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Title: More Science From an Easy Chair
Author: Lankester, E. Ray (Edwin Ray), Sir, 1847-1929
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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      In a chemical formula, the underscore followed by a number
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      (example: H_{2}O).



MORE SCIENCE FROM AN EASY CHAIR

by

Sir RAY LANKESTER
  K.C.B., F.R.S.

With 34 Illustrations



Methuen & Co. Ltd.
36 Essex Street, W.C.
London

       *       *       *       *       *

Uniform with this Volume

    1 The Mighty Atom                          Marie Corelli
    2 Jane                                     Marie Corelli
    3 Boy                                      Marie Corelli
  231 Cameos                                   Marie Corelli
    4 Spanish Gold                          G. A. Birmingham
    9 The Unofficial Honeymoon                 Doll Wyllarde
   18 Round the Red Lamp                  Sir A. Conan Doyle
   20 Light Freights                            W. W. Jacobs
   22 The Long Road                             John Oxenham
   71 The Gates of Wrath                      Arnold Bennett
   81 The Card                                Arnold Bennett
   87 Lalage's Lovers                       G. A. Birmingham
   92 White Fang                                 Jack London
  108 The Adventures of Dr. Whitty          G. A. Birmingham
  113 Lavender and Old Lace                      Myrtle Reed
  125 The Regent                              Arnold Bennett
  135 A Spinner in the Sun                       Myrtle Reed
  137 The Mystery of Dr. Fu-Manchu                Sax Rohmer
  143 Sandy Married                         Dorothea Conyers
  212 Under Western Eyes                       Joseph Conrad
  215 Mr. Grex of Monte Carlo          E. Phillips Oppenheim
  224 Broken Shackles                           John Oxenham
  227 Byeways                                 Robert Hichens
  229 My Friend the Chauffeur       C. N. & A. M. Williamson
  259 Anthony Cuthbert                         Richard Bagot
  261 Tarzan of the Apes                Edgar Rice Burroughs
  268 His Island Princess                   W. Clark Russell
  275 Secret History              C. N. and A. M. Williamson
  276 Mary All-alone                            John Oxenham
  277 Darneley Place                           Richard Bagot
  278 The Desert Trail                         Dane Coolidge
  279 The War Wedding             C. N. and A. M. Williamson
  281 Because of these Things                 Marjorie Bowen
  282 Mrs. Peter Howard                         Mary E. Mann
  288 A Great Man                             Arnold Bennett
  289 The Rest Cure                            W. B. Maxwell
  290 The Devil Doctor                            Sax Rohmer
  291 Master of the Vineyard                     Myrtle Reed
  293 The Si-Fan Mysteries                        Sax Rohmer
  294 The Guiding Thread                   Beatrice Harraden
  295 The Hillman                      E. Phillips Oppenheim
  296 William, by the Grace of God            Marjorie Bowen
  297 Below Stairs                      Mrs. Alfred Sidgwick
  301 Love and Louisa                      E. Maria Albanesi
  302 The Joss                                 Richard Marsh
  303 The Carissima                              Lucas Malet
  304 The Return of Tarzan              Edgar Rice Burroughs
  313 The Wall Street Girl           Frederick Orin Bartlett
  315 The Flying Inn                        G. K. Chesterton
  316 Whom God Hath Joined                    Arnold Bennett
  318 An Affair of State                        J. C. Snaith
  320 The Dweller on the Threshold            Robert Hichens
  325 A Set of Six                             Joseph Conrad
  329 '1914'                                    John Oxenham
  330 The Fortune of Christina McNab          S. Macnaughtan
  334 Bellamy                                Elinor Mordaunt
  343 The Shadow of Victory                      Myrtle Reed
  344 This Woman to this Man      C. N. and A. M. Williamson
  345 Something Fresh                        P. G. Wodehouse

  A short Selection only.


Uniform with this Volume

   36 De Profundis                               Oscar Wilde
   37 Lord Arthur Savile's Crime                 Oscar Wilde
   38 Selected Poems                             Oscar Wilde
   39 An Ideal Husband                           Oscar Wilde
   40 Intentions                                 Oscar Wilde
   41 Lady Windermere's Fan                      Oscar Wilde
   77 Selected Prose                             Oscar Wilde
   85 The Importance of Being Earnest            Oscar Wilde
  146 A Woman of No Importance                   Oscar Wilde
   43 Harvest Home                               E. V. Lucas
   44 A Little of Everything                     E. V. Lucas
   78 The Best of Lamb                           E. V. Lucas
  141 Variety Lane                               E. V. Lucas
  292 Mixed Vintages                             E. V. Lucas
   45 Vailima Letters                 Robert Louis Stevenson
   80 Selected Letters                Robert Louis Stevenson
   46 Hills and the Sea                       Hilaire Belloc
   96 A Picked Company                        Hilaire Belloc
  193 On Nothing                              Hilaire Belloc
  226 On Everything                           Hilaire Belloc
  254 On Something                            Hilaire Belloc
   47 The Blue Bird                      Maurice Maeterlinck
  214 Select Essays                      Maurice Maeterlinck
   50 Charles Dickens                       G. K. Chesterton
   94 All Things Considered                 G. K. Chesterton
   54 The Life of John Ruskin              W. G. Collingwood
   57 Sevastopol and other Stories               Leo Tolstoy
   91 Social Evils and their Remedy              Leo Tolstoy
  223 Two Generations                            Leo Tolstoy
  253 My Childhood and Boyhood                   Leo Tolstoy
  286 My Youth                                   Leo Tolstoy
   58 The Lore of the Honey-Bee             Tickner Edwardes
   63 Oscar Wilde                             Arthur Ransome
   64 The Vicar of Morwenstow                S. Baring-Gould
   76 Home Life in France                  M. Betham-Edwards
   83 Reason and Belief                     Sir Oliver Lodge
   93 The Substance of Faith                Sir Oliver Lodge
  116 The Survival of Man                   Sir Oliver Lodge
  284 Modern Problems                       Sir Oliver Lodge
   95 The Mirror of the Sea                    Joseph Conrad
  126 Science from an Easy Chair           Sir Ray Lankester
  149 A Shepherd's Life                         W. H. Hudson
  200 Jane Austen and her Times                 G. E. Mitton
  218 R. L. S.                                  Francis Watt
  234 Records and Reminiscences          Sir Francis Burnand
  285 The Old Time Parson                   P. H. Ditchfield
  287 The Customs of Old England                 F. J. Snell

  A Selection only.

       *       *       *       *       *



MORE SCIENCE FROM AN EASY CHAIR

_First Issued in this Cheap Form in 1920_

  _Originally published by Messrs. Adlard & Son in     1913_
  _First published by Methuen & Co. Ltd.               1914_
  _Second Edition                                      1915_
  _Third Edition                                       1920_



PREFACE


The present volume is a reprint of that issued in 1912 with the title,
"Science from an Easy Chair: Second Series." It consists, like its
predecessors, of chapters originally published by me in the _Daily
Telegraph_, which I have revised and illustrated by a large number of
drawings. In order to render the issue of the present cheap edition
possible, it has been found necessary to restrict its size a little by
the omission of chapters dealing with Glaciers, Ferns and Fern-seed,
and the history of the Sea-squirts or Ascidians, which are contained
in the original larger book. My hope is that this collection of
papers, "about a number of things," may meet with as kind a reception
from my readers as that which they have accorded to its predecessors.

E. RAY LANKESTER

_July 1, 1920_



CONTENTS


  CHAPTER                                                       PAGE

  I. A DAY IN THE OBERLAND                                         1

  Fertilization of Sage--The Edelweiss--The Jungfrau's
  Breast--Contortions of Rock-strata--The Jungfrau
  Railway--Mountain Sickness.

  II. SWITZERLAND IN EARLY SUMMER                                 13

  Alpine Flowers--Flowers of the Meadows and Woods--The
  Herb Paris.

  III. GLETSCH                                                    19

  From Baveno to the Rhone Glacier--A Glacier by the
  Roadside--Changes in the Glacier.

  IV. THE PROBLEM OF THE GALLOPING HORSE                          25

  The Cinematograph--Ancient Representations of Gallop--The
  Dog in Mycenæan Art--What ought an Artist
  to do?--Attention as a Condition of Seeing--Judgment
  and Prejudice--Natural and Artificial Paces--Photographs
  by Electric Spark--Use of Instantaneous
  Photographs--Errors as to the Size of the Moon--The
  Painter and the Moon--The Moon on the Stage.

  V. THE JEWEL IN THE TOAD'S HEAD                                 55

  The Decay of Credulity--A Sceptical Physician--How
  to Test a Toadstone--Other Magical Stones--Medicinal
  and Magical Stones.

  VI. ELEPHANTS                                                   65

  The Indian and the African Elephant--Size of Modern
  Elephants--Ears and Teeth of Elephants--Earliest
  Elephants brought to Europe--The Elephant's Legs--Tusks
  used in Digging--Elephants used in War--Geological
  Strata since the Chalk--Ancestral Mammals--The
  Typical or Ancestral Set of Teeth--The
  Peculiarities of the Teeth of Elephants--Extinct
  Relatives of Elephants--Ancestors of Elephants--Origin
  of the Elephant's Trunk.

  VII. A STRANGE EXTINCT BEAST                                    92

  Fossil Skeletons and Jaw-bones--The Skull and Teeth
  of Goats--The Teeth of Rats--The Rat-toothed
  Goat--Origin of the Rat-toothed Goat.

  VIII. VEGETARIANS AND THEIR TEETH                              102

  Teeth of Carnivors--Mixed Diets--Disease-germs in
  Food.

  IX. FOOD AND COOKERY                                           113

  Special Diet of Various Races--Food and Habit--Nervous
  Control of Digestion--Wholesale Food and
  Mechanical Cookery--The Burnt Offering of the
  Jews--Women Neglect Cookery--A Great German's
  Appreciation.

  X. SMELLS AND PERFUMES                                         126

  Smells and Memory--Accidental Qualities--Bacteria and
  Smells--Some Remarkable Smells.

  XI. KISSES                                                     134

  Kissing and Smelling--Variations in the Sense of
  Smell--Radiation and Odours--Attraction by Smell--Unconscious
  Guidance by Smell.

  XII. LAUGHTER                                                  144

  Why do we Laugh?--Varieties of Laughter--The
  Laugh of Escape from Death--The Laugh of
  Derision.

  XIII. FATHERLESS FROGS                                         152

  Fertilization of the Egg-cell--Egg-cells Developing
  Unfertilized--M. Bataillon's Discovery.

  XIV. PRIMITIVE BELIEFS ABOUT FATHERLESS PROGENY                159

  Harvey and Milton--Reproduction by Budding--Stories
  of Virgin Births--Spiritual Theory of Conception.

  XV. THE PYGMY RACES OF MEN                                     167

  Characteristics of Pygmies--Colour of the Skin--Egyptian
  Stories of Pygmies--Congo and New
  Guinea Pygmies--The Causes of Small Size--Smallness
  a Correlation.

  XVI. PREHISTORIC PETTICOATS                                    180

  Early Carvings and Pictures--Paintings in Caverns--Painting
  of Human Figures--Artistic Sympathy--Aurignacians
  and Bushmen Allied.

  XVII. NEW YEAR'S DAY AND THE CALENDAR                          191

  Make-believe and New Year--Divisions of Time--The
  Difficulties of the Calendar--Pope Gregory's Ten
  Days--The Astronomer Royal and the Shah.

  XVIII. EASTERTIDE, SHAMROCKS AND SPERMACETI                    201

  The Real Shamrock--Sham Shamrock--Leonardo or
  Lucas?--Various Fats.

  XIX. MUSEUMS                                                   209

  The Muses--The Museum of Alexandria--Picture Galleries
  and Museums--The Purposes of Museums--The
  First Business of Museums--National Value of
  Museums--University Museums--Not for Children but
  for Adults--Screens and Electric Lifts--Frames and
  Setting of Pictures.

  XX. THE SECRET OF A TERRIBLE DISEASE                           227

  The Angel of Death--The Tyranny of Parasites--Typhus
  and Monkeys--Typhus Fever in Russia.

  XXI. CARRIERS OF DISEASE                                       235

  The Entrance of Parasites--Man as a Carrier of
  Disease--House Flies and Disease.

  XXII. IMMUNITY AND CURATIVE INOCULATIONS                       241

  Inoculation of Smallpox--Antitoxins--The Wonderful
  Properties of Blood--Germ-killing Poisons in the
  Blood--Opsonins or Sauce for Germs.

  XXIII. THE STRANGE STORY OF ANIMAL LIFE IN NEW ZEALAND         251

  Strange Birds--Destroyed by Europeans--Introduced
  Animals.

  XXIV. THE EFFACEMENT OF NATURE BY MAN                          259

  Disappearance of Great Animals--Man's Reckless
  Greed--Hope in Irrigation.

  XXV. THE EXTINCTION OF THE BISON AND OF WHALES                 266

  Drowning in a Dead Whale's Heart--The Value of
  Whalebone--No more Turtle Soup.

  XXVI. MORE ABOUT WHALES                                        273

  The Shape of Whales--Enormous Pressure of Gas in
  the Blood--The Killer and the Narwhal--Fossil
  Whales.

  XXVII. MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT SCIENCE                            281

  What Science does not explain--Darwin's Theory is
  adequate--The Aquosity of Water--Need for Interpreters
  of Science--The Exploded Ghost called
  "Caloric"--Nightmares Destroyed by Science--When
  did the Soul arrive?--The Great Silence.



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


FIGURES

 FIG.                                                           PAGE

   1. Flower of the Yellow Sage                                    4

   2. The Edelweiss                                                5

   3. "Folding" of Rock Strata                                     8

   4. A Man Extracting the Jewel from a Toad's Head               58

   5. The Palate of the Fossil Fish Lepidotus                     60

   6. The Indian Elephant                                         66

   7. The African Elephant                                        67

   8. The Crowns of Three "Grinders" or Molars of
      Elephants Compared                                          71

   9. Skeleton of the Indian Elephant                             81

  10. The Teeth in the Upper and Lower Jaw-bone of the
      Common Pig                                                  84

  11. A Reconstruction of the Extinct American Mastodon           86

  12. Skull and Restored Outline of the Head of the Long-jawed
      Extinct Elephant called Tetrabelodon                        87

  13. Head of the Ancestral Elephant--Palæomastodon               89

  14. Restored Model of the Skull and Lower Jaw of the
      Ancestral Elephant--Palæomastodon                           90

  15. Head of the Early Ancestor of Elephants--Meritherium--as
      it appeared in life                                         91

  16. Skull and Lower Jaw of a Goat                               94

  17. Teeth in the Lower and Upper Jaw of the Goat                95

  18. Skull of a Typical "Rodent" Mammal, the Coypu Rat           96

  19. Teeth of the Coypu Rat                                      97

  20. Skull of the Rat-toothed Goat, Myotragus                    99

  21. Skull of a Clouded Tiger                                   103

  22. Teeth of the Lower and Upper Jaw of the same
      Clouded Tiger's Skull                                      104

  23. Figure from a Group Drawn on a Greek Vase                  171

  24. Group of Women Clothed in Jacket and Skirt
      with "Wasp-like" Waists                                    185

  25. Further Portion of same Group as Fig. 24                   186



PLATES


     I. Consecutive Poses of the Galloping Horse                  27

    II. Various Representations of the Gallop                     29

   III. Representations of the Gallop                             31

    IV. The Track of the Rising Moon                              49

     V. Three Figures--Lord Lansdowne, Mr. Lloyd George,
        and Mr. Asquith                                           52

    VI. Teeth of the Upper and Lower Jaw of Man                  108

   VII. Teeth of the Upper and Lower Jaw of the Gibbon           110

  VIII. Votary or Priestess of the Goddess to whom Snakes
        were Sacred                                              188

    IX. Fresco Drawing of Two Female Acrobats                    190



MORE SCIENCE FROM AN EASY CHAIR



CHAPTER I

A DAY IN THE OBERLAND


I am writing in early September from Interlaken, one of the loveliest
spots in Europe when blessed with a full blaze of sunlight and only a
few high-floating clouds, but absolutely detestable in dull, rainy
weather, losing its beauty as the fairy scenes of a theatre do when
viewed by dreary daylight. It is the case of the little girl of whom
it is recorded that "When she was good she was very good, and when she
was not she was horrid." This morning, after four days' misconduct,
Interlaken was very good. The tremendous sun-blaze seemed to fill the
valleys with a pale blue luminous vapour, cut sharply by the shadows
of steep hill-sides. Here and there the smoke of some burning weeds
showed up as brightest blue. Far away through the gap formed in the
long range of nearer mountains, where the Lütschine Valley opens into
the vale of Interlaken, the Jungfrau appeared in full majesty,
absolutely brilliant and unearthly. So I walked towards her up the
valley. Zweilütschinen is the name given to the spot where the valley
divides into two, that to the left leading up to Grindelwald, under
the shadow of the Mönch and the Wetterhorn, that to the right bringing
one to Lauterbrünnen and the Staubbach waterfall, with the snow-fields
of the Tchingel finally closing the way--over which I climbed years
ago to Ried in the Loetschen Thal.

The autumn crocus was already up in many of the closely trimmed little
meadows, whilst the sweet scent of the late hay-crop spread from the
newly cut herbage of others.

At Zweilütschinen, where the white glacier-torrent unites with the
black, and the milky stream is nearly as cold as ice, and is boiling
along over huge rocks, its banks bordered with pine forest, I came
upon a native fishing for trout. He was using a short rod and a
weighted line with a small "grub" as bait. He dropped his line into
the water close to the steep bank, where some projecting rock or
half-sunk boulder staved off the violence of the stream. He had
already caught half-a-dozen beautiful, red-spotted fish, which he
carried in a wooden tank full of water, with a close-fitting lid to
prevent their jumping out. I saw him take a seventh. The largest must
have weighed nearly two pounds. It seems almost incredible that fish
should inhabit water so cold, so opaque, and so torrential, and should
find there any kind of nourishment. They make their way up by keeping
close to the bank, and are able, even in that milky current, to
perceive and snatch the unfortunate worm or grub which has been washed
into the flood and is being hurried along at headlong speed. Only the
trout has the courage, strength, and love of nearly freezing water
necessary for such a life--no other fish ventures into such
conditions. Trout are actually caught in some mountain pools at a
height of 8,000 ft., edged by perpetual snow.

You are rarely given trout to eat here in the hotels. A lake fish,
called "ferras," a large species of the salmonid genus _Coregonus_, to
which the skelly, powan, and vendayce of British lakes belong, is the
commonest fish of the _table d'hôte_, and not very good. A better one
is the perch-pike or zander. It is common in all the larger shallow
lakes of Central Europe, and abounds in the "broads" which extend from
Potsdam to Hamburg, though it is unknown in the British Isles. It is
quite the best of the European fresh-water fish for the table, and
there should be no difficulty about introducing it into the Norfolk
Broads. It would be worth an effort on the part of the Board of
Agriculture and Fisheries to do so, as the perch-pike, unlike other
fresh-water fishes, would hold its own on the market against haddock,
brill, and plaice. Another interesting fresh-water fish which grows to
a large size in the Lake of Geneva (where I have seen it netted) is
the burbot--called "lote" in French--a true cod of fresh-water habit
which, though common throughout Europe and Northern Asia, is, in our
country, only taken in a few rivers opening on the east coast. It is a
brilliantly coloured fish, orange-brown, mottled with black, and is
very good eating.

Passing up the Lauterbrünnen valley, I came upon some wild raspberries
and quantities of the fine, large-flowered sage, _Salvia glutinosa_,
with its yellow flowers, in shape like those of the dead-nettle, but
much bigger. They were being visited by humble-bees, and I was able to
see the effective mechanism at work by which the bee's body is dusted
with the pollen of the flower. I have illustrated this in some
drawings (Fig. 1) which are accompanied by a detailed explanation. Two
long stamens, _a1_, arch high up over the lip of the flower, _li_, on
which the bee alights, and are protected by a keel or hood of the
corolla. Each stamen is provided with a broad process, _a2_, standing
out low down on its arched stalk, and blocking the way to the nectar
in the cup of the flower. When the bee pushes his head against these
obstacles and forces them backwards, the result is to swing the long
arched stalk, with its pollen sacks, in the opposite direction,
namely, forwards and downwards on to the bee's back. It was easy to
see this movement going on, and the consequent dusting of the bee's
back with pollen. In somewhat older flowers, which have been relieved
of their pollen, the style, _st._, or free stalk-like extremity of the
egg-holding capsule, already as long as the stamens, grows longer and
bends down towards the lip or landing-place of the yellow flower. When
a pollen-dusted bee alights on one of these maturer flowers the sticky
end of the now depending style is gently rubbed by the bee's back and
smeared with a few pollen-grains brought by the bee from a distant
flower. These rapidly expand into "pollen tubes," or filaments, and,
penetrating the long style, reach the egg-germs below. Thus
cross-fertilization is brought about by the bees which come for the
nectar of _Salvia_. The stalks and outer parts of the flower of this
plant produce a very sticky secretion which effectually prevents any
small insects from crawling up and helping themselves to the nectar
exclusively provided for the attraction of the humble-bee, whose
services are indispensable.

[Illustration: Fig. 1.--Diagrams of the flower of the yellow sage
(_Salvia glutinosa_) a little larger than life. 1. An entire flower
seen from the side. _st._ The stigma, _a2_. The pair of modified
half-anthers which are pushed back by the bee when inserting its head
into the narrow part of the flower. 2. A similar flower at a later
stage when the stigma, _st._, has grown downwards so as to touch the
back of a bee alighting on the lip of the flower, and gather pollen
from it. 3. Diagram of one of the two stamens. _f._ The stalk or
filament of the stamen. _a1_. The pollen-producing half-anther, _eo._
The elongated connective joining it to the sterile half-anther. 4.
Section through a flower showing _ov._ the ovary; _nec._ the nectary
or honey-glands; _st._ the style; _li._ the lip of the flower on which
the bee alights. 5. Similar section showing the effect of the pushing
back of _a2_ by the bee, and the downward swinging of the
polliniferous half-anther so as to dust the bee's back with pollen.
The dotted arrow shows the direction of the push given by the bee.]

[Illustration: Fig. 2.--The Edelweiss, _Gnaphalium leontopodium_.]

As I walked on, a belated Apollo butterfly, with its two red spots,
and a pale Swallow-tail fluttered by me. Then some children emerged
from unsuspected lurking-places in the wood and offered bunches of
edelweiss (Fig. 2). This curious-looking little plant does not grow
(as pretended by reporters of mountaineering disasters) exclusively in
places only to be reached by a dangerous climb. I have gathered it in
meadows on the hillside above Zermatt, and it is common enough in
accessible spots. The flowers are like those of our English groundsel
and yellow in colour--little "composite" knobs, each built up of many
tubular "florets" packed side by side. Six or seven of these little
short-stalked knobs of florets are arranged in a circlet around a
somewhat larger knob, and each of them gives off from its stalk one
long and two shorter white, hairy, leaf-like growths, flat and
blade-like in shape and spreading outwards from the circle, so that
the whole series resemble the rays of a star (or more truly of a
star-fish!). They look strangely artificial, as though cut out of new
white flannel (with a greenish tint), and have been dignified
by the comparison of the shape of the white-flannel rays with that
of the foot of the lion and the claws of the eagle. They are
extraordinary-looking little plants, and are similar in their
hairiness and pale tint to some of the seaside plants on our own
coast, which, in fact, include species closely allied to them
("cud-weeds" of the genus _Gnaphalium_).

The huge cliffs of rocks on either side (in some parts over a thousand
feet in sheer height from the torrent) come closer to one another in
the part where we now are than in most Alpine valleys, so as almost to
give it the character of a "gorge." At some points the highest part of
the precipice actually overhangs the perpendicular face by many feet.
A refreshing cold air comes up from the icy torrent, whilst the heat
of the sun diffuses the delicious resinous scent of the pine trees.
Above the naked rock we see steep hill-sides covered with forest, and
away above these again bare grass-slopes topped by cloud. But as the
clouds slowly lift and break we become suddenly aware of something
impending far above and beyond all this, something more dazzling in
its white brightness than the sun-lit clouds, a form sharply cut in
outline and firm, yet rounded by a shadow of an exquisite purple tint
which no cloud can assume. The steely blue Alpine sky fits around this
marvel of pure whiteness as it towers through the opening cloud, and
soars out of earth's range. What is this glory so remote yet impending
over us? It is the Jungfrau, the incomparable virgin of the ice-world,
who bares her snowy breast. She slowly parts her filmy veil, and, as
we gaze, uncovers all her loveliness.

The rock walls of the Lauterbrünnen valley show at one place a
thickness of many hundred feet of strongly marked, perfectly
horizontal "strata"--the layers deposited immense ages ago at the
bottom of a deep sea. Not only have they been raised to this position,
and then cut into, so as to make the profound furrow or valley in the
sides of which we see them, but they have been bent and contorted in
places to an extent which is, at first sight, incredible. Close to one
great precipice of orderly horizontal layers you see the whole series
suddenly turned up at right angles, and the same strata which were
horizontal have become perpendicular. But that is not the limit, for
the upturned strata are seen actually to turn right over, and again
become horizontal in a reversed order, the strata which were the
lowest becoming highest, and the highest lowest. The rock is rolled up
just as a flat disc of Genoese pastry--consisting of alternate layers
of jam and sponge-cake--is folded on itself to form a double
thickness. The forces at work capable of treating the solid rocks, the
foundations of the great mountains, in this way are gigantic beyond
measurement. This folding of the earth's crust is caused by the fact
that the "crust," or skin of the earth, has ceased to cool, being
warmed by the sun, and therefore does not shrink, whilst the great
white-hot mass within (in comparison with which the twenty-mile-thick
crust is a mere film) continually loses heat, and shrinks definitely
in volume as its temperature sinks. The crust or jacket of stratified
rock deposited by the action of the waters on the surface of the globe
has been compelled--at whatever cost, so to speak--to fit itself to
the diminishing "core" on which it lies. Slowly, but steadily, this
"settlement" has gone on, and is going on. The horizontal rock layers,
being now too great in length and breadth, adjust themselves by
"buckling"--just as a too large, ill-fitting dress does--and the Alps,
the Himalayas, and other great mountain ranges, are regions where this
"buckling" process has for countless ages proceeded, slowly but
surely. Probably the "buckling" has proceeded to a large extent
without sudden movement, but with a lateral pressure of such power as
ultimately to throw a crust of thousands of feet thickness into deep
folds a mile or so in vertical measurement from crest to hollow,
protruding from the general level both upwards and downwards, whilst
often the folds are rolled over on to each other.

[Illustration: Fig. 3.--Diagrams to show the "folding" of rock strata.
A. Normal horizontal position of the strata, _a_, _b_, _c_, _d_; _xy_,
horizontal line. B. Folding due to a shortening of the horizontal _xy_
by lateral pressure, acting in the direction of the arrow and due to
shrinkage. C. More extreme case of folding, in which a raised ridge is
made to fall over so as to bring the lowest layer _d_ above _a_, _b_
and _c_.]

This crumbling and folding has gone on at great depths--that is to
say, some miles below the surface (a mere nothing compared with the
8,000 miles diameter of the globe itself), though we now see the
results exposed, like the pastry folded by a cook. Immense time has
been taken in the process. A folding movement involving a vertical
rise of an inch in ten years would not be noticed by human onlookers,
but in 600,000 years this would give you a vertical displacement of
more than 5,000 ft. (nearly a mile!). It has been shown that in
Switzerland, along a line of country extending from Basle to Milan,
strata of 10,000 ft. to 20,000 ft. in thickness, which, if
straightened out, would give a flat area of that thickness, and of 200
miles in length, have been buckled and folded so as to occupy only a
length of 130 miles! The former tight-fitting skin of horizontal rock
layers has "had to" buckle to that extent here (and in the same way in
other mountain ranges in other parts of the world), because the whole
terrestrial sphere has shrunk, owing to the gradual cooling of the
mass, whilst the crust has not shrunk, not having lost heat.

Filled with interest and delight in these things, I reached the
railway station at Lauterbrünnen, from whence the little train is
driven far up the mountain, even into the very heart of the Jungfrau,
by an electric current generated by a turbine, itself driven by the
torrent at our feet, the waters of which have descended from the
glaciers far above, to which it will carry us. In a few minutes I was
gently gliding in the train up the to the "Wengern Alp" and the
"Little Scheidegg"--a slope up which I have so often in former years
painfully struggled on foot for four hours or more. One could to-day
watch the whole scene, in ease and comfort, during the two hours'
ascent of the train. And a marvellous scene it is as one rises to the
height of 8,000 ft., skirting the glaciers which ooze down the rocky
sides of the Jungfrau, and mounting far above some of them. At the
Scheidegg I changed into a smaller train, and with some thirty
fellow-passengers was carried higher and higher by the faithful,
untiring electric current. After a quarter of an hour's progress we
paused high above the "snout" of the great Eiger glacier, and
descended by a short path on to it, examined the ice, its crevasses
and layers, and its "glacier-grains," and watched and heard an
avalanche. The last time I was here it took a couple of hours to reach
this spot from the Scheidegg, and probably neither I nor any of my
fellow-passengers could to-day endure the necessary fatigue of
reaching this spot on foot. Then we remounted the train, and on we
went into the solid rock of the huge Eiger. The train stops in the
rock tunnel and we got out to look, through an opening cut in its
side, down the sheer wall of the mountain on to the grassy meadows
thousands of feet below.

Then we start again, and on we are driven by the current generated
away down there in Lauterbrünnen, through the spiral tunnel, mounting
a thousand feet more till we are landed at an opening cut on the
further side of the rocky Eiger, which admits us to an actual footing
on the great glacier called the Eismeer, or Icelake. We lunch at a
restaurant cut out as a cavern in the solid rock, and survey the
wondrous scene. We are now at a height of 10,000 feet, and in the real
frozen ice-world, hitherto accessible only to the young and vigorous.
I have been there in my day with pain, danger, and labour, accompanied
by guides and held up by ropes, but never till now with perfect ease
and tranquillity and without "turning a hair," or causing either man
or beast to labour painfully on my behalf. We had taken two hours only
from Lauterbrünnen; in former days we should have started in the small
hours of the morning from the Scheidegg, and have climbed through many
dangers for some six or seven hours before reaching this spot.

I confess that I am not enchanted with all of the modern appliances
for saving time and labour--the telegraph, the telephone, the
automobile, and the aeroplane. But these mountain railways fill me
with satisfaction and gratitude. When the Jungfrau railway was first
projected, some athletic Englishmen with heavy boots and ice-axes,
protested against the "desecration" of regions till then accessible
only to them and to me, and others of our age and strength. They
declared that the scenery would be injured by the railway and its
troops of "tourists." As well might they protest against the
desecration caused by the crawling of fifty house-flies on the dome of
St. Paul's. These mountains and glaciers are so vast, and men with
their railroads so small, that the latter are negligible in the
presence of the former. No disfiguring effect whatever is produced by
these mountain railways; the trains have even ceased to emit smoke
since they were worked by electricity. I quite agree with those who
object to "funiculars." The carriages on these are hauled up long,
straight gashes in the mountain side, which have a hideous and
disfiguring appearance. But I look forward with pleasure to the
completion of the Jungfrau railway to the summit. I hope that the
Swiss engineers will carry it through the mountain, and down along the
side of the great Aletsch glacier to the Bel Alp and so to Brieg. That
would be a glorious route to the Simplon tunnel and Italy!

I took three hours in the unwearied train descending from the Eismeer
to Interlaken, and was back in my hotel in comfortable time for
dinner, "mightily content with the day's journey," as Mr. Pepys would
have said. I have always been sensitive to the action of diminished
pressure, which produces what is called "mountain sickness" in many
people. Many years ago I climbed by the glacier-pass known as the
Weissthor from Macugnaga to the Riffel Alp, with a stylographic pen in
my pocket. The reservoir of the pen contained a little air, which
expanded as the atmospheric pressure diminished, and at 10,000 feet I
found most of the ink emptied into my pocket. Probably one cause of
the discomfort called "mountain sickness" arises from a similar
expansion of gas contained in the digestive canal, and in the
cavities connected with the ear and nose. The more suddenly the change
of pressure is effected, the more noticeable is the discomfort. But I
was rather pleased than otherwise to note, as I sat in the comfortable
railway carriage, that when we passed 8,000 feet in elevation the old
familiar giddiness, and tendency to sigh and gasp, came upon me
as of yore, as I gathered was the experience of some of my
fellow-passengers: and when we were returning, and had descended
half-way to Lauterbrünnen, I enjoyed the sense of restored ease in
breathing which I well remember when the whole experience was
complicated by the fatigue of a long climb. A white-haired American
lady was in the train with me ascending to the Eismeer. "I have longed
all my life," she said, "to see a glaysher--to touch it and walk on
it--and now I am going to do it at last. I and my daughter here have
come right away from America to go on these cars to the glaysher."
When we were descending, I asked the old lady if she had been pleased.
"I can hardly speak of it rightly," she said. "It seems to me as
though I have been standing up there on God's own throne." I do not
sympathise with the Alpine monopolist who would grudge that dear old
lady, and others like her, the little train and tramway by which alone
such people can penetrate to those soul-stirring scenes. They are at
least as sensitive to the beauty of the mountains as are the most
muscular, most long-winded, and most sun-blistered of our friends--the
acrobats of the rope and axe.

Interlaken
  _September, 1909_



CHAPTER II

SWITZERLAND IN EARLY SUMMER


It is the early summer of 1910 and I have but just returned from a
visit to Switzerland. The latter part of June and the beginning of
July is the best for a stay in that splendid and happy land if one is
a naturalist, and cares for the beauty of Alpine meadows, and of the
flowers which grow among and upon the rocks near the great glaciers.
This year the weather has, no doubt, been exceptionally cold and wet,
and at no great height (5,000 feet) we have had snow-storms, even in
July. But as compared with that of Paris and London the weather has
been delightful. There has been an abundance of magnificent sunshine,
and many days of full summer heat and cloudless sky. A fortnight ago
(July 16th), and on the day before, it was as hot and brilliant in the
valley of Chamonix as it can be. Mont Blanc and the Dome de Goutet
stood out clear and immaculate against a purple-blue sky, and, as of
old, we watched through the hotel telescope a party struggling, over
the snow to the highest peak.

At Chillon the lake of Geneva, day after day, spread out to us its
limitless surface of changing colour, now blending in one pearly
expanse with the sky--so that the distant felucca boats seemed to
float between heaven and earth--now streaked with emerald and
amethystine bands. The huge mountain masses rising with a vast sweep
from St. Jingo's shore displayed range after range of bloom-like greys
and purples, whilst far away and above delicately glittered--like some
incredible vision of a heavenly world beyond the sun-lit sky
itself--the apparition of the snows and rocks of the great Dents du
Midi. All this I have left behind me, and have passed back again to
dull grey Paris, to the stormy Channel, and to the winter of London's
July.

The incomparable pleasure which the lakes and valleys and mountains of
Switzerland are capable of giving is due to the combination of many
distinct sources of delight, each in itself of exceptional character.
A month ago, in bright sunshine, I went, once again, by the little
electric railway (most blessed invention of our day) from the
pine-shaded torrent below to the great Eiger rock-mountain, and
through its heart to the glacier beyond, more than 10,000 feet above
sea-level. On the way back I left the train at the foot of the Eiger
glacier, and walked down with my companion amongst the rocks of the
moraine and over the sparse turf of these highest regions of life.
Everywhere was a profusion of gentians, the larger and darker, as well
as the smaller, bluest of all blue flowers. The large, plump, yellow
globe-flowers (_Trollius_), the sulphur-yellow anemone, the glacial
white-and-pink buttercup, the Alpine dryad, the Alpine forget-me-nots
and pink primroses, the summer crocus, delicate hare-bells, and many
other flowers of goodly size were abundant. The grass of Parnassus and
the edelweiss were not yet in flower, but lower down the slopes the
Alpine rhododendron was showing its crimson bunches of blossom. It is
a pity that the Swiss call this plant "Alpenrose," since there is a
true and exquisite Alpine rose (which we often found) with deep red
flowers, dark-coloured foliage, and a rich, sweet-briar perfume.
Lovely as these larger flowers of the higher Alps are, they are
excelled in fascination by the delicate blue flowers of the
Soldanellas, like little fringed foolscaps, by the brilliant little
red and purple Alpine snap-dragon, and by the cushion-forming growths
of saxifrages and other minute plants which encrust the rocks and
bear, closely set in their compact, green, velvet-like foliage, tiny
flowers as brilliant as gems. A ruby-red one amongst these is "the
stalkless bladder-wort" (_Silene acaulis_), having no more resemblance
at first sight to the somewhat ramshackle bladder-wort of our fields
than a fairy has to a fishwife. There are many others of these
cushion-forming, diminutive plants, with white, blue, yellow, and pink
florets. Examined with a good pocket lens, they reveal unexpected
beauties of detail--so graceful and harmonious that one wonders that
no one has made carefully coloured pictures of them of ten times the
size of nature, and published them for all the world to enjoy. Busily
moving within their charmed circles we see, with our lens, minute
insects which, attracted by the honey, are carrying the pollen of one
flower to another, and effecting for these little pollen flowers what
bees and moths do for the larger species.

Thus we are reminded that all this loveliness, this exquisite beauty,
is the work of natural selection--the result of the survival of
favourable variations in the struggle for existence. These minute
symmetrical forms, this wax-like texture, these marvellous rows of
coloured, enamel-like encrustation, have been selected from almost
endless and limitless possible variations, and have been accumulated
and maintained there as they are in all their beauty, by survival of
the fittest--by natural selection. All beauty of living things, it
seems, is due to Nature's selection, and not only all beauty of colour
and form, but that beauty of behaviour and excellence of inner quality
which we call "goodness." The fittest, that which has survived and
will survive in the struggle of organic growth, is (we see it in these
flowers) in man's estimation the beautiful. Is it possible to doubt
that just as we approve and delightedly revel in the beauty created by
"natural selection," so we give our admiration and reverence, without
question, to "goodness," which also is the creation of Nature's great
unfolding? Goodness (shall we say virtue and high quality?) is, like
beauty, the inevitable product of the struggle of living things, and
is Nature's favourite no less than man's desire. When we know the ways
of Nature, we shall discover the source and meaning of beauty, whether
of body or of mind.

As these thoughts are drifting through our enchanted dream we suddenly
hear a deep and threatening roar from the mountain-side. We look up
and see an avalanche falling down the rocks of the Jungfrau. The vast
mountain, with its dazzling vestment of eternal snow, and its slowly
creeping, green-fissured glaciers, towers above into the cloudless
sky. In an instant the mind travels from the microscopic details of
organic beauty, which but a moment ago held it entranced, to the
contemplation of the gigantic and elemental force whose tremendous
work is even now going on close to where we stand. The contrast, the
range from the minute to the gigantic, is prodigious yet exhilarating,
and strangely grateful. How many millions of years did it take to form
those rocks (many of them are stratified, water-laid deposits) in the
depths of the ocean? How many more to twist and bend them and raise
them to their present height? And what inconceivably long persistence
of the wear and tear of frost and snow and torrent has it required to
excavate in their hard bosoms these deep, broad valleys thousands of
feet below us, and to leave these strangely moulded mountain peaks
still high above us? And that beauty of the sun-lit sky and of the
billowy ice-field and of the colours of the lake below and of the
luminous haze and the deep blue shade in the valley--how is that
related to the beauty of the flowers? Truly enough, it is not a beauty
called forth by natural selection. It is primordial; it is the beauty
of great light itself. The response to its charm is felt by every
living thing, even by the smallest green plant and the invisible
animalcule, as it is by man himself. As I stand on the mountain-side
we are all, from animalcule to man, sympathizing and uniting, as
members of one great race, in our adoration of the sun. And in doing
this we men are for the moment close to and in happy fellowship with
our beautiful, though speechless, relatives who also live. Even the
destructive bacteria which are killed by the sun probably enjoy an
exquisite shudder in the process which more than compensates them for
their extinction.

The pleasures of flower-seeking in Switzerland are by no means
confined to the great heights. At moderate heights (4,000 to 5,000
feet) you have the Alpine meadows, and below those the rich-soiled
woods which fill in the sides of the torrent-worn valleys. You cannot
see an Alpine meadow after July, as it is cut down by then. It is at
its best in June. It bears very little grass, and consists almost
entirely of flowers. In places the hare-bells and Canterbury bells and
the bugloss are so abundant as to make a whole valley-floor blue as in
MacWhirter's picture. But more often the blue is intermixed with the
balls of, red clover and the spikes of a splendid pale pink polygonum
(a sort of buckwheat) and of a very large and handsome plantain. Large
yellow gentians, mulleins, the nearly black and the purple orchids,
vetches of all colours, the Alpine clover with four or five enormous
flowers in a head instead of fifty little ones, the Astrantias (like a
circular brooch made up of fifty gems each mounted on a long elastic
wire and set vibrating side by side), the sky-blue forget-me-nots, and
the golden potentillas, are usually components of the Alpine meadow.
At Murren, and no doubt commonly elsewhere, there are a few very
beautiful grasses among the flowers, but the most remarkable grass is
one (_Poa alpina_), which has on every spikelet or head a bright green
serpent-like streamer. Each of these "streamers" is, in fact, a young
grass-plant, budded off "viviparously," as it is called, from the
flower-head, or "spikelet," and having nothing to do with the proper
fertilized seed or grain. The young plants so budded fall to the
ground, and striking root rapidly, grow into separate individuals. It
is probably owing to some condition in Alpine meadows adverse to the
production of fertilized seed that this viviparous method of
reproduction has been favoured, since it occurs also in an Alpine
meadow-plant allied to the buckwheat, namely, _Polygonum viviparum_
(not the kind mentioned above), where the lower flowers are converted
into little red bulbs, by which the plant propagates. Both the
viviparous grass and the polygonum are found in England. In fact, a
very large proportion of Alpine plants occur in parts of the British
islands (a legacy from the glacial period), though many which are
abundant in Switzerland are rare and local here.

At a lower level, in the woods, we come upon other plants, not really
"Alpine" at all, but of great and special beauty. We found four kinds
of winter-green (_Pirola_), one with a very large, solitary flower,
white and wax-like, and the beautiful white butterfly-orchid with
nectaries three quarters of an inch long, and other large-flowered
orchids. We were anxious to find the noble Martagon lily, and hunted
in many glades and forest borders for it. At last, concealed on a bank
in a wood, between Glion and Les Avants, it revealed itself in
quantity, many specimens standing over three feet in height. Martagon
is an Arabic word, signifying a Turkish cap. A very strange and
uncanny-looking lily, which I had never seen before, turned up near
Kandersteg at the Blue Lake, beloved of Mr. H. G. Wells. This is "the
Herb Paris." It has four narrow outstretched green sepals, and four
still narrower green petals, eight large stamens, and a purple seed
capsule. Its broad oval leaves are also arranged in whorls of four.
Its name has nothing to do with the "ville lumière," nor with the
Trojan judge of female beauty, but refers to the symmetry and "parity"
of its component parts. I was not surprised to find that "the Herb
Paris" is poisonous, and was anciently used in medicine. It looks
weird and deadly.

Marmots, glacier fleas (spring-tails, not true fleas), admirable
trout, and burbot (the fresh-water cod, called "lote" in French),
outrageous wood-gnats, which English people call by a Portuguese name
as soon as they are on the Continent, and singing birds (usually one
is too late in the season to hear them) were our zoological
accompaniment. There were singularly few butterflies or other insects,
probably in consequence of the previous wet weather.

_July, 1909_



CHAPTER III

GLETSCH


Varied and uncertain as the weather was in Switzerland during July of
the year 1910, it showed a more decided character when I returned
there at the end of August. For three weeks there was no flood of
sunshine, no blazing of a cloudless blue sky, which is the one
condition necessary to the perfection of the beauty of Swiss
mountains, valleys and lakes. The Oberland was grey and shapeless, the
Lauterbrünnen valley chilly and threatening; even the divine Jungfrau
herself, when not altogether obliterated by the monotonous,
impenetrable cloud, loomed in steely coldness--"a sterile promontory."
Crossing the mountains from the Lake of Thun, we came to Montreux,
only to find the pearl-like surface of the great Lake Leman
transformed into lead. Not once in eight days did the celestial
fortress called Les Dents du Midi reveal its existence, although we
knew it was there, immensely high and remote, far away above the great
buttresses of the Rhone valley. So completely was it blotted out by
the conversion of that most excellent canopy, the air, into a foul and
pestilent congregation of vapours, that it was difficult to imagine
that it was still existing, and perhaps even glowing in sunshine above
the pall of cloud. Italy, surely, we thought, would be free from this
dreadful gloom.

The southern slopes of the Alps are often cloudless when the colder
northern valleys are overhung with impenetrable mist. In four hours
you can pass now from the Lake of Geneva through the hot Simplon
Tunnel to the Lago Maggiore. So, hungering for sunshine, we packed,
and ran in the ever-ready train through to Baveno. Thirty years ago we
should have had to drive over the Simplon--a beautiful drive, it is
true--but we should have taken sixteen hours in actually travelling
from Montreux, and have had to pass a night _en route_ at Brieg! A
treacherous gleam of sunshine lasting half an hour welcomed us on
emerging from the Simplon tunnel, and then for eight days the same
leaden aspect of sky, mountain, and lake as that which we had left in
Switzerland was maintained. Even this could not spoil altogether the
beauty and interest of the fine old garden of the Borromeo family on
the Isola Bella. Really big cypress trees, magnificent specimens of
the Weymouth pine--the white pine of the United States, _Pinus
strobus_, first brought from the St. Lawrence in 1705, and planted in
Wiltshire by Lord Weymouth--a splendid camphor tree, strange varieties
of the hydrangea, and many other old-fashioned shrubs adorn the quaint
and well-designed terraces of that seat of ancient peace. The granite
quarries close behind Baveno, and the cutting and chiselling of the
granite by a population of some 2,000 quarrymen and stonemasons, were
not deprived of their human interest by rain and skies more grey than
the granite itself. But, at last, we gave up Italy in despair,
retreated through the tunnel one morning, and an hour after mid-day
were careering in a carriage along the Rhone valley--with jingling of
bells and much cracking of a harmless whip--upwards on a drive of
seven hours to the Rhone glacier, to the hotel called "Gletsch,"
staking all on the last chance of a change in the weather.

We passed the enclosed meadow near Brieg, whence three days later the
splendidly daring South-American aviator started on his flight across
the Alps, only to die after victory--a hero, whose courage and fatal
triumph were worthy of a better cause. After some hours, passing many
a black-timbered mountain village--the houses of which, set on stone
piles, are the direct descendants of the pile-supported lake dwellings
of the Stone Age on the shores of the Lake of Neuchatel--we came to
the upper and narrower part of the valley. The road ascended by
zig-zags through pine forests, in which the large blue gentian, with
flowers and leaves in double rows on a gracefully bowed stem, were
abundant. In open places the barberry, with its dense clusters of
crimson fruit, was so abundant as actually to colour the landscape,
whilst a huge yellow mullen nearly as big as a hollyhock, and bright
Alpine "pinks," were there in profusion. Before the night fell, a
long, furry animal, twice the size of a squirrel, and of dark brown
colour, crossed the road with a characteristic undulating movement, a
few feet in front of our carriage. It was a pine-marten, the largest
of the weasel and pole-cat tribe, still to be found in our own north
country. It must not be confused with the paler beech-marten of Anne
of Brittany, which often takes up its abode in the roofs of Breton
houses, according to my own experience in Dinard and the
neighbourhood. Night fell, and our horses were still toiling up the
mountain road. Impenetrable chasms lay below, and vast precipices
above us. We crossed a bridge, and seemed in the darkness to plunge
into the sheer rock itself, and, though thrilled with a delightful
sense of mystery and awe, were feeling a little anxiety at the
prospect of another hour among these gloomy, intangible dangers, when
we rounded a projecting rock, and suddenly a brilliant constellation
burst into view in the sky. It was the electric outfit of the
Belvedere Hotel, 7,500 feet above the sea, and far up more than a
thousand feet above us and the glacier's snout. In another minute the
great arc lamps of the Gletsch Hotel, close to us, blazed forth, and
we were welcomed into its snug hall and warmed by the great log-fire
burning on its hospitable hearth.

The next day we were early afoot in the most brilliant sunshine, under
a cloudless sky--really perfect Alpine weather. In the shade the
persisting night-frost told of the great height of the marvellous
amphitheatre which lay before us. The valley by which we had mounted
the previous night abruptly abandons its steep gradient and gorge-like
character, and widens into a flat, boulder-strewn plain, a little over
a mile in diameter, surrounded, except for the narrow gap by which we
had entered, by the steep, rocky sides of huge mountains. At the far
end of the plain, a mile off, the great Rhone glacier comes toppling
over the precipice, a snowy white, frozen cascade of a thousand feet
in height. It looks even nearer than it is, and the gigantic teeth of
white ice at the top of the fall seem no bigger than sentry-boxes,
though we know they are more nearly the size of church steeples. The
celebrated Furca road zig-zags up the mountain side for a thousand
feet close to the glacier, and when you drive up it and reach the
height of the Belvedere, you can step on to the ice close to the road.
Then you can mount on to the flat, unbroken surface of the broad
glacier stream above the fall, and trace the glacier to the
snow-covered mountain-tops in which it originates. There is no such
close and intimate view of a glacier to be had elsewhere in Europe by
the traveller in diligence or carriage. We walked by the side of the
infant Rhone, among the pebbles and boulders, to the overhanging snout
of the great glacier from beneath which the river emerges. A very
beautiful wine-red species of dwarf willow-herb (_Epilobium
Fleischeri_) was growing abundantly in tufts among the pebbles, and
many other Alpine plants greeted our eyes. The heat of the sun was
that of midsummer, whilst a delicate air of icy freshness diffused
itself from the great frozen mass in front of us.

Some large blocks of the glacier ice had fallen from above, and lay
conveniently for examination. Whilst the walls of the ice-caves which
have been cut into this and other glaciers present a perfectly smooth,
continuous surface of clear ice, these fragments which had fallen from
the surface exposed to the heat of the sun, were, as seen in the mass,
white and opaque. When a stick was thrust into the mass, it broke into
many-sided lumps of the size of a tennis-ball, which separated, and
fell apart in a heap, like assorted coals thrown from a scuttle,
though white instead of black. These were the curious glacier nodules,
"grains du glacier," or "Gletcherkörne," characteristic of glacier ice
as contrasted with lake ice. This structure of the glacier ice is
peculiar to it, and is only made evident where the sun's rays
penetrate it and melt the less pure ice which holds together the
crystalline nodules. According to Dr. J. Young Buchanan, these nodules
are masses of ice crystals comparatively free from mineral matter,
whilst the water around them, which freezes less readily, contains
mineral impurities in solution. The presence of saline matter in
solution lowers, in proportion to its amount, the freezing-point of
the water. Accordingly, although frozen into one solid mass with the
nodules, the cementing ice melts under the heat of the penetrating
rays of the sun sooner--that is, at a lower temperature--than do the
purer crystalline nodules, and allows them to separate. It is owing to
this that the exposed surface of glacier ice is white and powdery,
disintegrated by the superficial heat, and forming a rough surface, on
which one can safely walk. Lake ice does not break up in this manner
under the sun's rays, but as it melts retains its smooth, slippery
surface. It is formed in water, and not from the cementing and
regelation of the powdery crystalline snow, as is glacier ice.

Pictures of the Rhone glacier published in the year 1820 and in the
eighteenth century show that in old days the terminal ice-fall did not
end abruptly in a narrowed "snout," as it does now, but spread out
into a very broad half-dome or fan-shaped, apron-like expanse, some
700 feet high and a quarter of a mile broad at the base. It was
considered one of the wonders of Switzerland, and was pictured in an
exaggerated way in travellers' books. In 1873, when I first drove down
the Furka road and saw the Rhone glacier, this wonderful, apron-like,
terminal expansion of the glacier was still in existence. It has now
completely disappeared. In those days, and for many years later, there
was only a mule-path over the adjacent Grimsel Pass, but now there is
a carriage road leading out of the Rhone glacier's basin northwards to
Meiringen, whilst the old-established Furka road, at the other side of
the amphitheatre, leads eastward to Andermatt, the St. Gothard, and
the Lake of Lucerne. Hence three great roads now meet at Gletsch.
Before leaving this wondrous spot we inspected some plump marmots, who
were leading a happy life of ease and plenty in a large cage erected
in front of the hotel; then in absolutely perfect weather we mounted
the Grimsel road. We heard the frequent whistling of uncaged marmots
as we ascended, and saw many of the little beasts sitting up on the
rocks and diving into concealing crevices as we approached, just as do
their smaller but closely allied cousins the prairie marmots
(so-called "prairie dogs") of North America. The view, as one ascends
the Grimsel, of the snow-peaks around Gletsch is a fine one in itself,
but is vastly enhanced in beauty by the plunge downwards of the rocky
gorge made by the Rhone as it leaves the flat-bottomed amphitheatre of
its birth. The top of the Grimsel Pass, which is a little over 7,000
feet above sea-level, is the most desolate and bare of all such
mountain passes. The rock is dark grey, almost black, and of unusually
hard character. It is unstratified, and so resistant that it is
everywhere worn into smooth, rounded surfaces, instead of being
splintered and shattered. A small, black-looking lake at the top of
the pass contains to this day the bones of 500 Austrians and French
who fought here in 1799. It is called the Totensee, or Dead Men's
Lake. At this point one stands on a great watershed, dividing the
rivers of the north from the rivers of the south. You may put one foot
in a rivulet which is carrying water down the Aar Valley, and through
the Lakes of Brienz and of Thun to the Rhine and North Sea, whilst you
keep the other in another little stream, whose particles will pass by
the Rhone gorge and valley through the Lake of Geneva to the great
Rhone and the Mediterranean. Three incomparably fine days--September
17th, 18th, and 19th--atoned for three weeks of sunless cloud. One of
them we spent in the high valley of Rosenlaui, where are hairy-lipped
gentians and the blue-iced glacier, but of these I have not space to
tell. Then the clouds and the rain resumed their odious domination,
and we left Lucerne and its lakes invisible, overwhelmed in grey fog,
and made for Paris.

_October, 1910_



CHAPTER IV

THE PROBLEM OF THE GALLOPING HORSE


Until instantaneous photography was introduced, a little more than
twenty-five years ago (by the discovery of the means of increasing the
sensitiveness of a photographic plate), and gradually became familiar
to everyone in the exhibitions known as the "biograph" or
"cinematograph," the actual position of the legs in a galloping horse
at any given fraction of a second was unknown. Anyone who has tried to
"see" their position will agree that it cannot be done. Attempts had
been made to make out what the movements and positions of the legs
"must" be, by studying the hoof-marks in a soft track laid for the
purpose. But the result was not satisfactory.

As everyone knows, the so-called "biograph" pictures are produced by
an enormous series of consecutive instantaneous photographs taken on a
continuous transparent flexible film or ribbon. The camera has a
mechanism attached to it by which the sensitive film is jerked along
so as to expose a length of two inches (the size of the picture given
by the camera) for, say, one-thirtieth of a second without movement.
The film is then jerked on and a second bit of two inches is brought
into place for a thirtieth of a second and so on until a ribbon of
some thousand pictures is obtained. The interval between each picture
is usually also about one-thirtieth of a second, so that at least
fifteen pictures are taken in every second of time, and according to
the requirements of illumination and the rapidity of the movements of
the men or animals photographed this number may be greatly increased.
The film is developed, printed and fixed on a similar rolling
mechanism and the pictures are thrown one by one by a powerful
lantern on to a screen, and are jerked along at the same rate as that
at which they were taken, and are magnified enormously. Animals and
men in rapid movement, railway trains, the waves of the sea are thus
photographed, and when the serial pictures are thrown successively on
the screen the result is that the eye detects no interval between the
successive pictures--the figures appear as continuous moving objects.
This is due to the fact that whilst the impression produced on the
retina of the eye by each picture lasts for a tenth of a second (less
with brighter light), the interval between the successive pictures is
only one-thirtieth of a second, and accordingly the retinal impression
has not gone or ceased before the next is there; hence there is no
break in the series of retinal impressions, but continuity.[1]

[Illustration: Plate I.--Figs. 1 to 11, drawings from Muybridge's
photographs of consecutive poses of the galloping horse, each
photograph taken by an exposure of one fortieth of a second and
separated from the next by an interval of one fortieth of a second.
The horse in Fig. 10 has returned to the same pose as that with which
the series starts in Fig. 1. Fig. 11 gives a pose one hundredth of a
second earlier in the series than that taken in Fig. 2. Fig. 12 shows
a combination of the hinder half of Fig. 9 with the front half of Fig.
6, giving thus the maximum extension of both fore and hind legs.]

It is this duration of the impression on the retina which prevents us
from separating or "seeing distinctly" the successive phases of a
horse's legs as he gallops by, and has led to the remarkable result
that no artist has ever until twenty-five years ago represented
correctly any one phase of the movement of the legs in a galloping
horse, and it is doubtful whether that correctness is what the painter
of a picture really ought to put on his canvas. If we examine the
separate pictures of a galloping horse as taken on a cinematograph
film, we have before us the actual record of the positions assumed by
the legs at intervals of the thirtieth of a second (or whatever less
interval and length of exposure may have been chosen), and it is
simply astonishing to find how utterly different they are from what
had been supposed. Twenty years ago Mr. Muybridge produced a number
of these instantaneous photographs of moving animals--such as the
horse in gallop, trot, canter, amble, walk, and jumping and
bucking--also the dog running, birds of several kinds flying, camel,
elephant, deer, and other animals in rapid movement. The animals were
photographed on a track in front of a wall, marked out to show
measured yards; the time was accurately recorded to show rate
of movement and length of exposure, and of interval between
successive pictures. By means of three cameras worked by electric
shutter-openers, a side, a back, and a front view of the animal were
taken simultaneously. Repeated photographs were obtained at intervals
of a fraction of a second, giving a series of fifteen or twenty
pictures of the moving animal. The length of exposure for each picture
was one-fortieth of a second or less, and the interval between
successive pictures was about the same. Muybridge's great difficulty
had been to invent a shutter which would act rapidly enough. I have
some of these pictures before me now (see Pl. I). They show that what
has been drawn by artists and called the "flying gallop," in which the
legs are fully extended and all the feet are off the ground, with the
hind hoofs turned upwards, never occurs at all in the galloping horse,
nor anything in the least like it. There is a fraction of a second
when all four legs of the galloping horse are off the ground, but they
are not then extended, but, on the contrary, are drawn, the hind ones
forward and the front ones backward, under the horses' belly (see Pl.
I, figs. 2 and 3). A model showing this actual instantaneous attitude
of the galloping horse has recently been placed in the Natural History
Museum. When the hoofs touch the ground again after this instantaneous
lifting and bending of the legs under the horse, the first to touch it
is that of one of the hind legs (Pl. I, fig. 4), which is pushed very
far forward, forming an acute angle with the body. The shock of the
horse's impact on the ground is thus received by the hind leg, which
reaches obliquely forward beneath the body like an elastic <- spring.
Since the instantaneous photographs have become generally known
artists have ceased to represent the galloping horse in the curious
stretched pose which used to be familiar to everyone in Herring's
racing plates (see Pl. II, fig. 1), with both fore and hind legs
nearly horizontal, and the flat surface of the hind hoofs actually
turned upwards! Indeed, as early as 1886 a French painter, M. Aimé
Morot, availed himself of the information afforded by the then quite
novel instantaneous photographs of the galloping horse, and exhibited
a picture of the cavalry fight at Rezonville between the French and
Germans, in which the old flying gallop does not appear, but the
attitudes of the horses are those revealed by the new photographs. The
picture is an epoch-making one, whether justifiable or not, and is now
in the gallery of the Luxembourg. It must be noted that though
Meissonier and others had succeeded in representing more truthfully
than had been customary, other movements of the horse, such as
"pacing," ambling, cantering, and trotting, yet in regard to them,
also, more easily observed because less rapid, the instantaneous
photograph served to correct erroneous conclusions.

[Illustration: Plate II.--Various representations of the gallop. Fig.
1.--From Géricault's picture, "The Epsom Derby, 1821." Figs. 2 and
3.--From gold-work on the handle of a Mycenæan dagger, 1800 B.C. Fig.
4.--From iron-work found at Koban, east of the Black Sea, dating from
500 B.C. Fig. 5.--From Muybridge's instantaneous photograph of a
fox-terrier, showing the probable origin of the pose of the "flying
gallop" transferred from the dog to other animals by the Mycenæans.
Fig. 6.--The stretched-leg prance from the Bayeux tapestry (eleventh
century). Fig. 7.--The stretched-leg prance used to represent the
gallop by Carle Vernet in 1760. Fig. 8.--The stretched-leg prance used
by early Egyptian artists.

Fig. 1. Flying Gallop. (Géricault)

Fig. 2. Flying Gallop. (Mycenæan)

Fig. 3. Galloping Griffon.

Fig. 4. Flying Gallop. (Koben)

Fig. 5. Galloping Dog. (Photograph)

Fig. 6. Bayeux.

Fig. 7. Carle Vernet.

Fig. 8. Egyptian.]

[Illustration: Plate III.--Representations of the gallop. Fig. 1.--A
combination of the hinder half of Fig. 10, Pl. I, with the front half
of Fig. 4, Pl. I. Fig. 2.--One of the many admirable Chinese
representations of the galloping horse. This is very early, namely,
100 A.D. The pose is that of the "flying gallop" as in Figs. 2, 4 and
5 of Pl. II. Fig. 3.--From a Japanese drawing of the seventeenth
century; the pose is a modification of the "flying gallop," and agrees
closely with that of Fig. 1 in this plate. Fig. 4.--The flex-legged
prance from a bas-relief in the frieze of the Parthenon, B.C. 300.
Fig. 5.--A modern French drawing giving a pose very similar to that of
Figs. 1 and 3. It is the most "effective" pose yet adopted by artists,
and is an improvement on the full-stretched flying gallop, though
failing to suggest the greatest effort and rapidity. Fig.
6.--Instantaneous photographs of four phases of a horse "jumping."

Fig. 1.

Fig. 2. Early Chinese.

Fig. 3. Japanese, 17th Century.

Fig. 4. Parthenon.

Fig. 5. Conventional Gallop

Fig. 6.]

Two very interesting questions arise in connection with the discovery
by instantaneous photography of the actual positions successively
taken up by the legs of a galloping horse. The first is one of
historical and psychological importance, viz. why and when did artists
adopt the false but generally accepted attitude of the "flying
gallop"? The second is psychological and also physiological, viz. if
we admit that the true instantaneous phases of the horse's gallop (or
of any other very rapid movement of anything) cannot be seen
separately by the human eye, but can only be separated by
instantaneous photography, ought an artist to introduce into a
picture, which is not intended to serve merely as a scientific
diagram, an appearance which has no actual existence so far as his or
other human eyes are concerned, viz. that of the actual pose assumed
instantaneously and simultaneously by the four legs of the galloping
horse? And further, if he ought not to do this, what ought he to do,
on the supposition that his purpose is to convey to others the same
impression of rapid movement which exists--not, be it observed, in his
eye, or on the retina of that eye--but in his mind, as the result of
attention and judgment?

The first of these questions has been answered by the great French
authority on archæology and the history of art, M. Salomon Reinach,[2]
whose writings are as lucid and terse as they are accurate, and
solidly based on research. M. Reinach shows (and produces drawings to
support his statement) that in Assyrian, Egyptian, Greek, Roman,
mediæval, and modern art up to the end of the eighteenth century "the
flying gallop" does not appear at all! The first example (so far as
those schools are concerned) is an engraving by G. T. Stubbs in 1794
of a horse called "Baronet." The essential points about "the flying
gallop" are that the fore-limbs are fully stretched forward, the hind
limbs fully stretched backward, and that the flat surfaces of the
hinder hoofs are facing upwards. After this engraving of 1794 the
attitude introduced by Stubbs became generally adopted in English art
to represent a galloping horse, and the French painter, Géricault,
introduced it into France in 1821 in his celebrated picture, the
"Derby d'Epsom," (see Pl. II, fig. 1) which is now in the Louvre.

Previously to this there had been three other conventional poses for
the running horse in art, of which only the third (to be mentioned
below) has any resemblance to a real pose, and that not one of rapid
movement. We find: (1) The elongated or stretched-leg "prance"
(French, "_cabré allongé_"), in which, whilst the front legs are off
the ground, and all four legs are stretched nearly as much as in the
flying gallop, there is this essential difference, viz. that the hoofs
of the hind legs are firmly planted on the ground (see Pl. II, fig.
7). This pose is seen in a picture by the same artist (Stubbs) of two
years' earlier date than that in which he introduced "the flying
gallop." The "stretched-leg prance" is found in Egyptian works (Pl.
II, fig. 8) of 580 B.C., and is a favourite pose to indicate the
gallop, in ancient Assyrian as well as mediæval art, for instance, in
the Bayeux tapestry (Pl. II, fig. 6). We find, further, (2) that the
second pose made use of for this purpose is the "flexed-leg prance,"
in which all the four legs are flexed, so that the hind legs rest on
the ground beneath the horse's body, whilst the forelegs "paw" the
air. This is seen both in Egyptian, Greek, and Renaissance art
(Leonardo, Raphael, and Velasquez). It is by no means so graceful or
true to Nature as the next pose, but gives an impression of greater
energy and rapidity. The third pose represents a kind of "prancing,"
and is seen on the frieze of the Parthenon (Pl. III, fig. 4), and in
many subsequent Greek, Roman, and other works copied from or inspired
by, this Greek original. One only of the hind legs is on the ground,
and the animal's body is thrown up as though its advance were checked
by the rein. It is called "the canter" by M. Reinach, but that term
can only be applied to it when the axis of the body is horizontal and
parallel to the surface of the ground.

The reader will perhaps now suppose that we must attribute the "flying
gallop" to the original, if inaccurate genius of an eighteenth century
English horse-painter. That, however, is not the case. M. Reinach has
shown that it has a much more extraordinary history. It is neither
more nor less than the fact that in the pre-Homeric art of
Greece--that which is called "Mycenæan" (of which so much was made
known by the discoveries of that wonderful man Schliemann when he dug
up the citadel of Agamemnon)--the figures of animals, horses, deer,
bulls (see the beautiful gold cups of Vaphio), dogs, lions, and
griffins, in the exact conventional pose of "the flying gallop," are
quite abundant! (See Pl. II, figs. 2, 3 and 4.) There was an absolute
break in the tradition of art between the early gold-workers of Mykené
(1800 to 1000 B.C.) and the Greeks of Homer's time (800 B.C.). Europe
never received it, nor did the Assyrians nor the Egyptians. Thirty
centuries and more separate the reappearance in Europe of the flying
gallop--through Stubbs--from the only other European examples of
it--the Mycenæan. What, then, had become of it, and how did it come to
England? M. Reinach shows, by actual specimens of art-work, that the
Mycenæan art tradition, and with it the "flying gallop," passed slowly
through Asia Minor north eastwards to the Trans-caucasus (Koban, 500
B.C.), to Northern Persia, and thence by Southern Siberia to the
Chinese Empire (Pl. III, fig. 2) as early as 150 B.C., and that the
"flying gallop," so to speak, "flourished" there for centuries, and
was transmitted by the Chinese artists to the Japanese, in whose
drawings it is frequent (Pl. III, fig. 3). It was at last finally
brought back to Europe, and to the extreme west of it, namely,
England, by the importation in the eighteenth century into England of
large numbers of Japanese works of art. It was a Japanese drawing (M.
Reinach infers) which suggested to Stubbs the upturned hinder hoofs
and the detachment from the ground of "the flying gallop" which he
gave in his portrait of "Baronet," and so established that pose for a
century in modern European art. This is a delightful tracing out of
the wanderings of an artistic "convention," and the curious thing is
that its chief importance is not that it has to do with the movements
of the horse, but that it tends (as do other discoveries) to establish
the gradual passage of pre-classical Mycenæan art across Central Asia
to China and Japan by trade routes and human migrations which had no
touch with later Greece nor with Assyria nor India.

How did the Mycenæans come to invent, or at any rate adopt, the
convention of "the flying gallop," seeing that it does not truly
represent either the fact or the appearance of a galloping horse?
Though 20,000 years ago the earliest of all known artists, the
wonderful cave-men of the Reindeer period, drew bison, boars, and deer
in rapid running movement with consummate skill, they were (be it said
to their credit!) innocent of the conventional pose of the "flying
gallop." I base this statement on my own knowledge of their work. M.
Reinach thinks that the "flying gallop" was devised as an intentional
expression of energy in movement. I venture to hold the opinion that
it was observed by the Mycenæans in the dog, in which Muybridge's
photographs (now before me) demonstrate that it occurs regularly as an
attitude of that animal's quickest pace or gallop (see fig. 5, Pl.
II). It is easy to see the "flying gallop" in the case of the dog,
since the dog does not travel so fast as the galloping horse, and can
be more readily brought under accurate vision on account of its
smaller size. The late Professor Marey (a great investigator of animal
movement) appears to have denied that the dog exhibits the full
stretch of both limbs with the pads of the hind-feet upturned, and all
the feet free from the ground. He was mistaken, as Muybridge's
photograph giving side and back view of a galloping fox-terrier amply
demonstrates. It is quite in accordance with probability that the
early Mycenæan artists, having seen how the dog gallops, erroneously
proceeded to put the galloping horse, and all other animals which
they wished "to make gallop," into the same position.

It appears, then, that the poses used by artists at different times
and in different parts of the world to represent the "galloping" of
the horse have no correspondence to any of the poses actually assumed
by a galloping horse as now demonstrated by instantaneous photography.
The "prancing" attitude of the horses of the frieze of the Parthenon
was probably not intended to represent rapid movement at all. The
"stretched-leg" pose and the "flex-leg" pose are, as a matter of fact,
phases of "the jump," and are definitely recorded in Muybridge's
instantaneous photographs of the jumping horse, but have no existence
in "galloping" nor in any rapid running of the horse. They were
probably adopted by the artists of Egypt, Assyria, Greece, and their
successors in Europe as an expedient without conviction, to represent
rapid movement, the true poses of which defied satisfactory
reproduction. And it is also the fact that the "flying gallop," which
appeared in Mycenæan art thirty-seven centuries ago, and then
travelled by a "Scythian" route through Tartary to China, and came
back to Europe at the end of the eighteenth century, is also--so far
as it has any real representative in the action of the horse--only
approached by a brief phase of the "jump." The poses of the horse in
jumping are shown in the small figures taken from instantaneous
photographs and reproduced in Fig. 6 of Pl. III. The "flying gallop"
("_ventre a terre_"), with all four legs stretched, and the under
surface of the hind feet upturned, is really seen by us all every day
in the dog, and is recorded in instantaneous photographs of that
animal going at full speed. In fact, the gallop of the dog (and of
some other small animals) is a series of jumps; the animal "bounds
along." But this is a totally different thing from the gallop of the
horse. It is probable that the dog's gallop was transferred, so to
speak, to the horse by artists, and a certain justification for it was
found in one of the attitudes of a jumping horse, which, however,
never exhibits both the front and the hind legs simultaneously in so
completely horizontal a position as they are made to take in the
Mycenæan gold-work and the modern "racing plates."

How, then, we may now ask, ought an artist to represent a galloping
horse? Some critics say that he ought not to represent anything in
such rapid action at all. But, putting that opinion aside, it is an
interesting question as to what a painter should depict on his canvas
in order to convey to others who look at it the state of mind, of
impression, feeling, emotion, judgment, which a live, galloping horse
produces in him. The scientific draughtsman would, of course, present
to us a series of drawings exactly like the instantaneous photographs,
his object being to show what "is," and not what the artist aims at,
namely, what "appears," "seems," or (without pondering and analysis)
"is thought to be." The painter, in his quality of artist, would be
wrong to select any one of the dozen or more poses of the galloping
horse published by Muybridge, each limited to the fortieth of a
second, since no human eye can fix (as the photographic camera can)
separate pictures following one another at the rate of twenty a
second, each enduring one fortieth of a second, and each separated by
an interval of a fortieth of a second from the next. All the phases
which occur in any one-tenth of a second (only two, or possibly three
of the Muybridge series shown in Pl. I) are, as it were, fused in our
visual impression, because each picture lasts on the retina of the eye
for one-tenth of a second, or (to put it more accurately) because the
"impression" or condition of the retina produced by each picture
persists or endures for the tenth of a second.

It may, perhaps, be suggested (and, indeed, has been), that it is the
"blurred" or "fused" picture produced by the successive poses of the
galloping horse's legs in one-tenth of a second that the painter ought
to imitate on his canvas. In support of this notion we have the fact
that the rapidly running wheels of a coach or of a gun-carriage (as in
the pictures by Wouwerman) are represented by artists, not with the
twelve or fourteen spokes which we know to be there--and would be
photographed as separate things in an exposure of the fortieth of a
second--but as a blurred haze of some fifty or more indistinct
"spokes." In this case it undoubtedly results that the observer of the
picture is satisfied and receives the mental impression or illusion of
a rapid rotation of the wheel. I have tried the experiment with
instantaneous photographs of the galloping horse, and I get three
results: first, no combination of successive phases occupying
one-tenth of a second gives anything resembling the "flying gallop" of
the racing plates (the Mycenæan and Stubbsian pose), or any other
conventional pose; second, no combination of successive instantaneous
photographs limited to ten second gives any pose which satisfies the
judgment and suggests a movement like the gallop; third, the
combination which comes nearest to satisfying the judgment as being a
natural appearance, but does not quite succeed in doing so, is one
formed by the fusion of figs. 2 and 3 of Pl. I. This gives all four
legs off the ground, drawn up or flexed beneath the horse's body, as
in Morot's picture of the sabre-charge at Resonville.

The fact is that we have to take into consideration two other factors
in the process, which we call "seeing," besides the duration of the
retinal impression or excitation. These are, first, attention, and
second, judgment. We are apt to think that "seeing" is a simple,
straightforward sort of thing, whereas it is really a strangely
complex and delusive process. "I did not see it, therefore it was not
there," or "You must have seen it; it was right in front of you," are
common assertions, and the belief that such assertions are justified
leads to miscarriage of justice in courts of law. Yet everyone knows
that he may stare out of the window of a railway carriage and have a
long panorama pass before his eyes, or may walk along a crowded street
and look his acquaintances in the face, and in neither case will he
have "seen" or recognized anything, or be able to give an account of
the scene that was pictured on the back of his eye. Attention, the
direction of the mind to the sensation, is necessary; and it appears
that it is very difficult (to some more than to others) to hold the
attention alert, and to give it to the _unexpected_. In fact, to a
very large extent we can only "see" (using the word to signify the
ultimate mental condition) that which we are prepared to see or that
which we expect to see. In the absence of such expectation, a very
strongly illuminated or well-marked, outstanding object is far more
readily "seen" than less marked objects. Accordingly, the outstretched
legs of the galloping horse, now in front and now behind, are "seen,"
whilst the rest of the phases are not observed. Moreover, it is a fact
that the swinging pendulum of a clock is "seen" at the extreme
position of the swing on each side, and not in the intermediate space.
This is because the image is formed very quickly, twice in the space
where the bob of the pendulum is coming to the limit of its swing and
is again returning on its course. For the same reason, the
outstretched legs of the horse going up to their limit and at once
returning give in very quick succession, near their extreme limit, an
ascending and a descending phase which are not strictly but sensibly
alike, and so doubly impress the retina, and obtain for the legs
"attention" when in that extreme position. The choice of the attitude
depicted by Morot is explained by the fact that, as is shown by its
persistence through two successive pictures (figs. 2 and 3 of Pl. I),
this pose must produce a more continuous impression on the retina than
any other of the attitudes shown, since none of them endure through
two successive pictures.

The mental process of attention results in a certain duration or
memory of the mental condition which is a distinct thing from the
primary retinal impression, and leads to the ignoring or mental
obliteration of an instantaneous interval separating two phases of the
position of moving legs which have strongly "arrested the attention."
Hence, it seems that the most forward pose of the galloping horse's
front legs and the most backward pose of its hind legs--though far
from simultaneous, even in the slow changing retinal impressions--may
be mentally combined by "the arrest of attention," and that the artist
really ought to present his picture of the galloping horse with those
two poses combined (although as a matter of scientific truth they do
not occur simultaneously) in order that he may produce by his painted
piece of canvas, as nearly as he can, the mental result which we call
"seeing" a horse gallop. This combination of the front half of one
figure with the hinder half of another so as to give in each case the
extreme phase of extension of the legs I have made in Pl. I, fig. 12.

But there is, further, in all "seeing" before even a mental result of
_attention_ to the retinal picture is, as it were, "passed," admitted
and registered as "a thing seen," the further operation of rapid
criticism or _judgment_, brief though it be. We are always
unconsciously forming lightning-like judgments by the use of our eyes,
rejecting the improbable, and (as we consider) preposterous, and
accepting and therefore "seeing" what our judgment approves even when
it is not there! We accept as "a thing seen" a wheel buzzing round
with something like fifty spokes--but we cannot accept a horse with
eight or sixteen legs! The four-leggedness of a horse is too dominant
a prejudice for us to accept a horse with several indistinct blurred
legs as representing what we see when the horse gallops. The mind
revolts at such a presentation, though it is true, and the whole
scheme and composition of the artist is perverted or fails to gain
attention and to exercise its charm--by the unwelcome presence in his
picture of the revolting truth. It is the consideration of facts of
this kind which enables us to understand the origin and importance of
what are called "conventions" in pictorial or glyptic art. The artist
is, in fact, operating by means of his painted canvas or moulded clay
upon a queer, prejudiced, ill-seeing, dull, living creature--his
brother-man. In order to give if possible to that brother, by means of
a painted sheet, some or all of the delights, emotions, suggestions,
perceptions of beauty, and so on, which he himself has experienced in
contemplating a real scene, the artist has to present that scene, not
as it really is, nor even as he thinks it really is, but in such a way
that his canvas shall appeal to his brother's attention and judgment
with the same emotional and intellectual result as the scene itself
produced in him. Therefore he must not aim at accuracy of reproduction
of natural fact nor even of visual fact, but at the transference to
another mind of his own mental condition--his inner judgment as to
"things seen"--by means of necessarily imperfect pictorial mimicry. He
must therefore avoid startling or abnormal truthfulness of observation
of the unessential and even more strictly must he refuse to make his
picture a scientific diagram demonstrating what "is" rather than what
is "seen" or is "thought to have been seen."

On these grounds I find that the most satisfactory pictures of the
galloping horse are those which combine a phase of the movement of the
front legs with a phase of the movement of the hind legs, not
simultaneous in actual occurrence, but following one another. It is
for the artist to select the combination best suited to producing the
mental result aimed at. Some of the Chinese and Japanese
representations of the galloping horse and some of their European
imitations (but not all--certainly not that of Stubbs, of the Epsom
Derby of Géricault, and the racing plates) seem to me to be eminently
satisfactory and successful in this respect. In the pictures to which
I allude (Pl. III, figs. 3 and 5) all the legs are off the ground; the
front legs are advanced, but one or both may be more or less flexed,
whilst the hind legs, though directed backwards with upturned hoofs,
are not nearly horizontal (as they actually are in the galloping dog),
but show the moderate extension which really occurs in the horse, and
is recorded by instantaneous photography. This pose, favoured by many
European and Japanese artists, can be obtained by uniting the
outstretched hind legs of fig. 9 of the Muybridge series (Pl. I), with
the outstretched forelegs of fig. 6, as shown in Pl. I, fig. 12, or by
uniting the hind legs of fig. 10 with the forelegs of fig. 4 as shown
in Pl. III, fig. 1.

With regard to the representation of other "gaits" of the horse than
that of the rapid gallop--such as canter, trot, amble, rack, and
walk--I have no doubt that instantaneous photography can (and in
practice does) furnish the painter with perfectly correct and at the
same time useful and satisfactory poses of the horse's limbs. These,
though of longer duration than the poses of the gallop, can only be
correctly estimated by the eye with great difficulty, and only
sketched by artists of exceptional skill and patience. The movement of
the wings of birds in flight has been very successfully analysed by
instantaneous photography. Some of the poses revealed must familiarise
the public with what can be, and, in fact, has been, observed in the
case of large sea-birds, by the unassisted eye, and has been
represented in pictures by the more careful observers of nature among
modern painters. A large sea-bird sailing along with apparently
motionless wings has been photographed in the act of giving a single
stroke so rapid as to escape observation by the eye.

An interesting question in regard to the movements of the horse is
that as to how far any known "pace" is natural to that animal, and how
far it has been acquired by training and is, in a sense, artificial.
We know so little of the wild horse, and of the more abundant wild
asses and zebras, that it is difficult to say anything precise on this
question. There is only one region in which the true original wild
horse of the northern part of Asia and Europe still exists. That is
the Gobi Desert, in Central Asia. This horse is known as Prevalsky's
wild horse, in honour of the Russian traveller who discovered it. Live
specimens are now to be seen in the Zoological Gardens and elsewhere.
It closely resembles the drawings of horses made by the palæolithic
Cromagnard cave-men. A century ago a wild horse, probably of the same
race as this, inhabited the Kirghiz Steppes, and was known as the
Tarpan: it is now extinct. The more southern Arabian horse is not
known in the wild state, whilst the wild horses of America are
descendants of domesticated European horses which have "run wild." I
do not know of any studies of the movements of the true wild horse,
nor of those of wild asses and zebras, carried out by the aid of
instantaneous photography. It would be interesting to know whether
untaught wild "equines" would fall naturally into the gaits known as
"the amble" and "the rack," or whether the walk, the trot, and the
gallop are their only natural gaits.

The amble, in which the fore and hind leg on the same side are
advanced simultaneously, is a natural gait of the elephant, the
fastest Muybridge could get from that great beast. He made a menagerie
elephant amble at the rate of a mile in seven minutes. The only other
animal known to habitually exhibit "the amble" is the giraffe. It is
often exhibited by the giraffes in the Zoological Gardens in London,
but has not, I believe, been recorded by a series of instantaneous
photographs. When going at full speed over the grass wilds of Central
Africa the giraffe exhibits a gait more like the galloping of deer and
antelopes, and carries the long neck horizontally. No complete study
of the "gaits" of large animals other than the horse has been made,
since menagerie specimens and menagerie conditions are not
satisfactory for the purpose, and, unfortunately, it has not been
possible as yet to take series of photographs of them in their wild
conditions.

The electric spark furnishes a most important means of taking
instantaneous photographs, but the operator must perform in the dark.
An electric spark can be obtained which lasts only the one
two-thousandth of a second, and by its use as the sole illuminating
agent we can get a photograph of a phase of movement lasting only that
excessively short space of time, or, if we please, a succession of
such phases by using a succession of sparks. Thus, a rifle bullet is
readily photographed while in flight with scarcely perceptible
distortion. A wheel revolving many hundred times a second can thus be
photographed, and appears to be stationary. Dr. Schillings has applied
this method to the photography of wild animals by night in the forests
of tropical Africa, and has published an interesting book giving his
photographic results. In order to take these pictures the track
followed by certain animals has to be detected, and then a thread is
stretched "breast-high" across the track, so that the animal coming
along it by night shall pull the thread. Immediately the thread is
pulled it sets an electric contact in action. There is a brief flash
of one two-thousandth of a second, and a picture is taken by a camera
previously fixed, out of harm's way, so as to focus the area where the
thread was stretched.

Dr. Schillings obtained some very remarkable photographs of "the night
life of the forest" in this way--lions and leopards advancing on their
prey were suddenly revealed, and the helpless antelope or other victim
was shown crouching in the dark, or making a desperate effort to
escape.

The electric-spark method was applied by a friend of mine to
demonstrate the movements by which a kitten falling backwards from a
table succeeds in turning itself so as to alight on its feet. During a
fall of less than 3 feet he obtained five successive spark-pictures of
the kitten, which, I beg it may be clearly understood, was a pet
kitten, and was neither frightened nor hurt by the proceedings.

Instantaneous photographs, whether obtained by the use of an electric
spark as a means of illumination, or by the less rapid method of a
spring shutter working in combination with a sensitive film, which is
jerked along so as to be exposed when the shutter is open and travel
when it is shut, has been applied to the analysis of other movements
than those I have mentioned, and has yet to be applied to many more,
such as the crawling of insects and millipedes, and the beautiful
rippling movement of the legs and body by which many marine worms
swim. It has been extensively used in the study of human locomotion,
and of the successive poses of the arms and legs in various athletic
exercises, and in such games as baseball and golf.

A first-rate fencer of my acquaintance had a five-minutes' film of
himself taken when fencing, giving 10,000 consecutive poses. He wished
to see exactly what movements he made, and to ascertain by this minute
examination any error or want of grace in his action, in order to
avoid it. An unexpected picture is obtained when a man or woman is
thus "biographed" whilst walking rapidly, and suddenly turns to the
right or left. A fraction of a second occurs when the toes of the two
feet are directed towards one another (that is to say, are "turned
in"), as one of the legs swings round in the break-off to right or
left. This instantaneous phase is very awkward and ugly in appearance.
It is never pictured by artists, although regularly occurring, and
seems to have been as little known before instantaneous photography
was introduced as were most of the phases of the horse's gallop. The
positions assumed when in the air by a high-jump athlete are almost
incredible as revealed by the camera. He appears to be sitting in a
most uncomfortable way on the rope over which he is projecting
himself.

A very fine attitude is fixed for the artist in one of Muybridge's
instantaneous series of the "bowler"--the cricket "bowler." The
up-lifted right arm, the curve outwards of the whole figure on the
right side, and the free hang of the right leg make a most effective
pose for a sculptor to reproduce. Among the most remarkable results
obtained in Muybridge's series are the stages of the growth or
development of strong "expression" in the face. The anxiety in the
face of the baseball batsman as he awaits the ball is painful; as he
hits at the ball his expression is one of savage ferocity, and in a
fraction of a second this gives place to a dawning smile, which as we
pass along two or three later "_instantanèes_" develops into a broad
grin of satisfaction. Another genuine study of expression both of face
and gesture and movement is given in the series where a pailful of
cold water is unexpectedly poured over the back of a bather seated in
a sitz bath--astonishment, dismay, anger, eagerness to escape, and the
reaction to shock are all clearly shown. Darwin's studies on "the
expression of the emotions" would have been greatly assisted by such
analysis, and the subject might even now be developed by the use of
serial instantaneous records obtained by photography. It may be useful
to those interested in this subject to know that copies of
Muybridge's large series of instantaneous photographs[3] of animal and
human subjects in movement are preserved both in the library of the
Royal Academy of Arts in London and in the Radcliffe Library at
Oxford. I may also mention the extremely valuable series of
instantaneous photographs of living bacteria, blood-parasites and
infusoria produced by MM. Pathé, and the series of fishes and various
invertebrates (including the curious caterpillar-like Peripatus) taken
by Mr. Martin Duncan.

The representation of the moon in pictures of the ordinary size (some
three feet long by two in height) is a case in which the artist
habitually--one may almost say invariably--departs greatly from
scientific truth, and it is a question as to whether he is justified
in what he does. Take first the case of the low-lying moon near the
horizon as contrasted with the high moon. Everyone knows that the moon
(and the sun[4] also) appears to be much bigger when it is low than
when it is high. Everyone who has not looked into the matter closely
is prepared to maintain that the luminous disc in the sky--whether of
moon or of sun--not merely seems to, but actually does, occupy a
bigger space when it is low down near the horizon than when it is high
up, more nearly overhead. Of course, no one nowadays imagines that the
moon or the sun swells as it sinks or diminishes in volume as it
rises. Those who think about it at all, say that the greater length of
atmosphere through which one sees the low sun or moon, as compared
with the high, magnifies the disc as a lens might do. This, however,
is not the case. If we take a photograph of the moon when low and
another with the same instrument and the same focus when it is high,
we find that the celestial disc produces on the plate (as it does on
our eyes) a picture-disc of practically the same size in both
positions. In fact, the high moon or sun produces a picture-disc of a
little larger size than the low moon or sun. I have here reproduced
(Pl. IV) a photograph, published by M. Flammarion, in which the moon
has been allowed to print itself on a photographic plate exposed
during the time the moon was rising, and it is seen that the track of
the moon has not diminished in width as it rose higher and higher. No
one will readily believe this, yet it is a demonstrable fact.
Astronomers have made accurate measurements which show that there is
no diminution of the disc under these circumstances, but a slight
increase--since the moon is a very little nearer to us when overhead
than when we see it across the horizon.

[Illustration: Plate IV.--The track of the rising moon registered by
continuous exposure of a photographic plate. It is given here in order
to show that the diameter of the visible disc of the moon does not
diminish as it rises. The slight increase in the breadth of the track
registered by the moon's disc is probably due to a little distortion
caused by the side portion of the lens. After M. Flammarion. The
actual width of the moon's disc as printed here is a little over one
eighth of an inch, which, if we regard it as "a picture" and not
merely as a mechanical record, implies that the observer's eye is only
about 14-1/2 inches distant from the picture plane instead of the more
usual 18 inches, which corresponds to a diameter of the pictured
moon's disc of between 1/6th and 1/7th of an inch (.156 inch).]

If we put a piece of glass coated with a thin layer of water-colour
paint into a frame, and then make a peep-hole in a board which we fix
upright between us and the upright piece of framed glass, we can keep
the framed glass steady (let us suppose it to be part of the window of
a room), and then we can move the peep-hole board back from it into
the room to measured distances. At a distance of one and a half feet
from the framed glass, which is that at which an artist usually has
his eye from his canvas or paper, we can trace on the smeared or
tinted piece of glass the outlines of things seen through it exactly
as they fill up the area of the glass--men, houses, trees, the moon.
The moon's disc (and the same is true of the sun) is found always to
occupy a space on the glass which is 1/115th of the distance of the
eye from the framed glass plate. When the eye-to-frame distance is
eighteen inches, the diameter of the disc of the moon on the smeared
glass will occupy exactly 1/115th of eighteen inches, which is between
one-sixth and one-seventh of an inch. Similarly if the peep-hole is at
nine and a half feet or 114 inches from the framed glass (which stands
for us as the equivalent of an artist's picture) the moon will occupy
almost exactly one inch in diameter--the size of a halfpenny. With
such a simple apparatus of peep-hole and smeared glass in an upright
frame, it is easy to mark off the size covered by the moon (or sun),
whether low or high, on the smeared glass, and it is found never to
vary whether high or low--so long as the same "eye-to-frame" or
"peep-hole" distance is preserved. That seems to be an important fact
for painters of sun-sets and moon-rises. But what do they do? They
never give the right size (namely one-sixth of an inch) which
corresponds to an eye-to-frame distance of eighteen inches. They give
to a high moon, if they are very careful, a quarter of an inch for
diameter. This means that the observer is about two and a half feet,
or thirty inches from the picture--nearly twice what the artist's eye
really is as he paints. And then--if painting a moon-rise or
sunset--they suddenly pretend to go to a distance of nine and a half
feet from the picture and make the moon an inch across because it is
low down, or even give the moon two inches in diameter, which would
mean that they (and those who look at the picture when hung up for
view) are observing at nineteen feet distance from the front plane or
frame of the picture. They do not alter the other features in the
picture to suit this change of distance of the eye from the frame and
there is no warning given. Certainly there is no obvious and necessary
reason for treating a picture containing a high moon as though you
were three feet from the front plane of the scene presented, and a low
moon as though you were twenty feet from that plane! The confusion
which may result in the representation of other objects when these
changes of eye-to-frame distance are made is shown by the following
simple facts. According to the simple laws of perspective, if the eye
is at thirty inches from the picture-plane or frame (as declared by a
moon drawn of a little more than a quarter of an inch broad), a post
or a man six feet high drawn on the canvas as three inches high
absolutely and definitely means that that man or post is sixty feet
away from the observer inside the picture. The height of the
represented object is the same fraction of the real object as the
eye-to-frame distance is of the distance of the observer to the real
object. If by a two-inch moon the artist has thrown you back from the
front plane of the scene to a distance of nineteen feet, then the
six-foot post or man drawn as three inches high definitely asserts
that it or he is 456 feet distant within the picture. So, too, if the
church tower which cuts the moon is really sixty feet high and is
drawn of two inches vertical measure in the picture, it is an
assertion--when the moon is represented one quarter of an inch
broad--that the church tower is 290 yards, or a sixth of a mile
distant. If, on the other hand, other things remaining the same, the
moon is drawn two inches in diameter, the church tower is now asserted
to be eight times as far off, or about a mile and a third. Very
generally these facts are not considered by painters. They represent
the low moon (or sun) big because the erroneous mental impression is
common to all of us that it _is_ big--that is, bigger, much bigger,
than the high moon or sun, and they do not follow out the consequences
in perspective of the pictorial increase of the moon's apparent
diameter.

If we could ascertain why it is that the low moon produces a false
impression of being bigger--as a mere disc in the scene--than does the
high moon, we might be able to discover how an artist could produce,
as Nature does, an impression or belief in its greater size whilst
keeping it all the time to its proper size. The explanation of the
illusion as to the increased size of the sun's or moon's disc when
low, given by M. Flammarion and other astronomers, is that the low sun
or moon is unconsciously judged by us as an object at a greater
distance than the high moon or sun. This is due to the long vista of
arching clouds above and of stretching landscape or sea below when the
sun or moon is looked at as it appears on or near the horizon. The
illusion is aided by the dulness of the low moon and the brightness
(supposed nearness) of the high moon. Being judged of (unconsciously)
as further off than the high moon, the low moon is estimated as of
larger size although of the same size. This is, I believe, the correct
explanation of the illusion. When one gazes upwards to the sky, a
small insect slowly flying across the line of sight sometimes is
"judged of" as a huge bird--an eagle or a vulture--since we refer it
to a distance at which birds fly and not to the shorter distance to
which insects approach us. It seems that it would be possible for the
painter, by carefully studying actual natural facts and introducing
their presentation into his picture, to produce the impression of
greater distance, and therefore of size, into a quarter-inch moon
placed near the horizon. He is not compelled for want of other means
to "cut the difficulty" and paint a falsely inflated moon which shall
brutally and by measurement call up the illusion of increased size. I
reproduce here (Pl. V) an interesting drawing which shows how such
illusions of size _can_ be produced. It is none the worse for my
purpose because it is an advertisement by the well-known firm who
have kindly lent it to me. The three figures represented in black
are all of the same height, yet the furthest one appears to be much
taller and bigger altogether than the middle one, and the middle one
than the nearest. This result is obtained by suggesting distance as
separating the right-hand figure from us, whilst giving it exactly the
same height as the others. This seems to me to be a simple case of an
illusion of increased size produced by a suggestion of increased
distance when all the time there is equality in size--as in the case
of the moon on the horizon compared with the moon overhead. It would
be interesting to see an attempt on the part of a competent painter to
produce in this way (which is, I believe, Nature's way) the illusion
of increased size in a low-lying moon without really increasing the
visual size of his painted moon as compared with one in another
picture (to be painted by him) representing the moon bright, clear and
small, overhead.

[Illustration: Plate V.--Drawing of three figures--Lord Lansdowne, Mr.
Lloyd George, and Mr. Asquith--showing how an illusion of size may be
produced in a picture. The figure of Mr. Asquith is of the same actual
vertical measurement as that of Lord Lansdowne, viz. two inches and
one eighth. Yet owing to the position in which the three figures are
placed and the converging lines--suggesting perspective--the drawing
of Mr. Asquith does not merely represent a much taller man than does
that of Lord Lansdowne, but actually gives the impression, at first
sight, that the little black figure representing Mr. Asquith is longer
and bigger altogether than that representing Lord Lansdowne. Yet the
figures are of the same dimensions. It is owing to illusion of the
same nature that the disc of the low moon appears larger than that of
the high moon.]

The theatrical scene-painter has another kind of difficulty with the
low moon and the setting sun. He can never be right for more than one
row of seats--one distance--in the theatre. Here there is no
peep-hole, no frame or picture-plane. The observer is _in_ the
picture. If the moon is represented by an illuminated disc of one foot
in diameter, it will, when looked at at a distance of 115 feet, have
the same visual size as the moon itself, but if your seat is nearer
the scene it will look too large, if further off it will look too
small. There is no getting over this difficulty, as the standard of
actual Nature is set up on the stage by the men and women appearing on
it at a known distance. It used to be asked in classical times by
ingenious puzzle-makers--"What is the size of the moon?" A true answer
to that question would be "that of a plate a foot in diameter seen at
a distance of a hundred and fifteen feet."

To a large extent the painter, like other artists, has to produce
things which do not shock common opinion and experience, and must even
consciously concede to that necessity, and make the sacrifice of
objective truth, in order to secure attention for his higher appeal to
the sense of beauty, to emotion, and sentiment. Approved departures by
the artist from scientific truth are those which are deliberately made
in order to give emphasis--as, for instance, in the huge, but tender
hand of the man in the emotional masterpiece, "Le Baiser," by the
great sculptor Rodin. Another departure from objective truth which is
justified, is seen in Troyon's picture in the Louvre, where the false
drawing and exaggerated size of the leg of a calf advancing towards
the observer suggest, and almost give the illusion of, movement.

But it can hardly be maintained that any and all the liberties which a
painter or a whole school of painters choose to take with fact in
their presentation of Nature--are beyond criticism. It is possible for
a landscape painter to improve in his treatment of the moon by better
observation and increased knowledge--just as other painters have
learnt not to introduce into their pictures the sort of wooden
rocking-horse to stand for a beautiful living animal, which satisfied
Velasquez, Carl Vernet and the ancient Egyptians.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 1: See note on page 46.]

[Footnote 2: "La Representation du Galop dans l'art ancien et
moderne," 'Revue Archeologique,' vol. XXXVI _et seq._, 1900.]

[Footnote 3: A word is needed in amplification of what was said on p.
26 as to the blending of successive images produced on the retina of
the eye by the bioscope or cinematograph or by the old "wheel of
life." The point which is of importance is not the length of time
during which the stimulation of the retina caused by an image
_endures_--becoming weaker and weaker as fractions of a second
pass--but it is this: How long will a stimulus last in _undiminished
brightness_? How soon must it be followed by another stimulus (another
image) so that there may be fusion or continuity, the one succeeding
the other before the earlier has had time, not to disappear, but to
decline. If it has had time to decline in intensity, the appearance of
flickering results. That is what the cinematographer has to avoid. It
is found that a quicker succession--a shorter interval--is necessary
with strong light than with weaker light in order to produce
continuity. With a faint light the interval may be as great as
one-tenth of a second; with a strong light it must not exceed
one-thirtieth (or with still stronger light, one-sixtieth) of a
second. With the stronger light there is a more rapid and a greater
loss of the initial intensity of the impression or effect of stimulus,
and though each successive effect remains as long, or longer, in
dwindling intensity, you get want of continuity, or "flicker."]

[Footnote 4: What we may call the "visual size" of the sun happens to
be owing to its far greater size and its far greater distance from
us--very nearly the same as that of the moon--and is subject to the
same numerical law of apparent diameter, viz. a disc of any given
measurement in diameter will cover it exactly when held at a distance
from the eye which is 115 times that measurement.]



CHAPTER V

THE JEWEL IN THE TOAD'S HEAD


To what jewel or precious stone was Shakespeare alluding when he makes
the exiled Duke in "As You Like It" (after praising his rough life in
the forest of Arden, and declaring that adversity has its
compensations), exclaim:

    "The toad, ugly and venomous,
    Wears yet a precious jewel in his head"?

No doubt the unprejudiced reader supposes when he reads this passage
that there is some stone or stone-like body in the head of the toad
which has a special beauty, or else was believed to possess magical or
medicinal properties. And it is probable that Shakespeare himself did
suppose that such a stone existed. As a matter of fact there is no
stone or "jewel" of any kind in the head of the common toad nor of any
species of toad--common or rare. This is a simple and certain result
of the careful examination of the heads of innumerable toads, and is
not merely "common knowledge," but actually the last word of the
scientific expert. In these days of "nature study" writers familiar
with toads and frogs and kindred beasts have puzzled over
Shakespeare's words, and suggested that he was really referring to the
beautiful eyes of the toad, which are like gems in colour and
brilliance.

This, however, is not the case. Shakespeare himself was simply making
use of what was considered to be "common knowledge" in his day when he
made the Duke compare adversity to the toad with a magic jewel in its
head commonly known as "a toad-stone," although that "common
knowledge" was really not knowledge at all, but--like an enormous mass
of the accepted current statements in those times, about animals,
plants and stones--was an absolutely baseless invention. Such baseless
beliefs were due to the perfectly innocent but reckless habit of
mankind, throughout long ages, of exaggerating and building up
marvellous narrations on the one hand, and on the other hand of
believing without any sufficient inquiry, and with delight and
enthusiasm, such marvellous narrations set down by others. Each writer
or "gossip" concerning the wonders of unexplored nature, consciously
or unconsciously, added a little to the story as received by him, and
so the authoritative statements as to marvels grew more and more
astonishing and interesting.

It was not until the time of Shakespeare himself that another spirit
began to assert itself--namely, that of asking whether a prevalent
belief or tradition is actually a true statement of fact. Men
proceeded to test the belief by an examination of the thing in
question, and not by merely adducing the assertions of "the learned
so-and-so," or of "the ingenious Mr. Dash." This spirit of inquiry
actually existed in a fairly active state among the more cultivated of
the ancient Greeks. Aristotle (who flourished about 350 B.C.), though
he could not free himself altogether from the primitive tendency to
accept the marvellous as true because it is marvellous and without
regard to its probability--in fact because of its improbability--yet
on the whole showed a determination to investigate, and to see things
for himself, and left in his writings an immense series of first-rate
original observations. He had far more of the modern scientific spirit
than had the innumerable credulous writers of Western Europe who lived
fifteen hundred to two thousand years after him. Even that delightful
person Herodotus, who preceded Aristotle by a hundred years,
occasionally took the trouble to inquire into some of the wonders he
heard of on his travels, and is careful to say now and then that he
does not believe what he heard. But the mediæval-makers of
"bestiaries," herbals, and treatises on stones, which were collections
of every possible fancy and "old-wife's tale," about animals, plants,
and minerals, mixed up with Greek and Arabic legends and the
mystical, medical lore of the "Physiologus"--that Byzantine cyclopædia
of "wisdom while you wait"--deliberately discarded all attempt to set
down the truth; they simply gave that up as a bad job, and recorded
every strange story, property and "application" (as they termed it) of
natural objects with solemn assurance, adding a bit of their own
invention to the gathered and growing mass of preposterous
misunderstanding and superstition.

In the seventeenth century the opposition to this method of omnivorous
credulity (which even to-day, in spite of all our "progress,"
flourishes among both the rich and the poor) crystallised in the
purpose of the Royal Society of London for the Improvement of Natural
Knowledge--whose motto was, and is "_Nullius in verba_" (that is, "We
swear by no man's words"), and whose original first rule, to be
observed at its meetings, was that no one should discourse of his
opinions or narrate a marvel, but that any member who wished to
address the society should "bring in," that is to say, "exhibit" an
experiment or an actual specimen. A new spirit, the "scientific"
spirit, gave rise to and was nourished by this and similar societies
of learned men. As a consequence the absurdities and the cruel and
injurious beliefs in witchcraft, astrology, and baseless legend,
melted away like clouds before the rising sun. In the place of the mad
nightmare of fantastic ignorance, there grew up the solid body of
unassailable knowledge of Nature and of man which we call "science"--a
growth which made such prodigious strides in the last century that we
now may truly be said to live in the presence of a new heaven and a
new earth!

[Illustration: Fig. 4.--Representation of a man extracting the jewel
from a toad's head; two "jewels", already extracted are seen dropping
to the ground. From the "Hortus Sanitatis," published in 1490.]

It was, then, a real "stone," called the toad-stone, to which
Shakespeare alluded. It is mentioned in various old treatises
concerning the magical and medicinal properties of gems and stones
under its Latin name, "_Bufonius lapis_," and was also called Borax,
Nosa, Crapondinus, Crapaudina, Chelonitis, and Batrachites. It was
also called Grateriano and Garatronius, after a gentleman named
Gratterus, who in 1473 found a very large one, reputed to have
marvellous power. In 1657, in the "translation by a person of
quality" of the "Thaumatographia" of a Polish physician named
Jonstonus, we find written of it: "Toads produce a stone, with their
own image sometimes. It hath very great force against malignant
tumours that are venomous. They are used to heat it in a bag, and to
lay it hot, without anything between, to the naked body, and to rub
the affected place with it. They say it prevails against inchantments
of witches, especially for women and children bewitched. So soon as
you apply it to one bewitched it sweats many drops. In the plague it
is laid to the heart to strengthen it." Another physician of the same
period (see "Notes and Queries," fourth series, vol. vii, 1871, p.
540) appears to be affected by the new spirit of inquiry, for he
relates the old traditions about the stone and how he tested them. He
says it was reported that the stone could be cut out of the toad's
head. (In the book called "Hortus Sanitatis," dated 1490, there is a
picture, here reproduced [Fig. 4], of a gentleman performing this
operation successfully on a gigantic toad.) Our sceptical physician,
however, goes on to say that it was commonly believed that these
stones are thrown out of the mouth by old toads (probably the tongue
was mistaken for the stone), and that if toads are placed on a piece
of red cloth they will eject their "toad-stones," but rapidly swallow
them again before one can seize the precious gem! He says that when he
was a boy he procured an aged toad and placed it on a red cloth in
order to obtain possession of "the stone." He sat watching the toad
all night, but the toad did not eject anything. "Since that time," he
says, "I have always regarded as humbug ('badineries') all that they
relate of the toad-stone and of its origin." He then describes the
actual stone which passes as the toad-stone, or "_Bufonius lapis_,"
and says that it is also called batrachite, or brontia, or ombria. His
description exactly corresponds with the "toad-stones" which are well
known at the present day in collections of old rings.

[Illustration: Fig. 5.--The palate of the fossil fish Lepidotus,
showing the stud-like teeth in position. These are often found singly,
and stained of a dull brown colour by the rock in which they were
embedded. It was the colour of these fossil teeth, like that of a
toad's body, which led to the assertion that they were produced in the
head of the toad. _a._ A single detached tooth or "toad-stone" seen
from the bright unattached surface. _b._ The same seen from the
attached surface. _c._ A section of the tooth showing its cup-like
shape. (Original drawings.)]

I have examined twelve of these rings in the British Museum, through
the kindness of Sir Charles Read, P.S.A., the Keeper of Mediæval
Antiquities, and four in the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford. Two of these
are of chalcedony, with a figure of a toad roughly carved on the
stone, and are of a character and origin different from the others.
The others, which are the true and recognised "toad-stones" or
"_Bufonius lapis_," are circular, slightly convex "stones," of a drab
colour, with a smooth enamel-like surface. They are plate-like discs,
being of thin substance and concave on the lower surface, which has an
upstanding rim. I recognised them at once as the palatal teeth of a
fossil fish called "Lepidotus," common in our own oolitic and wealden
strata, and in rocks of that age all over the world. I give in Fig. 5
a drawing of a complete set of these teeth and of a single one
detached. They were white and colourless in life, but are stained of
various colours according to the nature of the rock in which they were
embedded. A drab colour like that of the skin of the common toad is
given to them by the iron salts present in many oolitic rocks; those
found in the wealden of the Isle of Wight are black. That the
"toad-stones" mounted in ancient rings are really the teeth of a fish
has been already recorded by the Rev. R. H. Newell ("The Zoology of
the English Poets," 1845), but he seems to be mistaken in identifying
them with those of the wolf-fish (Anarrhicas). They undoubtedly are
the palatal teeth of the fossil extinct ganoid fish Lepidotus.

Before leaving the queer inventions and assertions of the old writers
about these fossil teeth, which they declared to be taken out of the
toad's head, let me quote one delightful passage from a contemporary
of Shakespeare (Lupton: "A thousand notable things of sundry sortes.
Whereof some are wonderful, some strange, some pleasant, divers
necessary, a great sort profitable, and many very precious," London,
1595). "You shall know," he says, "whether the Toadstone called
'crapaudina' be the right and perfect stone or not. Hold the stone
before a toad, so that he may see it. And if it be a right and true
stone, the toad will leap towards it and make as though he would
snatch it from you; he envieth so much that a man should have that
stone. This was credibly told Mizaldus for truth by one of the French
King's physicians, which affirmed that he did see the trial thereof."

We have thus before us the actual things called toad-stones, and
believed by Shakespeare and his contemporaries to be found in the head
of the toad. How did it come about that these pretty little
button-like, drab-coloured fossil teeth were given such an erroneous
history? This question was answered by the late Rev. C. W. King,
Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, in his book on "Antique Gems"
(London, 1860). He says, "I am not aware if any substance of a stony
nature is ever now discovered within the head or body of the toad.
Probably the whole story originated in the name Batrachites
(frog-stone or toad-stone), given in Pliny to a gem brought from
Coptos, and so called from its resemblance to that animal in colour."
We have not, it must be noted, any specimens of the toad-stone at the
present day actually known to have been brought from Coptos. It is
quite possible that the fossil fish-tooth was substituted ages ago for
Pliny's Batrachites, and was never found at Coptos at all! Whether
that is so or not, the fact is that Pliny never said it came out of a
toad, but merely that it was of the colour of a toad.

The Pliny referred to is Pliny the Elder, the celebrated Roman
naturalist who wrote a great treatise on natural history, which we
still possess, and died in A.D. 79 whilst visiting the eruption of
Vesuvius. He says nothing of the Batrachites being found inside the
toad, nor does he mention its medicinal virtues. The name
alone--simply the name "Batrachites," the Greek for toad-stone--was
sufficient to lead the fertile imagination of the mediæval doctors to
invent all the other particulars! It is a case precisely similar to
that of the old lady who was credited with having vomited "three black
crows." When the report was traced step by step to its source it was
found that her nurse had stated that she vomited something as black as
a crow!

The belief in the existence of a stone of magical properties in the
head of the toad is only one of the many instances of beliefs of a
closely similar kind which were accepted by Pliny (although he records
no such belief as to the toad-stone), and were passed on from his
treatise on natural history in a more or less muddled form to the
middle ages, and so to our own time by later writers. Thus Pliny
cites, as stones possessing magical properties, the "Bronte" found in
the head of the tortoise, the Cinædia in the head of a fish of that
name, the Chelonites, a grass-green stone found in a swallow's belly,
the Draconites, which must be cut out of the head of a live serpent,
the Hyænia from the eye of the Hyæna, and the Saurites from the bowels
of a green lizard. All these and the Echites, or viper-stone, were
credited with extraordinary magical virtues, and many of the
assertions of later writers about the toad-stone are clearly due to
their having calmly transferred the marvellous stories about other
imaginary stones to the imaginary toad-stone. The only stone in the
above list which has a real existence is that in the fish's head. Fish
have a pair of beautiful translucent stones in their heads--the
ear-stones or otoliths--by the laminated structure of which we can now
determine the age of a fish just as a tree's age is told by the annual
rings of growth in the wood of its stem. The fresh-water crayfish has
a very curious pair of opaque stones (concretions of carbonate and
phosphate of lime) formed in its gizzard as a normal and regular
thing. They are familiar to every student who dissects a crayfish, and
I am told that in Germany to-day, as in old times also, the
"krebstein" is regarded by the country-folk as possessed of medicinal
and magical properties. I am not able, on the present occasion, to
trace out the possible origin of all the stories and beliefs about
stones occurring within animals. They are more numerous than those
cited by Pliny; they exist in every race and every civilization and
refer to a large variety of animals. Probably many of these beliefs
date from prehistoric times. In the East the most celebrated of these
stones, since the period of Arabic civilisation, is called a
bezoar-stone, "Bezoar" is the Persian word for "antidote," and does
not apply only to a stone. The true and original "bezoar-stone" of the
East is a concretion found in the intestine of the Persian wild goat.
Those which I have seen are usually of the size and shape of a
pigeon's egg and of a fine mahogany colour, with a smooth, polished
surface. The Persian goat's bezoar-stone is found, on chemical
analysis, to consist of "ellagic acid," an acid allied to gallic acid,
the vegetable astringent product which occurs in oak-galls used until
lately in the manufacture of ink. The bezoar-stone is probably a
concretion formed in the intestine from some of the undigested
portions of the goat's food. Such concretions are not uncommon, and
occur even in man. "Bezoar-stones" are obtained in the East from deer,
antelopes, and even monkeys, as well as goats, and must have a
different chemical nature in each case. Minute scrapings from these
stones are used in the East as medicine, and their chemical qualities
render their use not altogether absurd, though they probably have not
any really valuable action. It is probable that their use had a later
origin than that of the "stones" connected with magic and witchcraft.
Sixteenth century writers, ever ready to invent a history when their
knowledge was defective, declared the bezoar-stone to be formed by the
inspissated tears of the deer or of the gazelle--the "gum" which
Hamlet remarked in aged examples of the human species.

The substance called "ambergris" (grey amber), valued to-day as a
perfume, is a fæcal concretion similar to a bezoar-stone. It is formed
in the intestine of the sperm-whale, and contains fragments of the
hard parts of cuttle-fishes, which are the food of these whales.
"Hair-balls" are formed in the intestines of various large vegetarian
animals--and occasionally stony concretions of various chemical
composition are formed in the urinary bladder of various animals, as
well as of man. The "eagle-stone" is also a concretion to which
magical properties were ascribed. I have seen a specimen, but do not
know its history and origin. Glass beads found in prehistoric
burial-places are called by old writers "adders' eggs," and
"adder-stones," and were said (it is improbable that one should say
"believed") to hatch out young adders when incubated with sufficiently
silly ceremonies and observances. A celebrated "stone" of medicinal
reputation in the East is the "goa-stone." This is a purely artificial
product--a mass of the size and shape of a large egg, consisting of
some very fine and soft powder like fullers'-earth, sweetly scented,
and overlaid with gold-leaf. A very little is rubbed off, mixed with
water, and swallowed, as a remedy for many diseases. The deep
connection of medicine with magic throwing light on the strange
application of stones and hairs, bones and skins, by imaginative
mankind, in all ages and places, is exhibited in the common practice
of writing with ink a sentence of the Koran (or other sacred words) on
a tablet, washing off the ink and making the patient swallow the water
in which the sacred phrase has been thus dissolved! How convenient it
would be were it possible thus to impart knowledge, virtue, and health
to suffering humanity!

A good example of one of the ways in which magical properties become
attributed to natural objects is the stone known as amethyst. The
ancient Indian name of this stone had the sound represented by its
present name. In Greek this sound happens to mean "not intoxicated";
hence, without more ado, the ancients declared that the amethyst was a
preventive of, and a cure for, drunkenness.



CHAPTER VI

ELEPHANTS


In the novel by that clever but contradictious writer, Sam Butler,
entitled "The Way of All Flesh," an amiable and philosophically minded
old gentleman, who pervades the story, states that when one feels
worried or depressed by the incidents of one's daily life, great
comfort may be derived from an hour spent at the Zoological Gardens in
company with the larger mammalia. He ascribes to them a remarkable
soothing influence, and I am inclined to agree with him. I am not
prepared to decide whether the effect is due to the example of
patience under adversity offered by these animals, or whether it is
perhaps their tranquil indifference to everything but food, coupled
with their magnificent success in attaining to such dignity of size,
which imposes upon me and fills me for a brief space with resignation
and a child-like acquiescence in things as they are. The elephant
stands first as a soothing influence, and then the giraffe, the latter
having special powers, due to its beautiful eyes and agreeable
perfume. Sometimes the hippopotamus may diffuse a charm of his own, an
aura of rotund obesity, especially when he is bathing or sleeping; but
there are moments when one has to flee from his presence. I never
could get on very well with rhinoceroses, but the large deer, bison,
and wild cattle have the quality detected by Mr. Butler. So has the
gorgeous, well-grown tiger, in full measure, when he purrs in answer
to one's voice: but the lion is pompous, irritable, and easily upset.
He never purrs. He is unpleasantly and obscurely spotted. He seems to
be afraid of losing his dignity, and to be conscious of the fact that
his reputation--like that of some English officials--depends on the
overpowering wig which he now wears, though his Macedonian forerunner
had no such growth to give an illusive appearance of size and capacity
to his head. However opinions may differ about these things, we will
agree that the elephant (or "Oliphant," as he was called in France 400
years ago) is the most imposing, fascinating, and astonishing of all
animals.

[Illustration: Fig. 6.--The Indian elephant (_Elephas maximus_ or
_indicus_). Observe the small size of its ear-flap.]

At the present day there are two species only of elephant existing on
the earth's surface. These are the Indian (Fig. 6) (called _Elephas
indicus_, but sometimes called _Elephas maximus_ on account of the
priority which belongs to that designation, although the Indian
elephant is smaller than the other), and the African (Fig. 7) (called
_Elephas Africanus_). In the wild state their area of occupation has
become greatly diminished within historic times. The Indian elephant
was hunted in Mesopotamia in the twelfth century B.C., and Egyptian
drawings of the eighteenth dynasty show elephants of this species
brought as tribute by Syrian vassals. To-day the Indian elephant is
confined to certain forests of Hindoostan, Ceylon, Burma, and Siam.
The African elephant extended 100 years ago all over South Africa, and
in the days of the Carthaginians was found near the Mediterranean
shore, whilst in prehistoric (late Pleistocene) times it existed in
the south of Spain and in Sicily. Now it is confined to the more
central and equatorial zone of Africa, and is yearly receding before
the incursions and destructive attacks of civilised man.

[Illustration: Fig. 7.--The African elephant (_Elephas Africanus_)
with rider mounted on its back. The drawing is an enlarged
representation of an ancient Carthaginian coin.]

At no great distance of time before the historic period, earlier,
indeed, than the times of the herdsmen who used polished stone
implements and raised great stone circles, namely, in the late
Pleistocene period, we find that there existed all over Europe and
North Asia and the northern part of America another elephant very
closely allied to the Indian elephant, but having a bow-like outward
curvature of the tusks, their points finally directed towards one
another, and a thick growth of coarse hair all over the body. This is
"the mammoth," the remains of which are found in every river valley in
England, France and Germany, and of which whole carcases are
frequently discovered in Northern Siberia, preserved from decay in the
frozen river gravels and "silt." The ancient cave-men of France used
the fresh tusks of the mammoth killed on the spot for their carvings
and engravings, and from their time to this the ivory of the mammoth
has been, and remains, in constant use. It is estimated that during
the last two centuries at least 100 pairs of mammoths' tusks have been
each year exported from the frozen lands of Siberia. In early mediæval
times the trade existed, and some ivory carvings and drinking horns of
that age appear to be fashioned from this more ancient ivory.

Already, then, within the human period we find elephants closely
similar to those of our own time, far more numerous and more widely
distributed than in our own day, and happily established all over the
temperate regions of the earth--even in our Thames Valley and in the
forests where London now spreads its smoky brickwork. When we go
further back in time--as the diggings and surveying of modern man
enable us to do--we find other elephants of many different species,
some differing greatly from the three species I have mentioned, and
leading us back by gradual steps to a comparatively small animal,
about the size of a donkey, without the wonderful trunk or the immense
tusks of the later elephants. By the discovery and study of these
earlier forms we have within the last ten years arrived at a knowledge
of the steps by which the elephant acquired in the course of long ages
(millions of years) his "proboscis" (as the Greeks first called it),
and I will later sketch that history.

But now let us first of all note some of the peculiarities of living
elephants and the points by which the two kinds differ from one
another. The most striking fact about the elephant is its enormous
size. It is only exceeded among living animals by whales; it is far
larger than the biggest bull, or rhinoceros, or hippopotamus. A
fair-sized Indian elephant weighs two to three tons (Jumbo, one of the
African species, weighed five), and requires as food 60 lb. of oats,
1-1/2 truss of hay, 1-1/2 truss of corn a day, costing together in
this country about 5_s._; whereas a large cart-horse weighs 15 cwt.,
and requires weekly three trusses of hay and 80 lb. of oats, costing
together 12_s._ or about 1_s._ 8-1/2_d._ a day. It is this which has
proved fatal to the elephant since man took charge of the world. The
elephant requires so much food and takes so many years in growing up
(twenty or more before he is old enough to be put to work), that it is
only in countries where there is a super-abundance of forest in which
he can be allowed to grow to maturity at his own "charges" (so to
speak) that it is worth while to attempt to domesticate and make use
of him. For most purposes three horses are more "handy" than one
elephant. The elephant is caught when he is already grown up, and then
trained. It is as a matter of economy that he is not bred in
confinement, and not because there is any insuperable difficulty in
the matter. Occasionally elephants have bred in menageries.

There is no doubt that the African elephant at the present day grows
to a larger size than the Indian, though it was the opinion of the
Romans of the Empire that the Indian elephant was the more powerful,
courageous, and intelligent of the two. It seems next to impossible to
acquire at the present day either specimens or trustworthy records of
the largest Indian elephants. About 10 ft. 6 ins. at the shoulder
seems to be the maximum, though they are dressed up by their native
owners with platforms and coverings to make them look bigger. In India
the skin of domesticated individuals is polished and carefully
stained, like an old boot, by the assiduity of their guardians, so
that a museum specimen of exceptional size, fit for exhibition and
study, cannot be obtained. On the other hand, the African elephant not
unfrequently exceeds a height of 11 ft. at the shoulder. With some
trouble I obtained one exceeding this measurement direct from East
Africa for the Natural History Museum, where it now stands. It seems
highly probable that this species occasionally exceeds 12 ft. in
height. On the ground, between the great African elephant's fore and
hind legs, in the museum, I placed a stuffed specimen of the smallest
terrestrial mammal--the pigmy shrew-mouse. It is worth while thus
calling to mind that the little animal has practically every separate
bone, muscle, blood-vessel, nerve, and other structure present in the
huge monster compared with it--is, in fact, built closely upon the
same plan, and yet is so much smaller that it is impossible to measure
one by the other. The mouse is only about one fifth the length of the
elephant's eye. According to ancient Oriental fable, the mouse and the
dragon were the only two animals of which the elephant was afraid.

The African elephant has much larger tusks relatively to his size than
the Indian, and both males and females have them, whereas the Indian
female has none. A very fine Indian elephant's tusk weighs from 75 lb.
to 80 lb. The record for an African elephant's tusk was (according to
standard books) 180 lb. But I obtained ten years ago for the museum,
where it now may be seen, an African elephant's tusk weighing 228-1/2
lb. Its fellow weighed a couple of pounds less. It measures 10 ft. 2
in. in length along the curvature. This tusk was recognised by Sir
Henry Stanley's companion, Mr. Jephson, when he was with me in the
museum, as actually one which he had last seen in the centre of
Africa. He told me that he had, in fact, weighed and measured this
tusk in the treasury of Emin Pasha, in Central Africa, when he went
with Stanley to bring Emin down to the coast. As will be remembered,
Emin had no wish to go to the coast, but returned to his province. He
was subsequently attacked and murdered by an Arab chief, who
appropriated his store of ivory, and in the course of time had it
conveyed to the ivory market at Zanzibar. The date of the purchase
there of the museum specimen corresponds with the history given by Mr.
Jephson.

[Illustration: Fig. 8.--The crowns of three "grinders" or molars of
elephants compared. A is that of an extinct mastodon with four
transverse ridges; B is that of the African elephant with nine ridges
in use and ground flat; C is that of the mammoth with sixteen narrow
ridges in use--the rest, some eight in number, are at the left hand of
the figure and not yet in use.]

The African elephant (as could be seen by comparing the small one
living in Regent's Park with its neighbours) has a sloping forehead
graduating into the trunk or proboscis, instead of the broad, upright
brow of the Indian. He also has very much larger ears, which lie
against the shoulders (except when he is greatly excited) like a short
cape or cloak (see Fig. 7). These great ears differ somewhat in shape
in the elephants of different parts of Africa, and local races can be
distinguished by the longer or shorter angle into which the flap is
drawn out. The grinding teeth of the two elephants differ very
markedly, but one must see these in a museum. The grinders are very
large and long (from behind forwards), coming into place one after the
other. Each grinder occupies, when fully in position, the greater part
of one side of the upper or of the lower jaw. They are crossed from
right to left by ridges of enamel, like a series of mountains and
valleys, which gradually wear down by rubbing against those of the
tooth above or below. The biggest grinder of the Indian elephant has
twenty-four of these transverse ridges, whilst that of the African has
only eleven, which are therefore wider apart (see Fig. 8). An extinct
kind of elephant--the mastodon--had only five such ridges on its
biggest grinders, and four or only three on the others. Other
ancestral elephants had quite ordinary-looking grinders, with only two
or three irregular ridges or broad tubercles. Both the Indian and
African elephant have hairless, rough, very hard, wrinkled skins. But
the new-born young are covered with hair, and some Indian elephants
living in cold, mountainous regions appear to retain a certain amount
of hair through life. The mammoth (which agreed with the Indian
elephant in the number of ridges on its grinders and in other points)
lived in quite cold, sub-Arctic conditions, at a time when glaciers
completely covered Scandinavia and the north of our islands as well as
most of Germany. It retained a complete coat of coarse hair throughout
life. The young of our surviving elephants only exhibit transitorily
the family tendency.

The last mammoth probably disappeared from the area which is now Great
Britain about 150,000 years ago. It might be supposed that no elephant
was seen in England again until the creation of "menageries" and
"zoological gardens" within the last two or three hundred years. This,
however, is by no means the case. The Italians in the middle ages, and
through them the French and the rulers of Central Europe, kept
menageries and received as presents, or in connection with their trade
with the East and their relations with Eastern rulers, frequent
specimens of strange beasts from distant lands. Our King Henry I, had
a menagerie at Woodstock, where he kept a porcupine, lions, leopards,
and a camel! The Emperor Charlemagne received in 803 A.D. from Haroun
al Raschid, the Caliph of Bagdad, an elephant named Abulabaz. It was
brought to Aix-la-Chapelle by Isaac the Jew, and died suddenly in 810.
Some four and a half centuries later (in 1257), Louis IX, of France,
returning from the Holy Land, sent as a special and magnificent
present to Henry III, King of England (according to the chronicle of
Matthew Paris), an elephant which was exhibited at the Tower of
London. It was supposed by the chronicler to be the first ever brought
to England, and indeed the first to be taken beyond Italy, for he did
not know of Charlemagne's specimen. In 1591 King Henry IV of France,
wishing to be very polite to Queen Elizabeth of England, and
apparently rather troubled by the expense of keeping the beast
himself, sent to her, having heard that she would like to have it, an
elephant which had been brought from the "Indies" and landed at
Dieppe. He declared it to be the first which had ever come into
France, but presented it to Her Majesty "as I would most willingly
present anything more excellent did I possess it." Thenceforward
elephants were from time to time exhibited at the Tower, together with
lions and other strange beasts acquired by the Crown.

None of these elephants were, however, "the first who ever burst" into
remote Britain after the mammoths had disappeared, and we were
separated from Europe by the geological changes which gave us the
English Channel--La Manche. Though Julius Cæsar himself does not
mention it, it is definitely stated by a writer on strategy named
Polyænus, a friend of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius, but not, I am sorry
to say, an authority to whose statements historians attach any serious
value--that Cæsar made use of an elephant armed with iron plates and
carrying on its back a tower full of armed men to terrify the ancient
Britons when he crossed the Thames--an operation which he carried out,
I believe, somewhere between Molesey and Staines.

Elephants are often spoken of as "Ungulates," and classed by
naturalists with the hoofed animals (the odd toed tapirs,
rhinoceroses, and horses, and the even-toed pigs, camel, cattle, and
deer). But there is not much to say in defence of such an association.
The elephants have, as a matter of fact, not got hoofs, and they have
five toes on each foot. The five toes of the front foot have each a
nail, whilst usually only four toes of the hind foot have nails. A
speciality of the elephant is the great circular pad of thick skin
overlying fat and fibrous tissue, which forms the sole of the foot and
bears the animal's enormous weight. This buffer-like development of
the foot existed in some great extinct mammals (the Dinoceras family,
of North America), but is altogether different from the support given
by a horse's hoof or the paired shoe-like hoofs of great cattle or
the three rather elegant hoofed toes of the rhinoceros.

The Indian elephant likes good, solid ground to walk on, and when he
finds himself in a boggy place will seize any large objects
(preferably big branches of trees) and throw them under his feet to
prevent himself sinking in. Occasionally he will remove the stranger
who is riding on his back and make use of him in this way. The
circumference of the African elephant's fore-foot is found by hunters
to be half the animal's height at the shoulder, and is regarded as
furnishing a trustworthy indication of his stature.

The legs of the elephant differ from those of more familiar large
animals in the fact that the ankle and the wrist (the so-called knee
of the horse's foreleg) are not far above the sole of the foot
(resembling man's joints in this respect), whilst the true knee-joint
(called "the stifle" in horses)--instead of being, as in horses, high
up, close against the body, strongly flexed even when at rest, and
obscured by the skin--is far below the body, free and obvious enough.
In fact, the elephant keeps the thigh and the upper arm perpendicular
and in line with the lower segment of the limb when he is standing, so
that the legs are pillar-like. But he bends the joints amply when in
quick movement. The hind legs seen in action resemble, in the
proportions of thigh, foreleg, and foot, and the bending at the knee
and ankle, very closely those of a man walking on "all fours." The
elephant as known in Europe more than 300 years ago was rarely seen in
free movement. He was kept chained up in his stall, resting on his
straight, pillar-like legs and their pad-like feet. And with that
curious avidity for the marvellous which characterized serious writers
in those days to the exclusion of any desire or attempt to ascertain
the truth, it was coolly asserted, and then commonly believed, that
the elephant could not bend his legs. Shakespeare--who, of course, is
merely using a common belief of his time as a chance illustration of
human character--makes Ulysses say (referring to his own stiffness of
carriage) ("Troilus and Cressida," Act II) "The elephant hath joints,
but none for courtesy; his legs are legs for necessity, not for
flexure." An old writer says: "The elephant hath no joints, and, being
unable to lye down, it lieth against a tree, which, the hunters
observing, do saw almost asunder; whereon the beast relying--by the
fall of the tree falls also down itself, and is able to rise no more."
Another old writer (Bartholomew, 1485), says, more correctly: "When
the elephant sitteth he bendeth his feet; he bendeth the hinder legs
right as a man."

A writer of 120 years later in date (Topsell) says: "In the River
Ganges there are blue worms of sixty cubits long having two arms;
these when the elephants come to drink in that river take their trunks
in their hands and pull them off. At the sight of a beautiful woman
elephants leave off all rage and grow meek and gentle. In Africa there
are certain springs of water which, if at any time they dry up, they
are opened and recovered again by the teeth of elephants." The blue
worm of the Ganges referred to is no doubt the crocodile; both in
India and Africa animals coming to the rivers to drink are seized by
lurking crocodiles, who fix their powerful jaws on to the face (snout
or muzzle) of the drinking animal and drag it under the water. Thus
the fable has arisen of the origin of the elephant's trunk as
recounted by Mr. Rudyard Kipling. A young elephant (before the days of
trunks), according to this authority, when drinking at a riverside had
his moderate and well-shaped snout seized by a crocodile. The little
elephant pulled and the crocodile pulled, and by the help of a
friendly python the elephant got the best of it. He extricated himself
from the jaws of death. But, oh! what a difference in his appearance!
His snout was drawn out so as to form that wonderful elongated thing
with two nostrils at the end which we call the elephant's trunk, and
was henceforth transmitted (a first-rate example of an "acquired
character") to future generations! The real origin of the elephant's
trunk is (as I will explain later) a different one from that handed
down to us in the delightful jungle-book. I do not believe in the
hereditary transmission of acquired modifications!

Topsell may or may not be right as to the result produced on elephants
by the sight of a beautiful woman. In Africa the experiment would be a
difficult one, and even in India inconclusive. Topsell seems, however,
to have come across correct information about the digging for water by
an African elephant by the use of his great tusks--those tusks for the
gain of which he is now being rapidly exterminated by man. Serious
drought is frequent in Africa, and a cause of death to thousands of
animals. African elephants, working in company, are known to have
excavated holes in dried-up river beds to the depth of 25 feet in a
single night in search of water. It is probable that the Indian
elephant's tusk would not be of service in such digging, and it is to
be noted that he is rather an inhabitant of high ground and
table-lands than of tropical plains liable to flood and to drought.
The tusk of the Indian elephant has become merely a weapon of attack
for the male, and there are even local breeds in which it is absent in
the males as well as in the females. The mammoth was a near cousin of
the Indian elephant, and inhabited cold uplands and the fringes of
sub-Arctic forests, on which he fed. His tusks were very large, and
curved first outward and then inward at the tips. They would not have
served for heavy digging, and probably were used for forcing a way
through the forest and as a protection to the face and trunk.

The trunk of the elephant was called "a hand" by old writers, and it
seems to have acted in the development of the elephant's intelligence
in the same way as man's hand has in regard to his mental growth,
though in a less degree. The Indian elephant has a single tactile and
grasping projection (sometimes called "a finger") placed above between
the two nostrils at the end of the trunk; the African elephant has one
above and one below. I have seen the elephant pick up with this
wonderful trunk with equal facility a heavy man and then a threepenny
piece.

The intelligence of the elephant is sometimes exaggerated by reports
and stories; sometimes it is not sufficiently appreciated. It is not
fair to compare the intelligence of the elephant with that of the
dog--bred and trained by man for thousands of years. So far as one can
judge, there is no wild animal, excepting the higher apes, which
exhibits so much and such varied intelligence as the elephant. It
appears that from early tertiary times (late Eocene) the ancestors of
elephants have had large brains, whilst, when we go back so far as
this, the ancestors of nearly all other animals had brains a quarter
of the size (and even less in proportion to body-size) which their
modern representatives have. Probably the early possession of a large
brain at a geological period when brains were as a rule small is what
has enabled the elephants not only to survive until to-day, but to
spread over the whole world (except Australia), and to develop an
immense variety and number of individuals throughout the tertiary
series in spite of their ungainly size. It is only the yet bigger
brain of man which (would it were not so!) is now at last driving this
lovable giant, this vast compound of sagacity and strength, out of
existence. The elephant--like man standing on his hind legs--has a
wide survey of things around him owing to his height. He can take time
to allow of cerebral intervention in his actions since he is so large
that he has little cause to be afraid and to hurry. He has a fine and
delicate exploring organ in his trunk, with its hand-like termination;
with this he can, and does, experiment and builds up his individual
knowledge and experience. Elephants act together in the wild state,
aiding one another to uproot trees too large for one to deal with
alone. They readily understand and accept the guidance of man, and
with very small persuasion and teaching execute very dextrous
work--such as the piling of timber. If man had selected the more
intelligent elephants for breeding over a space of a couple of
thousand years a prodigy of animal intelligence would have resulted.
But man has never "bred" the elephant at all.

The Greeks and Romans knew ivory first, and then became acquainted
with the elephant. The island of Elephantina in the Nile was from the
earliest times a seat of trade in the ivory tusks of the African
elephant, and so acquired its name. Herodotus is the first to mention
the elephant itself; Homer only refers to the ivory by the word
"elephas." Aristotle in this, as in other matters, is more correct
than later writers. He probably received first-hand information about
the elephant from Alexander and some of his men after their Indian
expedition. The Romans had an unpleasant first personal experience of
elephants when Pyrrhus, King of Epirus, landed a number with his army
and put the Roman soldiers to flight. But the Romans then, and
continually in after-times, showed their cool heads and sound judgment
in a certain contempt for elephants as engines of war. They soon
learned to dig pits on the battlefield to entrap the great beasts, and
they deliberately made for the elephants' trunks, hewing them through
with their swords, so that the agonised and maddened creatures turned
round and trampled down the troops of their own side. The Romans only
used them subsequently to terrify barbaric people, and as features in
military processions. But Eastern nations used them extensively in
war. In A.D. 217 Antiochus the Great brought 217 elephants in his army
against 73 employed by Ptolemy, at what was called "the Battle of the
Elephants." The battle commenced by the charging head to head of the
opposing elephants and the discharge of arrows, spears and stones by
the men in the towers on their backs.

An interesting question has been raised as to whether the elephants
used by the Carthaginians were the African species or the Indian.
There is no doubt that the elephants of Pyrrhus and those known to
Alexander were the Indian, though they were taken in those days much
to the West of India, namely, in Mesopotamia, and it would not have
been difficult for the Carthaginians to convey Indian elephants, which
had certainly been brought as far as Egypt, along the Mediterranean
coast. An unfounded prejudice as to the want of docility of the
African elephant has favoured the notion that the Carthaginians used
the Indian elephant. As a matter of fact, no one in modern times has
tried to train the African elephant, except here and there in a
zoological garden. Probably the Indian "mahout," or elephant trainer
could, if he were put to it, do as much with an African as he does
with an Indian elephant. It would be an interesting experiment. In the
next place, there is decisive evidence that it was the African
elephant which the Carthaginians used, since we have a Carthaginian
coin (Fig. 7) on which is beautifully represented--in unmistakable
modelling--the African elephant, with his large triangular cape-like
ears and his sloping forehead. In the time of Hannibal there were
stables for over 300 of these elephants at Carthage, and he took fifty
with him to the South of France with his army for the Italian
invasion. He only got thirty-seven safely over the Rhone, and all but
a dozen or so died in the terrible passage of the Alps. After the
battle of Trebia he had only eight left, and when he had crossed the
Apennines there was only one still alive. On this Hannibal himself
rode.

Since the period when the white chalk which now forms our cliffs and
hills was deposited at the bottom of a vast and deep ocean--the sea
bottom has been raised, the chalk has emerged and risen on the top of
hills to 800 feet in height in our own islands, and to ten times that
height elsewhere, and during that process sands and clays and shelly
gravels have been deposited to the thickness of some 2,800 feet by
seas and estuaries and lakes, which have come and gone on the face of
Europe and of other parts of the world as it has slowly sunk and
slowly risen again. The last 200 feet or so of deposits we call the
Pleistocene or Quaternary; the rest are known as the Tertiary strata.
They are only a small part of the total thickness of aqueous deposit
of stratified rock--which amounts to 60,000 feet more before the
earliest remains of life in the Cambrian beds are reached, whilst
older than, and therefore below this, we have another 50,000 feet of
water-made rock which yields no fossils--no remains of living things,
though living things were certainly there! Our little layer of
Tertiary strata on the top is, however, very important. It took
several million years in forming, although it is only one-fortieth of
the whole thickness of aqueous deposit on the crust of the earth. We
divide it into Pliocene, Miocene, and Eocene, and each of these into
upper, middle, and lower, the Eocene being the oldest. Our London clay
and Woolwich sands are lower Eocene; there is a good deal of Miocene
in Switzerland and Germany, whilst the Pliocene is represented by
whole provinces of Italy, parts of central France, and by the White
and Red "crags" of Suffolk.[5]

[Illustration: Fig. 9.--Skeleton of the Indian elephant. Only four
toes are visible, the fifth concealed owing to the view from the
side.]

It is during this Tertiary period that the mammals--the warm-blooded,
hairy quadrupeds, which suckle their young--have developed (they had
come into existence a good deal earlier), and we find the remains of
ancestral forms of the living kinds of cattle, pigs, horses,
rhinoceroses, tapirs, elephants, lions, wolves, bears, etc., embedded
in the successive layers of Tertiary deposits. Naturally enough, those
most like the present animals are found in late Pliocene, and those
which are close to the common ancestors of many of the later kinds are
found in the Eocene, whilst we also find, at various levels of the
Tertiary deposit, remains of side-branches of the mammalian pedigree,
which, though including very powerful and remarkable beasts, have left
no line of descent to represent them at the present day. We have been
able to trace the great modern one-toed horses, zebras, and asses,
with their complicated pattern of grinding-teeth back by quite gradual
steps (represented by the bones and teeth of fossil kinds of horses),
to smaller three-toed animals with simpler tuberculated teeth, and
even, without any marked break in the series, to a small Eocene animal
(not bigger than a spaniel) with four equal-sized toes on its front
foot, and three on its hind foot. We know, too, a less direct series
of intermediate forms leading beyond this to an animal with five toes
on each foot and "typical" teeth. In fact, no one doubts that
(leaving aside a few difficult and doubtful cases) all such big
existing mammals, as I mentioned above, as well as monkeys and man,
are derived from small mammals--intermediate in most ways between a
hedgehog and a pig--which flourished in very early Eocene times, and
had five toes on each foot, and "a typical dentition." Even the
elephants came from such a small ancestral form. The common notion
that the extinct forerunners of existing animals were much bigger than
recent kinds, and even gigantic, is not in accordance with fact. Some
extinct animals were of very great size--especially the great reptiles
of the period long before the Tertiaries, and before the chalk. But
the recent horse, the recent elephant, the giraffe, the lions, bears,
and others, are bigger--some much bigger--than the ancestral forms, to
which we can trace them by the wonderfully preserved and wonderfully
collected and worked-out fossilised bones discovered in the successive
layers of the Pliocene, Miocene, and Eocene strata, leading us as we
descend to more primitive, simplified, and smaller ancestors.

It is easy to understand the initial character of the foot of the
early ancestral mammals. It had five toes. By the suppression or
atrophy of first the innermost toe, then of the outermost, you find
that mammals may first acquire four toes only, and then only three,
and by repeating the process the toes may be reduced to two, or right
away to one, the original middle toe. There is no special difficulty
about tracing back the elephants in so far as this matter is
concerned, since they have kept (like man and some other mammals) the
full typical complement of five toes on each foot.

But I must explain a little more at length what was the "typical
dentition,"--that is to say, the exact number and form of the teeth in
each half of the upper and the lower jaw of the early mammalian
ancestor of lower Eocene times, or just before. The jaws were drawn
out into a snout or muzzle, an elongated, protruding "face," as in a
dog or deer or hedgehog, and there were numerous teeth set in a row
along the gums of the upper and the lower jaw. The teeth were the same
in number, in upper and in lower jaw, and so formed as to work
together, those of the lower jaw shutting as a rule just a little in
front of the corresponding teeth of the upper jaw. There were above
and below, in front, six small chisel-like teeth, which we call "the
incisors." At the corner of the mouth above and below on each side
flanking these was a corner tooth, or dog-tooth, a little bigger than
the incisors, and more pointed and projecting. These we call "the
canines," four in all. Then we turn the corner of the mouth-front, as
it were, and come to the "grinders," cheek-teeth or molars. These are
placed in a row along each half of upper and lower jaw. In our early
mammalian ancestor they were seven in number, with broader crowns than
the peg-like incisors and canines, the bright polished enamel of the
crown being raised up into two, three or four cone-like prominences.
The back grinders are broader and bigger than those nearer the
dog-tooth. The three hindermost grinders in each half of each jaw are
not replaced by "second" teeth, whilst all the other teeth are.

[Illustration: Fig. 10.--The teeth in the upper and lower jaw-bone of
the common pig--drawn from photographs. A and B represent the right
half of the lower jaw (A) and the right half of the upper jaw (B) seen
in horizontal position. _Inc._ are the incisors or chisel-like front
teeth, three in number, in each half of each jaw and marked 1, 2, 3.
_C_ marks the canine or dog-tooth, which here grows to be a large
tusk. The molars, "grinders," or cheek teeth are marked 1 to 7. Figs.
C and D give a side view of the left halves of the upper (C) and of
the lower jaw-bone (D), with the teeth in place. The bone has been
partly cut away so as to show the fangs or roots of the teeth, which
are double in the molars, and even threefold in molar No. 7. The
explanation of the lettering is the same as that given for Figs. A and
B. The letter _p_ in Fig. B points to a "foramen" or hole in the upper
jaw-bone. These drawings are introduced here as showing the _complete_
number of teeth which the ancestor of pigs, goats, elephants, dogs,
tigers, men, and even whales possessed. The reduction in number and
the alteration in the shape of the primitive full set of teeth is
referred to in the present chapter on "Elephants," and in those on
"Vegetarians and their Teeth" (p. 102), and on "A Strange Extinct
Beast" (p. 92).]

Now this typical set of teeth--consisting of twenty-eight grinders,
four canines, and twelve incisors--is not found complete in many
mammals at the present day, though it is found more frequently as we
go back to earlier strata.[6] Though some mammals have kept close to
the original number, they have developed peculiar shape and qualities
in some of the teeth as well as changes in size. The common pig still
keeps the typical number (Fig. 10), but he has developed the corner
teeth or canines into enormous tusks both in the upper and lower jaw,
and the more anterior grinders have become quite minute. The cats
(lions and tigers included) have kept the full number of incisors (see
Figs. 21 and 22, pp. 103, 104); they have developed the four canines
into enormous and deadly stabbing "fangs," and they have lost all the
grinders but three in each half of the lower jaw and four in each half
of the upper jaw (twelve instead of twenty-eight), and these have
become sharp-edged so as to be scissor-like in their action, instead
of crushing or grinding. Man and the old-world monkeys have lost an
incisor in each half of each jaw (see Pls. VI and VII); they retain
the canines, but have only five molars in each half of each jaw
(twenty in all instead of twenty-eight). Most of the mammals--whatever
change of number and shape has befallen their teeth in adaptation to
their different requirements as to the kind of food and mode of
getting it--have retained a good long pair of jaws and a snout or
muzzle consisting of nose, upper jaw, and lower jaw, projecting well
in front of the eyes and brain-case. Man is remarkable as an
exception. In the higher races of men the jaws are shorter than in the
lower races, and project but very little beyond the vertical plane of
the eyes, whilst the nose projects beyond the lips. Another exception
is the elephant. This is most obvious when the prepared bony skull and
lower jaw are examined, but can be sufficiently clearly seen in the
living animal. The lower jaw and the part of the upper jaw against
which it and its grinders play is extraordinarily short and small. The
elephant has, in fact, no projecting bony jaw at all, no bony snout,
its chin does not project more than that of an old man, and even the
part of the upper jaw into which its great tusks are set does not bend
forward far from the perpendicular (Fig. 9).

[Illustration: Fig. 11.--A reconstruction of the extinct American
mastodon (_Mastodon ohioticus_) from a drawing by Prof. Osborne. Other
extinct species of mastodon are found in Europe.]

[Illustration: Fig. 12.--A. Skull, and B. restored outline of the head
of the long-jawed extinct elephant called Tetrabelodon--the name
referring to its four large tusks--two above and two below.]

The elephant (see Fig. 9) has no sign of the six little front teeth
(incisors) above and below which we find in the typical dentition and
in many living mammals, nor of the corner teeth (dog-teeth, or
canines). In the upper jaw in front there is the one huge tusk on
each side, and in the lower jaw no front teeth at all! Then as to the
grinders. In the elephant these are enormous, with many transverse
ridges on the elongated crown, and so big that there is only room for
one at a time in each half of upper and lower jaw. Six of these
succeed one another in each half of each jaw, and correspond (though
greatly altered) to six of the seven grinders of the typical
dentition. Are there amongst older fossil elephants and animals like
elephants any which have an intermediate condition of the teeth,
connecting the extremely peculiar teeth of the modern elephants with
the typical dentition such as is approached by the pig, the dog, the
tapir, and the hedgehog? There are such links. We know a great many
elephants from Pleistocene and Pliocene strata--some from European
localities, more from India, and some from America. A little elephant
not more than 3 feet high when adult is found fossil in the island of
Malta; other species were a little larger than the living African
elephant. Whilst the Indian elephant has as many as twenty-four
cross-ridges on its biggest grinding tooth (Fig. 8) there is a fossil
kind which has only six such ridges. But besides true elephants we
know from the Pliocene, Miocene, and Upper Eocene of the old world,
the remains of elephant-like creatures (some as big as true
elephants), which are distinguished by the name "Mastodon" (Fig. 11).
And, in fact, we are conducted through a series of changes of form by
ancient elephant-like creatures which are of older and older date as
we pass along the series, and are known as (1) Mastodon, (2)
Tetrabelodon, (3) Palæomastodon, (4) Meritherium, until we come to
something approaching the general form of skull and skeleton and the
typical dentition of the early mammalian ancestor. Mastodons of
several species are found in Pliocene strata in Europe and Asia;
detached teeth are found in Suffolk. One species actually survived
(why, we do not know) in North America into the early human period,
and whole skeletons of it are dug out from the morasses such as that
of "Big-bone Lick." The Mastodons had a longer jaw and face than the
elephants, though closely allied to them. They bring one nearer to
ordinary mammals in that fact, and also in having (when young) two
front teeth or incisors in the lower jaw. Their grinders had the
crowns less elongated than those of the elephants, and there were only
five cross-ridges--on the biggest--and these ridges tend to divide
into separate cones (Fig. 8). So here, too, we are approaching the
ordinary mammals, of which we may keep the pig and the tapir in mind
as samples. But the Mastodons still had the great trunk and huge tusks
of the elephants.

Next we must look at Tetrabelodon (Fig. 12), and it is this creature
which has really revealed the history of the strange metamorphosis by
which elephants were produced. The Tetrabelodon is known as "the
long-jawed mastodon," because, as was shown in a wonderfully
well-preserved skeleton from the lower Pliocene of the centre of
France, set up in the Paris Museum, it had a lower jaw of enormous
length, ending in two large horizontally directed teeth (Fig. 12).
Instead of a lower jaw a foot long, as in an elephant or in the common
kind of mastodon--this long-jawed kind had a lower jaw 5 feet or 6
feet long! The tusks of the upper jaw were large, and nearly
horizontal in direction, bent downwards a little on each side of the
long lower jaw. This lower jaw seemed incomprehensible, almost a
monstrosity--until it occurred to me that it exactly corresponds to
the elongated upper lip and nose which we call the elephant's
trunk--and that the trunk of "Tetrabelodon" must have rested on his
long lower jaw. In descending to Tetrabelodon we leave behind us the
elephants with hanging unsupported trunk; the lower jaw here is of
sufficient length to support the great trunk. When the lower jaw
shortened in the later mastodons and elephants the trunk did not
shorten too, but remained free and depending, capable of large
movement and of grasping with its extremity. Photographs, casts, and
actual specimens of the extraordinary skull of the long-jawed mastodon
or Tetrabelodon and of the creatures mentioned below may be seen in
the Natural History Museum.

Lastly we have the wonderful series of discoveries made about twelve
years ago by Dr. Andrews (of the Natural History Museum) of
elephant-like creatures in the upper Eocene of the Fayoum Desert of
Egypt. Palæomastodon (the name given by Dr. Andrews to one of them) is
a "pig-like" mastodon, with an elongated, bony face, the tusks of
moderate size, and the lower jaw not projecting more than a few inches
beyond them, so that the proboscis is quite short and rests well on it
(Fig. 13). This animal had six moderate sized grinders (molars or
cheek-teeth) on each side of each jaw in position simultaneously, as
may be seen in the complete skull shown in Fig. 14. Of other teeth it
had only the two moderate-sized front tusks above and two very big,
chisel-like "incisors" in the front of the lower jaw. Exactly how
these were used and for what food no one has yet made out.

[Illustration: Fig. 13.--Head of the ancestral elephant--Palæomastodon--as
it appeared in life. It shows, as compared with the earlier ancestor,
an elongation both of the snout and the lower jaws. The tusk in the
upper jaw has increased in size, but is still small as compared with
that of later elephants. (After a drawing by Prof. Osborne.)]

[Illustration: Fig. 14.--Restored model of the skull and lower jaw of
the ancestral elephant Palæomastodon from the upper Eocene strata of
the Fayoum Desert, Egypt. It shows the six molar teeth of the upper
and lower jaw (left side), the tusk-like upper incisors and the large
chisel-like lower incisors in front.]

The remains, which finally bring the elephants into line with the
ordinary mammals with typical dentition, were discovered also by Dr.
Andrews and named "Meritherium" by him, signifying "the beast of the
Lake Meris." This creature is not bigger than a tapir, and had the
shape of head and face which we see in that and the ordinary hoofed
animals (Fig. 15). It had no trunk, and whilst it had six small and
simplified mastodon-like grinders in each half of each jaw, it had six
incisors in the upper jaw and a canine or corner tooth on each side.
In the lower jaw there were only two large incisors besides the
cheek-teeth or grinders. Not the least interesting point about
Meritherium is that it tells us which of the front upper teeth have
become the huge tusks of the later elephants. Counting from the middle
line there are in Meritherium three incisors right and three left. The
second of these upper teeth on each side is much larger than the
others. It is this (seen in Fig. 15) which has grown larger and larger
in later descendants of this primitive form and become the elephant's
tusk, whilst all the others have disappeared.

[Illustration: Fig. 15.--Head of the early ancestor of
elephants--Meritherium--as it appeared in life. Observe the absence of
a trunk and the enlarged front tooth in the upper jaw, which is
converted in later members of the elephant-stock or line of descent
into the great tusk. (After a drawing by Prof. Osborne.)]

We now know the complete series of steps connecting elephants with
ordinary trunkless, tuskless mammals. The transition from the "beast
of Meris" on the one hand to the common typidentate mammalian
ancestor, and on the other hand to the elephants, is easy, and
requires no effort of the imagination. His short muzzle (upper and
lower jaw), first elongated step by step to a considerable length,
giving us Palæomastodon (Fig. 13). Then the lower jaw shrunk and
became shorter than it was at the start, and the rest of the muzzle
(the front part of the upper jaw, carrying with it the nostrils),
drooped and became the mobile muscular elephant's trunk!

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 5: I am inclined to think that the line between Pliocene and
Pleistocene or Quaternary ought, in this country, to be drawn between
the White and Red Crag of Suffolk. Glacial conditions set in and were
recurrent from the commencement of the Red Crag deposit onwards.]

[Footnote 6: Mammals having the number and form of teeth which I have
just described as typical--or such modification of it as can easily be
produced by suppression of some teeth and enlargement of others--are
called Typidentata. On the other hand, the whales, the sloths,
ant-eaters, and armadilloes, as also the Marsupials, are called
Variodentata, because we cannot derive their teeth from those of the
Typidentate ancestor. They form lines of descent which separated from
the other mammals before the Typidentate ancestor of all, except the
groups just named, was evolved.]



CHAPTER VII

A STRANGE EXTINCT BEAST


The terraces of gravel deposited by existing rivers and the deposits
in caverns in the limestone regions of Western Europe--the so-called
"Pleistocene" strata--contain, besides the flint weapons of man and
rare specimens of his bones, the remains of animals which are either
identical with those living at the present day (though many of them
are not living now in Europe) or of animals very closely similar to
living species. Thus we find the bones of horses like the wild horse
of Mongolia, of the great bull (the Urus of Cæsar), of the bison, of
deer and goats, of the Siberian big-nosed antelope, of the musk-ox
(now living within the Arctic circle), of the wild boar, of the
hippopotamus (like that of the Nile), and of lions, hyenas, bears, and
wolves. The most noteworthy of the animals like to, but not identical
with, any living species are the mammoth, which is very close to the
Indian elephant, but has a hairy coat; the hairy rhinoceros, like, but
not quite the same as, the African square-mouthed rhinoceros; and the
great Irish deer, which is like a giant fallow-deer. These three
animals are really extinct kinds or species, but are not very far from
living kinds. In fact, the most recent geological deposits do not
contain any animals so peculiar, when compared with living animals, as
to necessitate a wide separation of the fossil animal from living
"congeners" by the naturalist who classifies animals and tries to
exhibit their degrees of likeness and relationship to one another by
the names he adopts for them. The mammoth is a distinct "species" of
elephant. It requires, it is true, a "specific" or "second" name of
its own; but it belongs to the genus elephant. Hence we call it
_Elephas primigenius_, whilst the living Indian elephant is _Elephas
Indicus_. The reader is referred to the preceding chapter for further
notes about elephants.

The strata next below the Pleistocene gravels and cave deposits are
ascribed to the "Pliocene age"--older than these are the "Miocene" and
the "Eocene," and then you come to the Chalk, a good white landmark
separating newer from older strata.

We know now in great detail the skeletons and jaws of some hundreds of
kinds of extinct animals of very different groups found in the Eocene,
the Miocene, the Pliocene, and the Pleistocene layers of clays, sands,
and gravels of this part of the world. Nothing very strange or unlike
what is now living is found in the Pleistocene--the latest
deposits--but when we go further back strange creatures are
discovered, becoming stranger and less like living things as we pass
through Pliocene to Miocene, and on--downwards in layers, backwards in
time--to the Eocene.

Though the past history of the Mediterranean sea shows that it was
formerly not so extensive as it is now, and that there were junctions
between Europe and Africa across its waters, yet the deeper parts of
that sea are very ancient, and some of the islands have long been
isolated. In Malta the remains of extraordinary species of minute
elephants have been found, one no larger than a small donkey, and in
the island of Cyprus an English lady, Miss Dorothea Bate, has
discovered the bones of a pigmy hippopotamus (like that still living
in Liberia) no larger than a sheep. Miss Bate some three years ago
heard of the existence of a bone-containing deposit of Pleistocene age
in limestone caverns and fissures in the island of Majorca, and with
the true enthusiasm of an explorer determined to carry on some
"digging" there and see what might turn up. In the following spring
she was there, and obtained a number of bones, jaws, and portions of
skulls, which appeared at first sight to be those of a small goat. Its
size may be gathered from the fact that its skull is six inches long.
These and the bones of a few small finches were all that rewarded her
pains. The bones of fossil goats (of living species) are found in
caves at Gibraltar and in Spain; so at first the result seemed
disappointing. But on carefully clearing out the specimens and
examining them in London, Miss Bate found that the supposed goat bones
obtained by her in Majorca were really those of a new and most
extraordinary animal, to which (in a paper published in the
"Geological Magazine" in September, 1910) she has given the name
"_Myotragus balearicus_."

[Illustration: Fig. 16.--Side-view of the skull and lower jaw of a
goat. _inc. i._ The three lower incisor teeth of the left side. _can.
i._ The little canine teeth grouped with them. _p._ The toothless
front part of the upper jaw. _m. s._ Upper molars or "grinders." _m.
i._ Lower molars or grinders. Compare this and the following figures
with Fig. 10, showing the more complete "dentition" of the pig.]

[Illustration: Fig. 17.--Horizontal view of the teeth in the lower and
upper jaw of the goat. In front of the lower jaw the group of three
incisors (_inc. i._) and one canine is seen, whilst the toothless bony
plate (_p._) of the upper jaw, against which they work, is seen in the
right-hand half of the figure. The molars, "grinders," or cheek-teeth
are numbered 1 to 6 in each jaw.]

[Illustration: Fig. 18.--Side view of the skull of a typical "rodent"
mammal, the Coypu rat (_Myocastor coypus_) from South America. _inc.
s._ Upper incisor. _inc. i._ Lower incisor. _m. s._, _m. i._ Upper and
lower molars, grinders or cheek-teeth.]

I must ask the reader now to look at the figures here given (Figs. 16
and 17) of the skull and the lower jaw of a goat. The lower jaw might
(except for size) pass for that of a sheep, ox, antelope or deer. They
are all alike. There are on each side six grinding cheek-teeth
(molars), and then as we pass to the front we find a long toothless
gap until we come to the middle line where the two halves of the jaw
unite. There we see a little semicircular group of eight chisel-like
teeth, which work against the toothless pad of the upper jaw opposed
to them, and are the instruments by which these animals, with an
upward jerk of the head, "crop" the grass and other herbage on which
they feed, to be afterwards triturated by the grinding cheek teeth. A
vast series of living and of fossil animals, called the
Ruminants--including the giraffes, the antler-bearing forms called
deer, the cavicorn or sheath-horned bovines, ovines and caprines, and
the large series of antelopes of Africa and India--all have precisely
this form of jaw, this number and shape and grouping of the teeth. Now
let me call to mind the lower jaw of a hare or rabbit or rat (Figs. 18
and 19). There we find on each side the group of grinding cheek-teeth,
with transverse ridges on their crowns, and a long, toothless gap
before we arrive at the front teeth. But the front teeth are only two
in number, one on each side, close to each other, very large, and each
with a tremendously long, deeply set root. They meet a similar pair of
teeth in the upper jaw, and give the hare, rabbit, rats, mice,
beavers, and porcupines the power of "gnawing" tough substances.
These animals are hence called Rodents, or gnawers, and the two great
front teeth are called "rodent-teeth." No two arrangements of teeth
could be much more unlike than are the group of eight little
chisel-like teeth of the lower jaw of the Ruminants and the two
enormous gnawing teeth of the Rodents. Apparently the two rodent
incisors, or front teeth, of the lower jaw of the rat correspond to
the two middle incisors of the Ruminant's lower jaw; the other front
teeth of the Ruminant have atrophied, disappeared altogether. The
rodent condition has been developed from that of an ancestor which
had several front teeth and not two large ones only; but we have not
at present found the intermediate steps.

[Illustration: Fig. 19.--View in the horizontal plane of the teeth of
the left half of the lower and the left half of the upper jaw of the
Coypu rat to show the single great gnawing incisor on each side, the
four flat grinding molars and the wide gap between molars and
incisors. Compare with Figs. 17 and 22.]

The reader should compare the teeth of the goat and the large rat here
pictured with the more typical and complete series of the pig, given
in Fig. 10, p. 84. The pig's teeth are the same in number as those of
the ancestral primitive typidentate mammal, and their form is near to
that of the ancestor's teeth.

Now I come to the extraordinary interest of Miss Bate's goat-like or
antelope-like animal from Majorca. Although it is shown by its skull
(Fig. 20) and other bones to be distinctly one of the sheath-horned
Ruminants, very like a small goat or antelope, the lower jaw, of which
there are several specimens, does not present in front the little
group of eight small chisel-like "cropping" teeth, but, instead, two
enormous rodent teeth placed side by side, very deeply fixed in the
jaw, and quite like those of some rat-like animals in shape. Hence the
name given to this little marvel by Miss Bate--"Myotragus," "the
rat-goat." This strange little animal also differs from goats and
antelopes in having proportionately much thicker and shorter "feet"
(cannon-bones) than they have.

If the remains of this strange little creature had turned up in more
ancient strata--in Pliocene or Miocene--it would have not been quite
so astonishing. But it would be still very remarkable, since it has
all the characters of a goat-like creature in the shape of its skull,
its bony horn-cores, its limb-bones, and its cheek-teeth; and yet, as
it were monstrously and in a most disconcerting way, protrudes from
its lower jaw two great rats' teeth. Nothing like it or approaching it
or suggesting it, is known among recent or fossil Ruminants. They all
without exception have a lower jaw with the teeth of the exact number
and grouping which you may see in a sheep's lower jaw. We know
hundreds of them, both living and fossil, many from the Pleistocene,
others from Pliocene deposits, and even from the still older Miocene,
but all keep to the one pattern of lower jaw and lower jaw teeth. It
is only in this little island of Majorca, surrounded by very deep
water and not known to have nurtured any other animal so large in size
either in recent or geologic times, that we come upon a Ruminant with
horns like a goat's, but with great rat-like front teeth in place of
the semicircle of eight little cropping toothlets. The wonderful thing
is that the bones found by Miss Bate are light and well preserved,
evidently not very ancient--probably late Pleistocene in age.

[Illustration: Fig. 20.--Drawing of the skull of the rat-toothed goat,
Myotragus--the new extinct beast discovered in limestone fissures in
the island of Majorca by Miss Bate. 1. Side view of the skull and
lower jaw. 2. Appearance of the two rat-like teeth as seen when the
end of the lower jaw is viewed from above.]

The questions that arise are: Where did the rat-goat come from? How
did this utterly peculiar change in a Ruminant's teeth come about?
With regard to the second question, it is a matter of importance that
although we have hitherto not discovered any Ruminants with this
modification of the teeth, still less any cavicorn or sheath-horned
Ruminant so altered, yet it is by no means rare amongst herbivorous
mammals to find such rat-like teeth making their appearance, whilst
the smaller side-teeth of the incisor group or front teeth disappear.
The Australian kangaroos and wombats are a case in point--so is the
lemur-like aye-aye of Madagascar (an insect eater). So is the Hyrax or
"damian" of the Cape, and also the very ancient Plagiaulax from the
præ-chalk Purbeck clay. But perhaps the best case for comparison with
the ruminants is that of the rhinoceroses. There are a great many
species and even genera of fossil and recent rhinoceroses. An old
Miocene kind (called Hyracodon) has eight little teeth in the front of
the lower jaw. In a Pliocene kind of rhinoceros (called _R.
incisivus_) these are reduced to two, the middle two, which are of
great size and project far forward--like those of the rat-goat of
Majorca. Among living rhinoceroses the Indian species have these two
front teeth, but smaller, whilst the square-mouthed African rhinoceros
has none at all! This helps us, as a parallel, to understand "the
strange case" of Myotragus. But, of course, the rhinoceroses are a
distinct line of animal descent--remote from Ruminants. They are (like
horses and tapirs) odd-toed hoofed beasts--not even-toed ones, as are
pigs, camels, and ruminants.

       *       *       *       *       *

On first considering the question of the origin of the rat-goat of
Majorca, some naturalists will, no doubt, be tempted to suggest that
it is a case of a sudden "sport," a "mutation" as they now call it,
and not a result of gradual slowly developed reduction of the now lost
teeth and correspondingly gradual enlargement of the two middle ones,
taking many thousand generations to bring about. The fact that the
rat-goat is found on an island cut off from competition with other
animals will favour this view. On the other hand, there is the
important and really remarkable fact that familiar as man has been for
ages with Ruminants of many kinds--such as sheep, goats, cattle,
deer--there is absolutely no case on record of an "oddity" or
"monstrosity" resembling the rat-goat's condition occurring in the
teeth of any of the hundreds of thousands of these animals killed and
eaten by man, and therefore closely examined. Professor Bateson, who
a few years ago ransacked the museums of Europe for instances of
"discontinuous variation," or "sports," and wrote a valuable book on
the subject, did not discover any example of the kind. Apart from the
view, which is very generally held, that such sudden "mutations" as
"rat-teeth in a ruminant" are--even should they occur--not
perpetuated, we are not really in any way driven to suppose that the
rat-goat of Majorca originated in that island. It is true that we know
nothing like it in the Pliocene and Miocene of the Mediterranean
region which could have been its immediate ancestor. But probably the
ancestors of the rat-goat were slowly developed from a Miocene
sheath-horned ruminant, a primitive sort of antelope in some part of
North-west Africa, or in an extension of it now submerged in the
Atlantic, and stragglers of this curious and now lost Ruminant stock
were left in Majorca when in Miocene or early Pliocene times that
island became detached from its Hispano-African connection.



CHAPTER VIII

VEGETARIANS AND THEIR TEETH


No mistake, said Huxley, is more frequently made by clever people than
that of supposing that a cause or an opinion is unsound because the
arguments put forward in its favour by its advocates are foolish or
erroneous. Some of the arguments put forward in favour of the
exclusive use by mankind of a vegetable diet can be shown to be based
on misconception and error, and I propose now to mention one or two of
these. But I wish to guard against the supposition that I am convinced
in consequence that animal substances form the best possible diet for
man, or that an exclusively vegetable diet may not, if properly
selected, be advantageous for a large majority of mankind. That
question, as well as the question of the advantage of a mixed diet of
animal and vegetable substances, and the best proportion and quantity
of the substances so mixed, must be settled, as also the question as
to the harm or good in the habitual use of small quantities of
alcohol, by definite careful experiment by competent physiologists,
conducted on a scale large enough to give conclusive results. The
cogency of the arguments in favour of vegetarianism which I am about
to discuss is another matter.

In the first place it is very generally asserted by those who advocate
a purely vegetable diet that man's teeth are of the shape and pattern
which we find in fruit-eating or in root-eating animals allied to him.
This is true. The warm-blooded hairy quadrupeds which suckle their
young and are called "mammals" (for which word perhaps "beasts" is the
nearest Anglo-Saxon equivalent) show in different groups and orders a
great variety in their teeth. The birds of to-day have no teeth, the
reptiles, amphibians, and fishes have usually simple conical or
peg-like teeth, which are used simply for holding and tearing. In some
cases the pointed pin-like teeth are broadened out so as to be
button-like, and act as crushing organs for breaking up shell-fish.
The mammals alone have a great variety and elaboration of the teeth.

[Illustration: Fig. 21.--Side view of the skull of a clouded tiger
(_Felis nebulosa_) to show the teeth. _inc. s._ The three incisors.
_can. s._ Upper canine, corner-tooth, or dog-tooth. _can. i._ Lower
canine. _m. s._ The four upper molars or cheek-teeth (called
"grinders" in herbivorous animals). _m. i._ The three lower molars or
cheek-teeth.]

[Illustration: Fig. 22.--View in the horizontal plane of the teeth of
the lower and upper jaw of the same clouded tiger's skull. _inc. i._
Lower incisors. _inc. s._ Upper incisors. _can. i._ and _can. s._
Lower and upper canine. _m._ The cheek-teeth--three only in the lower
jaw, a minute fourth molar present in the upper.]

In shape and size, as well as in number, the teeth of mammals are very
clearly related to the nature of their food in the first place, and
secondly to their use as weapons of attack or of defence. When the
surface of the cheek-teeth is broad, with low and numerous tubercles,
the food of the animal is of a rather soft substance, which yields to
a grinding action. Such substances are fruits, nuts, roots, or leaves,
which are "triturated" and mixed with the saliva during the process
of mastication. Where the vegetable food is coarse grass or tree
twigs, requiring long and thorough grinding, transverse ridges of
enamel are present on the cheek-teeth, as in elephants, cattle, deer,
and rabbits (see Figs. 8, 17, 19). Truly carnivorous animals, which
eat the raw carcases of other animals, have a different shape of
teeth. Not only do they have large and dagger-like canines or
"dog-teeth" as weapons of attack, but the cheek-teeth (very few in
number) present a long, sharp-edged ridge running parallel to the
length of the jaw, the edges of which in corresponding upper and lower
teeth fit and work together like the blades of a pair of scissors. The
cats (including the lions, tigers and leopards) have this arrangement
in perfection (see Figs. 21 and 22). They cut the bones and muscles of
their prey into great lumps with the scissor-like cheek-teeth, and
swallow great pieces whole without mastication. Insect-eating mammals
have cheek-teeth with three or four sharp-pointed tubercles standing
up on the surface. They break the hard-shelled insects and swallow
them rapidly. The fish-eating whales have an immense number of
peg-like pointed teeth only. These serve as do those of the
seals--merely to catch and grip the fish, which are swallowed whole.

It is quite clear that man's cheek-teeth do not enable him to cut
lumps of meat and bone from raw carcases and swallow them whole, nor
to grip live fish and swallow them straight off (Pl. VI). They are
broad, square-surfaced teeth, with four or fewer low rounded tubercles
fitted to crush soft food, as are those of monkeys (see Pl. VII and
its description). And there can be no doubt that man fed originally,
like monkeys, on easily crushed fruits, nuts, and roots. He could not
eat like a cat.

A fundamental mistake has arisen amongst some of the advocates of
vegetarianism by the use of the words "carnivorous" and "flesh-eating"
in an ill-defined way. Man has never eaten lumps of raw meat and bone,
and no one proposes that he should do so to-day. Man did not take to
meat-eating until he had acquired the use of fire, and had learnt to
cook the meat before he ate it. He thus separated the bone and
intractable sinew from the flesh, which he rendered friable and
divisible by thorough grilling, roasting, or baking. To eat meat thus
altered, both chemically and in texture, is a very different thing
from eating the raw carcases of large animals. Man's teeth are
thoroughly fitted for the trituration of cooked meat, which is,
indeed, as well suited to their mechanical action as are fruits, nuts,
and roots. Hence we see that the objection to a meat diet based on the
structure of man's teeth does not apply to the use of cooked meat as
diet. The use by man of uncooked meat is not proposed or defended.

Yet, further, it is well to take notice of the fact that there are
many vegetarian wild animals which do not hesitate to eat certain soft
animals or animal products when they get the chance. Thus, both
monkeys and primitive men will eat grubs and small soft animals, and
also the eggs of birds. Whilst the cat tribe, in regard to the
chemical action of their digestive juices, are so specialised for
eating raw meat that it is practically impossible for them to take
vegetable matter as even a small portion of their diet, and whilst, on
the other hand, the grass-eating cattle, sheep, goats, antelopes, deer
and giraffes are similarly disqualified from any form of meat-diet,
most other land-mammals can be induced, without harm to themselves, to
take a mixed diet, even in those cases where they do not naturally
seek it. Pigs, on the one hand, and bears, on the other, tend
naturally to a mixed diet. Many birds, under conditions adverse to the
finding of their usual food, will change from vegetable to animal
diet, or _vice-versâ_. Sea-gulls normally are fish-eaters, but some
will eat biscuit and grain when fish cannot be had. Pigeons have been
fed successfully on a meat diet; so, too, some parrots, and also the
familiar barn-door fowl. Many of our smaller birds eat both insects
and grain, according to opportunity. Hence it appears impossible to
base any argument against the use of cooked meat as part of man's diet
upon the structure of his teeth, or upon any far-reaching law of
Nature which decrees that every animal is absolutely either fitted
(internally and chemically, as well as in the matter of teeth) for a
diet consisting exclusively of vegetable substances, or else is
immutably assigned to one consisting exclusively of animal substances.
There is no _à priori_ assumption possible against the use as food by
man of nutritious matter derived from animals' bodies properly
prepared.

So far as _à priori_ argument has any value in such a matter, it
suggests that the most perfect food for any animal--that which
supplies exactly the constituents needed by the animal in exactly
right quantity and smallest bulk--is the flesh and blood of another
animal of its own species. This is a startling theoretical
justification--from the purely dietetic point of view--of
cannibalism. It is, however, of no conclusive value; the only method
which can give us conclusions of any real value in this and similarly
complex matters is prolonged, full, well-devised, well-recorded
experiment. At the same time, we may just note that the favourite food
of the scorpion is the juice of the body of another scorpion, and that
the same preference for cannibalism exists in spiders, many insects,
fishes, and even higher animals.

Another line of argument by which some advocates of vegetarianism
appeal to the popular judgment is by representing flesh-food derived
from animals as something dirty, foul, and revolting, full of microbic
germs, whilst vegetable products are extolled as being clean and
sweet--free from odour and putrescence and from the scaremonger's
microbes. This, I perhaps need hardly say, is a gigantic illusion and
misrepresentation. I came across it the other day in a very
unreasonable pamphlet on food by the American writer, Mr. Upton
Sinclair. Putrefactive microbes attack vegetable foods and produce
revolting smells and poisons in them, just as they do in foods of
animal origin. It is true that on the whole more varieties of
vegetable food can be kept dry and ready for use by softening with hot
water than is the case with foods prepared from animals. This is only
a question of not keeping food too long or in conditions tending to
the access of putrefactive bacteria. It is, on the whole, more usual
and necessary, in order to render it palatable, to apply heat to
flesh, fish, and fowl than to fruits. And it is by heat--heat of the
temperature of boiling water--applied for ten minutes or more, that
poison-producing and infective bacteria are killed and rendered
harmless. More people have become infected by deadly parasites and
have died from cholera and similar diseases, through having taken the
germs of those diseases into their stomachs with raw and over-ripe
fruit or uncooked vegetables and the manured products of the kitchen
garden, than have suffered from the presence of disease-germs or
putrefactive bacteria in well-cooked meat. Here, in fact, "cooking"
makes all the difference, just as it does in the matter we were
discussing above of the fitness of flesh and bone for trituration by
man's teeth.

[Illustration: Plate VI.--The series of teeth in the upper (1) and
lower jaw (2) of a modern European (natural size). The teeth are
placed closely side by side without a gap--an arrangement which does
not occur in the apes nor in any other living mammal, although it is
found in some extinct herbivores--the Anoplotherium and the
Arsinöitherium. The shape of the arch formed by the row of teeth
should be compared with that shown by the same arch in the Gibbon (Pl.
VII). The crowns of the teeth are very carefully drawn in this figure,
which is from a plate published by Professor Selenka.

It must be noted that the number of tubercles on the true molars may
be in exceptional cases one more or one less than that given in this
drawing which gives the most usual number. The word "molar" is often
used to include the five cheek-teeth on each side of each jaw, but
more strictly the anterior bicuspid teeth are called "pre-molars," and
the three larger teeth behind them, which have no predecessors or
representatives in the first or milk dentition, are called true molars
or simply "molars"--a rule we have followed here.

In both upper and lower jaw we see the four incisors in the middle
(Inc. 1, Inc. 2); on each side of them is the conical crown of a
canine--a tooth which is greatly enlarged in the ape (see Pl. VII),
but is no larger proportionately than it is here even in the most
ancient known human jaw, that from the Pleistocene of Heidelberg (see
"Science from an Easy Chair," Methuen, 1910, p. 405). The two small
bicuspid "pre-molars" and the three large molars follow these on each
side in each jaw. The crown of the most anterior (or "first") molar of
the upper jaw has four cusps, tubercles, or cones on it. It is
"quadri-tuberculate." The second and third molars of the upper jaw
have three such prominent tubercles (excluding a row of small
tubercles on the hinder margin of the second); they are, in fact,
tri-tuberculate; whilst the two hindermost molars of the lower jaw
have four tubercles and are called quadri-tuberculate. The first molar
(M1) of the lower jaw has in this specimen five tubercles. In 60 per
cent. of European lower jaws this is the case. But in 40 per cent.
this tooth is quadri-tuberculate. In Polynesians, Chinese, Melanesians
and negroes five tubercles are found on this tooth in 90 per cent. of
the jaws examined. The apes are characterised by five tubercles on
this tooth, and they are found also on the first lower molars of
prehistoric men. Four tubercles only on this tooth is a departure from
the ape's condition and is found more frequently in Europeans.

It is obvious that these big molar teeth, as well as the two smaller
ones in front of them on each side of each jaw, are adapted for
breaking up rather soft, pulpy food, and not for cutting lumps of bone
or raw flesh, as are the molars of the clouded tiger (identical with
those of all species of the genus _Felis_), shown in Figs. 21 and 22,
pp. 103, 104, nor for rubbing grain, grass or herbage to a paste, as
are those of the goat (Fig. 17), those of the Coypu rat (Fig. 19), and
those of the elephants and mastodons (Fig. 8).]

[Illustration: Plate VII.--Drawings of (1) the upper and (2) the lower
series of teeth of the Gibbon (_Hylobates concolor_), one of the
anthropoid or most man-like apes (enlarged by one third). If these
drawings are compared with those in Pl. VI, showing man's teeth, the
most striking difference seen is that the "arch" or series of teeth is
here elongated and squared, not rounded in front, whilst there is
plenty of room in both jaws for the last or wisdom tooth, which is not
the case in modern races of men, though in the ancient Neander man's
jaw and in that from Heidelberg there is ample space for the last
molar as in the apes. The next most important difference is that in
the gibbon the four canine teeth are very large and tusk-like, and
must certainly be of value as weapons of attack--which man's are not.
Connected with the large size of the canines is the presence of a gap
(or "diastema" as it is called) between the four front teeth or
incisors of the upper jaw and the upper canine--which allows the lower
canine to fit in front of the upper canine when the jaw is closed. The
number of the tubercles or cones on the molars (the two smaller
pre-molars and the three hinder large molars) can be compared in
detail in these beautiful drawings from Professor Selenka's work,
which are the most careful and perfect which have ever been published.
The agreement of these teeth in man and the gibbon is very close: but
there are differences. The first, or most anterior pre-molar of the
lower jaw has one predominant cusp or cone; the second, like both in
the upper jaw, is "bicuspid," or bi-tuberculate, as in man. The three
big molars of the upper jaw are closely similar to those of man, with
some small differences, the second being quadri-tuberculate, whilst in
man it is as often tri-tuberculate (as it is in Pl. VI) as it is
quadri-tuberculate. But the two anterior big molars of the lower jaw
are seen to have each five well-marked cones, cusps or tubercles; they
are quinqui-tuberculate, whilst in man the first lower molar is often
quadri-tuberculate and the second even more frequently so. The last
lower molar (wisdom tooth) of the gibbon is like that of man,
quadri-tuberculate.

The details of the tubercles on these molar teeth distinctly justify
the conclusion that they are adapted in the two animals
compared--namely, man and the gibbon--to food of the same mechanical
quality, and this undoubtedly is fruit and nuts. Nevertheless such a
form of tooth is equally well adapted to the texture of cooked meat,
which has served many races of man for probably hundreds of thousands
of years as food.]

Once we remember that man is not fitted for the "raw meat" diet of the
carnivora, but is fitted for the "cooked meat" diet which he has
himself discovered--alone of all animals--we shall get rid of a
misleading prejudice in the consideration of the question as to
whether civilised men should or should not make cooked meat a portion
of their diet, with the purpose of maintaining themselves in as
healthy and vigorous a state as possible. Do not let us forget that
ancient Palæolithic cave-men certainly made use of fire to cook their
meals of animal flesh, and that probably this use of fire dates back
to a still earlier period when, in consequence of this application of
the red, running tongues of flame, which he had learned to produce,
primitive man was able to leave the warmer climates of the earth and
their abundant fruits, and to establish himself in temperate and even
sub-Arctic regions.

Experiments on a large and decisive scale in regard to the value of
the different foods taken by man and the question of the desirability
of cooked meat as part of his diet have never been carried out, nor
has the use of alcohol been studied by direct experimental method on a
large scale. Inasmuch as the feeding of our Army and Navy, of
prisoners, lunatics, and paupers, is the business of the State, it is
obviously the duty of the Government to investigate this matter and
arrive at a decision. It can be done by the Government, and only by
the Government. The Army Medical Department is fully capable, and, I
am told, desirous, of undertaking this investigation. Five hundred
soldiers in barracks would find it no hardship, but an agreeable duty
(if rewarded in a suitable way), to submit to various diets, and to
comparative tests of the value of such diets. There would be no
difficulty in arranging the experimental investigation. Fifty years
ago similar work (but not precisely in regard to the questions now
raised) was done by the Army Medical Department, under Parkes, with
most valuable and widely recognised results.



CHAPTER IX

FOOD AND COOKERY


Animals, taking one kind with another, nourish themselves on an
immense variety of food. The flesh and the blood of other animals of
all kinds, warm or cold, the leaves, twigs, fruits, juices of plants,
putrid carcases, hair, feathers, skin, bran, sawdust, the vegetable
mould or "humus" of the earth's surface, the sand of the sea, with its
minute particles of organic detritus, all serve as food to different
kinds of animals. Some are very little fettered in their tastes, and
are called "omnivorous," others are bound in the strictest way to a
diet consisting of the leaves of some one species of plant or the
juices of one species of animal. Some of the latter class, under
stress or privation, can accommodate themselves to a new food very
different in character and origin from that which is habitual to them;
others have no elasticity in this respect, and must have their exact
habitual food-plant or food-animal, unless they are to die of
starvation.

Man exhibits his great powers of accommodation to changed
circumstances in respect of food as well as in other matters. If we
are to suppose, as is probable, that our original ape-like ancestors
fed exclusively upon fruits and an occasional egg or juicy grub, how
vast are the changes in diet to which man has habituated himself! Man
is sometimes said to be omnivorous, but this is not a sufficient
description of the state of things which has grown up as he has spread
over the earth's surface. Every race--and even many a small group of
men--has its accustomed diet, to depart from which is a pain and a
difficulty, even though new kinds of food may be gradually accepted
and even become popular. Man has in this, as in so many other things,
a large range of possible accommodation, but he has at the same time
habits the continuance of which are necessary for the healthy working
of the nervous system. The psychical element in the matter of
food-habit is important in all higher animals, but most of all in man.
The digestive organs are controlled by the nervous system, and the
brain acts upon the latter in such a way as to favour or to restrain
the "appetite" and the secretion of the elaborate digestive juices, so
that fear, surprise, disgust, and "nausea" (that strange product of
mental and physical reactions) may destroy appetite and inhibit the
digestive process. There are vast populations of men who live on rice,
or beans, or meal, and never eat animal food, not even milk (after
babyhood), nor cheese, and would be, at a first attempt to eat it,
"put off" and disgusted by a mutton chop. There are others who subsist
almost entirely on fish, others who live on dried beef, others who
live on the fat of whales and seals, and would be for a generation or
two injured, half starved, and some of them even killed, by a change
of diet. Again, there are others who consider that they must have and
will be "ill" unless they had the cooked flesh of an ox or sheep as
part of their daily food. Let us examine this latter group a little
more fully--a group to which the nations of Europe belong, with the
exception of the Italians, who are essentially a meal-, fruit-, and
cheese-eating people.

Apparently at a very early time, even before the last glacial period,
man had learnt the use of fire, and roasted or grilled the carcases of
other animals which he killed in the chase, in order to consume them
as food. We have no reason to suppose that man ever made use of the
raw flesh of higher animals as his habitual diet. His teeth are not,
and never were, from his earliest ape-like days, adapted to true
carnivorous diet. Cooked meat is not the food of a carnivor, but is an
adaptation of the flesh of animals to the requirements of a
frugivorous animal. Probably the use of grain and cultivated vegetable
food is a later step in human progress than the roasting of meat. The
Neandermen, and even the later Reindeer-men (Cromagnards), had no
cultivated fields, but lived on roasted meat (of beasts, birds, and
fish) and wild fruits. We know how thoroughly the most ancient Greeks
enjoyed the long slices of roasted meat cut from the chine, as told in
the Homeric poems, and everywhere in Europe after the neolithic or
polished-stone period, meat was a main article of diet, in conjunction
with the vegetable products of agriculture. In this country, after the
Norman conquest, meat-eating was greatly favoured by the important
industry which grew up in hides. The land was well suited for the
pasturage of cattle, and owing to the smallness of the population and
the abundance of cattle slaughtered for their hides, meat was almost
to be had for the asking. It was thus that Englishmen became great
meat-eaters and that "the roast beef of Old England" was established.
Later the same superfluity of meat--in this case, "mutton"--recurred
and became general when wool-growing and the manufacture of woollen
goods developed into important industries. Relatively to the
population there was more "meat" of oxen and sheep in this country
than on the continent of Europe, and this disproportion has been
maintained.

But the increase of population has led to a considerable change in the
diet of a very large proportion--the poorer part--of the community.
Whilst the families of the better-paid working class and all the
middle and upper class continue to eat meat, the agricultural labourer
and the poorer workmen in towns live chiefly on flour, sugar, bacon,
and cheese. Probably they have become habituated to this diet, and,
provided that the quantity is sufficient, it cannot be maintained that
the diet, in which meat is nearly or altogether absent, is unhealthy.
Many vigorous and muscularly well-developed populations in other lands
thrive on exclusively vegetable food.

A curious and not altogether comforting reflection is that if the
inexpensive and simple food of the agricultural labourer is
sufficient, the section of the community which spends from five to ten
shillings per head a day on a mixed diet of meat, fish, eggs, and
vegetables is guilty of waste and excess. Here, however, the
remarkable, and, in fact, exceptional domination of "habit" (in the
case of man), in regard to both the actual articles of food and the
mode of its preparation, has to be recognised. Such and such
inexpensive and unskilfully prepared food may contain more than the
necessary amount of proteids (that is, matters like flesh, the casein
of cheese and of vegetables, and the albumen of eggs), of
hydro-carbons (_i.e._, fats), of carbo-hydrates (_i.e._, starch and
sugar), yet if you were suddenly to compel a man accustomed to
well-cooked meat to live on such food he would be unable to assimilate
it, his digestive organs would refuse to work, and he would become, if
not seriously ill, yet so ill-nourished and sickly that he would be
unfit for his work and readily fall a victim to disease. It is, in
fact, impossible to lay down any scheme of diet based on the mere
provision of the necessary quantities of food materials whilst
ignoring the formed habits of the individual and the relation of the
psychical conditions which we call "taste," "appetite," "fancy,"
"disgust," to the actual processes of digestion and the consequent
efficiency of the proposed diet.

No doubt gradually, after a few generations, a whole people may become
healthily habituated to a diet which would have been positively
injurious to their forebears, and no doubt individuals may be led by
fortitude or by necessity in time (perhaps weeks, perhaps years) to
acquire a tolerance, or even enjoyment, of food at first repulsive,
and therefore injurious. The difficulty in the matter is not that of
correctly determining what is physiologically sufficient for the human
animal, nor even what would be a healthy diet for a community when
once, after a transition period of distress and injury, habituated or
"attuned" to that diet. The difficulty is to arrive at a conclusion as
to what is really the suitable and reasonable diet for an
individual--yourself or one like yourself--having regard to the
lifelong habits of the individual, and the consequent nervous
reactions established in him or her in relation to the taste, quality,
and mode of presentation of food. Robust people, so long as they get
what suits their own uncultivated taste, are apt to make very light of
what they call "fancies" about food, and to overlook their real
importance.

Feeding on the part of civilised man is not the simple procedure which
it is with animals, although many animals are particular as to their
food and what is called "dainty." The necessity for civilised man of
cheerful company at his meal, and for the absence of mental anxiety,
is universally recognised, as well as the importance of an inviting
appeal to the appetite through the sense of smell and of sight, whilst
the injurious effect of the reverse conditions, which may lead to
nausea, and even vomiting, is admitted. Even the ceremonial features
of the dinner table, the change of clothes before sitting down to the
repast, the leisurely yet precise succession of approved and expected
dishes, accompanied by pleasant talk and light-hearted companionship,
are shown by strict scientific examination to be important aids to the
healthy digestion of food, which need not be large in quantity,
although it should be wisely presented.

These psychical conditions of healthy feeding are not trivial matters,
as we are too apt to suppose. They are part, and a very important
part, of the physiology of nutrition, and so deserving of scientific
inquiry and of practical attention. They have been made the subject of
careful experiment by a Russian physiologist, Pavloff. At a recent
meeting of the British Association this matter was brought under
discussion in the Physiological Section, and it was pointed out by the
author of a very interesting communication that the whole question as
to what is and what is not a sound and healthy diet is too often dealt
with by writers who ignore the psychical (or shall we say the
cerebral?) factor. Cases were cited of dangerous arrest of the power
of digesting, or even of swallowing, food which were cured by giving
the patient some apparently inappropriate and probably harmful article
of food for which he or she had a fancy, such as a grilled
salmon-steak, the last thing which would be spontaneously recommended
by a medical man to a patient who had been suffering for weeks from
inability to take food. The willingness is all--the assent, the
approval of the cerebral centres, and the consequent unlocking of the
whole arrested mechanism of digestive secretions and movements. Such a
case is only an extreme instance. But it is undoubtedly the fact that
just as the sight of so small a thing as a drop of blood, or even the
word "blood," will on occasion cause a strong, healthy man to faint,
so quite a small excess or defect in the accustomed quality of food
will at times arrest the appetite and digestive processes of a healthy
man. To many a healthy individual one among many flavours and savours
associated with agreeable food is necessary in order that healthy
appetite and proper digestion may be set going, and the absence of the
right flavour and the presence of what is, in his experience, a wrong
and disgusting smell or taste in the food set before him, will produce
nausea and complete arrest of the digestive processes.

It is apparently owing to this cause that "tinned meats" have proved
to be of little value as rations for an army in campaign, for
exploring expeditions, and for remote mining camps. It is not that
such tinned meats do not contain the necessary constituents of food,
or that they contain poisonous substances, but that they produce a
sense of disgust, and arrest the digestive processes. Soldiers,
travellers, and miners have assured me that they prefer a dry biscuit
and dried, or salted, or sugared meat, to the supposed more "tasty"
tinned meats, and that such is the general experience of their
comrades.

Of similar nature is another very serious trouble, in regard to the
healthy feeding of the modern Englishman, which has come upon us in
consequence of the quite modern system of huge restaurants, whether in
London or in the very large hotels, which are now run in Swiss,
Italian and English summer resorts. Hundreds of visitors are "catered
for" daily. There is no attempt at anything which deserves the name of
cookery. Great monopolists control the supplies, and contract to
deliver to these hotels, even in out-of-the-way localities, so much
ice-stored, "mousey" fish, "mousey" quails, stringy meat, impossible
vegetables and fruits, gathered from the cheapest markets of Europe
and of a quality just not bad enough to cause a revolt among the hotel
visitors. The heating of the food is done by patent machinery in ovens
and by the use of boiling fat. No cook is in these circumstances
possible, with his artistic feeling for the production of a perfect
result of skill and taste. A kind of bottled meat-flavoured sauce,
manufactured from spent yeast, is used to make the soups, and is
poured, with an equally nauseating result, over the hard veal, the
tough chicken, the "mousey" quails, and the tasteless beef and mutton,
which are never roasted, but are baked or stewed in boiling
fat--though shamelessly described as "rôtis" in the pretentious and
mendacious "menu" placed on the dinner-table. The consequence is that
the tourist, who has been overfed at home, eats very little, and his
health benefits. But in such an hotel the man who lives carefully when
at home, and desires a simple but properly cooked meal, is reduced to
a state of indigestion, semi-starvation and misery.

The Englishman who is disgusted by the new mechanical methods of
cookery in the great hotels of Continental "resorts," returns to
London, and finds the same atrocious system at work--not only in the
public restaurants, but in his club. Nowhere in London can you rely on
being served with really fresh fish, however highly you may pay for
it. Rarely it is fresh, usually it is not. The ice storage people take
good care that you shall not obtain fresh fish, and so retain your
taste for it. Nowhere at club or restaurant, with rare exceptions, can
you obtain meat roasted in the old-fashioned way on a roasting-jack,
carefully "basted" during the process, and served when exactly cooked
to a turn. There were, only a few years ago, one or two such places
surviving--both clubs and restaurants--where proper roasting was done,
but, like the rest, they have now adopted lazy, economical,
money-saving methods. Their managers calculate that what they do will
serve. It is good enough for the crowd! So at last you abandon the
efforts to obtain decent simple food, in club or hotel, and dine with
your friend _en famille_. The same thing confronts you. The joint has
been baked in an oven, of which it smells, and is surrounded by a
sickly gravy, produced by pouring hot water over it! In conversation
with your hostess, you find that she knows nothing whatever about the
simplest elements of the preparation of food. She tells you she avoids
roasting because it necessitates a large fire and an extra expenditure
of £5 a year on coal, and she also purchases those mouldy,
frost-bitten potatoes instead of the best, because they cost half as
much as sound ones--and she herself does not care for potatoes. They
are fattening!

Sometimes at a restaurant or club, served by a foreign "chef," a
Yorkshire pudding, as hard as a stale loaf of bread, is handed round
in slabs with the so-called "roast" beef. It is not roasted: it is
baked beef, and the pudding is an ill-tasting baked mess, also.
Nowhere in London in public or private house do I ever see the
properly cooked article. True Yorkshire pudding can only be made by
placing it under the roasting joint, which drips digestion-promoting
essences into the pudding whilst itself rotating, hissing and
spluttering--as did the joints roasted in the caves long ago by the
prehistoric Reindeer-men. The scientific importance of good roasting
and grilling is that a savour is thereby produced which sets the whole
gastric and digestive economy of the man who sniffs it and tastes it,
at work. Possibly our successors, a generation or two hence, will have
learnt to do without this, and will have acquired as intimate and
happy a gastronomic relation to what now are for us the nauseous
flavours of superheated fat (rarely renewed), and of the all-pervading
gravy fabricated by chemical treatment of yeast, as that which we
ourselves have acquired in regard to the old-established and
painstaking cookery of the early Victorian and many preceding ages.

Medical men who are occupied as specialists with the study of very
young children have clearly demonstrated that the implanting of
tastes, tendencies and habits in infants of from two to eight years of
age has an immense importance in their subsequent development.
Character and capacity are really formed in those early years. Food
preferences, no less than mental and moral qualities, are then
created. Yet the children of both rich and poor are in these early
stages either left to haphazard or entrusted to ignorant nursemaids.
For those of us who were not born to the present system the transition
to the new methods of wholesale cookery is an abomination, and to
escape from them a matter of difficulty. We have to secure an ancient
roasting-jack and a large clear fire in our own kitchen, and to
instruct our cook--since no woman has taught her what she ought to
know--in the art of roasting and grilling, in the preparation of
Yorkshire pudding, in the mystery of the marrow-bone and the proper
and distinct use of garlic, onions, shalots, chives, chervil,
tarragon, marjoram, basil, other herbs, and divers peppers, and
finally to train her in the supreme accomplishment of the seasoning of
a salad.

Maybe that the present established relations of our appetites to the
time-honoured savours, by which the ancient Jews sought to propitiate
the Deity, are destined to be superseded. On the other hand it is
quite possible that all the juggling of modern "machine" cookery is a
false step, and injurious to digestion and health. It is not unlikely
that there is no relish which has so sure a hold on the digestion of
European man, no appeal to the cerebral mechanism controlling the
liberation of his gastric juices, which is so infallible as that
emanating from "well and truly" roasted or grilled meat.

It is not easy to account for the present neglect of decent cookery
and the triumph of the sham French cookery (for it is not French at
all!) which is at present foisted on a long-suffering public. Probably
the enormously increased number of visitors to foreign resorts and of
frequenters of restaurants in London have led to huge enterprise in
"catering," and to a monopoly which has driven out of existence the
smaller establishments, where alone the artist-cook can flourish. But
it seems that the neglect of decent cooking is also due in this
country to a racial incapacity and indifference which leads both men
and women to despise "taking pains" about small things, and brings
them into the world devoid of the desire to carry out with skill those
small enterprises on which much of the sweetness and gaiety of life
depends.

Even in the time of Charles II the skill and seriousness of French
cookery as compared with our own was recognised. The high reputation
of Scotch cooks at the present day seems to be due to an inheritance
of traditions from the days of close association of the Scotch and
French Courts. Up to nearly 100 years ago roasting was as usual a
method of cooking meat in Paris as in London. There were "rôtisseries"
in Paris in the old days. High prices and thrift have led to the
decadence of roasting as a popular method of cooking meat in France,
but the great "chef" in a private house in Paris still produces the
most perfect roast beef and roast saddle of mutton (better than you
will find in England) in the old-fashioned way. So indifferent, or
perhaps hopeless, are Englishmen in regard to cookery that they drink
a strong champagne throughout dinner, content to drown the insipid
taste of the food in the fine flavour of a drink upon which they can
rely. An Englishman dining at a first-rate restaurant will usually
spend twice as much for wine as for food, whilst a Frenchman will
reverse the proportions. Another difference is one for which women are
responsible. In Paris a party of French men and women at a table in a
good restaurant enjoy their food, laugh and talk with one another, and
do not concern themselves with the company at other tables. It would
be bad manners to do so. But English-speaking women, when dining in
public, seem to be chiefly interested, not in their food nor in their
own party, but in pointing out to one another the celebrities or
notorieties or eccentricities seated at other tables. So long as the
place is fashionable and noisy, the food is negligible and neglected.

For some reason, which I am unable to discover, the women of England
(it is not the case with those of France and Germany) have, with rare
exceptions, no interest in or liking for "cookery," and yet the men
have left the management of it entirely in their hands. Male "chefs"
of English nationality are rare specimens, though they are, as a rule,
the best at grilling and roasting. On the other hand, in France, where
women no less than men value and understand cookery, there is an
enormous body of professional male cooks. English-women of means and
education have to such a degree neglected all knowledge of cookery and
of the quality and criticism of kitchen supplies, such as meat, fish,
birds, and vegetables, that there is no one to teach the poor country
girls (who become cooks in the majority of households) the elements of
the very difficult and important duties which they are expected--in
virtue of some kind of inspiration or native genius--to discharge with
skill and judgment: nor is there any head of a household capable of
seeing that the necessary care and trouble are given. It is wonderful,
under the circumstances, how clever and willing our domestic cooks
are. A considerable section of English middle-class women at the
present day are allowed by the men, who should guide them so as to
make them honourable and useful members of the community, to grow up
in complete ignorance of the essential parts of the art of cookery.
This was not the case a hundred years ago. Now a large proportion of
them have been led by bad example and foolish notions to give up such
matters to "the servants," whether they are able to afford competent
servants or even to judge of the competence of a servant or not. Many
of these "mistresses" now devote themselves exclusively to "dress,"
"amusements," "charity," "politics," and dabbling inconsequently in
various crazes. They are not to blame. It is the men who are to blame
who deliberately neglect to give to their womenkind a training and
education which shall make them real mistresses of household arts and
business, so that they may be thus filled with the happy conviction
(which is the one thing they most desire and most often cannot gain)
that they are of real use--are really wanted--in the world.

In conclusion, let me tell of a great German sports-man, Major von
Wissman, Governor of German East Africa, now no more, who came to see
me at the Museum nine years ago. It was his first visit to London, and
I took him to lunch at a famous grill-room. Happily, though roasting
is dying out, the art of grilling still survives in this country, but
nowhere else in Europe. Von Wissman said--"Can I have beer where we
are going?" "Yes, certainly," I said. "German beer?" he asked. "No," I
replied. "Something much better." When we were seated, I ordered a
pint tankard of Reid's London stout for my friend. It was in perfect
condition. He put his lips to it in doubt, but did not remove them
until, with reverential drooping of the eyelids, he had emptied the
tankard. "The very finest beer I have ever swallowed," he said. "What
in the name of goodness is it?" I told him, and ordered him more. Soon
a perfectly grilled chop and a large, clean, floury potato were before
him. He proceeded to eat, and was really and unaffectedly astonished.
"But this is marvellous," he said, "wonderful! enchanting! I have
never really tasted meat before in my life. Reitzend! Colossal!" He
had a steak to follow, and I was pleased to have been able to show him
something which I knew (by experience of that city) they could not
produce in Berlin. Three days later I went over to the same hospitable
grill-room for a chop, and told the gifted grill-cook (the French, in
former centuries, had a proverb, "Anyone may learn to be a cook, but
one must be born a 'rotisseur'") of the admiration he had excited in
the Emperor William's friend. "Yes, sir," he said, "I fancy he did
like it, for he came here by himself yesterday and the day before, and
took the same grills and stout." Von Wissman was staying at the German
Embassy, but was drawn all the way to South Kensington by the sweet
savour of the grill-room--an instance of what the physiologists call
"positive chemotaxis."

What I have here written on food and cookery is no "gourmet's" praise
of indulgence in the pleasures of the table, nor is it an expression
of a mere personal preference. It is a protest, based on scientific
grounds, against the neglect of one of the bulwarks of health--the
honest traditional cookery which flourished in London forty years ago.



CHAPTER X

SMELLS AND PERFUMES


The old saying, "_De gustibus non disputandum_," is based upon the
fact that both liking and the repulsion evinced by human beings for
different odours (including those odours which we call flavours) are
not matters of general agreement. Thus the smells of garlic and of
onions, and even of assafoetida, are to many men among the most
attractive and appetising in existence--to very many they are, on the
other hand, repulsive. High game, a certain kind of putrid fish
("Bombay ducks"), and again rotten cheese are attractive to many men
and offensive to as many more. Many animals revel in the smell and
flavour of carrion, and even of manure, which they devour. There are
well-known flowers which attract insects, not by the possession of the
sweet perfumes appreciated and extracted by mankind, but by a smell
like that of putrid meat, which so far misleads blue-bottle flies as
to cause them to lay their eggs on the reeking blossom. So diverse are
the tastes of men and animals in these matters that it is remarkable
when we find agreement among them, as, for instance, in the attraction
for butterflies of those delicate scents which also are agreeable to
ourselves in such flowers as the rose, the jasmine, the heliotrope and
the honeysuckle.

There seems to be no rule or principle at work by which smells can be
definitely classed as either pleasant or unpleasant. Even perfumes
carried by some of the inhabitants of Western Europe with the
intention of making themselves attractive to their fellow-citizens are
often repulsive to a certain proportion of those who come near them,
as, for instance, is the case with the extract of the East Indian herb
"patchouli." In regard to our other senses there is a general
agreement amongst mankind, which extends also to all animals, as to
what is agreeable and what is disagreeable. There are definite
mathematical laws as to harmony and melody in sound and colour which
affect animals and ourselves to a large extent similarly. Sweets are
agreeable and bitters are disagreeable, though it is the fact that the
snail, which loves sugar, recoils from saccharine, and there are
"mites" (_Acari_) which feed with avidity on bitter strychnine! Excess
of heat and of cold is disliked by animals and all men, whilst the
sense of touch is pleasurably or painfully affected in much the same
way in most men and animals, more than is the case with regard to any
other of the senses. The sense of smell depends upon immediate and
personal experience of "association" for the determination of pleasure
or pain, attraction or repulsion, as the result of its being called
into operation. It is a very general experience that odours are more
efficient in arousing memory than are mere colour effects or sounds.
Not only in animals with acutely developed olfactory powers, but also
in man, an odour--a peculiar perfume--will start a whole chain of
reminiscence when sight and sound have failed to do so. It is due to
this close association with memory (conscious or unconscious) that an
odour is agreeable or disagreeable.

In itself an odour is neither attractive nor repulsive. The acrid
fumes of sulphur, chlorine, ammonia, and such bodies are not simply
"odours" but corrosive chemical vapours, which act painfully upon the
nerves of common sensation within the air-passages of the nose and
throat and not exclusively, if at all, on the terminations of the
olfactory nerves. An odour--that which acts on the special nerves of
smell distributed in chambers of the nose--acquires its attractive or
its repulsive quality only as the result of mental association with
what is beneficial (suitable food, mates, friends, safety, home, the
nest), or with what is injurious (unsuitable food, poison, enemies,
danger, strange surroundings, solitude). Hence it is intelligible that
the man accustomed to garlic or onions in his food is strongly
attracted by their smell. So too the man whose tribe or companions
have learnt by necessity to eat slightly putrid meat, fish, and cheese
is attracted by their odour, though for others these odours are
associated rather with what is poisonous and injurious. The dislike of
the smell of sewer-gas and foul accumulations of refuse was not known
to former generations of men (even in European cities a couple of
hundred years ago) any more than it is to-day to the more unfortunate
poorer classes, to many modern savages, to hyenas, and several other
animals and birds which inhabit lairs and caves which they make foul.
The odour of putrescence has become actually painful and almost
intolerable to the more cleanly classes of mankind, owing to the
association with it, as the result of education, of fear of disease
and poisoning. Either conscious or unconscious association of an odour
with what is held, either as the result of tradition or through
personal experience, to be beneficial and of pleasant memory, or, on
the contrary, injurious and of painful connection, determines man's
liking for and choice or rejection of, odours and flavours. One can
account with fair success on this basis for one's own preferences and
dislikes in the matter.

On the other hand, odours exist in vast variety amongst plants and
animals which have not acquired any special association or
significance. We find that some organisms produce as a result of their
chemical life material which oxidises and gives out light and so these
organisms are "phosphorescent" without any consequence, good or bad,
to themselves. And then we come upon others (as, for instance, the
glow-worms and fire-flies) which have made use of this "accidental"
quality, and produce phosphorescent light in special organs so as to
attract the opposite sex. Again, we find that the red-coloured
oxygen-seizing crystalline substance hæmoglobin exists in the blood of
a vast number of animals, and might as well be green or colourless for
all the good its colour does them. Yet here and there the splendid red
colour which this chemical gives to the blood becomes of great
importance as a "decoration," or "sex-ornament." The comb of the
domestic fowl, the wattles of the turkey, but above all the supreme
beauty of the human race--the cherry-red lips and the crimson-blushing
cheek of healthy youth--owe their wonderful colour to the red blood
which flows through them. So at last the redness, of the
oxygen-carrier is turned to account. So it must be also with odorous
substances. Many have been called into existence, but few have been
chosen in the long course of animal evolution and selected as the
important means of repulsion or attraction.

There are odorous substances attached to many of the lower animals
which seem to have no significance, but just happen to be the result
of necessary chemical changes, not aimed (so to speak) at their
production. Of course, it is very difficult to form a certain and
definite conclusion as to their uselessness as odours. For instance,
nearly all the sponges when fresh and filled with living protoplasm
have a curious smell which reminds one of that given off by a stick of
phosphorus. Marine sponges have it and so has the beautiful green or
flesh-coloured liver sponge (common on the wood of rafts and weirs in
the Thames). A rather uncommon marine worm, called _Balanoglossus_ or
the acorn worm, has a very strong and unpleasant smell like that of
iodoform. In neither case is the nature of the odorous body known, nor
its use to the animal suggested. Smelts smell like cucumbers: the
green-bone fish and the mackerel smell alike. One of the common
earth-worms has a strong aromatic smell, and the common snail, as well
as the sea-hare and one of the cuttle-fishes (_Eledone_), smells like
musk. Musk itself is produced, as a scent attracting the opposite sex,
by several animals--musk-deer, musk-sheep, musk-rats. I am not now
attempting to enumerate the well-recognised odours of animals such as
are extracted from them by man in order to "opsonize" himself, but am
pointing to the more obscure cases. There is not a very great or
marked variety in the odours of fishes; but reptiles with their dry,
oily skins give off various aromatic smells, none of which are valued
by man. Toads have distinct odours, and one kind (_Pelobates fuscus_,
or the heel-clawed toad), common in Europe, but not British, is known
locally as the garlic toad on account of its smell. There are amongst
carnivorous mammals various smells allied to that of civet which are
not so agreeable to man as that substance; for instance, the odour of
the fox and of the badger, and yet more celebrated, the terrible,
awe-inspiring smell of the fluid emitted in self-defence by the skunk
from a sac in the hinder part of the body. Horses, cows, goats, sheep,
and the giraffe have their distinctive odours. Many of the herbivorous
animals secrete a colourless fluid from large glands opening on or
near the feet, and also from a gland in front of the eye (similar
glands occur in other strange positions), which has not a smell
familiar to man--that is to say, not one which has been recognised and
described--yet seems to be readily "smelt" by the animals of its own
kind. The bats--especially the large frugivorous bats--have a very
unpleasant, frowsy smell.

An important fact about animal smells is that many which we might be
inclined to attribute to the animal which diffuses them, are really
due to the fermentative or putrefactive action of bacteria which swarm
on the skin and in the intestines of animals. It is often difficult to
decide how far a peculiar animal odour is due directly to a substance
secreted by the animal, and how far the odour of that substance is
modified or even entirely produced by the chemical changes set up in
secretions of the body-surface by bacteria. Several distinct repulsive
smells liable to occur on the human body are due to want of
cleanliness in destroying bacteria by proper antiseptics. The fatty
and waxy secretions of the skin are often decomposed by bacteria, even
before complete extrusion from the glands in which they are formed,
whilst the decomposition of food in the mouth and intestines by
bacteria alters materially both the natural odour of the animal's
breath and the smell of the intestinal contents. In young and healthy
animals in natural conditions there is some check--it is not easy to
say what--upon the putrefactive activities of the omnipresent
bacteria. The skin of a healthy young animal has a pleasant odour,
and its breath (notably in the case of the cow and the giraffe) is
naturally sweet-smelling. The same should be the case, under perfectly
healthy conditions, with human beings.

There is one important cause of animal odours and flavours upon which
I have not hitherto touched. Many animals acquire an odour or flavour
directly from the food upon which they feed. Certain odorous bodies
are in the food and are taken up into the blood of the consuming
animal unchanged, and are then thrown out by secreting glands on the
skin. This is the case with the odorous substance of onions. People do
not smell of onions after they have eaten them in consequence of
particles of onion remaining in the mouth. The volatile odoriferous
matter of the onion is absorbed into the blood. It passes out first
through the lungs and later through the small fat-forming glands in
the skin. It is difficult to ascertain how far animals derive their
odours in this way in a complete state from their food, and how far
they chemically construct them afresh by their own activity. No doubt
both processes occur; but in plants the odorous bodies are built up
entirely by the chemical action of the plant itself upon simple salts
of carbonic acid, ammonia and nitrates. Animals can certainly take
highly elaborated chemical bodies into their digestive organs without
destroying them and absorb them unchanged into the blood and deposit
them in the tissues. Thus the canary is made to take up the red colour
of cayenne pepper and deposit it in the feathers. Thus the green
oysters of Marennes acquire their colour from minute blue plants
(diatoms) on which they feed. And thus, too, the canvas-backed ducks
of the United States take into their tissues the odorous matter of
celery, and our own grouse the flavour of heather, whilst fish-eating
birds and whales in this way acquire a fishy taste. So, too, the
flounders and the eels of the Thames, and even salmon in muddy rivers,
acquire a taste like the smell of river mud. It is probable that many
of the odours of animals (but by no means all) are thus derived
directly from their food, or are produced by very slight changes of
the odorous bodies absorbed in food. Mutton and beef owe their savour
in some degree to the scents of the grasses on which sheep and oxen
feed. And it is not improbable that the sheep-like smell which the
Chinese detect in the European, comes to the latter direct from his
general use of the sheep as food.

Plants are the great chemical manufacturers in the world of life, and
second to them come our human industrial and scientific chemists. And
though we must claim for animals some power of manufacturing distinct
odorous bodies from inodorous nutritive matter assimilated by them, it
is probable that in many cases the odour which is characteristic of an
animal is derived by no very complicated change from odorous bodies
existing in its habitual food.

A curious case of a substance valued as perfume by civilised man, and
yet coming from a source whence sweet odours would hardly be expected,
is that which is known as "ambergris," or "ambre gris" (grey amber).
It is still used in the manufacture of esteemed perfumes, and is sold
at five guineas the ounce. It is found floating on the surface of the
ocean, and is a concretion of imperfectly digested matter from the
intestine of a whale--probably the sperm-whale. It is a grey, powdery
substance, and in it are embedded innumerable fragments of the horny
beaks and sucker-rings of cuttle-fishes--creatures which form the
chief food of the sperm-whale and other toothed whales. I have already
mentioned above that one of our common cuttle-fishes (the _Eledone
moschata_) has a strong odour of musk, and it is possible that
ambergris owes its perfume to the musk-like scent of the cuttle-fish
eaten by the whale in whose intestine it is formed. Another "smell"
which is extremely mysterious is that produced by two quartz-pebbles,
or even two rock-crystals, or two pebbles of flint or of corundum,
when rubbed one against the other. A flash of light is seen, and this
is accompanied by a very distinct smell, like that given out by
burning cotton-wool. It is demonstrated--by careful chemical cleaning
before the experiment--that this is not due to the presence of any
organic matter on or in the stones or crystals used. It seems to be an
exception to the rule that "odours" (as distinct from pungent vapours
or gases) are only produced by substances formed by plants or animals.
Perhaps that is not so completely a rule as I was inclined to think.
It is true that one can distinguish the "smells" of chlorine, of
bromine, and of iodine from one another. And there are statements
current as to the distinctive smells of metals--though they may
possibly be due to the action of the metals on organic matter. In any
case it seems, according to our present knowledge, that the smell
given out by the rubbing of pieces of silica (quartz, flint, etc.) is
due to particles of silica (oxide of silicon) volatilised by the heat
of friction, which are capable of acting specifically on the olfactory
sense-organ.



CHAPTER XI

KISSES


    "Among thy fancies, tell me this,
    What is the thing we call a kiss?
    I shall resolve ye what it is."

    --Robert Herrick

Kissing is an extremely ancient habit of mankind coming to us from far
beyond the range of history, and undoubtedly practised by the remote
animal-like ancestors of the human race. Poets have exalted it, and in
these hygienic days doctors have condemned it. In the United States
they have even proposed to forbid it by law, on the ground that
disease germs may be (and undeniably are in some cases) conveyed by it
from one individual to another. But it is too deep-rooted in human
nature, and has a significance and origin too closely associated with
human well-being in the past, and even in the present, to permit of
its being altogether "tabooed" by medical authority.

There are two kinds of "kissing" practised by mankind at the present
time--one takes the form of "nose-rubbing"--each kiss-giver rubbing
his nose against that of the other. The second kind, which is that
familiar to us in Europe, consists in pressing the lips against the
lips, skin, or hair of another individual, and making a short, quick
inspiration, resulting in a more or less audible sound. Both kinds are
really of the nature of "sniffing," the active effort to smell or
explore by the olfactory sense. The "nose-kiss" exists in races so far
apart from one another as the Maoris of New Zealand and the Esquimaux
of the Arctic regions. It is the habit of the Chinese, of the Malays,
and other Asiatic races. The only Europeans who practise it are the
Laplanders. The lip-kiss is distinguished by some authorities as "the
salute by taste" from nose-rubbing, which is "the salute by smell."
The word "kiss" is connected by Skeat with the Latin "gustus," taste;
both words signify essentially "choice." But it would be a mistake to
regard the lip-kiss as merely an effort to taste in the strict sense,
since the act of inspiration accompanying it brings the olfactory
passages of the nose into play. Lip-kissing is frequently mentioned in
the most ancient Hebrew books of the Bible, and it was also the method
of affectionate salutation among the Ancient Greeks. Primarily both
kinds of kissing were, there can be no doubt, an act of exploration,
discrimination, and recognition dependent on the sense of smell. The
more primitive character of the kiss is retained by the lovers' kiss,
the mother's kissing and sniffing of her babe, and by the kiss of
salutation to a friend returning from or setting out on a distant
journey. Identification and memorising by the sense of smell is the
remote origin and explanation of those kisses. The kissing of one
another by grown-up men as a salutation was abandoned in this country
as late as the eighteenth century. "'Tis not the fashion here," says a
London gentleman to his country-bred friend in Congreve's "Way of the
World." But we have, most of us, witnessed it abroad, and perhaps been
unexpectedly subjected to the process, as I once was by an
affectionate scientific colleague. Independently of the more ordinary
practice of kissing--there is the "ceremonial kiss"--the kissing of
hands, or of feet and toes, which still survives in Court
functions--whilst the Viennese and the Spaniards, though they no
longer actually carry out their threat, habitually startle a foreigner
by exclaiming--"I kiss your hands." The Russian Sclavs are the most
profuse and indiscriminate of European peoples in their kissing. I
have seen a Russian gentleman about to depart on a journey "devoured"
by the kisses of his relations and household retainers, male and
female. Among the poor in rural districts in Russia this excessive
habit of kissing leads to the propagation of the most terrible
ulcerative disease among innocent people--as related by Metchnikoff in
the lectures on modern hygiene which he gave in London some seven or
eight years ago (published by Heinemann).

We may take it, then, that the act of kissing is primarily and in its
remote origin an exploration by the sense of smell, which has either
lost its original significance, and become ceremonial, or has, even
though still appealing to the sense of smell, ceased to be (if,
indeed, it ever was so) consciously and deliberately an exercise of
that sense. This leads us to the very interesting subject of the sense
of smell in man and in other animals. There is no doubt that the sense
of smell is not so acute in man as it is in many of the higher
animals, and even in some of the lower forms, such as insects. It is
the fact that so far as we can trace its existence and function in
animals, the sense of smell is of prime importance as distinguishing
odours which are associated either with objects or conditions
favourable to the individual and its race, or, on the other hand,
hostile and injurious to it. It never reaches such an extended
development as a source of information or general relation of the
individual to its surroundings as do the senses of sight, hearing and
touch. It depends for its utility on the existence of odorous bodies
which are not very widely present, and are far from universal
accompaniments of natural objects. Apart from some pungent mineral
gases, all odorous bodies are of organic origin. Even as recognised by
the less acute olfactory sense of man, the number and variety of
agreeable and of disagreeable scents, produced by various species of
animals and plants, is very considerable. But there is no doubt that
the number and variety discriminated by such animals as dogs and many
of the other hairy, warm-blooded beasts is far greater. The nature of
the particles given off by odorous bodies which act on the
nerve-endings of the organs of smell of animals, is remarkable. They
are volatile; that is to say, they are thrown off from their source
and float in the air in a state of extreme subdivision. Unlike the
particles which act upon the nerves of taste, they are not
necessarily soluble in water, and though often spread through and
carried by liquids, are in fact rarely dissolved in water. The
dissolved particles which act upon the nerves of taste can be
distinguished by man into four groups--sweet, sour, bitter, and
saline. But no such classification of "smells" is possible. As a rule
mankind confuses the "taste" of things with their accompanying
"smell." The finer flavours of food and drink not included in the four
classes of tastes are really due to odoriferous particles present in
the food or drink, which act on the terminations of the olfactory
nerves in the recesses of the nose, and excite no sensation through
the nerves of taste.

The part of the brain from which the nerves of smell arise is of
relatively enormous size in the lower vertebrates--as much as one
fifth of the volume of the entire brain in fishes--a fact which seems
to indicate great importance for the sense of smell in those forms.
Even in the mammals (the hairy, warm-blooded, young-suckling beasts)
the size of the olfactory lobes of the brain and of the olfactory
nerves, and the labyrinthine chambers of the nose on which the nerves
are spread, is very large, as one may see by looking at a mammal's
skull divided into right and left halves. And it seems immoderately
large to us--to man--because, after all, so far as our conscious lives
are concerned, the sense of smell has very small importance. Yet man
has a very considerable set of olfactive chambers within the nostrils
and has large olfactory nerves. Not rarely men and women are found who
are absolutely devoid of the sense of smell, and the same thing occurs
with domesticated cats and dogs. In these cases the olfactory lobes of
the brain are imperfectly developed. It is found that men in this
condition suffer but little inconvenience in consequence. We are able,
through their statements, to ascertain what parts of the savoury
qualities of food and drink belong to taste and what to smell. Such
individuals do not perceive perfumes, the bouquet of wine, or the
fragrance of tobacco, nor can they appreciate the artistic efforts of
a good cook. But they are spared the pain of foul smells, and
possibly in this way they may incur some danger in civilised life
through not being able to detect the escape of sewer-gas or of
coal-gas into a house, or the putrid condition of ice-stored fish,
birds, and meat. A friend of my own, who is devoid of the sense of
smell, inherited this defect from his father, and has transmitted it
to some of his children. I was surprised to find in conversing with
him how often I alluded to smells, either pleasant or unpleasant, when
(as we had agreed he should) he would interrupt me and say that my
remark had no meaning for him.

Some have a far more acute sense of smell than others, and again some
men, probably without being more acutely endowed in that way, pay more
attention to smells, and use the memory of them in description and
conversation. Guy de Maupassant is remarkable as a writer for his
abundant introduction of references to agreeable and mysterious
perfumes, and also to repulsive odours. But some men certainly have an
exceptionally acute sense of smell, and can, on entering an empty
room, recognise that such and such a person has been there by the
faint traces--not of perfumery carried by the visitor--but of his
individual smell or odour. This brings us to one of the most important
facts about odorous bodies and the sense of smell, namely, that not
only do the various species of animals (and plants) each have their
own odour--often difficult or impossible for man, with his aborted
olfactory powers, to distinguish--but that every individual has its
own special odour. As to how far this can be considered a universal
disposition is doubtful. It is probable that the power of
discriminating such individual odours is limited (even in the case of
dogs, where it is sometimes very highly developed), to a power of
discriminating the distinctive smells of the individuals of certain
species of animals, and not of every individual of every species.
Everyone knows of the wonderful power of the bloodhound in tracking an
individual man by his smell, but dogs of other breeds also often
possess what seems to us extraordinary powers of the kind. On a pebbly
beach I pick up one smooth flint pebble as big as a walnut. It is
closely similar to thousands of others lying there. I hold it in my
hand without letting my fox-terrier see it, and then I throw it. It
drops some eighty yards off among the other pebbles, and I could not
myself find it again. But the dog runs forward, notes vaguely by ear
and by eye the spot where it strikes, and then commences a systematic
circling within about ten yards of the spot. In half a minute he
pounces with the utmost assurance on to one selected stone, and brings
it to me. It is invariably the stone which had been in my hand, unseen
by the dog, thrown by me, and detected by the smell I have
communicated to it.

Not only is the discrimination of individuals by the sense of smell a
very astonishing thing, but so also is the obvious fact that the total
amount of odoriferous matter which is sufficient to give a definite
and discriminative sensation through the organ of smell is of a
minuteness beyond all calculation or conception. These two facts--the
almost infinite individual diversity of smell and the almost infinite
minuteness of the particles exciting it--render it very difficult to
form a satisfactory conclusion as to the nature of those particles. It
has been from time to time suggested that the end organs of the
olfactory nerves may be excited, not by chemically active particles,
but by "rays," olfactive undulations comparable to those of light.
Physicists have not yet been able to deal with the problem, but the
recent discoveries and theories as to radio-active bodies such as
radium may possibly lead to some more plausible theory as to the
diffusion and minuteness of odorous particles than any which has yet
been formulated. An example of the minuteness of odoriferous particles
is afforded by a piece of musk which for ten years in succession has
given off into the changing air of an ordinary room "particles"
causing a readily recognised smell of musk, and yet is found at the
end of that time to have lost no weight, that is to say, no weight
which can be appreciated by the finest chemical balance. An analogy (I
say only an analogy, a resemblance) to this is furnished by a pinch of
the salt known as radium chloride, no bigger than a rape-seed, and
enclosed in a glass tube, which will continue for months and years to
emit penetrating particles producing continuously without cessation
most obvious luminous and electrical effects upon distant objects, the
particles being so minute that no loss of weight can be detected in
the pinch of salt from which they are given off.

The sense of smell is of service to animals--

(1) In avoiding enemies and noxious things.

(2) In tracing and following and discriminating prey or other food.

(3) In recognising members of their own species and individuals of
their own herd or troop, and in finding their own young and their own
nests.

(4) In seeking individuals of the opposite sex at the breeding season.

It is in connection with the last of these services that we come
across some of the most curious observations as to the production and
perception of odorous particles. Butterflies and moths and some other
insects have olfactory organs in the ends of the antennæ and the
"palps" about the mouth. The perfumes of flowers have been developed
so as to attract insects by the sense of smell, as their colours have
been also developed to attract insects by the eye. The insects serve
the flowers by carrying the fertilizing pollen from one flower to
another, and thus promoting cross-fertilization among separate
individual plants of the same species. But probably concurrently with
this has grown up the production of perfume by the scales on the wings
of moths and butterflies--perfumes which have the most powerful
attraction for the opposite sex of the same species. Curiously enough
(for these perfumes might very well exist without being detected by
man) some of the perfumes produced by butterflies are "smellable" by
man. That of the green-veined white is described as resembling the
agreeable odour of the lemon verbena. It is produced by certain scales
on the front border of the hinder wings of the male insects, and not
at all by the females, who are, however, attracted by it, and flutter
around the sweet-smelling male. Other male butterflies produce a scent
like that of sweet briar, others like honeysuckle, others like
jasmine, and so attract the females. Other butterflies are known which
produce repulsive odours, and so protect themselves from being eaten
by birds and lizards. Again, there are moths (for instance, the
emperor moth, Saturnia), the females of which produce a perfume which
attracts the males, and is of far-reaching power. The French
entomologist, Fabre, placed one of these female moths in a box covered
with net-gauze, and left it in a room with open window, facing the
countryside. In less than an hour the room was full of male emperor
moths--more than a hundred arrived, although none had been previously
visible in the neighbourhood. They crowded over the box, and even
afterwards, when the female moth had been removed, the perfume
remained in the box, and the male moths eagerly sought it. The perfume
must have carried far from the room where the female was, out into the
woods where it was perceived, and followed up to its source by the
male moths.

Such perfumes are very generally produced by little pockets or glands
in the skin, the secretion having, in the case of insects, birds and
mammals, an oily nature. In mammals they are largely produced by both
males and females, and serve to attract the sexes to one another.
Hairs are situated close to the minute odoriferous glands and serve an
important part in accumulating and diffusing the characteristic
perfume. Musk and civet are of this nature, and it is a significant
fact that these substances are used as perfumes by human beings. It
would seem as though mankind had lost either the power of
satisfactorily perceiving the perfumes naturally produced by the human
skin, or that the production of such perfumes had for some reason
diminished. Either condition would account for the use by mankind of
the perfumes of other animals and of flowers. There are a variety of
odorous substances produced by different parts of the human body, of
which some are agreeable and others disagreeable. One of the most
curious facts in regard to odorous bodies is the close resemblance
between agreeable and repulsive odours, and the readiness with which
the judgment of human beings may pronounce the same odour agreeable at
one period or place, and disagreeable at another. There also seems to
be a "dulling" of the power to perceive an odour which is a
consequence of constant exposure to that odour. Thus the Chinese say
that Europeans all smell unpleasantly, the odour resembling that of
sheep, although we do not observe it; whilst Europeans notice and
dislike the smell of the negro, a smell of the existence of which he
is unaware. The blood of animals, including that of man, has, when
freshly shed, a smell peculiar to the species, which has not, however,
any resemblance to that of the skin or of the waxy glands of the same
animal.

It seems that in regard to the exercise of the sense of smell by man,
we must distinguish not only greater from less acuteness and variety
of perception, but in the case of this sense-organ, as in regard to
the others, we must distinguish "unconscious" from "conscious"
sensation. All our movements are guided and determined by sensations
to touch and sight, and to some extent, of hearing, of which we are
unconscious. A vast amount of our sense-experience comes to us and is
recorded without our having consciousness of anything of the kind
going on. It is probable that the world of smells in which a dog with
a fine olfactive sense lives, produces little or nothing in the dog's
mind which is equivalent to our conscious perception of degrees of
agreeable and disagreeable odours. The dog is simply attracted and
repulsed in this direction and in that by the operation of his
olfactive organs, without, so to speak, giving any attention to the
sensation which is guiding him or being "aware" of it. No doubt at
times, and with special intensities of smell, he is, in his way,
conscious of a specific sensation. It is probable that whilst man's
general acuteness in perceiving and discriminating smells has dwindled
(as has that of the apes) in comparison with what it was in his remote
animal ancestry, yet he retains a large inherited capacity of
unconscious smell-sense, which most of us are unable to recognise,
although it is there, operating in ourselves unknown to us and
unobserved. The consciousness of smell-sensations is what we value and
talk of. It does not extend to the more primal smell-excitations,
except in extraordinary individuals. Thus, it seems to be not
improbable that we are attracted or repelled by other human
individuals by the unconscious operation upon us of attractive or
repulsive odours, and that the unaccountable liking or disliking which
we sometimes experience in regard to other individuals is due to
perfumes and odours emanating from such persons, which act upon us
through our olfactory organs without our being conscious of the fact.
It seems that we can thus arrive at a probable explanation of the
universality of the habit of kissing, and of "what is that thing we
call a kiss." It is not consciously used among civilised populations
as a deliberate attempt to smell the person kissed, but it
nevertheless serves to allow the unconscious exercise of
smell-preference, testing, and selection, with which are mingled, more
or less frequently, moments of conscious appreciation of the complex
of odours appertaining as an individual quality to the person kissed.



CHAPTER XII

LAUGHTER


The ancients associated laughter with the New Year. I am not sure
whether or no it is of good omen to begin the New Year with laughter.
Omens are such tricky things that I have given up paying any attention
to them. One would think it might be held to be unlucky to stumble on
the doorstep as you set out from home, but the old omen-wizards,
apparently from sheer love of contradiction, said, "Not at all! It is
unlucky to stumble as you come into the house, and therefore it is
lucky to stumble as you go out!"

What is laughter? It is a spasmodic movement of various muscles of the
body, beginning with those which half close the eyes and those which
draw backwards and upwards the sides of the mouth, and open it so as
to expose the teeth, next affecting those of respiration so as to
produce short rapidly succeeding expirations accompanied by sound
(called "guffaws" when in excess) and then extending to the limbs,
causing up and down movement of the half-closed fists and stamping of
the feet, and ending in a rolling on the ground and various
contortions of the body. Clapping the hands is not part of the
laughter "process," but a separate, often involuntary, action which
has the calling of attention to oneself as its explanation, just as
slapping the ground or a table or one's thigh has. Laughter is
spontaneous, that is to say, the movements are not designed or
directed by the conscious will. But in mankind, in proportion as
individuals are trained in self-control, it is more or less completely
under command, and in spite of the most urgent tendency of the
automatic mechanism to enter upon the progressive series of movements
which we distinguish as (1) smile, (2) broad smile or grin, (3)
laugh, (4) loud laughter, (5) paroxysms of uncontrolled laughter, a
man or woman can prevent all indication by muscular movement of a
desire to laugh or even to smile. Usually laughter is excited by
certain pleasurable emotions, and is to be regarded as an "expression"
of such emotion just as certain movements and the flow of tears are an
"expression" of the painful emotion of grief and physical suffering,
and as other movements of the face and limbs are an "expression" of
anger, others of "fear." The Greek gods of Olympus enjoyed
"inextinguishable laughter."

It is interesting to see how far we can account for the strange
movements of laughter as part of the inherited automatic mechanism of
man. Why do we laugh? What is the advantage to the individual or the
species of "laughing"? Why do we "express" our pleasurable emotion and
why in this way? It is said that the outcast diminutive race of Ceylon
known as the Veddas never laugh, and it has even been seriously but
erroneously stated that the muscles which move the face in laughter
are wanting in them. A planter induced some of these people to camp in
his "compound," or park, in order to learn something of their habits,
language, and beliefs. One day he said to the chief man of the little
tribe, "You Veddas never laugh. Why do you never laugh?" The little
wild man replied, "It is true; we never laugh. What is there for us to
laugh at?"--an answer almost terrible in its pathetic submission to a
joyless life. For laughter is primarily, to all races and conditions
of men, the accompaniment, the expression of the simple joy of life.
It has acquired a variety of relations and significations in the
course of the long development of conscious man--but primarily it is
an expression of emotion, set going by the experience of the
elementary joys of life--the light and heat of the sun, the approach
of food, of love of triumph.

Before we look further into the matter it is well to note some
exceptional cases of the causation of laughter. The first of these is
the excitation of laughter by a purely mechanical "stimulus" or action
from the exterior, without any corresponding mental emotion of
joy--namely by "tickling," that is to say, by light rubbing or
touching of the skin under the arms or at the side of the neck, or on
the soles of the feet. Yet a certain readiness to respond is necessary
on the part of the person who is "tickled," for, although an unwilling
subject may be thus made to laugh, yet there are conditions of mind
and of body in which "tickling" produces no response. I do not propose
to discuss why it is that "tickling," or gentle friction of the skin
produces laughter. It is probably one of those cases in which a
mechanism of the living body is set to work, as a machine may be, by
directly causing the final movement (say the turning of a wheel), for
the production of which a special train of apparatus, to be started by
the letting loose of a spring or the turning of a steam-cock, is
provided, and in ordinary circumstance is the regular mode in which
the working of the mechanism is started. The apparatus of laughter is
when due to "tickling" set at work by a short cut to the nerves and
related muscles without recourse to the normal emotional steam-cock.

Then we have laughter which is purely due to imitation and suggestion.
People laugh because others are laughing, without knowing why. This
throws a good deal of light on the significance of laughter. It is
essentially a social appeal and response. Only in rare cases do people
laugh when they are alone. Under conditions which in the presence of
others would cause them to laugh they only "chuckle" or smile, and
may, though ready to burst into laughter, not even exhibit its minor
expressions when alone. On the other hand, some sane people have the
habit of laughing aloud when alone, and there is a recognised form of
idiocy which is accompanied by incessant laughter, ceasing only with
sleep. Then there is that peculiar condition of laughter which is
called "giggling," which is laughter asserting itself in spite of
efforts made to restrain it, and frequently only because the occasion
is one when the "giggler" is especially anxious not to laugh. This
kind of "inverted suggestion," as in the case where an individual
"blurts out" the very word or phrase which he is anxious not to use,
is obviously not primitive, but connected with the long training and
drilling of mankind into approved "behaviour" by "taboos" and
restrictive injunctions. Efforts to behave correctly, by causing
anxiety and mental disturbance in excitable or so-called "nervous"
subjects, lead to an over mastering impulse to do the very thing which
must not be done!

It seems that laughter has its origin far back in the animal ancestry
of man, and is essentially an expression to others of the joy and
exhilaration felt by the laugher. It is an appeal through the eye and
ear for sympathy and comradeship in enjoyment. Its use to social
animals is in the binding together of the members of a group or
society in common feeling and action. Many monkeys laugh, some of them
grinning so as to show the teeth, partly opening the mouth and making
sounds by spasmodic breathing, identical with those made by man. I
have seen and heard the chimpanzees at the Zoological Gardens laugh
like children at the approach of their friend and my friend, the
distinguished naturalist, Mr. George Boulenger, F.R.S., recognising
him among the crowd in front of their cage when he was still far off.
And I have often made chimpanzees laugh--"roar with laughter," and
roll over in excitement--by tickling them under the arms. The saying
of Aristotle (inscribed over the curtain of the Palais Royal Theatre
in Paris) that "Laughter is better than tears, because laughter is the
speciality of man," is not true. Not only do the higher apes and some
of the smaller monkeys laugh, but dogs also laugh, although they do
not make sounds whilst indulging in "spasms of laughter." But their
distant cousin, the hyena, does laugh aloud, and its laughter agrees
with that of the dog and with the laughter of children and grown men
in simpler moods in that it is caused by the pleasurable emotion set
up by the imminent gratification of a healthy desire. The hyena
laughs, the dog grins and bounds, the child laughs and jumps for joy
at the approach of something good to eat. But it is a curious fact
that the whole attitude is changed when the food is within reach, and
the serious business of consuming it has commenced! Nor, indeed, is
the satisfaction which is felt after the gratification of appetite
accompanied by laughter. It seems that the display of the teeth by
drawing back the corners of the mouth, which is called a "grin," and
is associated in many dogs with a short, sharp, demonstrative bark,
and in mankind with the cackle we call a "laugh," is a retention, a
survival, of the playful, good-natured movement of gently biting or
pulling a companion with the teeth used by our animal ancestors to
draw attention to their joy and to communicate it to others. Gradually
it has lost the actual character of a friendly bite; the fore-feet or
hand pull instead of the teeth; the sound emitted has become further
differentiated from other sounds made by the animal. But the movement
for the display of the teeth, though no longer needed as a part of the
act of gripping, remains as an understood and universal indication of
joy and kindly feeling. So universal is it that this friendly display
of the teeth under the name "smile" is attributed to Nature, to
Fortune, and to deities by all races of men when those powers seem to
favour them.

Laughter is, then, in its essence and origin, a communication or
expression to others of the joyous mood of the laugher. There are many
and strangely varied occasions when laughter seizes on man, and it is
interesting to see how far they can be explained by this conception of
the primary and essential nature of the laugh, for many of them seem
at first sight remote from it. There is, first of all, the laughter of
revivification and escape from death or danger. After railway
accidents, earthquakes, and such terrible occurrences, those who have
been in great danger often burst into laughter. The nervous balance
has been upset by the shock (we call them "shocking accidents"), and
the emotional joy of escape, the joy of recovered life, asserts itself
in what appears to the onlooker to be an unseemly, an unfeeling laugh.
It is recorded that one of the entombed French coal miners, who two
years ago were imprisoned without food or light for twenty days a
thousand feet below in the bowels of the earth, burst into a ghastly
laugh when he was rescued and brought to the upper air once more. The
Greeks and Romans in some of their festal ceremonies made the priest
or actor who represented dead nature returning to life in the spring,
burst into a laugh--a ceremonial or "ritual" laugh. Our poets speak of
the smiles, and even of the laughter of spring, and that is why
laughter is appropriate to New Year's Day. It is the laughter of
escape from the death of winter and of return to life, for the true
and old-established New Year's Day was not in mid-winter, but a
quarter of a year later, when buds and flowers are bursting into life.
It is recorded by ancient writers that the "ritual laugh" was enforced
by the Sardinians and others who habitually killed their old people
(their parents) upon their victims. They smiled and laughed as part of
the ceremony, the executioners also smiling. The old people were
supposed to laugh with joy at the revivification which was in store
for them in a future state. So, too, the Hindoo widows used to laugh
when seated on the funeral pyre ready to be burnt. So, too, is
explained (by Reinach) the laughter of Joan of Arc when she made her
abjuration in front of the faggots which were to burn her to death.
Her laugh was caused by the thought of her escape from persecution and
of the joyful resurrection soon to come. It was not an indication that
she was not serious, and that her abjuration of witchcraft was a
farce, as her enemies asserted.

More difficult to explain is the laughter excited by scenes or
narrations which we call ludicrous, funny, grotesque, comic; and still
more so the derisive and contemptuous laugh. Caricature or burlesque
of well known men is a favourite method of producing laughter among
savages as well as civilised peoples. Why do we laugh when a man on
the stage searches everywhere for his hat, which is all the time on
his head? Why do we laugh when a pompous gentleman slips on a piece of
orange-peel and falls to the ground, or when one buffoon unexpectedly
hits another on the head, and, before he has time to recover, with
equal unexpectedness hooks his legs with a stick and brings him
heavily to the ground? Why did we laugh at the adventures of Mr.
Penley in "Charley's Aunt"? In all of these "ludicrous" affairs there
is an element of surprise, a slight shock which puts us off our mental
balance, and the subsequent laughter, when we realise either that no
serious harm has been done or that the whole thing is make-believe,
seems to partake of the character of the "laugh of escape." It is
caused by a sense of relief when we recognise that the disaster is not
real. We laugh at the "unreal" when we should be filled with horror
and grief were we assured that there was real pain and cruelty going
on in front of us. The laughter caused by grotesque mimicry or
caricature of pompous or solemn individuals seems to arise from the
same (more or less unconscious) working of the mind as that caused by
some unexpected neglect of those social "taboos" or laws of behaviour
which we call modesty, decency, and propriety. They either cause
indignation and resentment in the onlooker at the neglect of respect
for the taboo, or, on the contrary, the natural man, long oppressed by
pomposity or by the fetters of propriety imposed by society, suddenly
feels a joyous sense of escape from his bonds, and bursts into
laughter--the laughter of a return to vitality and nature--which is
enormously encouraged and developed into "roars of merriment" by the
sympathy of others around him who are experiencing the same emotion
and expressing it in the same way.

The laugh of derision and contempt and the laugh of exultation and
triumph are of a different character. I cannot now discuss them
further than to say that they are either genuine or pretended
assertions of joy in one's own superior vitality or other superiority.
The "sardonic smile" and "sardonic laughter" have been supposed by
some learned men to refer to the smiles of the ancient Sardinians when
stoning their aged parents. But they have no more to do with
Sardinians than they have with sardines or sardonyx. The word
"sardonic" is related to a Greek word which means "to snarl," and a
sardonic grin is merely a snarl. In it the teeth are shown with
malicious intent, and not as they are in the benevolent appeal of true
laughter. Mrs. Grote, the wife of the great historian (who was
herself declared by a French wit to furnish the explanation of the
word "grotesque"), wrote of "Owen's sugar-of-lead smile"--referring to
the great naturalist, Richard Owen. There was no malice in the
description, for he had, as some others have, a very sweet smile,
accompanied by a strangely grave and disapproving glare in his large
blue prominent eyes. It was only apparently sugar of lead; really, it
was sugar of milk--the milk of human kindness. The smile of the lost
picture called "La Gioconda" is by fanciful people regarded as
something very wonderful. It is really the clever portraiture of the
habitual "leer" of a somewhat wearied sensual woman. It had a
fascination for the great Leonardo, but no profound significance.



CHAPTER XIII

FATHERLESS FROGS


One of the most interesting discoveries of recent date in
regard to the processes which go on in that all-important
material--protoplasm--which is the physical basis of life and the
essential constituent of "cells"--those minute corpuscles of which all
living bodies are built--was made in 1910 by a French naturalist, M.
Bataillon, and has been examined and confirmed by another French
biologist, M. Henneguy. To explain this discovery, a few words as to
well-known facts are necessary. It is well known that if we isolate a
female frog at the egg-laying season and let her swim in perfectly
pure filtered water, and proceed to deposit some of her eggs in that
water, the eggs will not germinate; they remain unchanged for a time
and then decompose--become, in fact, "rotten." It is a matter of
common knowledge that it is necessary for the eggs to be "fertilised"
in order that they may start on that series of changes and growth
which we call "development," and become tadpoles and eventually young
frogs. The "fertilisation" of the frog's eggs is effected in ordinary
conditions by the presence in the water of the pond, into which the
female sheds them, of microscopic sperm-filaments (often called
spermatozoa, or simply "sperms") which are shed into the water at the
same time by the male frog.

The egg (the blackish-brown spherical body, as big as a rape-seed,
which is imbedded in a thin jelly, and is familiar to those who are
drawn by curiosity to look into the waters of wayside ponds in spring)
is a single cell or corpuscle of protoplasm distended with
dark-coloured and other granules of nutrient substance. A single sperm
(though requiring the microscope to render it visible) is also a
single cell. It is a minute oval body, with a long serpentine tail of
actively undulating protoplasm. Hundreds of thousands of these are
shed into the water at the breeding season by the male frog. One is
enough to fertilise the egg. The sperm-cells swim in the water, and
are chemically attracted by the eggs. As there are so many sperms, one
of them is sure to reach each black egg-sphere. It drives its way into
the substance of the egg, making a minute hole in its surface; then
the protoplasm of the sperm fuses with the protoplasm of the egg, and
becomes intimately mixed with it. The egg-cell has a "nucleus," that
dense, peculiar, deep-lying, and well-marked "kernel" of its
protoplasm which all cells have. It is of essential importance in the
life and activity of the cell. The sperm-cell has also a "nucleus,"
and now (as has been carefully ascertained) the nucleus of the sperm
and the nucleus of the egg-cell unite and form one single nucleus. The
egg is thereupon said to be "fertilised"--that is to say, "rendered
fertile." It at once commences to move. Its surface ripples and
contracts and nips in deeply, so that the sphere is marked out into
two hemispheres. These are two "cells," or masses of protoplasm,
adhering to each other. Each is provided with its own distinct nucleus
or cell-kernel, for the first step in the division of the egg-sphere
is the division within it of its newly constituted nucleus into two,
each half consisting of nearly equal proportions of the mingled
substance of the sperm-nucleus and the egg-nucleus. The two first
cells or hemispheres again divide, and so the process goes on until
the little black egg has the appearance of a mulberry, each granule of
the berry being a cell provided with its own nucleus derived from the
original nucleus formed by the fusion of the nuclei of the paternal
and maternal cells. In the course of a day or two the division has
proceeded so far that the resulting "cells" are so small as to be
invisible with a hand-glass, and require one to use a high magnifying
power in order to distinguish them. And there are hundreds of them;
the whole mass of the "egg" within, as well as on the surface, has
divided into separate cells. They go on multiplying, take up water,
and nourish themselves on the granular nutritive matter present from
the first in the egg-cell. The little mass elongates, increases in
size, and gradually assumes the form of a young tadpole.

We see, then that the process of fertilisation consists in two things,
the latter of which necessitates the former, viz. in the breaking or
penetration of the surface of the egg-cell by the active sperm
filament and second in the fusion of the substance of the sperm
filament with that of the egg in such a way that there is a distinct
and intimate fusion of the nucleus of the sperm filament with the
nucleus of the egg-cell. The recent discovery of M. Bataillon is this,
viz. that you can make the frog's egg develop in a perfectly regular
way and become a tadpole and then a young frog without the admission
to it of a sperm-filament or of any substance derived from the male
frog. All you have to do--and the operation, though it sounds easy and
simple, is an exceedingly delicate and difficult one--is to prick with
a fine needle the surface of the little black egg-sphere (not merely
of the jelly surrounding it) when it is shed by the female frog into
perfectly pure water free from sperms or anything of the sort. The
slight artificial puncture acts as does the natural puncture by the
swimming sperm-filament, and is sufficient! The egg proceeds to
develop quite regularly. There is no fusion of the nucleus of the
egg-cell with any matter from the outside; no paternal "material" is
introduced, but the nucleus of the egg-cell divides just as though
there had been! The whole progeny of cells, successively formed, are
the pure offspring of the maternal egg-cell and its nucleus. The
tadpoles and young frogs so produced are examples of what is called
"parthenogenesis"--that is to say, virginal reproduction--reproduction
without fertilisation by material derived from a male parent! The
needle, which gives off no material, but simply makes a tiny break in
the surface of the egg, does all that is necessary!

To those not acquainted with all that has been ascertained as to the
reproduction of lower animals such as insects, crustaceans, and worms,
this discovery will appear more astonishing than it really is. We
know of many lower animals in which the egg-cells produced by the
females do regularly and naturally develop without the intervention of
a male and without fertilisation. In an earlier volume[7] of this
"Easy Chair Series" I wrote of this curious subject, and described the
virgin reproduction or parthenogenesis of the hop-louse and
other plant lice, of some moths, of some fresh-water shrimps,
and of the queen bee (who produces only drones by eggs which are
not fertilised). But I had to point out then that no case was known of
"parthenogenesis"--that is to say, reproduction by unfertilised
eggs--among the whole series of vertebrate animals, the fishes,
amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. The chief point of novelty
in M. Bataillon's discovery is that we have now an experimental
demonstration of parthenogenesis in a vertebrate animal, and in one so
highly organised as the frog. And equally interesting, indeed more
important from the point of view as to the real meaning and nature of
fertilisation, is the mode in which the parthenogenesis of the frog is
set going, namely, by a mere prick of the surface film of the ripe
egg!

There have, however, been important experiments on the subject of the
development of eggs without fertilisation in recent years, prior to
these discoveries as to the frog's egg. A favourite subject for such
inquiries is the sea urchin (Echinus of different kinds). The female
sea urchin, or sea egg, like its close allies the star fishes, lays a
great number of very transparent minute eggs (each about the 1/200th
of an inch in diameter) in sea-water, and they are there fertilised by
the mobile sperm filaments discharged by the males. The eggs are so
transparent and so easily kept alive in jars of sea-water that there
is no difficulty in watching under the microscope the penetration of
the egg by a sperm, and the fusion and other changes in the nuclei.
Delages of Paris, and Loeb of California, have made valuable studies
on these eggs. Loeb has shown that they may be artificially
started on the course of development and cell division without
fertilisation--simply by the action of minute quantities of simple
chemicals (fatty acids, etc.) introduced into the sea-water by the
experimenter. These chemicals appear to act on the delicate pellicle
which forms the surface of the egg-cell in much the same way as the
prick of a needle acts on a frog's egg. A limited and delicately
adjusted disturbance of the cohesion (or of the surface-tension) of
the egg-cell seems to be all that is necessary for starting the
egg-cell on its career of development. It becomes, in the light of
these experiments, not so much a wonder that egg-cells should develop
"on their own," but that they do not more frequently do so. It must be
remembered that the "germination" and development of unfertilised
eggs, even when the whole range of animals and plants is taken into
account (for plants also are reproduced by single cells identical in
character with the egg-cells and sperm-cells of animals), that is to
say, the existence of "parthenogenesis" as a natural, regularly
recurring process, is exceptional. We must distinguish cases in which
it regularly occurs as part of the life-history of an animal or plant
from cases in which it has been successfully brought about by
experimental "artificial" methods designed by man. The plant-lice
"naturally" reproduce through the summer by unfertilised eggs
producing only females, but in the first cold of autumn males are
hatched from some of the eggs, and the eggs of this generation are
fertilised and bide through the winter, hatching in the following
spring. Some few moths and flies also reproduce naturally during
summer by unfertilised eggs, and the brine-shrimps and some other
fresh-water shrimps produce "fatherless" broods from their eggs,
sometimes for years in succession, until "one fine day" some males are
hatched, owing to what causes we do not know. The queen bee naturally
and regularly lays a certain number of unfertilised eggs, and these
produce, not females as do the unfertilised eggs of plant-lice, etc.,
but male bees--the drones--and it is only from such eggs that the
drones of bees are born. These are the chief cases of regular and
natural parthenogenesis, but there are others which might be
enumerated.

On the other hand, examples of artificially induced development of
eggs, not fertilised, are very few. The first known came accidentally
to notice. Female silkworm moths reared in confinement sometimes lay
eggs when kept apart from the male, and these have been found to
hatch, and give rise to caterpillars, which were not reared to
maturity. Other moths bred by collectors behaved in the same way, but
the grubs were reared to maturity, and three successive generations of
"fatherless" moths were obtained. In these cases the hatching of
unfertilised eggs is not known to occur in a state of nature, although
it probably occurs occasionally. It has also been observed--an
important fact when considered with the history of the frog's egg and
the needle--that "brushing" the unfertilised eggs of the silkworm and
other moths, that is to say, gently polishing the little egg-shells
with a soft camel's-hair brush, has the effect of starting
development. Taking two lots of unfertilised eggs adhering to slips of
paper, as laid by the mother moth, it is found that those gently
brushed will hatch, whilst those not brushed will either not hatch at
all, or in very small number. The brushing seems to disturb the
equilibrium of the protoplasmic egg-cell within the egg-shell just
sufficiently to set it going--going on its course of division and
development. The only other case of "artificially-induced
parthenogenesis" at present recorded is that of the common frog, due
to M. Bataillon. There are questions of great interest still to be
made out as the result of his discovery. Can the fatherless brood be
reared to maturity and again made to yield a fatherless generation?
What is the precise structure of the nuclei of the cells which
originate from the nucleus of the egg-cell only, and not from a
nucleus formed by the fusion of that with a sperm-cell nucleus? These
and similar questions are the motive of further careful study now in
progress.

The important conclusion is forced upon us by these experiments with a
needle, that even in so typical and highly organised a creature as one
of the higher or five-fingered, air-breathing vertebrates, the
egg-cell does not require any material admixture from the sperm-cell
in order that it may successfully germinate and develop, but only a
disturbance of equilibrium, which can be administered as well by a
needle's point as by a sperm-filament! Yet the whole process of sexual
reproduction undoubtedly has, as its origin and explanation, the
fusion in the first cell of the new generation from which all the rest
will arise, of the material of two distinct individuals. Thus the
qualities of the young are not a repetition of the qualities of one
parent, nor are they a mere mixture of the qualities of both parents
(for contradictory qualities cannot mix). They are a new grouping of
qualities comprising some of the one parent and some of the other and
hence a great opportunity for variation, for departure from either
parent's exact "make-up," is afforded, and for the selection and
survival of the new combination. It is, it would seem, only in
exceptional cases and for limited periods that uni-sexual or
fatherless reproduction can be advantageous to a species of plant or
animal. Such cases are those in which abundant food, present for a
limited season, renders the most rapid multiplication of individuals
an advantage to the species. But after this exceptional abundance has
come to an end, the more usual process of reproduction by fertilised
eggs (also necessary and advantageous for the preservation of the race
by "natural selection in the struggle for existence" of the new
varieties so produced) is resumed until again the abundant food is
present, as in the annual history of plant lice and the plants on
which they feed.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 7: "Science from an Easy Chair," Methuen & Co., 1910.]



CHAPTER XIV

PRIMITIVE BELIEFS ABOUT FATHERLESS PROGENY


In the preceding chapter I related the curious and exceptional cases
of "fatherless reproduction" by means of true egg-cells, those cells
of special nature produced in the organs called "ovaries," present in
all but the simplest animals and plants. These egg-cells are usually,
with elaborate sureness and precise mechanism after liberation from
the ovary, fertilised by (that is to say, fused with) the complemental
reproductive cells--the sperm-filaments--produced by other
individuals, the males.

But we must not forget--and, indeed, one should not enter on the
consideration of this subject without a knowledge of the fact--that
vast numbers of animals and plants reproduce themselves "asexually,"
as it is termed, namely, by breaking-off or separating buds, branches,
or other good solid bits of their structure which, when thus
separated, are capable of individual life and growth. Thus plants very
largely multiply, using this method in addition to the sexual method
of egg-cells and sperm-cells. One may take "cuttings" from plants and
rear them, and plants also "cut" or detach such bits themselves, in
the form of runners, of dividing bulbs, of bulbules, and such
reproductive growths seen on the lily, on the viviparous, alpine
grass, and many other plants. Even a bit cut off from the leaf of a
plant (for instance, a begonia) will sprout, root itself, and grow
into a completely formed and healthy individual. Animals, too, such as
polyps or zoophytes, and many beautiful and elaborate worms, multiply
by "fission," dividing into two or more parts, each of which becomes a
complete animal. This process is not seen in any fish, amphibian,
reptile, bird, or mammal, nor in molluscs, nor in insects,
crustaceans, myriapods, and arachnids (spiders and scorpions). It is
almost wholly confined to lower animals (worms and polyps) and to
plants, and hence is often called "vegetative reproduction." The most
remarkable case of its appearance among higher forms is that of the
marine Ascidians, or tunicates--close allies of the true
vertebrates--where reproduction by budding and the formation of
wonderfully elaborate star-like forms produced by budding and the
cohesion of the budded individuals as one composite individual are
well known. Their beautiful shapes and colours have been reproduced in
hundreds of exquisite pictures by our great artist-naturalists. We
thus have to recognise that there are two distinct kinds of
reproduction in living things. One is "asexual," by means of division
or separation of large or special masses of their existence, made up
of ordinary tissue cells. Co-existing with this, often in the same
individuals, is the other method, the "sexual," by means of detached
egg-cells and sperm-cells which are thrown off from the parents, and
do not (except in rare instances) proceed to develop unless the
egg-cell is "fertilised" by the fusion with it of a sperm-cell.

The whole subject of the reproduction of animals and plants was, until
the introduction of the microscope, involved in obscurity and mystery.
The Greeks and Romans had necessarily very imperfect and erroneous
notions on the subject, and it was not until 300 years ago that
William Harvey, the discoverer of the circulation of the blood,
declared, as a general law, that every living thing is born from an
egg. During that 300 years his conclusion has been examined and
modified, corrected and expanded, and the microscope has at last
enabled us to see and follow the excessively minute particles and
structures by which sexual reproduction is effected. Harvey's dictum
was a step in advance when it was made, for previously the belief was
current that living things were "bred" in all sorts of queer ways. It
was supposed that the putrefying flesh of a dead animal actually was
converted by a sudden process into maggots, and that rotten wood
would breed, out of its own substance, ships' barnacles and even young
geese and mice--an opinion contested only 200 years ago by Sir Thomas
Browne! No difficulty was felt in admitting that whole swarms of
insects, fishes, and even herds of larger beasts were spontaneously
generated from mud, from putrid matter, or from the waters of the sea.
That, indeed, was the popular notion set forth by the poet, John
Milton, as to the mode in which living things were "miraculously"
brought into existence at the beginning of things by the "fiat" of the
Creator. What more probable than that such a creation should still be,
here and there, at work? However, not three centuries ago, actual
experiment gradually convinced the learned that maggots are bred in a
dead body only from the eggs laid by parent flies, as shown by the
Italian Redi in 1668 who found that no maggots were bred when he
simply excluded the flies from access to the dead body by covering it
with wire gauze, but that the blow-flies swarmed on the gauze and
vainly laid their eggs on it! It was only gradually recognised that
birth by means of eggs or germs extruded from parental organisms of
the same history and character as their offspring is the explanation
of all such swarms of flies, worms, and even mushrooms and moulds as
had been formerly ascribed to a mysterious power of breeding these
organisms possessed by inanimate dirt and refuse.

In spite of this progress in knowledge the belief in "spontaneous
generation" of such excessively minute organisms as the bacteria and
yeasts was general until Theodore Schwann in 1836 performed with them
just the same experiment as Redi had performed with blow-flies in
1668. He showed that if a putrescible liquid (for instance, soup) were
boiled in a retort so as to destroy all germs, and then the open neck
of the retort was kept heated in a flame, so that no floating germs
could enter alive, the soup did not putrefy, and no bacteria or other
organisms appeared in it. The old notions, nevertheless, survive to
this day. Peasants, fisher-folk, and even uneducated wealthy
countrymen cling to them with the confidence arising from profound
ignorance. And occasionally a man of some scientific training and
knowledge astonishes the world by a futile attempt to show that the
old fancies were true in regard, at any rate, to the lowest
microscopic forms of life. But these are but the echoes of the past;
we do not believe nowadays in "spontaneous generation," nor in sudden
transformations of lower into higher forms of life. The doctrine,
"_omne vivum e vivo_"--every living thing (in the present condition of
our earth) is born from a living thing--is now held by scientific
investigators as a reasonable generalisation of experience.

On the other hand, Harvey's dictum, "Every living thing comes from an
egg," is only true in a limited sense, namely, that whilst the
individual among most larger animals and plants is always traceable to
an egg-cell detached from a parental individual of a like kind of
species, there are whole groups and series of lower animals and most
plants in which the individual born or "developed" from an egg-cell
does not proceed when grown to full size to reproduce in turn by eggs
and fertilising sperms, but divides into two or more individuals or
gives off detached buds or reproductive bulbs, which become separate
individuals, and only after these and several successive generations
of individuals have been thus produced "asexually," by fission or by
budding, does a generation appear which produces true egg-cells and
sperm-cells and reproduces by their means. Thus it is true that the
individuals "budded off" or separated by fission from an asexual
parent can be ultimately traced through one or more generations of
previous asexual parents to an egg-cell produced and fertilised in the
regular way, and with this important modification Harvey's dictum is
justified. These facts and the wonderful histories of the animals and
plants in which egg-and-sperm-producing generations "alternate" with
generations which multiply by fission and budding have only been
worked out in detail and by the aid of the microscope during the great
century of scientific discovery which lies just behind us. Often the
two generations, reproducing, the one by fission, the other by egg and
sperm-cells, are alike in appearance, but often they are very
different, and have naturally been supposed at first to have nothing
to do with each other.

Thus some of the little "coralline polyps" and other most beautiful
little marine flower-like polyps attached to rocks, weeds, and shells
in the sea reproduce by budding and division. But after a period of
such growth and such budding they produce on their stalks--jelly-fish!
These jelly-fish are budded and thrown off by them, as glass-like
swimming bells, which lead an independent life, seize prey, nourish
themselves, and grow to a size varying from that of a sixpence to that
of a cart-wheel. These "bells" are commonly known as "jelly-fish."
They discharge thousands of egg-cells into the sea and fertilise them
with sperms! From those fertilised eggs grow young polyps, which fix
themselves to rocks or weeds, and grow up to bud and multiply by
fission, and eventually to produce again by fission a generation of
jelly-fishes! Such a marvellous history of alternating modes of
reproduction has been discovered, and described in greatest
microscopic detail and with most ample pictorial representations of
all the minutest structures of the organisms studied, not only in many
marine polyps, but also in the case of many parasitic worms, such as
the tape worms and the liver-flukes. Some of the most fascinating
cases, on account of the beauty of the little creatures concerned, are
found amongst the surface-swimming Ascidians of the sea--the
glass-like Salps. But our common ferns and mosses also show this same
alternation of sexual and sexless generations, the two generations
differing greatly in size, form, and structure from one another,
whilst the whole story of "flowers" and their structure is bound up
with a wonderful "telescoping" or rolling of the two generations
(sexless and sexual) into one plant!

It was not until long after Harvey's time that these things were
understood, and there was every excuse--in the absence of observation
of the facts, especially those yet to be revealed by the
microscope--for the erroneous suppositions and explanations which were
formerly entertained as to the mode of reproduction of the less
familiar plants and animals. If we go back to the starting-point of
European science, to the great Aristotle, we find that he had formed
singularly correct conclusions as to the reproduction of the larger
kinds of animals, though he knew nothing about "sperms," having no
microscope, and only regarded the fluid produced by male animals as
exercising a fertilising effect on the eggs, which in many instances
are large enough for anyone to see. But, of course, he could not have
any knowledge of the egg-cell, nor does he say anything about the
reproduction of plants. Later, however, the sexuality of flowering
plants was taught by his pupils, and at the time of the Roman Empire
there was a very definite belief among learned men (such as Pliny)
that the larger plants and animals reproduce by eggs or by seeds
produced by the females which require to be "fertilised" by a product
formed in the males--the spermatic fluid in the case of animals and by
the pollen in the case of a few flowering plants (_e.g._ the
date-palm). But there was no idea of holding this as a general and
universal law. From Pliny to Harvey and later, those who concerned
themselves with natural history accepted without difficulty any
strange accounts or appearances as to the reproduction or the sudden
production in fanciful and astonishing ways of the lower and smaller
animals and plants. They did not expect these inferior creatures to
have the same methods of reproduction as the higher and bigger
creatures. It is only now, since the later years of the nineteenth
century, that we are able to show that all animals and plants, even
the minutest microscopic kinds, reproduce by the formation and
separation of egg-cells, and that these egg-cells are (in all but a
few exceptional cases) fertilised by sperm cells, which are smaller
than the egg-cells, and usually provided with active swimming
filaments.

Not only did our mediæval ancestors believe all sorts of fancies as to
the propagation of lower animals and plants, but they were quite
prepared to accept stories as to reproduction in the case of higher
animals, and even in mankind, by irregular methods, such as
parthenogenesis, or the defect of an ordinary male parent. In the
Middle Ages in Europe, and earlier in the East, the belief in the
frequent occurrence of the birth of a child which had no human male
parent was common. It was, so to speak, an admitted though irregular
occurrence. A very curious thing is that when such cases were supposed
to occur, they were not ascribed to any natural process such as we now
recognise in the "parthenogenesis" of insects and crustaceans, but to
the visitation of the mother by a spirit--a floating, volatile demon
or angel (known as an "incubus" in the Middle Ages) beneficent or
malicious as the case might be. Stories of the nocturnal visits of
these mysterious ghostly "incubi" are on record in great number and
variety, both in European and Oriental tradition and legend. There
seems to have been a readiness to believe the theory of paternity from
among the hidden world of goblins, fairies, and sprites which was very
naturally made use of by a woman and her relatives when she could not
produce the father of her child.

We come across examples of such beliefs in invisible agents of
paternity even among the more cultivated Romans. Thus Virgil in his
"Georgics" cites as a fact that mares are fertilised by the wind. His
words are given on the next page.

It is now known that, quite apart from any motive of concealment of
the true paternity of their offspring, some of the native tribes of
Australia have the belief that, as the regular and normal thing,
children are begotten by strange fairy-like spirits which haunt the
rocks and trees of certain localities and enter the future mother as
she passes by these haunted rocks and trees. These Australian "black
fellows" hold that the human father counts for nothing in the matter.
The belief of these Australian savages is referred to by writers on
the subject (Mr. Andrew Lang and others) as "the spiritual theory of
conception." There are some reasons for thinking that this curious
theory and the accompanying ignorance as to the natural causes of
conception were widely spread among primeval men. The fact that most
trees are fertilised by the wind (which carries to their female
flowers the invisible powder, or pollen, of the male flowers,
conveyed in the case of smaller plants which have gay-coloured flowers
by bees and butterflies) may have been noticed by primitive man, and
have started the belief that there are fertilising spirits or demons
in the air. However the fancy arose, it is only a parallel to the
strange fancies as to spontaneous generation of all sorts of animals
and plants current 200 years ago among civilised men. And, further, it
is worth noting that the uncanny belief in the "incubus" which was
generally prevalent in the Middle Ages may possibly be considered as a
survival in (or incursion into) Europe of the primitive spiritual
theory of all human conception, and of the fertilising activity of the
haunting spirits of the air which was held by primeval man, and is
still found in full force among the Arunta tribes of Australia.

    "Ore omnes versæ in Zephyrum stant rupibus altis
    Exceptantque leves auras et sæpe sine ullis
    Conjugiis vento gravidæ, mirabile dictu."

    Georgic iii. 275.

    (Facing the west on lofty rocks
    All stand and sniff the buoyant breeze
    And often--marvellous to tell--
    Without conjunction with a sire,
    Bear young engendered by the wind.)



CHAPTER XV

THE PYGMY RACES OF MEN


The tradition of the existence of dwarfs, not as isolated examples,
but as a race with their own customs, government, and language is
familiar among civilised people, and exists among scattered and remote
savages. We have all heard of them in that treasury of primitive
beliefs--the nursery. Therefore, the fact that there are at this
moment in various parts of the world dwarf or pygmy tribes of men,
living in proximity to but apart from those races which have a stature
identical with our own, has a great fascination and interest. Some few
races of men have an average height of an inch, or thereabouts,
greater than that of the people of the British Islands, whilst some
are shorter by as much as two or three inches. But, on the whole, it
may be said that, putting aside the pygmy races, of which I am about
to write, mankind generally does not show a very striking range of
normal stature--the mass in any race or region of the globe varying
from 5 ft. 4 in. to 5 ft. 8 in., and tending to the higher rather than
the lower figure.

The pygmy races are sharply separated from normal mankind by as much
as a foot, and even more, in average stature, ranging from 4 ft. to
something less than 4 ft. 11 in. in height. They are, enumerating them
in the order of their purity of race and completeness of their
isolation: (1) The Mincopies, or Andaman Islanders; (2) the Congo
pygmies (comprising the tribes known as the Akkas, or Tiki-Tikis, the
Bambutis, the Watwas, the Obongos, and Bayagas); (3) the bushmen of
South Africa; (4) the Aetas of the Philippine Islands; (5) the Samangs
of Malacca, and very similar isolated pygmy tribes which have been
observed in New Guinea, and also in the Solomon Islands and in
Formosa. The Veddas of Ceylon, the Senois of Malacca, and the Toalas
of Celebes are apparently races which have resulted from the
"crossing" of true pygmies with other normal-statured races inhabiting
the islands in which they are found. The Brahouis of Beloochistan and
the "monkey-men," or Bandra-Loks, east of the Indus, appear also to
belong to the pygmy race.

Next to their agreement in small size, the most interesting facts
about the pygmies we have just enumerated is that, notwithstanding the
wide area over which they are found in scattered, isolated
communities--viz. from the Congo to South Africa on the one hand, and,
on the other hand, from Central Africa to the Indian Ocean, and on to
New Guinea, the Philippine Islands, and Formosa--yet they all have
short, round skulls of full average brain capacity, and have their
hair growing in tightly curled-up peppercorn-like tufts--two
characters found combined in no other race. They usually have
finely-developed, straight foreheads, and the jaws do not project
strongly; the lips are usually fine and thin, and the nose, though
very broad, is not always greatly flattened. They are well-shaped,
well-proportioned little people, neither grotesque nor deformed. To a
great extent their corporeal features suggest an infantile or
child-like stage of development, and the same is true of their
intellectual condition and of their productions. Their habitations are
very primitive, either caves or low clay-made huts, of the shape of
half an egg. They do not make pottery, and neither keep herds nor till
the ground, contenting themselves with such food as wild fruits and
roots and the animals they kill with spear or arrow or capture in
traps. They do not mutilate or bedaub their bodies (though the
Andamanese indulge in a kind of "tattooing"). Among them the struggle
for life does not exist in its more brutal forms. They take care of
the sick and feeble, the children, and the old people. Cannibalism is
unknown amongst them; they punish murder and theft. They are honest,
and, moreover, are monogamous, and punish adultery, which is rare
among them. Their religion is remarkably simple. It is limited to
reverence for a Supreme Being, without any offering of sacrifice, and
they do not worship ancestors nor exhibit the superstitions known as
"animism." It has been argued that these characteristics, taken
together, indicate a primitive condition of humanity. On the other
hand, many writers regard them as degenerate offshoots of negro-like
races of larger stature and more complicated mental development.

There is no name by which the whole series of these small-sized people
is indicated excepting the ancient designation of "pygmies." Many
careful students of human races separate the pygmies of Africa as
"negrilloes" from the pygmies of Asia, whom they designate
"negritoes," and it is held that the negrilloes (Congo pygmies and
bushmen) hold the same relation to African negroes and Zulus as the
negritoes (Andamanese, and scattered tribes in New Guinea, the
Philippines, Formosa and the Solomon Islands, as well as in Malacca
and Annam and in the north-west and in other parts of Hindustan) hold
to the full-sized, frizzly haired Papuans. This, no doubt, is a
convenient way of stating the case, but the important fact remains
that the pygmies of purest race, both of Africa and Asia, have the
remarkable characteristics in common which we have noted above. Their
bodily and mental peculiarities certainly suggest, whether the
suggestion can be verified or not, the former existence in the
tropical regions of Africa and Asia of a widely spread pygmy race of
uniform character, a race which has been, to a large extent, destroyed
by other races of larger and more powerful individuals, but has also
in many regions (especially on the Asiatic Continent) intermarried
with the surrounding larger people, and given rise to hybrid races. At
the same time, it seems that in other regions this race has, by
isolation in forests and mountain ranges and by the exercise of
special skill in the use of poisoned arrows and in the arts of
concealment, evasion, and terrorising, succeeded in maintaining its
existence and primitive independence dating from remote prehistoric
times.

Whether we regard the pygmies as one race or as the result of local
modification of larger races, it is noteworthy that they are of
lighter tint than the black races close to or among whom they live.
Some, both of the African and Asiatic pygmies, are very dark
brown--practically black--but many are of a paler and yellowish tint.
We must not forget that the babies and quite young children of negroes
are nearly "white." The Asiatic pygmies, notably the Andamanese, are
darker than their African fellows. It must necessarily be difficult in
studying such a race to make due allowance not merely for admixture of
blood from surrounding populations, but to estimate correctly what the
little people have learnt in the way of art and habit from their
neighbours and what is their own. The Andaman Islanders, though
provided with metal by trading, still use the sharp-edged splinters of
volcanic glass-stone to shave their heads, which they keep entirely
bald!

It is one of the merits of the showman's enterprise in modern times
that he brings to a great city like London groups of interesting
savages, without imposture and without ill-treatment, and enables us
to see and talk with them almost as though we had travelled to their
remote native forests. It would certainly be a successful and worthy
enterprise on the part of the Anthropological Society of London to
start a garden and houses such as those maintained by the Zoological
Society, but arranged so as to receive some five or six groups of
interesting "savages." The society would be responsible for careful
and humane treatment of their guests, and return them after a sojourn,
say, of a couple years, to their native country and replace them by
specimens of other races. Under the auspices of showmen I have seen
Zulu Kaffirs, Guiana Indians, North American Indians, Kalmuck Tartars,
South African bushmen, and Congo pygmies in London, besides many
hundreds of African negroes of various tribes. Farini's bushmen and
Harrison's Congo pygmies were perfect samples of the dwarf race about
which I am writing. But I also saw and examined carefully, in 1872, at
Naples, with my friend Professor Panceri, the two African pygmies,
Tebo and Chairallah, who were the first to reach Europe. They were
subsequently adopted by and lived for some years under the care of
Count Miniscalchi Erizzo. They were very intelligent, and learnt to
read and to write well, and to play difficult music on the piano, with
feeling and appreciation. We were especially concerned to determine by
the stage of growth of their teeth and other indications whether they
were merely ordinary young negroes, as some anthropologists supposed,
or really representatives of the dwarf race as asserted by the
traveller Miani, who bought them, in exchange for a dog and a calf, in
the country of the Mombootoos, south of the Welle River, and west of
the Albert Nyanza. They were still young and growing when we examined
them, but Tebo ceased growth when he had reached a stature of 4 ft. 8
in. We had no difficulty in coming to the conclusion that they were,
when we saw them, really of exceptionally small stature for their age
as indicated by the teeth which were in place in their jaws.

[Illustration: Fig. 23.--Copy of a figure from a group drawn on a
Greek vase (dating from 300 B.C.), representing a number of the
pygmies of the remote Upper Nile engaged in battle. The resemblance of
the peaked cap and of the beard to those of the little figures carved
by Black Forest peasants and intended to represent the mythical
"gnomes" or dwarf mining-elves is noteworthy. (From Saglio and
Derenberg's "Dictionnaire des Antiquités Grecs et Romaines.")]

The Akkas living near the sources of the Nile were known to the
ancient Egyptians, and were the foundation of stories and fabulous
exaggerations among the ancient Greeks. Even before Homer these
stories existed, and the little people were called "pygmies," which
means "of the length of the forearm" (Greek, pugmé). Homer refers to
the wars of these pygmies with the cranes, and as a matter of fact the
African pygmies do wage a kind of war upon the great cranes which
swarm in the marsh-land of their country. Naturally enough the really
small size of the African pygmies (they are about 4 ft. in height,
some two or three inches less, some as much as eight inches more) was
exaggerated by report and tradition, just as the really big eggs of
the great extinct ostrich-like bird of Madagascar were represented in
the story of Sindbad, in the "Arabian Nights," as being as large as
the dome of a temple, and the bird large in proportion. The Egyptians,
as we have seen, knew the pygmy Akkas, and Egyptian fact was ever the
romance of the Greeks.

Herodotus mentions the African pygmies from beyond the Libyan desert,
citing, as is his wont, the accounts of certain travellers with whom
he had conversed, and a later Greek writer tells of a pygmy race in
India, a statement which our present knowledge confirms. It is a
curious fact that Swift's Lilliputians are thus traceable to the
Central African dwarf race, for Greek legend related that Hercules
visited the country of the pygmies, where on waking from sleep he
found one division of the army guarding his right leg, another his
left, and others his arms. Hercules got up, swept them all into the
lion's skin which he used as a cloak, and went on his way, shaking out
his small tormentors from their prison as though they were so many
ants. It seems fairly certain that Swift derived the initial scene in
his story of Gulliver's adventures among the Lilliputians from this
legend.

Miani's pygmies were members of a tribe discovered by the
distinguished traveller Schweinfurth, who, in 1870, was the first to
visit the country of the Niam-Niam, to the west of the sources of the
Nile, and had the honour of showing that the myths of the ancient
Greeks as to a nation of pygmies were based on fact, and that the
definite words of Aristotle as to the existence of these pygmy people
on the upper reaches of the Nile were correct. Schweinfurth found to
the south of the Niam-Niam country a tribe of full-statured negroes
called the Mombootoos, whose chief, Moonza, kept close to the Royal
residence a colony of pygmies who were called in that country by the
name "Akkas." Schweinfurth ascertained that they are spread to the
number of many thousands along the borders of the great Congo forest
and form numerous tribes. They are very generally well treated by
their more powerful neighbours, as by Moonza. Partly from fear of
their poisoned arrows and their crafty methods of attack and
subsequent disappearance into the forest, partly on account of a
superstitious dread of them, the Congo pygmies are not only tolerated,
but protected, by the larger people. They alone are at home in the
steaming darkness of the immeasurable forest into which no other
natives dare to enter.

It is a remarkable fact that the Egyptologist Mariette had, before
these discoveries, found on an ancient Egyptian monument the portrait
of a dwarf inscribed with the word "akka"--the identical name by which
they are known at this day in the region where Schweinfurth found
them.

Public interest in the pygmy race was rearoused three years ago by the
announcement that the party of English naturalists at that time
exploring the interior of New Guinea had come across a tribe of these
little people in the mountains of that island. The existence of these
pygmies in New Guinea was already well known, but fuller accounts of
them will be valuable. The Italian traveller Beccari, in 1876, speaks
of them as "Karonis," and states that they occupy a chain of mountains
parallel to the north coast of the north-west peninsular of the
island. D'Albertis, Lawes, and other travellers have seen and
described individuals of the pygmy race of the mountains of New
Guinea. It is interesting to find that they are described as having
the body covered with fine, woolly hair, a feature which is recorded
by Schweinfurth, by Stanley, and by an ancient Greek writer, in regard
to the Congo pygmies of Africa, and led in former times to the notion
that the old traditions and accounts of African pygmies referred, not
to human beings, but to chimpanzees!

The Laplanders are the only very small-sized people in Europe, but
they run from 5 ft. upwards, whereas the negrites and negrillos run
from about 4 ft. to less than 5 ft. The Lapps (of whom there are about
25,000 in Finmark and Lapmark) are a thick-set, round-headed
(brachycephalic), dark-yellow race, and have always been credited with
powers of witchcraft and magic by their neighbours and by modern
sailors. They live in immediate contact with the Finns (both are
Mongolian races), who are very tall and have fair hair and blue eyes.
Some writers have supposed that the Lapps are the remnants of a small
race which was formerly spread over the whole of Europe, and was
exterminated or driven out by the larger races. But we have no
evidence in favour of this view and strong evidence against it, since
we now know the skulls and skeletons of a great number of the
prehistoric inhabitants of Europe belonging to the Bronze, to the
Neolithic, and to the Palæolithic periods. None of these skeletons
belong to an abnormally small-sized race, though the Bronze-age people
were smaller than their predecessors and successors. The cave-dwellers
of the "reindeer" epoch of the Palæolithic period were big men, with
fine, high skulls, and even the earlier Palæolithic men of the glacial
period, the man of the Neanderthal, the couple from Spy, and the three
recently dug up near Perigueux (of whom I have written in another
book),[8] were not diminutive men. It is true they were not tall--only
about 5 ft. 4 in. in height--but they were very powerful and muscular,
and totally different physically from the Lapps or from any of the
tropical pygmy men. It is a remarkable fact that in one cave at
Mentone, on the Riviera, explored by the Prince of Monaco, two
skeletons have been found belonging to a shortish negro-like race
(indicated by the form of the skull), and apparently a little later in
date than the Neandermen. We must remember that at that remote date
there was continuous land connection between Europe and Africa. There
is, in fact, no reason to suppose that a pygmy race ever existed in
Europe, though, of course, individuals of exceptionally small stature
are often produced, and in some regions the whole population is
shorter than it is in others.

       *       *       *       *       *

A very interesting question in connection with the origin and
significance of pygmy races of men is, "Why is any race smaller in
size than another?" Every species among the higher animals has its
standard size from which only in the rarest cases are there
departures. That in itself is a curious fact. How was the standard
size determined, and how is it maintained? The whole question lies
there. At first sight it seems to many people quite simple to account
for "pygmies"; they will tell you that the poor creatures are
half-starved and so unable to grow to full size. That explanation does
not, however, meet the case, for the African and Asiatic pygmy races
are just as well nourished as most of their neighbours. Also if we
look a little further we find that the women of every race are smaller
than the men, and often much smaller. That is not because they are
ill-nourished as compared with the men. And, again, we find very
closely similar species of animals existing side by side, one a large
species and the other a small one, having the same opportunities of
obtaining regular nourishment. There are many instances, but take for
example the beautiful Great Koodoo antelope of Africa, with its fine
spiral horns, which measures 5 ft. at the shoulder, and the Little
Koodoo, a complete miniature of it existing alongside of it, and
standing only 3 ft. 5 in. at the shoulder. Take the two common white
butterflies of this country, the Large White and the Small White, also
the Large Tortoiseshell butterfly and the small. Take the instance of
many plant genera of which larger and smaller species are found
growing side by side. The difference in size in these cases cannot be
traced to any insufficiency of nutrition in the smaller kind.

It is evident that difference of size in animals has some deep-lying
cause, which is not merely the greater or less abundance of food.
Numerous specimens of a perfectly well-formed elephant, closely allied
in structure to the Indian elephant, but only 3 ft. high, are found
fossil in Malta and the neighbouring Mediterranean region, and in
Liberia a species of hippopotamus, distinct from that of other African
regions, is common, which is not bigger than a common pig. Pygmy hogs,
pygmy deer, pygmy buffaloes (and many other pygmy animals) are known
as thriving wild species, so that it seems clear that there are other
causes at work than semi-starvation in the production of pygmy races.

A second suggestion which is sometimes made is that the smaller race,
or smaller species of two allied forms, is the original one, and that
the larger forms have developed from these and established themselves,
without completely destroying the smaller original race. This view has
at various times been favoured in regard to the pygmy race of man.
There is something plausible in the view that these little men are
nearer than normal mankind are to the monkeys, and the fur-like
hairiness of their skin has been cited in support of it; but a fatal
objection is that the men of the pure pygmy race of Africa and Asia
are really not more, but less, monkey-like than many full-sized
savages. They have heads and faces nearer in shape to those of
Europeans than have the Australians, the Tasmanians, and the negroes.
They are more intelligent, shrewd, and skilful than their full-sized
neighbours. It is quite possible that they are a very ancient
race--more ancient, in their isolation and freedom from complicated
customs, habits, and mode of life than other savages--but they are not
primitive in the sense of being ape-like in structure or in want of
mental capacity.

A third possibility in regard to the pygmy people is that they have
been "selected" by natural conditions which favoured the survival of
small individuals, and thus established a small race--just as man has
established small races of horses, dogs, cattle, or what not, by
continually selecting small individuals for breeding, until he has
produced such races as the Shetland pony, the toy terrier, and the
Kerry cow. It is necessary to discover or to suggest (if this
explanation is to be accepted) what precisely is the advantage, in a
state of nature, to a small-sized race in being of small size. The
guess is made that the small people can more easily hide, whether in
forest or among the rocks and caves of mountainous regions, from
aggressive larger-sized mankind. The objection to this view is that
though it may explain the present habits and dwelling-places of some
of the pygmy race, it is not capable of explaining their first
segregation and formation as a distinct race. Another general
advantage which small animals have over larger ones of the same
species is that if the food of the species is widely distributed but
limited in amount, a hundred individuals weighing 5 st. each will
secure more of it than fifty individuals weighing 10 st. each. The
total weight of individuals is the same, but the smaller series will
cover twice the area and have twice as much opportunity to secure the
limited amount of food, whilst, in proportion to their size, requiring
less. It cannot be doubted that, other things being equal, this
obvious relation must tend to limit the increase in size of animals
which have to search for their special food, and must favour small
races.

Some writers have supposed that small limited areas, such as small
islands, favour the production of small races by some mysterious law
of appropriateness similar to that which lays down that "who drives
fat oxen should himself be fat." The pygmy buffalo of the island of
Celebes, the Anoa, is cited as an instance, and the pygmy men of the
Andaman Islands as another. But there are plenty of facts which would
lead to an exactly opposite conclusion. Gigantic tortoises are found
in the Galapagos Islands and in the minute islands of the Indian
Ocean, and never on the big continents. Gigantic birds bigger than
ostriches abounded in the islands of New Zealand and Madagascar. Some
of the tallest races of men are found in the Pacific islands, whilst
the tallest European population is that of the north of the island
called Great Britain. Probably the real relation of islands to the
matter is that owing to their isolation and freedom from the general
competition of the vast variety of living things in continental areas,
they offer unoccupied territory in which either exceptionally small or
exceptionally big races may flourish--if once they reach the island
shelter, or are by variation produced there--without competitive
interference.

An important consideration in regard to the formation and segregation
of a human variety or race is that mankind shows a tendency to
segregate in groups, like with like. To a large extent this is true
also of animals, but in man it acquires a special dominance, owing to
the greater activity in him of psychical or mental influences in all
his proceedings. The "cagots" of mid-France are the descendants of
former leper families. They remain separated from the rest of the
population, and do not now know why, nor do their hostile neighbours.
Such "outcast" or "accursed" tribes and family groups are found also
in Great Britain, and throughout the world. Possibly the "pygmies" owe
their preservation to this tendency. Virchow regarded the Lapps as a
race produced by disease--a pathological product. It is possible that
former liability to disease and present immunity from it is the final
explanation of the tropical pygmy race. In the United States black
pigs are able to eat, without harm, a common marsh herb, the
"Red-root" _Lachnanthes tinctoria_, which kills other pigs. Hence a
black race is established, not because it is black, but because, in
it, blackness is "the outward and visible sign of an inward and
chemical grace"--that is to say, of a physiological or chemical power
of resistance to, and immunity from, the poison of an otherwise
nutritious plant. Such "correlations" were described by Darwin, and
are of extreme importance and interest--far more so than is, at
present, recognised by naturalists. I am inclined to the supposition
that the obvious outward signs, the round head, bombous forehead,
furry skin, and diminutive size of the pygmies are the outcome of an
inward physiological condition peculiar to them, which has enabled
them to resist disease or to eat certain kinds of food, or possibly to
develop great mental acuteness, and so has led to the establishment of
these peculiar small people as a race, without their smallness itself
having anything to do with their selection and preservation. In that
case smallness would be a "by-product," a "correlated" character, not
the "effective life-saving" character.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 8: "Science from an Easy Chair," Methuen, 1909.]



CHAPTER XVI

PREHISTORIC PETTICOATS


After the last great extension of glaciers in Europe, during which
nearly all of Great Britain and the North of France and Germany were
buried with Scandinavia under one great ice-sheet--and when this
ice-sheet had receded, and the climate was like that of the Russian
"steppes," cold and dry--there were men inhabiting the caverns on both
sides of the Pyrenees. The tract of land which we call "Great Britain"
was a part of the Continent of Europe. There was no "English Channel."
The Thames and the Rhine opened by a common mouth into the North Sea.
The mammoth and the hairy rhinoceros still lingered on in France and
the more central regions of Europe. Wild horses, the great ox
(Aurochs), the bison, ibex, chamois, were abundant, and the
thick-nosed Saiga antelope, now confined to the Russian and Asiatic
steppes, was present. The most abundant and important animal
immediately north of the Pyrenees was the reindeer. The cave-men of
France and Central Europe were a fine race--living by the chase, and
fabricating flint knives and scrapers, fine bone spearheads and
harpoons, as well as occupying themselves in carving ivory and
reindeer antlers, so as to produce highly artistic representations of
the animals around them.

They rarely attempted the human face or figure, and when they did were
not so successful as in their animal work. They also painted on the
walls of some of their caverns, with red and yellow ochre, carbon, and
white chalk representations--usually about one-third the size of
nature--of some of the most important animals of the chase. They must
have used lamps, fed with animal fat, to illuminate the walls, both
when they were at work on the pictures and also afterwards, when they
exhibited the finished pictures to the less gifted members of the
tribe, as wonderful, even magical appearances. It is uncertain to what
extent races of men succeeded one another or were cotemporaries in
this period in Europe, but there is good reason for attributing the
cave pictures to an early occupation of the caves by men who also
carved, in ivory and stone, small figures of women resembling the
Hottentot Venus--whilst the later occupants made no such statuettes,
but carved in relief on bone or engraved it.

This was probably not less than 50,000 years ago, and may well have
been much more. Earlier than the date of these Reindeer men (the
Magdalenians, Solutrians and the Aurignacians[9]), in the preceding
cold, humid period of the glacial extension (probably from 80,000 to
150,000 years ago) these and other caves were occupied by an inferior
race--the Neandermen. They could not carve beasts on ivory nor paint,
but could make very good and well "dressed" flint weapons, and could
make large fires in and about the caves, both to cook their meat and
to keep off the wild beasts (lions, bears, and hyenas), who contended
with the strange, low-browed Neandermen for the use of the caves as
habitations.

On this side of the Pyrenees the Reindeer men have left some
wall-pictures, and new discoveries of great importance in the form of
rock carvings of human figures as well as pictures and huge figures of
horses, etc., are being made in France as I write these lines. But the
best preserved and most numerous wall pictures are those of the cave
of Altamira near Santander. These comprise some partially preserved
representations in yellow, red, white, and black of the great bison,
the wild boar, the horse, and other animals. A group representing some
twenty-five or more animals (each about one third the size of nature),
irregularly arranged, exists on a part of the roof, and others are
found in other parts of the cavern. Among the wall-pictures made by
ancient cave-men are numerous drawings of human beings in masks
representing animals' heads--probably indicating the "dressing-up" in
animal masks of priests or medicine men in the way in which we know
to-day is the custom among many savage tribes. Twenty-seven of these
"decorated" caverns were known in 1910--eleven in Spain, one in Italy,
and fifteen in South and Central France--and others are continually
being discovered. The most careful and critical examination by
scientific men leaves no doubt as to the vast antiquity of these
paintings, and as to their dating from a time when the animals painted
(including in some cases mammoth and rhinoceros, as well as bison,
reindeer, wild boar, ibex, red deer, bear, and felines) were existing
in the locality. The covering up of some of the drawings (which are
partly engraved and partly painted) by earthy deposits and by
encrustations of lime, and the presence in the cave deposits of the
worked flints and bones characteristic of the Reindeer men, leave no
doubt that these pictures are of that immense antiquity which we
express by the words "Quaternary period," "Upper Pleistocene" or
"Reindeer epoch."

It is, of course, only in accordance with what one would expect that
these pictures are of very varying degrees of artistic merit. But some
(a considerable number) are quite remarkable for their true artistic
quality. In this respect they differ from the rock paintings of modern
savage races--the Bushmen of South Africa, the Australians, and the
Californian Indians--with which, however, it is instructive to compare
them. Many of them agree in their essential artistic character with
the carving and engraving of animals on bone and ivory so abundantly
produced by the later Reindeer men. It is also the fact that these
Franco-Spanish wall paintings were executed at different periods in
the Reindeer epoch. Some are more primitive than others; some are very
badly preserved, mere scratched outlines with all the paint washed
away by the moisture of ages; but others are bright and sharp in their
colouring to a degree which is surprising when their age and long
exposure are considered. The French prehistorians, M.M. Cartailac and
the Abbé Breuil, have produced a sumptuous volume containing an
account, with large coloured plates, of the best preserved of the
Altamira paintings--a copy of which I owe to the kindness of H.S.H.
the Prince of Monaco, who has ordered the publication of the work at
his own charges. This has been followed by an equally fine work under
the same auspices, illustrating the wall-pictures of the Cavern of the
Font-de-Gaume in the Dordogne, for which we have to thank the Abbé
Breuil. A further volume on Spanish Caves has also appeared from the
same source in the present year. It is not surprising that the country
folk, who, in some of the Spanish localities, have known the existence
of these paintings from time immemorial, should regard them as the
work of the ancient Moors, all ancient work in Spain being popularly
attributed to the Moors, as a sort of starting-point in history. It
is, however, very remarkable that little damage appears to have been
done by the population to the paintings, even when they exist in
shallow caves or on overhanging rocks. No doubt weathering, and the
oozing of moisture, and the flaking caused by it, has destroyed most
of the Pleistocene paintings which once existed, and it is an
ascertained fact that some--for instance, those of Altamira--are
breaking to pieces owing to the opening-up and frequentation of the
caverns.

It has been remarked that, although these paintings belong to what is
called the "reindeer epoch," yet in the cave of Altamira there are no
representations of reindeer, but chiefly of bison and wild boar. It is
also remarkable that in the case of the painted rock shelters of
Calapata (Lower Aragon) and of Cogul (near Lerida, in Catalonia), no
reindeer are represented; but on the former there are very admirable
drawings of the red deer, and on the latter silhouettes of the bull,
of the red deer, and the ibex. In fact, no representations of reindeer
have been observed on cave walls or rock-shelters south of the
Pyrenees. It is possible that this may be due to the date of the
Spanish paintings being a good deal later than that of those French
cave-paintings which show reindeer, mammoth, and rhinoceros. And we
have to bear in mind that in the North of Africa (Oran) engraved
drawings on exposed rocks are known, which are for good reasons
attributed to the Neolithic period; that is to say, they are later
than the Reindeer epoch of the Palæolithic period, whilst some are
even much later.

In any case we have to remember that there are two very different and
possible explanations of the presence or absence either of certain
animals' bones or of representations of certain animals in one
"decorated" cave and not in another. The one explanation is that
animals have succeeded one another in time in Western Europe--changing
as the climatic conditions have changed--and that when, in two
cave-decorations or cave-deposits compared, the animals are different,
the cause may be that the one deposit or cave-decoration is more
recent than the other. The other explanation is that (as we well know)
at one and the same moment very different animals occupy tracts of
land which are only a hundred miles or so apart, but differ in climate
and general conditions. At this moment there are wild bears and also
wolves in France, but none in England; the elk occurs in Sweden and
Russia, but not in the West of Europe; the porcupine in Italy and in
Spain, but not in France. As late as the historic period the African
elephant flourished on the African shore of the Mediterranean, but not
in Spain; now it is not found north of the Sahara at all. So we have
various possibilities to consider in comparing the animal pictures on
the cave walls of Spain with those found in France, and may well
suspend judgment till we have knowledge of a greatly extended area.

       *       *       *       *       *

I am anxious to draw attention in this chapter to the painted group of
ten human figures lately discovered on a rock shelter at Cogul, near
Lerida, in Catalonia, and figured and described in the admirable
French journal called "L'Anthropologie." These figures are those of
young women dressed in short skirts and curious sleeves, the hair done
up in a conical mass rising from the sides to the top of the head.
Each figure is about ten inches high. The great interest about these
drawings is that they are probably tens of thousands of years old,
and present to us the women of the reindeer or late Pleistocene epoch.
No other such painting of the women of this period is known, and the
astonishing thing is that, though these are by no means fine specimens
of prehistoric art, yet there is a definitely modern look about the
figures and a freedom of touch about the drawing which makes one think
at first that the picture is some modern, hasty but clever sketch in
silhouette of a number of short skirted school girls at play. The
waist is extremely small and elongated, the skirt, or petticoat, bell
shaped, and the whole figure "sinuous." One of the figures appears to
have a cloak or jacket, but the breasts and legs are bare.

[Illustration: Fig. 24.--Reproduction of drawings from a rock shelter
near Lerida, in Catalonia, representing a group of women clothed in
jacket and skirt with "wasp-like" waists. The original figures are ten
inches high, and the drawing probably dates from the late Palæolithic
period.]

[Illustration: Fig. 25.--A further portion of the same group as that
shown in Fig. 24. In front is a small deer-like animal.]

Some three years ago Sir Arthur Evans discovered in the palace of the
ancient Kings of Crete coloured frescoes some 3,500 years old
representing in great detail elegant young women with greatly
compressed waists, strongly-pronounced bustles, and elaborately
ornamented skirts. These Cretan paintings of prehistoric young women,
both in costume and pose, are like nothing so much as the portraits of
distinguished ladies of the fashionable world of Paris exhibited by
the painter, Boldini, in the "Salon." It is remarkable that explorers
should have found contemporary paintings of young ladies who lived
nearly as long before Cleopatra as she lived before us. And it is
still more remarkable that those young ladies were "got up" in the
same style, and apparently aimed at much the same effects of line and
movement, as those which have become the latest fashion in Paris, and
may be described as sinuous and serpentine. Not only is that the case,
but it is evident that the painter of Knossos, the Minotaur city, and
M. Boldini have experienced the same artistic impression, and have
presented in their pictures the same significance of pose and the same
form, from the tip of the nose to the ends of the fingers and the
points of the toes--thus revealing a sympathy reaching across many
ages. It seems to me that the same artistic impression is to be
detected in the still earlier paintings of the wasp-waisted little
ladies of the Cogul rock-shelter in Catalonia. We find here the same
sinuous figure with exaggeratedly compressed waist, prominent bosom,
and emphasised haunches. But it is many, perhaps forty, thousands
years earlier! One is led to wonder whether this type of human
female--to-day expressed with such masterly skill by Boldini--may not
be at the back of the mind of a portion of the human race--that which
populated what are now the shores of the Mediterranean, and probably
came there travelling northwards from the centre of Africa. Possibly
they brought with them that tendency to, and admiration for,
megalopygy which is evidenced by the makers of the earliest known
palæolithic cave sculptures (the Aurignacians), and has persisted in
some degree ever since in Europe--a tendency and a taste which are on
the one hand totally absent in the East and Far East (Japan), and on
the other hand have a strong development in the modern Bushmen (and
the related Hottentots), an African race, and like the Spanish
cave-men, rock painters.

[Illustration: Plate VIII.--Votary or priestess of the goddess to whom
snakes were sacred. The original is a statuette in faïence, ten inches
high, and was discovered by Sir Arthur Evans in the palace at Knossos
in Crete. It dates from 1600 B.C.]

I am able to reproduce here (Plates VIII and IX), through the kindness
of Sir Arthur Evans and Dr. Hogarth, the keeper of the Ashmolean
Museum at Oxford, two very interesting drawings--showing certain
features in the dress of women in the prehistoric race which inhabited
the island of Crete for some three thousand years previous to the date
of these representations, which is about 1600 B.C. They are
interesting to compare both with the much more ancient figures from
the Spanish cave and with modern female costume. The first (Plate
VIII) is a figure in coloured pottery (faïence), representing either a
votary or priestess of a goddess to whom snakes were sacred. The
petticoat of this lady is very modern, being long, decorated with
flounces (a series of five) and bell-shaped. The dress is further
remarkable for a tight ring-like girdle which greatly compresses the
waist and emphasises the broad hips. The little statue is about ten
inches high, and was found by Sir Arthur Evans at Knossos, the ancient
buried city the capital of Crete, in the Later Palace. Its date is
that of the close of the Minoan period, namely 1600 B.C. The two
figures in Plate IX are copied from frescoes representing acrobatic
women from the bull-ring, also from the Later Palace at Knossos, and
are a couple of centuries later in date. Religious ceremonies in
connection with the worship of the bull (whence the fable of the
minotaur) were practised in Knossos, and possibly there was a kind of
baiting of bulls and jumping over and away from the infuriated animals
such as may be seen at this day in the South of France and in
Portugal. Possibly the employment of girls in this sport gave rise to
the story of the maiden tribute from Athens to be sacrificed to the
Cretan minotaur. The drawings are remarkable for the pose--that of the
left-hand resembling an attitude assumed in boxing, whilst the
dress--a kind of maillot or "tights"--is gripped round the waist by a
firm ring (like a table-napkin ring), the compression of which is no
doubt exaggerated. This fresco and many others of extraordinary
interest, as well as much beautiful pottery and the whole of the plan
of the city, its public buildings, granaries, library and sewers at
several successive ages (the remains lying in layers one over the
other), were discovered and described by Sir Arthur Evans, who is
still at work on the wonderful history and art of these prehistoric
Cretans, from whom the Mycenæans of the mainland of Greece were an
offshoot.

The point to which I chiefly desire to call attention is that this
Cretan people practised compression of the waist, and so have a
certain point of agreement with the prehistoric race of Lerida
represented in Figs. 24 and 25 and with Boldini's modern ladies. We
know from carvings and pottery that the men as well as the women of
the Mycenæan people wore a tightly-compressing girdle. The form of
figure thus produced--viz. relatively small, flexible waist, and large
hips with protruding buttocks--seems to be a less pronounced variety
of that of the small ivory figures of Aurignacian age (late
Palæolithic) found in cave deposits of France and of that of the
Bushmen women. It seems as though the "ideal" female figure or that
admired and pictured by these races and by the modern Latin races is
the same in its main features, and differs altogether from that
admired in the Far East. Such deeply seated tastes may possibly
(indeed, not improbably) be due to a common origin of the
Mediterranean and African peoples distinct from that of the Mongoloid
Asiatic races.

[Illustration: Plate IX.--Fresco drawing of two female acrobats from
the palace of Knossos, date about 1400 B.C. The originals were
discovered by Sir Arthur Evans.]

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 9: A brief account of the skulls and implements of primitive
man, with illustrations, is given in the first series of "Science from
an Easy Chair," published in 1910 by Methuen & Co.]



CHAPTER XVII

NEW YEAR'S DAY AND THE CALENDAR


I came across a discussion the other day as to whether it is right to
tell children and to let them believe that Santa Claus puts Christmas
presents in their stockings, and that Peter Pan really comes in at the
window and teaches nice little boys and girls to float through the
air. I was surprised that anyone should be so singularly ignorant of
child-nature as to hold that children really believe these things.
Children have a wonderful and special faculty of "make-believe," which
is not the same as "belief." All the time when a child is indulging in
"make-believe" (a sort of willing self-illusion or waking dream) its
real, though tender, reasoning-power is merely "suspended," and is not
offended or outraged. That power can on emergency be brought to the
front, and the little one will say, "Of course, they're not real," or
"I always knew he didn't really come down the chimney." So that I do
not think anyone need be anxious as to doing harm or laying the
foundations of future distrust by telling fairy-tales to the very
young. If told in the right form and spirit they are received by
six-year-old and older children readily and naturally as belonging to
that delicious world of "make-believe" which (as one of their own
orators, I believe, has said) "children of even the meanest
intelligence will not be guilty of confounding with that very inferior
every-day world of reality in which we find, much to our regret, that
it is necessary to spend so large a part of our time." The power of
make-believe is almost limitless, and makes its appearance even in the
speechless infant of less than two years old, who will gather fruit
from a coloured picture, generously offer you a bite, and pretend to
swallow the rest itself. Make-believe must have been a very big
factor in the life of the ape-like predecessors of prehistoric man.

Deception in the world of reality is very different from make-believe,
and a terrible thing. To the child--deception in regard to real
things, whatever excuses adults may put forward in its defence, is
well-nigh unforgivable. To be one who never says "it is" when it is
not, nor "it will be" when it will not be--that is to be a friend on
whom a child rests in perfect trust and happiness.

What have these thoughts to do with the New Year? Merely this, that it
is not only with and for children that we make-believe at this
season--we all of us, more or less, indulge in a make-believe about
the New Year. As the clock strikes its twelve notes at midnight on
December 31st, and all the bells of a great city are heard hovering in
the air, sending forth their sweet sounds from far and near into the
fateful night, there are few of us who have not a feeling that a great
event has occurred. A physical change has set in--the Old Year is dead
and gone, and the New Year, something tangible, which you can let in
at the door or the window--has just come into being, and is there
waiting for us. We are, of course, indulging in "make-believe," for
there is no New Year, with any natural, noteworthy thing to mark its
commencement, starting at midnight on December 31st. New Years begin
every day and hour, and it is by no means agreed upon by all nations
of the earth to pretend that the 1st of January is the critical day
which we must regard as that portentous epoch, the beginning of the
New Year. This choice of a day was made by the Romans, and that
wonderful man Julius Cæsar had a great deal to do with it; modern
Europe adopted his arrangement of the year or calendar. But the Jews
have their own calendar and their own New Year's Day, which varies
from year to year, from our September 5th to our October 7th. It is,
however, to them always the first day of the month Tishri, and the
first day of their new year. The Mahomedans took the date of the
flight of Mohammed from Mecca to Medina--the night of July 15th, 622
A.D.--as the commencement of their "era," and its anniversary is the
first day of their month Muharram and the first day of their
year--their New Year's Day. As, although they reckon twelve months to
the year, their months are true lunar months, and are not corrected as
are those in use by us (as I will explain below); their year consists
of 354 days 8 hours, and so does not run parallel to our year at all.
Their New Year's day, which began by being our July 16th, was in the
next year coincident with our July 6th, then in three successive years
it occurred on different days of June, and so on through May, April,
and the preceding months, so that in thirty-two and a half of our
years their New Year's Day has run through all our months and comes
back again to July.

So much for New Year's Days; they are arbitrary selections, and though
the Roman New Year's Day, or January 1st, has been precisely defined
and fixed by the determination by astronomers of the position of the
earth on that day in its revolution around the sun, yet the original
selection of January 1st for the beginning of the year seems to have
been merely the result of previous errors and negligence in attempting
to fix the winter solstice (which now comes out as December 22nd).
This is the day when the sun is lowest and the day shortest; after it
has passed the sun appears gradually to acquire a new power, and
increases the duration of his stay above the horizon until the longest
day is reached--the summer solstice (June 21st). Julius Cæsar took
January 1st for New Year's Day as being the first day of a month
nearest to the winter solstice. The ancient Greeks regarded the
beginning of September as "New Year."

Were mankind content with the measure of time by the completion of a
cycle of revolution of the earth around the sun--that is the year--and
by the revolution of the earth on its own axis--that is the day or
day-night ([Greek: nychthêmeron]) of the Greeks--the notation of time
and of seasons would be comparatively simple. No one seems to know why
or when the day was first divided into twenty-four hours, nor why
sixty minutes were taken in the hour and sixty seconds in the minute.
The ancient astronomers of Egypt and China, and their beliefs in
mystical numbers, have to do with the first choosing of these
intervals in unrecorded ages of antiquity (as much as 2000 or 3000
B.C.). The seven days of the week correspond to the five planets known
to the ancients, with the addition of the sun and the moon. But the
Greeks made three weeks of ten days each in a month. The true
year--the exact period of a complete revolution of the earth around
the sun--is 365 days 5 hours 18 minutes and 46 seconds. It was
measured with a fair amount of accuracy by very ancient races of men,
who fixed the position of the rising sun at the longest day by
erecting big stones, one close at hand and one at a distance, so as to
give a line pointing exactly to the rising spot of the sun on the
horizon, as at Stonehenge. They recorded the number of days which
elapsed before the longest day again appeared, and they marked also
the division of that period by the two events of equally long sunlight
and darkness--the spring and the autumn "equinox." It is obvious that
if they took 365 days roughly as the period of revolution they would
(owing to the odd hours and minutes left out) get about a day wrong in
four years, and it was the business of the priests--even in ancient
Rome the pontiffs were charged with this duty--to make the correction
add the missing day, and proclaim the chief days of the year--the
shortest day, the longest day, and the equinox-days of equal halves of
sunshine and darkness. In ancient China, if the State astronomer made
a wrong calculation in predicting an eclipse he was decapitated.

It is easy to understand how it became desirable to recognise more
convenient divisions of the year than the four quarters marked by the
solstices and the equinoxes. Various astronomical events were studied,
and their regular recurrence ascertained, and they were used for this
purpose. But the most obvious natural timekeeper to make use of,
besides the sun, was the moon. The moon completes its cycle of change
on the average in 29-1/2 days. It was used by every man to mark the
passage of the year, and its periods from new moon to new moon were
called, as in our language, "months" or "moons," and divided into
quarters. It is, however, an awkward fact that twelve lunar months
give 354 days, so that there are eleven days left over when the solar
year is divided into lunar months. The attempt to invent and cause the
adoption of a system which shall regularly mark out the year into the
popular and universally recognised "moons," and yet shall not make the
year itself, so built up, of a length which does not agree with the
true year recorded by the return of the rising sun to exactly the same
spot on the horizon after 365 days and a few hours, has been
throughout all the history of civilised man, and even among
prehistoric peoples, a matter of difficulty. It has led to the most
varied and ingenious systems, entrusted to the most learned priests
and state officers, and mostly so complicated as to break down in the
working, until we come to the great clear-headed man Julius Cæsar.

In the very earliest times of the city of Rome the solar year, or
complete cycle of the seasons, was divided into ten lunar months
covering 304 days, and it is not known how the remaining days
necessary to complete the solar revolution were dealt with, or
disposed of. The year was considered to commence with March, probably
with the intention of getting New Year's Day near to the spring
equinox. The Celtic people and the Druids, with their mistletoe rites,
kept New Year also at that time. The ten Roman months were named
Martius, Aprilus, Maius, Junius, Quintillis, Sextilis, September,
October, November, December. In the reign of the King Numa two months
were added to the year--namely, Januarius at the beginning and
Februarius at the end. In 452 B.C. February was removed from the end
and given second place. The Romans thus arranged twelve months into
the year, as the ancient Egyptians and the Greeks had long before
done. The months were made by law to consist alternately of
twenty-nine and of thirty days (thus keeping near to the average
length of a true lunar cycle), and an odd day was thrown in for luck,
making the year to consist of 355 days. This, of course, differs from
the solar year by ten days and a bit. To make the solar year and the
civil or calendar year coincide as nearly as might be, Numa ordered
that a special or "intercalary" month should be inserted every second
year between February 23rd and 24th. It was called "Mercedonius," and
consisted of twenty-two and of twenty-three days alternately, so that
four years contained 1465 days, giving a mean of 366-1/4 days to each
year. But this gave nearly a day too much in each year of the calendar
(as the legal or civil year is called) as compared with the true solar
year, agreement with which was the object in view. So another law was
made to reduce the excess of days in every twenty-four years.
Obviously the superintendence of these variations, and the public
declaration of the calendar for each year, was a very serious and
important task, affecting all kinds of legal contracts. The pontiffs
to whom the duty was assigned abused their power for political ends,
and so little care had they taken to regulate the civil year and keep
it in coincidence with the solar year that in the time of Julius Cæsar
the civil equinox differed from the astronomical by three months, the
real spring equinox occurring, not at the end of what was called March
by the calendar, but in June!

Julius Cæsar took the matter in hand and put things into better order.
He abolished all attempt to record by the calendar a lunar year of
twelve lunar months; he fixed the length of the civil year to agree as
near as might be with that of the solar year, and arbitrarily altered
the months; in fact, abandoned the "lunar month" and instituted the
"calendar month." Thus he decreed that the ordinary year should be 365
days, but that every fourth year (which, for some perverse reason, we
call "leap" year) should have an extra day. He ordered that the
alternate months, from January to November inclusive, should have
thirty-one days and the others thirty days, excepting February, which
was to have in common years twenty-nine, but in every fourth year (our
leap year) thirty. This perfectly reasonable, though arbitrary,
definition of the months was accompanied by the alteration of the name
of the month Quintilis to Julius, in honour of the great man. Later
Augustus had the name of the month Sextilis altered to Augustus for
his own glorification, and in order to gratify his vanity a law was
passed taking away a day from February and putting it on to August, so
that August might have thirty-one days as well as July, and not the
inferior total of thirty previously assigned to it! At the same time,
so that three months of thirty-one days might not come together,
September and November were reduced to thirty days, and thirty-one
given to October and December. In order to get everything into order
and start fair Julius Cæsar restored the spring equinox to March 25th
(Numa's date for it, but really four days late). For this purpose he
ordered two extraordinary months, as well as Numa's intercalary month
Mercedonius, to be inserted in the year 47 B.C., giving that year in
all 445 days. It was called "the last year of confusion." January 1st,
forty-six years before the birth of Christ and the 708th since the
foundation of the city, was the first day of "the first Julian year."

Although Julius Cæsar's correction and his provisions for keeping the
"civil" year coincident with the astronomical year were admirable, yet
they were not perfect. His astronomer, by name Sosigenes, did his
best, but assumed the astronomical year to be 11 min. 14 sec. longer
than it really is. In 400 years this amounts to an error of three
days. The increasing disagreement of the "civil" and the "real"
equinox was noticed by learned men in successive centuries. At last,
in A.D. 1582, it was found that the real astronomical equinox, which
was supposed to occur on March 25th, when Julius Cæsar introduced his
calendar (not on March 21st, as was later discovered to be the fact),
had retrograded towards the beginning of the civil year, so that it
coincided with March 11th of the calendar. In order to restore the
equinox to its proper place (March 21st), Pope Gregory XIII directed
ten days to be suppressed in the calendar--of that year--and to
prevent things going wrong again it was enacted that leap-year day
shall not be reckoned in those centenary years which are not multiples
of 400. Thus Pope Gregory got rid of three days out of the Julian
calendar, or civil year, in every 400 years, since 1600 was retained
as a leap-year, but 1700, 1800 and 1900, though according to the
former law leap-years, were made common years, whilst 2000 will be a
leap-year. In order to correct a further minute error, namely, the
fact that the calendar year as now amended is 26 sec. longer than the
true solar year, it is proposed that the year 4000 and all its
multiples shall be common years, and not leap years. This is a matter
which, though practical, is of distinctly remote importance. Some
people like to look well ahead.

The alteration in the calendar made by Pope Gregory was successfully
opposed for a long time in Great Britain by popular prejudice. It was
called "new style," and was at last accepted, as in other European
countries, but has never been adopted in Russia, which retains the
"old style." An Act of Parliament was passed in 1751 ordering that the
day following September 2nd, 1752, should be accounted the fourteenth
of that month. Many people thought that they had been cheated out of
eleven days of life, and there were serious riots! The change had been
already made in Scotland in the year 1600 without much outcry. The
Scotch were either too "canny" or too dull to "fash" themselves about
it.

Let us now revert for a moment to the proceedings of Oriental
potentates in regard to astronomers, a class of scientific
functionaries whom they have from remote ages been in the habit of
employing. It appears that in China there is no attempt to make the
civil year or year of the calendar coincide with the astronomical
year. The astronomical year is reckoned as beginning when the sun
enters Capricorn, our winter solstice, and is thus more reasonably
defined than is the commencement of our New Year, which is nine days
late. Twelve months are recognised; the first is called Tzu, the
second Chou, and the third Yin, and the rest respectively Mao, Chen,
Su, Wu, Wei, Shen, Yu, Hsu, Hai. But the calendar year, on the other
hand, begins just when the Emperor chooses to say it shall. He is like
the captain of a ship, who says of the hour, "Make it so," and it is
so. With great ceremony he issues a calendar ten months in advance,
fixing as he pleases all the important festive and lucky days of the
year. Various emperors have made New Year's Day in the fourth, third,
second, first, or twelfth month. It has now been fixed for many
centuries in the second astronomical month. I have mentioned above
that the ancient Greeks reckoned the New Year as beginning about the
end of September. But the reckoning differed in the different States,
and so did the names of the months. Although the Greek astronomers
determined the real solar year with remarkable accuracy, and proposed
very clever modes of correcting the calendar so as to use the lunar
months in reckoning, there was no general system adopted, no agreement
among the "home-ruling" States.

I have stated above that the official Chinese astronomers sometimes
get their heads cut off for not correctly foretelling an eclipse.
Illustrating this there is the following story of a visit paid about
forty years ago to the Observatory in Greenwich Park by the Shah of
Persia of that date. The Persians have many close links with the
Chinese, and share their view of astronomy as a sort of State
function, in which the Emperor has special authority. The Shah
accordingly made a great point of visiting the British State
observatory, in company with King Edward, who was then Prince of
Wales. Sir George Airy was the Astronomer Royal, and showed the party
over the building and gave them peeps through telescopes. "Now show me
an eclipse of the sun," said the Shah, speaking in French. Sir George
pretended not to hear, and led the way to another instrument. "Dog of
an astronomer," said the Shah, "produce me an eclipse!" Sir George
politely said he had not got one and could not oblige the King of
Kings. "Ho, ho!" said the Shah, turning in great indignation to the
Prince of Wales. "You hear! cut his head off!" Sir George's life was,
as a matter of fact, spared, but in the course of a year he retired,
and was succeeded by another Astronomer Royal. On his appointment that
gentleman was astonished at receiving a letter of congratulation from
the Shah of Persia. The Shah evidently thought that his bloodthirsty
request had been attended to, though with some delay. He proceeded to
tell the new Astronomer Royal that he had a few days before writing
witnessed a total eclipse of the sun in the observatory at Teheran.
This was perfectly correct. The suggestion was that the Teheran
astronomers knew their business, and had the good sense to arrange an
eclipse when a Royal Visitor wished for one, and so escape
decapitation--a course which the kindly Shah evidently wished to
indicate to the new and young Astronomer Royal as that which he should
pursue in order to avoid the fate of his unhappy and obstinate
predecessor. The attitude of the Shah towards science is one which is
not altogether unknown in this country.



CHAPTER XVIII

EASTERTIDE, SHAMROCKS AND SPERMACETI


Most people think of Easter as a Christian festival, but it is really
in name and origin a pagan one. The word "Easter" is the modern form
of "Eastra," the name of the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring (in
primitive Germanic, "Austro"). The Germans, like ourselves, keep its
true pagan name, "Ostern." The Latin nations use for Easter the word
Pascha (French, Pâque), the Greek form of the Jewish name for the
feast of the Passover, with which it is historically associated by the
Christian Church. Terrible quarrels have occurred in early ages over
fixing Easter Day and its exact relation to the Jewish calendar. This
is the explanation of its being "a movable feast" and of the
consequent inconvenience to Parliament, schoolboys, and
Bank-holiday-makers at the present day. It must be admitted that when
Easter comes as early as it sometimes does those who have but the
short spring holiday of the Easter week-end are hardly used. Instead
of enjoying the sunny spring weather of Austro, and the flowers and
the bursting buds which an Easter at the end of April often gives,
they have to put up with the dreary chill of arid March, and this,
absurdly enough, is all on account of a mistaken attempt at accuracy
made by the Church some sixteen hundred or more years ago in trying to
bring the Christian festival into line with the Jewish Passover. If it
were desired to celebrate the Feast of the Resurrection each year on
the day corresponding astronomically with that indicated in the
Gospels, the Astronomer Royal would have no difficulty in exactly
fixing the day, making due allowance for the changes of the calendar
and for the irregularities of the Jewish year. I do not know what day
in what month such a calculation would finally establish as that of
the ecclesiastical festival, but the Bank Holiday and the Anglo-Saxon
Easter might be dealt with separately, and assigned, once for all, to
the end of April, the real "opening," or spring month.

The yellow "tansy cakes" which used to be, and the coloured eggs which
still are, given away at Easter throughout Europe, are not of
Christian origin, but belong to the Roman celebration (at the same
season, viz., April 12th to 15th) of the goddess of Plenty--Ceres.
Eggs are the symbols of fecundity and the renewal of life in the
spring. They were decorated and given in baskets by rich Romans to
their friends and dependents at this season. "Hot-cross buns" are
peculiar to England, and no doubt have a Christian significance. They
have not survived in Scotland, although Easter eggs are well known
there (sometimes they are called "pace-eggs"), nor on the Continent,
where "Pascal eggs" are an institution. "Buns" owe their name to the
old Norse word "bunga," a convexity or round lump, preserved also in
our words "bunion" and "bung." In Norman French it became "bonne," and
in the fourteenth century was applied to the round loaf of bread given
to a horse; the loaf was called Bayard's bonne (pronounced "bun"). In
some parts of England a "bunny" still means a swelling due to a blow.

The April fish, the "poisson d'Avril," is the polite French term for
what we call an "April fool." But why a fish is introduced in this
connection I am unable to say. The custom of sending people on fool's
errands on the First of April is probably due to the change of the
calendar in France in 1564; but there is a Hindoo feast on March 31st,
when similar jokes are perpetrated. It is called "Huli," which, in
accordance with phonetic laws, readily becomes "Fooli." This is
probably only a coincidence.

A curious Easter custom in country districts in England used to be
(perhaps still is) that called "lifting" or "heaving." On Easter
Monday two men will join hands so as to form a seat; their companions
then "by right of custom" compel the women they may meet to sit, one
after the other, on the improvised throne and be lifted or heaved as
high as may be. On Easter Tuesday the women perform the same rite upon
the men. Strangers thus assailed have been much disconcerted and have
recorded their astonishment in "notes of travel." The custom is said
to be a popular degeneration of the celebration of the Resurrection.

       *       *       *       *       *

An early Easter falls little in advance of St. Patrick's Day, when
there is much "wearing of the green" and questioning as to what plant
is "the real shamrock." This matter has become so involved and
developed by wild enthusiasm, ignorance, and false sentiment that it
is difficult to deal with it. A distinguished Irishman once showed me
the "shamrock" he was wearing in his buttonhole as "the true" plant of
that name. He assured me that he had studied the subject from boyhood
and knew well the true and the false. "What is its flower like?" I
asked him. "It never has a flower at all," he said. Another injustice
to Ireland, one must suppose, or a miracle of St. Patrick's! His
"green" was a bit of the small variety of the common clover,
_Trifolium repens_, which, of course, produces the usual tuft of
florets or clover-head. It is true that this plant has now been
vulgarly substituted for St. Patrick's shamrock. The shamrock is not
really the common clover nor any variety of it. The common Dutch
clover and its varieties were introduced into Ireland two hundred
years ago from England and are not Irish at all! The true shamrock is
the delicate little wood-sorrel, _Oxalis acetosella_, which has a
beautifully formed three-split or trefoil leaf of the most vivid green
colour, and a white flower like that of a geranium. It is called
"fairy-bell" by the Welsh, and was believed to ring chimes for the
elfin folk. It was also greatly esteemed for its acid flavour and for
various reputed medicinal and magical properties by the Druids and
among the early inhabitants of Great Britain and Ireland. Pliny says
it never shelters a snake, and is an antidote to the poison of
serpents and scorpions--a good reason for its association with St.
Patrick! It had already a reputation and sanctity when, if tradition
be true, St. Patrick used its threefold leaf to symbolise the doctrine
of the Trinity.

It is much rarer to find the wood-sorrel trefoil with a fourth leaflet
than it is to find the clover trefoil so provided. The two plants
belong to families widely separated from one another. The ancient
architectural decoration of trefoil carving, and also the heraldic
shamrock in the arms of the United Kingdom, represent the leaf of the
wood-sorrel, and not that of the clover. No doubt there has been some
sentimental intention in putting forward the humble, abundant,
down-trodden dwarf-clover, the very sod itself of Ireland (really
introduced from England) as "the shamrock!" But, as often happens in
such cases, truth and the ancient and honourable tradition of a
beautiful thing have been wantonly disregarded in order to do business
in cheap sentiment. Traders are always ready to take advantage of an
ignorant public. Common sprats are called "sardines," the name of
another and rarer fish, in order to conceal the fact that they are
sprats; clarified horse fat is called "fresh country butter," and
Irish regiments are made to decorate themselves with common clover
under the delusion that it is the shamrock. Other plants have been
from time to time utilised to usurp the title of "shamrock." Thus the
small Lucerne clover or medicago is often sold as "shamrock" to Irish
patriots, and the watercress has been solemnly pat forward as the true
shamrock simply because old writers tell us, as evidence of the
barbarous state of the Irish, that they fed upon shamrocks and
watercress. The true shamrock (the wood-sorrel) was formerly greatly
valued all over Europe as a salad and a flavouring herb on account of
its leaves containing oxalic acid. It was used for the manufacture of
oxalic acid, which was sold as "salts of lemons" for removing
iron-mould. It was the basis of the soup and of the green sauce for
fish, in which the dock-sorrel (Rumex) has now taken its place. The
name "shamrock" is an old Irish word, written "seamragg," and means a
little "trefoil." Curiously enough there appears to be an Oriental
word, "shamrakh," which I am told is of Arabic origin, and also means
a trefoil. In English writers from the seventeenth century onwards the
Irish shamrock is variously written of as "shamroots," "shamerags"
(this and the next following with hostile intent), "shame-rogues,"
"sham-brogues," and "sham-rug."

I am sorry to say that Shakespeare does not mention the shamrock at
all. No Irishman who knows the little oxalis or wood-sorrel could wish
for a more beautiful floral emblem of the Emerald Isle, or dream of
letting the vulgar Saxon intruder--the dwarf clover--take its place.
Perhaps it is the Ulstermen who have set up the foreign "Dutch" clover
to replace the true shamrock, the wood-sorrel. These changes are
easily made. For instance, "green" is not the original colour of
Ireland, but light blue--Cambridge blue!

       *       *       *       *       *

This chapter is one of varied material, and I now pass abruptly from
fresh emerald leaflets to the waxy crystals stewed out of the fat of a
monster's head. There has seldom been a controversy so entertaining as
that between Dr. Bode (the talented director of the Art Gallery of
Berlin) and his opponents, in regard to the age of the wax-bust which
he purchased not long ago for £8,000 in Bond Street in the belief that
it was the work of Leonardo da Vinci. Science has had its share in the
examination of the bust. The last scientific contribution to the
matter was the discovery by an analytical chemist, Dr. Pinkus, that
the waxy mixture of which the bust is composed consists in definite
proportion of spermaceti. Now since spermaceti was not used before the
year 1700, the bust cannot (say Dr. Bode's opponents) have been made
by Leonardo da Vinci, who died in the early part of the sixteenth
century. "Nonsense!" reply Dr. Bode's supporters, "Shakespeare makes
Hotspur speak of 'parmaceti,' and it was well known to the doctors of
Salerno in 1100 A.D., and probably used by the ancients."

Nevertheless, the opponents of Dr. Bode are right. I am sorry, because
Dr. Bode is, in regard to "works of art," a most able expert, and I
think it is better that experts should always be right. Spermaceti was
known, probably from classical times onwards, as a rare and precious
unguent, "resolutive and mollifying," as M. Pomel, "chief druggist to
the late French King Louis XIV," says in his treatise on drugs,
translated into English in 1737. It was applied as a liniment for
hardness of the skin and breasts, and was also taken internally.
Shakespeare's reference to it is "parmaceti for an inward bruise." The
fact is it was known and used in small quantity before 1700 A.D. in
connection with medicine and the toilet, but was not consumed by the
thousand tons a year, as it was after the hunting of the sperm whale
or cachalot (_Physeter mecrocephalus_) had been set a-going by the
brave fishermen of Nantucket and the Northern Atlantic coast of
America in 1690. In 1730 or thereabouts the English and the Dutch also
sent out ships to take part in this perilous industry, which is now
again, in its dwindled condition, exclusively American. It is the
pursuit of by far the biggest and fiercest animal which man has doomed
to extinction. Those who enjoy such stories of adventure should read
Mr. Bullen's personal narrative, "The Cruise of the Cachalot." It was
at the end of the eighteenth century that spermaceti became so
abundant in the market that candles of it were manufactured and sold
cheaper than those of wax. From about 1860 it was superseded by
paraffin and other wax-like products: and it was at its cheapest
period, and when it was most widely in use, that Lucas, the English
artist, who made many wax busts and statuettes, is known to have mixed
it, in the form of "old candles," with beeswax, in order to form the
composition which he used in his works. The evidence given by the
chemist, Dr. Pinkus, appears to me to be conclusive (even without the
evidence of the old clothes stuffed into the hollow of the bust)
against the theory that the Bode wax-bust of Flora is more ancient
than the nineteenth century, and much in favour of its being the work
of Lucas, who is exceptionally known as a wax-modeller of repute sixty
years ago, who did use spermaceti.

Spermaceti is a perfectly definite chemical body, which can be
recognised without chance of error. It is a combination of palmitic
acid and a peculiar hydrocarbon, called (after the whale) "cetyl," and
easily forms pure crystals. Before sperm whales were hunted it was
obtained in relatively small quantity from individual sperm whales,
which by misadventure landed themselves on the coast of France, Spain,
or Great Britain, and was eagerly purchased by the apothecaries and
perfumers of the great cities of Europe. There are several records of
such strange mistakes on the part of the great sperm whale. Only ten
or fifteen years ago one was stranded on the Lincolnshire coast,
whilst the specimen exhibited in the Natural History Museum was washed
ashore at Thurso in Caithness. The spermaceti is found dissolved in
the more ordinary oil (or fat), which occupies a huge region above the
bones of the upper jaw and gives the sperm whale its barrel-shaped
head. It separates on cooling, from the liquid oil, in crystalline
flakes, forming great masses, which are purified by re-melting and
cooling. In early times the fine waxy, flaky material thus obtained
was known in samples of a few ounces, and sold by apothecaries. It was
known that it came from a whale, and was believed to be the seed or
sperm of that animal, hence its name "spermaceti." M. Pomel, whom I
cited above, believed it to come from the brain of the whale called
"cachalot." No one would have dreamt in the sixteenth century of
mixing this precious stuff with beeswax for modelling purposes. At
that date one would as soon have mixed amber with pitch. That reminds
me that "grey amber" or "ambergris" is also a product of the sperm
whale not to be confounded with spermaceti. It is an unhealthy
intestinal concretion like bezoar-stone (see p. 64), only
exceptionally produced. It is found floating in the ocean, and is
recognised as coming from the cachalot owing to its being largely made
up of the horny beaks of cuttle-fish, upon which the cachalot feeds.
It is still used in perfumery, and fetches the extraordinary price of
four guineas the ounce. A piece weighing 4-1/2 oz. may be seen in
Cromwell Road.

Though the oils (or fats) of plants and animals are very similar to
one another in appearance, there are a very large number of them
differing chemically from one another. Thus the fat or oil of dozens
of different nuts and plant-products and of lower animals and fishes,
and of sheep, oxen, pigs, dogs, elephants, and men contain different
and special chemical substances, corresponding to the "cetyl" which is
present in the fat of the sperm whale's head. Many of them have
acquired as a result of experience and tradition special value for
some special purpose. Several oils have peculiar fitness and great
value for oiling delicate machinery; others are used in curing
leather, for burning, and for medicinal ointments, whilst a large
variety is used as human food.



CHAPTER XIX

MUSEUMS


The word "museum" is not one of those which explain themselves and
give an indication of what the thing to which they are applied should
be, when it has ceased to be what it was intended to be. In ancient
Greece the word "mouseion" meant "the place of the Muses"--a grove or
a temple--and there was such a place on a part of the Acropolis of
Athens, the rocky temple-crowned hill around which the city was built.
There were other "museums," or seats of the Muses, in ancient Greece;
those on the slopes of Mount Helicon and of Mount Olympus were the
most famous. In modern times a picture gallery and art collection,
that of the Louvre, in Paris, is called "the Musée," whilst "the
Muséum" (the Latin form of the same word) is the name distinctively
applied in Paris to the collections of natural history and the
laboratories connected with them in the Jardin des Plantes. In London
"the British Museum," founded in 1753, originally comprised the
national library as well as collections of antiquities and of natural
history. In Heidelberg "the Museum" was the name, when I was there,
for a delightful club, with a garden. It belonged to the professors,
their families, and their friends in the town, and concerts and dances
were given in it. It seems that the Heidelberg "Museum" comes nearest
to the original meaning of the word as "a seat of Muses," for nearly
all those mythical ladies were remarkable for their special patronage
of music, dancing, and song.

Who were these goddesses, the Muses, and what were their names? What
was the speciality of each, and how do they come to have to do with
collections of works of art and specimens of natural history? Two
learned "classical" friends whom I lately met in Paris could not help
me further than by giving me the names of the first three. I was a
little shocked, but the next evening discovered that these goddesses
are, in modern times, very generally neglected and ignored. In an
extremely amusing play, called "Le Bois Sacré"--the Sacred Grove (of
the Muses)--a name applied jocosely to the Ministry of Fine Arts--I
found that the minister of that department was represented as a
pompous and fatuous person who completely fails to call to mind, in
the course of an eloquent speech, the name of more than one. On
ringing for his secretaries and airily asking them to refresh his
memory, he did not succeed in extracting from them more than two
doubtful additions to his list!

I am able, nevertheless (after due investigation), to put my reader in
possession of the facts so unfamiliar to the modern oracles of
classical mythology! Briefly, it appears that in the best period of
ancient Greece nine Muses were recognised, namely, Calliope, the Muse
of epic poetry; Euterpé, of lyric poetry; Erato, of erotic poetry;
Melpomené, of tragedy; Thalia, of comedy; Polyhymnia, of sacred hymns;
Terpsichoré, of choral song and dance; Clio, of history; and Urania,
of astronomy. The last two seem to have very little in common with the
addiction to singing and dancing characteristic of the rest, and are
the only ones who can be imagined as feeling themselves at home in a
modern museum, excepting on those evenings when the authorities use
the museum (as is the custom in London) for a "conversazione,"
enlivened by brass bands and songs.

Apollo was said to be the leader and master of the Muses, but was not
related to them. They were in origin the "nymphs" or "genii" of
mountain streams worshipped by an ancient bardic race (resembling our
own sweet-singing Welsh folk), the Thracians. At first the number of
the Muses was indefinite, and they had no names. Then three were
named--one of Meditation (Meleté), one of Memory (Mnemé), and one of
Song (Aöidé)--a much prettier embodiment of the impression made on a
poetical mind by rock-pools and cascades and leafy gorges than the
formal and redundant nine of later times. One can associate the
primitive three with a museum of natural history; but the later
official goddesses, each insisting on her own department of poetry,
are too clearly representative of the all-appropriating pretensions of
literature in modern seats of learning. They remind me of the
enumeration of studies which a dear old head of an Oxford college
innocently regarded as complete and reasonable when he assured me that
all branches of knowledge were fairly and equally represented on the
college staff. "We have," he said, "a lecturer on Greek literature,
one on Latin literature, one on Greek history, one on Roman history,
one on classical philology, one on modern history, one on mathematics
and one on the natural sciences." What more, he asked, could you wish
for?

It appears that, without any special reference to the attributes of
the Muses, the word "museum" has been adopted in recent times for a
building in which collections of works of art and specimens of natural
history are housed, and even for the collections themselves--in
consequence of the foundation by the Ptolemaic Kings of Egypt of a
splendid institution at Alexandria to which the name museum (mouseion)
was given. It included the great library, apparatus for the study of
astronomy, anatomy, and other sciences, and collections of all kinds.
The most learned men were employed in its management and were lodged
there and provided with the means of study and teaching. It was a
combination of university, learned academy, and temple, and was the
pride of the ancient world. It survived many changes of lordship, but
at last the library and collections were deliberately destroyed by
Moslem invaders in 640 A.D. The precious manuscripts were served out
as fuel for the public baths, and were so numerous that it took some
months to consume them! The destruction of the museum of Alexandria
marks the commencement of the "Dark Ages"; the ancient culture was
dead. Eight centuries of submergence with strange mysterious
upfloatings were its fate until the Renascence, when its fragments
were recovered, and soon did more harm than good to the
fetish-worshipping peoples of Europe.

       *       *       *       *       *

The first use of the word "museum" in this country for a place in
which collections of ancient works of art and specimens of natural
history were stored and arranged for exhibition was in the early
eighteenth century, when it was applied to the building at Oxford,
erected for Mr. Ashmole's collections, presented to the University.
This was called "Ashmole's Museum," or the Ashmolean Museum.
Previously such a collection and its location were spoken of as "a
cabinet of rare and curious objects." "Museum" was occasionally used
for what we now call a "study," and even to describe lecture-rooms and
library. I have not been able to discover that the word was used in
its modern sense at an earlier date on the Continent than in England.
The first great typical example of a "museum" was the British Museum,
founded in 1753. Montagu House, in Bloomsbury, was purchased by the
State to serve as a "repository" (the word used in the Act of
Parliament of that date) for the vast collections of natural history
made by Sir Hans Sloane, with which were associated certain valuable
libraries and collections of manuscripts, of coins, and antique
marbles. A large part of the money required for the undertaking was
raised by a public lottery, over which the Archbishop of Canterbury,
the Lord Chancellor, and the Speaker presided (according to the custom
of those days in regard to State lotteries), and it is thus that this
remarkable group of great officials became, and have remained ever
since, "the Three Principal Trustees of the British Museum."
Additional trustees were named (since increased to a total of nearly
fifty), and provision was made for the appointment of a principal
librarian and other curators of the collections. The Act declared that
the collections placed in the "repository" (Montagu House) were to
remain there for the benefit and enjoyment of posterity for ever--a
provision which until seven years ago was misinterpreted, so as to
prevent the sending out of unnamed and unstudied collections of small
portable objects like insects, dried plants, and shells, to be named
and compared with other specimens, by foreign naturalists.
Consequently, there was a great accumulation of specimens unstudied
and useless, and a great loss to knowledge. But the late Lord
Chancellor (Halsbury) decided that it was not only legally within the
power of the trustees temporarily to remove specimens from "the
repository" for the purpose of having them named and studied, but
actually their duty to do so.

We now very generally recognise in Great Britain, as in other parts of
the civilised world, the value and importance of public "museums" in
the sense of "repositories of collections of objects of ancient and
modern art and of natural history." Museums, as at present existing,
may be divided into four kinds, according to the nature of the public
or private bodies by which they have been set up and carried on. There
are, first of all, national museums maintained and continually
increased by the expenditure of a great State, and placed in the
capital city; secondly, provincial or local museums, supported by a
municipality or by local munificence; thirdly, academic museums, which
are those related to the instruction and investigations carried on in
a university or a school, and forming part of its regular provision
for study; and, fourthly, the museums of private individuals (which as
a rule, become eventually transferred by gift or purchase to some
existing public museum).

The word "museum" would, and often does, fitly include picture
galleries, but very usually in Great Britain a museum is not
considered as comprising a picture gallery, and a picture gallery is
treated and managed as something distinct from "a museum." The
distinction is recognised in London, where we have as separate
institutions the British Museum and the National Gallery. Probably the
distinct method of exhibiting and caring for pictures, and the very
large amount of special knowledge connected with the reasonable
employment of public funds in the purchase of these very high-priced
objects, as well as the example of private collectors of pictures, are
the causes which have led in the past to the complete separation of
"picture galleries" from "museums." It is, however, a curious fact
that the British Museum (which once possessed some oil paintings, now
removed to other public galleries) retains and expends money on its
splendid collections of water-colour pictures, drawings, and
engravings, whilst in the latter half of the last century (in
opposition to the custom of separating pictures from other museum
objects) there grew up in London, under the State Department of
Education, a vast collection of all kinds of works of art (pottery,
furniture, lace, metal-work, etc.) of all countries and ages,
including pictures, which is now sumptuously housed in the Victoria
and Albert Museum.

Though I propose to write here with special reference to "museums," in
the more limited sense as repositories of objects which are the bases
of our knowledge of the history of man and his arts, and as the
storehouses of specimens which in the same way are the material by the
study of which we arrive at a knowledge of the history of the earth,
and of the living things which have existed, and of others which still
exist on its surface--yet it is obvious that the general purposes of
all collections of interesting objects (including even pictures) and
their arrangement for public use and benefit must be the same,
although there are special purposes in view in regard to some
collections which do not exist in regard to others. Not long since Mr.
Claude Phillips ably set forth some of the principles which should
guide the arrangement and exhibition of objects in an art museum, and
criticised the plan at present adopted in the Victoria and Albert
Museum. As I hold views in regard to the arrangement of natural
history museums which are very similar to his, I think it may be
useful to explain here what they are.

I may point out that nearly every branch of knowledge should have--in
a civilised well-provided community--its collection of material
objects, either specimens, models, or ancient examples and remains,
which should be "records" to be religiously preserved for future
reference and comparison by expert students, whilst others should be
there to serve as demonstrations of "great" facts of nature or of
human art--direct and straightforward appeals--to the ordinary
intelligent (but not specially learned) man. You might well have (what
does not at present exist!) a museum (in the modern sense) of
astronomy, containing models of the solar system showing the relative
distances and sizes of the heavenly bodies--as well as modern and
ancient astronomical instruments, and the records obtained by their
use. Again, you might have (and to some extent such museums exist), at
the other end of the scale in dignity and age, a museum illustrating
the history and present developments of the smelting of iron and other
metals, their purification, their alloying, and properties--as also a
museum of paper-making and one of the steam engine and its modern
rivals. In such cases the purpose of the museum would be plain enough
and comparatively easy to carry out.

Most museums which have come into existence within the last 200 years
suffer from the fact that they are mere enlargements of the ancient
collector's "cabinet of rare and curious things," brought together and
arranged without rhyme or reason. No one has ever attempted to say
what is precisely the aim and intention as a public enterprise of any
of our great museums, and accordingly there has been no consideration,
discussion, or agreement as to the methods of collection, selection,
arrangement, exhibition, and storage of the objects assembled within
their walls. Thousands, even millions of pounds, have been expended on
the building of museums, on the purchase of specimens, on cases and
cataloguing, and on the salaries of directors, and keepers, and
assistants, yet the museums remain, so far as any declaration of
purpose and principle is concerned, mere "repositories," as in the
words of the old Act of Parliament constituting the British
Museum--for the use and enjoyment of the public, it is true, but
without any expression of a conception of how that use and enjoyment
is to be limited so as to make them something better than a dime-show,
or how any serious purpose is to be achieved by their costly housing
and up-keep. No doubt various directors and keepers have from time to
time shown intelligence and laboured to make museums not only places
of enjoyment and "edification," but also the means of increasing
knowledge and rendering service to the State. But the scope of our
public museums, and the principles and methods by which it may be
realised, have never been agreed upon, and consequently are not
definitely recognised by the State nor by the curiously ill-chosen
committees of managers, or trustees, to whose tender mercies the
ultimate control of these institutions is confided--apparently by
haphazard or misapprehension.

The notion of a town corporation, or of the central government at this
or that date, has been that museums are best controlled and public
money expended in connection with them by persons who know nothing
about the real importance of the collections, and receive no guidance
from any scheme or statutable declaration of specific purpose drawn up
by a competent authority. I will endeavour to state what those
purposes should be.

When one tries to estimate what is really the value to the community
of public "museums," one is led inevitably to the conclusion that
their most important purpose--whether they are museums of natural
history, of antiquities, or of art--is to serve as safe and permanent
"repositories" (the old word used in the British Museum Act of 1753)
for specimens which are costly and difficult to obtain--not to be
either "picked up" or readily "housed" by everybody, and at the same
time of real importance as "records." The first and most commanding
duty of those who set up and maintain a public museum is to preserve
actual things as records--records of the existence in this or that
locality of each kind of plant and animal, records of the former
existence of extinct plants and animals, with irrefragable certainty
as to the locality and the exact strata in which they were
found--records of prehistoric man, his weapons and art, and of the
animals found with them, records of modern times. Everyone is familiar
with this duty of the State and of local public bodies, when it is a
matter of preserving written and printed records. They are preserved
in various public offices and libraries, and are continually being
studied by experts (volunteers or official) and copied in print, so as
to furnish us with accurate knowledge of the past.

It is the first and leading business of museums to collect and
preserve, with great accuracy as to the locality and circumstances in
which each was found, the actual concrete things which are the records
of nature, and of the various stages of man's art and industries in
every region of the world, just as a library or the Record Office
preserves manuscripts and printed documents and books. Collections of
such specimens are often made by private individuals, and become too
cumbersome for him or his heirs to keep in order. They are then
frequently given to a public museum, and I regret to say in many
provincial museums are neglected and become mere rubbish, even if they
were not so when first given. Often such gifts are rubbish before they
are received, and should never have been accepted. But in a great many
instances the local museum of a country town is nothing but a
rubbish-heap, because the townspeople will not spend the money
necessary to obtain the services of a capable curator and to provide
cases, labels, catalogues, and attendance. The town councillors
usually know nothing about the museum or the value of the objects
gathered there, and do not recognise the duty of making it an orderly
and carefully tended storehouse of the records of Nature and antiquity
of the neighbourhood. Too frequently the town museum is made the means
of gratifying the vanity of some local collector, who hands over all
sorts of ill-chosen, badly preserved specimens to its ignorant
guardians, and is advertised by labels on the cases and by votes of
thanks, whilst valuable records placed there in a previous generation
are swept into a corner or broken and cast into the cellar in order to
make space for the new rubbish!

Unless funds are found to place a specially educated man at the head
of a local museum, the museum had better be shut, and such of its
contents, as may be desired, offered to one of the big city museums or
to the National Museum in London. It is no child's play, maintaining
and guarding efficiently a museum which contains "records." It would
be a good thing were a committee of naturalists and antiquaries to
visit the local museums of the United Kingdom and report on the
efficiency of their guardianship and the state of the treasures which
they contain. I know two provincial museums very well in which
extremely valuable records of prehistoric man and of wonderful extinct
animals--found in the neighbourhood and preserved by those who
established the museums fifty years ago--are utterly neglected and
destroyed by loss of the labels and mixing up of the specimens, in
consequence of the death of the persons originally interested in the
museum and of the refusal of the town councils to find money to pay
for the care of the collections. There can be little doubt that in the
present state of local interest in such matters all really important
record specimens should find their way to the British Museum in
London, where, if accepted, their preservation, so far as it is
humanly possible, is assured. That is the distinctive and most
creditable feature of our great State-supported museum. At the same
time it seems obvious that the records of a provincial area can be,
and should be, kept in the county town museum, with a detail and
completeness impossible elsewhere, and that it should be the pride of
the county to be able to show to a stranger full records of the
distinctive features of its natural history and antiquities.

It is clear that whatever failures in this respect may be inevitable
in those hopelessly starved and mismanaged "museums" at present
surviving to bear witness to the decay of public spirit and
intelligent culture in our country towns, the prime duty of the great
London museum is to preserve "records" with the greatest nicety and
readiness for reference, whilst the duty of actively adding to these
records from all parts of the Empire, and, therefore, of the world,
and that of minutely studying and reporting upon the collections so
obtained and guarded, follow as a matter of course. These collections
are the absolutely necessary foundation for the building-up of our
knowledge of Nature and of man. We can never say that this branch of
scientific knowledge is valuable and that another is a mere fanciful
pursuit. Every year it becomes more and more clear that unexpectedly
some apparently insignificant piece of detailed scientific knowledge
may become of value to the State and to humanity at large. Everyone
knows that geology has a great practical value in mining, water
supply, and various kinds of engineering, also that botany, as
represented by the great State institution at Kew, is of immense
value to those who introduce useful plants from one part of the
world for cultivation in another. But of late we have seen that
entomology--"bug-hunting" as it is scornfully termed--is a science
upon which hang not only the revenue of an Empire, but also the lives
of millions of men. Destructive insects must be known with the utmost
accuracy in order to stop their injury to crops in the distant lands
which they inhabit, and also in order to check the diseases carried by
them which sweep off vast herds of costly cattle. The mosquitoes and
the tsetze flies have been, only recently, proved to be the causes,
the carriers, of diseases--malaria, yellow fever, and sleeping
sickness--which annually have killed hundreds of thousands of men,
colonists as well as natives. I was able to bring together at the
Natural History Museum collections of mosquitoes from every part of
the world, amounting to thousands of specimens and to some hundreds of
kinds. The study of these and of the tsetze flies by skilled
entomologists employed in the museum has been a necessary part of the
steps now being taken everywhere to preserve human population from
the attacks of certain deadly kinds among them, distinguished from
the others which are harmless.

Thus, then, it seems that the first and most important purpose for
which great "museums" exist is that of "the making of new
knowledge"--the increase of science--by furnishing carefully gathered
and preserved "specimens" of all kinds, and by working out the history
and significance of those collections. But there is a second and
distinct purpose which is often ignorantly put in the first place. It
is of less importance and quite unlike the first in the methods
necessary for its attainment, and yet is conveniently and
satisfactorily carried out in conjunction with the first. This second
and distinct purpose is the exhibition of such portions of the
collections in a museum as are suitable for exhibition (only a smaller
portion are so) in public galleries, so chosen, arranged, lighted and
labelled as to afford to the public at large the maximum of enjoyment
and edification. This is, as it were, a readily accessible enjoyment
given to the public in recognition of the large sums of public money
expended on the severer and less easily appreciated enterprise of the
museum. The public galleries of a museum, whether of natural history,
antiquities or art, should not contain the bulk of the collection, but
only special things, carefully selected, and equally carefully placed
in case or on wall, with artistic judgment as to space-bordering and
colour of background, and with scientific perfection of illumination,
so as to produce the "just" impression on the leisurely visitor. The
public "exhibit" should be arranged so as to draw attention to a
series of important facts of structure or quality clearly shown by the
specimens, whether they are natural products or works of art, and
these facts should be described in printed labels fully, and the
reason for attaching importance to them explained at sufficient
length. The man who arranges the public galleries (as distinct from
the closed study-rooms) of a public museum, should have a special gift
of exposition in plain language, and be able to separate (both in
regard to his words and to the specimens he selects) the essential
from the non-essential, the significant from the redundant.

It is important to make a complete distinction between an exhibition
intended for the general public and that intended for advanced
students in schools, colleges and universities. The confusion of these
two kinds of exhibition is the cause of the failure of many museums
and of the dislike with which most people regard a visit to them. The
public museum--metropolitan or local--should not include in its
purpose the "academic" instruction of schoolboys and university
students. That requires a different kind of museum, which is (or
should be) provided by the school or university, though, of course,
the students should also visit the more popular museums. The funds and
staff and space required for the one are not sufficient for both. If
both are attempted, the unpopular academic, or scholars', exhibition
will get the upper hand and suppress the other, since it is a far
easier thing to carry out successfully (for the class aimed at) than
is the carefully planned exhibition intended for the "edification" of
the greater public. The university museum aims at imparting a much
greater amount of detailed and elaborate information than does the
great public museum, and requires from the student who uses it a
special previous study of the subject, and an exceptional amount of
attention and pains in examining the objects exhibited.

Too many of the public museums of Europe aim at the "instruction" of
the special student rather than at the "edification" of the general
public, whilst most aim at nothing at all except showing, without
explanation or comment, a vast mass of specimens or pictures, at the
sight of which the patient but bored public gapes with wonder. The
public galleries of the Natural History Museum in London have been
arranged more distinctly with a view to the edification of the public
than those of any other museum which I know. But they still contain
too large a number of specimens, and still require an immense amount
of work in weeding, selection and labelling, and in deliberately
making the specimens exhibited tell a tale which is worth remembering,
and can be remembered. Except in the case of the larger specimens, and
especially those of fossilized skeletons and shells of extinct
animals, it must be remembered that the bulk of the specimens (and,
indeed, all the valuable skins of animals and birds, and the vast
series of insects and such small things) in that, as in every other
large museum, are contained in cabinets protected from the destructive
action of light, and arranged for the most part in rooms to which
access is obtained only by serious workers after special application.
The fishes and other animals preserved in alcohol are kept in a
special fire-proof "spirit-building."

A provincial public museum, even if it does not aim at the
guardianship of important local "records" of natural history and
antiquity, should aim at the edification of the public--the grown-up
public--and not at the instruction of school children. The notion that
museums are meant for children, which exists, I am sorry to say, even
in regard to so splendid and expensive a display of wonderful things
as that to be seen at the Natural History Museum, is due to the bad
tradition justified by the condition of other museums, where a child
may enjoy being astonished, but a grown-up person can take in nothing
which appeals to the intelligence. A new city museum is, it is
reported, to be established at Birmingham. We may hope that it will
not contain the usual unsatisfactory series of badly stuffed exotic
animals, birds, and reptiles, and trophies of South Sea islanders'
clubs and spears. It should contain first-rate specimens of the living
and extinct fauna of Warwickshire, and specimens of foreign animals
carefully selected to compare with them and throw light on them; also
local prehistoric and antiquarian specimens, illustrated by comparison
with the work of savage and remote races. The excellent suggestion has
been made that it should contain specimens of the insect-pests of
Warwickshire crops. It should also exhibit the minerals from which
manufactories of Birmingham draw their metals, and should show the
stages of their preparation. It should appeal, not to the boys and
girls of Birmingham in the first place, but to the adults, and to do
this it should be placed under the care of a really first-rate and
ingenious man, who might possibly do for the Birmingham Museum what
skilful arrangement and sound knowledge have done for its Art
Gallery--an institution intended to appeal not to school children, but
to the reasonable adult population of the city.

The principle of exhibiting permanently in public galleries a portion
of our great national collections and of preserving another and larger
portion in smaller rooms, where they can be more closely but not less
carefully disposed and brought out into perfect light and position
when required, should be applied to collections of pottery,
metal-work, carving, embroidery and such objects, and also to pictures
as well as to collections relating to natural history. The chief
reason for this is the enormous space required in order to place
permanently "on exhibition" all the objects contained in our national
art collections, which are continually growing. The vast size of the
galleries required, if the entire collections are to be exhibited so
that the public may walk in and see anything and everything in it,
permanently displayed on walls or in cases--entails gigantic and
ever-increasing expenditure of public funds.

But this is not the only objection to these great galleries. The
multitude of objects--it may be of pictures--exhibited creates a state
of mind in the visitor which prevents his enjoyment of the works of
art so exhibited. He is overwhelmed by the vastness of the series
offered for his examination and confused and distressed by the close
setting of things which require isolation and appropriate surroundings
each in its own special way, if they are to be duly appreciated. Not
only this, but pictures, as well as other works of art, are, in
consequence of the necessity of placing them all in the great public
galleries used for the purpose, rarely placed in the most favourable
conditions of lighting, and are very often so ill-lighted as to lose
all their beauty even if they are not nearly invisible. More public
money would be available for the proper care and study of works of art
were less spent on the land, building and up-keep necessary for huge
galleries.

The desirability of separating a large unexhibited portion from the
well-chosen and well-shown exhibited portion of works of art,
exclusive of pictures, is, I believe, generally admitted. In the case
of pictures the opinion has been expressed that there would be great
difficulty in managing a reserved unexhibited portion of our national
collections so that the pictures could be properly cared for and yet
readily brought into view when required. One can well believe that a
similar difficulty was anticipated when it was first proposed to keep
books on shelves instead of on tables. Those who take this objection
have overlooked the resources of modern engineering. Reserved pictures
could be affixed in perfect security in appropriate groups on large
screens, and these disposed, like the scenery above a stage, upright
and in series, each screen 4 ft. distant from its neighbours. There
could be three or four floors of such closely packed screens arranged
in two rows, twenty in a row. On a lower floor there would be provided
a room with the most perfect light possible for seeing, enjoying and
studying a single one of these screens. They would all be numbered and
the pictures on each catalogued. A person duly authorised and approved
desires to see such and such a picture. He is given a seat in the
special exhibition room. The attendant or assistant in charge touches
the appropriate button, and by simple electric-lift machinery the
screen upstairs carrying the desired picture travels automatically
into position and then gently descends into the special exhibition
room. There the other pictures on the screen may be, if it be so
desired, covered by drapery, the light may be varied in intensity or
direction, and, in fact, the most perfect examination of the picture
in question may be made. When another button is touched, the
picture-screen returns automatically to its place upstairs.

It seems to me that in the case of the growing collection of pictures
known as "The National Portrait Gallery," this treatment would not
only avoid the necessity of constantly providing new galleries for new
acquisitions--but would enable the Trustees to separate those
portraits, which are of more general interest and suitable for
permanent exhibition in a good position, from less important
portraits, which nevertheless must be acquired and preserved as public
records. From time to time special groups of the reserved or
unexhibited portraits might be put for six months in one of the public
rooms--thus providing a change and variety of interest for the general
public.

The same plan might be adopted with regard to the pictures in the
National Gallery--though no doubt a large number of splendid pictures
would be permanently placed in the exhibition rooms. Three things
should be remembered in regard to the disposal of these pictures:
Firstly, that not one in a hundred among them was intended by the
painter to be hung in a gallery closely side by side with other
pictures; secondly, that no picture should be exhibited in a public
gallery unless it is worthy of the best lighting and surroundings;
thirdly, that it is reasonable that the expert and the student should
be asked to take some special trouble in order to see special pictures
not on public exhibition, and that "the man in the street" who says
that he likes to walk in and see all his pictures at any time and
without any trouble, will value his collection more when he can only
see some of it on special occasions.

The heavy and sometimes fragile character of the "frames" affixed to
large pictures has been made an objection to the proposal that they
should be fixed to screens moved by electric gear. I cannot venture to
discuss the subject of picture frames here. I am aware that it is a
very serious and important subject, and that a great deal of the
effect of a picture depends on its being bordered by a frame of
sufficient size and dignity and one which is really and artistically
fitted to allow the finer qualities of the picture to become apparent.
How often is such a frame seen? Who is there who has an adequate
understanding of picture-frames as adjuncts to, or necessary
accompaniments of, great pictures? The splendid carved and gilded
wooden frames of some great pictures have a value of their own as
examples of design. But how many of them are really suited to the
picture which they surround? How much attention has been given by art
experts to the question of the best possible "exhibitional"
surroundings--nearer and more distant--for this, that and the other,
among the great pictures of Europe?



CHAPTER XX

THE SECRET OF A TERRIBLE DISEASE


This generation, which is so thankless to the great discoverers of the
causes of disease, so forgetful of the epoch-making labours of the
English sanitary reformers of last century, has not seen nor even
heard of the awful thing once known as "gaol-fever." A hundred years
ago it was as dangerous to the life of an unhappy prisoner to await
his trial in Newgate as to stand between the opposing forces on a
battlefield. Gaol-fever attacked not only the prisoners, but the judge
and the jury and the strangers in the court. The aromatic herbs with
which the hall of justice was strewn were supposed to arrest the
spread of the terrible infection, and it is still customary to provide
with a bouquet of such plants the judge who presides at a "gaol
delivery." The inexorable ministers of justice, who, seated high above
the common herd, and clad in their ancient robes of office, were about
to deal shameful death to the guilty wretches brought from the prison
cells, were often themselves struck down by the Angel of Death moving
invisibly through the court. The "black assizes" were not isolated,
but repeated occurrences in our great cities. Typhus fever was the
name given by the learned to this awful pestilence. There was a
mystery and horror surrounding it which paralysed those who came into
contact with it, and produced something like consternation. Men fled
in terror from the infected buildings, business was arrested, the
universities deserted, palaces left empty, and the dying abandoned to
their misery when it appeared. There was a feeling that some deadly
unseen power was present, irresistible and malignant.

It is only to-day--in fact, within the last two years--that we have
learnt what that unseen power was. The Angel of Death which moved
through the Old Bailey Sessions House in bygone days was, indeed, a
living thing. It passed silently and unseen from the prisoner to the
warder, from him to the usher, thence to the bar--the jury and the
exalted judge. It had no wings, yet it moved slowly and surely
carrying black death with it. This terrible and mysterious assassin
has at last been unveiled. The shroud of concealment has been torn
away and there the dire monster stands--naked, remorseless and
hideous. It is of small size, though it makes us all shrink with
horror and disgust. It has six claw-like legs and no wings. It is, in
fact, neither more nor less than the clothes louse, the _Pediculus
vestimenti_. The filthy, crowded condition in which the prisoners were
kept, and (let us well remember and reflect thereon) the personal want
of cleanliness of judge, jury, barristers and ushers, rendered the
existence of the little parasite and its effective transference from
man to man possible. Those pompous emblems of authority, the horsehair
wigs--those musty robes of unctuous dignity--were full of dirt, and
harboured the wandering bearer of typhus infection. Gaol-fever was due
to dirt; its infecting germs were distributed by loathsome insects.

It is an interesting and really instructive thing to pass in review
the gradual process by which the cleanliness of the population of
Western Europe has advanced, and to observe that, consciously or
unconsciously, the end pursued has been, step by step, the removal
from man's body outside (and inside), from his clothing, from the
water he drinks, from the food he eats, from the air he breathes, and
from the surfaces with which he necessarily comes into contact,
of injurious parasites and hurtful living things which lurk
in dirt and rubbish. At first the larger and more obvious hurtful
creatures--snakes, rats, mice, scorpions, blow-flies--were eliminated
by some elementary attempts at removal of rubbish and kitchen
middens. Then ticks (which African savages still do not trouble to
remove from their bodies) and later fleas and bugs became unpopular;
lice were long regarded as inevitable, and even beneficial, and by
some populations and by part of the most civilised at the present day,
are still, not merely tolerated, but favoured. In a country school in
France a child who was found to be afflicted in this way was the
daughter of the local medical practitioner. She remarked, "Oh! Ce
n'est rien; papa dit que c'est la santé des enfants"! Parasitic worms
of various kinds, though they often cause disease and death, are
accepted and tolerated even by the most refined and luxurious, who
risk infection rather than submit to the precaution of abstention from
raw vegetables and fruits, or to the expenditure of trouble in
cleansing those nests of infective germs. It is only within the last
thirty or forty years that such cleanliness of body and of clothing
and of house-fittings as will banish parasitic insects has become at
all general. The common house-fly is still tolerated, although it is a
notorious carrier of dirt and disease, and is bred by dirt and dirt
only, its eggs being hatched in old stable manure. The diminution of
late years of house-flies in London houses is simply and solely due to
legislation compelling the removal of horse manure from the "mews" so
frequent at the back of London streets. Egyptian natives still allow
flies to gather on their eyelids without protest.

Of the bacteria and similar microscopic germs of disease--to which all
our infective fevers are due--we have only become aware quite
recently, within the half-century. Before they were known, cleanliness
and the destruction of putrescible matter in man's surroundings had,
it is true, been urged by sanitary reformers. Disinfectants and
antiseptics were deliberately made use of for this purpose in the
mid-Victorian period, when carbolic acid and chlorinated lime were
established in the place of those feebler destroyers of the germs of
putrefaction and disease--namely, the extracts of aromatic herbs or
the essential oils themselves. These, as perfumes and unguents, really
served, not merely to gratify the olfactory sense, but to destroy by
their chemical action the germs of disease. Men tolerated gnats and
their bites (mosquitoes as we prefer to call them in order to delude
ourselves into the belief that they are not British) until it was
discovered that they, and they only, carry the parasitic germs of two
deadly diseases--malaria, or ague, and yellow fever. Now we shall
destroy the pools in which they breed, just as we are destroying the
manure heaps in which the house-fly breeds. When we look over the list
it is really astonishing how much remains to be done, even in England,
in establishing increased cleanliness and freeing ourselves from the
murderous tyranny of parasites. It is a simple but horrible fact that
the poorest class in our big cities still swarms with vermin. And not
only are the poor in great cities thus afflicted. The recent
compulsory medical inspection of school children has shown that in
some of the smiling rural districts of England 80 per cent. of the
children have lice in their heads. Everyone should help to gain
further cleanliness and freedom from this form of oppression.

In the middle of the nineteenth century, England alone, and with
absolute conviction and determination, demonstrated to the civilised
world the beneficial results in diminishing the death-rate of large
towns, to be obtained by cleanliness, the destruction or removal from
man's body and surroundings of organic "dirt," viz. his excreta, the
exudations and exuviations of his body, the waste and fragments of his
food. The names of Rawlinson, Chadwick and Simon remain as those of
the prime movers in that legislation which has given us improved water
supply, sewerage, removal of dust heaps, clearance of cesspits,
cleansing of houses, and prevention of over-crowding. Yet there are
writers who, in ignorance and infected with the modern madness which
makes half-educated Englishmen presume to teach where they have yet to
learn, and to pose as prophets by belittling and running down,
without regard to truth, their own country and its finest efforts in
the cause of civilisation, actually declare that Germany has led the
way in this matter. This is the very reverse of the truth. Foreign
countries are, in this matter, following long in the wake of England.
There are no cities in the world so healthy as British cities.
Practical measures of cleansing, faithful activity in destroying dirt
and preventing over-crowding, enforced by legislation, have reduced
the death-rate of our great centres of population in fifty years by
more than one third--that is to say, from something like 29 per 1,000
to something like 18 per 1,000. No other country can show such a
result.

Gaol-fever, spotted or putrid fever, or typhus fever has practically
ceased to be a regularly occurring disease in the West of Europe. The
last cases in London were, I well remember, in a poor district near
the Marylebone Road about thirty years ago. A very few cases have
appeared since, in the over-crowded and poorest districts of our
largest cities. Beleaguering armies and beleaguered cities suffered
from it as late as in the Crimean War, but we may now fairly say that
it has disappeared from our midst. It, however, still abounds in
Russia and her eastern provinces, and in Algeria, Tunis, and Morocco.
It is a disease of cold and temperate climates rather than of the
tropics.

In the last century typhus was distinguished definitely and clearly
from "typhoid" or "enteric" fever, and from "relapsing" or "famine"
fever, with which it had previously been confounded. The bacterial
germs causing enteric and relapsing fevers are now known, and have
been isolated and cultivated, and the mode in which they are conveyed
into the body of a previously healthy patient is ascertained. But
until the past year we knew neither the parasitic germ which causes
typhus fever nor the mode by which it passes from one individual to
another. A vague idea that it was spread through the air prevailed.
Typhus is remarkable for the frequency with which the nurses and
doctors attending a case become infected. About 20 per cent. of those
attacked by it die, but in persons above forty-five years of age the
mortality is much greater--about half succumb.

Dr. Nicole and his colleagues of the Institut Pasteur in Tunis have
recently had the opportunity of studying typhus there. They found that
the ordinary local monkey could not be made to take the disease. But a
drop of blood of a typhus patient injected into a chimpanzee (which is
far nearer akin to man) produced the disease after an incubation
period of three weeks. This fact was definitely established. From what
is now known as to relapsing fever, malaria, yellow fever, plague, and
sleeping-sickness, it seemed probable that some migratory insect must
be the carrier of the typhus infection from man to man. The typhus
patients brought into the hospital at Tunis were carefully washed
before admission, and no infection of other patients or nurses took
place in the wards, although the cases were not isolated, and bugs
were abundant. The only cases of infection which occurred were in
persons who had the duty of collecting and disinfecting the clothing
of the patients when admitted. This seems to exclude the bug as a
carrier. The flea is excluded by the fact that in the phosphate mines
of Tunis the flea is abundant, and bites both natives and Europeans.
Yet when typhus fever broke out among the miners--although all were
equally bitten by the fleas--no European was infected. The indication,
therefore, was that if any insect is the carrier, it is neither the
flea nor the bug, but probably the clothes-louse. Although the smaller
monkeys cannot be directly infected with typhus fever from man, it was
found that (as with some other infections) the bonnet monkey was
susceptible to the infection after it had passed through the
chimpanzee. Experiments were, therefore, made with clothes lice taken
from a healthy man, and kept for eight hours without food. They were
placed on a bonnet monkey which was in full typhus eruption. A day
afterwards they were removed to healthy bonnet monkeys with the
result that the healthy bonnet monkeys developed typhus fever. There
is thus no doubt whatever that typhus fever can be carried in this way
from bonnet monkey to bonnet monkey. The whole history of typhus fever
fits in with the carriage of the infection in the same way from man to
man, and not with the notion of an aërial dispersion of the infection.

The fact that typhus only exists in very dirty and crowded
populations, and that it has disappeared where even a moderate amount
of cleanliness as to person and clothing has become general, coincides
with the possibility of the body louse as carrier. This little
parasite is known to be a wanderer, and is gifted with a very acute
sense of smell. An individual placed in the centre of a glass table
invariably walked, guided by the scent, towards the observer, at
whatever position he placed himself. Sulphurous acid is a violent
repellant of these creatures. Not only will it kill them if they are
exposed to its fumes, but traces of it drive them away. Hence doctors
and nurses who have to handle typhus patients or their clothes have
only to wear a small muslin bag of sulphur under their garments, or to
rub themselves with a little sulphur ointment in order to be perfectly
guarded against infection; the louse will not approach them, nor
remain upon them should it accidentally effect a lodgment.

It is not always obvious at once in what way a knowledge of the mode
of carriage of a deadly disease can be of service to humanity. But in
this case it is strikingly and triumphantly clear. In the vast
poverty-stricken population of Russia typhus is still common. Public
medical officials attend these cases, and the Russian Government keeps
a record of the annual deaths of its medical staff, and of the causes
of their deaths. In the first six months of last year 530 Russian
medical officers died, and twenty-four of these deaths were caused by
typhus fever acquired by these devoted public servants in attendance
upon cases of that fever. Henceforth they will make use of sulphur or
sulphurous ointment to keep the little infection-carriers at a
distance, and not one medical man or nurse will catch the disease,
still less be killed by it.

A remarkable fact in this history is that the actual parasitic germ
which causes typhus, whether a bacterium (Schizophyte) or a protozoon,
has not been detected, although the louse has been shown to be its
"carrier." The same is true of yellow-fever: we have not seen with the
microscope the microbe which produces it. But we know with certainty
that the gnat, _Stegomya fasciata_, and no other, is the carrier of
the unseen germ, and that we can obliterate that fever by obliterating
the gnat. So, too, although we know how the infection of rabies acts,
and how it is carried, yet no one has yet isolated and recognised the
terrible infective particle itself. There is a very high probability
that in these cases, and also in cancer (where as yet no specific
infective germ or parasitic microbe has been detected), such an
infective microbe is nevertheless present, and has hitherto escaped
observation with the microscope on account of its excessive minuteness
and transparency.



CHAPTER XXI

CARRIERS OF DISEASE


It has now been discovered that a great number of human diseases are
caused by microscopic parasites, which are spoken of in a general way
by the name invented by the great Pasteur, viz. "microbes."
Wool-sorter's disease, Eastern relapsing fever, lock-jaw, glanders,
leprosy, phthisis, diphtheria, cholera, Oriental plague, typhoid
fever, Malta fever, septic poisoning and gangrene have been shown to
be caused each by a peculiar species of the excessively minute
parasitic vegetables known as bacteria (or Schizophyta). Others, for
example, malaria and sleeping sickness, have been shown to be caused
by almost equally minute microbes, which are of an animal nature, and
similar to the free-living animalcules which we call Protozoa, or
"simplest animals," whilst a third lot of diseases--rabies, smallpox,
yellow fever, scarlet fever, and typhus--are held to be caused by
similar minute parasites, although these have not yet actually been
seen and cultivated, but are surely inferred (from the nature and
spread of these diseases) to exist.

The difference of the microbes called bacteria from the
disease-causing microbes classed as "Protozoa" consists in their
simpler structure and mode of growth. They are essentially filaments
which continually multiply by fission--a process often carried so far
that the little organisms present themselves as short rods, or as
curved (comma-shaped), or even spherical particles (micrococci)--and
only in favourable conditions arrest their self-division so as to grow
for a time into the thread-like or filament shape. Often these
filaments are not straight, but spirally twisted, and are called
"spirilla." Some of them are blood parasites, but the larger number
attack the tissues, and others occur in the digestive canal.

The parasitic disease-producing protozoa, on the other hand, are of
softer substance, often have the habit of twisting themselves in a
corkscrew-like manner, and usually are provided with an undulating
membrane or frill, as well as with one or with two whip-like swimming
processes (the latter are present also and are often numerous in the
actively swimming phases of bacteria), and have a more complicated
life-history. They divide, as a rule, longitudinally and not
transversely, and pass from one "host" to a second, where they assume
distinct forms--males and females, which conjugate and break up (each
conjugated or fused pair) into a mass of very numerous, excessively
minute, young. The disease-producing protozoa of this kind are
frequently parasitic in the blood of man and animals, and were only
recently recognised, after the disease-producing bacteria of many
kinds had been thoroughly studied. These animal microbes are often
spoken of as "blood-flagellates" or hæmo-flagellata, and the larger
kinds are called "Trypanosomes," or "screw-form parasites," or whilst
a series of more minute ones are called "Piroplasma," or "pear-shaped
parasites." Many, but not all, are found during a certain period of
their life, actually inside the corpuscles of the blood. The fact that
many of these blood-flagellates (if not all) have, besides their life
in the blood of one species of animal, a second period of existence in
the juices or the gut of another animal, has made it very difficult to
trace their migrations, since in the second phase of their history
their appearance differs considerably from that which they presented
in the first. And often they exist in one kind of animal without doing
any harm, and are only poisonous when introduced by insects into the
blood of other kinds of animals!

There is, further, another set of disease-causing protozoan parasites
which are similar to the amoeba or proteus-animalcule, and a third,
which belong to the group of "ciliated infusoria." They are not so
minute as the preceding set, and are not usually referred to as
"microbes." They inhabit the intestine of man and animals, and cause,
in some instances, dysentery. These two later kinds of protozoan
parasites I will at the moment leave out of consideration, as well as
the "coccidia," which multiply in the tissue-cells of animals--for
instance, rabbits and mice--and cause an unhealthy growth and
excessive multiplication of the cells of the tissues, which in some
respects resembles that seen in the terrible disease known as cancer.
Indeed, it is held by many investigators that some such
parasite--though not yet discovered--is the cause of cancer.

A very important question is: How do these poison-producing parasites
(for it is by the poison which they manufacture that they upset the
healthy life of their hosts) make their way into the human body? The
surface of the body of animals, like man, is protected by a delicate,
horny covering--the epidermis--through which none of these parasites
can make their way. They can only get through it, and so into the
soft, juicy tissues and the fine blood-vessels which it covers, when
it is cracked, broken, pierced, or cut. But they also have a way to
open them through the softer moist surfaces of the inner passages,
such as the digestive canal and the lungs. They enter (some kinds only
and not a few) with food and drink into the digestive canal, and with
the air into the air-passages and the lungs; and once in these
chambers, which have only soft lining-surfaces, they are able to
penetrate into the substance of the body. Many of those which enter
the digestive canal do not require to penetrate further, but multiply
excessively in the contents of the bowel, and there produce poisons,
which are absorbed and produce deadly results--such are the bacteria
which produce Indian cholera and ordinary diarrhoea--whilst the kind
causing typhoid fever not only multiplies in the gut, but penetrates
its surface.

The protective surface of man's body is broken, and the way laid open
for the entrance of microbes in various ways. A slight scratch,
abrasion, or even "chapping" is enough. Thus, a mere breaking of the
skin of the knuckles by a fall on to dirty ground lets in the deadly
bacterium of lock-jaw (tetanus), which is lurking in the soil. Leprosy
is communicated from a leper in the same way. The almost ubiquitous
bacteria of blood-poisoning (septicæmia) may enter by the smallest
fissure of the skin, still more readily by large cuts or wounds. The
bites and stabs of small and large animals--wolves, dogs, flies,
gnats, fleas and bugs, also open the way, and often the deadly microbe
has associated itself with the biting animal and is carried by it,
ready to effect an entrance. Thus rabies (hydrophobia) is introduced
by the bites of wolves and dogs, and a whole series of diseases, such
as plague, malaria, sleeping-sickness, gaol-fever (typhus), yellow
fever, relapsing fever, and others, are introduced into the human body
by blood-sucking insects. Hence the immense importance of treating
every slightest wound and scratch with chemicals (called
"antiseptics"), which at once destroy the invading microbe--and of
keeping a wounded surface covered and protected from their approach.
In ways at one time unsuspected, such openings may be made by which
poisonous microbes enter the body. Thus the little hard-skinned
parasitic thread-worms which are often brought in by uncooked food
into man's intestine, though by themselves comparatively harmless,
scratch the soft lining of the bowel and enable poison-making microbes
to enter the deeper tissues, and cause dangerous abscesses and
appendicitis.

The carriers of disease germs thus become a very important subject of
study. There are carriers which make no selection, but are, so to
speak, "casual" in their proceedings, and there are others which have
the most special and elaborate relations to some one kind of
disease-causing microbe for which alone they are responsible, and to
the life of which they are necessary. Let us look first at the more
casual group. Man himself is a great carrier and distributor of his
own diseases. Unless and until he has learned to be careful and guard
against thoughtless proceedings, he is always spreading the microbes
of his diseases and passing them on to his fellow men. He pollutes the
waters, rivers, lakes, and pools from which others drink. He manures
his crops, and then eats some of them uncooked. His hands are polluted
by disease-causing microbes, and he handles (to an alarming and
unnecessary extent) the food, such as bread and fruit, which is
swallowed by his fellows, without cleansing it by heat. It has lately
been shown that apparently healthy men and women often harbour within
them the microbes of typhoid fever or of cholera (and probably other
diseases), without themselves suffering in health, and that
unsuspected they thus become distributing centres of these diseases.
The names "typhoid carrier" and "cholera carrier" have actually been
introduced to describe the condition of such persons. Then, again, by
his breath, and by coughing and spitting, a man acts as a carrier to
others of disease-microbes already lodged in him, as well as by actual
contact in the case of those infections which are called "contagious."
The numerous animals which surround and are associated with man act
very largely as casual carriers and distributors of disease microbes.
Thus dogs and even the cleanly cat are frequently carriers of disease.
But more especially those creatures which visit man's food stores and
food ready for consumption (such as bread, fruits, cold meat, etc.)
are active carriers. Rats and mice run over such stores and pollute
them. But the most widely active in this way is the common house-fly.

Whilst white men have developed an almost automatic resistance and
objection to the visits of flies to their lips, eyelids, and any wound
or scratch of the skin--a resistance which is not shown by many savage
races--they yet allow house-flies to swarm in their dwellings, to run
about and sample their food, with an indifference which is, when the
truth is known, truly horrible in its fatuity and foolhardiness. For
the fact is that the feet and proboscis of the common house-fly are
covered with microbes of all sorts, picked up by his explorations upon
every kind of filth. At every step which he takes he plants a few
dozen microbes, which include those of infantile diarrhoea, typhoid,
and other prevalent diseases. This is easily shown by allowing him to
walk over a smooth plate of sterilised nutritive gelatine and
preserving it afterwards free from the access of microbes from the
air. In twenty-four hours every footstep of the fly on the gelatine is
marked by an abundant and varied crop of microbes, which have
multiplied from the individuals let drop by the little pedestrian.
There is no doubt whatever that the house-fly is a main source of the
dissemination of the microbe of infantile diarrhoea, and the cause
annually of hundreds of thousands of deaths of children in the great
cities of Europe and America. Also in camps and infected districts he
is largely responsible for the introduction of the microbe of typhoid
fever into the human food to which he has free access after his
previous visits to open latrines. The house-fly is himself a product
of dirt and neglect. The eggs are laid in old manure heaps and kitchen
middens, and the maggots, which eventually are transformed into flies,
nourish themselves in those accumulations. When this refuse is rapidly
and regularly removed by the care of the sanitary officials of a town,
the flies diminish in number, as they have diminished in London within
the last thirty years. We no longer are overrun by flies in London in
the summer months. The man selling sheets of sticky paper is no longer
heard in our streets calling "Catch 'em alive, oh!" But in country
places, where a neglected stable-yard is near the dining room of the
inn, house-flies are as great a nuisance and danger as ever. There is
no difficulty, if the simplest rules of cleanliness are observed, in
abolishing them altogether from human association, but combined and
simultaneous action against them is an essential condition of success.



CHAPTER XXII

IMMUNITY AND CURATIVE INOCULATIONS


During the last twenty years the whole attitude of the study and
investigation of disease-causing microbes has advanced from the
preliminary step of merely identifying certain microbes as the causes
of certain diseases to a further step, viz. that of attempting to
defend the animal and the human body against their attacks in the
manner already so finely started by Pasteur. For many years disease
after disease was examined and found to be caused by special bacteria
or other microbes. Even non-infectious diseases or diseases only
communicable under very special conditions were found to be due to
microbes, so that it is probable that all disease that is not due to
congenital malformation or to mechanical injury, or to poison
fabricated in the weapons of larger animals and plants, or by man
himself, is due to microbes. "Life," says Lord Justice Moulton, "is
one ceaseless war against these enemies, and the periods of our
too-transient successes are known as health." One of the last diseases
traced to microbes is that sad condition known as "infantile
paralysis," by which so many of the brightest and best members of the
community have been crippled, from childhood onwards, through life.

Of late we have been making rapid strides in arriving at a knowledge
as to how Nature herself protects higher creatures from the excesses
and exuberance of destructive microbes, and we are now able to see
that it is in adopting her methods that our best hope of increasing
that protection lies. Nature is satisfied if the efficacy of her
defence is sufficient to save enough individuals to carry on the race.
Man desires in the case of his own fellows to out-do Nature and to
save all.

A century and a half ago, before the true character of infective
disease was understood, it was observed that an individual who was
attacked by the smallpox and recovered became incapable of receiving
the infection again. He was "protected" or "immune." The practice of
"inoculation" was introduced from the East by Lady Montague. The
infectious matter was introduced from a smallpox patient into the
person to be protected by rubbing it into a scarified part of the
skin. A much less severe attack of smallpox was thus produced than
that which usually followed the natural infection, which (though we do
not know precisely its mode of entrance) is more widely spread through
the blood. At the same time the condition of "immunity" after the
attack was brought about with equal efficacy. When Jenner introduced
inoculation with "cowpox" for the purpose of establishing "immunity"
in the vaccinated person, inoculation with smallpox itself was a very
usual practice. It was open to the objection that sometimes an
unexpectedly violent attack of the disease was produced, resulting in
death, and that the active infection was kept alive and ever present
in the community. The notion with regard to the mode in which
"immunity" was produced by either the Montacutian or Jennerian
inoculation was, even after the general knowledge of microbes as the
living contagion of disease had been arrived at, that the mild attack
due to inoculation "used up" something in the blood--in fact,
exhausted the soil, so that the infective matter or microbe could no
longer flourish in the blood. And this view was accepted as the
explanation of the "immunity" to the anthrax disease conferred on
cattle and sheep by Pasteur's inoculations of weakened, but still
actively growing, cultures of the anthrax bacillus. Another theory was
that they produced something in the blood by their own life-processes
which checked their further growth, just as yeast will not grow in
wort in which it has produced 8 per cent. of alcohol, and as a fire
may be choked by its own smoke or ashes.

We now know that both these explanations of "immunity" are incorrect.
Nature provides at least three varieties of defence within the blood
of higher animals against disease-producing microbes which have broken
through the outer line of fortification, the skin. These three methods
are effective in different cases (one in this disease, the other in
that), and, on the whole, are sufficient to preserve the races of
animals (including man) from complete destruction. These are (1) the
production in the blood of an antidote to the toxin or poison
elaborated by the invading microbe--an antitoxin, which chemically
neutralises the toxin; (2) the production in the blood of the attacked
animal of a "germicidal" poison which repels and kills the attacking
microbes themselves (not merely neutralising their poisonous
products); (3) the extermination of the intrusive, disease-producing
microbes by a kind of police, which scour the blood channels and
tissues and "eat up"--actually engulf and digest--the hostile
intruders. These latter agents, actual particles of the living animal
in which they exist, are the "eater-cells," or "phagocytes"--minute,
viscid, actively moving cells, resembling the animalcules called
"amoeba." They are only the one two-thousandth of an inch in
diameter, and are known as the white or colourless corpuscles of the
blood. They are far less numerous than the red blood-corpuscles, which
are the agents for carrying oxygen, but there are eight thousand
million of them in a large spoonful of blood. They are the really
important agents in protecting us from microbes, since they not only
engulf and digest and so destroy those intruders, but it is probable
(not certain) that they also are the manufacturers of the antitoxins
and of the germicidal poisons.

       *       *       *       *       *

If these three defensive processes given us by Nature are in working
order, that is to say, if we are "healthy," they should secure to us a
sufficient "immunity"--at at any rate, "recovery"--from any attack of
disease-producing microbes. But they are not in "unselected," widely
ranging mankind always equal (in their unaided natural state) to their
task.

The attempts to produce immunity by vaccination with weakened or
localised disease germs is really an attempt to train and develop to a
high point the activities of the phagocytes or eater-cells of the
blood.

The introduction of antitoxins by injection of them into the blood (as
in the treatment of diphtheria, lock-jaw, and snake-bite) is an
attempt to bring to the rescue of a patient who would sooner or later
produce his own antitoxins (but perhaps too late or in insufficient
quantity) the similar antitoxin obtained from the blood of another
animal which has been artificially made to produce in its blood an
excessive quantity of that substance.

Mithridates, King of Pontus, was, according to ancient legend, in
consequence of his studies and experiments, soaked with all kinds of
poisons to which he had become habituated by gradually increasing
doses, and he had at last reached a condition in which no poison could
harm him, so that when he was captured by the Romans and wished to
kill himself (which was the correct thing in those days for a fallen
king to do), he wept because he was unable to get any poisons which
would act upon him. He was "immune" to all poisons. This real or
supposed immunity resulting from the introduction into the living body
at intervals of a series of doses of a poison gradually increasing
strength has been called "Mithridatism," and animals and men so
treated have been said to be "mithradatized." The toleration of
poisonous drugs--such as tobacco and alcohol, and even of mineral
poisons, such as arsenic--was, until lately, regarded as merely a
special exhibition of that habituation of "adaptation by use" which
living things often show in regard to some of the conditions of their
life. Unusual cold, unusual heat, unusual moisture, salinity or the
reverse, unusual deprivation of food, unusual muscular effort may be
tolerated by animals without injury provided that they have been
"gradually accustomed" to the unusual thing, or, in other words, that
the unusual has been gradually made the usual; so that there is a
saying that eels after a time even get used to being skinned. There
was no attempt to explain the details of this process of habituation;
it was assumed to be a part of the general "educability" of living
matter.

The study of the education of living matter, in regard to various
conditions which can act upon it, has yet to be further carried out,
but the way in which the poisons made by disease germs and the like,
and the disease germs themselves, are dealt with in the blood and
tissues has, on account of its urgent importance, from a medical point
of view, been already profoundly studied by experimental and
microscopic methods of late years. The old notion as to "mithridatism"
was that an animal or a man would have to be separately prepared and
"immunised" by habituation for every distinct kind of poison. We now
know that this is not the usual way in which Nature confers immunity
to poisons. Most astonishing, and at first sight magical or
mysterious, powers exist in the living protoplasmic cells in and
around the blood of man and higher animals, which enable their
possessors to resist and combat the poison-producing microbes, and
also the poison itself, of all kinds, by which the race is liable to
be attacked.

Few of us realise what a wonderful and exceptional fluid the blood of
a higher animal is. The Australian natives attach so little importance
to it that they actually cut themselves and use their blood as a sort
of paste for sticking decorative feathers on to a pole! The Papuans
are more advanced, since they regard the flow of blood from a cut or
graze as an evil portent. And some respect to the greatness and wonder
of blood is shown by those persons among civilised peoples (more
frequently men than women) who faint when they see blood, or even at
the mention of its name! This stream of red fluid within us (of which
an average man has about fifteen pints in his vessels) courses at a
tremendous rate from the heart through all the endless branches and
networks of arteries, capillaries and veins, and back to the heart. It
feeds, cleanses, warms and takes "vital air" (the old name for oxygen
gas) dissolved in it to every particle of our bodies, fresh and fresh
at every pulse-beat as it rushes on. It not only absorbs crude
digested food through the walls of the gut, but conveys it to where it
is worked up and distributes the worked-up product. It removes the
quickly used-up substances from every part, and the choke-damp or
carbonic acid which would stop the whole machine, and kill us, were it
not got rid of through the lungs as the blood hurries through the
walls of these air-sacs, whilst other used-up materials are carried by
it to the kidneys and passed out of the body through them. Every part
of the body is brought into common life with every other part by this
impetuous blood-stream--which is here, there, and everywhere, right
round, and back again, in twenty-five seconds! It is obviously a very
serious thing if a poison-producing microbe gets into this
blood-stream and multiplies within it, or if poison-producing microbes
lodge somewhere beneath the skin in a wound, and keep on discharging
virulent poison into the blood! The mischief is spread all over the
body at once.

It is not surprising, then, that the long course of natural selection
and survival of the fittest has resulted in the fixing in the blood
and the living cells immediately connected with it of extraordinary
protective powers. The floating scavenger cells (eater-cells or
phagocytes, first recognised as such and so named by Metchnikoff) are
already found in the blood of quite simple animals in worms,
shell-fish and insects. I have watched them with the microscope at
work in transparent minute living water-fleas eating up, and digesting
microbes which had got into the water-flea's blood. In higher animals
what we call "inflammation" is a condition--the result of a new and
advantageous mechanism--which consists in a local retarding of the
blood-current, effected by the action of the nerves on the muscular
walls of the blood-vessels, and the consequent escape of the
eater-cells into the injured or infected tissue, there to eat up and
destroy the injurious microbes or other particles. Special and
remarkable properties--chemical activities of an extraordinary
character--have been gradually developed in the floating phagocytes
and in similar non-floating fixed cells over which the blood flows.

These special chemical activities are of several distinct kinds. The
first is the power to convert the poison of a microbe into a destroyer
of that poison--toxin into antitoxin. The atoms of these poisons are
elaborately composed combinations of the organic elements. By a
"shake" or a "twist" (so to speak) administered by the living cells of
the blood the combination is altered, and the toxin becomes an
antitoxin, destroying by chemically combining with it the very toxin
from which it was formed. This is a far more efficacious method than
the supposed mithridatic "habituation" or "toleration" of a poison,
with small doses of which you have to be gradually prepared. The
healthy blood converts any one of a large series of microbe poisons
into antitoxins. It is true that apparent "opposites" are often
closely allied in Nature. Evil smells and tastes are closely allied to
sweet perfumes and flavours, and what is healthy and agreeable to some
men acts as virulent poison to others (_e.g._ shell-fish, egg,
quinine, opium). The smallest change in the substance administered or
the smallest difference in the living substance of an individual (what
is called "idiosyncrasy") makes all the difference between "poison"
and "meati."

If the phagocytes and similar cells in the blood of a man or animal
exposed to the poison produced by localised microbes (such as those of
tetanus, diphtheria and septic growths) cannot produce enough
antitoxin so as to quickly destroy the poison, we can, and do,
nowadays, save his life, by injecting into his blood the required
antitoxin, obtained from another animal which we have caused (by
injection of the toxin) to produce the antitoxin in excess. That is
one sort of "immunity" or "resistance" which we can confer, and is
largely in use at the present day--the "antitoxin" treatment.

The second poison-repelling chemical activity of the blood, produced
by the living cells in and about it, consists in the blood becoming
directly poisonous to injurious microbes. It becomes "bactericidal,"
produces a bactericidal poison (called an alexin) which is usually
present in normal blood, but is greatly increased when large numbers
of certain poisonous microbes (_e.g._ those of typhoid fever) get into
the blood. Again, by other chemical substances produced in it, the
blood may, without actually killing the invading bacteria, only
paralyse them, and cause them to "agglutinate" (that is, to adhere to
one another as an inactive "clot" or "lump"). As the "agglutinating"
poison is peculiar (or nearly so) for each kind of microbe, we can
tell whether a patient has typhoid by drawing a drop of his
blood into a tube, and adding some fresh living typhoid bacilli
to it. If the patient had typhoid he will have begun to form the
"typhoid-agglutinating" or "typhoid-paralysing" poison in his blood,
and the experiment will result in the "agglutination" (sticking
together in a lump) of the typhoid bacilli. And so we prove, in a
doubtful case, that the patient has typhoid.

The third chemical activity of the blood in dealing with poisonous
microbes is also one which is conferred upon it by its living cells
when excited by the presence of those microbes. It is the production
of a "relish" (for so it must be called) which attaches itself to the
microbes and renders them attractive to the eater-cells (the
phagocytes), so that those swarming amoeba-like floating particles
at once proceed to engulf the microbes with avidity. In the absence of
the relish (the Greek word for it used by Sir Almroth Wright, its
discoverer, is "opsonin"), the eater-cells are sluggish--too
sluggish--in their work. They resemble a child who will not eat dry
toast, or, at best, only slowly, but will devour rapidly many pieces
when the toast is buttered. It is of the utmost importance to us that
our white corpuscles, or eater-cells, should not be sluggish but
greedy.

There are some microbes which will produce deadly poison if grown in
the clear fluid (serum) of the blood of an animal (as, for instance,
the cholera-microbe when grown in the serum of the frog's blood), yet
when inoculated living into the blood of that animal never cause the
slightest illness! Why? Because they are at once eaten by the vigilant
phagocytes of the blood before they can produce any appreciable amount
of poison. That is easily demonstrated by experiment. Our main means
of defence against microbial disease, says Metchnikoff--though
cleanliness and precaution against access of microbes are all very
well in their way--is the activity of our phagocytes. Now it appears
that just as in the other cases I have been considering, so in the
production of "relish," the power to produce it resides in the blood
(and perhaps the cells of its vessels), but is not set at work until
the enemy is in the blood. Suppose there is an infection, an invasion
of the blood and tissues by one or other disease-causing microbe.
Gradually if the body is healthy the "relish" is produced and becomes
attached to the invading microbes. The phagocytes swallow them
greedily and make an end of the invasion.

It is proved that this aroused avidity of the phagocytes is due to no
change in the phagocytes themselves; since if they are transferred to
the serum of a normal man they show no such predilection for the
special invading microbe. The "opsonin," or "relish," is something
exuded into or produced in the blood fluid when the attacking microbe
arrives. It attaches itself to them: that is the essential fact. In
many of us the phagocytes are not at a given moment so "avid" of this
or that disease-microbe as they should be in order to protect us from
its multiplication and poison production. But it is found that by
injecting boiled and cooled (therefore dead) microbes of a particular
kind into the blood of a man, you can start the production of the
"relish" appropriate to that kind. The dead microbes answer this
purpose; they excite the production of the opsonin appropriate to them
and yet are not themselves dangerous, since they are dead. When
subsequently (or possibly concurrently in small quantity) living
microbes of the same disease enter the blood, the opsonin is ready for
them. They are, to put it picturesquely, like oysters at the
oyster-bar, peppered and vinegared "in no time," and then swallowed by
the phagocytes by the dozen. This seems almost too comic a view of the
deadly struggle of man and higher animals for health and freedom from
the swarming pests which everywhere invade him. Yet it is correct, and
involves a simple and fundamental truth. Our properties and appetites
are but the sum of those of the protoplasmic organisms--the cells--of
which we are built up. Our need for a relish with oysters is the same
thing as the need of the phagocyte for a relish with its microbes, not
something "poetically" compared to it. The story of "the oysters and
the carpenter" might be replaced by that of "the microbes and the
phagocyte." The saying, "Fine words butter no parsnips," finds a
parallel in the remark that "The drinking of drugs does not opsonise
microbes."

Half-way between us and the amoeba-like unicellular organisms we
find the earth-worm preparing his piece of lettuce (as Darwin showed)
with a juice exuded from his mouth, a "relish" reminding one of the
Kava drink of the South Sea Islanders. To "opsonise" or render
attractive by the application of chemical "relish" is a proceeding
which we find in operation in the feeding of the minute colourless
corpuscles which engorge the still more minute bacteria--and also in
the preparation of their food by various lower animals, and finally in
the elaborate flavouring and cooking of his food by civilised man!



CHAPTER XXIII

THE STRANGE STORY OF ANIMAL LIFE IN NEW ZEALAND


New Zealand consists of two islands, together more than 1,000 miles
long and of about 200,000 square miles area. It is 1,000 miles distant
from New Caledonia, the nearest island of any considerable size, and
is 1,500 miles from the great Continental island of Australia. There
is no other island in the world so large and at the same time so
remote from other considerable tracts of land. Australia is closely
connected by island groups at a distance of only 100 miles to Asia.
The isolation of New Zealand is unique. The seas around it are of vast
depth and of proportionately great age. During the chalk
period--before the great deposits and changes of the earth's face
which we assign to the Tertiary period--New Zealand consisted of a
number of small scattered islands, which gradually, as the floor of
the sea rose in that part of the world, became a continent stretching
northward and joining New Guinea. In that very ancient time the land
was covered with ferns and large trees. Birds (as we now know them)
had only lately come into existence in the northern hemisphere, and
when New Zealand for a time joined that area the birds, as well as a
few lizards and one kind of frog, migrated south and colonised the new
land. It is probable that the very peculiar lizard-like reptile of New
Zealand--the "tuatara" or Sphenodon--entered its area at a still
earlier stage of surface change. That creature (only 20 in. long) is
the only living representative of very remarkable extinct reptiles
which lived in the area which now is England, and, in fact, in all
parts of the world, during the Triassic period, further behind the
chalk in date than the chalk is behind our own day. For ages, this
"type" with its peculiar beak-like jaws, has survived only in New
Zealand. Living specimens have been brought to this country, and are
to be seen at the Zoological Gardens in Regent's Park. Having
received, as it were, a small cargo of birds and reptiles, but no
hairy, warm-blooded quadruped, no mammal, New Zealand became at the
end of the chalk-period detached from the northern continent, and
isolated, and has remained so ever since. Migratory birds from the
north visited it, and at a late date two kinds of bat reached it and
established themselves.

Thus we are prepared for the very curious state of things in this
large tract of land. Looking at New Zealand as it was a thousand years
ago, we find there were no mammals living on it excepting a couple of
bats and the seals (so-called sea lions, sea elephants, and others)
which frequent its coasts. There were 180 species of birds, and many
of these quite peculiar to the island. Many of the birds showed in the
absence of any predatory enemies--there being no carnivorous
quadrupeds to hunt them or their young--a tendency to lose the power
of flight, and some had done so altogether. The gigantic, wingless
Moas--allied to the ostrich and the cassawary--had grown up there, and
were the masters of the situation. There were many species of
these--one of great height--one fourth taller than the biggest known
ostrich; others with short legs of monstrous thickness and strength.
Allied to these are the four species of Kiwi or apteryx, still
existing there. They are very strange wingless birds, about the size
of a large Dorking fowl. The Kiwis are still in existence, but the
Moas and some of the other flightless birds have died out since the
arrival of the Maori man, who killed and ate them.

A bird which was believed sixty years ago both by the natives and
white men to have become extinct, the Takahe, or Notornis, was known
by its bones and from the traditions of the natives. Much to the
delight of naturalists, four live specimens of it were obtained at
intervals in the last century, the last as late as 1898. The beautiful
dark plumage and thick and short beak, which is bright red, as are the
legs, are well known from the two specimens preserved in the Natural
History Museum. The Notornis is a heavy, flightless "rail." Rails are
remarkable for their size and variety in New Zealand, where there are
twenty species, some of them very sluggish in flight, or like
Notornis, flightless (the wood hens). Amongst the flightless birds of
New Zealand is a duck, as helpless as the heaviest farmyard product,
and yet a wild bird, and then there are the penguins, which swim with
their wings, but never fly, and belong entirely to the southern
hemisphere. Many species are found on the shores of New Zealand. Other
noteworthy birds of New Zealand are the twelve kinds of cormorants,
the wry-bill plover, the only bird in the world with its beak turned
to one side, the practically flightless Kakapo, or ground parrot
(Stringops), the Huia, a bird like a crow in appearance, whose male
has a short straight beak, whilst the female has a long one, greatly
curved; the detested Kea, the parrot which kills the sheep, introduced
by the colonists, by digging out with its beak from their backs the
fat round the kidneys; also very peculiar owls and wrens, and the fine
singing bell-birds.

The peculiarity of the indigenous animals of New Zealand is seen not
only in the absence of mammals and the abundance of remarkable birds,
many of them flightless, but also in the fact that there are no snakes
in this vast area--no crocodiles, no tortoises--only fourteen small
kinds of lizard (seven Geckoes and seven Skinks), and only one species
of frog (and that only ever seen by a very few persons)! There were
fish in the rivers when settlers arrived there, but none very
remarkable. Insects and flies of every kind, scorpions, spiders,
centipedes, land-snails and earth-worms were all flourishing in the
forests of New Zealand a thousand years ago, serving in large measure
as the food of birds, fish and lizards. The great island continent of
Australia, 1,500 miles away, is peculiar enough in its living
products, quite unlike the rest of the world in its egg-laying
duck-mole and spiny ant-eater, and in its abundant and varied
population of pounched mammals or marsupials, emphasized by the
absence (except for two or three peculiar little mice and the
late-arrived black-fellow and bush-dog) of the regular type called
"placental" mammals which inhabit the rest of the world. The rest of
the world except New Zealand! Strange as Australia is, New Zealand is
yet stranger. Long as the isolation of Australia has endured, and
archaic and primitive in essential characters as is its living freight
of animals and plants navigated (as it were) in safety and isolation
to our present days, yet New Zealand has a still more primitive, a
more ancient cargo. When we divide the land surfaces of the earth
according to their history as indicated by the nature of their living
fauna and flora and their geological structure, and the fossilised
remains of their past inhabitants, it becomes necessary to separate
the whole land surface into two primary sections: (_a_) New Zealand,
and (_b_) the rest of the world, "Theriogoea," or the land of beasts
(mammals). Then we divide Theriogoea into (1) the land of Marsupials
(Australia) and (2) the land of Placentals (the rest of the world).
This last great area is divisible according to the same principles
into the great northern belt of land, the Holarctic region and the
(three not equally distinct) great southward-reaching land
surfaces--the Neo-tropical (South America), the Ethiopian (Africa,
south of the Sahara), and the Oriental (India and Malay).

The bird-ruled quietude of New Zealand was disturbed 500 years ago by
the arrival of the Polynesian Islanders, the Maoris, in their canoes.
They brought with them three kinds of vegetables which they
cultivated, a dog and a kind of rat. The dogs soon died out, but the
rat has remained, and is considered to have done little or no harm. It
was not one of the destructive proliferous rats of the northern
hemisphere. The Maoris hunted the big birds--the Moas and others--for
their flesh, and ate their eggs, and it is probable that they caused
or accelerated the extinction of the Moa and two or three other birds.
In the north island they nearly exterminated the white heron, the
plumes being valued by them. On the whole, very little damage was done
to the natural products of the islands by the Maoris. "It was with the
advent of the Europeans," says Mr. John Drummond, F.L.S., in his
interesting and well-illustrated book on 'The Animals of New Zealand,'
"that destruction began in earnest. It seemed as if they had been
commanded to destroy the ancient inhabitants." They killed right and
left, and, in addition, burnt up the primæval forests and bushes till
a great part of the flora was consumed. It was never a very varied or
strong one, consisting only of some 1,400 species, which are now in
large proportion vanishing, whilst 600 species of plants, most of them
introduced accidentally rather than intentionally by the European
settlers, have taken their place.

Here I may state the great principle which, in regard to plants as
well as animals, determines the survival of intruders from one region
to another. It appears that setting aside any very special and
peculiar adaptations to quite exceptional conditions in a given area,
the living things, whether plants or animals, which are brought to or
naturally arrive at such an area, survive and supplant the indigenous
plants and animals of that area, if they themselves are kinds
(species) produced or formed in a larger or more variegated area; that
is to say, formed under severer conditions of competition and of
struggle with a larger variety of competitors, enemies and adverse
circumstances in general. Thus, the plants of remote oceanic islands
are destroyed, and their place and their food are taken by the more
hardy "capable" plants of Continental origin. And, in accordance with
the same principle, as Darwin especially maintained, the plants of the
northern hemisphere, produced as they are in a wide stretching belt
of land--Europe, temperate Asia, and North America--always push their
way down the great southern stretches of land (by cool mountain
roadways), and when they have arrived in the temperate regions of the
southern hemisphere, they have at various geological epochs starved
out, taken the place of, or literally "supplanted" the native southern
flora, which in every case has been formed on a narrow, restricted and
peninsula-like area. The same greater "potency" of the animals of the
Holartic region has in the past established them as intruders into
South America, Ethiopia and India, and has led to the inevitable
survival of the animal of the large area when brought into contact
with the animal of the small and restricted area. Applying these
principles to New Zealand, we see that no country, no area of land,
could have a worse chance for the survival of its animal and vegetable
children than that mysterious land, isolated for many millions of
years in the ocean, the home of the Tuatara, solitary survivor of an
immensely remote geologic age, the undisturbed kingdom of huge birds,
so easy-going that they have ceased to fly, and have even lost their
wings!

The first European animals to settle there were the pigs benevolently
introduced into New Zealand by Captain Cook. They multiplied apace,
served for food and sport both to the natives and the early settlers,
and destroyed the ancient Triassic reptile, the Tuatara, which only
survives now on rocky islands near the coast. In less than a hundred
years the settlers had introduced sheep and cattle, and looked upon
the abounding pigs as a scourge. In 1862, pig-hunters were employed to
destroy them--three hunters would kill 20,000 pigs in a year. Dogs,
cats and the European rats came in early with the settlers, and
destroyed the flightless birds, driving them for shelter to the
mountains. As the settlers increased they shot down millions of birds
of all kinds, and burnt up grass, shrub, and bush. At last, a few
years ago, the Government established three islands as "sanctuaries,"
where many of the more interesting birds survive, and are increasing.

Besides cattle and sheep (which have flourished exceedingly) the
colonists introduced rabbits, pheasants and the honey-bee, and later
on quails, hares, deer, and trout. Clover depends on bees for its
fertilisation and seeding. White clover, taken over there for pasture,
did not seed in New Zealand until the honey-bee was imported in 1842,
and later, as they could not seed red-clover without it, the colonists
had to introduce the humble-bee, and the red-clover now also seeds
freely and the imported farm-beasts have their accustomed food.
Besides the animals already named, the colonists have introduced
ferrets and weasels, to reduce the destructive excess of the imported
rabbits; and they, whilst failing to subdue the rabbits, have
themselves become a serious nuisance. Of small birds there were
introduced the house-sparrow, which is too prolific, and is hated by
the farmers; the greenfinch, a pest; the bullfinch, a failure. The
introduced skylark and the blackbird (alas! poor colonists) are not
the joy of New Zealanders--the farmers hate them. The European
settlers had the audacity to introduce also the most beautiful and
beloved of all birds, our own perfect "Robin Redbreast," and they add
want of manners to their violent and uncalled-for hospitality by
speaking ill of this sweetest and brightest of living things. After
this, I am rather glad to report that the esteemed table-delicacies,
pheasants and partridges, don't get on well in New Zealand; nor do
turtle-doves. The thrush is spreading and meets with the approval of
the hypercritical New Zealander. The hedge-sparrow, the chaffinch and
the goldfinch have flourished abundantly, but the linnet has failed. A
very interesting and important problem for New Zealand naturalists to
solve is that as to why one bird succeeds in their remote land and
another does not. The British trout have grown to an enormous size and
are destroying all other fresh-water life. Imported red-deer flourish,
and are shot with great satisfaction by the colonists. The American
elk has been introduced in the South Island, and the mountain
goats--the ibex and the thar--are to be acclimatized in the mountains,
so that unnatural sport may flourish in this ancient land of quiet and
of wondrous birds, turned topsy-turvy by enlightened man.



CHAPTER XXIV

THE EFFACEMENT OF NATURE BY MAN


Very few people have any idea of the extent to which man since his
upgrowth in the late Tertiary period of the geologists--perhaps a
million years ago--has actively modified the face of Nature, the vast
herds of animals he has destroyed, the forests he has burnt up, the
deserts he has produced, and the rivers he has polluted. It is, no
doubt, true that changes proceeded, and are proceeding, in the form of
the earth's face and in its climate without man having anything to say
in the matter. Changes in climate and in the connections of islands
and continents across great seas and oceans have gone on, and are
going on, and in consequence endless kinds of animals and plants have
been, some extinguished, some forced to migrate to new areas, many
slowly modified in shape, size, and character, and abundantly
produced. But over and above these slow irresistible changes there has
been a vast destruction and defacement of the living world by the
uncalculating reckless procedure of both savage and civilised man
which is little short of appalling, and is all the more ghastly in
that the results have been very rapidly brought about, that no
compensatory production of new life, except that of man himself and
his distorted "breeds" of domesticated animals, has accompanied the
destruction of formerly flourishing creatures, and that, so far as we
can see, if man continues to act in the reckless way which has
characterised his behaviour hitherto, he will multiply to such an
enormous extent that only a few kinds of animals and plants which
serve him for food and fuel will be left on the face of the globe. It
is not improbable that even these will eventually disappear, and man
will be indeed monarch of all he surveys. He will have converted the
gracious earth, once teeming with innumerable, incomparably beautiful
varieties of life, into a desert--or, at best, a vast agricultural
domain abandoned to the production of food-stuffs for the hungry
millions which, like maggots consuming a carcase, or the irrepressible
swarms of the locust, incessantly devour and multiply.

Another glacial period or an overwhelming catastrophe of cosmic origin
may fortunately, at some distant epoch, check the blind process of
destruction of natural things and the insane pullulation of humanity.
But there are, it seems probable, many centuries of what would seem to
the men of to-day deplorable ugliness and cramping pressure in store
for posterity unless an unforeseen awakening of the human race to the
inevitable results of its present recklessness should occur. Whatever
may be the ultimate fate of the earth under man's operations, we
should endeavour at this moment to delay, as far as possible, the
hateful consummation looming ahead of us.

It is interesting to note a few instances of man's destructive action.
Even in prehistoric times it is probable that man, by hunting the
mammoth--the great hairy elephant--assisted in its extinction, if he
did not actually bring it about. At a remote prehistoric period the
horses of various kinds which abounded in North and South America
rapidly and suddenly became extinct. It has been suggested, with some
show of probability, that a previously unknown epidemic disease due to
a parasitic organism--such as those which we now see ravaging the
herds of South Africa--found its way to the American continent. And it
is quite possible that this was brought from the other hemisphere by
the first men who crossed the Pacific and populated North America.

To come to matters of certainty and not of speculation, we know that
man by clearing the land, as well as by actively hunting and killing
it, made an end of the great wild ox of Europe, the aurochs or urus of
Cæsar, the last of which was killed near Warsaw in 1627. He similarly
destroyed the bison, first in Europe and then (in our own days) in
North America. A few hundred, carefully guarded, are all that remain
in the two continents. He has very nearly made an end of the elk in
Europe, and will soon do so completely in America. The wolf and the
beaver were destroyed in these British Islands about 400 years ago.
They are rapidly disappearing from France, and will soon be
exterminated in Scandinavia and Russia and in Canada. At a remote
prehistoric period the bear was exterminated by man in Britain and the
lion driven from the whole of Europe, except Macedonia, where it still
flourished in the days of the ancient Greeks. It was common in Asia
Minor a few centuries ago. The giraffe and the elephant have departed
from South Africa before the encroachments of civilised man. The day
is not distant when they will cease to exist in the wild state in any
part of Africa, and with them are vanishing many splendid antelopes.
Even our "nearest and dearest" relatives in the animal world, the
gorilla, the chimpanzee and the ourang, are doomed. Now that man has
learnt to defy malaria and other fevers the tropical forest will be
occupied by the greedy civilised horde of humanity, and there will be
no room for the most interesting and wonderful of all animals, the
man-like apes, unless (as we may hope in their case, at any rate) such
living monuments of human history are made sacred and treated with
greater care than are our ancient monuments in stone. Smaller
creatures, birds like the dodo and the great auk and a whole troop of
others less familiar, have disappeared and are disappearing under the
human blight. Even some beautiful insects--the great copper butterfly
and the swallow-tail butterfly--have been exterminated in England by
human "progress" in the shape of the drainage of the Fen country.

But the most repulsive of the destructive results of human expansion
is the poisoning of rivers, and the consequent extinction in them of
fish and of well-nigh every living thing, save mould and putrefactive
bacteria. In the Thames it will soon be a hundred years since man, by
his filthy proceedings, banished the glorious salmon, and murdered the
innocents of the eel-fare. Even at its foulest time, however, the
Thames mud was blood-red (really "blood-red," since the colour was due
to the same blood-crystals which colour our own blood) with the swarms
of a delicate little worm like the earth-worm, which has an
exceptional power of living in foul water, and nourishing itself upon
putrid mud. In old days I have stood on Hungerford Suspension Bridge
and seen the mud-banks as a great red band of colour, stretching for a
mile along the picture when the tide was low. In smaller streams,
especially in the mining and manufacturing districts of England,
progressive money-making man has converted the most beautiful things
of nature--trout streams--into absolutely dead corrosive chemical
sewers. The sight of one of these death-stricken black filth-gutters
makes one shudder as the picture rises, in one's mind, of a world in
which all the rivers and the waters of the sea-shore will be thus
dedicated to acrid sterility, and the meadows and hill-sides will be
drenched with nauseating chemical manures. Such a state of things is
possibly in store for future generations of men! It is not "science"
that will be to blame for these horrors, but should they come about
they will be due to the reckless greed and the mere insect-like
increase of humanity.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the destruction of trees and all kinds of plants man has
deliberately done more mischief than in the extermination of animals.
By inadvertence he has completely abolished the strange and remarkable
trees and shrubs of islands--such as St. Helena--where the herbivorous
animals introduced by him have made short work of the wonderful native
plants isolated for ages, and have completely exterminated them, so
that they are "extinct." We have just had the opportunity of studying
one of the few oceanic islands--"Christmas Island" (forty square miles
in area)--untouched by man until thirty years ago. It lies 200 miles
south of Java. Its native inhabitants, plants and animals were
carefully examined, and specimens secured twenty years ago. There were
then no human inhabitants, and the island was rarely visited. It was,
however, about twelve years ago handed over by its proprietors to some
thousand Chinamen to dig and ship the 15,000,000 tons of valuable
"phosphate" (at a profit of a guinea a ton), which forms a large part
of its surface. And now from time to time we shall have reports of
this result of contact with man, and through him with all the plagues
and curses of the great world. Already a remarkable shrew-mouse and
two native species of rat, peculiar to the island, have disappeared.
Dr. Andrews ("Proceedings of the Zoological Society," February 2nd,
1909), who has twice explored the island, gives evidence that this is
caused by a parasitic disease (due to a trypanosome like those which
cause sleeping-sickness and various horse and cattle diseases)
introduced by the common black rats from the ships which now frequent
the island. The further progress of destruction will be carefully and
minutely observed and recorded--but not arrested!

It is, however, in cutting down and burning forests of large trees
that man has done the most harm to himself and the other living
occupants of many regions of the earth's surface. We can trace these
evil results from more recent examples back into the remote past. The
water supply of the town of Plymouth was assured by Drake, who brought
water in a channel from Dartmoor. But the cutting down of the trees
has now rendered the great wet sponge of the Dartmoor region, from
which the water was drawn all the year, no longer a sponge. It no
longer "holds" the water of the rainfall, but in consequence of the
removal of the forest and the digging of ditches the water quickly
runs off the moor, and subsequently the whole countryside suffers from
drought. This sort of thing has occurred wherever man has been
sufficiently civilised and enterprising to commit the folly of
destroying forests. Forests have an immense effect on climate, causing
humidity of both the air and the soil, and give rise to moderate and
persistent instead of torrential streams. Spain has been irretrievably
injured by the cutting down of her forests in the course of a few
hundred years. The same thing is going on, to a disastrous extent, in
parts of the United States. Whole provinces of the Thibetan borders of
China have been converted into uninhabitable, sandy desert, where
centuries ago were fertile and well-watered pastures supporting rich
cities, in consequence of the reckless destruction of forest. In fact,
whether it is due to man's improvident action or to natural climatic
change, it appears that the formation of "desert" is due in the first
place to the destruction of forest, the consequent formation of a
barren, sandy area, and the subsequent spreading of what we may call
the "disease" or "desert ulcer," by the blowing of the fatally exposed
sand and the gradual extension, owing to the action of the sand
itself, of the area of destroyed vegetation. Sand-deserts are not, as
used to be supposed, sea-bottoms from which the water has retreated,
but areas of destruction of vegetation--often (though not always) both
in Central Asia and in North Africa (Egypt, etc.), started by the
deliberate destruction of forest by man, who has either by artificial
drainage starved the forest, or by the simple use of the axe and fire
cleared it away.

The great art of irrigation was studied and used with splendid success
by the ancient nations of the near East. They converted deserts into
gardens, and their work was an act of compensation and restitution to
be set off against the destructive operations of more barbarous men.
But they, too, long ago were themselves destroyed by conquering hordes
of more ignorant but more war-like men, and their irrigation works and
the whole art of irrigation perished with them. One of the absolutely
necessary works to be carried out by civilised man, when he has ceased
to build engines of war and destruction, is the irrigation of the
great waterless territories of the globe. A little home-work of the
kind has been carried on in Italy regularly year by year since the
days of Leonardo da Vinci, and our Indian Government is slowly
copying the Italian example. In Egypt we have built the great dam of
Assouan, whilst in Mesopotamia it is proposed to re-establish the
irrigation system by which it once was made rich and fertile. But, as
has lately been maintained by Mr. Rose Smith in his book, "The Growth
of Nations," the vast possibilities of irrigation have not yet been
realised by the business men of the modern world. Millions of acres in
the warmer regions of the earth now unproductive can be made to yield
food to mankind and rich pecuniary profits to the capitalists who
shall introduce modern engineering methods and a scientific system of
irrigation into those areas.

The whole problem of the increase of the more civilised races and the
necessary accompanying increase of food-production depends for its
solution on the speedy introduction of irrigation methods into what
are now the great unproductive deserts of the world.



CHAPTER XXV

THE EXTINCTION OF THE BISON AND OF WHALES


The almost complete and very sudden disappearance of the bison in
North America thirty years ago does not seem to have been due simply
to the slaughter of tens of thousands of these creatures by men who
made a commerce of so-called "buffalo-rugs." These "hunters" miscalled
the unhappy bison, which is not a buffalo, nor at all like that
creature, just as they gave the name "elk" to the great red deer (the
wapiti), although there was a real elk, the so-called "moose," staring
them in the face. The sudden extinction of the bison resulted partly
from the slaughter and partly from the breaking up of the herds and
the interference with their free migration by the trans-continental
railway. An interesting discovery made only this year, in regard to
the closely allied European bison, suggests that disease may also have
played a part in the destruction of the North American bison. A few
hundred individuals of the European bison are all that remain at this
day. Some are carefully preserved by the Emperor of Russia in a tract
of suitable country in Lithuania and another herd exists in the
Caucasus. Some of the Lithuanian bison have lately been dying in an
unaccountable way, and on investigating a dead individual a Russian
observer has discovered a "trypanosome" parasite in the blood. The
trypanosomes are microscopic corkscrew-like creatures, of which many
kinds have become known within the last ten or fifteen years. They are
"single cells"--that is to say, "protoplasmic" animalcules of the
simplest structure--provided with a vibrating crest and tail by means
of which they swim with incessant screw-like movement through the
blood. They rarely exceed one thousandth of an inch in length
exclusive of the tail. The poisons which they produce by their life in
the blood are the cause of the sleeping-sickness of man (in tropical
Africa), of the horse and cattle disease carried by the tsetze fly,
and of many similar deadly diseases--a separate "species" being
discovered in each disease. A peculiar species is found in the blood
of the common frog, and another in that of the sewer-rat. The last
discovery of a "trypanosome" is that of one in the blood of the
African elephant, announced to the Royal Society by Sir David Bruce.

It is a matter of great interest that a trypanosome has been found in
a death-stricken herd of European bison. It suggests that one of the
causes of the disappearance of the bison, both in Europe and America,
may be the infection of their blood by trypanosomes, and that
possibly, whilst a freely migrating and vigorous herd would not be
extensively infected, a dwindled and confined herd may be more liable
to infection, and that thus the final destruction of an already
decadent animal may be brought about. It would now be a matter of
extreme interest to ascertain whether the few dwindled herds of bison
in North America are infected by trypanosomes, and no doubt we shall
soon receive reports on the subject.

A most interesting branch of this subject of the unthinking
extermination of great animals by man is that of the extermination of
whales. Man is worrying them out of existence. Some are already beyond
saving. It would be interesting to know whether there are trypanosomes
or other blood-parasites in whales. I suppose that no one has an
ill-feeling towards whales. Most of us have never seen a whale, either
alive or in the flesh--only a skeleton. I have seen a live whale or
two off the coast of Norway; and I once, in conjunction with my friend
Moseley, when we were students at Oxford, cut up one, 18 ft. long,
which had been exhibited for three weeks during the summer in a tent
on the shores of the Bristol Channel, where we purchased it. The
skeleton of that whale is now in the museum at Oxford, but happily the
smell of it exists only in my memory. The late Mr. Gould, who produced
such beautifully illustrated books on birds, told me that he once fell
into the heart of a full-sized whale, which he was cutting up. He
narrowly escaped drowning in the blood. The whale was not very fresh,
and Mr. Gould was unapproachable for a week.

An immense number of whales are killed every year for their oil, and
their highly nutritious flesh is wasted. There was an attempt some
years ago to make meat extract from it. Some which was brought to me
reminded me of the whale on the shores of the Bristol Channel. I do
not know if the extract has proved palatable to other people. The
Norwegians are specially expert in killing whales. They have been
allowed to set up "factories" on the west coast of Ireland and in the
Shetlands, where they kill whales with harpoons fired from guns, cut
them up, and boil down the fat.

Whales are warm-blooded creatures which suckle their young, and have
been developed in past geological times from land animals--the
primitive carnivora--which were also the ancestors of dogs, bears,
seals and cats. Whales have lost the hind limbs altogether and
developed the forelegs into fingerless flippers, whilst the tail is
provided with "flukes" like the fins of a fish's tail in shape, but
horizontal instead of vertical. The whole form is fish-like, the skin
smooth and hairless. It is a remarkable conclusion arrived at by the
investigators of the remains of extinct animals that a little
four-legged creature the size of a spaniel, and intermediate in
character between a hedgehog and a dog, was the common ancestor from
which have been derived such widely different creatures as the whale
and the bat, the elephant and the man. We can at the present day trace
with some certainty the gradual modifications of form by which in the
course of many millions of years the change from the primitive,
dog-like hedgehog to each of those four living "types" has proceeded.

The whales of to-day are divided into the toothed whales and the
whalebone whales. The great cachalot or sperm whale is captured,
chiefly in the Southern Ocean, and killed in large numbers for the
sake of the "spermaceti," or "sperm oil," which forms the great mass
of its head, but he is so fierce and active that he is not easily
captured, and is not in immediate danger of extinction. The smaller
toothed whales, the killers, dolphins, and porpoises (though one of
them--the bottle-nosed whale--is being killed out), are not as yet
seriously threatened by commercial man. But the whalebone whales are
in a parlous state. The Right whales, as they are called, are the
chief of these. They are huge creatures, 60 ft. in length, with an
enormous head: it is as much as one third of the total length in the
Greenland whale. Besides the Greenland species there are four other
"right whales," which may be considered as four varieties of one
species. The head is not quite so large in them. The Biscay whale is
one of them, and was hunted until it was exterminated in the Bay of
Biscay, when the whalers, extending their operations further and
further north, came upon the Greenland whale, which proved to be even
more valuable than the Biscay species. The huge mouth in these two
whales has hanging from its sides within the lips a series of long
bars or planks of wonderfully strong, elastic, horny substance--the
"baleen" or "whalebone"--each plank being as much as eight or in rare
cases twelve feet long. Following close on one another and having
hairy edges, they act as strainers so as to separate the floating food
of the whale from the water which rushes through its mouth as it
swims. The whalebone is of great value commercially, as is also the
fat or oil. A hundred years ago whalebone fetched only £25 a ton, now
the same quantity fetches more than £1,500. The Rorquals, or
"Finners," have smaller heads and mouths; their whalebone is so short
as to be valueless, but they grow to even greater size than the Right
whales and are found on our own coasts and all over the world. The
Humpback whale is one of these "Finners," distinguished by its
excessively long flippers and huge bulk.

The Biscay whale was the first of these great creatures to be hunted.
The Basques began its capture as early as the ninth century. It was
exterminated by them in the Bay of Biscay, and only saved from
complete extinction elsewhere by the discovery of the more valuable
Arctic or Greenland whale. The capture of the Greenland whale began in
1612; and in 200 years the unceasing pursuit of this species had
driven it to the remote places of the Arctic Ocean. It is now so rare
that it is not worth while to send a ship out for the purpose of
hunting it, and it will probably never recover its numbers. An idea of
its value and former abundance may be formed from the fact that
between 1669 and 1778 it yielded to 1,400 Dutch vessels about 57,000
individuals, of which the baleen and oil produced a money value of
four million pounds sterling. Of late years a single large Greenland
whale would bring £900 for its whalebone and £300 for its oil. These
two great Right whales having been practically exterminated, the
merciless hunt has now been turned on to the wilder and less valuable
Finback whales or Finners. In these days of steam and electric light
the Arctic night is robbed of its terrors, and the whale chase goes on
very fast. The shot harpoon was invented in 1870 by Sven Foyn, a
Norwegian, and is the most deadly and extraordinary weapon ever
devised by man for the pursuit of helpless animals. It is this
invention (a commercial, not a scientific, discovery!) which has, in
conjunction with swift steamships, rendered the destruction of whales
a matter of ease and deadly certainty. It is this which is being used
on the Irish as on the Scandinavian coast, resulting in the pollution
of the air and water by the carcases of the slaughtered beasts from
which the oil has been extracted. This revolting butchery, without
foresight or intelligence, is carried on solely for the satisfaction
of human greed, and apparently will be stopped only by the extinction
of the yet remaining whales. In forty years in the middle of last
century the whale fishery of the United States yielded 300,000 whales
to 20,000 voyages, and a value of sixty-million pounds sterling in
baleen and oil. It is calculated that in the thousand years during
which man has hunted the great whales not less than a million
individuals have been captured. Man's skill and capacity have now
become such that he will soon have cleared the ocean of these
wonderful creatures, since, like the bison, the whales cannot persist
when harried and interfered with beyond a certain limited degree.

It appears that the curious musk ox, which now lives on the fringe of
the Arctic circle, and in the glacial period existed in the Thames
Valley, is doomed. There (as in similar instances in other lands), the
comparatively harmless savage race of men (in this case the Eskimo),
whose weapons did not enable them seriously to threaten the existence
of the animals around them, have now obtained efficient firearms. The
musk ox is consequently now between two lines of fire--that of the
white hunter on the south, and of the Eskimo on the north.

From regions far remote from the Arctic complaints come of an even
more reckless destruction of helpless animals. Perhaps our legislators
may feel some personal concern in this case, since it is neither more
nor less than the approaching extinction of the turtle, the true green
turtle of City fame, to eat which at the invitation of City
dignitaries is one of the few duties of a legislator. Both the green
turtles and the tortoise-shell turtles are being destroyed
indiscriminately on the coast of Florida and in many West Indian
Islands by brutal, careless, "white" beach-combers and idlers. By
proper care of the eggs and young the turtles could easily be
increased enormously in number, and a regulated capture of them be
made to yield a legitimate profit. But neither the United States
Government nor our own take any steps to restrain promiscuous
slaughter of the turtles which come to the shore in order to lay their
eggs. Soon the City Fathers will have to do without the "green fat"
and their wives without tortoise-shell combs. It will serve them
right. Such destitution in these--and, be it noted, in many other
matters--will deservedly fall upon those who ignorantly, wilfully, and
contentedly neglect to take steps to understand and to control the
withering blight created by modern man wherever he sets his foot.



CHAPTER XXVI

MORE ABOUT WHALES


The possibility of protecting whales from wanton slaughter by man is,
no doubt, a matter open to discussion. Protection has, however, been
accorded to one particular whale in an exceptional instance. Passenger
steamers along the coast of New Zealand used to call at a station in a
narrow inlet of the coast, called Pelorus Sound. A black whale, said
to be of the kind known as Risso's Grampus, of about 14 ft. in length,
was apparently a settled inhabitant of this channel, and used to
follow the steamers and accompany them through the sound. He became
famous and popular, and was known as "Pelorus Jack." He was always
looked for and recognised by the sailors and passengers. Certain
savagely destructive persons on one of these steamers--to the horror
and disgust of the New Zealand world--made an attempt to shoot
"Pelorus Jack." It is stated, and believed by sailors, that ill-luck
consequently fell on that steamer. On its next voyage it was avoided
by the whale, who had never failed to welcome friendly and
non-aggressive steamships, and on a third voyage the steamer was
wrecked. The feeling about "Pelorus Jack" was so strong that his
Excellency the Governor of New Zealand, Lord Plunket, signed, on
September 26th, 1904, an Order in Council, protecting "Pelorus Jack"
by name for five years, and any person interfering with him was made
liable to a fine of £100.

It appears that under the New Zealand Sea Fisheries Act of 1894 the
Governor in Council is empowered to make regulations protecting any
fish. Although zoologically not belonging to the class of fishes,
whales are, technically and for all legal and commercial purposes
"fishes," since they are "fished" and are the booty of "fisheries." I
believe that no Governor, Council, or Secretary of State has power in
the British Islands similar to that conferred on the Governor of New
Zealand by a modern State which desires good and effective government.
Such power is needed in all parts of the British Empire.

The whales, as compared with their dog-like ancestors, are modified to
a more extreme degree and in more special ways than is the case in any
other group of which we can trace the history over a similar period of
development. This is connected with the complete change of conditions
of life to which these mammals ("warm-blooded, air-breathing
quadrupeds which suckle their young") have become adapted in passing
from a terrestrial to a marine existence. Other mammalian ancestors
have independently taken to a marine life and given rise to
strange-looking adaptations, namely, the seals and also the Manatee
and Dugong known as the Sirenians (so-called because they give rise to
sailors' stories of mermaids and sirens), but these are far less
changed, less modified than the whales. The whales have acquired a
completely fish-like form. They frequently have a large back fin, and
have lost the hind legs altogether. The horizontally spread flukes of
the whale's tail have nothing to do with the hind legs, whereas the
common seal's hind legs are tied together so as to form a sort of
tail. In the bigger whales, sunk deep in the muscle and blubber, we
find on each side well forward in the body (not near the tail) a pair
of isolated, unattached bony pieces, which are the hip-bone and
thigh-bone--all that remains of the hind limbs. The neck is so short
that in many whales the seven neck-bones, or "vertebræ," are all fused
into one solid piece not longer than a single ordinary vertebra, and
showing six grooves marking off the seven vertebræ which have united
into one.

The head is more strangely altered than any other part of the whale.
The jaws are greatly elongated--so as to give a beak-like form in
all--but this region is specially long and narrow in the "beaked
whales" known to zoologists by the name Ziphius, in which it consists
of a solid piece of ivory-like bone, which we find in a fossil state
in the bone-bed of the Suffolk Crag. Farther back the bones of the
face are suddenly widened in all whales and porpoises, and in many
these bones grow up into enormous crests and ridges. The nostrils,
instead of being placed, as in other animals, at the free end of the
snout or beak, lie far back, so as to form the "blow-hole," which is
near the middle of the head.

The circulation of the blood and the breathing of whales (including in
that term the smaller kinds known as dolphins and porpoises) is still
a matter which is not properly understood. When a Greenland whale is
struck by the harpoon it dives vertically downward to a depth of 400
fathoms and more (nearly half a mile), and occasionally wounds the
skin and bones of its snout by violently striking it on the
sea-bottom. It remains below as long as forty minutes. Physiologists
wish to know how the sudden compression of the air in the lungs in
plunging to this depth and the equally sudden expansion of it in
rising from such a depth is dealt with in the whale's economy, so as
to prevent the absolutely deadly results which would ensue were any
ordinary air-breathing animal subjected to such changes of pressure.
Man can endure without suffering an increase of pressure of the gases
in his body amounting to three or four times that to which he is
accustomed, as, for instance, when working in the compressed air of
"caissons." But the whale goes suddenly to a depth at which the
pressure is eighty times that at the surface! Then, too, man (and
other terrestrial animals), after being subjected (for instance, in a
caisson) to a pressure of four times that which exists on the free
surface of the earth, is liable to be killed by suddenly passing from
that high pressure into the ordinary air. The gases dissolved in his
blood expand like the gas in a bottle of soda-water when the cork is
drawn, and the bubbles interfere with the circulation of the blood in
the finer blood-vessels (of especial importance being those of the
brain and spinal cord), and the serious illness and the death of
workmen has frequently resulted from this cause. Accordingly, the men
who work in such "compressed atmospheres" are now made to pass slowly
through a series of three chambers, in each of which the pressure is
diminished and brought nearer to that of the normal atmosphere. By
spending twenty minutes in each chamber successively, the workman is
gradually brought to the pressure of the outer world, and his blood
prevented from "effervescing." But what must be the condition of the
gases in the blood of a whale which suddenly rises from 400 fathoms to
the surface? The whale suddenly goes, not from a pressure of four
times the normal ("four atmospheres," as it is called), but from
eighty times the normal, to the normal pressure.

Whales, and also seals, are provided with remarkable special networks
of blood-vessels in various parts of the body (called "retia
mirabilia" by the old anatomists,) and also with a thick layer of fat
under the skin, the "blubber" (some feet deep in a large whale), full
of blood-vessels. It has been suggested that these networks of
blood-vessels are related in some way both to the power of keeping
long (forty minutes!) under water without breathing, and also to the
freedom of these marine monsters from the deadly effects of rapid
passage from great to little gas-pressure. But it is only a
suggestion; no one has shown how the networks can act so as to effect
these results, and I am quite unable to say how they do so. Another
suggestion worth considering is that the whale completely empties the
gas out of its lungs by muscular compression of the body-wall before
diving, so that there is no gas left in the body to be acted on by the
increased pressure resulting from its sinking into deep water. I am
unable to deal with this puzzle myself, and I have not been able to
find any naturalist or physiologist who can throw light on the matter.

The toothed whales are nearer to the ancestral primitive whales than
are the whalebone whales. The latter are the more peculiar, and
specially adapted with their huge heads and mouths (a third the length
of the whole animal in the Greenland whale), and their palisades of
350 whalebone planks, some 12 ft. long, on each side of the mouth. I
may mention in parenthesis that, whilst whalebone has been largely
superseded by light steel in the making of umbrellas and corsets, its
value remains, or rather increases, on account of its being the only
material for making certain kinds of large brushes which are used in
cleaning machinery. The whalebone whales have, when first born, very
minute teeth hidden in their jaws; they disappear. Some of the toothed
whales have teeth only in the lower jaw (the cachalot), others (the
beaked whales, Ziphius, etc.) have only one pair or two pairs of
teeth. These are tusk-like, and placed in the lower jaw. Others (the
dolphins and porpoises) have very numerous peg-like teeth in each jaw.
Some of them feed on fish, pursuing the shoals of fish in parties or
"schools."

A truly terrible toothed whale is the large porpoise called the killer
(known to zoologists as _Orca gladiator_). He is the wolf of the sea,
far more active and formidable than any shark, about 10 ft. long, and
strangely marked in black, white, and yellow. He has jaws bigger than
those of the largest Mugger crocodile, and a tremendous array of
fang-like teeth. These killers hunt the Right (or whalebone) whales in
all parts of the world, in parties of three to twelve. They hang on to
the lips of their enormous "quarry," and once they get a hold, in
twenty minutes tear it into pieces. Often they satisfy themselves with
tearing out and devouring the gigantic tongue of their victim, leaving
the carcase untouched.

The narwhal and the white whale, or Beluga, which furnishes
"porpoise-hide" for boots and laces, are both caught in northern seas,
and form a closely allied pair, similar to one another in shape and
colour (the one white, the other grey), and of moderate size, about 12
ft. long. They both feed on cuttle-fish and minute shrimps, but the
Beluga has many teeth and the narwhal (with the exception of some
rudimentary ones) only a single pair, and these in the front of the
upper jaw. In the female narwhal their pair of teeth remain
permanently concealed in the jaw bone, and so does the right side one
of the male. But the left side tooth of the male grows to an enormous
size, projecting horizontally in front of the narwhal to a length of
seven or eight feet. It is a powerful weapon, and is formed of ivory
spirally grooved on the surface. The narwhal was called "the unicorn
fish" or "Monoceras" in ancient times, and its spirally marked tooth
was confused with the horn of the terrestrial unicorn--the rhinoceros.
Very rarely the right tooth of the male narwhal grows to full size
side by side with the left tooth. A specimen showing this
double-toothed condition is in the Natural History Museum. A most
curious fact, quite unexplained as yet, is that the spiral grooving on
both the teeth turns in the same direction; in both it is like a
spiral staircase in mounting which (starting from the base implanted
in the jaw) you continually turn to the right. Now, in all other
animal structures which have a spiral growth and are paired--one
belonging to the right side of the animal, the other to the left, as,
for instance, the spirally marked horns of antelopes and the more
loosely coiled horns of sheep and cattle--one of the pair forms a
right-handed and the other a left-handed spiral. They are
"complementary"; one is the reflection, as in a mirror, of the other.
Why the narwhal's tooth does not conform to this rule is a mystery.

It is a remarkable fact that only a few whales and porpoises eat fish
or the flesh of other whales. The large toothed-whales, including the
cachalot or sperm whale, and also the Ziphius-like beaked whales, live
upon cuttle-fish. And it seems that they know where to hunt for this
special article of diet and how to find it in quantity (probably at
great depths in the ocean), which naturalists do not. Many new kinds
of cuttle-fish have been discovered by examining the contents of the
stomach of captured whales. The sperm whale feeds on monster squid
and poulp such as we rarely, if ever, see alive or washed up on the
shore. The hide of these cuttle-fish-eating whales and porpoises is
scratched and scarred by the hooks attached to the suckers on the arms
of the great cuttle-fish, and a test of the genuine character of
ambergris which forms as a concretion in the intestine of the
sperm-whale is that it contains fragments of the horny beaks and hooks
of the cuttle-fish digested by the whale. The food of the whalebone
whales consists of minute crustacea and of the little floating
molluscs known as _Clio borealis_, as big as the last joint of one's
little finger, which float by millions in the Arctic Ocean. The
whalebone whales, after letting their huge mouths fill with the
sea-water in which these creatures are floating, squeeze it out
through the strainer formed by the whalebone palisade on each side--by
raising the tongue and floor of the mouth. The water passes out
through the strainer, and the nourishing morsels remain.

Some fossil jaws and skulls of whales from miocene and older tertiary
strata are known which tend to connect the toothed whales with those
mammals not modified for marine life. But the approach in that
direction does not go very far. The extinct whales called Squalodon
have tusk-like front teeth and molars which have the outline of a leaf
with a coarsely "serrated" edge. The bones of the face are also, in
them, more like those of an ordinary mammal than is the case with
modern toothed whales. The snout is not so long, and the bones which
form it are a little more like those of a fox's snout than are those
of the dolphin's "beak." But on the whole it is astonishing how little
we know of fossil whales. We have yet to discover ancestral forms
possessing small hind legs, but whale-like in other features. Some day
a lucky "fossil-hunter" will come upon the remains of a series of
whale-ancestors probably of Eocene age, and we shall know the steps by
which a quadruped was changed into a cetacean--just as we have
recently learned the history of the development of elephants. We know
even less about the ancestry of bats and the steps by which they
acquired their wings than we do about the history of whales. These
discoveries await future generations of men when "cuttings" and "pits"
and quarries shall have been made in the rest of the earth's surface
to the same extent as they have been in Europe and in parts of the
American continent.



CHAPTER XXVII

MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT SCIENCE


I submit, as the final chapter of this little volume of miscellaneous
diversions, a few words intended to meet what has become a recurrent
misrepresentation and absurdity for which the annual congress of the
British Association for the Advancement of Science furnishes the
opportunity. Glib writers in various journals regularly seize this
occasion to pour forth their lamentations concerning the incapacity of
"science" and the disappointment which they experience in finding that
it does not do what it never professed to do. They deplore that those
engaged in the making of that new knowledge of nature which we call
"science" do not discover things which they never set out to discover
or thought it possible to discover, although the glib gentlemen who
write, with a false assumption of knowledge, pretend that these things
are what the investigations of scientific inquirers are intended to
ascertain. We read, at that season of the year, articles upon "What
Scientists do not know" and "The Bankruptcy of Science," in which it
is pretended that the purpose of science is to solve the mystery, or,
as it has been called, the "riddle," of the universe, and it is
pointed out, with something like malicious satisfaction, that, to
judge by the proceedings of the congress of scientific investigators
just concluded, we are no nearer a solution of that mystery than men
were in the days of Aristotle: and it is added that false hopes have
been raised, and that matters which were once considered settled have
again passed into the melting-pot!

This kind of lamentation is not only (if I may use an expressive term)
"twaddle," but is injurious misrepresentation, dangerous to the
public welfare. The actual attitude of the investigators and makers of
new knowledge of nature is stated in a few words which I wrote ten
years ago: "The whole order of nature, including living and lifeless
matter--from man to gas--is a network of mechanism, the main features
and many details of which have been made more or less obvious to the
wondering intelligence of mankind by the labour and ingenuity of
scientific investigators. But no sane man has ever pretended, since
science became a definite body of doctrine, that we know or ever can
hope to know or conceive of the possibility of knowing, whence this
mechanism has come, why it is there, whither it is going, and what
there may or may not be beyond and beside it which our senses are
incapable of appreciating. These things are not 'explained' by science
and never can be."

So much for those who reproach science with the non-fulfilment of
their own unwarranted and perfectly gratuitous expectations.

When, however, having created in their readers' minds an unreasonable
sense of failure and a mistrust of science, such writers go on to make
use of the want of confidence thus produced, in order to throw doubt
upon the real conquests of science--the new knowledge actually made
and established by the investigators of the last century--it becomes
necessary to say a little more. The public is told by these false
witnesses that science has "dogmas," and that men of science are less
satisfied than they were with the "dogmas" of the last century.
Science has no dogmas; all its conclusions are open to revision by
experiment and demonstration, and are continually so revised. But
science takes no heed of empty assertion unaccompanied by evidence
which can be weighed and measured. "_Nullius in verba_" is the motto
of one of the most famous Societies for the promotion of the knowledge
of nature--the Royal Society of London.

It is especially in the area of biology--the knowledge of living
things--that the enemies of science make their most audacious
attempts to discredit well-ascertained facts and conclusions. They
tell their readers that those greater problems of the science (as they
erroneously term them), such as the nature of variation among
individuals, the laws of heredity, the nature of growth and
reproduction, the peculiarities of sex, the characteristics of habits,
instinct, and intelligence, and the meaning of life itself, have
advanced very little beyond the standpoint of the first and greatest
biologist, Aristotle. This statement is vague and indefinite; the
conclusion which it suggests is absolutely untrue. Aristotle knew next
to nothing about the mechanism of the processes in living things above
cited. At the present day we know an enormous amount about it in
detail. But when men of science are told that they do not know the
"nature" of this and the "meaning" of that, they frankly admit that
they do not know the real "nature" (for the expression is capable of
endless variety of significance) of anything nor the real "meaning"
not only of life, but of the existence of the universe, and they say,
moreover, that they have no intention or expectation of knowing the
ultimate "nature" or the ultimate "meaning" (in a philosophical sense)
of any such things. These are not problems of science--and it is
misleading and injurious to pretend that they are.

I recently read an essay in which the writer is good enough to say
that, owing to the work of Darwin, the fact that the differences which
we see between organisms have been reached by a gradual evolution, is
not now disputed. That, at any rate, seems to be a solid achievement.
But he went on to declare that when we inquire by what method this
evolution was brought about biologists can return no answer. That
appears to me to be a most extraordinary perversion of the truth. The
reason why the gradual evolution of the various kinds of organisms is
not now disputed is that Darwin showed the method by which that
evolution can and must be brought about. So far from "returning no
answer," Darwin and succeeding generations of biologists do return a
very full answer to the question, "By what method has organic
evolution been brought about?" Our misleading writer proceeds as
follows: "The Darwinian theory of natural selection acting on minute
differences is generally considered nowadays to be inadequate, but no
alternative theory has taken its place." This is an entirely erroneous
statement. Though Darwin held that natural selection acted most widely
and largely on minute differences, he did not suppose that its
operation was confined to them, and he considered and gave importance
to a number of other characteristics of organisms which have an
important part in the process of organic evolution. The assertion that
the theory of natural selection as left by Darwin "is now generally
held to be inadequate" is fallacious. Darwin's conclusions on this
matter are generally held to be essentially true. It is obvious that
his argument is capable of further elaboration and development by
additional knowledge, and always was regarded as being so by its
author and by every other competent person. But that is a very
different thing from holding Darwin's theory of natural selection to
be "inadequate." It is adequate, because it furnishes the foundation
on which we build, and it is so solid, complete and far-reaching that
what has been added since Darwin's death is very small by comparison
with his original structure.

Lastly, we are told by the anonymous writer already quoted that at the
present time discussion is chiefly concentrated on the question as to
whether life is dependent only on the physical and chemical properties
of the living substance, protoplasm, or whether there is at work an
independent vital principle which sharply separates living from
non-living matter! And the obvious and common-place conclusion is
announced that "the ultimate problems of biology are as inscrutable as
of old." All ultimate problems are, I admit, inscrutable. It is, on
the other hand, the business, and has been the glory and triumph, of
science, to examine and solve problems which are scrutable! It is
certainly not the case that, at the present time, discussion is
concentrated on the question of the existence of a vital principle.
There is absolutely no discussion in progress on the subject. No one
even knows or attempts to state what is meant by "a vital principle."
It is a phrase which belongs to "the dead past," when men of science
had not discovered that you get no nearer to understanding a difficult
subject by inventing a name to cover your ignorance. Thirty-five years
ago the word "vitality" was used as some few philosophising writers
are now using the term "vital principle." Huxley at that time attacked
the views of Dr. Lionel Beale, who called in the aid of a mystical
"principle," which he named "vitality," in order to "account for" some
of the remarkable properties of protoplasm. As Huxley pointed out,
this supposed principle "accounted for" nothing, since it was merely a
name for the phenomena for which it was supposed to account. Huxley
pointed out that many chemical compounds have remarkable
properties--as assuredly have the chemical compounds which are present
in protoplasm--but men of science have not found it to help them in
investigating the mechanism of those properties to ascribe them to
mystical intangible "principles" differing from the agencies at work
in other less exceptional substances.

Thus, for instance, water, though a very common and abundant chemical
compound formed by the union of two chemical elements, hydrogen and
oxygen, which, at the temperature and pressure of the earth's surface,
are gaseous, offers many strange properties to our consideration not
shared by other compounds of gaseous elements. For instance, hydrogen,
when it combines with gaseous elements other than oxygen, does not
form a compound which is liquid at the temperature and pressure of the
earth's surface. Its combinations with nitrogen, with chlorine, with
fluorine, and even some with the solid element carbon, are under those
conditions gaseous. What a special character, therefore, has water!
Moreover, water, though a liquid, yet behaves in a most peculiar way
when either cooled below ordinary temperatures or heated above them.
It becomes solid when cooled, but expands at the same time, so that it
is less dense when solid than when liquid--a most unusual proceeding!
And when heated it is converted into vapour, but with a loss or
"making latent" of heat, which, like its behaviour when solidifying,
indicates that water is endowed with a very peculiar structure or
mechanism in the putting together of its molecules. We might call
these combined peculiarities of water "aquosity," and as we certainly
cannot say why water should possess the lot of them, whilst other
compounds of either hydrogen or of oxygen, or, in fact, of any other
elements, do not possess this combination, we might say that their
presence is due to "the aqueous principle," or "aquosity," which
enters into water when it is formed, but does not exist in other
natural bodies, and, indeed, "sharply separates aqueous from
non-aqueous matter."

Happily, though such a view would have been considered high philosophy
200 years ago, no one is deluded at the present day into the belief
that by calling the remarkable properties of water "aquosity" you have
added anything to our knowledge of them. Yet those who invoke "a vital
principle" or "vitality" in connection with protoplasm should, if they
were consistent, apply their method to the mystery of water. Let us
see how it would run. Though we may (the "vitalists" or "aquosists"
would say) experiment with water, determine exactly the temperature
and pressure at which these remarkable phenomena are exhibited, though
we may determine its surface tension and its crystalline form, and
even though we may weigh exactly the proportion of hydrogen to oxygen
in its composition, yet when we look at a drop of water, there it is,
a wonder of wonders, endowed with "aquosity," the ultimate nature of
which is as inscrutable now as it was to Aristotle! It is perfectly
true (we concede to the "aquosists") that the properties of water are
not accounted for by science; that is to say that, though we can
imagine the molecular and atomic mechanism necessary for their
exhibition, we cannot offer any suggestion as to how it is that that
particular mechanism is present in the chemical compound which the
chemist denotes as H_{2}O, and is not present in other compounds,
still less can we say "why" these remarkable properties are
present--that is to say, for what purpose, although we know that if
they were not present the whole history and economy of our globe would
be utterly different from what it is. Nevertheless, in spite of their
ignorance about the real nature of water, men of science do not invent
an "aqueous principle" or "aquosity" with the notion of "explaining"
water. And I have yet to hear of any duly trained and qualified
biologist who is prepared at the present moment to maintain the
existence of a "vital principle," or of a force to be called
"vitality," supposed to be something different in character and
quality from the recognised physical forces, and having its existence
alongside, yet apart from, the manifestations of those forces.

Lord Justice Fletcher Moulton recently said: "The advance in science
takes the workers in science more and more beyond the ken of the
ordinary public, and their work grows to be a little understood and
much misunderstood; and I have felt that, as in many other cases, the
need would come for interpreters between those who are carrying on
scientific research and the public, in order to explain and justify
their work." Probably everyone will agree with the Lord Justice: but
what are we to say of those responsible owners of great journals who
not only abstain from providing such interpretation but allow
anonymous and incompetent writers to mislead the public? Is the
literary critic of a prosperous journal employed to write the City
article?

There has been a repetition this year (1912) of the usual
misrepresentation on the occasion of the meeting of the British
Association. The President, Professor Schäfer, had let it be known
that his address would be concerned with the chemistry of living
processes, the gradual passage of chemical combinations into the
condition which we call "living," and the possibility of bringing
about this passage in the chemical laboratory without the use of
materials already elaborated by previously existing "living" material.
The announcement was immediately made in some "newspapers" that
"startling revelations" were to be made by the President, that he was
"to throw a bomb-shell" into the camp, etc. He did nothing of the
kind. He gave an admirable and clear statement of the progress during
recent years towards the realisation of the construction in the
laboratory by chemical methods of the complex chemical combination
which exhibits those "activities"--essentially movements, unions,
disruptions and re-unions of extremely minute particles--which we call
"living." The conclusion that such a gradual building up has taken
place in past ages of the history of our earth was formulated more
than forty years ago by Spencer, Tyndall, Huxley, Haeckel, and others,
and has not been seriously attacked in the interval, but, on the
contrary, generally accepted as a legitimate inference from the facts
ascertained and the theory of the evolution or gradual development of
what we call the material universe.

Professor Schäfer expressed the opinion, anticipated and shared by
many other investigators, that the progress of chemical experiment
renders it probable that further steps, culminating in the successful
construction of "living" matter in the laboratory, are not beset by
any insurmountable obstacles and will sooner or later be accomplished.
There was no "bomb-shell" in this statement, and no excitement as its
result among scientific workers nor amongst those who do not neglect
to study the writings of the "interpreters" desired by Lord Justice
Moulton. There are still some such interpreters carrying on the work
of Huxley and of Tyndall, those great interpreters whose writings
should be studied and treasured as classics.

The most interesting result of the attempt to treat the discussions
at Dundee as a newspaper "sensation," comparable to the reports
relating to motor-car bandits or the pronouncements of political
factions, has been its complete failure. Serious thinkers of all
schools seem to have adjusted themselves to the more modern way of
regarding natural processes even when these relate to matters of such
age-long interest to mankind as the inception of "living" organisms
and of conscious humanity itself. There are fewer now than there were
forty years ago who insist on the older barbaric "explanations" of
these marvels. Few indeed venture to assert the existence of
"spirits"--ghostly essences of various grades and capacities which
enter the bodies of living things and escape from them like so much
gas when they die.[10] The vegetable soul, the animal soul and the
human soul are no longer imagined and described to us as definite
"things" supposed to "explain" the complex processes which go on
respectively in plants, animals and men.

Seventy years ago the facts which were known as to that changing state
of material substances which we describe by the words "hot" and
"cold," were held to be "explained" by the existence of a ghostly
thing called "caloric," which was believed to enter various bodies and
make them hot and then to escape from them and so make them cold.
Primitive man multiplied such ways of explaining each and every
process going on in the world around him and in himself. Mere words or
names lost their first simple signification and acquired permanent
association with imaginary spirits, demons, and haunting intangible
ghosts, by reference to which our ancestors in their earliest
"reasoning" explained to their own satisfaction the strange and sudden
events fraught to them with the daily experience of pain or pleasure.
The whole world was held by them to be "bewitched," and it was only by
slow and painful steps that some knowledge of the persistent order of
Nature was obtained, whilst the phantastic imagery which had served in
its place, bit by bit disappeared. "Caloric" was a late lingerer, and
was only got rid of when what had been so called was shown to be a
vibration of particles--a mode or kind of motion--a "state," and not a
mysterious fluid existing as a thing in itself.

Just as "caloric" no longer serves and is no longer possible as the
supposed "explanation" of the behaviour of bodies in the hot or the
cold state, so we no longer require the supposition of "spirits" of
one kind or another as "explanations" of the living state of those
products of our mother earth which are called plants, animals and men.
In neither case do such "spirits" really "explain" the state in
question; they are only names for the activity which it was imagined
that they served to explain. These states or affections of matter
remain as wonderful and important to us as they were before. But by
giving up the prehistoric notions about them which have been handed on
until the present day we can think of them in a more satisfactory
way--a way which avoids the multiplication of unnecessary imaginary
agencies and the conception of an intermittent and hesitating Creative
Power, and substitutes for it the operation of continuous orderly and
preordained forces.

It is true that we can neither ascertain nor imagine either the
beginning or the end of the orderly process which we discover in
operation to-day. We can trace it back by well-established inference
into a remote past, but a beginning of it is not within the
possibilities of human thought. We can, with reasonable probability of
being correct, foretell the changes and developments which time will
bring in many combinations and dispositions which are the
manifestations of that process at this moment of time, but we cannot
even think of a cessation of that process.

Should we ask, "Why does this process exist?" there is no answer.
Nature does not reply; an awful silence meets our inquiry. The
reproach is often urged against science--the knowledge of the order of
nature--that it does not tell us "why we are here." Man inevitably
desires to know why he is here; but "science," as that word is now
understood, does not profess or even seek to answer that question,
although the false hope has been raised in ignorant minds, sometimes
by knavery, sometimes by honest delusion, that it could do so. By
knowledge of nature mankind can escape much suffering and gain the
highest happiness, but that is all that we can hope for from it. We
shall never satisfy our curiosity; we shall never know in the same way
as we know the order of nature, why--to what end, for what
purpose--that order and not another order exists.

It is very generally supposed that it is the business and profession
of science "to explain" things--that is to say, to show how this or
that must and does come about in consequence of the operation of the
great general properties of matter, known as the "laws" of chemistry
and physics. This is true enough, but it is equally the work of
science to assert that of many things for which mankind demands "an
explanation," there is no explanation. It is further the work and the
service of science to destroy and to remove from men's minds the
baseless and pretended "explanations" which are no explanations but
causes of error, blindness, and suffering.

Science, the destroyer of "explanations," is the purifier of the human
mind, its cleanser from the crippling infection of prehistoric error
and from domination by the terrifying nightmares of our half-animal
ancestry.

Finally, in reference to the very ancient attempt to "explain" life
and consciousness by the assertion that they are due to "spirits"
which enter the bodies of animals and men, I must caution the reader
against supposing that--for those who do not accept the belief that
such spirits exist--the gravity and mystery of the manifestations of
life and consciousness are in any way lessened. Those who reject the
belief in "spirits" do not in consequence reject the ethical and moral
doctrines which have too long been rendered "suspect" by the shadow
cast over them by ancient superstition. The disappearance of that
shadow will reveal friends where enemies were supposed to be
entrenched.

At the meeting of the British Association in 1879 I delivered an
address on "Degeneration: a Chapter in Darwinism." In the printed
version of that address, published in the same year, there are some
statements bearing on the matter above discussed which I reproduce
here, since I can still make them with conviction.

"Assuredly it cannot lower our conception of man's dignity if we have
to regard him as 'the flower of all the ages' bursting from the great
stream of life which has flowed on through countless epochs with one
increasing purpose, rather than as an isolated miraculous being, put
together abnormally from elemental clay, and cut off by such
portentous origin from his fellow animals and from that gracious
nature to whom he yearns with filial instinct, knowing her, in spite
of fables, to be his dear mother."

"A certain number of thoughtful persons admit the development of man's
body by natural processes from ape-like ancestry, but believe in the
non-natural intervention of a Creator at a certain definite stage in
that development, in order to introduce into the animal which was at
that moment a man-like ape, something called 'a conscious soul' in
virtue of which he became an ape-like man."

"No one ventures to deny, at the present day, that every human being
grows from the egg _in utero_, just as a dog or a monkey does; the
facts are before us and can be scrutinised in detail. We may ask of
those who refuse to admit the gradual and natural development of man's
consciousness in the ancestral series, passing from ape-like forms
into indubitable man, 'How do you propose to divide the series
presented by every individual man in his growth from the egg? At what
particular phase in the embryonic series is the soul with its
consciousness implanted? Is it in the egg? in the foetus of this
month or that? in the new-born infant? or at five years of age?' This,
it is notorious, is a point upon which churches have never been able
to agree; and it is equally notorious that the unbroken series
exists--that the egg becomes the foetus, the foetus the child, and
the child the man. On the other hand we have the historical
series--the series, the existence of which is inferred by Darwin and
his adherents. This is a series leading from simple egg-like organisms
to ape-like creatures, and from these to man. Will those who cannot
answer our previous inquiries undertake to assert dogmatically in the
present case at what point in the historical series there is a break
or division? At what step are we to be asked to suppose that the order
of nature was stopped, and a non-natural soul introduced?... The
theologian is content in the case of individual development of the egg
to admit the fact of individual evolution, and to make assumptions
which lie altogether outside the region of scientific inquiry. So,
too, it would seem only reasonable that he should deal with the
historical series, and frankly accept the natural evolution of man
from lower animals, declaring dogmatically, if he so please, but not
as an inference of the same order as are the inferences of science,
that something called the soul arrived at any point in the series
which he may think suitable. At the same time, it would appear to be
sufficient even for the purposes of the theologian, to hold that
whatever the two above-mentioned series of living thing contain or
imply, they do so as the result of a natural and uniform process of
development, that there has been one 'miracle' once and for all
time....

"The difficulties which the theologian has to meet when he is called
upon to give some account of the origin and nature of the soul
certainly cannot be said to have been increased by the establishment
of the Darwinian theory. For from the earliest days of the Church,
ingenious speculation has been lavished on the subject.

"St. Augustine says (I give a translation of the Latin original):
'With regard to the four following opinions concerning the soul--viz.
(1) whether souls are handed on from parent to child by propagation;
or (2) are suddenly created in individuals at birth; or (3) existing
already elsewhere are divinely sent into the bodies of the new-born;
or (4) slip into them of their own motion--it is undesirable for
anyone to make a rash pronouncement, since up to the present time the
question has never been discussed and decided by catholic writers of
holy books on account of its obscurity and perplexity--or, if it has
been dealt with, no such treatises have hitherto come into my hands.'"

There must be many who will be glad to shake off the illusion of
explanation which is no explanation, and to escape from the futile
discussion of the possible behaviour of spirits and ghosts born in the
dreams of primæval savages. They will gladly accept the conclusion
that the marvellous qualities and activities of living things and that
inscrutable wonder, the mind of man, are outcomes of the orderly
process of Nature no less than are the miracles which we call a
buttercup, a rock crystal, a glacier, the noon-day sun! We can trace,
by observation and inference, the orderly growth and development of
these things from simpler things; we can discover continuity and
common properties determining their diverse existence. But we find no
explanation of them; we cannot account for the properties of matter
which determine them, nor for the existence of anything--whether it be
a drop of water, or human thought and consciousness. There are no
special and exceptional "incomprehensibles" requiring us to assume
that special "principles" or "spirits" are concerned with them whilst
the rest are to be accounted for and explained in a more general way.
Wherever we push our inquiries we come equally and inevitably, as did
primæval man, to that of which there is no explanation--the perpetual
miracle, the miracle of the nature of things, of existence itself. The
man of science bows his head in the presence of this all-pervading
mystery. He is called arrogant by those who arrogate to themselves the
right to "explain" things and to deal in vital spirits and
metaphysical nostrums for that purpose. From time to time they fill
with their proclamations the great silence which he has learnt to
accept with reverence and humility. As the years roll on their hollow
phrases are less frequent, and acquire the pathetic interest which
belongs to all such decaying remnants of the thought and effort of the
childhood of man.

It seems still to be necessary to insist that it is not reasonable to
assume as an indisputable fact that man can arrive at an "explanation"
of existence and the nature of things. This assumption has been made
in the past, and, by a well-known trick of advocacy, it has been
argued that since science fails to "explain" these things, the old
prehistoric fancies as to spirits--even though they "explain" nothing
and have themselves to be "explained"--hold the field and must be
accepted as true. There is an alternative, and that is to admit our
ignorance. No man has ever seen or knows what is on the other side of
the moon, that which does not face our earth. There are few amongst us
who, in this admitted and complete state of ignorance, would persist
in declaring that we must accept as true the suppositions of ancient
races of men as to the existence there of men-like creatures, or would
be deluded by the argument that since we do not know what is there the
suppositions in question must be accepted as true. We cannot, as a
matter of observation, assert that these supposed beings are not
there, but we can find no reason to make it appear even probable, nor
any means of proving by experiment, that they are. We refuse to
entertain such suppositions.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 10: This subject is discussed and some account of the
chemical nature of protoplasm given in my book, "Science from an Easy
Chair" (Methuen, 1910), which consists of a first series of papers
similar to those which are collected in the present volume as a
"Second Series." The chapters in the earlier volume to which I wish to
direct the reader's attention are those entitled "The Universal
Structure of Living Things," "Protoplasm, Life and Death," "Chemistry
and Protoplasm," "The Simplest Living Things."]


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