Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 16.djvu/373

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353
THE MORAL SENSE IN THE LOWER ANIMALS.

Certain of the lower animals have a very decided sense of justice and injustice, of equity or fairness and the reverse. Thus the dog, horse, mule, ass, camel, elephant, and other working animals have a feeling that "the laborer is worthy of his hire"; that they deserve a certain need of praise, credit, or reward—a certain return in food and drink, in domestic comfort or personal attention—for service rendered. There is a clear recognition of the value of service—a knowledge of personal deserts. Hence they so frequently exhibit a sore sense of ill requital of hard labor or of self-sacrifice. Punishment which they know to be undeserved they resent—sometimes dangerously to man—and in doing so they discriminate and estimate man's injustice.

The bread-buying dog does very much the same thing—detects and protests against man's unfair dealing when, offering its penny for a roll, a baker tries, waggishly or otherwise, to cheat it by giving it something of inferior value or refusing it a quid pro quo at all.

There must further exist in certain animals some perception of the distinction between spoken as well as acted truth and falsehood, fact and fiction; for we are told, for instance, that the parrot sometimes not only detects but denounces with the utmost indignation man's verbal falsehoods ("Animal World"). On the other hand, one of the occasionally base or bad purposes to which the same bird applies its wonderful gift of speech is mendacity: so that it is capable at once of "telling lies" itself and of detecting and reprimanding falsehood in man.

A certain sentiment of decency, modesty, or propriety occurs in various social animals, illustrated as it is by—

1. Their sexual bashfulness and chastity.
2. Their care of the dead, including the—
3. Use of dying-places and cemeteries.
4. Their employment of latrines or their equivalents.

It has to be remarked that the moral virtues are illustrated mainly by or in those animals that have directly or indirectly received their moral training from man—such animals as the dog, elephant, and horse. As a general rule—to which there are exceptions both in man and other animals—the human child and the young animal can equally be educated both to distinguish and do the right. In the formation of their characters moral virtue may be made to dominate over moral vice though it is probably impossible in either case to extinguish the latter. Moral perfectibility may be aimed at, though it can not be attained; but the degree of moral excellence attainable is such in other animals, as in the child, that it should stimulate man to put forth all efforts in the moral training of both.