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Same Man.       §8. An Animal is a living organized Body; and consequently, the
same Animal, as we have observed, is the same continued Life
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communicated to different Particles of Matter, as they happen suc-
cessively to be united to that organiz’d living Body. And whatever
is talked of other definitions, ingenuous observation puts it past
doubt, that the Idea in our Minds, of which the Sound Man in our
Mouths is the Sign, is nothing else but of an Animal of such a
certain Form: Since I think I may be confident, that whoever should
see a Creature of his own Shape and Make, though it had no more
reason all its Life, than a Cat or a Parrot, would call him still a Man;
or whoever should hear a Cat or a Parrot discourse, reason, and
philosophize, would call or think it nothing but a Cat or a Parrot;
and say, the one was a dull irrational Man, and the other a very
intelligent rational Parrot. A Relation we have in an Author of
great note is sufficient to countenance the supposition of a rational
Parrot. His Words Memoires of what past in Christendom from 1672. to 1679. p. 57/392. are,
“I had a mind to know from Prince Maurice’s own Mouth, the
account of a common, but much credited Story, that I had heard so
often from many others, of an old Parrot he had in Brasil, during his
Government there, that spoke, and asked, and answered common
Questions like a reasonable Creature; so that those of his Train
there, generally concluded it to be Witchery or Possession; and one
of his Chaplains, who lived long afterwards in Holland, would never
from that time endure a Parrot, but said, they all had a Devil in
them. I had heard many particulars of this Story, and assevered by
People hard to be discredited, which made me ask Prince Maurice
what there was of it. He said, with his usual plainess, and dryness in
talk, there was something true, but a great deal false, of what had
been reported. I desired to know of him, what there was of the
first; he told me short and coldly, that he had heard of such an
old Parrot when he came to Brasil, and though he believed nothing
of it, and ’twas a good way off, yet he had so much Curiosity as to
send for it, that ’twas a very great and a very old one; and when it
came first into the Room where the Prince was, with a great many
Dutch-men about him, it said presently, What a company of white Men
are here? They asked it what he thought that Man was, pointing at
the Prince? It answered, Some General or other; when they brought it
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close to him, he asked it, D’ou venes vous? it answered, De Marinnan. The Prince, A qui estes vous? The Parrot, A un Portugais. Prince, Que
fais tu la? Parrot, Je garde les poulles. The Prince laughed and said,
Vous gardez les poulles? The Parrot answered, Ouy, moy et je scay bien
faire; and made the Chuck four or five times that People use to
make to Chickens when they call them. Whence come ye? It answered, From Marinnan. The Prince, To whom do you belong?
Parrot, To a Portugeze. Prince, What do you there? Parrot, I look after the Chickens.
Prince laughed and said, You look after the Chickens? The Parrot answered, Yes
I, and I know well enough how to do it.
I set down the Words of
this worthy Dialogue in French, just as Prince Maurice said them to
me. I asked him in what Language the Parrot spoke, and he said, in
Brasilian; I asked whether he understood Brasilian; he said No, but
he had taken care to have two Interpreters by him, the one a
Dutch-man, that spoke Brasilian, and the other a Brasilian, that spoke
Dutch; that he asked them separately and privately, and both of
them agreed in telling him just the same thing that the Parrot said.
I could not but tell this odd Story, because it is so much out of the
way, and from the first hand, and what may pass for a good one; for
I dare say this Prince, at least, believed himself in all he told me,
having ever passed for a very honest and pious Man; I leave it to
Naturalists to reason, and to other Men to believe as they please
upon it; however, it is not, perhaps, amiss to relieve or enliven
a busie Scene sometimes with such digressions, whether to the purpose or no.”
      I have taken care that the Reader should have the Story at large
in the Authors own Words, because he seems to me not to have
thought it incredible; for it cannot be imagined that so able a Man
as he, who had sufficiency enough to warrant all the Testimonies he
gives of himself, should take so much pains, in a place where it had
nothing to do, to pin so close, not only on a Man whom he mentions
as his Friend, but on a Prince in whom he acknowledges very great
Honesty and Piety, a Story which if he himself thought incredible,
he could not but also think ridiculous. The Prince, ’tis plain, who
vouches this Story, and our Author who relates it from him, both of
them call this Talker a Parrot; and I ask any one else who thinks
such a Story fit to be told, whether if this Parrot, and all of its kind,
had always talked as we have a Princes word for it, this one did,
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whether, I say, they would not have passed for a race of rational
Animals, but yet whether for all that, they would have been
allowed to be Men and not Parrots? For I presume ’tis not the Idea of
a thinking or rational Being alone, that makes the Idea of a Man in
most Peoples Sense; but of a Body so and so shaped joined to it; and
if that be the Idea of a Man, the same successive Body not shifted all
at once, must as well as the same immaterial Spirit go to the making
of the same Man.
Locke Hum II, 27, §8, pp. 332-333-334-335