Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 43.djvu/700

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

descriptive literature develops beyond measure during the period of decadence, as has been observed in China and India, where the excess and often the insipidity of the word-paintings overwhelm the chief subject of the poems. This belated taste for description seems, therefore, to be a characteristic symptom. It indicates that literary vigor is exhausted; that the writer has few ideas, or is restrained from expressing them; or that political liberty is dead, social sympathy is extinct, and intelligence is reduced.—Translated for The Popular Science Monthly from the Revue Mensuelle de l'École d'Anthropologie.


I PUBLISHED two articles in February and October, 1891, telling of two ocellated lizards which I had captured in May, 1890—one at Port Bon, on the borders of Spain, the other on the banks of the Tarn, near Peyrdean, France. I described their characteristic differences at length, telling how the former lizard was bold, snappish, suspicious, and stupid; and the latter was timid, gentle, confiding, and straightforward. I told how the French lizard having been lost for twenty-six days in May of the following year, the Spaniard refused all food; and how, his companion having been found again, he went at once to catching flies. I praised their good understanding with one another, and their fellowship, which, however, did not extend to self-denial; and I related with great pleasure how, by forbearance and kind attention, I finally established excellent relations between myself and the Spaniard, while only a few delicate attentions were needed to gain the heart of the French lizard from the very first.

I concluded that the animals which we are accustomed to regard as in the lowest degree of intelligence among vertebrates, and which we are apt to suppose are all cast in a common mold, offer notable differences in character and docility. Yet, since those which are under consideration here are adults, they have necessarily each received the share of force and cunning which was indispensable to enable them to come safely out of the struggle for existence. Whence do their peculiar qualities come, and what use do they make of them? In wild animals, whose mode of life presupposes a well-determined combination of native qualities which age can only develop and strengthen, should not differences tend to disappear?

What I have to relate now is not less curious than my former