Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 43.djvu/452

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distinction and in declaring that his doctrine of natural necessity might be applied with equal force to many an inveterate gabbler who can not hold his tongue.

In this connection he relates the following anecdote on the authority of Jules Richard: In 1857 this gentleman had occasion to visit a sick friend in a hospital, where he made the acquaintance of an old official of the institution from the south of France, who was exceedingly fond of animals, his love of them being equaled only by his hatred of priests; he claimed also to be perfectly familiar with the languages of cats and dogs, and to speak the language of apes even better than the apes themselves. Jules Richard received this statement with an incredulous smile, whereupon the old man, whose pride was evidently touched by such skepticism, invited him to come the next morning to the zoological garden. "I met him at the appointed time and place," says Mr. Richard, "and we went together to the monkeys' cage, where he leaned on the outer railing and began to utter a succession of guttural sounds, which alphabetical signs are scarcely adequate to represent—'Kirruu, kirrikiu, kuruki, kirikiu'—repeated with slight variations and differences of accentuation. In a few minutes the whole company of monkeys, a dozen in number, assembled and sat in rows before him with their hands crossed in their laps or resting on their knees, laughing, gesticulating, and answering." The conversation continued for a full quarter of an hour, to the intense delight of the monkeys, who took a lively part in it. As their interlocutor was about to go away, they all became intensely excited, climbing up on the balustrade and uttering cries of lamentation; when he finally departed and disappeared more and more from their view, they ran up to the top of the cage and clinging to the frieze made motions as if they were bidding him good-by. It seemed, adds Mr. Richard, as though they wished to say, "We are sorry to part and hope to meet again, and if you can't come, do drop us a line!"

No one who has observed the actions and listened to the utterances of a clever parrot will accept Mersenne's assertion that the exercise of the vocal organs of animals is not free, but subject to natural and irresistible necessity, or that speech is in a greater degree the product of inevitable causation in the mouth of the cockatoo than in that of the cockney. Humboldt states that, after the Aturians on the Orinoco had become extinct, the only creature that could speak their language was a very aged parrot, condemned by adverse fortune to spend the remnant of its days in comparative solitude as the sad survivor of a once powerful tribe. From a philological point of view, the venerable bird was as interesting a character as the old Cornish woman with whose decease, some years ago, the dialect of her people ceased to be a