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wisdom of the bees! Whereas, man has talents that have no sort of reference to his existence; and without which, his species might remain upon earth in the same safety as if they had them not. The bee works at that particular angle which saves most time and labour; and the boasted edifice he is constructing is only for his egg: but Somerset House, and Blenheim, and the Louvre, have nothing to do with breeding. Epic poems, and Apollo Belvideres, and Venus de Medicis, have nothing to do with living and eating. We might have discovered pig-nuts without the Royal Society, and gathered acorns without reasoning about curves of the ninth order. The immense superfluity of talent given to man, which has no bearing upon animal life, which has nothing to do with the mere preservation of existence, is one very distinguishing circumstance in this comparison. There is no other animal but man to whom mind appears to be given for any other purpose than the preservation of body.
CHANGE OF INSTINCT.
THE most curious instance of a change of instinct is mentioned by Darwin. The bees carried over to Barbadoes and the Western Isles, ceased to lay up any honey after the first year; as they found it not useful to them. They found the weather so fine and materials for making honey so plentiful, that they quitted their grave, prudent, and mercantile character, became exceedingly profligate and debauched, eat up their capital, resolved to work no more, and amused themselves by flying about the sugar-houses, and stinging the blacks. The fact is, that by putting animals in different situations, you may change, and even reverse, any of their original propensities. Spallanzani brought up an eagle upon bread and milk, and fed a dove on raw beef. The circumstances by which an animal is surrounded, impel him to do so and so, by the changes they produce in his body and mind. Alter those circumstances, and he no longer does as he did before. This, instead of disproving the existence of an irstinct, only points out the causes on which it depends.
STORY OF AN ELEPHANT.
ANECDOTE OF AN ELEPHANT.
THE artifices of a gentleman pursued by bailiffs, and the artifices of an animal pursued for his life, are the same thing-call them hy what name you please. Of all animals, the most surprising stories are told of the docility of elephants. The black people, who have the care of them, often go away, leaving them chained to a stake, and place near them their young children, as if under their care: the elephant allows the little creature to crawl as far as its trunk can reach, and then gently takes the young master up, and places him more within his own control. Every one knows the old story of the tailor and the elephant, which, if it be not true, at least shows the opinion the Orientals, who know the animal well, entertain of his sagacity. An eastern tailor to the court was making a magnificent doublet for a bashaw of nine tails, and covering it, after the manner of eastern doublets, with gold, silver, and every species of metallic magnificence. As he was busying himself on this momentous occasion, there passed by, to the pools of water, one of the royal elephants, about the size of a broadwheeled wagon, rich in ivory teeth, and shaking, with its ponderous tread, the tailor's shop to its remotest thimble. As he passed near the window, the elephant happened to look in; the tailor lifted up his eyes, perceived the proboscis of the elephant near him, and, being seized with a fit of facetiousness, pricked the animal with his needle; the mass of matter immediately retired, stalked away to the pool, filled his trunk full of muddy water, and, returning to the shop, overwhelmed the artisan and his doublet with the dirty effects of his vengeance.
LONGEVITY AND WISDOM.*
THE wisdom of a man is made up of what he observes, and what others observe for him; and of course the sum of what he can acquire must principally depend upon the time in which he can acquire it. All that we add to our knowledge is not an increase, by that exact proportion, of all we possess; because we lose some things, as we gain others; but upon the whole, while the body and mind remain healthy, an active man increases in intelligence, and
From the Lecture on the Faculties of Beasts.
VALUE OF LONGEVITY.
consequently in power. If we lived seven hund. ed years instead of seventy, we should write better epic poems, build better houses, and invent more complicated mechanism, than we do now. I should question very much if Mr. Milne could build a bridge so well as a gentleman who had engaged in that occupation for seven centuries and if I had had only two hundred years' experience in lecturing on moral philosophy, I am well convinced I should do it a little better than I now do. On the contrary, how diminutive and absurd all the efforts of man would have been, if the duration of his life had only been twenty years, and if he had died of old age just at the period when every human being begins to suspect that he is the wisest and most extraordinary person that ever did exist! I think it is Helvetius who says, he is quite certain we only owe our superiority over the orang-outangs to the greater length of life conceded to us; and that, if our life had been as short as theirs, they would have totally defeated us in the competition for nuts and ripe blackberries. I can hardly agree to this extravgant statement; but I think, in a life of twenty years the efforts of the human mind would have been so considerably lowered, that we might probably have thought Helvetius a good philosopher, and admired his skeptical absurdities as some of the greatest efforts of the human understanding. Sir Richard Blackmore would have been our greatest poet; our wit would have been Dutch; our faith, French; the Hottentots would have given us the model for manners, and the Turks for government; and we might probably have been such miserable reasoners respecting the sacred truths of religion, that we should have thought they wanted the support of a puny and childish jealousy of the poor beasts that perish. His gregarious nature is another cause of man's superiority over all other animals. A lion lies under a hole in a rock; and if any other lion happen to pass by, they fight. Now, whoever gets a habit of lying under a hole in a rock, and fighting with every gentleman who passes near him, can not possibly make any progress. Every man's understanding and acquirements, how great and extensive soever they may appear, are made up from the contributions of his friends and companions. You spend your morning in learning from Hume what happened at particular periods of your own history: you dine where some man tells you what he has observed in the East Indies, and another discourses of brown suga
245 and Jamaica. It is from these perpetual rills of knowledge, that you refresh yourself, and become strong and healthy as you are. If lions would consort together, and growl out the observations they have made, about killing sheep and shepherds, the most likely places for catching a calf grazing, and so forth, they could not fail to improve; because they would be actuated by such a wide range of observation, and operating by the joint force of so many minds. It may be said, that the gregarious spirit in man may proceed from his wisdom; and not his wisdom from his gregarious spirit. This I should doubt. It appears to be an original principle in some animals, and not in others; and is a quality given to some to better their condition, as swiftness or strength is given to others. The tiger lives alone-bulls and cows do not; yet, a tiger is as wise an animal as a bull. A wild boar lives with the herd till he comes of age, which he does at three years, and then quits the herd and lives alone. There is a solitary species of bee, and there is a gregarious bee. Whether an animal should herd or not, seems to be as much a provision of nature, as whether it should crawl, creep, or fly.
THE most curious offspring of shame, is shyness;-a word always used, I fancy, in a bad sense, to signify misplaced shame; for a person who felt only diffident, exactly in proportion as he ought, would never be called shy. But a shy person feels more shame, than it is graceful, or proper, he should feel; generally, either from ignorance or pride. A young man, in making his first entrance into society, is so ignorant as to imagine he is the object of universal attention; and that everything he does is subject to the most rigid criticism. Of course, under such a supposition, he is shy and embarrassed: he regains his ease, as he becomes aware of his insignificance. An excessive jealousy of reputation, is the very frequent parent of shyness, and makes us all afraid of saying and doing, what we might say and do, with the utmost propriety and grace. We are afraid of hazarding anything; and the game stands still, because no man will venture any stake: whereas, the
This and the next are from the Lecture of the Evil Affections.
object of living together, is not security only, but enjoyment. Both objects are promoted by a moderate dread of shame; both destroyed by that passion, when it amounts to shyness;-for a shy person not only feels pain, and gives pain; but, what is worse, he incurs blame, for a want of that rational and manly confidence, which is so useful to those who possess it, and so pleasant to those who witness it. I am severe against shyness, because it looks like a virtue without being a virtue; and because it gives us false notions of what the real virtue is. I admit that it is sometimes an affair of body, rather than of mind; that where a person wishes to say what he knows will be received with favour, he cannot command himself enough to do it. But this is merely the effect of habit, where the cause that created the habit has for a moment ceased. When the feelings respecting shame are disciplined by good sense, and commerce with the world, to a fair medium, the body will soon learn to obey the decisions of the understanding.
Nor let any young man imagine (however it may flatter the vanity of those who perceive it), that there can be anything worthy of a man, in faltering, and tripping, and stammering, and looking like a fool, and acting like a clown. A silly college pedant believes that this highest of all the virtues, consists in the shame of the body; in losing the ease and possession of a gentleman; in turning red; and tumbling down; in saying this thing, when you mean that; in overturning everybody within your reach, out of pure bashfulness; and in a general stupidity and ungainliness, and confusion of limb, and thought, and motion. But that dread of shame, which virtue and wisdom teach, is, to act so, from the cradle to the tomb, that no man can cast upon you the shadow of reproach; not to swerve on this side for wealth, or on that side for favour; but to go on speaking truly, and acting justly; no man's oppressor, and no man's sycophant and slave. This is the shame of the soul; and these are the blushes of the inward man; which are worth all the distortions of the body, and all the crimson of the face.
USES OF THE EVIL AFFECTIONS.
It appears, then, from this enumeration of the ungrateful passions, which lead men to act from feelings of aversion, that they are