« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
half an hour, as would serve a courtier for a week. There is infinitely more to do about place and precedency in a meeting of justices' wives, than in an assembly of duchesses.
warrant she does not run into dairies, but reads upon the nature of plants; she has a glass bee-hive, and comes into the garden out of books to see them work, and observe the policies of their commonwealth. She understands every thing. I would give ten! This rural politeness is very troublesome pounds to hear her argue with my friend Sir Andrew Freeport about trade. No, no, for all she looks so innocent, as it were, take my word for it she is no fool.' T.
No. 119.] Tuesday, July 17, 1711.
Urbem quam dicunt Romam. Melibee, putavi
THE first and most obvious reflections which arise in a man who changes the city for the country, are upon the different manners of the people whom he meets with in those two different scenes of life. By manners I do not mean morals, but behaviour and good-breeding, as they show themselves in the town and in the country.
And here, in the first place, I must observe a very great revolution that has happened in this article of good-breeding. Several obliging deferences, condescensions, and submissions, with many outward forms and ceremonies that accompany them, were first of all brought up among the politer part of mankind, who lived in courts and cities, and distinguished themselves from the rustic part of the species (who on all occasions acted bluntly and naturally) by such a mutual complaisance and intercourse of civilities. These forms of conversation by degrees multiplied and grew troublesome; the modish world found too great a constraint in them, and have therefore thrown most of them aside. Conversation, like the Romish religion, was so encumbered with show and ceremony, that it stood in need of a reformation to retrench its superfluities, and restore it to its natural good sense and beauty. At present therefore an unconstrained carriage, and a certain openness of behaviour, are the height of good-breeding. The fashionable world is grown free and easy; our manners sit more loose upon us. Nothing is so modish as an agreeable negligence. In a word, goodbreeding shows itself most, where to an ordinary eye it appears the least.
If after this we look on the people of mode in the country, we find in them the manners of the last age. They have no sooner fetched themselves up to the fashions of the polite world, but the town has dropped them, and are nearer to the first state of nature than to those refinements which formerly reigned in the court, and still prevail in the country. One may now know a man that never conversed in the world, by his excess of good-breeding. A polite country 'squire shall make you as many bows in
to a man of my temper, who generally take the chair that is next me, and walk first or last, in the front or in the rear, as chance directs. I have known my friend Sir Roger's dinner almost cold before the company could adjust the ceremonial, and be prevailed upon to sit down: and have heartily pitied my old friend, when I have seen him forced to pick and cull his guests as they sat at the several parts of his table, that he might drink their healths according to their respective ranks and qualities. Honest Will Wimble, who I should have thought had been altogether uninfected with ceremony, gives me abundance of trouble in this particular. Though he has been fishing all the morning, he will not help himself at dinner until I am served. When we are going out of the hall, he runs behind me; and last night, as we were walking in the fields, stopped short at a stile until I came up to it, and upon my making signs to him to get over, told me with a serious smile, that sure I believed they had no manners in the country.
There has happened another revolution in the point of good-breeding, which relates to the conversation among men of mode, and which I cannot but look upon as very extraordinary. It was certainly one of the first distinctions of a well-bred man to express every thing that had the most remote appearance of being obscene, in modest terms and distant phrases; whilst the clown who had no such delicacy of conception and expression, clothed his ideas in those plain, homely terms that are the most obvious and natural. This kind of good-manners was perhaps carried to an excess, so as to make conversation too stiff, formal, and precise: for which reason, (as hypocrisy in one age is generally succeeded by atheism in another,) conversation is in a great measure relapsed into the first extreme; so that at present several of our men of the town, and particularly those who have been polished in France, make use of the most coarse uncivilized words in our language, and utter themselves often in such a manner as a clown would blush to hear.
This infamous piece of good-breeding, which reigns among the coxcombs of the town, has not yet made its way into the country; and as it is impossible for such an irrational way of conversation to last long among a people that make any profession of religion, or show of modesty, if the country gentlemen get into it, they will certainly be left in the lurch. Their good-breeding will come too late to them, and they will be thought a parcel of lewd clowns, while they fancy themselves talking together like men of wit and pleasure.
As the two points of good-breeding, which I have hitherto insisted upon, regard behaviour and conversation, there is a third which turns upon dress. In this too the country are very much behind-hand. The rural beaux are not yet got out of the fashion that took place at the time of the revolution, but ride about the country in red coats and laced hats, while the women in many parts are still trying to outvie one another in the height of their head-dresses.
But a friend of mine, who is now upon the western circuit, having promised to give me an account of the several modes and fashions that prevail in the different parts of the nation through which he passes, I shall defer the enlarging upon this last topic till I have received a letter from him, which I expect every post. L.
No. 120.] Wednesday, July 18, 1711.
-I deem their breasts inspir'd With a divine sagacity.
My friend Sir Roger is very often merry with me upon my passing so much of my time among his poultry. He has caught me twice or thrice looking after a bird's-nest, and several times sitting an hour or two together near a hen and chickens. He tells me he believes I am personally acquainted with every fowl about his house; calls such a particular cock my favourite; and frequently complains that his ducks and geese have more of my company than himself.
I must confess I am infinitely delighted with those speculations of nature which are to be made in a country-life; and as my reading has very much lain among books of natural history, I cannot forbear recollecting upon this occasion the several remarks which I have met with in authors, and comparing them with what falls under my own observation: the arguments for Providence drawn from the natural history of animals being in my opinion demonstrative. The make of every kind of animal is different from that of every other kind: and yet there is not the least turn in the muscles or twist in the fibres of any one, which does not render them more proper for that particular animal's way of life than any other cast or texture of them would have been.
The most violent appetites in all creatures are lust and hunger. The first is a perpetual call upon them to propagate their kind; the latter to preserve themselves.
It is astonishing to consider the different degrees of care that descend from the parent to the young, so far as is absolutely necessary for the leaving a posterity. Some creatures cast their eggs as chance directs them, and think of them no farther; as insects and several kinds of fish. Others, of a nicer frame, find out proper beds to deposit them in, and there leave them; as the serpent,
the crocodile, and ostrich: others hatch their eggs, and tend the birth until it is able to shift for itself.
What can we call the principle which directs every different kind of bird to observe a particular plan in the structure of its nest, and directs all the same species to work after the same model? It cannot be, imitation; for though you hatch a crow under a hen, and never let it see any of the works of its own kind, the nest it makes shall be the same, to the laying of a stick, with all the other nests of the same species. It cannot be reason; for were animals endowed with it, to as great a degree as man, their buildings would be as different as ours, according to the different conveniences that they would propose to themselves.
Is it not remarkable that the same temper of weather, which raises this genial warmth in animals, should cover the trees with leaves, and the fields with grass, for their security and concealment, and produce such infinite swarms of insects for the support and sustenance of their respective broods?
Is it not wonderful that the love of the parent should be so violent while it lasts, and that it should last no longer than is necessary for the preservation of the young?
The violence of this natural love is exemplified by a very barbarous experiment; which I shall quote at length, as I find it in an excellent author, and hope my readers will pardon the mentioning such an instance of cruelty, because there is nothing can so effectually show the strength of that principle in animals of which I am here speaking.
A person who was well skilled in dissection opened a bitch, and as she lay in the most exquisite tortures, offered her one of her young puppies, which she immediately fell a licking: and for the time seemed insensible of her own pain. On the removal she kept her eyes fixed on it, and began a wailing sort of cry, which seemed rather to proceed from the loss of her young one, than the sense of her own torments.
But notwithstanding this natural love in brutes is much more violent and intense than in rational creatures, Providence has taken care that it should be no longer troublesome to the parent than it is useful to the young; for so soon as the wants of the latter cease, the mother withdraws her fondness, and leaves them to provide for themselves; and what is a very remarkable circumstance in this part of instinct, we find that the love of the parent may be lengthened out beyond its usual time, if the preservation of the species requires it: as we may see in birds that drive away their young as soon as they are able to get their livelihood, but continue to feed them if they are tied to the nest, or confined within a cage, or by any other means appear to be out of a condition of supplying their own necessities.
This natural love is not observed in animals to ascend from the young to the parent,
which is not at all necessary for the con- other species; and when the birth appears tinuance of the species: nor indeed in rea- of never so different a bird, will cherish it sonable creatures does it rise in any propor- | for her own. In all these circumstances, tion, as it spreads itself downward; for in all which do not carry an immediate regard to family affection, we find protection granted the subsistence of herself or her species, and favours bestowed, are greater motives she is a very idiot. to love and tenderness, than safety, benefits, or life received.
One would wonder to hear sceptical men disputing for the reason of animals, and telling us it is only our pride and prejudices that will not allow them the use of that faculty.
There is not, in my opinion, any thing more mysterious in nature than this instinct in animals, which thus rises above reason and falls infinitely short of it. It cannot be accounted for by any properties in matter, and at the same time works after so odd a manner, that one cannot think Reason shows itself in all occurrences of it the faculty of an intellectual being. For life; whereas the brute makes no discovery my own part, I look upon it as upon the of such a talent, but in what immediately principle of gravitation in bodies, which is regards his own preservation or the con-not to be explained by any known qualities tinuance of his species. Animals in their inherent in the bodies themselves, nor from generations are wiser than the sons of men; the laws of mechanism, but, according to but their wisdom is confined to a few par- the best notions of the greatest philosoticulars, and lies in a very narrow compass. phers, is an immediate impression from the Take a brute out of his instinct, and you first mover, and the divine energy acting find him wholly deprived of understanding. in the creatures. To use an instance that comes often under observation.
Jovis omnia plena. Virg. Ecl. iii. 60. —All things are full of Jove.
With what caution does the hen provide No. 121.] Thursday, July 19, 1711. herself a nest in places unfrequented, and free from noise and disturbance! When she has laid her eggs in such a manner that she can cover them, what care does she take in turning them frequently that all parts may partake of the vital warmth! When she leaves them, to provide for her necessary sustenance, how punctually does she return before they have time to cool, and become incapable of producing an animal! In the summer you see her giving herself greater freedoms, and quitting her care for above two hours together; but in winter, when the rigour of the season would chill the principles of life, and destroy the young one, she grows more assiduous in her attendance, and stays away but half the time. When the birth approaches, with how much nicety and attention does she help the chick to break its prison! not to take notice of her covering it from the injuries of the weather, providing it proper nourishment, and teaching it to help itself; nor to mention her forsaking the nest, if after the usual time of reckoning the young one does not make its appearance. A chymical operation could not be followed with greater art or diligence than is seen in the hatching of a chick; though there are many other birds that show an infinitely greater sagacity in all the forementioned particulars.
As I was walking this morning in the great yard that belongs to my friend's country-house, I was wonderfully pleased to see the different workings of instinct in a hen followed by a brood of ducks. The young upon the sight of a pond, immediately ran into it; while the step-mother, with all imaginable anxiety, hovered about the borders of it, to call them out of an element that appeared to her so dangerous and destructive. As the different principle which acted in these different animals cannot be termed reason, so, when we call it Instinct, we mean something we have no knowledge of. To me, as I hinted in my last paper, it seems the immediate direction of Providence, and such an operation of the supreme Being, as that which determines all the portions of matter to their proper centres. A modern philosopher, quoted by Monsieur Bayle in his learned Dissertation on the Souls of Brutes, delivers the same opinion, though in a bolder form of words, where he says, Deus est anima brutonum,—'God himself is the soul of brutes. Who can tell what to call that seeming sagacity in animals, which directs them to such food as is proper for them, and makes them naturally avoid whatever But at the same time the hen, that has is noxious or unwholesome? Tully has oball this seeming ingenuity (which is indeed served that a lamb no sooner falls from its absolutely necessary for the propagation mother, but immediately and of its own of the species,) considered in other re-accord it applies itself to the teat. Damspects, is without the least glimmering of pier, in his Travels, tells us, that when thought or common sense. She mistakes seamen are thrown upon any of the una piece of chalk for an egg, and sits upon known coasts of America, they never venit in the same manner. She is insensible ture upon the fruit of any tree, how temptof any increase or diminution in the num-ing soever it may appear, unless they obber of those she lays. She does not distin- serve that it is marked with the pecking guish between her own and those of an- of birds; but fall on without any fear or
apprehension where the birds have been before them.
But notwithstanding animals have nothing like the use of reason, we find in them all the lower parts of our nature, the passions and senses, in their greatest strength and perfection. And here it is worth our observation, that all beasts and birds of prey are wonderfully subject to anger, malice, revenge and all the other violent passions that may animate them in search of their proper food; as those that are incapable of defending themselves, or annoying others, or whose safety lies chiefly in their flight, are suspicious, fearful, and apprehensive of every thing they see or hear: whilst others that are of assistance and use to man, have their natures softened with something mild and tractable, and by that means are qualified for a domestic life. In this case the passions generally correspond with the make of the body. We do not find the fury of a lion in so weak and defenceless an animal as a lamb; nor the meekness of a lamb in a creature so armed for battle and assault as the lion. In the same manner, we find that particular animals have a more or less exquisite sharpness and sagacity in those particular senses which most turn to their advantage, and in which their safety and welfare is the most concerned.
placed it, and there receive the afflux of colder or warmer, clean or foul water, as it happens to come to it?"
I shall add to this instance out of Mr. Locke another out of the learned Dr. More, who cites it from Cardan, in relation to another animal which Providence has left defective, but at the same time has shown its wisdom in the formation of that organ in which it seems chiefly to have failed. What is more obvious and ordinary than a mole? and yet what more palpable argument of Providence than she? The members of her body are so exactly fitted to her nature and manner of life: for her dwelling being under ground, where nothing is to be seen, nature has so obscurely fitted her with eyes, that naturalists can scarce agree whether she have any sight at all, or no. But for amends, what she is capable of for her defence and warning of danger, she has very eminently conferred upon her; for she is exceeding quick of hearing. And then her short tail and short legs, but broad fore-feet armed with sharp claws; we see by the event to what purpose they are, she so swiftly working herself under ground, and making her way so fast in the earth, as they that behold it cannot but admire it. Her legs therefore are short, that she need dig no more than will serve the mere thickness of her body; and her fore-feet are Nor must we here omit that great variety broad, that she may scoop away much of arms with which nature has differently earth at a time; and little or no tail she has, fortified the bodies of several kinds of ani- because she courses it not upon the ground mals, such as claws, hoofs, horns, teeth, like the rat or mouse, of whose kindred she and tusks, a tail, a sting, a trunk, or a pro-is; but lives under the earth, and is fain to boscis. It is likewise observed by naturalists, that it must be some hidden principle, distinct from what we call reason, which instructs animals in the use of these their arms, and teaches them to manage them to the best advantage; because they naturally defend themselves with that part in which their strength lies, before the weapon be formed in it; as is remarkable in lambs, which, though they are bred within doors, and never saw the actions of their own species, push at those who approach them with their foreheads, before the first budding of a horn appears.
I shall add to these general observations an instance, which Mr. Locke has given us, of Providence even in the imperfections of a creature which seems the meanest and the most despicable in the whole animal world. We may,' says he, from the make of an oyster or cockle, conclude that it has not so many nor so quick senses as a man, or several other animals; nor if it had, would it, in that state and incapacity of transferring itself from one place to another, be bettered by them. What good would sight and hearing do to a creature, that cannot move itself to or from the object, wherein at a distance it perceives good or evil? And would not quickness of sensation be an inconvenience to an animal that must be still where chance has once
dig herself a dwelling there. And she making her way through so thick an element, which will not yield easily as the air or the water, it had been dangerous to have drawn so long a train behind her; for her enemy might fall upon her rear, and fetch her out before she had completed or got full possession of her works?'
I cannot forbear mentioning Mr. Boyle's remark upon this last creature, who I remember somewhere in his works observes, that though the mcle be not totally blind (as it is commonly thought) she has not sight enough to distinguish particular objects. Her eye is said to have but one humour in it, which is supposed to give her the idea of light, but of nothing else, and is so formed that this idea is probably painful to the animal. Whenever she comes up into broad day she might be in danger of being taken, unless she were thus affected by a light striking upon her eye, and immediately warning her to bury herself in her proper element. More sight would be useless to her, as none at all might be fatal.
I have only instanced such animals as seem the most imperfect works of nature; and if Providence shows itself even in the blemishes of these creatures, how much more does it discover itself in the several endowments which it has variously bestowed upon
such creatures as are more or less finished and completed in their several faculties, according to the condition of life in which they are posted.
I could wish our Royal Society would compile a body of natural history, the best that could be gathered together from books and observations. If the several writers among them took each his particular species, and gave us a distinct account of its original, birth, and education, its policies, hostilities, and alliances, with the frame and texture of its inward and outward parts, and particularly those that distinguish it from all other animals, with their peculiar aptitudes for the state of being in which Providence has placed them, it would be one of the best services their studies could do mankind, and not a little redound to the glory of the all-wise Contriver.
It is true, such a natural history, after all the disquisitions of the learned, would be infinitely short and defective. Seas and deserts hide millions of animals from our observation. Innumerable artifices and stratagems are acted in the 'howling wilderness' and in the 'great deep,' that can never come to our knowledge. Besides that there are infinitely more species of creatures which are not to be seen without nor indeed with the help of the finest glasses, than of such as are bulky enough for the naked eye to take hold of. However, from the consideration of such animals as lie within the compass of our knowledge, we might easily form a conclusion of the rest, that the same variety of wisdom and goodness runs through the whole creation and puts every creature in a condition to provide for its safety and subsistence in its proper station.
Tully has given us an admirable sketch of natural history in his second book concerning the Nature of the Gods; and that in a style so raised by metaphors and descriptions, that it lifts the subject above raillery and ridicule, which frequently fall on such nice observations when they pass through the hands of an ordinary writer.
and confirmed by the opinion of all that know him.
My worthy friend, Sir Roger, is one of those who is not only at peace within himself, but beloved and esteemed by all about him. He receives a suitable tribute for his universal benevolence to mankind, in the returns of affection and good-will, which are paid him by every one that lives within his neighbourhood. I lately met with two or three odd instances of that general respect which is shown to the good old knight. He would needs carry Will Wimble and myself with him to the county assizes. As we were upon the road Will Wimble joined a couple of plain men who rid before us, and conversed with them for some time; during which, my friend Sir Roger acquainted me with their characters.
'The first of them,' says he, 'that has a spaniel by his side, is a yeoman of about an hundred pounds a year, an honest man. He is just within the game-act, and qualified to kill a hare or a pheasant. He knocks down his dinner with his gun twice or thrice a week; and by that means lives much cheaper than those who have not so good an estate as himself. He would be a good neighbour if he did not destroy so many partridges. In short, he is a very sensible man; shoots flying; and has been several times foreman of the petty-jury.
The other that rides along with him is Tom Touchy, a fellow famous for "taking the law" of every body. There is not one in the town where he lives that he has not sued at a quarter sessions. The rogue had once the impudence to go to law with the Widow. His head is full of costs, damages, and ejectments. He plagued a couple of honest gentlemen so long for a trespass in breaking one of his hedges, till he was forced to sell the ground it enclosed to defray the charges of the prosecution; his father left him fourscore pounds a year; but he has cast and been cast so often, that he is not now worth thirty. I suppose he is going upon the old business of the willow-tree.'
As Sir Roger was giving me this account of Tom Touchy, Will Wimble and his two companions stopped short till we came up to them. After having paid their respects to Sir Roger, Will told him that Mr. Touchy and he must appeal to him upon a dispute that arose between them. Will, it seems, had been giving his fellow-traveller an account of his angling one day in such a hole: when Tom Touchy, instead of hearing out his story, told him that Mr. Sucha-One, if he pleased, might take the law of him' for fishing in that part of the river. My friend Sir Roger heard them both, upon a round trot; and after having paused some time, told them, with the air of a man who would not give his judgment rashly, that much might be said on both sides' They were neither of them dissatisfied with the knight's determination,