Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 30.djvu/677
the dog; but we are desirous of pointing out how much has been overlooked in all these comparisons between man and the lower animals. It will be noticed that all those species of animals which have for ages been in contact with man, have made great advances over their wild progenitors, evidencing a capacity for education—mental and moral—which is one of the best demonstrations of superiority.
The assumption that man is only accidentally the superior of the brute would but lead to confusion, for it must be admitted that there is a scale, and that man ranks first. We are simply desirous of doing the lower creation that justice which we feel assured has not yet been allowed them, and of seeing the human family interested in those that we think scientific investigation is proving constantly are much more our fellow-creatures than has generally been supposed.
If we compare the intelligence and general rectitude of behavior of our best races of dogs with the same in any of their wild carnivorous allies, we are astonished at the great difference in favor of the dog. To what is this due? Largely to what he has become by virtue of association with man for hundreds if not thousands of years—that is, to education, after a fashion. Nor is such influence confined to the dog. Any observing person, of moderate experience in travel, can call to mind numerous instances of members of different classes of animals trained to the performance of many feats demanding intelligence. But, while in an irregular way dogs have been trained to certain duties for the benefit of man for a considerable period, it can not be said that any one of the tribes of the lower animals has ever been subjected to any such mental or moral discipline as man receives and has received for long ages. We have ample evidence, in the condition not only of savage man, but in the neglected classes of large cities, as to what man would be without such culture. Sufficient has been said, it is believed, to show that we are not yet in possession of enough facts to enable us to determine exactly the limit of mental and moral capacity in the lower animals. As yet, we neither know adequately what they are or of what they are capable. Both these subjects are worthy of human investigation. Their elucidation must tend to give man a better knowledge of himself, if only by contrast.
To return to the question of the moral nature of animals. The study of the dog alone, both in the light of observations accumulated in the literature which are often true of special individuals in a degree not of the average animal (a fact which does not, however, at all invalidate their force), the study of any dog we may ourselves own, can not but convince us that a sense of right and wrong is possessed by that animal. It may be that the dog does not rise to these conceptions as understood by the learned divine discoursing from the pulpit; but neither does a large proportion of the congregation when transacting the business of the week. It may be, and perhaps is, largely true that the right with the dog means what is in accord with his master's