Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/496

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rushed to some distance from it, and betrayed a consternation which was particularly laughable in so large and ferocious-looking a creature. Only after cautious approaches and much hesitation was he induced again to lay hold of the stick. This behavior showed very clearly that the stick, while displaying none but the properties he was familiar with, was not regarded by him as an active agent, but that when it suddenly inflicted a pain in a way never before experienced from an inanimate object, he was led for the moment to class it with animate objects, and to regard it as capable of again doing him injury. Similarly, in the mind of the primitive man, knowing scarcely more of natural causation than a dog, the anomalous behavior of an object previously classed as inanimate suggests animation. The idea of voluntary action is made nascent, and there arises a tendency to regard the object with alarm, lest it should act in some other unexpected and perhaps mischievous way. The vague notion of animation thus aroused will obviously become a more definite notion as fast as the development of the ghost theory furnishes a specific agency to which the anomalous behavior can be ascribed."

This conduct of the dog, which every one must have observed under similar circumstances, corresponds to that of the savage who worshiped an anchor which had been cast ashore, and on which he had hurt himself when he first came in contact with it. Superstitious fear of this sort prevails most among men of the lowest order of intelligence, or in that stage of society in which human beings are psychically least removed from beasts. In proportion as they rise in the scale of existence and unfold their mental faculties, the more they free themselves from the tyranny of the supernatural. The terror of the dog hurt by the stick was out of all proportion to the pain inflicted, and arose solely from the fact that it was produced by a mysterious cause; it was fear intensified by the intervention of a ghostly element, and thus working upon the imagination it assumed the nature of religious awe. The case is analogous to that of a big, burly, brutal savage trembling before a rude stock or stone, or a Neapolitan bandit cowering before an image of the Virgin or kissing devoutly the feet of a crucifix.

The other illustration given by Herbert Spencer is that of a retriever, who, associating the fetching of game with the pleasure of the person to whom she brought it, would often fetch various objects and lay them at her master's feet; and "this had become in her mind an act of propitiation."

Still more interesting and instructive are Mr. Romanes's experiments with a Skye terrier. This dog, which was exceedingly intelligent and therefore an excellent subject for psychological study, "used to play with dry bones, by tossing them in the air,