An history of the earth: and animated nature: by Oliver Goldsmith. In eight volumes. ... [pt.2]
- CHAP. I. A Compariſon of Animals, with the inferior Ranks of Creation Page 1
- II. Of the Generation of Animals 15
- III. The Infancy of Man 52
- IV. Of Puberty 70
- V. Of the Age of Manhood 79
- VI. Of Sleep and Hunger 123
- VII. Of Seeing 145
- VIII. Of Hearing 162
- IX. Of Smelling, Feeling, and Taſting 178
- X. Of Old Age and Death 193
- XI. Of the Varieties in the Human Race 211
- *XI. Of Monſters 243
- XII. Of Mummies, Wax-Works, &c. 267
- XIII. Of Animals 288
- XIV. Of Quadrupedes in general, compared to Man 309
- XV. Of the Horſe 341
- XVI. Of the Aſs 374
- XVII. Of the Zebra. 390
AN HISTORY OF ANIMALS.
HAVING given an account of the earth in general, and the advantages and inconveniencies with which it abounds, we now come to conſider it more minutely. Having deſcribed the habitation, we are naturally led to enquire after the inhabitants. Amidſt the infinitely different productions which the earth offers, and with which it is every where covered, animals hold the firſt rank; as well becauſe of the finer formation of their parts as of their ſuperior power. The vegetable, which is fixed to [Page 2] one ſpot, and obliged to wait for its accidental ſupplies of nouriſhment, may be conſidered as the priſoner of nature. Unable to correct the diſadvantages of its ſituation, or to ſhield itſelf from the dangers that ſurround it, every object that has motion may be its deſtroyer.
But, animals are endowed with powers, of motion and defence. The greateſt part are capable, by changing place, of commanding Nature; and of thus obliging her to furniſh that nouriſhment which is moſt agreeable to their ſtate. Thoſe few that are fixed to one ſpot, even in this ſeemingly helpleſs ſituation, are, nevertheleſs, protected from external injury, by an hard ſhelly covering; which they often can cloſe at pleaſure, and thus defend themſelves from every aſſault. And here, I think, we may draw the line between the animal and vegetable kingdoms. Every animal, by ſome means or other, finds protection from injury; either from its force, or courage, its ſwiftneſs, or cunning. Some are protected by hiding in convenient places; and others by taking refuge in an hard reſiſting ſhell. But, vegetables are totally unprotected; they are expoſed to every aſſailant, and patiently ſubmiſſive in every attack. In a word, an animal is an organized being that is in ſome meaſure provided for its own [Page 3] ſecurity; a vegetable is deſtitute of every protection.
But though it is very eaſy, without the help of definitions, to diſtinguiſh a plant from an animal, yet both poſſeſs many properties ſo much alike, that the two kingdoms, as they are called, ſeem mixed with each other. Hence, it frequently puzzles the naturaliſt to tell exactly where animal life begins, and vegetative terminates; nor, indeed, is it eaſy to reſolve, whether ſome objects offered to view be of the loweſt of the animal, or the higheſt of the vegetable races. The ſenſitive plant, that moves at the touch, ſeems to have as much perception as the freſh water polypus, that is poſſeſſed of a ſtill flower ſhare of motion. Beſides, the ſenſitive plant will not re-produce upon cutting in pieces, which the polypus is known to do; ſo that the vegetable production ſeems to have the ſuperiority. But, notwithſtanding this, the polypus hunts for its food, as moſt other animals do. It changes its ſituation; and, therefore poſſeſſes a power of chuſing its food, or retreating from danger. Still, therefore, the animal kingdom is far removed above the vegetable; and its loweſt denizen is poſſeſſed of very great privileges, when compared with the plants with which it is often ſurrounded.
[Page 4] However, both claſſes have many reſemblances, by which they are raiſed above the unorganized and inert maſſes of nature. Minerals are mere inactive, inſenſible bodies, entirely motionleſs of themſelves, and waiting ſome external force to alter their forms, or their properties. But, it is otherwiſe with animals and vegetables; theſe are endued with life and vigour; they have their ſtate of improvement and decay; they are capable of reproducing their kinds; they grow from ſeeds, in ſome, and from cuttings in others; they ſeem all poſſeſſed of ſenſation, in a greater or leſs degree; they both have their enmities and affections; and as ſome animals are, by nature, impelled to violence, ſo ſome plants are found to exterminate all others, and make a wilderneſs of the places round them. As the lion makes a deſert of the foreſt where it reſides, thus no other plant will grow under the ſhade of the machinel-tree. Thus, alſo, that plant, in the Weſt-Indies, called caraguata, clings round whatever tree it happens to approach: there it quickly gains the aſcendant; and, loading the ſame with a verdure not its own, keeps away that nouriſhment deſigned to feed the trunk; and, at laſt, entirely deſtroys its ſupporter.
[Page 5] As all animals are ultimately ſupported upon vegetables, ſo vegetables are greatly propagated, by being made a part of animal food. Birds diſtribute the ſeeds wherever they fly, and quadrupeds prune them into greater luxuriance. By theſe means the quantity of food, in a ſtate of nature, is kept equal to the number of the conſumers; and, leſt ſome of the weaker ranks of animals ſhould find nothing for their ſupport, but all the proviſions be devoured by the ſtrong, different vegetables are appropriated to different appetites. If tranſgreſſing this rule, the ſtronger ranks ſhould invade the rights of the weak, and, breaking through all regard to appetite, ſhould make an indiſcriminate uſe of every vegetable, nature then puniſhes the tranſgreſſion, and poiſon marks the crime as capital.
If again we compare vegetables and animals, with reſpect to the places where they are found, we ſhall find them bearing a ſtill ſtronger ſimilitude. The vegetables that grow in a dry and ſunny ſoil, are ſtrong and vigorous, though not luxuriant; ſo, alſo, are the animals of ſuch a climate. Thoſe, on the contrary, that are the joint product of heat and moiſture, are luxuriant and tender: and the animals aſſimilating to the vegetable food, on which they ultimately [Page 6] ſubſiſt, are much larger in ſuch places than in others. Thus, in the internal parts of South-America, and Africa, where the ſun uſually ſcorches all above, while inundations cover all below, the inſects, reptiles, and other animals, grow to a prodigious ſize: the earthworm of America is often a yard in length, and as thick as a walking cane; the boiguacu, which is the largeſt of the ſerpent kind, is ſometimes forty feet in length; the bats, in thoſe countries, are as big as a rabbit; the toads are bigger than a duck, and their ſpiders are as large as a ſparrow. On the contrary, in the cold frozen regions of the north, where vegetable nature is ſtinted of its growth, the few animals in thoſe climates partake of the diminution; all the wild animals, except the bear, are much ſmaller than in milder countries; and ſuch of the domeſtic kinds as are carried thither, quickly degenerate, and grow leſs. Their very inſects are of the minute kinds, their bees and ſpiders being not half ſo large as thoſe in the temperate zone.
The ſimilitude between vegetables and animals is no where more obvious than in thoſe that belong to the ocean, where the nature of one is admirably adapted to the neceſſities of the other. This element it is well known has its vegetables, [Page 7] and its inſects that feed upon them in great abundance. Over many tracts of the ſea, a weed is ſeen floating, which covers the ſurface, and gives the reſemblance of a green and extenſive meadow. On the under ſide of theſe unſtable plants, millions of little animals are found, adapted to their ſituation. For as their ground, if I may ſo expreſs it, lies over their heads, their feet are placed upon their backs; and as land animals have their legs below their bodies, theſe have them above. At land alſo, moſt animals are furniſhed with eyes to ſee their food; but at ſea, almoſt all the reptile kinds are without eyes, which might only give them proſpects of danger, at a time when unprovided with the means of eſcaping it*.
Thus, in all places, we perceive an obvious ſimilitude between the animals and the vegetables of every region. In general, however, the moſt perfect races have the leaſt ſimilitude to the vegetable productions on which they are ultimately fed; while, on the contrary, the meaner the animal, the more local it is found to be, and the more it is influenced by the varieties of the ſoil where it reſides. Many of the more humble reptile kinds are not only confined to one country, but alſo to a plant; nay, even to [Page 8] a leaf. Upon that they ſubſiſt; encreaſe with its vegetation, and ſeem to decay as it declines. They are merely the circumſcribed inhabitants of a ſingle vegetable; take them from that and they inſtantly die; being entirely aſſimilated to the plant they feed on, aſſuming its colour, and even its medicinal properties. For this reaſon there are infinite numbers of the meaner animals that we have never an opportunity of ſeeing in this part of the world; they are incapable of living ſeparate from their kindred vegetables, which grow only in a certain climate.
Such animals as are formed more perfect, lead a life of leſs dependance; and, ſome kinds are found to ſubſiſt in many parts of the world at the ſame time. But, of all the races of animated nature, man is the leaſt affected by the ſoil where he reſides, and leaſt influenced by the variations of vegetable ſuſtenance: equally unaffected by the luxuriance of the warm climates, or the ſterility of the poles, he has ſpread his habitations over the whole earth; and finds ſubſiſtence as well amidſt the ice of the north as the burning deſarts under the line. All creatures of an inferior nature, as has been ſaid, have peculiar propenſities to peculiar climates; they are circumſcribed to zones, and confined to territories [Page 9] where their proper food is found in greateſt abundance; but, man may be called the animal of every climate, and ſuffers but very gradual alterations from the nature of any ſituation.
As to animals of a meaner rank, whom man compels to attend him in his migrations, theſe being obliged to live in a ſtate of conſtraint, and upon vegetable food, often different from that of their native ſoil, they very ſoon alter their natures with the nature of their nouriſhment, aſſimilate to the vegetables upon which they are fed, and thus aſſume very different habits as well as appearances. Thus, man, unaffected himſelf, alters and directs the nature of other animals at his pleaſure; encreaſes their ſtrength for his delight, or their patience for his neceſſities.
And this power of altering the appearances of things ſeems to have been given him for very wiſe purpoſes. The Deity, when he made the earth, was willing to give his favoured creature many opponents, that might at once exerciſe his virtues, and call forth his latent abilities. Hence we find, in thoſe wide uncultivated wilderneſſes, where man, in his ſavage ſtate, owns inferior ſtrength, and the beaſts claim divided dominion, that the whole foreſt ſwarms with noxious animals and vegetables; animals, [Page 10] as yet undeſcribed, and vegetables which want a name. In thoſe receſſes Nature ſeems rather laviſh than magnificent, in beſtowing life. The trees are uſually of the largeſt kinds, covered round with paraſite plants, and interwoven at the tops with each other. The boughs, both above and below, are peopled with various generations; ſome of which have never been upon the ground, and others that have never ſtirred from the branches on which they were produced. In this manner millions of minute, and loathſome creatures, purſue a round of uninterrupted exiſtence, and enjoy a life ſcarce ſuperior to vegetation. At the ſame time, the vegetables, in thoſe places, are of the larger kinds, while the animal race is of the ſmaller: but, man has altered this diſpoſition of nature; having, in a great meaſure, levelled the extenſive foreſts, cultivated the ſofter and finer vegetables, deſtroyed the numberleſs tribes of minute and noxious animals, and taken every method to encreaſe a numerous breed of the larger kinds. He thus has exerciſed a ſevere control; unpeopled nature, to embelliſh it; and diminiſhed the ſize of vegetable, in order to improve that of the animal kingdom.
[Page 11] To ſubdue the earth to his own uſe, was, and ought to be, the aim of man; which was only to be done by encreaſing the number of plants, and diminiſhing that of animals: to multiply exiſtence, alone was that of the Deity. For this reaſon, we find, in a ſtate of nature, that animal life is encreaſed to the greateſt quantity poſſible: and, we can ſcarce form a ſyſtem that could add to its numbers. Firſt, plants, or trees, are provided, by Nature, of the largeſt kinds; and, conſequently, the nouriſhing ſurface is thus extended. In the ſecond place, there are animals peculiar to every part of the vegetable, ſo that no part of it is loſt. But, the greateſt poſſible encreaſe of life would ſtill be deficient, were there not other animals that lived upon animals themſelves; and theſe are, themſelves, in turn, food for ſome other greater and ſtronger ſet of creatures. Were all animals to live upon vegetables alone, thouſands would be extinct that now have exiſtence, as the quantity of their proviſion would ſhortly fail. But, as things are wiſely conſtituted, one animal now ſupports another; and thus, all take up leſs room than they would by living on the ſame food; as, to make uſe of a familiar inſtance, a greater number of people may be crowded into the [Page 12] ſame ſpace, if each is made to bear his fellow upon his ſhoulders.
To diminiſh the number of animals, and encreaſe that of vegetables, has been the general ſcope of human induſtry; and, if we compare the utility of the kinds, with reſpect to man, we ſhall find, that of the vaſt variety in the animal kingdom, but very few are ſerviceable to him; and, in the vegetable, but very few are entirely noxious. How ſmall a part of the inſect tribes, for inſtance, are beneficial to mankind, and what numbers are injurious! In ſome countries they almoſt darken the air: a candle cannot be lighted without their inſtantly flying upon it, and putting out the flame*. The cloſeſt receſſes are no ſafeguard from their annoyance; and the moſt beautiful landſcapes of nature only ſerve to invite their rapacity. As theſe are injurious, from their multitudes; ſo moſt of the larger kinds are equally dreadful to him, from their courage and ferocity. In the moſt uncultivated parts of the foreſt theſe maintain an undiſputed empire; and man invades their retreats with terror. Theſe are terrible; and there are ſtill more that are utterly uſeleſs to him, that ſerve to take up that room which more beneficial creatures [Page 13] might poſſeſs; and incommode him, rather with their numbers than their enmities. Thus, in a catalogue of land animals, that amounts to more than twenty thouſand, we can ſcarcely reckon up an hundred that are any way uſeful to him; the reſt, being either all his open, or his ſecret enemies, immediately attacking him in perſon, or intruding upon that food he has appropriated to himſelf. Vegetables, on the contrary, though exiſting in greater variety, are but few of them noxious. The moſt deadly poiſons are often of great uſe in medicine; and even thoſe plants that only ſeem to cumber the ground, ſerve for food to that race of animals which he has taken into friendſhip, or protection. The ſmaller tribes of vegetables, in particular, are cultivated, as contributing either to his neceſſities, or amuſement; ſo that vegetable life is as much promoted, by human induſtry, as animal life is controlled and diminiſhed.
Hence, it was not without a long ſtruggle, and various combinations, of experience and art, that man acquired his preſent dominion. Almoſt every good that he poſſeſſes was the reſult of the conteſt; for, every day, as he was contending, he was growing more wiſe; and, patience and fortitude were the fruits of his induſtry.
[Page 14] From hence, alſo, we ſee the neceſſity of ſome animals living upon each other, to fill up the plan of Providence; and we may, conſequently, infer the expediency of man's living upon all. Both animals and vegetables ſeem equally fitted to his appetites; and, were any religious, or moral motives, to reſtrain him from taking away life, upon any account, he would only thus give exiſtence to a variety of beings made to prey upon each other; and, inſtead of preventing, he would only thus multiply mutual deſtruction.
BEFORE we ſurvey animals in their ſtate of maturity, and performing the functions adapted to their reſpective natures, method requires that we ſhould conſider them in the more early periods of their exiſtence. There was a time when the proudeſt and the nobleſt animal was a partaker of the ſame imbecility with the meaneſt reptile; and, while yet a candidate for exiſtence, was equally helpleſs and contemptible. In their incipient ſtate all are upon a footing; the inſect and the philoſopher being equally inſenſible, clogged with matter, and unconſcious of exiſtence. Where then are we to begin with the hiſtory of thoſe beings, that make ſuch a diſtinguiſhed figure in the creation? Or, where lie thoſe peculiar characters in the parts that go to make up animated nature; that mark one animal as deſtined to creep in the duſt, and another to glitter on the throne?
This has been a ſubject that has employed the curioſity of all ages, and the philoſophers of every age have attempted the ſolution. In tracing up Nature to her moſt hidden receſſes, [Page 16] ſhe becomes too minute, or obſcure, for our inſpection; ſo that we find it impoſſible to mark her firſt differences, to diſcover the point where animal life begins, or the cauſe that conduces to ſet it in motion. We know little more than that the greateſt number of animals require the concurrence of a male and female to reproduce their kind; and that theſe, diſtinctly and invariably, are found to beget creatures of their own ſpecies. Curioſity has, therefore, been active, in trying to diſcover the immediate reſult of this union, how far either ſex contributes to the beſtowing animal life, and whether it be to the male or female that we are moſt indebted for the privilege of our exiſtence.
Hippocrates has ſuppoſed that fecundity proceeded from the mixture of the ſeminal liquor of both ſexes, each of which equally contribute to the formation of the incipient animal. Ariſtotle, on the other hand, would have the ſeminal liquor in the male alone to contribute to this purpoſe, while the female ſupplied the proper nouriſhment for its ſupport. Such were the opinions of theſe fathers of philoſophy; and theſe continued to be adopted by the naturaliſts, and ſchool-men, of ſucceeding ages, with blind veneration. At length, Steno and [Page 17] Harvey, taking anatomy for their guide, gave mankind a nearer view of nature, juſt advancing into animation. Theſe perceived in all ſuch animals as produced their young alive, two glandular bodies, near the womb, reſembling that ovary, or cluſter of ſmall eggs, which is found in fowls; and, from the analogy between both, they gave theſe alſo the name of ovaria. Theſe, as they reſembled eggs, they naturally concluded had the ſame offices; and, therefore, they were induced to think that all animals, of what kind ſoever, were produced from eggs. At firſt, however, there was ſome altercations raiſed againſt this ſyſtem; for, as theſe ovaria were ſeparate from the womb, it was objected that they could not be any way inſtrumental in repleniſhing that organ, with which they did not communicate. But, upon more minute inſpection, Fallopius, the anatomiſt, perceived two tubular veſſels depending from the womb, which, like the horns of a ſnail, had a power of erecting themſelves, of embracing the ovaria, and of receiving the eggs, in order to be fecundated by the ſeminal liquor. This diſcovery ſeemed, for a long time after, to fix the opinions of philoſophers. The doctrine of Hippocrates was re-eſtabliſhed, and the chief buſineſs of generation was aſcribed [Page 18] to the female. This was, for a long time, the eſtabliſhed opinion of the ſchools; but Lowenhoeck, once more, ſhook the whole ſyſtem, and produced a new ſchiſm among the lovers of ſpeculation. Upon examining the ſeminal liquor of a great variety of male animals, with microſcopes, which helped his ſight more than that of any of his ſucceſſors, he perceived therein infinite numbers of little living creatures, like tadpoles, very briſk, and floating in the fluid, with a ſeeming voluntary motion. Each of theſe, therefore, was thought to be the rudiments of an animal, ſimilar to that from which it was produced; and this only required a reception from the female, together with proper nouriſhment, to complete its growth. The buſineſs of generation was now, therefore, given back to the male a ſecond time, by many; while others ſuſpended their aſſent, and choſe rather to confeſs ignorance than to embrace error*.
In this manner has the diſpute continued for ſeveral ages, ſome accidental diſcovery ſerving, at intervals, to renew the debate, and revive curioſity. It was a ſubject where ſpeculation could find much room to diſplay itſelf; and, Mr. Buffon, who loved to ſpeculate, would not [Page 19] omit ſuch an opportunity of giving ſcope to his propenſity. According to this moſt pleaſing of all naturaliſts, the microſcope diſcovers that the ſeminal liquor, not only of males, but of females alſo, abounds in theſe moving little animals, which have been mentioned above, and that they appear equally briſk in either fluid. Theſe he takes not to be real animals, but organical particles, which, being ſimple, cannot be ſaid to be organized themſelves, but which go to the compoſition of all organized bodies whatſoever. In the ſame manner as a tooth, in the wheel of a watch, cannot be called either the wheel, or the watch, and yet contributes to the ſum of the machine. Theſe organical particles are, according to him, diffuſed throughout all nature, and to be found not only in the ſeminal liquor, but in moſt other fluids in the parts of vegetables, and all parts of animated nature. As they happen, therefore, to be differently applied, they ſerve to conſtitute a part of the animal, or the vegetable, whoſe growth they ſerve to encreaſe, while the ſuperfluity is thrown off in the ſeminal liquor of both ſexes, for the re-production of other animals or vegetables of the ſame ſpecies. Theſe particles aſſume different figures, according to the receptacle into which they enter; falling into the womb [Page 20] they unite into a foetus; beneath the bark of a tree they pullulate into branches; and, in ſhort, the ſame particles that firſt formed the animal in the womb, contribute to encreaſe its growth when brought forth*.
To this ſyſtem it has been objected, that it is impoſſible to conceive organical ſubſtances without being organized; and that, if diveſted of organization themſelves, they could never make an organized body, as an infinity of circles could never make a triangle. It has been objected, that it is more difficult to conceive the transformation of theſe organical particles than even that of the animal, whoſe growth we are enquiring after; and this ſyſtem, therefore, attempts to explain one obſcure thing by another ſtill more obſcure.
But an objection, ſtill ſtronger than theſe, has been advanced, by an ingenious countryman of our own; who aſſerts, that theſe little animals, which thus appear ſwimming, and ſporting, in almoſt every fluid we examine with a microſcope, are not real living particles, but ſome of the more opake parts of the fluid, that are thus encreaſed in ſize, and ſeem to have a much greater motion than they have in reality. For the motion being magnified with the object, [Page 21] the ſmalleſt degree of it will ſeem very conſiderable; and a being almoſt at reſt may, by theſe means, be apparently put into violent action. Thus, for inſtance, if we look upon the ſails of a windmill moving, at a diſtance, they appear to go very ſlow; but, if we approach them, and thus magnify their bulk to our eye, they go round with great rapidity. A microſcope, in the ſame manner, ſerves to bring our eye cloſe to the object, and thus to enlarge it; and not only encreaſe the magnitude of its parts, but of its motion. Hence, therefore, it would follow, that theſe organical particles that are ſaid to conſtitute the bulk of living nature, are but mere optical illuſions; and the ſyſtem founded on them muſt, like them, be illuſive.
Theſe, and many other objections, have been made to this ſyſtem; which, inſtead of enlightening the mind, ſerve only to ſhew, that too cloſe a purſuit of Nature chiefly leads to uncertainty. Happily, however, for mankind, the moſt intricate enquiries are generally the moſt uſeleſs. Inſtead, therefore, of balancing accounts between the ſexes, and attempting to aſcertain to which the buſineſs of generation moſt properly belongs, it will be more inſtructive, as well as amuſing, to begin with [Page 22] animal nature, from its earlieſt retirements, and evaneſcent outlines, and purſue the incipient creature through all its changes in the womb till it arrives into open day.
The uſual diſtinction of animals, with reſpect to their manner of generation, has been into the oviparous and viviparous kinds; or, in other words, into thoſe that bring forth an egg, which is afterwards hatched into life, and thoſe that bring forth their young alive and perfect. In one of theſe two ways all animals were ſuppoſed to have been produced, and all other kinds of generation were ſuppoſed imaginary or erroneous. But later diſcoveries have taught us to be more cautious in making general concluſions, and have even induced many to doubt whether animal life may not be produced merely from putrefaction*.
Indeed, the infinite number of creatures that putrid ſubſtances ſeem to give birth to, and the variety of little inſects ſeen floating in liquors, by the microſcope, appear to favour this opinion. But, however this may be, the former method of claſſing animals can now by no means be admitted, as we find many animals that are produced neither from the womb, nor from the ſhell, but merely from cuttings; ſo [Page 23] that to multiply life in ſome creatures, it is ſufficient only to multiply the diſſection. This being the ſimpleſt method of generation, and that in which life ſeems to require the ſmalleſt preparation for its exiſtence, I will begin with it, and ſo proceed to the two other kinds, from the meaneſt to the moſt elaborate.
The earth-worm, the millipedes, the ſea-worm, and many marine inſects, may be multiplied by being cut in pieces; but the polypus is noted for its amazing fertility; and from hence it will be proper to take the deſcription. The ſtructure of the polypus may be compared to the finger of a glove, open at one end, and cloſed at the other. The cloſed end repreſents the tail of the polypus, with which it ſerves to fix itſelf to any ſubſtance it happens to be upon; the open end may be compared to the mouth; and, if we conceive ſix or eight ſmall ſtrings iſſuing from this end, we ſhall have a proper idea of its arms, which it can erect, lengthen, and contract, at pleaſure, like the horns of a ſnail. This creature is very voracious, and makes uſe of its arms as a fiſherman does of his net, to catch, and entangle ſuch little animals as happen to come within its reach. It lengthens theſe arms ſeveral inches, keeps them ſeparated from each other, and thus occupies [Page 24] a large ſpace in the water, in which it reſides. Theſe arms, when extended, are as fine as threads of ſilk, and have a moſt exquiſite degree of feeling. If a ſmall worm happens to get within the ſphere of their activity, it is quickly entangled by one of theſe arms, and, ſoon after, the other arms come to its aid: theſe altogether ſhortening, the worm is drawn into the animal's mouth, and quickly devoured, colouring the body as it is ſwallowed. Thus much is neceſſary to be obſerved of this animal's method of living, to ſhew that it is not of the vegetable tribe, but a real animal, performing the functions which other animals are found to perform, and endued with powers that many of them are deſtiſtute of. But what is moſt extraordinary remains yet to be told; for, if examined with a microſcope, there are ſeen ſeveral little ſpecks, like buds, that ſeem to pullulate from different parts of its body; and theſe, ſoon after appear to be young polypi themſelves, and like the large polypus, begin to caſt their little arms about for prey, in the ſame manner. Whatever they happen to enſnare is devoured, and gives a colour not only to their own bodies, but to that of the parent; ſo that the ſame food is digeſted, and ſerves for the nouriſhment of both. The food of the little one [Page 25] paſſes into the large polypus, and colours its body; and this, in its turn, digeſts, and ſwallows its food to paſs into theirs. In this manner every polypus has a new colony ſprouting from its body; and theſe new ones, even while attached to the parent animal, become parents themſelves, having a ſmaller colony alſo budding from them. All, at the ſame time, buſily employed in ſeeking for their prey, and the food of any one of them ſerving for the nouriſhment, and circulating through the bodies of all the reſt. This ſociety, however, is every hour diſſolving; thoſe newly produced are ſeen at intervals to leave the body of the large polypus, and become, ſhortly after, the head of a beginning colony themſelves.
In this manner the polypus multiplies naturally; but, one may take a much readier and ſhorter way to encreaſe them, and this only by cutting them in pieces. Though cut into thouſands of parts, each part ſtill retains its vivacious quality, each ſhortly becomes a diſtinct and a complete polypus; whether cut lengthways, or croſsways, it is all the ſame; this extraordinary creature ſeems a gainer by our endeavours, and multiplies by apparent deſtruction. The experiment has been tried, times without number, and ſtill attended with the ſame ſucceſs. Here, [Page 26] therefore, naturaliſts who have been blamed for the cruelty of their experiments upon living animals, may now boaſt of their encreaſing animal life, inſtead of deſtroying it. The production of the polypus is a kind of philoſophical generation. The famous Sir Thomas Brown hoped one day to be able to produce children by the ſame method as trees are produced; the polypus is multiplied in this manner; and every philoſopher may thus, if he pleaſes, boaſt of a very numerous, though, I ſhould ſuppoſe, a very uſeleſs progeny.
This method of generation, from cuttings, may be conſidered as the moſt ſimple kind, and is a ſtrong inſtance of the little pains Nature takes in the formation of her lower, and humbler productions. As the removal of theſe from inanimate into animal exiſtence is but ſmall, there are but few preparations made for their journey. No organs of generation ſeem provided, no womb to receive, no ſhell to protect them in in their ſtate of tranſition. The little reptile is quickly fitted for all the offices of its humble ſphere, and, in a very ſhort time, arrives at the height of its contemptible perfection.
The next generation is of thoſe animals that we ſee produced from the egg. In this manner all birds, moſt fiſhes, and many of the inſect [Page 27] tribes, are brought forth. An egg may be conſidered as a womb, detached from the body of the parent animal, in which the embryo is but juſt beginning to be formed. It may be regarded as a kind of incomplete delivery, in which the animal is diſburthened of its young before its perfect formation. Fiſhes, and inſects, indeed, moſt uſually commit the care of their eggs to hazard; but birds, which are more perfectly formed, are found to hatch them into maturity, by the warmth of their bodies. However, any other heat, of the ſame temperature, would anſwer the end as well; for either the warmth of the ſun, or of a ſtove, is equally efficacious in bringing the animal in the egg to perfection. In this reſpect, therefore, we may conſider generation from the egg as inferior to that in which the animal is brought forth alive. Nature has taken care of the viviparous animal in every ſtage of its exiſtence. That force which ſeparates it from the parent, ſeparates it from life; and the embryo is ſhielded with unceaſing protection till it arrives at excluſion. But it is different with the little animal in the egg; often totally neglected by the parent, and always ſeparable from it, every accident may retard its growth, or even deſtroy its exiſtence. Beſides, art, or accident, alſo, may bring [Page 28] this animal to a ſtate of perfection; ſo that it can never be conſidered as a complete work of Nature, in which ſo much is left for accident to finiſh, or deſtroy.
But, however inferior this kind of generation may be, the obſervation of it will afford great inſight into that of nobler animals, as we can here watch the progreſs of the growing embryo, in every period of its exiſtence, and catch it in thoſe very moments when it firſt ſeems ſtealing into motion. Malpighi and Haller have been particularly induſtrious on this ſubject; and, with a patience almoſt equalling that of the ſitting hen, have attended incubation in all its ſtages. From them, therefore, we have an amazing hiſtory of the chicken in the egg, and of its advances into complete formation.
It would be methodically tedious to deſcribe thoſe parts of the egg, which are well known, and obvious; ſuch as its ſhell, its white, and its yolk; but the diſpoſition of theſe is not ſo apparent. Immediately under the ſhell lies that common membrane, or ſkin, which lines it on the inſide, adhereing cloſely to it every where, except at the broad end, where a little cavity is left, that is filled with air, which encreaſes as the animal within grows larger. Under this membrane are contained two whites, though ſeeming to us to be only one, each wrapped up in a [Page 29] membrane of its own, one white within the other. In the midſt of all is the yolk, wrapt round, likewiſe, in its own membrane. At each end of this are two ligaments, called chalazae, which are, as it were, the poles of this microcoſm, being white denſe ſubſtances, made from the membranes, and ſerving to keep the white and the yolk in their places. It was the opinion of Mr. Derham that they ſerved alſo for another purpoſe: for a line being drawn from one ligament to the other, would not paſs directly through the middle of the yolk, but rather towards one ſide, and would divide the yolk into two unequal parts, by which means theſe ligaments ſerved to keep the ſmalleſt ſide of the yolk always uppermoſt; and in this part he ſuppoſed the cicatricula, or firſt ſpeck of life, to reſide; which, by being upermoſt, and conſequently next the hen, would be thus in the warmeſt ſituation. But this is rather fanciful than true, the incipient animal being found in all ſituations, and not particularly influenced by any*. This cicatricula, which is the part where the animal firſt begins to ſhew ſigns of life, is not unlike a vetch, or a lentil, lying on one ſide of the yolk, and within its membrane. All theſe contribute to the little animal's convenience, or ſupport; the outer membranes, [Page 30] and ligaments, preſerve the fluids in their proper places; the white ſerves as nouriſhment; and the yolk, with its membranes, after a time, becomes a part of the animal's body*. This is the deſcription of an hen's egg, and anſwers to that of all others, how large or how ſmall ſoever.
Previous to putting the eggs to the hen, our philoſophers firſt examined the cicatricula, or little ſpot, already mentioned; and which may be conſidered as the moſt important part of the egg. This was found, in thoſe that were impregnated by the cock, to be large; but, in thoſe laid without the cock, very ſmall. It was found, by the microſcope, to be a kind of bag, containing a tranſparent liquor, in the midſt of which the embryo was ſeen to reſide. The embryo reſembled a compoſition of little threads, which the warmth of future incubation tended to enlarge, by varying, and liquifying the other fluids contained within the ſhell, and thus preſſing them either into the pores or tubes of their ſubſtance.
Upon placing the eggs in a proper warmth†, either under the ſun, or in a ſtove, after ſix hours the vital ſpeck begins to dilate, like the pupil of the eye. The head of the chicken is [Page 31] diſtinctly ſeen, with the back-bone, ſomething reſembling a tadpole, floating in its ambient fluid, but as yet ſeeming to aſſume none of the functions of animal life. In about ſix hours more the little animal is ſeen more diſtinctly; the head becomes more plainly viſible, and the vertebrae of the back more eaſily perceivable. All theſe ſigns of preparation for life are encreaſed in ſix hours more; and, at the end of twenty-four hours, the ribs begin to take their places, the neck begins to lengthen, and the head to turn to one ſide.
At this time*, alſo, the fluids in the egg ſeem to have changed place; the yolk, which was before in the center of the ſhell, approaches nearer to the broad end. The watery part of the white is, in ſome meaſure, evaporated through the ſhell, and the groſſer part ſinks to the ſmall end. The little animal appears to turn towards the part of the broad end, in which a cavity has been deſcribed, and with its yolk ſeems to adhere to the membrane there. At the end of forty hours the great work of life ſeems fairly begun, and the animal plainly appears to move; the back-bone, which is of a whitiſh colour, thickens; the head is turned ſtill more on one ſide; the firſt rudiments of the [Page 32] eyes begin to appear; the heart beats, and the blood begins already to circulate. The parts, however, as yet are fluid; but, by degrees, become more and more tenacious, and harden into a kind of jelly. At the end of two days, the liquor, in which the chicken ſwims, ſeems to encreaſe; the head appears with two little bladders in the place of eyes, the heart beats in the manner of every embryo where the blood does not circulate through the lungs. In about fourteen hours after this, the chicken is grown more ſtrong; its head, however, is ſtill bent downwards; the veins and the arteries begin to branch, in order to form the brain; and the ſpinal marrow is ſeen ſtretching along the back bone. In three days, the whole body of the chicken appears bent; the head, with its two eye-balls, with their different humours, now diſtinctly appear; and five other veſicles are ſeen, which ſoon unite to form the rudiments of the brain. The out-lines alſo of the thighs, and wings, begin to be ſeen, and the body begins to gather fleſh. At the end of the fourth day, the veſicles that go to form the brain, approach each other; the wings and thighs appear more ſolid; the whole body is covered with a jelly like fleſh; the heart, that was hitherto expoſed, is now covered up within the body, by a very thin [Page 33] tranſparent membrane; and, at the ſame time, the umbilical veſſels, that unite the animal to the yolk, now appear to come forth from the abdomen. After the fifth and ſixth days, the veſſels of the brain begin to be covered over; the wings and thighs lengthen; the belly is cloſed up, and tumid; the liver is ſeen within it, very diſtinctly, not yet grown red, but of a very duſky white; both the ventricles of the heart are diſcerned, as if they were two ſeparate hearts, beating diſtinctly; the whole body of the animal is covered over; and the traces of the incipient feathers are already to be ſeen. The ſeventh day, the head appears very large; the brain is covered entirely over; the bill begins to appear betwixt the eyes; and the wings, the thighs, and the legs, have acquired their perfect figure*. Hitherto, however, the animal appears as if it had two bodies; the yolk is joined to it by the umbilical veſſels that come from the belly; and is furniſhed with its veſſels, through which the blood circulates, as through the reſt of the body of the chicken, making a bulk greater than that of the animal itſelf. But towards the end of incubation, the umbilical veſſels ſhorten the yolk, and with it the inteſtines are thruſt up into the body of the chicken, [Page 34] by the action of the muſcles of the belly; and the two bodies are thus formed into one. During this ſtate, all the organs are found to perform their ſecretions; the bile is found to be ſeparated, as in grown animals; but it is fluid, tranſparent, and without bitterneſs: and the chicken then alſo appears to have lungs. On the tenth, the muſcles of the wings appear, and the feathers begin to puſh out. On the eleventh, the heart, which hitherto had appeared divided, begins to unite; the arteries which belong to it, join into it, like the fingers into the palm of the hand. All theſe appearances only come more into view, becauſe the fluids the veſſels had hitherto ſecreted, were more tranſparent; but as the colour of the fluids deepen, their operations and circulations are more diſtinctly ſeen. As the animal thus, by the eleventh day completely formed, begins to gather ſtrength, it becomes more uneaſy in its ſituation, and exerts its animal powers with encreaſing force. For ſome time before it is able to break the ſhell in which it is impriſoned, it is heard to chirrup, receiving a ſufficient quantity of air for this purpoſe, from that cavity which lies between the membrane and the ſhell, and which muſt contain air to reſiſt the external preſſure. At length, upon the twentieth day, in ſome birds ſooner, and later [Page 35] in others, the encloſed animal breaks the ſhell within which it has been confined, with its beak; and, by repeated efforts, at laſt procures its enlargement.
From this little hiſtory we perceive, that thoſe parts which are moſt conducive to life, are the firſt that are begun: the head, and the back-bone, which no doubt encloſe the brain, and the ſpinal marrow, though both are too limpid to be diſcerned, are the firſt that are ſeen to exiſt; the beating of the heart is perceived ſoon after: the leſs noble parts ſeem to ſpring from theſe; the wings, the thighs, the feet, and, laſtly, the bill. Whatever, therefore, the animal has double, or whatever it can live without the uſe of, theſe are lateſt in production: Nature firſt ſedulouſly applying to the formation of the nobler organs, without which life would be of ſhort continuance, and would be begun in vain.
The reſemblance between the beginning animal in the egg, and the embryo in the womb, is very ſtriking; and this ſimilitude it is that has induced many to aſſert, that all animals are produced from eggs, in the ſame manner. They conſider an egg excluded from the body by ſome, and ſeparated into the womb by others, to be actions merely of one kind; with this only [Page 36] difference, that the nouriſhment of the one is kept within the body of the parent, and encreaſes as the embryo happens to want the ſupply; the nouriſhment of the other is prepared all at once, and ſent out with the beginning animal, as entirely ſufficient for its future ſupport. But leaving this to the diſcuſſion of anatomiſts, let us proceed rather with facts than diſſertations; and as we have ſeen the progreſs of an oviparous animal, or one produced from the ſhell, let us likewiſe trace that of a viviparous animal, which is brought forth alive. In this inveſtigation, Graaf has, with a degree of patience, characteriſtic of his nation, attended the progreſs and encreaſe of various animals in the womb, and minutely marked the changes they undergo. Having diſſected a rabbit, half an hour after impregnation, he perceived the horns of the womb, that go to embrace and communicate with the ovary, to be more red than before; but no other change in the reſt of the parts. Having diſſected another, ſix hours after, he perceived the follicules, or the membrane covering the eggs contained in the ovary, to become reddiſh. In a rabbit diſſected after twenty-four hours, he perceived, in one of the ovaries, three follicules, and, in the other, five, that were changed; being become, from tranſparent, dark and reddiſh. In one [Page 37] diſſected after three days, he perceived the horns of the womb very ſtrictly to embrace the ovaries; and he obſerved three of the follicules in one of them, much longer and harder than before: purſuing his inquiſition, he alſo found two of the eggs actually ſeparated into the horns of the womb, and each about the ſize of a grain of muſtard-ſeed; theſe little eggs were each of them encloſed in a double membrane, the inner parts being filled with a very limpid liquor. After four days, he found, in one of the ovaries, four, and in the other, five follicules, emptied of their eggs; and in the horns correſpondent to theſe, he found an equal number of eggs thus ſeparated: theſe eggs were now grown larger than before, and ſomewhat of the ſize of ſparrow-ſhot. In five days, the eggs were grown to the ſize of duck-ſhot, and could be blown from the part of the womb where they were, by the breath. In ſeven days, theſe eggs were found of the ſize of a piſtol-bullet, each covered with its double membrane, and theſe much more diſtinct than before. In nine days, having examined the liquor contained in one of theſe eggs, he found it, from a limpid colour, leſs fluid, to have got a light cloud floating upon it. In ten days, this cloud began to thicken, and to form an oblong body, of the figure of a [Page 38] little worm: and, in twelve days, the figure of the embryo was diſtinctly to be perceived, and even its parts came into view. In the region of the breaſt he perceived two bloody ſpecks; and two more, that appeared whitiſh. Fourteen days after impregnation, the head of the embryo was become large and tranſparent, the eyes prominent, the mouth open, and the rudiments of the ears beginning to appear; the back-bone, of a whitiſh colour, was bent towards the breaſt; the two bloody ſpecks being now conſiderably encreaſed, appeared to be nothing leſs than the outlines of the two ventricles of the heart; and the two whitiſh ſpecks on each ſide, now appeared to be the rudiments of the lungs; towards the region of the belly, the liver began to be ſeen, of a reddiſh colour; and a little intricate maſs, like ravelled thread, diſcerned, which ſoon appeared to be the ſtomach and the inteſtines: the legs ſoon after began to be ſeen, and to aſſume their natural poſitions: and from that time forth, all the parts being formed, every day only ſerved to develope them ſtill more, until the thirty-firſt day, when the rabbit brought forth her young, completely fitted for the purpoſes of their humble happineſs.
Having thus ſeen the ſtages of generation in the meaner animals, let us take a view of its [Page 39] progreſs in man; and trace the feeble beginnings of our own exiſtence. An account of the lowlineſs of our own origin, if it cannot amuſe, will at leaſt ſerve to humble us; and it may take from our pride, though it fails to gratify our curioſity. We cannot here trace the variations of the beginning animal, as in the former inſtances; for the opportunities of inſpection are but few and accidental: for this reaſon, we muſt be content often to fill up the blanks of our hiſtory with conjecture. And firſt, we are entirely ignorant of the ſtate of the infant in the womb, immediately after conception; but we have good reaſon to believe, that it proceeds, as in moſt other animals, from the egg*. Anatomiſts inform us, that four days after conception, there is found in the womb an oval ſubſtance, about the ſize of a ſmall pea, but longer one way than the other; this little body is formed by an extremely fine membrane, encloſing a liquor a good deal reſembling the white of an egg: in this may, even then, be perceived, ſeveral ſmall fibres, united together, which form the firſt rudiments of the embryo. Beſide theſe, are ſeen another ſet of fibres, which ſoon after become the placenta, or that [Page 40] body by which the animal is ſupplied with nouriſhment.
Seven days after conception, we can readily diſtinguiſh, by the eye, the firſt lineaments of the child in the womb. However, they are as yet without form; ſhewing, at the end of ſeven days, pretty much ſuch an appearance as that of the chicken, after four and twenty hours being a ſmall jelly-like maſs, yet exhibiting the rudiments of the head; the trunk is barely viſible; there likewiſe is to be diſcerned a ſmall aſſemblage of fibres iſſuing from the body of the infant, which afterwards become the blood-veſſels that convey nouriſhment from the placenta to the child, while encloſed in the womb.
Fifteen days after conception, the head becomes diſtinctly viſible, and even the moſt prominent features of the viſage begin to appear. The noſe is a little elevated; there are two black ſpecks in the place of eyes; and two little holes, where the ears are afterwards ſeen. The body of the embryo alſo is grown larger; and both above and below, are ſeen two little protuberances, which mark the places from whence the arms and thighs are to proceed. The length of the whole body, at this time, is leſs than half an inch.
At the end of three weeks, the body has received [Page 41] very little encreaſe; but the legs and feet, with the hands and arms, are become apparent. The growth of the arms is more ſpeedy than that of the legs; and the fingers are ſooner ſeparated than the toes. About this time, the internal parts are found, upon diſſection, to become diſtinguiſhable. The places of the bones are marked by ſmall thread-like ſubſtances, that are yet more fluid even than a jelly. Among them, the ribs are diſtinguiſhable, like threads alſo, diſpoſed on each ſide of the ſpine; and even the fingers and toes ſcarce exceed hairs in thickneſs.
In a month, the embryo is an inch long; the body is bent forward, a ſituation which it almoſt always aſſumes in the womb, either becauſe a poſture of this kind is the moſt eaſy, or becauſe it takes up the leaſt room. The human figure is now no longer doubtful: every part of the face is diſtinguiſhable; the body is ſketched out; the bowels are to be diſtinguiſhed as threads; the bones are ſtill quite ſoft, but in ſome places beginning to aſſume a greater rigidity; the blood veſſels that go to the placenta, which, as was ſaid, contributes to the child's nouriſhment, are plainly ſeen iſſuing from the navel (being therefore called the umbilical veſſels) and going to ſpread themſelves upon [Page 42] the placenta. According to Hippocrates, the male embryo developes ſooner than the female: he adds, that, at the end of thirty days, the parts of the body of the male are diſtinguiſhable; while thoſe of the female are not equally ſo till ten days after.
In ſix weeks, the embryo is grown two inches long; the human figure begins to grow every day more perfect; the head being ſtill much larger, in proportion to the reſt of the body; and the motion of the heart is perceived almoſt by the eye. It has been ſeen to beat in an embryo of fifty days old, a long time after it had been taken out of the womb.
In two months, the embryo is more than two inches in length. The oſſification is perceivable in the arms and thighs, and in the point of the chin, the under jaw being greatly advanced before the upper. Theſe parts, however, may as yet be conſidered as bony points, rather than as bones. The umbilical veſſels, which before went ſide by ſide, are now begun to be twiſted, like a rope, one over the other, and go to join with the placenta, which as yet is but ſmall.
In three months, the embryo is above three inches long, and weighs about three ounces. Hippocrates obſerves, that not till then the mother perceives the child's motion; and he [Page 43] adds, that in female children, the motion is not obſervable till the end of four months. However, this is no general rule, as there are women who aſſert, that they perceived themſelves to be quick with child, as their expreſſion is, at the end of two months; ſo that this quickneſs ſeems rather to ariſe from the proportion between the child's ſtrength, and the mother's ſenſibility, than from any determinate period of time. At all times, however, the child is equally alive; and, conſequently, thoſe juries of matrons that are to determine upon the pregnancy of criminals, ſhould not enquire whether the woman be quick, but whether ſhe be with child; if the latter be perceivable, the former follows of courſe.
Four months and an half after conception, the embryo is from ſix to ſeven inches long. All the parts are ſo augmented, that even their proportions are now diſtinguiſhable. The very nails begin to appear upon the fingers and toes; and the ſtomach and inteſtines already begin to perform their functions of receiving and digeſting. In the ſtomach is found a liquor ſimilar to that in which the embryo floats; in one part of the inteſtines, a milky ſubſtance; and, in the other, an excrementitious. There is found alſo, a ſmall quantity of bile in the gall-bladder; and [Page 44] ſome urine in its own proper receptacle. By this time alſo, the poſture of the embryo ſeems to be determined. The head is bent forward, ſo that the chin ſeems to reſt upon its breaſt; the knees are raiſed up towards the head, and the legs bent backward, ſomewhat reſembling the poſture of thoſe who ſit on their haunches. Sometimes the knees are raiſed ſo high as to touch the cheeks, and the feet are croſt over each other; the arms are laid upon the breaſt, while one of the hands, and often both, touch the viſage; ſometimes the hands are ſhut, and ſometimes alſo, the arms are found hanging down by the body. Theſe are the moſt uſual poſtures which the embryo aſſumes; but theſe it is frequently known to change; and it is owing to theſe alterations that the mother ſo frequently feels thoſe twitches, which are uſually attended with pain.
The embryo, thus ſituated, is furniſhed by Nature with all things proper for its ſupport; and, as it encreaſes in ſize, its nouriſhment alſo is found to encreaſe with it. As ſoon as it firſt begins to grow in the womb, that receptacle, from being very ſmall, grows larger; and, what is more ſurprizing, thicker every day. The ſides of a bladder, as we know, the more they are diſtended the more they become thin. But here, the larger the womb grows the more [Page 45] it appears to thicken. Within this the embryo is ſtill farther involved, in two membranes, called the chorion, and amnios; and floats in a thin tranſparent fluid, upon which it ſeems, in ſome meaſure, to ſubſiſt. However, the great ſtorehouſe, from whence its chief nouriſhment is ſupplied, is called the placenta; a red ſubſtance ſomewhat reſembling a ſponge, that adheres to the inſide of the womb, and communicates, by the umbilical veſſels, with the embryo. Theſe umbilical veſſels, which conſiſt of a vein and two arteries, iſſue from the navel of the child, and are branched out upon the placenta; where they, in fact, ſeem to form its ſubſtance; and, if I may ſo expreſs it, to ſuck up their nouriſhment from the womb, and the fluids contained therein. The blood thus received from the womb, by the placenta, and communicated by the umbilical vein to the body of the embryo, is conveyed to the heart; where, without ever paſſing into the lungs, as in the born infant, it takes a ſhorter courſe; for, entering the right auricle of the heart, inſtead of paſſing up into the pulmonary artery, it ſeems to break this partition, and goes directly through the body of the heart, by an opening called the foramen ovale, and from thence to the aorta, or great artery; by which [Page 46] it is driven into all parts of the body. Thus we ſee the placenta, in ſome meaſure, ſupplying the place of lungs; for as the little animal can receive no air by inſpiration, the lungs are therefore uſeleſs. But we ſee the placenta converting the fluid of the womb into blood, and ſending it, by the umbilical vein, to the heart; from whence it is diſpatched by a quicker and ſhorter circulation through the whole frame.
In this manner the embryo repoſes in the womb; ſupplied with that nouriſhment which is fitted to its neceſſities, and furniſhed with thoſe organs that are adapted to its ſituation. As its ſenſations are but few, its wants are in the ſame proportion; and it is probable that a ſleep, with ſcarce any intervals, marks the earlieſt period of animal life. As the little creature, however, gathers ſtrength and ſize, it ſeems to become more wakeful and uneaſy; even in the womb it begins to feel the want of ſomething that it does not poſſeſs; a ſenſation that ſeems coeval with man's nature, and never leaves him till he dies. The embryo even then begins to ſtruggle for a ſtate more marked by pleaſure and pain, and, from about the ſixth month, begins to give the mother warning of the greater pain ſhe is yet to endure. The continuation of pregnancy, in woman, is uſually [Page 47] nine months; but there have been many inſtances when the child has lived that was born at ſeven; and ſome alſo, are found to continue pregnant a month above the uſual time. When the appointed time approaches, the infant, that has for ſome months been giving painful proofs of its exiſtence, now begins to encreaſe its efforts for liberty. The head is applied downward, to the apperture of the womb, and by reiterated efforts it endeavours to extend the ſame: theſe endeavours produce the pain which all women, in labour, feel in ſome degree; thoſe of ſtrong conſtitutions the leaſt, thoſe moſt weakly the moſt ſeverely; ſince we learn, that the women of Africa always deliver themſelves, and are well a few hours after; while thoſe of Europe require aſſiſtance, and recover more ſlowly. Thus the infant, ſtill continuing to puſh with its head forward, by the repetition of its endeavours, at laſt ſucceeds, and iſſues into life. The blood, which had hitherto paſſed through the heart, now takes a wider circuit; and the foramen ovale cloſes; the lungs, that had till this time been inactive, now firſt begin their functions; the air ruſhes in to diſtend them; and this produces the firſt ſenſation of pain, which the infant expreſſes by a ſhriek; [Page 48] ſo that the beginning of our lives, as well as the end, is marked with anguiſh*.
From comparing theſe accounts, we perceive that the moſt laboured generation is the moſt perfect; and that the animal which, in proportion to its bulk, takes the longeſt time for production, is always the moſt complete when finiſhed. Of all others, man ſeems the ſloweſt in coming into life, as he is the ſloweſt in coming to perfection; other animals, of the ſame bulk, ſeldom remain in the womb above ſix months, while he continues nine; and even after his birth appears more than any other to have his ſtate of imbecility prolonged.
We may obſerve alſo, that that generation is the moſt complete in which the feweſt animals are produced: Nature, by attending to the production of one at a time, ſeems to exert all her efforts in bringing it to perfection; but, where this attention is divided, the animals ſo produced come into the world with partial advantages. In this manner twins are never, at leaſt while infants, ſo large, or ſo ſtrong, as thoſe that come ſingly into the world; each having, in ſome meaſure, robbed the other of its right; as that ſupport, which Nature meant for one, has been prodigally divided.
[Page 49] In this manner, as thoſe animals are the beſt that are produced ſingly, ſo we find that the nobleſt animals are ever the leaſt fruitful. Theſe are ſeen uſually to bring forth but one at a time, and to place all their attention upon that alone. On the other hand, all the oviparous kinds produce in amazing plenty; and even the lower tribes of viviparous animals encreaſe in a ſeeming proportion to their minuteneſs and imperfection. Nature ſeems laviſh of life in the lower orders of the creation; and, as if ſhe meant them entirely for the uſe of the nobler races, ſhe appears to have beſtowed greater pains in multiplying the number than in completing the kind. In this manner, while the elephant, and the horſe, bring forth but one at a time, the ſpider and the beetle are ſeen to produce a thouſand: and even among the ſmaller quadrupedes themſelves, all the inferior kinds are extremely fertile; any one of theſe being found, in a very few months, to become the parent of a numerous progeny.
In this manner, therefore, the ſmalleſt animals multiply in the greateſt proportion; and we have reaſon to thank Providence that the moſt formidable animals are the leaſt fruitful. Had the lion and the tyger the ſame degree of [Page 50] fecundity with the rabbit, or the rat, all the arts of man would be unable to oppoſe theſe fierce invaders; and we ſhould ſoon perceive them become the tyrants of thoſe who claim the lordſhip of the creation. But Heaven, in this reſpect, has wiſely conſulted the advantage of all. It has oppoſed to man only ſuch enemies as he has art and ſtrength to conquer; and as large animals require proportional ſupplies, Nature was unwilling to give new life, where it, in ſome meaſure, denied the neceſſary means of ſubſiſtence.
In conſequence of this pre-eſtabliſhed order, the animals that are endowed with the moſt perfect methods of generation, and bring forth but one at a time, ſeldom begin to procreate till they have almoſt acquired their full growth. On the other hand, thoſe which bring forth many, engender before they have arrived at half their natural ſize. The horſe, and the bull, come almoſt to perfection before they begin to generate; the hog, and the rabbit, ſcarce leave the tate before they become parents themſelves. In whatever light, therefore, we conſider this ſubject, we ſhall find that all creatures approach moſt to perfection, whoſe generation moſt nearly reſembles that of man. [Page 51] The reptile produced from cutting is but one degree above the vegetable. The animal produced from the egg is ſtill a ſtep higher in the ſcale of exiſtence: that claſs of animals which are brought forth alive, are ſtill more exalted. Of theſe, ſuch as bring forth one at a time are the moſt complete; and foremoſt of theſe ſtands man, the great maſter of all, who ſeems to have united the perfections of all the reſt in his formation.
WHEN we take a ſurvey of the various claſſes of animals, and examine their ſtrength, their beauty, or their ſtructure, we ſhall find man to poſſeſs moſt of thoſe advantages united, which the reſt enjoy partially. Infinitely ſuperior to all others in the powers of the underſtanding, he is alſo ſuperior to them in the fitneſs and proportions of his form. He would, indeed, have been one of the moſt miſerable beings upon earth, if with a ſentient mind he was ſo formed as to be incapable of obeying its impulſe; but Nature has otherwiſe provided; as with the moſt extenſive intellects to command, ſhe has furniſhed him with a body the beſt fitted for obedience.
In infancy*, however, that mind, and this body, form the moſt helpleſs union in all animated nature; and, if any thing can give us a picture of complete imbecillity, it is a man when juſt come into the world. The infant juſt born ſtands in need of all things, without the power of procuring any. The lower races [Page 53] of animals, upon being produced, are active, vigorous, and capable of ſelf-ſupport; but the infant is obliged to wait in helpleſs expectation; and its cries are its only aid to procure ſubſiſtence.
An infant juſt born may be ſaid to come from one element into another; for from the watery fluid in which it was ſurrounded, it now immerges into air; and its firſt cries ſeem to imply how greatly it regrets the change. How much longer it could have continued in a ſtate of almoſt total inſenſibility, in the womb, is impoſſible to tell; but it is very probable that it could remain there ſome hours more. In order to throw ſome light upon this ſubject, Mr. Buffon ſo placed a pregnant bitch as that her puppies were brought forth in warm water, in which he kept them above half an hour at a time. However, he ſaw no change in the animals, thus newly brought forth; they continued the whole time vigorous; and, during the whole time, it is very probable that the blood circulated through the ſame channels through which it paſſed while they continued in the womb.
Almoſt all animals have their eyes cloſed*, for ſome days after being brought into the [Page 54] world. The infant opens them the inſtant of its birth. However, it ſeems to keep them fixed and idle; they want that luſtre which they acquire by degrees; and if they happen to move, is is rather an accidental gaze than an exertion of the act of ſeeing. The light alone ſeems to make the greateſt impreſſion upon them. The eyes of infants are ſometimes found turned to the place where it is ſtrongeſt; and the pupil is ſeen to dilate and diminiſh, as in grown perſons, in proportion to the quantity it receives. But ſtill, the infant is incapable of diſtinguiſhing objects; the ſenſe of ſeeing, like the reſt of the ſenſes, requires an habit before it becomes any way ſerviceable. All the ſenſes muſt be compared with each other, and muſt be made to correct the defects of one another, before they can give juſt information. It is probable, therefore, that if the infant could expreſs its own ſenſations, it would give a very extraordinary deſcription of the illuſions which it ſuffers from them. The ſight might, perhaps, be repreſented as inverting objects, or multiplying them; the hearing, inſtead of conveying one uniform tone, might be ſaid to bring up an interrupted ſucceſſion of noiſes; and the touch apparently would divide one body into as many as there are fingers that graſped it. But [Page 55] all theſe errors are loſt in one common confuſed idea of exiſtence; and it is happy for the infant, that it then can make but very little uſe of its ſenſes, when they could ſerve only to bring it falſe information.
If there be any diſtinct ſenſations, thoſe of pain ſeem to be much more frequent and ſtronger than thoſe of pleaſure. The infant's cries are ſufficient indications of the uneaſineſſes it muſt at every interval endure; while, in the beginning, it has got no external marks to teſtify its ſatisfactions. It is not till after forty days that it is ſeen to ſmile; and not till that time alſo, the tears begin to appear, its former expreſſions of uneaſineſs being always without them. As to any other marks of the paſſions, the infant being as yet almoſt without them, it can expreſs none of them in its viſage; which, except in the act of crying and laughing, is fixed in a ſettled ſerenity. All the other parts of the body ſeem equally relaxed and feeble: its motions are uncertain, and its poſtures without choice; it is unable to ſtand upright; its hams are yet bent, from the habit which it received from its poſition in the womb; it has not ſtrength enough in its arms to ſtretch them forward, much leſs to graſp any thing with its hands; it reſts juſt in the poſture it is laid; [Page 56] and, if abandoned, muſt ſtill continue in the ſame poſition.
Nevertheleſs, though this be the deſcription of infancy among mankind in general, there are countries, and races, among whom infancy does not ſeem marked with ſuch utter imbecillity, but where the children, not long after they are born, appear poſſeſſed of a greater ſhare of ſelf-ſupport. The children of Negroes have a ſurprizing degree of this premature induſtry: they are able to walk at two months; or, at leaſt, to move from one place to another: they alſo hang to the mother's back without any aſſiſtance, and ſeize the breaſt over her ſhoulder, continuing in this poſture till ſhe thinks proper to lay them down. This is very different in the children of our countries, that ſeldom are able to walk under a twelvemonth.
The ſkin of children newly brought forth, is always red, proceeding from its tranſparency, by which the blood beneath appears more conſpicuous. Some ſay that this redneſs is greateſt in thoſe children that are afterwards about to have the fineſt complexions; and it ſtands to reaſon that it ſhould be ſo, ſince the thinneſt ſkins are always the faireſt. The ſize of a newborn infant is generally about twenty inches, and its weight about twelve pounds. The head [Page 57] is large, and all the members delicate, ſoft, and puffy. Theſe appearances alter with its age; as it grows older, the head becomes leſs in proportion to the reſt of the body; the fleſh hardens; the bones, that before birth grew very thick in proportion, now lengthen by degrees, and the human figure more and more acquires its due dimenſions. In ſuch children, however, as are but feeble or ſickly, the head always continues too big for the body; the heads of dwarfs being extremely large in proportion.
Infants, when newly born, paſs moſt of their time in ſleeping, and awake with crying, excited either by ſenſations of pain, or of hunger. Man, when come to maturity, but rarely feels the want of food, as eating twice or thrice in the four and twenty hours is known to ſuffice the moſt voracious: but the infant may be conſidered as a little glutton, whoſe only pleaſure conſiſts in its appetite; and this, except when it ſleeps, it is never eaſy without ſatisfying. Thus Nature has adapted different deſires to the different periods of life; each as it ſeems moſt neceſſary for human ſupport or ſucceſſion. While the animal is yet forming, hunger excites it to that ſupply which is neceſſary for its growth; when it is completely formed, a different appetite takes place, that incites it to communicate [Page 58] exiſtence. Theſe two deſires take up the whole attention at different periods, but are very ſeldom found to prevail ſtrongly together in the ſame age; one pleaſure ever ſerving to repreſs the other: and, if we find a perſon of full age, placing a principal part of his happineſs in the nature and quantity of his food, we have ſtrong reaſons to ſuſpect, that with reſpect to his other appetites, he ſtill retains a part of the imbecillity of his childhood.
It is extraordinary enough, however, that infants, who are thus more voracious than grown perſons, are nevertheleſs more capable of ſuſtaining hunger. We have ſeveral inſtances, in accidental caſes of famine, in which the child has been known to ſurvive the parent; and they have been ſeen clinging to the breaſt of their dead mother. Their little bodies alſo, are more patient of cold; and we have ſimilar inſtances of the mother's periſhing in the ſnow, while the infant has been found alive beſide her. However, if we examine the internal ſtructure of infants, we ſhall find an obvious reaſon for both theſe advantages. Their blood-veſſels are known to be much larger than in adults; and their nerves much thicker and ſofter: thus, being furniſhed with a more copious quantity of juices, both of the nervous and ſanguinary [Page 59] kinds, the infant finds a temporary ſuſtenance in this ſuperfluity, and does not expire till both are exhauſted. The circulation alſo being larger and quicker, ſupplies it with proportionable warmth, ſo that it is more capable of reſiſting the accidental rigours of the weather.
The firſt nouriſhment of infants is well known to be the mother's milk; and, what is remarkable, the infant itſelf has milk in its own breaſts, which may be ſqueezed out by compreſſion: this nouriſhment becomes leſs grateful as the child gathers ſtrength; and perhaps, alſo, more unwholeſome. However, in cold countries, which are unfavourable to propagation, and where the female has ſeldom above three or four children at the moſt, during her life, ſhe continues to ſuckle the child for four or five years together. In this manner the mothers of Canada and Greenland are often ſeen ſuckling two or three children, of different ages, at a time.
The life of infants is very precarious, till the age of three or four, from which time it becomes more ſecure; and when a child arrives at its ſeventh year, it is then conſidered as a more certain life, as Mr. Buffon aſſerts, than at any other age whatever. It appears, from Simpſon's Tables, that of a certain number of children [Page 60] born at the ſame time, a fourth part are found dead, at the end of the firſt year; more than two thirds at the end of the ſecond; and, at leaſt, half, at the end of the third: ſo that thoſe who live to be above three years old, are indulged a longer term than half the reſt of their fellow-creatures. Nevertheleſs, life, at that period, may be conſidered as mere animal exiſtence; and rather a preparation for, than an enjoyment of thoſe ſatisfactions, both of mind and body, that make life of real value: and hence it is more natural for mankind to deplore a fellow-creature, cut off in the bloom of life, than one dying in early infancy. The one, by living up to youth, and thus wading through the diſadvantageous parts of exiſtence, ſeems to have earned a ſhort continuance of its enjoyments; the infant, on the contrary, has ſerved but a ſhort apprenticeſhip to pain; and, when taken away, may be conſidered as reſcued from a long continuance of miſery.
There is ſomething very remarkable in the growth of the human body*. The embryo in the womb continues to encreaſe ſtill more and more, till it is born. On the other hand, the child's growth is leſs every year, till the time of puberty, when it ſeems to ſtart up of a ſudden. [Page 61] Thus, for inſtance, the embryo, which is an inch long, in the firſt month, grows but one inch and a quarter in the ſecond; it then grows one and an half in the third; two and an half in the fourth; and in this manner it keeps encreaſing, till in the laſt month of its continuance it is actually found to grow four inches; and, in the whole, about eighteen inches long. But it is otherwiſe with the child when born: if we ſuppoſe it eighteen inches at that time, it grows, in the firſt year, ſix or ſeven inches; in the ſecond year, it grows but four inches; in the third year, about three; and ſo on, at the rate of about an inch and an half, or two inches, each year, till the time of puberty, when Nature ſeems to make one great laſt effort, to complete her work, and unfold the whole animal machine.
The growth of the mind in children ſeems to correſpond with that of the body. The comparative progreſs of the underſtanding is greater in infants than in children of three or four years old. If we only reflect a moment on the amazing acquiſitions that an infant makes in the firſt and ſecond years of life, we ſhall have much cauſe for wonder. Being ſent into a world where every thing is new and unknown, the firſt months of life are ſpent in a kind of [Page 62] torpid amazement; an attention diſtracted by the multiplicity of objects that preſs to be known. The firſt labour, therefore, of the little learner is, to correct the illuſions of the ſenſes, to diſtinguiſh one object from another, and to exert the memory, ſo as to know them again. In this manner a child of a year old has already made a thouſand experiments; all which it has properly ranged, and diſtinctly remembers. Light, heat, fire, ſweets, and bitters, ſounds ſoft or terrible, are all diſtinguiſhed at the end of a very few months. Beſides this, every perſon the child knows, every individual object it becomes fond of, its rattles, or its bells, may be all conſidered as ſo many new leſſons to the young mind, with which it has not become acquainted, without repeated exertions of the underſtanding. At this period of life, the knowledge of every individual object cannot be acquired without the ſame effort which, when grown up, is employed upon the moſt abſtract idea: every thing the child hears or ſees, all the marks and characters of nature, are as much unknown, and require the ſame attention to attain, as if the reader were ſet to underſtand the characters of an Ethiopic manuſcript: and yet we ſee in how ſhort a time the little ſtudent begins [Page 63] to underſtand them all, and to give evident marks of early induſtry.
It is very amuſing to purſue the young mind, while employed in its firſt attainments. At about a year old, the ſame neceſſities that firſt engaged its faculties, encreaſe, as its acquaintance with nature enlarges. Its ſtudies, therefore, if I may uſe the expreſſion, are no way relaxed; for having experienced what gave pleaſure at one time, it deſires a repetition of it from the ſame object; and, in order to obtain this, that object muſt be pointed out: here, therefore, a new neceſſity ariſes, which, very often, neither its little arts nor importunities can remove; ſo that the child is at laſt obliged to ſet about naming the objects it deſires to poſſeſs or avoid. In beginning to ſpeak, which is uſually about a year old, children find a thouſand difficulties. It is not without repeated trials that they come to pronounce any one of the letters; nor without an effort of the memory, that they can retain them. For this reaſon, we frequently ſee them attempting a ſound which they had learned, but forgot; and when they have failed, I have often ſeen their attempt attended with apparent confuſion. The letters ſooneſt learned, are thoſe which are moſt eaſily formed; thus A and B require an obvious diſpoſition [Page 64] of the organs, and their pronunciation is conſequently ſoon attained. Z and R, which require a more complicated poſition, are learned with greater difficulty. And this may, perhaps, be the reaſon why the children in ſome countries ſpeak ſooner than in others; for the letters moſtly occurring in the language of one country, being ſuch as are of eaſy pronunciation, that language is of courſe more eaſily attained. In this manner the children of the Italians are ſaid to ſpeak ſooner than thoſe of the Germans; the language of the one being ſmooth and open; that of the other, crowded with conſonants, and extremely gutteral.
But be this as it will, in all countries, children are found able to expreſs the greateſt part of their wants by the time they arrive at two years old; and from the moment the neceſſity of learning new words ceaſes, they relax their induſtry. It is then that the mind, like the body, ſeems every year to make ſlow advances; and, in order to ſpur up attention, many ſyſtems of education have been contrived.
Almoſt every philoſopher who has written on the education of children, has been willing to point out a method of his own, chiefly profeſſing to advance the health, and improve the intellects at the ſame time. Theſe are uſually found to [Page 65] begin with finding nothing right in the common practice; and by urging a total reformation. In conſequence of this, nothing can be more wild or imaginary than their various ſyſtems of improvement. Some will have the children every day plunged in cold water, in order to ſtrengthen their bodies; they will have them converſe with the ſervants in nothing but the Latin language, in order to ſtrengthen their minds; every hour of the day muſt be appointed for its own ſtudies, and the child muſt learn to make theſe very ſtudies an amuſement; till about the age of ten or eleven it becomes a prodigy of premature improvement. Quite oppoſite to this, we have others, whom the courteſy of mankind alſo calls philoſophers: and they will have the child learn nothing till the age of ten or eleven, at which the former has attained ſo much perfection; with them the mind is to be kept empty, until it has a proper diſtinction of ſome metaphyſical ideas about truth; and the promiſing pupil is debarred the uſe of even his own faculties, leſt they ſhould conduct him into prejudice and error. In this manner, ſome men, whom faſhion has celebrated for profound and fine thinkers, have given their hazarded and untried conjectures, upon one of the moſt important ſubjects in the world, and the moſt intereſting [Page 66] to humanity. When men ſpeculate at liberty upon innate ideas, or the abſtracted diſtinctions between will and power, they may be permitted to enjoy their ſyſtems at pleaſure, as they are harmleſs, although they may be wrong; but when they alledge that children are to be every day plunged in cold water, and, whatever be their conſtitution, indiſcriminately enured to cold and moiſture; that they are to be kept wet in the feet, to prevent their catching cold; and never to be corrected when young, for fear of breaking their ſpirits when old; theſe are ſuch noxious errors, that all reaſonable men ſhould endeavour to oppoſe them. Many have been the children whom theſe opinions, begun in ſpeculation, have injured or deſtroyed in practice; and I have myſelf ſeen many a little philoſophical martyr, whom I wiſhed, but was unable to relieve.
If any ſyſtem be now therefore neceſſary, it is one that would ſerve to ſhew, a very plain point; that very little ſyſtem is neceſſary. The natural and common courſe of education is in every reſpect the beſt: I mean that in which the child is permitted to play among its little equals, from whoſe ſimilar inſtructions it often gains the moſt uſeful ſtores of knowledge. A child is not idle becauſe it is playing about the [Page 67] fields, or purſuing a butterfly; it is all this time ſtoring its mind with objects, upon the nature, the properties, and the relations of which future curioſity may ſpeculate.
I have ever found it a vain taſk to try to make a child's learning its amuſement; nor do I ſee what good end it would anſwer were it actually attained. The child, as was ſaid, ought to have its ſhare of play, and it will be benefited thereby; and for every reaſon alſo, it ought to have its ſhare of labour. The mind, by early labour, will be thus accuſtomed to fatigues and ſubordination; and whatever be the perſon's future employment in life, he will be better fitted to endure it: he will be thus enabled to ſupport the drudgeries of office with content; or to fill up the vacancies of life with variety. The child, therefore, ſhould by times be put to its duty; and be taught to know, that the taſk is to be done, or the puniſhment to be endured. I do not object againſt alluring it to duty by reward; but we well know, that the mind will be more ſtrongly ſtimulated by pain; and both may, upon ſome occaſions, take their turn to operate. In this manner, a child, by playing with its equals abroad, and labouring with them at ſchool, will acquire more health and knowledge [Page 68] than by being bred up under the wing of any ſpeculative ſyſtem-maker; and will be thus qualified for a life of activity and obedience. It is true, indeed, that when educated in this manner, the boy may not be ſo ſeemingly ſenſible and forward as one bred up under ſolitary inſtruction; and, perhaps, this early forwardneſs, is more engaging than uſeful. It is well known, that many of thoſe children who have been ſuch prodigies of literature before ten, have not made an adequate progreſs to twenty. It ſhould ſeem, that they only began learning manly things before their time; and, while others were buſied in picking up that knowledge adapted to their age and curioſity, theſe were forced upon ſubjects unſuited to their years; and, upon that account alone, appearing extraordinary. The ſtock of knowledge in both may be equal; but with this difference, that each is yet to learn what the other knows.
But whatever may have been the acquiſitions of children at ten or twelve, their greateſt, and moſt rapid progreſs, is made when they arrive near the age of puberty. It is then that all the powers of nature ſeem at work in ſtrengthening the mind, and completing the body: the youth acquires courage, and the virgin modeſty; the [Page 69] mind, with new ſenſations, aſſumes new powers; it conceives with greater force, and remembers with greater tenacity. About this time, therefore, which is various in different countries, more is learned in one year than in any two of the preceding: and on this age, in particular, the greateſt weight of inſtruction ought to be thrown.
IT has been often ſaid, that the ſeaſon of youth is the ſeaſon of pleaſures: but this can only be true in ſavage countries, where but little preparation is made for the perfection of human nature; and where the mind has but a very ſmall part in the enjoyment. It is otherwiſe in thoſe places where nature is carried to the higheſt pitch of refinement, in which this ſeaſon of the greateſt ſenſual delight is wiſely made ſubſervient to the ſucceeding, and more rational one of manhood. Youth, with us, is but a ſcene of preparation; a drama, upon the right conduct of which all future happineſs is to depend. The youth who follows his appetites, too ſoon ſeizes the cup, before it has received its beſt ingredients; and, by anticipating his pleaſures, robs the remaining parts of life of their ſhare; ſo that his eagerneſs only produces a manhood of imbecility, and an age of pain.
The time of puberty is different in various countries, and always more late in men than in women. In the warm countries, of India, the [Page 71] women are marriageable at nine or ten, and the men at twelve or thirteen. It is alſo different in cities where the inhabitants lead a more ſoft, luxurious life, from the country where they work harder, and fare leſs delicately. Its ſymptoms are ſeldom alike in different perſons; but it is uſually known by a welling of the breaſts in one ſex, and a roughneſs of the voice in the other. At this ſeaſon alſo, the women ſeem to acquire new beauty, while the men loſe all that delicate effeminacy of countenance which they had when boys.
All countries, in proportion as they are civilized, or barbarous, improve, or degrade the nuptial ſatisfaction. In thoſe miſerable regions, where ſtrength makes the only law, the ſtronger ſex exerts its power, and becomes the tyrant over the weaker: while the inhabitant of Negroland is indolently taking his pleaſure in the fields, his wife is obliged to till the grounds, that ſerve for their mutual ſupport. It is thus in all barbarous countries, where the men throw all the laborious duties of life upon the women; and, regardleſs of beauty, put the ſofter ſex to thoſe employments that muſt effectually deſtroy it.
But, in countries that are half barbarous, particularly wherever Mahometaniſm prevails, [Page 72] the men run into the very oppoſite extreme Equally brutal with the former, they exert their tyranny over the weaker ſex, and conſider that half of the human creation as merely made to be ſubſervient to the depraved deſires of the other. The chief, and indeed the only aim of an Aſiatic, is to be poſſeſt of many women; and to be able to furniſh a ſeraglio is the only tendency of his ambition. As the ſavage was totally regardleſs of beauty, he, on the contrary, prizes it too highly; he excludes the perſon who is poſſeſt of ſuch perſonal attractions, from any ſhare in the duties, or employments of life; and, as if willing to engroſs all beauty to himſelf, encreaſes the number of his captives in proportion to the progreſs of his fortune. In this manner he vainly expects to augment his ſatisfactions, by ſeeking from many that happineſs which he ought to look for in the ſociety of one alone. He lives a gloomy tyrant, amidſt wretches of his own making; he feels none of thoſe endearments which ſpring from affection, none of thoſe delicacies which ariſe from knowledge. His miſtreſſes, being ſhut out from the world, and totally ignorant of all that paſſes there, have no arts to entertain his mind, or calm his anxieties; the day paſſes with them in ſullen ſilence, or languid repoſe; appetite can furniſh but few opportunities [Page 73] of varying the ſcene; and all that falls beyond it muſt be irkſome expectation.
From this avarice of women, if I may be allowed to expreſs it ſo, has proceeded that jealouſy and ſuſpicion which ever attends the miſer: hence thoſe low and barbarous methods of keeping the women of thoſe countries guarded, and of making, and procuring eunuchs to attend them. Theſe unhappy creatures are of two kinds, the white and the black. The white are generally made in the country where they reſide, being but partly deprived of the marks of virility; the black are generally brought from the interior parts of Africa, and are made entirely bare. Theſe are chiefly choſen for their deformity; the thicker the lips, the flatter the noſe, and the more black the teeth, the more valuable the eunuch; ſo that the vile jealouſy of mankind here inverts the order of Nature; and the poor wretch finds himſelf valued in proportion to his deficiencies. In Italy, where this barbarous cuſtom is ſtill retained, and eunuchs are made, in order to improve the voice, the laws are ſeverely aimed againſt ſuch practice; ſo that being entirely prohibited, none but the pooreſt, and moſt abandoned of the people, ſtill ſecretly practiſe it upon their children. Of thoſe ſerved in this manner, not one [Page 74] in ten is found to become a ſinger; but ſuch is the luxurious folly of the times, that the ſucceſs of one amply compenſates for the failure of the reſt. It is very difficult to account for the alterations which caſtration makes in the voice, and the other parts of the body. The eunuch is ſhaped differently from others. His legs are of an equal thickneſs above and below; his knees weak; his ſhoulders narrow; and his beard thin and downy. In this manner his perſon is rendered more deformed; but his deſires, as I am told, ſtill continue the ſame; and actually, in Aſia, ſome of them are found to have their ſeraglios, as well as their maſters. Even in our country, we have an inſtance of a very fine woman's being married to one of them, whoſe appearance was the moſt unpromiſing; and, what is more extraordinary ſtill, I am told, that this couple continue perfectly happy in each other's ſociety.
The mere neceſſities of life ſeem the only aim of the ſavage; the ſenſual pleaſures are the only ſtudy of the ſemi-barbarian; but the refinement of ſenſuality, by reaſon, is the boaſt of real politeneſs. Among the merely barbarous nations, ſuch as the natives of Madagaſcar, or the inhabitants of Congo, nothing is deſired ſo ardently as to proſtitute their wives, or [Page 75] daughters, to ſtrangers, for the moſt trifling advantages; they will account it a diſhonour not to be among the foremoſt who are thus received into favour; on the other hand, the Mahometan keeps his wife faithful, by confining her perſon; and would inſtantly put her to death if he but ſuſpected her chaſtity. With the politer inhabitants of Europe both theſe barbarous extremes are avoided; the woman's perſon is left free, and no conſtraint is impoſed but upon her affections. The paſſion of love, which may be conſidered as the nice conduct of ruder deſire, is only known, and practiſed in this part of the world; ſo that what other nations guard as their right, the more delicate European is contented to aſk as a favour. In this manner, the concurrence of mutual appetite contributes to encreaſe mutual ſatisfaction; and the power on one ſide of refuſing, makes every bleſſing more grateful when obtained by the other. In barbarous countries, woman is conſidered merely as an uſeful ſlave; in ſuch as are ſomewhat more refined, ſhe is regarded as a deſireable toy; in countries entirely poliſhed, ſhe enjoys juſter privileges; the wife being conſidered as an uſeful friend, and an agreeable miſtreſs. Her mind is ſtill more prized than her perſon; and without the improvement [Page 74] [...] [Page 75] [...] [Page 76] of both, ſhe can never expect to become truly agreeable; for her good ſenſe alone can preſerve what ſhe has gained by her beauty.
Female beauty, as was ſaid, is always ſeen to improve about the age of puberty: but, if we ſhould attempt to define in what this beauty conſiſts or what conſtitutes its perfection, we ſhould find nothing more difficult to determine. Every country has its peculiar way of thinking, in this reſpect; and even the ſame country thinks differently, at different times. The ancients had a very different taſte from what prevails at preſent. The eye-brows joining in the middle was conſidered as a very peculiar grace, by Tibullus, in the enumeration of the charms of his miſtreſs. Narrow foreheads were approved of, and ſcarce any of the Roman ladies that are celebrated for their other perfections, but are alſo praiſed for the redneſs of their hair. The noſe alſo of the Grecian Venus, was ſuch as would appear at preſent an actual deformity; as it fell in a ſtraight line from the forehead, without the ſmalleſt ſinking between the eyes; without which we never ſee a face at preſent.
Among the moderns, every country ſeems to have peculiar ideas of beauty*. The Perſians admire large eye-brows, joining in the middle; [Page 77] the edges and corners of the eyes are tinctured with black, and the ſize of the head is encreaſed by a great variety of bandages, formed into a turban. In ſome parts of India, black teeth and white hair, are deſired with ardour; and one of the principal employments of the women of Thibet, is to redden the teeth with herbs, and to make their hair white by a certain preparation. The paſſion for coloured teeth obtains alſo in China, and Japan; where, to complete their idea of beauty, the object of deſire muſt have little eyes, nearly cloſed, feet extremely ſmall, and a waiſt far from being ſhapely. There are ſome nations of the American Indians, that flatten the heads of their children, by keeping them, while young, ſqueezed between two boards, ſo as to make the viſage much larger than it would naturally be. Others flatten the head at top; and others ſtill make it as round as they poſſibly can. The inhabitants along the weſtern coaſts of Africa, have a very extraordinary taſte for beauty. A flat noſe, thick lips, and a jet black complexion, are there the moſt indulgent gifts of Nature. Such, indeed, they are all, in ſome degree, found to poſſeſs. However, they take care, by art, to encreaſe theſe natural deformities, as they ſhould ſeem to us; and they have many additional [Page 78] methods of rendering their perſons ſtill more frightfully pleaſing. The whole body and viſage is often ſcarred with a variety of monſtrous figures; which is not done without great pain, and repeated inciſion; and even ſometimes, parts of the body are cut away. But it would be endleſs to remark the various arts which caprice, or cuſtom, has employed to diſtort and disfigure the body, in order to render it more pleaſing: in fact, every nation, how barbarous ſoever, ſeems unſatisfied with the human figure, as Nature has left it, and has its peculiar arts of heightening beauty. Painting, powdering, cutting, boring the noſe, and the ears, lengthening the one, and depreſſing the other, are arts practiſed in many countries; and, in ſome degree, admired in all. Theſe arts might have been at firſt introduced to hide epidemic deformities; cuſtom, by degrees, reconciles them to the view; till, from looking upon them with indifference, the eye at length begins to gaze with pleaſure.
5. CHAP. V. Of the Age of Manhood*.[Page 79]
THE human body attains to its full height during the age of puberty; or, at leaſt, a ſhort time after. Some young people are found to ceaſe growing at fourteen, or fifteen; others continue their growth till two or three and twenty. During this period they are all of a ſlender make; their thighs and legs ſmall, and the muſcular parts as yet unfilled. But, by degrees, the fleſhy fibres augment; the muſcles ſwell, and aſſume their figure; the limbs become proportioned, and rounder; and, before the age of thirty, the body, in men, has acquired the moſt perfect ſymmetry. In women, the body arrives at perfection much ſooner, as they arrive at the age of maturity more early; the muſcles, and all the other parts being weaker, leſs compact, and ſolid, than thoſe of man, they require leſs time in coming to perfection; and, as they are leſs in ſize, that ſize [Page 80] is ſooner completed. Hence the perſons of women are found to be as complete at twenty, as thoſe of men are found to be at thirty.
The body of a well-ſhaped man ought to be ſquare; the muſcles ſhould be expreſſed with boldneſs, and the lines of the face ſtrongly marked. In the woman, all the colours ſhould be rounder, the lines ſofter, and the features more delicate. Strength and majeſty belong to the man, grace and ſoftneſs are the peculiar embelliſhments of the other ſex. In both, every part of their form declares their ſovereignty over other creatures. Man ſupports his body erect; his attitude is that of command; and his face, which is turned towards the heavens, diſplays the dignity of his ſtation. The image of his ſoul is painted in his viſage; and the excellence of his nature penetrates through the material form in which it is encloſed. His majeſtic port, his ſedate, and reſolute ſtep, announce the nobleneſs of his rank. He touches the earth only with his extremity; and beholds it as if at a diſdainful diſtance. His arms are not given him, as to other creatures, for pillars of ſupport; nor does he loſe, by rendering them callous againſt the ground, that delicacy of touch which furniſhes him with ſo many of his enjoyments. His hands are made for very different [Page 81] purpoſes; to ſecond every intention of his will, and to perfect the gifts of Nature.
When the ſoul is at reſt, all the features of the viſage ſeem ſettled in a ſtate of profound tranquility. Their proportion, their union, and their harmony ſeem to mark the ſweet ſerenity of the mind, and give a true information of what paſſes within. But, when the ſoul is excited, the human viſage becomes a living picture; where the paſſions are expreſſed with as much delicacy as energy, where every motion is deſigned by ſome correſpondent feature, where every impreſſion anticipates the will, and betrays thoſe hidden agitations, that he would often wiſh to conceal.
It is particularly in the eyes that the paſſions are painted; and in which we may moſt readily diſcover their beginning. The eye ſeems to belong to the ſoul more than any other organ; it ſeems to participate of all its emotions; as well the moſt ſoft and tender, as the moſt tumultuous and forceful. It not only receives, but tranſmits them by ſympathy; the obſerving eye of one catches the ſecret fire from another; and the paſſion thus often becomes general.
Such perſons as are ſhort ſighted labour under a particular diſadvantage, in this reſpect. They are, in a manner, entirely cut off from [Page 82] the language of the eyes; and this gives an air of ſtupidity to the face, which often produces very unfavourable preventions. However intelligent we find ſuch perſons to be, we can ſcarcely be brought back from our firſt prejudice, and often continue in the firſt erroneous opinion. In this manner we are too much induced to judge of men by their phyſiognomy; and having, perhaps, at firſt, caught up our judgments prematurely, they mechanically influence us all our lives after. This extends even to the very colour, or the cut of people's cloaths; and we ſhould for this reaſon be careful, even in ſuch trifling particulars, ſince they go to make up a part of the total judgment which thoſe we converſe with may form to our advantage.
The vivacity, or the languid motion of the eyes, gives the ſtrongeſt marks to phyſiognomy; and their colour contributes ſtill more to enforce the expreſſion. The different colours of the eye are the dark hazle, the light hazle, the green, the blue, the grey, the whitiſh grey, ‘"and alſo the red."’ Theſe different colours ariſe from the different colours of the little ‘"muſcles that ſerve to contract the pupil; and they are very often found to change colour with diſorder, and with age."’
[Page 83] The moſt ordinary colours are the hazle and the blue, and very often both theſe colours are found in the eyes of the ſame perſon. Thoſe eyes which are called black are only of the dark hazle, which may be eaſily ſeen upon cloſer inſpection; however, thoſe eyes are reckoned the moſt beautiful where the ſhade is the deepeſt; and either in theſe, or the blue eyes, the fire, which gives its fineſt expreſſion to the eye, is more diſtinguiſhable in proportion to the darkneſs of the tint. For this reaſon, the black eyes, as they are called, have the greateſt vivacity; but, probably, the blue have the moſt powerful effect in beauty, as they reflect a greater variety of lights, being compoſed of more various colours.
This variety, which is found in the colour of the eyes, is peculiar to man, and one or two other kinds of animals; but, in general, the colour in any one individual is the ſame in all the reſt. The eyes of oxen are brown; thoſe of ſheep of a water colour; thoſe of goats are grey; ‘"and it may alſo be, in general, remarked, that the eyes of moſt white animals are red; thus the rabbit, the ferrit, and, even in the human race, the white Moor, all have their eyes of a red colour."’
Although the eye, when put into motion, [Page 84] ſeems to be drawn on one ſide; yet it only moves round its centre; by which its coloured part moves nearer, or farther from the angle of the eye-lids, or is elevated or depreſt. The diſtance between the eyes is leſs in man than in any other animal; and in ſome of them it is ſo great that it is impoſſible that they ſhould ever view the ſame object with both eyes at once, unleſs it be very far off. ‘"This, however, in them, is rather an advantage than an inconvenience; as they are thus able to watch round them, and guard againſt the dangers of their precarious ſituation."’
Next to the eyes, the features, which moſt give a character to the face, are the eye-brows; which being, in ſome meaſure, more apparent than the other features, are moſt readily diſtinguiſhed at a diſtance. ‘"Le Brun, in giving a painter directions, with regard to the paſſions, places the principal expreſſion of the face in the eye brows. From their elevation and depreſſion, moſt of the furious paſſions are characterized; and ſuch as have this feature extremely moveable, are uſually known to have an expreſſive face. By means of theſe we can imitate all the other paſſions, as they are raiſed and depreſſed, at command; the reſt of the features are generally fixed; or, when put into [Page 85] motion, they do not obey the will; the mouth and eyes, in an actor, for inſtance, may, by being violently diſtorted, give a very different expreſſion from what he would intend; but the eye-brows can ſcarcely be exerted improperly; their being raiſed, denotes all thoſe paſſions which pride, or pleaſure inſpire; and their depreſſion marks thoſe which are the effects of contemplation and pain; and ſuch who have this feature, therefore, moſt at command, are often found to excel as actors."’
The eye-laſhes have an effect, in giving expreſſion to the eye, particularly when long and cloſe; they ſoften its glances, and improve its ſweetneſs. Man and apes are the only animals that have eye-laſhes both upon the upper and lower lids; all other animals want them on the lid below.
The eye-lids ſerve to guard the ball of the eye, and to furniſh it with a proper moiſture. The upper lid riſes and falls; the lower has ſcarce any motion; and although their being moved depends on the will, yet it often happens that the will is unable to keep them open, when ſleep, or fatigue, oppreſſes the mind. In birds, and amphibious quadrupedes, the lower lid alone has motion; fiſhes and inſects have no eye-lids whatſoever.
[Page 86] The forehead makes a large part of the face, and a part which chiefly contributes to its beauty. It ought to be juſtly proportioned; neither too round nor too flat; neither too narrow nor too low; and the hair ſhould come thick upon its extremities. It is known to every body how much the hair tends to improve the face; and how much the being bald ſerves to take away from beauty. The higheſt part of the head is that which becomes bald the ſooneſt, as well as that part which lies immediately above the temples. The hair under the temples, and at the back of the head, is very ſeldom known to fail, ‘"and women are much leſs apt to become bald than men; Mr. Buffon ſeems to think they never become bald at all; but we have too many inſtances of the contrary among us, not very eaſily to contradict the aſſertion. Of all parts, or appendages of the body, the hair is that which is found moſt different, in different climates; and often not only contributes to mark the country, but alſo the diſpoſition of the man. It is, in general, thickeſt where the conſtitution is ſtrongeſt; and more gloſſy and beautiful where the health is moſt permanent. The ancients held the hair to be a ſort of excrement, produced like the nails; the part next the root puſhing out that [Page 87] immediately contiguous. But the moderns have found that every hair may be truly ſaid to live, to receive nutriment, to fill and diſtend itſelf like the other parts of the body. The roots, they obſerve, do not turn grey ſooner than the extremities, but the whole hair changes colour at once; and we have many inſtances of perſons who have grown grey in one night's time*. Each hair, if viewed with a microſcope, is found to conſiſt of five or ſix leſſer ones, all wrapped up in one common covering; it appears knotted, like ſome ſorts of graſs, and ſends forth branches at the joints. It is bulbous at the root, by which it imbibes its moiſture from the body, and it is ſplit at the points; ſo that a ſingle hair, at its end, reſembles a bruſh. Whatever be the ſize, or the ſhape of the pore, through which the hair iſſues, it accommodates itſelf to the ſame; being either thick, as they are large; ſmall, as they are leſs; round, triangular, and variouſly formed as the pores happen to be various. The hair takes its colour from the juices flowing through it; and it is found that this colour differs in different tribes and races of people. The Americans, and the Aſiatics, have [Page 88] their hair black, thick, ſtraight, and ſhining. The inhabitants of the torrid climates of Africa, have it black, ſhort, and woolly. The people of Scandinavia have it red, long, and curled; and thoſe of our own, and the neighbouring countries, are found with hair of various colours. However, it is ſuppoſed by many, that every man reſembles in his diſpoſition the inhabitants of thoſe countries whom he reſembles in the colour, and the nature of his hair; ſo that the black are ſaid, like the Aſiatics, to be grave and acute; the red, like the Gothic nations, to be cholerick and bold. However this may be, the length and the ſtrength of the hair is a general mark of a good conſtitution; and as that hair which is ſtrongeſt is moſt commonly curled, ſo curled hair is generally regarded among us as a beauty. The Greeks, however, had a very different idea of beauty, in this reſpect; and ſeem to have taken one of their peculiar national diſtinctions from the length and the ſtraightneſs of the hair."’
The noſe is the moſt prominent feature in the face; but, as it has ſcarce any motion, and that only in the ſtrongeſt paſſions, it rather adds to the beauty than to the expreſſion of the countenance. ‘"However, I am told, by the ſkilful in this branch of knowledge, that wide [Page 89] noſtrils add a great deal to the bold and reſolute air of the countenance; and where they are narrow, though it may conſtitute beauty, it ſeldom improves expreſſion."’ The form of the noſe, and its advanced poſition, are peculiar to the human viſage alone. Other animals, for the moſt part, have noſtrils, with a partition between them; but none of them have an elevated noſe. Apes themſelves have ſcarce any thing elſe of this feature, but the noſtrils; the reſt of the feature lying flat upon the viſage, and ſcarce higher than the cheek bones. ‘"Among all the tribes of ſavage men alſo, the noſe is very flat; and I have ſeen a Tartar who had ſcarce any thing elſe but two holes through which to breathe."’
The mouth and lips, next to the eyes, are found to have the greateſt expreſſion. The paſſions have great power over this part of the face; and the mouth marks its different degrees, by its different forms. The organ of ſpeech ſtill more animates this part, and gives it more life than any other feature in the countenance. The ruby colour of the lips, and the white enamel of the teeth, give it ſuch a ſuperiority over every other feature, that it ſeems to make the principal object of our regards. In fact, the whole attention is fixed upon the lips of the [Page 90] ſpeaker; however rapid his diſcourſe, however various the ſubject, the mouth takes correſpondent ſituations; and deaf men have been often found to ſee the force of thoſe reaſonings which they could not hear, underſtanding every word as it was ſpoken.
‘"The under jaw in man poſſeſſes a great variety of motions; while the upper has been thought, by many, to be quite immoveable*. However, that it moves in man, a very eaſy experiment will ſuffice to convince us. If we keep the head fixed, with any thing between our teeth, the edge of a table for inſtance, and then open our mouths, we ſhall find that both jaws recede from it at the ſame time; the upper jaw riſes, and the lower falls, and the table remains untouched between them. The upper jaw, therefore, has motion as well as the under; and, what is remarkable, it has its proper muſcles behind the head, for thus raiſing and depreſſing it. Whenever, therefore, we eat, both jaws move at the ſame time, though very unequally; for the whole head moving with the upper jaw, of which it makes a part, its motions are thus [Page 91] leſs obſervable."’ In the human embryo, the under jaw is very much advanced before the upper. ‘"In the adult, it hangs a good deal more backward; and thoſe whoſe upper and under row of teeth are equally prominent, and ſtrike directly againſt each other, are what the painters call under-hung; and they conſider this as a great defect in beauty*. The under jaw in a Chineſe face falls greatly more backward than with us; and, I am told, the difference is half an inch, when the mouth is ſhut naturally."’ In inſtances of the moſt violent paſſion, the under jaw has often an involuntary quivering motion; and often alſo, a ſtate of languor produces another, which is that of yawning. ‘"Every one knows how very ſympathetic this kind of languid motion is; and that for one perſon to yawn, is ſufficient to ſet all the reſt of the company a yawning. A ridiculous inſtance of this was commonly practiſed upon the famous M'Laurin, one of the profeſſors at Edinburgh. He was very ſubject to have his jaw diſlocated; ſo that when he opened his mouth wider than ordinary, or when he yawned, he could not ſhut it again. In the midſt of his harangues, therefore, [Page 92] if any of his pupils began to be tired of his lecture, he had only to gape or yawn, and the profeſſor inſtantly caught the ſympathetic affection; ſo that he thus continued to ſtand ſpeechleſs, with his mouth wide open, till his ſervant, from the next room, was called in to ſet his jaw again."’
When the mind reflects with regret upon ſome good unattained or loſt, it feels an internal emotion, which acting upon the diaphragm, and that upon the lungs, produces a ſigh; this, when the mind is ſtrongly affected, is repeated; ſorrow ſucceeds theſe firſt emotions; and tears are often ſeen to follow: ſobbing is the ſigh ſtill more invigorated; and lamentation, or crying, proceeds from the continuance of the plaintive tone of the voice, which ſeems to implore pity. ‘"There is yet a ſilent agony, in which the mind appears to diſdain all external help, and broods over its diſtreſſes with gloomy reſerve. This is the moſt dangerous ſtate of mind; accidents or friendſhip may leſſen the louder kinds of grief; but all remedies for this, muſt be had from within: and there, deſpair too often finds the moſt deadly enemy."’
Laughter is a ſound of the voice, interrupted and purſued for ſome continuance. The muſcles of the belly, and the diaphragm, are employed [Page 93] in its ſlighteſt exertions; but thoſe of the ribs are ſtrongly agitated in the louder: and the head ſometimes is thrown backward, in order to raiſe them with greater eaſe. The ſmile is often an indication of kindneſs and good-will: it is alſo often uſed as a mark of contempt and ridicule.
Bluſhing proceeds from different paſſions; being produced by ſhame, anger, pride, and joy. Paleneſs is often alſo the effect of anger; and almoſt ever attendant on fright and fear. Theſe alterations in the colour of the countenance, are entirely involuntary; all the other expreſſions of the paſſions are, in ſome ſmall degree, under controul; but bluſhing and paleneſs, betray our ſecret purpoſes; and we might as well attempt to ſtop them, as the circulation of the blood, by which they are cauſed.
The whole head, as well as the features of the face, takes peculiar attitudes from its paſſions: it bends forward, to expreſs humility, ſhame, or ſorrow; it is turned to one ſide, in languor, or in pity; it is thrown with the chin forward, in arrogance and pride; erect, in ſelf-conceit, and obſtinacy; it is thrown backwards in aſtoniſhment; and combines its motions to the one ſide, and the other, to expreſs contempt, ridicule, anger, and reſentment. ‘"Painters, [Page 94] whoſe ſtudy leads to the contemplation of external forms, are much more adequate judges of theſe than any naturaliſt can be; and it is with theſe a general remark, that no one paſſion is regularly expreſſed on different countenances in the ſame manner; but that grief often ſits upon the face like joy; and pride aſſumes the air of paſſion. It would be vain, therefore, in words, to expreſs their general effect, ſince they are often as various as the countenances they ſit upon; and in making this diſtinction nicely, lies all the ſkill of the phyſiognomiſt. In being able to diſtinguiſh what part of the face is marked by nature, and what by the mind; what part has been originally formed, and what is made by habit, conſtitutes this ſcience; upon which the ancients ſo much valued themſelves, and which we at preſent ſo little regard. Some, however, of the moſt acute men among us, have paid great attention to this art; and, by long practice, have been able to give ſome character of every perſon whoſe face they examined. Montaigne is well known to have diſliked thoſe men who ſhut one eye in looking upon any object: and Fielding aſſerts, that he never knew a perſon with a ſteady glavering ſmile, but he found him a rogue. However, moſt of theſe obſervations, tending to a diſcovery of the mind [Page 95] by the face, are merely capricious; and Nature has kindly hid our hearts from each other, to keep us in good humour with our fellow creatures."’
The parts of the head which give the leaſt expreſſion to the face, are the ears; and they are generally found hidden under the hair. Theſe, which are immoveable, and make ſo ſmall an appearance in man, are very diſtinguiſhing features in quadrupedes. They ſerve in them as the principal marks of the paſſions; the ears diſcover their joys or their terrors, with tolerable preciſion; and denote all their internal agitations. The ſmalleſt ears, in men, are ſaid to be moſt beautiful; but the largeſt are found the beſt for hearing. There are ſome ſavage nations who bore their ears, and ſo draw that part down, that the tips of the ears are ſeen to reſt upon their ſhoulders.
The ſtrange variety in the different cuſtoms of men, appears ſtill more extravagant in their manner of wearing their beards. Some, and among others the Turks, cut the hair off their heads, and let their beards grow. The Europeans, on the contrary, ſhave their beards, and wear their hair. The Negroes ſhave their heads in figures at one time, in ſtars at another, in the manner of friars; and ſtill more commonly in alternate ſtripes; and their little boys [Page 96] are ſhaved in the ſame manner. The Talapoins, of Siam, ſhave the heads and the eye-brows of ſuch children as are committed to their care. Every nation ſeems to have entertained different prejudices, at different times, in favour of one part or another of the beard. Some have admired the hair upon the cheeks on each ſide, as we ſee with ſome low-bred men among ourſelves, who want to be fine. Some like the hair lower down; ſome chuſe it curled; and others like it ſtrait. ‘"Some have cut it into a peak; and others ſhave all but the whiſker. This particular part of the beard was highly prized among the Spaniards; till of late, a man without whiſkers was conſidered as unfit for company; and where Nature had denied them, Art took care to ſupply the deficiency. We are told of a Spaniſh general who, when he borrowed a large ſum of money from the Venetians, pawned his whiſker, which he afterwards took proper care to releaſe. Kingſon aſſures us, that a conſiderable part of the religion of the Tartars conſiſts in the management of their whiſkers; and that they waged a long and bloody war with the Perſians, declaring them infidels, merely becauſe they would not give their whiſkers the orthodox cut. The kings of Perſia carried the care of their beards [Page 97] to a ridiculous exceſs, when they choſe to wear them matted with gold thread: and the kings of France themſelves, of the firſt races, had them knotted and buttoned with gold. But of all nations, the Americans take the greateſt pains in cutting their hair, and plucking their beards. The under part of the beard, and all but the whiſker, they take care to pluck up by the roots, ſo that many have ſuppoſed them to have no hair naturally growing on that part: and even Linnaeus himſelf has fallen into that miſtake. Their hair is alſo cut into bands; and no ſmall care employed in adjuſting the whiſker. In fact, we have a very wrong idea of ſavage finery; and are apt to ſuppoſe that, like the beaſts of the foreſt, they riſe, and are dreſſed with a ſhake: but the reverſe is true; for no birth-night beauty takes more time or pains in the adorning her perſon, than they. I remember, when the Cherokee kings were over here, that I have waited for three hours. during the time they were dreſſing. They never would venture to make their appearance till they had gone through the tedious ceremonies of the toilet; they had their boxes of oil and oker, their fat, and their perfumes, like the moſt effeminate beau, and generally took up four hours in dreſſing, before they conſidered [Page 98] themſelves as fit to be ſeen. We muſt not, therefore, conſider a delicacy in point of dreſs, as a mark of refinement, ſince ſavages are much more difficult in this particular, than the moſt faſhionable or tawdry European. The more barbarous the people, the fonder of finery. In Europe, the luſtre of jewels, and the ſplendor of the moſt brilliant colours, are generally given up to women, or to the weakeſt part of the other ſex, who are willing to be contemptibly fine: but in Aſia, theſe trifling fineries are eagerly ſought after by every condition of men; and, as the proverb has it, we find the richeſt jewels in an Aethiop's ear. The paſſion for glittering ornaments, is ſtill ſtronger among the abſolute barbarians, who often exchange their whole ſtock of proviſions, and whatever elſe they happen to be poſſeſſed of, with our ſeamen, for a glaſs bead, or a looking-glaſs."’
Although faſhions have ariſen in different countries from fancy and caprice, theſe, when they become general, deſerve examination. Mankind have always conſidered it as a matter of moment, and they will ever continue deſirous of drawing the attention of each other, by ſuch ornaments as mark the riches, the power, or the courage of the wearer. The value of thoſe ſhining ſtones which have at all times been [Page 99] conſidered as precious ornaments, is entirely founded upon their ſcarceneſs or their brilliancy. It is the ſame likewiſe, with reſpect to thoſe ſhining metals, the weight of which is ſo little regarded, when ſpread over our cloaths. Theſe ornaments are rather deſigned to draw the attention of others, than to add to any enjoyments of our own; and few there are that theſe ornaments will not ſerve to dazzle, and who can coolly diſtinguiſh between the metal and the man.
All things rare and brilliant, will, therefore, ever continue to be faſhionable, while men derive greater advantages from opulence than virtue; while the means of appearing conſiderable, are more eaſily acquired, than the title to be conſidered. The firſt impreſſion we generally make, ariſes from our dreſs; and this varies, in conformity to our inclinations, and the manner in which we deſire to be conſidered. The modeſt man, or he who would wiſh to be thought ſo, deſires to ſhew the ſimplicity of his mind, by the plainneſs of his dreſs; the vain man, on the contrary, takes a pleaſure in diſplaying his ſuperiority, ‘"and is willing to incur the ſpectator's diſlike, ſo he does but excite his attention."’
Another point of view which men have in [Page 100] dreſſing, is to encreaſe the ſize of their figure; and to take up more room in the world than Nature ſeems to have allotted them. We deſire to ſwell out our cloaths by the ſtiffneſs of art, and raiſe our heels, while we add to the largeneſs of our heads. How bulky ſoever our dreſs may be, our vanities are ſtill more bulky. The largeneſs of the doctor's wig ariſes from the ſame pride with the ſmallneſs of the beau's queue. Both want to have the ſize of their underſtanding meaſured by the ſize of their heads.
There are ſome modes that ſeem to have a more reaſonable origin, which is to hide or to leſſen the defects of Nature. To take men altogether, there are many more deformed and plain, than beautiful and ſhapely. The former, as being the moſt numerous, give law to faſhion; and their laws are generally ſuch as are made in their own favour. The women begin to colour their cheeks with red, when the natural roſes are faded; and the younger are obliged to ſubmit, though not compelled by the ſame neceſſity. In all parts of the world, this cuſtom prevails more or leſs; and powdering and frizzing the hair, though not ſo general, ſeems to have ariſen from a ſimilar control.
But leaving the draperies of the human [Page 101] picture, let us return to the figure, unadorned by art. Man's head, whether conſidered externally or internally, is differently formed from that of all other animals, the monkey-kind only excepted, in which there is a ſtriking ſimilitude. There are ſome differences, however, which we ſhall take notice of in another place. The bodies of all quadrupede animals are covered with hair; but the head of man ſeems the part moſt adorned; and that more abundantly than in any other animal.
There is a very great variety in the teeth of all animals; ſome have them above and below; others have them in the under jaw only: in ſome they ſtand ſeparate from each other; while in ſome they are continued and united. The palate of ſome fiſhes is nothing elſe but a bony plate ſtudded with points, which perform the offices of teeth. All theſe ſubſtances, in every animal, derive their origin from the nerves; the ſubſtance of the nerves hardens by being expoſed to the air; and the nerves that terminate in the mouth, being thus expoſed, acquire a bony ſolidity. In this manner, the teeth and nails are formed in man; and in this manner alſo, the beak, the hoofs, the horns, and the talons of other animals, are found to be produced.
The neck ſupports the head, and unites it to [Page 102] the body. This part is much more conſiderable in the generality of quadrupedes, than in man. But fiſhes, and other animals that want lungs ſimilar to ours, have no neck whatſoever. Birds, in general, have the neck longer than any other kind of animals: thoſe of them, which have ſhort claws, have alſo ſhort necks; thoſe, on the contrary, that have them long, are found to have the neck in proportion. ‘"In men, there is a lump upon the wind-pipe, formed by the thuroid cartilage, which is not to be ſeen in women; an Arabian fable ſays, that this is a part of the original apple, that has ſtuck in the man's throat by the way, but that the woman ſwallowed her part of it down."’
The human breaſt is outwardly formed in a very different manner from that of other animals. It is larger in proportion to the ſize of the body; and none but man, and ſuch animals as make uſe of their fore feet as hands, ſuch as monkies, bats, and ſquirrels, are found to have thoſe bones called the clavicles, or, as we uſually term them, the collar-bones*. The breaſts in women are larger than in men; however, they ſeem formed in the ſame manner; and, ſometimes, milk is found in the breaſts of [Page 103] men, as well as in thoſe of women. Among animals, there is a great variety in this part of the body. The teats of ſome, as in the ape and the elephant, are like thoſe of men, being but two, and placed on each ſide of the breaſt. The teats of the bear amount to four. The ſheep has but two, placed between the hinder legs. Other animals, ſuch as the bitch, and the ſow, have them all along the belly; and, as they produce many young, they have a great many teats for their ſupport. The form alſo of the teats, varies in different animals; and, in the ſame animal, at different ages. The boſom in females, ſeems to unite all our ideas of beauty, where the outline is continually changing, and the gradations are ſoft and regular.
‘"The graceful fall of the ſhoulders, both in man and woman, conſtitute no ſmall part of beauty. In apes, though otherwiſe made like us, the ſhoulders are high, and drawn up on each ſide towards the ears. In man they fall by a gentle declivity; and the more ſo, in proportion to the beauty of his form. In fact, being high ſhouldered, is not without reaſon conſidered as a deformity, for we find very ſickly perſons are always ſo; and people, when dying, are ever ſeen with their ſhoulders drawn up in a ſurprizing manner. The muſcles that [Page 104] ſerve to raiſe the ribs, moſtly riſe near the ſhoulders; and the higher we raiſe the ſhoulders, we the more eaſily raiſe the ribs likewiſe. It happens, therefore, in the ſickly, and the dying, who do not breathe without labour, that to raiſe the ribs, they are obliged to call in the aſſiſtance of the ſhoulders; and thus their bodies aſſume, from habit, that form which they are ſo frequently obliged to aſſume. Women with child alſo, are uſually ſeen to be high ſhouldered; for the weight of the inferior parts drawing down the ribs, they are obliged to uſe every effort to elevate them, and thus they raiſe the ſhoulders of courſe. During pregnancy alſo, the ſhape, not only of the ſhoulders, but alſo of the breaſt, and even the features of the face, are greatly altered: for the whole upper fore-part of the body is covered with a broad thin ſkin, called the myoides; which being, at that time, drawn down, it draws down with it the ſkin, and, conſequently, the features of the face. By this means, the viſage takes a particular form; the lower eye-lids, and the corners of the mouth, are drawn downwards; ſo that the eyes are enlarged, and the mouth lengthened: and women, in theſe circumſtances, are ſaid, by the midwives, to be all mouth and eyes."’
[Page 105] The arms of men but very little reſemble the fore feet of quadrupedes, and much leſs the wings of birds. The ape is the only animal that is poſſeſſed of hands and arms; but theſe are much more rudely faſhioned, and with leſs exact proportion than in men; ‘"the thumb not being ſo well oppoſed to the reſt of the fingers, in their hands, as in ours."’
The form of the back is not much different in man from that of other quadrupede animals, only that the reins are more muſcular in him, and ſtronger. The buttock, however, in man, is different from that of all other animals whatſoever. What goes by that name, in other creatures, is only the upper part of the thigh: man being the only animal that ſupports himſelf perfectly erect, the peculiar largeneſs of this part is owing to the peculiarity of his poſition.
Man's feet alſo are different from thoſe of all other animals, thoſe even of apes not excepted. The foot of the ape is rather a kind of aukward hand; its toes, or rather fingers, are long, and that of the middle longeſt of all. This foot alſo wants the heel, as in man; the ſole alſo is narrower, and leſs adapted to maintain the equilibrium of the body in walking, dancing, or running.
The nails are leſs in man than in any other [Page 106] animal. If they were much longer than the extremities of the fingers, they would rather be prejudicial than ſerviceable, and obſtruct the management of the hand. Such ſavages as let them grow long make uſe of them in fleaing animals, in tearing their fleſh, and ſuch like purpoſes; however, though their nails are conſiderably larger than ours, they are by no means to be compared to the hoofs, or the claws of other animals. ‘"They may ſometimes be ſeen longer, indeed, than the claws of any animal whatſoever; as we learn that the nails of ſome of the learned men in China are longer than their fingers. But theſe want that ſolidity which might give force to their exertions; and could never, in a ſtate of nature, have ſerved them for annoyance, or defence."’
There is little known exactly with regard to the proportion of the human figure; and the beauty of the beſt ſtatues is better conceived by obſerving than by meaſuring them. The ſtatues of antiquity, which were at firſt copied after the human form, are now become the models of it; nor is there one man found whoſe perſon any way approaches to thoſe inimitable performances that have thus, in one figure, united the perfections of many. It is ſufficient to ſay that, from being at firſt models, they are now become [Page 107] orginals; and are uſed to correct the deviations in that form from whence they were taken." I will not, however, pretend to give the proportions of the human body as taken from theſe, there being nothing more arbitrary, and which good painters themſelves ſo much contemn. Some, for inſtance, who have ſtudied after theſe, divide the body into ten times the length of the face, and others into eight. Some pretend to tell us that there is a ſimilitude of proportion in different parts of the body. Thus, that the hand is the length of the face; the thumb the length of the noſe; the ſpace between the eyes is the breadth of an eye; that the breadth of the thigh, at thickeſt, is double that of the thickeſt part of the leg, and treble the ſmalleſt; that the arms extended are juſt as long as the figure is high; that the legs and thighs are juſt half the length of the figure. All this, however, is extremely arbitrary; and the excellence of a ſhape, or the beauty of a ſtatue, reſults from the attitude and poſition of the whole, rather than any eſtabliſhed meaſurements, begun without experience, and adopted by caprice. In general, it may be remarked that the proportions alter in every age, and are obviouſly different in the two ſexes. In woman, the ſhoulders are narrower, and the neck proportionably [Page 108] longer than in men. The hips alſo are conſiderably larger, and the thighs much ſhorter than in men. Theſe proportions, however, vary greatly at different ages. In infancy the upper parts of the body are much larger than the lower; the legs and thighs do not conſtitute any thing like half the height of the whole figure; in proportion as the child encreaſes in age, the inferior parts are found to lengthen; ſo that the body is not equally divided until it has acquired its full growth.
The ſize of men varies conſiderably. Men are ſaid to be tall who are from five feet eight inches to ſix feet high. The middle ſtature is from five feet five to five feet eight: and theſe are ſaid to be of ſmall ſtature who fall under theſe meaſures.
"However, it ought to be remarked, that the ſame perſon is always taller when he riſes in the morning, than upon going to bed at night; and ſometimes there is an inch difference; and I have ſeen more. Few perſons are ſenſible of this remarkable variation; and, I am told, it was firſt perceived, in England, by a recruiting officer. He often found that that thoſe men whom he had enliſted for ſoldiers, and anſwered to the appointed ſtandard at one time, fell ſhort of it when they came to be meaſured before the colonel, at the head [Page 109] quarters. This dimunition in their ſize proceeded from the different times of the day, and the different ſtates of the body when they happened to be meaſured. If, as was ſaid, they were meaſured in the morning, after the night's refreſhment, they were found to be commonly half an inch, and very often a whole inch taller than in meaſured after the fatigues of the day; if they were meaſured when freſh, in the country, and before a long fatiguing march to the regiment, they were found to be an inch taller than when they arrived at their journey's end. All this is now well known among thoſe who recruit for the army; and the reaſon of this difference of ſtature is obvious. Between all the joints of the back-bone, which is compoſed of ſeveral pieces, there is a glutinous liquor depoſited, which ſerves, like oil in a machine, to give the parts an eaſy play upon each other. This lubricating liquor, or ſynovia, as the anatomiſts call it, is poured in during the ſeaſon of repoſe, and is conſumed by exerciſe and employment; ſo that in a body, after hard labour, there is ſcarce any of it remaining; but all the joints grow ſtiff, and their motion becomes hard and painful. It is from hence, therefore, that the body diminiſhes in ſtature. For this moiſture being drained away, from between the numerous [Page 110] joints of the back-bone, they lie cloſer upon each other; and their whole length is thus very ſenſibly diminiſhed; but ſleep once more, by reſtoring the fluid, again ſwells the ſpaces between the joints, and the whole is extended to its former dimenſions.
"As the human body is thus often found to differ from itſelf in ſize, ſo it is found to differ in its weight alſo; and the ſame perſon, without any apparent cauſe, is found to be heavier at one time than another. If, after having eaten an hearty dinner, or having drank hard, the perſon ſhould find himſelf thus heavier, it would appear no way extraordinary; but the fact is, the body is very often found heavier ſome hours after eating an hearty meal, than immediately ſucceeding it. If, for inſtance, a perſon, fatigued by a day's hard labour, ſhould eat a plentiful ſupper, and then get himſelf weighed upon going to bed; after ſleeping ſoundly, if he is again weighed, he will find himſelf conſiderably heavier than before; and this difference is often found to amount to a pound, or ſometimes to a pound and a half. From whence this adventitious weight is derived is not eaſy to conceive; the body, during the whole night, appears rather plentifully perſpiring than imbibing any fluid, rather [Page 111] loſing than gaining moiſture: however, we have no reaſon to doubt but that either by the lungs, or, perhaps, by a peculiar ſet of pores, it is all this time inhaling a quantity of fluid, which thus encreaſes the weight of the whole body, upon being weighed the next morning*."
Although the human body is externally more delicate than any in of the quadrupede kind, it is, notwithſtanding, extremely muſcular: and, perhaps, for its ſize, ſtronger than that of any other animal whatſoever. If we ſhould offer to compare the ſtrength of the lion with that of man, we ſhould conſider that the claws of this animal give us a falſe idea of its power; we aſcribe to its force what is only the effects of its arms. Thoſe which man has received from Nature are not offenſive; happy had art never furniſhed him with any more terrible than thoſe which arm the paws of the lion.
But there is another manner† of comparing the ſtrength of man with that of other animals; namely, by the weights which either can carry. [Page 112] We are aſſured that the porters of Conſtantinople, carry burthens of nine hundred pounds weight: Mr. Deſaguliers tells us of a man, who, by diſtributing weights in ſuch a manner as that every part of his body bore its ſhare, he was thus able to raiſe a weight of two thouſand pounds. An horſe, which is about ſeven times our bulk, would be thus able to raiſe a weight of fourteen thouſand pounds, if its ſtrength were in the ſame proportion*. ‘"But, the truth is, an horſe will not carry upon its back, above a weight of two or three hundred pounds; while a man, of confeſſedly inferior ſtrength, is thus able to ſupport two thouſand. Whence comes this ſeeming ſuperiority? The anſwer is obvious. Becauſe the load upon man's ſhoulders is placed to the greateſt advantage; while, upon the horſe's back, it is placed at the greateſt diſadvantage. Let us ſuppoſe, for a moment, the man ſtanding as upright as poſſible, under the great load abovementioned. It is obvious that all the bones of his body may be compared to a pillar ſupporting a building, and that his muſcles have ſcarce any ſhare in this dangerous duty. However, they are not entirely inactive; as man, let him ſtand never ſo upright, will [Page 113] have ſome bending in the different parts of his body. The muſcles, therefore, give the bones ſome aſſiſtance, and that with the greateſt poſſible advantage. In this manner, therefore, a man has been found to ſupport two thouſand weight; but may be capable of ſupporting a ſtill greater. The manner in which this is done, is by ſtrapping the load round the ſhoulders of the perſon, who is to bear it by a machine, ſomething like that by which milk veſſels, or water-buckets are carried. The load being thus placed on a ſcaffold, on each ſide, contrived for that purpoſe, and the man ſtanding erect in the midſt, all parts of the ſcaffold, except that where the man ſtands, are made to ſink; and thus the man maintaining his poſition, the load, whatever it is, becomes ſuſpended, and the column of his bones may be fairly ſaid to ſupport it. If, however, he ſhould but ever ſo little give way, he muſt inevitably drop; and no power of his can raiſe the weights again. But the caſe is very different with regard to a load laid upon an horſe. The column of the bones there lies a different way; and a weight of five hundred pounds, as I am told, would break the back of the ſtrongeſt horſe that could be found. The great force of an horſe, and other quadrupedes, is exerted [Page 114] when the load is in ſuch a poſition as that the column of the bones can be properly applied; which is lengthwiſe. When, therefore, we are to eſtimate the comparative ſtrength of an horſe, we are not to try what he can carry, but what he can draw; and, in this caſe, his amazing ſuperiority over man is eaſily diſcerned; for one horſe can draw a load that ten men cannot move. And in ſome caſes it happens that a draft horſe draws the better for being ſomewhat loaded; for, as the peaſants ſay, the load upon his back keeps him the better to the ground."’
There is ſtill another way of eſtimating human ſtrength by the perſeverance and agility of our motions. Men, who are exerciſed in running, outſtrip horſes; or at leaſt hold their ſpeed for a longer continuance. In a journey, alſo, a man will walk down a horſe; and, after they have both continued to proceed for ſeveral days, the horſe will be quite tired, and the man will be freſher than in the beginning. The king's meſſengers of Iſpahan, who are runners by profeſſion, go thirty-ſix leagues in fourteen hours. Travellers aſſure us that the Hottentots outſtrip lions in the chace; and that the ſavages, who hunt the elk, purſue with ſuch ſpeed, that they at laſt tire down, and take it. [Page 115] We are told many very ſurprizing things of the great ſwiftneſs of the ſavages, and of the long journeys they undertake, on foot, through the moſt craggy mountains, where there are no paths to direct, nor houſes to entertain them. They are ſaid to perform a journey of twelve hundred leagues in leſs than ſix weeks. ‘"But, notwithſtanding what travellers report of this matter, I have been aſſured, from many of our officers, and ſoldiers, who compared their own ſwiftneſs with that of the native Americans, during the laſt war, that although the ſavages held out and, as the phraſe is, had better bottom, yet, for a ſpurt, the Engliſhmen were more nimble and ſpeedy."’
Nevertheleſs, in general, civilized man is ignorant of his own powers; he is ignorant how much he loſes by effeminacy; and what might be acquired by habit and exerciſe. Here and there, indeed, men are found among us of extraordinary ſtrength; but that ſtrength, for want of opportunity, is ſeldom called into exertion.
"Among the ancients it was a quality of much greater uſe than at preſent; as in war the ſame man that had ſtrength ſufficient to carry the heavieſt armour, had ſtrength ſufficient alſo to ſtrike the moſt fatal blow. In this caſe, his ſtrength was at once his protection [Page 116] and his power. We ought not to be ſurprized, therefore, when we hear of one man terrible to an army, and irreſiſtible in his career, as we find ſome generals repreſented in ancient hiſtory. But we may be very certain that this proweſs was exaggerated by flattery, and exalted by terror. An age of ignorance is ever an age of wonder. At ſuch times, mankind, having no juſt ideas of the human powers, are willing rather to repreſent what they wiſh than what they know; and exalt human ſtrength, to fill up the whole ſphere of their limited conceptions. Great ſtrength is an accidental thing; two, or three, in a country, may poſſeſs it; and theſe may have a claim to heroiſm. But what may lead us to doubt of the veracity of theſe accounts is, that the heroes of antiquity are repreſented as the ſons of heroes; their amazing ſtrength is delivered down from father to ſon; and this we know to be contrary to the courſe of nature. Strength is not hereditary; although titles are: and I am very much induced to believe, that this great tribe of heroes, who are all repreſented as the deſcendants of heroes, are more obliged to their titles than to their ſtrength, for their characters. With regard to the ſhining characters in Homer, they are all repreſented as princes, and as the ſons of princes; while we are told of [Page 117] ſcarce any ſhare of proweſs whatſoever in the meaner men of the army; who are only brought into the field for theſe to protect, or to ſlaughter. But nothing can be more unlikely than that thoſe men, who were bred in the luxury of courts, ſhould be ſtrong; while the whole body of the people, who received a plainer and ſimpler education, ſhould be comparatively weak. Nothing can be more contrary to the general laws of nature, than that all the ſons of heroes ſhould thus inherit not only the kingdoms, but the ſtrength of their forefathers; and we may conclude, that they owe the greateſt ſhare of their imputed ſtrength rather to the dignity of their ſtations than the force of their arms; and, like all fortunate princes, their flatterers happened to be believed. In later ages, indeed, we have ſome accounts of amazing ſtrength, which we can have no reaſon to doubt of. But in theſe, nature is found to purſue her ordinary courſe; and we find their ſtrength accidental. We find theſe ſtrong men among the loweſt of the people, and gradually riſing into notice, as this ſuperiority had more opportunity of being ſeen. Of this number was the Roman tribune, who went by the name of the ſecond Achilles; who, with his own hand, killed, at different times, three hundred of the enemy; [Page 118] and when treacherouſly ſet upon, by twenty-five of his own countrymen, although then paſt his ſixtieth year, killed fourteen of them before he was ſlain. Of this number was Milo, who, when he ſtood upright, could not be forced out of his place. Pliny, alſo, tells us of one Athanatus, who walked acroſs the ſtage at Rome, loaded with a breaſt plate weighing five hundred pounds, and buſkins of the ſame weight. But of all the prodigies of ſtrength, of whom we have any accounts in Roman hiſtory, Maximin, the emperor, is to be reckoned the foremoſt. Whatever we are told relative to him is well atteſted; his character was too exalted not to be thoroughly known; and that very ſtrength, for which he was celebrated, at laſt procured him no leſs a reward than the empire of the world. Maximin was above nine feet in height, and the beſt proportioned man in the whole empire. He was by birth a Thracian; and, from being a ſimple herdſman, roſe through the gradations of office, until he came to be Emperor of Rome. The firſt opportunity he had of exerting his ſtrength, was in the preſence of all the citizens, in the theatre, where he overthrew twelve of the ſtrongeſt men, in wreſtling, and outſtript two of the fleeteſt horſes, in running, all in [Page 119] one day. He could draw a chariot loaden, that two ſtrong horſes could not move; he could break a horſe's jaw with a blow of his fiſt; and its thigh with a kick. In war he was always foremoſt, and invincible; happy had it been for him, and his ſubjects, if, from being formidable to his enemies, he had not become ſtill more ſo to his ſubjects; he reigned, for ſome time, with all the world his enemy; all mankind wiſhing him dead, yet none daring to ſtrike the blow. As if fortune had reſolved that through life he ſhould continue unconquerable, he was killed at laſt by his own ſoldiers, while he was ſleeping. We have many other inſtances, in later ages, of very great ſtrength, and not fewer of amazing ſwiftneſs; but theſe, merely corporeal perfections, are now conſidered as of ſmall advantage, either in war or in peace. The invention of gunpowder has, in ſome meaſure, levelled down all force to one ſtandard; and has wrought a total change in human education through all parts of the world. In peace alſo, the invention of new machines every day, and the application of the ſtrength of the lower animals to the purpoſes of life, have rendered human ſtrength leſs valuable. The boaſt of corporeal force is now, therefore, conſigned to ſavage nations, where thoſe arts [Page 120] not being introduced, it may ſtill be needful; but, in more polite countries, few will be proud of that ſtrength which other animals can be taught to exert to as uſeful purpoſes as they.
"If we compare the largeneſs and thickneſs of our muſcles with thoſe of any other animal, we ſhall find that, in this reſpect, we have the advantage; and if ſtrength, or ſwiftneſs, depended upon the quantity of muſcular fleſh alone, I believe that, in this reſpect, we ſhould be more active and powerful than any other. But this is not the caſe; a great deal more than the ſize of the muſcles goes to conſtitute activity, or force; and it is not he who has the thickeſt legs that can make the beſt uſe of them. Thoſe, therefore, who have written elaborate treatiſes on muſcular force, and have eſtimated the ſtrength of animals by the thickneſs of their muſcles, have been employed to very little purpoſe. It is, in general, obſerved that thin and raw-boned men are always ſtronger and more powerful than ſuch as are ſeemingly more muſcular; as in the former all the parts have better room for their exertions."
Women want much of the ſtrength of men; and, in ſome countries, the ſtronger ſex have availed themſelves of this ſuperiority, in cruelly [Page 121] and tyranically enſlaving thoſe who were made with equal pretenſions to a ſhare in all the advantages life can beſtow. Savage nations oblige their women to a life of continual labour; upon them reſts all the drudgeries of domeſtic duty; while the huſband, indolently reclined in his hammock, is firſt ſerved from the fruits of her induſtry. From this negligent ſituation he is ſeldom rouzed, except by the calls of appetite, when it is neceſſary, either by fiſhing or hunting, to make a variety in his entertainments. A ſavage has no idea of taking pleaſure in exerciſe; he is ſurprized to ſee an European walk forward for his amuſement, and then return back again. As for his part he could be contented to remain for ever in the ſame ſituation, perfectly ſatisfied with ſenſual pleaſures and undiſturbed repoſe. The women, therefore, of theſe countries, are the greateſt ſlaves upon earth; ſenſible of their weakneſs, and unable to reſiſt, they are obliged to ſuffer thoſe hardſhips which are naturally inflicted by ſuch as have been taught that nothing but corporeal force ought to give pre-eminence. It is not, therefore, till after ſome degree of refinement, that women are treated with lenity; and not till the higheſt degree of politeneſs, that they are [Page 122] permitted to ſhare in all the privileges of man. The firſt impulſe of ſavage nature is to confirm their ſlavery; the next, of half barbarous nations, is to appropriate their beauty; and that, of the perfectly polite, to engage their affections. In civilized countries, therefore, women have united the force of modeſty to the power of their natural charms; and thus obtain that ſuperiority over the mind, which they are unable to extort by their ſtrength.
AS man, in all the privileges he enjoys, and the powers he is inveſted with, has a ſuperiority over all other animals, ſo, in his neceſſities, he ſeems inferior to the meaneſt of them all. Nature has brought him into life with a greater variety of wants and infirmities, than the reſt of her creatures, unarmed in the midſt of enemies. The lion has natural arms; the bear natural cloathing; but man is deſtitute of all ſuch advantages; and, from the ſuperiority of his mind alone, he is to ſupply the deficiency. The number of his wants, however, were merely given, in order to multiply the number of his enjoyments; ſince the poſſibility of being deprived of any good, teaches him the value of its poſſeſſion. Were man born with thoſe advantages which he learns to poſſeſs by induſtry, he would very probably enjoy them with a blunter reliſh: it is by being naked, that he knows the value of a covering; it is by being expoſed to the weather, that he learns the comforts of an habitation. Every want thus becomes a means of pleaſure, in the redreſſing; and that animal that has moſt deſires, may be [Page 124] ſaid to be capable of the greateſt variety of happineſs.
Beſide the thouſand imaginary wants peculiar to man only, there are two, which he has in common with all other animals; and which he feels in a more neceſſary manner than they. Theſe are the wants of ſleep and hunger. Every animal that we are acquainted with, ſeems to endure the want of theſe with much leſs injury to health, than man; and ſome are moſt ſurprizingly patient in ſuſtaining both. The little domeſtic animals that we keep about us, may often ſet a leſſon of calm reſignation, in ſupporting want and watchfulneſs, to the boaſted philoſopher. They receive their pittance at uncertain intervals, and wait its coming with chearful expectation. We have inſtances of the dog, and the cat, living, in this manner, without food, for ſeveral days; and yet ſtill preſerving their attachment to the tyrant that oppreſſes them; ſtill ready to exert their little ſervices for his amuſement or defence. But the patience of theſe is nothing, to what the animals of the foreſt endure. As theſe moſtly live upon accidental carnage, ſo they are often known to remain without food for ſeveral weeks together. Nature, kindly ſolicitous for their ſupport, has alſo contracted their ſtomachs, to ſuit them for [Page 125] their precarious way of living; and kindly, while it abridges the banquet, leſſens the neceſſity of providing for it. But the meaner tribes of animals are made ſtill more capable of ſuſtaining life without food, many of them remaining in a ſtate of torpid indifference till their prey approaches, when they jump upon and ſeize it. In this manner, the ſnake, or the ſpider, continue, for ſeveral months together, to ſubſiſt upon a ſingle meal; and ſome of the butterfly kinds actually live upon nothing. But it is very different with man: his wants daily make their importunate demands; and it is ſuppoſed, that he cannot continue to live four days without eating, drinking, and ſleeping.
Hunger is a much more powerful enemy to man than watchfulneſs, and kills him much ſooner. It may be conſidered as a diſorder that food removes; and that would quickly be fatal, without its proper antidote. In fact, it is ſo terrible to man, that to avoid it he even encounters certain death; and, rather than endure its tortures, exchanges them for immediate deſtruction. However, by what I have been told, it is much more dreadful in its approaches, than in its continuance; and the pains of a famiſhing wretch, decreaſe as his ſtrength diminiſhes. In the beginning, the deſire of food [Page 126] is dreadful indeed, as we know by experience, for there are few who have not in ſome degree felt its approaches. But, after the firſt or ſecond day, its tortures become leſs terrible, and a total inſenſibility at length comes kindly in to the poor wretch's aſſiſtance. I have talked with the captain of a ſhip, who was one of ſix that endured it in its extremities; and who was the only perſon that had not loſt his ſenſes, when they received accidental relief. He aſſured me, his pains at firſt were ſo great, as to be often tempted to eat a part of one of the men who died; and which the reſt of his crew actually for ſome time lived upon: he ſaid that, during the continuance of this paroxyſm, he found his pains inſupportable; and was deſirous, at one time, of anticipating that death which he thought inevitable: but his pains, he ſaid, gradually decreaſed, after the ſixth day, (for they had water in the ſhip, which kept them alive ſo long) and then he was in a ſtate rather of languor than deſire; nor did he much wiſh for food, except when he ſaw others eating; and that for a while revived his appetite, though with diminiſhed importunity. The latter part of the time, when his health was almoſt deſtroyed, a thouſand ſtrange images roſe upon his mind; and every one of his ſenſes began to [Page 127] bring him wrong information. The moſt fragrant perfumes appeared to him to have a foetid ſmell; and every thing he looked at, took a greeniſh hue, and ſometimes a yellow. When he was preſented with food by the ſhip's company that took him and his men up, four of whom died ſhortly after, he could not help looking upon it with loathing, inſtead of deſire; and it was not till after four days, that his ſtomach was brought to its natural tone; when the violence of his appetite returned, with a ſort of canine eagerneſs.
Thus dreadful are the effects of hunger; and yet when we come to aſſign the cauſe that produces them, we find the ſubject involved in doubt and intricacy. This longing eagerneſs is, no doubt, given for a very obvious purpoſe; that of repleniſhing the body, waſted by fatigue and perſpiration. Were not men ſtimulated by ſuch a preſſing monitor, they might be apt to purſue other amuſements, with a perſeverance beyond their power; and forget the uſeful hours of refreſhment, in thoſe more tempting ones of pleaſure. But hunger makes a demand that will not be refuſed; and, indeed, the generality of mankind, ſeldom await the call.
Hunger has been ſuppoſed by ſome to ariſe [Page 128] from the rubbing of the coats of the ſtomach againſt each other, without having any intervening ſubſtance to prevent their painful attrition. Others have imagined, that its juices, wanting their neceſſary ſupply, turn acrid, or, as ſome ſay, pungent; and thus fret its internal coats, ſo as to produce a train of the moſt uneaſy ſenſations. Boerhaave, who made his reputation in phyſic, by uniting the conjectures of all thoſe that preceded him, aſcribes hunger to the united effect of both theſe cauſes; and aſſerts, that the pungency of the gaſtric juices, and the attrition of its coats againſt each other, cauſe thoſe pains, which nothing but food can remove. Theſe juices continuing ſtill to be ſeparated in the ſtomach, and every moment becoming more acrid, mix with the blood, and infect the circulation: the circulation being thus contaminated, becomes weaker, and more contracted; and the whole nervous frame ſympathizing, an hectic fever, and ſometimes madneſs, is produced; in which ſtate the faint wretch expires. In this manner, the man who dies of hunger, may be ſaid to be poiſoned by the juices of his own body; and is deſtroyed leſs by the want of nouriſhment, than by the vitiated qualities of that which he had already taken.
However this may be, we have but few inſtances [Page 129] of men dying, except at ſea, of abſolute hunger. The decline of thoſe unhappy creatures who are deſtitute of food, at land, being more ſlow and unperceived. Theſe, from often being in need, and as often receiving an accidental ſupply, paſs their lives between ſurfeiting and repining; and their conſtitution is impaired by inſenſible degrees. Man is unfit for a ſtate of precarious expectation. That ſhare of provident precaution which incites him to lay up ſtores for a diſtant day, becomes his torment, when totally unprovided againſt an immediate call. The lower race of animals, when ſatisfied, for the inſtant moment, are perfectly happy: but it is otherwiſe with man; his mind anticipates diſtreſs, and feels the pangs of want even before it arreſts him. Thus the mind, being continually harraſſed by the ſituation, it at length influences the conſtitution, and unfits it for all its functions. Some cruel diſorder, but no way like hunger, ſeizes the unhappy ſufferer; ſo that almoſt all thoſe men who have thus long lived by chance, and whoſe every day may be conſidered as an happy eſcape from famine, are known at laſt to die in reality, of a diſorder cauſed by hunger; but which, in the common language, is often called a broken-heart. Some of theſe I have known myſelf, [Page 130] when very little able to relieve them: and I have been told, by a very active and worthy magiſtrate, that the number of ſuch as die in London for want, is much greater than one would imagine—I think he talked of two thouſand in a year.
But how numerous ſoever thoſe who die of hunger may be, many times greater, on the other hand, are the number of thoſe who die by repletion. It is not the province of the preſent page to ſpeculate, with the phyſician, upon the danger of ſurfeits; or, with the moraliſt, upon the nauſeouſneſs of gluttony: it will only be proper to obſerve, that as nothing is ſo prejudicial to health as hunger by conſtraint, ſo nothing is more beneficial to the conſtitution than voluntary abſtinence. It was not without reaſon that religion enjoined this duty; ſince it anſwered the double purpoſe of reſtoring the health oppreſſed by luxury, and diminiſhed the conſumption of proviſions, ſo that a part might come to the poor. It ſhould be the buſineſs of the legiſtature, therefore, to enforce this Divine precept; and thus, by reſtraining one part of mankind in the uſe of their ſuperfluities, to conſult for the benefit of thoſe who want the neceſſaries of life. The injunctions for abſtinence are ſtrict over the whole Continent; and were rigorouſly obſerved, even [Page 131] among ourſelves, for a long time after the Reformation. Queen Elizabeth, by giving her commands, upon this head the air of a political injunction, leſſened, in a great meaſure, and, in my opinion, very unwiſely, the religious force of the obligation. She enjoined that her ſubjects ſhould faſt from fleſh on fridays and ſaturdays; but at the ſame time declared, that this was not commanded from motives of religion, as if there were any differences in meats, but merely to favour the conſumption of fiſh, and thus to multiply the number of mariners; and alſo to ſpare the ſtock of ſheep, which might be more beneficial in another way. In this manner the injunction defeated its own force; and this moſt ſalutary law became no longer binding, when it was ſuppoſed to come purely from man. How far it may be enjoined in the Scriptures, I will not take upon me to ſay; but this may be aſſerted, that if the utmoſt benefit to the individual, and the moſt extenſive advantage to ſociety, ſerve to mark any inſtitution as of Heaven, this of abſtinence may be reckoned among the foremoſt.
Were we to give an hiſtory of the various benefits that have ariſen from this command, and how conducive it has been to long life, the inſtances would fatigue with their multiplicity. [Page 132] It is ſurprizing to what a great age the primitive Chriſtians of the Eaſt, who retired from perſecution in the deſarts of Arabia, continued to live, in all the bloom of health, and yet all the rigours of abſtemious diſcipline. Their common allowance, as we are told, for four and twenty hours, was twelve ounces of bread, and nothing but water. On this ſimple beverage, St. Anthony is ſaid to have lived an hundred and five years; James, the hermit, an hundred and four; Arſenius, tutor to the emperor Arcadius, an hundred and twenty; St. Epiphanius, an hundred and fifteen; Simeon, an hundred and twelve; and Rombald, an hundred and twenty. In this manner did theſe holy temperate men live to an extreme old age, kept chearful by ſtrong hopes, and healthful by moderate labour.
Abſtinence which is thus voluntary, may be much more eaſily ſupported than conſtrained hunger. Man is ſaid to live without food for ſeven days; which is the uſual limit aſſigned him: and, perhaps, in a ſtate of conſtraint, this is the longeſt time he can ſurvive the want of it. But in caſes of voluntary abſtinence, of ſickneſs, or ſleeping, he has been known to live much longer.
In the records of the Tower, there is an account of a Scotchman, impriſoned for felony, [Page 133] who, for the ſpace of ſix weeks, took not the leaſt ſuſtenance, being exactly watched during the whole time; and for this he received the king's pardon.
When the American Indians undertake long journies, and when, conſequently, a ſtock of proviſions ſufficient to ſupport them the whole way, would be more than they could carry, in order to obviate this inconvenience, inſtead of carrying the neceſſary quantity, they contrive a method of palliating their hunger, by ſwallowing pills, made of calcined ſhells and tobacco. Theſe pills take away all appetite, by producing a temporary diſorder in the ſtomach; and, no doubt, the frequent repetition of this wretched expedient, muſt at laſt be fatal. By this means, however, they continue ſeveral days without eating, chearfully bearing ſuch extremes of fatigue and watching, as would quickly deſtroy men bred up in a greater ſtate of delicacy. For thoſe arts by which we learn to obviate our neceſſities, do not fail to unfit us for their accidental encounter.
Upon the whole, therefore, man is leſs able to ſupport hunger than any other animal; and he is not better qualified to ſupport a ſtate of watchfulneſs. Indeed, ſleep ſeems much more neceſſary to him, than to any other creature; [Page 134] as, when awake, he may be ſaid to exhauſt a greater proportion of the nervous fluid; and, conſequently, to ſtand in need of an adequate ſupply. Other animals, when moſt awake, are but little removed from a ſtate of ſlumber; their feeble faculties, impriſoned in matter, and rather exerted by impulſe than deliberation, require ſleep rather as a ceſſation from motion, than from thinking. But it is otherwiſe with man; his ideas, fatigued with their various excurſions, demand a ceſſation, not leſs than the body, from toil; and he is the only creature that ſeems to require ſleep from double motives; not leſs for the refreſhment of the mental, than of the bodily frame.
There are ſome lower animals, indeed, that ſeem to ſpend the greateſt part of their lives in ſleep; but, properly ſpeaking, the ſleep of ſuch may be conſidered as a kind of death; and their waking, a reſurrection. Flies, and inſects, are ſaid to be aſleep, at a time that all the vital motions have ceaſed; without reſpiration, without any circulation of their juices, if cut in pieces, they do not awake, nor does any fluid ooze out at the wound. Theſe may be conſidered rather as congealed than as ſleeping animals; and their reſt, during winter, rather as a ceſſation from life, than a neceſſary refreſhment: [Page 135] but in the higher races of animals, whoſe blood is not thus congealed, and thawed by heat, theſe all bear the want of ſleep much better than man; and ſome of them continue a long time without ſeeming to take any refreſhment from it whatſoever.
But man is more feeble; he requires its due return; and if it fails to pay the accuſtomed viſit, his whole frame is in a ſhort time thrown into diſorder: his appetite ceaſes; his ſpirits are dejected; his pulſe becomes quicker and harder; and his mind, abridged of its ſlumbering viſions, begins to adopt waking dreams. A thouſand ſtrange phantoms ariſe, which come and go without his will: theſe, which are tranſient in the beginning, at laſt take firm poſſeſſion of the mind, which yields to their dominion, and, after a long ſtruggle, runs into confirmed madneſs. In that horrid ſtate, the mind may be conſidered as a city without walls, open to every inſult, and paying homage to every invader every idea that then ſtarts with any force, becomes a reality; and the reaſon, over fatigued with its former importunities, makes no head againſt the tyrannical invaſion, but ſubmits to it from mere imbecillity.
But it is happy for mankind, that this ſtate [Page 136] of inquietude is ſeldom driven to an extreme; and that there are medicines, which ſeldom fail to give relief. However, man finds it more difficult than any other animal to procure ſleep: and ſome are obliged to court its approaches for ſeveral hours together, before they incline to reſt. It is in vain that all light is excluded; that all ſounds are removed; that warmth and ſoftneſs conſpire to invite it; the reſtleſs and buſy mind ſtill retains its former activity; and reaſon, that wiſhes to lay down the reins, in ſpite of herſelf, is obliged to maintain them. In this diſagreeable ſtate, the mind paſſes from thought to thought, willing to loſe the diſtinctneſs of perception, by encreaſing the multitude of the images. At laſt, when the approaches of ſleep are near, every object of the imagination begins to mix with that next it; their outlines become, in a manner, rounder; a part of their diſtinctions fade away; and ſleep, that enſues, faſhions out a dream from the remainder.
If then it ſhould be aſked from what cauſe this ſtate of repoſe proceeds, or in what manner ſleep thus binds us for ſeveral hours together, I muſt fairly confeſs my ignorance, although it is eaſy to tell what philoſophers ſay upon the ſubject. Sleep, ſays one of them*, [Page 137] conſiſts in a ſcarcity of ſpirits, by which the orifices or pores of the nerves in the brain, through which the ſpirits uſed to flow into the nerves, being no longer kept open by the frequency of the ſpirits, ſhut of themſelves; thus the nerves, wanting a new ſupply of ſpirits, become lax, and unfit to convey any impreſſion to the brain. All this, however, is explaining a very great obſcurity by ſomewhat more obſcure: leaving, therefore, thoſe ſpirits to open and ſhut the entrances to the brain, let us be contented with ſimply enumerating the effects of ſleep upon the human conſtitution.
In ſleep, the whole nervous frame is relaxed, while the heart and the lungs ſeem more forcibly exerted. This fuller circulation produces alſo a ſwelling of the muſcles, as they always find who ſteep with ligatures on any part of their body. This encreaſed circulation alſo, may be conſidered as a kind of exerciſe, which is continued through the frame; and, by this, the perſpiration becomes more copious, although the appetite for food is entirely taken away. Too much ſleep dulls the apprehenſion, weakens the memory, and unfits the body for labour. On the contrary, ſleep too much abridged, emaciates the frame, produces melancholy, and conſumes the conſtitution. It requires ſome care, therefore, to regulate the [Page 138] quantity of ſleep, and juſt to take as much as will completely reſtore Nature, without oppreſſing it. The poor, as Otway ſays, ſleep little; forced, by their ſituation, to lengthen out their labour to their neceſſities, they have but a ſhort interval for this pleaſing refreſhment; and I have ever been of opinion, that bodily labour demands a leſs quantity of ſleep than mental. Labourers and artizans are generally ſatisfied with about ſeven hours; but I have known ſome ſcholars who uſually ſlept nine, and perceived their faculties no way impaired by overſleeping.
The famous Philip Barrettiere, who was conſidered as a prodigy of learning at the age of fourteen, was known to ſleep regularly twelve hours in the twenty-four; the extreme activity of his mind, when awake, in ſome meaſure called for an adequate alternation of repoſe: and, I am apt to think, that when ſtudents ſtint themſelves in this particular, they leſſen the waking powers of the imagination, and unfit it for its moſt ſtrenuous exertions. Animals, that ſeldom think, as was ſaid, can very eaſily diſpenſe with ſleep; and of men, ſuch as think leaſt, will very probably be ſatisfied with the ſmalleſt ſhare. A life of ſtudy, it is well known, unfits the body for receiving this gentle refreſhment; the approaches of [Page 139] ſleep are driven off by thinking: when, therefore, it comes at laſt, we ſhould not be too ready to interrupt its continuance.
Sleep is, indeed, to ſome, a very agreeable period of their exiſtence: and it has been a queſtion in the ſchools, which was moſt happy, the man who was a beggar by night, and a king by day; or he who was a beggar by day, and a king by night? It is given in favour of the nightly monarch, by him who firſt ſtarted the queſtion: for the dream, ſays he, gives the full enjoyment of the dignity, without its attendant inconveniences; while, on the other hand, the king, who ſuppoſes himſelf degraded, feels all the miſery of his fallen fortune, without trying to find the comforts of his humble ſituation. Thus, by day, both ſtates have their peculiar diſtreſſes: but, by night, the exalted beggar is perfectly bleſſed, and the king completely miſerable. All this, however, is rather fanciful than juſt; the pleaſure dreams can give us, ſeldom reaches to our waking pitch of happineſs: the mind often, in the midſt of its higheſt viſionary ſatisfactions, demands of itſelf, whether it does not owe them to a dream; and frequently awakes with the reply.
But it is ſeldom, except in caſes of the higheſt delight, or the moſt extreme uneaſineſs, that [Page 140] the mind has power thus to diſengage itſelf from the dominion of fancy. In the ordinary courſe of its operations, it ſubmits to thoſe numberleſs phantaſtic images that ſucceed each other, and which, like many of our waking thoughts, are generally forgotten. Of theſe, however, if any, by their oddity, or their continuance, affect us ſtrongly, they are then remembered; and there have been ſome who felt their impreſſions ſo ſtrongly, as to miſtake them for realities, and to rank them among the paſt actions of their lives.
There are others, upon whom dreams ſeem to have a very different effect; and who, without ſeeming to remember their impreſſions the next morning, have yet ſhewn, by their actions during ſleep, that they were very powerfully impelled by their dominion. We have numberleſs inſtances of ſuch perſons, who, while aſleep, have performed many of the ordinary duties to which they had been accuſtomed when waking; and, with a ridiculous induſtry, have completed by night, what they failed doing by day. We are told, in the German ephemerides, of a young ſtudent, who being enjoined a ſevere exerciſe by his tutor, went to bed, deſpairing of accompliſhing it. The next morning, awaking, to his great ſurprize he found the taſk fairly [Page 141] written out, and finiſhed in his own handwriting. He was at firſt, as the account has it, induced to aſcribe this ſtrange production to the operations of an infernal agent; but his tutor, willing to examine the affair to the bottom, ſet him another exerciſe, ſtill more ſevere than the former; and took precautions to obſerve his conduct the whole night. The young gentleman, upon being ſo ſeverely taſked, felt the ſame inquietude that he had done on the former occaſion; went to bed gloomy and penſive, pondering on the next day's duty, and, after ſome time, fell aſleep. But ſhortly after, his tutor, who continued to obſerve him from a place that was concealed, was ſurprized to ſee him get up, and very deliberately go to the table; there he took out pen, ink, and paper, drew himſelf a chair, and ſate very methodically to thinking: it ſeems, that his being aſleep, only ſerved to ſtrengthen the powers of his imagination; for he very quickly and eaſily went through the taſk aſſigned him, put his chair aſide, and then returned to bed to take out the reſt of his nap. What credit we are to give to this account, I will not pretend to determine: but this may be ſaid, that the book from whence it is taken, has ſome good marks of veracity; for it is very learned, and very dull, [Page 142] and is written in a country well noted, if not for truth, at leaſt for want of invention.
The ridiculous hiſtory of Arlotto is well known, who has had a volume written, containing a narrative of the actions of his life, not one of which was performed while he was awake. He was an Italian Franciſcan friar, extremely rigid in his manners, and remarkably devout and learned in his daily converſation. By night, however, and during his ſleep, he played a very different character from what he did by day, and was often detected in very attrocious crimes. He was at one time detected in actually attempting a rape, and did not awake till the next morning, when he was ſurprized to find himſelf in the hands of juſtice. His brothers of the convent often watched him while he went very deliberately into the chapel, and there attempted to commit ſacrilege. They ſometimes permitted him to carry the chalice and the veſtments away into his own chamber, and the next morning amuſed themſelves at the poor man's conſternation for what he had done. But of all his ſleeping tranſgreſſions, that was the moſt ridiculous, in which he was called to pray for the ſoul of a perſon departed. Arlotto, after having very devoutly performed his duty, retired to a chamber [Page 143] which was ſhewn him, to reſt; but there he had no ſooner fallen aſleep, than he began to reflect that the dead body had got a ring upon one of the fingers, which might be uſeful to him: accordingly, with a pious reſolution of ſtealing it, he went down, undreſſed as he was, into a room full of women, and, with great compoſure, endeavoured to ſeize the ring. The conſequence was, that he was taken before the inquiſition for witchcraft; and the poor creature had like to have been condemned, till his peculiar character accidentally came to be known: however, he was ordered to remain for the reſt of life in his own convent, and upon no account whatſoever to ſtir abroad.
What are we to ſay to ſuch actions as theſe; or how account for this operation of the mind in dreaming? It ſhould ſeem, that the imagination, by day, as well as by night, is always employed; and that often, againſt our wills, it intrudes where it is leaſt commanded or deſired. While awake, and in health, this buſy principle cannot much delude us: it may build caſtles in the air, and raiſe a thouſand phantoms before us; but we have every one of the ſenſes alive, to bear teſtimony to its falſehood. Our eyes ſhew us that the proſpect is not preſent; our hearing, and our touch, depoſe againſt its [Page 144] reality; and our taſte and ſmelling are equally vigilant in detecting the impoſtor. Reaſon, therefore, at once gives judgment upon the cauſe; and the vagrant intruder, imagination, is impriſoned, or baniſhed from the mind. But in ſleep it is otherwiſe; having, as much as poſſible, put our ſenſes from their duty, having cloſed the eyes from ſeeing, and the ears, taſte, and ſmelling, from their peculiar functions, and having diminiſhed even the touch itſelf, by all the arts of ſoftneſs, the imagination is then left to riot at large, and to lead the underſtanding without an oppoſer. Every incurſive idea then becomes a reality; and the mind, not having one power that can prove the illuſion, takes them for truths. As in madneſs, the ſenſes, from ſtruggling with the imagination, are at length forced to ſubmit, ſo, in ſleep, they ſeem for a while ſoothed into the like ſubmiſſion: the ſmalleſt violence exerted upon any one of them, however, rouzes all the reſt in their mutual defence; and the imagination, that had for a while told its thouſand falſhoods, is totally driven away, or only permitted to paſs under the cuſtody of ſuch as are every moment ready to detect its impoſition.
7. CHAP. VII. Of Seeing*.[Page 145]
‘"HAVING mentioned the ſenſes as correcting the errors of the imagination, and as forcing it, in ſome meaſure, to bring us juſt information, it will naturally follow that we ſhould examine the nature of thoſe ſenſes themſelves: we ſhall thus be enabled to ſee how far they alſo impoſe on us, and how far they contribute to correct each other. Let it be obſerved, however, that in this we are neither giving a treatiſe of optics, or phonics, but an hiſtory of our own perceptions; and to thoſe we chiefly confine ourſelves."’
The eyes very ſoon begin to be formed in the human embryo, and in the chicken alſo. Of all the parts which the animal has double, the eyes are produced the ſooneſt, and appear the moſt prominent. It is true, indeed, that in viviparous animals, and particularly in man, they [Page 146] are not ſo large in proportion, at firſt, as in the oviparous kinds; nevertheleſs, they are more ſpeedily developed, when they begin to appear, than any other parts of the body. It is the ſame with the organ of hearing; the little bones that go to compoſe the internal parts of the ear, are entirely formed before the other bones, though much larger, have acquired any part of their growth, or ſolidity. Hence it appears, that thoſe parts of the body which are furniſhed with the greateſt quantity of nerves, are the firſt in forming. Thus the brain, and the ſpinal marrow, are the firſt ſeen begun in the embryo; and, in general, it may be ſaid, that wherever the nerves go, or ſend their branches in great numbers, there the parts are ſooneſt begun, and the moſt completely finiſhed.
If we examine the eyes of a child ſome hours, or even ſome days after its birth, it will be eaſily diſcerned that it, as yet, makes no uſe of them. The humours of the organ not having as yet acquired a ſufficient conſiſtence, the rays of light ſtrike but confuſedly upon the retina, or expanſion of nerves at the back of the eye. It is not till about a month after they are born, that children fix them upon objects; for, before that time, they turn them indiſcriminately every where, without appearing [Page 147] to be affected by any. At ſix, or ſeven weeks old, they plainly diſcover a choice in the objects of their attention; they fix their eyes upon the moſt brilliant colours, and ſeem peculiarly deſirous of turning them towards the light. Hitherto, however, they only ſeem to fortify the organ for ſeeing diſtinctly; but they have ſtill many illuſions to correct.
The firſt great error in viſion is, that the eye inverts every object; and it in reality appears to the child, until the touch has ſerved to undeceive it, turned upſide down. A ſecond error in viſion is, that every object appears double. The ſame object forms itſelf diſtinctly upon each eye; and is conſequently ſeen twice. This error, alſo, can only be corrected by the touch; and although, in reality, every object we ſee appears inverted, and double, yet the judgment, and habit, have ſo often corrected the ſenſe, that we no longer ſubmit to its impoſition, but ſee every object in its juſt poſition, the very inſtant it appears. Were we, therefore, deprived of feeling, our eyes would not only miſrepreſent the ſituation, but alſo the number of all things round us.
To convince us that we ſee objects inverted, we have only to obſerve the manner in which images are repreſented, coming through a ſmall [Page 148] hole, in a darkened room. If ſuch a ſmall hole be made in a dark room, ſo that no light can come in, but through that, all the objects without will be painted on the wall behind, but in an inverted poſition, their heads downwards. For as all the rays which paſs from the different parts of the object without, cannot enter the hole in the ſame extent which they had in leaving the object, ſince, if ſo, they would require the apperture to be as large as the object; and, as each part, and every point of the object, ſends forth the image of itſelf on every ſide, and the rays, which form theſe images, paſs from all points of the object as from ſo many centres, ſo ſuch only can paſs through the ſmall apperture as come in oppoſite directions. Thus the little apperture becomes a centre for the entire object; through which the rays from the upper parts, as well as from the lower parts of it, paſs in converging directions; and, conſequently, they muſt croſs each other in the central point, and thus paint the objects behind, upon the wall, in an inverted poſition.
It is, in like manner, eaſy to conceive, that we ſee all objects double, whatever our preſent ſenſations may ſeem to tell us to the contrary. For, to convince us of this, we have only to compare the ſituation of any one object on [Page 149] ſhutting one eye, and then compare the ſame ſituation by ſhutting the other. If, for inſtance, we hold up a finger, and ſhut the right eye, we ſhall find it hide a certain part of the room; if again reſhutting the other eye, we ſhall find that part of the room viſible, and the finger ſeeming to cover a part of the room that had been viſible before. If we open both eyes, however, the part covered will appear to lie between the two extremes. But, the truth is, we ſee the object, our finger had covered, one image of it to the right, and the other to the left; but, from habit, ſuppoſe that we ſee but one image placed between both; our ſenſe of feeling having corrected the errors of ſight. And thus, alſo, if inſtead of two eyes we had two hundred, we ſhould, at firſt, fancy the objects encreaſed in proportion, until one ſenſe had corrected the errors of another.
"The having two eyes might thus be ſaid to be rather an inconvenience than a benefit, ſince one eye would anſwer the purpoſes of ſight as well, and be leſs liable to illuſion. But it is otherwiſe; two eyes greatly contribute, if not to diſtinct, at leaſt to extenſive viſion*. When an object is placed at a moderate diſtance, by the means of both eyes we ſee a larger ſhare of it [Page 150] than we poſſibly could with one; the right eye ſeeing a greater portion of its right ſide, and the left eye of its correſpondent ſide. Thus both eyes, in ſome meaſure, ſee round the object; and it is this that gives it, in nature, that bold relievo, or ſwelling, with which they appear; and which no painting, how exquiſite ſoever, can attain to. The painter muſt be contented with ſhading on a flat ſurface; but the eyes, in obſerving nature, do not behold the ſhading only, but a part of the figure alſo, that lies behind thoſe very ſhadings, which gives it that ſwelling, which painters ſo ardently deſire, but can never fully imitate."
"There is another defect, which either of the eyes, taken ſingly, would have, but which is corrected, by having the organ double. In either eye there is a point, which has no viſion whatſoever; ſo that if one of them only is employed in ſeeing, there is a part of the object to which it is always totally blind. This is that part of the optic nerve where its vein and artery run; which being inſenſible, that point of the object that is painted there muſt continue unſeen. To be convinced of this we have only to try a very eaſy experiment. If we take three black patches, and ſtick them upon a white wall, about a foot diſtant from each [Page 151] other, each about as high as the eye that is to obſerve them; then retiring ſix or ſeven feet back, and ſhutting one eye, by trying for ſome time, we ſhall find, that while we diſtinctly behold the black ſpots that are to the right and left, that which is in the middle remains totally unſeen. Or, in other words, when we bring that part of the eye, where the optic artery runs, to fall upon the object, it will then become inviſible. This defect, however, in either eye, is always corrected by both, ſince the part of the object that is unſeen by one, will be very diſtinctly perceived by the other."
Beſide the former defects we can have no idea of diſtances from the ſight, without the help of touch. Naturally every object we ſee appears to be within our eyes; and a child, who has as yet made but little uſe of the ſenſe of feeling, muſt ſuppoſe that every thing it ſees makes a part of itſelf. Such objects are only ſeen more or leſs bulky as they approach, or recede from its eyes; ſo that a fly that is near will appear larger than an ox at a diſtance. It is experience alone that can rectify this miſtake; and a long acquaintance with the real ſize of every object, quickly aſſures us of the diſtance at which it is ſeen. The laſt man in a file of ſoldiers appears in reality much leſs, perhaps ten [Page 152] times more diminutive, than the man next to us; however, we do not perceive this difference, but continue to think him of equal ſtature; for the numbers we have ſeen thus leſſened by diſtance, and have found, by repeated experience, to be of the natural ſize, when we come cloſer, inſtantly corrects the ſenſe, and every object is perceived with nearly its natural proportion. But it is otherwiſe, if we obſerve objects in ſuch ſituations as we have not had ſufficient experience to correct the errors of the eye; if, for inſtance, we look at men from the top of an high ſteeple, they, in that caſe, appear very much diminiſhed, as we have not had an habit of correcting the ſenſe in that poſition.
Although a ſmall degree of reflection will ſerve to convince us of the truth of theſe poſitions, it may not be amiſs to ſtrengthen them by an authority which cannot be diſputed. Mr. Cheſelden having couched a boy of thirteen for a cataract, who had hitherto been blind, and thus at once having reſtored him to ſight, curiouſly marked the progreſs of his mind, upon that occaſion. This youth, though he had been till then incapable of ſeeing, yet was not totally blind, but could tell day from night, as perſons in his ſituation always may. He could alſo, with a ſtrong light, diſtinguiſh black [Page 153] from white, and either from the vivid colour of ſcarlet; however, he ſaw nothing of the form of bodies; and, without a bright light, not even colours themſelves. He was, at firſt, couched only in one of his eyes; and, when he ſaw for the firſt time, he was ſo far from judging of diſtances, that he ſuppoſed that his eyes touched every object that he ſaw, in the ſame manner as his hands might be ſaid to feel them. The objects that were moſt agreeable to him were ſuch as were of plain ſurfaces and regular figures; tho' he could as yet make no judgment whatever of their different forms, nor give a reaſon why one pleaſed him more than another. Although he could form ſome idea of colours during his ſtate of blindneſs, yet that was not ſufficient to direct him at preſent; and he could ſcarcely be perſuaded that the colours he now ſaw were the ſame with thoſe he had formerly conceived ſuch erroneous ideas of. He delighted moſt in green; but black objects, as if giving him an idea of his former blindneſs, he regarded with horror. He had, as was ſaid, no idea of forms; and was unable to diſtinguiſh one object from another, though never ſo different. When thoſe things were ſhown him, which he had been formerly familiarized to, by his feeling, he beheld them with earneſtneſs, in [Page 154] order to remember them a ſecond time; but, as he had too many to recollect at once, he forgot the greateſt number; and for one he could tell, after ſeeing, there was a thouſand he was totally unacquainted with. He was very much much ſurprized to find that theſe things and perſons he loved beſt were not the moſt beautiful to be ſeen; and even teſtified diſpleaſure in not finding his parents ſo handſome as he conceived them to be. It was near two months before he could find that a picture reſembled a ſolid body. Till then he only conſidered it as a flat ſurface, variouſly ſhadowed; but, when he began to perceive that theſe kind of ſhadings actually repreſented human beings, he then began to examine, by his touch, whether they had not the uſual qualities of ſuch bodies, and was greatly ſurprized to find, what he expected a very unequal ſurface to be ſmooth and even. He was then ſhewn a miniature picture of his father, which was contained in his mother's watch-caſe, and he readily perceived the reſemblance; but aſked, with great aſtoniſhment, how ſo large a face could be contained in ſo ſmall a compaſs. It ſeemed as ſtrange to him as if a buſhel was contained in a pint veſſel. At firſt, he could bear but a very ſmall quantity of light, and he ſaw every object much greater than the life; [Page 155] but, in proportion as he ſaw objects that were really large, he ſeemed to think the former were diminiſhed; and although he knew the chamber where he was contained in the houſe, yet, until he ſaw the latter, he could not be brought to conceive how an houſe could be larger than a chamber. Before the operation he had no great expectations from the pleaſure he ſhould receive from a new ſenſe; he was only excited by the hopes of being able to read and write; he ſaid, for inſtance, that he could have no greater pleaſure in walking, in the garden, with his ſight than he had without it, for he walked there at his eaſe, and was acquainted with all the walks. He remarked alſo, with great juſtice, that his former blindneſs gave him one advantage over the reſt of mankind, which was that of being able to walk in the night, with confidence and ſecurity. But, when he began to make uſe of his new ſenſe, he ſeemed tranſported beyond meaſure. He ſaid that every new object was a new ſource of delight, and that his pleaſure was ſo great as to be paſt expreſſion. About a year after, he was brought to Epſom, where there is a very fine proſpect, with which he ſeemed greatly charmed; and he called the landſcape before him a new method of ſeeing. He was couched [Page 156] in the other eye, a year after the former, and the operation ſucceeded equally well: when he ſaw with both eyes, he ſaid that objects appeared to him twice as large as when he ſaw but with one; however, he did not ſee them doubled, or at leaſt he ſhewed no marks as if he ſaw them ſo. Mr. Cheſelden mentions inſtances of many more that were reſtored to ſight in this manner; they all ſeemed to concur in their perceptions with this youth; and they all ſeemed particularly embarraſſed in learning how to direct their eyes to the objects they wiſhed to obſerve.
In this manner it is that our feeling corrects the ſenſe of ſeeing, and that objects which appear of very different ſizes, at different diſtances, are all reduced, by experience, to their natural ſtandard. ‘"But not the feeling only, but alſo the colour, and brightneſs of the object, contributes, in ſome meaſure, to aſſiſt us in forming an idea of the diſtance at which it appears*. Thoſe which we ſee moſt ſtrongly marked with light and ſhade, we readily know to be nearer than thoſe on which the colours are more faintly ſpread, and that, in ſome meaſure, take a part of their hue from the air [Page 157] between us and them. Bright objects alſo, are ſeen at a greater diſtance than ſuch as are obſcure, and, moſt probably, for this reaſon, that, being leſs ſimilar in colour to the air which interpoſes, their impreſſions are leſs effaced by it, and they continue more diſtinctly viſible. Thus a black and diſtant object is not ſeen ſo far off as a bright and glittering one; and a fire by night is ſeen much farther off than by day."’
The power of ſeeing objects at a diſtance is very rarely equal in both eyes. When this inequality is in any great degree, the perſon ſo circumſtanced then makes uſe only of one eye, ſhutting that which ſees the leaſt, and employing the other with all its power. And hence proceeds that aukward look which is known by the name of ſtrabiſm.
There are many reaſons to induce us to think that ſuch as are near ſighted ſee objects larger than other perſons; and yet the contrary is moſt certainly true, for they ſee them leſs. Mr. Buffon informs us that he himſelf is ſhort ſighted, and that his left eye is ſtronger than his right. He has very frequently experienced, upon looking at any object, ſuch as the letters of a book, that they appear leſs to the weakeſt eye; and that when he places the book, ſo as that the letters appear double, the images of [Page 158] the left eye, which is ſtrongeſt, are greater than thoſe of the right, which is the moſt feeble. He has examined ſeveral others, who were in ſimilar circumſtances, and has always found that the beſt eye ſaw every object the largeſt. This he aſcribes to habit; for near ſighted people being accuſtomed to come cloſe to the object, and view but a ſmall part of it at a time, the habit enſues, when the whole of an object is ſeen, and it appears leſs to them than to others.
Infants having their eyes leſs than thoſe of adults, muſt ſee objects alſo ſmaller in proportion. For the image formed on the back of the eye will be large, as the eye is capacious; and infants, having it not ſo great, cannot have ſo large a picture of the object. This may be a reaſon alſo why they are unable to ſee ſo diſtinctly, or at ſuch diſtances as perſons arrived at maturity.
Old men, on the contrary, ſee bodies cloſe to them very indiſtinctly, but bodies at a great diſtance from them with more preciſion; and this may happen from an alteration in the coats, or, perhaps, humours of the eye; and not, as is ſuppoſed, from their dimunition. The cornea, for inſtance, may become too rigid to adapt itſelf, and take a proper convexity for ſeeing [Page 159] minute objects; and its very flatneſs will be ſufficient to fit it for diſtant viſion.
When we caſt our eyes upon an object extremely brilliant, or when we fix and detain them too long upon the ſame object, the organ is hurt and fatigued, its viſion becomes indiſtinct, and the image of the body, which has thus too violently, or too perſeveringly employed us, is painted upon every thing we look at, and mixes with every object that occurs. ‘"And this is an obvious conſequence of the eye taking in too much light, either immediately, or by reflexion. Every body whatſoever that is expoſed to the light, for a time, drinks in a quantity of its rays, which, being brought into darkneſs, it cannot inſtantly diſcharge. Thus the hand, if it be expoſed to broad day light, for ſome time, and then immediately ſnatched into a dark room, will appear ſtill luminous; and it will be ſome time before it is totally darkened. It is thus with the eye; which, either by an inſtant gaze at the ſun, or a ſteady continuance, upon ſome leſs brilliant object, has taken in too much light; its humours are, for a while, unfit for viſion, until that be diſcharged, and room made for rays of a milder nature."’ How dangerous the looking upon bright and luminous objects is to the ſight, may be eaſily [Page 160] ſeen, from ſuch as live in countries, covered for moſt part of the year with ſnow, who become generally blind before their time. Travellers themſelves, who croſs theſe countries, are obliged to wear a crape before their eyes, to ſave their eyes, which would otherwiſe be rendered totally unſerviceable; and it is equally dangerous in the ſandy plains of Africa. The reflexion of the light is there ſo ſtrong that it is impoſſible to ſuſtain the effect, without incurring the danger of loſing one's ſight entirely. Such perſons, therefore, as read, or write for any continuance, ſhould chuſe a moderate light, in order to ſave their eyes; and, although it may ſeem inſufficient at firſt, the eye will accuſtom itſelf to the ſhade, by degrees, and be leſs hurt by the want of light than the exceſs.
"It is, indeed, ſurprizing how far the eye can accommodate itſelf to darkneſs, and make the beſt of a gloomy ſituation. When firſt taken from the light, and brought into a dark room, all things diſappear; or, if any thing is ſeen, it is only the remaining radiations that ſtill continue in the eye. But, after a very little time, when theſe are ſpent, the eye takes the advantage of the ſmalleſt ray that happens to enter; and this alone would, in time, ſerve for many of the purpoſes of life. There was a [Page 161] gentleman of great courage and underſtanding, as we are told, by Boyle, who wasa major under King Charles the Firſt. This unfortunate man ſharing in his maſter's misfortunes, and being forced abroad, ventured at Madrid to do his king a ſignal ſervice; but, unluckily, failed in the attempt. In conſequence of this, he was inſtantly ordered to a dark and diſmal dungeon, into which the light never entered, and into which there was no opening but by an hole at the top; down which the keeper put his proviſions, and preſently cloſed it again on the other ſide. In this manner the unfortunate loyaliſt continued for ſome weeks, diſtreſſed and diſconſolate; but, at laſt, began to think he ſaw ſome little glimmering of light. This internal dawn ſeemed to encreaſe from time to time, ſo that he could not only diſcover the parts of his bed, and ſuch other large objects, but, at length, he even began to perceive the mice that frequented his cell; and ſaw them as they ran about the floor, eating the crumbs of bread that happened to fall. After ſome months confinement he was at laſt ſet free; but, ſuch was the effect of the darkneſs upon him, that he could not for ſome days venture to leave his dungeon, but was obliged to accuſtom himſelf by degrees to the light of the day.
8. CHAP. VIII. Of Hearing*.[Page 162]
AS the ſenſe of hearing, as well as of ſight, gives us notice of remote objects, ſo, like that, it is ſubject to ſimilar errors, being capable of impoſing on us upon all occaſions, where we cannot rectify it by the ſenſe of feeling. We can have from it no diſtinct intelligence of the diſtance from whence a ſounding body is heard; a great noiſe far off, and a ſmall one very near, produce the ſame ſenſation; and, unleſs we receive information from ſome other ſenſe, we can never diſtinctly tell whether the ſound be a great or a ſmall one. It is not till we have learned, by experience, that the particular ſound which is heard, is of a peculiar kind; then we can judge of the diſtance from whence we hear it. When we know the tone of the bell, we can then judge how far it is from us.
Every body that ſtrikes againſt another produces a ſound, which is ſimple, and but one in bodies which are not elaſtic, but which is often repeated in ſuch as are. If we ſtrike a bell, or [Page 163] a ſtretched ſtring, for inſtance, which are both elaſtic, a ſingle blow produces a ſound, which is repeated by the undulations of the ſonorous body, and which is multiplied as often as it happens to undulate, or vibrate. Theſe undulations each ſtrike their own peculiar blow; but they ſucceed ſo faſt, one behind the other, that the ear ſuppoſes them one continued ſound; whereas, in reality, they make many. A perſon who ſhould, for the firſt time, hear the toll of the bell, would, very probably, be able to diſtinguiſh theſe breaks of ſound; and, in fact, we can readily ourſelves perceive an intenſion and remiſſion in the ſound.
In this manner, ſounding bodies are of two kinds; thoſe unelaſtic ones, which being ſtruck, return but a ſingle ſound; and thoſe more elaſtic returning a ſucceſſion of ſounds; which uniting together form a tone. This tone may be conſidered as a great number of ſounds, all produced one after the other, by the ſame body, as we find in a bell, or the ſtring of an harpſichord, which continues to ſound for ſome time after it is ſtruck. A continuing tone may be alſo produced from a nonelaſtic body, by repeating the blow quick and often, as when we beat a drum, or when we draw a bow along the ſtring of a fiddle.
[Page 164] Conſidering the ſubject in this light, if we ſhould multiply the number of blows, or repeat them at quicker intervals upon the ſounding body, as upon the drum, for inſtance, it is evident that this will have no effect in altering the tone; it will only make it either more even or more diſtinct. But it is otherwiſe, if we encreaſe the force of the blow; if we ſtrike the body with double weight, this will produce a tone twice as loud as the former. If, for inſtance, I ſtrike a table with a ſwitch, this will be very different from the ſound produced by ſtriking it with a cudgel. From hence, therefore, we may infer, that all bodies give a louder and graver tone, not in proportion to the number of times they are ſtruck, but in proportion to the force that ſtrikes them. And, if this be ſo, thoſe philoſophers who make the tone of a ſonorous body, of a bell, or the ſtring of an harpſichord, for inſtance, to depend upon the number only of its vibrations, and not the force, have miſtaken what is only an effect for a cauſe. A bell, or an elaſtic ſtring, can only be conſidered as a drum beaten; and the frequency of the blows can make no alteration whatſoever in the tone. The largeſt bells, and the longeſt and thickeſt ſtrings, have the moſt forceful vibrations; and, therefore, their tones are the moſt loud and the moſt grave.
[Page 165] To know the manner in which ſounds thus produced become pleaſing, it muſt be obſerved, no one continuing tone, how loud or ſwelling ſoever, can give us ſatisfaction; we muſt have a ſucceſſion of them, and thoſe in the moſt pleaſing proportion. The nature of this proportion may be thus conceived. If we ſtrike a body incapable of vibration with a double force, or, what amounts to the ſame thing, with a double maſs of matter, it will produce a ſound that will be doubly grave. Muſic has been ſaid, by the ancients, to have been firſt invented from the blows of different hammers on an anvil. Suppoſe then we ſtrike an anvil with an hammer of one pound weight, and again with an hammer of two pounds, it is plain that the two pound hammer will produce a ſound twice as grave as the former. But if we ſtrike with a two pound hammer, and then with a three pound, it is evident that the latter will produce a ſound one third more grave than the former. If we ſtrike the anvil with a three pound hammer, and then with a four pound, it will likewiſe follow that the latter will be a quarter part more grave than the former. Now, in the comparing between all thoſe ſounds, it is obvious that the difference between one and two is more eaſily perceived than between two [Page 166] and three, three and four, or any numbers ſucceeding in the ſame proportion. The ſucceſſion of ſounds will be, therefore, pleaſing in proportion to the eaſe with which they may be diſtinguiſhed. That ſound which is double the former, or, in other words, the octave to the preceding tone, will of all others be the moſt pleaſing harmony. The next to that, which is as two to three, or, in other words, the third, will be moſt agreeable. And thus univerſally, thoſe ſounds whoſe differences may be moſt eaſily compared are the moſt agreeable.
"Muſicians, therefore, have contented themſelves with ſeven different proportions of ſound, which are called notes, and which ſufficiently anſwer all the purpoſes of pleaſure. Not but that they might adopt a greater diverſity of proportions; and ſome have actually done ſo; but, in theſe, the differences of the proportion are ſo imperceptible, that the ear is rather fatigued than pleaſed in making the diſtinction. In order, however, to give variety, they have admitted half tones; but, in all the countries where muſic is yet in its infancy, they have rejected ſuch; and they can find muſic in none but the obvious ones. The Chineſe, for inſtance, have neither flats nor ſharps in their muſic; but the intervals between their other notes, are in the ſame proportion with ours.
[Page 167] "Many more barbarous nations have their peculiar inſtruments of muſic; and, what is remarkable, the proportion between their notes is in all the ſame as in ours. This is not the place for entering into the nature of theſe ſounds, their effects upon the air, or their conſonances with each other. We are not now giving an hiſtory of ſound, but of human perception.
"All countries are pleaſed with muſic; and, if they have not ſkill enough to produce harmony, at leaſt they ſeem willing to ſubſtitute noiſe. Without all queſtion, noiſe alone is ſufficient to operate powerfully on the ſpirits; and, if the mind be already prediſpoſed to joy, I have ſeldom found noiſe fail of encreaſing it into rapture. The mind feels a kind of diſtracted pleaſure in ſuch powerful ſounds, braces up every nerve, and riots in the exceſs. But, as in the eye, an immediate gaze upon the ſun will diſturb the organ, ſo, in the ear, a loud, unexpected noiſe, diſorders the whole frame, and ſometimes diſturbs the ſenſe ever after. The mind muſt have time to prepare for the expected ſhock, and to give its organs the proper tenſion for its arrival."
"Muſical ſounds, however, ſeem of a different kind. Theſe are generally moſt pleaſing, which are moſt unexpected. It is not from bracing [Page 168] up the nerves, but from the grateful ſucceſſion of the ſounds, that theſe become ſo charming. There are few, how indifferent ſoever, but have at times felt their pleaſing impreſſion; and, perhaps, even thoſe who have ſtood out againſt the powerful perſuaſion of ſounds, only wanted the proper tune, or the proper inſtrument, to allure them."
"The ancients give us a thouſand ſtrange inſtances of the effects of muſic, upon men and animals. The ſtory of Arion's harp, that gathered the dolphins to the ſhip ſide, is well known; and, what is remarkable, Schotteus aſſures us*, that he ſaw a ſimilar inſtance of fiſhes being allured by muſic, himſelf. They tell us of diſeaſes that have been cured, unchaſtity corrected, ſeditions quelled, paſſions removed, and ſometimes excited even to madneſs. Doctor Wallis has endeavoured to account for theſe ſurprizing effects, by aſcribing them to the novelty of the art. For my own part, I can ſcarce heſitate to impute them to the exaggeration of their writers. They are as hyperbolical in the effects of their oratory; and yet, we well know, there is nothing in the orations which they have left us, capable of exciting [Page 169] madneſs, or of raiſing the mind to that ungovernable degree of fury which they deſcribe. As they have exaggerated, therefore, in one inſtance, we may naturally ſuppoſe, that they have done the ſame in the other: and, indeed, from the few remains we have of their muſic, collected by Meibomius, one might be apt to ſuppoſe, there was nothing very powerful in what is loſt. Nor does any one of the ancient inſtruments, ſuch as we ſee them repreſented in ſtatues, appear comparable to our fiddle."
"However this be, we have many odd accounts, not only among them, but the moderns, of the power of muſic; and it muſt not be denied, but that, on ſome particular occaſions, muſical ſounds may have a very powerful effect. I have ſeen all the horſes and cows in a field, where there were above an hundred, gather round a perſon that was blowing the French horn, and ſeeming to teſtify an aukward kind of ſatisfaction. Dogs are well known to be very ſenſible of different tones in muſic; and I have ſometimes heard them ſuſtain a very ridiculous part in a concert, where their aſſiſtance was neither expected nor deſired."
"We are told*, of Henry IV. of Denmark, that being one day deſirous of trying in perſon [Page 170] whether a muſician who boaſted that he could excite men to madneſs, was not an impoſtor, he ſubmitted to the operation of his ſkill: but the conſequence was much more terrible than he expected; for, becoming actually mad, he killed four of his attendants, in the midſt of his tranſports. A contrary effect of muſic we have*, in the cure of a madman, of Alais, in France, by muſic. This man, who was a dancing-maſter, after a fever of five days, grew furious, and ſo ungovernable that his hands were obliged to be tied to his ſides: what at firſt was rage, in a ſhort time was converted into ſilent melancholy, which no arts could exhilerate, nor no medicines remove. In this ſullen and dejected ſtate, an old acquaintance accidentally came to enquire after his health; he found him ſitting up in bed, tied, and totally regardleſs of every external object round him. Happening, however, to take up a fiddle that lay in the room, and touching a favourite air, the poor madman inſtantly ſeemed to brighten up at the ſound; from a recumbent poſture, he began to ſit up; and as the muſician continued playing, the patient ſeemed deſirous of dancing to the ſound: but he was tied, and incapable of leaving his bed, ſo that he could [Page 171] only humour the tune with his head, and that part of his arms which were at liberty. Thus the other continued playing, and the dancing-maſter practiced his own art, as far as he was able, for about a quarter of an hour, when ſuddenly falling into a deep ſleep, in which his diſorder came to a criſis, he awaked perfectly recovered."
"A thouſand other inſtances might be added, equally true: let it ſuffice to add one more, which is not true; I mean that of the tarantula. Every perſon who has been in Italy, now well knows, that the bite of this animal, and its being cured by muſic, is all a deception. When ſtrangers come into that part of the country, the country people are ready enough to take money for dancing to the tarantula. A friend of mine had a ſervant who ſuffered himſelf to be bit; the wound, which was little larger than the puncture of a pin, was uneaſy for a few hours, and then became well without any farther aſſiſtance. Some of the country people, however, ſtill make a tolerable livelihood of the credulity of ſtrangers, as the muſician finds his account in it not leſs than the dancer."
Sounds, like light, are not only extenſively diffuſed, but are frequently reflected. The laws of this reflection, it is true, are not as well [Page 172] underſtood as thoſe of light; all we know is, that ſound is principally reflected by hard bodies; and their being hollow alſo, ſometimes encreaſes the reverberation. ‘"No art, however, can make an echo; and ſome, who have beſtowed great labour and expence upon ſuch a project, have only erected ſhapeleſs buildings, whoſe ſilence was a mortifying lecture upon their preſumption."’
The internal cavity of the ear ſeems to be fitted up for the purpoſes of ecchoing ſound with the greateſt preciſion. This part is faſhioned out in the temporal bone, like a cavern cut into a rock. ‘"In this the ſound is repeated and articulated; and, as ſome anatomiſts tell us, (for we have as yet but very little knowledge on this ſubject) is beaten againſt the tympanum, or drum of the ear, which moves four little bones joined thereto; and theſe move and agitate the internal air which lies on the other ſide; and, laſtly, this air ſtrikes and affects the auditory nerves, which carry the ſound to the brain."’
One of the moſt common diſorders in old age is deafneſs; which probably proceeds from the rigidity of the nerves in the labyrinth of the ear. This diſorder alſo, ſometimes proceeds from a ſtoppage of the wax, which art [Page 173] may eaſily remedy. In order to know whether the defect be an internal or an external one, let the deaf perſon put a repeating watch into his mouth; and if he hears it ſtrike, he may be aſſured that his diſorder proceeds from an external cauſe, and is, in ſome meaſure, curable: ‘"for there is a paſſage from the ears into the mouth, by what anatomiſts call the euſtachian tube; and, by this paſſage, people often hear ſounds, when they are utterly without hearing through the larger channel: and this alſo is the reaſon that we often ſee perſons who liſten with great attention, hearken with their mouths open, in order to catch all the ſound at every apperture."’
It often happens, that perſons hear differently with one ear from the other; and it is generally found that theſe have what is called, by muſicians, a bad ear. Mr. Buffon, who has made many trials upon perſons, of this kind, always found that their defect in judging properly of ſounds, proceeded from the inequality of their ears; and receiving by both, at the ſame time, unequal ſenſations, they form an unjuſt idea. In this manner, as thoſe people hear falſe, they alſo, without knowing it, ſing falſe. Thoſe perſons alſo frequently deceive themſelves with regard to the ſide from whence the ſound [Page 174] comes, generally ſuppoſing the noiſe to come on the part of the beſt ear.
Such as are hard of hearing, find the ſame advantage in the trumpet made for this purpoſe, that ſhort-ſighted perſons do from glaſſes. Theſe trumpets might be eaſily enlarged, ſo as to encreaſe ſounds, in the ſame manner that the teleſcope does bodies: however, they could be uſed to advantage only in a place of ſolitude and ſtillneſs, as the neighbouring ſounds would mix with the more diſtant, and the whole would produce in the ear nothing but tumult and confuſion.
Hearing is a much more neceſſary ſenſe to man than to animals. With theſe it is only a warning againſt danger, or an encouragement to mutual aſſiſtance. In man, it is the ſource of moſt of his pleaſures; and without which, the reſt of his ſenſes would be of little benefit. A man born deaf, muſt neceſſarily be dumb; and his whole ſphere of knowledge muſt be bounded only by ſenſual objects. We have an inſtance of a young man who, being born deaf, was reſtored, at the age of twenty-four, to perfect hearing: the account is given in the Memoirs of the Academy of Sciences, 1703, page 18.
A young man, of the town of Chartres, [Page 175] between the age of twenty-three and twenty-four, the ſon of a tradeſman, and deaf and dumb from his birth, began to ſpeak all of a ſudden, to the great aſtoniſhment of the whole town. He gave them to underſtand that, about three or four months before, he had heard the ſound of the bells for the firſt time, and was greatly ſurprized at this new and unknown ſenſation. After ſome time, a kind of water iſſued from his left ear, and he then heard perfectly well with both. During theſe three months, he was ſedulouſly employed in liſtening without ſaying a word, and accuſtoming himſelf to ſpeak ſoftly, ſo as not to be heard, the words pronounced by others. He laboured hard alſo in perfecting himſelf in the pronunciation, and in the ideas attached to every ſound. At length, having ſuppoſed himſelf qualified to break ſilence, he declared, that he could now ſpeak, although as yet but imperfectly. Soon after, ſome able divines queſtioned him concerning his ideas of his paſt ſtate; and principally with reſpect to God, his ſoul, the morality or turpitude of actions. The young man, however, had not driven his ſolitary ſpeculations into that channel. He had gone to maſs indeed with his parents, had learned to ſign himſelf with the croſs, to kneel down and [Page 176] aſſume all the grimaces of a man that was praying; but he did all this without any manner of knowledge of the intention or the cauſe; he ſaw others do the like, and that was enough for him; he knew nothing even of death, and it never entered into his head; he led a life of pure animal inſtinct; entirely taken up with ſenſible objects, and ſuch as were preſent, he did not ſeem even to make as many reflections upon theſe, as might reaſonably be expected from his improving ſituation: and yet, the young man was not in want of underſtanding; but the underſtanding of a man, deprived of all commerce with others, is ſo very confined, that the mind is in ſome meaſure totally under the control of its immediate ſenſations.
Notwithſtanding, it is very poſſible to communicate ideas to deaf men, which they previouſly wanted, and even give them very preciſe notions of ſome abſtract ſubjects, by means of ſigns, and of letters. A perſon born deaf, may, by time, and ſufficient pains, be taught to write and read, to ſpeak, and, by the motions of the lips, to underſtand what is ſaid to him: however, it is probable that, as moſt of the motions of ſpeech are made within the mouth by the tongue, the knowledge from the motion of the lips, is but very confined: ‘"nevertheleſs, [Page 177] I have converſed with a gentleman thus taught, and in all the commonly occurring queſtions, and the uſual ſalutations, he was ready enough, merely by attending to the motion of the lips alone. When I ventured to ſpeak for a ſhort continuance, he was totally at a loſs, although he underſtood the ſubject, when written, extremely well."’ Perſons taught in this manner, were at firſt conſidered as prodigies; but there have been ſo many inſtances of ſucceſs of late, and ſo many are ſkilful in the art of inſtructing in this way, that, though ſtill a matter of ſome curioſity, it ceaſes to be an object of wonder.
AN animal may be ſaid to fill up that ſphere which he can reach by his ſenſes; and is actually large in proportion to the ſphere to which its organ extends. By ſight, man's enjoyments are diffuſed into a wide circle; that of hearing, tho' leſs widely diffuſed, nevertheleſs extends his powers; the ſenſe of ſmelling is more contracted ſtill; and the taſte and touch are the moſt confined of all. Thus man enjoys very diſtant objects, but with one ſenſe only; more nearly he brings two ſenſes at once to bear upon them; his ſenſe of ſmelling aſſiſts the other two, at its own diſtance; and of ſuch objects, as a man, he may be ſaid to be in perfect poſſeſſion.
Each ſenſe, however, the more it acts at a diſtance, the more capable it is of making combinations; and is, conſequently, the more improveable. Refined imaginations, and men of ſtrong minds, take more pleaſure, therefore, in improving the delights of the diſtant ſenſes, than in enjoying ſuch as are ſcarce capable of improvement.
By combining the objects of the extenſive [Page 179] ſenſes, all the arts of poetry, painting, and harmony, have been diſcovered; but the cloſer ſenſes, if I may ſo call them, ſuch as ſmelling, taſting, and touching, are, in ſome meaſure, as ſimple as they are limited, and admit of little variety. The man of imagination makes a great and an artificial happineſs, by the pleaſure of altering and combining; the ſenſualiſt juſt ſtops where he began, and cultivates only thoſe pleaſures which he cannot improve. The ſenſualiſt is contented with thoſe enjoyments that are already made to his hand; but the man of pleaſure is beſt pleaſed with growing happineſs.
Of all the ſenſes, perhaps, there is not one in which man is more inferior to other animals than in that of ſmelling. With man, it is a ſenſe that acts in a narrow ſphere, and diſguſts almoſt as frequently as it gives him pleaſure. With many other animals it is diffuſed to a very great extent; and never ſeems to offend them. Dogs not only trace the ſteps of other animals, but alſo diſcover them by the ſcent, at a very great diſtance; and, while they are thus exquiſitely ſenſible of all ſmells, they ſeem no way diſguſted by any.
But, although this ſenſe is, in general, ſo very inferior in man, it is much ſtronger in thoſe nations that abſtain from animal [Page 180] food, than among us of Europe. The Bramins of India have a power of ſmelling, as I am informed, equal to what it is in moſt other creatures. They can ſmell the water which they drink, that to us ſeems quite inodorous; and have a word, in their language, which denotes a country of fine water. We are told, alſo, that the Negroes of the Antilles, by the ſmell alone, can diſtinguiſh between the footſteps of a Frenchman and a Negro. It is poſſible, therefore, that we may dull this organ by our luxurious way of living; and ſacrifice to the pleaſures of taſte thoſe which might be received from perfume.
However, it is a ſenſe that we can, in ſome meaſure, diſpenſe with; and I have known many that wanted it entirely, with but very little inconvenience from its loſs. In a ſtate of nature it is ſaid to be uſeful to us, in guiding us to proper nouriſhment, and deterring us from that which is unwholeſome; but, in our preſent ſituation, ſuch information is but little wanted; and, indeed, but little attended to. In fact, the ſenſe of ſmelling gives us very often falſe intelligence. Many things that have a diſagreeable odour are, nevertheleſs, wholeſome, and pleaſant to the taſte; and ſuch as make eating an art, ſeldom think a meal fit to pleaſe the appetite [Page 181] till it begins to offend the noſe. On the other hand, there are many things that ſmell moſt gratefully, and yet are noxious, or fatal to the conſtitution. Some phyſicians think that all perfumes, in general, are unwholeſome; that they relax the nerves, produce head aches, and even retard digeſtion. The machinel apple, which is known to be deadly poiſon, is poſſeſſed of the moſt grateful odour. Some of thoſe mineral vapours that are often found fatal, in the ſtomach, ſmell like the ſweeteſt flowers, and continue thus to flatter till they deſtroy. This ſenſe, therefore, as it ſhould ſeem, was never meant to direct us in the choice of food, but appears rather as an attendant than a neceſſary pleaſure.
Indeed, if we examine the natives of different countries, or even different natives of the ſame, we ſhall find no pleaſure in which they differ ſo widely as that of ſmelling. Some perſons are pleaſed with the ſmell of a roſe; while I have known others that could not abide to have it approach them. The ſavage nations are highly delighted with the ſmell of aſſafoetida, which is to us the moſt nauſeous ſtink in nature. It would in a manner ſeem that our delight in perfumes was made by habit; and that a very little [Page 182] induſtry could bring us totally to invert the perception of odours.
Thus much is certain, that many bodies which at one diſtance are an agreeable perfume, when nearer are a moſt ungrateful odour. Muſk, and ambergreaſe, in ſmall quantities, are conſidered by moſt perſons as highly fragrant; and yet, when in larger maſſes, their ſcent is inſufferable. From a mixture of two bodies, each whereof is, of itſelf, void of all ſmell, a very powerful ſmell may be drawn. Thus, by grinding quick lime with ſal-ammoniac, may be produced a very foetid mixture. On the contrary, from a mixture of two bodies, that are ſeparately diſagreeable, a very pleaſant aromatic odour may be gained. A mixture of aqua fortis with ſpirit of wine produces this effect. But not only the alterations of bodies, by each other, but the ſmalleſt change in us, makes a very great alteration in this ſenſe, and frequently deprives us of it totally. A ſlight cold often hinders us from ſmelling; and as often changes the nature of odours. Some perſons, from diſorder, retain an incurable averſion to thoſe ſmells which moſt pleaſed them before; and many have been known to have an antipathy to ſome animals, whoſe preſence they inſtantly perceive by the ſmell. From all this, therefore, the ſenſe of [Page 183] ſmelling appears to be an uncertain monitor, eaſily diſordered, and not much miſſed when totally wanting.
The ſenſe moſt nearly allied to ſmelling is that of taſting. This, ſome have been willing to conſider merely as a nicer kind of touch, and have undertaken to account, in a very mechanical manner, for the difference of ſavours. Such bodies, ſaid they, as are pointed, happening to be applied to the papillae of the tongue, excite a very powerful ſenſation, and give us the idea of ſaltneſs. Such, on the contrary, as are of a rounder figure, ſlide ſmoothly along the papillae, and are perceived to be ſweet. In this manner they have, with minute labour, gone through the variety of imagined forms in bodies, and have given them as imaginary effects. All we can preciſely determine upon the nature of taſtes is, that the bodies to be taſted muſt be either ſomewhat moiſtened, or, in ſome meaſure, diſſolved by the ſaliva before they can produce a proper ſenſation: when both the tongue itſelf, and the body to be taſted, are extremely dry, no taſte whatever enſues. The ſenſation is then changed; and the tongue, inſtead of taſting, can only be ſaid, like any other part of the body, to feel the object.
[Page 184] It is for this reaſon, that children have a ſtronger reliſh of taſtes than thoſe who are more advanced in life. This organ with them, from the greater moiſture of their bodies, is kept in greater perfection; and is, conſequently, better adapted to perform its functions. Every perſon remembers how great a pleaſure he found in ſweets, while a child; but his taſte growing more obtuſe, with age, he is obliged to uſe artificial means to excite it. It is then that he is found to call in the aſſiſtance of poignant ſauces, and ſtrong reliſhes, of ſalts and aromatics; all which the delicacy of his tender organ, in childhood, were unable to endure. His taſte grows callous to the natural reliſhes; and is artificially formed to others more unnatural; ſo that the higheſt epicure may be ſaid to have the moſt depraved taſte; as it is owing to the bluntneſs of his organs that he is obliged to have recourſe to ſuch a variety of expedients, to gratify his appetite.
As ſmells are often rendered agreeable by habit, ſo alſo taſtes may be. Tobacco, and coffee, ſo pleaſing to many, are yet, at firſt, very diſagreeable to all. It is not without perſeverance that we begin to have a reliſh for them; we force nature ſo long, that what was conſtraint, in the beginning, at laſt becomes inclination.
[Page 185] The groſſeſt, and yet the moſt uſeful of all the ſenſes, is that of feeling. We are often ſeen to ſurvive under the loſs of the reſt; but of this we can never be totally deprived, but with life. Although this ſenſe is diffuſed over all parts of the body, yet it moſt frequently happens that thoſe parts which are moſt exerciſed in touching, acquire the greateſt degree of accuracy. Thus the fingers, by long habit, become greater maſters in the art than any others, even where the ſenſation is more delicate and fine*. It is from this habit, therefore, and their peculiar formation, and not, as is ſuppoſed, from their being furniſhed with a greater quantity of nerves, that the fingers are thus perfectly qualified to judge of forms. Blind men, who are obliged to uſe them much oftener than we, have this ſenſe much finer; ſo that the delicacy of the touch ariſes rather from the habit of conſtantly employing the fingers, than from any fancied nervouſneſs in their conformation.
All animals that are furniſhed with hands†, ſeem to have more underſtanding than others. Monkeys have ſo many actions, like thoſe of men, that they appear to have ſimilar ideas of the form of bodies. All other creatures, deprived of hands, can have no diſtinct ideas of [Page 186] the ſhape of the objects, by which they are ſurrounded, as they want this organ, which ſerves to examine and meaſure their forms, their riſings and depreſſions. A quadrupede probably conceives as erroneous an idea of any thing near him, as a child would of a rock, or a mountain, that it beheld at a diſtance. It may be for this reaſon, that we often ſee them frighted at things with which they ought to be better acquainted. Fiſhes, whoſe bodies are covered with ſcales, and who have no organs for feeling, muſt be the moſt ſtupid of all animals. Serpents, that are likewiſe deſtitute, are yet, by winding round ſeveral bodies, better capable of judging of their form. All theſe, however, can have but very imperfect ideas from feeling; and we have already ſeen, when deprived of this ſenſe, how little the reſt of the ſenſes are to be relied on.
The feeling, therefore, is the guardian, the judge, and the examiner of all the reſt of the ſenſes. It eſtabliſhes their information, and detects their errors. All the other ſenſes are altered by time, and contradict their former evidence; but the touch ſtill continues the ſame; and though extremely confined in its operations, yet it is never found to deceive. The univerſe, to a man who had only uſed the reſt of his ſenſes, would be but a ſcene of illuſion; [Page 187] every object miſrepreſented, and all its properties unknown. Mr. Buffon has imagined a man juſt newly brought into exiſtence, deſcribing the illuſion of his firſt ſenſations, and pointing out the ſteps by which he arrived at reality. He conſiders him as juſt created, and awaking amidſt the productions of Nature; and, to animate the narrative ſtill more ſtrongly, has made his philoſophical man a ſpeaker. The reader will no doubt recollect Adam's ſpeech in Milton, as being ſimilar. All that I can ſay to obviate the imputation of plagiariſm is, that the one treats the ſubject more as a poet, the other more as a philoſopher. The philoſopher's man deſcribes his firſt ſenſations in the following manner*.
I well remember that joyful anxious moment when I firſt became acquainted with my own exiſtence. I was quite ignorant of what I was, how I was produced, or from whence I came. I opened my eyes: what an addition to my ſurprize! the light of the day, the azure vault of heaven, the verdure of the earth, the chryſtal of the waters, all employed me at once, and animated and filled me with inexpreſſible delight. I at firſt imagined that all thoſe objects [Page 188] were within me, and made a part of myſelf.
Impreſſed with this idea, I turned my eyes to the ſun; its ſplendor dazzled and overpowered me: I ſhut them once more; and, to my great concern, I ſuppoſed that, during this ſhort interval of darkneſs, I was again returning to nothing.
Afflicted, ſeized with aſtoniſhment, I pondered a moment on this great change, when I heard a variety of unexpected ſounds. The whiſtling of the wind, and the melody of the grove, formed a concert, the ſoft cadence of which ſunk upon my ſoul. I liſtened for ſome time, and was perſuaded that all this muſic was within me.
Quite occupied with this new kind of exiſtence, I had already forgotten the light which was my firſt inlet into life; when I once more opened my eyes, and found myſelf again in poſſeſſion of my former happineſs. The gratification of the two ſenſes at once, was a pleaſure too great for utterance.
[Page 189] I now began to gaze without emotion, and to hearken with tranquillity, when a light breeze, the freſhneſs of which charmed me, wafted its perfumes to my ſenſe of ſmelling, and gave me ſuch ſatisfaction as even encreaſed my ſelf-love.
I had ſcarce proceeded forward, when the novelty of my ſituation once more rendered me immoveable. My ſurprize returned; I ſuppoſed that every object around me had been in motion: I gave to them that agitation which I produced by changing place; and the whole creation ſeemed once more in diſorder.
I lifted my hand to my head; I touched my forehead; I felt my whole frame: I then ſuppoſed that my hand was the principal organ of my exiſtence; all its informations were diſtinct and perfect; and ſo ſuperior to the ſenſes I had yet experienced, that I employed myſelf for ſome time in repeating its enjoyments: every part of my perſon I touched, ſeemed to touch my hand in turn; and gave back ſenſation for ſenſation.
I ſoon found, that this faculty was expanded over the whole ſurface of my body; and I now [Page 190] firſt began to perceive the limits of my exiſtence, which I had in the beginning ſuppoſed ſpread over all the objects I ſaw.
Upon caſting my eyes upon my body, and ſurveying my own form, I thought it greater than all the objects that ſurrounded me. I gazed upon my perſon with pleaſure; I examined the formation of my hand, and all its motions; it ſeemed to me large or little in proportion as I approached it to my eyes; I brought it very near, and it then hid almoſt every other object from my ſight. I began ſoon, however, to find that my ſight gave me uncertain information, and reſolved to depend upon my feeling for redreſs.
This precaution was of the utmoſt ſervice; I renewed my motions, and walked forward with my face turned towards the heavens. I happened to ſtrike lightly againſt a palm-tree, and this renewed my ſurprize: I laid my hand on this ſtrange body; it ſeemed replete with new wonders, for it did not return me ſenſation for ſenſation, as my former feelings had done. I now, therefore, perceived that there was ſomething external, and which did not make a part of my own exiſtence.
I now, therefore, reſolved to touch whatever I ſaw, and vainly attempted to touch the ſun; [Page 191] I ſtretched forth my arm, and felt only yielding air: at every effort, I fell from one ſurprize into another, for every object appeared equally near me; and it was not till after an infinity of trials, that I found ſome objects further removed than the reſt.
Amazed with the illuſions, and the uncertainty of my ſtate, I ſat down beneath a tree; the moſt beautiful fruits hung upon it, within my reach; I ſtretched forth my hand, and they inſtantly ſeparated from the branch. I was proud of being able to graſp a ſubſtance without me; I held them up, and their weight appeared to me like an animated power that endeavoured to draw them to the earth. I found a pleaſure in conquering their reſiſtance.
I held them near my eye; I conſidered their form and beauty; their fragrance ſtill more allured me to bring them nearer; I approached them to my lips, and drank in their odours; the perfume invited my ſenſe of taſting, and I ſoon tried a new ſenſe—How new! how exquiſite! Hitherto I had taſted only of pleaſure; but now it was luxury. The power of taſting gave me the idea of poſſeſſion.
Flattered with this new acquiſition, I continued its exerciſe, till an agreeable languor ſtealing upon my mind, I felt all my limbs [Page 192] become heavy, and all my deſires ſuſpended. My ſenſations were now no longer vivid and diſtinct; but ſeemed to loſe every object, and preſented only feeble images, confuſedly marked. At that inſtant I ſunk upon the flowery bank, and ſlumber ſeized me. All now ſeemed once more loſt to me. It was then as if I was returning into my former nothing. How long my ſleep continued, I cannot tell; as I yet had no perception of time. My awaking appeared like a ſecond birth; and I then perceived that I had ceaſed for a time to exiſt. This produced a new ſenſation of fear; and from this interruption in life, I began to conclude that I was not formed to exiſt for ever.
In this ſtate of doubt and perplexity, I began to harbour new ſuſpicions; and to fear that ſleep had robbed me of ſome of my late powers; when, turning on one ſide, to reſolve my doubts, what was my amazement, to behold another being, like myſelf, ſtretched by my ſide! New ideas now began to ariſe; new paſſions, as yet unperceived, with fears, and pleaſures, all took poſſeſſion of my mind, and prompted my curioſity: love ſerved to complete that happineſs which was begun in the individual; and every ſenſe was gratified in all its varieties.
10. CHAP. X. Of old Age and Death*.[Page 193]
EVERY thing in nature has its improvement and decay. The human form is no ſooner arrived at its ſtate of perfection than it begins to decline. The alteration is, at firſt, inſenſible; and, often, ſeveral years are elapſed before we find ourſelves grown old. The news of this diſagreeable change, too generally, comes from without; and we learn from others that we grow old, before we are willing to believe the report.
When the body has come to its full height, and is extended into its juſt dimenſions; it then alſo begins to receive an additional bulk, which rather loads than aſſiſts it. This is formed from fat; which generally, at the age of thirty-five, or forty, covers all the muſcles, and interrupts their activity. Every action is then performed with greater labour, and the encreaſe of ſize only ſerves as a forerunner of decay.
The bones, alſo, become every day more ſolid. In the embryo they are as ſoft almoſt as the muſcles and the fleſh; but, by degrees, [Page 194] they harden, and acquire their natural vigour; but ſtill, however, the circulation is carried on through them; and, how hard ſoever the bones may ſeem, yet the blood holds its current through them as through all other parts of the body. Of this we may be convinced, by an experiment, which was firſt accidentally diſcovered, by our ingenious countryman Mr. Belcher. Perceiving, at a friend's houſe, that the bones of hogs, which were fed upon madder, were red, he tried it upon various animals, by mixing this root with their uſual food; and he found that it tinctured the bones in all: an evident demonſtration that the juices of the body had a circulation through the bones. He fed ſome animals alternately upon madder and their common food, for ſome time, and he found their bones tinctured with alternate layers, in conformity to their manner of living. From all this, he naturally concluded, that the blood circulated through the bones as it does through every other part of the body; and that, how ſolid ſoever they ſeemed, yet, like the ſofteſt parts, they were furniſhed, through all their ſubſtance, with their proper canals. Nevertheleſs, theſe canals are of very different capacities, during the different ſtages of life. In infancy they are capacious; and the blood flows [Page 195] almoſt as freely through the bones as through any other part of the body; in manhood their ſize is greatly diminiſhed; the veſſels are almoſt imperceptible; and the circulation through them is proportionably ſlow. But, in the decline of life, the blood, which flows through the bones, no longer contributing to their growth, muſt neceſſarily ſerve to encreaſe their hardneſs. The channels, that every where run through the human frame, may be compared to thoſe pipes that we every where ſee cruſted on the inſide, by the water, for a long continuance, running through them. Both, every day grow leſs and leſs, by the ſmall rigid particles which are depoſited within them. Thus as the veſſels are by degrees diminiſhed, the juices, alſo, which were neceſſary for the circulation through them, are diminiſhed in proportion; till, at length, in old age, thoſe props of the human frame are not only more ſolid but more brittle.
The cartilages, or griſtles, which may be conſidered as bones beginning to be formed, grow alſo more rigid. The juices circulating through them, for there is a circulation through all parts of the body, every day contributes to render them harder; ſo that theſe ſubſtances, which in youth are elaſtic, and pliant in age, become hard and bony. As theſe cartilages [Page 196] are generally placed near the joints, the motion of the joints alſo, muſt, of conſequence, become more difficult. Thus, in old age, every action of the body is performed with labour; and the cartilages, formerly ſo ſupple, will now ſooner break than bend.
‘"As the cartilages acquire hardneſs, and unfit the joints for motion, ſo alſo that mucous liquor, which is always ſeparated between the joints, and which ſerves, like oil to an hinge, to give them an eaſy and ready play, is now grown more ſcanty. It becomes thicker, and more clammy, more unfit for anſwering the purpoſes of motion; and from thence, in old age, every joint is not only ſtiff, but aukward. At every motion, this clammy liquor is heard to crack; and it is not without the greateſt effort of the muſcles that its reſiſtance is overcome. I have ſeen an old perſon, that never moved a ſingle joint that did not thus give notice of the violence that was done it."’
The membranes that cover the bones, the joints, and the reſt of the body, become, as we grow old, more denſe and more dry. Theſe which ſurround the bones, ſoon ceaſe to be ductile. The fibres, of which the muſcles or fleſh is compoſed, become every day more rigid; and, while to the touch the body ſeems, as we advance [Page 197] in years, to grow ſofter, it is, in reality, encreaſing in hardneſs. It is the ſkin, and not the fleſh, that we feel upon ſuch occaſions. The fat, and the flabbineſs of that, ſeems to give an appearance of ſoftneſs, which the fleſh itſelf is very far from having. There are few can doubt this after trying the difference between the fleſh of young and old animals. The firſt is ſoft and tender, the laſt is hard and dry.
The ſkin is the only part of the body that age does not contribute to harden. That ſtretches to every degree of tenſion; and we have horrid inſtances of its pliancy, in many diſorders incident to humanity. In youth, therefore, while the body is vigorous and encreaſing, it ſtill gives way to its growth. But, although it thus adapts itſelf to our encreaſe, it does not in the ſame manner conform to our decay. The ſkin, which in youth was filled, and gloſſy, when the body begins to decline, has not elaſticity enough to ſhrink entirely with its dimunition. It hangs, therefore, in wrinkles, which no art can remove. The wrinkles of the body, in general, proceed from this cauſe. But thoſe of the face ſeem to proceed from another; namely, from the many varieties of poſitions into which it is put by the ſpeech, the food, or the paſſions. Every grimace, and every [Page 198] paſſion wrinkles up the viſage into different forms. Theſe are viſible enough in young perſons; but what at firſt was accidental, or tranſitory, becomes unalterably fixed in the viſage as it grows older. ‘"From hence we may conclude, that a freedom from paſſions not only adds to the happineſs of the mind, but preſerves the beauty of the face; and the perſon that has not felt their influence, is leſs ſtrongly marked by the decays of nature."’
Hence, therefore, as we advance in age, the bones, the cartilages, the membranes, the fleſh, the ſkin, and every fibre of the body, becomes more ſolid, more brittle, and more dry. Every part ſhrinks, every motion becomes more ſlow; the circulation of the fluids is performed with leſs freedom; perſpiration diminiſhes; the ſecretions alter; the digeſtion becomes ſlow and laborious; and the juices no longer ſerving to convey their accuſtomed nouriſhment, thoſe parts may be ſaid to live no longer when the circulation ceaſes. Thus the body dies by little and little; all its functions are diminiſhed by degrees; life is driven from one part of the frame to another; univerſal rigidity prevails; and death at laſt ſeizes upon the little that is left.
As the bones, the cartilages, the muſcles, [Page 199] and all other parts of the body, are ſofter in women than in men, theſe parts muſt, of conſequence require a longer time to come to that hardneſs which haſtens death. Women, therefore, ought to be a longer time in growing old than men; and this is actually the caſe. If we conſult the tables which have been drawn up reſpecting human life, we ſhall find, that after a certain age they are more long lived than men, all other circumſtances the ſame. A woman of ſixty has a better chance than a man of the ſame age to live till eighty. Upon the whole we may infer, that ſuch perſons as have been ſlow in coming up to maturity, will alſo be ſlow in growing old; and this holds as well with regard to other animals as to man.
The whole duration of the life of either vegetables, or animals, may be, in ſome meaſure, determined from their manner of coming to maturity. The tree, or the animal, which takes but a ſhort time to encreaſe to its utmoſt pitch, periſhes much ſooner than ſuch as are leſs premature. In both, the encreaſe upwards is firſt accompliſhed; and not till they have acquired their greateſt degree of height do they begin to ſpread in bulk. Man grows in ſtature till about the age of ſeventeen; but his body is not completely [Page 200] developed till about thirty. Dogs, on the other hand, are at their utmoſt ſize, in a year, and become as bulky as they uſually are in another. However, man who is ſo long in growing continues to live for fourſcore, or an hundred years; but the dog ſeldom above twelve, or thirteen. In general, alſo, it may be ſaid that large animals live longer than little ones, as they uſually take a larger time to grow. But in all animals one thing is equally certain, that they carry the cauſes of their own decay about them; and that their deaths are neceſſary and inevitable. The proſpects which ſome viſionaries have formed of perpetuating life by remedies, have been often enough proved falſe by their own example. Such unaccountable ſchemes would, therefore, have died with them, had not the love of life always augmented our credulity.
When the body is naturally well formed, it is poſſible to lengthen out the period of life for ſome years by management. Temperance in diet is often found conducive to this end. The famous Cornaro, who lived to above an hundred years, although his conſtitution was naturally feeble, is a ſtrong inſtance of the benefit of an abſtemious life. Moderation in the paſſions alſo may contribute to extend the term of our exiſtence. [Page 201] ‘"Fontenelle, the celebrated writer, was naturally of a very weak and delicate habit of body. He was affected by the ſmalleſt irregularities; and had frequently ſuffered ſevere fits of illneſs from the ſlighteſt cauſes. But the remarkable equality of his temper, and his ſeeming want of paſſion, lengthened out his life to above an hundred. It was remarkable of him, that nothing could vex or make him uneaſy; every occurrence ſeemed equally pleaſing; and no event, however unfortunate, ſeemed to come unexpected."’ However, the term of life can be prolonged but for a very little time by any art we can uſe. We are told of men who have lived beyond the ordinary duration of human exiſtence; ſuch as Par, who lived to an hundred and forty-four; and Jenkins to an hundred and ſixty-five; yet theſe men uſed no peculiar arts to prolong life; on the contrary, it appears that theſe, as well as ſome others, remarkable for their longevity, were peaſants accuſtomed to the greateſt fatigues, who had no ſettled rules of diet, but who often indulged in accidental exceſſes. Indeed, if we conſider that the European, the Negroe, the Chineſe, and the American, the civilized man, and the ſavage, the rich and the poor, the inhabitant of the city, and of the country, though all ſo different in other reſpects, [Page 202] are yet entirely ſimilar in the period allotted them for living; if we conſider that neither the difference of race, of climate, of nouriſhment, of convenience, or of ſoil, makes any difference in the term of life; if we conſider that thoſe men who live upon raw fleſh, or dried fiſhes, upon ſeago, or rice, upon caſſava, or upon roots, nevertheleſs live as long as thoſe who are fed upon bread and meat, we ſhall readily be brought to acknowledge, that the duration of life depends neither upon habit, cuſtoms, or the quantity of food; we ſhall confeſs, that nothing can change the laws of that mechaniſm which regulates the number of our years, and which can chiefly be affected only by long faſting, or great exceſs.
If there be any difference in the different periods of man's exiſtence, it ought principally to be aſcribed to the quality of the air. It has been obſerved, that in elevated ſituations there have been found more old people than in thoſe that were low. The mountains of Scotland, Wales, Auvergne, and Switzerland, have furniſhed more inſtances of extreme old age than the plains of Holland, Flanders, Germany, or Poland. But, in general, the duration of life is nearly the ſame in moſt countries. Man, if not cut off by accidental diſeaſes, is generally [Page 203] found to live to ninety or an hundred years. Our anceſtors did not live beyond that date; and, ſince the times of David, this term has made but little alteration.
If we be aſked how in the beginning men lived ſo much longer than at preſent, and by what means their lives were extended to nine hundred and thirty, or even nine hundred and ſixty years, it may be anſwered, that the productions of the earth, upon which they fed, might be of a different nature at that time, from what they are at preſent. ‘"It may be anſwered, that the term was abridged by Divine command, in order to keep the earth from being over-ſtocked with human inhabitants; ſince, if every perſon were now to live and generate for nine hundred years, mankind would be encreaſed to ſuch a degree, that there would be no room for ſubſiſtence: ſo that the plan of Providence would be altered; which is ſeen not to produce life, without providing a proper ſupply."’
But, to whatever extent life may be prolonged, or however ſome may have delayed the effects of age, death is the certain goal to which all are haſtening. All the cauſes of decay which have been mentioned, contribute to bring on this dreaded diſſolution. However, nature [Page 204] approaches to this awful period, by ſlow and imperceptible degrees; life is conſuming day after day; and ſome one of our faculties, or vital principles, is every hour dying before the reſt; ſo that death is only the laſt ſhade in the picture: and it is probable, that man ſuffers a greater change in going from youth to age, than from age into the grave. When we firſt begin to live, our lives may ſcarcely be ſaid to be our own; as the child grows, life encreaſes in the ſame proportion; and is at its height in the prime of manhood. But as ſoon as the body begins to decreaſe, life decreaſes alſo; for, as the human frame diminiſhes, and its juices circulate in ſmaller quantity, life diminiſhes and circulates with leſs vigour; ſo that as we begin to live by degrees, we begin to die in the ſame manner.
Why then ſhould we fear death, if our lives have been ſuch as not to make eternity dreadful! Why ſhould we fear that moment which is prepared by a thouſand other moments of the ſame kind! the firſt pangs of ſickneſs being probably greater than the laſt ſtruggles of departure. Death, in moſt perſons, is as calmly endured as the diſorder that brings it on. If we enquire from thoſe whoſe buſineſs it is to attend the ſick and the dying, we ſhall find that, [Page 205] except in a very few acute caſes, where the patient dies in agonies, the greateſt number die quietly, and ſeemingly without pain: and even the agonies of the former, rather terrify the ſpectators, than torment the patient; for how many have we not ſeen who have been accidentally relieved from this extremity, and yet had no memory of what they then endured. In fact, they had ceaſed to live, during that time when they ceaſed to have ſenſation; and their pains were only thoſe of which they had an idea.
The greateſt number of mankind die, therefore, without ſenſation; and of thoſe few that ſtill preſerve their faculties entire to the laſt moment, there is ſcarce one of them that does not alſo preſerve the hopes of ſtill out-living his diſorder. Nature, for the happineſs of man, has rendered this ſentiment ſtronger than his reaſon. A perſon dying of an incurable diſorder, which he muſt know to be ſo, by frequent examples of his caſe; which he perceives to be ſo, by the inquietude of all around him, by the tears of his friends, and the departure or the face of the phyſician, is, nevertheleſs, ſtill in hopes of getting over it. His intereſt is ſo great, that he only attends to his own repreſentations; the judgment of others is conſidered [Page 206] as an haſty concluſion; and while death every moment makes new inroads upon his conſtitution, and deſtroys life in ſome part, hope ſtill ſeems to eſcape the univerſal ruin, and is the laſt that ſubmits to the blow.
Caſt your eyes upon a ſick man, who has an hundred times told you that he felt himſelf dying, that he was convinced he could not recover, and that he was ready to expire; examine what paſſes on his viſage, when, through zeal or indiſcretion, any one comes to tell him that his end is at hand. You will ſee him change, like one who is told an unexpected piece of news. He now appears not to have thoroughly believed what he had been telling you himſelf; he doubted much; and his fears were greater than his hopes: but he ſtill had ſome feeble expectations of living, and would not have ſeen the approaches of death, unleſs he had been alarmed by the miſtaken aſſiduity of his attendants.
Death, therefore, is not that terrible thing which we ſuppoſe it to be. It is a ſpectre which frights us at a diſtance, but which diſappears when we come to approach it more cloſely. Our ideas of its terrors are conceived in prejudice, and dreſſed up by fancy; we regard it not only as the greateſt misfortune, but [Page 207] as alſo an evil accompanied with the moſt excruciating tortures: we have even encreaſed our apprehenſions, by reaſoning on the extent of our ſufferings. It muſt be dreadful, ſay ſome, ſince it is ſufficient to ſeparate the ſoul from the body; it muſt be long ſince our ſufferings are proportioned to the ſucceſſion of our ideas; and theſe being painful, muſt ſucceed each other with extreme rapidity. In this manner has falſe philoſophy laboured to augment the miſeries of our nature; and to aggravate that period, which Nature has kindly covered with inſenſibility. Neither the mind, nor the body, can ſuffer theſe calamities; the mind is, at that time, moſtly without ideas; and the body too much enfeebled, to be capable of perceiving its pain. A very acute pain produces either death, or fainting, which is a ſtate ſimilar to death: the body can ſuffer but to a certain degree; if the torture becomes exceſſive, it deſtroys itſelf; and the mind ceaſes to perceive, when the body can no longer endure.
In this manner, exceſſive pain admits of no reflection; and wherever there are any ſigns of it, we may be ſure that the ſufferings of the patient are no greater than what we ourſelves may have remembered to endure.
But, in the article of death, we have many [Page 208] inſtances in which the dying perſon has ſhewn that very reflection that pre-ſuppoſes an abſence of the greateſt pain; and, conſequently, that pang which ends life, cannot even be ſo great as thoſe which have preceded. Thus, when Charles XII. was ſhot at the ſiege of Frederick- ſhall, he was ſeen to clap his hand on the hilt of his ſword; and although the blow was great enough to terminate one of the boldeſt and braveſt lives in the world, yet it was not painful enough to deſtroy reflection. He perceived himſelf attacked; he reflected that he ought to defend himſelf, and his body obeyed the impulſe of his mind, even in the laſt extremity. Thus it is the prejudice of perſons in health, and not the body in pain, that makes us ſuffer from the approach of death: we have, all our lives, contracted an habit of making out exceſſive pleaſures and pains; and nothing but repeated experience ſhews us, how ſeldom the one can be ſuffered, or the other enjoyed to the utmoſt.
If there be any thing neceſſary to confirm what we have ſaid, concerning the gradual ceſſation of life, or the inſenſible approaches of our end, nothing can more effectually prove it, than the uncertainty of the ſigns of death. If we conſult what Winſlow or Bruhier have ſaid upon this ſubject, we ſhall be convinced, that [Page 209] between life and death, the ſhade is ſo very undiſtinguiſhable, that even all the powers of art can ſcarcely determine where the one ends, and the other begins. The colour of the viſage, the warmth of the body, the ſuppleneſs of the joints, are but uncertain ſigns of life ſtill ſubſiſting; while, on the contrary, the paleneſs of the complexion, the coldneſs of the body, the ſtiffneſs of the extremities, the ceſſation of all motion, and the total inſenſibility of the parts, are but uncertain marks of death begun. In the ſame manner alſo, with regard to the pulſe, and the breathing, theſe motions are often ſo kept under, that it is impoſſible to perceive them. By approaching a looking-glaſs to the mouth of the perſon ſuppoſed to be dead, people often expect to find whether he breathes or not. But this is a very uncertain experiment: the glaſs is frequently ſullied by the vapour of the dead man's body; and often the perſon is ſtill alive, although the glaſs is no way tarniſhed. In the ſame manner, neither burning, nor ſcarifying, neither noiſes in the ears, nor pungent ſpirits applied to the noſtrils, give certain ſigns of the diſcontinuance of life; and there are many inſtances of perſons who have endured them all, and afterwards recovered, without any external [Page 210] aſſiſtance, to the aſtoniſhment of the ſpectators. How careful, therefore, ſhould we be, before we commit thoſe who are deareſt to us to the grave, to be well aſſured of their departure: experience, juſtice, humanity, all perſuade us not to haſten the funerals of our friends, but to keep their bodies unburied, until we have certain ſigns of their real deceaſe.
HITHERTO we have compared man with other animals; we now come to compare men with each other. We have hitherto conſidered him as an individual, endowed with excellencies above the reſt of the creation; we now come to conſider the advantages which men have over men, and the various kinds with which our earth is inhabited.
If we compare the minute differences of mankind, there is ſcarce one nation upon the earth that entirely reſembles another; and there may be ſaid to be as many different kinds of men as there are countries inhabited. One poliſhed nation does not differ more from another, than the mereſt ſavages do from thoſe ſavages that lie even contiguous to them; and it frequently happens that a river, or a mountain, divides two barbarous tribes that are unlike each other in manners, cuſtoms, features, and complexion. But theſe differences, however perceivable, do not form ſuch diſtinctions as come within a general picture of the varieties of mankind. Cuſtom, accident, or faſhion, may produce [Page 212] conſiderable alterations in neighbouring nations; their being derived from anceſtors of a different climate, or complexion, may contribute to make accidental diſtinctions, which every day grow leſs; and it may be ſaid, that two neighbouring nations, how unlike ſoever at firſt, will aſſimilate by degrees; and, by long continuance, the difference between them will at laſt become almoſt imperceptible. It is not, therefore, between contiguous nations we are to look for any ſtrong marked varieties in the human ſpecies; it is by comparing the inhabitants of oppoſite climates, and diſtant countries; thoſe who live within the polar circle with thoſe beneath the equator; thoſe that live on one ſide of the globe with thoſe that occupy the other.
The firſt diſtinct race of men is found round the polar regions. The Laplanders, the Eſquimaux Indians, the Samoeid Tartars, the inhabitants of Nova Zembla, the Borandians, the Greenlanders, and the natives of Kamſkatka, may be conſidered as one peculiar race of people, all greatly reſembling each other in their ſtature, their complexion, their cuſtoms, and their ignorance. Theſe nations being under a rigorous climate, where the productions of nature are but few, and the proviſions coarſe and unwholeſome, their bodies have ſhrunk to the nature of their food; and their complexions have ſuffered, from cold, almoſt a ſimilar change to what heat is known to produce; their colour being a deep brown, in ſome places inclining to actual blackneſs. Theſe, therefore, in general, are found to be a race of ſhort ſtature, and odd ſhape, with countenances as ſavage as [Page] [...] [Page 213] [...] [Page 214] their manners are barbarous. The viſage, in theſe countries, is large and broad, the noſe flat and ſhort, the eyes of a yellowiſh brown inclining to blackneſs, the eye-lids drawn towards the temples, the cheek-bones extremely high, the mouth very large, the lips thick and turned outwards, the voice thin and ſqueaking, the head large, the hair black and ſtreight, the colour of the ſkin of a dark greyiſh*. They are ſhort in ſtature, the generality not being above four feet high, and the talleſt not above five. Among all theſe nations the women are as deformed as the men, and reſemble them ſo nearly that one cannot, at firſt, diſtinguiſh the ſexes among them.
Theſe nations not only reſemble each other in their deformity, their dwarfiſhneſs, the colour of their hair and eyes, but they have all, in a great meaſure, the ſame inclinations, and the ſame manners, being all equally rude, ſuperſtitious, and ſtupid. The Daniſh Laplanders have a large black cat, to which they communicate all their ſecrets, and conſult in all their affairs. Among the Swediſh Laplanders there is in every family a drum for conſulting the devil; and, although theſe nations are robuſt, and nimble, yet they are ſo cowardly [Page 215] that they never can be brought into the field. Guſtavus Adolphus attempted to make a regiment of Laplanders, but he found it impoſſible to accompliſh his deſign; for it ſhould ſeem that they can live only in their own country, and in their own manner. They make uſe of ſkates, which are made of fir, of near three feet long, and half a foot broad; theſe are pointed, and raiſed before, and tyed to the foot by ſtraps of leather. With theſe they ſkate upon the icy ſnow with ſuch velocity, that they very eaſily overtake the ſwifteſt animals. They make uſe alſo of a pole, pointed with iron at one end, and rounded at the other. This pole ſerves to puſh them along, to direct their courſe, to ſupport them from falling, to ſtop the impetuoſity of their motion, and to kill that game which they have overtaken. Upon theſe ſkates they deſcend the ſteepeſt mountains, and ſcale the moſt craggy precipices; and, in theſe exerciſes, the women are not leſs ſkilful than the men. They have all the uſe of the bow and arrow, which ſeems to be a contrivance common to all barbarous nations; and which, however, at firſt, required no ſmall ſkill to invent. They launce a javelin alſo, with great force; and ſome ſay that they can hit a mark, no larger than a crown, at thirty yards [Page 216] diſtance, and with ſuch force as would pierce a man through. They are all hunters; and particularly purſue the ermine, the fox, the ounce, and the martin, for the ſake of their ſkins. Theſe they barter, with their ſouthern neighbours, for brandy and tobacco; both which they are fond of to exceſs. Their food is principally dried fiſh, the fleſh of rein-deer and bears. Their bread is compoſed of the bones of fiſhes, pounded and mixed with the inſide tender bark of the pine tree. Their drink is train-oil, or brandy, and, when deprived of theſe, water, in which juniper berries have been infuſed. With regard to their morals, they have all the virtues of ſimplicity, and all the vices of ignorance. They offer their wives and daughters to ſtrangers; and ſeem to think it a particular honour if their offer be accepted. They have no idea of religion, or a Supreme Being; the greateſt number of them are idolaters; and their ſuperſtition is as profound as their worſhip is contemptible. Wretched and ignorant as they are, yet they do not want pride; they ſet themſelves far above the reſt of mankind; and Krantz aſſures us, that when the Greenlanders are got together, nothing is ſo cuſtomary among them as to turn the Europeans into ridicule. They are obliged, indeed, [Page 217] to yield them the pre-eminence in underſtanding, and mechanic arts; but they do not know how to ſet any value upon theſe. They therefore count themſelves the only civilized and well-bred people in the world; and it is common with them, when they ſee a quiet, or a modeſt ſtranger, to ſay that he is almoſt as well bred as a Greenlander.
From this deſcription, therefore, this whole race of people may be conſidered as diſtinct from any other. Their long continuance in a climate the moſt inhoſpitable, their being obliged to ſubſiſt on food the moſt coarſe and ill prepared, the ſavageneſs of their manners, and their laborious lives, all have contributed to ſhorten their ſtature, and to deform their bodies*. In proportion as we approach towards the north pole, the ſize of the natives appears to diminiſh, growing leſs and leſs as we advance higher, till we come to thoſe latitudes that are deſtitute of all inhabitants whatſoever.
The wretched natives of theſe climates ſeem fitted by nature to endure the rigours of their ſituation. As their food is but ſcanty and precarious, their patience in hunger is amazing†. A man, who has ate nothing for four days, can manage his little canoe, in the moſt [Page 218] furious waves, and calmly ſubſiſt in the midſt of a tempeſt, that would quickly daſh an European boat to pieces. Their ſtrength is not leſs amazing than their patience; a woman among them will carry a piece of timber, or a ſtone, near double the weight of what an European can lift. Their bodies are of a dark grey all over; and their faces brown, or olive. The tincture of their ſkins partly ſeems to ariſe from their dirty manner of living, being generally daubed with train-oil; and partly from the rigours of climate, as the ſudden alterations of cold and raw air in winter, and of burning heats in ſummer, ſhade their complexions by degrees, till, in a ſucceſſion of generations, they at laſt become almoſt black. As the countries in which theſe reſide are the moſt barren, ſo the natives ſeem the moſt barbarous of any part of the earth. Their more ſouthern neighbours of America, treat them with the ſame ſcorn that a poliſhed nation would treat a ſavage one; and we may readily judge of the rudeneſs of thoſe manners, which even a native of Canada can think more barbarous than his own.
But the gradations of nature are imperceptible; and, while the north is peopled with ſuch miſerable inhabitants, there are here and there to be found, upon the edges of theſe [Page 219] regions, people of larger ſtature, and completer figure. A whole race of the dwarfiſh breed is often found to come down from the north, and ſettle more to the ſouthward; and, on the contrary, it ſometimes happens that ſouthern nations are ſeen higher up, in the midſt of theſe diminutive tribes, where they have continued for time immemorial. Thus the Oſtiac Tartars ſeem to be a race that have travelled down from the north, and to be originally ſprung from the minute ſavages we have been deſcribing. There are alſo Norwegians, and Finlanders, of proper ſtature, who are ſeen to inhabit in latitudes higher even than Lapland. Theſe, however, are but accidental migrations, and ſerve as ſhades to unite the diſtinct varieties of mankind.
To this race of men alſo, we muſt refer the Chineſe and the Japaneſe, however different they ſeem in their manners and ceremonies. It is the form of the body that we are now principally conſidering; and there is, between theſe countries, a ſurprizing reſemblance. It is in general allowed that the Chineſe have broad faces, ſmall eyes, flat noſes, and ſcarce any beard; that they are broad and ſquare ſhouldered, and rather leſs in ſtature than Europeans. Theſe are marks [Page] [...] [Page 221] [...] [Page 222] common to them and the Tartars, and they may, therefore, be conſidered as being derived from the ſame original. ‘"I have obſerved," ſays Chardin, "that in all the people from the eaſt and the north of the Caſpian ſea, to the peninſula of Malacca, that the lines of the face, and the formation of the viſage, is the ſame. This has induced me to believe, that all theſe nations are derived from the ſame original, however different either their complexions or their manners may appear: for as to the complexion, that proceeds entirely from the climate and the food; and as to the manners, theſe are generally the reſult of their different degrees of wealth or power."’ That they come from one ſtock, is evident alſo, from this; that the Tartars who ſettle in China, quickly reſemble the Chineſe; and, on the contrary, the Chineſe who ſettle in Tartary, ſoon aſſume the figure, and the manners, of the Tartars.
The Japaneſe ſo much reſemble the Chineſe, that one cannot heſitate to rank them in the ſame claſs. They only differ in being rather browner, as they inhabit a more ſouthern climate. They are, in general, deſcribed, as of a brown complexion, a ſhort ſtature, a broad flat face, a very little beard, and black hair. Their cuſtoms and ceremonies are nearly the ſame; [Page 223] their ideas of beauty ſimilar; and their artificial deformities of blackening the teeth, and bandaging the feet, entirely alike in both countries. They both, therefore, proceed from the ſame ſtock; and although they differ very much from their brutal progenitors, yet they owe their civilization wholly to the mildneſs of the climate in which they reſide, and to the peculiar fertility of the ſoil. To this tribe alſo, we may refer the Cochin Chineſe, the Siameſe, the Tonquineſe, and the inhabitants of Aracan, Laos, and Pegu, who, though all differing from the Chineſe, and each other, nevertheleſs, have too ſtrong a reſemblance, not to betray their common original.
Another, which makes the third variety in the human ſpecies, is that of the ſouthern Aſiatics; the form of whoſe features and perſons may be eaſily diſtinguiſhed from thoſe of the Tartar races. The nations that inhabit the peninſula of India, ſeem to be the principal ſtock from whence the inhabitants of the iſlands that lie ſcattered in the Indian ocean, have been peopled. They are, in general, of a ſlender ſhape, with long ſtrait black hair, and often with Roman noſes. Thus they reſemble the Europeans in ſtature and features; but greatly differ in colour and habit of body. The Indians [Page 224] are of an olive colour, and, in the more ſouthern parts, quite black; although the word Mogul, in their language, ſignifies a white man. The women are extremely delicate, and bathe very often: they are of an olive colour, as well as the men; their legs and thighs are long, and their bodies ſhort, which is the oppoſite to what is ſeen among the women of Europe. They are, as I am aſſured, by no means ſo fruitful as the European women; but they feel the pains of child-birth with much leſs ſenſibility, and are generally up and well the day following. In fact, theſe pains ſeem greateſt in all countries where the women are moſt delicate, or the conſtitution enfeebled by luxury or indolence. The women of ſavage nations ſeem, in a great meaſure, exempt from painful labours; and even the hard working wives of the peaſants among ourſelves, have this advantage, from a life of induſtry, that their child bearing is leſs painful. Over all India, the children arrive ſooner at maturity, than with us of Europe. They often marry, and conſummate, the huſband at ten years old, and the wife at eight; and they frequently have children at that age. However, the women who are mothers ſo ſoon, ceaſe bearing before they are arrived at thirty; and, at that time, they appear wrinkled, and ſeem [Page 225] marked with all the deformities of age. The Indians have long been remarkable for their cowardice and effeminacy; every conqueror that has but attempted the invaſion of their country, having ſucceeded. The warmth of the climate entirely influences their manners; they are ſlothful, ſubmiſſive and luxurious: ſatisfied with ſenſual happineſs alone, they find no pleaſure in thinking; and contented with ſlavery, they are ready to obey any maſter. Many tribes among them eat nothing that has life; they are fearful of killing the meaneſt inſect; and have even erected hoſpitals for the maintenance of all kinds of vermin. The Aſiatic dreſs alſo, is a looſe flowing garment, rather fitted for the purpoſes of peace and indolence, than of induſtry or war. The vigour of the Aſiatics is therefore in general conformable to their dreſs and nouriſhment: fed upon rice, and cloathed in effeminate ſilk veſtments, their ſoldiers are unable to oppoſe the onſet of an European army; and, from the times of Alexander to the preſent day we have ſcarce any inſtances of their ſucceſs in arms. Upon the whole, therefore, they may be conſidered as a feeble race of ſenſualiſts, too dull to find rapture in any pleaſures, and too indolent to turn their gravity into wiſdom. To this claſs we may [Page 226] refer the Perſians and Arabians, and, in general, the inhabitants of the iſlands that lie ſcattered in the Indian ocean.
The inhabitants of America make a fifth race, as different from all the reſt in colour, as they are diſtinct in habitation. The natives of America (except in the northern extremity, where they reſemble the Laplanders) are of a red or copper colour; and although, in the old world, different climates produce a variety of complexions and cuſtoms, the natives of the new continent ſeem to reſemble each other in almoſt every reſpect. They are all nearly of one colour; all have black thick ſtrait hair, and thin black beards; which, however, they take care to pluck out by the roots. They have, in general, flat noſes, with high cheek bones, and ſmall eyes; and theſe deformities of nature they endeavour to encreaſe by art: they flatten the noſe, and often the whole head of their children, while the bones are yet ſuſceptible of every impreſſion. They paint the body and face of various colours, and conſider the hair upon any part of it, except the head, as a deformity which they are careful to eradicate. Their limbs are generally ſlighter made than thoſe of the Europeans; and I am aſſured, they are far from being ſo ſtrong. All theſe ſavages ſeem to be cowardly; they ſeldom are known to face their [Page] [...] [Page 229] [...] [Page 230] enemies in the field, but fall upon them at an advantage; and the greatneſs of their fears ſerves to encreaſe the rigours of their cruelty. The wants which they often ſuſtain, makes them ſurprizingly patient in adverſity; diſtreſs, by being grown familiar, becomes leſs terrible; ſo that their patience is leſs the reſult of fortitude than of cuſtom. They have all a ſerious air, although they ſeldom think; and, however cruel to their enemies, are kind and juſt to each other. In ſhort, the cuſtoms of ſavage nations in every country are almoſt the ſame; a wild, independent, and precarious life, produces a peculiar train of virtues and vices: and patience and hoſpitality, indolence and rapacity, content and ſincerity, are found not leſs among the natives of America, than all the barbarous nations of the globe.
The ſixth and laſt variety of the human ſpecies, is that of the Europeans, and the nations bordering on them. In this claſs we may reckon the Georgians, Circaſſians, and Mingrelians, the inhabitants of Aſia Minor, and the northern parts of Africa, together with a part of thoſe countries which lie north-weſt of the Caſpian ſea. The inhabitants of theſe countries differ a good deal from each other; but they generally agree in the colour of their bodies, [Page 231] the beauty of their complexions, the largeneſs of their limbs, and the vigour of their underſtandings. Thoſe arts which might have had their invention among the other races of mankind, have come to perfection there. In barbarous countries, the inhabitants go either naked, or are awkwardly cloathed in furs or feathers; in countries ſemi-barbarous, the robes are looſe and flowing; but here the cloathing is leſs made for ſhew than expedition, and unites, as much as poſſible, the extremes of ornament and diſpatch.
To one or other of theſe claſſes, we may refer the people of every country; and as each nation has been leſs viſited by ſtrangers, or has had leſs commerce with the reſt of mankind, we find their perſons, and their manners, more ſtrongly impreſſed with one or other of the characters mentioned above. On the contrary, in thoſe places where trade has long flouriſhed, or where enemies have made many incurſions, the races are uſually found blended, and properly fall beneath no one character. Thus, in the iſlands of the Indian ocean, where a trade has been carried on for time immemorial, the inhabitants appear to be a mixture of all the nations upon the earth; white, olive, brown, and black men, are all ſeen living together in [Page 232] the ſame city, and propagate a mixed breed, that can be referred to none of the claſſes into which naturaliſts have thought proper to divide mankind.
Of all the colours by which mankind is diverſified, it is eaſy to perceive, that ours is not only the moſt beautiful to the eye, but the moſt advantageous. The fair complexion ſeems, if I may ſo expreſs it, as a tranſparent covering to the ſoul; all the variations of the paſſions, every expreſſion of joy or ſorrow, flows to the cheek, and, without language, marks the mind. In the ſlighteſt change of health alſo, the colour of the European face is the moſt exact index, and often teaches us to prevent thoſe diſorders that we do not as yet perceive: not but that the African black, and the Aſiatic olive complexions, admit of their alterations alſo; but theſe are neither ſo diſtinct, nor ſo viſible, as with us; and, in ſome countries, the colour of the viſage is never found to change; but the face continues in the ſame ſettled ſhade in ſhame, and in ſickneſs, in anger, and deſpair.
The colour, therefore, moſt natural to man, ought to be that which is moſt becoming; and it is found, that, in all regions, the children are born fair, or at leaſt red, and that they grow more black, or tawny, as they advance in age. [Page 233] It ſhould ſeem, conſequently, that man is naturally white; ſince the ſame cauſes that darken the complexion in infants, may have originally operated, in ſlower degrees, in blackening whole nations. We could, therefore, readily account for the blackneſs of different nations, did we not ſee the Americans, who live under the line, as well as the natives of Negroland, of a red colour, and but a very ſmall ſhade darker than the natives of the northern latitudes, in the ſame continent. For this reaſon, ſome have ſought for other cauſes of blackneſs than the climate; and have endeavoured to prove that the blacks are a race of people, bred from one man, who was marked with accidental blackneſs. This, however, is but mere ungrounded conjecture; and, although the Americans are not ſo dark as the Negroes, yet we muſt ſtill continue in the ancient opinion, that the deepneſs of the colour proceeds from the exceſſive heat of the climate. For, if we compare the heats of Africa with thoſe of America, we ſhall find they bear no proportion to each other. In America, all that part of the continent which lies under the line, is cool and pleaſant, either ſhaded by mountains, or refreſhed by breezes from the ſea. But, in Africa, the wide tract of country that lies under the line is very [Page 232] [...] [Page 233] [...] [Page 234] extenſive, and the ſoil ſandy; the reflexion of the ſun, therefore, from ſo large a ſurface of earth, is almoſt intolerable; and it is not to be wondered at, that the inhabitants ſhould bear, in their looks, the marks of the inhoſpitable climate. In America, the country is but thinly inhabited; and the more torrid tracts are generally left deſert by the inhabitants; for which reaſon they are not ſo deeply tinged by the beams of the ſun. But in Africa the whole face of the country is fully peopled; and the natives are obliged to endure their ſituation, without a power of migration. It is there, conſequently, that they are in a manner tied down to feel all the ſeverity of the heat; and their complexions take the darkeſt hue they are capable of receiving. We need not, therefore, have recourſe to any imaginary propagation, from perſons accidentally black, ſince the climate is a cauſe obvious, and ſufficient to produce the effect.
In fact if we examine the complexions of different countries, we ſhall find them darken in proportion to the heat of their climate; and the ſhades gradually to deepen as they approach the line. Some nations, indeed, may be found not ſo much tinged by the ſun as others, although they lie nearer the line. But this ever proceeds [Page 235] from ſome accidental cauſes; either from the country lying higher, and conſequently being colder; or from the natives bathing oftener, and leading a more civilized life. In general, it may be aſſerted, that, as we approach the line, we find the inhabitants of each country grow browner, until the colour deepens into perfect blackneſs. Thus taking our ſtandard from the whiteſt race of people, and beginning with our own country, which, I believe, bids faireſt for the pre-eminence, we ſhall find the French, who are more ſouthern, a ſlight ſhade deeper than we; going farther down, the Spaniards are browner than the French; the inhabitants of Fez darker than they; and the natives of Negroeland the darkeſt of all. In what manner the ſun produces this effect, and how the ſame luminary which whitens wax and linen, ſhould darken the human complexion, is not eaſy to conceive. Sir Thomas Brown firſt ſuppoſed that a mucous ſubſtance, which had ſomething of a vitriolic quality, ſettled under the reticular membrane, and grew darker with heat. Others have ſuppoſed that the blackneſs lay in the epidermis, or ſcarf ſkin, which was burnt up like leather. But nothing has been ſatisfactorily diſcovered upon the ſubject; it is ſufficient that we are aſſured of the fact; and that we have no [Page 236] doubt of the ſun's tinging the complexion in proportion to its vicinity.
But we are not to ſuppoſe that the ſun is the only cauſe of darkening the ſkin; the wind, extreme cold, hard labour, or coarſe and ſparing nouriſhment, are all found to contribute to this effect. We find the peaſants of every country, who are moſt expoſed to the weather, a ſhade darker than the higher ranks of people. The ſavage inhabitants of all places are expoſed ſtill more, and, therefore, contract a ſtill deeper hue; and this will account for the tawny colour of the North American Indians. Although they live in a climate the ſame, or even more northerly than ours, yet they are found to be of complexions very different from thoſe of Europe. But it muſt be conſidered that they live continually expoſed to the ſun; that they uſe many methods to darken their ſkins by art, painting them with red oker, and anointing them with the fat of bears. Had they taken, for a ſucceſſion of ſeveral generations, the ſame precautions to brighten their colour that an European does, it is very probable that they would in time come to have ſimilar complexions; and, perhaps, diſpute the prize of beauty.
The extremity of cold is not leſs productive [Page 237] of a tawny complexion than that of heat. The natives of the artic circle, as was obſerved, are all brown; and thoſe that lie moſt to the north are almoſt entirely black. In this manner both extremes are unfavourable to the human form and colour, and the ſame effects are produced under the poles that are found at the line.
With regard to the ſtature of different countries, that ſeems chiefly to reſult from the nature of the food, and the quantity of the ſupply. Not but that the ſeverity of heat or cold, may, in ſome meaſure, diminiſh the growth, and produce a dwarfiſhneſs of make. But, in general, the food is the great agent in producing this effect; where that is ſupplied in large quantities, and, where its quality is wholeſome and nutrimental, the inhabitants are generally ſeen above the ordinary ſtature. On the contrary, where it is afforded in a ſparing q [...]ty, or very coarſe, and void of nouriſhment in its kind, the inhabitants degenerate, and ſink below the ordinary ſize of mankind. In this reſpect they reſemble other animals, whoſe bodies, by proper feeding, may be greatly augmented. An ox, on the fertile plains of India, grows to a ſize four times as large as the diminutive animal of the ſame kind bred in the [Page 238] Alps. The horſes bred in the plains are larger than thoſe of the mountain. So it is with man; the inhabitants of the valley are uſually found taller than thoſe of the hill: the natives of the Highlands of Scotland, for inſtance, are ſhort, broad, and hardy; thoſe of the Lowlands are tall and ſhapely. The inhabitants of Greenland, who live upon dried fiſh and ſeals, are leſs than thoſe of Gambia or Senegal, where Nature ſupplies them with vegetable and animal abundance.
The form of the face ſeems rather to be the reſult of cuſtom. Nations who have long conſidered ſome artificial deformity as beautiful, who have induſtriouſly leſſened the feet, or flattened the noſe, by degrees, begin to receive the impreſſion they are taught to aſſume; and Nature, in a courſe of ages, ſhapes itſelf to the conſtraint, and aſſumes hereditary deformity. We find nothing more common in births than for children to inherit ſometimes even the accidental deformities of their parents. We have many inſtances of ſquinting in the father, which he received from fright, or habit, communicated to the offspring; and I myſelf have ſeen a child diſtinctly marked with a ſcar, ſimilar to one the father had received in battle. In this manner [Page 239] accidental deformities may become natural ones; and by aſſiduity may be continued, and even encreaſed, through ſucceſſive generations. From this, therefore, may have ariſen the ſmall eyes and long ears of the Tartars, and Chineſe nations. From hence originally may have come the flat noſes of the blacks, and the flat heads of the American Indians.
In this ſlight ſurvey, therefore, I think we may ſee that all the variations in the human figure, as far as they differ from our own, are produced either by the rigour of the climate, the bad quality, or the ſcantineſs of the proviſions, or by the ſavage cuſtoms of the country. They are actual marks of the degeneracy in the human form; and we may conſider the European figure and colour as ſtandards to which to refer all other varieties, and with which to compare them. In proportion as the Tartar or American approaches nearer to European beauty, we conſider the race as leſs degenerated; in proportion as he differs more widely, he has made greater deviations from his original form.
That we have all ſprung from one common parent, we are taught, both by reaſon and religion, to believe; and we have good reaſon alſo to think that the Europeans reſemble him [Page 240] more than any of the reſt of his children. However, it muſt not be concealed that the olive coloured Aſiatic, and even the jet black Negroe, claim this honour of hereditary reſemblance; and aſſert that white men are mere deviations from original perfection. Odd as this opinion may ſeem, they have got Linnaeus, the celebrated naturaliſt, on their ſide; who ſuppoſes man a native of the tropical climates, and only a ſojourner more to the north. But, not to enter into a controverſy upon a matter of a very remote ſpeculation, I think one argument alone will ſuffice to prove the contrary, and ſhew that the white man is the original ſource from whence the other varieties have ſprung. We have frequently ſeen white children produced from black parents, but have never ſeen a black offspring the production of two whites. From hence we may conclude that whiteneſs is the colour to which mankind naturally tends; for, as in the tulip, the parent ſtock is known by all the artificial varieties breaking into it; ſo in man, that colour muſt be original which never alters, and to which all the reſt are accidentally ſeen to change. I have ſeen in London, at different times, two white Negroes, the iſſue of black parents, that ſerved to convince me of [Page 241] the truth of this theory. I had before been taught to believe that the whiteneſs of the Negroe ſkin was a diſeaſe, a kind of milky whiteneſs, that might be called rather a leprous cruſt than a natural complexion. I was taught to ſuppoſe that the numberleſs white Negroes, found in various parts of Africa, the white men that go by the name of Chacrelas, in the Eaſt-Indies, and the white Americans, near the Iſthmus of Darien, in the Weſt Indies, were all as ſo many diſeaſed perſons, and even more deformed than the blackeſt of the natives. But, upon examining that Negroe which was laſt ſhewn in London, I found the colour to be exactly like that of an European; the viſage white and ruddy, and the lips of the proper redneſs. However, there were ſufficient marks to convince me of its deſcent. The hair was white and woolly, and very unlike any thing I had ſeen before. The iris of the eye was yellow, inclining to red; the noſe was flat, exactly reſembling that of a Negroe; and the lips thick, and prominent. No doubt, therefore, remained of the child's having been born of Negroe parents; and the perſon who ſhewed it had atteſtations to convince the moſt incredulous. From this then we ſee that the variations [Page 242] of the Negroe colour is into whiteneſs, whereas the white are never found to have a race of Negroe children. Upon the whole, therefore, all thoſe changes which the African, the Aſiatic, or the American undergo, are but accidental deformities, which a kinder climate, better nouriſhment, or more civilized manners, would, in a courſe of centuries, very probably, remove.
HITHERTO I have only ſpoken of thoſe varieties in the human ſpecies, that are common to whole nations; but there are varieties of another kind, which are only found in the individual; and, being more rarely ſeen, are, therefore, called monſtrous. If we examine into the varieties of diſtorted nature, there is ſcarce a limb of the body, or ſcarce a feature in the face, that has not ſuffered ſome reprobation, either from art or nature; being enlarged or diminiſhed, lengthened or wreſted, from its due proportion. Linnaeus, after having given a catalogue of monſters, particularly adds, the flat heads of Canada, the long heads of the Chineſe, and the ſlender waiſts of the women of Europe, who, by ſtrait lacing, take ſuch pains to deſtroy their health, through a miſtaken deſire to improve their beauty*. It belongs more to the phyſician than the naturaliſt to attend to theſe minute deformities; and, indeed, it is a melancholly contemplation to ſpeculate upon a catalogue of calamities, inflicted by unpitying [Page 244] nature, or brought upon us by our own caprice. Some, however, are fond of ſuch accounts; and there have been books filled with nothing elſe. To theſe, therefore, I refer the reader; who may be better pleaſed with accounts of men with two heads, or without any head, of children joined in the middle, of bones turned into fleſh, or fleſh converted into bones, than I am*. It is ſufficient here to obſerve, that every day's experience muſt have ſhewn us miſerable inſtances of this kind, produced by nature, or affectation; calamities that no pity can ſoften, nor aſſiduity relieve.
Paſſing over, therefore, every other account, [Page 245] I ſhall only mention the famous inſtance, quoted by Father Malbranche; upon which he founds his beautiful theory of monſtrous productions. A woman of Paris, the wife of a tradeſman, went to ſee a criminal broke alive upon the wheel, at the place of public execution. She was at that time two months advanced in her pregnancy, and no way ſubject to any diſorders to affect the child in her womb. She was, however, of a tender habit of body; and, though led by curioſity to this horrid ſpectacle, very eaſily moved to pity and compaſſion. She felt, therefore, all thoſe ſtrong emotions which ſo terrible a ſight muſt naturally inſpire; ſhuddered at every blow the criminal received, and almoſt ſwooned at his cries. Upon returning from this ſcene of blood, ſhe continued for ſome days penſive, and her imagination ſtill wrought upon the ſpectacle ſhe had lately ſeen. After ſome time, however, ſhe ſeemed perfectly recovered from her fright, and had almoſt forgotten her former uneaſineſs. When the time of her delivery approached, ſhe ſeemed no ways mindful of her former terrors, nor were her pains in labour more than uſual in ſuch circumſtances. But, what was the amazement of her friends, and aſſiſtants, when the child came into the world! It was found that every [Page 246] limb in its body was broken juſt like thoſe of the malefactor, and juſt in the ſame place. This poor infant, that had ſuffered the pains of life, even before its coming into the world, did not die, but lived in an hoſpital, in Paris, for twenty years after, a wretched inſtance of the ſuppoſed power of imagination in the mother of altering and diſtorting the infant in the womb. The manner in which Malbranche reaſons upon this fact, is as follows. The Creator has eſtabliſhed ſuch a ſympathy between the ſeveral parts of nature, that we are led not only to imitate each other, but alſo to partake in the ſame affections and deſires. The animal ſpirits are thus carried to the reſpective parts of the body, to perform the ſame actions which we ſee others perform, to receive in ſome meaſure their wounds, and take part in their ſufferings. Experience tells us, that if we look attentively on any perſon ſeverely beaten, or ſorely wounded, the ſpirits immediately flow into thoſe parts of the body which correſpond to thoſe we ſee in pain. The more delicate the conſtitution, the more it is thus affected; the ſpirits making a ſtronger impreſſion on the fibres of a weakly habit than of a robuſt one. Strong vigorous men ſee an execution without much concern, while women of [Page 247] nicer texture are ſtruck with horror and concern. This ſenſibility in them muſt, of conſequence, be communicated to all parts of their body; and, as the fibres of the child, in the womb, are incomparably finer than thoſe of the mother, the courſe of the animal ſpirits muſt, conſequently, produce greater alterations. Hence, every ſtroke given to the criminal, forcibly ſtruck the imagination of the woman; and, by a kind of counter ſtroke, the delicate tender frame of the child.
Such is the reaſoning of an ingenious man, upon a fact, the veracity of which many ſince have called in queſtion*. They have allowed, indeed, that ſuch a child might have been produced, but have denied the cauſe of its deformity. How could the imagination of the mother, ſay they, produce ſuch dreadful effects upon her child? She has no communication with the infant; ſhe ſcarce touches it in any part; quite unaffected with her concerns, it ſleeps in ſecurity, in a manner ſecluded by a fluid in which it ſwims, from her that bears it. With what a variety of deformities, ſay they, would all mankind be marked, if all the vain and capricious deſires of the mother were thus readily written upon the body of the child? [Page 248] Yet, notwithſtanding this plauſible way of reaſoning, I cannot avoid ſtill giving ſome credit to the variety of inſtances I have either read, or ſeen, upon this ſubject. If it be a prejudice, it is as old as the days of Ariſtotle, and to this day as ſtrongly believed, by the generality of mankind, as ever. It does not admit of a reaſon; and, indeed, I can give none even why the child ſhould, in any reſpect, reſemble the father, or the mother. The fact we generally find to be ſo. But why it ſhould take the particular print of the father's features in the womb, is as hard to conceive, as why it ſhould be affected by the mother's imagination. We all know what a ſtrong effect the imagination has on thoſe parts in particular, without being able to aſſign a cauſe how this effect is produced; and why the imagination may not produce the ſame effect in marking the child that it does in forming it, I ſee no reaſon. Thoſe perſons whoſe employment it is to rear up pidgeons of different colours, can breed them, as their expreſſion is, to a feather. In fact, by properly paring them, they can give what colour they will to any feather, in any part of the body. Were we to reaſon upon this fact, what could we ſay? Might it not be aſſerted, that the egg, being diſtinct from the body of [Page 249] the female, cannot be influenced by it? Might it not be plauſibly ſaid, that there is no ſimilitude between any part of the egg and any particular feather, which we expect to propagate? and yet, for all this, the fact is known to be true, and what no ſpeculation can invalidate. In the ſame manner, a thouſand various inſtances aſſure us that the child, in the womb, is ſometimes marked by the ſtrong affections of the mother; how this is performed we know not; we only ſee the effect, without any connexion between it and the cauſe. The beſt phyſicians have allowed it; and have been ſatisfied to ſubmit to the experience of a number of ages; but many diſbelieve it, becauſe they expect a reaſon for every effect. This, however, is very hard to be given, while it is very eaſy to appear wiſe by pretending incredulity.
Among the number of monſters, dwarfs and giants are uſually reckoned; though not, perhaps, with the ſtricteſt propriety, ſince they are no way different from the reſt of mankind, except in ſtature. It is a diſpute, however, about words; and, therefore, ſcarce worth contending about. But there is a diſpute, of a more curious nature, on this ſubject; namely, whether there are races of people thus very diminutive, or vaſtly large, or whether they be [Page 250] merely accidental varieties, that now and then are ſeen in a country, in a few perſons, whoſe bodies ſome external cauſe has contributed to leſſen, or enlarge.
With regard to men of diminutive ſtature, all antiquity has been unanimous in aſſerting their national exiſtence. Homer was the firſt who has given us an account of the pigmy nation, contending with the cranes; and what poetical licence might be ſuppoſed to exaggerate, Athenaeus has attempted ſeriouſly to confirm by hiſtorical aſſertion*. If we attend to theſe, we muſt believe that in the internal parts of Africa, there are whole nations of pigmy beings, not more than a foot in ſtature, who continually wage an unequal war with the birds and beaſts that inhabit the plains in which they reſide. Some of the ancients, however, and Strabo in particular, have ſuppoſed all theſe accounts to be fabulous; and have been more inclined to think this ſuppoſed nation of pigmies, nothing more than a ſpecies of apes, well known to be numerous in that part of the world. With this opinion the moderns have all concurred; and that diminutive race, which was deſcribed as human, has been long degraded into a claſs of animals that reſemble us but very imperfectly.
[Page 251] The exiſtence, therefore, of a pigmy race of mankind, being founded in error, or in fable, we can expect to find men of diminutive ſtature only by accident, among men of the ordinary ſize. Of theſe accidental dwarfs, every country, and almoſt every village, can produce numerous inſtances. There was a time, when theſe unfavoured children of Nature, were the peculiar favourites of the great; and no prince, or nobleman, thought himſelf completely attended, unleſs he had a dwarf among the number of his domeſtics. Theſe poor little men were kept to be laughed at; or to raiſe the barbarous pleaſure of their maſters, by their contraſted inferiority. Even in England, as late as the times of king James the Firſt, the court was at one time furniſhed with a dwarf, a giant, and a jeſter: theſe the king often took a pleaſure in oppoſing to each other, and often fomented quarrels among them, in order to be a concealed ſpectator of their animoſity. It was a particular entertainment of the courtiers at that time, to ſee little Jeffery, for ſo the dwarf was called, ride round the liſts, expecting his antagoniſt; and diſcovering, in his actions, all the marks of contemptible reſolution.
It was in the ſame ſpirit, that Peter of Ruſſia, in the year 1710, celebrated a marriage of [Page 252] dwarfs. This monarch, though raiſed by his native genius far above a barbarian, was, nevertheleſs, ſtill many degrees removed from actual refinement. His pleaſures, therefore, were of the vulgar kind; and this was among the number. Upon a certain day, which he had ordered to be proclaimed ſeveral months before, he invited the whole body of his courtiers, and all the foreign ambaſſadors, to be preſent at the marriage of a pigmy man and woman. The preparations for this wedding were not only very grand, but executed in a ſtyle of barbarous ridicule. He ordered, that all the dwarf men and women, within two hundred miles, ſhould repair to the capital; and alſo inſiſted, that they ſhould be preſent at the ceremony. For this purpoſe, he ſupplied them with proper vehicles; but ſo contrived it, that one horſe was ſeen carrying in a dozen of them into the city at once, while the mob followed ſhouting, and laughing, from behind. Some of them were at firſt unwilling to obey an order, which they knew was calculated to turn them into ridicule, and did not come; but he ſoon obliged them to obey; and, as a puniſhment, enjoined, that they ſhould wait upon the reſt at dinner. The whole company of dwarfs amounted to ſeventy, beſide the bride and bridegroom, who were richly adorned, and [Page 253] in the extremity of the faſhion. For this little company in miniature, every thing was ſuitably provided; a low table, ſmall plates, little glaſſes, and, in ſhort, every thing was ſo fitted, as if all things had been dwindled to their own ſtandard. It was his great pleaſure to ſee their gravity and their pride; the contention of the women for places, and the men for ſuperiority. This point he attempted to adjuſt, by ordering, that the moſt diminutive ſhould take the lead; but this bred diſputes, for none would then conſent to ſit foremoſt. All this, however, being at laſt ſettled, dancing followed the dinner, and the ball was opened with a minuet by the bridegroom, who meaſured exactly three feet two inches high. In the end, matters were ſo contrived, that this little company, who met together in gloomy pride, and unwilling to be pleaſed, being at laſt familiarized to laughter, joined in the diverſion, and became, as the journaliſt has it*, extremely ſprightly and entertaining.
But whatever may be the entertainment ſuch gueſts might afford, when united, I never found a dwarf capable of affording any when alone. I have ſometimes converſed with ſome of theſe [Page 254] that were exhibited at our fairs about town, and have ever found their intellects as contracted as their perſons. They, in general, ſeemed to me to have faculties very much reſembling thoſe of children, and their deſires ſeemed of the ſame kind; being diverted with the ſame ſports, and beſt pleaſed with ſuch companions. Of all thoſe I have ſeen, which may amount to five or ſix, the little man, whoſe name was Coan, that died lately at Chelſea, was the moſt intelligent and ſprightly. I have heard him and the giant, who ſung at the theatres, ſuſtain a very ridiculous duet, to which they were taught to give great ſpirit. But this mirth, and ſeeming ſagacity, were but aſſumed. He had, by long habit, been taught to look chearful upon the approach of company; and his converſation was but the mere etiquette of a perſon that had been uſed to receive viſitors. When driven out of his walk, nothing could be more ſtupid or ignorant, nothing more dejected or forlorn. But, we have a compleat hiſtory of a dwarf, very accurately related by Mr. Danbenton, in his part of the Hiſtoire Naturel; which I will here take leave to tranſlate.
This dwarf, whoſe name was Baby, was well known, having ſpent the greateſt part of his life [Page 255] at Lunenville, in the palace of Staniſlaus, the exiled king of Poland. He was born in the village of Plaiſne, in France, in the year 1741. His father and mother were peaſants, both of good conſtitutions, and inured to a life of huſbandry and labour. Baby, when born, weighed but a pound and a quarter. We are not informed of the dimenſions of his body at that time; but we may conjecture they were very ſmall, as he was preſented on a plate to be baptized, and for a long time lay in a ſlipper. His mouth, although proportioned to the reſt of his body, was not, at that time, large enough to take in the nipple; and he was, therefore, obliged to be ſuckled by a ſhe-goat that was in the houſe; and that ſerved as a nurſe, attending to his cries with a kind of maternal fondneſs. He began to articulate ſome words when eighteen months old; and at two years he was able to walk alone. He was then fitted with ſhoes that were about an inch and a half long. He was attacked with ſeveral acute diſorders; but the ſmall-pox was the only one which left any marks behind it. Until he was ſix years old, he eat no other food but pulſe, potatoes, and bacon. His father and mother were, from their poverty, incapable of affording him any better nouriſhment; and his education was little better [Page 256] than his food, being bred up among the ruſtics of the place. At ſix years old he was about fifteen inches high; and his whole body weighed but thirteen pound. Notwithſtanding this, he was well proportioned, and handſome; his health was good, but his underſtanding ſcarce paſſed the bounds of inſtinct. It was at that time that the king of Poland, having heard of ſuch a curioſity, had him conveyed to Lunenville, gave him the name of Baby, and kept him in his palace.
Baby, having thus quitted the hard condition of a peaſant to enjoy all the comforts and the conveniencies of life, ſeemed to receive no alteration from his new way of living, either in mind or perſon. He preſerved the goodneſs of his conſtitution till about the age of ſixteeen, but his body ſeemed to encreaſe very ſlowly during the whole time; and his ſtupidity was ſuch, that all inſtructions were loſt in improving his underſtanding. He could never be brought to have any ſenſe of religion, nor even to ſhew the leaſt ſigns of a reaſoning faculty. They attempted to teach him dancing and muſic, but in vain; he never could make any thing of muſic; and as for dancing, altho' he beat time tolerably exact, yet he could never remember the figure, but while his dancing-maſter [Page 257] ſtood by to direct his motions. Notwithſtanding a mind thus deſtitute of underſtanding, was not without its paſſions, anger and jealouſy harraſſed it at times; nor was he without deſires of another nature.
At the age of ſixteen, Baby was twenty-nine inches tall; at this he reſted; but having thus arrived at his acme, the alterations of puberty, or rather, perhaps, of old age, came faſt upon him. From being very beautiful, the poor little creature now became quite deformed; his ſtrength quite forſook him; his back bone began to bend; his head hung forward; his legs grew weak; one of his ſhoulders turned awry; and his noſe grew diſproportionably large. With his ſtrength, his natural ſpirits alſo forſook him; and, by the time he was twenty, he was grown feeble, decrepid, and marked with the ſtrongeſt impreſſions of old age. It had been before remarked by ſome, that he would die of old age before he arrived at thirty; and, in fact, by the time he was twenty-two, he could ſcarcely walk an hundred paces, being worn with the multiplicity of his years, and bent under the burthen of protracted life. In this year he died; a cold, attended with a ſlight fever, threw him into a kind of lethargy, which had a few momentary [Page 258] intervals; but he could ſcarce be brought to ſpeak. However, it is aſſerted, that in the five laſt days of his life, he ſhewed a clearer underſtanding, than in his times of beſt health: but at length he died, after enduring great agonies, in the twenty-ſecond year of his age.
Oppoſite to this accidental diminution of the human race, is that of its extraordinary magnitude. Concerning the reality of a nation of Giants, there have been many diſputes among the learned. Some have affirmed the probability of ſuch a race; and others, as warmly have denied the poſſibility of their exiſtence. But it is not from any ſpeculative reaſonings, upon a ſubject of this kind, that information is to be obtained; it is not from the diſputes of the ſcholar, but the labours of the enterprizing, that we are to be inſtructed in this enquiry. Indeed, nothing can be more abſurd, than what ſome learned men have advanced upon this ſubject. It is very unlikely, ſays Grew, that there ſhould either be dwarfs or giants; or if ſuch, they cannot be fitted for the uſual enjoyment of life and reaſon. Had man been born a dwarf, he could ſcarce have been a reaſonable creature; for to that end, he muſt have a jolt head, and then he would not have body and blood enough to ſupply his brain with ſpirits: [Page 259] or if he had a ſmall head, proportionable to his body, there would not be brain enough for conducting life. But it is ſtill worſe with giants; and there could never have been a nation of ſuch, for there would not be food enough found in any country to ſuſtain them; or if there were beaſts ſufficient for this purpoſe, there would not be graſs enough for their maintenance. But what is ſtill more, add others, giants could never be able to ſupport the weight of their own bodies; ſince a man of ten feet high, muſt be eight times as heavy as one of the ordinary ſtature; whereas, he has but twice the ſize of muſcles to ſupport ſuch a burthen: and, conſequently, would be overloaded with the weight of his own body. Such are the theories upon this ſubject; and they require no other anſwer, but that experience proves them both to be falſe: dwarfs are found capable of life and reaſon; and giants are ſeen to carry their own bodies. We have ſeveral accounts from mariners, that a nation of giants actually exiſts; and mere ſpeculation ſhould never induce us to doubt their veracity.
Ferdinand Magellan was the firſt who diſcovered this race of people along the coaſt, towards the extremity of South America. Magellan was a Portugueſe, of noble extraction, [Page 260] who having long behaved with great bravery, under Albukerk, the conqueror of India, he was treated with neglect by the court, upon his return. Applying, therefore, to the king of Spain, he was entruſted with the command of five ſhips, to take and ſubdue the Molucca iſlands; upon one of which he was ſlain. It was in his voyage thither, that he happened to winter in St. Julian's Bay, an American harbour, forty-nine degrees ſouth of the line. In this deſolate region, where nothing was ſeen but objects of terror, where neither trees nor verdure dreſt the face of the country, they remained for ſome months without ſeeing any human creature. They had judged the country to be utterly uninhabitable; when one day, they ſaw approaching, as if he had been dropt from the clouds, a man of enormous ſtature, dancing and ſinging, and putting duſt upon his head, as they ſuppoſed, in token of peace. This overture for friendſhip was, by Magellan's command, quickly anſwered by the reſt of his men; and the giant approaching, teſtified every mark of aſtoniſhment and ſurprize. He was ſo tall, that the Spaniards only reached his waiſt; his face was broad, his colour brown, and painted over with a variety of tints; each cheek had the reſemblance of an heart drawn upon it; [Page 261] his hair was approaching to whiteneſs; he was cloathed in ſkins, and armed with a bow. Being treated with kindneſs, and diſmiſſed with ſome trifling preſents, he ſoon returned, with many more of the ſame ſtature; two of whom the mariners decoyed on ſhip-board: nothing could be more gentle than they were in the beginning; they conſidered the fetters that were preparing for them, as ornaments, and played with them, like children with their toys; but when they found for what purpoſe they were intended, they inſtantly exerted their amazing ſtrength, and broke them in pieces with a very eaſy effort. This account, with a variety of other circumſtances, has been confirmed by ſucceeding travellers: Herrera, Sebald Wert, Oliver Van Noort, and James le Maire, all correſpond in affirming the fact, although they differ in many particulars of their reſpective deſcriptions. The laſt voyager we have had, that has ſeen this enormous race, is Commodore Byron. I have talked with the perſon who firſt gave the relation of that voyage, and who was the carpenter of the Commodore's ſhip; he was a ſenſible, underſtanding man, and I believe extremely faithful. By him, therefore, I was aſſured, in the moſt ſolemn manner, of the truth of his relation; and this account has ſince been [Page 262] confirmed by one or two publications; in all which, the particulars are pretty nearly the ſame. One of the circumſtances which moſt puzzled me to reconcile to probability, was that of the horſes, on which they are deſcribed as riding down to the ſhore. We know the American horſe to be of European breed; and, in ſome meaſure, to be degenerated from the original. I was at a loſs, therefore, to account how an horſe of not more than fourteen hands high, was capable of carrying a man of nine feet; or, in other words, an animal almoſt as large as itſelf. But the wonder will ceaſe, when we conſider, that ſo ſmall a beaſt as an aſs, will carry a man of ordinary ſize tolerably well; and the proportion between this, and the former inſtance, is tolerably exact. We can no longer, therefore, refuſe our aſſent to the exiſtence of this gigantic race of mankind; in what manner they are propagated, or under what regulations they live, is a ſubject that remains for future inveſtigation. It ſhould appear, however, that they are a wandering nation, changing their abode with the courſe of the ſun, and ſhifting their ſituation, for the convenience of food, climate, or paſture.
This race of giants are deſcribed as poſſeſſed of great ſtrength; and, no doubt, they [Page 263] muſt be very different from thoſe accidental giants that are to be ſeen in different parts of Europe. Stature with theſe, ſeems rather their infirmity than their pride; and adds to their burthen, without encreaſing their ſtrength. Of thoſe I have ſeen, the generality were ill-formed and unhealthful; weak in their perſons, or incapable of exerting what ſtrength they were poſſeſſed of. The ſame defects of underſtanding that attended thoſe of ſuppreſſed ſtature, were found in thoſe who were thus overgrown: they were heavy, phlegmatic, ſtupid, and inclined to ſadneſs. Their numbers, however, are but few; and it is thus kindly ordered by Providence, that as the middle ſtate is the beſt fitted for happineſs, ſo the middle ranks of mankind are produced in the greateſt variety.
However, mankind ſeems naturally to have a reſpect for men of extraordinary ſtature; and it has been a ſuppoſition of long ſtanding, that our anceſtors were much taller, as well as much more beautiful than we. This has been, indeed, a theme of poetical declamation from the beginning; and man was ſcarce formed, when he began to deplore an imaginary decay. Nothing is more natural than this progreſs of the mind, in looking up to antiquity with reverential wonder. Having been accuſtomed to [Page 264] compare the wiſdom of our fathers, with our own in early imbecillity, the impreſſion of their ſuperiority remains when they no longer exiſt, and when we ceaſe to be inferior. Thus the men of every age conſider the paſt as wiſer than the preſent; and the reverence ſeems to accumulate as our imaginations aſcend. For this reaſon, we allow remote antiquity many advantages, without diſputing their title: the inhabitants of uncivilized countries repreſent them as taller and ſtronger; and the people of a more poliſhed nation, as more healthy and more wiſe. Nevertheleſs, theſe attributes ſeem to be only the prejudices of ingenuous minds; a kind of gratitude, which we hope in turn to receive from poſterity. The ordinary ſtature of men, Mr. Derham obſerves, is, in all probability, the ſame now as at the beginning. The oldeſt meaſure we have of the human figure, is in the monument of Cheops, in the firſt pyramid of Egypt. This muſt have ſubſiſted many hundred years before the times of Homer, who is the firſt that deplores the decay. This monument, however, ſcarce exceeds the meaſure of our ordinary coffins: the cavity is no more than ſix feet long, two feet wide, and deep in about the ſame proportion. Several mummies alſo, of a very early age, are found to be only of the [Page 265] ordinary ſtature; and ſhew that, for theſe three thouſand years at leaſt, men have not ſuffered the leaſt diminution. We have many corroborating proofs of this, in the ancient pieces of armour which are dug up in different parts of Europe. The braſs helmet dug up at Medauro, fits one of our men, and yet is allowed to have been left there at the overthrow of Aſdrubal. Some of our fineſt antique ſtatues, which we learn from Pliny, and others, to be exactly as big as the life, ſtill continue to this day, remaining monuments of the ſuperior excellence of their workmen indeed, but not of the ſuperiority of their ſtature. We may conclude, therefore, that men have been, in all ages, pretty much of the ſame ſize they are at preſent; and that the only difference muſt have been accidental, or perhaps national.
As to the ſuperior beauty of our anceſtors, it is not eaſy to make the compariſon; beauty ſeems a very uncertain charm; and frequently is leſs in the object, than in the eye of the beholder. Were a modern lady's face formed exactly like the Venus of Medicis, or the ſleeping veſtal, ſhe would ſcarce be conſidered beautiful, except by the lovers of antiquity, whom, of all her admirers, perhaps, ſhe would [Page 266] be leaſt deſirous of pleaſing. It is true, that we have ſome diſorders among us that disfigure the features, and from which the ancients were exempt; but it is equally ſo, that we want ſome which were common among them, and which were equally deforming. As for their intellectual powers, theſe alſo were probably the ſame as ours: we excel them in the ſciences, which may be conſidered as an hiſtory of accumulated experience; and they excel us in the poetic arts, as they had the firſt rifling of all the ſtriking images of Nature.
‘"MAN * is not content with the uſual term of life, but he is willing to lengthen out his exiſtence by art; and although he cannot prevent death, he tries to obviate his diſſolution. It is natural to attempt to preſerve even the moſt trifling relicks of what has long given us pleaſure; nor does the mind ſeparate from the body, without a wiſh, that even the wretched heap of duſt it leaves behind, may yet be remembered. The embalming, practiſed in various nations, probably had its riſe in this fond deſire: an urn filled with aſhes, among the Romans, ſerved as a pledge of continuing affection; and even the graſſy graves in our own church yards, are raiſed above the ſurface, with the deſire that the body below ſhould not be wholly forgotten. The ſoul, ardent after eternity for itſelf, is willing to procure, even for the body, a prolonged duration."’
But of all nations, the Egyptians carried this art to the higheſt perfection: as it was a principle [Page 268] of their religion, to ſuppoſe the ſoul continued only coeval to the duration of the body, they tried every art to extend the life of the one, by preventing the diſſolution of the other. In this practice they were exerciſed from the earlieſt ages; and the mummies they have embalmed in this manner, continue in great numbers to the preſent day. We are told, in Geneſis, that Joſeph ſeeing his father expire, gave orders to his phyſicians to embalm the body, which they executed in the compaſs of forty days, which was the uſual time of embalming. Herodotus alſo, the moſt ancient of the prophane hiſtorians, gives us a copious detail of this art, as it was practiſed, in his time, among the Egyptians. There are certain men among them, ſays he, who practiſe embalming as a trade; which they perform with all expedition poſſible. In the firſt place, they draw out the brain through the noſtrils, with irons adapted to this purpoſe; and in proportion as they evacuate it in this manner, they fill up the cavity with aromatics: they next cut open the belly, near the ſides, with a ſharpened ſtone, and take out the entrails, which they cleanſe, and waſh in palm oil: having performed this operation, they roll them in aromatic powder, fill them with myrrh, caſſia, and other perfumes, except [Page 269] incenſe; and replace them, ſewing up the body again. After theſe precautions, they ſalt the body with nitre, and keep it in the ſalting-place for ſeventy days, it not being permitted to preſerve it ſo any longer. When the ſeventy days are accompliſhed, and the body waſhed once more, they ſwathe it in bands made of linen, which have been dipt in a gum the Egyptians uſe inſtead of ſalt. When the friends have taken back the body, they make an hollow trough, ſomething like the ſhape of a man, in which they place the body; and this they incloſe in a box, preſerving the whole as a moſt precious relick, placed againſt the wall. Such are the ceremonies uſed with regard to the rich; as for thoſe who are contented with an humbler preparation, they treat them as follows: they fill a ſyringe with an odoriferous liquor extracted from the cedar tree, and, without making any inciſion, inject it up the body of the deceaſed, and then keep it in nitre, as long as in the former caſe. When the time is expired, they evacuate the body of the cedar liquor which had been injected; and ſuch is the effect of this operation, that the liquor diſſolves the inteſtines, and brings them away: the nitre alſo, ſerves to eat away the fleſh; and leaves only the ſkin and the bones remaining. This [Page 270] done, the body is returned to the friends, and the embalmer takes no farther trouble about it. The third method of embalming thoſe of the meaneſt condition, is merely by purging and cleanſing the inteſtines by frequent injections, and preſerving the body for a ſimilar term in nitre, at the end of which it is reſtored to the relations.
Diodorus Siculus alſo, makes mention of the manner in which theſe embalmings are performed. According to him, there were ſeveral officers appointed for this purpoſe: the firſt of them, who was called the ſcribe, marked thoſe parts of the body, on the left ſide, which were to be opened; the cutter made the inciſion; and one of thoſe that were to ſalt it, drew out all the bowels, except the heart and the kidnies; another waſhed them in palm-wine, and odoriferous liquors; afterwards, they anointed for above thirty days, with cedar, gum, myrrh, cinnamon, and other perfumes. Theſe aromatics preſerved the body entire for a long time, and gave it a very agreeable odour. It was not in the leaſt disfigured by this preparation; after which it was returned to the relations, who kept it in a coffin, plac'd upright againſt the wall.
Moſt of the modern writers who have treated [Page 271] on this ſubject, have merely repeated what has been ſaid by Herodotus; and if they add any thing of their own, it is but merely from conjecture. Dumont obſerves, that it is very probable, that aloes, bitumen, and cinnamon, make a principal part of the compoſition which is uſed on this occaſion: he adds, that after embalming, the body is put into a coffin, made of the ſycamore-tree, which is almoſt incorruptible. Mr. Grew remarks, that in an Egyptian mummy, in the poſſeſſion of the Royal Society, the preparation was ſo penetrating, as to enter into the very ſubſtance of the bones, and rendered them ſo black, that they ſeemed to have been burnt. From this he is induced to believe, that the Egyptians had a cuſtom of embalming their dead, by boiling them in a kind of liquid preparation, until all the aqueous parts of the body were exhaled away; and until the oily or gummy matter had penetrated throughout. He propoſes, in conſequence of this, a method of macerating, and afterwards of boiling the dead body in oil of walnut.
I am, for my own part, of opinion, that there were ſeveral ways of preſerving dead bodies from putrefaction; and that this would be no difficult matter, ſince different nations have all [Page 272] ſucceeded in the attempt. We have an example of this kind among the Guanches, the ancient inhabitants of the iſland of Teneriff. Thoſe who ſurvived the general deſtruction of this people, by the Spaniards, when they conquered this iſland, informed them, that the art of embalming was ſtill preſerved there; and that there was a tribe of prieſts among them, poſſeſſed of the ſecret, which they kept concealed as a ſacred myſtery. As the greateſt part of the nation was deſtroyed, the Spaniards could not arrive at a complete knowledge of this art; they only found out a few of the particulars. Having taken out the bowels, they waſhed the body ſeveral times in a lee, made of the dried bark of the pine-tree, warmed, during the ſummer, by the ſun, or by a ſtove in the winter. They afterwards anointed it with butter, or the fat of bears, which they had previouſly boiled with odoriferous herbs, ſuch as ſage and lavender. After this unction, they ſuffered the body to dry; and then repeated the operation, as often as it was neceſſary, until the whole ſubſtance was impregnated with the preparation. When it was become very light, it was then a certain ſign that it was fit, and properly prepared. They then rolled it up in the dried ſkins of goats; which, when they had a [Page 273] mind to ſave expence, they ſuffered to remain with the hair ſtill growing upon them. Purchas aſſures us, that he has ſeen mummies of this kind in London; and mentions the name of a gentleman who had ſeen ſeveral of them in the iſland of Teneriff, which were ſuppoſed to have been two thouſand years old; but without any certain proofs of ſuch great antiquity. This people, who probably came firſt from the coaſts of Africa, might have learned this art from the Egyptians, as there was a traffic carried on from thence into the moſt internal parts of Africa.
Father Acoſta, and Garcilaſſo de la Vega, make no doubt but that the Peruvians underſtood the art of preſerving their dead for a very long ſpace of time. They aſſert their having ſeen the bodies of ſeveral Incas, that were perfectly preſerved. They ſtill preſerved their hair, and their eye-brows; but they had eyes, made of gold, put in the places of thoſe taken out. They were cloathed in their uſual habits, and ſeated in the manner of the Indians, their arms placed on their breaſts. Garcilaſſo touched one of their fingers, and found it apparently as hard as wood; and the whole body was not heavy enough to over-burthen a weak man, who ſhould attempt to carry it away. [Page 274] Acoſta preſumes, that theſe bodies were embalmed with a bitumen, of which the Indians knew the properties. Garcilaſſo, however, is of a different opinion, as he ſaw nothing bituminous about them; but he confeſſes, that he did not examine them very particularly; and he regrets his not having enquired into the methods uſed for that purpoſe. He adds that, being a Peruvian, his countrymen would not have ſcrupled to inform him of the ſecret, if they really had it ſtill among them.
Garcilaſſo, thus being ignorant of the ſecret, makes uſe of ſome inductions, to throw light upon the ſubject; he aſſerts, that the air is ſo dry and ſo cold at Cuſco, that fleſh dries there like wood, without corrupting: and he is of opinion, that they dried the body in ſnow, before they applied the bitumen: he adds, that in the times of the Incas, they uſually dried the fleſh which was deſigned for the ammunition of the army; and that when they had loſt their humidity, they might be kept without ſalt, or any other preparation.
It is ſaid, that at Spitſbergen, which lies within the artic circle, and, conſequently, in the coldeſt climate, bodies never corrupt, nor ſuffer any apparent alteration, even though buried for thirty years: nothing corrupts or putrifies [Page 275] in that climate; the wood which has been employed in building thoſe houſes where the train-oil is ſeparated, appears as freſh as the day they were firſt cut.
If exceſſive cold, therefore, be thus capable of preſerving bodies from corruption, it is not leſs certain, that a great degree of dryneſs, produced by heat, produces the ſame effect. It is well known, that the men and animals that are buried in the ſands of Arabia, quickly dry up, and continue in preſervation for ſeveral ages, as if they had been actually embalmed. It has often happened, that whole caravans have periſhed in croſſing thoſe deſerts, either by the burning winds that infeſt them, or by the ſands which are raiſed by the tempeſt, and overwhelm every creature in certain ruin. The bodies of thoſe perſons are preſerved entire; and they are often found in this condition by ſome accidental paſſenger. Many authors, both ancient and modern, make mention of ſuch mummies as theſe; and Shaw ſays, that he has been aſſured, that numbers of men, as well as other animals, have been thus preſerved, for times immemorial, in the burning ſands of Saibah, which is a place, he ſuppoſes, ſituate between Raſem and Egypt.
The corruption of dead bodies, being entirely [Page 276] cauſed by the fermentation of the humours, whatever is capable of hindering or retarding this fermentation, will contribute to their preſervation. Both heat and cold, though ſo contrary in themſelves, produce ſimilar effects in this particular, by drying up the humours. The cold in condenſing and thickening them, and the heat in evaporating them before they have time to act upon the ſolids. But it is neceſſary that theſe extremes ſhould be conſtant; for if they ſucceed each other ſo as that cold ſhall follow heat, or dryneſs humidity, it muſt then neceſſarily happen, that corruption muſt enſue. However, in temperate climates, there are natural cauſes capable of preſerving dead bodies; among which we may reckon the qualities of the earth in which they are buried. If the earth be drying and aſtringent, it will imbibe the humidity of the body; and it may be probably for this reaſon that the bodies buried in the monaſtery of the Cordeliers, at Thoulouſe, do not putrify, but dry in ſuch a manner that one may lift them up by one arm.
The gums, reſins, and bitumens, with which dead bodies are embalmed, keep off the impreſſions which they would elſe receive from the alteration of the temperature of the air; and ſtill [Page 277] more, if a body thus prepared be placed in a dry or burning ſand, the moſt powerful means will be united for its preſervation. We are not to be ſurprized, therefore, at what we are told by Chardin, of the county of Choroſan, in Perſia. The bodies which have been previouſly embalmed, and buried in the ſands of that country, as he aſſures us, are found to petrify, or, in other words, to become extremely hard, and are preſerved for ſeveral ages. It is aſſerted that ſome of them have continued for a thouſand years.
The Egyptians, as has been mentioned above, ſwathed the body with linen bands, and encloſed it in a coffin; however, it is probable that, with all theſe precautions, they would not have continued till now, if the tombs, or pits, in which they were placed, had not been dug in a dry chalky ſoil, which was not ſuſceptible of humidity; and which was, beſides, covered over with a dry ſand of ſeveral feet thickneſs.
The ſepulchres of the ancient Egyptians ſubſiſt to this day. Moſt travellers who have been in Egypt, have deſcribed thoſe of ancient mummies, and have ſeen the mummies interred there. Theſe catacombs are within two leagues of the ruins of this city, nine leagues from [Page 278] Grand Cairo, and about two miles from the village of Zaccara. They extend from thence to the Pyramids of Pharaoh, which are about eight miles diſtant. Theſe ſepulchres lie in a field, covered with a fine running ſand, of a yellowiſh colour. The country is dry and hilly; the entrance of the tomb is choaked up with ſand; there are many open, but ſeveral more that are ſtill concealed. The inhabitants of the neighbouring village have no other commerce, or method of ſubſiſting, but by ſeeking out mummies, and ſelling them to ſuch ſtrangers as happen to be at Grand Cairo. ‘"This commerce, ſome years ago, was not only a very common, but a very gainful one. A complete mummy was often ſold for twenty pounds: but it muſt not be ſuppoſed that it was bought at ſuch an high price from a mere paſſion for antiquity; there were much more powerful motives for this traffic. Mummy at that time made a conſiderable article in medicine; and a thouſand imaginary virtues were aſcribed to it, for the cure of moſt diſorders, particularly of the paralytic kind. There was no ſhop, therefore, without mummy in it; and no phyſician thought he had properly treated his patient, without adding this to his preſcription. Induced by the general repute, in which this ſuppoſed [Page 279] drug was at that time, ſeveral Jews, both of Italy and France, found out the art of imitating mummy ſo exactly, that they, for a long time, deceived all Europe. This they did by drying dead bodies in ovens, after having prepared them with myrrh, aloes, and bitumen. Still, however, the requeſt for mummies continued, and a variety of cures were daily aſcribed to them. At length, Paraeus wrote a treatiſe on their total inefficacy in phyſic; and ſhewed their abuſe in loading the ſtomach, to the excluſion of more efficacious medicines. From that time, therefore, their reputation began to decline; the Jews diſcontinued their counterfeits, and the trade returned entire to the Egyptians, when it was of no longer value. The induſtry of ſeeking after mummies is now totally relaxed, their price merely arbitrary, and juſt what the curious are willing to give."’
In ſeeking for mummies, they firſt clear away the ſand, which they may do for weeks together, without finding what they want. Upon coming to a little ſquare opening, of about eighteen feet in depth, they deſcend into it, by holes for the feet, placed at proper intervals; and there they are ſure of finding what they ſeek for. Theſe caves, or wells, as they call them there, are hollowed out of a white [Page 280] free-ſtone, which is found in all this country a few feet below the covering of ſand. When one gets to the bottom of theſe, which are ſometimes forty feet below the ſurface, there are ſeveral ſquare openings, on each ſide, into paſſages of ten or fifteen feet wide, and theſe lead to chambers of fifteen or twenty feet ſquare. Theſe are all hewn out into the rock; and in each of the catacombs are to be found ſeveral of theſe apartments, communicating with each other. They extend a great way under ground, ſo as to be under the city of Memphis, and in a manner to undermine its environs.
In ſome of the chambers, the walls are adorned with figures and hieroglyphics; in others, the mummies are found in tombs, round the apartment hollowed out in the rock. Theſe tombs are upright, and cut into the ſhape of a man, with his arms ſtretched out. There are ſtill others found, and theſe in the greateſt number, in wooden coffins, or in cloaths covered with bitumen. Theſe coffins, or wrappers, are all over covered with a variety of ornaments. There are ſome of them painted, and are adorned with figures, ſuch as that of death, and the leaden ſeals, on which ſeveral characters are engraven. Some of theſe coffins are carved [Page 281] into the human ſhape; but the head alone is diſtinguiſhable; the reſt of the body is all of a piece, and terminated by a pedeſtal, while there are ſome with their arms hanging down; and it is by theſe marks that the bodies of perſons of rank are diſtinguiſhed from thoſe of the meaner order. Theſe are generally found lying on the floor, without any profuſion of ornaments; and in ſome chambers the mummies are found indiſcriminately piled upon each other, and buried in the ſand.
Many mummies are found lying on their backs; their heads turned to the north, and the hands placed on the belly. The bands of linen, with which theſe are ſwathed, are found to be more than a thouſand yards long; and, of conſequence, the number of circumvolutions they make about the body muſt have been amazing. Theſe were performed by beginning at the head, and ending at the feet; but they contrived it ſo as to avoid covering the face. However, when the face is entirely uncovered, it moulders into duſt immediately upon the admiſſion of the air. When, therefore, it is preſerved entire, a ſlight covering of cloth is ſo diſpoſed over it, as that the ſhape of the eye, the noſe, and the mouth, are ſeen under it. Some mummies have been found with a long [Page 282] beard, and hair that reached down to the mid-leg, nails of a ſurprizing length, and ſome gilt, or at leaſt painted of a gold colour. Some are found with bands upon the breaſt, covered with hieroglyphics, in gold, ſilver, or in green; and ſome with tutelary idols, and other figures of jaſper, within their body. A piece of gold, alſo, has often been found under their tongues, of about two piſtoles value; and, for this reaſon, the Arabians ſpoil all the mummies they meet with, in order to get at the gold.
But, although art, or accident, has thus been found to preſerve dead bodies entire, it muſt by no means be ſuppoſed that it is capable of preſerving the exact form and lineaments of the deceaſed perſon. Thoſe bodies which are found dried away in the Deſarts, or in ſome particular church-yards, are totally deformed and ſcarce any lineaments remain of their external ſtructure. Nor are the mummies preſerved by embalming, in a better condition. The fleſh is dried away, hardened, and hidden under a variety of bandages; the bowels, as we have ſeen, are totally removed; and from hence, in the moſt perfect of them, we ſee only a ſhapeleſs maſs of ſkin diſcoloured; and even the features ſcarce diſtinguiſhable. The art is, therefore, an effort rather of preſerving [Page 283] the ſubſtance than the likeneſs of the deceaſed; and has, conſequently, not been brought to its higheſt pitch of perfection. It appears from a mummy, not long ſince dug up in France, that the art of embalming was more completely underſtood in the weſtern world than even in Egypt itſelf. This mummy, which was dug up at Auvergne, was an amazing inſtance of their ſkill, and is one of the moſt curious reliques in the art of preſervation. As ſome peaſants, in that part of the world, were digging in a field near Rion, within about twenty-ſix paces of the highway, between that and the river Artier, they diſcovered a tomb, that was about a foot and a half beneath the ſurface. It was compoſed only of two ſtones; one of which formed the body of the ſepulchre, and the other the cover. This tomb was of free-ſtone; ſeven feet and an half long, three feet and a half broad, and about three feet high. It was of rude workmanſhip; the cover had been poliſhed, but was without figure or inſcription: within this tomb was placed a leaden coffin, four feet ſeven inches long, fourteen inches broad, and fifteen high. It was not made coffin faſhion, but oblong, like a box, equally broad at both ends, and covered with a lid that fitted on like a ſnuff-box, without [Page 284] an hinge. This cover had two holes in it, each of about two inches long, and very narrow, filled with a ſubſtance reſembling butter; but for what purpoſe intended remains unknown. Within this coffin was a mummy, in the higheſt and moſt perfect preſervation. The internal ſides of the coffin were filled with an aromatic ſubſtance, mingled with clay. Round the mummy was wrapped a coarſe cloth, in form of a napkin; under this were two ſhirts, or ſhrouds, of the moſt exquiſite texture; beneath theſe a bandage, which covered all parts of the body, like an infant in ſwadling cloaths; ſtill, under this general bandage there was another, which went particularly round the extremities, the hands and the legs. The head was covered with two caps; the feet and hands were without any particular bandages; and the whole body was covered with an aromatic ſubſtance, an inch thick. When theſe were removed, and the body expoſed naked to view, nothing could be more aſtoniſhing than the preſervation of the whole, and the exact reſemblance it bore to a body that had but juſt been dead a day or two before. It appeared well proportioned, except that the head was rather large, and the feet ſmall. The ſkin had all the pliancy and colour of a body lately [Page 285] dead; the viſage, however, was of a browniſh hue. The belly yielded to the touch; all the joints were flexible, except thoſe of the legs and feet; the fingers ſtretched forth of themſelves when bent inwards. The nails ſtill continued perfect; and all the marks of the joints, both in the fingers, the palms of the hands, and the ſoles of the feet, remained perfectly viſible. The bones of the arms and legs were ſoft and pliant; but, on the contrary, thoſe of the ſkull preſerved their rigidity; the hair, which only covered the back of the head, was of a cheſnut colour, and about two inches long. The pericranum at top was ſeparated from the ſkull, by an inciſion, in order to open that for the introducing proper aromatics in the place of the brain, where they were found mixed with clay. The teeth, the tongue, and the ears, were all preſerved in perfect form. The inteſtines were not taken out of the body, but remained pliant and entire, as in a freſh ſubject; and the breaſt was made to riſe and fall like a pair of bellows. The embalming preparation had a very ſtrong and pungent ſmell, which the body preſerved for more than a month after it was expoſed to the air. This odour was perceived whenever the mummy was laid; although it remained there but a very [Page 286] ſhort time, it was even pretended that the peaſants of the neighbouring villages were incommoded by it. If one touched either the mummy, or any part of the preparation, the hands ſmelt of it for ſeveral hours after, although waſhed with water, ſpirit of wine, or vinegar. This mummy, having remained expoſed for ſome months to the curioſity of the public, began to ſuffer ſome mutilations. A part of the ſkin of the forehead was cut off; all its teeth were drawn out, and ſome attempts were made to pull away the tongue. It was, therefore, put into a glaſs-caſe, and ſhortly after tranſmitted to the king of France's cabinet, at Paris.
There are many reaſons to believe this to be the body of a perſon of the higheſt diſtinction; however, no marks remain to aſſure us either of the quality of the perſon, or the time of his deceaſe. There only are to be ſeen ſome irregular figures on the coffin; one of which repreſents a kind of ſtar. There were alſo ſome ſingular characters upon the bandages, which were totally defaced by thoſe who had torn them away. However, it ſhould ſeem that it had remained for ſeveral ages in this ſtate, ſince the firſt years immediately ſucceeding the interment, are uſually thoſe in which the body is moſt liable to decay. It appears alſo to be a much [Page 287] more perfect method of embalming than that of the Egyptians; as in this the fleſh continues with its natural elaſticity and colour, the bowels remain entire, and the joints have almoſt the pliancy which they had when the perſon was alive. Upon the whole, it is probable that a much leſs tedious preparation than that uſed by the Egyptians would have ſufficed to keep the body from putrefaction; and that an injection of petreoleum inwardly, and a layer of aſphaltum without, would have ſufficed to have made a mummy; and it is remarkable that Auvergne, where this was found, affords theſe two ſubſtances in ſufficient plenty. This art, therefore, might be brought to greater perfection than it has arrived at hitherto, were the art worth preſerving. But mankind have long ſince grown wiſer in this reſpect; and are contented no longer to keep by them a deformed carcaſs, which, inſtead of aiding their magnificence, muſt only ſerve to mortify their pride.
LEAVING man, we now deſcend to the lower ranks of animated nature, and prepare to examine the life, manners, and characters of theſe our humble partners in the creation. But, in ſuch a wonderful variety as is diffuſed around us, where ſhall we begin. The number of beings endued with life as well as we, ſeems, at firſt view, infinite. Not only the foreſt, the waters, the air, teems with animals of various kinds; but almoſt every vegetable, every leaf, has millions of minute inhabitants, each of which fill up the circle of its allotted life, and ſome of which are found objects of the greateſt curioſity. In this ſeeming exuberance of animals, it is natural enough for ignorance to lie down in hopeleſs uncertainty, and to declare what requires labour to particularize to be utterly inſcrutable. It is otherwiſe however with the active and ſearching mind; no way intimidated with the immenſe variety, it begins the taſk of numbering, grouping and claſſing all the various kind that fall within its notice; finds every day new relations between [Page 289] the ſeveral parts of the creation, acquires the art of conſidering ſeveral at a time under one point of view; and, at laſt, begins to find that the variety is neither ſo great nor ſo inſcrutable as was at firſt imagined. As in a clear night, the number of the ſtars ſeems infinite; yet, if we ſedulouſly attend to each in its place, and regularly claſs them, they will ſoon be found to diminiſh, and come within a very ſcanty computation.
Method, therefore, is one of the principal helps in natural hiſtory, and without it very little progreſs can be made in this ſcience. It is by that alone we can hope to diſſipate that glare, if I may ſo expreſs it, that ariſes from a multiplicity of objects at once preſenting themſelves to the view. It is method that fixes the attention to one point, and leads it, by ſlow and certain degrees, to leave no part of nature unobſerved.
All naturaliſts, therefore, have been very careful in adopting ſome method of claſſing or grouping the ſeveral parts of nature; and ſome have written books of natural hiſtory with no other view. Theſe methodical diviſions ſome have treated with contempt*, not conſidering that books, in general, are written [Page 290] with oppoſite views: ſome to be read, and ſome only to be occaſionally conſulted. The methodiſts, in natural hiſtory, ſeem to be content with the latter advantage; and have ſacrificed to order alone, all the delights of the ſubject, all the arts of heightening, awakening, or continuing curioſity. But they certainly have the ſame uſe in ſcience that a dictionary has in language; but with this difference, that in a dictionary we proceed from the name to the definition; in a ſyſtem of natural hiſtory, we proceed from the definition to find out the thing. Without the aid of ſyſtem, nature muſt ſtill have lain undiſtinguiſhed, like furniture in a lumber room; every thing we wiſh for is there, indeed; but we know not where to find it. If, for inſtance, in a morning excurſion, I find a plant, or an inſect, the name of which I deſire to learn; or, perhaps, am curious to know whether already known; in this enquiry I can expect information only from one of theſe ſyſtems, which, being couched in a methodical form, quickly directs me to what I ſeek for. Thus we will ſuppoſe that our enquirer has met with a ſpider, and that he has never ſeen ſuch an inſect before. He is taught by the writer of a ſyſtem* to examine whether it has wings, and [Page 291] he finds that it has none. He, therefore, is to look for it among the wingleſs inſects, or the Aptera, as he calls them; he then is to ſee whether the head and breaſt make one part of the body, or are diſunited: he finds they make one: he is then to reckon the number of feet and eyes, and he finds that it has eight of each. The inſect, therefore, muſt be either a ſcorpion or a ſpider; but he laſtly examines its feelers, which he finds clavated, or clubbed; and, by all theſe marks, he at laſt diſcovers it to be a ſpider. Of ſpiders, there are forty-ſeven ſorts; and, by reading the deſcription of each, the enquirer will learn the name of that which he deſires to know. With the name of the inſect, he is alſo directed to thoſe authors that have given any account of it, and the page where that account is to be found; by this means he may know at once what has been ſaid of that animal by others, and what there is of novelty in the reſult of his own reſearches.
From hence, therefore, it will appear how uſeful thoſe ſyſtems in natural hiſtory are to the enquirer; but, having given them all their merit, it would be wrong not to obſerve, that they have in general been very much abuſed. Their authors, in general, ſeem to think that [Page 292] they are improvers of natural hiſtory, when in reality they are but guides; they ſeem to boaſt that they are adding to our knowledge, while they are only arranging it. Theſe authors alſo, ſeem to think that the reading of their works and ſyſtems, is the beſt method to attain a knowledge of nature; but, ſetting aſide the impoſſibility of getting through whole volumes of a dry long catalogue, the multiplicity of whoſe contents is too great for even the ſtrongeſt memory; ſuch works rather tell us the names than the hiſtory of the creature we deſire to enquire after. In theſe dreary pages, every inſect, or plant, that has a name, makes as diſtinguiſhed a figure as the moſt wonderful, or the moſt uſeful. The true end of ſtudying nature is to make a juſt ſelection, to find thoſe parts of it that moſt conduce to our pleaſure or convenience, and to leave the reſt in greater neglect. But theſe ſyſtems, employing the ſame degree of attention upon all, give us no opportunities of knowing which moſt deſerves attention; and he who has made his knowledge from ſuch ſyſtems only, has his memory crouded with a number of trifling, or minute particulars, which it ſhould be his buſineſs and his labour to forget. Theſe books, as was ſaid before, are uſeful to be conſulted, but they are [Page 293] very unneceſſary to be read; no enquirer in nature ſhould be without one of them; and without any doubt Linnaeus deſerves the preference.
One fault more, in almoſt all theſe ſyſtematic writers, and that which leads me to the ſubject of the preſent chapter, is, that ſeeing the neceſſity of methodical diſtribution in ſome parts of nature, they have introduced it into all. Finding the utility of arranging plants, birds, or inſects, they have arranged quadrupedes alſo with the ſame aſſiduity; and although the number of theſe is ſo few as not to reach two hundred, they have darkened the ſubject with diſtinctions and diviſions, which only ſerve to puzzle and perplex. All method is only uſeful in giving perſpicuity, where the ſubject is either dark or copious: but with regard to quadrupedes, the number is but few; many of them we are well acquainted with by habit; and the reſt may very readily be known, without any method. In treating of ſuch, therefore, it would be uſeleſs to confound the reader with a multiplicity of diviſions; as quadrupedes are conſpicuous enough to obtain the ſecond rank in nature, it becomes us to be acquainted with, at leaſt, the names of them all. However, as there are naturaliſts who have gained a name [Page 294] from the excellence of their methods, in claſſing theſe animals, ſome readers may deſire to have a knowledge of what has been laboriouſly invented for their inſtruction. I will juſt take leave, therefore, to mention the moſt applauded methods of claſſing animals, as adopted by Ray, Klein, and Linnaeus; for it often happens, that the terms which have been long uſed in a ſcience, though frivolous, become, by preſcription, a part of the ſcience itſelf.
Ray, after Ariſtotle, divides all animals into two kinds; thoſe which have blood, and thoſe which are bloodleſs. In the laſt claſs, he places all the inſect tribes. The former he divides into ſuch as breathe through the lungs, and ſuch as breathe through gills: theſe laſt comprehend the fiſhes. In thoſe which breathe through the lungs, ſome have the heart compoſed of two ventricles, and ſome have it of one. Of the laſt are all animals of the cetaceous kind, all oviparous quadrupedes, and ſerpents. Of thoſe that have two ventricles, ſome are oviparous, which are the birds; and ſome viviparous, which are quadrupedes. The quadrupedes he divides into ſuch as have an hoof, and ſuch as are claw-footed. Thoſe with the hoof, he divides into ſuch as have it undivided, ſuch as have it cloven, and ſuch as have the [Page 295] hoof divided into more parts, as the rhinoceros, and hippopotamos. Animals with the cloven hoof, he divides into ſuch as chew the cud, ſuch as the cow, and the ſheep; and ſuch as are not ruminant, as the hog. He divides thoſe animals that chew the cud, into four kinds: the firſt have hollow horns, which they never ſhed, as the cow; the ſecond is of a leſs ſpecies, and is of the ſheep kind; the third is of the goat kind; and the laſt, which have ſolid horns, and ſhed them annually, are of the deer kind. Coming to the claw-footed animals, he finds ſome with large claws, reſembling the fingers of the human hand; and theſe he makes the ape kind. Of the others, ſome have the foot divided in two, and have a claw to each diviſion; theſe are the camel kind. The elephant makes a kind by itſelf, as its claws are covered over by a ſkin. The reſt of the numerous tribe of claw-footed animals, he divides into two kinds; the analogous, or ſuch as reſemble each other; and the anomalous, which differ from the reſt. The analogous claw-footed animals, are of two kinds: they have more than two cutting teeth in each jaw, ſuch as the lion and the dog, which are carnivorous; or they have but two cutting teeth in each jaw; and theſe are chiefly fed upon vegetables. [Page 296] The carnivorous kinds are divided into the great and the little. The great carnivorous animals are divided into ſuch as have a ſhort ſnout, as the cat and the lion; and ſuch as have it long and pointed, as the dog and the wolf. The little claw-footed carnivorous animals, differ from the great, in having a proportionably ſmaller head, and a ſlender body, that fits them for creeping into holes, in purſuit of their prey, like worms; and they are therefore called the vermin kind.
We ſee, from this ſketch of diviſion and ſubdiviſion, how a ſubject, extremely delightful and amuſing in itſelf, may be darkened, and rendered diſguſting. But, notwithſtanding, Ray ſeems to be one of the moſt ſimple diſtributors; and his method is ſtill, and not without reaſon, adopted by many. Such as have been at the trouble to learn this method, will certainly find it uſeful; nor would we be thought, in the leaſt, to take from its merits; all we contend for is, that the ſame information may be obtained by a pleaſanter and an eaſier method.
It was the great ſucceſs of Ray's method, that ſoon after produced ſuch a variety of attempts in the ſame manner; but almoſt all leſs ſimple, and more obſcure. Mr. Klein's method is briefly as follows: he makes the power [Page 297] of changing place, the characteriſtic mark of animals in general; and he takes their diſtinctions from their aptitude and fitneſs for ſuch a change. Some change place by means of feet, or ſome ſimilar contrivance; others have wings and feet: ſome can change place only in water, and have only fins; ſome go upon earth, without any feet at all: ſome change place, by moving their ſhell; and ſome move only at a certain time of the year. Of ſuch, however, as do not move at all, he takes no notice. The quadrupedes that move chiefly by means of four feet upon land, he divides into two orders. The firſt are the hoofed kind; and the ſecond, the claw kind. Each of theſe orders is divided into four families. The firſt family of the hoofed kind, are the ſingle hoofed, ſuch as the horſe, aſs, &c. The ſecond family are ſuch as have the hoof cloven into two parts, ſuch as the cow, &c. The third family have the hoof divided into three parts; and in this family is found only the rhinoceros. The fourth family have the hoof divided into five parts; and in this is only to be found the elephant. With reſpect to the clawed kind, the firſt family comprehends thoſe that have but two claws on each foot, as the camel; the ſecond family have three claws; [Page 298] the third, four; and the fourth, five. This method of taking the diſtinctions of animals from the organs of motion, is ingenious; but it is, at the ſame time, incomplete: and, beſides, the diviſions into which it muſt neceſſarily fall, is inadequate; ſince, for inſtance, in his family with two claws, there is but one animal; whereas, in his family with five claws, there are above an hundred.
Briſſon, who has laboured this ſubject with great accuracy, divides animated nature into nine claſſes: namely, quadrupedes; cetaceous animals, or thoſe of the whale kind; birds; reptiles, or thoſe of the ſerpent kind; cartilaginous fiſhes; ſpinous fiſhes; ſhelled animals; inſects; and worms. He divides the quadrupedes into eighteen orders; and takes their diſtinctions, from the number and form of their teeth.
According to him, the firſt diſtinction of animals is to be taken from their internal ſtructure. Some have the heart with two ventricles, and hot red blood: namely, quadrupedes and birds. The quadrupedes are viviparous, and the birds oviparous.
The diſtinctions of quadrupedes, or animals with paps, as he calls them, are taken from their teeth. He divides them into ſeven orders; to which he gives names that are not eaſy of tranſlation: Primates, or principals, with four cutting teeth in each jaw; Bruta, or brutes, with no cutting teeth; Ferae, or wild beaſts, with generally ſix cutting teeth in each jaw; Glires, or dormice, with two cutting teeth, both above and below; Pecora, or cattle, with many cutting teeth above, and none below; Belluae, or beaſts, with the fore teeth blunt; Cete, or thoſe of the whale kind, with cartilaginous teeth. I have but juſt ſketched out this ſyſtem, as being, in its own nature, the cloſeſt abridgment; it would take volumes to dilate it to its proper length. The names of the different animals, and their claſſes, alone makes two thick octavo volumes; and yet nothing is given but the ſlighteſt deſcription of each. I [Page 300] have omitted all criticiſm alſo, upon the accuracy of the preceding ſyſtems: this has been done both by Buffon and Daubenton, not with leſs truth than humour, for they had too much good ſenſe not to ſee the abſurdity of multiplying the terms of ſcience to no end, and diſappointing our curioſity rather with a catalogue of nature's varieties than an hiſtory of nature.
Inſtead, therefore, of taxing the memory and teizing the patience with ſuch a variety of diviſions and ſubdiviſions, I will take leave to claſs the productions of nature in the moſt obvious, though not in the moſt accurate manner. In natural hiſtory, of all other ſciences, there is the leaſt danger of obſcurity. In morals, or in metaphyſics, every definition muſt be preciſe, becauſe thoſe ſciences are built upon definitions; but it is otherwiſe in thoſe ſubjects where the exhibition of the object itſelf is always capable of correcting the error. Thus it may often happen that in a lax ſyſtem of natural hiſtory, a creature may be ranked among quadrupedes that belongs more properly to the fiſh or the inſect claſſes. But that can produce very little confuſion, and every reader can thus make a ſyſtem the moſt agreeable to his own imagination. It will be of no manner of conſequence whether we call a bird [Page 301] or an inſect a quadrupede, if we are careful in marking all its diſtinctions: the uncertainty in reaſoning, or thinking, that theſe approximations of the different kinds of animals produce, is but very ſmall, and happens but very rarely; whereas the labour that naturaliſts have been at to keep the kinds aſunder, had been exceſſive. This, in general, has given birth to that variety of ſyſtems which we have juſt mentioned, each of which ſeems to be almoſt as good as the preceding.
Taking, therefore, this latitude, and uſing method only where it contributes to conciſeneſs or perſpicuity, we ſhall divide animated nature into four claſſes; namely, quadrupedes, birds, fiſhes, and inſects. All theſe ſeem in general pretty well diſtinguiſhed from each other by nature; yet there are ſeveral inſtances in which we can ſcarce tell whether it is a bird or a quadrupede that we are about to examine; whether it is a fiſh or an inſect that offers to our curioſity. Nature is varied by imperceptible gradations, ſo that no line can be drawn between any two claſſes of its productions, and no definition made to comprehend them all. However, the diſtinctions between theſe claſſes are ſufficiently marked in general; and their encroachments upon each other are ſo rare, that [Page 302] it will be ſufficient particularly to apprize the reader when they happen to be blended.
There are many quadrupedes that we are well acquainted with; and of thoſe we do not know we ſhall form the moſt clear and diſtinct conceptions, by being told wherein they differ, and wherein they reſemble thoſe with which we are familiar. Each claſs of quadrupedes may be ranged under ſome one of the domeſtic kinds, that may ſerve for the model by which we are to form ſome kind of idea of the reſt. Thus we may ſay that a tiger is of the cat kind, a wolf of the dog kind, becauſe there are ſome rude reſemblances between each; and a perſon who has never ſeen the wild animals will have ſome incomplete knowledge of their figure from the tame ones. On the contrary, I will not, as ſome ſyſtematic writers have done*, ſay that a bat is of the human kind, or an hog of the horſe kind, merely becauſe there is ſome reſemblance in their teeth, or their paps. For, although this reſemblance may be ſtriking enough, yet a perſon who has never ſeen a bat or a hog, will never form any juſt conception of either, by being told of this minute ſimilitude. In ſhort, the method in claſſing quadrupedes ſhould be taken from their [Page 303] moſt ſtriking reſemblances; and where theſe reſemblances do not offer, we ſhould not force the ſimilitude, but leave the animal to be deſcribed as a ſolitary ſpecies, by itſelf. The number of quadrupedes, is ſo few that, indeed, without any method whatſoever, there is no great, danger of confuſion.
The third claſs is that of the Sheep kind; with cloven hoofs, and chewing the cud, like the former. In this is comprehended the Sheep, the Goat, the Lama, the Vigogne, the Gazella, the Guinea deer, and all of a ſimilar form.
The fourth claſs is that of the Deer kind, with cloven hoofs, and with ſolid horns, that are ſhed every year. This claſs contains the Elk, the Rein-deer, the Stag, the Buck, the Roe-buck, and the Axis.
The ſixth claſs is that numerous one of the Cat kind. This comprehends the Cat, the Lion, the Panther, the Leopard, the Jaguar, the Cougar, the Jaguarette, the Lynx, the Ounce, and the Catamountain. Theſe are all carnivorous, and furniſhed with crooked claws, which they can ſheath and unſheath at pleaſure.
The ſeventh claſs is that of the Dog kind, carnivorous, and furniſhed with claws like the former, but which they cannot ſheath. This claſs comprehends the Dog, the Wolf, the Fox, the Jackall, the Iſatis, the Hyena, the Civette, the Gibet, and the Genet.
The eighth claſs is that of the Weaſil kind, with a long ſmall body, with five toes, or claws, on each foot; the firſt of them ſeparated from the reſt like a thumb. This comprehends the Weaſil, the Martin, the Pole-cat, the Ferrit, the Mangouſt, the Vanſire, the Ermin, with all the varieties of the American Moufettes.
The ninth claſs is that of the Rabbit kind, with two large cutting teeth in each jaw. This comprehends the Rabbit, the Hare, the Guinea-pig, all the various ſpecies of the Squirrel, the Dormouſe, the Marrnotte, the Rat, the Mouſe, Agouti, the Paca, the Aperea, and the Tapeti.
The animals which ſeem to approach no other kind, either in nature, or in form, but to make each a diſtinct ſpecies in itſelf, are the following: the Elephant, the Rhinoceros, the Hippopotamos, the Camelopard, the Camel, the Bear, the Badger, the Tapir, the Cabiai, the Coati, the Antbear, the Tatou, and laſtly the Sloth.
All other quadrupedes, whoſe names are not ſet down, will be found among ſome of the above-mentioned claſſes, and referred to that [Page 306] which they moſt reſemble. When, therefore, we are at a loſs to know the name of any particular animal, by examining which of the known kinds it moſt reſembles, either in ſhape, or in hoofs, or claws; and then, examining the particular deſcription, we ſhall be able to diſcover not only its name, but its hiſtory. I have already ſaid that all methods of this kind are merely arbitrary, and that nature makes no exact diſtinction between her productions. It is hard, for inſtance, to tell whether we ought to refer the Civet to the dog, or the cat kind; but, if we know the exact hiſtory of the civet, it is no great matter to which kind we ſhall judge it to bear the greateſt reſemblance. It is enough that a diſtribution of this kind excites in us ſome rude out-lines of the make, or ſome marked ſimilitudes in the nature of theſe animals; but, to know them with any preciſion, no ſyſtem, or even deſcription will ſerve, ſince the animal itſelf, or a good print of it, muſt be ſeen, and its hiſtory be read at length, before it can be ſaid to be known. To pretend to ſay that we have an idea of a quadrupede, becauſe we can tell the number, or the make of its teeth, or its paps, is as abſurd as if we ſhould pretend to diſtinguiſh men by the buttons on their cloaths. Indeed it often happens [Page 307] that the quadrupede itſelf can be but ſeldom ſeen; that many of the more rare kinds do not come into Europe above once an age, and ſome of them have never been able to bear the removal; in ſuch a caſe, therefore, there is no other ſubſtitute but a good print of the animal to give an idea of its figure; for no deſcription whatſoever can anſwer this purpoſe ſo well. Mr. Locke, with his uſual good ſenſe, has obſerved, that a drawing of the animal, taken from the life, is one of the beſt methods of advancing natural hiſtory; and yet, moſt of our modern ſyſtematic writers are content rather with deſcribing. Deſcriptions, no doubt, will go ſome way towards giving an idea of the figure of an animal; but they are certainly much the longeſt way about, and, as they are uſually managed, much the moſt obſcure. In a drawing we can, at a ſingle glance, gather more inſtruction than by a day's painful inveſtigation of methodical ſyſtems, where we are told the proportions with great exactneſs, and yet remain ignorant of the totality. In fact, this method of deſcribing all things is a fault that has infected many of our books, that treat on the meaner arts for this laſt age. They attempt to teach by words what is only to be learnt by practice and inſpection. Moſt of our dictionaries, [Page 308] and bodies of arts and ſciences, are guilty of this error. Suppoſe, for inſtance, it be requiſite to mention the manner of making ſhoes, it is plain that all the verbal inſtructions in the world will never give an adequate idea of this humble art, or teach a man to become a ſhoe-maker. A day or two in a ſhoe-maker's ſhop will anſwer the end better than a whole folio of inſtruction, which only ſerves to oppreſs the learner with the weight of its pretended importance. We have lately ſeen a laborious work carried on at Paris, with this only intent of teaching all the trades by deſcription; however, the deſign at firſt bluſh ſeems to be ill conſidered; and it is probable that very few advantages will be derived from ſo laborious an undertaking. With regard to the deſcriptions in natural hiſtory, theſe, without all queſtion, under the direction of good ſenſe, are neceſſary; but ſtill they ſhould be kept within proper bounds; and, where a thing may be much more eaſily ſhewn than deſcribed, the exhibition ſhould ever precede the account.
UPON comparing the various animals of the globe with each other, we ſhall find that Quadrupedes demand the rank immediately next ourſelves; and, conſequently, come firſt in conſideration. The ſimilitude between the ſtructure of their bodies and ours, thoſe inſtincts which they enjoy in a ſuperior degree to the reſt, their conſtant ſervices, or their unceaſing hoſtilities, all render them the foremoſt objects of our curioſity, the moſt intereſting parts of animated nature. Theſe, however, although now ſo completely ſubdued, very probably, in the beginning, were nearer upon an equality with us, and diſputed the poſſeſſion of earth. Man, while yet ſavage himſelf, was but ill qualified to civilize the foreſt. While yet naked, unarmed, and without ſhelter, every wild beaſt was a formidable rival; and the deſtruction of ſuch was the firſt employment of heroes. But, when he began to multiply, and arts to accumulate, he ſoon cleared the plains of the moſt noxious of theſe his rivals; a part was taken under his protection and care, while the reſt found a precarious [Page 310] refuge in the burning defart, or the howling wilderneſs.
From being rivals, quadrupedes have now become the aſſiſtants of man; upon them he devolves the moſt laborious employments, and finds in them patient and humble coadjutors, ready to obey, and content with the ſmalleſt retribution. It was not, however, without long and repeated efforts that the independant ſpirit of theſe animals was broken; for the ſavage freedom, in wild animals, is generally found to paſs down through ſeveral generations before it is totally ſubdued. Thoſe cats and dogs that are taken from a ſtate of natural wildneſs in the foreſt, ſtill tranſmit their fierceneſs to their young: and, however concealed in general, it breaks out upon ſeveral occaſions. Thus the aſſiduity and application of man in bringing them up, not only alters their diſpoſition, but their very forms; and the difference between animals in a ſtate of nature and domeſtic tameneſs is ſo conſiderable, that Mr. Boffon has taken this as a principal diſtinction in claſſing them.
In taking a curſory view of the form of quadrupedes, we may eaſily perceive that, of all the ranks of animated nature, they bear the neareſt reſemblance to man. This ſimilitude will be [Page 311] found more ſtriking when, erecting themſelves on their hinder feet, they are taught to walk forward in an upright poſture. We then ſee that all their extremities in a manner correſpond with ours, and preſent us with a rude imitation of our own. In ſome of the ape kind the reſemblance is ſo ſtriking, that anatomiſts are puzzled to find in what part of the human body man's ſuperiority conſiſts; and ſcarce any but the metaphyſician can draw the line that ultimately divides them.
But, if we compare their internal ſtructure with our own, the likeneſs will be found ſtill to encreaſe, and we ſhall perceive many advantages they enjoy in common with us, above the lower tribes of nature. Like us, they are placed above the claſs of birds, by bringing forth their young alive; like us, they are placed above the claſs of fiſhes, by breathing through the lungs; like us, they are placed above the claſs of inſects, by having red blood circulating through their veins; and laſtly, like us, they are different from almoſt all the other claſſes of animated nature, being either wholly or partly covered with hair. Thus nearly are we repreſented in point of conformation to the claſs of animals immediately below us; and this ſhews what little reaſon we have to be proud [Page 312] of our perſons alone, to the perfection of which quadrupedes make ſuch very near approaches.
The ſimilitude of quadrupedes to man obtains alſo in the fixedneſs of their nature, and their being leſs apt to be changed by the influence of climate or food than the lower ranks of nature*. Birds are found very apt to alter both in colour and ſize; fiſhes, likewiſe, ſtill more; inſects may be quickly brought to change and adapt themſelves to the climate; and, if we deſcend to plants, which may be allowed to have a kind of living exiſtence, their kinds may be ſurprizingly and readily altered, and taught to aſſume new forms. The figure of every animal may be conſidered as a kind of drapery, which it may be made to put on or off by human aſſiduity; in man the drapery is almoſt invariable; in quadrupedes it admits of ſome variation; and the variety may be made greater ſtill as we deſcend to the inferior claſſes of animal exiſtence.
Quadrupedes, although they are thus ſtrongly marked, and in general divided from the various kinds around them, yet, ſtill ſome of them are often of ſo equivocal a nature, that it is hard to tell whether they ought to be ranked in the quadrupede claſs, or degraded to thoſe below [Page 313] them. If, for inſtance, we were to marſhal the whole groupe of animals round man, placing the moſt perfect next him, and thoſe moſt equivocal near the claſſes they moſt approach, we ſhould find it difficult, after the principal had taken their ſtations near him, where to place many that lie at the out-ſkirts of this phalanx. The bat makes a near approach to the aerial tribe, and might by ſome be reckoned among the birds. The porcupine has not leſs pretenſions to that claſs, being covered with quills, and ſhewing that birds are not the only part of nature that are furniſhed with ſuch a defence. The armadilla might be referred to the tribe of inſects, or ſnails, being, like them, covered with a ſhell; the ſeal and the morſe might be ranked among the fiſhes, like them being furniſhed with fins, and almoſt conſtantly reſiding in the ſame element. All theſe, the farther they recede from the human figure become leſs perfect, and may be conſidered as the loweſt kinds of that claſs to which we have referred them.
But, although the variety in quadrupedes is thus great, they all ſeem well adapted to the ſtations in which they are placed. There is ſcarce one of them, how rudely ſhaped ſoever, that is not formed to enjoy a ſtate of happineſs [Page 314] fitted to its nature. All its deformities are only relative to us, but all its enjoyments are peculiarly its own. We may ſuperficially ſuppoſe the Sloth, that takes up months in climbing a ſingle tree, or the Mole, whoſe eyes are too ſmall for diſtinct viſion, are wretched and helpleſs creatures; but it is probable that their life, with reſpect to themſelves, is a life of luxury; the moſt pleaſing food is eaſily obtained; and, as they are abridged in one pleaſure, it may be doubled in thoſe which remain. Quadrupedes, and all the lower kinds of animals, have, at worſt, but the torments of immediate evil to encounter, and this is but tranſient and accidental; man has two ſources of calamity, that which he foreſees as well as that which he feels; ſo that, if his reward were to be in this life alone, then, indeed, would he be of all beings the moſt wretched.
The heads of quadrupedes, though differing from each other, are in general adapted to their way of living. In ſome it is ſharp, the better to fit the animal for turning up the earth in which its food lies. In ſome it is long, in order to give a greater room for the olfactory nerves, as in dogs, who are to hunt and find out their prey by the ſcent. In others it is ſhort and thick, as in the lion, to encreaſe the ſtrength [Page 315] of the jaw and to fit it the better for combat. In quadrupedes, that feed upon graſs, they are enabled to hold down their heads to the ground, by a ſtrong tendinous ligament, that runs from the head to the middle of the back. This ſerves to raiſe the head, although it has been held to the ground for ſeveral hours, without any labour, or any aſſiſtance from the muſcles of the neck.
The teeth of all animals are entirely fitted to the nature of their food. Thoſe of ſuch as live upon fleſh differ in every reſpect from ſuch as live upon vegetables. In the latter they ſeem entirely made for gathering and bruiſing their ſimple food, being edged before and fitted for cutting; but broad towards the back of the jaw and fitted for pounding. In the carnivorous kinds they are ſharp before, and fitted rather for holding than dividing. In the one the teeth ſerve as grindſtones, in the other as weapons of defence; in both, however, the ſurface of thoſe teeth which ſerve for grinding are unequal; the cavities and riſings fitting thoſe of the oppoſite ſo as to tally exactly when the jaws are brought together. Theſe inequalities better ſerve for comminuting the food; but they become ſmooth with age; and, for this reaſon, old animals take a longer time to chew [Page 316] their food than ſuch as are in the vigour of life.
Their legs are not better fitted than their teeth to their reſpective wants or enjoyments. In ſome they are made for ſtrength only, and to ſupport a vaſt unwieldy frame, without much flexibility or beautiful proportion. Thus the legs of the elephant, the rhinoceros, and the ſea-horſe, reſemble pillars; were they made ſmaller they would be unfit to ſupport the body; were they endowed with greater flexibility, or ſwiftneſs, that would be needleſs, as they do not purſue other animals for food; and, conſcious of their own ſuperior ſtrength, there are none that they deign to avoid. Deers, hares, and other creatures, that are to find ſafety only in flight, have their legs made entirely for ſpeed; they are ſlender and nervous. Were it not for this advantage, every carnivorous animal would ſoon make them a prey, and their races would be entirely extinguiſhed. But, in the preſent ſtate of nature, the means of ſafety are rather ſuperior to thoſe of offence: and the purſuing animal muſt owe ſucceſs only to patience, perſeverance, and induſtry. The feet of ſome, that live upon fiſh alone, are made for ſwimming. The toes of theſe animals are joined together with membranes, being web-footed, [Page 317] like a gooſe or a duck, by which they ſwim with great rapidity. Thoſe animals that lead a life of hoſtility, and live upon others, have their feet armed with ſharp claws, which ſome can ſheath and unſheath at will. Thoſe, on the contrary, who lead peaceful lives, have generally hoofs, which ſerve ſome as weapons of defence; and which in all are better fitted for traverſing extenſive tracts of rugged country, than the claw foot of their purſuers.
The ſtomach is generally proportioned to the quality of the animal's food, or the eaſe with which it is obtained. In thoſe that live upon fleſh and ſuch nouriſhing ſubſtances, it is ſmall and glandular, affording ſuch juices as are beſt adapted to digeſt its contents; their inteſtines alſo, are ſhort and without fatneſs. On the contrary, ſuch animals as feed entirely upon vegetables have the ſtomach very large; and thoſe who chew the cud have no leſs than four ſtomachs, all which ſerve as ſo many laboratories, to prepare and turn their coarſe food into proper nouriſhment. In Africa, where the plants happen to afford greater nouriſhment than in our temperate climates, ſeveral animals, that with us have four ſtomachs, have there but two*. However, in all animals [Page 318] the ſize of the inteſtines are proportioned to the nature of the food; where that is furniſhed in large quantities, the ſtomach dilates to anſwer the encreaſe. In domeſtic animals, that are plentifully ſupplied, it is large; in the wild animals, that live precariouſly, it is much more contracted, and the inteſtines are much ſhorter.
In this manner, all animals are fitted by nature to fill up ſome peculiar ſtation. The greateſt animals are made for an inoffenſive life, to range the plains and the foreſt without injuring others; to live upon the productions of the earth, the graſs of the field, or the tender branches of trees. Theſe, ſecure in their own ſtrength, neither fly from any other quadrupedes nor yet attack them: Nature, to the greateſt ſtrength has added the moſt gentle and harmleſs diſpoſitions; without this, thoſe enormous creatures would be more than a match for all the reſt of the creation; for what devaſtation might not enſue were the elephant, or the rhinoceros, or the buffalo, as fierce and as miſchievous as the tiger or the rat? In order to oppoſe theſe larger animals, and in ſome meaſure to prevent their exuberance, there is a ſpecies of the carnivorous kind, of inferior ſtrength indeed, but of greater activity and cunning. The lion and the tiger generally [Page 319] watch for the larger kinds of prey, attack them at ſome diſadvantage, and commonly jump upon them by ſurprize. None of the carnivorous kinds, except the dog alone, will make a voluntary attack, but with the odds on their ſide. They are all cowards by nature, and uſually catch their prey by a bound from ſome lurking place, ſeldom attempting to invade them openly; for the larger beaſts are too powerful for them, and the ſmaller too ſwift.
A lion does not willingly attack an horſe; and then only when compelled by the keeneſt hunger. The combats between a lion and a horſe are frequent enough in Italy; where they are both incloſed in a kind of amphitheatre, fitted for that purpoſe. The lion always approaches wheeling about, while the horſe preſents his hinder parts to the enemy. The lion in this manner goes round and round, ſtill narrowing his circle, till he comes to the proper diſtance to make his ſpring; juſt at the time the lion ſprings, the horſe laſhes with both legs from behind, and, in general, the odds are in his favour; it more often happening that the lion is ſtunned, and ſtruck motionleſs by the blow, than that he effects his jump between the horſe's ſhoulders. If the lion is ſtunned, and left ſprawling, the [Page 320] horſe eſcapes, without attempting to improve his victory; but if the lion ſucceeds, he ſticks to his prey, and tears the horſe in pieces in a very ſhort time.
But it is not among the larger animals of the foreſt alone, that theſe hoſtilities are carried on; there is a minuter, and a ſtill more treacherous conteſt between the lower ranks of quadrupedes. The panther hunts for the ſheep and the goat; the catamountain, for the hare or the rabbit; and the wild cat, for the ſquirrel or the mouſe. In proportion as each carnivorous animal wants ſtrength, it uſes all the aſſiſtance of patience, aſſiduity, and cunning. However, the arts of theſe to purſue, are not ſo great as the tricks of their prey to eſcape; ſo that the power of deſtruction in one claſs, is inferior to the power of ſafety in the other. Were this otherwiſe, the foreſt would ſoon be diſpeopled of the feebler races of animals; and beaſts of prey themſelves, would want, at one time, that ſubſiſtence which they laviſhly deſtroyed at another.
Few wild animals ſeek their prey in the daytime; they are then generally deterred by their fears of man in the inhabited countries, and by the exceſſive heat of the ſun in thoſe extenſive foreſts that lie towards the ſouth, and in which [Page 321] they reign the undiſputed tyrants. As ſoon as the morning, therefore, appears, the carnivorous animals retire to their dens; and the elephant, the horſe, the deer, and all the hare kinds, thoſe inoffenſive tenants of the plain, make their appearance. But again, at night-fall, the ſtate of hoſtility begins: the whole foreſt then echoes to a variety of different howlings. Nothing ſure can be more terrible than an African landſcape at the cloſe of evening: the deep toned roarings of the lion; the ſhriller yellings of the tyger; the jackall, purſuing by the ſcent, and barking like a dog; the hyaena, with a note peculiarly ſolitary and dreadful; but to crown all, the hiſſing of the various kinds of ſerpents, that at that time begin their call, and, as I am aſſured, make a much louder ſymphony than the birds in our groves in a morning.
Beaſts of prey ſeldom devour each other; nor can any thing but the greateſt degree of hunger induce them to it. What they chiefly ſeek after, is the deer, or the goat; thoſe harmleſs creatures, that ſeem made to embelliſh nature. Theſe are either purſued or ſurprized, and afford the moſt agreeable repaſt to their deſtroyers. The moſt uſual method with even the fierceſt animals, is to hide and crouch near ſome path frequented by their prey; or ſome [Page 322] water, where cattle come to drink; and ſeize them at once with a bound. The lion and the tyger leap twenty feet at a ſpring; and this, rather than their ſwiftneſs or ſtrength, is what they have moſt to depend upon for a ſupply. There is ſcarce one of the deer or hare kind, that is not very eaſily capable of eſcaping them by its ſwiftneſs; ſo that whenever any of theſe fall a prey, it muſt be owing to their own inattention.
But there is another claſs of the carnivorous kind, that hunt by the ſcent, and which it is much more difficult to eſcape. It is remarkable, that all animals of this kind purſue in a pack; and encourage each other by their mutual cries. The jackall, the ſyaguſh, the wolf, and the dog, are of this kind: they purſue with patience rather than ſwiftneſs; their prey flies at firſt, and leaves them for miles behind; but they keep on with a conſtant ſteady pace, and excite each other by a general ſpirit of induſtry and emulation, till at laſt they ſhare the common plunder. But it too often happens, that the larger beaſts of prey, when they hear a cry of this kind begun, purſue the pack, and when they have hunted down the animal, come in and monopolize the ſpoil. This has given riſe to the report of the jackall's being the lion's [Page 323] provider; when the reality is, that the jackall hunts for itſelf, and the lion is an unwelcome intruder upon the fruits of his toil.
Nevertheleſs, with all the powers which carnivorous animals are poſſeſſed of, they generally lead a life of famine and fatigue. Their prey has ſuch a variety of methods for eſcaping, that they ſometimes continue without food for a fortnight together: but nature has endowed them with a degree of patience, equal to the ſeverity of their ſtate; ſo that as their ſubſiſtence is precarious, their appetites are complying. They uſually ſeize their prey with a roar, either of ſeeming delight, or perhaps to terrify it from reſiſtance. They frequently devour it, bones and all, in the moſt ravenous manner; and then retire to their dens, continuing inactive till the calls of hunger again excite their courage and induſtry. But as all their methods of purſuit are counteracted by the arts of evaſion, they often continue to range without ſucceſs, ſupporting a ſtate of famine for ſeveral days, nay, ſometimes, weeks together. Of their prey, ſome find protection in holes, in which nature has directed them to bury themſelves; ſome find ſafety by ſwiftneſs; and ſuch as are poſſeſſed of neither of theſe advantages, generally herd together, and endeavour to repel [Page 324] invaſion by united force. The very ſheep, which to us ſeem ſo defenceleſs, are by no means ſo in a ſtate of nature; they are furniſhed with arms of defence, and a very great degree of ſwiftneſs; but they are ſtill further aſſiſted by their ſpirit of mutual defence: the females fall into the center; and the males, forming a ring round them, oppoſe their horns to the aſſailants. Some animals, that feed upon fruits which are to be found only at one time of the year, fill their holes with ſeveral ſorts of plants, which enable them to lie concealed during the hard froſts of the winter, contented with their priſon, ſince it affords them plenty and protection. Theſe holes are dug with ſo much art, that there ſeems the deſign of an architect in the formation. There are uſually two apertures, by one of which the little inhabitant can always eſcape, when the enemy is in poſſeſſion of the other. Many creatures are equally careful of avoiding their enemies, by placing a centinel, to warn them of the approach of danger. Theſe generally perform this duty by turns; and they know how to puniſh ſuch as have neglected their poſt, or have been unmindful of the common ſafety. Such are a part of the efforts that the weaker races of quadrupedes exert, to avoid their invaders; and, in general, they are [Page 325] attended with ſucceſs. The arts of inſtinct are moſt commonly found an overmatch for the invaſions of inſtinct. Man is the only creature againſt whom all their little tricks can ſcarce prevail. Wherever he has ſpread his dominion, ſcarce any flight can ſave, or any retreat harbour; wherever he comes, terror ſeems to follow, and all ſociety ceaſes among the inferior tenants of the plain; their union againſt him can yield them no protection, and their cunning is but weakneſs. In their fellow brutes, they have an enemy whom they can oppoſe with an equality of advantage; they can oppoſe fraud or ſwiftneſs to force; or numbers to invaſion: but what can be done againſt ſuch an enemy as man, who finds them out though unſeen, and though remote deſtroys them? Wherever he comes, all the conteſt among the meaner ranks ſeem to be at an end, or is carried on only by ſurprize. Such as he has thought proper to protect, have calmly ſubmitted to his protection; ſuch as he has found it convenient to deſtroy, carry on an unequal war, and their numbers are every day decreaſing.
The wild animal is ſubject to few alterations; and, in a ſtate of ſavage nature, continues for ages the ſame, in ſize, ſhape, and colour. But it is otherwiſe when ſubdued, and taken [Page 326] under the protection of man; its external form, and even its internal ſtructure, are altered by human aſſiduity: and this is one of the firſt and greateſt cauſes of the variety that we ſee among the ſeveral quadrupedes of the ſame ſpecies. Man appears to have changed the very nature of domeſtic animals, by cultivation and care. A domeſtic animal is a ſlave that ſeems to have few other deſires but ſuch as man is willing to allow it. Humble, patient, reſigned, and attentive, it fills up the duties of its ſtation; ready for labour, and content with ſubſiſtence.
Almoſt all domeſtic animals ſeem to bear the marks of ſervitude ſtrong upon them. All the varieties in their colour, all the fineneſs and length of their hair, together with the depending length of their ears, ſeem to have ariſen from a long continuance of domeſtic ſlavery. What an immenſe variety is there to be found in the ordinary race of dogs and horſes! the principal differences of which has been effected by the induſtry of man, ſo adapting the food, the treatment, the labour, and the climate, that nature ſeems almoſt to have forgotten her original deſign; and the tame animal no longer bears any reſemblance to its anceſtors in the woods around him.
In this manner, nature is under a kind of [Page 327] conſtraint, in thoſe animals we have taught to live in a ſtate of ſervitude near us. The ſavage animals preſerve the marks of their firſt formation; their colours are generally the ſame; a rough duſky brown, or a tawny, ſeem almoſt their only varieties. But it is otherwiſe in the tame; their colours are various, and their forms different from each other. The nature of the climate, indeed, operates upon all; but more particularly on theſe. That nouriſhment which is prepared by the hand of man, choſen not to their appetites, but to ſuit his own convenience, that climate the rigours of which he can ſoften, and that employment to which they are ſometimes aſſigned, produce a number of diſtinctions that are not to be found among the ſavage animals. Theſe at firſt were accidental, but in time became hereditary; and a new race of artificial monſters are propagated, rather to anſwer the purpoſes of human pleaſure, than their own convenience. In ſhort, their very appetites may be changed; and thoſe that feed only upon graſs, may be rendered carnivorous. I have ſeen a ſheep that would eat fleſh, and an horſe that was fond of oyſters.
But not their appetites, or their figure alone, but their very diſpoſitions, and their natural ſagacity, are altered by the vicinity of man. [Page 328] In thoſe countries where men have ſeldom intruded, ſome animals have been found, eſtabliſhed in a kind of civil ſtate of ſociety. Remote from the tyranny of man, they ſeem to have a ſpirit of mutual benevolence, and mutual friendſhip. The beavers, in theſe diſtant ſolitudes, are known to build like architects, and rule like citizens. The habitations that theſe have been ſeen to erect, exceed the houſes of the human inhabitants of the ſame country, both in neatneſs and convenience. But as ſoon as man intrudes upon their ſociety, they ſeem impreſſed with the terrors of their inferior ſituation, their ſpirit of ſociety ceaſes, the bond is diſſolved, and every animal looks for ſafety in ſolitude, and there tries all its little induſtry to ſhift only for itſelf.
Next to human influence, the climate ſeems to have the ſtrongeſt effects both upon the nature and the form of quadrupedes. As in man, we have ſeen ſome alterations, produced by the variety of his ſituation; ſo in the lower ranks, that are more ſubject to variation, the influence of climate is more readily perceived. As theſe are more nearly attached to the earth, and in a manner connected to the ſoil; as they have none of the arts of ſhielding off the inclemency of the weather, or ſoftening the rigours of the [Page 329] ſun, they are conſequently more changed by its variations. In general, it may be remarked, that the colder the country, the larger and the warmer is the fur of each animal; it being wiſely provided by nature, that the inhabitant ſhould be adapted to the rigours of its ſituation. Thus the fox and wolf, which in temperate climates have but ſhort hair, have a fine long fur in the frozen regions near the pole. On the contrary, thoſe dogs which with us have long hair, when carried to Guinea, or Angola, in a ſhort time caſt their thick covering, and aſſume a lighter dreſs, and one more adapted to the warmth of the country. The beaver, and the ermine, which are found in the greateſt plenty in the cold regions, are remarkable for the warmth and delicacy of their furs; while the elephant, and the rhinoceros, that are natives of the line, have ſcarce any hair at all. Not but that human induſtry can, in ſome meaſure, co-operate with, or repreſs the effects of climate in this particular. It is well known what alterations are produced by proper care, in the ſheep's fleece, in different parts of our own country; and the ſame induſtry is purſued with a like ſucceſs in Syria, where many of their animals are cloathed with a long and beautiful hair, which they take care to improve, as they [Page 330] work it into that ſtuff called camblet, ſo well known in different parts of Europe.
The diſpoſition of the animal ſeems alſo not leſs marked by the climate than the figure. The ſame cauſes that ſeem to have rendered the human inhabitants of the rigorous climates ſavage and ignorant, have alſo operated upon their animals. Both at the line and the pole, the wild quadrupedes are fierce and untameable. In theſe latitudes, their ſavage diſpoſitions having not been quelled by any efforts from man, and being ſtill farther ſtimulated by the ſeverity of the weather, they continue fierce and untractable. Moſt of the attempts which have hitherto been made to tame the wild beaſts brought home from the pole or the equator, have proved ineffectual. They are gentle and harmleſs enough while young; but as they grow up, they acquire their natural ferocity, and ſnap at the hand that feeds them. It may indeed, in general, be aſſerted, that in all countries where the men are moſt barbarous, the beaſts are moſt fierce and cruel: and this is but a natural conſequence of the ſtruggle between man and the more ſavage animals of the foreſt; for in proportion as he is weak and timid, they muſt be bold and intruſive; in proportion as his dominion is but feebly ſupported, [Page 331] their rapacity muſt be more obnoxious. In the extenſive countries, therefore, lying round the pole, or beneath the line, the quadrupedes are fierce and formidable. Africa has ever been remarked for the brutality of its men, and the fierceneſs of its animals: its lions and its leopards are not leſs terrible than its crocodiles and its ſerpents; their diſpoſitions ſeem entirely marked with the rigours of the climate; and being bred in an extreme of heat, they ſhew a peculiar ferocity, that neither the force of man can conquer, nor his arts allay. However, it is happy for the wretched inhabitants of thoſe climates, that its moſt formidable animals are all ſolitary ones; that they have not learnt the art of uniting, to oppreſs mankind; but each depending on its own ſtrength, invades without any aſſiſtant.
The food alſo is another cauſe in the variety, which we find among quadrupedes of the ſame kind. Thus the beaſts which feed in the valley are generally larger than thoſe which glean a ſcanty ſubſiſtence on the mountain. Such as live in the warm climates, where the plants are much larger and more ſucculent than with us, are equally remarkable for their bulk. The ox fed in the plains of Indoſtan, is very much larger than that which is more hardily maintained [Page 332] on the ſide of the Alps. The deſerts of Africa, where the plants are extremely nouriſhing, produce the largeſt and fierceſt animals; and perhaps, for a contrary reaſon, America is found not to produce ſuch large animals as are ſeen in the ancient continent. But, whatever be the reaſon, the fact is certain, that while America exceeds us in the ſize of its reptiles of all kinds, it is far inferior in its quadrupede productions. Thus, for inſtance, the largeſt animal of that country is the tapir, which can by no means be compared to the elephant of Africa. Its beaſts of prey alſo, are diveſted of that ſtrength and courage which is ſo dangerous in this part of the world. The American lion, tyger, and leopard, if ſuch diminutive creatures deſerve theſe names, are neither ſo fierce nor ſo valiant as thoſe of Africa and Aſia. The tyger of Bengal has been ſeen to meaſure twelve feet in length, without including the tail; whereas the American tyger ſeldom exceeds three. This difference obtains ſtill more in the other animals of that country, ſo that ſome have been of opinion* that all quadrupedes in Southern America are of a different ſpecies from thoſe moſt reſembling them in the old world; and that there are none [Page 333] which are common to both but ſuch as have entered America by the north; and which, being able to bear the rigours of the frozen pole, have travelled from the ancient continent, by that paſſage, into the new. Thus the bear, the wolf, the elk, the ſtag, the fox, and the beaver, are known to the inhabitants as well of North America as of Ruſſia; while moſt of the various kinds to the ſouthward, in both continents, bear no reſemblance to each other. Upon the whole, ſuch as peculiarly belong to the new continent are without any marks of the quadrupede perfection. They are almoſt wholly deſtitute of the power of defence; they have neither formidable teeth, horns, or tail; their figure is ungainly, and their limbs ill proportioned. Some among them, ſuch as the ant, bear, and the ſloth, appear ſo miſerably formed as ſcarce to have the power of moving and eating. They, ſeemingly, drag out a miſerable and languid exiſtence in the moſt deſert ſolitude; and would quickly have been deſtroyed in a country where there were inhabitants, or powerful beaſts to oppoſe them.
But, if the quadrupedes of the new continent be leſs, they are found in much greater abundance; for it is a rule that obtains through nature, that the ſmalleſt animals multiply the [Page 334] faſteſt. The goat, imported from Europe to South America, ſoon begins to degenerate; but as it grows leſs it becomes more prolific; and, inſtead of one kid at a time, or two at the moſt, it generally produces five, and ſometimes more. What there is in the food, or the climate, that produces this change, we have not been able to learn; we might be apt to aſcribe it to the heat, but that on the African coaſt, where it is ſtill hotter, this rule does not obtain; for the goat, inſtead of degenerating there, ſeems rather to improve.
However, the rule is general among all quadrupedes, that thoſe which are large and formidable produce but few at a time; while ſuch as are mean and contemptible are extremely prolific. The lion, or tyger, have ſeldom above two cubs at a litter; while the cat, that is of a ſimilar nature, is uſually ſeen to have five or ſix. In this manner, the lower tribes become extremely numerous; and, but for this ſurprizing fecundity, from their natural weakneſs, they would quickly be extirpated. The breed of mice, for inſtance, would have long ſince been blotted from the earth, were the mouſe as ſlow in production as the elephant. But it has been wiſely provided that ſuch animals as can make but little reſiſtance, ſhould [Page 335] at leaſt have a means of repairing the deſtruction, which they muſt often ſuffer, by their quick reproduction; that they ſhould encreaſe even among enemies, and multiply under the hand of the deſtroyer. On the other hand, it has as wiſely been ordered by Providence, that the larger kinds ſhould produce but ſlowly; otherwiſe, as they require proportional ſupplies from nature, they would quickly conſume their own ſtores; and, of conſequence, many of them would ſoon periſh through want; ſo that life would thus be given without the neceſſary means of ſubſiſtence. In a word, Providence has moſt wiſely ballanced the ſtrength of the great againſt the weakneſs of the little. Since it was neceſſary that ſome ſhould be great and others mean, ſince it was expedient that ſome ſhould live upon others, it has aſſiſted the weakneſs of one by granting it fruitfulneſs; and diminiſhed the numbers of the other by infecundity.
In conſequence of this proviſion, the larger creatures, which bring forth few at a time, ſeldom begin to generate till they have nearly acquired their full growth. On the contrary, thoſe which bring many, reproduce before they have arrived at half their natural ſize. Thus the horſe and the bull are nearly at their beſt [Page 336] before they begin to breed; the hog and the rabbit ſcarce leave the teat before they become parents in turn. Almoſt all animals likewiſe continue the time of their pregnancy in proportion to their ſize. The mare continues eleven months with foal, the cow nine, the wolf five, and the bitch nine weeks. In all, the intermediate litters are the moſt fruitful; the firſt and the laſt generally producing the feweſt in number and the worſt of the kind.
Whatever be the natural diſpoſition of animals at other times, they all acquire new courage when they conſider themſelves as defending their young. No terrors can then drive them from the poſt of duty; the mildeſt begin to exert their little force, and reſiſt the moſt formidable enemy. Where reſiſtance is hopeleſs, they then incur every danger, in order to reſcue their young by flight, and retard their own expedition by providing for their little ones. When the female opoſſum, an animal of America, is purſued, ſhe inſtantly takes her young into a falſe belly, with which nature has ſupplied her, and carries them off, or dies in the endeavour. I have been lately aſſured of a ſhe-fox which, when hunted, took her cub in her mouth, and run for ſeveral miles without quitting it, until at laſt ſhe was forced to leave it [Page 337] behind, upon the approach of a maſtiff, as ſhe ran through a farmer's yard. But, if at this period the mildeſt animals acquire new fierceneſs, how formidable muſt thoſe be that ſubſiſt by rapine! At ſuch times, no obſtacles can ſtop their ravage, nor no threats can terrify; the lioneſs then ſeems more hardy than even the lion himſelf. She attacks men and beaſts indiſcriminately, and carries all ſhe can overcome reeking to her cubs, whom ſhe thus early accuſtoms to ſlaughter. Milk, in the carnivorous animals, is much more ſparing than in others; and it may be for this reaſon that all ſuch carry home their prey alive, that, in feeding their young, its blood may ſupply the deficiencies of nature, and ſerve inſtead of that milk, with which they are ſo ſparingly ſupplied.
Nature, that has thus given them courage to defend their young, has given them inſtinct to chuſe the proper times of copulation, ſo as to bring forth when the proviſion ſuited to each kind is to be found in the greateſt plenty. The wolf, for inſtance, couples in December, ſo that the time of pregnancy continuing five months it may have its young in April. The mare, who goes eleven months, admits the horſe in ſummer, in order to foal about the [Page 338] beginning of May. On the contrary, thoſe animals which lay up proviſions for the winter, ſuch as the beaver and the marmotte, couple in the latter end of autumn, ſo as to have their young about January, againſt which ſeaſon they have provided a very comfortable ſtore. Theſe ſeaſons for coupling however, among ſome of the domeſtic kinds, are generally in conſequence of the quantity of proviſions with which they are at any time ſupplied. Thus we may, by feeding any of theſe animals, and keeping off the rigour of the climate, make them breed whenever we pleaſe. In this manner thoſe contrive who produce lambs all the year round.
The choice of ſituation in bringing forth is alſo very remarkable. In moſt of the rapacious kinds, the female takes the utmoſt precautions to hide the place of her retreat from the male; who otherwiſe, when preſſed by hunger, would be apt to devour her cubs. She ſeldom, therefore, ſtrays far from the den, and never approaches it while he is in view, nor viſits him again till her young are capable of providing for themſelves. Such animals as are of tender conſtitutions take the utmoſt care to provide a place of warmth as well as ſafety, for their young; the rapacious kinds bring forth in the thickeſt woods; thoſe that chew the cud, with [Page 339] the various tribes of the vermin kind, chooſe ſome hiding place in the neighbourhood of man. Some dig holes in the ground; ſome chooſe the hollow of a tree; and all the amphibious kinds bring up their young near the water, and accuſtom them betimes to their proper element.
Thus Nature ſeems kindly careful for the protection of the meaneſt of her creatures: but there is one claſs of quadrupedes that ſeems entirely left to chance, that no parent ſtands forth to protect, nor no inſtructor leads, to teach the arts of ſubſiſtence. Theſe are the quadrupedes that are brought forth from the egg, ſuch as the lizard, the tortoiſe, and the crocodile. The fecundity of all other animals compared with theſe is ſterility itſelf. Theſe bring forth above two hundred at a time; but, as the offspring is more numerous, the parental care is leſs exerted. Thus the numerous brood of eggs are, without farther ſolicitude, buried in the warm ſands of the ſhore, and the heat of the ſun alone is left to bring them to perfection. To this perfection they arrive almoſt as ſoon as diſengaged from the ſhell. Moſt of them, without any other guide than inſtinct, immediately make to the water. In their paſſage thither, they have numberleſs [Page 340] enemies to fear. The birds of prey that haunt the ſhore, the beaſts that accidentally come that way, and even the animals themſelves that give them birth are known, with a ſtrange rapacity, to thin their numbers as well as the reſt.
But it is kindly ordered by Providence, that theſe animals which are moſtly noxious, ſhould thus have many deſtroyers; were it not for this, by their extreme fecundity, they would ſoon over-run the earth, and cumber all our plains with deformity.
16. CHAP. XV. Of the Horſe*.[Page 341]
ANIMALS of the horſe kind deſerve a place next to man, in an hiſtory of nature. Their [Page 342] activity, their ſtrength, their uſefulneſs, and their beauty, all contribute to render them the principal objects of our curioſity and care; a race of creatures in whoſe welfare we are intereſted next to our own.
Of all the quadrupede animals, the horſe ſeems the moſt beautiful; the noble largeneſs of his form, the gloſſy ſmoothneſs of his ſkin, the graceful eaſe of his motions, and the exact ſymmetry of his ſhape, have taught us to regard him as the firſt, and as the moſt perfectly formed; and yet, what is extraordinary enough, if we examine him internally, his ſtructure will be found the moſt different from that of man of all other quadrupedes whatſoever. As the ape approaches us the neareſt in internal conformation, ſo the horſe is the moſt remote*; a ſtriking proof that there may be oppoſitions of beauty, and that all grace is not to be referred to one ſtandard.
To have an idea of this noble animal in his native ſimplicity, we are not to look for him in the paſtures, or the ſtables, to which he has been conſigned by man; but in thoſe wild and extenſive plains where he has been originally produced, where he ranges without controul, and riots in all the variety of luxurious nature. [Page 343] In this ſtate of happy independence, he diſdains the aſſiſtance of man, which only tends to ſervitude. In thoſe boundleſs tracts, whether of Africa, or New Spain, where he runs at liberty, he ſeems no way incommoded with the inconveniencies to which he is ſubject in Europe. The continual verdure of the fields ſupplies his wants; and the climate that never knows a winter ſuits his conſtitution, which naturally ſeems adapted to heat. His enemies of the foreſt are but few, for none but the greater kinds will venture to attack him; any one of theſe he is ſingly able to overcome; while at the ſame time he is content to find ſafety in ſociety; for the wild horſes of thoſe countries always herd together.
In theſe countries, therefore, the horſes are often ſeen feeding in droves of five or ſix hundred. As they do not carry on war againſt any other race of animals, they are ſatisfied to remain entirely upon the defenſive. The paſtures on which they live ſatisfy all their appetites, and all other precautions are purely for their ſecurity, in caſe of a ſurprize. As they are never attacked but at a diſadvantage, whenever they ſleep in the foreſts, they have always one among their number that ſtands as centinel, [Page 344] to give notice of any approaching danger; and this office they take by turns*. If a man approaches them while they are feeding by day, their centinel walks up boldly near him, as if to examine his ſtrength, or to intimidate him from proceeding; but, as the man approaches within piſtol ſhot, the centinel then thinks it high time to alarm his fellows; this he does by a loud kind of ſnorting, upon which they all take the ſignal, and fly off with the ſpeed of the wind; their faithful centinel bringing up the rear†.
It is not eaſy to ſay from what country the horſe came originally. It ſhould ſeem that the colder climates do not agree with his conſtitution; for, although he is found almoſt in them all, yet his form is altered there, and he is found at once diminutive and ill ſhaped. We have the teſtimony of the ancients that there were wild horſes once in Europe; at preſent, however, they are totally brought under ſubjection; and even thoſe which are found in America are of a Spaniſh breed, which being ſent thither upon its firſt diſcovery, have ſince become wild, and have ſpread over all the ſouth [Page 345] of that vaſt continent, almoſt to the Streights of Magellan. Theſe, in general, are a ſmall breed, of about fourteen hands high. They have thick jaws and clumſy joints; their ears and neck alſo are long; they are eaſily tamed; for the horſe by nature is a gentle complying creature, and reſiſts rather from fear than obſtinacy. They are caught by a kind of nooze, and then held faſt by the legs, and tyed to a tree, where they are left for two days, without food or drink. By that time, they begin to grow manageable; and in ſome weeks they become as tame as if they had never been in a ſtate of wildneſs. If by any accident they are once more ſet at liberty, they never become wild again, but know their maſters, and come to their call. Some of the buccaneers have often been agreeably ſurprized, after a long abſence, to ſee their faithful horſes once more preſent themſelves, with their uſual aſſiduity; and come up, with fond ſubmiſſion, to receive the rein.
Theſe American horſes, however, cannot properly be ranked among the wild races, ſince they were originally bred from ſuch as were tame. It is not in the new, but the old world that we are to look for this animal, in a true ſtate of nature; in the extenſive deſerts of [Page 346] Africa, in Arabia, and thoſe wide ſpread countries that ſeparate Tartary from the more ſouthern nations. Vaſt droves of theſe animals are ſeen wild among the Tartars: they are of a ſmall breed, extremely ſwift, and very readily evade their purſuers. As they go together, they will not admit of any ſtrange animals among them, though even of their own kind. Whenever they find a tame horſe attempting to aſſociate with them, they inſtantly gather round him, and ſoon oblige him to ſeek ſafety by flight. There are vaſt numbers alſo of wild horſes to the north of China, but they are of a weak timid breed; ſmall of ſtature and uſeleſs in war.
At the Cape of Good Hope alſo there are numbers of horſes, in a ſtate of nature, but ſmall, vicious, and untameable. They are found wild alſo in ſeveral other parts of Africa; but the wretched inhabitants of that country either want the art to tame them, or ſeem ignorant of their uſes. It is common with the Negroes, who are carried over from thence to America, when they firſt ſee an horſe, to teſtify both terror and ſurprize. Theſe poor men ſeem not to have any knowledge of ſuch a creature; and, though the horſe is probably a native of their own country, they have let all the reſt [Page 347] of mankind enjoy the benefit of his ſervices, without turning them to any advantage at home. In ſome parts of Africa, therefore, where the horſe runs wild, the natives ſeem to conſider him rather in the light of a dainty, for food, than a uſeful creature, capable of aſſiſting them either in war or in labour: riding ſeems a refinement that the natives of Angola, or Caffraria, have not as yet been able to attain to; and whenever they catch an horſe, it is only with an intent to eat him.
But of all countries in the world, where the horſe runs wild, Arabia produces the moſt beautiful breed, the moſt generous, ſwift, and perſevering. They are found, though not in great numbers, in the deſerts of that country; and the natives uſe every ſtratagem to take them. Although they are active and beautiful, yet they are not ſo large as thoſe that are bred up tame; they are of a brown colour; their mane and tail very ſhort, and the hair black and tufted*. Their ſwiftneſs is incredible; the attempt to purſue them in the uſual manner of the chace, with dogs, would be entirely fruitleſs. Such is the rapidity of their flight, that they are inſtantly out of view, and the dogs themſelves give up the vain purſuit. The only [Page 348] method, therefore, of taking them is by traps, hidden in the ſand, which entangling their feet, the hunter at length comes up, and either kills them or carries them home alive. If the horſe be young, he is conſidered among the Arabians as a very great delicacy; and they feaſt upon him while any part is found remaining; but if, from his ſhape or vigour, he promiſes to be ſerviceable in his more noble capacity, they take the uſual methods of taming him, by fatigue and hunger, and he ſoon becomes an uſeful domeſtic animal.
The uſual manner of trying their ſwiftneſs is by hunting the oſtrich: the horſe is the only animal whoſe ſpeed is comparable to that of this creature, which is found in the ſandy plains, with which thoſe countries abound. The inſtant the oſtrich perceives itſelf aimed at, it makes to the mountains, while the horſeman purſues with all the ſwiftneſs poſſible, and endeavours to cut off its retreat. The chace then continues along the plain, while the oſtrich makes uſe of both legs and wings to aſſiſt its motion. However, an horſe of the firſt ſpeed is able to out run it; ſo that the poor animal is then obliged to have recourſe to art to elude the hunter, by frequently turning: at length, finding all eſcape hopeleſs, it hides its head [Page 349] wherever it can, and ſuffers itſelf tamely to be taken. If the horſe, in a trial of this kind, ſhews great ſpeed, and is not readily tired, his price becomes proportionably great; and there are ſome horſes valued at a thouſand ducats.
But the horſes thus caught, or trained in this manner, are at preſent but very few; the value of Arabian horſes, over all the world, has in a great meaſure thinned the deſerts of the wild breed; and there are very few to be found in thoſe countries, except ſuch as are tame. The Arabians, as we are told by hiſtorians, firſt began the management of horſes in the time of Sheque Iſmael. Before that they wandered wild along the face of the country, neglected and uſeleſs; but the natives then firſt began to tame their fierceneſs, and to improve their beauty; ſo that at preſent they poſſeſs a race of the moſt beautiful horſes in the whole world, with which they drive a trade, and furniſh the ſtables of princes at immenſe prices.
There is ſcarce an Arabian, how poor ſoever, but is provided with his horſe*. They, in general, make uſe of mares in their ordinary excurſions; experience having taught them that they ſupport fatigue, thirſt, and hunger, [Page 350] better than the horſes are found to do. They are alſo leſs vicious, of a gentler nature, and are not ſo apt to neigh. They are more harmleſs alſo among themſelves, not ſo apt to kick or hurt each other, but remain whole days together without the leaſt miſchief. The Turks, on the contrary, are not fond of mares; and the Arabians ſell them ſuch horſes as they do not chuſe to keep for ſtallions at home. They preſerve the pedigree of their horſes with great care, and for ſeveral ages back. They know their alliances and all their genealogy; they diſtinguiſh the races by different names, and divide them into three claſſes. The firſt is that of the nobles, the ancient breed, and unadulterated on either ſide: the ſecond is that of the horſes of the ancient race, but adulterated; and the third is that of the common and inferior kind: the laſt they ſell at a low price; but thoſe of the firſt claſs, and even of the ſecond, amongſt which are found horſes of equal value to the former, are ſold extremely dear. They know, by long experience, the race of an horſe by his appearance; they can tell the name, the ſurname, the colour, and the marks properly belonging to each. When they are not poſſeſſed of ſtallions of the noble race themſelves, for their mares, they borrow from their [Page 351] neighbours, paying a proper price as with us, and receive a written atteſtation of the whole. In this atteſtation is contained the name of the horſe and the mare, and their reſpective genealogies. When the mare has produced her foal, new witneſſes are called, and a new atteſtation ſigned, in which are deſcribed the marks of the foal, and the day noted when it was brought forth. Theſe atteſtations encreaſe the value of the horſe; and they are given to the perſon who buys him. The moſt ordinary mare of this race ſells for five hundred crowns; there are many that ſell for a thouſand; and ſome of the very fineſt kinds for fourteen or fifteen hundred pound. As the Arabians have no other houſe but a tent to live in, this alſo ſerves them for a ſtable; ſo that the mare, the foal, the huſband, the wife, and the children, lie all together indiſcriminately; the little children are often ſeen upon the body, or the neck of the mare, while theſe continue inoffenſive and harmleſs, permitting them thus to play with and careſs them without any injury. The Arabians never beat their horſes: they treat them gently; they ſpeak to them, and ſeem to hold a diſcourſe; they uſe them as friends; they never attempt to encreaſe their ſpeed by the whip, nor ſpur them but in caſes of neceſſity. [Page 352] However, when this happens, they ſet off with amazing ſwiftneſs; they leap over obſtacles with as much agility as a buck; and, if the rider happens to fall, they are ſo manageable that they ſtand ſtock ſtill in the midſt of their moſt rapid career. The Arabian horſes are of a middle ſize, eaſy in their motions, and rather inclined to leanneſs than fat. They are regularly dreſſed every morning and evening, and with ſuch care that the ſmalleſt roughneſs is not left upon their ſkins. They waſh the legs, the mane, and the tail, which they never cut; and which they ſeldom comb, left they ſhould thin the hair. They give them nothing to eat during the day; they only give them to drink once or twice; and at ſun-ſet they hang a bag to their heads, in which there is about half a buſhel of clean barley. They continue eating the whole night, and the bag is again taken away the next morning. They are turned out to paſture in the beginning of March, when the graſs is pretty high, and at which time the mares are given to the ſtallion. When the ſpring is paſt, they take them again from paſture, and they get neither graſs nor hay during the reſt of the year; barley is their only food, except now and then a little ſtraw. The mane of the foal is always clipped off when about a [Page 353] year or eighteen months old, in order to make it ſtronger and thicker. They begin to break them at two years old, or two years and an half at fartheſt; they never ſaddle or bridle them till at that age; and then they are always kept ready ſaddled at the door of the tent, from morning till ſun-ſet, in order to be prepared againſt any ſurprize. They at preſent ſeem ſenſible of the great advantage their horſes are to the country; there is a law, therefore, that prohibits the exportation of the mares; and ſuch ſtallions as are brought into England are generally purchaſed on the eaſtern ſhores of Africa, and come round to us by the Cape of Good Hope. They are in general leſs in ſtature than our own, being not above fourteen, or fourteen hands and an half high; their motions are much more graceful and ſwifter than of our own horſes; but, nevertheleſs, their ſpeed is far from being equal; they run higher from the ground; their ſtroke is not ſo long and cloſe; and they are far inferior in bottom. Still, however, they muſt be conſidered as the firſt and fineſt breed in the world; and that from which all others have derived their principal qualifications. It is even probable that Arabia is the original country of horſes; ſince there, inſtead of croſſing the breed, they take [Page 354] every precaution to keep it entire. In other countries they muſt continually change the races, or their horſes would ſoon degenerate; but there the ſame blood has paſt down through a long ſucceſſion, without any diminution either of force or beauty.
The race of Arabian horſes has ſpread itſelf into Barbary, among the Moors, and has even extended acroſs that extenſive continent to the weſtern ſhores of Africa. Among the Negroes of Gambia and Senegal, the chiefs of the country are poſſeſſed of horſes; which, though little, are very beautiful and extremely manageable. Inſtead of barley they are fed, in thoſe countries, with maize, bruiſed and reduced into meal, and mixed up with milk when they deſign to fatten them. Theſe are conſidered as next to the Arabian horſes, both for ſwiftneſs and beauty; but they are rather ſtill ſmaller than the former. The Italians have a peculiar ſport, in which horſes of this breed run againſt each other. They have no riders, but ſaddles ſo formed as to flap againſt the horſes' ſides as they move, and thus to ſpur them forward. They are ſet to run in a kind of railed walk, about a mile long, out of which they never attempt to eſcape; but, when they once ſet forward, they never ſtop, although the walk from one end [Page 355] to the other is covered with a crowd of ſpectators, which opens and gives way as the horſes approach. Our horſes would ſcarcely, in this manner, face a crowd, and continue their ſpeed, without a rider, through the midſt of a multitude; and, indeed, it is a little ſurprizing how in ſuch a place the horſes find their own way. However, what our Engliſh horſes may want in ſagacity, they make up by their ſwiftneſs; and it has been found upon computation that their ſpeed is nearly one fourth greater even carrying a rider than that of the ſwifteſt Barb without one.
The Arabian breed has been diffuſed into Egypt as well as Barbary, and into Perſia alſo; where, as we are told by Marcus Paulus, there are ſtuds of ten thouſand white mares all together, very fleet, and with the hoof ſo hard that ſhoeing is unneceſſary. In theſe countries, they in general give their horſes the ſame treatment that they give in Arabia, except that they litter them upon a bed of their own dung, dried in the ſun, and then reduced to powder. When this, which is ſpread under the horſe about five inches thick, is moiſtened, they dry it again, and ſpread it as before. The horſes of theſe countries a good deal reſemble each other. They are uſually of a ſlender make; their legs fine, bony, and [Page 356] far apart; a thin mane; a fine creſt; a beautiful head; the ear ſmall and well pointed; the ſhoulder thin; the ſide rounded, without any unſightly prominence; the croup is a little of the longeſt, and the tail is generally ſet high. The race of horſes, however, is much degenerated in Numidia; the natives having been diſcouraged from keeping the breed up by the Turks, who ſeize upon all the good horſes, without paying the owners the ſmalleſt gratuity for their care in bringing them up. The Tingitanians and Egyptians have now, therefore, the fame of rearing the fineſt horſes, both for ſize and beauty. The ſmalleſt of theſe laſt are uſually ſixteen hands high; and all of them ſhaped, as they expreſs it, with the elegance of an antelope.
Next to the barb, travellers generally rank the Spaniſh genette. Theſe horſes, like the former, are little, but extremely ſwift and beautiful. The head is ſomething of the largeſt; the mane thick; the ears long, but well pointed; the eyes filled with fire; the ſhoulder thickiſh, and the breaſt full and large. The croup round and large; the legs beautiful, and without hair; the paſtern a little of the longeſt, as in the Barb, and the hoof rather too high. Nevertheleſs, they move with great eaſe, and carry [Page 357] themſelves extremely well. Their moſt uſual colour is black, or a dark bay. They ſeldom or never have white legs, or white ſnip. The Spaniards, who have a groundleſs averſion to theſe marks, never breed from ſuch as have them. They are all branded on the buttock with the owner's name; and thoſe of the province of Andaluſia paſs for the beſt. Theſe are ſaid to poſſeſs courage, obedience, grace, and ſpirit, in a greater degree than even the Barb; and, for this reaſon, they have been preferred as war horſes to thoſe of any other country.
The Italian horſes were once more beautiful than they are at preſent, for they have greatly neglected the breed. Nevertheleſs, there are ſtill found ſome beautiful horſes among them, particularly among the Neapolitans, who chiefly uſe them for the draught. In general, they have large heads and thick necks. They are alſo reſtiff, and conſequently unmanageable. Theſe faults, however, are recompenced by the largeneſs of their ſize, by their ſpirit, and the beauty of their motion. They are excellent for ſhew, and have a particular aptitude to prance.
The Daniſh horſes are of ſuch an excellent ſize and ſo ſtrong a make, that they are preferred to all others for the draught. There [Page 358] are ſome of them perfectly well shaped; but this is but ſeldom ſeen, for in general they are found to have a thick neck, heavy ſhoulders, long and hollow back, and a narrow croup: however, they all move well, and are found excellent both for parade and war. They are of all colours, and often of whimſical ones, ſome being ſtreaked like the tyger, or mottled like the leopard.
The German horſes are originally from Arabian and Barbary ſtocks; nevertheleſs, they appear to be ſmall and ill ſhaped: it is ſaid alſo, that they are weak and waſhy, with tender hoofs. The Hungarian horſes, on the other hand, are excellent for the draught, as well as the ſaddle. The Huſſars, who uſe them in war, uſually ſlit their noſtrils; which is done, as it is ſaid, to prevent their neighing, but, perhaps, without any real foundation.
The Dutch breed is good for the draught, and is generally uſed for that purpoſe over Europe: the beſt come from the province of Friezland. The Flanders horſes are much inferior to the former; they have moſt commonly large heads, flat feet, and ſwollen legs; which are an eſſential blemiſh in horſes of this kind.
The French horſes are of various kinds; but they have few that are good. The beſt [Page 359] horſes of that country come from Limoſin; they have a ſtrong reſemblance to the Barb, and, like them, are excellent for the chace; but they are ſlow in coming to perfection: they are to be carefully treated while young, and muſt not be backed till they are eight years old. Normandy furniſhes the next beſt; which, though not ſo good for the chace, are yet better for war. In general, the French horſes have the fault of being heavy ſhouldered, which is oppoſite to the fault of the Barb, which is too thin in the ſhoulder, and is, conſequently, apt to be ſhoulder-ſlipt.
Having mentioned the horſes moſt uſually known in Europe, we paſs on to thoſe of more diſtant countries, of whoſe horſes we can only judge by report. We mentioned the wild horſes of America. Such as are tame, if we may credit the lateſt reports*, are admirable. Great numbers of theſe are bred up to the chace, and are chiefly kept for this purpoſe, particularly at Quito. The hunters, as Ulloa informs us, are divided into two claſſes; one part on foot, the other on horſeback: the buſineſs of the footmen is to rouze the deer; and that of the horſemen, to hunt it down. They all, at break of day, repair to the place appointed, [Page 360] which is generally on the ſummit of an hill, with every man his greyhound. The horſemen place themſelves on the higheſt peaks; whilſt thoſe on foot range the precipices, making an hideous noiſe, in order to ſtart the deer. Thus the company extend themſelves three or four leagues, or more, according to their numbers. On ſtarting any game, the horſe which firſt perceives it, ſets off, and the rider, being unable to guide or ſtop him, purſues the chace, ſometimes down ſuch a ſteep ſlope, that a man on foot, with the greateſt care, could hardly keep his legs; from thence he flies up a dangerous aſcent, or along the ſide of a mountain, ſo that a perſon not uſed to this exerciſe, would think it much ſafer to throw himſelf out of the ſaddle, than commit his life to the precipitate ardor of his horſe. The other horſes, which join in the chace, do not wait for the riders to animate them; they ſet forward immediately upon ſeeing another at full ſpeed; and it becomes prudence in the rider to give them their way, and at the ſame time to let them feel the ſpur, to carry him over the precipices. Theſe horſes are backed and exerciſed to this method of hunting; and their uſual pace is trotting.
There are ſaid to be very good horſes in the iſlands of the Archipelago. Thoſe of Crete [Page 361] were in great reputation among the ancients, for their ſwiftneſs and force; however, at preſent they are but little uſed, even in the country itſelf, becauſe of the unevenneſs of the ground, which is there very rocky and mountainous. The original horſes of Morocco are much ſmaller than the Arabian breed; however, they are very ſwift and vigorous. In Turky there are to be found horſes of almoſt all races; Arabians, Tartars, Hungarians, and thoſe natural to the place. The latter are very beautiful and elegant; they have a great deal of fire, ſwiftneſs, and management; but they are not able to ſupport fatigue: they eat little; they are eaſily heated; and they have ſkins ſo ſenſible, that they can ſcarcely bear the rubbing of the ſtirrup. The Perſian horſes are, in general, the moſt beautiful and moſt valuable of all the eaſt. The paſtures in the plains of Media, Perſepolis, Ardebil, and Derbent, are excellent for the purpoſe of rearing them; and there were bred in thoſe places vaſt numbers, by order of the government of Perſia, while that country was under any government. Pietro della Valle prefers the horſes of Perſia to thoſe of Italy; and informs us, that they are in general of a middle ſize; and although ſome are found even of the ſmalleſt ſtature, yet that does not [Page 362] impair their beauty nor their ſtrength: yet, in ſome places, they are found of a very good ſize, and as large as the Engliſh ſaddle-horſes are generally found to be: they have all a thin head, a fine creſt, a narrow breaſt, ſmall ears well placed, the legs fine, the hoof hard, and the croup beautiful; they are docile, ſpirited, nimble, hardy, courageous, and capable of ſupporting a very great fatigue; they run very ſwiftly, without being eaſily fatigued; they are ſtrong, and eaſily nouriſhed, being only ſupplied with barley and chopped ſtraw; they are put to graſs only for ſix weeks in the ſpring; they have always the tail at full length, and there is no ſuch thing as geldings among the number; they are defended from the air, as in England, by body-cloaths; they attend them with the moſt punctual exactneſs; and they are rid generally in a ſnafflle, without ſpurs. Great numbers of theſe are every year tranſported into Turky, but chiefly into the Eaſt-Indies: however, after all, travellers agree that they are not to be compared to the Arabian horſes, either for courage, force, or beauty; and that the latter are greatly ſought, even in Perſia.
The horſes of India are of a very indifferent kind, being weak and waſhy. Thoſe which are uſed by the grandees of the country, come [Page 363] from Perſia and Arabia; they are fed with a ſmall quantity of hay during the day; and at night they have boiled peas, mixed with ſugar and butter, inſtead of oats or barley: this nouriſhment ſupports them, and gives them ſtrength; otherwiſe, they would ſoon ſink and degenerate, the heat of the climate being againſt them. Thoſe naturally belonging to the country, are very ſmall and vicious. Some are ſo very little, that Taverner reports, that the young Mogul prince, at the age of ſeven or eight, rode one of thoſe little horſes, that was not much larger than a greyhound: and it is not long ſince one of theſe was brought over into this country, as a preſent to our Queen, that meaſures no more than nine hands high; and is not much larger than a common maſtiff. It would ſeem, that climates exceſſively hot, are unfavourable to this animal. In this manner, the horſes of the Gold coaſt, and of Guinea, are extremely little, but very manageable. It is a common exerciſe with the grandees of that country, who are excellent horſemen, to dart out their lances before them upon full gallop, and to catch them again before they come to the ground. They have a ſport alſo on horſeback, that requires great dexterity in the rider, and a great ſhare of activity in the horſe; they [Page 364] ſtrike off a ball, with a battledore, while they are upon a full gallop, and purſuing it, ſtrike it again before it comes to the ground; and this they continue for a mile together, ſtriking ſometimes to the right, and ſometimes to the left, with amazing ſpeed and agility.
The horſes of China are as indifferent as thoſe of India: they are weak, little, ill-ſhaped, and cowardly. Thoſe of Corea are not above three feet high: almoſt all the breed there are made geldings, and are ſo timorous, that they can be rendered no way ſerviceable in war; ſo that it may be ſaid, that the Tartar horſes were properly the conquerors of China. Theſe, indeed, are very ſerviceable in war; and although but of a middle ſize, yet they are ſurprizingly patient, vigorous, ſwift, and bold; their hoofs are extremely hard, though rather too narrow; their heads are fine, but rather too little; the neck is long and ſtiff; the legs of the longeſt; and yet, with all theſe faults, they are found to be an excellent breed. The Tartars live with their horſes pretty much in the ſame manner as the Arabians do; they begin to back them at the age of ſeven or eight months, placing their children upon them, who manage them even at that early age. By this means they break them, by little and little, till at laſt, about the age of [Page 365] ſix or ſeven years, they are capable of enduring amazing hardſhips. Thus they have been known to march two or three days without once ſtopping; to continue five or ſix, without eating any thing except an handful of graſs at every eight hours; and, beſides, to remain without drinking, for four and twenty hours. Theſe horſes, which are ſo vigorous in their own country, loſe all their ſtrength when they are brought into China or the Indies; but they thrive pretty well in Perſia and Turky. The race of little Tartars towards the north, have alſo a breed of little horſes, which they ſet ſuch a value upon, that it is forbidden to ſell them to ſtrangers: theſe horſes have the very ſame qualities with thoſe of the larger kind; which they probably derive from a ſimilar treatment. There are alſo ſeveral very fine horſes in Circaſſia and Mingrelia. There are ſome greatly eſteemed in the Ukraine, in Walachia, Poland, and Sweden; but we have no particular accounts of their excellencies or defects.
If we conſult the ancients on the nature and qualities of the horſes of different countries, we learn, that the Grecian horſes, and particularly thoſe of Theſſaly, had the reputation of being excellent for war; that thoſe of Achaia were the largeſt that were known; that the moſt [Page 366] beautiful came from Egypt, which bred great numbers; that the horſes of Ethiopia were not in eſteem from the heat of the country; that Arabia and Afric furniſhed very beautiful horſes, and very fit for the courſe; that thoſe of Italy, and particularly of Apulia, were very good; that in Sicily, Capadocia, Syria, Armenia, Media, and Perſia, there were excellent horſes, equally eſteemed for their ſpeed and vigour; that thoſe of Sardinia and Corſica, though ſmall, were ſpirited and courageous; that thoſe of Spain reſembled the Parthian horſes, in being very well adapted for war; that in Walachia and Tranſylvania, there were horſes with buſhy tails, and manes hanging down to the ground, which, nevertheleſs, were extremely ſwift and active; that the Daniſh horſes were good leapers; thoſe of Scandinavia, though little, were well ſhaped, and poſſeſſed of great agility; that the Flanders breed was ſtrong; that the Gauliſh horſes were good for carrying burthens; that the German breeds were ſo bad, ſo diminutive, and ill ſhaped, that no uſe could be made of them; that the Swiſs and Hungarian horſes were good; and, laſtly, that thoſe of India were very diminutive and feeble.
[Page 367] Such are the different accounts we have of the various races of horſes in different parts of the world. I have hitherto omitted making mention of one particular breed, more excellent than any that either the ancients or moderns have produced; and that is our own. It is not without great aſſiduity, and unceaſing application, that the Engliſh horſes are now become ſuperior to thoſe of any other part of the world, both for ſize, ſtrength, ſwiftneſs, and beauty. It was not without great attention, and repeated trials of all the beſt horſes in different parts of the world, that we have been thus ſucceſsful in improving the breed of this animal; ſo that the Engliſh horſes are now capable of performing what no others ever could attain to. By a judicious mixture of the ſeveral kinds, by the happy difference of our ſoils, and by our ſuperior ſkill in management, we have brought this animal to its higheſt perfection. An Engliſh horſe, therefore, is now known to excel the Arabian, in ſize and ſwiftneſs; to be more durable than the Barb, and more hardy than the Perſian. An ordinary racer is known to go at the rate of a mile in two minutes: and we had one inſtance, in the admirable Childers, of ſtill greater rapidity. He has been frequently [Page 368] known to move above eighty-two feet and an half in a ſecond, or almoſt a mile in a minute: he has run alſo round the courſe of New market, which is very little leſs than four miles, in ſix minutes and forty ſeconds. But what is ſurprizing, no other horſe has been ſince found, that ever could equal him; and thoſe of his breed have been remarkably deficient.
However this be, no horſes can any way equal our own, either in point of ſwiftneſs or ſtrength; and theſe are the qualifications our horſemen ſeem chiefly to value. For this reaſon, when the French, or other foreigners, deſcribe our breed, they all mention, as a fault, the aukward and ungainly motion of our horſes; they allow them to be very good indeed, but they will not grant them an eaſy or an elegant carriage*. But theſe writers do not conſider that this ſeeming want of grace is entirely the reſult of our manner of breaking them. We conſult only ſpeed and diſpatch in this animal's motions: the French, and other nations, are more anxious for parade and ſpirit. For this reaſon we always throw our horſes forward, while they put them upon their haunches; we give them an eaſy ſwift gait of [Page 369] going, that covers a great deal of ground: they, on the contrary, throw them back, giving them a more ſhewy appearance indeed, but one infinitely leſs uſeful. The fault of our manner of breaking is, that the horſe is ſometimes apt to fall forward; the French managed horſe never falls before, but more uſually on one ſide; and for this reaſon, the rider wears ſtiff boots, to guard his legs againſt ſuch accidents. However, it would be a very eaſy matter to give our horſes all that grace which foreigners are ſo fond of; but it would certainly take from their ſwiftneſs and durability.
But in what degree of contempt ſoever foreigners might formerly have held our horſes, they have for ſome time perceived their error, and our Engliſh hunters are conſidered as the nobleſt and the moſt uſeful horſes in the world. Our geldings are, therefore, ſent over to the continent in great numbers, and ſell at very great prices; as for our mares and ſtallions, there is a law prohibiting their exportation; and one ſimilar to this, obtained even as early as the times of Athelſtan, who prohibited their exportation, except where deſigned as preſents.
Roger de Belegme, created earl of Shrewſbury [Page 370] by William the Conqueror*, is the firſt who is recorded to have made attempts towards the mending our native breed. He introduced Spaniſh ſtallions into his eſtate at Powiſland in Wales, from which that part of the country was for many ages after famous for a ſwift and generous race of horſes: however, at that time, ſtrength and ſwiftneſs were more regarded than beauty; the horſes ſhapes, in time of action, being entirely hid by a coat of armour, which the knights then uſually put upon them, either by way of ornament or defence.
The number of our horſes, in London alone, in the time of king Stephen, is ſaid to have amounted to twenty thouſand. However, long after, in the times of queen Elizabeth, the whole kingdom could not ſupply two thouſand horſes to form our cavalry. At preſent, the former numbers ſeem revived; ſo that, in the late war, we furniſhed out above thirteen thouſand horſemen: and could, if hard puſhed, ſupply above four times that number. How far this great encreaſe of horſes among us may be beneficial, or otherwiſe, is not the proper [Page 371] buſineſs of the preſent page to diſcuſs; but certain it is, that where horſes encreaſe in too great a degree, men muſt diminiſh proportionably; as that food which goes to ſupply the one, might very eaſily be converted into nouriſhment to ſerve the other. But, perhaps, it may be ſpeculating too remotely, to argue for the diminution of their numbers upon this principle, ſince every manufacture we export into other countries, takes up room, and may have occupied that place, which, in a ſtate of greater ſimplicity, might have given birth and ſubſiſtence to mankind, and have added to population.
Be this as it will, as we have been at ſuch expence and trouble to procure an excellent breed of horſes, it is not now to be expected that we ſhould decline the advantages ariſing from it, juſt when in our poſſeſſion. It may be, therefore, the moſt prudent meaſure in our legiſlature, to encourage the breed, as an uſeful branch of commerce, and a natural defence to the country. But how far this end is anſwered by the breeding up of racers, is what moſt perſons, verſed in this ſubject, are very apt to queſtion. They aſſert, that the running-horſe, as the breed has been for a long time refined, [Page 372] is unfit for any other ſervice than that of the courſe, being too ſlight either for the road, the chace, or the combat; and his joints ſo delicately united, as to render him ſubject to the ſmalleſt accidents. They, therefore, conclude, that leſs encouragement given to racing, would be a means of turning us from breeding rather for ſwiftneſs than ſtrength; and that we ſhould thus be again famous for our ſtrong hunters, which they ſay are wearing out from among us.
How far this may be fact, I will not take upon me to determine, being but little verſed in a ſubject that does not properly come within the compaſs of natural hiſtory. Inſtead, therefore, of farther expatiating on this well known animal's qualifications, upon which many volumes might eaſily be written, I will content myſelf with juſt mentioning the deſcription of Camerarius, in which he profeſſes to unite all the perfections which an horſe ought to be poſſeſſed of. ‘"It muſt," ſays he, "have three parts like thoſe of a woman; the breaſt muſt be broad, the hips round, and the mane long: it muſt, in three things reſemble a lion; its countenance muſt be fierce, its courage muſt be great, and its fury irreſiſtible: it muſt have [Page 373] three things belonging to the ſheep; the noſe, gentleneſs, and patience: it muſt have three of a deer; head, leg, and ſkin: it muſt have three of a wolf; throat, neck, and hearing: it muſt have three of a fox; ear, tail, and trot: three of a ſerpent; memory, ſight, and flexibility: and, laſtly, three of an hare; running, walking, and perſeverance."’
17. CHAP. XVI. Of the Aſs.*.[Page 374]
ALTHOUGH this animal is very eaſily diſtinguiſhed from the horſe at firſt ſight, yet, upon a cloſer inſpection, the ſimilitude between them is very ſtriking. They have both a ſimilar outline in the external parts; the ſame conformation within. One would be led, from the great reſemblance there is between them, to ſuppoſe them of the ſame ſpecies; and that the aſs was only an horſe degenerated: however, they are perfectly diſtinct, and there is an inſeparable line drawn between them, for the mule they produce is barren. This ſeems to be the barrier between every ſpecies of animals; this keeps them aſunder, and preſerves the unities of their form. If the mule, or the monſter bred between two animals whoſe form nearly approaches, is no longer fertile, we may then conclude, that theſe animals, however reſembling, are of different kinds.—Nature has providently ſtopped the fruitfulneſs of theſe ill-formed productions, in order to preſerve [Page 375] the form of every animal uncontaminated: were it not for this, the races would quickly be mixed with each other; no one kind would preſerve its original perfection; every creature would quickly degenerate; and the world would be ſtocked with imperfection and deformity.
The horſe and the aſs, therefore, though ſo nearly approaching in form, are of two diſtinct kinds, different in their natures; and were there but one of each kind, both races would then be extinguiſhed. Their ſhapes and their habits may, indeed, be very nearly alike; but there is ſomething in every animal, beſide its conformation or way of life, that determines its ſpecific nature. Thus there is much greater reſemblance between the horſe and the aſs, than between the ſheep and the goat; and yet the latter produce an animal that is by no means barren, but which quickly re produces an offſpring reſembling the ſheep; while the mule of the former is marked with certain ſterility. The goat and the ſheep may be therefore ſaid to be of one kind, although ſo much unlike in figure; while the horſe and the aſs are perfectly diſtinct, though ſo cloſely reſembling. It has, indeed, been ſaid by Ariſtotle, that their male is ſometimes prolific; this, however, has not [Page 376] been confirmed by any other teſtimony, although there has elapſed a period of near two thouſand years to collect the evidence.
But what tends to put the ſubject out of diſpute is, that the two animals are found in a ſtate of nature, entirely different. The onager, or wild aſs, is ſeen in ſtill greater abundance than the wild horſe; and the peculiarities of its kind are more diſtinctly marked than in thoſe of the tame one. Had it been an horſe degenerated, the likeneſs would be ſtronger between them, the higher we went to the original ſtock from whence both have been ſuppoſed to be ſprung. The wild animals of both kinds would, in ſuch a caſe, reſemble each other, much more than thoſe of the tame kind, upon whom art has, for a ſucceſſion of ages, been exerciſing all its force, and producing ſtrange habits and new alterations. The contrary however obtains, and the wild aſs is even more aſſinine, if I may ſo expreſs it, than that bred in a ſtate of domeſtic ſervitude; and has even a natural averſion to the horſe, as the reader will ſhortly learn.
The wild aſs has, by ſome writers, been confounded with the zebra, but very improperly, for they are of a very different ſpecies. The wild aſs is not ſtreaked like the zebra, nor is his [Page 377] ſhape ſo beautiful: his figure is pretty much the ſame as that of the common aſs, except that he is of a brighter colour, and has a white liſt running from his head to his tail. This animal is found wild in many iſlands of the Archipelago, particularly in that of Cerigo. There are many wild aſſes in the deſarts of Lybia and Numidia, that run with ſuch amazing ſwiftneſs, that ſcarce even the courſers of the country can overtake them. When they ſee a man, they ſet up an horrid braying, and ſtop ſhort all together, till he approaches near them; they then, as if by common conſent, fly off with great ſpeed; and it is upon ſuch occaſions that they generally fall into the traps which are previouſly prepared to catch them. The natives take them chiefly upon account of their fleſh, which they eſteem as delicious eating; and for their ſkins, of which that kind of leather is made which is called ſhagreen.
Olearius relates that the monarch of Perſia invited him on a certain day to be preſent at an entertainment of a very peculiar nature, which was exhibited in a ſmall building near the palace, reſembling a theatre. After a collation of fruits and ſweetmeats, more than thirty of theſe wild aſſes were driven into the area, among which the monarch diſcharged [Page 378] ſeveral ſhot, and ſome arrows, and in which he was imitated by ſome of the reſt of his attendants. The aſſes, finding themſelves wounded, and no way of eſcaping, inſtantly began to attack each other, biting with great fierceneſs, and braying terribly. In this manner they continued their mutual animoſity, while the arrows were poured in from above, until they were all killed; upon which they were ordered to be taken, and ſent to the king's kitchen at Iſpahan. The Perſians eſteem the fleſh of this animal ſo highly, that its delicacy is even become a proverb among them. What may be the taſte of the wild aſſes fleſh, we are unable to ſay; but certain it is, that the fleſh of the tame aſs is the worſt that can be obtained, being dryer, more tough, and more diſagreeable than even horſe-fleſh. Galen even ſays that it is very unwholſome. Yet we ſhould not judge haſtily upon the different taſtes of different people, in the preference they give to certain meats. The climate produces very great changes in the tenderneſs and the favour of ſeveral viands: that beef, for inſtance, which is ſo juicy and good in England, is extremely tough and dry when killed under the line; on the contrary, that pork which is with us ſo unpalatable in ſummer, in the warmer latitudes, where it is [Page 379] always hotter than here, is the fineſt eating they have, and much preferable to any hog's fleſh in Europe.
The aſs, like the horſe, was originally imported into America by the Spaniards, and afterwards by other nations. That country ſeems to have been peculiarly favourable to this race of animals; and, where they have run wild, they have multiplied in ſuch numbers, that in ſome places they are become a nuiſance*. In the kingdom of Quito, the owners of the grounds where they are bred, ſuffer all perſons to take away as many as they can, on paying a ſmall acknowledgment, in proportion to the number of days their ſport laſts. They catch them in the following manner. A number of perſons go on horſeback, and are attended by Indians on foot: when arrived at the proper places, they form a circle in order to drive them into ſome valley; where, at full ſpeed, they throw the nooſe, and endeavour to halter them. Thoſe creatures, finding themſelves incloſed, make very furious efforts to eſcape; and, if only one forces his way through, they all follow with an irreſiſtible impetuoſity. However, when nooſed, the hunters throw them down and ſecure them with fetters, and thus leave them [Page 380] till the chace is over. Then, in order to bring them away with greater facility, they pair them with tame beaſts of the ſame kind; but this is not eaſily performed, for they are ſo remarkably fierce that they often hurt the perſons who undertake to manage them. They have all the ſwiftneſs of horſes, and neither declivities nor precipices can retard their career. When attacked, they defend themſelves with their heels and mouth with ſuch activity, that, without flackening their pace, they often maim their purſuers. But the moſt remarkable property in theſe creatures is, that after carrying their firſt load, their celerity leaves them, their dangerous ferocity is loft, and they ſoon contract the ſtupid look and dullneſs peculiar to the aſſinine ſpecies. It is alſo obſervable, that theſe creatures will not permit an horſe to live among them. They always feed together; and, if an horſe happens to ſtray into the place where they graze, they all fall upon him; and, without giving him the liberty of flying, they bite and kick him till they leave him dead upon the ſpot.
Such is this animal in its natural ſtate, ſwift, fierce, and formidable; but, in his ſtate of tameneſs, the aſs preſents a very different picture; the moment his native liberty is repreſſed, [Page 381] he ſeems entirely to give up all claims to freedom; and he aſſumes a patience and ſubmiſſion even humbler than his ſituation. He is, in a ſtate of tameneſs, the moſt gentle and quiet of all animals. He ſuffers with conſtancy, and, perhaps, with courage, all the ill treatment that cruelty and caprice are pleaſed to inflict. He is temperate with regard to the quantity and the quality of his proviſion. He is contented with the moſt neglected weeds; and makes his humble repaſt upon what the horſe and other animals leave behind. If he gives the preference to any vegetable, it is to the plantane; for which he is often ſeen to neglect every other herb in the paſture: but he is chiefly delicate with reſpect to his water; he drinks only at the cleareſt brooks, and chiefly thoſe to which he has been accuſtomed. He drinks as ſoberly as he eats; and never, like the horſe, dips his noſe into the ſtream. As he is ſeldom ſaddled, he frequently rolls himſelf upon the graſs; and lies down, for this purpoſe, as often as he has an opportunity, without minding what becomes of his burthen. He never rolls, like the horſe, in the mud; he even fears to wet his feet; and turns out of his way to avoid the dirty parts of a road.
[Page 382] When very young, the aſs is ſprightly, and even tolerably handſome; but he ſoon loſes theſe qualifications, either by age or bad treatment, and he becomes ſlow, ſtupid, and headſtrong. He ſeems to ſhew no ardour, except for the female, having been often known to die after the covering. The ſhe-aſs is not leſs fond of her young than the male is of her; and we are aſſured that ſhe will croſs fire and water to protect, or rejoin it. This animal is ſometimes not leſs attached to his owner; by whom he is too often abuſed. He ſcents him at a diſtance, and diſtinguiſhes him from others in a crowd; he knows the ways he has paſſed and the places where he inhabits.
When over-loaded, the aſs ſhews the injuſtice of his maſter, by hanging down his head and lowering his ears; when he is too hard preſſed, he opens his mouth and draws back his lips in a very diſagreeable manner. If his eyes are covered, he will not ſtir a ſtep; and, if he is laid down in ſuch a manner that one eye is covered with the graſs while the other is hidden with a ſtone, or whatever is next at hand, he will continue fixed in the ſame ſituation, and will not ſo much as attempt to riſe to free himſelf from thoſe ſlight impediments. He walks, trots, [Page 383] and gallops like an horſe; but, although he ſets out very freely at firſt, yet he is ſoon tired; and then no beating will make him mend his pace. It is in vain that his unmerciful rider exerts his whip or his cudgel; the poor little animal bears it all with patience, and without a groan; and, conſcious of his own imbecility, does not offer even to move.
Notwithſtanding the ſtupid heavineſs of his air, he may be educated with as much eaſe as any other animal; and ſeveral have been brought up to perform, and exhibited as a ſhew. In general, however, the poor animal is entirely neglected. Man deſpiſes this humble uſeful creature, whoſe efforts are exerted to pleaſe him, and whoſe ſervices are too cheaply purchaſed. The horſe is the only favourite, and upon him alone all expence and labour are beſtowed. He is fed, attended, and ſtabled, while the aſs is abandoned to the cruelty of the loweſt ruſtics, or even to the ſport of children, and, inſtead of gaining by the leſſons he receives, is always a loſer. He is conducted along by blows; he is inſulted by unneceſſary ſtripes; he is overloaded by the lazy; and, being generally the property of the poor, he ſhares with them in their wants and their diſtreſſes. Thus this faithful animal, which, were there no [Page 384] horſes, would be the firſt of the quadrupede kind in our eſteem, is now conſidered as nothing; his properties and qualifications being found in an higher degree elſewhere, he is entirely diſregarded; and, from being the ſecond, he is degraded into one of the moſt uſeleſs of the domeſtic quadrupedes.
For this reaſon, very little care has been taken to improve the breed; it is ſuffered to degenerate; and it is probable, that of all other animals this alone is rendered feebler and more diminutive, by being in a ſtate of domeſtic ſervitude. The horſe, the cow, and the ſheep, are rendered larger by the aſſiduity of man; the aſs is ſuffered to dwindle every generation, and particularly in England, where it is probable that, but for the medicinal qualities of its milk, the whole ſpecies would have ere now been extinguiſhed. Nevertheleſs, we have good reaſons to believe that, were the ſame care beſtowed on the aſs that is ſpent upon the horſe, were the ſame induſtry uſed in croſſing the breed and improving it, we ſhould ſee the aſs become from his preſent mean ſtate, a very portly and ſerviceable animal; we ſhould find him rival the horſe in ſome of his perfections, and exceed him in others. The aſs, bulk for bulk, is ſtronger than the horſe; he is more ſure footed [Page 385] alſo; and, though more ſlow in his motions, he is much leſs apt to ſtart out of the way.
The Spaniards, of all people in Europe, ſeem alone to be acquainted With the value of the aſs. They take all proper precautions to improve the breed; and I have ſeen a jack-aſs, from that country, above fifteen hands high. This animal, however, ſeems originally a native of Arabia. A warm climate is known to produce the largeſt and the beſt; their ſize and ſpirit decline in proportion as they advance into colder regions.
Though now ſo common in all parts of England, the aſs was entirely loſt amongſt us during the reign of Queen Elizabeth. Holingſhed informs us that our land did yield no aſſes*. However, there are accounts of their being common in England before that time. In Sweden, they are at preſent a ſort of rarity; nor does it appear by the laſt hiſtory of Norway that they have yet reached that country. It is in the hotter climates alone that we are to look for the original of this ſerviceable creature. In Guinea, they are larger and more beautiful than even the horſes of the ſame country. In Perſia, they have two kinds; one of which is [Page 386] uſed for burthens, being ſlow and heavy; the other, which is kept for the ſaddle, being ſmooth, ſtately, and nimble. They are managed as horſes, only that the rider fits nearer the crupper, and they are taught to amble like them. They generally cleave their noſtrils to give them more room for breathing, and many of theſe are ſold for forty or fifty pounds.
The aſs is a much more healthy animal than the horſe, and liable to fewer diſeaſes. Of all animals covered with hair, he is the leaſt ſubject to vermin, for he has no lice, probably owing to the dryneſs and the hardneſs of his ſkin. Like the horſe, he is three or four years in coming to perfection; he lives till twenty or twenty-five; ſleeps much leſs than the horſe; and never lies down for that purpoſe, unleſs very much tired. The ſhe-aſs goes above eleven months with young, and never brings forth more than one at a time. The mule may be engendered either between an horſe or a ſhe-aſs, or between a jack-aſs and a mare. The latter breed is every way preferable, being larger, ſtronger, and better ſhaped. It is not yet well known whether the animal called the Gimerro be one of theſe kinds; or, as is aſſerted, bred between the aſs and the bull. While [Page 387] naturaliſts affirm the impoſſibility of this mixture, the natives of the Alpine countries, where this animal is bred, as ſtrongly inſiſt upon its reality. The common mule is very healthy, and will live above thirty years, being found very ſerviceable in carrying burthens, particularly in mountainous and ſtony places, where horſes are not ſo ſure footed. The ſize and ſtrength of our aſſes is at preſent greatly improved by the importation of Spaniſh jackaſſes; and it is probable we may come in time to equal the Spaniards in breeding them, where it is not uncommon to give fifty or ſixty guineas for a mule; and, indeed, in ſome mountainous countries, the inhabitants cannot well do without them. Their manner of going down the precipices of the Alps, or the Andes, is very extraordinary; and with it we will conclude their hiſtory. In theſe paſſages, on one ſide, are ſteep eminences, and, on the other, frightful abyſſes; and, as they generally follow the direction of the mountain, the road, inſtead of lying in a level, forms at every little diſtance ſteep declivities, of ſeveral hundred yards downward. Theſe can only be deſcended by mules; and the animal itſelf ſeems ſenſible of the danger, and the caution that is to be uſed [Page 388] in ſuch deſcents. When they come to the edge of one of theſe deſcents, they ſtop of themſelves, without being checked by the rider; and, if he inadvertently attempts to ſpur them on, they continue immoveable. They ſeem all this time ruminating on the danger that lies before them, and preparing themſelves for the encounter. They not only attentively view the road, but tremble and ſnort at the danger. Having prepared for the deſcent, they place their fore-feet in a poſture, as if they were ſtopping themſelves; they then alſo put their hinder feet together, but a little forward, as if they were going to lie down. In this attitude, having taken as it were a ſurvey of the road, they ſlide down with the ſwiftneſs of a meteor. In the mean time, all the rider has to do is to keep himſelf faſt on the ſaddle, without checking the rein, for the leaſt motion is ſufficient to diſorder the equilibrium of the mule; in which caſe they both unavoidably periſh. But their addreſs, in this rapid deſcent, is truly wonderful; for, in their ſwifteſt motion, when they ſeem to have loſt all government of themſelves, they follow exactly the different windings of the road, as if they had previouſly ſettled in their minds the route [Page 389] they were to follow, and taken every precaution for their ſafety. In this journey, the natives, who are placed along the ſides of the mountains, and hold by the roots of the trees, animate the beaſts with ſhouts, and encourage him to perſeverance. Some mules, after being long uſed to theſe journeys, acquire a kind of reputation for their ſafety and ſkill; and their value riſes in proportion to their fame*.
THERE are but three animals of the horſe kind. The horſe, which is the moſt ſtately and courageous; the aſs, which is the moſt patient and humble; and the zebra, which is the moſt beautiful, but at the ſame time the wildeſt animal in nature. Nothing can exceed the delicate regularity of this creature's colour, or the luſtrous ſmoothneſs of its ſkin; but, on the other hand, nothing can be more timid or more untameable.
It is chiefly a native of the ſouthern parts of Africa; and there are whole herds of them often ſeen feeding in thoſe extenſive plains that lie towards the Cape of Good Hope. However, their watchfulneſs is ſuch, that they will ſuffer nothing to come near them; and their ſwiftneſs ſo great, that they readily leave every purſuer far behind. The zebra, in ſhape, rather reſembles the mule, than the horſe, or the aſs. It is rather leſs than the former, and yet larger than the latter. Its ears are not ſo long as thoſe of the aſs, and yet not ſo ſmall as in the horſe kind. Like the aſs, its head is large, its back [Page 391] ſtraight, its legs finely placed, and its tail tufted at the end; like the horſe, its ſkin is ſmooth and cloſe, and its hind quarters round and fleſhy. But its greateſt beauty lies in the amazing regularity and elegance of its colours. In the male, they are white and brown; in the female, white and black. Theſe colours are diſpoſed in alternate ſtripes over the whole body, and with ſuch exactneſs and ſymmetry, that one would think Nature had employed the rule and compaſs to paint them. Theſe ſtripes, which, like ſo many ribbands, are laid all over its body, are narrow, parallel, and exactly ſeparated from each other. It is not here as in other party coloured animals, where the tints are blended into each other; every ſtripe here is perfectly diſtinct, and preſerves its colour round the body, or the limb, without any diminution. In this manner are the head, the body, the thighs, the legs, and even the tail and the ears beautifully ſtreaked, ſo that at a little diſtance one would be apt to ſuppoſe that the animal was dreſſed out by art, and not thus admirably adorned by nature.
In the male zebra, the head is ſtriped with fine bands of black and white, which in a manner center in the forehead. The ears are variegated with a white and duſky brown. The [Page 392] neck has broad ſtripes of the ſame dark brown running round it, leaving narrow white ſtripes between. The body is ſtriped alſo acroſs the back with broad bands, leaving narrower ſpaces of white between them, and ending in points at the ſides of the belly, which is white, except a black line pectinated on each ſide, reaching from between the fore-legs, along the middle of the belly, two thirds of its length. There is a line of ſeparation between the trunk of the body and the hinder quarters, on each ſide; behind which, on the rump, is a plat of narrow ſtripes, joined together, by a ſtripe down the middle, to the end of the tail. The colours are different in the female; and in none the ſtripes ſeem entirely to agree in form, but in all they are equally diſtinct; the hair equally ſmooth and fine; the white ſhining and unmixed; and the black, or brown, thick and luſtrous.
Such is the beauty of this creature, that it ſeems by nature fitted to ſatisfy the pride and the pleaſure of man; and formed to be taken into his ſervice. Hitherto, however, it appears to have diſdained ſervitude, and neither force nor kindneſs have been able to wean it from its native independance and ferocity. But this wildneſs might, perhaps, in [Page 393] time, be ſurmounted; and, it is probable, the horſe and the aſs, when firſt taken from the foreſt, were equally obſtinate, fierce, and unmanageable, Mr. Buffon informs us that the zebra, from which he took his deſcription, could never be entirely maſtered, notwithſtanding all the efforts which were tried to tame it. They continued, indeed to mount it, but then with ſuch precautions as evidently ſhewed its fierceneſs, for two men were obliged to hold the reins while the third ventured upon its back; and even then it attempted to kick whenever it perceived any perſon approaching. That which is now in the Queen's menagerie, at Buckingham Gate, is even more vicious than the former; and the keeper who ſhews it takes care to inform the ſpectators of its ungovernable nature. Upon my attempting to approach, it ſeemed quite terrified, and was preparing to kick, appearing as wild as if juſt caught, although taken extremely young, and uſed with the utmoſt indulgence. Yet ſtill it is moſt probable that this animal, by time and aſſiduity, could be brought under ſubjection. As it reſembles the horſe in form, without all doubt it has a ſimilitude of nature, and only requires the efforts of an induſtrious and ſkilful nation to be added to the number of our domeſtics. [Page 394] It is not now known what were the pains and the dangers which were firſt undergone to reclaim the breed of horſes from ſavage ferocity; theſe, no doubt, made an equal oppoſition; but, by being oppoſed, by an induſtrious and enterprizing race of mankind, their ſpirit was at laſt ſubdued, and their freedom reſtrained. It is otherwiſe with regard to the zebra; it is the native of countries where the human inhabitants are but little raiſed above the quadrupede. The natives of Angola, or Cafraria, have no other idea of advantage from horſes but as they are good for food; neither the fine ſtature of the Arabian courſer, nor the delicate colourings of the zebra, have any allurements to a race of people who only conſider the quantity of fleſh and not its conformation. The delicacy of the zebra's ſhape, or the painted elegance of its form, are no more regarded by ſuch, than by the lion that makes it his prey. For this reaſon, therefore, the zebra may hitherto have continued wild, becauſe it is the native of a country where there have been no ſucceſſive efforts made to reclaim it. All purſuits that have been hitherto inſtituted againſt it, were rather againſt its life than its liberty; the animal has thus been long taught to conſider man as its moſt mortal enemy; and [Page 395] it is not to be wondered that it refuſes to yield obedience where it has ſo ſeldom experienced mercy. There is a kind of knowledge in all animals, that I have often conſidered with amazement; which is, that they ſeem perfectly to know their enemies, and to avoid them. Inſtinct, indeed, may teach the deer to fly from the lion; or the mouſe to avoid the cat: but what is the principle that teaches the dog to attack the dog-butcher wherever he ſees him? In China, where the killing and dreſſing dogs is a trade, whenever one of theſe people move out, all the dogs of the village, or the ſtreet, are ſure to be after him. This I ſhould hardly have believed, but that I have ſeen more than one inſtance of it among ourſelves. I have ſeen a poor fellow who made a practice of ſtealing and killing dogs for their ſkins, purſued hue and cry for three or four ſtreets together, by all the bolder breed of dogs, while the weaker flew from his preſence with affright. How theſe animals could thus find out their enemy, and purſue him, appears I own unaccountable, but ſuch is the fact; and it not only obtains in dogs, but in ſeveral other animals, though perhaps to a leſs degree. This very probably may have been, in ſome meaſure, a [Page 396] cauſe that has hitherto kept the zebra in its ſtate of natural wildneſs; and in which it may continue, till kinder treatment ſhall have reconciled it to its purſuers.
It is very likely, therefore, as a more civilized people are now placed at the Cape of Good Hope, which is the chief place where this animal is found, that we may have them tamed and rendered ſerviceable. Nor is its extraordinary beauty the only motive we have for wiſhing this animal among the number of our dependents; its ſwiftneſs is ſaid to ſurpaſs that of all others; ſo that the ſpeed of a zebra is become a proverb among the Spaniards and Portugueſe. It ſtands better upon its legs alſo than an horſe; and is conſequently ſtronger in proportion. Thus, if by proper care we improved the breed, as we have in other inſtances, we ſhould probably in time to come have a race as large as the horſe, as fleet, as ſtrong, and much more beautiful.
The zebra, as was ſaid, is chiefly a native of the Cape of Good Hope. It is alſo found in the kingdom of Angola; and, as we are aſſured by Lopez, in ſeveral provinces alſo of Barbary. In thoſe boundleſs foreſts it has nothing to reſtrain its liberty; it is too ſhy to be caught in [Page 397] traps, and therefore ſeldom taken alive. It would ſeem, therefore, that none of them have ever been brought into Europe, that were caught ſufficiently young, ſo as to be untinctured by their original ſtate of wildneſs. The Portugueſe, indeed, pretend that they have been able to tame them, and that they have ſent four from Africa to Liſbon, which were ſo far brought under as to draw the king's coach*; they add, that the perſon who ſent them over, had the office of notary conferred upon him for his reward, which was to remain to him and his poſterity for ever: but I do not find this confirmed by any perſon who ſays he ſaw them. Of thoſe which were ſent to Braſil, not one could be tamed; they would permit one man only to approach them; they were tied up very ſhort; and one of them, which had by ſome means got looſe, actually killed his groom, having bitten him to death†. Notwithſtanding this, I believe, were the zebra taken up ſufficiently young, and properly treated, it might be rendered as tame as any other animal; and Merolla, who ſaw many of them, aſſerts, that when tamed, which he ſpeaks of as being common enough, they are not leſs eſtimable for their ſwiftneſs than their beauty.
[Page 398] This animal, which is neither to be found in Europe, Aſia, or America, is nevertheleſs very eaſily fed. That which came over into England ſome years ago, would eat almoſt any thing, ſuch as bread, meat, and tobacco; that which is now among us, ſubſiſts entirely upon hay. As it ſo nearly reſembles the horſe and the aſs in ſtructure, ſo it probably brings forth annually as they do. The noiſe they make is neither like that of an horſe or an aſs, but more reſembling the confuſed barking of a maſtiff dog. In the two which I ſaw, there was a circumſtance that ſeems to have eſcaped naturaliſts; which is, that the ſkin hangs looſe below the jaw upon the neck, in a kind of dewlap, which takes away much from the general beauty. But whether this be a natural or accidental blemiſh, I will not take upon me to determine.