Henry Craik, ed. English Prose. 1916. Vol. III. Seventeenth Century
An Argument of Providence
By John Ray (16271705)
From The Wisdom of God in the Creation
ANOTHER argument of providence and counsel relating to animals is the various kinds of voices the same animal uses on divers occasions, and to different purposes. Hen birds, for example, have a peculiar sort of voice when they would call the male; which is so eminent in quails, that it is taken notice of by men, who by counterfeiting this voice with a quail-pipe, easily draw the cocks into their snares. The common hen, all the while she is broody, sits, and leads her chickens, uses a voice which we call clocking; another she employs when she calls her chickens to partake of any food she hath found for them, upon hearing whereof they speedily run to her; another when upon sight of a bird of prey, or apprehension of any danger, she would save them, bidding them as it were to shift for themselves, whereupon they speedily run away, and seek shelter among bushes, or in the thick grass, or elsewhere dispersing themselves far and wide. These actions do indeed necessarily infer knowledge and intention of, and direction to the ends and uses to which they serve, not in the birds themselves, but in a superior agent, who hath put an instinct in them of using such a voice upon such an occasion; and in the young, of doing that upon hearing of it, which by Providence was intended. Other voices she hath when angry, when she hath laid an egg, when in pain or in great fear, all significant; which may more easily be accounted for, as being effects of the several passions of anger, grief, fear, joy; which yet are all argumentative of Providence intending their several significations and uses.