Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

cow to its calf, and of the ewe to its lamb, appear to be prior to their sucking. The attraction of the calf or lamb to the teat of the dam is not explained by simply referring it to the sense of smell. What made the scent of milk so agreeable to the lamb, that it should follow it up with its nose, or seek with its mouth the place from which it proceeded? No observation, no experience, no argument could teach the newdropped animal, that the substance, from which the scent issued, was the material of its food. It had never tasted milk before its birth. None of the animals, which are not designed for that nourishment, ever offer to suck, or to seek out any such food. What is the conclusion, but that the sugescent parts of animals are fitted for their use, and the knowledge of that use put into them? We assert, secondly, that, even as to the cases in which the hypothesis has the fairest claim to consideration, it does not at all, lessen the force of the argument for intention and design. The doctrine of instincts is that of appetencies, superadded to the constitution of an animal, for the effectuating of a purpose beneficial to the species. The abovestated solution would derive these appetencies from organization; but then this organization is not less specifically, not less precisely, and, therefore, not less evidently adapted to the same ends, than the appetencies themselves would be upon the old hypothesis. In this way of considering the subject, sensation supplies the place of foresight: but this is the effect of contrivance on the part of the Creator. Let it be allowed, for example, that the hen is induced to brood upon her eggs by the enjoyment or relief, which in the heated state of her abdomen, she experiences from the pressure of round smooth surfaces, or from the application of a temperate warmth. How comes this extraordinary heat or itching, or call it what you will, which you suppose to be the cause of the bird's inclination, to be felt, just at the time when the inclination itself is wanted; when it tallies so exactly with the internal constitution of the egg, and with the help which that constitution requires in order to bring it to maturity? In my opinion, this solution, if it be accepted as to the fact, ought to increase, rather than otherwise, our admiration of the contrivance. A gardener lighting up his stoves, just when he wants to force his fruit, and when his trees require the heat, gives not a more certain evidence of design. So again; when a male and female sparrow come together, they do not meet to confer upon the expediency of perpetuating their species. As an abstract proposition, they care not the value of a barley-corn, whether the species be perpetuated, or not: they follow their sensations; and all those consequences ensue, which the wisest counsels could have dictated, which the most solicitous care of futurity, which the most anxious concern for the sparrow-world, could have produced. But how do these consequences ensue? The sensations, and the constitution upon which they depend, are as manifestly directed to the purpose which we see fulfilled by them; and the train of intermediate effects, as manifestly laid and planned with a view to that purpose: that is to say, design is as completely evinced by the phaenomena, as it would be, even if we suppose the operations to begin, or to be carried on, from what some will allow to be alone properly called instincts, that is, from desires directed to a future end, and having no accomplishment or gratification distinct from the attainment of that end. In a word; I should say to the patrons of this opinion, Be it so : be it, that those actions of animals which we refer to instinct, are not gone about with any view to their

...'

consequences, but that they are attended in the animal with a present gratification, and are pursued for the sake of that gratification alone: what does all this prove, but that the prospection, which must be somewhere, is not in the animal, but in the Creator | In treating of the parental affection in brutes, our business lies rather with the origin of the principle, than with the effects and expressions of it. Writers recount these with pleasure and admiration. The conduct of many kinds of animals towards their young, has escaped no observer, no historian of nature. “How will they caress them,” says Derham, “with their affectionate notes; lull and quiet them with their tender parental voice; put food into their mouths; cherish and keep them warm ; teach them to pick, and eat, and gather food for themselves ; and, in a word, perform the part of so many nurses, deputed by the Sovereign Lord and Preserver of the world, to help such young and shiftless creatures 1" Neither ought it, under this head, to be forgotten, how much the instinct costs the animal which feels it; how much a bird for example, gives up, by sitting upon her nest; how repugnant it is to her organization, her habits, and her pleasures. An animal, formed for liberty, submits to confinement, in the very season when every thing invites her abroad: what is more; an animal delighting in motion, made for motion, all whose motions are so easy and so free, hardly a moment, at other times, at rest, is, for many hours of many days together, fixed to her nest, as close as if her limbs were tied down by pins and wires. For my part I never see a bird in that situation, but I recognize an invisible hand, detaining the contented prisoner from her fields and groves, for the purpose, as the event proves, the most worthy of the sacrifice, the most important, the most beneficial. But the loss of liberty is not the whole of what the procreant bird suffers. Harvey tells us, that he has often found the female wasted to skin and bone by sitting upon her eggs. One observation more, and I will dismiss the subject. The pairing of birds, and the non-pairing of beasts, forms a distinction between the two classes, which shows, that the conjugal instinct is modified with a reference to utility founded in the condition of the offspring. In quadrupeds, the young animal draws its nutriment from the body of the dam. The male parent neither does, nor can contribute any part to its sustentation. In the winged race, the young'bird is supplied

r 3.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]
« VorigeDoorgaan »