Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 43.djvu/451

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435
STUDIES OF ANIMAL SPEECH.

fectly intelligible to the person thus addressed. If any one called when the clergyman was out, Fido barked once; and he did the same if his master did not wish to be disturbed and bade him tell the caller that he was not at home. He announced a visitor by scratching on the door and barking twice. A Bavarian family at Munich has a dog that deems it highly improper for gentlemen to wear their hats in the house, but is sufficiently gallant not to find fault with ladies for doing so. An American, who wished to test the animal's discriminating sense of the fitness of things in this respect, entered the room and sat down with his hat on. The dog looked at him disapprovingly for a moment and then began to bark, with eyes intently fixed upon the hat. As the unmannerly visitor continued the conversation without paying any attention to these admonitions, the dog sprang up and, seizing the hat by the brim, pulled it off and quietly laid it on a chair.

Wenzel also tells the story of a dog whom his master used to send to the market for meat, and who would stand before the kind of meat he was instructed to get, beef, mutton, or veal, and bark once, twice, or thrice, according to the number of pounds desired. The butcher filled the order, and the dog trotted home with his purchase and the cheerful consciousness of having done his duty. Wenzel's little book is full of interesting anecdotes illustrating his subject, and has a frontispiece representing a landscape, resembling the traditional pictures of the garden of Eden found in old Bibles, with an ape, a dog, a horse, and a bull in the foreground, and the legend underneath: "They do not lie; their speech is truth."

The French physicist, R. Radeau, in a work on acoustics, published in 3869, treats incidentally of the language of animals, which he thinks one could, by careful observation, learn to understand and even to speak with fluency. Mersenne, in his Harmonie Universelle, asserts that men speak from a volitional impulse and utter vocal sounds in the exercise of a power of the mind which they are free not to exercise unless they choose to do so, whereas the lower animals use their voices under the influence of natural necessity, howling, shrieking, singing, etc., because under the circumstances they can not do otherwise, being subject to forces which they are absolutely unable to resist. The vexed question of the freedom or necessity of the will in human action, which metaphysics has vainly endeavored to solve, has been reopened by natural science and evolutionary biology and is now discussed on a broader basis and with the prospect of positive result. What Iever may be the final issue of these investigations, it is certain that the old Cartesian distinction between man and brute in this respect can no longer be maintained. Radeau is right in rejecting Mersenne's theory as involving a too subtile psychological