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Introduction to Scott's Lady of the Lake
with the music of bird song or the fragrance If the races of men should suddenly dis- of flowers, or, in winter, would be clothed appear from the earth, leaving only the in their mantle of snow. And the animal animals, great changes would take place. world would be much the same as now, For a time, the works of men would remain, except that the wild beasts would become but gradually the lofty buildings in our bolder and more numerous and the animals cities would crumble and collapse, the that man has tamed or has made his comrailroads would become thin lines of rusty panions would become wild or would be steel buried in tangles of weeds, farms destroyed by enemies of their own kind. would be covered with brush and with In such a world, no more progress of the great forests, the roads would become sort that seems progress to us would merely paths for animals, and in place of be possible. Animals would not build fertile fields and villages and busy cities cities or make inventions or use telephones the ancient jungle would return. Ex- or trains or ships. There would still be ternal Nature would remain much the such primitive methods of living as animals same as now. Season would succeed use. The races of animals would still keep season, the rivers would flow as majestical- up some such form of communication as ly as ever to the sea, the moon and stars they now seem to have. Cats, for examwould shine or would be blotted out by ple, look much alike, no matter what their great storms; the woods would be filled breed, yet they know each other and have their quarrels and their methods of getting when these were found wanting, he inon with each other. Dogs differ from each vented machines that would carry him other in appearance more than most other still more rapidly—the ship, the train of animals, yet dogs of every kind recognize cars running on ribbons of steel, the autoeach other and have some means of com- mobile, the airplane. He was not satisfied munication. But no coöperation, working with his power of communicating his together for a safer and happier mode of thought to those of his fellows who were living, comes from this faint sense of rela- near by, so he discovered how to send his tionship that members of an animal-race voice over thousands of miles by the aid feel for one another.
of a slender wire, and then how to send One reason for this failure is that the it without even the wire. He communiimagination and memory of animals are cated his thoughts by a system of sounds very small. We have no evidence that the that he developed with great precision, beauty of Nature-a vista in a forest or the and then by representing these sounds on grandeur of mountains or the tang of the various materials—stone, bark, paper made salt spray-produces any effect on the ani- of reeds, later on fabrics of finer qualities. mals that look upon or hear or feel Nature's He represented his ideas of the beauty of wonders. Many of them have, to be sure, Nature by pictures that he drew on stone, primitive ways of expressing their satisfac
or on canvas; at length he discovered how tion over a good meal or a warm, sunny to send his pictures through space by telespot, or their discomfort when they are hurt phone. He lived in huts or caves, then in or are deprived of something that they tents that he could carry about with him, want. Birds seem to enjoy the music they still later, if he desired, in houses that make, and a great poet once said that it was could fly with incredible speed on rails. his faith that every flower enjoys the air it In order to increase his powers he enlarged breathes. But so far as we know, all the his group of associates, which at first was reactions of animals to what goes on about like the group of animals, so that thouthem are confined to the moment and are sands, even millions, of his kind could live of the simplest kind. They know nothing within a small area in buildings not built of distant lands, unless they belong to on one level but on ten or twenty or fifty animal races that migrate from place to levels. And he kept records of his deeds, place in search of food or in order to and of his thoughts, and of his ideas of escape extreme cold or extreme heat. the beauty of Nature and life, so that he They have no records of their past history could live in the past as well as in the -no books or poems or permanent records present, and could learn from generations of any kind. If mankind were to disap- long dead. pear from the earth, the horse and the Now all this may be summed up by saycow and the dog and all the tribes of ing that man is so constituted that he animals domesticated by man, would soon can reflect about the things that surround forget that a strange superior animal, him. The reactions of animals are simple, walking upright and having uncanny are limited to the moment. Man seizes on powers over them, had ever used them for what is of service to him, and can determine his pleasure or his profit, had ever cared how to make this even more serviceable. for them in sheds and barns when they He can project his mind into the world were tired, or had ever killed them for his about him or into the past or the future, own food when he was hungry.
can see what he wishes to bring to pass, and Man differs from the animals, then, can set about making it possible; or he chiefly in his power to ask questions of can see what he wishes to preserve of the life and to get answers to his questions. past for his present or future profit and He could project his thought more rapidly enjoyment. He can live more lives than than he could walk, so he discovered He multiplies himself in a thousand means of transporting himself to places ways. He makes all things serve him. He where he wanted to be. He used the explores the mysteries of Nature, the ox and the horse to multiply his strength; sources of life, and the causes of death.