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scope is, indeed, often very limited ; but always sufficient to answer the purposes of nature. The semale of every species understands the call of the male, and replies to it as intelligibly: the young understand the mandates of the mother, and the mother the petitions of the young. This amusing de. partment of natural history was well known to the philosophers of Greece and Rome, and attentively cultivated by them: and Lucretius, in his Nature or Things, has pursued the subject not only so correctly but so copiously, that it is almost impossibie, even in the present day, to add any thing of real importance to what he has already observed.
I have termed this language of nature instinctive: and that it is entitled to this character is clear, because, even among birds, which possess the widest and most complicated range of natural language of all animals whatever, where two individuals of different species are bred up in the same bush, or in the same cage, or hatched and fostered by a semale of a third species, each evinces and retains the note that specifically distinguishes the species to wbich it belongs. In the case of a goldfinch and a chaffinch this has been put directly to the proof. And it is by this native tongue, as Mr. Montague has justly observed, and not by the form or colour, that the process of pairing is achieved, and the female induced to select her paramour.
Almost every aminal of the three classes just adverted to exhibits a dir. serent tone of voice according to the governing passion of the moment; but more especially when under the influence of grief, fear, or joy; to which, in some instances, we may add anger; but a distinct ione for anger is not so generally traced among animals as it is for the three preceding passions.
Among quadrupeds, the elephant, horse, and dog appear to possess the greatest portion of a natural tongue. They are all gregarious, particularly the two former. In Asia, the wild elephant, and in the l'kraine, between the Don and the Dnieper, the wild horse, pursue one common plan of political society, in numerous and collected troops; and are regulated by the elders of the tribe among the elephants, and by leaders chosen for this purpose among the horses: and it is by a difference of voice, combined with a difference of gesture, that these superiors give orders, in the course of their travels from place to place, in pursuit of pasture, for the necessary dispositions and arrangements. Both kinds are extremely vigilant and active, and maintain their ranks and brigades with as much regularity and precision as if they were conducted by a human leader. Among the wild horses of the Ukraine, the captain-general seems to be commonly appointed to his station for about four or five years; at the expiration of which time a kind of new election takes place : every one appears to have a right to propose himself for the office, the ex-magistrate not excepted: if no new candidate offer, the latter is reelected for the same term of time, and if he be opposed a combat succeeds, and the victor is appointed commander-in-chief.
The conduct pursued by the peaceful and amiable elephant varies in some degree from this of the wild horse ; for, in the travels of these animals from place to place, the troops are led on by the eldest of the tribe, thus evincing a kind of patriarchal government: the young and feeble marching in the mid dle, and the rear being composed of the vigorous and adult.t
The natural language of the monkey kud, notwithstanding the general resemblance of their structure to that of the human race, appears to be more confined than that of most quadrupeds; and it is well known that they never attempt to articulate sounds. Linnæus, indeed, seems to have entertained a contrary opinion with respect to the ourang-outang, and asserts that he speaks with a kind of hissing noise. Buffon, however, and Daubenton, and almost every other naturalist who has attentively watched his habits, deny that he ever employs even a hissing speech. And every comparative anatomist, who has accurately examined his vocal organs, has declared him to be physically incapable of articulation, from the peculiarity of a sac or bag, in some species of the animals single, in others double, immediately connected with the
• Ornithological Drt Introd. p. mit
upper part of the larynx, and into which the air is driven as it ascends from the lungs through the trachea, instead of being driven into the glottis, where alone it could acquire modulation and articulate sounds. From this sac or bag it asterward passes into the mouth by a variety of small apertures or fissures, by which almost the whole of its force, and consequently of its vocal effect, is lost. This peculiar conformation appears first to have been noticed by Galen, who traced it through several varieties both of the ape and monkey families; but for the most correct account of it we are indebted to Professor Camper, who, in a paper published in the Philosophical Transactions for 1779, minutely describes it as it exists in the sylvanus or pigmy, in which Tyson had overlooked it; in various other species of the ape; in the cynosurus or dog-tailed monkey; and in many others of the monkey tribe. At all adventures, the monkey has a peculiar deficiency of natural tongue; and we hence obtain an insuperable objection, had we no others, but which, I have already shown, are sufficiently abundant," to the declaration of Lord Monboddo and Linnaeus, that this tribe are all of the same original stock as man; and their absurd story that man himself is not unfrequently to be met with in some of the Asiatic islands, with a monkey-tail, varying in length from three . or four inches to a foot, possessing as great a fluency of speech as in any part of Europe.
Marcgrave, in his history of Brazil, has amused us with an account of a very extraordinary species of American sapajou, which Linnaeus has called Beelzebub, Buffon, Ouarine, and our own countryman Mr. Pennant, Preachermonkey, that assemble in large greups every morning and evening, and attentively listen to a loud and long-continued harangue of one of the tribe, whom he seems to suppose a public officer or popular demagogue. Upon the authority of Marcgrave, this species has been admitted into all our books of Natural History; but there are some doubts concerning it, and the description is at least without the support of concurrent testimony.
The different accents of the dog and the horse, when under the influence of rage, desire, or exultation, are too powerful and too common not to have been noticed by almost every one. It is impossible to describe the different tones of the mastiff more precisely than in the words of the truly philosophical poet I have so lately referred to ; but as it would be improper to quote him in the original before a popular audience, I must request of you to receive a feeble translation of him in its stead :—
When half enraged
The language of the tiger, leopard, and cat is not so rich or diversified as that of the dog; but they have still a considerable variation in the scale of their mewings, according to the predominant passion of fear or grief: while
these again differ from the accent of simple pleasure, which consists in purr. ing, and very considerably indeed from the loud and dissonant voice of love.
The language of birds is, in almost every instance, strikingly musical, though not equally eloquent, whatever be the passion it describes. To its variety in the different tribes of the osprey, hawk, sea-gull, rook, and raven, and especially as auguring wet or dry, stormy or serene weather, almost every naturalist has borne testimony : for each can say, that
Cawing rooks and kites, that swim sublime
Upon the exquisitely varied tones and modulations of the singing birds we descanted at some length in a former lecture.t But the subject is as inte. resting as it is inexhaustible; and in the summer-season of praise, when the heart of man overflows, or should overflow, with gratitude to his beneficent Creator for the return of plenteousness that meets his eye in every direction, with what animation do they join in the general carol ; awakening us at the dawn, accompanying us through the day, and sostening and harmonizing, and I fear not to add, spiritualizing our feelings at nightfall.
The robin, and not the lark, as cominonly supposed, takes the lead, I and seems longing for the day to unclose. His gentle voice is in sweet accord. ance with the feeble beams of the early twilight; and as soon as the glorious sun makes his appearance, then up mounts the lark, and pours forth his more vigorous song; a thousand warblers hear the call, and the chorus is full and complete. The leaders vary, but the carol continues. The nightingale yet protracts his nocturnal tones; and the thrush, the blackbird, and the goldfinch, from the lofty grove, the close thicket, or the blossomed orchard, intermingle their rival pretensions : while the transient but mellow burst of the cuckoo adds a richness to the general harmony; and even the croak of the raven, and the chattering of the daw, only break into the symphony, with an occasional discord that heightens the impressive effect. At length the sun is no more : the unbounded concert dies away; and the season of rest returns. It returns, but not with mute silence; for the night is soothed rather than disturbed by the solitary song of the robin, now resuming his modest strain, and yielding in succession to the peerless pipe of the nightingale, and the deep-toned but expressive hoot of the owl.
The note of the wren (motacilla Troglodytes) is as slender as its form, but it is well worth noticing, as being the only note of the feathered creation that is continued throughout the winter. During the season of frost and snow it is, indeed, heard to most advantage; for the fearless little songster then enters the court-yard, the stable, or the dairy, and seeks, in confidence, his food or insects or their larves. It is this that constitutes the little beggar's petition; and where is the heart so hardened as to refuse the request he then offers!
With respect to singing birds, indeed, of all kinds, we may make this pleasing observation, that, as though chiefly intended, in the general munifi. cence of the great Parent of the human race, to captivate mankind, they almost always reside in their vicinity, and are rarely to be found in the uninhabited parts of the earth.
• Tuk, book I.
1. Lecture 1, on Zoological Systems, and the Distinctive Characters of Animals. ! Ree Jeaner. Phil. Trans. 1884, p. 37
The Callowing pamage from Dr. Jenner's very admirable paper "On the Migration of Birde," has a porn mo directly in accordance with these remarks, that I cannot avoid copying it from the Pbil. Trans. for 1214
** We must pberrye, that nature never gives one property only, to the exme individual substance. Tareegh every gradation, from the clod we tread upon to the glorious sun which animates the whole terretrai ystem, we may find a vast variety of purposes for which use samne lady was created. If we lonk oo the simplest vep-cable, or the regiile it supports, how various, yet bow important in the economy of nature, ase be offices they are intended to perform. The migrating bird, i have said, is directed to this But the vocabulary of the common cock and hen is, perhaps, the most extensive of any tribe of birds with which we are acquainted; or rather, perhaps, we are better acquainted with the extent of its range than with that of any others. The cock has his watch-word for announcing the morning, his love-speech, and his terms of defiance. The voice of the hen, when she informs her paramour that she is disburdened of an egg, and which he instantly communicates from homestead to homestead, till the whole village is in an uproar, is far different from that which acquaints him that the brood is just hatched; and both again are equally different from the loud and rapid cries with which she undauntedly assails the felon fox that would rob her of her young. Even the little chick, when not more than four or five days old, exhibits a harsher and less melodious clacking when offered for food what it dislikés, than when it perceives what it relishes." Before I quit this part of our subject it becomes me also to remark, that even in various other tribes of animals than the three classes to which our observations have hitherto applied, we occasionally meet with proofs of an inferior kind of natural language, though it cannot with propriety be called a language of the voice. And I may here observe, that among the few of these three classes which we have already noticed as being destitute of a vocal larynx, the bounty of nature has often provided a substitute. Thus the wapiti (cervus Wapiti of Barton), though without the sonorous endowment of the horse or ox, seems to have a compensation in an organ that consists of an oblique slit or opening under the inner angle of each eye, nearly an inch long externally, which appears also to be an auxiliary to the nostril; for with this he makes a noise that he can vary at pleasure, and which is not unlike the loud and piercing whistle that boys give by putting their fingers in their mouth.f Among insects, however, we find a still more varied talent of uttering sounds, though possessed neither of lungs nor larynx, nor the nasal slit of the wapiti. The bee, the fly, the gnat, and the beetle afford familiar instances of this extraordinary faculty. The sphinx..sltropos, a species of hawk-moth, squeaks, when hurt, nearly as loud as a mouse; it has even the power, in certain circumstances, of uttering a plaintive note, which cannot fail to excite deep commiseration. If a bee or wasp be attacked near its own hive, the animal expresses its pain or indignation in a tone so different from its usual hum, that the complaint is immediately understood by the hive within; when the inhabitants hurry out to revenge the insult in such numbers, that the offender is fortunate if he escape without a severe castigation. The cunning spider often avails himself of the natural tone of distress uttered by the fly to make sure of him for his prey. He frequently spreads out his webs or toils to such an extent that he cannot see from one end of them to the other; and often conceals himself in some adjoining crevice where he cannot see the poor animal as it becomes ensnared: but he sits wist sully listening for the buzzing noise that assures him the fly is entangled, and is fluttering to make its escape. He hears the well-known signal, sallies forth from his concealment, and riots on the spoil that has fallen into his power, with all the eagerness and ferocity that distinguish the most rapacious quadrupeds. - Whether fishes possess any similar means of communicating their feelings we know not. Reasoning from the facts that a few of them occasionally utter tones of distress when first taken; and that they possess an organ os hearing, and live in a medium well adapted to the propagation of sound, it is generally conjectured that they have a language of some kind or other, but our knowledge of their usual habits, from their residing in a different element from our own, is so imperfect, that we have no positive data to build upon. It is a curious fact, that many animals, which are naturally dumb in the widest sense of the word, are possessed of a power of producing sounds, by the use of some external organ or foreign instrument, that forms a very con venient substitute for a natural tongue. I have formerly had occasion to observe this of the goat-chaffer or cerambyx, which, whenever taken, utters a shrill shriek of fright, by rubbing its chest against its wing-shells, and the upper part of its abdomen; and of the ptimus futidicus, or death-watch, that roduces its measured and, to the superstitious, alarming strokes, by striking its horny frontlet against the bed-post, or any other hard substance in which it takes its stand. The termes Pulsatorium, or tick-watch, is an insect of a different order, but armed with a similar apparatus, and makes a noise by the same means, like the ticking of a watch, from the old wood or decayed surniture in which it loves to reside, and by which it endeavours to entice the other sex to its company. And it is a singular circumstance, which I shall merely glance at in passing, that some species of the woodpecker, in the breeding season, in consequence of the feebleness of its natural voice, makes use of a similar kind of call, by strong reiterated strokes of the bill against a dead sonorous branch of a tree. The most astonishing instance, however, of sound excited in this manner, is that made by two species of Italian grasshoppers: the cicada Plebeja, and c. orni. The music of these insects (which is confined to the male) is produced by a very singular apparatus, that consists of several winding cells under the abdomen, separated by different membranes, and opening externally by two narrow valves. In the centre of these cells is contained a scaly sonorous triangle, and exterior to them are two vigorous muscles, by the action of which the cells are supplied with air through one of the valves, and so powerfully reverberate it against the triangle as to produce the notes of which the grasshopper's song consists; and which is sometimes so loud that a single insect, hung in a cage, has almost drowned the voices of a large company. This song is also the madrigal of love. But, highly tempting as it is, I must not pursue this part of our subject any farther. From the birds of the field to the grasshopper, from the bee to the fly, every attentive naturalist observes, in every tribe, a vast compass of accentuation, and comprehends the meaning of a great variety of their tones. But what is the little that we understand to what is understood by themselves, formed with similar organs, in a thousand instances more acute than our own, actuated by similar wants, and proposing to themselves similar pursuits! What the natural language of man is we know not. There can be no doubt, however, that is, by a miracle, he were to be deprived of all artificial language, there would still remain to him, from the persection of his vocal organs, a language of this kind, and of far greater extent and variety than that of any other animal. But some schools of philosophers have not been satisfied with contemplating such an idea hypothetically; they have boldly imbodied it into a fact, and have contended, and still continue to contend, that such a language has actually existed; and that it constituted the sole language of man on his first
island at a certain season of the year to produce and rear its young. This appears to be the grand intention which nature has in view ; but in consequence of the observation just made, its presence here may answer many secondary purposes; anong these I shall notice the following: The beneficent Author of nature seems to spare no pains in cheering the heart of man with every thing that is delightful in the sumner senson. We may be indulged with the company of these visiters, perhaps, to heighten, by the novelty of their appearance, and pleasing variety of their notes, the native scenes. How sweetly, at the return of spring, do the notes of the cuckoo first burst upon the ear; and what apathy must that soul possess, that does not feel a soft einotion at the song of the nightingale (surely it must be “fit for treasons, stratageins, and spoils”), and how wisely is it contrived that a general stillness should prevail while this heavenly bird is pouring forth its plaintive and melodious strains,—strains that so sweetly accord with the evening hour! Some of our foreign visiters, it may be said, are inharmonious minstreis, and rather disturb than aid the general concert. In the midst of a soft warm summer's day, when the martin is gently floating on the air, not only pleasing us with the peculiar delicacy of its note, but with the elegance of its meandering; when the blackcap is vying with the goldfinch, and the linnet with the woodlark, a dozen swifts rush from some neighbouring battlement, and set up a most discordant screaming. Yet all is perfect. The interruption is of short duration, and without it the long-continued warbling of the sofler singing birds would pall and tire the listening ear with excess of melody, as the exhilarating beams of the sun, were ...} not at intervals intercepted by clouds, would rob the heart of the gayety they for a while inspire, and sink it into languor. There is a persect consistency in the order in which nature seems to have directed the singing birds to fill up the day with their pleasing harmony. To an observer of those divine laws which harmonize the general order of things, there appenrs a design in the arrangement of this sylvan minstrelsy. It is not in the haunted meadow, nor frequented field, we are to expect the gratiscation of indulging ourselves in this pleasing speculation to its full extent; we must seek for it in the park, the forest, or some sequestered dell, half enclosed by the coppice or the wood.” * See White's Hist. of Selborne, vol. ii. p. 17. See Phil. Mag. No. 223, Nov. 1816, p. 302.