It Was Not Until Twelve Or Fourteen Years Later That I
Discovered That It Was Even As I Had Conjectured.
At a distance of
about forty miles from my home, or rather from the home of my boyhood
I no longer lived, I found a snake that was new to me, the
_Philodryas scotti_ of naturalists, a not uncommon Argentine snake,
and recognized it as the same species as the one found coiled up on my
little sister's rug and presumably as my mysterious black serpent.
Some of the specimens which I measured exceeded six feet in length.
A BOY'S ANIMISM
The animistic faculty and its survival in us - A boy's animism and its
persistence - Impossibility of seeing our past exactly as it was - Serge
Aksakoff's history of his childhood - The child's delight in nature
purely physical - First intimations of animism in the child - How it
affected me - Feeling with regard to flowers - A flower and my mother -
History of a flower - Animism with regard to trees - Locust-trees by
moonlight - Animism and nature-worship - Animistic emotion not
uncommon - Cowper and the Yardley oak - The religionist's fear of
nature - Pantheistic Christianity - Survival of nature-worship in
England - The feeling for nature - Wordsworth's pantheism and animistic
emotion in poetry.
These serpent memories, particularly the enduring image of that black
serpent which when recalled restores most vividly the emotion
experienced at the time, serve to remind me of a subject not yet
mentioned in my narrative: this is animism, or that sense of something
in nature which to the enlightened or civilized man is not there, and
in the civilized man's child, if it be admitted that he has it at all,
is but a faint survival of a phase of the primitive mind.
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