Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 11.djvu/611

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start at the sound of the car-bell, and I once saw an obstinate horse, which had resisted every other means of persuasion, start at the sound of the bell and get the car fairly under way before he had time to think what he was doing.

Every one remembers the story of the old pensioner who received the command "Attention" from a by-stander while he was returning from market with his dinner in his hand. At the word of command lie instantly and mechanically dropped his dinner in the mud, and took the proper position. Occasionally in man, and quite frequently in other animals, these habits of long standing are transmitted to the next generation, and, as they are then independent of individual experience, they are true instincts. Although the art of writing is not inherited, the particular style of handwriting is very often hereditary. The act of pointing or setting in dogs would be a great disadvantage to wild animals, and there is every reason to believe that it has been very recently acquired by a few breeds of domestic dogs; yet it is frequently inherited in its highly-developed form, and the transmission of a slight tendency in this direction appears to be general. The following seems to be an instance of the appearance in the second generation, as an instinct, of an acquired habit. A correspondent of Nature says:

"A few years ago I bought in Skye a perfectly uneducated Skye-terrier. The first accomplishment which I taught him was that of 'sitting up'—an accomplishment which he had great difficulty in acquiring. This was not owing to any stupidity on his part, for when he had once passed over this pons asinorum of dog-performances, he proved to be a very clever animal, and learned many other tricks with great ease. He appears never to have forgotten the pains which were taken to teach him his first trick, and to have judged therefrom that there is great merit in sitting up. Not only does he rely upon this as a last resource to move me to take him out, or not to whip him, but he judges that it must soften the heart of an India-rubber ball. Sometimes, when annoyed at his playing with this, his favorite plaything, I have placed it on a chimney-piece, and turned my attention elsewhere.

"On looking round again, I have seen my dog sitting up to the India-rubber ball, evidently hoping that it would jump down and play with him again. My dog is now the father of a family, and one of his daughters, who has never seen her father, is in the constant habit of sitting up, although she has never been taught to do so, and has never seen others sit up. She is especially given to this performance when any other dog is being scolded.

"Whether this is an instance of helping a fellow-animal, of which Mr. Darwin gives so many curious examples, or whether the dog simply hopes to avert the storm from her own head, the fact appears to me patent that this dog has inherited the impression that sitting up has some special virtue for turning away wrath."

A little higher than the habitual actions are those which are so complicated, or occur so rarely, or depend upon such delicate combinations of conditions, that they never become habitual—that is, they