Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 43.djvu/450

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had gone out with his gun waited for him to return; meanwhile he took a book and sat down under a tree near a pen in which some foxes were confined. Suddenly he heard them utter certain sounds which according to his vocabulary were expressive of surprise and joy, and after listening for a time came to the conclusion that the foxes had discovered some means of escape and were exulting over the prospect of regaining their freedom. When the hunter returned, Wenzel informed him of what he had heard and advised him to look into the matter, but was only laughed at for his credulity and assured that the pen was perfectly secure. They went into the house, where they were taking some refreshments and talking about other affairs, when a servant rushed in greatly excited and announced that the foxes had escaped.

Wenzel admits that the language of animals is extremely simple and limited, and consequently monotonously repetitious; the same combination of sounds uttered with a stronger or weaker intonation serves to denote a variety of mental states and must be largely supplemented by lively pantomime. In conclusion, he has eighteen pages of what he calls an "animal pathognomic-mimetic alphabet," showing the value and function of each part of the physical organism, from the teeth to the tail, as a vehicle of expression. Dogs and cats fairly bristle with strong emotions, and birds show their ruffled feelings in their feathers and wax eloquent with their wings. Wenzel is convinced that every species of animal has its own dialect, which is to be regarded as a modification of the common or generic language of the race to which it belongs. Thus he seems to think that the zebra would understand the ass more readily than the horse, because the first two are more closely affiliated, although all three are endowed with equine speech. The same principle applies to the different varieties of the domestic hog in relation to other suilline quadrupeds.

As an example of the extent to which animals may acquire a knowledge of human speech he prints a communication from a clergyman who had taught his dog to fetch books from his library in an adjoining room. "Fido," he would say, "on the table near the window are a quarto, an octavo, and a duodecimo; go and get the quarto." Fido never failed to bring the volume designated. He had trained the dog to perform this service by showing him a book and saying very distinctly and repeatedly quarto, octavo, or duodecimo, and then laying it down in the library and making him fetch it. In the same manner the dog was taught to bring many other objects, the names of which he seldom confounded or misunderstood. The clever animal could also be sent on errands.

"Fido," the clergyman would say, "go to Mr. B. and tell him that I shall call upon him to-day." Thereupon Fido ran to Mr. B.'s house and on finding him gave three short barks, which were per-