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conversation too stiff, formal, and precise: for which reason (as hypocrisy in one age is generally succeeded by atheism in another) conversation is in a great
measure relapsed into the first extreme; so that at 5 present several of our men of the town, and particu
larly those who have been polished in France, make use of the most coarse uncivilized words in our language, and utter themselves often in such a manner as a clown would blush to hear.
This infamous piece of good-breeding, which reigns among the coxcombs of the town, has not yet made its way into the country; and as it is impossible for such an irrational way of conversation
to last long among a people that make any pro15 fession of religion, or show of modesty, if the country
gentlemen get into it, they will certainly be left in the lurch. Their good-breeding will come too late to them, and they will be thought a parcel of lewd
clowns, while they fancy themselves talking together 20 like men of wit and pleasure.
As the two points of good breeding, which I have hitherto insisted upon, regard behavior and conversation, there is a third which turns upon dress.
In this too the country are very much behind-hand. 25 The rural beaus are not yet got out of the fashion
that took place at the time of the revolution, but ride about the country in red coats and laced hats, while the women in many parts are still trying to outvie one another in the height of their headdresses. But a friend of mine, who is now upon the western circuit,4 having promised to give me an account of the several modes and fashions that prevail in the different parts of the nation through which he passes, I shall defer the enlarging upon this last topic till 5 I have received a letter from him, which I expect every post.
No. 19. Sir Roger's Poultry SPECTATOR No. 120. Wednesday, July 18, 1711
Equidem credo, quia sit divinitus illis
Virg. Georg. i. 451.
My friend Sir Roger is very often merry with me upon my passing so much of my time among his poultry. He has caught me twice or thrice looking 10 after a bird's-nest, and several times sitting an hour or two together near a hen and chickens. He tells me he believes I am personally acquainted with every fowl about his house; calls such a particular cock my favorite; and frequently complains that his 15 ducks and geese have more of my company than himself.
I must confess I am infinitely delighted with those speculations of nature which are to be made in a country life; and as my reading has very much 20 lain among books of natural history, I cannot forbear recollecting upon this occasion the several remarks
which I have met with in authors, and comparing them with what falls under my own observation: the arguments for Providence drawn from the
natural history of animals being in my opinion 5 demonstrative.
The make of every kind of animal is different from that of every other kind; and yet there is not the least turn in the muscles or twist on the fibers
of any one, which does not render them more proper. 10 for that particular animal's way of life than any other cast or texture of them would have been.
The most violent appetites in all creatures are lust and hunger. The first is a perpetual call upon
them to propagate their kind; the latter to preserve 15 themselves.
It is astonishing to consider the different degrees of care that descend from the parent to the young, so far as is absolutely necessary for the leaving a
posterity. Some creatures cast their eggs as chance 20 directs them, and think of them no farther; as
insects and several kinds of fish. Others, of a nicer frame, find out proper beds to deposit them in and there leave them; as the serpent, the crocodile,
and ostrich: others hatch their eggs and tend the 25 birth, until it is able to shift for itself.
What can we call the principle which directs every different kind of bird to observe a particular plan in the structure of its nest, and directs all the same species to work after the same model? It cannot be imitation; for though you hatch a crow under a hen, and never let it see any of the works of its own kind, the nest it makes shall be the same, to the laying of a stick, with all the other nests of the same species. It cannot be reason; for were 5 animals endowed with it to as great a degree as man, their buildings would be as different as ours, according to the different conveniences that they would propose to themselves.
Is it not remarkable that the same temper of 10 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? 15
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?
The violence of this natural love is exemplified 20 by a very barbarous experiment; which I shall quote at length, as I find it in an excellent author, and hope my readers will pardon the mentioning such an instance of cruelty, because there is nothing can so effectually show the strength of that principle 25 in animals of which I am here speaking. “A person who was well skilled in dissections opened a bitch, and as she lay in the most exquisite tortures, offered her one of her young puppies, which she imme
diately fell a licking; and for the time seemed insensible of her own pain. On the removal, she kept her eyes fixed on it, and began a wailing sort of
cry, which seemed rather to proceed from the loss 5 of her young one, than the sense of her own torments.”
But notwithstanding this natural love in brutes is much more violent and intense than in rational
creatures, Providence has taken care that it should 10 be no longer troublesome to the parent than it is
useful to the young; for so soon as the wants of the latter cease, the mother withdraws her fondness, and leaves them to provide for themselves; and
what is a very remarkable circumstance in this part 15 of instinct, we find that the love of the parent may
be lengthened out beyond its usual time, if the preservation of the species requires it: as we may see in birds that drive away their young as soon as
they are able to get their livelihood, but continue 20 to feed them if they are tied to the nest, or confined
within a cage, or by any other means appear to be out of a condition of supplying their own necessities.
This natural love is not observed in animals to 25 ascend from the young to the parent, which is not
at all necessary for the continuance of the species: nor indeed in reasonable creatures does it rise in any proportion, as it spreads itself downward; for in all family affection, we find protection granted