W. H. (William Henry) Hudson.

A hind in Richmond park online

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Webster Family Library of Veterinary Medicine
Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at
Tufts University
290 Westboro Road
North Grafton. MA 01536



" There is a magic in Mr. Hudson's style and in
his exquisite sensibility which awakens in his reader
a thousand sleeping memories."

The Morning Post.








All rights reserved



This book contains the last words of the great naturalist
who through the power of his love reveals the beauty of
things animate and inanimate in the world in which he lived
such a long, full, ecstatic life, in spite of the sadness and
loneliness that were always his.

The publishers, who have enjoyed his friendship for many
years, would wish to join with those who knew the man and
his work in offering homage to his memory. " He fell on
sleep," August i8th, 1922.

The author before his death handed to us the full manu-
script of the book with the exception of the last chapter,
which he said wanted a little revision. Part of this was in
clear typescript, but the Jast few pages, amounting to some
two thousand words, were in his handwriting and exceedingly
difficult to decipher. We wish to put on record our thanks
to his old friend Mr. Morley Roberts for the loving, patient
care which he gave to the work of interpretation, in which he
has succeeded in making plain the closing pages of the book,
and also to Mr. Charles Lee for his valuable assistance in
seeing the book through the press.


The day before his death, Hudson told me that the last part
of this book's final chapter was practically finished. All that
was needed by the fragmentary script then lying scattered
on his table was the thorough revision his work invariably
received. When I offered to have it typed, he said that no
one could understand it but himself. This I took to refer
to his handwriting, which at its best was at times difficult,
even to one who had known it for forty years. He often
scribbled so illegibly in pencil on odd pieces of paper that
he was occasionally hard pressed to read what he had
written. As the book remained incomplete, it was necessary
for someone to put the last words into order, and the task
fell to me since I was familiar with his themes and had dis-
cussed them in letters and in talk. He wrote to me on the
2nd August of this year, " I did not want to add anything
to the book, but it appears I must do it . . . and so I have
had to go into the infernal question of the meaning of art
generally — its origin and meaning. . . . And as soon as I
get it done I want to send a copy for you to read — not for
you to tell me to modify anything, but to see that I make
myself understood." I quote this, as I could quote other
letters, to show why it lay upon me to undertake a laborious
and very painful task. But, when I came to examine the
incomplete script, the whole of it proved so difficult that many

pages took days to interpret, and perhaps one-third were



wholly indecipherable. I have therefore been obliged to
divine, by the " suggestion of contiguity " to which Hudson
so often refers, the place of each paragraph and sometimes
that of separate significant sentences. My impression now
is that the main argument runs clearly enough, for many
of the little portions omitted had in them an intelligible
line or two which showed that they did but contain addi-
tional illustrative reasoning, not necessary matter. I need
scarcely say that I have added not a word and have omitted
nothing which could find a logical place.

MoRLEY Roberts.
October 1922.




Richmond Park — Red deer — An adventure with a hind
eating acorns — Watching a Hstening hind — Senses in
dog and deer compared — Senses and instinct in wild
and domestic animals — Man and beast compared —
The hind divides her listening sense in two parts — The
trumpet ear and the ear trumpet — Strange case of a
deaf lady listening through an ear trumpet to a sermon


Ears in man and other animals — Ears in primitive man —
Atavism in ears, in the twitching-muscle and the
teeth — Teeth-gnashing faculty — The teeth as a musical
instrument — Cave men's chamber music — A natural
ear-pad — Helping our ears — Wind-made noises in our
ears a defect — A wind symphony . . . .13


Our senses — An atmospheric and wind sense — A difficult
subject — Our feeling about the wind — Women's un-
suitable clothing — Eastern and Western dress — A
woman's fight with the wind — A ludicrous sight which
was beautiful — An historical question — Light from
the dark ages — Sheep-shearing — A saint's biography
— Ellen in News from Nowhere — Wind in poetical
literature ........ ig





On seeking for a way back to Nature — ^The natural man
and his surroundings — When pain is pleasure — ^Man in
unison with Nature — " Intuition of snow," a notion
fantastic and true — Influence of the wind — The wind
a promoter of thought — Flying thoughts — Help from
the physicists — Phantasms in the wind — Telepathic
messages — A domestic drama — Is the wind a mind-
messenger ? — A desire of the mind — The poet expresses
it — Is it a delusion? — Conjectures — Mental embry-
ology — Telepathy inherited from the animals . . 33

Wind and the sense of smell — Scent in deer and dog —
Sense of smell in man — In the Queensland savage —
Sense of smell in different races — Purely personal
experience — The Smell of England : a mystery and its
solution — Aromatic and fragrant smells — Wordsworth's
vision of Paradise — Sweet gale — Bracken — Gorse and
its powerful effect — Spiritual quality in odours — Cow-
slip — Melancholy flowers — Honeysuckle and sweet-
briar — Shakespeare and Chaucer on its scent — Chaucer,
though old, still living — Scents and their degrading
associations — Frankincense • • • • • 59


The idea of unconscious smelling and the Hght it lends —
Effect of rest on nerves of smell: in caverns; at sea;
on mountains — Character of a dog's smell — A friend's
surprising experience — Racial smell — Smell a low sub-
ject — Physiology — Man-smelling by savages — Atavism
and a man whose nose never deceived him — Cheek-
smeUing by Mosquito Indians — Case from Dugald



Stewart — Estimating character by scent — The dog's
nose in judging character — Effect of human odour on
animals — Wolves in the Zoological Gardens — Wolf-
children — The jaguar's beneficent impulses — Bear and
puma — The mystery explained .... 83


Little knowledge of savages available — Observations on
the lower animals — Nose-greeting in animals — Smell in
savages — Our unconscious sense of smell — Gypsies and
savages on a level — Nerves of smell — The dog in his
world of smells — Small woodland beasts in their world
— How we are moved by hidden causes — Antipathies —
Classical cases and modern instances — Antipathies and
second sight — A strange case; clairvoyance or sense
of smell ?........ 103


An explanation and apology postponed — Smell in birds —
An ancient controversy — The vulture's two aspects
— ^The way of the vulture — Pigeons — Smell in crows —
Daws and ravens — Carrion crow — ^The rook's double
nature — An uncanny rook story — Panic fear in mam-
mals — Horses and cattle scenting grass and water —
Great stampedes preceding Indian invasions — Indian
warfare in Argentina — A little frontier tragedy . 119


The way this book is being written — The hind in Rich-
mond Park again — An imaginary colloquy — Sense of
direction in animals and man — Snakes — Insects — A
foraging ant — Fishes, batrachians, birds and mammals
— Smell in self-preservation — Horses: the history of a



homing horse — Sense of direction in man — A gaucho's
testimony — Sudden recovery of the sense of direction
— Comments . . . . . • • -135


Migration unrelated to a sense of direction — Personal
observations — ^The old simple account of the pheno-
menon — Migration a mystery still — Newton and
Addison: the supernatural theory — Dr. Henry More
— Erasmus Darwin and his tradition theory — Wallace
and others — Canon Tristram's theory of the origin of
Hfe in the Arctic regions — Glacial epochs and Seebohm
in search of evidence — Benjamin Kidd and the simple
sun theory — Aspects of migration in England — We are
still left wondering — Recent futile methods of attacking
the problem — A new method suggested . . '157


Aspects of migration in southern South America — ^Migrants
from the northern hemisphere — The abundance of
bird life — Golden plover — Eskimo curlew — Buff-
breasted sandpiper — Glossy ibis — Cow-bird — Military
starling — Upland plover — The beautiful has vanished
and returns not . . . . . • • 171


The migrants' cry — Unrest previous to departure — Upland
plover, swallows and others — Demonstrative and un-
demonstrative species — Parental sohcitude — Swifts and
house-martins — Strange case of a captive cuckoo —
Night migration of diurnal species — Woodland migrants
on the pampas — Reluctant migrants — Thistledown as



an illustration — ^Migration of a troupial — Fear in birds
and false associations — Direction of migration — Un-
rest — Flying north — Migration of rock-swallow — Pull
of the north — Perturbations in migration — Upland
plover ......... 183


No hard and fast line between migrants and non-migrants
— Swallows and partridges — Contrasted behaviour in
two mocking-birds — Spur-wing lapwing — An instinct in
a state of flux — Migration in other creatures — Fishes
and insects — Kirby and Spence speculate — Spiders —
Mammals — Migration a danger — Sand-grouse and
the "Tartar invasions of Europe" — A "sense of
polarity " the origin of migration — A trace of this
sense in man ....... 205


The pampas Indian's battle-cry — Terrifying effects of sound
generally — Other aspects of sound — Effect of a power-
ful sneeze — The human voice at its loudest — Account
of a man with a big voice — Sound in the ears of the
drowning — Sound of big bells heard in a belfry — A
great thunder-clap — The phenomenon and the dream
— The wilderness of the mind . . . .227


The rhea's voice — Sounds that carry farthest — Man and
animals compared as to voice power — The swift's
flight — Melody — Music as art and instinctive — Mam-
malian music — Capybara — Quis — Tuco-tuco — Singing
mouse and small rodents — Monkeys — Braying of the
ass as music — A purge for the mind — The ass in fable
and folk-story ....... 239




Music of the lower animals — Of savage man and Hindoos
— Music of the stone age — The cannibal Pan — Singing
of savages — Origin of song — Diderot and Herbert
Spencer — The cries of passion — Music founded on
passion and play — Music older than speech — Origin of
rhythm — Impassioned speech in savage and civilised
man — Song in speech and speech in song — Darwin's
theory — Herbert Spencer's theory of the function of
music — What is Poetry ? — Spiritual senses — ^Music and
Poetry sister arts — Furthest apart at their greatest,
and nearest at their lowest . . . . -255


Instrumental music, one with vocal music in its origin —
Instrumental music in the lower animals — Insects —
Cicada — Locusts — CEcanthus; silence, moonlight and
tears made audible — Locusta viridissima and music in
insects and man — A robber fly's musical performance
— Of insect wing-music generally — Hover-fly — Birds as
instrumentalists — Storks and woodpeckers — Wings as
instruments of music — Wing slappings and clappings
— Bleating of snipe — Origin of wing-music . .281


Instrumental music and its evolution — A book that is
wanted — Fashion, caprice and selection — The piano
made perfect — The quality most desired in musical
sound — A bird and insect illustration — Naturalness of
instrumental music — A bird-voice and the power of
expression — Human expression of instrumental music
— The harp — Obsolete and reigning instruments — A
first experience of great music — Cause of different
effects produced by bird and human music — Conclusion 299




Difficulty of ending a story without end — Art as universal
instinct — Plastic art tracked by a footprint — Primitive
expression of the colour-sense — And of the actor's and
story-teller's arts — Santayana criticised — Insignificance
of art in relation to life — An image of a cloudy sky —
The cry that calls attention to something seen — An
everlasting aspiration — The artist's creed — A way to
something better — The author's credentials — "Un-
emotional music " and the ordinary man — A picture
seen in boyhood — Sense of beauty a universal posses-
sion — Definition of " field naturalist " — The perpetual
flux of artistic theory, a sign of progress beyond art —
An unanswered question . . . . . • 319



Richmond Park — Red deer — An adventure with a hind eating
acorns — Watching a Ustening hind — Senses in dog and deer
compared — Senses and instinct in wild and domestic animals
— Man and beast compared — The hind divides her listening
sense in two parts — The trumpet ear and the ear trumpet —
Strange case of a deaf lady Hstening through an ear trumpet
to a sermon.

OCCASIONALLY when in London I visit Rich-
mond Park to refresh myself with its woods
and waters abounding in wild life, and its wide
stretches of grass and bracken. It is the bird life that
attracts me most, for it is a varied one although so
near to the metropolis, and there are here at least two
of England's few remaining great birds — the great
crested grebe and the heron. The mammals are of
less account, but I have met here with at least two
adventures with the red deer which are worth
recording. Stags are aloof and dignified, if not hostile
in their manner, which prevents one from becoming
intimate with them. When walking alone late on a
misty October or November evening I listen to their
roaring and restrain my curiosity. A strange and
formidable sound ! Is it a love-chant or a battle-cry ?


I give it up, and thinking of something easier to
understand quietly pursue my way to the exit.

One afternoon in late summer I was walking with
three ladies among the scattered oak trees near the
Pen Ponds when we saw a hind, a big beautiful beast,
rearing up in her efforts to reach the fully ripe acorns,
and on my plucking a few and holding them out to her,
she came readily to take them from my hand. She
invariably took the acorn with a sudden violent jerk;
not that she was alarmed or suspicious, but simply
because it was the only way known to a hind to take
an acorn from the branch to which it is attached with
a very tough stem. To her mind the acorn had to
be wrenched from me. My friends also gave her
acorns, and she greedily devoured them all and still
asked for more.

And while we were amusing ourselves in this way,
two ladies accompanied by a little girl of about eight
or nine came up and looked on with delight at our
doings. Presently the little girl cried out, " Oh,
mother, may I give it an acorn ? " And the mother
said " No." But I said, " Oh, yes, come along and
take this one and hold it out to the deer." She took
it from me gladly and held It out as directed. Then
a sudden change came over the temper of the animal;
instead of taking it readily she drew back, looking
startled and angry; then slowly, as if suspiciously,
approached the child and took the acorn, and almost
at the same instant sprang clear over the child's
head, and on coming down on the other side, struck
violently out with her hind feet. One hoof grazed


her cheek and dealt her a sharp blow on the shoulder.
Then it trotted away, leaving the child screaming
and sobbing with pain and fright.

For a few minutes I was amazed at this action of
the hind, then I noticed for the first time that the
child was wearing a bright red jacket. unseeing
fool that I am, exclaimed I to myself, not to have
noticed that red jacket in time! I think my hurt
was as great as that of the child, who recovered
presently and was duly (and quite unnecessarily)
warned by her mother to feed no more deer.

I have seen the effect of scarlet on various other
animals, but never before on deer. It affects animals
as a warning or a challenge, according to their dis-
position, and if they are of a fiery or savage temper,
it is apt to put them in a rage.

In the other adventure with a hind there was no
sensational or surprising element, but it interested
me even more than the first.

Seeing a hind lying under an oak tree, chewing her
cud, I drew quietly towards her and sat down at the
roots of another tree about twenty yards from her.
She was not disturbed at my approach, and as soon
as I had settled quietly down the suspended vigorous
cud-chewing was resumed, and her ears, which had
risen up and then were thrown backwards, were
directed forwards towards a wood about two hundred
yards away. I was directly behind her, so that with
her head in a horizontal position and the large ears
above the eyes, she could not see me at all. She was


not concerned about me — she was wholly occupied
with the wood and the sounds that came to her
from it, which my less acute hearing failed to catch,
although the wind blew from the wood to us.

Undoubtedly the sounds she was listening to were
important or interesting to her. On putting my
binocular on her so as to bring her within a yard of
my vision, I could see that there was a constant
succession of small movements which told their tale
— a sudden suspension of the cud-chewing, a stiffen-
ing of the forward-pointing ears, or a slight change
in their direction; little tremors that passed over
the whole body, alternately lifting and depressing
the hairs of the back — which all went to show that
she was experiencing a continual succession of little
thrills. And the sounds that caused them were no
doubt just those which we may hear any summer day
in any thick wood with an undergrowth — the snap-
ping of a twig, the rustle of leaves, the pink-pink
of a startled chaffinch, the chuckle of a blackbird,
or sharp little quivering alarm -notes of robin or
wren, and twenty besides.

It was evident that the deer could not see anything
except just what I saw — the close wood a couple of
hundred yards away from us on the other side of a
grassy expanse; nor did she require to see anything;
she was living in and knew the exact meaning of
each and every sound. She was like the dog as we
are accustomed to see it in repose, sitting or lying
down, with chin on paws, seemingly dozing, but awake
in a world of its own, as we may note by the perpetual


twitching of the nose. He is receiving a constant
succession of messages, and albeit some are cryptic,
they mostly tell him something he understands and
takes a keen interest in. And they all come to him
by one avenue — that of smell; for when we look
closely at him we see that his eyes, often half-closed
and blinking, have that appearance of blindness or
of not seeing consciously which is familiar to us in
a man whose sight is turned inwards, who is thinking
and is so absorbed in his thoughts that the visible
world becomes invisible to him. The dimmed eye
in the reposing dog and the absent-minded philo-
sopher is in both cases due to the fact that vision is
not wanted for the time, and has been put aside.
The resting, but wakeful, deer and dog differ only
in this, that the first is living in a bath of vibrations,
the other of emanations.

To return to our listening hind. The sounds that
held her attention were inaudible to me, but I dare
say that a primitive man or pure savage who had
existed all his life in a state of nature in a woodland
district would have been able to hear them, although
not so well as the hind on account of the difference
in the structure of the outer ear in the two species.
But what significance could these same little wood-
land sounds have in the life of this creature in its
present guarded, semi-domestic condition — the con-
dition in which the herd has existed for generations ?
It is nothing but a survival — the perpetual alertness
and acute senses of the wild animal, which are no
longer necessary, but are still active and shining,


not dimmed or rusted or obsolete as in our domestic
cattle, which have been guarded by man since Neo-
lithic times. But as I have seen on the Argentine
pampas, these qualities and instincts, dormant for
thousands of years, revive and recover their old power
when cattle are allowed to run wild and have to
protect themselves from their enemies.

A life-long intimacy with animals has got me out
of the common notion that they are automata with
a slight infusion of intelligence in their composition.
The mind in beast and bird, as in man, is the main
thing. Man has progressed mentally so far that,
looking back at the other creatures, they appear
practically mindless to him. Their actions, for ex-
ample, are instinctive, whereas in the case of man
reason has taken the place of instinct. How funny
it is to find these hard and fast lines still set down
by some modern biologists! Alfred Russel Wallace
maintained that there were no instincts in man. The
simple truth of the matter is that our instincts have
been more modified and obscured, as instincts, in us
than in the lower animals. But though the instincts
of animals are less modified and obscured, they are
also interwoven and shot through or saturated with
intelligence. In what do the ordinary occupations
of hunting, fishing, shelter-building, rearing and
protecting the young, and so on, differ in the
animal and the savage or primitive man? There
is mind-stuff, or, let us say, intelligence in
both; neither beast nor man could exist without
that element, although no doubt the man in a


state of nature has somewhat more of it than his
four-footed neighbours.

My only reason for touching on this question is
that I want to say that I recognise a mind-Hfe in
animals similar to, though much lower in degree
than, that of man. And the subject was suggested
by the behaviour of the hind during the whole time,
which was not far short of an hour, while I sat there
intently watching her with interest and with surprise
as well. And the surprise was at the intense interest
she, on her part, was taking in the little sounds
coming to her from the wood. These sounds, as we
have seen, were of no import in the creature's life.
It can even be said or supposed that she knew they
were without significance, since there was no fear
of any danger from that direction; and so wholly
free from fear was she that even my presence at the
tree's root behind her was disregarded. Surely thus
in her listening she was experiencing a sort of mind-
life, amusing herself, we might say, in capturing and
identifying the series of slight sounds floating to her.
Or one might compare the animal in that state in
which I watched her, resting after feeding, chewing
the cud, and at the same time agreeably occupied
in listening to the little woodland sounds, to the man
who, after dining well, smokes his cigar in his easy-
chair and amuses his mind at the same time with a
book — a fascinating story, let us say, of old unhappy
things and battles long ago.

The last paragraph is pure speculation, and if any


sober-minded naturalist (and they are practically all
that) has already said in reading it, " You are going
too far," I agree with him. The poet Donne has said
that there are times when we, or some of us, think

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Online LibraryW. H. (William Henry) HudsonA hind in Richmond park → online text (page 1 of 21)