Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/492

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474
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

ing the volume of the brain; and if chimpanzees, orang-outangs, and sokos had enjoyed the thousands of years of domestication and thorough breeding and training, from which dogs have so immensely profited, there is no knowing what advances in knowledge and acquisitions of intellectual culture they might not have made. It is wonderful how much they learn through observation and very slight instruction during a few months' intercourse with human beings, discharging with evident pleasure the duties of body servant or waiter, answering the door bell, showing visitors into the parlor, fetching water, kindling the fire, washing dishes, turning the spit, and doing all sorts of chores in and about the house. "Such an ape," said Brehm, "one can not treat as a beast, but must associate with as a man. Notwithstanding all the peculiarities it exhibits, it reveals in its nature and conduct so very much that is human, that one quite forgets the animal. Its body is that of a brute, but its intelligence is almost on a level with that of a common boor. It is absurd to attribute the actions of such a creature to unthinking imitation; it imitates, to be sure, but as a child imitates an adult, with understanding and judgment."

That the plastic and progressive period of the monkey's individual development is short, and that its faculties become set and stationary at a comparatively early age, is undeniable; but the same holds true of the negro, who loses his educability and ceases his mental growth much earlier than the Caucasian. The longer or shorter duration of this formative season in the mental life of man is, to some extent, a matter of race, but in a still greater degree the resultant of civilization.

The hand is also a valuable instrument for the cultivation of the æsthetic sense, and the more flexible and sensitive this instrument becomes, the greater are the results achieved by it in this direction. But there are animals without hands that show an appreciation of the beautiful. Mr. Darwin has proved conclusively that birds take pleasure in sweet sounds and in brilliant colors, and that the sentiment thus awakened and appealed to plays an important part in the preservation and perfection of the species through natural selection. The struggle for existence is not always carried on by fierce combat and the triumph of brute force, but quite as frequently takes the form of competition in beauty, addressing itself either to the ear as alluring song or to the eye as attractive plumage; and the bird that possesses these characteristics in the highest degree carries off the prize in the tournament of love, and propagates its kind.

There is no doubt that birds take delight in the gorgeousness of their own feathers, and the more brilliant their hues the greater the vanity they display. Conspicuous examples of this love of