THE BEAUTIES OF NATURE
BEAUTIES OF NATURE
WONDERS OF THE WORLD
WE LIVE IN
THE RIGHT HON.
SIR JOHN LUBBOCK, BART., M.P.
F.R.S., D.C.L., LL.D.
MACMILLAN AND CO.
All rights reserved
BY MACMILLAN AND CO.
TYPOGRAPHY BY J. S. CUSHING & CO., BOSTON, U.S.A.
PRESSWORK BY BERWICK & SMITH, BOSTON, U.S.A.
CHAPTER I PAGE
Beauty and Happiness 3 The Love of Nature 5 Enjoyment of Scenery 14 Scenery of England 19 Foreign Scenery 21 The Aurora 33 The Seasons 34
ON ANIMAL LIFE 39
Love of Animals 41 Growth and Metamorphoses 43 Rudimentary Organs 45 Modifications 48 Colour 50 Communities of Animals 57 Ants 58
ON ANIMAL LIFE—continued 71
Freedom of Animals 73 Sleep 78 Senses 84 Sense of Direction 93 Number of Species 96 Importance of the Smaller Animals 97 Size of Animals 100 Complexity of Animal Structure 101 Length of Life 102 On Individuality 104 Animal Immortality 112
ON PLANT LIFE 115
Structure of Flowers 128 Insects and Flowers 134 Past History of Flowers 136 Fruits and Seeds 137 Leaves 138 Aquatic Plants 144 On Hairs 148 Influence of Soil 151 On Seedlings 152 Sleep of Plants 152 Behaviour of Leaves in Rain 155 Mimicry 156 Ants and Plants 156 Insectivorous Plants 158 Movements of Plants 159 Imperfection of our Knowledge 163
WOODS AND FIELDS 165
Fairy Land 172 Tropical Forests 179 Structure of Trees 185 Ages of Trees 188 Meadows 192 Downs 194
Alpine Flowers 205 Mountain Scenery 206 The Afterglow 213 The Origin of Mountains 214 Glaciers 227 Swiss Mountains 232 Volcanoes 236 Origin of Volcanoes 243
WATER 249 Rivers and Witchcraft 251 Water Plants 252 Water Animals 253 Origin of Rivers 255 The Course of Rivers 256 Deltas 272
RIVERS AND LAKES 277
On the Directions of Rivers 279 The Conflicts and Adventures of Rivers 301 On Lakes 312 On the Configuration of Valleys 323
THE SEA 335
The Sea Coast 337 Sea Life 344 The Ocean Depths 351 Coral Islands 358 The Southern Skies 365 The Poles 367
THE STARRY HEAVENS 373
The Moon 377 The Sun 382 The Planets 387 Mercury 388 Venus 390 The Earth 391 Mars 392 The Minor Planets 393 Jupiter 394 Saturn 395 Uranus 396 Neptune 397 Origin of the Planetary System 398 Comets 401 Shooting Stars 406 The Stars 410 Nebulae 425
1. Larva of Choerocampa porcellus 53
2. Bougainvillea fruticosa; natural size. (After Allman) 107
3. Do. do. magnified 108
4. Do. do. Medusa-form 109
5. Medusa aurita, and progressive stages of development. (After Steenstrup) 110
6. White Dead-nettle 124
7. Do. 125
8. Do. 125
9. Salvia 127
10. Do. 127
11. Do. 127
12. Primrose 131
13. Do. 131
14. Arum 135
15. Twig of Beech 140
16. Arrangement of leaves in Acer platanoides 142
17. Diagram to illustrate the formation of Mountain Chains 216
18. Section across the Jura from Brenets to Neuchatel. (After Jaccard) 219
19. Section from the Spitzen across the Brunnialp, and the Maderanerthal. (After Heim) 221
20. Glacier of the Bluemlis Alp. (After Reclus) 228
21. Cotopaxi. (After Judd) 237
22. Lava Stream. (After Judd) 239
23. Stromboli, viewed from the north-west, April 1874. (After Judd) 242
24. Upper Valley of St. Gotthard 257
25. Section of a river valley. The dotted line shows a slope or talus of debris 260
26. Valley of the Rhone, with the waterfall of Sallenches, showing a talus of debris 261
27. Section across a valley. A, present river valley; B, old river terrace 262
28. Diagram of an Alpine valley, showing a river cone. Front view 263
29. Diagram of an Alpine valley, showing a river cone. Lateral view 265
30. Map of the Valais near Sion 266
31. View in the Rhone Valley, showing a lateral cone 267
32. Do. showing the slope of a river cone 268
33. Shore of the Lake of Geneva, near Vevey 269
34. View in the district of the Broads, Norfolk 271
35. Delta of the Po 273
36. Do. Mississippi 274
37. Map of the Lake District 281
38. Section of the Weald of Kent, a, a, Upper Cretaceous strata, chiefly Chalk, forming the North and South Downs; b, b, Escarpment of Lower Greensand, with a valley between it and the Chalk; c, c, Weald Clay, forming plains; d, Hills formed of Hastings Sand and Clay. The Chalk, etc., once spread across the country, as shown in the dotted lines 283
39. Map of the Weald of Kent 284
40. Sketch Map of the Swiss Rivers 291
41. Diagram in illustration of mountain structure 296
42. Sketch Map of the Aar and its tributaries 299
43. River system round Chur, as it used to be 308
44. River system round Chur, as it is 309
45. River system of the Maloya 311
46. Final slope of a river 317
47. Do. do. with a lake 318
48. Diagrammatic section of a valley (exaggerated). R R, rocky basis of a valley; A A, sedimentary strata; B, ordinary level of river; C, flood level 329
49. Whitsunday Island. (After Darwin) 359
50. A group of Lunar volcanoes; Maurolycus, Barocius, etc. (After Judd) 380
51. Orbits of the inner Planets. (After Ball) 388
52. Relative distances of the Planets from the Sun. (After Ball) 389
53. Saturn, with the surrounding series of rings. (After Lockyer) 395
54. The Parallactic Ellipse. (After Ball) 413
55. Displacement of the hydrogen line in the spectrum of Rigel. (After Clarke) 416
BURNHAM BEECHES Frontispiece
WINDSOR CASTLE. (From a drawing by J. Finnemore) To face page 13
AQUATIC VEGETATION, RIO. (Published by Spooner and Co.) 145
TROPICAL FOREST, WEST INDIES. (After Kingsley) 179
SUMMIT OF MONT BLANC 203
THE MER DE GLACE, MONT BLANC 229
RYDAL WATER. (From a photograph by Frith and Co., published by Spooner and Co.) 247
VIEW IN THE VALAIS BELOW ST. MAURICE 264
VIEW UP THE VALAIS FROM THE LAKE OF GENEVA 268
THE LAND'S END. (From a photograph by Frith and Co., published by Spooner and Co.) 334
VIEW OF THE MOON NEAR THE THIRD QUARTER. (From a photograph by Prof. Draper) 371
If any one gave you a few acres, you would say that you had received a benefit; can you deny that the boundless extent of the earth is a benefit? If any one gave you money, you would call that a benefit. God has buried countless masses of gold and silver in the earth. If a house were given you, bright with marble, its roof beautifully painted with colours and gilding, you would call it no small benefit. God has built for you a mansion that fears no fire or ruin ... covered with a roof which glitters in one fashion by day, and in another by night.... Whence comes the breath you draw; the light by which you perform the actions of your life? the blood by which your life is maintained? the meat by which your hunger is appeased?... The true God has planted, not a few oxen, but all the herds on their pastures throughout the world, and furnished food to all the flocks; he has ordained the alternation of summer and winter ... has invented so many arts and varieties of voice, so many notes to make music.... We have implanted in us the seed of all ages, of all arts; and God our Master brings forth our intellects from obscurity.—SENECA.
The world we live in is a fairyland of exquisite beauty, our very existence is a miracle in itself, and yet few of us enjoy as we might, and none as yet appreciate fully, the beauties and wonders which surround us. The greatest traveller cannot hope even in a long life to visit more than a very small part of our earth, and even of that which is under our very eyes how little we see!
What we do see depends mainly on what we look for. When we turn our eyes to the sky, it is in most cases merely to see whether it is likely to rain. In the same field the farmer will notice the crop, geologists the fossils, botanists the flowers, artists the colouring, sportsmen the cover for game. Though we may all look at the same things, it does not at all follow that we should see them.
It is good, as Keble says, "to have our thoughts lift up to that world where all is beautiful and glorious,"—but it is well to realise also how much of this world is beautiful. It has, I know, been maintained, as for instance by Victor Hugo, that the general effect of beauty is to sadden. "Comme la vie de l'homme, meme la plus prospere, est toujours au fond plus triste que gaie, le ciel sombre nous est harmonieux. Le ciel eclatant et joyeux nous est ironique. La Nature triste nous ressemble et nous console; la Nature rayonnante, magnifique, superbe ... a quelque chose d'accablant."
This seems to me, I confess, a morbid view. There are many no doubt on whom the effect of natural beauty is to intensify feeling, to deepen melancholy, as well as to raise the spirits. As Mrs. W. R. Greg in her memoir of her husband tells us: "His passionate love for nature, so amply fed by the beauty of the scenes around him, intensified the emotions, as all keen perception of beauty does, but it did not add to their joyousness. We speak of the pleasure which nature and art and music give us; what we really mean is that our whole being is quickened by the uplifting of the veil. Something passes into us which makes our sorrows more sorrowful, our joys more joyful,—our whole life more vivid. So it was with him. The long solitary wanderings over the hills, and the beautiful moonlight nights on the lake served to make the shadows seem darker that were brooding over his home."
But surely to most of us Nature when sombre, or even gloomy, is soothing and consoling; when bright and beautiful, not only raises the spirits, but inspires and elevates our whole being—
Nature never did betray The heart that loved her; 'tis her privilege, Through all the years of this our life, to lead From joy to joy: for she can so inform The mind that is within us, so impress With quietness and beauty, and so feed With lofty thoughts, that neither evil tongues, Rash judgments, nor the sneers of selfish men, Nor greetings where no kindness is, nor all The dreary intercourse of daily life, Shall e'er prevail against us, or disturb Our cheerful faith, that all which we behold Is full of blessings.
Kingsley speaks with enthusiasm of the heaths and moors round his home, "where I have so long enjoyed the wonders of nature; never, I can honestly say, alone; because when man was not with me, I had companions in every bee, and flower and pebble; and never idle, because I could not pass a swamp, or a tuft of heather, without finding in it a fairy tale of which I could but decipher here and there a line or two, and yet found them more interesting than all the books, save one, which were ever written upon earth."
Those who love Nature can never be dull. They may have other temptations; but at least they will run no risk of being beguiled, by ennui, idleness, or want of occupation, "to buy the merry madness of an hour with the long penitence of after time." The love of Nature, again, helps us greatly to keep ourselves free from those mean and petty cares which interfere so much with calm and peace of mind. It turns "every ordinary walk into a morning or evening sacrifice," and brightens life until it becomes almost like a fairy tale.
In the romances of the Middle Ages we read of knights who loved, and were loved by, Nature spirits,—of Sir Launfal and the Fairy Tryamour, who furnished him with many good things, including a magic purse, in which
As oft as thou puttest thy hand therein A mark of gold thou shalt iwinne,
as well as protection from the main dangers of life. Such times have passed away, but better ones have come. It is not now merely the few, who are so favoured. All those who love Nature she loves in return, and will richly reward, not perhaps with the good things, as they are commonly called, but with the best things, of this world; not with money and titles, horses and carriages, but with bright and happy thoughts, contentment and peace of mind.
Happy indeed is the naturalist: to him the seasons come round like old friends; to him the birds sing: as he walks along, the flowers stretch out from the hedges, or look up from the ground, and as each year fades away, he looks back on a fresh store of happy memories.
Though we can never "remount the river of our years," he who loves Nature is always young. But what is the love of Nature? Some seem to think they show a love of flowers by gathering them. How often one finds a bunch of withered blossoms on the roadside, plucked only to be thrown away! Is this love of Nature? It is, on the contrary, a wicked waste, for a waste of beauty is almost the worst waste of all.
If we could imagine a day prolonged for a lifetime, or nearly so, and that sunrise and sunset were rare events which happened but a few times to each of us, we should certainly be entranced by the beauty of the morning and evening tints. The golden rays of the morning are a fortune in themselves, but we too often overlook the loveliness of Nature, because it is constantly before us. For "the senseless folk," says King Alfred,
is far more struck At things it seldom sees.
"Well," says Cicero, "did Aristotle observe, 'If there were men whose habitations had been always underground, in great and commodious houses, adorned with statues and pictures, furnished with everything which they who are reputed happy abound with; and if, without stirring from thence, they should be informed of a certain divine power and majesty, and, after some time, the earth should open, and they should quit their dark abode to come to us; where they should immediately behold the earth, the seas, the heavens; should consider the vast extent of the clouds and force of the winds; should see the sun, and observe his grandeur and beauty, and also his creative power, inasmuch as day is occasioned by the diffusion of his light through the sky; and when night has obscured the earth, they should contemplate the heavens bespangled and adorned with stars; the surprising variety of the moon, in her increase and wane; the rising and setting of all the stars, and the inviolable regularity of their courses; when,' says he, 'they should see these things, they would undoubtedly conclude that there are Gods, and that these are their mighty works.'"
Is my life vulgar, my fate mean, Which on such golden memories can lean?
At the same time the change which has taken place in the character of our religion has in one respect weakened the hold which Nature has upon our feelings. To the Greeks—to our own ancestors,—every River or Mountain or Forest had not only its own special Deity, but in some sense was itself instinct with life. They were not only peopled by Nymphs and Fauns, Elves and Kelpies, were not only the favourite abodes of Water, Forest, or Mountain Spirits, but they had a conscious existence of their own.
In the Middle Ages indeed, these spirits were regarded as often mischievous, and apt to take offence; sometimes as essentially malevolent—even the most beautiful, like the Venus of Tannhaeuser, being often on that very account all the more dangerous; while the Mountains and Forests, the Lakes and Seas, were the abodes of hideous ghosts and horrible monsters, of Giants and Ogres, Sorcerers and Demons. These fears, though vague, were none the less extreme, and the judicial records of the Middle Ages furnish only too conclusive evidence that they were a terrible reality. The light of Science has now happily dispelled these fearful nightmares.
Unfortunately, however, as men have multiplied, their energies have hitherto tended, not to beautify, but to mar. Forests have been cut down, and replaced by flat fields in geometrical squares, or on the continent by narrow strips. Here and there indeed we meet with oases, in which beauty has not been sacrificed to profit, and it is then happily found that not only is there no loss, but the earth seems to reward even more richly those who treat her with love and respect.
Scarcely any part of the world affords so great a variety in so small an area as our own island. Commencing in the south, we have first the blue sea itself, the pebbly beaches, the white chalk cliffs of Kent, the tinted sands of Alum Bay, the Red Sandstone of Devonshire, Granite and Gneiss in Cornwall: inland we have the chalk Downs and clear streams, the well-wooded weald and the rich hop gardens; farther westwards the undulating gravelly hills, and still farther the granite tors: in the centre of England we have to the east the Norfolk Broads and the Fens; then the fertile Midlands, the cornfields, rich meadows, and large oxen; and to the west the Welsh mountains; farther north the Yorkshire Wolds, the Lancashire hills, the Lakes of Westmoreland; lastly, the swelling hills, bleak moors, and picturesque castles of Northumberland and Cumberland.
There are of course far larger rivers, but perhaps none lovelier than
The crystal Thamis wont to glide In silver channel, down along the lee,
by lawns and parks, meadows and wooded banks, dotted with country houses and crowned by Windsor Castle itself (see Frontispiece). By many Scotland is considered even more beautiful.
And yet too many of us see nothing in the fields but sacks of wheat, in the meadows but trusses of hay, and in woods but planks for houses, or cover for game. Even from this more prosaic point of view, how much there is to wonder at and admire, in the wonderful chemistry which changes grass and leaves, flowers and seeds, into bread and milk, eggs and cream, butter and honey!
Almost everything, says Hamerton, "that the Peasant does, is lifted above vulgarity by ancient, and often sacred, associations." There is, indeed, hardly any business or occupation with reference to which the same might not be said. The triviality or vulgarity does not depend on what we do, but on the spirit in which it is done. Not only the regular professions, but every useful occupation in life, however humble, is honourable in itself, and may be pursued with dignity and peace.
Working in this spirit we have also the satisfaction of feeling that, as in some mountain track every one who takes the right path, seems to make the way clearer for those who follow; so may we also raise the profession we adopt, and smooth the way for those who come after us. But, even for those who are not Agriculturists, it must be admitted that the country has special charms. One perhaps is the continual change. Every week brings some fresh leaf or flower, bird or insect. Every month again has its own charms and beauty. We sit quietly at home and Nature decks herself for us.
In truth we all love change. Some think they do not care for it, but I doubt if they know themselves.
"Not," said Jefferies, "for many years was I able to see why I went the same round and did not care for change. I do not want change: I want the same old and loved things, the same wild flowers, the same trees and soft ash-green; the turtle-doves, the blackbirds, the coloured yellow-hammer sing, sing, singing so long as there is light to cast a shadow on the dial, for such is the measure of his song, and I want them in the same place. Let me find them morning after morning, the starry-white petals radiating, striving upwards up to their ideal. Let me see the idle shadows resting on the white dust; let me hear the humble-bees, and stay to look down on the yellow dandelion disk. Let me see the very thistles opening their great crowns—I should miss the thistles; the reed grasses hiding the moor-hen; the bryony bine, at first crudely ambitious and lifted by force of youthful sap straight above the hedgerow to sink of its weight presently and progress with crafty tendrils; swifts shot through the air with outstretched wings like crescent-headed shaftless arrows darted from the clouds; the chaffinch with a feather in her bill; all the living staircase of the spring, step by step, upwards to the great gallery of the summer, let me watch the same succession year by year."
After all then he did enjoy the change and the succession.
Kingsley again in his charming prose idyll "My Winter Garden" tries to persuade himself that he was glad he had never travelled, "having never yet actually got to Paris." Monotony, he says, "is pleasant in itself; morally pleasant, and morally useful. Marriage is monotonous; but there is much, I trust, to be said in favour of holy wedlock. Living in the same house is monotonous; but three removes, say the wise, are as bad as a fire. Locomotion is regarded as an evil by our Litany. The Litany, as usual, is right. 'Those who travel by land or sea' are to be objects of our pity and our prayers; and I do pity them. I delight in that same monotony. It saves curiosity, anxiety, excitement, disappointment, and a host of bad passions."
But even as he writes one can see that he does not convince himself. Possibly, he admits, "after all, the grapes are sour"; and when some years after he did travel, how happy he was! At last, he says, triumphantly, "At last we too are crossing the Atlantic. At last the dream of forty years, please God, would be fulfilled, and I should see (and happily not alone), the West Indies and the Spanish Main. From childhood I had studied their Natural History, their Charts, their Romances; and now, at last, I was about to compare books with facts, and judge for myself of the reported wonders of the Earthly Paradise."
No doubt there is much to see everywhere. The Poet and the Naturalist find "tropical forests in every square foot of turf." It may even be better, and especially for the more sensitive natures, to live mostly in quiet scenery, among fields and hedgerows, woods and downs; but it is surely good for every one, from time to time, to refresh and strengthen both mind and body by a spell of Sea air or Mountain beauty.
On the other hand we are told, and told of course with truth, that though mountains may be the cathedrals of Nature, they are generally remote from centres of population; that our great cities are grimy, dark, and ugly; that factories are creeping over several of our counties, blighting them into building ground, replacing trees by chimneys, and destroying almost every vestige of natural beauty.
But if this be true, is it not all the more desirable that our people should have access to pictures and books, which may in some small degree, at any rate, replace what they have thus unfortunately lost? We cannot all travel; and even those who can, are able to see but a small part of the world. Moreover, though no one who has once seen, can ever forget, the Alps, the Swiss lakes, or the Riviera, still the recollection becomes less vivid as years roll on, and it is pleasant, from time to time, to be reminded of their beauties.
There is one other advantage not less important. We sometimes speak as if to visit a country, and to see it, were the same thing. But this is not so. It is not every one who can see Switzerland like a Ruskin or a Tyndall. Their beautiful descriptions of mountain scenery depend less on their mastery of the English language, great as that is, than on their power of seeing what is before them. It has been to me therefore a matter of much interest to know which aspects of Nature have given the greatest pleasure to, or have most impressed, those who, either from wide experience or from their love of Nature, may be considered best able to judge. I will begin with an English scene from Kingsley. He is describing his return from a day's trout-fishing:—
"What shall we see," he says, "as we look across the broad, still, clear river, where the great dark trout sail to and fro lazily in the sun? White chalk fields above, quivering hazy in the heat. A park full of merry hay-makers; gay red and blue waggons; stalwart horses switching off the flies; dark avenues of tall elms; groups of abele, 'tossing their whispering silver to the sun'; and amid them the house,—a great square red-brick mass, made light and cheerful though by quoins and windows of white Sarsden stone, with high peaked French roofs, broken by louvres and dormers, haunted by a thousand swallows and starlings. Old walled gardens, gay with flowers, shall stretch right and left. Clipt yew alleys shall wander away into mysterious glooms, and out of their black arches shall come tripping children, like white fairies, to laugh and talk with the girl who lies dreaming and reading in the hammock there, beneath the black velvet canopy of the great cedar tree, like some fair tropic flower hanging from its boughs; and we will sit down, and eat and drink among the burdock leaves, and then watch the quiet house, and lawn, and flowers, and fair human creatures, and shining water, all sleeping breathless in the glorious light beneath the glorious blue, till we doze off, lulled by the murmur of a thousand insects, and the rich minstrelsy of nightingale and blackcap, thrush and dove.
"Peaceful, graceful, complete English country life and country houses; everywhere finish and polish; Nature perfected by the wealth and art of peaceful centuries! Why should I exchange you, even for the sight of all the Alps?"
Though Jefferies was unfortunately never able to travel, few men have loved Nature more devotedly, and speaking of his own home he expresses his opinion that: "Of all sweet things there is none so sweet as fresh air—one great flower it is, drawn round about; over, and enclosing us, like Aphrodite's arms; as if the dome of the sky were a bell-flower drooping down over us, and the magical essence of it filling all the room of the earth. Sweetest of all things is wild-flower air. Full of their ideal the starry flowers strained upwards on the bank, striving to keep above the rude grasses that push by them; genius has ever had such a struggle. The plain road was made beautiful by the many thoughts it gave. I came every morning to stay by the star-lit bank."
Passing to countries across the ocean, Humboldt tells us that: "If I might be allowed to abandon myself to the recollection of my own distant travels, I would instance, amongst the most striking scenes of nature, the calm sublimity of a tropical night, when the stars, not sparkling, as in our northern skies, shed their soft and planetary light over the gently heaving ocean; or I would recall the deep valleys of the Cordilleras, where the tall and slender palms pierce the leafy veil around them, and waving on high their feathery and arrow-like branches, form, as it were, 'a forest above a forest'; or I would describe the summit of the Peak of Teneriffe, when a horizon layer of clouds, dazzling in whiteness, has separated the cone of cinders from the plain below, and suddenly the ascending current pierces the cloudy veil, so that the eye of the traveller may range from the brink of the crater, along the vine-clad slopes of Orotava, to the orange gardens and banana groves that skirt the shore. In scenes like these, it is not the peaceful charm uniformly spread over the face of nature that moves the heart, but rather the peculiar physiognomy and conformation of the land, the features of the landscape, the ever-varying outline of the clouds, and their blending with the horizon of the sea, whether it lies spread before us like a smooth and shining mirror, or is dimly seen through the morning mist. All that the senses can but imperfectly comprehend, all that is most awful in such romantic scenes of nature, may become a source of enjoyment to man, by opening a wide field to the creative power of his imagination. Impressions change with the varying movements of the mind, and we are led by a happy illusion to believe that we receive from the external world that with which we have ourselves invested it."
Humboldt also singles out for especial praise the following description given of Tahiti by Darwin:—
"The land capable of cultivation is scarcely in any part more than a fringe of low alluvial soil, accumulated round the base of mountains, and protected from the waves of the sea by a coral reef, which encircles at a distance the entire line of coast. The reef is broken in several parts so that ships can pass through, and the lake of smooth water within, thus affords a safe harbour, as well as a channel for the native canoes. The low land which comes down to the beach of coral sand is covered by the most beautiful productions of the inter-tropical regions. In the midst of bananas, orange, cocoa-nut, and breadfruit trees, spots are cleared where yams, sweet potatoes, sugar-cane, and pine-apples are cultivated. Even the brushwood is a fruit tree, namely, the guava, which from its abundance is as noxious as a weed. In Brazil I have often admired the contrast of varied beauty in the banana, palm, and orange tree; here we have in addition the breadfruit tree, conspicuous from its large, glossy, and deeply digitated leaf. It is admirable to behold groves of a tree, sending forth its branches with the force of an English Oak, loaded with large and most nutritious fruit. However little on most occasions utility explains the delight received from any fine prospect, in this case it cannot fail to enter as an element in the feeling. The little winding paths, cool from the surrounding shade, led to the scattered houses; and the owners of these everywhere gave us a cheerful and most hospitable reception."
Darwin himself has told us, after going round the world that "in calling up images of the past, I find the plains of Patagonia frequently cross before my eyes; yet these plains are pronounced by all to be most wretched and useless. They are characterised only by negative possessions; without habitations, without water, without trees, without mountains, they support only a few dwarf plants. Why then—and the case is not peculiar to myself—have these arid wastes taken so firm possession of my mind? Why have not the still more level, the greener and more fertile pampas, which are serviceable to mankind, produced an equal impression? I can scarcely analyse these feelings, but it must be partly owing to the free scope given to the imagination. The plains of Patagonia are boundless, for they are scarcely practicable, and hence unknown; they bear the stamp of having thus lasted for ages, and there appears no limit to their duration through future time. If, as the ancients supposed, the flat earth was surrounded by an impassable breadth of water, or by deserts heated to an intolerable excess, who would not look at these last boundaries to man's knowledge with deep but ill-defined sensations?"
Hamerton, whose wide experience and artistic power make his opinion especially important, says:—
"I know nothing in the visible world that combines splendour and purity so perfectly as a great mountain entirely covered with frozen snow and reflected in the vast mirror of a lake. As the sun declines, its thousand shadows lengthen, pure as the cold green azure in the depth of a glacier's crevasse, and the illuminated snow takes first the tender colour of a white rose, and then the flush of a red one, and the sky turns to a pale malachite green, till the rare strange vision fades into ghastly gray, but leaves with you a permanent recollection of its too transient beauty."
Wallace especially, and very justly, praises the description of tropical forest scenery given by Belt in his charming Naturalist in Nicaragua:—
"On each side of the road great trees towered up, carrying their crowns out of sight amongst a canopy of foliage, and with lianas hanging from nearly every bough, and passing from tree to tree, entangling the giants in a great network of coiling cables. Sometimes a tree appears covered with beautiful flowers which do not belong to it, but to one of the lianas that twines through its branches and sends down great rope-like stems to the ground. Climbing ferns and vanilla cling to the trunks, and a thousand epiphytes perch themselves on the branches. Amongst these are large arums that send down long aerial roots, tough and strong, and universally used instead of cordage by the natives. Amongst the undergrowth several small species of palms, varying in height from two to fifteen feet, are common; and now and then magnificent tree ferns send off their feathery crowns twenty feet from the ground to delight the sight by their graceful elegance. Great broad-leaved heliconias, leathery melastomae, and succulent-stemmed, lop-sided leaved and flesh-coloured begonias are abundant, and typical of tropical American forests; but not less so are the cecropia trees, with their white stems and large palmated leaves standing up like great candelabra. Sometimes the ground is carpeted with large flowers, yellow, pink, or white, that have fallen from some invisible tree-top above; or the air is filled with a delicious perfume, the source of which one seeks around in vain, for the flowers that cause it are far overhead out of sight, lost in the great over-shadowing crown of verdure."
"But," he adds, "the uniformity of climate which has led to this rich luxuriance and endless variety of vegetation is also the cause of a monotony that in time becomes oppressive." To quote the words of Mr. Belt: "Unknown are the autumn tints, the bright browns and yellows of English woods; much less the crimsons, purples, and yellows of Canada, where the dying foliage rivals, nay, excels, the expiring dolphin in splendour. Unknown the cold sleep of winter; unknown the lovely awakening of vegetation at the first gentle touch of spring. A ceaseless round of ever-active life weaves the fairest scenery of the tropics into one monotonous whole, of which the component parts exhibit in detail untold variety of beauty."
Siberia is no doubt as a rule somewhat severe and inhospitable, but M. Patrin mentions with enthusiasm how one day descending from the frozen summits of the Altai, he came suddenly on a view of the plain of the Obi—the most beautiful spectacle, he says, which he had ever witnessed. Behind him were barren rocks and the snows of winter, in front a great plain, not indeed entirely green, or green only in places, and for the rest covered by three flowers, the purple Siberian Iris, the golden Hemerocallis, and the silvery Narcissus—green, purple, gold, and white, as far as the eye could reach.
Wallace tells us that he himself has derived the keenest enjoyment from his sense of colour:—
"The heavenly blue of the firmament, the glowing tints of sunset, the exquisite purity of the snowy mountains, and the endless shades of green presented by the verdure-clad surface of the earth, are a never-failing source of pleasure to all who enjoy the inestimable gift of sight. Yet these constitute, as it were, but the frame and background of a marvellous and ever-changing picture. In contrast with these broad and soothing tints, we have presented to us in the vegetable and animal worlds an infinite variety of objects adorned with the most beautiful and most varied hues. Flowers, insects, and birds are the organisms most generally ornamented in this way; and their symmetry of form, their variety of structure, and the lavish abundance with which they clothe and enliven the earth, cause them to be objects of universal admiration. The relation of this wealth of colour to our mental and moral nature is indisputable. The child and the savage alike admire the gay tints of flowers, birds, and insects; while to many of us their contemplation brings a solace and enjoyment which is both intellectually and morally beneficial. It can then hardly excite surprise that this relation was long thought to afford a sufficient explanation of the phenomena of colour in nature; and although the fact that—
Full many a flower is born to blush unseen, And waste its sweetness on the desert air,
might seem to throw some doubt on the sufficiency of the explanation, the answer was easy,—that in the progress of discovery man would, sooner or later, find out and enjoy every beauty that the hidden recesses of the earth have in store for him."
Professor Colvin speaks with special admiration of Greek scenery:—
"In other climates, it is only in particular states of the weather that the remote ever seems so close, and then with an effect which is sharp and hard as well as clear; here the clearness is soft; nothing cuts or glitters, seen through that magic distance; the air has not only a new transparency so that you can see farther into it than elsewhere, but a new quality, like some crystal of an unknown water, so that to see into it is greater glory." Speaking of the ranges and promontories of sterile limestone, the same writer observes that their colours are as austere and delicate as the forms. "If here the scar of some old quarry throws a stain, or there the clinging of some thin leafage spreads a bloom, the stain is of precious gold, and the bloom of silver. Between the blue of the sky and the tenfold blue of the sea these bare ranges seem, beneath that daylight, to present a whole system of noble colour flung abroad over perfect forms. And wherever, in the general sterility, you find a little moderate verdure—a little moist grass, a cluster of cypresses—or whenever your eye lights upon the one wood of the district, the long olive grove of the Cephissus, you are struck with a sudden sense of richness, and feel as if the splendours of the tropics would be nothing to this."
Most travellers have been fascinated by the beauty of night in the tropics. Our evenings no doubt are often delicious also, though the mild climate we enjoy is partly due to the sky being so often overcast. In parts of the tropics, however, the air is calm and cloudless throughout nearly the whole of the year. There is no dew, and the inhabitants sleep on the house-tops, in full view of the brightness of the stars and the beauty of the sky, which is almost indescribable.
"Il faisait," says Bernardin de St. Pierre of such a scene, "une de ces nuits delicieuses, si communes entre les tropiques, et dont le plus abile pinceau ne rendrait pas le beaute. La lune paraissait au milieu du firmament, entouree d'un rideau de nuages, que ses rayons dissipaient par degres. Sa lumiere se repandait insensiblement sur les montagnes de l'ile et sur leurs pitons, qui brillaient d'un vert argente. Les vents retenaient leurs haleines. On entendait dans les bois, au fond des vallees, au haut des rochers, de petits cris, de doux murmures d'oiseaux, qui se caressaient dans leurs nids, rejouis par la clarte de la nuit et la tranquillite de l'air. Tous, jusqu'aux insectes, bruissaient sous l'herbe. Les etoiles etincelaient au ciel, et se reflechissaient au sein de la mer, qui repetait leurs images tremblantes."
In the Arctic and Antarctic regions the nights are often made quite gorgeous by the Northern Lights or Aurora borealis, and the corresponding appearance in the Southern hemisphere. The Aurora borealis generally begins towards evening, and first appears as a faint glimmer in the north, like the approach of dawn. Gradually a curve of light spreads like an immense arch of yellowish-white hue, which gains rapidly in brilliancy, flashes and vibrates like a flame in the wind. Often two or even three arches appear one over the other. After a while coloured rays dart upwards in divergent pencils, often green below, yellow in the centre, and crimson above, while it is said that sometimes almost black, or at least very dark violet, rays are interspersed among the rings of light, and heighten their effect by contrast. Sometimes the two ends of the arch seem to rise off the horizon, and the whole sheet of light throbs and undulates like a fringed curtain of light; sometimes the sheaves of rays unite into an immense cupola; while at others the separate rays seem alternately lit and extinguished. Gradually the light flickers and fades away, and has generally disappeared before the first glimpse of dawn.
We seldom see the Aurora in the south of England, but we must not complain; our winters are mild, and every month has its own charm and beauty.
In January we have the lengthening days.
" February " the first butterfly.
" March " the opening buds.
" April " the young leaves and spring flowers.
" May " the song of birds.
" June " the sweet new-mown hay.
" July " the summer flowers.
" August " the golden grain.
" September " the fruit.
" October " the autumn tints.
" November " the hoar frost on trees and the pure snow.
" December " last not least, the holidays of Christmas, and the bright fireside.
It is well to begin the year in January, for we have then before us all the hope of spring.
Oh wind, If winter comes, can spring be long behind?
Spring seems to revive us all. In the Song of Solomon—
My beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. For, lo, the winter is past, The rain is over and gone; The flowers appear on the earth; The time of the singing of birds is come, The voice of the turtle is heard in our land, The fig tree putteth forth her green figs, And the vines with the tender grape give a good smell.
"But indeed there are days," says Emerson, "which occur in this climate, at almost any season of the year, wherein the world reaches its perfection, when the air, the heavenly bodies, and the earth make a harmony, as if nature would indulge her offspring.... These halcyon days may be looked for with a little more assurance in that pure October weather, which we distinguish by the name of the Indian summer. The day, immeasurably long, sleeps over the broad hills and warm wide fields. To have lived through all its sunny hours, seems longevity enough." Yet does not the very name of Indian summer imply the superiority of the summer itself,—the real, the true summer, "when the young corn is bursting into ear; the awned heads of rye, wheat, and barley, and the nodding panicles of oats, shoot from their green and glaucous stems, in broad, level, and waving expanses of present beauty and future promise. The very waters are strewn with flowers: the buck-bean, the water-violet, the elegant flowering rush, and the queen of the waters, the pure and splendid white lily, invest every stream and lonely mere with grace."
For our greater power of perceiving, and therefore of enjoying Nature, we are greatly indebted to Science. Over and above what is visible to the unaided eye, the two magic tubes, the telescope and microscope, have revealed to us, at least partially, the infinitely great and the infinitely little.
Science, our Fairy Godmother, will, unless we perversely reject her help, and refuse her gifts, so richly endow us, that fewer hours of labour will serve to supply us with the material necessaries of life, leaving us more time to ourselves, more leisure to enjoy all that makes life best worth living.
Even now we all have some leisure, and for it we cannot be too grateful.
"If any one," says Seneca, "gave you a few acres, you would say that you had received a benefit; can you deny that the boundless extent of the earth is a benefit? If a house were given you, bright with marble, its roof beautifully painted with colours and gilding, you would call it no small benefit. God has built for you a mansion that fears no fire or ruin ... covered with a roof which glitters in one fashion by day, and in another by night. Whence comes the breath which you draw; the light by which you perform the actions of your life? the blood by which your life is maintained? the meat by which your hunger is appeased?... The true God has planted, not a few oxen, but all the herds on their pastures throughout the world, and furnished food to all the flocks; he has ordained the alternation of summer and winter ... he has invented so many arts and varieties of voice, so many notes to make music.... We have implanted in us the seeds of all ages, of all arts; and God our Master brings forth our intellects from obscurity."
 Choses Vues.
 Cicero, De Natura Deorum.
 Darwin's Voyage of the Beagle.
 Hamerton's Landscape.
 Howitt's Book of the Seasons.
 Seneca, De Beneficiis.
ON ANIMAL LIFE
If thy heart be right, then will every creature be to thee a mirror of life, and a book of holy doctrine.
THOMAS A KEMPIS.
ON ANIMAL LIFE
There is no species of animal or plant which would not well repay, I will not say merely the study of a day, but even the devotion of a lifetime. Their form and structure, development and habits, geographical distribution, relation to other living beings, and past history, constitute an inexhaustible study.
When we consider how much we owe to the Dog, Man's faithful friend, to the noble Horse, the patient Ox, the Cow, the Sheep, and our other domestic animals, we cannot be too grateful to them; and if we cannot, like some ancient nations, actually worship them, we have perhaps fallen into the other extreme, underrate the sacredness of animal life, and treat them too much like mere machines.
Some species, however, are no doubt more interesting than others, especially perhaps those which live together in true communities, and which offer so many traits—some sad, some comical, and all interesting,—which reproduce more or less closely the circumstances of our own life.
The modes of animal life are almost infinitely diversified; some live on land, some in water; of those which are aquatic some dwell in rivers, some in lakes or pools, some on the sea-shore, others in the depths of the ocean. Some burrow in the ground, some find their home in the air. Some live in the Arctic regions, some in the burning deserts; one little beetle (Hydrobius) in the thermal waters of Hammam-Meskoutin, at a temperature of 130 deg.. As to food, some are carnivorous and wage open war; some, more insidious, attack their victims from within; others feed on vegetable food, on leaves or wood, on seeds or fruits; in fact, there is scarcely an animal or vegetable substance which is not the special and favourite food of one or more species. Hence to adapt them to these various requirements we find the utmost differences of form and size and structure. Even the same individual often goes through great changes.
GROWTH AND METAMORPHOSES
The development, indeed, of an animal from birth to maturity is no mere question of growth. The metamorphoses of Insects have long excited the wonder and admiration of all lovers of nature. They depend to a great extent on the fact that the little creatures quit the egg at an early stage of development, and lead a different life, so that the external forces acting on them, are very different from those by which they are affected when they arrive at maturity. A remarkable case is that of certain Beetles which are parasitic on Solitary Bees. The young larva is very active, with six strong legs. It conceals itself in some flower, and when the Bee comes in search of honey, leaps upon her, but is so minute as not to be perceived. The Bee constructs her cell, stores it with honey, and lays her egg. At that moment the little larva quits the Bee and jumps on to the egg, which she proceeds gradually to devour. Having finished the egg, she attacks the honey; but under these circumstances the activity which was at first so necessary has become useless; the legs which did such good service are no longer required; and the active slim larva changes into a white fleshy grub, which floats comfortably in the honey with its mouth just below the surface.
Even in the same group we may find great differences. For instance, in the family of Insects to which Bees and Wasps belong, some have grub larvae, such as the Bee and Ant; some have larvae like caterpillars, such as the Sawflies; and there is a group of minute forms the larvae of which live inside the eggs of other insects, and present very remarkable and abnormal forms.
These differences depend mainly on the mode of life and the character of the food.
Such modifications may be called adaptive, but there are others of a different origin that have reference to the changes which the race has passed through in bygone ages. In fact the great majority of animals do go through metamorphoses (many of them as remarkable, though not so familiar as those of insects), but in many cases they are passed through within the egg and thus escape popular observation. Naturalists who accept the theory of evolution, consider that the development of each individual represents to a certain extent that which the species has itself gone through in the lapse of ages; that every individual contains within itself, so to say, a history of the race. Thus the rudimentary teeth of Cows, Sheep, Whales, etc. (which never emerge from their sockets), the rudimentary toes of many mammals, the hind legs of Whales and of the Boa-constrictor, which are imbedded in the flesh, the rudimentary collar-bone of the Dog, etc., are indications of descent from ancestors in which these organs were fully developed. Again, though used for such different purposes, the paddle of a Whale, the leg of a Horse and of a Mole, the wing of a Bird or a Bat, and the arm of a Man, are all constructed on the same model, include corresponding bones, and are similarly arranged. The long neck of the Giraffe, and the short one of the Whale (if neck it can be called), contain the same number of vertebrae.
Even after birth the young of allied species resemble one another much more than the mature forms. The stripes on the young Lion, the spots on the young Blackbird, are well-known cases; and we find the same law prevalent among the lower animals, as, for instance, among Insects and Crustacea. The Lobster, Crab, Shrimp, and Barnacle are very unlike when full grown, but in their young stages go through essentially similar metamorphoses.
No animal is perhaps in this respect more interesting than the Horse. The skull of a Horse and that of a Man, though differing so much, are, says Flower, "composed of exactly the same number of bones, having the same general arrangement and relation to each other. Not only the individual bones, but every ridge and surface for the attachment of muscles, and every hole for the passage of artery or nerve, seen in the one can be traced in the other." It is often said that the Horse presents a remarkable peculiarity in that the canine teeth grow but once. There are, however, in most Horses certain spicules or minute points which are shed before the appearance of the permanent canines, and which are probably the last remnants of the true milk canines.
The foot is reduced to a single toe, representing the third digit, but the second and fourth, though rudimentary, are represented by the splint bones; while the foot also contains traces of several muscles, originally belonging to the toes which have now disappeared, and which "linger as it were behind, with new relations and uses, sometimes in a reduced, and almost, if not quite, functionless condition." Even Man himself presents traces of gill-openings, and indications of other organs which are fully developed in lower animals.
There is in New Zealand a form of Crow (Hura), in which the female has undergone a very curious modification. It is the only case I know, in which the bill is differently shaped in the two sexes. The bird has taken on the habits of a Woodpecker, and the stout crow-like bill of the cock-bird is admirably adapted to tap trees, and if they sound hollow, to dig down to the burrow of the Insect; but it lacks the horny-pointed tip of the tongue, which in the true Woodpecker is provided with recurved hairs, thus enabling that bird to pierce the grub and draw it out. In the Hura, however, the bill of the hen-bird has become much elongated and slightly curved, and when the cock has dug down to the burrow, the hen inserts her long bill and draws out the grub, which they then divide between them: a very pretty illustration of the wife as helpmate to the husband.
It was indeed until lately the general opinion that animals and plants came into existence just as we now see them. We took pleasure in their beauty; their adaptation to their habits and mode of life in many cases could not be overlooked or misunderstood. Nevertheless the book of Nature was like some missal richly illuminated, but written in an unknown tongue. The graceful forms of the letters, the beauty of the colouring, excited our wonder and admiration; but of the true meaning little was known to us; indeed we scarcely realised that there was any meaning to decipher. Now glimpses of the truth are gradually revealing themselves, we perceive that there is a reason, and in many cases we know what the reason is, for every difference in form, in size, and in colour; for every bone and every feather, almost for every hair.
The colours of animals, generally, I believe, serve as a protection. In some, however, they probably render them more attractive to their mates, of which the Peacock is one of the most remarkable illustrations.
In richness of colour birds and insects vie even with flowers. "One fine red admiral butterfly," says Jefferies, "whose broad wings, stretched out like fans, looked simply splendid floating round and round the willows which marked the margin of a dry pool. His blue markings were really blue—blue velvet—his red and the white stroke shone as if sunbeams were in his wings. I wish there were more of these butterflies; in summer, dry summer, when the flowers seem gone and the grass is not so dear to us, and the leaves are dull with heat, a little colour is so pleasant. To me colour is a sort of food; every spot of colour is a drop of wine to the spirit."
The varied colours which add so much to the beauty of animals and plants are not only thus a delight to the eye, but afford us also some of the most interesting problems in Natural History. Some probably are not in themselves of any direct advantage. The brilliant mother-of-pearl of certain shells, which during life is completely hidden, the rich colours of some internal organs of animals, are not perhaps of any direct benefit, but are incidental, like the rich and brilliant hues of many minerals and precious stones.
But although this may be true, I believe that most of these colours are now of some advantage. "The black back and silvery belly of fishes" have been recently referred to by a distinguished naturalist as being obviously of no direct benefit. I should on the contrary have quoted this case as one where the advantage was obvious. The dark back renders the fish less conspicuous to an eye looking down into the water; while the white under-surface makes them less visible from below. The animals of the desert are sand-coloured; those of the Arctic regions are white like snow, especially in winter; and pelagic animals are blue.
Let us take certain special cases. The Lion, like other desert animals, is sand-coloured; the Tiger which lives in the Jungle has vertical stripes, making him difficult to see among the upright grass; Leopards and the tree-cats are spotted, like rays of light seen through leaves.
An interesting case is that of the animals living in the Sargasso or gulf-weed of the Atlantic. These creatures—Fish, Crustacea, and Mollusks alike—are characterised by a peculiar colouring, not continuously olive like the Seaweed itself, but blotched with rounded more or less irregular patches of bright, opaque white, so as closely to resemble fronds covered with patches of Flustra or Barnacles.
Take the case of caterpillars, which are especially defenceless, and which as a rule feed on leaves. The smallest and youngest are green, like the leaves on which they live. When they become larger, they are characterised by longitudinal lines, which break up the surface and thus render them less conspicuous. On older and larger ones the lines are diagonal, like the nerves of leaves. Conspicuous caterpillars are generally either nauseous in taste, or protected by hairs.
I say "generally," because there are some interesting exceptions. The large caterpillars of some of the Elephant Hawkmoths are very conspicuous, and rendered all the more so by the presence of a pair of large eyelike spots. Every one who sees one of these caterpillars is struck by its likeness to a snake, and the so-called "eyes" do much to increase the deception. Moreover, the ring on which they are placed is swollen, and the insect, when in danger, has the habit of retracting its head and front segments, which gives it an additional resemblance to some small reptile. That small birds are, as a matter of fact, afraid of these caterpillars (which, however, I need not say, are in reality altogether harmless) Weismann has proved by actual experiment. He put one of these caterpillars in a tray, in which he was accustomed to place seed for birds. Soon a little flock of sparrows and other small birds assembled to feed as usual. One of them lit on the edge of this tray, and was just going to hop in, when she spied the caterpillar. Immediately she began bobbing her head up and down in the odd way which some small birds have, but was afraid to go nearer. Another joined her and then another, until at last there was a little company of ten or twelve birds all looking on in astonishment, but not one ventured into the tray; while one bird, which lit in it unsuspectingly, beat a hasty retreat in evident alarm as soon as she perceived the caterpillar. After waiting for some time, Weismann removed it, when the birds soon attacked the seeds. Other caterpillars also are probably protected by their curious resemblance to spotted snakes. One of the large Indian caterpillars has even acquired the power of hissing.
Among perfect insects many resemble closely the substances near which they live. Some moths are mottled so as to mimic the bark of trees, or moss, or the surface of stones. One beautiful tropical butterfly has a dark wing on which are painted a series of green leaf tips, so that it closely resembles the edge of a pinnate leaf projecting out of shade into sunshine.
The argument is strengthened by those cases in which the protection, or other advantage, is due not merely to colour, but partly also to form. Such are the insects which resemble sticks or leaves. Again, there are cases in which insects mimic others, which, for some reason or other, are less liable to danger. So also many harmless animals mimic others which are poisonous or otherwise well protected. Some butterflies, as Mr. Bates has pointed out, mimic others which are nauseous in taste, and therefore not attacked by birds. In these cases it is generally only the females that are mimetic, and in some cases only a part of them, so that there are two, or even three, kinds of females, the one retaining the normal colouring of the group, the other mimicking another species. Some spiders closely resemble Ants, and several other insects mimic Wasps or Hornets.
Some reptiles and fish have actually the power of changing the colour of their skin so as to adapt themselves to their surroundings.
Many cases in which the colouring does not at first sight appear to be protective, will on consideration be found to be so. It has, for instance, been objected that sheep are not coloured green; but every mountaineer knows that sheep could not have had a colour more adapted to render them inconspicuous, and that it is almost impossible to distinguish them from the rocks which so constantly crop up on hill sides. Even the brilliant blue of the Kingfisher, which in a museum renders it so conspicuous, in its native haunts, on the contrary, makes it difficult to distinguish from a flash of light upon the water; and the richly-coloured Woodpecker wears the genuine dress of a Forester—the green coat and crimson cap.
It has been found that some brilliantly coloured and conspicuous animals are either nauseous or poisonous. In these cases the brilliant colour is doubtless a protection by rendering them more unmistakable.
Some animals may delight us especially by their beauty, such as birds or butterflies; others may surprise us by their size, as Elephants and Whales, or the still more marvellous monsters of ancient times; may fascinate us by their exquisite forms, such as many microscopic shells; or compel our reluctant attention by their similarity to us in structure; but none offer more points of interest than those which live in communities. I do not allude to the temporary assemblages of Starlings, Swallows, and other birds at certain times of year, nor even to the permanent associations of animals brought together by common wants in suitable localities, but to regular and more or less organised associations. Such colonies as those of Rooks and Beavers have no doubt interesting revelations and surprises in store for us, but they have not been as yet so much studied as those of some insects. Among these the Hive Bees, from the beauty and regularity of their cells, from their utility to man, and from the debt we owe them for their unconscious agency in the improvement of flowers, hold a very high place; but they are probably less intelligent, and their relations with other animals and with one another are less complex than in the case of Ants, which have been so well studied by Gould, Huber, Forel, M'Cook, and other naturalists.
The subject is a wide one, for there are at least a thousand species of Ants, no two of which have the same habits. In this country we have rather more than thirty, most of which I have kept in confinement. Their life is comparatively long: I have had working Ants which were seven years old, and a Queen Ant lived in one of my nests for fifteen years. The community consists, in addition to the young, of males, which do no work, of wingless workers, and one or more Queen mothers, who have at first wings, which, however, after one Marriage flight, they throw off, as they never leave the nest again, and in it wings would of course be useless. The workers do not, except occasionally, lay eggs, but carry on all the affairs of the community. Some of them, and especially the younger ones, remain in the nest, excavate chambers and tunnels, and tend the young, which are sorted up according to age, so that my nests often had the appearance of a school, with the children arranged in classes.
In our English Ants the workers in each species are all similar except in size, but among foreign species there are some in which there are two or even more classes of workers, differing greatly not only in size, but also in form. The differences are not the result of age, nor of race, but are adaptations to different functions, the nature of which, however, is not yet well understood. Among the Termites those of one class certainly seem to act as soldiers, and among the true Ants also some have comparatively immense heads and powerful jaws. It is doubtful, however, whether they form a real army. Bates observed that on a foraging expedition the large-headed individuals did not walk in the regular ranks, nor on the return did they carry any of the booty, but marched along at the side, and at tolerably regular intervals, "like subaltern officers in a marching regiment." He is disposed, however, to ascribe to them a much humbler function, namely, to serve merely "as indigestible morsels to the ant thrushes." This, I confess, seems to me improbable.
Solomon was, so far as we yet know, quite correct in describing Ants as having "neither guide, overseer, nor ruler." The so-called Queens are really Mothers. Nevertheless it is true, and it is curious, that the working Ants and Bees always turn their heads towards the Queen. It seems as if the sight of her gave them pleasure. On one occasion, while moving some Ants from one nest into another for exhibition at the Royal Institution, I unfortunately crushed the Queen and killed her. The others, however, did not desert her, or draw her out as they do dead workers, but on the contrary carried her into the new nest, and subsequently into a larger one with which I supplied them, congregating round her for weeks just as if she had been alive. One could hardly help fancying that they were mourning her loss, or hoping anxiously for her recovery.
The Communities of Ants are sometimes very large, numbering even up to 500,000 individuals; and it is a lesson to us, that no one has ever yet seen a quarrel between any two Ants belonging to the same community. On the other hand it must be admitted that they are in hostility, not only with most other insects, including Ants of different species, but even with those of the same species if belonging to different communities. I have over and over again introduced Ants from one of my nests into another nest of the same species, and they were invariably attacked, seized by a leg or an antenna, and dragged out.
It is evident therefore that the Ants of each community all recognise one another, which is very remarkable. But more than this, I several times divided a nest into two halves, and found that even after a separation of a year and nine months they recognised one another, and were perfectly friendly; while they at once attacked Ants from a different nest, although of the same species.
It has been suggested that the Ants of each nest have some sign or password by which they recognise one another. To test this I made some insensible. First I tried chloroform, but this was fatal to them; and as therefore they were practically dead, I did not consider the test satisfactory. I decided therefore to intoxicate them. This was less easy than I had expected. None of my Ants would voluntarily degrade themselves by getting drunk. However, I got over the difficulty by putting them into whisky for a few moments. I took fifty specimens, twenty-five from one nest and twenty-five from another, made them dead drunk, marked each with a spot of paint, and put them on a table close to where other Ants from one of the nests were feeding. The table was surrounded as usual with a moat of water to prevent them from straying. The Ants which were feeding soon noticed those which I had made drunk. They seemed quite astonished to find their comrades in such a disgraceful condition, and as much at a loss to know what to do with their drunkards as we are. After a while, however, to cut my story short, they carried them all away: the strangers they took to the edge of the moat and dropped into the water, while they bore their friends home into the nest, where by degrees they slept off the effects of the spirit. Thus it is evident that they know their friends even when incapable of giving any sign or password.
This little experiment also shows that they help comrades in distress. If a Wolf or a Rook be ill or injured, we are told that it is driven away or even killed by its comrades. Not so with Ants. For instance, in one of my nests an unfortunate Ant, in emerging from the chrysalis skin, injured her legs so much that she lay on her back quite helpless. For three months, however, she was carefully fed and tended by the other Ants. In another case an Ant in the same manner had injured her antennae. I watched her also carefully to see what would happen. For some days she did not leave the nest. At last one day she ventured outside, and after a while met a stranger Ant of the same species, but belonging to another nest, by whom she was at once attacked. I tried to separate them, but whether by her enemy, or perhaps by my well-meant but clumsy kindness, she was evidently much hurt and lay helplessly on her side. Several other Ants passed her without taking any notice, but soon one came up, examined her carefully with her antennae, and carried her off tenderly to the nest. No one, I think, who saw it could have denied to that Ant one attribute of humanity, the quality of kindness.
The existence of such communities as those of Ants or Bees implies, no doubt, some power of communication, but the amount is still a matter of doubt. It is well known that if one Bee or Ant discovers a store of food, others soon find their way to it. This, however, does not prove much. It makes all the difference whether they are brought or sent. If they merely accompany on her return a companion who has brought a store of food, it does not imply much. To test this, therefore, I made several experiments. For instance, one cold day my Ants were almost all in their nests. One only was out hunting and about six feet from home. I took a dead bluebottle fly, pinned it on to a piece of cork, and put it down just in front of her. She at once tried to carry off the fly, but to her surprise found it immovable. She tugged and tugged, first one way and then another for about twenty minutes, and then went straight off to the nest. During that time not a single Ant had come out; in fact she was the only Ant of that nest out at the time. She went straight in, but in a few seconds—less than half a minute,—came out again with no less than twelve friends, who trooped off with her, and eventually tore up the dead fly, carrying it off in triumph.
Now the first Ant took nothing home with her; she must therefore somehow have made her friends understand that she had found some food, and wanted them to come and help her to secure it. In all such cases, however, so far as my experience goes, the Ants brought their friends, and some of my experiments indicated that they are unable to send them.
Certain species of Ants, again, make slaves of others, as Huber first observed. If a colony of the slave-making Ants is changing the nest, a matter which is left to the discretion of the slaves, the latter carry their mistresses to their new home. Again, if I uncovered one of my nests of the Fuscous Ant (Formica fusca), they all began running about in search of some place of refuge. If now I covered over one small part of the nest, after a while some Ant discovered it. In such a case, however, the brave little insect never remained there, she came out in search of her friends, and the first one she met she took up in her jaws, threw over her shoulder (their way of carrying friends), and took into the covered part; then both came out again, found two more friends and brought them in, the same manoeuvre being repeated until the whole community was in a place of safety. This I think says much for their public spirit, but seems to prove that, in F. fusca at least, the powers of communication are but limited.
One kind of slave-making Ant has become so completely dependent on their slaves, that even if provided with food they will die of hunger, unless there is a slave to put it into their mouth. I found, however, that they would thrive very well if supplied with a slave for an hour or so once a week to clean and feed them.
But in many cases the community does not consist of Ants only. They have domestic animals, and indeed it is not going too far to say that they have domesticated more animals than we have. Of these the most important are Aphides. Some species keep Aphides on trees and bushes, others collect root-feeding Aphides into their nests. They serve as cows to the Ants, which feed on the honey-dew secreted by the Aphides. Not only, moreover, do the Ants protect the Aphides themselves, but collect their eggs in autumn, and tend them carefully through the winter, ready for the next spring. Many other insects are also domesticated by Ants, and some of them, from living constantly underground, have completely lost their eyes and become quite blind.
But I must not let myself be carried away by this fascinating subject, which I have treated more at length in another work. I will only say that though their intelligence is no doubt limited, still I do not think that any one who has studied the life-history of Ants can draw any fundamental line of separation between instinct and reason.
When we see a community of Ants working together in perfect harmony, it is impossible not to ask ourselves how far they are mere exquisite automatons; how far they are conscious beings? When we watch an ant-hill tenanted by thousands of industrious inhabitants, excavating chambers, forming tunnels, making roads, guarding their home, gathering food, feeding the young, tending their domestic animals—each one fulfilling its duties industriously, and without confusion,—it is difficult altogether to deny to them the gift of reason; and all our recent observations tend to confirm the opinion that their mental powers differ from those of men, not so much in kind as in degree.
 The Horse.
 Lubbock, Fifty Years of Science.
 The Open Air.
 Ants, Bees, and Wasps.
ON ANIMAL LIFE—continued
An organic being is a microcosm—a little universe, formed of a host of self-propagating organisms, inconceivably minute and numerous as the stars of heaven.
ON ANIMAL LIFE—continued.
We constantly speak of animals as free. A fish, says Ruskin, "is much freer than a Man; and as to a fly, it is a black incarnation of freedom." It is pleasant to think of anything as free, but in this case the idea is, I fear, to a great extent erroneous. Young animals may frolic and play, but older ones take life very seriously. About the habits of fish and flies, indeed, as yet we know very little. Any one, however, who will watch animals will soon satisfy himself how diligently they work. Even when they seem to be idling over flowers, or wandering aimlessly about, they are in truth diligently seeking for food, or collecting materials for nests. The industry of Bees is proverbial. When collecting honey or pollen they often visit over twenty flowers in a minute, keeping constantly to one species, without yielding a moment's dalliance to any more sweet or lovely tempter. Ants fully deserve the commendation of Solomon. Wasps have not the same reputation for industry; but I have watched them from before four in the morning till dark at night working like animated machines without a moment's rest or intermission. Sundays and Bank Holidays are all the same to them. Again, Birds have their own gardens and farms from which they do not wander, and within which they will tolerate no interference. Their ideas of the rights of property are far stricter than those of some statesmen. As to freedom, they have their daily duties as much as a mechanic in a mill or a clerk in an office. They suffer under alarms, moreover, from which we are happily free. Mr. Galton believes that the life of wild animals is very anxious. "From my own recollection," he says, "I believe that every antelope in South Africa has to run for its life every one or two days upon an average, and that he starts or gallops under the influence of a false alarm many times in a day. Those who have crouched at night by the side of pools in the desert, in order to have a shot at the beasts that frequent it, see strange scenes of animal life; how the creatures gambol at one moment and fight at another; how a herd suddenly halts in strained attention, and then breaks into a maddened rush as one of them becomes conscious of the stealthy movements or rank scent of a beast of prey. Now this hourly life-and-death excitement is a keen delight to most wild creatures, but must be peculiarly distracting to the comfort-loving temperament of others. The latter are alone suited to endure the crass habits and dull routine of domesticated life. Suppose that an animal which has been captured and half-tamed, received ill-usage from his captors, either as punishment or through mere brutality, and that he rushed indignantly into the forest with his ribs aching from blows and stones. If a comfort-loving animal, he will probably be no gainer by the change, more serious alarms and no less ill-usage awaits him: he hears the roar of the wild beasts, and the headlong gallop of the frightened herds, and he finds the buttings and the kicks of other animals harder to endure than the blows from which he fled: he has peculiar disadvantages from being a stranger; the herds of his own species which he seeks for companionship constitute so many cliques, into which he can only find admission by more fighting with their strongest members than he has spirit to undergo. As a set-off against these miseries, the freedom of savage life has no charms for his temperament; so the end of it is, that with a heavy heart he turns back to the habitation he had quitted."
But though animals may not be free, I hope and believe that they are happy. Dr. Hudson, an admirable observer, assures us with confidence that the struggle for existence leaves them much leisure and famous spirits. "In the animal world," he exclaims, "what happiness reigns! What ease, grace, beauty, leisure, and content! Watch these living specks as they glide through their forests of algae, all 'without hurry and care,' as if their 'span-long lives' really could endure for the thousand years that the old catch pines for. Here is no greedy jostling at the banquet that nature has spread for them; no dread of each other; but a leisurely inspection of the field, that shows neither the pressure of hunger nor the dread of an enemy.
"'To labour and to be content' (that 'sweet life' of the son of Sirach)—to be equally ready for an enemy or a friend—to trust in themselves alone, to show a brave unconcern for the morrow, all these are the admirable points of a character almost universal among animals, and one that would lighten many a heart were it more common among men. That character is the direct result of the golden law 'If one will not work, neither let him eat'; a law whose stern kindness, unflinchingly applied, has produced whole nations of living creatures, without a pauper in their ranks, flushed with health, alert, resolute, self-reliant, and singularly happy."
It has often been said that Man is the only animal gifted with the power of enjoying a joke, but if animals do not laugh, at any rate they sometimes play. We are, indeed, apt perhaps to credit them with too much of our own attributes and emotions, but we can hardly be mistaken in supposing that they enjoy certain scents and sounds. It is difficult to separate the games of kittens and lambs from those of children. Our countryman Gould long ago described the "amusements or sportive exercises" which he had observed among Ants. Forel was at first incredulous, but finally confirmed these statements; and, speaking of certain tropical Ants, Bates says "the conclusion that they were engaged in play was irresistible."
We share with other animals the great blessing of Sleep, nature's soft nurse, "the mantle that covers thought, the food that appeases hunger, the drink that quenches thirst, the fire that warms cold, the cold that moderates heat, the coin that purchases all things, the balance and weight that equals the shepherd with the king, and the simple with the wise." Some animals dream as we do; Dogs, for instance, evidently dream of the chase. With the lower animals which cannot shut their eyes it is, however, more difficult to make sure whether they are awake or asleep. I have often noticed insects at night, even when it was warm and light, behave just as if they were asleep, and take no notice of objects which would certainly have startled them in the day. The same thing has also been observed in the case of fish.
But why should we sleep? What a remarkable thing it is that one-third of our life should be passed in unconsciousness. "Half of our days," says Sir T. Browne, "we pass in the shadow of the earth, and the brother of death extracteth a third part of our lives." The obvious suggestion is that we require rest. But this does not fully meet the case. In sleep the mind is still awake, and lives a life of its own: our thoughts wander, uncontrolled, by the will. The mind, therefore, is not necessarily itself at rest; and yet we all know how it is refreshed by sleep.
But though animals sleep, many of them are nocturnal in their habits. Humboldt gives a vivid description of night in a Brazilian forest.
"Everything passed tranquilly till eleven at night, and then a noise so terrible arose in the neighbouring forest that it was almost impossible to close our eyes. Amid the cries of so many wild beasts howling at once the Indians discriminated such only as were (at intervals) heard separately. These were the little soft cries of the sapajous, the moans of the alouate apes, the howlings of the jaguar and couguar, the peccary and the sloth, and the cries of (many) birds. When the jaguars approached the skirt of the forest our dog, which till then had never ceased barking, began to howl and seek for shelter beneath our hammocks. Sometimes, after a long silence, the cry of the tiger came from the tops of the trees; and then it was followed by the sharp and long whistling of the monkeys, which appeared to flee from the danger which threatened them. We heard the same noises repeated during the course of whole months whenever the forest approached the bed of the river.
"When the natives are interrogated on the causes of the tremendous noise made by the beasts of the forest at certain hours of the night, the answer is, they are keeping the feast of the full moon. I believe this agitation is most frequently the effect of some conflict that has arisen in the depths of the forest. The jaguars, for instance, pursue the peccaries and the tapirs, which, having no defence, flee in close troops, and break down the bushes they find in their way. Terrified at this struggle, the timid and distrustful monkeys answer, from the tops of the trees, the cries of the large animals. They awaken the birds that live in society, and by degrees the whole assembly is in commotion. It is not always in a fine moonlight, but more particularly at the time of a storm of violent showers, that this tumult takes place among the wild beasts. 'May heaven grant them a quiet night and repose, and us also!' said the monk who accompanied us to the Rio Negro, when, sinking with fatigue, he assisted in arranging our accommodation for the night."
Life is indeed among animals a struggle for existence, and in addition to the more usual weapons—teeth and claws—we find in some animals special and peculiar means of offence and defence.
If we had not been so familiarised with the fact, the possession of poison might well seem a wonderful gift. That a fluid, harmless in one animal itself, should yet prove so deadly when transferred to others, is certainly very remarkable; and though the venom of the Cobra or the Rattlesnake appeal perhaps more effectively to our imagination, we have conclusive evidence of concentrated poison even in the bite of a midge, which may remain for days perceptible. The sting of a Bee or Wasp, though somewhat similar in its effect, is a totally different organ, being a modified ovipositor. Some species of Ants do not sting in the ordinary sense, but eject their acrid poison to a distance of several inches.
Another very remarkable weapon is the electric battery of certain Eels, of the Electric Cat Fish, and the Torpedoes, one of which is said to be able to discharge an amount of electricity sufficient to kill a Man.
Some of the Medusae and other Zoophytes are armed by millions of minute organs known as "thread cells." Each consists of a cell, within which a firm, elastic thread is tightly coiled. The moment the Medusa touches its prey the cells burst and the threads spring out. Entering the flesh as they do by myriads, they prove very effective weapons.
The ink of the Sepia has passed into a proverb. The animal possesses a store of dark fluid, which, if attacked, it at once ejects, and thus escapes under cover of the cloud thus created.
The so-called Bombardier Beetles, when attacked, discharge at the enemy, from the hinder part of their body, an acrid fluid which, as soon as it comes in contact with air, explodes with a sound resembling a miniature gun. Westwood mentions, on the authority of Burchell, that on one occasion, "whilst resting for the night on the banks of one of the large South American rivers, he went out with a lantern to make an astronomical observation, accompanied by one of his black servant boys; and as they were proceeding, their attention was directed to numerous beetles running about upon the shore, which, when captured, proved to be specimens of a large species of Brachinus. On being seized they immediately began to play off their artillery, burning and staining the flesh to such a degree that only a few specimens could be captured with the naked hand, and leaving a mark which remained a considerable time. Upon observing the whitish vapour with which the explosions were accompanied, the negro exclaimed in his broken English, with evident surprise, 'Ah, massa, they make smoke!'"
Many other remarkable illustrations might be quoted; as for instance the web of the Spider, the pit of the Ant Lion, the mephitic odour of the Skunk.
We generally attribute to animals five senses more or less resembling our own. But even as regards our own senses we really know or understand very little. Take the question of colour. The rainbow is commonly said to consist of seven colours—red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet.
But it is now known that all our colour sensations are mixtures of three simple colours, red, green, and violet. We are, however, absolutely ignorant how we perceive these colours. Thomas Young suggested that we have three different systems of nerve fibres, and Helmholtz regards this as "a not improbable supposition"; but so far as microscopical examination is concerned, there is no evidence whatever for it.
Or take again the sense of Hearing. The vibrations of the air no doubt play upon the drum of the ear, and the waves thus produced are conducted through a complex chain of small bones to the fenestra ovalis and so to the inner ear or labyrinth. But beyond this all is uncertainty. The labyrinth consists mainly of two parts (1) the cochlea, and (2) the semicircular canals, which are three in number, standing at right angles to one another. It has been supposed that they enable us to maintain the equilibrium of the body, but no satisfactory explanation of their function has yet been given. In the cochlea, Corti discovered a remarkable organ consisting of some four thousand complex arches, which increase regularly in length and diminish in height. They are connected at one end with the fibres of the auditory nerve, and Helmholtz has suggested that the waves of sound play on them, like the fingers of a performer on the keys of a piano, each separate arch corresponding to a different sound. We thus obtain a glimpse, though but a glimpse, of the manner in which perhaps we hear; but when we pass on to the senses of smell and taste, all we know is that the extreme nerve fibres terminate in certain cells which differ in form from those of the general surface; but in what manner the innumerable differences of taste or smell are communicated to the brain, we are absolutely ignorant.
If then we know so little about ourselves, no wonder that with reference to other animals our ignorance is extreme.
We are too apt to suppose that the senses of animals must closely resemble, and be confined to ours.
No one can doubt that the sensations of other animals differ in many ways from ours. Their organs are sometimes constructed on different principles, and situated in very unexpected places. There are animals which have eyes on their backs, ears in their legs, and sing through their sides.
We all know that the senses of animals are in many cases much more acute than ours, as for instance the power of scent in the dog, of sight in the eagle. Moreover, our eye is much more sensitive to some colours than to others; least so to crimson, then successively to red, orange, yellow, blue, and green; the sensitiveness for green being as much as 750 times as great as for red. This alone may make objects appear of very different colours to different animals.
Nor is the difference one of degree merely. The rainbow, as we see it, consists of seven colours—red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. But though the red and violet are the limits of the visible spectrum, they are not the limits of the spectrum itself, there are rays, though invisible to us, beyond the red at the one end, and beyond the violet at the other: the existence of the ultra red can be demonstrated by the thermometer; while the ultra violet are capable of taking a photograph. But though the red and violet are respectively the limits of our vision, I have shown by experiments which have been repeated and confirmed by other naturalists, that some of the lower animals are capable of perceiving the ultra-violet rays, which to us are invisible. It is an interesting question whether these rays may not produce on them the impression of a new colour, or colours, differing from any of those known to us.
So again with hearing, not only may animals in some cases hear better than we do, but sounds which are beyond the reach of our ears, may be audible to theirs. Even among ourselves the power of hearing shrill sounds is greater in some persons than in others. Sound, as we know, is produced by vibration of the air striking on the drum of the ear, and the fewer are the vibrations in a second, the deeper is the sound, which becomes shriller and shriller as the waves of sound become more rapid. In human ears the limits of hearing are reached when about 35,000 vibrations strike the drum of the ear in a second.
Whatever the explanation of the gift of hearing in ourselves may be, different plans seem to be adopted in the case of other animals. In many Crustacea and Insects there are flattened hairs each connected with a nerve fibre, and so constituted as to vibrate in response to particular notes. In others the ear cavity contains certain minute solid bodies, known as otoliths, which in the same way play upon the nerve fibres. Sometimes these are secreted by the walls of the cavity itself, but certain Crustacea have acquired the remarkable habit of selecting after each moult suitable particles of sand, which they pick up with their pincers and insert into their ears.
Many insects, besides the two large "compound" eyes one on each side of the head, have between them three small ones, known as the "ocelli," arranged in a triangle. The structure of these two sets of eyes is quite different. The ocelli appear to see as our eyes do. The lens throws an inverted image on the back of the eye, so that with these eyes they must see everything reversed, as we ourselves really do, though long practice enables us to correct the impression. On the other hand, the compound eyes consist of a number of facets, in some species as many as 20,000 in each eye, and the prevailing impression among entomologists now is that each facet receives the impression of one pencil of rays, that in fact the image formed in a compound eye is a sort of mosaic. In that case, vision by means of these eyes must be direct; and it is indeed difficult to understand how an insect can obtain a correct impression when it looks at the world with five eyes, three of which see everything reversed, while the other two see things the right way up!
On the other hand, some regard each facet as an independent eye, in which case many insects realise the epigram of Plato—
Thou lookest on the stars, my love, Ah, would that I could be Yon starry skies with thousand eyes, That I might look on thee!
Even so, therefore, we only substitute one difficulty for another.
But this is not all. We have not only no proof that animals are confined to our five senses, but there are strong reasons for believing that this is not the case.
In the first place, many animals have organs which from their position, structure, and rich supply of nerves, are evidently organs of sense; and yet which do not appear to be adapted to any one of our five senses.
As already mentioned, the limits of hearing are reached when about 35,000 vibrations of the air strike on the drums of our ears. Light, as was first conclusively demonstrated by our great countryman Young, is the impression produced by vibration of the ether on the retina of the eye. When 700 millions of millions of vibrations strike the eye in a second, we see violet; and the colour changes as the number diminishes, 400 millions of millions giving us the impression of red.
Between 35 thousand and 400 millions of millions the interval is immense, and it is obvious that there might be any number of sensations. When we consider how greatly animals differ from us, alike in habits and structure, is it not possible, nay, more, is it not likely that some of these problematical organs are the seats of senses unknown to us, and give rise to sensations of which we have no conception?
In addition to the capacity for receiving and perceiving, some animals have the faculty of emitting light. In our country the glow-worm is the most familiar case, though some other insects and worms have, at any rate under certain conditions, the same power, and it is possible that many others are really luminous, though with light which is invisible to us. In warmer climates the Fire-fly, Lanthorn-fly, and many other insects, shine with much greater brilliance, and in these cases the glow seems to be a real love-light, like the lamp of Hero.
Many small marine animals, Medusae, Crustacea, Worms, etc., are also brilliantly luminous at night. Deep-sea animals are endowed also in many cases with special luminous organs, to which I shall refer again.
SENSE OF DIRECTION
It has been supposed that animals possess also what has been called a Sense of Direction. Many interesting cases are on record of animals finding their way home after being taken a considerable distance. To account for this fact it has been suggested that animals possess a sense with which we are not endowed, or of which, at any rate, we possess only a trace. The homing instinct of the pigeon has also been ascribed to the same faculty. My brother Alfred, however, who has paid much attention to pigeons, informs me that they are never taken any great distance at once; but if they are intended to take a long flight, they are trained to do so by stages.
Darwin suggested that it would be interesting to test the case by taking animals in a close box, and then whirling them round rapidly before letting them out. This is in fact done with cats in some parts of France, when the family migrates, and is considered the only way of preventing the cat from returning to the old home. Fabre has tried the same thing with some wild Bees (Chalicodoma). He took some, marked them on the back with a spot of white, and put them into a bag. He then carried them a quarter of a mile, stopping at a point where an old cross stands by the wayside, and whirled the bag rapidly round his head. While he was doing so a good woman came by, who seemed not a little surprised to find the Professor solemnly whirling a black bag round his head in front of the cross; and, he fears, suspected him of Satanic practices. He then carried his Bees a mile and a half in the opposite direction and let them go. Three out of ten found their way home. He tried the same experiment several times, in one case taking them a little over two miles. On an average about a third of the Bees found their way home. "La demonstration," says Fabre, "est suffisante. Ni les mouvements enchevetres d'une rotation comme je l'ai decrite; ni l'obstacle de collines a franchir et de bois a traverser; ni les embuches d'une voie qui s'avance, retrograde, et revient par un ample circuit, ne peuvent troubler les Chalicodomes depayses et les empecher de revenir au nid."