Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 33.djvu/651

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

mon barn-yard fowls of a degree of intelligence usually attributed only to much, higher animals. Surely they show something far above the instincts familiar to all students of Nature. The sense of mortification in an individual has only a distant relationship to the rare instinct which makes chickens that were never out of the heart of a great city, and could not possibly have seen a more formidable bird than a pigeon, skurry for shelter when the far-off cry of the common hen-hawk is imitated in their presence. It is impossible for the bare narration of anecdotes to convey that certainty of intelligence and human emotions which early gave my brother and myself a sense of nearness to our farm-yard pets. We saw the countless little tricks of manner, the changes of expression, the indefinable consciousness which can never be appreciated save by those who, like ourselves, will literally live among unconfined and well-treated poultry. The purpose of this tribute will be served if it shall raise the reputation for intelligence of the barn-yard fowl, not indeed to the level of our belief, but somewhat above that on which the reader has heretofore placed it. The lesson is the oft-enforced truth that the greater part of what has been held by the majority of mankind to be exclusively human belongs only in less degree to the lower animals as well.

By Prof. G. A. DAUBRÉE.

BEFORE occupying himself with the great masses that constitute the crust of the earth, and yielding to cupidity rather than to scientific curiosity, man attempted to discover the genesis of certain minerals. Have the middle ages not seen more than one alchemist, in his passionate search for the philosopher's stone, trying to discover the secret of Nature, and reproduce the processes by which she has created in the rocks gold, the most noble, as they said in those days, of the metals, and certainly the most precious?

According to the system of Thales, adopted by Aristotle, water was the universal principle of things. "If the elements are born of one another," wrote Seneca, "why may not the earth be produced from water? Like the human body, the earth includes a number of humors, some of which, hardened when they came to maturity; whence the metallic earths, and stony substances, which are nothing but petrified liquids."

The hypotheses relative to the nature of mineral substances which were current down to the last century are related to this doctrine. Bernard Palissy, one of the most penetrative minds of his time, wrote: "All mineral matters that you call dead bodies