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That Moles are blind. THAT moles are blind and have no eyes, though a common opinion, is received with much variety'; some affirming only they have no sight, as Oppianus, the proverb talpa cæcior
, and the word oralaxia, or talpitas, which in Hesychius is made the same with cæcitas ; some that they have eyes,
but no sight, as the text of Aristotle seems to apply ; some neither eyes nor sight, as Albertus, Pliny, and the vulgar opinion; some both eyes and sight, as Scaliger, Aldrovandus, and some others. Of which opinions, the last, with some restriction, is most consonant unto truth; for that they have eyes in their head, is manifested unto any that wants them not in his own ; and are discoverable, not only in old ones, but as we have observed in young and naked conceptions, taken out of the belly of the dam. And he that exactly enquires into the cavity of their cranies, may perhaps discover
5 That moles are blind, &c.] The eyes of the mole are so extremely minute, and so perfectly hid in its hair, that it is not wonderful if careless and casual observers have pronounced it blind.—Still less is it wonderful, that so absurd a personage as Alexander Ross, should have declared them to be but “forms of eyes,” given by nature “ rather for ornament than use ; as wings are given to the ostrich, which never flies, and a long tail to the rat, which serves for no other use but to be catched sometimes by it !”-Arc. 151.
“It appears,” however, observe the editors of Cuvier's Animal Kingdom, “that this animal was not known to the ancients, who have been very wrongfully accused of having fallen into the gross error of supposing that the mole had no eyes. Aristotle, it is true, in two places of his History of Animals, repeats this assertion. But the researches of modern times have ascertained that this illustrious naturalist was perfectly right in refusing the organs of vision to the mole of his native country, to the σκαλαξ or άσκαλαξ, of ancient Greece. There does, in fact, exist, in that country, a little subterraneous animal totally deprived of sight: naturalists have only recently become acquainted with it, and have designated it under the appellation of the rat-mole. They have been obliged to confess, after many ages of injustice towards the ancients, that these last had truth altogether on their side, with regard to the mole known in Greece, and had correctly observed, that this animal was not only completely blind, but did not possess even the smallest rudiment of an external eye." - Vol. ii. p. 197.
some propagation of nerves communicated unto these parts. But that the humours, together with their coats, are also distinct (though Galen seem to affirm it), transcendeth our discovery; for separating these little orbs, and including them in magnifying glasses, we discerned no more than Aristotle mentions, rūv optakuwv uélaiva, that is, a black humour, nor any more if they be broken. That therefore they have eyes, we must of necessity affirm ; but that they be comparatively incomplete, we need not to deny: so Galen affirms the parts of generation in women are imperfect, in respect of those of men, as the eyes of moles in regard of other animals : so Aristotle terms them anpovuévous, which Gaza translates oblæsos, and Scaliger by a word of imperfection, inchoatos.
Now as that they have eyes is manifest unto sense ; so that they have sight, not incongruous unto reason; if we call not in question the providence of this provision, that is, to assign the organs, and yet deny the office; to grant them eyes, and withhold all manner of vision. For as the inference is fair, affirmatively deduced from the action to the organ, that they have eyes because they see; so is it also from the organ to the action, that they have eyes, therefore some sight designed, if we take the intention of nature in every species, and except the casual impediment, or morbosities in individuals. But as their eyes are more imperfect than others, so do we conceive of their sight or act of vision, for they will run against things, and huddling forwards fall from high places. So that they are not blind, nor yet distinctly see; there is in them no cecity, yet more than a cecutiency; they have sight enough to discern the light, though not perhaps to distinguish of objects or colours ; so are they not exactly blind, for light is one object of vision. And this (as Scaliger observeth) might be as full a sight as nature first intended, for living in darkness under the earth, they had no further need of eyes than to avoid the light; and to be sensible whenever they lost that darkness of earth, which was their natural confinement. And therefore, however translators do render word of Aristotle or Galen, that is imperfectos, oblæsos, or inchoatos, it is not much considerable; for their eyes are sufficiently begun to finish this action, and competently perfect for this imperfect vision.
And lastly, although they had neither eyes nor sight, yet could they not be termed blind. For blindness being a private term unto sight, this appellation is not admittible in propriety of speech, and will overthrow the doctrine of privations; which presuppose positive forms or habits, and are not indefinite negations, denying in all subjects, but such alone wherein the positive habits are in their proper nature, and placed without repugnancy. So do we improperly say a mole is blind, if we deny it the organs or a capacity of vision from its created nature; so when the text of John had said, that person was blind from his nativity, whose cecity our Saviour cured, it was not warrantable in Nonnus to say he had no eyes at all, as in the judgment of Heinsius, he describeth in his paraphrase; and as some ancient fathers affirm, that by this miracle they were created in him. And so though the sense may be accepted, that proverb must be candidly interpreted, which maketh fishes mute; and calls them silent which have no voice in nature.
Now this conceit is erected upon a misapprehension or mistake in the symptoms of vision; men confounding abolishment, diminution, and depravement, and naming that an abolition of sight, which indeed is but an abatement. For if vision be abolished, it is called cæcitas, or blindness; if depraved, and receive its objects erroneously, hallucination; if diminished, hebetudo visus, caligatio, or dimness. Now instead of a diminution or imperfect vision in the mole, we affirm an abolition or total privation; instead of a caligation or dimness, we conclude a cecity or blindness. Which hath been frequently inferred concerning other animals. So some affirm the water-rat is blind, so Sammonicus and Nicander do call the mus araneus,
the shrew or ranney, blind. And because darkness was before light, the Egyptians worshipped the same. So are cæciliæ or slow-worms accounted blind:8 and the like we affirm proverbially of the
private term unto sight.] “A term expressing privation of sight.”
ranney. This is the very word, araneus ; castinge away the first a, and turning the Latine termination of eus into our English form. - Wr.
8 So some affirm, &c.] Erroneously.-Neither the water-rat, the shrew, nor the slow-worm is blind. The eyes of the former are very small, and (especially in the shrew) much concealed by fur. Bewick
beetle ; although their eyes be evident, and they will fly against lights, like many other insects; and though also Aristotle determines, that the eyes are apparent in all flying insects, though other senses be obscure, and not perceptible at all.
And if from a diminution we may infer a total privation, or affirm that other animals are blind which do not acutely see, or comparatively unto others, we shall condemn unto blindness many not so esteemed; for such as have corneous or horny eyes, as lobsters and crustaceous animals, are generally dim-sighted; all insects that have antenne, or long horns to feel out their way, as butterflies and locusts; or their fore-legs so disposed, that they much advance before their heads, as may be observed in spiders; and if the eagle were judge, we might be blind ourselves. The expression therefore of Scripture in the story of Jacob, is surely without circumspection : “ And it came to pass, when Jacob was old and his eyes were dim,", quando caligarunt oculi, saith Jerome and Tremellius, which are expressions of diminution, and not of absolute privation.
Other concerns there are of moles, which, though not commonly opinioned, are not commonly enough considered : as the peculiar formation of their feet, the slender ossa jugalia, and dog-teeth, and how hard it is to keep them alive out of the earth. As also the ferity and voracity of these animals; for though they be contented with roots, and stringy parts of plants, or worms under ground, yet when they are above it, they will sometimes tear and eat one another, and in a large glass wherein a mole, a toad, and a viper were inclosed, we have known the mole to dispatch them, and to devour a good part of them both.9
says, that the water-shrew (Sorex fodiens) is called in Lincolnshire the
The slow-worm is more commonly called the blind-worm, Anguis fragilis.
9 Other concerns, &c.] This paragraph first added in 6th edition.
That Lampreys have many eyes. WHETHER lampreys have nine eyes, as is received, we durst refer it unto Polyphemus, who had but one to judge it. An error concerning eyes, occasioned by the error of eyes ; deduced from the appearance of divers cavities or holes on either side, which some call eyes that carelessly behold them; and is not only refutable by experience, but also repugnant unto reason. For, beside the monstrosity they fasten unto nature, in contriving many eyes, who hath made but two unto any animal, that is, one of each side, according to the division of the brain; it were a superfluous inartificial act to place and settle so many in one plane; for the two extremes would sufficiently perform the office of sight without the help of the intermediate eyes, and behold as much as all seven joined together. For the visible base of the object would be defined by these two; and the middle eyes, although they behold the same thing, yet could they not behold so much thereof as these; so were it no advantage unto man to have a third eye between those two he hath already; and the fiction of Argus seems more reasonable than this; for though he had many eyes, yet were they placed in circumference and positions of advantage, and so are they placed in several lines in spiders.
Again, these cavities which men call eyes are seated out of the head, and where the gills of other fish are placed; containing no organs of sight, nor having any communication with the brain. Now all sense proceeding from the brain, and that being placed (as Galen observeth) in the upper part of the body, for the fitter situation of the eyes, and conveniency required unto sight; it is not reasonable to imagine that they are anywhere else, or deserve that name which are seated in other parts. And therefore, we relinquish as fabulous what is delivered of sternophthalmi, or men with
1 holes on either side.] These are the bronchial apertures, of which the lamprey has seven on each side.—It has two eyes; but it is remarkable that there are no holes in the skin, but only transparent round spots, over the eyes.