that, as man differs so greatly in his mental power from
all other animals, there must be some error in this conclusion. No
doubt the difference in this respect is enormous, even if we compare
the mind of one of the lowest savages, who has no words to express any
number higher than four, and who uses hardly any abstract terms for
common objects or for the affections,* with that of the most highly
organised ape. The difference would, no doubt, still remain immense,
even if one of the higher apes had been improved or civilised as
much as a dog has been in comparison with its parent-form, the wolf or
jackal. The Fuegians rank amongst the lowest barbarians; but I was
continually struck with surprise how closely the three natives on
board H. M. S. Beagle, who had lived some years in England, and
could talk a little English, resembled us in disposition and in most
of our mental faculties. If no organic being excepting man had
possessed any mental power, or if his powers had been of a wholly
different nature from those of the lower animals, then we should never
have been able to convince ourselves that our high faculties had
been gradually developed. But it can be shewn that there is no
fundamental difference of this kind. We must also admit that there
is a much wider interval in mental power between one of the lowest
fishes, as a lamprey or lancelet, and one of the higher apes, than
between an ape and man; yet this interval is filled up by numberless
gradations.

  * See the evidence on those points, as given by Lubbock, Prehistoric
Times, p. 354, &c.

  Nor is the difference slight in moral disposition between a
barbarian, such as the man described by the old navigator Byron, who
dashed his child on the rocks for dropping a basket of sea-urchins,
and a Howard or Clarkson; and in intellect, between a savage who
uses hardly any abstract terms, and a Newton or Shakespeare.
Differences of this kind between the highest men of the highest
races and the lowest savages, are connected by the finest
gradations. Therefore it is possible that they might pass and be
developed into each other.
  My object in this chapter is to shew that there is no fundamental
difference between man and the higher mammals in their mental
faculties. Each division of the subject might have been extended
into a separate essay, but must here be treated briefly. As no
classification of the mental powers has been universally accepted, I
shall arrange my remarks in the order most convenient for my
purpose; and will select those facts which have struck me most, with
the hope that they may produce some effect on the reader.
  With respect to animals very low in the scale, I shall give some
additional facts under Sexual Selection, shewing that their mental
powers are much higher than might have been expected. The
variability of the faculties in the individuals of the same species is
an important point for us, and some few illustrations will here be
given. But it would be superfluous to enter into many details on
this head, for I have found on frequent enquiry, that it is the
unanimous opinion of all those who have long attended to animals of
many kinds, including birds, that the individuals differ greatly in
every mental characteristic. In what manner the mental powers were
first developed in the lowest organisms, is as hopeless an enquiry
as how life itself first originated. These are problems for the
distant future, if they are ever to be solved by man.
  As man possesses the same senses as the lower animals, his
fundamental intuitions must be the same. Man has also some few
instincts in common, as that of self-preservation, sexual love, the
love of the mother for her new-born offspring, the desire possessed by
the latter to suck, and so forth. But man, perhaps, has somewhat fewer
instincts than those possessed by the animals which come next to him
in the series. The orang in the Eastern islands, and the chimpanzee in
Africa, build platforms on which they sleep; and, as both species
follow the same habit, it might be argued that this was due to
instinct, but we cannot feel sure that it is not the result of both
animals having similar wants, and possessing similar powers of
reasoning. These apes, as we may assume, avoid the many poisonous
fruits of the tropics, and man has no such knowledge: but as our
domestic animals, when taken to foreign lands, and when first turned
out in the spring, often eat poisonous herbs, which they afterwards
avoid, we cannot feel sure that the apes do not learn from their own
experience or from that of their parents what fruits to select. It is,
however, certain, as we shall presently see, that apes have an
instinctive dread of serpents, and probably of other dangerous
animals.
  The fewness and the comparative simplicity of the instincts in the
higher animals are remarkable in contrast with those of the lower
animals. Cuvier maintained that instinct and intelligence stand in
an inverse ratio to each other; and some have thought that the
intellectual faculties of the higher animals have been gradually
developed from their instincts. But Pouchet, in an interesting essay,*
has shewn that no such inverse ratio really exists. Those insects
which possess the most wonderful instincts are certainly the most
intelligent. In the vertebrate series, the least intelligent
members, namely fishes and amphibians, do not possess complex
instincts; and amongst mammals the animal most remarkable for its
instincts, namely the beaver, is highly intelligent, as will be
admitted by every one who has read Mr. Morgan's excellent work.*(2)

  * "L'Instinct chez les insectes," Revue des Deux Mondes, Feb., 1870,
p. 690.
  *(2) The American Beaver and His Works, 1868.

  Although the first dawnings of intelligence, according to Mr.
Herbert Spencer,* have been developed through the multiplication and
coordination of reflex actions, and although many of the simpler
instincts graduate into reflex actions, and can hardly be
distinguished from them, as in the case of young animals sucking,
yet the more complex instincts seem to have originated independently
of intelligence. I am, however, very far from wishing to deny that
instinctive actions may lose their fixed and untaught character, and
be replaced by others performed by the aid of the free will. On the
other hand, some intelligent actions, after being performed during
several generations, become converted into instincts and are
inherited, as when birds on oceanic islands learn to avoid man.
These actions may then be said to be degraded in character, for they
are no longer performed through reason or from experience. But the
greater number of the more complex instincts appear to have been
gained in a wholly different manner, through the natural selection
of variations of simpler instinctive actions. Such variations appear
to arise from the same unknown causes acting on the cerebral
organisation, which induce slight variations or individual differences
in other parts of the body; and these variations, owing to our
ignorance, are often said to arise spontaneously. We can, I think,
come to no other conclusion with respect to the origin of the more
complex instincts, when we reflect on the marvellous instincts of
sterile worker-ants and bees, which leave no offspring to inherit
the effects of experience and of modified habits.

  * The Principles of Psychology, 2nd ed., 1870, pp. 418-443.

  Although, as we learn from the above-mentioned insects and the
beaver, a high degree of intelligence is certainly compatible with
complex instincts, and although actions, at first learnt voluntarily
can soon through habit be performed with the quickness and certainty
of a reflex action, yet it is not improbable that there is a certain
amount of interference between the development of free intelligence
and of instinct,- which latter implies some inherited modification
of the brain. Little is known about the functions of the brain, but we
can perceive that as the intellectual powers become highly
developed, the various parts of the brain must be connected by very
intricate channels of the freest intercommunication; and as a
consequence each separate part would perhaps tend to be less well
fitted to answer to particular sensations or associations in a
definite and inherited- that is instinctive- manner. There seems
even to exist some relation between a low degree of intelligence and a
strong tendency to the formation of fixed, though not inherited
habits; for as a sagacious physician remarked to me, persons who are
slightly imbecile tend to act in everything by routine or habit; and
they are rendered much happier if this is encouraged.
  I have thought this digression worth giving, because we may easily
underrate the mental powers of the higher animals, and especially of
man, when we compare their actions founded on the memory of past
events, on foresight, reason, and imagination, with exactly similar
actions instinctively performed by the lower animals; in this latter
case the capacity of performing such actions has been gained, step
by step, through the variability of the mental organs and natural
selection, without any conscious intelligence on the part of the
animal during each successive generation. No doubt, as Mr. Wallace has
argued,* much of the intelligent work done by man is due to
imitation and not to reason; but there is this great difference
between his actions and many of those performed by the lower
animals, namely, that man cannot, on his first trial, make, for
instance, a stone hatchet or a canoe, through his power of
imitation. He has to learn his work by practice; a beaver, on the
other hand, can make its dam or canal, and a bird its nest, as well,
or nearly as well, and a spider its wonderful web, quite as
well,*(2) the first time it tries as when old and experienced.

  * Contributions to the Theory of Natural Selection, 1870, p. 212.
  *(2) For the evidence on this head, see Mr. J. Traherne
Moggridge's most interesting work, Harvesting Ants and Trap-Door
Spiders, 1873, pp. 126, 128.

  To return to our immediate subject: the lower animals, like man,
manifestly feel pleasure and pain, happiness and misery. Happiness
is never better exhibited than by young animals, such as puppies,
kittens, lambs, &c., when playing together, like our own children.
Even insects play together, as has been described by that excellent
observer, P. Huber,* who saw ants chasing and pretending to bite
each other, like so many puppies.

  * Recherches sur les Moeurs des Fourmis, 1810, p. 173.

  The fact that the lower animals are excited by the same emotions
as ourselves is so well established, that it will not be necessary
to weary the reader by many details. Terror acts in the same manner on
them as on us, causing the muscles to tremble, the heart to palpitate,
the sphincters to be relaxed, and the hair to stand on end. Suspicion,
the offspring of fear, is eminently characteristic of most wild
animals. It is, I think, impossible to read the account given by Sir
E. Tennent, of the behaviour of the female elephants, used as
decoys, without admitting that they intentionally practise deceit, and
well know what they are about. Courage and timidity are extremely
variable qualities in the individuals of the same species, as is
plainly seen in our dogs. Some dogs and horses are ill-tempered, and
easily turn sulky; others are good-tempered; and these qualities are
certainly inherited. Every one knows how liable animals are to furious
rage, and how plainly they shew it. Many, and probably true, anecdotes
have been published on the long-delayed and artful revenge of
various animals. The accurate Rengger, and Brehm* state that the
American and African monkeys which they kept tame, certainly
revenged themselves. Sir Andrew Smith, a zoologist whose scrupulous
accuracy was known to many persons, told me the following story of
which he was himself an eye-witness; at the Cape of Good Hope an
officer had often plagued a certain baboon, and the animal, seeing him
approaching one Sunday for parade, poured water into a hole and
hastily made some thick mud, which he skilfully dashed over the
officer as he passed by, to the amusement of many bystanders. For long
afterwards the baboon rejoiced and triumphed whenever he saw his
victim.

  * All the following statements, given on the authority of these
two naturalists, are taken from Rengger's Naturgesch. der
Saugethiere von Paraguay, 1830, ss. 41-57, and from Brehm's
Thierleben, B. i., ss. 10-87.

  The love of a dog for his master is notorious; as an old writer
quaintly says,* "A dog is the only thing on this earth that luvs you
more than he luvs himself."

  * Quoted by Dr. Lauder Lindsay, in his "Physiology of Mind in the
Lower Animals," Journal of Mental Science, April, 1871, p. 38.

  In the agony of death a dog has been known to caress his master, and
every one has heard of the dog suffering under vivisection, who licked
the hand of the operator; this man, unless the operation was fully
justified by an increase of our knowledge, or unless he had a heart of
stone, must have felt remorse to the last hour of his life.
  As Whewell* has well asked, "Who that reads the touching instances
of maternal affection, related so often of the women of all nations,
and of the females of all animals, can doubt that the principle of
action is the same in the two cases?" We see maternal affection
exhibited in the most trifling details; thus Rengger observed an
American monkey (a Cebus) carefully driving away the flies which
plagued her infant; and Duvaucel saw a Hylobates washing the faces
of her young ones in a stream. So intense is the grief of female
monkeys for the loss of their young, that it invariably caused the
death of certain kinds kept under confinement by Brehm in N. Africa.
Orphan monkeys were always adopted and carefully guarded by the
other monkeys, both males and females. One female baboon had so
capacious a heart that she not only adopted young monkeys of other
species, but stole young dogs and cats, which she continually
carried about. Her kindness, however, did not go so far as to share
her food with her adopted offspring, at which Brehm was surprised,
as his monkeys always divided everything quite fairly with their own
young ones. An adopted kitten scratched this affectionate baboon,
who certainly had a fine intellect, for she was much astonished at
being scratched, and immediately examined the kitten's feet, and
without more ado bit off the claws.*(2) In the Zoological Gardens, I
heard from the keeper that an old baboon (C. chacma) had adopted a
Rhesus monkey; but when a young drill and mandrill were placed in
the cage, she seemed to perceive that these monkeys, though distinct
species, were her nearer relatives, for she at once rejected the
Rhesus and adopted both of them. The young Rhesus, as I saw, was
greatly discontented at being thus rejected, and it would, like a
naughty child, annoy and attack the young drill and mandrill
whenever it could do so with safety; this conduct exciting great
indignation in the old baboon. Monkeys will also, according to
Brehm, defend their master when attacked by any one, as well as dogs
to whom they are attached, from the attacks of other dogs. But we here
trench on the subjects of sympathy and fidelity, to which I shall
recur. Some of Brehm's monkeys took much delight in teasing a
certain old dog whom they disliked, as well as other animals, in
various ingenious ways.

  * Bridgewater Treatise, p. 263.
  *(2) A critic, without any grounds (Quarterly Review, July, 1871, p.
72), disputes the possibility of this act as described by Brehm, for
the sake of discrediting my work. Therefore I tried, and found that
I could readily seize with my own teeth the sharp little claws of a
kitten nearly five weeks old.

  Most of the more complex emotions are common to the higher animals
and ourselves. Every one has seen how jealous a dog is of his master's
affection, if lavished on any other creature; and I have observed
the same fact with monkeys. This shews that animals not only love, but
have desire to be loved. Animals manifestly feel emulation. They
love approbation or praise; and a dog carrying a basket for his master
exhibits in a high degree self-complacency or pride. There can, I
think, be no doubt that a dog feels shame, as distinct from fear,
and something very like modesty when begging too often for food. A
great dog scorns the snarling of a little dog, and this may be
called magnanimity. Several observers have stated that monkeys
certainly dislike being laughed at; and they sometimes invent
imaginary offences. In the Zoological Gardens I saw a baboon who
always got into a furious rage when his keeper took out a letter or
book and read it aloud to him; and his rage was so violent that, as
I witnessed on one occasion, he bit his own leg till the blood flowed.
Dogs shew what may be fairly called a sense of humour, as distinct
from mere play; if a bit of stick or other such object be thrown to
one, he will often carry it away for a short distance; and then
squatting down with it on the ground close before him, will wait until
his master comes quite close to take it away. The dog will then
seize it and rush away in triumph, repeating the same manoeuvre, and
evidently enjoying the practical joke.
  We will now turn to the more intellectual emotions and faculties,
which are very important, as forming the basis for the development
of the higher mental powers. Animals manifestly enjoy excitement,
and suffer from ennui, as may be seen with dogs, and, according to
Rengger, with monkeys. All animals feel Wonder, and many exhibit
Curiosity. They sometimes suffer from this latter quality, as when the
hunter plays antics and thus attracts them; I have witnessed this with
deer, and so it is with the wary chamois, and with some kinds of
wild-ducks. Brehm gives a curious account of the instinctive dread,
which his monkeys exhibited, for snakes; but their curiosity was so
great that they could not desist from occasionally satiating their
horror in a most human fashion, by lifting up the lid of the box in
which the snakes were kept. I was so much surprised at this account,
that I took a stuffed and coiled-up snake into the monkey-house at the
Zoological Gardens, and the excitement thus caused was one of the most
curious spectacles which I ever beheld. Three species of Cercopithecus
were the most alarmed; they dashed about their cages, and uttered
sharp signal cries of danger, which were understood by the other
monkeys. A few young monkeys and one old Anubis baboon alone took no
notice of the snake. I then placed the stuffed specimen on the
ground in one of the larger compartments. After a time all the monkeys
collected round it in a large circle, and staring intently,
presented a most ludicrous appearance. They became extremely
nervous; so that when a wooden ball, with which they were familiar
as a plaything, was accidentally moved in the straw, under which it
was partly hidden, they all instantly started away. These monkeys
behaved very differently when a dead fish, a mouse,* a living
turtle, and other new objects were placed in their cages; for though
at first frightened, they soon approached, handled and examined
them. I then placed a live snake in a paper bag, with the mouth
loosely closed, in one of the larger compartments. One of the
monkeys immediately approached, cautiously opened the bag a little,
peeped in, and instantly dashed away. Then I witnessed what Brehm
has described, for monkey after monkey, with head raised high and
turned on one side, could not resist taking a momentary peep into
the upright bag, at the dreadful object lying quietly at the bottom.
It would almost appear as if monkeys had some notion of zoological
affinities, for those kept by Brehm exhibited a strange, though
mistaken, instinctive dread of innocent lizards and frogs. An orang,
also, has been known to be much alarmed at the first sight of a
turtle.*(2)

  * I have given a short account of their behaviour on this occasion
in my Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, p. 43.
  *(2) W. C. L. Martin, Natural History of Mammalia, 1841, p. 405.

  The principle of Imitation is strong in man, and especially, as I
have myself observed, with savages. In certain morbid states of the
brain this tendency is exaggerated to an extraordinary degree: some
hemiplegic patients and others, at the commencement of inflammatory
softening of the brain, unconsciously imitate every word which is
uttered, whether in their own or in a foreign language, and every
gesture or action which is performed near them.* Desor*(2) has
remarked that no animal voluntarily imitates an action performed by
man, until in the ascending scale we come to monkeys, which are well
known to be ridiculous mockers. Animals, however, sometimes imitate
each other's actions: thus two species of wolves, which had been
reared by dogs, learned to bark, as does sometimes the jackal,*(3) but
whether this can be called voluntary imitation is another question.
Birds imitate the songs of their parents, and sometimes of other
birds; and parrots are notorious imitators of any sound which they
often hear. Dureau de la Malle gives an account*(4) of a dog reared by
a cat, who learnt to imitate the well-known action of a cat licking
her paws, and thus washing her ears and face; this was also
witnessed by the celebrated naturalist Audouin. I have received
several confirmatory accounts; in one of these, a dog had not been
suckled by a cat, but had been brought up with one, together with
kittens, and had thus acquired the above habit, which he ever
afterwards practised during his life of thirteen years. Dureau de la
Malle's dog likewise learnt from the kittens to play with a ball by
rolling it about with his fore paws, and springing on it. A
correspondent assures me that a cat in his house used to put her
paws into jugs of milk having too narrow a mouth for her head. A
kitten of this cat soon learned the same trick, and practised it
ever afterwards, whenever there was an opportunity.

  * Dr. Bateman, On Aphasia, 1870, p. 110.
  *(2) Quoted by Vogt, Memoire sur les Microcephales, 1867, p. 168.
  *(3) The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication, vol.
i., p. 27.
  *(4) Annales des Sciences Nat., (1st series), tom, xxii., p. 397.

  The parents of many animals, trusting to the principle of
imitation in their young, and more especially to their instinctive
or inherited tendencies, may be said to educate them. We see this when
a cat brings a live mouse to her kittens; and Dureau de la Malle has
given a curious account (in the paper above quoted) of his
observations on hawks which taught their young dexterity, as well as
judgment of distances, by first dropping through the air dead mice and
sparrows, which the young generally failed to catch, and then bringing
them live birds and letting them loose.
  Hardly any faculty is more important for the intellectual progress
of man than Attention. Animals clearly manifest this power, as when
a cat watches by a hole and prepares to spring on its prey. Wild
animals sometimes become so absorbed when thus engaged, that they
may be easily approached. Mr. Bartlett has given me a curious proof
how variable this faculty is in monkeys. A man who trains monkeys to
act in plays, used to purchase common kinds from the Zoological
Society at the price of five pounds for each; but he offered to give
double the price, if he might keep three or four of them for a few
days, in order to select one. When asked how he could possibly learn
so soon, whether a particular monkey would turn out a good actor, he
answered that it all depended on their power of attention. If when
he was talking and explaining anything to a monkey, its attention
was easily distracted, as by a fly on the wall or other trifling
object, the case was hopeless. If he tried by punishment to make an
inattentive monkey act, it turned sulky. On the other hand, a monkey
which carefully attended to him could always be trained.
  It is almost superfluous to state that animals have excellent
Memories for persons and places. A baboon at the Cape of Good Hope, as
I have been informed by Sir Andrew Smith, recognised him with joy
after an absence of nine months. I had a dog who was savage and averse
to all strangers, and I purposely tried his memory after an absence of
five years and two days. I went near the stable where he lived, and
shouted to him in my old manner; he shewed no joy, but instantly
followed me out walking, and obeyed me, exactly as if I had parted
with him only half an hour before. A train of old associations,
dormant during five years, had thus been instantaneously awakened in
his mind. Even ants, as P. Huber* has clearly shewn, recognised
their fellow-ants belonging to the same community after a separation
of four months. Animals can certainly by some means judge of the
intervals of time between recurrent events.

  * Les Moeurs des Fourmis, 1810, p. 150.

  The Imagination is one of the highest prerogatives of man. By this
faculty he unites former images and ideas, independently of the
will, and thus creates brilliant and novel results. A poet, as Jean
Paul Richter remarks,* "who must reflect whether he shall make a
character say yes or no- to the devil with him; he is only a stupid
corpse." Dreaming gives us the best notion of this power; as Jean Paul
again says, "The dream is an involuntary art of poetry." The value
of the products of our imagination depends of course on the number,
accuracy, and clearness of our impressions, on our judgment and
taste in selecting or rejecting the involuntary combinations, and to a
certain extent on our power of voluntarily combining them. As dogs,
cats, horses, and probably all the higher animals, even birds*(2) have
vivid dreams, and this is shewn by their movements and the sounds
uttered, we must admit that they possess some power of imagination.
There must be something special, which causes dogs to howl in the
night, and especially during moonlight, in that remarkable and
melancholy manner called baying. All dogs do not do so; and, according
to Houzeau,*(3) they do not then look at the moon, but at some fixed
point near the horizon. Houzeau thinks that their imaginations are
disturbed by the vague outlines of the surrounding objects, and
conjure up before them fantastic images: if this be so, their feelings
may almost be called superstitious.

  * Quoted in Dr. Maudsley's Physiology and Pathology of Mind, 1868,
pp. 19, 220.
  *(2) Dr. Jerdon, Birds of India, vol. i., 1862, p. xxi. Houzeau says
that his parakeets and canary-birds dreamt: Etudes sur les Facultes
Mentales des Animaux, tom. ii., p. 136.
  *(3) ibid., 1872, tom. ii., p. 181.

  Of all the faculties of the human mind, it will, I presume, be
admitted that Reason stands at the summit. Only a few persons now
dispute that animals possess some power of reasoning. Animals may
constantly be seen to pause, deliberate, and resolve. It is a
significant fact, that the more the habits of any particular animal
are studied by a naturalist, the more he attributes to reason and
the less to unlearnt instincts.* In future chapters we shall see
that some animals extremely low in the scale apparently display a
certain amount of reason. No doubt it is often difficult to
distinguish between the power of reason and that of instinct. For
instance. Dr. Hayes, in his work on The Open Polar Sea, repeatedly
remarks that his dogs, instead of continuing to draw the sledges in
a compact body, diverged and separated when they came to thin ice,
so that their weight might be more evenly distributed. This was
often the first warning which the travellers received that the ice was
becoming thin and dangerous. Now, did the dogs act thus from the
experience of each individual, or from the example of the older and
wiser dogs, or from an inherited habit, that is from instinct? This
instinct, may possibly have arisen since the time, long ago, when dogs
were first employed by the natives in drawing their sledges; or the
arctic wolves, the parent-stock of the Esquimaux dog, may have
acquired an instinct impelling them not to attack their prey in a
close pack, when on thin ice.

  * Mr. L. H. Morgan's work on The American Beaver, 1868, offers a
good illustration of this remark. I cannot help thinking, however,
that he goes too far in undertaking the power of instinct.

  We can only judge by the circumstances under which actions are
performed, whether they are due to instinct, or to reason, or to the
mere association of ideas: this latter principle, however, is
intimately connected with reason. A curious case has been given by
Prof. Mobius,* of a pike, separated by a plate of glass from an
adjoining aquarium stocked with fish, and who often dashed himself
with such violence against the glass in trying to catch the other
fishes, that he was sometimes completely stunned. The pike went on
thus for three months, but at last learnt caution, and ceased to do
so. The plate of glass was then removed, but the pike would not attack
these particular fishes, though he would devour others which were
afterwards introduced; so strongly was the idea of a violent shock
associated in his feeble mind with the attempt on his former
neighbours. If a savage, who had never seen a large plate-glass
window, were to dash himself even once against it, he would for a long
time afterwards associate a shock with a window-frame; but very
differently from the pike, he would probably reflect on the nature
of the impediment, and be cautious under analogous circumstances.
Now with monkeys, as we shall presently see, a painful or merely a
disagreeable impression, from an action once performed, is sometimes
sufficient to prevent the animal from repeating it. If we attribute
this difference between the monkey and the pike solely to the
association of ideas being so much stronger and more persistent in the
one than the other, though the pike often received much the more
severe injury, can we maintain in the case of man that a similar
difference implies the possession of a fundamentally different mind?

  * Die Bewegungen der Thiere, &c., 1873, p. 11.

  Houzeau relates* that, whilst crossing a wide and arid plain in
Texas, his two dogs suffered greatly from thirst, and that between
thirty and forty times they rushed down the hollows to search for
water. These hollows were not valleys, and there were no trees in
them, or any other difference in the vegetation, and as they were
absolutely dry there could have been no smell of damp earth. The
dogs behaved as if they knew that a dip in the ground offered them the
best chance of finding water, and Houzeau has often witnessed the same
behaviour in other animals.

  * Etudes sur les Facultes Mentales des Animaux, 1872, tom. ii., p.
265.

  I have seen, as I daresay have others, that when a small object is
thrown on the ground beyond the reach of one of the elephants in the
Zoological Gardens, he blows through his trunk on the ground beyond
the object, so that the current reflected on all sides may drive the
object within his reach. Again a well-known ethnologist, Mr. Westropp,
informs me that he observed in Vienna a bear deliberately making
with his paw a current in some water, which was close to the bars of
his cage, so as to draw a piece of floating bread within his reach.
These actions of the elephant and bear can hardly be attributed to
ins7tinct or inherited habit, as they would be of little use to an
animal in a state of nature. Now, what is the difference between
such actions, when performed by an uncultivated man, and by one of the
higher animals?
  The savage and the dog have often found water at a low level, and
the coincidence under such circumstances has become associated in
their minds. A cultivated man would perhaps make some general
proposition on the subject; but from all that we know of savages it is
extremely doubtful whether they would do so, and a dog certainly would
not. But a savage, as well as a dog, would search in the same way,
though frequently disappointed; and in both it seems to be equally
an act of reason, whether or not any general proposition on the
subject is consciously placed before the mind.* The same would apply
to the elephant and the bear making currents in the air or water.
The savage would certainly neither know nor care by what law the
desired movements were effected; yet his act would be guided by a rude
process of reasoning, as surely as would a philosopher in his
longest chain of deductions. There would no doubt be this difference
between him and one of the higher animals, that he would take notice
of much slighter circumstances and conditions, and would observe any
connection between them after much less experience, and this would
be of paramount importance. I kept a daily record of the actions of
one of my infants, and when he was about eleven months old, and before
he could speak a single word, I was continually struck with the
greater quickness, with which all sorts of objects and sounds were
associated together in his mind, compared with that of the most
intelligent dogs I ever knew. But the higher animals differ in exactly
the same way in this power of association from those low in the scale,
such as the pike, as well as in that of drawing inferences and of
observation.

  * Prof. Huxley has analysed with admirable clearness the mental
steps by which a man, as well as a dog, arrives at a conclusion in a
case analogous to that given in my text. See his article, "Mr.
Darwin's Critics," in the Contemporary Review, Nov., 1871, p. 462, and
in his Critiques and Essays, 1873, p. 279.

  The promptings of reason, after very short experience, are well
shewn by the following actions of American monkeys, which stand low in
their order. Rengger, a most careful observer, states that when he
first gave eggs to his monkeys in Paraguay, they smashed them, and
thus lost much of their contents; afterwards they gently hit one end
against some hard body, and picked off the bits of shell with their
fingers. After cutting themselves only once with any sharp tool,
they would not touch it again, or would handle it with the greatest
caution. Lumps of sugar were often given them wrapped up in paper; and
Rengger sometimes put a live wasp in the paper, so that in hastily
unfolding it they got stung; after this had once happened, they always
first held the packet to their ears to detect any movement within.*

  * Mr. Belt, in his most interesting work, The Naturalist in
Nicaragua, 1874, p. 119, likewise describes various actions of a tamed
Cebus, which, I think, clearly shew that this animal possessed some
reasoning power.

  The following cases relate to dogs. Mr. Colquhoun* winged two
wild-ducks, which fell on the further side of a stream; his
retriever tried to bring over both at once, but could not succeed; she
then, though never before known to ruffle a feather, deliberately
killed one, brought over the other, and returned for the dead bird.
Col. Hutchinson relates that two partridges were shot at once, one
being killed, the other wounded; the latter ran away, and was caught
by the retriever, who on her return came across the dead bird; "she
stopped, evidently greatly puzzled, and after one or two trials,
finding she could not take it up without permitting the escape of
the winged bird, she considered a moment, then deliberately murdered
it by giving it a severe crunch, and afterwards brought away both
together. This was the only known instance of her ever having wilfully
injured any game." Here we have reason though not quite perfect, for
the retriever might have brought the wounded bird first and then
returned for the dead one, as in the case of the two wild-ducks. I
give the above cases, as resting on the evidence of two independent
witnesses, and because in both instances the retrievers, after
deliberation, broke through a habit which is inherited by them (that
of not killing the game retrieved), and because they shew how strong
their reasoning faculty must have been to overcome a fixed habit.

  * The Moor and the Loch, p. 45. Col. Hutchinson on Dog Breaking,
1850, p. 46.

  I will conclude by quoting a remark by the illustrious Humboldt.*
"The muleteers in S. America say, 'I will not give you the mule
whose step is easiest, but la mas racional,- the one that reasons
best'"; and; as, he adds, "this popular expression, dictated by long
experience, combats the system of animated machines, better perhaps
than all the arguments of speculative philosophy." Nevertheless some
writers even yet deny that the higher animals possess a trace of
reason; and they endeavor to explain away, by what appears to be
mere verbiage,*(2) all such facts as those above given.

  * Personal Narrative, Eng. translat., vol. iii., p. 106.
  *(2) I am glad to find that so acute a reasoner as Mr. Leslie
Stephen ("Darwinism and Divinity," Essays on Free Thinking, 1873, p.
80), in speaking of the supposed impassable barrier between the
minds of man and the lower animals, says, "The distinctions, indeed,
which have been drawn, seem to us to rest upon no better foundation
than a great many other metaphysical distinctions; that is, the
assumption that because you can give two things different names,
they must therefore have different natures. It is difficult to
understand how anybody who has ever kept a dog, or seen an elephant,
can have any doubt as to an animal's power of performing the essential
processes of reasoning."

  It has, I think, now been shewn that man and the higher animals,
especially the primates, have some few instincts in common. All have
the same senses, intuitions, and sensations,- similar passions,
affections, and emotions, even the more complex ones, such as
jealousy, suspicion, emulation, gratitude, and magnanimity; they
practise deceit and are revengeful; they are sometimes susceptible
to ridicule, and even have a sense of humour; they feel wonder and
curiosity; they possess the same faculties of imitation, attention,
deliberation, choice, memory, imagination, the association of ideas,
and reason, though in very different degrees. The individuals of the
same species graduate in intellect from absolute imbecility to high
excellence. They are also liable to insanity, though far less often
than in the case of man.* Nevertheless, many authors have insisted
that man is divided by an insuperable barrier from all the lower
animals in in his mental faculties. I formerly made a collection of
above a score of such aphorisms, but they are almost worthless, as
their wide difference and number prove the difficulty, if not the
impossibility, of the attempt. It has been asserted that man alone
is capable of progressive improvement; that he alone makes use of
tools or fire, domesticates other animals, or possesses property; that
no animal has the power of abstraction, or of forming general
concepts, is self-conscious and comprehends itself; that no animal
employs language; that man alone has a sense of beauty, is liable to
caprice, has the feeling of gratitude, mystery, &c.; believes in
God, or is endowed with a conscience. I will hazard a few remarks on
the more important and interesting of these points.

  * See "Madness in Animals," by Dr. W. Lauder Lindsay, in Journal
of Mental Science, July, 1871.

  Archbishop Sumner formerly maintained* that man alone is capable
of progressive improvement. That he is capable of incomparably greater
and more rapid improvement than is any other animal, admits of no
dispute; and this is mainly due to his power of speaking and handing
down his acquired knowledge. With animals, looking first to the
individual, every one who has had any experience in setting traps,
knows that young animals can he caught much more easily than old ones;
and they can be much more easily approached by an enemy. Even with
respect to old animals, it is impossible to catch many in the same
place and in the same kind of trap, or to destroy them by the same
kind of poison; yet it is improbable that all should have partaken
of the poison, and impossible that all should have been caught in a
trap. They must learn caution by seeing their brethren caught or
poisoned. In North America, where the fur-bearing animals have long
been pursued, they exhibit, according to the unanimous testimony of
all observers, an almost incredible amount of sagacity, caution and
cunning; but trapping has been there so long carried on, that
inheritance may possibly have come into play. I have received
several accounts that when telegraphs are first set up in any
district, many birds kill themselves by flying against the wires,
but that in the course of a very few years they learn to avoid this
danger, by seeing, as it would appear, their comrades killed.*(2)

  * Quoted by Sir C. Lyell, Antiquity of Man, p. 497.
  *(2) For additional evidence, with details, see M. Houzeau, Etudes
sur les Facultes Mentales des Animaux, tom. ii., 1872, p. 147.

  If we look to successive generations, or to the race, there is no
doubt that birds and other animals gradually both acquire and lose
caution in relation to man or other enemies;* and this caution is
certainly in chief part an inherited habit or instinct, but in part
the result of individual experience. A good observer, Leroy,*(2)
states, that in districts where foxes are much hunted, the young, on
first leaving their burrows, are incontestably much more wary than the
old ones in districts where they are not much disturbed.

  * See, with respect to birds on oceanic islands, my Journal of
Researches during the Voyage of the "Beagle," 1845, p. 398. Also,
Origin of Species.(OOS)
  *(2) Lettres Phil. sur l'Intelligence des Animaux, nouvelle edit.,
1802, p. 86.

  Our domestic dogs are descended from wolves and jackals,* and though
they may not have gained in cunning, and may have lost in wariness and
suspicion, yet they have progressed in certain moral qualities, such
as in affection, trust-worthiness, temper, and probably in general
intelligence. The common rat has conquered and beaten several other
species throughout Europe, in parts of North America, New Zealand, and
recently in Formosa, as well as on the mainland of China. Mr.
Swinhoe,*(2) who describes these two latter cases, attributes the
victory of the common rat over the large Mus coninga to its superior
cunning; and this latter quality may probably be attributed to the
habitual exercise of all its faculties in avoiding extirpation by man,
as well as to nearly all the less cunning or weak-minded rats having
been continuously destroyed by him. It is, however, possible that
the success of the common rat may be due to its having possessed
greater cunning than its fellow-species, before it became associated
with man. To maintain, independently of any direct evidence, that no
animal during the course of ages has progressed in intellect or
other mental faculties, is to beg the question of the evolution of
species. We have seen that, according to Lartet, existing mammals
belonging to several orders have larger brains than their ancient
tertiary prototypes.

  * See the evidence on this head in chap. i., vol. i., On the
Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication.
  *(2) Proceedings Zoological Society, 1864, p. 186.

  It has often been said that no animal uses any tool; but the
chimpanzee in a state of nature cracks a native fruit, somewhat like a
walnut, with a stone.* Rengger*(2) easily taught an American monkey
thus to break open hard palm-nuts; and afterwards of its own accord,
it used stones to open other kinds of nuts, as well as boxes. It
thus also removed the soft rind of fruit that had a disagreeable
flavour. Another monkey was taught to open the lid of a large box with
a stick, and afterwards it used the stick as a lever to move heavy
bodies; and I have myself seen a young orang put a stick into a
crevice, slip his hand to the other end, and use it in the proper
manner as a lever. The tamed elephants in India are well known to
break off branches of trees and use them to drive away the flies;
and this same act has been observed in an elephant in a state of
nature.*(3) I have seen a young orang, when she thought she was
going to be whipped, cover and protect herself with a blanket or
straw. In these several cases stones and sticks were employed as
implements; but they are likewise used as weapons. Brehm*(4) states,
on the authority of the well-known traveller Schimper, that in
Abyssinia when the baboons belonging to one species (C. gelada)
descend in troops from the mountains to plunder the fields, they
sometimes encounter troops of another species (C. hamadryas), and then
a fight ensues. The Geladas roll down great stones, which the
Hamadryas try to avoid, and then both species, making a great
uproar, rush furiously against each other. Brehm, when accompanying
the Duke of Coburg-Gotha, aided in an attack with fire-arms on a troop
of baboons in the pass of Mensa in Abyssinia. The baboons in return
rolled so many stones down the mountain, some as large as a man's
head, that the attackers had to beat a hasty retreat; and the pass was
actually closed for a time against the caravan. It deserves notice
that these baboons thus acted in concert. Mr. Wallace*(5) on three
occasions saw female orangs, accompanied by their young, "breaking off
branches and the great spiny fruit of the Durian tree, with every
appearance of rage; causing such a shower of missiles as effectually
kept us from approaching too near the tree." As I have repeatedly
seen, a chimpanzee will throw any object at hand at a person who
offends him; and the before-mentioned baboon at the Cape of Good
Hope prepared mud for the purpose.

  * Savage and Wyman in Boston Journal of Natural History, vol. iv.,
1843-44, p. 383.
  *(2) Saugethiere von Paraguay, 1830, ss. 51-56.
  *(3) The Indian Field, March 4, 1871.
  *(4) Illustriertes Thierleben, B. i., s. 79, 82.
  *(5) The Malay Archipelago, vol. i., 1869, p. 87.

  In the Zoological Gardens, a monkey, which had weak teeth, used to
break open nuts with a stone; and I was assured by the keepers that
after using the stone, he hid it in the straw, and would not let any
other monkey touch it. Here, then, we have the idea of property; but
this idea is common to every dog with a bone, and to most or all birds
with their nests.
  The Duke of Argyll* remarks, that the fashioning of an implement for
a special purpose is absolutely peculiar to man; and he considers that
this forms an immeasurable gulf between him and the brutes. This is no
doubt a very important distinction; but there appears to me much truth
in Sir J. Lubbock's suggestion,*(2) that when primeval man first
used flint-stones for any purpose, he would have accidentally
splintered them, and would then have used the sharp fragments. From
this step it would be a small one to break the flints on purpose,
and not a very wide step to fashion them rudely. This latter
advance, however, may have taken long ages, if we may judge by the
immense interval of time which elapsed before the men of the neolithic
period took to grinding and polishing their stone tools. In breaking
the flints, as Sir J. Lubbock likewise remarks, sparks would have been
emitted, and in grinding them heat would have been evolved: thus the
two usual methods of "obtaining fire may have originated." The
nature of fire would have been known in the many volcanic regions
where lava occasionally flows through forests. The anthropomorphous
apes, guided probably by instinct, build for themselves temporary
platforms; but as many instincts are largely controlled by reason, the
simpler ones, such as this of building a platform, might readily
pass into a voluntary and conscious act. The orang is known to cover
itself at night with the leaves of the pandanus; and Brehm states that
one of his baboons used to protect itself from the heat of the sun
by throwing a straw-mat over its head. In these several habits, we
probably see the first steps towards some of the simpler arts, such as
rude architecture and dress, as they arose amongst the early
progenitors of man.

  * Primeval Man, 1869, pp. 145, 147.
  *(2) Prehistoric Times, 1865, p. 473, &c.

  Abstraction, General Conceptions, Self-consciousness, Mental
Individuality.- It would be very difficult for any one with even
much more knowledge than I possess, to determine how far animals
exhibit any traces of these high mental powers. This difficulty arises
from the impossibility of judging what passes through the mind of an
animal; and again, the fact that writers differ to a great extent in
the meaning which they attribute to the above terms, causes a
further difficulty. If one may judge from various articles which
have been published lately, the greatest stress seems to be laid on
the supposed entire absence in animals of the power of abstraction, or
of forming general concepts. But when a dog sees another dog at a
distance, it is often clear that he perceives that it is a dog in
the abstract; for when he gets nearer his whole manner suddenly
changes if the other dog be a friend. A recent writer remarks, that in
all such cases it is a pure assumption to assert that the mental act
is not essentially of the same nature in the animal as in man. If
either refers what he perceives with his senses to a mental concept,
then so do both.* When I say to my terrier, in an eager voice (and I
have made the trial many times), "Hi, hi, where is it?" she at once
takes it as a sign that something is to be hunted, and generally first
looks quickly all around, and then rushes into the nearest thicket, to
scent for any game, but finding nothing, she looks up into any
neighbouring tree for a squirrel. Now do not these actions clearly
shew that she had in her mind a general idea or concept that some
animal is to be discovered and hunted?

  * Mr. Hookham, in a letter to Prof. Max Muller, in the Birmingham
News, May, 1873.

  It may be freely admitted that no animal is self-conscious, if by
this term it is implied, that he reflects on such points, as whence he
comes or whither he will go, or what is life and death, and so
forth. But how can we feel sure that an old dog with an excellent
memory and some power of imagination, as shewn by his dreams, never
reflects on his past pleasures or pains in the chase? And this would
be a form of self-consciousness. On the other hand, as Buchner* has
remarked, how little can the hard worked wife of a degraded Australian
savage, who uses very few abstract words, and cannot count above four,
exert her self-consciousness, or reflect on the nature of her own
existence. It is generally admitted, that the higher animals possess
memory, attention, association, and even some imagination and
reason. If these powers, which differ much in different animals, are
capable of improvement, there seems no great improbability in more
complex faculties, such as the higher forms of abstraction, and
self-consciousness, &c., having been evolved through the development
and combination of the simpler ones. It has been urged against the
views here maintained that it is impossible to say at what point in
the ascending scale animals become capable of abstraction, &c.; but
who can say at what age this occurs in our young children? We see at
least that such powers are developed in children by imperceptible
degrees.

  * Conferences sur la Theorie Darwinienne, French translat., 1869, p.
132.

  That animals retain their mental individuality is unquestionable.
When my voice awakened a train of old associations in the mind of
the before-mentioned dog, he must have retained his mental
individuality, although every atom of his brain had probably undergone
change more than once during the interval of five years. This dog
might have brought forward the argument lately advanced to crush all
evolutionists, and said, "I abide amid all mental moods and all
material changes.... The teaching that atoms leave their impressions
as legacies to other atoms falling into the places they have vacated
is contradictory of the utterance of consciousness, and is therefore
false; but it is the teaching necessitated by evolutionism,
consequently the hypothesis is a false one."*

  * The Rev. Dr. J. M'Cann, Anti-Darwinism, 1869, p. 13.

  Language.- This faculty has justly been considered as one of the
chief distinctions between man and the lower animals. But man, as a
highly competent judge, Archbishop Whately remarks, "is not the only
animal that can make use of language to express what is passing in his
mind, and can understand, more or less, what is so expressed by
another."* In Paraguay the Cebus azarae when excited utters at least
six distinct sounds, which excite in other monkeys similar
emotions.*(2) The movements of the features and gestures of monkeys
are understood by us, and they partly understand ours, as Rengger
and others declare. It is a more remarkable fact that the dog, since
being domesticated, has learnt to bark*(3) in at least four or five
distinct tones. Although barking is a new art, no doubt the wild
parent-species of the dog expressed their feelings by cries of various
kinds. With the domesticated dog we have the bark of eagerness, as
in the chase; that of anger, as well as growling; the yelp or howl
of despair, as when shut up; the baying at night; the bark of joy,
as when starting on a walk with his master; and the very distinct
one of demand or supplication, as when wishing for a door or window to
be opened. According to Houzeau, who paid particular attention to
the subject, the domestic fowl utters at least a dozen significant
sounds.*(4)

  * Quoted in Anthropological Review, 1864, p. 158.
  *(2) Rengger, ibid., s. 45.
  *(3) See my Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication,
vol. i., p. 27.
  *(4) Facultes Mentales des Animaux, tom. ii., 1872, p. 346-349.

  The habitual use of articulate language is, however, peculiar to
man; but he uses, in common with the lower animals, inarticulate cries
to express his meaning, aided by gestures and the movements of the
muscles of the face.* This especially holds good with the more
simple and vivid feelings, which are but little connected with our
higher intelligence. Our cries of pain, fear, surprise, anger,
together with their appropriate actions, and the murmur of a mother to
her beloved child are more expressive than any words. That which
distinguishes man from the lower animals is not the understanding of
articulate sounds, for, as every one knows, dogs understand many words
and sentences. In this respect they are at the same stage of
development as infants, between the ages of ten and twelve months, who
understand many words and short sentences, but cannot yet utter a
single word. It is not the mere articulation which is our
distinguishing character, for parrots and other birds possess this
power. Nor is it the mere capacity of connecting definite sounds
with definite ideas; for it is certain that some parrots, which have
been taught to speak, connect unerringly words with things, and
persons with events.*(2) The lower animals differ from man solely in
his almost infinitely larger power of associating together the most
diversified sounds and ideas; and this obviously depends on the high
development of his mental powers.

  * See a discussion on this subject in Mr. E. B. Tylor's very
interesting work, Researches into the Early History of Mankind,
1865, chaps. ii. to iv.
  *(2) I have received several detailed accounts to this effect.
Admiral Sir. B. J. Sulivan, whom I know to be a careful observer,
assures me that an African parrot, long kept in his father's house,
invariably called certain persons of the household, as well as
visitors, by their names. He said "good morning" to every one at
breakfast, and "good night" to each as they left the room at night,
and never reversed these salutations. To Sir B. J. Sulivan's father,
he used to add to the " good morning" a short sentence, which was
never once repeated after his father's death. He scolded violently a
strange dog which came into the room through the open window; and he
scolded another parrot (saying "you naughty polly") which had got
out of its cage, and was eating apples on the kitchen table. See also,
to the same effect, Houzeau on parrots, Facultes Mentales, tom. ii.,
p. 309. Dr. A. Moschkau informs me that he knew a starling which never
made a mistake in saying in German " good morning" to persons
arriving, and "good bye, old fellow," to those departing. I could
add several other such cases.

  As Horne Tooke, one of the founders of the noble science of
philology, observes, language is an art, like brewing or baking; but
writing would have been a better simile. It certainly is not a true
instinct, for every language has to be learnt. It differs, however,
widely from all ordinary arts, for man has an instinctive tendency
to speak, as we see in the babble of our young children; whilst no
child has an instinctive tendency to brew, bake, or write. Moreover,
no philologist now supposes that any language has been deliberately
invented; it has been slowly and unconsciously developed by many
steps.* The sounds uttered by birds offer in several respects the
nearest analogy to language, for all the members of the same species
utter the same instinctive cries expressive of their emotions; and all
the kinds which sing, exert their power instinctively; but the
actual song, and even the call-notes, are learnt from their parents or
foster-parents. These sounds, as Daines Barrington*(2) has proved,
"are no more innate than language is in man." The first attempts to
sing "may be compared to the imperfect endeavour in a child to
babble." The young males continue practising, or as the
bird-catchers say, "recording," for ten or eleven months. Their
first essays show hardly a rudiment of the future song; but as they
grow older we can perceive what they are aiming at; and at last they
are said "to sing their song round." Nestlings which have learnt the
song of a distinct species, as with the canary-birds educated in the
Tyrol, teach and transmit their new song to their offspring. The
slight natural differences of song in the same species inhabiting
different districts may be appositely compared, as Barrington remarks,
"to provincial dialects"; and the songs of allied, though distinct
species may be compared with the languages of distinct races of man. I
have given the foregoing details to shew that an instinctive
tendency to acquire an art is not peculiar to man.

  * See some good remarks on this head by Prof. Whitney, in his
Oriental and Linguistic Studies, 1873, p. 354. He observes that the
desire of communication between man is the living force, which, in the
development of language, "works both consciously and unconsciously;
consciously as regards the immediate end to be attained; unconsciously
as regards the further consequences of the act."
  *(2) Hon. Daines Barrington in Philosoph. Transactions, 1773, p.
262. See also Dureau de la Malle, in Ann. des. Sc. Nat., 3rd series,
Zoolog., tom. x., p. 119.

  With respect to the origin of articulate language, after having read
on the one side the highly interesting works of Mr. Hensleigh
Wedgwood, the Rev. F. Farrar, and Prof. Schleicher,* and the
celebrated lectures of Prof. Max Muller on the other side, I cannot
doubt that language owes its origin to the imitation and
modification of various natural sounds, the voices of other animals,
and man's own instinctive cries, aided by signs and gestures. When
we treat of sexual selection we shall see that primeval man, or rather
some early progenitor of man, probably first used his voice in
producing true musical cadences, that is in singing, as do some of the
gibbon-apes at the present day; and we may conclude from a
widely-spread analogy, that this power would have been especially
exerted during the courtship of the sexes,- would have expressed
various emotions, such as love, jealousy, triumph,- and would have
served as a challenge to rivals. It is, therefore, probable that the
imitation of musical cries by articulate sounds may have given rise to
words expressive of various complex emotions. The strong tendency in
our nearest allies, the monkeys, in microcephalous idiots,*(2) and
in the barbarous races of mankind, to imitate whatever they hear
deserves notice, as bearing on the subject of imitation. Since monkeys
certainly understand much that is said to them by man, and when
wild, utter signal-cries of danger to their fellows;*(3) and since
fowls give distinct warnings for danger on the ground, or in the sky
from hawks (both, as well as a third cry, intelligible to dogs),*(4)
may not some unusually wise apelike animal have imitated the growl
of a beast of prey, and thus told his fellow-monkeys the nature of the
expected danger? This would have been a first step in the formation of
a language.

  * On the Origin of Language, by H. Wedgwood, 1866. Chapters on
Language, by the Rev. F. W. Farrar, 1865. These works are most
interesting. See also De la Phys. et de Parole, par Albert Lemoine,
1865, p. 190. The work on this subject, by the late Prof. Aug.
Schleicher, has been translated by Dr. Bikkers into English, under the
title of Darwinism tested by the Science of Language, 1869.
  *(2) Vogt, Memoire sur les Microcephales, 1867, p. 169. With respect
to savages, I have given some facts in my Journal of Researches,
&c., 1845, p. 206.
  *(3) See clear evidence on this head in the two works so often
quoted, by Brehm and Rengger.
  *(4) Houzeau gives a very curious account of his observations on
this subject in his Facultes Mentales des Animaux, tom. ii., p. 348.

  As the voice was used more and more, the vocal organs would have
been strengthened and perfected through the principle of the inherited
effects of use; and this would have reacted on the power of speech.
But the relation between the continued use of language and the
development of the brain, has no doubt been far more important. The
mental powers in some early progenitor of man must have been more
highly developed than in any existing ape, before even the most
imperfect form of speech could have come into use; but we may
confidently believe that the continued use and advancement of this
power would have reacted on the mind itself, by enabling and
encouraging it to carry on long trains of thought. A complex train
of thought can no more be carried on without the aid of words, whether
spoken or silent, than a long calculation without the use of figures
or algebra. It appears, also, that even an ordinary train of thought
almost requires, or is greatly facilitated by some form of language,
for the dumb, deaf, and blind girl, Laura Bridgman, was observed to
use her fingers whilst dreaming.* Nevertheless, a long succession of
vivid and connected ideas may pass through the mind without the aid of
any form of language, as we may infer from the movements of dogs
during their dreams. We have, also, seen that animals are able to
reason to a certain extent, manifestly without the aid of language.
The intimate connection between the brain, as it is now developed in
us, and the faculty of speech, is well shewn by those curious cases of
brain-disease in which speech is specially affected, as when the power
to remember substantives is lost, whilst other words can be
correctly used, or where substantives of a certain class, or all
except the initial letters of substantives and proper names are
forgotten.*(2) There is no more improbability in the continued use
of the mental and vocal organs leading to inherited changes in their
structure and functions, than in the case of hand-writing, which
depends partly on the form of the hand and partly on the disposition
of the mind; and handwriting is certainly inherited.*(3)

  * See remarks on this head by Dr. Maudsley, The Physiology and
Pathology of Mind, 2nd ed., 1868, p. 199.
  *(2) Many curious cases have been recorded. See, for instance, Dr.
Bateman On Aphasia, 1870, pp. 27, 31, 53, 100, &c. Also, Inquiries
Concerning the Intellectual Powers, by Dr. Abercrombie, 1838, p. 150.
  *(3) The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication, vol.
ii., p. 6.

  Several writers, more especially Prof. Max Muller,* have lately
insisted that the use of language implies the power of forming general
concepts; and that as no animals are supposed to possess this power,
an impassable barrier is formed between them and man.*(2) With respect
to animals, I have already endeavoured to shew that they have this
power, at least in a rude and incipient degree. As far as concerns
infants of from ten to eleven months old, and deaf-mutes, it seems
to me incredible, that they should be able to connect certain sounds
with certain general ideas as quickly as they do, unless such ideas
were already formed in their minds. The same remark may be extended to
the more intelligent animals; as Mr. Leslie Stephen observes,*(3) "A
dog frames a general concept of cats or sheep, and knows the
corresponding words as well as a philosopher. And the capacity to
understand is as good a proof of vocal intelligence, though in an
inferior degree, as the capacity to speak."

  * Lectures on Mr. Darwin's Philosophy of Language, 1873.
  *(2) The judgment of a distinguished philologist, such as Prof.
Whitney, will have far more weight on this point than anything that
I can say. He remarks (Oriental and Linguistic Studies, 1873, p. 297),
in speaking of Bleek's views: "Because on the grand scale language
is the necessary auxiliary of thought, indispensable to the
development of the power of thinking, to the distinctness and
variety and complexity of cognitions, to the full mastery of
consciousness; therefore he would fain make thought absolutely
impossible without speech, identifying the faculty with its
instrument. He might just as reasonably assert that the human hand
cannot act without a tool. With such a doctrine to start from, he
cannot stop short of Max Muller's worst paradoxes, that an infant
(in fans, not speaking) is not a human being, and that deaf-mutes do
not become possessed of reason until they learn to twist their fingers
into imitation of spoken words." Max Muller gives in italics (Lectures
on Mr. Darwin's Philosophy of Language, 1873, third lecture) this
aphorism: "There is no thought without words, as little as there are
words without thought." What a strange definition must here be given
to the word thought!
  *(3) Essays on Free Thinking, &c., 1873, p. 82.

  Why the organs now used for speech should have been originally
perfected for this purpose, rather than any other organs, it is not
difficult to see. Ants have considerable powers of inter-communication
by means of their antennae, as shewn by Huber, who devotes a whole
chapter to their language. We might have used our fingers as efficient
instruments, for a person with practice can report to a deaf man every
word of a speech rapidly delivered at a public meeting; but the loss
of our hands, whilst thus employed, would have been a serious
inconvenience. As all the higher mammals possess vocal organs,
constructed on the same general plan as ours, and used as a means of
communication, it was obviously probable that these same organs
would be still further developed if the power of communication had
to be improved; and this has been effected by the aid of adjoining and
well adapted parts, namely the tongue and lips.* The fact of the
higher apes not using their vocal organs for speech, no doubt
depends on their intelligence not having been sufficiently advanced.
The possession by them of organs, which with long-continued practice
might have been used for speech, although not thus used, is paralleled
by the case of many birds which possess organs fitted for singing,
though they never sing. Thus, the nightingale and crow have vocal
organs similarly constructed, these being used by the former for
diversified song, and by the latter only for croaking.*(2) If it be
asked why apes have not had their intellects developed to the same
degree as that of man, general causes only can be assigned in
answer, and it is unreasonable to expect any thing more definite,
considering our ignorance with respect to the successive stages of
development through which each creature has passed.

  * See some good remarks to this effect by Dr. Maudsley, The
Physiology and Pathology of Mind, 1868, p. 199.
  *(2) Macgillivray, Hist. of British Birds, vol. ii., 1839, p. 29. An
excellent observer, Mr. Blackwall remarks that the magpie learns to
pronounce single words, and even short sentences, more readily than
almost any other British bird; yet, as he adds, after long and closely
investigating its habits, he has never known it, in a state of nature,
display any unusual capacity for imitation. Researches in Zoology,
1834, p. 158.

  The formation of different languages and of distinct species, and
the proofs that both have been developed through a gradual process,
are curiously parallel.* But we can trace the formation of many
words further back than that of species, for we can perceive how
they actually arose from the imitation of various sounds. We find in
distinct languages striking homologies due to community of descent,
and analogies due to a similar process of formation. The manner in
which certain letters or sounds change when others change is very like
correlated growth. We have in both cases the re-duplication of
parts, the effects of long-continued use, and so forth. The frequent
presence of rudiments, both in languages and in species, is still more
remarkable. The letter m in the word am, means I; so that in the
expression I am, a superfluous and useless rudiment has been retained.
In the spelling also of words, letters often remain as the rudiments
of ancient forms of pronunciation. Languages, like organic beings, can
be classed in groups under groups; and they can be classed either
naturally according to descent, or artificially by other characters.
Dominant languages and dialects spread widely, and lead to the gradual
extinction of other tongues. A language, like a species, when once
extinct, never, as Sir C. Lyell remarks, reappears. The same
language never has two birth-places. Distinct languages may be crossed
or blended together.*(2) We see variability in every tongue, and new
words are continually cropping up; but as there is a limit to the
powers of the memory, single words, like whole languages, gradually
become extinct. As Max Muller*(3) has well remarked:- "A struggle
for life is constantly going on amongst the words and grammatical
forms in each language. The better, the shorter, the easier forms
are constantly gaining the upper hand, and they owe their success to
their own inherent virtue." To these more important causes of the
survival of certain words, mere novelty and fashion may be added;
for there is in the mind of man a strong love for slight changes in
all things. The survival or preservation of certain favoured words
in the struggle for existence is natural selection.

  * See the very interesting parallelism between the development of
species and languages, given by Sir C. Lyell in The Geological
Evidences of the Antiquity of Man, 1863, chap. xxiii.
  *(2) See remarks to this effect by the Rev. F. W. Farrar, in an
interesting article, entitled Philology and Darwinism," in Nature,
March 24, 1870, p. 528.
  *(3) Nature, January 6, 1870, p. 257.

  The perfectly regular and wonderfully complex construction of the
languages of many barbarous nations has often been advanced as a
proof, either of the divine origin of these languages, or of the
high art and former civilisation of their founders. Thus F. von
Schlegel writes: "In those languages which appear to be at the
lowest grade of intellectual culture, we frequently observe a very
high and elaborate degree of art in their grammatical structure.
This is especially the case with the Basque and the Lapponian, and
many of the American languages."* But it is assuredly an error to
speak of any language as an art, in the sense of its having been
elaborately and methodically formed. Philologists now admit that
conjugations, declensions, &c., originally existed as distinct
words, since joined together; and as such words express the most
obvious relations between objects and persons, it is not surprising
that they should have been used by the men of most races during the
earliest ages. With respect to perfection, the following
illustration will best shew how easily we may err: a crinoid sometimes
consists of no less than 150,000 pieces of shell,*(2) all arranged
with perfect symmetry in radiating lines; but a naturalist does not
consider an animal of this kind as more perfect than a bilateral one
with comparatively few parts, and with none of these parts alike,
excepting on the opposite sides of the body. He justly considers the
differentiation and specialisation of organs as the test of
perfection. So with languages: the most symmetrical and complex
ought not to be ranked above irregular, abbreviated, and bastardised
languages, which have borrowed expressive words and useful forms of
construction from various conquering, conquered, or immigrant races.

  * Quoted by C. S. Wake, Chapters on Man, 1868, p. 101.
  *(2) Buckland, Bridgewater Treatise, p. 411.

  From these few and imperfect remarks I conclude that the extremely
complex and regular construction of many barbarous languages, is no
proof that they owe their origin to a special act of creation.* Nor,
as we have seen, does the faculty of articulate speech in itself offer
any insuperable objection to the belief that man has been developed
from some lower form.

  * See some good remarks on the simplification of languages, by Sir
J. Lubbock, Origin of Civilisation, 1870, p. 278.

  Sense of Beauty.- This sense has been declared to be peculiar to
man. I refer here only to the pleasure given by certain colours,
forms, and sounds, and which may fairly be called a sense of the
beautiful; with cultivated men such sensations are, however,
intimately associated with complex ideas and trains of thought. When
we behold a male bird elaborately displaying his graceful plumes or
splendid colours before the female, whilst other birds, not thus
decorated, make no such display, it is impossible to doubt that she
admires the beauty of her male partner. As women everywhere deck
themselves with these plumes, the beauty of such ornaments cannot be
disputed. As we shall see later, the nests of humming-birds, and the
playing passages of bower-birds are tastefully ornamented with
gaily-coloured objects; and this shews that they must receive some
kind of pleasure from the sight of such things. With the great
majority of animals, however, the taste for the beautiful is confined,
as far as we can judge, to the attractions of the opposite sex. The
sweet strains poured forth by many male birds during the season of
love, are certainly admired by the females, of which fact evidence
will hereafter be given. If female birds had been incapable of
appreciating the beautiful colours, the ornaments, and voices of their
male partners, all the labour and anxiety exhibited by the latter in
displaying their charms before the females would have been thrown
away; and this it is impossible to admit. Why certain bright colours
should excite pleasure cannot, I presume, be explained, any more
than why certain flavours and scents are agreeable; but habit has
something to do with the result, for that which is at first unpleasant
to our senses, ultimately becomes pleasant, and habits are
inherited. With respect to sounds, Helmholtz has explained to a
certain extent on physiological principles, why harmonies and
certain cadences are agreeable. But besides this, sounds frequently
recurring at irregular intervals are highly disagreeable, as every one
will admit who has listened at night to the irregular flapping of a
rope on board ship. The same principle seems to come into play with
vision, as the eye prefers symmetry or figures with some regular
recurrence. Patterns of this kind are employed by even the lowest
savages as ornaments; and they have been developed through sexual
selection for the adornment of some male animals. Whether we can or
not give any reason for the pleasure thus derived from vision and
hearing, yet man and many of the lower animals are alike pleased by
the same colours, graceful shading and forms, and the same sounds.
  The taste for the beautiful, at least as far as female beauty is
concerned, is not of a special nature in the human mind; for it
differs widely in the different races of man, and is not quite the
same even in the different nations of the same race. Judging from
the hideous ornaments, and the equally hideous music admired by most
savages, it might be urged that their Aesthetic faculty was not so
highly developed as in certain animals, for instance, as in birds.
Obviously no animal would be capable of admiring such scenes as the
heavens at night, a beautiful landscape, or refined music; but such
high tastes are acquired through culture, and depend on complex
associations; they are not enjoyed by barbarians or by uneducated
persons.
  Many of the faculties, which have been of inestimable service to man
for his progressive advancement, such as the powers of the
imagination, wonder, curiosity, an undefined sense of beauty, a
tendency to imitation, and the love of excitement or novelty, could
hardly fail to lead to capricious changes of customs and fashions. I
have alluded to this point, because a recent writer* has oddly fixed
on Caprice "as one of the most remarkable and typical differences
between savages and brutes." But not only can we partially
understand how it is that man is from various conflicting influences
rendered capricious, but that the lower animals are, as we shall
hereafter see, likewise capricious in their affections, aversions, and
sense of beauty. There is also reason to suspect that they love
novelty, for its own sake.

  * The Spectator, Dec. 4. 1869, p. 1430.

  Belief in God- Religion.- There is no evidence that man was
aboriginally endowed with the ennobling belief in the existence of
an Omnipotent God. On the contrary there is ample evidence, derived
not from hasty travellers, but from men who have long resided with
savages, that numerous races have existed, and still exist, who have
no idea of one or more gods, and who have no words in their
languages to express such an idea.* The question is of course wholly
distinct from that higher one, whether there exists a Creator and
Ruler of the universe; and this has been answered in the affirmative
by some of the highest intellects that have ever existed.

  * See an excellent article on this subject by the Rev. F. W. Farrar,
in the Anthropological Review, Aug., 1864, p. ccxvii. For further
facts see Sir J. Lubbock, Prehistoric Times, 2nd ed., 1869, p. 564;
and especially the chapters on Religion in his Origin of Civilisation,
1870.

  If, however, we include under the term "religion" the belief in
unseen or spiritual agencies the case is wholly different; for this
belief seems to be universal with the less civilised races. Nor is
it difficult to comprehend how it arose. As soon as the important
faculties of the imagination, wonder, and curiosity, together with
some power of reasoning, had become partially developed, man would
naturally crave to understand what was passing around him, and would
have vaguely speculated on his own existence. As Mr. M'Lennan* has
remarked, "Some explanation of the phenomena of life, a man must feign
for himself, and to judge from the universality of it, the simplest
hypothesis, and the first to occur to men, seems to have been that
natural phenomena are ascribable to the presence in animals, plants,
and things, and in the forces of nature, of such spirits prompting
to action as men are conscious they themselves possess." It is also
probable, as Mr. Tylor has shewn, that dreams may have first given
rise to the notion of spirits; for savages do not readily
distinguish between subjective and objective impressions. When a
savage dreams, the figures which appear before him are believed to
have come from a distance, and to stand over him; or "the soul of
the dreamer goes out on its travels, and comes home with a remembrance
of what it has seen."*(2) But until the faculties of imagination,
curiosity, reason, &c., had been fairly well developed in the mind
of man, his dreams would not have led him to believe in spirits, any
more than in the case of a dog.

  * "The Worship of Animals and Plants," in the Fortnightly Review,
Oct. 1, 1869, p. 422.
  *(2) Tylor, Early History of Mankind, 1865, p. 6. See also the three
striking chapters on the "Development of Religion," in Lubbock's
Origin of Civilisation, 1870. In a like manner Mr. Herbert Spencer, in
his ingenious essay in the Fortnightly Review (May 1, 1870, p. 535),
accounts for the earliest forms of religious belief throughout the
world, by man being led through dreams, shadows, and other causes,
to look at himself as a double essence, corporeal and spiritual. As
the spiritual being is supposed to exist after death and to be
powerful, it is propitiated by various gifts and ceremonies, and its
aid invoked. He then further shews that names or nicknames given
from some animal or other object, to the early progenitors or founders
of a tribe, are supposed after a long interval to represent the real
progenitor of the tribe; and such animal or object is then naturally
believed still to exist as a spirit, is held sacred, and worshipped as
a god. Nevertheless I cannot but suspect that there is a still earlier
and ruder stage, when anything which manifests power or movement is
thought to be endowed with some form of life, and with mental
faculties analogous to our own.

  The tendency in savages to imagine that natural objects and agencies
are animated by spiritual or living essences, is perhaps illustrated
by a little fact which I once noticed: my dog, a full-grown and very
sensible animal, was lying on the lawn during a hot and still day; but
at a little distance a slight breeze occasionally moved an open
parasol, which would have been wholly disregarded by the dog, had
any one stood near it. As it was, every time that the parasol slightly
moved, the dog growled fiercely and barked. He must, I think, have
reasoned to himself in a rapid and unconscious manner, that movement
without any apparent cause indicated the presence of some strange
living agent, and that no stranger had a right to be on his territory.
  The belief in spiritual agencies would easily pass into the belief
in the existence of one or more gods. For savages would naturally
attribute to spirits the same passions, the same love of vengeance
or simplest form of justice, and the same affections which they
themselves feel. The Fuegians appear to be in this respect in an
intermediate condition, for when the surgeon on board the Beagle
shot some young ducklings as specimens, York Minster declared in the
most solemn manner, "Oh, Mr. Bynoe, much rain, much snow, blow
much"; and this was evidently a retributive punishment for wasting
human food. So again he related how, when his brother killed a "wild
man," storms long raged, much rain and snow fell. Yet we could never
discover that the Fuegians believed in what we should call a God, or
practised any religious rites; and Jemmy Button, with justifiable
pride, stoutly maintained that there was no devil in his land. This
latter assertion is the more remarkable, as with savages the belief in
bad spirits is far more common than that in good ones.
  The feeling of religious devotion is a highly complex one,
consisting of love, complete submission to an exalted and mysterious
superior, a strong sense of dependence,* fear, reverence, gratitude,
hope for the future, and perhaps other elements. No being could
experience so complex an emotion until advanced in his intellectual
and moral faculties to at least a moderately high level. Nevertheless,
we see some distant approach to this state of mind in the deep love of
a dog for his master, associated with complete submission, some
fear, and perhaps other feelings. The behaviour of a dog when
returning to his master after an absence, and, as I may add, of a
monkey to his beloved keeper, is widely different from that towards
their fellows. In the latter case the transports of joy appear to be
somewhat less, and the sense of equality is shewn in every action.
Professor Braubach goes so far as to maintain that a dog looks on
his master as on a god.*(2)

  * See an able article on the "Physical Elements of Religion," by Mr.
L. Owen Pike, in Anthropological Review, April, 1870, p. lxiii.
  *(2) Religion, Moral, &c., der Darwin'schen Art-Lehre, 1869, s.
53. It is said (Dr. W. Lauder Lindsay, Journal of Mental Science,
1871, p. 43), that Bacon long ago, and the poet Burns, held the same
notion.

  The same high mental faculties which first led man to believe in
unseen spiritual agencies, then in fetishism, polytheism, and
ultimately in monotheism, would infallibly lead him, as long as his
reasoning powers remained poorly developed, to various strange
superstitions and customs. Many of these are terrible to think of-
such as the sacrifice of human beings to a blood-loving god; the trial
of innocent persons by the ordeal of poison or fire; witchcraft,
&c.- yet it is well occasionally to reflect on these superstitions,
for they shew us what an infinite debt of gratitude we owe to the
improvement of our reason, to science, and to our accumulated
knowledge. As Sir J. Lubbock* has well observed, "it is not too much
to say that the horrible dread of unknown evil hangs like a thick
cloud over savage life, and embitters every pleasure." These miserable
and indirect consequences of our highest faculties may be compared
with the incidental and occasional mistakes of the instincts of the
lower animals.

  * Prehistoric Times, 2nd ed., p. 571. In this work (p. 571) there
will be found an excellent account of the many strange and
capricious customs of savages.


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