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Weather, which raises this genial Warmth in Animals, should cover the Trees with Leaves, and the Fields with Grass, for their Security and Concealment, and produce such infinite Swarms of Insects for the Support and Sustenance of their respective Broods?
Is it not wonderful that the Love of the Parent should be so violent while it lasts, and that it should last no longer than is necessary for the Preservation of the Young?
With what Caution does the Hen provide herself a Nest in Places unfrequented, and free from Noise and Disturbance? When she has laid her Eggs in such a Manner, that she can cover them, what Care does she take in turning them frequently, that all Parts may partake of the vital Warmth? When she leaves them, to provide for her necessary Sustenance, how punctu ally does she return before they have time to cool, and become incapable of producing an Animal? In the Summer you see her giving herself greater Freedoms, and quitting her Care for above two Hours together; but in Winter, when the Rigour of the Season would chill the Principles of Life, and destroy the young one, she grows more assiduous in her Attendance, and stays away but half the Time. When the Birth approaches, with how much Nicety and Attention does she help the Chick to break its Prison? Not to take
notice of her covering it from the Injuries of the Weather, providing it proper Nourishment, and teaching it to help itself; nor to mention her forsaking the Nest, if after the usual Time of reckoning the young one does not make its Appearance. A Chymical Operation could not be followed with greater Art or Diligence, than is seen in the hatching of a Chick; though there are many other Birds that show an infinitely greater Sagacity in all the forementioned Particulars.
But at the same time the Hen, that has all this seeming Ingenuity, (which is indeed absolutely necessary for the Propagation of the Species) considered in other respects, is without the least Glimmerings of Thought or common Sense. She mistakes a Piece of Chalk for an Egg, and sits upon it in the same manner: She is insensible of any Increase or Diminution in the Number of those she lays: She does not distinguish between her own and those of another Species; and when the Birth appears of never so different a Bird, will cherish it for her own. In all these Circumstances which do not carry an immediate Regard to the Subsistence of herself or her Species, she is a very Idiot.
There is not, in my Opinion, any thing more mysterious in Nature than this Instinct in Animals, which
thus rises above Reason, and falls infinitely short of it. It cannot be accounted for by any Properties in Matter, and at the same time works after so odd a manner, that one cannot think it the Faculty of an intellectual Being. For my own part, I look upon it as upon the Principle of Gravitation in Bodies, which is not to be explained by any known Qualities inherent in the Bodies themselves, nor from any Laws of Mechanism, but, according to the best Notions of the greatest Philosophers, is an immediate Impression from the first Mover, and the Divine Energy acting in the Creatures.
As I was walking this Morning in the great Yard that belongs to my Friend's Country-House, I was wonderfully pleased to see the different Workings of Instinct in a Hen followed by a Brood of Ducks. The Young, upon the sight of a Pond, immediately ran into it; while the Step-mother, with all imaginable Anxiety, hovered about the Borders of it, to call them out of an Element that appeared to her so dangerous and destructive. As the different Principle which acted in these different Animals cannot be termed Reason, so when we call it Instinct, we mean something we have no Knowledge of. To me, as I hinted in my last Paper, it seems the immediate Direction of Providence, and such an Operation of the supreme
Being, as that which determines all the Portions of Matter to their proper Centres. A modern Philosopher, quoted by Monsieur Bayle in his learned Dissertation on the Souls of Brutes, delivers the same Opinion, though in a bolder Form of Words, where he says, Deus est Anima Brutorum, God himself is the Soul of Brutes. Who can tell what to call that seeming Sagacity in Animals, which directs them to such Food as is proper for them, and makes them naturally avoid whatever is noxious or unwholesom? Tully has observed, that a Lamb no sooner falls from its Mother, but immediately, and of his own accord, applies itself to the Teat. Dampier, in his Travels, tells us, that when Seamen are thrown upon any of the unknown Coasts of America, they never venture upon the Fruit of any Tree, how tempting soever it may appear, unless they observe that it is marked with the Pecking of Birds; but fall on without any Fear or Apprehension where the Birds have been before them.
SIR ROGER ON THE BENCH.
Comes jucundus in via pro vehiculo est. PUBL.
MAN'S first Care should be to avoid the Re
proaches of his own Heart; his next, to escape the Censures of the World: If the last interferes with the former, it ought to be entirely neglected; but otherwise there cannot be a greater Satisfaction to an honest Mind, than to see those Appropriations which it gives itself, seconded by the Applauses of the Publick: A Man is more sure of his Conduct, when the Verdict which he passes upon his own Behaviour is thus warranted and confirmed by the Opinion of all that know him.
My worthy Friend Sir ROGER is one of those who is not only at Peace within himself, but beloved and esteemed by all about him. He receives a suitable Tribute for his universal Benevolence to Mankind, in the Returns of Affection and Good-will, which are paid him by every one that lives within his Neigh