cency and decent reserve more may be said than can with truth of every individual of her sex, since she is

quæ nec reticere loquenti,
Nec prior ipsa loqui didicit resonabilis echo.1

September 9, 1778. ... Noinhabitants of a yard seem possessed of such a variety of expression, and so copious a language, as common poultry. Take a chicken of four or five days old, and hold it up to a window where there are flies, and it will immediately seize its prey with little twitterings of complacency; but if you tender it a wasp or a bee, at once its note becomes harsh, and expressive of disapprobation and a sense of danger. When a pullet is ready to lay, she intimates the event by a joyous and easy soft note. Of all the occurrences of their life that of laying seems to be the most important; for no sooner has a hen disburdened herself, than she rushes forth with a clamorous kind of joy, which the cock and the rest of his mistresses immediately adopt. The tumult is not confined to the family concerned, but catches from yard to yard, and spreads to every homestead within hearing, till at last the whole village is in an uproar. As soon as a hen becomes a mother her new relation demands a new language; she then runs clucking and screaming about, and seems agitated as if possessed. The father of the flock has also a considerable vocabulary. If he finds food, he calls a favorite concubine to partake; and if a bird of prey passes over, with a warning voice he bids his family beware. The gallant chanticleer has, at command, his amorous phrases and his terms of defiance. But the sound by which he is best known is his crowing; by this he has been distinguished in all ages as the countryman's clock or larum, as the watchman that proclaims the divisions of the night. Thus the poet elegantly styles him

- the crested cock, whose clarion sounds The silent hours

1780. The old Sussex tortoise, that I have mentioned to you so often, is become my property. I dug it out of its winter dormitory in March last, when it was enough awakened to express its

1 “Answering echo, who has neither learned to keep silence when spoken to, nor to speak first berself."

April 21,

resentment by hissing; and, packing it in a box with earth, carried it eighty miles in post-chaises. The rattle and hurry of the journey so perfectly roused it that, when I turned it out on a border, it walked twice down to the bottom of my garden. However, in the evening, the weather being cold, it buried itself in the loose mould, and continues still concealed. As it will be under my eye, I shall now have an opportunity of enlarging my observations on its mode of life; and already perceive that, towards the time of coming forth, it opens a breathing place in the ground near its head, — requiring, I conclude, a freer respiration as it becomes more alive. This creature not only goes under the earth from the middle of November to the middle of April, but sleeps great part of the summer; for it goes to bed in the longest days at four in the afternoon, and often does not stir in the morning till late. Besides, it retires to rest for every shower, and does not move at all in wet days.

When one reflects on the state of this strange being, it is a matter of wonder to find that Providence should bestow such a profusion of days, such a seeming waste of longevity, on a reptile that appears to relish it so little as to squander more than twothirds of its existence in a joyless stupor, and be lost to all sensation for months together in the profoundest of slumbers.

While I was writing this letter, a moist and warm afternoon, with the thermometer at 50°, brought forth troops of shellsnails; and at the same juncture the tortoise heaved up the mould and put out its head, and the next morning came forth, as it were, raised from the dead, and walked about till four in the afternoon. This was a curious coincidence, a very amusing occurrence! to see such a similarity of feelings between the two bepéolkoi, — for so the Greeks call both the shell-snail and the tortoise.

Because we call this creature an abject reptile, we are too apt to undervalue his abilities and depreciate his powers of instinct. Yet he is, as Mr. Pope says of his lord,

Much too wise to walk into a well, and has so much discernment as not to fall down a haha, but to stop and withdraw from the brink with the readiest precaution. Though he loves warm weather, he avoids the hot sun, because his thick shell, when once heated, would, as the poet says

of solid armor, “scald with safety.” He therefore spends the more sultry hours under the umbrella of a large cabbage leaf, or amidst the waving forests of an asparagus bed. But, as he avoids heat in the summer, so, in the decline of the year, he improves the faint autumnal beams by getting within the reflection of a fruit-wall; and though he never has read that planes inclining to the horizon receive a greater share of warmth, he inclines his shell, by tilting it against the wall, to collect and admit every feeble ray.

Pitiable seems the condition of this poor embarrassed reptile,

to be cased in a suit of ponderous armor, which he cannot lay aside; to be imprisoned, as it were, within his own shell, must preclude, we should suppose, all activity and disposition for enterprise. Yet there is a season of the year (usually the beginning of June) when his exertions are remarkable. He then walks on tiptoe, and is stirring by five in the morning; and, traversing the garden, examines every wicket and interstice in the fences, through which he will escape if possible; and often has eluded the care of the gardener, and wandered to some distant field. The motives that impel him to undertake these rambles seem to be of the amorous kind; his fancy then becomes intent on attachments, which transport him beyond his usual gravity, and induce him to forget for a time his ordinary solemn deportment.



1756 [This work was published when Burke was twenty-six years old, and had been begun when he was in his nineteenth year. The first four parts of the treatise deal with the nature of pleasure, of beauty, and of the sublime, with special reference to physical objects and their impressions on the senses; the fifth part, on language and literature, is reproduced here. The text is the revised form of the second edition (1757), to which Burke added a prefatory discourse on Taste, following out some of the matters taken up by Addison in his paper on the subject. While the psychology of the whole essay is now obsolete, it remains both intrinsically interesting and historically significant as one of the earliest English studies in the theory of æsthetics. In particular, the discussion in Part V of the comparative powers of language and the arts of form, influenced Lessing's treatment of the same subject in his Laocoon (1766).)

PART V Section 1. OF WORDS. Natural objects affect us, by the laws of that connection which Providence has established between certain motions and configurations of bodies, and certain consequent feelings in our mind. Painting affects in the same manner, but with the superadded pleasure of imitation. Architecture affects by the laws of nature and the law of reason; from which latter result the rules of proportion, which makes a work to be praised or censured, in the whole or in some part, when the end for which it was designed is or is not properly answered. But as to words, they seem to me to affect us in a manner very different from that in which we are affected by natural objects, or by painting or architecture; yet words have as considerable a share in exciting ideas of beauty and of the sublime as many of those, and sometimes a much greater than any of them. Therefore an inquiry into the manner by which they excite such emotions is far from being unnecessary, in a discourse of this kind.


power of poetry and eloquence, as well as that of words in ordinary conversation, is that they affect the mind by raising in it ideas of those things for which custom has appointed them to stand. To examine the truth of this notion, it may be requisite to observe that words may be divided into three sorts. The first are such as represent many simple ideas united by nature to form some one determinate composition, as man, horse, tree, castle, etc. These I call aggregate words. The second are they that stand for one simple idea of such compositions, and no more; as red, blue, round, square, and the like. These I call simple abstract words. The third are those which are formed by an union- an arbitrary union - of both the others, and of the various relations between them, in greater or lesser degrees of complexity; as virtue, honor, persuasion, magistrate, and the like. These I call compound abstract words. Words, I am sensible, are capable of being classed into more curious distinctions; but these seem to be natural, and enough for our purpose; and they are disposed in that order in which they are commonly taught, and in which the mind gets the ideas they are substituted for.

I shall begin with the third sort of words, — compound abstracts, such as virtue, honor, persuasion, docility. Of these I am convinced that, whatever power they may have on the passions, they do not derive it from any representation raised in the mind of the things for which they stand. As compositions, they are not real essences, and hardly cause, I think, any real ideas. Nobody, I believe, immediately on hearing the sounds virtue, liberty, or honor, conceives any precise notions of the particular modes of action and thinking, together with the mixed and simple ideas, and the several relations of them, for which these words are substituted. Neither has he any general idea, compounded of them; for if he had, then some of those particular ones, though indistinct, perhaps, and confused, might soon come to be perceived. But this, I take it, is hardly ever the case. For, put yourself upon analyzing one of these words, and you must reduce it from one set of general words to another, and then into the simple abstracts and aggregates, in a much longer series than may be at first imagined,

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